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WOMEN IN CIRCASSIA.
dren, he is forbidden the slightest manifestation of tenderness.* His boys are banished at an early age from the paternal roof to that of the fosterfather, or ataluk, that no parental indulgence may interfere with the austerity of their education. But, though perhaps the great object in its establishment, hardihood is not the sole result of this discipline. I have more than once alluded to the strong social feeling that seems to unite the Circassians into one family. May not this in some measure have been obtained at the expense of the domestic affections ? Restricted in their narrower circle, may not these expand and be absorbed in a wider and more elevated sphere?
As a proof that they were guided by some such principle, (or the belief, perhaps, that it is only in the conjugal state, when fairly domesticated, that their mettle may be endangered,) I must not forget
* The institutions of the Circassians naturally suggest a comparison with those of the Lacedemonians. With the latter, the same object was promoted by different means. To check effe. minacy among the men, the women spontaneously unsexed themselves, and became viragos. Lycurgus sought to reform this abuse, but failed in the attempt. Were be now living, he would find his own system in active operation among the tribes of the Caucasus. In the days of chivalry, the warlike spirit was fostered by a similar sacrifice of womanhood on the part of the sex, who were constituted umpires in the sanguinary con. tests of the lists.
WOMEN IN CIRCASSIA.
to add that the reserve displayed between man and wife is contrasted in the strongest manner by their unconstrained demeanour before marriage. When women have become the exclusive property of a husband, their duty requires that they should carefully veil their persons, and scrupulously guard their behaviour; for his honour would be compromised by the most trifling indiscretion on their part. Till such appropriation has taken place, the deference they are taught to the other sex in general renders them tolerant of freedoms not altogether consistent with our notions of propriety. The man, on the other hand, appears not wholly unsoftened by this complaisance; nor does the general treatment of their women, harsh and authoritive as it may appear, preclude some rude attempts at gallantry, imparting to their manners a tingethough somewhat faint it must be allowed—of the age of chivalry. It is the custom at their festivals for the young men, when pledging their sweethearts in a bowl of boza, to fire off their pistols or rifles. The challenge is immediately accepted by all who have a charge of gunpowder, (scarce as the article
may be just now,) to assert in the same manner the superior charms of their own mistresses.
Another practice on these occasions is, for those who contend in the race to receive the prize from some fair damsel, “ the cynosure of neighbouring
WOMEN IN CIRCASSIA.
eyes,” consisting of an ornamented pistol-cover, or scarf, the work of her own delicate fingers. The latter, I am sorry to say, in the hard times superinduced by the Russian war, is too often represented by a rag of red calico, which he who receives it first carries off with him streaming gallantly in the wind, as he endeavours, with his horse at full speed, and by every resource of horsemanship, to elude the pursuit of the other cavaliers. The one who overtakes him is, in his turn, the bearer of these opima spolia, and he who finally prevails, their happy possessor.
To conclude these hasty and imperfect remarks, which I am afraid will leave an unfavourable impression with the English reader as to the position of women in Circassia, I should add, among other extenuating circumstances, that absolute as their dependence may appear to be, and undoubtedly is, it seldom interferes with the exercise of a free choice in marriage; provided the suitor can pay the price at which she is estimated, and be of the proper rank, his addresses are rarely rejected by the parents of his mistress.
Au reste, the independence of the sex under European institutions, which, indeed, it would be treason to an Englishman to impugn, may be attended with its drawbacks and disadvantages. It might be odious further to allude to them, if
WOMEN IN CIRCASSIA.
the absence of them, under a different regime, did not prove that, like every other refinement of European civilization, the independence of the sex is not obtained for nothing. For the unhappy victims of their independence (whose name with us is Legion) that civilization is accountable. These at least might envy the position of their sex, degraded, as it may appear, in Circassia. There, every woman lives under protection of some sort or another, which, though she may be transferred or sold for misconduct, she can never forfeit. Her infamy almost invariably involves that of her protector; and it is this circumstance that attaches so peculiar a stigma to the name of Pandar all over the East.
THE RUSSIANS AT PCHAT.
The Russian camp at Ghelendjek-Reconnoitring-Bay of
Semez-Authentic account of the circumstances attending the illegal seizure of the “ Vixen.”
SINCE the arrival of the Russians at Pchat, where they had been quartered three weeks, there had, with the exception of a few skirmishes, been an entire suspension of hostilities. Defended by the entrenchments they had thrown up there, they shewed little disposition to harass the Circassians by incursions in the interior of the country. Their immediate object was to construct a fort on the coast, and their supplies were, in the meanwhile, conveyed to them by sea. To judge by the progress they had made in their task, it seemed probable that it could not be finished