Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/790

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

an aureole, so the Ural Cossacks poetize their fisheries and everything in connection with them. In almost every popular song of this country is mentioned, under all kinds of poetical names, the Ural River with "its golden bottom" and its "silver banks," and one of the most favorite local songs is an ode or hymn in honor of the Yaik River (the historical name remains in poetry), the foster father of the population. The economical importance

PSM V43 D790 Railing across the ural river.jpg
Fig. 3.—Railing across the River.

of the fisheries for this people is so immense that it influences their whole life, not excepting the military service. The right of fishing in communal waters does not belong to any but members of the community, who, on the other hand, are compelled to undertake military service. The Ural Cossacks have ready for the service every year about three thousand cavalry, and in case of war every adult may be called on to serve as a soldier. The entire population is about one hundred and ten thousand souls.

Thus, when one part of the men is engaged in military service, the other part, which remains at home, is forced to procure money to pay the expenses of equipment for the outgoing soldiers, and also to make their own living.

Only by bearing this heavy double burden have the Ural Cossacks succeeded in acquiring exclusive rights to the land and river colonized by them, and to preserve until the present time some independence in their home affairs with a peculiar economic organization of the community as an entire body. Much struggling and fighting was done in the early existence of this small community in order to gain this measure of independence from the Muscovite Government, which has always had a strong tendency to centralize different parts of Russian territory under