Francis Lieber.

Library of universal knowledge. A reprint of the last (1880) Edinburgh and London edition of Chambers' encyclopaedia, with copious additions by American editors (Volume 13) online

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rate divi.-ion under the name of CENTRAL ASIA, and to this portion of the empire the
governments of Akrnollinsk, Scmipahuinsk, Turgai, and Uralsk are now attached.
Geographically speaking, these governments belong to Siberia; as do also corsiderable
ureas c. of the Ural mountains, which for administrative purposes, form part of the
European governments of Perm and Orenburg. The following article deals mainly
with the region officially termed Siberia; for the Russian possessions in the Turkestan
territory, sec ASIA, CEXTKAL. The following are the subdivisions or governments of

Divisions and Provinces. ' (P P- 1870 ->

1. The Eastern Seaboard ..................................... 708.253 43.320

2. Amur-land .................................................. 107.514 22 297

3. Yakutsk .................................................... 1.500,141 231.C77

4. Transbaikalia .............................................. 210,799 400780

5. Irkutsk .................................................... 279,%3 378.244

C. Yeneseisk ................................................ . . 958.042 372,86;}

7. Tomsk ..................................................... 329.7J3 838,750

8. Tobolsk .................................................... 565,920 1,086,848

Total ............................... .4.660,415 3,405,084

(With central Asia, but excluding the Caucasus, the total area of Russian Asia is nearly
6,000.000 sq.m., and llic pop. 4,500,000.) It thus appears that in Siberia proper there
fire about three inhabitants to every four English sq. miles. The northern and eastern
shores are very irregular in form, jutting out frequently into bold peninsulas and prom-
ontories and being indented with numerous immense inlets, chief of which arc the
estuaries of tlie Obi (575 m. in length) and of the Yenesei; the gulf of Anadir, nnd the
sea of Okhotsk. All the island groups to the n. of Siberia, and since 187o the whole of
Sakhalin or Saghalien on the e. coast, belong to Siberia; whereas, since 1875, all the
Kurilc i.- lands are Japanese. The Liakhoff group, near the mouth of the Lena, con-
sists of three islands from 60 to 100 m. long by 20 to 40 broad, and of numberless islets:
they arc completely barren, nnd present in their soil and subsoil alternate layers of sand
and ice, in which are imbedded the fossil remains of numerous animals. The greatest
length of Siberia is 5,600 m. from n.e. to s.w., and the greatest breadth 2.170 m. from
n. to south. A country of such vast extent (greatly larger than Europe) must necessa-
rily exhibit great varieties of climate; and we accordingly find in the northern regions,
much of which lie far whhin the Arctic circle (cape Sievero Vostochnii, the most north-
erly promontory of Siberia, and of the old world, being in hit. 78 25' n.), an extensive
tract bordering on the ocean, composed of swamp, moorland, and mossy flais, covered
with snow and ice for one-half 01 the year, and even during the greatest heats of sum-
mer, released from its icy bonds only to the depth of a few inches below the surface of
the soil. The ocean, its northern boundary, is frozen for miles seaward during more
than half the year, and during the remaining months, the numberless icebergs and floes
which crowd the fca, and continually come into collision, render the navigation so dan-
gerous that no complete hydrographic survey of the coast has yet been made. On the
southern boundary of this semi-barren zone, stunted misshapen bushes and trees are
found; and as we advance southward, vegetation appears in the form of extensive for-
ests of birch, fir, n?^d larch, which clothe the plains and hill-sides, and are interspersed
with stretches of pasture of moderate quality. After crossing the parallel of Ir.t. 64 a n.
in west Siberia, nnd that of lat. 61 n. in east Siberia, the n:ora hardy cereals, barley,
oats, and rye, begin to appear, and the soil increases in fertility, sometimes to :m extra
ordinary extent, thick woods of Siberia cedar and other trees clothe the mountain sides,
and the valleys, especially along the banks of rivers, arc in a state of continuous cul-
tivation. The whole of western Siberia is one great plain, sloping from its southern
boundary, where the average elevation is 2.000 ft., northward to the Arctic ocean; with
the exception of the small corner in the s.w., which is drained into the Caspian and
Aral seas. The fertility of a great portion of the governments of Tobolsk and Tomsk,
especially of the Parnba and Ithim steppes, is proverbial, and they are the great granaries
of Russia and northern Europe. But the warmest and perhaps most fertile p:;rt of western
Siberia is the valley of the Yenesei, n. of the Saynnsk mountains. Eastern Siberia is more
hilly and less fertile than the western portion, but the valleys and hill-fides afford gocd
pasture. Four-fifths of Siberia is drained by the three immense rivers Obi (q.v.). Yc re-
set (q.v.), and Lena (q.v.), and by a number of smaller rivers, all of which llcw to the
Arctic Ojcean. Siberia has u large number of lakes, some of which are littie else thau


ealt marshes; the largest of them are lake Baikal (q.v.) and lake Bnlkash (q.v.). The
chief mountain range of Siberia is the Altai chain, -which forms the southern boundary
toward Mongolia, and ramifies eastward and northward from the region of lake Baikal,
covering a large portion of the surface of eastern Siberia. The Stanovoi hills stretch
from the Amur n.e. along the shores of the sea of Okhotsk. The Yablonnoi mountains,
which long found a place in books of geography, were shown by the Russian exploring
commission (1863) to have no existence, the place where they were supposed to be sit-
uated being an undulating plateau, which connects the basin of the ludigirka and the
sea of Okhotsk. Lofty mountain chains traverse the island of Saghalieu and the penin-
sula of K:\mtchatka, in which there are 21 active volcanoes, the loftiest of which is
Kliutshewskcr: elevation 15,000 feet. Among the wild animals of Siberia are the rein-
deer in the northern flats, and on the high mountains of the s. ; the arctic or black fox,
and white bear in the n. ; the sable, ermine, marmot, marten, squirrel, Caspian ante-
lope, and wild sheep all in the s. ; and the lynx, wolf, wild-boar, and glutton are gen-
erally diffused. Camels are found among the Kirghiz, along \vilh the broad-tailed
sheep, the Russian sheep being also domesticated in Siberia; and horses of good quality,
an inferior sort of cattle of the Russian breed, and a large wolfish-looking dog, used
chiefly to draw sledges, complete the list of domestic animals. Fresh and salt water
fish abound, and feathered game is plentiful in the south. The mineral wealth of
Siberia is great: gold, silver, copper, and lead are found in all the mountainous districts'*
on the w. and s. ; platinum, iron, and precious stones, including diamonds, are found
on the eastern slopes of the Ural; zinc, antimony, arsenic, plumbago, r.ud valuable
emerald and topaz mines are worked in the districts n. of the Amur: and porphyry,
malachite, jasper, and salt (from the steppes) are common. More than half of the inhab-
itants of the central and western provinces are Russians and Poles, or of Russian and
Polish descent, and these have been sent to the country either as exiles, on account of
political or criminal offenses, or as government colonies. The njost abandoned class of
exiles are kept to hard labor in the mines; others are put to less laborious, but stiil com-
pulsory work; and a third portion are settled in specified districts, under surveillance
of the police, and allowed to employ themselves as they choose. This last class chiefly
employs itself in trapping those animals whose skins and furs form valuable articles of
trade. In the north-west are found the Sanioieds, and adjoining them the Ostiaks, both,
of whom live by hunting and fishing alone. In the s. are the nomad tribes of tiio
Kirghiz (q.v.) and Kalmucks (q.v.), both cattle-breed ing peoples, though the latter havo
now partial!}' adopted a settled mode of life, and manufacture iron and gunpowder.
Next to them, on the borders of Mantchooria, are the Burials, a people of Mongol origin,
(and the most numerous tribe in Siberia; to the n. of whom are the Yakuts and Turigu-
ses, of Tartar origin, who are spread over the whole of eastern Siberia, from the to\vn o(
Irkutsk to the Stanovoi range, and live mostly by hunting. The Tchuktchis, an Esqui-
maux race, and the Koriaks inhabit the n.e. corner, and the Manchua are the population
of the Amoor territory. Manufactures are unimportant, and are confined to the principal
towns; the barter trade in European goods is carried on at Obdorsk, Ostrovnoe, Yakutsk,
and Petropnvlovsk; and the transit-trade with China through Kiahta (q.v.), the imports
from China being tea of the finest quality, sugar, silk, cotton, wool, grain, fruits,
etc.; and the exports to that country, cotton and woolen cloths, linen, furs and
skins, leather, and articles of gold and silver. The exports to Russia ore the natu-
ral produce of the country, and are transported westward to the frontier by alter-
nate land and river carriage, to Tobolsk, thence over the Ural mountains to Perm. Rein-
deer sledges are the usual means of transport in winter. Fairs are held at stated periods
in certain localities, and much of the trade of the country is there transacted. The chief
towns in Siberia proper are Tobolsk, pop. 20,000; Tjiimen, 13,000: Tomsk, 24,000;
Irkutsk, 27,000. Siberia seems to have been first made known to the Russians by a mer-
chant named Anika Stroganoff; and soon after, the conquest of western Siberia wa
effected by the Cossack Vassili Yermak, an absconded criminal, at the head of a numer-
ous band of wild followers. After Yermak's death in 1584, the Russians pursued their
conquests eastward, founding Tomsk in 1604, and though they often experienced serious
reverses, their progress was rapid, the sea of Okhotsk being reached in 1G39, and Irkutsk
founded in .1661. Frequent disturbances have occurred between the Russians and the
Chinese and Tartars, which have resulted in the extension southward of the Sibcri.m
boundary into Mantchooria and Turkestan (q.v.). In 1845 the left bank of the Amoor
became Russian. In 1858 the frontier was extended along the sea-board s. of the river
to the frontier of Corea. The Russians liuve now a large number of steam-vessels on the
Amoor. Recent voyages of exploration point to I he practicability of opening direct and
extensive commerce between Archangel and the rivers Obi and Yenesci. The Lena is
also navigable for a great distance from its mouth. See Atkinson's Oriental and West-
ern Siberia (Lond. 1858); and various articles in the Geographical Magazine for 1876, etc.

SIBLEY, a co. in centnl Minnesota, bordered on the e. by Minnesota river; 525
gq.m. ; pop. '80, 10.637. The surface is undulating, and i- partly covered with forests.
It contains lake Minnetonka, 30 m. in length, and other lakes of smaller size. The soil
is fertile, and the main productions are wheat, Indian corn, oats, hay, and wool. Co.
seat, Henderson.

4.T1 Sibley.


SIBLEY, HENRY H., b. Detroit, Mich., 1811; son of judge Solomon Sibley, lived
for many years at Mackinaw and fort Snelling. employed by the American Fur co. lie
was delegate from the territory of Minnesota, 1849-58; first governor of the state, 1858;
during the late war brig. gen. of vols. He took charge of an expedition against the lii
dians on the Minnesota frontier, 1863; brevetted maj.gen. of volunteers.

SIBLEY, IIiHAM, 1). Mass. 1807; in early life he was a manufacturer of machinery,
but became; interested in telegraph corporations, and by his exertions about twenty weak.
companies were united in one, the Western Union, thus establishing the business on a
ftrong foundation, lie was prominent in securing the building of the Pacific telegraph
line, and was intendinir to carry a line to Europe by way of Beliring strait had the Atlan-
tic cable failed. Mr. Sibley luis contributed 100,000 each to the universities of Cornell
and Rochester.

SIBLEY, JOHN* LAXCJDOX, b. Me. 1804; educated at Harvard college, of which he
was librarian, 1835-26, 1841-50, and 1856-77. He has written a history of Union, Maine;
^fut.'ccx of t!u- 7'n\ 11 /i inl Ciititloyaes of Harvard UnijMTVity, and Harvard Graduates, His
rank among librarians is high.

SIBYL (Gr. aitudla, according to the old derivation from (Jios boule; Doric, KW* bolla
the " will or counsel of God "), the name anciently given to several prophetic women,
whose history, in so far as they have any, has come down to us in a wholly mythical
form, if, indeed, such beings ever existed at all! Their number is differently given;
some writers (^Elian, for example) mention only four the Erythraean, the Samian, the
Egyptian, and theSardian; but in general ten are reckoned, viz., the Babylonian, the
Libyan, the Delphian, the Cimmerian, the Erythraean, the Samiau, the Cnmseau, tho
Troj.m or Hellespontian, the Phrygian, and the Tiburtine. Of these, by far the most
celebrated is the Cimuean, identified by Aristotle with the Erythraean, and personally
known by the names of Herophile, Demo, Phemouoe'. Deiphobc, Demophile, and Amal-
thaea. l^lie figures prominently in the 6th book of Virgil's ^Eueid, as the conductor of
the poet into the realm of the shades. The Roman legend concerning her (as recorded
by Livy) is, that she came from the east, and appearing before king Tarquin the proud,
offered him nine books for sale. The prico demanded appeared to the monarch exorbi-
tant, and he refused to purchase them. She thca went away, destroyed three, and
returning, asked as much for the remaining six as for the nine. This was again
refused, whereupon she destroyed other three, and once more offered to sell him the
rest, but without any abatement of tiie original price. Tarquin was struck by her per-
tinacity, and bought the books, which wcu found to contain advices regarding the relig-
ion and policy of the Romans. They were preserved in a subterranean chamber of the
temple of Jupiter on the Capitolino, r.:id were originally intrusted to two officials (dutnn-
riri mtc i-vru in), appointed by the senate, who alone h:ul the right to inspect them. Tho
number of keepers was afterward increased to 10 (decemviri), and finally, by Sulla, to
15(qutnd<xemmri). In the year 84 B.C., the temple of Jupiter having been consumed by
fire, the original sibylline books or leaves were destroyed, whereupon a special embassy
was dispatched by the senate to all the cities of Greece, Italy, and Asia Minor, to collect
such as were current in these regions. This being done, the new collection was depos-
ited in the temple of Jupiter after it had been rebuilt. Spurious sibylline prophecies or
what were regarded as such accumulated greatly in private hands toward the close of
the republic; and Augustus, fearing, perhaps, that they might be turned to political
uses, ordered them all to be given up to the city-praetor, and burned them. More than 2,000
were destroyed <5n this occasion. The remainder were kept in the temple of Apollo, on
the Palatine, under loctc and key; but the whole perished during the burning of Rome
in the time of Nero. Other collections were made: and as late as the 6th c., when the
city was besieged by the Goths, there were not wanting some who pretended to predict
the issue from a consultation of these venerable oracles. It is, however, beyond doubt,
that as early, at ] east, as the 2d c. A.D., when enthusiastic men sprang up in the Christian
church, prophesying in a poetic-oracular style (whence they were sometimes called sibyl-
liati<), the sibylline books were much interpolated and falsified to assist the progress of
the new faith. The utterances of these Christian sibyllists form a special department
of early ecclesiastical literature, and are a mixture of Jewish, pagan, and Christian
ingredients. The collections of them also bear the nameof "sibylline books." An edi-
tion was published by Galkeus, at Amsterdam, in 1689. and was entitled Or<io/I<t Sibyl-
lina; fragments have also been edited oy Angelo Mai (Milan, 1817) and Struve Konigs-
berg, 1818). Consult Bleek, Ufber die Entitehung und Zutnmmfiut^ning rti-r ///.* in nchl
Biichern erfm-lten-en Sannl>i n</ Sibyllini*cJier Oruk<i(\n Schleiermacher's T/ie'J'>r,>/*}n-e Z>it-
tchrift, Berl. 1819) and Thdrlaci'us, Librf Sibylli*t<trum Vetfri* /vrV>v> (1822); Ewald,
Ueber Eiitstehiinr/, Inlialt uml }\\rth dvr Sibyllinischer Bucher (Gott. 1858).

SICIL IAN VESPERS, the name given to the massacre of the French in Sicily, on the
day after Easter (March 30), 1282, the signal for the commencement of which was to bo
the first stroke of the vesper-bell. In tlie articles NAPLES. KOXRAPIX, MAXFUKD. etc.,
it is related how diaries of Anjou, the brother of Louis IX. of France, had deprived
the Hohenstaufen dynasty of Naples and Sicily, and parceled out these kingdoms into
domains for his French followers; but his cruelty toward the adherents of the dispos-
sessed race, his tyranny, oppressive taxation, and the brutality of his followers, excited

4*7 9
Sicily. * '

among the vindictive Sicilians the deadliest animosity. The aged Giovanni daProcida,
a steady partisan of the Hohenstaufen family, took the lead in directing and systemat-
izing a conspiracy against Charles and his followers; and after a visit to Pedro of Aragon
(the husband of Constance the cousin of Konradin, and the next heir to Naples and
Sicily), whom he found willing to undertake the conquest of Sicily, he returned to his
pelf-imposed duty in the island. On the evening of Easter-Monday the inhabitants of
Palermo, eoitureti (According to the common story) at a gross outrage which was perpe-
trated by a French soldier oil a young Sicilian bride, percipitated the accomplishment
of the scheme by suddenly rising upon their oppressors, putting to the sword every man,
woman, and child of them, not sparing even those Italians and Sicilians who had mar-
ried Frenchmen. This example was followed, after a brief interval, by Medina and
the other tow;;?, ai.d the massacre soon became general over the island: the French
were hunted like wild beasts, and dragged even from the churches, where they vainly
thought themselves secure. More than 8,000 of them were slain by the Palermitans
alone. Only one instance of mercy shown to a Frenchman is on record, the fortunate
subject being a Pioveii9al gentleman, Guillaume desPorcellets, who was much esteemed
for his probity and virtue. The governor of Messina also succeeded in passing the strait
with his garrison before it was too late. See Amari, La Giterra dd Vegpro Siciliano
(Palermo, 1841 ; 6th ed. Flor. 1859), aud Possien and Chantrel's 1^'s Vepres Sitilienna
(Paris, 1843).

SICILIA'NA, in music, a name given to a slow, soothing, pastoral description of air,
in $ time; so called because the dance peculiar to the peasantry of Sicily possesses this

SICILY, the largest, most fertile, and most populous island in the Mediterranean sea,
lies between lat. 36 38' and 38 18' n., and between long. 12 25' and 15 40' e., and is sepa-
rated from the main-land of Italy by the strait of Messina. Its shape roughly resembles a
triangle (whence the early Greek navigators gave it the name of Tnnacria, the "Three-
cornered") the eastern coast, from Capo del Faro in the n. to Capo. Passaro in the s.,
forming the base; and the northern and south-western coasts the sides, which gradually
npproach each other toward the n.w. The length of the base is 145 m. ; of the northern
side 215 m. ; and of the south-western 190 rn. : the circumference of the island, includ-
ing the sinuosities of the coast, is estimated at 624 miles. Area about 10,000 sq. miles.
Pop., according to the census of Dec. 31, 1871, 2.584,099. Capo Passaro, at the south-
eastern extremity, is only 56 m. from Malta; and Capo Boco, near Marsala, at the north-
western, only 80 m. from cape Bon on the African coast.

-hy&ical Geography. The island of Sicily, like the main -land of Italy, is traversed
throughout its entire length by a chain of mountains, which may be looked upon as a
continuation of the Apennines (q.v.). This chain, beginning at Capo del Faro on the
strait of Messina, i uns in a south-south-western direction as far as Taormina, where it turns
cff to the w., and stretches across the whole island, keeping, however, much nearer to the
northern than to the south-western coast, The first part of the chain, Jrom Capo del
Faro to Taormirn, is called the Pcloric range (anc. Neptunius Mons), which in Monte
Dinnamare attains the height of 3,260 ft. ; the second and much the longer part is called
the Madonian range (anc. Nebrodes Monte*), which, in the Pizzo di Palermo, rises to an
elevation of 6,828 feet. It forms the great watershed of the island. Toward the north-
western coast the chain breaks up into irreeular and often detached masses, such as
Monte Pellegrino (1963 ft.) and Monte San Giuliano (2,184 ft.). About the center of the
chain a range branches off through the heart of the island to the s.e. ; at first wild and
rugged, but afterward smoothing down into table-lands, which in turn slope away
tamely to the sea. There arc innumerable other spurs to the s. from the great Madonian
chain, of inferior length and elevation, but none of these require special mention. The
volcano of Etna, which rises in solitary grandeur on the eastern coast, is separately
described. See ETNA. Sicily is not, on the whole, a well-wooded country, but forests
of considerable si7,e are found here and there as, for example, the royal forests near
Caronia and Mczzojuso, the forest-zone of Etna. etc. In the interior of the island there
is not much level land, but on several parts of the coast there are extensive plains, gen-
erally of great fertility. The principal of these are the great plain of Catania (anc.
Campi Lcontini), out of which rises Etna; the plains of Palermo, termed the Conca
d'Orn, or "Golden Shell," of Castellamare, of Licata, and Terranova. Although rivers
are numerous, none are navigable. The largest are the Simeto or Giarretta, the Cantara,
the Salso, the Platani, and the Belici.

Climate, The climate of Sicily is very warm, but salubrious, except in low-lying
places where there is a mephitic atmosphere. The best health is enjoyed in the lower
regions of Etna, which is very densel}' peopled, although exposed to eruptions and vio-
lent earthquakes. The heat is intense in summer when the sirocco blows. After the
a'ltumnal equinox violent winds are prevalent, torrents of rain fall, and all along the
coasts the atmosphere is charged with moisture and fogs. The earthquakes begin about
the etad of winter, and do great damage. Snow and ice are rarely to be seen except on

Geology and Mineralogy. The primary rocks in the mountainous districts fire chiefly
^uartz, granite, and mica. In some parts these are overlaid by limestone rocks. Most


of the lower ranges of hills are of calcareous formation, and are rich in metallic ores.
Sulphur forms the chief mineral wealth of Sicily. Immense beds of it are found in the
c -eiitral and northern parts of the island. The English export about 42.000 tons of it per
:i:::i:;::i, and the mines are worked by Cornish miners and their descendants.

ture, etc. The soil of the island is so fertile that very little labor ia
require J to raise the crops. In many valleys there is rich soil to ihe depth even of 40
fjet. In C'.aania decomposed lava u spread over the ground, greatly increasing its fer-
Tho crops of grain are large, and might be prodigious if agriculture were better
uadersto >d. Tim harvests aiv sueii that they recall to miud the words of Livy, in speak-
( Sk'ily, " Populoque Romano, pace ac .btilo, Jidttnimum unnmi<c mwauliuin" (lib.
xxvii. 5). In the most ancient times agriculture was sedulously prosecuted, but it began
to decline when the island was deprived of its independence by the Carthaginians. In
more re-cent times the restrictions on the exportation of grain served not only to keep
agriculture from making any progress, but also to put a drag upon the commerce of the
c nmtrv; which, on every attempt made to raise itself, was met by fresh obstacles in the
shape of new taxes. The Italian government has greatly alleviated the obstacles to agri-
culture, and the salutary effects of the change of system are already apparent. The soil
produces corn, m.dze, flax, hemp; excellent cotton near Mazzara, and in Catania; sugar,

Online LibraryFrancis LieberLibrary of universal knowledge. A reprint of the last (1880) Edinburgh and London edition of Chambers' encyclopaedia, with copious additions by American editors (Volume 13) → online text (page 109 of 203)