Samuel M. (Samuel Mosheim) Smucker.

The life and reign of Nicholas the First, emperor of Russia online

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He is High- Admiral of the Russian fleets. In per-
son he is short and stout ; his countenance is indica-
tive of his disposition, and his whole personal ap-.
pearance is devoid of attractive or pleasing qualities.
The present empress, wife of Alexander H., is dis-
tinguished for her beauty, amiability, and accom-
plishments. She is beloved, not only by her hus-
band, but by her husband's brothers, the grand
dukes; and by none of them more than by the
savage Constantine himself. The latter is said to
have recently proposed to the czar a most dangerous
and desperate expedition. It was none other than
that he should arm and equip the whole fleet of
Cronstadt, and sail to the attack of London. He
proposed that he should burn and destroy the capi-
tal of the British empire by one sudden and tre-
mendous coup-de-main, and thus "carry the war into
Africa." The calm good sense of the empress dis-
cerned the destructive peril of this proposition ; and
though it was urged with the utmost vehemence by
Constantine, her benignant influence over the czar
succeeded in defeating his attainment of the ap-


proval and permission of the sovereign. Constan-
tine, like his uncle, has been made familiar with the
laws, the government, the resources, and even the
language, of Turkey; in the expectation that, at
some future period, he may be called upon to realize
in his person the ambitious purpose of the Romanoff
dynasty, that one of its members may yet, in time
4o come, sit upon the throne of the Constantines,
and wield the sceptre of the Ottoman sovereigns.

At a subsequent period, the Russians, under
General Mouravieff, having received large rein-
forcements of troops, renewed their attack on the
fortress and city of Kars. The vast importance
of this place called forth the utmost exertions of
the assailants. The result, in this instance, was
more favourable to the Russians; for the garrison
capitulated, after a desperate and bloody conflict,
which continued for some weeks. And it is but
just to observe, that the extremes of famine and
suffering", much more than the valour of the Rus-
sians, or the skill of their commander, Mouravieff,
contributed to the fall and capture of this fortress.
For nearly a month previous to this event, the
heroic garrison had endured the utmost distress,
verging upon starvation itself. The whole country
around was filled with Russian detachments, which
cut off every possibility of relief. Sixteen thousand


troops, one hundred and twenty field-pieces, and
nine pachas, became the trophies of the successful

This general is one of the ablest and most distin-
guished officers engaged in the Russian service.
He was born in 1793 ; entered the military career
as officer of the general staff; then served in the
Caucasus, and was sent by General Yermoloff to
Khiva. On his return he published a narrative,
throwing the first light which illumined that hitherto
unknown region. In the Persian campaign of 1828,
he commanded a brigade under Paskiewitch, and
distinguished himself at Akaltsik and Kars, then
taken by storm. In the Polish campaign of 1831,
he likewise fought with much distinction, and as a
lieutenant-general, headed the right wing at the
storming of Warsaw. Toward the end of 1832, he
was sent as plenipotentiary to Mehemed Ali, in
order to bring the Egyptian prince to peaceful terms
in his conflict with the Porte. The mediation was
unsuccessful. Ibrahim Pacha, son of Ali, being
victorious over the Turks near Konieh, advanced
toward Constantinople ; and Mouravieff then took
the command of the Russian troops, who landed on
the Asiatic side of the Bosphorus, and stopped the
progress of the ambitious vassal. In 1835, Moura-
vieff took command of the 5th corps of the army.


In 1838, he fell under the imperial displeasure, for
having, during a grand military manoeuvre or sham-
fight near St. Petersburg, where he commanded
one side, and the emperor the other, un courteously
made his master prisoner. Retiring from active
service, he either lived on his estate, or travelled in
Europe, travelling being the resort of Russian no-
blemen when in disgrace. In 1848, he was again
received into favour, and took command of the
corps of grenadiers, then considered the second best
in the Russian army. From this station, after the
resignation of Prince "Woronzoff in 1854, he was
transferred to the command of the Transcaucasiau
Russian possessions, and of the army in Asia.
Mouravieff unites in his person all the character-
istics of his family. He is energetic and stubborn,
and is considered by the scientific officers of the
army as an accomplished general ; indeed he is by
some regarded as the only Russian strategist. As a
political man, he is wholly imbued with the so-
called orthodox, ultra, old-Russian Muscovite ideas
and convictions.

After the capture of Ears, the Russians were
actively engaged in improving and enlarging the
fortifications of the north side of Sevastopol, until
they rival or excel, in strength and magnitude, those
which have been already won, by the desperate


valour of their foes, on the south. Nor has the
firing ceased, on the part of the Russians, upon the
position of the allies; but the fury and vigour of
their cannonading, from their present position, have
increased; and have not unfrequently recalled the
vivid memory of the most destructive conflicts
which occurred during the former siege.

And we regard the sentiment as both so im-
portant and so true, as to merit reiteration here :
that for all the varied events connected with the
war in the East; for the loss of myriads of human
lives ; for the poverty, deprivation, and gloom,
which have afflicted many nations; for the vast
amount of physical suffering which has been en-
dured; for the suspension of commerce; for the
derangement of finances; and for the desolation
of one of the fairest countries of Europe, man-
kind are indebted alone to the insatiable ambition
of Nicholas I. ; to his unscrupulous disregard of ex-
isting treaties; to his selfish inhumanity; and to
his fixed, though baffled, determination to set up
his despotic throne in the city of the sultan, in spite
of the remonstrance, or even the resistance, of seve-
ral of the most powerful nations of Christendom.



No. I.

ScfHAMYL was born in 1797, at the aul Himri, and was
therefore thirty-seven years of age when he became chief of
the Tshetshenzes. In early youth he was distinguished by
an unbending spirit, a serious uncommunicative manner, an
irrepressible thirst for knowledge, and an indomitable pride
and ambition. He frequently remained in seclusion for days
together; and the wise mullah, Djelal Eddin, managed to
inflame him in his enthusiasm in favour of the Koran. In-
structed in the prevailing doctrine of the Sefatians, he
awakened the slumbering passion in the bosom of his dis-
ciple, and prepared him for his great future. This education
had its fruits; and from the day when Schamyl became the
successor of Hamsed Bey,' all foreheads were abased before
the countenance of the master.

Schamyl is also the worthy head of the fiery sect whose
prophet he has been chosen. He is of middle growth, fair,
almost red-haired especially in his beard, where there are
also a few gray hairs, has gray eyes, a well-formed nose, and
a little mouth. A marble calmness, which least deserts him
in the hour of danger, governs his whole behaviour; and his
speech is totally free from excitement, whether conversing

* Extract from " Circassia," by Dr. Frederick Wagner : London, 1853.



with friend, foe, or traitor. He is convinced that his actions
are direct inspirations of God: he eais little, drinks water
only, sleeps but few hours, and passes all his leisure time in
reading the Koran, and in prayer; but when he speaks, he
has so says Berek Bey, the poet of Daghestan

" Lightnings in his eye, and on his lip, flowers."

He is, in fact, master in the highest degree of that Oriental
eloquence which is so fitted to rouse the sleeping souls of the
faithful ; and he manages to outbid the Russian generals in
their metaphorical language.

If the Russians say that they are numerous as the sands of
the sea, Schamyl replies that the Circassians are the waves
that wash away the sands.

At first, Schamyl resided in the little fortress of Achulko,
where he had himself a European house of two stories, con-
structed by Russian deserters and prisoners. At first his
government was so poor, that the soldiers had to supply him
with the means of existence; and yet religious enthusiasm
had rendered him as powerful as if he had possessed tons of
gold. His slightest word was sufficient, and his Murids were
ready to go to the death for him. None of the chiefs of
Daghestan before his time had wielded such authority. Even
Sheikh Mansoor, who carried the standard of revolt through
the whole of Circassia, the mighty hero, the high-minded
sower in the fertile field of faith, was only a famous and
dreaded warrior; but Schamyl is not only general and sultan
of the Tshetshenzes, but also their prophet; and since 1834,
Daghestan's war-cry is "Mahornmed was Allah's fi/st pro-
phet; Schamyl is his second."

Just at the time when General Grabbe thought he had
annihilated Schamyl's consequence as well as himself, by the
storming of Achulko, the power of the daring chief rose to its
height. Imagine the appearance of the prophet among the


tribes, just at the moment when the news of the total destruc-
tion of Achulko was rumoured abroad ! It was believed that
he lay buried under the ruins, and on a sudden he stood in
the midst of them, as if arisen from the dead ! His divine
mission was no longer doubted; and a victory could not have
made him more popular than this heroic defeat !

After the loss of Achulko, Schamyl determined to preach
the holy war to the Tcherkesses, and to incite them to join in
his resistance. A similar attempt which he had made in
1836 among the Avars that people of Daghestan so long
subjected to Russia had not succeeded. He had hoped to
bring about an alliance of the Caucasians of the Euxine with
those of the Caspian ; for the latter with the sole exception
of the Avars had all assembled under his flag, and formed a
single nation.

It would be possible to inflict a very severe blow upon the
Russians by such a co-operative union with the Tcherkesses.
Schamyl went to the Ubichs and the Adechs, and was re-
spectfully received, although without coming to any decided
result. The hatred of Russia is certainly a mighty tie
between the peoples on both sides of the Caucasus; but cen-
turies of petty dissensions between the various tribes have
loosened, this tie, and loosen it more and more every day. In
addition to this, there was another hindrance to the com-
munity of action which the brave chief was attempting to
bring about, in the variety of language which existed; and
Schamyl was only understood by the chiefs and mullahs, as
he could only preach the war in Turkish, and thus not give
his eloquence the power which he otherwise displays.

At length, especially after the great defeat of the Russians
at Dargo, the Tcherkesses of the Black Sea, fired by the
report of Schamyl's deeds, attempted on their part some
attacks upon the Russians, and frequently broke through the
lines of defence guarded by the Cossacks. They even took



four fortresses } but contented themselves with plundering,
and not garrisoning them. Three or four battles fought with
great skill by the Russians forced the Tcherkesses to retire,
and content themselves with a merely passive opposition.

When Prince Woronzoff undertook the command of' the
Caucasus, Schamyl was no longer the inconsiderable chieftain
that he was when in the train of Hamsad Bey. His power
was now enormous. The Avars, the Kists, the Kumucks, and
other tribes, were so carried away by the eloquence of the pro-
phet, that they forgot their ancient feuds to ally themselves
with the Lazes and Tschetchenzes. Formerly lord over a
few small tribes, he was now commander of a whole nation.
Of course it must be seen that to mature such a combination,
the most powerful efforts of a politic and experienced mind
must have been employed.

Schamyl, however, is not only a brave warrior, but also a
wise lawgiver; and it was necessary that he should be this, in
order to create and organize his nation : and to effect this it
was necessary to subdue the hereditary chiefs of the tribes, to
found a iheocratical monarchy amid the barbarianism of semi-
slavery, to spread the one faith in all hearts, to accustom
savage horsemen to regular tactics, and to institute enduring

And this he accomplished. The new doctrine he preached
befriended the sects of Omar and Ali : his victory dazzled the
sons of the mountains, and humbled the pride of their princes.
The races who once combined in a common war for their reli-
gion, were united by him under the same civil administration,
and the old territorial names disappeared.

At the present time the country under the government of
Schamyl is divided into twenty provinces, each under the
care of a naiib or governor. These na'ibs do not all posssess
equal power, but four only among them the nearest and
fastest friends of the prophet are regarded as the sovereign


commanders of their subjects; the others send in their de-
cisions for confirmation by the chief.

The organization of the army is a master-piece of acutely-
meditated precision, for it is constituted in a way calculated
and designed to render possible the utmost strictness of disci-
pline, without damping the natural warlike feelings of his
subjects. Every naib keeps 300 horsemen at the disposition
of the state; and the conscription is so conducted, that out
of every ten families one horseman is drawn, and that family
is free during his life from all taxes, while the other nine
have to furnish his outfit and sustenance.

This is the standing army. Besides this, there is a kind
of national guard or militia. All the male inhabitants of a
village are required to exercise from their fifteenth to their
thirtieth year in the use of arms and in riding. Their duty
is to defend their villages when they are attacked, but when
it is absolutely necessary they follow the prophet in his dis-
tant journeys. Every horseman of the line then commands
the ten families whose representative he is.

Hamsad Bey was the first person who formed a distinct
corps of Russian and Polish deserters, among whom there
were also a few officers. Schamyl has increased it to about
4000 strong of all nations, with many technical improvements.
But his body-guard consists of a thousand picked Murids, who
get somewhere about six shillings a month pay, and a propor-
tion of the booty. They are called murtosigates, and it is a
subject of emulation in the villages to, get an appointment in
this special body.

Schamyl, who is well acquainted with the fact that the
Oriental mind is overcome by magnificence, never moves from
his dwelling without a train of 500, although it has been said
that it is from the motive of safety as much as any thing, as
a portion of his empire is discontented with his system of


It need scarcely be said that Schamyl makes the most
effective use of the credulity of the mountain races. Every
time that an important expedition is about to be undertaken,
he retires to a grotto or a mosque, where he spends weeks in
fasting and communion with Allah. When he returns from
this solitude, he announces openly the result of intercommu-
nication with the Deity.

He has established posts throughout all Daghestan; for
state despatches every village is obliged to provide one or two
additional horses, and the messengers, who are furnished with
a pass signed and sealed by the district naiib, get over great
distances in almost fabulous time.

In his military arrangements he has so far imitated the
Russians as to institute orders, marks of honour, and distinc-
tions of rank. The leaders of 100 men, who signalize them-
selves in action, receive round silver medals, bearing appro-
priate poetical inscriptions ; the leaders of 300 men receive
three-cornered medals; and those of 500, silver epaulets.
Before 1842, sabres of honour, to be worn on the right side,
were the only marks of distinction distributed. Now the
leaders of 1000 receive the rank of captain, and those of a
larger number are generals. Cowards are distinguished by a
piece of baize on the arm or back.

At first, Schamyl' s income consisted only of the booty, of
which a fifth was the share of the chief, according to ancient
custom ; now, however, regular taxes are levied. The estates
which formerly were appropriated to the mosques, and only
benefited the priests and derveeshes, are now state property ;
the priests receive instead a regular stipend, while the der-
veeshes fitted for war are incorporated with the militia. The
useless members of that body were banished from Daghestan.

The most distinguished of the fellow-warriors of Schamyl
were Achwerdu Mohammed, Ahwail Mullah, and Uluboy


The punishment for civil as for military crimes, for theft,
murder, treachery, cowardice, and so on, are set down in a
code written by the prophet himself; and the punishment of
death is rendered more or less severe or degrading according
to a fixed ratio of delinquency.

Schamyl lives very moderately and soberly ; he eats little,
and only sleeps a few hours at a time, and at some seasons
especially when in a condition of religious enthusiasm not
for some days together. He has only three wives ; and his
favourite wife is an Armenian woman perhaps the cousin of
the Mosdok merchant, who, however, says he has only two.

How far Schamyl's fanaticism will go in its fearful conse-
quences, the following circumstances, related to a Russian
officer by one of the most intimate Murids of the Iniauni,
will show :

In the year 1843, the inhabitants of the Great- and Little
Tshetshna, pressed on all sides by the Russian troops, and left
helpless by the Laz communities, determined to send a de-
putation to Schamyl with the entreaty that he would either
send them a sufficient number of troops, not only to defend
themselves, but also to drive the Russians altogether out of
the Tshetshna, where they had erected Fort Wosdwischen-
skaja, and had seriously established themselves; or, if this
were not possible, to empower them to submit to the Russian
government, as all their means of resistance were at an end.

For a long time no one was found willing to undertake so
delicate a mission ; for to approach Schamyl with such a pro-
posal was to dare death itself. The Tshetshenzes were there-
fore forced to select their deputies by lot; and the lot fell
upon four inhabitants of the village of Gunoi. Their native
pride would not permit the Tshetshenzes to manifest the sen-
timent of fear, even when in the most imminent danger ; the
chosen band, therefore, undertook the mission without hesi-
tation, and promised the people to induce the Imauru either


to promise military assistance in their defence against the
Russians, or to allow them to submit to their formidable

The Gunojes departed on their journey with determined
courage; but the nearer they came to the aul Dargo, the
louder was the voice whispering of self-preservation, and the
stronger the light which showed the hazard of their enter-
prise. They took counsel several times among themselves
as to the best way they might begin the business, without,
however, coming to a decided issue, on which to build the
slightest fabric of hope. At last, the eldest of the deputies,
the experienced Tshetshenz Tepi, said, turning to his com-
panions : " You know that not only the people in general, but
even the Murids next to the mighty Imaum, dare not pro-
nounce the words, 'Submission to the giaours,' unpunished.
What, therefore, would be our fate if we dared to come before
the face of Schamyl with such words upon our lips ? He
would immediately command our tongues to be cut out, our
eyes to be blinded, or our heads to be cut off; and all this
would not benefit our nations in the least, but only desolate
our families. In order to avert certain destruction, and to
gain a portion of our desires, I have thought of a more
feasible plan."

Tepi's companions urged him to tell them this excellent

"As I have heard," continued Tepi, "there is only one
person who possesses undoubted influence over the Imaum,
and who dares to say before him that which would bring de-
struction over others ; this is his mother. My kunak (host)
Hassim Mullah, at Dargo, would gladly introduce us to her ;
especially if we present him with a portion of the money wo
have brought with us."

The other ambassadors were perfectly content with this pro-
posal, and empowered their comrade to do as he thought fit.


On their arrival in Dargo, they were hospitably received
by Tepi's kunak ; and Tepi made use of the first opportunity
to acquaint Hassim Mullah with the object of their mission,
and to entreat his co-operation in the proposed manner.

" What ! Do you think/' exclaimed Hassim Mullah, thrown
off his guard, "that I could be so dishonourable as to put my
hand to so wretched a business as a submission to the
giaours ?"

Tepi put his hand in his pocket, and allowed a handful of
gold-pieces to drop upon the carpet before him. Hassim
Mullah's countenance changed altogether in expression, and
he requested his friend to tell him the circumstance once
more, as he evidently had misunderstood them. At the
same time, he inquired how many pieces of gold he had

"Three hundred," replied Tepi. "All the tribe subscribed
together to make up this sum, to support our petition. Here
are seventy; the other two hundred and thirty we will pre-
sent to the khanum, if she succeed in obtaining her son's per-
mission for our submitting to the Russians."

"It is well," said Hassim Mullah. "I will speak with the
khanum, and hope to obtain for you what you desire, if you
are agreed to give two hundred only of your remaining gold
pieces to the khanum, and the other thirty to me."

The ambassadors were willing to enter into this arrange-
ment. Hassim Mullah went to the khanum, an aged woman,
much beloved on account of her charitable deeds, but who was
herself avaricious, and declared herself ready to speak with
her son about the matter, the danger of whicL. she did not,
however, conceal for one moment.

The same evening she entered her son's apartment, when,
Koran in hand, he was despatching the Murids who were
standing about him, with instructions to cause some other of
the tribes to revolt.


Notwithstanding this pressing business, however, from
which he was unwilling to be taken, he gave his mother the
audience she so urgently entreated, and went with her into a
room, where their conversation continued until past midnight.
It has never been accurately known what passed between
them; and when Hassim Mullah came to the khanum next
morning to hear what she had been able to do, he found her
pale, and with tears in her eyes.

"My son," she said, with a trembling voice, "dares not
himself to decide the question about the Tshetshenzes sub-
mitting to the Russians. He has therefore gone to the
mosque, to await the moment in fasting and prayer, when the
great Prophet with his own mouth will make his will known."

Schamyl had indeed shut himself up in the mosque, after
giving instructions that all the inhabitants of the Dargo should
assemble round the mosque, and await his return in prayer.

At this summons all the people assembled, and surrounded
the mosque with loud cries and prayers. But three days
passed; many of the pious sank under the want of sleep and
food, until at last the door opened, and Schamyl came forth,
pale and sorrowful. After whispering a few words to the
Murids next to him, he ascended the flat roof of the mosque,
several persons accompanying him.

Here he remained standing for some minutes, while all the
people looked up at him with anxious looks, and the deputies
from the Tshetshna scarcely dared to breathe.

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Online LibrarySamuel M. (Samuel Mosheim) SmuckerThe life and reign of Nicholas the First, emperor of Russia → online text (page 20 of 23)