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THE ADVANCE OF RUSSIA IN ASIA
 THE Emperor of Russia, lord of his people, absolute autocrat over some one hundred and twenty-five
millions of the human race, to-day stands master not only of half the soil of Europe but of more
than a third of the far greater continent of Asia. To gain some definite idea of the total extent of
this vast empire it may suffice to say that it is considerably more than double the size of Europe,
and nearly as large as the whole of North America. The tales already given will serve to show how
the European empire of Russia gradually spread outward from its early home in the city and state of
Novgorod until it covered half the continent. How Russia made its way into Asia has been described
in part in the story of the conquest of Siberia. The remainder needs to be told.
It is now more than three hundred years since the Cossack robber Yermak invaded Siberia, and more
than two centuries since that vast section of Northern Asia was added to the Russian empire. The
great river Amur, flowing far through Eastern Siberia to the Pacific, was discovered in 1643 by a
party of Cossack hunters, who launched their boats on this magnificent stream and sailed down it to
the sea. It was Chinese soil through which it ran, its waters
 flowing through the province of Manchuria, the native land of the emperors of China.
But to this the Russian pioneers paid little heed. They invaded Chinese soil, built forts on the
Amur, and for forty years war went on. In the end they were driven out, and China came to her own
Thus matters stood until the year 1854. Six years before, an officer with four Cossacks had been
sent down the river to spy out the land. They never returned, and not a word could be had from China
as to their fate. In the year named the Russians explored the river in force. China protested, but
did not act, and the whole vast territory north of the stream was proclaimed as Russian soil. Forts
were built to make good the claim, and China helplessly yielded to the gigantic steal. Since then
Russia has laid hands on an extensive slice of Chinese territory which lies on the Pacific coast far
to the south of the Amur, and has forcibly taken possession of the Japanese island of Saghalien. Her
avaricious eyes are fixed on the kingdom of Corea, and the whole of Manchuria may yet become Russian
DOWAGER CZARINA OF RUSSIA
Siberia is by no means the inhospitable land of ice which the name suggests to our minds. That
designation applies well to its northern half, but not to the Siberia of the south. Here are vast
fertile plains, prolific in grain, which need only the coming railroad facilities to make this
region the granary of the Russian empire. The great rivers and the numerous lakes of the country
abound in valuable fish; large forests of useful timber are everywhere found; fur-bearing animals
yield a rich harvest in
 the icy regions of the north; the mineral wealth is immense, including iron, gold, silver, platinum,
copper, and lead; precious stones are widely found, among them the diamond, emerald, topaz, and
amethyst; and of ornamental stones may be named malachite, jasper, and porphyry, from which
magnificent vases, tables, and other articles of ornament are made. The region on the Amur and its
tributaries is particularly valuable and rich, and a great population is destined in the future to
find an abiding-place in this vast domain.
South of Siberia lies another immense extent of territory, stretching across the continent, and
comprising the great upland plain known as the steppes. On this broad expanse rain rarely falls, and
its surface is half a desert, unfit for agriculture, but yielding pasturage to vast herds of cattle,
horses, and sheep, the property of wandering tribes. Here is the great home of the nomad, and from
these broad plains conquering hordes have poured again and again over the civilized world. From here
came the Huns, who devastated Europe in Roman days; the Turks, who later overthrew the Eastern
Empire; and the Mongols, who, led by Genghis and Tamerlane, committed frightful ravages in Asia and
for centuries lorded it over Russia.
To-day the greater part of this vast territory belongs to China. But westward from Chinese Mongolia
extends a broad region of the steppes, bordering upon Europe on the west, and traversed by numerous
wandering tribes known by the name of the Kirghis hordes. For many years Russia, the great
 annexer, has been quietly extending her power over the domain of the hordes, until her rule has
become supreme in the land of the Kirghis, which in all maps of Europe is now given as part of
One by one military posts have been established in this semi-desert realm, the wandering tribes
being at first cajoled and in the end defied. The glove of silk has been at first extended to the
tribes, but within it the hand of iron has always held fast its grasp. The simple-minded chiefs have
easily been brought over to the Russian schemes. Some of them have been won by money and soft words;
others by some mark of distinction, such as a medal, a handsome sabre, a cocked bat or a gold-laced
coat. Rather than give these up some of them would have sold half the steppes. They have signed
papers of which they did not understand a word, and given away rights of whose value they were
Thus insidiously has the power of the emperor made its way into the steppes, fort after fort being
built, those in the rear being abandoned as the country became subdued and new forts arose in the
south. Cities have risen around some of these forts, of which may be mentioned Kopal and Vernoje,
which to-day have thousands of inhabitants.
"Russia is thus surrounding the Kirgheez hordes with civilization," says the traveller Atkinson,
"which will ultimately bring about a moral revolution in this country. Agriculture and other
branches of industry will be introduced by the Russian peas-ant, than whom no man can better adapt
himself to circumstances."
 Michie, another traveller, gives in brief the general method of the Russian advance.. It will be
seen to be similar to that by which the Indian lands of the western United States were gained. "The
Cossacks At Russian stations make raids on their own account on the Kirgheez, and subject them to
rough treatment. An outbreak occurs which it requires a military force to subdue. An expedition for
this purpose is sent every year to the Kirgheez steppes. The Russian outposts are pushed farther and
farther south, more disturbances occur, and so the front is year by year extended, on pretence of
keeping peace. This has been the system pursued by the Russian government in all its aggressions in
But this does not tell the whole story of the Russian advance in Asia. South of the Kirghis steppes
lies another great and important territory, known as Central Asia, or Turkestan. Much of this region
is absolute desert, wide expanses of sand, waterless and lifeless, on which to halt is to court
death. Only swift-moving troops of horsemen, or caravans carrying their own supplies, dare venture
upon these arid plains. But within this realm of sand lie a number of oases whose soil is well
watered and of the highest fertility. Two mighty rivers traverse these lands, the
Amu-Daria—once known as the Oxus—and the Syr-Daria—formerly the
Jaxartes,—both of which flow into the Sea of Aral. It is to the waters of these streams that
the fertility of the oases is due, they being diverted from their course to irrigate the land.
Three of the oases are of large size. Of these
 Shiva has the Caspian Sea as its western boundary, Bokhara lies more to the east, while northeast of
the latter extends Khokand. The deserts surrounding these oases have long been the lurking-places of
the Turkoman nomads, a race of wild and warlike horsemen, to whom plunder is as the breath of life,
and who for centuries kept Persia in alarm, carrying off hosts of captives to be sold as slaves.
The religion of Arabia long since made its way into this land, whose people are fanatical
Mohammedans. Its leading cities, Khiva, Bokhara, and Samarcand, have for many centuries been centres
of bigotry. For ages Turkestan remained a land of mystery. No European was sure for a moment of life
if he ventured to cross its borders. Vambery, the traveller, penetrated it disguised as a dervish,
after years of study of the language and habits of the Mohammedans, yet be barely escaped with life.
It is pleasant to be able to say that this state of affairs has ceased. Russia has curbed the
violence of the fanatics and the nomads, and the once silent and mysterious land is now traversed by
the iron horse.
The first step of Russian invasion in this quarter was made in 1602. In that year a Russian force
captured the city of Khiva, but was not able to hold its prize. In 1703, during the reign of Peter
the Great, the Khan of Khiva placed his dominions under Russian rule, and during the century Khiva
continued friendly, but after the opening of the nineteenth century it became bitterly hostile.
Meanwhile Russia was making its way towards the Caspian and Aral seas. In 1835 a fort was built on
 the eastern shore of the Caspian and several armed steamers were placed on its waters. Four years
later war broke out with Khiva, and the khan was forced to give up some Russian prisoners he had
seized. In 1847 a fort was built on the Sea of Aral, at the mouth of the Syr-Daria, whose waters
formed the only safe avenue to the desert-girdled khanate of Khokand. Steamers were brought in
sections from Sweden, being carried with great labor across the desert to the inland sea, on whose
banks they were put together and launched. Armed with cannon, they quickly made their appearance on
the navigable waters of the Syr.
The Amu-Daria is not navigable, so that the Syr at that time formed the only ready channel of
approach to Khokand, and from this to the other khanates, none of which could be otherwise reached
without a long and dangerous desert march. Russia thus, by planting herself at the mouth of the Syr,
had gained the most available position from which to begin a career of conquest in Central Asia.
War necessarily followed these steps of invasion. In 1853 the Russians besieged and captured the
fort of Ak Mechet, on the Syr, thought by its holders to be impregnable. Up the river, bordered on
each side by a narrow band of vegetation from which a desert spread away, the Russians gradually
advanced, finally planting a military post within thirty-two miles of Tashkend, the military key of
Such was the state of affairs in 1862, when, war arose between the khanates themselves, and the Emir
of Bokhara invaded and conquered Khokand.
Rus-  sia looked on, awaiting its opportunity. It came at length in an appeal from the merchants of
Tashkend for protection. The protection came in true Russian style, a Cossack force marching into
and occupying the town, which has since then remained in Russian hands. The movement of invasion
went on until a large portion of Khokand was seized.
This audacious procedure of the Muscovites, as the Emir of Bokhara regarded it, roused that ruler to
a high pitch of fury and fanaticism. He imprisoned Colonel Struve, an eminent Russian astronomer who
was on a mission to his capital, and declared a holy war against the invading infidels.
The emir had little fear of his foes, having what he considered two impassable lines of defence. Of
these the first was the desert, which enclosed his land as within a wall of sand. The second, and in
his view the more impregnable, was the large number of saints that lay buried in Bokharan soil,
before whose graves the infidel host would surely be stayed.
He probably soon lost faith in the saints, for the Russians quickly drove his troops out of Khokand
and then invaded Bokhara itself, defeating his troops near the venerable and famous city of
Samarcand, of which they immediately afterwards took possession. These infidel assaults soon brought
the holy war to an end, the emir being forced to cede Sarnarcand and three other places to Russia,
the four being so chosen as to give the invaders full military control of the country.
This disaster, which fell upon Bokhara in 1868, was repeated in Khiva in 1873. Bokharan troops aided
 the Russians, and Bokhara was rewarded with a generous slice of the conquered territory. Khiva was
overthrown as quickly as the other oases had been, and the whole of Central Asia became Russian
soil. It is true that a shadow of the old government is maintained, the khans of Bokhara and Khiva
still occupying their thrones. But they are mere puppets to move as the Czar of Russia pulls the
strings. As for Khokand, it has disappeared from the map of Asia, being replaced by the Russian
province of Ferghana.
We have thus in few words told a long and vital story, that of the steps by which Russia gained its
strong foothold in Asia, and extended its boundaries from the Ural Mountains and Caspian Sea to the
Pacific Ocean and the boundaries of China, Persia, and India, all of which may yet become part of
the vast Russian empire, if what some consider the secret purpose of Russia be carried out.
Asia has been won by the sword; it is being held by other influences. Schools have been founded
among the Kirghis, and a newspaper is printed in their language. Their plundering habits have been
suppressed, agriculture is encouraged, and luxuries are being introduced into the steppes, with the
result of changing the ideas and habits of the nomads. Thriving Cossack colonies have grown up on
the plains, and the wandering barbarians behold with wonder the ways and means of civilization in
The same may be said of Turkestan, in which violence has been suppressed and industry
encour-  aged, while the Russian population, alike of the steppes and of the oases, is rapidly increasing. A.
railroad penetrates the formerly mysterious land, trains roll daily over its soil, carrying great
numbers of Asiatic passengers, and an undreamed-of activity of commerce has taken the place of the
old-time plundering raids of the half-savage Turkoman horsemen.
The Russian is thoroughly adapted to deal with the Asiatic. Half an Asiatic himself, in spite of his
fair complexion, he knows how to bade the arts and overcome the prejudices of his new subjects. The
Russian diplomatist has all the softness and suavity of his Asiatic congeners. He conforms to their
customs and allows them to delay and prevaricate to their hearts' content. He is an adept in the art
of bribery, has emissaries everywhere, and is much too deeply imbued with this Asiatic spirit for
the bluntness of European methods. "You must beat about the bush with a Russian," we are told. "You
must flatter them and humbug them. You must talk about everything but the thing. If you want to buy
a horse you must pretend you want to sell a cow, and so work gradually round to the point in view."
Thus the shrewd Russian has gained point after point from his Oriental neighbors, and has succeeded
in annexing a vast territory while keeping on the friendliest of terms with his new subjects. He has
respected their prejudices, left their religions untouched, dealt with them in their own ways, and
is rapidly planting the Muscovite type of
civiliza-  tion where Asiatic barbarism had for untold ages prevailed.
No man can predict the final result of these movements. Asia has been in all ages the field of great
invasions and of the sudden building up of immense empires. But the movements of the Muscovite
conquerors have none of the torrent rush of those great invasions of the past. The Russian advances
with extreme caution, takes no risks, and makes sure of his game before he shows his hand. He
prepares the ground in front before taking a step forward, and all that he leaves in his rear falls
into the strong folds of the imperial net. Gold and diplomacy are his weapons equally with the
sword, and in the progress of his arms we seem to see Europe marching into Asia with a solid and