- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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The chief staple of trade has always been the valuable
furs, which the Russians bought from the natives, in
exchange for goods, meal, sugar, tobacco, tea, etc.
Now there is in addition a considerable trade in fish,
which is caught and salted, partly by natives, partly
by Russians, along the river down to its estuary in the
north. To this, as has been said, the market of the
goldfields has been added during the last century, and
this is not the least important.
There is also some agricultural population in this
district, but it is not yet very numerous ; it does not
become so until farther south, although it is certain
that even here there would be favourable conditions
for agriculture, cattle-raising, and dairy-farming. Our
hostess, Madame Kitmanov, has her own estate in the
neighbourhood of Yeniseisk, and it was her own butter,
her own cream and her own honey that we ate.
The inhabitants of a town like this are to a great
extent Russians, who originally came out, some as
colonists, but some again as exiles and convicts, and
have remained here permanently and have left descend
ants. As to the influence which the constant influx of
convicts in Siberia has had on the population and on their
descendants, somewhat exaggerated ideas seem to be
entertained. I met a foreign immigrant who said I did not
know what a horrible, barbarous country I had come to.
But he could tell me that it was a misfortune to be
condemned to live here, he knew that from twenty,
or it may have been thirty years’ experience (I don’t
remember the number) ; a man with higher intellectual
interests lives as it were in a desert, you see, for there
isn’t a decent person among them, they are criminals,
the whole lot of them ; and he pressed my hand warmly
in gratitude for my being a cultivated person who
understood him. Of course I had to express due sym

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