THE CIRCASSIAN EXODUS.
We must go back to a very distant period if we seek a parallel to the flight of the Circassians from their homes to a strange land. From hundreds it increased to thousands, and from thousands to tens of thou sands, and then to hundreds of thousands. Lord Stratford de Redcliffe stated at the meeting held at the London Tavern on the 8th of July, that the number of emigrants who had reached Turkish territory exceeded 300,000, and we have good authority for believing that the actual number who have fled from their homes exceeds 400,000; and that, unless the emigration is checked by the news of the sufferings their predecessors have undergone, this number will be still further increased. Anything like precision in the statements made on this point is, however, difficult of attainment; so much so, that we find Mr. Layard stating in the House of Commons, in reply to a question asked by a member of the House, that the estimates varied from 100,000 to 300,000; but he considered the probability was, the real number was about 150,000. Mr. Stevens, our consul at Trebizond, under date the 19th of the same month, says that 25,000 had been landed at Trebizond, and 40,000 at Samsoun; and that 200,000 more were expected, ” whom the Russians are said to have insisted should leave their country before the middle of June.”
The Russians themselves said that the number of those who emigrated in March was 30,000, and that by the end of April there would be upwards of 100,000 more ranged at different points along the Russian coast between Anapa and Sotcha. The report to the Board of Health at Constantinople made by their officer, states that he found at Samsoun between 80,000 and 90,000 emigrants iu the town and the encampments, who occupied every place where they could obtain the slightest shelter, and that in a few days this number would be doubled. This, be it remembered, referred to Samsoun alone, and there were sundry other places where they were stationed.
To transport such a multitude as this from Russian to Turkish territory would, under the best system, have been a work of great difficulty, and required a large number of trans ports; whereas the means at the disposal of the Turkish government were very limited. In addition to the transports they were able to engage for this purpose, they sent some vessels of war, which the Russian government permitted to come to their coast for the purpose, on the condition that they left their armament in Turkey. Lord Napier, in his despatch to Earl Russell, said that the Grand Duke Michael had asked and received authority to call to his assistance all the Russian vessels of war in the Black Sea, and as many merchant vessels as could be disposed of, for this duty, so as to provide better means of transport for those who were still bent on leaving the country. This information was derived from the Russian Government in St. Peters burg; but the Invalide Russe goes beyond this, and says that the Russian Government had sent several vessels of war and transports, and also several private steamers it had chartered for the purpose. Besides which, it had given every encouragement to shipowners of all countries to send vessels to aid in the transportation of the emigrants to Turkish territory. Our Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs is again in collision with the Russian announcements. He says that Russia con fined its assistance in tins matter to sending four transports. The English Government likewise sent transports; but there is no doubt that all the means of conveyance employed were insufficient to remove them with the expedition desirable, or with a due regard to sanitary considerations; indeed some of these vessels became mere floating pest-houses.
It will enable us to form a better idea of the fearful mortality among these poor creatures, if we refer to what was the state of matters as described by our consul at Trebizond, in his despatches to Earl Russell, written in February last: ” The quarters in the vicinity of the cemeteries are rendered uninhabitable owing to the careless manner in which the dead are buried, and the offensive consequences thereof; and whole families are abandoning their dwellings. The chief aqueduct which feeds the fountains of the town is tainted, a Circassian corpse having been found floating therein a few days ago. The streets and squares are in a wretched filthy condition, provisions are getting scarce and dear, and fuel is completely wanting, all which augments the misery, and tends to the spread of disease.”
A recently published letter states the number of deaths to be 600 daily. To aggravate the miseries of disease, that of want of food, even of bread, was added; the fear of catching the disease causing the bakers to close their shops and fly from the pest-stricken town. The same dread caused all who were able among the in habitants to do likewise; and some of those who could not leave the place, laid in a stock of pro visions and shut themselves up as in a prison. Among the diseases which swept them off were small-pox, typhus fever, and dysentery. The account given by Dr. Barozzi in his report to the Board of Health at Constantinople of the state of things in this respect which he found at Samsoun at about the same time, is the most revolting that can be imagined, and more than confirms Mr. Stevens’ statements. From the description he gives, we are led to believe that the emigrants are of an Page:Once a Week Jun to Dec 1864.pdf/319 Page:Once a Week Jun to Dec 1864.pdf/320 Page:Once a Week Jun to Dec 1864.pdf/321 Page:Once a Week Jun to Dec 1864.pdf/322