Two spellings, "Tunguse" and "Tunguze," are used throughout the book for the same tribe. The caption of Illustrations #55, 58, 103, 144 differ from the captions given in the table and were not changed.
OVERLAND THROUGH ASIA: PICTURES OF SIBERIAN, CHINESE, AND TARTAR LIFE
Travels and Adventures in Kamchatka, Siberia, China, Mongolia, Chinese Tartary, and European Russia, with Full Accounts of the Siberian Exiles, Their Treatment, Condition, and Mode of Life; a Description of the Amoor River, and the Siberian Shores of the Frozen Ocean; with an Appropriate Map, and Nearly 200 Illustrations
THOMAS W. KNOX.
Author of Camp Fire And Cotton Field
Fourteen years ago Major Perry McD. Collins traversed Northern Asia, and wrote an account, of his journey, entitled "A Voyage Down the Amoor." With the exception of that volume no other work on this little known region has appeared from the pen of an American writer. In view of this fact, the author of "Overland Through Asia" indulges the hope that his book will not be considered a superfluous addition to the literature of his country.
The journey herein recorded was undertaken partly as a pleasure trip, partly as a journalistic enterprise, and partly in the interest of the company that attempted to carry out the plans of Major Collins to make an electric connection between Europe and the United States by way of Asia and Bering's Straits. In the service of the Russo-American Telegraph Company, it may not be improper to state that the author's official duties were so few, and his pleasures so numerous, as to leave the kindest recollections of the many persons connected with the enterprise.
Portions of this book have appeared in Harper's, Putnam's, The Atlantic, The Galaxy, and the Overland Monthlies, and in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. They have been received with such favor as to encourage their reproduction wherever they could be introduced in the narrative of the journey. The largest part of the book has been written from a carefully recorded journal, and is now in print for the first time. The illustrations have been made from photographs and pencil sketches, and in all cases great care has been exercised to represent correctly the costumes of the country. To Frederick Whymper, Esq., artist of the Telegraph Expedition, and to August Hoffman, (Photographer,) of Irkutsk, Eastern Siberia, the author is specially indebted.
The orthography of geographical names is after the Russian model. The author hopes it will not be difficult to convince his countrymen that the shortest form of spelling is the best, especially when it represents the pronunciation more accurately than does the old method. A frontier justice once remarked, when a lawyer ridiculed his way of writing ordinary words, that a man was not properly educated who could spell a word in only one way. On the same broad principle I will not quarrel with those who insist upon retaining an extra letter in Bering and Ohotsk and two superfluous letters in Kamchatka.
Among those not mentioned in the volume, thanks are due to Frederick Macrellish, Esq., of San Francisco, Hon. F.F. Low of Sacramento, Alfred Whymper, Esq., of London, and the many gentlemen connected with the Telegraph Expedition. There are dozens and hundreds of individuals in Siberia and elsewhere, of all grades and conditions in life, who have placed me under numberless obligations. Wherever I traveled the most uniform courtesy was shown me, and though conscious that few of those dozens and hundreds will ever read these lines, I should consider myself ungrateful did I fail to acknowledge their kindness to a wandering American.
ASTOR HOUSE, N.Y., Sept. 15, 1870.
1. FRONTISPIECE, THE AUTHOR IN SIBERIAN COSTUME 2. CHARACTER DEVELOPED 3. ASPINWALL TO PANAMA 4. SLIGHTLY MONOTONOUS 5. MONTGOMERY STREET IN HOLIDAY DRESS 6. SAN FRANCISCO, 1848 7. CHINESE DINNER 8. OVER SIX FEET 9. STEAMSHIP WRIGHT IN A STORM 10. A SEA SICK BOOBY 11. WRECK OF THE SHIP CANTON 12. ALEUTIANS CATCHING WHALES 13. BREACH OF ETIQUETTE 14. UNEXPECTED HONORS 15. RUSSIAN MARRIAGE 16. RUSSIAN POPE AT HOME 17. A SCALY BRIDGE 18. RUSSIAN TEA SERVICE 19. CHANGE FOR A DOLLAR 20. COW AND BEAR 21. A KAMCHATKA TEAM 22. REPULSE OF THE ASSAILANTS 23. VIEW OF SITKA 24. PLENTY OF TIME 25. RUSSIAN OFFICERS AT MESS 26. ASCENDING THE BAY 27. TAKING THE CENSUS 28. LIGHT-HOUSE AT GHIJIGA 29. TOWED BY DOGS 30. KORIAK YOURT 31. DISCHARGING A DECK LOAD 32. REINDEER RIDE 33. TAIL PIECE, REINDEER 34. WAGON RIDE WITH DOGS 35. YEARLY MAIL 36. DOGS FISHING 37. TEACHINGS OF EXPERIENCE 38. BOAT LOAD OF SALMON 39. AN EFFECTIVE PROTEST 40. NOTHING BUT BONES 41. TAIL PIECE—NATIVE WOMAN 42. SEEING OFF 43. LIFE ON THE AMOOR 44. A GILYAK VILLAGE 45. ABOUT FULL 46. TAIL PIECE—A TURN OUT 47. ON THE AMOOR 48. CASH ACCOUNT 49. WOODING UP 50. BEAR IN PROCESSION 51. PRACTICE OF MEDICINE 52. MANJOUR MERCHANT 53. GILYAK MAN 54. GILYAK WOMAN 55. PEASANTS BY MOONLIGHT 56. TAIL PIECE—THE NET 57. TEN MILES AN HOUR 58. GOLDEE HOUSE AT NIGHT 59. THE HYPOCONDRIAC 60. "NOT FOR JOE" 61. TAIL PIECE—SCENE ON THE RIVER 62. RECEPTION AT PETROVSKY 63. ARMED AND EQUIPPED 64. GENERAL ACTIVITY 65. TAIL PIECE—FLASK 66. MANJOUR BOAT 67. A PRIVATE TEMPLE 68. FISHING IMPLEMENTS 69. CHINESE FAMILY PICTURE 70. MANJOUR TRAVELING CARRIAGE 71. TAIL PIECE—TOWARDS THE SUN 72. THE AMMUNITION WAGON 73. FINISHING TOUCH 74. EMIGRANTS ON THE AMOOR 75. SA-GA-YAN CLIFF 76. RIFLE SHOOTING 77. TAIL PIECE—GAME 78. PREPARING FOR WINTER 79. TAIL PIECE 80. STRATENSK, EASTERN SIBERIA 81. A SIBERIAN TARANTASS 82. TAIL PIECE 83. FAVORITE BED 84. CONCENTRATED ENERGIES 85. PRISONERS AT CHETAH 86. ON THE HILLS NEAR CHETAH 87. BOURIAT YOURTS 88. A MONGOL BELL 89. A MONGOL BELLE 90. CATCHING SHEEP 91. A COLD BATH 92. TAIL PIECE 93. OUR FERRY BOAT 94. EQUAL RIGHTS 95. AMATEUR CONCERT IN SIBERIA 96. CHINESE MANDARIN 97. INTERIOR OF CHINESE TEMPLE 98. THROUGH ORDINARY EYES 99. THROUGH CHINESE EYES 100. LEGAL TENDER 101. RUSSIAN PETS 102. PONY EXPRESS 103. A DISAGREEABLE APPENDAGE 104. SUSPENDED FREEDOM 105. PUNISHMENT FOR BURGLARY 106. CHOPSTICK, FORK, AND SAUCER 107. CHINESE THEATRE 108. CHINESE TIGER 109. CHINESE PUNISHMENT 110. PROVISION DEALER 111. CHINESE MENDICANTS 112. THE FAVORITE 113. FEMALE FEET AND SHOE 114. A LOTTERY PRIZE 115. A PEKIN CAB 116. A CHINESE PALANQUIN 117. PRIEST IN TEMPLE OF CONFUCIUS 118. COMFORTS AND CONVENIENCES 119. FILIAL ATTENTION 120. TAIL PIECE—OPIUM PIPE 121. A MUSICAL STOP 122. NANKOW PASS 123. RACING AT THE KALGAN FAIR 124. STREET IN KALGAN 125. IN GOOD CONDITION 126. LOST IN THE DESERT OF GOBI 127. MONGOL DINNER TABLE 128. CROSSING THE TOLLA 129. THE SCHOOLMASTER 130. TAIL PIECE 131. WILD BOAR HUNT 132. A WIFE AT IRKUTSK 133. NO WIFE AT IRKUTSK 134. A SOUDNA 135. AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE 136. LAKE BAIKAL IN WINTER 137. A SPECIMEN 138. TAIL PIECE—THE WORLD 139. GOV. GENERAL KORSACKOFF 140. VIEW—IRKUTSK 141. A COLD ATTACHMENT 142. QUEEN OF GREECE 143. EMPEROR OF RUSSIA 144. TAIL PIECE—TWIN BOTTLES 145. HOME OF TWO EXILES—REAL, IMAGINARY 146. TAIL PIECE—QUARTERS 147. TARTAR CAVALRY 148. SIBERIAN EXILES 149. TAIL PIECE 150. A VASHOK 151. A KIBITKA 152. FAREWELL TO IRKUTSK 153. OUR CONDUCTOR 154. JUMPING CRADLE HOLES 155. VALLEY OF THE YENESEI 156. WOLF HUNT 157. HYDRAULIC MINING 158. TAIL PIECE 159. DOWN HILL 160. DOGS AMONG ICE 161. JUMPING THE FISSURES 162. THE TEAM 163. TAIL PIECE 164. IN THE MINE 165. STRANGE COINCIDENCE 166. TAIL PIECE 167. THE ELOPEMENT 168. THE FIGHT 169. THE CATASTROPHE 170. TAIL PIECE 171. THE POLKEDOVATE 172. MAKING EXPLANATION 173. AFTER THE BATH 174. TAIL PIECE 175. THE DRIVER'S TOILET 176. WOMEN SPINNING 177. FLOGGING WITH STICKS 178. TAIL PIECE 179. LOST IN A SNOW STORM 180. FATAL RESULT 181. TAIL PIECE 182. EXCUSE MY FAMILIARITY 183. FROSTED HORSES 184. VIEW OF EKATERINEBURG 185. EUROPE AND ASIA 186. A RUSSIAN BEGGAR 187. BEGGARS IN KAZAN 188. THE IMMERSION 189. RUSSIAN PRIEST 199. TAIL PIECE 191. GREAT BELL OF MOSCOW 192. VIEW OF THE NEVSKI PROSPECT, ST. PETERSBURG 193. TAIL PIECE—MEETING AN OLD FRIEND
Off from New York—Around the world by steam—Value of a letter of credit—A cure for sea sickness—Doing the Isthmus—An exciting porpoise race—Glimpse of San Francisco—Trip to the Yo Semite Valley—From the Golden Gate into the Pacific
A strange company—Difficulties of sea life—A tall man and a short room—How the dog went to sleep—A soapy cabin—Catching a booby—Two Sundays together—A long lost wreck—Incidents at sea—Manner of catching whales in Alaska—A four footed pilot—Dog stories—How to take an observation—Coast of Asia—Entering Avatcha bay—An economical light keeper
In a Russian port—Hail Columbia—Petropavlovsk—Volcanoes and earth-quakes—Directions for making a Russian town—A Kamchadale wedding—Standing up with the bride—A hot ceremony—A much married pope—Russian religious practices—Drinking with the priest and what came of it
Vegetation in Kamchatka—Catching salmon—A scaly bridge—An evening on shore—Samovars and tea drinking—The fur trade—Bear hunting—What a cow brought home one day—Siberian dogs—A musical town—The adventures of Norcum—Training a team—Sledges and how to manage them—A voyage under the Polish flag—Monument to Captain Clerke—The allied attack—The battle of Petropavlovsk
Bering's voyages—Discovery of Alaska—Shipwreck and death of Bering—The Russian-American Company—The first governor of Alaska—Promushleniks—Russian settlement in California—Account of Russian explorations—Character of the country—Its extent and resources—Advantages and disadvantages of the Alaska purchase
Leaving Kamchatka—Farewell to the ladies—A new kind of telegraph—Entering the Ohotsk sea—From Steam to sail—Sleeping among chronometers—Talking by-signs—A burial at sea—A Russian funeral—Land in sight—Ghijiga bay
Baggage for shore travel—Much wine and little bread—A perplexing dilemma—How to take the census—Siberian beds—Towed by dogs—Encounter with a beast—Coaxing a team with clubs—The Koriaks—Their manners and customs—Comical cap for a native—A four footed currency—Yourts and Balagans—Curious marriage ceremony—Lightening a boat in a storm—Very strong whisky—Riding on a reindeer—An intoxicating mushroom—An electric devil—a Siberian snow storm—How a party was lost
How a pointer became a bull dog—Coral in high latitudes—Sending Champagne to Neptune—Arrival at Ohotsk—Three kinds of natives—A lunch with the ladies—A native entertainment—A mail once a year—A lover's misfortune—An astonished American—Hunting a bear and being hunted—An unfortunate ride
At sea again—Beauties of a Northern sky—Warlike news and preparing for war—The coast of Japan—An exciting moment—A fog bell of sea lions—Ready for fight—De Castries' bay—A bewildered fleet—Goodbye to the Variag—In the straits of Tartary—A difficult sleeping place—A Siberian mirage—Entering the Amoor river
On shore at Nicolayevsk—An American Consul—Visiting the Governor—Machine shops on the Amoor with American managers—The servant girl question—A Gilyak boat full of salmon—An unfortunate water carrier—The Amoor Company—Foreign and native merchants—Raising sheep among tigers—Rats eating window glass—Riding in a cart
Up the Amoor—Seeing off a friend—A Siberian steamboat—How the steamboats are managed—Packages by post—Curiosities of the Russian mail service—An unhappy bride—Hay barges—Gilyak villages—Visiting a village—Bad for the nose—Native dogs—Interviewing a Gilyak lady—A rapid descent
The monastery of Eternal Repose—Curious religious customs—Features of the scenery—Passengers on our boat—An adventurous merchant—Captured by the Chinese—A pretty girl and her fellow passenger—Wooding up—An Amoor town—The telegraph—How it is built and operated—A native school—Fighting the tiger—Religious practices of the Gilyaks—Mistaken kindness
Stepanoff and his career—A Manjour boat—Catching salmon—A sturgeon pen—The islands of the Amoor—A night scene at a wooding station—A natural cathedral—The birds of the Amoor—The natives of the country—Interviewing a native Mandarin
Entering a Goldee house—Native politeness—What to do with a tame eagle—An intelligent dog team—An exciting race—A Mongol belle—Visiting a Goldee house at night—A reception in a shirt—Fish skin over-coats—Curious medical custom—Draw poker on the Amoor river—Curiosity—Habarofka—"No turkey for me"—A visit on shore—Experience with fleas
First view of China—A beautiful region—Petrovsky—Women in the water—An impolite reception—A scanty population—Visiting a military post—Division of labor for a hunting excursion—The Songaree—A Chinese military station—Resources of the Songaree—Experience of a traveler—Hunting a tiger—A perilous adventure
Ekaterin—Nikolskoi—The Province of the Amoor—Character of the Cossack—The Buryea Mountains—A man overboard—Passing a mountain chain—Manjour boats—Bringing pigs to market—Women in the open air—A new tribe of natives—Rest for a bath—Russian caviar—How it is made—Feeding with a native—A heavy drink—A fleet of fishing boats
Scenery on the middle Amoor—A military colony—Among the Manjours—A Manjour temple—A Chinese naval station—A crew of women—Strange ways of catching fish—The city of Igoon—Houses plastered with mud—Visiting a harem—Talking pigeon-Chinese—Visiting the prison
The mouth of the Zeya—Blagoveshchensk—Kind reception by the governor—Attending a funeral—A polyglot doctor and his family—Intercourse with the Chinese—A visit to Sakhalin-Oula—A government office—A Chinese traveling carriage—Visiting a Manjour governor—A polite official—A Russian Mongol reception—Curiosities of the Chinese police system—Advice to the Emperor of China
A deer-hunting picnic—Russian ploughing—Nursing a deer gazelle—A shot and what came of it—The return and overturn—The Siberian gazelle—A Russian steam bath—How to take it—On a new steamer—The cabin of the Korsackoff—A horse opera—An intoxicated priest—Private stock of provisions—The dove a sacred bird—Emigrant rafts—A Celestial guard house
The upper Amoor—Sagayan cliff—- Hunting for gold—Rich gold mines in the Amoor valley—The Tungusians—A goose for a cigar—An awkward rifle—Albazin—The people in Sunday dress—The siege of Albazin—Visiting the old fort
A sudden change—Beef preserved with laurel leaves—A Russian settler—New York pictures in a Russian house—The Flowery Kingdom—Early explorations—The conquest of the Amoor—A rapid expedition—The Shilka and the Argoon—An old settled country—A lady in the case—Hotels for the exiles—Stratensk—A large crowd—- End of a long steamboat ride
A hotel at Stratensk—A romantic courtship—Starting overland—A difficult ferry—A Russian posting carriage—Good substitute for a trunk—"Road Agent" in Siberia—Rights of travelers—Kissing goes by favor—Captain John Franklin's equipage—Value of a ball—Stuck in the mud—The valley of the Nertcha—Reaching Nerchinsk
An extensive house—A Russian gold miner—Stories of the exiles—Polish exiles—"The unfortunates"—The treatment of prisoners—Attempts to escape—Buying a tarantass—Light marching order—A bad road—Sleeping on a stove—The valley of the Ingodah—Two hours in a mud hole—Recklessness of drivers—Arrival at Chetah
Location of Chetah—Prisoners in chains—Ingenuity of the exiles—Learning Hail Columbia in two hours—A governor's mansion—A hunting party—Siberian rabbits—Difficulties of matrimony—Religion in Siberia—An artillery review—Champagne and farewells—Crossing a frozen stream—Inconvenience of traveling with a dog—Crossing the Yablonoi Mountains—Approaching the Arctic Ocean
A cold night—Traveling among the Mongols—The Bouriats and their dwellings—An unpleasant fire—The Bhuddist religion—Conversions among the natives—An easy way of catching sheep—A Mongol bell—A Mongol belle—A late hour and a big dog—Bullocks under saddle—An enterprising girl—Sleeping in a carriage—Arrival at Verkne Udinsk—Walking in the market place—Stories of Siberian robbers—An enterprising murderer—Gold and iron mines on the Selenga
Crossing a river on the ice—A dangerous situation—Dining on soup and caviar—Caravans of tea—The rights of the road—How the drivers treat each other—Selenginsk—An old exile—Troubled by the nose—Lodged by the police—A housekeeper in undress—An amateur concert—Troitskosavsk and Kiachta—Crossing the frontier—Visiting the Chinese governor
In the Chinese empire—A city without a woman—A Chinese court of justice—Five interpretations—Chinese and Russian methods of tea making—A Chinese temple—Sculpture in sand stone—The gods and the Celestials—The Chinese idea of beauty—The houses in Maimaichin—Chinese dogs—Bartering with the merchants—The Chinese ideas of honesty—How they entertained us—The Abacus
Russian feast days—A curious dinner custom—Novel separation of the sexes—The wealth of Kiachta—The extent of the tea trade—Dodging the custom house—Foreign residents of Kiachta—Fifteen dogs in one family—The devil and the telegraph—Russian gambling—Dinner with the Chinese governor—Chinese punishments—Ingredients of a Chinese dinner—Going to the theatre in midday—Two dinners in one day—Farewell to Kiachta
Trade between America and China—The first ship for a Chinese port—Chinese river system—The first steamboat on a Chinese river—The Celestials astonished—A nation of shop-keepers—Chinese insurance and banking systems—The first letters of credit—Railways in the empire—The telegraph in China—Pigeon-English—The Chinese treaty
The great cities of China—Pekin and its interesting features—The Chinese city and the Tartar one—Rat peddlers, jugglers, beggars, and other liberal professionals—The rat question in China—Tricks of the jugglers—Mendicants and dwarfs—"The house of the hen's feathers"—How small feet became fashionable—Fashion in America and China—Gambling in Pekin—An interesting lottery prize—Executions by lot—Punishing robbers—Opposition to dancing—The temple of Confucius—Temples of Heaven and Earth—The famous Summer Palace—Chinese cemeteries—Coffins as household ornaments—Calmness at death
A journey through Mongolia—Chinese dislike to foreign travel—Leaving Pekin—How to stop a mule's music—The Nankow Pass—A fort captured because of a woman—The great wall of China—Loading the pack mules—Kalgan—Mosques and Pagodas—A Mongol horse fair—How a transaction is managed—A camel journey on the desert—How to arrange his load—A Mongolian cart—A brisk trade in wood for coffins
Entering the desert of Gobi—Instincts of the natives—An antelope hunt—Lost on the desert—Discovered and rescued—Character of the Mongols—Boiled mutton, and how to eat it—Fording the Tolla river—An exciting passage—Arrival at Urga—A Mongol Lamissary—The victory of Genghis Khan—Chinese couriers—Sheep raising in Mongolia—Holy men in abundance—Inconvenience of being a lama—A praying machine—Arrival at Kiachta
Departure from Kiachta—An agreeable companion—Making ourselves comfortable—A sacred village—Hunting a wild boar—A Russian monastery—Approaching Lake Baikal—Hunting for letters—"Doing" Posolsky—A pile of merchandise—A crowded house—Rifle and pistol practice—A Russian soudna—A historic building—A lake steamer in Siberia—Exiles on shore—A curious lake—Wonderful journey over the ice—The Holy Sea—A curious group—The first custom house—Along the banks of the Angara—A strange fish—Arrival at Irkutsk
Turned over to the police—Visiting the Governor General—An agreeable officer in a fine house—Paying official visits—German in pantomime—The passport system—Cold weather—Streets, stores, and houses at Irkutsk—Description of the city—The Angara river—A novel regulation—A swinging ferry boat—Cossack policeman—An alarm of fire—"Running with the machine" in Russia—Markets at Irkutsk—Effects of kissing with a low thermometer
Society in Irkutsk—Social customs—Lingual powers of the Russians—Effect of speaking two languages to an infant—Intercourse of the Siberians with Polish exiles—A hospitable people—A ceremonious dinner—Russian precision—A long speech and a short translation—The Amoorski Gastinitza—Playing billiards at a disadvantage—Muscovite superstition—Open house and pleasant tea-parties—A wealthy gold miner
The exiles of 1825—The Emperor Paul and his eccentricities—Alexander I.—The revolution of 1825—Its result—Severity of Nicholas—Hard labor for life—Conditions of banishment—A pardon after thirty years—Where the Decembrists live—The Polish question—Both sides of it—Banishments since 1863—The government policy—Difference between political and criminal exiles—Colonists—Drafted into the army—Pension from friends—Attempts to escape—Restrictions find social comforts—How the prisoners travel—The object of deportation—Rules for exiling serfs
Serfdom and exile—Peter I. and Alexander II.—Example of Siberia to old Russia—Prisoners in the mines—A revolt—The trial of the insurgents—Sentence and execution—A remarkable escape—Piotrowski's narrative—Free after four years
Preparing to leave Irkutsk—Change from wheels to runners—Buying a suit of fur—Negotiations for a sleigh—A great many drinks—Peculiarities of Russian merchants—Similarities of Russians and Chinese—Several kinds of sleighs—A Siberian saint—A farewell dinner—Packing a sleigh—A companion with heavy baggage—Farewell courtesies—Several parting drinks—Traveling through a frost cloud—Effect of fog in a cold night—A monotonous snow scape—Meals at the stations—A jolly party—An honest population—Diplomacy with the drivers
A Siberian beverage—The wine of the country—An unhappy pig—Tea caravans for Moscow—Intelligence of a horse—Champagne frappe—Meeting the post—How the mail is carried—A lively shaking up—Board of survey on a dead horse—Sleeping rooms in peasant houses—Kansk—A road with no snow—Putting our sleighs on wheels—A deceived Englishman—Crossing the Yenesei—Krasnoyarsk—Washing clothes in winter—A Siberian banking house—The telegraph system—No dead-heads—Fish from the Yenesei—A Siberian Neptune—Going on a wolf hunt—How a hunt is managed—An exciting chase and a narrow escape
Beggars at Krasnoyarsk—A wealthy city—Gold mining on the Yenesei—Its extent and the value of the mines—How the mining is conducted—Explorations, surveys, and the preparation of the ground—Wages and treatment of laborers—Machines for gold washing—Regulations to prevent thefts—Mining in frozen earth—Antiquity of the mines—The native population—An Eastern legend—The adventures of "Swan's Wing"—Visit to lower regions—Moral of the story
A philosophic companion—Traveling with the remains of a mammoth—Talking against time—Sleighs on wheels—The advantages of "cheek"—A moonlight transfer—Keeping the feast days—Getting drunk as a religious duty—A slight smash up—A cold night—An abominable road—Hunting a mammoth—Journey to the Arctic Circle—Natives on the coast—A mammoth's hide and hair—Ivory hunting in the frozen North—A perilous adventure—Cast away in the Arctic ocean—Fight with a polar bear—A dangerous situation—Frozen to the ice—Reaching the shore
A runaway horse—Discussion with a driver—A modest breakfast—A convoy of exiles—Hotels for the exiles—Charity to the unfortunate—Their rate of travel—An encounter at night—No whips in the land of horses—Russian drivers and their horses—Niagara in Siberia—Eggs by the dizaine—Caught in a storm—A beautiful night—Arrival at Tomsk—An obliging landlord—A crammed sleigh—Visiting the governor—Description of Tomsk—A steamboat line to Tumen—Schools in Siberia
A frozen river—On the road to Barnaool—An unpleasant night—Posts at the road side—Very high wind—A Russian bouran—A poor hotel—Greeted with American music—The gold mines of the Altai mountains—Survey of the mining-district—General management of the business—The museum at Barnaool—The imperial zavod—Reducing the ores—Government tax on mines—A strange coincidence
Society at Barnaool—A native coachman—An Asiatic eagle—The Kirghese—The original Tartars—Russian diplomacy among the natives—Advance of civilization—Railway building in Central Asia—Product of the Kirghese country—Fairs in Siberia—Caravans from Bokhara—An adventure among the natives—Capture of a native prince—A love story and an elopement—A pursuit, fight, and tragic end of the journey
Interview with a Persian officer—A slow conversation—Seven years of captivity—A scientific explorer—Relics of past ages—An Asiatic dinner—Cossack dances—Tossed up as a mark of honor—Trotting horses in Siberia—Washing a paper collar—On the Baraba steppe—A long-ride—A walking ice statue—Traveling by private teams—Excitement of a race—How to secure honesty in a public solicitor—Prescription for rheumatism
A monotonous country—Advantages of winter travel—Fertility of the steppe—Rules for the haying season—Breakfasting on nothing—A Siberian apple—Delays in changing horses—Universal tea drinking—Tartars on the steppe—Siberian villages—Mode of spinning in Russia—An unsuccessful conspiracy—How a revolt was organized—A conspirator flogged to death—The city of Tobolsk—The story of Elizabeth—The conquest of Siberia—Yermak and his career
Another snow storm—Wolves in sight—Unwelcome visitors—Going on a wolf chase—An unlucky pig—Hunting at night—A hungry pack—Wolves in every direction—The pursuers and the pursued—A dangerous turn in the road—A driver lost and devoured—A narrow escape—Forest guards against bears and wolves—A courageous horse—The story of David Crockett
Thermometer very low—Inconvenience of a long beard—Fur clothing in abundance—Natural thermometers—Rubbing a freezing nose—A beautiful night on the steppe—Siberian twilights—Thick coat for horses—The city of Tumen—Magnificent distances—Manufacture of carpets—A lucrative monopoly—Arrival at Ekaterineburg—Christmas festivities —Manufactures at Ekaterineburg—- The Granilnoi Fabric—Russian iron and where it comes from—The Demidoff family—A large piece of malachite—An emperor as an honest miner
Among the stone workers—A bewildering collection—Visit to a private "Fabric"—The mode of stone cutting—Crossing the mountains—Boundary between Europe and Asia—Standing in two continents at once—Entering Europe by the back door—In the valley of the Kama—Touching appeal by a beggar—The great fair at Irbit—An improved road—A city of thieves—Tanning in Russia—Evidence of European civilization—Perm—Pleasures of sleigh riding—The road fever—The Emperor Nicholas and a courier—A Russian sleighing song
Among the Votiaks—Malmouish—Advice to a traveler—Dress and habits of the Tartars—Tartar villages and mosques—A long night—Overturned and stopped—Arrival at Kazan—New Year's festivities—Russian soldiers on parade—Military spirit of the Romanoff family—Anecdote of the Grand Duke Michel—The conquest of Kazan—An evening in a ball-room—Enterprise of Tartar peddlers—Manufactures and schools—A police secret—The police in Russia
Leaving Kazan—A Russian companion—Conversation with a phrase book—A sloshy street—Steamboats frozen in the ice—Navigation of the Volga—The Cheramess—Pity the unfortunate—A road on the ice—Merchandise going Westward—Villages along the Volga—A baptism through the ice—Religion in Russia—Toleration and tyranny—The Catholics in Poland—The Old Believers—The Skoptsi, or mutilators—Devotional character of the Russian peasantry—Diminishing the priestly power—Church and state—End of a long sleigh ride—Nijne Novgorod—At the wrong hotel—Historical monuments—Entertained by the police
Starting for Moscow—Jackdaws and pigeons—At a Russian railway station—The group in waiting—The luxurious ride—A French governess and a box of bon-bons—Cigarettes and tea—Halting at Vladimir—Moscow through the frost—Trakteers—The Kremlin of Moscow—Objects of interest—The great bell—The memorial cannon—Treasures of the Kremlin—Wonderful churches of Moscow—The Kitai Gorod—The public market—Imperial Theatre and Foundling Hospital—By rail to St. Petersburg—Encountering an old friend
It is said that an old sailor looking at the first ocean steamer, exclaimed, "There's an end to seamanship." More correctly he might have predicted the end of the romance of ocean travel. Steam abridges time and space to such a degree that the world grows rapidly prosaic. Countries once distant and little known are at this day near and familiar. Railways on land and steamships on the ocean, will transport us, at frequent and regular intervals, around the entire globe. From New York to San Francisco and thence to our antipodes in Japan and China, one may travel in defiance of propitious breezes formerly so essential to an ocean voyage. The same untiring power that bears us thither will bring us home again by way of Suez and Gibraltar to any desired port on the Atlantic coast. Scarcely more than a hundred days will be required for such a voyage, a dozen changes of conveyance and a land travel of less than a single week.
The tour of the world thus performed might be found monotonous. Its most salient features beyond the overland journey from the Atlantic to the Pacific, would be the study of the ocean in breeze or gale or storm, a knowledge of steamship life, and a revelation of the peculiarities of men and women when cribbed, cabined, and confined in a floating prison. Next to matrimony there is nothing better than a few months at sea for developing the realities of human character in either sex. I have sometimes fancied that the Greek temple over whose door "Know thyself" was written, was really the passage office of some Black Ball clipper line of ancient days. Man is generally desirous of the company of his fellow man or woman, but on a long sea voyage he is in danger of having too much of it. He has the alternative of shutting himself in his room and appearing only at meal times, but as solitude has few charms, and cabins are badly ventilated, seclusion is accompanied by ennui and headache in about equal proportions.
Wishing to make a journey round the world, I did not look favorably upon the ocean route. The proportions of water and land were much like the relative quantities of sack and bread in Falstaff's hotel bill. Whether on the Atlantic or the Pacific, the Indian, or the Arctic, the appearance of Ocean's blue expanse is very much the same. It is water and sky in one place, and sky and water in another. You may vary the monotony by seeing ships or shipping seas, but such occurrences are not peculiar to any one ocean. Desiring a reasonable amount of land travel, I selected the route that included Asiatic and European Russia. My passport properly endorsed at the Russian embassy, authorized me to enter the empire by the way of the Amoor river.
A few days before the time fixed for my departure, I visited a Wall street banking house, and asked if I could obtain a letter of credit to be used in foreign travel.
"Certainly sir," was the response.
"Will it be available in Asia?"
"Yes, sir. You can use it in China, India, or Australia, at your pleasure." "Can I use it in Irkutsk?"
"Really, I can't say; what is Irkutsk?"
"It is the capital of Eastern Siberia."
The person with whom I conversed, changed from gay to grave, and from lively to severe. With calm dignity he remarked, "I am unable to say, if our letters can be used at the place you mention. They are good all over the civilized world, but I don't know anything about Irkutsk. Never heard of the place before."
I bowed myself out of the establishment, with a fresh conviction of the unknown character of the country whither I was bound. I obtained a letter of credit at the opposition shop, but without a guarantee of its availability in Northern Asia.
In a foggy atmosphere on the morning of March 21, 1866, I rode through muddy streets to the dock of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company. There was a large party to see us off, the passengers having about three times their number of friends. There were tears, kisses, embraces, choking sighs, which ne'er might be repeated; blessings and benedictions among the serious many, and gleeful words of farewell among the hilarious few. One party of half a dozen became merry over too much champagne, and when the steward's bell sounded its warning, there was confusion on the subject of identity. One stout gentleman who protested that he would go to sea, was led ashore much against his will.
After leaving the dock, I found my cabin room-mate a gaunt, sallow-visaged person, who seemed perfectly at home on a steamer. On my mentioning the subject of sea-sickness, he eyed me curiously and then ventured an opinion.
"I see," said he, "you are of bilious temperament and will be very ill. As for myself, I have been a dozen times over the route and am rarely affected by the ship's motion."
Then he gave me some kind advice touching my conduct when I should feel the symptoms of approaching mal du mer. I thanked him and sought the deck. An hour after we passed Sandy Hook, my new acquaintance succumbed to the evils that afflict landsmen who go down to the sea in ships. Without any qualm of stomach or conscience, I returned the advice he had proffered me. I did not suffer a moment from the marine malady during that voyage, or any subsequent one.[A]
[Footnote A: A few years ago a friend gave me a prescription which he said would prevent sea-sickness. I present it here as he wrote it.
"The night before going to sea, I take a blue pill (5 to 10 grains) in order to carry the bile from the liver into the stomach. When I rise on the following morning, a dose of citrate of magnesia or some kindred substance finishes my preparation. I take my breakfast and all other meals afterward as if nothing had happened."
I have used this prescription in my own case with success, and have known it to benefit others.]
The voyage from New York to San Francisco has been so often 'done' and is so well watered, that I shall not describe it in detail. Most of the passengers on the steamer were old Californians and assisted in endeavoring to make the time pass pleasantly. There was plenty of whist-playing, story telling, reading, singing, flirtation, and a very large amount of sleeping. So far as I knew, nobody quarreled or manifested any disposition to be riotous. There was one passenger, a heavy, burly Englishman, whose sole occupation was in drinking "arf and arf." He took it on rising, then another drink before breakfast, then another between Iris steak and his buttered roll, and so on every half hour until midnight, when he swallowed a double dose and went to bed. He had a large quantity in care of the baggage master, and every day or two he would get up a few dozen pint bottles of pale ale and an equal quantity of porter. He emptied a bottle of each into a pitcher and swallowed the whole as easily as an ordinary man would take down a dose of peppermint. The empty bottles were thrown overboard, and the captain said that if this man were a frequent passenger there would be danger of a reef of bottles in the ocean all the way from New York to Aspinwall. I never saw his equal for swallowing malt liquors. To quote from Shakspeare, with a slight alteration:
"He was a man, take him for half and half, I ne'er shall look upon his like again."
We had six hours at Aspinwall, a city that could be done in fifteen minutes, but were allowed no time on shore at Panama. It was late at night when we left the latter port. The waters were beautifully phosphorescent, and when disturbed by our motion they flashed and glittered like a river of stars. Looking over the stern one could half imagine our track a path of fire, and the bay, ruffled by a gentle breeze, a waving sheet of light. The Pacific did not belie its name. More than half the way to San Francisco we steamed as calmly and with as little motion as upon a narrow lake. Sometimes there was no sensation to indicate we were moving at all.
Even varied by glimpses of the Mexican coast, the occasional appearance of a whale with its column of water thrown high into the air, and the sportive action of schools of porpoises which is constantly met with, the passage was slightly monotonous. On the twenty-third day from New York we ended the voyage at San Francisco.
On arriving in California I was surprised at the number of old acquaintances I encountered. When leaving New York I could think of only two or three persons I knew in San Francisco, but I met at least a dozen before being on shore twelve hours. Through these individuals, I became known to many others, by a rapidity of introduction almost bewildering. Californians are among the most genial and hospitable people in America, and there is no part of our republic where a stranger receives a kinder and more cordial greeting. There is no Eastern iciness of manner, or dignified indifference at San Francisco. Residents of the Pacific coast have told me that when visiting their old homes they feel as if dropped into a refrigerator. After learning the customs of the Occident, one can fully appreciate the sensations of a returned Californian.
Montgomery street, the great avenue of San Francisco, is not surpassed any where on the continent in the variety of physiognomy it presents. There are men from all parts of America, and there is no lack of European representatives. China has many delegates, and Japan also claims a place. There are merchants of all grades and conditions, and professional and unprofessional men of every variety, with a long array of miscellaneous characters. Commerce, mining, agriculture, and manufactures, are all represented. At the wharves there are ships of all nations. A traveler would find little difficulty, if he so willed it, in sailing away to Greenland's icy mountains or India's coral strand. The cosmopolitan character of San Francisco is the first thing that impresses a visitor. Almost from one stand-point he may see the church, the synagogue, and the pagoda. The mosque is by no means impossible in the future.
In 1848, San Francisco was a village of little importance. The city commenced in '49, and fifteen years later it claimed a population of a hundred and twenty thousand.[B] No one who looks at this city, would suppose it still in its minority. The architecture is substantial and elegant; the hotels vie with those of New York in expense and luxury; the streets present both good and bad pavements and are well gridironed with railways; houses, stores, shops, wharves, all indicate a permanent and prosperous community. There are gas-works and foundries and factories, as in older communities. There are the Mission Mills, making the warmest blankets in the world, from the wool of the California sheep. There are the fruit and market gardens whose products have a Brobdignagian character. There are the immense stores of wine from California vineyards that are already competing with those of France and Germany. There are—I may as well stop now, since I cannot tell half the story in the limits of this chapter.
[Footnote B: I made many notes with a view to publishing two or three chapters upon California. I have relinquished this design, partly on account of the un-Siberian character of the Golden State, and partly because much that I had written is covered by the excellent book "Beyond the Mississippi," by Albert D. Richardson, my friend and associate for several years. The particulars of his death by assassination are familiar to many readers.]
During my stay in California, I visited the principal gold, copper, and quicksilver mines in the state, not omitting the famous or infamous Mariposa tract. In company with Mr. Burlingame and General Van Valkenburg, our ministers to China and Japan, I made an excursion to the Yosemite Valley, and the Big Tree Grove. With the same gentlemen I went over the then completed portion of the railway which now unites the Atlantic with the Pacific coast, and attended the banquet given by the Chinese merchants of San Francisco to the ambassadors on the eve of their departure. A Chinese dinner, served with Chinese customs;—it was a prelude to the Asiatic life toward which my journey led me.
I arrived in San Francisco on the thirteenth of April and expected to sail for Asia within a month. One thing after another delayed us, until we began to fear that we should never get away. For more than six weeks the time of departure was kept a few days ahead and regularly postponed. First, happened the failure of a contractor; next, the non-arrival of a ship; next, the purchase of supplies; and so on through a long list of hindrances. In the beginning I was vexed, but soon learned complacency and gave myself no uneasiness. Patience is an admirable quality in mankind, and can be very well practiced when, one is waiting for a ship to go to sea.
On the twenty-third of June we were notified to be on board at five o'clock in the evening, and to send heavy baggage before that hour. The vessel which was to receive us, lay two or three hundred yards from the wharf, in order to prevent the possible desertion of the crew. Punctual to the hour, I left the hotel and drove to the place of embarkation. My trunk, valise, and sundry boxes had gone in the forenoon, so that my only remaining effects were a satchel, a bundle of newspapers, a dog, and a bouquet. The weight of these combined articles was of little consequence, but I positively declare that I never handled a more inconvenient lot of baggage. While I was descending a perpendicular ladder to a small boat, some one abruptly asked if that lot of baggage had been cleared at the custom house. Think of walking through a custom house with my portable property! Happily the question did not come from an official.
It required at least an hour to get everything in readiness after we were on board. Then followed the leave taking of friends who had come to see us off and utter their wishes for a prosperous voyage and safe return. The anchor rose slowly from the muddy bottom; steam was put upon the engines, and the propeller whirling in the water, set us in motion. The gang-way steps were raised and the rail severed our connection with America.
It was night as we glided past the hills of San Francisco, spangled with a thousand lights, and left them growing fainter in the distance. Steaming through the Golden Gate we were soon on the open Pacific commencing a voyage of nearly four thousand miles. We felt the motion of the waves and became fully aware that we were at sea. The shore grew indistinct and then disappeared; the last visible objects being the lights at the entrance of the bay. Gradually their rays grew dim, and when daylight came, there were only sky and water around us.
"Far upon the unknown deep, With the billows circling round Where the tireless sea-birds sweep; Outward bound.
"Nothing but a speck we seem, In the waste of waters round, Floating, floating like a dream; Outward bound."
The G.S. Wright, on which we were embarked, was a screw steamer of two hundred tons burthen, a sort of pocket edition of the new boats of the Cunard line. She carried the flag and the person of Colonel Charles S. Bulkley, Engineer in Chief of the Russo-American Telegraph Expedition. She could sail or steam at the pleasure of her captain, provided circumstances were favorable. Compared with ocean steamers in general, she was a very small affair and displayed a great deal of activity. She could roll or pitch to a disagreeable extent, and continued her motion night and day, I often wished the eight-hour labor system applied to her, but my wishing was of no use.
Besides Colonel Bulkley, the party in the cabin consisted of Captain Patterson, Mr. Covert, Mr. Anossoff, and myself. Mr. Covert was the engineer of the steamer, and amused us at times with accounts of his captivity on the Alabama after the destruction of the Hatteras. Captain Patterson was an ancient mariner who had sailed the stormy seas from his boyhood, beginning on a whale ship and working his way from the fore-castle to the quarter deck. Mr. Anossoff was a Russian gentleman who joined us at San Francisco, in the capacity of commissioner from his government to the Telegraph Company. For our quintette there was a cabin six feet by twelve, and each person had a sleeping room to himself.
Colonel Bulkley planned the cabin of the Wright, and I shall always consider it a misfortune that the Engineer-in-Chief was only five feet seven in his boots rather than six feet and over like myself. The cabin roof was high enough for the colonel, but too low for me. Under the skylight was the only place below deck where I could stand erect. The sleeping rooms were too short for me, and before I could lie, at full length in my berth, it was necessary to pull away a partition near my head. The space thus gained was taken from a closet containing a few trifles, such as jugs of whiskey, and cans of powder. Fortunately no fire reached the combustibles at any time, or this book might not have appeared.
There was a forward cabin occupied by the chief clerk, the draughtsman, the interpreter, and the artist of the expedition, with the first and second officers of the vessel. Sailors, firemen, cook and cabin boys all included, there were forty-five persons on board. Everybody in the complement being masculine, we did not have a single flirtation during the voyage.
I never sailed on a more active ship than the Wright. In ordinary seas, walking was a matter of difficulty, and when the wind freshened to a gale locomotion ceased to be a pastime. Frequently I wedged myself into my berth with books and cigar boxes. On the first day out, my dog (for I traveled with a dog) was utterly bewildered, and evidently thought himself where he did not belong. After falling a dozen times upon his side, he succeeded in learning to keep his feet. The carpenter gave him a box for a sleeping room, but the space was so large that, his body did not fill it. On the second day from port he took the bit of carpet that formed his bed and used it as a wedge to keep him in position. From, that time he had no trouble, though he was not fairly on his sea legs for nearly a week.
Sometimes at dinner our soup poured into our laps and seemed engaged in reconstructing the laws of gravitation. The table furniture was very uneasy, and it was no uncommon occurrence for a tea cup or a tumbler to jump from its proper place and turn a somersault before stopping. We had no severe storm on the voyage, though constantly in expectation of one.
In 1865 the Wright experienced heavy gales with little interruption for twelve days. She lost her chimney with part of her sails, and lay for sixteen hours in the trough of the sea. The waves broke over her without hindrance and drenched every part of the ship. Covert gave an amusing account of the breaking of a box of soap one night during the storm. In the morning the cabin, with all it contained, was thoroughly lathered, as if preparing for a colossal shave.
Half way across the ocean we were followed by sea-birds that, curiously enough, were always thickest at meal times. Gulls kept with us the first two days and then disappeared, their places being taken by boobies. The gull is a pretty and graceful bird, somewhat resembling the pigeon in shape and agility. The booby has a little resemblance to the duck, but his bill is sharp pointed and curved like a hawk's. Beechey and one or two others speak of encountering the Albatross in the North Pacific, but their statements are disputed by mariners of the present day. The Albatross is peculiar to the south as the gull to the north. Gulls and boobies dart into the water when any thing is thrown overboard, and show great dexterity in catching whatever is edible. At night they are said to sleep on the waves, and occasionally we disturbed them at their rest.
One day we caught a booby by means of a hook and line, and found him unable to fly from the deck. It is said that nearly all sea-birds can rise only from the water. We detained our prize long enough to attach a medal to his neck and send him away with our date, location, and name. If kept an hour or more on the deck of a ship these birds become seasick, and manifest their illness just as an able-bodied landsman, exhibits an attack of marine malady. Strange they should be so affected when they are all their lives riding over the tossing waves.
About thirty miles from San Francisco are the Farralone Islands, a favorite resort of sea-birds. There they assemble in immense numbers, particularly at the commencement of their breeding season.
Parties go from San Francisco to gather sea-birds eggs at these islands, and for some weeks they supply the market. These eggs are largely used in pastry, omelettes, and other things, where their character can be disguised, but they are far inferior to hens' eggs for ordinary uses.
There were no islands in any part of our course, and we found but a single shoal marked on the chart. We passed far to the north of the newly discovered Brooks Island, and kept southward of the Aleutian chain. Since my return to America I have read the account of a curious discovery on an island of the North Pacific. In 1816, the ship Canton, belonging to the East India Company, sailed from Sitka and was supposed to have foundered at sea. Nothing was heard of her until 1867, when a portion of her wreck was found upon a coral island of the Sybille group. The remaining timbers were in excellent preservation, and the place where the crew had encamped was readily discernible. The frame of the main hatchway had been cast up whole, and a large tree was growing through it. The quarter board bearing the word "Canton," lay near it, and revealed the name of the lost ship. No writing or inscription to reveal the fate of her crew, could be found anywhere.
On Friday, July thirteenth, we crossed the meridian of 180 deg. from London, or half around the world. We dropped a day from our reckoning according to the marine custom, and appeared in our Sunday dress on the morrow. Had we been sailing eastward, a day would have been added to our calendar. A naval officer once told me that he sailed eastward over this meridian on Sunday. On the following morning the chaplain was surprised to receive orders to hold divine service. He obeyed promptly, but could not understand the situation. With a puzzled look he said to an officer—
"This part of the ocean must be better than any other or we would not have Sunday so often."
Sir Francis Drake, who sailed around the world in the time of Queen Elizabeth, did not observe this rule of the navigator, and found on reaching England that he had a day too much. In the Marquesas Islands the early missionaries who came from the Indies made the mistake of keeping Sunday on Saturday. Their followers preserve this chronology, while later converts have the correct one. The result is, there are two Sabbaths among the Christian inhabitants of the cannibal islands. The boy who desired two Sundays a week in order to have more resting time, might be accommodated by becoming a Marquesas colonist.
On the day we crossed this meridian we were three hundred miles from the nearest Aleutian Islands, and about eight hundred from Kamchatka.
The boobies continued around us, but were less numerous than a week or ten days earlier. If they had any trouble with their reckoning, I did not ascertain it. A day later we saw three "fur seal" playing happily in the water. We hailed the first and asked his longitude, but he made no reply. I never knew before that the seal ventured so far from land. Yet his movements are as carefully governed as those of the sea-birds, and though many days in the open water he never forgets the direct course to his favorite haunts. How marvelous the instinct that guides with unerring certainty over the trackless waters!
A few ducks made their appearance and manifested a feeling of nostalgia. Mother Carey's chickens, little birds resembling swallows, began to flit around us, skimming closely along the waves. There is a fiction among the sailors that nobody ever saw one of these birds alight or found its nest. Whoever harms one is certain to bring misfortune upon himself and possibly his companions. A prudent traveler would be careful not to offend this or any other nautical superstition. In case of subsequent danger the sailors might remember his misdeed and leave him to make his own rescue.
Nearing the Asiatic coast we saw many whales. One afternoon, about cigar time, a huge fellow appeared half a mile distant. His blowing sounded like the exhaust of a western steamboat, and sent up a respectable fountain of spray. Covert pronounced him a high pressure affair, with horizontal engines and carrying ninety pounds to the inch.
After sporting awhile in the misty distance, the whale came near us. It was almost calm and we could see him without glasses. He rose and disappeared at intervals of a minute, and as he moved along he rippled the surface like a subsoil plough on a gigantic scale. After ten or twelve small dives, he threw his tail in air and went down for ten minutes or more. When he reappeared he was two or three hundred yards from his diving place.
Once he disappeared in this way and came up within ten feet of our bows. Had he risen beneath us the shock would have been severe for both ship and whale. After this manoeuvre he went leisurely around us, keeping about a hundred yards away.
"He is working his engines on the slow bell," said our engineer, "and keeps his helm hard-a-port."
We brought out our rifles to try this new game, though the practice was as much a trial of skill as the traditional 'barn at ten paces.' Several shots were fired, but I did not see any thing drop. The sport was amusing to all concerned; at any rate the whale didn't seem to mind it, and we were delighted at the fun. When his survey was finished he braced his helm to starboard, opened his throttle valves and went away to windward.
We estimated his length at a hundred and twenty feet, and thought he might register 'A 1,' at the proper office. Captain Patterson called him a 'bow head,' good for a hundred barrels of oil and a large quantity of bone. The Colonel proposed engaging him to tow us into port. Covert wished his blubber piled in our coal bunkers; the artist sketched him, and the draughtsman thought of putting him on a Mercator's projection. For my part I have written the little I know of his life and experiences, but it is very little. I cannot even say where he lodges, whose hats he wears, when his notes fall due, or whether he ever took a cobbler or the whooping cough. Of course this incident led to stories concerning whales. Captain Patterson told about the destruction of the ship Essex by a sperm whale thirty or more years ago. The Colonel described the whale fishery as practiced by the Kamchadales and Aleutians. These natives have harpoons with short lines to which they attach bladders or skin bags filled with air. A great many boats surround a whale and stick him with as many harpoons as possible. If successful, they will so encumber him that his strength is not equal to the buoyancy of the bladders, and in this condition he is finished with a lance. A great feast is sure to follow his capture, and every interested native indulges in whale-steak to his stomach's content.
The day before we came in sight of land, my dog repeatedly placed his fore feet upon the rail and sniffed the wind blowing from the coast. His inhalations were long and earnest, like those of a tobacco smoking Comanche. In her previous voyage the Wright carried a mastiff answering to the name of Rover. The colonel said that whenever they approached land, though long before it was in sight, Rover would put his paws on the bulwarks and direct his nose toward the shore. His demonstrations were invariably accurate, and showed him to possess the instinct of a pilot, whatever his lack of training. He did not enjoy the ocean and was always delighted to see land.
In 1865 an Esquimaux dog was domiciled on the barque Golden Gate, on her voyage from Norton Sound to Kamchatka. He ran in all parts of the vessel, and made himself agreeable to every one on board. At Petropavlovsk a Kamchadale dog became a passenger for San Francisco. Immediately on being loosed he took possession aft and drove the Esquimaux forward. During the whole passage he retained his place on the quarter deck and in the cabin. Occasionally he went forward for a promenade, but he never allowed the other dog to go abaft the mainmast. The Esquimaux endeavored to establish amicable relations, but the Kamchadale rejected all friendly overtures.
I heard of a dog on one of the Honolulu packets that took his turn at duty with the regularity of a sailor, coming on deck when his watch was called and retiring with it to the forecastle. When the sails flapped from any cause and the clouds indicated a sudden shower, the dog gave warning with a bark—on the sea. I ventured to ask my informant if the animal stood the dog watch, but the question did not receive a definite answer.
What a wonderful thing is the science of navigation. One measures the sun's height at meridian; looks at a chronometer; consults a book of mystical figures; makes a little slate work like a school-boy's problem; and he knows his position at sea. Twelve o'clock, if there be neither fog nor cloud, is the most important hour of a nautical day. A few minutes before noon the captain is on deck with his quadrant. The first officer is similarly provided, as he is supposed to keep a log and practice-book of his own. Ambitious students of navigation are sure to appear at that time. On the Wright we turned out four instruments, with twice as many hands to hold them. A minute before twelve, conticuere omnes.
"Eight bells, sir."
The four instruments are briefly fixed on the sun and the horizon, the readings of the scale are noted, and the quartette descend to the practice of mathematics. A few minutes later we have the result.
"Latitude 52 deg. 8' North, Longitude 161 deg. 14' East. Distance in last twenty-four hours two hundred forty-six miles."
The chart is unrolled, and a few measurements with dividers, rule and pencil, end in the registry of our exact position. Unlike the countryman on Broadway or a doubting politician the day before election, we do know where we are. The compass, the chronometer, the quadrant; what would be the watery world without them!
On the twenty-fourth of July we were just a month at sea. In all that time we had spoken no ship nor had any glimpse of land, unless I except a trifle in a flower pot. The captain made his reckoning at noon, and added to the reading—
"Seventy-five miles from the entrance of Avatcha Bay. We ought to see land before sunset."
About four in the afternoon we discovered the coast just where the captain said we should find it. The mountains that serve to guide one toward Avatcha Bay were exactly in the direction marked on our chart. To all appearances we were not a furlong from our estimated position. How easily may the navigator's art appear like magic to the ignorant and superstitious.
The breeze was light, and we stood in very slowly toward the shore. By sunset we could see the full outline of the coast of Kamchatka for a distance of fifty or sixty miles. The general coast line formed the concavity of a small arc of a circle. As it was too late to enter before dark, and we did not expect the light would be burning, we furled all our sails and lay to until morning.
By daybreak we were under steam, and at five o'clock I came on deck to make my first acquaintance with Asia. We were about twenty miles from the shore, and the general appearance of the land reminded me of the Rocky Mountains from Denver or the Sierra Nevadas from the vicinity of Stockton. On the north of the horizon was a group of four or five mountains, while directly in front there were three separate peaks, of which one was volcanic. Most of these mountains were conical and sharp, and although it was July, nearly every summit was covered with snow. Between and among these high peaks there were many smaller mountains, but no less steep and pointed. As one sees it from, the ocean, Kamchatka appears more like a desolate than a habitable country.
It requires very good eyesight to discover the entrance of Avatcha Bay at a distance of eight or ten miles, but the landmarks are of such excellent character that one can approach without hesitation. The passage is more than a mile wide. Guarding it on the right is a hill nearly three hundred feet high, and standing almost perpendicular above the water. At the left is a rock of lesser height, terminating a tongue or ridge of land. On the hill is a light-house and signal station with a flag staff. Formerly the light was only exhibited when a ship was expected or seen, but in 1866, orders were given for its maintainance every night during the summer months.
Years ago, on the coast of New Hampshire, a man from the interior was appointed light keeper. The day he assumed his position was his first on the sea-shore. Very soon there were complaints that his lights did not burn after midnight. On being called to account by his superior, he explained—
"Well, I thought all the ships ought to be in by midnight, and I wanted to save the ile."
As one leaves the Pacific and enters Avatcha Bay he passes high rocks and cliffs, washed at their base by the waves. The loud-sounding ocean working steadily against the solid walls, has worn caverns and dark passages, haunted by thousands of screaming and fluttering sea-birds. The bay is circular and about twenty miles in diameter; except at the place of entrance it is enclosed with hills and mountains that give it the appearance of a highland lake. All over it there is excellent anchorage for ships of every class, while around its sides are several little harbors, like miniature copies of the bay.
At Petropavlovsk we hoped to find the Russian ship of war, Variag, and the barque Clara Bell, which sailed from San Francisco six weeks before us. As we entered the bay, all eyes were turned toward the little harbor. "There is the Russian," said three or four voices at once, as the tall masts aird wide spars of a corvette came in sight. "The Clara Bell, the Clara Bell—no, it's a brig," was our exclamation at the appearance of a vessel behind the Variag.
"There's another, a barque certainly,—no, it's a brig, too," uttered the colonel with an emphasis of disgust. Evidently his barque was on the sea.
Rounding the shoal we moved toward the fort, the Russian corvette greeting us with "Hail Columbia" out of compliment to our nationality. We carried the American flag at the quarter and the Russian naval ensign at the fore as a courtesy to the ship that awaited us. As we cast anchor just outside the little inner harbor, the Russian band continued playing Hail Columbia, but our engineer played the mischief with the music by letting off steam. As soon as we were at rest a boat from the corvette touched our side, and a subordinate officer announced that his captain would speedily visit us. Very soon came the Captain of The Port or Collector of Customs, and after him the American merchants residing in the town. Our gangway which we closed at San Francisco was now opened, and we once more communicated with the world.
Petropavlovsk (Port of Saints Peter and Paul) is situated in lat. 53 deg. 1' North, long. 158 deg. 43' East, and is the principal place in Kamchatka. It stands on the side of a hill sloping into the northern shore of Avatcha Bay, or rather into a little harbor opening into the bay. Fronting this harbor is a long peninsula that hides the town from all parts of the bay except those near the sea. The harbor is well sheltered from winds and furnishes excellent anchorage. It is divided into an inner and an outer harbor by means of a sand spit that extends from the main land toward the peninsula, leaving an opening about three hundred yards in width. The inner harbor is a neat little basin about a thousand yards in diameter and nearly circular in shape.
Some of the mountains that serve as landmarks to the approaching mariner, are visible from the town, and others can be seen by climbing the hills in the vicinity. Wuluchinski is to the southward and not volcanic, while Avatcha and Korianski, to the north and east, were smoking with a dignified air, like a pair of Turks after a champagne supper. Eruptions of these volcanoes occur every few years, and during the most violent ones ashes and stones are thrown to a considerable distance. Captain King witnessed an eruption of Avatcha in 1779, and says that stones fell at Petropavlovsk, twenty-five miles away, and the ashes covered the deck of his ship. Mr. Pierce, an old resident of Kamchatka, gave me a graphic description of an eruption in 1861. It was preceded by an earthquake, which overturned crockery on the tables, and demolished several ovens. For a week or more earthquakes of a less violent character occurred hourly.
Besides the Variag we found in port the Russian brig Poorga and the Prussian brig Danzig, the latter having an American captain, crew, hull, masts, and rigging. Two old hulks were rotting in the mud, and an unseaworthy schooner lay on the beach with one side turned upward as if in agony. "There be land rats and water rats," according to Shakspeare. Some of the latter dwelt in this bluff-bowed schooner and peered curiously from the crevices in her sides.
The majority of our visitors made their calls very brief. After their departure, I went on shore with Mr. Hunter, an American resident of Petropavlovsk. In every house I visited I was pressed to take petnatzet copla (fifteen drops,) the universal name there for something stimulating. The drops might be American whisky, French brandy, Dutch gin, or Russian vodka. David Crockett said a true gentleman is one who turns his back while you pour whisky into your tumbler. The etiquette of Kamchatka does not permit the host to count the drops taken by his guest.
Take a log village in the backwoods of Michigan or Minnesota, and transport it to a quiet spot by a well sheltered harbor of Lilliputian size. Cover the roofs of some buildings with iron, shingles or boards from other regions. Cover the balance with thatch of long grass, and erect chimneys that just peer above the ridge poles. Scatter these buildings on a hillside next the water; arrange three-fourths of them in a single street, and leave the rest to drop wherever they like. Of course those in the higgledy-piggledy position must be of the poorest class, but you can make a few exceptions. Whitewash the inner walls of half the buildings, and use paper or cloth to hide the nakedness of the other half.
This will make a fair counterfeit of Petropavlovsk. Inside each house place a brick stove or oven, four or five feet square and six feet high. Locate this stove to present a side to each of two or three rooms. In each side make an aperture two inches square that can be opened or closed at will. The amount of heat to warm the rooms is regulated by means of the apertures.
Furnish the houses with plain chairs, tables, and an occasional but rare piano. Make the doors very low and the entries narrow. Put a picture of a saint in the principal room of every house, and adorn the walls with a few engravings. Make a garden near each house, and let a few miscellaneous gardens cling to the hillside and strive to climb it. Don't forget to build a church, or you will fail to represent a Russian town.
Petropavlovsk has no vehicle of any kind except a single hand cart. Consequently the street is not gashed with wheel ruts.
We were invited to 'assist' at a wedding that happened in the evening after our arrival. The ceremony was to begin at five o'clock, and was a double affair, two sisters being the brides. A Russian wedding requires a master of ceremonies to look after the affair from beginning to end. I was told it was the custom in Siberia (but not in European Russia) for this person to pay all expenses of the wedding, including the indispensable dinner and its fixtures. Such a position is not to be desired by a man of limited cash, especially if the leading characters are inclined to extravagance. Think of being the conductor of a diamond wedding in New York or Boston, and then paying the bills!
The steward of the Variag told me he was invited to conduct a wedding shortly after his arrival at Petropavlovsk. Thinking it an honor of which he would hereafter be proud, he accepted the invitation. Much to his surprise on the next day he was required to pay the cost of the entertainment.
The master of ceremonies of the wedding under consideration was Mr. Phillipeus, a Russian gentleman engaged in the fur trade. The father of the brides was his customer, and doubtless the cost of the wedding was made up in subsequent dealings. As the party emerged from the house and moved toward the church, I could see that Phillipeus was the central figure. He had a bride on each arm, and each bride was clinging to her prospective husband. The women were in white and the men in holiday dress.
Behind the front rank were a dozen or more groomsmen and bridesmaids. Behind these were the members of the families and the invited relatives, so that the cortege stretched to a considerable length. Each of the groomsmen wore a bow of colored ribbon on his left arm and a smaller one in the button hole. The children of the families—quite a troop of juveniles—brought up the rear.
The church is of logs, like the other buildings. It is old, unpainted, and shaped like a cross, lacking one of the arms. The doors are large and clumsy, and the entrance is through a vestibule or hall. The roof had been recently painted a brilliant red at the expense of the Variag's officers. On the inside, the church has an antiquated appearance, but presents such an air of solidity as if inviting the earthquakes to come and see it.
There were no seats in the building, nor are there seats of any kind in the edifices of the same character in any part of Russia. It is the theory of the Eastern Church that all are equal before God. In His service, no distinction is made; autocrat and subject, noble and peasant, stand or kneel in the same manner while worshipping at His altars.
As we entered, we found the wedding party standing in the center of the church; the spectators were grouped nearer the door, the ladies occupying the front. With the thermometer at seventy-two, I found the upright position a fatiguing one, and would have been glad to send for a camp stool. Colonel Bulkley had undertaken to escort a lady, and as he stood in a conspicuous place, his uniform buttoned to the very chin and the perspiration pouring from his face, the ceremony appeared to have little charm for him.
The service began under the direction of two priests, each dressed in a long robe extending to his feet, and wearing a chapeau like a bell-crowned hat without a brim. "The short one," said a friend near me, pointing to a little, round, fat, oily man of God, "will get very drunk when he has the opportunity. Watch him to-night and see how he leaves the dinner party."
Priests of the Greek Church wear their hair very long, frequently below the shoulders, and parted in the middle, and do not shave the beard. Unlike those of the Catholic Church, they marry and have homes and families, engaging in secular occupations which do not interfere with their religious duties. During the evening after the wedding, I was introduced to "the pope's wife;" and learned that Russian priests are called popes. As the only pope then familiar to my thoughts is considered very much a bachelor, I was rather taken aback at this bit of information. The drink-loving priest was head of a goodly sized family, and resided in a comfortable and well furnished dwelling.
At the wedding there was much recitation by the priests, reading from the ritual of the Church, swinging of censers, singing by the chorus of male voices, chanting and intonation, and responses by the victims. There were frequent signs of the cross with bowing or kneeling. A ring was used, and afterwards two crowns were held over the heads of the bride and bridegroom. The fatigue of holding these crowns was considerable, and required that those who performed the service should be relieved once by other bridesmen. After a time the crowns were placed on the heads they had been held over. Wearing these crowns and preceded by the priests, the pair walked three times round the altar in memory of the Holy Trinity, while a portion of the service was chanted. Then the crowns were removed and kissed by each of the marrying pair, the bridegroom first performing the osculation. A cup of water was held by the priest, first to the bridegroom and then to the bride, each of whom drank a small portion. After this the first couple retired to a little chapel and the second passed through the ordeal. The preliminary ceremony occupied about twenty minutes, and the same time was consumed by each couple.
There is no divorce in Russia, so that the union was one for life till death. Before the parties left the church they received congratulations. There was much hand-shaking, and among the women there were decorous kisses. Our party regretted that the custom of bride kissing as practiced in America does not prevail in Kamchatka.
When the affair was ended, the whole cortege returned to the house whence it came, the children carrying pictures of the Virgin and saints, and holding lighted candles before them. The employment of lamps and tapers is universal in the Russian churches, the little flame being a representation of spiritual existence and a symbol of the continued life of the soul. The Russians have adapted this idea so completely that there is no marriage, betrothal, consecration, or burial, in fact no religious ceremony whatever without the use of lamp or taper.
In the house of every adherent to the orthodox Russian faith there is a picture of the Virgin or a saint; sometimes holy pictures are in every room of the house. I have seen them in the cabins of steamboats, and in tents and other temporary structures. No Russian enters a dwelling, however humble, without removing his hat, out of respect to the holy pictures, and this custom extends to shops, hotels, in fact to every place where people dwell or transact business. During the earlier part of my travels in Russia, I was unaware of this custom, and fear that I sometimes offended it. I have been told that superstitious thieves hang veils or kerchiefs before the picture in rooms where they depredate. Enthusiastic lovers occasionally observe the same precaution. Only the eyes of the image need be covered, and secrecy may be obtained by turning the picture to the wall.
The evening began with a reception and congratulations to the married couples. Then we had tea and cakes, and then came the dinner. The party was like the African giant imported in two ships, for it was found impossible to crowd all the guests into one house. Tables were set in two houses and in the open yard between them.
The Russians have a custom of taking a little lunch just before they begin dinner. This lunch is upon a side table in the dining room, and consists of cordial, spirits or bitters, with morsels of herring, caviar, and dried meat or fish. It performs the same office as the American cocktail, but is oftener taken, is more popular and more respectable. After the lunch we sat down to dinner. Fish formed the first course and soup the second. Then we had roast beef and vegetables, followed by veal cutlets. The feast closed with cake and jelly, and was thoroughly washed down with a dozen kinds of beverages that cheer and inebriate.
The fat priest was at table and took his lunch early. His first course was a glass of something liquid, and he drank a dozen times before the soup was brought. Early in the dinner I saw him gesturing toward me.
"He wants to take a glass with you," said some one at my side.
I poured out some wine, and after a little trouble in touching glasses we drank each other's health.
Not five minutes later he repeated his gestures. To satisfy him I filled a glass with sherry, as there was no champagne handy at the moment, and again went through the clinking process. As my glass was large I put it down after sipping a few drops, but the old fellow objected. Draining and inverting his glass, he held it as one might suspend a rat by the tail, and motioned me to do the same. Luckily he soon after conceived a fondness for one of the Wright's officers, and the twain fell to drinking. The officer, assisted by three men, went on board late at night, and was reported attempting to wash his face in a tar-bucket and dry it with a chain cable. About midnight the priest was taken home on a shutter.
There were toasts in a large number, with a great deal of cheering, drinking, and smoking. About ten o'clock the dinner ended, and arrangements were made for a dance. Dancing was not among my accomplishments, and I retired to the ship, satisfied that on my first day in Asia I had been treated very kindly—and very often.
For two days more the wedding festivities continued, etiquette requiring the parties to visit all who attended the dinner. On the third day the hilarity ceased, and the happy couples were left to enjoy the honeymoon with its promise of matrimonial bliss. May they have many years of it.
The name of Kamchatka is generally associated with snow-fields, glaciers, frozen mountains, and ice-bound shores. Its winters are long and severe; snow falls to a great depth, and ice attains a thickness proportioned to the climate. But the summers, though short, are sufficiently hot to make up for the cold of winter. Vegetation is wonderfully rapid, the grasses, trees and plants growing as much in a hundred days as in six months of a New England summer. Hardly has the snow disappeared before the trees put forth their buds and blossoms, and the hillsides are in all the verdure of an American spring. Men tell me they have seen in a single week the snows disappear, ice break in the streams, the grass spring up, and the trees beginning to bud. Nature adapts herself to all her conditions. In the Arctic as in the Torrid zone she fixes her compensations and makes her laws for the best good of her children.
It was midsummer when we reached Kamchatka, and the heat was like that of August in Richmond or Baltimore. The thermometer ranged from sixty-five to eighty. Long walks on land were out of question, unless one possessed the power of a salamander. The shore of the bay was the best place for a promenade, and we amused ourselves watching the salmon fishers at work.
Salmon form the principal food of the Kamchadales and their dogs. The fishing season in Avatcha Bay lasts about six weeks, and at its close the salmon leave the bay and ascend the streams, where they are caught by the interior natives. In the bay they are taken in seines dragged along the shore, and the number of fish caught annually is almost beyond computation.
Some years ago the fishery failed, and more than half the dogs in Kamchatka starved. The following year there was a bountiful supply, which the priests of Petropavlovsk commemorated by erecting a cross near the entrance of the harbor. The supply is always larger after a scarcity than in ordinary seasons.
The fish designed for preservation are split and dried in the sun. The odor of a fish drying establishment reminded me of the smells in certain quarters of New York in summer, or of Cairo, Illinois, after an unusual flood has subsided. One of our officers said he counted three hundred and twenty distinct and different smells in walking half a mile.
In 1865 one of the merchants started the enterprise of curing salmon for the Sandwich Island market. He told me he paid three roubles, (about three greenback dollars,) a hundred (in number) for the fresh fish, delivered at his establishment. Evidently he found the speculation profitable, as he repeated it the following year.
When the salmon ascend the rivers they furnish food to men and animals. The natives catch them in nets and with spears, while dogs, bears, and wolves use their teeth in fishing. Bears are expert in this amusement, and where their game is plenty they eat only the heads and backs. The fish are very abundant in the rivers, and no great skill is required in their capture. Men with an air of veracity told me they had seen streams in the interior of Kamchatka so filled with salmon that one could cross on them as on a corduroy bridge! The story has a piscatorial sound, but it may be true.
House gardening on a limited scale is the principal agriculture of Kamchatka. Fifty years ago, Admiral Ricord introduced the cultivation of rye, wheat, and barley with considerable success, but the inhabitants do not take kindly to it. The government brings rye flour from the Amoor river and sells it to the people at cost, and in case of distress it issues rations from its magazines.
When I asked why there was no culture of grain in Kamchatka, they replied: "What is the necessity of it? We can buy it at cost of the government, and need not trouble ourselves about making our own flour."
There is not a sawmill on the peninsula. Boards and plank are cut by hand or brought from California. I slept two nights in a room ceiled with red-wood and pine from San Francisco.
On my second evening in Asia I passed several hours at the governor's house. The party talked, smoked, and drank tea until midnight, and then closed the entertainment with a substantial supper. An interesting and novel feature of the affair was the Russian manner of making tea. The infusion had a better flavor than any I had previously drank. This is due partly to the superior quality of the leaf, and partly to the manner of its preparation.
The "samovar" or tea-urn is an indispensable article in a Russian household, and is found in nearly every dwelling from the Baltic to Bering's Sea. "Samovar" comes from two Greek words, meaning 'to boil itself.' The article is nothing but a portable furnace; a brazen urn with a cylinder two or three inches in diameter passing through it from top to bottom. The cylinder being filled with coals, the water in the urn is quickly heated, and remains boiling hot as long as the fire continues. An imperial order abolishing samovars throughout all the Russias, would produce more sorrow and indignation than the expulsion of roast beef from the English bill of fare. The number of cups it will contain is the measure of a samovar.
Tea pots are of porcelain or earthenware. The tea pot is rinsed and warmed with hot water before receiving the dry leaf. Boiling water is poured upon the tea, and when the pot is full it is placed on the top of the samovar. There it is kept hot but not boiled, and in five or six minutes the tea is ready. Cups and saucers are not employed by the Russians, but tumblers are generally used for tea drinking, and in the best houses, where it can be afforded, they are held in silver sockets like those in soda shops. Only loaf sugar is used in sweetening tea. When lemons can be had they are employed to give flavor, a thin slice, neither rolled nor pressed, being floated on the surface of the tea.
The Russians take tea in the morning, after dinner, after lunch, before bed-time, in the evening, at odd intervals in the day or night, and they drink a great deal of it between drinks.
In rambling about Petropavlovsk I found the hills covered with luxuriant grass, sometimes reaching to my knees. Two or three miles inland the grass was waist high on ground covered with snow six weeks before. Among the flowers I recognized the violet and larkspur, the former in great abundance. Earlier in the summer the hills were literally carpeted with flowers. I could not learn that any skilled botanist had ever visited Kamchatka and classified its flora. Among the arboreal productions the alder and birch were the most numerous. Pine, larch, and spruce grow on the Kamchatka river, and the timber from them is brought to Avatcha from the mouth of that stream.
The commercial value of Kamchatka is entirely in its fur trade. The peninsula has no agricultural, manufacturing, or mining interest, and were it not for the animals that lend their skins to keep us warm, the merchant would find no charms in that region. The fur coming from Kamchatka was the cause of the Russian discovery and conquest. For many years the trade was conducted by individual merchants from Siberia. The Russian American Company attempted to control it early in the present century, and drove many competitors from the fields. It received the most determined opposition from American merchants, and in 1860 it abandoned Petropavlovsk, its business there being profitless.
In 1866 I found the fur trade of Kamchatka in the control of three merchants: W.H. Boardman, of Boston, J.W. Fluger, of Hamburg, and Alexander Phillipeus, of St. Petersburg. All of them had houses in Petropavlovsk, and each had from one to half a dozen agencies or branches elsewhere. To judge by appearances, Mr. Boardman had the lion's share of the trade. This gentleman's father began the Northwest traffic sometime in the last century, and left it as an inheritance about 1828. His son continued the business until bought off by the Hudson Bay Company, when he turned his attention to Kamchatka. Personally he has never visited the Pacific Ocean.
Mr. Fluger had been only two years in Kamchatka, and was doing a miscellaneous business. Boardman's agent confined himself to the fur trade, but Fluger was up to anything. He salted salmon for market, sent a schooner every year into the Arctic Ocean for walrus teeth and mammoth tusks, bought furs, sold goods, kept a dog team, was attentive to the ladies, and would have run for Congress had it been possible. He had in his store about half a cord of walrus teeth piled against a back entrance like stove wood. Phillipeus was a roving blade. He kept an agent at Petropavlovsk and came there in person once a year. In February he left St. Petersburg for London, whence he took the Red Sea route to Japan. There he chartered a brig to visit Kamchatka and land him at Ayan, on the Ohotsk Sea. From Ayan he went to Yakutsk, and from that place through Irkutsk to St. Petersburg, where he arrived about three hundred and fifty days after his departure. I met him in the Russian capital just as he had completed the sixth journey of this kind and was about to commence the seventh. If he were a Jew he should be called the wandering Jew.
Trade is conducted on the barter principle, furs being low and goods high. The risks are great, transport is costly, and money is a long time invested before it returns. The palmy days of the fur trade are over; the product has greatly diminished, and competition has reduced the percentage of profit on the little that remains.
There was a time in the memory of man when furs formed the currency of Kamchatka. Their employment as cash is not unknown at present, although Russian money is in general circulation.
There is a story of a traveler who paid his hotel bill in a country town in Minnesota and received a beaver skin in change. The landlord explained that it was legal tender for a dollar. Concealing this novel cash under his coat, the traveler sauntered into a neighboring store.
"Is it true," he asked carelessly, "that a beaver skin is legal tender for a dollar?" "Yes, sir," said the merchant; "anybody will take it."
"Will you be so kind, then," was the traveler's request, "as to give me change for a dollar bill?"
"Certainly," answered the merchant, taking the beaver skin and returning four muskrat skins, current at twenty-five cents each.
The sable is the principal fur sought by the merchants in Kamchatka, or trapped by the natives. The animal is caught in a variety of ways, man's ingenuity being taxed to capture him. The 'yessak,' or 'poll-tax' of the natives is payable in sable fur, at the rate of a skin for every four persons. The governor makes a yearly journey through the peninsula to collect the tax, and is supposed to visit all the villages. The merchants go and do likewise for trading purposes.
Mr. George S. Cushing, who was long the agent of Mr. Boardman in Kamchatka, estimated the product of sable fur at about six thousand skins annually. Sometimes it exceeds and sometimes falls below that figure. About a thousand foxes, a few sea otters and silver foxes, and a good many bears, may be added, more for number than value. Silver foxes and otters are scarce, while common foxes and bears are of little account. A black fox is worth a great deal of money, but one may find a white crow almost as readily.
Bears are abundant, but their skins are not articles of export. The beasts are brown or black, and grow to a disagreeable size. Bear hunting is an amusement of the country, very pleasant and exciting until the bear turns and becomes the hunter. Then there is no fun in it, if he succeeds in his pursuit. A gentleman in Kamchatka gave me a bearskin more than six feet long, and declared that it was not unusually large. I am very glad there was no live bear in it when it came into my possession.
There is a story of a man in California who followed the track of a grizzly bear a day and a half. He abandoned it because, as he explained, "it was getting a little too fresh."
One day, about two years before my visit, a cow suddenly entered Petropavlovsk with a live bear on her back. The bear escaped unhurt, leaving the cow pretty well scratched. After that event she preferred to graze in or near the town, and never brought home another bear.
Kamchatka without dogs would be like Hamlet without Hamlet. While crossing the Pacific my compagnons du voyage made many suggestions touching my first experience in Kamchatka. "You won't sleep any the first night in port. The dogs will howl you out of your seven senses." This was the frequent remark of the engineer, corroborated by others. On arriving, we were disappointed to find less than a hundred dogs at Petropavlovsk, as the rest of the canines belonging there were spending vacation in the country. About fifteen hundred were owned in the town.
Very few Kamchadale dogs can bark, but they will howl oftener, longer, and louder than any 'yaller dog' that ever went to a cur pound or became sausage meat. The few in Petropavlovsk made much of their ability, and were especially vocal at sunset, near their feeding time. Occasionally during the night they try their throats and keep up a hailing and answering chorus, calculated to draw a great many oaths from profane strangers.
In 1865 Colonel Bulkley carried one of these animals to California. The dog lifted up his voice on the waters very often, and received a great deal of rope's ending in consequence. At San Francisco Mr. Covert took him home, and attempted his domestication. 'Norcum,' (for that was the brute's name,) created an enmity between Covert and all who lived within hearing distance, and many were the threats of canicide. Covert used to rise two or three times every night and argue, with a club, to induce Norcum to be silent. While I was at San Francisco, Mr. Mumford, one of the Telegraph Company's directors, conceived a fondness for the dog, and took him to the Occidental Hotel.
On the first day of his hotel life we tied Norcum on the balcony in front of Mumford's room, about forty feet from the ground. Scarcely had we gone to dinner when he jumped from the balcony and hung by his chain, with his hind feet resting upon a cornice.
A howling wilderness is nothing to the noise he made before his rescue, and he gathered and amused a large crowd with his performance. He passed the night in the western basement of the hotel, and spoiled the sleep of a dozen or more persons who lodged near him. When we left San Francisco, Norcum was residing in the baggage-room at the Occidental, under special care of the porters, who employed a great deal of muscle in teaching him that silence was a golden virtue.
The Kamchadale dogs are of the same breed as those used by the Esquimaux, but are said to possess more strength and endurance. The best Asiatic dogs are among the Koriaks, near Penjinsk Gulf, the difference being due to climate and the care taken in breeding them. Dogs are the sole reliance for winter travel in Kamchatka, and every resident considers it his duty to own a team. They are driven in odd numbers, all the way from three to twenty-one. The most intelligent and best trained dog acts as a leader, the others being harnessed in pairs. No reins are used, the voice of the driver being sufficient to guide them.
Dogs are fed almost entirely upon fish. They receive their rations daily at sunset, and it is always desirable that each driver should feed his own team. The day before starting on a journey, the dog receives a half ration only, and he is kept on this slender diet as long as the journey lasts. Sometimes when hungry they gnaw their reindeer skin harnesses, and sometimes they do it as a pastime. Once formed, the habit is not easy to break. Two kinds of sledges are used, one for travel and the other for transporting freight. The former is light and just large enough for one person with a little baggage. The driver sits with his feet hanging over the side, and clings to a bow that rises in front. In one hand he holds an iron-pointed staff, with which he retards the vehicle in descending hills, or brings it to a halt. A traveling sledge weighs about twenty-five pounds, but a freight sledge is much heavier.
A good team will travel from forty to sixty miles a day with favorable roads. Sometimes a hundred a day may be accomplished, but very rarely. Once an express traveled from Petropavlovsk to Bolcheretsk, a hundred and twenty-five miles, in twenty-three hours, without change of dogs.
Wolves have an inconvenient fondness for dog meat, and occasionally attack travelers. A gentleman told me that a wolf once sprang from the bushes, seized and dragged away one of his dogs, and did not detain the team three minutes. The dogs are cowardly in their dispositions, and will not fight unless they have large odds in their favor. A pack of them will attack and kill a single strange dog, but would not disturb a number equaling their own.
Most of the Russian settlers buy their dogs from the natives who breed them. Dogs trained to harness are worth from ten to forty roubles (dollars) each, according to their quality. Leaders bring high prices on account of their superior docility and the labor of training them. Epidemics are frequent among dogs and carry off great numbers of them. Hydrophobia is a common occurrence.