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from the caravan tea with which he supplied himself in various towns. Another traveller*, in the same dreary country, thus describes a dinner which was provided for him at Tomsk. There were three courses: first came soup made of grits, cabbage, and water; then bread and salted cucumber; the third course consisting of fresh cucumber and pickled mushrooms, with bread and tea. He adds, he had no reason to complain of the hostess with whom he was living, for such was the ordinary diet of the middle classes. In the agreeable book of a Polish lady who was exiled to Berezov, we read a vivid description of her dismay, when, on arriving hungry at the to xn destined to be her future residence, she found that it possessed no market for provisions. Where do you get your
food ?' she eagerly inquired of the Cossack who was the cor ductor to her lodgings. “Every body gets his food where he can,' was the discouraging reply. And when hunger compelled her pointedly to inquire whether he could not provide her with something from his own stores, sour ducks, he replied, were all that he had to give her ; but, upon trial, sour being found synonymous with putrid, the unhappy applicant went supperless to bed.
Barshtch, or beetroot prepared somewhat similarly to sour krout, is a popular Siberian dish, and is differently seasoned sometimes with onions, sometimes with spices or bay leaves; and is far better than a compound of nettles which are cultivated near the river Lena and used as vegetables. Sorrel, also, is so consumed where it can be found. The seeds of cedar are much eaten near the Tartar frontier. And when Mr. Hill was riding through the swamps with his Yakonte guides, having only a small stock of food, his curiosity was much excited as to the contents of a large cauldron which his companions were boiling. He went to examine their mess, and found it to consist of the bark of the spruce chopped into small pieces and boiled with the glutinous tops of the sprouts of the same tree.' They ate this with apparently as much satisfaction as if they were over a bowl of beef stew. Coarse, however, as are these articles of food, there is nothing unclean in the use of them. It is to the food of miserable Ostiaks round Berezov, and similar hordes of the north and east, some of the lowest inhabitants of a civilised nation, that the word revolting is applicable. They prefer their food raw, and not only devour foxes, crows, and bears, but even their entrails, and those
* Sir George Simpson's Journey round the World, vol. ii. p. 409.
putrid. In this respect they are not a whit more fastidious
Mr. Hill, in his description of the population, divides the free inhabitants into four classes, and makes separate mention of the exiles. The four classes comprise, 1. The civil and military authorities. 2. The clergy. 3. The principals and agents of mining companies; the merchants and those employed by them. 4. The holders of the smaller government appointments; the inferior tradesmen, artisans, and peasants.
He speaks very favourably of the higher classes, who are resident almost wholly within the towns, and appear to be intelligent, hospitable, and kind hearted. The clergy consist of two orders, the monastic and the secular. The Monastic, or Black' clergy, comprehend all the bishops and dignitaries, among whom celibacy is required. The Secular, or White clergy, comprise the popes or district clergy, who cannot be ordained as long as they are single, but who, in the event of the death of a wife, are forbidden to re-marry. The popes who lose their wives commonly enter the monastic order, with the hope of obtaining some of the higher preferments. The secular clergy is little respected. The Emperor is the head of the Church, its ecclesiastical affairs being administered by a synod, unlimited in numbers, composed of clergy and laity. There are in Russia about fifty sects, whose differences relate more frequently to forms and ceremonies than to doctrines, but the toleration shown to them was considerably restricted under the reign of the late Emperor Nicholas.
The third class mentioned by Mr. Hill has very little to recommend it; on the contrary, it is for the most part composed of men who are venal, corrupt, and demoralised, offensive to strangers, and mistrusted by their own countrymen.
The Chinovnik, or holders of small offices under the state, proceed generally from the humbler classes of the people; but they have been provided by the government with sufficient education to make themselves respected. It is common to excuse them, at least for the venality for which they are remarkable, by the plea of their insufficient salaries ; but their pay has been augmented during the present reign, for the purpose of removing this convenient pretext, without having produced any reform; and this, indeed, is but one of a number of faults which make up their character. The paren
. tal and filial ties are weak among them; and as to the con‘jugal, they too frequently exist only in law and in name.
* Revelations of Siberia, vol. i. p. 179.
* This class of men live without having subjected one passion of our nature to that control over its tendency to excess, which is the distinguishing feature in the character of civilised
(Hill, i. 310.) This censure is abundantly confirmed by other writers, and among them, by that enterprising, courageous traveller Mrs. Pfeiffer. She made her journey round the world alone, provided neither with courier nor servant, nor with the ample purse which commands respect; she visited South America, Tahiti, China, Sincapore, crossed the peninsula of India from Calcutta to Bombay, with some misadventures, indeed, as was more than probable ; but it was not until she reached Russia that she met with the maximum of insulting interference and interruption; and it was then from the Emperor's chinovik. The agents of companies are also notorious for the irregularities of their lives; whilst the tradesmen and artisans riot in all excesses, and are addicted to all the 'vices that belong to the most degraded state of society that can be imagined.' (i. 311.)
The fourth class comprises the rough uneducated peasants, who fare hardly, and share with the exiles the agricultural and mining labour of the country. They are chiefly remarkable for their dirt and their drunkenness.
These exiles form a large portion of the population ; Siberia being, in fact, one yast penal settlement; for although the proportion of political and criminal exiles varies in the western and eastern provinces, the greater proportion of the political offenders being suffered to remain in the western, the most tolerable province, there are exiles in both districts. The number annually passing out of Russia over the Ural Mountains is returned at 10,000 * ; but as it includes many of the wives of the persons banished, some of whom, in consequence of the length and hazards of the journey never reach their destination, the actual annual increase of the population by this means does not probably exceed 8000 persons.
• The exiles are formed into five distinct classes, and every one receives the treatment in the country which is proportionate to the offence to be expiated.
“The first class consists of those who are condemned for the highest crimes and offences against the law of Russia. The second class comprises all those who are found in a state of vagrancy throughout the country. The third class consists in those condemned by the courts established in the villages, and for the most part for petty offences. The fifth class is composed of serfs condemned by the
* Hill, vol. i. p. 236.
order of the government, upon application from the proprietors of the estates to which they belong.' (Hill, i. 256.)
Neither political nor criminal exiles are suffered to engage in any trade or handicraft. In regard to actual settlement, restraint, and civil disabilities, the punishment of both is at first pretty much the same. However, after a time, great distinctions arise; and while the restraint of the political exiles diminishes, so that in a year or two they move in a rank of society similar to that which they enjoyed in Russia, the criminal exiles remain degraded and depressed, continuing throughout their lives to suffer from the moral stain that they have incurred. Those of the minor degrees of guilt are sometimes settled in already existing villages, sometimes in places purposely built for their reception. They must not sleep out of their locations. The government gives them an allowance in money, and for the three first years they are exempt from taxes. At the head of each of these villages there is a soldier, usually a Cossack, who administers justice in minor cases by soundly thrashing with a stick the offenders whom he convicts ; but leaving both the trial and punishment of the graver charges to be administered by the circuit magistrate. The most criminal of the exiles are sent to the silver mines of Nertchinsk, the Norfolk Island of Siberia, in the government of Irkoutsk.
A large number of political exiles were congregated at Irkoutsk, when Mr. Hill was there. Their sentence was chiefly that of perpetual labour in the mines, but it was not literally enforced. They were treated, nevertheless, with considerable severity. Their dress was the dress of convicts; various toils were imposed upon them, especially the grinding of corn with large hand-mills
. Their prison had at first no windows, and was to the last degree gloomy and wretched; but they were fortunate enough to obtain an improvement. Their wives petitioned the Emperor: the petition was listened to, windows were pierced in the walls, and other comforts afforded which the inmates had hitherto been denied. Those who had been in the prison for two years, the amount of labour having been gradually diminished, were at length set free, and permitted to live in certain villages which were indicated. In three years they received a further remission, they were allowed to fix upon any village in the same government, and to settle there as colonists. Finally, they received a further extension of freedom, and were permitted to choose any town for their residence; two restrictions being alone maintained,- the necessity of remaining in the town they had chosen, and the prohibition from practising any art or trade.
Political exiles are permitted to receive gifts in goods, and likewise in money, provided the sum is annually less than 1701. In some instances no sentence of confiscation is pronounced upon the property of the wives of exiles. Thus some among those that are banished are in the enjoyment of moderate incomes; but they amount only to a small proportion. The greater number have no more than the small government allowance, and support themselves chiefly by the cultivation of the land. In this respect, their superintendence and labour is very useful, especially in the districts where the workmen continue to migrate for the summer months to obtain employment at the mines. These migrations were formerly great impediments to the proper cultivation of the land. It was natural that the population should prefer roaming and the occasional earning of large wages in the search for precious metals, to the monotony of a steady pursuit of agricultural labour at home. Many districts were nearly deserted at the season when the tillage of the soil was required. There necessarily resulted a scarcity of provisions. At length the government interfered. Villages were erected in the neighbourhood of the various mines; residents were supplied for them; the working of the mines was systematised and improved. While the condition of the miners has been raised by fixed residenoe near their work, and uninterrupted employment, the agricultural labourers are likewise gainers from the ready markets for their produce which the mining settlements create. The erection of these villages has been successful wherever it has been undertaken ; as yet, however, it has been only partial; and where it has not been attempted, the political exiles are especially useful as cultivators.
To its abundant and valuable minerals, Siberia, and indeed Russia Proper, owes a vast accession of wealth. The number of workmen required in the mines is considerable, and their work is costly, but the production had continually increased, the yield being now very large. In Western Siberia, the principal mining is in the Ural Mountains, where there are likewise precious stones of great value.* The following is the list of precious stones and ores which are abundant in the neighbourhood of Ekaterineburg, - diamonds, amethysts, topazes, emeralds, rubies, sapphires, jasper, porphyry, malachite, gold, silver, iron, copper, and platinum. In eastern Siberia, the more important
Erman's Siberia, vol. i. p. 205.