Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Vol. 53, No. 331, May, 1843

Part 2 out of 6

principles into the Tartars of the Caucasus, and has polluted their
sense of honour by the most despicable subterfuge. And how could it be
otherwise in a government based upon the tyranny of the great over the
less--where justice herself can punish only in secret--where robbery is
the privilege of power? "Do with me what you like, provided you let me
do with my inferior what I like," is the principle of Asiatic
government--its ambition, its morality. Hence, every man, finding
himself between two enemies, is obliged to conceal his thoughts, as he
hides his money. Hence every man plays the hypocrite before the
powerful; every man endeavours to force from others a present by tyranny
or accusation. Hence the Tartar of this country will not move a step,
but with the hope of gain; will not give you so much as a cucumber,
without expecting a present in return.

Insolent to rudeness with every one who is not in power, he is mean and
slavish before rank or a full purse. He sows flattery by handfuls; he
will give you his house, his children, his soul, to get rid of a
difficulty, and if he does any body a service, it is sure to be from
motives of interest.

In money matters (this is the weakest side of a Tartar) a ducat is the
touchstone of his fidelity; and it is difficult to imagine the extent of
their greediness for profit! The Armenian character is yet a thousand
times more vile than theirs; but the Tartars hardly yield to them in
corruption and greediness--and this is saying a good deal. Is it
surprising that, beholding from infancy such examples, Ammalat--though
he has retained the detestation of meanness natural to pure
blood--should have adopted concealment as an indispensable arm against
open malevolence and secret villany? The sacred ties of relationship do
not exist for Asiatics. With them, the son is the slave of the
father--the brother is a rival. No one trusts his neighbour, because
there is no faith in any man. Jealousy of their wives, and dread of
espionage, destroy brotherly love and friendship. The child brought up
by his slave-mother--never experiencing a father's caress, and
afterwards estranged by the Arabian alphabet, (education,) hides his
feelings in his own heart even from his companions; from his childhood,
thinks only for himself; from the first beard are every door, every
heart shut for him: husbands look askance at him, women fly from him as
from a wild beast, and the first and most innocent emotions of his
heart, the first voice of nature, the first movements of his
feelings--all these have become crimes in the eyes of Mahometan
superstition. He dares not discover them to a relation, or confide them
to a friend.... He must even weep in secret.

All this I say, my sweet Maria, to excuse Ammalat: he has already lived
a year and a half in my house, and hitherto has never confessed to me
the object of his love; though he might well have known, that it was
from no idle curiosity, but from a real heartfelt interest, that I
wished to know the secret of his heart. At last, however, he has told me
all; and thus it happened.

Yesterday I took a ride out of the town with Ammalat. We rode up through
a defile in the mountain on the west, and we advanced further and
further, higher and higher, till we found ourselves unexpectedly close
to the village of Kelik, from which may be seen the wall that anciently
defended Persia from the incursions of the wandering tribes inhabiting
the Zakavkaz, (trans-Caucasian country,) which often devastated that
territory. The annals of Derbend (Derbendname) ascribe, but falsely, the
construction of it to a certain Iskender--_i.e._ Alexander the
Great--who, however, never was in these regions. King Noushirvan
repaired it, and placed a guard along it. More than once since that time
it has been restored; and again it fell into ruin, and became overgrown,
as it now is, with the trees of centuries. A tradition exists, that this
wall formerly extended from the Caspian to the Black Sea, cutting
through the whole Caucasus, and having for its extremity the "iron gate"
of Derbend, and Darial in its centre; but this is more than doubtful as
far as regards the general facts, though certain in the particulars. The
traces of this wall, which are to be seen far into the mountains, are
interrupted here and there, but only by fallen stones or rocks and
ravines, till it reaches the military road; but from thence to the Black
Sea, through Mingrelia, I think there are no traces of its continuation.

I examined, with curiosity, this enormous wall, fortified by numerous
towers at short distance; and I wondered at the grandeur of the
ancients, exhibited even in their unreasonable caprices of
despotism--that greatness to which the effeminate rulers of the East
cannot aspire, in our day, even in imagination. The wonders of Babylon,
the lake of Moeris, the pyramids of the Pharaohs, the endless wall of
China, and this huge bulwark, built in sterile places, on the summits of
mountains, through the abyss of ravines--bear witness to the gigantic
iron will, and the unlimited power, of the ancient kings. Neither time,
nor earthquake, nor man, transitory man, nor the footstep of thousands
of years, have entirely destroyed, entirely trodden down, the remains of
immemorial antiquity. These places awake in me solemn and sacred
thoughts. I wandered over the traces of Peter the Great; I pictured him
the founder, the reformer, of a young state--building it on these ruins
of the decaying monarchies of Asia, from the centre of which he tore out
Russia, and with a mighty hand rolled her into Europe. What a fire must
have gleamed in his eagle eye, as he glanced from the heights of
Caucasus! What sublime thoughts, what holy aspirations, must have
swelled that heroic breast! The grand destiny of his country was
disclosed before his eyes; in the horizon, in the mirror of the Caspian,
appeared to him the picture of Russia's future weal, sown by him, and
watered by his red sweat. It was not empty conquest that was his aim,
but victory over barbarism--the happiness of mankind. Derbend, Baka,
Astrabad, they are the links of the chain with which he endeavoured to
bind the Caucasus, and rivet the commerce of India with Russia.

Demigod of the North! Thou whom nature created at once to flatter the
pride of man, and to reduce it to despair by thine unapproachable
greatness! Thy shade rose before me, bright and colossal, and the
cataract of ages fell foaming at thy feet! Pensive and silent, I rode

The wall of the Caucasus is faced on the north side with squared stones,
neatly and firmly fixed together with lime. Many of the battlements are
still entire; but feeble seeds, falling into the crevices and joints,
have burst them asunder with the roots of trees growing from them, and,
assisted by the rains, have thrown the stones to the earth, and over the
ruins triumphantly creep mallows and pomegranates; the eagle,
unmolested, builds her nest in the turret once crowded with warriors,
and on the cold hearthstone lie the fresh bones of the wild-goat,
dragged thither by the jackals. Sometimes the line of the ruins entirely
disappeared; then fragments of the stones again rose from among the
grass and underwood. Riding in this way, a distance of about three
versts, we reached the gate, and passed through to the south side, under
a vaulted arch, lined with moss and overgrown with shrubs. We had not
advanced twenty paces, when suddenly, behind an enormous tower, we came
upon six armed mountaineers, who seemed, by all appearance, to belong to
those gangs of robbers--the free Tabasaranetzes. They were lying in the
shade, close to their horses, which were feeding. I was astounded. I
immediately reflected how foolishly I had acted in riding so far from
Derbend without an escort. To gallop back, among such bushes and rocks,
would have been impossible; to fight six such desperate fellows, would
have been foolhardiness. Nevertheless, I seized a holster-pistol; but
Ammalat Bek, seeing how matters stood, advanced, and cried in a calm
slow voice: "Do not handle your arms, or we are dead men!"

The robbers, perceiving us, jumped up and cocked their guns, one fine,
broad-shouldered, but extremely savage-looking Lezghin, remaining
stretched on the ground. He lifted his head coolly, looked at us, and
waved his hand to his companions. In a moment we found ourselves
surrounded by them, while a path in front was stopped by the Ataman.

"Pray, dismount from your horses, dear guests," said he with a smile,
though one could see that the next invitation would be a bullet. I
hesitated; but Ammalat Bek jumped speedily from his horse, and walked up
to the Ataman.

"Hail!" He said to him: "hail, sorvi golova! I thought not of seeing
you. I thought the devils had long ago made a feast of you."

"Softly, Ammalat Bek!" answered the other; "I hope yet to feed the
eagles with the bodies of the Russians and of you Tartars, whose purse
is bigger than your heart."

"Well, and what luck, Shermadan?" carelessly enquired Ammalat Bek.

"But poor. The Russians are watchful: and we have seldom been able to
drive the cattle of a regiment, or to sell two Russian soldiers at a
time in the hills. It is difficult to transport madder and silk; and of
Persian tissue, very little is now carried on the arbas. We should have
had to quest like wolves again to-day, but Allah has had mercy; he has
given into our hands a rich bek and a Russian colonel!"

My heart died within me, as I heard these words.

"Do not sell a hawk in the sky: sell him," answered Ammalat, "when you
have him on your glove."

The robber sat down, laid his hand on the cock of his gun, and fixed on
us a piercing look. "Hark'e, Ammalat!" said he; "is it possible that you
think to escape me?--is it possible that you will dare to defend

"Be quiet," said Ammalat; "are we fools, to fight two to six? Gold is
dear to us, but dearer is our life. We have fallen into your hands, so
there is nothing to be done, unless you extort an unreasonable price for
our ransom. I have, as you know, neither father nor mother: and the
Colonel has yet less--neither kinsmen nor tribe."

"If you have no father, you have your father's inheritance. There is no
need then to count your relations with you: however, I am a man of
conscience. If you have no ducats, I will take your ransom in sheep. But
about the colonel, don't talk any more nonsense. I know for him the
soldiers would give the last button on their uniforms. Why, if for
Sh---- a ransom of ten thousand rubles was paid, they will give more for
this man. However, we shall see, we shall see. If you will be quiet....
Why, I am not a Jew, or a cannibal--Perviader (the Almighty) forgive

"Now that's it, friend: feed us well, and I swear and promise by my
honour, we will never think of harming you--nor of escaping."

"I believe, I believe! I am glad we have arranged without making any
noise about it. What a fine fellow you have become, Ammalat! Your horse
is not a horse, your gun is not a gun: it is a pleasure to look at you;
and this is true. Let me look at your dagger, my friend. Surely this is
the Koubatchin mark upon the blade."

"No, the Kizliar mark," replied Ammalat, quietly unbuckling the
dagger-belt from his waist; "and look at the blade. Wonderful! it cuts a
nail in two like a candle. On this side is the maker's name; there--read
it yourself: Aliousta--Koza--Nishtshekoi." And while he spoke, he
twirled the naked blade before the eyes of the greedy Lezghin, who
wished to show that he knew how to read, and was decyphering the
complicated inscription with some difficulty. But suddenly the dagger
gleamed like lightning.... Ammalat, seizing the opportunity, struck
Shermadan with all his might on the head; and so fierce was the blow,
that the dagger was stopped by the teeth of the lower jaw. The corpse
fell heavily on the grass. Keeping my eyes upon Ammalat, I followed his
example, and with my pistol shot the robber who was next me, and had
hold of my horse's bridle. This was to the others a signal for flight;
the rascals vanished; for the death of their Ataman dissolved the knot
of the leash which bound them together. Whilst Ammalat, after the
oriental fashion, was stripping the dead of their arms, and tying
together the reins of the abandoned horses, I lectured him on his
dissembling and making a false oath to the robber. He lifted up his head
with astonishment: "You are a strange man, Colonel!" he replied. "This
rascal has done an infinity of harm to the Russians, by secretly setting
fire to their stacks of hay, or seizing and carrying straggling soldiers
and wood-cutters into slavery. Do you know that he would have tyrannized
over us--or even tortured us, to make us write more movingly to our
kinsmen, to induce them to pay a larger ransom?"

"It may be so, Ammalat, but to lie or to swear an oath, either in jest
or to escape misfortune, is wrong. Why could we not have thrown
ourselves directly at the robbers, and have begun as you finished?"

"No, Colonel, we could not. If I had not entered into conversation with
the Ataman, we should have been riddled with balls at the first
movement. Moreover, I know that pack right well: they are brave only in
the presence of their Ataman, and it was with him it was necessary to

I shook my head. The Asiatic cunning, though it had saved my life, could
not please me. What confidence can I have in people accustomed to sport
with their honour and their soul? We were about to mount our horses,
when we heard a groan from the mountaineer who had been wounded by me.
He came to himself, raised his head, and piteously besought us not to
leave him to be devoured by the beasts of the forest. We both hastened
to assist the poor wretch; and what was Ammalat's astonishment when he
recognized in him one of the noukers of Sultan Akhmet Khan of Avar. To
the question how he happened to be one of a gang of robbers, he replied:
"Shairan tempted me: the Khan sent me into Kemek, a neighbouring
village, with a letter to the famous Hakim (Doctor) Ibrahim, for a
certain herb, which they say removes every ailment, as easily as if it
were brushed away with the hand. To my sorrow, Shermadan met me in the
way! He teazed me, saying, 'Come with me, and let us rob on the road. An
Armenian is coming from Kouba with money.' My young heart could not
resist this ... oh, Allah-il-Allah! He hath taken my soul from me!"

"They sent you for physic, you say," replied Ammalat: "why, who is sick
with you?"

"Our Khanoum Seltanetta is dying: here is the writing to the leech about
her illness:" with these words he gave Ammalat a silver tube, in which
was a small piece of paper rolled up. Ammalat turned as pale as death;
his hands shook--his eyes sank under his eyebrows when he had read the
note: with a broken voice he uttered detached words. "Three nights--and
she sleeps not, eats not--delirious!--her life is in danger--save her! O
God of righteousness--and I am idling here--leading a life of
holidays--and my soul's soul is ready to quit the earth, and leave me a
rotten corse! Oh that all her sufferings could fall on my head! and that
I could lie in her coffin, if that would restore her to health. Sweetest
and loveliest! thou art fading, rose of Avar, and destiny has stretched
out her talons over thee. Colonel," he cried at length, seizing my hand,
"grant my only, my solemn prayer--let me but once more look on her!"----

"On whom, my friend?"

"On my Seltanetta--on the daughter of the Khan of Avar--whom I love more
than my life, than my soul! She is ill, she is dying--perhaps dead by
this time--while I am wasting words--and I could not receive into my
heart her last word--her last look--could not wipe away the icy tear of
death! Oh, why do not the ashes of the ruined sun fall on my head--why
will not the earth bury me in its ruins!"

He fell on my breast, choking with grief, in a tearless agony, unable to
pronounce a word.

This was not a time for accusations of insincerity, much less to set
forth the reasons which rendered it unadvisable for him to go among the
enemies of Russia. There are circumstances before which all reasons must
give way, and I felt that Ammalat was in such circumstances. On my own
responsibility I resolved to let him go. "He that obliges from the
heart, and speedily, twice obliges," is my favourite proverb, and best
maxim. I pressed in my embrace the unhappy Tartar, and we mingled our
tears together.

"My friend Ammalat," said I, "hasten where your heart calls you. God
grant that you may carry thither health and recovery, and bring back
peace of mind! A happy journey!"

"Farewell, my benefactor," he cried, deeply touched, "farewell, and
perhaps for ever! I will not return to life, if Allah takes from me my
Seltanetta. May God keep you!"

He took the wounded Avaretz to the Hakim Ibrahim, received the medicinal
herb according to the Khan's prescription, and in an hour Ammalat Bek,
with four noukers, rode out of Derbend.

And so the riddle is guessed--he loves. This is unfortunate, but what is
yet worse, he is beloved in return. I fancy, my love, that I see your
astonishment. "Can that be a misfortune to another, which to you is
happiness?" you ask. A grain of patience, my soul's angel! The Khan, the
father of Seltanetta, is the irreconcilable foe of Russia, and the more
so because, having been distinguished by the favour of the Czar, he has
turned a traitor; consequently a marriage is possible only on condition
of Ammalat's betraying the Russians, or in case of the Khan's submission
and pardon--both cases being far from probable. I myself have
experienced misery and hopelessness in love; I have shed many tears on
my lonely pillow; often have I thirsted for the shade of the grave, to
cool my anguished heart! Can I, then, help, pitying this youth, the
object of my disinterested regard, and lamenting his hopeless love? But
this will not build a bridge to good-fortune; and I therefore think,
that if he had not the ill-luck to be beloved in return, he would by
degrees forget her.

"But," you say, (and methinks I hear your silvery voice, and am
revelling in your angel's smile,) "but circumstances may change for
them, as they have changed for us. Is it possible that misfortune alone
has the privilege of being eternal in the world?"

I do not dispute this, my beloved, but I confess with a sigh that I am
in doubt. I even fear for them and for ourselves. Destiny smiles before
us, hope chaunts sweet music--but destiny is a sea--hope but a
sea-syren; deceitful is the calm of the one, fatal are the promises of
the other. All appears to aid our union--but are we yet together? I know
not why, lovely Mary, but a chill penetrates my breast, amid the warm
fountains of future bliss, and the idea of our meeting has lost its
distinctness. But all this will pass away, all will change into
happiness, when I press your hand to my lips, your heart to mine. The
rainbow shines yet brighter on the dark field of the cloud, and the
happiest moments of life are but the anticipations of sorrow.


Ammalat knocked up two horses, and left two of his noukers on the road,
so that at the end of the second day he was not far from Khounzakh. At
each stride his impatience grew stronger, and with each stride increased
his fear of not finding his beloved amongst the living. A fit of
trembling came over him when from the rocks the tops of the Khan's tower
arose before him. His eyes grew dark. "Shall I meet there life or
death?" he whispered to himself, and arousing a desperate courage, he
urged his horse to a gallop.

He came up with a horseman completely armed: another horseman rode out
of Khounzakh to meeting, and hardly did they perceive one another when
they put their horses to full speed, rode up to each other, leaped down
upon the earth, and suddenly drawing their swords, threw themselves with
fury upon each other without uttering a word, as if blows were the
customary salutation of travellers. Ammalat Bek, whose passage they
intercepted along the narrow path between the rocks, gazed with
astonishment on the combat of the two adversaries. It was short. The
horseman who was approaching the town fell on the stones, bedewing them
with blood from a gash which laid open his skull; and the victor, coolly
wiping his blade, addressed himself to Ammalat: "Your coming is
opportune: I am glad that destiny has brought you in time to witness our
combat. God, and not I, killed the offender; and now his kinsmen will
not say that I killed my enemy stealthily from behind a rock, and will
not raise upon my head the feud of blood."

"Whence arose your quarrel with him?" asked Ammalat: "why did you
conclude it with such a terrible revenge?"

"This Kharam-Zada," answered the horseman, "could not agree with me
about the division of some stolen sheep, and in spite he killed them all
so that nobody should have them ... and he dared to slander my wife. He
had better have insulted my father's grave, or my mother's good name,
than have touched the reputation of my wife! I once flew at him with my
dagger, but they parted us: we agreed to fight at our first encounter,
and Allah has judged between us! The Bek is doubtless riding to
Khounzakh--surely on a vizit to the Khan?" added the horseman.

Ammalat, forcing his horse to leap over the dead body which lay across
the road, replied in the affirmative.

"You go not at a fit time, Bek--not at all at a fit time."

All Ammalat's blood rushed to his head. "Why, has any misfortune
happened in the Khan's house?" he enquired, reining in his horse, which
he had just before lashed with the whip to force him faster to

"Not exactly a misfortune, his daughter Seltanetta was severely ill, and

"Is dead?" cried Ammalat, turning pale.

"Perhaps she is dead--at least dying. As I rode past the Khan's gate,
there arose a bustling, crying, and yelling of women in the court, as if
the Russians were storming Khounzakh. Go and see--do me the favour"----

But Ammalat heard no more, he dashed away from the astounded Ouzden; the
dust rolled like smoke from the road, which seemed to be set on fire by
the sparks from the horse's hoofs. Headlong he galloped through the
winding streets, flew up the hill, bounded from his horse in the midst
of the Khan's court-yard, and raced breathlessly through the passages to
Seltanetta's apartment, overthrowing and jostling noukers and maidens,
and at last, without remarking the Khan or his wife, pushed himself to
the bed of the sufferer, and fell, almost senseless, on his knees beside

The sudden and noisy arrival of Ammalat aroused the sad society present.
Seltanetta, whose existence death was already overpowering, seemed as if
awakening from the deep forgetfulness of fever; her cheeks flushed with
a transient colour, like that on the leaves of autumn before they fall:
in her clouded eye beamed the last spark of the soul. She lad been for
several hours in a complete insensibility; she was speechless,
motionless, hopeless. A murmur of anger from the bystanders, and a loud
exclamation from the stupefied Ammalat, seemed to recall the departing
spirit of the sick, she started up--her eyes sparkled.... "Is it
thou--is it thou?" she cried, stretching, forth her arms to him: "praise
be to Allah! now I am contented, now I am happy," she added, sinking
back on the pillow. Her lips wreathed into a smile, her eyelids closed,
and again she sank into her former insensibility.

The agonized Asiatic paid no attention to the questions of the Khan, or
the reproaches of the Khansha: no person, no object distracted his
attention from Seltanetta--nothing could arouse him from his deep
despair. They could hardly lead him by force from the sick chamber; he
clung to the threshold, he wept bitterly, at one moment praying for the
life of Seltanetta, at another accusing heaven of her illness! Terrible,
yet moving, was the grief of the fiery Asiatic.

Meanwhile, the appearance of Ammalat had produced a salutary influence
on the sick girl. What the rude physicians of the mountains were unable
to accomplish, was effected by his arrival. The vital energy, which had
been almost extinguished, needed some agitation to revivify its action;
but for this she must have perished, not from the disease, which had
been already subdued, but from languor--as a lamp, not blown out by the
wind, but failing for lack of air. Youth at length gained the victory;
the crisis was past, and life again arose in the heart of the sufferer.
After a long and quiet slumber, she awoke unusually strengthened and
refreshed. "I feel myself as light, mother," she cried, looking gaily
around her, "as if I were made wholly of air. Ah, how sweet it is to
recover from illness; it seems as if the walls were smiling upon me.
Yet, I have been very ill--long ill. I have suffered much; but, thanks
to Allah! I am now only weak, and that will soon pass away. I feel
health rolling, like drops of pearl, through my veins. All the past
seems to me a sort of dark vision. I fancied that I was sinking into a
cold sea, and that I was parched with thirst: far away, methought, there
hovered two little stars; the darkness thickened and thickened; I sank
deeper, deeper yet. All at once it seemed as if some one called me by my
name, and with a mighty hand dragged me from that icy, shoreless sea.
Ammalat's face glanced before me, almost like a reality; the little
stars broke into a lightning-flash, which writhed like a serpent to my
heart: I remember no more!"

On the following day Ammalat was allowed to see the convalescent. Sultan
Akhmet Khan, seeing that it was impossible to obtain a coherent answer
from him while suspense tortured his heart, that heart which boiled with
passion, yielded to his incessant entreaties. "Let all rejoice when I
rejoice," he said, as he led his guest into his daughter's room. This
had been previously announced to Seltanetta, but her agitation,
nevertheless, was very great, when her eyes met those of
Ammalat--Ammalat, so deeply loved, so long and fruitlessly expected.
Neither of the lovers could pronounce a word, but the ardent language of
their looks expressed a long tale, imprinted in burning letters on the
tablet of their hearts. On the pale cheek of each other they read the
traces of sorrow, the tears of separation, the characters of
sleeplessness and grief, of fear and of jealousy. Entrancing is the
blooming loveliness of an adored mistress; but her paleness, her
languor, that is bewitching, enchanting, victorious! What heart of iron
would not be melted by that tearful glance, which, without a reproach,
says so tenderly to you, "I am happy, but I have suffered by thee and
for thy sake?"

Tears dropped from Ammalat's eyes; but remembering at length that he was
not alone, he mastered himself, and lifted up his head to speak; but his
voice refused to pour itself in words, and with difficulty he faltered
out, "We have not seen each other for a long time, Seltanetta!"

"And we were wellnigh parted for ever," murmured Seltanetta.

"For ever!" cried Ammalat, with a half reproachful voice. "And can you
think, can you believe this? Is there not, then, another life, in which
sorrow is unknown, and separation from our kinsmen and the beloved? If I
were to lose the talisman of my life, with what scorn would I not cast
away the rusty ponderous armour of existence! Why should I wrestle with

"Pity, then, that I did not die!" answered Seltanetta, sportively. "You
describe so temptingly the other side of the grave, that one would be
eager to leap into it."

"Ah, no! Live, live long, for happiness, for--love!" Ammalat would have
added, but he reddened, and was silent.

Little by little the roses of health spread over the cheeks of the
maiden, now happy in the presence of her lover. All returned into its
customary order. The Khan was never weary of questioning Ammalat about
the battles, the campaigns, the tactics of the Russians; the Khansha
tired him with enquiries about the dress and customs of their women, and
could not omit to call upon Allah as often as she heard that they go
without veils. But with Seltanetta he enjoyed conversations and tales,
to his, as well as her, heart's content. The merest trifle which had the
slightest connexion with the other, could not be passed over without a
minute description, without abundant repetitions and exclamations. Love,
like Midas, transforms every thing it touches into gold, and, alas!
often perishes, like Midas, for want of finding some material

But, as the strength of Seltanetta was gradually re-established, with
the reappearing bloom of health on Ammalat's brow, there often appeared
the shadow of grief. Sometimes, in the middle of a lively conversation,
he would suddenly stop, droop his head, and his bright eyes would be
dimmed with a filling of tears; heavy sighs would seem to rend his
breast; he would start up, his eyes sparkling with fury; he would grasp
his dagger with a bitter smile, and then, as if vanquished by an
invisible hand, he would fall into a deep reverie, from whence not even
the caresses of his adored Seltanetta could recall him.

Once, at such a moment, Seltanetta, leaning enraptured on his shoulder,
whispered, "Asis, (beloved,) you are sad--you are weary of me!"

"Ah, slander not him who loves thee more than heaven!" replied Ammalat;
"but I have felt the hell of separation; and can I think of it without
agony? Easier, a hundred times easier, to part from life than from thee,
my dark-eyed love!"

"You are thinking of it, therefore you desire it."

"Do not poison my wounds by doubting, Seltanetta. Till now you have
known only how to bloom like a rose--to flutter like a butterfly; till
now your will was your only duty. But I am a man, a friend; fate has
forged for me an indestructible chain--the chain of gratitude for
kindness--it drags me to Derbend."

"Debt! duty! gratitude!" cried Seltanetta, mournfully shaking her head.
"How many gold-embroidered words have you invented to cover, as with a
shawl, your unwillingness to remain here. What! Did you not give your
heart to love before it was pledged to friendship? You had no right to
give away what belonged to another. Oh, forget your Verkhoffsky, forget
your Russian friends and the beauty of Derbend. Forget war and
murder-purchased glory. I hate blood since I saw you covered with it. I
cannot think without shuddering, that each drop of it costs tears that
cannot be dried, of a sister, a mother, or a fair bride. What do you
need, in order to live peacefully and quietly among our mountains! Here
none can come to disturb with arms the happiness of the heart. The rain
pierces not our roof; our bread is not of purchased corn; my father has
many horses, he has arms, and much precious gold; in my soul there is
much love for you. Say, then, my beloved, you will not go away, you will
remain with us!"

"No, Seltanetta, I cannot, must not, remain here. To pass my life with
you alone--for you to end it--this is my first prayer, my last desire,
but its accomplishment depends on your father. A sacred tie binds me to
the Russians; and while the Khan remains unreconciled with them, an open
marriage with you would be impossible--the obstacle would not be the
Russians, but the Khan"----

"You know my father," sorrowfully replied Seltanetta; "for some time
past his hatred of the infidels has so strengthened itself, that he
hesitates not to sacrifice to it his daughter and his friend. He is
particularly enraged with the Colonel for killing his favourite nouker,
who was sent for medicine to the Hakim Ibrahim."

"I have more than once begun to speak to Akhmet Khan about my hopes; but
his eternal reply has been--'Swear to be the enemy of the Russians, and
then I will hear you out.'"

"We must then bid adieu to hope."

"Why to hope, Seltanetta? Why not say only--farewell, Avar!"

Seltanetta bent upon him her expressive eyes. "I don't understand you,"
she said.

"Love me more than any thing in the world--more than your father and
mother, and your fair land, and then you will understand me, Seltanetta!
Live without you I cannot, and they will not let me live with you. If
you love me, let us fly!"

"Fly! the Khan's daughter fly like a slave--a criminal! This is
dreadful--this is terrible!"

"Speak not so. If the sacrifice is unusual, my love also is unusual.
Command me to give my life a thousand times, and I will throw it down
like a copper poull.[8] I will cast my soul into hell for you--not only
my life. You remind me that you are the daughter of the Khan; remember,
too, that my grandfather wore, that my uncle wears, the crown of a
Shamkhal! But it is not by this dignity, but by my heart, that I feel I
am worthy of you; and if there be shame in being happy despite of the
malice of mankind and the caprice of fate, that shame will fall on my
head and not on yours."

[8] Coin.

"But you forget my father's vengeance."

"There will come a time when he himself will forget it. When he sees
that the thing is done, he will cast aside his inflexibility; his heart
is not stone; and even were it stone, tears of repentance will wear it
away--our caresses will soften him. Happiness will cover us with her
dove's wings, and we shall proudly say, 'We ourselves have caught her!'"

"My beloved, I have lived not long upon earth, but something at my heart
tells me that by falsehood we can never catch her. Let us wait: let us
see what Allah will give! Perhaps, without this step, our union may be

"Seltanetta, Allah has given me this idea: it is his will. Have pity on
me, I beseech you. Let us fly, unless you wish that our marriage-hour
should strike above my grave! I have pledged my honour to return to
Derbend; and I must keep that pledge, I must keep it soon: but to depart
without the hope of seeing you, with the dread of hearing that you are
the wife of another--this would be dreadful, this would be
insupportable! If not from love, then from pity, share my destiny. Do
not rob me of paradise! Do not drive me to madness! You know not whither
disappointed passion can carry me. I may forget hospitality and kindred,
tear asunder all human ties, trample under my feet all that is holy,
mingle my blood with that of those who are dearest to me, force villany
to shake with terror when my name is heard, and angels to weep to see my
deeds!--Seltanetta, save me from the curse of others, from my own
contempt--save me from myself! My noukers are fearless--my horses like
the wind; the night is dark, let us fly to benevolent Russia, till the
storm be over. For the last time I implore you. Life and death, my
renown and my soul, hang upon your word. Yes or no?"

Torn now by her maiden fear, and her respect for the customs of her
forefathers, now by the passion and eloquence of her lover, the innocent
Seltanetta wavered, like a light cork, upon the tempestuous billows of
contending emotions. At length she arose: with a proud and steady air
she wiped away the tears which, glistened on her eyelashes, like the
amber-gum on the thorns of the larch-tree, and said, "Ammalat! tempt me
not! The flame of love will not dazzle, the smoke of love will not
suffocate, my conscience. I shall ever know what is good and what is
bad; and I well know how shameful it is, how base, to desert a father's
house, to afflict loving and beloved parents! I know all this--and now,
measure the price of my sacrifice. I fly with you--I am yours! It is not
your tongue which has convinced--it is my own heart which has vanquished
me! Allah has destined me to see and love you: let, then, our hearts be
united for ever--and indissolubly, though their bond be a crown of
thorns! Now all is over! Your destiny is mine!"

If heaven had clasped Ammalat in its infinite wings, and pressed him to
the heart of the universe--to the sun--even then his ecstacy would have
been less strong than at this divine moment. He poured forth the most
incoherent cries and exclamations of gratitude. When the first
transports were over, the lovers arranged all the details of their
flight. Seltanetta consented to lower herself by her bed-coverings from
her chamber, to the steep bank of the Ouzen. Ammalat was to ride out in
the evening with his noukers from Khounzakh, as if on a hawking party;
he was to return to the Khan's house by circuitous roads at nightfall,
and there receive his fair fellow-traveller in his arms. Then they were
to take horses in silence, and then--let enemies keep out of their road!

A kiss sealed the treaty; and the lovers separated with fear and hope in

Ammalat Bek, having prepared his brave noukers for battle or flight,
looked impatiently at the sun, which seemed loth to descend from the
warm sky to the chilly glaciers of the Caucasus. Like a bridegroom he
pined for night, like an importunate guest he followed with his eyes the
luminary of day. How slowly it moved--it crept to its setting! An
interminable space seemed to intervene between hope and enjoyment.
Unreasonable youth! What is your pledge of success? Who will assure you
that your footsteps are not watched--your words not caught in their
flight? Perhaps with the sun, which you upbraid, your hope will set.

About the fourth hour after noon, the time of the Mozlem's dinner, the
Sultan Akhmet Khan was unusually savage and gloomy. His eyes gleamed
suspiciously from under his frowning brows; he fixed them for a long
space, now on his daughter, now on his young guest. Sometimes his
features assumed a mocking expression, but it again vanished in the
blush of anger. His questions were biting, his conversation was
interrupted; and all this awakened in the soul of Seltanetta
repentance--in the heart of Ammalat apprehension. On the other hand, the
Khansha, as if dreading a separation from her lovely daughter, was so
affectionate and anxious, that this unmerited tenderness wrung tears
from the gentle-hearted Seltanetta, and her glance, stealthily thrown at
Ammalat, was to him a piercing reproach.

Hardly, after dinner, had they concluded the customary ceremony of
washing the hands, when the Khan called Ammalat into the spacious
court-yard. There caparisoned horses awaited them, and a crowd of
noukers were already in the saddle.

"Let us ride out to try the mettle of my new hawks," said the Khan to
Ammalat; "the evening is fine, the heat is diminishing, and we shall yet
have time, ere twilight, to shoot a few birds."

With his hawk on his fist, the Khan rode silently by the side of
Ammalat. An Avaretz was climbing up to a steep cliff on the left, by
means of a spiked pole, fixing it into the crevices, and then,
supporting himself on a prong, he lifted himself higher. To his waist
was attached a cap containing wheat; a long crossbow hung upon his
shoulders. The Khan stopped, pointed him out to Ammalat, and said
meaningly, "Look at yonder old man, Ammalat Bek! He seeks, at the risk
of his life, a foot of ground on the naked rock, to sow a handful of
wheat. With the sweat of his brow he cultivates it, and often pays with
his life for the defence of his herd from men and beasts. Poor is his
native land; but why does he love this land? Ask him to change it for
your fruitful fields, your rich flocks. He will say, 'Here I do what I
please; here I bow to no one; these snows, these peaks of ice, defend my
liberty.' And this freedom the Russians would take from him: of these
Russians you have become the slave, Ammalat."

"Khan, you know that it is not Russian bravery, but Russian generosity,
that has vanquished me. Their slave I am not, but their companion."

"A thousand times the worse, the more disgraceful for you. The heir of
the Shamkhal pines for a Russian epaulette, and glories in being the
dependent of a colonel!"

"Moderate your words, Sultan Akhmet. To Verkhoffsky I owe more than
life: the tie of friendship unites us."

"Can there exist a holy tie between us and the Giaour? To injure them,
to destroy them, when possible, to deceive them when this cannot be
done, is the commandment of the Koran, and the duty of every true

"Khan! let us cease to play with the bones of Mahomet, and to menace
others with what we do not believe. You are not a moolla, I am no
fakir. I have my own notions of the duty of an honest man."

"Really, Ammalat Bek? It were well, however, if you were to have this
oftener in your heart than on your tongue. For the last time, allow me
to ask you, will you hearken to the counsels of a friend whom you
quitted for the Giaour? Will you remain with us for good?"

"My life I would lay down for the happiness you so generously offer; but
I have given my promise to return, and I will keep it."

"Is this decided?"

"Irrevocably so."

"Well then, the sooner the better. I have learned to know you. _Me_ you
know of old. Insincerity and flattery between us are in vain. I will not
conceal from you, that I always wished to see you my son-in-law. I
rejoiced that Seltanetta had pleased you; your captivity put off my
plans for a time. Your long absence--the rumours of your
conversion--grieved me. At length you appeared among us, and found every
thing as before; but you did not bring to us your former heart. I hoped
you would fall back into your former course; I was painfully mistaken.
It is a pity; but there is nothing to be done. I do not wish to have for
my son-in-law a servant of the Russians."

"Akhmet Khan, I once"----

"Let me finish. Your agitated arrival, your ravings at the door of the
sick Seltanetta, betrayed to every body your attachment, and our mutual
intentions. Through all the mountains, you have been talked of as the
affianced bridegroom of my daughter: but now the tie is broken, it is
time to destroy the rumours; for the honour of my family--for the
tranquillity of my daughter--you must leave us--and immediately. This is
absolutely necessary and indispensable. Ammalat, we part friends, but
here we will meet only as kinsmen, not otherwise. May Allah turn your
heart, and restore you to us as an inseparable friend. Till then,

With these words the Khan turned his horse, and rode away at full gallop
to his retinue. If on the stupefied Ammalat the thunderbolt of heaven
had fallen, he could not have been more astounded than by this
unexpected explanation. Already had the dust raised by the horse's hoofs
of the retiring Khan been laid at rest; but he still stood immovable on
the hill now darkening in the shadow of sunset.


Colonel Verkhoffsky, engaged in reducing to submission the rebellious
Daghestanetzes, was encamped with his regiment at the village of
Kiafir-Kaumik. The tent of Ammalat Bek was erected next to his own, and
in it Saphir-Ali, lazily stretched on the carpet, was drinking the wine
of the Don, notwithstanding the prohibition of the Prophet. Ammalat Bek,
thin, pale, and pensive, was resting his head against the tent-pole,
smoking a pipe. Three months had passed since the time when he was
banished from his paradise; and he was now roving with a detachment,
within sight of the mountains to which his heart flew, but whither his
foot durst not step. Grief had worn out his strength; vexation had
poured its vial on his once serene character. He had dragged a sacrifice
to his attachment to the Russians, and it seemed as if he reproached
every Russian with it. Discontent was visible in every word, in every

"A fine thing wine!" said Saphir Ali, carefully wiping the glasses;
"surely Mahomet must have met with sour dregs in Aravete, when he
forbade the juice of the grape to true believers! Why, really these
drops are as sweet as if the angels themselves, in their joy, had wept
their tears into bottles. Ho! quaff another glass, Ammalat; your heart
will float on the wine more lightly than a bubble. Do you know what
Hafiz has sung about it?"

"And do you know? Pray, do not annoy me with your prate, Saphir Ali: not
even under the name of Sadi and Hafiz."

"Why, what harm is there? If even this prate is my own, it is not an
earring: it will not remain hanging in your ear. When you begin your
story about your goddess Seltanetta, I look at you as at the juggler,
who eats fire, and winds endless ribbons from his cheeks. Love makes you
talk nonsense, and the Donskoi (wine of the Don) makes me do the same.
So we are quits. Now, then, to the health of the Russians!"

"What has made you like the Russians?"

"Say rather--why have you ceased to love them?"

"Because I have examined them nearer. Really they are no better than our
Tartars. They are just as eager for profit, just as ready to blame
others, and not with a view of improving their fellow-creatures, but to
excuse themselves: and as to their laziness--don't let us speak of it.
They have ruled here for a long time, and what good have they done; what
firm laws have they established; what useful customs have they
introduced; what have they taught us; what have they created here, or
what have they constructed worthy of notice? Verkhoffsky has opened my
eyes to the faults of my countrymen, but at the same time to the defects
of the Russians, to whom it is more unpardonable; because they know what
is right, have grown up among good examples, and here, as if they have
forgotten their mission, and their active nature, they sink, little by
little, into the insignificance of the beasts."

"I hope you do not include Verkhoffsky in this number."

"Not he alone, but some others, deserve to be placed in a separate
circle. But then, are there many such?"

"Even the angels in heaven are numbered, Ammalat Bek: and Verkhoffsky
absolutely is a man for whose justice and kindness we ought to thank
heaven. Is there a single Tartar who can speak ill of him? Is there a
soldier who would not give his soul for him? Abdul-Hamet, more wine! Now
then, to the health of Verkhoffsky!"

"Spare me! I will not drink to Mahomet himself."

"If your heart is not as black as the eyes of Seltanetta, you will
drink, even were it in the presence of the red-bearded Yakhounts of the
Shakheeds[9] of Derbent: even if all the Imams and Shieks not only
licked their lips but bit their nails out of spite to you for such a

[9] Shakheeds, traders of the sect of Souni. Yakhount the
senior moollah.

"I will not drink, I tell you."

"Hark ye, Ammalat: I am ready to let the devil get drunk on my blood for
your sake, and you won't drink a glass of wine for mine."

"That is to say, that I will not drink because I do not wish--and I
don't wish, because even without wine my blood boils in me like
fermenting booza."

"A bad excuse! It is not the first time that we have drunk, nor the
first time that our blood boils. Speak plainly at once: you are angry
with the Colonel."

"Very angry."

"May I know for what?"

"For much. For some time past he has begun to drop poison into the honey
of his friendship: and at last these drops have filled and overflowed
the cup. I cannot bear such lukewarm friends! He is liberal with his
advice, not sparing with his lectures; that is, in every thing that
costs him neither risk nor trouble."

"I understand, I understand! I suppose he would not let you go to Avar!"

"If you bore my heart in your bosom you would understand how I felt when
I received such a refusal. He lured me on with that hope, and then all
at once repulsed my most earnest prayer--dashed into dust, like a
crystal kalian, my fondest hopes.... Akhmet Khan was surely softened,
when he sent word that he wished to see me; and I cannot fly to him, or
hurry to Seltanetta."

"Put yourself, brother, in his place, and then say whether you yourself
would not have acted in the same way."

"No, not so! I should have said plainly from the very beginning,
'Ammalat, do not expect any help from me.' I even now ask him not for
help. I only beg him not to hinder me. Yet no! He, hiding from me the
sun of all my joy, assures me that he does this from interest in
me--that this will hereafter bring me fortune. Is not this a fine

"No, my friend! If this is really the case, the sleeping-draught is
given to you as to a person on whom they wish to perform an operation.
You are thinking only of your love, and Verkhoffsky has to keep your
honour and his own without spot; and you are both surrounded by
ill-wishers. Believe me, either thus or otherwise, it is he alone who
can cure you."

"Who asks him to cure me? This divine malady of love is my only joy: and
to deprive me of it is to tear out my heart, because it cannot beat at
the sound of a drum!"----

At this moment a strange Tartar entered the tent, looked suspiciously
round, and bending down his head, laid his slippers before
Ammalat--according to Asiatic custom, this signified that he requested a
private conversation. Ammalat understood him, made a sign with his head,
and both went out into the open air. The night was dark, the fires were
going out, and the chain of sentinels extended far before them. "Here we
are alone," said Ammalat Bek to the Tartar: "who art thou, and what dost
thou want?"

"My name is Samit: I am an inhabitant of Derbend, of the sect of Souni:
and now am at present serving in the detachment of Mussulman cavalry. My
commission is of greater consequence to you than to me.... _The eagle
loves the mountains_!"

Ammalat shuddered, and looked suspiciously at the messenger. This was a
watchword, the key of which Sultan Akhmet had previously written to him.
"How can he but love the mountains?" ... he replied; "In the mountains
there are many lambs for the eagles, and _much silver for men_."

"_And much steel for the valiant_," (yigheeds.)

Ammalat grasped the messenger by the hand. "How is Sultan Akhmet Khan?"
he enquired hurriedly: "What news bring you from him--how long is it
since you have seen his family?"

"Not to answer, but to question, am I come.... Will you follow me?"

"Where? for what?"

"You know who has sent me. That is enough. If you trust not him, trust
not me. Therein is your will and my advantage. Instead of running my
head into a noose to-night, I can return to-morrow to the Khan, and tell
him that Ammalat dares not leave the camp."

The Tartar gained his point: the touchy Ammalat took fire. "Saphir Ali!"
he cried loudly.

Saphir Ali started up, and ran out of the tent.

"Order horses to be brought for yourself and me, even if unsaddled; and
at the same time send word to the Colonel, that I have ridden out to
examine the field behind the line, to see if some rascal is not stealing
in between the sentries. My gun and shashka in a twinkling!"

The horses were led up, the Tartar leaped on his own, which was tied up
not far off, and all three rode off to the chain. They gave the word and
the countersign, and they passed by the videttes to the left, along the
bank of the swift Azen.

Saphir Ali, who had very unwillingly left his bottle, grumbled about the
darkness, the underwood, the ditches, and rode swearing by Ammalat's
side; but seeing that nobody began the conversation, he resolved to
commence it himself.

"My ashes fall on the head of this guide! The devil knows where he is
leading us, and where he will take us. Perhaps he is going to sell us to
the Lezghins for a rich ransom. I never trust these squinting fellows!"

"I trust but little even to those who have straight eyes," answered
Ammalat; "but this squinting fellow is sent from a friend: he will not
betray us!"

"And the very first moment he thinks of any thing like it, at his first
movement I will slice him through like a melon. Ho! friend," cried
Saphir Ali, to the guide; "in the name of the king of the genii, it
seems you have made a compact with the thorns to tear the embroidery
from my tschoukha. Could you not find a wider road? I am really neither
a pheasant nor a fox."

The guide stopped. "To say the truth, I have led a delicate fellow like
you too far!" he answered. "Stay here and take care of the horses,
whilst Ammalat and I will go where it is necessary."

"Is it possible you will go into the woods with such a cut-throat
looking rascal, without me?" whispered Saphir Ali to Ammalat.

"That is, you are afraid to remain here _without me_!" replied Ammalat,
dismounting from his horse, and giving him the reins: "Do not annoy
yourself, my dear fellow. I leave you in the agreeable society of wolves
and jackals. Hark how they are singing!"

"Pray to God that I may not have to deliver your bones from these
singers," said Saphir Ali. They separated. Samit led Ammalat among the
bushes, over the river, and having passed about half a verst among
stones, began to descend. At the risk of their necks they clambered
along the rocks, clinging by the roots of the sweet-briar, and at
length, after a difficult journey, descended into the narrow mouth of a
small cavern parallel with the water. It had been excavated by the
washing of the stream, erewhile rapid, but now dried up. Long
stalactites of lime and crystal glittered in the light of a fire piled
in the middle. In the back-ground lay Sultan Akhmet Khan on a bourka,
and seemed to be waiting patiently till Ammalat should recover himself
amid the thick smoke which rolled in masses through the cave. A cocked
gun lay across his knees; the tuft in his cap fluttered in the wind
which blew from the crevices. He rose politely as Ammalat hurried to
salute him.

"I am glad to see you," he said, pressing the hands of his guest; "and I
do not hide the feeling which I ought not to cherish. However, it is not
for an empty interview that I have put my foot into the trap, and
troubled you: sit down, Ammalat, and let us speak about an important

"To me, Sultan Akhmet Khan?"

"To us both. With your father I have eaten bread and salt. There was a
time when I counted you likewise as my friend."

"But counted!"

"No! you were my friend, and would ever have remained so, if the
deceiver, Verkhoffsky, had not stepped between us."

"Khan, you know him not."

"Not only I, but you yourself shall soon know him. But let us begin with
what regards Seltanetta. You know she cannot ever remain unmarried. This
would be a disgrace to my house: and let me tell you candidly, that she
has already been demanded in marriage."

Ammalat's heart seemed torn asunder. For some time he could not recover
himself. At length he tremblingly asked, "Who is this bold lover?"

"The second son of the Shamkhal, Abdoul Mousselin. Next after you, he
has, from his high blood, the best right, of all our mountaineers, to
Seltanetta's hand."

"Next to me--after me!" exclaimed the passionate Bek, boiling with
anger: "Am I, then, buried? Is then my memory vanished among my

"Neither the memory, nor friendship itself is dead in my heart; but be
just, Ammalat; as just as I am frank. Forget that you are the judge of
your own cause, and decide what we are to do. You will not abandon the
Russians, and I cannot make peace with them."

"Do but wish--do but speak the word, and all will be forgotten, all will
be forgiven you. This I will answer for with my head, and with the
honour of Verkhoffsky, who has more than once promised me his mediation.
For your own good, for the welfare of Avar, for your daughter's
happiness, for my bliss, I implore you, yield to peace, and all will be
forgotten--all that once belonged to you will be restored."

"How boldly you answer, rash youth, for another's pardon, for another's
life! Are you sure of your own life, your own liberty?"

"Who should desire my poor life? To whom should be dear the liberty
which I do not prize myself?"

"To whom? Think you that the pillow does not move under the Shamkhal's
head, when the thought rises in his brain, that you, the true heir of
the Shamkhalat of Tarki, are in favour with the Russian Government?"

"I never reckoned on its friendship, nor feared its enmity."

"Fear it not, but do not despise it. Do you know that an express, sent
from Tarki to Yermoloff, arrived a moment too late, to request him to
show no mercy, but to execute you as a traitor? The Shamkhal was before
ready to betray you with a kiss, if he could; but now, that you have
sent back his blind daughter to him, he no longer conceals his hate."

"Who will dare to touch me, under Verkhoffsky's protection?"

"Hark ye, Ammalat; I will tell you a fable:--A sheep went into a kitchen
to escape the wolves, and rejoiced in his luck, flattered by the
caresses of the cooks. At the end of three days he was in the pot.
Ammalat, this is your story. 'Tis time to open your eyes. The man whom
you considered your first friend has been the first to betray you. You
are surrounded, entangled by treachery. My chief motive in meeting you
was my desire to warn you. When Seltanetta was asked in marriage, I was
given to understand from the Shamkhal, that through him I could more
readily make my peace with the Russians, than through the powerless
Ammalat--that you would soon be removed in some way or other, and that
there was nothing to be feared from your rivalry. I suspected still
more, and learned more than I suspected. To-day I stopped the Shamkhal's
nouker, to whom the negotiations with Verkhoffsky were entrusted, and
extracted from him, by torture, that the Shamkhal offers a thousand
ducats to get rid of you. Verkhoffsky hesitates, and wishes only to send
you to Siberia for ever. The affair is not yet decided; but to-morrow
the detachment retires to their quarters, and they have resolved to meet
at your house in Bouinaki, to bargain about your blood. They will forge
denunciations and charges--they will poison you at your own table, and
cover you with chains of iron, promising you mountains of gold." It was
painful to see Ammalat during this dreadful speech. Every word, like
red-hot iron, plunged into his heart; all within him that was noble,
grand, or consoling, took fire at once, and turned into ashes. Every
thing in which he had so long and so trustingly confided, fell to
pieces, and shrivelled up in the flame of indignation. Several times he
tried to speak, but the words died away in a sickly gasp; and at last
the wild beast which Verkhoffsky had tamed, which Ammalat had lulled to
sleep, burst from his chain: a flood of curses and menaces poured from
the lips of the furious Bek. "Revenge, revenge!" he cried, "merciless
revenge, and woe to the hypocrites!"

"This is the first word worthy of you," said the Khan, concealing the
joy of success; "long enough have you crept like a serpent, laying your
head under the feet of the Russians! 'Tis time to soar like an eagle to
the clouds; to look down from on high upon the enemy who cannot reach
you with their arrows. Repay treachery with treachery, death with

"Then death and ruin be to the Shamkhal, the robber of my liberty; and
ruin be to Abdoul Mousselin, who dared to stretch forth his hand to my

"The Shamkhal? His son--his family? Are they worthy of your first
exploits? They are all but little loved by the Tarkovetzes; and if we
attack the Shamkhal, they will give up his whole family with their own
hands. No, Ammalat, you must aim your first blow next to you; you must
destroy your chief enemy; you must kill Verkhoffsky."

"Verkhoffsky!" exclaimed Ammalat, stepping back.... "Yes!.... he is my
enemy; but he was my friend. He saved me from a shameful death.

"And has now sold you to a shameful life!.... A noble friend! And then
you have yourself saved him from the tusks of the wild-boar--a death
worthy of a swine-eater! The first debt is paid, the second remains due:
for the destiny which he is so deceitfully preparing for you"....

"I feel ... this ought to be ... but what will good men say? What will
my conscience say?"

"It is for a man to tremble before old women's tales, and before a
whimpering child--conscience--when honour and revenge are at stake? I
see Ammalat, that without me you will decide nothing; you will not even
decide to marry Seltanetta. Listen to me. Would you be a son-in-law
worthy of me, the first condition is Verkhoffsky's death. His head shall
be a marriage-gift for your bride, whom you love, and who loves you. Not
revenge only, but the plainest reasoning requires the death of the
Colonel. Without him, all Daghestan will remain several days without a
chief, and stupefied with horror. In this interval, we come flying upon
the Russians who are dispersed in their quarters. I mount with twenty
thousand Avaretzes and Akoushetzes: and we fall from the mountains like
a cloud of snow upon Tarki. Then Ammalat, Shamkhal of Daghestan, will
embrace me as his friend, as his father-in-law. These are my plans, this
is your destiny. Choose which you please; either an eternal banishment,
or a daring blow, which promises you power and happiness; but know, that
next time we shall meet either as kinsmen, or as irreconcilable foes!"

The Khan disappeared. Long stood Ammalat, agitated, devoured by new and
terrible feelings. At length Samit reminded him that it was time to
return to the camp. Ignorant himself how and where he had found his way
to the shore, he followed his mysterious guide, found his horse, and
without answering a word to the thousand questions of Saphir Ali, rode
up to his tent. There, all the tortures of the soul's hell awaited him.
Heavy is the first night of sorrow, but still more terrible the first
bloody thoughts of crime.

* * * * *


We omit any notice of the other written works of Sir Joshua--his
"Journey to Flanders and Holland," his Notes to Mason's verse
translation of Du Fresnoy's Latin poem, "Art of Painting," and his
contributions to the "Idler." The former is chiefly a notice of
pictures, and of value to those who may visit the galleries where most
of them may be found; and in some degree his remarks will attach a value
to those dispersed; the best part of the "Journey," perhaps, is his
critical discrimination of the style and genius of Rubens. The marrow of
his Notes to Du Fresnoy's poem, and indeed of his papers in the "Idler,"
has been transferred to his Discourses, which, as they terminate his
literary labours, contain all that he considered important in a
discussion on taste and art. The notes to Du Fresnoy may, however, be
consulted by the practical painter with advantage, as here and there
some technical directions may be found, which, if of doubtful utility in
practice, will at least demand thought and reasoning upon this not
unimportant part of the art. To doubt is to reflect; judgment results,
and from this, as a sure source, genius creates. There are likewise some
memoranda useful to artists to be read in Northcote's "Life." The
influence of these Discourses upon art in this country has been much
less than might have been expected from so able an exposition of its
principles. They breathe throughout an admiration of what is great, give
a high aim to the student, and point to the path he should pursue to
attain it: while it must be acknowledged our artists as a body have
wandered in another direction. The Discourses speak to cultivated minds
only. They will scarcely be available to those who have habituated their
minds to lower views of art, and have, by a fascinating practice,
acquired an inordinate love for its minor beauties. It is true their
tendency is to teach, to _cultivate_: but in art there is too often as
much to unlearn as to learn, and the _unlearning_ is the more irksome
task; prejudice, self-gratulation, have removed the humility which is
the first step in the ladder of advancement. With the public at large,
the Discourses have done more; and rather by the reflection from that
improvement in the public taste, than from any direct appeal to artists,
our exhibitions have gained somewhat in refinement. And if there is,
perhaps, less vigour now, than in the time of Sir Joshua, Wilson, and
Gainsborough, those fathers of the English School, we are less seldom
disgusted with the coarseness, both of subject and manner, that
prevailed in some of their contemporaries and immediate successors. In
no branch of art is this improvement more shown than in scenes of
familiar life--which meant, indeed "Low Life." Vulgarity has given place
to a more "elegant familiar." This has necessarily brought into play a
nicer attention to mechanical excellence, and indeed to all the minor
beauties of the art. We almost fear too much has been done this way,
because it has been too exclusively pursued, and led astray the public
taste to rest satisfied with, and unadvisedly to require, the less
important perfections. From that great style which it may be said it was
the sole object of the Discourses to recommend, we are further off than
ever. Even in portrait, there is far less of the historical, than Sir
Joshua himself introduced into that department--an adoption which he has
so ably defended by his arguments. But nothing can be more unlike the
true historical, as defined in the precepts of art, than the modern
representation of national (in that sense, historical) events. The
precepts of the President have been unread or disregarded by the
patronized historical painters of our day. It would seem to be thought a
greater achievement to identify on canvass the millinery that is worn,
than the characters of the wearers, silk stockings, and satins, and
faces, are all of the same common aim of similitude; arrangement,
attitude, and peculiarly inanimate expression, display of finery, with
the actual robes, as generally announced in the advertisement, render
such pictures counterparts, or perhaps inferior counterfeits to Mrs
Jarley's wax-work. And, like the wax-work, they are paraded from town to
town, to show the people how much the tailor and mantua-maker have to do
in state affairs; and that the greatest of empires is governed by very
ordinary-looking personages. Even the Venetian painters, called by way
of distinction the "Ornamental School," deemed it necessary to avoid
prettinesses and pettinesses, and by consummate skill in artistical
arrangement in composition, in chiaro-scuro and colour, to give a
certain greatness to the representations of their national events. There
is not, whatever other faults they may have, this of poverty, in the
public pictures of Venice; they are at least of a magnificent ambition:
they are far removed from the littleness of a show. We are utterly gone
out of the way of the first principles of art in our national historical
pictures. Yet was the great historical the whole subject of the
Discourses--it was to be the only worthy aim of the student. If the
advice and precepts of Sir Joshua Reynolds have, then, been so entirely
disregarded, it may be asked what benefit he has conferred upon the
world by his Discourses. We answer, great. He has shown what should be
the aim of art, and has therefore raised it in the estimation of the
cultivated. His works are part of our standard literature; they are in
the hands of readers, of scholars; they materially help in the formation
of a taste by which literature is to be judged and relished. Even those
who never acquire any very competent knowledge of, or love for pictures,
do acquire a respect for art, connect it with classical poetry--the
highest poetry, with Homer, with the Greek drama, with all they have
read of the venerated works of Phidias, Praxiteles, and Apelles; and
having no too nice discrimination, are credulous of, or anticipate by
remembering what has been done and valued--the honour of the profession.
We assert that, by bringing the precepts of art within the pale of our
accepted literature, Sir Joshua Reynolds has given to art a better
position. Would that there were no counteracting circumstances which
still keep it from reaching its proper rank! Some there are, which
materially degrade it, amongst which is the attempt to force patronage;
the whole system of Art Unions, and of Schools of Design, the "in forma
pauperis" petitioning and advertising, and the rearing innumerable
artists, ill-educated in all but drawing, and mere degrading still, the
binding art, as it were, apprenticed to manufacture in such Schools of
Design; connecting, in more than idea, the drawer of patterns with the
painter of pictures. Hence has arisen, and must necessarily arise, an
inundation of mediocrity, the aim of the painter being to reach some
low-prize mark, an unnatural competition, inferior minds brought into
the profession, a sort of painting-made-easy school, and pictures, like
other articles of manufacture, cheap and bad. We should say decidedly,
that the best consideration for art, and the best patronage too, that we
would give to it, would be to establish it in our universities of
Cambridge and Oxford. In those venerated places to found professorships,
that a more sure love and more sure taste for it may be imbedded with
every other good and classical love and taste in the early minds of the
youth of England's pride, of future patrons; and where painters
themselves may graduate, and associate with all noble and cultivated
minds, and be as much honoured in their profession as any in those
usually called "learned." But to return to Sir Joshua. He conferred upon
his profession not more benefit by his writings and paintings, than by
his manners and conduct. To say that they were irreproachable would be
to say little--they were such as to render him an object of love and
respect. He adorned a society at that time remarkable for men of wit and
wisdom. He knew that refinement was necessary for his profession, and he
studiously cultivated it--so studiously, that he brought a portion of
his own into that society from which he had gathered much. He abhorred
what was low in thought, in manners, and in art. And thus he tutored his
genius, which was great rather from the cultivation of his judgment, by
incessantly exercising his good sense upon the task before him, than
from any innate very vigorous power. He thought prudence the best guide
of life, and his mind was not of an eccentric daring, to rush heedlessly
beyond the bounds of discretion. And this was no small proof of his good
sense; when the prejudice of the age in which he lived was prone to
consider eccentricity as a mark of genius; and genius itself,
inconsistently with the very term of a silly admiration, an
_inspiration_, that necessarily brought with it carelessness and
profligacy. By his polished manners, his manly virtues, and his
prudential views, which mainly formed his taste, and enabled him to
disseminate taste, Sir Joshua rescued art from this degrading prejudice,
which, while it flattered vanity and excused vice, made the objects of
the flattery contemptible and inexcusable. If genius be a gift, it is
one that passes through the mind, and takes its colour; the love of all
that is pure, and good, and great, can alone invest genius with that
habit of thought which, applied to practice, makes the perfect painter.
Castiglione considered painting the proper acquirement of the perfect
gentleman--Sir Joshua Reynolds thought that to be in mind and manners
the "gentlemen," was as necessary to perfect the painter. The friend of
Johnson and Burke, and of all persons of that brilliant age,
distinguished by abilities and worth, was no common man. In raising
himself, he was ever mindful to raise the art to which he had devoted
himself, in general estimation.

We have noticed a charge against the writer of the Discourses, that he
did not pursue that great style which he so earnestly recommended.
Besides that this is not quite true--for he unquestionably did adopt so
much of the great manner as his subjects would, generally speaking,
allow--there was a sufficient reason for the tone he adopted, that it
was one useful and honourable, and none can deny that it was suited to
his genius. He was doubtless conscious of his own peculiar powers, and
contemplated the degree of excellence which he attained. He felt that he
could advance that department of his profession, and surely no
unpardonable prudential views led him to the adoption of it. It was the
one, perhaps, best suited to his abilities; and there is nothing in his
works which might lead us to suspect that he would have succeeded so
well in any other. The characteristic of his mind was a nice
observation. It was not in its native strength creative. We doubt if Sir
Joshua Reynolds ever attempted a perfectly original creation--if he ever
designed without having some imitation in view. We mean not to say, that
in the process he did not take slight advantages of accidents, and, if
the expression may be used, by a second sort of creation, make his work
in the end perfectly his own. But we should suppose that his first
conceptions for his pictures, (of course, we speak principally of those
not strictly portraits,) came to him through his admiration of some of
the great originals, which he had so deeply studied. In almost every
work by his hand, there is strongly marked his good sense--almost a
prudent forbearance. He ever seemed too cautious not to dare beyond his
tried strength, more especially in designing a subject of several
figures. His true genius as alone conspicuous in those where much of the
portrait was admissible; and such was his "Tragic Muse," a strictly
historical picture: was it equally discernible in his "Nativity" for the
window in New College Chapel? We think not. There is nothing in his
"Nativity" that has not been better done by others; yet, as a whole, it
is good; and if the subject demands a more creative power, and a higher
daring than was habitual to him, we are yet charmed with the good sense
throughout; and while we look, are indisposed to criticise. We have
already remarked how much Sir Joshua was indebted to a picture by
Domenichino for the "Tragic Muse." Every one knows that he borrowed the
"Nativity" from the "Notte" of Correggio, and perhaps in detail from
other and inferior masters. His "Ugolino" was a portrait, or a study, in
the commencement; it owes its excellence to its retaining this character
in its completion. If we were to point to failures, in single figures,
(historical,) we should mention his "Puck" and his "Infant Hercules."
The latter we only know from the print. Here he certainly had an
opportunity of displaying the great style of Michael Angelo; it was
beyond his daring; the Hercules is a sturdy child, and that is all, we
see not the _ex pede Herculem_. We can imagine the colouring, especially
of the serpents and back-ground, to have been impressive. The picture is
in the possession of the Emperor of Russia. The "Puck" is a somewhat
mischievous boy--too substantially, perhaps heavily, given for the
fanciful creation. The mushroom on which he is perched is unfortunate in
shape and colour; it is too near the semblance of a bullock's heart. His
"Cardinal Beaufort," powerful in expression, has been, we think,
captiously reprehended for the introduction of the demon. The mind's eye
has the privilege of poetry to imagine the presence; the personation is
therefore legitimate to the sister art. The National Gallery is not
fortunate enough to possess any important picture of the master in the
historical style. The portraits there are good. There was, we have been
given to understand, an opportunity of purchasing for the National
Gallery the portrait of himself, which Sir Joshua presented to his
native town of Plympton as his substitute, having been elected mayor of
the town--an honour that was according to the expectation of the
electors thus repaid. The Municipal Reform brought into office in the
town of Plympton, as elsewhere, a set of men who neither valued art nor
the fame of their eminent townsman. Men who would convert the very mace
of office into cash, could not be expected to keep a portrait; so it was
sold by auction, and for a mere trifle. It was offered to the nation;
and by those whose business it was to cater for the nation, pronounced a
copy. The history of its sale did not accompany the picture; when that
was known, as it is said, a very large sum was offered, and refused. It
is but justice to the committee to remind them of the fact, that Sir
Joshua himself, as he tells us, very minutely examined a picture which
he pronounced to be his own, and which was nevertheless a copy.
Unquestionably his genius was for portrait; it suited his strictly
observant character; and he had this great requisite for a
portrait-painter, having great sense himself, he was able to make his
heads intellectual. His female portraits are extremely lovely; he knew
well how to represent intellect, enthusiasm, and feeling. These
qualities he possessed himself. We have observed, in the commencement of
these remarks upon the Discourses, that painters do not usually paint
beyond themselves, either power or feeling--beyond their own grasp and
sentiments; it was the habitual good sense and refinement of moral
feeling that made Sir Joshua Reynolds so admirable a portrait-painter.
He has been, and we doubt not justly, celebrated as a colourist.
Unfortunately, we are not now so capable of judging, excepting in a few
instances, of this his excellence. Some few years ago, his pictures, to
a considerable amount in number, were exhibited at the British
Institution. We are forced to confess that they generally looked too
brown--many of them dingy, many loaded with colour, that, when put on,
was probably rich and transparent: we concluded that they had changed.
Though Sir Joshua, as Northcote in his very amusing Memoirs of the
President assures us, would not allow those under him to try
experiments, and carefully locked up his own, that he might more
effectually discourage the attempt--considering that, in students, it
was beginning at the wrong end--yet was he himself a great
experimentalist. He frequently used wax and varnish; the decomposition
of the latter (mastic) would sufficiently account for the appearance
those pictures wore. We see others that have very much faded; some that
are said to be faded may rather have been injured by cleaners; the
colouring when put on with much varnish not bearing the process of
cleaning, may have been removed, and left only the dead and crude work.
It has been remarked, that his pictures have more especially suffered
under the hands of restorers. It must be very difficult for a
portrait-painter, much employed, and called upon to paint a portrait,
where short time and few sittings are the conditions, to paint a lasting
work. He is obliged to hasten the drying of the paint, or to use
injurious substances, which answer the purpose only for a short present.
Sir Joshua, too, was tempted to use orpiment largely in some pictures,
which has sadly changed. An instance may be seen in the "Holy Family" in
our National Gallery--the colour of the flesh of the St John is ruined
from this cause. It is, however, one of his worst pictures, and could
not have been originally designed for a "holy family." The Mater is
quite a youthful peasant girl: we should not regret it if it were
totally gone. Were Sir Joshua living, and could he see it in its present
state, he would be sure to paint over it, and possibly convert it into
another subject. We do not doubt, however, that Sir Joshua deserved the
reputation he obtained as a colourist in his day. We attribute the
brown, the horny asphaltum look they have, to change. It is
unquestionably exceedingly mortifying to see, while the specimens of the
Venetian and Flemish colourists are at this day so pure and fresh,
though painted centuries before our schools, our comparatively recent
productions so obscured and otherwise injured. Tingry, excellent
authority, the Genevan chemical professor, laments the practice of the
English painters of mixing varnish with their colours, which, he says,
shows that they prefer a temporary brilliancy to lasting beauty; for
that it is impossible, that with this practice, pictures should either
retain their brilliancy or even be kept from decay. We do not remember
to have seen a single historical picture of Sir Joshua's that has not
suffered; happily there are yet many of his portraits fresh, vigorous,
and beautiful in colouring. It should seem, that he thought it worth
while to speculate upon those of least value to his reputation.

Portrait-painting, at the commencement of Sir Joshua's career, was
certainly in a very low condition. A general receipt for face-making,
with the greatest facility seemed to have been current throughout the
country. Attitudes and looks were according to a pattern; and,
accordingly, there was so great a family resemblance, however
unconnected the sitters, that it might seem to have been intended to
promote a brotherly and sisterly bond of union among all the descendants
of Adam. Portrait-painting, which had in this country been so good, was
in fact, with here and there an exception, and generally an exception
not duly estimated, in a degraded state: the art in this respect, as in
others, had become vulgarized. From this universal family-likeness
recipe, Reynolds came suddenly, and at once successfully, before the
world, with individual nature, and variety of character, and portraits
that had the merit of being pictures as well as portraits. He led to a
complete revolution in this department, so that if he had rivals--and he
certainly had one in Gainsborough--they were of his own making. The
change is mostly perceptible in female portraits. They assumed grace and
beauty. Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers were strangely vilified
in their unpleasing likenesses. The somewhat loose satin evening-dress,
with the shepherdess's crook, was absurd enough; and no very great
improvement upon the earlier taste of complimenting portraits with the
personation of the heathen deities. The poetical pastoral, however, very
soon descended to the real pastoral; and, as if to make people what they
were not was considered enough of the historical of portrait, even this
took. We suspect Gainsborough was the first to sin in this degradation
line, by no means the better one for being the furthest from the
divinities. He had painted some rustic figures very admirably, and made
such subjects a fashion; but why they should ever be so, we could never
understand; or why royalty should not be represented as royalty, gentry
as gentry; to represent them otherwise, appears as absurd as if our
Landseer should attempt a greyhound in the character of a Newfoundland
dog. A picture of Gainsborough's was exhibited, a year or two ago, in
the British Institution, Pall-Mall, which we were astonished to hear was
most highly valued; for it was a weak, washy, dauby, ill-coloured
performance, and the design as bad as well could be. It was a scene
before a cottage-door, with the children of George the Third as peasant
children, in village dirt and mire. The picture had no merit to
recommend it; if we remember rightly, it had been painted over, or in
some way obscured, and unfortunately brought to light. Although Sir
Joshua Reynolds generally introduced a new grace into his portraits, and
mostly so without deviating from the character as he found it,
dispensing indeed with the old affectation, we fear he cannot altogether
be acquitted from the charge of deviating from the true propriety of
portrait. Ladies as Miranda, as Hebe, and even as Thais, no very moral
compliment, are examples--some there are of the lower pastoral. Mrs
Macklin and her daughter were represented at a spinning-wheel, and Miss
Potts as a gleaner. There is one of somewhat higher pretensions, but
equally a deviation from propriety, in his portraits of the Honourable
Mistresses Townshend, Beresford, and Gardiner. They are decorating the
statue of Hymen; the grace of one figure is too theatrical, the others
have but little. The one kneeling on the ground, and collecting the
flowers, is, in one respect, disagreeable--the light of the sky, too
much of the same hue and tone as the face, is but little separated from
it--in fact, only by the dark hair; while all below the face and bosom
is a too heavy dark mass. Portrait-painters are very apt to fail
whenever they colour their back-grounds to the heads of a warm and light
sky-colour; the force of the complexion is very apt to be lost, and the
portrait is sure to lose its importance. The "General on Horseback," in
our National Gallery, (Ligonier,) a fine picture, is in no small degree
hurt by the absence of a little greyer tone in the part of the sky about
the head. By far the best portraits by Sir Joshua--and, fortunately,
they are the greater part--are those in real character. His very genius
was for unaffected simplicity; attitudinizing recipes could never have
been adopted by him with satisfaction to himself. Some of his slight,
more sketchy portraits, as yet unexperimented upon by his powerful,
frequently rather too powerful, colouring, his deep browns and yellows,
are unrivalled. Such is his Kitty Fisher, not long since exhibited in
the British Gallery, Pall-Mall. There the character is not overpowered
by the effect.

Gainsborough was the only painter of his day that could, with any
pretension, vie with Sir Joshua Reynolds in portrait. In some respects
they had similar excellences. Both were alike, by natural taste, averse
to affectation, and both were colourists. As a colourist, Gainsborough,
as his pictures are now, may be even preferred to Reynolds. They seem to
have been painted off more at once, and have therefore a greater
freshness; his flesh tints are truly surprising, most true to life. He
probably painted with a more simple palette. The pains and labour which
Sir Joshua bestowed, and which were perhaps very surprising when his
pictures were fresh from the easel, have lost much of their virtue. The
great difference between these great cotemporaries lay in their power of
character. Gainsborough was as true as could be to nature, where the
character was not of the very highest order. Plain, downright common
sense he would hit off wonderfully, as in his portrait of Ralphe
Schomberg--a picture, we are sorry to find, removed from the National
Gallery. The world's every-day men were for his pencil. He did not so
much excel in women. The bent of Sir Joshua's mind was to elevate, to
dignify, to intellectualize. Enthusiasm, sentiment, purity, and all the
varied poetry of feminine beauty, received their kindred hues and most
exquisite expression under his hand. Whatever was dignified in man, or
lovely in woman, was portrayed with its appropriate grace and strength.
Sir Joshua was, in fact, himself the higher character; ever endeavouring
to improve and cultivate his own mind, to raise it by a dignified aim in
his art and in his life, and gathering the beauty of sentiment to
himself from its best source--the practice of social and every amiable
charity--he was sure to transfer to the canvass something characteristic
of himself. Gainsborough was, in his way, a gentle enthusiast,
altogether of an humbler ambition. Even in his landscapes, he showed
that he saw little in nature but what the vulgar see; he had little idea
that what is commonly seen are the materials of a better creation.
Gainsborough was unrivalled in his portraiture of common truth, Reynolds
in poetical truth. Gainsborough spoke in character in one of his
letters, wherein he said, that he "was well read in the volume of
nature, and that was learning sufficient for him." It is said that he
was proud--perhaps his pride was shown in this remark--but it was not a
pride allied with greatness. The pride of Reynolds was quite of another
stamp; it did not disagree with his soundest judgment; his estimate of
himself was more true, and it showed itself in modesty. That such men
should meet and associate but little, is not surprising. That Reynolds
withdrew in "cold and carefully meted out courtesy," is not surprising,
though the expressions quoted are written to disparage Reynolds. The man
of fixed purpose may appear cold when he does not assimilate with the
man of caprice, (as was Gainsborough,) in whose company there is nothing
to call forth a congeniality, a sympathy; and it is probable that
Gainsborough felt as little disposed as Sir Joshua, to preserve, or even
to seek, an intimacy. Their final parting at the deathbed of
Gainsborough was most honourable to them both; and the merit of seeking
it was entirely Gainsborough's. It is singular that any facts should be
so perverted, as to justify an insinuation that Reynolds, whose whole
life exhibited the continued acts of a kind heart, was a cautious and
cold calculator. Good sense has ever a reserve of manner, the result of
a habit of thinking--and in one of a high aim, it is apt to acquire
almost a stateliness; but even such stateliness is not inconsistent with
modesty and with feeling; it is, in fact, the carriage of the mind, seen
in the manner and the person. We make these remarks under a disgust
produced by the singularly illiberal Life of Reynolds by Allan
Cunningham; we think we should not err in saying, that it is maliciously
written. We were reading this Life, and made many indignant remarks as
we read, when the death of the author was announced in the newspapers.
We had determined, as far as our power might extend, to rescue the name
and fame of Reynolds from the mischief which so popular a writer as
Allan Cunningham was likely to inflict. Death has its sanctity, and we
hesitated; indeed, in regret for the loss of a man of talent, we felt
for a time little disposed to think of the ill he may have done; nor
was, on mature consideration, the regret less, that he could not, by our
means, be called to review his own work--his "Lives of the British
Painters"--in a more candid spirit than that in which they appear to
have been written. It is to be lamented that he did not revise it. Its
illiberality and untruth render it very unfit for a "Family Library,"
for which it was composed. Yet it must be confessed, that such regret
was rather one of momentary feeling, than accompanied with any thing
like conviction, or even hope, that our endeavour would have been
successful. There was no one better acquainted with the life of one of
the painters in his work than ourselves. His Life, too, was written in a
most illiberal spirit, though purposely in praise of the artist. But it
was as untrue as it was illiberal. In a paper in _Blackwood_, some years
ago, we noticed some of the errors and mistatements. This, we happen to
know, was seen by the author of the "Lives;" for we were, in
consequence, applied to upon the subject; and there being an intention
expressed to bring out a new edition, we were invited to correct what
was wrong. We did not hesitate, and wrote some two or three letters for
the purpose, and entertained but little doubt of their having been
favourably received, and that they would be used, until we were
surprised by a communication, that the author "was much obliged, but was
perfectly satisfied with his own account." That is, that he was much
_obliged_ for an endeavour to mislead him by falsehood. For both
accounts could not be true. There were, then, but small grounds to hope
that Allan Cunningham would have so revised his work, as to have done
justice to Sir Joshua Reynolds. Besides, after all, "respect for the
dead" moves both ways. The question is between the recently dead and the
long since dead. In the literary world, and in the world of art, both
yet live; and the author of the Life has this advantage, that thousands
read the "Family Library," whilst but few, comparatively speaking, make
themselves acquainted with Sir Joshua Reynolds and his works. We revere
this founder of our English school, and feel it due to the art we love,
to condemn the ungenerous and sarcastic spirit of The Life, by Allan
Cunningham. And if the dead could have any interest in and guidance of
things on earth, we can imagine no work that would be more pleasing to
them, than the removal of even the slightest evils they may have
inflicted; thus making restitution for them. It is very evident
throughout the "Lives," that the author has a prejudice against, an
absolute dislike to, Sir Joshua Reynolds. We stay not to account for it.
There are men of some opinions who, whether from pride, or other
feeling, have an antipathy to courtly manners, and what is called higher
society: jealous and suspicious lest they should not owe, and seen to
owe, every thing to themselves, there is a constant and irritable desire
to set aside, with a feigned, oftener than a real, contempt, the
influence and the homage the world pays to superiority of rank, station,
and education. They would wish to have nothing above themselves. How far
such may have been the case with the writer of the "Lives," we know not,
totally unacquainted as we have ever been, but by his writings. In them
there appears very strongly marked this vulgar feeling. He has stepped
out of his way in other lives, such as those of Wilson and Gainsborough,
to attack Sir Joshua by surmises and insinuations of meanness, blurring
the fair character of his best acts. The generous doings of the
President were too notorious not to be admitted, but generally a
sinister or selfish motive is insinuated. His courtesy was unpleasing,
while extreme coarseness met with a ready apologist. In the several
Lives of Sir Joshua Reynolds, there does not appear the slightest ground
upon which to found a charge of meanness of character: it is
inconceivable how such should have ever been insinuated, while
Northcote's "Life" of him was in existence, and Northcote must have
known him well. He was most liberal in expenditure, as became his
station, and the dignity which he was ambitiously desirous of conferring
upon the art over which he presided. To artists and others in their
distresses he was most generous: numerous, indeed, are the recorded
instances; those unrecorded may be infinitely more numerous, for
generosity was with him a habit. In the teeth of Mr Cunningham's
insinuations we will extract from Northcote some passages upon this
point. "At that time, indeed, Johnson was under many pecuniary
obligations, as well as literary ones, to Sir Joshua, whose generous
kindness would never permit his friends to _ask_ a pecuniary favour, his
purse and heart being always open." That his heart as well as his purse
was open, the following anecdote more than indicates. We are tempted to
give it unaltered, as we find it in the words of Northcote:--

"Sir Joshua, as his usual custom, looked over the daily morning
paper at his breakfast time; and on one of those perusals,
whilst reading an account of the Old Bailey sessions, to his
great astonishment, saw that a prisoner had been tried and
condemned to death for a robbery committed on the person of one
of his own servants, a negro, who had been with him for some
time. He immediately rung the bell for the servants, in order
to make his enquiries, and was soon convinced of the truth of
the matter related in the newspaper. This black man had lived
in his service as footman for several years, and has been
portrayed in several pictures, particularly in one of the
Marquis of Granby, where he holds the horse of that general.
Sir Joshua reprimanded this black servant for his conduct, and
especially for not having informed him of this curious
adventure; when the man said he had concealed it only to avoid
the blame he should have incurred had he told it. He then
related the following circumstances of the business, saying,
that Mrs Anna Williams (the old blind lady lived at the house
of Dr Johnson) had some time previous dined at Sir Joshua's
with Miss Reynolds; that in the evening she went home to Bolt
Court, Fleet Street, in a hackney coach, and that he had been
sent to attend her to her house. On his return he had met with
companions who had detained him till so late an hour, that when
he came to Sir Joshua's house, he found the doors were shut,
and all the servants gone to rest. In this dilemma he wandered
in the street till he came to a watch-house, in which he took
shelter for the remainder of the night, among the variety of
miserable companions to be found in such places; and amidst
this assembly of the wretched, the black man fell sound asleep,
when a poor thief, who had been taken into custody by the
constable of the night, perceiving, as the man slept, that he
had a watch and money in his pocket, (which was seen on his
thigh,) watched his opportunity and stole the watch, and with a
penknife cut through the pocket, and so possessed himself of
the money. When the black awaked from his nap, he soon
discovered what had been done, to his cost, and immediately
gave the alarm, and a strict search was made through the
company; when the various articles which the black had lost
were found in the possession of the unfortunate wretch who had
stolen them. He was accordingly secured, and next morning
carried before the justice, and committed to take his trial at
the Old Bailey, (the black being bound over to prosecute,) and,
as we have seen, was at his trial cast and condemned to death.
Sir Joshua, much affected by this recital, immediately sent his
principal servant, Ralph Kirkly, to make all enquiries into the
state of the criminal, and, if necessary, to relieve his wants
in whatever way could be done. When Kirkly came to the prison
he was soon admitted to the cell of the prisoner, where he
beheld the most wretched spectacle that imagination can
conceive--a poor forlorn criminal, without a friend on earth
who could relieve or assist him, and reduced almost to a
skeleton by famine and filth, waiting till the dreadful morning
should arrive when he was to be made an end of by a violent
death. Sir Joshua now ordered fresh clothing to be sent to him,
and also that the black servant should carry him every day a
sufficient supply of food from his own table; and at that time
Mr E. Burke being very luckily in office, he applied to him,
and by their joint interest they got his sentence changed to
transportation; when, after being furnished with all
necessaries, he was sent out of the kingdom."--P. 119.

"In this year Sir Joshua raised his price to fifty guineas for
a head size, which he continued during the remainder of his
life. His rapidly accumulating fortune was not, however, for
his own sole enjoyment; he still felt the luxury of doing good,
and had many objects of bounty pointed out to him by his friend
Johnson, who, in one of his letters, in this year, to Mrs
Piozzi, enquires 'will the master give me any thing for my poor
neighbours? I have had from Sir Joshua and Mr Strahan.'"--P.

"Sir Joshua, indeed, seems to have been applied to by his
friends on all occasions; and by none oftener than by Dr
Johnson, particularly for charitable purposes. Of this there is
an instance, in a note of Johnson's preserved in his Life, too
honourable to him to be here omitted.

'To Sir Joshua Reynolds.

'Dear Sir--It was not before yesterday that I received your
splendid benefaction. To a hand so liberal in distributing, I
hope nobody will envy the power of acquiring.--I am, dear sir,
your obliged and most humble servant,


'June 23, 1781.'"--P. 278.

The following anecdote is delightful:--

"Whilst at Antwerp, Sir Joshua had taken particular notice of a
young man of the name of De Gree, who had exhibited some
considerable talents as a painter: his father was a tailor; and
he himself had been intended for some clerical office, but, as
it is said by a late writer, having formed a different opinion
of his religion than was intended, from the books put into his
hand by an Abbe who was his patron, it was discovered that he
would not do for a priest, and the Abbe, therefore, articled
him to Gerrards of Antwerp. Sir Joshua received him, on his
arrival in England, with much kindness, and even recommended
him most strongly to pursue his profession in the metropolis;
but De Gree was unwilling to consent to this, as he had been
previously engaged by Mrs Latouche to proceed to Ireland. Even
here Sir Joshua's friendly attentions did not cease, for he
actually made the poor artist a present of fifty guineas to fit
him for his Hibernian excursion; the whole of which, however,
the careful son sent over to Antwerp for the use of his aged
parents."--P. 284.

"It is also recorded, as an instance of his prizing
extraordinary merit, that when Gainsborough asked him but sixty
guineas for his celebrated Girl and Pigs, yet being conscious
in his own mind that it was worth more, he liberally paid him
down one hundred guineas for the picture. I also find it
mentioned on record, that a painter of considerable merit,
having unfortunately made an injudicious matrimonial choice,
was along with that and its consequences as well as an
increasing family, in a few years reduced so very low, that he
could not venture out without danger of being arrested--a
circumstance which, in a great measure, put it out of his power
to dispose of his pictures to advantage. Sir Joshua having
accidentally heard of his situation, immediately hurried to his
residence to enquire into the truth of it, when the unfortunate
man told him all the melancholy particulars of his lot, adding,
that forty pounds would enable him to compound with his
creditors. After some further conversation, Sir Joshua took his
leave, telling the distressed man he would do something for
him; and when he was bidding him adieu at the door, he took him
by the hand, and after squeezing it in a friendly way hurried
off with that kind of triumph in his heart the exalted of human
kind only know by experience whilst the astonished artist found
that he had left in his hand a bank-note for one hundred

Of such traits of benevolence certainly many other instances may be
recorded, but I shall only mention two; "the one is the purchasing a
picture of Zoffani, who was without a patron, and selling it to the Earl
of Carlisle for twenty guineas above the price given for it; and he sent
the advanced price immediately to Zoffani, saying 'he thought he had
sold the picture at first below its real value.'"

The other is--"the clergyman who succeeded Sir Joshua's father as master
of the grammar-school at Plympton, at his decease left a widow, who,
after the death of her husband, opened a boarding school for the
education of young ladies. The governess who taught in this school had
but few friends in situations to enable them to do her much service, and
her sole dependence was on her small stipend from the school: hence she
was unable to make a sufficiently reputable appearance in apparel at
their accustomed little balls. The daughter of the schoolmistress, her
only child, and at that time a very young girl, felt for the poor
governess, and the pitiable insufficiency in the article of finery; but
being unable to help her from her own resources, devised within herself
a means by which it might be done otherwise. Having heard of the great
fame of Sir Joshua Reynolds, his character for generosity, and charity,
and recollecting that he had formerly belonged to the Plympton school,
she, without mentioning a syllable to any of her companions, addressed a
letter to Sir Joshua, whom she had never even seen, in which she
represented to him the forlorn state of the poor governess's wardrobe,
and begged the gift of a silk gown for her. Very shortly after, they
received a box containing silks of different patterns, sufficient for
two dresses, to the infinite astonishment of the simple governess, who
was totally unable to account for this piece of good fortune, as the
compassionate girl was afraid to let her know the means she had taken in
order to procure the welcome present."--P. 307.

Mr Duyes, the artist, says--"malice has charged him with avarice,
probably from his not having been prodigal, like too many of his
profession; his offer to me proves the contrary. At the time that I made
the drawings of the King at St Paul's after his illness, Reynolds
complimented me handsomely on seeing them, and afterwards observed, that
the labour bestowed must have been such, that I could not be remunerated
from selling them; but if I would publish them myself, he would lend me
the money necessary, and engage to get me a handsome subscription among
the nobility."--P. 35l.

We will here mention an anecdote which we believe has never been
published; we heard it from our excellent friend, and enthusiastic
admirer of all that taste, good sense, and good feeling should admire
and love, in art or out of it--now far advanced in years, and, like Sir
Joshua, blind, but full of enjoyment and conversation fresh as ever upon
art, for he remembers and hears, beloved by all who know him, G.
Cumberland, Esq., author of "Outlines," &c. &c. He it was who
recommended Collins, the miniature-painter, to Sir Joshua. Now poor
Collins was one of the most nervous of men, morbidly distrustful of
himself and his powers. Our friend showed us a portrait of Collins,
painted by himself, the very picture of most sensitive nervousness.
Well--Collins waited upon Sir Joshua, who gave him a picture to copy for
him in miniature. Collins took it, and trembled, and looked all
diffidence as he examined Sir Joshua's original. However, he took it
home with him, and after some time came to Cumberland in great
agitation, expressing a conviction that he never could copy it, that he
had destroyed three attempts, and this, said he, is the best I can do,
and I will destroy it. This Cumberland would not allow, and took
possession of it, and an admirable performance it is. Soon another was
done, and Collins took it to Sir Joshua, with many timid expressions and
apologies for his inability, that he feared displeasure for having
undertaken a work above him. Sir Joshua looked at it, declared it to be,
as it was, a most excellent copy, and gave him more to do in the same
way--telling him to go to his scrutoire, open a drawer, and he would
find some guineas, and to take out twenty to pay himself. "Twenty
guineas!" said Collins, "I should not have thought of receiving more
than three!" This kindness and liberality set up poor Collins with a
better stock of self-confidence, and he made his way to celebrity in his
line, and to fortune.

Is it in human nature, that the man of whom such anecdotes are told, and
truly told, could be guilty of a mean unworthy action? Perhaps the
reader will be curious to see how the writer of the "British Painters,"
who, from the recent date of his publication, must have known all these
incidents, excepting the last, has converted some of them, by
insinuating sarcasm, into charges that blurr their virtue. We should say
that he has omitted, where he could omit--where he could not, he is
compelled to contradict himself; for it is impossible that the
insinuations, and the facts, and occasional acknowledgments, should be
together true of one and the same man. We shall offer some specimens of
this _illiberal style_:--A neighbour of Reynolds's first advised him to
settle in London. His success there made him remember this friendly
advice--(the neighbour's name was Cranch.) We quote now from Cunningham.
"The timely counsel of his neighbour Cranch would have long afterwards
been rewarded with the present of a silver cup, had not accident
interfered. 'Death,' says Northcote, 'prevented this act of gratitude. I
have seen the cup at Sir Joshua's table.' The painter had the honour of
the intention and the use of the cup--a twofold advantage, of which he
was not insensible."--_Lives of British Painters_, Vol. i, p. 220.--"Of
lounging visitors he had great abhorrence, and, as he reckoned up the
fruits of his labours, 'Those idle people,' said this disciple of the
grand historical school of Raphael and Angelo--'those idle people do not
consider that my time is worth five guineas an hour.' This calculation
incidentally informs us, that it was Reynolds's practice, in the height
of his reputation and success, to paint a portrait in four hours."--P.
251. In _this_ Life, he could depreciate art, (in a manner we are
persuaded he could not feel,) because it lowered the estimation of the
painter whom he disliked. "One of the biographers of Reynolds imputes
the reflections contained in the conclusion of this letter, 'to that
envy, which perhaps even Johnson felt, when comparing his own annual
gains with those of his more fortunate friend.' They are rather to be
attributed to the sense and taste of Johnson, who could not but feel the
utter worthlessness of the far greater part of the productions with
which the walls of the Exhibition-room were covered. Artists are very
willing to claim for their profession and its productions rather more
than the world seems disposed to concede. It is very natural that this
should be so; but it is also natural, that man of Johnson's taste should
be conscious of the dignity of his own pursuits, and agree with the vast
majority of mankind in ranking a Homer, a Virgil, a Milton, or a
Shakspeare, immeasurably above all the artists that ever painted or
carved. Johnson, in a conversation with Boswell, defined painting to be
an art which could illustrate, but could not inform."--P. 255. Does he
so speak of this art in any other Life; and is not this view false and
ill-natured? Were not Raffaelle, Michael Angelo, Correggio, Titian,
Piombo, epic poets?

"Johnson was a frequent and a welcome guest. Though the sage was not
seldom sarcastic and overbearing, he was endured and caressed, because
he poured out the riches of his conversation more lavishly than Reynolds
did his wines." He was compelled, a sentence or two after, to add, "It
was honourable to that distinguished artist, that he perceived the worth
of such men, and felt the honour which their society shed upon him; but
it stopped not here, he often aided them with his purse, nor _insisted_
upon repayment."--P. 258. We have marked "insisted"--it implies
repayment was expected, if not enforced; and it might have been said,
that a mutual "honour" was conferred. Speaking of Northcote's and
Malone's account of Sir Joshua's "social and well-furnished table," he
adds, "these accounts, however, in as far as regards the splendour of
the entertainments, must be received with some abatement. The eye of a
youthful pupil was a little blinded by enthusiasm. That of Malone was
rendered friendly, by many acts of hospitality, and a handsome legacy;
while literary men and artists, who came to speak of books and
paintings, cared little for the most part about the delicacy of the
entertainment, provided it were wholesome." Here he quotes at length, no
very good-natured account of the dinners given by Courteney.--P. 273.
Even his sister, poor Miss Reynolds, whom Johnson loved and respected,
must have her share of the writer's sarcasm. "Miss Reynolds seems to
have been as indifferent about the good order of her domestics, and the
appearance of her dishes at table, as her brother was about the
distribution of his wine and venison. Plenty was the splendour, and
freedom was the elegance, which Malone and Boswell found in the
entertainments of the artist."--P. 275. If Reynolds was sparing of his
wine, the word "plenty" was most inappropriate. Even the remark of
Dunning, Lord Ashburton, is perverted from its evident meaning, and as
explained by Northcote, and the perversion casts a slur upon Sir
Joshua's guests; yet is it well known who they were. "Well, Sir Joshua,"
he said, "and who have you got to dine with you to-day?--the last time I
dined in your house, the company was of such a sort, that by ----, I
believe all the rest of the world enjoyed peace for that afternoon."--P.
276. This is a gross idea, and unworthy a gentle mind. "By an opinion so
critically sagacious, and an apology for portrait-painting, which
appeals so effectually to the kindly side of human nature, Johnson
repaid a hundred dinners."--P. 276. The liberality to De Gree is shortly
told.--P. 298. "I have said that the President was frugal in his
communications respecting the sources from whence he drew his own
practice--he forgets his caution in one of these notes."--P. 303. We
must couple this with some previous remarks; it is well known that Sir
Joshua, as Northcote tells us, carefully locked up his experiments, and
for more reasons than one: first, he was dissatisfied, as these were but
experiments; secondly, he considered experimenting would draw away
pupils from the rudiments of the art. Surely nothing but illiberal
dislike would have perverted the plain meaning of the act. "The secret
of Sir Joshua's own preparations was carefully kept--he permitted not
even the most favoured of his pupils to acquire the knowledge of his
colours--he had all securely locked, and allowed no one to enter where
these treasures were deposited. What was the use of all this secrecy?
Those who stole the mystery of his colours, could not use it, unless
they stole his skill and talent also. A man who, like Reynolds, chooses
to take upon himself the double office of public and private instructor
of students in painting, ought not surely to retain a secret in the art,
which he considers of real value."--P. 287. He was, in fact, too honest
to mislead; and that he did not think the right discovery made, the
author must have known; for Northcote says--"when I was a student at the
Royal Academy, I was accidentally repeating to Sir Joshua the
instructions on colouring I had heard there given by an eminent painter,
who then attended as visitor. Sir Joshua replied, that this painter was
undoubtedly a very sensible man, but by no means a good colourist;
adding, that there was not a man then on earth who had the least notion
of colouring. 'We all of us,' said he, 'have it equally to seek for and
find out--as, at present, it is totally lost to the art.'"--"In his
economy he was close and saving; while he poured out his wines and
spread out his tables to the titled or the learned, he stinted his
domestics to the commonest fare, and rewarded their faithfulness by very
moderate wages. One of his servants, who survived till lately, described
him as a master who exacted obedience in trifles--was prudent in the
matter of pins--a saver of bits of thread--a man hard and parsimonious,
who never thought he had enough of labour out of his dependents, and
always suspected that he overpaid them. To this may be added the public
opinion, which pictured him close, cautious, and sordid. On the other
side, we have the open testimony of Burke, Malone, Boswell, and Johnson,
who all represent him as generous, open-hearted, and humane. The
servants and the friends both spoke, we doubt not, according to their
own experience of the man. Privations in early life rendered strict
economy necessary; and in spite of many acts of kindness, his mind, on
the whole, failed to expand with his fortune. He continued the same
system of saving when he was master of sixty thousand pounds, as when he
owned but sixpence. He loved reputation dearly, and it would have been
well for his fame, if, over and above leaving legacies to such friends
as Burke and Malone, he had opened his heart to humbler people. A little
would have gone a long way--a kindly word and a guinea prudently
given."--P. 319. Opened his heart to humbler people! was the author of
this libel upon a generous character, ignorant of his charity to humbler
people, which Johnson certified? Why did he not narrate the robbery of
the black servant, and his kindness to the humblest and the most
wretched? What was fifty guineas to poor De Gree? Who were the humbler
people to whom he denied his bounty? And is the fair fame, the honest
reputation--the honourable reputation, we should say--of such a man as
Sir Joshua Reynolds--such as he has been proved to be--such as not only
such men as Burke and Johnson knew him, but such as his pupil and inmate
Northcote knew him--to be vilified by a low-minded biography, the dirty
ingredients of which are raked up from lying mouths, or, at least,
incapable of judging of such a character--from the lips of servants,
whose idle tales of masters who discard them, it is the common usage of
the decent, not to say well-bred world, to pay no attention to--not to
listen to--and whom none hear but the vulgar-curious, or the slanderous?
But if a servant's evidence must be taken, the fact of the exhibition of
Sir Joshua's works for his servant Kirkly should have been enough--to
say nothing here of his black servant. But the story of Kirkly is
mentioned--and how mentioned? To rake up a malevolent or a thoughtless
squib of the day, to make it appear that Sir Joshua shared in the gains
of an exhibition ostensibly given to his servant. The joke is noticed by
Northcote, and the exhibition, thus:--"The private exhibition of 1791,
in the Haymarket, has been already mentioned, and some notice taken of
it by a wicked wit, who, at the time, wished to insinuate that Sir
Joshua was a partaker in the profits. But this was not the truth;
neither do I believe there were any profits to share. However, these
lines from Hudibras were inserted in a morning paper, together with some
observations on the exhibition of pictures collected by the knight--

'A squire he had whose name was Ralph
Who in the adventure went his half,'

thus gaily making a sacrifice of truth to a joke." It is very evident
that this was a mere newspaper squib, and suggested by the "knight and
his squire Ralph;" but Cunningham so gives it as "the opinion of many,"
and with rather more than a suspicion of its truth. "Sir Joshua made an
exhibition of them in the Haymarket, for the advantage of his faithful
servant Ralph Kirkly; but our painter's well-known love of gain excited
public suspicion; he was considered by many as a partaker in the
profits, and reproached by the application of two lines from
Hudibras."--P. 117. But this report from a servant is evidently no
servant's report at all, as far as the words go: they are redolent
throughout of the peculiar satire of the author of the "Lives," who so


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