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Illustrated Description Of Russia

the List of Illustrations

CHAPTER XVIII
THE IMPERIAL GOVERNMENT


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Under Catherine II., the army was greatly augmented and improved. This able and ambitious princess increased the pay of the troops and officers, and gave them a new, more commodious, and elegant uniform, than that formerly in use. She formed the Cossacks into a light cavalry, which, after being successfully opposed to the Spahis of the Turks, has since distinguished itself in the great contests of more recent times. During the latter part of the reign of Catherine, the regular army amounted to about two hundred and fifty thousand men; and little was wanting to place it on a level with that of the surrounding powers, save the better organization of the commissariat department, and the choice of better-educated and more skilful native officers.

It is, however, to Alexander and Nicholas that the Russian army is indebted for the more efficient organization, discipline, and power, by which it is now distinguished. The momentous struggles in which the former was engaged called forth all the military resources of the empire ; many abuses were rectified, and improvements introduced; and the armies of Alexander were at length enabled to contend successfully with those of the greatest captain of the age. Under the emperor Nicholas, the discipline and organization of the army have been still further improved; and it is, at present, in a comparatively high state of efficiency.

The Russian army was newly organized, by an imperial ukase of the 9th of August, 1835. Down to that period, two large armies were maintained ; but those were then consolidated, and the staff of one of them reduced. The army is now divided into corps, divisions, brigades, regiments, battalions, and companies; the cavalry into squadrons, &c. A corps on full active footing is composed of three divisions of infantry and one of cavalry, with sometimes a division of reserve; the artillery of a corps consists of from one hundred and ten to one hundred and fifteen guns. A division is composed of two brigades, and a brigade of two regiments. A regiment in full ought to have four battalions, a battalion four companies, and a company should have between one hundred and seventy and two hundred men. All these numbers are seldom complete, except in the imperial guard and a few of the other corps.

According to the official reports for 1852, the armed force was in the following state: The corps of imperial guards, commanded by the grand-duke Alexander, the heir to the empire, is established in St. Petersburg, and for a distance of one hundred miles around that city. It consists of three divisions of infantry and one of reserve, of four divisions of cavalry, a large force of artillery, with from one hundred and twenty to one hundred and forty cannon, and a special body of field-engineers, sappers, and a pontoon corps. Next comes the corps of the grenadiers. Its headquarters are in the ancient city of Novgorod. Its regiments are established principally in the military colonies. This corps has three divisions in full of infantry, and one of cavalry; the park of artillery amounts to between one hundred and fifteen and one hundred and twenty pieces.

After these two separate corps come what is called the active army. It is composed of six corps (or nearly twenty divisions) of infantry, six divisions of regular cavalry, with an irregular one of Cossacks, &c, adjoined in time of war, and at least seven hundred pieces of artillery. This army is at present (1854) commanded by Prince Paschkiewitch, the governor-general of Poland, and commander-in-chief of the Russian forces employed in the Turkish war. Its headquarters are at Warsaw. It faces the western frontier of Europe exclusively. It is quartered from the Baltic, through Lithuania and Poland, to the Danube, the Black sea, and the frontiers of the military cavalry colonies in southern Russia. A separate corps occupies the city of Moscow and several surrounding governments.

The army of the Caucasus is composed of four divisions of infantry, one of regular cavalry, numerous irregular Cossacks of various denominations, and a body of mussulmans and militia (chiefly Circassians and Tartars) from among the natives. A large proportion of the regular troops forming this corps are said to be Poles, the policy of the government being to withdraw them from their own country. A division of infantry occupies Finland, and another is scattered through Siberia. This active army is backed by a reserve, composed of twenty-five brigades of infantry and two hundred and seventy squadrons of cavalry.

The military colonies for the infantry are formed principally in the government of Novgorod, and partly in those of Pskov and Vitepsk. They are divided into twenty-four brigades. The colonies for cavalry are in southern Russia, in the governments of Poltava, Ekatherinoslav, Kherson, in the Ukraine, &c. They amount to seventy-five squadrons. To these are to be added the sappers and artillery reserve, with fifty-four parks of heavy calibre destined for the siege of fortresses, the military engineers, and military workmen, with a numerous train.

Finally, there is the guard of the interior, formed of armed veterans, quartered in all the districts of Russia, and performing in the cities and boroughs the internal service. It amounts to fifty battalions, which, however, are not full. In addition, there is a corps of gendarmes, containing eight brigades, horse and foot, and spread over the whole empire. It is commanded by Count Orloff, whose function answers to that of chief of the secret police. The gendarmes fulfil the duties of the police of the army during war, and of a political police through the country at all times. The officers of this corps form in all circles and districts the knots of that vast net of espionage extended over Russia and the entire European continent, as well as throughout a great portion of Asia. They are in close connection with all the agents of the secret police.

The irregular cavalry consists principally of Cossacks. There are several denominations of them (as we have already mentioned, in the chapter on "Southern Russia"), derived mainly from the regions or the banks of the rivers along which they are settled. Their general and commander, or grand hetman, is nominally the grand-duke (Alexander), the heir to the imperial crown, but each tribe may have its own principal and subordinate chiefs. They are divided as follows : 1. The Cossacks of the Don or Tanais, who are the most numerous. 2. Those on the shores of the Black sea, called Tschernomortsy. 3. Those of the line of the Caucasus, mainly on the banks of the Kouban. 4. Those of the government of Astrakhan. 5. Those of the government of Orenburg and the neighboring districts, commonly called the Cossacks of the Volga. 6. Those of the river Ural (ancient Jaick). 7. Those of Siberia. 8. The Mesteheracks, who are a mixed race of Tartars. 9. The Cossacks of the sea of Azov. 10. Those of the Danube.

The Cossacks muster in all seven hundred and sixty-five squadrons, each containing a few more than one hundred men, of which more than a third can be concentrated. In time of war they are supported by detachments of Bashkirs, Calmucks, Buriats and Tungusi from. Siberia, mussulmans from the Trans-Caucasian provinces, Lesghians, &c. These Asiatic irregulars, as previously shown, form generally a kind of military posts or chain uniting the advancing army with the mother-country. Such was the case, for example, in 1813-1814, when they were extended from Siberia across the whole of Europe!

We may thus sum up the whole bulk of the armed land-forces of the empire as consisting of seventeen corps, with four thousand nine hundred companies of infantry, fourteen hundred and sixty-nine squadrons of cavalry, and three hundred and thirty batteries of heavy or light artillery— which, if full, would form an aggregate of over a million of men. More than a third of this number, however, must be deducted as not capable of being moved toward the extreme frontiers of the empire, as well as for incomplete numbers in the various battalions, companies, and squadrons. The remainder makes up the Russian warfaring army, which can be moved and directed by the order of a single man according to his sovereign will and pleasure. But natural impossibilities oppose and impede the concentration in one spot, and even in one region, of such enormous masses of men and animals. In the struggle with Napoleon, Alexander was unable to oppose more than two hundred thousand troops, and a still less number for the invasion of France in 1814; while in the Turkish war of 1828-'30 the Russian forces amounted to but one hundred and sixty thousand; but such numbers were required to fortify the principal points on the line of passage, that only twenty-one thousand were spared to cross the Balkan, and of these but fifteen thousand actually reached Adrianople. In the war of 1854, however, the imperial troops operating on the entire southern frontier greatly exceeded any former numbers.

Some idea of the appearance of the finest regiments of the regular troops may be drawn from the accompanying engraving, in which figure 1 represents a grenadier of the imperial guard ; 2, a chasseur of the guard; 3, a fifer of the guard ; 4, a grenadier of the horse-guard ; 5, a cuirassier; and 6, a hussar. In the more select regiments, the men and horses are classified in the most minute manner as to resemblance. In one cavalry regiment the horses are all black, in another they are all bay, &c. The men are arranged according to the color of their hair or beard, or of their eyes, and also the general shape of their features : so that in one regiment all have aquiline noses, and black eyes and beards ; and in another all have pug-noses, blue eyes, and red oeards—which latter class, by-the-way, describes the physiognomy and complexion of the genuine Muscovite.

Regular Troops of Russia.

Regular Troops of Russia.
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The general appearance of the irregular troops of the empire is shown in the accompanying group, in which figure 1 represents a Lesghian from western Daghestan : 2, a Don Cossack ; 3, a Circassian, in full dress; 4, a " Tartar-Cossack" of the Crimea; 5, a Cossack of the line of the Caucasus ; and 6, a Cossack of the Ural. The reader will bear in mind that the Circassians employed in the Russian service belong to the subdued tribes at the foot of the Caucasian mountains, a large portion of the mountain warriors being still hostile to the imperial rule.

Irregular Troops of Russia.

Irregular Troops of Russia.
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The foregoing gives a general idea of the Russian armed force. " It is undoubtedly strong for the defensive," says Count Gurowski, " but it is utterly impossible to throw these masses on Europe. Without mentioning the penury of the treasury—as on a war-footing the pay. is nearly quadrupled—to gather them together at any point within the frontier, would have the same effect as destruction by locusts for many hundred miles. The same result would take place if, in case of a war between France and Russia, the army of the czar should enter Germany, even as a friendly country. All would be destruction and desolation with friend as well as with foe. The region thus traversed would be reminded, not of Napoleon, but of the swarms of Attila—more disciplined, it is true, but, for the sake of existence and self-preservation, obliged to destroy and swallow all the resources within their reach. For such an impossible invasion of western Europe, the Russian masses might be divided into two parts, one entering Prussia and the other Austria. But such invasions in the present state of the world are impossibilities. Masses will be raised against masses, the invaded country stripped in advance of all resources to nourish the enemy, and, whatever may be the inborn gallantry of the Russian soldier—Napoleon himself admired it—no army in the world can be for ever invincible."

The drill of these forces is perhaps the best existing in Europe. But possibly they are overdrilled. Those acquainted with the mysteries of the military profession, affirm that in the firing of the Russian infantry as well as of the artillery, the principal object is a quick discharge — so quick, that neither the soldiers-of-the-line nor the artillerymen are able to take good aim ; and thus, in a battle, out of the immense number of shots, comparatively few are destructive.

The army is formed by means of conscription, out of the taxed classes of the population, such as merchants, citizen-burghers, artisans, workmen, free-peasants, and serfs—every individual belonging to them being liable to compulsory service, provided he be of the proper age and stature. The levies are ordinarily in the proportion of one or two to every five hundred males; but during war the proportion is at least as two or three to every five hundred, and sometimes as much as four, and even five, to five hundred. This last proportion, however, may be taken as the maximum levy, and is rarely exceeded. The number of recruits to be furnished by the-empire in general, and by each district in particular, is fixed according to the results of the preceding census. The nobles nominate such of their serfs as they please to complete their quotas, the only conditions being that they should have a good constitution, and be of the requisite size, and not less than eighteen nor more than thirty-five years of age; and, as idle, ill-disposed individuals are sure to be nominated in preference for recruits, those who are averse to the service endeavor to distinguish themselves by industry and good conduct.

The recruits are first sent to the recruiting-establishments, and thence forwarded to the corps to which they are assigned. Nobles, magistrates, clergymen, and students, are exempted from the service. Merchants and traders enrolled in the different guilds are also exempted. The levies furnished by the Cossacks are regulated by particular treaties; and many half-savage tribes are excused, partly on account of their diminutive size, and partly because of their great aversion to a military life. Generally, it is found that a levy of two on every five hundred males produces a supply of about ninety or a hundred thousand men. Substitutes are allowed, and may be effected by mutual consent, provided the noble do not oppose it. The period of service is twenty years in the imperial guard, and twenty-two in the other corps. Every individual, with his family, if he have one, becomes free the moment he is enrolled in the army. In case of desertion, he is again enslaved; but desertion is exceedingly rare in Russia. The imperial guard is recruited from the grenadiers; the latter from the infantry of the line and the light chasseurs.

A commoner can rise only to the grade of sergeant. A very extraordinary distinction in time of war may push him over the barrier, and make him an officer, with a possibility of further preferment. In time of peace, twelve years of service, combined with some natural capacity, can raise the son of a burgher to the grade of an officer. The grades of lieutenants and captains confer personal nobility, and with that of major it becomes hereditary. From the nobility exclusively are derived the body of officers in the army, while this class alone have access to the civil service. The choice between ,the two is free for any nobleman, but the military service has the precedency. A nobleman never begins his career as a common soldier. Numerous and various military establishments for every kind of military education, to which the nobles are almost exclusively admitted, prepare the youth from childhood practically as well as theoretically. The education consists of all the sciences connected with the military art, and with its highest branches, including the French language, Russian literature, history, national and universal, geography, &c. A cadet, having gone through all the classes, enters the army with the grade of second lieutenant. Those who have been educated in civil establishments, gymnasia and universities, entering as volunteers, are admitted as ensigns and cadets. They wear the uniform of the common soldiers, but with lace; are exempted, as all nobles are, from corporeal punishment; and, as soon as they master the rudiments of the service, become officers.

For the children of soldiers, and, above all, for their orphans, establishments are provided where they are received from their earliest childhood, and trained for the military service. There they are taught to read and write the vernacular language, with Russian history, the general outlines of geography, and also arithmetic and drawing. Then they enter the service for life, or nearly so. They are placed in the topographical and engineer's corps, and at the telegraphic stations, which, in Russia, are exclusively for military use, and under the immediate direction of the emperor.

The Russian army is supported at very little expense in time of peace. Exclusive of their pay, the higher class of officers receive considerable allowances, as mess-money, &c.; and they generally contrive to eke out their emoluments in various indirect ways. The pay of the subalterns is the most inadequute; and it is hardly possible for any one to serve as a subaltern in the cavalry, especially in the cavalry of the imperial guard, unless he have private resources. Officers are allowed, according to their rank, one or more servants (deutschisk), maintained by government, but equipped at the expense of their masters. They are taken from among the recruits, the least suitable for active service.

The pay of a common Russian soldier does not exceed five dollars a year! — and various deductions are made even from this miserable pittance. He receives a new uniform each year ; and is allowed, in addition, three barrels of flour, twenty-four pounds of salt, and a certain quantity of rye, barley, or oatmeal. On fete-days the soldiers of the guard receive a certain allowance of butchers' meat, but this is very rarely tasted by their fellows of the line. At home, the soldier is paid in paper; but when he crosses the frontier, he is paid in silver roubles : and as one of the latter is equivalent to four of the former, his pay when abroad is, of course, augmented in the same proportion. This may, perhaps, have been partly intended as a stimulus to the soldier to undertake offensive operations; but, besides having this effect, it was absolutely necessary, to enable him to subsist among foreigners without robbing. The cavalry-horses are very good; and, fodder being very cheap, they are well kept.

Soldiers leaving the army on the expiration of their compulsory service, are entitled to a small pension; and those who have been maimed or wounded are received and supported in some of the hospitals established with that view in different parts of the country. Soldiers who continue in the army after their term of compulsory service has expired, acquire several advantages. They receive, exclusive of the retiring pension to which they are entitled, double pay; and after five years voluntary service, they are entitled to a retiring pension equal to three times their original full pay.

The inadequate pay of the officers and men is the grand evil in relation to the Russian army. It compels all classes to resort to underhand methods of making money; and hence the jobbing and corruption of the first, and the thieving habits of the latter. Government is plundered in every possible way; and while the army loses in strength and efficiency, it may be questioned whether it would not be more advantageous, even in a pecuniary point, of view, for government to increase the pay of the officers and troops, so as to raise them above the necessity of indulging in practices injurious to the service, of the existence of which it is well aware, but at which, as matters now stand, it is obliged to wink.

Capital punishments are at all times rare in the Russian army, and are never inflicted except during war. In time of peace, culprits are uniformly condemned to transportation to Siberia, and to forced labor in the mines. Corporeal punishments may be ordered by the commanding officers of regiments. Soldiers who continue in the army after their full period of compulsory service is expired, can not be corporeally punished except by the command of a council of war.

Generally, the Russian soldiers are, in respect of bodily vigor, inferior perhaps to those of England. They have little enthusiasm ; and, in respect of activity and intelligence, are very far below those of England, France, and Prussia. On the other hand, however, they possess, in the greatest perfection, the two first qualities of a soldier—the most unflinching courage, and the most implicit obedience. Subjected from birth to a master whose will is their law, the habit of prompt and implicit obedience becomes, as it were, a part of themselves. Regardless of dangers or difficulties, they will attempt whatever they are ordered; and will accomplish all that the most undaunted resolution and perseverance can effect. They also endure, without a murmur, the greatest hardships and privations, and support themselves in situations where others would starve.

The military colonies of Russia are a sort of agricultural soldiers established by a ukase issued in 1818, agreeably to the suggestion of General Count Araktchief, the favorite of the emperor Paul and the companion of Alexander. The object was to create a military force at the least possible expense, by engrafting military service upon the labors of the peasants, modelled after the military colonies established by Austria between the Austro-Slavic and Turko-Slavic frontiers. For this purpose, certain districts belonging to the crown were selected in the environs of Lake Ilmen, in the government of Novgorod, and in some of the southern governments, the territory of which was distributed among the peasantry, at the rate of about fifteen deciatines, or forty-five acres of arable land to each head of a family, villages on an improved and uniform plan being at the same time erected for their accommodation. The stock and implements necessary for the cultivation of this land are furnished to the colonist by the crown, and he is charged with its cultivation, with contributing to the common magazine of the village, keeping up the roads, &c.; the surplus produce, after these outgoings and the provision for his family are deducted, being at his disposal. A soldier is assigned to each colonist, to be maintained by the latter; but the soldier is, in return, obliged, when not absent or engaged in duty, to assist the colonist in the labors of his farm. The colonists; as well as the soldiery, are deprived of their beards, and wear uni-. form, everything in the colony being subjected to military regulation. There is no restraint on the marriage of the soldiers; and their male children, and those of the colonists, are all bred up to be soldiers. The girls are educated in separate schools; and, though there be no regulation to that effect, are generally married to the young men belonging to the colonies. Exclusive of the principal soldiers already alluded to, there is in every cottage a substitute or supplementary soldier, generally a son of the colonist, who is bound to take the place of the principal soldier in the event of his death or sickness, so that the regiments distributed among the colonies can never want their full complement of men.

The insurrection of 1831, among the colonists of Novgorod and Pskov, together with the causes which led to it, is thus related by the count de Gurowski: " The military system was introduced with an iron hand, and an implacable rigidity akin to cruelty. Unmerciful corporeal punishments were daily occurrences. In the villages thus transformed the military officers forming the staff ruled most despotically. Every sort of labor, as well as every movement of the newly-enslaved people, was directed by an order from the military commandant. Thus, an order issued from the headquarters of a district, would appoint for the whole colony—for example, a day for ploughing, another for sowing, another for harvest, and all agricultural labor was similarly arranged. The whole rural population was bound under penalties to move on the same day—nay, at the same hour. A peasant could not go to market nor sell an egg without a permission from the officers. At the same time, neither his wife nor his daughter was safe from their lust. Assassination and punishments for it happened very oftenr but the system took root. However, during the Polish campaign, in the spring of 1831, when the colonies became liberated from the pressure of the grenadiers quartered among them, a terrible insurrection broke out. The greater part of the officers were killed. In several cases they were sunk in the earth to the waist, and then mowed with the scythe! Despair and veugeance animated the wronged, the oppressed. These colonial and other insurrections give a foretaste of the character of a future vengeful uprising of the Russian serfs and peasants.

" Finally, the rebellion was quenched in blood by Count Orloff. Numbers were decimated on the spot, and hundreds of families transported to Siberia. Less cruel discipline, however, was thenceforth introduced, and it would seem that the next generation had become accustomed to the heavy yoke. Things now appear to go on there rather smoothly ; but the curse of the peasants is poured out with every breath. The tradition of better times of old, and of ancient liberty, glimmers still at the domestic hearth. The time will probably come, and is perhaps not far distant, when these colonies, organized to shelter and enforce despotism, will become a deadly weapon in the hand of the avenger."

The Russian navy is composed of three fleets or squadrons. Each squadron has a three-decker of from a hundred to a hundred and twenty guns, and eight smaller two-deckers, of from seventy to ninety guns, with six frigates and a very few steamers and other smaller vessels, sloops, schooners, &c. Three squadrons form the fleet of the Baltic, and two that of the Black sea. Aside from these, there is a small flotilla in the Caspian sea, and a steamer and a few other vessels in the sea of Aral, in independent Tartary, where Russia is extending her influence.

In the Baltic, as well as in the Euxine and the sea of Azov, there are numerous gunboats. All the vessels are well manned, but the quality of the men does not correspond with their numbers. Russia, having only a very slender commercial marine, has no great number of sailors, or of masters and mates. The latter are nearly all foreigners on the small number of Russian commercial vessels, notwithstanding the existence of a law according to which the master of a Russian vessel ought to be a native Russian. But this law is evaded, as there is no possibility whatever of finding such men. The sailors for the navy are selected principally from among the people living along the shores of the Baltic, the Euxine, and the sea of Azov, and from among the boatmen on the Don and the Volga. Greeks and Armenians may be found among the number. All these put together do not furnish, however, a third part of the required number, and the remainder of the crews is composed of men who, previous to enlisting, had never been on water, except perhaps in a ferry-boat. A great many Jewish conscripts are thus employed. The mass of the crews are in a season transformed into sailors by mere drill and force of discipline. The greater number can not even swim. The vessels of the fleets in the Baltic can scarcely be kept four months on the high seas, and those in the Euxine but four or six weeks longer. This is consequently the whole time which can be devoted to practising naval exercises and manoeuvres. The remainder of the year, the crews are garrisoned in harbors, and trained in the military land-exercise. Thus, the greater part of the crews are not only neither real nor skilful sailors or gunners, but form scarcely second-rate infantry.

The officers are educated from childhood in special nautical establishments, and most of them, at least theoretically, are as capable and as well informed in all the specialities of the duty as those of any other service whatever.

Russia is indebted for her naval power, as she is for her ascendency by land, her civilization, and, indeed, everything else, to the creative genius of Peter the Great. Previously to his accession, Russia had no seaport, other than Archangel, and did not possess a single gunboat. As soon, however, as Peter had acquired a footing on the Baltic, he set about creating a navy; and, the better to qualify himself for the task of its construction, he visited Holland, where he not only made himself acquainted with the principles of naval architecture, but with the practical business of a ship's carpenter, by working himself at this employment! The monarchs since Peter, and especially Catherine II. and the emperor Nicholas, have all exerted themselves to increase and improve the fleet; and it is now, perhaps, in as high a state of efficiency as it is likely to attain, under the disadvantages of which we have already spoken.

The vessels, however, have little uniformity in their construction, some being as heavy as old Dutch galliots, while others are modelled on English and American patterns. The material for the hulls, which is mostly oak, is inferior; not that there is a scarcity of ship-timber in Russia, but that the navy-yards and arsenals are under the same system of venality and peculation which pervades all other branches of the administration. Thus the vessels last only from ten to fifteen years. In general, the Russian navy is to be regarded as a defensive wooden wall, which can never be transformed into a formidable weapon of offence against Europe, or be made to act single-handed against any of the maritime powers, with the exception of Sweden, Turkey, and the like smaller ones.

An old proverbial distribution of capacities respecting the officers among the various grades of the service in Russia, assigns " the dandy to the cavalry, the learned man to the artillery, the drunkard to the navy, and the stupid to the infantry." So it was once, but so it is no longer, at least with respect to the infantry and navy. The infantry-officers, though they do not belong to the higher aristocratic class, are for the greater part well educated and tolerably well bred. The second son of the emperor, the grand-duke Constantine, is the grand-admiral and now the minister or secretary of the navy. From childhood he has been thoroughly educated for this purpose. This has given a stimulus to the service. Educated and well-bred youths, of higher family connections, enter it continually, and thus its ancient disreputable character is almost wholly changed.

Owing to the low state of civilization in most parts of the Russian empire, and the want of manufactures and large towns, the public revenue is by no means so great as might be supposed from the vast extent of the empire, and the magnitude of the population. In consequence, however, of the cheapness of most of the necessary articles in Russia, and the small rates of pay of the soldiers and other public functionaries, her limited revenue goes a great way, and she is able to meet outgoings that elsewhere could not be met with less than twice or three times the sum.

In the reign of Alexis-Michailovich, father of Peter the Great, the annual revenue of the government was but five millions of silver roubles, notwithstanding which his court was one of the most magnificent in Europe. He maintained a numerous army, and left, at his death, considerable -sums of money. At the close of the reign of Peter the Great, the revenues had doubled, being over ten millions of roubles. The poll-tax produced four millions three hundred thousand roubles; the customs, one million two hundred thousand ; the tax on brandy, one million ; and the salt-tax, seven hundred thousand. In 1770, under Catherine II., the revenue was over one hundred millions, and at a later period of her reign it reached one hundred and seventy millions. In 1804, the revenue approached one hundred and nine millions. At the present time it is not under five hundred millions of roubles annually.

The most important article of the revenue is the farming out of the manufacture of brandy, which produces one hundred and thirty millions of roubles. The customs occupy the next rank, and exceed one hundred millions of roubles; the poll-tax is about eighty millions; the obrak, or land-tax, produces from thirty to forty millions; the tax on guilds, or on the capital of merchants, from twenty to twenty-five millions ; the postoffice about fifteen millions; patents, three or four millions; stamps, three or four millions ; mines, twenty millions. To this must be added the appanages, the rents of the farms, the monopoly of tobacco, the duty on cards, the imposts on salt, and the crown manufactories, making in the aggregate the annual amount of five hundred millions of roubles previously mentioned.

The taxes, it will be seen, are partly farmed, and partly collected by government-officers. There is, as already stated, in every government, a council charged with the administration of everything pertaining to the finances.

Our information with respect to the expenditures of the Russian empire is less accurate than that relating to its income, most topics connected therewith being involved in a mystery which it is not always possible to penetrate. It is likewise evident, from the very nature of the government, that the official reports, especially in time of war, are not to be relied upon in the same degree as those emanating from the financial department of our own country or that of England. In time of peace, however, the income and expenditures of Russia are understood to be nearly equal; but during war, or on extraordinary occasions, involving an increase of expenditure, the ordinary revenue is quite insufficient to meet the outgoings, and it is usual both to increase the rate of taxation and to resort to loans. The expense of the army and navy (the latter being about one fifth or one sixth part of the former) amounts to more than half the revenue. The next great items are the interest and sinking-fund on account of the public debt; the civil list, internal administration, public works, &c.; the diplomatic service, and various other items.

According to the report of the minister of finance, the public debt of Russia amounted, in 1853, to upward of three hundred millions of dollars, which the expenses of the war of 1854 must greatly increase.

Russian Silver Rouble.

Russian Silver Rouble.
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Sears, Robert. An Illustrated Description of the Russian Empire. New York: Robert Sears, 1855