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132 HADJI OLI'S MOTIVES FOR PATRONIZING US.

secrets of that holy retreat; let it suffice, that there was a delicious fall of dew in the neighbourhood, more potent, even judging from the brilliancy of his dispatches, than the distillation of Castaly itself. Still, with all his failings, his burley and overbearing demeanour and inordinate ambition, Mehemet Effendi was a true lover of his country, and though naturally a kind-hearted man, the terror and scourge of all mercenary traitors who would have sold their own and others' birthright to the Russians. His interference on our behalf in the Medjilis was occasioned partly by his belief that we really were what we represented ourselves to be, and partly with a view of bolstering his own authority; bringing us forward in support of his reforming policy with much the same effect as his Arabic, powerful and imposing because utterly beyond their comprehension. Mysterious hints were given of our being secret agents of Sultan Mahmoud; and the mixture of awe, suspicion, kindness, and cupidity by which we were henceforth regarded by the multitude, unconscious at the time of their motives for it, was equally perplexing and amusing to us. Among the principal chiefs of the tribe of Chipakou who, however favourably disposed they may have been, had still their misgivings with respect to us,-for we had brought no credentials from Mr. Urquhart, that

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gentleman having refused, lest he should compromise himself in his official capacity, to provide us with them,-it was determined that if we could do them no good, we should, on the other hand, work them as little mischief as possible ; measures were therefore taken for keeping us under close surveillance, and for Konag Bey was allotted to us an old chieftain of the dominant tribe, as experienced yet as amiable an Argus as could be found, of the name of Keri Oglu Shamiz Bey.

134

LORD PONSONBY'S COMMUNICATION.

CHAPTER VII.

Lord Ponsonby's communications to the Circassians-Nego

tiations with the Russian general— Portfolio General-Feud -Deputation from Abbassehk.

We were in the evening visited in our apartment by the judge. He came to us in high spirits; the dispatches they had received from Sefer Bey had filled him with exultation; an effect which, when he explained their purport, they equally produced on us.

“ Henceforward," he exclaimed, “ we are subjects of the King of England as much as you can be; we are under his protection; he is our konag

-we his slaves; we will obey him implicitly, let him command what he will; unless," added he, PROPOSITIONS TO THE RUSSIAN GENERAL. 135

laughing, and looking at our pantaloons, “it be to wear such unreasonable shalvas."*

He then proceeded to inform us that a communication had been made to Sefer Bey, through Mr. Kerr, the British Consul at Adrianople, on the part of the Ambassador at Constantinople, by whom he had been instructed to write to them as follows:

They were to send a flag of truce to the Russian general, demanding an immediate cessation of hostilities, and proposing terms of peace for the future. They were to engage, on their part, to abstain from all violation of the Russian territory, and to respect from that time the international boundary of the Kuban ; while the Russians, on their side, were to retire beyond that river, and evacuate the fortresses they had raised in Circassia. For the observance of these conditions, as regarded themselves, they were empowered to offer the guarantee of England. These propositions were to be made three times; and in event of their being rejected by the general, the result was to be forthwith transmitted to the Ambassador at Con

* Our pantaloons, differing from those of the Circassians in the close fit above the knee, were considered to shew very bad taste. They said we might excel in all other arts—we could manufacture arins, build ships, &c., but we could not construct a pair of breeches.

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stantinople. Such was the tenour of Sefer Bey's dispatches, to which, I repeat, we could not but attach the highest importance, and congratulate ourselves on being permitted, so providentially, to witness the opening of relations between England and Circassia-a measure, we conceived, fraught not only with the deepest consequences to the tribes of the Caucasus, but affecting the destinies of the whole East, and the welfare of mankind at large.

Of the authenticity of this communication there could not be the slightest doubt; for we had not only the internal evidence of the dispatches themselves, wherein persons and things were alluded to that the Circassians could have had no previous conception of, but also the collateral proof afforded by the message which Mr. Bell, without knowing its drift, had been the bearer from Lord Ponsonby. Our position, therefore, at this moment was a proud one, for we felt, with no less certainty than the Circassians themselves, that England was now clearly committed in their affairs, and had proceeded too far to retreat without a total loss of the character she had so long enjoyed among the nations, and which, whoever might be her rulers, we felt convinced, and would have pledged our existence to it, she would still

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