Circassia is situated between two seas:—
The Black Sea, and
The Caspian Sea.
What a wonderful place is the Caspian Sea. It is like a lake, only so immensely large, that it is called a sea. The waters of lakes are fresh, like those of rivers; but the waters of the Caspian are salt, but not so salt as the salt sea. The shores of the Caspian are flat, and unwholesome. You might think as you stood there, that you were by the great ocean, for there are waves breaking on the sands, and water as far as the eye can reach, but there is no freshness in the air as by the real sea.
The mountains of Caucasus run through Circassia. They are quite low compared to the Himalaya; they are about the height of the Alps, and the tops are covered with snow. But the valleys between these mountains, are not like the Swiss valleys, which are broad and pleasant; but these valleys are narrow, and dark, and not fit to live in, yet they are of great use as hiding-places for the Circassians. When pursued by a Russian, a Circassian will urge his horse to dash down the dark valley, and lest his horse should be alarmed by the sight of the dangerous depth below, he will cover the animal’s eyes with his cloak. Thus, many a bold rider escapes from a cruel soldier.
When you hear of Circassia, you will generally hear of Georgia too, for the countries lie close together, and resemble one another in many respects. But though so near, their climate is different; for Circassia lies beyond the mountains of Caucasus, and is therefore, exposed to the cold winds of the north. But Georgia lies beneath the mountains, and is sheltered from the chill blasts. Georgia is, therefore, far more fruitful than Circassia, the people, too, are less fair, and less industrious. The sides of the hills are clothed with vines, and houses with deep verandahs are scattered among the vineyards, and women wrapped in long white sheets may be seen reposing in the porticoes, enjoying the soft air, and lovely prospect. While Circassian ladies are busy weaving and milking, the Georgian ladies loll upon their couches, and do nothing. Which do you think are the happier? These Georgian ladies, too, though very handsome, are much disfigured by painted faces, and stained eyebrows. Their countenances, too, are lifeless, and silly, as might be expected, since they waste their time in idleness. Over their foreheads, they wear a kind of low crown, called a tiara.