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couple of sledges, one of which was light enough to be drawn by dogs or reindeer. It was held advisable, also, to take out a fresh passport, signed by the governor of Tobolsk, in lieu of the one delivered at St. Petersburg, for, in places far removed from the great road across Siberia, people have confused and indistinct notions of the power which issues from the capital of the empire. The larger sledge was provided with otvodi or guides-two strong bars placed lengthways on either side the carriage to prevent an upset. Towards the end of winter, the snow-ways, which are constantly travelled upon, have an undulating surface, like that of a stormy sea, and give the sledge a motion so like that of a ship tossed on the waves, that travellers unused to it often grow seasick on the road, and the use of otvodi is a very necessary precaution." Russian travelling, delightfully rapid, has many drawbacks. Upon the logroads, (formed of tree-trunks), the violent and incessant jolting is said to have even worse effects than the excessive undulations of the sledge. After a few years it not only brings on a complete paralysis of the mental faculties of the Russian postilions, but also occasions spinal diseases, to such an extent as to have obtained for those roads the significant name of spine-crushers.
On the 22d November, when Mr. Erman began his slide northwards, traffic had not yet given the road that wavy configuration so uncomfortable to the bilious traveller. The post from Tobolsk to Beresov had made but one journey on the winter-track, and the sledges glided rapidly and smoothly on the almost virgin snowway. Beyond Tugalova, a village 140 miles from Tobolsk, they travelled on the frozen Irtuish, and frequently passed the self-acting machinery used for the winter fishing. This consists of a strong pole in an inclined position, with its lower extremity frozen fast in the ice. "At the upper end of this pole was a continuation made of switches, which, bending down, reach ed to the surface of the ice; at that point was a hole through which was let down the hook and line. The upper part of the apparatus is seen bent down more or less according as
the bait is still untouched, or as a fish pulling at it has freed a check put to the elasticity of the rod, and is thus, in consequence of its own efforts, drawn nearer to the surface of the water." The ingenuity of this contrivance would avail little, however, were not means found of rousing the sleepy sturgeon from their winter slumbers. They lie in muddy hollows in the bed of the river, quite motionless, and clustered together for the sake of warmth. To awaken them, hard balls of clay, heated in the fire, are thrown from time to time into the water, below the line. Driven from their resting-place, they swim up stream according to their custom, and come upon the bait. This mode of fishing is very productive. Fishing, of one kind or other, is the principal occupation of the Ostyaks, in the heart of whose country, after three or four days' journey, Mr. Erman found himself. The rivers abound with excelJent fish-eels, especially, being very abundant, but not much eaten, although their skins are in great request as window panes. These are rubbed with fat, to make them more transparent, but there are small roundish swellings in the skin which refract and confound the rays of light. A better substitute for glass is a flake of ice, used by the Sosnovian Ostyaks, a tribe further north. The flakes are about a foot thick, and are propped from without by a pole, whose lower end bears obliquely against the ground. The fire, kept burning in the hut, thaws the inner surface of the ice, rendering it smooth as a mirror. A whiter and brighter light penetrates through these windows than through the fish-skins, which the Sosnovians use for boots, and even for clothes. Strong and air-tight, and well rubbed with fat, they are almost as warm as fur, and better against the wet.
The commencement of a fishing season or expedition is celebrated by the Ostyaks with all manner of queer saturnalia. Although nominally Christians, and accustomed to attend church once a-year, they are very heathenish in some of their rites and ceremonies, and make a strange jumble of their old superstitions and their new faith. The priests do not invariably set them a good
sign of the cross to such an extent, so slowly, and with such deep bowing of the body, as would be required by the church only on the most solemn occasions."
example. "Our Russian informant
Although much engrossed by fishing, the Ostyaks do not neglect the chase. Their thick woods abound in the better kinds of fur animals, and the annual tribute of two sable skins, payable by each family to the Russian government, is not very difficult to obtain. It is seldom found necessary to pay an equivalent in other skins. the beginning of Although quite winter, Mr. Erman's host, in Ostyak village, showed him a fine sable skin, which he kept in a strong box, like a treasure, concealed in a corner of his dwelling. Its value was diminished by a yellowish tinge, ascribed to the animal's having lived in a wood where there was too much light. Besides sable and squirrel, the reindeer, the fox, the glutton, and the elk, are objects of chase. Mr. Erman tried to get at the fact of the enmity said to exist between the two latter ani. mals. The reply to his inquiries was the old story current in Europe-how the glutton leaps from a branch on the elk's neck, and keeps his seat till the death of his steed. No one, however, had seen any thing of the kind: it was matter of tradition, handed down from The ermine is their dead fathers. taken in traps. The fox is in great variety, the most esteemed being the crossed stone fox, whose colour is partly a grayish yellow, partly white, so distributed that the grayish parts unite prettily to form a cross, one bar of which extends along the back, whilst the other stretches obliquely down the middle ribs to the belly. The fur of this animal is greatly priz ed by the Russian clergy, for whom pelisses, covered with natural crosses, are made from it. The latitude of the town of Beresov is the headquarters of the Siberian beaver, hunted not for the fur but for the precious castoteum or beaver stone, to which such great medical virtues are ascribed. Attempts have been made in Germany to obtain from the beavers of that country a product which might replace that of Siberia; but all in vain. The fine quality is only to be had in the far north, where, as Mr.
Erman fancifully observes, nature scatters animal perfumes in place of fragrant flowers. The Kosaks and Russian traders have exalted the beaver-stone into a panacea. To the sentence, " God arose, and Our enemies were scattered, the Siberians add, very characteristically, the apocryphal interpolation, and we are free from headache.' To ensure this most desirable condition, every one has recourse, at home or on his travels, and with the firmest faith, to two medicines, and only two, viz., beaver-stone, or beaver-efflux, as it is here called, and sal-ammoniac." From the strength of the castoreum, the Siberians infer that other parts of the animal must possess peculiar virtues. Gouty swellings are said to subside rapidly when rubbed with the fat, and the beaver's teeth are popularly believed to cure toothache.
The beaver is the only fur animal in these latitudes that does not change its color in the course of the year. This is probably owing to the circumstance, that in winter it dwells wholly in the water, thus enjoying a comparatively equable temperature. In the river Obi, at Beresov, the water does not usually freeze below the depth of four feet eight inches, and the beaver always has two entrances to his dwelling, one high on the bank above the stream, the other below the freezing limit. The architectural and woodcutting habits of the animal are the same here as in America; but two assertions, new to Mr. Erman, were made respecting it by the Beresov hunters. He was assured that "among beavers, as with bees and men, there are distinctions of ranks; each chief keeping a number of la borers, the toils of which he oversees and directs without taking part in them; and, again, it was stated that the contents of the castoreum bags depend on the moon." It was impossible to verify the veracity of these two statements. As regards the moon's influence, however, there is ground for a suspicion that its advantages are rather felt by the hunter, than essential to the virtues of the drug. Full moon is maintained, both by Ostyaks and Russians, to be the propitious time.
The most northern tribe of Ostyaks, who dwell between the rivers Obi and Yenisei, surpass their southern neighbors in venatorial skill, as they, in their turn, are surpassed by the Samoyedes, who live in the northernmost regions of Siberia. The men of the Yenisei kill wolves, which, on account of their long soft hair, are reckoned greatly superior to the forest and steppe wolves of middle Siberia. They are also famed for their dexterity in killing and capturing reindeer. "Tying leathern cords between the tops of the antlers of their tame deer, they turn the animals loose, one by one, in the neighborhood of a wild herd: these do not fail to attack the strangers, and their antlers becoming entangled in the cords during the contest, they are held fast by the tame deer till the men arrive. These Ostyaks know also how to plant spring-bows, which send the arrow against the animal's breast." But the Samoyedes, besides these ordinary. artifices, have other and ingenious ways, peculiar to themselves, of ensnaring and slaying the brute creation, by putting themselves as much as possible on an equality with the animals pursued, going on all-fours, and imitating them in voice and clothing. The Polar bear is a common victim to their cunning devices, and even to their open attacks; for their intimate acquaintance with the formidable beast makes them regard him as an easy prey. The Samoyedes assert that the white bear far exceeds the black bear in ferocity and strength, whilst fully equal to it in cunning; yet, owing to his unwieldiness, they encounter it without fear, and always reckon on victory as certain. A man will often go singly against a Polar bear, eight feet long, without any other weapon than his knife, which he fastens to the end of a pole. In spring and autumn these animals are found upon the ice, near the hole whence the seals come forth to breathe. There the bear covers himself up with snow, facing the hole, and with one paw stretched into the water." The Samoyede seal-hunters imitate the bears, and when the seal walks out upon the ice, they shove a board over the hole and capture the phoca. Concerning
the bear the Ostyaks entertain peculiar notions, viewing it with a sort of superstitious respect. A member of the court of justice told me that, in suits between Russians and Ostyaks, it is still the custom here (at Beresov) to bring into court the head of a bear, and that this animal, which is supposed to be omniscient, is there appealed to as a witness by the Ostyaks. In swearing they make the gesture of eating, and call upon the bear to devour them in like manner if they do not tell the truth. Some similar reverence for Bruin exists, we believe, amongst certain North American tribes.
set up a hideous howling, by way of claiming their daily meal, consisting invariably of fish, which, for them as well as for their owners' consumption, is first dried in the sun and then pounded, bones and all. Except this evening concert, a bark or a cry is rarely uttered by these dogs, unless at first starting when yoked to the sledge, or on coming across a reindeer team upon the road. Hydrophobia would be a terrible scourge in this dog-district, but the disease is fortunately unknown there. Steller has stated the same thing of the dogs of Kamschatka, and Mr. Erman concludes that the malady is a result of the European system of living in towns. And as the Siberian dogs are so very moderately fed, he infers that excess, not want, generates the morbid habit. We are inclined to attribute more importance to the quality than to the quantity of the food. A fish diet may be more conducive to a wholesome state of the animals' blood than the masses of horse-flesh, paunch, and other rank and unclean offal commonly given to dogs in Europe, and especially in England, where the carnivorous addiction of bipeds induce a belief in the propriety of unlimited flesh-feeding for quadrupeds.
The large annual importation of exiles, the system of conscription, and the advantages offered to public officers volunteering for Siberian service, are the most important and efficacious measures by which Russia proceeds gradually but steadily with the colonization and civilization of her Asiatic dominions. The conscripts are sometimes drawn, not only from Tobolsk, but from the remotest parts of Siberia, and the term of military service being twenty-eight years, it is probable that only a small proportion return to their native villages. Those who do are looked up to as oracles by their countrymen. They are objects of pride to their families and of respect to every body else; the place of honor is theirs by right, and they are addressed by the title of Master Soldier.* The ferry
The draught-dogs, so faithful and useful to the northern Siberians, often receive but scurvy treatment at their masters' hands. The Ostyaks, who are honesty personified, and who laugh at the common European precautions of locking up valuables and bolting doors, cannot endure the predatory propensities of their canine allies, and fly into a passion whenever an unlucky dog sneaks into their dwelling in search of warmth or food. The poor brute is immediately a mark for the blows and kicks of every body present, the storm of abuse being justified by the cunning and greediness of its object, who, if allowed to abide in the house, would soon reduce its inmates to short commons. There is some excuse for the dogs' voracity, however; for, according to Mr. Erman's account, they are considerably more than half-starved, and are rarely admitted to the fire to be fed, save when they return weary and distressed from a long journey. Severe as is the cold in those regions, protection from it is not essential to the existence, or even to the health of these hardy dogs. They sleep outside the houses, in holes which they thaw in the snow by their own warmth. At Obdorsk, where there are no pastures, and consequently no horses, four hundred dogs are kept by sixty inhabitants, and each of them is estimated to draw five poods' (two hundred pounds) weight in the loaded sledge. About eight o'clock in the evening these four hundred brutes
Gospodin Slujivui. Gospodin is equivalent to the French Monsieur or Sieg
neur, and Slujivui means literally one who has served in the army.
of the Irtuish, by Tobolsk, whose passage is considered the symbol of political death to the numerous exiles who each year cross it-bestows a step of rank on all public servants offering themselves for duty in Siberia Proper. The passion for rank, stronger in Russia than in any other country, drives hosts of officers across this important boundary; but as they are not obliged to remain more than three years, most of them return home at the end of that time. Far nearer to St. Petersburg than the Asiatic frontier, civilization is still at a very low ebb amongst the aboriginal tribes. Close to Nijni Novgorod, and within a very short distance of Moscow, the prevailing population consists of Cheremisses and Chuvashes, two tribes, many of whose customs are nearly as barbarous as their names. These people are shy and timid, very slow in acquiring industrious habits, and addicted to sundry practices stamping them as semi-savages. In some places they cling to paganism, and offer up horned beasts, fruit, and vegetables to their various deities. The Chuvash ladies wear a sort of bustle of sheet copper, hanging from the girdle backwards over the hips, and having appended to it all manner of metal ornaments, making a perpetual clatter in walking. But these tribes are the pink of refinement by comparison with those in the northern portion of the Muscovite empire, with the Ostyaks, who eat out of the same trough with their dogs, or with the Samoyedes who tear with their teeth, and swallow with infinite relish, huge lumps of raw and reeking flesh. The women of the latter people wear, as their favorite decoration (certainly no inappropriate one) a glutton's tail, hanging down the back of their pelisse. Their hair is plaited in tails, to which all manner of lumber, brass and iron rings, and rusty musketlocks, are attached. Mr. Erman's account of "Life in the Chum" (the skin tent of the Samoyedes) is quaint and graphic.
"The reindeer calf, which we had got on the way, was killed and cut up in front of the tent a few minutes after our arrival. The men now brought the bleeding flesh into the
tent, and began devouring it immediately, quite raw, with the heartiest appetite. The old man was satisfied with sucking the brain from the head, whilst each of our younger comrades gnawed away at a limb of the animal, even to the bone. They laughed at the amazement which my goodhumored Esthonian attendant - expressed at their blood-stained faces; and when he gave them to understand, through the interpreter, that they were no better than wolves, they seemed quite unprepared for such reproof; replying, gravely, that they were at the same time no worse than the wolves, since they shared honestly with them, and left the bones and some scraps of flesh merely for their sake." In this same tent there was a little monster of a boy named Peina, whom one reads of with a sort of shudder, and with a strong suspicion that the creature was not canny. Mr. Erman himself seems to write of him with peculiar reserve, stating facts, but evidently unwilling to give an opinion as to the exact nature of the beast. Peina, who had first-rate masticators, got his share of the raw meat, which did not prevent his drawing on his mother's lacteal re-. sources, and thumping her brutally till she honoured the draft, or handed him the pot-ladle, with which he supped scaling porridge to his great internal contentment, The traveller's bread, although frozen hard and not easy eating for adult jaws, disappeared by wholesale within those of Peina. At night the anomalous urchin was laid naked in a canoe-shaped basket, and covered up so thickly with furs that his cries seemed to come from the depths of the earth. In the morning his mother took him from his bed and set him up, still naked, before the fire to warm himself. Sugar, when first presented to him, he called snow, and threw away, but when once he had tasted the dainty, his demands for it were unceasing and peremptory. Taking into consideration the uncomfortable and uncleanly peculiarities of the Samoyedes, both young and old, we cannot feel surprised that Mr. Erman's interpreter conceived an intense dislike to their society, and so managed matters that one morning,