- Armenian Literature, History, Religion in in Russian

Luigi Villari


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THE journey from Kutais to Tiflis takes about eight hours, through fine but not magnificent scenery. The green, fertile valleys of Western Georgia reminded me somewhat of Bosnia, although occasionally one has glimpses of far higher peaks than any in the “ Occupied Provinces.” The railway climbs painfully up the valley of the Rion, and then of the Kvirili over the Suram Pass to Mikhailovo, the watershed between the tributaries of the Rion and those of the Kura; it is the highest station on the line, and just before it is a long tunnel. A conduit pipe for the transport of naphtha has been laid between Batum and Baku ; but a considerable part of the traffic is still carried on by rail, and endless trains of naphtha tanks, like large grey boilers without funnels, are met with the whole way. Once the watershed is passed and the train begins to descend into the basin of the Kura, the landscape changes character. Instead of forest-clad hills and well-watered valleys, we are between bare rocky mountains, the bottom of the valleys alone being partly cultivated.

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It is nightfall by the time the handsome station of Tiflis is reached.

Tiflis is said to have been founded in the V. century by Vakhtang Gorgoslan, King of Georgia, and early in the VI. century it became the capital of the kingdom. It was captured and pillaged many times, and was held alternately by the Georgians and the Persians. Timur the Tartar sacked it in 1395, and the Persians razed it to the ground exactly four hundred years later. In 1801 it was occupied by the Russians. Its name is derived from the Georgian Tbilis, which means hot, on account of the warm sulphur springs near the citadel.

It is one of those towns which, without being a real capital of an independent or even semi-independent State, is the centre of a large, well-defined region, and regarded by the inhabitants of the surrounding country as the centre of the world, the ultimate goal of all their travels. Situated on both banks of the river Kura, it lies in a narrow valley enclosed by parallel ranges of bare, stony hills. In summer it is one of the hottest places in the Russian Empire, for the naked rocks reflect the sun's burning rays, and at the same time keep out the breeze. The climate is very agreeable in the autumn, when fine, hot days are followed by cool nights for many weeks on end. But in winter, although the cold is never very great, there are sharp winds which render the town unpleasant and not too healthy. The dust is also a great drawback, and the streets are seldom watered. The right, or western, bank of the Kura rises up sharply so that that part of the city is built on

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a slope, and the suburbs clamber up the steep sides of St. David's Mount. Eastward the town descends into a depression until suddenly cut short by a precipitous crag with the extensive ruins of an ancient citadel on its summit. A narrow shelf creeps round this rock following the river to other suburbs and a pleasant valley on the opposite side, which has been turned into a beautiful botanical garden. The left bank of the river is flatter, but rises slightly towards the east, and more abruptly at the southern end, where another rocky eminence, crowned by the ancient palace of the Georgian kings, now a prison, is a sort of pendant to the citadel.

The north end on both banks is built in the European, or rather Russian, style, with large houses, some of them quite handsome, modern shops, electric light and trams ; here are the residential quarters of the Russian colony and officials, of the wealthiest natives, the hotels and restaurants, and the public offices ; at the extreme north end of the right bank, however, is a poor Georgian suburb, while on the left is a small German colony called Alexandersdorf. In the southern part of the town are the bazars and the poorer quarters, which are thoroughly Asiatic. But Asia penetrates even into the fashionable streets, for the brilliant costumes of the various Caucasian peoples are to be seen in the elegant Golovinsky Prospekt jostling against men and women in European clothes and smart Russian uniforms. The Golovinsky Prospekt is the finest street in modern Tiflis. Here the Viceroy's palace and several other Government buildings are situated, the museum, the two theatres, the

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Tiflis. Group of Highlanders.

[caption] Tiflis. Group of Highlanders.


Tiflis. A Cossak on the Vorontzoff Bridge.

[caption] Tiflis. A Cossak on the Vorontzoff Bridge.

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best shops, and some imposing private residences. At its southern end the Golovinsky narrows down to the Dvortzovaya, a street which debouches into the Erivan square. Here is the handsome town hall, and opposite it the Caravansarai—a large building devoted entirely to business, from the offices of rich Armenian merchants to tiny fruit-stalls. South of the Golovinsky a large square public garden descends the slope down to the river just opposite the Vorontzoff bridge. At the bridge's head stands the Hôtel de Londres, not only the first hotel in the Caucasus but one of the best in Russia, especially as regards the essentially non-Russian virtue of cleanliness. Apart from its other advantages its situation near the bridge is an exceptionally good one, and from my window I could watch the perpetual stream of traffic constantly passing to and fro, the wonderful collection of types from all parts of the Caucasus, Russia, Persia, and Turkey; Herculean porters carrying furniture, Cossack patrols, soldiers going out to the exercise ground, water-carriers, and quaint carts of every description. The Vorontzoff bridge is the most important of the three which cross the Kura. It first spans a narrow, muddy branch of the river to an island occupied by a number of small shops, and then crosses the main current to the small Vorontzoff square. If we wish to leave civilization and plunge into the East, we need only walk from the Hôtel de Londres to the Erivan square through the Soldatsky Bazar. An electric tram runs through it, but there are shops, booths, and dukhans (inns) as queer as any in the Tartar or Armenian quarters.

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It is chiefly devoted to the retail provision trade ; there is an endless succession of butchers’ shops whose wares, projecting far out over the pavement, render walking less pleasant even than on the boot-breaking cobbles in the middle of the street. At one end are a quantity of fruit-stalls—and what exquisite ripe fruit one gets here! There are the choice grapes of Elizavetpol, large and luscious, the small Erivan grapes without pips but of delicious flavour, colossal melons, figs bursting with ripeness, peaches worthy of the Arabian Nights, and pears that are a dream.

From the Erivan square we descend by one of many little side streets into the Armenian Bazar, This is soon succeeded by the Tartar Maidan, and finally we come to the Orbeliani baths, which are at the end of the town. Across the river, clustered round the rock-built royal palace, is the Avlabar, or Georgian quarter. The native houses in these streets are all more or less of the Georgian style, similar to those described at Kutais. The veranda seems to be a most important feature ; in houses on the river bank it overhangs the stream ; it goes all round the courtyard, it adorns the front on the streets; it serves as a passage to give access to the different parts of the house; and the stairway, usually an external one, leads into it. It is used as a drawing-room, as a play-room for the children, sometimes as a dining-room, as a clothes-drying place, and finally, in hot weather, to suffocate the inmates.

The bazars and Avlabar are a maze of narrow, tortuous lanes and dark courtyards, and business is carried on in a thousand curious little shops, in many

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of which the goods sold are also manufactured. As is usual in the East, the various trades are distributed among various streets, one street or group of streets being devoted to leather goods and saddlery, another to metal ware, a third to jewellery, a fourth to carpets, and so on. A peculiar feature of the Tiflis streets are the wine-shops, where the wine is preserved in huge swollen sheep or buffalo skins; sometimes one sees a donkey laden with what look like two fat animals with short legs sticking out in the most absurd way. Some of the most attractive shops are those where saddlery is sold. One sees rows upon rows of Caucasian saddles, some very simple, others elaborately adorned with red leather trappings and silver bosses, numbers of leather bags, nagaiki (riding whips), stirrups of all shapes and sizes. More fascinating still are the arms shops, where sometimes quite beautifully inlaid Caucasian and Lezghin knives may be purchased. The speciality of the place, the Caucasian silver niello work, is rather commonplace and very inferior to what one sees in Constantinople. But there are handsome silver buckles, and bits of enamel in brilliant colours, which are pretty souvenirs and form suitable presents for relatives. The finest objects are Persian, for we are now not far from the Persian frontier, and Tiflis itself was once in Persian hands. Many of the carpets sold as “ Persian ” are really made in the Caucasus, especially at Shusha and all the curiosity shops are full of Persian porcelain, Persian wood and metal ware, Persian arms. Another class of curios which may be picked up cheap are the musical instruments. They have the

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strangest shapes and produce the weirdest sounds imaginable. Among others I may mention the earthenware drums painted red and yellow, and the chianury, a sort of guitar-violin, consisting of an oval case with a straight handle and a sharp steel point at the end. It is played with a bow, but seemed to me to be suitable for warlike purposes as well. You could hold, it by the handle and brain your enemy with the case, then you run him through the body with the spike, and finally you give him the coup de grâce by playing on the instrument.

The animation of the streets is extraordinary. There are always crowds of people rushing about madly, as though they were in Cheapside or Cornhill, but without policemen to regulate their movements. Men, women, children, horses, donkeys, carts, cabs, rush and clatter about in apparently inextricable confusion, shouting in many languages. You creep down a gloomy passage to escape from the throng, and emerge into a courtyard in which four or five huge shapeless masses are reposing; on closer inspection they prove to be camels. The camel still plays a leading rôle in the trade of Transcaucasia, and is even found on the north side of the mountains, although railways are tending more and more to drive him eastward and southward.

The actual “lions” of the native quarters are not very exciting. There is the Shiah mechet, or mosque, an unimposing modern edifice, the Orbeliani baths, which, although one is told not to miss them, have little that is especially curious, and the church of the Metekh near the old Royal Palace, from the

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Tiflis. The Maidan or Tartar Quarter and Citadel.

[caption] Tiflis. The Maidan or Tartar Quarter and Citadel.

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terrace below which one enjoys a splendid view of the town, the river, and the mountains all round. On clear days the snowy peak of the Kazbek may even be seen. The most interesting feature of the bazar, and indeed of the whole of Tiflis, is the population. I have alluded to the number of different races which inhabit the Caucasus, and the forty-five languages spoken by them. At Tiflis you find specimens of all these races, and in the bazars you can hear all their languages spoken, with the addition of such extraneous tongues as Polish, German, French, Italian, Hindustani, Sart, and sometimes even Chinese. The observant stranger soon learns to recognize the main types — Georgians, Tartars, Armenians, Russians—but it takes long before he can distinguish the minor subdivisions of the human species here exhibited.

To attempt to describe all the costumes would fill a small volume, and require countless illustrations in the three-colour process. The Georgians and the mountaineers in tcherkesskas of sundry colours and tall fur caps ; the Tartars in long cotton or woollen tunics, usually dark blue or black, with shaven heads and tiny white skull caps; Persians in caftans of some sombre hue, their hair, beard, and nails stained dark red ; Mohammedan mullahs in flowing robes and green or white turbans; mountaineers of many types, some in the tcherkesska, others attired in indescribable rags and tatters that are kept together goodness knows how ; Armenians sometimes dressed rather like Tartars but more usually in European clothes ; porters carrying enormous burdens—a huge wardrobe, or an iron

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bedstead, or even a piano. Then there are the vehicles of all sorts and descriptions—Russian cabs, with handsome, long-tailed horses and rubber tires, native arbas of the most antediluvian type, carts with hooded awning for fruit and vegetables, carts with solid wheels drawn by buffaloes.

Tiflis owes its importance to its geographical position, for it is here that four great lines of traffic converge. There is the railway to Batum which places Tiflis in communication with the Black Sea and the west, the line to Baku for Russia, Central Asia, and Persia, now a third to Erivan and North-Western Persia, and the military high-road over the “ frosty Caucasus” to Vladikavkaz and European Russia. It has therefore always been an important centre of traffic for a large part of the Middle East. No longer the capital of a kingdom, it is still a commercial centre of the first rank. All the people of the Transcaucasia come to Tiflis to make their purchases and transact their more important affairs, and most of the business of Government is concentrated here.

The whole town is pervaded by this atmosphere of mixed races, languages, and ideas, and the Russifying methods of the bureaucracy has done little to unite these discordant elements. Tiflis was once, as I said, the capital of the Georgian kingdom, and to this day a considerable part of the population is Georgian, perhaps 35 per cent. But other elements were always numerous, and within the last hundred years the Armenians have been increasing rapidly owing to their migration from all parts of Russia and from

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Turkish Armenia. They are certainly a most enterprising race, and here at Tiflis where they constitute but a minority of the population (40 per cent.) they are gradually getting everything into their hands. The Georgians, being extravagant and careless of money, have become poorer and poorer, and have had to sell their houses and land, which the Armenians are only to ready to snap up, and borrow money which they cannot pay back. On the Duma, or town council, over three-quarters of the members are Armenians, and they control all the commercial activity of the town. One has but to walk down the chief streets to see that the names over all the chief shops and of the most important firms are Armenian. They may end in -off or in -eff—Kalan-taroff, Oganjanoff, Mantasheff, Gukassoff, &c.—but they are merely Russified forms of Kalantarian, Ogandjanian, Mantashiantz, Gukassiantz. Armenian ideas are expressed not only in such papers as the Mshak and the Arshaluis printed in Armenian, but in Russian newspapers like the Novoie Obozrenie, of which the staff is almost wholly Armenian. The case is paralleled by that of certain Bond organs in South Africa printed in English. The fact that the Russian officials do not learn the native language has obliged the natives to learn Russian ; consequently Russian is very much commoner in the Caucasus than is English in many British colonies, and numbers of quite uneducated people speak it fluently. All the names of the streets, and by far the greater part of the notices on the shops and the advertisements, even in the poorer quarters, are in Russian, although of course

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signs are conspicuous for the benefit of the large proportion of illiterates. In many private families both Armenian and Georgian, Russian is ordinarily spoken. Yet the native languages show no tendency to disappear, but are religiously preserved by means of the press, books, schools, and societies of all sorts.

The Armenians are certainly the most conspicuous element of the population, and one comes across them in every walk of life. If you go to a bank, to a money-changer, to a merchant's counting-house, the proprietors, directors, and most of the employees will probably prove to be Armenians. If you see any particularly large and handsome house and ask to whom it belongs, in nine cases out of ten “a rich Armenian ” will be the answer. The best lawyers, doctors, and journalists are Armenians, and until lately one found them even in the Government offices. The Georgians, on the other hand, have lost much of their wealth; I only know of one at Tiflis who has amassed a large fortune in recent times. Tiflis has thus come to be one of the most important centres of Armenian nationalism, although quite outside the real Armenia; after Constantinople which is also outside Armenia, it contains a larger Armenian population than any other city in the world. Here, too, were several important educational establishments, until their closure under the Golytzin régime; lately they have been reopened since his policy was rescinded in August, 1905. Even the Russian schools of Tiflis are largely frequented by Armenians. The head-mistress of one of the girls' gymnasia told me that 90 per cent, of her pupils were Armenians.

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Tiflis. Tartar types.

[caption] Tiflis. Tartar Types.

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The Georgians of Tiflis are not very different in character from those of Kutais, save that they are slightly more Russified. One finds the same superabundance of princes, the same handsome, dark-featured men and women, with keen, black eyes, and charming manners, and, it must be added, the same want of practical qualities. But whereas in the Western Caucasus the Georgians are a compact mass with definite national ideals, at Tiflis they are confronted by the Armenians as well as by the Russian Government, and are steadily losing ground. Some of the greatest Georgian families, such as the Gruzinskys, the Orbelianis, the Ratieffs, the Chavchavadzes, still live in Tiflis, but their influence is declining, and the ancient capital of Georgia is becoming every day less Georgian. There are some very delightful personalities among these Georgian nobles. One of the most interesting members of the Georgian aristocracy died while I was in Tiflis—the aged Princess Chavchavadze. The story of her capture by Shamyl in 1856 is one of the most romantic episodes in the history of the Caucasus. Her daughter who, at the age of four, shared her mother's wonderful adventures, is still alive, and is the widow of the Prince of Georgia (Gruzinsky).

Of the other races represented in Tiflis, none play an important part in the town. There are some ten to fifteen thousand Tartars, but they are neither influential nor wealthy. The head of their religion is Ahund-Zadé, the Sheikh-ul-Islam, who, as the official chief of the community, resides there. But Tiflis is in nowise a Tartar or Mohammedan

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city; the real Moslem centres of Transcaucasia are elsewhere. Representatives of all the mountain peoples are to be met in the bazar, but their numbers and importance are even smaller than those of the Tartars. They are picturesque additions to the city's streets and market-places, and no doubt add to the tale of murders and robbery for which Tiflis is famous, but otherwise they do not count.

The Russian element is of course much more influential, although it is not numerous. There is a host of Russian officials and a large body of troops, of whom a certain proportion are not Russians, besides a number of Russian shopkeepers and workmen. But owing to their position as rulers of the country, they are bound to influence the aspect and life of the town. The architecture of the modern houses is essentially Russian, and Russian manners and customs are becoming more and more prevalent. All public business is carried on in the Russian language, and the majority of private affairs as well. The schools are nearly all Russian, four out of nine daily newspapers are printed in Russian, and the performances at the two principal theatres are also in Russian. Still the Russians do not feel themselves at home in Tiflis; they are strangers in a strange land which they regard as a place of exile. Many of the higher Government officials have been sent to the Caucasus more or less in disgrace, and are consequently anything but the pick of a class of persons who at best are not the most estimable members of Russian society. It has been said that if Siberia and Central Asia are the hells of the Russian functionary,

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Tiflis. Native Cart with Buffaloes.

[caption] Tiflis. Native Cart with Buffaloes.

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the Caucasus is his purgatory. Within quite recent times, however, the Government has attempted to send some of its best representatives to Tiflis, in view of the extremely difficult situation which has arisen.

Social life in Tiflis is of course gayer than that of any other town of the Caucasus, but it cannot exactly be described as brilliant. While I was there things were in an exceptionally disturbed condition, and people lived more quietly than usual, but even in normal times, according to all accounts, the city is not a very lively one. There are one or two big official functions at the Viceroy's palace, and some families do a little entertaining in a quiet way, while every year there is a season at the opera where a series of performances are given by indifferent artists. One of the centres of Tiflis social life is the Krujok, a large club, run chiefly by Armenians. In the winter dances are given, and in the summer there are al fresco entertainments in the pleasant garden, where the band plays and tout Tiflis may be seen promenading up and down, supping or playing cards, from 9 p.m. until the small hours of the morning.

The people of Tiflis, especially the Armenians, are most hospitable. On arriving I had only two letters of introduction, which, owing to the absence of the persons to whom they were addressed, were of no use until nearly the end of my stay. But I went to call at the offices of the various papers, and the editors vied with one another in helping me to obtain information, and in introducing me to persons likely to be of use. Also in a private way they and the persons to whom they introduced me were most friendly. I

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found none of that suspicion which I had been led to expect, and even the Government officials on whom I called were most courteous. I was constantly being invited out to dinner; and excellent dinners they were. The only fault which the Western stranger has to find with these entertainments is the hour at which they take place. It is usually 3 p.m., as it was in England not so very long ago, and a heavy meal at that hour usually precludes both lunch and supper. However, I soon got used to it, and found that even when not dining out it was the most convenient time, as nearly all the people whom I wished to see were visible between twelve and three. Unfortunately it was not the case with everybody, and I have dined out in Tiflis at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8 p.m., and supped at 9 and 10—not on the same day, let me hasten to add.

The private houses of Tiflis, although handsomer and larger than those of Batum or Kutais, are by no means magnificent or luxurious. As usual, the one aesthetic feature is the carpets, which are always beautiful ; one also occasionally comes on collections of fine old Circassian weapons, silver and gold inlay, and Persian curiosities. One house which I saw was all decorated in the latest art nouveau or “secessionist style,” which was certainly unexpected in Transcaucasia. It belonged to a rich Armenian engineer who visited Europe every year, and returned with the dernier cri in novelties for the house.

There are not many places of interest round Tiflis, and indeed the environs of the city are bare and desolate. One goes through various unattractive suburbs

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and places where rubbish is shot, past a few factories and melancholy-looking inns, and once the town is left behind one is in a poorly cultivated, broad, almost deserted valley between bare, rocky mountains. Occasionally one meets with encampments of gipsies or nomad mountaineers living in tents ; unkempt men and women of the strangest types, attired in rags and patches of bright colour—survivals of the earliest stages of human development—squat on the ground attending to domestic duties; they are protected by shaggy dogs of enormous size and unparalleled ferocity, which no stranger can approach with impunity.

Nearer to the town, just beyond the citadel rock, is the botanic garden. It occupies a very large area, comprising hills, valleys, woods, and streams. It is intersected by a torrent forming quite a respectable waterfall, as well as by numerous runlets. There is a wonderful show of Caucasian flora, every variety of plant growing in the country, as well as numerous rare exotics, being represented. Another favourite excursion of the people of Tiflis is the hill of St. David, which is now reached by a funicular railway. As usual in Russia, the enterprise has not been properly finished, and the railway, instead of starting from some convenient point, starts from the extreme edge of the town at a great distance from the residential quarters, at a point which can only be approached by a long drive up a very steep ascent. From the summit one enjoys a superb view of the town, the valley, and the surrounding mountains ; Tiflis covers an immense area, and every year it extends its tentacles. One is struck by the great

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number and extent of green spaces and gardens ; almost every house has a garden of some sort, although, as I said with regard to other towns, laid-out flower-beds, or indeed flowers at all, are rare. All around the town are the pitiless heat-giving stony mountains, only broken here and there by vine-clad slopes. Beyond the near hills one has occasionally a view of the glistening snow-clad peaks.

The foreign colonies of Tiflis are fairly numerous; there are Germans, Italians, Frenchmen, Austrians, many Persians and Turks ; I do not think there are any British subjects save, perhaps, a few Indians, nor is there a British Consul. The most important member of the consular body is the Persian Consul-General. He holds the rank of Minister in the Diplomatic Service, and enjoys a position of great dignity. There are several hundred thousand Persians in the Caucasus, some of them permanent residents, but the majority temporary immigrants who come for a year or two, or a few months, to work in different capacities, chiefly on the Baku oil-fields. The present Consul-General, Faradjollah Khan, is one of the most cultivated Orientals I have ever come across. He speaks the most perfect French, dresses and looks like a European gentleman, and has an extraordinary knowledge of all the political questions of the Middle East. It is largely to his tact that the Persians have taken practically no part in the recent Tartar-Armenian troubles. Another distinguished and charming member of the Consular body is M. Uermenyi, the Austro-Hungarian Consul, from whom, although I called on him without any

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introduction, I received much hospitality and kindness.

But the general appearance of Tiflis, in spite of its modern improvements and not inconsiderable wealth, is not that of a really prosperous or modern city. It has remained essentially Oriental, and backward, for the new civilization engrafted by Russian officialdom is in itself vitiated with Oriental characteristics of an undesirable kind. The administration is neither honest nor efficient, and after a residence of many months in the Caucasus, including a long stay in Tiflis, I could not help feeling that the country is almost stagnant. Nothing runs smoothly ; no service, whether public or private, works efficiently or satisfactorily ; everywhere there are obstacles to progress, and the population, taken as a whole, is not business-like. Even the shops are unattractive and ill-stocked. Apart from Oriental curios it is difficult to buy anything in Tiflis. The goods are of poor quality, but dear in price. With the exception of fruit and other eatables, everything is ridiculously expensive. There is not one really good restaurant in the town, although there is, as I said before, an excellent hotel.

The weakness and incapacity of the Government has, of course, been more noticeable since the country has been in such a disturbed state. While things were quiet it managed to rub along tant bien que mal, and an outward appearance of order was maintained. But the increasing centralization of the administration in the hands of St. Petersburg bureaucrats, the corruption of most of the local officials, the fatuous and disastrous Russifying policy of Prince

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Golytzin, undermined the whole structure of society, and as soon as the defeats in the Far East shook Russian prestige all the latent forces of disorder, discontent, and revolt sprang to life and reduced the country, to its present state of chaos.

Apart from politics, which will be dealt with elsewhere, the Government has committed many sins of omission and commission. Good roads hardly exist in Transcaucasia; railways have been built, but there are no roads to feed them. Everywhere else one must travel along awful tracks of stony or muddy ground, which takes the place of roads. Nor is public safety in the least assured. Even in normal times brigandage, murder, and robbery are rife throughout the country; and in Tiflis itself there is no attempt to secure life and property; in fact, it has been justly remarked that everything is dear in Caucasus except human life.

In every respect Russia's work in the Caucasus compares unfavourably with that of Austria-Hungary in Bosnia and the Herzegovina. In those provinces the Austrian Government, although it has undoubtedly committed errors in attempting to develop the country much too fast, and has failed to awaken the sympathy and loyalty of the population, has at least secured the most perfect order and completely abolished brigandage; it has established absolute religious freedom, introduced a bureaucracy, which, if slow in moving, and inclined to red tape, is perfectly honest and far from inefficient; it has covered the country with a network of excellent roads and railways, and built numerous well-appointed schools. Of course

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Austria's task was much smaller—the country is smaller, the population less numerous, and less divided into hostile races. But her resources are also smaller, the potential wealth of Bosnia is much less, the population was infinitely more backward than the Armenians or the Georgians, and the time has been shorter. Austria, in twenty-five years, has converted Bosnia and the Herzegovina from a state of absolute anarchy into one of perfect peace. Russia in a hundred years reduced the anarchy of the Caucasus to a state of unstable equilibrium, which is now relapsing into a chaos hardly less terrible than that of the old days before the Russian conquest. We must, however, not judge the administration too harshly. We should remember that there is Turkey just over the border, where things are infinitely worse. Outward improvements such as railways, trams, electric light, a certain measure of domestic comfort, even if not sufficient to introduce real civilization, do make for progress and help to render life more possible. One is apt to criticize Russian methods because they are so much worse than they at first appear to be, but in spite of their imperfections one may say of the Empire “eppur si muove.”


Table of contents
Cover and pp. 1-4 | Prefatory note | Table of contents (as in the book) | List of illustrations
“Chronological table of recent events in the Caucasus”
1. The Caucasus, its peoples, and its history | 2. Eastward ho! | 3. Batum
4. Kutais and the Georgian movement | 5. The Gurian “republic” | 6. Tiflis
7. Persons and politics in the Caucasian capital
8. Armenians, Tartars, and the Russian government
9. Baku and the Armeno-Tartar feud | 10. Bloodshed and fire in the oil city
11. The land of Ararat | 12. The heart of Armenia | 13. Russia's new route to Persia
14. Nakhitchevan and the May massacres | 15. Alexandropol and Ani
16. Over the frosty Caucasus | 17. Recent events in the Caucasus | Index



Source: Villari, Luigi. Fire and Sword in the Caucasus by Luigi Villari author of “Russia under the Great Shadow”, “Giovanni Segantini,” etc. London, T. F. Unwin, 1906
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The Flame of Old Fires by Pavel Shekhtman (in Russian)
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