Page images
PDF
EPUB

Balaklava.-Baidar.

189

mark the ground where the British soldiers had been encamped.

In the harbor of Balaklava we found the Psyche, in which we embarked, and steamed out of the harbor to see the fine rocks at the entrance, where the ship Prince was lost in 1854, and where the Duke of Cambridge had such a narrow escape in the Retribution. On re-landing we went for a few minutes into a Russian house, where we were offered some bread, cheese, and caviar. We here also saw an old Greek officer, whose daughter a Colonel Biddulph, while stationed near the monastery of St. George, had fallen in love with and married. It was now getting late, so we had to hurry on in order to visit the field of . Balaklava. Passing under the village of Kadikoi, we stopped close to the position of the Russian battery. The whole affair was then described both by our English and the Russian gentlemen. We then continued our route at a full gallop through the beautiful Baidar valley. Even now it was quite lovely, and must be extremely so when every thing is green and warm-looking. But at present it is still quite like winter.

We changed horses at Baidar, and went on up the hill to “La Poste de Baidar," and through the "Pharos Pass," a stone gateway on the crest of the hill,

3000 feet above the sea, from whence the view was really grand and beautiful.

It was now four o'clock, and we were glad to get some luncheon, which was prepared for us in a sort of , open tent or summer-house, where we were received

by Madame and Malle. Kotzebue. We started again at five, and drove at a really furious pace down the winding road along the coast, under magnificent rocks and precipices, with villas at intervals all the way, and the ground cultivated close down to the sea. not conceive a more beautiful drive, and I must say I did most thoroughly enjoy the fine scenery of mountains, combined with the civilized look of cultivated land, having seen nothing of the kind for a long while.' The drive, however, was a very long one, and it was half past nine before we arrived at Livadia, a summer palace belonging to the Empress of Russia, where we were to pass the night. The distance from Sebastopol is sixty-five miles ; and when the late hour at which we started, and the numerous stoppages and many deviations we had made from the direct road, are considered, some idea may be formed of the pace at which we were driven. We seemed really to fly, so to speak, through the air, without the slightest check round the sharpest turns, as the road wound almost all the way down hill. There was

I can

a mixed

Furious Driving.-Livadia.

191

feeling of confidence in the coachman and horses, and of a conviction that, if an accident did happen, nothing on earth could save you, as, on one side, you had the rocks rising almost perpendicularly above you, and a fearful precipice below you on the other. Yet, though it grew quite dark, and we had no lights, we galloped on at the same furious pace all the way, and yet, strange to say, I was rather amused than frightened.

Our party in the carriage was very pleasant, and Mr. Russell told us many amusing stories of old times, both of war and peace.

Livadia, where we sleep to-night, is a perfect gem of comfort and beauty, fitted up in the most perfect taste—every thing beautiful, yet so quiet-nothing gaudy about it—no gilding or silk hangings, but my very beau idéal of what such a summer châlet should be, as a residence to which one would wish to fly for rest from a bustling, fussy town life. However, we were all tired-no! I was not a bit tired—but, after dinner, to which we did not sit down till ten o'clock, we all went to bed.

April 15. After a good night's rest, the first thing we did this morning was to go outside the house to look at the scenery, which has been so much talked of. I did not say half enough yesterday of the beauty of the place. I could then only speak of the impression made upon me by the interior of the house; but now, on getting a complete view by daylight of its situation, and of the grand scenery by which it is surrounded, I may well say that this little secluded spot seems a perfect paradise. The tremendous granite precipices in front of us, rising to summits covered with snow, with the sea on the other side, form a combination of the grandest beauties of nature with which those among us who knew Switzerland said even that country could scarcely compare. Looking upon the scene from these grounds, and from a garden full of beautiful flowers, it seemed like a spot of which one might dream as the abode of peace and happiness, rarely attained on earth. An hour—all we had—was far too short a time to enable one to take in all its beauties, and I can only wish that it was nearer England, so that I might have a chance of seeing it again.

Count Stenboch (his family is of Swedish origin) did the honors of the place, and was most kind and amiable. He had been sent all the way from St. Petersburg on purpose to receive us! The Ariadne and Psyche lay off the town of Yalta, having been sent round from Sebastopol to meet us.

Soon after breakfast we set out in small drotskas

Beautiful Villas.- Leave the Crimea. 193

to visit several other villas in the neighborhood. First one close to Livadia, belonging to the Cezarowitch; then by the same road we came yesterday to a large one belonging to the Grand Duke Constantine; and so on to Aloupka, a most beautiful villa of Prince Woronzoff's. Prince Troubetskoi, brother to the Princess Woronzoff, had come here by her desire to receive the Prince and Princess of Wales. We looked at every thing inside and outside the house, admiring it all beyond measure, and then sat down to a magnificent luncheon. As soon as that was over, we drove in some small pony-carriages through the grounds (I driving Sir A. Buchanan), ending at the landing - place, whence we went off to embark once more in the Ariadne, which had come round from Yalta to take us on board.

All our Russian friends came on board to take leave, and at seven o'clock, bidding them finally farewell, we left the Crimea, with much regret on my part that our time in that beautiful country had been so short. The four days spent among these most amiable and most hospitable Russians have been very happy ones, and I don't think there is any part of our travels on which I shall look back with more pleasure. I only feel that the time allowed us was much too short to enable us really to enjoy our visit to this

I

« PreviousContinue »