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they are likewise isolated, for they are Buddhists, and have consequently no co-religionists nearer than India or Tibet. But it is their physiognomy that most strikingly distinguishes them from the surrounding peoples, and stamps them as Mongols of the purest water. To say simply that they are ugly would be to pay them an unmerited compliment. There is something almost infra-human in their ugliness. They show in an exaggerated degree all those repulsive traits which we see toned down and refined in the face of an average Chinaman. As they belong to one of the recognised races of mankind, we must assume that they have souls; but it is difficult, when we see them for the first time, to believe that a human soul lurks behind their expressionless, flattened faces and small, dull, obliquely-set eyes. Placed in a group of them the Bashkir or even the ordinary Kirghis would appear beautiful by contrast. If the Tartar and Turkish races are really descended from ancestors of that type, then we must assume that they have received in the course of time a large admixture of Aryan or Semitic blood.

But we must not be too hard on the poor Kalmuks, or judge of their character by their unprepossessing appearance. They are by no means so unhuman as they look. Men who have lived among them have assured me that they are decidedly intelligent, especially in all matters relating to cattle, and that they are though somewhat addicted to cattle-lifting and other primitive customs not tolerated in the more advanced stages of

civilisation-by no means wanting in some of the better qualities of human nature.

Until very recently there was a fourth pastoral tribe in this region-the Nogai Tartars. They occupied the plains to the north of the Sea of Azof, but they are no longer to be found there. Shortly after the Crimean War they emigrated to Turkey, and their lands are now occupied by Russian, German, Bulgarian, and Montenegrin colonists.

Among these pastoral tribes the Kalmuks may be regarded as recent intruders. They first appeared in the seventeenth century, and were long formidable on account of their great numbers and compact organisation; but in 1771 the majority of them suddenly struck their tents and retreated to their old home in the north of the Celestial Empire. Those who remained were easily pacified, and have long since lost, under the influence of unbroken peace and a strong Russian administration, their old warlike spirit. Their latest military exploits were performed during the last years of the Napoleonic wars, and were not of a very serious kind; a troop of them accompanied the Russian army, and astonished Western Europe by their uncouth features, their strange costume, and their primitive accoutrements, among which their curious bows and arrows figured conspicuously.

The other pastoral tribes which I have mentioned are the last remnants of those nomadic hordes which from time immemorial down to a comparatively recent period held the vast plains of Southern Russia. The long struggle between those hordes and the agricultural

colonists from the north-west-closely resembling the long struggle between the Redskins and the white settlers on the prairies of North America-forms an important page of Russian history.

Like all young, vigorous agricultural races, the Russians have always shown a strong tendency to expand and to appropriate the territory of their neighbours. Towards the north and north-east they had little difficulty in giving free scope to this tendency, for they found there a country thinly peopled by peaceful Finnish tribes, who did not object to foreign colonists settling among them. But here on the Steppe they met with a very different reception. The country was quite as thinly peopled, but the inhabitants were of a different stamp and led a different kind of life-not peaceful agriculturists, but warlike nomads, who stoutly resisted all encroachments on their pasture-grounds, and considered cattle-lifting, kidnapping, and pillage as a legitimate and worthy occupation. "Their raids," says an old Byzantine writer, "are as flashes of lightning, and their retreat is at once heavy and light-heavy from booty and light from the swiftness of their movements. For them a peaceful life is a misfortune, and a convenient opportunity for war is the height of felicity. Worst of all, they are more numerous than bees in spring; their numbers are innumerable." "Having no fixed place of abode," says another Byzantine authority, "they seek to conquer all lands and colonise none. They are flying people, and therefore cannot be caught. As they have neither towns nor villages, they must be hunted like

wild beasts, and can be fitly compared only to griffins, which beneficent Nature has banished to uninhabited regions." As a Persian distich, quoted by Vambéry, has it

"They came, conquered, burned,
Pillaged, murdered, and went."

Their raids are thus described by an old Russian chronicler:-" They burn the villages, the farmyards, and the churches. The land is turned by them into a desert, and the overgrown fields become the lair of wild beasts. Many people are led away into slavery; others are tortured and killed, or die from hunger and thirst. Sad, weary, stiff from cold, with faces wan from woe, barefoot or naked, and torn by the thistles, the Russian prisoners trudge along through an unknown. country, and, weeping, say to one another, I am from such a town, and I from such a village.' And in harmony with the monastic chroniclers we hear the nameless Slavonic Ossian wailing for the fallen sons of Rus: "In the Russian land is rarely heard the voice of the husbandman, but often the cry of the vultures, fighting with each other over the bodies of the slain; and the ravens scream as they fly to the spoil."

This struggle between agricultural colonisation and nomadic barbarism went on for centuries with varying success. In the earliest period of Russian history the colonists advanced rapidly, and gained possession of a large portion of the Steppe; but in the thirteenth century the tide of fortune suddenly turned. The whole of the country was conquered by nomadic hordes, and for

more than two centuries Russia was in a certain sense ruled by Tartar Khans. As I wish to speak at some length of this Tartar domination, I shall devote to it a separate chapter.

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