Illustrated Description Of Russia

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Cossacks of the Don

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Cossacks of the Don

Cossacks of the Don
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"Don Cossacks," remarks Oliphant, "are the most compound beings in the universe. According to Clarke, they are a mixture of Circassians, Malo-Russians, Russians, Tartars, Poles, Greeks, Turks, Calmucks, and Armenians ! Others contend that they are almost of a purely Slavonic origin; and this seems to me the probable conjecture, as I could trace nothing whatever in their physiognomy to warrant the supposition of a Mongolian descent. They are, moreover, bigoted adherents of the Greek church, and have been Christians from the date of the first records we have of their existence. But if ethnologists have been at variance in accounting for their origin, etymologists have been no less at a loss in deciding on the derivation of their name, and have ended by leaving it an open question whether Cossacks are so called from the resemblance of that word to those in other languages, which signify, respectively, 'an armed man,' 'a sabre,' 'a rover,' 'a goat,' 'a promontory,' 'a coat,' 'a cassock,' a nd a d istrict in Circassia."

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Sears, Robert. An Illustrated Description of the Russian Empire. New York: Robert Sears, 1855