The image of Crimea among British travelers Edward Clarke and Reginald Heber at the turn of the 18th-19th centuries

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Abstract


This paper analyses two books by British travellers offering accounts of Crimea in the first decades of the Russian period in its history. Crimea became a stage in Western Grand Tour, offering a possibility to view and discuss different phenomena: Mediterranean environment, cultural heritage sites, multiethnic populations confessing different religions, the change of Crimea’s political status, and the first results of Russia’s attempts of its integration. The comparison of these two travelogues with other sources and the materials supplied by current researches has uncovered who the British mind interpreted Crimean realities. The travellers created unified image of Crimea featuring its past, present, and future. The travelogues under analysis uncover the features of researchers’ thinking in the period of transition from the Enlightenment to the Romanticism. This way, the notion of ethnic processes actually restricted to the search for modern parallels of ancient ethnic names. The books under study reflect a complicated and controversial process of Crimea’s integration into the Russian Empire. Heber considered the future as economic progress and therefore thought it necessary to develop Crimean trade, infrastructure, and economy, building them into all-Russia and all-Europe network. Clarke’s opinion of Russia was distinctly negative, therefore he thought desirable to ‘return’ Crimea to the Ottomans. The travellers created several stereotypes, such as the ideas of ‘earthly paradise’ in Crimea, ‘Tatar laziness,’ ‘golden age’ of the Crimean khanate, or ‘barbarous destruction’ of cultural heritage monuments by Russians, still existing in Western mind.


Introduction ‘The capture of the Crimea excited the attention of all Europe,’ wrote the famous British traveler Edward Daniel Clarke, who visited the peninsula in 1800.1 Russia’s conquest of Crimea 17 years earlier had not just changed the balance of power in the Black Sea region. Almost immediately, many found it an ideal place for an educational trip. The peninsula’s geography varied, from the barren steppe in the north to picturesque mountains and the subtropical coast in the south. There was a wide variety of nationalities, who spoke exotic languages and belonged to strange religions and cultures. Numerous archaeological sites held artefacts from ancient Greece and Rome, medieval Europe, and Islam. Visitors could also study Russian efforts to develop frontier lands, while also contemplating the historical role of Moscow and the Ottoman Porte. As a result, Taurica, as the Greeks had known the peninsula, immediately became an important stop on the Grand Tour - the journey young European noblemen took before settling down to begin the responsibilities of adulthood. Studying images of Russia and Russian people has become a popular topic of research in the West.2 Although its conquest in 1783 added Crimea to the Russian empire, culturally, it was still seen as Oriental - as some travelogues suggested. Usually lengthy, they described the route an author took, allowing the armchair tourist to travel to the distant land in his imagination. Adding Crimea to his itinerary added interest to such literature, since many were now paying attention to the new Russian domain. As a result, both Russian and foreign scholars have studied the region’s image.3 Indeed, considering how Crimea is perceived results in a more nuanced understanding of British views of ‘the Other,’ especially with respect to Russia’s historical mission. At the same time, it sheds light on how English Orientalism influenced the understanding of the lifestyles, religions and history of Tauric Muslims and Jews. Among the first who told the West about the previously unknown land were two Englishmen - Edward Clarke and Reginald Heber. Their works reflect the complex and controversial process of Crimea’s integration into the Russian Empire, while also helping to form often enduring images of the exotic peninsula in the Western mind. Clarke and Heber were the spokesmen of an ‘outskirts of civilization’ attitude typical in Western European culture. Their works are interesting both because of the range of sources they collected as well as their effect on historiography.4 Modern studies, especially Western ones, still often rely on them uncritically. They take Clarke at his word when he reports about the ruthless destruction of Crimean Tatar heritage by Russians as they dismantled mosques, palaces, and manors for building materials. They also recall the traveler’s account of soldiers killing a Muslim cleric, who climbed up the minaret of one of mosques. Clarke’s credibility as an eyewitness is taken beyond any doubt.5 Of course, many architectural and archaeological sites were destroyed under Russian rule. However, wars, unrest during the Tatar khanate’s final years, and the mass emigration of its Muslim population also played their part. Clarke’s tendency to exaggerate Russian ‘barbarism,’ and the inconsistencies of his facts when compared to other sources, were already apparent in the late 19th century.6 The shocking story about the death of the mullah retold an urban legend, which was also known from other sources. Apparently, unlike real events, it reflected the psychological trauma of Crimean Tatars as they fell under Christian rule.7 Despite often being linked to the arrival of Empress Catherine II to Bakhchisaray, the extensive array of accounts about her famous southern journey - even by authors critical of Russia - does not mention the episode. Recent publications discuss the influence of European perceptions about the East on Clarke’s travelogue, address such questions as using archeology for ideological purposes, justify the ‘barbaric’ nature of Russia, as well as Heber’s views on the Crimea’s society and economy.8 Today, the study of travelogues applies discursive analytic tools developed by historical science, literary criticism, political science, and cultural studies.9 The purpose of this article is to reveal the image of Crimea that Clarke and Heber fashioned. The juxtaposition of this image with other sources and the results of modern researches will uncover how Crimean realities were transformed in the British mind. Comparative analysis of Heber’s and Clarke’s travelogues is capable of discovering the impact of subjective circumstances on the evaluation of what the travelers saw. The examination of the travelogues in the context of the actual knowledge of Crimea in that time would explain their role for the shaping of the image of this peninsula in public mind. Finally, Russia’s role in Crimea’s fate as described by the travelers will be also be assessed, along with their speculations about its prospects, which affected the views of future generations. Life details of Edward Clarke and Reginald Heber Edward Daniel Clarke (1769-1822) was born into a poor family. A lack of money forced the gifted Cambridge graduate to become a tutor to John Marten Cripps (1780-1853) and embark on a journey through Europe, Russia, and Middle East. In 1800, the British travelers visited Crimea. First published in 1810, their description of the peninsula formed an important part of multi-volume Clarke’s Travels. Fragments of his travel diary were combined with encyclopedic descriptions of the nature, geography, and archaeology of the region, and elements of political pamphlet. Even in the author’s lifetime, the Crimean volume went through five publications in its original language - not to mention its French and German translations as well. The publication of his travelogue and the sale of the collections accumulated in the East ensured the author’s fame, money, and a career as a Cambridge professor. In his footnotes, he quoted the diary of his friend Heber, which were unpublished at the time, and used his drawings as illustrations. By contrast, Reginald Heber (1783-1826) had money, which enabled him to take a long overseas trip after graduating from Oxford. In 1806, Heber and his friend John Thornton (1783-1861) visited Crimea. Heber may have regretted his kindness in letting Clarke use his travel notes later on. In 1812, he wrote: Heber was renowned for composing religious hymns and his later works as missionary and teacher led to his appointment as an Anglican bishop in Calcutta. To recognize Heber’s merits, his friends were permitted to put the bishop’s cenotaph in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, near the graves of those who had defeated Napoleon - Arthur Wellington and Horatio Nelson. After his death, Heber’s diaries and letters were published, as well as the incomplete History of the Cossacks. Both Britons appreciated each other’s observations. Clarke praised Heber for his accuracy and the statistics he collected.11 Meanwhile, Heber complimented Clarke’s knowledge of antiquities, as well as the liveliness of his sketches and his power of comparing one nation with another.12 The notes of the two Britons differ from the sentimental and romantic travelogues that were popular at the time. Heber preferred simply recording his observations, while Clarke, inclined to analytics, added the results of armchair studies to his descriptions of his voyages. Heber did not have this opportunity, but this fact makes looking at the similarities and differences between the travelogues of the authors all the more interesting. Images of Crimea and its inhabitants: Between reality and stereotypes To most travelers, Crimea seemed like garden of paradise. On his departure, Heber noted: it was really like being turned out of paradise, when we abandoned these beautiful mountains, and again found ourselves in the vast green desert…13 Clarke specified that only the peninsula’s southern coast fit that description: If there exist upon earth a terrestrial paradise, it is to be found in the district intervening between Kutchuckoy and Sudak, along the south coast of the Crimea.14 Indeed, Crimea’s northern and central regions are arid plain, consisting of semidesert and steppe. To the south are forested mountains separated with fertile valleys. Further south, between the cliffs of the Main Ridge of the Crimean Mountains and the sea, there lies a narrow strip of southern coast with a Mediterranean climate. In the early years of Russian rule, this was an almost inaccessible area that could be only be reached on horseback by crossing the mountain passes from the north or approaching it along the seashore from the east. It is no coincidence that travelers thought of the peninsula’s south as a paradise, with its romantic landscapes and lush subtropical vegetation, far from the bustling cities. Together with naval Sevastopol and oriental Bakhchisaray, it replaced the steppes, which covered three-quarters of the peninsula, in images of Crimea. Yet the paradise had some unpleasant features. The peninsula was inhabited by dangerous insects. Heber complained of mosquitoes,15 Clarke described and sketched locusts, scolopendra (large, venomous centipedes), tarantulas, phalangium (a type of spider), and nearly fell victim to malaria.16 To guard against this disease, Heber advised avoiding fruits and fatty foods. He also contracted a skin disorder, which wasn’t cured until near the end of his life.17 Instead of medicines, Crimean Tatars used prayers and amulets,18 which made them seem all the more barbaric, thereby reinforcing notions of Crimea as Eastern Europe, or the edge of civilization. According to 18th century intellectuals, exotic diseases and a lack of qualified doctors were among the characteristics of ‘uncivilized peoples.’19 Clarke clearly understood that descriptions Crimean paradise were not congruent with details about illnesses and poisonous insects. Hence, the conclusion was that Crimea is blessed only for its natives, while being deadly for newcomers, especially its Russian conquerors.20 This recalls the opinion of Prince Mikhail Shcherbatov, a leading critic of Catherine II, who noted that Crimea’s conquest was useless, since the different climate made it a ‘tomb for Russians.’21 Among the features of the Crimean paradise was the diversity of its nationalities, which Clarke likened to a ‘menagerie of living rarities.22 As basic ethnic phenomena, such as migration and assimilation, had not yet been discovered, Enlightenment era ethnology was reduced to looking for modern ‘parallels’ to ancient ethnic names.23 Thus, when Heber wrote his history of the Cossacks, he began with Herodotus’ Cimmerians and Scythians.24 In the 18th century, writers could find Scythians all over Eastern Europe. This image could be interpreted both positively and negatively, while revealing the ‘Scythian’ features in a wide variety of contemporaries.25 According to Heber, even in the early 19th century, the Crimean towns Bakhchisaray and Karasubazar (modern Belogorsk) were famous for their Scythian industry, which consisted of working with leather and steel.26 In this way, the Tatars were the heirs of ancient nomads. Clarke found that Crimean Greeks referred to Russians with their epithet ‘Σκύθαι’ (Scythians), since they intentionally destroyed archaeological and architectural sites. The traveler concluded: If the [Aegean] Archipelago should ever fall under the dominion of Russia, the fine remains of Antient Greece will be destroyed; Athens will be rased, and not a stone be left to mark where the city stood. Turks are men of taste and profound science in comparison with the Russians.27 Of course, Russians were often called ‘Scythians.’ When using the term, Voltaire wrote about the readiness of ‘barbarians’ to join the achievements of Western civilization.28 Colorful images of ancient nomads inspired different interpretations, blending ethnography and metaphor. At the turn of 19th century, Antiquity became fashionable.29 On the one hand, destroying Graeco-Roman monuments was considered uncivilized; on the other hand, even Muslim culture was seen to bear traces of a Classical heritage. Heber noted that Tatar mosques had gable roofs, unlike the flat roofs of residential houses, invoking the words of the ancient Greek comedian Aristophanes about the pointed tops of Athenian sanctuaries.30 By the same token, to Clarke, the enormous, loud drums of Crimean Tatars recalled Strabo’s remarks about Cimbrian drums, while a stone bridge near the town of Stary Krym (Eski Krym) was called a creation of Etrurians (i. e. Etruscans).31 Clarke unjustly enjoyed a reputation as connoisseur of antiquities, since his work was highly inaccurate, even by the standards of the time. Thus, he placed ancient Feodosiya in Staryy Krym (Eski-Krym), while confusing and mistaking sites of Heracleotic Chersonesus (now the Gerakleiskii, or Heraclean, Peninsula), including the city of Chersonesus.32 It is especially demonstrative since Clarke’s guide and concultant in the Crimea was famous naturalist Peter Simon Pallas, who accurately located the above-mentioned sites according to Classical sources.33 Both travelers contributed to seeing the era of the Khan as golden age now irrevocably lost. Heber wrote about Feodosiya: Caffa now lay on our left hand, and presented a most dismal prospect, as we approached it on that side. There is a striking ruin on the north-east point of the bay which was formerly a mint; and the walls and towers, though dismantled, are very fine. The town rises like a theatre from the water’s edge, and is of considerable extent, but almost entirely ruinous. <…> Caffa was called by the Tartars, in its better days, Kutchuk Stamboul (little Constantinople.) <…> All the Tartars attributed its desolation to the calamities brought on it by the Russian garrison, who tore off the roofs of the houses where they were quartered, for fire-wood.34 Clarke did not hide his disdain of Russia’s annexation of Crimea: If we were to detail half the cruelties, the extortions, the rapine, and the barbarity practiced by the Russians upon the devoted inhabitants of the Crimea, and their deluded Khan, the narrative would exceed belief.35 He described the peninsula’s annexation in detail, ending with a quote from the Roman historian Tacitus: ‘To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace.’36 Taken from his Agricola, it referred to a rebellion by the Caledonian chieftain Calgacus against the Romans in Britain in the first century AD.37 Clarke thereby compared events in Crimea to Rome’s conquest of Britain, likening the latter’s freedom-loving residents to Crimean Tatars. Clarke’s history of the conquest of Taurica is tendentious and incomplete. To be fair, his contemporaries knew very little about the event. The memoirs of an elderly Serbian monk, Gerasim Zelić, who was in southern Russia in 1783, studded his account of Prince Grigorii Potemkin and Crimea’s annexation with highly imaginary details.38 In the context of such works, what is notable about Clarke is his hostility to Russia rather than its inaccuracy. The British considered Crimean Tatars to be victims of Russian arbitrariness. According to Heber, the new government destroyed the morals of the hitherto friendly, hospitable and generous Tatars. Their hospitality vanished when they mistook travelers for Russian officials. Indeed, Crimean Tatars refused to take Russian money. As a result, the British travelers had to exchange their cash into Turkish currency beforehand.39 Clarke was sure that Tatars would meet any deliverers of the ‘Russian yoke’ with ‘tears of joy.’40 According to Heber, while Russians complained about the laziness of Crimean Tatars, the latter actually were skilled winegrowers, who set up an artificial irrigation systems and built ships.41 By contrast, Clarke, noted: yet, they [Tatars] deem it their greatest happiness to sit still, to smoke, or to sleep; having nothing to employ their thoughts, and as little as possible to do.42 Notions about the pastoral idleness of Crimean Tatars, especially those on the south coast, appeared in many Western-European and Russian works, a clear legacy of Enlightenment thought. Montesquieu considered laziness to be a characteristic of southerners living in fertile climes, unlike the hardworking northerners.43 Meanwhile, Rousseau wrote about the ‘noble savage’ who leads a happy life, content with the minimum necessary for survival and unspoiled by civilization.44 Indolence therefore became a universal marker of ‘the Other.’ European intellectuals also attributed it East Asia’s inhabitants,45 as well as those on the ‘outskirts of civilization’ - Southern and Eastern Europe. Thus, inhabitants of Greece were called ‘noble savages.’46 The French of the Napoleonic era believed that, due to its fertile soil and gentle climate, the inhabitants of ‘Little Russia’ became careless idlers.47 The notion of idleness as a marker of being uncivilized was assimilated into Russian culture. In the 19th century, Russian travelers in Greece considered the Greeks to be idlers since they preferred trade to farming.48 The similarity between descriptions of idle Crimeans and the way Russian travelers spoke of the inhabitants of Ukraine’s Dnieper basin49 is evident. In the Crimean context, laziness initially had no negative connotations and even inspired envy. Prince Charles-Joseph de Ligne, who received an estate on the south coast from Catherine II, was delighted with the life led by his Tatar neighbors, who did not need to work and were content with the bare minimum of goods to be happy in the bosom of nature’s beauty: ‘I bless the lazy. I promise to prevent their being harassed.’50 Others attributed ‘Tatar laziness’ to a reluctance to adopt modern agricultural technology and start intensive production for local and foreign markets. Practical considerations - underdeveloped roads, ports, and other infrastructure, the high customs duties at Crimean ports as well as the high cost of bank lending were neglected. In part, the travelers did not understand Islam’s attitude to entrepreneurship, which seemed alien to their Protestant ethics.51 Seeing the local residents as idlers could lead to practical suggestions. Pallas proposed evicting insufficiently hardworking Crimean Tatars from the fertile valleys of south and south-west Crimea, while replacing them with more industrious migrants.52 He considered this solution to be universally applicable, having previously spoken the same way about a French colony in the Volga region. In the wake of this accusation, the French, ‘incapable of farming,’ were evicted to other areas.53 Some Russians adopted this logic. Thus in 1816, the young Grand Duke and future Emperor Nicholas I noted: If Crimea were not to be in Tatar hands, it would be absolutely different; with landowners and migrants from Russia or Little Russia, everything changes: there is bread and abundant gardens...54 The commonly held notion of Tatars being incapable of work was used by landowners from the mainland who had received estates in Crimea to defend their interests before imperial officials.55 This perception may well also have influenced Alexander II, who considered the eviction of the peninsula’s Muslims to Turkey after Crimean War of 1853-1856 as blessing for Crimea.56 While sympathizing with Crimea’s Muslims, the British travelers often poorly understood their culture. Islamic norms, according to which women covered their faces and lived in separate rooms, were interpreted as a result of male jealousy. According to Heber, ‘in their jealousy, the Tartars go even beyond the Turks.’57 Similar misconceptions arose among Europeans in other Muslim regions, such as Egypt.58According to the travelers, those wishing to see the face of Crimean Tatar women had to behave like opera characters. Clarke told told an anecdote of an English servant, who began to imitate the Tatar ladies by covering his face and fleeing from view. ‘Having caught him, they actually demanded an explanation of his unaccountable behavior,’ while showing their faces, as he wanted.59 Heber and Clarke accused the Russians of being completely unsympathetic to the Tatars. In discussing the fall of the Khanate, Clarke portrayed its ruler Şahin Girey as a naive, impractical, and gullible man, easily deceived by ‘the arch-priest of intrigue and wickedness,’ Grigory Potemkin. In contrasting naive barbarism with corrupt civilization, this passage clearly bears the influence of Rousseau. According to Clarke, the nationalities even looked different. ‘The Tahtar may be said to exhibit the playful flexibility and varying posture of the leopard; while the Russian, rather resembling the bear, is making an awkward parade of his paws.’ The poorest Tatar houses are very clean, while ‘in the houses of Russian grandees, unwholesome filth is ill concealed by external splendor.’ Although there were many insects in Tatar huts,60 Heber shared the opinion of his friend regarding Tatar neatness. Even before his arrival in Crimea, he noted that sloppiness was specific to Russians, thus distinguishing them from civilized nations, such as Swedes, and from Finns and Cossacks, who occupied intermediate place on ‘civilization map.’ However, unlike Clarke, Heber admitted that some Russians were decent. The police chief of Yekaterinodar (now Krasnodar) did not appropriate a rifle the travelers hand left behindand sent a special messenger to deliver it to the Britons, who had left for Taman, refusing any reward.61 Travelers loved to talk about meetings with Europeans, whom fate cast to distant lands. The British were inclined to perceive them as bearers of enlightenment ‘in darkness of barbaric ignorance.’ Clarke did not spare warm words about Pallas, who was an outstanding scientist, but also a man of great kindness. He cured Clarke when seriously ill, let him and Cripps live at his house in Simferopol, accompanied them in trips around Crimea, and donated part of his collections62. The travelers look into Crimea’s future The British described the economic problems caused by government reforms and the declining population. Heber pointed out that the new administration was providing land to Russians that had belonged to Crimeans. It was hard for the British to understand the new status of the native population. According to Heber, the Tatars were converted to ‘slavery,’ i.e., serfdom.63 De Ligne had come to similar conclusions when he had accompanied Catherine II on her southern tour in 1787.64 The European travelers did not understand the situation in Crimea, where most peasants remained free, but were obligated to carry labour-rent to be able to farm on a landowner’s property.65 In the reader’s eyes, Heber’s observations would refute Russian efforts during Catherine II’s reign to distinguish between serfs and slaves, arguing that the former led a ‘happy life.’66 Some passages suggest that their ignorance of local realities led the Britons to conclude that the Russian government was unreasonable. Thus, Heber considered the ban on wood-cutting in the south coast needless.67 However, according to Pallas, naval shipworm (teredo navalis) was widespread in the Black Sea, which quickly rendered the sheathing of wooden ships unusable. To deal with this problem, it was necessary to scorch the sides of vessels on regular basis, which required firewood. The local population, Russian soldiers, and sailors needlessly cut down forests, which were also ravaged by Tatar cattle.68 This led to fuel shortage and, consequently, to bans on wood-cutting. Heber considered the ‘prohibition of the entrance of merchant vessels into the harbor of [Sevastopol]’69 to be absurd. He did not realize that it had been deemed a closed military base because of concerns about French and British spies by the Black Sea Fleet’s commander, Jean Baptiste de Traversay.70 The travelers also wrote about the corruption related to issuing import and export permits, theft, and other abuses by officials.71 These descriptions led readers to conclude that Russia was inert and probably incapable of properly administering its new conquest. The pair also thought about Crimea’s future. Clarke did not believe that Russia could bring prosperity to the peninsula. His remedy was to have another European power, preferably Britain, restore Crimea to the Turks by force.72 Clarke was clearly confident about the superiority of Europeans, especially his countrymen. They were therefore better suited to what was best for Crimea’s Tatars. At the same time, he doubted that the Russian military was capable of effective resistance. This belief was widely held by the French as well. Indeed, on the eve of the Grand Armée’s march into Russia, Napoleon’s government was considering a plan to establish a cordon sanitaire of satellite states around the empire, which would include a revived Crimean Tatar state.73 As for Heber, he tied Crimea’s future to Russian economic initiatives. He approved the plans of Feodosiya’s governor, Anton Fensh, to restore the decrepit port to its former prosperity by linking it to a trade route that would connect the Mediterranean and Black Seas to Russia’s interior. This involved making the city a duty-free port, arranging effective quarantine against the plague, and establishing a bank. Heber noted one possible aspect of the plan involved building a railway to Arabat as part of the route - an innovative idea for Russia, which had no railroads at the time. However, he did not share the unbridled optimism of Feodosiya’s inhabitants, especially based on the data he collected in Taganrog.74 Foreigners widely discussed involving Crimea in international trade, but these were unrealistic in given Europe’s uncertain political climate at the time. Contemporary assessment of Clarke and Heber’s travelogues Clarke’s work was one of the most famous British descriptions of Russia and Crimea. As noted, it was reprinted a number of times, including in French and German translations. A review in one popular British magazine praised Clarke, not merely for the good sense which he has shown in being plain and simple, - in telling ordinary things in an ordinary manner, - in avoiding declamation and trifling of all descriptions, - in putting down what is useful to his reader, whether it happens to display his own powers or not; but also for the judgement which he has shown in selecting, for the most part, the most interesting particulars of a very extensive store, and for the learning which he has displayed in observing and in commenting upon his facts.75 However, it assessed Heber’s observations published by Clarke’s footnotes more modestly - useful but at times overly theoretical. By contrast, a review in North American magazine complained that Clarke significantly distorted Russian realities.76 Its author may have been the Russian journalist and publisher Pavel Svinine, who was on the continent then. A year later, Svinine published his Sketches of Russia, which often criticized Clarke, especially for not knowing the Russian language.77 Clarke’s judgments were also doubted by his French translator. However, unlike the English reviewer, he thought highly of Heber’s notes.78 The criticism stung Clarke, who included a warning in the travelogue’s fourth edition that such disparagement was unscrupulous and motivated French and Russian hostility.79 Clarke’s anti-Russian rhetoric resembled Napoleonic propaganda in 1812, which likewise condemned the Russians as barbarous antipodes to European civilization.80 In the middle of the 19th century, Xavier and Adèle Hommaire de Hell published descriptions of their travels in southern Russia, which once again blamed Russians for destroying the region’s cultural heritage. Echoing western tropes about East Slavic barbarism (largely influenced by Clarke’s book), they subtly sought to justify ‘protecting’ Crimea’s antiquities by taking them to Western Europe.81 Confident in their cultural superiority, they saw themselves as the heirs of Antiquity’s great civilizations. Thus, during Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign, the French ‘saved’ archaeological monuments from the savage Egyptians, who were thoroughly unworthy of their great ancestors.82 Similar rhetoric justified the looting of Russian cultural treasures in 1812.83 One might ask how the works of Clarke and Heber enticed their compatriots to go to southern Russia to educate themselves. For example, Heber convinced one of his friends, Robert William Hay (1786-1861), to visit the peninsula.84 English travelogues of Crimea in the 19th century invariably praised Clarke’s text as an authoritative source about the region and its past. Thus, in 1807 the publisher of Philip Yorke Royston’s letters quoted Clarke to confirm its observations about Crimea’s insalubrious climate and the secluded Karaite settlements.85 In 1821, another traveler, the well-known critic of Russian habits Robert Lyall repeatedly referred to Clarke. Describing the misery of Crimean Tatars, he noted: I heartily joined in the noble indignation, and generous feeling, everywhere shown by Clarke, when these scenes of destruction, and almost total annihilation presented themselves.86 Lyall went even further than Clarke and began contemplating plans: In the event of a revolution, which sooner or later is likely to overthrow the extensive and despotic government of Russian empire, and to dismember it into a number of smaller states, the Krimea, no doubt, will be early secured by one party, whether they be Tartars, Turks, Greeks, or even Russians.87 Well aware of the peninsula’s strategic significance, he suggested sending the British fleet to the Black Sea to control the Russians and, should they lapse into brigandage, the Tatars.88 Some travelers learnt Clarke’s subjectiveness by their own experience; they sometimes also mentioned Heber, though remained confident in his observations. The Scot James Webster, who arrived in Crimea in 1827, heard accusations that Clarke had distorted many facts, especially that Russian soldiers had murdered a mullah, as mentioned earlier.89 The English officer James Edward Alexander, who spent several months in Russia and Crimea in 1829, more than once argued with his famous compatriot. As he saw it, Clarke criticized Russia mostly because of his own biases and inability to accept the norms of another culture: It is inconceivable what mischief travelers like this occasion. In giving vent to their evil passions in their works, they not only cause those who follow them to be looked on with suspicion, but foment quarrels between nations, whose mutual interest it may be to remain in peace.90 Clarke’s influence on notions of Russian cultural vandalism One of reasons for Clarke’s critiques was the fact that Russian authorities forbade his commercial plans to export antiquities back to Britain.91At the time, travelers to Italy and Greece eagerly purchased antique coins, vases, and other rarities.92 The difference lay in the ambitious scale of the enterprise Clarke was contemplating, as well as the ideas that justified it. In 1801 he had seen the British ambassador, Lord Thomas Elgin, dismantle sections of the Parthenon and ship them back home. Naturally, this did not strike him as cultural vandalism. Moreover, when he found ancient statues nearby, he added them to his own collection.93 His travel diary muted some of its author’s opinions. By contrast, in letters to his friend, Clarke assessed the behavior of his compatriots more critically, Under pretense of rescuing the arts from the hands of the Turks, they are pulling down temples that have withstood the injuries of time and war and barbarism for ages, to adorn a miserable Scotch villa.94 Indeed, a careful reading of Clarke’s letters indicate that he was outraged by Elgin’s actions mostly because he saw him as competitor in collecting antiquities. He did not condemn the act of moving them to England itself. Later, another Clarke’s correspondent and his biographer William Otter remarked that his friend actually had no reason to complain, since, to everyone’s pleasure, the Elgin Marbles were delivered no to the lord’s estate, but to the British Museum.95 Clarke’s judgment recalls the more famous story about Alexandre Dumas père, who came to Russia hoping to be awarded with an order by Nicholas I. However, offended that the emperor merely gave him a ring, he wrote a novel about the Decembrists.96 The Crimean War rekindled interest in Clarke’s travelogue. British rhetoric on the eve of the hostilities resembled Clarke’s anti-Russian invectives. Henry Palmerston, who became Prime Minister during the war, believed that Russia should be punished by relinquishing territory on its western border, including Crimea.97 An armchair researcher of Crimea, Anthony Grant, who retold Clarke’s vivid and emotional words about the alleged atrocities of the Russians on the peninsula, called for restoring Crimea as bastion ‘to defend the gentler refinements of the South from the ruthless violence of the North.’ In his opinion, this was the goal, ‘in which all civilizations are interested,’ except, of course, Russia.98 For obvious reasons, Thomas Milner, a member of a British expedition to Crimea who published a description of the peninsula, agreed with the negative assessment of Russia’s role. He quoted Clarke on many occasions, often without attributing him. For example, when explaining that the Russians had deceived the last Tatar ruler, Khan Şahin Girey, of how they barbarously razed his summer palace, Aşlama Saray.99 At times, Milner ‘creatively developed’ Clarke’s anti-Russian invectives. For example, the episode of the Tatar convoy that accompanied Catherine II to Crimea and her joyous meeting with the native inhabitants were deemed a grandiose deception by the ‘prince of rogues’ Potemkin. The devoted myrzas, beys, imans, aghas, and soldiers, were Gypsies, Jews, Armenians, and Cossacks, arrayed for the occasion in the costume of Tatar grandees, officials, and troops.100 It is characteristic that this account, which contradicts all available sources, does not keep it from being repeated by modern authors critical of Russia.101 During the Crimean War, the British and French, who echoed Clarke by invoking rhetoric about the need to ‘save’ the peninsula’s archeological monuments, carried out excavations in Chersoneses, the Kerch Peninsula and Taman, exported their finds back home, and plundered several museums.102 The burning of Kerch and a local museum made a negative impression even on John Codman, the American captain of a French-chartered transport ship. To Codman, the actions of the allies were no different than those of Napoleon when he had looted Italian museums half a century earlier.103 Duncan McPherson, a British physician who was involved in excavations near Kerch, was more equivocal. On the one hand, to justify his works, he repeated arguments about Russian vandalism, which ‘effaced all traces of the stately ruins that formerly existed here.’ Yet he also bemoaned the ‘almost sacrilegious destruction of the precious specimens of fine arts deposited in the Ketch Museum.’ However, he shifted the blame to Britain’s Turkish ally and the Tatars who had happily greeted the expeditionary forces. In the end, McPherson concluded that, ‘perhaps it was better that all this was done,’ since the city was destroyed by fire.104 Conclusions Clarke’s and Heber’s travelogues mark a stage in the development of British, and more broadly, Western perceptions of Crimea. At times superficial and at times biased, their opinions were often dictated by stereotypes. But the general outlook and extensive knowledge of such travelers enabled them to create a credible image of the peninsula in the West. Their narrative told of a region with a rich past that was now in decline due both to historical circumstance as well as the neglect and abuse by its current rulers, which resulted in behavior that did not always accord with English common sense. The travelogues studied in this article demonstrate the characteristics of a way of thought during the transition from the Enlightenment to the Romantic era, when science had not yet completely separated from literature. It is significant that the views of the two British about historical and ethnic processes generally coincide. But when it came to modernity, their opinions diverged. This is due to the personal opinions, views and of the authors. Clarke is much more emotional, prone to hasty judgments, and his notes, written from the perspective of British supremacy, uncover profound elements of the Orientalism and xenophobia. Heber is much more restrained, rational, and focused on practical issues. While Clarke was conservative and believed that Crimea’s salvation lay in returning to the situation before 1783, Heber was more progressive. As he saw it, the peninsula’s economy and infrastructure had to be developed so that it could better integrate into the Russian and Western world. The travelogues’ readers could reflect on the effectiveness of Russian rule and, therefore, whether Russia played a progressive role. Clarke’s travelogue implied a negative answer to both questions, whereas Heber’s notes were moderately pessimistic. Unfortunately, some of their still survive in the Western mind.

Nikita I. Khrapunov

V.I. Vernadsky Crimean Federal University

Author for correspondence.
Email: khrapunovn@gmail.com
4, Vernadskogo Ave., Simferopol, Republic of Crimea, 295004, Russia

Кandidat istorycheskikh nauk [PhD in History], leading researcher of the Department of Modern History at the History and Archaeology of Crimea Research Centre, V.I. Vernadsky Crimean Federal University.

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