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gaining ground during four centuries; and when Theodosius, in 390, made it the established religion of the empire, the exercise of all the rites and ceremonies of the abolished polytheism was forbidden, the temples of the pagan deities were destroyed, their statues were thrown down, and the Roman world beheld no more sacrifices, no more imposing processions, no more high festivals. It must be quite evident that the mysteries had performed their mission, and that, as part of a system which was fading out before the rising sun of Christianity, they must soon have become extinct
, even had the imperial edict spared them. It may be doubted, we think, whether the Christian religion would not have continued longer in the purity and simplicity of the apostolic period if Constantine and Theodosius had not thrown over it the protection of the imperial purple, and paganism had been left to die a natural death. Zeal for the multiplication of converts led the ministers of the new religion to erect their churches on the sites of heathen temples, to convert the statues of the gods of Olympus into those of Christian saints and martyrs, to compromise with pagan prejudices by permitting the people to slaughter their cattle for the festivals near the churches, the spots where they had been wont to offer sacrifices, and to institute festivals for observance on the days when the people had been accustomed to celebrate those of paganism. From this source flowed all the corruptions of our religion in the dark period of the fourth and fifth centuries.
SIBERIA AND THE RUSSIAN PENAL
DRIVEN by that love of adventure and of a roving life which is charac
teristic of their race, a considerable tribe of the Cossacks of the Don, in the middle of the sixteenth century, left the abode of their people on the banks of the river from whence their name is derived, and moved eastward in quest of booty and of new possessions. Their depradatory inroads on the Russian territories on the banks of the Wolga, and their daring piracies on the Sea of Azov, soon rendered them formidable enemies in the eyes of the surrounding nations, and particularly of the Russian tzar, Ivan II., the first among the predecessors of Peter the Great who attempted, though by the most cruel and despotic means, to assimilate his empire to the civilised states of Western Europe. Ivan, bent upon introducing order and security in the provinces which he had but recently reconquered from the Tatars, and upon establishing regular commercial intercourse with the neighbouring Asiatic nations, saw that these wandering Cossack hordes threatened his plans with destruction, and in consequence determined to take the most stringent measures for putting an end to their proceedings. The army and feet which he assembled in 1577 for this purpose were, however, not brought into action; for the Cossacks, inspired with fear, dispersed in all directions. One horde, consisting of from 6000 to 7000 men, headed by their attaman (chief) Jermak Timofejen, moved along the banks of the rivers Kama and Tschnssowaja, towards the present government of Perm, and thence penetrated into the Ural Mountain From the summit of these mountains Jermak beheld spread out before him the immeasurable plains, to which the name of Siberia was afterwards given, but which was an unknown land to the European nations of that period. Nothing daunted by the wild and desolate character of the country, or by fear of its unknown inhabitants, the Cossack chief conceived the bold project of founding a new empire in the regions thus opened up to his view. Upheld by that love of conquest which has achieved so many marvels, he descended the Asiatic declivities of the Ural with his handful of followers, overthrew and expelled the Tatar Khan Kutchum, penetrated beyond the rivers Tobol, Irtysh, and Ob, and subjugated, during his campaign through these widespread regions, the various populations
who inhabited them. But though Jermak's and his companions' invincible bravery and perseverance sufficed to win an empire, the small number of these enterprising men, still further diminished by war and dreadful hardships, was inadequate for maintaining in subjection a territory extending over many thousand square miles, and inhabited by various populations, distinct as to origin and mode of life, and unconnected by any political ties.
But rather than that his newly-acquired empire should die, as it were, at its birth, and the tale of his heroic achievements find no place in history, Jermak determined to cede it to a hand strong enough to retain it, and in 1581 he, in consequence, made a formal cession of the conquered territory to the very prince whose hostile preparations on the banks of the Wolga had transformed him from a robber chief into the founder of an empire. In consideration of the great service thus rendered to the Russian empire, Ivan not only absolved Jermak from the consequences of his former misdeeds, but even rewarded him for the genius and valour he had evinced in the plains of Northern Asia. However, if tradition speak the truth, the monarch's favour brought Jermak evil fortune ; for the death of the latter, which ensued in 1584, is attributed to a fall into the river Irtysh, where he was drowned, from the weight of the golden armour which the tzar had bestowed on him as a mark of distinction, rendering him unable to save himself by swimming.
The possession of the country which Jermak in so great a measure contributed to bring under the dominion of the Russian crown, opened up for Russia a commercial route through her own dominions to China, and laid the foundation of Russian navigation in the Pacific, and eventually led to the acquisition of territories on the continent of America. Its metallic riches constitute a great item in the revenues of the state, and its products in general form the basis of an extensive and important branch of Russian
This remarkable country had become partially known to the Russians in the beginning of the fifteenth century, during the military expeditions of Tzar Ivan I. against the barbarous inhabitants of the northern districts of the Ural Mountains. But the dangers which, during the reigns of Ivan and his immediate successor, beset the state on various points, soon obliterated from the mind of the tzar and his followers the remembrance of countries which possessed no attractive features to recommend them. It was the curiosity and enterprise of a private individual which, during the reign of Ivan II., led to the rediscovery, and eventually to the subjugation, of Siberia. A Russian, by name Stroganow, who possessed lands situated on the river Wutschegda, on which he had established a salt-work, was often visited by people belonging to a nation which, as to feature, language, and costume, was quite unknown to him, and who brought with them the produce of their own country, among which were costly furs, to offer in exchange for the salt which they sought from him. Being curious to obtain further knowledge of the origin and dwelling-place of his unknown customers, Stroganow induced some of his people to accompany the strangers to their homes, and thus learned that they dwelt in the vicinity of the river Ob; he thenceforward entered into a regular commercial connection with the whole tribe, which he did not however divulge until, by the monopoly thus secured to himself, he had amassed a large fortune, when he informed the tzar of his discovery. Ivan II., fully alive to the advantages which might accrue to his country from this connection, acted upon the information given, and in 1556 the Siberian Khan Jediger became a tributary of the Russian empire. But subsequently Judiger was subjugated by the Tatar Khan Kutchum ; and as Ivan preferred entertaining friendly relations with the latter, with whose subjects the Russians carried on a very profitable trade, to making war upon him for the sake of territories which were as yet but very imperfectly known, all idea of Siberian acquisitions was again abandoned, until Jermak made his peace with the offended monarch by placing a conquered empire at his feet.
Jermak's sacrifice of his sovereignty, with a view to securing the conquered territories, threatened at first to be of no avail, for Ivan sent him a reinforcement of five hundred men only; and this was neither sufficient to keep the subjugated populations in submission, nor to follow up the course of conquest; and the Russians having neglected to build fortresses, in which they might seek safety in case of need, they were, after Jermak's death, gradually but so effectually thrown back again towards the Ural, that to make Siberia a dependence of the Russian crown a second conquest became necessary.
This was undertaken during the reign of Ivan's successor; and though the forces then despatched were numerically very weak, their undertakings were crowned with success, because their leader was wise enough not to penetrate far into the country before he had secured himself in the rear by the foundation of the town of Tiumen (1586.) From that moment their dominion over the neighbouring territories was secured, and thenceforward the progress of Russian power in Siberia may be traced in the dates of the foundations of the various towns in that country.*
Though we have used the word conquest in speaking of the extension of the Russian dominion in Siberia, this term is not quite appropriate, for the natural love and capacity of the Russian Slavonians for commerce, which has played so important a part even in the history of European Russia, contributed as much to the subjugation of the native tribes as the military prowess of the Cossacks. Among the Russian Siberians of the present day there is a word current which in a great measure comprises the history of the establishment of their forefathers in the land. This word is Promuisl, which, in the Siberian language, denotes every kind of industrial activity and enterprise, but particularly such undertakings as necessitate distant expeditions; and it was as Promuischleneki—that is, inventors or suggesters, a name which they themselves adopted—that the Russian subjugators of Siberia gradually won their way among the hostile populations, whom their pacific arts, more than their warlike enterprises, finally brought under their dominion. The Promuischleneki were, in the first instance, troops of adventurers from all parts of Russia, who, attracted by the fame of the costly furs which were said to abound among the natives, followed in the wake of the Cossacks, in the hope of gaining riches by commerce, where the latter gained lands by conquest; for the abundance of those wild animals in Siberia, whose skins were most highly valued among other
* Tobolsk was founded 1587 ; Pelym, Berezow, and Surgut, 1592 ; Tara, 1594 ; Narym, 1596; Werchoturie, 1598 ; Tarinsk and Mangasea, 1600 ; Tomsk, 1604; Turnchansk, 1609; Kusneyk, 1618, Jeneseisk, 1619; Krasnojarsk, 1627; Jakutsk, 1632; Irbit, 1633 ; Ochotsk, 1639; Nertschinsk, 1658 ; Irkutsk, 1669.
nations, is said to have awakened the same avidity among the Russians as the gold of Mexico and Peru excited among the Spaniards. Dangers and difficulties of the most appalling character were braved in the search for riches, and the avarice of the people would make them rush to encounter hazards before which even the military ardour of the Cossacks quailed. If a detachment of Cossacks found itself too weak for the subjugation of a newly-explored territory, it called to its aid a number of these adventurers; and with their assistance the object was soon accomplished. The Siberian populations, who were far from comprehending the ultimate views of the strangers who thus introduced themselves among them in the character of traders, rarely objected to acknowledge the supremacy of the sovereign of a people who proved themselves such excellent caterers for their necessities; but if resistance were attempted, violent means were resorted to, and the defenceless natives were obliged to submit. When a territory was at too great a distance from one of the existing towns to be held in subjugation by the latter, new fortifications, or ostrogs, as they are termed in the Russian language, were erected, and were garrisoned with Cossacks; and thus the whole territory, from the Ural to the Pacific, and from the Arctic Ocean to the confines of China, was brought into dependence on the Russian crown before the expiration of the seventeenth century. The Cossacks that accompanied Jermak into Siberia, as well as those that were subsequently despatched thither, remained in the country; and at first, as has been seen, formed a kind of militia, whose duty it was to keep the subjugated population to their allegiance. Many of them intermarried with the latter; others brought their families with them; and from these original conquerors of the land descends the race of Siberian Cossacks, the number of which now amounts to between 100,000 and 200,000. The great majority have abandoned their original warlike organisation, and have devoted themselves to industry and agriculture, while the smaller number still perform military duties.
The extensive regions, now comprised under the name of Siberia, and embracing an eighth part of the known world, which was conquered for the Russian crown in less than eighty years—not in wisely-planned campaigns by eminent military leaders, but by the perseverance and skill of an untutored race—was, at the period of the conquest as in the present day, inhabited by populations as different in their origin as in their modes of life. Of the Finnish race there are the Surjanes and the Woguls in the government of Tobolsk, the latter still in a nomade state, and both living chiefly by the produce of the chase; the Tschuwasches, who, though an agricultural population, never dwell in towns, and who live chiefly upon horse flesh; and the Ostjacks of the Ob, living in the vicinity of the river of that name and of the Irtysh, and forming one of the most numerous populations of Siberia. The name Ostjack or Oschtjack is of Tatar origin, and denotes a stranger---one who knows nothing--and was at first applied indiscriminately to all the natives of Siberia. But since the difference of race and other distinctions between these populations have become better known, the name Ostjack has been retained only by the people just mentioned, and two other tribes dwelling on the rivers Narym and Jenissei, who differ, however, from each other as well as from the Ostjacks of the Ob as to origin and language. Of the Tatar race, there are in Siberia the