صور الصفحة

Posts and telegraphs.

"late III.

Corn, firewood, and timber constitute two-thirds of the whole cargoes carried. Within Russia, proper, from 5740 to 7400 boats, larger and smaller, worth from four to soon millions of roubles, have been built annually during the last five years (7415 boats, valued at 6,758,000 roubles, in 1882,-18 of them being steamers); most of them are light flat-bottomed structures, which are broken up as soon as they have reached their destination. The number of steamers plying on inland waters, chiefly on the Wolga, was estimated in is?9 at 1056 (80,890 horse-power). . Twenty-five years ago Russia had only 993 miles of railways; on January 1, 1853, the totals were 13,428 miles for Josia and Caucasia, 888 for Poland, 734 for Finland, and 141 for the Transcaspian region, and two years later,they had roached an *ggo: gate length of 16,155 miles. The railway; chiefly connect the Baltic ports with the granaries of Russio in the south-east, and the westers frontier with Moscow, whence six trunk lines radiate in all directions. Several military lines run along the western frontier, while two trunklines, starting from St Petersburg, follow the two shores of the Gulf of Finland. Of the projected Siberian railway one main line (444 miles), connecting. Perm and Berezniki on the roma with Ekaterinburg and the chief iron-works of the Urals, has teen constructed. It has been extended east to Kamyshkoff, and is to be continued to Tiumen, 100 miles farther east, whence steamers o Tomsk. Foo, 7.33 miles of the railways of Russia, belong to the state, lout most of them have been constructed under Government guarantees, involving payment of from 11 to 21 million roubles yearly. on the other hand the yearly increasing debt of the railways to the state amounted to 781,888,800 roubles in 1883. Qí the aggregate value of the Russian railways, estimated at 2210 million roublos, no less than 1971 million roubles were held by Government in shares and bonds. The cost of construction has been altogether out of proportion to what it ought to be; for, whereas the average rate er verst (0.663 mile) in Finland was only 20,000 silver roubles, in ussia it reached 60,000, 75,000, 90,000, and even, 100,000 roubles. In 1882 21,322 versts (14,136 miles) represented an expenditure of 2,210,047,632 roubles, and their net revenue wo only 318 per cent on the capital invested (4982 roubles po English mile in 1882). In 1884 34,674,853 passengers, 2,267,936 military, and 834,500,000 cwts, of merchandise were conveyed by 5308, locomotives and 120,940 carriages and waggons. Fully one-half of the morehandise carried consisted of corn (24 percent.), coal (13 per cent.), firewood (12 per cent.), and timber (8 per cent.)." For the conveyance of correspondence and travellers along ordinary routes the state maintains an extensive organization of posthorses between all towns of the empire, that is, over an aggregato length of 110,170 miles. In 1882 4355 stations, with a staff of 15,560 men and 446,460 horses, were kept up for that purpose. In 1883. 242,193,470 letters, newspapers (93,520,000), registered letters, and parcels were carried, of which 29,808,100 belonged to international correspondence. The telegraph system had in the same year an aggregate length of 65,394 miles, with 2,957 telegraphoffices, and 10,222,139 telegrams were transmitted.” (P. A. K.)

[blocks in formation]

vikings with whom we first become acquainted in northern Russia, and who in a way founded the empire, although from Arabian and Jewish writers we have dim records of a Slavonic race inhabiting the basin of the Dnieper about the close of the 9th century. In recent times Ilovaiski and Gedeonoff have again attacked the view of the Swedish origin of the invaders. They see in them only Slavs, but they are not considered to have shaken the theory which derives the name from Ruotsi.

from the north and settled at Novgorod in 862. calls them Varangians, a name in which most people are willing to see Norsemen. For a long time the Russians and Scandinavians are considered, as we shall find, to be separate races, but at length they are fused, as the Saxons and Normans in England under Henry I. Concerning the origin of the town of Novgorod, which bears a purely Slavonic name, nothing is known; it has been supposed that at first a Finnish settlement existed on its site. According to the legend the three brothers were invited over by a leading citizen named Gostomisl. There is, however, no mention of such a person in the Chronicle of Nestor. There is another story that Rurik was the son of the Swedish king, Ludbrat, a person met with in Scandinavian legend, and his queen Umila, the daughter of Gostomisl, and was born at Upsala in 830. Whatever the variants of the legend may be, we seem to learn one thing,-that a successful Scandinavian invasion occurred in the north of Russia. The three brothers finally settled in the country, Rurik at Ladoga, where the river Volkhoff flows into the lake, Sineus at Bielo-ozero, and Truvor at Izborsk on Lake Peipus. On the death of his two brothers without heirs, we are told that Rurik annexed their dominions to his own, and took the title of veliki kniaz, or grand-prince. These three brothers are said to have brought two other adventurers with them, Askold and Dir, who, having had a quarrel with Rurik, set out with some companions to Constantinople to try their fortune. On their way they saw Kieff, situated on a rich and grassy plain, in the occupation of the Khazars. Of this city they made themselves masters, and permanently established themselves on the Dnieper. The origin of Kieff itself is involved in mystery. It is first mentioned about the 9th century. Constantine Porphyrogenitus speaks of to kaarpov to Kuod/?a to irovopačápévov Xaps3arás. This last word has given much labour to scholars; some are disposed to see in it the Norse sandbakki, the bank of sand. It is at Kieff that, according to the legend, St Andrew preached the gospel to the Russians. From this place Askold and Dir sallied forth two years afterwards, with an armament of two hundred vessels, sailed up the Bosphorus, and plundered the capital of the Byzantine empire. The Greek writers give 851 as the date of this enterprise, thus making it precede the arrival of Rurik by eleven years. The emperor at the time of their invasion was Michael III.

Having greatly extended his dominions oy subduing the Igor and surrounding Slavonic tribes, ‘Rurik died at an advanced Oleg.

age in 879, leaving the regency of the principality and the guardianship of his son Igor to the renowned Oleg.” This chief subdued Smolensk, a city of the Krivitchi, in 882, Allured by its wealth, and advantageous situation, Oleg now resolved to attempt ‘Kieff, which was held by Askold and Dir. The story goes that he took young Igor with him, and disguised himself and his companions as Slavonic merchants. The unsuspecting Askold and Dir were invited to a conference and slain on the spot. Thus was Kieff added to the dominions of Igor, who was recognized as the

* Both these names are Scandinavians the original forms being Ingvar and Helgi.

As the story goes, three Rurik brothers, Rurik, Sineus, and Truvor, were invited to Russia and his Nestor brothers, lord of the town." In 903 Oleg chose a wife for Igor, named Olga,” said to have been a native of Pskoff, the origin of which place, now mentioned for the first time, is unknown. We are told that it was a city of importance before the arrival of Rurik. The derivation of the name is disputed, some deriving it from a Finnish, others from a Slavonic root. Oleg next resolved to make an attack upon Byzantium, and his preparations were great both by sea and land. Leo the Philosopher, then emperor, was ill able to resist these barbarians. He attempted to block the passage of

the Bosphorus, but Oleg dragged his ships across the land

and arrived before the gates of Constantinople. The Greeks begged for peace and offered tribute. Oleg is said to have hung his shield in derision on the gates of the city. We may believe this without going so far as to give credence to Stryikowski, the Polish writer, who says it was to be seen there in his time (16th century). The atrocities committed by Oleg and his followers are described by Karamzin, the Russian historian ; they are just such as the other Norsemen of their race were committing at the same time in northern and western Europe. The Byzantines paid a large sum of money that their city might be exempted from injury, and soon after Oleg sent ambassadors” to the emperor to arrange the terms. treaty was ratified by oaths: the Byzantines swore by the Gospels, and the Russians by their gods Perun and Volos. In 911 Oleg made another treaty with the Byzantines, the terms of which, as of the preceding one, are preserved in Nestor. The authenticity of these two treaties has been called in question by some writers, but Miklosich truly observes that it would have been impossible at the time Nestor wrote to forge the Scandinavian names. Soon after this Oleg died; he had exercised supreme power till the time of his death to the exclusion of Igor, and seems to have been regarded by the people as a wizard. He is said to have been killed by the bite of a serpent, which had coiled itself in the skull of his horse, as he was gazing at the animal's unburied bones. The story is in reality a Scandinavian saga, as has been shown by Bielowski and Rafn. It is also found in other countries. In the reign of Igor the Petchenegs first make their appearance in Russian history. In 941 he undertook an expedition against Constantinople and entered the Bosphorus after devastating the provinces of Pontus, Paphlagonia, and Bithynia. Nestor has not concealed the atrocities committed by the Russians on this occasion; he tells us of the churches and monasteries which they burned, and of their cruelty to the captives. They were, however, attacked by the Byzantine fleet, and overpowered by the aid of Greek fire; many were drowned, and many of those who swam to land were slaughtered by the infuriated peasants; only one of their number escaped. Thirsting to avenge his loss, Igor fitted out another expedition in the spring of the following year. The Greeks were unwilling to run a risk again; they renewed the treaty which had been signed with Oleg, and were only too glad to purchase deliverance from their adversaries. The Russian at first demanded too much, but was finally persuaded by his more prudent attendants: “If Caesar speaks thus,” said they, “what more do we want than to have gold and silver and silks without fighting? Who knows which will survive, we or they? Who has ever been able to conclude a treaty with the sea? We do not go on the dry land, but on the waves of the sea; death is common to all.” 1 This story is considered by the historian Bestuzheff Rium in to be a mere legend invented to explain the connexion between Novgorod and Kieff. * Here again we have a Norse name. which in its older form is Holga.

* It has been observed that the names of the ambassadors in this treaty are purely Scandinavian.

Olga is equivalent to Helga,


A treaty of peace was accordingly concluded, which is given at full length by Nestor; of the fifty names attached to it we find three were Slavonic and the rest Norse. The two races are beginning to be fused. From this expedi. tion Igor returned triumphant. He Was, however, unfor. tunate in a subsequent attack on the Drevlians, a Slavonic tribe whose territory is now partly occupied by the government of Tchernigoff. The Drevlians had long suffered from his exactions. They resolved to encounter him under the command of their prince Male; for they saw, as a chronicler says, that it was necessary to kill the wolf, or the whole flock would become his prey. They accordingly laid an ambuscade near their town Korosten, now called Iskorost, in the government of Volhynia, and slew him and all his company. According to Leo the Deacon, he was tied to two trees bent together, and when they were let go the unhappy chief was torn to pieces.

Igor was succeeded by his son Sviatoslaff, the first Regen.

Russian prince with a Slavonic name. Olga, however,” the spirited wife of Igor, was now regent, owing to her son's minority. Fearful was the punishment she inflicted upon the Drevlians for the death of her husband, and the story lacks no dramatic interest as it has been handed down by the old chronicler. Some of the Drevlians were buried alive in pits which she had caused to be dug for the purpose previously; some were burned alive; and others murdered at a trizna, or funeral feast, which she had appointed to be held in her husband's honour. The town Iskorost was afterwards set on fire by tying lighted matches to the tails of sparrows and pigeons, and letting them fly on the roofs of the houses. Here we certainly have a piece of a bilina, as the old Russian legendary poems are called. Geoffrey of Monmouth and Layamon give the same account of the capture of the city of Cirencester by Gurmund at the head of the Saxons, and something similar is also told about Harold Hardrada in Sicily. Finally, at the close of her life, Olga became a Christian. She herself visited the capital of the Greek empire, and was instructed in the mysteries of her new faith by the patriarch. There she was baptized by him in 955, and the emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus became her godfather. She did not, however, succeed in persuading her

son Sviatoslaff to embrace the same faith, although hesyia;-took no measures to impede its progress among his sub-slast

jects. This son was as celebrated a warrior as Oleg; his victories were chiefly over the Petchenegs previously mentioned, a people of Mongol origin inhabiting the basin of the Don. He began, however, the fatal custom of breaking up Russia into apanages, which he distributed among his sons. The effects of this injudicious policy, subsequently pursued by other grand princes, were soon felt. Thus was paved the way for the invasion of Russia by the Mongols, who held it for two hundred years, and communicated that semi-Asiatic character to the dress and customs of the country which the ukazes of Peter the Great could hardly eradicate, and which perhaps have not entirely disappeared even in our own times. In his division of the country, Sviatoslaff gave Kieff to his son Yaropolk; to another son, Oleg, the conquered land of the Drevlians; to another, Vladimir, he assigned Novgorod. It would be impossible to interest the reader in the petty wars of these princes. After having gained several victories over the Petchenegs, Sviatoslaff set out on an expedition against the Bulgarians, a Ugro-Finnish tribe, dwelling on the banks of the Volga, the remains of whose ancient capital can still be seen. He made himself master of their country, but his victorious career was cut short at the cataracts of the Dnieper, where he and his soldiers were slain by the Petchenegs. According to the barbarous custom of the times, their prince kurya made his skull

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic]
« السابقةمتابعة »