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he conquered march in triumph, trampling out, foot by foot, the last remnants of the race which swept their forefathers from the face of the earth.
To me, at least, there are few pictures in the whole gallery of history more touching than the last scene of the great destroyer. Persecuted and hunted like a wild beast, the indomitable man has triumphed over all opposition, has returned victorious from thirty-five bloody campaigns, and wasted Central Asia with fire and sword, till “a child may carry a purse of gold unharmed from the east to the west.” From the shores of the Bosphorus to the peaks of the Himalaya, the name of Timour is a terror to all that breathe ; but all this is not enough. Aged, wounded, broken, lame of one hand and foot, with twenty-seven crowns trampled in the dust beneath him, the terrible guerilla is still untamed and untameable. Yonder, behind the peaks of the Thian-Shan, lies ancient China, with its rich rice-fields still unwasted, and its three hundred millions of population still unmassacred. Forward with the Tartar standards!
But, swift as is his march, the flight of Death is swifter ; the blue hills of the Syr-Daria are still in sight, when the great conqueror falls to rise no more. At the touch of that cold hand, a momentary twinge of repentance fits for the first time across the fierce spirit. Slowly and wearily, the hand that once hewed down men like thistles traces its first and last confession of remorse :—“ It may be that Allah is wroth with me for what I have done ; wherefore I would fain have . 331 expiated my sins by exterminating the idolaters of China.” What a picture! The mightiest intellect of the age, dimly conscious of something higher, something better, than it has ever known, and seeking a cure for its restless longings after the Unseen only in fresh murder and fresh devastation. Peace be with him. He has learned, long ere this, what it was that he sought in vain upon earth ; and it may be that He whose mercy is high as the heaven above the earth, has had pity even upon him.
“So much for the Gour-Emir," says M- , as we emerge again into the sunshine. “Let's look at the programme, and see what we have left.”
He produces his written list (which lies before me as I write, sorely tattered and stained, but still legible) and cons it over : “Koktash Stone—that's in the citadel; Mosques of Tilliah-Kari, Shir-Dar, and Ooloog-Begithose are all in the great square ; Mosque of BibiKhanam, &c. Well, I'll tell you what we'll do; we'll take the mosques first, one after another, and keep the citadel to the end.”
Ten minutes later, we debouch upon the Great Square (described in Chapter xxviii.), and see above us the great masses of the three mosques glowing like rainbows in the splendour of their gorgeous colouring, under a flood of burning sunshine. Following our pilot, we pass through the mighty archway of the TilliahKari, and find ourselves in a bonå fide “college quad.," peopled by the university men of Samarcand.
“They don't learn much,” says M— who has a thoroughly Russian contempt for the native stock, "only scraps of the Koran, and such like trash. You'll
be able to see their way of life, however; but though it's certainly a curious sight, I can't call it very attractive.”
And well may he say so. Imagine a man unlocking a disused cellar, and surprising there a gang of ambushed thieves, and you have an idea of the sight which presents itself in every cell that we enter. Filth, darkness, discomfort, beyond all description; dens which, if everything were put to its right use, should belong to a college of wolves, presided over by a common room of gorillas. And the tenants are worthy of their abode. One or two among the countless faces show some vestiges of intellect and manliness, but the majority are of a low, grovelling, bestial type, sufficient of itself to confirm the hideous stories everywhere current respecting them. Faugh! let us pass on.
“The motto of that university,” remarks my comrade, as we turn away, “should be ‘Nihil humani.'”
“And I would certainly say with regard to every member of it, “A me alienum puto.' It's too bad to call them beasts. What have the poor beasts done to deserve it?"
From the Tilliah-Kari we cross over to the Shir-Dar, and ascend the easternmost of the two towers—the stair of the other being choked with rubbish. In some points the view from it surpasses even that of our first arrival; for now the bold outline of the Tchepan-Ata comes in to complete the encircling life-guard of mountains; while the details of the city itself, now lying right beneath our feet, are all perfectly visible.
It is Damascus over again—but Damascus on a grand scale, with all its splendid features intensified. From that tremendous height, the swarming streets of the town, the files of camels creeping like mice over the broad white surface of the “Citadel Plain," the battered walls of the fortress, the vast many-coloured towers of the other mosques, the sea of vegetation around, and the great bastions of naked mountain that shut in the landscape—are all clear as on a map; while, in the magnificent transparency of the atmosphere, the farthest ridges seem almost within reach. From the point where we stand, one might let fall a plumb-line two hundred feet and more, into the thickest crowd of the great market-place; and the mingled clamour from below comes up to us like the roar of a distant sea.
One by one, the mosques are disposed of. After the Shir-Dar comes the Ooloog-Begi ; after the OoloogBegi, the Bibi-Khanam and its companions. All are very much of one type—the type of the Azret-ez-Sultan at Turkestan, as described in chapter xxiv.; two tall funnel-shaped towers, flanking a huge pointed archway. But over each and all hangs the mournful interest attaching to the last relics of an extinct dynasty and a forgotten civilisation. These are the graves of an era —the monuments of the Titans who reigned here in days when Russia was cowering behind the Volga, and paying tribute to the ancestors of those who tremble before her in these streets to-day. And now the Titans, in their turn, are dethroned by the boy-Jupiter of Russian conquest, in the insolence of his young might,