As Seen and Described by Famous Writers
Edited and Translated by
Author of "Turrets, Towers and Temples," "Great Pictures," and "A Guide to the Opera," and translator of "The Music Dramas of Richard Wagner."
WITH NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS
Dodd, Mead and Company
This is intended to be a companion volume to Japan, and therefore follows the same general plan and arrangement. It aims to present in small compass a somewhat comprehensive view of the great Muscovite power. After a short description of the country and race, we pass to a brief review of the history and religion including ritual and ceremonial observances of the Greek Church. Next come descriptions of regions, cities and architectural marvels; and then follow articles on the various manners and customs of rural and town life. The arts of the nation are treated comprehensively; and a chapter of the latest statistics concludes the rapid survey. The material is all selected from the writings of those who speak with authority on the subjects with which they deal.
The Russian Empire is so vast that it would be impossible to give detailed descriptions of all its parts in a work of this size: therefore I have been forced to be content with more general descriptions of provinces with an occasional addition of a typical city.
New York, April 21, 1904.
THE COUNTRY AND RACE
The Russian Empire Prince Kropotkine.
Siberia Jean Jacques Elisee Reclus.
The Russian Races W. R. Morfill.
HISTORY AND RELIGION
The History of Russia W. R. Morfill.
Church Service Alfred Maskell.
The Creeds of Russia Ernest W. Lowry.
St. Petersburg J. Beavington Atkinson.
Finland Harry De Windt.
Lapland Alexander Platonovich Engelhardt.
Moscow (The Kremlin and its treasuries—The Ancient Regalia—The Romanoff House) Alfred Maskell.
Vassili-Blagennoi (St. Basil the Blessed) Theophile Gautier.
Poland Thomas Michell.
Kief, the City of Pilgrimage J. Beavington Atkinson.
Nijni-Novgorod Antonio Gallenga.
The Volga Basin. (The Great River—Kasan—Tsaritzin—Astrakhan) Antonio Gallenga.
Odessa Antonio Gallenga.
The Don Cossacks Thomas Michell.
In the Caucasus J. Buchan Teller.
Khiva Fred Burnaby.
The Trans-Siberian Railway William Durban.
MANNERS AND CUSTOMS
High Life in Russia The Countess of Galloway.
Rural Life in Russia Lady Verney
Food and Drink H. Sutherland Edwards.
Carnival-Time and Easter A. Nicol Simpson.
Russian Tea and Tea-Houses H. Sutherland Edwards.
How Russia Amuses Itself Fred Whishaw.
The Kirghiz and their Horses Fred Burnaby.
Winter in Moscow H. Sutherland Edwards.
A Journey by Sleigh Fred Burnaby.
ART AND LITERATURE
Russian Architecture Eugene Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc.
Sculpture and Painting Philippe Berthelot.
Russian Music A. E. Keeton.
Russian Literature W. R. Morfill.
Present Conditions E. S.
MOSCOW ARCHANGEL REVEL SIBERIAN NATIVES SAMOJEDES OF NOVA ZEMBLA ROOM OF THE TSAR MICHAILOWITCH, MOSCOW CHURCH OF THE ASSUMPTION A RELIGIOUS PROCESSION, KOLA SHRINE IN THE CONVENT SOLOVETSKII, KOLA ST. PETERSBURG THE HERMITAGE, ST. PETERSBURG HELSINGFORS, FINLAND REINDEER TRAVELLING MOSCOW THE KREMLIN, MOSCOW VASSILI—BLAGENNOI (ST. BASIL THE BLESSED), MOSCOW NOWO ZJAZD STREET, WARSAW HOTEL DEVILLE, WARSAW THE DNIEPER AT KIEF LA LAVRA, KIEF NIJNI—NOVGOROD (BRIDGE OF THE FAIR) FROM THE RAMPARTS OF THE KREMLIN, NIJNI—NOVGOROD PLACE TUREMNAJA, ODESSA SEBASTOPOL KHARKOFF TIFLIS THE WINTER PALACE, ST. PETERSBURG RUSSIAN FARM SCENE THE TSAR'S DINING-ROOM, MOSCOW ST. ISAAC'S CATHEDRAL, ST. PETERSBURG ST. ANNE RESTAURANT, WIBORG THE RED SQUARE, MOSCOW CHURCH OF THE REDEEMER, MOSCOW STATUE OF PETER THE GREAT AND THE ADMIRALTY PALACE, ST. PETERSBURG THE THEATRE, ODESSA THE LIBRARY, ODESSA THE TSAR NICHOLAS THE TSARINA KALKSTRASSE AND PROMENADE, RIGA
THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE
The Russian Empire is a very extensive territory in eastern Europe and northern Asia, with an area exceeding 8,500,000 square miles, or one-sixth of the land surface of the globe (one twenty-third of its whole superficies). It is, however, but thinly peopled on the average, including only one-fourteenth of the inhabitants of the earth. It is almost entirely confined to the cold and temperate zones. In Nova Zembla (Novaya Zemlya) and the Taimir peninsula, it projects within the Arctic Circle as far as 77 deg. 2' and 77 deg. 40' N. latitude; while its southern extremities reach 38 deg. 50' in Armenia, about 35 deg. on the Afghan frontier, and 42 deg. 30' on the coasts of the Pacific. To the West it advances as far as 20 deg. 40' E. longitude in Lapland, 18 deg. 32' in Poland, and 29 deg. 42' on the Black Sea; and its eastern limit—East Cape in the Bering Strait—extends to 191 deg. E. longitude.
The Arctic Ocean—comprising the White, Barents, and Kara Seas—and the northern Pacific, that is the Seas of Bering, Okhotsk, and Japan, bound it on the north and east. The Baltic, with its two deep indentations, the Gulfs of Bothnia and Finland, limits it on the north-west; and two sinuous lines of frontier separate it respectively from Sweden and Norway on the north-west, and from Prussia, Austria and Roumania on the west. The southern frontier is still unsettled. In Asia beyond the Caspian, the southern boundary of the empire remains vague; the advance into the Turcoman Steppes and Afghan Turkestan, and on the Pamir plateau is still in progress. Bokhara and Khiva, though represented as vassal khanates, are in reality mere dependencies of Russia. An approximately settled frontier-line begins only farther east, where the Russian and Chinese empires meet on the borders of eastern Turkestan, Mongolia and Manchuria.
Russia has no oceanic possessions, and has abandoned those she owned in the last century; her islands are mere appendages of the mainland to which they belong. Such are the Aland archipelago, Hochland, Tuetters, Dagoe and Osel in the Baltic Sea; Nova Zembla, with Kolgueff and Vaigatch, in the Barents Sea; the Solovetsky Islands in the White Sea; the New Siberian archipelago and the small group of the Medvyezhii Islands off the Siberian coast; the Commandor Islands off Kamchatka; the Shantar Islands and Saghalin in the Sea of Okhotsk. The Aleutian archipelago was sold to the United States in 1867, together with Alaska, and in 1874 the Kurile Islands were ceded to Japan.
A vast variety of physical features is obviously to be expected in a territory like this, which comprises on the one side the cotton and silk regions of Turkestan and Trans-caucasia, and on the other the moss and lichen-clothed Arctic tundras and the Verkhoyansk Siberian pole of cold—the dry Transcaspian deserts and the regions watered by the monsoons on the coasts of the Sea of Japan. Still, if the border regions, that is, two narrow belts in the north and south, be left out of account, a striking uniformity of physical feature prevails. High plateaus, like those of Pamir (the "Roof of the World") or of Armenia, and high mountain chains like the snow-clad summits of the Caucasus, the Alay, the Thian-Shan, the Sayan, are met with only on the outskirts of the empire.
Viewed broadly by the physical geographer, it appears as occupying the territories to the north-west of that great plateau-belt of the old continent—the backbone of Asia—which spreads with decreasing height and width from the high table-land of Tibet and Pamir to the lower plateaus of Mongolia, and thence north-eastwards through the Vitim region to the furthest extremity of Asia. It may be said to consist of the immense plains and flat-lands which extend between the plateau-belt and the Arctic Ocean, including all the series of parallel chains and hilly spurs which skirt the plateau-belt on the north-west. It extends over the plateau itself, and crosses it beyond Lake Baikal only.
A broad belt of hilly tracts—in every respect Alpine in character, and displaying the same variety of climate and organic life as Alpine tracts usually do—skirts the plateau-belt throughout its length on the north and north-west, forming an intermediate region between the plateaus and the plains. The Caucasus, the Elburz, the Kopetdagh, and Paropamisus, the intricate and imperfectly known network of mountains west of the Pamir, the Thian-Shan and Ala-tau mountain regions, and farther north-east the Altai, the still unnamed complex of Minusinsk mountains, the intricate mountain-chains of Sayan, with those of the Olekma, Vitim, and Aldan, all of which are ranged en echelon,—the former from north-west to south-east, and the others from south-west to north-east—all these belong to one immense Alpine belt bordering that of the plateaus. These have long been known to Russian colonists, who, seeking to escape religious persecutions and exactions by the state, early penetrated into and rapidly pushed their small settlements up the better valleys of these tracts, and continued to spread everywhere as long as they found no obstacles in the shape of a former population or in unfavourable climatic conditions.
As for the flat-lands which extend from the Alpine hill-foots to the shores of the Arctic Ocean, and assume the character either of dry deserts in the Aral-Caspian depression, or of low table-lands in central Russia and eastern Siberia, of lake-regions in north-west Russia and Finland, or of marshy prairies in western Siberia, and of tundras in the north,—their monotonous surfaces are diversified by only a few, and these for the most part low, hilly tracts.
As to the picturesque Bureya mountains on the Amur, the forest-clothed Sikhota-alin on the Pacific, and the volcanic chains of Kamchatka, they belong to quite another orographical world; they are the border-ridges of the terraces by which the great plateau-belt descends to the depths of the Pacific Ocean. It is owing to these leading orographical features—divined by Carl Ritter, but only within the present day revealed by geographical research—that so many of the great rivers of the old continent are comprised within the limits of the Russian empire. Taking rise on the plateau-belt, or in its Alpine outskirts, they flow first, like the upper Rhone and Rhine, along high longitudinal valleys formerly filled up with great lakes; next they find their way through the rocky walls; and finally they enter the lowlands, where they become navigable, and, describing great curves to avoid here and there the minor plateaus and hilly tracts, they bring into water-communication with one another places thousands of miles apart. The double river-systems of the Volga and Kama, the Obi and Irtish, the Angara and Yenisei, the Lena and Vitim on the Arctic slope, the Amur and Sungari on the Pacific slope, are instances. They were the true channels of Russian colonization.
A broad depression—the Aral-Caspian desert—has arisen where the plateau-belt has reached its greatest height and suddenly changes its direction from a north-western into a north-eastern one; this desert is now filled only to a small extent by the salt waters of the Caspian, Aral and Balkash inland seas; but it bears unmistakable traces of having been during Post-Pliocene times an immense inland basin. There the Volga, the Ural, the Sir Daria, and the Oxus discharge their waters without reaching the ocean, but continue to bring life to the rapidly drying Transcaspian Steppes, or connect by their river network, as the Volga does, the most remote parts of European Russia.
The above-described features of the physical geography of the empire explain the relative uniformity of this wide territory, in conjunction with the variety of physical features on the outskirts. They explain also the rapidity of the expansion of Sclavonic colonization over these thinly-peopled regions; and they also throw light upon the internal cohesion of the empire, which cannot fail to strike the traveller as he crosses this immense territory, and finds everywhere the same dominating race, the same features of life. In fact, as their advance from the basins of the Volkhoff and Dnieper to the foot of the Altai and Sayan mountains, that is, along nearly a quarter of the earth's circumference, the Russian colonizers could always find the same physical conditions, the same forest and prairies as they had left at home, the same facilities for agriculture, only modified somewhat by minor topographical features. New conditions of climate and soil, and consequently new cultures and civilizations, the Russians met with, in their expansion towards the south and east, only beyond the Caucasus in the Aral-Caspian region, and in the basin of the Usuri on the Pacific coast. Favoured by these conditions, the Russians not only conquered northern Asia—they colonized it.
The Russian Empire falls into two great subdivisions, the European and the Asiatic, the latter of which, representing an aggregate of nearly 6,500,000 square miles, with a population of only sixteen million inhabitants may be considered as held by colonies. The European dominions comprise European Russia, Finland, which is, in fact, a separate nationality treated to some extent as an allied state, and Poland, whose very name has been erased from official documents, but which nevertheless continues to pursue its own development. The Asiatic dominions comprise the following great subdivisions:—Caucasia, under a separate governor-general; the Transcaspian region, which is under the governor-general of Caucasus; the Kirghiz Steppes; Turkestan under separate governors-general, Western Siberia and Eastern Siberia; and the Amur region, which last comprises also the Pacific coast region and Kamchatka.
Climate of Russia in Europe.—Notwithstanding the fact that Russia extends from north to south through twenty-six degrees of latitude, the climate of its different portions, apart from the Crimea and the Caucasus, presents a striking uniformity. The aerial currents—cyclones, anti-cyclones and dry south-east winds—extend over wide surfaces and cross the flat plains freely. Everywhere we find a cold winter and a hot summer, both varying in their duration, but differing little in the extremes of temperature recorded.
Throughout Russia the winter is of long continuance. The last days of frost are experienced for the most part in April, but also in May to the north of fifty-five degrees. The spring is exceptionally beautiful in central Russia; late as it usually is, it sets in with vigour and develops with a rapidity which gives to this season in Russia a special charm, unknown in warmer climates; and the rapid melting of snow at the same time raises the rivers, and renders a great many minor streams navigable for a few weeks. But a return of cold weather, injurious to vegetation, is observed throughout central and eastern Russia between May 18 and 24, so that it is only in June that warm weather sets in definitely, reaching its maximum in the first half of July (or of August on the Black Sea coast). The summer is much warmer than might be supposed; in south-eastern Russia it is much warmer than in the corresponding latitudes of France, and really hot weather is experienced everywhere. It does not, however, prevail for long, and in the first half of September the first frosts begin to be experienced on the middle Urals; they reach western and southern Russia in the first days of October, and are felt on the Caucasus about the middle of November. The temperature descends so rapidly that a month later, about October 10 on the middle Urals and November 15 throughout Russia the thermometer ceases to rise above the freezing-point. The rivers rapidly freeze; towards November 20 all the streams of the White Sea basin are covered with ice, and so remain for an average of 167 days; those of the Baltic, Black Sea, and Caspian basins freeze later, but about December 20 nearly all the rivers of the country are highways for sledges. The Volga remains frozen for a period varying between 150 days in the north and 90 days at Astrakhan, the Don for 100 to 110 days, and the Dneiper for 83 to 122 days. On the Dwina ice prevents navigation for 125 days and even the Vistula at Warsaw remains frozen for 77 days. The lowest temperatures are experienced in January, in which month the average is as low as 20 deg. to 5 deg. Fahr. throughout Russia; in the west only does it rise above 22 deg..
The flora and fauna of Russia.—The flora of Russia, which represents an intermediate link between those of Germany and Siberia, is strikingly uniform over a very large area. Though not poor at any given place, it appears so if the space occupied by Russia be taken into account, only 3,300 species of phanerogams and ferns being known. Four great regions may be distinguished:—the Arctic, the Forest, the Steppe, and the Circum-Mediterranean.
The Arctic Region comprises the tundras of the Arctic littoral beyond the northern limit of forests, which last closely follows the coast-line with bends towards the north in the river valleys (70 deg. N. lat. in Finland, on the Arctic Circle about Archangel, 68 deg. N. on the Urals, 71 deg. on West Siberia). The shortness of summer, the deficiency of drainage and the thickness of the layer of soil which is frozen through in winter are the elements which go to the making of the characteristic features of the tundras. Their flora is far nearer those of northern Siberia and North America than that of central Europe. Mosses and lichens cover them, as also the birch, the dwarf willow, and a variety of shrubs; but where the soil is drier, and humus has been able to accumulate, a variety of herbaceous flowering plants, some of which are familiar also in western Europe, make their appearance.
The Forest Region of the Russian botanists occupies the greater part of the country, from the Arctic tundras to the Steppes, and it maintains over this immense surface a remarkable uniformity of character. Viewed as a whole, the flora of the forest region must be regarded as European-Siberian; and though certain species disappear towards the east, while new ones make their appearance, it maintains, on the whole, the same characters throughout from Poland to Kamchatka. Thus the beech, a characteristic tree of western Europe, is unable to face the continental climate of Russia, and does not penetrate beyond Poland and the south-western provinces, reappearing again in the Crimea. The silver fir does not extend over Russia, and the oak does not cross the Urals. On the other hand, several Asiatic species (Siberian pine, larch, cedar) grow freely in the north-east, while several shrubs and herbaceous plants, originally from the Asiatic Steppes, have spread into the south-east. But all these do not greatly alter the general character of the vegetation.
The Region of the Steppes, which covers all Southern Russia, may be subdivided into two zones—an intermediate zone and that of the Steppes proper. The Ante-Steppe of the preceding region and the intermediate zone of the Steppes include those tracts where the West-European climate struggles with the Asiatic, and where a struggle is being carried on between the forest and the Steppe.
The Steppes proper are very fertile elevated plains, slightly undulated, and intersected by numerous ravines which are dry in summer. The undulations are scarcely apparent to the eye as it takes in a wide prospect under a blazing sun and with a deep-blue sky overhead. Not a tree is to be seen, the few woods and thickets being hidden in the depressions and deep valleys of the rivers. On the thick sheet of black earth by which the Steppe is covered a luxuriant vegetation develops in spring; after the old grass has been burned a bright green covers immense stretches, but this rapidly disappears under the burning rays of the sun and the hot easterly winds. The colouring of the Steppe changes as if by magic, and only the silvery plumes of the kovyl (Stipa pennata) wave under the wind, giving the Steppe the aspect of a bright, yellow sea. For days together the traveller sees no other vegetation; even this, however, disappears as he nears the regions recently left dry from the Caspian, where salted clays covered with a few Salsolaceoe, or mere sands, take the place of the black earth. Here begins the Aral-Caspian desert. The Steppe, however, is not so devoid of trees as at first sight appears. Innumerable clusters of wild cherries, wild apricots, and other deep-rooted shrubs grow in the depressions of the surface, and on the slopes of the ravines, giving the Steppe that charm which manifests itself in popular poetry. Unfortunately, the spread of cultivation is fatal to these oases (they are often called "islands" by the inhabitants); the axe and the plough ruthlessly destroy them. The vegetation of the poimy and zaimischas in the marshy bottoms of the ravines, and in the valleys of streams and rivers, is totally different. The moist soil gives free development to thickets of various willows, bordered with dense walls of worm-wood and needle-bearing Composita, and interspersed with rich but not extensive prairies harbouring a great variety of herbaceous plants; while in the deltas of the Black Sea rivers impenetrable masses of rush shelter a forest fauna. But cultivation rapidly changes the physiognomy of the Steppe. The prairies are superseded by wheat-fields, and flocks of sheep destroy the true steppe-grass (Stipa-pennata), which retires farther east.
The Circum-Mediterranean Region is represented by a narrow strip of land on the south coast of the Crimea, where a climate similar to that of the Mediterranean coast has permitted the development of a flora closely resembling that of the valley of the Arno.
The fauna of European Russia does not very materially differ from that of western Europe. In the forests not many animals which have disappeared from western Europe have held their ground; while in the Urals only a few—now Siberian, but formerly also European—are met with. On the whole, Russia belongs to the same zoo-geographical region as central Europe and northern Asia, the same fauna extending in Siberia as far as the Yenisei and Lena. In south-eastern Russia, however, towards the Caspian, we find a notable admixture of Asiatic species, the deserts of that part of Russia belonging in reality rather to the Aral-Caspian depression than to Europe.
For the zoo-geographer only three separate sub-regions appear on the East-European plains—the tundras, including the Arctic islands, the forest region, especially the coniferous part of it, and the Ante-Steppe and Steppes of the black-earth region. The Ural mountains might be distinguished as a fourth sub-region, while the south-coast of the Crimea and Caucasus, as well as the Caspian deserts, have their own individuality.
As for the adjoining seas, the fauna of the Arctic Ocean off the Norwegian coast corresponds, in its western parts at least, to that of the North Atlantic Gulf Stream. The White Sea and the Arctic Ocean to the east of Svyatoi Nos belong to a separate zoological region connected with, and hardly separable from, that part of the Arctic Ocean which extends along the Siberian coast as far as to about the Lena. The Black Sea, of which the fauna was formerly little known but now appears to be very rich, belongs to the Mediterranean region, slightly modified, while the Caspian partakes of the characteristic fauna inhabiting the lakes and seas of the Aral-Caspian depression.
In the region of the tundras life has to contend with such unfavourable conditions that it cannot be abundant. Still the reindeer frequents it for its lichens, and on the drier slopes of the moraine deposits four species of lemming, hunted by the Canis lagopus, find quarters. Two species of the white partridge, the lark, one Plectrophanes, two or three species of Sylvia, one Phylloscopus, and the Motacilla must be added. Numberless aquatic birds, however, visit it for breeding purposes. Ducks, divers, geese, gulls, all the Russian species of snipes and sandpipers, etc., cover the marshes of the tundras, or the crags of the Lapland coast.
The forest region, and especially its coniferous portion, though it has lost some of its representatives within historic times, is still rich. The reindeer, rapidly disappearing, is now met with only in Olonetz and Vologda; the Cervus pygargus is found everywhere, and reaches Novgorod. The weasel, the fox and the hare are exceedingly common, as also the wolf and the bear in the north; but the glutton, the lynx, and even the elk are rapidly disappearing. The wild boar is confined to the basin of the Dwina, and the Bison eropea to the Bielovyezha forests. The sable has quite disappeared, being found only on the Urals; the beaver is found at a few places in Minsk, and the otter is very rare. On the other hand, the hare and also the grey partridge, the hedgehog, the quail, the lark, the rook, and the stork find their way into the coniferous region as the forests are cleared. The avifauna is very rich; it includes all the forest and garden birds which are known in western Europe, as well as a very great variety of aquatic birds. Hunting and shooting give occupation to a great number of persons. The reptiles are few. As for fishes, all those of western Europe, except the carp, are met with in the lakes and rivers in immense quantities, the characteristic feature of the region being its wealth in Coregoni and in Salmonidoe generally.
In the Ante-Steppe the forest species proper, such as Pteromys volans and Tamias striatus, disappear, but the common squirrel, the weasel, and the bear are still met with in the forests. The hare is increasing rapidly, as well as the fox. The avifauna, of course, becomes poorer; nevertheless the woods of the Steppe, and still more the forests of the Ante-Steppe, give refuge to many birds, even to the hazel-hen, the woodcock and the black-grouse. The fauna of the thickets at the bottom of the river-valleys is decidedly, rich and includes aquatic birds. The destruction of the forests and the advance of wheat into the prairies are rapidly impoverishing the Steppe fauna. The various species of rapacious animals are disappearing, together with the colonies of marmots; the insectivores are also becoming scarce in consequence of the destruction of insects, while vermin, such as the suslik (Spermophilus), become a real plague, as also the destructive insects which have been a scourge to agriculture during recent years. The absence of Coregoni is a characteristic feature of the fish-fauna of the Steppes; the carp, on the contrary, reappears, and the rivers are rich in sturgeons. On the Volga below Nijni Novgorod the sturgeon, and others of the same family, as also a very great variety of ganoids and Teleostei, appear in such quantities that they give occupation to nearly 100,000 people. The mouths of the Caspian rivers are especially celebrated for their wealth of fish.
JEAN JACQUES ELISEE RECLUS
Siberia is emphatically the "Land of the North." Its name has by some etymologists been identified with "Severia," a term formerly applied to various northern regions of European Russia. The city of Sibir, which has given its name to the whole of North Asia, was so called only by the Russians, its native name being Isker. The Cossacks, coming from the south and centre of Russia, may have naturally regarded as pre-eminently the "Northern Land" those cold regions of the Ob basin lying beyond the snowy mountains which form the "girdle of the world."
Long before the conquest of Sibir by the Cossacks, this region was known to the Arab traders and missionaries. The Tatars of Sibir were Mahommedans and this town was the centre of the great fur trade. The Russians themselves had constant relations with the inhabitants of the Asiatic slopes of the Urals, and the Novgorodians were acquainted with the regions stretching "beyond the portages." Early in the Sixteenth Century the Moscow Tsars, heirs of the Novgorod power, called themselves lords of Obdoria and Kondina; that is of all the Lower Ob basin between the Konda and the Irtish confluence, and the station of Obdorsk, under the Arctic Circle. Their possessions—that is, the hunting grounds visited by the Russian agents of the Strogonov family—consequently skirted the great river for a distance of 600 miles. But the Slav power was destined soon to be consolidated by conquest, and such is the respect inspired by force that the successful expedition of a Cossack brigand, on whose head a price had been set, was supposed to have led to the discovery of Siberia, although really preceded by many visits of a peaceful character. Even still the conquering Yermak is often regarded as a sort of explorer of the lands beyond the Urals. But he merely establishes himself as a master where the Strogonov traders had been received as guests. Maps of the Ob and of the Ostiak country had already been published by Sebastian Munster and by Herberstein a generation before the Cossacks entered Sibir. The very name of this town is marked on Munster's map.
In 1579, Yermak began the second plundering expedition, which in two years resulted in the capture of the Tatar kingdom. When the conquerors entered Sibir they had been reduced from over 800 to about 400 men. But this handful represented the power of the Tsars and Yermak could sue for pardon, with the offer of a kingdom as his ransom. Before the close of the Sixteenth Century the land had been finally subdued. Sibir itself, which stood on a high bluff on the right bank of the Irtish, exists no more, having probably been swept away by the erosions of the stream. But ten miles farther down another capital, Tobolsk, arose, also on the right bank, and the whole of the north was gradually added to the Tsar's dominions. The fur trappers, more even than the soldiers, were the real conquerors of Siberia. Nevertheless, many battles had to be fought down to the middle of the Seventeenth Century. The Buriats of the Angora basin, the Koriaks, and other tribes long held out; but most of the land was peacefully acquired, and permanently secured by the forts erected by the Cossacks at the junction of the rivers, at the entrance of the mountain passes, and other strategic points. History records no other instance of such a vast dominion so rapidly acquired, and with such slender means, by a handful of men acting mostly on their own impulse, without chiefs or instructions from the centre of authority.
Even China allowed the Cossacks to settle on the banks of the Amur, though the treaty of Nerchinsk required the Russians to withdraw from that basin in 1689. But during the present century they have been again attracted to this region, and the Government of St. Petersburg is now fully alive to the advantages of a free access by a large navigable stream to the Pacific seaboard. Hence, in 1851, Muraviov established the factory of Nikolaievsk, near the mouth of the Amur, and those of Mariinsk and Alexandrovsk at either end of the portage connecting that river with the Bay of Castries. During the Crimean war its left bank was definitely secured by a line of fortified posts, and in 1859 a ukase confirmed the possession of a territory torn from China in time of peace. Lastly, in 1860, while the Anglo-French forces were entering Pekin, Russia obtained without a blow the cession of the region south of the Amur and east of the Ussuri, stretching along the coast to the Corean frontier.
And thus was completed the reduction of the whole of North Asia, a territory of itself alone far more extensive than the European continent. In other respects there is, of course, no point of comparison between these two regions. This Siberian world, where vast wildernesses still remain to be explored, has a foreign trade surpassed by that of many a third-rate European seaport, such as Dover or Boulogne. Embracing a thirteenth part of the dry land on the surface of the globe, its population falls short of that of London alone; it is even more sparsely peopled than Caucasia and Turkestan, having little over one inhabitant to 1,000 acres.
Accurate surveys of the physical features and frontier-lines are still far from complete. Only quite recently the first circumnavigation of the Old World round the northern shores of Siberia has been accomplished by the Swedish explorer, Nordenskjoeld. The early attempts made by Willoughby, Chancellor, and Burrough failed even to reach the Siberian coast. Hoping later on to reach China by ascending the Ob to the imaginary Lake Kitai—that is, Kathay, or China—the English renewed their efforts to discover the "north-east passage," and in 1580 two vessels, commanded by Arthur Ket and Charles Jackman, sailed for the Arctic Ocean; but they never got beyond the Kara Sea. The Dutch succeeded no better, none of the voyages undertaken by Barents and others between 1594 and 1597 reaching farther than the Spitzbergen and Novaya Zembla waters. Nor were these limits exceeded by Hendrick Hudson in 1608. This was the last attempt made by the navigators of West Europe; but the Russian traders and fishers of the White Sea were familiar with the routes to the Ob and Yenisei Gulfs, as is evident from a map published in 1600 by Boris Godunov. However, sixteen years afterwards the navigation of these waters was interdicted under pain of death, lest foreigners should discover the way to the Siberian coast.
The exploration of this seaboard had thus to be prosecuted in Siberia itself by means of vessels built for the river navigation. In 1648, the Cossack Dejnev sailed with a flotilla of small craft from the Kolima round the north-east extremity of Asia, passing long before the birth of Bering through the strait which now bears the name of that navigator. Stadukhin also explored these eastern seas in search of the islands full of fossil ivory, of which he had heard from the natives. In 1735, Pronchishchev and Lasinius embarked at Yakutsk and sailed down the Lena, exploring its delta and neighbouring coasts. Pronchishchev reached a point east of the Taimir peninsula, but failed to double the headlands between the Lena and the Yenisei estuaries. The expedition begun by Laptiev in 1739, after suffering shipwreck, was continued overland, resulting in the exploration of the Taimir peninsula and the discovery of the North Cape of the Old World, Pliny's Tabin, and the Cheluskin of modern maps, so named from the pilot who accompanied Pronchishchev and Laptiev. The western seaboard between the Yenisei and Ob estuaries had already been surveyed by Ovtzin and Minin in 1737-9.
But the problem was already being attacked from the side of the Pacific Ocean. In 1728, the Danish navigator, Bering, in the service of Russia, crossed Siberia overland to the Pacific, whence he sailed through the strait now named from him, and by him first revealed to the West, though known to the Siberian Cossacks eighty years previously. Even Bering himself, hugging the Asiatic coast, had not descried the opposite shores of America, and was uncertain as to the exact position of the strait. This point was not cleared up till Cook's voyage of 1778, and even after that the Sakhalin, Yezo and Kurile waters still remained to be explored. The shores of the mainland and islands were first traced by La Perouse, who determined the insular character of Sakhalin, and ascertained the existence of a strait connecting the Japanese Sea with that of Okhotsk. This completed the general survey of the whole Siberian seaboard.
The scientific exploration of the interior began in the Eighteenth Century with Messerschmidt, followed by Gmelin, Mueller, and Delisle de la Croyere, who determined many important physical points between the years 1733 and 1742. The region stretching beyond Lake Baikal was explored by Pallas and his associates in 1770-3. The expeditions, interrupted by the great wars following on the French Revolution, were resumed in 1828 by the Norwegian Hansteen, whose memorable expedition in company with Erman had such important results for the study of terrestrial magnetism. While Hansteen and Erman were still prosecuting their labours in every branch of natural science, Alexander von Humboldt, Ehrenberg, and Gustav Rose made a short visit to Siberia, which, however, remained one of the most important in the history of science. Middendorff's journeys to North and East Siberia had also some very valuable results, and were soon followed, in 1854, by the "expedition to Siberia" undertaken by Schwartz, Schmidt, Glehn, Usoltzev, and associates, extending over the whole region of the Trans-baikal to the Lena and northern tributaries of the Amur. Thus began the uninterrupted series of modern journeys, which are now being systematically continued in every part of Siberia, and which promise soon to leave no blanks on the chart of that region.
The work of geographical discovery, properly so called, may be said to have been brought to a close by Nordenskjoeld's recent determination of the north-east passage, vainly attempted by Willoughby, Barents, and so many other illustrious navigators.
Such a vast region as Siberia, affected in the west by Atlantic, in the east by Pacific influences, and stretching north and south across 29 deg. of latitude, must obviously present great diversities of climate. Even this bleak land has its temperate zones, which the Slav colonists are fond of calling their "Italies." Nevertheless as compared with Europe, Siberia may, on the whole, be regarded as a country of extreme temperatures—relatively great heats, and, above all, intense colds. The very term "Siberian" has justly become synonymous with a land of winds, frosts, and snows. The mean annual temperature in this region comprised between the rivers Anabara and Indigirka is 20 deg. Fahr. below freezing point. The pole of cold, oscillating diversely with the force of the lateral pressure from Yakutsk to the Lena estuary, is the meteorological centre round which the atmosphere revolves. Here are to a large extent prepared the elements of the climate of West Europe.
Travellers speak of the Siberian winters with mingled feelings of terror and rapture. An infinite silence broods over the land—all is buried in deep sleep. The animals hibernate in their dens, the streams have ceased to flow, disappearing beneath the ice and snow; the earth, of a dazzling whiteness in the centre of the landscape, but grey in the distance, nowhere offers a single object to arrest the gaze. The monotony of endless space is broken by no abrupt lines or vivid tints. The only contrast with the dull expanse of land is the everlasting azure sky, along which the sun creeps at a few degrees only above the horizon. In these intensely cold latitudes it rises and sets with hard outlines, unsoftened by the ruddy haze elsewhere encircling it on the edge of the horizon. Yet such is the strength of its rays that the snow melts on the housetop exposed to its glare, while in the shade the temperature is 40 deg. to 50 deg. below freezing point. At night, when the firmament is not aglow with the many-tinted lights and silent coruscations of the aurora borealis, the zodiacal light and the stars still shine with intense brightness.
To this severe winter, which fissures the surface and rends the rocks of the rivers into regular basalt-like columns, there succeeds a sudden and delightful spring. So instantaneous is the change that nature seems as if taken by surprise and rudely awakened. The delicate green of the opening leaf, the fragrance of the budding flowers, the intoxicating balm of the atmosphere, the radiant brightness of the heavens, all combine to impart to mere existence a voluptuous gladness. To Siberians visiting the temperate climes of Western Europe, spring seems to be unknown beyond their lands. But these first days of new life are followed by a chill, gusty and changeful interval, arising from the atmospheric disturbances caused by the thawing of the vast snowy wastes. A relapse is then experienced analogous to that too often produced in England by late east winds. The apple blossom is now nipped by the night frosts falling in the latter part of May. Hence no apples can be had in East Siberia, although the summer heats are otherwise amply sufficient for the ripening of fruit. After the fleeting summer, winter weather again sets in. It will often freeze at night in the middle of July; and after the 10th of August the sear leaf begins to fall, and in a few days all are gone, except perhaps the foliage of the larch. The snow will even sometimes settle early in August on the still leafy branches, bending and breaking them with its weight. Below the surface of the ground, winter reigns uninterrupted even by the hottest summers.
With its vast extent and varied climate, Siberia naturally embraces several vegetable zones, differing more from each other even than those of Europe. The southern Steppes have a characteristic and well-marked flora, forming a continuation of that of the Aral, Caspian and Volga plains. The treeless northern tundras also constitute a vegetable domain as sharply defined as the desert itself, while between these two zones of Steppe and tundra the forest region of Europe stretches, with many subdivisions, west and east right across the continent. Of these subdivisions the chief are those of the Ob, Yenisei, Lena, and Amur basins.
Beyond the northern tundras and southern Steppes by far the greatest space is occupied by the forest zone. From the Urals to Kamchatka the dense taiga, or woodlands are interrupted only by the streams, a few natural glades and some tracts under cultivation. The term taiga is used in a general way for all lands under timber, but east of the Altai it is applied more especially to the moist and spongy region overgrown with tangled roots and thickets, where the mari, or peat bogs, and marshes alternate with the padi, or narrow ravines. The miners call by this name the wooded mountains where they go in search of auriferous sands. But everywhere the taiga is the same dreary forest, without grass, birds, or insects, gloomy and lifeless, and noiseless but for the soughing of the wind and crackling of the branches.
The most common tree in the taiga is the larch, which best resists the winter frost and summer chills. But the Siberian woodlands also include most of the trees common to temperate Europe—the linden, alder, juniper, service, willow, aspen, poplar, birch, cherry, apricot—whose areas are regulated according to the nature of the soil, the elevation or aspect of the land. Towards the south-east, on the Chinese frontier, the birch is encroaching on the indigenous species, and the natives regard this as a sure prognostic of the approaching rule of the "White Tsar."
Conflagrations are very frequent in the Siberian forests, caused either by lightning, the woodmen, or hunters, and sometimes spreading over vast spaces till arrested by rivers, lakes or morasses. One of the pleasures of Siberian travelling is the faint odour of the woods burning in the distance.
The native flora is extremely rich in berries of every kind, supplying food for men and animals.
The extreme eastern regions of the Amur basin and Russian Manchuria, being warmer, more humid and fertile, also abound more in animal life than the other parts of Asiatic Russia. On the other hand, the Siberian bear, deer, roebuck, hare, squirrel, marmot and mole are about one-third larger, and often half as heavy again as their European congeners. This is doubtless due partly to the greater abundance of nourishment along the rivers and shores of Siberia, and partly to the fact that for ages the western species have been more preyed upon by man, living in a constant state of fear, and mostly perishing before attaining their full development.
The Arctic Seas abound probably as much as the Pacific Ocean with marine animals. Nordenskjoeld found the Siberian waters very rich in molluscs and other lower organisms, implying a corresponding abundance of larger animals. Hence fishing, perhaps more than navigation, will be the future industry of the Siberian coast populations. Cetacea, fishes, molluscs, and other marine organisms are cast up in such quantities along both sides of Bering Strait that the bears and other omnivorous creatures have here become very choice as to their food. But on some parts of the coast in the Chukchi country whales are never stranded, and since the arrival of the Russians certain species threaten to disappear altogether. The Rhytina stelleri, a species of walrus formerly frequenting Bering Strait in millions, was completely exterminated between the years 1741-68. Many of the fur-bearing animals, which attracted the Cossacks from the Urals to the Sea of Okhotsk, and which were the true cause of the conquest of Siberia, have become extremely rare. Their skins are distinguished, above all others, for their great softness, warmth, lightness, and bright colours. The more Alpine or continental the climate, the more beautiful and highly prized become the furs, which diminish in gloss towards the coast and in West Siberia, where the south-west winds prevail. The sables of the North Urals are of small value, while those of the Upper Lena, fifteen degrees farther south, are worth a king's ransom. Many species assume a white coat in winter, whereby they are difficult to be distinguished from the surrounding snows. Amongst these are the polar hare and fox, the ermine, the campagnol, often even the wolf and reindeer, besides the owl, yellow-hammer, and some other birds. Those which retain their brown or black colour are mostly such as do not show themselves in winter. The fur of the squirrels also varies with the surrounding foliage, those of the pine forests being ruddy, those of the cedar, taiga, and firs inclining to brown, and all varying in intensity of colour with that of the vegetation.
Other species besides the peltry-bearing animals have diminished in numbers since the arrival of the Russian hunters. The reindeer, which frequented the South Siberian highlands, and whose domain encroached on that of the camel, is now found only in the domestic state amongst the Soyotes of the Upper Yenisei and is met with in the wild state only in the dwarf forests and tundras of the far north. The argali has withdrawn to Mongolia from the Siberian mountains and plains, where he was still very common at the end of the last century. On the other hand, cold and want of food yearly drive great numbers of antelopes and wild horses from the Gobi Steppes towards the Siberian lowlands, tigers, wolves and other beasts of prey following in their track, and returning with them in the early spring. Several new species of animals have been introduced by man and modified by crossings in the domestic state. In the north, the Samoyeds, Chukchis, and Kamchadales have the reindeer and dog, while the horse and ox are everywhere the companions of man in the peopled regions of Siberia. The yak has been tamed by the Soyotes of the Upper Yenisei, and the camel, typical of a distinctly Eastern civilization, follows the nomads of the Kirghiz and Mongolian Steppes. All these domesticated animals seem to have acquired special qualities and habits from the various indigenous or Russian peoples of Siberia.
THE RUSSIAN RACES
W. R. MORFILL
The vast Empire of Russia, as may be readily imagined, is peopled by many different races. These may ethnologically be catalogued as follows:
I. Sclavonic races, the most important in numbers and culture. Under this head may be classified:—
(1) The Great Russians, or Russians properly so called, especially occupying the Governments round about Moscow, and from thence scattered in the north to Novgorod and Vologda, on the south to Kiev and to Voronezh, on the east to Penza, Simbirsk, and Viatka, and on the west to the Baltic provinces. Moreover, the Great Russians, as the ruling race, are to be found in small numbers in all quarters of the Empire. They amount to about 40,000,000.
(2) Little Russians (Malorossiani), dwelling south of the Russians, upon the shores of the Black Sea. These, together with the Rusniaks, amount to 16,370,000.
The Cossacks come under these two races.
To the great Russians belong the Don Cossacks, with those sprung from them—the Kouban, Stavropol, Khoperski, Volga, Mosdok, Kizlarski and Grebenski.
To the Little Russian: the Malorossiiski, with those sprung from them—the Zaporoghian, Black Sea (Chernomorski), and those of Azov and of the Danube.
(3) The White Russians, inhabiting the Western Governments. Their number amounts to 4,000,000.
(4) Poles, living in the former Kingdom of Poland and the Western Governments of the Empire. Their number amounts to 5,000,000.
(5) Servians, Bulgarians, and other Slavs, inhabiting especially Bessarabia and the country called New Russia. Their number reaches 150,000.
II. The Non-Sclavonic races comprise either original inhabitants of the country who have been subdued by the Russians, or later comers. Among races originally inhabiting the country, and subjugated by the Russians, are included—the Lithuanians and Letts, the Finns, the Samoyeds, the Mongol-Manzhurians, the races of eastern Siberia, the Turko-Tartar, the Caucasian, the German, and the Hebrew.
1. The Lithu-Lettish race inhabits the country between the western Dwina and the Nieman. In numbers they do not amount to more than 3,000,000. The Lithu-Lettish population is divided into the two following branches:—
(a) The Lithuanians properly so called (including the Samogitans or Zhmudes), who inhabit the Governments of Vilno, Kovno, Courland, and the northern parts of those of Augustovo and Grodno (1,900,000).
(b) The Letts, who inhabit the Governments of Courland, Vitebsk, Livonia, Kovno, Pskov, and St. Petersburg (1,100,000).
2. The Finnish race—known in the old Sclavonic chronicles under the name of Chouds—at one time inhabited all the north-eastern part of Russia. The Finns, according to the place of their habitation, are divided into four groups:—the Baltic Finns, the Finns in the Governments of the Volga, the Cis-Oural and the Trans-Oural Finns.
(a) The Baltic Finns: the Chouds (in the Governments of Novgorod and Olonetz); the Livonians (in Courland); the Esthonians (in the Governments of Esthonia, Livonia, Vitebsk, Pskov, and St. Petersburg); the Lopari (in northern Finland and in the Government of Archangel); the Corelians (in the Government of Archangel, Novgorod, Olonetz, St. Petersburg, Tver, and Jaroslav); Evremeiseti (in the Governments of Novgorod and St. Petersburg), Savakoti, Vod, and Izhora.
(b) To the Finns of the Governments of the Volga, who have become almost lost in the Russians, belong the Cheremisians (in the Governments of Kazan, Viatka, Kostroma, Nijni-Novgorod, Orenburg and Perm).
(c) To the Cis-Uralian Finns, who occupy the country from the borders of Finland to the Oural, belong the Permiaks (in the Governments of Viatka and Perm); Ziranians (in the Governments of Archangel and Vologda); Votiaks (in the Governments of Viatka and Kazan); and Vogoulichi (in the Governments of Perm).
(d) Among the Trans-Oural Finns are also to be numbered the Ziranians and Vogoulichi (the first in the Government of Tobolsk, and the second in the Governments of Tobolsk and Tomsk); and the Ostiaks, who, according to the places of their habitation, are called Obski and Berezovski.
The Finns amount altogether to 2,100,000.
3. The Samoyeds, in number 70,000, live in the territory extending from the White Sea to the Yenesei; to these belong the Samoyeds properly so called, the Narimski and the Yenesei Ostiaks, the Olennie Choukchi, etc.
4. The Mongolo-Manzhourian race amounting to 400,000. Among this race may be remarked the Mongolians properly so called, on the Selenga; the Kalmucks, a nomad people in the Government of Astrakhan, as also in Tomsk, in the country of the Don Cossacks, and partly in the Government of Stavropol. The Kalmucks appeared first on the eastern confines of Russia in the year 1630. About a century later we find them become the regular subjects of the Tsar. They seem, however, to have found the Russian yoke irksome, and resolved to return to their original home on the coasts of Lake Balkach, and at the foot of the Altai Mountains. Nearly the whole nation, amounting to almost 300,000 persons, began their march in the winter of 1770-71. The passage of this vast horde lasted for weeks, but the rear were prevented from escaping by the Kirghiz and Cossacks, who intercepted them. They were compelled to remain in Russia, where their territory was more accurately defined than had been done previously. The Kalmucks are obliged to serve with the Cossack troops, but their duties are mostly confined to looking after the cattle and horses which accompany the army. Their religion is Buddhism, and a conspicuous object in the aouls, or temporary villages which they construct, is the pagoda. Their personal appearance is by no means prepossessing—small eyes and high cheekbones, with scanty hair of a very coarse texture. In every sense of the word they are still strictly nomads; their children and tents are carried by camels, and in a few hours their temporary village, or oulous, is established. To these also belong the Bouriats, by Lake Baikal; the Toungusians from the Yenesei to the Amur; the Lamorets, by the Sea of Okhotsk; and the Olentzi, in the Government of Irkutsk.
5. Races of eastern Siberia: the Koriaks, living in the north-eastern corner of Siberia; the Youkagirs, in the territory of Yakutsk; the Kamchadales, in Kamchatka. Their number amounts to 500,000.
6. The Turko-Tartar race amount in number to 3,000,000. To their branch belong the Chouvashes, in the governments of Orenburg, Simbursk, Saratov and Samaria; the Mordvinians, in the same governments as the Chouvashes, and in those of Tambov, Penza, and Nijni-Novgorod; the Tartars of the Crimea and Kazan; the Nagais, on the Kouban and Don; the Mestcheriaki, in the governments of Orenburg, Perm, Saratov, and Viatka; Koumki, in the Caucasus; Kirghizi, Yakouti, on the Lena; Troukhmentzi and Khivintzi; Karakalpaks (lit. Black Caps), Teleouti, in the government of Tomsk, Siberia.
[Footnote 1: Some writers consider the Chouvashes to belong to the Finnish race.]
7. The Caucasian races inhabiting Georgia, the valleys and defiles of the Caucasian Mountains have different appellations and different origins. Among them may be noticed the Armenians, Georgians, Circassians, Abkhasians, Lesghians, Osetintzi, Chechentzi, Kistentzi, Toushi, and others. Their number is about 2,000,000.
The languages of the Caucasus must be regarded as a group distinct both from the Aryan and Semitic families. They are agglutinative, and are divided into two branches.
(a) The Northern Division, extending along the northern slopes of the Caucasus, between the Caspian and the northern shores of the Black Sea, as far as the Straits of Yenikale; its subdivisions are Lesghian, Kistian, and Circassian, each with its dialects. Formerly the Circassians numbered about 500,000, but large numbers of them emigrated to European Turkey, where they were dexterously planted by the government to impede the social progress of their Bulgarian and Greek subjects.
(b) The Southern Division, comprising Georgian, Suanian, Mingrelian, and Lazian.
8. The German race, in number about 1,000,000. The Germans are chiefly in the Baltic provinces, in the government of St. Petersburg, in the Grand Duchy of Finland, and the colonies, especially those on the lower Volga, the Don, the Crimea, and New Russia. The Germans have acquired great influence throughout the country; they are represented in the court, in the army, and in the administration. Here also may be mentioned the Swedes, amounting to 286,000.
9. The Jews inhabit especially the former Kingdom of Poland, the Western Governments, and the Crimea. Their number amounts to 3,000,000. Among the Jews the Karaimite are noticeable, living in the governments of Vilno, Volinia, Kovno, Kherson, and the Taurida. Among the Europeans and Asiatics who have come in later times to settle in Russia, are Greeks, amounting to 75,000, in the governments of New Russia and Chernigov; French, Italians, and Englishmen, in the capitals and chief commercial towns; Wallachians or Moldavians (now generally included under the name of Roumanians), in Bessarabia; Albanians; Gipsies, especially in the territory of Bessarabia, amounting to 50,000; Persians, to 10,000, etc.
THE HISTORY OF RUSSIA
W. R. MORFILL
I shall follow the divisions given in his first volume by Oustrialov. He divides Russian history into two great parts, the ancient and modern.
I. Ancient history from the commencement of Russia to the time of Peter the Great (862-1689).
This first period is subdivided into (a) the foundation of Russia and the combination of the Sclavonians into a political unity under the leadership of the Normans and by means of the Christian Faith under Vladimir and the legislation of Yaroslav.
According to the theory commonly received at the present day, the foundation of the Russian Empire was laid by Rurik at Novgorod. The name Russian seems to be best explained as meaning "the seamen" from the Finnish name for the Swedes or Norsemen, Ruotsi, which itself is a corruption of a Scandinavian word. It has been shown by Thomsen, that all the names mentioned in early Russian history admit of a Scandinavian explanation; thus Ingar becomes Igor, and Helga, Oleg. In a few generations the Scandinavian origin of the settlers was forgotten. The grandson of Rurik, Sviatoslav, has a purely Sclavonic name.
Christianity was introduced into the country by Vladimir, and the first code of Russian laws was promulgated by Yaroslav, called Rousskaia Pravda, of which a transcript was found among the chronicles of Novgorod.
(b) Breaking up of Russia, under the system of appanages, into some confederate principalities, governed by the descendants of Rurik. This unfortunate disruption of the country paved the way for the invasion of the Mongols, whose domination lasted for nearly two centuries.
During their occupation the Russians were ingrafted with many oriental habits, which were only partially removed by Peter the Great, and in fact many of them have lasted till the present day. The influence of the Mongolians upon the national language has been greatly exaggerated, as the words introduced are confined almost exclusively to articles of dress, money, etc. Had the conquests of the Mongols been permanent, Russia would have become definitely attached to Asia, to which its geographical position seems to assign it.
(c) Division of Russia into eastern and western under the Mongolian yoke 1228-1328. This is a very dreary period of the national history.
(d) Formation in Eastern Russia of the government of Moscow 1328-1462, which by the energy of its princes became the nucleus of the future empire; and in Western Russia of the principality of Lithuania, and its union with Poland 1320-1569.
(e) Consolidation of the Muscovite power under Ivan III., who married the daughter of the Greek Emperor, and succeeded in expelling the Tartars, and making himself master of their city Kazan. He was followed by his son Vasilii, who was succeeded by Ivan IV., who has gained a very unenviable reputation on account of his cruelties. Already the yoke of the Tartars had begun to have a very deteriorating effect upon the Russian character, and the more sanguinary code of the Asiatics had effaced the tradition of the laws of Yaroslav. Mutilation, flagellation, and the abundant use of the knout prevailed. The servile custom of chelobitye, or knocking the head on the ground, which was exacted from all subjects on entering the royal presence, was certainly of Tartar origin, as also the punishment inflicted upon refractory debtors, called the pravezh. They were beaten on the shins in a public square every day from eight to eleven o'clock, till the money was paid. The custom is fully described by Giles Fletcher and Olearius.
Another strange habit, savouring too much of the Tartar servitude, was that recorded by Peter Heylin in his Little Description of the Great World (Oxford, 1629), who says: "It is the custom over all Muscovie, that a maid in time of wooing sends to that suitor whom she chooseth for her husband such a whip curiously by herself wrought, in token of her subjection unto him." A Russian writer also tells us that it was usual for the husband on the wedding day to give his bride a gentle stroke over the shoulders with his whip, to show his power over her. Herberstein's story of the German Jordan and his Russian wife will perhaps occur to some of my readers. She complained to her husband that he did not love her; but upon his expressing surprise at the doubt, she gave as her reason that he had never beaten her! Indeed the position of a woman in Russia till the time of Peter was a very melancholy one. Her place in society is accurately marked out in the Domostroi, or regulations for governing one's household, written at the time of Ivan the Terrible. As this book presents us with some very curious pictures of Russian family life in the olden time, a few words may be permitted describing its contents. It was written by the monk Sylvester, who was one of the chief counsellors of Ivan, and at one time in great favour with him, but afterwards fell into disgrace and was banished by the capricious tyrant to the Solovetzki monastery, where he died. The work was primarily addressed by the worthy priest to his son Anthemus and his daughter-in-law, Pelagia, but as the bulk of it was of a general character it soon became used in all households. Nothing escapes this father of the church from the duties of religion, down to the minor details of the kitchen and the mysteries of cookery. The wife is constantly recommended to practise humility, in a way which would probably be repulsive to many of our modern ladies. Her industry in weaving and making clothes among her domestics is very carefully dwelt upon. She lived in a kind of Oriental seclusion, and saw no one except her nearest relatives. The bridegroom knew nothing of his bride, she was only allowed to be seen a few times before marriage by his female relatives, and on these occasions all kinds of tricks were played. A stool was placed under her feet that she might seem taller, or a handsome female attendant, or a better-looking sister were substituted. "Nowhere," says Kotoshikhin, "is there such trickery practised with reference to the brides as at Moscow." The innovations of Peter the Great broke through the oriental seclusion of the terem, as the women's apartments were called. During the minority of Ivan IV. the regency was committed to the care of his mother Elena, and was at best but a stormy period. When I van came to the throne the country was not even yet free from the incursions of the Tartars. In Hakluyt's voyages we have a curious account of one of these devastations in a "letter of Richard Vscombe to M. Henrie Lane, touching the burning of the city of Mosco by the Crimme Tartar, written the fifth day of August, 1571." "The Mosco is burnt every sticke by the Crimme, the 24th day of May last, and an innumerable number of people; and in the English house was smothered Thomas Southam, Tosild, Waverley, Green's wife and children, two children of Rafe, and more to the number of twenty-five persons were stifled in oure beere seller, and yet in the same seller was Rafe, his wife, John Browne, and John Clarke preserved, which was wonderful. And there went to that seller Master Glover and Master Rowley also; but because the heat was so great they came foorth againe with much perill, so that a boy at their heeles was taken with the fire, yet they escaped blindfold into another seller, and there as God's will was they were preserved. The emperor fled out of the field, and many of his people were carried away by the Crimme Tartar. And so with exceeding much spoile and infinite prisoners, they returned home againe. What with the Crimme on the one side and his cruelties on the other, he hath but few people left" (Hakluyt, I. 402).
It is well known that the English first became acquainted with Russia in the time of Ivan the Terrible. In the reign of Edward VI. a voyage was undertaken by Sir Hugh Willoughby and Richard Chancellor, who attempted to reach Russia by way of the North Sea. Willoughby and his crew were unfortunately lost, but Chancellor succeeded in reaching Moscow, and showing his letters to the Tsar, in reply to which an alliance was concluded and an ambassador soon afterwards visited the English court. In spite of his brutal tyrannies, for which no apologies can be offered, although some of the Russian authorities have attempted to gloss them over, the reign of Ivan was distinctly progressive for Russia. The introduction of the printing-press, the conquest of Siberia, the development of commerce, were all in advance of what had been done by his predecessors. He also had the leading idea afterwards fully carried out by Peter the Great of extending the dominions on the north, and ensuring a footing on the Baltic.
The relations of Ivan with England are fully described in the very interesting diary of Sir Jerome Horsey, the ambassador from this country, the manuscript of which is preserved in the British Museum. He was anxious to have an English wife, and Elizabeth selected one for him, Lady Mary Hastings, but when the bride-elect had been made acquainted with the circumstance that Ivan had been married several times before, and was a most truculent and blood-thirsty sovereign, she entreated her father with many tears not to send her to such a man.
The character given of Ivan by Horsey is very graphic, and is valuable as the narration of a person who had frequently been in intimate relations with the Tsar. We give it in the original spelling:—
"Thus much to conclude with this Emperor Ivan Vasiliwich. He was a goodlie man of person and presence, well favoured, high forehead, shrill voice, a right Sithian, full of readie wisdom, cruell, blondye, merciless; his own experience mannaged by direction both his state and commonwealth affairs; was sumptuously intomed in Michell Archangell Church, where he, though guarded daye and night, remaines a fearfull spectacle to the memorie of such as pass by or heer his name spoken of [who] are contented to cross and bless themselves from his resurrection againe."
Passing over his feeble son, we come to the era of Boris Godunov, a man in many respects remarkable, but not the least that he saw the necessity of western culture. His plans for educating Russia were extensive, and several youths were sent abroad for this purpose, including some to England. But his reign ended gloomily, and was followed by the period of the Pretenders (Samozvantzi), during which Russia was rent by opposing factions; and almost ended in receiving a foreign sovereign, in the person of Ladislaus (Wladyslaw), the son of Sigismund III., the King of Poland. The Romanovs finally ascended the throne in the person of Michael in 1613. The son of Michael, Alexis, was a thoroughly reforming sovereign, and took many foreigners into his pay. With the reign of Ivan V., son of Alexis, closes the old period of Russian history.
II. The new history from the days of Peter the Great to the present time.
The reforms introduced into Russia by Peter the Great are too well known to need recapitulation here. There will be always many different opinions about this wonderful man. Some have not hesitated to say that he "knouted" Russia into civilization; others can see traces of the hero mixed with much clay. One of the darkest pages in the annals of his reign, is that upon which is written the fate of his unfortunate son, Alexis. All Russia seems but one vast monument of his genius. He gave her six new provinces, a footing upon two seas, a regular army trained on the European system, a large fleet, an admiralty, and a naval academy; besides these, some educational establishments, a gallery of painting and sculpture, and a public library. Nothing escaped his notice, even to such minutiae as the alteration of Russian letters to make them more adapted to printing, and changing the dress of his subjects so as to be more in conformity with European costume. All this interference savoured of despotism, no doubt, but it led to the consolidation of a great nationality. The Russians belong to the European family, and must of necessity return to fulfil their destiny, although they had been temporarily diverted from their bondage under the Mongols. Owing to the mistake Peter had committed in allowing the succession to be changed at the will of the ruling sovereign, the country was for some time after his death in the hands of Russian and German adventurers.
On the death of Peter he was succeeded by his wife Catherine, an amiable but illiterate woman, who was wholly under the influence of Menshikov, one of Peter's chief favourites. After a short reign of two years, she was succeeded by Peter II., son of the unfortunate Alexis, in whose time Menshikov and his family were banished to Berezov in Siberia. After his banishment, Peter, who was a weak prince, and showed every inclination to undo his grandfather's work, fell under the influence of the Dolgoroukis.
There is something very touching in the fate of this poor child—he was but fifteen years of age when he died—tossed about amidst the opposing factions of the intriguing courtiers, each of whom cared nothing for the good of the country, but only how to find the readiest means to supplant his rival. The last words of the boy as he lay on his death-bed were, "Get ready the sledge! I want to go to my sister!" alluding to the Princess Natalia, the other child of Alexis who had died three years previously.
On his death Anne, Duchess of Courland, and daughter of Ivan, the elder brother of Peter, was called to the throne. After her death, by a second revolution de palais, Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great, was made sovereign. In this reign her alliance was concluded with Maria Theresa of Austria, and during the Seven Years' War, a large Russian force invaded Prussia; another took Berlin in 1760.
During the whole of her reign Elizabeth was under the influence of favourites, or vremenstchiki, as the Russians call them. She appears to have been an indolent, good-tempered woman, and exceedingly superstitious. During her reign Russia made considerable progress in literature and culture. A national theatre, of which there had been a few germs even at so early a period as the youth of Peter the Great, was thoroughly developed, and at Yaroslavl, Volkov, the son of a merchant, earned such a reputation as an actor, that he was summoned to St. Petersburg by Elizabeth, who took him under her patronage. Dramatists now sprang up on every side, but at first were merely translators of Corneille, Racine, and Moliere. The Russian arms were successful during her reign, and the capture of Berlin in 1760, had a great effect upon European politics. Two years afterwards Elizabeth died, and her nephew Peter III. succeeded, who admired Frederick the Great, and at once made peace with him.
This unfortunate man, however, only reigned six months, having been dethroned and put to death by order of his wife, who became Empress of Russia under the title of Catherine II. However unjustifiable the means may have been by which Catherine became possessed of the throne, and in mere justice to her we must remember that she had been brutally treated by her husband, and was in hourly expectation of being immured for life in a dungeon by his orders, she exercised her power to the advantage of the country.
In 1770, a Russian fleet appeared for the first time in the Mediterranean, and the Turkish navy was destroyed at Chesme. By the treaty of Kutchuk Kainardji (1774), Turkey was obliged to recognize the independence of the Crimea, and cede to Russia a considerable amount of territory. In 1783, Russia gained the Crimea, and in 1793, by the last partition of Poland, a very large portion of that country.
The subsequent events of the history are well known. Paul, who succeeded Catherine, was assassinated in 1801. The reign of this emperor has been made very familiar to Englishmen by the highly coloured portrait given by the traveller Clarke, who laboured under the most aggravated Russophobia. That Paul did many cruel and capricious things does not admit of a doubt, but he was capable of generous feelings, and sometimes surprised people as much by his liberality as by his despotic conduct. Thus he set Kosciuscko at liberty as soon as he had ascended the throne; and there was a fine revenge in his compelling Orlov to follow the coffins of Peter and Catherine, when by his order they were buried together in the Petropavlovski church.
Alexander I., his son, added Finland to the Russian empire, and saw his country invaded by Napoleon in 1812. The horrors of this campaign have been well described by Segur, Wilson, and Labaume. At his death in 1825, his brother Nicholas succeeded, not without opposition, which led to bloodshed and the execution of the five Dekabrists (conspirators of December). The schemes of these men were impracticable; so little did the common people understand the very rudiments of liberalism, that when the soldiers were ordered to shout for Konstitoutzia (the constitution, a word the foreign appearance of which shows how alien it was to the national spirit), one of them naively asked, if that was the name of the wife of the Grand Duke Constantine.
The policy of the Emperor Nicholas was one of complete isolation of the country, and the prevention of his subjects as much as possible from holding intercourse with the rest of Europe, hence permission to travel was but sparingly given, nor were foreigners encouraged to visit Russia. In 1826, war broke out with Persia, the result of which was that the latter power was compelled to cede Erivan and the country as far as the Araxes (or Aras). Russia also made further additions to her territory by the treaty of Adrianople in 1829, after Diebich had crossed the Balkans. In 1830, the great Polish rebellion broke out, which was crushed after much bloodshed in Sept. 1831, by the capture of Warsaw. In 1849, the Russians assisted Austria in crushing the revolt of her Hungarian subjects. In 1853 broke out the Crimean War, the details of which are so well known as to require no enumeration. Peace was concluded between Russia and the Allies, after the death of the Emperor Nicholas in 1855, who was succeeded by his son, Alexander II. The two great events of the reign of this monarch have been the emancipation of the serfs in 1861, by which 22,000,000 received their liberty, and the war with Turkey.
The history of the introduction and early progress of Christianity in Russia is involved in obscurity and overlaid with legendary stories. There is little doubt that it came from Constantinople, and was not only rapidly spread, but firmly established in the country within a short space of time. The date most generally accepted is that of the reign of Vladimir, the great prince of Kief, grandson of Olga. As Dean Stanley remarks in his Lectures on the Eastern Church: "It coincides with a great epoch in Europe, the close of the Tenth Century, when throughout the West the end of the world was fearfully expected, when the Latin Church was overclouded with the deepest despondency, when the Papal See had become the prey of ruffians and profligates, then it was that the Eastern Church, silently and almost unconsciously, bore into the world her mightiest offspring."
The Eastern Church was then at the zenith of its splendour. The envoys sent by Vladimir to Constantinople to examine and report upon the religion which he had almost decided to adopt were dazzled with the magnificence of the ceremonial. They were wavering in their choice and weighing the merits of the different systems which had been brought before them. Rome they had not seen; Mohammedanism was foreign to their tastes; Judaism had been found wanting; but the Eastern Church appealed strongly to their imaginations and barbaric love of splendour. Hers was St. Sophia, magnificent now, but how much more gorgeous then! Every effort was made to win them, and the victory was easy.
The intercourse of the newly formed empire of Russia with Byzantium was at that time great. The change of religion had been very sudden and it was necessary to build at once new edifices for the new order of things. It was naturally to Byzantium that they turned for their form and ornament. Very quickly churches arose. Novgorod, the cradle of the Empire and the capital until the removal to Kief, was the Metropolitan See, and the first cathedral is said to have been built there as early as A. D. 989.
The form of a Russian Church underwent little change up to the Seventeenth Century. In the Thirteenth Century the architects imported from Lombardy brought to bear on the exterior the style of the Lombardic or Romanesque architecture which had so long prevailed in their own country. The gilded dome or cupola, of peculiar onion-shaped form which is so especially Russian, was added soon afterwards. The central cupola, which was adopted from the first, was afterwards surrounded by others; their number reached even to twenty or thirty, and it was not until the Sixteenth Century at the time of the establishment of the patriarchate (1589), that these were authoritatively restricted to five, which is now the orthodox and obligatory number.
The practice of having two, three, five, seven, nine and thirteen cupolas or spires is as early as the Eleventh Century. The numbers were figurative; two signifying the two natures of Jesus Christ, three, a symbol of the Trinity, five, our Lord and the four evangelists or the five wounds, seven, the seven sacraments, the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, or the seven recumenical councils, nine, the nine celestial hierarchies, and thirteen, our Lord and the twelve apostles.
Within the dimensions are small and the light obscure. Still, the simple, nearly square disposition of the building, the enormous plain-shafted pillars which support the domes, the mass of gilding, the multitude of lamps, produce an undoubtedly grand effect. It is strikingly oriental; and as in Russian churches there are no seats, but the people stand in a mingled throng, now and then prostrating themselves and beating their foreheads on the ground, each as his own devotion may dictate, the resemblance is still more marked. All the interior is covered with fresco pictures; even the pillars have gigantic figures of the saints and doctors of the church painted upon them. From the high roof hang immense brass chandeliers of a peculiar form with many branches, capable of holding hundreds of candles. In the dim distance, seemingly a wall of gold, is the iconostas, the solid screen which in every church divides the sanctuary from the rest of the sacred edifice.
The iconostas is in all cases decorated with a large number of holy pictures or icons, arranged in formal rows one above the other. It is a solid erection from side to side, from floor to roof, and in the centre are the royal doors, through which none may pass but the consecrating priest, or the emperor: and the last once only, at the time of his coronation. At no time is any woman permitted to enter the sanctuary.
The iconostas contains sometimes as many as seven rows of images: that of the Uspenski Sobor has five. Their arrangement is guided by certain rules and restrictions. Our Lord and the blessed Virgin must be represented on each side of the royal doors, and on the doors themselves the Annunciation and the four evangelists. On the side doors angels must be represented. Above must be the usual symbol of the Trinity figured by Abraham entertaining the three angels.
[Footnote 1: Cathedral of the Assumption, Moscow.]
The whole of the space behind the screen is known as the altar. The altar itself is square, or rather a double cube. Above it four small columns with a canopy form a baldachino; and the cross is laid flat upon it. Here also is placed the tabernacle or zion which is often an architectural structure in pure gold with figures. There are five zions of this kind in the cathedrals of St. Sophia at Novgorod and at the Troitsa monastery.
In the apse behind the altar and facing it is the thronos, the seat of the archbishop, with seats for priests on either side.
Besides the icons and holy pictures on the screen (and in the Cathedral of the Assumption the latter contains the most highly venerated in Russia) other smaller icons are set apart in various parts of the church. As is now the custom, though it is comparatively a recent one, the greater part of the picture, with the exception of the faces, hands and feet, is covered with an embossed and chased plaque in gold or silver-gilt representing the form and garments. Glories or nimbuses in high relief set thick with gems surround the faces, and sparkle as they reflect the light from the multitude of candles burnt in their honour. Some are covered to overloading with jewels, necklets, and bracelets; pearls, diamonds, and rubies of large size and value adorning them in profusion.
The ceremonial of the Greek church is excessively complex, and the symbolical meanings by which it represents the dogmas of religion are everywhere made the subjects of minute observance. During the greater part of the mass the royal doors are closed: the deacons remain for the most part without, now and again entering for a short time. From time to time a pope or popes pass throughout the church, amongst the crowds, incensing all the holy pictures in turn; the voice of the officiating priest is raised within, and is answered in deep tones by the deacons without. Now from one corner comes a chant of many voices, now for another a single one in tones (it may be), the epistle or gospel of the day. Now the doors fly open and a fleeting glimpse is gained of the celebrant through the thick rolling clouds of incense. Then they are closed again suddenly. To a stranger unable to follow and in ignorance of the meaning, the effect is bewildering.
In writing, even generally, of the arts in Russia some reference to religious music is excusable. That of Russia has a peculiar charm of its own, far above the barbarous discords that are to be heard in Greek and other churches of the East at the present day. There is a sweetness and attractiveness in the unaccompanied chanting of the choir, in the deep bass tones of the men mingling with the plaintive trebles of younger voices, which is indescribable in its harmony. It is unlike any other; yet underneath lies the original tinge of orientalism, the wailing semitones of all barbaric music. No accompaniment, no instrumental music of any kind is permitted. Bass voices of extraordinary depth and power are the most desired. It is said that the tones now used in the Russian church are comparatively modern.
The principal churches and monasteries in Russia possess rich stores of vestments; some of comparatively high antiquity which are preserved with scrupulous care and still used on occasions of great ceremony. In more modern vestments the ancient ornament is to a great extent strictly copied.
The saccos, formerly the principal vestment of the patriarchs and an emblem of sovereign power, is now common to all Russian bishops. It is in the shape of a dalmatic, formed of two square pieces of stuff joined together at the neck and open at the sides, having wide short sleeves. Many of the finest of these vestments are elaborately embroidered in gold and silver and ornamented with figures of saints; and in the stuffs themselves sacred subjects are often woven. They are also thickly sown with rows of seed-pearls which follow the lines and edgings of the vestment and border the sacred images. They are besides set with enamelled, nielloed, or jewelled plaques of gold or silver. Texts in Greek or Sclavonic often border the whole of the edges of the garment. These are elaborately worked in gold or silver, or the letters formed completely of seed-pearls. The saccos of the Metropolitan Peter (made in 1322), of Alexis (1364), of Photius (1414), and of Dionysius (made in 1583), are remarkable vestments of this character, to be found in the patriarchal sacristy at Moscow. The stoles, which usually correspond, are long, narrow, and nearly straight-sided to the bottom. A peculiar episcopal ornament is the epigonation. It is a large lozenge-shaped ornament embroidered and worked in a similar manner to the other vestments, and by bishops is worn hanging from the right side.
The usual form of mitre of a pope of the Russian church is well-known. The earlier kind was a sort of low cap with a border of fur, something like the cap of a royal crown, and probably not different in type from the head-dresses of bishops of the west. Some are sewn thick with pearls bordering and heightening the lines of the figures of saints, and forming the outlines of the Sclavonic inscriptions. Such is that of Joassof, first patriarch of the Russian church (1558). Those of later times are often of metal richly set with precious stones. Sometimes they assume a more conical form, surmounted by a cross, like an imperial crown, as that which is termed the Constantinople mitre, said to have been made in the time of Ivan the Terrible. The mitre of the celebrated Nikon (1655), who aspired to papal prerogatives, is diadem-shaped and remarkable for the richness of the precious stones with which it is set. The most usual shape recalls to some extent the favourite cupola, spreading out from the base to the top.
The form of the chalice used in the Russian church varies considerably, as it does also in that of the Latin church. In general characteristics the two have much in common. In early times the chalice was made of wood or crystal as well as of gold and silver. An ancient chalice of crystal is preserved in the Cathedral of the Assumption at Moscow, and the wooden ones of SS. Sergius and Nikon are in the sacristy at Troitsa. On some old icons our Lord is represented as giving the holy communion to the apostles out of narrow-necked vessels which appear to be made of alabaster.
The Greek rite for the celebration of the holy eucharist requires three things which are not used in the western church. These are the knife or spear, the star or asterisk, and the spoon for the administration of the chalice as the sacrament is received by the laity under both kinds. It may naturally be supposed that such sacred objects would be the subjects of high artistic workmanship. The paten itself is often elaborately enamelled and otherwise decorated, whereas in the western church the rubrics require it to be plain.
The ceremonial of the preparation of the bread (which is leavened and in the form of a small loaf) is exceedingly complex. Portions are cut out for consecration, and for this purpose a knife called a "spear" is used. These portions placed on the paten are covered with a veil, and in order to prevent the latter from touching the elements a piece of metal is placed over them: two strips crossed, and bent so as to have four feet. The tabernacle, or perhaps more properly ciborium, is sometimes in the form of a hill or mount of gold or silver-gilt, or of a temple, and there are many remarkable examples. One at Troitsa is of solid gold with the exception of Judas, which is of brass. Another is in the sacristy of the church of the Assumption at Moscow. From its inscription we learn that it was made for the grand duke Ivan Vassilievitch in 1486, and it is a characteristic specimen of Russian art of the period.
A peculiar ornament or sacred vessel of the Russo-Greek church is known under the name of panagia, and of this there are two kinds. One is a jewel or pectoral worn suspended from the neck by bishops, and is an object on which much care and rich decoration are lavished. In a somewhat altered form it is worn by priests in the same way for carrying the holy sacrament on a journey or to the sick.
Pectoral crosses for the dignitaries of the church are of course not uncommon; not only priests, however, but every Russian man, woman or child carries a small cross, more or less ornamental. They are various in form and richness of decoration; from the simple bronze cross, rudely stamped, of the peasant, to the enamelled and jewelled one of the metropolitan or noble. Nearly always the plain three-armed cross is set in the centre of another more elaborate or conventional. Almost invariably also the sacred monograms and invocations in Sclavonic characters are engraved in the field. In some cases it is more a medallion than a cross, the form of the cross being indicated by cutting four segments in the manner of the ancient stone crosses to be seen in many parts of England. Besides the inscriptions, emblems such as the spear and nails and crown of thorns are often to be distinguished though conventionally indicated.
Crosses on church tops are made of silver, wood, lead, and even gold. The open-worked designs of many of them, although intended to be placed at great height, are extremely elegant. They were occasionally ornamented with coins, and those on churches erected by the Tsar are surmounted by an imperial crown.
A crescent as a symbol beneath the cross is very frequent. Various explanations of this symbol have been given. According to some it is in remembrance of the victory of the cross over the crescent on the deliverance from the Mongol yoke. Others think it to have originated simply in the freak of some goldsmith, afterwards copied by others until it came to be accepted as a necessity. It is certain that the use of the crescent is anterior to the Mongol invasion, and was an old symbol in Byzantium, as appears from coins.
The pastoral staff of Russian bishops is tau-shaped; and there are many good old examples, a few in ivory, but for the most part in silver-gilt. Processional crosses are also used.
The censer is a piece of church furniture in constant use in the Russo-Greek church, and we find several examples very characteristic of Russian art. As in the west, the application of architectural forms is very frequent, and it is not surprising that the peculiarities of Russian ecclesiastical ornament should be prominent and especially the dome which naturally suggests itself.
Amongst the objects kept in the sacristy of the patriarchs in the Cathedral of the Assumption, in Moscow, is one which is held in special veneration. This is the vase in which is preserved the deposit of holy chrism used in the annual preparation of holy oils for distribution to the various churches of the empire.
The preparation of this oil is an occasion of great ceremony in Holy Week. From the fourth week in Lent the preliminary mixings of oil, wine, herbs, and a variety of different ingredients begin. In the Holy Week these ingredient are prepared in a public ceremony: two large boilers, several bowls and sixteen vases together with other vessels being used. All of these are of great size of massive silver, and, presented by Catherine II. in 1767, are specimens of silver work of that time.
THE CREEDS OF RUSSIA
ERNEST W. LOWRY
A report was brought to Basil, the Metropolitan of Moscow, in the year 1340, by merchants of Novgorod, who asserted that they had beheld a glimpse of Paradise from the shores of the White Sea. Whether their vision were merely the dazzling reflection of some sunlit iceberg, or only the glow of poetic imagination, it so fired the ardour of the mediaeval prelate that he longed to set sail for this golden gleam. Be the old legend true or false, it is certain that to this day the northern Mujik shows an even more marked religious enthusiasm than his brother of the central governments. Fanaticism, mysticism, and fatalism go ever hand in hand in Northern Russia. The Empire of the Tsars being so vast in area and so embracive of races affords space for all forms of belief, or want of belief, within her boundaries. All creeds are represented, from the pagan Samoyede of the tundras to the Mohammedan Tartar of the Steppes. Our concern is with but one of these—the Old Believers. But to understand their doctrine, we must glance at the clergy of the State Church from which they dissent.
The clergy of the Orthodox Russian Church are divided into Black or monks of St. Basil, and the White or parish priests. The latter must be married before they are ordained, and may not marry again (which has led to the saying, "A priest takes good care of his wife, for he cannot get another"), while the monasteries, of course, require celibacy. From the latter the bishops are elected, so that they—in contradistinction to the priests—must be single. This system is much condemned by the lower clergy, who ask pertinently, "How can the bishop know the hardships of our lives? for he is single and well paid, we poor and married." The rule, observed elsewhere, holds good in Russia, the poorer the priest, the larger the family. Few village priests receive any regular stipend, but are allowed a plot of land in the commune wherein they minister. This allowance is generally from thirty to forty dessiatines (eighty to one hundred and eight acres), and can only be converted into money, or food products, by the labour of the parson and his family upon it—very literally must they put their hand to the plough. Priests are paid for special services, such as christenings or weddings, at no fixed tariff, but at a sliding rate, according to the means of the payer, the price being arrived at by means of prolonged bargaining between the shepherd and his flock. Would-be couples often wait for months until a sum can be fixed upon with his reverence for tying the knot; and sometimes, by means of daily haggling, the amount first asked can be reduced by one-half, for the cost of the ceremony varies—according to the social status of the happy pair—from ten to one hundred roubles. Funerals, too, are at times postponed for most unhealthy periods during this process. Generally, however, the White Clergy are so miserably poor that they cannot be blamed for making the best market they can for their priestly offices. Whether the system or the salary be at fault it is hard to say, but from whatever cause the fact remains that the parish clergy of the villages are not always all they might be; there are many among them who lead upright lives and gain the respect of their parishioners, but it would be idle to deny that there are many whose thoughts turn more to vodka than piety, the kabak than the Church. Such shepherds have little in common with the best elements of their flocks, and much with the worst, in whose company they are generally seen.
[Footnote 1: The White Clergy wear any colour but that from which they take their name—a deer-skin cap and long felt boots.]
The poor "Pope" spends much of his time going from izba to izba, giving his blessing and receiving in return drink and a few copecks; from this come, all too easily, the proverbs of his parishioners, "Am I a priest, that I should sup twice?" etc. Count Tolstoi makes his hero remark in the trial scene of the Resurrection, when his fellow jurymen are more friendly than he would wish, "The son of a priest will speak to me next." But most of them have a side to their natures which, though not always to be seen, is, nevertheless, latent—the hour of need often lifts them to the lofty plane of their sublime functions; the labouring—often hungry—peasant of the weekdays becomes on Sunday exalted above the petty surroundings of Mujik life, and becomes indeed the "little father" of his people.