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© ?H 




NdQillVS iO 





VO 10 









Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, 
Harvard University 




Copyright, 1915, by 

Published April, 1915 


Russian literature has for some time concerned 
itself with the discovery of the philosophical tend- 
encies in the national life, but in the English lan- 
guage no such comprehensive work exists. The 
author of the present work does not pretend to 
give a complete account of the separate activities 
discussed in it, but confines himself to the ascer- 
tainment of those spiritual principles which alone 
can help the reader to comprehend and properly 
weigh the curious and frequently unique phenom- 
ena in the social and artistic life of Russia. The 
author has drawn his information not only from 
his own intimate acquaintance with the country of 
his birth and education, but also from the great 
store of special monographs accessible to the Rus- 
sian scholar. He has attempted, without bias or 
rancor, to present all the sides of the national 
existence and to moderate the Russian spirit of 
self-abasement in the light of Anglo-Saxon ob- 
jectivity and fairness. 

A few words about the spelling of Russian 
names adopted in the following pages. It is the 
same as that employed in the author's translation 
of the works of Tolstoy, and is based on the precise 


rendering of the Russian form, hence the ending 
ov instead of the senseless off indulged in by 
some writers. No attempt is made to give the 
Eussian feminine forms of names, which would 
only be confusing to an English reader. Hence 
the title of Tolstoy's work is given as Anna Ka- 
renin, and not as Anna Karenina. The latter 
is as useless as it would be to mention Madame 
Tolstoy as Tolstaya. 

The Author 



I Introduction 1 

II The Currents of Ancient Russian Life . 18 

III The National Ideals of Russian Litera- 

ture 39 

IV Art for Life's Sake in Russia .... 68 
V Russian Music, an Expression of a People 95 

VI The Essence of Russian Religion . . . 116 

VII The Intellectuals and the People . . 142 

VIII The Peasant 178 

IX The Position and Influence of Women 

in Russia 199 

X The Non-Russian Russians 220 

XI Bibliography 239 




SEVERAL years ago I asked Professor Mil- 
yukov, the distinguished historian of Rus- 
sian civilization, what English book he considered 
the best as regards its analysis of modern Russia. 
"Without a moment 's hesitation, and with a twinkle 
in his eye, he answered: "E. J. Dillon's Russian 
Characteristics." x 

The reply betrayed a distinct Russian attitude 
towards censure, for a more incisive condemna- 
tion of everything Russian could hardly be im- 
agined, and any one other than a Russian would 
have blushed with shame and burned with indig- 
nation at the very mention of that brilliant Irish- 
man's mordant attack upon his nation. But Mil- 
yukov does not stand alone in his conviction, for 
although Dillon is known to Russian society and 
to the Government as the author of those sketches, 
he continues to live in Petrograd as an honored 

i E. B. Lanin (pseudonym of E. J. Dillon), Russian Character- 
istics, London: Chapman' and Hall, 1892. 


2 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

man and perfectly secure in his Avestan studies. 
It is a sad fact that there is not a statement made 
in that book that can be gainsaid, not an accusa- 
tion that is not true in itself, and yet the whole 
work fails to give a real insight into the Russian 
soul, because the likeness is too photographic to 
be just, too much based on the striking vices to 
represent the imperceptible and all-pervading vir- 
tues. The author has written as a flagellant Rus- 
sian for flagellant compatriots, and nobody knows 
that better than he himself, for he specifically says 
in the preface that his aim was to reach the 
Russian Government. "My aim, as affecting the 
Russian people, was twofold : on the one hand, to 
direct the attention of the Government to the mis- 
erable lot of the peasantry, in the hope of obtain- 
ing for them some moderate measure of relief; 
and on the other, to show that the people, improv- 
ident, shiftless, superstitious and immoral though 
they appear from our lofty English point of view, 
are yet not undeserving of a certain subdued ad- 
miration for having steered clear of still greater 
abysses in which almost every other people in 
like circumstances would probably have been swal- 
lowed up. And in neither of these respects, I am 
pleased to think, have my efforts been wholly 
thrown away. The articles, which to my own 
knowledge were carefully read by the highest dig- 
nitaries of the Empire, were in due time followed 
by a few slight improvements. ' ' 

Introduction 3 

Dillon is absolutely right when he lays the 
blame for the demoralization of the Russian peo- 
ple, which finds its expression in fatalism, im- 
providence, dishonesty, sexual immorality, lying, 
and drunkenness, on the blighting influence of a 
Government of absolutism, arbitrariness, and ex- 
cessive paternalism. But there are also Russian 
historians who, recognizing the low standards of 
the Government and the nation, are at a loss to 
determine whether the nation has a Government 
that it deserves, or whether the latter is to be con- 
sidered the cause of the nation's moral degrada- 
tion. The moment we try to get at cause and ef- 
fect in this matter, we start a vicious circle from 
which there is no issue. Dillon is right, not in 
locating the source of the evil, but in recognizing 
the fact that the Government is failing in its duty 
to enlighten the masses and to bring out what 
there is confessedly good in them, a duty made 
the more easy because the people are ready blindly 
to follow the behests of authority. 

However, when Dillon arrays an enormous 
quantity of well-attested facts in proof of the low 
condition of the people's character, he unwittingly 
becomes guilty of an illogical conclusion, even be- 
cause he quotes exclusively from Russian periodi- 
cal and literary sources. His thesis being that all 
Russians are liars and immoral, what truth can 
there be found among writers who are by him 
represented as possessed of the same easy morals? 

4 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

Is it not rather a fact that Kussians gloat over 
the recitals of their shortcomings and make their 
foibles and sins "visible," while other nations, 
not more impeccable, hide their weaknesses under 
a cloak of sanctimonious proprieties? 

A German professor has characterized the Sev- 
enteenth and Eighteenth Centuries in Western 
Europe as a period when people did not wash 
themselves any too much but perfumed themselves 
abundantly. It is precisely this difference be- 
tween the East and the West in Europe. The 
Eussians have never taken seriously to wigs, pow- 
derboxes, and paint, hence their bodily uncouth- 
ness and uncleanliness was as much a subject of 
ridicule and contempt to the Western writers of 
those days as their moral iniquities are exagger- 
ated to-day, on the basis of the Russians' own 
statements. This, indeed, may be proved by many 
specific instances. 

Nowhere is there supposed to be so much drunk- 
enness as in Russia, but the fact is that nowhere 
is so much drunkenness "seen" as in that coun- 
try, for, if statistics be consulted, it is soon found 
that there is four times as much pure alcohol con- 
sumed per head in England, and nearly six times 
as much in France, as in Russia, and the pres- 
ent wholesale abstinence from intoxicants, even 
though it should not prove to be permanent, is a 
phenomenon totally unthinkable and unobtainable 
in any other country, — a prima facie evidence that 

Introduction 5 

a drunken Russian must be judged differently 
from an ale-drinking Englishman, absinthe-tip- 
pling Frenchman, or beer-logged German. Yet 
England, France, and Germany are supposed to 
represent a higher degree of culture than be- 
nighted Russia. The difference is merely this: 
in Russia the drunken peasant wallows in the gut- 
ter, while elsewhere the tongue is unloosened in 
snug ale-houses, smoke-filled rathskellers, and 
sumptuous cabarets, not only under the influence 
of liquor, but also of salacious songs and "soul- 
stirring" music. In Russia drunkenness is 
drunkenness pure and simple, an abhorrence to 
native and foreigner alike. 

Much is made of Russian dishonesty in commer- 
cial, political, and social life. Already the Han- 
seatic League found it hard to deal with the cheat- 
ing Russians, and the newspapers are full of ac- 
counts of common transgressions, such as would 
not be thinkable in Germany, England, or the 
United States. But commerical honesty is the 
sine qua non of nations with a strongly developed 
industrial system, and grows with international 
relations. The student of medieval economics 
knows only too well that the Hanseatic cities and 
industrial centers in the Lowlands were given to 
far more objectionable practises than what they 
described in the Eastern staples. They had con- 
stantly to legislate against the use of inferior ma- 
terials in the manufacture of cloth, and false 

6 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

labels and imitations were an art of which the 
simple-minded Eussians were totally ignorant. 
But it is significant that the Russian word for 
"fool" is derived from an inferior woolen cloth 
which was foisted upon them by those very Low- 
landers who accused them of false weights and 
impure wool. 

The long recital of illegal transactions, winked 
at by public opinion in Russia, is a tame affair as 
compared with the gigantic swindles of the West- 
ern commercial world. The huge South Sea Bub- 
ble has not yet passed from the memory of man. 
But lately a Danish statesman rifled the state's 
treasury in order to cover up a series of most 
questionable business ventures, and the titanic in- 
iquities of several of America's most important 
industries have been sufficiently ventilated in the 
courts and in the press not to need especial men- 
tion. As in Russia, so in the West, the maxim of 
the Minister of State, as expressed in his instruc- 
tion to his son, still holds, "My son, you must be 
honest, but if you steal, see to it that you do not 
get caught." It is here where the superiority of 
Western civilization over that of Russia is most 
apparent. The Westerner has had too much 
training, and has too much respect for the law, 
to show dishonesty in little matters, and where 
it does not pay handsomely in returns. He con- 
sults the law before committing the crime, and he 
generally manages to keep "within the law." 

Introduction 7 

The Eussian who is obsessed by similar criminal 
tendencies goes about his business in a coarse and 
vulgar way. He does not cover his tracks long, 
and he is stupid enough to cheat in small and in- 
significant matters. If foreigners get worsted by 
such Eussians, they must not forget that "caveat 
emptor" was not discovered by a Eussian legis- 
lator, and that there is many an artistic commer- 
cial trick that the Eussian may learn from Sam 
Slick and from our own American David Harum. 

Then there is that universal political dishon- 
esty. But where has the Government not been 
considered a milch cow, to be regularly and thor- 
oughly milked, in order to keep its udder from 
bursting? England has but lately had some sad 
revelations, and Germany has had its Krupp 
scandal, and what are we to say of our own Ameri- 
can elastic political conscience? The exercise of 
the democratic right of suffrage has not led to un- 
conditional honesty, and an American investiga- 
tor has shown that the average price of a vote in 
certain States is now $2.50, and that with trium- 
phant universal suffrage votes may become even 
cheaper. Nor is there anything in the institution 
of Eings and Bosses that stands in the odor of 
sanctity. Our municipal governments, the police, 
the public works, are honey-combed with foul 
political corruption, but while Anglo-Saxons have 
occasional fits of moral indignation, after which 
they fall into a state of quiescence, the Eussians, 

8 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

even those who commit the crimes, do not de- 
ceive themselves as to the immoral question in- 
volved and as readily proclaim shortcomings as 
they tolerate them, and as readily confess their 
guilt as they break the law. Dillon observes that 
in a given number of criminal prosecutions in 
court all those who were not caught flagrante 
delicto hastened to make a clean breast of their 
crimes before the judges. Instead of arguing 
from this an easy conscience in the Russians, one 
should rather come to the opposite conclusion and 
posit a moral induration in the West. Here 
again it is a question of "visibility." The crim- 
inal instincts are more obvious, not more serious, 
in Russia than elsewhere. 

Again quoting sources, Dillon proves that the 
sexual morality is at very low ebb in Russia. 
The ancient chroniclers and historians tell of un- 
mentionable sexual laxness, and the modern Rus- 
sian writers lay open the national sores with the 
same frankness, hence, he argues, the condition 
of this kind of morality is worse here than any- 
where else. As for antiquity, one must not for- 
get the incredible degradation of the Medieval 
Church, nor does one gain any respect for that 
period in the West from the works of Boccaccio, 
Rabelais, Casanova, and dozens of similar authors. 
Were one to write a history of morals from Rous- 
seau's Confessions or Paul de Kock's novels, or 
from Zola's La Terre, or were one to depict the 

Introduction 9 

condition of society from the pornography that is 
forced into strangers' hands in Palermo, what a 
hell one could reconstruct for Western morals in 
the not very distant past. Krafft-Ebing did not 
have to go to Russia to write his work on moral de- 
generation. Paris, Berlin, Munich, Vienna have 
still many a lesson to teach Russia in this direc- 
tion, and the alarming figure of 115,000 illegitimate 
children in one year in Russia is insignificant as 
compared with the 30% of illegitimate children 
from the whole number born in certain districts 
in Saxony and with the almost equally great pro- 
portion in Munich. But while in Russia the 
stigma of the parents is not transferred upon the 
children, the Munich papers last year gravely 
discussed the impropriety of omitting the word 
"illegitimate" from the certificate of birth, lest 
the future mate in marriage be deceived by the 
false status of the unfortunate victim. This is 
morality with a vengeance, while the Russian im- 
morality has at least the merit of Christian 

Thus, however correct every individual state- 
ment is in regard to Russia, the fact that they are 
all drawn from Russian sources militates against 
a just picture of the modern Russian, if it is in- 
tended for the Anglo-Saxon reader. The unre- 
served frankness of the Slav may have its benefi- 
cent effect at home, but needs a corrective before 
it can be safely used by an outsider. Hence, 

10 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

while Dillon's work is a classic in Eussia, and 
greatly appreciated there, because it reflects the 
native spirit of self-castigation, it is not a safe 
guide by which to diagnose the present and predict 
the future of the great and gifted Russian people, 
the latest in Europe to carry high the banner of 
modern civilization. Equally unreliable are the 
accounts of those facile writers who on the basis 
of a passing acquaintance with Russians in the 
diaspora, over cigarettes and the samovar, with- 
out access to native sources, have relegated the 
Indo-European Russians to Asia and the Mongol 
races. If Dillon's analysis of the Russian char- 
acter may be compared with a prism that dis- 
perses and breaks up the light, the acrid delinea- 
tion of the Russian by its perfervid enemies re- 
sembles that distorting mirror, which represents 
one's own form with swollen body and diminu- 
tive head. 

How, then, is one to arrive at the essence of the 
Russian soul? How is one to determine its 
potentiality, independently from personal opinion 
or predilection and from the vicissitudes of his- 
tory? This is not so difficult as may seem, if 
one is willing to investigate the sum total of facts 
within the whole period of the nation's existence,, 
if one can abstract those transient characteristics 
of civilization and culture, of morality and re- 
ligion, of material acquisitions and historic des- 
tiny, which vary from time to time and only touch 

Introduction 11 

the externals of things. There would not seem 
much to be left, when all these things, that we are 
taught to consider as fundamental in our estimate 
of the relative position of a people in civiliza- 
tion, are brushed aside. But there is everything 
left, — the underlying soul, in which civilization, 
culture, religion, morality find a firm lodging or 
fail to get a congenial soil for development. 

Take the case of the Irish. Before the intro- 
duction of Christianity the Celts did not even 
possess the idea of family. There was promis- 
cuity of the most extensive and to us revolting 
kind. They lived in utter wretchedness amidst 
their pigs, and, though they had bards who rev- 
eled in boastful oratory, they did not possess any 
learning, nor did they stand in any relation to 
the existing Eoman civilization. Yet the Celts 
were the first nation in Europe to adopt Chris- 
tianity, and not only did their morality improve 
at once, but the Irish women have had a reputa- 
tion for virtue such as no other women could 
surpass, while their learned men became the 
founders of monasteries throughout Europe, at 
a time when the Germans and Slavs were still 
half-savage and uncultured. Such a complete 
transformation cannot be accounted for by a mere 
influence of the new religion. There must have 
been a latent potential energy, even in the savage 
Irishman, which needed only a new impetus to 
bring the best in his nature to the front. The 

12 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

Celtic fire, for good or for ill, was aglow from the 
earliest time, and the change in morals, learning, 
and material comfort, the trend of the new civiliza- 
tion, did not in any way affect his fundamental 

It is a curious fact that geography is a more 
potent factor in preserving basic characteristics, 
than is nationality or race. Unless a whole peo- 
ple, or the major part of a people is exterminated, 
no accretion of foreign elements, especially by 
slow infiltration, affects the original stock ma- 
terially. France, from the time of Caesar until 
the present, has undergone most violent changes. 
The native Gaulic populace has been successively 
contaminated by Roman, Gothic, Frankish, Span- 
ish blood, but the characterization of the Gauls by 
Caesar is essentially correct of the French of to- 
day. ' ' The nature of the people is such, that rash 
and inexperienced men, alarmed by false reports, 
are often hurried to the greatest extremities, and 
take upon them to determine in matters of the 
greatest consequence. ' ' Here is an analysis which 
holds throughout French history, from the time 
of Druidism with its superstition up to the Revolu- 
tion with its guillotines. Caesar also recognized 
the fact that the proximity of the Roman province 
to Gaul had introduced luxury and abundance 
among them, which little by little deprived them 
of the warlike spirit, so that they were no longer 
able to cope with the Germans. The Greek 

Introduction 13 

Agathias found the Franks in the Sixth Century 
the only ones among the Germanic tribes semi-civi- 
lized and completely absorbed by the Romano- 
Gaulic population in language and institutions. 
The conquerors were conquered by the geographic 

On the other hand Caesar's description of the 
Germans of his day is, mutatis mutandis, true of 
the modern Prussians. He writes: "Their 
whole life is addicted to hunting and war, and 
from their infancy they are inured to fatigue and 
hardships," "They think it an argument of valor 
to expel their neighbors, and suffer none to settle 
near them," "Robbery has nothing infamous in 
it, when committed without the territories of the 
state to which they belong: they even pretend that 
it serves to exercise their youth and prevent the 
growth of sloth. When any of their princes in 
this case offers himself publicly in council as a 
leader, such as approve of the expedition, rise up, 
profess themselves ready to follow him, and are 
applauded by the whole multitude." Do not 
these statements explain better than any White 
Books or writings of Bernhardi, Treitschke, 
Hasse, the reasons which actuate the Germans in 
the present, as well as any other, war? And here 
is a curious fact. The Prussians, admittedly the 
creators of universal conscription and the modern 
armies, are not even particularly German in blood. 
They are a nondescript mixture of Lithuanian and 

14 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

Slavic elements with a numerically inferior Ger- 
man contingent. But the annihilation of the for- 
eign element has been carried on so thoroughly 
by the resistless invader into the peripheral coun- 
try, that the slow infiltration of the surviving na- 
tive element has added nothing material to the 
formation of character, while the geographic ex- 
pansion of the original German element has been 
so complete that Prussia has best preserved the 
original spirit, as admirably depicted by the great 
Koman general. The Prussians know full well 
the importances of the geographic factor, and so 
they still practise the method of thorough elimina- 
tion of the native element, as in Slesvick-Holstein, 
so in Posen, and they frankly and without a blush 
still preach and insist on peripheral colonization. 
Neither the organization of the state, nor the 
Christian religion, nor the highest development 
of the sciences and the arts, has in the least oblit- 
erated the Celtic and the German soul. How 
much more must this be the case with the Kus- 
sians who have suffered more than any other 
European nation from the geographic factor, who 
have been so far removed from the foci of civiliza- 
tion that Greek and Koman culture and the activi- 
ties of the Medieval West have but faintly and at 
a very belated time penetrated the country, never 
affecting the masses deeply and leaving them to 
their elemental forces? Here paganism and bar- 
barism have survived until our own day, strangely 

Introduction 15 

mingling with the highest achievements of the hu- 
man mind. Meekness and brutality, communism 
and the most advanced individualism, the strong- 
est state and the weakest political consciousness, 
absence of race hatred and the most cruel "pog- 
roms," the deepest religious nature and the 
most abject superstition, an all-pervading democ- 
racy and the most absolute monarchy, all these 
and more contradictions are the result of this 
unique jostling of mythical antiquity and stark 
reality, — an eternal and inextricable enigma to the 
Western observer. Hence the totally contradic- 
tory valuations which are found in books on 
Russia, on the basis of the same data. 

Dillon has summarized these inherent contra- 
dictions as follows: "By nature the Russians 
are richly endowed : a keen, subtle understanding ; 
remarkable quickness of apprehension; a sweet, 
forgiving temper; an inexhaustible flow of animal 
spirits; a rude, persuasive eloquence, to which 
may be added an imitative faculty positively 
simian in range and intensity, constitute no mean 
outfit even for a people with the highest destinies 
in store. But these gifts, destined to bring forth 
abundant fruit under favorable circumstances, are 
turned into curses by political, social, and relig- 
ious conditions which make their free exercise 
and development impossible, and render their pos- 
sessors as impersonal as the Egyptians that raised 
Cheops, or the coral-reef builders of the Pacific. 

16 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

In result we have a good-natured, lying, thieving, 
patient, shiftless, ignorant mass whom one is at 
times tempted to connect in the same isocultural 
line with the Weddas of India, or the Bangala of 
Upper Congo, and who differ from the West Euro- 
pean nations much as Sir Thomas Browne's vege- 
tating * creatures of mere existence' differ from 
'things of life.' " 

Assuming, for the sake of argument, that the 
characterization is just, there still remains the 
task to ascertain, how many of the characteristics 
are acquired and transient, how many of the vices 
are inherent and irradicable, or accidental and 
reducible. The observer of the growth of Slavic 
as against Germanic civilization is not so much 
concerned about the present relative standings of 
the average Eussian and the average German, as 
he is troubled about the promise of a better future, 
the chances for development being equal in both 
cases. But the modern material civilization is 
that great equalizer, which breaks down barriers 
between races and nations, and leaves them en- 
tirely to the resources of their inner selves, to the 
inherent qualities and not at all to their historic 
vicissitudes. In this new race for supremacy, the 
Japanese and the Bulgarians, the Boers and the 
Maori have an equal chance. Not that they will 
all reach the same perfection, but their historic 
development does not count against them. 
Chinese walls and Krupp guns are incompatible, 

Introduction 17 

and the change from junks, arrows and ring armor 
to super-dreadnoughts, from bamboo huts to sky- 
scrapers, from forest paths to railway tracks, 
from scythes to steam reapers, from pen and ink 
to linotypes and typewriters, from native popular 
wisdom to Kant and Darwin, is as the flash of an 
electric spark. 

What Germany or Eussia is not to-day it may 
be to-morrow. Fortunate and unfortunate as the 
geographical position of Russia is, it will no longer 
be the geographic factor that will determine its 
future destiny, but that which the geographic 
factor has created for it in the past, — the Eussian 
soul, its potentiality, its rich endowment. It is 
this we must study and appreciate, in order that 
we may safely prognosticate the future of Russia, 
without any reference to this or any other war, 
without personal bias of friendship or hatred, 
without the possible economic and political fac- 
tors, which can only retard or accelerate, but 
never can change the course of its destiny, for the 
woe or for the ill of humanity at large. To arrive 
at such a sublimated judgment we must investi- 
gate the sum total of Eussian life during the whole 
period of its historic existence, and constantly 
eliminate the accidental from the permanent, until 
the resulting identity of moving forces through- 
out the whole history of the nation gives us a basis 
for final deductions. 




NO country in Europe has been so fortunate 
in its geographical position as Germany, a 
position which destined it to become the leader in 
the progress of civilization. Most of its rivers 
flow due north, and the navigable heads of these 
rivers are not far removed from the passes over 
the Alps and from the great commercial highway 
that went into a northwesterly direction from Con- 
stantinople to the region on the Rhine. In the 
days before the space and time destroying agents, 
of modern invention, neighborhood played an all- 
important part in the advance of cultural ideas, 
for there is no such a thing as a development from 
within, except in a very limited and unsatisfactory 
manner. Civilization has in pre-historic times 
moved from Central Asia by radiation, and Eu- 
rope first fell under the influence of a Mediter- 
ranean and Egyptian development. Traces of 
Egyptian industrial borrowings may still be dis- 
covered in the farthest countries of Europe, but 

the nearest radiation, into Greece, was most pro- 

The Currents of Ancient Russian Life 19 

ductive of significant consequences. Evolving its 
composite borrowed material from Asia Minor and 
Crete and Egypt in the direction of its growing 
national genius, Greece became the next, most im- 
portant focus for European civilization, until the 
center was transferred to Konie, Greece adding its 
rich endowment to the constructive power of the 

Even before Csesar expanded the Eoman terri- 
tory to the ultima Thule, merchants had reached 
and influenced the nearer living Gauls, while, as 
Cagsar himself distinctly mentions, the farther, in- 
accessible regions of the Germans harbored in con- 
sequence a more savage population. The mili- 
tary exploits in the North, and the excellent mili- 
tary roads and posts maintained by the conquerors 
brought the Teutons into direct contact with Eome. 
Being warlike, and unspoiled by civilization, they 
were especially adapted for mercenaries in the 
Roman armies, and, their warlike appetites being 
whetted by this military preference, they soon 
overran the Empire and became its masters. But 
the superior Latin element swallowed and dis- 
solved the Goths, Suevians, and Franks, while the 
Saxons and Thuringians, who preserved their 
brutish life until a comparatively late period, on 
account of the remoteness of their territories, 
were civilized only in Carolingian times by radia- 
tions from France. Germany was still in a semi- 
savage stage in the Ninth Century and would not 

20 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

have fared better than Russia in the fifteenth had 
it not been for the fact that the dissolution of the 
political and social life threatening the West and 
the eternal feuds and attacks by robber-barons 
had led to the growth and development of the 
cities. These had again their origin in the South. 
It was in the south of Italy that the well-organ- 
ized Byzantine municipal government found its 
footing. From there it spread northward to 
Venice, Florence, and the cities of Lombardy. 
Through the passes of the Alps, the city entity 
spread to Freiburg and to Constance, which be- 
came models for the cities along the Rhine. Then 
these in turn, especially Strassburg, formed the 
basis for the municipal organization in the East, 
until Magdeburg represented the last German 
stronghold of the nascent burgher conscience. 
Poland, the neighbor, based its feeble town gov- 
ernment on the Magdeburg right, inviting Ger- 
mans and German Jews to settle there, as the agri- 
cultural Poles had little interest in and little need 
of the political factor of the cities. 

It is not unlikely that some Slavs were found 
in the conglomerate armies of the Romans, and it 
is certain that they were unwilling soldiers in the 
hosts of the Huns and Avars who overran Eu- 
rope. All the early historians agree that the Slavs 
who lived in the vast plains of what now consti- 
tutes Russia were a peaceful people, given to the 
chase and primitive agriculture, without any ad- 

The Currents of Ancient Russian Life 21 

hesion among themselves, and without any desire 
or need for an organized state. But the country 
was not entirely separated from the rest of the 
world. We have several accounts hy Arabic 
writers, from which it may be seen that that coun- 
try as early as the Ninth Century, and possibly 
much earlier, was of extreme importance to the 
West, for a large variety of raw products were 
obtained from there, squirrel, sable and bear skins, 
honey and flax, and other objects that could be 
produced by the simplest kind of agriculture or 
the industry of the trapper. In return, the Rus- 
sians received cheap manufactured goods, such as 
colored kerchiefs, specifically mentioned in Byzan- 
tine commercial language as "Slavic," and a 
variety of coarse stuffs, all of them bearing for- 
eign names, the very term for " cloth" being of 
Greek origin. 

The nearest and most important emporium for 
the East was Constantinople, and whatever cul- 
tural influence was to be exerted upon the north- 
ern Slavs proceeded from there. But the Scan- 
dinavians had discovered the easier route thither 
by means of the rivers that in the West flow north 
and south, almost meeting at their heads, and the 
meek and disunited Slavs offering no insurmount- 
able difficulties, a steady stream of Scandinavian 
merchant adventurers passed over their territory, 
in quest of spices and silks at the Byzantine dis- 
tributing center. 

22 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

The Eussian chronicler of the Twelfth Century, 
in characterizing the Russians as meek, feeble and 
disunited, says that the Slavs of the plains sent a 
delegation to the Scandinavians asking them to 
give them rulers over their country, because * ' Our 
country is large, but order there is none in it." 
Here we have the first expression of Russian self- 
abnegation, but in reality the Scandinavians, set- 
tling in the staples along the road to Constanti- 
nople, in Novgorod and Kiev, by sheer power of 
wealth and commercial influence, ended in becom- 
ing their rulers. Kiev remained for a long time 
under the domination of the Greek spirit, while 
Novgorod was sought out by the enterprising Low- 
landers and later by the members of the Hanseatic 
cities. But, although here and there a semblance 
of Western municipalities may be found, they 
nearly all owed their importance and existence to 
foreigners and hardly affected the now inherent 
agricultural habits of the nation at large. Even 
when at the end of the Fifteenth Century the 
"gatherers of the land," the Muscovite princes, 
were anxious to develop city life in accordance 
with Western models, they were obliged to settle 
the invited foreigners in a special part of Moscow, 
"the German Quarter," because the Russian town 
offered neither the necessary advantages nor that 
safety without which commerce could not flourish. 

The student of medieval economics gets in 
Russia some startling surprises. In the Seven- 

The Currents of Ancient Russian Life 23 

teenth Century lie not only finds there in vogue 
contracts between proprietors and tenants, such 
as were common in the West in the Eighth and 
Ninth Centuries, but the very wording of them 
shows that the first is directly based on the sec- 
ond. Eussia has not been able to escape the very 
legal form of the economic conditions which pre- 
vailed in the rest of Europe, but the process was 
arrested for several centuries, so that one can get 
a fairly good idea of what France or Germany was 
in the Eighth or Ninth Century by studying the 
rich documentary and historical nearer past in 
Russia. It was only in the Sixteenth and Seven- 
teenth Centuries that the peasant was by legisla- 
tion tied to the glebe, whereas this evolution, or 
rather devolution, had been accomplished else- 
where in the Thirteenth Century. So, while on 
the one hand the agriculturist in Russia was in a 
more primitive state as regards his material ex- 
istence, he retained a rude kind of liberty for a 
much longer time than in Spain, France, or Ger- 
many. The old freedom of agricultural domicile 
and labor and the new democracy meet here more 
immediately than anywhere in Europe. 

When the agricultural slavery was aggravated 
by the growing military oppression, many of the 
peasants, still conscious of their human rights, es- 
caped into the outlying districts of the Empire, be- 
yond the reach of the Government, and there es- 
tablished crude republics, now obliged to defend 

24 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

their liberties in constant wars against Tartars, 
Nogais, Turks, and Caucasian mountaineers. 
These advance posts of Kussian civilization, the 
Cossacks, have done immeasurable service to the 
state, and, though now entirely incorporated into 
the military institution and, in spite of their blind 
adherence to the throne, represent a rough and 
fundamental democracy, of which many peasants 
in Russia are still capable, if the opportunity is 
once given to them. 

If the extreme distance from Rome is the cause 
of the economic backwardness of Russia through- 
out the Middle Ages, the same distance has had 
even more disastrous results in matters religious 
and educational. The centralization of the Cath- 
olic Church, with its universal use of the Latin lan- 
guage for religious and educational purposes, has 
been a great benefit to medieval learning and the 
formation of upper class morality. In the first 
centuries of its existence Christianity exerted only 
a superficial influence on the masses. The Latin 
language was inaccessible to them, and after the 
patristic period the Catholic theology, up to the 
time of Charlemagne, with rare exceptions busied 
itself only with external things, with ritual ob- 
servances rather than with the spirit of religion. 
During that period it is extremely doubtful if the 
people at large led more than a vegetative Chris- 
tian existence. Paganism and Christianity 
jostled one another, and the Indiculus Supersti- 

The Currents of Ancient Russian Life 25 

tionum, still current in the Tenth Century, shows 
that the new religion had not penetrated much 
under the skin. But the clergy being compelled 
to learn a new language, one that forever sepa- 
rated them from the people, were drawn into a 
closer union with the Catholic clergy throughout 
Europe, and so had at least the chance to exchange 
ideas with a more or less educated class through- 
out Catholic Christendom. Not even the clergy 
may be held to have been thoroughly Christian 
during the Middle Ages, and there is not a lapse 
into paganism of which they have not been gnilty 
at one time or another. But they were always in 
possession of Latin learning, and the monasteries 
not only attracted these who wished to lead a con- 
templative life, away from the temptations of the 
world, but also became the seminaries of culture 
and art. 

Until the Ninth Century the masses gieaned 
from the new religion only so much as the priests 
imparted to them in sermons and in private ex- 
hortations. Charlemagne in 813 wisely suggested 
that homilies should be written in the native 
tongue, a practise that became universal only at a 
much later time. The later Middle Ages are, from 
a religious standpoint, significant in that the 
masses are trying to appropriate for themselves 
that religion which before had been held in cus- 
tody by the Church. That is the meaning of the 
Reformation. This struggle goes hand in 

26 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

hand with the growth of the national conscious- 
ness and the development of the native languages, 
as against the Latin of the Church. The common 
language had been useful before in uniting the 
Christians; now the national languages made it 
possible for the masses to grasp and interpret the 
tenets of the New Testament for themselves. 
The process of christianization has been an ex- 
tremely slow one in the West, and in many in- 
stances it is still very far from being thorough. 
In international affairs, in criminology, in philan- 
thropy it is still the pagan code of morals that is 
active, even though God and Christ are invoked as 
witnesses and protectors. 

Eome was too far away to Christianize Eussia. 
This task was left to Byzantium in the Tenth Cen- 
tury. Individual conversions had sporadically 
taken place before, but it was only in 988 that 
Kussia became officially Christian. The Greek 
Church permitted the Gospel to be preached in 
any other than the Greek tongue, and all the Slavs 
that received their religion from Constantinople 
heard the Bible read in Bulgarian, which at the 
time differed but very little from the spoken 
Slavic dialects in the North. Thus the newly con- 
verted Eussians were at once placed in entirely 
different relations to the Church than the nations 
of the West had been. While the masses could ap- 
proximately make out, if not the inner meaning of 
the religious precepts, at least the definite injunc- 

The Currents of Ancient Russian Life 27 

tions, the clergy were at a great disadvantage, for 
they neither had the vivifying influence of priests 
and monks better trained than they in a native re- 
ligious literature, nor was there any direct need 
for them to apply themselves to the study of Greek 
theology. The people merely added to their pagan 
beliefs a mass of Christian observances, while the 
clergy, who had to be recruited from these same 
people, found nowhere a corrective for their dis- 
torted views. Indeed, with the exception of the 
highest members of the ecclesiastic hierarchy, who 
up to the Tartar invasion were almost exclusively 
drawn from among the Greeks, the lower clergy 
and the monks frequently could neither read nor 
write and had to be taught the performance of 
their duties in a perfunctory manner. Of course, 
there were memorable exceptions, where the mon- 
asteries produced scholars and writers of con- 
siderable merit. This was noticeably the case 
with the religious institutions of Kiev, because 
here the scholastic learning of Catholic Poland 
could not entirely be excluded. But on the whole 
it may be asserted that the clergy did not stand 
higher than their flocks. On the contrary, since 
they wielded a considerable power, which, in the 
Sixteenth Century, was increased through a 
greater union of church and state, they frequently 
deteriorated even more than the masses and were 
decidedly worse than they. 

Of the paganism preceding Christianity in 

28 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

Russia we know exceedingly little. It seems cer- 
tain, however, that it was more a loose aggrega- 
tion of superstitious beliefs, such as a simple agri- 
cultural people may have formed out of its con- 
tact with nature, than a well-developed mythology 
with objectionable or immoral practises. The 
esoteric meaning of the Christian religion was not 
accessible to them, but the physical retribution for 
transgressions appealed greatly to their primitive 
imagination, and they vied with one another in 
fasting, long and exhausting prayers, mortifica- 
tion of the flesh and protracted pilgrimages. 
From these facts Russian historians and theolo- 
gians conclude that the condition of Christianity 
was infinitely lower in Eussia than in the West. 
This is true only to a certain degree, for it can- 
not be said that the Western conception of 
religion was more spiritual. It was frequently 
more scholastic, on the part of the clergy, but it 
was hardly more sincere, even if less primitive, on 
the part of the masses. 

The Russian religious fervor compares favor- 
ably with that of the Egyptian Thebaid, — and the 
Copts were neither savage nor uncultured. If 
the Western monks did not emulate the macera- 
tions of Simeon Stylites and similar anchorites, 
the cause was not due to any higher conception of 
religion. As Lecky has aptly said, ' ' The Western 
monks, from the condition of their climate, were 
constitutionally incapable of rivaling the absti- 

The Currents of Ancient Russian Life 29 

nence of the Egyptian anchorites; but their con- 
ception of supreme excellence was much the same, 
and they labored to compensate for their infe- 
riority in penances by claiming some superiority 
in miracles." If such is the case, the exercise of 
penances in the rigorous Eussian climate, not only 
by monks, but by the people at large, rather adds 
to than detracts from their religiousness. What 
has happened here is this: A simple, unreason- 
ing faith, accompanied by austere practises and 
unaffected by theological speculations and philo- 
sophic deductions, has survived until modern 
times, while the West, more fortunate in its in- 
tellectual progress, has passed through intermin- 
able attempts to harmonize religion and science, 
losing in faith while gaining in material goods. 
It is not a question whether the one or the other is 
better, — the undeniable fact is that faith was an 
important factor in the Russia of old, even, as we 
shall see later, it is a prime mover at the present 
time. Whatever the difference of the intellectual 
outfit of Tolstoy and of a Russian of the Middle 
Ages may be, and the difference is enormous, their 
essential faith is the same. 

Though the masses were in a measure religious, 
they were thoroughly ignorant as regards book 
learning, because the monasteries could not fur- 
nish it, as they did in the West, and because there 
was no other means of obtaining an education. 
There existed, indeed, a not inconsiderable amount 

30 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

of medieval literature in Russia, but it was ex- 
clusively in the service of the Church, even when 
of a secular nature. If there were laymen who 
could read, their reading was confined to ecclesias- 
tic literature and to apocryphal stories, of 
which Russia has preserved an enormous number. 
While Western romantic stories, of the type of 
Bevys of Hamptoun, reached the East, only a small 
number could enjoy them, and their influence upon 
the masses was insignificant. Historians, both 
native and foreign, have ascribed this backward- 
ness in education to the terrible ravages wrought 
by the Tartars, the destruction of the monasteries, 
and the brutalization of the masses. But the edu- 
cation after the invasion was not in any sense dif- 
ferent from what it had been before, and there 
were no factors at work, especially in the Church, 
which made popular education a necessity, hence 
in the Fifteenth Century, and even much later, 
Russia was not farther advanced in book learning 
than the West had been in the Eighth Century. 

The Russian historian Zabyelin very aptly typi- 
fies the Russian of the period before Peter the 
Great in the person of the bogatyr, the epic hero, 
whom he represents as trying with gigantic force 
and unbridled license to break the bonds imposed 
upon him by ages of paternal and cruel guardian- 
ship. The historian sees the whole trouble of 
ancient Russia in the establishment of the social 
unit, not in the individual, nor in the family, but 

The Currents of Ancient Russian Life 31 

in the gens. Kussian medieval society did not 
recognize the independent personality, but only 
the head of the gens, which was the family with 
the inclusion of all those persons, both related and 
unrelated, who were considered as minors and 
without rights in respect to the State. The eco- 
nomic conditions of agriculture made a subdi- 
vision of a paternal estate undesirable, and so the 
estate, or, to use somewhat loosely the Roman 
term, the gens, was the representative unit, within 
which ruled arbitrary power, tempered only by 
such restraint as religion could force upon it. In 
relation to the head, "the master,' ' all the mem- 
bers of the gens, wife and children, relatives and 
servants, were minors, without a personal will, 
and blindly subject to his command. In modern 
society personal liberty and property rights are 
secured by legal enactments and governmental 
protection, while in such a gens the same object 
was supposed to be obtained by parental ward- 

Here we have again that arrested growth, which 
was characteristic of Western society in Visi- 
gothic and Merovingian times. There, too, the 
State, in apportioning land to the colonists, did 
not deal with individuals, nor with families, but 
with the gens, and undivided estates are of con- 
stant mention in the early history of Italy, France, 
and Spain. Nor was this the result of barbarous, 
Germanic conditions, but a direct development of 

32 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

a prevailing Roman institution. Here Russia 
of the Middle Ages once more touches the classic 
times. One example will fully illustrate it. The 
estates in Russia received their names from the 
gens that held them, by attaching the suffix ichi, to 
indicate the fact. But this is identical with the 
Visigothic custom, in colonization, to form the 
name of such a gentile estate by means of the suf- 
fix ano, which in its turn is a borrowing of the 
same Roman habit, where villages were named by 
means of the ending anus. 

This system of the gentile organization was uni- 
versal in the Russian state. Governmentally the 
whole of Russia was an undivided estate of the 
family of Rurik, in which the separate provinces 
and cities were only temporarily held by the minor 
princes, the elder prince always sitting in Kiev. 
This constant transposition of the rulers, upon the 
death of the Grand Prince of Kiev, made it impos- 
sible for the development of a feudal system, such 
as existed in France. The unity of Russia, in 
spite of the eternal quarrels of the dissatisfied ap- 
panages, was distinctly felt by the masses, and as 
early as the Twelfth Century a Russian priest at 
Jerusalem offered prayers for "all of Russia." 
When the increasing family of Rurik produced an 
endless number of subdivisions and the city of 
Kiev no longer could maintain its superiority, the 
appanages slowly fell into disuse, and the strong 
Muscovite princes had no difficulty in "gathering 

The Currents of Ancient Russian Life 33 

in" the lands, because the people at large had al- 
ways recognized the unity of the Russian Empire. 
If Russia had always been one in the national 
spirit, it now became one in fact as well. 

The people, like the family in the private estate, 
was the ward of the Tsar, and liberties were ob- 
tained, not by constitutional prerogatives, but by 
the grace of the "father." The Tsar could 
punish severely, or he could be "merciful." In 
any case he exercised his patria potestas. When 
Ivan the Terrible massacred and reduced the up- 
per nobility who showed some signs of independ- 
ence, the nation did not interfere, but still looked 
up to the Tsar, who wisely favored the masses 
against the upper classes. His cruelty, appalling 
as it was, cannot in any sense be ascribed to the 
condition of Russian political life, but only to the 
spirit of the time, which was not more favorable 
in England, under Henry the Eighth, or in Italy, 
under the Borgias. To the Russian people Ivan 
was still "the father." The idea of Imperial 
guardianship was so deeply rooted in the masses, 
that whenever persecutions drove the people into 
rebellion, they only claimed to revolt against the 
illegal sovereign, choosing another, often a 
usurper, whom they represented as the genuine 
emperor, the one on the throne being claimed as a 
fraudulent substitution. 

As in the State, so in the home. The will of the 
father was the determining factor in the existence 

34 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

of the family. Without the head, the family fell 
to pieces and had no standing. The individual 
had no rights except such as were derived from 
the head of the household. We get an excellent 
idea of the home life of ancient Eussia from the 
Domostroy, a Book of House Management, written 
in the Sixteenth Century. Here the sum total of 
worldly wisdom is discussed under five heads: 
" (1) How to believe; (2) How to honor the Tsar 
and all secular authority; (3) How to honor the 
clergy and all ecclesiastic authority; (4) How to 
live in peace, and (5) How to manage one's 
house. ' ' As may be expected from the concept of 
the household, this instruction is directed to the 
head of the gens, "the master." It is he who is 
to be responsible for the morals and the well- 
being of the house. Hence he must not only see 
to it that the servants and slaves under his care 
are brought up in the fear of God, but that the 
orphans and children under his guardianship are 
equally instructed in religion. In case of dis- 
obedience they are all to receive corporal punish- 
ment, from four to thirty strokes, the servants be- 
ing punished but little more severely than the 
children. So, too, his wife is to teach her children 
and her slaves to do what is right. 

His wife must teach her servants and her chil- 
dren to do what is right, with kindness and with 
severity : she must have no words, but should only 
strike. If the husband sees that things do not run 

The Currents of Ancient Russian Life 35 

properly with his wife and his servants, he must 
instruct his wife with proper reasoning, and must 
love her and be kind to her, if she pays attention. 
If his wife does not live up to that instruction and 
does not teach her children, her husband should 
punish her and instil fear in private, and after the 
punishment he should treat her kindly. Similarly 
he should punish and give wounds to his servants 
and children, and, having punished them, treat 
them kindly. If the wife, or son, or daughter does 
not pay any heed to the instruction, nor show fear, 
nor does what husband, father, or mother teaches, 
then the whip is to be applied, according to the 
guilt. Let them not be punished before men, but 
in secret ; and doing it, speak kindly and instruct 
them, and forgive them ; never show your anger, 
neither wife to husband, nor husband to wife. 
And do not strike for any guilt on the ear, nor on 
the eye, nor with the fist upon the heart, nor with 
a kick, nor with the staff ; nor with any iron, nor 
wooden thing: "he who strikes in anger or passion 
causes many woes, blindness and deafness, and 
breaks an arm or leg or finger; and causes head- 
ache and toothache; and injures internally preg- 
nant women and children." 

Crude and harsh as the injunction is, the Rus- 
sian historians have greatly exaggerated the sav- 
agery of the Domostroy and of Russian home life. 
The Middle Ages were not gentle in the treat- 
ment of children, and "Spare the rod and spoil 

36 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

the child" is not only a Russian proverb. With 
usual readiness to see only the worst in the past, 
historians forget the humane side of the punish- 
ment in that rough and ignorant age. Not only 
is there to be no anger, no passion in the applica- 
tion of the rod, but the purpose of the castigation 
is improvement of the person so chastised. Wife, 
children and servants are equally subjected to this 
treatment. And it is right here that the Russian 
rude medievalism is superior, though more primi- 
tive, than the one in the West. The Russian house- 
hold does not produce that vast difference between 
master and man that the West has worked out. 
All the members of the household are wards of 
the master, and even in the most cruel time of 
serfdom the abyss between master and man is 
not appalling. Severity and meekness, autocracy 
and democracy exist side by side, — an eternal 
enigma to the foreign observer. 

The ideal of family life was blind, unreasoning 
obedience to the will of the master, while outside 
this relation to paternal authority, there was equal- 
ity of all the members. For the weaker persons 
the master was a shield and a protection ; for the 
stronger ones he was a source of arbitrary but 
reverend power. There was no escape from the 
tyranny except by leaving the household and the 
country. Thus the Cossack settlements arose, 
where brutal force, under the leadership of the 

The Currents of Ancient Russian Life 37 

hetman, united with a broad democracy, both 
principles derived from the universal conception 
of the gens. Wherever the individual stepped out 
of the gens, he became at once a democratic free- 
booter. But the historian again errs in assum- 
ing that we have here an exceptional state of so- 
ciety. Wherever the individual in the early Mid- 
dle Ages did not fit into the social organization, 
he joined some democratic roving band under the 
leadership of an all-powerful head. The most 
striking resemblance may be found in the exploits 
of Eobin Hood and his boon companions. All that 
there has taken place in Eussia is a perpetuation 
of the early medieval condition of society, with- 
out any evolution such as we observe in the West, 
and we shall see later that therein lie not only the 
faults of Russia, but also the germs of her modern 

But the historian is quite correct in seeing in 
the bogatyr a personification of old Russia. The 
bogatyr gets tired of staying a minor for thirty 
years and playing with children. He is anxious to 
make use of his untried strength, and when he 
gets out into the open field he is terrible. He 
kills his father, if he gets into his way, and his 
exploits are all titanic. But outside of the exer- 
cise of his force, he protects the widows and or- 
phans. He is self-willed, because he has remained 
a child too long and has not been allowed to de- 

38 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

velop his personality. But, though he does val- 
iant deeds of a man, he remains essentially a 

Old Russia was that uncouth, ignorant, vigorous 
bogatyr, who meekly accepted the guardianship 
until his man's estate and, when he set out to free 
himself from tutelage, could only perform heroic 
deeds for others, alternating his philanthropy 
with acts of savagery, and never able himself to 
outgrow his childishness. Russia was full of 
physically healthy, mentally untouched, morally 
unspoiled children, but there was no hope that 
these children would ever reach maturity, for one 
century was like another, and there were no new 
factors growing up from within to change the 
condition of Russian society. The only hope lay 
in some great, historic bogatyr, a self-willed, 
childlike giant, and at the same time "a master," 
who by the union of the two natures would be 
able to accomplish that which the guardian " fa- 
ther" and the rebelling bogatyr could not per- 
form separately. Such a personality was Peter 
the Great. With him begins a new Russia. 



WHEN Peter the Great broke with the tra- 
dition of the past there was not even a 
native Russian language in which to express the 
accumulating new ideas or to make an appeal to 
the people. The Church-Slavic was too far re- 
moved from the spoken idiom and ill-adapted for 
modern, progressive ideas. The Great Tsar laid 
his hands upon the old script and had it trans- 
formed so as to bring it in keeping with the Ro- 
man alphabet in use in the West. But he was 
powerless to dictate the norm for a literary lan- 
guage, for he was conscious that the spoken idiom 
was not better adapted for it than the mystic 
language of the Church. Yet the very use of the 
new, ''civic" alphabet at once separated the incip- 
ient secular literature from the influence of the ec- 
clesiastic writings, and within a century the 
spoken form was purified, normalized and per- 
fected by the writings of Lomonosov, Derzhavin, 
Karamzin, and a host of minor authors, until it 
became one of the most pliable and perfect lan- 


40 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

guages in Europe. Its vocabulary is far richer 
than either the German or English, and it is ad- 
mirably fitted to represent the most delicate po- 
etical, philosophic, and scientific shades of con- 
notations. The last of the great literary lan- 
guages of Europe to forge its way to the front, 
it is not surpassed by any in all the elements 
necessary to preserve for it an enduring place in 

The Eighteenth Century was naturally an age 
of imitation for Russian literature. The French 
pseudo-classic influence was abroad, and even the 
more fortunately situated Germany had little to 
show that was not at that time coarsely borrowed 
from France. Frederic the Great boasted that 
he served his native literature most by leaving 
it alone and devoting himself strictly to the prop- 
agation of the French language. Yet, though 
French was universally spoken in the upper 
classes of Eussian society, the native literature 
grew in popularity, and in the reign of Catherine 
the Great it became an important factor in shap- 
ing the political and social ideals of the nation. 
Catherine herself abandoned the French models 
and in her dramas showed the influence of the 
more direct and natural English school of writers, 
represented by Addison and Steele. Her example 
was emulated by the best Russian authors, and 
for some years there was a surfeit of periodicals 
in the style of the Spectator and the Tattler. 

National Ideals of Russian Literature 41 

The influence of English thought did not, how- 
ever, stop at mere external form. The very struc- 
ture of the language in Karamzin's writings shows 
that his stay in England is responsible for the 
substitution of the simple, direct style for the 
older periodic structure, and Karamzin's example 
has been followed ever since. 

The peculiar genius of the Eussian people to 
bring its literature into direct relation to life and 
to abandon traditional canons may be discerned 
even at this early time. Literature was as yet 
the occupation of men in the service of the power- 
ful and cultured, hence it found its expression 
mainly in flattery, in an endless series of turgid 
and soulless odes, mostly written by order. Yet 
Derzhavin, the most talented of the poets, sought 
the favor of the Empress by his Ode to Felitsa, 
which set the literary canons at nought by its 
scurrilous sarcasm. The contemporaries hailed 
this innovation of the verse as an emancipation 
from literary slavery, and encomiastic poetry was 
forever dead. Similarly the light raillery at so- 
ciety foibles indulged in by Catherine in her come- 
dies had far more serious results than she had 
anticipated or was willing to countenance. It was 
taken up by the writers of the satirical journals, 
to be used as a weapon in their attacks upon the 
dark sides of life, whether they were the fault 
of society or of the Government. This was still 
more the case with the comedies of the time, which 

42 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

did not content themselves with a criticism of 
manners, as in Fon-Vizin's The Minor or Knya- 
zhnin's Odd People, but ventured even on the 
dangerous path of censuring Government officials 
for their loose morals and readiness to be bribed. 
The stanza "Take, you'll learn the art with ease, 
take whatever you can seize," which is found in 
Kapnist's Pettifoggery, became a byword soon 
after the performance of the comedy, from which 
it may be seen that even at that time Russians 
looked upon their literature as a kind of political 

The most interesting case of the interaction of 
literature and politics is to be seen in Radishchev's 
Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow. Ra- 
dishchev was in charge of the Customs House 
when he found it necessary to acquire the Eng- 
lish language in order to dispense with a transla- 
tor in the transaction of business with England. 
He was attracted by Sterne's Sentimental Jour- 
ney, the manner and style of which he adopted in 
his own work, but the purposes of the two produc- 
tions were quite dissimilar. In the Russian Sen- 
timental Journey the underlying idea was the 
breaking away from tradition, tyranny and ob- 
scurantism. He advocated the liberation of the 
serfs, the abolition of class distinction, already 
greatly reduced by Peter's institution of ranks, 
a toleration of dissenters, and many more en- 
lightened views, which were influenced by the 

National Ideals of Russian Literature 43 

democratic tendencies of the French and the 
North American Revolution. Catherine divined 
at once the purport of his Journey, which having 
been prohibited by the censor, was current in man- 
uscript form. She saw in it the work of Frank- 
lin's ideas, for she is said to have exclaimed, "He 
is a Martinist, he praises Franklin." And Ra- 
dishchev and Novikov, the editor of several of the 
satirical journals, were the first literary martyrs 
in Russia, the first bogatyrs in literature, to be 
followed by a continuous stream of protagonists 
of the people, who have suffered exile and con- 
finement in prisons and in Siberia, who have pre- 
ferred struggle with want to Governmental ad- 
vancement or lionization in society, who have ab- 
horred the cry of "art for art's sake," and have 
defied all traditional canons of literature in the 
one desire to serve the people. 

Naturally not all the authors have belonged to 
this school, and many attempts have been made 
to adopt the "Western, well-established literary 
models, but all those which had no root in the na- 
tional ideal have been fugitive and without any 
consequence. The Romantic movement of the 
German type, with its extravagant conception of 
a nation's past and its reveling in a misty present, 
produced the facile translator Zhukovski, but its 
efforts were as abortive as those of the preced- 
ing pseudo-classicists. Sentimentalism held sway 
for some time, counting among its representatives 

44 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

the talented Karamzin and Vyazemski, but it, too, 
vanished soon, because ecstatic emotion is not in- 
herent in the Russians as it is in the Germans. 
The English Romanticism, as treated by Byron, 
was much longer in vogue, because it demanded a 
free exercise of one's passions and reveled in a 
revolt against conventions and political tyranny, 
because it was essentially a literature of bogatyrs. 
A happy conjunction of circumstances made 
Pushkin the arch-priest of Romanticism in Rus- 
sia. Every foreign influence had been brought to 
bear upon Russian literature when Pushkin en- 
tered the area. French, German, Italian, Latin, 
English models had been successfully imitated and 
adapted by his predecessors, and Karamzin had 
given the language that polish which the Roman- 
ticists needed for their voluptuous imagery. The 
Napoleonic wars having been terminated by the 
Russian campaign of 1812, the country had created 
its own heroic figure in the person of Alexander 
I, and the presence of Russian troups in many 
European countries had so enlarged the literary 
geography as to furnish an extraneous setting 
which the authors of that school needed for their 
exotic heroes. Pushkin himself was half an ex- 
otic. Russian to the core, his negro ancestry 
made his blood course more rapidly, and the ro- 
mantic exaltation which he was to depict was part 
of his own nature. The society in which he moved 
in his youth harbored just such Don Juans, Childe 

National Ideals of Russian Literature 45 

Harolds, Beppos, Manfreds as formed the themes 
of Byron and his school, and at the age of twenty, 
one of his liberal utterances and scurrilous verses 
caused his banishment to the Crimea and the Cau- 
casus, where he found a native substitute for the 
countries of the Mediterranean, the classic hab- 
itat of Childe Harold and other " children of na- 
ture. ' ' 

The ideal of the English Romanticists was the 
liberation of the individual from tyranny, not only 
of the state, but also of the bourgeois democracy, 
hence Revolt is their motto. Byron died in his 
attempt to free Greece, and Shelley expressed his 
rebellious spirit in the very titles of his great 
poems, The Revolt of Islam and Prometheus Un- 
bound. This sentiment appealed greatly to the 
bogatyr Pushkin. Before the liberation of the 
masses could take place, the individual had to be 
freed from the bonds of political and social tradi- 
tion. Before we establish a colorless equality, we 
must have a reign of individual inequalities. In 
a conversation with Madame Smirnov Pushkin is 
reported to have said: "In all times there have 
been chosen ones, leaders, — as far back as Noah 
and Abraham. The intelligent will of individuals, 
or of the minority, has ruled humanity. In the 
masses the will is disunited, and he who has the 
power over the masses blends the wills into one. 
In all forms of government men have in a fatal 
way submitted to the minority or to individuals, 

46 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

so that the word democracy presents itself to me 
to some extent without contents and deprived of 
a foundation. With the Greeks the men of 
thought were equal, — they were the real rulers. 
In reality, inequality is the law of nature. Con- 
sidering the diversity of talents, even of physical 
possibilities, there is no uniformity in the human 
mass, hence, there is also no equality. The mi- 
nority has undertaken all the changes for the 
better or for the worse, and the crowd has fol- 
lowed in its footsteps, like Panurge's flock. To 
kill Caesar, Brutus and Cassius sufficed; to kill 
Tarquin, there was need only of Brutus. To 
transform Eussia, the power of Peter the Great 
alone was enough. Napoleon checked what there 
was left of the Eevolution without any outside aid. 
Individuals have accomplished all the great deeds 
in history. The will has created, destroyed, trans- 
formed. Nothing can be more interesting than 
the history of the saints, those men with extraor- 
dinary strength of character. Men like these were 
followed and emulated, but the first word was al- 
ways said by them. All this appears as a direct 
contradiction of the democratic system, which 
does not recognize individuals, — that natural aris- 
tocracy. I do not think that the world will ever 
see the end of that which issues from the depth 
of human nature, which, besides, exists in Nature, 
of inequality." 

National Ideals of Russian Literature 47 

This credo of Pushkin is of great importance, 
not only in helping us to locate the vacillating, 
childlike, titanic nature of the poet himself, but 
also to understand the similar natures of the Eus- 
sian protagonists of a later time, until we reach 
Lev Tolstoy, to whom "those saints with ex- 
traordinary strength of character" appealed as 
much as they did to the great poet. The poet 
was confronted, on the one hand, by the barbarism 
of the Government, whose only purpose seemed 
to be the crushing of every individual endeavor, 
and, on the other, by a servile, ignorant, material- 
istic society, that only enjoyed glittering medioc- 
rity and could not understand art and literature, 
except in the service of their jaded tastes. Push- 
kin was a Greek in his conception of beauty and 
truth, and he was fully aware of his duty to so- 
ciety, as he distinctly explained in his poem, The 
Prophet. Now he felt that he should be a Brutus, 
and now, that he should find his mission in the pas- 
sive virtues of a saint. But more often he vacil- 
lated, alternating between titanic onslaughts on 
the powers of evil and childlike contemplation of 
beauties all around him. In this apparent indif- 
ference to the masses he most resembles Goethe, 
with whom he shares many views on the destiny of 
man and the purposes of art. Both fell short of 
being the people's poets, and yet both were equally 
indifferent to the governmental fates of their na- 

48 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

tions. Both worshiped the hero and preserved a 
philosophic poise in a time of great stress and 
democratic strivings. 

The Romantic movement flourished for a while 
in Russia, and the gifted Lermontov, too early 
lost to literature, evolved a more etherealized as- 
pect of the revolt, one that is akin to the spirit of 
Shelley. The Romantic novel, for which Push- 
kin had set an example in his Captain's Daughter 
and Evgeni Onyegin, was cultivated in Lermon- 
tov 's Hero of Our Time, and was elaborated by 
a whole host of novelists of more than ordinary 
ability. But even in the lifetime of Pushkin the 
exotic Romanticism evolved into the specifically 
Russian "natural" school, leaving behind only a 
love for the borderlands, the Crimea and the Cau- 
casus, which play an important part even in the 
productions of Tolstoy. It was Pushkin's friend, 
Gogol, who had successfully reproduced the he- 
roic of the south of Russia in his Tar as Bulba and 
his Little Russian Sketches, who was to be pro- 
claimed as the founder of a new, a distinctively 
Russian school of literature. 

Although Gogol's The Mantle is the first no- 
table realistic storv, it is his Revizor and his Dead 
Souls that evoked the deep admiration of his 
critic. The Revizor would be considered in the 
AVest as an excellent farce, exceptionally well con- 
structed on the basis of a mistaken identity, but 
in Russia it is considered as the culminating ef- 

National Ideals of Russian Literature 49 

fort of the comedy in its attack upon rascality and 
corruption. The comedies of Fon-Vizin and Kap- 
nist had a worthy successor in Griboyedov's In- 
telligence Comes to Grief, in which cringing of- 
ficialdom of the '20 's and the superficialities of 
what was known as best society were mercilessly 
ridiculed. Eussians had come to think of it as the 
last word in dramatic art, when the Revizor by 
its unsurpassed humor and pungent sarcasm over- 
shadowed all previous attempts in this direction 
and made official life a butt of ridicule throughout 
the land. It was worth a stack of political pam- 
phlets, and its life would have been cut short in 
its very incipiency, had not Emperor Nicholas 
laughed himself sick at the first private perform- 
ance, thus sanctioning its publication. Similarly 
Bead Souls could pass elsewhere only as a clever 
transference of Don Quixote's exploits to modern 
Russia, nor would it have attracted there more 
than a passing attention. But when Pushkin 
heard Gogol read the first part of it, where on the 
slender plot of rascally Chichikov's purchase of 
deceased " souls" from the landed proprietors are 
strung a large number of negative characters of 
society, the miser, the brute, the shrewd business 
woman, the gambler, and so forth, he had tears in 
his eyes and exclaimed, "How sad our Russia is!" 
And Byelinski, the critic, hastened to pronounce 
this work as making an epoch, as being the first 
of the new, the "natural," school in Russia. 

50 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

There was good reason for such an assumption. 
Kussian literature had consistently departed more 
and more from its servile attitude to the rich and 
mighty; it had voiced the native repugnance to 
unreasoning tradition; it had striven for an im- 
provement in social and political life, not by fine- 
spun theories of possible Utopias, but by the rep- 
resentation of a bare and cheerless reality. It is 
true, not all authors had shown the same eager- 
ness in espousing the people's cause, but there was 
a continuous stream of ardent advocates of de- 
mocracy from Novikov and Radishchev until 
Gogol, and in Gogol all the characteristic Russian 
elements were greatly intensified. No one before 
him had indulged in such bold realism, with utter 
disregard of the literary canons, which demanded 
a nice balancing between good and evil and did 
not permit the mere representation of misery, ras- 
cality, suffering. There is not one redeeming 
character in the Revizor or in the Dead Souls. 
They are, every one of them, tainted by some 
weakness. Not that Gogol did not know of any 
men and women of unstained morals. He_simply 
reproduced the Russian spirit of self-accusation, 
of confession of sins, and he appeared as that 
apostle of patriotism which could improve and 
help its country, not by self-flattery and sickly 
chauvinism, but by a studious representation of 
native faults and shortcomings. His appeal was 

National Ideals of Russian Literature 51 

not to any one class of readers, but to the whole of 

Byelinski recognized the fact that Russian liter- 
ature represented a conscious and persistent effort 
in the direction of simplicity and naturalness, and 
away from artificiality and tradition. Sooner or 
later it had to reach out for the typical in life and 
abandon the pleasing exceptions, that is, it was 
to become a servant of "the people," the masses, 
and not of a select class of society. The people 
had no set artistic traditions, but an infinitely va- 
ried spiritual life, the virtues of which shone 
through all the external crust of social degrada- 
tion, often more brilliantly than in the most fa- 
vored members of society. To bring this spiritual 
life to the surface, one must not hide or trans- 
mogrify the hideous accretions, as the poets have 
been doing, but one must learn to discern first 
the obvious and unpleasant accessories. One 
must speak the truth. Realism is the basis of true 
literature, but it is not its all. First we should 
learn to see and love the naked truth, and not 
shrink from the disclosures of reality. Then this 
truth should be given to the world, not in order 
to satisfy some prurient artistic desire, but in 
order to serve humanity. Literature is one of the 
activities of religion, in its attempt to help those 
who need help most, and if charity is the funda- 
mental virtue of religion, it cannot be absent from 

52 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

literature as well, and the lowest men must be 
equally embraced with the highest in its new pur- 
pose of "art for life's sake." 

"The Kedeemer of the human race came into the 
world for all men; not wise and educated men, 
but simple-minded and simple-hearted fishermen 
He called to be fishers of men ; not rich and happy 
men, but poor, suffering, fallen men He sought, 
in order to console some, and encourage and raise 
others. Festering sores on a body that was hardly 
covered with unclean rags did not offend His eyes, 
which shone with love and charity. He, the Son 
of God, loved men humanely and sympathized with 
them in their misery, dirt, shame, debauch, vices, 
wrongdoings. He bid those throw a stone at the 
adulteress who could not in any way accuse their 
own consciences, and put the hard-hearted judges 
to shame, and gave the fallen woman a word of 
consolation, — and the robber who breathed his last 
on the cross as a well-deserved punishment, for 
one moment of repentance, heard from Him the 
word of forgiveness and peace. But we, the sons 
of men, we want to love only those of our brothers 
who are like us, we turn away from the lower 
classes as from pariahs, fallen ones, lepers. What 
virtues and deserts have given us the right to do 
so? Is it not rather the very absence of all vir- 
tues and deserts ? But the divine word of love and 
brotherhood has not in vain been proclaimed in 
the world.' ' 

National Ideals of Russian Literature 53 

These significant words of the critic show that 
the underlying conviction of the Russian writers 
was based on a deep religious sentiment, and that 
sooner or later they would gravitate towards the 
simple Christianity of the first centuries. Though 
ignorant and uncouth, the peasants had preserved 
the chief element of religion, untouched by philo- 
sophic reason, and the growing interest in truth, 
naturalness, simplicity, which characterizes all 
spiritual efforts in Russia in the Nineteenth Cen- 
tury, could be maintained and fanned only by 
turning away from the artificiality of society and 
seeking communion with the " people." Every- 
thing that bore the imprint of the conventional 
and the particularistic was rejected. The severest 
blow fell upon poetry, as being built up on arti- 
ficial canons and more especially in the service of 
the "select." The mantle of Pushkin had de- 
scended on a series of authors who at any other 
time would have been the pride of the nation. But 
the exquisite literary vignettes of Fet, the gentle, 
picturesque lyrics of Polonski, the dramatic poems 
of Aleksyey Tolstoy fell on unwilling ears, and 
the idealizations of the classic and medieval past 
of Maykov even provoked the acrid criticism of 
Pisarev, who predicted that the time was near 
when the esthetician and poet would disappear like 
so many slugs of the primeval world. The poet's 
activity was condemned by him because it was not 
prompted by any desire to tell society anything 

54 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

useful, because lie did not consciously aid in the 
development of men in any direction. He was 
simply an artisan who did not wish his skill to go 
in vain, who created classic poems in proportion 
as he was in need of some cash, and not because he 
had anything new to talk about. He was simply 
an intellectual parasite. 

But the creative power died hard. While the 
poets of pure art had to wait for more favorable 
times to have their collected works fittingly pub- 
lished, the poets of the " people" bridged over the 
chasm between art and reality, by singing of the 
cheerless, everyday scenes in the lives of the 
masses. Koltsov had begun to write in the style of 
the popular songs even in the lifetime of Pushkin, 
but it was mainly Nekrasov who made such lyrics 
viable. He had published a volume of songs in the 
classic style in 1840, but this having been unfavor- 
ably received, he bought it up and destroyed it. 
He ventured again into the field of poetry in 1856, 
but this time the interest in the submerged classes 
of society which actuated him gave him new and 
undreamt of possibilities. Had Pisarev lived long 
enough to witness the universal worship of this 
poet of the p-eople, he would have found a perma- 
nent place for him in his scheme of "art for life's 

The widest field for the creative genius lay now 
in prose, where the freer scope of natural speech 
did not subject the writer to the suspicion of arti- 

National Ideals of Russian Literature 55 

ficial effort, hence the unprecedented growth of the 
Russian novel since the days of Byelinski. Push- 
kin laid the foundation for the characteristic study 
of Russian society with his poetical Evgeni Onye- 
gin, and Lermontov had indicated the same need 
for the treatment of contemporary conditions in 
his romantic novel with the significant title A 
Hero of Our Time. But the real impetus to the 
new school was given only by Turgenev when he 
introduced the peasant into literature in his 
Memoirs of a Huntsman. These appeared in the 
same year as Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle 
Tom's Cabin, from which it differs in purport and 
results, as the Russian spirit differs from the 
American. Uncle Tom's Cabin was intended as a 
protest against the evil of slavery and as such it 
preached the broadest humanitarian views, which 
by the authoress herself were a year later 
strengthened by a large amount of documentary 
evidence as to the evil, not only from a moral, but 
also from an economic standpoint. It is because 
of the intrusion of purely practical considerations 
that the resulting propaganda for the abolition of 
slavery led to the sanguinary conflict between the 
North and the South. In Russia, the revelations 
contained in Turgenev 's sketches, even more 
startling than those in Uncle Tom's Cabin, be- 
cause they were based on experiences on his 
mother's farm, came at a time when all the better 
classes of society were seeking in literature a de- 

56 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

liverance from all enthralling factors in life. Not 
only the intellectual proletariat, that had nothing 
to lose, but a large number of serf owners as well, 
threw themselves with vigor upon the propagation 
of the new faith of a broader humanity, and from 
1858 to 1861 the serfs were freed, without blood- 
shed, by the command of the Emperor who was 
only executing the people's will. Economically 
the emancipation was a huge blunder, from which 
Russia is still suffering, but from the standpoint 
of pure humanity it is one of the greatest triumphs 
in the history of religious thought. 

It was one of the basic tenets of the Natural 
School that an author could describe only that 
which he knew best from his personal observation. 
Turgenev, who soon after the writing of the first 
sketches left Russia, to return to it only sporadi- 
cally, chose for his subjects men from the cultured 
middle class nobility, with whom he remained in 
constant relation, but did not continue the de- 
scriptions from peasant life, which grew to be 
foreign to him. This was chiefly done by Grigo- 
rovich in a series of novels which gave him the 
title of the Russian Harriet Beecher Stowe, and 
by a number of minor authors, Uspenski, Zlatov- 
ratski and others, who differed from one another 
in their convictions as to the backwardness of the 
masses and their possible future. Turgenev, in 
depicting the life of the cultured classes, tried to 
give a running commentary on the intellectual 

National Ideals of Russian Literature 57 

progress of society. In his Fathers and Sons he 
attempted to characterize the young generation 
of men who took np a negative attitude towards 
contemporary civilization, for whom he created the 
term "Nihilists." In reality it is an unconscious 
comparison of the struggle which ensues when 
German materialistic positivism conflicts in the 
same person with Russian religious idealism, for 
the hero Bazarov, who has heen trained on Mole- 
schott and Buechner, is doomed to failure when he 
transfers the cold dictates of German science to 
the unformed, hut gentle Russian social life. Ex- 
quisite as Turgenev's novels are, the Russian 
critics have accused the author of having been too 
far removed from direct contact with actualities 
to have caught completely the spiritual progress 
of Russia in the '60 's. Nor does the perfection of 
his style and workmanship make up in the Russian 
mind for a certain aloofness from the people, even 
as Tolstoy could not forgive him his aristocratic 

The intense interest in the masses had begun be- 
fore t he publ ication of the Memoirs of a Hunts- 
man. tHerzen had been obliged to leave Russia in 
1847, and he developed abroad a prodigious 
political activity in the direction of socialism. His 
trenchant reviews of political conditions, which 
he wrote for his famous The Bell, though strictly 
forbidden, were eagerly read by all classes of so- 
ciety, including the highest dignitaries of state. 

58 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

In his novel, Who is to be Blamed, he advanced 
the Russian hero to a struggle with political and 
social traditions, which for several decades was to 
he the hasis of all youthful activities. Meanwhile 
a great number of talented writers proceeded in 
true Russian fashion to lay bare the dark side, not 
only of the Government and the officials, but also 
of those men who were striving to liberate the 
people from intellectual and physical slavery. 
Pisemski reveled in the description of every kind 
of corruption, carrying his realism to the farthest 
extremes. He did not even spare the progressive 
movement of the '60 's, and the disclosure of moral 
degradation, which he made in Troubled Waters 
in 1863, was even too harrowing for the liberals, 
who otherwise welcomed revelations of their 
faults. Saltykov, on the other hand, who from a 
political exile rose to be a governor of state with- 
out compromising his democratic convictions, 
created a series of masterly satires dealing with 
the reverse side of official and provincial life. Un- 
fortunately he indulged in hidden allusions, in 
order to pass by the censor, and the linguistic dif- 
ficulties thus raised have deterred the translators 
from rendering his superb sketches, among which 
The Golovlevs deservedly enjoys a reputation as a 

A unique place is occupied by Ostrovski's 
dramas. The all-pervading influence of the 
Natural School was to be exerted on the most tra- 

National Ideals of Russian Literature 59 

ditional of the literary species. The three unities, 
even though considerably weakened with the fall 
of pseudo-classicism, the stage-setting with its 
conventional three walls, the incongruous asides, 
and many more artificialities seemed to be insur- 
mountable difficulties for the advocates of the 
natural in art. But Ostrovski solved them in a 
characteristic manner. Instead of giving com- 
plete plots, he merely strove to give a page out of 
life, with the least effort at elaboration and cli- 
maxes. These scenes are extremely realistic and 
simple, yet they tax the ability of the greatest 
actors. As to the subject matter, they deal, with 
the exception of some less successful historical 
Dramatic Chronicles, almost exclusively with 
scenes from the Orthodox merchant class, and rep- 
resent the conflict of pre-Petrine Domostroy bar- 
barity with the all-powerful modern civilization. 

All these authors busied themselves with the 
milieu to which they originally belonged. But the 
deepest study of the submerged was made by 
Dostoevski, the son of an army surgeon in ex- 
tremely reduced circumstances, for ten years an 
exile in Siberian cities and prisons, a bodily wreck 
and subject to epileptic fits. No one understood 
the suffering of the lower elements, no one ap- 
preciated their genuine virtues beneath their out- 
ward viciousness, better than he. What he de- 
scribed was what he himself had experienced, even 
though he was not himself criminally inclined. 

60 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

But that physical ailment, which predisposed to 
criminal actions, gave him an insight into the 
mental processes of human beings who did not 
heretofore figure in belles lettres to any consider- 
able extent. He began his literary career in 1846 
with a novel, Poor People, which was proclaimed 
as the work of a new Gogol. After his return 
from exile he published two long stories, embody- 
ing his experience in prisons and purlieus, under 
the significant titles The Humiliated and the Of- 
fended and Memoirs from the Dead House. These 
were soon followed by his greatest novel, Crime 
and Punishment. 

In Dostoevski the democratic and religious prin- 
ciples of the new school of literature reached their 
climax. The plot of that story is as simple as it is 
unimportant. The student Raskolnikov, goaded 
by hunger and misery, brooded in his cheerless, 
low-studded room on the right a man had, follow- 
ing the example of the great hero, Napoleon, to 
commit a crime in order to obtain a much desired 
end. The story is one long, heart-rending account 
of the criminal's crime, his confession to the fallen 
woman, Sonya, his battle of wit in an attempt to 
mislead the police, and the final expiation. As a 
psychological study the novel stands unsurpassed 
in the whole range of literature, and as such it has 
been used as the basis of a new criminology, which, 
even as the author indicated by the very title, con- 
siders crime to carry in itself the element of pun- 

National Ideals of Russian Literature 61 

ishment, or, as a distinguished Kussian lawyer 
has expressed it in analyzing Tolstoy's Resurrec- 
tion, a literary pendant to Dostoevski's story, 
Crime is Punishment. The mere psychological 
investigation of the student's crime is deeply re- 
ligious in its purpose. It is in full accord with 
the Russian popular conception that the criminal 
is an unfortunate man, that he has already suf- 
fered much by departing from the easier road of 
righteousness; that the removal of the causes 
which lead to crime is more important than the 
punishment for the crime, which is essentially the 
fault, not of the individual, but of society. Had 
Dostoevski done nothing more than to voice this 
religious spirit of the masses, his deserts would be 
very great. But he went much further. With 
masterly skill he turned the prostitute Sonya into 
an embodiment of Christian charity. She, the 
ignorant sinner, who could not follow Raskolni- 
kov's philosophic explanations of the causes of his 
crime, instinctively grasped the infinite tragedy, 
and instead of reproach or disgust burst into the 
saintly utterance, "There is no more unfortunate 
man in the whole world than you." When Oscar 
Wilde, in De Profundis, sought a cheerful word of 
hope in his prison, he turned to Dostoevski and 
the Russian "literature of pity," the only one 
where all "unfortunate" men may still get con- 
solation, though all be gloom and despair with- 

62 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

In no author have the faults and virtues of the 
whole nation been so blended as in the most typical 
of all the Russians, Lev Tolstoy. If all Russian 
literature and civilization perished, and nothing 
were left but the works of Tolstoy from which to 
reconstruct the Russian soul, we should find in 
them a complete inner history of the nation for 
the whole period of its existence. If, further- 
more, a future antiquarian, unable to locate geo- 
graphically and historically the people whom Tol- 
stoy described, should attempt to draw his con- 
clusions from internal evidence, he would be 
obliged to proclaim the nation as akin to the one 
that produced the New Testament, and the author 
as a close continuator of the passages known as the 
Sermon on the Mount. 

Externally, Tolstoy's' works betray their as- 
sociation with the Natural School. Truth, sim- 
plicity, sincerity, absence and hatred of the arti- 
ficial and conventional, neglect of style for the 
deeper elaboration of contents, the development of 
moral conflicts on a slender and ill-followed plot, 
all these had long ago been formulated by Bye- 
linski and executed by the adherents to his injunc- 
tions. Similarly Tolstoy never attempted to de- 
scribe what he had not himself experienced, actu- 
ally or potentially. Hence we find in his stories 
analyses of the upper class of landed proprietors 
and city dwellers, into whose midst he was born 
and educated, and of the peasants, with whom he 

National Ideals of Russian Literature 63 

was in constant relations and to whom he was akin 
in spirit, but we totally lack references to the mid- 
dle class, whom he knew only slightly. His 
heroes are remarkably true to Nature, not because 
he realistically chose them from his immediate 
surroundings, but because they are all diversified 
aspects of his own self, which, on account of his 
powerful genius, is but a reflection and a com- 
posite picture of the whole nation. 

When we turn to the chronological evolution of 
his literary activity, we find a singular unity of 
purpose from his first, quasi-autobiographic 
Childhood, Boyhood and Youth, to his biographic 
Confession and the artistic productions of his last 
days. Everywhere faith, simple, unreasoning 
faith, not in the dogma of this or that church/but 
in the ultimate ends of a Divine providence de- 
termines his actions and the actions of his heroes. 
As a child Tolstoy was given much to confessions, 
not as an ecclesiastic function, but as a purging 
of the soul, and the inarticulate prayers and sense- 
less penances of the saintly fool, "that saint with 
extraordinary strength of character," were to him 
the sincere expressions of a truly religious soul. 
The simplest folk were far more often possessed 
of the essence of religion than those who had been 
spoiled by civilization. In this conviction Tolstoy 
simply amplified the belief of Rousseau, expressed 
in his "return to Nature," which lay at the 
foundation of the new Romanticism. Indeed, Tol- 

64 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

stoy began his literary career more nearly as a 
full-fledged Romanticist, for he gave his earliest 
stories a setting in the Caucasus and in the 
Crimea, and the earliest sketches breathe a Rous- 
seauan contempt for civilization. But the es- 
sentially foreign Romanticism was transformed in 
the light of the views of the Natural School, a task 
which Tolstoy found very congenial to him because 
in the undeveloped Russian peasant he found the 
nearest approach to the natural man in Europe. 

There is little in Tolstoy that is new or original. 
If Rousseau is the source of his "return to Na- 
ture," the Englishman Carpenter supplied him 
with the strongest arguments against civilization, 
and a host of Americans, Parker, Channing, Gar- 
rison, Henry George, Adin Ballou, supplied him 
with religious and political ideas. But these 
authors furnished him with new material only in 
so far as they based their conceptions on the teach- 
ings of a simple Christianity, hence, in so far as 
they represented the general tendency of the Rus- 
sian mind, in so far as they gave utterance to that 
which Russians had been feeling and practising, 
without formulating a philosophy or theology. It 
is the great desert of Tolstoy that he trans- 
ferred back the results of Christian speculation 
into Christian action, that he described faith, 
charity, the brotherhood of man, humility of spirit, 
not in abstract deductions, but in actual opera- 
tion among those lowly in spirit to whom the king- 

National Ideals of Russian Literature 65 

dom of God belongs. He has attempted philo- 
sophic generalization, and, however noble their 
purpose may be, they are always weak in argument 
and defective in scientific precision. But he is al- 
ways sublime in the characterization of the Rus- 
sian soul. 

His intellectuals are always vacillating and un- 
decided, although filled with the best of purposes. 
Olenin, in The Cossacks, breaks away from the re- 
straint of the city, to begin life anew in the Cau- 
casus, but he returns without having gained any- 
thing from his communion with Nature ; Pierre, in 
War and Peace, after awkwardly blundering 
through life, settles down in a passive bourgeois 
existence ; Levin, in Anna Karenin, solves none of 
the religious and economic problems which trouble 
him all the time ; Nekhlyudov, in Resurrection, ex- 
piates his early transgressions by following the 
woman he has wronged to Siberia, but returns 
home, only to begin to ponder on the word, "Seek 
ye the kingdom of God, and his righteousness." 
In the latter case Tolstoy significantly adds, "The 
future will show how this period of his life will 
end." Everywhere Christian strivings, with the 
result removed to an uncertain future. 

Then there is the vast mass of the unthinkingly 
living, impelled by inner promptings, carried away 
by sin, creating tragedies, those men and women 
in society, Anna Karenin, Vronski, Katyusha, 
whom he does not execrate but pity, who permit us 

66 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

to exercize those Christian virtues which would 
have no meaning without a world of sinners to 
practise them upon. Deep as Tolstoy's senti- 
ments of righteousness are, we nowhere find a 
word of condemnation against the failings of the 
passions, because these failings are already a 
punishment and need only kindness to be dimin- 
ished or destroyed. But the people in the hum- 
blest walks of life, Natalya Savishna, who before 
her death calmly prepares her funeral clothes ; the 
soldier in the trench, who goes about his work and 
does his duty unflinchingly ; peasant Akim, who in 
half-articulated speech urges his son to proclaim 
his crime to all the Christians, — these are "the 
saints with extraordinary strength of character," 
whom Tolstoy loves to contrast with the customary 
heroes of the Napoleonic type. When Merezhkov- 
ski, the captious critic, tried to crush Tolstoy with 
the assertion that "he discrowns that last incarn- 
ation of the heroic spirit in history," and that he, 
"the victor over Napoleon, is himself a Napoleon 
of the numberless democratic army of the small, 
the miserable, the lamenting, and the crushed," he 
unwittingly characterized him as the greatest 
Christian author since the time of Christ. 

It would seem that the narrower aspect of life 
from the Christian angle would restrict and de- 
base literature as an art. The reverse is the case. 
Since the element of pity lies at the basis of Rus- 
sian belles lettres, it has enabled the writers to 

National Ideals of Russian Literature 67 

treat with infinite love and consummate objective- 
ness such subjects as are incompatible with the dic- 
tates of "art for art's sake." Dostoevski had al- 
ready ventured into the psychology of the criminal 
and the submerged, and a large host of authors 
have since his day descended to the lowest classes 
of society for their subjects. Gorki, himself of 
lowly origin, has reveled in depicting the elemental 
passions of the vagabond, the thief, the dwellers of 
basements, and has found simple virtues even 
among these humble people. With what consum- 
mate art he has painted the outraged ideal of 
virtue in the bakers in Twenty -Six and One! 
With even greater skill Chekhov has given us a 
gallery of scenes from every day life, with its 
tragedies and gentle virtues. Korolenko and 
Potapenko, themselves of Little-Eussian stock, 
have written in a lighter vein of simple folk and 
their joys. Andreev and Artsybashev, and a host 
of younger men, with a leaning towards the deca- 
dent, have delved in the awful field of aberration 
and disease. Wherever we turn, we have 
some aspect of the great literature of pity, which 
is distinctly an outward manifestation of the 
crude, superstitious, unthinking, but essentially 
Christian attitude of the Russian masses. 



WHEN Russia adopted Christianity from By- 
zantium in the Tenth Century, the 
Greek church had evolved a characteristic roof 
from its older semi-circular form by adding at the 
base a "neck" or "drum." The earliest Russian 
churches were formed on the Byzantine model, 
but between the Twelfth and the Fourteenth Cen- 
tury the drum was here bent inwardly, so as to 
give the cupola a belly-shape, and the hemisphere 
thus enlarged ended from above in a point. The 
hemisphere was well adapted for construction in 
stone, but the predominance of wood led to a modi- 
fication of the "pear-shaped" dome, by cutting it 
into "barrel" surfaces meeting at angles and end- 
ing above in a sharp point. It is even suggested 
that the pointed dome in the stone churches is the 
result of this special modification upon Russian 
territory. The simplest wooden roof was in the 
form of a spire, with a long projecting lower edge, 
to keep the rainwater from splashing against the 
walls of the tower. Such a roof was known as 
"tent." Barrel and tent were frequently united 


Art for Life's Sake in Russia 69 

in the same roof, and in the Sixteenth Century 
the characteristic Eussian Church architecture 
reveled in the combination of the two elements. 
It was on the point of developing into a distinct 
school, when all kinds of Western influences be- 
gan to make themselves felt. 

As early as 1475 Fioraventi had been called from 
Italy to erect churches and public buildings at 
Moscow. This architect took for his model the 
churches of Vladimir, which for two or three cen- 
turies had been showing a greater tendency to 
artistic independence, than the churches of Kiev 
or of Novgorod. In the next two centuries the 
union of the Italian ornamentation with the Vlad- 
imir type, aided by variation of the wooden 
towers, produced a great variety of complex forms 
which may be arranged in three classes. The first 
are variations of the tent towers. The second 
have a main body in the form of a long parallelo- 
piped, with a lower altar attached to one of the 
long sides and a similar structure on the other 
side, while the main building ends in two or three 
tent towers. The churches of the third, the most 
common, type are cubical in shape, with five, more 
or less ornamental domes. In many cases the 
structures are complicated by wings, galleries, 
bell-towers, etc. Beginning with the end of the 
Seventeenth Century the foreign baroque style, 
later interchanging with extravagant imitations of 
the classical, hold sway in public buildings. Only 

70 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

when the national element received its recognition 
in literature and music that the architects also 
turned to their ancient models, and, since the 
middle of the Nineteenth Century, a number of 
more or less successful attempts at restoring the 
native architecture have been made. One of the 
best examples of this promising new style is the 
Merchant Bow in Moscow, in which artistic and 
utilitarian requirements have been beautifully 

The iconography of the churches remained in 
ancient Eussia essentially Byzantine, of the period 
of its decay. The several schools mentioned in 
Moscow or Novgorod differed only in the manner 
of the application of paint and gold, and the con- 
ventions of the forms of the figures represented. 
There was nothing vivifying in the art, nothing 
distantly to be compared with the ecclesiastic or 
secular art in the "West. But in the Sixteenth 
Century the Pskov school was acquainted with the 
progress of the art in Italy, for it has been shown 
that some of their icons are copied from Cimabue 
and Perugino. The Church, with its usual 
tyranny over thought, rebelled against any inno- 
vation and wanted to keep the pictorial art within 
the limits established by the Byzantines centuries 
before. While it was to some extent successful in 
excluding Western influence from the narrower 
field of the ecclesiastic art, the presence of foreign 
artists at the court and in Moscow in the Seven- 

Art for Life's Sake in Russia 71 

teenth Century did not fail to affect those painters 
who began to paint portraits and to provide per- 
sons with pictures. 

Whenever the baleful influence of the Orthodox 
Church is weakened, the Russian people have 
shown, not only a remarkable independence of 
spirit, but have invariably evinced their inherent 
love of truth, simplicity and directness. The same 
happened in art. The Serbian Archdeacon 
Plyeshkovich having expressed himself with con- 
tempt about the improvements in the representa- 
tion of the human figures in the paintings of two 
Seventeenth Century artists, one of them, Joseph 
Vladimirov, wrote to him a remarkable letter in 
which breathes all the disregard of mere tradi- 
tion that we are wont to see in the activities of the 
Russian mind in the Nineteenth Century. "Do 
you mean to tell us that none but Russians should 
paint icons and that we should worship only Rus- 
sian iconography, without accepting and honoring 
anything from foreign countries? Ask your 
spiritual father and the elders, and they will tell 
you that in our Christian Russian churches all the 
holy vessels, the phelonia and omophoria, palls 
and covers, and all fine stuffs and gold ornaments, 
precious stones and jewels are obtained in foreign 
countries, and that you introduce them into the 
church and adorn with them the altar and the icons 
and do not observe any wrong or profanation in 
this. In our time you demand of the artist that he 

72 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

should paint gloomy and unattractive portraits, 
and you teach us how to lie against Ancient Writ. 
Where do you find the injunction that the faces of 
the saints should be painted swarthy and dark? 
Was the whole human race created with the same 
countenances? Have all the saints been lean and 
swarthy? If here on earth their limbs were mor- 
tified they were restored in heaven, and they 
appeared illuminated in body and soul. What 
daemon has, then, begrudged the truth and has 
put fetters on the illustrious portraits of the 
saints? What well- thinking man will not laugh 
at such absurdity that darkness and gloom should 
be preferred to light? No, that is is not the cus- 
tom of the artist. What he sees and hears that he 
represents in his paintings and portraits, and he 
harmonizes everything with what he has heard or 
seen. And, as in the Old Covenant, so in the New 
Testament, — many male and female saints were 
pleasing to the sight." 

Milyukov adduces these words in order to show 
that the Russian artists in the Seventeenth Cen- 
tury were beginning to be actuated by the same 
religious ardor which caused the reformation of 
ecclesiastic art in the West in the Fourteenth 
Century. This early manifestation of Russian 
realism did not come to any fruition, because the 
masses, kept in ignorance of the modern move- 
ments in art by the Church, could only look with 
suspicion upon the innovation, while the more en- 

Art for Life's Sake in Russia 73 

lightened upper class shortly afterwards fell un- 
der the violent reformatory efforts of Peter the 
Great, which put an end to the germs of a native 
development and for more than a century opened 
the doors to servile imitations from the West, in 
the service, not of the nation, but of the corrupt 
upper class that considered itself advanced in 
civilization in proportion as it abandoned every- 
thing that bore a native aspect. 

The modern school of painting begins in the 
Eighteenth Century, with Losenko director of the 
St. Petersburg Academy of Arts. Having studied 
under the best Italian and French painters of his 
day, he demanded of the students of the academy 
that they should follow those rules which he him- 
self had acquired in his foreign studies and which 
for a long time characterized the Russian aca- 
demic school. He insisted on precision of draw- 
ing and imitation of the forms of classic sculpture 
and the Italian art of the period of the eclectics. 
The same sources determined the conventions of 
color schemes and the subjects of composition. 
Although the Academy produced a goodly number 
of artists, Kozlov, Sokolov, Ugryumov, Egorov, 
Shebuev, there is nothing specifically Russian to 
be found in the subject matter of their paintings, 
for they all reveled in the grand historic canvases. 
Not even Bryullov, who broke with the tradition 
of the Academy and introduced the Romanticism 
then prevalent in the West, in his Last Day of 

74 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

Pompeii departed from the easy road of imitation, 
even though he was declared to be one of the great 
universal painters. Bryullov also distinguished 
himself by his artistic portraits of royal person- 
ages, a branch of the pictorial art which was very 
popular and brought to the front a large number 
of good artists. 

The genre style was not much in vogue, although 
scenes from the life of the people were frequently 
given as themes to the students of the Academy. 
In the beginning of the Nineteenth Century the in- 
terest in national matters was still too academic 
to inspire the artists with the wish to bring the 
spectator into an intimate relation with the people. 
The first one to attempt genre was Venetsianov 
who had lived among the common people and knew 
them well. Fortunately he did not study his art 
in the Academy and so did not have to subscribe 
to any artistic dogma. Although he faithfully re- 
produced incidents from everyday life, he had no 
followers among the younger painters, because the 
art was still exclusively in the service of the upper 
classes. It was again a dilettante, Fedotov, who 
in the middle of the century attracted attention 
with his humorous and pathetic scenes from con- 
temporary life. After the Crimean War all Rus- 
sia was agog with reformatory ideas, and litera- 
ture and art played the important roles elsewhere 
taken up by the political pamphlet. As Gogol al- 
most exclusively represented sad incidents in life, 

Art for Life's Sake in Russia 75 

in order the more directly to hasten the Reform, 
so the genre painters almost entirely devoted them- 
selves to the reproduction of scenes which would 
direct the attention to the social and political evils 
under which the country was groaning. This was 
especially the case with the group of artists who in 
1872 formed the Society of Movable Artistic Ex- 
positions, and of those painters who later attached 
themselves to that society. Among the many well- 
known artists of this category are to be found 
Makovski, Ryepin, Perov. 

Landscape painting had been practised by the 
Academy and its students since its opening, and 
a large number of excellent artists, beginning with 
Shchedrin, had been active in this branch which 
more than any other leads to realism. But for a 
long time, the painters were under the influence of 
foreign models. It is only within modern times 
that the Russian artists have become national in 
even this respect and have produced a long se- 
ries of distinctively Russian landscapes. Unfor- 
tunately the younger men have of late been af- 
fected by the Western decadence, which they have 
introduced into the landscape in a variety of im- 
pressionistic ways. 

A regeneration of art is coming in. Russia, not 
from the organic development of any school or 
from an interrelation between art and nationalism, 
but from the deeper and more religious conception 
of art, as voiced by Lev Tolstoy. When his What 

76 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

is Art? appeared in 1897, the vast majority of 
foreign, and many native artists hastened to con- 
demn it as contrary to all canons of art and as 
proceeding from a layman not in touch with the 
superb accomplishments of centuries. But a 
small number of the greatest and best artists 
Russia has yet given to the world just as quickly 
accepted Tolstoy's dicta as incontrovertible, and 
have proceeded to follow his injunctions to the 
minutest details. Such an agreement between the 
leading artists and the leading litterateur is not 
due to the preponderant influence which the latter 
is exerting, because in any other field he has but 
lukewarm disciples, but because nowhere did he 
strike so powerfully at the foot of an evil which 
veiled the Russian soul from its great purpose as 
in the arena of art, the last one to emerge from the 
service of the mighty and the tyranny of tradi- 
tion. It will be necessary first to present the 
essential contentions brought forward by Tolstoy, 
in order to appreciate the results already obtained 
under the new, religious aspect of art and the still 
greater possibilities in store for it in a profounder 
and more universal application of his tenets. 

There is a remarkable parallelism between 
Vladimirov's conception of art in the Seventeenth 
and Tolstoy's conception in the Nineteenth Cen- 
tury. Vladimirov objected to that traditional 
representation of the saints which pleased the few 
who had been brought up under certain canons, 

Art for Life's Sake in Russia 77 

and demanded that truth and reality should lie at 
the foundation of the artist's endeavors to repre- 
sent the illuminated, that is, the spiritualized, 
bodies of the saints. Similarly Tolstoy formu- 
lates his idea of art as "that activity which has 
for its aim the conveyance to men of those highest 
and best sensations which men have obtained," 
but such feelings and sensations are only then best 
and highest when they coincide with the religious 
convictions about goodness of a nation at any 
particular period of its existence. Beauty can- 
not lie at the basis of art, because beauty is an in- 
definite and varying idea, contradictory even in 
the definition of contemporaries, while goodness 
is the essence of the religious conviction of the 
masses. The average Christian draws his idea of 
goodness from the New Testament, the Moham- 
medan from the Koran, the Jew from the Old 
Testament, and so on. None of those believers 
would find anywhere in their holy writs any defini- 
tion of beauty, and they could not bring their 
arts into conformity with such an indefinite prin- 
ciple. The art of the Middle Ages has been great 
in proportion as it has been accessible to the re- 
ligious consciousness of the time and as it was 
able to affect the masses in the direction of good- 
ness. As in the past, so in the present. If the 
religious life has broadened and represents new 
interests, this art must keep pace with it, and, as 
Vladimirov put it, the artist must harmonize his 

78 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

religious ideas with his own sensations, because 
only thus can he put himself in touch with those 
to whom he wants to convey certain truths. 

Tolstoy recognizes three factors which, in spite 
of the clear purpose of art to act as an adjunct to 
religion, have aided in the propagation of an 
adulterated art. The reward which the artist gets 
for his production leads him to create for a small 
minority of men capable and willing to pay, not 
for what is to aid the masses in their moral de- 
velopment, but for what pleases them in their cor- 
rupted tastes. The criticism of art, being based, 
not on the correspondence with the religious con- 
viction of the time, but on the canons established 
by the Greeks and misunderstood and debased by 
the medieval artists, who were in the service of the 
mighty, causes the artist to follow artificial and 
antiquated traditions which have nothing in com- 
mon with the reality and its relation to religion. 
The schools of art try to teach art, whereas the 
artist should only convey sensations which he him- 
self experiences, hence they can only help in the 
dissemination of other people's, that is, of adul- 
terated, art. 

The common religious consciousness of men 
leads to the recognition of the brotherhood of men, 
and true art should bring vividly to their minds 
the manner of applying this consciousness to life. 
It is the duty of art to popularize this feeling of 
brotherhood, which at present is accessible only 

Art for Life's Sake in Russia 79 

to the best men in society. "The mission of art 
in our time consists in transferring from the 
sphere of reason into the sphere of feeling that 
truth that the good of men is in their union among 
themselves, and in establishing in place of the 
now existing violence that kingdom of God, that 
is, of love, which to us appears as the highest aim 
of the life of humanity." 

When Tolstoy's What is Art? became known in 
translations, the artists of Europe hastened to ex- 
press their condemnation, because art more than 
anything else depends at present on tradition and 
on schools, the chief aim of which is to bend the 
natural genius away from the dictates of its own 
feeling and reason and to foist upon it their own 
canons. Fortunately for Eussia the spirit of self- 
assertion is not entirely dead. It was the dilet- 
tanti Venetsianov and Fedotov, who owed little 
to academic tradition and arrogance, that showed 
the road which genre painting should take in 
Eussia. Similarly there were at least three great 
artists who either independently had discovered 
the same truths as Tolstoy or who recognized the 
essential merits of his artistic teachings. The 
works and ideas of these three throw a brilliant 
light on the Eussian soul and show how very much 
Tolstoy represents the latent thought of that un- 
formed school which in art, as in literature, strives 
to apply the rule of "art for life's sake." 

Sculpture has in modern times been only a re- 

80 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

flex of the Greek art, and it is only within a gener- 
ation that here and there it tries to emancipate it- 
self from a close adherence to antiquity. Russia 
has produced a considerable number of artists in 
stone and bronze, but the great majority of them 
show no specific national characteristics. Not 
even the very talented Antokolski has been able to 
escape the classic tradition, even though he fre- 
quently chose persons and scenes from Eussian 
history. Had Tolstoy's disquisition on art ap- 
peared earlier in his life, it would have unques- 
tionably exerted a powerful influence on his sensi- 
tive mind, and his art would have taken a new di- 
rection. Though it was too late for him to break 
away from academic lines, he was none the less 
one of the first to recognize the inherent value of 
the trenchant analysis. 

Instead of complying with the request to dis- 
cuss Tolstoy's essay, Antokolski gave an inde- 
pendent opinion on the condition of art in Russia 
and abroad in his day, and came to precisely the 
same conclusions with the literary authority. Art 
had begun with pseudo-classicism, had succes- 
sively adopted romanticism, realism, naturalism, 
impressionism, pseudo-mysticism. It began with 
pseudo- and has returned to pseudo-. One 
would imagine that art had conquered for itself 
an enormous territory, but being in the service of 
those who can pay for it, it is devoid of ideals. ' ' I 
used to believe in the high mission of art, in a 

Art for Life's Sake in Russia 81 

man's necessity to commune with it; I used to be- 
lieve that it was to the soul what dew is to the 
fields, that it ennobled men, softened manner and 
evoked better feelings. It seemed to me that it 
would always be that way, because it could not be 
otherwise. Having grown gray, I saw that art 
did not ennoble men, did not soften their manners, 
did not awaken in them better feelings ; I saw that 
art and life had parted, that men loved only the 
external covering of art, its body, not its soul. 
They buy pictures and engravings, in order to fill 
up empty spaces on the walls, and they do this 
only because it is considered right to do so. The 
rich pay mad sums of money for the productions 
of first-class artists because others want them, and 
others want them because the first ask for them. 
This is not love, but passion for art, a passion to 
possess that which others have, and to have it 
only that another may not get it. The most de- 
cent people are infected by this desire, even our 
famous collector Tretyakov, who wants at all cost 
to possess unique things." 

Antokolski comes to the identical conclusion 
that art is an adjunct to religion, that art adorns 
the temples; that it teaches us to pray better, to 
love God, and to appreciate the sentiments of 
others, that it is an expounder of the human soul, 
a mediator between God and man. "Art speaks 
more clearly, more concretely, more beautifully 
what each one would like to say but cannot say." 

82 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

The Greeks and the medieval artists had under- 
stood this function of art, but in our times it is one- 
sided and no longer in the service of the people. 
Beauty has become a matter for epicureans and 
has lost its high purpose. The artists do not un- 
derstand their calling, and the critics are not able 
to bring them back to it. Only a great artist with 
a delicate perception of moral principles, such as 
is Tolstoy, is able correctly to posit the question, 
What is Art? 

If Antokolski agreed entirely with Tolstoy's 
conception of art, Vereshchagin had independently 
come to the same conclusions long before Tolstoy 
had formulated his ideas. Vereshchagin was born 
in 1842 in Cherepovets, in the Government of Nov- 
gorod, where his father, a nobleman of distin- 
guished descent, had large country estates. His 
mother came from a Tartar family in the Cau- 
casus, so that Vereshchagin claimed to be three- 
fourths Eussian and one-fourth Tartar. With 
eight years of age he entered a school of cadets, 
it having been the intention of his family that he 
should pursue a military career. In 1861 he 
abandoned the military service and devoted him- 
self to painting at the Academy in St. Petersburg. 
Two years later he won a medal by his composi- 
tion, "Ulysses upon returning home kills the 
suitors of Penelope," the only classic theme he 
ever attempted and a sepia execution of which 
he is said to have thrown into the fire. Fortu- 

Art for Life's Sake in Russia 83 

nately he had not been connected long enough with 
the school to have his innate genius corrupted by 
servile adherence to tradition. 

His artistic development runs parallel with Tol- 
stoy's literary evolution. He had had a taste of 
foreign travel while still a cadet, and the halo of 
Romanticism which lay over the Caucasus took 
him to the wildest regions of those mountains, 
where he worked feverishly in the attempt at re- 
producing directly from Nature the impressions 
which he there received. The next year he passed 
in Paris. He had intended to study under 
Gerome, but revolted at the teacher's suggestion 
that he should busy himself with copying pictures 
at the Louvre. He immediately returned to the 
Caucasus, and ever afterwards devoted himself 
only to such scenes as he himself witnessed or 
studied historically in the light of personal expe- 
riences. In 1867 he followed General Kaufmann 
in his Asiatic expeditions, where he found abun- 
dant material for the representation of nomadic 
and oriental life. The realistic reproduction of 
war scenes, which had nothing in common with the 
usual idealization of such conflicts but repre- 
sented them in all truth and terror, made his great 
collection of Turkestan pictures the butt of violent 
attacks in Russia. He was accused of having dis- 
graced the Russian army, and the Government of- 
ficials declined to purchase it for the national 
gallery. He was on the point of selling it to Eng- 

84 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

land, when the collector Tretyakov of Moscow 
bought it. But he, too, had later his trouble in 
presenting it to the nation, because those in the 
service of the Government were afraid to harbor 

Vereshchagin's reputation had meanwhile be- 
come universal, but he did not meet with undi- 
vided favor, for he was everywhere accused of un- 
necessarily flaunting Realism into the public's 
eyes. While on a visit to India he was called to a 
professorship in the Academy of Art at St. Peters- 
burg, but he curtly replied in a public letter that 
he considered such distinction as of no value to 
him and that he preferred to be free in his activ- 
ity. He seldom returned to Russia, because his 
insatiate desire to travel and see things for him- 
self took him through the whole world. In 1877 
he followed the Russian army to Turkey, painting 
a large number of canvases on the very battlefield, 
and often while bullets whizzed about him. He 
himself was wounded and his brother was killed in 
one engagement. Some weeks later he went to the 
battlefield to find the body of his brother, and he 
sat down to paint the field of carnage, but he 
broke down under tears, and had to make several 
attempts before he could finish it. No one has de- 
picted more truly the terror and agony of death 
in the field than he, and a mere collection of his 
war scenes is more powerful than any argument 
against war. 

Art for Life's Sake in Russia 85 

He distinguished himself as a soldier, traveler, 
author and artist. But he was more than that. 
He has given us his ideas on art, which not only 
show him a deeper thinker and in agreement with 
Tolstoy, but once more reveal the latent potentiali- 
ties of the Russian soul. The Vereshchagin Ex- 
hibition in America in 1889-1890 offered the pub- 
lic, not only a catalogue to his very extensive col- 
lection, but also two essays by him, On Progress 
in Art and Realism. These are of prime impor- 
tance, because they cast a light on Tolstoy's con- 
ception of art and on the ideas of all the art dis- 
senters in Russia and the world over, if they are 
actuated by humanitarian views, as every artist 
should be, and not by personal, groveling ambi- 
tion. According to Vereshchagin a realistic exe- 
cution of a scene is far from realism if it does not 
include a distinct idea, a philosophic generaliza- 
tion. Hence he considered it his highest triumph 
when a Christian paper in London wrote about 
him, "These paintings are the work of a Russian, 
Vereshchagin, a painter equal to any of his con- 
temporaries in artistic ability, and beyond any 
painter who ever lived in the grandeur of his 
moral aims and the application of his lessons to 
the consciences of all who take the least pain to 
understand him. I will only say that he who 
misses seeing these paintings will miss the best 
opportunity he may ever have of understanding 
the age in which he lives; for if ever the Nine- 

86 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

teenth Century has had a prophet, it is the Rus- 
sian painter, Vereshchagin. " 

Eealism demands that one should not blindly 
follow the past, for, if Raphael was a realist, he 
scandalized his contemporaries by departing from 
the tradition of the primitive masters. As the 
ancients were bold in their innovations, in their 
desire to teach the truth, so must every honest 
artist harmonize his conscience with his percep- 
tion of the truth. He has no right to compromise 
with his impressions simply because his matter- 
of-fact contemporaries cling to the traditions of 
the past. He cannot represent saints in costly 
garments and safely poised on clouds when he has 
the religious conviction of saints in the service of 
the poor and the scientific knowledge that clouds 
cannot support human beings. He cannot create 
the heroic figure of an emperor prancing on a 
charger through the thick of the battle, when he 
has seen him again and again seated comfortably 
in an armchair miles away from the battle field 
and leisurely watching the progress of the fight- 
ing through powerful field glasses. He cannot 
glorify war, when he has seen soldiers freezing 
to death over a distance of thirty miles. 

The greatest error committed by those who fol- 
low old canons is due to their persisting to em- 
ploy the same colors and the same light and shade 
which the old masters were obliged to use on ac- 
count of the necessity of working within four 

Art for Life's Sake in Russia 87 

walls and with artificial and poor illumination. 
Vereshchagin in this respect completely departed 
from the usual procedure and painted his scenes 
only in the countries in which they were laid. It 
would never have occurred to him to paint Indian 
pictures outside of India, or Russian canvases any- 
where but in Russia. And as most of his scenes 
are in the open, he generally painted them in the 
glaring sun or in freezing weather, as the case 
might be. 

Vereshchagin regretted the low esteem in which 
art was held. It was merely a toy, to help the di- 
gestive powers, and paintings, like any other bric- 
a-brac, were merely used to fill empty spaces on 
the wall, whereas its function was that of edu- 
cating and uplifting the masses. The artist was 
no longer a servant of the rich and mighty, but as 
a citizen and gentleman had some solemn duties to 
the people at large. The lower classes, the Social- 
ists, who had been for centuries on the verge of 
starvation and who expected a new order of things 
to arise, would in their struggle with the upper 
classes spare no monuments of the past, no art. 
They would blow up public buildings, art galleries, 
museums and libraries. The only way out of the 
approaching danger would be for the rich to fol- 
low the teachings of Christ and of their own ac- 
cord to divide up the riches with the poor. But 
that is a utopia that will not be realized. 

The unavoidable will happen, and then it will be 

88 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

the talents in art who will save the world. They 
will adapt themselves to the new conditions and 
will not allow society to lapse back into barbarism. 
Even before this time comes it is the duty of the 
artists to show to the rich that they are only lull- 
ing their consciences with false ideals, that they 
must return to the teachings of Christ, for their 
own good and for the good of humanity. The 
artist must agitate against war, because it is not 
Christian, and he must teach the lessons of 
Christian humility. If the artist, instead, is 
not heeded, and attempts are made to muzzle him, 
so much the worse for society, for the Vandals will 
burn Rome once more. 

Vereshchagin was typically Russian. A noble- 
man by birth, he devoted all his energies to the 
service of the people. He started his career as a 
warrior, all his life to preach against the horrors 
of bloodshed. His artistic education was not of 
the orthodox kind. He did not stay long any- 
where, and he revolted against the Procrustian 
methods of the academies. He started out as a 
bogatyr to storm against all fetters of art and of 
social conventions. His activity was prodigious. 
His paintings all brought together would in them- 
selves fill a good sized museum. He was as sav- 
age as a bogatyr and he was as meek as a saint. 
If Tolstoy's What is Art? is impracticable, as his 
malicious critics say, then all of Vereshchagin 's 

Art for Life's Sake in Russia 89 

paintings should be destroyed, for Vereshchagin 
did exactly what Tolstoy taught. 

The Jew Antokolski and the Nobleman Veresh- 
chagin shared alike the Eussian idealism and 
spirit of Christian humility. Russia is indeed the 
country of the Lotus-eaters. He who has tasted 
of its intellectual food, in ever so small a degree, 
does not wish to return to the old associations. 
Here is Paul Trubetskoy, born of an American 
mother, brought up on the shores of Lago Mag- 
giore, and until his seventeenth year a stranger to 
the country of his father. Yet the native instinct, 
iuherited from his male ancestors, is fanned into 
a spiritual flame the moment he comes in contact 
with the kindred Tolstoy. He had shown decided 
talent in modeling while at home, but his parents 
wanted him to take up the military career and so 
sent him to relatives in Russia. Paul, however, 
did not find that calling to his liking and returned 
to Italy to study art, in a dilettante fashion, from 
Ranzoni, Barcaglia and Bazzaro. He did not stay 
long with any of them, because of his innate con- 
tempt for conventions and classic traditions. In 
1886, at the age of twenty, he made his first ap- 
pearance in art with an impressionistic repre- 
sentation of a horse. Passionately fond of out- 
door life and of animals, he chose the horse and 
hound, wolf and bear, of which he had some pets, 
for his models. In 1894 he scored his first great 

90 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

success with a statue, catalogued as "The Indian 
Scout," from his impression of an Indian rider in 
the Buffalo Bill show at Milan. 

Having been successful with a number of seated 
and standing figures of living persons, he, in 1897, 
betook himself to Eussia, where he was entrusted 
with the execution of similar statues for high per- 
sonages. He met Tolstoy, with whom he had 
many points in common. Both loved nature and 
despised the restraints of society. It was the year 
that Tolstoy had published his What is Art? and 
the impressionable mind of the younger man was 
at once affected by the overpowering genius of the 
veteran author. Nor did Trubetskoy stop at 
ideas, as mere playthings of the mind. He car- 
ried out the injunctions of his master, not only in 
matters dietetic, for he became an ardent vege- 
tarian, but also in matters of art. Henceforth he 
regarded it a greater triumph to convert a friend 
to the bloodless diet, than to execute a fine figure, 
for he considered the underlying humane prin- 
ciple infinitely more important than the mere 
physical enjoyment which art unfortunately con- 
veys to most people. Even at a very recent time, 
while on a visit in America, he could not be in- 
duced to talk about his art, while he generously of- 
fered his time to speak before food reform socie- 

Soon after his arrival in Eussia, Trubetskoy 
was offered a professorship in the Academy of 

Art for Life's Sake in Russia 91 

Arts in Moscow. Brinton, the sympathetic critic 
and biographer of the artist, quotes his words in 
relation to this incident, which I shall give in full, 
as very characteristic of the man and the Eus- 
sian attitude. " Urged to become professor of 
sculpture in the Moscow Academy, I at first de- 
clined the honor. While I thanked the director 
and faculty for having thought of me in this con- 
nection, I explained to them that, never having 
consented to have a teacher for myself, I could 
not dream of teaching others. I was working at 
the time on a bust of Tolstoy, and the master, to 
whom I confided my decision, gave his hearty ap- 
proval, for he was the arch-enemy of everything 
that might tend to fetter the development of per- 
sonality. Yet, after mature consideration of the 
proposal, I ended in accepting. Tolstoy was nat- 
urally astonished at my unexpected move, but 
when I told him my reasons, he concluded that, 
after all, I was perhaps right. As a matter of 
fact, by occupying the position myself, I foresaw 
that I could effectually prevent some other pro- 
fessor from exercising his influence upon the pu- 
pils to the detriment of their natural gifts and 
instinctive freedom from convention. I then went 
to the school and found there a large room so 
filled with casts from the antique that the pupils 
had only the narrowest sort of space in which to 
work. 'What are you doing with all this trash?' 
I exclaimed. 'Instead of going direct to nature 

92 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

as you should, you are simply wasting your time 
copying other people's copies of nature. Great 
as the ancients may have been, they will never 
furnish you with the inexhaustible resources of- 
fered by nature in her infinite beauty and diver- 
sity. And, moreover, if these illustrious artists 
have left immortal master-pieces, it is merely be- 
cause in their day they did nothing but faithfully 
interpret the material furnished them by life.' 
I at once ordered them to rid the atelier of the 
useless stuff and substitute in its place living 
models only. The students thus had room in 
which to breathe and work, and I did not bother 
myself about them any more. The outcome was 
very simple. When I came to the school there 
were some sixty pupils. At the close of the first 
term there remained only three. All that were 
not able to develop of themselves by reason of 
innate talent had left, and I verily believe that 
in the end there remained but one. Well, do you 
not think it was better so ? As for me, I am con- 
vinced that a single true artist is worth more than 
any quantity of mediocrities." 

Trubetskoy's art dogmas, if dogmas they can 
be called, are exactly the same as those of Vlad- 
imirov, or Vereshchagin, or Antokolski, or Tol- 
stoy. He copies only what he sees in nature, but 
he endows his scenes with a deeper meaning than 
the mere form would suggest. He revels in the 
representation of animals, but he makes them 

Art for Life's Sake in Russia 93 

a part of a greater animated society, of which 
man is also a member. He loves to delineate the 
gentle domestic relations, the father or mother 
with their babes in their arms, or children at 
their favorite sports. Since he models only what 
he normally observes, the nude has no place in 
his art. He is not a prude, for he has reproduced 
the naked athlete and semi-nude danseuse. He 
simply does not drag in the antique, because it 
is not customarily observed in our northern re- 
gions. One of the most charming and realistic 
statues is that of his wife in street attire, and 
there are many beautiful statuettes of children. 
As he does not represent nymphs and naiads, who 
form no part of our lives or beliefs, so he thinks 
that each artistic production should bear its own 
intrinsic lesson, without those subterfuges to 
which artists generally have recourse, by selecting 
some high-sounding or classical name for it. He 
refuses to label his statues. To this rule he has 
made but one exception: beneath the figure of a 
pet lamb he wrote, "How can you eat me!" It 
goes without saying that the workmanship itself 
is distinguished by various impressionistic de- 
vices, in order to give as close an idea of reality 
as possible. But on this technical side of his 
genius we need not dwell here. It was sufficient 
for us to discover the great humanitarian prin- 
ciples which underlie his activity, the exquisite re- 
finement of his ideas, the simplicity, truthfulness 

94 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

and directness of his manner. These, coupled 
with a distaste for academic tradition and an un- 
bounded love of freedom, stamp Trubetskoy as a 
typical Russian bogatyr. 



IT is a curious fact that in music, as in social 
and political ideas, the democratic impulse 
has to a considerable extent come to Eussia from 
the United States, and this is the more curious 
since America has not been able to contribute 
any musical theme or melody. Channing and 
Parker, Garrison and Ballou have greatly influ- 
enced Tolstoy in formulating his religious and 
political tenets; Harriet Beecher Stowe was re- 
sponsible for the emancipation propaganda of 
Russia, which found its literary expression in 
the works of Turgenev and Grigorovich ; and the 
emancipation of the serfs is a pendant to the 
abolition movement and contemporaneous with 
the Civil War. The impetus of the democratic 
ideals came from across the sea, but in every case 
the results were different, because in Russia the 
development of these ideals was transformed by 
the specific relation which democracy there bore 
to "the people.' ' So, too, it was with popular 


96 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

The biographer of P. P. Sokalski tells us that 
the foundation for his musical ideas contained in 
his work, Russian Popular Music, was laid in the 
United States, where he lived from 1855 to 1858. 
Soon after his return to Eussia he began to de- 
vote his energies to the study of national music, 
and shortly before his death, in 1886, clearly for- 
mulated his conviction that Eussia should have 
special chairs for national or popular music in 
its conservatories. Sokalski was only a mediocre 
composer, and his work on native music has since 
been superseded; our interest is not in the in- 
trinsic value of his writing, but in the fact that 
he represents the conscious and unconscious at- 
titude of the Eussian musical composers to the 
creative genius of the common people. The au- 
thor finds that the popular music was developed 
at a time when there did not yet exist the octave, 
nor major and minor scale, nor tempered inter- 
vals, nor harmony ; that its special character con- 
sisted in its close union of verse and song ; that it 
possessed its own measure and free meter, which 
coincided with the structure of the text; that it 
arose and developed without the slightest influ- 
ence of the Graeco-Eoman civilization, which lay 
at the basis of the culture of the upper classes in 
the west of Europe. The study of the popular ele- 
ments in music should lead to a Comparative Mu- 
sical Archeology and Ethnography, for which end 
the Eussian learned and musical societies should 

Russian Music, an Expression of a People 97 

give their active aid. To spread the same inter- 
est among the non-professional classes of society, 
the restoration of the popular music should be 
in the form of contemporary art, but with a strict 
adherence to the native element. Skilful trans- 
formations for the orchestra, such as Glinka's 
Komarinskaya, or for the opera would also have 
a powerful influence upon the dissemination of 
Russian popular music in society. 

"The rich fund of the national musico-poetic 
creation, which seems to have accomplished its 
full cycle of development, must be accepted by 
the cultured classes as an inheritance from the 
people in this field, and must be made their own 
for the purpose of developing the musical art in 
the national direction. Onlv under such condi- 
tions will the civilization of the Slavic race ac- 
quire the desired completeness, originality and 
splendor, and will become equally attractive for 
Asia, whose elements have entered into the popu- 
lar Russian creativeness. It is hard to expect 
that in an era of railways, steamboats, telegraphs, 
universal military service and howitzers the crea- 
tive power of the people, which is closely bound 
up with the epic life of the masses and with the 
popular movements, will be continued or still 
farther developed. We are convinced that it has 
come to an end, having exhausted all the resources 
of native art. But since the Russian popular 
music represents a peculiar and independent 

98 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

world with numerous musical and poetical distinc- 
tive features, we deem it necessary that in the 
Eussian conservatories and musical schools not 
only harmony and counterpoint should be taught, 
but that there should also be there special chairs 
for Russian Popular Music. This would not only 
rouse in the Eussian musicians an active interest 
in this particular style, the product of the na- 
tional Eussian genius in the arena of language, 
melody and rhythm, but would also prepare stu- 
dents for an intelligent, systematic and precise 
collection and notation of the monuments of the 
Eussian popular music, which have not yet dis- 
appeared from the oral tradition of the masses. 
At the same time such instruction would culti- 
vate in the teachers of the public schools a correct 
attitude towards popular music, which could then 
be introduced in all the public schools of the Eus- 
sian Empire. In this respect the Eussian song 
(in its local distinction north, south and west) 
would have a powerful influence in the unification 
and assimilation of the various elements of our 
realm into one common, independent civilization, 
in which the productions of the creative faculty 
would have a national character." 

We do not know what American influence led 
Sokalski to become interested in popular music, 
but from the fact that he corresponded with Eus- 
sian periodicals on American matters and con- 
tributed an article on " American public philan- 

Russian Music, an Expression of a People 99 

thropy," it may be assumed that the democracy 
in America appealed to him greatly. Of course, 
there was no need to draw for this from for- 
eign sources, for Russia was full of progressive 
ideas in the '50 's. In the case of the other great 
work on The Peasant Songs of Great Russia, by 
Madame Eugenie Linev, we know positively that 
the impetus was received in the United States, 
as is proved by the fact that the work, although 
published by the Imperial Academy of Science, 
was written both in Russian and in English, in 
order to reach the Americans as well as a na- 
tive public. At the end of the last century 
Madame Linev made a tour through the United 
States with a band of peasant singers, whose re- 
markable concerts attracted public attention. 
"The idea of collecting peasant songs occurred 
to me in America, during my concert-lectures in 
New York, Boston, Chicago and other towns in 
the United States. The inquisitive Americans de- 
manded original songs, as sung by the people and 
kept asking whether we sang genuine folk-songs. 
In replying 'yes,' I was troubled by the doubt 
whether I had a right to give an unqualified af- 
firmative, although the songs were sung accord- 
ing to the best collections. And I determined, 
there and then, on returning to Russia, to devote 
my time and energy to the study and collection of 

The incitement to " publish" the work came 

100 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

from America, but the music of the people had 
long been the chief source of the Russian com- 
posers, of Glinka, Verstovski, Syerov, Blaram- 
berg, Chaykovski, Dargomyzhski, Borodin, Rim- 
ski-Korsakov, but above all of Musorgski, while 
Balakirev, Rimski-Korsakov, Prokunin, Lopatin, 
Arkhangelski and Melgunov have made valuable 
collections and transcriptions of peasant songs. 
Nor could it have been otherwise. The interest 
in the people has been all-pervading in every field 
of intellectual and artistic endeavor, while in 
music the masses have furnished a treasure un- 
surpassed anywhere else in the world. In their 
childlike simplicity, the peasants have not yet 
subdivided the world of impressions, and melody 
and the accompanying words represent distinctly 
the sentiment that actuate them at a particular 
moment. Every important incident in life, mar- 
riage, death, work in the field, holidays, has its 
traditional series of songs, an accumulated mass of 
superimposed cultural ideas and feelings. The 
wedding ceremony, still lasting several days in 
some districts, has reminiscences of the days when 
the bride was stolen, when she was made a cap- 
tive in the house of the mother-in-law, when she 
was sold, with utter disregard of the dictates of 
her own heart. What is particularly attractive 
in these outcries of the soul is their immediacy. 
They are not distant and conventional expressions 
of emotions, but the heartfelt emotions themselves 

Russian Music, an Expression of a People 101 

expressed in sounds which to them are merely a 
form of human speech. The musical composer 
had only to dip into this inexhaustible treasure 
of melody, to forget for a moment his obligations 
to a conventionalized and artificial musical code, 
and a new world of sensations lay at his command. 
Fortunately he had not himself been spoiled by 
too much Western schooling, and he could revert 
to his native, untutored creations, to convention- 
alize them for a society spoiled by civilization, 
in accordance with the possibilities and range of 
his genius. Hence the intimate relation that the 
leading Russian musicians bear to the collection, 
transcription, and adaptation of the music of the 

But a very feeble beginning has as yet been 
made in Russia in the utilization of the music of 
the people, because its secrets have not yet been 
fathomed, and because the absence of the conven- 
tional in these songs tasks the powers of the 
greatest genius, in his attempt to reproduce that 
immediacy which is the part and parcel of peas- 
ant music. The chief difficulty is its polyphonic 

Some years ago it was my good fortune to hear 
a Gipsy band playing in an out-of-the-way place 
in the Carpathian Mountains. There were six or 
seven members, with violin, viola, 'cello and bass 
viol. It was obvious that they were not producing 
a set composition, but were improvising or enlarg- 

102 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

ing upon a given theme. The leader indicated 
the melody and his assistants elaborated, sec- 
onded, retorted, quarreled with him, and the re- 
sult was electrifying. One was present at the 
very creation of an unpremeditated musical com- 
position, such as no company of trained musicians 
in a symphony concert could even dream of at- 
tempting. The Kussian peasants stand as close to 
musical "nature" as do the Gipsies, hence their 
polyphonies are of the same character. The 
leader indicates the principal melody of a folk- 
song, or several persons sing it in unison, after 
which the secondary voices develop and elaborate 
the principal melody in accordance with their per- 
sonal genius. This is not done in a mechanical or 
conventional way, nor is a repetition of the main 
melody ever sung in the same manner. There is 
not any submission of the individual performer to 
the tyranny of the conductor — the talent of each 
singer is perceptible through the mass singing. 
No assembly of artists could equal the vigor and 
depth of the sentiment expressed in music, be- 
cause they have to be trained to merge their per- 
sonalities in the perfection of the ensemble, while 
in the peasant chorus the sentiment actuating the 
whole is variously and simultaneously shaped into 
music in our presence. 

It would, however, be unsafe to assume that the 
peasant music is due to individual initiative of 
peasant composers. The lower classes seldom 

Russian Music, an Expression of a People 103 

originate anything. They borrow readily and 
keep conservatively what they have acquired. 
Comparative literature shows, and comparative 
music will, unquestionably, also show, that the 
masses in Russia have during the Middle Ages 
not been entirely separated from artistic produc- 
tions in the West. What has taken place is this : 
the peasants have a strong imitative faculty and 
gladly accept what appeals to their imagination. 
But they have inherited from hoar antiquity a 
predilection for certain musical modes, for ex- 
ample in the Hypodorian and Locrian scale, and 
they proceed at once to transform the borrowed 
material in the direction of their musical tradi- 
tion. Their superiority to the trained musicians 
in the modem schools does not lie in originality 
of composition, but in the vigor, freshness, direct- 
ness, simplicity, which are theirs, because they 
have not been spoilt by the conventional in our 
cultured existence. 

No monuments of Russian music in the Middle 
Ages have been preserved, except those of the 
Church, and here the Byzantine style has been 
prominent. In the Eighteenth Century Italian 
musicians were trying in St. Petersburg to accus- 
tom society to Western music. Faint attempts 
were made by these and by Russian composers to 
introduce Russian surroundings into the opera, 
with songs taken from the peasants. But the re- 
sults were insignificant. In the Church, however, 

104 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

the Italian school found favor, and Galuppi be- 
came the founder of that sentimental and playful 
style reminiscent of the concert hall, which is 
still to be observed in the Eussian divine service. 
Secular music made slow progress in society. At 
first the interest was centered entirely in light 
opera, and it was only in 1802 that the first Phil- 
harmonic Society was established. Since then the 
progress has been very rapid. Teachers of 
music, private bands on the estates of the mag- 
nates, home orchestras multiplied from year to 
year. The long series of third rate composers 
who had been furnishing the public with romances 
and cantatas in the Italian style came abruptly 
to an end by the entrance of Glinka on the scene. 

What Pushkin was to literature, that Glinka 
came to be to Eussian music. He turned his back 
upon the Italian opera and carefully studied Mo- 
zart, Cherubini and Weber, and was the first to 
divine the importance of the peasant songs for 
the formation of a national school. In 1836 he 
gained his great success with The Life for the 
Tsar, not only on account of the patriotic nature 
of the opera, but also because he here and there 
introduced familiar national melodies, in keeping 
with the nascent public and literary interest in 
the people at large. But in the later productions 
he did not maintain the same lofty attitude to- 
wards the national music, and wrote more in the 
Western manner, showing his obligations to Beet- 

Busman Music, an Expression of a People 105 

hoven aud Mozart. During that period he be- 
came the creator of the Russian symphonic music. 
The most important follower of Glinka was 
Dargomyzhski, who had less training and talent 
than his predecessor, but surpassed him in his 
ability to endow his heroes with the dramatic 
element. If Glinka guessed at the importance of 
the popular music for the formation of a national 
school, Dargomyzhski was still more in keeping 
with the "natural" school then prevailing in liter- 
ature, in that he preferred the bare and direct 
truth to conventional adornment in music. In 
1856, when his Rusalka was put on the stage, he 
wrote: "The majority of our amateurs and 
newspaper scribblers do not recognize any inspira- 
tion in me. Their routine conception looks for 
melodies flattering to the ear, which I do not seek. 
I do not intend to lower music to the level of an 
amusement. I want the sounds to represent 
speech directly. I want the truth. This they can- 
not comprehend." 

This sounds very much like a paraphrase of 
Byelinski's estimate of Gogol's works: "One 
may apply to the works of all the Russian poets, 
by stretching the point a little, the old and ob- 
solete definition of poetry as Nature adorned ; but 
it is impossible to do so in relation to Gogol's 
works. For these the more appropriate defini- 
tion is ' a reproduction of reality in all its truth. ' ' ' 
Dargomyzhski, in conformity with his desire to 

106 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

represent realistic truth, introduced the melodic 
style of the recitative, a kind of aria parlante, 
into some passages of his Rusalka and several of 
his romances, setting the pace for all the conse- 
quent composers of the Eussian school of music. 

The virtues and the faults of Russian music, 
like those of art in general, arise from the ab- 
sence of tradition, which characterizes all public 
life and literature as well. Fortunately music 
has not yet become the vocation of a distinct class, 
with its laws worked out by ages of convention, 
jealously guarded by its experts, and cautiously 
transmitted to worthy disciples of the mystery. 
In Russia, music has been the avocation, the pas- 
sion, the inspiration of leisure hours, and in the 
majority of cases these devotees have had but 
scant training and have been under no scholastic 
obligation to the coryphasi. The accumulated 
feelings need vocal expression; the smothered re- 
volt would burst its bounds, and the musical bog- 
atyr sets out in quest of adventure. His achieve- 
ments are riotous and titanic. With childlike sim- 
plicity and vigor of manhood he lays his hands 
on everything, and he retains only as much as 
serves him at a particular moment. He is seldom 
consistent, and what he likes one day he denounces 
the next ; but he is always true to the impulse of 
the moment and does not feign a sentiment that 
he does not experience. 

Glinka more than any other Russian composer 

Russian Music, an Expression of a People 107 

of the early period devoted most of his time to 
his art, but his musical education was superficial 
and his interest in music intermittent, and in 1824 
he accepted a position in a Government depart- 
ment. Though dreaming of the creation of a na- 
tional school, he devoted himself toward the end 
of his life to Western models and, after a stay in 
Spain, produced his distinctively Spanish Jota 
Aragonese and A Night in Madrid. Dargomyzh- 
ski himself entered the government service in 
1831, but he abandoned it soon for a precarious 
musical career, and in 1856 he significantly joined 
the society of non-professional musicians, Bala- 
kirev, Cui, Borodin, Rimski-Korsakov, who later 
justly received the name of ''the band of boga- 
tyrs" (moguchaya kuchka). These would storm 
the citadel of traditional music by a number of 
innovations. Truth, simplicity, nationalism was 
to lie at the foundation of their productions, and 
the dramatic performance, the stage setting and 
the musical idea were to be welded into one whole. 
Hence Dargomyzhski, in the use of the leitmotiv, 
attempted something of the same type as had been 
carried out on a large scale by Wagner. But 
Dargomyzhski did not consciously imitate Wag- 
ner. In his last great opera, The Stone Guest, 
he resembles more the contemporary German mu- 
sician, Joseph Guber, whom, however, he did not 
know. This production has been the subject of 
much discussion in Russia, because, while it is 

108 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

rich in vivid and expressive musical declamation, 
it is weak in musical contents. However, all the 
composers of his circle, especially Cui and Mu- 
sorgski, have made use of the melodic recitative, 
as employed by him. 

The only musician of any consequence who stood 
out as an opponent to the national school was 
Syerov, who did not begin his musical career until 
his forty-third year. He had received a brilliant 
general education and occupied a Government po- 
sition, using his free time for a theoretical study 
of music. He was very active as a musical critic, 
attacking, now the new Russian school, now Wag- 
ner. But in less than two years he veered around, 
after a visit to this German composer, and not 
only tried to make him popular at home, but also 
composed an opera, Judith, in his style. As his 
obligation to Wagner was chiefly in the matter 
of form, and not in the musical contents, and as 
he introduced an extreme realism into his work, 
even though he did not favor "the band of boga- 
tyrs," his Judith and his later Eognyeda, in which 
the Wagnerian influence is less perceptible, oc- 
cupy an important position in the history of the 
Russian opera, because they occupy respectively 
the third and fourth place since the creation of a 
native opera by Glinka's A Life for the Tsar. 

By contrast, Cui, professor in the School of 
Military Engineering, lecturer and author on for- 
tifications, ultimately lieutenant-general, began 

Russian Music, an Expression of a People 109 

his musical career in 1856, at the age of twenty- 
three, with some symphonic scherzos, and gained 
his first decisive success with his opera, William 
Ratclif, which, for its dramatic side, is based on 
Heine's tragedy of the same name. Only after 
this venture did he take up musical criticism, in- 
cisively attacking the academicians and warmly 
defending the principles of the national school. 
But, with curious inconsistency, his productions 
do not betray the narrower influence of the na- 
tionalists in the choice of his subject matter, until 
a much later time, when he abandons the opera 
for compositions to the Russian songs of Push- 
kin, Lermontov and Nekrasov. In his treatment 
of the vocal style, the melodic recitative and the 
rhythmic and harmonic methods he belongs dis- 
tinctly to the Russian school, and his literary ar- 
ticles and his French work on music in Russia 
have done much for the popularization of that 
school both at home and abroad. 

It was quite in keeping with the nationalistic 
tendencies of the new school of music that Bala- 
kirev, the leader of the "band of bogatyrs," in 
1862, helped to found the Free Music School, in 
which he became the musical director. The serfs 
had just been emancipated, and everywhere in 
Russia men began to interest themselves in "the 
people," the large mass of the uncouth peasantry, 
which was supposed to have endless dormant pos- 
sibilities. It was one of the tenets of the nation- 

110 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

alists that art must not only proceed from the 
national data, but that it reached its highest per- 
fection only in the service of the masses. It was 
the intention of the Free Music School to bring 
the benefits of the musical art to those who could 
not afford to pay the high admission price in the 
opera house, and to foster natural talent wher- 
ever it was found. The same spirit of a closer 
union between the artist and the people led 
Balakirev in 1866 to collect a number of popular 
songs and to provide these with delicately and 
tastefully composed pianoforte accompaniments. 
All the subsequent works of the nationalists show 
their obligations to this collection. Thus, for ex- 
ample, Rimski-Korsakov's Pskovityanka bor- 
rowed three themes from it. It is a curious fact 
that Balakirev 's own compositions, Tamara and 
Islamey, the first of which was dedicated to Liszt, 
while the second was Liszt's favorite piece, are 
not based on native music or dramatic circum- 

Music is the most universal of all the artistic 
activities, since the language of sound is accessi- 
ble to at least all the European nations. Hence, 
the particularistic nationalism, although produc- 
tive of a sense of immediacy and youthful vigor 
frequently absent in the traditional music, came 
in conflict with the academic conventions as soon 
as the composer succumbed to the ambition of a 
universal reputation, in place of his strictly na- 

Russian Music, an Expression of a People 111 

tionalistic ideals. In literature this happened to 
Turgenev who, departing from the slovenly form, 
but intrinsic purpose of the "natural" school for 
the greater perfection of the Western writers, be- 
came the first well-known Russian author abroad, 
but lost proportionately at home as an expounder 
of the national life. Something similar has hap- 
pened in music with Rimski-Korsakov. He began 
his career as a sailor, at the same time devoting 
himself to music in the sense of the "Band," 
with whom he had become intimately acquainted. 
He scored his first success, while serving as a 
naval lieutenant, in 1865, when his symphony was 
given in the Free Music School. In his earliest 
production he adhered closely to the nationalist 
program — that music must not only be an accom- 
paniment in the opera, but must also have an in- 
trinsic value, and Pskovityanka, produced in 1873, 
belongs to the best tradition of Dargomyzhski 
and Glinka, even surpassing them in the purity 
of the native element and in dramatic depth and 
force. The same may be said of his second sym- 
phony, Antar, which is one of the best poetical pro- 
ductions of symphonic music in general. In 1871, 
while still holding his commission as a naval of- 
ficer, Rimski-Korsakov was called to the direc- 
torship of the St. Petersburg Conservatory of 
Music. He still adhered to the tenets of his mu- 
sical associates, and one of the results of his pro- 
lific activity in this direction was a collection of 

112 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

folk-songs, besides numerous romances drawn 
from Eussian literature. He became convinced 
that bis theoretical musical education had been 
neglected and he threw himself upon the study 
of the classics, after which he composed a large 
number of impeccable operas and symphonies, but 
it was only in his unconscious moments that he 
at all reached the vigorous emotion of his Psko- 

The most original of the "band of bogatyrs" 
was Musorgski, because he never compromised his 
philosophic and artistic preconceptions with ego- 
tistic ambitions of popularity. Although in- 
tended for a military career, he early in youth 
fell in with Cui and Balakirev and other musicians 
and devoted himself with passion to music. After 
having written a piano scherzo, at the age of 
twenty-two, in 1861 he made an impression by 
his Intermezzo symphonique in modo classico, 
which, however, in the middle part betrayed his 
predilection for popular themes. Musorgski him- 
self pointed out the descriptive side of this pro- 
duction when he said it represented a crowd of 
peasants trudging through the snow and meeting 
a bevy of singing peasant girls. Dramatic force, 
sharp and characteristic delineations, boldness 
and realism of the musical form, and correctness 
of national setting are the positive sides of his 
musical genius, and these are joined with a care- 
lessness in instrumentation, awkward accentua- 

Russian Music, an Expression of a People 113 

tion of unnecessary details, slovenly representa- 
tion of human speech, and rhythmic, harmonic, 
and melodic unconventionalities, frequently inten- 
tional, so that even his own intimate, Rimski- 
Korsakov, considered it necessary to reedit and 
correct Musorgski's great opera, Boris Godunov, 
before it should reach the public at large. It is 
as though Walt Whitman were to be pruned and 
bowdlerized by Swinburne, or Lev Tolstoy were 
to be sent for correction to his critic Merezhkov- 

Musorgski was a characteristic son of Eussia of 
the '60 's. He revolted against the tyranny of any 
class, and he devoted all his artistic energies in 
the service of "the people." Hence he strove to 
represent the inner life, the musical emotion of the 
peasants, not only in a manner accessible to them, 
but also with utter disregard of the traditions of 
the science of music. Even as this principle of 
"art for life's sake" had intensified the contents, 
in proportion as it had weakened the structure, of 
the Russian novel, so the desire to keep in touch 
with the masses compelled Musorgski to depart 
from the conventional forms of music. He is to 
Russian music what Tolstoy is to its literature, 
and in America he more nearly resembles Walt 
Whitman in his all-embracing democracy. How- 
ever acceptable Rimski-Korsakov's rifacimenti of 
Musorgski's Boris Godunov and Khovanshchina 
may be to the general public, it is imperative that 

114 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

the original scores of the two operas should be 
made more accessible to the student of Kussian 
music, not only for the light they shed on the ex- 
treme and unspoiled tendencies of the "band of 
bogatyrs," but also because they may contain ele- 
ments, however uncouth, that music may well 
make use of, to save itself from artistic inanity. 

The number of well-known composers who stand 
outside the group of the nationalists is very great. 
Glazunov, Lyadov, Lyapunoy, Arenski, Chaykov- 
ski, Rubinstein, Tanyeev, and the moderns, 
Rakhmaninov, Skryabin, Stravinski, and many 
more are to be found in Western repertoires, but 
they do no longer stand for anything distinc- 
tively Russian. The work of the bogatyrs was 
done. From absolute non-participation in the 
world's music in the Eighteenth Century, Russia 
has passed through her period of storm and stress 
and has befittingly taken a place in the arena of 
universal music. Within a century it has accom- 
plished what it has taken many centuries to bring 
about in the West. Now the influence of the vigo- 
rous "band of bogatyrs" is making itself felt in 
other countries as well, for an interest in the peo- 
ple 's music is perceptible all along the musical line. 
Just now Russia is passing through a state of 
musical self-satisfaction. It is more concerned 
about recognition abroad than about a missionary 
work at home. But the spirit of Musorgski is not 
dead, and the well-meaning efforts of his friend to 

Russian Music, an Expression of a People 115 

whip him into agreement with tradition will not 
for ever screen his democracy from a new genera- 
tion of bogatyrs. The request made by Sokalski 
in 1886 and so urgently repeated by Madame Linev 
in 1906, that special chairs of popular music be es- 
tablished at the Conservatories will some day be 
heeded, and Russia will once more lead the world 
in the democratization of music and will give it 
that place in the State that Plato long ago had 
wanted it to hold. 


ANEW religion successfully spreads among 
a people only when its tenets are in keeping 
with the higher moral code already hinted at or 
practised by those who are being converted. 

The superiority of the Mohammedan propa- 
ganda in Africa over that of the Christians is due 
to the fact that Islam is based on tropical morality 
and takes into account those social institutions 
which have evolved in desert countries. Christi- 
anity began and spread there where the slaves, de- 
prived of all earthly comfort by an overbearing 
civilization, sought for recompense in a hereafter. 
It was, therefore, at first coterminous with the 
Roman Empire, and Christian martyrdom is the 
inverse of Roman persecutions. 

In the early centuries Christianity was active 
and direct. Its appeal was to the social instinct 
and the moral feeling, not to the mind. Its decline 
began in the Fourth Century, when it was removed 
into the field of speculation and was expounded by 
religious philosophers. It developed hairsplitting 
dogmas, to the great delight of the post-classicists. 


The Essence of Russian Religion 117 

Religion was no longer the immediate need of the 
heart, but the academic tradition of the Fathers, to 
be accepted implicitly as faith. Academic tradi- 
tion creates dissenting schools, and Christianity, 
whose one great purpose is to unite all suffering 
humanity into a brotherhood, splits up into a num- 
ber of warring heresies, to be supported no longer 
by the submerged masses but by the strong arm of 
the State. The clergy, as the expounder of the 
philosophy of religion, entrenches itself in ortho- 
doxy by means of a powerful hierarchy, with the 
infallible chief keeper of the academic truth, and 
either dominates the secular State, if the latter 
is weak, or allies itself with the State, if it is 
strong, in order to gain temporal power. 

The Christian impetus once given, the masses do 
not think of divesting themselves of the new teach- 
ing, but the faith no longer touches their spiritual 
needs. It has to do with externals only, and the 
more ignorant the people are, the more do they 
cling to mere observances as the proof of their 
orthodoxy. Christian morals affect them but 
lightly. There arises what is denominated as 
double faith, the pagan practises and morality, 
and the Christian profession and ecclesiasticism. 
This was the case throughout the Middle Ages, and 
this is the case at all times, where Christian teach- 
ings clash with worldly, un-Christian conditions. 

The world is far from being Christian to-day. 
In reality it is pagan of the pagans. Materialism, 

118 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

selfishness, vengeance, hatred, might rule the 
European nations, and the masses, for whom 
Christ came to bring consolation, are trained from 
infancy to become food for cannon. The most 
" civilized" nation rabidly preaches the reign of 
the sword and the mailed fist, while its academic 
teachers have etherealized Christianity to the van- 
ishing point. 

There come moments when the absence of a con- 
soling faith based on actual practises becomes in- 
tolerable to the oppressed, and then they clamor 
for an individual share in that religion which the 
academicians and the priests have arrogated to 
themselves. These outbursts are known in his- 
tory as Eeforms. They have invariably been led 
by the people and not by the religious hierarchy. 
They have always been revolts against the re- 
ligious robber barons. The Albigenses, Wal- 
denses, Lollards, Hussites were the precursors of 
the later Eeforms, which themselves have in turn 
been appropriated by the learned profession, leav- 
ing again the submerged to grope for themselves 
and reestablish a primitive Christianity. The 
Salvation Army and the spontaneous minor sects 
that arise here and there are continuing the tradi- 
tion of the early Christians, each in its turn to be 
in time deprived of its democratic initiative. 

Christian practise and Christian faith are two 
widely distinct aspects of religious truth. The 
Eskimo who lays by a double supply of fish, in 

The Essence of Russian Religion 119 

order to meet the need of some unsuccessful neigh- 
bor, who keeps his igloo open for invited and unin- 
vited guests, who does not punish the transgres- 
sor, lest he turn a worse criminal, — is acting in the 
spirit of Christian charity ; and no amount of dog- 
matic theorizing and religious observances can in 
this respect make a better Christian of him. On 
the contrary, if the incorporation of the Eskimos 
in the church is to be based on sectarian articles of 
faith, instead of the ethical principles, as evolved 
from their own moral code, they may lose the good 
which they have, without obtaining the benefits, 
which it is the fundamental purpose of religion to 
give. Nor do we have to go to the Eskimos for 
illustrations of this important fact. The peas- 
antry of France is, according to Zola, grossly 
selfish, immoral, and dull, totally bereft of those 
virtues which are preached in the churches which 
they attend punctiliously. The literatures of all 
the European countries agree in depicting upper 
class society as possessed of weak moral stamina 
and frequently degenerate to the highest degree, 
though supporting, adorning, and promoting 
palacious temples to the God and His vicar, whom 
they profess to follow. The clergies of any de- 
nomination are not exempt from criminal dockets, 
any more than the flocks whom they charm with 
mellow words of religious truth. Though we are 
supposed to temper our laws by Christian morals, 
the lower elements of the cities are as savage in 

120 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

their instincts as are the wild men of Darkest 

There are those to whom order and system 
represent the highest accomplishments of human 
activities, those to whom obvious efficiency is a 
criterion of real progress. Men possessed of such 
minds love to ramble in Italian gardens, with their 
close cropped and fantastic hedges, and, like Dr. 
Johnson, abhor green fields and natural forests. 
These men grade civilization by the sum total of 
visible results, and recognize the salutary effect of 
a religion by the splendid churches, gorgeous di- 
vine service, organized charity, learned clergy, 
and refined congregations which they display. 
To such observers the condition of religion in Rus- 
sia represents a sad and discouraging spectacle. 
With the exception of the superb cathedrals of the 
cities, built by the magnificence of wealthy patrons 
and supported by all the splendors of modern 
civilization, the churches of Russia harbor an igno- 
rant clergy and superstitious worshipers, equally 
devoid of visible organization and cultural tenden- 
cies. And the more such observers study the his- 
tory of the Russian Church, the more they become 
disappointed and turn away to the more brilliant 
spectacles represented in the West. Yet it may be 
shown that Russia has a germ of a far deeper re- 
ligious consciousness than any other country in 
Europe, and that a few years of intellectual and 
political freedom will bring the Greek Catholic 

The Essence of Russian Religion 121 

Church so prominently to the front, that the older 
churches of Europe will find it very difficult to 
compete with it for real efficiency and widespread 
influence. Even before attempting the analysis of 
the Kussian religion, it is possible to prove this 
thesis from general considerations. 

Kussia has shown a uniform weakness in the de- 
velopment of philosophic systems, not because the 
Russian mind is incapable of assiduous scientific 
labors, but because it abhors the philosophic void. 
Abstract philosophy has been the special preroga- 
tive of German scholars, who have in this field 
produced wonders. But their systems, although 
applicable for scientific theories, have seldom en- 
tered into the life of the nation. Hegel, Schel- 
ling, Nietzsche have far more affected the daily 
conduct of Russians, than they have that of the 
Germans. The study of Russian literature, art, 
science, political life is meaningless, if pursued 
without reference to the German philosophies 
which have directed the intellectual movements of 
Russia. The cause of this is temperamental. 
The Russian is not interested in the abstract tele- 
ological questions, but constantly wants to find the 
logical relation of life's duties to life itself. A 
French philosopher, who recently has subjected 
Russian philosophic ideas to a close scrutiny, has 
come to the conclusion that it presents endless new 
possibilities, because, in contradistinction with 
Western philosophy, it strives after a concrete 

122 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

idealism. This characterization is just. As 
Vereshchagin objected to the representation of 
saints on flimsy clouds, so the philosopher cannot 
grasp an idealism which does not immediately give 
concrete results. He cannot deal with an ideal 
world. He is interested in the world in which we 
live, and only to such a world does he want to 
apply his idealism. The Kussian philosopher is a 
relativist par excellence. 

If art must be related to life, so must philos- 
ophy. As Tolstoy puts it: "Most striking is 
the deviation from the fundamental questions and 
their distortion in what in our time is called philos- 
ophy. It would seem that there is one question 
which is subject to the solution of philosophy, and 
that is : What must I do 1 To this question there 
have been some kinds of answers in the philoso- 
phy of the Christian nations, though these were 
connected with the greatest unnecessary confusion 
of ideas : such answers were those by Spinoza, by 
Kant in his Critique of Pure Reason, by Schopen- 
hauer, and especially by Kousseau. But of late, 
since the time of Hegel, who recognized everything 
in existence as sensible, the question as to what we 
shall do has been put in the background, and phi- 
losophy directs all its attention to the investiga- 
tion of what is, and to the subordination of this to 
a previously stated theory." But if philosophy is 
to give, not the answer to what life is, but what we 
shall do with the life which we have, then ethics 

The Essence of Russian Religion 123 

and religion are the only branches which can have 
any bearing on life, and nobody can be excused 
for ignoring them. The artist and the litterateur, 
the statesman and the priest, the professor and the 
layman must be equally interested in the matter. 
That such is the case, is amply proved by the whole 
of Russian life. Religion, not sectarian dogma 
and church observances, but the "concrete ideal- 
ism" of philosophy is at the basis of everything 
good created in Russia, hence philosophy, as a 
separate branch is ill-represented, while as the 
background of literary and artistic activity it is 

The failure of this philosophy or religion — call 
it whichever you like — in the established Orthodox 
Church is due, as it has been elsewhere, to the 
fact that religion has been abstracted from the 
masses and has been entrusted to a selfish, igno- 
rant, brutal, monastic, upper clergy. Fortunately 
for the masses, this clergy has never systematized 
its religion into an academic perfect whole, and 
the people, though ignorant and superstitious, 
have never been scientifically corrupted into blind 
worship of authority. A mere spark will enflame 
them, and religion will return to those for whom 
it is meant, without having to struggle against 
centuries of tradition and the insidious perfection 
of an ecclesiastic system. The signs are already 
in the air, and a distinguished Roman Catholic 
theologian, whose theology is tempered by pro- 

124 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

found learning and a true spirit of religion, has in 
his many works on the Russian Church warned the 
Roman Church that in a very short time Russia 
must outstrip the Catholic religion of the West, 
unless the latter is willing to accept the same free 
spirit of discussion which is sweeping through the 
lower, the " white" clergy and the people in 

When Prince Vladimir introduced Christianity 
into Kiev in the Tenth Century, the Byzantine 
Church had long before outlived the period of im- 
mediacy between the worshipers and their God, 
and had turned into a jealously guarded hierarchy, 
which prescribed strict observances and blind faith 
in their dogmas. This was unfortunate for Russia, 
for its religious experience was not widened by the 
new teaching, while the ecclesiastic code only im- 
posed a mass of external obligations, which did 
not in any way interfere with the pagan practises 
of the people. The two religions lived amicably 
together, even though the Church hurled anath- 
emas against the foreign gods. As the people 
could not provide any priests who possessed even 
a modicum of learning, the lower clergy which was 
from the start recruited among them, was chosen, 
not for its ability to expound the gospel, but for 
its readiness to submit to the dictates of the higher 
hierarchy and to act merely as animated prayer 
wheels on all those occasions when the masses 
could be mulcted for the support of the monastic 

The Essence of Russian Religion 125 

orders. What little education there was to be 
found in the country was centered about the 
abbeys, where the learned Greek monks and later 
the instructed Russian priests took refuge. But 
the monasteries were quite different from those in 
the West. Here they formed an asylum for what 
culture escaped from the ravages of ruthless war, 
or became havens for those who wanted to devote 
themselves to a contemplative and religious life. 
In Russia they were chiefly filled with parasites 
who found it more comfortable, under the guise 
of penances, to receive the ample gifts of the be- 
lievers, than to eke out a miserable existence as 
parish priests. 

All that there was to indicate that the monks, 
known as the black clergy, in distinction to the lay 
priests, the white clergy, were supposed to lead a 
more austere life than other men was the enforced 
celibacy, which was not even admitted in the case 
of the other priests. The monasteries reduced 
themselves into abodes of vice, and the monks, 
considering themselves as the privileged clergy, 
managed to keep the episcopal and other higher 
dignities of the land in their own hands. Thus 
there arose a breach in the Church from the start, 
the higher offices remaining in the possession of a 
corrupt closed corporation, while the parishes 
were left to ignorant, poverty-stricken priests, 
whose intellectual level was not above the ignorant 
congregations for whom they officiated. But in 

126 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

this obvious dualism of darkness and darkness lies 
the germ of better things, as manifested in the 
activities of the white clergy within the last two 
decades. While the black clergy has constantly 
aligned itself with the Government, of which it be- 
came a bureaucratic branch, the parish priests re- 
mained in touch with their humble flocks, living 
their lives and knowing their needs. The re- 
ligious future of Eussia depends upon the share 
these men will have in the ecclesiastic councils, and 
the tendency is distinctly to widen their spheres of 

The troubled days of the Eevolution in 1905 
made the work of the parish priests in Petrograd 
exceedingly difficult and dangerous. It looked as 
though the popular party might win, and the 
priests could not determine whether it was their 
duty to stand by the people or by the obsolescent 
State. Thirty- two of the bolder clergymen pub- 
lished a memorandum which pointed out the impo- 
tence of the Eussian clergy and demanded the es- 
tablishment of a Church that would be free from 
civil control. To reestablish the organic freedom 
for such a Church they proposed the convocation 
of a National Council. This memorandum was 
widely discussed, and Prime Minister Witte 
warmly advocated the calling together of such a 
Council, because he felt that Peter the Great had 
reduced the Church to a political institution and 

The Essence of Russian Religion 127 

that the people could have returned to it the 
spiritual benefit of religion, only if the clergy and 
the laity were brought together without the inter- 
ference of the State. 

For our purpose the extremely active discussion 
which was provoked by the memorandum and the 
rescript lies in the fact that it accentuated the in- 
timate relation which potentially existed between 
the white clergy and the masses, while the black 
clergy was throughout considered as occupying a 
position external to the people's religion. The 
consensus of opinion, within the Church itself, was 
in favor of opening the doors of the Council to the 
lower clergy and not allowing the bishops to de- 
termine policies and means and ways by them- 
selves. Although there were divisions as to the 
part the delegated parish priests were to play, 
whether in a consultative or deliberative capacity, 
it was clearly pointed out that the Orthodox 
Church was an organism capable of development 
and that it was not represented by the clergy 
alone, but by the combined hierarchy and the peo- 
ple. Not too much hope is to be placed in the re- 
sults to be obtained by this Council, because the 
Government will, no doubt, in the last moment 
nullify the spontaneous efforts of the nascent re- 
ligious consciousness, but it is significant that the 
lower clergy is awakening to the needs of the 
masses and feels itself called to stand by the 

128 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

masses and protect them against the arbitrariness 
of the closed body from which the bishops are 

On the other hand there are signs that the 
people are beginning to take a personal interest in 
religious matters. Outside of the United States 
there is no other country so full of sects as is 
Eussia. The parallelism of the two countries is, 
in this respect, due to the rationalistic sense of the 
masses, who want to interpret the gospel in a sense 
accessible to their intelligences. The sects, how- 
ever, differ greatly from one another, in the same 
way as the conditions and the intellectual capaci- 
ties of the two nations differ. In America the dis- 
senting churches busy themselves chiefly with mat- 
ters of interpretation and organization. The de- 
votees of the various sects vie with one another in 
credos and in public effectiveness. In Russia, 
where the intellectual outfit of the believers is gen- 
erally of a low order, the sects differ dogmatically 
in strange and sometimes grotesque articles of 
faith, but their importance is not in verbal inter- 
pretation, nor in the public organization, but in 
the immediate effect upon the individual. The 
sectarians are invariably better morally, because 
mere dissent, no matter how absurd its justifica- 
tion may be, frees the individual from the religious 
lethargy to which the corrupt Church has doomed 
him. Whether the sectarian is an Old Believer, 
who differs from the Orthodox members merely in 

The Essence of Russian Religion 129 

the way he makes the cross, or a Dukhobor, with a 
mystical explanation of the Gospel, or a Khlyst, 
who flagellates himself, he is invariably a sober, 
honest, hard working man, while the Orthodox 
peasant is shiftless, dishonest, immoral. As there 
is not the slightest difference in the ethnic rela- 
tionship or the intellectual equipment of the two 
classes of believers, and as the Orthodox peasants 
improve immediately after defecting from the 
Church, the change so brought about does not de- 
pend on the comprehension of the religion, but on 
the initiative restored to the individual. 

The Church has deprived him of every necessity 
of being answerable to himself for his acts, and he 
has delegated all his religion to the Church. He 
is shaken from his passivity the moment the re- 
ligion becomes his own and he is obliged to inter- 
pret his acts in the light of the written word or to 
bring the written word into accord with his moral 
concepts. The whole history of dissent in Kussia 
illustrates the importance of the democratization 
of religion for the masses. 

The growth of the Muscovite Empire in the Six- 
teenth Century strengthened the religious nation- 
alism as well, and the Church threw off its slavish 
dependence on Byzantium. Joseph, Abbot of the 
Monastery of Volokolamsk, preached a closer 
union of church and state, and demanded that the 
religious observances should remain as they had 
been practised of old, avoiding those innovations 

130 An Interpretation of the Btissian People 

which the Greek divines were advocating on the 
basis of the corrected texts, as they appeared in 
print in Venice and other Catholic places. As 
Joseph filled many of the influential places in the 
Church with his own monks, his conservative 
views prevailed throughout the country and helped 
to strengthen the people in their conviction that 
Moscow, the third Rome, was in possession of the 
true, unpolluted Christianity. When the learned 
Greek, Maxim, proposed to purify the Russian 
liturgy from the gross errors which had crept into 
it from imperfect and contradictory manuscripts, 
he was suspected of anti-nationalistic tendencies 
and was condemned to pass his days in confine- 
ment in a distant monastery. 

Meanwhile the southern clergy in Kiev had come 
in contact with the Polish scholastic learning and 
began to appreciate the grammatical study of 
texts and the necessity of going to the Greek origi- 
nals for doubtful passages. When Nikon, a cen- 
tury later, was made Patriarch, he braved the pub- 
lic outcry against innovations and undertook to 
compare the extant manuscripts and printed litur- 
gical works with the Greek originals. Having 
convinced himself that the errors that had crept 
in must be eradicated, he devoted himself whole- 
heartedly to the reform of the Church according to 
the Greek prototype. The people, who had cher- 
ished their religion as their own spiritual prop- 
erty, however ill they understood its higher mean- 

The Essence of Russian Religion 131 

ing, now to their dismay found themselves in op- 
position to their spiritual teachers, whom they sus- 
pected of deep-laid plots to deprive them of their 
national faith. To preserve their own, they dis- 
sented in the direction of stark conservatism, and 
we get in Kussia the unusual phenomenon that 
the masses, in their desire to retain the true faith, 
do not ask for a revision of the sacred texts and 
church observances in the direction of reason or 
pristine purity, but for the maintenance of the tra- 
ditional forms. 

In the West every Keform has been initiated by 
the people for the purpose of freeing the conven- 
tional interpretation from accumulated errors and 
bringing the religious tenets in accord with the 
popular conception of the moral and spiritual 
truths contained in them. In Russia, where the 
intellectual development of the masses was of a 
low order, the dissent was not based on any inter- 
pretation, but on the need to keep the religion from 
any new interpretation and within the sentimental 
grasp of the people. The breach between the in- 
tellectuals and the masses, which historians gen- 
erally ascribe to the political and social reforms of 
Peter the Great, in reality began with Nikon's in- 
novations. The clergy, by accepting the correc- 
tions as ordered by Nikon and the Tsar, placed it- 
self on the side of the Government and deprived 
the masses of the sentimental consolation of re- 
ligion, while the believers divested themselves of 

132 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

their immediate right in their faith by allowing 
an intellectual body to interpret it at their pleas- 
ure. The Orthodox masses who accepted the cor- 
rections without any opposition slipped into a 
vegetative religious existence, while those who 
fought for the maintenance of the corrupt tradi- 
tion displayed the true spirit of dissent, busying 
themselves with individual moral reforms, and not 
with matters of exegesis. The Old Believers fre- 
quently quoted Saint Chrysostom's epigram, 
"The Church does not consist in church walls, but 
in church laws ; if you flee to the church, do not run 
to a place, but to the counsel: the Church is not 
walls and a roof, but faith and acts." The Old 
Believers primarily were concerned with the vivi- 
fication of the religious life, not with the continu- 
ance of the visible Church. 

In their private lives the dissenters have dis- 
tinguished themselves for their integrity of pur- 
pose and exceptional honesty, but in their attempts 
to interpret the religious dogma they have arrived 
at fantastic conclusions, which have led to gro- 
tesque and tragical results. The Old Believers 
were from the start confronted with the grave 
question of continuing the ecclesiastic hierarchy, 
as derived in uninterrupted succession from 
Christ, or else they were obliged to deny the neces- 
sity of all ecclesiastic sanction. They first crystal- 
lized themselves into the organization of the 
Priestly Dissenters, while the second, more radical 

The Essence of Russian Religion 133 

in their schism, became known as the Priestless 
Dissenters. Both parties began their departure 
from the innovations of Nikon by representing the 
Tsar and the Orthodox Church as the embodi- 
ments of the Antichrist, and they awaited the end 
of the world to come from this source at an early 
time. To hasten the general conflagration, they 
courted prosecutions, which would enable them to 
die the martyrs' death. Thousands immolated 
themselves in autos-da-fe, and when the suicidal 
mania subsided, they ran away to the inhospitable 
and inaccessible swampy regions of the Northeast, 
to devote themselves to their religious life away 
from the prosecution of the State. After many 
vicissitudes and internal dissensions the Priestly 
Dissenters have either returned to the Orthodox 
Church or have been absorbed by the more radical 
Priestless Schism. 

The Reformation did not pass entirely unnoticed 
in Russia. Protestant preachers not only con- 
tinued their propaganda in Moscow among the 
foreign population, but also tried to convert Rus- 
sians. Several of these were struck by the supe- 
rior morality contained in the teachings of the 
German divines and even outdid them in rational- 
ism and moral force, when they worked out the 
newly acquired ideas into a complete system for 
the sects which they were founding. Theodosius 
declared all those to be sons of God who had ac- 
cepted spiritual reason, while Kosoy said that all 

134 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

were equal in the sight of God, even Tartars and 
Germans. Hence Kosoy considered baptism and 
confession as unnecessary. According to him, 
prayers were of no avail, because the Gospel or- 
dered us to pray in spirit and in truth, and not 
to prostrate ourselves on the ground. Depart 
from untruth — that is all that is needed. There 
must be no priests, since Christ is the only teacher. 
Property must be held in common, and the true fol- 
lowers of Christ cannot acknowledge the State or 
wage war. 

The Old Believers, who clung to the ritual of the 
Church and did not worry about the interpretation 
of the meaning of the religious tenets, and the sec- 
tarians, who not only turned away from the ex- 
isting Church but even subjected the Gospel to a 
bold and untrammeled scrutiny, were alike con- 
vinced that the essence of religion was not in 
temples and vessels, but in acts. The sectarians 
were, however, freer in their attitude to the Bible, 
and so they added to the moral purpose of their 
faith the characteristic Russian intellectual revolt, 
which compelled them to carry the evangelical 
Christianity of their German predecessors to its 
logical consequence. Theodosius and Kosoy of 
the Sixteenth Century had a number of independ- 
ent continuators, but the teachings of the evan- 
gelical Christians were not very influential among 
the masses before the Nineteenth Century, because 
they originated with those who could follow the 

The Essence of Russian Religion 135 

writings of the Western reformers and even 
studied Latin for the purpose. Far more popular 
was the sect of the "spiritual" Christians, because 
it had its origin among the people and was not de- 
pendent on book learning. 

The origin of the "Christians," or Khlysts, as 
they themselves pronounced the word, is clouded 
in mystery. It seems to be related to the mystical 
teachings of Jacob Boehm which one Quirinus 
Kuhlmann tried to spread in Moscow in the sec- 
ond half of the Seventeenth Century. The 
Khlysts were recruited chiefly from the Priestless 
Dissenters, for they shared with them the stern 
commandments, "if you are unmarried, do not 
marry; if you are married, be divorced; drink 
neither wine nor beer ; do not attend weddings and 
festivities; do not steal, nor scold." Their elabo- 
rate ceremonial provided for an earth-born Christ 
and prophets, and the meetings began with songs 
and dances. One of the prophets whirled about 
until he fell down exhausted, and then he began to 
tell the fates of those present. These sectarians 
soon deteriorated, because of their opposition to 
marriage. Having begun with restraint and 
ascetic practises, they soon abandoned themselves 
to the wildest orgies. Those who preferred to 
abide by the ascetic practises of the earlier 
Khlysts and saw no other way to escape from 
carnal sin except by self-mutilation, formed a new 
sect, that of the Skoptsy or Mutilators. 

136 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

The Khlysts and Mutilators curiously found 
their way among the upper class society in the 
reign of Alexander I. This Emperor became in 
1812 acquainted with the religious movements in 
England and in America, and fell under the influ- 
ence of Quakers and Pietists. One of the impor- 
tant results of this new interest was the lifting of 
the ban against the sectarians. Society, aping 
the mystic preoccupation of the Emperor, took up 
the spiritual teachings of the peasant sectarians, 
and long rows of elegant carriages could any time 
be seen at the door of the * 'prophet" Selivanov, 
lately returned from exile. A historic explana- 
tion was found for the ecstatic dancing and the 
tenets were subjected to a revision to suit the 
needs of the intellectuals. These refined ideas in 
their turn affected the peasant sectarians, who no 
longer destroyed books, as they did in the begin- 
ning of their propaganda, but borrowed readily 
from the writings of the cultured, only to lead the 
new ideas derived from them to their stern, logical 
consequences. The Khlyst dogma was enriched 
by the mystical teaching about the mystery of 
death and the mystery of the resurrection. To 
solve the mystery of death, the sectarian Eadaev 
taught that one must unconditionally resign one's 
personal will. A man must renounce himself, 
must divest himself of wealth, glory, honor, reason, 
desire, will. He must abandon education, phil- 
anthropic institutions, all laws and rules, and 

The Essence of Russian Religion 137 

devote himself entirely to the will of God, in the 
person of his Vicar. 

The most interesting of the "spiritual" sects 
is that of the Dukhobors or Spirit Wrestlers. 
They had their origin in the second half of the 
Eighteenth Century, as it seems, in the propa- 
ganda of a Prussian sergeant who was supposed to 
be a Quaker and in the writings of a Little Russian 
philosopher and Mystic, Skovoroda. The latter 
drew his inspiration mainly from the teachings of 
the Bohemian sect of Abrahamites, and taught 
that Christ was not to be sought without, but 
within one's own soul. "If you do not first of all 
seek within you, you will in vain seek in other 
places. ' ' The Dukhobors accepted from his writ- 
ings what coincided with their own conceptions, 
but, as is usual, carried the teachings to the fur- 
thest point. They taught that man had fallen 
from original purity and "must cleanse himself in 
the home of his spirit, so that he may not go far 
to the pool in Jerusalem." The Gospel, the sacra- 
ments, the religious observances had no meaning 
for them externally, but only in a spiritual way. 
The main thing was to practise love to God and 
to one 's neighbors. Unfortunately the early Dukh- 
obors did not live up to the dictates of an inner 
conscience, but surrounded themselves with visible 
explanations of their allegorical teachings, and 
even had among themselves an incarnated Christ. 
The sect broke up into several parts, the most 

138 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

prominent being that of the Molokans or Milk- 
drinkers, who tried to combine the spiritual with 
the evangelical Christianity and accepted some of 
the injunctions of the Old Testament, such as the 
prohibition of eating pork and fishes without 
scales, and the substitution of Saturday for the 
day of rest. 

At the present time the evangelical sect of the 
Shtunclists is numerically and intellectually of 
greater significance than any of those mentioned 
above. It had its beginning in the south-west of 
Eussia, in the neighborhood of German colonies, 
where the religious fervor of the Nazarseans and 
Jumpers found their expression in home-meetings, 
known as Stunde. In the '60 's of the Nineteenth 
Century the peasants of the Governments of Kiev 
and Kherson formulated a Baptist dogma, uniting, 
however, the evangelical conception with the domi- 
nant spiritual ideas of the Molokans and other 
kindred sects. In 1891 the propaganda had 
spread to thirty provinces, but even earlier, in 
1884, an attempt had been made by the Pashkov- 
ists of the North, who, under the guidance of Pash- 
kov, an intellectual, had been basing their belief 
on the Protestant principle of justification by 
faith, to unite with the Shtundists into one great 
sectarian revival. It is interesting to note that 
American missionaries took part in this meeting, 
which did not lead to any definite results, both on 

The Essence of Russian Religion 139 

account of the Government's opposition and the 
impossibility of coming to an understanding on the 
question of baptism. 

Every year sees the rise of new sects in Russia. 
In his work on the Russian Church, Palmieri gives 
the following account of those which have made 
their appearance since 1900. (1) "The sect of 
Free Faith or Readers. It is a sect with Lutheran 
tendencies which affects a great aversion against 
the use of tobacco and spirituous beverages. 
Pobyedonostsev considers it very dangerous be- 
cause it criticizes the Orthodox Church and its 
clergy. (2) The sect of the Prophets, which cele- 
brates the Saturday instead of the Sunday, repudi- 
ates the hierarchy, and causes its members in their 
exaltation to commit strange acts. It arose in 
1901 in the Baltic Provinces. (3) The Sect of the 
Khekhulity or Kayuki was formed in St. Peters- 
burg in 1901. They do not admit the worship of 
the sacred images, deny the real value of the sacra- 
ments, consider as absolutely contrary to the law 
of God to kiss the icons, to prostrate oneself in 
church, or to light the lamps. They practise in 
their assemblies a public confession of sins, those 
present placing their hands on the shoulders of the 
penitents and pronouncing a brief formula of ab- 
solution. (4) The Johnites, originated in the city 
of Orienbaum in 1901, believe that the Proto- 
hiereus of the Cathedral of Cronstadt, John Ser- 

140 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

giev, called by the votaries of Russian Orthodoxy 
the Thaumaturge, is the incarnation of the Divin- 

The list is far from exhausted, but it shows that 
the same tendencies animate the new sects as those 
which we have found in the dissenters and sectar- 
ians from the Sixteenth Century on. The regen- 
eration of the country in a religious and moral way 
will in all probability come from the Old Believers, 
both on account of their superior numbers and 
their less pronounced opposition to the ruling 
Church. They claim to have twenty million fol- 
lowers, but that number is probably exaggerated. 
However, they are present in sufficient force to 
have compelled the Government, by an ukase of 
April 17, 1905, to abandon the old persistent prose- 
cution and to grant them rights only second to the 
Orthodox Church. Their parishes are legalized; 
their priests are freed from military service; they 
may found new churches, though by a later re- 
script they are not permitted to make proselytes 
among the Orthodox. The Old Believers have 
lately promulgated a remarkable program. They 
profess respect for all nationalities and all re- 
ligions. They favor the Constitutional Party and 
wish to solve the labor question and bring about an 
economic reform by improving the condition of the 
proletariat. They want to encourage popular edu- 
cation, and violently oppose the use of tobacco 
and alcoholic drinks. The present prohibition of 

The Essence of Russian Religion 141 

the sale of alcoholic beverages, which so surprises 
the West and America and seems Utopian is based 
on the popular demand for such a measure by the 
sober and industrious Old Believers. It is, how- 
ever, doubtful whether the Govermnent will suc- 
ceed in reforming the masses as effectively as the 
dissenters have been doing by the mere force of 
example and religious conviction. 

In religion, as in literature and art, Russia pre- 
sents a chaotic state of individual endeavors to 
free conscience from the blighting influence of an 
absolutistic hierarchy, an earnest desire to apply 
to life the esoteric teachings of Christianity in 
place of external observances and unreasoning 
obedience to ecclesiastic authority, a rationaliza- 
tion of thought instead of fine-spun philosophic 
abstractions. Left to themselves, the dissenters 
and sectarians would soon sweep moral reforms 
through the country and even dominate the world 
by their exceptional heroic fortitude and moral 
fervor. But over the religious life of the people 
hangs the Damoclean sword of a benighted auto- 
cracy. Not until this is swept away will there be a 
full fruition of the innate high purposes of the 
Russian peasant bogatyr. 


IF there is one thing which the present cata- 
clysmic conflict in Europe is going to teach it 
will be the lesson that universal education and cul- 
ture are not the panacea for all evils that we have 
assumed them to be until now. When Prussia in 
1717 for the first time put the secondary schools 
under State control, and still more when it in 1794 
proclaimed that no educational institution could 
be founded without the consent of the State, it was 
generally accepted as a truism that Prussia led the 
world in educational matters and that the great- 
ness of Prussia was proportionate to its interest 
and control of its schools. But if we cautiously 
examine the purposes of the Government in foster- 
ing the institutions of learning, we find that, in 
spite of the purely cultural effects which the very 
thorough educational institutions have had, the in- 
tent has been to put education under the control of 
the State only for its own advantage, and not for 
the unselfish development of individual powers. 
Every advance in the great system of German 
schools was conditioned by political causes. Com- 
pulsory education was first made absolute after 


The Intellectuals and the People 143 

the disaster of Jena, and the revolutionary move- 
ment of 1848 was no sooner crushed than all 
teachers were declared to be civil servants, thus 
virtually becoming bureaucratic officers of the 
State. Again, after the Franco-Prussian war, in 
1872, Prussia emphasized once more the absolute 
right of the State to control all its schools. 

German philosophers and schoolmen have been 
busy expounding to the world the superiority of in- 
tellectual Germany to any other country, because 
of the thorough-going methods employed by it in 
the education of the masses. Their conviction 
was, no doubt, honest so long as the political and 
industrial progress of Germany followed its edu- 
cational concentration and thoroughness. But the 
uniformity of method and curriculum and the per- 
sistent, all-absorbing drill have deprived the na- 
tion of individual initiative and have made the 
Germans the most docile of slaves of the intellec- 
tual and political hierarchy. The State fosters 
the highest culture, and the representatives of 
culture slave for the glory of the State, — this is 
the magic circle in which the German mind moves. 
This interaction of State and culture has produced 
a splendid shell, of which the kernel is atrophied. 
The personal will is gone, and its owner is a pli- 
able instrument in the hands of the powers that 
be. Moral honesty has no meaning when it does 
not serve the immediate purposes of the State, 
and even theologians twist their consciences so as 

144 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

to bring them in line with acts that lead ad ma- 
jorem Germaniae gloriam. The highest achieve- 
ments of the intellect do not react upon the moral 
side of man, and they are the higher in propor- 
tion as they remain mere toys of the intellect. 
Hence the philosophic abstractions have the great- 
est charm for the Germans. The great moral up- 
heavals that agitate the outside world touch them 
but lightly. They, too, lucubrate over social re- 
forms and greater democracies, but their political 
enthusiasm is rarely roused outside of medieval 
potations. They know the laws of Christian 
morals, but in the interest of the State that needs 
a warlike spirit they cling to the duel as a pastime 
for gentlemen. Modernism and medievalism, the 
highest external culture and a comatose morality 
are coexistent, and in no way exclude one another. 
Both are produced by the same splendid educa- 
tional system. 

No one can deny the intellectual accomplish- 
ments of Germany in the Nineteenth Century, and 
Russia, even more than any other country, owes its 
intellectualism to German science and philosophy. 
But the Russians have consistently declined to 
practise mental rope-walking, and have invariably 
applied the dicta of German science towards a 
strengthening of their moral fiber and the asser- 
tion of individual liberty. Every borrowing from 
abroad has immediately intensified the literary 
activity, because here, and not in scientific abstrac- 

The Intellectuals and the People 145 

tions, did the nation learn of its moral needs and 
social problems. Russian literature is not only ex- 
ceedingly individualistic, but also profoundly re- 
ligious in its tenor. It voices the national revolt 
against the tyranny of tradition and it tries to 
give an answer to the religious promptings. One- 
sided critics have, on the one hand, pronounced it 
to be a literature of nihilism, anarchy, negation, 
and, on the other, a literature of pity. It is both 
and a great deal more. It is a true mirror of the 
native soul. If every other monument of the na- 
tion's life would disappear it would still be pos- 
sible to reconstruct minutely the intellectual and 
moral tendencies of Russia in the Nineteenth Cen- 
tury from its belles lettres alone. There is not 
one step in its development that is not directly in- 
fluenced by some German philosophic system, yet 
how vastly different the results are. Magna 
Graecia produced the great men who developed 
their activity in Greece, and Germany has found a 
fruition of its philosophies in Russia, because the 
philosophic abstractions had there a better chance 
to become concreted. This process was there 
made possible because of the absence of a perfect 
school system. 

Education is not the undivided blessing that it is 
supposed to be. It is necessary for the advance- 
ment of life, and there will always exist a class of 
society that is the keeper of the best that the intel- 
lect has produced. But there are moments in a 

146 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

nation's life when mere academic education may 
become very dangerous. Last year the uni- 
versity's billboard at Munich cautioned the stu- 
dents that there would be no use for the next ten 
years to take the teachers' examination, because 
the waiting list provided for possible vacancies for 
the next twenty years. What is to become of the 
hundreds of educated men for whom no corre- 
sponding positions can be found? They soon 
form an intellectual proletariat, in Germany as in 
Bengal and in Russia, and an intellectual prole- 
tariat always furnishes the chief elements of a 
revolution. How if one of the latent causes of the 
present war is this necessity of thinning the ranks 
of the dissatisfied? This possibility is not at all 
excluded. Youthful as Russia is, it has already 
had a surfeit of educated men without any outlook 
in life, not because there is no need of well-trained 
men, but because mere college culture does pro- 
vide the practical information which the country 
is as yet able to put to good use. The Govern- 
ment sees this clearly and has of late discouraged 
the universities and is devoting its energies to the 
development of purely professional schools, poly- 
technics, agricultural, mining schools, etc. It can- 
not be denied that the Government has been 
grossly negligent of the people's primary educa- 
tion, but it is almost fortunate that the popular 
instruction has not heretofore been carried on on 
a large scale, because the nation has escaped the 

The Intellectuals and the People 147 

blighting influence of that moral attrition which is 
obviously the result of the German compulsory 

Because of the comparatively high and essen- 
tially individualistic culture of a small minority on 
the one side and the almost complete absence of 
schooling on the part of the many millions of peas- 
ants, the Eussian nation is cleft into two distinct 
elements, respectively denominated as the intel- 
lectuals, Intelligentsiya, and the people, Narod. 
Though the second, through education, may pass 
into the first, the two classes of society have their 
distinct interests and purposes. The reforms of 
Peter the Great created the two great divisions, 
which in the Eighteenth Century grew further and 
further apart. The upper classes were busy imi- 
tating and adapting Western manners and educa- 
tion, which only accentuated the distance between 
them and the unlettered masses, for whom the re- 
forms had no meaning. The peasants and the old 
merchant class persisted in the habits and ideas of 
the period before Peter, while the intellectuals ac- 
quired, at first the vices, and later the refinement 
of the Westerners. There were practically two 
nations in Russia, and even then the shrewd ob- 
server Shcherbatov complained that the Em- 
peror's enactments had weakened the native vir- 
tues, because flattery, voluptuousness and selfish- 
ness actuated those who wanted to please the 
court, while the common men lost their religious 

148 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

faith, without getting anything in its place. Even 
though at the end of the century Kadishchev 
pointed out the abyss which lay between educated 
society and the inert masses, the time was not ripe 
for any rapprochement between the two, and they 
went on developing, each in its own way. It is 
only in the Nineteenth Century that the intellec- 
tuals first became conscious of their social duties 
and groped for an understanding of the classes 
below them. The Nineteenth Century is charac- 
terized by a feverish activity to restore the equi- 
librium between the intellectuals and the people 
which Peter the Great had disturbed by his violent 
Europeanization of Russia. 

The American and French Revolutions did not 
entirely pass unnoticed in Russia. Young men 
dreamt of the possibility of a republic or at least a 
constitutional form of government, and lightly dis- 
cussed such a possibility in various literary socie- 
ties which then existed in Russia. Then came the 
Napoleonic invasion, and after Napoleon's defeat 
a large number of Russian officers had an oppor- 
tunity in the West, especially in Paris, to convince 
themselves of the superiority of Western culture. 
Upon their return they devoted themselves with 
greater zeal to the propagation of their democratic 
ideals, and when Alexander I died, they seized the 
chance during the brief interregnum to start a 
revolution. The effort was foredoomed, for a 
handful of young officers could not count on an 

The Intellectuals and the People 149 

ignorant, though perfectly willing soldiery. 
When asked to shout for la Constitution, the sol- 
diers wanted to know what the name of her Royal 
Husband was. The uprising was nipped in the 
bud, and the flower of Russia's youth was exiled to 
Siberia or paid the death penalty. A few years 
before this historic incident the poet Griboyedov 
immortalized the noble but futile tendencies of the 
nascent democracy in the character of Chatski, in 
his drama Intelligence Comes to Grief. Chatski 
harangues against the subserviency, immorality, 
arrogance of courtiers and officials, and while he 
opposes to the negative sides of contemporaneous 
life the positive impressions which he has had in 
his foreign travels, he in reality does not accom- 
plish much because, as the title indicates, too 
much intelligence was at that time not yet a fortu- 
nate asset. Society, none the less eagerly de- 
voured the drama, which circulated in hundreds of 
manuscript copies, on account of its biting satire 
against the prevailing order and on account of the 
hope which it held out for better things. 

Ten years later the critic Byelinski condemned 
Griboyedov 's tendencies, under the influence of 
Hegel's philosophy which then held sway in Rus- 
sia. Hegel's formula about the reasonableness of 
everything in existence fell on willing ears, for 
after the unsuccessful attempt of the Decembrists 
a reaction naturally set in, and with characteristic 
native repugnance for collective action, which we 

150 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

shall meet again and again, Byelinski about this 
time wrote with full conviction, ''Only in philoso- 
phy will you find answers to the questions of your 
soul, — only philosophy will give peace and har- 
mony to your soul. Above all, leave politics alone 
and avoid all political influence upon your manner 
of thinking. Politics has no meaning for us in 
Eussia, and only empty heads can busy themselves 
with it. Love what is good and then you will cer- 
tainly be useful to your country, without any at- 
tempt in that direction. If every individual in 
Eussia would reach perfection by means of love, 
then Eussia would become the most fortunate 
country in the world without any politics." 

Byelinski thus well summarized the inherent de- 
sire for individual perfection, which forms the 
fundamental characteristic of all the strong heroes 
in the Eussian novel, and which Tolstoy later 
raised to a dogma of religion. But the suspicion 
cast upon every outward manifestation of this 
goodness not only causes these heroes to look awry 
at any concerted political action, but also fills them 
with misgivings lest their visible good acts might 
be interpreted as mere specious ostentation. Be- 
sides, self-perfection is limitless in possibilities, 
and the goal is never reached. Hence all the 
heroes of the Eussian novel suffer from the same 
shyness and vacillation, and their acts are seldom 
in keeping with their high purposes. Even in the 
first hero in the Eussian novel, Evgeni Onyegin, in 

The Intellectuals and the People 151 

Pushkin's poem of the same name, which was writ- 
ten ten years before the appearance of Byelinski's 
criticism of Griboyedov, we find the negative sides 
of Russian society boldly brought to the front. 
Onyegin leads a useless existence. He finds no 
satisfaction in active work, and although he is 
ready to meet the rising question of his relation to 
the peasants by lightening their corvee, he does 
not do more than merely assuage his immediate 
pricks of conscience. He is a "supernumerary," 
a man for whom there is no organic place in the 
state. Lermontov's Pechorin, in his Hero of Our 
Time, has just such a useless existence, but he has 
higher aspirations than Onyegin. He tries to 
solve the irritating questions that torment him, 
and he lays bare the faults of his soul with unspar- 
ing candor. The doubts that agitated the intellec- 
tuals at the end of the '20 's are well expressed in 
Pechorin's own confession: "From the storm of 
life I have carried away but a few ideas and not 
one feeling. I have long ceased living with my 
heart, — I live only with my head. I weigh, ana- 
lyze my own passions and acts with stern curi- 
osity, but without sympathy. There are two men 
in me : one lives in the full meaning of the word, 
the other reasons and judges him." 

In the first third of the Nineteenth Century the 
intellectual forces were chiefly recruited from the 
upper nobility. The young men nearly all entered 
the military service, and their lives moved in the 

152 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

inane circles where, indeed, their aspirations were 
smothered, and the Childe Harold attitude was 
only natural. The '40 's no longer put forward the 
useless heroes. There was a real desire to do 
something, although the goal of accomplishments 
was still as far as ever from their reach. The in- 
tellectuals had now their accessions from the 
lower nobility, and even the burgher class might 
occasionally be found represented among them. 
The form of public opinion now shifted from the 
salons to the intimate circles, where the best minds 
sharpened their wits in endless discussions, al- 
though, like their predecessors, they lacked initi- 
ative and seldom made their words good. But 
they were all animated by the purest intentions 
and the highest idealism, which was directed to the 
one absorbing question : the Russian nation. The 
advancement of the people along the best lines 
formed the constant subject of discussion, and 
starting with the same premises the circles were 
split into those of the Westerners, who wished to 
see the progress of their country in a greater ap- 
proximation to the more cultural West, and into 
those of the Slavophiles, who believed that Peter 
the Great had failed in his purpose of reform, be- 
cause he had violently interrupted the natural 
process of advancement by superimposing upon 
Russia a foreign civilization. 

The Slavophiles started with the same philo- 
sophic premises as the Westerners. In the '20 's 

The Intellectuals and the People 153 

a small circle of enthusiasts formed philosophic 
clubs, for the purpose of discussing the best philo- 
sophic system for the country. A decade later 
these young men, under the guidance of Kiryeev- 
ski, fell under the influence of the mystic teachings 
of a monk who had just returned from Mount 
Athos. Kiryeevski opposed to the Western form 
of philosophy, which to him was but an evolution 
of scholasticism, the Christian mysticism of the 
Eastern Church, and this latter was to give him 
a basis for a nationalistic program. In the be- 
ginning of the '40 's the brilliant activity of the 
publicist Herzen and the critic Byelinski, which 
was exerted on the side of a greater approach to 
the West, compelled the younger Slavophiles to 
entrench themselves into some other philosophy 
than that of Hegel, which was the battle-ground 
of the Westerners. They chose to fall back on 
Schelling's positive ideas. At first the two par- 
ties met amicably in the parlors of certain patrons 
of culture, in order to oppose each other with 
dialectic fireworks. But after 1844 the two 
groups assumed a hostile attitude toward one an- 

The Slavophiles raised the banner of Ortho- 
doxy, autocracy and nationality, but in the be- 
ginning this trinity did not represent such a vio- 
lent opposition to the tenets of the Westerners 
as it was later. Under Orthodoxy they under- 
stood a development of the mystical Christianity 

154 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

which might have landed them among the "spir- 
itual" sectarians. The autocracy they consid- 
ered as necessary only in so far as it saved the 
nation from busying itself with politics, while the 
nation was to develop itself from within without 
interference of the Government They declared it 
to be an advantage to Russia that it had not come 
under the influence of the Roman culture, but had 
received its religious inspiration direct from the 
East. Hence it was the problem of the intellec- 
tuals to restore to the masses that immediacy with 
primitive Christianity which had been interrupted 
by Peter's reforms, and science and art should 
be evolved from the rich endowment of the na- 
tive genius. The Revolutionary movement of 
1848 in Austria brought also the Panslavist ten- 
dencies within the range of the Slavophile move- 
ment. They hoped that with the dismemberment 
of the Austrian Empire the Slavs would come into 
their own, and that they should be cautioned 
against a hasty acceptance of Western culture. 
But the Panslavist agitation never went beyond 
an expression of sympathy for the Orthodox 
brethren of the South, while it at once roused 
the suspicion of the Russian Government, and the 
Slavophiles were subjected to many annoyances. 
The native costumes and long beards, which the 
enthusiasts affected as a visible sign of their re- 
turn to pre-Petrine civilization, were prohibited, 
and several of the more active members of the or- 

The Intellectuals and the People 155 

ganization were imprisoned, because they were 
suspected of democratic activities. Meanwhile 
the Government seized upon the idea of Ortho- 
doxy, autocracy and nationality as especially suit- 
able for its own purposes, and the Moscow Slav- 
ophiles unthinkingly modified their liberal ideas in 
the direction of an abject reaction. 

Though the attempt to bring the country back 
to antiquity was doomed to failure, it cannot be 
said that the Slavophile movement was totally use- 
less. Even the Westerners learned to be more 
considerate for the popular element in life and 
thought, and some of the greatest of Russian au- 
thors, such as Dostoevski and Tolstoy, show dis- 
tinctly the beneficent effect of a closer union with 
the people. Turgenev, an outspoken Westerner, 
became disgusted with the inane haranguing of 
those who preached an unconditional merging with 
the culture of the rest of Europe, and even created 
a more positive hero from the Slavophile camp. 
Two of his novels deal with the intellectual move- 
ment in the forties, Rudin and A Nest of Noble- 
men. The first deals with a typical hero of his 
own camp, while in the second he typified the 
Slavophiles in the person of Lavretski. Of the 
latter novel Turgenev himself said: "I am a 
rabid, incorrigible Westerner, and I have never 
made a secret of it; yet, in spite of it, it has 
given me especial pleasure to bring out in the per- 
son of Panshin all the comical and contemptible 

156 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

sides of the Western movement and to let the 
Slavophile Lavretski beat him on all points. Why- 
have I done so, since I consider the Slavophile 
teaching to be false and fruitless? Because in 
the given case life actually developed in this man- 
ner, as I understood it, and I wanted above all 
to be sincere and fair." Turgenev could not help 
observing that those who wanted to be considered 
refined Europeans were none the less actuated 
by a native inertness which paralyzed their en- 
deavors and ultimately relegated them to the fatal 
passivity so aptly described by Goncharov in his 
novel Oblomov. 

The Slavophiles, at least, strove to put them- 
selves in touch with the people, to comprehend 
their actions without the blighting criticism of a 
supercilious superior culture. Indeed, they had 
discovered the characteristically Eussian village 
commune, the Mir, and they were studying the 
peasant folklore. They were the mediators be- 
tween the intellectuals and the people, and they 
prepared the road for that intensive interest in the 
lower classes which in the '60 's found its ex- 
pression in the literary activities of the Populists 
or Narodniks. 

The term Narodniks did not come into use until 
the 70 's, but the preoccupation with the peasant 
dates from the '50 's, when the academic discus- 
sions about the emancipation assumed a serious 
aspect. The emancipation of the year 1861 was 

The Intellectuals and the People 157 

the result of an awakened consciousness of the 
injustice of serfdom, as prepared by the Slavo- 
philes and the rising democratic sentiment. The 
intellectuals no longer represented the upper 
classes, as in the '20 's and '30 's, but were a hete- 
rogeneous mass, with a sprinkling from the mer- 
chant and peasant classes. They naturally stood 
nearer to the people than their predecessors, and 
the democratic movements of the West found a 
strong echo in them. But it was not easy to over- 
come the traditional contempt for the slave, and 
an approximation between the educated and un- 
educated was exceedingly difficult, because of the 
totally different psychology of those trained in 
"Western thought and those thoughtlessly cling- 
ing to the soil. The appearance of Uncle Tom's 
Cabin in Eussian brought about a series of 
sketches dealing with peasant life, especially those 
by Turgenev, and the Government soon felt itself 
obliged to take notice of the overwhelming popu- 
lar sentiment in favor of the freeing of the serfs. 
In 1856 Emperor Alexander II, addressing the 
Moscow nobility in regard to the serfdom, said: 
"It is better to abolish serfdom from above than 
to wait for the time when it will begin to be abol- 
ished from below. ' ' The Emancipation was a pre- 
ventive measure, so far as the Emperor was con- 
cerned, in order to ward off the coming Revolu- 
tion. This is best proved by the activities of the 
year 1861 and 1862. 

158 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

No sooner had the half measure, known as the 
Emancipation, been proclaimed, when the Revolu- 
tionary party began to stir. Mikhaylov issued his 
proclamation to the young generation in which he 
expressed the nation's disappointment in the Gov- 
ernment's act: "When the manifesto was ready 
and all but promulgated, the Russian Govern- 
ment first of all lost heart: it was afraid of its own 
work, — what if all Russia should rise in rebel- 
lion 1 ? If the people should march against the 
Winter Palace? So they determined to proclaim 
freedom to the people in Lent, while the booths 
for the Butterweek were carried as far away from 
the palace as possible. ... If the Government 
was afraid of the people, it had good reason to 
be. In the first place, the Tsar has deceived the 
expectation of the nation by giving it a different 
kind of freedom from what it dreamed of and 
needed. In the second place, he deprived it of 
its joy by promulgating it at Lent and not on 
February 19. In the third place, by organizing 
commissions to compose and discuss the project 
the Tsar has shown his utter contempt to the 
whole nation and to the best, that is, the most 
cultured, honest and capable, part of Russian so- 
ciety, the National Party: everything was done 
in the deepest secret; the question was settled by 
the Tsar and the landed proprietors; no one in 
the nation took part in the work, the periodicals 
did not dare to utter a sound, — the Tsar gave the 

The Intellectuals and the People 159 

people their freedom, as a favor, just as one throws 
a dry bone to a growling dog, in order to soothe 
him for a while and save one's calves." 

Persecutions and violence of every kind had 
been practised by the Government for some years 
past, but the year 1861 is extraordinary for its 
many disturbances, showing conclusively that the 
Emancipation was merely a preventive measure, 
in order to choke the efforts of the Nationalists, 
who issued proclamation after proclamation to the 
soldiers, the peasants, the youths, the people. In 
many districts the peasants revolted after the 
Emancipation, and the Poles broke out in open 
rebellion. The University of St. Petersburg was 
closed, and a large number of men were arrested 
and exiled to Siberia by the well-prepared Gov- 
ernment. Even the nobility was dissatisfied with 
the Emancipation and demanded a larger share 
of freedom for the people. The secret printing 
offices of the National Party, founded in 1861, 
continued their activity the next year, and the 
Government answered with more persecutions and 

The program of the Eevolutionists was a mix- 
ture of moderate republican and extravagant so- 
cial-democratic principles. It demanded the for- 
mation of a republican federation, with the ag- 
ricultural community as a unit. There were to 
be no vested rights in the land, and private prop- 
erty would revert to the State at death. Na- 

160 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

tional and District Councils would approximately 
carry on the same functions as the American Na- 
tional and State Legislatures. Children were to 
be educated at the expense of the State, and the 
feeble and old were to be taken care of in a sim- 
ilar way. Poland and Lithuania were promised 
their full freedom, and every district was to de- 
termine by popular vote whether it wanted to en- 
ter into the federation. Women were to be made 
absolutely free, and marriage was to be abolished, 
as in the highest degree immoral and absurd in 
a state of equality of the sexes, hence, too, the 
family should cease to exist, as incompatible with 
the abolition of inheritance. 

To carry this program into effect, the Revo- 
lutionists counted on the cooperation of the peo- 
ple, especially the Old Believers, and upon the 
army, but especially upon the educated youths. 
Noble as their purposes were, the movement was 
doomed to failure from the start, even if the Gov- 
ernment had allowed the propaganda to go on. 
But for a few isolated cases, the soldiers could not 
be depended upon for any support in so extreme 
a political agitation, while the Old Believers could 
certainly not have subscribed to the encroach- 
ments upon the family. There were only left the 
inflammable young men, who had been going into 
the direction of materialism under the prevailing 
influence of the German materialistic writers 
Moleschott and Buechner. Turgenev has given us 

The Intellectuals and the People 161 

the type of the Nihilist Bazarov, as a representa- 
tive of the very earnest, but unlovable material- 
ists of the '60 's, who wanted to destroy, before it 
was possible to think of building up again. How- 
ever, the Nihilists of the '60 's were vastly su- 
perior to the dreamers of the '40 's. They had 
definite aims before them, and their interest in 
the people was more immediate, if still incor- 
rectly posited. 

The intellectuals no longer stood aloof from 
the masses, for whom they professed to develop 
their activities. Thus, already in 1860 the first 
Sunday schools were opened, that is, schools for 
the instruction of the peasants who had no other 
chance of getting an education. It became ever 
clearer to the Revolutionary intellectuals that it 
was necessary for them to push their propaganda 
actively among the masses, chiefly by means of 
schools and libraries, if they were to accomplish 
an overturn of the Government. This was 
brought out in the condemnation of Karakozov, 
who in 1866 made an attempt upon the life of 
Alexander II. Soon after, the Revolutionists 
abroad openly declared that their program was 
based on the demands of atheism and material- 
ism, and that it had in view the social amelioration 
of the masses, without and reference to the po- 
litical fate of Russia. They recognized the fact 
that in Russia the distance between the intellec- 
tuals and the people was too great to make a 

162 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

revolution successful without first getting into 
closer contact with the masses. Hence they 
preached the necessity of going among the peo- 
ple. In 1874 this part of the program was in 
full force: the intellectuals worked as common 
laborers in factories or established themselves as 
shoemakers, joiners, village teachers, in order to 
carry on their revolutionary and educational 
work more vigorously. This widespread agita- 
tion ended as abortively as the preceding one. 
The Government ferreted it out through its spies, 
and 770 persons were arrested and severely 
treated, a large number being sentenced to hard 
labor in Siberia. But the stupidity of the Gov- 
ernment in subjecting well-meaning, even though 
extreme, enthusiasts to indignities not even prac- 
tised on common criminals, had the usual opposite 
effect, — in place of the pacific Narodniks, the rem- 
nants of the propagandists banded themselves to- 
gether into the sinister Terrorist organization. 

The active propagandists of the early '70 's 
could hardly muster more than two or three thou- 
sand members, though the sympathizers among 
the Liberal elements of society may have num- 
bered several millions. However restricted the 
organized body of the Narodniks was, the phe- 
nomenon was not due alone to the initiative of 
the socialistic Internationale which served it as 
a model, but to the specifically Russian tendency 

The Intellectuals and the People 163 

to carry conviction to its logical conclusion. 
Though the men who went among the people 
claimed to be actuated by atheistic and material- 
istic principles, they in reality were noble, self- 
sacrificing, deeply religious idealists. In the 
West the Socialists have mainly appealed to the 
selfish instincts of the workingmen, as against 
the selfish and arrogant attitude of the upper 
classes, in their attempts to bring the propaganda 
to a happy issue, and have generally considered 
the ballot as the proper means of gaining a pre- 
ponderating influence in the state. The Socialist 
movement has there been exclusively a movement 
of and for the industrial workers. Naturally the 
absence of universal suffrage and the weakness 
of the industrial life in Kussia made the Western 
type of socialism an impossibility. Hence it was 
turned at once into an agricultural reform, to be 
obtained ultimately by revolutionary methods. 
Materialistic though the basic principles of their 
actions were supposed to be, the intellectuals were 
sacrificing themselves, not for the ends which they 
personally were to obtain, but really for the good 
of the masses. In fact, the program of the Narod- 
niks never made it clear what was to become of 
the intellectuals in the new state, and there did 
not even seem to be any place left for them. 
They were doing unto others far beyond what 
they ever could expect the others to do unto them. 

164 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

They had the faith and fervor of Christian mar- 
tyrs, and a future free Russia will count them 
among her saints. 

Toward the end of the '70's all the Socialistic 
factions were not only primarily revolutionary, 
but did not even recognize any other mode of 
procedure. After the terrible repressions prac- 
tised by the Government in 1877, the members of 
the society Land and Freedom replied with the 
assassinations of Chief of the Gendarmerie 
Mezentsev and Prince Kropotkin and similar at- 
tempts upon members of the Secret Police. The 
organization thus became terroristic. While 
still clinging to the Socialist program, the precise 
form it would take in Russia was left to a future 
time. All that was considered important was to 
put the agrarian question in place of the indus- 
trial question of the industrial Western countries, 
hence the motto — Land and Freedom. The Ter- 
rorists of the society were thoroughly organized 
into an administrative division which had in hand 
the whole movement, provided its members with 
false passports, etc.; the Propagandist groups, 
which carried on their work respectively among 
the intellectual youths, the laborers and the peas- 
ants; the Disorganizing Group, the Terrorists in 
the narrower sense, whose chief activity consisted 
in the liberation of members under arrest and 
their defense against Government persecution, as 
also the ferreting out and killing of spies within 

The Intellectuals and the People 165 

the organization. Two years later Land and 
Freedom divided up into the Popular Will and 
The Black Assignment, that is, the Land. 

The first party considered the popular will as 
the determining factor in the coming Revolution, 
hence their chief aim was to "take the power 
away from the existing Government and to turn 
it over to a Constitutional Assembly, which is to 
examine all our political and social institutions 
and reorganize them in conformity with the in- 
structions of its electors." While willing to abide 
by moderate constitutional measures, the party 
none the less drew up a program which, like the 
previous ones, demanded greater territorial rights, 
the preservation of the village commune and the 
agricultural units, absolute freedom of con- 
science, speech, printing, meetings, associations 
and elective agitations, universal unlimited suf- 
frage, and the substitution of a territorial for the 
permanent army. The propaganda was to be 
carried on, constructively, by means of persistent 
educational agitations preparing the various 
classes for the democratic political revolution, 
and by means of a destructive and terroristic ac- 
tivity. The latter should consist in the assassina- 
tion of influential members of the Government, 
etc., as carried on by the original organization 
of Land and Freedom. The new party still rec- 
ognized its direct relation to the peasant, and so 
the main propaganda was to be carried on in the 

166 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

village. The heart of the organization was the 
Executive Committee, which maintained secret 
circles in the army and among workmen, who now 
for the first time were drawn in more directly into 
the general conception of the "people." 

On March 1, 1881, Emperor Alexander II was 
killed by the Socialists, and the Executive Com- 
mittee issued an appeal to Alexander III, asking 
for nothing more than a constitution, in order to 
avert future assassinations. It is characteristic 
of the very moderate aims of the Popular Will 
that, when the same year Garfield was assassi- 
nated by Guiteau, the Executive Committee issued 
the following statement to the world: " While 
expressing to the American nation its deep sym- 
pathy on the occasion of the death of President 
James Abraham Garfield, the Executive Commit- 
tee considers it a duty to issue, in the name of 
the Russian Revolutionists, its protest against 
such violent measures as the attempt by Guiteau. 
In a country where personal liberty offers an op- 
portunity for an honest struggle of ideas, where 
a free popular will determines not only the law, 
but also the personality of its representatives, 
political assassination, as a means of struggle, 
is an expression of the same spirit of despotism 
as the one which we consider it our problem to 
destroy. The despotism of the individual and the 
despotism of a party are equally prejudicial, and 

The Intellectuals and the People 167 

violence is justified only when it is directed 
against violence." 

It is obvious from this profession of faith that 
in any constitutional country, especially in the 
United States, the members of the Popular Will 
would not have risen above impassioned speeches 
in favor of constitutional rights, while in Eussia 
the senseless brutality of a reactionary Govern- 
ment drove them to the heroic activity of a Bru- 
tus, a "Wilhelm Tell, whom humanity holds in high 
esteem as liberators from tyranny and absolut- 
ism. But if violence justifies violence, it is not 
surprising if the Government in its turn used 
violence against violence, and a number of the 
Kevolutionists were exiled, tortured, hanged and 
shot. No Government which is entrenched in di- 
vine rights and autocracy would have acted other- 
wise, and it would not be fair to accuse the Tsar's 
ministers of unusual bloodthirstiness. Not even 
a constitutional regime would for a minute have 
allowed a small band of men to try to impose a 
socialistic structure of society upon the unwill- 
ing and unprepared masses. In spite of our sym- 
pathies for the people and reforms, we cannot 
be blinded by the protestations of the people's 
party that virtue was all on their side and sav- 
agery and vice on that of the Government. Even 
the remnants of the original Revolutionary or- 
ganizations, including the author of the funda- 

168 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

mental work on the Kussian Revolutionary move- 
ment, Burtsev, recognize the fact that what is 
saving Russia to-day from being swamped by the 
present German peril is the survival of the Gov- 
ernment as a strong arm of the people. Were 
it not for its strength, the present war would 
long have been decided in favor of Germany. 
The only accusation which is justified against the 
Government in the Nineteenth Century is that it 
has been exceptionally stupid in not taking ad- 
vantage of the popular unrest in the direction of 
strengthening itself with the people. Had the 
Government honestly given the nation constitu- 
tional guarantees, the gainers would not have 
been the slim socialistic minority, but the Gov- 
ernment itself around which the masses would 
have gathered in strength, to save themselves 
from the tyranny of industrial Socialism. 

This was clearly understood by the party of 
the Black Assignment. The masses, they as- 
serted, were much more interested in the land 
question than in political freedom. Indeed, they 
did not find it difficult to combine the liberation 
of the soil with the existence of an autocratic 
Government. It would be the purpose of the 
party to disillusion the masses in this respect 
and to inaugurate an agrarian revolution from 
below. The Revolutionary Narodniks must work 
exclusively on the basis of the current collectivist 
tendencies of the peasant commune, hence in Rus- 

The Intellectuals and the People 169 

sia only so much of the Socialist program should 
be in force as deals with the village commune 
and the artel organization of popular industry. 
The constitutional ideas included in the program 
they considered as favoring only the bourgeoisie 
and even likely to retard the success of the ag- 
rarian Revolution. The nobility, the nascent 
bourgeoisie, the literary and learned classes did 
not yet possess any independent existence in the 
country and were more likely to lean on the Gov- 
ernment and be helpful to it. Thus there were 
left the youthful intellectuals to carry on the 
Revolution by means of terrorism. The result 
was doubtful at best. Hence, as much as the po- 
litical reform was desirable, the party proposed 
to limit its activity to the agrarian revolt. At 
the same time some of the members of the Black 
Assignment living abroad wished to remain in 
closer touch with the Western phase of the So- 
cialist movement, and so confined themselves ex- 
clusively to a propaganda among the laboring 
classes in the direction of the Social-democratic 

In 1891 the Revolutionists were obliged to ac- 
knowledge the complete fiasco of their propa- 
ganda, in so far as it depended on the peasantry 
for its success. " Russia is a peasant country. 
But, in so far as we know, there does not at the 
present time exist a fraction among the Russian 
Revolutionists that seriously considers depending 

170 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

on the peasantry, that is, that works among it 
for the purpose of gaining partisans. Having 
burnt its fingers on the peasantry eighteen years 
ago, the party apparently has not the courage 
to turn to it once more." These words were writ- 
ten by Stepnyak, one of the foremost agitators of 
the '70 's and the '80 's. The old relation between 
the intellectuals and the people has now completely 
shifted. The people are no longer the peasants, 
but the working class. However, the Revolution- 
aries of the '90 's were not anxious to align them- 
selves with them exclusively as they had done 
with the peasants before. They preferred to ex- 
ert their efforts among the intellectuals them- 
selves, and for that purpose they proposed for the 
time being to keep the purely Socialistic propa- 
ganda in abeyance, as unacceptable to the ma- 
jority of the educated classes. They confessed 
that it was impossible to reconstruct the economic 
conditions by a mere revolutionary impulse, hence 
Socialism must enter upon a purely evolutionary 
phase. The social question can be solved only 
after political freedom has been obtained. 

Thus it appears from the statements of the 
former Revolutionists themselves that half a cen- 
tury of underground propaganda with its hun- 
dreds of victims and endless sacrifices had been 
wasted in vain, and at the end of the century 
society reverted to the moderate demands for con- 
stitutional rights of the middle of '50 's. Ger- 

The Intellectuals and the People 171 

man materialism and German socialism could not 
be grafted on the Eussian body politic, and the 
Socialists would have met with complete failure 
even without the senseless persecutions by the Gov- 
ernment. Had the Revolutionists by some chance 
been victorious, their regime would have been 
even more intolerable than that of the reaction- 
ary absolutism, because of its uncompromising 
adherence to the Socialist propaganda. The 
lofty enthusiasts had, indeed, displayed the char- 
acteristic virtues of the Eussian bogatyr in their 
desire to serve the oppressed, but they had erred, 
as the State and the Church had erred before 
them in that they wished to impose their will 
on the masses, instead of fostering an initiative 
among them. The reforms from above have so 
far proved utter failures in Eussia, and only such 
paternalism will be of any avail as will remove 
all retarding influences in the evolution of the pop- 
ular initiative. 

This is made once more evident in the gran- 
diose, but utterly futile Eevolutionary movements 
in the first decade of the Twentieth Century. 
Emperor Nicholas II began his reign with the 
assertion that he would consecrate all his strength 
to the preservation of the principle of autocracy 
in the same firm and imperturbable spirit in which 
his father, Alexander III, had protected it. With 
this reactionary statement there was inaugurated 
a reign of reaction and bloodthirstiness unequaled 

172 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

in the annals of history. A future Dante will 
have to create a special place in Hell for this 
latest of the Eomanovs and his minions. Alex- 
ander III wreaked his vengeance upon the stu- 
dents of the universities for the murder of his 
father by the intellectuals. Beginning with the 
year 1884 the youths were systematically de- 
prived of every human right which they enjoyed 
before. They could not form into societies of 
the most innocent kind ; they were obliged to study 
under professors foisted upon them by the Gov- 
ernment against the will of the faculties, and 
every slightest manifestation of disapproval was 
met with severe punishments. In sheer despair the 
students, in 1899, simultaneously throughout Rus- 
sia went on a strike. Strikes became among the 
intellectuals, as among the workingmen, the new 
method for a Revolutionary movement. But this 
manifestation, like all the later ones of the same 
kind, were brutally broken up by the knouts of 
the Cossacks and by wholesale banishments to 
military battalions. Thus the stupidity of the 
Crown awakened the spirit of revolution which 
the Revolutionists had declared to be a thing of 
the past but a decade before. And to fight the 
new nascent danger to the autocracy, the Tsar 
allied himself with the lowest and vilest elements 
of the city rabble, with those who are known as 
the Black Hundred and who are recruited among 
the classes bearing the English name of Hooli- 

The Intellectuals and the People 173 

gans. Never before had the Romanovs descended 
so low. With the aid of the Black Hundred the 
frightful pogroms against the Jews have been 
executed by command and with the connivance 
of the Government. This has been proved be- 
yond a shadow of a doubt. The Russian people, 
especially the peasants, know no racial and no 
religious antipathy, but the newly forming city 
rabble and the mercenary police and bureaucracy 
are ready at the behest of an obscurantist Gov- 
ernment to commit any crime in the calendar. 
This they have done without reserve, whenever 
the Tsar's henchmen thought that the time was 
ripe for a demonstration, in order to ward off 
some manifestation of the Revolution. The 
Jews were singled out for their nefarious work, 
because it was easier to do the work in a block, 
but Christian intellectuals were not spared either, 
and in one case, when a large number of the latter 
were gathered in a theater, the building was put on 
fire and all the occupants were burnt to death. 

To fight the growing danger of the labor or- 
ganizations the Government hit upon an ingeni- 
ous scheme that, however, in the end cost it 
dearly. The chief of the Moscow Secret Police, 
Subatov, started to found all kinds of labor so- 
cieties and even to initiate strikes on a large scale. 
The proprietors of the industrial institutions had 
the apparent leaders arrested by the police, and 
Subatov 's emissaries were ordered out of the 

174 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

cities where the strikes took place. But in a day 
or two they were again at their nefarious work. 
The secret police hoped in this manner to gain 
the confidence of the workingmen in order to util- 
ize them later for counter revolutions. But they 
counted without the host. In 1903 a general 
strike was declared, at first in St. Petersburg, 
and later in the Caucasus, which not only was 
directed against capitalism, but also threatened 
to become a political demonstration on a large 
scale. The workingmen were joined by the stu- 
dents and enjoyed the sympathies of all the intel- 
lectuals. The strike was as suddenly stopped 
by order of the Social-democratic party as it had 
been begun, and the Government had learned the 
valuable lesson that counter-revolutions among 
the laborers did not pay. 

The most dastardly attempt of the bureaucracy 
was attempted at the time against the Zemstvos. 
The Zemstvos had been created simultaneously 
with the emancipation of the serfs and were in- 
vested with certain moderate local autonomies, in 
order to supervise and advance the interests of 
the country districts. The Zemstvos have, with 
very few exceptions, been liberal in their political 
views, and, in spite of the most senseless oppres- 
sion from the central Government, have accom- 
plished noble results in the advancement of popu- 
lar education and hygiene. Their repeated re- 
quests for even a moderate degree of constitu- 

The Intellectuals and the People 175 

tionalism had been met with rebuffs and even 
with banishment and imprisonment. In 1903 the 
Government proposed to do away with the elec- 
toral right of the Zemstvos and to substitute ap- 
pointed officers, wherever the existing officials in- 
curred its displeasure. Whole Zemstvos resigned 
in a body, and no inducement was strong enough 
to fill the vacant places with subservient teach- 
ers, physicians, statisticians, agronomists, etc. 
Here, too, the autocracy met with a complete 
fiasco. Thus, in place of the one head of the 
Terrorist hydra there now were growing the 
three heads of the intellectuals, the workingmen 
and the Zemstvos. 

Amidst these perplexities the Japanese war 
broke out in order to further the private inter- 
ests of Grand Duke Alexis and the court cama- 
rilla. The chief cause of its failure was the fact 
that the people could not be deceived into believ- 
ing that it was in any way justified. Eevolt 
broke out in the army; the navy later mutinied; 
strikes were inaugurated on an even larger scale 
than before; the Zemstvos demanded reforms. 
With its back to the wall, the Government finally 
surrendered, and in October 1905, the Tsar issued 
a Manifesto and convoked the First Duma. Since 
that time the Government has taken precaution- 
ary measures against the recurrence of a con- 
certed action of the people, and with increasing 
courage it has broken one pledge after the other, 

176 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

until the Third Duma represents but a shadow of 
the constitutional guarantees promulgated in 1905. 

Again a Eevolutionary fiasco. Just when the 
people, wearied with endless persecutions, were 
lapsing into a period of resignation, the challenge 
given by the Hohenzollern-Hapsburgs to the 
Slavic world has reunited the various elements of 
the Russian people as nothing has since the days 
of Napoleon. We have the strange phenomenon 
that liberals exiled by the Tsar for the first time 
recognize the salutary effect of the autocratic 
Government, that the anarchist Kropotkin joy- 
fully chronicles the unanimous hatred of all the 
classes in Russia for militaristic Germany, and 
that Burtsev, an arch-enemy of the autocracy, re- 
turns to Russia and begs to be allowed to fight for 
his country against the German invader. What 
the Russian Government has been unable to do for 
one hundred years, that Germany has produced in 
a few weeks. Has the spirit of Revolutionary 
Russia changed? Have the intellectuals finally 
come to see the folly of their opposition? Will 
the laborers forget their strikes and their political 
ideals? Not in the least. As soon as the war is 
over they will all return to their animosities, if the 
Government has not meanwhile learned that it is 
better to lean upon a united people than to court 
its hatred. 

It is hardly to be believed that the Government 
will for once become wise, even though it has in- 

The Intellectuals and the People 177 

augurated a more momentous reform than the 
granting of constitutional rights by compelling 
the nation to become sober. Why then this una- 
nimity of action? Because it is perfectly clear 
that the Prussian autocracy, in case of victory, 
would be a source of far greater danger to the 
Russian nation than the brutal, but unorganized 
tyranny of the Romanovs. The unanimity of 
Germany in supporting the Emperor in the pres- 
ent war is based on the absence of every free initi- 
ative, which has been killed out by the very ef- 
ficient and civilized methods pursued by the Gov- 
ernment. Should a similar perfect system be im- 
posed upon Russia, all possibility for real liber- 
ties would vanish for a century. If Russia is vic- 
torious, it will return to the chaotic state which 
preceded the war, and the nation must ultimately 
win those individualistic liberties, which have con- 
stantly cropped out even under the most crushing 
oppression. It is doubtful whether a Revolution 
will ever accomplish this, but it is evident that the 
constitutional ideas, which in the beginning of the 
Nineteenth Century found a lodging only among 
a small band of officers and intellectuals, now are 
understood and propagated among the working- 
men and students at large, and the revolts of the 
peasants and mutinies of the soldiers of the last 
decade show that the Government's dependence 
on Hooligans and subservient minions will not 
save it from annihilation. 


NEAELY nine-tenths of the whole popula- 
tion of Eussia cultivate the soil, hence the 
present and the future of the peasantry form an 
all-absorbing subject of discussion among all the 
classes of intellectuals. When the Emancipation 
was first mooted and Turgenev in his Memoirs of 
a Hunter pointed out to an astonished reading 
public that the serfs had souls, just like any 
other human beings, the newly created enthusiasm 
found its expression in highly colored accounts of 
peasant life. Everything the peasants did was 
better than what the denizens of the cities did 
under the influence of an ill-adapted Western edu- 
cation. This attitude was fostered chiefly by the 
Slavophiles who claimed to have discovered in the 
Eussian Mir a specifically native institution based 
on communism, from which the future social in- 
stitutions would have to develop. It was found 
that in many places the peasants did not hold land 
in severalty, but that the lots were apportioned 
out for a period of times by a viva voce vote of 
the village commune. Eecent investigations of 


The Peasant 179 

the system have shown conclusively that the Mir 
had nothing whatsoever to do with a peculiar Rus- 
sian attitude toward communal ownership, but 
was imposed on the villages by the Government in 
order to secure a regular payment of the taxes. 
Since it was not easy in the Sixteenth and Seven- 
teenth Centuries to secure the revenue from the 
widely scattered peasant holdings, the Govern- 
ment hit upon the expedient of making the village 
responsible for the taxes of its component mem- 
bers. This made it imperative for the commune 
to abandon private holdings and to redistribute 
the land for cultivation, whenever the death or 
sickness of any peasant threatened to throw the 
uncultivated land as a tax-burden upon the village 
at large. Far from being a specifically Russian 
institution, the Mir is responsible for much of the 
wretchedness of the country population, and a 
Danish agronomist, who lately has subjected the 
whole question to a searching investigation, has 
shown that wherever the Mir is abandoned, the 
miserable straw-thatched huts give way to sub- 
stantial frame houses, the fields are better culti- 
vated, the fences are kept up, and the peasants be- 
come responsible and sober men. 

The Slavophiles did not trouble themselves 
about the truth in the matter. They were satis- 
fied to notice the essential difference in the forma- 
tion of the village commune in the West and in 
Russia, and to predicate from this a different 

180 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

historical development for their own country. 
The Socialists inherited from the Slavophiles the 
preconception about the socialistic element in the 
Russian agricultural life, and with blind zeal 
started to graft the characteristically industrial 
socialism of the West upon the essential agricul- 
tural country. A decade of intense propaganda 
disenchanted them, and a similar attempt made 
once more in the beginning of the Twentieth Cen- 
tury has shown that all the peasants have carried 
away from the teachings of the Socialists is the 
right to appropriate to themselves the lands of 
the landed proprietors, employing for the pur- 
pose every crime imaginable, robbery, arson, mur- 
der. The Socialists have once more learned that 
the peasantry cannot be depended upon for the re- 
alization of a purely Socialistic revolution. 

Novikov, one of the most brilliant and objective 
of Eussian publicists, has given an exceedingly 
gloomy description of the modern Russian vil- 
lage. The traveler in Russia is struck by the sad 
monotony of the scenery in the country. Miles 
of forest with tangled undergrowth are broken 
by fields of rye, also miles in extent, or by fallow 
land which has not been worked for years. In 
winter a white pall, sometimes six feet in depth, 
makes the monotony even more monotonous. The 
villages are provokingly cheerless. Miserable 
log huts are pitted on the barren ground, without 
gardens or trees to gladden the eye. In the 

The Peasant 181 

spring and fall the roads are impassable on ac- 
count of the mud; in summer the foot sinks deep 
into the dust; in the winter the carts stick in the 
snowdrifts and holes. The interior of the huts 
is equally disappointing. The one large room, 
which serves as an abode for the whole family, 
including the calf and chickens, has its space cur- 
tailed by the enormous stove. The room is al- 
ways stiflingly hot, when there is a fire in the 
oven, and in winter it is freezingly cold, when the 
fire is out. 

"Life is passed in continuous labor, with but 
a few hours of sleep, and yet the peasants sel- 
dom make both ends meet. In winter, when 
there is not enough to do at home, whole villages 
are sometimes abandoned by the men who go to 
the cities to find some occupation. The lot of the 
women is even worse than that of the men. At 
the age of five they have to take care of the 
younger members of the household, and at four- 
teen or fifteen they are marriageable, in order to 
begin lives of drudgery. Prenuptial morality is 
in many villages at a low ebb, and the married 
woman is subject to tyrannical and brutal treat- 
ment by her husband. The head of the family 
rules supreme and may refuse to issue a passport 
to any member of his household, thus compelling 
him to stay helplessly at home instead of attend- 
ing to some profitable work elsewhere. The peas- 
ants are subjected to the arbitrary power of Gov- 

182 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

eminent officials, and the efforts of the Zemstvos 
to improve the educational and hygienic condi- 
tions of the villages are generally negatived by 
the repressive measures of such officials and the 
torpid conscience of the peasants themselves. 
In spite of the Emancipation they still live in eco- 
nomic and political slavery, and their chronic 
drunkenness is but a result of that misery which 
comes in the wake of that slavery. 

"It would seem impossible to inaugurate re- 
forms among the peasants. No, it is not easy to 
move an ocean. The peasants will not under- 
stand so soon that their chief enemy is not the 
landed proprietor, with whom their immediate op- 
pression originates, but the existing order which 
supports the proprietor, and not the police which 
torments and tortures them, but those who in- 
stigate these tortures. Only the surface of the 
ocean has stirred, and not in all places at that. 
But it is impossible to continue living in this 
way. The disturbances have already begun. In 
one place they have beaten a teacher and de- 
stroyed a school; in another place they have 
whipped the pupils, and elsewhere they have 
threatened the physicians who cure them. All 
that is the result of the police activity and of the 
priests who set the peasants against the 'enemies 
of the Tsar.' Elsewhere again they have been 
beating the landed proprietors, robbing their 
barns and forests, burning their sugar plants and 

The Peasant 183 

houses. Maybe this is the activity of the peas- 
ants under the influence of a wrongly compre- 
hended propaganda. Both phenomena are be- 
coming more and more frequent. It is impossible 
to continue living that way. It seems possible that 
the people will rise and will, for the Tsar, in the 
name of the Tsar, murder the proprietors, the in- 
tellectuals and the police. Much blood will flow, 
much good and bad blood. A sea of blood will 
be spilled by the peasants in their struggle against 
the Tsar's army. Then they will understand that 
they have nothing to expect from the Tsar. To 
them will happen what has happened to the Rus- 
sian workingmen. Their faith in the Tsar will 

This was written in 1906, but the peasantry is 
as far from the expected Revolution as in the 
'80 's of the last century. The possibility of a 
successful Revolution from below is still very re- 
mote. But there is to be observed a distinct 
movement in the direction of the peasants' in- 
tellectual emancipation, and this presages a far 
more powerful revolution than the one aiming at 
mere political liberty. The Socialists had but the 
one aim in view, the attainment of a socialistic 
State by means of a revolution of the masses. 
When they convinced themselves that this could 
not be accomplished automatically, they set about 
to educate the peasants in the socialistic doctrine. 
To their surprise the peasants did not respond 

184 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

readily to their persuasive propaganda. Simi- 
larly the Russian clergy has been unable to bring 
the sectarians back to the bosom of the Church, 
in spite of the peasants' love for the Tsar and his 

There is one thing that the reformers and the 
Government constantly leave out in their zealous 
endeavors and that is the peasants' psychology. 
It never occurs to them that, in spite of the very 
low intellectual level of the masses, they are ac- 
tuated by moral and spiritual principles which 
are frequently of a higher order than the one- 
sided theoretical doctrines which they themselves 
represent. The future of Russia will not be de- 
cided by the intellectuals nor by the minions of 
the Government, but by the peasants who form a 
solid body of more than one hundred million 
people with approximately the same interests in 
life. When reformers will once come to see that 
their only hope of saving the country lies in giv- 
ing the masses that education which they them- 
selves need and want, and not that which the 
theoreticians want to foist upon them for their 
own advantages, they will lay the foundation for 
that greatness which is certainly in store for Rus- 
sia. We shall now proceed to determine the soul 
of the peasant, that is, to ascertain his intellectual 
and moral possibilities, independently from the 
economic and political conditions, which have made 

The Peasant 185 

him that apparently hopeless being as described 
by Novikov. 

In 1884 there was published in Russia a re- 
markable work, What Shall the People Read? 
which in 1889 appeared in a second enormously 
increased edition of nearly 2000 quarto pages. 
It had its origin in the experimental labors of a 
number of Sunday School teachers in the city of 
Kharkov. A Mrs. Kh. D. Alchevski set out with 
the idea of finding out from the peasants of the 
Sunday School what kind of books were especially 
adapted for the needs of the untutored masses. 
She had no preconceived ideas of what was good 
for them. She simply wanted to study the effect 
upon a large number of persons of every availa- 
ble work in the Russian language. The children 
and the grown-ups freely commented upon the 
books read and stenographic accounts of the state- 
ments were carefully transcribed, and the results 
of the investigation on the 2500 volumes analyzed 
were faithfully recorded. We are thus enabled to 
study the psychology of the peasant in an entirely 
objective way. 

The first division, dealing with books of a reli- 
gious character, is unfortunately without any value 
for our purpose, because it was under the supervi- 
sion of an Orthodox priest and was hampered 
by the obscurantist measures of the Church. It 
would have been interesting to know what the 

186 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

peasants themselves thought of the religious ideas 
represented in those hooks, but the priest con- 
sidered it wiser to tell us what his own ideas 
were. We are more fortunate with the division 
dealing with the literary productions, which es- 
caped the supervision of the Church and inciden- 
tally will bring out the moral side of the people, 
in spite of the clerical interference. The most 
popular story turned out to be Tolstoy's What 
Men Live By. The unanimous opinion was that 
it was a good story because it taught men to love 
their neighbors. The examination of the opin- 
ions on all of Tolstoy's stories leads the author 
to the following conclusion: "Everything which 
is connected with his name, everything which is 
intended by him for the school, beginning with 
the simple stories for children and ending with 
the artistic production What Men Live By, is full 
of vital truth, of that ideal simplicity which finds 
its echo in the soul of the peasant reader." 

Of foreign authors the most popular turned out 
to be Dickens, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Shake- 
speare. The analysis of Oliver Tivist is inter- 
esting in that it reveals the peculiar points in 
Dickens which appeal to the untutored mind. At 
first the book was given to the pupils in an abbre- 
viated Eussian form. "In the last hour of one 
of the Sunday School classes a considerable num- 
ber of girl students were gathered together. 
Among them were some that could read well, some 

The Peasant 187 

that had but lately entered the school, and some 
that could not read at all. They similarly dif- 
fered in age, for they were from thirteen to twenty 
years old, and two were as old as forty. The 
teacher began to read. The listeners became in- 
terested in little Oliver from the very start, where 
his presence in the orphan asylum was described, 
and silence settled down on the class. When the 
cruel treatment of the small children by the teach- 
ers in the charitable institution was read, the old- 
est of the listeners, a woman forty years of age, 
exclaimed, 'What a shame to offend poor orphans 
that way!' But when the teacher reached the 
description of the scene with the grave digger, 
where little Oliver was horribly beaten for de- 
fending the honor of his dead mother, and where 
he was later locked up in a cellar, the indigna- 
tion became universal. Both the children and the 
grown people were indignant. All were happy 
at Oliver's flight from the grave digger, for they 
did not foresee the terrible den into which he was 
to fall. Their joy was soon changed to worry 
about his future. Oliver's flight was connected 
with great danger; he might expect any moment 
to be caught; besides, he was very tired and 
hungry. Nobody offered him any aid ; no one fed 
him, and he did not even dare beg for food. In 
the villages he saw signs with inscriptions, 'Beg- 
gars are arrested here.' A sixteen-year-old girl 
was provoked by these signs, 'They do not show 

188 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

such cruelty with us, — lots of people live by alms 
here!' " 

The ecstatic attitude of the pupils lasted until 
the end of the story, and the spontaneous excla- 
mations showed how perfectly they had grasped 
the moral purpose of Dickens' work. The only 
thing which they failed to appreciate was Dick- 
ens ' humor. ' ' They wept over poor Oliver, shud- 
dered at the description of the den of thieves, 
rejoiced when they reached the happy conclusion 
of the story, but we never heard them laugh." 
When the children were given the unabbreviated 
translation, they recognized its superiority over 
the shorter tale. The same preference they 
showed to the full story of Uncle Tom's Cabin 
over the abbreviated form by Arabella Palmer. 
The artistic appreciation of the peasant is still 
more clearly brought out in the comparative study 
of Shakespeare's King Lear and its prose tales. 

A Russian abbreviation of Charles Lamb's 
story produced very little effect. A transforma- 
tion of the story under Eussian surroundings, 
Old Man Nikita and His Three Daughters, in 
which the crushing ending of Cordelia's death was 
softened in some such way as the conventional 
endings sometimes attempted on the stage, met 
with more response. Finally the classic transla- 
tion of Shakespeare's drama was doubtfully at- 
tempted before an audience consisting of daugh- 
ters of cooks and laundresses, of chambermaids 

The Peasant 189 

and seamstresses who had a little knowledge of 
reading, and of girls who had been attending the 
Sunday School for some time. 

" 'It is not in our country, — you can tell by 
the names,' were the remarks after the first pages, 
'and it is not in our time, but when there were 
knights. ' 

"The remarks proceed mostly from the right 
side, from the less developed and less trained 
girls. The more developed girls follow the read- 
ing in silence and with concentration. 

" 'It seems to me they are both false,' some- 
body ventures the statement on the right, as the 
flattering speeches of Goneril and Regan are read. 

" '0 Lord! How can they drive such a faith- 
ful servant away from the kingdom?' is the com- 
ment on the Earl of Kent. 

" 'He refuses because she has no dowry,' a girl 
explains in a subdued voice to her neighbor, when 
Cordelia's worthless fiance, the Duke of Bur- 
gundy, declines her hand. 

" 'She can't flatter,' they say sympathetically 
of Cordelia, whose part they take. 

"These brief remarks tell you that the audi- 
ence is attentively following the drama, that they 
understand the sentiments and motives which 
guide the heroes, and that they have grasped the 
conditions of the dramatis personce and their mu- 
tual relations, in spite of the foreign names which 
many do not even manage to pronounce. You 

190 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

see that tliey mix up the names of Cordelia and 
Goneril, but, what is more important, although 
they confuse the names, they recognize them by 
their speeches. 'Oh! that's the younger one talk- 
ing,' remarks one of the younger girls who has 
been mixing up the names. The girls are con- 
fused not only by the names, but also by the 
changes of scenery. Thus, for example, when the 
field gives way to a castle the audience imagines 
that Edgar is in front of the castle, and they won- 
der what will become of it. 

"The fool amuses them and calls forth their 
sympathy. His acrid speeches are generally un- 
derstood perfectly well. 'He means the king and 
his daughters,' they remark as they hear the fool's 

"The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long, 
That it had it head bit off by it young. 

"When unfortunate Lear, having been insulted 
by his elder daughter, intends to go to the second 
daughter, somebody sadly whispers, 'It seems to 
me she will do the same.' 

"The tragic situation of the unhappy old man 
takes more and more possession of the souls of 
the audience, and finally the scene in the heath 
moves them to tears. Through the repressed 
sobs which by degrees seize the whole audience 
you hear, at Lear's words: 

The Peasant 191 

' ' Poor naked wretches, wheresoe 'er you are, 
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm, 

a girl say in a trembling voice, 'That's when lie 
thinks of the poor! Want has made a different 
man of him!' 

"The tragedy is read by a young woman, the 
teacher. She makes an effort not to submit to 
the universal impression and calmly to end the 
reading of the drama, but during the scene when 
Lear awakens her voice trembles, and at Lear's 
words over Cordelia's body, 

"And my poor fool is hang'd! No, no, no life! 

sobs compress her throat, and she quietly weeps 
over the book, unable to withstand the common 
impression of the audience. For several minutes 
after the reading there is a profound silence. At 
last one of the young girls says, as though re- 
calling something, 'I read something like it, — the 
father was offended by his daughters, — only he 
was a common peasant, and his name was Nikita. 
It was good, too.' 

" 'What a comparison!' retorted a more devel- 
oped girl. 'The other story was written for peas- 
ants, while this is for gentlemen.' 

" 'This is much better,' added her companion. 
'There there is a happy ending, whereas such a 
story could never end well. ' 

192 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

" 'I read something like it in Turgenev's 
works,' remarked another of the brighter girls, 
' but I like this much better. ' 

" 'Awfully interesting!' somebody exclaimed 
on the right. 

''Nobody remembered the colorless rendering 
of Lamb's tale." 

The pupils continued to analyze the different 
characters of the drama, after which the au- 
thoress of the book came to the following con- 
clusion: "We permitted ourselves to place the 
three productions side by side, in spite of the 
abyss that separates them, because, in our opinion 
it accentuates the needlessness of rifacimenti 
from the great writers, to meet the needs of the 
masses. In this juxtaposition you see, on the one 
hand, a colorless transposition in prose, on the 
other, a rather successful adaptation to the popu- 
lar stories, and, finally, the work itself in all its 
illimitable splendor and greatness. We shall not 
deny the fact that the mediocre adaptation also 
produces a fairly strong impression upon the 
peasant readers, but, none the less, it is totally 
superfluous, because the tragedy itself takes com- 
plete possession of the people's souls and is ad- 
mirably understood by them." 

The remarkable results of the empirical method 
for the determination of the soul of the Kussian 
peasant are so perfectly in keeping with Tolstoy's 
judgment of the masses that they compel us to 

The Peasant 193 

turn to Tolstoy for a fuller analysis of the peas- 
ant's spiritual endowment. 

In his very first literary production, Childhood, 
Boyhood and Youth, Tolstoy showed his predilec- 
tion for the humble and oppressed. His ethical 
heroes are exclusively to be found among the peas- 
ant class. Here we find the nurse Natalya Sa- 
vishna who never spoke and never thought of 
herself and whose life consisted of love and self- 
sacrifice ; and more especially the saintly fool who 
expressed his religious faith in half-articulated 
words, "0 great Christian Grisha! Your faith 
was so strong that you felt the nearness of God; 
your love was so great that words flowed of their 
own will from your lips, and you did not verify 
them by reason. And what high praise you gave 
to His majesty, when, not finding any words, you 
prostrated yourself on the ground!" Of course, 
this pronounced sympathy for the lowly was due 
to the prevailing Slavophile leaning towards the 
people in the '50 's and his own Rousseauan pre- 
occupation with the ' ' natural man ' ' ; but in choos- 
ing the faithful nurse and the religious simpleton 
for his first models from the masses Tolstoy 
brought to the front the characteristic virtue of 
devotion to man and God, which we have already 
met with in the school experiment and which 
forms the basis of all of his characterizations of 
the peasant. 

In the Power of Darkness we have a terrible 

194 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

picture of the degradation of the peasant due to 
ignorance. But finally the criminal Nikita makes 
a clean breast of his misdeeds, while his half- 
witted father calls out in transport, " Speak, my 
child! Tell everything and you will feel better! 
Repent you before God, and don't be afraid of 
people ! God is the main thing, God ! ' ' It would 
only be useless repetition to count out all the ex- 
quisite pen-pictures of the simple-minded whom 
Tolstoy has delineated. We shall confine our- 
selves to Platon Karataev, who typifies the peas- 
ant soul. 

Pierre stumbled in burning Moscow on the sol- 
dier Karataev, who shared with him his last po- 
tatoes. Karataev told him the story of his life. 
He had been sent to the army for poaching in his 
master's forest. Instead of complaining of his 
fate, he expresses his implicit faith in the Lord 
for having saved his younger brother from mili- 
tary service, and having sent prosperity to his 
father while he himself was serving his country. 
As he lies down to sleep, he prays not only for 
all men, but also for the dumb brutes. At a later 
time, when he lay sick with the fever, he had no 
thought of himself, but only of the peace which 
one must make with God. To illustrate this, he 
told of the confession of a murderer. "Not the 
story itself, but its mysterious sense, that joy of 
transport which shone on Karataev 's face while 
he was telling it, the mysterious meaning of this 

The Peasant 195 

joy, was what now dimly and joyously filled 
Pierre's soul." 

During the famine of 1898 Tolstoy tried to find 
an explanation for the wretched condition of the 
peasants. He thought that it was due to a spirit 
of dejection which manifested itself in a complete 
indifference to all spiritual interests, an unwill- 
ingness to change their habits and their condi- 
tion, a contempt for agricultural labor. The 
chief cause of this dejection he found in the pa- 
ternalism of the Government which considered the 
masses as irrational beings unable to take care 
of themselves and unworthy of humane treatment. 
It is because the peasants have their religion 
thrust upon them that they carry nothing away 
from it and fatalistically submit to the inevitable. 
As soon as they tear themselves away from the 
Church they become rational and intelligent, and 
their well-being is established without any out- 
side help. Another source of depression is the 
multiplicity of officials to whom the peasants are 
subjected and the special laws which have been 
created for them, particularly the frequent re- 
course to the rod as a punishment. 

Tolstoy has admirably analyzed the causes of 
the perennial famines in Russia, and has pro- 
posed a solution which is the only one that will 
mend matters. He does not find a real famine, 
but a succession of years in which the peasants 
have been underfed. The cause of the wretched 

196 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

condition is not of a material, but a spiritual na- 
ture. External measures cannot help them: 
neither the efforts of the Ministry of Agriculture, 
nor a change in the tariff, nor the abolition of 
the Emancipation payments, nor the removal of 
duties on iron and machinery, nor even the im- 
provement of the parish schools would do them 
the least good. All those things would be useful 
only if the masses were spiritually prepared to 
take advantage of them. "It is necessary, I do 
not say to respect, but to stop despising and in- 
sulting the masses by treating them as beasts; 
it is necessary to give them freedom of belief; 
it is necessary to submit them to general, and not 
to special laws, — not to the arbitrariness of 
County Council chiefs ; it is necessary to give them 
freedom of study, freedom of reading, freedom 
of migration, and, above all, to take off that dis- 
graceful brand, which lies upon the past and the 
present reigns, — the permission to practise that 
savage torture, the flogging of adults for no other 
reason than that they belong to the peasant class." 
Given this equality before the law, the inherent 
Eussian characteristics will have a chance for de- 
velopment, such as was not given to the upper 
classes who were violently removed from their 
native surroundings into a feeble imitation of the 
West. The peasants have remained more di- 
rectly in contact with reality and have not lost 
their native simplicity and sincerity. Tolstoy 

The Peasant 197 

had attempted to educate the peasant children 
on his estate, but to his surprise he found that 
he could impart facts to them and not an attitude 
toward these facts. He convinced himself soon 
that he would have to learn the art of composi- 
tion from the children, and that he could guide 
them only in external things. Under the influ- 
ence of this discovery he wrote four Readers 
which for simplicity and directness surpassed any- 
thing done for children by professional school- 
men and literary writers. What Tolstoy found 
in the case of the children, is also true of the peas- 
ants at large. In spite of their misery, ignorance, 
inertia, they have in reserve an earnestness of 
purpose, deep religious feeling, tender hearts for 
the suffering of their fellow-men, enthusiasm for 
everything good and great, which find their fullest 
expression the moment the spiritual depression 
is lifted from them. 

The important question is how this freeing of 
the masses is to take place. The Government has 
not shown any great willingness to equalize the 
whole population before the law. The Socialists 
claim that the peasant representatives in the sec- 
ond and third Duma were overwhelmingly social- 
istic in their tendencies. But this is an illusion. 
The all-absorbing problem now before the coun- 
try is the redistribution of the land, and, as the 
Socialists have been favoring the movement, the 
peasant representatives have sided with them. 

198 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

The land question, no matter how helpful it may 
be for a time, will not bring the peasant nearer 
to a solution of his spiritual doubts. So far it 
has been religion alone that has successfully 
transformed the masses. Small as the beginning 
is, the ten or fifteen millions of Old Believers and 
sectarians have alone shown definite results in 
the direction of reform. All Russians are so in- 
dividualistic that party legislation and party rule 
has no element of constancy in it, and it will be 
equally impossible to hold the vast numbers of 
the masses together by any party discipline. Be- 
sides, the intellectuals can give the peasants many 
a material benefit, but they cannot, enrich them 
by any spiritual element, which in themselves has 
become weakened or even obliterated. It is more 
likely that in the near future the peasants, with 
their magnificent spiritual endowment, will lead 
the way in the regeneration of the nation, which 
the upper classes have, indeed, earnestly desired, 
but have been unable, on account of disastrous 
foibles, to realize in their own midst. 



THE position of women in ancient Russia was 
not unlike that which they occupy in East- 
ern countries. They were confined to the sep- 
arate apartments and were as completely in the 
power of the head of the family as were the 
children and slaves. Ostrovski has given us in 
his dramas pictures of that tyranny, as it has 
survived in the merchant class of Moscow in the 
Nineteenth Century. They are meek, submissive 
and crushed. But when they get the upper hand, 
as widows, or as the consorts of feeble, unasser- 
tive husbands, these women turn the tables and 
become indomitable tyrants, even more persistent 
and cruel in their action than the men. Turgenev 
himself suffered from the arbitrary rule of his 
termagant mother, and his aversion to serfdom 
was said to have been fostered by the brutal 
scenes which he witnessed in his own house. 
These types of women may only be found among 
the backward masses. Among the intellectuals 
they had ceased to exist after Peter's reforms, 
only to give way to a frivolous, immoral class 


200 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

of women. It is well known how that Emperor 
forced the wives of the noblemen to attend meet- 
ings at court, busily working at their knitting, 
while the men smoked and drank, because he had 
witnessed such scenes in Holland and Germany. 
Such a procedure only tore them from the old 
anchorage without giving them any resting place. 
Morals became weakened, and the whole of the 
Eighteenth Century presents nothing but corrup- 
tion and superficial refinement. Women, with 
their intrigues, ruled supreme, and the Govern- 
ment was entirely in the hands of favorites of im- 
perial mistresses. 

Even amidst this moral quagmire there rise two 
types of women who a century later become im- 
portant factors in the evolution of the national 
life, — the woman of action and the woman of 
self-sacrifice. The first is represented by Prin- 
cess Dashkov, the second by Princess Dolgoruki. 
Princess Dashkov had had unusual advantages in 
her youth. At the house of her uncle, where she 
lived, she learned to converse in four languages, 
and she frequently rummaged through the family 
archives, which gave her an insight into political 
life. She was a prodigious reader, and Bayle, 
Montesquieu, Boileau and Voltaire were her fa- 
vorite authors. She married very young, and 
at the age of twenty was left a widow, with two 
sons in her care. She went abroad, where she 
cultivated the acquaintance of scholars and 

The Influence of Women in Russia 201 

statesmen, especially that of Diderot and Vol- 
taire. When her eldest son was thirteen years 
old, she went to Edinburgh to place him in the 
university. She stayed in that city until her 
son's graduation, enjoying during the time the 
close friendship of the historian Robertson and 
other scholars. Upon her return to Russia she 
took an active part in the Revolution of 1762, 
which put her friend, Catherine II, on the throne. 
The Empress made her President of the Russian 
Academy which she had founded a few years be- 
fore. Princess Dashkov at once set out to re- 
form and enlarge it. Her first act was to give 
Euler a predominant position, which heretofore 
had been held by Stehlin, a pretentious Professor 
of Allegory. The printing press was enlarged; 
the financial condition of the institution was at 
once improved; the number of students was 
greatly increased, and the best were sent abroad 
for further study; several periodicals were pub- 
lished, and translations, especially from English, 
were encouraged by her. 

Princess Dolgoruki was the daughter of Count 
Sheremetev. She was engaged to be married 
when, at the ascension of Empress Anna, her fiance 
fell into disfavor. In order to follow him into 
exile, she married him hurriedly and immediately 
followed him on his long and disagreeable jour- 
ney. Two sons were born to her, the second just 
after her husband had been taken back to Russia 

202 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

to be executed. After her return from exile she 
devoted herself to the education of her eldest son 
and then, taking her youngest child, who had 
been born with shattered nerves, with her, she 
passed the rest of her days in a monastery. At 
the request of her son she wrote out her memoirs 
which for simplicity and straightforwardness are 
unequaled in Russian literature. Her great de- 
votion to her husband, her many sorrows, her 
self-abnegation have made her a heroine, and the 
poets Rylyeev and Kozlov have sung her virtues. 
But the finest monument to her memory is her 
own account of her experiences. 

It is a remarkable fact that the Eighteenth 
Century has given to Russian literature not less 
than seventy women. As early as 1740 Princess 
Golitsyn had translated a number of dramas from 
foreign languages for her private theater. The 
chief impulse to literary work was given by Em- 
press Catherine II, who edited journals, wrote 
comedies and personally attended to the literary 
form of the laws promulgated by her. At first 
the women wrote under assumed male names, but 
in the beginning of the Nineteenth Century they 
no longer needed to disguise their authorship. 
Indeed, they took an important part in the edu- 
cational movement, and the salons, especially that 
of Madame Elagin, became the meeting places of 
literary men. The women continued to add their 
share to the periodicals, and the Nineteenth Cen- 

The Influence of Women in Russia 203 

tury can muster more than 1200 names of women 
who have enriched Kussian letters. Among them 
Gan, Zhadovski, Marko Vovchok and few others 
have risen above mediocrity in the belles lettres 
and Bryullov, Konradi, Evreinov, but more espe- 
cially Sofia Kolalevski, have distinguished them- 
selves in the sciences. 

The important place occupied by these women 
in the intellectual development is the more sig- 
nificant, since they were given no proper school 
advantages. In the time of Catherine but one 
girl to every thirteen boys could be found in the 
schools. Matters did not improve much in the 
reigns of Alexander I and Nicholas I. Catherine 
had, at least, attempted to create "a new race" 
of men by means of her system of education, 
while Empress Marya in 1824 started to found 
schools for women on a strictly social basis. The 
daughters of the nobility were to be educated in 
separate schools, where dancing, French and 
good manners were to be the main subject of in- 
struction, while the schools for the burghers were 
of a strictly professional character. The purpose 
of these was to educate governesses for the no- 
bility. Things did not mend until the year 1860, 
when Prince Oldenburg, who was then in charge 
of the education for women, strengthened the 
study of Russian and introduced several other 
useful reforms. He also founded the female 
Gymnasia, which were formed on the basis of 

204 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

those existing for boys. These open schools had 
also a beneficent effect upon the closed schools of 
the nobility, for they were obliged to widen their 
own programs. 

At the same time women were allowed to attend 
lectures in the universities, but in 1863 the vari- 
ous faculties still refused to grant them diplomas, 
although the universities of Kharkov and Kiev 
were willing to open their doors to women on 
equal rights with the men. As the Ministry of 
Education did not do anything for them, in con- 
sequence of the negative attitude of the institu- 
tions of learning, they flocked in large numbers 
to foreign institutions. The agitation, for the 
higher education did not stop among the Eussian 
women, but all they could obtain in 1870 was the 
opening of public lectures. Two years later pub- 
lic opinion was able to force the professors of 
the University of Moscow to establish an insti- 
tution with a two years' course, later increased to 
three years. In 1882 this institution, together 
with another established about the same time, 
offered complete university courses in the sciences 
and in literature. A similar development took 
place with the public courses in Kazan and Kiev, 
but in the latter city the university had to be 
closed in 1886 on account of a decided falling off 
of the number of students. In order to stop the 
alarming exodus of young women to the univer- 
sities in the west of Europe, the Ministry of Edu- 

The Influence of Women in Russia 205 

cation established in 1881 a more thorough uni- 
versity at St. Petersburg, in which the professors 
of the university for men offered advanced 
courses in the arts and letters. In 1886 this uni- 
versity was closed, nominally for the purpose of 
revising the whole program, but in reality because 
the Government wished to restrict all higher edu- 
cation, as productive of revolt. Three years 
later the university was reopened under a new 
organization, and the subjects of natural history, 
histology and the physiology of man and animals 
were excluded from the program. The same re- 
actionary measure was inaugurated in regard to 
the medical college for women which was opened 
in 1872 and was closed in 1881, after having sent 
out nearly six hundred doctors of medicine of 
good standing. 

It is obvious that the Gymnasia, Institutes and 
Universities account for but a small part of the 
women of Russia. The great majority of them 
have been educated at home, in the languages, 
by foreign governesses, in the sciences, by pri- 
vate tutors. Russia has ever been the paradise 
of private teachers, recruited, in the Eighteenth 
Century chiefly from among foreigners with 
rather doubtful pasts, and in the Nineteenth, from 
the students of the universities. By refusing to 
offer the women the broadest educational advan- 
tages to the full extent of the demand, the Govern- 
ment has helped to spread the revolt which it has 

206 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

been anxious to crush. The young students who 
have come in contact with their girl pupils as 
teachers have not only given them the education 
withheld from them, but have also inoculated them 
them with the spirit of opposition against every 
kind of tradition, which has been characteristic of 
the youths in the second half of the Nineteenth 
Century. And the Russian women, far more posi- 
tive and persistent than the men in their views 
and actions, have furnished a very great number 
of heroines in the struggle for political emancipa- 

It cannot be assumed that the women of Russia 
represent a different psychological type than the 
men, and yet all the writers from Pushkin until 
the present have opposed the strong, self -centered 
female characters to the well-meaning, enthusias- 
tic, but essentially weak heroes of their novels. It 
is more likely that the greater reserve naturally 
imposed upon the feminine sex is responsible for 
the preservation of her more positive characteris- 
tics. Young men come too early in contact with 
the world without, a world that on account of the 
unfortunate political conditions prevailing in the 
country can have nothing but disappointment in 
store for them. The enthusiasm of young Rus- 
sia is far more inflammable than elsewhere in 
Europe, and the consequent debacle, when the re- 
alities bristle up, is proportionate to the initial 
impulse with which these youths start in their re- 

The Influence of Women in Russia 207 

volt against tradition. In consequence they burn 
out at an early time, and at forty are ready to 
give up the struggle as old men. Many men, who 
have started as realists in mid-life have turned to 
mysticism for a relief from a spiritual world, 
while others, going to greater extremes still, have 
become downright reactionaries. 

"Women are spared the blighting contact with 
the cold world and are able to preserve their enthu- 
siasm and their virtues intact to a maturer age, 
when rude reality only steels them in their convic- 
tion. This is seen, for example, in the case of the 
progressive authoresses of the '50 's and '60 's, 
Marko Vovchok and Khvoshchinski, whose youth 
had passed within the walls of institutes for the 
daughters of nobility, where the light from the 
outside world was carefully excluded. But even 
much earlier the women showed unexampled forti- 
tude in bearing most cruel punishment and rare 
devotion for their kin in exile. In 1819 twenty- 
nine Cossack women unflinchingly received a se- 
vere beating with rods for having refused, to- 
gether with a large number of men, to mow some 
Government meadows without remuneration. In 
1826 nearly twenty women, wives, mothers, and 
fiancees, followed the exiled Decembrists to Si- 
beria. Many of these were not permitted to return 
home, even after the death of their kin, several 
were included in the amnesty of 1850 ; many more 
remained at home because Emperor Nicholas did 

208 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

not give them permission to follow their relatives 
into exile. The poet Nekrasov has immortalized 
Princess Trubetskoy and Princess Volkonski in 
two long poems, Russian Women. In 1830 not 
less than 375 women were sentenced to capital 
punishment for participation in a revolt at Se- 

Chronic rebellions among the peasants against 
their cruel masters demanded the yearly quota of 
fifty executions up to the year 1846, one-fourth 
of the number being women. During the same 
period more than four thousand peasants and 
twenty-five hundred peasant women were exiled 
to Siberia by order of the landed proprietors. 
After 1860 women are occasionally included 
among the persons arrested for political propa- 
ganda. When, a decade later the intellectuals be- 
gan to "go among the people," the unbounded en- 
thusiasm of the progressive girls who wished to 
devote themselves to the national cause led them 
to enter into fictitious marriages, for the purpose 
of obtaining the necessary permission to leave 
their homes. Such pretended marriages became 
the rule among the intellectuals of the '70 's. 
While occasionally the contemporary critics were 
justified in their accusations that they served only 
as a cloak for free love, the great majority of them 
had nothing in common with matrimony. Often 
the parties concerned never met again after the 

The Influence of Women in Russia 209 

church ceremony, and frequently the fiction led to 
real marriages. The only purpose of the con- 
tracting parties was to secure that freedom of 
domicile for the women which they otherwise 
could not obtain. The famous circle of the Chav- 
kovtsy, founded in 1871, counted several women 
among their members. Three years later their 
activity assumed threatening proportions, and 
Minister of Justice Pahlen reported that 612 men 
and 158 women had been arrested for participa- 
tion in a revolutionary propaganda. To his sur- 
prise not only girls, but even mothers of families 
were taking active part in the agitation against 
the Government. "The wife of the major of the 
secret police Goloushev not only did not discourage 
her son from taking part in the affair, but even 
actively advised and aided him. The very wealthy 
landed proprietress, Sofya Subbotin, a woman of 
advanced years, not only carried on the Revolu- 
tionary propaganda among the peasants of her 
neighborhood, but even won over to her side her 
ward, Miss Shatilov, and sent her very young 
daughters to end their education in Zurich. The 
daughters of the high functionaries, Natalya 
Armfeld, Varvara Batyushkov and Sofya Perov- 
ski, and the daughter of Major General Leschern 
von Herzfeld and many others went among the 
people, to do hard work in the fields and to sleep 
among the peasants with whom they worked, and 

210 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

these acts apparently met with no disfavor on the 
part of their relatives, but were rather encouraged 
and approved." 

Sofya Bardin, speaking in her defense before 
the court that sentenced the conspirators as- 
serted that she did not, with the other defend- 
ants, plan the destruction of private property, 
but only wished to secure to each man the just 
reward for his labor. As to the accusation that 
she was trying to overthrow the family, religion, 
and the Government, she said: "In regard to 
the family I do not know who it is that under- 
mines it, whether that social order which com- 
pels a woman to leave her family in order to earn 
a scanty wage in the factory, where both she and 
her children are unavoidably corrupted; that or- 
der which compels a woman, on account of pov- 
erty to take to prostitution, and even sanctions 
this prostitution, as a legal and necessary phe- 
nomenon in every well-ordered state, — or we, who 
are striving to eradicate this misery, which has 
served as the chief cause of all social wretched- 
ness, and, with it, of the destruction of the fam- 
ily. In regard to religion I can only say that I 
have always been faithful to its spirit and es- 
sential principles in that pure form in which it 
was preached by the founder of Christianity. 
Just as little am I guilty of an attempt to under- 
mine the Government. Indeed, I think that the 
efforts of separate individuals are unable to un- 

The Influence of Women in Russia 211 

dermine a government. . . . Gentlemen, I belong 
to that categoiy of people who are known under 
the name of peaceful propagandists. Their prob- 
lem consists in rousing the conscience of the 
masses to ideals of a better, juster social order, 
or to make clear those ideals which unconsciously 
have already taken root in them: to show them 
the faults of the present order, so that in the 
future the same faults may be avoided. But we 
do not determine when this future will arrive, 
nor is it possible for us to determine it, because 
its realization is not dependent upon us. ... I 
am convinced that the day will come when even 
our sleepy and indolent society will awaken, and 
when it will feel ashamed for having allowed 
itself so long to be trodden down, to be deprived 
of brothers, sisters and daughters, in order to be 
destroyed for the mere free confession of their 
convictions. And this society will avenge our 
ruin. Persecute us, — gentlemen, for material 
force is on your side; but we have with us the 
moral force, the force of historic progress, the 
force of the idea, and ideas cannot be destroyed 
by bayonets." 

Miss Bardin was but twenty-two years old 
when she was sentenced to ten years' imprison- 
ment. There were not less than fourteen women 
who received various sentences, among them the 
Jewess Jessy Ilelfman. Her case is interesting 
in that it shows the successful way in which the 

212 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

Government makes full-fledged Eevolutionists out 
of mere enthusiasts. Jessy had been a seam- 
stress who happened in 1874 to fall in with some 
intellectual ladies lately returned from Zurich. 
She undertook to carry some Eevolutionary cor- 
respondence from one person to another. For 
this crime she was sentenced to four years' im- 
prisonment, where she was introduced to the So- 
cialist movement by fellow prisoners. In 1879 
she devoted herself whole-heartedly to the Eevo- 
lutionary movement. In 1881 she was sentenced 
to capital punishment, but this was commuted to 
life imprisonment shortly before the birth of a 
child to her, on account of the indignation ex- 
pressed in all of Europe at the obvious atrocity. 
She died in prison in 1882, three weeks before her 
husband was shot, as a convicted member of the 
Terrorist party. 

The Government ascribed the growth of the 
Socialistic propaganda among the women to the 
existence of the higher institutions of learning 
which, therefore, were closed. The Eevolution- 
ary movement among the women came to an end, 
not because the higher education was withheld 
from them, but because the whole Socialist revo- 
lution collapsed and the noble, but useless exal- 
tation could not be upheld any longer. The 
Feminist propaganda of the West has not taken 
deep root in Eussia, simply because practically 
the women obtained full rights during the Eevo- 

The Influence of Women in Russia 213 

lutionary period, and the suffrage would avail 
them little, since it has done so little for the men. 
While the possible future part which they may- 
play in the Revolutionary movement may single 
them out as the most progressive and useful mem- 
bers of their sex, their Terrorist activity in the 
past must be considered as abnormal and excep- 

The authors recognized the transitory condi- 
tion of the movement, and not a single writer has 
given us a sympathetic treatment of the women 
Revolutionists, although the Nihilist Bazarov and 
other similar characters have found their advo- 
cates in literature. The Revolutionists have 
themselves recognized the futility of accomplish- 
ing any reforms by means of the intellectuals 
alone. In a similar way it may be asserted that 
the regeneration of Russia will not take place 
through the efforts of the abnormal type of 
women, but through the combined and persistent 
labors of the normal, every-day women of the 
land. We shall therefore turn to the conception 
of woman's work and duties, as represented in 
the best thought of Russian literature. 

No one has better summarized the ideal of the 
peasant woman than Nekrasov, in his Red-Nosed 
Frost : l 

In Russ hamlets women are dwelling, 
Of countenance earnest, serene; 
i Quoted from Red-Nosed Frost, Boston, 1886. 

214 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

In all grace of movement excelling ; 
In bearing and look like a queen. 

Perhaps they escape the dim-sighted; 
But one who can see says of them: — 
"She passes — with sunshine all's lighted ! 
And looks — 'tis like giving a gem!" 

The paths all our people are thronging 
They follow, — the same course pursue; 
From slime to their low lot belonging, 
Their stains are of far lighter hue. 

After extolling her health and beauty, her ability 
to do man's work, her cheerfulness and yet her 
extreme earnestness, her conviction that in labor 
lies all her salvation, the poet ends with a pic- 
ture of her full-blossomed motherhood and reli- 
giousness : 

This woman goes forth Sunday morn 
To mass, all her family guiding: 
Is sitting a child, two years born, 
On her bosom, and there it is hiding ; 

Beside her the neatly dressed mother 
Is leading her six-year old boy. 
This picture, — like many another, — 
All friends of Russ folk will enjoy. 

Of course, this ideal is not always attained, but 
nevertheless it distinctly indicates the virtues to- 

The Influence of Women in Russia 215 

ward which the best of the women strive who are 
not effected by any scientific or political theories. 
Naturally the vast majority of the peasant girls 
would accept the gospel of labor, motherhood and 
faith as distinctly their own, and would frown 
down any Socialist doctrine which would deprive 
them of any of these three factors. Tolstoy, who 
understood the peasant soul better than any 
writer before him, has also accepted the peasant 
ideal for the women of the middle and upper 
classes and has, in the light of this gospel, deline- 
ated feminine characters which differ widely from 
those found in the West and in America, but 
which are faithful reproductions from the society 
in which he moved. As the future of a nation 
does not depend on the exceptional, but on the 
average mothers, a study of Tolstoy's women will 
help us to prognosticate the normal development 
of the nation. 

In What Shall We Do Then? Tolstoy has 
pointed out that the only hope of solving the so- 
cial conflicts lay in a healthy public opinion, and 
that this was chiefly made by women. Hence it 
was incumbent upon them to return to simple and 
straightforward ideas of women of the masses, 
and to abandon those corrupt practises which un- 
fortunately have found their way among the 
wealthy with the growth of intellectualism. Only 
those can know the real meaning of life accord- 
ing to God's will who consciously submit to the 

216 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

law of God. For women this law consists pri- 
marily in the duty to bear children and to undergo 
all the labors which childbirth and the rearing 
of children bring with them. "If there can be 
any doubt for a man and for a childless woman 
as to the path on which is to be the fulfilment 
of God's will, for a mother this path is firmly and 
clearly defined, and if she has humbly fulfilled it 
in the simplicity of her soul, she stands on the 
highest point of perfection which a human being 
can reach, and becomes for all men that complete 
sample of the fulfilment of God's will, toward 
which all men strive at all times. Only a mother 
can before her death calmly say to Him who has 
sent her into the world, and to him whom she has 
served by bringing forth and educating her chil- 
dren, whom she loves more than herself, after 
she has done her appointed task in serving Him : 
'To-day hast thou released Thy slave.' But this 
is that highest perfection toward which, as toward 
the highest good, all men strive. It is such 
women, who have fulfilled their woman's calling, 
that rule the ruling men and serve as a guiding 
star to men; such women establish public opinion 
and prepare new generations of men ; and so these 
women have in their hands the highest power, the 
power of saving people from the existing and 
menacing evils of our time. Yes, women and 
mothers, in your hands, more than in any other, 
is the salvation of the world." 

The Influence of Women in Russia 217 

Those who have formed their own social ideas 
or who follow those which have been preached in 
the name of science will decidedly disagree with 
Tolstoy's narrow religions conception of woman's 
duties. But it must not be forgotten that what ap- 
pears to be his injunction to the upper classes, who 
do not practise the laws of God, is in reality a rep- 
resentation of what actually is taking place in 
Russia. Even if we did not have Nekrasov's de- 
lineation of the average peasant woman, the sta- 
tistical works would tell us louder than any scien- 
tific book that race suicide is as yet an unknown 
vice in Russia. It is generally assumed by the 
political economists that the increase of popula- 
tion depends on economic conditions. The facts 
in Russia totally belie their theory, for the popu- 
lation has continued increasing normally, in spite 
of the very depressing conditions prevailing, in- 
cluding wide-spread famines and plagues. In- 
deed, the alarming increase of the Slavs of the 
Russian Empire is one of the chief causes of Ger- 
many's fear of its neighbor in the East. But it 
is not the intellectuals in the Revolutionary move- 
ment, much less upper class society, that is filling 
up the ranks of the nation. The increase comes 
from the peasant and burgher classes, hence the 
normal development of the country must depend 
on these, and Tolstoy is perfectly right in uphold- 
ing the consciousness of the masses against the 
corrupt refinement of what is called society. 

218 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

Mere romantic love has played a very inconsid- 
erable part in Russian literature since the days 
of Karamzin. A far more important function is 
ascribed to sympathy, pity, charity, to the spirit- 
ual aspects of love than to that which, in spite of 
the etherealization by poets and novelists, is pri- 
marily a manifestation of the sexual instinct. If 
Tolstoy generally represents the young women 
who fall in love as carried away by mere infatua- 
tion, which lasts only as long as the object of 
love is near, he depicts the characteristic Russian 
girl, to whom romantic love has not that element 
of permanency which the Western poets assume 
for prenuptial love. But no author has sur- 
rounded motherhood with such an aureole of 
glory, and even the temperamentally changeable 
and fickle girls are by him depicted as abandon- 
ing themselves to the animal instinct of maternity. 
The single-minded, well-balanced girls of the 
Anglo-Saxon type, such as Sonya in War and 
Peace, have no attraction for him, not because he 
does not believe in the spiritual development of 
women, but because the intellectual women in Rus- 
sia have so far departed from the instinctive vir- 
tues which characterize the masses, that it ap- 
pears to him more important to accentuate these 
sides of the feminine nature which do not have 
their roots in the intellect. It is a notorions fact 
that the marriages of the intellectuals have sel- 
dom been happy in Russia, and Tolstoy is only 

The Influence of Women in Russia 219 

voicing a national conviction that it is not the in- 
tellect alone that determines woman's progress 
and that the masses have as much to teach about 
woman's destiny as they have to learn about her 
mental education. Kussia has had no lack of 
highly cultured and learned women, but the fu- 
ture of the country depends in a far greater de- 
gree upon the average woman of the masses. 


THE Russian people is totally devoid of racial 
prejudice. If it were left to its own sym- 
pathies, Tartars and Nogais, Germans and Finns, 
Jews and Poles would fare equally well, because 
the strong individualism of the masses does not 
permit them to interfere with the idiosyncrasies 
of racial units. This freedom of individual ac- 
tion was brought out in the preamble of the Revo- 
lutionary program preceding the creation of the 
First Duma, when it was proposed to create a 
great Russian Empire on the basis of a free fed- 
eration : ' ' Every nationality which belongs to the 
Union has the right to leave it the moment this pro- 
cedure appears useful for it. Vice versa, — every 
nationality that does not belong to the Union may 
join it upon mutual agreement. ' ' In fact, the only 
chance of reestablishing autonomies for the con- 
stituent peoples of the Russian Empire, and for 
the Poles and Ruthenians, who live also in the ad- 
joining countries, lies in their being first reunited 
under Russia, because the Russian people is the 
only one that harbors without reserve a love for its 
Slavic neighbors, even as it shows no discrimina- 
tion against Mohammedans and Jews. But the 


The Nan-Russian Russians 221 

Government in this respect is nearly always op- 
posed to the wishes of the nation and of the sub- 
ject races, because the Government is essentially 
Prussian in its policy and even depends to a great 
extent upon German officials to carry out its brutal 
decrees. And the Russian Government is as 
stupid as it is brutal. Had it cut loose from its 
political model, Prussia, it would long ago have 
united all the diverging parts of the country, be- 
cause the Russification of the foreign elements has 
always been strongest where the Government has 
least interfered with the all-powerful genius of 
the Russian spiritual life which has been sweeping 
everything before it in the Nineteenth Century. 

Numerically the largest contingent after the 
Great Russians are the Little Russians or Ukrain- 
ians, of whom there are probably thirty millions 
in a broad strip running east into Siberia from 
Kiev, to which nearly five million Ruthenians in 
Galicia and the Bukowina are to be added. The 
greater part of this territory voluntarily passed 
over to Russia in 1654, during the great Cossack 
wars with Poland. The Cossacks of the South 
have ever been democratic in their political life, 
and soon after their union with Russia they came 
into frequent conflict with the autocratic Govern- 
ment. Part of the Ukraine was lost to Russia in 
1667 and did not come back to it until the division 
of Poland in 1793. The last trace of the Ukrain- 
ian autonomy was destroyed in 1775, and since 

222 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

then the Government has been mercilessly at work 
to destroy even the Little Eussian language. The 
literary language was made obligatory during the 
reign of Peter the Great. The restrictive meas- 
ure of the censorship made the publication of Lit- 
tle Eussian works, outside of harmless stories, 
impossible, and the most gifted Southerners, such 
as Gogol, Kostomarov, Potapenko, have been 
obliged to accommodate themselves to the foreign 
Great-Eussian dialect for their literary works. 
By sheer stupidity the Government has alienated 
from itself thirty millions of its own Slavic kin 
and has driven its intellectuals into the ranks of 
the Eevolutionists. 

Naturally similar repressions have been exer- 
cised in Poland, but here the causes and effects 
are more complex. Whatever sympathies one 
may have with ancient Poland, it owes much of 
its misfortune to the anarchical regime of its 
government and to the anti-democratic tendencies 
of its aristocracy. When the Eussian Govern- 
ment in 1864 freed the serfs in Poland, the peas- 
ants became more friendly to the new political 
master than they had been to the aristocratic land- 
owners before. But the Government has not 
known how to take advantage of its popular meas- 
ure, and to-day the whole of Poland is in a state 
of revolt against Eussian officialdom. The Poles 
have no complaint against the Eussian people, 
with whom they have come to have much in com- 

The Non-Russian Russians 223 

mon. The abolition of a native school system and 
the introduction of the Russian language in the 
curriculum has made the intellectuals one with 
those of the ruling race, and many Revolutionists 
have been recruited from among the students in 
the Polish University. The creation of large in- 
dustrial centers and the consequent factory popu- 
lation has brought the workingmen of the whole 
realm together, and the calling of strikes in Petro- 
grad and Tinis immediately causes cessation of 
work in Warsaw and Lodz. 

If Poland is not entirely united and may in the 
last moment lose every chance of an autonomy, 
such a calamity will chiefly be due to the Poles 
themselves. They possess two most dangerous 
elements which negative the efforts of the better, 
nobler part of the people. These are the nobility 
and the Catholic clergy. Among the first there 
have turned up traitors to the Polish cause who, 
in order to save their possessions, have aligned 
themselves on the side of the barbarous Govern- 
ment, while the clergy has taken up the cudgel 
against the progressive elements of the people 
and has managed to obtain from the Russian Gov- 
ernment the right to censor all productions which 
may in any way refer to the Catholic religion. 
Thus the clergy has censored Sienkiewicz 's Quo 
Vadis, and even has started a campaign against 
the author himself. But the most dastardly work 
these two retrograde parts of the people have been 

224 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

doing is their fanning the senseless, criminal anti- 
Semitic propaganda. The Jews of Poland have 
generally been warm partizans of the Poles 
against Russian oppression, and many of them 
have fallen by the side of their Christian friends 
in the various revolutions. Now they are ground 
up between Russian barbarism and Polish hypo- 
crisy. If the millions of Jews will turn away 
from their Polish fellow-citizens and will cast in 
their lot with the Russian people, the fault will be 
entirely that of the Polish nation itself. 

Had not the near-sighted Government inter- 
fered, the Polish peasantry would long ago have 
become Russian in sentiment, because of the Po- 
lish inveterate disagreement between the nobility 
and the masses. But by its constant restriction 
of the Polish intellectual activity it has weakened 
its own prestige. Meanwhile the Polish working- 
men have come to align themselves with the whole 
industrial movement in Russia. It is the peas- 
antry and the large industrial population of Po- 
land that would seek a closer union with the Rus- 
sian Empire, while only the intellectuals and the 
aristocracy dream of a resurrected Poland. 

The same tendency towards a closer associa- 
tion with Russia is found among the minor na- 
tionalities, so long as the Government does not, 
by its Prussian system of centralization and uni- 
formity, upset the natural process of assimilation. 
This is evidenced in the case of the Armenians. 

The Non-Russian Russians 225 

Peter the Great tried to win the Turkish Armen- 
ians over to Russia, and Catherine the Great en- 
couraged their migration to the Crimea. During 
the Eusso-Persian War of 1826-1828, large num- 
bers of them settled in the Caucasus and the south- 
ern cities. The Russification proceeded among 
them at a rapid rate. All educated Armenians 
spoke Russian, and many distinguished themselves 
as officers and generals in the Russian army, one 
of them, Loris-Melikov, rising to the high post of 
Minister of State. All this has been changed in 
the last twenty-five years. The Armenian Church 
and the Armenian schools have been persecuted 
by the bureaucracy in the Caucasus; animosities 
have been fomented between the Armenians and 
the Tartars and Georgians; and the native lan- 
guage has been discouraged in every way possible. 
In consequence of these senseless methods the Ar- 
menian intellectuals have been driven into the rev- 
olutionary field, the peasants and workingmen 
have joined the Socialistic movements of their 
Russian fellow-citizens, and the Armenian litera- 
ture has taken a new lease of life. But it is only 
the stupidity of the Government that separates 
the highly gifted people from the nation at large. 
The extremely large number of Russian critics, 
professors, painters, authors who bear Armenian 
names proves that the all-powerful spirit of as- 
similation that characterizes the Russian influence 
among the non-Russians will again be abroad the 

226 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

moment the nation can assert itself against the un- 
Russian bureaucracy. 

The only anomalous relation subsists between 
Russia and Finland. In this latter country the 
Russian influence has, indeed, been slight through 
historic causes, but the repressive measures of the 
Government, in its attempt at centralization, are 
bringing the nations closer together. Finland 
owed its peculiar privileges to the generosity of 
Alexander I, who, during his liberal regime, prom- 
ised to maintain its Swedish constitution intact. 
This policy was maintained for eighty years, and a 
state developed within the state. In justice to the 
Government, it must be pointed out that no other 
country in Europe would have tolerated such a 
separatism for a moment, and it speaks well for 
the throne that it remained true to the vows of 
an enthusiastic emperor for so long a time. There 
should be no criticism hurled against the ministers 
for bringing Finland under the universal laws 
prevalent in the rest of the country. The only 
objection that can be raised is against the stupid- 
ity and brutality with which the change was in- 
augurated. And yet, it is this suddenness of the 
change which has brought the sturdy Finlanders 
to the realization that their future depends on a 
closer union with the progressive elements in Rus- 
sian society, and that their country must pursue 
the same democratic course as followed by the 
liberals among their Slavic neighbors. In the end 

The Non-Russian Russians 227 

they will rather gain, than lose, from the injec- 
tion of the Russian spirit into their intellectual 

It is obvious from the course of events in the 
parts of the country just mentioned that the non- 
Russian peoples are allying themselves more and 
more with the Russian nation, in proportion as the 
Government is oppressing them in an attempt at a 
forcible Russification. If similar processes of de- 
nationalization be observed in other countries, for 
example in Germany, it will be noticed that gov- 
ernmental persecution does not bring with it a 
closer union with the nation at large. The Ger- 
man Poles are no fonder of the Germans than 
they are of their rulers, and forty years of peace- 
ful possession has not made Alsace-Lorraine Ger- 
man in sentiment or even toleration. The diverg- 
ing phenomenon in Russia is due to the diametri- 
cal opposition of the people to the Government and 
to the essentially cosmopolitan sympathies of the 
masses at large. The Russians have no inborn 
racial or social prejudices, and they automatically 
extend the benefits of their political ideals to 
all the component elements of the Empire and 
would gladly embrace the rest of the world into 
the great brotherhood. Russian literature has 
preached such a catholicity for more than half a 
century, and if the Polish, Finnish and Armenian 
intellectuals have not been more thoroughly 
merged with their Slavic protagonists, the fault 

228 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

is that of the minor nations who have not began 
at so early a time to democratize society. But 
things are rapidly changing. What the intellec- 
tuals and Eevolutionists did not accomplish, that 
is being brought about by the workingmen of the 
land whom the common interests of toil and suffer- 
ing carry into the ranks of the great, all-pervading 
Russian democracy. 

We shall now turn to the two most important 
foreign elements in the Russian body politic, the 
Jews and the Germans. 

The south of Russia had harbored Jews since 
the first Christian century, and in the Ninth Cen- 
tury the Tartar nation of the Khazars practised 
the Mosaic religion. In 987 they tried to convert 
the Russian prince of Kiev, but, according to the 
account of the chronicler, the great splendor of 
the Greek Church turned him toward Byzantium 
and Christianity. The Russian pagans had lived 
amicably with their Jewish neighbors, but, upon 
becoming Christians, they inherited the Byzan- 
tine hatred of the Jews, which through the late 
Roman laws and their Germanic development was 
also bequeathed to the Germanic nations. 

In the beginning of the Eleventh Century the 
Jews were not permitted to live in Kiev, but a cen- 
tury later a special part of the city was set aside 
for them. They were tolerated on account of their 
commercial propensities, and Ivan III still further 
expanded their privileges. But Ivan IV, from re- 

The Non-Russian Russians 229 

ligious considerations, would not accede to the de- 
mand of the King of Poland that the Lithuanian 
Jews should be admitted to Russia. Peter the 
Great did not abolish the prohibition against the 
settling of Jews in Eussia proper, but was lenient 
toward them and even allowed them to open drug- 
stores and similar commercial establishments. In 
the Eighteenth Century a large number of Jews 
were to be found in the Western provinces lately 
incorporated into the Empire, in Little Russia 
and in the Baltic Provinces. 

For fifty years the Government alternated its 
policy between oppression and toleration. Cath- 
erine II permitted them to settle in the region of 
the Black Sea, and after the division of Poland 
in 1773 a large number, calculated at 900,000, who 
formed an integral part of White Russia, were 
incorporated into Russia. These preserved their 
organization of the religious commune, but did not 
obtain equal civil rights with the rest of the popu- 

The lot of the Jews did not improve much in the 
Nineteenth Century. Attempts were made to 
settle them on the land as agriculturists, but the 
Government proceeded in a half-hearted way, and 
but a small proportion became successful farmers. 
In the reign of Alexander II a few privileges were 
granted. Merchants of the first guild could live 
anywhere in the Empire, and mechanics and ar- 
tisans could ply their trades outside the pale of 

230 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

settlement. The most significant privilege was 
the permission to attend the secondary schools and 
the universities, and the virtual grant of citizen- 
ship to apothecaries, physicians, and the learned 
professions in general. This period of extreme 
toleration lasted until the year 1881, after which 
began a series of persecutions and massacres 
which has lasted until our time. 

Sad and uncalled for as the pogroms have 
been, they are to a great extent the fault of the 
Jews themselves, but a fault which more than any- 
thing else proves the remarkable adaptability of 
the Jews to the democratic spirit of the Russian 
nation. These very pogroms will, in the future, 
be the basis for an assimilation such as is not to 
be hoped for in any other country. 

The one positive characteristic of the Russian 
Jews is their ineradicable love of learning. Long 
after the Jews in the West had ceased to busy 
themselves exclusively with Hebrew learning, the 
cities of Poland and "White Russia remained Mec- 
cas for the Slavic Jews, and the study of the Tal- 
mud formed an all-absorbing occupation for rich 
and poor. This passion for learning finds its ex- 
pression in the Yiddish cradle song, which every 
mother croons over her infant boy, "When you 
grow up you will be a Rabbi." The moment the 
Russian schools were thrown open to the Jews, 
their youths began to crowd the Gymnasia and the 
universities entirely out of proportion to the nu- 

The Non-Russian Russians 231 

merical part which they formed in the Russian na- 
tion. Those who could not be accommodated at 
home filled the foreign universities. They threw 
themselves with the same zeal upon the Western 
learning, which they had before shown in the study 
of Jewish lore, and as the older generation had 
been distinctively Semitic in its intellectualism, so 
the younger people became thoroughly Russian in 
their sympathies. 

It is generally assumed that the Jews the world 
over are clannish and possessed of certain common 
characteristics which at once separate them into a 
body, and, free play being given to inherent antip- 
athies, cause their Christian fellow-citizens to 
vent upon them their anti-Semitism. Nothing is 
further from the truth. The Spanish Jews differ 
enormously from the German Jews, and the Ger- 
man Jews not only differ widely from their Rus- 
sian co-religionists, but have as deeply seated an- 
tipathies for them, as they have for the Slavs in 
general. ' ' Polak, ' ' that is, Polish or Russian Jew, 
has always been an expression of contempt among 
them, to be hurled at the Easterners as a last re- 
sort. Not even in America is there much love lost 
between the two classes of Jews. The German 
Jews represent substantial business interests and 
share many vices and virtues with the Christian 
Germans. The Russian Jews in this country for 
the most part take to the arts and trades and, 
wherever possible, follow the learned professions. 

232 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

The difference of occupation is due to the different 
environments in which the Jewish character has 
developed. In Germany it evolved in the Ghetto, 
where commerce was as a rule the only outlet for 
activity, and in America the greater liberty of ac- 
tion has brought out the essentially German thrift, 
persistency and efficiency, which give the commer- 
cial instinct an undreamt of scope. Hence the 
great commercial interests, the great banking 
houses, presided over by German Jews. The Eus- 
sian Jews, on the other hand, come from humble 
surroundings, their one undying passion being 
learning. It is doubtful whether they will in this 
country ever develop the talent for great com- 
mercial concerns which is to be found among their 
German co-religionists. They will far more read- 
ily amalgamate with the American middle class 
and intellectuals, even because the Eussian demo- 
cratic spirit which actuates their lives is more akin 
to the democratic spirit of America. 

The essential difference of the German and the 
Eussian viewpoint is well brought out in the di- 
ametrical opposition of the Germans and the Jews 
in Eussia in their political sympathies. The Ger- 
mans have invariably been supporters of the au- 
tocracy, while the Jews have allied themselves 
with the national parties. A Eussian publicist 
has expressed the opinion that the Jewish women 
were the ideal towards which the Eussian women 
Eevolutionists had been leaning. That he is mis- 

The Non-Russian Russians 233 

taken in the analysis is proved by the fact that 
the Jewesses of other countries have not devel- 
oped the specifically democratic and heroic na- 
tures that have been apparent in every Revolu- 
tionary movement in Russia. The reverse is true. 
The Jewish women having come under the same 
educational advantages as their Christian sisters 
have identified themselves in absolutely every par- 
ticular with them. But their characters had been 
steeled by centuries of persecutions, and so they 
represented a more active element of the intellect- 
ual Revolution than was furnished by the Chris- 
tian women. A similar relation subsists in the 
ranks of the male Revolutionists, and it has been 
calculated that more than eighty per cent, of all 
the radicals have been supplied from this source, 
while nearly sixty per cent, have been sentenced 
to imprisonment, exile and capital punishment. 
As the Jews form less than four per cent, of the 
Avhole population, it appears that they have sup- 
plied four times as many Revolutionists as the 
Christians or nearly twenty-five times the number 
normally to be expected. Granted the right to 
defend itself against so palpable a danger, the 
governmental opposition to the Jews, which finds 
its expression in anti-Semitism and pogroms, is 
natural and unavoidable. 

The Government has ruthlessly persecuted all 
Revolutionists and, being under the impression 
that the vast majority has been recruited from 

234 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

among the Jews, the retaliatory measures em- 
ployed are not at all extraordinary. The Gov- 
ernment hopes in this manner to intimidate the 
people and check the growth of Socialism. The 
trouble is in the premises, not in the immediate 
cause. It is the action of the Government, in de- 
priving the Jews of civic rights, that has created 
such a large intellectual proletariat among them, 
and the enormous growth of Socialism in their 
midst is the most eloquent answer to the usual 
stupidity of the Russian bureaucracy. The pog- 
roms have not abated this danger, — they have 
only deferred the final accounting. 

Neither the intellectuals nor the masses have 
any antipathy for the Jews. Prince Urusov, who 
was sent about ten years ago to Bessarabia, os- 
tensibly to carry out Von Plehve's savage policy 
of anti-Semitism, but who brought with him the 
usual objective attitude of the Russian liberals, 
soon convinced himself that there was not the 
slightest justification for the wholesale persecu- 
tions carried on by orders or connivance of the 
central Government against the defenseless Jews. 
These were no better and no worse than their 
Christian fellow-citizens. The usual accusation 
that they monopolized business proved untrue, for 
the country people, left to themselves, liked to deal 
with them, on account of their fairer methods in 
their dealings and their smaller profits in the cus- 
tomary transactions. Nor was there any truth 

The Non-Russian Russians 235 

in the statement that the Jews shunned work and 
agricultural labor. Many of the important trades 
were satisfactorily attended to by them, and the 
agricultural school established by private Jewish 
initiative in Bessarabia was not only a model of 
its kind, but also proved a boon to the Christian 
neighbors who came there for advice and instruc- 
tion. The pogroms had been inaugurated by two 
unscrupulous individuals, one a Rumanian, the 
other a Russian, who received their encourage- 
ment from an overzealous bureaucracy, which in 
its turn set its sail to von Plehve 's wind. Thus it 
appears that the bloodthirsty policy of the Rus- 
sian Government against the Jews was directly in- 
augurated by the German von Plehve in the serv- 
ice of Russian autocracy. 

It is significant that, although the Russians 
know neither racial nor national prejudice, they 
have a strong dislike for the Germans in Russian 
service. Tolstoy, who preached tolerance for all 
men, has described the Germans as unamiable, 
selfish, boastful, and un-Russian. The masses 
like the German farmers and merchants, because 
of their efficient and progressive methods, but they 
seldom love them. The Germans in Russia have 
in some cases lived there for centuries, and they 
have all the time remained foreigners in the land. 
They have looked with contempt upon the people, 
and have invariably sided with the Government 
against them. Indeed, a German writer on the 

236 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

Germans in Russia, Theodor Baszler, considers it 
to be the greatest desert of these Russo-Germans 
that they have invariably supported the auto- 
cracy. " Under Emperor Nicholas I the first at- 
tempts were made to introduce the Russian lan- 
guage into the secondary schools and universities 
of the Baltic provinces. The Russian Govern- 
ment, however, soon abandoned all further at- 
tempts. The stormy year 1848 and the disturbed 
state of the country after the Crimean War con- 
vinced the Emperor so fully of the value of the 
conservative, loyal German populace that he 
stopped all attempts at denationalizing his Ger- 
man subjects. ' ' It was an irony of fate that Alex- 
ander III, guided by the Prussian system of dena- 
tionalization, nevertheless banished the German 
language from the University of Dorpat and thus 
drove his Russian subjects, Harnack, Schiemann, 
Ostwald, into the German camp, where they have 
been venting their spleen against the Russian 
Asiatics. In spite of the proscription of the Ger- 
man language, the Baltic Germans remained faith- 
ful to the autocracy. "The Baltic Germans, 
whose allegiance to the Emperor was well known 
even in the hostile Governmental circles, have in 
no way taken part in the so-called Revolution of 
1905." No wonder, then, that they have profitted 
by it. Since 1906 they have been permitted to 
open a number of private schools, from which the 
pupils may pass to the universities by taking their 

The N on- Russian Russians 237 

examinations together with the pupils of the Rus- 
sian Gymnasia. Now the Baltic German nobility 
is looking forward toward a bright future, be- 
cause "they have been the safest protection of the 
imperial power. ' ' 

The Germans of the Baltic provinces pride 
themselves on the cultural work which they have 
been doing among the Esthonian and Lettish peas- 
antry, over which they have been lording for sev- 
eral centuries. However, when the Revolution of 
1905 broke out, the peasantry made common cause 
with the Revolutionists in Russia and, consider- 
ing the German nobility as having a common cause 
with the autocracy, they burned and plundered the 
estates of the German proprietors and committed 
many atrocities against them. It cannot be de- 
nied that from a material standpoint the Ger- 
mans have been of very great use to the Govern- 
ment and to their Slavic neighbors. The Govern- 
ment has always been aware of the good example 
set by the German colonists, and in the last two 
centuries thousands of German villages have 
sprung up from the western border to the Volga, 
and even in the Caucasus and in central Siberia. 
Unfortunately the Germans have shown an utter 
inability to put themselves on the people's view- 
point, and have blindly executed the behests of the 
Government, where such obedience meant the 
strengthening of oppression and reaction. The 
Government has taken advantage of this readi- 

238 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

ness to serve its ends, and responsible police of- 
fices have preferably been entrusted to men of 
German origin. The gendarmerie and the prisons 
reek with German names of their chief officers, 
and the reactionary ministers of state have very 
frequently borne German names also. There can 
be no better proof of the absence of racial feeling 
in Russia than the immunity which the Germans 
have enjoyed there, in spite of their consistent 
leaning against the Russian people, just as the 
attacks upon the Jews have not been started by 
the masses, but by the irresponsible Black Hun- 
dred, goaded on by the bureaucracy and by the 
officials of von Plehve's provenience and type. 

Possibly the Government will now come to see 
that the privileged Germans in Russia have, after 
all, not been so useful for its purposes, as the op- 
pressed and persecuted alien races of Russia. 
Possibly it will appreciate the greater advantages 
to be derived from the assimilable Armenians, 
Finns, Letts, Jews, and so forth, even though they 
are not apt to lend themselves so readily to the 
purposes of a reactionary Government. If not, 
the combined Slavic and non-Slavic Russians will 
in time overthrow the Government with its un- 
assimilated German minions. 


Of books on Russia there is no end, but there are few 
which will give the student food for an independent judg- 
ment on the possibilities of the Russian soul. The fol- 
lowing works will prove of some assistance in gaining a 
general view on modern Russia : 

Aleksinski, G., Modern Russia, transl. by B. Miall, Lon- 
don 1913. 
Baring, M., The Russian People, London 1911. 

The Mainsprings of Russia, London 1914. 
Briiggen, E. v. der, Russia of To-day, London 1904. 
Gasiorowski, W., Tragic Russia, London, Paris, New York 

Gautier, Th., Russia, transl. by F. Maclntyre Tyson, 

Philadelphia 1905. 
Gerrare, Wirt, Greater Russia, the Continental Empire 

of the Old World, New York 1904. 
Graham, S., With the Russian Pilgrims to Jerusalem, 
London 1913. 
Undiscovered Russia, London 1912. 
Changing Russia, London 1913. 
Grousset, P., School Days in Russia, Boston 1892. 
Jarintzoff, N., Russia, the Country of Extremes, London 

Lanin, E. B., Russian Characteristics, London 1892, pub- 
lished in America under the title Russian Traits and 
Terrors, Boston 1891. 
Logan Jr., J. A., In Joyful Russia, New York 1897. 


240 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

Palmer, F. H. E., Russian Life in Town and Country, 

New York 1901. 
Ranibaud, A., Simkovitch, V. G., etc., The Case of Russia, 

a composite view, New York 1905. 
Rappaport, A. S., Homelife in Russia, New York 1913. 
Stepniak, King Stork and King Log, a Study of Modern 

Russia, London 1895. 
Thompson, H. M., Russian Politics, London 1896. 
Villari, S., Russia under the Great Shadow, London, New 

York 1905. 
Wallace, Sir Donald Mackenzie, Russia, revised and en- 
larged ed., London 1912. 
Williams, H. W., Russia of the Russia?is, New York 1914. 
In the Russian language there exists an extensive litera- 
ture dealing with the various aspects of the social life. 
The stupendous history of S. Solovev and the shorter 
one by V. Klyuchevski contain a great fund of historical 
information, while the historical monographs of N. Kosto- 
marov, in twenty volumes, supply a vast amount of 
detailed information covering the whole period of Rus- 
sian history. To this work may be added the essays on 
the social structure of ancient Russia, by M. Dyakonov 
and Zabyelin, and on the social structure of the sixties 
of last century, by V. N. Meshcherski. Fortunately a 
few of the works of Kovalevski and Milyukov, belonging 
to the same category are accessible to those who are not 
familiar with Russian. These are: 
Kovalevski, V. I., Modern Customs and Ancient Laws of 

Russia: the Ilchester Lectures, 1889-90, London 

La Russie a la fin du 19 e siecle, Paris 1900. 
Milyukov, P. N., Skizzen russischer Kulturgeschichte, 

Leipzig 1898. 

Bibliography 241 

Essais sur I'Histoire de la civilization russe, Paris 1901. 

Russia and its Crisis, ClUcago, (University of Chicago 
Press) 1905. 

The Chief Currents of Russian Historical Thought 
(Am. Hist. Ass. Annual Rep. for 1904), Washing- 
ton 1905. 

Much valuable material is scattered in : 
La revise slave, 1906-1909. 

The Russian Review, a Quarterly Review of Russian His- 
tory, Politics, Economics, and Literature, London 
Melnik, J., Russen uber Russland, ein Sammelwerk, 
Frankfurt am Main 1906. 

The most important sources from which the Russian 
character may be studied naturally are the literary works 
themselves, of which, unfortunately, only a few of the 
most prominent authors have been translated into Eng- 
lish. It is also regrettable that the incisive critics, Bye- 
linski, Dobrolyubov, Pisarev, and Mikhaylovski, are 
totally inaccessible to the foreign reader of Russian litera- 
ture. They contain a current commentary upon the in- 
tellectual life of the country from about 1830 until 1880. 
The contemporary critic Ovsyaniko-Kulikovski has 
written a history of the Intelligentsia which covers the 
whole of the Nineteenth Century and apparently is to be 
continued until more recent times. A similar work, 
somewhat more restricted in scope, by Milyukov, is sim- 
ilarly inaccessible. There also exist a number of special 
works on the philosophic tendencies in Russian poetry, 
such as by Pertsov, which it would pay to consult. By 
far the most extensive work upon the sociological condi- 
tions is that by the distinguished Bohemian scholar, Th. 
G. Masaryk, Zur russischen Geschichts- und Religions- 

242 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

philosophie, Jena 1913, of which two large volumes have 
already appeared. In addition, any of the histories of 
Russian literature may prove useful: 
Baring, M., Landmarks in Russian Literature, London 

Bazan, E. Pardo, Russia: Its People and Its Literature, 

Chicago 1890. 
Brandes, G. M. C, Impressions of Russia, New York 1889. 
Brueckner, A., A Literary History of Russia, New York 

Kropotkin, P. A., Russian Literature, New York 1905. 
Lourie, 0., La Psychologie des romanciers russes du XIX e 

siecle, Paris 1905. 
Newmarch, Mrs. R., Poetry and Progress in Russia, Lon- 
don, New York 1907. 
Persky, S. M., Contemporary Russian Novelists, Boston 

Phelps, W. L., Essays on Russian Novelists, New York 

Reinholdt, A. von., Geschichte der russischen Litteratur, 

Leipzig 1884-85. 
Strannik, I., La Pensee russe contemporaine, Paris 1903. 
Vogue, E. M. M., The Russian Novel, New York 1914. 
Waliszewski, K., A History of Russian Literature, New 

York 1900. 
Wiener, L., Anthology of Russian Literature, from the 

Earliest Period to the Present Time, 2 vols., New 

York and London 1902, 1903. 
These works naturally reflect the Western attitude 
toward Russian thought and literature, hence they 
should be supplemented, wherever possible, by the ex- 
cellent native monographs of Aykhenvald, Koni, Kot- 
lyarevski, Maykov, Orest Miller, Skabichevski, Tikhon- 

Bibliography 243 

ravov, Vengerov, and others. On Russian art there 
does not exist any comprehensive work. Some informa- 
tion may be gleaned from the histories of literature, espe- 
cially from Brandes' Impressions of Russia, and from 
Melnik's Russen ilber Russland, which contains the best 
discussion of modern art obtainable. The following 
works will furnish some additional points : 
Ganz, H., The Land of Riddles, New York and London 

Holme, Ch., Peasant Art in Russia, The Studio Ltd., 

London 1912. 
Maskell, A., Russian Art and Art Objects in Russia. A 
Handbook to the Reproduction of Goldsmiths ' Work 
and Other Art Treasures from that Country in the 
South Kensington Museum, London 1884. 
Mitchell, T., Russian Pictures, New York and London 

Portfolio of Russian Art, produced and published for 
the Committee of the Council of Education by W. 
Griggs, London 1882-3. 
Singleton, E., Russia as Seen and Described by Famous 

Writers, New York 1904. 
The Tsar and His People, or Social Life in Russia, New 

York 1891. 
Trubetskoy, Paul, Catalogue of Sculpture by Prince 
Paul Trubetzkoy, exhibited by the American Numis- 
matic Society, at the Hispanic Society of America, 
Feb. 12 to March 12, with Introduction by Christian 
Brinton, New York 1911. 
Catalogue of Sculpture by Prince Paul Trubetzkoy, 
exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, Feb. 1 to 
Feb. 28, 1912. 
Viollet-Le-Duc, E. E., L'art russe; ses origines, ses ele- 

244 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

ments constitutifs, son apogee, son avenir, Paris 

Vereshchagin, V., Vasili Verestchagin, Painter, Soldier, 
Traveler; Autobiographical Sketches, transl. by F. 
H. Peters, New York 1888. 
Catalogue of Verestchagin Exhibition. First Ap- 
pendix : Progress in Art. Second Appendix : Real- 
ism. Translated by Mrs. MacGahan, New York 
"1812." Napoleon I in Russia. With an introduc- 
tion by R. Whiteing, London 1899. 
Russian music has been extensively treated both at 

home and abroad. 

Lineff, E., The Peasant Songs of Great Russia, as they 
are in the Folk's Harmonization, collected and tran- 
scribed from phonograms, St. Petersburg 1905. 

Montagu-Nathan, M., A History of Russian Music; Being 
an Account of the Rise and Progress of the Russian 
School of Composers; with a Survey of their Lives 
and a Description of their Works, London 1914. 

Newmarch, Mrs. R., The Russian Opera, New York 1914. 

Norden, N., Russian Choruses for Mixed Voices, with 
English Texts from the Repertoire of the iEolian 
Choir, Brooklyn, New York, Boston 1913. 

Schindler, K., A Century of Russian Song from Glinka to 
Rachmaninoff, Fifty Songs, New York 1911. 

Soubies, A., Histoire de la musique en Russie, Paris 1898. 
The Russian Church and the Russian sects may best be 

studied from the following monographs : 

Birkbeck, W. J., Russia and the English Church During 
the last Fifty Years, London 1895. 

Elkinton, J., The Doukhobors. Their History in Russia. 
Their Migration to Canada, Philadelphia 1903. 

Bibliography 245 

Grass, K. K., Die russischen Sekten, Leipzig 1907- 

Heard, A. F., The Russia7i Church and Russian Dissent, 

comprising, Orthodoxy, Dissent, and Erratic Sects, 

New York 1887. 
Maude, A., A Peculiar People. The Doukhobors, New 

York 1904. 
Palmieri, A., La Chiesa russa, Firenze 1908. 
Wilbois, L'avenir de Veglise russe, Paris 1907. 

These works tell a great deal about the intellectual con- 
dition of the peasants. Further information on special 
points may be gleaned from special works on the peas- 
Holstein, A. de, and Montefiori, D. B., Serf Life in Russia, 

London 1906. 
Hourwich, J. A., The Economics of the Russian Village, 

New York 1892. 
Kennard, H. P., The Russian Peasant, London 1907. 
Stadling, J., and Reason, W., In the Land of Tolstoi. 

Experiences of Famine and Misrule in Russia, New 

York 1897. 
Stepniak, The Russian Peasant. Their Agrarian Condi- 
tion, Social Life, and Religion, London 1888. 
The Revolutionary movement has been exhaustively 
treated in Russia by Burtsev, Za sto lyet (A Hundred 
Years), and the Decembrist Revolt has of late re- 
ceived careful consideration by Dovnar-Zapolski, Kotlyar- 
evski and Dmitriev-Mamonov, but these works are en- 
tirely unused by foreign investigators. The only book 
dealing with that period is Baron A. E. Rosen's Russian 
Conspirators in Siberia, London 1872, which gives in- 
sufficient information on that important period. For 
the Revolutionary movements of the latter part of the 

246 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century 
the following works will prove of use : 
Alexander, A., Russia from Within, New York 1905. 
Ames, E. 0. F., The Revolution in the Baltic Provinces, 

London 1907. 
Bourdon, G., La Russie More; Vaube russe, Paris 1905. 
Charles, P., Le parlement russe, son organisation, ses 

rapports avec I'empereur, Paris 1909. 
Durland, K., The Red Reign, New York 1908. 
Gottheimer, F., La charte constitutionelle de Vempire de 

Russie, Berlin 1903. 
Harper, S. N., The New Electoral Law for the Russian 

Duma, Chicago 1908. 
Kovaleski, V. I., La crise russe; notes et impressions d'un 

temoin, Paris 1906. 
Milyukov, P. N., Constitutional Government for Russia 

(The Civic Forum), New York 1908. 
Nevinson, H. "W., The Dawn in Russia, or Scenes in 

the Russian Revolution, London and New York, 

Noble, E., The Russian Revolt, Boston 1885. 
Pares, B., Russia and Reform, London 1907. 
Perris, G. H., Russia in Revolution, London 1905. 
Pollock, The Russian Bastille, Chicago 1908. 
Prelooker, J., Russian Flashlights, London 1911. 
Trubetskoy, M., Out of Chaos; a Personal Story of the 

Revolution in Russia, New York 1907. 
Ular, A., Russia from Within, New York 1905. 
"Walling, W. E., Russia's Message, the True World Im- 
port of the Revolution, New York, 1908. 
Zilliacus, K., The Russian Revolutionary Movement, New 

York 1905. 
The non-Russians have received scant treatment in the 

Bibliography 247. 

foreign languages. The best statement, though brief, 
will be found in Melnik's work. On the Germans of 
Russia the most interesting are the monographs pub- 
lished by the Pan-German Union, because they furnish 
the indisputable proof that the Germans in Russia still 
consider themselves aliens and become Russified only in 
order to serve the autocratic Government. Such works 
Geiser, A., Die russische Revolution und das baltische 

Deutschtum, No. 25. 
Faure, A., Das Deutschtum in Sildrussland und an der 

Wolga, No. 26. 
Baszler, Th., Das Deutschtum in Russland, Miinchen 
The Jewish question has been exhaustively studied 
from a bibliographic standpoint in the monumental Sys- 
tematic Guide, published in Russian in 1893, and in 
Bershadski's Archive, also in Russian. The following 
works in English deal with its modern aspect: 
Alexander, L. A. A., The Drama of Blood, performed by 
Russia on the World's Stage in the Light of the 
Twentieth Century, New York 1906. 
Bernheimer, C. S., The Russian Jew in the United States, 

Philadelphia 1905. 
Davitt, H., Within the Pale. The True Story of Anti- 
Semitic Persecutions in Russia. 
Errera, L., The Russian Jews. Extermination or Eman- 
cipation, London 1894. 
Rubinow, J. M., Economic Conditions of the Jews in 
Russia (report from Bulletin of Bureau of Labor), 
Washington 1908. 
Russo-Jewish Committee, The Persecution of the Jews in 
Russia, London 1890-91. 

248 An Interpretation of the Russian People 

Urusov, Prince S. D., Memoirs of a Russian Governor, 

London and New York 1908. 
Wiener, L., The History of Yiddish Literature in the 

Nineteenth Century, New York 1899. 
Wolf, L., The Legal Sufferings of the Jews in Russia. 

A Survey of their Present Situation, and a Summary 

of Laws, London 1912. 
The above does not pretend to be a complete bibliog- 
raphy of the subject. Those who are interested in 
aspects of Russian life not touched upon by me in the 
present book must look to the special catalogues, such as 
that of the British Museum, for further information. 
The most helpful general work on the subject is the 
Russian Encyclopedia of Brockhaus, where under the 
respective titles, especially under Russia, extensive native 
and foreign bibliographies may be found. 








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