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undreamed of by the British army. The carpet-dealers are lodged in spacious khans overhanging the river, which, when communications are open with Persia, are well stocked with the products of Tabriz and Ardebil, as well as, at all times, with those of the Caucasus itself, with the gay and attractive rugs of Daghestan and Kuba, of Shemakha and Kazakh, Shirvan and Karabagh.

At the far end of the Armenian bazaar, low-lying by the river, is Sion Cathedral, a venerable building of yellow marble, which is now the metropolitan church of the Katholikos-Patriarch of Georgia. Close by is the palace of the Katholikos, standing in a little garden running down to the bank of the Kura; and it may not be out of place, therefore, at this point to say a word about the ancient Church of Georgia. The Church of Georgia is one of the score or so of 'autocephalous and isotimous,' that is to say, independent Churches, which, in full communion with one another, combine to form the Holy Orthodox Eastern Church. Originally a daughterChurch of the Patriarchate of Antioch, the Church of Georgia acquired her independence in the seventh century, and maintained it uninterruptedly until 1811. She was then incorporated with the Church of Russia; the Katholikos-Patriarch disappeared together with the Georgian liturgy; and in their place came a Russian Exarch and the liturgy in the Slavonic tongue. This state of affairs continued until May 1917, when the clergy of Georgia, anticipating the laity by six months, severed their connexion with Russia and re-established the independence of their Church. The Exarchate was abolished, and a Georgian Katholikos reigned once more in Tiflis. That so much of Georgian culture and raceconsciousness survived the period of Russian rule is due in great measure to the Georgian clergy, to whom the nation owes a deep debt of gratitude in this respect. It is therefore a little surprising to find that his religion sits but lightly on the Christian Georgian of to-day. Indeed, his Moslem neighbours sometimes twit him by attributing his Christianity solely to his fondness for pork and wine. One day at Ananur, a medieval fortified monastery on the Georgian military road, at the junction of the Aragwa (Strabo's Aragon) and a smaller stream, I witnessed a village wedding where only the

priest and the bride were sober and the best man kicked the sacristan, who was prostrating himself before an icon, so that he rolled head over heels in the middle of the service.

The Georgians, it may be mentioned, are doughty if not unrivalled trenchermen. They can sit at table, eating, drinking, and singing, for an unlimited number of hours (I know of a well-authenticated case of thirtysix); and it is no unusual accomplishment for a man to floor at a draught a drinking-horn holding five or six bottles of wine. They have, indeed, good justification for their prowess in this direction, for Georgian wines and Georgian cooking need fear no comparisons. In Lake Gokcha or Sevanga, a large lake on the Armenian side of the Armeno-Georgian frontier, is caught a noble kind of salmon-trout known locally by the name of Ishkhan, an Armenian word meaning 'prince.' This well-named Ishkhan, served up with horse-radish sauce à la Georgienne, followed by boned turkey embedded in a mixture of crushed fresh walnuts and cream, the whole washed down with kruchon made of excellent Kakhetian wine, is a typical if minute fragment of a Georgian meal, and one not to be despised. Kruchon is the cup of the country, differing from ours in the far greater quantity of fruit that is put into it. Peach kruchon is perhaps the most popular form among the Georgians, although, for myself, I confess to a preference for that made with the wild strawberries that grow so abundantly on the mountain sides.


The principal hotels, restaurants, theatres, and public buildings of Tiflis are situated in the street called by the Russians the Golovinski, but by the Georgians renamed the Rustaveli Prospekt. The Golovinski is one of the widest thoroughfares in—I had almost said Europe, for it is difficult to associate with Asia this noble avenue, which would be an ornament to any Western capital. The former Viceroy's palace-now the Georgian House of Parliament-ministries, museums, churches, a fine operahouse displaying the picturesque Georgian coat of arms, clubs, private palaces, handsome shops, compose the street; while to watch the people who frequent it is an education in ethnology. The Caucasus, as is well known, is a mosaic of races, for there has remained behind, in

its deep valleys and remote recesses, a residue of all the peoples who in the course of ages have crossed it to pass from Asia into Europe. Thus there are found in close contiguity specimens of races and languages often belonging to the early ages of the world; especially is this the case in Daghestan, where the inhabitants of adjacent valleys are apt to speak entirely different tongues. On the other hand, a language is sometimes confined to a mere handful of people. I should hesitate to estimate the number of languages habitually spoken in Tiflis, for Tiflis, in addition to its permanent population of Georgians and kindred peoples, of Russians and other Europeans, of Armenians, Tatars, and Persians, and of Nestorians, who wander up from Kurdistan and Urumiah to work as masons, always harbours a certain number of representatives of the mountain races.

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Let us for a moment take our stand under the trees that front the Parliament House and observe this very remarkable throng as it passes backwards and forwards. First the Georgians, lean, lithe, and handsome, in their Cherkesski of grey or brown or claret, prince distinguishable from peasant only by the quality of the arms he carries. Sometimes, in fact, prince and peasant are one. An inquiring Frenchman, ignorant of the East, once asked a friend to explain to him the significance of the term Effendi.' 'Oh,' said the friend, 'c'est à peu près comme prince en Russie.' The reply would have been yet truer if he had said 'comme prince en Georgie,' for the Georgian title which is translated 'prince' includes both grande and petite noblesse, and the latter, under the Georgian feudal system, was often merged with the class of peasant proprietors. Then there are lusty Abkhazes and Circassians from the Black Sea Coast, fierce-looking Svanetians or Svans, the 'Soanes' of Strabo, from the southern slopes of Elbruz. The Svanetians' mountain home, wild and rugged like themselves, is so high that it is accessible to the outer world for not more than four months in the year; and the isolation in which they live has kept them one of the most primitive of Caucasian peoples. Nominally Christians, they have a vague hereditary priesthood, and worship Queen Tamara and sundry pagan divinities under Christian designations. Another primitive folk are the Khevsurs, who inhabit

the mountains south-east of Kazbek. The Khevsurs still dress in armour and chain mail, and for this reason claim to be descended from the Crusaders. Be this as it may, one is afforded a very distinct glimpse into the past when one sees some of these stalwarts, armed cap-à-pie and complete with shield and spear, taking the air on the Golovinski among a fashionably dressed assembly.

Equally interesting in many respects are the Ossetes or Ossetins, who dwell on both slopes of the Caucasus between Kazbek and the territory of the Svanetians. Unlike these and the Khevsurs, the Ossetes are not members of the Karthlian race; neither, however, are they of Germanic origin, as some ingenious persons have endeavoured to deduce from their taste for beer and the chance similarity with German of a few words of their language. In religion they are divided between Islam and the Orthodox Church, but a strong foundation of paganism is common to both branches; and in their valleys, as well as on the higher sections of the Georgian and Ossetin military roads, may still be seen their sacrificial altars, adorned with the horns of the wild goat. The Ossetes are represented in Tiflis chiefly by nursemaids, but under the Russian Empire they furnished a portion of the Imperial bodyguard; and many Ossetes have risen to high command in the Russian army. Despite the lack of definiteness in their religious beliefs, they are a people capable of considerable civilisation, and in Tiflis publish a newspaper in their own tongue, printed in the curious combination of Cyrillic and Roman characters which they affect. The peasant may be recognised by his round white felt hat, identical in shape with the petasus of Hermes; and there is no doubt that the race is of extreme antiquity. The Kabardans and the Ingushes complete the tale of the principal tribes of the central Caucasus; and then we come to the fierce Moslem peoples of Daghestan, who, under the brilliant leadership of Sheikh Shamyl, were for so long a thorn in the side of Russia. Avars, Chechens, Lesghians-these are names that, until the Russians pacified the Caucasus, struck terror into the more peaceful races of the plains. Vigorous and passionate men they are, impatient of authority and alien rule, lawless, ruthless, predatory, and fanatical, yet with a

certain nobility of character, and not altogether lacking in accomplishments lighter than shooting, burning, plundering, and savage warfare. For example, they have not forgotten their friend and benefactor, David Urquhart, whom they revere under the name of Sheikh Daud; while all Caucasians, irrespective of race and creed, dance to the plaintive melody of the Lesghinka.

Tiflis was built by the Persians in 379 A.D., and was made the capital of Georgia by King Vakhtang Gurgarslan about a hundred years later. According to Transcaucasian standards, it is, therefore, a mere upstart among capitals, and a city of mushroom growth compared with MтzêнET, which preceded it as the capital. This euphoniously named town claims to have been founded by Mtzkhethos, the son of Karthlos, and hence fifth in descent from Noah. It also claims, probably with some show of justification, to be the oldest continuously inhabited town in the world. It lies twelve miles northwest of Tiflis, on the Georgian military road, occupying a peninsula or triangle of land formed by the confluence of the Kura and the Aragwa. On the right bank of the Kura, overhanging Mtzkhet from the south, are densely wooded hills, higher and steeper than those above Tiflis; while to the north there opens up the lovely valley of the Aragwa, green and smiling in the river's lower reaches, of surpassing beauty between Ananur and Pasanaur, but narrower and more austere as one nears the Aragwa's source at Kazbek and the pass of Darial of savage grandeur. Mtzkhet is now scarcely more than a village; and its lowly peasant houses look strangely dwarfed by the tall and stately cathedral, which entirely dominates the place and is the principal relic of its former glory.

In the noble cathedral of Mtzkhet is epitomised much of the history of the land of Georgia. Many of the graves of her great men have been rifled and destroyed in the course of successive invasions, but before the iconostasis still lie her last two kings, the valiant Irakli and the luckless George; and the floor of the nave is well-nigh paved with the tombstones of lesser members of the house of Bagration. These display, in all its picturesque details, the coat of arms which associates the Bagratids with their ancestor David. The

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