There is no country where so much wine is drank as in Georgia, even a laborer is allowed five bottles a day. The grapes are exceedingly fine, quite different from the little berries called grapes in Circassia. The casks are very curious, they are the skins of buffaloes, and as the tails and legs are not cut off, a skin filled with wine looks like a dead, or a sleeping buffalo.
And what is the religion of Georgia? It is the Russian religion, because the Russians have conquered the country. They cannot conquer the brave, and active Circassians, but they have conquered the soft, and indolent Georgians. The Georgians are called Christians, but the Greek Church, which is the Russian religion, is a Christianity, laden with ceremonies and false doctrines.
There is but one town in Georgia. It is beautifully situated on the steep banks of a river, with terraces of houses, embosomed in vineyards. So little do the people care for reading, that there is not a bookseller’s shop in the town, and it is very seldom that a bookcase is seen in a house; for the Georgians love show, and entertainments, and idleness, but not study.
This is one of the largest countries in the world, yet it does not contain as many people as the small land of France. How is this? You will not be surprised that many people do not live there, when you hear what sort of a country it is.
Fancy a country quite flat, as far as eye can see, except where a few low sand-hills rise; a country quite bare, except where the coarse grass grows;—a country quite dry, except where some narrow muddy streams run. Such is Tartary. What is a country without hills, without trees, without brooks? Can it be pleasant? This flat, bare, dry plain, is called the steppes of Tartary. In one part of Tartary, there is a chain of mountains, and there are a few towns, and trees, but very few. You may travel a long while without seeing one.
Nothing can be so dreary as the steppes appear in winter time. The high wind sweeping along the plain, drives the snow into high heaps, and often hurls the poor animals into a cold grave. Sledges cannot be used, because they cannot slide on such uneven ground. But if the white ground looks dreary in winter, the black ground looks hideous in summer; for the hot sun turns the grass black, and fills the air with black dust, and there are no shady groves, no cool hills, no refreshing brooks. There must, indeed, be a little shade among the thistles, as they grow to twice the height of a man; but how different is such shade from the shade of spreading oaks like ours! Instead of nice fruit, there is bitter wormwood growing among the grass, and when the cows eat it, their milk becomes bitter.
WILD ANIMALS.—The most common, is a pretty little creature called the sooslik. It is very much like a squirrel.