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286

TRAVELLING IN CRIM TARTARY.

produce the best white wine of the country, called Risling; while the neighbourhood is famous for its Pineau fleuri, a red wine resembling Burgundy, which is made from a vine called Pineau. A beautiful white structure, towards the east, surmounted by two towers, proclaims the residence of prince Galitzin, whose assistance in missions entitles him to the gratitude of every lover of that cause; and next to this is the cottage of the princess Metchersky, who is said to have distributed more bibles than any other female in Eu- . rope. After passing several country seats, all built within the last seven years, and the imperial gardens of Oreanda, the private property of the emperor, we landed at Yalta, a village on the south-east point of the Crimea, having accomplished four hundred and sixty versts, or three hundred and six English miles, in twenty-seven hours.

The usual mode of travelling in this country is on horseback. Horses are either supplied at the post stations, or hired from the Tartars; those of the country are fleet and sure-footed, accustomed to long journeys and bad roads; but the saddles are uneasy : they consist of a thick cushion fastened on the horse's back by a leather thong, which is

SADDLES. -ALOUPKA.

287

pulled tight over its centre and passes under the animal's belly ; the space in which the rider is supposed to sit is thus limited to the width of the thong, perhaps two inches; so that he is necessarily perched on the two hard projec, tions of the cushion in front and behind; and, with each step of the horse, falls on one or the other.

We were soon mounted, and our guide followed with a pair of saddle-bags, while we pursued the road for fifteen versts across the tops of the mountains under which we had sailed in the morning. On our arrival at Aloupka, we were hospitably received and housed by an Englishman employed to superintend the building of a mansion of no ordinary splendor, which count Woronzow is erecting in that place : the upper and lower gardens surrounding it are tastily laid out by the countess among rocks once covered with wood, but now forming romantic glens, interspersed with flowers, fountains, shrubberies, and wild masses of the native limestone. Walnut, beech, oak, and all the trees of northern Europe here blend with the olive, the fig, and the cypress, growing luxuriantly on every side; while the diosperos lotus, of which only one specimen is known in England, is seen

288

COUNT WORONZOW'S ESTATE.

in great abundance as a very large tree, and the mountain ash produces a pleasant fruit, much prized by the Tartars, which is gathered in September and suspended under shelter till January or February, when it is eaten, like the medlar, in a half-rotten state. In the upper garden is a circular pit supposed to have been the original crater of a volcano, as its sides are covered with large masses of stone evidently thrown into their present positions by volcanic agency. In one part, a grotto is formed by adjacent and superincumbent rocks; in another, basins of clear water are made to reflect the beauties of the surrounding hills ; and in a third, parterres of flowers are varied with fountains and jets d'eau, gratifying the eye and cooling the air; while the tout ensemble almost answers the description given by Fenelon of the residence of Calypso. Between the two gardens stands the new house, which, when finished, will be unique. It presents to the sea a front of nine hundred feet: in the centre is a magnificent open saloon surmounted by a dome, and about to be decorated by a fountain, while another of these elegant and luxurious ornaments adorns the state drawingroom, which is united to the body of the house

TIIE MOUNTAINS.

289 by an orangery, and corresponds with a library forming the opposite wing. The exterior is entirely gothic, and the work is proceeding under the superintendence of an English architect who has an able agent on the spot.

It was past mid-day before we could escape from the fascinations of a place which nature has adapted, and taste formed, to be a little terrestrial paradise. For ten versts we climbed the rugged steeps of the mountains rising behind Aloupka to a height of three thousand feet; and then, for a similar distance, we descended on the opposite side to the Tartar village of Kokoz. The slopes are covered with forests; the track barely suffices to indicate the way; and none but horses accustomed to such difficulties would venture on the precipitous ascents and descents which here alternate with each other. A few Tartar mountaineers who make their fires under the trees, consuming half the trunks and thus securing the easy fall of the remainder which they convert into firewood, were the only persons we encountered. One of their children, whom we chanced to meet, ran terrified away, as though he had seen a monster; and being in a narrow defile, whence he could not escape, he fled before our horses, keeping ahead of them

290

THE TARTARS.

at a brisk trot, and crying lustily, for several minutes.

It was near sunset when we reached the village which is something less than half-way to Bagtcheserai. A number of Tartars were standing outside their doors opposite a little mosque, awaiting the summons to their vespers. They greeted us with looks of kindness, and our mutual ignorance of a common tongue forbade further communication ; but the language of the countenance and manner is the same in every country. One took a pipe out of his mouth and offered it as a token of good will; while another presented a large slice of watermelon on which he was making his simple repast. In one corner, a group of women were discussing the travellers, who were equally attracted by the novelty of their appearance. Long white veils, covering the whole of the upper part of the body, were drawn over their faces and held between the teeth, but left sufficiently open to disclose a fair complexion and dark eyes bordered with antimony. The men wore loose blue trowsers and a shirt of similar color, with a light jacket, for which they substitute a fur cloak in cold weather. A sheep-skin cap or a high turban covered their heads, which were shaven with the exception of a small portion

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