« PreviousContinue »
formally inaugurated: Nicholas II. to any sum. It could also change wheeled away
the first barrowful the period of contracts and terms of earth and placed the first stone of agreement. in position. Thereafter a start The total length of the railway was made from either end.
is 7112 versts. 1 It has been To carry on this undertaking, a divided into seven working secCommittee was appointed by the tions : these arelate Emperor Alexander III. It 1. Tcheliabinsk to river Ob, 1328 was to consist, amongst others, of versts; total estimated cost, inthe Ministers of Interior, of Agri- clusive of rolling-stock and rails, culture and State Domains, of 47 million roubles. Finance, of Ways and Communi 2. Ob to Irkutsk, 1754 versts ; cations, and of War, and the estimated cost, 73 million roubles. Director of the Admiralty. The 3. Irkutsk to Mîsovskaya, 292 present Emperor was elected its versts; estimated cost, 22 million first president by his father; and roubles. when, later on, he had to ascend 4. Mîsovskaya to Srjetensk, the throne, he insisted on holding 1009 versts; estimated cost, 53 this position along with his other million roubles. arduous duties. This Committee 5. Srjetenskto Khabarovka, 2000 had no executive power; it was versts; estimated cost, 117 million simply administrative, and when roubles. in difficulty, was required to refer 6. Khabarovka to Grafskaya, to its imperial founder,
347 versts; estimated cost, 18 The first natural instinct was million roubles. to hand over the execution of this 7. Grafskaya to Vladivostock, project to the Direction of the 382 versts; estimated cost, 17 milGovernment railways. Later, lion roubles : being in all, roughly, however, it was thought that its 350 million roubles. gigantic nature would exhaust the Such, at least, is the original resources of that department, and plan and estimate. accordingly in June 1893 the direct be of interest to mention here construction of the railway was that, while on the comparatively taken out of the hands of the simple first section the actual Minister of Ways and Communica cost has been some nine million tions, and a new distinct branch roubles less than the estimate, of his department was instituted to on the second section, which incarry the matter through. This volves cutting a way through the new branch was thus, in a sense, Taiga or forest zone, the estimate under the Minister of Ways and
will be exceeded. The third secCommunications, and had power to tion will be the most difficult, and, see to the purchase of the rolling- comparatively, the most costly, as stock, as also to arrange direct the road will have to be cut contracts, without being limited through the cliffs which rise from
But it may
1 Calculating the verst as į mile, and the rouble as 28. roughly, we find that the following figures represent the length and estimated cost of the different sections respectively: (1) 885 miles, £4,700,000; (2) 1169 miles, £7,300,000; (3) 195 miles, £2,200,000; (4) 673 miles, £5,300,000; (5) 1333 miles, £11,700,000; (6) 231 miles, £1,800,000; (7) 255 miles, £1,700,000. Total length and estimate_4741} miles, £35,000,000.
the margin of Lake Baikal to a One of the platforms was literconsiderable height.
ally crowded with a mass of homeBy the 15th June 1895 one less humanity, drawn mostly from quarter of the line had been laid; the southern and more thickly but it is improbable that the whole populated parts of Russia, such as will be finished before 1905. The the government of Poltava. It following figures show the num was nearly midnight, and in small bers of workmen employed on the family groups the emigrants had West, Middle, Trans-Baikalian, clustered round their few belongand Ussuri divisions of the line: ings, which were stowed away in 36,629 nayvies, 13,080 carters, sacks and baskets,-more rarely, 5851 surfacemen, 4310 carpenters, wooden boxes. Over their little 4096 stone-masons, 2091 riveters, heaps of worldly goods they had
-in round numbers, 62,000 men. spread sheepskins or blankets of Also, to meet the demand for coarse texture : piled up on these official servants and experts, the children lay and slept, wrapped technical schools of engineering in their shubas (sheepskin coat), have been opened in the towns with the white hide outermost. of Omsk, Krasnoyarsk, and Commonly one parent rested by Khabarovka.
them and the other watched, and The other Departments of State it was hard to find a group without a have combined to lend a helping babe. Some men and women wore hand. Thus the Ministry of Ag- a timid air, born of sheer belplessriculture and State Domains sup ness. Most of the men, however, plies and delivers gratis whatever had the dull dogged look of driven timber may be required in the cattle: an intelligent face you construction of the railway. The would have sought more successWar Department has employed fully amongst their wives. Thus many of its men in survey and they reclined and slept, or talked map - making, especially on the in low subdued voices, while beAmur, so as to get the best line hind them loomed the dark red through Khabarovka. In short, it waggons with their significant inis a work on which official Russia scription, “8 horses — 40 men,” is quietly priding herself, and look- that were to carry them from the ing forward to the time when she land of their nativity. Meanwill have a railroad twice as long while men were at work on these as that which now unites New mobilisation cars, fitting up an inYork and San Francisco.
ternal arrangement of boards, in
order to render them more fit for The train, then, that, passing human habitation during the week along the continuation of the or so of railway journey to the Samara-Miass line, conducts the East. traveller on his way towards far As this emigration question asSiberia, commences its journey at sumed somewhat alarming proporTula. Here it was that we first tions during the past summer, it came into contact with an Eastern may be as well to offer a few emigration movement that has, remarks upon it. during the past summer, been at For several years this moveonce so sad and so remarkable. ment to the East has been in pro
1 The average cost of laying one verst of the railway is 22,000 roubles (£2200).
In some very slight form lation of the Amur district, regulait may also be said to be in opera- tions have been drawn up to tion all the year long; but May, permit of the sale of the State June, and July are the months lands in that territory. The prinduring which the crush has com- cipal idea underlying these regulamonly been most severe. In every tions is to ensure that the State way the Government has offered lands pass as private property only encouragement to intending set to those people who really wish and tlers : they are taken at rates re have the powers and capability to duced enormously below the third- work them. The maximum quanclass fares—the actual price which tity of land that can be sold to one they pay being 3 roubles per 1000 buyer under the new regulations is versts.1 Those who come from the not defined : all that is stated is more northerly parts are conveyed that while allotments not exceedby steamer from Kazan to Perm ing 400 desiatines are to be made for l} roubles. A formal permis- by the military governor, petitions sion is indeed required in the case for sale of land in larger quantiof every peasant, for which he may ties are to be presented with reahave to wait some time; but this sons to the chief of the district.
is solely to prevent Those who receive an agreement absconding on the part of debtors. for the sale of land have to deposit Once this has been obtained, the one-half of the sum in the local arrangements permit of even the treasury, whereupon an arrange. poorest peasant going.
ment is made for the delivery of The substance of the regulations the land for three years' use and that underlie this emigration move- profit. To obtain full proprietorment may here be briefly outlined.ship, the following further condiIn the governments of Tobolsk and tion is obligatory-viz., that in the Tomsk a grant of 15 desiatines course of three years the buyer (desiatine=2.86 English acres) of shall expend in the working of the suitable land is made to every man, land and in furnishing the necesand in some cases an additional sary plant, a sum, for an allotment grant of not more than three desia- not exceeding 100 desiatines, of tines of forest. In the govern- not less than the cost of it on the ments of Yenesei and Irkutsk the price of purchase. For allotments extent of the grant is determined from 100 to 400 desiatines the sum by the quality of the land. This thus expended must be not less than land is conveyed to the settlers on twice the cost; above 400 desialetters of allotment, and whilst re tines, four times the cost. For the maining State property, will be for non-fulfilment of these conditions, their perpetual benefit. The sale the allotment is taken back, and and mortgage of such land is for the money received is kept as rent. bidden, and all similar transac The price fixed is 6 roubles the tions are defined as of no effect. desiatine within 20 versts of the Careful maps have been already large towns in Eastern Siberia and prepared in connection with this in certain specially fertile places. movement at considerable cost, At other points the land is sold at showing the population and physi- the rate of 3 roubles the desiatine, cal features of each region.
while a small addition is made for Owing to the very slender popu- survey expenses.
1 1.e., less than 1s. per 100 miles.
In cases of dire extremity, This year the tide set in early, grants of money without interest and between the months of Januup to 100 roubles are made; while ary and May 170,000 people had during the first three years the already passed through Tcheliasettler is exempt from taxes. The binsk-in May alone, 100,000; for plan commonly followed is, that a period of about a month, the on arrival at Tcheliabinsk, on the daily number of incomers was farther side of the Urals, the 2000. The population of the settlers are arranged into parties above-mentioned town is 17,000, and sent under superintendence to and on a certain day in May there the locality that is to be colonised were just so many settlers camping by them.
out around the station and along That the numbers had been the railway-line, waiting for further gradually rising each year was in transportation. The result was no way remarkable ; but the sud- that the organisation of the young den increase that set in last spring Siberian railway was quite unable was quite unlooked for. It par- to cope with this immense human took of the nature of a wild stam- flood. There was neither rollingpede. How it affected the average stock nor officials sufficient to conRussian may be judged from the duct the settler-companies to their following incident. A gentleman A gentleman destination.
In time more wagpersonally known to myself, while gons were got out from Russia, staying at his country residence, the question was faced, and very was informed one morning that soon that large population was his cook and coachman desired to moved on-not, however, before speak with him.
These two men, cholera, typhus, and other epiwho had been a lengthy period in demics had broken out, and many his service and were the recipients had died. The question assumed of no mean wage, astonished him so serious an aspect that a Secreby quietly intimating that they tary of State was sent out to inwere leaving for Siberia. Having quire into this matter : having arknown them many years he ventured rived on the spot, he at once gave to expostulate with them, but his orders for the cessation of all suggestion that perhaps they were emigration, and proceeded persondiscontented with their wage and ally to make fuller investigations present circumstances was instantly and arrangements. As a result, scouted as quite out of the ques- by the end of the summer praction. He then shared with them tically the whole government of what he knew about the general Tobolsk had been settled, and the disorganisation that had overtaken Taiga or virgin forest there is the movement during the early part being surveyed and examined with of May of last year, with its sad a view to bringing under cultivaattendant circumstances, telling tion land occupied by it. The them in all the truth, not so much Secretary's son described to me from any wish to retain them in the interest he had in seeing the his service as from his personal different settlements in various interest in them. It was in vain : stages of growth-some with only their only reply was, “ Every one four-and-twenty hours of history, is going, and we must go too.' others three or four days old, and
1 The figures for the year 1892 were, roughly, 100,000; for 1893, 150,000 ; for 1894, about 180,000.
others again whose existence dated Quickly we fly through the from several weeks back. Those
Those government of Penza, to whose emigrants who wish to go to the prosperity a multitude of windAmur of course perform the jour- mills testify. Acres of rye creep ney by sea (forty-five days) from close up to the railway track and Odessa ; but there were families extend unbroken out of sight. At settled in Tobolsk government length we reach the Volga, Russia's last summer who had come back "most kindly nurse. overland from that distant country, waterway seems dark and muddy being discontented with the grant from the height of the noble iron they had received there. In one bridge that through 600 sajens 1 case a family, after spending all spans her breadth. The low left they had (3000 roubles) on the bank, flooded at parts and thickly journey to the Amur district and wooded with small shrubs and trees back, had settled down in Tobolsk that hug the river's brink, soon penniless.
disappears, in contrast with the The journey from Tula towards other bank, in height 100 feet or Siberia cannot be called interest so, covered with luxuriant vegetaing. A painfully flat landscape, tion; and you may even see a monotony of scenery, everywhere scrap of sandy beach from which the tracks of the settler: that is the river has retreated, lying beall. Thus at Riajsk one side of side the dark current. the platform presented the same We pass a village. Its most picture of frightened incarnations conspicuous object is the church, of misery, huddling together against with whitened walls and two green the rain that came down in torrents, domes. You notice that it holds and crossing themselves at every a central place; you might almost lightning-flash and thunder-peal. fancy that the village had grown We leave them, and the outlook is up around it as nucleus. The replaced by a broad sweep of land wooden huts, with their brown that extends on either side to the roofs of thatch, lighter in colour horizon : hedgeless and brown, where the straw is of more recent where the soil has lately been up-date, stand separate in disconturned, but verdant also where one nected lines. The roads on which may distinguish the young corn. they abut preserve in part their Occasionally we pass through a primitive affinity with the surstrip of wood whose trees exhibit rounding plain
grass - covered a greenness that may almost be where in their breadth they have felt: it is the beginning of the not yet been trampled underfoot, Russian spring. Thereafter we black where some heavy wheel has traverse wide plains through which rudely cut them up. A few the railway track has been so youngsters in bright red shirts simply led : the telegraph wires lend colour and activity to the decrease in number, and one feels
On the outskirts of the that the world is being left behind. village each peasant owns a tiny There also, at distances of about 100 plot, enclosed by stakes, which yards apart, is stacked in 10-feet form the basis of a wall of wickerlengths the wooden hoarding that work. Inside, you see, perhaps, in winter serves to shield the line two horses or a cow ; it may be from the fierce drifting of the snow. only straw.
At the corner you
1 Sajen=7 English feet; the actual length of the bridge is 4375 feet.