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First published in iqij 

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G. A. 


In Modern Russia I dealt particularly with all that 
distinguishes Russian life from the life of Europe. 
But even then I felt the necessity of presenting the 
other aspect of the matter— of showing how Russia 
has Europeanized herself, of summing up the action 
of European influences in the past and the present 
of the great Slav Empire. 

The happenings of the present time, and the par- 
ticipation of Russia in the formidable struggle against 
Prussian Imperialism, increase the importance of the 
question of the relations between Russia and the West. 

I shall be happy if . the present volume will help 
the English public to study these relations. 

G. A. 

PS. — My sincere thanks are due to my translator, 
Mr. Bernard Miall, for his valuable collaboration, which 
has so greatly contributed to the success which my 
works upon Russia have obtained with my English 





Chapter I 17 

I. The foreign elements in the origins of Russian history. 

II. The Byzantine influence — The opinion of a modern 
Russian philosopher. 

Chapter II 22 

I. The appearance of true European elements — The Han- 
seatic League and its'commercial relations with Novgorod. 

II. Europeans in Russia under Ivan III and Ivan the 
Terrible — The English merchants. III. The eighteenth 
century and the development of trade between Russia and 
Europe — State monopolies and commercial capitalism. 

Chapter III 30 

I. The period of Peter the Great — The problem of Euro- 
peanizing the national economy of Russia. II. The fore- 
runners — The basis of the economic reforms of Peter I. 

III. Did Peter the Great wish to denationalize Russia ? — 
National and international motives in the programme of 
reforms devised by Peter the Great — Russian mercantilism. 

IV. The balance-sheet of industrial Europeanization under 
Peter the Great — Contradiction between the European and 
Russian elements in Peter's work. 

Chapter IV 39 

I. Foreign influences under the successors of Peter the 
Great — The conflict between Western tendencies and the 
Russian system of government — Catherine II — The ukase 
of 1763. II. European colonists in the Russian countryside 
— Why is the Russian moujik poor and the immigrant 
farmer rich? III. The true method of " Europeanizing " 
the economic system of Russia. 



Chapter V 47 

I. European influence and the national economy of the 
Russia of to-day — The increase of imports and exports — 
The general character of Russia's foreign trade. II. 
Human immigration from Europe into Russia— Its com- 
position. III. The penetration of European capital into 
Russia. IV. Its forms and its dimensions — State loans and 
private industry — National capital and foreign capital in 
Russia. V. The distribution of foreign capital among the 
various branches of industry. VI. German capitalism and 
its influence on the Russian economy. 


Chapter I 67 

I. Is the Russian people warlike? II. A little philology 
and arithmetic. 

Chapter II 74 

I. The struggle for the shores of the Baltic Sea as a 
" window facing Europe " — The Livonian wars of the 
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. II. The " Period of Dis- 
turbances" — The wars of the seventeenth century— The 
Russo-Swedish War under Peter the Great — Its results and 
its influence. 

Chapter III 86 

I. The war of 1812 and the Russo-Swedish War. II. The 
causes of the war against Napoleon — Economic relations 
between Russia and England — The "Continental Blockade" 
and its effects on Russian economy. III. Two periods of 
the war of 1812 — Official patriotism and popular patriotism. 
IV. The Holy Alliance and Legitimism— The Russian 
reaction. V. The effects of the war on the people and the 
" intellectuals "—The Decembrists. VI. The effects of the 
war in Poland. 

Chapter IV 99 

I. The Crimean War— Its origins. II. Causes of defeat— 
The contrast between the old Russia and the new Europe. 
III. The Eastern question— The Slav problem and the 
Europeanization of Russia. 



Chapter V 109 

I. The war with Europeanized Japan — The Asiatic 
question. II. The German barrier isolating Russia from 
Europe— The Baltic Sea and the Straits — The great 
European conflict, and its general import from a Russian 
point of view. 


Chapter I 117 

I. A European State in ancient Russia : the Free City of 
Novgorod. II. The birth of the absolute monarchy and 
its conflict with feudalism — Western influences in Russian 

Chapter II 122 

I. Military power and the reform of the State administra- 
tion under Peter I — Swedish influences. II. The palace 
revolutions of the eighteenth century and the influence of 
Europe. III. German domination, and the anti-Germanic 
movement under Anna — The participation of France and 
England in the coup d'ttat of 1741 — A Duke of Holstein the 
Russian Tsar — His Prussophilia. IV. The conspiracy of 
1801 and British diplomacy. 

Chapter III 137 

I. The renaissance of feudalism — Catherine II and the 
European sources of her ideas. II. Attempts to Euro- 
peanize Russia under Alexander I — Anglophilia — Central 
institutions — Speransky and his French loans. III. The 
Decembrists — The European elements in their ideology and 
their actions — The Spanish model — The reaction of Austro- 
German origin —The Baltic nobles crush the insurrection 
of the Decembrists. 

Chapter IV 153 

I. The Tartaro- Prussian Empire under Nicolas I — The 
knout and the shpitzruteny — The necessity of reforms. II. 
The "Period of the Great Reforms" and its European 
sources — A fresh step to the rear. 



Chapter V 162 

I. The problem of national representation under Alexander 
II and the constitutional movement. II. The Duma — 
Foreign elements in the representative system in Russia — 
Is the political mentality of the Russian people Asiatic or 
European ? III. Some documents. 



Chapter I 181 

I. The theory of races — Non-Russian blood in the veins 
of Russian writers. II. The formation of the literary 
language and its European ingredients. 

Chapter II 190 

I. The literature of the people and the literature of the 
cultivated writers — The first Western influences. II. The 
importation from Europe of literary forms and subjects. 

Chapter III 198 

I. Various European influences in Russian literature — 
Classicism, sentimentalism, and romanticism — Shakespeare 
in Russia. II. Russian realism. III. Byronism in Russia — 
Dostoievsky's opinion of Byronism. 


Chapter I 211 

I. The first collision between nationalist ideals and 
Western influences — The first Russian zapadnik, II. Two 
Muscovite imigrls. III. The first Slavophile in Russia. 

Chapter II 224 

I. The impossibility of a compromise between Muscovite 

Russia and European tendencies. II. The Russian Vol- 

, taireans — The " historical superfluities" — The opinions of 

> Klutshevsky and Herzen on the Russian Voltaireans. 111. 

Radistshev and Novikov. 



Chapter III 236 

I. The nationalist reaction under Catherine II and Alex- 
ander I — Shtshcrbatov and Karamzin — The Russian re- 
actionaries and the French Revolution — The royalist 
imigr&s. II. The positive influence of the ideals of the 
French Revolution — Some opinions. 

Chapter IV ... 249 

I. Catholic influence in Russia — Tshaadaev and his philo- 
sophy of history. II. Vladimir Soloviev and the ideal of 
the Universal Church. 

Chapter V 266 

I. The idealist philosophy of Germany — Hegelianism. II. 
Bielinsky — The influence of Schelling and Fichte. III. 
Bielinsky a Hegelian of the " Right " and a conservative 
— His antipathy for French ideals. IV. His conversion — 
French influences — Social aspirations. 

Chapter VI 281 

I. Bakunin, the Germanophile and conservative. II. The 
Slavophiles — Their attitude toward the Europeanization of 
Russia. III. European elements in the Slavianophihtvo. 
IV. The Slavophiles and the zapadniki. V. Herzen's 
ideological and moral crisis. 

Chapter VII 304 

I. Dostoievsky and his contradictory qualities. II. The 
disintegration of the Slavianophihtvo — Katkov, Pobiedo- 
nostzev, and Leontiev. III. The Occidental sources of 
reactionary nationalism in Russia. 

Chapter VIII 312 

I. The zapadnitshestvo triumphant. II. Nihilism — Its 
European origin — Dobrolubov and Pisarev — The " destruc- 
tion of aesthetics" — Nihilism and Anarchism — Pisarev's 
opinion of the French and English — The social problem 
and "aesthetics." III. Tshernyshevsky — His materialism 
— The popularization of Occidental ideas — Tshernyshevsky 
and Feuerbach— The secularization of Russian thought — 
English influences. 



Chapter IX 324 

I. Socialism in Russia — Socialism and religion. II. The 
earliest European influences — Saint-Simonism in Russia. 
III. Fourier and Robert Owen. IV. The narodnitshestvo and 
Marxism— The " Bakunists " in Russia. V. " Blanquism " 
in Russia — Terrorism. VI. Philosophy and the reality — 
The present situation of the narodnitshestvo and Marxism. 

Conclusion 351 

Index 353 





I. The foreign elements in the origins of Russian history. II. The 
Byzantine influence — The opinion of a modern Russian philo- 


The origins of Russian history present us with two 
half-real, half-legendary factors : the foundation of the 
first principalities and the " baptism of Russia." In 
both popular tradition admitted an active participation 
of foreign elements. 

According to legend, the Russians of the ninth 
century had as yet no organized States, but were living 
in discord. Weary of this anarchy, they are said to 
have applied to foreign princes (Varangian or Scandi- 
navian), and to have said : — 

" Our soil is wide and fruitful, but order is lacking 
there. Be our princes and come to govern us." 

And three Varangian princes are said to have con- 
sented to come into Russia and to have founded three 
principalities in the north. 

Foreigners also created the principality of Kiev, 
whose first sovereigns bore names of Scandinavian 
origin : as Igor (from Ingvar) and Olga (from 
Helghi), etc. 

As for the " baptism of Russia," which took place 
in the year 988 A.D., popular legend has handed down 
the story. 

Prince Vladimir the Holy, dissatisfied with the 

2 it 


paganism of his subjects, is said to have sought to 
put an end thereto. With this object in view, he 
is related to have sent into various countries special 
envoys who were instructed to make a study of their 
religions. The religion, or rather the ritual, which 
charmed him most was the Byzantine. Thereupon 
Vladimir is reported to have invited the priests of 
the various cults to repair to Kiev, there to explain 
to him their character and their advantages. As a 
result of this competition the Prince of Kiev is said 
to have set his choice on the Orthodox Byzantine 
Church, which thereupon became the Orthodox Russian 

In order to grasp the possibility of this extraordinary 
admixture of Greek and Scandinavian contributions in 
the first phase of the historical period, we must 
remember that Russia formed the connecting link 
between Scandinavia and Byzantium. Thus we may 
say that in the dawn of her history Russia served as 
intermediary between West and East, if we admit that 
her two neighbours represented the two general 

But what I chiefly wish to emphasize is the role 
of the State in this first introduction of foreign 
elements : the Scandinavians entered the State in the 
quality of princes and organizers — in short, of 
governors ; while the Greeks brought their religion 
into the State on the prince's invitation. We shall 
see that down to our own days authority in Russia 
has continued to favour the foreigner, often even to 
the detriment of the native Russian. 


The bond connecting Scandinavia with Byzantium, 
across the wide Russian plain, which embraced two 
points of great importance, one in the region of 
Novgorod and one in that of Kiev, could not long 
hold fast. 

The Scandinavian influence, powerful enough at the 


outset, 1 waned very rapidly ; for shortly after " th« 
coming of the Varangian princes " (in 862 A.D., accord- 
ing to the Russian chronicles) no trace of their northern 
principalities was left. Some centuries later, it is true, 
Russia was again to encounter Scandinavia ; not the 
Scandinavia which sent her brigand- princes to govern 
her, but the kingdom of Sweden, with its twelfth 
Charles, the object of the simultaneous hatred and 
admiration of Peter the Great. 

In the meantime Northern Russia was subjected to 
Western influence in another form : by its close rela- 
tions with the commercial League of the M Free 
Towns " of the Hansa, which greatly contributed to 
the development of two of the great Russian Free Towns 
— Novgorod and Pskov, and to which I shall refer 
later on. 

The Byzantine influence succumbed before the 
invasion of the Asiatic hordes, which seized upon 
Southern Russia, thus cutting it off from Byzantium. 
But the Eastern Empire, for the Russia of the tenth 
and eleventh centuries, was the road to the civilization 
of the Mediterranean and the Adriatic. Hence the 
interruption of relations with Byzantium was greatly 
to be deplored. The celebrated Russian historian S. 
Soloviev says in this connection : M The nomads not 
merely attacked Russia, but they cut her off from 
the shores of the Black Sea and destroyed her com- 
munications with Byzantium. . . . Asiatic barbarism 
strove to deprive Russia of all the roads and all the 
breathing spaces opening upon cultivated Europe." 

Another great Russian historian, V. Klutshevsky, ex- 
presses the same idea : "A thousand years of the 
hostile neighbourhood of the rapacious Asiatic nomads 
will by itself justify many times over the absence of 
the European spirit in the history of Russia." 

■ The title of kniaz (prince) which the Russian Slavs employed to 
designate the head of the State is borrowed from the Scandinavian, 
and is only a modification of the Scandinavian title of kunning. 


In my Modern Russia ■ I have already explained 
the general consequences entailed by the invasion of 
the steppes of Southern Russia by the Asiatic hordes. 
We know that the principal result was the displace- 
ment of the centre of economic and political gravity, 
which shifted from the region of Kiev to that of Moscow 
and Vladimir. Muscovite Russia was for a long time 
deprived of her relations with Byzantium, and lost even 
all contact with the Russia of the South-West — that 
is, with Volhynian and Galician Russia, the most highly 
Europeanized and civilized of all the principalities of 
the eleventh and twelfth centuries. It was at this time 
that Volhynia and Galicia began to lead a separate 
existence, and at a later date were subjected to the 
influence of Poland. 

As to the Byzantine influence in itself, and the loss 
which Russia must have suffered in being deprived of 
this influence in the twelfth century, the various Russian 
authors are in disagreement. A contemporary publi 
and philosopher of some considerable repute, Professor 
Boulgakov (a Neo-Slavophil), endeavoured quite recently 
to attribute a great importance to the rdle of the 
Byzantine factor : — 

" The Oriental orthodoxy of Byzantium contains, in 
potential, all Hellenism in its immortal worth. In 
general Hellenism is a principle of natural orthodoxy. 
. . . This is why, in the heritage of Greek civiliza- 
tion, our own share is richer than that of the West, 
the legatee of Hellenism by an indirect path, by the 
intervention of the Roman Church, and, at a later 
date only, of Humanism by a pagan restoration." 2 

To this pretentious assertion, which seeks to invest 
Russia with a kind of supremacy over Western Europe, 
we can easily oppose a few positive and decisive facts. 

In the first place, it is not true that Byzantium 
received the legacy of pure Hellenism while the West 
knew it only by a deformation. On the contrary, 

• Modern Russia, trans. Bernard Miall, T. Fisher Unwin, 1014. 

• S. Boulgakov, The War and the Russian Mind (Moscow, 1915), p. 33. 


it was Byzantium which distorted the original 
Hellenism. For the democracies of antiquity it sub- 
stituted a semi-Oriental monarchical regime ; for free- 
dom of belief, expressing itself in a free art which 
seized the imagination, a dry and scholastic " ortho- 
doxy " which amounted to iconoclasm. There was no 
real return to " Hellenism " save by that very " pagan 
restoration " which was the Renaissance. 

Assertions such as those of M. Boulgakov would 
induce us to believe that the influence of Byzantium 
on ancient Russia was purely spiritual, and was destined 
to teach the " eternal meanings of Hellenism." In 
reality, the Greeks who came to Russia and the Russians 
who went to Tsargrad (Constantinople) were not con- 
cerned with these abstractions. The true motive of 
their relations was commercial, as was the principal 
motive of the relations between Russia and Scandinavia, 
for the Scandinavian dynasties, the creators of the first 
Russian principalities, were at once brigands and 
merchants. It was by following in the footsteps of 
the Greek merchants that the Greek priests brought 
orthodoxy to Kiev. And if the Byzanto-Russian and 
Russo-Scandinavian relations were broken off in the 
twelfth century, it was because the commercial high- 
way " from the Greeks to the Varangians " was closed. 


I. The appearance of true European elements — The Hanseatic League 
and its commercial relations with Novgorod. II. Europeans in 
Russia under Ivan III and Ivan the Terrible — The English 
merchants. III. The eighteenth century and the development of 
trade between Russia and Europe — State monopolies and commer- 
cial capitalism. 


While the southern regions remained completely 
isolated by the invasion of the nomads, the north of 
Russia maintained and developed its exchanges with 
the West : in the thirteenth century, for example, the 
Hanseatic League held a considerable place in the 
trade of Novgorod. 

Modern historians have proved that even at the 
period of the principality of Kiev foreign trade 
was assuming a prominent place in Russian life. 
For example, M. Nicolas Rojkov states that during 
this period agriculture and industry occupied a 
secondary position. Hunting and agriculture, or rather 
the gathering of honey in the woods, were the principal 
occupations. Foreign trade, on the contrary, or, more 
precisely, the exportation through the princes and their 
companions of what they obtained by hunting, honey, 
and all that the princes received from the population 
as dani (taxes paid in kind), was much in vogue. 
The aristocracy sent their merchandise to Byzantium, 
where they exchanged it for weapons, wine, stuffs, etc. 
But these relations, confined to a minority, were of no 
immediate interest to the great masses of the people. 

In Novgorod and Pskov the position was quite 



different. There the bulk of the population traded 
and lived by trade. Agriculture occupied a secondary 
place in the regions of Novgorod and of Pskov as 
well as in that of Kiev. The activities of these regions 
were absorbed by foreign trade. The local chronicles, 
and the popular poetry also, give irrefutable evidence of 
this fact. Who is the principal hero of the bylinas— 
that is, the epic songs of Novgorod? Sadko the Rich, 
the merchant, mighty not by the sword but by the purse. 

The trade of Novgorod extended over a much vaster 
region, and included a much larger quantity of products, 
than the trade of Kiev. Skins, butter, fat, meat, flax, 
honey, wool, wheat, etc., were bought by the merchants 
of Novgorod in various parts of Russia and were sold 
or exchanged for foreign merchandise. 

" Commercial interests led foreign merchants and 
adventurers along the waterways of inland Russia, and 
laid the foundations of the Russian State. On the 
success of external trade was based the ephemeral 
wealth of the region of Kiev, which became im- 
poverished and lost its political influence with the 
disorganization of this trade. What really was the 
importance, in the trade of Kiev, of the foreign 
merchants, we can only imagine and conjecture, owing 
to the lack of precise data. But as regards the role 
of foreign intermediaries in the trade of Novgorod 
it is already perfectly evident. The 4 Gothic ' and 
1 German ' ' courts ' or 4 yards,' founded in Novgorod 
in the twelfth century by the merchants of Gothland 
and Liibeck, and united in the fourteenth century under 
the direction of the Free Towns of the Hanseatic 
League, monopolized, for some centuries, all the Russian 
trade passing through Novgorod. The attempt on the 
part of the men of Novgorod to found a Russian com- 
pany which should trade with foreign countries did 
not enable them to create their own merchant fleet, 
and the oversea voyages of certain Russian merchants 
in foreign boats, and even the warehousing of Russian 
merchandise in foreign countries, were only the isolated 


attempts of individual venturers. The Novogorodians 
had to content themselves with the r61e of monopolist- 
middlemen between the buyers of merchandise in 
Northern and South-Eastern Russia and the factories 
of the Hanseatic League. The foreign trade of Russia 
was able to free itself from the Hanseatic domination 
only when the foreign competitors of the League came 
to its assistance ; when, by their own efforts, they 
opened up means of direct access to Russian 
merchandise. In the fifteenth century, and early 
in the sixteenth, these competitors were the Swedish 
traders and the towns of Livonia, which drew the move- 
ment of merchandise into another direction than that 
familiar to the trade of the Hansa towns. In their 
footsteps appeared the representatives of the principal 
capitalistic nations of the new Europe, whose merchan- 
dise had until then formed the object of the Hansa 
trade. These were the English and the Dutch." ' 

At the same time, the city of Novgorod began to 
make way, in the matter of external trade, for the 
city of Moscow. 


Under Ivan III (1452-1505) Russia was delivered 
from the Tartar yoke, and under Ivan the Terrible 
(1534-89) the principality of Moscow established 
direct economic relations with Europe. In the fifteenth 
century there came to Moscow those European traders 
and artisans who " laid the foundations of the principal 
urban trades." The first comers were for the most 
part Italians. Architects, engineers, experienced 
physicians, masters and artisans of various crafts, 
were called from Italy to Moscow. Among them were 
celebrated masters like Fioraventi-Aristoteles (of Venice 
or Bologna), Petro Antonio, and Marcus Aloys 1 
Aristoteles taught the Muscovites how to make bricks 
and lime and the use of machinery ; he founded cannon 

* P. Milukov, Studies in the History of Russian Culture, I 
pp. 105-6 (1st cd., Russian, Petersburg, 1900). 


and constructed a floating bridge near Novgorod. " He 
was the renovator of many crafts in Russia." 

From this time onward the influence of Europe in the 
economic life of Russia increased by leaps and bounds. 

In the sixteenth century, under Ivan the Terrible, 
Russia became for the first time the theatre of an 
energetic rivalry between the traders of Germany and 
England. The Germans had long maintained relations 
with Russia by way of Novgorod. The English arrived 
in Russia by chance : an English expedition went astray 
in the Arctic Ocean and eventually reached the Russian 
coast. The Tsar, Ivan the Terrible, having received 
the news of the strangers' arrival, expressed to them 
his ardent desire that permanent relations might be 
established between their country and his kingdom, 
and the town of Arkangelsk or Archangel became 
the base of the Anglo-Russian trade. 

In 1566 Ivan the Terrible addressed himself to 
Elizabeth through the British Ambassador, Jenkinson, 
begging her to send to Russia some good artisans and 
craftsmen. The Queen granted his request, and in 
1567 sent him an English physician, Reynolds; 
a pharmacist, Thomas Curvvin ; an engineer, Humfry 
Lock, with his assistant, John Fenton ; a goldsmith, 
Thomas Green ; and other specialists. 

In 1569 the Tsar granted some English manu- 
facturers a patent for the establishment of a metal- 
lurgical works at Vytchegda, in the Government of 
Vologda. The English penetrated yet farther, into the 
Ural Mountains, and prospected for iron-mines in the 
region of Perm. 

Ivan the Terrible also sent a special envoy to 
Germany to obtain the same services from the German 
Emperor, and to recruit in Germany some hundreds of 
" learned men, artists, and artisans." 

But the preference of Ivan IV was given to the 
English, and the English merchants, thanks to privi- 
leges granted to them by the Tsar, entered the lists 
in opposition to the German traders, who were grouped 


under the Hanseatic League and who traded through 
Novgorod. The importation of English cloth and linen 
was fatal to German competition, already enfeebled 
by the general decline of the economic activity of 
Novgorod. This market was ruined by the Muscovite 
sovereigns, who could not endure the existence of a 
free city, with a government almost republican, side 
by side with their own monarchical State. 

The sympathies of Ivan the Terrible for the English 
were such that he was called "the English Tsar," 
and in the time of Elizabeth, England declared that 
in no other country did her trade bring her such profits 
as in Russia. 1 


I have explained, in my Modern Russia, the general 
nature of the economic evolution, or revolution rather, 
which occurred in the Russia of the sixteenth century. 
Then it was that the internal market was unified, and 
relations and stable connections were established 
between the various regions of the country, under 
the influence of an intensive commercial exchange. 

The foreign element played a most important part 
in the birth of the new state of affairs, as it greatly 
contributed to the development of the movement of 
trade along the two principal trade routes : that from 
Novgorod to Moscow and that from Archangel to 

But at the beginning of the eighteenth century this 
economic development was interrupted by a great 
political crisis, known as the " Period of Disturbances," 
which lasted until the year 1613, and the in>tallation 
on the Muscovite throne of the Tsar Mikhail Feodoro- 
vitch, the first representative of the House of Romanov. 

Under this Tsar and his successor, Alexei Mikl. 
vitch, the economic relations with the outer world v 
rapidly multiplied and became increasingly compk 

' G. Schultze-Giivernitz, Studies in the National and Political Economy 
0/ Russia (Russian trans., Petersburg, 1900), p. 6. 


Among the most noteworthy phenomena of the 
economic history of Russia in the seventeenth century 
we find, in the first place, the multiplication of exchanges 
with Europe. After the English, who contrived to 
establish their factories along the entire route from 
Archangel to Moscow, other Europeans began to trade 
in Russia : and firstly the Dutch, who used the route 
from the Arctic Ocean and the White Sea, as did 
the English, and also the Baltic route, as did the 
Germans, the Danes, and the Swedes. As early as 
1603 we find an English writer complaining that after 
seventy years of extensive trade with Russia the 
English were beginning to be outstripped by the 
Dutch. At the end of the sixteenth century a report 
was presented to the States-General of the Nether- 
lands, whose author asserted that the maritime trade 
with Russia might be as profitable to Dutch traders 
as the trade with Spain — that is, with America, through 
the medium of Spain. " Neither Germany nor our 
Netherlands," he positively stated, " can dispense with 
trading with Russia." Russia had therefore become, 
at this period, a necessary factor of the world's trade. 

Muscovite Russia, in the seventeenth century, bene- 
fited by international exchanges in a twofold manner. 
On the one hand, she served as a means of com- 
munication between West and East, Europe and Asia. 
She bought Oriental merchandise (for example, silk, 
in Persia) and delivered it to Western commerce. 
Silk occupying a place of enormous importance in the 
commercial life of the time, both private individuals 
and European Governments endeavoured more than 
once to obtain free transit through Russia for their 
communications with Persia, the principal source of 
this precious commodity. 

In 1 61 4 a representative of England (John Merik) 
came to demand, in the name of his king, the right 
to make use of the Volga highway. In 1629 a French 
ambassador presented a similar claim. In 1630 the 
Dutch followed suit. But the Muscovite Government 


invited all these claimants to procure their Persian 
goods by buying them of the Russians. 

The traders of the duchy of Holstein were more 
fortunate : they obtained the monopoly of the trade 
with Persia for an annual payment to Russia of 
600,000 efimoks — about 5,000,000 roubles. But it 
appeared that M in Holstein theory was stronger than 
practice, and that the folk of this country knew more 
of ciphering than of payment. When it came to paying, 
the necessary money was lacking, and the ambitious 
enterprise came to a very pitiable end in a diplo- 
matic quarrel between the Government of the Tsar 
Mikhail and the Duke Frederick." ' 

In general the Government preferred not to allow 
Europeans to cross its territory in order to reach its 
eastern frontiers, being loth to lose the profits which 
the trade with Asia assured to the Treasury. It even 
went so far as to seek to monopolize, for its own 
profit, the exportation and sale to foreign countries 
of 'a portion of the native commodities, notably of skins 
and articles made of leather, furs, caviare, wheat, etc. 

In 1630 the States-General of the Netherlands pro- 
posed through a special ambassador an ambitious plan 
to exploit and " valorize," by means of Dutch capital, 
the agricultural and forestal resources of Russia. It 
was proposed to grow vast crops of wheat for ex- 
portation, and also to exploit the vast forests lying 
along the banks of the Northern Dvina. But the 
Government decided to keep the trade in Russian pro- 
ducts in its own hands. It admitted the principle 
of the monopoly while preferring to apply it on its 
own account. It also established a series of com- 
mercial regies — for example, that of alcohol — which was 
resuscitated by Count Witte at the end of the nineteenth 
century and abolished in 1 91 4 at the beginning of 
the war. 

In the exploitation of these rigies the Government, 
in the seventeenth century, employed the wealthy 
' M. Pokrovsky, Russian History, vol. i. p. 95 (Russian ed.). 


merchants as its agents and representatives. Thei« 
intermediaries made large private profits by the 
purchase and sale of the State commodities. If, as 
an English author says, " the Tsar was the first 
merchant in his dominions," other merchants also 
enriched themselves by monopolizing foreign trade, and 
they began to form a powerful corporation of capitalists, 
to which, moreover, foreigners trading with Russia had 
access, sometimes holding an important place therein. 
These foreigners, with more experience and capital, 
became the rivals even of the Russians, and in certain 
respects supplanted them : for instance, in the last 
quarter of the seventeenth century, Kilburger reported 
that all the trade of Archangel was centred in the 
hands of a few Dutchmen and merchants of Ham- 
burg and Bremen, who had their representatives and 
their clerks in Moscow. 

At this time there was a sudden increase of imports 
also, which assumed considerable proportions ; for 
example, in 1 67 1 there were imported into Russia, 
through the port of Archangel, 2,477, tons of herrings, 
783,000 needles, 5 tons of colours, 809 barrels of 
indigo, 28,457 reams of paper, 1,957 bars of iron, etc. 

Thus, under the influence of foreign relations, 
developed that commercial capitalism whose formation 
fills the history of the seventeenth century. From 
foreign trade it spread to internal trade ; but indus- 
trial production, in the seventeenth century, still retained 
the characteristics of la petite Industrie, industrial 
capitalism dating only from the reign of Peter the 
Great. However, in some parts of the south and west 
(as in the Ukraine), and above all in those parts which 
were in dispute between Russia and Poland, there 
existed before the days of Peter the Great an already 
somewhat extensive industry (including distilleries, 
making a corn spirit, glassworks, foundries, etc.). 
Here, again, we mark the increasing influence of 
Europe, which traversed Poland and had its two 
maritime centres at Riga and Konigsberg. 


I. The period of Peter the Great — The problem of Europeanizing the 
national economy of Russia. II. The forerunners— The basis of 
the economic reforms of Peter I. III. Did Peter the Great wish 
to denationalize Russia ? — National and international motives In 
the programme of reforms devised by Peter the Great — Russian 
mercantilism. IV. The balance-sheet of industrial Europeanization 
under Peter the Great — Contradiction between the European and 
Russian elements in Peter's work. 


The reforms of Peter the Great have been much dis- 
cussed. Some regard his work of reform as a veritable 
Europeanization of the country, a cataclysm almost, in 
which the ancient Russia, Muscovite and Asiatic, 
perished, and out of which emerged the new, civilized, 
European Russia. Others, on the contrary, are inclined 
to deny that the influence of Peter the Great was of this 
character, and to regard it as far more limited in scope. 

In addition to this genetic and historical problem, a 
question of teleological import arises. Was the work 
of Peter the Great really positive and useful? Or, as 
many Slavophiles assert, did Russia merely suffer, as 
a result of this sovereign's efforts, a depravation of 
her normal existence, a morbid and harmful crisis, 
artificially provoked in the course of her natural and 
logical development? 

The best, that is, the surest means of judging objec- 
tively these controversial questions, and of deriving solid 
instruction therefrom, is to analyse the economic pheno- 
mena of the reign of Peter the Great. For although it 
is fairly easy to " reform " a few juridical statutes and 



other external manifestations of the public authority, 
the national economy of a people, which is the true 
and intimate substance of its social and political exist- 
ence, is far more refractory to force. Reforms are 
valued by their economic results ; if their imprint on 
the life of the people is profound, if they have con- 
tributed to its development, we may admit that their 
influence is important ; but if they have merely grazed 
the surface of life they fall into place merely as 
negligible incidents. 


The first appearance in Russia of industry on the 
large scale, the creation of the first large factories and 
workshops, is very often referred to the period of Peter 
the Great, and is attributed to the exclusive influence 
of the foreigners in Russia. " Peter the Great was the 
true creator and the great teacher of Russian industry," 
says M. Ischchanian, the Armenian economist. 1 

It must be noted, however, that industry on the large 
scale was not unknown in Russia before the reign of 
Peter the Great. A century and a half earlier it was 
already in existence ; the first paper-mill was estab- 
lished under Ivan the Terrible, as was also the first 
printing-press. In the seventeenth century other works 
were established ; the first cloth-weaving establishment 
was founded in 1650 by a foreigner ( Johann of 
Sweden). Metallurgy was even earlier in the field ; in 
1632 the Government granted to Vinius, a Dutchman, 
a patent to found and exploit a large foundry, and 
two years later another foreigner (Kojet) obtained 
permission to erect a glass-works. 

This proves that wholesale industry and the participa- 
tion of foreigners preceded the advent of Peter the 

Before his time, it is true, the small industry pre- 
dominated ; the birth of great undertakings was merely 

1 B. Ischchanian, Die Ausldndischen Elcmcntc in der Russischen Volks- 
wirtichafl (Berlin, 1913), p. 19. 


a tporadic phenomenon, and it was only after his reign 
that it became regular and systematic. Nevertheless, 
in order that this transformation should be possible, a 
material foundation was essential, which did, in fact, exist. 

"In Russia, before Peter the Great, there was no 
industrial capitalism, but a commercial capitalism was 
already completely developed. The concentration of 
commercial capital which we observe in this Russia 
was not due to governmental measures, but to the 
spontaneous development of trade and the recognition 
of the advantages presented by commerce on a large 
scale as compared with petty trading*. It was pre- 
cisely this commercial capital which furnished the 
foundation of the greater industries under Peter the 
Great. To convince ourselves of this we need only 
consult the lists of contemporary manufacturers ; we 
shall see that, contrary to a very prevalent idea, they 
were, in a great majority, purely Russian, and belonged 
to the corporation or guild of merchants." ■ 

Such is the verdict of Professor Toughan-Baranovsky, 
the leading historian of Russian industry. 

" The foreigners and the nobles owned only an in- 
significant proportion of the factories existing under 
Peter I. . . . The owners of the greater number of 
these concerns were Muscovite capitalists of the old 
stock — merchants. The fact that they were so shows 
that the greater industries developed in a favourable 
environment, created by the whole past of the Muscovite 
State, more especially in the heart of the great com- 
mercial world. This environment was not the work 
of Peter ; without it, industry on the larger scale would 
have found it impossible, in Russia, to attain any con- 
siderable extension." 2 

But, as we know, commercial capitalism on the 
greater scale was able to wax fat and increase in 
Muscovite Russia only thanks to foreign relations. Con- 

1 If. Toughan-Baranovsky, The Russian Factory in the Pad and 
Present, vol. i. p. 8 (Petersburg, 1898, Russian ed.). 
* Ibid., pp. 10, II. 


sequently we are justified in saying that the exchanges 
with Europe rendered the advent of the great Russian 
industries possible by. affording them the necessary 

As for the part played by Peter the Great and his 
Government, it translated itself chiefly in measures 
which were half-encouraging and half-coercive, but 
which were designed to attract commercial capital to 
the business of industrial production. .We know what 
these measures were : privileges and monopolies for 
the founders of industrial undertakings, State contracts 
to supply the army and navy, etc. To the period of 
Peter the Great, therefore, we must refer the origin 
of those close relations between the Government and 
the great commercial capitalists which even to-day 
appear as one of the most characteristic traits of Russia, 
and are of great significance. On account of these 
relations the wealthy middle classes of Russia are always 
greatly subject to the action of the State, which has 
formed the habit of intervening in the economic life 
of the nation and of tackling its problems directly. 
The principle of lalssez faire, laissez passer has never 
been that of the Russian State, which is for ever carry- 
ing on various undertakings, exploiting, as a private 
individual, railways, distilleries, mines, factories, forests, 
etc. I believe we shall nowhere else find a State 
so greatly concerned with trade and industry. 

To understand how it has come to assume such a 
function we must go back to its first great ventures 
into the economic sphere, under Peter I, not forgetting 
that it then found the soil prepared. For we know 
that as early as the seventeenth century the State was 
adding to its administrative functions the exercise of 
trade, and notably that it carried on an extensive trade 
with foreign countries. Thus conditions came into being 
which were propitious to the reforms of Peter the 
Great and to that economic " Europeanization " of 
Russia which he so resolutely undertook. 




But it must not be supposed that Peter the Great 
intended to " denationalize " Russia, or that he was 
the enemy of the truly Russian elements of the nation. 
On the contrary, his system was fully national in 
character, and one of the authors who have studied 
it was able to say of him with reason that Peter the 
Great was merely an enlightened nationalist. 1 

Peter I was a representative of the mercantile 
doctrine. But the mercantile doctrine is merely an 
economic nationalism. 2 This theory, as far as it applied 
to Russia, was expounded by Baron von Luberas in 
a scheme which he proposed to Peter : — 

" To set the general economy in a solid and stable 
order it is extremely necessary to give this structure 
a suitable life or soul. This last consists in the amount 
of credit which your Majesty enjoys abroad." As 
for this credit, it is necessary to the development of 
trade and industry in the interior of the country ; for 
" one must take pains to improve the production of 
one's own country " ; must no longer remain dependent 
on foreign industry, but must obtain an active balance 
in favour of Russia, and " create one's own manu- 

Such was the advice of Luberas. 3 And such was the 
opinion of Peter himself, who was familiar with the 
mercantile doctrine not only through the theories of 
Luberas and other " projectors," but also in practice — 
in the Netherlands and other European countries 

1 See the work already cited of M. Ischchanian, p. 20. 

* Mr. H. Higgs, the well-known English economist, says of the 
" mercantilists " : " The mercantilists were always extremely anxious 
to solve the following problem : By what means may a Government 
contribute to the well-being of the nation ? Nationalism, State inter- 
vention, and particularism constitute the essentials of their economic 

» Cited from Milukov's The Economy of the Russian Slate during the 
First Quarter of the Tenth Century and the Reform of Peter the Great 
(Petersburg, 1892, p. 528, Russian ed.). 


through which he had travelled. However, he could 
not be a " mercantilist " according to the Dutch or 
English pattern. In the Low Countries and in England 
industry was created far more by private initiative than 
by the public authorities. French mercantilism — 
" Colbertism " — was already more governmental. In 
Russia the r61e of the public authorities had perforce 
to be greater because private initiative was feeble, 
and very often the Russian bourgeoisie was even hostile 
to the introduction of new methods of economic 
exploitation and to the "• Europeanization " of the 
national methods of production. Thus, for example, 
one of the leading Russian publicists and economists of 
the time of Peter I, Ivan Pososhkov, advised the Tsar 
to M stop all the chinks " through which Russia placed 
herself in communication with the .West, and to sup- 
press even postal communication. Pososhkov and many 
others were partisans of a conservative and retrograde 
economic nationalism, while Peter I represented an 
enlightened and progressive nationalism. And as the 
resisting force of the conservative nationalists was in- 
sufficient, the authorities were able to effect changes 
in the domain of economics which to us appear almost 
" a revolution from above." 


(What were the practical results of the " Europeaniza- 
tion " of industry under Peter I ? 

The figures relating to the Russian industry of the 
period are by no means negligible, for on the death 
of the Tsar there were in Russia 233 large industrial 
establishments belonging to the State and to private 
individuals, the mines being excepted. We may even 
say that they satisfied immediate requirements. But 
if we consider the elements and possibilities of future 
evolution, the spectacle is less brilliant. 

A superior economic system imposing itself upon a 
country whose general level is inferior to it produces 
a twofold effect. On the one hand, it stimulates the 


forces of production, whose means it tends to modernize 
and improve. But at the same time it exerts a 
destructive effect : it disintegrates and dissolves the 
forms which preceded it, and which are no longer 
adapted to the new requirements which it has evoked. 

This is precisely what happened under Peter I . While 
with great activity a new equipment was elaborated 
and a new technique came into being, the representa- 
tives of the old conceptions of life and labour waged 
a truly desperate campaign against all " innovations " 
and all that was " foreign." 

Great material, social, and moral suffering was caused 
by this clash between the old economic state and the 
European form of exploitation introduced by Peter the 
Great. These sufferings have impressed many Russian 
historians and investigators to the point of inspiring 
a condemnation of the entire work of industrial renova- 
tion accomplished by this monarch. 

One of the foremost of these writers, M. Korsak, 
is of opinion that Peter's whole economic policy was 
simply a huge mistake : that far from founding large 
establishments in the European manner he should have 
applied himself to organizing the small national crafts 
and trades and the small local industries which existed 
long before his time. " Instead of turning the artisans 
into industrial workers, it would have been far better 
to have made them independent industrial master-crafts- 
men," and " instead of building factories on account of 
the State and afterwards placing them in possession 
of merchants and nobles, it would have been better 
to entrust their exploitation to the communes, villages, 
and towns." M. Korsak, whose work on Some Forms 
of Industry appeared in 1861, was of opinion that 
"the new form of industry (established by Peter I) 
was in absolute contradiction to all the modes and 
habits of Russian life." 

But it is to be noted, in the first place, that the 
concentration of small enterprises and the communal 
exploitation of which M. Korsak speaks could not have 


been realized in the eighteenth century, for even in 
our days the "■ commercialization " of industry 
encounters many difficulties and advances very slowly. 
Peter's reign was a period of wars ; and the Govern- 
ment was too much taken up by the necessities of 
external conflict to exercise any choice ; it merely 
borrowed from Europe what it found there. 

The question, then, is not what Peter the Great 
should have done, but what he was able to do. 

On the other hand, was the new form of production, 
as M. Korsak states, absolutely contrary to the modes 
and habits of Russian life? In this connection we 
must remember that commerce on the grand scale, as 
we have seen, was not unknown before the reign of 
Peter, so that industry had only to follow the example 
of commerce . We may admit, however, that the general 
economic conditions and " the new form of industry " 
were in disagreement. But they were so precisely 
because the one was superior to the others, as being 
more progressive. 

Fully to grasp the nature of this contradiction we 
must consider and solve a special problem which com- 
plicated the process of " Europeanizing " Russia — 
namely, the problem of labour. 

The efforts of Peter the Great to develop Russian 
industry were confronted by a scarcity of *•* hands." 
The founders of the first factories were not serf -owning 
nobles, but merchants and foreigners, who owned no 
serfs. The Government, in granting them a patent 
for the establishment of an industrial undertaking, left 
them at liberty to recruit Russian or foreign workers 
" by paying them a proper wage." The principal con- 
tingent of these " free " workers consisted of ex-serfs 
who had of their own will left their noble masters. 
The nobles, greatly vexed by this defection, demanded 
that they should be sent back from the factories to 
their villages. But Peter I, by a ukase dated 1722, 
forbade the surrender of these peasants, turned artisans, 
to their lawful masters. 


Reading this ukase, one would naturally suppose that 
in the conflict between the old national regime, based 
on serfdom and forced labour, and the new industrial 
exploitation, which enjoyed the co-operation of free 
labour, Peter the Great was in favour of the second, 
and that he would thus have arrived at the idea of 
abolishing serfdom. Nothing of the kind ! In the 
preceding year ( 1 7 2 1 ) Peter, by another ukase, had 
authorized " merchant folk " owning factories to buy 
peasants on condition that they bought them by the 
whole village, and that each village was attached not 
to the person of the manufacturer, but to the industrial 
undertaking itself. 

So, in their struggle against innovation, the " old 
habits," unhappily, won the day ; and instead of hasten- 
ing the disappearance of serfdom, as it did in Europe, 
the new industry, as soon as it made its appearance 
in Russia, adapted itself to its environment, and took 
as its basis the same forced labour of the serfs which 
was the basis of agriculture. 

More than a century elapsed before a true 
" Europeanization " of industrial production became 
possible in Russia by means of the liberation of the 
serfs . 


I. Foreign influences under the successors of Peter the Great — The 
conflict between Western tendencies and the Russian system of 
government — Catherine II — The ukase of 1763. II. European 
colonists in the Russian countryside — Why is the Russian moujik 
poor and the immigrant farmer rich ? III. The true method of 
" Europeanizing " the economic system of Russia. 

The immediate successors of Peter the Great did not 
continue his economic policy. We may even say that 
they, followed a totally contrary line of conduct. Instead 
of developing the forces of the country they occupied 
themselves only with their own . . . consumption. 
They wasted far more than they created. The general 
character of such European influences as they did not 
avoid underwent a total change. Peter I summoned 
to Russia able specialists in industry, trade, the sciences, 
and the military art — engineers, officers, and merchants ; 
his successors fell into the hands of adventurers. 1 The 
Tsars, and above all the Tsarinas (incapable of resist- 
ing the charms of foreign beauty), distributed to their 
favourites the property of the State, large sums of 
money taken from the Treasury, lands, and entire 
villages peopled with serfs. 

What was even more serious was that without having 
borrowed from Peter the Great one single positive 
and fruitful idea, his immediate successors repeated 
and revived his errors. 

1 M. Emile Haumant mentions this fact in his remarkable work on 
French Culture in Russia, stating that the wave of French immigration 
into Russia became "more turbid" after the reign of Peter I. It was 
the same with the immigration from other European countries. 



The ukase of 1721, which confirmed the principle 
of serfdom, was doubtless an error in that it worsened 
the situation of the labouring masses ; but at least it 
recognized an equality of rights between the industrial 
capitalists and the nobles, and did not reserve the 
labour of the serfs exclusively for those who had until 
then been their masters. Under Peter's successors the 
nobles had their revenge. They applied themselves to 
depriving the merchants and manufacturers of the right 
of owning serfs, so that they could thenceforth 
monopolize industry without risk of competition. 

Under the pressure of their demands a law was 
passed in 1762 forbidding persons not belonging to 
the nobility to purchase serfs and to employ them in 
factories and workshops. This law was only the logical 
climax of a series of measures whose aim was to re- 
establish the supremacy of the nobility in the indus- 
trial domain, and was thus entirely opposed to the 
tendency then prevailing in Europe, where the bourgeois 
system was advancing by rapid strides. This " ennoble- 
ment " of Russian industry had disastrous results, as 
I have already explained elsewhere. 

" Thanks to the law of 17,62 and the small number 
of free workers, the nobles were not slow to 
monopolize all the principal branches of industry. 
. . . But if the serfs were bad industrial workmen, 
the nobles themselves were deplorable organizers. 
Accustomed to live by gratuitous labour — that of their 
serfs — the nobles possessed neither the energy nor the 
initiative essential in a good manufacturer. . . . 
Having no competition to fear, they had nothing to 
stimulate them to improve the technique of their pro- 
duction." ■ 

The advent of Catherine II seemed bound to cause 
a revival of the economic policy and a return to the 
positive conceptions of Peter the Great. Like him, 
Catherine II resorted to the European element as to 
a ferment. 

' Modern Russia, 2nd cd., p. 81. 


In the second year of her reign (on the 22nd of July 
1763) she published a ukase inviting foreigners to enter 
Russia, promising them (1) entire liberty of religious 
conscience and subventions for the institution of their 
various cults ; (2) perpetual exemption from obligatory 
military service ; (3) exemption from taxation during a 
certain period ; (4) communal autonomy in respect of 
matters of administration and police, with the right to 
elect their own administrators, ,and the creation of a 
special superior body having the general direction of 
the relations between the immigrants and the State ; 
(5) a special jurisdiction for matters as between one 
immigrant and another. 

These provisions attracted to Russia a multitude of 
Europeans, who considerably reinforced the foreign 
coefficient in the Russian economy. At the end of 
Catherine's reign, for example, out of 163 factories and 
workshops then existing in Petersburg 35, or 21*47 pe r 
cent., belonged to foreigners, 7 to Englishmen, 7 to 
Frenchmen, 5 to Germans, 3 to Bulgarians, 2 to Italians, 
1 to a Swede, and 10 to persons of unknown origin — 
probably, for the most part, to Germans. In Moscow, 
too, a European colony established itself, consisting 
principally of Germans. 


But the most important result of the ukase of 1763 
was the appearance of immigrants in the agricultural 
regions . 

From 1764 to 1776 a great influx of Rheinlanders 
and Westphalians entered Russia, to found villages on 
the banks of the Volga (in the Governments of Saratov 
and Samara), where they occupied an expanse of terri- 
tory 100 versts in length. In 1783 another wave of 
Europeans penetrated the south of Russia (in the 
Government of Yekaterinoslav), on the banks of the 
Dnieper. It consisted of Mennonites (a Protestant 
sect), half Dutch and half German in origin, who 
established agricultural colonies. 


The immigration of European agriculturists continued 
under Alexander I and Nicolas I. In 1803 a vigorous 
group of Mennonite families set foot in one of the 
Caucasian regions. It was followed by other colonists, 
who at first were exclusively German, and then Czech 
and Bulgar, who established themselves in South- 
western Russia. 

A few figures will show how rapidly Southern Russia 
was peopled with foreign agriculturists. 

In 1775 there were in Russia only 23,000 individual 
colonists. In 1877, a century later, there were 86,000 
families, and in 1905 there were 158,500. In 1877 
they owned 2,894,500 desiatins of land ; in 1905 
3 , 1 9 o, o o o desiatins . l 

The greater part of the agricultural immigrants is 
concentrated in the Governments of Kherson (61,000 
families), Bessarabia (27,500), Samara (21,000), 
Saratov (19,000), Yekaterinoslav [(17,000), and the 
Crimea (11,500). 

Here we are speaking only of agriculturists who have 
become Russian subjects . There are in addition to these 
a certain number of landed proprietors who are foreign 
subjects. In 1905 the number of estates belonging to 
them was 868, and they possessed 350,000 desiatins of 
land. Most of them are large landowners who have 
been able to acquire property in Russia by means of 
their personal connections. 

As for the peasant colonists, we must admit, and all 
writers on the subject will confirm the fact, that their 
economic situation is far superior td that of the Russian 
peasants. For certain economists this phenomenon is 
due to the " individualism " prevailing among the immi- 
grants, whereas the Russian peasants have remained 
attached to the communism of the mir. This theory 
must even, to a certain point, have inspired the famous 
agrarian reform' of the Minister Stolypin (the ukase of 

* I cite these figures from the results of the statistical inquiry into 
landed property in Russia in 1905 (published by the Ministry of the 
Interior, Petersburg, 1907, pp. xxiv-xxvii). 


9/22 November 1906), whose central principle was 
the dissolution of the agricultural commune and the 
substitution of individual exploitation. 

I am not a great admirer of the Russian mir, but I 
must, however, say that the well-being of the immi- 
grants and the poverty of the sons of the soil are not 
imputable to the system of property, but to the difference 
of general conditions to which they are severally subject. 
If the Russian Government, which granted privileges to 
the foreign immigrants, had treated the Russian peasants 
in the same manner, if it had not crushed them by 
taxation, had exempted them from military service, 
and had left them free to administer their own affairs, 
instead of keeping them under the terrible yoke 
of serfdom, we may be sure that they would have 
given equal proof of their capacity for labour and 

On the other hand, we should remark that the land9 
of the colonists are far more extensive than those of the 
Russian moujiks. According to the official inquiry of 
1905, a dvor (court or household) of colonists com- 
prises an average of 20*2 desiatins, while a dvor of 
Russian moujiks comprised only 6 to 9 desiatins ; and 
millions of dvors of Russian moujiks average only 3 to 
4 desiatins. 

This lack of land is the greatest obstacle to the 
development of rural exploitation in Russia. In 
1908 the zemstvo of Samara made a comparative 
statistical inquiry into the state of agriculture within 
its government. It admits that a family of Men- 
nonite colonists possesses an average of 33^ desia- 
tins, while a Russian peasant family possesses only 
7 desiatins. The authors of this inquiry, who are 
greatly in favour of individual exploitation, nevertheless 
remark : — ' ! 

" Only a given quantity of land can maintain the life 
of a Mennonite family at the level of affluence to which 
it is accustomed. With the decrease of territorial 
property begin those troubles which result in diminished 


exploitation and, finally, in the loss of the property 
itself." " 

The same conclusions result from the facts to be 
observed in other parts of Russia : for example, in the 
Government of Kiev, where there are Czech and German 
agricultural colonies. Their prosperity results from the 
fact that their properties are much more extensive than 
those of the moujiks, and are cultivated under different 
legal and social conditions. 2 


The special and favourable treatment of foreign 
colonists proves that Catherine II and her successors 
held the European element in great esteem, but had 
little understanding of the process of " Europeanizing " 
their State. The transformation which they were seek- 
ing could not be obtained by creating oases of European 
culture in the desert of general poverty. What was 
needed was to raise the native population by offering it 
the possibility of living and working as in Europe. 
Their false conception diminished the effects expected 
from Western immigration. And we are always struck 
by the contrast between the European colonies and the 
surrounding Russian countryside. 

Any progress in general politics, on the contrary, has 
made way for a fresh economic impulse, and has added 
to the real Europeanization of Russia. For example, 
the great events of the period 1860-70— the abolition 
of serfdom, the reform of the administration, etc.— gave 
it the strongest impulse. It is enough to say that three- 
fourths of the industrial undertakings to-day existing 
have been born since then. 

However, despite all errors of domestic policy, in- 
creasingly powerful ties were binding Russia to Europe, 

■ Individual Exploitations in the Government of Samara, vol. i. p. 177 
(Samara, 1909). 

• See M. A. Yarochevitch, Essay on the Individual Exploitations in 
the Government of Kiev (extracted from the Inquiry held by the 
Zcmstvo of Kiev). Kiev, 191 1. 


making her inseparable from the international economic 
organism. And all through the nineteenth century we 
may observe an increasingly close correlation between 
the evolution of Russia and that of the countries with 
which she maintained relations. 

To limit ourselves to a single example, let us take the 
textile industry, whose development was continuous 
throughout the nineteenth century, even at times when 
depression and even stagnation prevailed in other 
departments of production . 

In the middle of the eighteenth century the whole 
business of weaving cotton cloths was monopolized in 
Russia by two Englishmen — Chamberlain and Cosens — 
who had a large establishment in Petersburg. Since 
then relations between the Russian textile industry and 
that of England have been unbroken, surviving the 
suppression of the privilege granted to the two English- 
men. During the whole of the nineteenth century a 
remarkable parallelism was observable between the fluc- 
tuations of Russian and English production. All crises 
occurring in the latter were followed by crises in the 
former ; and any recovery or revival 1 was communi- 
cated from the English to the Russian industry, notwith- 
standing Russian protectionism and the very high import 
duties which it placed on woven stuffs. 

Each crisis in the textile industry (for example, that 
of 1820, 1837, 1840, etc.) lowered the price of thread 
and yarns in England, and these were articles imported 
into Russia. A comparison of figures proves the exist- 
ence in Russia of the same state of affairs at the same 
periods. The fall of prices, in its turn, provoked in 
England changes of technical methods, the use of im- 
proved equipment, and the more extensive use of 
machinery, and we find the same process going forward 
at the same time in Russia. " Thus," says Professor 
Toughan-Baranovsky, in commenting upon these facts, 
" the evolution of our textile factory is explained, above 
all, by the. general international conditions of industrial 
evolution. Russia has been caught in the wheels of the 


capitalistic development of England, and has profited 
by the technical successes of the latter." » 

During the second half of the nineteenth century the 
tendency indicated by the history of the textile industry 
became generalized, and affected other important 
branches of Russian production. The alternations of 
progress and arrest in the capitalistic economy were 
almost simultaneous in Russia, in Europe, and in the 
rest of the world. 

iWe might point to other analogies and correlations 
of the same kind between Modern Russia and Europe. 
Some economists (notably J. Hobson in his Evolution 
of Modern Capitalism) declare that all periods of inten- 
sive railway construction in England, on the Continent, 
and in the United States were succeeded by moments 
of economic depression and stagnation. The same phe- 
nomenon appeared in Russia after the attacks of " rail- 
way fever " in the seventh and ninth decades of the 
nineteenth century, when periods of prosperity and 
speculation were terminated by " smashes " ; by the 
ruin and disappearance of dozens of industrial 
enterprises . 

In general it may be said that the industrial and! 
capitalistic economy of Russia lives the same life as 
that of Europe. 

* M. Toughan-Baranovsky, The Russian Factory in the Past and 
Present, vol. i. p. 65 (Petersburg, 1898). 


I. European influence and the national economy of the Russia of 
to-day — The increase of imports and exports — The general char- 
acter of Russia's foreign trade. II. Human immigration from 
Europe into Russia — Its composition. III. The penetration of 
European capital into Russia. IV. Its forms and its dimensions — 
State loans and private industry — National capital and foreign 
capital in Russia. V. The distribution of foreign capital among 
the various branches of industry. VI. German capitalism and its 
influence on the Russian economy. 


Having glanced at the main outlines of the history of 
the economic relations between Russia and Western 
Europe, let us now examine, in a general manner, the 
penetration of the European element into the national 
economy of Russia. 

The total value of the Russian exports and imports 
amounted, on the average, during the first quarter of 
the nineteenth century to 112,300,000 roubles ; from 
1825 to 1849 it was 221,200,000; from 1849 to 
1874, 525,000,000 ; and from 1875 to 1900, 
1,092,000,000. In other words, the commercial move- 
ment of Russia upon the international market increased, 
in a hundred years, by 972 per cent. ; that is, it became 
nearly ten times what it was. And thus Russia's 
isolation with regard to the other Powers became ten 
times less, while her ties with the other nations became 
ten times more solid and complete. 1 

At the beginning of the twentieth century the role and 
the importance of Russia in the exchanges of the world 

1 See my Modern Russia, T. Fisher Unwin, 1914, p. 97. 



continued to increase. During the first five years of this 
century alone the total of her foreign trade increased 
by one-third. In 1905 it reached the sum of 
1,702,000,000 roubles ; in 1910 it amounted to 
2,533,000,000 roubles ; while in 191 3 it amounted 
to 2,690,000,000.' 

These figures are those of the international trade of 
Russia, coming from all sources and going to all desti- 
nations. But most of it passes by way of her European 
frontiers. For the five years between 1907 and 191 1 
inclusive, for example, the goods crossing these fron- 
tiers represented an annual average of 2,083,700,000 
roubles, while the Asiatic frontiers saw the entrance or 
exit of only 202,700,000 roubles' worth of trade, or 
less than one-tenth of the former sum. 

There is no exaggeration in declaring that if, as 
regards political forms, Russia is still far from being 
truly Europeanized, at least her economic ties and 
aspirations bind her far more closely to Europe than 
to Asia. 

What is the merchandise which Russia obtains from 

Alimentary products form the smallest part of the 
Russian imports of European origin, which is natural 
in the case of an agricultural country. In 1902 their 
value amounted to 82,300,000 roubles; in .1912 it 
was 140,200,000 ; so in ten years the increase was 
one of 70 per cent. The imports of " manu- 
factured articles " — industrial products — were valued at 
150,300,000 roubles in 1902 and 375,700,000 in 
191 2 ; this was an increase of 150 per cent. But 
the greater portion of the imports consist of " semi- 
manufactured articles " and the raw materials of indus- 
tries. Of these 295,000,000 roubles' worth were im- 
ported in 1902, and in 191 2 this figure had risen to 
518,000,000; an increase of 75 per cent, for the 
decade . 

■ See the Report of the Minister of Finances on the Budget Pro- 
posals of 1914, Part II, p. 2Q (Petersburg, 1913). 


These figures, taken from the official Report of the 
Minister of Finances on the Budget of 191 4, enable me 
to say that unreservedly to attribute all the advantages 
of the commercial relations between Russia and Europe 
to Europe, and all the disadvantages to Russia, would 
be to fall into hyperbole. 

The better to show that the introduction of foreign 
industrial goods to the Russian market is of secondary 
importance, I will cite two examples : — 

In 19 1 2 there were imported into Russia 2,150,000 
poods of wool, while the home production of wool 
was 13,500,000 poods ; that is, the wool of foreign 
origin formed only 14 per cent, of the total Russian 
consumption (if we regard it as equal to the sum 
of the home production plus the amount imported). 
In the same year, 191 2, 306,000,000 poods of coal 
were imported into Russia, while the country produced 
1,887,000,000 poods, or 87 per cent, of the total con- 

The sole class of products whose importation really 
plays an enormous part in Russia, and in respect of 
which the country remains dependent upon the outer 
world, is machinery, of which in 191 2 there was im- 
ported 146,000,000 roubles' worth, while in 1902 this 
figure was only 51,000,000. But this rapid increase 
of the demand is in itself a fresh proof of the develop- 
ment of national industry, and the promptitude with 
which its technical equipment is being improved. 


The immediate influence of the Europe of to-day is 
not confined to the introduction of merchandise ; it 
manifests itself under two additional forms ; the export, 
into Russia, of men and of capital. 

To realize the character and the extent of human 
immigration we must repair to the results of the census 
of the population of the Russian Empire — the only one, 
alas ! — which was taken in 1897. There we find that 



Russia contained 605,500 foreign subjects, which makes 
$ per cent, of the total population. 

Some writers believe the proportion of foreign subjects 
in Russia to be even less, and give the comparative 
figures of immigration relating to other European 
countries. In Switzerland the number of foreigners 
per 1,000 inhabitants is 77 ; in France, 30 ; in 
Belgium, 24 ; in Holland, 10; in Germany, 9 ; in 
England, 8 ; in Austria-Hungary, 5 ; in Scotland, 4 j 
in the Scandinavian countries, 3 ; in Ireland, 3 ; in 
Italy, 2 ; and in Russia, 1 . 

Even in those parts of Russia which most attract 
him, the foreigner is not very numerous ; in the Cau- 
casus he forms 1*69 per cent, of the total population ; 
in Poland, 115 per cent. ; in Siberia, ro8 per cent. ; 
in Central Russia, 0*2 7 per cent., etc. 

According to race, the foreign subjects in Russia 
were distributed thus : — 

Germans, 158,000; Austro-Hungarians, 121,500; 
Turks, 121,000 ; Persians, 74,000 ; Chinese, 47,500 ; 
Koreans, 13,000; Greeks, 12,500; French, 9,500; 
Bokharans, 8,000 ; English, 7,500 ; Swiss, 6,000 ; 
Italians, 5,000 ; Roumanians, 4,000 ; and others, 

There is a great difference between the immigrants 
of Asiatic and those of European origin, as regards 
their economic functions. M. Ischchanian defines it as 
follows : — 

•' The foreigners entering Russia from the West form, 
in the urban professions and especially in industry, 
trade, and transport— the camp of the contractors, 
the directing and administrative staff of the upper 
strata of the technical and commercial hierarchy, the 
foremen, and, to a less extent, the skilled artisans (this 
almost exclusively in Russian Poland). The foreigners 
of Asiatic origin, on the other hand, go to form, as a 
rule, the middle and inferior strata in such callings as 
that of the small trader, the commercial traveller, the 
manual worker, and above all the great mass of those 


who are known by the specific term of tshernorabotchii 
(that is to say labourers, unskilled workmen)." l 

fWe may say, then, that Russia lies midway between 
Europe and Asia, economically as well as geographi- 
cally. Of the Asiatics she already asks no more than 
simple manual labour ; for Europeans, Russia is a field 
for the employment of their capital and their intellectual 

Of the 605,000 foreigners residing in Russia in 1897, 
244,000 were women. But, as women, economically 
speaking, are for the most part a passive element, 
enjoying no independence, we need hardly consider them 
in our argument, but only the men, who number 

Forty-one per cent, of the foreigners residing in 
Russia in 1897 were living in towns ; 59 per cent, in 
the country. Now, of the total population of the Empire 
the inhabitants of the towns, in 1897, formed only 25 
per cent. It is obvious that in Russia the foreigner 
furnishes a far larger proportion of urban inhabitants 
than the native population. But an even more interest- 
ing fact is that 30 per cent, of all the immigrants are 
gathered together in the four great cities : Petrograd, 
Moscow, Odessa, and Warsaw. 

However, all the foreign nationalities represented in 
the Empire have not an equal predilection for urban 
life : the Germans, the Czechs, and the Bulgars prefer 
to settle outside the towns. Of the Austro-Hungarian 
subjects 77 per cent, live in the country, as do 58 per 
cent, of the Germans and 57 per cent, of the Bulgars. 
This fact is due to the numerous German, Czech, and 
Bulgarian colonies in the south of Russia and on the 
banks of the Volga. More than three-fourths of the 
French in Russia, on the other hand (82 per cent.), are 
town-dwellers, and 80 per cent, of the English, 60 per 
cent, of the Belgians, and 78 per cent, of the Italians. 

As for their professions, the French and English 

1 This word is made up of two words : isherny = black, and rabola 
= labour. 


are mostly engaged in trade and industry ; of ioo 
" active " Frenchmen, 44 are engaged in industry ; 20 
in trade and transport ; 28 are servants, while 5 are 
farmers and 3 are engaged in other callings. The 
English furnish 48 technical or industrial experts per 
100 ; 28 are engaged in trade, 28 are servants, etc., 
while only 1 per cent, are farmers. Of the German 
subjects the farmers form a much greater proportion — 
22 per cent, ; while 32 per cent, are engaged in industry 
and 11 per cent, in trade. 

The proportion of those engaged in trade and industry 
is relatively much larger among the foreigners than 
among the native inhabitants, the same census giving 
12 per cent, as the proportion of the latter engaged in 
industry, while 5^ per cent, are engaged in trade and 
70 per cent, in agriculture. 


But it is by the penetration of capital that Europe 
exerts the most powerful influence in Russia, for it is 
through the foreigner's money and his novel forms of 
capitalistic exploitation that the old state of things is 
undergoing the most profound upheaval. 

European capital enters Russia in three distinct ways : 
through the creation in Russia of industrial under- 
takings by Europeans, whether by private persons or 
companies ; through the participation of European 
capital in undertakings organized by the Russians, 
whether singly or in association ; and through loans 
raised by Russian municipalities, or the State, in 
European markets ; the municipal loans being devoted, 
as a rule, to various public works in the cities (tram- 
ways, waterworks, etc.) ; of the latter (that is, the 
State loans), only a portion profits private industry, 
through the medium of official contracts, payment of 
which is assured by these loans ; the greater portion 
goes to defray the costs of administration. 

It is not easy to determine the total sum of the 
European capital engaged in industry and the Russian 


loans. M. Ischchanian claims that at the beginning 
of the twentieth century it was 7,145,600,000 roubles, 
of which 4,400,000,000 was French, 1,920,000,000 
German, 372,000,000 English, and 253,000,000 
Belgian, while 200,000,000 came from other European 
countries. But M. Ischchanian's calculations are very, 
inexact ; in reality the European interests in Russia 
are considerably greater. 

Thus, according to the data given in 191 2 by the 
French review, Le Correspondant, France alone had 
17, milliards of francs invested in Russia, or 
£680,000,000.1 M. A. Neymarck asserts that Eng- 
land, by 1907, had £180,000,000 invested in Russia, 
£80,000,000 of this being in State loans. Of the 
680,000,000 sterling owed to France, £424,400,000 
has been absorbed by external State loans, and 
£53,600,000 by internal loans; £16,000,000 by. the 
loans issued by the various governments and muni- 
cipalities, and £190,000,000 by industrial under- 
takings. 2 

In this connection a Russian economist makes the 
very justifiable remark that " the economic dependence 
of Russia in respect of foreign countries is principally 
manifested by the indebtedness of the State," and that 
" in comparison, the sums loaned to Russian trade and 
industry appear insignificant." 3 

.While readily admitting the justice of the comparison, 
we must, however, admk that the absolute r61e of Euro- 
pean capital in Russian industry is very considerable. 
And what is even more important is that of late it has 
been rapidly increasing. Before 1890 there were only 
16 shareholders' companies operating in Russia with 
funds of foreign origin. Between 1891 and 1900 no 

1 In 1914, a few months before the war, Russia had arranged for 
a new State loan in Paris, of the sum of ;£ 100,000,000, the first 
instalment of which ( £20,000,000) was issued the same year. 

* Le Correspondant, December 25, 1913, p. 1050. 

3 A. Finn-Yenotaevsky, Sovremennoye Khozidistvo Rossii (The Modern 
Economy of Russia), Petersburg, 191 1, p. 481. 


less than 215 were promoted ; between 1900 and 19 10, 
160 more; and 82 between 1911 and 1 9 1 3. In this 
last period 774 companies were founded with Russian 
capital. Thus one-fifth of the new undertakings origi- 
nating in a term of three years were the work o.f 
foreigners. In reality the latter have contributed even 
more considerably to the development of Russian 
industry ; for the average share-capital of the foreign 
companies was 1,736,000 roubles per company, while 
the average share-capital per Russian company was 
1,220,000 roubles. 

In order correctly to appreciate the rdle of foreign 
capital in Russian industry we must compare it not 
with the external indebtedness of the State, but rather 
with the national revenue and the national capital. 

Here is an example : — 

In 19 10 the annual revenue of all the industrial 
and commercial undertakings in Russia (counting only 
those whose income was over 1,000 roubles) was 
856,000,000 roubles. The total of the foreign capital 
invested in authorized shareholders' companies in the 
year 191 1 was 80,000,000 roubles. Supposing that 
the Russian capitalists were in a position to devote 
even 50 per cent, of their revenue to the creation of fresh 
undertakings, we see that they, could invest some 
400,000,000 roubles, that is, only, five times the foreign 
capital invested in the same year. 


By the figures already cited the reader will have 
seen that Europe exerts, on the Russia of to-day, a 
considerable economic influence ; but it is not true that 
Russia is completely dependent upon Europe. The 
Russian Empire is no longer economically isolated, 
though it has not lost its autonomy. 

However, we must not overlook certain specific traits 
of European participation in Russian affairs. 

In the first place, we must note that relatively, speak- 
ing the foreign industrial undertakings in Russia are 


more vigorous than the Russian. For example, the 
capital of the shareholders' companies of European 
origin established in Russia between 1 9 1 1 and 1 9 1 3 
averaged 1,736,000 roubles per company, while the 
average capital of the Russian companies founded during 
the same period was only 1,222,000 roubles. Compe- 
tition, therefore, is a difficult matter for the Russian 

The situation as regards national capital is compli- 
cated by the distribution of foreign capital through- 
out the various branches of industry. The most im- 
portant branches — for instance, metallurgy, coal-mining, 
weaving, etc. — are largely under the control of European 

Here are some significant facts and figures : — 

In the basin of Southern Russia, at the beginning 
of the twentieth century, 75 per cent, of the coal pro- 
duced came from 1 5 large concerns, of which two- 
thirds, furnishing 62 per cent, of the annual yield, 
belonged to Europeans. In the Dombrova mines, in 
Poland, out of 1 3 large undertakings 6 are the property 
of foreigners, yielding 86 per cent, of the total pro- 

As for iron, we find the same state of affairs. For 
example, in the basin of the Donetz, at the beginning 
of the twentieth century, out of 23 large steelworks, 
only 2 were the property of Russians ; 1 5 are the 
property of foreigners, or " mixed " companies in which 
the foreign element predominates. 

At Baku, once more, the foreign domination is indis- 
putable. In 1909 Baku exported 371,932,500 poods 
of petroleum and by-products, the yield of 45 enter- 
prises. But more than 45 per cent, of this quantity, 
or 167,982,000 poods, represented the contribution of 
5 great companies of European ownership. 

As for the textile industry, one of the first fields to 
be invaded by foreign capital, it already boasts of a 
few centres, particularly in the region of Moscow, in 
which it has become fairly Russianized', and most of 


the names of foreign origin borne by the heads of 
industrial houses in this part of Russia are the names 
of Russian subjects. But in other parts the weaving 
of fabrics is almost entirely controlled by foreign 
capital. Such is notably the case at Lodz, in Poland, 
and in the surrounding district. 

These facts enable us to state without exaggeration 
that European capital is still a very great power in 
the principal departments of Russian production. 

.Which nations provide the capital that feeds Russian 

In the metallurgical industry, British, Belgian, and 
French capital predominates. The real creator of 
metallic exploitation in the Donetz region was an Eng- 
lishman, the famous John Hughes, who was also the 
pioneer of coal-mining in the European manner in the 
same region. The memory of this energetic pioneer 
is perpetuated in the name of one of the leading in- 
dustrial centres of Southern Russia, Youzovka (Hughes 
being pronounced as Youz in Russian, hence Youzovka, 
" the town of Youz "). 

After him some French capitalists established them- 
selves in the Donetz region, at Krivoi Rog (in 1880). 
Ten years later a well - known Belgian company, 
Cockerill & Co., established a large works near the 
town of Yekaterinoslav. A host of industrial promoters 
of various nationalities followed them, among whom 
were even Americans, but the principal contributions 
of foreign capital to the industries of Southern Russia 
were due to English, French, and Belgian investors. 

The petroleum industry in the Caucasus is the work 
of Swedish and English capital. A Swede, Robert 
Nobel, arriving in Baku in 1877, established, five years 
later, a company for the production of petroleum, which, 
as far as Russia was concerned, effected a veritable 
revolution in the industry and gave new life to a 
whole region. In 1886 the house of Rothschild (of 
Paris) joined Nobel on the Apcheron peninsula, there 
to conduct, with him, the " petroliferous apostolate." 


It treated with the English house of Lane and 
McAndrew for the exportation of the product on com- 
mission. From that moment there was an influx of 
English capital for the exploitation of Russian petroleum. 
The English were able not only to buy most of the 
enterprises already existing in Baku and the district, 
but have also monopolized nearly all those which have 
since been undertaken. 

German capital has been attracted by the mines 
and foundries of Poland (at Sosnowice and Dombrova), 
where the first large works were established, between 
1856 and 1863, by Count Renard and Major von 
Kramsta, who came from Prussia. But it has since 
then been attracted more especially by the textile 
industry, which, although it was introduced by British, 
Dutch, and French capitalists, none the less received 
a powerful impulse at the hands of a German, Ludwig 
Knoop, who came to Moscow in 1 8 3 9 as the repre- 
sentative of an English house, and there established, 
first with the assistance of British capitalists, but after- 
wards independently, 122 weaving-sheds in the regions 
of Petersburg and Moscow. A popular proverb 
enshrines his memory : Gdie tserkov, tarn pop, gdie 
fabrika, tarn Knoop — '•* Where there is a church, there 
is a pope ; where there is a factory, there is a Knoop," 
and the addition is sometimes made : " Gdie" izba, 
tam klop — " Where there is an inn there are bugs." 

But to-day, as I have already stated, the role of 
German capital in the textile industry of Central Russia 
has decreased. In Poland, on the other hand, it is 
enormous ; and the city of Lodz is not Polish, but 
half German. 


We shall now touch upon a particularly serious 
question : the weight and the tendency which each 
of the foreign elements exerts upon the economic system 
of Russia. 

In the industrial undertakings of the country the 


French and English are first. But this is not the case 
with the general economic relations of Russia with 
Europe — that is, when we come to deal not merely 
with the investment of European capital in Russian 
industries, but also with the commercial exchanges 
between Russia and the various countries of Europe, 
and the loans concluded by the Russian State in the 
various European money markets. As to loans, France 
occupies an exceptional position. She has lent 
the Russian Empire 1 0*617, milliards of francs 
(£424,000,000) in external loans and 1*344 milliards 
(£53,760,000) in domestic loans, besides the 
310,000,000 (£12,400,000) lent to the zemstvos and 
municipalities, and without counting the so-called 
v railway loan " of 500,000,000 (£20,000,000) con- 
cluded before the present war and the military loans 
issued in the course of the war. 

But the commercial exchanges between France and 
Russia leave much to be desired, and in this respect 
Germany is ahead of France. 

*•' Towards the middle of the nineteenth century the 
commercial transactions, exportation and importation, 
between France and Russia on the one hand and Russia 
and Germany on the other, were of almost equal dimen- 
sions ; the average at this period (between 1841 and 
1850) was 74,000,000 francs (nearly £3,000,000) for 
France and 85,000,000 (£3,400,000) for Germany, 
the inequality being relatively unimportant. The pro- 
gressive development, in the latter half of the nine- 
teenth century, of the trade exchanges between Russia 
and the rest of Europe had as its basis the Russian 
customs tariff, which was uniform for goods of what- 
ever origin, yet to-day > Germany has reached, in respect 
of her exports to Russia, an annual average of 
500,600,000 francs, or £20,024,000, her imports from 
Russia being valued at 426,000,000, or £16,800,000, 
while the French exports to Russia stand at 66,660,000 
francs, or £2,666,000, and the imports at 168,000,000 
francs or £6,7,20,000. 

* In the last years of the nineteenth century. 


" Thus in the last fifty years the German trade with 
Russia has grown to eleven and a half times what it was, 
while the French trade is only three times what it was." » 

Such was the situation at the end of the last century. 
At the beginning of the twentieth century the trade 
relations between France and Russia are shown by 
the following figures : — 

Exports from Russia Exports from Franco 

Year*. to France (in to Russia (in 

millions of francs). millions of francs). 

i^ 1 ^ i57'5 7 1 " 8 

1908 171-8 88-3 

i9°9 2370 130-3 

1910 2489 1580 

These figures, taken from the statistics published 
by the Russian Customs Administration, are published 
by M. A. Giraud, Secretary to the Russian Chamber 
of Commerce in Paris. 2 To permit of a comparison, 
M. Giraud also gives some statistics of German trade 
in Russia. From these we see that " the trade relations 
between France and Russia, compared to those of 
Germany, are deplorable." This will be seen by the 
following table, which gives the proportion of French 
and German exports to Russia as compared with the 
total sum of Russian imports : — 


German exports to 

Russia (per cent, of total 

Russian Imports). 

French exports to 

Russia (per cent, of ti 

Russian imports), 

I90I-5 ... 



I906-IO ... 












The absolute figures are no more consoling to French 
trade. "While in five years (1908-12) the German 
imports have risen from 331 to 519 million roubles, 
the French imports have increased only from 35 to 
55 millions. The customs tariff is still the same for 

1 M. Halperine-Kaminsky, France et Russie: Alliance iconomique, 
Paris, E. Flammarion, pp. 4-9. 
* A. Giraud, Le Commerce exterieur de la Russie, Paris, 1915, p. 10. 


all countries ; and the question of distance cannot 
be invoked as a reason for this inferiority, since Austria- 
Hungary, which has a common frontier with Russia, 
comes far below France, while, on the other hand, 
the United States, which are ten times as distant, show 
very much larger figures ; in 1 9 1 2, for example, 
85*7 million roubles, as against 552 for France." ■ 

The commercial superiority of Germany is crushing, 
not only with regard to France, but also as compared 
with the other countries of Europe. The following 
figures prove this for the years 1908 and 191 3 : — 

Russian Exports to Various Countries, 1908 
(England excepted) a 

1908. 1913. 

(in millions of roubles) 452*6 









1 1-4 



Russian Imports from Various Countries 
(England excepted) 

I908. 101.1- 

(in millions of roubles) 6427 

1 6*9 

Germany ... • 

.. 278-9 


- 93'5 

France 2 

... 64-6 

Austria- Hungary 

.. 49-0 


- 34"4 


... 299 


•• 315 


... 21-5 


... 128 




... 5-8 




.. 331-8 


- 357 

Austria- Hungary 



.. n-5 








.. 87 




... 87 

1 A. Giraud, op. cit. p. 17. 

* The figures relating to France do not entirely coincide with the per- 
centage already cited. This is due to the fact that they arc drawn from 
different sources — the reports of the French and of the Russian Customs. 


The United States, in 1908, exported 75-4 million 
roubles' worth of goods to Russia and imported 
goods to the value of 2*8 million roubles. In 191 3 
the exports were 74*1 millions and the imports 
14*1 millions. 

As for England, her place on the Russian market 
is far larger than that of the other European countries, 
excepting Germany. 

England's imports from Russia in 1908 were 220*1 
million roubles and in 191 3, 2 2 6' 8 millions ; her 
exports to Russia in 1908 were 119*9 millions and in 
191 3, 170*3 millions. A comparison of these figures 
with those of Russo-German trade shows that in this 
period of five years (1908-13) the German exports to 
Russia increased by 311,000,000 roubles, while the 
British exports increased by only 50,000,000, making 
the relative increase respectively 193 per cent, and 
41 per cent. 

It appears, therefore, undeniably that, as far as 
Russia at least is concerned, the German lamentations 
as to British competition are without foundation. Far 
from being prevented by England from making colossal 
conquests on the Russian markets, it is the Germans 
who little by little are ousting all their competitors, 
and are doing their best to monopolize the market. 


What are the causes of the commercial supremacy 
of Germany in Russia? 

In the first place, geographical proximity, which 
favours penetration. We have already seen that for 
9,421 French and 7,481 English subjects the census 
of 1897 numbered 158,103 German subjects who had 
immigrated into Russia. But we must not forget that 
besides these Germans who are still German subjects 
there are the inhabitants of the Baltic provinces, the 
farmers of the Volga basin and Southern Russia, and 
so forth. According to the census of 1897, the 
inhabitants of Russia whose mother-tongue was German 



made a total of 1,790,500 persons, who to-day must 
have increased to at least 2,000,000. 

Contiguity facilitates the economic Germanization of 
Russian Poland. It also facilitates commercial ex- 
changes. At the beginning of the nineteenth century 
the foreign trade of Russia was carried mostly by sea : 
from 1802 to 1804 88 per cent, of the exports and 
78 per cent, of the imports went by sea. A century 
later, on the other hand, a considerable part of this 
trade — a third of the exports and half the imports — 
was already crossing the terrestrial frontiers, and the 
greater portion of it the German frontier. Germany 
also possesses a very large part of the maritime trade 
of Russia, thanks to the proximity of the German 
and Russian ports on the Baltic Sea. 

The Russian customs tariffs are the same, or almost 
the same, for all countries, and they are extremely 
high (on an average they amount almost to a third 
part of the value of the merchandise). Nevertheless, 
German industry has invaded the Russian market and 
has easily beaten all competitors, without excepting 
the English, as is shown by the following figures, 
published by the Russian Professor Goldstein, one of 
the best authorities on this subject. 1 


Russian imports from 

Germany (per cent, of 

total imports). 

Russian imports from 

England (per cent, of 

total imports). 

I 898-1902 












1912 ... 




I913 ... 




J an .-June 




The geographical conditions, and even the advantages 
of the Russo-German commercial treaty in 1904 and 
the complaisance of the Germanophile and reactionary 
bureaucracy, are not sufficient to explain the triumph 
of the Germans in our country. 

1 See his article on The German Yoke in the Rousskoie" Slcvo for the 
27th January, 1915, Moscow. 


The real cause of this is to be found in the special 
system adopted by the German industrial syndicates : 
the system of "export bounties," which permits them 
not only to face the import duties, but even to sell 
their products more cheaply abroad than at home. 

Here are some of the results thus obtained : — 

In 1909 the Rheinland-Westphalia Coal Mines 
Syndicate sold in France a large quantity of coal at 
15 francs 50 per ton. Import duties and expenses of 
transport being deducted, this coal was sold at 
5 marks 21, while on the German market it was 
selling, at the same moment, for 10 marks 50, or 
double the price. At the end of 1900 a German 
syndicate of wire-drawers (the wire in question being 
employed in making nails) decided to fix the price 
of their product at 185 marks per ton for Germany 
and 115 marks for the foreign market. The German 
alcohol distillers' syndicate, or Spiritusring, sold its 
product (in 1904 and later) at 22 marks the hecto- 
litre in Germany and 1 1 marks in London. 1 

The Germans make use of this system in exporting 
their goods to Russia, where it has won an even easier 
victory than in countries which are, economically speak- 
ing, ahead of Russia, such as France and England. 

With the help of export bounties and various other 
measures, Germany has thus made a rapid conquest 
of the Russian market, from which she has ousted all 

In 1902 the Russian Ministry of Finances published 
an official note, in which it characterized the work of the 
German industrial syndicates in the following terms : — 

" The policy of exporting merchandise at prices lower 
than those of the home market is extremely painful 
and disastrous to those countries which have to suffer 
its employment, as it ruins the native industry. . . . 
There is to-day only one means of struggling against 

1 These figures are taken from a recent Russian work by M. Gold- 
stein : The War of the German Syndicates, Russian Exports, and the 
Economic Isolation 0/ Germany (Moscow, 1916). 


the evil of cheap goods exported by these syndicates : 
it is, to defend native industry by increasing the customs 
duties. But this means, to which the Russian Govern- 
ment has been forced to resort, has its disadvantages 
and its dangers as regards native industry, as it implies 
frequent modifications of the customs tariffs and an 
exaggerated system of protection. . . . Besides, this 
increase of the tariff is unjust ; provoked by the actions 
of the syndicates of one or of several countries, it 
penalizes all the foreign States, which to-day are all 
bound together by economic treaties." » 

Thus the stratagems of the German exporters' syndi- 
cates damage not Russian industry alone, but that of 
other countries. Moreover, the German population itself 
is forced to submit to an artificial increase of prices 
in order to provide the syndicates with the means of 
carrying on their system of forced exports at low prices. 

Yet another consideration presents itself. As I have 
explained in my Russia and the Great War, 2 the general 
character of the economic relations between the two 
countries reveals an obvious tendency on the part of 
Germany to make Russia her colony. I will not repeat 
what I said in the aforesaid work ; I merely wish 
to draw the reader's attention to a peculiarity which 
is by no means understood. A great difference is to 
be remarked in the relations between Germany and 
Russia : Russia imports from Germany principally manu- 
facture d goods and exports raw materials. This is to 
say that German industry buys its raw materials at a low 
price from Russia and sells them' after manufacturing 
them. This is precisely the function of a metropolis. 

Such a conception of exchange is contrary to any 
real economic M Europeanization " of Russia, for this 
process cannot be conceived without the free co-opera- 
tion of all the European factors in the interior of the 
country, followed by the free development of the forces 
of indigenous capitalism, which would gradually acquire 
European forms. 

• See the Financial Messenger (Petersburg, 1902, No. 25). 

• Russia and the Great War, trans. B. Miall, T. Fisher Unwin, 1915. 




I. Is the Russian people warlike ? II. A little philology and arithmetic 


All those who are familiar with the masses of the 
Russian people are unanimous in declaring that they are 
devoid of warlike aspirations and fundamentally pacific. 

The popular poetry and religion of Russia, for 
example, are remarkable for the profound love of peace 
which has penetrated them from birth, and lias sur- 
vived into our own times. This love of peace is 
revealed by even the most ancient manifestations of 
the popular genius. 

" After the end of paganism, as before it, warlike 
subjects play not the smallest sensible part in the 
religious thought of the mass of the Russian people. 
The Russian Olympus is distinguished by the profoundly 
peaceable, and, if we may say so, the civilian character 
of its divinities. This is particularly striking if we 
compare it with the Olympus of the ancient Greeks, 
or with the world of the ancient Germanic or Scandi- 
navian divinities. Instead of Pallas- Athene, protected 
by her cuirass, pagan Russia had her Moist Earth- 
Mother, and Christian Russia her Saint Sophia, the 
Most Wise, whose only weapon is her gentle wisdom. 
Instead of Jupiters and Neptunes waging war among 
themselves and upon humanity, we find, in ancient 
Russia, Voloss, the protector of flocks and herds, and 
Peroun, of whose bellicose tendencies no record has 
survived ; while the forests of ancient Greece were 
the dwelling-place of Diana Huntress, with her bow 



and arrows, the forests of pagan and Christian Russia 
are peopled with Roussalkas, into which young girls 
are transformed ' who do not die at their death,' and 
who dance their rounds in the soft moonlight. 

" Although, in these pagan beliefs of the Russian 
Slav, or in the tales and legends of his modern 
descendant, we sometimes witness the appearance of 
some sanguinary being, who slays men and is thirsty 
for their blood, this is neither a god nor a goddess, 
but an ' impure force.' 

" When the pagan divinities of the Russian Slavs, 
being Christianized, assumed a new vesture and a new 
exterior, becoming the God and the Saints of Christ- 
ianity, they did not on that account lose their pacific 
character. For example, let us take St. George, the 
type of the warrior-saint. Of the steel-clad warrior, 
lance in hand, mounted on his great charger, the Russian 
peasant has made a peaceable and useful auxiliary 
of his laborious life. He has given St. George the 
care of the village pasture. 

"In the spring of each year, on the 23rd of April 
(Russian style), which is St. George's Day, the peasants 
of all Russia leave in the fields their herds of co\vs> 
their horses, and their sheep, exhausted by the 
long winter sojourn in the byre. Early in the morning 
of this day the peasants and their womenfolk make 
the round of the sown fields, begging St. George ' to 
rise early in the morning, to open the soil and to 
sprinkle the dew on the rebellious barley with its fine 
ears and beautiful grains.' Then they let out their 
flocks and herds, which they drive with branches of 
willow blessed in the church, and pray to ' the kindly 
George to guard their herds in the fields and the woods 
from the greedy, wolf, the cruel bear, and every evil 

" A village shepherd, a farmer instead of a knight ! 
Such is the metamorphosis undergone by the tradi- 
tional figure of St. George when the saint found his 
way into the midst of the Russian peasantry ! 


" Pacific sentiments and a natural aversion from war 
are to be found also in the Russian proverbs, which 
realize plainly that ' war loves blood,' but that ' blood 
is not water,' and, consequently, that ' a bad peace is 
better than a good war.' " ■ 

When we come to look into the heroic Russian epopee 
— the epic of the bylinas — we shall expect to find a 
warlike element. But, in reality, even in these essen- 
tially warlike songs pacifism is predominant, and the 
warriors give way before the labourers, the peaceful 
workers. One of the bylinas represents an encounter 
between Volga Vseslavitch, a proud and noble knight, 
and Mikoula Selianinovitch, a peasant and a tiller of 
the soil, who triumphs over Volga even without a fight. 

"Mikoula is the rustic Hercules. . .. . The Russian 
epic is perhaps the only one (save the Finnish epic, the 
Kalevala) in which a great heroic part is played by a 
tiller of the soil " — so M. Alfred Rambaud remarks in 
his book, La Russie E pique. "It is by this above all 
that we realize that the bylinas were made by the people 
and for the people. The French chansons des gestes, 
for example, are of a more aristocratic character ; our 
trouveres thought before all else of their auditors, 
barons and noble warriors ; never would they have 
dreamed of humiliating them before a base-born 
hero." 2 

The same comparison may be made between the 
Russian epic and the German epic. 

" In the Germanic epopee Thor, the patron of the 
toilers, is constantly overridden by Odin, the warrior ; 
it is just the contrary in the Slav epic." 

The best loved and the most popular hero of the 
Russian bylinas is Ilya Mourometz, the peasant's son 
— this is the epithet which invariably, accompanies Ilya's 

' Quoted from my article La Guerre et les soldats dans la poisie popu- 
laire Russe, in La Revue de Paris, 1916. 

3 Alfred Rambaud, La Russie Epique (p. 37). This work was pub- 
lished forty years ago (in 1876), but it has remained to this day one of 
the best works on the history of the poetry of ancient Russia. 


name in all the bylinas, as the epithet Selianinovitch— 
meaning " the villager " or " the son of the villager " — 
accompanies the name of Mikoula. 

Ilya, the peasant's son, who performs a great number 
of varied exploits, commences by a rustic exploit— by 
tilling the soil. Having received from his father, the 
aged peasant, the commandment " to plot nothing 
against the Tartar, not to kill the Christian on the bare 
plain," and to busy himself " with good and not with 
evil works," Ilya strives religiously to observe this 
commandment. He uses his strength only to struggle 
against evil and injustice, to defend his country against 
enemies from without. He is a peasant warrior, who 
seeks neither aggression nor conquest, and who accepts 
battle only as a means of legitimate defence. 

War, in the Russian bylinas, is as a rule accepted 
only as a means of defence ; indeed, the bylinas repre- 
sent it only as such. No doubt the poetry of the popu- 
lace considered it unworthy to sing of offensive war. 
The hero of the Russian bylinas is above all the 
defender of his native soil, but by no means the con- 
queror of foreign territory ; he is the guardian of his 
people's independence, but by no means the oppressor 
of other peoples. 

If my readers will permit me a brief incursion into 
the domain of philology, I would call their attention to 
a very curious fact : the terms which serve to denote 
the heroes of the Russian bylinas are not of Russian 
origin. Bogatyr and vitiaz, which are equivalent to 
the words " valiant knight," or preux chevalier, are 
derived, the one from the Turco-Mongolian words batyr 
or bat our, bagadour or baghatoar, and the other from 
the Scandinavian word viking. Certainly, to denote 
the heroes of whom they sing the bylinas also employ 
the two words polenitsa and khorobre or khrabrc ; 
but these two words have not a specially warlike sig- 
nificance. The first signifies "giant," "man of great 


size " ; the second (which we find again in the modern 
adjective khrabryi) means "courageous or virile man." 
As for bogatyr and vitiaz, they have a more definitely 
bellicose and aggressive meaning. Now, both are of 
foreign origin ; the one comes from the Turco-Mongols, 
against whom the Slavs of Russia fought for ages ; the 
second from the Scandinavians, or Variags, who, accord- 
ing to the legend, as we know, were the first political 
and military organizers to enter Russia. 

We cannot but regard as characteristic the fact that 
the first words denoting the warrior by vocation in the 
ancient Russian epic are non-Russian words, taken from 
foreign tongues, so that the ancient Russian vocabulary 
evidently has no special term to denote the professional 
soldier. It is obvious, then, that this calling did not 
play any important part in the life of the ancient Russian 

Lastly, I would remark that the foreign elements still 
have a very perceptible and even a preponderant in- 
fluence on the ulterior development of the military 
forces in Russia. We can follow and estimate this 
influence by studying the composition and the history, 
of the Russian vocabulary in the seventeenth and 
eighteenth centuries, which were those during which 
the Russian regular army was being organized, and 
which enriched the language with a host of terms which 
were nearly all borrowed from foreign vocabularies. 
The names of nearly all ranks or grades, from the 
simple soldat to the gueneralanchef and the gueneral- 
issimus are taken from the French or German ; as are 
unteroffitzer and feldfebel, kaptendrmus and bombardir, 
grenader and dragoun, goussar and feierwerker. The 
pupils of the secondary military colleges are known as 
kadety (cadets) ; those of the officers' schools are 
junkerd. The officer who carries orders for a general 
or colonel is the adjutant, and the soldier who fulfils 
the same function for an officer is an or dinar etz. The 
terms which denote the different arms of the service 
are also of foreign origin: such are artilleriia, kaval- 


Uriia, sapiory (sappers), and those which serve to denote 
various military constructions : such as bastidn, shdntzy 
(from the German schanzen), fortifikdtsiya, etc. Of 
alien origin also are the terms denoting the institutions 
of the medical service and the military supply service: 
gdspital, lazaret, intendantsvo, etc. 1 

But I must not linger over these details, although 
they are interesting and worthy of attention. 

In confining myself to these few brief hints and 
returning to the general problem, I must remark that 
the pacific mentality of the Russian people has been pre- 
served by the labouring masses down to our own day, 
and we shall find it, for example, in the ideology of the 
numerous religious sects of our times. While still a 
pagan, the Russian Slav had not, among his gods, any 
god of war analogous to the Greek Ares or the Roman 
Mars. Having become a Christian, he attributed pacific 
characteristics even to those of the Christian saints 
whom the West had endowed with a bellicose character. 
The religious strata of the mass of the Russian people 
had no need of a god of war, cruel, vindictive, mur- 
derous, and destructive. In the profoundest manifes- 
tations of their religious sense and their poetical genius 
they have constantly introduced an element of hostility 
to war, an ideal of peace (which in general, however, 
has admitted of defensive war), and very large numbers 
of Russian sectarians have paid by imprisonment or 
deportation for the crime of preferring the god of peace 
to the god of war. 

The natural pacifism of the Russian people, which is 
attested even by military specialists (for example, by 
General Kuropatkin in his Memoirs of the Russo- 
Japanese, is of great importance in that it facili- 

1 However, some military terms have for some time been originated 
from Russian words. Such, for example, is the onomatopoeic fushka, 
for cannon. The common soldier is known as riadovol, from riad 
(rank) ; the sentinel is called tshassovol, from the word tshas (hour), 
etc. The machine gun has been newly baptized : it is known as the 
pulcmidt, from pulia (bullet), and metal (to throw) ; and so forth. 


tates the possibility of establishing amicable relations 
between Russia and other nations. It is an incontest- 
able fact that after a war fought by Russia against 
this or that other nation, our people retains no resent- 
ment, no hatred of its recent enemy, and is ready on 
the morrow of a sanguinary conflict to treat him as 
a friend. 

The Russian people is a pacific people, and yet its 
history is full of wars. In the last two centuries — the 
eighteenth and the nineteenth, to confine ourselves to 
these — no less than 128 years and 4 months were times 
of armed conflict, which leaves 7 1 years and 8 months 
of peace. Of the 35 wars which Russia fought during 
these two centuries, 2 were internal and 33 were 
external. Twenty-two were wars of conquest, their 
object being the extension of the national territory, 
and these inflicted upon the nation 101 years of war- 
fare. Four were purely defensive wars ; these lasted 
4^ years. The rest were of a mixed or special 
character, and absorbed only 10 years. As for the 
internal wars (in the Caucasus and in Asia), these lasted 
65 years. 

This long succession of wars called to arms at least 
ten millions of men (according to the official statistics, 
which in this case are not inclined toward exaggera- 
tion 1), and a third part of them was lost. 1 

We shall concern ourselves, in the present work, only 
with those of Russia's wars which were waged against 
European States, or which were connected with the 
problems of Europeanizing Russian life. 

' General Kuropatkin, Memoirs of the Russo-Japanese War, ch. i. 


I. The struggle for the shores of the Baltic Sea as a " window facing 
Europe"— The Livonian wars of the fifteenth and sixteenth 
centuries. II. The "Period of Disturbances "—The wars of the 
seventeenth century— The Russo-Swedish War under Peter the 
Great — Its results and its influence. 


From the beginnings of her history down to the end of 
the fifteenth century, when (in 1480) she shook off the 
" Tartar yoke," to which she had been subjected for 
more than two hundred years, Russia was confronted, 
in the south and the south-east, by the invasions of the 
Asiatic tribes, which rose again and again in gigantic 
waves. But the moment she was free from the Tartar 
dominion she resolutely turned her arms and her 
diplomacy against her Western enemies and neigh- 
bours ; for the first time she was really in contact with 

On this side she at first encountered Livonia, then in 
the hands of the Livonian Order, and allied against 
Russia with Lithuania and Poland. 

The real conflict with Livonia, however, commenced 
only later, under Ivan the Terrible, whose Government 
had set itself the definite aim of winning ports (Narva 
and Reval) on the Baltic Sea. Thus the desire to 
possess a " window open upon Europe," which is always 
attributed to Peter the Great, very obviously existed 
in the mind of his terrible ancestor, who was a tyrant 
to his subjects, but who was very well aware of Russia's 
need of relations with the Western world. 

So Russia's " love affair with Europe " began mid- 



way through the sixteenth century ; and it still survives, 
after passing through alternate periods of diplomatic 
negotiation and military activity to the impulses of 
affection and of passionate and disinterested sympathy 
which the elite of Russia conceived for "the West." 

" The object of the Livonian War was to gain posses- 
sion of commercial highways. . . . Subsequent events 
have proved that for Russia the possibility of a process 
of economic evolution, however it might advance, was 
almost entirely subordinated to the existence of direct 
relations with the more progressive nations of Europe. 
Contemporaries felt and expressed this very plainly. 
The port of Narva (Narew), which remained in Russian 
hands even after her first losses, seriously preoccu- 
pied our competitors. ' The Muscovite sovereign is daily 
augmenting his power by the acquisition of objects 
imported through Narva,' wrote the Polish king, in 
his embarrassment, to Elizabeth, Queen of England, 
seeking to divert the English from trading with 
Moscow ; ' for they import by this route not only 
merchandise, but also weapons which to him (Ivan 
IV) were unknown before. . . . Hitherto we have been 
able to conquer him because he was without learning 
and knew nothing of the arts. But if the trade with 
Narva continues, what will remain unknown to him? ' 
In Moscow, too, this was understood ; and as the port 
of Narva was only a narrow wicket-gate opening upon 
the West, they wished to acquire a wider path of access 
by seizing one of the large ports of the Baltic Sea. But 
the repeated attempts to conquer Reval (in 1570 and 
1577) ended merely in a war with Sweden, in which 
the Muscovites lost even Narva— and also its Russian 
suburb, Ivangorod. They were thus completely cut 
off from the Baltic Sea. During the last years of his life 
Ivan the Terrible thought no more of conquest in the 
West ; he was driven to defend himself, and was 
thankful not to lose what belonged to him." « 

But although the Livonian wars did not yield Ivan 
' M. Pokrovsky, Russian History, vol. ii. p. 128. 


III, Vassili III, and Ivan the Terrible the desired fruit, 
they did at least convince them of the great difference 
between East and West, even in this one matter of the 
art of war. Those who had defeated the Tartars found 
themselves powerless before the Europeans. This lesson 
was of profit to them. They began to take foreign 
soldiers into their service, at first singly, but then in 
batches. These soldiers formed private corps, but 
presently, in the first half of the seventeenth century, 
they were occupied principally in the work of instructing 
Russian recruits, who were made up into " regiments 
organized in the foreign mode." Finally, in the second 
half of the seventeenth century, the old militia was 
wholly suppressed, and was replaced by cavalry con- 
sisting of dragouny and rditary and infantry of 
" regiments of solddty." 

The Livonian wars assisted the Europeanization of 
Russia in a very curious fashion. The prisoners 
taken by the Russians — Lithuanians, Poles, Germans, 
Livonians, etc. — were transported into the interior of 
the country, and there became the sponsors of Western 

On the 24th of February, 1556, the Governor of 
Novgorod received from Ivan the Terrible an order 
couched in the following terms : " In Novgorod, in 
the suburbs, provinces, and market towns, you will on 
divers occasions cause it to be cried in the market-places 
that it is not permitted that the sons of boyars, nor any 
other persons, shall sell German prisoners to the 
Germans of Livonia, nor send them to Lithuania, but 
only to Muscovite towns. I shall bestow marks of my 
favour on the sons of boyars who shall inform me that 
any one has sold German prisoners to the Germans ; 
and a man of base condition will receive 50 roubles 
from him he has denounced. As for the vendors, they 
will be thrown into prison while awaiting our decision. 
If in the house of a son of a boyar or another there 
should be found a German prisoner who understands 
how to discover silver ore, or how to treat silver, gold, 


copper, or tin, or is acquainted with any other trade, 
you will give orders that this prisoner shall be brought 
to me in Moscow." 

M. Ischchanian remarks in this connection: "Such 
is the irony of fate that the bearers of Western civiliza- 
tion were forced as slaves to cultivate and Europeanize 
the barbarous East." 

Russian history in this particular repeats a phase of 
Roman history, for the Greek prisoners of ancient Rome 
imported with them the high culture of Hellenism. 

Some of the prisoners brought back from Livonia by 
Ivan the Terrible were distributed among the various 
provincial towns ; others, taken to Moscow, had 
assigned to them a special quarter known as the 
Nimetzkdia Sloboda (literally the German suburb ; 
but the word nemetz, which signifies " German " jn 
modern Russian, formerly meant "foreigner"; it is 
derived from nem, nemoi, the meaning of which is 
dumb). The Tsar granted those prisoners established 
in Moscow certain fiscal privileges ; they had the right 
to sell brandy without a licence. Very soon this little 
colony was in a flourishing condition. But in a fit of 
tyrannical fury Ivan the Terrible treated these strangers 
in a manner already so familiar to his Russian subjects ; 
in 1578 the Sloboda was pillaged, ruined, and laid 
waste, by direct order of the Tsar, by his famous guard 
of opritshniki. 

However, the foreign prisoners appeared so useful 
to Russia that Boris Godunov accorded them various 
favours ; he restored their personal liberty, and granted 
them the rights enjoyed by other inhabitants of the 
Russian States. 

Under one of the first Tsars of the Romanov dynasty 
the re-establishment of the " foreign suburb " was 
authorized in Moscow. This was in 1652, and once 
again there existed, in the midst of the Russian capital, 
a little town peopled by foreigners. 

This colony, consisting at first of a few voluntary 
immigrants and prisoners of war, became the centre 


of a stable and permanent influence ; and the Inozem- 
skaia Sloboda, established in 1652, was Peter the 
Great's first European school. 


The period extending from the reign of Ivan the 
Terrible to the accession of the first Romanov, which 
is known by the expressive name of the Period of 
Disturbances (literally " the troubled times "), was full 
of civil discord, jn which were involved not only the 
various classes of Russian society, but also the 
foreigners. The most famous protagonist of this great 
upheaval, Dimitri-Samozvanetz (the Impostor), who 
claimed to be a son of Ivan the Terrible, and who 
for a few months even occupied the Muscovite throne, 
was the instrument of the boyar opposition, and, at 
the same time, of Poland, who provided him with arms 
and soldiers. His rival, Vassili Shnisky, was supported 
by a section of the boyars and the middle classes and 
by the English traders. He also applied to the Swedes, 
and, in order to fight Dimitri, he engaged a corps of 
Swedish soldiers commanded by his young nephew, 
Prince Mikhail Skopine-Shnisky. 

Frenchmen also took part in the struggle, as volun- 
teers ; some — the Huguenots — serving under Shnisky 
with his Swedes ; others— the Catholics — on the side of 
Dimitri and his Poles. One of the Catholics, Captain 
Margaret, has left us an account of his sojourn in 
Russia, in which he informs his compatriots that the 
land of the Tsar is " greater, more powerful, more 
abundant and more populous than is supposed," that it 
" extends Christianity far into the East," and that the 
Russians felt a peculiar esteem for France and the 
French king. 1 

While the French went to fight in Russia only as 
amateurs, each according to his preference, and actuated 
by a thirst for glory, gold, and adventure, the Poles and 
Swedes were incited by their political ambitions. 
* Margaret, Elat de I Empire de Russie. 


Profiting by the disorder prevailing in Russia, Poland 
occupied the Russian territories of the kWiest, together 
with the city of Smolensk. Sweden seized upon 
Novgorod. The Poles penetrated as far as the walls 
of Moscow, which they besieged (in 1610) in company 
with one of the numerous false Dimitris, imitators of 
Dimitri I and pretenders to the Muscovite throne. The 
Polish crown prince, Vladislav, also attempted to gain 
the throne. In 1610 the boyars, and the dvorianie, 
weary of the struggle, recognized him as the Tsar of 
Russia, after concluding a treaty with him which 
granted certain political and social privileges to the 
nobility, and in particular increased its power over 
the serfs. 

For a time, then, the orthodox Russia of the Tsars, 

a semi-Asiatic Power, shared a common dynasty with 

Poland, Catholic, feudalized, and " Europeanized," and 

was subjected to the tutelage of Poland. WJ10 can 

say what would have been the course of Russian history 

had the Polish Tsar remained in power? But he was 

unable to overcome the opposition of the bourgeoisie, 

the peasantry, the clergy, and a portion of the provincial 

nobility. A great popular movement was initiated to 

" unite " Russia and to put an end to the constant 

disturbances. Directed against the intrusion of 

foreigners, it was of a national and patriotic character. 

M Enemies are rending the Muscovite State on every 

side ; we have become an object of shame and reproach 

to all neighbouring sovereigns," said a proclamation 

issued in 1 6 1 2, calling the people to the defence of 

the country. In 862, according to the legend, the 

Russians spontaneously invited certain Scandinavian 

princes to come and reign over them > in 16.1 2 they 

rose that they might no longer be subject to a Polish 

prince. So in eight hundred years they had learned 

to regard themselves as a nation, opposed to other 

nations, even to others of Slav origin. 

Vladislav was driven from the throne, but he would 
not renounce his claims nor surrender to Russia the 


western provinces which were occupied by Poland. Only 
in 1634, after two long campaigns, did Vladislav 
abandon his " rights " to the Russian throne, but he 
still retained Smolensk and some other towns. Another 
war broke out in 1654, and continued, interrupted 
by an armistice, until 1667. It left the city of 
Smolensk in Russian hands, and the whole of the 
Ukrainian territory on the left bank of the Dnieper, 
together with Kiev, while Lithuania remained Polish. 
The provisional treaty, which was concluded in 1667 
for a term of thirteen years, was confirmed in 1686 ; 
Russia thereupon signed a " perpetual peace " with 
Poland, and entered the league of Poland, Austria, 
and Venice against Turkey. 

The war with Sweden for the recovery of Novgorod 
commenced immediately after the advent of the first 
Romanov. At the end of four years, in 16.1 7, Russia 
recovered the city of Novgorod, but the Swedes retained 
a considerable portion of the territory of Novgorod 
and the Baltic shore. Forty years later a fresh war 
with Sweden enabled Russia to occupy a good part 
of Livonia, together with Diinabourg (Dvinsk) and 
Dorpat (Youriev) ; but complications in the Ukraine 
forced her to make peace in 1661 and to restore 
her conquests. 

Finally, Sweden remained mistress of the whole of 
the Baltic shore, whence she could constantly menace 
Russia and cut off all direct communication with 
Western Europe. 

Thus the road to the sea undertaken by Ivan the 
Terrible was not completed until the reign of Peter 
the Great, who had to repeat all the efforts of his 


The war between Peter the Great and Charles XII 
lasted for twenty-one years. On the Russian side a 
total of 1,700,000 men took part in this war. Of 
these 120,000 perished, and 500,000 were discharged 


on account of sickness. The war ended in 1721 with 
the final triumph of Russia, whose territory was 
increased by the addition of Ingermanland, Esthonia, 
Livonia, and a small portion of Finland, the whole 
covering an area of 180,000 square miles. 

The true value of this conquest, to Russia, resided 
not in the territorial aggrandizement which it accom- 
plished, but in the ports, those outlets to the Baltic 
Sea, on which her whole future depended, and whose 
possession assured the realization of many other plans. 

"He had need of a port on the east of the 
Baltic Sea for the execution of alt his ideas" said 
Voltaire of Peter the Great in his History of 
Charles X//J 

The most important of these ideas was to open a 
direct and rapid means of communication between Y 
Europe and Russia. 

From the economic point of view, this result was 
attained by the conquest of Riga and the " construc- 
tion " of Petersburg (in 1703). After creating the 
port of Petersburg, Peter concentrated the foreign trade 
of the country there, to the detriment of Archangel, 
which toward the end of his reign fell into a state 
of decadence. 

Between 1 7 1 7 and 1 7 1 9 the value of the annual 
import trade of Archangel was 2,344,000 roubles, and 
that of Petersburg only 269 roubles. In 1726 the 
imports of Archangel had fallen to 285,000 roubles, 
while those of Petersburg had risen to 2,403,000. 

As for Riga, Narva, and Reval, Russia had had 
commercial relations with these ports before the Russo- 
Swedish war of 1700-21, which certainly increased 
her chances of conquering the littoral, as these relations 
had resulted in a wave of " Russophilia " among the 
influential representatives of the wealthy bourgeoisie 
of Riga, and even the Livonian nobility. 

The victory of Russia enormously affected inter- 
national relations with that country. Sweden was then 

' Book I. 



one of the most powerful States of Europe, and her 
conqueror could not fail to acquire a great prestige. 
Possibly Voltaire exaggerated in saying of Russia that 
" this immense country was hardly known in Europe 
before the Tsar Peter." But it is true that under 
Peter " the Muscovite State, for the first time, entered, 
as an active and inseparable member, the family of 
the European Powers, and played its part in inter- 
national relations." ' It mingled in them even during 
Peter's campaigns, because "with his principal enemies 
Peter fought in another manner to that of his pre- 
decessors ; he waged war by means of coalitions and 

As a mark of the great development of Russo- 
European relations, we may note the appearance in 
Europe of Russian consular agents. On the i 5th of 
March, 1 7 1 5, Jean Lefort was appointed Russian agent 
in Paris by Peter the Great, with the title of 
" Commercial Councillor " ; and his brother Amidee 
Lefort was appointed " Commercial Consul," also in 
Paris. In the deed of appointment it is stated that 
" the good order of trade and the necessity of fore- 
seeing all difficulties require that Russia shall have 
in the ports and other localities of the kingdom of 
France, where our subjects, merchants or others, may 
exercise their trade, a reliable person having experience 
of trade, who might in such difficulties as arise, and in 
all other cases, be of assistance to our traders." 

Consuls and commercial agents were next appointed 
at Spa, Antwerp, Breslau, Vienna, Liege, Bordeaux, and 

The war with Sweden brought Peter into contact 
with the German States. " Unhappily, amid his allies 
he numbered Brandenburg and Hanover, whose Elector 
became, at this very moment, King of England, and 
a new passion seized upon Peter : the desire to 
intervene in German affairs. He dispersed his nieces 

■ Klutshcvsky, The Course of Russian History, Part iv. p. 66, Moscow, 


in many obscure corners of German territory ; he 
married one to the Duke of Courland, another to the 
Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin ; Peter was thus drawn 
into the petty court intrigues and participated in the 
petty dynastic interests of the enormous feudal spider's 
web which enveloped the great cultivated nation." * 

I insist on these facts because they had the effect 
of bringing German influence to bear on the highest 
governing circles in Russia. Some years after the 
death of Peter this influence placed a German Duchess 
on the throne. It had other consequences also, of 
which I shall speak further on. 

The war with Sweden, which altered the international 
situation of Russia, at the same time left its mark 
on her internal politics. All the historians of Peter 
the Great's reforms are agreed on this point. Professor 
V. Klutshevsky even asserts that " the war was the- 
most important of those factors to which the reforms 
of Peter the Great owe their character." 

Having entered upon a desperate conflict with a 
truly European Power, Russia could only fight that 
Power with the same European weapons. This 
necessity was Russia's great motive power. By 
" weapons " we do not mean simply the instruments 
of military action : men and material. These it was 
not difficult to procure, and Peter succeeded in 
procuring them in a manner more or less satisfactory, 
with the assistance of his foreign councillors ; he 
reorganized the land army and created a fleet, the 
germ of which was an old English canoe, found by 
Peter among the objects of all kinds which attracted 
his childlike curiosity. But the question was not 
merely one of armaments ; I the entire fabric of Russian 
life was to be reconstructed. The military failures, 
which were almost uninterrupted during the first eight 
years of the war, were extremely useful in this connec- 
tion, as they showed Peter that he would have to go 
to school with his conqueror. And' he himself was 
■ Klutshevsky, op. cit. p. 75. 


fond of saying that he had spent " three scholastic 
periods " in this school (the duration of studies being, 
in those days, seven years). 

History has preserved for us the words spoken by 
Peter a,t the banquet which followed the victory of 
Poltava (July 8, 1709), to which he invited the Swedish 
generals who had been taken prisoner. 

" To the health," he said, " of my masters in the 
art of war ! " Rehnskold asked him who those were 
whom he honoured by so fine a title. " You, the 
Swedish generals," was the Tsar's reply. 

It was indeed a fact that Peter's government had 
taken Sweden as its model. We shall presently see 
that it more than once endeavoured to copy Sweden. 


The war with Sweden, the principal source of the 
internal reforms introduced by Peter, had a very un- 
favourable influence on the appearance and develop- 
ment of these reforms. 

" The work of reform went on amid the tumult and 
confusion which habitually accompany a war. The 
necessities and embarrassments continually provoked by 
military action forced Peter to hurry himself. Pressed 
by circumstances, the work of reform assumed a feverish 
pace, and was effected with unnatural precipitation. 
Amid the anxieties of the war Peter had no time to 
pull up, to discuss his measures quietly, to deliberate 
over them at leisure, to determine on their execution, 
j and to allow them to ripen naturally. He demanded 
rapid 'performance and immediate results. . . . Peter 
relied only on the power of authority ; he did not 
attempt to win men's minds. Governing the State from 
a campaigning-carriage or a posting-house, he could 
perceive nothing but the matter in hand; he did not 
think of the human element, and, trusting to the power 
of authority, he reckoned too little with the power of 
the passive masses . . . amid which the structure of 
his novelties encountered but insecure and shifting foun- 


dations. His reforms fell like a waterspout on the 
people, alarming every one and remaining an enigma 
to all." 

So spoke one of those who knew Peter best, and 
who at the same time was one of his fervent admirers. 
The people did not comprehend the tendency or the 
bearing of all the changes which were imposed upon 
it, and had no time for reflection. Throughout almost 
the whole of Peter's reign Russia was fighting a very, 
onerous war. The continual levies of men and the 
uninterrupted increase of taxes presented only the worse 
side of Peter's work to the people. And this was all 
the people could see. Hence its hatred for the Tsar ; 
hence the legends which spread through the Empire, 
representing the innovator as the enemy of his own 
subjects, as a " foreigner," an impostor, and even as 
the Antichrist. 

Peter's internal policy, under the spur of war, thus 
assumed the aspect of a catastrophe and a revolution. 
Now, although the people will often gladly accept a 
revolution which is its own work, it usually refuses to 
approve of one coming " from above." The conjunc- 
tures in which Peter operated, his system of acting 
by violence — manu mititari — aggravated the popular dis- 
content. When the Tsar died the public opinion was 
that he could not have lived longer because M the people 
had cursed him." 


I. The war of 1812 and the Russo-Swedish War. II. The causes of 
the war against Napoleon — Economic relations between Russia 
and England— The "Continental Blockade" and its effects on 
Russian economy. III. Two periods of the war of 1812— Official 
patriotism and popular patriotism. IV. The Holy Alliance 
and Legitimism — The Russian reaction. V. The effects of the 
war on the people and the "intellectuals" — The Decembrists. 
VI. The effects of the war in Poland. 

The war designed to acquire the " window opening upon 
Europe " was national as regards its general and remote 
results, because it promised a whole country the possi- 
bility of free development and of maintaining relations 
with other more civilized nations. But it was not 
national in the sense that it was understood and sanc- 
tioned by the people, foFit was the Government which 
decided upon the war and brought matters to a head, 
despite the opposition of the people. 

The war of 1 8 1 2 was very different : it may be 
regarded as the first really national and popular war 
undertaken by Russia. But it did not immediately 
become so. 


At the outset Russia's conflict with Napoleon was 
powerless to rouse the people, because it resulted from 
problems of European significance, rather than the 
national interests of Russia. Its first cause, as we 
know, was the rivalry between France and England. 

At the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of 
the nineteenth century Russia was maintaining highly 
developed economic relations with England. She sent 
her agricultural products thither and received in ex- 


change threads and yarns, which she wove into cloth. 
M England furnished us with the products of her manu- 
factures and her colonies in exchange for the raw 
products of our soil," says a contemporary (Fone- 
Vizine). " This trade opened up the only routes by 
which Russia received all that was necessary to her. 
The nobility made certain of drawing the revenues 
of its estates by exporting oversea wheat, timber for 
shipbuilding and for masts and spars, tallow, hemp, 
flax, etc." The Russian export traders also had close 
relations with England ; so that two highly influential 
sections of Russian society were economically inclined 
to be Anglophile. This was well understood in France, 
and in- 1803 the French Ambassador in Petersburg 
wrote to his Government that Russia was too closely 
attached to England by her trade to be particularly 
desirous of maintaining peace with France. 

Moreover, the majority of the greater nobles and of the 
governing classes hated France as a revolutionary country. 

An alliance of Russia and England against France 
was thus inevitable. It is true that Alexander I was 
restrained by the fear of Napoleon's bayonets, and was 
even impelled to effect momentary reconciliations with 
France, but these only emphasized the solidity of the 
Anglo-Russian friendship and the fragility of the 
Franco-Russian ties. Particularly was this the case 
after the Peace of Tilsit (1807), which brought Russia 
into the orbit of the French economic policy, by associ- 
ating her with the Continental Blockade which was 
directed against England. The Treaty of Tilsit was 
signed in July 1807, but by October of the same 
year the French Ambassador to Russia, Savary, stated 
that the closing of Russian ports to English vessel's 
was causing great dissatisfaction to the Russian com- 
mercial classes, as their exports were threatened, and 
also to the buyers of English produce. In vain did 
Savary endeavour to raise the exchange value of the 
rouble, which had fallen upon the interruption of rela- 
tions with England, spreading the rumour in Petersburg 


that France was proposing to buy twenty million francs' 
worth of Russian merchandise ; this promise offered only 
a very meagre compensation for the great losses incurred. 

It is true that although agriculture suffered by the 
Continental Blockade, certain industries gained greatly 
thereby, owing to the elimination of English competi- 
tion. But the middle-class manufacturers and indus- 
trialized nobles who were benefited by the blockade 
were only a small minority, and had no say in matters 
of foreign policy. 

Two years after the Peace of Tilsit the blockade 
was in reality broken by Russia, as she authorized 
the importation of English merchandise under the 
American flag. The rupture with France, which had 
become inevitable, was hastened by other causes of a 
political and even of a personal nature. In 1812 the 
" patriotic war " commenced and the Russian Army 
crossed the Niemen. 


We must distinguish two periods in this war. The 
first was the period of official and superficial patriotism, 
of thoughtless boasting, of pompous proclamations which 
denied the courage of the French Army. It ended, 
as might have been expected, in a series of Russian 
defeats and the occupation of Moscow. 

The Government and the nobility were overwhelmed. 
Alexander I hid himself from the people in his palace ; 
and his sister, the Grand Duchess Yekaterina Pavlovna, 
wrote to him uncompromisingly that " he must very 
well understand what happens in a country whose ruler 
is despised." Many of the nobles were afraid at once 
of Napoleon and of their own peasants, whom they had 
oppressed, and who might have found, in this war, an 
opportunity to revolt. 

But it was precisely the masses of the people, the 
peasants, who in 18 12 represented the true patriotism, 
together with an enlightened minority of nobles, from 
which issued, at a later date, the first Russian Con- 


M Salvation came from below, from this mass of 
serfs, who commenced, in a spirit of abnegation, a 
popular war. Stein (the Prussian Minister) was 
perfectly right when he said (in a letter to Gneisenau) 
that ' the people has reached the supreme degree of 
fury, and the Emperor could not conclude peace — at 
least, if he had any regard for his personal safety.' 
The popular war was the natural consequence of the 
gloomy distrust which the people entertained in respect 
of authority. . . . The fundamental, principal, and 
almost the only cause of the victory of 1812 was the 
coming into action of the popular masses against the 
armies of Napoleon." » 

The memoirs relating to the war of 18 12 leave us 
convinced that it was not the Government which, as 
in the war with Charles XII, displayed the greatest 
vigour and activity ; it was the people which, inter- 
vening like a force of nature, saved Russia from the 
Napoleonic invasion. 

" All the orders and all the efforts of the Govern- 
ment would not have sufficed to expel the Gauls and 
the dozen other peoples who invaded Russia with them, 
had the people remained in its old condition of torpor," 
said a witness of events, the Decembrist Yakushkin. 
"It was not upon the order of the authorities that the 
inhabitants of the country withdrew into the forests 
and marshes on the arrival of the French, surrendering 
their homes to be burned. It was not upon the order 
of the authorities that the whole population of Moscow 
left the ancient capital with the army. To the right 
and the left, along the Riazan road, the fields were 
covered by a many-coloured host, and I can still 
remember, to-day, the words of a soldier who was 
marching beside me, ' Thanks to God, all Russia is on 
the march I ' " 

This Russia which was v on the march " saved her- 
self, despite the collapse of her Government. And 

' N. Rojkov, The Year 181 2 and its Influence on Contemporary 
Russian Society (Sovremanny Mir, 1912, vii., Petersburg). 


it was only when the war of legitimate defence was 
over, and the enemy driven from the national soil, that 
the Government resumed the direction of the war, 
passing to the offensive and pursuing the French armies 
across Europe, in company with two professional 
masters of international spoliation : the Prussian and 
Austrian monarchies. 


The triumph of Alexander I over Napoleon enabled 
him, in 1 8 1 5, to form, with his two autocratic allies, 
the Holy Alliance, which was perfectly natural, for 
between the three Conservative monarchies — Russian, 
Austrian, and Prussian — there existed a reciprocal 
attraction. But they were united only in their hatred 
of France and of Napoleon, himself a despot, but " the 
offspring of the Revolution." By their victory over 
him it seemed to them that they had overcome the 
revolutionary movement. In the dogma of legitimacy, 
the defence of which constituted the essential point 
of the policy of the Holy Alliance, was expressed not 
merely the antipathy of the " hereditary " monarchs 
for a " parvenu," but also the claim to inviolability 
put forward by autocratic power regularly transmitted. 

In order to be regarded as inviolable, the authority 
of the monarch must prevail by supernatural virtue. 
The fortunate issue of the war against Napoleon, to 
which Alexander I personally contributed so little, im- 
pelled him towards mysticism. Unwilling to refer the 
success of his armies to the efforts and sacrifices of 
the people, he attributed it to Divine intervention. "In 
this great task, which was above human strength, 
recognize only the Providence of God," he said in 
his manifesto. He expressed the same idea in a private 
conversation held at Vilna, when he stated that " the 
Lord Jesus alone is the true conqueror, and has 
liberated the country from the invasion of ferocious 

Alexander never doubted that it was logical that 


the Divine Providence and the will of Jesus should 
select the Russian Tsar as their instrument upon earth. 
If he appeared fairly modest in his conversations with 
Mme. de Stnc ; l — " I am," he told her, " merely a happy 
accident in the life of the peoples " — he spoke more 
frankly to Baronne de Kriidner, assuring her of his 
conviction that his acts were in perfect harmony with 
the will of God. 

This doctrine bore disastrous fruit in the foreign 
policy of Russia, as well as in her domestic policy. 
The Holy Alliance began its work in defence of 
legitimacy by the restoration of the royal power in 
France, where two bloody revolutions were necessary 
to repair its error. 

From 1 8 1 5 onwards the Russian autocracy became 
a sort of " international policeman," and acted accord- 
ingly. It was thus led into grievous errors, the chief 
of which was committed in 1848, when the successor 
of Alexander I, in the name of order and legitimacy, 
placed his armies at the service of the Austrian 
monarchy, in order to crush the Hungarian revolu- 
tion, saving Austria from inevitable ruin and irreme- 
diably alienating from Russia the best elements of 
Hungarian society. The results of this policy are 
perceptible even to-day. 

As for the domestic life of Russia, the war of 1 8 1 2 
inoculated it with two species of germs. On its subjects 
the autocracy, from 1 8 1 5 onwards, imposed the system 
of which it was the champion abroad ; and it was they 
who suffered the worst effects of this system. An era 
of the gloomiest reaction was inaugurated, and, accord- 
ing to the expression of one of the men most prominent 
at this period, the people were treated " like a flock 
of sheep," who had to be " sufficiently nimble " to 
make it possible to " lead " them towards the goal of 
their enemies. This oppression, which was steeped in 
mysticism, had certain points of likeness to the Holy 
Inquisition : for instance, in the zeal of the monks, its 
most notable and its best-qualified instruments. 


On the masses of the people and the more 
enlightened minds of the country, the war of 1812 
had quite another effect. 

The Decembrist, Yakushkin, whose Memoirs I have 
already cited, states that it " awakened the Russian 
people to life, and formed an important period of its 
political existence." Another Decembrist, A. Bestoujev, 
in his letter to Alexander I, wrote that " Napoleon 
having invaded Russia,- the Russian people, for the first 
time, was conscious of its strength. It was precisely 
at this moment that the desire for independence arose 
in every heart ; political independence first (that is, 
external independence), and then popular. This was 
the birth of Liberal aspirations in Russia." Bestoujev 
also explains, in a fashion even more characteristic, 
the state of mind prevalent in Russia after the war : — 

v The soldiers said : 4 We have spilt our blood, and 
they make us sweat in our lords' fields ; we have 
freed our country from the tyrant, and we are tyrannized 
over by our masters.' " 

As a result of the war, therefore, the protest against 
serfdom became keener and keener amid the rural 
population ; and after the lapse of a few years a series 
of rural disturbances commenced which continued, with 
intervals, until the abolition of serfdom (in 1861). 

The influence of the war of 1 8 1 2 caused an even more 
direct and remarkable upheaval in the intellectual world. 

At first this upheaval took the form of a general 
awakening of the spirit of citizenship among the officers, 
who then formed a sort of intellectual ilite. A con- 
temporary states that the campaigns of 1 8 1 2- 1 4 
4 * exalted the soul of our army in an extraordinary 
fashion, especially in the case of the young officers. 
. . . The majority of the officers of the Guard and 
the Staff returned to Petersburg in 1 8 1 5 with a con- 
sciousness of their dignity and full of a sublime Jove 
for their native country." 


Moreover, their sojourn in foreign countries had made 
an immediate impression on them. 

" During their marches across Germany and France 
our young officers learned to understand European civi- 
lization, which impressed them all the more in that 
they were able to compare it with what they beheld 
at every step in their own country : the enslavement 
of the great majority of Russians, the cruelty of chiefs 
toward their subordinates, the abuses of power of every 
kind, the arbitrary rule which everywhere made its 
rigour felt. All this revolted the educated Russians and 
hurt their patriotism." " 

M. Emile Haumant, in his Culture f ran guise en 
Russie, cites a number of such observers : — 

" Many of us," writes one of the officers who took 
part in the war, " became acquainted with German 
officers who were members of the Tugendbund, and 
afterwards with some of the French Liberals. . . . 
In conversing with them we made our own, although 
we did not realize this, their manner of thinking and 
their love of representative institutions, and we blushed 
for our own country, humiliated by tyranny." The 
more they saw of the countries moulded by French 
institutions, the more the spectacle of their relative 
prosperity impressed the Russians. A mere rebellion 
of the lower classes — a jacquerie pure and simple — 
could never have created' such wealth ; so that there 
were evidently beneficent revolutions. On the other 
hand, events went to prove that the stability of thrones, 
for which they were fighting, was a very uncertain 
dogma. " .We saw on every side thrones restored and 
overthrown ... so that our minds became accustomed 
to revolutions, their possibility, and the profit to be 
derived from them," and this all the more rapidly 
because, in the general chaos, " the majority of the 
revolutionary institutions were preserved, and, there- 
fore, were recognized as good." " Finally," says M. 
Haumant, M the conquerors perceived that with all their 
glory they, were not so well off as the conquered." 2 
1 Rojkov, op. cit. a Emile Haumant, op. cit. pp. 320-21. 


The Russian officers profited by their stay in France 
to become acquainted with French ideas and with the 
political literature -of France. While the other Allies 
mostly frequented the Royalist salons, the Russians 
ventured to enter into close relations with the revolu- 
tionaries, and even the " suspects," and to study the 
formation and the statutes of the secret political 
societies. Prompt to utilize what they had lately 
learned, they began to teach their soldiers, applying 
to the process the Lancastrian method. According to 
several observers, " the blows which were constantly 
given in the other Allied armies were banished from 
the Russian corps stationed in France." 

So it was with new habits, a new spirit, and a 
new state of mind that all this military youth returned 
to Russia. But there disillusion awaited it. An oppres- 
sive reactionary regime barred the way to generous 
aspirations and schemes of liberation. A clash was 
inevitable ; it came ten years later, on the 14th of 
December, 1825 ; some officers who had taken part 
in the campaigns of 18 12- 14 attempted a military 
insurrection with a view to establishing a Constitution. 

So it was that the war of 1 8 1 2 gave rise to ia 
'•' revolution from below," just as the struggle with 
Charles XII had caused a " revolution from above." 
Peter I had imposed his authority, despite the oppo- 
sition of the people. The Decembrists took up arms for 
the liberation of the people from autocratic authority. 

One of these Decembrists, the poet Lorer, has summed 
up the meaning of the war of 181 2 in some ver 
which put into the mouth of Napoleon the following 

words : — 

. . . Russia is my rival, 
But Fate my conqueror. . . . 
I followed not the steps of Batou-Khan, 
I fought not without reason ; was not moved 
By the vanity of glory . . . 
I have seen Moscow's ashes, but am not 
Another Erostrates. . . . 

... I willed, with iron hand, 
Sudden to seize the centuries' coming void : 


Those centuries I summoned ere the hour, 
To snap the rusty chain of prejudice, 
And urge the idle giant upward still 
Toward a higher goal of life. 1 

The " idle giant," Russia, was rudely shaken by 
the war upon Napoleon, but not sufficiently so to snap 
the rusty chain of the ancien regime. The rising of 
the Decembrists was stifled by the Government, and it 
was only thirty years later, after a fresh international 
upheaval, after the Crimean War, that the fetters of 
Russia began to fall off her. 


But we must speak a few words as to Napoleon's 
relations with Poland. 

While the great Revolution was nearing accomplish- 
ment — while in France the old order was falling in 
ruins — Poland, in 1795, was finally destroyed, and 
shared between the three neighbour monarchies — Russia, 
Austria, and Prussia. 

From the standpoint of the interests of Russia (that 
is, of the whole Russian people, and not only of the 
bureaucracy and the ruling circles) it was a great mis- 
take to take a hand in the murder and dismemberment 
of her neighbour. Even to-day this is very evident. 
Russia has deprived herself of a barrier between herself 
and the Germanic States, and is in immediate contact 
with Germany and Austria. The dismemberment of 
their little kingdom, which would have been impos- 
sible without the participation of Russia, filled the Poles 
with hatred of the Empire. Their enslavement became a 
painful wound in the flank of the Russian Empire, which 
on two occasions bled profusely, in 1831 and in 1863. 

The violence done to Poland was and is still ex- 
ploited by Russia's rivals, and has complicated the 
external situation without in any way fortifying it. 

Napoleon I understood the profit to be derived from 

■ Lorer, Napoleon. (See the collection, The War of 1812 in Russian 
Poetry, p. 129, Moscow, 1912.) 


Poland, utilizing her as one of the levers of his anti- 
Russian policy ; all the more easily because, before 
the last partition of Poland, many of the irreducible 
Polish patriots had taken refuge in France, and a 
mutual sympathy united the defenders of national inde- 
pendence and the French democracy. Here Napoleon 
had a means of action at his disposal, and he made use 
of it, during and even before the war of 1806-7, 
posing as a champion of the Polish claims. But he 
offered the Poles a mirage only ; for in 1807 he did not 
impose on Alexander, as a condition, sine qua tvon, of 
peace, the restoration of Poland. The Treaty of Tilsit 
confined itself to creating a Grand Duchy of Warsaw, 
formed out of Prussian Poland, and given as booty to 
the Elector of Saxony. 

But, thanks to this symbol, this fiction of an indepen- 
dent Polish State, Napoleon was able to retain the 
sympathies of the Poles, for whom he was the only 
friendly monarch in Europe. And in 181 2 the Polish 
Eagles hovered above the Franco-Russian battlefields 
beside the standards of Napoleon. 

Napoleon's Polophile diplomacy had its effect upon 
Russian politics, for Alexander I could not allow the 
Poles to regard France as their liberator. He him- 
self said, in his secret instructions to Novossiltzev, 
who was charged with confidential negotiations with 
England : — 

" The most powerful weapon which the French have 
employed hitherto, and with which they are still 
threatening all other States, is the idea, which they have 
managed to diffuse abroad, that their cause is the 
cause of the liberty and happiness of the nations. 
. . . The welfare of humanity, the true interest of the 
legitimate authorities, and the success of the under- 
taking meditated by the two Powers (Russia and 
England) demand that these shall wrest this formidable 
weapon from the hands of the French, and, having seized 
it, use it against the latter. 

It thus appears that the proposal to set up an 


autonomous Poland, on which Alexander so insisted 
at the Congress of Vienna, and his desire to create a 
" phantom Poland," were chiefly due to the necessity 
of competing with France and Napoleon. 1 

The rebirth of the Polish State, the work of the 
French Army, and accepted — we know not if it was 
sincerely — by Alexander I, was accomplished on the 
1 5th of November 1 8 1 5, by the granting of a Con- 
stitution to the kingdom of Poland. But as this king- 
dom was under the tutelage of Russia, and as Russia 
herself was not a constitutional country, the contra- 
diction between this semblance of constitutionalism and 
the Russian autocracy was to break forth anew and 
engender a sanguinary conflict in which the political 
individuality of Poland disappeared yet once again. 

The confidence of Poland, who had come to regard 
France — even the France of Napoleon — as her friend 
and liberator, was yet further confirmed by a series 
of measures taken by Napoleon in 1807 and 1808, 
which were fruitful of results. 

Napoleon effected the introduction into the consti- 
tutional law of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw of an 
article by whose terms serfdom was abolished and 
all citizens made equal before the law. In virtue of 
this principle, a decree passed about the end of 1807 
authorized the peasants freely to leave their masters. 
Unhappily, the serfs, while they received their liberty, 
were at the same time dispossessed of the lands on 
which they had lived, which were recognized as the 
property of their seigneurs. Thereupon a portion of 
the agricultural population rapidly became a proletariat, 
which was quickly invaded by pauperism. But, taking 
it all round, the abolition of serfdom gave a great 
impulse to the economic and social development of the 
country ; it was the ruin of the feudal system, but 
profited the middle classes of society. 

Another very important measure was the introduction 

* See the Mimoires of Talleyrand (Paris, 1891, vols. ii. and iii.) and 
the Mimoires of Prince Metternich (Paris, 1886, vol. ii.), 



into Poland of the Code Napoleon. Concerning- the 
action of this reform, one of the best historians of 
Polish economy remarks : — 

44 The widest breach in the civil rigime, and above 
all in the property system as it existed in Poland, 
was made by the Code Napoleon, which was intro- 
duced into the Grand Duchy of Warsaw in 1808. It 
implanted the juridical forms of the modern bourgeois 
system in the economy of a naturally feudal system of 
exploitation. Incapable by itself of transforming the 
means of production, it nevertheless dealt the most 
damaging blows to the old property system, and 
hastened its fall. The abolition of the special system 
affecting leased property wrested landed property from 
its immobilized condition and drew it into the current 
of exchange." ■ 

In 1809 and 18 12 the Government of the Grand 
Duchy of Warsaw invited foreign manufacturers, experts, 
and artisans to settle in Poland. They were granted 
various privileges, for example, exemption from military 
service, taxes on landed property, customs duties, etc. 

In its 44 kingdom of Poland " the Russian Govern- 
ment retained this policy, and between 18 16 and 1824 
it issued a series of Imperial ukases, whose object was 
to favour industry and to attract foreign capital and 

As a result the general character of economic and 
social life underwent a radical change. But the origins 
of this new state of affairs must be traced back to 
the brief existence of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw 
and the triumph of the middle classes, when 44 the 
barriers which divided them from the nobility were 
broken," and when they were enabled to seize upon 
all the means of conquering the productive forces of the 
country. So that it was said that *' the embourgeoisr- 
ment of the political life of Poland was in great measure 
the result of French influence." 2 

• Rosa Luxembourg, Industrial Evolution of Poland. 

• L. Janowicz, A Sketch of the Evolution of Industry in the Kingdom 
of Poland (Warsaw, 1907). 


I. The Crimean War — Its origins. II. Causes of defeat — The con- 
trast between the old Russia and the new Europe. III. The 
Eastern question — The Slav problem and the Europeanization of 


From i 8 1 2 to 1 8 1 4, Russia, in alliance with England, 
was fighting France. Forty years later the two Western 
States were allied against the Russian Empire. 

The composition of this alliance enabled the enemy, 
in 1854, to represent the conflict as that of the West 
against the East, Europe against Asia. 

On the other hand, the immediate cause of the 
Crimean War, or rather its immediate pretext, was 
the possession of the keys of the church of Bethlehem; 
the Orthodox monks and their Catholic competitors 
disputed the right of possession. So that the struggle 
seemed thus to be between Orthodoxy and Catholicism. 

In reality it was much more material and concrete. 
Once again it proceeded from the economic relations 
existing between Russia and Great Britain. 

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, as we 
have seen, these relations were very close, and we may 
even say that Russia and Great Britain could not do 
without one another. Toward the middle of the century 
the situation underwent a change. The commercial 
ties between the two countries suffered a general 
relaxation, due at first to the condition of the world- 
market, and then to the economic policy of Russia. 

England obtained from Russia chiefly raw materials 
and cereals. But in the second quarter of the century 


the European market offered corn at moderate prices 
and in fair abundance. England was therefore enabled 
in great measure to dispense with the importation of 
Russian corn. As for Russia, her industry, having 
experienced the elimination of competition during the 
short period of the Continental Blockade, was beginning 
to manifest her predilection for an increasingly definite 
protectionism. English merchandise gradually dis- 
appeared from the Russian market, and about 1830- 
35 the British Press was complaining that while 
British trade with other foreign States was more or 
less rapidly increasing, the trade with Russia remained 
at the same level, or was decreasing. The English 
especially complained that Russia was seizing upon the 
Trans -Caucasian regions and the shores of the Black 
Sea — Georgia too, and Bessarabia ; and she was 
meditating the acquisition of Asia Minor, the Bosphorus, 
and the Dardanelles ; that is, the highway by which 
British trade penetrated the East. 

Moreover, Nicolas I was endeavouring to establish 
an absolute political hegemony over Europe, its 
character being reactionary. 

There was therefore more than one pretext available 
for an Anglo-Russian conflict. 

If France decided to take part in this conflict, it 
was, according to modern historians, " not because of 
her hostility towards Russia, but because of her friend- 
ship for England." The Russian author who thus 
defines the motive which France is supposed to have 
obeyed bases his opinion on arguments of a material 
order. He observes that at this period France was 
not a competitor of England, but rather a collabo- 
rator ; for nearly half the total trade of England 
was carried in French vessels. 1 "And, similarly, the 
East, with its ports and its trade routes, was acquiring 
a particular interest for the French Government. About 
the same moment de Lesseps was appealing for French 
capital to construct the Suez canal, and Napoleon III 
* M. Pokrovsky, Russian History, vol. v. p. 34 (Moscow, 1914). 


recalled the traditional protectorate exercised by the 
French sovereigns over the Catholic inhabitants of 
Turkey. As we know, it was the intervention of 
France in the affairs of Palestine which provoked 
an explicit conflict between the new Emperor of 
France and Nicolas I. The keys of the temple 
of Bethlehem opened the temple of the God of War, 
which had been closed for forty years." 


The God of War, so favourable to Russia during 
the first half of the nineteenth century, deserted her in 
1854; Russia was defeated. 

It may at first sight appear astonishing that so great 
a State should have been forced to declare herself 
vanquished, and to place herself at the mercy of her 
enemies, because of a defeat suffered at Sebastopol ; 
that is, at one remote point of her immense territory. 
There are qualified Russian writers who assert that 
Russia could and should have continued the Crimean 
War, and that she would have had a good chance of 
emerging victoriously. Here, for instance, is the 
opinion of the celebrated Russian historian, S. Soioviev, 
as recorded in his posthumous notes : — 

" Peace was concluded after the fall of Sebastopol, 
while Sebastopol was playing the same role as Moscow 
in 18 1 2. At this very moment Russia should have 
declared that the war was not finished, but was only 
beginning, in order to compel the Allies to renounce 
it. . . . Foreign affairs were by no means in so 
desperate a condition that an energetic sovereign could 
not have emerged from the struggle retaining his 
dignity and some essential advantages. In the interior 
of the country there was no exhaustion, no extreme 
distress. The new sovereign, whom all wished to love, 
because he was new, could have raised enormous forces 
by appealing to the love and patriotism of the people. 
The war was difficult for the Allies ; they ardently 
desired its termination. Before a Russian sovereign 


who spoke firmly, asserting his intention to fight until 
the conclusion of an honourable peace, they would have 
drawn back." 

General Kuropatkin shares this opinion; he con- 
siders that " finding inspiration in the example of 
Peter I and Alexander I, we should have continued 
the war, in order to ' drive the enemy into the 
sea.' " 

But both writers — the scholar and the professional 
soldier — have themselves represented the condition of 
affairs in Russia at the end of the Crimean War under 
such an aspect that the impossibility of continuing the 
war is obvious to those who are capable of objective 
judgment. Soloviev states that Alexander II, at the 
moment of his accession, had neither the breadth of 
view, nor the courage, nor the initiative, nor the energy 
necessary for the continuation of the struggle, and that 
among those who surrounded him " there was not a 
single man endowed with intellectual and moral power," 
" not a single man capable of lighting the darkness." 
As for General Kuropatkin, he draws the following 
picture of Russia before and during the war : — 

" The movement of liberation which originated in 
Russia after the Napoleonic wars, which penetrated 
even the ranks of the army, was followed (under 
Nicolas I), by a powerful bureaucratic pressure, which 
weighed heavily on all manifestations of public activity 
and on all ranks and classes of society, including the 
military. It was as though all Russia had donned 
the same uniform, close -buttoned from top to bottom, 
and was standing motionless. Russia and her army 
could only say : ' I obey you,' ' You are right,' and 
' All goes well.' The soldiers were cruelly treated. 
Their food was bad. Thefts of all kinds were habitual 
phenomena in the army. The command of regiments 
was given to landed proprietors who had squandered 
their fortunes in order that they might make th- 
again. The Imperial Guard enjoyed oppre 
privileges. Every act of spontaneous initiative was 


punished by law. The Press was timid and silent. 
Any discussion in a military journal, even in respect 
of the soldier's clothing, was often regarded as the 
sign of a subversive mind. The army, therefore, in spite 
of its great numbers, was backward in the matter of 
intellectual force. And in the matter of material 
strength we were equally backward, compared with 
the European armies." * 

General Kuropatkin, as we see, attributes the sorry 
condition of the Russian Army on the outbreak of the 
Crimean War to the general regime of reaction then 
prevailing. So it was not the Russian Army which' 
was conquered at Sebastopol by the Allied troops, but 
rather, and especially, the social and political system 
of the old autocratic Russia. A serf -owning country 
could not hold out against more civilized States. 

It is a curious fact that this very backwardness, 
which was responsible for Russia's weakness, and which 
condemned her to defeat, was represented, by the 
" patriots " of various shades of opinion, as giving 
Russia an advantage over Europe. Such was the 
opinion not only of the official chauvinists, with their 
insincere optimism, but even of the sincere and honest 
patriots of the Slavophile camp. The harangues 
in prose and verse in which they contrast " Holy 
Russia " with " pagan Europe " read very strangely 

"What are you counting, on?" — so Mey, one of 
the patriotic poets of 1855, addressed the enemy. " On 
the courage of your troops? But every Russian soldier 
is not merely brave in battle, he is intrepidly calm. 
For everywhere, from the banks of the Neva to 
Sebastopol, he stands erect to defend Russia and 
religion. He does not stand for a chimera of the 
Press, nor for the vanities of representative chambers." 

Another Slavophile poet, A. Khomiakov, proclaims 
in a poem written in 1854 that "God has bestowed 
His love upon Russia, and has given her a fatal might 
* Kuropatkin, Memoirs. 


thai she may destroy the malevolence of blind, 
unreasoning, and barbarous (sic) forces." 

Is this aberration or hypocrisy, or an unconscious 
attempt to justify the blemishes of Russia by her 
supreme predestination? 

However this may be, in the same poem the poet 
does not hesitate to tell his country the following 
truths : — 

Remember that to be the instrument 

Of God is difficult for earthly creatures ; 

His judgment of His servants is severe ; 

And thou, alas ! dost bear the burden of 

So many dreadful crimes. For in thy courts 

Reigns black injustice ; thou dost bear the brand 

Worn by the yoke of slavery ; thou art full 

Of impious flatteries and pestiferous lies, 

And all abominations. 

Khomiakov himself realized that in truth his country 
" was unworthy of the divine election," but he never- 
theless believed that she was elected, and that " she 
would smite her enemies with the sword of God." 

This miracle did not come to pass. The defeat 
of Russia at Sebastopol, so insignificant from a military 
point of view, had an enormous political and moral 
effect, because it opened the eyes of all more or less 
discerning and conscientious Russians to all the evils 
from which their country was suffering. The immediate 
result of this defeat was the " period of the great 
reforms," followed by the movement known by the 
name of Nihilism. The military downfall of Russia 
made an end of the legend of Russian supremacy which 
had been prevalent abroad ; and within Russia it shook 
the principle of autocratic government. The " nega- 
tion " of the old ideas of authority, and of all those 
prejudices on which the old life was based, was a 
logical result of this catastrophe. This is why " nega- 
tion " formed the basis of Nihilism. 



The antithesis established by the patriots between 
" Holy Russia " and " pagan Europe " at the time of 
the Crimean War was to a certain extent justified by 
the presence of Turkey in the coalition formed against 
the Empire of the Tsar, which enabled the Russian 
Government to pose as the defender of brother Slavs 
and Christians against the M infidel," " heathen " 

It is true that the situation of the Christian and 
Slav peoples in the Balkans was at this time 
unendurable. But the Government of Nicolas I, a 
reactionary and an oppressor of his own people, 
had no moral right to arrogate to itself the rdte of 
defender, since its whole previous conduct had been in 
absolute contradiction to the mission which it claimed 
to fulfil. Alexander I, after the Congress of Vienna, 
had declared himself openly hostile to a rising of the 
Balkanic peoples against the Turks. For example, in 
1 82 1 (at the Congress of Lay bach), he severely 
condemned the Greeks' desire for independence, regard- 
ing it as a manifestation of the revolutionary spirit. 

In order to confirm his opinion by action, he 
dismissed Prince Ypsilanti from the corps of officers 
of the Russian Army, because he had assumed the 
command of the Greek insurgents ; and he dismissed 
Count Capo d'l stria, a Greek citizen and Minister of 
Foreign Affairs in Russia, who fomented the revolt of 
his compatriots against the Turkish rule. The liberated 
Greeks having elected Capo d'l stria President of their 
Republic, the Russian Government attempted to induce 
him to subserve its reactionary policy in Greece, thereby 
provoking a protest on the part of the advanced parties 
of that country and the assassination of Capo d'Istria 
by two Republican patriots, the brothers Mavromikhalis. 

Enlightened Russians did not approve of the obscure 
and reactionary policy of their Government. The 


famous poet Pushkin encouraged the Greek insurrection 
in the following lines : — 

Arise, O Greece, arise ! 

Not in vain is thy striving, 

Not in vain docs war shake Olympus, 

Pindus, and the crags of Thermopylae. 

Beneath the secular shadow of their peaks 

Was born the liberty of ancient time, 

The sacred marbles of Athens, 

The tombs of Theseus and Pericles. 

Land of heroes and of slaves, 

Shatter the chains of slavery, 

Singing the fiery songs 

Of Tyrtaeus, Byron, and Rigas ! 

Austria encouraged the reactionary interference of 
the Russian Government in the domestic affairs of 
Greece, being well aware that it would thereby suffer 
the loss of Greek sympathies ; and Alexander's 
opposition to the movement of liberation was due to 
the counsels of Metternich. 

France and England, on the other hand, declared 
themselves in favour of the establishment of a consti- 
tutional regime in Greece ; but they were guilty of 
another mistake in supporting the candidature of Prince 
Otto of Bavaria to the Greek throne, thereby permit- 
ting German influence to get its first roots into the 
Greek soil. 

Half a century later another example occurred of 
the deviation impressed by internal reaction on the 
external policy of the Empire : the Government 
attempted to enforce the complete submission of 
Bulgaria, whom the war of 1877-78 had rendered 
independent, to its tutelage. It merely succeeded in 
exciting an anti-Russian movement which carried 
Stambouloff into power, and allowed Germany and 
Austria to implant their influence in the country. 

We find the same blunder exemplified in the 
present war. A considerable portion of the Russian 
(Ruthenian) and Polish population of Bukbvina and 


Galicia, dissatisfied under the Austrian domination, 
gladly welcomed the Russians when they occupied the 
two provinces. But the civil officials who followed 
the armies immediately began their work of reaction 
and oppression, irritating the indigenous population by 
the persecutions of their police. 

It is true that the Prussians too used to treat the 
Poles abominably, and that the situation of the Slavs 
in Austria and Hungary was extremely difficult ; but 
Germans, Poles, Austrians, Czechs, Hungarians, 
Ruthenians, and Serbs are divided among themselves, 
politically and ethnically, while Russia, being akin to 
the Slavs, might have been a true friend and protector, 
had it not been for her bureaucrats. 

It is now clear that the Slav problem is, for Russia, 
bound up with the problem of her own progress, her 
own Europeanization. Although fifty years ago Russia, 
albeit herself but half-civilized and despotically 
governed, drew to herself the Slavs of the Balkans, 
then subjected to the terrible yoke of the Sultans 
and leading an almost barbarous existence, to-day her 
proteges have become independent, and have entered 
upon a process of rapid civilization and European- 
ization ; they have even, in some respects, outstripped 
their sometime liberator, Russia. They possess highly 
democratic Constitutions, Parliaments, an intense 
political life, while in Russia the constitutional regime 
is hardly born, and many vestiges of the old regime 
remain. Consequently, the gaze of her sometime clients 
is turning toward Western Europe, not to her. Austria 
and Germany have contrived to profit by this change. 
As for the Russian bureaucracy, it does not yet under- 

In my Russia and the Great War I cited the opinion 
of Baron Rosen, member of the Imperial Council, who 
states that Russian influence has declined among the 
Balkan Slavs, and that " the great Slav idea " is, for 
Russia, " devoid of all real foundation." 

" All undertakings inspired by this idea — as, for 


example, the Slav Bank, the exhibition of Russian 
products, the Russian libraries in Slav countries, etc. — 
either remain in the condition of mere projects, or 
drag themselves through a miserable existence. . . . 
In the domain of material civilization Russia has no 
need of the Slav world, or the Slav world of Russia. 
In the Slav States of the Balkans our industry, which 
has at its disposal a vast home market defended by 
extremely high protective tariffs, could only at a loss 
compete with the Austro-German industries ; as for 
the Slavs of the South, their commercial relations with 
the Austro -Hungarian monarchy, their neighbour, will 
always be more advantageous than their relations with 
distant Russia. From the intellectual standpoint the 
Slavs of the Balkans (and still more those of Austria), 
despite a somewhat factitious Germanophobia, evidently 
prefer — and this is very natural — to tap directly and 
at first hand the Western sources, and principally those 
of Germany." 

Baron Rosen regards this situation as the normal 
one. He does not seem to see that a " Europeanized " 
Russia could group around her her brothers by race, 
forming a veritable federation of Russo-Slavic civiliza- 
tions. This simple idea does not occur to him, and 
he advises his Government to abandon the Balkans 
to Austro-German Imperialism, and, having bid the 
West adieu, to turn again toward Asia. 

" By abandoning to Germany supremacy in the 
Western portion of Europe, and by dissociating herself 
completely from all rivalries between European powers 
based on interests purely European, Russia would assure 
herself of the security of her Western frontier, and would 
have her hands free for the accomplishment of her 
mission in Asia." 

For M. Rosen believes and proclaims that Russia 
is " more especially an Asiatic Power." 


I. The war with Europeanized Japan — The Asiatic question. II. The 
German barrier isolating Russia from Europe — The Baltic Sea 
and the Straits — The great European conflict, and its general 
import from a Russian point of view. 


The theory advanced by Baron Rosen, that is, that 
Russia should seek her objective in Asia, was by the 
end of the nineteenth century supported by other repre- 
sentatives of the anclen regime. It also had the support 
of the German Government, which was anxious to urge 
Russia to enter upon adventures in the Far East, in order 
that Germany and Austria might thereby enjoy full 
liberty of manoeuvre in Europe, the Balkans, and Asia 
Minor. It is undeniable that Russia's advance towards 
the frontier of Korea and Port Arthur was encouraged 
by German diplomacy. 

But, curiously enough, in the Far East Russia en- 
countered Europe I Not only because Europe, in the 
shape of the gold of old England, stood behind Japan, 
but also because Russia came into conflict with the 
civilization of Europe, which, since the revolution of 
1868, had entirely transformed the economic and 
political life of Japan, and had given birth to new forms 
of capitalist production, new industrial methods, and 
novel means of warfare. 

It should be remarked that the revolution in Japan, 
and the beginning of the Europeanization of the 
country, coincided with the " period of great reforms " in 
Russia. But Japan had more sense of progress. Having 
undertaken to modernize the country, the Japanese 



applied themselves to the task without intermission, 
with the assistance of all the energies of the nation, 
which were left free to develop themselves and to mani- 
fest themselves in Parliament, the Press, the schools, 
the industries of the country, etc. The Russian Govern- 
ment, on the other hand, after some concessions granted 
to the people in the time of Alexander II, halted 
midway, and then began to draw back, and to restore 
the ancien regime in all its most lamentable forms. 
The energies of Japan, exploited according to European 
conceptions, became relatively greater, or rather more 
deeply rooted and readier for action, than the still un- 
formed and sluggish energies of the vast Russian 
Empire. And Russia was beaten by her puny adver- 
sary, and with unexpected ease. In reality it was 
once again the West which triumphed over Russia in 

I shall not speak here, having done so elsewhere, 
of the results of this unhappy war with Japan as regards 
the internal life of Russia. I will merely observe 
that then was finally determined the general position of 
Russia between the East and the West, between Europe 
and Asia. The reader will have heard the famous 
query" : "Is Russia the most Western of all the Asiatic 
States or the most Eastern of all the European States? " 
The Manchurian War gave the best possible answer 
to this question by suppressing it. The war demon- 
strated, in effect, firstly, that the terms Eastern, Western, 
Europe, and Asia are merely relative and retrospective, 
the remotest of the States of the Far East having 
become European, and having entered the Concert of 
the European Powers. On the other hand, it imposed, 
on Russia's action in Asia, the same law which con- 
ditioned her action in Europe. Forced to become 
European if she did not wish to remain in the rear 
of her brothers by race, Russia was also obliged to 
become European in order to maintain her rank among 
the Asiatic States which were becoming modernized — 
such as China and Persia. 



iThis process of evolution is all the more necessary 
to Russia in that the unhappy result of her adventure 
in the Far East has thrown her back upon Europe. 
But Germany, during the war, seized the opportunity 
of carrying out her Pangermanist schemes in Western 
Europe, Turkey, and Asia Minor. These schemes, 
dangerous to all European States, were especially a 
danger to Russia, for they threatened the very basis of 
her future development. She had laid hands, or was 
preparing to lay hands, on the Baltic Sea, the 
Dardanelles, and the Bosphorus. 

The construction of a powerful Navy and the cutting 
of the Kiel Canal had made Germany the absolute 
mistress of the Baltic Sea, from which the naval forces 
of Russia had disappeared in 1905. Thus the work of 
Peter the Great, a maritime highway communicating 
with Europe, was, if not destroyed, at least entirely at 
the mercy of the German Empire, which could at any 
moment close it with its submarines and ironclads. 

To measure only the economic significance of the 
mastery obtained by Germany, it is enough to reflect 
that about 30 per cent, of all Russia's exports 
(£49,080,000 out of a total of £162,160,000 in 191 3) 
travels by the Baltic Sea. As for the political and 
intellectual value of Russia's connection with Europe 
by way of the Baltic, it is incalculable. 

But the Dardanelles route is no less necessary to 
Russia ; it is perhaps even more necessary. From the 
ports of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov a third part 
of the total exportation of Russia leaves the country ; 
in 191 3 its value was £51,440,000. Cereals in 
particular go by way of the Dardanelles; in 19 13, 
of 10,670,000 tons exported, 7,900,000 tons, or more 
than 80 per cent., went by this route, which is that 
followed more particularly by the grain destined for 
Italy, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Holland, and Eng- 
land. Of the corn imported in 191 3 by the following 


countries, the amounts furnished by Russia were : 
881,000 tons to Italy, the total imports being 1,81 1,000 
tons; to Holland, 1,715,000 tons out of 3,883,000; 
while 40 per cent, of the corn consumed by Switzerland 
was of Russian origin. 1 The Dardanelles route is thus 
of prime importance to Russia and to the countries of 
Europe. It is also of prime importance to the industrial 
future of Russia, for it forms the outlet by which she 
exports the products of the mining regions, coal-fields, 
and petroleum-fields of the South, and imports an ever- 
increasing quantity of European merchandise. 

The Dardanelles, while in the exclusive possession 
of Turkey, were open to Russia, Turkey by herself 
not being strong enough to dare to close them. But of 
late years German Imperialism has installed itself in 
Constantinople, there to commence the execution of 
its gigantic scheme of the Bagdad Railway. Again, 
but this time on the South, a Germanic barrier was to 
divide Russia from the West, while the German Army 
and Navy hemmed her in on the West. 

That one of the aims of Germany in installing her- 
self on the Bosphorus was to separate Russia from 
Europe has long been admitted by the Pangermanists 

" Turkey opposes an obstacle to the penetration of 
the Mediterranean by the mighty Eurasian nation — 
Russia," wrote Colonel Rogalla von Bieberstein in a 
military review (1902). "This obstacle resides rather 
in the fortified works on the Bosphorus and the 
Dardanelles than in the international treaties concerning 
these straits. Germany also is greatly interested in the 
maintenance of this barrier. It is greatly to the interest 
of Germany that this barrier should be maintained, 
and that Russia should not penetrate the Mediter- 
ranean." 2 

* I cite these figures from L Europe] devant Constantinople, by Max 
Hoschiller ^I'iiris, 1916), p. 101. 

1 Cited from M. Andre Cheradame's work on La Question d'Orient. 
La Macidotne. Le chemiu defer de Bagdad (Paris, 1903), p. 253. 


German Imperialism had two reasons for wishing 
to keep Russia apart from Europe. 

The first reason is expounded as follows by a German 
military writer, Colonel Hildebrandt : — 

" The advantages acquired by Germany by the con- 
clusion of the treaty relating to the Bagdad Railway 
seriously diminish the influence of Russia in Asia Minor ; 
and the activities of Russia are once more turning 
toward Central Asia, which is, for that matter, her true 
sphere." l 

Russia thrown back upon Central Asia, the German 
domination would spread without hindrance through the 
Balkans, Turkey, and Asia Minor. 

Finally, separated from Europe, Russia would inevit- 
ably have become a German colony, an object of 
exploitation for the subjects of the Kaiser. 

This colossal and permanent blockade would have 
arrested the economic development of Russia, award- 
ing the final supremacy to the Germanophile reaction 
in the Russian Government. 

It is therefore the fact that in its present resistance 
to German Imperialism the Russian people is fighting, 
not merely for the defence of its territory, but for its 
whole future, for liberty of communion in the life of 
the West. 

Happily it has, for its companions in arms, the most 
advanced of the Western Powers. France, Belgium, 
England, Italy, and Serbia (which is the most civi- 
lized of the Slav countries of the Balkans), form, with 
Russia, a single resistant mass to oppose the scheme 
of subjection attempted by Germany and her allies, 
Austria, Turkey, and Bulgaria. 

I will not repeat here what I said in my book on 
Russia and the Great War concerning the effect of 
the present war upon Russian life. I will only call 
the reader's attention to those facts which best exhibit 
this effect. 

The present war with Germany presents this analogy 
* Cheradame, op. cit. p. 255. 


with the war of 1 8 1 2 — it has a national character. All 
the democrats in Russia recognize in this war the cause 
of liberty, external and internal. On the other hand, 
for the reactionaries, the ante-bellum Germanophiles, 
to fight against the junkers is the worst of calamities. 
For a long time they had maintained close connections 
with their political co-religionists in Prussia, and were 
visibly full of complaisance toward them. Kaiserism 
contrived to profit by this weakness of the Russian 
bureaucracy and autocracy, which became its instru- 
ments ; the German advance upon Bagdad, the Austrian 
penetration of the Balkans, the annexation of Bosnia- 
Herzegovina, were regarded with complete favour by 
the friendly reactionaries of Russia, who subordinated 
the international interests of the Empire to their own 
domestic interests. They regret the rupture with 
Kaiserism, which is one of the principal props of 
the present monarchical regime, and the union of 
their country with republican France and the consti- 
tutional States of Great Britain, Italy, and Belgium. 
The champions of progress are of a precisely opposite 
opinion, seeing in the present fraternity of Russia and 
the Western nations a force tending to democratize and 
Europeanize their country. This is why they believe 
that their country will achieve its own liberty when it 
reaches the end of the road leading to victory over 
the external oppressor. 




I. A European State in ancient Russia : the Free City of Novgorod. 
II. The birth of the absolute monarchy and its conflict with 
feudalism — Western influences in Russian feudalism. 


The historians of the old national school love to 
attribute an external cause to the vices of the super- 
annuated political system which has survived in Russia. 
For some, the Tartar yoke vitiated the normal develop- 
ment of the nation. Others accuse the contagion of 
the West of having corrupted the purity of Russian 
morals and the patriarchal relations existing between 
the people and its sovereigns. Both look to the remote 
past for the " true " character and the " national " 
political spirit cited so often and so readily in the 
histories of the " urban republics " of Novgorod and 
Pskov, which they claim to be of purely autochthonous 

Impartial criticism has destroyed this legend, and 
has proved that the republican institutions of the Free 
Cities of Novgorod and Pskov owe their birth and 
their development to a direct external influence — to their 
economic relations with the Free Towns of Europe. 

What was the political constitution of Novgorod? 
The city was governed by a vetche, that is, by a body 
composed of all the citizens. The vetche elected 
tysiatskie (from the word tysiatsha, meaning thousand) 
and the posadnik, that is, the president of the republic. 
The tysiatskie with the posadnik formed a council which 
directed affairs. Mutatis mutandis, this is the same 
urban oligarchy which we find in all the trading cities 



of the Middle Ages, on the shores of the Adriatic (in 
Venice) and the Mediterranean (in Genoa), as on the 
shores of the North Sea (in Flanders, Holland, and 

But Novgorod traded with the Free Towns of 
Germany. As early as the twelfth century it possessed 
" markets of Gothland and Germany," founded by 
foreign merchants from Gothland and Liibeck. In the 
thirteenth century it entered into relations with the 
Hanseatic League ; and it was precisely at this period 
that the burghers freed themselves from the domination 
of princes and set up elective authorities. The moment 
when the foreign trade of Novgorod attained the highest 
pitch of prosperity coincided with the moment when its 
republican institutions were at their apogee. 

The oligarchical form of the Government was 
borrowed by the Russian cities from the foreign urban 
republics with which they were connected by a current 
of exchanges. 

" The success of the foreign trade, which had become 
the principal focus of urban life," says Klutshevsky, 
" resulted in the creation of certain great houses, which 
placed themselves at the head of affairs, and subse- 
quently assumed the direction of the civil administration. 
This aristocracy governed only de facto, and without 
the establishment of the democratic forms of the Novgo- 
rodian constitution." 


This constitution was forcibly suppressed by the 
Muscovite Tsars in the fifteenth century. Then com- 
menced the autocratic Tsarist rtgime which has lasted 
until to-day. 

As I have already stated in my Modern Russia, the 
Muscovite monarchy, in order to become a real auto- 
cracy, had to stifle not only the republican institutions 
of the burghers of the Free Cities of the North-West, 
but also the feudal and separatist tendencies of other 
princes, princelets, boyars, etc. 


Recent historical researches have demonstrated that 
there is an analogy between feudal Europe and the 
Russia of the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth 
centuries. There are similarities even in the terms 
expressing the relations of sovereignty and law between 
the suzerains and vassals of mediaeval Europe and their 
Russian colleagues. 

One question presents itself : Do these resemblances 
arise merely from a coincidence of evolution, or from 
the more or less direct influence of the West? 

It seems to me that this influence cannot be disputed. 
Still, it cannot positively be observed except in the 
western provinces, neighbouring on Lithuania and 
Poland. Poland, as we know, retained, until the loss 
of her independence, a very active and profoundly rooted 
feudal system. The frontier regions of Great Russia 
and the Ukraine were affected by their contact with 
Poland and Polish Lithuania, and it was their local 
nobility which opposed the most obstinate resistance 
to the absolute power which came into being in Moscow. 
To Lithuania and Poland fled those Muscovite boyars 
who were in conflict with the princes and tsars ; for 
instance, Andrei Kurbsky in the reign of Ivan the 

The influence of the West was also very perceptible 
in Galician Russia, where the relations between prince 
and boyar, in the thirteenth and fourteenth century, 
were precisely similar to the relations between the 
European suzerains and their feudatories. The Galician 
princes even made use of seals of Western pattern, and 
the language of their ukases was Latin. At one moment 
they endeavoured to make themselves princes of all 
the Russias. If they had succeeded, events might have 
followed quite a different course. But Asia intervened, 
in the invasions of the nomads and the Tartar yoke, 
which divided South-Western Russia from North- 
Eastern Russia, and forced it into other paths. 

The Government of the Russian State retained the 
imprint of the Tartar yoke. During a long period 


the Russian principalities remained under the Asiatic 
domination, and the Prince of Moscow, although High 
Prince of Russia, was the principal vassal of the Tartar 
Khan, and was subject to his tutelage. It was very 
natural that his Government should be modelled on 
the despotism of Asia. Foreigners who visited Russia 
in the sixteenth century — that is, at the time of the 
formation of the Muscovite autocracy — were amazed by 
what they saw, and wondered whether they were in 
Europe or Asia. M The Russian State greatly resembles 
the Turkish, which the Russians endeavour to imitate," 
said the Englishman John Fletcher (who visited Moscow 
in 1588) in his work On the Russian Commonwealth. 
" Their Government is purely tyrannical ; all its actions 
serve the profit and the advantage of the Tsar ex- 
clusively, and this in the most open and most barbarous 
fashion." ■ The power of the central authority, and 
the foundation of the autocracy, were alike favoured 
by the necessities of the struggle against external 
enemies : firstly against the Asiatic hordes, and then 
against Russia's Western neighbours. With the Asiatics 
Russia was at war until the end of the sixteenth century, 
and her triumph over the Tartars coincided with that 
of the Tsars over the feudal system. The historian 
Klutshevsky is right in asserting that the victory of 
Russia over the Mongols was the victory of Europe 
over Asia. But Georg Plekhanov states, with equal 
reason, that " Europe conquered the Asiatics only be- 
cause she herself had become Asia." 2 M. Plekhanov 
develops this idea in a few remarkable pages of his 

* 1 may remark in passing that the first edition of Fletcher's work, 
published in England at the end of the sixteenth century, was burned 
by order of the English Government, which was anxious to avoid 
offending the Tsar by permitting the expression of certain disagree- 
able truths. In Russia the first edition of this book was published 
in 1848, in a historical review. The number in which it appeared 
was burned, and the editor had anything but an agreeable time, what 
with the censorship, the police, and the gendarmerie. 

• G. Plekhanov, History of the Social Idea in Russia, vol. i. p. 98 
(Moscow, 1914). 


masterly History of the Social Idea in Russia, the 
two volumes of which have lately appeared. In 
the formation of the State in Russia and in Europe 
M. Plekhanov perceives these essential differences : — 

" In Russia, as well as in Europe, the central authority 
was able to overcome the centrifugal aspirations of 
the feudal seigneurs. But in France, for example, 
the kings, while imposing their authority on the nobility, 
did not deprive the latter of the right of possessing 
landed property, and did not subject them to obligatory 
service. Or, as M. d'Avenel remarks, ' privilege was 
not the recompense for service rendered, but the right 
of birth.' In Russia it was quite otherwise. There 
property in land became a State fund, into which the 
Tsars dipped when they wished to repay the services 
of a noble. And what the nobles did for the peasants, 
in putting lands at their disposal in exchange for com- 
pulsory labour, the Tsars did for the nobles, who were 
thus, in a manner of speaking, merely superior serfs." 
This condition of affairs was typical of ancient Chaldea, 
ancient Egypt, and Persia, and in general of all the 
great despotic States of Asia. M. Plekhanov is right 
in comparing Muscovite Russia with these States, and 
in perceiving the elements of Asiatic despotism in the 
evolution of the Russia of this period. 

But Russia did not remain in the stage of political 
development which these States retained until their final 
dissolution. " Russian evolution offers the peculiarity — 
and this time it is in favour of progress — of a great 
resemblance to Asia followed by a very slow but irre- 
sistible turning toward the European West, while the 
Asiatic States, properly so called, do not present us 
with examples of the tendency toward Europeaniza- 
tion until after the middle of the nineteenth century, 
Japan being the foremost." ' 

1 G. Plekhanov, op. cit. 


I. Military power and the reform of the State administration under 
Peter I — Swedish influences. II. The palace revolutions of the 
eighteenth century and the influence of Europe. III. German 
domination, and the anti-Germanic movement under Anna — The 
participation of France and England in the coup d'etat of 1741 — 
A Duke of Holstein the Russian Tsar — His Prussophilia. IV. The 
conspiracy of 1801 and British diplomacy. 


At one particular and very important point the forma- 
tion of the Russian State was unlike that of the 
European States. This point was the organization of 
the military forces. 

In the Western monarchies, thanks to the rapid 
increase of pecuniary wealth, the kings — for example, 
in France — were enabled to take into their service 
mercenary troops, and, consequently, were no longer 
dependent on the seigneurial militia. The replacement 
of the militia by paid troops forced the kings to depend 
on the Third Estate, the source whence they derived 
the necessary money. 

In Russia, on the other hand, the urban bourgeoisie, 
even in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, was 
too weak to be of material help to the Tsars, and the 
military needs were too great to be filled by mercenary 
troops. The military organism had to be constituted 
otherwise than in Europe. 

Until the year 1705 the Russian Army consi 
of a seigneurial cavalry — that is, a mounted militia, a 
few regiments of paid infantry and cavalry. The war 
with Sweden forced Peter's Government to draw with- 


out delay upon other sources. It adopted the principle 
of compulsory recruiting, which was applied, for the 
first time, in 1705, when the Government ordered the 
population to provide it with recruits at the rate of 
one recruit for every twenty peasant (Ivors. } 

Towards the end of the reign of Peter I the Russian 
Army already numbered 200,000 men of the regular 
troops and 100,000 Cossacks and other irregulars. The 
upkeep of these numerous effectives was costly — 
5,000,000 roubles, to which must be added \\ million 
for the maintenance of the fleet, so that the total 
military expenditure on land and sea forces amounted 
to 6j millions, which would be equivalent, in present 
values, to from 52 to 58 millions. 

The suppression of the militia and the creation of 
a standing army demanded a new administration ; the 
old administration consisted of a few very rudimentary 
central bodies known as prikazy, which were directed 
by boyars who had received from the Tsar a prikaz 
— that is to say, an order of attendance. The local 
administration was confided to the vo'ievody (from the 
words voin, soldier, and vodit, to lead), whose name 
indicates their origin and their function ; they were 
civil and military administrators in one. The voievady 
received no fixed salary from the State, and had to 
" maintain themselves (according to the official phrase) 
at the expense of the population." 

This system of administration, based on the prin- 
ciple of the local militia, was not adapted to the new 
organization, and Peter wished to replace it in order 
to centralize the military machine, and above all its 
revenues . 

As Sweden, his enemy, appeared to him the most 
powerful of States, and owed, or so he believed, her 
strength to her good administration, he sent thither 
a foreigner (Tick) in order that he might discover, 
buy, or at need steal, information as to the administra- 

• Dvor means a court or yard, and signifies a family or an economic 
peasant unity. 


tive institutions of Sweden. Moreover, he took into 
his service the Silesian Baron Luberas, of whom I 
have already made mention, and who had the reputation 
of a very extensive knowledge of Swedish affairs. 

What is more, he was able to initiate himself directly 
into Swedish methods by watching them at work in 
the Baltic provinces, which he had conquered. One 
of his ukazes ordered the adoption of these methods 
in certain administrative services. 

He borrowed also from other Western States. After 
his first journey to Holland he created the ratushi and 
bourmistry, in imitation of what he had seen there. In 
1 7 14 he wrote to his " projector " — that is, the official 
who elaborated his schemes of reform, Soltykov by 
name — that he was to send him " the laws which he 
had extracted from the English and other European 
laws, those of the republics excepted." ! Among the 
" laws " which Soltykov sent him was a proposal 
relating to entail, the idea of which was borrowed 
from England, and which was introduced into Russia 
under the modified form of the inalienability and 
indivisibility of seigneurial properties. 

But as a source of inspiration the other States occu- 
pied only a secondary place ; Sweden was the model 
to be copied and faithfully reproduced. In the eyes 
of the Russian Government she not only appeared 
worthy of becoming an object of emulation on account 
of the excellency of her military resources, but she 
was also the only country in Europe in which the 
absolute monarchy had finally defeated the feudal 
system, which elsewhere was still perceptible. More- 
over, the Swedish administration had the reputation 
of being the best of its period. For this very reason 
its adaptation to Russia was a highly audacious under- 
taking — perhaps too audacious. 

* This dislike of republicanism was manifested by an earlier 
monarch, Ivan the Terrible, who, despite .all his symptoms of Anglo- 
philia, interrupted commercial relations with Kngland because " the 
English, according to his own expression, had committed a very evil 
deed : they had put their king, Charles, to death." 


Peter I borrowed from Sweden all the external forms 
of public authority, and created kollegii (colleges) to 
replace the old prikazy ; and the Senate, which con- 
sisted originally of the first presidents of the kollegii ; 
the gubernatory (governors) administering each one 
of the eight gubernii into which Russia was divided, 
and which were subdivided into provintsii (provinces) 
and distrikiy (districts). 

His ukases more than once indicate that " the in- 
structions and regulations " according to which the 
new administration was to function were to be drawn 
up ** in the Swedish fashion," or " with certain changes." 

While he was replacing the old governmental machine, 
Peter believed it necessary to replace the aristocratic 
hierarchy by a bureaucratic hierarchy. In 1722 he 
promulgated, in a ukase, the tabel o rangakh (table 
of ranks) — that is, the scale of tshin (or grades), civil 
and military, in which nearly all the names of the 
bureaucratic posts are borrowed from the Latin or 
German (kollejsky assessor, major, etc.). 

Believing that one "cannot act according to the 
books alone, for in these all circumstances are not 
foreseen," Peter did not confine himself to collecting 
foreign laws and statutes. In^jl ^rm any, Bohemia^^and 
Holland hergcruited jurists, "writers, andaHmmistrators. 
Baron von Luberas alone engaged no less than 150 
officials to enter the service of his Government. 

Having created new administrative bodies, with new 
denominations, having replaced the Russian names 
by European names, Peter believed that he had 
Europeanized the Muscovite State, whose capital, 
baptized with a European name, he had removed, 
geographically, towards the West. But he was deluded. 

To his thinking, the Senate, constituted in 171 1, 
should have seen to the general supervision and higher 
direction of affairs of State ; but from 1 7 1 5 onwards 
he was obliged to subject the Senate itself to the 
supervision of a " General Reviser," whose duty it 
was to attend the sessions of the Senate and to denounce 


to the Tsar those of its members who were neglecting 
their duty. Five years later another official was 
appointed to see that in the Senate " all should be 
done properly, and that there should be no babbling, 
shouting, or other things." He had to note, by the 
aid of an hour-glass, if the deliberations were suffi- 
ciently prompt, and to determine their duration. A 
year later, as he was not sufficient for his task, he 
was replaced by an officer of the Guard, who had 
the right to arrest senators who made use of language 
unseemly or insulting towards their colleagues. At the 
end of yet another year the Senate was finally 
subordinated to a General- prokuror (Procurator- 
General), in whose hands it became, from being the 
highest body in the State, a mere tool. 

The history of the Senate and the other institutions 
created under Peter is deplorable. The senators and 
members of the colleges " played at law as at cards," 
and " mined the fortress of justice " (this is Peter's 
phrase), applying themselves continually to theft and 
intrigue, and to quarrelling. Nearly all the high 
officials disregarded the interests of the State, and 
thought of nothing but their own. At one session of 
the Senate, toward the end of his reign, Peter, when 
the reports of their dishonesty were read to him, ordered 
the immediate publication of a ukase according to which 
any person who stole from the State even the price of 
a rope should be hanged. His favourite, Yagujinsky, 
General Procurator of the Senate, inquired : " Does 
your Majesty wish to remain Emperor by himself, with- 
out any subjects? We all steal ; only some steal 
more and less discreetly than others." 

The condition of the local administrations was no 
better. The new gubernatory and landraty (from the 
German landrath), in spite of their European names, 
robbed the people and the Treasury as thoroughly as 
did the Muscovite volevody. The generals and other 
officers, travelling through the provinces, beat and 
plundered the civil officials. The population, im- 


poverished by wars, taxation, and rapine, fled into the 
steppes or forests, and there formed bands of brigands. 
Peter issued ukase after ukase, threatening and 
chastising, without effecting anything. " The Peters- 
burg official, the general, the provincial seigneur, threw 
the ukases of the terrible Reformer out of the window, 
and, like the forest brigand, recked little that there 
were in the capital an absolute Senate and nine or 
ten ' colleges,' constituted in the Swedish manner, 
with systematically defined attributions. The imposing 
exterior of legal order hid a general disorder." » 

The attempt at Europeanization made in Peter's reign 
failed, we must remember, because it coincided with 
incessant warfare. Although war did enforce reforms, 
it also gave them an accidental and provisional 
character. The aim of the new institutions was fiscal 
and military rather than social and political. Of the 
nine colleges created in 1718, six were to deal with 
finances and military and foreign affairs, one with 
justice, and two with trade and industry. There was .f 
no department of the higher administration to watch 
over the interests of agriculture, which nevertheless 
was the principal occupation of the people. The 
rural population, the real foundation of the State, was 
absolutely neglected by the Government, which sought 
rather to increase the power of the nobles over the 
moujiks . 

The condition of the Russian peasants, which had 
never ceased to grow worse since the end of the six- 
teenth century, became more and more like that of 
the agricultural serfs of the despotic States of the 
East. Peter the Great did not attempt to improve 
it ; on the contrary. Any real Europeanization of 
Russia was therefore impossible, and administrative 
reform was condemned to sterility. 

1 A foreign observer — Fokkerodt — wrote a book upon his sojourn 
in Russia, in the reign of Peter the Great, in which he stated that 
the Tsar despaired of reclaiming his officials, and therefore determined 
to exterminate them by the axe and the gallows, so that wholesale 
death sentences might be expected. However, Peter died first. 




The general disorder which harassed Peter I during 
the Last years of his life persisted and increased under 
his immediate successors. 

Peter the Great, for the first time since the reign 
of Ivan the Terrible, realized the s ' ideal " of abso- 
lute autocracy. In one of his laws he proclaimed 
that " his Majesty was sovereign and autocratic. It 
need reckon with no one in the world." He crushed 
all the forces which might have opposed him ; old 
boyar families were exterminated; the patriarchate 
was replaced by an ecclesiastical Chancellery (Holy 
Synod), subordinated to a civil official. The enforce- 
ment of the " table of ranks " was intended to signify 
that precedence depended not on birth, but exclu- 
sively on the grade in the bureaucracy occupied by 
the will of the Tsar or his mandatories. The trans- 
formation of the Tsarstvo or Tsardom into an Empire 
and the Tsar into an Emperor rendered the rupture 
with the ancien regime still more evident. The Emperor 
concentred in his person, fully and conjointly, the 
powers of the State ; he became the supreme head 
of the army, the head of the Church, the head of 
the bureaucratic hierarchy. 

In 1 613 the first Romanov was elected to the throne 
by the representatives of the population. After this 
the crown was transmitted by inheritance. Peter I, 
rejecting the two principles of election and heredity, 
published in 172 1 a ukase asserting the Emperor's 
right to appoint his successor. The monarchical 
power became not merely absolute, but arbitrary and 

It must, however, be admitted that Peter I did not 
employ his power exclusively for his own advantage, 
but for the good of the State. We may say that he 
often applied means and methods which were those 
of Asiatic despotism to European and progressive ends. 
His successors retained these methods, but to attain 


different ends ; and they confounded their own affairs 
completely with those of the collectivity. 

An absolute monarch, in reality, is absolute only in 
name, because he always is dependent on his entourage, 
his favourites, or his guards. This truth is fully con- 
firmed by the history of the Russian monarchy in the 
eighteenth century. Directly the principle of auto- 
cracy was officially proclaimed, the throne fell into the 
hands of those who surrounded it. 

On the night of the 28th of January, 17,25, while 
Peter the Great lay dying, the officers of the regiments 
of the Guard proclaimed as Empress his wife, 
Catherine I, thus ruining the plans of the high officials, 
who themselves wished to find Peter's successor. But 
the bureaucracy and the aristocracy took their revenge 
by persuading Catherine to form a sort of oligarchical 
Government, which went by the name of the Superior 
Secret Council (in 1726). At the instigation of the 
Council, Catherine left the succession to her grand- 
son, Peter, who in 1727, became the Tsar Peter II. 
Three years later, in 1730, the Superior Secret Council, 
with the aid of the Guard, raised to the throne the niece 
of Peter I, Anna Ivanovna, Duchess of Courland, who, 
before she died, chose for her heir Ivan Antonovitch 
(aged two months), to be Known as Tsar Ivan VI in 
1740. Anna Ivanovna entrusted her favourite, the 
famous Biron, with the regency. But a fortnight after 
the death of the Empress the mother of Ivan VI, 
Anna Leopoldovna, Princess of Brunswick, with the 
aid of the officers and men of the Preobrijensky regi- 
ment, started a palace revolution, deported Biron, and 
proclaimed herself Regent. A year later a conrpany 
of the same regiment effected a fresh coup d'etat, 
replaced Anna Leopoldovna and Ivan VI by the 
daughter of Peter the Great — Yelisaveta Petrovna — 
who reigned for twenty years, and in dying transferred 
the power of the throne to her nephew, the Duke of 
Holstein-Gottorp, Peter III. The reign of this prince 
was very brief ; at the end of six months his wife 



Catherine, born a princess of Anhalt-Zerbst, deposed 
him, with the assistance of the Guards, and assumed 
the reins of power. She remained on the throne for 
thirty-four years (from 1762 to 1796), leaving the 
crown to Paul I, who was deposed and killed in 1801 
by the officers of the Guard. 

Europe was no stranger to all these events. Some- 
times her inspiration may be very plainly distinguished 
therein, and even her intervention ; of this there is 
documentary proof. 

In 1726 the French Ambassador in Petersburg, 
Campredon, wrote to Versailles that the Russian aris- 
tocracy wished to diminish the personal power of 
Catherine I and to organize the Government in the 
English manner. The same opinion was expressed in 
1730 by the Secretary of the French Embassy, who 
stated that in Moscow men were speaking, in the streets 
and in private, of the British Constitution and the 
rights of the English Parliament. During the crisis 
of 1730 the nobles who elected Anna Ivanovna also 
desired to limit the absolute power of the throne, and 
were seeking in the West for the best system of govern- 
ment. 44 The Constitutions of those countries glitter 
in their eyes like jewels in a shop window, each more 
beautiful than the next, and among them all they do 
not know which to choose." The European Ambas- 
sadors reported that there were, in 1730, partisans 
among the nobles of the parliamentary monarchy as 
in England, of the elective monarchy as in Poland, 
and of the monarchy sharing its power with an aris- 
tocratic oligarchy as in Sweden ; there were even 

The Swedish mode won the day, and the election of 
Anna Ivanovna greatly resembled that of Ulrica 
Eleanora, sister of Charles XII, who became Queen 
of Sweden in 17 19. The Superior Secret Council, 
on investing Anna with the power, forced her to sign 
the " points " which limited her authority and sub- 
jected her enactments to the approval and ratifica- 


tion of the Council. Just as in Sweden, the middle 
and the lesser nobles protested against the usurpation 
of the high aristocracy; and Anna Ivanovna, relying 
on this resistance, tore up the konditzii (conditions) 
which had been imposed upon her. As for this 
oligarchical Constitution, it was devised after the 
Swedish model. 

As to the material participation of foreigners in 
the domestic affairs of Russia, politics, the palace 
revolution of 1741 and the murder of Paul I in 1801 
offer two extremely interesting examples of such 


The military pronunciamento which solved the crisis 
of 1741 lent a certain greatness to a mere palace 
revolution. It was an expression of the national and 
patriotic revolt against alien interference in the 
government of the country. 

As I have already remarked, Peter I had estab- 
lished connections with the German world. The con- 
quest of the Baltic provinces added a numerous German 
population to the Empire. In 1731 — that is, only six 
years after Peter's death — the Russian throne was occu- 
pied by a Duchess of Courland, who was half a German. 
Anna Ivanovna, coming to Petersburg, brought with 
her to the capital her whole entourage, composed of 
Courlanders and Livonians. 

" Distrusting the Russians, Anna placed herself under 
the protection of a crowd of foreigners whom she had 
imported from Mitau and various corners of Germany. 
The Germans spread over Russia as sweepings escape 
from a torn sack ; they installed themselves in a crowd 
at the Imperial Court, encompassed the throne, and 
slipped into all the lucrative administrative posts. All 
this motley crew was composed of the kleotoury 
(creatures) of two powerful patrons : of a ' cur of a 
Courlander ' who had but one talent — that of discover- 
ing pedigree dogs (we are speaking of Biron), and 


of a ' cur of a Livonian,' the auxiliary and eventually 
the rival of Biron — Count Loewenwold, oberstallmeister , 
liar, incurable gambler, and peculator. In a dissi- 
pated Court which had no other occupation than the 
sumptuous f£tes organized by another Loewenwold, the 
oberhofmarschall, even more maleficent than his brother, 
the whole crew glutted themselves, gambling with the 
money extracted from the people by means of the 
bastinade. It was not without reason that the 
maintenance of the Court cost, under Anna, five or 
six times as much as under Peter I, although the 
revenues of the State had not increased, but had rather 

The German bureaucrats, according to the same 
author — Klutshevsky — " took up their positions round 
the throne like hungry cats round a bowl of milk, 
and subjected the Empire to the most abominable 
methods of oppression : executions, deportations, 
torture, and persecution." ,f The Tartar invasion 
repeated itself, only this time it came not from the 
southern steppes, but from the Russian capital." 

This picture resembles those drawn in their reports 
by the foreign Ambassadors of Anna's reign ; they, 
too, recorded the intolerable insolence of the favourites 
— German favourites and bureaucrats — and predicted 
a revolution. 

An anti- Germanic movement was forming among the 
officers and soldiers of the Guard and the middle 
and lesser nobility. Having assisted Anna to rid her- 
self of an oligarchy recruited from the Russian aris- 
tocracy, the nobility saw, with irritation and amaze- 
ment, the results of its fidelity to the new Empress 
turned to the advantage of a German oligarchy. The 
idea of a coup d'etat very naturally entered their 
minds, and the conspirators decided to place 
Yelisaveta on the throne. By one of the ironies 
of history, and perhaps its justice also, the daughter 
of Peter I, who in his lifetime was regarded ais a 
" foreigner " and a " German," as an enemy of her 


people, became the incarnation of national feeling in 
revolt against the Germanic tyranny. 

But, which is even more singular, the success of 
this undertaking was assured by the support of 
foreigners, French and Swedish. La Chetardie, the 
French Ambassador, Lestocq, the French doctor, and 
his Swedish colleague, Nolken, were the principal motive 
forces of the plot against the bironovshtshina (the 
rule of Biron), assisting it with their counsel and with 
pecuniary support. 

It may seem surprising that Sweden should have 
served the ambitions of the daughter of Peter the 
Great, the enemy who had deprived her of the Baltic! 
littoral. The fact is that she hoped to obtain in recom- 
pense for her assistance the restitution of a portion of 
her former territories ; and Nolken even requested 
Yelisaveta Pavlovna to engage herself, by secret treaty, 
" always to defend the interests of Sweden." There 
was then a rivalry between Sweden and England, the 
ally of Austria, with whom neither Sweden nor France 
was on good terms. Moreover, these two Powers feared 
the economic and political domination in Europe of 
England, and particularly in Russia. And the English 
Government and English traders were buying favour 
of Biron and other of the German "creatures." 

However, the Germanic intrigue was not completely 
defeated by the accession of Yelisaveta, who confined 
herself to pensioning some of the most notorious of 
the German bureaucrats. The mutiny of a regiment 
of the Guard against its German officers was severely 
repressed. It is true that in Yelisaveta's immediate 
entourage and among her principal political advisers 
there were no Germans, but in choosing as her successor 
Charles Peter Ulric, Duke of Holstein, Yelisaveta was 
not only leaving the crown to a German, but was 
Germanizing the dynasty : the Russian House of 
Romanov was from that moment replaced by the House 
of Romanov-Holstein-Gottorp, which was German rather 
than Russian. Becoming Tsar under the name of Piotr 


Fedorovitch (Peter III), the Duke of Holstein "could 
not enlarge his narrow Holsteiner mind to the measure 
of the vast Empire which destiny had bestowed upon 
him ; on the contrary, once on the Russian throne, he 
became more the Holsteiner than he had been at home." 

He sought in all things to imitate Frederick II, 
King of Prussia ; but such a model was too mighty 
for his petty faculties, so that he only succeeded in 
caricaturing it. He bore himself like a Prussian 
soldier, publicly kissing the bust of Frederick and 
kneeling before his portrait ; he wore the Prussian 
uniform, which he imposed on the Russian Army ; he 
himself mounted guard before the apartments of 
Frederick's Ambassador in token of his respect for 
his master ; he made the Russian Army the guardian 
of the glory and the benefits acquired by the King of 
Prussia. He ordered the Holy Synod to " purify the 
Russian churches " — that is, to remove the ikons (those 
of Jesus and the Virgin excepted) — and to impose on the 
popes the costume and external appearance of Lutheran 
pastors ; and he recruited Prussian soldiers and 
corporals in order to form a private Holsteiner Guard. 

In this way he contrived to get himself dethroned, 
and, a week later, killed, by officers of the Russian 

This was a fresh check to the German penetration 
of Russia. But the M ' German party " was not 
destroyed. It merely became more prudent, and was 
thus able to increase and retain its privileges. In 
the Imperial Court the names of the dignitaries even 
in our days are German : as freiline (Jraiilein), 
Kammerfrau, Kammer junker, Kammerherr, stallmeister ; 
hofmeister, etc. In the upper civil and military 
bureaucracy the elements of German origin were, and 
still are, very numerous. This state of affairs has 
been summed up by an eminent contemporary, Emile 
Vandervelde, in the following sentence : M Russia is 
the greatest democracy in the world, ruled by a small 
German colony." 



The coup d'etat of 1801, which deprived Paul I 
of his throne and his life, was not the retaliation of 
patriotism, as was the fall of his father, Peter III, or 
the elevation to the throne of Yelisaveta. But foreign 
influence played a very large part in it. 

The Russian nobility, as we have seen, was extremely 
dissatisfied with the economic policy followed by Paul I 
in respect of England. M The rupture with England, 
which was injurious to the material interests of the 
nobility, increased its hatred of Paul, which had already 
been whetted by a cruel despotism. The thought of 
annihilating Paul, by whatever means, became almost 
general," writes a contemporary. 

But the foreign policy of the Tsar was still more 
odious to the English Government and to English trade. 
This explains why England, in the person of the English 
Ambassador, was involved in the plot against Paul. 

'•' English diplomacy did all it could to overthrow 
Paul. The English Ambassador in Petersburg, Whit- 
worth, took an active part in the first conspiracy against 
Paul (the plot was spun in the spring of 1800, that 
is, about a year before the final catastrophe) . . . 
whose very form was ' English ' : Paul was to have 
been declared insane, as George III of England was 
a little later ; and Alexander Pavlovitch would have 
become Regent. The enterprise was so far decided 
upon that Panine (in touch with Whitworth and the 
leader of the conspiracy) was already inquiring of 
foreign diplomatists as to the forms with which such 
an action would be invested abroad ; this was neces- 
sary, for England, a parliamentary State, could not 
furnish Russia with any juridical precedent." 

And the failure, or rather the miscarriage, of the 
first conspiracy, according to the same historian, was 
due to the fact that .Whitworth had left Petersburg ; 
but from abroad he still remained in touch with the 
Russian nobility, Paul's enemies, and continued to aid 


in fostering the excitement which prepared the way 
for the second conspiracy and the violent death of 
the sovereign. 

British diplomacy was not deceived in its calcula- 
tions, for the overthrow of Paul resulted in the imme- 
diate " reconciliation of Russia with England," as Prince 
Adam Czartoryski remarks in his Memoirs. 

Profitable to England, the death of Paul was by no 
means disadvantageous to Russia, for he was one of 
the worst tyrants known to history. 

One might add that by contributing, on this 
occasion, to the deliverance of Russia, England made 
up, to some extent, for the support which she had 
formerly given Biron and his German acolytes, the 
exploiters and oppressors of the Russian people. 

Although the nobles who overthrew Paul I received 
advice and perhaps material help from England, the 
ideas which gave birth to their conspiracy and the 
pleas in its favour were borrowed from France. Certain 
memoirs of contemporary Russian nobles endeavour to 
justify the murder of the tyrant by arguments taken 
from the French revolutionary authors. They speak 
of the just and holy hatred of tyranny in the expressive 
language of the sans- culottes ; so that a Russian Con- 
servative, Count Rostopshin, jestingly remarked that 
in Russia the aristocrats had aims which in France 
were the speciality of cobblers. 

But, as we shall see, this comparison is not exact. 


I. The renaissance of feudalism — Catherine II and the European 
sources of her ideas. II. Attempts to Europeanize Russia under 
Alexander I — Anglophilia — Central institutions — Speransky and 
his French loans. III. The Decembrists — The European elements 
in their ideology and their actions — The Spanish model — The 
reaction of Austro-German origin — The Baltic nobles crush the 
insurrection of the Decembrists. 

We must not exaggerate the social amplitude or political 
significance of those " revolutions " which from time 
to time, during the eighteenth century, shook the Russian 
throne. Despite all the violence which they displayed, 
they were yet limited to a clash between the central 
power and the nobility, and the great masses of the 
people did not take part in them. 

Despite their phraseology, often extremely demo- 
cratic, the nobles were in reality contending merely for 
their own class interests, which during this century 
achieved an increasingly complete supremacy. In the 
seventeenth century and the first quarter of the 
eighteenth, service in the civil or military administra- 
tion was obligatory for the nobility, and the law estab- 
lished two categories of landed property as affecting 
the nobility : the votschina and the pomiestie. The 
first was a true hereditary estate, the second was merely 
a benefice of which the Tsar remained the proprietor, 
granting the usufruct to the nobles in payment for 
services. In 1731 the nobility obtained a ukase which 
abolished the distinction between the two kinds of 

property, and the pomiestii, with the peasants attached 



to the soil, belonged thenceforward unconditionally to 
their holders. In 1753, under Yelisaveta, the State 
undertook the material support of the nobility and 
created the Nobles' Bank to grant them credit on 
favourable terms. But these privileges did not satisfy 
them, and they demanded the abolition of obligatory 
service. Yelisaveta gave way, and in a manifesto, 
published in 1762 by her successor, Peter III, and 
known as " the Manifesto concerning the liberty of 
the Nobility," exempted the nobility from service 
in the civil administration and the army, so that what 
had been a legal obligation was now only a moral 
duty. From that time the dvorianie (nobles) ceased to 
be the serfs of the State. They became its masters, 
for about this time they themselves had realized the 
advantages attaching to the possession of administra- 
tive posts of any importance. The " table of ranks " 
remained legally in force, but in fact the bureaucratic 
hierarchy began to correspond with the aristocratic 
hierarchy, with its "genealogical books": as on the 
one hand officials who had reached a certain grade 
obtained a title of nobility, while on the other hand the 
nobility reserved for itself the majority of the higher 
posts, so that the " table of ranks " lost the character 
which Peter the Great had wished it to preserve, and 
little by little became, at least in respect of its higher 
grades, a fresh means of reinforcing the power of the 

The seigneurs, absolute and irresponsible masters 
of their serfs in their pomiest'iis, dealt with affairs of 
State in the same spirit. The administration of the 
Empire resembled that of a seigneurial domain. Public 
interest was assimilated to private interest in that the 
officials whose duty it was to watch over it subordi- 
nated it to their personal aspirations and made use 
of it to enrich themselves. All other classes — the 
bourgeoisie, higher and lower, the peasantry, and the 
clergy — were regarded as inferior to the nobility. 
Russia had become a State of nobles. 



In one of the chapters of the first Part of this book 
I have demonstrated that the increasing power of the 
nobility was opposed to the economic evolution of the 
country, and also checked the development of capitalistic 
industry. From the third quarter of the eighteenth 
century an opposition between the economic tendencies 
and the political forms of the State became increasingly 

Moreover, the peasants, exploited by the nobles, 
began to grow impatient. As early as the reign of 
Yelisaveta a series of disturbances broke out in the 
midst of the rural population. 

All these disorders on the one hand, and on the other 
the invasion of European ideas, impelled the Govern- 
ment of Catherine II to attempt certain reforms. 

As to the foreign inspiration of Catherine's ideas, 
modern historians have discovered that it was far more 
extensive, although far more superficial, than was 
formerly supposed. It has been proved that the most 
important political work of this sovereign, that known 
as the Nakaz, was merely a systematic plagiarism of 
Montesquieu's Esprit des Lois. M. Pokrovsky states 
that Catherine simply stole from Montesquieu. M. 
Haumant, more chivalrous in his dealings with this 
crowned head, expresses the same opinion with more 
politeness. '•' Indeed," he says, " in the Nakaz it is 
Montesquieu who, wielding the pen of Catherine, treats 
of government, of justice, of the rights of the citizen — 
excepting when, as occasionally, it is his disciple 

Catherine wrote her Nakaz (Instructions) so that 
it might serve as instructions to the Commission which 
was to elaborate the new code of laws ; a Commission 
invoked by her in 1767, again under the impulse of 
Western Liberalism. This body was composed of 
delegates of the various classes of society, the clergy 
and the peasantry excepted. This exclusion of the 


peasantry shows that the Government's views were not 
sufficiently broad to assure all citizens of the possibility 
of making audible their complaints and their desires. 

The labours of the Commission, whose members, 
coming from various regions of Russia, presented the 
nakazy of their electors, brought to light, in the first 
place, a conflict between the nobility and the bourgeoisie 
of the cities, the latter being prejudiced by the privi- 
leges of the former, and, secondly, the fact that the 
nobles themselves were not satisfied with the situation, 
but desired to extend their rights by limiting the power 
of the monarch. Severe criticism was expressed by 
the members of the Commission, and Catherine replied 
by dissolving the assembly. Thus died, before it had 
really entered upon life, this feeble imitation of the 
States General of France. 

This brief incident shows how far Russia then differed 
from France. The convocation of the States General 
in France led to the revolutionary movement and the 
end of the monarchy ; the rapid dissolution of the 
Commission of 1767, on the other hand, proves that in 
Russia the monarchical power won the day against 
the forces which might have become hostile to it. In 
France the Third Estate, having become economically 
stronger than the noblesse, was in a position to seize 
upon the political reins also ; whereas in Russia the 
noblesse, economically and politically, kept the upper 
hand. The last States General convoked in France 
resulted in a clash between the Third Estate and the 
nobility, which was supported by the power of royalty ; 
the Russian Commission of 1767 betrayed only the 
most superficial disagreement between the nobility and 

The dissolution of the Commission irritated the 
nobles ; but a social and political danger made its 
appearance, which suddenly reconciled them with the 
central power : the insurrection directed against them 
both by the Cossacks and the peasants, led by Yemelian 
Pugatshev, during the years 177.3-75. 


Pugatshev's rising had nothing 1 anti-monarchical 
about it ; indeed, its leader, in order to gain the 
sympathies of the population, assumed the title of the 
Tsar Peter III (who had been deposed and put to 
death by Catherine IPs supporters). The Cossacks 
and peasants led by him rose against the Empress in 
the name of the " lawful Tsar " ; another dissimilarity 
to the beginnings of the French Revolution, in which 
the republican tendencies were so evident. 

But the Pugatshevshtshina had well-defined social 
aims : it was directed against the nobles, of whom 
more than fourteen hundred (according to the official 
figures) were hanged by Pugatshev and his partisans. 

Catherine had reasons for fearing this revolt. She 
herself had aggravated the economical and legal con- 
ditions of the peasants; by one of her ukases she 
forbade serfs to lodge complaints against their masters 
in the courts or with the Government. This inhuman 
measure dated from 1767 — that is, the very year in 
which the Empress convoked the famous Commission 
which was to elaborate the new code, and copied, jn 
her manuscript books, the liberal propositions of the 
French Encyclopaedists. Three delegates sent to 
Petersburg, despite the prohibition, by serfs employed 
in provincial industries, in order to lodge complaints 
against those who were exploiting them and torturing 
them, were cruelly punished, each receiving a hundred 
blows of the knout, after which their noses were burned 
with hot irons and they were deported to Siberia for life. 

While discussing lofty problems of justice and liberty 
with the French philosophers, Catherine extended serf- 
dom, introducing it in regions in which it had never 
yet existed (in the Ukraine). She distributed lands 
with the peasants dwelling thereon to many of her 
favourites. She was thus personally interested in the 
regime against which Pugatshev had taken up arms. 
The Pugatshevshtshina reconciled her with that portion 
of the nobility which the fate of the Commission inclined 
to rebellion. In face of the danger threatening them, 


peasants, nobles, and the autocracy were united. The 
phraseology of the " cobblers " was quickly rejected 
by the alarmed nobles. 

Later on it was the French Revolution which gave 
the masters of Russia another lesson of the same kind. 
The schemes of liberal reform were finally forgotten by 
Catherine, and the country, at the end of her reign, 
retained the same seigneurial regime as before her 
time. It is true that Catherine II wished to make 
certain concessions to the middle-class citizen, and she 
published, in 1785, the " Charter granted to the Cities," 
which enabled them to elect municipal councils or dum>y. 
But these dunvy had no real power and no real rights ; 
they were empowered and intended merely to super- 
vise the incidence and collection of the taxes, whose 
tariff was determined not by them, but by the Govern- 
ment. The sovereign authority, on the other hand, 
became still more powerful. The number of the 
governors increased, and their powers were extended, 
under Catherine II, who created new gubernii, and 
then a mass of administrative and judicial machinery 
in each gubernlya ; the gubernskoye pravlenie for 
general administration, the kazennaya palata (fiscal 
chamber), and the kaznatsheistvo (treasury), and certain 
general and special tribunals. This system brought 
a certain external order into the working of the 
machinery of oppression, and it subsisted into the 
middle of the nineteenth century, until the " Period 
of the Great Reforms," under Alexander II. But at 
bottom it was half-bureaucratic, half -feudal. The 
governors, officially termed *•' masters of the guber- 
niya" justified their title by exercising an absolute 
power, and the memory of the " satraps of Catherine " 
is even yet not extinct. These officials were selected 
from among the noble seigneurs. 

The nobility also obtained a " charter " from 
Catherine ; it bore no resemblance whatever to the 
charter of the cities, but completed the emancipation 
of the nobility, which was commenced by the mani- 


festo of 1762. Finally liberated from all responsi- 
bility toward the State, it was endowed with a 
corporative Constitution, with the faculty of forming, 
in each guberniya, a privileged body, and the right 
of representation in all the various administrative 
bodies. It therefore shared with the Crown in the 
direction of affairs. 

Such were the reforms of Catherine, the pupil of 
Voltaire, Diderot, and Montesquieu. Such was the 
orientation of the life of the Russian Empire at the 
precise moment when the noblesse of France was on 
the eve of losing all its privileges and the French 
people was changing the monarchy for a Republic. 


A few changes of form were thus introduced in the 
local administrations, but Catherine left intact the entire 
central organism of the Empire and its entire social 
basis. Yet she herself perfectly well understood that 
it was precisely here that the real Europeanization of 
the Government must commence. 

The principal peculiarity of the modern European 
State, which distinguishes it from the feudal State- 
domain, in which the private interest of the master 
replaces the public interest, and of the Asiatic .despotism, 
in which the personal will of the sovereign is above 
all laws, consists precisely in the fact that its legisla- 
tion is not subject to the arbitrary will of an absolute 
monarch. This principle was still unknown to the 
Russian Empire at the end of the eighteenth century. 

Catherine II wished to remedy this grave defect. 
She devotes a page of her Nakaz to proving the neces- 
sity of establishing a juridical distinction between a 
law, which is a stable disposition, and a ukase, which 
it issued on account of a particular and ephemeral 
need. In order that the laws should derive from another 
source than the Governmental decrees, it was therefore 
necessary to create legislative institutions. Catherine II 
did nothing of the kind ; she maintained the omnipo- 


tence of the autocrat, the legislator, and the master of 
the Government. In this respect, therefore, the Empire 
was inferior to the Muscovite zemstvo of the sixteenth 
and eighteenth centuries, which comprised a Boyarskaiya 
(Council of Boyars) entrusted with the preparation 
of new laws, and the Zemskii Sobory (territorial 
assemblies), to which the representatives of the various 
provinces were convoked from time to time in order 
to discuss the principal problems of legislation. 

Catherine's successor was completely hostile to all 
ideas of national representation. 1 He preferred to 
govern by means of ukases, issued at random, which 
dealt with the most important affairs of State and the 
pettiest questions of private life, conditioning even the 
shape of hats or carriages. The permanent interven- 
tion of the supreme power contributed greatly to 
increase the hatred felt for it by its subjects. 
Alexander I had to devote several months to issuing 
a series of ukases annulling those of his predecessor. 

Then Alexander I and his collaborators began to 
elaborate schemes of reform. The necessity of re- 
establishing the alliance with England having been one 
of the principal causes of the fall of Paul I, his son, 
at the beginning of his reign, displayed a certain degree 
of Anglophilia, under the influence of his " young 
friends," Novossiltsev and Kotshubey. There was some 
question of creating a House of Lords and a respon- 
sible Ministry, after the English pattern. The celebrated 
English jurist, Jeremy Bentham, was asked for his advice. 

But in place of a House of Lords the year 1801 saw 
the birth of a Permanent Council {Nepremenny Soviet), 
appointed by the Emperor, whose mission was " to 
establish the power and the prosperity of the Empire 
on the immovable foundation of the law." He also 

* The following fact proves the strength of this hostility : Paul I 
undertook a journey in the east of Russia in the company of a member 
of his suite, who showed him a wood, saying, " Your Majesty, these 
are the first representatives of the forests of the Ural." Paul was 
so offended by the phrase that he disgraced the person who had 
employed it. 


created responsible Ministries, but they were respon- 
sible only to the Emperor. The Senate, in 1802, 
obtained the right to make " representations " to the 
Emperor respecting defective laws and ukases ; but 
when it ventured to make use of this privilege the 
Emperor appeared to be so greatly displeased that it 
did not repeat the experiment. The first years of 
Alexander's reign did no more than introduce a few 
superficial modifications of the bureaucratic machine. 

In reality, a fancy for reform and the real aspirations 
of the absolute power were irreconcilable. " Alexander 
positively desired that the ministers should be respon- 
sible. ' But if a minister refused to countersign a ukase 
of your Majesty's,' some one objected, ' would that 
ukase nevertheless be valid?' 'Certainly,' he replied; 
' my ukase must in any case be executed.' That is how 
he conceived responsibility." * 

Ten years later Alexander was attacked by a fresh 
access of the reforming fever, and entrusted Speransky 
with the preparation of a scheme of complete renovation 
as regards the central institutions of the State. An 
admirer of Napoleonic France, Speransky borrowed 
therefrom nearly all the essential elements of his struc- 
ture. He admitted the principle of the separation of 
powers, concentrated the executive in the hands of the 
Council of Ministers, referred the judicial power to the 
Senate and the legislative power to a State Duma 
{Gosudarstvennaiya Duma), consisting of deputies 
elected according to the principles of the French 
Constitution of the year VIII. 

This system was fairly favourable to the bourgeois 
influences in social and economic life. A modern his- 
torian even regards Speransky as " the interpreter of a 
bourgeoisie enriched by the Continental Blockade, and 
aspiring to overthrow the autocracy and the privileges 
of the nobles by means of a Constitution." It is to be 

1 A. Pypine, Member of the Imperial Academy of Petersburg, The 
Social Movement in Russia under Alexander I, 3rd ed. (Petersburg, 
1900), p. 118. 



remarked, by the way, that it was under Alexander I 
that the bourgeoisie was finally permitted to buy landed 
property, a privilege previously confined to the nobles. 

But the " Third Estate " of Russia once more proved 
too weak to despoil the nobility, and Speransky's plan 
was executed only very imperfectly. 

The State Duma projected by him, although con- 
sultative and deprived of any right of initiative, seemed 
too dangerous to the autocracy, and a Council of 
State only was established {Gosudarstvennyi Soviet), 
appointed by the Emperor. According to Speransky, 
the legal decisions of this Council were to possess the 
force of law only after the approbation of the Emperor, 
while the Imperial ordinances, issued in the form of 
ukases, could not be regarded as laws. But Alexander 
never regarded himself as bound by the decisions of the 
Council ; very often he approved of the recommenda- 
tions not of the majority but the minority, and some- 
times he would even take the part of a single member 
against all the rest, annulling the entire work of the 
Assembly by a stroke of the pen. 

Toward the end of his reign the role of the Council 
of State was reduced to the vanishing-point, and the 
Council of Ministers possessed itself of the entire legis- 
lative power, submitting directly to the Imperial appro- 
bation measures which should have been passed by 
the Council of State. 

After 1 8 1 5 the spirit of reaction finally got the upper 
hand, raising to power a brutal and unintelligent man, 
the cruel Count Araktsheev. The official attempt to re- 
organize and Europeanize the State was thus check- 
mated. " Russian progress does not follow a straight 
line, but zigzags," and " the fair commencement of the 
days of Alexander " ended in a gloomy regression. 

The power of the State continually failing to realize 
any real amelioration of the political system, the 
Liberals and progressives endeavoured to make up for 


its deficiencies. The solution adopted by the Decern 1 ' 
brists was more radical than that of the " young 
friends " of Alexander and Speransky. Instead of a 
subtle distinction between a " law " and a " ukase," 
between a legal measure voted by the Council of Empire 
and a personal decree of the sovereign's, they intended 
to evade even the possibility of a conflict between the 
two authorities, and to confine legislation to one single 
and constitutional source. 

The Decembrists sought models in Europe ; their 
projects for a constitutziya (constitution) were copied 
from Western institutions. 

The more modern were borrowed from England. 
That of Nikita Muraviev consisted, according to the> 
testimony of his comrade Yakushkin, of "an abridged 
reproduction of the British Constitution." Some his- 
torians assert (and M. Emile Haumant repeats in Jus 
Culture f ran false en Russie) that the partisans of Nikita 
Muraviev had obtained the essential points of their 
system from the laws of the United States. " The Con- 
stitution of the United States furnished most of the 
articles relating to the power of the prince." This is 
an obvious error, for the United States knew nothing of 
the " power of the prince," so could not afford any 
precedent on this point. A contemporary says of 
Muraviev's project : *' Admitting the monarchical form 
of government, it differed fundamentally from the 
American Constitution in the aristocratic principle of its 
franchise. ... It granted the enjoyment of political 
rights to a fairly considerable franchise as regards 
eligibility, and a smaller, but still indispensable rating, 
as regards the electorate." It was, therefore, not from 
the American Constitution that the moderate Decem- 
brists obtained the fundamental elements of their own 
project, but only its details. For the general provisions of 
the scheme it was always to England that they applied. 

Nikita Muraviev even placed under contribution some 
articles of the Spanish Constitution of 1812, this being 
at the time the newest, although its origins went back 


to the French Constitution of 1791 and the Declaration 
of Rights. 

His comrades, more radical, having Pestel at their 
head, were the immediate pupils of France. Pestel 
followed Destutt de Tracy step by step ; to him he 
owed all that was essential in his conceptions ; a 
strongly pronounced republicanism, an absolute rejec- 
tion of hereditary monarchy, and governmental cen- 
tralization. In France also he found an organization 
of the powers of the State suited to his Russian 
Republic: a Directory resembling that of the year 
III, two legislative assemblies, like the Council of 
Ancients and the Five Hundred, judicial institutions, etc. 

The Decembrists were the disciples of Europe also 
in the matter of the means by which they should attain 
their ends. The political societies which they founded 
reproduced the European models which those of their 
party who had served in the last wars against France 
had learned to know in the West. The statutes which 
they drafted were an adaptation, sometimes an almost 
literal translation, of those of the German Jugendbund. 
Naturally, the Decembrist associations, being illegal and 
revolutionary, had no other resemblance to the Jugend- 
bund, which was legal and conservative, having been 
formed M to support the throne of the sovereign of 
Prussia and the House of Hohenzollern against the 
immoral spirit of the period " — that is, the revolutionary 
spirit. This is why the Decembrists, while borrowing 
the phrasing of their statutes from the Jugendbund, 
borrowed the spirit of their activity, from Republican 
France and her institutions. 

They were particularly impressed by the Spanish 
revolutionary movement, which was directed, like their 
own, by officers. The leader of the military rising of 
1820, General Riego, who was executed, was for them 
a " holy martyr," and they distributed his portrait in 
Petersburg in a spirit of propaganda. The history of 
Spain filled some Russian Liberals with hatred of the 
monarchy and attached them to the Republic. The 


author of one of the projected Constitutions, Count 
Dmitriev Momanov, wrote that the Spanish system was 
a very wise one, but was not entirely suited to Russia, 
since it retained the monarchical principle. " iWhat has 
become of the members of the Cortes? " he asks indig- 
nantly. " They were deported, tortured, condemned to 
death— and by whom? By an animal for whom they 
had preserved the crown." 

M. Haumant reproaches the Decembrists with not 
having reckoned sufficiently with the spirit of the public, 
which was not ready for the transformations imagined 
by them, and with having sought " to transplant France 
into Russia." This reproach is not merited, for the 
Decembrists made many concessions to the ideas and 
conditions then prevailing, and even to the interests of 
the nobles, to which class they belonged. Other modern 
historians accuse the Decembrists of having been too 
moderate in the social department of their programme. 

.What is certain is that the love of country animated 
the Decembrists and guided all their aspirations. On 
the other hand, the reactionary policy which they were 
righting so ardently was truly inimical to the nation, 
hindering its development, and was only too often in- 
spired by alien influences, as is very clearly demon- 
strated by the Russian academician, A. Pypine, in his 
excellent work on The Social Movement in Russia tinder 
Alexander I. 

" Shortly after the Congress of Vienna the peoples 
emerged from their enchantment. Instead of free insti- 
tutions the reaction created that * policeman's State ' 
which, says a German writer, ' knew nothing of citizens 
dwelling in a fatherland, but merely ruled herds which 
were brutish as domestic cattle.' This form of ' police- 
man's State ' had long been established in Germany and! 
Austria. During the later years of Alexander's reign an 
attempt was made to extend it to Russia ; the pro- 
cedures and the language which this form of government 
had invented were adopted, and were for a long time to 
maintain themselves intact in our country. After the 


Congress of Vienna, Alexander was surrounded by the 
inspirations and the secret counsels of the German reac- 
tionaries. . . . Hatred of popular liberty reached an 
especial development in Austria. In Vienna the aristo- 
cratic reaction was hatching its schemes. Metternich 
and his right hand, Geuz, invented a theory of reaction ; 
and the house of the Russian Ambassador, A. Razou- 
movsky, became, among others, an asylum for aristo- 
crats from all parts of Europe. The higher circles of 
Russian society, which prided itself on its political 
influence, and liked to think itself a power in European 
affairs, readily absorbed the ideas of the Austrian 
feudalists and the French emigris. . .. . Austrian 
diplomacy, as early as 1813, was suspicious of the 
democratic movement in Prussia. . „ . The King of 
Prussia readily, assented to these suggestions, and even 
went beyond them. . ,. . »We know, on the other hand, 
what were the opinions of the French Emperor, who 
could not suffer the word ' constitution,' even in the 
medical sense. Such were the men to whom the 
Emperor Alexander joined himself to form the Holy 

Alliance iW.e will not enter into the details of 

the ways in which the European reaction crept into 
Alexander's mind ; it is enough to say. that by 1820 
he shared its views, and the last years of his reign 
presented a strange imitation of the measures then 
invented by the German ' policeman's State ' against 
pretended conspiracies and an imaginary spirit of 
revolution." l 

The work of the external reaction was reinforced 
internally by that of the aristocrats and the foreign 
bureaucrats in general and the German bureaucrats in 
particular. Even during the war of 181 2 certain 
Russians were annoyed by the preponderating power 
exerted by the aliens in Alexander's immediate 
entourage, and by the German generals in particular, 
certain of whom were thoroughly incapable, like the 
famous General Pfuhl, of whom Tolstoi gives us so 

• A. Pypine, op. cit. pp. 431-33. 


living a portrait in his War and Peace. This clearly 
explains the ultra-nationalistic traits to be found in 
the projected Constitutions of the Russian Liberals 
and Radicals of Alexander's reign. Thus Dmitriev- 
Mamonov held that the members of the House of 
Lords which he considered necessary should be of the 
Graeco- Russian faith, and none were to be elected to 
the second chamber but Russians, members of the 
Orthodox Church. The Order of the Knights of Russia, 
the precursor of the Decembrist societies, aimed, among 
other things, at " depriving foreigners of all influence 
in affairs of State," and even at " deporting for good 
and all, and even putting to death, foreigners occupying 
posts in the State." One of the Decembrist leaders, A. 
Muraviev, on founding the political society known as 
the Union of Security, stated that it was destined to 
M fight the Germans in the service of Russia." 

Among those who took part in the insurrection of 
December 14, 1825, we find very few bearers of 
German names. Pestel, and Pushkin's friend, the poet 
Kuchelbaecker, were sincere Russian patriots, though of 
German birth. The very names of the Decembrist and 
anti-Decembrist societies proclaim their nationalism ; the 
Order of Russian Knights, the Society of United Slavs. 

Among their adversaries, the aristocracy and the 
reactionary bureaucrats, German names were of com- 
mon occurrence ; and the Germans displayed a great 
activity. The first disturbances in the Imperial Guard, 
which occurred in 1820, were provoked by the hateful 
brutality of the German colonel, Schwarz, commander 
of the Semenovsky Regiment. The Decembrist insur- 
rection itself was crushed by German hands. When the 
insurgents assembled in the Place du Senat in order to 
demand a Constitution, and began their armed attack 
(which was not well prepared), the Russian generals 
did not know what to do. But "the Baltic officers 
decided to take the initiative, and it was on the advice 
of Baron Tol that artillery fire was opened upon the 
conspirators." Nicolas I desired, later on, to "draw a 


veil over the part played by the Germans in the repres- 
sion of the rising," says M. Pokrovsky, but " when one 
runs through the list of the champions of the ' rightful 
cause ' against the revolt, one is struck by the abundance 
of Baltic names : those of the Benkendorffs, Griinwalds, 
Frederichs, and Kaulbars gleam from every page." In 
fact, says M. Pokrovsky, the German noblesse of the 
Baltic provinces " was the most strongly feudal of all 
the nobles of the Empire." 

" The most loyal of the Germans " was Prince 
Eugene of Wiirtemberg, general in the Russian Army ; 
and it was he who assumed the command of the troops 
hurled against the insurrection. 


I. The Tartar o- Prussian Empire under Nicolas I — The knout and 
the shpitzruteny — The necessity of reforms. II. The " Period 
of the Great Reforms " and its European sources — A fresh step 
to the rear. 

The revolution once suppressed, and the Decembrists 
hanged or deported and legal order re-established, it 
only remained for the Government of Nicolas I to main- 
tain it. How disastrous were the measures taken with 
this end in view we have already seen by the opinion 
quoted on an earlier page, of General Kuropatkin, ex- 
Minister of War. Under Nicolas I the despotic Asiatic 
conceptions of government attained their greatest ex- 
pansion, and the Russian Tsar became " the most 
powerful sovereign in the world." In order to preserve 
his power intact, the Government endeavoured to, 
separate Russia from the civilization of the .West by 
hermetically sealed partitions. The only " European " 
model which it regarded as worthy of being followed 
in Russia was the police and military system of Prussia. 
To combine the slavery of the East with the discipline 
of the Prussian barracks — this was the naive ideal of the 
autocracy and the bureaucracy. 

It was realized to perfection in the " military 
colonies " organized by Count Araktsheev. The 
peasants attached to these colonies lived in houses of 
the same dimensions and the same colour, which were 
ranged along the street like a rank of soldiers. They 
cultivated the soil, divided, like soldiers, into com- 
panies, under the supervision and command of 



" leaders." Their agricultural labours were thus 
veritably " militarized " in the Prussian manner, and 
their life as well. Every action, every movement of 
these peasants was regulated and ordered beforehand. 

The administration was convinced that the authorities 
ought to inspire a " salutary dread " in the people. The 
Tartar knout and the German shpitzruteny were its 
principal instruments. 1 Here is a description of the 
punishment of the shpitzruteny introduced by Arakt- 
sheev, whose name {spitzruten) indicates its origin: — 

" A thousand brave Russian soldiers stand in two 
ranks, facing one another. In the hand of each man 
is placed a rod — shpitzruten ; the living ' green lane ' 
is gaily waving, swaying in the air. They bring the 
criminal, naked to the belt ; his arms are attached to 
the stocks of two muskets ; before him march two 
soldiers, who make sure that he shall go forward slowly, 
so that the shpitzruten shall have time to leave its marks 
on his skin. Behind him, on a sledge, is a coffin. The 
sentence is read ; the lugubrious rolling of the drum 
is heard. One, two I And the green lane begins to 
lash the victim on the right side, then on the left. . . . 
In a few minutes his body is covered with broad stripes, 
red and contused ; the drops of blood spring to the 
surface. . . . ' Have pity, my little brothers ! ' This 
cry pierces the dull rolling of the drum. But to have 
pity is to be beaten in turn, then and there. So the lane 
of birch-rods strikes more fiercely. Soon the back and 
sides are simply one wound ; here and there the skin 
comes off in strips. The living dead advances slowly, 

' M. Anatole Leroy-Beaulicu states that the word knout " seems 
rather of Aryan origin, if it is not Germanic ; it has at all events 
the same root as the German knotcn " (L Empire des Tsars ct Us 
Russes, vol. ii. p. 414, 3rd ed.). " For the rest, corporal punish- 
ments were characteristic of ancient Russia, in which the Byzantine 
influence was perhaps in reality more ancient than the Tartar in- 
fluence." To this assertion we may oppose that of Count Orlov, 
who declared, as long ago as 1861, that " where Russia was able to 
develop without the direct influence of the Mongols and the tshinovniki 
there were no corporal punishments." 


bound to the rifle-butts, covered with tatters of his 
own flesh, wildly rolling his leaden eyes. . . . He falls. 
But he must still be beaten — for a long time yet. The 
body is placed on the sledge and again he passes, and 
again, between the two ranks, whence fall without inter- 
mission the blows of the shpitzruteny, which cut into the 
bloody pulp. The moans have ceased ; one hears only 
a sort of clapping sound, like the sound of a stick 
striking the water, and the funeral drums are muttering 
still." • 

A State in which such savagery survived — even though 
ordered and disciplined in the Prussian manner — could 
not long co-exist with civilized States. Russia was 
forced either to fall asunder or to transform herself. 


When the deb dele of the Crimea had opened the eyes 
of all those who were capable of understanding, demon- 
strating the impossibility of maintaining the ancien 
regime, Russia, as in her earlier crises, applied to the 
civilization of the West for remedies. The "great 
reforms " of 1860-70 were thus merely a phase of 
Europeanization . Thus they appeared to their partisans, 
as well as to their adversaries. 

One publicist, for example, a noble and a reactionary, 
opposed them in order to preserve the old institu- 
tions : — 

" Each volost (canton) is governed by a parliament ; 
in each ouyezd (district) there is a parliament ; in the 
gubernii there will probably be the same," he complains 
with indignation, " and finally, the centre of the State 
must be transformed in the same manner. Thus cen- 
tralization is adopted for the basis of the administration, 
and a condition of this centralization is parliamentarism. 
And the surroundings necessary to this monster, we have 
them, too : justice rendered publicly, oral procedure, 
the division of powers, and, to cap it all, the jury. In 

1 Gregor Djanshiev, The Period of the Great Reforms, 9th ed. 
(Moscow, 1905), pp. 187, 188. 


a word, instead of Russia we see a Western State. 
Gentlemen, in the matter of the reactionary demands 
of the Liberals, have you not gone too far along the 
path of transformation? " » 

The partisans of this " transformation " considered, 
on the other hand, that the reforms ought to be carried 
as far as possible, precisely because the state of Russia 
was so backward ; and that no compromise with the old 
Russia was acceptable. Here, for example, is what a 
provincial Procurator wrote during the discussion of the 
judicial reform, which was effected in 1864: — 

" In England the people and the Government, society 
and justice, develop simultaneously. The result is that 
these factors agree and collaborate, and the law is a 
common product and a common possession. As for our 
society, it participated in nothing ; it existed in a state 
of lethargy." 

Replying to those who wished to "go slowly," the 
same writer replied : — 

" On the contrary, we must transform things more 
rapidly and more resolutely. Deliberateness in reforms 
is always harmful ; the help of all is necessary. Half- 
measures never lead us to the goal ; they are almost 
always disastrous. Everything must be transformed 
at the same time. For, if the old system is not good, 
it must be suppressed entirely, not in part ; we must 
not mix the old with the new. . . . If we were not 
alive, humanity existed. That which humanity has 
acquired, with that we must endow our resurrection, 
and by means of reforms take our part of the good 
which belongs to all the peoples, and for which the 
advanced peoples have laboured in the interests of 
humanity." 2 

To those who expressed the fear — generally facti- 
tious — that sudden reforms might provoke administrative 

■ Among the most notorious agents of reaction and oppression 
under Nicolas I we hnd, as always, the bearers of aristocratic German 
names, the Counts Adlerberg, Benckendorf, Kleinmichel, etc. 

• J. Guessen, The Reform of the Judiciary (Petersburg, 1905), pp. 82-4. 


disorder, the champions of progress cited the experience 
of the European States. 

" Among others, the example of Hanover (where the 
situation, as regards the judicial organization, was 
perhaps even worse than with us) demonstrates the 
possible rapidity and facility of such transformations. 
Publicity of judicial debates was in Hanover intro- 
duced at a single stroke, by the law of the 8th ofl 
November 1850; and the oldest magistrates and 
advocates accepted it with enthusiasm. It was the 
same in Piedmont. This proves that there is no need 
of any gradation in reform." 

The same divergence appeared in respect of each 
separate question. In the course of the discussion 
on the introduction of the jury system, a Conservative 
Senator wrote : — 

11 Authentic information as to this form of jurisdic- 
tion dates only from the reign of Henry III, from a time 
when the struggle against revolt had ceased only after 
the King had confirmed the Magna Charta Libertatum 
of John Lackland. . . . The jury, born of a period 
thus full of disturbances, and under the conditions de- 
scribed, was doubtless regarded not as a means merely 
of ameliorating the judicial system, but also as a weapon 
to defend the interests of the people against the en- 
croachments of the supreme power." And as Russia, 
he adds, is an autocracy, " the jury will be in absolute 
contradiction to the fundamental laws of the State." 

To these excesses of loyalism a provincial advocate 
objected the modern history of England. Against the 
proposal to withhold political crimes from the compe- 
tence of the jury, he fulminates in the following terms : 
" It is said that these exceptions are in imitation of 
France, and that they do not exist in England. One 
may inquire, however, where the greatest tranquillity, 
reigns — among the French people or the English." 1 

European experience was of service not only in philo- 
sophic discussions of a private nature concerning the 
* J. Guessen, op. cit. p. 93. 


" great reforms," but also in the labours of the official 
bodies which were preparing the texts of the new laws. 

Thus the Government instructed a special commission 
to study the organization of the judiciary in Europe, 
and particularly in France and England. In the rescript 
relating to its labours, which was published at the 
beginning of 1862, it is stated that the new judicial 
system is to be established " according to the teachings 
of science and the experience of the European States." 

As M. Leroy-Beaulieu remarks in his Empire des 
Tsars, " neither the teachings of science nor the coun- 
sels of experience were lacking among the promoters 
of the judicial reform." In its liberty to do all things 
and attempt all things the St. Petersburg Government 
had on this occasion by no means set its mind upon 
doing something new. The reform of the courts was 
less an original creation than a combination and adapta- 
tion of various elements, nearly all of which were 
borrowed from the more advanced nations of Europe. 1 
M. Leroy-Beaulieu considers that the reorganization of 
the judicial system was more successful than the other 
M great reforms " precisely because of the preponderat- 
ing influence of European examples. 

" If the judicial reform was the most largely con- 
ceived and the most resolutely executed of all the great 
reforms of the Emperor Alexander II, it was for this 
reason : instead of being based on empirical data and 
the convenience of the moment, it had a rational basis, 
reposing at once on general ideas accepted by all modern 
peoples, and on the practice of the more civilized States. 
Thus, despite the repeated deviations of a Govern- 
ment always too liable to go back on its own laws, 
this reform displayed what was often lacking to con- 
temporary reforms : unity and consistency." 

In this connection, how was it that the teaching 
derived from Europe was most plainly evident and 
most closely followed in the domain of justice in par- 
ticular? The reason is that the attempt to Europeanize 
1 A. Leroy-lieaulieu, L' Empire des Tsars, vol. ii. p. 289. 


Russia which was made in Alexander's time had its 
point of departure in the cmbourgeoisement of Russia. 
A stable, prompt, and uniform judicial system is an 
essential condition of the civil and economic relations 
of a bourgeois system of Government. We know, for 
example, that the invasion of Oriental countries by 
Europeans and European capital has always led to the 
establishment of the system of M capitulations," which 
renders them amenable to special tribunals and protects 
them from native justice. European forms and elements 
having permeated the economic life of Russia, it became 
necessary to Europeanize the judicial institutions, wholly 
archaic and Asiatic, which well merited their charac- 
teristic cognomen of volokita (from volotshit, which 
means to protract, to spin out). And as the old Russian 
justice was in reality the negation of all justice, it was 
necessary to suppress it altogether and to replace it 
by an entirely new system. Even the nobles and the 
bureaucrats understood that this necessity was absolute, 
and they did not oppose the judicial reform as ener- 
getically as they opposed other reforms, in which the 
influence of Europe was less apparent. 

In my Modern Russia I have explained the character 
of the " great reforms " accomplished by the Govern- 
ment of Alexander II, and notably of the agrarian 
reform of 1861, and the introduction of local self- 
government in 1 86 1 and 1870. Even then the seigneurs 
and bureaucrats were striving to maintain their domi- 
nation and to safeguard their interests. The peasants, 
although now liberated, remained in economic and 
juridical dependence on the nobles. The zemstvos were 
subject to the property franchise, and the system of 
electoral curia, in which the nobles predominated. 
Members of the urban municipalities also were elected 
by a property franchise. The zemstvos and the muni- 
cipalities were placed under the tutelage of the 
Governors ; and the presidency of the zemstvos became 
a privilege of the marshals of the noblesse. In 1863 
corporal punishments were abolished in principle, except 


in the case of peasants, on whom the rural tribunals 
could still inflict such punishment. In short, the " great 
reforms " emerged from the hands of the Governmental 
commissions diminished and mutilated ; the feudal 
system was not definitely overthrown, and a little later, 
under Alexander III, it took its revenge. 

The counter - reformation accomplished by this 
monarch is in a certain measure to be explained 
by international causes, but indirectly only. As I have 
already pointed out in my Modern Russia, it really 
originated as a slackening or relative decline of 
economic activity. The agrarian crisis, which had 
hampered the progress of agriculture and other forces 
of production in general, lowered the standard of 
material life, and, consequently, of social and political 
life. The reinforcement of old economic forms and 
relations resulted in the revival of the old political spirit. 

Now, the agrarian crisis and the economic regression 
which occurred about 1880 resulted from a factor of 
world-wide importance : the appearance of American 
wheat in the European markets, where it eliminated' 
its competitors, and, consequently, the cereals of Russia. 
The falling prices which resulted from this invasion 
started the crisis in Russia. The Government of 
Alexander III was incapable of remedying the evil by 
progressive means ; it could discover no other resource 
than regression. 

The seigneurial restoration reached its apogee in 
1889, in the institution of the zemskie natshalniki 
(" chiefs of the soil "), who were functionaries recruited 
from the nobility, and invested with administrative and 
judicial power over the peasantry. This was, in fact, a 
partial return to serfdom. 

For the rest, the American invasion of the European 
market, and the sudden changes which it occasioned, 
were not the only factors of the political and 
reaction which Russia then underwent ; the governing 
classes must also be held responsible. The spirit 
caste had warped the work of reformation under 


Alexander II ; the directing circles had limited the 
Europeanization of Russia by clinging as far as possible 
to the old order of things. 

It is a singular fact that they themselves went to 
Europe for their ideas. For example, they quoted in 
favour of the re-establishment of corporal punishment 
an English peer who, so they claimed, had declared 
that humanity could be perfected only by means of 
the rod. The celebrated Pobiedonostzev, opposing the 
jury system, invoked the testimony of European experts 
(English in particular), who were opposed to this M un- 
happy institution." As for their measures against the 
Press, the Russian reactionaries sought for precedents 
in the France of Napoleon III and the statutes of his 

The Germans were no strangers to the doings of 
the reaction which occurred toward the end of the 
nineteenth century. To please the Conservatives, the 
Government placed at the head of the Ministry of 
Justice a Baltic Junker of the Protestant faith — Count 
Palen — whose appointment, according to another well- 
known Conservative, Meshtshersky, " was intended as 
a corrective of the excess of Liberalism occasioned 
by the new judicial institutions." Sometimes the 
Germans remained behind the scenes ; such was the 
case with the Tsar's aide-de-camp, General Griinwald, 
who occupied the modest post of Master of the Imperial 
Stud, but who opposed a powerful resistance to the 
reformation of the Russian Army (he was opposed to 
general and obligatory military service, which, mingling 
young men of education with the simple sons of the 
soil, might have served to enlighten them) ; and he 
helped to introduce into Russia the classical school, 
disciplined in the Prussian manner. Somewhat later 
the talent for organization displayed by the Germans — 
but in the service of reaction rather than in that of 
revolution — was brilliantly exemplified in the person of 
Count Plehve, who was killed by the Terrorists after he 
had employed his police to terrorize the whole Empire. 



I. The problem of national representation under Alexander II and the 
constitutional movement. II. The Duma — Foreign elements in 
the representative system in Russia — Is the political mentality of 
the Russian people Asiatic or European ? III. Some documents. 

Despite all their imperfections, which were aggravated 
by subsequent remodelling, the institutions created 
during the " Period of Great Reforms " constituted a 
considerable advance. But their operation, and their 
existence even, were extremely precarious. We might 
in this connection cite the opinion of a Russian Con- 
servative, who, when certain innovations were being 
discussed, declared them to be incompatible with the 
basic principle of the Russian system — that is, the auto- 
cratic power. He was right, and the more improvements 
were involved by the new state of things, and the more 
44 Europeanism," the more profound, necessarily, was 
the hostility between them and the ancien regime. 
M. Guessen, the historian of the judicial reformation, 
makes this remark. He considers that the new justice, 
from the first days of its introduction into Russia, 
44 entered into the organism of the State like a foreign 
body, which, according to the general law of physiology, 
must be assimilated or eliminated." One might say as 
much of the other great reforms of Alexander II, and 
of local self-government in particular. 

The imminence of a conflict between the organs 
which had just been created and the old central power 
was obvious from the time of their appearance. Also, 
the reactionaries protested against the reforms, while 


the Radicals and Liberals demanded their complement : 
they believed that it was indispensable " to crown the 
edifice " — that is, to reconstruct the State on constitu- 
tional principles. Immediately the zemstvos were 
created, several of these assemblies in various Govern- 
ments of Russia presented addresses to the Tsar in 
which they expressed their desire to obtain the " crown- 
ing of the work." The secret political societies 
published proclamations in favour of the Constitution. 
And as the Government, far from giving way, increased 
its measures of repression, the movement of liberation 
assumed the morbid form of Terrorism. 

The Terrorist agitation became particularly active 
after the war of 1877-78, which contributed to the 
political preoccupations of the Russian people and 
greatly irritated the more advanced spirits against the 
governmental system. For them it was not admissible 
that the Russian people, the liberator of the Balkan 
Slavs, could be unworthy of the parliamentary system 
conceded to their liberated brethren. M. A. Leroy- 
Beaulieu, who had occasion to study on the spot the 
spirit prevailing in Russian society after the war against 
Turkey, describes it in the following words : — 

M It is painful to the Russians to remain politically 
inferior to the other States of Europe, almost all o'f 
which are to-day provided with Constitutions ; inferior 
even to their younger brothers of the Balkans, who 
are still minors, and were emancipated only yesterday. 
. . . Many Russians find it difficult to grasp the very 
serious reasons which render a liberal development more 
difficult in the great Empire of the North than in these 
lesser States, which were liberated by the Russian arms. 
Their eyes are offended by a contrast which the years 
will but render more sensible and more revolting." ' 

The Government, which was not ignorant of 

these considerations, remained, however, immovable. 

Alexander II avowed that he saw nothing to object 

to in the constitutional system, but added that he 

■ A. Leroy-Beaulicu, L Empire des Tsars, vol. ii. p. 581. 


refused to assume the responsibility of introducing it 
into Russia. But he thereby burdened himself with 
a far heavier responsibility : that of depriving the 
people of its sole lawful means of expressing its will. 
And he became the victim of his own inconsequence, 
and of the violent struggle which the reformers, whose 
aspirations were awakened at the beginning of his 
reign, undertook against the return of the reaction. 

It was a singular thing that the hesitations of 
Alexander II were provoked by the example of the 
French Revolution, whose lessons the Emperor did not 
sufficiently comprehend. Some weeks before his tragic 
death his ministers wished him to convoke a consulta- 
tive assembly of Russian representatives. Alexander II 
replied to them : " Gentlemen, what is proposed to 
us is the assembly of notables of Louis XVI . We must 
not forget what followed." And " he postponed for 
some week's the publication of the Act on which 
depended the future of the Empire and his own 
existence." * 

M. Leroy-Beaulieu recalls in this connection that 
Louis XVI also had shuffled and hesitated. 

We must not, however, attribute to the ministers 
of Alexander II a foresight superior to his own. His 
Prime Minister, Loris-Melikov, in a report dated the 
28th January 1881, denied the possibility of repre- 
sentative government in Russia. 

" Russia cannot accommodate herself to a national 
representation invested with forms borrowed from the 
West. These forms are not only foreign to the Russian 
people, but might even shatter all the foundations of 
its political conceptions, and occasion a complete 
upheaval of ideas, of which it would be difficult to 
foresee the consequences. Similarly, we regard as 
inopportune the propositions advanced by certain of 
the supporters of the ancient forms of the Russian 
State, to create in Russia a Zemskaia Douma, or a 
Zemskii Sobor. Our period is so far removed from 
■ A. Leroy-Beaulieu, op. cit., vol. ii. p. 509. 


that in which this ancient method of representation 
existed . . . that it would be difficult merely to 
resuscitate it. In any case it would be a dangerous 
attempt to return to the past." ■ 

It goes without saying that to remain at a dead 
stop, without advancing toward Europeanization nor 
returning to national representation practised in 
Muscovite Russia, was a solution even less practical 
than resignation to the boldest Constitution. 


After the violent death of Alexander II, those who 
governed, with the new Emperor at their head, discussed 
the question left in suspense by the defunct Tsar. 
Alexander III adopted the advice of Pobiedonostzev, 
his friend, who pronounced himself as absolutely 
opposed to any constitutional regime, and advised the 
Tsar not to add a central " debating society " to the 
local " debating societies," which, according to him, 
already existed, in the shape of the zemstvos, juries, 
etc. Instead of a national representation, even of the 
consultative type, Russia was subjected from that 
moment to a government by autocracy and the police, 
which was more and more accentuated as time went 
on ; and not until a quarter of a century later were 
realized, very imperfectly, those ideas of parliamentary 
government which had penetrated Russia from Europe 
at the beginning of the century. 

I will not here go into the European origins of 
the charter published on 17/30 October 1905, and 
known as the " Manifesto concerning Liberties." I will 
confine myself to drawing the reader's attention to 
the fact that the worst aspects of the " Constitution " 
at present existing in Russia are modelled upon the 
example of Prussia. Such is the system of the 
electoral " wards," which divide the electors into classes, 
like so many horses put into isolated stalls in a stable. 

1 S. Svatikov, The Social Movement in Russia, 1700-190$ (Russian 
ed.), Rostov on the Don, 1905, pp. 129-30. 


It is the same system as that on which the Prussian 
Landtag is based. 

One might establish yet other points of resemblance 
between the representative system of Russia and 
that of Prussia, which are at the same time points 
of dissimilarity between the Russian constitutional 
legislation and the true parliamentary system of 
Western Europe. None the less, in spite of all its 
defects, the system of national representation which has 
been operating in Russia since 1906 — with too many 
interruptions and dissolutions, it is true — has played a 
great part in the political evolution of the country. 

The principal distinction between the European State 
and an Asiatic despotism is that in the former the 
population has the possibility of expressing its desires 
and its will, while in the latter it is destined to 
obligatory silence. Before the year 1905 the Russian 
people had not the right of speech. A long time ago 
a Russian Senator defined the principal character of the 
political life of Russia as dumbness. 

" The Russian people is dumb," said the Senator, 
44 and has no power of reaction against abuses." 

The revolutionary movement of 1905 and the 
convocation of the Duma in 1906 established a line 
of demarcation between this ancient speechless Russia 
and the new Russia which can speak and dares to do 
so. And immediately after the introduction of national 
representation in Russia it became apparent that the 
popular masses of Russia were far more conscious and 
better prepared for constitutional government than was 


When the independent Press insisted on the necessity 
of establishing a constitutional regime in Russia, the 
reactionaries always objected that the demands for 
reforms did not emanate from the people, but were 
an artificial product conceived in the brains of the 
intellectuals, who were alien to the people. The people 


itself — asserted the reactionaries — had no thought of 
any modification of the political system, and had no 
organic need which corresponded with the constitu- 
tional demands. 

The beginnings of the Duma gave the lie to these 
assertions in a striking fashion. In proof of this I 
will here quote some documents which have hitherto 
been very little known to the European public, but 
which have a great significance for those who wish 
to study the political mentality of the popular masses 
in Russia, and to solve for themselves the question 
whether this mentality is of a barbarous and Asiatic 
character, or whether, on the contrary, it is European 
and progressive. 

These documents are the nakazy, concerning which 
I have already published a few passages in the English 
Press. 1 

Just as in France in 1789, at the elections to the 
States-General, the populace drew up the famous cahiers, 
in which it set out its needs and troubles and gave 
hints to its representatives, so in 1906 and 1907, 
at the elections to the first two Dumas, the population 
of the Russian Empire presented its deputies with 
" grievances " or nakazy, in which it indicated the causes 
and the details of its discontent, and formulated its 
various economic and political desires. 

While painting a gloomy picture of the condition 
of the country, the democratic electors pressed upon 
their representatives in the Duma demands for those 
changes which they considered necessary, at the same 
time indicating the manner in which these demands 
should be realized. 

The drafting and presentation of the nakazy was no 
easy matter, and not without danger for the electors. 
Although the Government had summoned the popula- 
tion of the country to elect representatives, at the same 
time it directed all its efforts toward rendering it im- 
possible for these representatives to express the genuine 
■ See Darkest Russia, 1913 (September, October). 


will of their electors, and toward preventing any per- 
manent and living connection between the constituencies 
and the deputies. . " Untrustworthy " citizens who had 
been guilty of drawing up or signing a nakaz to their 
deputy were everywhere subjected to searches by the 
police, followed by acts of persecution. When, on the 
dispersion of the second Duma, searches were made at 
the residences of the deputies of the Left, the gendarmes 
and agents of the Okhrana were particularly zealous in 
ferreting out nakazy, letters, and complimentary 
addresses from electors. 

The receipt of such communications figured as the 
chief count in the indictment of the Labour members 
of the second Duma. In the demand for the surrender 
of fifty-five Social Democratic deputies presented by 
the late M. Stolypin to the second Duma, these deputies 
were charged with having " received nakazy from troop 
units of the Vilna and Petersburg garrisons," and with 
having " collected the revolutionary demands of the 
poorer classes of the population." 

But in spite of prohibitions and persecutions the 
electors were eager to communicate with their deputies. 
The deputies of the Left in the first two Dumas were 
overwhelmed by telegrams, letters, greetings, and man- 
dates from every corner of the country, and from the 
most varied elements of the population. From the 
Northern Dvina and the Caucasus, from the Baltic and 
the Urals, from the shores of the Volga and from distant 
Siberia, from the village peasant and the city prole- 
tarian, from the artisan and the clerk, from the political 
exile and the Cossack of the Don, from the soldier and 
the sailor — from every quarter expressions of the popular 
desires and demands were showered upon the Duma. 
These were the genuine and authentic voice of the 
popular masses themselves. 

The nakazy contained a very severe criticism of the 
state of affairs created in Russia by the inertia and 
malevolence of the bureaucracy and the egoism of the 


" Arbitrariness and violence have reached their 
highest pitch," declares the mandate of the employees 
at Duig's factory in Petersburg. 

Here are some examples of the contents of these 

The peasants of the canton of Kiinsk, in the Govern- 
ment of Novgorod, complain : — 

" The condition of the lower classes has become 
unbearable. Everywhere . . . the hovering phantom 
of death is seen. The plunder of the people's money 
and the abuse of authority on the part of officialdom 
has attained terrifying proportions." 

Especially bad was the condition of the peasantry. 

A memorial to the second Duma from the subordinate 
employees of the Nicolas Railway (Petersburg-Mos- 
cow) thus describes the treatment of the peasants by 
the landowners : — 

" You look upon the peasant as something worse than 
a useless dog, to whom one throws a gnawed crust 
of bread so that it shall not growl and go mad with 
hunger. There only remains one thing that you want — 
to restore serfdom, your former joy. But the people have 
not forgotten the old song. It is difficult to catch a 
bird once released from its cage." 

The peasants, when secretly communicating with their 
representatives in the Duma, connect the ruin of the 
villages with the general condition of the country, and 
find the source of their calamities in the autocratic and 
bureaucratic regime. In their mandate to the deputies 
for the Kuban province the peasants and workmen of 
one of its districts write : — 

" You know, of course, without any reminder from 
us, that the whole of Russia is languishing under the 
yoke of an autocracy that has outlived itself. She is 
suffering from the arbitrariness of officials who rob the 
Treasury, who have disgraced Russia by an unfortunate 
war, who have ruined the country by unbearable taxes 
and imposts, and who have purposely kept the whole 
people in ignorance and slavery. You know that the 


whole of Russia has been turned into a conquered 
country, with field courts-martial, martial law, extra- 
ordinary and increased Okhrana—a. country where hun- 
dreds and thousands of men are butchered, shot, hanged, 
imprisoned, and sent to penal servitude, and where a 
simple mortal can invoke no laws whatever for safe- 
guarding his honour and property." 

The workmen of a brickyard in the Caucasus con- 
clude their mandate by complaining : — 

" In the absence of liberty of association we are 
compelled to gather secretly late at night in a half- 
lighted hut in order to draw up a mandate to our 

The workmen of the village of Novoselki, in the 
Government of Vladimir, make a pitiful appeal to their 
representatives : — 

" Try, in the Duma, to obtain rights for the oppressed 
and the downtrodden. Do not forget that far away, 
in a damp basement, something blaek and grimy is 
creeping about. The rays of the sun can hardly pene- 
trate thither. Stretch out, therefore, a helping hand to 
your brethren." 

While painting the condition of the country in sombre 
colours, the democratic electors pressed upon their 
representatives demands for those reforms which they 
considered necessary, at the same time indicating the 
manner in which those demands should be realized. 

The first and most urgent demand expressed in the 
mandates was for an amnesty for political exiles and 
prisoners, for the release of these champions of the 
people's liberty from their living tombs. " We demand 
an amnesty for our fathers and brothers who have 
fought for the people's cause . . . for all those who 
have suffered for their political convictions. ..." The 
inmates of the Morshansk prison pointed out to the 
members of the Duma that they owed their election, 
and the very existence of the Duma, to the fighters for 
liberty. . . . The amnesty must be complete and 
general. All those regarded by the Government as 


" political criminals " must be liberated without any 

The electors of the town of Kustanay, in the province 
of Turgay, declare, in their mandate : — 

" There must be an amnesty, because the men who are 
now languishing in prison and in exile have been en- 
deavouring, by spreading the truth, to enlighten the 
ignorant people, to throw off the yoke of slavery from 
their shoulders, and to lead them toward a bright future, 
when the kingdom of God will be established upon earth 
—the kingdom of liberty, equality, and fraternity. They 
are men who keep firmly in mind the commandment of 
Christ to love one's neighbour as oneself. Such men 
should receive gratitude and appreciation, instead of 
being persecuted and allowed to rot in prison." 

In these mandates the amnesty is regarded not as 
an act of grace or pardon but as the lawful right of 
men suffering from the arbitrary lawlessness of a 
despotic reaction, and it is claimed that this right 
should be recognized and realized through the Legis- 
lature. As the workers of Archangel put it : — 

" Demand an amnesty in all political and religious 
cases — as a legislative measure — a full amnesty, not as 
an act of grace . . . but as a restoration of rights and 
liberties which have unlawfully been taken away, and 
see that it is extended to all those who have been 
judicially condemned or persecuted administratively for 
having fought against the Government." 

Other nakazy demand that the amnestied prisoners 
shall receive " temporary material provision," or be 
restored to their homes at the expense of the State. 

" An amnesty and the abolition of capital punish- 
ment is the cry which issues from the breast " of the 
democratic electors of Odessa. Indeed, it was obvious 
from the mandates that this demand was the unanimous 
cry of the whole country. Among the thousands of 
mandates, greetings, and letters received by the deputies 
there was not one that did not contain this claim. An 
amnesty was regarded by the people as the indispensable 


preliminary of the political and social renovation of the 

The workers of the Ural demand " the prosecution 
of the Minister of the Interior and other officials for 
infringing the Manifesto of October 30th, which granted 
the people inviolability of the person, liberty of con- 
science and of speech and of the Press, and which 
declared that no enactment should have the force of law 
without the sanction of the Duma." 

A mandate from the Kuban province requires " the 
immediate dismissal of all Government authorities, who 
should be replaced by officials elected on the basis of a 
universal, direct, equal, and secret ballot." A mandate 
from the Government of Vladimir demanded the abolition 
of all class restrictions on the person and property of 
the peasants, as well as of all payments and burdens 
arising from class differentiation. . The 

peasantry," affirm the Simbirsk peasants, " must be 
equalized in their rights with all other classes. The 
State must only consider the personal merits and 
capacities of its citizens, without reference to their 

" We demand the total abolition of classes. Let 
there be neither peasants nor burghers nor noblemen, but 
only Russian citizens," say the working men of Shuya. 

Great importance is attributed to financial reform, 
including a radical change in the system of taxation. 
Indirect taxes should be replaced by a progressive 
income-tax. (In mandates from Petersburg, Kertsh, 
Archangel, Vladimir, Turgay, and elsewhere.) 

Next comes a demand for the reform of local self- 
government, now in the hands of the upper classes. 

11 We demand that all local self-government bodies, 
whether urban or rural, shall be elected by secret ballot 
on a universal, equal, and direct franchise, so that the 
zemstvos and town councils shall no longer serve exclu- 
sively the interests of the rich, but shall administer to 
the needs of the whole population " (mandates from 
Archangel, Nijni Novgorod, Kiev, etc.). 


Perhaps in no other country is the Church in greater 
subjection to the State than in Russia, where the clergy 
have become the administrative and police agents of the 
autocracy. The mandates demand the separation of 
Church and State, complete religious toleration, and the 
autonomy of the various denominations. The mandate 
of the Mussulman inhabitants of Petropavlovsk demandis 
that " the ordinances of the Shariat, which regulate the 
entire religious, political, civil, and domestic life of the 
Mussulmans, shall be secure from violation by the 
Government. This demand is not only printed on paper, 
but is written in the hearts of our deputies." 

As to the national question, not a single note of 
chauvinism is to be met with in any of the mandates. 

Full equality of rights for all 1 the nations inhabiting 
Russia and complete liberty of development — such is 
the claim of the democracy. Some of the mandates 
even go so far as to advocate the federative principle. 

" We demand," runs a mandate from the Turgay 
province, " the autonomy of the provinces and com- 
munities, both urban and rural ; the widest possible 
application of the federative principle in the mutual 
relations of the various nationalities ; and the recog- 
nition of their absolute right to self-organization and 
proportional representation." 

The mandates reflect in striking fashion the hostile 
attitude of the Russian democracy toward the Govern- 
ment's anti-Semitic policy. The workmen of the 
.Vladimir Government demand " the committal for trial 
of all the pogrom executioners and their expulsion from 
the Duma." 

Another illustration of the extreme aversion of demo- 
cratic Russia from the pogrom campaign and its authors 
may be found in the following congratulatory mandate 
sent to the Duma by the Peasants' Assembly of Pokrov- 
skaya, in the Government of Samara : — 

" We greet the members of the Duma, and wish them 
to carry out our mandates. Our greetings do not 
extend, however, to Krushevan (who organized the 


Kishinev pogrom) and his like, since the free sons of 
the Volga can have no sympathy with those who 
extinguish the light and the truth." 

One of the Government's favourite assertions is that 
the Russian revolution was " created by the Jews." A 
most interesting reply to this is to be found in the 
mandate of the workmen of Albertin, in the Government 
of Grodno : — 

" The parties of the Right pretend that it is the 
Jewish speakers who imbue the people with sedition. 
But, as a matter of fact, we have several speakera 
created by the Government itself. We can give you 
their names, (i) Hunger and cold, which are caused 
by the Government ; (2) heavy taxes imposed by the 
Government on the necessities of the labourer's and the 
peasant's life, while alleviations are granted to squires 
and manufacturers." 

Complete liberty of education is the watchword of 
many mandates. 

M In order to control and to squander with impunity 
the money of the people, the Government has to keep 
the latter in darkness and ignorance, depriving it syste- 
matically of education and placing obstacles in the way 
of obtaining it. The Government schools, beginning 
with the parish schools, aim at killing all aspirations 
toward light and liberty." 

There is a pathetic ring about the mandate of the 
boy apprentices of the Yurevsky works in the Govern- 
ment of Kharkov : — 

" We, the younger generation of Russia, observing 
the ignorance of our grandfathers, do not wish to be 
like them. We have the desire and the zeal to learn, 
but the bureaucratic system does not give us, the chil- 
dren of poor toilers, the chance of developing our 
intellectual capacities." 

The Russian democracy is well aware that the 
development of education and the public consciousness 
requires a radical change of political rigime. " At 
present," say the peasants and burghers of the Odessa 


district, "we do not know whether the taxes are 
collected from us properly, or how they are spent, or 
whether any Government measure is in the interests of 
the people or to its detriment. We have much to learn, 
and we want to be free to learn it." 

The demand for complete political liberty and for 
the democratization of the State system is to be found 
in all the mandates. " It is time to put an end to blind- 
ness, and to untie our hands, for we have outgrown our 
swaddling-bands and require no nurse," say the workers 
of the Yurevsky works at Altchevskaya . 

A large number of mandates call for the restoration 
and execution of the Manifesto of October 30, 1905. 
This Manifesto, which promised the establishment of 
constitutional guarantees, is not regarded as a voluntary 
concession on the part of the autocracy, but as the 
victorious achievement of the people. 

" We demand the promulgation of a law guarantee- 
ing all the civic rights and liberties won by the people's 
victory on October 30th " (mandate from the Byelozersk 
district of the Government of Novgorod). 

The establishment of a parliamentary system and a 
democratic representation constitutes, according to a 
mandate from Ekaterinoslavl, the foremost need of the 
country. There should be no other authority than that 
appointed by the people, and responsible to its repre- 
sentatives, declare the peasants of the Government of 
Simbirsk. Ministers must be responsible to the popular 
representatives. The Council of State, which "buries 
the Bills born in the Duma," ought to be abolished. 
The present electoral system should be replaced by 
universal suffrage. 

The following are some typical complaints : — 

" In the present Duma there is no genuine popular 

M Our participation in the elections by no means 
implies recognition of the Duma as a genuine organ 
of popular representation." 

" We are well aware that the present Duma cannot 


be considered a genuine organ of popular representa- 

44 Your first task," declare the electors of Archangel 
to their representatives, 44 must be a struggle for full 
popular representation, making the Duma not an organ 
of agreement with the Government, but a revolutionary 
centre for the organization of the masses. You must 
open the people's eyes to the fact that the Duma is not 
genuinely representative, that it is merely consultative 
in character." 

But in spite of all this, even the partisans of the 
extreme Left understood that the creation of the Duma 
constituted a new phase of the history of Russia. 

When I was elected deputy for the city of St. Peters- 
burg, among the greetings and congratulations I 
received on that occasion was one from several revo- 
lutionists lying under sentence of death at Samara : — 

44 We hail you as a member of the People's Parlia- 
ment," they wrote. 44 We shall now boldly ascend the 
scaffold, seeing the dawn of a new light." 

Here I quote some of those nakazy in which the 
electors endeavoured to give the deputies hints as to 
the tactics to be followed : — 

44 In sending you to the second Duma we do not 
cherish the hope that the Government will accede to the 
popular demands. Indeed, since the workmen of St. 
Petersburg, who, on January 2 2, 1905, bore a petition 
to the Tsar, expressing their own needs and those of the 
peasantry, were met by a hail of bullets and bayonets, 
and since the Government dispersed the first Duma for 
giving timid and partial expression to the popular 
demands, we have realized that we cannot expect any 
amelioration of our condition from the autocratic 
Government, .which by its nature is opposed to our 
demands. It is our sworn enemy" (mandate from the 
Government of Perm). 

44 Remember that the whole people is with you. Do 
not make any partial concessions to the Right, but 
insist on full popular government," write the peasants 
of Novo-Kubanskoye\ 


44 Remember," said a mandate from the same pro- 
vince, " that the people have sent you, not to petition 
Ministers and bow down to them, but to snatch liberty 
from them." 

" We do not elect deputies for the purpose of drafting 
laws which, since they have to pass the Council of 
State and the Star Chamber, will never see the light. 
No, we have elected you in order that you may fight in 
the Taurida Palace for the convocation of a Constituent 
Assembly, for land and liberty " (mandate of the 
citizens of Tekaterinburg). 

The Sebastopol electors beg their deputy " not to 
stop half-way in the struggle against autocratic govern- 

The majority of the mandates, like that from 
Tekaterinburg, express the opinion that the radical 
transformation of the entire political system requires 
the convocation of a Constituent Assembly, which alone 
can effect pacification and secure liberty ; and for this 
purpose the electors offer their support. 

44 We are anxious," write the Mussulmans of Petro- 
pavlovsk, " to keep in touch with the Duma. It is for 
you to organize that connection with us. Let our 
thoughts and feelings become those of the Duma ; the 
victory will then be sure and final." 

44 In the struggle with the Government for the realiza- 
tion of the popular demands," say the citizens of Maikop, 
44 the Duma must rely on the support of the great masses 
of the population who are in sympathy with it." 

The peasants of the Syzran district instruct their 
deputy as follows : — 

44 The first Duma, which rightly championed the 
people's needs, has been dissolved because the people 
was not sufficiently organized, and could lend no support 
to the Duma. We therefore request you to undertake 
. . . the organization of the people locally, in order 
that at the decisive moment the people may stand up 
for the Duma as one man. Only let the Duma explain 
the nature of the support needed, so as to avoid mis-. 



taken and isolated acts, and the whole of Russia will 
stand up for its right to land and liberty, which we 
have sent you to obtain for us." 

The same idea was still more vigorously expressed 
by one of the workingmen's mandates : — 

11 We instruct our deputy not to submit to the 
demands of the Government, and not to return to us 
without having carried out our mandate. If the gang 
of torturers of the people should disperse you with 
bayonets, then all of us who have elected you will 
rise in defence of the deputies struggling for the liberty 
and happiness of the people." 

Such are the popular desires expressed in the nakazy. 
Commenting upon them, an eminent English publicist 
remarks : — 

" Some of the demands, we recognize, are in advance 
of the political and social conditions obtaining even in 
the most liberally governed countries of Western 
Europe. Their great importance is derived from the 
light they throw upon the political development of the 
Russian masses. Only a people that has arrived at a 
high pitch of self-consciousness could have produced 
such documents as these. They constitute a powerful 
argument in favour of the full emancipation of the pro- 
letariat from the state of semi-serfdom in which it still 
exists, and a proof that Russia is now more than ripe 
for a Constitution based on democratic principles. 
Those who object that the transference of the governing 
power into popular hands would result in confusion and 
anarchy would do well to study the present rigime in 
the provinces, where every official is a law unto himself, 
and where clean government, free from tyranny and 
corruption, is practically unknown. We have always 
had great faith in the Russian people, and are convinced 
that, once the deadening influence of the bureaucratic 
administration has been shaken off, the true genius of 
the country will manifest itself in a manner that will 
compel both amazement and admiration." 




The theory of races — Non-Russian blood in the veins of Russian 
writers. II. The formation of the literary language and its 
European ingredients. 


I AM not a partisan of that theory of races which seeks 
to explain the various phenomena of our life by racial 
influences, by a remote heredity, and endeavours to 
establish a more or less impenetrable barrier between 
the various races. This theory is especially inapplic- 
able to Russia, whose population is composed of a 
great mixture of different races. It will suffice to recall 
that the vielikoruss people (the Great Russian people) 
is composed of an amalgam of the Slav element and 
the Finnish element. 

But there is perhaps no more startling proof of the 
insufficiency of the theory of races than that which is 
afforded by Russian literature, in which representatives 
of all the races have collaborated. 

A Russo-Polish writer who has interested himself in 
this question has established, by a careful inquiry, that 
non -Russian blood has often flowed in the veins of 
Russian writers. 

" By attentively studying the biography of the 
Russian writers, one recognizes that a large number 
of those who constitute the pride and glory of Russian 
literature, a considerable proportion of its lights, its 
stars, its leaders, and its ' kings,' are not of Russian 
origin ; that they are of mixed blood, that they are not 
originally Russian in the precise sense of the word." » 

1 S. Librovitch, Non-Russian Blood in the Veins of Russian Writers 

(Russian ed., Petrograd). 



In support of this assertion the author gives us the 
following examples : — 

The real creator of the true national poetry of Russia, 
the celebrated Alexander Pushkin, had as a maternal 
ancestor an Abyssinian negro who married a German 
woman ; the child of this strange inter-continental 
union was the poet's grandfather. On the paternal 
side Pushkin had among his ancestors a Prussian immi- 
grant (who entered Russia in the time of Alexander 
Nevsky, and who was probably of Slav origin) and 
an Italian woman. 

Another great Russian poet, Mikhail Lermontov, was 
of Scottish origin. In the twelfth century there lived 
in Scotland a famous bard, Leirmont or Learmount by 
name, who is said to have predicted the destinies of 
his country, and who was celebrated by Sir Walter 
Scott. A branch of his family emigrated into Poland, 
and in 1 61 3 George Leirmont entered the Russian 
military service with sixty other Scots and Irishmen, 
and busied himself, under the Tsar Alexei Mikhailo- 
vitch, reforming the first regiment of regular cavalry 
known in Russia. 

The poet Lermontov was extremely proud of his 
extraction, and referred to it in his verses : — 

Why am I not a bird, a crow of the steppes 

Which passed just now above me ? 

Why can I not hover in the heavens 

And love liberty alone ? 

Toward the West, toward the West I would direct my rapid 

flight : 
There blossom the fields of my ancestors, 
Where, in an empty castle on the misty mountains, 
Repose their forgotten ashes. 
On the ancient wall their hereditary buckler 
And their rusted sword are suspended. 
I would fly above the buckler and the sword 
And with my wing unhang them. 

I would touch with my wing the string of the Scottish harp, 
And the sound would die away in the vaulted roof ; 
Heard by one alone and by one alone engendered, 
It would die even as it broke the silence. 


Many other Russian writers were of foreign origin. 
The first Russian satirist, Prince Kantemir, was the son 
of a Moldavian sovereign and a Greek woman. Another 
satirist, who was also the great Russian publicist, 
Radishtshev, was of Tartar descent. 

The father of Russian romantic poetry, Vassili 
Jukovsky, had for his mother a Turkish prisoner. 
His contemporary Delwig, also a romantic poet, 
belonged to a noble German family. 

The poet Ogariov, the friend of Herzen, had Tartar 
ancestors. Herzen was the illegitimate son of a German 
woman and a Russian noble. 

The brothers Aksakov, writers and founders of the 
Slavophile movement, counted Norwegian kings among 
their remote forbears. 

The well-known novelist and writer of short stories, 
Grigorovitch, was the son of a Frenchwoman, an 
emigree . 

The parents of Fete, a remarkable lyric poet, were 
a German woman and a Russian noble. 

The Jewish people has given many poets and 
novelists, etc., to Russia ; for example, the poet 
Semion Nadson, whose name marks an epoch in the 
history of literature. 

Among modern writers also we find many who are 
not of Russian origin. 

The celebrated Leonid Andreev is the son of a Polish 
mother. Balmont, the well-known poet, has Scottish 
and Scandinavian ancestors on the paternal side, and on 
the maternal side Tartars. 

This enumeration might be continued. But the facts 
here cited are enough to show that what is called race 
does not play a decisive part in the formation of literary 
genius. What is of importance is the historical and 
social milieu in which this genius is evolved ; and in 
studying the European influences which have affected 
Russian literature we should occupy ourselves not with 
anthropological inquiries, but with phenomena of a 
different order and significance. 



Before speaking of the Western elements introduced 
by Russia into her literature, there are a few points to 
be considered respecting the influence of Europe in 
the formation of the literary language of Russia. 

The whole historic evolution of a people is reflected 
in its language. It is so with the Russian language, 
which presents many highly interesting phenomena in 
the province of pure linguistics and also in that of 
general history. 

The popular language and the literary language of 
Russia were very differently formed. In the first are 
to be perceived the movement of the population, the 
colonization of the great Eastern plain by Slavo-Russ 
tribes, and their commerce with other peoples, Mongols, 
Finns, Poles, Lithuanians, etc. The three principal 
dialects of the Russian language — the Great Russian, 
Little Russian, and White Russian (Vielikoruss, Malo- 
russ or Ukrainian, and Bieloruss) — retain traces of these 
contacts . 

As for the literary language, the Great Russian is, 
properly speaking, the only Russian to possess such 
a thing, for with the White Russians (who inhabit 
the country bordering on Lithuania and Poland) litera- 
ture is not yet sufficiently developed to possess its 
means of expression, and with the Ukrainians, although 
they already possess a very rich literature, its instru- 
ment of expression is still in process of formation, 
and is nearer the popular speech than literary Great 
Russian. It is also subject to that same instability 
which is so characteristic of the popular tongue ; 
so that the writers of the Russian Ukraine em- 
ploy an idiom which differs perceptibly from that 
of the Ukrainian writers of Bukovina or Galicia 

The literary language of the Great Russians has 
formed itself upon a stable and well-defined basis. 
In this it differs greatly from the popular tongue, which 


is by no means uniform, and is composed of numerous 
differing patois. 

The formation of the Great Russian literary language 
may be divided into three principal phases, two of 
which proceed from two distinct external factors. The 
first phase begins with the evangelization of Russia ; 
it is therefore Bulgar or Graaco-Bulgar in character. 
It will be remembered that Russia received Christianity 
from Bulgaria, or rather from Macedonia, whence came 
also the clergy and the first religious and ecclesiastical 
books. The Russian literary language was, in the 
beginning, the language of religion, and it is known 
by the name of the " Slav Church language." It was 
entirely " foreign " to that of the people, and hardly 
understood by the latter. But after some time the 
second language became diffused into the first, and the 
written language approximated to the living popular 
speech. However, their resemblance is chiefly phonetic. 
In its lexicology and syntax the scholarly language 
remained Bulgaro-ecclesiastical. In this language — 
Russian by consonance, foreign by inflexion, the con- 
struction of words, and the turn of phrases — are written 
the first historical chronicles and the first juridical 
acts of the principality of Kiev. 

After the removal of the capital from Kiev to 
Vladimir, and thence to Moscow, an urban language 
sprang up, which was distinct from the rural tongue, 
and which, as Moscow increased and developed into a 
Grand Duchy and a Russian Tsarstvo, became the 
language of the State. " The Governmental Chan- 
celleries are obliged to speak from Moscow to all 
Russia in a comprehensible language. Thus a language 
of the Chancellery, simple and precise, which is not 
without pictures queness and expressive power ... a 
finished and perfected language, which had a chance 
of lasting unchanged as long- as the needs and the 
mentality of which it was born. . . . But from the 
beginning of the nineteenth century all is again un- 
settled. The language detaches itself from its quite 


recently constituted basis and moves onward at random, 
accumulating, without any discretion, the raw material 
of foreign terms and concepts. A moment comes when 
Russian writers prefer, not without reason, to have 
recourse to foreign languages in order to express them- 
selves with sufficient art and precision. After the calm, 
the solemnity, and the exactitude of the solid Muscovite 
tongue, convulsive efforts are made to represent the 
afHux of new thoughts and feelings. The veil of uni- 
formity cast over the literature of the sixteenth century 
disappears as by enchantment." ' 

Thus the evolution of the literary language in Russia 
corresponds with the general development of the 
country. The linguistic invasion of Russia by Europe, 
which took place at the beginning of the eighteenth 
century, coincides with the first great effort to 
Europeanize Russia under Peter I. The two move- 
ments do not merely coincide ; they are profoundly 
correlated. There is a close connection between the 
linguistic imports and the general multiplication of com- 
munications between Russia and Europe. Commercial 
exchanges brought a host of new terms into the Russian 
vocabulary, names of articles of merchandise and the 
terms defining transactions. The adoption of European 
methods by the Russian Army also necessitated, as 
we have seen, the employment of new military terms. 
The same thing happened in the case of Govern- 
ment institutions : almost all the names of the new 
organs and officials (from the Senat to the landrat) 
were borrowed from Europe. 

It should be noted that even in the days of Peter I 
it was realized that these importations ought not to be 
mechanical, and Peter I often employed himself by 
correcting the translations of foreign books into 

The Academician A. Chakhmatov states that during 
the first half of the eighteenth century " the Russian 

1 P. Milukov, Studies in Russian Culture, Part II, p. 176 (Petersburg, 


tongue was placed in a difficult position by the host 
of foreign words which invaded it, coming from the 
West in an irresistible stream." « But during the second 
half of the century the literary language was already 
rapidly assimilating these European importations which 
were transforming it. Moreover, at the close of the 
eighteenth century Europe was affecting the Russian 
language in a different manner to that observed at 
the beginning of the century. Under Peter I the 
European additions travelled by what we may call 
the official path : that of translations commissioned 
by the Government, diplomatic documents, etc. Under 
Catherine II the Russian writers were spontaneously 
delving into the linguistic wealth of Europe, and their 
acquisitions were of a different kind. They were not 
limited to technical terms, to the vocabularies of trade, 
industry, and government ; they even extended to the 
expressions which interpret the intellectual phenomena 
peculiar to cultivated minds, abstract ideas, and the 
movements of the heart and the soul. 

Karamzin energetically contributed to this develop- 
ment. Leader of the "sentimentalist " school, he could 
not find, in the old literary Russian, all that he needed 
to depict the inward life of his characters. To remedy 
this penury of sentimental interpretation, and also to 
build up the vocabulary required for his historical and 
philosophical works, he created a great number of 
words, proceeding by analogy and following the model 
of the Latin tongues. He also " Europeanized " 
Russian syntax, introducing more flexible and more 
agreeable constructions. 

This reorganization of the Russian language met with 
considerable resistance on the part of the extremer 
nationalists, one of whom (Shishkov) published a violent 
protest against the " novelties " imported by Karamzin 
and a defence of the M old style." The hostility of 
Shishkov and his followers is in part explained by 

1 A. Chakhmatov, " The Russian Tongue," in Brockhtus and Efron's 
Encyclopaedia, vol. 55 (Petersburg, 1899). 


the exaggerations which certain of the innovators per- 
mitted themselves ; some of them even went so far 
as to say that they detested the Russian tongue and 
preferred the French. But Karamzin and the best 
of the protagonists of ** Europeanization " were in no 
way responsible for these extravagances. Karamzin 
did not " denaturalize " the literary language ; on the 
contrary, he put life into it. Bielinsky, the famous 
critic, was perfectly right when he asserted that " before 
Karamzin's time no one read, for the little there 
was to read was so frightfully heavy." 

But Karamzin was obliged to seek for his means of 
expression in European literature, and especially in 
French literature. When asked how he had accom- 
plished this transformation, he replied that " he had 
some foreign authors in his mind," and that " he had 
in the first place imitated them." But his imitation 
was not blind or mechanical ; for, as M. Haumant 
observes, he " Russified more or less happily " the 
materials (for the most part French) which entered 
into the construction of his Russian prose. He could 
not therefore be accused of having " denaturalized " 
the language of his country ; but he made it fruitful 
by means of the powers of expression which he brought 
to it from the West. 

What Karamzin did for prose, others did for poetry. 
" The pains taken by the poetasters of the banks of 
the Moskva to achieve the elegance of their colleagues 
on the banks of the Seine," says M. Haumant, "were 
not entirely fruitless." Those rhymesters of the early 
nineteenth century, who had, without exception, learned 
in the school of Europe, prepared the way for the 
muse of Pushkin, whose style was thus formed upon 
the teaching of foreign authors, and whose verse was 
the first manifestation — as yet unequalled — of the Russo- 
European synthesis in Russian poetry. 

Since the days of Karamzin and Pushkin the literary 
Russian Language has had the benefit of a solid 
foundation for its subsequent development, which hub 


been entirely national and original ; but it will not 
forget that much of the material of these foundations 
came from Europe at the beginning of the nineteenth 

This language was, at the time of its formation, 
and is now, the language employed by the world of 
thought ; it is alien to the people. The Europeaniza- 
tion of the language, like the process of Europeaniza- 
tion in general, has not yet touched the masses. 
Although the spoken language of the cities is very 
close to the written language, the heavy, rustic idiom 
in common use among the moujiks is still far 
removed from it. But the diffusion of the Press, which 
is spreading from the towns into the country, the de- 
velopment of political life, and the awakening of the 
rural population to intellectual interests and the pro- 
gress of popular education are gradually lessening the 


I. The literature of the people and the literature of the cultivated 
writers — The first Western influences. II. The importation from 
Europe of literary forms and subjects. 

Foreign influences were plainly perceptible in Russian 
literature even in the earliest period, when popular 
poetry and oral tradition had their birth. In the early 
written literature they were even more perceptible. 

The written literature appropriated and absorbed 
these foreign influences far more skilfully than did 
the popular poetry ; intentional imitation being plainly 
perceptible, while in folk-lore the borrowing of foreign 
elements was effected unconsciously. 

The general origin of foreign inspiration, its source, 
and its paths of diffusion, differed considerably in both 
literatures. Oral poetry in Russia is often the daughter 
of the East, while the written literature draws vitality 
from the West ; in the case of the latter Asia gives 
way to Europe. 

But this change of orientation was gradual. In 
its beginnings Russian literature was forced to remain 
under the severe discipline of the Byzantine Church 
and its ascetic subjects. This quenched the radiance 
of poetic imagination. Not until the sixteenth century 
and afterwards did the literary influence of the West 
hew out a road for itself — a road which was not at 
first direct, but which followed a long and roundabout 

The first literary intermediaries between Russia and 



Europe were the Southern Slavs — Bulgars, Serbs, 
and Dalmatians — whose relations with their northern 
brothers were facilitated by the common alphabet in- 
vented in the ninth century by Saint Cyril, the famous 
apostle of the Slavs. Through them European litera- 
ture found its way into Russia, and there produced 
quite a spiritual revolution. The *•'■ Slavo-Roman " 
novels (as the Russian historians and philologists call 
them) — that is to say, the Slav version of the various 
romances of chivalry (Tristan and Iseult, the Knight 
Bova, Attila, the Fair Helen, etc.) made their way 
through Russia and gave rise to a new world of ideas 
and feelings and sympathies. The exploits and 
adventures of knights, the glorification of their heroism, 
and other similar subjects which furnished the matter 
of the " Slavo-Roman novels," afforded a diversion, 
a relaxation, to minds wearied by the monotonous moral 
and religious parenetics which for centuries had been 
their only mental fare. The legends of France, 
Brittany, and Italy, having passed through Serbia and 
Dalmatia, reached the Muscovites, in whom they re- 
awakened the poetic traditions of the period of Kiev, 
with its epic songs (byllny), which had been pitilessly 
persecuted and exterminated by the Church. Some 
of these productions (for example, the Italian romance 
of the Knight Bova) became, and have remained until 
our days, the favourite reading of the great masses 
of the Russian people. 

Love, as a subject, was an especial novelty to the 
Russians, who had for so long been subjected to an 
ethical system of Byzantine origin, which, in accord- 
ance with the teaching of the Church, strove to depict 
woman as an " evil being," a " diabolic vessel," while 
the story - tellers and poets of the West idealized 
her and openly professed the cult of beauty and 
of love. 

In the seventeenth century it was through her two 
most cultivated neighbours — Poland and the Ukraine, 
then to a great extent Polish in thought and language 


— that Muscovite Russia received her literary importa- 
tions from Europe. 

"In Polo-Ukrainian attire they came to us — 
Melusina, the gracious fairy, who mysteriously trans- 
forms herself into a little snake ; Count Peter of 
Provence with his faithful Magellonne ; Prince Bruns- 
wig, followed everywhere by his lion ; pairs of lovers, 
courageous knights, touching or pathetic visions." » 

At the same period Russia became familiar with 
the gay scenes of the celebrated humorous writers 
in whom the West abounds, the French fabliaux, and 
the episodes of Boccaccio's Decameron. This revela- 
tion, says Professor Veselovsky, who has made a special 
study of European influences in Russian prose and 
poetry, " produced a definite alteration in the tastes 
and judgments of the reader, by at last setting free 
the eternal aspirations, passion, love, laughter, dreams 
— all that was oppressed by the doctrine of abstinence 
and false modesty." 


European literature, while it developed the taste of 
the Russians, was also a school, in which the foremost 
representatives of prose and poetry were glad to study. 
Before this period there were only two forms of literary 
production : the lietopis — that is, the historical chronicle 
— and the religious homily. Europe taught Russia to 
employ other forms ; the ode, the drama, the romance. 

In the seventeenth century the south-west of Russia 
(and Kiev in particular) saw the creation of literary 
centres, where writers composed syllabic verses accord- 
ing to the rules of pseudo-classicism, and attempted 
to build up dramas of a sort. An embryo theatre 
even was established, organized by the students of 
the ecclesiastical colleges of the Ukraine. At the same 
time, society for the first time made the acquaintance 
of the periodical newspaper. It is true that the first 

* Alexis Veselovsky, Western Influence in Modern Russian Literature, 
and ed. (Moscow, 1896), p. 24. 


Russian newspaper was founded very much later, at 
the beginning of the eighteenth century, in fact, but 
in the seventeenth century the Government caused foreign 
newspapers to be translated into Russian. 

From the beginning of the eighteenth century the 
literature of the West had a direct effect upon Russia, 
independent of Poland as an intermediary. Russian 
writers began to come into immediate contact with 
their European masters. 

The first Russian satirist, Prince Antioch Kantemir, 
who attacked ignorance and glorified knowledge, main- 
tained personal relations with Montesquieu, Voltaire, 
and others. It is obvious that he found inspiration in 
Boileau, for he repeats almost word for word the famous 
avowal that " the word, in order that it may delight 
the reader, has often cost the author tears." ¥ He 
laughs in his verses," says Kantemir, " but in his heart 
he weeps over unprincipled men." He also imitated 
La Bruyere, Mathurin R£gnier, and Voltaire. 

Another Russian poet of the first half of the 
eighteenth century, Vassili Tretiakovsky, learned the 
poetic art abroad. He travelled in Holland and in 
France, and attended lectures at the University of Paris. 
Lacking money, he had to go afoot for a great part 
of the journey to Paris. He said of this city that 
" only a man whose soul is bestial can fail to love 
this beautiful spot, these beloved banks of the Seine." 
The poetical talent of Tretiakovsky was not very re- 
markable (he wrote better verses in French than in 
Russian), but he was the true pioneer of Russian versifi- 
cation. By comparing it with French versification he 
convinced himself that Russian versification must be 
based upon the tonic and not on the syllabic principle. 
Thanks to the revolution which he effected, Russian 
poetry was able to develop freely, liberated from the 
conventional rules of Latin or syllabic versification. 

Another lyric poet, Bogdanovitch, the immediate pre- 
cursor of Pushkin J[he wrote late in the eighteenth 
century), was also a pupil of the French. The sub- 



ject of his romance Dushenka is borrowed from La 
Fontaine's Psyche. He also translated poems by, 
Marmontel, Voltaire, etc. 

Tragedy too was an importation from Europe. 
The pioneer in this department of letters, Sumarokov 
(1717-77), was known as "the Russian Racine," and 
he certainly attempted to imitate Racine — and also 
Voltaire. He even wrote a poem in glorification of 
these two poets and Moliere, in which he expressed 
the conviction that " Moliere's Tartu fe will not be 
forgotten so long as the world endures." Sumarokov 
was also the founder of Russian journalism ; he estab- 
lished a monthly review, the forerunner of the periodical 
publications of the close of the eighteenth century. 
These early examples of Russian journalism were still 
imitations of European journals ; they were merely 
copies of the English Spectator and other publications 
of the kind. All the Russian contemporaries of the 
Spectator were full of translations and adaptations of 
articles appearing in the Spectator. In this connec- 
tion we may mention that the form of the Vision of 
Mirza, a poem by the celebrated writer of odes, 
Derjavin (1743-18 16), was taken from the allegorical 
poem by Addison, published, under the same title, in 
the Spectator. 

At the same period two other forms of literature 
were developed in Russia : the comedy and the fable. 
In these, again, the Russian authors, even the most 
independent and the most truly national, were merely 
the docile disciples of Europe. In this connection the 
evolution of talent in the well-known fabulist Krylov is 
extremely interesting. He began by writing tragedies, 
following the rules of the French classics. Then he 
wrote comic operas and comedies, in which he 
borrowed from Moliere, Beaumarchais, and other French 
writers. Krylov 's comedy A Lesson for Young Women 
is word for word a reproduction of Les Pricieuses 
Ridicules. When Krylov finally devoted himself exclu- 
sively to the fables which made him famous not only 


in Russia but throughout the world, he was still follow- 
ing in the footsteps of his Greek and French originals. 
The French biographer of Krylov, M. Fleury, and a 
number of Russian critics have demonstrated that 
Krylov imitated La Fontaine and remained an adapter 
even in those fables which he professed to regard as 
original and which seemed to bear all the marks of 

As for the comic writers, the two best known at the 
end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nine- 
teenth century were Count Kapnist and Fonvizin. In 
Kapnist's well-known comedy Tabeda (Trickery), which 
vigorously attacks the venal and inequitable justice of 
Russia, we find traces of the Misanthrope of Mo here, 
and one of the principal characters in this comedy is 
almost the twin brother of Alceste. Fonvizin, the father 
of Russian comedy, and indeed of the Russian theatre, 
presents a still more curious example of Western influ- 
ence. Fonvizin was a militant opponent of " Gallo- 
mania " — that is, the excessive admiration professed by 
Russian society for French literature, French ideas, 
French manners. Nevertheless, he himself, in his 
comedies, " subjected French authors to a devastating 
invasion" (in the words of M. Veselovsky), taking 
from them whatever he could. He plundered Duclos, 
La Bruyere, Voltaire, La Rochefoucauld, etc., and even 
went to the length of actual plagiarism. .What is 
more, the very comedy in which he strikes his shrewdest 
blows at " Gallomania " — his Ivanushka — is by no 
means an original and national work, but a mere adapta- 
tion of a comedy by Holberg, the Danish author of 
Jean of France, the hero of which was a young Dane 
who was over-Gallicized. Fonvizin did not even change 
the name of the leading character, but merely trans- 
lated it, Ivanushka being the diminutive of Ivan or 
John or Jean. 

To close this examination of the origins of the various 
forms and departments of Russian literature, we must 
not omit to mention what in Russia is known as 


" publicist " literature, that is, the literature of political 
and social propaganda, which plays an enormous part 
in Russian life. This species of literature made its 
first appearance at the end of the nineteenth century, 
and its first memorable example was the Voyage from 
Petersburg to Moscow by Radishtshev. This " book, 
which suffered greatly " (like its author), which was 
placed on the Index by the Russian Government, and 
was prohibited for a term of a hundred years ( I ), con- 
tained a fiery and audacious protest against the horrors 
of despotic rule and of serfdom. A piece of noble 
audacity, it proceeded directly from two foreign books : 
Sterne's Sentimental Journey through France and Italy 
(1796), and the Philosophical and Political History of 
European Trade and Settlements in the East and W^est 
Indies (The Hague, 1774). To the English author 
Radishtshev owes the outward form of his work and a 
whole series of episodes ; to the French author, the 
condemnation of Indian slavery, to which Russian serf- 
dom bore a great resemblance. 

It is thus clearly proved that the most celebrated 
monuments of eighteenth century Russian literature are 
the offspring of European literature — and of French 
literature especially ; and that the principal literary 
forms and models reached us from the West. The 
eighteenth century was for Russian writers the didactic 
century, during which they were shaping themselves 
in the school of Europe. 

The two first decades of the nineteenth century also 
belong to this period. The best Russian novelist of 
this period, Karamzin, found the type of his sentimental 
romances in Rousseau {La Nouvelle Heloise) and 
Goethe (W.erther). The best-known poet of this period, 
Jukovsky, wrote ballads modelled on those of Burger 
and other German romantics, and elegies in imitation 
of European poets. 

It was only towards the end of the second half of 
the nineteenth century that the mighty trio arose — 
Pushkin, Lermontov, and Gogol — and Russian literature 


weaned itself from its parent, and began to lead a truly 
independent and national existence. Not that it was 
thenceforth closed to all foreign suggestion. The genial 
creations of Pushkin, Lermontov, and Gogol, like those 
of their predecessors, were matured by the beneficent 
warmth diffused by the literature of the West. But 
mechanical and explicit reproduction was replaced by 
an organic appropriation and a national transformation 
of international ideas and expressions. 

Russian literature still keeps its eyes fixed upon 
Europe ; perhaps more steadily than of old ; but it 
no longer follows in another's wake, like a vessel under 
tow ; it moves upon its own course. 


I. Various European influences in Russian literature — Classicism, 
sentimentalism, and romanticism — Shakespeare in Russia. II. 
Russian realism. III. Byronism in Russia — Dostoievsky's opinion 
of Byronism. 

My readers will understand that European influence 
in Russian literature is not confined to the formal side 
of the latter — to the language and the different creative 
forms. It has also affected the spirit of literary pro- 
duction in Russia, and all the principal " movements " 
of European literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth 
centuries will be found in Russian literature, from classi- 
cism to symbolism (or even, if you will, to futurism 1). 

The literary movements of Western Europe find their 
way into Russia, and there undergo transformation. 
Some of them strike only very feeble roots into Russian 
soil ; others, on the contrary, become thoroughly 
acclimatized and yield remarkable fruit. 

A French historian, M. Andre* Lirondelle (Professor 
in the University of Lille), published some three years 
ago a very interesting work on Shakespeare in Russia. 
This volume, which is a true literary incarnation of 
the Anglo-Franco-Russian alliance (the work of a 
French scholar investigating the influence upon Russian 
literature of a great English writer I), affords us excellent 
concrete material for the formation of an exact idea 
as to the general character and the relative power of 
the various literary movements in Russia. 

The Russians made their first acquaintance with 
Shakespeare perhaps in the seventeenth century. But 



this first acquaintance was neither extensive nor pro- 
found, and down to the end of the following century 
the influence of Shakespeare was small in the extreme. 
This will be readily understood, for the eighteenth 
century was an age of classicism. Even at the begin- 
ning of this century, a well-known Russian writer — 
Feofan Prokopovitch — gave evidence of "a classic 
temperament," and derided the liberties taken by the 
Russian imitators of the Jesuit dramas : M The Tsars, 
on their stage, utter imbecilities ; they weep like women 
and speak like artisans," he indignantly complains. A 
historian of Russian literature, citing this remark, con- 
cludes with justice : " With such ideas Feofan would 
certainly have criticized Shakespeare and exalted 
Corneille and Racine." *■ 

During the whole of the eighteenth century the 
literary influence of France became more firmly estab- 
lished in Russia, and the influence of classicism increased 
simultaneously. And it was through the medium of 
his French translators and critics that Shakespeare made 
his way into Russian literature. He was a " Frenchi- 
fied " Shakespeare. But he nevertheless helped to 
weaken the influence of French classicism, because, as 
M. Lirondelle very justly remarks, the Russian tempera- 
ment itself was an aid to the diffusion of the Shake- 
spearian influence. The propaganda of the new German 
school of drama (that of Lessing) was also of assistance. 
The protest of this school against the narrowness of 
the classic school was bound to be extremely effective 
in Russia. *' To speak of the abrogation of rules, 
to recommend simplicity and what is natural, was to 
gain one's cause beforehand with minds impatient of 
constraint." 2 

However, we must not exaggerate the extent of the 
anti-classical reaction which took place in the time 
of Catherine II. The liberation from the rules of the 
classical drama was only formal and external. As 

1 Andre Lirondelle, Shakespeare en Russie, pp. 14-15 (Paris, 1912). 
3 Ibid. p. 32. 


for the true Shakespearian spirit, it was still unknown 
to the Russian literature of that period. The best 
proofs of this statement are the dramatic works of 
Catherine II, who renounced the " three unities " of 
classicism and imitated Shakespeare in the construction 
of her historic dramas, but was at the same time anxious 
that history and the reality " should not be too dis- 
agreeable." In her " imitations " of Shakespeare 
Catherine misrepresented him rather than imitated him, 
and the most original of Shakespeare's types suffer, 
at her hands, metamorphoses which are utterly in- 
credible. For example, in one of her plays " Falstaff, 
a Flemish drunkard," the whale with belly swollen 
with tuns of oil that is cast ashore at .Windsor, has 
become an elegant coxcomb, always dressed, shod, and 
barbered in the latest fashion. Considerations of a 
political order entered into literature. Catherine elimi- 
nated from her imitations of Shakespeare every really 
popular or democratic element. In " a free adaptation " 
of Timon of Athens she suppressed, for example, all 
mention of the Greek democracy and its political con- 

The age of Catherine was too deeply steeped in 
" enlightened despotism " and false classicism to adopt 
the robust and popular realism of Shakespeare. These 
are the words in which a Russian review, in 1769, 
expressed the prevailing opinion of Shakespeare : — 

M Shakespeare, that old tragedian, still adored by 
the English, had thoughts of a very lofty order, and 
was witty and scholarly, but wayward, and his taste 
was bad. All his tragedies have now become curious 
farces, in which the characters are described and inter- 
mingled without selection. In his Julius Ccesar, 
pleasantries which would be natural to coarse Roman 
artisans are introduced into the very important scene 
between Brutus and Cassius." 

This was written in 1769. Twenty years had not 
elapsed when a very different opinion was expressed. 
Karamzin, the leader of the " sentimentalist " movement, 


published in 1787 a translation of Julius Ccesar, and 
in the preface to his translation he speaks of Shake- 
speare as follows : — 

" Few writers have penetrated human nature so pro- 
foundly as Shakespeare ; few have known so intimately 
as this astonishing artist all the most secret forces of 
man, his most hidden motives, the individuality of every 
passion, of every temperament, of every manner of life. 
All his magnificent pictures directly imitate nature ; 
all the changing lights of these pictures astonish those 
who examine them attentively ; in his work every class 
of mankind, every age, every passion, and every 
character speaks its own language. For every thought 
he finds an image, for every feeling an expression, 
for every movement of the soul the best interpretation." 

Karamzin defends Shakespeare against the attacks 
of " the celebrated sophist Voltaire " (sic), who " strove 
to prove that Shakespeare was an indifferent author, 
full of great and numerous defects," and who held that 
the tragedies of Shakespeare were " tragico-lyrico- 
pastoral farces, without plan, without unity, with no 
connection between one scene and the next ; a dis- 
agreeable mixture of the base and the sublime." 
Karamzin explains Voltaire's opinion by personal motives 
— and asserts that M being indebted to Shakespeare for 
the best elements of his tragedy, Voltaire feared to 
praise Shakespeare lest he should thereby abase him- 

"rThat Shakespeare did not observe the rules of 
the theatre is true," continues Karamzin. " The real 
cause of this non-observance was, I believe, his ardent 
imagination, which could not subdue itself to any pre- 
scribed rule. His mind soared like an eagle, and 
could not measure its flight by the measure of a sparrow. 
. . . He did not wish to confine his imagination within 
limits ; he considered nature only, caring for nothing 
else. ... His genius, like the genius of nature, em- 
braced the sun and the atoms in its gaze." 

But although the Russian " sentimentalists " were 


better able to appreciate Shakespeare than the repre- 
sentatives of pseudo-classicism, they were as yet unable 
to grasp the real meaning of " Shakespearism." The 
violent passions of Shakespeare's heroes and his brutal 
realism were too much for the tender sentimentalists. 
One experiences a very curious impression on observing 
their endeavours to discover " melancholy " in Shake- 
speare, and on reading their, lamentations over the 
shocking attitude of his buffoons, who offend our sensi- 
tive M melancholies " by their noisy cries and vulgar 

The writers of the romantic period, which in Russia, 
as everywhere, followed the period of sentimentalism, 
seek to exploit Shakespeare to the advantage of their 
own literary school. Russian romantic poetry was 
strongly influenced by its German sister, and followed 
the latter in its preference for the fantastic and 
mysterious. And these are the qualities which our 
romantic poets discover in Shakespeare, while his realism 
offends them almost as greatly as it revolted our senti- 
mentalists. For example, the leader of the romantic 
school in Russia, Jukovsky, " is fascinated by the 
terrifying scenes of Macbeth, the fantastic witches, the 
monologue which precedes the crime, the somnambulism 
of Lady Macbeth." But " the pleasantries of Shake- 
speare strike him as lacking in refinement." • Never- 
theless, Shakespeare is officially classified by the 
romantic critics and philosophers of Russia as among 
the romantic poets, and his works " were the subject 
of many great debates in our ' philosophical clubs * 
of the years 1830-40." The youthful members of 
these clubs (of which I shall speak presently) drew 
upon the Shakespearian drama for material to illustrate 
the abstract ideas of their masters, the German philo- 
sophers (Schelling, Fichte, and Hegel). 

But at this same period Pushkin — first of all the 
Russian writers — attained to a thorough understanding 
and a just appreciation of Shakespeare, and expressed 
' A. Lirondelle, op. cit. p. 128. 


the opinion that the popular laVs of the English drama 
were better suited to the Russian theatre than the 
" courtly tradition " of the school of Racine. And in 
his historical drama Boris Godunov Pushkin faithfully 
observed the laws of the Shakespearian drama. Boris 
Godunov became the starting-point of the new dramatic 
art and of the new Russian literature in general ; the 
watchword of the latter being realism. 


All who are acquainted with Russian literature and 
are able to appreciate its function consider that its 
realism constitutes its principal virtue and attraction. 
And it is this realism which makes it an international 
literature. The connection between the realistic char- 
acter of Russian literature and its universal quality is 
very well defined by M. Venguerov in a recent volume. 
This is what he says : — 

" Are not all the great Russian writers at the same 
time international writers? Must we not place them 
in the front rank of humanity? . . . If we limit the 
comparison to the modern period of Russian literature 
— that is, to the second half of the nineteenth century — 
and if we enumerate only the best-known authors, we 
see that its place is quite different. Are the works of 
Tolstoy, Turgenev, and Dostoievsky on the same level 
as the English and American productions of the same 
period, the most eminent of which are the novels pf 
George Eliot and Mrs. Beecher Stowe, the short stories 
of Bret Harte, the nebulous poetry of Browning, the 
sugary idylls of Tennyson? Are they on a level with 
the contemporary literature of Germany, the most 
notable examples of which bear the names of Auerbach, 
Freitag, Spielhagen, and Paul Heise? Lastly, is the 
place of Russian literature quite on the same level with 
that of French literature, although this is illumined by 
such talents as those of Dumas fits, Flaubert, and Guy 
de Maupassant? 

" No ; we may say it without any chauvinism ; in the 


individual genius of its protagonists and, above all, in 
its fundamental tendencies, the Russian literature of 
the second half of the nineteenth century is absolutely 
on a higher plane than the modern literature of Western 
Europe, which reached its apogee not in the second 
but in the first half of the century, with Goethe, Schiller, 
Heine, Byron, Balzac, Hugo, George Sand, Dickens, 
etc. Has not realism— which quite recently, in Europe, 
appeared to be the last phase of literary progress — has 
not realism, with us, been predominant for some eighty 
years? And again, can any man with a cultivated sense 
of the artistic fail to realize how far the famous Euro- 
pean 'realism' of 1870-80, so nearly akin to porno- 
graphy and absence of the ideal, is inferior to the 
realism of the Russian writers? With the Russians life 
is represented with a fidelity which amounts to complete 
reproduction, and this reproduction, which attains the 
very limits of the actual, is yet illumined by the ideal 
and full of a love of humanity of which there is not even 
a trace in the greater European realists. . . . And 
there is no doubt that it is precisely this difference which 
explains the mystery of the stupendous success which 
the Russian writers have achieved with the public and 
the critics of Western Europe. Every one was con- 
scious that the stagnant waters of European literature 
had been stirred by a fresh current, full of fresh colours, 
which were the result, not of putrefaction, but of the 
organic labour of forces which were still young, virgin, 
and incorruptible. The barbarians of yesterday were 
speaking a new language, which was to echo profoundly 
through European literature." » 

But while admitting all this, we must not forget that 
Russian realism' was born under the influence of a few 
European authors, and in particular of Shakespeare, 
whose mighty shadow hovered over the cradle of the 
young literature. To-day, when all humanity has just 
been celebrating the tercentenary of Shakespeare, Russia 
has reason to be peculiarly grateful to him. 

* S. Vengucrov, The Heroic Character of Russian Literature (Peters- 
burg, 191 1), pp. 21,22. 



M. Lirondelle, in his work on Shakespeare en Russie, 
touches on the important problem of the conflict between 
the influence of Shakespeare upon Russian literature 
and that of Byron. Speaking of the impress of Shake- 
speare upon Pushkin, the father of Russian prose and 
poetry, M. Lirondelle remarks that " Pushkin did not, 
upon coming into contact with Shakespeare, incur the 
danger which Byron brought upon him by leading him 
toward an exaggerated subjectivity." The same idea 
is expressed by many historians of Russian literature, 
who assert, moreover, that Shakespeare delivered 
Pushkin from the peril of Byronic subjectivism. 

I do not share this opinion, for the following 
reasons : — 

In the first place, I do not understand why 
Byronism should be, or should be said to be, 
more dangerous to Russian writers than " Ham- 
letism," which has left a deep imprint upon our 
literature. M Hamletism " is the scepticism of a 
superior mind devoid of all moral energy, all power 
of action. These characteristics were predominant in 
the Russian " intellectuals " of certain periods of the 
last century, as I have already stated in my Modern: 
Russia. As for Byronism, the lack of will so typical of 
" Hamletism " is unknown to it. During its first diffu- 
sion through Russia Byronism was accepted by our 
" intellectuals " more especially as a revolutionary pro- 
test of the individual against the old political and social 
forces which oppressed it. Byron, to the Russians, was 
not merely the author of Don Juan and Childe Harold ; 
he was also the poet of the Greek insurrection and plf 
liberty in general. It is of great importance to realize 
that of the three principal currents of Western 
romanticism, that which had the most influence over 
Russian literature was not the romanticism of Germany, 
with its fantastic ballads, nor the romanticism of France, 
with its conservatism and mysticism, but the romanti- 


cism of England. And it was not the fault of the 
Russian writers and M intellectuals " that the external 
conditions of their country did not allow them to realize, 
in actual life, their Byronic impulse, which was for them 
an impulse toward liberty and truth. It was not their 
fault that this impulse, shattered by the social and 
political conditions of the country, lost its energy and 
degenerated into a passive " Hamletism." 

In the Russian life of the nineteenth century there 
were moments of the most intense social and political 
activity. At these moments the young " intellectuals " 
were often extremely hard upon the "Byronians." In 
1877, when Dostoievsky pronounced a funeral address 
over the tomb of the poet Nekrassov, beloved by the 
vanguard of Russian youth, he compared the dead poet 
to Pushkin and Lermontov, whereupon a voice from the 
crowd about the tomb cried out that Nekrassov was 
superior to Pushkin and Lermontov, because they " were 
only Byronians." Dostoievsky himself had not much 
love for the Russian M Byronians " ; they, were anti- 
pathetic to him as " Occidentalists," and men who felt 
themselves detached from the national soil. More 
than once he derided them ; more than once he 
was unjust to them. In 1S61 he wrote of them as 
follows : — 

" There were in our country Byronic natures. The 
4 Byronians ' usually stood about with folded arms, with- 
out even taking the trouble to damn things, like the 
head of their school. They were content to smile 
bitterly from time to time, and they derided their 
English original because on occasion he wept or lost 
his temper, which was entirely unworthy of a peer. 
Their quiet disdain permitted them to spend their time 
junketing in restaurants, growing fatter not daily only 
but hourly ; and their gentle bitterness filled them 
merely with an amiable hatred of property. Some there 
were who, in their disinterestedness — in respect of others 
—dipped into the pockets of their neighbours and en- 
riched themselves at their expense. Some became 


4 Grecians.' We regarded them with admiration. ' To 
think,' we used to tell ourselves, ' that what these fine 
fellows do they do on principle 1 * " 

But later on Dostoievsky abandoned this point of 
view, and when his auditors by, the coffin of Nekrassov 
sought in turn to belittle the Byronians, he took it 
upon himself to defend the latter. In this connection 
Dostoievsky published in his Diary of an Author a 
remarkable passage descriptive of Byronism : — 

" In the first place," he says, " it seems to me that 
one should not employ the word ' Byronian ' as an 
insult. Byronism was only a momentary phenomenon, 
but it was not without importance, and it came at the 
right time. It appeared at a period of anguish and dis- 
illusion. After a frantic enthusiasm for a new ideal 
born in France at the end of the eighteenth century — 
and France was then the foremost nation of Europe — 
humanity recovered itself, and the events which followed 
were so little like those which had been expected, and 
men understood so clearly, that they had been tricked, 
that there have been few sadder moments in the history 
of Western Europe. The old idols lay overthrown, when 
a powerful and passionate poet revealed himself. In 
his songs echoed the anguish of man, and he wept that 
he had been deceived. His was a muse as yet unknown 
— the muse of vengeance, malediction, and despair. The 
cry of Byron found an echo. How could it fail to do 
so in a heart as great as Pushkin's? Any real talent 
was bound, at that time, to pass through a Byronic 
period. In Russia many grievous problems were still 
unsolved, and it was Pushkin's glory that he discovered, 
in the midst of men who barely understood him, a way 
of escape from the dismal situation. This way of escape 
was to return to the people." 

As for Lermontov, " he," says Dostoievsky, " was 
also a Byronian ; but thanks to the power of his 
originality he was a Byronian of a peculiar kind, dis- 
dainful and capricious, believing neither in his own 
inspiration nor in his Byronism." And if death had not 


stopped him on the way, M he too would have found his 
way directly to the national truth." 

For Dostoievsky the essence of Russian Byronism 
consists of the opposition between " the type of Russian 
tormented by Europeanism " and " the people." Dos- 
toievsky saw the solution of this conflict in the sub- 
mission of the " Europeanized intellectual " to the 
" national truth," the truth of the common people. 
The Occidentalists, on the contrary, saw it in the 
Europeanization of the people themselves. But I do 
not wish to lay stress upon this point. What I do wish 
to emphasize is that Dostoievsky very, correctly under- 
stood and defined the historic significance of Byronism 
in Russia. That this Russian Byronism achieved so great 
an expansion was due precisely to the fact that it offered 
a ready-made formula for a real phenomenon. We 
cannot, therefore, compare M the danger of Byronic 
subjectivism " with Shakespearean objectivism when 
comparing the influence exerted by the one and the 
other poet in Russia. With us, to be Byronic meant, at 
certain periods, to be faithful to the objectivism of the 
life which gave rise to the Byronic type within the walls 
of Petersburg and Moscow. 

For this reason, perhaps, we should not be surprised 
by the undoubted fact that " Byronism," like " Shake- 
spearism," was a factor present at the very origin of 
literary realism in Russia. 




l. The first collision between nationalist ideals and Western influ- 
ences—The first Russian zapadnik. II. Two Muscovite imigris. 
III. The first Slavophile in Russia. 

We have seen under what conditions Europe penetrated 
the economic and political life of Russia. Let us now 
consider how Europe contributed to form the Russian 
mentality, the national consciousness of Russia. 

To gain a proper understanding of the subject we 
must once more ascend the stream of history and 
commence our examination at the period when the first 
collision occurred between European ideas and the soul 
of ancient Russia — that is, the eighteenth century. 

At the same time appears the very curious and very 
characteristic figure of the first Russian zapadnik. 1 
This was Prince Ivan Khovrostinin, the champion of 
Occidentalism, which was finding its way into Russia 
through Poland. 

During the ephemeral reign of Dimitri the Impostor, 
Khovrostinin was attached to his Court, in which there 
were many Poles. In this environment Khovrostinin 
became acquainted with Latin civilization and Catholi- 
cism. Full of the ideas derived from these sources, 
he rebelled against Muscovite manners and the Orthodox 
religion. After the fall of Dimitri I he was accused 
by the old Orthodox Russians of " Latin heresy," and 
was deported to the monastery of St. Joseph, " there 
to do penance." Shortly afterwards he was set at 

P Zapadnik, derived from zapad (west), signifies a partisan of 
Western ideas, an admirer of Europe. 



liberty. In the " Period of Disturbances " he com- 
manded a regiment of the Muscovite army against the 
Poles and their allies. He even became a Muscovite 

But the transformation was too great ; he could 
no longer feel any sympathy for the old Russia. He 
attacked her again, once more, for his compatriots, 
becoming a "heretic"; once more to be accused by. 
them of pride and contempt for his country. In 1623 
the Tsar gave orders for his imprisonment in the 
monastery of St. Cyril, where he was to be placed 
"under the orders of a good ancient (monk)." The 
instructions of the patriarch were that the princely 
heretic " did not pass a single day without prayers 
and canticles." A year later he signed a deed of 
abjuration, denying his heresy, and was released, to 
die in 1625, " reconciled " with Orthodoxy, and having 
assumed the monk's robe. 

It is highly probable that his submission was only 
apparent. The old faith 1 and the old ethics of Muscovite 
Russia were too repugnant to Khovrostinin to admit 
of his sincere conversion. 

Professor Klutshevsky describes him as " an original 
Russian freethinker with a Catholic basis, who was 
imbued with a profound antipathy for the dry ritualism 
of the Byzantine Church, and for the whole life of 
Russia, which was steeped in this ritualism." 
Klutshevsky even compares Khovrostinin to Tchuadaev, 
of whom we shall speak later on. But it must not be 
thought that Khovrostinin deserted Orthodoxy for 
Catholicism. In his writings and the memoirs of his 
contemporaries we find no evidence of his conversion. 
What he knew of Catholicism and the Wfcst in general 
did not lead him' toward any positive new faith, but 
merely made him sensible of the defects of his own. 
He was an atheist. The indictment brought against 
him asserted that not only, did he not go to church, 
but he did not allow his serfs to do so, and in case 
of disobedience he used to beat therri and otherwise 


punish them'. His accusers also pretended that he was 
lacking in respect for the Tsar, and that he spoke 
of him as " the despot." 

•What particularly impresses us in Khovrostinin is 
his profound moral and intellectual isolation. " Euro- 
peanized " mentally, he was above his environment. 
If it is true that he assumed the gown of a monk towards 
the end of his life, it was because he himself was 
conscious of his spiritual solitude ; he would willingly, 
have quitted a world with which he could not possibly 
live on peaceable terms. 

Such was the first case known to us of rupture 
between a " Russian European " and his country. 


Thirty-five years after the death of Prince Ivan 
Khovrostinin had disembarrassed the Orthodox Church 
and the government of the Tsar of his hostility, the 
Muscovite Chancelleries had occasion to deal with 
another M refractory " — the young boyarin Vo'in Ordyn- 
Nashtshokin, who took refuge abroad (in 1660) because 
Russian life "made his gorge rise." 

Voin Ordyn-Nashtshokin had been taught by his 
father, a Muscovite diplomatist of some repute, to hold 
things European in respect, and his education was con- 
fided to Polish 1 professors who succeeded in inspiring 
him with a great affection for the lights of Western 
civilization and a great contempt for his own back- 
ward country. Dominated by these feelings, he 
emigrated first to Poland and then to France. The 
Moscow Government was so irritated by his departure 
that it sought to " put an end to his earthly existence." 
But this was useless/; for after four years abroad the 
young boyarin, overcome by a profound nostalgia, re- 
pented, and was " pardoned " by the Tsar, who at first 
ordered him to live on one of his father's estates, and 
afterwards confined him for some time in the monastery 
of St. Cyril, where he was obliged to be present at 
the daily offices, in order to strengthen his orthodoxy. 


Thanks to the solicitations of his father he was able 
to leave the monastery in 1667, an d ended his days 
as a provincial voievoda. 

The Russia of his days " made his gorge rise." 
Yet he returned of his own free will. Why? M. 
Plekhanov explains the fact as follows :— 

" Men like Prince Ivan Khovrostinin and Voin Nasht- 
shokin were ' nauseated * by Moscow ; foreign lands 
attracted them. But they found it as difficult to adapt 
themselves to Western Europe. Their misfortune, their 
great and irreparable misfortune, was that they were 
foreigners either side of the Muscovite frontier." 1 They 
were " the first victims when Muscovy turned toward 
the West." 

The third eminent zapadnik, Grigory Kotoshikhin, 
was attracted by Sweden. He was an official of the 
Prikaz of Foreign Affairs. He established relations 
with a merchant of Narva, of Russian origin, but a 
Swedish subject. He also came into contact with 
Swedish diplomatists. He carried his complaisance 
toward them to the length of giving them' certain secret 
information. The following year, in 1644, he left 
Russia and settled in Sweden, where he entered the 
administration. But three years later misfortune over- 
took him in his new country ; he mortally wounded 
a Swede in a quarrel, and was condemned to death. 

It was not to escape punishment for his act of 
" high treason " that Kotoshikhin left Russia ; the 
venality of the Muscovite bureaucracy was such that 
it was accustomed to such indiscretions. Kotoshikhin 
had other reasons for his actions : the same as had 
previously impelled young Ordyn-Nashtshokin to leave 
his country. A man of great intellectual ability (vir 
ingenio incomparabile, says his Swedish biographer), 
he was incapable of descending to the level of his 

In his remarkable work on Russia under Alexis 
Mikhailovitch he paints in exact but pitiless colours 

' G. Plekhanov, History of Social Ideas in Russia, vol. i. p. 276. 


the fashionable Muscovite society of the mid-seven- 
teenth century, the administration, the juridical system, 
and the manners of the day. The impression produced 
by his description, even at a distance of two and a half 
centuries, is extremely painful. The population is 
ignorant, even in its upper classes ; above all the 
women, who are imprisoned between the four walls 
of their homes. The Tsarina cannot be allowed to 
assist at the official reception of the ambassadors, 
because she is too unintelligent, and does not know 
how to behave in the presence of foreigners. ,The 
inhabitants even of the capital lack the most elementary 
security ; the brigands are the masters in the streets 
of Moscow. The public administrations are composed 
of individuals chosen not for their intelligence, but on 
account of their birth; and the boyars who sit in 
the Duma are dense and stupid ; they " rest their 
beards " on the table, understanding nothing. 

All this, in Kotoshikhin's opinion, because Russia 
was isolated from Europe. 

" They (the Russians) do not send their sons to be 
educated abroad, because they fear that, having become 
acquainted with the religion, the manners, and the 
excellent liberty of other countries, they would proceed 
to abandon their own religion and embrace another, 
without giving a thought to returning to their homes and 
their parents." 


The Slavophiles bitterly' reproached Kotoshikhin for 
his attacks upon the old Russia. They often contrasted 
him with another moralist of the same period — Jury 

Of Serb origin, born in Croatia in 1617, a pupil 
in the Catholic seminary of Vienna, he entered Russia 
in 1646, and lived there for five years. In 1660 he 
returned to Russia, but in 1661 he was deported to 
Tobolsk in Siberia, where he lived for fifteen years. 
Between 1676 and 1680 he was in Poland. After 1680 
we lose sight of hirri. 


Krijanitsh", according to his own statement, was drawn 
to Russia by his love of the Slavs. He searched 
among the Slavs for a people which had not as yet 
been denationalized by foreign influence. He regarded 
the Slavs of Pomerania, Silesia, Bohemia, and Moravia 
as finally Germanized. The Slavs of the Balkans, 
according to him, M had long ago lost not only th#ir 
national formations, but their power, their language, 
and their understanding." M Their States cannot be 
re-established at present, in these difficult times ; one 
can only open their mind's eye by means of books, 
so that they may learn for themselves to understand 
their dignity, and to dream of their independence." 
Krijanitsh had more hope of the Poles, but he believed 
they would need help from Russia, whose assistance 
and protection were still more necessary to the other 

But in order to protect and guide the Slav world, 
Russia, said Krijanitsh, ought to emancipate herself 
from her " xenomania," that is, from her exaggerated 
love of foreign things and persons. Krijanitsh con- 
sidered that foreigners weakened the two principal bases 
of Russia's power : her material wealth and her military 
forces. Foreign merchants exploited the population, 
buying its products at a low price and selling their 
own goods to it at a high price ; they exported grain, 
which the country needed for the increase of its popula- 
tion, and imported articles which 1 helped to corrupt 
the Russians and to introduce foreign tastes among 
them. As for the military force of Russia, the par- 
ticipation of foreigners in its transformation was an 
evil, because the organization established by them was 
adapted to wars upon the iWestern frontier, but not 
to the struggle against the nomads of the South, who 
were particularly dangerous. The appointment of 
foreigners as officers resulted in the rejection of 
Russians, and the soldiers, who were given orders in 
a foreign language, had no confidence in their officers, 
and were losing confidence in themselves. 


Krijanitsh reached a very simple conclusion. The 
foreigners must be expelled ; European merchants were 
to be tolerated only in a few mercantile towns near 
the frontier ; as for the foreign " colonels," they were 
to be dismissed and sent home to their own countries 
as soon as they had transferred their knowledge to the 
Russians— which they had already accomplished. 

However, Krijanitsh was not a reactionary nationalist 
after the pattern of those which Russia knew in the nine- 
teenth century. He recommended the Russian people 
to follow " a middle path," equally removed from the 
two extremes; one of which, according to Krijanitsh, 
was represented by the Byzantine Greeks and the other 
by the Europeans. He compared the action of these 
two factors, and described it in a very, interesting 
manner : — 

' There are," he writes, *' two peoples which lead 
Russia into temptation by offering baits of a contrary 
nature. . . . They are the Niemtzy ■ and the Greeks. 
Despite all their differences, these two peoples are in 
perfect agreement upon one point: that is, as to the 
fundamental aim of the temptations which they offer, 
and this agreement is such that one might well believe 
in a conspiracy against us. 

" i. The Niemtzy recommend us to accept all sorta 
of novelties. They want us to abandon all our old and 
praiseworthy institutions, and to adopt their customs 
and their depraved laws. The Greeks, on the other 
hand, condemn all novelties, without exception. . » „ 
They tell us again and again that every new thing is an 
evil thing. But reason tells us that nothing can be good 
or bad simply because it is new. Every good thing and 
every evil thing has begun by being a new thing. . » . 
We cannot accept novelties without discussion, frivo- 
lously, for in that case we might be mistaken. But 
we must not refuse that which is good because of its 
newness, for in this case also we might be in error. . . . 

* The name of Niemtzy was then applied to Europeans in general. 
To-day it is reserved for the Germans. 


44 2. The Greeks taught us long ago the Orthodox 
religion . The Niemtzy preach heresies which are impure 
and have a disastrous effect on the soul. Reason 
counsels us in this connection to be very grateful to 
the Greeks, to avoid the Niemtzy, and to detest them as 
though they were devils or dragons. 

"3. The Niemtzy try to induce us to go to school 
with them. . . . They advise us to make the free 
sciences— that is, the philosophical sciences — a common 
possession, accessible to every moujik. The Greeks, 
on the contrary, condemn all knowledge and all the 
sciences, and recommend us to remain ignorant. But 
reason says : Avoid diabolical enchantments like the 
Devil himself, but believe that ignorance does not lead 
to good. 

"4. The Niemtzy set the preaching or the reading of 
the Gospel above everything ; they hope to achieve 
salvation thereby, without any help of penitence or good 
works. Moreover, they provoke us to argument. As 
for the Greeks, they have entirely suppressed and con- 
demn the preaching of the Word of God. And they 
have condemned and prohibited disputes and assem- 
blies. But reason counsels us (1) to be zealous in the 
matter of penitence and good works ; (2) not to despise 
the preaching of the Gospel. But the first-comer must 
not be permitted to preach. . . . Only the bishop or 
one of the most ancient monks may do so. As for 
mere priests— and even this is not fitting for all — it is 
enough for them to read sermons from books. Now, 
in Germany and Poland any drunken priest may preach 
the word of God. 

"5. The Niemtzy advise us to abandon ourselves to 
all the pleasures of the body and teach us to despise the 
life of the monks, vigils, and all mortifications of the 
flesh. The Greeks require that we shall observe the true 
and praiseworthy Christian temperance, but besides this 
they propagate a special kind of false piety and Phari- 
saical superstition. They seek to wash away spiritual 
taints by means of corporeal ablutions, and they think 


to cleanse the impurity of the body by the prayers of 
priests, etc. But reason says: One must by no means 
suffer corporeal debauchment and despise the acts of 
penitence nor the mortification of the flesh. As for 
pious practices which are new and suspect and unknown 
to our fathers, they should be carefully examined 

"6. In political matters the Greeks advise us to act 
in all things according to the example of the Turkish 
Court. Themselves devoid of political knowledge and 
experience, they can only tell us of what they have seen at 
the Porte. As for the Niemtzy, they condemn all the 
customs, laws, and institutions of the Turks. Anything 
that bears the name of Turkish is, in their country, by 
that sole fact, reputed as barbarous, inhuman, and 
bestial. But reason says that even in Turkey there are 
some institutions which are excellent and worthy of 
imitation, though not, of course, all. 

" 7. The Niemtzy, maintaining that no one should 
be punished because of his religion, take their stand 
upon the Gospel, which says : 4 Judge not, that ye be 
not judged.' The Greeks avail themselves of another 
text : ' Let him that shall preach unto you that which 
you have not heard be excommunicated,' and they, 
deduce from this passage and others like it that 
we must set them apart and believe them without dis- 
cussion. But if reason counsels us to reject without re- 
examination the German heresies, and all others already 
condemned, when a fresh controversy, arises we must 
first of all become acquainted with it and properly 
examine it, and not condemn it without having informed 
ourselves of its nature. 

" 8. The Greeks flatter us and seek to gain our 
favour by means of fables, exaggerating the antiquity 
of the Russian State ; and in reality they disparage and 
insult it. They have called Moscow the third Rome 
and have imagined the ridiculous idea that the Russian 
State should be a Roman State, having a right to the 
insignia of the Empire. The Niemtzy calumniate us 


and seek by. all means to prove that the Russian State 
is only a simple principality, and that the Russian 
sovereigns are merely High Princes. Both Greeks and 
Niemtzy refuse to this State the name and rank of king- 
dom ; both agree in this imposture that the Roman 
State could not be a mere kingdom, but something* 
superior, and that Russia could not be its equal save 
by an investiture which would be conferred upon it by, 
the Roman State. But reason says that God alone can- 
create sovereigns, and not the Roman Emperor. , . . 
The Russian State is as great and as glorious as the 
Roman State, has never been subjected to the latter, and 
is equal to it in power. 

81 9. By all the foregoing we see plainly the danger 
and diversity of the temptations to which the Niemtzy 
and the Greeks expose us, while giving us, moreover, 
counsels which are diametrically opposed. In fact, the 
former want to contaminate us with their novelties,- 
while the latter condemn all novelties as a whole, and 
foist their aberrations upon us under cover of a false 
antiquity. The former sow heresies ; the latter, 
although they taught us the true religion, have mingled 
schism with it. The former offer us a mixture of the 
true and the diabolical sciences ; the latter glorify 
ignorance and regard all the sciences as heresies. The 
former cherish the vain hope of saving themselves by 
the word alone ; the others despise the spoken word 
and prefer complete speechlessness. The former, the 
partisans of every licence, draw us toward the broad 
road of destruction ; the others resort to pharisaical 
superstition and exaggerated devoutness, marking out 
for us a path even narrower than the true and difficult 
path of salvation. The former regard all institutions 
of the Turkish State as barbarous, tyrannical, and in- 
human ; the latter profess that everything about the 
Turkish State is good and praiseworthy. The former 
hold that we should judge no one ; the latter assert 
that we should condemn without hearing the defence. 
The former refuse to this State the honours which are 


its due ; the latter confer upon it Tumours which are 
fictitious, vain, absurd, and impossible. Thus, in dis- 
agreement upon almost every point, they are in perfect 
agreement to regard our people with equal hatred, ttij 
despise and belittle it and load it with the most dreadful 
calumnies and accusations." 

As we see, Krijanitsh, often regarded as the father of 
the Slavophile movement in Russia, was pretty severe 
upon " Byzantism," which is so highly esteemed by the 
Slavophiles. 1 It is especially significant that he opposes 
the theory, introduced into Russia in the fifteenth cen- 
tury by the Balkan Slavs, according to which Moscow 
should be " the third Rome," the heiress of the first two 
Romes (Rome and Byzantium). This theory had a 
great vogue in the Muscovite Court under Ivan III, whoj 
had married Sophia Palaeologus, niece of the Byzantine 
Emperor. It was essentially a conservative theory ; 
lest she share the fate of the first and the second Rome, 
Russia must change neither her habits nor her customs 
nor her institutions, for " the country, which changes 
these does not endure much longer." Krijanitsh held 
that Russia should turn aside from the conservative 
traditions of Byzantium as well as from the civilization 
of Western Europe and should follow her own path. 

He considered that Russia enjoyed many advantages 
over the West. The Russians, he says, lead a simpler 
life than the Europeans. In Russia the distance 
between the rich and the poor is not so great as in 
Europe, where on the one hand you find a ** Sar- 
danapalus " lapped in luxury, and on the other a! 
starving artisan who possesses nothing. M In Russia, 
thanks to God, everybody, the poorest as jvell as the 
richest, eats rye bread, fish, and meat," and lives in a 
well-warmed house, while in the &Vest the indigent suffer 
from the cold because " wood is sold for its weight in 

1 I refer the reader to the opinion of M. Bulgakov, one of the 
leaders of the modern Slavophiles, cited at the beginning of the 
present volume. 


gold." " Thus the life of the peasants and artisans is 
better in Russia than in many countries." 

In this connection a modern writer (G. Plekhanov) 
says that Krijanitsh paints the condition of the Great 
Russian people in too rosy a hue. " But there was truth 
in his picture. In countries in which a natural economy 
prevails, articles of prime necessity, such as bread and 
meat, are much more accessible to the people than in 
countries in which commercial exchanges are largely 
developed. We know to-day that the division of social 
labour in Western Europe has resulted in the im- 
poverishment of the laborious masses. There is thus 
undeniable truth in this antithesis between Muscovite 
Russia and the West. Krijanitsh is the first writer to 
make it. . . . This antithesis provided a sufficient and 
logical basis for the doubt: Is it not a sin against the 
people to favour the productive forces of the country? 
The question did not occur to Krijanitsh himself. But 
the Russian " intellectuals " of the nineteenth century, 
to whom the interests of the labouring masses were very 
dear, must have spent perhaps the greater portion of 
their energies in trying to solve this " accursed " ques- 
tion. In this respect the Serbo-Russian philosopher of 
the seventeenth century was the precursor of our 
contemporary narodniki. 

Krijanitsh recognized that the character and the 
life of the Russians presented many defects. For 
example, he very severely condemns M the hideous 
drunkenness " prevalent in Russia, the idleness and 
prodigality, the lack of education, etc. He admitted 
that Europeans were more civilized than the Russians, 
and he realized that a cultivated and educated people 
always exploits a more ignorant people. He even 
admitted the necessity of education and civilization, 
but he thought that the time had gone by for the 
Russians to M sit on the benches of the European 
school," and that they could now " expel the Niemtzy " 
and live without their aid. He demanded " the closing 
of the Russian frontiers." Yet, at the same time, when 


it came to giving the Russians practical advice, he again 
took Europe as his example, and looked to Europe for 
useful lessons. Showing the necessity of developing 
the economic forces of Russia, he proposed England and 
the Netherlands as examples. To the M bad legislation " 
of Russia he opposed that of France, " which was 

Krijanitsh was the determined opponent of Byzantine 
and Oriental despotism. He was in favour of an en- 
lightened monarchy, based upon the privileged classes, 
to which it should grant proper liberties. And again 
he referred to the experience of Europe: " Among the 
French and the Spaniards the great enjoy certain liber- 
ties which they owe to their birth, and thanks to which 
the kings are not exposed to any outrage from the 
people nor from the army. Among the Turks, on the 
other hand, where there are no liberties proper to the 
nobility, the sovereigns are exposed to, the stupidity and 
insolence of mere infantrymen." 

In the existence of privileges and liberties for the 
upper classes Krijanitsh saw a means of " changing 
a rigorous government or a tyranny into a moderate 
government." M. Milukov compares this system with 
that of the " intermediary powers " of Montesquieu, 
which was expounded a century later. 

This brief glimpse of the ideas of Krijanitsh shows 
that the first Russian " Slavophile " was by no means 
radically inimical to Europe, and that he sought lessons 
from the Western civilizations. If we are tempted to 
regard him as the first representative of nationalism in 
Russia, we must not forget that he was not of Russian 
origin, that he came from the West, and that he brought 
all these ideas from the West. 

We shall see later on that the Slavophiles of the 
nineteenth century, like Krijanitsh, borrowed from the 
thought of Europe. 


I The impossibility of a compromise between Muscovite Russia and 
European tendencies. II. The Russian Voltaireans — The "his- 
torical superfluities" — The opinions of Klutshevsky and Herzen 
on the Russian Voltaireans. III. Radish tshev and Novikov. 

The middle way, recommended by Krijanitsh was not 
followed, and Russia passed from one extreme to the other. 

In the middle of the seventeenth century the Euro- 
peans were within an ace of being expelled from Russia, 
as Krijanitsh recommended. The populace, excited by 
the priests and other representatives of Byzantine con- 
servatism, subjected them, in Moscow, to a regular 
pogrom. At the instance of the clergy the Govern- 
ment of the Tsar Mikhail F.edorovitch gave the order to 
demolish the three Lutheran churches which then existed 
in Moscow, prohibited the wearing of European costume 
by Russians, confined foreigners to a residential zone 
in Moscow, forbade them to employ Russian servants, 
and expelled the English merchants from all the towns 
excepting Archangel. 

But, as a Russian historian has remarked, " to expel 
the foreigners from Moscow, while it was impossible to 
do without them; was to make it compulsory to go to 
them, to their own countries, there to seek knowledge." 

Under Alexei Mikhailovitch the nationalist insurgency, 
came to an end. But this sovereign strove to maintain 
a certain equilibrium between the indigenous reaction 
and European progress. Russian historians represent 
him with one foot beyond the Western frontier and one 
planted on his native soil, ■" congealed In an attitude of 
indecision." , 



This state of affairs could not last long, for no co- 
existence, however brief, was possible to Byzantine con- 
servatism and " Europeanization." The history of the 
schism proves in a most striking fashion that the 
partisans of the old Russia rejected even the most 
necessary " novelties." The order given by the 
Patriarch Nikon, that the text of the book of ritual 
employed by the popes should be revised with refer- 
ence to the originals, because the errors which it 
contained were frequently of great importance and ex- 
tremely gross, was denounced as a " heresy " by the 
conservatives, who opposed it with all their might. 
From this arose the great schism of the Orthodox 
Church. To disturb nothing, to preserve everything 1 
as it had been for centuries : such was the watchword 
of militant nationalism. Its excesses explain those of 
the spirit of innovation which appeared in the reign of 
Peter I. The two conceptions were too violently 
opposed for any possibility of reconciliation. But the 
material force being on the side of authority, the oppo- 
sition could do nothing but submit, or leave a country 
invaded by European " heresies " and " novelties." 

In the first half of the seventeenth century the parti- 
sans of European influence had to seek refuge in the 
West from the persecutions of Byzantine conservatism. 
In the second half of the same century and the begin- 
ning of the next it was for the conservatives to fall under 
the blows of the " innovators," or, in their flight from 
Western " civilization," to escape into the immense 
forests of the Ural and the North, or the vast steppes 
of the South. 

But it must be admitted that in the reign of Peter I 
it was no battle of ideas which broke out between the 
old Russia and the new. The " Europeanization " 
undertaken by Peter I was material, and brutal in its 
practical materialism. Its immediate aim was, so to 
speak, the transformation of the external aspect of 
men and things, beginning with the long beards of the 
boyars and ending with the names of State institutions, 



and it coincided with the burden of conscription and 
taxation. For this reason it is very difficult to say 
whether the conservatives protested and fled en masse 
for spiritual reasons (as did Ordyn-Nashtshokin) or for 
reasons of temporal interest. 

In the second half of the eighteenth century, under 
Catherine II, the conflict between Russia and Europe 
was far more abstract, and was extremely interesting 
from the standpoint of the history of ideological 
evolution . f 


AVhile in the seventeenth century a Europeanized 
Russian was regarded by his contemporaries as a 
heretic, at the end of the eighteenth century he was 
known as a voltairianetz (Voltairean) or a farmazon 
(Freemason). The first term is especially characteristic, 
as it proves how great was the influence in Russia of 
French philosophy in general and of Voltaire's in 

But the Russian voltairianetz of the time of Catherine 
II was not merely an admirer of Voltaire, as many were 
in all European countries ; the Russian voltairianetz 
was a veritable social and historical type, and no student 
of the history of Russian culture can omit him from the 
scope of his inquiry. 

Many of our historians have dealt with the Russian 
voltairianstvo. But hitherto the best description of it — 
I would even say the one unique and truly classical 
description — is that of the poet-historian Klutshevsky. 
I profit by this description all the more readily as it 
is only to be found in the lithographed and extremely 
rare examples of the lectures which Klutshevsky 
delivered at the University of Moscow. 

Under Yelisaveta, the " merry Tsarina," the impetus 
which came from Europe was rather of an aesthetic 
quality : Russia took from Europe what was capable of 
embellishing life, in the purely material sense of the 
word. Under Catherine II the desire to adorn the mind 


was added to the desire to embellish the material aspect 
of life. In the reign of Yelisaveta society was fully 
prepared for the enjoyment of intellectual pleasures ; 
it had learned French and acquired a taste for belles- 
lettres. For the society of the day France had become 
the school of worldly elegance just at the moment when 
French literature was proclaiming new ideas in books 
which found an echo on every hand. The Russians, 
who were entirely ready to receive these new ideas, 
welcomed them with an avidity which was favoured by 
the Court. Even in Yelisaveta's reign the Court had 
established relations with the great French writers. 
Voltaire became an honorary member of the Russian 
Academy of Sciences, and was commissioned to write 
a history of Peter the Great. Catherine, in her youth, 
had been fascinated by the masterpieces of French 
literature ; once on the throne, she hastened to enter 
directly into communication with their authors. Carried 
away to some extent by the general tendency, Catherine 
was also obedient to diplomatic considerations: she 
sought to win the good graces of these masters of 
opinion, because she attached a great importance to the 
approval of Paris. Her correspondence with Voltaire is 
a proof of this. She wished to entrust d'Alembert with 
the education of the Crown Prince Paul, the heir to the 
Russian throne, and reproached him keenly and at 
length for his refusal. She extended her favours to 
Diderot : having learned that the editor of the Encyclo- 
pcedia was in want of money, she bought his library 
for £600 and entrusted the care of it to d'Alembert, 
paying him a salary of £40 a year. 

Fashionable Russian society shared the enthusiasm 
of the Empress. The Russian seigneurs engaged 
French tutors for their children. The republican La 
Harpe educated Catherine's grandson, the future 
Alexander I. Romme, the future Montagnard, did the 
same for Count Stroganov, the friend of Alexander. 
The sons of Count Soltykov were confided to the brother 
of Marat. 


The lesser nobility could not afford the luxury of such 
tutors, and contented itself with books. French works 
circulated freely and extensively throughout the Empire, 
finding their way to the remotest corners of the pro- 
vinces. To-day we can hardly realize the immense 
number of French volumes which were translated into 
Russian and offered for sale in the reign of 
Catherine II. A Ukrainian dvorianin, Vinsky, an 
officer of the Guard, mentions in his memoirs some 
very interesting details bearing on this point. During 
his residence in Petersburg he found all the best French 
authors in the houses of his friends, whether military 
or civilian. Shortly afterwards he was deported to 
Orenburg, for some such prank as was often committed 
in the Guard. In that remote town he began, as a 
distraction, the translation of French authors, his 
versions being circulated in manuscript. A few years 
later he had the pleasure of receiving several of his 
own manuscripts from Siberia, sent him as a curious 
" novelty." On the banks of the Volga, at Simbirsk, at 
Kazan, and elsewhere, French literature was known and 

Under its influence the relations between Russian 
society and Europe were modified. In the reign of 
Peter I the nobles used to go abroad to study the art 
of war or navigation. Then they did so to acquire 
le bon ton. In the reign of Catherine they went to 
France to salute the philosophers. Russians appeared 
from time to time among the guests of Voltaire at 
Ferney, and Catherine wrote to him that many of her 
officers were delighted with their visits to him. French- 
men who visited Petersburg at the end of Catherine's 
reign were equally delighted with the intellectual youth 
which they met there, some going so far as to declare it 
the most cultivated and "most philosophical" in Europe. 

The reign of French literature and philosophy was 
the last phase of intellectual and moral development 
traversed by Russian society after the death of Peter 1 . 
The fashionable gentleman, the artilleryman or naval 


officer of the time of Peter, a dandy under Yelisaveta, 
became, under Catherine, a " man of letters," a free- 
thinker, and a freemason or Voltairean. 

What has remained in Russia of this Western 
impress? To understand this we must recall the 
character of French Encyclopaedism. It was the first 
revolt against the order of things based upon Catholic 
and feudal tradition, to which it opposed a host of 
logical conceptions and systems. This was the 
philosophy which made the conquest of enlightened 
minds in Russia, where feudality, properly so called, 
and Catholicism did not exist. In France the Encyclo- 
paedic theories expressed the very real and concrete 
pretensions of the Third Estate, which aspired to apply 
them. The Russian sectaries, on the other hand, did 
not regard these theories as of any practical import- 
ance ; they regarded them only as dogmas, intended to 
remain in the domain of the absolute, not to control 
the relations between man and man ; as noble ideals, 
expressed in fine phrases, which gave one an air of 
distinction, which would help a man to emerge from 
the common ruck, but which must by no means be 
regarded as rules of actual conduct. Their sensibility 
and philanthropy were only verbal ; under this outer 
garment they kept intact their egoism, their hardness, 
and their old moral habits. 

Klutshevsky depicts for us a few types of these 
Russian " Encyclopaedists." A wealthy noble in the 
Government of Penza, Nikita Strouisky, conceived a 
passion for belles-lettres, and himself wrote verses, 
which he willingly read to his friends, allowing him- 
self to be so far carried away by the heat of declama- 
tion that he would sometimes pinch his auditors till 
the blood came. This gentleman was greatly interested 
also in jurisdiction, and instituted on his estates a 
tribunal in accordance with the latest teachings of 
European science, only retaining the old Russian method 
of torture. The celebrated Princess Dashkov was the 
most enlightened of all her contemporaries ; she was 


even appointed President of the Russian Academy of 
Sciences. At the age of fifteen or sixteen she con- 
ceived such a passion for French that she read the 
works of Beyle, Voltaire, and Rousseau until she con- 
tracted a nervous malady thereby. At the end of her 
brilliant career she lived in Moscow, in isolation, in 
which her true nature revealed itself. She received 
no one, was completely indifferent to the fate of her 
own children, beat her servants, and concentrated all 
her feelings and all her activities upon some rats which 
she had tamed. The death of her son caused her no 
grief ; but if any ill befell one of her rats she was 
stricken to the depths of her soul. To begin with 
Voltaire and to end with a tame rat — only the subjects 
of Catherine were capable of such eccentricities. 

What was really the condition of the nobility to which 
all these " Voltaireans " belonged? It lived by political 
injustice and in a state of social inaction. From the 
hands of a diatshok ■ (precentor) the Russian noble 
passed into those of a French tutor ; he completed 
his education in the Italian theatre or the French 
cabaret, applying the ideas thus acquired in the salons 
of the capital, and ending his days in his study, in 
Moscow or on his country estates, employing his time 
in reading Voltaire. His manners, his habits, his ideas, 
the sentiments which he had made his own, and the 
very language in which he thought, all were of foreign 
origin, all were imported from Europe. No living tie, 
no organic function, united him to the population which 
surrounded him ; he did no serious work, despite his 
share in the local administration, where he was sub- 
ordinated to the governors, and the exploitation of his 
estates, which was based upon the labour of serfs. 
He was a useless member of society. A historical 
superfluity — such is the phrase which Klutshevsky 
applies to the species. 

This verdict, which is that of our foremost historian, 

1 The precentors or lay clerks gave primary instruction in those 
days, and even now they teach in the "parish schools." 


may be compared with that of Herzen, our foremost 
political writer, who in his youth had many opportuni- 
ties of observing the survivors of Russian voltairianstvo. 

" The eighteenth century produced in the West," 
he says, " a wonderful generation, especially in France, 
which possessed all the weaknesses of the Regency 
and all the energies of Rome or Sparta. These 
prodigies, Faublas and Regulus combined, flung open 
the door of the Revolution, and were the first to rush 
through it, pushing their way in, only to leave by 
the ' window ' of the guillotine. Our century produces 
no more of these vigorous and homogeneous natures ; 
the last century, on the contrary, evoked them almost 
everywhere, even where they were superfluous, where 
they could develop only by an anomaly. In Russia, 
those upon whom the great Western wind had blown 
became not great historical figures, but ' originals.' 
Foreigners in their own country, foreigners abroad, 
passive spectators, spoiled for Russian life by their 
Western prejudices, and for the West by their Russian 
habits, they appeared as an intelligent superfluity, astray 
in an artificial life." * 

Although they agree as to the external type of the 
Russian voltairiantzy ', Klutshevsky and Herzen do not 
see eye to eye as regards the mind concealed by this 
outward aspect. Klutshevsky states that these amateurs 
did not suffer from the opposition between their ideals 
and the surrounding realities ; that they did not even 
feel it ; that they were cheerful and had nothing to 
say against the existing order of things. Books 
embellished their minds, gave them a certain brilliance, 
and sometimes even provided them with a nervous thrill. 
But there the influence of French ideas stopped short ; 
it did not impel them to form any decision or to take 
action of any kind. It gave a charm to their lives, 
leaving them indifferent to the lives of others. 

Herzen gives a different picture of these Voltaireans. 
He speaks of " their malicious raillery, irritability, re- 
* A. Herzen, (Euvres, vol. vi. p. 99 (Geneva-Lyons, 1878). 


moteness from humanity, suspicion, and rancour, a 
result of the clash between things so different as the 
Europe of the eighteenth century and the life of Russia." 

However, Klutshevsky did recognize individual cases 
in which the incompatibility between the ideals of the 
West and the realities of Russia gave rise to great 
suffering, and even to despair. A tragic example of 
this despair is afforded by one Opotshinin, a seigneur 
of the Government of Yaroslavl, who, as a result of 
his European education, found it impossible to resign 
himself to the condition of affairs in Russia, and finally, 
in 1793, took his own life. In his will he explains 
that " his repugnance for Russian life is precisely that 
which constrained him spontaneously to decide his fate." 
He then spoke of his library : — 

"My beloved books, I do not know to whom I 
should leave them ; I am sure that no one in this 
country has need of them ; I humbly beg my heirs 
to burn them. They were my greatest treasure ; they 
alone sustained me in life ; without them my life would 
have been nothing but a perpetual regret, and I should 
long ago have left this world in disgust." 

A few minutes before his death Opotshinin had the 
courage to begin the translation of those verses of 
Voltaire's which begin — 

O Dieu, que nous ne connaissons pas ..." 


What Opotshinin understood of his own accord the 
Government enabled other voltairiantzy and farmazony 
to realize. 

We know what a sudden change was produced in 
Catherine II, toward the end of her life, by the French 
Revolution. From the admirer of the Encyclopaedists 
she became the enemy of all liberal ideas, and she 
hunted everywhere for signs of the " French contagion," 
in order to exterminate it pitilessly. Voltaire's bust, 

' Klutshevsky, Lectures on Russian History. Lithographic edition of 
lectures delivered at the University of Moscow, Part IV, pp. 264 et seq, 


which used to adorn her study, was, by her orders, 
relegated to the lumber-room. 

Two remarkable Russian writers fell as victims to 
this reaction. They were Radishtshev and Novikov. 
Both were true zapadniks, but they represented very 
different tendencies. 

Alexander Radishtshev (i 749-1 802), the author of 
" the work which suffered greatly," the Journey from 
Petersburg to Moscow, was in 1766 sent by the Govern- 
ment, in company with other young men, to the Univer- 
sity of Leipzig. There he attended the lectures of 
Professors Gellert and Platner. But he preferred 
French philosophy to German science, and read Voltaire, 
Helv^tius, Raynal, Mably, etc. Under their inspira- 
tion, to which we must add that of Rousseau and the 
English sentimentalists (and of Sterne in particular), 
he wrote his famous book. His Journey is full of 
rationalistic ideas, such as were preached by the 
Encyclopaedists, concerning the rights of the man and 
the citizen. M Man is born into the world equal in 
all things to other men. We all possess the same 
organs ; we all possess reason and will. . . . We are 
all equal, from the time we leave the maternal womb, 
in natural liberty ; we must be equals, too, in the 
face of the restrictions which are imposed upon this 
liberty." Russian society, in which we do not find 
the slightest trace of the liberty and equality de- 
manded by Radishtshev, he condemned implacably. 
Catherine II, now a reactionary, could not tolerate 
this courageous criticism, and although the Journey 
from Petersburg to Moscow had been published with 
the authorization of the censor, the Empress found 
that " the intention of this book is visible on every 
page ; its author is filled and infected with French 
error ; he seeks in every way and by every means 
to diminish the respect due to authority and the power 
of the State, and to incite in people a feeling of indig- 
nation against masters and rulers." Catherine gave 
orders that legal proceedings should be instituted 


against Radishtshev, and entrusted the examination to 
the cruel police-officer Sheshkovsky, who put his victim 
to the torture in order to extort the confession of his 
errors and to induce penitence. Radishtshev could not 
bear the torture ; he retracted, declaring his book to 
be "unreasonable and harmful." He was then con- 
demned to death for his writings, but the capital 
sentence was commuted for one of perpetual deporta- 
tion to Siberia, whither he was sent in chains. Paul I 
restored him to liberty, and after the accession of 
Alexander I he even became an official. But his 
adversaries would not leave him in peace ; and in 
1802, fearing fresh persecutions, he poisoned himself. 
In his person a fervent and sincere partisan of European 
civilization succumbed to the resistance of the old 

Nicolas Novikov (1744-18 18) was no more fortu- 
nate. He, too, may be regarded as a zapadnik, 
but of another school. He was a pupil of the 
German freemasons and pietists. German pietism was 
diametrically opposed to the rationalism of the French 
Encyclopaedists ; its sole aim was the moral renewal 
of man. This doctrine attracted Novikov, who found 
himself under the immediate influence of the German 
freemasons, and of a certain Schwarz in particular. 
But he was not one of those masons who admit only 
of mystical means of human " perfection." On the 
contrary, he united to his mysticism a great and sincere 
love of science and an enthusiasm for public instruc- 
tion. He founded printing-presses, learned societies 
and schools ; published school textbooks and other 
volumes, reviews, etc. He was, moreover, a philan- 
thropist, and in 1787, during the famine, he came to 
the aid of the peasants. This beneficent activity was 
enough to arouse the suspicions of Catherine. She 
instructed an ecclesiastical inquisitor, the Muscovite 
Archbishop Piaton, to examine the publications of 
Novikov and to " test " his religious convictions. 
Piaton declared that a portion of the books published 


by Novikov was useful and filled a gap in the exist- 
ing scholastic publications ; another portion (the 
mystical volumes) appeared to him incomprehen- 
sible ; a third portion, consisting of the writings of 
the Encyclopaedists, he considered to be harmful. As 
for Novikov's religious opinions, Platon spoke of them 
in the following terms : — 

M I pray the most generous God that there may be, 
not only amid the garrulous flock confided to me by 
Him and by thee, most gracious sovereign, but all 
over the world, such Christians as Novikov." 

Thanks to these attestations, Novikov was left at 
liberty, but not for long. Catherine always regarded 
him as a manifestation of the " French contagion," as 
she had regarded Radishtshev. 

In 1 79 1 Novikov saw that it was expedient to close 
his printing establishments, to cease publication or pro- 
paganda of any kind, and to retire to his country 
estate. This voluntary isolation did not save him ; 
in April 1792 a detachment of hussars was sent to 
his house, in order to make a search and arrest him;. 
Dragged away amid the tears of his peasants, who loved 
him greatly (which was unusual), he was transported 
first to Moscow, then to the fortress of Schlusselberg. 
There the above-mentioned Sheshkovsky " attended " 
to Novikov. ... In August 1792 Catherine issued a 
ukase in which she declared that Novikov deserved a 
44 pitiless punishment for his crimes " (of which the 
ukase said never a word), but that the death penalty 
would be commuted for fifteen years' imprisonment 
in a fortress. 

The injustice committed in respect of Novikov was 
so obvious that, according to a witness worthy of 
credence, Paul I, having liberated him in 1796, after 
his accession, was said to have asked pardon for his 
dead mother, and even to have knelt before him. 

Si non e vero. . . . 

Four years' captivity in a fortress cost Novikov dear. 
He emerged aged and infirm, and incapable of further 


I. The nationalist reaction under Catherine II and Alexander I — 
Shtsherbatov and Karamzin — The Russian reactionaries and the 
French Revolution — The royalist tmigrh. II. The positive in- 
fluence of the ideals of the French Revolution — Some opinions. 

The story of Novikov proves yet again that Russia 
opposed almost insuperable obstacles to the diffusion 
of Western ideas, even of the most moderate nature. 
Moreover, in addition to persecuting them by means 
of the police, the reactionaries endeavoured to attack 
them in their essentials, and to deny that their adoption 
could be in any way useful. A volume written by 
Prince Mikhail Shtsherbatov, The Depravation of 
Morals in Russia, is a memorial of this conservative 
prohibition. Shtsherbatov considered that Peter I had 
gone too far and too swiftly along the path of reform, 
and that the " changes " introduced by him were " ex- 
cessive." According to Shtsherbatov, Peter I wanted to 
obtain in a few years such results as might have been 
obtained in the course of normal and natural evolution 
at the end of " three generations." The sudden and 
forcible transformation of the old Russia into a 
European State was an evil, and resulted in the 
depreciation of Russian manners. 

But there were traces of the European spirit even 
in this champion of conservatism. His historical con- 
ceptions came from the West ; his theory of the 
" science of causes " was borrowed from Hume ; and 
he owed something to Rousseau and to freemasonry. 

Shtsherbatov's ideas had their effect upon Karamzin. 



This '* Europeanizer " of the Russian language was 
at the same time one of the chief leaders of the 
political and intellectual conservative nationalists. He 
wrote a great History of the Russian State, of which 
Pushkin said, in a biting epigram : — 

The grace and simplicity of his history 
Demonstrate for us with impartiality 
The necessity of autocracy 
And the beauties of the knout. 

Karamzin expounded his ideas in a memoir On the 
Old and the New Russia, which he presented to 
Alexander I. Like Shtsherbatov and all the other 
partisans of the old Russia, he condemned, in this 
memoir, the reforms of Peter I, and protested against 
his work of " Europeanization." But his especial 
antipathy was the " liberalism " born of the French 

Karamzin was in Paris during the Revolution, but 
he understood nothing of it, and was not even very 
greatly interested in it. It is enough to say that in 
his Letters of a Russian Traveller he describes (in 
1790 !) the gardens and the works of art to be seen 
in Paris, but scarcely remarks upon the fact that the 
city was in a state of effervescence. However, having 
been to see the National Assembly, he decided with 
regret that M its sittings were devoid of all pomp or 
grandeur." This indifference was replaced, toward the 
end of his life, by hatred of everything connected with 
the Revolution, and, as happened to many others, this 
hatred was extended to the West in general. A fervent 
zapadnik in his youth, he became one of the heralds 
of absolute nationalism. 

This complete change of face was to be observed in 
other Russian thinkers, some of whom were anterior to 
Karamzin. We know what an effect the French Revolu- 
tion produced in Russia. But its effect in the domain 
of ideas — of which effect Karamzin affords us only a 
poor example— was far more extensive, indeed almost 


incalculable. Some of its results were immediate, while 
others were more general and more remote. 

At first the Revolution could affect only the upper 
classes. The masses of the people knew nothing about 
it. By the Russian aristocracy it was accepted almost 
as it was accepted by the French aristocracy. Some 
of them applauded it. Count Paul Stroganov, among 
others, who was in Paris at the beginning of the 
Revolution, was present at the sessions of the National 
Assembly, and posed as a true Jacobin, declaring that 
" the happiest day in his life would be that on which 
he should see a similar revolution in Russia." In 
Petersburg the fall of the Bastille was celebrated ; 
Grand Dukes declared themselves the partisans of the 
Republic. But this enthusiasm did not last. 

Catherine II was the first to understand that the intro- 
duction of the principles and procedures of the French 
Revolution would be dangerous to the monarchy and its 
nobility, and she began to oppose them, taking no 
pains to restrain the expression of the anger with which 
she regarded the " hydra with twelve hundred heads " 
(the National Assembly), the " monster who sought 
to be king " (Egalit6), and the M asses of liberty " 
(the members of the National Assembly). In 1780 
Catherine said, with pride : M In my country every 
one is free to speak his mind." After the fall of the 
monarchy in France she suppressed the toleration 
hitherto enjoyed by the freethinkers and French 
philosophers whom she had so greatly admired, and 
asserted that " in publishing the Encyclopedia Diderot 
and d'Alembert had two objects : firstly, the destruc- 
tion of Christianity ; secondly, the destruction of 
monarchies." She ordered Russians resident in France 
to leave that impious country without delay, expelled 
the French residing in Russia, and prohibited, firstly, 
the sale of the Encyclopedia, and then that of any 
French book. This prohibition became even more 
stringent under Paul I. After the brief phase of 
liberalism under Alexander I it was revived and ex- 


tended by the Government of Nicolas I ; not only 
French books, but all foreign books whatsoever were 
proscribed. A strict censorship was instituted for all 
books imported into the country, and this system is 
still in force to-day : a foreign publication cannot enter 
Russia until it has passed the " Central Committee 
of the Foreign Censorship." 

As for the interdict placed upon the residence of 
French subjects in Russia, this was abolished soon 
afterwards in favour of the emigres, who were well 
received by the Russian aristocrats and reactionaries, 
and by the Government also, some being even 
appointed to administrative posts. 

With the Royalists and Jesuits, for they too were 
readily welcomed, the Catholic propaganda made its 
way into Russia. During the early years of the nine- 
teenth century numbers of Russians became Catholics, 
which induced Joseph de Maistre to remark " that the 
adhesion of the mind to the Catholic faith is a very 
speedy matter in Russia, and the conversions to 
Catholicism are remarkable, as much for the number of 
persons converted as for the worldly position which 
they occupy." 

The majority of these " conversions " were only 
ephemeral, and were due to a desire to be in the 
fashion, as a contemporary assures us, many persons 
(especially women) having been converted merely by 
following the prevailing current, and returning to the 
bosom of the Orthodox Church as soon as it ebbed. In 
1 82 1 the Jesuits were expelled, and the Catholic 
proselytism exercised by the emigres came to an end. 

However, this proselytism left traces — not extensive, 
but profound — in the heart of Russian society ; and 
from time to time extremely interesting cases of con- 
version to Catholicism occurred, notably that of 

But before speaking of Tshaadaev I must say some- 
thing more of the positive effect of the French Revo- 



I have already explained to my readers the immediate 
effects of the Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars 
upon the political movement then developing in Russia. 
But the ideological influence of the French Revolution 
exceeded the limits of these immediate effects, and has 
survived until our own days. 

Even to-day in Russia the great Revolution of 1789 
is for some an object of hatred, for others an object 
of admiration. One may say that the attitude which 
this or that Russian politician assumes toward the revo- 
lutionary past of France, and his manner of appreci- 
ating it, will in a very great measure enable us to 
estimate his own opinions. In my Russia and the 
Great War I have cited the declaration made from the 
tribune of the late Duma (1909) by the deputy Markov, 
leader of the Right, to the effect that " the French 
Revolution is the most odious and contemptible act 
of modern history," and that " the Republic means 
the reign of male and female prostitutes." This is 
not merely the personal opinion of Markov himself ; 
it is that of all the Russian reactionaries, some of whom 
go to such lengths in their hatred of republican France, 
the home of the Revolution, that even during the present 
war they have expressed a desire that France should 
be crushed by Germany, the home of monarchy and 

The Russian democrats, on the contrary, love France 
precisely because she is the incarnation of revolutionary 
tradition. A true cult for the French Revolution exists 
among the democratic elements in Russia. Even as a 
schoolboy the young Russian indulges in this cult, 
although the conservatives do their best to inspire him 
with aversion for the traditions of 1789. I have before 
me the Memoirs of a Russian lady, in which she de- 
scribes the impressions received during a course of 
lectures on French history which were delivered by 
one of the professors of the Moscow girls' school at 
which she was a pupil. 


"... To-day our professor began to tell us about 
the French Revolution. After drawing the general out- 
lines of the condition of France and the mentality of 
the French on the eve of the Revolution, he described 
the men of the Revolution. He began with Mirabeau. 
My God, what a wonderful man was this Mirabeau ! 
... It was a beautiful day of spring when Mirabeau 
quitted this life. He gave orders for the window to 
be opened. The sound of the bells entered his room. 
And in the street the urchins were crying : ' Treachery 
of Count Mirabeau ! ' . . . Oh, why, why did he end 
like that? Great men should make a different ending ! 
. . . After Mirabeau, Marat. His severity frightens 
me. Everything about Marat is powerful and dis- 
tressing. Perhaps I am too small to understand him, 
but he gives me the impression of a stupendous force, 
which is to be dreaded ! . . . Then the Girondins ! 
Madame Roland ! What energy, what determination, 
what love for her country, what enthusiasm, what faith 
she displays ! How proud she is at the moment of 
death 1 . . . Vergniaud, that brilliant orator 1 And 
Camille Desmoulins I On the eve of execution, in 
prison, they gather together, they sing hymns to liberty. 
Camille Desmoulins holds in his hand a rose which his 
wife has sent him. On the following day, ascending 
the scaffold, he speaks to his wife. . . . Ma chirie! 
... A few days later his wife, Lucile, stood calmly 
before the guillotine awaiting death. 

" I cried while the professor was telling us this. 
Thanks, thanks, my worthy professor ! You under- 
stood so well how to stir and awaken what was sleep- 
ing in the depths of my soul. Thanks ! I know 
now what is the real meaning of life ! 

"... When Danton was advised to escape, he re- 
plied proudly : ' Can I carry my country with me on 
the soles of my shoes? " And he remained. Then, the 
execution. He is taken to the Place. He stands before 
the guillotine. He speaks to the executioner : ' You 
will show my head to the people — it is worth seeing I * 



" This is real life ! These are men ! My God, 
how I envy them ! What am I saying? I do not 
envy them, I quiver with admiration for them, for 
the wife of Dcsmoulins. If I had been in her place 
should I not have gone to my death as courageously, 
following the example of my husband, as she did ! Oh, 
surely, surely, I should have gone joyfully to my death ! 

" I don't remember the moment when the class broke 
up. ... I rushed up to the professor and begged 
him to tell me of books on the Revolution. He told 
me of some. . . . Directly the classes were over I ran 
home, and then, without delay, to the library." 

This extract from a private and personal diary enables 
us to understand better than a long description just 
what the young Russian feels about the events and the 
men of the French Revolution. 

The history of the Revolution has become, in Russia, 
the object of a profound scientific investigation ; and 
we find the names of Russian scholars among the most 
eminent students of the period. 

On the other hand, the ideals of the Revolution, 
and even its phraseology, have found their way into 
the programmes and the practices of our political 
parties. For example, among the demands of all the 
parties of the extreme Left we find that of the con- 
vocation of a Constituent Assembly. The idea of the 
confiscation of the landed property of the great seigneurs 
for the benefit of the peasants, which forms part of 
the programme of these parties, is another inheritance 
from the Revolution. One of the favourite songs of 
the Russian workers is a " Labour Marseillaise" that 
is, a Russian socialist hymn sung to the air of the 
French Marseillaise. 

The tradition of the French Revolution survives and 
finds an echo even in the debates of the Russian Duma, 
when Mirabeau or Robespierre is quoted, or the epithet 
of " Jacobin " is hurled from one bench to another, 
or the Tsar's Ministers are reminded of the fate of 
Louis XVI. 


iWe may therefore say with Dr. Sarolea, the author 
of The French Revolution and the Russian Revolution, 
and with M. Haumant, that the French Revolution, for 
the Russians, " is not a thing of the dead past, already, 
remote, but a living actuality." 

The love and admiration which the Russian democrats 
feel for France, as the home of the Revolution, explains 
the amazement with which they sometimes, indeed 
frequently, observe the indifference displayed by middle- 
class French society as regards the internal political 
situation in Russia. To be sure, we cannot say that the 
French bourgeoisie has displayed any sympathy for the 
Russian reaction ; but it is perhaps too tolerant of it. 
I can very well understand that the possibility of 
German aggression and the necessity of maintaining 
the Franco-Russian alliance has obliged France to be 
sparing of her criticism of her ally's policy. Still, 
as I demonstrated in my Russia and the Great War, 
this policy was harmful, even in its effects upon our 
military strength. 

On the other hand, the reserve displayed by French 
society in the matter of M Russian affairs " is explained 
by the fact that France is our creditor. A creditor, 
in general, thinks only of the payment of interest and 
the repayment of the principal of his loan ; the methods 
by which his debtor acquits himself do not greatly 
concern him. 

What does principally concern the creditor is the 
advantages of his investment. Nothing else matters 
greatly. Hence, for anything but his money, an in- 
difference which often amounts to cruelty. Moreover, 
the French capitalists acquire Russian stock by the 
offices of the Russian Government, behind which they 
fail to perceive the Russian people. But a people and 
its government are not necessarily the same thing. 
There are moments when a government has need of 
money in order to stifle the just revolt of its people, 
and a people does not consider that it owes a debt of 
gratitude to those who lend money to its oppressor. 


For example, by subscribing to the loan of 1906 re- 
publican France prevented the fall of the Tsarist auto- 
cracy. Has she any right to feel indignant because 
the Russian democrats, against whom she sided, allowed 
her to perceive their profound amazement and their 
bitter disappointment, even if these were expressed with 
violence and scant politeness, as in Maxim Gorky's 
letter " to beautiful France," whose hand, he said, " had 
closed the path of liberty to a whole people "? 

M. Emile Haumant, professor in the Sorbonne, in 
his interesting work on French culture in Russia, ex- 
plains the resentment which is often displayed by the 
Russian democrats by the ideal which they have formed 
of the duty of France ; they look to her, he says, for 
a " perpetual repetition of the revolutionary gesture." 

11 For them we are the dancing dervishes of the 
Revolution ! " he says. " Turn, turn, turn for ever I " ' 

M. Haumant is mistaken. The Russian democrats 
reproach France not with refusing to continue the Revo- 
lution, but for the aid which they lent the dancing 
dervishes of the counter-revolution. 

" iWhatever we do, we shall always shock those 
idealists who consider that our past condemns us to the 
indefinite repetition of the same gesture," says M. 
Haumant. But I think M. Haumant himself under- 
stands that the past does involve an obligation, and 
that the Russian democrats have the right regretfully 
to compare the doings of the Frenchmen of the Revo- 
lution, who carried liberty into foreign lands on the 
points of their bayonets and overturned thrones, with 
the action of their descendants, who often bestow money 
and security upon autocrats. But in spite of all, there 
is, in the democratic circles of Russia, a vast and in- 
exhaustible store of sympathy for France. Her intel- 
lectual influence in Russia is enormous. Even Gorky, 
who " spat blood and gall " into the face of France, 
is, like all his political co-religionists, a great admirer 
of the French people, of the history of France, so full 
* Haumant, La Culture franfaisc en Russie, p. 431. 


of heroic deeds, and of her noble literature. Interviewed 
by a contributor to Le Temps in 1910, Gorky 
*' assured him that he never ceased to advise Russian 
writers to read the French writers, and again the French 
writers, always the French writers." 

The affection of the Russian democracy for France 
and her heroic traditions has survived even the most 
painful tests, not the least of which was the war of 
1870. A well-known Russian critic, M. Kranichfeld, 
has recently described the aspect of Russian society 
during this war, and this is what he says : — 

" The war between France and Prussia was of 
absorbing interest to the more cultivated minds of 
Russia. ' It introduced hatred and discord into our 
life,' said a great Russian review, Otetshestvennyia 
Zapiski {Annals of the Fatherland), which appears in 
Petersburg and enjoys a great authority. ' The father 
took arms against the son, brother against brother, 
husband against wife, and all this because some 
sympathized with France and desired her to win, while 
others sympathized with Prussia, and hoped for a 
Prussian victory.' 

" ' The majority of notable Russians,' says the same 
review, 4 are on the side of Prussia. As for the defence 
of France, that has been undertaken by the small fry.' " 

Another writer of the same period (M. Nikitenko) 
states in his memoirs : — 

" In the upper circles the sympathy is for Prussia, 
while throughout the people there is an equally powerful 
hostility toward them." 

But it is in the work of our great satiric writer, 
Mikhail Soltykov (unhappily unknown abroad), that the 
love of France finds its most inspired expression : — 

" Poor France ! " he wrote in 1870. " Once again 
you become the expiatory victim 1 The world regarded 
you as a flame which rekindled the life of humanity, 
and now any native of Mecklenburg-Strelitz can with- 
out restraint describe you as a collection of imbeciles. 
Let him be, this native of Mecklenburg-Strelitz 1 He 


has taken from you all that he lacked. At the end of 
the eighteenth century you gaive him the desire for 
liberty ; in 1848 you gave him the desire to establish 
4 the great Fatherland.' Nevertheless, you are guilty. 
You are guilty because you were not able to create 
'order.' . . . While you were creating liberty the 
Mecklenburg-Strelitzer, Jiaving no need to create that 
which already existed, thanks to you, preferred ' a 
certain narrowness rather than a breadth of principle.' 
Under protection of your political and social convul- 
sions, he secretly examined the problem, far more 
accessible to his intelligence, of the alliance between 
dishonesty and imposture on the one hand, and 
patriotism on the other, and it must be admitted that 
he has solved it in a fairly satisfactory manner (without 
exceeding the mean, which is so familiar to him). . . 

" Yes, you are guilty, France ! Pursuing aims of 
world-wide scope, you have forgotten the existence of 
millions of little domestic details, whose accomplish- 
ment assures life against usurpations, and forgetful- 
ness of which may condemn even the best intentions 
to annihilation. The Mecklenbergers, the Hessians, 
the Hohenzollerns have understood this better than you, 
although, on the other hand, they have not, perhaps, 
sufficiently understood that at times, no matter what 
care may be given to the petty details, the house may 
be built upon the sand, if the general ideas which you 
proclaim have not been used as foundations. 

" A native of Meiningen, in his paltriness, does not 
work out the smallest idea except for his own ex- 
clusive use. A dummkopf, on the contrary, casts even 
the grandest ideas before poor minds. . . . The Gallic 
cock knows how to raise a principle to its true height." 

Soltykov was a radical and freethinker. Here is the 
opinion of the great Russian philosopher, V. Soloviev. 
A Christian, and an enemy, in principle, of the method*.' 
of the Revolution, he yet considered that the French 
Revolution, and the whole history of France in general, 
were of universal significance : — 


" The period of the great Revolution and the 
Napoleonic wars," writes Soloviev in one of his works 
{The Justification of Good: Moral Philosophy), "is, if 
not on account of its content, at least on account of 
the internal tension of popular life and the amplitude 
of external action, the culminating point of the national 
development of France; it was then that this country 
best expressed her universal importance. Of course, 
the rights of the man and the citizen were half 
imaginary ; and the revolutionary trinity — liberty, 
equality, fraternity — was realized in a sufficiently curious 
manner. In any case, the enthusiasm of this people 
for these universal ideas shows plainly enough that it 
was a stranger to any form of narrow nationalism. . . . 
Apart from this period, France has always been dis- 
tinguished by her universal intelligence and her com- 
municative character ; she is acquainted with, and is 
anxious to assimilate, the ideas of others, to give them 
a completed form, and then to give them to the world. 
This peculiar quality, which' makes the history of France 
a brilliant and lucid summary of European history, 
is so conspicuous, and has so often been remarked, 
that there is no need to insist upon it." l 

If from the Christian and anti-revolutionary philo- 
sopher we turn to the atheist and anarchist, Prince 
Kropotkin, we find in him the same opinion as to the 
universal character of the great Revolution. 

" The work of the French Revolution," writes Prince 
Kropotkin in his work on this subject, " is not con- 
fined merely to that which it obtained and that which 
it maintained in France ; it extends also to the 
principles which it bequeathed to the following century, 
to the landmark which it planted for the future. . . . 
Whatever nation may to-day enter upon the path of 
revolution, it will inherit that which our ancestors per- 
.jrmed in France. The blood which they shed was 
shed for humanity. The sufferings which they endured 

* J. B. Scverac, Vladimir Soloviev. Introduction ct choix dc lextes, 
French ed., p. 144. 


they bore for the whole of humanity. Their struggles, 
and the ideas which they put forward, and the clash 
of these ideas — all this is the inheritance of humanity." » 
Thus, when the Russian democrats adopt the ideals 
of the French Revolution, they make common cause with 
humanity itself. 

1 P. Kropotkin, La Grande Revolution, Paris, 1909. 


I. Catholic influence in Russia — Tshaadaev and his philosoph y of 
history. II. Vladimir Soloviev and the ideal of the Universal 


Tshaadaev reminds us slightly of Khovrostinin, for 
he, too, was a zapadnik with a Catholic shell, though 
this was far thicker than Khbvrostinin's . The latter 
had only a veneer of Catholicism ; he used his religion 
merely as a standpoint for his criticism's of the old 
Russia, while Tshaadaev was steeped in Catholicism. 

Born in 1794, Piotr Tshaadaev received a brilliant 
education in an aristocratic environment. He studied 
at the University of Moscow. Then he took part, as 
an officer of the Guard, in the war against Napoleon. 
He lived in Petersburg until 1821, enjoying the reputa- 
tion of a philosopher. We find him among the future 
Decembrists. In 1821 he left the Guard and the salons 
of Petersburg and passed two years in solitude. Jn 
1823 he went abroad, and while suffering from a 
nervous malady he became influenced by the mystic 
Jung-Stilling. He had prepared himself for this 
influence by the reading of the works of the French 
Catholic writers — Joseph de Maistre and Chateaubriand. 
In 1826 he returned to Russia, where, after the failure 
of the Decembrist movement, the reaction triumphed 
" in the atmosphere of the gallows." Again he retired 
from the world, passing four years as an anchorite. In 
1830 he returned to the intellectual world, taking part 
in the debates of the literary and philosophical societies 
of Moscow, where two great movements were in process 


of formation : the Slavophile movement and Occi- 
dentalism. He was more in sympathy with this last 
movement, but his own Occidentalist ideas were based 
upon Catholicism, while other zapadniki based them- 
selves upon the idealistic philosophy of Germany or 
the Utopian socialism of France. Tshaadaev expounded 
his opinions in his Philosophical Letters. 

The first of these Letters appeared in 1836, in a 
Muscovite review, and produced an echo, according 
to Herzen's expression, " like that of a gunshot in 
a dark night," provoking quite a tempest of indignation 
in official and " right-thinking " circles. It was an 
indictment of the old Russia, and an ardent hymn of 
praise to the glory of Western civilization, the highest 
manifestation of which, in Tshaadaev's eyes, was 
Catholicism. Of course, a " Russian patriot of German 
origin " appeared (a certain Viguel), who did not 
scruple to denounce Tshaadaev as suspect of subversive 
ideas. Another " Russian " patriot of like origin, Count 
von Benckendorf, chief of the gendarmerie (the political 
police), undertook to look into the matter, and having 
examined the culprit's Philosophical Letter (of which, 
no doubt, he did not understand very much), he dis- 
covered it to be written with criminal intent. 

Nicolas I, at von Benckendorf's suggestion, gave 
the order that Tshaadaev should be officially declared 
insane, and should be confined to his house, where he 
was to be under police and medical supervision. After 
a year of this supervision a new decision of the 
Emperor forbade Tshaadaev to write. 

Despite this absurd prohibition, Tshaadaev did not 
cease writing ; he even published a remarkable Apology 
of a Madman, in which he defended himself against 
the attacks of his adversaries, and against " those whose 
cries had unsettled his quiet life, and had once more 
launched upon the ocean of human wretchedness his 
ship, which had grounded at the foot of the Cross." 
But the persecution to which the Government subjected 
him made it impossible for him to live and write in 


tranquillity, and hampered the expression of his ideas. 
This is why this great thinker was unable to give to his 
country and to the world all that he might have given 
under other conditions. 

However, what we have of Tshaadaev's is of the 
highest interest, as it is the first noteworthy attempt 
to construct a philosophy of Russian history against a 
background of international history. 

.What is this philosophy? 

Its principal point, its basis, consists of the statement 
of Russia's moral and spiritual isolation in the world. 

"It is one of the most deplorable features of our 
singular civilization that those truths which elsewhere 
are among the most trivial, even in peoples far less 
advanced than ourselves in some respects, have yet 
to be discovered by us. This is because we have 
never gone forward with the other peoples ; we belong 
to none of the great families of the human species ; 
we are neither of the West nor of the East, and we 
have the traditions of neither. Situated, as it were, 
outside the times, the universal education of the human 
species has passed us by." l 

Comparing the history of Russia with that of the other 
nations, Tshaadaev found that the difference was not to 
the credit of his own country. There is, he said, fox 
every nation a time of violent upheaval, of passionate 
restlessness, an age of intense emotions and great under- 
takings, when the nations bestir themselves impetuously, 
with no apparent motive, but not without advantage to 
posterity. All societies have passed through these 
periods. But " we Russians have gone through nothing 
of the kind. First a brutal barbarism, then a period of 
gross superstition ; then a foreign domination, ferocious 
and debasing, the spirit of which was later on inherited 
by the national power ; . . . a dull, gloomy existence, 
without vigour, without energy . . . there is the 
mournful history of our youth." 

* (Euvres choisies de Pierre Tshaadaev (Paris, 1862), pp. 14-15 
(French ed.). 


Unlike the Russian Slavophiles, Tshaadaev denied 
that the past of Russia possessed any value, or any- 
moral or educative significance. 

" Glance down the centuries we have traversed," he 
says, " over all the ground we have covered ; you will 
not find a single affecting memory, not a single vener- 
able monument, which will speak to you of the past 
ages with the power that recalls them in a living and 
picturesque manner. We live only in the narrowest 
present, without a past and without a future, in the 
midst of a dead calm." 

Having no traditions of her own, Russia has no 
traditions common to her and the rest of European 
humanity: "Our first years, passed in an immovable 
stupor, left no trace upon our minds, and there is 
nothing individual upon which we can base our ideas ; 
isolated by a strange destiny from the universal move- 
ment of humanity, we gathered none of the traditional 
ideas of the human species. Yet the life of nations is 
founded upon such ideas ; their future grows out of 
these ideas, and their moral development proceeds 

These traditional ideas give all the peoples of Europe 
a " common physiognomy, a family expression." 
Tshaadaev believes that " in spite of the general 
division of these peoples into the Latin branch and 
the Teutonic branch, into Southern peoples and 
Northern peoples,, there is a common tie which unites 
them all in a single group, a tie plainly visible to those 
who have studied their general history." This " in- 
herited patrimony of ideas " gives these peoples " a 
certain mental method " which is lacking in the 
Russians. M The syllogism of the West is unknown to 
us," says Tshaadaev. " There is something more than 
frivolity in our best heads. . . . There is nothing pf 
that wanton lightness with which the French used to 
be reproached long ago, and which after all was only 
a facile manner of conceiving things, which excluded 
neither depth nor breadth of mind, and which added an 


infinite grace and charm to intercourse ; it is the heed- 
lessness of a life without experience and without foxe- 
sight, which refers itself to nothing further than the 
ephemeral life of the individual detached from the 
species. . . . The experience of the ages means 
nothing to us ; periods and generations have gone by 
but have brought us no fruit. One would say, to look 
at us, that the general law of humanity had been 
revoked for us. Solitaries in the world, we have given 
nothing to the world, we have taught nothing to the 
world. . . . Not one useful thought has germinated 
on the barren soil of our country, ; not one great truth 
has sprung up in our midst." 

To those who would oppose to Tshaadaev's indictment 
the age of Peter the Great as the period of Europeaniza- 
tion, when Russia entered the family of the Western 
peoples, Tshaadaev replies by the following argument, 
in which he seeks to emphasize the external and 
superficial character of Peter's work : — 

" Once a great man determined to civilize us, and, 
in order to give us a foretaste of the light, he threw, 
us the mantle of civilization ; we picked up the mantle, 
but we did not touch civilization." 

Tschaadaev then proceeds to explain all these sad 
peculiarities of the mind and the history of Russia. 
He finds his explanation in the schism which occurred 
in the Christian Church, dividing it into the Catholic 
Church and the Byzantine Church, to which latter the 
Russians adhered. 

" .While the edifice of modern civilization was rising 
from the thick of the struggle against the vigorous 
barbarism of the Northern peoples and the lofty ideas 
of religion, what were we doing? Impelled by a fatal 
destiny, we were about to seek in miserable Byzantium, 
the object of the profound contempt of these peoples, 
the moral code which was to educate us. A moment 
earlier an ambitious mind (Photius) had removed this 
family from the universal fraternity ; it was this idea, 
disfigured by human passion, that we accepted at that 


time. The vitalizing principle of unity animated every- 
thing in Europe. Everything emanated from this idea ; 
everything converged upon it. The whole intellectual 
movement of the time tended only to establish the unity 
of human thought, and every impulse was derived from 
the urgent need of arriving at a universal ideal which 
is the genius of modern times." 

Only the Russian people remained " alien to this 
wonderful principle." It remained outside that other 
great European movement: the Renaissance. "By 
turning back to pagan antiquity the Christian world 
discovered those forms of the beautiful which it had 
so far lacked. Secluded by our schism, nothing of what 
was happening in Europe reached us. We had nothing 
to do with the great business of the world. The notable 
qualities with which religion had endowed the modern 
peoples . . . those new forces with which it had en- 
riched the human intelligence ; the manners which 
submission to an unarmed authority had rendered as 
gentle as they had at first been brutal ; nothing of all 
this took place in Russia. . . . While the world was 
entirely reconstructing itself, nothing was built in 
Russia ; we remained hidden in our hovels of poles 
and thatch. In a word, the new destinies of the human 
race were not for us. Christians though we were, the 
fruit of Christendom was not ripening for us." 

In this extreme pessimism as regards the destinies 
of Russia, Tshaadaev was in profound disagreement 
with the foolish and hypocritical optimism of the ruling 
circles and the reaction, the typical representative of 
which, Count Ouvarov, was convinced, and publicly 
declared, that the past of Russia was admirable, its 
present more than admirable, and its future would 
surpass imagination. A veritable religion, a veritable 
adoration of the existing system, was proclaimed by 
this spokesman of the official Russia. 

Ouvarov and others like him believed that they loved 
Russia and that Tshaadaev hated and despised her. 
Tshaadaev was of the contrary opinion. In his Apology 


of a Madman, in which, according to his own expression, 
he M attempted to discover what are the relations of a 
man smitten with insanity by order of the supreme 
tribunal of the country to his fellow-creatures, his 
fellow-citizens and his God," Tshaadaev holds that 
" there are several ways of loving one's country ; the 
Samoyed, for example, who loves the native snows 
which render him myopic, the smoky yourt in which he 
remains hidden for half his days, the rancid fat of his 
reindeer, which surrounds him with a nauseating atmo- 
sphere, certainly does not love his country after the same 
fashion as the British citizen, proud of his institutions 
and of the high civilization of his glorious island. . .. . 
Love of country is a beautiful thing, but there is one 
finer thing, and that is the love of truth. .... It is not 
by the road of the fatherland, but by the road of truth, 
that we ascend to heaven." l 

It must not be supposed that Tshaadaev consciously 
intended to belittle and humiliate his country and its 
peoples, as his adversaries asserted. On the contrary, 
he was convinced that it was by an unhappy chance that 
Russia had strayed from the great highway of universal 
civilization, and that her place was with the European 
peoples. He protests against " the European peoples, 
who are strangely mistaken with regard to the 
Russians." " They persist in surrendering us to the 
East : by a sort of instinct of European nationality they 
thrust us back into the East so that they shall not meet 
us again in the West," writes Tshaadaev in a letter to 
Alexander Turgenev. But for Tshaadaev Russia had 
the right of communion with the West. " We are 
situated in the East of Europe, that is certain, but we 
have never for all that been a part of the East. The 
East has a history which has nothing in common with 
that of our country. We are simply a Northern country, 
and by our ideas as much as by climate we are very far 
removed from the ' perfumed vale of Kashmir ' and 
the sacred banks of the Ganges." 2 

* (Euvres choisies de Pierre Tshaadaev, p. 127. ■ Ibid. p. 141. 


Tshaadaev cherished the dream that " a day would 
come when the Russians would find a place in, the 
midst of intellectual Europe, as we already stand in the 
midst of political Europe ; more powerful then by virtue 
of our intelligence than we are to-day by virtue of our 
material strength." 

But in order that this dream should be realized it was 
essential that the spiritual and moral unity between 
Russia and the West, now shattered, should be re- 
established. And as Tshaadaev was convinced that 
Catholicism was the best and only true guardian of the 
spiritual unity of Europe, he called upon his people 
to adopt the Catholic ideal. 

It would not be difficult to indicate the weak 
points and the errors of Tshaadaev's argument. It 
would be very easy to demonstrate that the European 
and universal civilization which he so greatly valued 
was not merely the work of Catholicism, and that many 
of its important and primordial elements were, on the 
contrary, born of the conflict between secular society 
and the Catholic Church. But to Tshaadaev the 
Catholic ideal was in reality of importance not as an 
ecclesiastical and religious ideal, but rather as a 
political and social ideal. To him it was the symbol 
of the unity of European civilization. And he wished 
his country to play its part in that unity. 

M Believe me, I cherish my country more than any 
of you," he declared, addressing his adversaries. M I 
am ambitious : I wish to see her glorious. . . . But I 
have not learned to love my country with closed eyes, 
with bowed head, with shut lips. I consider that one 
can be useful to one's country only on condition of 
seeing it clearly ; I believe that the time of blind love 
is past, that to-day one owes one's country the truth 
before all else. I love my country as Peter the Great 
taught me to love it. I have not, I admit, that fatuous 
lazy patriotism which slumbers amid its illusions, and 
with which, unhappily, many of our best minds are 
to-day afflicted. I think that if we came after the rest 


it was in order that we shall do better than the 

And Tshaadaev hopes that Russia's long isolation 
and solitude will perhaps be of value to her in the 
accomplishment of her future mission, because " the 
great things have always come from the wilderness." 


Half a century later the Catholic tradition founds 
expression in the works of another remarkable Russian 
thinker, Vladimir Soloviev, whose name I have already 
had occasion to mention. His French biographer and 
commentator, M. J. B. SeVerac, says of him that 
M Vladimir Soloviev deserves to be described as ' the 
first Russian philosopher.' And, indeed, until his day 
Russia had possessed no philosopher in the Western, 
European sense of the word." ' Without exaggerating to 
this extent, we may, however, admit that Soloviev was 
one of the most original figures in the world of Russian 
thought toward the end of the nineteenth century. 

Born in 1853 and dying in 1900, Vladimir Soloviev 
left behind him, in addition to his philosophical works, 
a reputation for great honesty and great moral courage. 
Although by no means a revolutionary, he protested 
against all kinds of injustice, and he fought for liberty. 
When, after the assassination of Alexander II (on the 
1st of March 1881), people were waiting for the execu- 
tion of the Terrorists, who were accused of this act, 
Soloviev made a public speech in which he appealed to 
Alexander's successor to pardon his father's murderers : — 
" To-day," he said, " the regicides are undergoing 
their trial, and they will probably be condemned to 
death. But the Tsar has the power to pardon them, 
and if he really feels the tie which binds him to the 
people he must do so. The Russian people know- 
nothing of two truths. Now, God's truth says : ' Thou 
shalt not kill.' Here is the solemn moment of justifica- 

1 J. B. Severac, Vladimir Soloviev. Introduction et choix de textes, 
p. 14 (Paris). 



tion or condemnation. Let the Tsar show that he is 
before all a Christian. But if he transgresses God'g 
commandments, if he enters upon this sanguinary path, 
then the Russian people, the Christian people, can no 
longer follow him." 

For these generous words Soloviev was dismissed 
from his post as Professor of Philosophy in the Univer- 
sity of Petersburg, " and was forced thereafter to lead 
an uncertain and wandering life, his pen providing him! 
with a living." ' 

I cannot here expound Soloviev's philosophical ideas 
in all their bearings. What concerns us chiefly is his 
historical and religious philosophy and his opinions on 
Russia's place in the world and her relations with the 
West. But I must not omit to emphasize the fact that 
with Soloviev the problems of philosophy in general 
were related to his philosophy of history and his ideas 
as to the relations between Russia and Europe. 

M The necessary and most recent results of the 
development of Western philosophy," he writes in his 
work on The Crisis of Western Philosophy, " are the 
affirmation, in the shape of rational knowledge, of the 
same truths which, under the form of faith and spiritual 
contemplation, were affirmed by the great dogmas of 
the East (of the East of antiquity as regards a portion, 
but more particularly of the Christian East). Thus the 
most recent philosophy, with the logical perfection of 
its Western form, tends to reunite with the contempla- 
tion of the East. On the one hand it is based on the 
data of positive science ; on the other it joins hands 
with religion. The realization of this universal syn- 
thesis of the science of philosophy and religion . . , 
should be the supreme aim and the ultimate result ot 
the evolution of thought." 

We see that for Soloviev even a purely metaphysical 
problem becomes a vital question, leading him to. seek 
for the grounds of a reconciliation between the East 
and the West. 

■ J. B. Severac, op. cit. p. 12. 


As for the distinction between the Eastern mind and 
the Western mind, it is described by Soloviev almost in 
the same terms as those employed by Tshaadaev, who 
defined it as follows : — 

" The world was from all time divided into two 
portions — the East and the West. This is not merely a 
geographical division. . . . We have here two prin- 
ciples, which correspond with two dynamic forces of 
nature, two ideals which embrace the entire economy 
of the human species . In the East it is by concentrating 
itself, by recollecting itself, by turning inward upon 
itself, that the human spirit builds itself up ; but in the 
West it does so by expanding itself externally, by 
spreading itself in every direction, by struggling! against 
all obstacles. Society naturally constituted itself on 
these primitive data. In the East, thought withdrew into 
itself, seeking seclusion and repose; it hid in the wilder- 
ness, and allowed the social power to become the master 
of all earthly possessions ; while in the West thought 
projected itself in all directions and embraced all forms 
of happiness, founding authority upon the principle of 
justice. . . . The East was the first-comer, casting 
upon the earth the streams of light that came from the 
womb of its solitary meditation ; then came the West, 
which, with its immense activity, its eager speech, its 
all-powerful analysis, engrossed itself in its labours, 
finished what the East had commenced, and finally 
enveloped it in its vast embrace." ■ 

Soloviev is less condemnatory of the past of Russia 
than Tshaadaev, because at the outset of his philo- 
sophical and literary activity Soloviev came under the 
influence of the Slavophiles. At this period he did not 
(as did Tshaadaev) demand the submission of the East 
to the West, of Russia to Europe, of Orthodoxy to 
Catholicism ; he spoke of a V synthesis," and in his 
lectures on The Human God he even said that " in 
the history of Christianity the Church of the East repre- 
sented the divine principle ; the West, the human prin- 
* P. Tshaadaev, (Euvres, pp. 137-8. 


ciple. Before it became the fecundating principle of 
the Church, reason was forced to divorce itself from 
her, in order to develop all its forces in freedom. Once 
the human principle had become completely indi- 
vidualized and had felt the weakness of this isolation, 
it was able freely to enter into conjunction with the 
divine foundation of Christendom preserved in the 
Church of the East, and, by this free conjunction, to 
give birth to spiritual humanity." This was written by 
Soloviev in 1879, but ten years later he proclaimed the 
supremacy of Catholicism over Orthodoxy, and pro- 
ceeded to draw all the practical deductions therefrom. 

Soloviev asked himself this question: "What is 
Russia's ralson d'etre in the world? " He distinguished 
three principal phases of Russian history: the first 
phase was the period of the formation of a great 
national monarchy ; it ended under the Tsar Alexei, 
the father of Peter the Great. Peter opened a new era 
in the history of Russia: he sent Russia to school with 
the civilized peoples of the West, in order that she might 
assimilate their knowledge and their culture. But at 
the close of this second phase it was needful to know 
what Russia was to do after her years of apprenticeship ; 
for " if one was right in asking : ' What is barbarian 
Russia to do? ' and if Peter the Great replied correctly 
by answering : ' She must be reformed and civilized ' — 
then," says Soloviev, M one has no less the right to ask : 
What is the Russia reformed by Peter the Great to do? 
What is the aim of modern Russia? " 

Soloviev is satisfied neither by the reply of the Slavo- 
philes nor by that of the simple positivist " patriots." 
When the first say that Orthodox Russia is sufficient to 
herself, and that she has nothing to do with " the West, 
which is in a state of decadence," Soloviev objects that 
in speaking thus they reduce the final aim of the history 
and the raison d'etre of the human species to the 
existence of a single nation. 

" A return to the ancient Judaism is proposed to us," 
says Soloviev, "with this difference: that the excep- 


tional role of the Jewish people in the schemes of 
Providence is attested by the word of God, while the 
exclusive importance of Russia cannot be affirmed save 
on the word of certain Russian publicists, whose inspira- 
tion is far from being infallible." ■ 

As for the " more prosaic patriots," who, " in reac- 
tion against the vague and sterile poetry of Panslavism," 
have asserted that it is not indispensable that a people 
should bear within it a determining idea, and that one 
should simply strive to render one's country wealthy and 
powerful, without speculating as to its superior purpose 
in the comity of nations, Soloviev believes that **■ this 
amounts to saying that the nations live by daily bread 
alone, which is neither true nor desirable." Soloviev 
holds that " the historic peoples have lived not only for 
themselves but also for all humanity, purchasing by 
their immortal labours the right to assert their 
nationality." " One does not ask what is the historic 
vision of the Ashantis or the Esquimaux," but M modern 
Russia, which for two centuries has not ceased to 
manifest herself on the stage of world-history, did not 
quite know whither she was going nor what she in- 
tended to do." It is therefore important to know what 
idea Russia contributes to the world ; what she has 
done and what she has yet to do for the good oif 
humanity as a whole. 

Soloviev's reply to this question is determined by his 
general ideals. A convinced and sincere Christian, he 
believed that human history was an incarnation of M the 
Word," a gradual realization of the Divine Will in the 
life of men. But the incarnation of the Word and the 
realization of the Divine Will does not come about by, 
the intervention of a single man, but through the inter- 
mediation of human society, which should be a 
theocracy ; that is, it should be based on the religious 
principle and directed by an ecclesiastical authority. 

In his original work on Russia and the Universal 
Church, which he had to publish in French (in 1889), 

* V. Soloviev, LaRussie el VEglise universelle (Paris, 1883), p. 3. 


as in Russia the ecclesiastical censorship would not have 
tolerated the publication of a book so imbued with 
Catholic ideals, Sploviev compares the two existing 
Christian Churches, and likens them to two saints of 
whom a charming Russian folk-tale speaks. 

These two saints— St. Nicholas and St. Cassien — who 
were sent from Paradise to visit earth, saw one day upon 
their path a poor peasant, whose cart, loaded with hay, 
was deeply mired, and who was making fruitless efforts 
to urge his horse onward. 

" Let us give a hand to this worthy man," said St. 

" I would rather not," replied St. Cassien. " I should 
be afraid of soiling my chlamys." 

M Then wait for me, or else go thy ways alone," said 
St. Nicholas, and, fearlessly plunging into the mud, he 
vigorously assisted the peasant to drag his cart from the 
slough . 

(When the task was completed St. Nicholas rejoined 
his companion. He was covered with mire, and his 
chlamys, rent and soiled, was like a poor man's blouse. 
Great was the surprise of St. Peter to see him arrive in 
this condition at the gate of Paradise. 

" -Well, what has made such a sight of you? " 
inquired St. Peter. 

St. Nicholas related what had happened. 

"And you," asked St. Peter of St. Cassien, "were 
you not with him in this affair? " 

" Yes, but I ant not in the habit of meddling 
with what does not concern me, and, above all, I did 
not wish to soil the immaculate whiteness of my 

"Well, well!" said Peter, "as for you, St. 
Nicholas, because you were not afraid to dirty yourself 
in helping your neighbour out of his trouble, you 
shall henceforth be feted twice a year, and you will be 
regarded as the greatest of the saints after me by all 
the peasants of Russia. And you, St. Cassien, you may 
content yourself with the pleasure of having an immacu- 


late chlamys: you will have your festival only in Eeap 
Year — only once in four years." l 

" The Oriental prays ; the Occidental prays and 
works. Which of the two is right? " asks Soloviev, 
and replies as follows : — 

4 ' Jesus Christ established His visible Church not only 
that it might contemplate heaven, but also that it might 
labour on earth and fight against the gates of hell. He 
sent His apostles not into solitude and the wilderness, 
but into the world, to conquer it and to subject it to the 
kingdom which is not of this world ; and He recom- 
mended them to be not only as meek as doves, but also 
as wise as serpents." 2 

From this point of view Soloviev believes that 
although in the East there is a " Church which prays," 
there is not a " Church which acts," and which labours 
to reform the whole social life of the nations according 
to "the Christian ideal." To accomplish the true will 
of Christ, the Eastern Church must frankly accept 
Catholicism' as its companion and its guide on its 
terrestrial journey. 

Soloviev very severely criticizes the present position 
of the Orthodox Church, in which, he says, there is 
no truly spiritual government. The Orthodox Church 
is in complete dependence upon the power of the State, 
and, in the words of the Slavophile Ivan Aksakov, 
cited by Soloviev, it " presents the appearance of a 
sort of bureau or colossal chancellery, which applies 
to the office of the shepherd of Christ's flock all the 
methods of the German bureaucracy, with all the official 
falsity which is inherent in them. . . . The ecclesias- 
tical government is organized like a secular depart- 
mental administration. . . . The spiritual sword — 
speech — is replaced by the sword of the State, and 
near the precincts of the Church, instead of the angels 

' The Orthodox Church celebrates the feast of St. Nicholas on the 
6th of May and the 6th of December, and the feast of St. Cassien on 
the 29th of February. 

» Soloviev, La Russie et VEglise universale (Paris, 1889), p. 4. 


of God, we see gendarmes and police inspectors — those 
guardians of the Orthodox dogmas, those directors of 
our conscience." l 

For Soloviev the situation of the Church was incom- 
patible with its spiritual dignity, its divine origin, and 
its universal mission. But there was only one means 
by which the Orthodox Church could escape from this 
situation ; this was to unite with the Catholic Church. 
The popular basis of faith is identical in Orthodoxy and 
Catholicism. From the evangelical and historical point 
of view the Catholic Church should be the guide. By 
analysing at length the texts of the Gospel, the deliber- 
ations of the Conclaves, etc., Soloviev arrived at the 
conclusion that the Roman Papacy was truly charged 
by Christ to represent Him on earth, and as "to Christ, 
the one Being, the centre of all beings, the Church 
should correspond, a collectivity aspiring to perfect 
unity," so Orthodoxy should be reconciled with Catholi- 
cism and submit itself to the power of the Pope. In 
his " spiritual fatherhood " the unity of the human 
species will be realized. We shall then accomplish 
the will of Christ, who " in uniting all His disciples 
in one sole communion did not falter before national 
divisions. He extended His fraternity over all the 
nations. And if this mysterious communion of the 
Divine Body is true and actual, we, in partaking of 
it, do truly become brothers, without any distinction of 
race or nationality." 2 

Thus, by re-uniting itself with Catholicism, the 
Orthodox Church and all Russia with it would win 
the possibility of participating in the great work of 
" the incarnation of the Word," the perfecting of human 
nature and society. 

■ Ivan Aksakov, Works, vol. iv. p. 84. Soloviev cites from the same 
author the story of the shoulder-knots of a general's aide-de-camp, 
with which Mgr. Irinee, Archbishop of Pskov, and a member of the 
Holy Synod, was decorated under Paul I, which are highly significant 
of the relations between Church and State in Russia. 

• Soloviev, op. cit. p. 329. 


Herzen had said of Tshaadaev that in him was in- 
carnated " the reasonable and social aspect of Catholi- 
cism." One might also say this of Soloviev. His 
religious faith, his mysticism even, are directed toward 
the problem of the welfare and the happiness of man- 

But neither Tshaadaev nor Soloviev, despite all the 
power of their original minds, was able to control and 
master Russian thought, which remained, in general, far 
removed from the path followed by these two remark- 
able philosophers, who were all their lives tormented 
by the great problem of the relations between " the 
Orient and the Occident," between Russia and Europe, 
seeking to solve it by the religious unity of one and 
the other. 


I. The idealist philosophy of Germany — Hegelianism. II. Bielinsky 
— The influence of Schelling and Fichte. III. Bielinsky, a Hegelian 
of the "Right" and a conservative — His antipathy for French 
ideals. IV. His conversion — French influences — Social aspira- 


A French poet has said that when one has no support 
in heaven, one turns one's eyes toward the earth. This 
aphorism is correct in the inverse sense also. .When 
one finds no support on earth one turns to heaven again. 
The intellectual life of Russia proves this most emphati- 

In the first half of the nineteenth century, after 
the Decembrist movement had been suppressed, when 
political and concrete aspirations had been violently 
stifled, a period of abstract and nebulous speculation 
set in. This was the period of the Russian hegelianstvo, 
that is, of the cult of Hegel and the idealistic German 
philosophy in general. In the place of the late secret 
political societies which discussed the French, British, 
American, and 6panish constitutions, philosophic 
" clubs " were formed, whose members passed their 
time in discussing the most complex problems of meta- 

" There is not a single paragraph in all the three 
parts of the Logic of Hegel, in the two parts of his 
./Esthetic, or in his Encyclopedia, etc., which has not 
for some nights been the subject of furious discussion. 
People who regarded one another with affection would 
have nothing to do with one another for weeks after 



a disagreement respecting the definition of 4 the inter- 
cepting mind,' and would regard opinions concerning 
1 the absolute personality ' and its autonomous existence 
as personal insults. All the most insignificant pamphlets 
which appeared in Berlin or the various provincial 
cities of Germany, which dealt with German philosophy 
and contained even the merest mention of Hegel, were 
bought and read until in a few days they were torn and 
tattered and falling to pieces." 

Such is the artistic description of life in these philo- 
sophical clubs as given by Herzen, who himself entered 
into it heart and soul. 

The influence of the idealistic philosophy of Germany 
was very great, and played a very important part in 
the spiritual history of Russian society. Its positive 
aspect consisted of the fact that it developed, in its 
Russian adepts, a love of abstract thought and a habit 
of logical argument. Certain of these Russian disciples 
of the German school of philosophy became absolute 
M monstrosities in their terse dialectic and their luminous 
perception of ideas in their essence " (this was 
Proudhon's opinion of Bakunin). This habit of 
" dialectic " and argument liberated the Russian youth 
of the time from many prejudices, and from docile 
submission to the naive beliefs of their fathers. Re- 
serving for man a supreme position in the system of 
the world (*' man is the completion of nature "), German 
idealism fortified their sense of human dignity. 

But German philosophy had also its negative and 
perilous aspects. Fichte, representing the " external 
world " as the product of the human mind, compelled his 
Russian disciples toward an exaggerated subjectivism, 
toward the concentration of all interests in their ego, 
and toward the neglect of real life. Schelling, who 
completed Fichte's theory by the addition of the poetic 
element, and who declared that nature was the work 
of the artistic and creative imagination of man, impelled 
them toward an exaggerated " aestheticism." Even 
Hegel, whose dialectic and philosophy of history were, 


for Herzen and his friends, an " algebra of revolution," 
concealed, in his abstract formulae, great dangers for 
the Russian mind, as we shall see later on. 

iWe must here add that an excessive enthusiasm for 
German metaphysics was often, in Russia, accompanied 
by an aversion for " French ideas." Happily, this 
aversion was only ephemeral, and it was precisely these 
" French ideas " which paralysed the action of the evil 
aspects of the influence of German philosophy, and 
permitted the Russian intellectuals to emerge from its 
labyrinth without the loss of their best human feelings. 


The 'thirties and 'forties of the nineteenth century 
were very rich in men and in ideas. All the chief 
literary and ideological movements of the century had 
their roots in these years. The period is adorned by 
a whole Pleiad of illustrious names ; the Slavophiles, 
Khomiakov, the brothers Kireevsky, and the brothers 
Aksakov ; the zapadniki, Granovsky, Bielinsky, Herzen, 
Ogariov, Stankievitsh, and Botkin. Bielinsky was 
influenced by the destructive genius of the impassioned 
philosophic and aesthetic romanticism of Schelling. In 
an article entitled Literary Musings (or Elegy) he 
reproduces, almost word for word, the M definitions " 
of Schelling, and speaks of " the divine world, immense 
and beautiful, which is nothing more than the breath 
of a unique and eternal idea (of the thought of the 
unique and eternal God), and which manifests itself 
in innumerable forms, as a great spectacle of the abso- 
lute unity in an illimitable variety. Only the enkindled 
sentiment of a mortal can conceive, in its moments of 
clairvoyance, how great is the body of this soul of 
the Universe, whose heart is fashioned of stupendous 
suns, whose veins are Milky Ways, and whose blood 
is the pure ether." Only art and poetry can seize the 
essential of this universal life ; art, for Bielinsky, is 
the expression of the great idea of the Universe in its 
infinitely variable manifestations. 

IDEALS , 269 

Bakunin was formed by this period. It also gave 
birth to the Russian novel, and to that literary criticism 
which for a long time fulfilled the part of a guide, 
not only in the province of literary taste, but also in 
that of the social and moral life of the Russian 

All those who wish to obtain a real knowledge of 
this astonishing period should begin with a thorough 
study of the ideas and the works of Vissarion Bielinsky. 
Such a study will be of the greatest interest to those 
who wish to understand the formation of the Occi- 
dentalist and Slavophile movements and the nature of 
those European influences which have affected the 
Russian mind. 

Endowed with an unusually active mind, and bringing 
to the expression of his thoughts and feelings a remark- 
able sincerity, sensitive in the extreme to all impres- 
sions and impulses, Vissarion the Impetuous, as his 
friends used to call him, reflected in his spiritual de- 
velopment and in his works the principal factors of the 
intellectual life of the period between 1830 and 1850. 

At the outset Bielinsky was a disciple of Schelling. 
^Esthetic pleasure, in his opinion, consists of " a 
momentary oblivion of our ego in a keen sympathy 
with the universal life." 

The history of humanity is also a series of manifes- 
tations of the same divine idea, and " each people fills, 
in the great family of the human race, its own place, 
which is appointed by Providence." This historical 
and national romanticism has not, in Bielinsky 's works, 
a democratic or popular character : " Our national 
physiognomy is best preserved in the lower strata of 
the population, but the superior life of the people is 
concentrated principally in the higher strata." It was 
to these higher strata that Bielinsky looked for all 
progress in Russia, and he already saw signs of such 
progress in the " enlightened activity of the well-known 
dignitaries, the advisers of the Tsar in the difficult 
matter of the administration," who entered " the temples 


of Russian learning," pointing out to the youth of 
Russia M the path leading to civilization, based on 
orthodoxy, autocracy, and the national spirit " ; in " the 
grateful nobility," who gave its children " a solid edu- 
cation " ; in the " class of merchants," who " were 
rapidly learning " ; in " our clergy," who " took an 
active part in the holy work of national education." 

With the same optimism Bielinsky considers the past 
of the Russian people, and finds it full of favourable 
phenomena. As for Russian literature, a consideration 
of which forms the principal subject of the Elegy, he 
condemns all its satyric or pessimistic works, pro- 
nouncing in favour of " pure art," which is equivalent to 
saying that he demolishes the principal monuments of 
the Russian national genius. 

This exaggerated indulgence and this desire to see 
in Russia nothing but what was good was obviously 
antagonistic to the reality. It is enough to say that 
the same Count Ouvarov, Minister of Public Instruc- 
tion, who was the " well-known dignitary " mentioned 
by Bielinsky, expressed during a visit to " the temple 
of learning," namely, the University of Moscow, the 
desire " that Russian literature should finally cease to 
exist," because he regarded it as a vehicle for liberal 
ideas ; he also believed that it was the duty of the 
Government " to multiply spiritual barriers wherever 
that is possible." 

The striking contradiction between the " literary 
musings " and the reality could not fail to distress 
Bielinsky's mind. He sought a remedy, or rather a 
spiritual asylum, in Fichte. Under the influence of 
his friend, Mikai'l Bakunin, who later became the father 
of anarchism, Bielinsky absorbed the idealism of Fichte. 

In a letter to Bakunin he writes that " the ideal 
life and real life were always divided in his conceptions," 
but that, enlightened by Fichte, he understood that M the 
ideal life is precisely the real life, positive and concrete, 
while what one calls real life is only a negation, a 
phantom, a nothing, a futility." In another letter 


(1837) Bielinsky says that "apart from thought all 
is a dream, phantasmal ; thought alone is substantial 
and real. What are you yourself? A thought clad 
in flesh . . . which is the more important : an idea 
or a phenomenon, a soul or a body? Is the idea the 
result of the phenomenon, or the phenomenon the result 
of the idea? Without doubt the phenomenon is the 
result of the idea." 

Putting these theories into practice, Bielinsky M fled 
to his books at the top of his speed," as he jestingly 
observed later, seeking to seclude himself in the 
" ivory tower " of philosophy. 

" Submerge yourself, hide yourself in science and 
art," he advises one of his friends. " Do not seek 
God in the temples created by man, but seek Him 
rather in your heart. . . . Philosophy — that is what 
should be the object of your activities. . . . Philo- 
sophy alone will give peace and harmony to your mind. 
. . . You will not be in the world, but the world will 
be in you. . . . Above all, leave politics alone and 
beware of any political influence upon your judgment. 
Politics, with us in Russia, has no meaning, and only 
empty heads can bother themselves with it." 

This determined external indifference concealed, as 
does all systematic indifference, a conservative 

" Russia is still in her infancy," he writes later on. 
" To give liberty to a child is to destroy it. To 
give liberty to Russia, in her present state, is to destroy 
her. The liberated Russian people would resort, not 
to the Parliament, but to the drink-shop. All Russia's 
hope lies in education, not in upheavals, revolutions, 
and constitutions." 

Russian conservatism is always hostile to France. 
Bielinsky forms no exception to this rule. 

11 There have been two revolutions in France," he 
wrote (in 1837) ; "their result was a constitution, 
and behold 1 In constitutional France there is much 
less liberty of thought than in autocratic Prussia. And 


this is because constitutional liberty is a conventional 
liberty, while the veritable and absolute liberty is 
realized in the State in proportion to the success of 
education, based on philosophy, on a speculative and 
not on an empirical philosophy." 

Further on Bielinsky condemns French thought in 
the following terms : — 

" Down with politics ! Long live science ! In 
France, science, and art, and religion have become, or, 
to tell the truth, have always been, the instruments of 
politics ; this is why there is neither art nor science 
nor religion in France. Avoid French science then, 
and above all French philosophy ; fear them even more 
than French politics. . . . The French deduce every- 
thing from the present state of society ; this is why 
they have no eternal verities. ... A philosophy based 
on experience is nonsense. The French of to-day have 
mastered the Germans, but they do not understand 
them, because a Frenchman can never attain to uni- 
versality. . . . The devil fly away with the French ! 
Their activities have never brought us anything but 
evil. We have imitated their literature, and we have 
killed our own. . ,. . Germany is the Jerusalem of 
modern humanity. ... To youthful and virgin Russia, 
Germany must transmit her family life, her social 
virtues, and her philosophy, which embraces the 
universe. . . . We must take the initiative in this union 
with Germany." 

Bielinsky, in his Germanophilia and Gallophobia, went 
so far as to praise the reactionary government of 
Nicolas J, because it allowed " the products of 
German thought " to penetrate Russia, while it pro- 
scribed ideas of French origin. 


The next phase in the mental development of 
Bielinsky was dominated by the philosophy of Hegel, 
or, more precisely, by a one-sided and erroneous inter- 
pretation of a few propositions of Hegel's. " A new 


world is vouchsafed to us," wrote Bielinsky, describing 
the impression produced upon him' by Hegelianism. 
" Might is right, and right is might. No, I cannot 
describe to you the feeling with which I heard these 
words — it was a liberation. I understood the fall of 
kingdoms, the legality of the actions of conquerors ; 
I understood that there was no barbarous material 
force, no domination by the sword and the bayonet, 
that there was no such thing as despotism. And lo, 
the mission of the teacher of the human race, the 
mission which I undertook in respect of my native 
land, appeared in a new light. . ,. . The word reality 
has for me become synonymous with the word God. 
. . . Blessed is that word which is able to illumine the 
very laboratory of the idea of the infinite ! " 

As we see, Bielinsky is always tormented by the 
same contradiction : the contradiction between the idea 
and the reality. And he seeks to reconcile the two 
by the law of necessity and the lawfulness of all that 
exists. We must admit that the historic philosophy 
of Hegel might be interpreted in the sense which 
Bielinsky attributed to it. Hegel says that M all that 
is real is reasonable, and all that is reasonable is real." 
.Which is to say that all that exists may be explained 
by the reason, that is, that it has reasonable causes. 
And, on the contrary, that which reason foresees as a 
logical necessity of future evolution is real, that is 
to say, will be realized in the future. On the other hand, 
it results that all that exists to-day may and must 
perish to give life to something new. Everything now 
existing includes the germ of something new ; every 
thesis supposes an antithesis. 

Bielinsky's error was this : he perceived only a single 
aspect of the Hegelian formula ; "all that is real is 
reasonable." And this one-sided conception led him 
logically to justify the existing order of things as 
M necessary " and " lawful." This error was all the 
more explicable in that Hegel himself gave this inter- 
pretation of his historical philosophy (officially at least), 



and approved of the Prussian Government as being 
" reasonable." 

It is therefore not surprising that Bielinsky should 
have tripped over the same stumbling-block. A 
sincere, ardent thinker, who " did not change colour 
over the most formidable deductions," Bielinsky en- 
deavoured to reconcile himself entirely with real life, 
with all its violence and injustice and its vileness, with 
the " bayonet," the " sword," and the " laboratory," 
and to show that all that existed in Russia was 
u reasonable." He had the courage not to keep his 
opinions for his own personal consumption; he ex- 
pounded them in a series of startling articles. In one 
of these articles — which spoke of the anniversary of 
the battle of Borodino — Bielinsky represented the 
history of the Russian State as the manifestation of the 
" mysterious substance " of the M kingdom of the 
Infinite." The State is not a human institution, but 
a phenomenon of divine origin. The autocratic power 
is not derived from election or a contract (as a little 
liberal French abbe* would say). This power, "in- 
cluding in itself all individual wills," is " a transforma- 
tion of the monarchy of the eternal reason." The very 
name of monarch is a mystic and sacred thing. The 
needs and desires of individuals must not be taken into 
consideration, because " an objective world should 
vanquish a subjective world." All is reasonable and 
necessary. Those who do not think so and revolt 
against suffering and injustice are only " voluntary 
martyrs " and insane. A poet or an artist should not 
concern himself with the contemporary world, which 
is only " a beginning without middle and without end." 
The moralists are " vampires who kill life by the chill 
of their touch, and seek to bind the Infinite within 
the narrow limits of their reasoned but unreasonable 

French literature, being far from this almost super- 
human detachment, is violently attacked by Bielinsky. 
The works of Racine and Moliere consist, for him, 


merely of " insipid statements in insipid verse." 
Voltaire is "an impudent scoffer at all things which 
humanity holds sacred and holy." Victor Hugo and 
Eugene Sue are " worshippers of the violence of bestial 
passions," " butchers Who pose as tragedians and 
romance- writers." George Sand thinks of nothing but 
introducing, into literature, the sectarian ideas of Saint- 
Simonism, which lead us toward the annihilation of the 
holy ties of marriage, kinship, and the family," and 
transform the State first M into the scene of a bestial 
arid impudent orgy, then into a phantom, formed of 
idle words." 

It should be noted that at this period Bielinsky had 
a great antipathy not only for French writers, but 
also for such of the German writers as displayed the 
same tendency toward protest and " moralism." Later 
he said of Schiller, the German Hugo : — 

" Schiller was then my personal enemy ; and I had 
the greatest difficulty in restraining my hatred for him 
and to keep within the limits of the conventions to 
which I was able to subdue myself. .Why this hatred? 
Because of his moral and subjective point of view ; 
because of his horrible ideal of duty ; because of 
his abstract heroism ; because of his conflict with 
reality, because of all the suffering which the mention 
of his name caused mie." 


The conservative and almost servile ideas professed 
by Bielinsky greatly displeased the lettered youth of 
Moscow ; and some of his friends broke with him, 
Herzen being one of them. Happily for Bielinsky 
and Russian thought, the period of his M reconcilia- 
tion " with reality, or rather his resignation, was not a 
lengthy one. 

At the end of 1839 Bielinsky, having left Moscow 
to live in Petersburg, was then able to observe the 
worst aspects of " Russian reality," due to the 
"militarized Byzantism " of Nicolas I. And by 


November 1839 h- e was writing to his friend Botkin : 
" Piter [the popular name for Petersburg] has an 
extraordinary gift of offending anything holy there is 
in a man." And he added : " The more I see and 
the more I think, the stronger and more intimate my 
love for Russia becomes ; but I am' beginning to under- 
stand that my affection for Russia is for its essence, 
and its form or method of expression is driving me 
to despair ; it is filthy, disgusting, repulsive, and in- 
human." Early in the following year he wrote to the 
same friend that " Petersburg was for him a horrible 
rock on which his simplicity ran aground." He con- 
sidered that " this was necessary." He suffered at 
the rupture with those who were revolted by his theory, 
of reconciliation, and he denied his abstract aspirations, 
his " life in books." " The French disgust me as 
formerly," he wrote, " but the social idea has taken 
a firmer hold of me. . . . All that one sees revolts 
the mind, offends the feelings. . . . No, the devil take 
all aspirations and all superior aims. We are living 
in a terrible period; it is our destiny to sacrifice our 
personal interests ; we have to suffer so that our grand- 
children may live better." 

In a letter to K. Aksakov, Bielinsky declared (in 
June 1840) that "scientific reality is the reality of 
life " — which must be the basis of science. He re- 
nounced his recent ideas concerning Russia and her 
past ; he declared that " he would pay a great price 
for the power to destroy what he had written on those 

" China is an abhorrent State ; but still more 
repugnant is the State in which exist abundant elements 
of life, but which is oppressed by chains of iron." 
Shortly after this he broke finally with all his old 

* I curse my abominable leaning toward reconciliation 
with the abominable reality ! Long live the great 
Schiller, the noble advocate of humanity, the shining 
star of salvation, who emancipated society from its 


sanguinary and traditional prejudices ! . . . The human 
personality is for me, to-day, more than history. . . . 
I will not reconcile myself to the insipid reality. . . . 
Reality is an executioner. . . . Negation constitutes 
our historic right . . . and without it the whole history 
of humanity would become a stagnant and foetid pool. 
. . . And the enormities which I used to vomit in 
my rage against the French, that vigorous, generous 
nation, which sheds its blood for the most sacred rights 
of humanity. ... Of course, the French do not under- 
stand the absolute in art, nor in religion, nor in science, 
and it is not their part to do so. Germany is a nation 
of the absolute, but a shameful State. ... Of course, 
in France there are many brawlers and phrase-makers, 
but in Germany there are many hofrdthe, philistines, 
pork-butchers, and other reptiles." And Bielinsky 
rejoices because "the Germans have at last divined 
what the French are," and because, as the fruit of 
French ideas, " there has appeared in their country 
that noble company of enthusiasts of liberty known 
as ' Young Germany,' at the head of which is .Heine, 
such a wonderful and beautiful personality." 

In 1 84 1 Bielinsky amended his Hegelianism. "I 
have been suspecting for a long time that Hegel's 
philosophy is only a factor, however great ; but the 
absolute character of his deductions is worth nothing ; 
it would be better to die than to adopt them. . . . 
The subjective, in Hegel, is not an end in itself, but 
a temporary means of manifesting the objective, and 
this objective appears, in him, in its relations to the 
subjective, as a sort of Moloch, for after a brief adhesion 
he discards it like an old pair of breeches. . . . The 
fate of the subjective, of the individual, of personality, 
is, for me, more important than the destiny of the 
Universe and the good health of the Chinese Emperor 
— that is to say, of the Hegelian Allgernelnheit . . . . 
I thank you profusely, Yegor Fedorovitch," continues 
Bielinsky in a bantering apostrophe to Hegel. " I 
salute your philosopher's cap, but with all the esteem 


befitting your Philistine philosophy I have the honour 
to inform you that if I had the chance to ascend to 
the topmost rung of the ladder of evolution, I would 
even then call you to account for all the victims of 
life and history. . . . Otherwise I would fling myself 
from the top of the ladder. I do not desire happiness 
itself gratuitously obtained if I am not easy in my 
mind in respect of all my brothers by race. ... It is 
said that discord is a condition of harmony ; this is 
very advantageous and agreeable for the melomaniacs, 
but not for those whose own fate is to furnish discord." 

Bielinsky explains with a great deal of depth and 
subtlety the crisis through which he passed, and the 
essential difference between French thought and German 
thought : — 

" In seeking a solution we flung ourselves eagerly 
into the fascinating domain of German contemplation, 
and we hoped to create for ourselves a pleasant world 
full of warmth and light, a world of the inward life. 
We did not understand that this contemplative sub- 
jectivism is an objective interest for the German 
nationality, that for the Germans it is what the social 
sense is for the French. The reality aroused us," 
continues Bielinsky, and he sides with the French : 
" The social sense . . . that is my watchword. What 
does it matter to me that the Universal lives if the 
individual suffers? What does it matter to me that 
genius, on earth, inhabits the summits, if the crowd 
wallows in the mire? What does it matter to me that 
I understand the Idea, that the world of the Idea 
reveals itself to me in art, religion, and history, if I 
cannot share all this with those who should have been 
my brothers in the name of humanity . . . but who 
are strangers to me, and hostile, on account of their 
ignorance? What does it matter to me that happiness 
exists for an ilite, if the majority do not even suspect 
the possibility of happiness? Away with happiness, 
if it belongs to me alone amid thousands. I want 
none of it if it is not common to me and my brothers," 


Bielinsky applauded the criticisms brought against 
Hegel's conservative abstractions by the Hegelians of 
the " Left " ; he regarded these attacks M as the proof 
that even the Germans may possibly in the future 
become men and cease to be Germans." 

Bielinsky's opinion of French literature also under- 
went a transformation. He prostrated himself before 
Voltaire — * What a noble personality ! " he cried ; 
before George Sand also, "an inspired prophet, the 
vigorous champion of the rights of women " ; and he 
admired the Saint-Simonians. But he retained all his 
old independence of thought and judgment ; for 
example, he was up in arms against Rousseau, con- 
demning his personal life ; while in Auguste Comte 
he did not find even *' the traces of genius." 

In a letter dated 1847, he says of himself : "Mine 
in not a Russian character. I would not be a French- 
man even, though I love and esteem the French nation 
more than the rest. The Russian character is so far 
nothing but an embryo, but what strength and ampli- 
tude it contains 1 How stifling and horrible all 
mediocrity and narrowness seems to it ! " Bielinsky 
regards the spirit of criticism, protest, and negation 
as the most precious gift of the Russian mind, and 
in respect of his old ideas concerning reality he says : — 

" That which exists is reasonable. But a hangman 
exists, and his existence is reasonable and real ; never- 
theless it is abominable and repulsive. . . . Negation ; 
that is my god. In history my heroes are the destroyers 
of the things whose time is past : Luther, Voltaire, 
the Encyclopaedists, the French Terrorists, Byron (Cain), 
etc. Reason is for me, to-day, superior to the reason- 
able. This is why I set the blasphemies of Voltaire 
above all submission to authority and religion and 

This new phase in Bielinsky's intellectual develop- 
ment is most completely depicted in his Letter to 
Gogol, which will always remain among the most re- 
markable models of Russian literature, Gogol, a 


famous satiric writer, had himself condemned all his 
ideas concerning Russia, had retracted all the just 
accusations which he had made against her ills, and 
had exhorted the thinkers of Russia to mystic resigna- 
tion, humility, and reconciliation with the Orthodox 
Church and autocratic power. Bielinsky wrote him 
a crushing reply, in which he stated that " Russia 
beheld her salvation not in mysticism, nor asceticism, 
nor pietism, but in the success of civilization, enlighten- 
ment, and humanity." 

At the end of his days Bielinsky began to be influ- 
enced by the philosophy of Feuerbach, on the one hand, 
and by Fourierism, on the other. But in the spring 
of 1848 phthisis, that "malady of occupation" of 
Russian writers, brought him to the grave. Death 
came in time to save him from persecution. The 
Government of Nicolas I, which had no objection to 
Bielinsky's Hegelian conservatism, could not tolerate 
his later principles, and at the very hour when he 
lay dying the gendarmes came to his house to arrest 
him. But it was too late. 


I. Bakunin, the Germanophile and conservative. II. The Slavophiles 
— Their attitude toward the Europeanization of Russia. III. 
European element in the slavianophilstvo. IV. The Slavophiles 
and the zapadniki. V. Herzen's ideological and moral crisis. 

The intellectual and moral crisis undergone by 
Bielinsky was reproduced with individual variations in 
the case of a great number of his more eminent con- 
temporaries. His story is typical. Let us, for example, 
examine the path followed in his ideological develop- 
ment by the father of anarchism, Mikhail Bakunin. 
In his youth he belonged to the same circle as Bielinsky, 
over whom Bakunin exerted a very considerable influ- 
ence, inciting him to plumb the very depths of the 
metaphysical idealism of Germany. But he himself 
hesitated before none of the logical results of the 
Hegelian philosophy as he understood and interpreted 
it. In an article on Hegel, his apology for reality 
and his aversion for the French lead him perhaps even 
to greater lengths than those of which Bielinsky was 
guilty. He speaks with contemptuous irony of the 
empirical M philosophications " of Voltaire, Rousseau, 
Diderot, d'Alembert, and other French writers, who 
had assumed the gaudy and unmerited title of 
philosopher. He contrasts the peaceful and anti- 
revolutionary Germans with the turbulent and recrimi- 
native French. Expounding the difference between the 
mentality and the history of the Germans and those of 
the French, Bakunin condemns " the furious and 
sanguinary scenes of the Revolution," rejoicing that 



" the profound religious and aesthetic feeling of the 
German people" had saved it from the "abstract and 
illimitable " whirlwind which " shook France and all 
but destroyed her." Bakunin's reconciliation with 
reality was so complete that he sought to justify all 
ills and all suffering. M Yes," he writes, " suffering 
is good ; it is that purifying flame which transforms 
the spirit and makes it steadfast." 

At this period Bakunin had very conservative ideas 
respecting Russia and the duty of the Russians. He 
believed that the real education is that which "makes 
a true and powerful Russian man devoted to the Tsar," 
and that M reconciliation with reality in all its relations 
and under all conditions is the great problem of our 
day." Hegel and Goethe were, for him, " the leaders 
of this movement of reconciliation, this return from 
death to life." These leaders must therefore be fol- 
lowed, and the French ideals which are contrary to 
their teaching must be repudiated. " In France the 
last spark of Revelation has disappeared. Christen- 
dom, that eternal and immutable proof of the Creator's 
love for His creatures, has become an object of mockery 
and contempt for all. . . . Religion has vanished, bear- 
ing with it the happiness and the peace of France. 
. . . Without religion, there can be no State, and 
the Revolution was the negation of any State and of 
all legal order. . . . The whole life of France is merely 
the consciousness of the void. > . . ' Give us what is 
new — the old things weary us ' — such is the watchword 
of the young France. . . . The French sacrifice to 
the fashion, which has been their sole goddess from 
all time, all that is most holy and truly great in life." 

This " French malady," said Bakunin, had attacked 
the Russian intellectuals, who " filled themselves with 
French phrases, vain words, empty of meaning, killing 
the soul in the germ and expelling from it all that 
is holy and beautiful." It was therefore necessary 
that Russian society should " abandon this babbling " 
and ally itself with " the German world with its 


disciplined conscience " and " with our beautiful Russian 

One of Bakunin's Russian biographers has recently 
published a letter written in his youth to his parents. 
' The Russians are not French," he wrote ; " they love 
their country and adore their monarch, and to them his 
will is law. One could not find a single Russian who 
would not sacrifice all his interests for the welfare 
of the Sovereign and the prosperity of the father- 
land." ' If we compare this extreme conservatism with 
Bakunin's later opinions, and with his anarchist pro- 
paganda, which is too well known to call for mention 
here, we shall realize that the moral and intellectual 
crisis which Bakunin underwent was even more violent 
and more profound than it was in the case of Bielinsky. 
But we must not fail to remark that this crisis not 
only cured Bakunin of Germanophilia — it also explains 
why French ideas were finally triumphant over him. 
His transition from political and religious conservatism 
to anarchism, atheism, and other " subversive " 
doctrines coincides with a radical change in his 
way of regarding the conceptions of French and 
German thinkers. From a Germanophile and Franco- 
phobe he became a Francophile and Germanophobe. 
And as though he wished to advertise his change of 
front, he signed with a French pseudonym (Jules 
Elisard) the first article 2 in which he proclaimed his 
rupture with conservatism and his adhesion to the 
Hegelians "of the Left." 


The struggle between various European influences 
which has caused the individual development of nearly 
all the most remarkable minds of Russia has also 
given birth to, and greatly influenced, the two gTeat 

1 Cited from M. Kovalewsky's article in the Vicsinik Yevropy, 1915, x., 
Petrograd : The conflict of French and German influences at the end of 
the eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth, 

9 This article appeared in the Deutsche Jahrbiicher, in 1842, 


currents of Russian thought, Slavophilia and Occi- 

To study the stavianophilstvo we must resort more 
especially to the works of Konstantin Aksakov, who 
was, in the words of his biographer (M. Venguerov), 
"the militant advance-guard" of the movement. It 
was Aksakov who expounded the Slavophile ideals to 
the great public, while his co-religionists (the brothers 
Kireevsky, Khomiakov, and Samarin) devoted them- 
selves to historical, philosophical, religious, and other 
studies, and occasionally mitigated the Slavophile 
theory. Herzen said of Aksakov that he " was re- 
fractory, like every militant, for with a calm and 
deliberate eclecticism one cannot wage war." So in 
Aksakov we find the simplest, clearest, and most precise 
expression of Slavophilia. 

" The world has perhaps not seen as yet," says 
Aksakov, '•' that universal force, at the service of all 
humanity, which it will discover in the great Slav race, 
and in the Russians in particular." 

For Aksakov, as for other Slavophiles, " Russian 
history possesses the value of a sacred history. It 
will be read like a hagiography." The docile Russian 
people is the chosen people of God ; ¥ the doctrine of 
Christ is the profound basis of the life of the Russian 
people," and M the history of the people is the history 
of the only Christian people in the world." 

The Western State was founded on the coercion of 
servitude and antagonism, while in Russia the life 
of the people is of a totally different character ; 
" Russia is a wholly original country, which has no re- 
semblance to the European States." In the West the 
people has acquired the ideal of the State ; in Russia 
it is in love with a moral ideal. The most demo- 
cratic States of the West are those which shock Aksakov 
the most. In the United States, for example, he finds, 
" instead of the people, a State machine composed of 
men." The external order of the United States is 
brilliant, but " this brilliance is only superficial ; good 


order prevails there, but it is only the order of a 
machine." In other words, the democratization of the 
State does not lead to good results. * The Republic 
is the people's attempt to be itself the State, to 
transform itself, as a whole, into the State ; it has 
therefore striven to abandon once and for all the path 
of moral liberty and inward truth in order to enter 
upon the outer paths of ' statism.' " 

Russia took quite a different direction. " The Divine 
grace has descended upon Russia, who accepted the 
Orthodox faith, while the West followed the path of 
Catholicism." Unlike the West, "Russia did not adopt 
slavery ; she knows neither slavery nor liberalism. She 
is a free country. The West began by slavery, pro- 
ceeded with revolt, and boasts of her insolent liberalism, 
which is only the insolence of a slave." Law, duty, 
and the State, or, generally speaking, an " external 
dogma," prevails in the West ; while a free conscience 
and the inner truth prevail in Russia, where " the State 
has never seduced the people, nor flattered its dreams." 
" The West is accustomed to vice. There is a great 
difference between a sin and a vice. In ancient Russia 
there were sins, but no vices." 

According to Aksakov there was, in ancient Russia, 
no aristocracy and no paganism. " The State " never 
dominated " the soil." Only after the reforms of Peter 
the Great did the external norm of the West begin 
to subdue the internal norm of Russia. Aksakov 
cherished a genuine hatred of Peter the Great. He 
even devoted some verses to him, in which he describes 
him as follows : — 

O mighty genius, O bloodstained man, 

Far from the confines of the fatherland 

Thou standest erect in the blaze of a horrible glory 

With an axe covered with blood. 

In the name of utility and knowledge, 

Borrowed from an alien land, 

More than once thy powerful hands 

Were empurpled with the blood of thy people. 


All Russia, all her previous life 
By thee was misconceived, 
And upon thy stupendous work 
Is set the seal of malediction. 

Pitilessly didst thou repudiate Moscow, 
And far from the people 
Thou didst build a solitary city : 
No longer could you dwell together. 

In another poem, entitled The Return, Aksakov invites 
the Russians to return " home **A — 

Uprooted by a mighty hand, 

We have left our native country ; 

We have fled far away, enchanted by a foreign land, 

Despising the life of our own . . . 

The cloud has lifted ! Before our eyes 

Russia has reappeared. 

Ended, ended is the aching separation, 

The long-desired end of exile has come, 

The voices of our country flock into our souls, 

And our gaze is fixed, full of love, upon the East. 

// is time to turn homeward. Our natal soil awaits us, 

Our country, great in its speechless anguish. 

Aksakov recurs to this idea of the "■ return " in a 
later article : — 

" IWe must return to the principles of the native land. 
The path to the West is a false track ; it is shameful 
to follow it. Russians must be Russians, must take 
a Russian path, the path of faith, submission, and 
the inner life. . . . We must liberate ourselves wholly 
from the West, from its principles as well as its 
tendencies, its habits, and its morals ... in a word, 
from all that bears the imprint of its mind." 

The social and political life of Russia must not be 
based upon a Constitution of the European type, but 
on a moral understanding between the Government 
and the people. "To the Government, unlimited State 
authority ; to the people, full moral liberty. To 
the Government, the right to act and consequently to 


legislate ; to the people, the right to judge, and there- 
fore to speak." 

An " Assembly of the Soil " (Zemsky Sobor) con- 
voked by the Government, and having a consultative 
voice ; such was the only kind of " Constitution " 
admitted by Aksakov. 

" We shall be told," he writes, *' that the people 
and the authorities may betray one another ; there- 
fore a guarantee is necessary ! — No, no guarantee is 
necessary I A guarantee is an evil. When a guarantee 
is necessary nothing is well ; let life disappear rather 
when nothing is well." 

Regarding the manifestations of public opinion and 
liberty of speech as the principal right of the 
people, Aksakov presents a brilliant justification of 
this right : — 

" Nothing can be more harmful than the intrusion 
of brutal force in moral problems ; the only weapon 
of moral truth is free conviction, is speech." Speech 
is, for Aksakov, " the only sword of the spirit," " the 
banner of man upon earth." " Created by man, even 
as sound was created, all imbued with consciousness, 
speech animates the visible world and gives a body 
to the invisible." 

As a rule the Slavophiles of this period were not, 
subjectively speaking, reactionaries ; in their nationalistic 
and conservative romanticism we find many demo- 
cratic characteristics, the chief of which is the 
antithesis of the M simple " people and the " high 
society " corrupted by Europe. 

" The simple people is the basis of the whole social 
edifice of the country. Both the source of material 
welfare, and the source of inward power and inward 
life, and, lastly, the source of the national ideal, reside 
in the simple people." 

So it is throughout the world. But with us, in Russia, 
the rule of the " simple people " is greater than else- 
where, because with us '* the people alone is the 
guardian of the national and historical assizes of 


Russia ; it alone has not broken with the past, (with 
the ancient Russia." 

Aksakov speaks in very sarcastic terms of the 
educated and Europeanized society which he calls 
" the public," and which he contrasts with the " simple 
people." The scission between the " public " and the 
people is due to the reforms of Peter I. Before the 
building of Petersburg " there was no public in Russia ; 
there was the people." " The public constitutes our 
permanent tie with the West, and is only a deformation 
of the popular entity," says Aksakov. 

In a famous article published in 1857 Aksakov estab- 
lished this parallel between the " public " and the people 
in Russia : — 

" The public imports from oversea ideas and senti- 
ments, mazurkas, and polkas ; the people draws its 
life from its native source. The public speaks French ; 
the people Russian. The public wears foreign clothes ; 
the people the Russian costume. The public follows the 
Parisian fashions ; the people adhere to their Russian 
customs. The public still slumbers when the people 
has long been awake and at work. The public works 
(usually with its feet on a wood floor) while the people 
sleeps, or is already awakening to go to work anew. 
The public despises the people ; the people forgive) 
the public. The public is only a hundred and fifty years 
old ; the age of the people is untellable. The public 
passes away ; the people is eternal. In the public 
there is gold and dross ; in the people there is gold 
and dross; but in the public there is dross in the 
gold, and in the people there is gold in the dross." 

Alexander II, having read this article, found that 
it " was conceived in a bad spirit." 

In a poem, To a Humanitarian, Aksakov addresses 
these cultivated men and invites them to restore the 
ties between them and the people, to '*■ rediscover them- 
selves in the people," to '•' submit to the collectivity," 
informing them that " otherwise they are only impotent 
egoists, their fair-seeming life is void, their aspirations 
futile, and their dreams deceitful." 



It might be supposed that the Slavophile theory — 
so essentially nationalistic — was of national origin. But 
such a supposition would be erroneous. In reality 
the Russian slavianophilstvo is objectively far less 
remote from European ideals than its representatives 
were personally alienated from the West. 

Russian Slavophilia presents a close analogy with 
the romantic nationalism of the West. I do not share 
the opinion of Schulze-Gavernitz, who seeks to compare 
the Russian slavianophilstvo with European mercan- 
tilism. Mercantilism was a middle-class theory ; it 
appeared for the first time in Russia under Peter the 
Great, at the period of the first embourgeoisement . The 
Slavophiles were, on the other hand, the desperate 
enemies of bourgeois society, and of the bourgeois State 
of the Occident. This is precisely why they opposed 
the work of Peter I. Their dissertations on the evil 
of " written guarantees " and the necessity of a moral 
agreement between the rulers and the ruled -were merely 
an attempt to embellish their theory of a " paternal 
authority," a feudal theory dear to the seigneurs, who 
loved to regard themselves as the " fathers " of their 
serfs. And it is no fortuitous coincidence that these 
ideas were first professed just as serfdom and the 
seigneurial right were on the eve of abolition. 

Slavophilia is a Russian transformation of that 
romanticism which flourished all over Europe during 
the first half of the nineteenth century. 

" The mass of the public is accustomed to consider 
the birth of Slavophilia as a purely original and native 
phenomenon. . . . But the intellectual history of Europe 
proves that almost every country in its day was subject 
to a movement resembling our slavianophilstvo." This 
was the case with Bohemia, Poland, Denmark, Sweden, 
and above all in Germany, where, " combining their 
efforts, romantic poetry and philosophy prepared all 
the forces of the Germanophile movement : the idealiza- 



tion of the past, fortified by the cult of its memories, 
and the predominance of the religious principle in the 
legends and the life of olden times, lent its prestige to 
a morbid piety and mysticism ; the search after the 
providential mission, which is the raison d'etre of the 
German people, gave rise to the principle of inflated 
nationalism, by introducing the habit of resolutely con- 
demning everything that did not harmonize with this 
principle. . . . Instead of launching itself into the vast 
domain of an advance extending to the whole of 
humanity, thought confined itself within narrow limits, 
and there struggled as though in chains, denying the 
eternal law of the march onward and setting its ideals 
behind it. . . . We know what was the lamentable 
end of these romantics, with what a religious and 
political fanaticism they became imbued, becoming the 
faithful servitors of any reactionary government, and 
the inspiring cause of all the persecutions inflicted upon 
modern thought, which did not bow before their 
archaico-nationalist theories." ' 

The points of contact between the romantic philo- 
sophy of Germany and the slavianophihtvo of Russia 
are plainly visible. From Fichte the Slavophiles 
borrowed the comparison between internal truth and 
external truth ; from Schelling they acquired a sort 
of contempt for science, to which the German opposed 
artistic intuition, which they replaced by " the pro- 
fundity of the intuition of the Fathers of the Church, 
original and inaccessible to European minds, living and 
integral " ; an intuition preserved by the Orthodox 
Church and by the " simple people." From Hegel 
they borrowed the dogma of the people elected by God 
and by Him predestined to a lofty mission ; but while 
Hegel reserved this privilege for the German people, 
they claimed it for the Russians. 

If it were necessary, I could add biographical data 
which would tend to prove that the idealism and 

* Alexis Vcsclovsky, Western Influences in the New Russian Literature, 
pp. 1 85-6. 


romanticism of Germany had a direct effect upon the 
Russian Slavophiles. But I believe this point is suffi- 
ciently established. 


I must add that the best representatives of Slavo- 
philia, while preferring the M inner truth " of Russia 
to the " outward truth " of Europe, did not demean 
themselves by a blind hatred of Europe. According 
to Herzen, Ivan Kireevsky, the theorist of slaviano- 
philstvo, was " an admirer of liberty and of the great 
period of the French Revolution." Kireevsky himself, 
in one of his works, gives a synthesis of the Russian 
truth and the European truth. " The love of European 
civilization and the love of Russian civilization mingle 
at the latest point of their development and become the 
same love, the same aspiration toward a living civi- 
lization, complete, and embracing all humanity, and 
truly Christian." 

Later, the leaders of the Occidentalist movement were 
of opinion that there were far more points of simi- 
larity between the Slavophiles and the zapadniki than 
had been supposed. Herzen declared that Slavophilia 
and zapadnitchestvo were in reality but a Janus whose 
two faces looked in different directions, but which had 
but one heart. Herzen even asserted that " the Occi- 
dentalist party in Russia will only have the rank and 
the power of a social force when it masters the subjects 
and the problems which the Slavophiles have put into 

According to Herzen, Russian society saluted in the 
zapadniki " the thought of the West, burning with the 
desire for liberty, the desire for intellectual independ- 
ence, and the desire for conquest. Through the Slavo- 
philes it protested against the B ironic arrogance of 
the Petersburg Government, which wronged the senti- 
ment of nationalism." 

But all these comparisons were made at a later 
date ; we may even say that they were made too 


late ; for at the time of their origin the two great 
ideological movements of Russia were in violent con- 

The zapadniki of all shades became compacted by 
their condemnation of the Slavophiles. The Catholic 
Occidentalist Tshaadaev wrote as follows of their efforts 
to base their theory upon history and archaeology : — 

" Our fanatical Slavophiles may well, in their various 
researches, exhume from time to time curiosities for 
our museums or libraries, but it is, I think, permissible 
to doubt whether they will ever succeed in extracting 
from our history anything which will fill the void in 
our souls, or concentrate the vagueness of our minds." 

Tshaadaev criticized the Slavophilia of his day with 
extreme severity : — 

" A veritable revolution is taking place in our midst, 
and in our national thought ; a passionate reaction 
against the knowledge and the ideals of the West ; 
against that knowledge and those ideals which have 
made us what we are, and of which this very reaction 
is the fruit." 

Bielinsky was induced by his antipathy for the Slavo- 
philes to recommend his friends to break off all personal 
relations with them. " I am a Jew by nature," he wrote, 
"and I cannot sit at table with the Philistines." He 
believed the nationalist propaganda of the Slavophiles 
to be useless : " If a nation possesses internal forces 
it need not trouble about its national originality : this 
will express itself spontaneously and naturally." 
Stankievitch, Bielinsky's friend, writes as follows : 
"Why trouble about our nationality? We must aspire 
to the things which concern humanity at large ; what 
concerns the individual will come about despite our 

But this does not mean that the zapadniki were 
cosmopolitans and enemies of their country. Bielinsky 
states in one of his articles that " without nationalities 
humanity would be only a lifeless logical abstraction, 
a word without meaning, a sound without significance." 


V. Botkin, one of the most interesting zapadniki of 
his times, wrote to one of his friends : " The Slavo- 
philes have spoken a true word — which is, nationality. 
This is their great merit. They were the first to feel 
that our cosmopolitanism leads us only to empty argu- 
ment and idle babbling.' ... In general they were 
justified in their criticism. But their good qualities 
are confined to criticism. Directly they tackle a positive 
subject they display narrowness of mind, ignorance, 
an archaic mentality which is positively stifling, a mis- 
conception of the simplest principles of economic and 
political science, intolerance, obscurantism, etc." l 

The zapadniki could not endure the idealization of 
ancient Russia of which the Slavophiles were guilty, 
in the first place because it was contrary to reality 
and historic truth. Then the reconciliation with the 
past too readily degenerated into reconciliation with 
the present, which was by no means beautiful under 
Nicolas I, for all Russia was groaning under the heavy 
sceptre of the Byzantino- Prussian regime. If the feel- 
ings of the Slavophiles were injured because their adver- 
saries were often lacking in respect for the national 
past, the feelings of the zapadniki suffered even more, 
on account of the disdain which the Slavophiles professed 
for the " false " civilization of Europe and their obsti- 
nate belittlement of this civilization. 

We must not forget that Europe, as we have already 
observed, 2 was to the Russian Occidentalists of those 
days " the promised land," and they expected so much 
of the Europeanization of their country, they hoped 
such great things from it, that any attack upon the 
object of their cult was regarded by them almost as a 
personal outrage. 

1 I cite this letter and Bielinsky's letters from an excellent collection 
of documents relating to the Occidentalist movement in Russia, pub- 
lished in Russian under the title The Zapadniki from 1840 to 1850 
(Moscow, 1910). 

* See G. A. Alexinsky, Russia and Europe, trans. B. Miall (Fisher 
Unwin), pp. 388-528. 


On the other hand— and this is a point of great 
importance — the Slavophiles had " friends on the 
Right " as their auxiliaries in their conflict with the 
zapadniki. These reactionary nationalists, among whom 
we must mention more especially Professors Shevyrev 
and Pogodin, made very practical use of the theories of 
the Slavophiles. Although the best of the Slavophiles 
observed a certain moderation in their reprobation of 
the Occident, their " friends on the Right " professed 
without any mitigation that the West was " rotten," 
that Europe was " carrion," etc. 

The official and governmental world was also in- 
volved in the conflict, and sought to profit by it. 
Although it was shocked by the essential democracy 
of some of the Slavophiles, it found their conceptions 
far less dangerous than those of the Occidentalists. 
The government of Nicolas I was afraid of the example 
of Europe. Count Ouvarov stated that " all the Western 
peoples are changing their conditions of life," but that 
" Russia is still young and virgin," and " must not 
acquire a taste for sanguinary upheavals." " Russia's 
youth must be prolonged," he declared. " If I could 
keep Russia for fifty years aloof from what these theories 
are making ready for her, I should consider that my 
duty was accomplished, and I should die content." 

Ouvarov even conceived a theory of official con- 
servatism : Russia does not resemble the European 
States, and her life is based on three immovable foun- 
dations : autocracy, Orthodoxy, and the Russian nation- 
ality. For the salvation of this precious trinity the 
Government punished all aspirations toward independ- 
ence and progress, and employed against the zapadniki 
all the might of its police mechanism. 

Official nationalism did much to compromise the 
Slavophiles by its adhesion to their ideas, and often 
exploited them. The Slavophiles should not be held 
responsible for the somewhat indecent procedures of 
their " friends on the Right," and I do not share the 
opinion of tbo Czech Professor Masaryk, who goes 


so far as to say that the Slavophiles, " with the help 
of German philosophy, erected Uu,aio\ s programme 
into a system." ' Nevertheless, the heat of polemics 
might have resulted in a certain understanding, and 
the zapadniki were possibly not always without justifi- 
cation when they accused the Slavophiles of official 
and reactionary support, and asserted that they did not 
always hold themselves aloof from the nationalist 
Extreme Right. 

Thus the conflict between the two great currents 
of Russian thought became envenomed, and they could 
no longer co-exist in a peaceable manner. 


Occidentalism was no longer entirely homogeneous. 
Besides the Bakunin-Bielinsky-Stankievitsh group, the 
zapadniki were also represented by the circle of Herzen 
and Ogariov and their followers. Herzen has defined 
the difference between these two elements as follows : — 

" Between our group and that of Stankievitsh there 
was not a great deal of sympathy. Our tendencies, 
being almost exclusively political, did not please them. 
Theirs, being almost exclusively speculative, did not 
please us any better. They regarded us as Franch 
and fault-finders ; we regarded them as Germans and 

The French influence in Herzen and his friends was 
betrayed in the first place by a genuine cult of Saint- 
Simonism, of which we shall speak later on, and for 
George Sand. The latter possessed so great and so 
beneficent an authority that even Dostoievsky, who had 
none too much sympathy with France and French 
literature, glorified her at her death. 

" Oh, be sure, there will be people who will smile 
at the importance which I attribute to the influence 
of George Sand," he wrote, " but the scoffers will be 

• Th. G. Masaryk, Russland und Eurofa — Zur Russischcn Geschichis i 
und Religions Philosophic. Soziologischen Skizzen, vol. i. p. 200, (Jena, 


wrong. George Sand is dead. But all that made us 
feel, at the time of the poet's first appearance, that 
we were hearing a new voice, all that was universally 
human in her work, all this found an instant echo in 
our hearts, in our Russia. We experienced a profound 
and intense impression, which has not faded, and which 
proves that every European poet or innovator, every 
new and powerful thought coming from the West, 
inevitably becomes a Russian force." And Dostoievsky 
places George Sand among those European writers 
who " rising yonder, in the country of blessed miracles," 
have drawn to them, from our Russia, an enormous 
sum of thought, of love, of noble impulses, of pro- 
found convictions, of life." 

The ideas of George Sand and of the great French 
Utopian Socialists, to whom the memories of the French 
Revolution gave an added prestige, inspired the Russian 
zapadniki with a feeling of religious love and admira- 
tion. Herzen, speaking of this period in his Memoirs, 
states that " he illumined Europe with magical colours; 
he believed in Europe, and above all in France." 
Another great zapadnik, Soltykov-Shtshedrin, in spite 
of all his scepticism (he was a satirist), speaks of 
France with touching affection, and states that the 
France of George Sand, Saint-Simon, Louis Blanc, 
Cabet, and Fourier shed upon Russia the fair light of 
hope and the conviction that " the best years of 
humanity, its golden age, are not behind us, but before 

The influence of French thought upon Herzen's mind 
was not exclusive, as he succeeded in combining it 
with Hegelianism M of the Left " and the philosophy 
of Feuerbach. As for Hegelianism, Herzen appro- 
priated only its revolutionary algebra ; that is, the 
idea that nothing is immutable, and that every social 
condition contains the germs of a radical change. 

With an ardent faith in the West in general, and 
France in particular, with a faith no less ardent in a 
revolutionary cataclysm, Herzen went to Europe. Dis- 


illusion awaited him there. A brief sojourn abroad 
deprived him of all his enthusiasm and all his hopes. 
This he declared openly and with entire sincerity. He 
confessed that he was ashamed of his affection for 
Europe ; that he " blushed for his prejudices." The 
first origin of this disillusion was the events of 1848 
in France. The general check which the Revolution 
received throughout Europe intensified the crisis in 
Herzen's mind, which resulted in the publication of 
several remarkable works, notably his book From the 
other Shore, which is full of a veritable universal 

" We were young two years ago ; to-day we are 
old," wrote Herzen in 1850, describing the effect 
produced upon him by what he had seen in Europe. 
From that moment he renounced his old " belief in 
words and flags, in the deification of humanity and 
the illusion that salvation can only be effected by the 
Church of European civilization." For Herzen the West 
was dead. It was an old world from which nothing 
was to be expected. 

Then began Herzen's famous " return to Russia." 
He did not return to Russia in person, however, for 
until the end of his days he remained a political 
imigre, and he died far away from his country. His old 
confidence in Europe was replaced by his trust in the 
future of Russia. 

The Nationalists, the Slavophiles, the conservatives, 
and all the other Russian adversaries of Occidental- 
ism, sought to exploit Herzen's change of front in 
order to combat European ideals and the Euro- 
peanization of Russia. Strakhov, the friend of Leo 
Tolstoy, has devoted to Herzen quite the half of his 
curious work, The Struggle against the West in our 

" Herzen," says Strakhov, " was the first of our 
zapadniki to abjure the West, and he consequently 
lost his guiding line. He turned to the West in order 
to draw from it wisdom and moral perfection, and 


he understood, after long and patient research, that 
he could find nothing stable there, nothing positive." ' 

Strakhov sought to draw from this a deduction of 
a more general nature. In his opinion Herzen, by 
abandoning his illusions as to Europe, was continuing 
the genuine tradition of Russian literature. " Occi- 
dental civilization and ideals of European origin are 
not at bottom suited to Russia," says Strakhov. Russia 
may borrow from the West its " astronomy and mathe- 
matics " ; simple elementary truths, such as " two and 
two make four " ; but " as a whole " the spirit of 
Europe can be of no service to Russia, who must 
follow her own individual path. 

" For a long time now — very conspicuously since the 
time of Karamzin — every Russian writer of worth passes 
through intellectual changes, which in general are fairly 
similar. He begins by falling in love with European 
ideas, by seizing upon them greedily. Then comes 
disillusion, in one form or another, for one reason or 
another ; he doubts Europe and feels an antipathy for 
her principles. Lastly begins the return homeward, 
a love, more or less happy, for Russia, and it is in 
Russia that he seeks for the assured destiny, the solid 
foundations of thought and life." 2 

In support of his theory Strakhov cites the names 
of Karamzin, Griboiedov, Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoievsky, 
and Tolstoy ; " all," he says, " have passed along this 

These examples differ too greatly to be convincing. 
We know that Karamzin, at the end of his life, became 
a conservative and anti-Occidentalist. But this fact 
cannot be regarded as characteristic of every Russian 
writer, because it was due to causes of a general kind 
which at that period were in operation all over Europe ; 
there was everywhere, at that time, a movement of 
reaction, the inevitable result of the events of the French 
Revolution. As for Griboiedov, he was by no means 

• N. Strakhov, TheStruggle against the West in our Literature, p. 83. 

* Ibid. p. 94. 


an anti-Occidentalist. Although the hero of his im- 
mortal comedy, Tshatsky, fulminates against the abuse 
of a " vain, servile, and blind imitation of Europe," 
he is not referring to European civilization, but the 
false imitation, the caricature of this civilization which 
is offered by Russian fashionable society. And he 
attacks with even greater energy those representatives 
of a pretended " national civilization " who want to 
" replace Voltaire by a sergeant-major." In a letter 
to a friend Griboiedov complains bitterly of the painful 
lot of " an impassioned dreamer in a country of eternal 
snows." As for Pushkin, Strakhov's error is even 
greater ; Pushkin, to the last day of his too brief 
life, remained a convinced Occidentalist ; never did 
he condemn European civilization. Moreover, Pushkin 
was, without doubt, the most national and the least 
nationalistic of the Russian poets. He had a " uni- 
versal mind," as Dostoievsky very justly remarked, which 
combined a capacity for universal sympathy with the 
essential traits of the true Russian character. 

" What has the reform of Peter the Great meant for 
us? " writes Dostoievsky in his lecture upon Pushkin. 
" Has it not meant merely the introduction of European 
costume, European science and inventions? Let us 
consider. Perhaps Peter the Great undertook his 
reform, in the first place, with a purely utilitarian 
aim ; but later he certainly obeyed a mysterious feeling 
which induced him to prepare a vast future for Russia. 
The Russian people itself saw at first nothing but 
material and utilitarian progress, but it soon under- 
stood that the effort which it was being forced to make 
was to lead it farther and higher. We soon attained 
to the conception of universal human unification. Yes, 
the destiny of Russia is Pan-European and universal. 
To become a true Russian means, perhaps, only to 
become the brother of all men, the universal man, if 
I may so express myself. This division between 
Slavophiles and Occidentals is only the result of a 
gigantic misunderstanding. A true Russian is as much 


interested in the destinies of Europe, in the destinies 
of the whole great Aryan race, as in those of Russia. 
. . . Yes, all Russians in future will realize that to 
show oneself a true Russian is to seek a real basis of 
reconciliation of all the European contradictions." 

This quotation is highly typical of Dostoievsky 
himself, who, in his best moments, was able to rise 
above nationalistic exclusiveness. I may observe in 
passing that we cannot draw any comparison between 
the defection of Dostoievsky and the disillusionment 
of Herzen, for between Dostoievsky the member of the 
Fourierist club and Dostoievsky the believer and con- 
servative lies an interval of several years' detention in 
a " house of death," that is, in a convict prison. His 
case is almost pathological. Still more pathological 
is the case of Gogol, another instance of which Strakhov 
boasts. Just before his death Gogol, suffering from a 
mental malady, fell into the power of a monk, de- 
nounced all his " liberal " opinions, condemned his 
satirical works, burned his manuscripts, and invited 
Russian thought to kneel before the political reaction 
and the Orthodox Church. 

Neither can any logical comparison be drawn between 
Gogol's crisis and that of Herzen. Herzen, until his 
death, remained the determined enemy of the political 
and religious reaction. He adored neither the autocracy 
nor the Orthodox Church, and he was convinced that 
the " Germano-Byzantine " combination of the two was 
one of the chief causes of the popular woes and 

And Leo Tolstoy? In the first place no comparison 
is possible between him and Gogol or Dostoievsky,. 
The latter, impelled toward conversion by exceptional 
circumstances, became good servants of the Tsar and 
faithful children of the Church. Tolstoy, on the other 
hand, broke with the autocracy and with Orthodo 
and was persecuted by the one while he was excom- 
municated by the other. Moreover, Tolstoy never po 
as the enemy of European civilization, as Russia's 


hostility toward Europe was quite foreign to him. He 
thought not of this or that nation, but of humanity 
in general. The problems which he attacked were 
far more general than those of the Nationalists. They 
were the problems of progress, of human civilization 
in general, which Rousseau had already discussed in 
a different manner. 

We may say, therefore, that Strakhbv was mistaken 
in interpreting the task of Russian literature as a 
" struggle against the Occident," and in degrading 
it to the level of a narrow nationalism. 

As for the revolution which Herzen underwent, this 
was the origin of it : Herzen himself admits that before 
leaving for Europe he knew nothing of it, and had 
embellished it with " marvellous colours." It had for 
him the attraction of a " forbidden fruit." (It will be 
remembered that the Government of Nicolas I sought 
to withdraw Russia from the intellectual attraction of 
Europe, and above all, from that of France.) On 
beholding in reality this Europe, of which he had 
formed too fair an image, Herzen was disappointed. 
What struck him and angered him most was the 
crushing of the labour movement in France in 1848 
and the fusillades in Paris. What an overwhelming 
experience for this man, who was steeped in the 
Utopian socialism of France, and who had devoted 
himself to its cult with the fervour which only the 
Russians can feel for that revelation which reaches 
them through the writings of foreigners ! For, as 
Dostoievsky said, if I mistake not, " what to a European 
scholar is only a hypothesis is an axiom for a youthful 

Herzen had received the advanced ideas of the West 
as absolute dogmas, as axioms. Although he believed 
that he understood the dialectic algebra of Hegel, the 
true laws of historical evolution escaped him. He was 
convinced that all was ready in Europe for the reign 
of Utopian socialism (which he, of course, did not 
regard as Utopian). His hopes having been deceived, 


he asked himself whether his ideal was false or whether 
Europe was incapable of realizing it. We know the 
reply : he did not condemn his ideal, but Europe. 

For the rest, the ideal of political and economic 
enfranchisement professed by Herzen and his friends 
was not of Russian origin, but had come to them from 
the Occident. 

Thus we cannot say that Herzen was an anti- 
Occidentalist. If he condemned contemporary Europe, 
it was because Europe had failed to keep its promises, 
because it remained inferior to its own ambitions. 

Herzen did not extend his condemnation to Western 
ideas ; he confined it to men and to situations. This 
is where he differed so profoundly from many of the 
" penitents " and " converts," and from Dostoievsky in 
particular, who followed the Slavophiles in contrast- 
ing the M Russian ideal " with the " European ideal," 
as two essentially contrary things. 

Herzen's " return to Russia " was not an abdica- 
tion. In his own words, he " was saved from the 
despair which the events of 1848 would have inspired 
in him by his faith in Russia." But what was this 
faith? Dostoievsky, returning from Siberia, became 
the admirer of the people and its prejudices ; he shared 
— whether sincerely or not — all its simple beliefs, its 
primitive cult for the Tsar, the Orthodox Church, etc. 
Herzen did not give way to the superstitions of the 
people ; he chose other objects of admiration, notably 
the mlr, the rural commune, in which he saw the 
embryo of a future " socialization " of Russia. 

The real secret of Herzen's " return to Russia " 
is revealed by Herzen himself in his open letter to 
Michelet. * 4 The man of the future in Russia is the 
moujik, just as in France he is the artisan." 

This aphorism dates from 1851, three years later 
than the Revolution of 1848.; so that we cannot say 
that Herzen had entirely lost his confidence in Europe. 
He was disappointed by the " old " bourgeois Europe, 
which he regarded as embourgeoisi to excess ; but 


he continued to count on the future of working-class 
socialism . 

It is especially significant that Herzen placed the 
Russian moujik on a level with the French artisan, in 
whom, for him, the very idea of progress, liberation, 
and revolution was incarnated. He did not believe 
that the Russian moujik was reduced to a destiny 
of submissiveness and resignation. He proposed for 
the moujik the aim of the European socialist artisan ; 
the end was the same ; the only difference was in the 
ways and means of attaining it. Herzen believed that 
Russia, thanks to the existence of the rural mir, would 
establish the socialist state without previously passing 
through the capitalist phase of evolution. 

Many more beside Strakhov have sought to rank 
Herzen with the anti-Occidentalists, and above all with 
Dostoievsky, but in vain. There was nothing of the 
narrow-minded nationalist about Herzen. While 
Dostoievsky often demeaned himself by anti-Semitism, 
Herzen remained always superior to blind chauvinism, 
even during the Polish insurrection of 1863. At that 
terrible period, when the Russian soldiers and the in- 
surgents were battling in the forests of Poland, he 
pronounced in favour of the Polish cause, together with 
the whole of democratic Europe, although he ran the 
risk of alienating a portion of his Russian readers, and 
did, indeed, so alienate them. 

The mental and spiritual contrast between Herzen 
and Dostoievsky is most strikingly revealed in that 
chapter of the Diary of an Author in which Dostoievsky 
speaks of Herzen with barely concealed irritation, calling 
him ironically a " citizen of the world." Well, Herzen 
was a citizen of the world in the best sense of the 
term, and as such he could not be either anti-Russian 
or anti-European. This he understood perfectly well, 
and he himself said that for the Slavophiles he was 
a man of the Occident, while for the zapadniki he 
was a man of the Orient. 


I. Dostoievsky and his contradictory qualities. II. The disintegra- 
tion of the slavianophihtvo — Katkov, Pobiedonostzev and Leontiev. 
III. The Occidental sources of reactionary nationalism in Russia. 


Dostoievsky was the only Slavophile of the " second 
ban " who was able to maintain the ideals of that 
school at a certain level. This, perhaps, was precisely 
because he was not a pure Slavophile. This he could 
not be, for the true Russian Slavophilia is a product 
of the seigneurial mentality, while Dostoievsky was 
a true representative of the middle-class intellectual 
world, the world of the declasses, which constitutes, 
according to Klutshevsky's remarkable definition, " the 
fluid element of Russian society." And as such, 
Dostoievsky united in himself ideals which were often 
highly discordant. He condemned the revolutionary 
movement as foreign to the popular spirit and anti- 
national. He even went so far as to represent the men 
of the advance-guard as a sort of herd of swine, in- 
habited by demons, capable only of committing insane 
actions and of destroying themselves. At the same 
time, he remained the admirer of Bielinsky, George 
Sand, Byron, and many other extremely " subversive " 
personalities. He attacked European civilization, 
stating that " the people would never welcome a 
Russian as one of themselves." But when the con- 
servatives demanded that the " false light " of Europe 
should not be allowed to shine upon the people, and 
sought to suppress public instruction as the instrument 
of Europeanization, Dostoievsky protested against these 



ideas and proved that they served none but those who 
were exploiting them. ' The character of the Russians 
differs so greatly from that of all the other European 
nations that their neighbours are really incapable of 
understanding them." v Russia is a country which 
resembles Europe in nothing. . . . How can you expect 
Russia to be enthusiastic about a civilization which 
she has not created? " 

You will often find such aphorisms in Dostoievsky's 
works. And in addition to these there are many which 
are totally different, and which reject all ideas of a 
chauvinistic nature. We have already seen, for example, 
that he attributed to the Russians a pan-human and 
universal destiny. To this idea he frequently returns. 
*'' In Russia," he writes, M the impenetrability and in- 
tolerance of Europe does not exist. Russia finds it 
easy to accommodate herself to universal influences, 
to assimilate all ideas. . . . The Russian is able to 
speak all foreign languages, thoroughly seizing the spirit 
of them, grasping the finer shades, as though they 
were his own : a faculty unknown to the other European 
peoples, at all events as a universal national faculty." 
This faculty of assimilation is greatly valued by 
Dostoievsky, and — which distinguishes him profoundly 
from the Slavophiles — he sings the praises of Peter 
the Great as an eminent representative of this faculty, 
and says of him that " he understood, by the intuition 
of genius, the true mission of his country, and the 
necessity of enlarging its field of action." We are a 
long way from Aksakov and his maledictions of Peter 
the Great ! 


But in spite of all the powers of his genius, 
Dostoievsky did not exercise a marked influence over 
the younger generation of his time, nor over the Pleiad 
of the " Slavophiles of the first ban," the brothers 
Aksakov, Kireevsky, Khomiakov, and Samarin. In 
1862 the "new master of nineteenth-century thought," 



the leader of the " thinking realists " and the positivist 
zapadniki, Dimitri Pisarev, described the Slavophiles 
as " Russian Don Quixotes," and according to him a 
sensible man would not even waste his time in arguing 
with them. In his article on the works of Ivan 
Kireevsky, Pisarev stated that Slavophilia was a psycho- 
logical phenomenon, due to the fact that the Slavs 
wanted to love and believe ; now, as in real life 
nothing was deserving of love or of faith, they had 
to idealize the reality. " Slavophilia is the Russian 
Quixotism ; where there are but windmills the 
Slavophiles see armed knights." ' 

Although on its romantic side Slavophilia seemed 
entirely inoffensive, even to the Nihilists of i860 to 
1870, it contained other elements which were leading 
it toward a more and more emphatic conservatism and 
toward degeneration. The first Slavophiles were 
" archaeological liberals," as some one has called them, 
and they demanded the moral support of " the old 
Russia " in order to combat the injustice and oppres- 
sion to which a Prussianized bureaucracy was sub- 
jecting the people ; but their successors were 
archaeological, or perhaps we should say archaic, 
reactionaries . 

This deviation from the old Slavophilia, caused above 
all by the development of the general reaction 
at the end of the reign of Alexander II and under 
Alexander III, involved even those of the first 
Slavophiles who had the misfortune to survive. Such 
was Ivan Aksakov (brother of Konstantin), who, at 
the beginning of the reign of Alexander III, violently 
opposed all liberal or democratic elements as a 
European intrusion. 

The leaders of the Slavophiles described the West 
as '■' rotten," and proclaimed the necessity of keeping 
Russia untouched by European progress. The partisans 
of official nationalism drew practical deductions from 
this judgment. Katkov, Leontiev, and Pobiedonostzev 
1 D. Pisarev, Works, vol. ii. p. 234 (Petersburg, 1894). 


constructed a complete 4, ' , true Russian " system, a system 
which was Orthodox, autocratic, and nationalist. 1 

Katkov, an old disciple of Hegel and Schelling, 
a member of the circle of Stankievitch and Bielinsky, 
and afterwards (from 1856 to i860) a moderate liberal 
and Anglomaniac, was after 1861 the theorist of the 
reaction. Russia, he said, had no need of European 
reforms ; she needed a strong State, based on national 
union, a single language, a single religion, and the 
rural mir . No adhesion of Russia to the ideals of 
the Occident was possible or desirable. Instead of 
striving to Europeanize Russia, an attempt should be 
made to Russify all the heterogeneous elements in- 
habiting the Empire, which were already affected by 
the policy of " Europeanization." The execution of 
this programme would mean a desperate struggle 
against all the non-Russian and unorthodox nations 
(especially against the Poles and Finns) and against 
the world of thought (and especially against the 
students), the builders of Occidental chimeras, who were 
strangers to the true Russia. 

Pobiedonostzev and Leontiev expounded more par- 
ticularly the " moral " and religious side of the con- 
servative and nationalist system. In his Muscovite 
Miscellany, Pobiedonostzev attributed a divine origin 
to the autocracy. " One of the falsest political prin- 
ciples," he wrote therein, " is that of the sovereignty 
of the people." Such was the false idea which had 
M unhappily been diffused since the French Revolu- 
tion " ; the idea that " all power should emanate from 
the people and should be subject to the popular will." 
Hence was derived M the theory of parliamentarism, 
which hitherto has led into error the mass of those 
who are known as intellectuals, and which has pene- 
trated, unhappily, our crazy Russian heads." "We 
find in France an example of the bad effects of 
parliamentarism," says Pobiedonostzev. "In France 

* Compare Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationalism with Liberty, 
Equality, and Fraternity (Tr.). 


nationalist thought is gTeatly demoralized, and the 
political sense of the whole nation is enfeebled." 
England " is already attacked by the same malady." ' 
Constitutional and parliamentary institutions and 
guarantees — this is the evil from which Russia must 
be saved, says Pobiedonostzev, echoing the old Slavo- 
philes. But while Aksakov and his co-religionists 
allowed the people " liberty of opinion," Pobiedonostzev 
opposes this liberty. Abstractions and general prin- 
ciples, especially those inculcating liberty, equality, and 
fraternity, " with all their applications and ramifica- 
tions," are to him detestable. He opposes the Press, 
the schools, and all that might contribute to the awaken- 
ing and enfranchisement of thought. The only educa- 
tion which is truly national and admissible in Russia 
consists in " maintaining mankind in rigorous submis- 
sion to order." 2 This is the business of the State 
authority, which is " great, terrible, and holy." 

The " true Russian " conservative doctrines were 
most completely expressed by Konstantin Leontiev 
( 1 831-91). In his youth he was an adept in " George- 
Sandism," which he later declared to be "diabolical." 
Then he became a convert to Orthodox mysticism, 
and inaugurated the theory of Russian Byzantism. 
In the domain of morals he prescribed the abso- 
lute submission of the individual to the laws of 
the Church — not of the Christian Church in general, 
but of the Orthodox Church. For him Christianity was 
not love and charity, but the fear of God. Human 
nature is corrupt and evil. Only a salutary fear, a 
severe discipline, and punishment can correct it. "It 
is a lie to represent the idea of God as being that of 
love. Faith in God is a yoke which should be borne 
with humility. Autocracy is a Divine institution, and 
the power of the Tsar should inspire the same fear 
in his subjects as that which the power of God inspires 

in believers." 


1 K. Pobiedonostzev, Movk&wskii Sbornik (The Muscovite Miscellany), 
pp. 30-31 (2nd ed., Moscow, 1896). ■ Ibid. p. 86. 


Science and the education of the people are useless!, 
because they do not lead to the knowledge of God ; 
they are even harmful, because they destroy the 
religious conscience. All progress, all novelties are 
superfluous and maleficent, not excepting even the 
mere knowledge of reading and writing. 

Leontiev invented a theory of the ages of humanity. 
In Europe, the period of the gTeat migrations of the 
peoples was youth ; the Middle Ages was maturity. 
At the end of the eighteenth century, with " atheist " 
philosophy and the Revolution, Europe entered into 
decrepitude and is approaching death. The same fate 
threatens Russia ; to avoid it, Russia must be " con- 
gealed," must be maintained in a refrigerated condition, 
so that she shall be unable to live and develop. Down 
with all reforms : away with Europeanization 1 ■ 

Happily, Leontiev's fantastic ideal was not realized ; 
economic evolution, on the one hand, and European 
penetration, on the other, have relegated it to the 
world of dreams, and Russia, frozen at the end pf 
the nineteenth century, is now, in the early years pi 
the twentieth century, thawing and beginning' to live 
again . 


It is particularly interesting to note that national 
and anti-Occidental conservatism owe their existence 
very largely to that Europe which their prophets so 
hate and detest. We have already seen that the first 
Slavophiles were the nurslings of German philosophy. 
Those that followed them were even more dependent 
upon Europe. Vladimir Soloviev, with his remarkable 
knowledge of Occidental philosophy, was able to demon- 
strate this fact with ease and in a manner which left 
nothing to be discussed. 

Thus the Slavophiles of the second ban — that is, of 

■ The conceptions of Leontiev and other anti-Occidental reaction- 
aries have been excellently described by Professor Masaryk {Eurofa 
und Russland, vol. ii. Part IV). 


the Last quarter of the nineteenth century — found their 
gospel and their textbook in Danilevslcy's Russia and 
Europe, a work which caused a great sensation and 
was accepted as essentially original. It depicts the 
" types of civilization " which characterize the develop- 
ment of the various peoples. No communion is possible 
between these " types," which are separated one from 
another as though by impassable walls. Hence it 
follows that Russia, representing a particular type of 
civilization, will never be able to " Europeanize " 
herself . 

Now this theory, as Vladimir Soloviev has proved, 
is borrowed in its entirety from the German historian 
Heinrich Ruckert. Danilevslcy's work is merely " a 
Russian copy of the German original," asserts Soloviev, 
and he proves his accusation by quotations. 

" The supposedly Russian and original theory which 
was to annihilate all European theories of the science 
of history is in reality only a poor copy of a German 
theory, published twelve years earlier. Of course, the 
theory of the German scientist is neither improved 
nor worsened for being restated by a Russian writer, 
and by him enlarged by means of pseudo-patriotic 
additions. But those conceptions of Danilevsky's which 
amount to a denial of our spiritual ties with Europe 
are gravely compromised by the fact that in order to 
justify them in theory, or rather to seem to do so, he 
was forced to borrow one of the second-rate products 
of the German mind." • 

For the nationalists of the Extreme Right, Katkov, 
Pobiedonostzev, and Leontiev, the essential and most 
" national " portion of their ideas was provided, as 
Soloviev has shown, by the Catholic reactionaries, and 
in particular by Joseph de Maistre. 

" The Russian disciples of Joseph de Maistre, instead 
of speaking in the name of their master, have spoken 
in the name of the Russian people, who, however, have 

* V. Soloviev, "A German original and a Russian copy" {Works, 

AOl. V. p. 294). 


never or in any manner expressed any sympathy with 
the doctrine of the Savoyard squire. In our past and 
in our present there are assuredly many things which 
correspond with the principles of Joseph de Maistre. 
But the truth is that the Russian people as a whole 
has never constructed absolute truths out of certain 
episodes or characteristics of its life. It has never 
made idols of its national defects, or of the necessities 
to which it has been subjected. Yes ; individuality 
and the social relations are not gTeatly developed in 
Russia ; the precepts of law and justice are not yet 
rooted in our minds, and because of this (as some 
one has remarked) honest men are more uncommon 
than saints in Russia. All this is true. The faithful 
votaries of Joseph de Maistre believed that things must 
be so ; but does the Russian people believe it also? That 
is another question." * 

As Soloviev very justly observes, the only originality 
of the pseudo-nationalist and anti-Occidentalist thinkers 
of Russia is that it seeks to clothe European thought 
in a tattered Tartaro-Byzantine " kaftan." 

1 V. Soloviev, "Slavophilia and its degeneration" (Works, vol. v. 
p. 220). 


I. The zafadnitshevstvo triumphant. II. Nihilism — Its European 
origin — Dobrolubov and Pisarev — The " destruction of aesthetics" 
— Nihilism and anarchism — Pisarev's opinion of the French and 
English — The social problem and "aesthetics." III. Tshernyshevsky 
— His materialism — The popularization of Occidental ideas — 
Tshernyshevsky and Feuerbach — The secularization of Russian 
thought — English influences. 


To-day Slavophilia may be regarded as dead. It is 
true that from time to time a Russian politician or 
author attempts to exhume its remains and warm it 
back to life by means of heady rhetoric. But such 
attempts are idle, for the social, economic, and political 
bases of the old Slavophilia have disappeared. They 
no longer exist either in the interior of Russia, where 
bourgeois relations have taken the place of the old 
" patriarchal " system, nor in the rest of the Slav world. 
This outer Slav world is more fully Europeanized than 
Russia herself. 

Lately an attempt was made to revive the Slavophile 
formulas in order to embellish the Imperialist tendencies 
professed in certain circles (happily not numerous) of 
the Russian bourgeoisie ; notably the claim to hegemony 
in the Balkans and the conquest of Constantinople, 
which the speeches of the Neo-Slavophiles represented 
as the " communion " of Russia with the Divine Wisdom 
(in allusion to St. Sophia of Byzantium). But orators and 
audience were well aware how little all this archaic 
phraseology was adapted to the tendencies of modern 
Imperialism. No one will be able to revive the old 



Slavophilia. Occidentalism remains the sole master of 
the battlefield. But the zapadnitshestvo of to-day is 
no longer the Occidentalism of Bielinsky's days and 
Herzen's. That also has passed through a develop- 
ment which has not led it to its death, as was the case 
with the old Slavophilia, but which has subjected it to 
great transformations. 

Let us glance at this latter phase of its history. 


The great poet Nekrassov has said of the Russian 
intellectual : — 

What the latest book has told him 
Will remain on the surface of his heart. 

This means that he will always be in love with the last 
idea with which he has made acquaintance, and that 
previously acquired ideas will be easily forgotten. 

There is an undeniable justice in this observation ; 
the currents of thought in Russia often displace one 
another with extreme suddenness. The history of 
Russian Occidentalism proves this statement, but it 
also shows us that in spite of these frequent and sudden 
changes of what has for a moment prevailed, something 
always remains, I do not say immovably, but it does 
remain, more or less stable, and it constitutes the 
national peculiarity of our Occidentalism. 

The first great turning on the road followed by the 
zapadniki was reached at the '* Period of the Great 
Reforms," or during the M 'sixties," which formed the 
period so named in Russia. 

This was the period of " Nihilism." In my Modern 
Russia I have described the general character of Russian 
Nihilism, and its social origins. But I have not spoken 
there of the European influences which have affected 
it, and which were extremely potent. One may even say 
that the basis of Nihilism is a determined struggle of 


European ideas against the old principles and ancient 
forms of Russian life. 1 

Nihilism had three protagonists: Dobrolubov, 
Pisarev, and Tshernyshevsky. All three were con- 
vinced Occidentalists . Dobrolubov (born in 1836, died 
of phthisis in 1861), a literary critic of high talent, 
was the disciple of European authors. One of his 
friends said that " Dobrolubov, during the years which 
determined the shaping of his intellect, was nourished 
upon our great Occidental masters. Books and articles 
written in Russian might please him, might delight him, 
but they could not possibly furnish him with the know- 
ledge and the information which he owed to his reading." 

One may object that Dobrolubov was not a true 
" Nihilist " and " negator." These qualifications would 
apply rather to Pisarev (1841-68). Dead at the age 
of twenty-seven, Pisarev wrote only for nine years, 
of which four were passed in prison (on account of the 
publication of a "subversive" article). In this brief 
space of time he succeeded in writing some thousands 
of pages which were destined to propagate " Nihilism," 
and pisarev shtshina has become synonymous for 
Nihilism par excellence. 

kWhat was Pisarev's Nihilism? 

In the first place, he rejected what was, for the 
zapadniki, the most conspicuous trait of the preceding 
generation: idealistic philosophy and "aesthetics." 
Pisarev displays a profound contempt for " the husk 
of Hegelianism " with which the ideals of Bielinsky, 
his predecessor, were covered. But it was especially 
" aestheticism " which he attacked. In his efforts to 
destroy it he went so far as to describe our gv< 
poet Pushkin as a " sublime critin" and asserted that 
Beethoven had the same social value as a skilful chess 
or billiard player. 

' I insist on this point because certain foreign writers have mis- 
understood the real nature of Russian Nihilism, and have represented 
it as rejecting all European culture in general and all French culture 
in particular. M. Haumant has not avoided this error (see pp. 500-3 
of hi* Culture frattfaise en Russie). 


However, M. Haumant commits a sensible error in 
comparing Pisarev's Nihilism to negation for nega- 
tion's sake, or even to the anarchism of Bakunin. 
Pisarev was not by any means an anarchist, and 
had no idea of contesting the raison d'etre of the State. 
This is clearly proved by his article on the Historical 
Ideas of Auguste Comte, in which the parallel estab- 
lished by Comte between the political institutions of 
continental Europe and those of England is compared 
with the parallel drawn by Buckle. Now, Pisarev 
ranged himself on the side of Buckle, and wrote as 
follows : — 

' The Anglomania cultivated in France by the dis- 
ciples of Montesquieu and the co- religionists of Guizot, 
and with us by a certain school of moralists and pro- 
fessors, has excited an extremely strong reaction against 
it, which in its turn has gone too far, or at least has 
assumed a false direction. Of course, it is absurd to 
prescribe the British Constitution as a panacea for all 
social evils ; it would be unreasonable to transplant 
upon the European Continent institutions under whose 
protection all the beauties of a colossal pauperism have 
blossomed. It was necessary to denounce, with the 
utmost energy, the social maladies of England, in 
which these doctrinaires beheld a Paradise. But it 
would not have sufficed to content oneself with mere 
reprobation. It was enough merely to say, without more 
ado, that there was much evil in England, without 
inferring that this evil did not exist, or was less, on the 
Continent. To set any continental country whatsoever 
above England, or even to pass over the enormous 
advantages which distinguished England from all other 
European countries, would have been to fall into a very 
perilous and harmful paradox. ... To convince one- 
self of this it will suffice to glance at the gravest evil 
of English life — its pauperism. The condition of the 
British labourer is extremely painful, it is true. But, in 
the first place, the position of the French working-man 
is no better ; secondly, in England there are uiconr- 


parably greater resources for a satisfactory solution of 
the labour question than in France, or in any other 
continental country. These conditions are due to the 
fact that the English are in the habit of managing their 
own affairs, and enjoy the greatest political and civil 
liberty . 

" It has often happened to me to read or hear disser- 
tations as to the indifference with which a man dying of 
starvation would regard political rights and guarantees. 
These dissertations are correct if the man is literally 
dying of starvation or some other evil ; for example, of 
dropsy or phthisis. In this case, indeed, he is not 
interested in a Constitution, nor in political meetings, 
nor in the Habeas Corpus Act, nor in the liberty of the 
Press. But for a man who is living and who enjoys a 
certain degree of health, who struggles like a fish under 
the ice, who makes every effort to better his position 
and to escape from a crushing poverty, the laws and 
customs of the country in which he must live and labour 
are of great importance." ' 

As we see, Pisarev has nothing in common with the 
anarchists, who are adversaries of the principle of the 
State, and for whom all States and all Constitutions are 
the same. 

In the same article Pisarev compares the political 
mentality of the French with that of the English (we 
must remember that this article was written in 1865, 
that is, in the time of Napoleon III) : — 

" The French know how to conquer, but after victory, 
when the last barricade has disappeared, they hasten to 
put all their hopes in one father or protector, no matter 
whom, who, to reward their simplicity, will not fail to 
force them, a few years later, to erect new barricades, 
which will evoke new hopes and a new ingenuousness. 
. . . Until that day the Frenchman is reduced to 
repeating : * If the Committee knew ! If the Consul 
knew I If the Emperor knew ! If the King knew ! 
If the President knew 1 ' . . . As for the Englishman, he 
* Pisarev, Works, vol. v. p. 432. 


is familiar with rights, which are necessary to him, to 
such a point that without them life itself is impossible 
to him." l 

To complete our demonstration that Pisarev, what- 
ever one may wish to discern in him, was not in any 
case an anarchist, I will quote a passage from his 
article on The Realists, which is his profession of 
faith : — 

44 To arouse public opinion and to form conscious 
leaders of popular labour, this is to open to the labour- 
ing majority the wide and fruitful road of intellectual 
development. But to accomplish these two tasks, on 
which the whole future of the people depends, it is 
^necessary to act exclusively upon the cultivated classes 
of society. The fate of the people is decided not in 
the primary schools but in the Universities." 2 

Wherein does this intellectual aristocracy resemble 
the glorification of ,4 holy ignorance " which we find 
in Bakunin? 

And why does Pisarev fall foul of 44 aesthetics "? 
Because he prefers positive science and social utili- 

44 We shall try to destroy aestheticism in order to con- 
centrate the attention and the intellectual energies of 
society upon a minimum of imperious and unavoidable 
objectives of primordial importance," writes Pisarev. 
These objectives are, on the one hand, the destruction 
of all routine and all prejudices, and on the other hand 
the moral and material uplifting of the masses. All 
this may be accomplished by the aid of the positive and 
natural sciences. Pisarev sings a veritable hymn in 
honour pf scientific naturalism, and hopes that 
44 aesthetics will transform itself into a dependency 
of physiology and hygiene, as alchemy has become 
chemistry and astrology astronomy." He wrote articles 
in which he endeavoured to popularize the theories of 
contemporary European 44 naturalists " and to preach 
the study of Buchner, Moleschott, Huxley, Tyndall, Car! 
1 Pisarev, Works, vol. v. p. 435. a Ibid., vol. iv. p. 140. 


Vogt, Comte, Darwin, and other Occidental materialists 
and positivists. 

As for aesthetics and art, one should not make too 
much of them, as for the most part they only end in 
a loss of time. Now, time should be economized, 
especially in Russia, a poor and backward country. 

We must admit that Pisarev was to a certain extent 
right. The preceding generation of Russian Occi- 
dentalists were concerned to excess with abstractions 
and big phrases, and all that is implied by the term 
" aesthetics." And the big phrases of the Europeanized 
seigneurs were only too often glaringly inconsistent with 
serfdom and the condition of the people. Nekrassov 
well depicted the character of this generation in a poem 
describing those who 

. . . Wander through the world 
Seeking some gigantic task, 
Because the heritage of opulent fathers 
Has exempted them from petty toil. 

Was Russian society to abandon itself to the dreams of 
an Italian lazzarone, or to acquire the realistic and 
practical common sense of the American? asked 
Pisarev, and he himself pronounced in favour of realism 
and practical common sense. 

In reality, however, there was no resemblance between 
the Russian Nihilists, or Pisarev himself, and the typical 
Yankee. Despite all their pleas for materialism, despite 
all their industrious endeavours to appear " hard," 
" egoistic," and " materialistic," they remained the true 
sons of their fathers, idealists of the " 'forties." 

Pisarev wished to condemn and annihilate aestheti- 
cism. By what means? He "based his realistic con- 
ception of science and art," according to his own 
admission, on the following idea of Pierre Leroux : 
" From my lofty point of view the poets are those who, 
from period to period, express the woes of humanity, 
just as the philosophers are those who concern them- 
selves with healing and safeguarding humanity." In- 


spired by this idea, Pisarev stated that " one must 
always draw the attention of society to. economic and 
social problems, systematically opposing and condemn- 
ing all that diverts the intellectual energies of cultivated 
persons from their mission. If among the objects which 
distract them we find art in general, or certain branches 
of art, it should be understood as a matter of course that 
art also is to be opposed and condemned." 

Accused by his adversaries of " vandalism," Pisarev 
replied as follows : — 

"If you choose to tell me that Beethoven's sonatas 
ennoble, uplift, and exalt humanity, etc., I shall advise 
you to tell these fables to others, not to me, who will 
never credit them. Each of my readers knows, no doubt, 
a number of true melomaniacs and profound connois- 
seurs of music, who, despite all their love for the great 
art, and despite the depth of their musical knowledge, 
remain frivolous, pitiable, good-for-nothing creatures." 

It is a curious thing that Pisarev's theory, as the 
reader will see, resembles Tolstoy's. For Tolstoy also, 
at a later period, rejected aesthetics in the interest of the 
suffering masses. He, however, went farther than 
Pisarev, condemning science also as a useless thing 
" which leads men astray." 

Vladimir Soloviev used to say that the Russian 
Nihilists had a logic all their own, and that they 
deduced their social programme from their naturalistic 
materialism with the aid of peculiar " syllogisms," such 
as the following: "Man is descended from the ape. 
Therefore our duty is to sacrifice ourselves for the 
happiness of the people." 

This pleasantry is not very far from the truth. 

To complete the portrait of the " Nihilists " it must 
be mentioned that personally they led an extremely 
modest and virtuous life. Pisarev, the chief of the 
" negators " and the " destroyers," the incarnation of 
all mortal sins (it was thus that the reactionaries 
regarded him), was an affectionate and respectful son, 
and his principal work was dedicated to his mother. 


Tshemyshevsky, at the age of twenty-four, wishing to 
marry, asked himself what he would do if his fiancee 
did not please his mother : could he marry against his 
mother's will? And what did he decide? To kill 
himself in such a case, as he could not vex his aged 
mother, yet could not live without the woman he loved. 
But we must speak of Tshemyshevsky separately. 


Nicholas Gavrilovitsh Tshemyshevsky was born in 
1828. At the age of twenty-five he had made a name 
in literature. From 1855 to 1862 he was one of the 
most conspicuous leaders of the intellectual and social 
movement in Russia. In 1862 he was arrested for the 
" crime " of subversive opinions, and was condemned 
to fourteen years' hard labour and life-long deportation 
to Siberia. Only in 1883 did he receive the authoriza- 
tion to return to " European Russia." 

He died six years later, in 1889. Although Pisarev's 
influence was ephemeral, Tshemyshevsky 's has endured 
until the present day. During the last few years a 
number of historians, critics, litterateurs, sociologists, 
and economists have undertaken a complete study of 
his Works and his ideas, and have arrived at the con- 
clusion that " his life belongs to history, and his name 
will never cease to recall itself to all those who 
interested in the destinies of Russian literature, and 
who are able to appreciate wit, talent, knowledge, 
courage, and abnegation." • 

The prevailing influence in Tshernyshevsky's mental 
life was that of the ideas of the European vanguard. 
In general, the period of " nihilism " was the period 
when the Occidental spirit was completely triumphant 
in Russia— the spirit of materialism and positivism, 
which under Nicolas I was regarded by State and 
Church as contrary to the Orthodox doctrine and the 

* G. Plekhanov, N. G. Tshemyshevsky (Petersburg, 1910), p. 78. 
This large volume gives a complete analysis of Tshernyshov> 


autocratic system, and which thereby received its most 
undoubted titles to success. After the Crimean disaster 
the police supervision of the intelligence of Russia was 
slightly relaxed ; the educated youth of Russia, by a 
wholly natural reaction, hastened to pluck the forbidden 
fruit of European thought. Positivism and material- 
ism, then known by the common title of realism, became 
a powerful weapon of warfare against the religious 
prejudices supported by official pressure. 

But the materialism' of the Nihilists was not of 
uniform quality. In Pisarev it took the form of " naive 
realism," everything being proscribed that was not jus- 
tified by the immediate statements of the natural 
sciences. Of all the social sciences, Pisarev admitted 
the necessity only of anthropology, geography, and 
statistics. As for philosophy, he regarded it with superb 
disdain. Even the materialistic philosophy of Feuer- 
bach appeared to him useless and superfluous, fit only 
for " those who seek to erect a whole building with 
a score of bricks." 

Tshernyshevsky did not share these opinions ; he 
did not seek to confine thought within the narrow limits 
of the exclusively naturalistic positivism of the pisa- 
revshtshina. But he agreed with Pisarev as to the task 
imposed on Russian writers and scientists. He used 
to say that in the West men have the right to serve pure 
art or pure science. " Bacon, Descartes, Galileo, Leib- 
nitz, Newton, Humboldt, Liebig, Cuvier, and Faraday 
worked steadily on, thinking of science in general, not 
of what such or such a country, their native land, 
required at a given moment. We do not know and we 
do not ask ourselves if they loved their country. By 
virtue of their works they are cosmopolitan. It is the 
same with many of the great Western poets." Tsherny- 
shevsky names Shakespeare, Ariosto, Corneille, Goethe. 
4 Their names," he says, M make us think of their 
artistic merit ; not of any special and predominant 
devotion to their native countries." 

Matters are very different in Russia. " For the 



moment a Russian has only one fashion of really serving 
the lofty ideals of truth, art, and science : namely, to 
work at diffusing them throughout his country. The 
time will come when in Russia also, as elsewhere, 
thinkers and artists will devote themselves exclusively 
to science and art ; but as long as we are not on the 
same level as the more advanced nations there is another 
task which must be dearer to each of us : to contribute 
according to his strength to continue what Peter the 
Great began. This task has hitherto demanded, and 
in all probability will demand for a long time yet, all 
the moral and intellectual forces of the best endowed 
of Russia's children." 1 

Tshernyshevsky, who suggested that the immediate 
and effective duty of Russian thinkers was to popularize 
European thought, and who himself undertook this duty, 
showed a much greater breadth of mind in his manner 
of fulfilling it than did Pisarev. For example, he did 
justice to the philosophy of Hegel. He very truly said 
of Hegel that " his principles were extremely ample and 
vigorous ; his deductions were narrow and impotent." 

More particularly did Tshernyshevsky adopt Hegel's 
maxims " that there exists no such thing as abstract 
truth " ; M truth is concrete " ; 2 and that " one cannot 
judge of good and evil without taking into account the 
circumstances in which a given phenomenon occurs." 
The Hegelian idea of constant change, caused by the 
internal contradictions contained by every phenomenon 
and every condition, was also accepted by Tsherny- 
shevsky. But he relied especially on Feuerbach, and, 
as he himself declared, he sought " to apply Feuer- 
bach's fundamental ideas to the solution of various 

The most important of these ideas was that of the 
unity of the human being: this implied the rejection of 
the old dualistic conception which divided " soul " from 
" body," the " spiritual " from the " material " element. 

■ Tshernyshevsky, Works, vol. iii. p. 120 (Petersburg, 1907). 
* Hegel himself does not always abide by this rule. 


For Tshernyshevsky, as for Feuerbach, there was only 
one " sole human nature, real and unique," and the 
M spiritual " life of man was only the " subjective 
aspect " of certain objective and material facts. 

The recognition of such a principle had capital results 
for Russian thought, for it struck a terrible blow at the 
Orthodox Byzantine ideology, which saw two principles 
in man: the one "celestial," holy, spiritual, the other 
" terrestrial," diabolic and material ; an idea which 
was the basis of the ascetic doctrine of submission to 
the Divine Will, to the power of God and His repre- 
sentatives on earth: spiritual and temporal authorities. 

The materialistic monism proclaimed by Tsherny- 
shevsky was thus a true secularization of Russian 
thought. As Plekhanov remarks in his work on 
Tshernyshevsky, this was a step in advance compared 
with the naive realism of Pisarev and the German 
naturalists, Buchner and Carl Vogt, his masters, who 
reduced the whole problem of the human soul to the 
structure and the functioning of the brain. Plekhanov 
asserted that Feuerbach, without realizing it, had 
approached the French materialism of La Mettrie and 
Diderot, which was less narrow and more profound. 
Professor Masaryk discovers in Tshernyshevsky a strong 
predilection for English thought, which distinguishes 
him from the majority of Russian thinkers. But I 
must say that in this Tshernyshevsky was by no means 
exceptional, for at that period English thought in 
general exerted an immense influence in Russia. At 
the risk of shocking some of my readers I will venture 
to assert that Russian " nihilism! " is for the most part 
the child of English positivism. A Nihilist was almost 
always a Darwinian, and the " Buckle-book " (that is, 
Buckle's History of Civilization in England) was one 
of the textbooks of nihilism ; it was their gospel. 
The names of Darwin and Buckle were no less detested 
by all Russian obscurantists than that of Feuerbach. 


I. Socialism in Russia — Socialism and religion. II. The earliest 
European influences — Saint-Simonism in Russia. III. Fourier 
and Robert Owen. IV. The narodnilshestvo and Marxism — The 
"Bakunists" in Russia. V. " Blanquism " in Russia — Terrorism. 
VI. Philosophy and the reality — The present situation of the 
narodnilshestvo and Marxism. 


The literary productions of Tshernyshevsky are closely 
bound up with the history of Russian socialism. 

One might certainly attribute this socialism to 
remote origins. 'Peter Kropotkin believes that Euro- 
pean socialism in general may be referred to the French 
Revolution, which, he says, " repeated, in its turn, the 
work of the English Revolution," and " was the source 
of all the anarchist, communist, and socialist concep- 
tions of our times." Kropotkin asserts that " modern 
socialism has as yet added nothing, absolutely nothing, 
to the ideas which were in circulation among the French 
people during the year II of the Republic. Modern 
socialism has only arranged these ideas in systems, 
and has found arguments in their favour, either by 
turning certain of their own definitions against the 
bourgeois economists, or by generalizing the facts of 
the development of industrial capitalism during the 
nineteenth century." According to Kropotkin " there 
is a direct filiation from the Enrages of 1793 and 
Babeuf (1795) to the International." ' 

If one were to accept this verdict of Kropotkin'*, 
doubtless one might trace Russian socialism back 
1 Peter Kropotkin, The Great Revolution. 



through Occidental socialism to the French Revolution. 
But it is possible to go farther and to find the source 
of communistic ideas in Christianity ; not the Chris- 
tianity of the Orthodox Church, but that of the first 
Christian communities. 

In Russia some interesting attempts have been made 
to justify the Communist and Socialist demands by 
Christian doctrine. Leo Tolstoy invokes the name of 
Christ in his attack upon the rights of private property. 
Various rural religious sects make the Gospel the basis 
of their agrarian communism. Dostoievsky recom- 
mended educated Russia to bow before the Orthodox 
truth of the moujiks, which, according to him, is 
identical with the principle of social justice. Herzen, 
although quite without Dostoievsky's respect for Ortho- 
doxy, advised enlightened minds to reckon with the 
religious convictions of the peasants. 

But what is much more curious is the existence of 
such ideas, during the last few years, in the Russian 
Social-Democratic party. M. Lenin, although a con- 
vinced Marxist, proposed, some years ago, that the 
party should profit by the religious convictions of the 
peasants, for whom the earth is " the property of God," 
and cannot belong to any one. The Socialists should 
make use of this ingenuous faith, says M. Lenin in his 
pamphlet on the agrarian question, in order to persuade 
the peasantry that it is necessary to confiscate all landed 
property and to effect the " nationalization of the soil " ; 
that is, to declare the private lands the property of the 
State. But none of the sections of the Social-Demo- 
cratic party cared to adopt this demagogic plan, and 
to enter upon a still more demagogic exploitation of 
the superstitions of the peasantry. 

For the rest, such an artifice was destined to en>- 
counter a check, because, for the majority of the 
moujiks, " the soil is the property of God " in a sense 
entirely special, which has nothing in common with 
true socialism. What the peasant regards as the 
" property of God " are the estates of the nobles, the 


great landed proprietors, which he wishes to expro- 
priate for his own benefit. God is merely a pious pre- 
text for the wholly material aspirations of the peasantry. 

Another small group of Russian Social-Democrats 
wished to do better than to make religion its auxiliary ; 
it meditated erecting socialism itself into a religion. 
The leader of this pseudo-socialist " chapel " pub- 
lished two volumes intended to prove that socialism is 
a religious doctrine, that the Socialist groups are merely 
a new Church Universal ; that Karl Marx and Fried- 
rich Engels were the successors of the prophets of 
Israel and of Christ, and that the dogma of the pro-» 
letariat must replace that of God. As for the applica- 
tion of his doctrine, the inventor even composed a new 
Lord's Prayer, in which the name of God is replaced by 
that of the proletariat, and it is to the latter that the 
prayer is addressed that " its reign shall come as soon 
as possible." 

The founders of the " Socialist religion " chose for 
its propagation the period following the rising of 
1905-6, when the reaction was triumphant in the 
political, social, and intellectual domains. They pro- 
fessed to be able to cure Russia of the despair into which 
she had been plunged by a disastrous war and an 
abortive Revolution. Nevertheless, and in spite of the 
aid of the celebrated writer Maxim Gorky, they met with 
no success, and the only trace which remains of their 
enterprise is the ironical nicknames of " the Proletarian 
God " and M the Saint " which the Socialist Press 
bestowed on the founder of the new pseudo-religion. 

This little episode shows that socialism and religion 
are in Russia divided by such an abyss that no attempt 
to reconcile them' can be regarded seriously. 

Nihilism has left behind it such a vigorous ferment 
of positivism and materialism, both of which were so 
widely diffused by Pisarev and Tshernyshevsky, that the 
Russian intellectuals, with very rare exceptions, remain 
completely deaf to religious prejudices, and accord a very, 
cold welcome to those who seek to reintroduce them. 


In nearly all European countries, however, some 
attempt has been made to combine socialism with 
religion. In Austria and Germany the Catholic and 
Protestant clergy take part in the labour movement, 
and do their best to unite, in a peculiar and extremely 
reactionary mixture, the doctrine of the Church and the 
aspirations of the labouring masses. In Switzerland 
and in England there are among the Socialists believing 
and practising Christians who are extremely sincere and 
in no way reactionary. We find nothing of the sort 
in Russia, where there are no labour organizations 
directed and protected by the Church ; one cannot even 
cite individual cases in which socialism is combined 
with a belief in God. A Russian Socialist is always an 
atheist . 


To return to the share of the French Revolution in 
the development of socialism, I should mention that in 
Russia at least we do not find that filiation of which 
Kropotkin speaks. In Russia we find that men's minds 
have been influenced by the political conceptions of the 
Revolution of 1789, and not by its "communism," 
which was in general extremely vague. The en- 
lightened Russians have turned toward socialism pre- 
cisely because the revolutionary tradition has in Russia 
been confined to politics. Herzen is the best witness of 
this natural reaction ; he experienced it in person. 
This is how he describes the diffusion in Russia of the 
Saint-Simonian ideals, which may be regarded as the 
point of departure of Russian socialism. 

"The embryo liberalism of 1826, which was gradu- 
ally formed according to the French conceptions, recom- 
mended by such men as Lafayette and Benjamin 
Constant, and which was sung by BeVanger, lost its 
power of seduction, as far as we were concerned, after 
the fall of Poland. It was then that a portion of our 
Russian youth hastened to make a profound and serious 
study of Russian history ; others studied German philo- 


sophy. As for Ogariov and myself, we belonged to 
neither party. We were too deeply rooted in dther 
modes of thought to abandon them so quickly. Our 
faith in a revolution a la Biranger, to be accomplished 
sitting at table, was shaken, but we were seeking for 
something else, which we could find neither in the 
Chronicle of Nestor nor in the transcendental idealism 
of Schelling. While our minds were thus struggling 
amid conjectures, and efforts to understand, and the 
doubts which alarmed us, some of the pamphlets of the 
Saint -Simonians fell into our hands, and we became 
acquainted with their doctrines and the proceedings 
brought against them. . . . We were impressed by 
these pamphlets. They proclaimed the new faith ; they 
had something to say ; they had good reason to cite 
before their tribunal the old order of things which 
wanted to try them according to the Code Napoleon 
and the Orleanist religion. 

" On the one hand, the emancipation of woman, 
her access to community of labour, her destiny restored 
to her own hands, and union with her as with an equal ; 
on the other hand, the redemption and rehabilitation of 
the flesh ! 

" These great formulae involved a world of new 
relations between men, a world of health, wit, and 
beauty, a world naturally moral and consequently 
morally pure. 

" .What courage was required to speak openly in 
France of emancipating oneself from a spiritualism so 
strongly established in the ideas of France and so utterly 
absent from the conduct of the French 1 

" A new world was knocking at the door ; our 
minds and hearts opened to it. Saint-Simonism took 
its place as the basis of our convictions, and there, in 
all its essentials, remained for ever." * 

We see, however, that the essentials of Saint- 
Simonism were not, for Herzen, the same as for the 
Saint-Simonians themselves. The positive organization 
■ A. Herzen, Works, vol. vi. pp. 195-6. 


of Saint-Simonism, its social and religious constitution, 
did riot compel Herzen's admiration. The following 
generation of Russian thinkers, the " Nihilists," pro- 
nounced with decision against Saint-Simonism precisely 
because of its religious character. The force of repug- 
nance aroused in the Nihilists by all that savoured of 
religion may be gauged by the example of Pisarev, who, 
a " popularizer " of the positivism of Auguste Comte, 
never forgave him for introducing a sort of religious 
element into his philosophy. 

44 Having completed a stupendous work," said 
Pisarev, " Comte was unable to stop where he 
should have stopped ; and he spoiled his own work, 
as far as an individual person can spoil that which is 
of value to the whole of humanity, by creating a new 
religion, of which these have no need, while those can 
obtain no satisfaction from it." 

In his article on the trial of the Saint-Simonians 
Tshernyshevsky protests against their attempt to base 
a new social order on an authority of a religious 

" Authority," he says, 44 always prevails in prejudices 
and routine, that is, in those matters in which the 
reason has no part. Reason is aware of facts, is con- 
vinced by proofs, but accepts nothing on authority. 
. . . To think otherwise, to believe in the possibility 
of an authority to which an established reason would 
readily submit, is a thing that no one but a fanatic 
could do, and a fanatic inspired by an unjustified belief 
in the ancient benefits of the Papacy." Tshernyshevsky 
does not accept love either as the basis of the new 
society, because love influences men only in rare 
moments of exaltation, while in general men are swayed 
by calculation, usage, and habits. For him the Saint-, 
Simonians were drawing-room reformers. 

At the same time, however, Tshernyshevsky con- 
sidered that the fundamental idea of Saint-Simonism 
was 44 simple and pure," and he expresses his opinion of 
it in the following words : — 


11 For the pacification of society it is necessary that 
the moral and material existence of the most numerous 
and most poverty-stricken class of society should be 
ameliorated as rapidly as possible." Tshernyshevsky 
declares that " the duty of every good citizen, of 
every honest man, is to devote his energies to this 

Tshernyshevsky was thus able to distinguish between 
the sublime ideal of Saint-Simon and his disciples and 
their errors of practice. Their doctrine is regarded 
even to-day with attention and sympathy in Russia. It 
forms a subject of study and examination in the Uni- 
versities. Fifteen years ago, in the faculty of history 
and philology at the University of Moscow, when I 
was following the course there, it was made the subject 
of special lectures. Many textbooks of the history 
of economics employed by Russian students devote 
chapters to it. Even the most bourgeois scholars 
regard it very favourably. 

Here, for example, is what Professor Toughan- 
Baranovsky, the well-known economist, has to say of 
it :— 

" The position which Saint-Simon occupies in the 
history of thought is so tremendous that it cannot be 
exaggerated. We regard him as the most vital social 
thinker of the new age ; we believe he has, with a sure 
hand, laid solid foundations for the scientific structure 
at whose completion many generations have yet to 
labour. Saint-Simon's ideas refer not to one isolated 
science, but to the whole cycle of sciences relating to 
human society. The philosophy of history, sociology, 
political economy, and, to a certain extent, jurisprudence 
in its broad general principles, all date from Saint- 
Simon." ' 

M. Toughan-Baranovsky also believes that " the 
whole of the ' positivist philosophy ' was borrowed by 
Comte from Saint-Simon," and that " this remarkable 

1 M. Toughan-Baranovsky, Sketches of the History of Contemporary 
Political Economy and Socialism, 2nd ed., p. 98 (Petersburg, 1905). 


thinker, with far more reason than Marx, may be re- 
garded as the creator of modern social science." 


Despite this homage, Saint- Simonism has had no 
effective influence upon the socialist movement in 
Russia. The ideas of Fourier and Robert Owen 
hindered its diffusion, and those " Nihilists " who 
had been unable to accept the doctrine of Saint-Simon 
became the most enthusiastic " Fourierists." 

Tshernyshevsky, during his imprisonment, wrote a 
novel (What's to be Done?) which acquired enormous 
popularity, although, considered merely as literature, 
it leaves something to be desired. This novel is full 
of " Fourierist " ideas, and it did more to diffuse them 
throughout Russia than all the theoretical works taken 

4 Tshernyshevsky proposed nothing new," says his 
biographer and critic : "he merely made known the 
deductions at which Occidental thought had long before 
arrived. . . . But he gave the ideas of Fourier a vogue 
previously unknown in Russia. He taught them to 
the great public." ! 

Plekhanov observes that, under the inspiration of 
Fourier, Tshernyshevsky was the first of the Russian 
Socialists to imagine socialist society of the future 
organized upon the basis of a very highly developed 
technique and wholesale production by gigantic under- 
takings. Certain of his successors, who believed, on 
the contrary, that the future would see a federation of 
small communes and pigmy enterprises, were really 
behind him in their ideas, for if socialism is a superior 
form of economic organization, it must make use of 
the technical victories won by the capitalist world, in- 
stead of returning to the small bourgeois ways of the 
pre-capitalist era." 

But this error was inevitable, because the imagina- 
tion always reflects the reality, and a communal petit - 
' G. Plekhanov, N. Tshernyshevsky, p. 75. 


bourgeois ideal of socialism was bound to come into 
being in Russia, the country of small rural exploitations. 

Tshernyshevsky himself was unable entirely to escape 
from this conception ; he continued to favour it, tracing 
the social function of the rural commune in Russia. 

In general Tshernyshevsky was a convinced Occi- 
dentalism He used to say of the Slavophiles : " Their 
sight is so peculiarly constituted that any Russian filth 
they may see appears to them excellent, and admirably 
suited to reanimate moribund Europe." He severely 
criticized Herzen's opinion concerning " young " Russia 
and the " old world " of Europe ; protesting against 
this species of national pride, of which Herzen was not 
always innocent. Tshernyshevsky believed that Europe 
has nothing to learn from Russia, because " she herself 
understands better than we what new conditions she 
has need of, and the way to create them." But on the 
subject of the mir Tshernyshevsky agreed both with 
Herzen and certain of the Slavophiles, who asserted 
that that which in the West was still an aspiration had 
in reality already passed away in Russia, because the 
Russian rural commune succeeds in reconciling the 
principle of individuality with the interests of the com- 
munity. He, too, asserted that in Russia " there exists in 
reality what in the West appears to be a Utopia." In 
Russia " the popular mass regards the soil as a common 
possession," while private estates are not numerous, 
and the individualistic conception of property is not 
rooted in M the soul of the people." In the West the 
dissolution of the rural commune has had the most 
unfortunate results ; it has engendered pauperism and 
poverty. So " we must not ignore the example of 
the Occident, and must maintain the commune in 
Russia." In the Occident " the individual is already 
accustomed to exercise unrestricted rights over his 
private property," and " the prevalence of a better 
system in economic relations would demand sacrifices 
there ; this is why it is difficult. Such a system is not 
in agreement with the habits of a French or English 


peasant." In Russia, thanks to the existence of the 
commune, this moral and juridical obstacle does not 

We shall see later on that the mir became the subject 
of long and violent discussion between the two great 
schools of Russian socialism which took shape towards 
the end of the nineteenth century (narodnitshestvo and 
Marxism). Now, this question had already been brought 
into prominence by Tshemyshevsky and his contempo- 
raries. Europe was not unaware of this. In the first 
place, the first serious study of the Russian mir, in its 
social and economic relations, was the work not of a 
Russian but of a German (von Haxthausen), who 
veritably " discovered " the rural commune in Russia, 
and explained its full importance to the public. This 
was in 1847. Tshemyshevsky and several of his com- 
patriots and contemporaries were acquainted with von 
Haxthausen's work, and found therein the elements of 
a verdict upon the institution. 

Then the Utopian Socialists, French and English, 
with their schemes of " associations " of producers — 
among others Louis Blanc and Robert Owen — led the 
first Russian Socialists to seek for a practical form 
under which they might install the " new social order " 
in Russia. And as the method of capitalistic exploita- 
tion was not then very highly developed, and as there 
was as yet no industrial proletariat in Russia, they could 
find no subject but the rural population. In this they 
had to seek for a basis of association. They believed 
they had found it in the mir. 

Some European Socialists also shared this positive 
appreciation of the Russian rural commune. This is 
what Proudhon says in his posthumous work of the 
communal ownership of the soil : — 

" This form of ownership is essentially equalitarian : 
in Russia the commune, which is regarded as sole pro- 
prietor, has to provide each household with a quantity 
of cultivable soil, and if the number of families increases 
the division has to be modified so that no one is 


excluded. This method is common to all the Slav 
peoples ; it has been maintained in Russia by the decree 
of emancipation - (of 1 861 )." r 

Proudhon considered that " political economy itself " 
can require nothing better than this form of ownership, 
" which is contrary to inequality," and which, there- 
fore, should be " regularized and confirmed." 

I may remark in passing that there are other points 
of agreement between Proudhon and Tshernyshevsky, 
notably in the theory of economics. There is no doubt 
that Proudhon exercised a certain ascendancy over 
Tshernyshevsky . 

But M. Plekhanov, in his work on Tshernyshevsky, 
asserts that of all the great Utopian Socialists of Europe 
it was Robert Owen who made the strongest impression 
of Tshernyshevsky, and he explains this by certain 
peculiarities of Tshernyshevsky 's. " By the nature of 
his temperament, in which reason predominated, he was 
inclined to sympathize with those of the great founders 
of the socialist systems who were less guilty of yield- 
ing to the temptations of fantastic imaginings. Thus 
Robert Owen was assuredly more akin to him than 
Fourier." 2 

Plekhanov thus confirms what I have already said 
in a more general form of the influence of English 
thought upon Russian "nihilism." But it must not 
be supposed that Owen's ideas could have received 
a practical application in the Russia of those days, as 
was possible in industrial England. It is only to-day 
that Owen's ideas are guiding the effective action of 
certain Russian Socialists, notably those who are 
collaborating in the co-operative movement. For the 
promoters of co-operation in Russia Owen has become 
a guiding star. In the working-men's clubs his life 
and work are studied and his precepts are taught, 
while articles and pamphlets are devoted to these sub- 
jects which find tens of thousands of readers. 

1 Proudhon, (Euvres Posthumcs, vol. i. p. 89 (Paris, 1866). 
• Plekhanov, op. cit. p. 302. 


Robert Owen, like Saint-Simon and Fourier, has won 
a place in the academic life of Russia. Professor 
Toughan-Baranovsky states that the influence of Owen 
is "an instructive and glorious page in the social history 
of modern England." "The whole co-operative move- 
ment of to-day is the result of Owen's propaganda. 
. . . Millions of workers in England and all the world 
over, who are at present deriving real economic advant- 
ages from co-operation, have to thank none other than 
the ingenuous dreamer Owen, who in his day was so 
riddled by the scorn of the representatives of so-called 
common sense, who were only too clairvoyant as regards 
their immediate advantage, but were completely unable 
to see into the future." * 

But, I repeat, the practical application of 
" Owenism " in Russia has only become possible in 
our days. As for Tshernyshevsky 's time, the Russian 
Socialists were able to adopt only the theory of 
" Owenism." Tshernyshevsky in particular borrowed 
from Owen a very important and wholly materialistic 
principle : the impress of the social environment upon 
the actions and feelings of mankind. 

Still, Tshernyshevsky, like Owen and the French 
Utopians, had retained a great measure of metaphysics 
and idealism. He was inclined to explain historical 
events as a rationalist. He believed that men had 
been and were unfortunate because they were insuffi- 
ciently " educated " and " conscious." It would, there- 
fore, suffice to explain to them the justice and convince 
them of the necessity of changing the existing state 
of things, to win them over to a good " scheme " of 
a new order, and the social problem would be solved. 

This belief in the power of reason, which links 
Tshernyshevsky and other of the Russian " Nihilists " 
with the Encyclopaedists and the French Revolutionists, 
played a great part in the evolution of socialist theory 
and the revolutionary movement in Russia. If it is 
reason which rules the world, who, then, is the master 
' Toughan-Baranovsky, op. cit. p. 89. 


in the struggle for liberty and the happiness of the 
people? Not the masses of the people themselves ; 
but the enlightened men of the country, the profes- 
sional representatives of reason, so to speak. The 
task incumbent upon the intellectuals in the socialist 
and revolutionary movement in this way became one 
of the most burning questions of the day, and Russian 
socialism split upon this rock into two violently opposed 
camps . 


In the general evolution of Russian thought in the 
nineteenth century we observe a very significant change 
in the attractive forces which our Occidentalists obeyed. 
In 1830 and in 1850 they were chiefly captivated by 
the abstract ideas of philosophy and metaphysics. 
Nihilism gave the preference to the natural sciences. 
But Tshernyshevsky betrayed a great interest in the 
problems of sociology and history and economics. This 
tendency became preponderant in his successors, and 
the conflict between narodnitshestvo (Populism) and 
Marxism, which almost wholly occupied the intellectual 
life of cultivated society in Russia at the end of the 
last century, was fought over problems of history, 
sociology, and economics. Maxim Kovalewsky, an 
ocular witness of the change of front, compares it 
with the happenings in France at the end of the 
eighteenth century. He says : — 

" In a country in which political debates are un- 
known, the discussions of the great problems of social 
science, above all those which concern the present situa- 
tion in a direct or indirect fashion, occupy a position 
which they could never attain in a more disturbed 
environment. It being the fashion to debate such 
problems, everybody in our days is either a sociologist 
or an economist, in speech at least, neither more nor 
less than in France, a few years after the krach 
occasioned by John Law, the famous Dr. Quesnay in- 
spired the people who had recovered from their infatua- 


tion for the system of protection by his doctrines of 
free trade and natural economic laws. 

' This is not, moreover, the only trait of resemblance 
between modern Russia and the France of a century 
or more ago. Like our grandfathers, the men of the 
Constituent Assembly, the young generations in Russia 
are steeped in the conviction that a new social era 
is shortly to open. They believe that they are called 
upon to facilitate its advent by the judicious employ- 
ment of the scientific data and the social experience 
acquired by the European Occident. 

" These are generous ideas, which assuredly do not 
merit the belittlement and animosity with which they 
have been received by those who declare themselves 
unmitigated partisans of the secular bases of our 
economic system." 

The analogy drawn by M. Kovalewsky between the 
passion excited by economic problems in France at 
the close of the eighteenth century and that observable 
in Russia at the end of the nineteenth century is in- 
teresting, but the explanation which he gives of the 
Russian interest in such matters is insufficient. He is 
not correct in saying that people became enamoured 
of economics because the Government would not allow 
them to meddle in politics. The interest in matters 
of economics was due to two factors : in the first 
place, to the fact that after the suppression of serf- 
dom in 1 80 1 Russia entered upon a period of very 
intense commercial, industrial, and financial activity, 
which could not fail to draw the attention of all open 
minds ; and in the second place, because economic 
questions were inseparable from political questions, so 
that at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning 
of the twentieth century parties were divided on both 
political and economic principles, a certain political 
system being always attached to a certain economic 
system ; and the adherent to the one system was neces- 
sarily a supporter of the other. A narodnik belongs 
to a given school of economics, and also to a given 



school of politics. The term " Marxist " denotes not 
merely a supporter of Marx's doctrine of " economic 
materialism," but also a member of the Social-Demo- 
cratic party. 

These two beliefs — Populism and Marxism — literally 
monopolized the minds of the Russian democrats before 
the movement of 1905. The entire youth of Russia 
was caught in the cogs of the theoretical conflict to 
which they devoted themselves. Their divergences were 
principally on account of the following points : — 

What is the Russian type of economic development? 
Is it identical with that of Western Europe, or different? 

What, in particular, is the future of rural economy 
and the mir in Russia? 

What is the role of the peasantry, of the bourgeoisie, 
of the industrial proletariat, and of the intellectual 
world ? What, in general, is the role of the individual 
in history? 

All these questions, abstract and theoretical at first 
sight, were in reality of great practical importance, 
because the political parties regulated their programmes 
and their tactics according to the response which they 
received, which, of course, varied according to the social 
mentality of those who responded. 

Thus between 1870 and 1885, in the opinions and 
actions of the revolutionaries were perceptible the 
characteristics of the educated classes from which they 
were exclusively recruited : extreme rationalism and 
an exaggerated idea of the role of " personality " in 
social life. On the other hand, these same men adopted 
the thesis of Bakunin respecting the communist 
mentality of the popular masses in Russia. According 
to the resulting theory, it is they who are the conscious 
upholders of the same communist ideal which is, so 
to speak, innate in the masses of the Russian popula- 
tion. 1 They have, therefore, only to draw closer to 

* An analogous idea is developed by Prince Kropotkin in his Modern 
Science and Anarchy, in which he regards anarchy as a thing which 
" does not come from the Universities, but from the creative energy 


the people, to descend into the depths of the people, 
there to carry on propaganda, distribute pamphlets, and 
sow revolt. 

Russian literature has kept the record of this great 
attempt at communion : — 

A passport, a wallet, 

A baker's dozen of " publications," 

Sturdy legs, 

Many places, many dreams. 

Fields and meadows, 

Clearings, the wealth of nature, 

Empty roads, 

The distress in the peasants' houses : 

But in every house 

Bread is ready for the " traveller " ; 

Eagerly the people listen 

The words of truth. 

In the villages are gendarmes, 

Fines, duties, taxes. 

" There will be a revolution, little brothers ! " 

One hears on every side as they talk.' 

But the poetic records were fairer than the effective 
results of the propaganda. In vain did the " intel- 
lectuals " mingle with the people and summon the 
peasants to M revolt " ; with rare exceptions the 
peasants, to whom the agitators attributed " a collective 
cranium," refused to bestir themselves or revolted 
against the propagandists, tying their hands and pre- 
senting them to the authorities. This revolutionary 
campaign among the peasants miscarried, not, as might 
be supposed, because they could not understand it, nor 

of the people," and at the same time as "an attempt to apply general- 
izations acquired by the inductive method of the natural sciences to 
the appreciation of human institutions, and to divine, taking its stand 
on this appreciation, the future progress of humanity along the path 
of liberty, equality, and fraternity, for the greatest possible happiness 
of each unit of human society" {Modern Science and Anarchy, London* 
i 901). 

' M. Mouravsky, Among the People (poem written in 1874), 



because they were indifferent to " politics." The 
majority of the propagandists did not seek to excite 
the political susceptibilities of the Russian population, 
but its economic aspirations. Many of them believed, 
with Proudhon and Bakunin, that the labouring masses 
have nothing to do wirli politics or changes in the 
system of government. The germ of this theory is 
to be found in Herzen's Open Letters to Linton, a 
well-known English writer, in which he states that 
if the Russian people one day revolts it will not be 
to replace the tyranny of a Tsar by that of a Presi- 
dent or a bourgeois Parliament, but to attain a " verit- 
able and complete " liberty. This true political 
nihilism, which puts all systems and all governments 
into the same basket, reflects both the anarchism of 
Europe and the indifference of the contemporary 
Russian peasant. The " Bakunists " beheld in it a 
proof of the communist mentality of the Russian people, 
which, according to them, should already have under- 
stood the vanity of all political transformations, so 
that they would accept only a social revolution. 

Russia's backwardness was reacted into superiority 
over Europe. 

The Marxists, who attacked the " anarchizing " move- 
ment of the narodnitshestvo, were easily able to demon- 
strate that the reality did not correspond with the 
imaginings of the " propagandists," and that the Com- 
munist movement, starting from Europe, was born of 
the resistance of the workers to the capitalist system, 
while the Russian peasants were still living in the 
pre-capitalist age. On the other hand, the Russian 
peasant, who readily accepted the idea of a " just dis- 
tribution " of the soil when the property of the great 
landowners was at stake, will have none of it when his 
own property is concerned. Moreover, the communal 
possession of the soil does not signify any sort of 
actual communism, for while possessing the soil in 
common the peasants cultivate it individually ; and 
individually they profit by the product of their labours. 


We must not, therefore, count on the " collective 
cranium " of the moujik to effect a social revolu- 
tion. We_ must look to the industrial proletariat for J 

The check suffered by the "descent" of the intel- 
lectuals upon the rural districts proved that the Marxists 
were right. 

But as between 1870 and 1880 the Russian prole- 
tariat was as yet neither sufficiently strong nor 
sufficiently numerous to inspire Russian thinkers with J 

the hope that their aspirations were soon to be satisfied, 
they preferred to choose another " shorter " way : the 
way of conspiracies and of terrorism. 

As early as 1875 a revolutionary organ {Nabat, 
which is to say The Tocsin) protested vigorously against 
the anti-State theory of the " Bakunists," opposing their 
federalistic ideas by the idea of a centralized revolu- 
tion, which would take the form of a coup d'etat. 

"In the West, as at home," said the Nabat, "we . 
observe two movements ; one is purely Utopian, federa- / 
tive, and anarchist ; the other is realistic, centralizing, 

and ' statist.' Failing the forcible capture of the 
governmental power by the revolutionary party, no solid 
or radical changes in the existing social order are 
possible." * f 

But the people were not yet capable of seizing %he ' 
reins of power. This was not an obstacle, as a 
" revolutionary minority " might do so for the people. 

" It goes without saying that the fewer revolutionary 
elements there are in the people, and the smaller the 
dimensions of its revolutionary energy, the smaller must 
be its part in the realization of the social revolution, 
and the greater must be the role, the power, and t^ie 
influence of the revolutionary minority. . . . The revo- 
lutionary minority, having liberated the people from 
the yoke of the terror and awe with which the Govern- 

1 Cited from P. Lavrov's The Propagandist Narodniki of the Years 
1873-78 (Petersburg, 1907), p. 172. 


ment inspired it, would provide it with the possibility of 
manifesting its revolutionary power of destruction. . . . 
The revolutionary minority, profiting by the destructive 
power of the people, would destroy the enemies of 
the revolution, and, basing itself upon the general spirit 
of the positive ideal of the people (that is, on its 
conservative energies), would lay the foundation of a 
new and rational social order." ' 

The distrust with which the ideologists of this " revo- 
lutionary minority " regarded the people was so great 
that they declared that " never, neither to-day nor in 
the future, would the people , left to itself, be capable 
of effecting a social revolution. We alone, the rev olu- 
.jjnjTgjX-JQJ D 01 *'^ might achieve it, and we must do 
so as soon as possible." 

The Marxist critics of this theory of the " revolu- 
tionary minority " have pointed out the fact that it 
is by no means original, but that its prototype is to 
be found, on the one hand, in Jacobinism, and on the 
other in the ideas and activities of Auguste Blanqui, 
who also believed that a small number of well-organized 
revolutionaries might, at a propitious moment, make 
an attempt which would be crowned by success. And 
the theory of the revolutionary minority is known in the 
history of the socialist movement in Russia as Russian 
Blanquism. But Russian Blanquism was more " Blan- 
quist " than Blanqui himself. We know that 
Blanqui, extreme revolutionary though he was, had 
the sense to wait when it was necessary, and even to 
restrain his more impatient comrades. The leaders 
of Russian Blanquism used to tell their disciples : " The 
people is always ready for the revolution. . . . Wait? 
Have we the right to wait? We shall tolerate no waiting, 
no delay. . . . We cannot, we will not wait ! . . . 
Let each take that which he has, as speedily as may 
be, and move forward ! " 

■ Cited from P. Lavrov, op. cit. pp. 173-4. 


The contributors to the Blanquist organ declared 
any person to be a renegade who, belonging to the 
revolutionary party, did not believe in the possibility 
of an immediate revolution. 

The Russian " Bianquists " sought to justify their 
tactics by aid of highly original arguments. Notably 
they asserted that these tactics were best suited to 
the national conditions of Russia. Their leader, Peter 
Tkatshev, expounded these arguments in his open letter 
to Friedrich Engels : — 

" We in Russia have at our disposal none of those 
means of revolutionary conflict which you possess in 
the West. . . . We have neither urban proletariat, nor 
liberty of the Press, nor national representation. . . . 
We cannot think, in our country, of publications for 
the workers ; but even if they were possible they would 
be useless, as the majority of our people cannot read." 
But all this does not mean that the victory of the 
social revolution is more problematical in Russia than 
in the West. By no means I " We have no urban 
proletariat, it is true ; also there is no bourgeoisie. No 
middle class, in Russia, divides the suffering people 
from the despotism of the State which oppresses it ; 
our workers can only bring political force into the 
battle ; the power of capital, with us, is still 
embryonic." ' 

11 Our revolutionary party of intellectuals is not 
numerous, it is true. But it pursues none but socialist 
ideals, and its enemies are still more powerless than 
it. . . . Our Government appears strong only from 
a distance. In reality its strength is fictitious and 
imaginary. It has no roots in the economic life of the 
people. . . . Among you Europeans the State stands 
with both feet on capital. With us it is suspended 
in the air." 

This wholly unreal and erroneous theory was matched 
by equally erroneous and ineffectual practical applica- 
tions : men believed in the possibility of changing 
* Cited from Plekhanov's Our Dissensions (Petersburg, 1906), p. 47. 




the system of government by means of conspiracies 
and acts of terrorism. The whole of the close of 
Alexander II's reign was marked by plots and attempts 
upon the Tsar, who was killed on the ist of March 
1 88 1. But the violent death of Alexander II demon- 
strated in the most obvious fashion how useless were 
the efforts of the conspirators and terrorists. The 
autocracy emerged from the crisis not enfeebled, but 
stronger than before. 

But twenty years later, at the beginning of the 
present century, we witnessed a revival of political 
terrorism in Russia. The Revolutionary Socialist party, 
which continues the tradition of the old narodnitshestvo, 
makes terrorism one of its levers of action. It creates 
M fighting organizations " and " flying columns," which 
hunt down Grand Dukes, Ministers, Governors of 
provinces, etc. But after some years of a highly 
intensive terrorist campaign the political in- 
efficacy of terrorism became obvious. More : we 
may say that individual terrorism is more dangerous 
to the party which employs it than to the Govern- 

The tactics of individual terrorism weaken the effec- 
tives of the revolutionary party, which loses its best 
members, the most energetic and the most devoted ; 
it weakens the organization and even the propaganda ; 
for why waste time in organizing the labouring masses 
if one can command an instrument so " effective " and 
giving such rapid results as terrorism in the imagina- 
tion of those who apply it? Again, terrorism offers 
such scope to the agents- provocateurs that in the end 
the whole organization of the party becomes a pla 
thing in the hands of the secret police, which very 
thing has happened to the Revolutionary Socialist party 
in Russia. M. Bourtzev has shown that during more 
than ten years all the central organisms of the party 
were under the supervision, if not under the direction, 
of a certain Azev, " the greatest provocateur in the 


The dismal history of the terrorist organization of 
the - Revolutionary Socialist party, provoked a reaction 
against the tactics of terrorism among the members 
of the party itself. In 1909 (subsequently to the revela- 
tions of Bourtzev), at the meeting of the council of 
this party, some of the delegates declared against the 
terrorist method, and proposed that the party should 
officially renounce it. In support of this proposal they 
employed the arguments which are always employed 
by the Marxists in their polemics against individual 
terrorism. They stated that terrorism was at one time 
plausible, that " it was imagined that the political con- 
flict in Russia was of a Titanic character — that is, 
that it partook of the character of the struggle of 
a group of individuals against another group of 
individuals " ; but actually " when the political struggle 
has become a class conflict " one cannot allow terrorism, 
because an act of individual terrorism cannot change 
the social system. 1 

However, the majority of the party leaders would not 
admit this argument, and decided to retain terrorism, 
if not in practice, at least in principle. 

It must be mentioned (as I have already said in 
Modern Russia) that the ** principle " of individual 
terrorism agrees with the mentality of an intellectual, 
because an intellectual, not participating directly in 
the material mechanism of economic life, and being 
" independent " of it, is very slightly sensible of the 
bond between him and the social mass, is inclined to 
oppose his " personality " to society, and considers the 
phenomena of social life as the manifestations of indi- 
vidual wills. Seeing in the social organization a com- 
bination of individuals, an intellectual easily comes to 
believe that one may alter this organization by 
suppressing such or such a person. 

1 See the report of the Debates upon Terrorism in the Council of the 
Russian Revolutionary Socialist Parly, May 1909 (Le Socialiste Revolution- 
naire, No. 2, Paris, 1910). 



To understand, the political mentality of a Russian 
intellectual, we must have recourse to the works of 
those writers who have formulated the social and moral 
philosophy of Populism, above all the works of Peter 
Lavrov and Nicholas Mikhailovsky. 

" How has history progressed? " asks Lavrov in 
his celebrated Historic Letters. " What has pushed 
it onward? Isolated personalities. . . . Energetic, 
fanatical men, risking everything and ready to sacrifice 
everything, are necessary. Martyrs are necessary, whose 
real qualities and effective merits are often far sur- 
passed by their legend. They will be endowed with 
energy which they did not possess. The noblest 
thoughts, the finest sentiments elaborated by their 
disciples, will be put into their mouths. To the crowd 
they will become an inaccessible ideal, impossible of 
realization. But their story will inspire thousands of 
men with the energy which is necessary for the con- 
flict. . . . The number of those who perish does not 
matter. Legend will multiply it to an extreme limit 
. . . the whole of social progress depends on the 
activity of isolated personalities." " 

The same idea is expressed by another eminent 
narodnik, N. Mikhailovsky, in his work on The Heroes 
of the Crowd. It is interesting to note that the theory 
of " personalities which create history," which, in its 
day, was popular in the West, receives a sort of local 
colour in Russia. In particular, our narodniki assert 
that in Russia the role of a " conscious personality " 
may be much more important than in Europe. Why? 
Because the social environment of Russia is more 
uniform, less varied. Therefore an idea or an example 
may have a great power of contagion in such an 
environment. As we see, a defect is once again trans- 
formed into a virtue ; the uniformity and the unim- 

1 P. Mirtov (pseudonym of Lavrov), Historical Letters (Petersburg, 
1870), pp. 108, 109, MI. 


portant variation which are the proofs of a backward 
condition become, for our narodniki, an advantage. 

The problem of the role of personality in history is 
narrowly connected with the philosophy of history in 
general. It was especially upon this point that the 
discussion between the narodniki and the Marxists was 
centred. The narodniki declared that the objective, 
determinist method offered by Marxism for the ex- 
planation and appreciation of historical phenomena is 
not sufficient, that it must be replaced by the sub- 
jective or ethical method. A historian must be at 
the same time a moralist, said Mikhailovsky. He must 
not only establish the causes and consequences of events, 
but must judge them according to its ethical and social 

This historical and moralizing " subjectivism " is in 
reality merely a form of dualism in historical and social 
science. We shall find this dualism again in the 
Nihilists. Materialistic monists in the natural sciences, 
they were spiritualists and dualists in the domain of 
history and sociology, and in Pisarev we find almost 
the same subjectivist conception of philosophy as in 
Mikhailovsky. But Pisarev felt that the subjective 
method as applied to the social science was in contra- 
diction to the materialistic monism of the naturalistic 
philosophy. Not knowing how to resolve this contra- 
diction, Pisarev simply excluded the social sciences 
(geography, anthropology, and statistics excepted) from 
the domain of " exact " and positive sciences. Mikhail- 
ovsky did worse — he sought to legitimize the subjective 
and anti-scientific method in the social sciences. 

The Russian Marxists believed, on the contrary, that 
they ought to continue the materialistic tradition, and 
apply it to the social sciences and to the philosophy of 
history. HThey declared that ideals are only a forecast 
of historical necessity, and that any attempt to construct 
a social ideal outside this forecast is futile. Human 
ideals are determined by social conditions, not by class 
interests. Those ideals are justifiable and progressive} 


which belong to the progressive classes. As the indus- 
trial proletariat is a class of the future, and one of the 
most progressive forces, it is the ideal of this class 
which must be accepted and defended by all those who 
wish to contribute to the progress of humanity. But 
as the industrial proletariat develops and becomes more 
and more numerous, powerful, and conscious as capital- 
ism develops, a true partisan of progress and the revo- 
lution cannot uphold in any measure an institution 
which places obstacles in the way of this development. 

From this point of view the Marxists pronounced 
against all attempts to artificially maintain the mir, 
while the narodniki even demanded a special legis- 
lation to maintain it. The Marxists declared vain all 
the socialistic hopes which the narodniki based on the 
peasants, and easily demonstrated that the peasants 
did not represent a single social class ; that in the 
interior of the rural commune an economic differentia- 
tion has come about, and a social conflict has developed. 
They also oppose the idea that the " intellectuals " 
constitute a separate social group, and assert that class 
conflicts and class mentality are reflected in the ideology 
of the various groups of intellectuals. 

The conflict between the narodniki and the Marxists 
was extremely violent. The narodniki interpreted the 
economic determinism of the Marxists as a form of 
admiration of capitalism, and accused them of being 
friends of the exploiting classes. 

The insurrection of 1905 put these two doctrines to 
the test. The narodnitshestvo was divided, during and 
after the revolution of 1905, into three different cur- 
rents ; and this division very plainly revealed the weak 
points of the movement. Its left wing, inspired by the 
idea that personality " creates " history, and that the 
laws of capitalistic evolution are not applicable to 
Russia, adopted a sort of anarchism, proclaiming the 
" maximalist " theory, according to which Russia might 
immediately, without any delay, realize the maximum 
programme of the Socialist party ; that is to say, might 


bring about a social revolution and leapt directly from 
the semi-feudal autocratic regime into the Socialist 
Paradise. The "maximalists" began to effect the 
M social revolution " by inviting the workers to possess 
themselves of the factories and workshops, and by 
forming " groups " which committed acts of terrorism 
and expropriation. This movement very soon degene- 
rated into simple brigandage. 

The right wing of the narodnitshestvo, on the other 
hand, assumed the character of a peasants' party, not 
particularly socialistic, but extremely democratic as far 
as its political programme was concerned. The Labour 
group in the Duma and the " Popular Socialist " group 
represent this tendency. The M Centre " of the narod- 
nitshestvo, represented by the official organizations of 
the Revolutionary Socialist party, remains the guardian 
of the orthodox doctrine of the movement. Its pro- 
gramme is an eclectic mixture of communal federalism 
of a semi-Bakunist type and State Centralism, and 
the naive belief in the " communist " sentiments of the 
members of the rural mir and the desires of the indus- 
trial proletariat. The disintegration of the party con- 
tinues ; certain of its elements are inclining toward the 
" Labourites," others toward the Anarchists, and others 
toward Social Democracy. 

As for Social Democracy, it remains far more united, 
from the point of view of theory, than the narodnit- 
shestvo. But in Russian Social Democracy there are 
also internal movements. Even before the Revolution 
of 1905 there were lively disputes among the Russian 
Marxists . Some of those who had accepted the Marxist 
doctrine afterwards found it necessary to " revise " it. 
They renounced historical materialism, returning to the 
metaphysical conceptions of Kant or of Nietzsche. 
Many of the leaders of the Liberal movement in Russia 
(such as Peter Struve, founder of the *' Cadet " party) 
formed their present ideology by means of revising 
Marxism . 

After the Revolution of 1905 we witness a new 


" revision " of the Marxist doctrine. But this time 
it is not based upon the philosophy of Kant or of 
Nietzsche, but on " Machism," that is, on the ideas of 
Ernst Mach, a well-known Viennese physician. This 
attempt did not meet with much success. The 
" Machists " were received by the violent criticism 
of the orthodox Marxists, and Plekhanov in particular. 
Thirty years earlier the chief duty of upholding Marxist 
ideas in Russia had fallen upon him, and he had 
acquitted himself with the greatest brilliancy. 
" Machism " recruited a few disciples among the 
intellectuals, but the Social-Democratic workers 
remained indifferent to it. 

As to their theoretical opinions the Socialist workers 
in general are far more stable and conservative in 
Russia than the " intellectuals." From the moment 
when Social -Democratic Marxism 1 had penetrated the 
labour world, it acquired a very strong position. Russia, 
who gave to the world Marx's most powerful enemy, 
Bakunin, has become, by the irony of history, in respect 
of its Socialist proletariat, one of the chief fortresses of 
Marxism. But, as I have elsewhere remarked, Marxism 
and Russian Social Democracy are not identical in 
German eyes. 

The Russian Marxists are fond of saying that the 
true revolutionary Marxism is a synthesis of three 
elements : the dialectic philosophy of Germany, the 
revolutionary practice of France, and the history of 
economic evolution in England. Generally speaking, 
the Russian Socialists and Revolutionists are to-day 
divided, in the matter of tactics, into two schools u 
those who want to M speak German," that is, they 
recommend a gradual organization and a reforming 
opportunism, and those who wish to " speak French," 
that is, those who prefer that the revolutionary impulses 
of the popular masses should work out their own 
destinies. The adherents of the " French method " are 
in the majority among the more thoughtful elements 
of the party. ^ , 


We have followed the development of the relations 
between Russia and Europe, and the diffusion of Euro- 
pean influences in the various domains of the material, 
social, political, and intellectual life of the Russian 
people. We have seen that the influence of European 
elements in Russia is already several centuries old, and 
is very extensive— more so, perhaps, than Europeans 
themselves believe. 

The facts expounded in the present work show that 
the destinies of Russia are closely bound up with the 
future of Europe. Not only in the sense that Europe has 
struck indestructible roots in the economic domain and 
the political life of Russia, but also because for Russia 
the general type of life and historic evolution is the same 
as for the West. 

Of course, we cannot say that the Europeanization of 
Russia is already accomplished. Economically speak- 
ing, that is, as regards the forms of labour and ex- 
change, it is already complete in Russian industry, and 
more or less complete in Russian commerce. In rural 
exploitation it is still very incomplete. 

But it is especially the political system of Russia 
which is out of date and too Oriental, and which con- 
sequently offers a striking contrast with that of the 
European States. At the present moment, then, it is 
to the political system that the process of Europeaniza- 
tion must be extended, in order to adapt it to the 
economic environment, and to subject it to the con- 
science and aspirations of society. This conscience is 
well expressed by these words of Dostoievsky's : — 



"We Russians have two countries: our Russia, and 

What do we need? That our country shall cease to, 
be a European Russia and shall become a Russian 
Europe. • This formula synthetizes what is good in 
Russia and in Europe. Its realization will allow Russia 
to work in common with other European countries for 
the future of the human species. 

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