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BEYOND the Wolga and Jaick, towards the north, lies the kingdom of Casan, which, like that of Astracan, fell by partition to one of the sons of Gengis Khan, and afterwards to a son of Tamerlane, and was at length conquered by John Basilides. It is still inhabited by a number of Mahometan Tartars. This vast country stretches as far as Siberia; it is allowed to have been formerly very flourishing and rich, and still retains some part of its pristine opulence. A province of this kingdom, called Great Permia, and since Solikam, was the staple for the merchandises of Persia, and the furs of Tartary. There has been found in Permia a great quantity of the coin of the first Caliphs, and some Tartarian idols, made of gold;* but these monuments of ancient opulence were found in the midst of barren deserts and extreme poverty, where there were not the least traces of commerce: revolutions of this nature may easily happen to a barren country seeing they are so soon brought about in the most fruitful provinces.

The famous Swedish prisoner, Strahlemberg, who made such advantageous use of his misfortunes, and who examined those extensive countries with so much attention, was the first who gave an air of probability to a fact, which before had been always thought incredible; namely, concerning the ancient commerce of these provinces. Pliny and Pomponius Mela relate, that, in the reign of Augustus, a king of the Suevi made a present to Metellus Celer of some Indians who had been cast by a storm upon the coasts bordering on the Elbe. But how could inhabitants of India navigate the Germanic seas? This adventure was deemed fabulous by all our moderns, especially after the change made in the commerce of our hemisphere, by the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope. But formerly it was no more extraordinary to see an Indian trading to the parts to the north-west of his country, than to see a Roman go from India by the way of Arabia. The Indians went to Persia, and thence embarked on the Hyreanian Sea, and ascending the Rha, now the Wolga, got to Great Permia through the river Kama; from whence they might take shipping again on the Black Sea, or the Baltic. There have, in all times, been enterprising men. The Tyrians undertook most surprising voyages.

If after surveying all these vast provinces, we direct our view towards the east, we shall find the limits of Europe and Asia again confounded. A new name is wanting for this considerable part of the globe. The ancients divided their known world into Europe, Asia, and Africa; but they had not seen the tenth part of it; hence it happens, that when we pass the Palus Mæotis, we are at a loss to know where Europe ends, or Asia, be

gins; all that tract of country lying beyond mount Taurus was distinguished by the general appellation of Scythia, and afterwards by that of Tartary. It might not be improper, perhaps, to give the name of Terræ Arcticæ, or Northern Lands, to the country extending from the Baltic Sea, to the confines of China; as that of Terræ Australes, or Southern Lands, are to that equally extensive part of the world, situated under the Antarctic Pole, and which serves to counterpoise the globe.

Memoirs of Strahlemberg, confirmed by those sent me from Russia.





SIBERIA, with the territories beyond it, extends from the frontiers of the provinces of Archangel, Resan, and Astracan, eastward as far as the sea of Japan: it joined the southern parts of Russia by Mount Caucasus; from thence, to the country of Kamtshatka, is about one thousand two hundred computed French leagues; and from southern Tartary, which serves as its boundary to the Frozen Sea, about four hundred, which is the least breadth of the Russian empire. This country produces the richest furs; and this occasioned the discovery of it in the year 1563.

They are,

In the sixteenth century, in the reign of the czar, John Basilides, and not in that of Feeder Johannowitz, a private person in the neighbourhood of Archangel, named Anika, one tolerably rich for his condition of life and country, took notice, that certain men of an extraordinary figure, and dressed in a manner unknown to that country, and who spoke a language understood by no one but themselves, came every year down a river which falls into the Dwina,* and brought martins and black foxes, which they trucked for nails and pieces of glass; just as the first savages of America used to exchange their gold with the Spaniards; he cansed them to be followed by his sons and servants, as far as their own country. These were the Samojedes, a people who seem resemble the Laplanders, but are of a different race. like that people, unacquainted with the use of bread; and like them, they yoke reindeer to draw their sledges. They live in caverns and huts, amidst the snow; but in other respects, nature has made a visible difference between this species of men and the Laplanders. Their upper jaw projects forward, so as to be on a level with their nose, and their ears are placed higher. Both the men and women have no hair in any other part of their bodies, but their heads; and their nipple is of a deep black, like ebony. The Lapland men and women are distinguished by no such marks. By memoirs sent from these countries so little known, I have been informed, that the author of the curious natural history of the king's garden, is mistaken, where, in speaking of the many curiosities in human nature, he confounds the Lapland race with that of the Samojedes. There are

* Memoirs sent from Petersburg.

† Ibid


many more different species of men than is commonly thought. The Samojedes, and the Hottentots, seem to be the two extremes of our continent; and if we observe the black nipples of the Samojedian women, and the apron with which nature has furnished the Hottentot females, and which hangs half way down their thighs, we may have some idea of the great variety of our animal species, a variety unknown to those inhabiting great cities, who are generally strangers to almost every thing that is not immediately within their view.

The Samojedes are as singular in their moral as in their physical distinctions; they pay no worship to the Supreme Being; they border upon Manicheism, or rather upon the religion of the ancient Magi in this one point, that they acknowledge a good and an evil principle. The horrible climate they inhabit may in some measure excuse this belief, which is of such ancient date, and so natural to those who are ignorant and unhappy.

Theft, or murder, is never heard of amongst them; being in a manner devoid of passions, they are strangers to injustice; they have no terms in their language to denote vice and virtue, their extreme simplicity has not yet permitted them to form abstract ideas, they are wholly guided by pensation, and this is perhaps an incontestible proof that men naturally love justice, when not blinded by inordinate passions.

Some of these savages were prevailed on to suffer themselves to be carried to Moscow, where many things they saw struck them with admiration. They gazed upon the emperor as their god, and voluntarily engaged for themselves and countrymen a present of two martens, or sables, every year for each inhabitant. Colonies were soon settled beyond the Oby,* and the Irtis, † and some forts built. In the year 1595, a Cossack officer was sent into this country, who conquered it for the czar with only a few soldiers and some artillery, as Cortez did Mexico; but he only made a conquest of barren deserts.

In sailing up the Oby to the junction of the river Irtis with the Tobol, they found a petty settlement, which they converted into the town of Tobol now the capital of Siberia, and a considerable place. Who could imagine that this country was for a long time the residence of those very Huns, who under Attila carried their depredations as far as the gates of Rome, and that these Huns came from the north of China? The Usbeck

* Called also the Ob. This large river issues from the lake Altin in Calmuck Tatary, in Asia, from whence running north it forms the boundary between Europe and Asia, and after traversing a vast tract of above two thousand miles, it falls into a bay of the Frozen Sea.

In the Russian language Irtish. This river runs from N. to S. through all Russia, and falling into the former river, forms part of the boundary between Asia and Europe.

In the Russian language Tobolskoy.

Tartars succeeded the Huns, and the Russians the Usbecks. The possession of these savage countries has been disputed with as much murderous fury, as that of the most fruitful provinces. Siberia was formerly better peopled than it is at present, especially towards the southern parts; if we may judge from the rivers and sepulchral mon


All this part of the world, from the sixtieth degree of latitude, or therebouts, as far as those mountains of perpetual ice which border the north seas, is totally different from the regions of the temperate zone; the earth produces neither the same plants, nor the same animals, nor are there the same sort of fishes in their lakes and rivers.

Below the country of the Samojedes lies that of the Ostiaks, along the river Oby. These people have no resemblance in any respect with the Samojedes, save that like them and all the first race of men they are hunters, fishermen, and shepherds; some of them have no religion, not being formed into any society, and the others who live together in herds or clans, have a kind of worship, and pray to the principal object of their wants; they adore the skin of a sheep, because this creature is of all others the most serviceable to them; just as the Egyptian husbandmen made choice of an ox, as an emblem of the Deity who created that creature for the use of man.

The Ostiaks have likewise other idols, whose origin and worship are as little deserving our notice as their worshippers. There were some converts to Christianity made amongst them in the year 1712; but these, like the lowest of our peasants, are Christians without knowing what they profess. Several writers pretend that these people were natives of Great Permia, but as Great Permia is in a manner a desert, how comes it then its inhabitants should settle themselves at such a distance, and so inconveniently? This is a difficulty not worth clearing up. Every nation which has not cultivated the polite arts, deserves to remain in obscurity.

In the country of the Ostiaks in particular, and amongst their neighbours the Burates and Jakutians, they often discover a kind of ivory under ground, the nature of which is as yet unknown. Some take it to be a sort of fossil, and others the tooth of a species of elephants, the breed of which have been destroyed: but where is the country that does not afford some natural productions, which at once astonish and confound philosophy.

Several mountains in this country abound with the amianthes or asbestos, a kind of incombustible flax, of which a sort of cloth and paper is sometimes made.

To the south of the Ostiaks are the Burates, another people, who have not yet been made Christians. Eastward there are several hordes, whom the Russians have not as yet entirely subdued.

None of these people have the least knowledge of the calender: they reckon their time by snows, and not by the apparent motion of the sun : as it snows regularly, and for a long time every winter, they say, "I am so many snows old," just as we say, I am so many years.

And here I must relate the accounts given by the Swedish officer Strahlemberg, who was taken prisoner in the battle of Pultowa, and lived fifteen years in Siberia, and made the entire tour of that country. He says, that there are still some remains of an ancient people, whose skin is spotted or variegated with different colours, and that he himself had seen some of them; and the fact has been confirmed to me by Russians born at Tobolsky. The variety of the human species seems to be greatly diminished, as we find very few of these extraordinary people, and they have probably been exterminated by some other race for instance, there are very few Albinos, or White Moors; one of them was presented to the academy of sciences at Paris, which I saw. It is the same with respect to several other species of animals which are


As to the Borandians, of whom mention is made so frequently in the learned history of the king's garden, my memoirs say, that this race of people is entirely unknown to the Russians.

All the southern part of these countries is peopled by numerous hordes of Tartars. The ancient Turks came from this part of Tartary to conquer these extensive countries, of which they are at present in possession. The Calmucs and Monguls are the very Scythians who, under Madies, made themselves masters of Upper Asia, and conquered Cyaxares, king of the Medes. They are the men whom Gengis Khan and his sons led afterwards as far as Germany, and was termed the Mogul empire under Tamerlane. These people afford a lively instance of the vicissitudes which have happened to all nations; some of their hordes, so far from being formidable now, are become vassals to Russia.

Among these is a nation of Calmucs, dwelling between Siberia and the Caspian Sea, where, in the year 1720, there was discovered a subterraneous house of stone, with urns, lamps, ear-rings, an equestrian statue of an oriental prince, with a diadem on his head, two women seated on thrones, and a roll of manuscripts, which were sent by Peter the Great to the academy of inscriptions at Paris, and proved to be written in the Thibet language: all these are striking proofs, that the liberal arts formerly resided in this now barbarous country, and are lasting evidences of the truth of what Peter the Great was wont several times to say, viz. that the arts had made the tour of the globe.

The last province is Kamtshatka, the most eastern part of the continent. The inhabitants were absolutely void of all religion when they were first discovered, the north part of this country like

wise affords fine furs, with which the inhabitants clothed themselves in winter, though they went naked all the summer season. The first discoverers were surprised to find in the southern parts men with long beards, while in the northern parts, from the country of the Samojedes, as far as the mouth of the river Amur, they have no more beards than the Americans. Thus, in the empire of Russia, there is a greater number of different species, more singularities, and a greater diversity of manners and customs, than in any country in the known world.

The first discovery of this country was made by a Cossack officer, who went by land from Siberia to Kamtshatka in 1701, by order of Peter the Great, who, notwithstanding his misfortune at Narva, still continued to extend his care from one extremity of the continent to the other. Afterwards, in 1725, sometime before death surprised him, in the midst of his great exploits, he sent Captain Bering, a Dane, with express orders to find out, if possible, a passage by the sea of Kantshatka, to the coast of America. Bering did not succeed in his first attempt; but the empress Anne sent him out again in 1733. M.Spengenberg, captain of a ship, his associate in this voyage, set out the first from Kamtshatka, but could not put to sea till the year 1739, so much time was taken up in getting to the port where they were to embark, in building and fitting out the ships, and providing the necessaries. Spengenberg sailed as far as the North part of Japan, through a strait, formed by a long chain of islands, and returned without having discovered the passage.

In 1741, Bering cruised all over this sea, in company with De Lisle de la Croyere, the astronomer, of the same family of L'Isle, which has produced such excellent geographers: another captain likewise went upon the same discovery. They both made the coast of America, to the northward of California. Thus the north-east passage, so long sought after, was at length discovered, but there was no refreshments to be met with in those barren coasts. Their fresh water failed them, and part of the crew perished with the scurvy. They saw the northern bank of California for above a hundred miles, and saw some leathern canoes, with just such a sort of people in them as the Canadians. All their endeavours, however, proved fruitless: Bering ended his life in an island, to which he gave his name. The other captain, happening to be closer in with the Californian coast, sent ten of his people on shore, who never returned. The captain, after waiting for them in vain, found himself obliged to return back to Kamtshatka, and De Lisle died as he was going on shore. Such are the disasters that have generally attended every new attempt upon the northern seas. But what advantages may yet arise from these powerful and dangerous discoveries, time alone can prove.

We have now described all the different provinces that compose the Russian dominions, from Finland to the sea of Japan. The largest part of this empire have been all united at different times, as has been the case in all other kingdoms in the world. The Scythians, Huns, Massagetes, Slavians, Cimbrians, Getes, and Sarmatians, are now subjects of the czar. The Russians, properly so called, are the ancient Roxolani or Slavi.

Upon reflection, we shall find that most states were formed in the same manner. The French are an assemblage of Goths, of Danes called Normands, of northern Germans, called Burgundians; of Franks, Allmans, and some Romans, mixed with the ancient Celta. In Rome and Italy there are several families descended from the people of the North, but none that we know of from the ancient Romans. The supreme pontiff is frequently the offspring of a Lombard, a Goth, a Teuton, or a Cimbrian. The Spaniards are a race of Arabs, Carthaginians, Jews, Tyrians, Visigoths, and Vandals, incorporated with the ancient inhabitants of the country. When nations are thus intermixed, it is a long time before they are civilised, or even before their language is formed. Some, indeed, receive these sooner, others later. Polity and the liberal arts are so difficult to establish, and the new raised structure is so often destroyed by revolutions, that we may wonder all nations are not so barbarous as Tartars.


Continuation of the description of Russia, popula tion, finances, armies, customs, religion: state of Russia before Peter the Great.

THE more civilized a country is, the better it is peopled. Thus China and India are more populous than any other empires, because, after a multitude of revolutions, which changed the face of sublunary affairs, these two nations made the earliest establishments in civil society: the antiquity of their government, which has subsisted upwards of four thousand years, supposes, as we have already observed, many essays and efforts in preceding ages. The Russians came very late; but the arts having been introduced amongst them in their full perfection, it has happened that they have made more progress in fifty years, than any other nation had done before them in five hundred. The country is far from being populous in proportion to its extent; but, such as it is, it has as great a number of inhabitants as any other state in Christendom. From the capitation lists, and the register of merchants, artificers, and male peasants, I might safely assert, that Russia, at present, contains at least twenty-four millions of male inhabitants of these twenty-four millions, the greater part are villains or bondmen, as in Poland, several provinces of Germany, and formerly throughout

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New convents to the Greek church Tartars and Ostiaks (peasants) Mourses, Tartars, Mordauts, and others, whether Pagans or Christians, employed by the admiralty Tartars subject to contribution, called Tepteris, Bobilitz, &c.

Bondmen to several merchants, and other priviliged persons, who, though not land-holders, are allowed to have slaves

Peasants in the lands set apart for the support of the crown

Peasants on the lands belonging to her majesty, independently of the rights of the crown

Peasants on the lands confiscated to the

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Bondmen belonging to cathedral and parish churches

Peasants employed as labourers in the docks of the admiralty, or in other public works, about Labourers in the mines and in private manufactures

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Peasants on the lands assigned to the principal manufactures Labourers in the mines belonging to the


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To this number we may add the military list, which amounts to three hundred and fifty thousand men besides, neither the nobility nor clergy, who are computed at two hundred thousand, are subject to this capitation.

Foreigners, of whatever country or profession, are likewise exempt: as also the inhabitants of the conquered countries, namely, Livonia, Esthonia, Ingria, Carelia, and a part of Finland, the Ukraine, and the Don Cossacks, the Calmucks, and other Tartars, Samojedes, the Laplanders, the Ostiaks, and all the idolatrous people of Siberia, a country of greater extent than China.

By the same calculation, it is impossible that the total of the inhabitants of Russia should amount to less than twenty-four millions. At this rate, there are eight persons to every square mile. The English ambassador, whom I have mentioned before, allows only five; but he certainly was not furnished with such faithful memoirs as those with which I have been favoured.

Russia therefore is exactly five times less populous than Spain, but contains near four times the number of inhabitants; it is almost as populous as France or Germany; but, if we consider its vast extent, the number of souls is thirty times less.

There is one important remark to be made in regard to this enumeration, namely, that out of six million six hundred and forty thousand people liable to the poll-tax, there are about nine hundred thousand that belong to the Russian clergy, without reckoning either the ecclesiastics of the conquered countries, of the Ukraine, or of Siberia.

Therefore, out of seven persons liable to the poll-tax, the clergy have one; but, nevertheless, they are far from possessing the seventh part of the whole revenues of the state, as is the case in many other kingdoms, where they have at least a seventh of all estates; for their peasants pay a capitation to the sovereign; and the other taxes of the crown of Russia, in which the clergy have no share, are very considerable.


This valuation is very different from that of all other writers on the affairs of Russia; so that foreign ministers, who have transmitted memoirs of

this state to their courts, have been greatly mistaken. The archives of the empire are the only things to be consulted.

It is very probable, that Russia has been better peopled than it is at present; before the smallpox, that came from the extremities of Arabia, and the great pox that came from America, had spread over these climates, where they have now taken root. The world owes these two dreadful scourges, which have depopulated it more than all its wars, the one to Mahomet, and the other to Christopher Columbus. The plague, which is a native of Africa, seldom approached the countries of the North: besides, the people of those countries, from Sarmatia to the Tartars, who dwell beyond the great wall, having overspread the world by their irruptions, this ancient nursery of the human species must have been surprisingly diminished.

In this vast extent of country, there are said to be about seventy-four thousand monks, and five thousand nuns, notwithstanding the care taken by Peter the Great to reduce their number; a care worthy the legislator of an empire where the human race is so remarkably deficient. These thirteen thousand persons, thus immured and lost to the state, have, as the reader may have observed, seventy-two thousand bondmen to till their lands, which is evidently too great a number: there cannot be a stronger proof how difficult it is to eradicate abuses of a long standing.

I find, by a list of the revenues of the empire in 1735, that reckoning the tribute paid by the Tartars, with all taxes and duties in money, the sum total amounted to thirteen millions of rubles, which makes sixty-five millions of French livres, exclusive of tributes in kind. The moderate sum was at that time sufficient to maintain three hundred and thirty-nine thousand five hundred, as well sea as land forces but both the revenues and troops are augmented since that time.

The customs, diets, and manners of the Russians, ever bore a greater affinity to those of Asia than to those of Europe: such was the old custom of receiving tributes in kind, of defraying the expenses of ambassadors on their journies, and during their residence in the country, and of never appearing at church, or in the royal presence with a sword; an oriental custom, directly the reverse of that ridiculous and barbarous one amongst us, of addressing ourselves to God, to our king, to our friends, and to our women, with an offensive weapon, which hangs down to the bottom of the leg. The long robe worn on public days, had a more noble air than the short habits of the western nations of Europe. A vest lined and turned up with fur, with a long scimar, adorned with jewels for festival days; and those high turbans, which add to the stature, were much more striking to the eye than our perukes and close coats, and more suitable to cold climates; but this ancient dress of all nations seems to be not so well contrived for war, nor so convenient for working people. Most of

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