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Nomadic Survivals 5 

Apolism 35 

Environment 57 

Old Russian Life 76 

Byzantinism and the Three Unities 93 

Domestic Slavery 110 

The Religious Protest 126 

Western Enlightenment 145 

First Fruits 160 

Mysticism and Pessimism 179 

The Dynamic Period 193 

Personal Characteristics 212 

Modern Irritations 231 

Europe and the Revolt : The Future 252 






The Russian plain, as I saw it almost unin- 
termittingly during a ten days' journey in the 
summer of 1882, has a strange power of re- 
producing some of those illusions that are prop- 
erly called marine. At sea most people have 
noticed how largely the apparent extent of the 
prospect offered to the eye of a spectator de- 
pends on the state of the waters, or rather upon 
the particular character of their surface at the 
moment of observation. Should the waves run 
high, presenting their optical effect in a com- 
paratively few concentrated masses of large 
dimensions, the sense of extension is weakened, 
and the sky line made to assume a nearness not 
its due. But when the disturbance is over, and 
there are left only tiny waves, little more than 
ripples, the horizon seems to have receded to a 
distance relatively immense. It is this false 
vastness of surface, suggested to the eye by 


great multiplicity and regularity, as well as 
minuteness, of detail, that gives so much of its 
aspect to the landscape of European Russia, 
and to a traveler, plodding day after day over 
steppe and plain, seems to swell a territory by 
no means in need of exaggeration into dimen- 
sions almost too abnormal for even the imagina- 
tion. And the sensation is the same whether 
one experience it in the barren governments of 
the southeast, or amid the activities of com- 
munal agriculturists in the rich regions of the 
" black earth." Summer or winter, seed time 
or harvest, the same smooth plateau widens out 
as the eye follows to its union with the sky, 
and the same circular rim bounds vision with a 
line that often looks regular enough to be made 
the base of an astronomical calculation. Un- 
dulations of surface are very rare, and when 
met with sometimes denote mere fluent masses 
of sand or mud-dust that have been capriciously 
arranged by the wind. Interruptions of the 
monotony are, in fact, so insignificant that, 
instead of serving as correctives, they actually 
seem to add to the general sense of flatness, 
whether it be conveyed by plain, forest, or 

At a very early period of its history, Russia 
in Europe was all but overrun by forests. To- 
day the traveler may cross vast tracts of the 


country without seeing a single tree. Accord- 
ing to some native writers, nothing more is 
needed than the destruction of a few woods to 
turn the whole of European Russia into a 
"desert steppe." 1 The absence of accessible 
stone formations, and particularly of moun- 
tains, is more marked still. Hence, no doubt, 
the attraction which all hill scenery has to the 
modern Russian. It is a strange fact, more- 
over, that to mountain scapes, Russian litera- 
ture is indebted for some of its finest produc- 
tions. Exiled, as each of them was at different 
times, to the Caucasus Mountains, both Pushkin 
and Lermontov 2 found rich stores of poetic ma- 
terial in that sublime range. All who know 
this part of the country will agree with me 
when I say that scarcely any contrast in scenery 
can be conceived at all so striking or so likely 
to preside at the birth of new ideas as the con- 
trast thus offered between the flat land of 
European Russia and the heights of which 
Pushkin wrote : — 

"Eternal thrones of snow, 
Whose lifted summits gloom to the gaze 
Like one unbroken, motionless chain of clouds; 
And in their midst the twin-peaked colossus, 

i "Pustinnaya step." St. Petersburg Novosti, Oct. 4, 1883. 

2 Griboyedov, another Russian author, wrote also within sight 
of the Caucasus his celebrated comedy, The Misfortune of Hav- 
ing Brains. 


The giant monarch of mountains, Elbrus, 
Whitens up into heaven's blue deep." 

That mountains are not commonplace objects 
in Russia, and that the Eastern Slav must 
travel for them to the Ural chain, to the Cau- 
casus, or to Switzerland, seems even to have 
attained a certain expression in the proverbial 
philosophy of the common people, who speak 
of things at a great distance as "beyond the 
mountains." 1 

To what extent, then, and in what especial 
manner, has the course of history and eiviliza-. 
tion in Russia been influenced by physical 
peculiarities of contour and surface? What 
does the GreaT Russian owe to race, and what 
to geographical position? Underlying all pos- 
sible answers that may be given to these ques- 
tions are two facts on which some emphasis 
should be laid ; for not only have the Russians 
been exposed to a series of peculiar influences 
not paralleled by any single case of racial 
development in western Europe, but all Russian 
phenomena of to-day, be the^c-social, political, 
religious, jm Jiterary., will be found to~ have a 
special character, rendering their reconciliation 
with apparently inter-related phenomena in 
other countries wholly impossible. M. Pelle- 

1 "Za gorami." This is scarcely related to the German "iiber 
alle Berge." 


tan 1 says happily that every civilization has an 
involuntary collaborateur within its own terri- 
tory ; and in Russia the influence of this silent 
helper must have been immense. The " coun- 
lES Lof plains^. ' as the historian Soloviev calls it, 
was from the first marked out for a kind of 
development fundamentally different <_ from that 
of the older western civilizations. L Pl ains in- 
vite to movement and migration, just as hills 
and mountains attach men to particular spots 
of the earth's surface^ In European Russia 
this wandering tendency had special circum- 
stances in its favor, since, while it was often 
nothing more than a protest against absolutism 
and centralization, it actually formed one of the 
indispensable conditions of the national devel- 

Nor could migratory movements fail to be 
largely promoted by influences such as those of 
race, intermingling, and environment. Let us 
suppose for a moment that the Great Russian 
started his racial career as a genuine Slav of the 
purest Ar yan stock. It by no means necessarily 
follows that his lineal descendant of to-day has 
no Tnra.njp.n hlnnrl j n his vein s, no Asiatic cus- 
toms in the various forms of his social and re- 
ligious life. The theory of a pure Slav race of 
Great Russians has ceased to have attraction 

i Profession de Foi du XIX Steele . Paris. 


even for the Slavs themselves. It is not in ac- 
cordance with well-known facts. In the earlier 
part of their national existence, the Russians 
occupied scarcely a fifth part of the territory 
which they claim in the Europe of to-day. On 
the north and east and southeast they were 
closely hemmed in by races of Turanian or- 
igin, of wandering habits and AsiaHc'ciistoms. 
They lived in every-day contact with the Finns, 
the Cheremiss, the Pechenegs, the Mordvs, and 
Kazars. What, then, became of these peoples 
in the gradual expansion of the Slav colonies to 
the north and west ? Were they simply driven 
back into Asia? 

The evidence available shows that these Ta- 
tar-Turkish races were in a large measure ab- 
sorbed. The Finnish traits of many Russian 
faces seen in the northern cities clearly testify 
to blood alliances on the part of the Slavs with 
their nomad neighbors, while in the west, ac- 
cording to Mr. Wallace, race-intermingling has 
left its mark upon whole districts. Transmis- 
sion of habits, moreover, must have taken place 
quite independently of alliances such as these. 
M. Soloviev, in explaining the difference be- 
tween Russian and west European customs, 
expressly alludes, not only to internal causes, 
but to " the constant contact and relations of 
the Russians with Asiatic peoples, providing 


for the absorption of the latter and for the 
transmission of their habits." 1 

What, again, is absorption ? Not a few wri- 
ters use the term as if it were synonymous with 
disappearance. This is a manifest error. A 
type can no more cease to be than the materials 
of which it is composed. The function of much 
of this so-called " dying out " seems to be the 
very useful one of preparing a new race for 
new conditions by a process of acclimatization 
much more rapid than the ordinary one of air 
and food. In some cases absorption serves as a 
sort of drawbridge over which inferior peoples 
hasten from adverse conditions to a place of 
racial safety. If, therefore, where absorption 
took place, the early Slavs contributed to the 
new ethnol ogical modification such elements as 
character, energy, daring, initiative, intellect, 
enterprise, the nomads giving form, structure, 
some habits and more traditions, we can easily 
understand how a glow of new life would arise 
in the men of the plains, and how to the Slavs 
would come, it may be, hereditary memories of 
a more eastern existence, hereditary sympathies 
with wild movements and migrations, of which 
the only sentiment of nationality was the sense 
of numbers, the likeness of faces, the community 
of purpose. But a speculation such as this in- 

i Uchtbnaya Kniga russkoy Istorii. 


dicates only the kind of influence likely to be 
exerted upon the Slav colonies by the Tataric 
populations of Eastern Russia. Leaving aside 
all supposition or inference, the fact remains, 
of an absolute certainty, that the processes men- 
tioned — of race-intermingling on the one hand, 
and close e^tlm ojogic al contact on the other — 
were continued through very considerable pe- 
riods of time, and that each tended to the 
modification of the Russian character by the 
transference of racial habits and customs. 

The Mongol invasion still further helped to 
give an Asiatic turn to the earlier forms of Rus- 
sian civilization. Remembering that for two 
hundred years the country was occupied and 
dominated by men of high cheek-bones, of eyes 
set obliquely, and of sallow visage, speaking a 
Tatar tongue, one cannot think it strange that 
Asiatic traits should now and then rise to the 
ethnological surface of modern Russia. Some 
historians attach little, others great, importance 
to the Tatar period of Russian history. Na- 
tional sensitiveness and pride have influenced 
native writers on this subject when they have 
thought themselves most impartial, yet M. Gri- 
goriev, a St. Petersburg professor, writes : — 

" There was a time when Orthodox Russia seemed 
thoroughly Tatar. Everything in it except its relig- 
ion was permeated and impregnated with Tatardom, 


in the same degree, if not more so, as it is now im- 
pregnated with Western ideas. . . . Not only in ex- 
ternals — in dress, manners, and habits of life — did 
the Russian princes and boyards, the Russian officials 
and merchants, imitate the Tatars, but in everything 
— their feelings, ideas, and aspirations in the region 
of practical life — they were in the strongest way in- 
fluenced by Tatardom. Our ancestors received this 
Tatar influence during two hundred years, at first 
from an unwilling, but afterwards from an habitual 
conformity to the tone and manners and morals that 
reigned at Sarai, 1 which in those times bore the same 
relation to us as subsequently fell to the lot of Paris. 
. . . During the whole of the Moscow period up to 
the time of Peter the Great, the statecraft and politi- 
cal management of the Russian Tsars and magnates 
continued to be in every respect Tatar. So that 
without acquaintance with real Tatardom it is impos- 
sible correctly to understand many phases in Russian 

The more superficial results of the Mongol 
domination are easily discovered. The trav- 
eler cannot bargain with the droshky driver 
in St. Petersburg without hearing words that 
were imported into Russian from an Asiatic 
speech. The Russian habit of eating food, 
usually rice, in commemoration of dead rela- 
tives, is clearly of Tatar origin. When Rus- 
sian funeral processions pause for a few mo- 

1 Seat of the Mongol Khans. 


ments at churches in their line of march, they 
are doing precisely what certain Turanian races 
do on like occasions in Central Asia. To call 
the residence of royalty at St. Petersburg the 
" Above," or " Tip-Top " ( VerkK), is a habit of 
speech borrowed from a purely nomad fashion 
of designating the official domiciles of semi-bar- 
barian monarch s beyond the Urals. For a 
considerable period of the national history, opu- 
lent Russians wore the tafya, or skull-cap, now 
in use among the Sarts of Tashkent, and the 
Tatar Mahommedans ; like the men of the des- 
ert, they shaved their heads. 1 Many Russian 
dances are of Asiatic origin. The Russian 
equivalents for " dog," " water-melon," " night- 
cap," " shoe," " boot," " belt," " cossack," are 
all borrowed from Tatar languages. Kvas, the 
popular Russian drink, is generally used in 
China. Med, also a Russian beverage, was 
known to the barbarous races of Central Asia. 
The striking similarity between the Tatar 
customs of to-day and the Russian customs of 
three centuries ago is shown by the following 
juxtaposed extracts descriptive of the two 
periods : — 

1 Ocherk domashnei zhizni i nravov velikorusshavo naroda v 
xvi i xvii stolyetiakh. N. I. Kostomarava. Page 103. 



Moscow. — First Half of 

16 th Century, 
The prince himself point- 
ed to the seat, both by word 
and gesture. When we 
had duly saluted the prince 
from this spot, the inter- 
preter translated our com- 
munication. After hearing 
our salutation, he arose, 
and descending from his 
seat, said, " Is our brother 
Charles, Emperor and Su- 
preme King of the Ro- 
mans, well V " To which 
the Count replied, "He is 
well." Ascending the 
steps, he called each of us 
to him and said, " Give 
me thy hand ; hast thou 
traveled well on thy jour- 
ney?" To which each of 
us replied, u Heaven grant 
that thou mayst live in 
health many years. By 
the grace of God and thy 
favor, I have been well." . . . 
It is the custom, after din- 
ner, for him to say to the 
ambassadors, "Now you 
may depart." — Interview 
with Vassily Ivanovich. 

Central Asia. — 1874. 

As I drew near, the mas- 
ters of the ceremonies ut- 
tered the usual loud cry, 
" God, make his majesty, 
Amir Mozaffar, powerful 
and victorious ! " . . . As I 
entered the tent, the Amir 
turned and smilingly held 
out his hand, took mine, 
and said, " General, Aman ! 
Is the General well ? " I re- 
plied, " Aman, he is well." 
He then gave his hand to the 
interpreter and motioned to 
us to sit down facing him 
at the end of the tent. . . . 
1 thanked him for the per- 
mission, and waited a mo- 
ment longer. He began to 
look uneasily towards the 
door. The taksuba ap- 
peared, and the Amir said, 
" Now, go ! " upon which we 
immediately took our leave. 
— Interview with the Bek of 
Khitab, Bukhara. Schuy- 



Russia. — First Half of 

16th Century. 
They [the Russians] ob- 
serve this custom in meeting 


ambassadors going to Rus- 
sia. They send a messenger 
to the ambassador to desire 
him to alight from his horse 
or carriage. . . . The dele- 
gate takes watchful heed not 
to alight first from his horse 
or carriage, lest by doing 
so he should seem to dero- 
gate from his master's dig- 
nity, and will not alight 
until he has first seen the 
ambassador dismount. — 

Central Asia. — 1874. 

Three miles from town, I 
met the assistant of the 
Bek [of Khitab], with his 
suite, when we all alighted 
and embraced one another, 
each, however, taking par- 
ticular pains not to derogate 
from his dignity by alight- 
ing too soon. I had soon 
learnt whether to dismount 
first or last, or whether to 
watch the motions of the 
dignitary who met me, and 
so manage it that we should 
put our feet on the ground 
at one and the same mo- 

ment. — Schuyler. 
Turgeniev wrote somewhere : " With my 
eyes shut, listening in Russia to the rustling of 
the leaves, I should be able to tell the season, 
or even the month of the year." The Russian 
novelist had a faculty not at all common to 
dwellers in west European cities. Indeed, the 
conditions of our older civilizations neither pro- 
duce acuteness of the senses, nor encourage its 
survival. The Slavs, on the other hand, boast 
of the sharpness of their vision, and the white- 
ness of their teeth ; their physical powers of 
endurance could scarcely be greater had they 
directly descended from the followers of Chin- 


gis Khan. On this point both. Kinglake and 
Vereshchagin pay the most willing testimony. 
On the intellectual side of the question, the 
evidence is rather scant. It is a fact that the 
schot, or counting frame, is used all over Rus- 
sia, in the simplest as well as the most com- 
plicated arithmetical operations, by the lowest 
as well as the highest in the land. In Russia 
nobody seems capable of performing the sim- 
plest sum in addition or subtraction without 
help from the counting frame. I have seen 
a merchant deliberately take down the wires 
and balls in order, by putting two rows of 
the latter side by side, to ascertain that five 
and five made ten. Government officials per- 
form the most trifling calculations in the same 

This perpetual use of the sehot may seem to 
justify the inference that Russia!* mental powers 
are at fault. No more erroneous assumption 
could be even imagined. In the faculty of 
remembering, in receptivity for knowledge of 
all kinds, the Great Russian carries off the 
palm from all western competitors. Hence 
his proficiency in acquiring languages. In 
this single capacity lies reflected the whole 
busy world of racial movement within which 
Slav development took place. The Russian 
may inherit much of his receptivity from con- 


stantly repeated processes of adaptation to new 
circumstances and varying conditions ; but his 
memory is a racial characteristic and belongs to 
the blood. It has been suggested that Russians 
are easily linguists, because of special training in 
languages and of unusual facilities for acquiring 
them. The fact that most Russian families of 
the wealthier class are brought up in constant 
intercourse with foreign governesses and tutors 
proves nothing. Imported foreign governesses 
and tutors do not prevent many English fami- 
lies from acquiring their proficiency in foreign 
speech abroad. It must be remembered that 
in Russia this linguistic faculty is diffused in a 
very democratic fashion through all classes of 
society, priests and peasants alone excepted. 
Take the case of Russian students. A large 
number of them are very poor. Many of these 
ardent lovers of knowledge would never enjoy 
college or university education at all, were it 
not for the stipends they receive from the gov- 
ernment. In some cases, these stipends cover 
the cost of food and lodging, as well as of tui- 
tion. Yet it is exceedingly rare to meet with a 
Russian student who does not converse fluently 
in either French or German. Often the youth 
speaks both, and has a reading knowledge of 
other languages as well. It has been suggested 
that the Russians have a superior system of 


teaching languages. This is the worst expla- 
nation of all, since a born linguist will acquire 
languages under* the worst possible system, even 
without a system at all ; and no nation ever 
yet succeeded in maintaining a monopoly in 
methods of education. I must urge, therefore, 
that Russian facility in languages is a natural 
and not a merely acquired art, that it is a racial 
characteristic, favored in its development by 
peculiar circumstances of ethnologicaLgrowth, 
reference to which will be made" nereafter. It 
is this view of the matter that accounts for the 
acquirements of the father of Vladimir Mono- 
makh, who is said to have learned five lan- 
guages without quitting his palace ; and this 
view, also, that explains the ease and rapidity 
with which in these days Russians domiciled 
abroad adapt themselves to the lingual and so- 
cial conditions of their new environment. 

Habit and racial characteristics thus give 
coincident testimony as to the conditions of 
Russian development, both showing, however 
faintly, that its main features were restlessness, 
movement, migration. The evidence of history 
is stronger still. In its light we see how to 
the baby Slav, barely out of its cradle, destiny 
offered immense Volkerwanderungen as specta- 
cles. Nearly all the great historic processions 
entered Europe by way of Russia ; vast as was 


the road, touching barbarism on the one hand, 
civilization on the other, there were times when 
it seemed scarcely broad enough for the march 
of the races that, beginning with Hun and end- 
ing with Mongol, swarmed over it in almost 
uninterrupted succession. With such an envi- 
ronment around him, the Slav soon began mi- 
gratory movements on his own account. The 
openness of the land invited the exploits of the 
druzhiniki under their kniaz; a warlike spirit 
led to expeditions against the Turanian foe. 
Later, recoiling from Mongol exaction, attracted 
by the virgin soil of the great plains to the east, 
the Russians spread in ever increasing waves, 
until at last all the European territory of their 
present empire lay at the feet of the Slav colo- 
nist. Nor was this process, which ultimately 
carried the Russian emigrants into Siberia, one 
of mere expansion alone. It went on in Euro- 
pean Russia as a phase of the restlessness which 
in those days seemed to characterize all forms 
of life amongst the Slavs. There were wander- 
ing migrations as well as colonizing migrations. 
The working agriculturists rambled from estate 
to estate, from district to district, from govern- 
ment to government. The movement at last 
grew to such dimensions and had so disastrous 
an effect upon the national finances that, as a 
preventive measure, the laborer had to be at- 


tached to the glebe. Migrant habits thus led 
to that characteristic feature of Russian civiliza- 
tion, the enslavement of the tillers of the soil ; 
and if, anticipating somewhat, we look at a 
much later period of Russian history, we shall 
find that the need of migration to serfs dying 
off prematurely for lack of changed conditions 
was one of the arguments used and acted upon 
in favor of the emancipation ukaz of 1861. 1 
The movement was in great part checked by 
the preventive measures of B oris Godunav*. yet 
serfs oppressed by masters did not scruple to 
resume their earlier habits ; the Don Cossacks 
were for long periods recruited by fugitives of 
this class. Tension in religious circles also gave 
a powerful impulse to migration. Sectarians, 
intolerant of the ecclesiastical order of things 
imported from Constantinople and imposed up- 
on the people with the aid of Mongol blood, 
fled across the country, and plunging through 
trackless woods, wandering by the shores of 
lakes and seas, sought out quiet refuges for 
their ideals in religion. One of the protesting 
sects bears to this day the name " Stranniki," 
or Wanderers, its leading dogma being the ne- 
cessity of u a perpetual wandering from Anti- 
christ." ' Another body of dissenters, calling 
themselves " Christ seekers," wander from town 

1 See Turgeniev's Zapi&hi Okhotniki. 


to town, and from one government to another, 
in the hope of meeting the Saviour. 1 

Most of the historical migrations have ceased 
with the immediate causes which called them 
into being ; but the habit of wandering, of 
movement from place to place, has not disap- 
peared from Russia. New forms have been 
given to it by railways and steamboats. Siberia 
swarms with escaped convicts, whose wander- 
ings and depredations have brought into exis- 
tence the sport known as " vagabond hunting." 2 
The conditions created by emancipation favored 
the development of a class of laborers, half peas- 
ants, half artisans, who are confirmed migrants, 
spending part of the year in the country, the 
remainder of it in the town. In a sense, even 
religion is migrant in Russia. The lavra of 
Sergius is said to attract over a million pilgrims 
every year. 3 Kiev, with its tombs, icons, and 
relics, is also a spot where thousands of the 
orthodox annually gather from all parts of the 
Russian empire. Numerous fairs encourage 
movement at stated times in the year. Work- 
men rarely remain for any considerable period 
in one factory or district. The vastness of the 

1 Raslcolniki i Ostrozhniki. By Fiodor Vassilievich Livanov. 
St. Petersburg, 1873. 

2 " Okhota na brodyag." See an article in the now defunct 
Review, Otechestvenny Zapishi. Nov., 1882. 

s St. Petersburg Golos, 1865. No. 283. 


country, moreover, gives a migratory character 
to almost all forms of the movement of travel. 
Students who journey to St. Petersburg from 
the southern, central, or eastern governments of 
Russia, in order to spend several years of an 
educational course in a city which must become 
their home for that period, are as truly migrants 
as the early Russian colonists who settled ter- 
ritories east of the Urals, or as the Tatars who 
travel from Central Asia in order to wait at 
table in the hotels of St. Petersburg. And it 
may be more than a political instinct that leads 
so many Russians to exchange habitat with 
these swarthy sons of the desert. What espe- 
cially surprises a foreigner unaccustomed in 
Western Europe to eastern aspects of migration 
is the very large number of Russians domiciled 
on the banks of the Neva, whose homes may be 
at a distance of thousands of versts ; equally 
striking is the apparent ease with which even 
the poorest peasants make their way from one 
end of this vast empire to the other. The ef- 
fect of great extent of territory in enlarging 
one's ideas of travel is a common experience ; 
the Russian never seems more at home than 
when en voyage. Whether in the telega, the 
railway carriage, or the steamboat, he rarely be- 
trays consciousness either of distance or of di- 
vorce from any particular part of the territory 


which he calls his fatherland. The lines of 
railway seem at times to encourage wide views 
of this kind, since some of them, in their effort 
to compass vast distances, ignore large cities 
lying almost directly in their path. Thus the 
Russian locomotive is made to pass within two 
miles or less of such important centres of popu- 
lation as Tver, Orol, and Kursk. It is note- 
worthy that the word for "play" in Russian 
literally means " to walk." A child told that 
when a lesson is over it shall " go to walk " (idi 
gulyaf) anticipates play, not promenade. A 
wife unfaithful to her husband is said to " walk 
away " from him (gulyaet ot muzha). 

The evidence of language ought not to be 
lightly passed over. It will be found, as a rule, 
that wherever the racial habits and physical 
peculiarities of a people tend to create settled 
forms of social life; to discourage movement 
and lead to the aggregation of masses in partic- 
ular districts and centres ; to cause attachment 
to particular parts of a country apart from at- 
tachment to it as a whole, — there dialects will 
inevitably come into existence. The circum- 
stances are somewhat analogous to those under 
which pools and lagoons, originally deposited 
by a main stream, but finally severed from it, 
suffer from the cutting of their connection with 
the fresh waters. In countries where there is 


no migration to preserve the homogeneousness 
of the spoken tongue, districts become isolated 
from districts, towns from towns, people from 
people. There being no general diffusion of 
the standard customs of speech, differentiations 
take place, and from small departures the 
change goes on, until the people of one district 
or county become with difficulty intelligible to 
those of another. Such a process has taken 
place in almost all the older countries of Europe, 
notably in Greece, Italy, Germany, and France. 
The case of England is also of good illustrative 
value. The Saxon heptarchy in that country 
was once a heptarchy of dialects. Even to-day 
it needs a special study to qualify for reading 
in the Yorkshire, Lancashire, and Somersetshire 
varieties of the spoken tongue. A cockney 
brought up within the sound of Bow Bells 
would be lingually far more at home in New 
York than in the cottage of many a Rochdale 
cotton operative. Let us now turn to European 
Russia. Here is a country larger than all the 
rest of Europe put together, yet utterly devoid 
of dialects. 1 From the Baltic to the Caspian, 
from the Krim to the North Sea, wherever Great 
Russian is spoken by Great Russians, its pro- 

1 Polish, developed under different conditions, has a number of 
dialects, but is a member of the Slavic family — an independent 
speech, and not a dialect of Great Russian. Nor is Little Russian 
a dialect in the usual acceptation of the term. 


nunciation is practically the same. 1 And it is 
this capacity for being intelligible over a very 
wide area that is one of the characteristic fea- 
tures of Turanian (Asiatic) languages. An 
Osmanli from Constantinople can, it is said, 
make himself understood by a Yakut on the 
Lena. Ethnologists, while not accepting this 
statement without qualification, admit that the 
Turkish languages, when separated by enor- 
mous distances, are strangely alike. 2 

Nor is this all. In its very texture and com- 
position, the Russian language bears witness to 
the conditions under which Slav development 
took place. Max Muller writes : — 

" It is an indispensable requirement in a nomad lan- 
guage that it should be intelligible to many, though 
their intercourse be but scanty. It requires tradi- 
tions, society, and literature to maintain forms which 
can no longer be analyzed at once. ... In the ever- 
shifting state of a nomadic society, no debased coin 
can be tolerated in language, no obscure legend ac- 
cepted on trust. The metal must be pure and the 
legend distinct, that the one may be weighed and the 
other, if not deciphered, at least recognized .as a well- 
known guarantee. Hence the small proportion of 
irregular forms in all agglutinative languages." 

Now, Russian is not a nomad tongue, but a 

1 The enunciation of the o is not always uniform. 

2 Volkerkunde, by Oscar Peschel. 


member of the Indo-European family of lan- 
guages, yet some of its peculiarities approximate 
in a striking manner to those described as req- 
uisite to the speech of a wandering people. The 
agglutinative power of the language is noticed 
by Professor Sayce, 1 who further observes : " In 
Russian the participles have replaced the aorist 
and imperfect, which have also been lost in 
Ruthenian, though retained in Servian and Bul- 
garian ; and in this change we may perhaps 
trace the influence of those Tatar tribes whose 
blood enters so largely into that of the modern 
Russian community." 2 But the testimony may 
be carried much further than the extent to 
which Professor Sayce draws upon it. Take 
the case of irregular forms, of which we have 
seen nomad languages to be so intolerant. The 
tongues of settled races are overrun with them. 
French has 72 irregular verbs, Romaic 88, 
Swedish 141, German 217, Italian 514. The 
number of irregular verbs in Russian isJL3. It 
is requisite to the language of a migratory peo- 
ple that its forms shall be intelligible at a 
glance — that as little shall be left to the con- 
text as possible. Russian leaves nothing to the 
context. " Love " in English may be either a 

1 Introduction to the Science of Language, vol. ii., p. 95. 

2 I quote Professor Sayce's statement for philological rather than 
for historic purposes. 


verb or a noun. The noun in Russian is " lyu- 
bov ; " the verb " lyubit." Russian verbs, more- 
over, go armed with a whole paraphernalia of 
variations, insuring a closeness of analysis, an 
exactness of definition, and a general intelli- 
gibility that in most modern Indo-European 
tongues would appear altogether superfluous. 
For a learner to use accurately a Russian verb, 
he must first decide whether he wishes to ex- 
press completed action, incompleted action, 
single action, plurality of action, single per- 
fect action, or commencing action. Supposing 
" spoke," the past tense of speak, were Russian, 
the choice would lie between such forms as 
" waspoke " (" I spoke " — completed action),. 
" spwke " ( " I spoke once " — sem elf active), 
" spavoke " (" I spoke more than once " — iter- 
ative), "zaspoke" (" I began to speak" — 
commencing action), and "spoke" ("I was 
speaking " — incompleted action). This striv- 
ing after precision and intelligibility is further 
seen in nouns expressing relationship. Instead 
of using forms possessing a certain inter-resem- 
blance, such as " father-in-law," " mother-in- 
law," " beau-pere" " beau-frere" etc., the Rus- 
sian language has separate terms for presenting 
the distinctions between the father of the wife 
and the father of the husband, the mother of 
the wife and the mother of the husband, and so 


on, throughout the inter-relationships of blood 
and marriage. Russian patronymics illustrate 
the same habits of language. Greater closeness 
of description is obtained in names by adding 
the paternal designation, so that, instead of a 
man being called Peter Orlov, or a woman Mary 
Romanov, he becomes " John Orlov's Peter," 
and she " Vassily Romanov's Mary." 1 I shall 
only add that in Russian there are few homo- 
nyms, and an almost complete absence of pho- 
netic resemblances like " wright," " right," 
" rite," " write," etc. 

The eating habits of modern Russians are not 
altogether without traces of the influence of 
primitive custom and race environment. It is 
well known that life on the plains — whether it 
be spent in hunting or have a pastoral charac- 
ter — leads to irregularity in eating. Such an 
existence tends, owing to the long fasts often 
involved, to encourage the merging of several 
small meals into a single substantial one, capa- 
ble of carrying the hunter or agriculturist over 
the needs of, say, a whole day. Herberstein, 2 
writing in the sixteenth century, speaks of Rus- 
sians who, having had one good dinner, abstained 
from meat for two or three days. Meals at 

1 Literally, " The Johnian Peter Orlov," "the Vassilyan Mary- 

2 German ambassador to the court of Ivan Vassilievich at 


stated hours, at the rate of three and four in 
the day, could only be taken when a regular 
division had been made in the hours of daily 
labor, and this division implies a well-developed 
urban organization. In Russia a tendency lin- 
gers to postpone eating until the middle of the 
day, — that is to say, until the midday meal. 
Breakfast is almost ignored by large classes of 
the population. It rarely consists of more than 
a glass of weak tea, with a small morsel of 
bread or cake added on rare occasions. Yet 
on the strength of such light pabulum as this I 
have seen active officials and business men sally 
forth for five hours of the most arduous work 
of the day. For tea, which is a meal scarcely 
more substantial than breakfast, there is no dis- 
tinctive name in Russian, the invitation to it 
being simply, " Come to drink tea ! " x 

The noticeable characteristic of Russian food 
is the ease with which it is prepared, and the 
facility with which it may be carried about. 
The consumption of dried fish is exceedingly 
large ; very small kinds of fish are eaten raw. 
The joke about candle-eating in Russia probably 
arose out of the fact that in the territory of the 
river Kura the minoga (petromyson fluviatilis), & 
sort of fluvial lamprey, is dried for use as a can- 
dle or torch. The native cookery, on the other 

^ i "Idftygchaipit." 


hand, is of the simplest. The people, for the 
most part, eat bread without butter. In " table 
manners " the Russians are fond of excelling. 
Yet, under special circumstances, two persons, 
falling to with fork, may eat out of a single 
plate without committing any breach of social 
propriety. This survival has a smack of ata- 
vism about it, since in the sixteenth and seven- 
teenth century, as mentioned by Mr. Kostoma- 
rov, 1 it was the custom to seat guests at table 
at the rate of two to a plate. The Russian 
habit of sleeping after meals has a still higher 
historical justification. That severe code of 
domestic morals, the " Domostro'i," 2 expressly 
warns the guest not to remain too long, in 
order that the host's postprandial siesta may 
not be interfered with. Why this fashion of 
midday slumber survived in Russia will be best 
set forth in the succeeding chapter : that it 
would speedily disappear amid the feverish ur- 
ban and industrial activities of Western Europe 
is evident. 

Two habits remain, which there is the strong- 
est ground for describing as primarily due to 
the influences of steppe life upon the physical 
organism. The Russians have a marked aver- 
sion to water, and a liking not less strong for 
tea. The same choice of tea as beverage, with 

l " Ocherk," etc. 2 F rom the fifteenth century. 


the same dislike of water as its exciting cause, 
is found amongst the races of the desert and 
plain in Asia, notably the Tatars, Kalmucks, 
and Khirgiz. In categorical, if somewhat unfor- 
tunate connection with the predilection for tea 
stands the habit of spitting ; whatever this may- 
mean in other countries, when Russians expec- 
torate it is a sign of disgust. In his romance, 
" Smoke," Turgeniev mentions the publication 
at Heidelberg by a group of Russian emigrants 
of a journal, on the title-page of which ap- 
peared the words, " A tout venant je crache." 
The habit is frequently pointed to in Slav lit- 
erature. As I write Zacharjasiewicz's Polish 
novel " Na Kresach " is lying before me. On 
the first page of the first chapter occur these 
words : " Maciejaszek splunal trzy razy i prze- 
zegnal sie," — " Maciejaszek spat three times 
and crossed himself." The "Domostro'i" en- 
joins its readers not to spit carelessly at table, 
but rather to spit with caution, and then to 
destroy the evidences of the act with the foot. 
A habit that could meet with such realistic justi- 
fication as this from the pen of an ecclesiastical 
dignitary and state counselor must have had a 
more solid ethnological foundation than that of 
mere coarseness of manners. Are we not justi- 
fied in seeking its origin in some wide steppe or 
desert land, where the flying sand-dust was with 


difficulty prevented from entering eyes, ears, 
nostrils, and mouth, and where an act of expec- 
toration became an act of cleanliness not un- 
naturally associated with a temporary feeling 
of disgust? 

On the whole, the justification seems abun- 
dant and irresistible that, partly because of 
racial and inherited tendencies, partly owing to 
influence of environment and race-intermin- 
gling, as well as to contagiousness of habits, 
manners, and customs, and partly, as the more 
secular cause, in consequence of the general cir- 
cumstances of a peculiar national development, 
the Russians are more remarkable than any 
other people of Aryan blood for the ease with 
which they change the place of their domicile, 
and for the migrant character of their lives and 
activities. /It is fair, moreover, to say that 
these characteristics have played a highly im- 
portant part in giving its form, its institutions, 
and its difficulties, to the modern Russian state. 
And while, on the one hand, migrant habits 
have tended to stimulate that pride of individ- 
uality, that love of liberty and of free institu- 
tions which, as I shall hereafter show, form the 
foundation of the Slav character and genius, 
on the other they have weakened the resist- 
ance of the masses and facilitated the arrange- 
ments of absolute power. , Russian energies 




have been largely dispersed in steppe and plain. 
Engaged in colonizing vast tracts of virgin ter- 
ritory rather than in improving the apparatus 
and increasing the comfort of life within the 
confines of towns, they have had few opportu- 
nities of bringing into existence any robust 
conception of urban independence and civic 
rights. This phenomenon of apolism — this 
meagre development of towns and town activi- 
ties — came to be the natural corollary of mi- 
grant, unsettled habits. How it manifested 
itself, and what were its results, will be shown 
in the succeeding chapter. 


The facts of city life in Russia, whether 
regarded as results or merely as concomitant 
phenomena, will be found quite in harmony 
with the conditions of national development 
already set forth. Circumstances inimical to 
the spirit of urban life have hindered the 
growth of Russian towns from the first. The 
early Slavs not only were without conception 
of city existence, but did not even live in 
houses. Karamzin 1 mentions the names of four 
tribes of Russian Slavs who dwelt habitually in 
the woods; the same historian cites testimony 
concerning Slavs of the Danube, who had 
their retreats in wild, marshy, and inaccessible 
places. 2 Another writer describes the Slavs as 
possessing neither horses, arms, nor houses, and 
as protecting themselves from the weather by 
means of interlaced branches of trees. It is 
tolerably certain that at a somewhat later period 
than that here referred to the Russians lived 

1 Istoria goeudarstva rossiiskavo. 

2 "Paludes sylvasque pro civitatibus habent." Jordan. M. 


in a highly primitive form of oppida, known in 
the modern language as gorodishchay ; remains 
of these structures, consisting of ramparts of 
earth surmounted with palisading, are found to 
this day, usually on eminences, the high banks 
of rivers, or in other positions equally strategic. 
Of one thing we may be certain, — the first 
Russian houses must have had wood as the 
material of their construction, since stone was 
almost unattainable, while the supply of tim- 
ber, the country having a plenitude of forests, 
was practically inexhaustible. It is impossi- 
ble, therefore, to connect the materials of early 
Russian housebuilding with the habits of the 
builders. It may even well enough be that the 
enforced use of wood, leading to the perpet- 
ual conflagrations that everywhere light up the 
pages of Russian history, helped to intensify 
the unsettled character of the national life. 
The popular belief, transmitted to the present 
day, that every house in Russia is destined soon 
or late to be burned to the ground, was not, at 
any rate, calculated to strengthen affection for 
a particular domicile. 

Etymologically, the Russian city, or gorod, is 
still an " inclosure," or place inclosed, corre- 
sponding with the West-European bourg. For 
town the Russians write posad, the equivalent 
of stadt (statte) in German and miasto in 


Polish; that is to say, " place ;" while the 
Russian village is simply derevnya, or "the 
wooden." But the characteristic features of 
the Russian gorod only appear when we ex- 
amine the city in its relation to the country at 
large. Compared with urban growth in west- 
ern Europe, town life in Russia is strikingly 
insignificant. Scarcely a tenth part of the pop- 
ulation of European Russia is urban ; in Eng- 
land nearly half the people live in the towns 
and cities. Nor is the tenth part named any 
fixed quantity. It merely represents the time 
when urban Russia is fullest, owing to the 
periodical influx of a part of the population 
which is, strictly speaking, neither urban nor 
rural, but belongs to both country and town. 

Gogol must have remarked this insignificance 
of the urban element ; for in his novel, " Dead 
Souls," the humorist compares Russian cities to 
" tiny dots that indistinctly mark the centre of 
some vast plain." 1 That the peculiarity is not 
confined to one branch of the Slav family may 
be gathered from an expression, singularly 
identical with that of Gogol, by which Hiippe 2 
compares the cities of the old Polish Slavs to 
"drops of oil on a pond." Urban phenomena 

1 See Gogol's Complete Works (in Russian). St. Petersburg, 
1880, vol. iii., p. 230. 

2 Verfassung der Republih Polen. 


are generically the same in Great Russia and 
in Poland. The appearances that seem to con- 
fer upon Polish cities an urban existence as 
well developed as that of the towns of western 
Europe are illusive. 1 There are few genuinely 
Slav towns in Poland. With populations largely 
composed of Jews and Germans, Polish cities 
belong neither to the old nor to the new order 
of urban phenomena, but form an indescribable 
compound of both. 

In Russia eleven cities are usually spoken of 
with a population of over 50,000 inhabitants. 
For an empire so vast as that of Russia, here 
is a state of things that, in the light of the 
urban statistics of western Europe, seems to 
border on the ridiculous. And when care 
is taken to eliminate foreign elements, urban 
Russia becomes more insignificant still. The 
population of the capital itself does not yet 
number a million ; of its 860,000 2 inhabitants 
fully 100,000 are foreigners. Moscow, with a 
population of about 750,000, has a colony of 
15,000 Germans, not to say anything of other 
nationalities. Odessa, with 150,000 inhabit- 
ants, is largely foreign. Kishinev, with 130,- 
000, Kiev, with 76,000, and Berdichev, with 
55,000 are all largely Jewish and German in 

1 See M. Leroy Beaulieu's L' Empire des Tsars et les Musses. 

2 Census of 1884. 


the character of their population. Of the re- 
maining five "largest towns," Saratov, with 
96,000, is to some extent German ; Kazan, 
largely Tatar. It will be found, in fact, that 
very few of the eleven towns have risen to 
their present state of development save by rea- 
son of some special conditions of growth prac- 
tically removing them from the list of purely 
Slav cities. Tula, a city in the same category, 
has the imperial gun factory, and supplies the 
Russian people with their samovars. Both 
Odessa and Nikolaiev owe much to their posi- 
tion on the Black Sea. The Volga naturally 
gives local impulses to urban development in a 
country practically without seaboard. Saratov 
is a conspicuous example of this kind of growth. 
Samara, also a Volga " port," affords a still bet- 
ter illustration of conditions that distinguish 
these riparian cities from towns in the interior 
of Russia. Situation and foreign capital, as 
well as Slav enterprise, have raised Samara 
from insignificance to a position in which it 
aspires to become a sort of Chicago for the 
southeastern governments. Tsarftsyn, another 
Volga city, owes its comparatively sudden de- 
velopment to the naphtha wells at Baku, as 
well as to the Swedish enterprise which has 
made it the great entrepdt of the petroleum 
trade in Russia. There is, indeed, a foreign 


character about most of the urban and trading 
activities of this part of the country. The 
great brewer of southeastern Russia is of 
German nationality. In towns like Kazan, 
Astrakhan, and Tsaritsyn, I found the smaller 
industries carried on largely by Persians, Ta- 
tars, Calmucks, and Germans. I remember see- 
ing a whilom Frankfort shoemaker plying his 
awl in the shadow of a mosque. Out on the 
steppe, three miles from Tsaritsyn, when driv- 
ing through an encampment of khibitkas, I en- 
countered a German baker supplying his nomad 
customers with bread. 

But the inherent weakness of urban life in 
Russia — the inability, even under the most 
favorable circumstances, of the pure Slav town 
to maintain the conditions necessary to its 
healthy development — is nowhere better seen 
than in the case of the old capital itself. Apart 
from its German colony, Moscow is the most 
genuinely Russian city that can be named. 
Hundreds of proverbial sayings testify to its 
antiquity and to the veneration in which it is 
held by the people. 1 " Moscow was built by 
the ages, Petersburg by millions," runs one. 
Another is the famous " Moscow, white-stoned, 

1 A highly interesting collection of proverbs and sayings relat- 
ing to Moscow may be found in a little work entitled Moskva v 
rodnoy poesii. St. P., 1882. 


golden-domed, loyal, loquacious, hospitable, and 
orthodox." In a third, the city is said to be 
" renowned for its virgins, its bells, and its 
Jcalaches." 2 And in addition to its fame as the 
capital of the old Muscovite dominion, the city 
has the proud distinction, that even holy Kiev 
cannot dispute with it, of being the great heart 
of the national religion. In Russia alone the 
Moscow cult has endowed native literature with 
43 poems, 34 historical works and 13 dramas 
and operas, all of them the work of the nation's 
most famous literary men. Moscow, besides 
being a city of churches, 2 has 816 factories, in 
which 74,000 workmen are employed, and en- 
joys the reputation of being the industrial me- 
tropolis of Russia. Yet, notwithstanding all this 
prestige, all these favoring circumstances, Mos- 
cow has no resources of population and no ur- 
ban vitality that can justly be called its own. 
The number of deaths in the city every year 
exceeds that of the births. The resultant defi- 
ciency is more than made up by immigration, 
and it is by the aid of this influx from all parts 
of the empire that the old capital is enabled to 
put on an appearance of progress. 3 Moscow is 

1 A kind of bread roll. 

2 The proverbial number of churches in Moscow is "40 times 
40," the real number about 400, exclusive of private and cemetery 

* A similar state of things prevails in St. Petersburg. 


none the less an artificial creation. Its spurious 
development is mainly due to habits and move- 
ments that have done little in Russia to favor 
lasting and healthy urban growth. It is a spec- 
tacle rather than a city, a resting-place rather 
than a residence, a convenient pied a terre for 
the migrant Russian far from his home on the 
great plain. 

The conclusion is inevitable that the modern 
conception of city life and its concomitant activi- 
ties had to be imported from without. Living 
under roofs did not at once naturalize it amongst 
the Slavs. " Every one," writes Karamzin, de- 
scribing the beginning of the domiciliary pe- 
riod, " made a hut for himself at a little distance 
from his neighbors', in order that he might live 
the more comfortably and with the less danger." 
But afterwards, " beginning to feel themselves 
more necessary to each other, the Slavs erected 
their dwellings nearer together, thus bringing 
settlements into existence ; while others, seeing 
fine cities in foreign countries, lost their love for 
the dark woods." The development of the set- 
tlement into the town was really a long and 
tedious process of evolution ; the multiplication 
of the new urban phenomenon, when the begin- 
ning of town life finally appeared, was retarded 
by the habits of the people and by the exactions 
of the governors. Many centuries elapsed be- 


fore any real need was felt for towns. The 
agriculturist, with tastes of the simplest kind, 
produced nothing that he did not want for his 
own use, and wanted nothing that he could not 
produce in the open plain. Side by side with 
his knowledge of agriculture was his expertness 
in all the industrial arts necessary to secure the 
comfort of his household. His domicile, which 
he could build himself, was a hive of multifa- 
rious industries that held out long against the 
principle of the division of labor, and are in 
some respects triumphant over it to this day. 
Clothes were manufactured at home with the 
same celerity as ploughs, and when laborers 
were needed there were always lusty sons eager 
to grow as many-sided in the business of life as 
their fathers. The town, save as a strategic 
point, could thus be dispensed with. On the 
other hand, migratory movements caused the 
desertion of numerous settlements and towns, 
and the consequent reversion of many promising 
urban oases to the domination of the steppe. 
At the end of the reign of Alexis Michaflovich 
Russian hamlets and villages were still so ridic- 
ulously small that some of them had as few as 
ten dvors, or courtyards, while there were others 
so diminutive as to possess no more than three, 
two, and even one of these domestic inclosures. 1 

1 Karamzin. 


In the time of Peter, out of a population of 30,- 
000,000 only 300,000 were dwellers in towns. 
Later, when Catherine II. endeavored to foster 
urban development, not a few of the artificial 
creations of her uhaz soon became uninhabited, 
were destroyed by fire, or reclaimed by the 
larger life of the plain. Catherine's real activ- 
ity in this direction expended itself in attempts 
to turn mere villages into cities, with a view to 
tht ' ati m of seats for resident officials in- 
truded with the carrying out of her new scheme 
of local government. Such of them as have 
survived are villages to this day. 

To natural causes like industry and trade no 
really Russian town can be said to owe its ex- 
istence. Urban growth was mainly, almost 
wholly, the result of some form of government 
initiative. In the earlier periods of the national 
history towns were created for strategic pur- 
poses ; later, administrative necessities called 
them into being. The scheme for the new mu- 
nicipal organization of 1870 mentioned five hun- 
dred and ninety-five towns. Of these scarcely 
a sixth have the character of purely industrial 
centres ; in almost a third occupations are partly 
industrial, partly agricultural ; the inhabitants 
of the remainder devote themselves to agricul- 
ture, the smaller industries being carried on in 
a few cases by people consigned to them by 


scarcity of land. Herr Schlozer writes that " up 
to the middle of the ninth century no single 
town worthy of the name existed in the whole 
of northern Russia." Speaking in 1873 of the 
state of urban development Herr Schwanen- 
bach 1 said : — 

" There are whole governments, such, for example, 
as Archangel, Olonets, Vologda, and Pensa, which, 
with the exception of the official capitals, have no 
town deserving that appellation. There are, more- 
over, government towns like Petrosavodsk, Pensa, 
Chernigov, Smolensk, that would degenerate into 
mere villages were the government officials from 
whom they take their importance removed." 

The fact that this description needs no sub- 
stantial modification to-day shows that urban 
life in the north of European Russia has been 
all but stagnant since the ninth century. 2 

So far I have considered the town as con- 
trasted with the country, — compared urban 
phenomena in Russia with their rural surround- 
ings and west European prototypes. What the 
Russian town is intrinsically cannot easily be 
realized without personal experience. The insig- 

1 JRussische Revue, vol. iv. 

2 Of the towns mentioned in the scheme of 1870, 27 had a popu- 
lation of 1000; 74 between 1000 and 2000 inhabitants ; 194 between 
2000 and 5000; 179 between 5000 and 10,000; 55 between 10,000 
and 15,000; 35 between 15,000 and 25,000; 23 between 25,000 and 
50,000 ; and 8 over 50,000. 


nificant figure cut in the great plains by even the 
larger cities is but imperfectly conveyed by mere 
reminiscence or description. Some of these 
centres of population are generally lost sight 
of in a walk of twenty minutes into the sur- 
rounding steppe, and their disappearance is all 
the more startling to the unwary traveler be- 
cause of the smoothness of the plain, and the 
absence of everything capable of acting as an 
obstacle to vision. Should twilight surprise 
him in his wanderings, the dimness of the land- 
scape suggests marine openness in a very strik- 
ing way. The far-off horizon becomes the 
spectator's sea-line; the city, if not gone alto- 
gether, seems a cliff long and low, with some 
mimic seaport town clinging to its back ; while 
the lit-up cottage of the peasant charioteer 
gleams from the distance like a welcome pharos 
inviting belated wanderers into harbor. 

Or, to offer another illustration, let the reader 
accompany me in imagination for a moonlight 
drive along the post road in one of the south- 
eastern governments. We journey for hours in 
the gray glimmer, seeing nothing but sky and 
plain. All at once a few grayish, dark objects 
rise up suddenly in front ; the yamshchik calls 
" Derevnya ! " l and we thereupon find ourselves 
entering a village by a road fully four times 

i Village. 


as broad as an English highway or a French 
grande route. The course may lead us in a 
straight line, or may have a dozen zigzag turn- 
ings in it, yet it remains of the same abnormal 
breadth throughout. The village itself is so 
vast that it takes our driver half an hour or 
more to wind us through it at full speed ; and 
when at last we emerge again into the open 
plain the straggling collection of one-story erec- 
tions in wood through which we have flitted 
seems immediately to sink back into the earth 
and disappear. Thus, if the height of the Rus- 
sian city is insignificant, its extent is often im- 
mense. I have sometimes found a population 
of a few hundred persons spread over an area 
wider than that of many an English borough 
returning two members to Parliament. At one 
period, by no means very remote, European 
Russia the country was simply European Rus- 
sia the town on a large scale. The spaces be- 
tween the towns were the roads, and the Rus- 
sian felt uneasy until he had traversed them 
from end to end. And to-day there is no urbs 
more Russian than the village that lies on the 
open plain, — a mere double row of houses, 
a domiciliary column on the march, or, at any 
rate, a sheltered line of migration inviting to 
movement. Let me add that precisely of this 
structure and form is the one popular thorough- 


fare in all Russia, — the only thoroughfare 
that has ever achieved a reputation in native 
literature, namely, the Nevsky Prospect at St. 
Petersburg. 1 

Russian city life has also had a migratory 
character in its political aspects. Slav power 
in European Russia frequently changed its cen- 
tres of administration. The capital was long a 
movable urban dignity. "A strange people, 
these Russians ! " wrote Gogol, in a playful 
mood. " First they have their capital in Kiev, 
but there it is too warm ; then the Russian me- 
tropolis goes to Moscow, where it is not cold 
enough ; and finally Providence gives us St. 
Petersburg." 2 Gogol only told a part of the 
truth, since, in addition to its presence at the 
three cities named, the Russian capital was vir- 
tually at Novgorod, Pskov and Viatka. The 
earlier selection of sites for the capital depended 
mainly upon political circumstances ; the choice 
truer to the migrant instincts and habits of the 
Russian people was the choice of St. Petersburg. 
It opened a door, as well as a window, upon 
Europe ; it connected the Nevsky Prospect with 
the thoroughfares of the settled civilizations 
in the west. 

A special character belongs as well to the 

1 See Gogol's sketch, Nevsky Prospect. 

2 Peterburgskiya Zapiski. 


Russian house as to the city. Language bears 
testimony to the smallness of the early resi- 
dences of the Slavs, since izba, the word which in 
Russian means a peasant's domicile, signifies in 
Polish (that is to say, in a language that better 
preserves the older forms of Slavonic speech 
than does Great Russian) simply " room " or 
" apartment." Peter's love of small rooms, his 
embarrassment in spacious and high apartments, 
were characteristics genuinely Slav. To this 
day, moreover, the least costly dwellings are 
roughly made out of forest timber by the 
dweller himself ; the wooden habitations of 
merchants and people of the middle class not 
only lack complexity of structure, but are fur- 
nished in the simplest fashion. Beds in Russian 
country houses are often mere couches, or even 
drawer-holding chests covered with rugs. In 
some of the best hotels they are barely broad 
enough to prevent a sleeper from finding his 
way to the floor. It is the custom throughout 
Russia for the hirer of furnished lodgings to 
supply his own bedclothes. When traveling 
long distances Russians, delicate women not ex- 
cepted, carry pillows with them, and use the 
seat of the railway carriage as a bed. Nor is 
this carelessness on the score of sleeping accom- 
modation any mere modern trait of Russian life. 
A certain George Turbernile, in a letter to Eng- 


land "out of Moscow," in 1568, writes the follow- 
ing doggerel concerning the traveler in Russia : — 

"He is wont to have a beares skin for his bed, 
And must instead of pillow clap his saddle to his head ; 
In Russie other shift there is not to be had, 
For where the bedding is not good, the boalsters are too bad." 

The rhymester then attempts an explanation : 

" I mused very much what made them so to lie, 
Unless it be because the country is so hard : 
They feare by likeness of a bed theyr bodj^es would be mar'd." 

Pride in the house for its own sake is a sen- 
timent almost unknown. This is why, as a 
rule, Russians are so careless about their domi- 
ciles, and why the domiciles so often wear a neg- 
lected look to the foreigner fresh from the west. 
It seems so uncommon a thing in Russia for a 
man to possess his own house that the language 
has a special phrase to express domiciliary own- 
ership. 1 Russian servants and waiters invariably 
enter rooms without knocking, as if intention- 
ally ignoring such obstacles to movement as 

The house of the noble, the country house of 
the landed proprietor, is not always a genuine 
Slav domicile. Not a few of its features have 
been borrowed from western Europe. The real 
Russian house must be sought far off from the 
sound of the French and German language — 
that is to say, amongst the peasantry. The 

1 " Sobstvenny dom." Literally, "one's own house." 


domiciles of the poorer belonging to this class 
are little more than so many single rooms. I 
remember, traveling through the government 
of Samara, having to pass a night in a house 
that at first seemed of unusually large propor- 
tions, but which, on my entering, at once as- 
sumed the ordinary aspect of the Russian izba. 
The apartment, swelled in my imagination to 
an extra room, turned out to be quite empty ; 
the room constituting the house had for furni- 
ture a huge stove, a dozen or more broad 
shelves nailed up, one over the other, to form 
the bed accommodation of the household, sev- 
eral rudely fashioned chairs, a table, a low 
wooden settle, and the icon frame in an angle 
of the apartment. This was the dwelling-place 
of three brothers, two of whom had wives and 

To apolism, then, as I have endeavored to 
sketch this remarkable phenomenon, Russia 
owes not a few of the influences by which its 
civilization has been moulded. Much in the 
Russian character arises from the lack of those 
urban associations and activities felt and seen 
in the older states of western Europe. Pride 
in a profession or trade for its own sake, — the 
result of that minute division of labor brought 
about by high urban development, — does not 
appear to exist in Russia. In its place one no- 


tices a quite realistic readiness to change one 
vocation for another, side by side with remark- 
able aptitude for acquiring specialistic skill and 
many-sidedness in necessary adaptations to new 
sets of circumstances. Scientific pursuits of a 
recreative character are rarely indulged in by 
private persons ; people with " hobbies " may 
be said not to exist at all. Nor is there much 
room in the native heart for the sentiment of 
place. The Russian is attached to his family 
and to his friends ; wherever they are, there 
also are his affections. But in the house, the 
town, or the government in which he may 
happen to reside, his interest is conspicuously 
small. His domicile may be burned down in 
the course of the year ; his town, — and all 
Russian towns are alike in this respect, — lacks 
everything needed to make a centre of popula- 
tion attractive ; while migrant habits have given 
to the mere district a conception as generically 
wide as that of the province itself. Between 
the ardent patriotism of the Russian and the 
not less warm personal affections of his home 
life stretches an immense plain of colorless in- 

The political consequences of apolism have, 
on the other hand, been grave and far-reaching. 
Nor will this seem strange, when it is remem- 
bered at what critical periods the interests of 


urban development have stood in direct antag- 
onism to the arrangements of absplute power. 
In quite early times the country sacrificed its 
free republics and municipal institution to the 
peculiarities of administrative centralization ; at 
later epochs one finds well-meaning and enthu- 
siastic, but unpractical, reformers, conspiring 
against city growth by their very efforts to se- 
cure its promotion. Fiscal and administrative 
necessities taught the wisdom of attempts at 
improvement, V' the imitators of the urban 
institutions of the wes f . ignored the very first 
conditions of successful tinkering with the 
autonomous organization of the old Slav com- 
mune. It was comparatively easy to import 
forms of urban government from the west. To 
erect a structure, or series of structures, that 
should strike by the novelty of their outlines 
and the complexity of their architecture was no 
insuperable task. But to give stability and 
permanence to those structures was impossible, 
simply because they lacked the needed founda- 
tion in the life, habits, and traditions of the 
people. l 

!The latest experiment in municipal organization, that of 1870, 
is still on its trial. The journal Dyelo pointed out in the month of 
September, 1883, that only 17,751 persons, out of a population of 
860,000, elect the 252 deputies for the municipal council (duma) 
of the Russian capital. " We thus see," it proceeds, " St. Peters- 
burg's population reduced to a mere handful, and nearly a million 
people governed by a body that could easily be lodged in a sin- 
gle elage of one of our grand hotels." 


The gate of the Slav city, with its rude 
masonry and gaudy paint, appeared only at 
Moscow, but it was everywhere symbolized by 
the yoke under which the Russians passed to 
the dregs of their humiliation. The despair of 
political subjection menaced them from every 
portal, and was the promise of their destiny 
in every land. In the west and south they 
pledged their allegiance to alien kings. In 
the east, we see their individual liberties, their 
local autonomies and republican federations, 
overridden and trampled under foot by the lust 
for centralization and absolute power. Prowess, 
courage, endurance — all the qualities neces- 
sary to the successful pursuit of war, — these 
the Slav never lacked. Russian epic literature is 
one continuous story of campaign and conquest, 
of military heroes and their martial exploits. 
From the time of their first attack on Constanti- 
nople down to the fall of Geok Tepe\ or the 
acquisition of Merv, the Russians have never 
been known to show deficiency in boldness or 
enterprise. Slav towns were the real sources 
of their political weakness. * Western life, 
at a very early period, brought into existence 
a class of sturdy burghers, jealous watchers 
of the encroachments of sovereignty, and ready 
on the smallest provocation to sally forth in 
assertion of the rights of citizenship. Such were 


the burghers of many of the English towns ; 
such were the burghers of Antwerp ; such, in- 
deed, were the citizens of all European towns 
that had the power of free growth, and were 
not cramped in their activities. It is true that 
at times this burgher spirit could be humili- 
ated ; at times it was even temporarily crushed, 
but it never died out of the hearts of the 
urban populations. And it was this spirit, — 
not to mention the commoner English examples 
of its influence, — that in the Middle Ages 
brought the free Italian cities into existence, 
and forced from Barbarossa the famous conces- 
sion of urban rights and privileges. It was 
this spirit that animated the successful clamor 
of the French towns in the days of Louis le 
Gros. It was this spirit, in fine, that scattered 
city charters all over western Europe, that al- 
most everywhere, winning urban privilege here, 
aiding municipal development there, materi- 
ally helped to humanize the relations between 
the governing and the governed classes. But 
Russian towns, once they became entangled in 
the web of which the woof was of Byzantium 
and the warp from Asia, had neither free cities, 
urban privileges, nor charters, f From about the 
middle of the thirteenth century, they existed 
merely as taxable communities, without other 
significance than that which the fiscal necessi- 


ties of the country dictated. 1 In Russia, under 
such circumstances as these, there could be no 
municipal institutions resembling those of west- 
ern Europe. The burgher spirit was entirely- 
wanting, and remains defective to this day. 

The distance between the towns had its par- 
allel in the distance between the people ; the 
straggling, imperfect character of the former, 
the migrant habits of the latter, rendered all 
effective solidarity for the purposes of political 
combination highly difficult, if not impossible. 
In a Slav, and not a Roman sense, the Russians 
were doomed to be divided and governed. In 
the towns they suffered municipal annihilation, 
yet had to bear the burden of fiscal tyranny ; 
in the country at large, they underwent en- 
slavement, ostensibly as cultivators of the glebe, 
but really as convenient instruments of taxa- 
tion. And in the one case, as in the other, 
the very conditions of their bondage were des- 
tined to continually renew in them their old 
passion for liberty, — for individual rights, for 
freedom of movement, and for a popular auton- 
omous form of government. 

1 See writings of Dityatin on urban administration in Russia. 


In its climactic life Russia presents as special- 
ized a series of phenomena as it is perhaps 
possible to imagine. The severity of its ex- 
tremes of heat and cold, the dryness of its 
atmosphere, the facilities which its contour 
gives for the diffusion of climactic changes, the 
freedom of its weather from marine modifica- 
tion, — all these isolate it from the cou* ' i# es of 
western Europe as completely as it is separated 
from them by the conditions of its national 
growth. Its seasons present the sharpest con- 
trasts. To its brief summer of almost ^ropical 
heat is opposed a win*-- . of extrao^aary rigor, 
wherein the country loses its rivers and much 
of its seaboard for six months out of every 
twelve. Between the greatest heat and the 
greatest cold of a single year in European 
Russia, it is no uncommon thing to experience 
a difference of seventy degrees centigrade. To 
a "longest day" of nearly nineteen hours in 
the capital is opposed in winter a day in which 
the sun is scarcely six hours above the horizon. 


Climactic changes, moreover, occur with 
characteristic abruptness. The summer ebbs 
out with a movement rapid as that of the re- 
treating tide along a level shore, and almost ere 
one has time to say it freezes, the whole country- 
is ice-bound. A few days is a time sufficiently 
long to complete even the most startling of 
these changes. One week rivers like the Neva 
and Volga may be alive with craft, the one gay 
with pleasure boats, the other full of freight- 
bearing barges; the next week they may be 
seen completely frozen over. This stagnation 
of rivers in Russia is all the more striking be- 
cause of the impressiveness of its appeal to the 
imagination. Slav mythology, I think, fitly in- 
cludes winter and death in the same personifi- 
cation ; for Marana, the goddess of both, pre- 
sides over phenomena so suggestive of ordinary 
mortality that, with the dying of the rivers, it is 
impossible not to associate the dying of animals 
and of men. The sudden stagnation of a liv- 
ing, flowing mass ; the aspect of immense con- 
gealed blocks piled one upon another, or of 
irregular masses protruding from the surface, 
suggesting forces that once had free play, but 
have all at once been stricken with paralysis ; 
the abnormal silence of one's progress over the 
snow-clad ice ; the gloom of the brief day or 
the long glimmer of the moonless night, — 


these not only convey to the mind a sense of 
desolation and death, but color it with a feeling 
of almost personal bereavement. In the Rus- 
sian, at any rate, these climactic changes find 
a complete physiological response. His moods 
are no more equable than those of the weather. 
They often present a series of the most startling 
contrasts. The Russian individuality, like the 
Russian climate, has its winters of gloomy mel- 
ancholy and pessimism, its springs of sudden 
hope, its summers of hot feeling and passion. 

And if winter is nowhere so desolate and 
woe-begone in its aspects as in Russia, nowhere 
else, I think, is the idea of resurrection so com- 
pletely realized, not only in the suddenness of 
the uprising, but in the effects produced by the 
returning warmth. On the darkest, longest 
night of winter, when to the experience of only 
a single season everything would seem hope- 
lessly involved in the grasp of cold and dark- 
ness, there is still left a sign of life. A low 
note reaches the ear listening attentively near 
the edge of the frozen stream. This is the 
swash of underflowing currents ; or rather, can 
we not say, the musical resurgam-chant of some 
watery Enceladus that, whatever may happen in 
Egypt or in Mexico, must inevitably awake at 
the spring? And so nowhere as in Russia is 
there the same inner sustenance in times of 


adversity, the same eagerness for renaissance, 
for re-birth, the same patient confidence in a 
something better, a something warmer and 
brighter, destined to arise out of the darkest 
and most desolate winters of the individual and 
the national life. How far in other countries 
the belief in a future existence may have been 
promoted by these renewals of nature cannot, 
perhaps, be known; but in Russia there are 
many evidences of the influence and of the 
strength of its appeal to the imagination. 
Without embodying any distinct conception of 
a future life, the old Slav faith regarded the 
souls of the dead as co-participants with the 
living in the vicissitudes of the seasons. For 
the departed, winter was considered a time of 
night ; but as soon as spring returned, the soul 
rose to new life and enjoyment. The dead 
ascended from their graves at the first prazdnik, 
or fete day, of the newly-born sun ; and to this 
hour there is a festival, coincident with that 
just named in point of time, which the litur- 
gical language of the Greek Church associates 
with the stranstvovaniya dukhov, or " journey- 
ing of souls." The russalki, or so-called water- 
nymphs of Slav mythology, — those enchanting 
figures that still haunt the realm of poesy and 
picture in Russia, — are known to be nothing 
more, in a philological sense, than the spirits of 


human beings that have arisen from the grave 
to enjoy the re-birth at nature's annual renais- 
sance. l Associating them with rivers in the 
conception of a common re-awakening, Slav 
mythology seems to have put forth its happiest 
effort of imagination. 

Sun worship, too, lingers amongst the Rus- 
sians in interesting ways. Even after Christi- 
anity had fairly established itself in the land, 
the solar myths of the old Slav nature-worship 
continued to retain their hold upon the popular 
mind. The same Vladimir who caused the 
Pagan thunder god to be flogged and thrown 
into the Dnieper came to rank amongst the 
people as a sort of solar divinity. At this day 
the Russian woman can say to her lover no 
words more tender, more natural, or more full 
of worship and admiration, than those in which 
she calls him her hrdsnoye sdlnyshko, her 
"beautiful sun." It was, of course, inevitable 
that especial attention should be paid to solar 
functions in a country like Russia. The long 
rigorous winter, the sudden metamorphosis of 
spring, give an immense significance to the pe- 
riods of increasing warmth. Solar beneficence 
is often acknowledged in Russian poetry. At 
times one finds the acknowledgment in the form 

1 See Soloviev's Istoriya Rossii s drevnyeishnikh Vremen. 


of personification and apostrophe. Some lines 
relating to events of the seventeenth century 
run, "Rise, O red sun, and give us warmth! 
We are no robbers ; we are the soldiers of 
St^nka R&zin." Whoever has been abroad in 
the Russian plain in the depth of winter, ex- 
posed to an atmosphere thirty 1 degrees below 
freezing point, — an atmosphere which seems to 
penetrate through the thickest wrappings, and 
turns water to ice ere it can be thrown to the 
ground, — will not wonder at the readiness 
with which the Russians see in the sun all that 
is glorious, life-sustaining, and bountiful. To 
the Slav winter is a despotism, and he witnesses 
its overthrow with a joy scarcely less great than 
that of a people welcoming the dawn of their 
freedom. Such, at any rate, is the testimony of 
church festival and folklore, of tradition and 

The forest growths of Russia, at one time 
overrunning almost all the central and northern 
territories, must have contributed powerfully to 
the polytheistic faiths of the early Slavs. The 
rushing of the wind amongst the trees, the play 
of sunlight on trembling leaves, the swaying 
and groaning of great trunks, the storm burst- 
ing over them with its lightning flash, — every 
mood of the forest, from its softest whisper 

1 Reaumur. 


to its loudest roar, its thousand variations of 
light and -shade, silence and sound, — all these 
taught the omnipresence of deity, 1 and im- 
planted it so deeply in the Slav nature that the 
Russians believe in their forest spirits to this 
day. True it is that the colonization of the 
country, involving the disappearance of an im- 
mense number of trees, could not fail to favor 
the monotheistic views of the Christian relig- 
ion; yet the homeless genii of the woods, de- 
prived of their natural habitat, continued to 
live on in the imagination that gave them birth. 
By atmospheric conditions alone the Russians 
were marked out for tendencies towards the 
superstitious in religion. Subject to a conti- 
nental climate, living in a state of peculiar 
nearness to natural forces, they were highly 
sensitive to phenomena not visibly the result 
of human agency. These atmospheric condi- 
tions of Russian development were, in fact, 
analogous in several respects to those which, 
in quite modern times, have favored curious 
superstitions of mountainous territories, to be 
found, for example, in Switzerland, the High- 
lands of Scotland, and the hills of Derbyshire. 

1 The power of forests to suggest the supernatural seems proof 
against all processes of civilization. Mr. Emerson mentions the 
case of a lady for whom forests always appeared to wait, — that 
is to say, to suspend a certain mysterious life until after the pas- 
sage of the intruder. 


Even in New England, with its severe and 
variable climate, religion has a highly spiritual 
character, a strong super-sensual element, be- 
traying the influence of conditions that do not 
exist, or that exist to a much less degree, in the 
mother country. In another way, too, does hill 
life help the conservation of superstitious ter- 
rors. It separates people instead of bringing 
them together. It weakens a community's 
sense of numbers, its feeling of nearness, its 
consciousness of solidarity and strength. This 
is, no doubt, why civilization made so much and 
such rapid progress in Europe, which of all the 
quarters of the world has the lowest mean alti- 
tude. It is true that Russia had no mountains, 
but her people were separated very effectively 
by geographical, ethnic and political causes. 
And Russian civilization came so late that be- 
fore the eighteenth century the country had no 
literature at all worthy of the name. 1 

The political effects of climate upon Russian 
development must have been considerable. In 
some quarters it has been suggested that ex- 
treme cold prepared the Slavs for the Mongol 
yoke and the autocracy which came after it. 2 
It is just as probable that extreme heat, by 
making people indolent, directly favors abso- 

1 Russia's first poet was Lomonosov, born 1711 ; died 1760. 

2 M. A. Leroy Beaulieu. 


lute government and the usurpation of power, 
— a relation of cause to effect often illustrated 
in the history of eastern and southern peoples. 
If climate be recognized as one of the factors 
of national growth, it will be found that far 
more people have been enslaved or deprived of 
their liberties through the influence of extreme 
heat than owing to that of excessive cold. A 
moderate degree of cold has always been favor- 
able rather than injurious to civilization. It 
braces the physical system, and permits a high 
degree of mental activity. I must, therefore, 
describe the Russian winter as having been the 
enemy rather than the friend of Mongolism in 
all its forms. Cold has a special as well as 
a general way of aiding a nation's intellectual 
growth ; it induces reflective habits ; it favors 
the tendency of a monotonous landscape to 
throw the mind back upon itself. Under the 
influence of cold, faculties deprived of exterior 
sources of interest, unable to assimilate and 
convert into ideas impressions not satisfactory 
to the mind, all the more eagerly seek inte- 
rior or reflective occupation. Hence, the Rus- 
sian intellect is subjective rather than objective, 
reflective rather than observational, analytic 
rather than descriptive. While they have done 
much as a race for science, I have not been able 
to find Russians remarkable for proficiency in 


anything that exacts highly-developed descrip- 
tive powers, or close attention to the minute 
in nature. A west European novelist having 
domiciliary business with one of his characters 
will often describe a whole house, from ground 
floor to ceiling, not omitting the minutest or 
the most multipedalian detail. Russian writers 
may picture, but they rarely describe. Pisem- 
sky wrote whole novels without a line of de- 
scription. Even in the descriptions of Gogol, 
who wrote in Great Russian, but was a Little 
Russian at heart, a strong subjective element 
may be detected. Some of the most striking 
of Turgeniev's books contain very few descrip- 
tive passages. The descriptions of recent " peas- 
ant literature " in Russia are the result of bor- 
rowed habit, or of the ethical purposes of certain 
modern schools. Among Russian translators 
it is very common to shorten or wholly omit 
descriptive passages from west European nov- 
els. During the recent war between Russia 
and Turkey quite a sensation was created in 
the former country by the publication of long 
descriptive reports translated from the London 
44 Daily News." 

The Russians excel, on the other hand, in 
everything that exacts wide views, broad gener- 
alizations. Their talent for philosophical spec- 
ulation is, considering all the circumstances 


of the case, remarkably large. It seems to 
manifest itself in every department of intel- 
lectual activity. Russian poetry revealed the 
reflective tendency in the earliest youth of Rus- 
sian literature. Lomonosov, whom Aksakov, 
the Slavophil writer and critic, describes as 
' 4 the one true source of all the Russians have 
accomplished, are accomplishing, or shall ac- 
complish in the field of literary activity," was 
as much philosopher as poet.. It was he who 
delivered a celebrated discourse on the origin 
of light, and out of such material as " the uses 
of glass " produced the first, and, as is frequently 
alleged, the best, didactic poem in the Russian 
language. It was Lomonosov who, long before 
the breaking out of the Kulturhampf between 
science and theology in Western Europe, pro- 
claimed that " science and faith are sisters, the 
offspring of one mighty parent ; nor can there 
ever arise real dissension between the two." It 
was Lomonosov who said that " the man who 
thinks he can learn astronomy or chemistry from 
his psalter is no more a true theologian than he 
is a true philosopher who imagines that with a 
mathematical line he can measure the divine 
will." Russian art, too, is a Janus with two 
faces, one of them imitative in its aspirations, 
the other " sicklied o'er with the pale cast of 
thought." Russian pictures have a peculiar sug- 


gestiveness apart from the fidelity of their rep- 
resentations. This tendency seems to reach 
its fullest and most successful expression in 
Vereshchagin, whose paintings are genuine phi- 
losophies, whose appeal is to the reflective, and 
through them to the emotional faculties. 1 States- 
manship, diplomacy, and officialism also have 
their reflective side in Russia. Exceedingly 
abstract philosophical propositions occasionally 
find their way into state papers and public re- 
ports. In the schools and educational establish- 
ments — not only in professors' lectures, but in 
the essays of pupils — the same tendency is dis- 
played of the Russian mind to occupy itself 
more with categories than with single facts, 
more with generalizations than with details, 
more with principles than with things. 2 

Thus far I have spoken only of climactic en- 
vironment. There still remain for considera- 
tion the material surroundings of Russian life 
— the character of its objective world as cog- 
nized, to use a philosophical expression, through 
the organs of vision. The monotonousness of 

1 I refer mainly, of course, to Vereshchagin' s celebrated illus- 
trations of the Russo-Turkish War, such as Our Wounded, After 
the Attack, Prisoners, All Well in the Shipka Pass, etc. 

2 I remember once applying to a Russian library official for the 
"main facts in the life and literary activity of Pissarev." The re- 
sult was a manuscript discussing the "significance ** of Pissarev as 
the founder of the "art school," and his relation to Bielinsky, 
founder of the "aesthetic school." 


the Russian landscape is well known. It is 
true that, traveling in bright weather through 
some parts of the country, one has glimpses of 
villages with their gold-capped churches, or of 
water-courses glittering in the sunlight, or of the 
flash of scythes in distant harvest fields. Mo- 
ments like these are like the rare smile of the 
sickly invalid rather than the perpetual cheer- 
fulness of robust health. There is no real pic- 
turesqueness in Russian scenery. Even the 
waving steppes, luxuriant of life as they are and 
full of flowers, have something mournful and 
pathetic about them that may be felt, but can 
never be adequately expressed. Russians love 
the scenery of their native land with the same 
kind of affection as that which parents lavish 
upon a consumptive child ; and if these fertile 
steppes seem to show more color than may be 
found in other parts of Russia, it is only because 
they are for moments aglow with the hectic 
flush, the fever light of the Russian life and 
environment. Much darker is the picture pre- 
sented by the woodlands ; these combine the 
wild disorder and luxuriance of Russian vegeta- 
tion in all its arboreal forms. Immense tracts 
of mere brushwood sometimes stretch to the 
horizon, or the prospect is darkened by sweeps 
of moorland equally vast, without shrub, or bush, 
or tree. Elsewhere, broad, ochre- tinted patches 


mark where the communal land is under culti- 
vation. But the long, wide plains of a mourn- 
ful, deadened green exert a depressing influence 
upon the mind, and the eye wanders willingly 
for relief to the far-off march of some forest 
tract closing in the monotony with a band of 
sombre brown. 

Portions of European Russia are wild and 
desolate in the extreme. Along the lower 
Volga one may journey for fifteen miles with- 
out seeing a single habitation. The " stations " 
are merely oases of wood lost in vast stretches 
of steppeland void of vegetation. On each side 
the country extends bare and level as far as the 
horizon, and if snow enters the prospect, as it 
did for me, the dull, blinding monotony of the 
spectacle becomes almost unbearable. 

The same beggarliness and impoverishment 
characterize the exterior aspects of village life 
in the provinces. The impression they make 
is well suggested by Pushkin's satirical picture : 

" Admire the view before us — that wretched row of huts ; 
Behind them a long and leyel descent of black land, 
Above them a thick bank of grayish clouds. 
Where are the gay fields ? Where the shady woods ? 
Where the river ? In the yard there, near the fence, 
Shoot up two miserable trees to glad the eye — 
Just two aud no more; and of them one has been 
Shorn by autumn rains of every beauty; 
While the sparse leaves on the other are withered and yellow, 
Awaiting the first breeze to fall and putrefy 
The sluggish pond below." 


And if Russian out-door life in the country has 
no hedge-rows or flower gardens to make it at- 
tractive, the Russian town is equally deficient 
in picturesqueness. If, on the one hand, there 
are no ivy-clad ruins to meet the eye with their 
pleasant suggestions, there is, on the other, a 
marked absence of beauty in all the forms of 
architectural design. If it were to be suddenly 
discovered that the cathedral at Cologne were 
a mere piece of elaborate wood-carving, the 
impression that splendid structure now makes 
upon admirers would be felt no more ; and so 
the most fancifully shaped domicile of urban 
Russia is at best but a structure of wood. Most 
of these houses are rude rather than ornamental 
in their outlines ; to the eye of the traveler 
they are a source of continual weariness. Dirty 
streets, carts mud-colored as the domiciles them- 
selves, the soiled and torn habits of migrant or 
beggar peasants, the continual cloud of dust 
raised in warm weather by the wind, — all these 
intensify the depressing influences of the Rus- 
sian environment, giving it a sameness that 
seems to pervade everything, animate and in- 

The exceptions do little more than prove the 
rule. I am bound to admit that from the high 
tower of Ivan Veliky, right in the thick of the 
churches and palaces of the Kreml, the view to 


be had of Moscow is striking. The eye rests, 
or rather wanders, over a vast panorama of 
house-tops painted red and green ; here and 
there dazzling gilded cupolas shine in the sun. 
But this kind of picturesqueness is rather the 
rash extreme of tastes fed perpetually on the 
monotonous than the calmly studied ► contri- 
vance of a people born into an environment of 
cheerful coloring and contour. Taking this 
view of the matter one may see in the (Russian 
peasant's liking for a red shirt the same search 
for contrast as that which, in the villages, some- 
times leads a man to paint his house in glaring 
colors, or in the cities impels him to provide 
his shop with a ludicrously gaudy signboard. 1 

Pretty women, travelers often say, are scarce 
in Russia. This is only another way of stating 
the extent to which Russian women have suf- 
fered from the imbruting labor of the fields, 
from- the long confinement of the terem, from 
the domestic slavery of the wife, from the late 
and only partial advent of modern comforts, 
luxuries, and refinements to the Russian home ; 
yet environment has also, done its part in help- 
ing to make femm.-o beauty somewhat scarce 
in Russia. For 'centuries . the - i-ace has been 
looking out over wide, formless plains. Nature* 
gave it no ideals of beauty, nor, until a period 

1 A common habit in St. Petersburg. 




comparatively recent, did art. Its efforts at 
ornamentation long linked it with the' gaudy- 
exaggerations of barbarism. And to this day 
its church pictures and icons* are mere repre- 
sentations of sallow-faced, melancholy-visaged- 
saints wasted by persistent mortification of the 
flesh. . . \,' 

I speak thus with reference to the people ; m 
a§ a whole. Peasants are peasant-like ,; and in" \ 
ap -empire o£ them it too much to 
look for a beauty at every turn. Of the men I - 
can only say that in countenance and physique 
their superiority over the English and west Eu- 
ropean Hodge is indisputable. Some of these.; 
inland Slavs, with their regular features and 
flowing beards, would tempt many a painter in 
Paris or Rome from his artisan model. When 
traveling through the Tambov government I 
saw many really beautiful " Christ heads " 
amongst the peasants. The Russian; country > 
woman,' on the other hand, is generally ", plain " 
of feature, yet not nearly so wanting in interest 
as it has been the habit of foreign prejudice to 
represent. Blooming cheeks are impossible in 
a dry atmosphere like that of Russia. En re- ' 
vanehe, the Slav woman displays two rows of 
white teeth that would almost make a west 
European rival die of jealousy. She is not, 
cramped fcy her dress, and has a natural' dignity 


and grace of , movement that might be envied, 
yet not easily imitated elsewhere. Nekrassov 
■writes : — 

"In many a Russian village we may find such women, 
With quiet earnestness of face, 
With the grace of strength in every movement 
As they go by with regal gait and queenly mien.". 

Amongst *theVeciutfate4 classes of the towns, 
moreover, \the Russian: woman' is not less fre- 
quently pretty and much oftener attractive, than 
is the woman of the west. * • 

But there was another tendency, to the form- 
ing of which environment must have made large 
contributions. Missing color, variety, perfection 
of form, beauty of feature, in his own surround- 
ings, the Russian all the more readily went 
elsewhere in search of the picturesque. The 
very custom of living in houses seems to have 
been suggested to the Slavs by the experiences 
and sight-seeing of their travelers in foreign 
countries. And when the habit of going abroad 
became established amongst certain classes of 
the people, traveled Russia would not fail to 
grow somewhat tired of its environment, or at 
least desirous of importing into its surroundings 
— intellectual as well as material — certain in- 
fluences of modification. But as only a favored 
few could go abroad, this tendency would take a 
passive form amongst the masses, and hence 


would develop itself that taste ioi the foreign 
which found its fullest expression in Peter and 
is at this day one of the most striking of all the 
characteristics of the Russian Slavs. Only when 
it threatened political injury or social grievance 
did the outlandish fall into disrepute ; for the 
people came at last to draw a marked distinction 
between acts of predilection like -that which im- 
ported autocracy from Byzantium and those 
that merely gave ah Italian architect to the Vas- 
sily-Blagennoy Church, or filled the courts of 
Tsars and Tsarftsas-with adventurers of Dutch, 
German, and French nationality. 


Having thus glanced at the more important 
of the permanent influences that have directed 
the course of Russian development, — notably 
those of habit and environment, — we may 
now consider the political and religious causes 
which at a very early period completely re- 
shaped the destinies of the Russian people. Of 
all the influences that helped to mould the na- 
tional development, by far the most significant 
and far-reaching in their consequences were the 
changes by which, on the one hand, Russia ac- 
cepted the religion of the Greek Church and 
on the other bowed her neck to Mongol rule 
during nearly two centuries of enslavement and 
humiliation. What the nation lost and what it 
gained from these foreign systems of worship 
and politics will be best seen by comparing the 
early Russia of pagan faith with the middle 
Russia, upon which the Tatar oppressors, at 
last ejected from Slav soil, had left the indelible 
marks of their influence. And here the ques- 
tion to be answered is not so much whether 


the changes wrought were politically expedient 
or even inevitable, or on the whole a good com- 
promise between the evils and advantages pre- 
sent alike in two systems, but whether they 
were calculated to suit the habits and traditions 
of the people, whether they caused inroads into 
customs and liberties deep-rooted in the national 
genius ; whether they made life freer, happier, 
and more comfortable for the Russian Slav, or 
whether they were destined to plant in the 
racial and individual consciousness the seeds of 
an eternal discontent. For the purposes of such 
an inquiry I propose to divide Russian history 
into three great natural periods. The first of 
them terminates with the forcible conversion of 
the Russians to the Greek faith (972-1015) ; 
the second includes the whole formative period 
of Byzantine and Tatar influence up to the 
beginning of Peter's reign ; in the third may be 
included Russian development from the early 
years of the eighteenth century down to our own 
times. We shall thus see the purely Slav pe- 
riod of Russian history, the national life as it 
was moulded by Greek and Mongol influences, 
and the Russia of modern times, Europeanized 
in detail, yet left as Asian in structure as when 
it fell to the grand princes of Moscow from the 
hands of the Mongol Khans. 

In the domain of religion the early Russians 


must have suffered all the disadvantages which, 
in modern times, are associated with a " pagan " 
faith. Without any system of rewards and pun- 
ishments, no prospect of comfort in the next 
world tempted them to well-doing in this. But 
there was one idea which lay deep in the imagi- 
nation of the Slav, and which is still there at 
this day despite all the efforts of Christianity to 
uproot it. The early Russians, in place of the 
modern conception of a future life, not only be- 
lieved in the continued existence of the souls of 
men after death, but held it possible to have in- 
tercourse with them. To the existence of this 
faith the old songs and burial lamentations of 
the north of Russia bear abundant testimony. 
" The bright red sun," 1 runs one of them, "has 
hidden itself behind high mountains and wintry 
clouds ; it leaves me, poor wretch that I am, 
alone with my children." But after the death 
of a husband, it was the custom for the widow 
to throw herself upon his grave. 2 There, mourn- 
ing, she confesses she has forgotten to ask where 
she must await her spouse. If he will return 
to her, let him say whether he will come at mid- 
night, in the clear moonlight, or at noon when 
the sun is shining, or in the early morning, or 
late at night. If he will come at night she will 

1 That is, the departed, the deceased. 

2 See Prichitanya Syevernavo Kraya, by E. B. Barsovym. 
Moscow, 1872. 


have everything ready for his visit ; she will 
put her children to sleep and will sit beside the 
window waiting for him. " Whether thou com- 
est as a gray hare out of the bush or as an erme- 
lin from behind the stone, I shall not be afraid. 
I shall receive thee. Come in the old way, as 
was thy wont. Be here again the father of the 
household and the chief." Sometimes a small 
house was built over the grave in the belief 
that the deceased would return and inhabit it. 
At the dinner following the interment a vacant 
chair was left for the departed, and on the table 
before it the guests spilled food. Even after 
the introduction of the Christian worship it 
was long a habit for the relatives to invite the 
priest to the house on the fortieth day after the 
burial, it being supposed that the dead member 
of the family would accompany him. Occa- 
sionally the priest was induced to pass a night 
in the domicile ; in which case there was added 
to the furniture of his sleeping room a spare 
bed, wherein, it was believed, the deceased 
would also spend several hours in slumber. The 
old Russians had a habit of visiting their dead 
in the churchyard, whence the word for burial 
ground, pogosta, derived from gost, or guest, 
host. Even at the present day, on the occasion 
of certain festivals, crowds flock to churchyards 
and cemeteries, carrying with them drinks and 


food of various kinds, to be eaten from the 
gravestones, which are used as tables. Feasting 
in this way, the people believe that they are 
brought into close communion with the dead. 
Hence, on the whole, paganism was not with- 
out a certain consolation. But the great merit 
of the old Slav faith in the eyes of Russians was 
of a negative rather than of a positive character. 
It brought no narrow asceticism or ecclesiasti- 
cal prohibition to cramp the heart and chill 
the soul, to brand with criminality the most 
harmless pleasures, and in a panic fear, born 
of dogma and narrowness, to make delight in 
existence for its own sake seem a crime rather 
than a blessing. Nor did it aid in ruining the 
free republics, in destroying the liberties of the 
people, in weakening the sense of individual 
freedom, in promoting the aims of autocratic 

The manners of the early Russians have not 
always been depicted in the most favorable 
light. Yet it is noteworthy that disparaging 
accounts of them had their origin in a source 
not unlikely to be influenced by prejudice. The 
monk Nestor wrote as a zealous Christian would 
naturally write of pagans. His testimony lacks 
corroboration in some essential particulars ; even 
if accepted implicitly it does not show that the 
Russians were in a condition at all worse than 


that of other tribes and races from whose hori- 
zon the glimmerings of civilization were yet far 
off. Yet even Nestor makes an exception in 
favor of the Polyans, 1 while amongst the Slav- 
yans 1 customs prevailed which distance, in their 
generosity and philanthropic feeling, the most 
altruistic inspirations of the Christian faith. 
To these untutored children of the plain and 
the forest the traveler or wanderer was a being 
of peculiar sanctity — a holy man ^worthy to be 
worshiped. They received him with caresses, 
and took pride in lodging him and supplying 
his needs with the best of that which they had. 
Neglect to protect him from evil and misfortune 
of all kinds was regarded as a breach of the 
rude social order that prevailed in those early 
times ; so important, in fact, was this duty of 
hospitality that, to discharge it, even theft was 
considered lawful. That is to say, if a man 
had no means of entertaining a guest, he was 
entitled to obtain them from his richer neighbor. 
The Slavyan often left his door open, and food 
spread ready in the domicile, in order that 
the strannik, or traveler, might enter freely and 
eat. 2 

Now, if it be true, as we are constantly told, 
that altruism is but a higher form of egotism, it 
is quite possible that some utilitarian motives 

1 Tribes of the early Slavs. * See Karamzin. 



lay at the bottom of these hospitable customs 
of the early Slavs. A religious superstition — 
some vaguely felt reflex of the old belief that 
deities walked the earth at times in the garb of 
beggars and of travelers — may have invested 
the wanderer with that sanctity which the early 
Russian attached to his person and condition. 
Even so late as the beginning of the eighteenth 
century we find a writer of didactic literature, 
one Ivan Possoshkov, teaching that beggars are 
the representatives of God, and that unless they 
are treated well God will be angry. 1 On the 
'other hand, a traveler had seen much, and was 
likely to bring with him a fund of interesting in- 
formation concerning distant cities, or even for- 
eign countries. The desire of being well spoken 
of was also a possible motive for the kindly 
treatment of strangers. In Vladimir's advice to 
his sons, — a twelfth century document, — that 
pence's children were charged to receive stran- 
gers hospitably, " because," runs the text, " they 
have it in their power to give you a good or a 
bad reputation." Admitting the plausibleness 
of all these considerations, there still remains 
in the hospitality of the early Russians an altru- 
istic, a philanthropic element that cannot be 
explained by referring it to gross egotistical 

1 Compare Nausicaa's saying in the Odyssey, "Strangers and 
the poor are the messengers of the gods." 


motives. This is shown in the characteristics 
of the old racial virtue as it survives in Russia 
to this day. No treatment of the modern 
8trannik surpasses in kindliness and disinterest- 
edness that which is lavished upon the traveler 
constrained to throw himself upon the hospi- 
tality of the eastern Slav. I have received at- 
tentions from wandering Tatars, and have had 
whole nights made comfortable for me by pas- 
toral Calmucks, yet I have never fallen asleep 
lulled into slumber by such a delicious sense of 
the tender solicitude of strangers as when, be- 
lated, I have had to seek temporary shelter in 
the rude dwelling of a Russian peasant. Me- 
thinks Dazh-bog, the sun-god, were he to wan- 
der to-day into the hut of the muzhik, disguised 
as a man, could meet there with no better 
treatment than that which is ungrudgingly, 
nay gladly, bestowed upon the genuine mortal. 
Remember, moreover, that this hospitality is its 
own reward. You pay the dispenser neither 
in stories, nor in praise, nor in money. Hence 
it may be pertinent to ask, with such a mere 
survival before us, what must this Slav virtue 
have been in the days of its strength ? 

For characteristics and conceptions innate in 
the national and individual consciousness of the 
Russian Slav, we must look to the bwyliny, the 
epic songs of the people, as they were chanted 


before the coming of the Mongols. One of the 
most striking of these productions personifies 
the national character in its hero. Ilya Muro- 
mets lives with his parents in the village of 
Karachov. Lame in both hands and feet, he 
sits behind the stove for thirty years. But one 
day he is visited by Christ and two apostles, 
disguised as travelers. These restore him to 
health and confer upon him heroic qualities. 
The bwylina recounts the story of his subse- 
quent wandering and exploits. Ilya delights in 
reflecting that he is no knight or prince, but 
simply a peasant ; this character he persists in 
maintaining to the end. Political or social am- 
bition he has none. Ilya is a practical human- 
itarian. When fallen upon by robbers, instead 
of killing them, he splits an oak tree with a 
shaft from his bow, compelling the admiration 
of his assailants, who vainly endeavor to per- 
suade him to become their chief. At the taking 
of Chernigov he refuses to put the population 
to the sword. When Vladimir, his prince, sends 
a man to certain death in war, in order that, 
like David, he may obtain possession of the be- 
reaved widow, Ilya reproaches him for the cow- 
ardly deed. A quarrel ensues, and the two are 
long estranged. Yet the prince has need of 
Ilya ; and when the hero's services are necessary 
to save the nation, Ilya forgets all the insults 


and ingratitude heaped upon him. Vladimir is 
represented as calling upon him, with a sum- 
mons in these words : " I beg thee to save the 
land, not for my sake, not for my wife's sake, 
not for the sake of the churches or the monas- 
teries, but for the sake of the widows and the 
little children/' At first there is a little re- 
monstrance. The long pent-up indignation finds 
an outlet in reproach : " Why hast thou so long 
forbidden me the road to Kiev ? " The prince 
repeats his entreaty ; gradually the hero's heart 
is gained ; he forgets his wrongs, and sets out 
to save the nation. It is characteristic of Ilya 
that, for patriotic services of this kind, he de- 
clines all reward, even refuses presents offered 
to him by the prince. And Ilya's traits of pity, 
gentleness, kindness, and mercy are not con- 
fined to one bwylina alone, but find a certain 
expression in nearly all the early epic songs. 
Of delight in cruelty for cruelty's sake, there 
are few traces ; when the Russian epic displays 
deeds of bloodshed, it mentions them rather as 
necessary than as capricious acts ; the general 
•impression conveyed associates them with coarse 
and rude manners rather than with malicious 
bloodthirstiness. In one song it is said that no 
one exceeds Vladimir in happiness, Ilya in giant 
strength, Alesha in recklessness, Dobrynya in 
wisdom, Potok in beauty, Dunai in eloquence, 


Duk in riches, or Kirilo in grace. There is no 
glorification of cruelty here. 1 

The constituent molecule of all early Russian 
life, social as well as political, was the freedom 
of the individual, an intense consciousness of 
personal worth, a racial tenaciousness of per- 
sonal rights. Karamzin tells us that the Rus- 
sian Slavs " tolerated neither rulers nor slaves," 
and believed in "a wild 2 and boundless lib- 
erty " as the chief good of humanity. Thus, in 
the early Russian epos, we find expressed, as a 
fundamental principle underlying all thought, 
action, and relationship, the most complete free- 
dom of the individual. Even when a certain 
political organization became necessary, the 
Slavs did not abate one jot of their personal 
rights. In times of emergency, members of a 
tribe consulted with each other on a footing of 
the most perfect equality ; and if, at these con- 
ferences, some were singled out for special def- 
erence, the tribute was paid to age, to eloquence, 
or to warlike qualities. The Slav family, of 
which the father was the natural head, had 
patriarchal customs and conceptions at its foun- 

1 In the Ilya story, not having the original before me, I have 
followed M. Viskovatov's account. 

2 Karamzin, in a moral sketch, entitled Martha, or the Mayor's 
Wife, endeavored to prove that "political order can only exist 
where absolute power has been established." This throws not a 
little light on Karamzin's prejudices as a historian. 


dation. The mir, or commune, securing joint 
possession of land to the whole people, was the 
family on a large scale ; it had a council, or 
veehe, in which each household was represented. 
The volost was a union of communes, with a 
governing body or council formed of the elders 
of the rnirs. In times of danger it was cus- 
tomary for the volosti of a tribe to appoint a 
chief; but these functions of headship were 
purely temporary. The people carefully guarded 
against investing one of their number with 
anything like permanent authority. Even when 
merged in the larger organization of the volost 
the commune retained all the liberties which 
belonged to it. As in the earlier and ruder 
conferences, the people continued to discuss 
public affairs on an equal footing. They had 
the same voice in dismissing as in appointing 
their temporary chieftains. After a time a 
custom arose of nominating a head from the 
elders of the families of a tribe. But the first 
real change in this highly popular and demo- 
cratic form of government only took place when 
the Slavs of the Ilmen called in the Varegs to 
rule over them. Looking at the character of 
these Scandinavian adventurers, — at their war- 
like manners and capacity in military adminis- 
tration, — one is prepared to see the democratic 
government of the Slavs yield up its essential 



features to the political dogmas of the new- 
comers. Instead of mere elders, princes now 
wielded the sovereignty of the people. Yet the 
new system left Russian liberties untouched. 
The people, as Karamzin says, continued to 
maintain their communal institutions. The 
veche remained to the inhabitants of the towns, 
who assembled from time to time for the dis- 
cussion of public affairs. The chiefs, or head- 
men, civil and military, were elected, not by 
the prince, but by the people, who chose and 
dismissed their ruler as before, sometimes meet- 
ing to punish him for his misconduct by a sen- 
tence of banishment. 1 The Vareg prince, in 
fact, took his place in the Russian political 
system as an administrator, rather than as a 
ruler ; as a public servant holding his position 
by title of good behavior, rather than as a 
master claiming it as an hereditary right that 
could be maintained by force of arms. 

Under the rule of princes, some of the Slav 
towns attained to considerable political distinc- 
tion as republics. Such were Novgorod,Viatka, 
and Pskov. In each of these centres the rights 
of the people were insisted upon and conserved 
with great jealousy. Five times did the Nov- 
gorodians change their rulers in the space of 
seven years ; and, in order to set bounds to the 

1 This happened at Pskov and Novgorod. 


power of the prince and of his armed retainers, 
known as the druzhina, the citizens compelled 
their chief to promise, on oath, a strict observ- 
ance of their privileges. The prince could not 
become possessed of villages in the territory- 
over which he ruled. In harvesting and hunt- 
ing he had to submit to restrictions limiting 
him to certain times of the year. Below the 
prince was the possadnik, or mayor, whose ten- 
ure of office seems to have been no more certain 
than that of his superior. The real rulers were 
the people ; for, before the prince could take 
important action, he had to obtain their consent 
in veehe assembled. In addition to Viatka and 
Pskov, towns like Polotsk, Smolensk, and Ros- 
tov had popular councils of this kind. The 
smaller villages and settlements submitted to 
the guidance of the town populations. Novgo- 
rod, moreover, enjoyed a spiritual, as well as a 
political independence. After the introduction 
of Christianit}' - , the vechS of the republic ap- 
pointed its own archbishop. Such, in fact, 
was the democratic and uncompromising spirit 
of these free communities that later, in face 
of the Tatar domination, the people rose in 
rebellion against Mongol tax collectors, or mur- 
dered their possad?iik for daring to suggest the 
wisdom of a compromise with the foe. 

Of early Russian legislation little is known. 


The unwritten code in use prior to the coming 
of the Varegs must have been of a rude and 
ready kind, in harmony with the crudity of 
early Russian civilization. But of its embodi- 
ment of principles afterwards formally ex- 
pressed in historical documents, there can be 
no doubt whatever. The Russians never wholly 
surrendered themselves to the foreign influences 
they were from time to time compelled to in- 
voke. If they accepted the rule of Scandina- 
vian princes, they preserved intact, as long as 
moral resistance and armed protest were of 
avail, all their individual and communal lib- 
erties. The Slav mir has maintained itself 
through all the vicissitudes of Russian history 
to this day. The Russian spirit has survived 
in every mingling of native with Asiatic races. 
Hence we are justified in assuming that the 
first Russian code of laws, — the Russkaya 
Pravda} — though drawn up under Scandi- 
navian influence, preserved the spirit of Russian 
law as it existed prior to the coming of the 
Varegs in the ninth century. In the character 
of the code itself, this assumption meets with 
the strongest support. Its ruling trait is hu- 
manitarianism, — the humanitarianism of Ilya, 
of the Slav epic, of the Russian nature uncor- 
rupted by the dangers and temptations of 

1 Reign of Yaroslav (1016-1054). 


power. Of criminal law, as it is understood in 
modern times, the code contains scarcely a trace. 
Public prisons were unknown. No legal sanc- 
tion was given to corporal punishment, nor 
were tortures practiced to induce confessions, 
or debtors beaten because of their poverty. It 
was the signal glory of Russia in her rudest 
days that she refused to subscribe to the bar- 
barous doctrine that the taking of one life 
necessarily demands the extinction of another, * 
and was equally remiss in carrying to its logical 
conclusion the not less barbarous practice of 
making collective murder a glorious virtue and 
private murder an offense worthy of the deepest 

In this first period of their history the Rus- 
sians thus enjoyed what, in a political sense, we 
are fairly entitled to regard as the golden age 
of their national existence. As free individuals 
they ruled themselves. Not only had each citi- 
zen or each agriculturist a voice in the manage- 
ment of public affairs : his influence was as 
direct as his resolve was final. No complex 
machinery deranged the popular will, or changed 
its direction, or scattered its energies ; no prince, 
or possadnik, or ataman, dared veto the decis- 
ions of the veche. It was from a picturesque 

1 At this day capital punishment exists in Russia only for 
political murder. 


point of view the grandest, from an administra- 
tive point of view the simplest, and from a 
moral point of view the most equitable form of 
government ever devised by man. And to-day, 
though the veche lives on, a mere shadow of its 
former self, quite divorced from political ad- 
ministration, and engaged, instead of in the 
business of the nation, in discussing crops, har- 
vests, and the raising of the communal tax, it 
still embodies the same intolerance of sover- 
eignty as that which characterized the early 
Slavs. So when an old chronicler, 1 alluding 
to the temper of the Russians, said of them, 
"Neminem ferant imperatorem," he was de- 
scribing that ineradicable spirit of antipathy 
to encroachments upon individual and popular 
liberties which lies at the root of all political 
discontent in Russia, and which in that country 
makes any compromise with the principle of 
autocratic rule radically and permanently im- 

1 Cited in Karamzin's notes, vol. i. 


The Russia upon which our glance fell in 
the last chapter was the Russia of the eastern 
Slavs ; the Russia in which the racial tendencies 
of the people had still free play ; the Russia 
which had bowed its neck to no tyranny, sys- 
tem or principle ; the Russia in which individ- 
uals and communities alike held within their 
grasp that most sacred of all possessions, liberty. 
But the Russia upon which we are now about 
to look is a new Russia, a Russia so metamor- 
phosed that one can scarcely recognize it to be 
the same ; a Russia blighted into asceticism by 
religion, humiliated and debased by enslave- 
ment, and finally handed over to the. cupidities 
and tyrannies of absolute power. So rude and 
sudden a change was perhaps never before 
known in the history of national vicissitudes; 
one so grave and far reaching in its consequen- 
ces has fallen to the lot of no other country. It 
long crushed the Slav spirit ; it brought to a 
standstill almost all the racial tendencies. It was 


the damming-up of that great stream of national 
life that was one day to overflow its banks in a 
wide devastation. 

The two events that for seven centuries of 
Russian history reduce every other occurrence 
in the national life to an almost absolute insig- 
nificance were the conversion of the people to 
Christianity and their enslavement by the Ta- 
tar Mongols. Essentially distinct in their char- 
acter, separated from each other not only by 
three centuries in point of time, but also by 
that immense interval which stood between the 
barbarism of Asia and the culture of Byzantium, 
the two influences were yet so closely related 
in their effects that to the student of Russian 
history they must ever seem rather the elements 
of a subtle union, devised for the accomplish- 
ment of a common aim, than any mere fortuitous 
concurrence of forces at once separate and dis- 
similar. In some sort the Tatars may be said 
to have completed the work begun by the Greek 
Church. If from Constantinople the priests 
brought to Kiev the idea of a political autocracy, 
the Tatar Khans materially helped to weld the 
scattered elements of government into a central- 
ized administration. If Byzantium contributed 
the conception of a unified state, Sarai' 1 taught 

2 I need scarcely remind the reader that Sarai was not only the 
seat of Tatar dominion in Russia, but the place of pilgrimage for 
the subject princes. 


an easy way of raising money for its expenses. 
So completely at times are the two influences 
interwoven that to decide always what was the 
result of Greek ecclesiasticism, and what the 
effect of the Tatar domination, would be a task 
not only difficult, but unnecessary. In some 
cases, nevertheless, the result is distinctly trace- 
able to the cause. 

Let us first consider the changes wrought or 
enforced in the manners of the people by Byzan- 
tine ecclesiasticism. Concerning these a large 
store of information has been preserved in that 
already cited document, the " Domostroi," or 
household guide, the composition of one Sylves- 
ter, church dignitary, and counselor of Ivan the 
Terrible. In this composition we find reflected 
not only the injunctions and prohibitions of the 
Greek Church, but also the actual attitude of 
the people towards almost every possible prob- 
lem of conduct, private and public, that the in- 
genuity of the time could suggest. Some traits 
of the " Domostroi " are undoubtedly humani- 
tarian in their character. It enjoined the peo- 
ple to show kindness to the poor, and to make 
presents of money and food to those in prison. 
Certain practices of cleanliness and morality 
were also inculcated. But the general effect of 
the new religious influences was to turn Russia 
into a vast monastery, full of fasting, penance- 


doing, and mortification of the flesh. 1 And 
though Greek, like Roman, Christianity placed 
its ban upon the most innocent enjoyments of 
life, no wave of Puritanism ever swept over the 
west of Europe with so deadening an effect upon 
the heart and the imagination as that exerted 
in the East by the gloomy flood of Byzantine 
monasticism which is seen depicted in the " Do- 
mostro'i." It seemed as if the priests of the new 
faith, beginning with a gospel of renunciation, 
at last sought to bring their task to its climax 
by teaching the criminality of life itself. They 
were not content with forbidding horse-racing, 
hunting, and dice-playing ; the Church con- 
demned music and musical instruments of all 
kinds ; it taught that even laughing was a sin. 
For a single member of the household to commit 
the crime of dancing or singing was to prepare 
the whole family for eternal torments in hell. 
Even so late as the beginning of the eighteenth 
century it was considered a sin for a father to 
allow a child in play to take him by the beard. 
All intercourse between the young of the two 
sexes was forbidden. " The youth," says Ivan 
Possoshkov, "must be taken to account for 
every idle word he speaks." 

1 See Opwyt istoriko-literaturnavo Islyedovaniya o Proiskhozh- 
denii Drevnorvsskavo Domostroya, I. S. Nekrassova. Moskva, 


The political influence wielded from the mo- 
ment of its appearance in Russia by the Greek 
Church was one antagonistic to Slav methods 
of public life and government. The national 
system had the freedom of the individual as its 
foundation. Upon this rested the liberties of 
the communes and the towns, the privileges of 
the Slav republics, the free will of the people in 
the choice and dismissal of their ruler, and in 
the settlement of all public affairs. The organ- 
ization of the Russian country was that of the 
rod, the tribe or family on a large scale, the 
prince ruling as an administrator and trans- 
mitting his appanages to his children. Here 
was a purely democratic form of government. 
It was this which the Greek Church attacked 
at its very foundation. The ideal brought to 
Russia by Byzantine priests was one in which 
the individual should count as nothing, and the 
ruler as the be-all and the end-all of the new 
state. Just as that ideal had replaced the many 
gods of the Slav polytheism by a single divin- 
ity, so it aimed at gathering the scattered poten- 
tialities of princely rule into the hands of a sin- 
gle Christian Ceesar, the type of the monarcbs 
of Constantinople. And if the deities of the 
woods and rivers, of the earth and sea and air 
could so readily yield up their territories to the 
sway of the monotheistic God, church digni- 


taries naturally argued that it would be just as 
easy to familiarize the people with the concep- 
tion of an earthly ruler having dominion, not 
over one rod alone, but over all the branches of 
the eastern Slavs. Gradually, if not simultane- 
ously, Byzantine Christianity promulgated in 
Russia the three ideas of unity in deity, unity in 
sovereignty, and unity in territory. The victory 
of monotheism, secured by force, proved easy. 
For a time the old method of government main- 
tained itself intact. But as Byzantine ideas, 
strengthened in their influence by appeals to 
the religious emotions, became predominant, 
the princes began to take more ambitious 
views of their functions as rulers. Instead of 
dividing the appanages amongst their children, 
we now see them bequeathing patrimonies to 
their political successors. In the fierce struggle 
which follows, for the preservation of power on 
the one hand, for the accumulation of power on 
the other, the grand princes of Moscow, aided 
by wealth acquired as financial agents of the 
Tatar Khans, win undisputed supremacy over 
their rivals. In the fifteenth century, under 
Ivan III., the work of territorial unification is 
accomplished and the country sees the end of 
the Mongol domination. A few decades later 
Ivan IV. assumes the title of Tsar. In 1547, 
Russia has unity in deity, unity in territory, 


and unity in sovereignty. The Byzantine ideas 
have triumphed. 

But what was the price paid by Russia for 
the principles of autocracy and centralization ? 
Two interesting correlations of cause and effect 
meet us at the outset. As long as Russian gov- 
ernment retained its simple, patriarchal char- 
acter, the necessities of the state were small 
and easily supplied. As long as Russian rulers 
were only the servants of the people, the priv- 
ileges of the veches remained intact, the free- 
dom of the individual underwent no curtail- 
ment. But the moment the princes began to 
aim at the Byzantine type of state, that mo- 
ment the old methods of raising money became 
inadequate. As soon as governors sought to 
override rather than obey the popular will, so 
soon were the first attacks made upon individ- 
ual and communal freedom. And just as surely 
as Russia moved in the direction of unity and 
of autocracy, so surely did she create for herself 
embarrassments that were to find their relief 
in but a single kind of remedy, namely, the 
debasement of the people. The Mongol domi- 
nation taught the princes the double art of 
amassing wealth and accumulating power. In 
the new government the individual fell from 
the status of a free personality, privileged to 
join in the choice of a ruler, to the level of a 


mere taxable unit, not only robbed of every 
vestige of political power, but in many cases 
metamorphosed into a serf. The Mongol Tatars 
enslaved the Russians, and the Russians, profit- 
ing by the lesson in finance, enslaved their 
working agriculturists. 

So much for the fiscal penalties which the 
Byzantine policy brought in its wake. Not less 
heavy were its political burdens. The Slav 
system differed from all other European meth- 
ods of government. The right to reign over 
western nations was based upon conquest ; the 
right to reign over Russia had been conferred 
by the free choice of the people. The west 
European state had its foundations in force 
majeure; the old Slav state rested upon the 
will, freely exercised, of the individuals of whom 
it was composed. We now see this will ignored 
with the most cynical disregard for tradition, 
habit, and equity. In order that one prince may 
rule over Russia to the exclusion of all the 
rest, 1 territories like those of Tver, Riazan, 
Suzdal, and Novgorod-Sever sky are wrested 
from their owners. In order that there may 
be but one seat of empire in Russia, the great 
republics of Novgorod, Pskov, and Viatka lose 
their liberties and go to swell the possessions of 

1 Nearly three hundred princes disputed the throne of Kiev 


Moscow. At last there is a united Russia. But 
there has been no union consented to by the 
people. The people have persistently resisted 
the centralizing aims of ambitious politicians. 
Hence, at whatever shock to the historical 
method of dealing with such processes, I must 
call the " unification " of Russia a simple usur- 
pation, the " collection of the Russian earth » 
by the princes an unvarnished stealing of lands 
that did not belong to them. It must be left 
to the subsequent events of Russian history to 
show what permanent acquiescence there could 
be in a policy that, taking advantage of the 
national misfortune to effect a mechanical union 
of ethnological elements mutually repulsive, 
signally reversed the whole course of Slav tradi- 
tion and history. 

The change was one that affected all classes 
of society and all forms of the national life. 
For autocracy to appear at the apex of the 
pyramid without slavery appearing at its base 
would have involved a complete negation of 
the laws which govern the distribution of social 
and political forces. And so one by one come 
the dark shadows cast in this eclipse of popular 
liberties. First we see the house-servant become 
a chattel in the domicile of his master, and 
then witness the binding of the toiler in the 
furrow to the land which he believes to be his 


own. The family, in early Slav times " a re- 
public," * now displays the characteristics of an 
autocracy. The father's relation to it is that 
of a despot, permitted by the law and enjoined 
by the church to keep wixev-GhiMren, and do- 
mestics in subjection by means o'f the 1 rod. 
" Children should be beaten with sticks," sa^ysT 
the " Domostro'i," " for the good of their souls." 
" The more a child is beaten," wrote Ivan Pos- 
soshkov some centuries later, but in much the 
same spirit, " the better it becomes." * " If you " 
play with a child, you spoil it ; the more -se- 
verely you beat it, the more joy you will have 
afterwards." " Love is shown to children in 
proportion to the number of beatings given to 
them by their parents." 2 

Let us now follow the new despotism into 
the domain of law. Here, again, the metamor- 
phosis is complete. Punishments, frightful and 
vindictive, have taken the place of the early 
humanitarian code. Russia's gaols are chambers 
of horrors, red with every refinement and bar- 
barism of cruelty that Mongolism and'Byzan- 
tinism can together contrive in the interests of 
absolute power. Here they are knouting a poor 
wretch to death ; there, a criminal is being 

1 Karamzin's expression. 

2 The changes wrought in the treatment of women I shall treat 
in a special and separate chapter. 


broken on the wheel ; in that iron cage yonder, 
a " sorcerer " hangs suspended over "a slow fire ; 
further still, a coiner lies bound with his jaws 
forced open waiting for the draught of molten - 
metal that is- £o burn out his vitals. Here they j 
are, digging a hole wherein to bury alive some J 
woman who, in a fit of despair, has poisoned her 
brqtal v husband ; there, instruments are being, 
got ready whereby the criminal may be hung,." 
decapitated, or torn to death piece by piece. 

Torture is thus the new method of dealing 
with some of the more serious breaches of . 
Russian law.- The penalty of death has been/ 
introduced for homicide ; theft has come to be 
an offense punishable by public chastisement. 
Not the least signal difference between the 
character of the " Russkaya Pravda " (eleventh 
century), and that of the "Ulozhenie' " (1497) 
and the " Sudebnik " (sixteenth century), lay 
hi the prominence given by the two latter codes 
to the remedy of corporal punishment. Under' 
Scandinavian influence the Slavs had allowed 
murder to be regarded as a private injury and 
redressed by private reprisal or the payment 
of a sum of money. Under Byzantine influ- 
ence they made all acts of vengeance the busi- 
ness of the state, and for the money penalty 
substituted a degrading corporal punishment. 
The debtor who persistently continued to be 


poor was treated with revolting cruelty. He 
was subjected to a public chastisement known 
as the pravezh, and ran the risk of becoming 
the slave of his creditor. 

The debtor, it should be remembered, repre- 
sented crime in one of the most heinous shapes 
which, in the new order of things, it could pos- 
sibly assume. The novelties of centralization 
and autocratic power rested as an immense bur- 
den upon the tax-paying classes, and for a man 
to be found unable to contribute his share of 
the expenses, or pleading poverty with a view 
of escaping exaction, must have seemed to Mos- 
cow legislators so remarkable a case of human 
perversity as to call for as severe and ingenious 
a method of punishment as they could devise. 

The debasement of the individual was inev- 
itable. In place of the old manly self -con- 
sciousness we find a servility painful to witness, 
even at this distance. Distinctions of class have 
appeared, bringing with them practices of self- 
humiliation and abasement. The noble is as 
servile to his prince or tsar as is the muzhik to 
the land-owner. In signing their names people 
write them with unworthy diminutives, in the 
Eastern fashion. No longer with form erect 
and look unabashed does the Russian Slav ap- 
proach his ruler, but in fear and trembling. 
The very word used for petition means " a 


prostration," a beating of the head on the 
ground. 1 It is highly probable that the expres- 
sion vinovat (" I am guilty," corresponding to 
the English "I beg pardon ") came into exist- 
ence during this period of universal debasement. 
Instead of a character like Ilya, the national 
epic now brings forth Ivanushka Durachok, 2 a 
hero in caricature, who evades dangers to save 
his skin, plays the fool in order the more effect- 
ually to impose upon people, and attains to 
honors and dignities by acts of base cunning 
and low servility. In Ivanushka Durachok we 
see the new period just as truly as in Ilya we 
saw the old. 

Lying and cunning are first mentioned as 
Russian vices after the Mongol domination. 
And if to-day certain classes of Russian peas- 
ants, engaged in urban industries, still resort to 
deceit and subterfuge in compassing their ends, 
they do so as a result of the straits in which 
their ancestors were placed by Russian princes 
and Tatar khans. Cunning in the subject was 
the natural result of cupidity in the ruler. The 
more the people came to be regarded as the 
legitimate prey of the tax-gatherer, the more 
they learned the force of ruse, the advantage of 
stratagem, in their struggle with the common 
enemy. And if deceit arose in this way out of 

i " ChelobityeV' 2 « i vaili the Little Fool." 


an unscrupulous system of money-raising, the 
habit of lying, as it first appears in Russian his- 
tory, had a not less prolific cause in the national 
and individual enslavement. The tricky trader, 
found to-day the victim of corrupting urban in- 
fluences, is the natural descendant of the class 
which had to hold its own against the tax-gath- 
erer, or oppose duplicity to the power of the 
tyrannical owner of serfs. The generous-minded 
peasant, full of patriarchal simplicity, alike in- 
capable of dishonesty and untruthfulness, be- 
longs in his rural isolation to an ancestry which 
had not yet felt the Mongol domination, or had 
passed through it proof against its corruption 
and debasement. 

The main weight of the exactions of grand 
prince, khan, and tsar must have been felt by 
Moscow, which, first the nucleus of the coming 
state, finally became the seat of the new gov- 
ernment. And it is of the inhabitants of Mos- 
cow that Herberstein wrote, just after Russia 
had rid herself of the Tatars, " They are more 
cunning and deceitful than all others." The 
same people are alluded to in the passage con- 
cerning Plescov. 1 "The citizens," says Her- 
berstein, " were dispersed, and Muscovites sent 
in to replace them. Hence it followed that, in 
place of the more refined and consequently 

1 Probably Pskov. 


more kindly manners of the people, were intro- 
duced those of the Muscovites, which are more 
debased in almost everything. There was al- 
ways so much integrity, candor, and simplicity 
in the dealings of the Plescovians that they 
dispensed with all superfluity of words for the 
purpose of entrapping a buyer." 

Such, then, are a few of the ways in which 
Mongolism and Byzantine Christianity left their 
mark upon Russian development. The influ- 
ence of the former was, as we have seen, wholly 
injurious. That of Christianity was in some 
respects bad, in others good. To Europeanize 
the family, as M. Rambaud has described the 
operation, was an achievement of no small mag- 
nitude and importance. But the benefits con- 
ferred by Christianity were simply the benefits 
of a religious system that proved itself superior, 
for the purposes of civilization, to the faith of 
the early Slavs. The defects of that system 
were, on the other hand, the defects of the By- 
zantinism in which it was naturally entangled. 
Russia drew much strength and sustenance, much 
power of patient endurance, during the Mongol 
domination, from the teachings and. ministra- 
tions of her new faith ; yet her spiritual help 
in that trying time would have been just as 
great, might even have been greater, had she 
obtained it through the Western, instead of from 


the Eastern Church. The civilization promoted 
by the Catholic Church was a higher and more 
promising one than any that could be brought 
to Russia by the priests of the Greek rite. At 
the time of Russia's conversion, the civilization 
of Constantinople was very much inferior to 
that of western Europe. If Russia escaped 
Catholicism, she did it by preferring an inferior 
to a superior degree of enlightenment. If by 
separating her church history from that of the 
Poles the country escaped the tyranny of Papal 
edicts, she on the other hand submitted to a con- 
nection of church with state that finally became 
an instrument as well as a bulwark of absolute 
power. If Christianity brought refining influ- 
ences into Russian life, it also imported views 
and conceptions quite opposed to the martial 
element of the Slav character ; in this way it 
may have prepared the country to some extent 
for the Tatar domination. Certain it is that 
the new faith inculcated greater respect for life 
— especially for Christian life. 1 It helped to 
soften manners and to modify in the individual 
and the nation some of the qualities essential 
to the successful practice of war. It must be 
remembered, moreover, that the conversion of 

1 Vladfmir, in a direction to his son, wrote, * ' Put to death no 
one, be he innocent or guilty. Nothing is more sacred than the 
soul of a Christian." 


the Russians to Christianity was a forcible and 
not a voluntary proceeding. To this, rather 
than to the fact that the new faith was thrust 
upon them by a dissolute prince like Vladimir, 
are due the long survival of pagan customs in 
Russia, and the necessity under which the 
church found itself of compromising with the 
beliefs which it could not uproot. Nor is this 
all. In the Slav correlation of forces, all vio- 
lent reversal of ethnological habits, all nega- 
tions of racial tendency and tradition invariably 
reappear in the form of protest. The protest 
against this forcible indoctrination of the Rus- 
sians into Byzantine Christianity took the form 
of the raskol or " split," and later came to be 
known as Russian sectarianism, heresy, dissent. 


Theee is no figure, perhaps, in all Russian 
history upon which the eye rests with greater 
sympathy and interest than, collectively speak- 
ing, that of the Slav woman as w^e see it, first 
freely moving in a pagan environment, then 
subjected to the regulating influences of Byzan- 
tine Christianity, and finally emancipated by 
the teachings of Western culture. It is ^this 
figure which seems ever bringing into 1 Russian 
life, however sad or gloomy that life may be, 
priceless consolations, impulses of hope and faith 
and aspiration, as with the odor of flowers and 
the exhilaration of song. So thoroughly respon- 
sive, moreover, has been the position of Russian 
women to the national vicissitudes that we may 
fitly divide its story into the same three great 
periods as those selected for the wider theme. 
The only difficulty of the parallel is encountered 
at the outset. As the first coincides to some 
extent with the polygamous epoch of Russian 
history, it may seem optimistic to look for much 
veneration of women in a family of which the 


conceptions were elementary and the ties loose ; 
yet it should be remembered that, as in most 
Oriental countries where the institution of polyg- 
amy expresses a general permission, but by no 
means a general practice, the keeping of many 
wives would be confined to the wealthy classes, 
and quite foreign to the habits of the poor 
amongst the Slavs. The treatment of the Rus- 
sian woman in the pagan period is no more to 
be gauged by the prevalence of polygamous 
habits than the civilization of the United States 
is to be judged by a reference to the practices 
of Mormons in Utah. Just as the first period 
of Russian history was favorable to individual 
liberties, to personal rights, so it was favorable 
to the status of women. The Slav woman was 
not Jess a member of the old family republic 
than the man ; of her influence in it, whether as 
the spouse of the common peasant, or the con- 
fidant and counselor of the earliest Russian 
princes, there are ample proofs. This Slav wo- 
man — polygamy or no polygamy — was quite" 
able to take care of herself and watch over her 
own interests. , In the old chronicles she stands 
before us strong of will, with plenty of chaf acter 
and patriotism, bold in conception, fertile of re-, 
source, capable of lofty heroism and sublime 
negation of self. 

Flames form the setting of the picture that 


represents her first noticeable appearance on the 
stage of Slav history. Numberless Russian wo- 
men, not yet emancipated from the close attach- 
ments of paganism, flung themselves upon the 
pyres that were consuming the bodies of hus- 
bands whom they refused to survive. Euphra- 
sia, whose husband suffered death rather than 
deliver her to Bati, the Tatar invader, no sooner 
learned her spouse's fate than she seized her son 
and with him sprang headlong from the window 
of her terem. When Vladimir, who Christian- 
ized Russia, had sent Vassilissa's husband to 
certain death in battle in order that he might 
possess the warrior's bereaved and helpless wi- 
dow, Vassilissa, like a true Slav woman, hurried 
to the spot where her lord had fallen, and there 
mingled her own blood with his. In the annals 
of Novgorod we read how Marfa, widow of the 
possadnik Boretsky, won undying fame as the 
last defender of Novgorod liberties. Placing 
herself at the head of the anti-Muscovite party 
she brought all her energy, boldness, force of 
character, and wealth to the task of erecting a 
last barrier against the tide of enslavement that 
was gradually but surely overwhelming the 
country ; and so successful was the effort that 
for a brief interval we see Novgorod sheltered 
from the Muscovite attack by the protecting 
wing of Poland. 


There 'are abundant evidences that Russian 
women not only shared in the advantages con- 
ferred by that conception of individual rights 
which, as we have seen, was common to early 
Slav society, but were specially honored in vari- 
ous ways, notably in their capacity to inherit, 
and their opportunities of accumulating wealth. 
Some of the oldest Russian kurgany, or burial 
mounds, have yielded in excavation skeletons 
of women richly ornamented with jewels. Ly- 
bed, the sister of the founder of Kiev, was able 
to divide an inheritance with her brothers. At 
the sacking of towns by the Tatars we read of 
" women, the wives of boyards, who had never 
known work, who but a short time before had 
been clothed in rich garments, adorned with 
jewels and cloths of gold, and surrounded with 
slaves, now themselves reduced to be the slaves 
of the barbarians." This deferential treatment 
of Slav women continued up to the eleventh and 
twelfth century. And as if to carry it to its 
highest point alliances were sought with foreign 
princes and princesses. Thus Vladimir Mono- 
makh, himself the son of a Greek princess, took 
as his first wife the daughter of Harold, who met 
his death at Hastings. Vladimir's son married a 
Swedish princess ; one of his daughters wedded 
the king of Poland, another was united to the 
king of Hungar^. Perhaps the most striking 


of all proofs of the honor in which the female 
sex was held in the first period of Slav history- 
is afforded by the admission of a woman to the 
dignities and responsibilities of government. 
The elevation of Olga to the throne of the 
princes was one of the last expressions of the 
freedom of the early period. And as the com- 
plete exclusion of women from participation in 
Russian sovereignty through nearly eight cen- 
turies characterizes and corresponds with the 
political humiliations and social debasements of 
the second period, so will the third period be 
found one in which, while the nation at large 
reaps the benefits of Western culture, Russian 
women in one station of life shake off domestic 
tyranny, and in another obtain admission to the 
highest position in the state. 

For the cause of this suppression of women 
for nearly eight centuries we must look to the 
same set of influences as those which weakened 
the free traits of the individual and national 
life. Of the two, Byzantine ecclesiasticism was 
by far the more important in its influence, and 
the more disastrous in its effects. Scarcely have 
the priests of the Greek Church begun their 
teaching of the new faith to a not over-willing 
people when changes begin to unsettle the posi- 
tion of woman, and burden her relationship to 
the family and community with a sense of in- 


feriority. First, we see her confined to a partic- 
ular part of the domicile, secluded in the 
terem, — an apartment unknown to the early- 
Slavs, — ostensibly to keep her out of danger and 
properly employed, but really to give validity 
to the new conception of her subordination to 
the master, or despot, of the household. When 
the freedom of the tribe, the commune, and the 
individual had disappeared, what particular or 
plausible argument could the wife offer in de- 
fense of her own meagre liberties ? If the new 
state was to be governed autocratically, what 
could be more justifiable than to rest the rule of 
the household upon the same foundation? If 
absolutism was right in the state, what could 
make it wrong in the family? And so, her 
status falling, pari passu, with the natural ex- 
tension of the ecclesiastical policy, the Russian 
woman at last became the slave of her Christian 
husband ; as much his chattel as if, under an 
earlier regime, she had been purchased at mar- 
ket or captured in war. The polygamous union 
seems to have been one of a voluntary character, 
terminable at pleasure. The monogamous mar- 
riage was so ingeniously contrived as to be at 
once odious by fullness of despotism and indis- 
soluble by force of ceremony. The husband 
could release himself from its bond by killing 
his wife ; the wife could become free only by 


succumbing to the brutalities of her husband. 
Whether or not the priests saw in the Slav wo- 
man of this period something hostile to the 
unified state with its monarch an autocrat, thus 
viewing her with a suspicion which modern 
rather than old Russian history would seem to 
justify, — the fact remains that, in marking out 
for her a position full of humiliating restrictions, 
the Greek Church was really furnishing to pos- 
terity a striking testimony to her influence in 
the family and in society. 

Elaborate measures were taken to counteract 
that influence. Scarcely had she emerged from 
swaddling-clothes before her conduct became 
an object of ecclesiastical solicitude. Boys and 
girls of the most tender age were not allowed 
to play together. The didactic writer Possosh- 
kov enjoins the father who happens to witness 
any playful conduct on the part of his son to- 
wards a girl to take a cudgel and break the 
lad's ribs with it. All social intercourse be- 
tween young men and young women was for- 
bidden. Even to look at a woman was a sin. 
Indeed, according to the teachings of the church, 
woman was not made to be looked at. The 
priests treated her as a mysterious subject, full 
of evil potencies, safety from which could only 
be secured by constant watchfulness. Hence 
both church and state favored the policy of 


seclusion. On the one hand, the terem was con- 
trived for the reception of this dangerous ele- 
ment; on the other, the church offered it ac- 
commodation in the cloister. 

Comparatively few came under monastic dis- 
cipline, and gave their lives to prayer, disci- 
pline, charity. But the mass of Russian women 
clung to the duties and debasements of secular 
existence with a heroism which is beyond 
praise. What they gained from ecclesiasticism 
as children we have already seen. As wives, 
their sole business was to respond to the ca- 
prices of their husbands, to keep house, and 
look after food and clothing and servants. They 
were to bear children, but not to educate them. 
Wives were expected to remain at home and to 
know nothing save their household work. Kos- 
tomarov, writing of social life in the sixteenth 
and seventeenth centuries, says that " women 
were generally regarded as being of a lower 
order of beings than men, and in certain re- 
spects even unclean, since they were not al- 
lowed to kill animals for the table, it being 
supposed that, were they to do so, the meat 
would be unpalatable. On certain days a 
woman believed herself to be unworthy to eat 
in company. . . . Having become a wife (in ac- 
cordance with the arrangements of the parents), 
she never dared to go from home without the 


permission of her husband ; even for her to at- 
tend church his consent had to be obtained. 
Many women believed they were only born to 
be beaten, and that marital love was best ex- 
pressed with the lash. Men often killed their 
wives, and went unpunished merely because 
the death was slow instead of sudden. When 
women poisoned their husbands, as in some 
rare cases they did, the culprits were buried 
in the ground up to the shoulders, and left to 
starve." x 

The " Domostro'i " lays stress on the salutary 
effects of wife - beating. It talks of the lash 
much as a doctor discusses doses of medicine. 
If the fault is great, the punishment must be 
proportionately severe. If the peccant wife 
shows no sign of repentance, she must- be lashed 
still more vigorously. The husband is instructed 
to hold his victim by the hands, — as much to 
render her helpless as to facilitate the beating. 
And yet, like the Spanish inquisitor, the hus- 
band must be a model of equable temper. 
There must be no anger, says Priest Sylvester, 
in the chastisement. The use of wooden or 
iron instruments was prohibited, nor were blows 
to be given in the face, or about the region of 
the heart, in order that blindness might be 
avoided and bones be kept intact ! ! Thus a 

1 Ocherk, etc. Kostomarov. 


Russian husband might torture his wife to the 
verge of death, provided he did nothing to vis- 
ibly incapacitate her for the discharge of her 
household duties. More appalling still is the 
reflection that this domestic brutality was not 
only licensed, but actually enjoined by the 
church as a religious duty. Somewhere, M. 
Renan has written that Christianity was the re- 
ligion of women, — that is, a religion created by 
their ideals, supported by their moral qualities ; 
while Islamism he described as a religion of men. 
What strength could be expected to flow from 
the approval of Russian women to a faith which 
handed them over to cold-blooded outrage and 
debasement ; which bade them bring forth chil- 
dren to tyrants, in order, as in the Buddhist 
story, that their torments might be repeated in 
an endless succession of re-births ? It is quite 
true that many Russian women were devoted 
adherents of the Greek Church ; quite probable 
that, in some cases, the more a woman suffered 
from Byzantinism, the more faithfully ortho- 
dox did she become. But it is equally true 
that many women who were beaten by their 
husbands continued to love their tormentors, 
notwithstanding ; and at any rate probable — 
even if it were not established by the old an- 
nals — that the more some wives were thrashed, 
the better they liked the authors of their chas- 


tisement. Love is a mysterious thing, and may- 
bear a heavy burden of cruelty without break- 
ing down ; and so a religion does not fail of 
devotees merely because the way along which it 
has come happens to be moist with blood, or 
strewn with bones. 

Without the good-will of her husband, the 
wife was in a position very similar to that of a 
political offender who, in Russia, at the present 
day, finds himself without a passsport. If de- 
livered for a few brief moments from the terem, 
— of which, by the way, her husband kept the 
key, — she was expected to carry abroad the 
humble demeanor exacted from her at home. 
If asked a question relating to other than house- 
hold subjects, it was her duty to reply that she 
" did not know." This might be a lie, but she^. 
was bound to obey her husband and the " Do- 
mostroi." To the former it was her business 
to carry everything heard by her out of doors. 
She was forbidden to drink anything stronger 
than kvass, 1 had no power of making bargains 
with peddlers, and was required to have work in 
her hand continually. After marriage it was 
considered dishonoring for a woman to show her 
hair, even to her relatives. The plait, or volos- 
nik, the sign of virginity, now disappeared in 
another form of coiffure. In Novgorod it was 

1 A non-intoxicating herb drink. 


the custom for women to cut off their flowing 
tresses as a preliminary to the state of wedlock. 
How distasteful it must have been to the Greek 
Church for a woman to insist on being attrac- 
tive after as well as before marriage can be 
easily imagined. 

A reasonable presumption is that marital beat- 
ings diminished in number and severity as a 
woman passed from the lower to the higher 
walks of life. Seclusion, on the other hand, in- 
creased in closeness with rank. Upon the Tsar- 
itsa and Tsarevna the strictest watch was main- 
tained. The princesses were kept in rooms as 
far as possible from any thoroughfare. It was 
said by a foreign ambassador, writing from 
Moscow in 1663, that out of a thousand court- 
iers, hardly one could boast that he had seen 
the Tsaritsa, or any of the daughters or sisters 
of the Tsar. It was even dangerous for any 
one to see these high personages accidentally. 
The story is told, for example, how Dashkov 
and Buturlin, turning a corner suddenly in one 
of the palace courts, met the carriage of the 
Tsaritsa Natalia as the empress was on her way 
to prayers. Although the rencontre was purely 
accidental, the two were arrested and detained 
in custody for several days until the affair had 
been "cleared up." Reutenfels states that 
when Natalia Krilovna ventured on one occasion 


to open the little window of her carriage, the 
departure from established rules of propriety- 
created a great sensation. Even physicians 
came under the operation of these rules, since 
pulses had to be felt and other analogous tactual 
processes gone through with the face of the 
royal patient hidden by a veil, and her cutaneous 
membrane protected from the vulgar touch by 
a thin gauze ! 

Herberstein, German ambassador to the 
court of Vassily Ivanovich, writes naturally- 
enough that " love between those who are mar- 
ried is for the most part lukewarm, especially 
among the nobles, because they marry girls 
they have never seen before, and having engaged 
in the service of princes they are compelled to 
desert them. . . . The condition of the women 
is most miserable*, for they consider no woman 
virtuous unless she live shut up at home and be 
so closely guarded that she go out nowhere. 
They give a woman little credit for modesty, if 
she be seen by strangers or people out-of-doors. 
Shut up at home the women do nothing but 
spin and sew, and have literally no authority or 
influence in the house. Whatever is strangled 
by the hands of a woman, whether it be a fowl 
or any other kind of animal, they abominate as 
unclean. The wives, however, of the poorer 
classes, do the household work and cook, but if 


their husbands and manservants are away, they 
stand at the door holding the fowl and ask men 
who pass to kill it for them. They are very 
seldom admitted into the churches, and still less 
frequently to friendly meetings, unless they be 
very old and free from suspicion. But on cer- 
tain holidays men allow their wives and daugh- 
ters, as a special gratification, to meet in a very 
pleasant meadow." . . . 

So much for the women of Moscow and the 
remarkable condescension of their husbands. 
The general effect of such a policy as that de- 
scribed was to reduce women to a state of the 
most abject and helpless ignorance. Kotoshchin, 
mentioning that it was not the custom to teach 
them anything in secular branches of knowledge, 
speaks of their general incapacity to read and 
write, and describes their manners as shy and 
awkward, owing to their seclusion and the habit 
of permitting them to see only their relatives. 
It was probably because of these superficial ap- 
pearances — the natural results of a treatment 
at once absurd and outrageous — that women 
came to be so mercilessly dealt with in the pro- 
verbial philosophy of the people. Hence such 
sayings as, " A woman's hair is long, but her 
understanding is short;" " The wisdom of the 
woman is like the wildness of the animals ; " 
" That which the devil cannot do woman can 


do ; " " As a horse by the bridle, so a woman 
must be directed by menaces ; " "A bad woman 
at home is worse than a devil in the wood; " " It 
is better to irritate a dog than a woman ; " 
" Compared with a quarrelsome woman, the devil 
is a saint." In a didactic composition of the 
seventeenth century woman is described as " van- 
ity itself ; " "a storm in the house ; " "a flood 
that swallows everything ; " "a continually fly- 
ing arrow ; " " a serpent nursed in the bosom ; " 
" a spear penetrating the heart," etc. Another 
writer of the same period warns men to "fly 
from the beauty of woman as Noah saved him- 
self from the flood, or Lot escaped from Sodom 
and Gomorrah," adding that " as Eve did wrong, 
so the whole race of women became sinful, and 
the cause of all evil." It is worth while noting 
that the word for " to marry " in Russian — 
zhenit a — means, in a figurative sense, " to de- 
ceive " or " cause loss." 

How Russian marriages could be expected to 
turn out happily in the monastic period is a 
mystery. They were entirely arranged by the 
parents, the wedded couple being excluded 
from all intercourse and acquaintance with each 
other before the ceremony. Nor was the wife 
always prepared for the household functions 
within which the church restricted her activity. 

1 Said of the husband, that is, ducere as opposed to nubere. 


" Many girls," wrote the Servian Krishanich, at 
his place of banishment in Tobolsk, " marry so 
young that they do not know what a housewife 
ought to understand. And many of the mothers 
of these girls also understand nothing of domes- 
tic work." So impressed was Krishanich with 
these feminine defects that he proposed the 
foundation of schools, wherein women should be 
taught spinning, weaving, sewing, washing, the 
salting of fish, brewing, baking, and the making 
of drinks, adding the suggestion that, before 
being allowed to marry, each young woman 
should produce a certificate of her competency 
in the various branches of household work. 

In 1693 the patriarch Adrian issued an order 
admonishing parents not to marry children 
against their will. This document marks the 
relaxing hold of monasticism upon the family, 
and forms one of the signs of those western in- 
fluences which were soon to usher in the third 
and modern period of Russian history. What 
the reaction was from the domestic tyranny I 
have endeavored to sketch ; how far it gave 
free play to the intellectual and social forces 
which had been suppressed during so many cen- 
turies ; and whether the recoil was slow and 
healthy or quick and dangerous in the propor- 
tion of its suddenness, — these questions must 
be left for answer to succeeding chapters. 


THAT sooner or later the people should pro- 
test against a system which debased the individ- 
ual in order to elevate the autocrat, that made 
land-owners proprietors of serfs, turned princes 
into tax-gatherers, and gave to every domicile 
a tyrant and a slave, — this was inevitable. But 
that the first protest of the kind should have 
come at a comparatively early period in Russian 
history, — a period nearly two centuries before 
the epoch at which the intellectual self-con- 
sciousness of the educated classes in Russia can 
be said to have been fully awakened, — this 
was partly due to certain special circumstances 
of the national life. Glancing back for a mo- 
ment in the line along which our survey has 
extended, we shall see that Russian development 
has been a double process, involving singular 
analogies and contradictions ; since, while the 
state idea has seen its highest expression in the 
struggle for unity, the masses have found their 
interest in keeping alive the movement of ex- 
tension. Migratory habits, enterprise, the nat- 


ural temptations of fertile land and an open 
country, — all these stimulated the colonization 
of European Russia. But to these inducements 
we must add the element of coercion. The ex- 
actions of the tax-gatherer, the numberless tyr- 
annies of the new state, drove the Russian 
afield into territories where he hoped to breathe 
more freely. And while this expanding move- 
ment did not perceptibly hinder the process of 
national unification, it sharpened the Slav intel- 
lect for coming struggles with absolute power. 
The reflective effects of colonization are well 
marked and beyond dispute. The process is 
the same, the results are the same, whether the 
colonizers are from a young stock or go forth to 
their work from a civilization settled and old. 
Whenever bodies of men, crossing country or 
sea, enter a new environment, — a territory in 
which new varieties of food, new air, water, cli- 
mate, and scenery are encountered, — and there 
settle down to the development of social forms 
and institutions, to the creation of a civilization 
in harmony with the surroundings, the differ- 
entiation of the human beings who engage in the 
work from the stock out of which they sprang 
is inevitable. The changes that follow are still 
more marked when the process of colonization 
exacts from the colonizer circumspection, bold- 
ness, enterprise, activity, and the power of en- 


during hardships and fatigue. Where these 
qualities are called forth, the pioneer grows 
realistic in his views of life and in the concep- 
tions by which his actions are regulated. The 
sentimental and religious tendencies may still 
remain ; may even be stimulated, by contact 
with natural forces, into a hypersensuous con- 
dition ; but the mind as a whole assumes that 
condition which is usually called "practical." 
The luxurious wastes and ornaments of old 
civilizations are discarded and not missed ; men 
learn to conserve their energies and put forth 
just the amount of force needed and no more. 
The colonizer becomes a political economist and 
a thinker ; idle habits disappear ; spare time is 
utilized ; hours formerly spent in hobbies now 
slip away in inventions. The immediate inter- 
est or necessity is uppermost in all minds. To 
all actions, planned or completed, men apply 
the cui bono test. Discussion is brief, speech 
laconic, the deed following the decision with 
especial swiftness. The new conditions of colo- 
nization also give a particular impulse to the 
development of individuality. Relieved from 
the crystallized forms of the older civilization, 
free from the tyranny of its standards and pre- 
cedents, not controlled, as one inevitably feels 
in cities like London or Paris, by the spirit 
of their criticisms, by the utterances of their 


teachers, by their arts and sciences, their litera- 
ture, their religion, or their antiquity, — the 
colonizers begin life afresh in their own way, 
unshackled, unrestricted, themselves the prece- 
dents of the new society which is to arise out 
of their labors. With everything as yet vague 
and in the formative state, with a field of opera- 
tions before it probably vast, individuality sees 
its opportunity and steps forward. In religion, 
new churches spring into existence ; in philoso- 
phy, should utilitarianism not exclude it, schools 
arise. The man of ability is immediately sur- 
rounded by followers ; the man of remarkable 
gifts carries off the rewards of genius itself. 
Society, in fine, is led by individuals rather than 
by coteries, by ideas rather than by maxims, by 
originality rather than by authority, and by 
reasons rather than by rules. 

It was changes analagous to these — like them 
in kind, if not in degree — that colonization 
brought to the hardy and adventurous bands of 
Slavs who, pushing out from nuclei like Kiev 
and Novgorod, gradually spread all over Euro- 
pean Russia, and were not even kept back by 
the Ural range, but surmounting it ceased not 
to advance until the rule of the Tsars extended 
in an unbroken line from the Baltic Sea to the 
Pacific Ocean. The work done, the difficulties 
surmounted in this movement were of an es- 



pecially trying and arduous kind. Rivers had 
to be traversed, forests cut down, wild places 
made habitable. Not always could the pioneers 
give each other help, such was the insignificant 
relation their numbers bore to the vastness of 
the country. And as on the one hand they 
were exposed to the severities of a rigorous cli- 
mate, so on the other they had to face the Mon- 
gol or Finnish foe, ever on the alert to notice 
their coming and retard their advance. The 
rough and ready work of this new life was an 
education in itself. It taught them self-reliance. 
It quickened their intellectual activities. It 
raised them out of a fatalism that was ready to 
accept everything simply because it was, into 
an incredulity that questioned on principle and 
would not be put off with replies that were 
mere plausibilities. It quickened the sentiment 
of individuality, and developed anew the old 
spirit of resistance to usurpations of power, to 
suppressions of the popular liberties, to ne- 
gations of private right and personal worth, 
whether carried out in the interests of state 
politics, undertaken on behalf of religion, or per- 
petrated to secure the ends of a coalition at once 
priestly and regal and disastrous. 

And when this first silent protest ripened the 
Greek Church seemed peculiarly open to its as- 
saults. That institution expressed a double 


authority. The source of those great funda- 
mental changes which had banished popular 
government from Russia, it became the sup- 
porter, not only of its own edicts, but also of 
the exactions of the civil power. The Tatars 
were among the first to recognize its utility as 
an instrument of state, and their politic compro- 
mise with it, falsely dubbed " tolerance," formed 
no unimportant part of the legacy which fell to 
Russia from the Mongol domination. Year by 
year the union drew closer, until at last the ten- 
sion between the awakened realism of the peo- 
ple and the encroachments of the civil power 
grew into open and serious rupture. 

The real meaning of the outbreak was as 
completely hidden from the people who took 
part in it as its significance has been veiled 
from posterity by the historians. It began in 
a trivial and childish controversy. About five 
centuries after Russia's conversion to Chris- 
tianity, errors began to be discovered in the 
ritual and service books of the church. These 
had arisen in several ways : partly owing to 
the practice of copying texts with the pen, 
partly to the blunders of inefficient copyists, 
partly to the ignorance and incompetence of 
the priests themselves. And as the variations 
went on multiplying until it might almost have 
been said that there were no two Bibles or mass 


books alike in all Russia, the Tsar Vassily Ivan- 
ovich felt himself constrained to cause a colla- 
tion of the various texts with the originals, and 
ordered Maximus, a learned monk of the famous 
monastery of Mount Athos, to proceed with 
the work. But the proposed revision was to 
meet with a vigorous and determined opposi- 
tion. A powerful party took sides against 
Maximus, and an ecclesiastical court, rege vo- 
lente^ banished the learned monk to a convent. 
The reform agitation went on. In 1617, the 
Tsar Michael Fiodorovich had the texts col- 
lated anew. Again arose the storm, and 
Dionysius, the learned archimandrite who had 
undertaken to succeed Maximus, was sent to 
expiate his revising zeal in prison. At last the 
powerful patriarch Nikon threw himself into 
the breach. With the sanction of the Tsar 
Alexis Michailovich, the work was now prose- 
cuted with unexampled energy and determina- 
tion. Nikon secured the cooperation of the 
oecumenical patriarchs of the Greek Church and 
the monks of Mount Athos. No fewer than 
seven hundred ancient manuscripts were brought 
to Russia in order to facilitate the correction of 
the faulty texts. In 1655 the patriarch of An- 
tioch, the Servian patriarch, and the metropoli- 
tan of Moldavia entered Russia, to offer their 
assistance. Finally Nikon completed his task, 


and by a great ecclesiastical council, gathered 
at Moscow, all who refused to abide by the re- 
sult were solemnly excommunicated. At last 
the reformers had triumphed. But the victory 
was won in the teeth of an opposition so power- 
ful and widespread that it presented the char- 
acter of a national movement rather than of a 
mere party of resistance within or without the 
church. It was gained under such humiliating 
conditions of compromise that while the Rus- 
sian ecclesiastics eagerly accepted the reforms, 
they deemed it politic to throw the reformer 
into prison. Nothing could better illustrate the 
imminence of a grave public danger than this 
very decision which, while it affirmed the excel- 
lence and necessity of Nikon's work, dubbed 
Nikon a criminal for carrying it to successful 
completion. Nor could anything better show 
the deeprooted and determined character of the 
popular protest than the raslcol, the dissent 
and heresy which sprang from the anathema of 
the 13th of May, 1667. 

The details of the controversy have puerile 
and ridiculous elements in almost equal propor- 
tion. The whole question turned on whether 
in crossing one's-self the index and middle 
finger, or the three fingers, of the right hand 
should be used ; whether the word Jesus should 
be spelled " Iissus" or " Issus," or whether in a 


certain service " Hallelujah " should be sung 
twice or three times. But does any reader of 
mine suppose for one moment that out of such 
absurd elements as these, representing the two 
extremes of triviality and absurdity combined, 
a movement could arise fateful for all the subse- 
quent course of Russian history, as serious for 
the fortunes of the Greek Church as if half its 
followers had wandered away in some great 
hegira, and scarcely less grave for social and 
political solidarity in Russia than would have 
been the disruption of the planet itself ? The 
issues were not trivial. They were tremendous. 
Just as beneath the light play of human fancy 
and the fleeting reign of passion nature con- 
ceals some of the mightiest of her processes, so 
below this petty squabble over the spelling of 
a name and the raising of a finger lay hidden 
the elements of a vast convulsion. The reforms 
of Nikon, the ecclesiasts who sought to enforce 
them, the Greek Church that forged the anath- 
ema ; all these represented the state and its 
complex authority. The Old Believers at first, 
afterwards the dissenters and heretics, repre- 
sented the people. The outbreak had long 
been preparing. A cumulative irritation, a 
popular spirit of resistance growing deeper and 
wider with every augmentation of state su- 
premacy, at last enabled the most trivial of con- 


troversies to array the rival forces against each 

The struggle against the reforms of Nikon 
was a protest against authority in both church 
and state. This is shown all through the his- 
tory of the raskoL The Old Believers, while 
strenuously taking their stand in defense of 
points of ritual, showed all through the dispute 
a more or less vague consciousness of the politi- i 
cal character of the struggle. In declaring the 
Tsar to be Antichrist, and declining to pray for i 
him, they aimed a blow at what was rapidly / 
becoming the final source of authority in the/ 
double domain of religion and politics. They J 
made many attempts to provoke the civil power 
into reprisals. At Solovetsky, a monastery 
built on an island in the White Sea, the pro- 
test assumed the character of an insurrection. 
Converted by Old Believers banished for their 
obstinate championship of the popular cause, 
the Solovetsky monks took sides against au- 
thority and armed themselves for resistance. 
Three years after the anathema had been pro- 
nounced, we see the Tsar's troops laying siege 
to this centre of disaffection in the far north. 
The defenders reply to the attack with a hun- 
dred pieces of cannon, and for a period incredi- 
bly long, during which the leadership of the 
beleaguering forces has to be twice changed, 




maintain a sturdy, determined and effective 
resistance. That at last Solovetsky fell to 
treachery in no way dims the glory of its de- 
fenders. And the brave monks earned a far 
too terrible reward for posterity to do them the 
injustice of supposing that for seven long years 
they held out against the imperial forces simply 
in order to be able to shout " Hallelujah " 
twice instead of thrice in a church service, or 
cross themselves with two fingers instead of 

/^% That the spirit of revolt was abroad is shown 
by contemporaneous events standing apart in 
their origin from the merely religious contro- 

w versy. Scarcely a year had elapsed since the 
excommunication of the Old Believers when a 
frightful insurrection, the first of its kind, broke 
out in the governments of the Volga. The 
serfs revolted against their masters, Cossacks 
joined each other in armed protest against the 
curtailment of the privileges, while here and 
there Tatar, Chud, Mordv, and Cheremiss rose 
against the Russian domination. At the head 
of these elements of insurrection Stenka Razin, 
the famous brigand, swept the country for three 
years. At first sight the bond of connection 
between the two movements seems a wholly 
general one. But when Stenka Razin falls 
into the hands of the government, we see a 


large body of Cossacks, probably the main de- 
bris of the insurrection, traverse the whole of 
northern Russia by forced marches, and hasten 
to reinforce the defenders of the Solovetsky 
monastery. By one writer we are told con- 
cerning this movement that " between the fa- 
natical monks and the Cossacks there could 
scarcely be any closer point of contact than that 
they all crossed themselves with two fingers 
and said Issus instead of Iissus." The proba- 
bilities, as well as the facts, are all opposed to so 
superficial a theory. The point of contact was 
wider, not closer. The insurrection on the 
Volga, the insurrection at Solovetsky, were 
parts of a general revolt against authority, of 
which the religious controversy and the prac- 
tice of brigandage formed merely the outward 
shapes. The inextinguishable energy of the 
revolt, its superiority to all persecutions and 
sentences, the endurance of its martyrs, and the 
glory cast upon their memory by"admiring dis- 
ciples, all bring the struggle into the category 
of Russian political movements. Reading of 
the priest Avakum lying for punishment in an 
underground dungeon in the sixty-eighth de- 
gree of latitude, suffering all hardships undis- 
mayed, and retaining inviolate his undying 
faith in himself and his cause, one naturally re- 
verts to modern instances of political expiation ; 



and when, perusing the story to the end, we see 
the prisoner not only carrying on a propaganda 
\/- in chains, but converting his guards to the very 
views for which it is their duty to hold him 
captive, receiving confidential communications, 
holding interviews with agents, and sending 
men on secret missions with errands which he 
is powerless to do himself, — all this reads like 
a page from the contemporary annals of politi- 
cal offense in Russia. 

The character of the revolt is further shown 
by the behavior of the stryeltsy, 1 a sort of na- 
tional militia stationed at" 'Moscow, who were 
strongly impregnated with the views of the Old 
Believers. In the reign of Sophia this body, 
led by Prince Khovansky, broke into open in- 
surrection. The movement was suppressed 
with great severity, but no punishment could 
destroy the spirit out of which it had arisen. 
Again and again the stryeltsy rose against the 
combined tyranny of church and state, again 
and again they suffered the frightful vengeance 
of the government, until at last, in a fashion 
characteristically bloody and barbarous, they 
were completely extirpated by Peter. The 
stryeltsy were crushed, but not the revolt. It 
went on widening and deepening in its hold 
upon the awakening national consciousness. 

1 Literally "archers." 


Once more it was destined to appear in the 
shape of armed insurrection. When the Cos- h 

sack Pugachev rose in 1770 as Peter III., it \j 
was upon the dissenters, and still more upon 
the spirit of dissent, that he depended for suc- 
cess. Pugachev fell like his predecessor, Stenka \\~ 
Razin, but the protest against authority did not i?fl 
disappear. From " old " belief the movement 
grew to dissent and heresy, sects sprang out of 
sects and multiplied to such an extent that, to- 
day, upwards of 14,000,000 Russian subjects 
of the Tsar live outside the Greek Church in a 
state of protest against its authority. 

Evidences of this protest the various be- 
liefs of dissent yield in abundance. The Bezpo- 
povtsy, or " priestless " sect, rejects all ecclesi- 
astical authority, bestowing upon its members 
the right to baptize and perform other priestly 
functions. So far does this class of dissenters 
carry its rejection of the older dogmas that it 
brands marriages within the pale of the Ortho- 
dox Church as illegal. The Philippovtsy 1 are 
notorious for their fanatical hostility to the 
state. The Fedoseyevtsy 1 reject the ortho- 
dox sacraments and the institution of the priest- 
hood. The Stranniki (Wanderers) regard as 
an essential part of their doctrine the suspen- 
sion of all relations with the church and state, v 

1 From names of persons. 


The Duchobortsy (Warriors of the Spirit) teach 
the negation of all dogmas. Under Catherine 
II. and Paul I. their attitude was one of pro- 
nounced hostility to the state. The Strigolniki l 
direct a vigorous polemic against the church. 
The Molokani decline to acknowledge Ortho- 
dox sources of authority. The members of 
a sect known as the Nyemolyaki (Prayerless 
People) imitate the Vosdykhantsy (Sighers) 
in their opposition to Biblical authority and 
all forms of religions supplication. In this 
sect, as in the Molchalniki (Silent) who re- 
ject the Bible, and disbelieve in a future life, 
in God, and in religion, we see the negation 
of authority carried to its utmost possible ex- 
treme. One body of dissenters selected the 
Russian passport system as the object of its 
special hostility. The Stundists, at the begin- 
ning of their existence as a sect, expressly dis- 
avowed their presumptive subjection to the 

A sort of atavism is noticeable in not a few 
of the sectarian articles of faith. We see the 
dissenters falling back, unconsciously enough, 
to the dogmas — religious, social, and political 
— of the early Slav life. The Obshcheye, 
(Commune) taught a purely communistic doc- 
trine. Every mir that joined it was forthwith 

1 From a proper name. 


erected into a communistical unity, the members 
of which enjoyed all property in common under 
the administrative direction of " twelve apos- 
tles " regularly chosen from the people. The 
Stundists believe in and inculcate the equal- 
ity of all men, exacting from members of the 
sect a pronounced fraternal and philanthropic 
activity. Regarding commerce for profit as 
sinful, they trade with each other by a pro- 
cess of simple exchange. Land, water, and 
cattle they regard as the property of all men 
in common, and as incapable of being trans- 
ferred in inheritance. The popular character 
of early Slav legislation finds an echo in the 
Stundists' practice of settling all disputes 
amongst members inter se, sometimes with 
the aid of an elder temporarily invested with 
judicial functions. In the principles of the 
Duchobortsy, who hold that all men are equal, 
and that children ought to have the same con- 
sideration and reverence paid to them as that 
shown to adults and the aged, we catch a glimpse 
of old Slav life, with its recognition of personal 
worth and individual rights. This sect disbe- 
lieves in a future life, asserting the post-mortem 
migration of the soul either into another body, or 
to some far-off planet, — a partial reversion to 
the old Slav dogma that after death the soul 
sometimes journeyed to sun or moon. In the 


case of not a few of the fanatical sects, a truly- 
pagan scorn of marriage has wrought not a little 
injury to morals ; at times some of the hereti- 
cal dissenters link themselves in their atavism 
with the erotic orgies of the ancient world. 

The motive force of the revolt called dissent 
was Russian individuality. We find it every- 
where awake. Men ready to lead, groups eager 
to be led, are ubiquitous. The raskol, with its 
one " split," gives birth to a thousand. A new 
idea in dissent, a shade more of faith or incre- 
dulity in any given direction, the discovery of 
some affirming or denying text in the New Tes- 
tament, that armory of arguments for sectarians, 
— any one of these causes was amply sufficient 
to start a new creed. The influence of individ- 
uality in sect-forming is shown by the large 
proportion of dissenting systems of faith that 
bear the names of their founders. Thus, from 
the activity 6f Daniel Vikulin the Danielites 
came into existence ; that, of Theodosius Vassi- 
liev led to the organization of the Theodosians. 
In the former sect an extraordinary influence 
seems to have been exerted by a certain Prince 
Andrei Dennisov Myshetsky, who left behind 
him a voluminous literature on religious sub- 
jects. The same passionate enthusiasm and 
restless activity in the cause were displayed by 
Simeon, his brother and successor. The founder 


of the Philippovtsy, one Philipp, caused himself, 
with thirty-eight of his followers, to be burnt 
alive. A case is also narrated in which seven- 
teen hundred sectarians set fire to their village 
and voluntarily perished in the flames, denoun- 
cing the Church, the Tsar, and the Orthodox 
priesthood. In the commune of Starodub, gov- 
ernment of Vladimir, one Daniel Philippovich 
gained such influence over his followers that 
they consented to receive a series of " ten com- 
mandments " at his hands. The peasant Kon- 
drati Selivanov, regarded by his Khlysty fol- 
lowers as the incarnation of God, but at last 
whipped by the authorities and exiled to Sibe- 
ria, there became the centre of interest for hun- 
dreds of pilgrims who visited the leader in his 
banishment. Over the spot where Selivanov 
suffered the punishment of the, lash they built 
a chapel ; out of~the materials of his life they 
composed a legend of , passion anct martyrdom 
not unlike those of* which,' more recently, Rus- 
sian political patriots have been made the sub- 
ject. Gabriel Simin, the Cossack founder of the 
Nyemolyaki ; Kapustin, leader of the Ducho- 
bortsy; the venerable Abrossim, chief of the 
Zhivniy Pokoiniki ; Michael Ratuzhny, who 
originated the Stundist movement; these, and 
many others whose names might be given, were 
all men of awakened self-consciousness and pow- 


erful individuality. Nor did women escape this 
intellectual re-birth. At times their enthusiasm 
ran over into fanaticism. The Skoptsy (Self- 
Mutilators) had amongst their members in Mor- 
shausk, government of Tambov, a peasant 
.woman named Anna Safonovna, who was held 
in great veneration as a prophetess. Amongst 
the Khlyst}' r (Self-Whippers) numerous "moth- 
ers of God" and prophetesses have made their 
appearance. The absurdities into which the 
enthusiasm of the time led the softer sex are 
further shown by the career of women like Aku- 
lina Ivanovna, who led a thousand followers as 
the " Queen of Heaven," and of Anna Roman- 
ovna, who wielded influence by such means as 
ecstasies, paroxysms, and prophecies. 


Thus far it has been the strange and abnor- 
mal lot of Russia to take her institutions from 
the foreigner, aud to have by no means the 
most excellent of them foisted upon her against 
her will. We have seen how she first called in 
the Varegs to teach her government and mili- 
tary organization ; how her next appeal was to 
the Greek Church to instruct her in ritual 
and religion ; and how, from numerous foreign 
sources and at various times, she drew laws, 
customs, industries, and arts. It is now for us 
to look upon Russia under foreign tutelage in 
what may be called the European or modern 
period of the national life. This nominally be- 
gins with the reforms of Peter ; really, its ad- 
vent antedates that monarch's birth by several 
decades. It is to Poland, the vulnerable side of 
the empire, that one naturally looks for the ad- 
vanced-guards of the new civilization. The 
Poles were already an enlightened race and 
had a literature, long before Russia had yet pro- 
duced her first writer of note. Under Alexis Mi- 


chailovich, in the seventeenth century, the habit 
had sprung up of employing Polish teachers in 
the wealthier Russian families. In high places, 
too, this same Polish influence made itself felt. 
Western manners obtained a footing at the 
courts of the Tsars. Helen Glinsky, the second 
wife of the Tsar Vassily, and mother of Ivan the 
Terrible, persuaded her husband to shave his 
beard nearly two centuries before Peter's forci- 
ble introduction of the practice. The influence 
of Marina in promoting western culture at the 
court of Demetrius, her husband, was still more 
marked. But when we come to the reign of 
Peter's predecessor, Russian receptivity for 
European civilization seems to enter upon a 
new stage. Alexis, the father of the reformer, 
showed in himself that love for foreign institu- 
tions which he transmitted to his son. A trav- 
eler to some extent, he had frequent intercourse 
with foreigners* and in the house of Matveiev 
met the most cultured men and women of the 
time. Polish and Little Russian influence was 
strong during the reign of Alexis ; and of the 
immigrant savants, teachers, and theologians 
who wielded that influence, some were chosen 
to teach the children of the Tsar. Stronger 
still, perhaps, as a Europeanizing force, was 
the German colony at Moscow, representing the 
best enlightenment of the time, as a. sort of 


entrepdt through which a select few were per- 
mitted to draw otherwise contraband stores of 
culture and idea from the countries of west- 
ern Europe. It was in the German colony, 
moreover, that the regulations of the " Domos- 
tro'i " were first broken through in regard to 
woman, who there took her proper place in so- 

The new influences proved fatal to domestic 
tyranny. Tanner writes in 1678 that men had 
begun to permit their wives to converse with 
other men in their presence ! What it cost the 
priests to be obliged to sanction this arrange- 
ment is nowhere stated. A little later, Korb 
reports that " women no more hide themselves, 
but go to church in open wagons." A new pe- 
riod is clearly at hand for the long-oppressed 
slave of the Russian household. In 1677 and 
1679 legislation is enacted in favor- of property- 
f holding by wives. Woman, after eight centu- 
ries of exclusion from the Russian throne, again 
takes her place at the head of the state in the 
person of the regent Sophia, 1 who in intellect, 
enterprise, force of character, and education, 
fitly represents the awakened feminine con- 
sciousness and aspiration of her time. The ad- 

1 To be followed, in due course, as Empresses, by Catherine I., 
the two Annes, Elizabeth Petrovna, and Catherine II., —a whole 
galaxy of feminine talent. 


vent of Peter brought, if not the complete 
emancipation of "vpmen,,a host of reforms in 
their favor. » T$h:tererk was abolished . Hence- 
forth Russian*\^nfen were to appear in society 
and dress in the European manner. Parents 
were prohibited by law from causing children 
to marry against their will, while the betrothal 
was legally fixed to take place six weeks before 
the marriage, in order that the couple might 
become acquainted with each other, and break 
off the engagement if they thought necessary. 
The law forbidding uneducated gentlemen to 
marry was an attempt to bring enlightenment 
into families which stood in far greater need of 
culture than of wealth. Servile diminutives 
and prostrations were no longer permitted ; to 
wear his beard and continue to be a Russian 
Slav entailed upon each subject who refused to 
shave a fine of from thirty to one hundred rou- 
bles ; the pravezh took a milder form. Numer- 
ous foreigners were brought to Russia ; many 
books were translated into the language of the 
country, to the end that its institutions and in- 
dustries, its manners and customs, might thence- 
forth belong to European rather than Russian 
civilization. So sudden and violent were the 
reforms that even church literature underwent 
their modifying influence. The orthodox youth 
is warned by Possoshkov that he must not pay 


'court to two or three young women at the same 
time, on the ground that I 4 woman is not an an- 
imal, but a human being." The >same writer 
counsels husbands to undertake nothing without 
first advising with 'their wives, remarking, " She 
is, before God, not his^  servant, but his helper. 
She is not even a mere helper, but equal with 
the husband. Even when the wife is intellect- 
ually incapable, you must hear her counsel, if 
only to carry out the will of God. If she gives 
bad advice, God will help the husband to see 
what it is necessary for him to do." 

Peter originated no new movement, but 
merely gave a sudden and violent impulse to a 
process already begun. He incarnated the spirit 
of the time. All its tendencies found expression 
in himself. A genuine migrant, he had an in- 
tense love of travel. His predilection for the 
foreign amounted to a passion ; his eager recep- 
tivity for knowledge linked him with the peo- 
ple. That he was the most realistic Russian 
of his time — perhaps that Russia has ever pro- 
duced — is shown by the practical character 
and studied utility of all his reforms. Like 
those of the people, his aspirations were upward 
and onward, for racial movements carry mon- 
archs along with them as well as slaves. Yet 
despite these common points of agreement to 
facilitate understanding with each other, it was 


inevitable that hostilities should break out be- 
tween a ruler who lived in the future and sub- 
jects whose predilections lay in the past. Peter 
was a Slav like the rest, but unlike the rest he 
was born an autocrat, and could no more rid him- 
self of the influence of circumstance than could 
the classes over whom he ruled. The people 
could not brook absolute power, and Peter could 
not brook popular power. Traditions which, 
under one set of circumstances, produced popular 
hatred of monocracy, under another set arrayed 
the individual against pantocracy. It was the 
union of two passions, one individual, arising 
out of position, the other racial, a product of 
growth, that gave so much harshness to the re- 
former's character and activity. Had Peter 
been less of a Slav he would have been less of a 
despot. On the other hand, had he not been 
born to power he might have won it for him- 
self. His struggle against the popular resis- 
tance had especial elements of difficulty. He 
had ascended the throne in the full tide of a 
thinly disguised political revolt. By all the 
methods which it could compass — by church 
secessions, by religious insurrection, by brigan- 
dage and risings — the country had expressed 
its resistance to authority. Peter not only con- 
ceded nothing to that resistance : he provoked 
it with every expedient of a fertile brain, and 


then foiled it at the top of its bent by bringing 
against it all the instruments of brute force 
which an unlimited command of the resources 
of punitive cruelty placed at his disposal. It 
was the same old issue that Peter now revived 
with a thousand aggravations. Just as merely 
superficial appearances failed to explain the 
quarrel between Nikon and the Old Believers, so 
there was a deeper meaning in the new dispute 
than any that could be drawn from the outer 
aspects of a petty squabble between the advo- 
cates of Slav institutions and the partisans of 
west European civilization. In the one as in 
the other case the popular revolt was against 
authority and all that it represented ; against 
centralization, against beaurocracy, against un- 
due tax-gathering ; against, in fine, the com- 
bined burdens of an ecclesiastically and auto- 
cratically governed state. 

Jealous of every authority save that of the 
Tsar, Peter took early steps to secure the field 
of sovereignty wholly to himself. To the popu- 
lar resistance he opposed the inquisitions and 
barbarities of a secret tribunal. The privileges 
of the Little Russians he struck down by abol- 
ishing their hetmanate. By a series of terrible 
massacres he broke the power of the stryeltsy. 
Distrustful of the monks, whose sympathies 
were not with the reforms, he forbade them the 


use of pens and ink in their cells. He warned 
the bishops against display and ostentation, in- 
structing them to receive and permit no marks 
of popular reverence. The dissenters were re- 
lentlessly persecuted. Peter could brook no 
rival, even in spiritual matters, and so, abolish- 
ing the patriarchate, he became as supremely 
head of the church as he had been before in- 
contestably autocrat of the state. Finally, we 
see him — distrustful even in the paternal rela- 
tionship — sanctioning the murder of his own 
son. 1 

Peter's egoism and energy, his ambition, his 
callous insensibility to human suffering, seemed 
to give autocratic rule in Russia a new and vi- 
rile lease of power. The Tsar reformer left the 
Russian state superficially stronger than ever, 
— stronger by its union with the church, by 
pressure of the nobility into its service, by a 
more perfect system of money-raising, and an 
increase in the authority of the proprietorial tax- 
gatherer over the enslaved tiller of the soil di- 
rectly related to the increased authority of the 
monarch himself. But Peter did more than 
simply perfect this half Mongol, half Byzantine 
legacy that had fallen into his hands. The ex- 
isting system was essentially Asian. Peter 
sought to make it European. Previous Tsars 

1 Knouted to death. 


had been content to build up the Russian state 
homogeneously ; Peter and his reforms raised a 
problem that was destined at last to form the 
one great question of the national life, before 
which all others were to be of mere secondary- 
interest. How long and to what degree was it 
possible to reconcile to the old cadre of auto- 
cratic government this filling in of western cul- 
ture ? How many centuries could Tsarism hope 
to go on pouring out the bright new wine of 
modern civilization into those ancient bottles of 
Asian despotism that Europe has never toler- 
ated save in her curiosity shops ? In the light 
of questions like these Peter's work possesses a 
double significance. Constructively, and within 
the immediate limits of his activity, the re- 
former did more to strengthen the foundations 
of despotism in Russia, perhaps, than any other 
member of the Romanov family. Unconsciously 
and prospectively, he struck despotism a blow 
from which it was destined never to recover. 
No avowed champion of the people, aided by the 
most favorable circumstances, could have done 
such effective battle for Russian liberties as that 
compassed by the champion of absolute power. 
Earlier than the reforms by a century had the 
West sent out into the Russian land her pio- 
neers of enlightenment ; like the serpent brood 
at the root of Yggdrasil, the world-tree of Scan- 


dinavian myth, they lay gnawing at the base of 
autocratic rule, silently, if slowly, undermining 
that structure of ages to its fall. But Peter 
was the first to fairly robe Russian tyranny in 
the Nessus-shirt of European civilization. This 
was the reformer's real significance for the na- 
tional, life. This was his title to greatness and 
to glory. 

Eagerly welcoming as enlightenment what it 
had resisted as authority, Russia, once fairly in 
the new path, went on steadily assimilating 
west European manners. The courts of em- 
presses and emperors became brilliant centres 
of foreign culture. Under Anna Ivanovna Ger- 
man influence reigned almost as despotically as 
the Tsaritsa herself. It was the privilege of 
Elizabeth Petrovna, who opened relations with 
France, surrounding herself with French emi- 
grants, to witness not only the first successes of 
the new civilization, but also the birth of Rus- 
sian literature in Lomonossov. Foreign in- 
fluence, principally French, fired the wit as it 
embellished the reign of Catherine II., and only 
culminated, under Alexander I., in a brilliant 
epoch wherein Russia seemed to follow the ex- 
ample of France by crowding the most illus- 
trious of her names into a single page of the 
national history. In some of the earliest years 
of the century now about to close, we see Rus- 


sia not only saturated with the science and 
learning of the West, but mature enough to 
have a national literature of her own. From 
Kantimir, Derzhavin, Karamzin, Zhukovsky, 
representing the foreign and unripe period of 
the new culture, the country grew to Pushkin, 
Gogol, Koltsov, Krylov, Griboyedov, Turgeniev, 
and others, representing the national or intro- 
spective period of the intellectual movement. 
The emancipation of the serfs, the impulse given 
to popular and university education, the spread 
of the literary spirit by reviews and newspapers, 
all events of the reign of Alexander II., seemed 
to bring Russian civilization to its highest point. 
What, now, was the character of this prog- 
ress ? Did it tend to reconcile the people to 
authority, or was its influence one provocative 
of hostility to the system of rule by absolute 
power ? It must be remembered that then as 
now the Russian government, alike in the man- 
ner of its origin and the methods of its oper- 
ation, was a unique national phenomenon in 
Europe. It was in the autocratic order of so- 
ciety that all Russian literature, uninfluenced 
from without, had its foundation. The foreign 
literature read so eagerly by the receptive Rus- 
sians presupposed an entirely different consti- 
tution of society and order of things. When 
least political in its character it offered number- 


less contrasts with Russian life ; when most 
political it formed a literature of propaganda. 
Enlightenment, even when pure and simple, 
was the foe of all despotism ; knowledge used to 
glorify liberty could not fail to hasten the pro- 
cessed tha*t were disintegrating a semi-Asian 
state. Such had been the influence of the for- 
eign culture and ideas that in the first years of 
the century we see Alexander I. consulting with 
statesmen whose ideal constitution was a gov- 
ernment in the English and not in the Rus- 
sian manner. Montesquieu, Rousseau, Byron, 
Goethe, Schiller, had an audience in Russia fully 
as eager and impressionable, if not as large, as 
that to which they appealed amongst their own 
countrymen. Griboyedov, in " Gore* ot uma" 
(The Misfortune of having Brains), and Gogol, 
in "The Revisor," supplied the material for 
gloomy comparisons of Russian with west Euro- 
pean civilization. In the third and fourth dec- 
ades of the ^century we see the Russian youth 
studying Schelling and Hegel, absorbing the doc- 
trines of Fourrier and St. Simon. The art school 
of Bielinsky finds its antithesis in the realistic 
school of Pissarev. Popular translations of the 
works of Darwhv Biichner, Moleschott, and 
Buckle are eagerly read. The^ students devour 
Prudhon and. Louis Blanc. -Gferhishevsky i n 
the sixth decade popularizes the writings of 


John Stuart Mill, -and formulates, in " Shto 
dyelat " (What -s'to be done), a scheme for the 
reconstruction of society. The socialistic ideas 
of the time find expression in the "Contempo- 
rary," in which both Qhefnislievsky' and Dobro- 
lyubov champion western thought. 

Such, briefly, was the European period of 
Russian development. That it was a period of 
high and valuable acquisition for the national 
life is incontestable. The machinery of the 
first reforms was unquestionably despotic. For- 
eign manners were frequently associated with 
foreign morals. But a real and beneficial en- 
lightenment took place. Western culture, in 
emancipating women and children from domes- 
tic tyranny, merely anticipated by a few years 
an inevitable reaction from the sway of the 
"Domostroi." Foreign literature stimulated 
native minds until the Russians could create a 
literature of their own. It was foreign ideas 
thai; led to the emancipation of the serf ; it was 
foreign ideas that gave the country imperfect 
yet priceless educational advantages ; it was 
foreign ideas to which must be referred all con- 
cessions of absolute power to absolute subjection 
that have been made in Russia firing the pres- 
ent century. 

On the other hand, 'we have seen how intoler- 
ance of autocracy increased in proportion to 


the degree ami character of the incoming en- 
lightenment.^ The greater the Russian^ love 
of foreign institutions, the greater was his de- 
testation of those at his own door. ) Science 
gave an immense 'impulse to this critical intro- 
spection. The realism that produced incredu- 
lity in matters of religious faith led to the rejec- 
tion of the most venerable dogmas in politics. 
If now and then " emancipated " circles of 
young people deemed it proper to reject author- 
ity in the family, and withdraw reverence from, 
the sacred mysteries of the church, whati obe- 
dience and consideration could they be expected 
to show to the head of the state ? The very 
sanctity of life itself came to be questioned. 
What was nature, reasoned the young material- 
ist, but an eternal process of reproduction and 
annihilation, a process in which life is continu- 
ally purchased at the cost of death, a process" in 
which the general and not the individual weal 
is the supreme law ? If by the death of one 
man millions could be made happier, would not 
that be a gain? Such was the terrible question- 
ing that arose out of the new knowledge from 
the West, and such the exaggerated forms in 
which the issues of a great problem had begun 
to present themselves. Yet they were nothing 
more than a natural reaction from the evils of 
a system which the Russian mind was rejecting 


with a dangerous suddenness, rather than in a 
movement of recoil at once slow and safe. The 
emancipation of women could not fail to pre- 
r sent v pIiehomena of an analogous character. Of 
Russian w^men. in 1843, Haxthausen writes : — 

" If, instead" of going into Egypt to look for the 
free woman, the Saint Simonians had made a voyage 
to Russia, they would have come back perhaps more 
satisfied. In a family well organized, it is the hus- 
band who reigns and the wife who governs ; but in 
Russia it is quite the contrary. Many of the peas- 
ant women work very much less than with us in the 
country districts. Men in Russia even perform part 
of the household work : they carry water, wood, and 
make the fire. Amongst the bourgeoisie and mer- 
chant class the women pass the day doing nothing." 

And when, in comparatively recent times, 
young female students donned male garments 
and cut their hair short like that of men, the 
vagary was not nearly so unnatural as it seemed 
to the many superficial observers who held it 
up to ridicule. The reaction was from a state 
of things for which hardly any exaggeration 
could furnish an adequate antithesis. No pe- 
culiarity of attire or manner could so unsex 
woman as she was unsexed by the terem and 
the u Domostroi." The wonder is not that she 
rebelled, but that she did not rebel in some 
more terrible and tragic manner. 



If the state policy of Peter was faithfully 
continued by his successors, the spirit of revolt 
was kept alive by the miserable condition of 
the people, and by the numerous provocations 
they suffered at the hands of autocratic power. 
Scarcely had Catherine II. ascended the throne 
when a terrible insurrection broke out in Mos- 
cow. The mob cried, " It is not for us Ortho- 
dox to suffer the injustice of authority ! " Two 
years later an extensive rebellion was led by 
Pugachev, who gathered under his banner fugi- 
tive serfs, dissenters, Volga pirates, and men of 
all reputable and disreputable classes from the 
Volga regions. The rising was in itself of small 
significance. "It is not Pugachev that is im- 
portant," wrote Catherine's agent ; " it is the 
general discontent." The serfs rebelled against 
their masters ; the Tatar tribes rose against the 
Russians ; a frightful revolution seemed on the 
point of shaking the empire to its fall. But 
Tsar ism acted promptly ; Catherine hung Pu- 
gachev and destroyed the Zaporog republic of 


free Cossacks. A few years later the dilettante 
empress amused her favorite nobles by making 
them presents of human beings, a step which 
transferred one hundred and fifty thousand men 
and women from the crown lands, where their 
lot was tolerable, to the conditions of private 
serfdom, where it was incomparably more 
wretched. In 1767 the correspondent of Vol- 
taire issued an ukaz forbidding serfs to make 
complaints about their masters and mistresses, 
-and giving to the latter the right to deport the 
slaves to Siberia. Later, Catherine established 
serfage in Little Russia. 1 

It was in the reign of Catherine that the re- 
volt against authority, hitherto expressed in 
general discontent or in outbreaks that aimed 
only indirectly against the existing regime, began 
to take the form of conspiracy. At first the 
movement seems to have sheltered itself in free- 
masonry societies, and to have been confined to 
the planning of an improved form of govern- 
ment for Russia, such as might be discussed 
amongst the intelligent classes without exciting 
suspicion. Its leader in Catherine's time was 
one Novikov, who did much to disseminate the 
new culture amongst the masses, who after- 
wards suffered from the disrepute into which 

1 Was not this the lady of whom Voltaire wrote, " C'est du 
Nord, aujourd'hui, que nous vient la lumiere " V 


freemasonry fell, and finally came to be re- 
garded by some as the father of the Russian 
revolt. But the modern and aggressive phase 
of the revolt had not yet begun. It took the 
cumulative irritations of three reigns after that 
of Catherine to give it anything like a perma- 
nent footing in Russia. Of these, the schemes 
of Paul for the support of sovereign authority 
were amongst the first signs of the distrust with 
which the successors of Peter began to regard 
^European ideas. ' At first Tsarism had deluded 
ifeelf into the belief that it could combine a 
state organization as despotic as that of Russia 
and a civilization as advanced as that of Eng- 
land or France. Gradually, by force of mere 
suspicion at the outset, afterwards by the logic 
of facts, this simple faith gave way to a recog- 
nition of the utter impossibility of holding to- 
gether a dual state, of which the ruling elements 
were irreconcilable with each other. To lessen 
the antagonism, to correct the harm already 
done, Tsarism hit upon the expedient of filter- 
ing foreign ideas through the censure ; in urgent 
cases, of excluding them altogether. A panic 
fear of the West and of Western influences dis- 
played itself in many of the measures of Paul 
and his successors. In close attendance upon 
it we seem to see in the autocratic mind a vague 
consciousness of injustice, a sense even as of guilt 


that could not be shaken off. This overwhelm- 
ing disproportion in the balance of power on the 
side of the ruler, the crowding of all final au- 
thority into a single individuality, the practical 
annihilation of the people as factors of national 
government, — all these pressed upon the rep- 
resentative of Tsarism with crushing weight. 

Alexander I. began by coquetting with West- 
ern culture, and ended by holding it in profound 
distrust. He had a particular fear of the for- 
eign pedagogue and governess. 

" Our nobles," runs a state paper of which Alex- 
ander approved, " the support of the empire, are 
brought up frequently in the care of persons who . . . 
despise everything native, and have neither sound 
acquirements nor proper moral principles. The other 
classes imitate the nobility, and help to compass the 
overthrow of society by handing their children over 
to foreigners to be educated. . . . Foreigners are also 
chosen to impart instruction in the sciences ; this 
doubles the injury, and is rapidly rooting out the 
national spirit." 

In order to remedy the state of things com- 
plained of, Alexander decreed that in future the 
founders of private schools should be tested for 
" morality " rather than for knowledge. An 
ukaz issued in 1824 enjoined the closest watch- 
fulness upon the censure, in order that influen- 
ces might be counteracted that were spreading 


" immorality, infidelity, and sedition." An 
ukaz of the same period aimed at suppressing 
the school circulation of certain " dangerous " 
works. From the universities several profess- 
ors were dismissed. The further teaching of 
natural philosophy and the political sciences 
was forbidden. The students were henceforth 
required to live in the fear of God and the Or- 
thodox faith, to show the due respect and hold 
themselves in proper subordination to all offi- 
cials of the university and the state, to refrain 
from attending theatres and social gatherings 
without permission, not to go beyond the limits 
of the town, even on botanizing tours, without 
the authority of the school chief ; not to be seen 
in public taverns or hotels, not to read books 
inimical to the Orthodox faith or to the existing 
method of government, not to leave the univer- 
sity or school without permission. The press 
was crippled and a ban laid upon the teachings 
of Newton and Copernicus. The earth still 
moved, but not for Alexander ; the apple con- 
tinued to fall, but the Russian monarch had 
made up his mind to ignore the phenomenon. 
Such were some of the irritations contrived for 
the towns and town life. Alexander also found 
time to guard the agricultural populations 
against evil influences. In a number of dis- 
tricts he established military colonies. The 


scheme was one for recruiting the army with- 
out crippling agriculture, and for keeping up a 
healthy sentiment of loyalty amongst the com- 
mon people. These ends were to be accom- 
plished by the unmarried soldiers of each colony 
becoming the husbands of the peasants' daugh- 
ters. The wretched muzhik, upon whom the 
whole weight of the state lay, resented this new 
burden. In the new temper of the people, his 
revolt against authority took the direct form. 
It was repressed with great cruelty. 

Unfortunately for the success of Alexander's 
plotting against Western ideas, there was one 
inlet for them which no rigors of censorship 
could close up or even hold in surveillance. 
The Napoleonic wars and the part Alexander 
played in them had brought some of the most 
thoughtful men and officers of the Russian 
army into direct contact with west European 
civilization. No longer mere students of the 
French revolution, drinking in from books the 
teachings of the Encyclopaedists, at last they 
stood in Paris, in the heart of that bright world 
of ideas, upon which they had gazed so ardently 
and so long from the dark planet of their own 
destiny ; at last thousands of observing Rus- 
sians, belonging to all ranks in the army and 
militia, seemed to have broken through the re- 
strictions upon foreign travel, and to be wan- 


dering over western Europe, comparing their 
own lot with that of the foreigner, storing up 
impressions and experiences, collecting knowl- 
edge, and committing facts to memory, that 
were afterwards to cross the frontier in too in- 
tangible a shape to suffer interference at the 
hands of censor or officer of the custom house, 
yet full of a potency that could not be esti- 
mated in terms of physical force. The true 
and first propaganda of the revolt began when 
these traveling Russians carried back to their 
countrymen at home the story of what they had 
seen in Europe. Many of them, like Pestel, 

' noticed that u the states in which no revolution 
had taken place continued to be deprived of 
many rights and privileges ; " not a few of the 
officers recrossed the frontier with the fixed 

/pu rpose of " importing France into Russia." 
In 1815 the two brothers Muraviev founded the 
" Arsamass," a literary society with political 
objects. At first the conspirators hoped to ob- 
tain a new constitution by peaceful agitation. 
But the "crowned Hamlet" of Russian autoc- 
racy, as Herzen called him, blighted these 
hopes by closing all the Freemasons' lodges, 
and by harassing the more enlightened classes 
through the censure and the police. In 1817 
the " Alliance du Bien JStre " came into ex- 
istence under the leadership of Pestel. Then 


followed the Society of the North, with its 
headquarters at St. Petersburg, and the Society 
of the South, stationed at Moscow. The So- 
ciety of Virtue was dissolved, but two other 
organizations stepped into its place. Over the 
four societies now in existence Pestel's influence 
was predominant. The general object of the 
conspirators was to set up a federated Slav 
republic or constitutional monarchy .\\ Pestel 
planned the seizure and execution of the royal 
family, and the proclamation of a new govern- 
ment by the Senate and the Holy Synod, who 
were to be forced into the part assigned to them 
by a military insurrection. Many soldiers were 
gained over to the scheme, but the outbreak 
itself was badly carried out, and had no leaders 
worthy of the name. Prince Trubetskoy, the 
head elect of the new government, was no- 
where to be found in the moment of danger. 
When at last the outbreak came Alexander was 
dead, and Nicholas, with an insurrection barring 
his way to the throne, plied the two thousand 
revolting soldiers with grape shot. The rising 
was easily crushed. Pestel, Ryliev, Sergius 
Muravev, Bestyuzhev-Ryumin, and Kakhovsky 
expiated their aspirations and bravery on the 
scaffold ; one hundred and sixteen others were 
banished to Siberia. 

This first conversion of the spirit of revolt 


into terms of force ended in an apparent disaster 
, for the conspirators. Yet it was the conspirators 
who were really victorious. Nothing could have 
given so vital and stimulating an impulse to 
the cause of Russian revolt as a failure which 
was destined to array the very worst tendencies 
of absolutism against the rising intelligence of 
the people. Nicholas was a born despot, but 
^ his despotism as a Tsar drew not a little of its 
selfish egoism and unbounded cruelty from the 
irritating events of the 14th of December. Had 
.the purpose of the Dekabrists been to show 
autocracy at its worst, and in this way to array 
against it all the potencies of popular resistance, 
their success could not have been greater than 
it was. Had Nicholas aimed at calling forth all 
the bitterness and hostility which the hearts of 
his subjects could cherish towards despotic rule, 
he could not have acted more in harmony with 
such a purpose than he did. A monarch so in- 
genious in devising methods of popular irrita- 
tion perhaps never sat on the Russian throne. 
We see him laying his iron hand on everything 
that could be suspected of contributing to the 
fast growing discontent. Foreign travel, the 
study of foreign languages and literatures, 
teaching by foreigners or by Russians who had 
been educated abroad, — all these were made 
the subject of numerous prohibitory or restric- 


tive decrees. The inculcation of German philos- 
ophy he ingeniously confined to the priests, the 
majority of whom did not know the language 
of their own liturgies, not to say anything of 
the tongue of Schelling and Hegel and Kant. 

The revolt gradually obtained recognition in 
official circles. Attempts were even made to 
explain it. Numerous rescripts and decrees, 
particularly school orders and university papers, 
declare the harm to have arisen through the 
idleness of the student, the " luxury of half 
knowledge " wrought by the prevailing system 
of education, and the immoral influences of pri- 
vate tuition under the care of foreign masters 
and pedagogues. The elements of the problem 
awaiting solution are thus summed up by Uva- 
rov, minister of public instruction, in a report 
to the Tsar dated 19th November, 1833 : — 

" Russia has preserved a warm faith in certain re- 
ligious, moral, and political ideas peculiar to its own 
conditions and circumstances. But how shall these 
principles, which lack unity and centrality, and have 
had to sustain an uninterrupted struggle during the 
past thirty years, be brought into harmony with the 
present temper of the times ? Shall we be able so to 
include them in our system of universal education as 
to combine the advantages of our own time with the 
traditions of the past and hopes for the future? How 
may we devise a system of popular education which 


shall correspond with our own state of things and yet 
not be foreign to the European spirit ? Whose strong 
and experienced hand can keep intellectual aspirations 
within the limits of quiet and order, and at the same 
time ward off everything likely to prove inimical to 
the welfare of the state ? " 

Or, in other words, " How shall we reconcile 
a European culture with an Asian method of 
government ? " It was the old issue. Uvarov 
was seeking a modus vivendi between the two 
forces, and he was clearly aiming at the impos- 
sible. Western ideas had already shown their 
hostility to Tsarism, and no experiments with 
education, no dismissing of professors, no cru- 
sade against foreign teachers, foreign books, and 
foreign travel could force the new thought into 
a degrading compromise with its highest veri- 
ties and aspirations. The revolt was to awaken 
again, and that right quickly. Mr. Wallace 
tells his readers that there was little need for 
the order that went forth after the hanging of 
Pestel and his fellow patriots, — the order de- 
claring "that there should be no more fire- 
works, no more dilettante philosophizing or new 
aspirations." "Society," says the writer named, 
" had discovered to its astonishment that these 
new ideas . . . led in reality to exile and the 
scaffold. The pleasant dream was at an end." 
A society that could give birth to men like Pes- 


tel, and Ryliev, and Bestyuzhev, — to men who, 
under happier circumstances, would have been 
the salvation of their country, — was not a 
society to underestimate the hazards of a strug- 
gle for liberty, or to basely yield up its aspira- 
tions because suffering and bloodshed were to be 
the penalties of realization. The " pleasant 
dream " was not at an end. It drew a fresh 
charm from the intensified despotism of which 
it was the bright antithesis ; it furnished gener- 
ous minds and hearts with an ever recurring 
means of escape from the dreary life of the new 
regime. And when at last tyranny at home 
and dragooning abroad brought Nicholas to the 
ignominious reverse in the Krim, all tongues 
that could give voice to the common aspiration 
for liberty arose in condemnation and arraign- 
ment of the absolutist monarch. From one end 
of the empire to the other this voice was heard, 
in manuscripts, in pamphlets, in books. The 
people declared they had been " kept long 
enough in serfage by the successors of the Tatar 
Khans." They protested that God had not con- 
demned them forever to be slaves. 

In the mean time a movement was spreading 
in Russia that, hitherto regarded as an outcome 
of mere literary and ethnological sentiment, 
must here be restored to its true place and signif- 
icance as a part of the general revolt. In this, 


as in many other cases, one cannot fail to recog- 
nize the extraordinary vitality of the process 
which is assailing the fabric of Tsarism. The 
revolt never dies. Driven from one means of 
aggressiveness, it selects another point of attack. 
Its approaches are often as cunningly indirect as 
those of a besieger's parallel. Whether as a re- 
ligious quarrel, as an act of collective brigandage, 
as a military revolution or a conspiracy, it pre- 
serves its character and aims through the most 
baffling and Protean disguises. We shall next 
see it, then, in association with the protest 
against that authority which forced upon an 
unwilling people the innovations of Peter, the 
reformer. That protest had a double character. 
In their negative attitude the people resented 
the inroad made upon their personal liberties, 
or upon so much of them as remained ; their 
positive opposition arose out of a love of the 
free life of the early Slav period and its allied 
sentiment in favor of old Russian habits and 
customs. Gradually this protest grew into a 
declared opposition to west European culture, 
and gradually a class of thinkers was formed 
who began to decry everything foreign and laud 
every thing Slav and national. Russia had all 
the elements for such a reaction within her own 
borders. The profound distrust with which 
many educated people regarded the reforms was 


intensified amongst the people by a natural 
hatred of the despotism with which they had 
been enforced, — a despotism which grew as the 
state grew, and with every extension of impe- 
rial authority placed new burdens upon the 
shoulders of the masses. The war with France, 
the " patriotic " uprising against Napoleon, the 
triumphs of Pushkin in the national field of 
Russian literature, and the introspective direc- 
tion given to thought by the writings of Gogol, 
— all these helped to strengthen a movement 
ostensibly directed against foreign culture, but 
really aimed at a regime which withheld from 
Russia the advantages of its old civilization. 

Under the impulse of literary romanticism on 
the one hand, and of German philosophy on the 
other, the movement or tendency at last sepa- 
rated intellectual Russian society into two par- 
ties. Both elements, conservative and liberal, 
we see represented in the third decade of the 
present century by a group of young men who 
met to study Hegel at the house of Stankevich, ^ 
a university professor in Moscow. One of the 
questions discussed was, " Is a logical transition 
possible, without gap or obstacle, from pure 
Being through Nothing to Becoming and Exist- 
ence?" In other words, "What governs the 
world, the free creating Will, or the law of ne- 
cessity ? " Further, " In what consists the antith- 


esis between the Russian and west European 
civilization ? Is it the degree of the devel- 
opment, or the peculiarity of the elements of 
culture ? " Finally, " Is Russian civilization des- 
tined to be penetrated not only by the superfi- 
cial results, but also by the fundamental sub- 
stance of European civilization ? Or will Rus- 
sia, after she has absorbed her own Orthodox 
intellectual life, find in this a new phase of uni- 
versal human culture ? " A political turn might 
be given to almost any one of these questions, 
yet they seem to have been discussed without 
reference to questions of state. The immediate 
result of the controversies which sprang from 
them was the formation of the two parties, — 
the Slavophils, or Nationalists, and the Zapad- 
niki, or Westerns. 

Both were discontented with the existing r£- 
gime. The Westerns, whose polemical head- 
quarters were St. Petersburg, admitted the lack 
of self-consciousness on the part of society, and 
the helplessness and ignorance of the masses, 
but looked for a means of remedy to the dis- 
semination of European knowledge and the 
consistent prosecution of the work begun by 
Peter. The Slavophils, who found their party 
centre at Moscow, had a policy in harmony with 
their choice of camp. They looked for help to the 
past, in which they saw, instead of tormenting 


discord, a full unity between authority, society, 
and the people. They held that the reforms had 
separated the masses from the upper layer of 
society, which had abjured them. Thus the 
national unity had been destroyed. To restore 
that unity it was necessary to reject Western 
culture and return to the old Russian civiliza- 
tion. 1 M. Ivan Aksakov, one of the cleverest 
and best known of the Slavophils, describes the 
reforms of Peter as having effected a complete 
revolution. " The state," he goes on to say, 
" breaks with the country and subjects it. It 
hastens to build a new residence that has noth- 
ing in common with Russia, and has no root in 
Russian reminiscences. While it breaks faith 
with the land, it forms itself on the pattern of 
the West, where state institutions have been 
most developed, and introduces the aping of 
western Europe. Everything Russian is per- 
secuted. Those of the state serve it faithfully ; 
the people remain true to the old. Russia is 
split into two. It has two capitals. On the one 
hand is the state, with its foreign capital St. 
Petersburg ; on the other are the people, with 
their Russian capital Moscow." 

The Slavophils carried on no conspiracy 
against Tsarism and had the happy fortune not 

In this paragraph I follow the account given by M. Pypin in 
vol. ii. of the Vyestnik Yevropy. — ' 



to be suspected of disloyalty. Yet their views 
and policy, — formulated not only by M. Aksa- 
kov, but also by talented men like the brothers 
Kiryevsky, like Khomyakov, Valuyev, Kon- 
stantin, Samarin, Koshelev, Yelagin, Novikov, 
Shchiskov, — will be found to raise issues against , y 
Russian absolutism precisely identical in essence 
with those of the revolt itself. From the very 
group of Slavophils who had been studying ^ 
" non-political " philosophy with Stankevich ' 
sprang two of the most uncompromising foes of 
Tsarism that Russia ever produced. 1 

The Slavophils had a clear predilection for the 
political characteristics of the old civilization. 
They were opposed to the evils that had been 
wrought by the usurpations of the autocratic 
state. In dwelling on the unity which the old 
Slav system secured for authority, society, and 
the people, they were simply lauding the privi- 
leges of the pre-Muscovite days, of the time when 
the people had their veckes, when the ruler was 
a servant, when the communal and urban liber- 
ties were intact, and when the population gov- 
erned their own country, neminem ferans im- 
perantem. Nothing had done so much to cause 
that separation of classes of which they com- 
plained as the growth of the autocratic state 
and the gradual sacrifice of healthy social equali- ( 

1 Herzen and Bakunin. 


ties to the financial exigencies of a centralized 
administration and a unified territory. The er- 
ror, sentimental rather than historical, into 
which the Slavophils fell was that of choosing 
the pre-Muscovite period for idealization, and of 
blaming Peter alone for a work of class separa- 
tion which, it is quite clear, began long before 
the advent of the reformer, having really been 
^originated under Byzantine and Mongolic influ- 

When Slavophilism grew into the wider 
ethnological conception of Panslavism, the move- 
ment showed its inner solidarity with the revolt 
in new forms. The aim of the party was to 
bring into a union more or less close all the 
branches of the Slav stock. The scheme further 
contemplated the headship of the Tsar, and 
the Russification of the various members of the 
union. Finally a fraction was born to Panslav- 
ism under Koshelev, who withdrew his consent 
to the Russification of the Poles, and demanded 
a new constitution for Russia. 

A remarkable feature of the Panslavistic sen- 
timent was the federative idea which underlay 
it. Herzen, for example, planned a separation 
from Russia of the Caucasus, the Baltic prov- 
inces, and Finland. Others contemplated Polish 
and Little Russian autonomy. The dream of 
not a few Panslavists was a federation of all the 



Slav nationalities. And this idea of federation 
directly connected the movement with the re- 
volt, since it was a reversion to the federative 
principle of old Slav life. We shall see later 
how it was utilized and developed by the oppo- 
nents of the unified empire. 


It now becomes necessary, before the story of 
the revolt can be resumed, to consider certain 
psychological phenomena due to the oppressive 
conditions of the individual and national devel- 
opment. The mystical tendencies of thought 
in Russia seem to have first declared themselves 
on religious ground, but their later manifesta- 
tions have invaded all fields of intellectual life 
and literary labor. Mysticism, the reader will 
remember, has worn innumerable garbs and re- 
ceived multifarious definitions. It has been 
called theopathetic, theosophic, theurgic. It 
has been discovered in the Vedas, in the doc- 
trines of Plato, and the philosophy of Hegel. 
In the Middle Ages we see it as u purification," 
" illumination," " ecstatic union," and " absorp- 
tion." Sometimes it is pantheistic, sometimes 
theistic. Strictly speaking, it is an internal il- 
lumination, a supersensual exaltation, an as- 
cribing of objective existence to the subjective 
creations of the mind. But the name has also 
been given to morbid tendencies to the myste- 



rious, and to the play of the fancy in the realm 
of the spiritual or ghostly. In the individual 
the mystical condition may be produced by some 
striking experience, — by a crushing disappoint- 
ment, by world-weariness, by the discovery of 
some truth. It may arise in deep melancholy, 
still of tener out of despair. Yet, with depres- 
sion for its exciting cause, it appears only in the 
form of reaction. The mind seems to triumph 
over its old state by a sense of exclusiveness and 
exaltation, a consciousness of special endow- 
ment, sanctity, or knowledge. Mysticism, as a 
national trait, is produced by oppressive condi- 
tions of national life ; mysticism in religion 
arises out of dry and lifeless formalism. Yet, 
in whatever guise it may present itself, mysti- 
cism is ever the result of irritation, and always 
assumes an attitude antithetical to authority, 
whether the dogmas opposed be theological or 

Russia is by no means the only country of 
Europe in which mystical tendencies have given 
their color to intellectual life and religious move- 
ments. Spain had her mystical reaction after 
the crushing of constitutional and religious free- 
dom by Charles and his son Philip. Germany 
affords a still more conspicuous example in the 
mysticism of the " Sturm und Drang " period. 
A whole nation's longing for liberty, for full- 


ness of knowledge, for the lost simplicity and 
delights of childhood, were nowhere so well ex- 
pressed as in " Faust," that most mystical of all 
Goethe's literary work. By turns, or yielding 
to a common impulse, other countries than 
Spain and Germany also had their mystical 
periods. Yet there is a fundamental difference 
between the mysticism of Russia and that of 
western Europe. The former is chronic ; the 
latter acute. This, as we know it in literature, 
is long ago dead ; that was never more vital 
than it is to-day. West European mysticism 
may be called a phenomenon; Russian mysti- 
cism is essentially a growth. 

The first considerable appearance of mysticism 
in Russia took place simultaneously with the / 
development of dissent from the raskol. It was 
the peculiarity of the mystical sects of the 
eighteenth century that they found converts ex- 
clusively amongst the peasants, and sprang up 
in parts of the country separated from each other 
by great distances. Mystical dissent appeared 
not only in the southern provinces, but in Fin- 
land, in the Caucasus, at Moscow, Kaluga, even 
in Irkutsk and Kamschatka. These facts show 
— unless intellectual tendencies, like plant seeds, 
can be scattered by the wind — that Russian \ 
mysticism was a purely native growth, having 
no sort of relation or connection with the Ana- 



baptism or Quakerism of the west. Its most 
pronounced features seem to have found expres- 
sion in the Dukhobortsy sect, to which reference 
has already been made. The great mystic and 
leader of this body was Kapustin, who, proceed- 
ing from illumination to illumination, at last 
declared himself to be Christ, and was wor- 
shiped as such by his followers. Kapustin 
reasoned in this wise : " Has not Jesus said,  I 
shall remain with you till the end of time?' 
Thus from century to century, descending from 
generation to generation, the divine soul of 
Christ has resided in a succession of men in 
whom, during its temporary sojourn in the im- 
perfect body of a child of man, it has conserved 
the remembrance and consciousness of its divine 
extraction. During the first centuries of Chris- 
tianity this truth was known to all men. At 
first the man in whom the soul of Christ resided 
was the Pope, but there came false Popes. 
Christ has said, ' There shall be many called 
and few chosen.' " The chosen, according to 
Kapustin, were the Dukhobortsy. 

Such, indeed, was the mental tension out of 
which dissent arose in Russia that there is 
scarcely a sect in existence to-day in the dogmas 
of which mystical leanings are not discernible. 
The conditions of Russian life in the seven- 
teenth and eighteenth centuries had lain upon 



minds and hearts with so heavy a weight that 
the people were glad to fly for relief to the wild- 
est dreams, to the strangest faiths, to the most 
fantastic illusions which highly wrought relig- 
ious ingenuity could invent. The Tatar domi- 
nation was long over, but a new domination 
had arisen, more powerful and more relentless, 
of wider range, of deeper humiliation. The 
more centralized the state became, the heavier 
had grown the fiscal burdens of the people ; the 
greater the autocracy at the summit of national 
life, the greater the enslavement at its base. 
Nor was there any sufficing help for this state 
of things in the ministrations of the Greek 
Church. Minds that found it a source of light 
and life during the dark hours of the Mongol 
oppression now looked vainly for consolation to 
the national faith. Its assumption of authority, 
its alliance with the civil power, its Byzantine 
elements, all prepared it for the rashol. But 
it was the dreary, lifeless formalism of its wor- 
ship that sharpened the dissenter's longing for 
a freer and more vital spiritual activity than 
any that it could attain within the limits of au- 
thority and tradition. 

In religious soil Russian mysticism bore abun- 
dant fruit, and is active as an element of dissent 
to this day. We also see it in the " men of 
God " of the political propagandas and conspira*-^*^ 


cies of 1873. But it was destined to occupy a 
still wider field. Waiting on the new culture 
from Europe it gave its color to some of the 
earliest productions of the national literature. 
Scarcely a single Russian writer of note is alto- 
gether free from the wider tendencies of mysti- 
cism ; not a few have manifested the quality in a 
degree highly marked. Pushkin had an espe- 
cial fondness for the weird and spiritual elements 
of the national legends. Gogol, with a predilec- 
tion for the fantastic not less pronounced, be- 
came a confirmed mystic in his later years. The 
Russian painter, Ivanov, surrendered himself 
completely to religious mysticism. Some of the 
later works of the novelist Dostoyevsky, nota- 
bly " The Brothers Karamasov," are mystical 
to the point of saturation. That strange story, 
" Clara Milich," written by Turgeniev not very 
long before his death, is pure mysticism. It 
raises a singular issue, and decides it in the 
affirmative ; that is to say, Can love enter the 
living heart and influence the emotional nature 
after the object of it has been committed to the 
grave ? Another example is afforded by Count 
Leo Tolstoi, 1 the author of that much admired 
novel, " War and Peace " (Vaind i Mir), who 
quite recently, in a fit of religious exaltation, 

1 Not to be confounded with the late minister of Public Instruc- 
tion, Count Dmitri Andreyevich Tolstoi. 


pronounced his literary works idle and sinful. 
Destroying his poems, the Count began the com- 
position of a work on the teachings of Jesus 
Christ, with a lengthy introduction narrating 
his own religious experiences. On the comple- 
tion of the book it was " prohibited " by the 
Holy Synod, the result being that only a frag- 
ment of it has obtained circulation in Russia. 
The mystical element is strong throughout. 
The introduction 1 narrates the author's struggles 
to solve the problem of his own life, his despair 
and leaning to suicide, his final questioning of 
religion, and " illumination." 

The case of Count Tolstoi, in harmony with 
all available evidence on the subject, shows that 
the tendency to mysticism is one which invari- 
ably manifests itself late in life, or at any rate 
grows more pronounced with increasing years. 
This coincidence of the individual process with 
the racial and historic process is of itself evi- 
dence that neither in the one case nor in the 
other is the phenomenon any mere accident, but 
a part of the national life and a result of its 

It is, at the same time, true that a complex 
mental condition like mysticism can only have 
a limited field of activity and manifestation. 
The tendency really universal in Russia is to i 

1 Printed at length in the Obshcheyay Dyelo, No. 57. 


pessimism. This penetrates all spheres of 
thought, gives its hues to every coterie and 
school, creates resemblances between the most 
diverse productions of the pen, restores as with 
a bond of -gloom the shattered solidarity of so- 
ciety, and between human beings separated by* 
impassable gulfs of rank and position stretches 
a connecting lin^k of dreary despondency and 
common despair. Mysticism enters readily into 
composition with some elements ; with others 
it is uncompromisingly irreconcilable. Pessi- 
mism goes everywhere, combines with every- 
thing. Not to be pessimistic in Russia is to be 
divorced from all>contact and sympathy with 
the national life; to be cut' off, either by foreign 
birth or by some monstrous denial of nature, 
from the tree of the national development. AIL 
influences and epochs have contributed to the 
tendency. A monotonous landscape, the loss 
of free institutions, Byzantinism with its cruel 
law-giving and ascetic tyranny, the fiscal bur- 
dens of the new' state, the antitheses suggested 
by European culture, the crushing of the indi- 
vidual, the elimination from Russian life of all 
those healthy activities which^ engage citizen- 
ship in other countries, the harassing restric- 
tions upon thought and movements, the state- 
created frivolities of society, — all these have 
contributed to the gloom of the mental atmo-. 


sphere until today pessimism may be said to 
be the normal condition of all Russian thought. 
In religion it produced, as in the Zhivniye Po- 
koiniki sect, assertions of the evil of existence 
and the misfortune of birth. In literature it 
has given its tone to the finest efforts of the 
poet arid the novelist. The lives of Pushkin, 
Lermontov, Gogol, Dostoyevsky, and many 
others of Russia's greatest men were passed in 
a perpetual struggle with the pessimistic ten- 
dency. It was Lermontov who called life a 
" stupid, empty jest." When Pushkin had read 
a few pages of Gogol's " Dead Souls " he ex- 
claimed, " My God, how sad our Russia is ! " 
Herz en doubted whether it was possible for any 
Russian to be genuinely merry. He called the 
Russian laugh a ricanement maladif. Dostoyev- 
sky spoke of ideas themselves being in pain, 
like patients. 1 And Nekrassov, a true poet of 
the people, heard everywhere the voice of the 
national woe : — 

M Where moaneth not the Russian man? 
In the fields he groans and in the roads, • 
And in the mines, and on the railways; 

He groans in the telega, nightly journeying through the steppe, 
And in his own miserable little cottage." 

Or the Volga itself is made conscious of the 
ubiquitous pessimism : — 

"Volga, O Volga ! In spring many- watered ! 
What groan ascends from thee, great Russian river? 

1 In Byedniye Lyudi (Poor People). 


That groan we call it singing ; 
There burlaki the hawser pull- 
But, Volga, thou dost not the fields so inundate 
With thy broad waters as this people's sorrow, 
This might}' woe, fills all our Russian land." * 

" Russian sadness " — russky pechal, as Ne- 
krassov called it — invades all the inner life of 
the people. Yet it is singularly unobtrusive in 
social spheres. I know of no altruism more 
agreeable than this power which Russians have 
of separating themselves from the interests of 
their own individuality, in order that they may 
contribute gaiety and liveliness to the general 
enjoyment, — this < cheerful insouciance below 
which, sacrificed to the social exigencies of the 
moment, melancholy, sorrow, all depths of de- 
spair may lie hidden. It is this versatility that 
constitutes the chief charm of Russian society • 
But the Russian has his inner as well as his 
outer world, and between the two stretches 
a distance relatively immense. The outer is 
shown to strangers and acquaintances ; with 
the inner only Intimates and relatives come 
into contact. Hence the ease with which the 
Russian nature is misunderstood, or only inad- 
equately comprehended, by foreigners. Hence, 
also, the inevitable failure of all attempts to 
explore the Russian mind or the Russian coun- 
try, with only French or German for one's in- 

1 From Razmyshleniya u narodnova padyezda. 


Is it not the Russians rather than the Eng- 
lish who take their pleasures sadly ? Even in 
the village festivals, the liveliest of all Russian 
popular out-door enjoyments, there is a lack of 
earnest merry-making, a want of boisterous joy- 
fulness and abandon, almost a shrinking from 
relaxation and amusement, that leave a painful 
impression in the mind of the sensitive specta- 
tor. I never looked upon one of these festivals 
without thinking of the women who, as Herber- 
stein tells us, were permitted at certain times 
of the year, " as a special gratification," to meet 
each other outside Moscow " in a very pleasant 
meadow." The prohibitions of the "Domos- 
troi " linger about the gathering ; men and. 
women alike seem in doubt whether they have 
a right,' or can afford, to be happy; only the 
children can be said to enjoy themselves, for 
they represent the early period of Slav history, 
the time in which the people were the free arbi- 
ters of their own destinies. This half-fatalistic 
fear of happiness, or, let us say, of the mere 
phantom of it, somewhat in the spirit of the 
German lines, — 

"Oh, Freude, habe Acht! 
Sprich leise, 
Dass nicbt der Schmerz erwacht ! " 

is also noticed in the cities. On public holi- 
days, or days of so-called national rejoicing, the 


crowds which closed factories and places of 
business dismiss to the streets wear a gloomy 
and spiritless aspect utterly out of harmony 
with the idea of out-door enjoyment. On the 
other hand, rejoicings by ukaz, in celebration of 
events imperial rather than popular in their in- 
terest, call forth a most ludicrous half-hearted- 
ness on the part of those who participate in 

A full harvest of pessimism may be gathered 
by the quiet eye of a stroller through the pub- 
lic gardens of any of the large Russian cities. 
One of the finest of these resorts is the Lyay- 
tny Sad, or Summer Garden, in St. Peters- 
burg, — a spot of green that in warm weather 
daily attracts thousands of visitors, and remains 
full of music and pedestrians until long after 
midnight. Here the crowd is strangely sub- 
dued in its manner. Everybody seems ab- 
sorbed in his own reflections. Army officer, 
student, chinovnik, governess, all wear the same 
aspect of serious gravity. Couples pass along 
without seeming to converse ; before the or- 
chestra hundreds sit listening, or promenade 
through the allSe amid a silence unrelieved by 
a solitary laugh. Dress deepens the prevailing 
gloom, since it is characterized by a striking 
lack of color, most of the women being attired 
in black. A cemetery migEtfurnish more con- 


vincing proofs of the vanity of life, yet it could 
scarcely attract a crowd more mournful than 
that which goes its sad, mechanical rounds on 
summer nights in the Lyaytny Sad. 

There is also a noticeable pessimism in nearly 
all Russian music of a popular or national char- 
acter. A strange plaintiveness, increased by 
frequent resort to the minor key, is heard in 
countless songs of the people ; the effect is 
often so peculiar that it is difficult to express it 
even in notes. The saddest of these melodies 
are sung by students at their gatherings in the 
university towns ; the weirdest, perhaps, take 
the form of recitative and chorus, heard mostly 
among the peasants and common people of the 
country districts. And if Russian music is sad, 
Russian street cries are infinitely sadder. Any- 
thing so mournful as these I never heard. 
Hour after hour, day after day, with the win- 
dow of my apartment in the Troitsky Pereulok 
open upon the quadrangle below, have I lis- 
tened to the voice of the vender. Sometimes 
it was a youth, but oftener a man or an old 
woman, and always the impression has been the 
same. It was a cry, and yet it seemed a song. 
And such a song ! Heart-piercing it was, and 
sank into one's soul. It was a 'shriek of pain, 
an exclamation of anguish, a wail of despair. 
It had a life independent of the singer. The 


vender might go with his basket of wares and 
return no more, but the lamentation was always 
rising, and remained ever the same. No single 
human being, however miserable, I used to 
think, could have composed it ; nor was it the 
product of any guild, or locality, or even epoch. 
To me it seemed the rhythmic utterance of cen- 
turies of suffering. I saw in it, I heard in it, 
only the accumulated burden of the people's 
"woe condensed into a single cry of anguish, 
and that cry committed to the keeping of the 
wretched and the miserable for all time. 


The despotism of Nicholas ushered in a new 
era for the revolt. The movement widened and 
deepened. From being the affair of a mere 
coterie, it began to occupy all classes of edu- 
cated society. It rose to the dignity of parties. 
It brought the Liberal, the Nihilist, the Social- 
ist, the Revolutionist, the Terrorist, one after 
another, into the arena. Its newspapers ap- 
peared and were circulated through Russia in 
tens of thousands. It established its Vehmge- 
richt ; it carried on its propagandas ; it com- 
passed against absolutism the most deadly 
assaults known in the history of political con- 
spiracy. That three decades should have suf- 
ficed for the maturing of a movement so terrible 
in its methods, so inexhaustible in its resources, 
so indomitable in its spirit, — should, moreover, 
have witnessed its triumph over all the repres- 
sive means which Asian and European civiliza- 
tion could array against it, — shows abundantly 
that the country was already ripe for the out- 
break when Nicholas called it into being. 




Individualism opened the new period with a 
bitter and cynical reaction against the moral 
and social obligations. It aimed at being a law 
to itself. It repudiated all dogma and tradi- 
tion. In the religious domain it championed 
materialism ; to morals it gave a utilitarian ba- 
sis ; social standards it rejected outright. It 
was a gospel of pure negation in which, while 
men sought freedom for their individuality, 
women thronged to the schools and universities 
in quest of the means of independence. Much 
has been said to show that at first this nihilistic 
movement had no political character, and yet 
all its protests were aimed at the principles and 
traditions which lay at the foundation of the 
Russian state. At bottom it was the same re- 
volt against authority as that of the dissenters 
in the days of Nikon. And from a negation of 
moral, religious, and philosophical principles it 
rapidly progressed to the negation of dogmas 
in politics. 

Socialistic doctrines had already gained a 
footing in Russia when the young adherents of 
Slavophilism met to discuss philosophy in Mos- 
cow. The interest awakened in the writings of 
Louis Blanc, Proudhon, St. Simon, Owen, and 
Fourier led in time to the formation of certain 
associations, the members of which met to dis- 
cuss passing events and literary productions. 


Some of these societies gradually assumed a po- 
litical character, giving birth to what is known 
as the Petrashevsky conspiracy ; but on the 
breaking up of that organizatiop in 1848 by the 
police, most of the associations collapsed. 

For a few years longer Nicholas maintained 
the iron system which is associated with his 
name, and then it fell, and great was the fall 
thereof.' The year in which Alexander II. suc- 
ceeded to the throne brought new champions to 
the side of the revolt. At home Chernishevsky 
preached political economy and a £uarded*form 
of socialism in the " Sovremennik ; " abroad, 
Herzen, from his printing-press in London, thun- 
dered against the vices of Russian absolutism. 
The new emperor himself posed as a reformer. 
His address to the people at the close of the 
Crimean War excited the wildest hopes. A 
national springtime seemed at hand. The fet- 
ters fell from the press. Thought was set free. 
Everybody hastened to declare himself a Lib- 
eral. Such was the fever of the time, such 
the relief from the nightmare of the previous 
regime, that even immature youths in the ed- 
ucational establishments felt themselves moved 
to prepare new schemes of reform. 1 
^ That a reaction of disappointment would fol- 
low was inevitable. The reforms which were 

1 Mentioned bv Eckardt. 


in everybody's head had no place in the schemes 
. of the emperor himself. It soon became clear 
that there would be no radical concession to the 
revolt. The authorities even undertook to re- 
strict discussion of the changes decided upon. 
The marshal of nobles in the government of 
Tver was exiled for having permitted a debate 
on the subject. Finally came the act of 1861. 
The serfs, who had been attached to the glebe 
in the interests of the state, were now, alike in 
the interests of the state, invested with the 
rights of free cultivators, it having been found, 
as M. Rambaud justly observes, " that a people 
in which the majority of the agricultural classes 
was subjected to serfage could not rival the 
European nations in intellectual, scientific, or 
industrial progress." 

But the act of 1861, however desirable, neces- 
sary, or inevitable, did not wholly satisfy the 
peasants, 1 Vor did it, even supplemented by the 
judicial and administrative reforms which fol- 
lowed, meet the highest wishes of the country. 
It was so far from being a concession to the re- 
volt that its immediate effect was to intensify 
the movement against absolutism. The reac- 
tionary steps which followed added fuel to the 

v; J/ A hundred of the protesting serfs, the reader will remember, 
were forcibly emancipated by one of Alexander's officers, General 
Apraxin. He shot them. 


flames. The government at first confined itself 
to harassing the student classes by withdraw- 
ing from them the right of assembly and asso- 
ciation. The outbreaks which followed were 
repressed with characteristic severity. In the 
same year a secret society, composed of army 
officers, issued an address to the emperor de- 
manding for Russia constitutional government, 
for Poland complete freedom and self-rule. The 
nobles also began to agitate for a share in polit- 
ical power. In 1862 the authorities closed all 
the clubs and reading circles known to be in 
the service of the revolt. Amongst the insti- 
tutions thus attacked were a large number of 
Sunday-schools in which the propaganda had 
been carried on. The " Sovremennik " was 
suspended, and Chernishev sky * thrown into 

Thereupon followed the Polish insurrection 
of 1863. As the smoke of that outbreak cleared 
away new methods and machinery of aggression 
were seen to be in possession of the revolt. A 
number of clubs had sprung up in various parts 
of the country, ostensibly for educational and 
philanthropic purposes, but really to facilitate 
propaganda. Amongst these were the Pensa 

1 "Pardoned " in 1883, and permitted to return to Europe after 
nineteen years of exile in Siberia. At present in Astrakhan, un- 
der close police surveillance, practically a prisoner. 


Club, founded in 1861, and the Zemlya i Volya 
(Land and Liberty) organization, established a 
year later. Simultaneously with the club move- 
ment came a systematic distribution of contra- 
band literature, smuggled across the frontier by 
Sergei Kovalek and others, amongst artisans 
in the towns and peasants in the country dis- 
tricts. The personal work of the propaganda 
was mainly carried on by Ishutin Khudyakov, 
Prince Cherkesov, Karakasov, Yurassov, and 

For three years the revolt gave no other 
sign. Then a bolt fell from the blue. On the 
4th (16th) of April, 1866, Karakasov, as dele- 
gate of one of the clubs, fired at the emperor as 
the latter was leaving the Summer Garden on 
the Neva side. The attempt failed. The rep- 
resentative of absolutism owed his life to the 
promptitude of a peasant. Yet the conspiracy 
had an immediate and important effect upon 
the general agitation. It has always been the 
lot of the revolt to profit by its own excesses, 
and so the effect of J£arakasov's shot was genu- 
inely cumulative; (, The government entered 
upon a policy of reaction that not only drove 
many outsiders into the movement who would 
otherwise have remained aloof from it, but gave 
the theoretical nihilism of the time a turn that 
was to bear serious fruit at no distant date. 


An imperial rescript declared order, property, 
and religion imperiled, — though the real danger 
was the danger to absolutism, — and Count Tols- 
toi, called to the Ministry of Public Instruction, 
at once devised and carried into effect a scheme 
for harassing the youth of the schools and uni- 
versities. Three years later the Nechayev con- 
spiracy was organized. Its leading spirit, with 
the help of funds obtained in Geneva, aimed at 
a general rising of an anarchical character. 
For a time the preparations went forward with- 
out interference, but on Nechayev using his in- 
fluence to procure the murder of a conspirator 
deemed " unsafe," the police broke up the or- 
ganization, and out of three hundred participa- 
tors, a number were punished, including Ne- 
chayev 1 himself. 

The revolt now drifted into a new policy. Of 
the puerilities of mere negation every one had 
grown heartily tired. A practical activity was 
needed, of which the results should be positive 
and substantial. Hitherto the agitation had 
been mainly confined to the towns. Gradu- 
ally the conviction came that the country at 
large must be invited to take part in the under- 
mining of absolutism. What could a handful 
of conspirators, however energetic, hope to ac- 

1 Sentenced in 1872 to hard labor in the mines, but said to be 
still confined in the Alexeyev Ravelin at St. Petersburg. 



complish against a principle supported by the 
loyalty of fifty millions of peasants ? On the 
other hand, everything was to be hoped from 
the sympathies and participation of the people. 
In this way and under the stimulus given to it 
by the secret press, now driven abroad, but there 
powerfully inspired by Bakunin and Lavrov, 
the revolt entered upon its socialistic phase. 
Thereupon began a movement which, whether 
one regards its character, the aims which in- 
spired it, the forces which it commanded, and 
the sacrifices it involved, or the cruel disap- 
pointment in which it ended, must be pro- 
nounced to have no parallel in history, and to 
have been only possible to the Russian country 
and the Russian people. No sooner had the 
word gone forth that the people were to be 
prepared and enlightened for outbreak than 
hundreds of volunteers offered themselves for 
the work of propaganda.^ Young people of both 
sexes forsook the parental roof, or left their 
studies at school and university, to hasten by 
every road and highway and river with their 
message of enlightenment and revolt to the 
country districts. In order to win over the peo- 
ple and make the task of tuition all the easier, 
many of these enthusiasts put on peasants' 
attire, gave a blowzed appearance to their faces 
by rubbing them with grease, or steeped their 


hands in brine until they became as rough and 
hard as those of the muzhik himself. 

Young men who had been delicately brought 
up learned the trade of the blacksmith, the 
carpenter, the shoemaker, or the locksmith, in 
order to come more immediately into contact 
with the artisan classes ; young women of the 
best families worked in the factories like com- 
mon peasants, or took a share as agriculturists 
in the labors of the field. Sometimes the prop- 
agandist would be a tutor in a nobleman's 
family, or a governess engaged to teach lan- 
guages in the house of a land-owner, or even 
a woman doctor, winning friends for the cause 
in the guise of an accoucheuse. 

The activity of these apostles of the revolt 
was twofold. On the one hand, the peasants 
and artisans were stirred up to discontent by 
vivd voce statements of the people's wrongs ; on 
the other, they were approached by means of 
an enormous flying literature of propaganda 
that took all shapes in which it was likely to 
appeal to the agricultural and laboring classes. 
Schools for the propaganda in the guise of 
workshops were founded in St. Petersburg, 
where Prince Krapotkin frequently gave lec- 
tures to the artisans in socialism. The propa- 
ganda possessed similar machinery in Moscow. 
In the government of Novgorod, Sophie Lesch- 


ern von Herzfeld, daughter of an army gen- 
eral, started a village school and "there gave 
instruction to the peasants in the principles of 
the revolt. A smithy in the government of 
Tver, kept by the peasant Paul Grigoryev, 
served as a place of propaganda for a large dis- 
trict. Centres for the movement were also 
formed by workshops in Yaroslavl and Saratov ; 
by a gun factory in Tambov ; schools in Cherni- 
gov and Kamenny-Podolsk ; a farm in Kovno ; 
and clubs in Pensa, Kasan, Ufa, Orenburg, 
Nizhni - Novgorod, Kharkov, Yekaterinoslav, 
Poltava, and Kiev. The agitation was car- 
ried into every government west of the Ural 
range. The propagandists are said to have 
numbered several thousands in all. Amongst 
them were Enduarov, the rich proprietor and 
justice of the peace, of the government of 
Pensa ; the wife of Golushev, chief of gen- 
darmes at Orenburg ; Dukhovsky, professor at 
the Yaroslavl Lyceum ; Kotelev, president of 
the government administration in Vyatka ; Por- 
tugalov, the writer ; Sophie Subbotina, a rich 
land-owner ; Sophie Perovskaya, daughter of 
the General Governor of St. Petersburg, and 
niece of the Minister of Public Instruction. 

Some of the propagandists sacrificed their 
whole fortune to the cause, like Yermolov, who 
maintained several student comrades until the 


time was ripe for " going to the people," or like 
Voinaralsky, a justice of the peace, who spent 
40,000 rubles in furthering the agitation. All 
suffered the greatest hardships. Yet despite 
the enthusiasm, the self-sacrifice, the energy 
expeficled upon it, the movement proved a fail- 
ure. Success was impossible. The people were 
not ripe enough for a revolution. The propa- 
gandists were not mature or experienced enough 
to prepare one. With a simple faith even 
more credulous than that of the peasants whom 
they hoped to convince, they neglected the 
commonest precautions, scarcely concealed their 
movements from the police, in some cases al- 
lowed- their mission to become matter of public 
notoriety. The authorities took early action 
against the propaganda. Hundreds were ar- 
rested and thrown into prison. ( In two years 
the " pilgrimage to the people " movement of 
1872-74 was practically at an end*-**' 

The next phase of the agitation was to have 
a strongly revolutionary character. Tired of 
preaching doctrines which the peasant found it 
difficult to understand, but above all disap- 
pointed at the smallness of the harvest reaped 
from so much dev6tion, the friends of the revolt 
now applied their energies to the fomenting of 
outbreaks. A " settled " agitation took the 
place of the wandering propaganda amongst the 


people. Agents of the revolt established them- 
selves in small towns, villages, and hamlets, and 
thence proceeded to excite the population against 
the authorities. For the purposes of agitation 
amongst the artisan class, unions and associa- 
tions, with revolutionary aims, were formed in 
St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, Odessa, .and other 
centres v The boldest of all these new. propa- 
gandists was Jacob Vassilyev Stepn^anovich, 
who in 1876 organized a conspiracy in Chigirin, 
government of Kiev^that had over a thousand 
participators, embracing the male population 
of about thirty villages. A day had been fixed 
for the rising, but the police, informed of the 
project through the incautiousness of the con- 
spirators themselves, broke up the organization 
before it could mature its plans, and lodged 
nine hundred of the peasants concerned in 
prison. In the spring of 1877 the members of 
a revolutionary society called the " Narodniki " 
(Party of the People) " went to the people," 
establishing a large number of propaganda cen- 
tres along the line of the Volga. 

But the most terrible epoch of the revolt was 
yet to come. The general hopelessness of the 
prospect, the cruel severity of the government 
reprisals, the failure of all milder measures to 
ameliorate the situation, drove the parties of the 
revolution to extremes. In 1878-79 the revolt 


entered its terroristic period. Already in Sep- 
tember, 1876, Gorinovich, the spy, had been shot 
by Leiba Deutsch in Odessa. In the same 
month Tavleyev, also a spy, fell the victim of 
the conspirators whom he had betrayed. Fiso- 
genov, a St. Petersburg spy, was murdered in 
the following year. Early in 1878 the notori- 
ous Yyera Sassulich shot and wounded General 
Trepov, police prefect of St. Petersburg, for his 
cruel treatment of a prisoner, the student Bogo- 
lyubov. The sixteen-year old heroine of tfhis 
episode became ihe object of a universal sympa- 
thy. Vyera was acquitted by a jury, and, 
aided in her escape from " administrative pro- 
cedure " by a street crowd, reached Switzerland 
in safety. Early in 1878 four spies were shot : 
Nikonov in Rostov, Fetissov at Odessa, and in 
Moscow Rosenzweig and Reinstein. Sembrand- 
sky, of Kiev, who wore a coat of mail, escaped, 
but afterwards took his own life. In the same 
year an attempt to take the life of an obnoxious 
court official named Kotlyarevsky in Kiev re- 
sulted in failure. Baron Heyking, chief of the 
Kiev gendarmerie, fell in the street, stabbed to 
the heart. 

The repressive measures of the government 
had been growing in severity. The slightest 
offenses against absolutism were met with the 
most disproportionate punishments. For an in- 


significant disturbance in Kiev, one hundred and 
fifty students were dismissed from the university 
and thirty banished to a northern province. 
The courts had grown vindictive and partisan. 
The law of trial by jury was daily ignored. Pris- 
oners acquitted by the ordinary processes were 
systematically brought under administrative 
procedure and banished or imprisoned afresh 
without trial. The spy and denunciation system 
had become intolerable. The crusade against the 
revolt was carried on by a secret and unscrupu- 
lous organization of police, known as the Third 
Section. Prison life was unendurable. Revolts 
broke out in the Fortress of Peter and Paul at St. 
^Petersburg and in the central prison at Kharkov. 
/ So J?adly were the prisoners fed in these places 
^thati numbers of them refused to partake of nour- 
ishment until a more humane treatment had 
been introduced ; some resolved to die of starva- 
tion, others had food forced down their throats. 
Cumulative irritations like these worked minds 
up to a pitch of frenzy/ On the 2d (14th) of 
August, 1878, Kavalsky was shot at Odessa by 
order of a military tribunal. Two days later, 
in retaliation, General Mesentsev, chief of the 
Third Section, was stabbed to death in the Nev- 
sky Prospect in full daylight. The reply of the 
government was to hand over all political crimes 
of violence to a military tribunal, to strengthen 


the spy and repressive system, and to appeal to 
society for aid and sympathy. A few months 
after the murder of Mesentsev, the police broke 
up the Zemlya i Volya Society. It was promptly 
reorganized. Student demonstrations followed 
in several of the university towns. The pro 
vincial assemblies began to talk Liberalism. 
Otherwise, society seemed bound hand and foot. 
Fear of the spy chilled conversation in the most 
harmless gatherings. General Drenteln, suc- 
ceeding Mesentsev, cast nearly two thousand 
persons into prison in St. Petersburg alone. 1 In 
February, 1879, Prince Krapotkin, governor of 
Kharkov, was shot by Goldenberg for ill treat- 
ing prisoners under his care. Two months later, 
on the 2d (14th) of April, 1879, came Soloviev's 
attempt on the life of the emperor. The would- 
be assassin fired five shots at the Tsar, but none 

of them took effect. Absolutism now fullv 


awakened to its danger. The country was di- 
vided into six divisions, and a general governor, 
armed with extraordinary powers, detailed to 
each. The _pass system was enforced with new 
rigors. In St. Petersburg, General Gurko con- 
verted the dvorniki, or house porters, into a 
body of spies charged with regular police duty. 

1 An attack upon Drenteln precipitated the abolition of the 
"Third Section," but that organization was speedily reestablished 
under another name. 


The reply of the revolt was characteristic. In, 
the summer of 1879 a congress of socialists, rev- 
olutionists, and terrorists met at Voronezh, 
and there a terroristic activity was formally 
resolved upon. The terrible " Executive Com- 
mittee" came into existence. Early in August 
sentence of death was passed upon the Tsar. 
The conspirators were thoroughly in earnest. 
Three mines were laid in anticipation of the 
emperor's return journey from the Crimea : 
one at Moscow, the second at Odessa, and an- 
other in Alexandrovsk. All the attempts failed. 
The Moscow explosion, which had been care- 
fully prepared by Hartmann, Sophie Per6vskaya, 
Goldenberg, and others, occurred prematurely. 
The scene of action was then transferred to St. 
Petersburg. Khalturin, obtaining service in 
the Winter Palace as decorator, stored dynamite 
beneath the dining-hall ; the explosion thus 
prepared took place on the 5th (17th) of Feb- 
ruary, 1880. Ten men of the watch were killed 
and fifty-three wounded. The emperor, de- 
layed in going to table, had again escaped. In 
a proclamation which followed the Executive 
Committee expressed regret at the death of in- 
nocent soldiers, but declared the determination 
of the instigators to continue their struggle un- 
til they had won a constitutional form of gov- 
ernment for the country. The party of the 


"People's Will" had, in the mean time, come 
into existence. In 1880 a new and formidable 
organization, with the Executive Committee at 
its head, arose to carry into effect the sentence 
passed at Voronezh. It was a system of inde- 
pendent decentralized circles, destructible as 
single entities, but collectively invulnerable : 
forming a chain of influences without visible 
connecting links ; offering to members the max- 
imum of scope for enterprise with the mini- 
mum of danger; worked by conspirators un- 
known to each other ; and wielded by officially 
invisible leaders empowered to visit disobedi- 
ence with the punishment of death. Early 
in the year 1881 the preparations were com- 
pleted. The emperor was to return from a re- 
view dinner on the 1st (13th) of March, 1881. 
He had the choice of three routes ; one over 
the " Stone Bridge," another through the Ma- 
laya Sadovaya (Little Garden) Street, a third 
along the Yekaterinsky Canal. The bridge and 
the street were mined. The Tsar returned by 
the canal. To the conspirators in waiting So- 
phie Perovskaya gave the signal by waving 
her handkerchief. Ryssakov's bomb shattered 
the imperial carriage; the bomb thrown by 
Grinevsky killed the emperor. 

A month later Zheliabov, Perovskaya, Kibal- 
shchich, Michailov, and Ryssakov suffered the 



penalty of death. The actual assassin, Grinev- 
sky, had been killed by the explosion. Upon 
Hesse Helfmann the capital sentence was not 
carried out. A reign of terror followed the 
-event 6f the 13th of March. The coronation of 
Alexander III. had to be put off for two years, 
the new emperor temporarily retreating for 
greater safety to Gatchina. The terrorists in the 
mean time continued their deadly activity. In 
March, 1882, Strelnikov, military procureur of 
..Odessa, was fired at and killed. Late in Decem- 
ber, 1883, Colonel Sudeikin, a zealous and not 
over-scrupulous police agent, fell assassinated in 
the Nevsky Prospect. During the past eighteen 
months numerous conspiracies, some of them 
aiming at regicide, have been brought to light. 
At the time of writing, an extensive propaganda 
has the army for its sphere of operation ; agra- 
rian outbreaks and risings are also being fo- 
mented in the south and west. 

During the last thirty years there have been 
one hundred and thirty-five political prosecu- 
tions in Russia, involving the arrest and punish- 
ment of 1356 persons. Of these a very large 
number were sentenced to hard labor in the 
mines or banished for life to Siberia. Forty- 
five of the accused were either shot or hung: 
five in the reign of Nicholas, thirty-one under 
Alexander II., and nine in the reign of the 


present emperor. During the same period about 
fifty political prisoners met their death by vio- 
lence in the gaols, or while serving a sentence of 
banishment. Between 1878 and 1882 the po- 
lice shot eighV persons during demonstrations, 
arrests, etc. Three others took their own lives 
in order to avoid falling into the hands of the au- 
thorities. The number of persons thrown^ into 
prison or banished without preliminary trial, 
under the so-called " administrative procedure," 
is very large, but cannot be stated with any de- 
gree of certainty. During the past twenty 
years about two hundred persons fled from pris- 
ons or places of banishment ; most of them suc- 
ceeded in reaching western Europe. l 

2 For a mass of information concerning the dynamic phases of 
the revolt, see the Calendar of the People's Will (in Russian). 
For readers of German, Professor Thun's Geschichte der revolu- 
tionaren Beweyungen in Russland will be found useful. 


Thus far the reader has looked merely upon 
the external features of the dynamic protest 
against absolutism in Russia. The revolt had 
an inner, psychological side, best shown, per- 
haps, by a glance at the personalities engaged 
in it. These may be divided into two classes. 
/The first includes what I shall call the literary 
forces of the revolt ; to the second belong its 
dynamic activities. The former category will 
be described in a single illustration. Instead 
of again going over the partly-told story of 
the career of Herzen, who spent most of his 
life abroad ; or of giving an account of Baku- 
nin, who was an international rather than a 
Russian agitator, I shall direct the reader's 
attention to the litterateur of the revolt, par 
excellence, Chernishevsky, a man of the people, 
who labored for his countrymen on the soil frorn 
which they sprang, and whose memory is in- 
dissolubly linked with predecessors in common 
with whom he spent the best years of his life in 
that grave of Russian genius, Siberia. 


Nikolai Gavrilovich Chernishevsky was born 
at Saratov in the year 1829. His father, a 
priest at the local cathedral, was a man of intel- 
lectual gifts, remarkable for his honesty and 
uprightness, an affectionate parent, and a warm 
friend. The boy received his preliminary edu- 
cation at the Saratov Ecclesiastical Seminary, 
and was thence transferred to the university 
of St. Petersburg, where, a student in its Phil- 
ological Faculty, he applied himself with great 
ardor and success to the acquirement of the 
Latin, Greek, and Slavic tongues. Later, he 
gave his attention to socialistic science, in 
which field his great receptivity, singular per- 
severance, and superior memory quickly ranked 
him as an authority even amongst specialists. 
Chernishevsky completed his university course 
in 1850, and thereupon became professor of 
literature to the first corps of cadets. This 
post he gave up after the lapse of a year in re- 
sponse to the urgent entreaties of his mother, 
who had a strong affection for her son and de- 
sired his presence in Saratov. Once more in his 
native town Chernishevsky became a teacher 
in the local gymnasium. He occupied in his 
father's house an apartment looking out on the 
Volga ; here he received his friends, and gath- 
ered round him a circle of young people who 
became both his pupils and his admirers. He 


married in 1853, the same year in which his 
mother died. Returning to St. Petersburg with 
his wife, Nikolai Gavrilovich found himself in 
the capital without a copek. Happily for both, 
his courage did not desert him. His first effort 
to keep the wolf from the door resulted in a feat 
which only a Russian would have attempted, 
and probably only a Russian could have accom- 
plished. Driven to translation, this born lin- 
guist acquired sufficient English in two months 
to be able at the end of that space of time to 
begin publication in the "Annals of the Fa- 
therland " of a Russian version of a novel issued 
in London. From mere hack work he soon rose 
to the position of essay writer and critic, later 
winning renown by a brilliant dissertation on 
" The aesthetic relation of art to reality." It 
was this effort which led to Chernishevsky's ap- 
pointment as collaborateur on the staff of the lib- 
eral review, " Sovremennik " (Contemporary), 
— a position which, affording as it did the full- 
est scope for the critic's rare intellectual gifts, 
gave Nikolai Gavrilovich the opportunity for 
which he had long been waiting. Nothing 
could excel the tact and ability with which he 
now applied himself to the task of popularizing 
the new ideas. Essay after essay issued from 
his pen, each full of the rich results of Western 
economical science. The views of Malthus and 


the teachings of John Stuart Mill he made al- 
most as familiar to his countrymen as they were 
to English readers of the time ; his papers on 
agriculture and land-holding in Russia were of 
especial value and interest. By all classes his 
writings were eagerly and widely read, and as 
a natural consequence they began to attract the 
attention of the government. " At that time," 
said Chernishevsky to the writer, in Astrakhan, 
more than twenty years afterwards, " 1 was 
not more — if it be permitted to compare a 
small man with great ones — than a sort of Rus- 
sian Cobden or Bright. I did not, moreover, 
always express my own ideas. I had to do a 
good deal of hack work in literature, and my 
position compelled me to live by my pen." 
Modest as was this ambition, it was too much 
for the Russia of those days. A charge was 
trumped up against Chernishevsky of having, 
amongst other things, prepared a proclamation 
calling upon the peasants of the crown to re- 
volt ; and upon evidence very unreliable and in- 
adequate, this promising litterateur was first 
imprisoned in St. Petersburg for two years, and 
then sentenced to fourteen years' hard labor in 
Siberia, with subsequent banishment for life as 
a colonist. Such was the cost of trying to be a 
Cobden or a Bright in Russia ! Yet Cherni- 
shevsky did not lose heart. It was the lot of 


this remarkable man to exert his influence over 
minds in Russia under conditions which would 
have made the career of his English models 
well-nigh impossible. They possessed constitu- 
tional means of agitating ; Chernishevsky had 
none. Bright and Cobden had public plat- 
forms from which to speak openly to the peo- 
ple ; Chernishevsky could not talk freely in the 
circle of his own intimate friends without ap- 
prehension of giving offense to the government 
through the ears, of the ubiquitous police spy. 
Everything 7 and every one seemed to conspire 
against Chernishevsky becoming a power. It 
was he who had to give painful birth to his 
socialistic doctrines under the very eye of the 
censor, he who was compelled to produce his 
chef d'ceuvre not in a gilded saloon of the 
Nevsky Prospect, but in the cheerless seclusion 
of a St. Petersburg prison. Yet the man 
wielded an influence widespread and extraordi- 
nary. Scarcely had he been cast into prison be- 
fore he began the composition of a work which 
was destined to add enormously to the number 
of his followers. It was the famous romance 
" What 's to be done ? " The success of this 
book — tediously prolix and inartistic as a lit- 
erary composition — was mainly due to its so- 
cialism, its idealistic views of life, and its hints 
rather than schemes for the reorganization of 


labor and of society. Written anonymously for 
the "Contemporary," artfully constructed to 
evade condemnation by the censor, and suggest- 
ing much to be read between the lines, the 
novel achieved a fair reputation in the periodi- 
cal press before its real tendencies were discov- 
ered. Prohibition came at last, and insured, as 
it usually does in Russia, the complete success 
of the thing prohibited. Since then, public taste 
has gone far ahead of "What 's to be dbne^? " 
yet the censor cannot even in 1885- find in his 
heart to "permit" the volume, even as a lit- 
erary curiosity. 

At last Chernishevsky was taken from his 
cell in the Fortress of Peter and Paul at St. 
Petersburg, and transferred to the place of his 
exile and hard labor. For nineteen years he dis- 
appeared from Europe and from civilization. 
What were his thoughts during that long pe- 
riod ? How he suffered and in what way, who 
can tell ? From 1864 to 1871 he was kept at a 
station in the Zabaikal province, Eastern Sibe- 
ria; from 1871 to 1883 he was detained at 
Viluisk, a town on the river Vilui, not far from 
Yakutsk. On one occasion an attempt was 
made to rescue him, but Chernishevsky could 
not be roused from the lethargic despair into 
which he had fallen. The government allowed 
nothing to transpire concerning their prisoner ; 


in the end, the exile became a mystery, and the 
source of all kinds of rumors. In 1880 literary 
Europe heard of his death; in 1881 Herr Ul- 
bach asked the Vienna Literary Congress to pe- 
tition the late Tsar for the man's release ; just 
before the death of Alexander II. the St. Pe- 
tersburg journal u Strana " received a first warn- 
ing for having called upon the government to 
allow Chernishevsky's return to Europe. 

In the autumn of 1883, to the surprise of all, 
Chernishevsky was transferred from Siberia to 
Astrakhan by virtue of an imperial pardon, 
forming one of the "concessions " of the Coro- 
nation Manifesto. Being in Astrakhan by a 
mere coincidence when he entered Europe, I 
was the finSt European, not a Russian or a gov- 
ernment official, to see him on his return. At 
first he seemed to me broad-shouldered, strong- 
limbed and active, looking at fifty-five fully ten 
years younger. A second glance showed him 
to be nervously restless in his manner, in a 
state bordering on mental prostration, a com- 
plete myope. He received me warmly, and 
we conversed together for more than an hour. 
What he told me of his experiences in exile 
has already been published ; 1 there are other 
and special reasons why I do not repeat it here. 
The story may have been reliable enough, so 

i Daily Neibs, December 22, 1883. 


far as it went, yet the fact that it was told 
"in the toils" — at Astrakhan rather than at 
Paris or London — deprives it of historic value. 
Nineteen years' experience of Russian exile 
poorly qualifies a man of shattered nerves and 
impaired physical health for any formidable in- 
dictment of a government upon whose " clem- 
ency " he depends not only for the smallest 
comforts of life, but for the right to exist itself. 
And when such a man has courage enough to 
admit that he was once put into chains, — 
" against the wishes of the government," — the 
reader may easily fill up the gaps of a narra- 
tive like that told to me. Such, then, was our 
interview. I have already indicated the short- 
ness of its duration. Disturbed by the con- 
stant trepidations of the ex-exile's faithful wife, 
watched over from without by that body of 
spies who still hold Chernishevsky, "pardoned" 
by the Russian government, the prisoner of the 
Russian police, we at last decided to separate. 
Before taking leave of me Chernishevsky placed 
in my hand a small volume, in a blank page of 
which he had linked out names with the words, 
" In memory of our acquaintance, Astrakhan, 
1883." On our rising to say good-by, Madame 
Chernishevsky entered the room, and with a 
hasty movement of solicitude threw her arms 
around her husband, as if to shield him from 


some impending peril, — tears the meanwhile 
choking her utterance. He gently unclasped 
her hands, stroked her forehead caressingly, 
and having uttered a few words of affectionate 
consolation, kissed: her. "She is so afraid!" 
said Chernishevsky in explanation. Then I 
took my departure. 

Let us now glance at the organizers and con- 
spirators of the revolt; in its dynamic period. 
Of these nonq was more remarkable than So- 
phie Lvovna I^erovskaya, who belonged to one 
of the most aristocratic iamilies in Russia. One 
of her ancestors was the morganatic husband of 
the' Empress Elizabeth Petrovna. Her grand- 
father was Minister of Public Instruction ; her 
father, General Governor of St. Petersburg. 
Sophie Lvovna was born in the capital in the 
year 1854. Strongly attached to her mother, 
who loved her much in return, she had a pe- 
culiar aversion for her father, who is described 
as a chinovnik, full of the pettiness and self- 
seeking of his class. Her education began at 
the age of eight and continued for six years. 
In 1869 the family returned to St. Peters- 
burg from the Crimea. She at once entered 
the women's class of a gymnasium, and there 
formed the acquaintance of Sophie Loschern, 
Kornilova, and others, all of whom afterwards 
took part in the propaganda. On her father 


forbidding the visits of these acquaintances » 
Sophie Lvovna left home never to ieturn. 
Eager for knowledge, she next joined the Chai- 
kovtsy Society, — at first a literary, afterwards 
a political organization, — and began an earnest 
study of social and political questions. While 
qualifying herself as a school-teacher, she be- 
came acquainted with the writings of Cherni- 
shevsky and Dobrolyubov ; for the famous 
" Shty Dyelat ? " (What 's to be donej) of the 
former, she entertained^ ail enthusiastic admira- 
tion. Prepared at last for *< going to the peo- 
ple," she set out on her pilgrimage, traversing 
the whole course of the Lower Volga in pursu- 
ance of her mission. Hardships under which 
a peasant woman would have sunk, she bore 
with the greatest resolution, even cheerfulness. 
Her food was mostly milk and roots ; her bed 
rarely anything more than a sack filled with 
straw. In 1872 she had reached Kama, near 
the Ural range, and was wandering from vil- 
lage to village, endeavoring to awaken the peo- 
ple to a knowledge of their lot. We next see 
her in Tver, aiding the cause of the revolt as a 
school-teacher. Late in 1873 she returned to 
St. Petersburg. Her arrest followed, but after 
a year spent in prison she was set at liberty 
owing to want of evidence. For three years 
she remained under police surveillance. This 


space of time she utilized in acquiring a knowl- 
edge of the healing art ; her diploma was ob- 
tained after a regular course at a medical school 
in Simpheropol. In 1877 the members of the 
ChaikoY-tsy- Society, to the number of one hun- 
dred and ninety-three, found themselves in the 
hands of the police, charged with political con- 
spiracy. After a long trial the jury set So- 
phie Lvovna at liberty, but the authorities ban- 
ished her " administratively " to the northern 
government of Olonets. On the way thither 
she escaped from her guards, concealed herself 
for six hours in a wood, and then made her 
way back to St. Petersburg. Soon afterwards 
she took part, as leader, in various attempts to 
rescue conspirators by force from the custody 
of the police. At Kharkov she headed a band 
disguised as gendarmes. In 1879 she actively 
assisted in preparing the famous mine at Mos- 
cow. Later she helped to organize the " Nar- 
odnaya Volya " (People's Will) party. Her last 
act as a conspirator was to give the signal for 
the assassination of Alexander II. 

Sophie Lvovna's personality has been de- 
scribed at great length. With an extraordinary 
capacity for conspiracy and organization, she 
remained a woman, yet was in some respects a 
mere child. - At twenty-six she looked not more 
than eighteen. Her features were strikingly 


open, her face oval, her forehead singularly 
high. The eyes were blue and the complexion 
blonde. To many, her whole aspect was that of 
personified youth. She laughed heartily when 
provoked to merriment, dressed simply, an4 
like most Russian women held uncleanliness 
in horror. Her liking for children was great ; 
as an attendant on the sick she was unsur- 

Her relations with Varvara Sergeiyevna, her 
mother, were of the tenderest kind. To see 
this parent, the daughter frequently risked her 
life. She was particularly sensitive of Var- 
vara's anxiety on her account, and did all in 
her power to allay it. At last, under final 
arrest and awaiting a sentence that was to send 
her to the scaffold, she wrote to her mother 
what must be called one of the most eloquent 
and solemn and touching epistles ever composed 
in anticipation of death. 

My darling, my priceless mother [it began], 
the thought of how it is with thee pains and tor- 
ments me continually. My dear one, I implore thee, 
calm thyself, spare thyself, and do not be troubled in 
mind, not only for the sake of those who surround 
thee, but also for my sake. Not for a moment do I 
sorrow concerning my fate ; ^ look forward to it 
calmly, for I have long known and anticipated that 
it would end thus. And this fate is, after all, dear 


mother, not so terrible. I have lived as my convic- 
tions dictated; contrary to them I could not act; 
therefore I await with a calm conscience all that im- 
pends for me. One thing only weighs upon me like 
a heavy burden ; and it is thy sorrow, my precious 
mother. That is all that troubles me ; if I could only 
lighten thy pain there is nothing that I would not give. 
But remember, my darling 1 mother, that thou hast a 
large family about thee, and that to the children 
who surround thee thou art necessary as a model of 
moral strength. In my inmost soul I have always 
regretted that I could never attain to that moral height 
whereon thou standest; yet in certain moments of 
doubt, thy image has always sustained me. I shall 
not assure thee of my affection, for thou knowest that 
from my earliest childhood thou hast been the object 
of my continual and most sublime love. Concern 
regarding thee was always for me a great pain. My 
darling, I hope thou wilt calm thyself, and to some 
extent, at least, forgive me for all the sorrow I am 
bringing thee. I hope that thou wilt not blame me 
too severely. Thy reproach is the only thing that can 
oppress me. Passionately, passionately, in imagina- 
tion, I kiss thy dear hands, and on my knees I im- 
plore thee not to be angry with me. Give my warm 
greeting to all my relatives. I have only one more 
request to make, dearest mother ; buy me a collar 
and gloves with buttons ; . . . one must prepare one's 
costume for the tribunal. Till we meet again, my 

1 The expression used in the original is " golubonka " — a word 
hardly translatable, literally " dear little dove." 


darling, I repeat my prayer. Do not be angry and 
do not trouble thyself about me. My fate is~ not so 
sad, after all, and it beseems not that thou shouldst 
mourn for me. Thy Sonya. 1 

March 22 (April 3), 1881. 

On receiving this letter, the mother hastened 
to the prison in which her daughter was con- 
fined. Permission to see her was refused from 
day to day down>tp the very hour of execution. 
At last the mother had the- terrible consolation 
of seeing her child driven away to the place of 
slaughter on an open tumbril, in the midst of 
those companions from whom she had implored' 
the judges not to separate her. 

Andrei Zheliabov, one of the five who "per- 
ished in the Semenovsky Field, was born a 
serf in the Krim in 1850. His grandfather, 
a sectarian, taught him Ecclesiastical Slavonic, 
and made him learn the psalter by heart. Soon 
Andrei attracted the attention of his owner, 
who gave him lessons in Russian and finally 
sent him to school at Kerch. He entered Odessa 
University as a student in 1868, but was ex- 
pelled for having joined in a demonstration 
against a professor. Zheliabov thenceforward 
had to support himself by giving lessons. At 
first he spent his leisure in organizing students' 
associations, libraries, etc. ; tiring of this sphere 

1 Diminutive of "Sophie." 


of activity, he joined a political society formed 
in Odessa about the time of the Nechayev con- 
spiracy. In this connection he became very 
popular amongst his>comrades. In 1872 he be- 
came member of an organization affiliated with 
the Cfyaikovtsy Society, and later in that ca- 
pacity .took part in the movement "to the peo- 
ple." One of his disguises as ( a propagandist 
was that of a vegetable-seller. But his ambi- 
tion rose above the work of explaining socialism 
to peasants, or distributing revolutionary litera- 
ture in workshops and factories. Zheliabov was 
a born organizer and leader ; a man of deed 
rather than word, yet eloquent and persuasive 
in an emergency ; easily angered by insult or 
ridicule, he had a pleasin'g manner, and was a 
favorite in society. Zheliabov approved of all 
the measures likely to further the cause jof the 
revolt. Tsarism, the unlimited power of a sin- 
gle individual wielded over a whole people, — 
this he hated and opposed with all the intensity- 
of feeling of which his passionate nature was 
capable. The news of Karakasov's shot he re- 
ceived, when only a boy of fifteen, with an ex- 
clamation of delight. In 1877, involved in the 
Chaikovtsy prosecution, he spent seven months 
in prison as the penalty of his activity as a prop- 
agandist. In 1879 he entered the ranks of the 
terrorists, and was one of those who sentenced 


the Tsar to death at Voronezh. Immediately 
after the / congress, he proceeded to the south of 
Russia and was there active in winning recruits, 
particularly in the university towns. As a 
speaker, his success was marked. His mastery 
of the subject in hand, the logical complete- 
ness of his arguments, his clear enunciation and 
professorial air, as well as his readiness at re- 
partee, charmed many and convinced more. 
Late in 1879, Zheliabov, as #gent of the Execu- 
tive Committee, superintended the construction 
of the mine at Alexandrovsk, and after the 
triple failure, went to St. Petersburg, where he 
was appointed to the oversight of a number of 
dynamite Victories. In the capital he gathered 
about him a number of young people who will- 
ingly accepted him as their guide and leader. 
His description of himself was that of a born 
demagogue, his proper place being, as he was 
accustomed to assure his friends, in the street, 
in the middle of a crowd of workmen. Zhelia- 
bov had great fondness for literature. It is re- 
lated of him that " Tarass Bulba," Gogol's cele- 
brated story, so fascinated him that he could not 
close the book until he had lost a night of sleep in 
reading it through. " Others will rise up after 
us " was his unvarying reply to prognostications 
of personal disaster. In Zheliabov's faith the 
cause would live, though the individuals might 


perish. The prosecuting attorney said of him, 
during the trial which ended in the quintuple 
sentence of death : " Zheliabov was a remark- 
ably typical conspirator in everything, — in 
gestures, in mimicry, in movement, in idea, 
and in language, — and did all with a certain 
theatrical effect. To the last moment he re- 
mained robed in his conspiratorial toga. ' It is 
impossible to deny to him the possession of 
talent and cleverness." 

Nikolai Kibalshchich, born in 1854, was the 
son of a priest stationed in a village of the 
Chernigov government. In 1871 he studied at 
the School for Engineers, two years later join- 
ing the Medical Academy in St. Petersburg. 
His first collision with the authorities occurred 
in 1875. He had casually undertaken to take 
charge of a packet of revolutionary publications 
for a friend living in constant dread of a domi- 
ciliary visitation, and on the police selecting the 
house of Kibalshchich for their attentions, they 
found the incriminating literature in his posses- 
sion. He was kept in prison for three years, 
the whole of which time he devoted to study ; 
his very " exercise " promenades are said to 
have been utilized in the task of winning his 
fellow-prisoners over to the cause of the revolt. 
He was a man of strongly phlegmatic tempera- 
ment; his manner was reserved, his speech 


slow, and his moods so equable that it was im- 
possible to say when he was pleased or when in 
anger. Only once was he warmed into visible 
enthusiasm. It was when his comrades told 
him of a plot against the imperial family. Set 
at liberty, Kibalshchich at once began the study 
of explosives, and knowing French, German, 
and English, quickly mastered all that was to 
be learned about mines, bombs, and the like. 
He had a whole laboratory fitted up for his ex- 
periments ; became the chemist, the technolo- 
gist of terrorism, and finally prepared those in- 
struments of death which were thrown on the 
13th of March. 

Grinevsky, who killed the Tsar and was hoist 
by nis own petard, was a-EaLe*. born in the gov- 
ernment of Minsk in the year 1856. His fam- 
ily lived in the greatest poverty. The boy was 
a diligent scholar. In contact with comrade 
students at Bialystock, Grinevsky imbibed so- 
cialistic views, and had devoted himself to the 
service of the people long before his educational 
course was at an end. In 1875 he went to St. 
Petersburg, and there joined the pupils of the 
Technological Institute. His activity in the 
capital was marked. He established a secret 
society, collected money for exiles, fabricated 
passports, and at last went to the people with 
the rest. On his return, disappointed and dis- 
couraged, he joined the terrorists. 


Such were four of the personalities who aided 
in carrying the revolt into its dynamic phase. 
They represented strata of society utterly re- 
moved from each other in many ways ; for one 
was born an aristocrat, the second came into 
the world a slave, the third was the son of a 
priest, and the fourth a student in the schools. 
Yet they were all united in an intense love of 
their country, in a sorrow for its suffering peo- 
ple, and a hatred of tyranny and oppression 
that made actions immoral in themselves seem 
to them the highest virtue ; and all of them 
alike met death, not with the selfish circum- 
spection of the conspirator who makes success 
conditional on his own safety, but with the sub- 
lime recklessness of men and women who, how- 
ever misguided in their choice of methods, yet 
gladly offer their lives for the cause which they 
believe to be sacred and true. 


Such has been the history of the revolt. It 
began in an unscrupulous negation of the racial 
spirit and traditions; in the gradual destruc- 
tion of individual and communal liberties ; in 
the forcible unification of tribes and territories 
that stood naturally apart ; in the wresting from 
the people, by force of ambition and arms, those 
privileges of self-government which they have 
never yielded up, and which they claim to this 
day; in the establishment of an absolutism re- 
pugnant to the national temper and genius, in- 
consistent with its early history, irreconcilable 
with its modern civilization. To these original 
causes must also be added a long series of irri- 
tations extending from the earliest days of Tsar- 
ism down to the present time. Intensified by 
domestic tyranny, stimulated not less power- 
fully by agrarian enslavement, the revolt be- 
came more bitter with every increase in the 
burdens which the growing state cast upon the 
individual. At first passive, or only indirectly 
dynamic, it soon assumed, under the stimulus of 


Western culture, the character of propaganda 
and declared resistance to authority ; finally we 
see it developed, under cruel methods of reprisal 
and repression, into a system of organized vio- 
lence and terrorism. 

The revolt has its foundation of historic dis- 
content, and yet draws much of its modern in- 
tensity from irritations and conditions that have 
been created by absolutism itself. No one can 
live long in Russia without finding himself sur- 
rounded by an atmosphere strangely wanting in 
restrictive social influences. In the west of 
Europe the individual is subordinated, in spite 
of himself, to the conceptions and canons and 
systems of society at large. In Russia, an ex- 
traordinary scope for doing unusual things in 
politics, religion, and morals takes the place of 
subservience to cumulative prejudices and tradi^ 
tions. The striking characteristic of Russian 
society is that it is held together by no bond of 
union at all valid for the regulation of personal 
conduct. It seems as though historical as well as 
geographical conditions had developed the indi- 
vidual, at the expense of the social, sentiment. 
And this want of social solidarity, setting in- 
dividualism free to act out its own desires and 
caprices, often blinding it to the general inter- 
ests of the social mass, has been intensified by 
the very power which ought to have striven for 


its removal. Fearing all union of thought, all 
intercommunication of idea, all free groupings 
and assimilations of the intellectual elements of 
the national life, the Russian government has 
brought its repressive measures to bear upon the 
very machinery by which, in other countries, 
society hedges its individual elements around 
with a healthy moral control. There is nothing 
more needed in Russia than a public conscience ; 
this the government has destroyed, or rather 
rendered impossible. 

Various instruments have been employed to 
cripple the social sentiment in Russia. Not the 
least powerful of them is that of the censorship. 
Just as in every theatre in Russia there is a loge 
reserved for the chief of police, so in every Rus- 
sian newspaper office there is a silent presence, 
ever holding in check the pen, if not the 
thought, of the unhappy journalist whose duty 
it is to write on u the topics of the day." Be- 
tween the years 1865 and 1880 the Press Coun- 
cil had given one hundred and sixty-seven 
warnings and suspended fifty-two newspapers. 
In the year 1882 five journals were suspended ; 
five others received a first warning, three a 
second, and one a third ; from six the privilege 
of street sale was withdrawn. Journals indis- 
pensable to healthy social development, like the 
"Den," the "Moskva," the " Grazhdanin," 


" Trad," " Poriadok," and the " Golos," have 
one by one succumbed to censorial severity un- 
til to-day the Russians have scarcely an inde- 
pendent, certainly no outspoken liberal, organ 
left. The case of the " Otechestvenny Zapiski " 
(Annals of the Fatherland), suppressed last 
year, affords a striking illustration of the condi- 
tion of journalism in Russia. The editor of 
that review, the celebrated Prince Saltykov, 
better known by his nom de guerre of " Shche- 
drin," had brought into existence a new kind of 
journalism suited to the exigencies of censor- 
ship on the one hand, and to the character of 
his own satirical talent on the other. He wrote 
mainly tales. They were like clippings from 
Boccaccio, just as light, just as witty, just as 
immoral. It was like a Russian Heine imitat- 
ing the "Decameron" in Slavonic. The aim of 
the writer was to show that so long as political 
topics were avoided almost any excesses might 
be indulged in. And the experiment was thor- 
oughly successful, for Shchedrin succeeded in 
putting before his public sketches revolting in 
their lewdness; such as, in any other Country 
than Russia, would have brought upon their 
author the punishment of the criminal law. 1 

1 The Annals was suppressed, the reader may remember, not 
for its indecency, to which the censor paid no (official) attention, 
but for its " dangerous " political opinions, and the alleged connec- 
tion of members of its staff with secret societies. 


The evil of censorship is multifold. It not 
only prevents the formation of healthy public 
sentiment ; it discourages thinking ; by trammel- 
ing expression, it makes journalism frivolous ; 
it forms a serious hindrance to educational 
processes, and by menacing them with heavy 
losses makes newspaper enterprises the most 
precarious of all. Peculiarly vexatious, more- 
over, are the restrictions upon the reading of 
foreign books, since they not only deprive the 
studious classes of valuable and urgently needed 
knowledge, but make an invidious distinction 
in favor of chin, or rank. A general, or his 
hierarchical equivalent, may read a -book like 
Zola's "Nana" with impunity, yet the poor 
student consults his borrowed scientific treat- 
ise or religious essay in fear and trembling. 
Young men often spend the whole of their 
leisure time, for months together, in copying 
volumes which they can only handle at the risk 
of being dealt with as readers of "forbidden 
literature." While in St. Petersburg I saw a 
copy of the French work "Jesus-Buddha" pro- 
duced under strangely mediaeval conditions. 
The owner of the original was an army general, 
who had the full right of his rank to peruse the 
book, but had pronounced it "dry reading" 
and handed it over to a friend uncut ; the copy 
belonged to a young medical student, who was 


precluded by his want of the needed chin from 
even buying the work, but had taken so serious 
an interest in the volume as to consider five 
months well spent in its transcription ! 

Another condition highly favorable to the re- 
volt is the absence from Russian life of all those 
specialized activities which citizenship involves 
in countries governed constitutionally. For 
the purely social effects of this kind of empti- 
ness one need only glance at the literary pic- 
tures which Gogol has left his countrymen, — at 
the petty aspirations and miserable interests of 
characters like Ivan Ivanovich and Ivan Nike- 
phorOvich, with their lifelong feud over an old 
gun ; like the chinovnik Akaky Akakyevich, the 
single ambition of whose existence was to have 
a new coat ; or Perigov, the officer, whose field 
of glory was the Nevsky Prospect, whenever he 
could pace it at the fashionable hour in full mili- 
tary uniform, with a sword scabbard dangling 
at his heels. The results of political emptiness 
are seen in the revolt itself. The need of play- 
ing a part in politics, of aspiring to office or 
power, however petty that power may be, of 
organizing something, conducting something, 
championing something, — this is so strong in 
modern civilization that if it be suppressed for 
one side or phase of life, it is sure to find satis^ 
faction and fulfillment on another. , The energy, 


the talent for organization, the natural leader- 
ship and acquired discipline about which one 
hears so much in nihilistic literature, are sim- 
ply so many qualities~Tihat have been diverted 
from their proper spheres of immediate public 
usefulness into activities of conspiracy and prop- 
aganda and terrorism. Even the intellectual ex- 
ercise of popular assemblies gathered to discuss 
public affairs is denied to the Russian people. 
Hence, while there is no career for the political 
orator, the success of the clandestine demagogue 
is assured ; while political parties are prohibited 
and unknown, secret societies everywhere draw 
vitality from the open aid or tacit sympathy 
of the people ; wnile the existing system calls 
no national representatives together for con- 
stitutional purposes, delegates converge from 
all the provinces to sanction the dread propo- 
sals of the Executive Committee. 

Revolt seems natural, sedition innate in the 
Russian capital. Its luminous summer mid- 
nights tend to mental irritation ; its long win- 
ter evenings favor conspiracy. Its populations 
seem continually hiding from each other in the 
hearts of immense tetragons of brick and stone, 
vast as the quadrangles which they inclose. 
Thousands of aspiring young men and women 
journey annually to St. Petersburg, and there 
lead a life free from the slightest parental re- 


straint. An unhealthy atmosphere, a variety of 
maladies, the daily spectacle of the most abject 
and terrible forms of poverty side by side with 
that of the most ostentatious and self-compla- 
cent wealth, are of themselves sufficient, with- 
out natural predilection or political grievance, 
to prompt to pessimistic views of life. The 
students are sometimes all but paupers them- 
selves, and not a few owe their education and 
their prospects wholly to the bounty of the 
government. When pinched in resources, they 
must be content to occupy the smallest of rooms 
in the biggest of buildings ; sometimes not more 
than the corner of an apartment falls to their 
lot during the hours of sleep. Students have 
been known to prepare their lessons by the light 
of the staircase or street lamp in order to save 
the cost of a candle, or to walk several miles in 
order to give a lesson for a midday meal. And 
when sorry resources like these fail, one sees in 
the newspapers such appeals as "Wanted, some- 
thing to do, anywhere and for anything ; " 
" Here 's half a year gone, and I 've got nothing 
yet ; " or " For the love of God keep a blind 
student and his family from starvation ! " 1 

The Greek Church merely extends without 
strengthening the surface exposed by absolutism 
to the assaults of the revolt. The close union 

1 Literally translated from the Golos. 


of Tsarism and Orthodoxy, strengthened in 
some recent cases to the point of conferring 
functions of police espionage upon the clergy, 
fails to disguise the relaxing hold of the church 
upon the masses of the people. Ignorance, 
drunkenness, and greed of wealth continue to be 
the vices of the priesthood, as intellectual stag- 
nation, unbroken by a single fundamental re- 
form, continues to be the fatal weakness of the 
national religion. "All the information and 
evidence obtainable," runs the report of an im- 
perial commission appointed to consider the 
state of the people in 1873, " shows that the 
influence of the clergy is in a continual state 
of decadence. The priesthood is little imbued 
with the sacredness of its mission ; it presents 
not the slightest example of morality. ... In 
Simbersk, Pensa, Samara, and Ufa, there is 
a falling off in the performance of religious 
duties amongst the peasantry : the causes are 
the small moral influence of the clergy, the 
absence of all civil and religious instruction, 
and the influence of the dram-shop." For the 
church to become the genuine church of the 
people, it must be divorced from Tsarism and 
reformed. The change wrought by the rasJcol 
in the days of Nikon left untouched its consti- 
tutions, rites, and language, which are conse- 
quently the same now as they were a thousand 


years ago. To adapt the church of Vladimir 
to the popular needs of modern Russia would 
require an ecclesiastical re-birth. To maintain 
it in its present condition ; to keep the monks 
in their idle and luxurious uselessness, the white 
clergy in the contempt of the people, and the 
whole functions of religious ministration in an 
atmosphere of meaningless formality and petty 
commercialism, — this is simply to aid the cause 
of the revolt. 

The problem of reconciling absolutism with 
European civilization is still further compli- 
cated by the increasing discontent of the agri- 
cultural classes. The sentimental satisfaction 
which was conveyed to outsiders by the uhaz 
of 1861 did not save peasants from the practi- 
cal results of the legislation which made them 
free cultivators. It not only lessened their 
share of land, but in many cases raised the 
government charges upon it to a rate out of all 
proportion to the annual yield. Instead of giv- 
ing the agriculturist his freedom, it brought him 
under the jurisdiction of the new commune. 
In a fiscal sense the peasant was just as firmly 
attached to the glebe as he had ever been since 
the days of Boris Godunov. Where the land 
is poor, and agrarian operations require favor- 
able conditions for their success, the tillers of 
the soil live a life of abject poverty and, over- 


burdened with commercial and state charges, 
fall an easy prey to avaricious money-lenders. 
The land-owning nobles have also s'uffered seri- 
ously from the new conditions imposed upon 
agriculture by the Act of 1861. In the prov- 
ince of Moscow alone, emancipation has thrown 
four fifths of the land out of cultivation in fif- 
teen years. 

The much lauded judicial reform is almost a 
dead letter. It has been paralyzed by modifi- 
cations. In thirty -nine provinces out of the 
seventy-two the old courts are still maintained. 
" The examining magistrates," writes Prince 
Krapotkin, 1 "never enjoyed the independence 
bestowed on them by the new law; the judges 
have been made more and more dependent 
upon the Minister of Justice, whose nominees 
they are, and who has the right of transferring 
them from one province to another ; the in- 
stitution of sworn advocates, uncontrolled by 
criticism, has degenerated absolutely ; and the 
peasant whose case is not likely to become a 
cause eSlebre does not receive the benefit of 
counsel, and is completely in the hands of a 
creature like the proeureur-imperial in Zola's 

Most serious of all, perhaps, are the irrita- 
tions of the police system, not only on account 

1 Nineteenth Century, January, 1883. 


of their sensational elements, but because they 
appeal to the sympathies and impulses. Noth- 
ing is so well calculated to intensify the dy- 
namic character of the revolt as the punitive 
measures devised by the authorities for its sup- 
pression. The practice of administrative exile, 
whereby thousands of people were banished to 
Siberia without trial, — without even the for- 
mality of communicating the cause of disap- 
pearance to their relatives, — was continued 
up to the year 1881, and only then mitigated 
to the extent of handing such, cases over to a 
special commission for its approbation, and of 
limiting the banishment to a term of five years. 
The process still goes on, and retains all the 
secret character which before made it obnox- 
ious ; the check imposed simply prevents ban- 
ishment for private, that is, for other than po- 
litical causes. Hence the old questions arise 
in every exigency of public excitement. Who 
are taken, and whither ? What is the offense, 
and who are the judges ? Who prosecute ? 
What is the punishment ? The number dealt 
with in this fashion is enormous. Under Loris 
Melikov it reached 1696, under Ignatiev it was 
2836 ! Nor do these figures take account of 
the other method of dealing administratively 
with, prisoners, by which the authorities are 
empowered to take an accused who has been 


acquitted by a jury and punish him secretly as 
they see fit. Is it any wonder that Society 
should be restive under this suspended sword 
of police machinery that, often without more 
pretext than the discovery of an " illegal " pub- 
lication in a letter-box, or weightier testimony 
than that of a paid or otherwise interested de- 
nunciator, may now cut off a man or woman 
from family, home, and country for life ? It 
asks for new processes resting upon righteous 
laws of evidence, for other forms of judicial 
procedure more European. Above all, it claims 
for every political prisoner or person now dealt 
with " administratively " the right to a public 

But what will the reader think of Russian 
methods of treating political prisoners after they 
have been lodged in gaol or sent into exile ? 
Not very long ago M. Paul Birvansky, an im- 
perial state attorney, was sent upon a special 
mission to Orenburg by the Minister of Justice, 
with orders to investigate and report upon the 
practice of the imperial tribunals in that prov- 
ince. He remained absent on his mission four 
months, and his experiences were published in 
the " Syeverny Vyestnik," (Northern Messen- 
ger) : — 

During my four months' inquiry [he wrote], it 
was revealed to me how our judges trample the laws 


under foot ; how cynical and wanton is the behavior 
of our police ; how savagely brute force is brought to 
bear upon the weak and friendless. I lived in an at- 
mosphere of appalling groans and heart-breaking 
sighs. I liberated innocent persons who had been 
kept in prison by the executive several years after 
they had been publicly acquitted in open court, and 
who had been secretly tortured. I took down the 
depositions of peasant women who had been subjected 
to torment — their flesh pinched with red-hot tongs 
— by order and in the presence of the chief commis- 
sary of police, merely because they had presumed to 
plead on behalf of their unfortunate husbands. I 
convinced myself that there was absolutely nothing 
in common between myself and the local authorities. 
A black and bottomless gulf lay between us. They 
trafficked wantonly with our laws, converting them 
into instruments of extortion. . . . Words fail me to 
'describe the impressions made upon me by my first 
visit to the state prisons. Hundreds of human beings 
find a premature grave in these loathsome dens. They 
die lingering deaths therein, or emerge from them 
crippled for life. ... It was horrible to be compelled 
to acknowledge to one's self that these semi-animate, 
wasted, filthy, and dun-colored objects, draped in a 
few rotten rags, were, after all, men and women. . . . 
The confined atmosphere, poisoned by exhalations 
from every sort of abomination, absolutely stopped 
my breath, so rank and fetid was it. ... I pass over 
an infinite number of cases, each of which is horrible 
enough to make your readers' hair stand on end, and 


come to the last of all. I was making my customary 
round of the district prisons when I noticed an abnor- 
mal excitement among the prisoners at Ilezk. The 
gaol governor was also agitated and pale. I insti- 
tuted an inquiry and found that two months pre- 
viously all the prisoners had been led out to an open 
space outside the town gates, and there beaten with 
such inhuman cruelty that the populace wept bitterly 
at the spectacle. . . . First they were flogged until 
they lost consciousness ; then water was poured over 
them till they recovered ; then the warders beat them 
with whatever was readiest at hand, — belt buckles, 
prison keys, iron chains, and the butt-ends of rifles. 
The ground was stained with blood like the floor of 
a shambles. Finally, the prisoners were tied together 
with ropes by the feet and driven into the great court- 
yard of the gaol, where they fell down from sheer 
exhaustion into several bleeding and disfigured heaps, 
scarcely recognizable as human beings." 

Such is the statement not of a terrorist, or of 
a prisoner, but of a Russian state_pjQQiiial. It is 
superfluous of course to add that M. Birvansky 
was speedily dismissed from his functions at 
Orenburg, and that for publishing Lis expe- y 
riences the " Northern Messenger " was sus- 

The allegation that torture is still a part of 
the Russian punitive system is supported by 
statements scarcely less confident than that of 
M. Birvansky. Prince Krapotkin declares that 


at least two of the four who suffered death with 
. ,Perovskaya were tortured prior to their execu- 
Jption by electricity ■, in order to compel disclo- 
sures. 1 It appears much more certain that f Is- 
sayey was kept in a continual state of nervous 
excitement, with the alleged aim of provoking 
a confession. Plotnikov, who had been in prison 
for years, in last extremes of weakness and ill- 
health, was thrown into chains for having one 
day ventured to declaim a verse of his favorite 
poet in the hearing of the gaoler. Serekov, for 
neglecting to salute a guard placed over him, 
was put into a dark cage, so small that he could 
neither stand nor sit within, and had to main- 
tain an attitude highly painful and exhausting. 
When ^Alexandrov sang a snatch of melody in 
an unguarded moment the gaoler struck him a 
blow in the face with his fist. The gaol in 
which these occurrences took place is known as 
the Novobelgorod Central Prison, situated in 
the Volchansk district, about fifty-nine versts 
distant from the town of Kharkov. A descrip- 
tion of the place appeared in the " Moscow Tel- Y 
egraph" of the 6th (18th) of December, 1882. '^ 

1 It is only fair to say that this allegation is denied in Russian 
official circles. The evidence upon which it was based is that of 
an eye-witness, who declared that at the place of execution Ryssa- "jf 
kov showed his *' mutilated hands " and said, " They have tortured / 
us" (muy pytali). That these words were distinctly heard is very 
doubtful, since the authorities kept a band of music playing up to I 
the last moment. 


The writer spoke of the prison as "so over- 
crowded that the convicts lie one atop of an- 
other. The air in the cells is so impure that 
any one not accustomed to the place cannot re- 
main inside for more than a few minutes. 
The boards which form the beds are frightfully- 
unclean. . . . The prisoners themselves look ill 
and exhausted. They live in a state of the 
greatest nervous excitement. For punishment 
they are put for from one to seven days into 
small dark holes, in which a man can lie down 
only with the greatest difficulty." 

The cells of the citadel (ravelin) prison in 
St. Petersburg are described as dark and cold 
as the grave. The walls drip with damp, and 
there are pools of water on the floor. The food 
given to the prisoners here consists of vegetable 
soup and bread. The place is warmed in winter 
once every three days ; every other day the pris- 
oners are allowed to take exercise, that is, for a 
quarter of an hour each time. No reading or 
relaxation of any kind is permitted. The pris- 
oners are closely watched. If one makes a 
movement with the head or hand, or only looks 
at something, the guard immediately jumps 
from his seat and asks the reason of the action. 
It was in this prison that Zubkovsky tried to 
make geometrical figures with his bread in order 
to practice geometry for relaxation, and had it 


taken away from him with the remark that hard 
labor convicts were not permitted to amuse 
themselves. Blows and the black hole are 
amongst the punishments awarded. It was here 
that Shiryaev fell into consumption ; here that 
Okladslgy .and TsukernoajQ, went mad ; here that 
Martynovsky tried to commit suicide. 

In the Kharkov prison political convicts are 
kept from three to five years in solitary confine-* 
ment and in irons, in dark, damp cells that 
measure only ten feet by six, altogether isolated 
from intercourse with human beings. No books 
are allowed and no implements for manual la- 
bor. Shut up in places like these, Princ e Kra- 
gotkin writes, prisoners " go rapidly to decay, 
and either descend calmly to the grave, or be- 
come lunatics. They do not go mad as, after 

being outraged by gendarmes, Miss M , the 

promising young painter, did. She was bereft 
of reason instantly ; her madness was simulta- 
neous with her shame. Upon them insanity 
steals gradually and slowly ; the mind rots in 
the body from hour to hour." In 1878 the 
prisoners at Kharkov, life having become in- 
supportable, rebelled ; six determined to starve 
themselves to death. For a week they refused 
to eat, and after terrible scenes arising from the 
attempt to feed them by injection, they were 
induced by delusive promises to take nourish- 


ment. Their demands were for regular warm- 
ing of the cells, the provision of beds, exercise 
by twos instead of singly, placing of the lamp 
in the cell rather than in the corridor, and more 
humane treatment by the guard and officials in 

The lot of the political exile in Siberia is still 
more painful. " We live," writes a prisoner 
from Yakutsk, " literally in darkness, only hav- 
ing light for an hour and a half or two hours in 
order that we may see to eat. Our food is fish; 
we have no bread and cannot get meat. I thank 
you for the papers sent, but I have no money 
to buy candles, and therefore have n't the light 
to read by." Another writes, " My scorbutic 
ailment gets worse, and I only long now for 
death." " We work," says a third, " from six 
o'clock in the morning until eight o'clock at 
night in cold water that often reaches up to 
our knees. We leave work quite exhausted, 
and go to bed at once, for to read or converse is 
impossible. Last year (1881) we buried four of 
our comrades. Semv^anovsky and Rodin com- 
mitted suicide. Neizvestny and Krivozhyein 
died this year (1882). Kovalevskaya 1 went 
mad. The same fate awaits many more of us. 
We live in two narrow cells. We get no med- 
ical help. We need books, clothes, shoes, and 

1 Evidently a woman. 


money. Our torments are frightful .... Fare- 
well, dear friends, this is my last letter." The 
prison referred to in this communication is 
known as the Nizhnaya Kara (Lower Kara). 
The political convicts confined therein num- 
bered, at the beginning ofJUi&£, about ninety. 
One of them describes the prison as dirty and 
damp. " There is a physician, but he treats 
the sick so badly that they prefer not to ask his 
services. It was he who had half-insane^ Kpxa- 
ievskaya whipped nearly to death. . . . Arm- 
feld was also beaten with a stick for simple im- 
politeness. Zhutin died in his chains, bound to 
the wall. Kolenkin is on the point of death, 
owing to the wounds caused by his chains." 2 

Let me close this chapter with a word on the 
passport system, which must be described as one 
of the most harassing and widespread sources 
of all political irritation in modern Russia. It 

2 A few of the statements here given are reproduced from the 
revolutionary organs, Na Rodinye (At Home), Narodnaya Volya 
(Will of the People) and the Chorny Peredyel (Black Partition). 
The source is certainly partisan, yet it is the only source available, 
and so long as the Russian government restricts to adversaries the 
opportunity of collecting and disseminating information on this 
subject, so long will that information command the confidence and 
faith of the public. It is at any rate as much entitled to credence 
as the statements of some of those travelers who have enjoyed the 
honor of being "personally conducted " through the prison estab- 
lishments of his highness the Tsar, but who have set out on their 
mission of exploration without the single indispensable requisite 
for that misssion, namely, a colloquial knowledge of Russian. 


puts the population practically in the position 
of convicts discharged on ticket-of-leave, and 
compelled to report from time to time to the 
police. If, on the one hand, it is a source of 
revenue, yielding three million of rubles a year 
or thereabouts, on the other it is a serious obsta- 
cle to freedom of motion and commercial develop- 
ment. Nothing can terrify a peasant more than 
the prospect of losing, or being refused his 
" papers." People have been known to commit 
suicide rather than be found without a passport. 
Not a few have been driven by their inability 
to procure police certificates into secret socie- 
eties, the members of which, for the most part, 
live " illegally," that is to say, without pass- 
ports, or on the strength of documents fabri- 
cated by themselves. The police frequently 
refuse passports to persons whom they suspect 
of " political infidelity ;" this kind of terrorisi 
is a favorite form of ex-judicial persecution in 


The conclusion that, under the existing 
regime in Russia, the revolt is a permanent ele- 
ment of the national life thus becomes inevitable. 
It is an essence, a nature of things, rather than a 
mere phenomenon. Its inner reality exists inde- 
pendently of its outer accident or form. Just as 
a mass of water may assume the character of a 
still lake, a rippling brook, a noisy waterfall, 
may ascend even in vapor and appear as a 
cloud, yet retain unchanging the nature and 
properties of its essence, so the Russian revolt 
takes all protean shapes in the process of its 
expression. | Constrained by circumstance to 
manifest itself as passive discontent, as religious 
protest, as philosophical dogma, as ethnological 
sentiment, as negation in criticism, as nihilism in 
morals, as socialism, as incitement to revolution, 
or as violence and terrorism, the revolt never va- 
ries in its inner being, never changes in its es- 
sence, but remains the immutable antithesis of 
absolutism ; in this aspect not tainted with the 


immorality of force, or soiled with the shedding 
of blood, but fair as the cause of human liberty, 
and irradiated with the sunlight of awakened 
human consciousness in its struggle with the 
darker hemisphere of the national life. 

What is true of the various parties who cham- 
pion the revolt is true also of the demands they 
make. Their programmes have an illustrative 
but no absolute value. Any reforms that re- 
move the grievances out of which the revolt 
has arisen will at once make the revolt impossi- 
ble. At the head of these grievances stands 
absolute power. We have already seen to what 
a degree this principle is opposed to the racial 
sentiment, and contrary to the national tradi- 
tions. The popular institutions protest against 
it. Organizations like the mir and the artel — 
the one representing the agricultural and the 
other the urban industries of the country — 
alone show how tenaciously the people cling to 
the old Slav principle of equality in organization, 
and free choice of the instruments of rule. It 
is thus not the educated classes alone, but the 
masses, — peasant and arjpan, land-owner and 
student, — of whose aspirations, at least, it may 
be said, as it was said of the earliest and freest 
Russians, " Neminem f erant imperantem." True 
enough it is that amongst the peasants the re- 
volt must long remain in its passive stage. The 


glamour which popular superstitions throw 
around the personal elements of Tsarism is not 
yet fully dissipated by the brighter illumination 
of knowledge. Yet year by year, partly owing 
to educational processes, partly owing to propa- 
ganda, even the peasants are being won over to 
the growing battalions of discontent. 

How, then, is the struggle likely to end? 
Will concession bring it to a premature close, 
or will the revolt swell finally into revolution ? 
Here it becomes necessary to carry the conflict 
somewhat beyond the limits within which it 
has hitherto been confined. The struggle is no 
mere effort to gain old rights of self-govern- 
ment on the one hand, or to resist encroach- 
ments upon power on the other. Stated in its 
broadest aspect the issue is not only one of 
Tsarism against constitutional liberty, but of a 
federative union of Russian Slavs^)against cen- 
tralized government. The unified empire was 
as repugnant to the Russians as absolutism 
itself. Left to their own free choice they in- 
variably tended to the principle of federalism. 
Long before the coming of the Varegs, the 
union between the Russian volosts was of a 
purely federal character. The federal instincts 
of the people were also shown in the division 
of the country into appanages. Federalization 
was, in fact, the inevitable corollary of the 


Russian repugnance to sovereignty; to retain 
power in their own hands the people found it 
necessary to keep the land divided into a num- 
ber of small principalities. And that this was 
no accidental arrangement, but a deliberate pol- 
icy, is shown by the determination with which 
they resisted every attempt to unify the divided 
territories. It was only when all opposition 
had been broken by force of arms that we at 
last see Russia centralized, and absolute power 
building itself a home over the ruins of that 
federalism which had so effectively sheltered 
the liberties of the people. 

This predilection for federal institutions has 
tinged the revolt from its inception. Slavo- 
phils, Panslavists, and Nihilistic parties have 
all had schemes in view for securing a federa- 
tive union of the races composing the Russian 
empire. In this way the revolt may be said to 
aim not only at securing constitutional freedom 
for 36,000,000 Great Russians, but at provid- 
ing political reforms for the Poles, the Little 
Russians, the White Russians, Finns, Lithua- 
nians, etc. The Russian revolutionary move- 
ment of 1860 drew not a little of its virulence 
from a federalistic understanding with Polish 
conspirators of the time. Both Herzen and 
Bakunin prepared schemes of national federa- 
tion. Kostomarov, the historian, Shevchenko, 



the famous poet, and Kulish, the ethnographer, 
jointly founded the Cyrillo-Methodius Union, 
the aim of which was the national re-birth of 
Little Russia, and a federation of all the Rus- 
sian Slavs. Overtures have from time to time 
been made to the Cossacks, the Jews, the Esths, 
the Letts, and even to the Germans of the Bal- 
tic provinces, 1 on the basis of a federative alli- 
ance against absolutism. The very organiza- 
tion of the revolt itself has been throughout 
mainly of a federalistic character. The con- 
spirators have never jointly chosen a dictator 
to direct their movements, nor have they toler- 
ated absolutism in any form. Decentralization 
has been the strength of terrorism ; sporadic 
activity the main source of its success. To 
name a leader of the revolt would be difficult, 
simply because the revolt never had any leader. 
But in another sense all who champion it are 
leaders, hence its formidableness. 

The issue of the revolt is thus not only an 
issue of federalism against centralized govern- 
ment : upon the result of the struggle depends 
the jfuture of Russian imperialism itself. The 
first act of a popular government would be to 
replace the existing cohesion of force by a free 
grouping of at least the Slav elements of the 

1 See Der Baltische Federalist, published at Geneva, also the 
address An meine baltische Landsleute. 


population in voluntary federation. It needs 
no gift of prophecy to predict what would fol- 
low. The result would be a change of immense 
international significance. The Russian state 
would speedily lose its character as an aggres- 
sive power.. The champions of the revolt love 
their country and their race, but for the empire 
they have little historical or political affection. 
The country is linked with hallowed and sacred 
memories ; the empire is associated with an end- 
less succession of degradations and sufferings. 
In their country the Russians lived as freemen 
and happy ; when the empire came, it brought 
absolutism, destroyed the communal liberties, 
debased the individual, made millions of slaves. 
No reader of Russian history need be reminded 
that the growth of Russia the empire did not 
really begin until Russia the country had been 
forced into receiving a ruler of the Byzantine 
type to replace the prince elected in popular 
assembly as servant and not master of the 
people. The moment autocratic power was 
established in Russia, that moment the Rus- 
sian empire began its movement of expan- 
sSJon. From the beginning to the end of the 
sixteenth century, a period which represents 
the first hundred years of absolutism and cen- 
tralization in Russia, the territory of the em- 
pire was quadrupled. Since the beginning of 



the seventeenth century it has increased from 
three millions to eight millions of square miles, 
in round numbers. Starting from the nuclei 
of her national life at Kiev, Novgorod, and Mos- 
cow, Russia has extended her borders north- 
ward and eastward and southward until she 
presents to the startled geographer and politi- 
cian a continuous territory equal in surface to 
that which the moon turns to the earth. 1 And 
the expansion has been wrought not by the 
Russian people themselves, but at the expense 
of the popular liberties ; not owing to the sym- 
pathetic acquiescence of international specta- 
tors, but by sacrifice of the interests, and by 
overriding of the resistance, of protesting na- 

Viewed in the light of these facts, the issue 
of the revolt is no longer of a partisan or even 
of a merely national character ; it becomes of 
immense significance for Europe. It is no less 
than this : shall this vast empire, drawing from 
tyranny at home its means of aggression abroad, 
go on in its present path of expansion for a pe- 
riod and with results to which limits cannot 
even be suggested ? Or shall the Russian peo- 
ple, breaking up into peaceful federations, and 
drawing from recovered popular rights the 
means of a prosperous internal development, de- 

i Humboldt. 


vote themselves thenceforward to a policy of con- 
cession at home and non-interference abroad? 
The revolt, it should be remembered, not only 
opposes internal tyranny : it is the foe of im- 
perial aggrandizement. A stationary Russia 
under absolutism is an impossibility. Retrogres- 
sion means ruin to imperial interests. The nat- 
ural and normal policy of the empire is thus 
one which makes Russia a constant menace to 
Europe. That this menace should arise from 
an immoral usurpation of popular rights and 
liberties shows the close moral solidarity of 
nations, the intimate dependence of universal 
well-being upon universal justice, the impossi- 
bility of confining the results of wrong-doing, 
and particularly wrong-doing in the form of 
offenses against the freedom of a people, to the 
country which suffers from them the first. The 
nations all have an interest in the removal of 
the popular wrong in Russia, since out of that 
wrong springs not only the terrorism of the re- 
volt, threatening an imperial integrity which is 
not needed, but the terrorism of the empire, 
menacing an international integrity which must . 
be maintained. The cause of democracy in 
Russia is the cause of Europe. In a commu- j 
nity of constitutional governments absolutism 
is the common enemy. 

The proofs of all this are cumulative. If 


Russia is the vastest, she is also the youngest 
state in Europe. A like rapidity of develop- 
ment is unknown in history. The national 
literature is scarcely more than a century old. 
The first Russian poet came four hundred years 
after the English had Chaucer. Juvenile as a 
nation, Russia is youthful as a race. She stands, 
as Bishop Strossmeyer expressed it, " on the 
threshold of the morning. " Her day is in the 
future, and she grows towards it continually. 
Such is the rate at which her people increase 
that in half a century the Russian empire will 
number a population of close upon lSS^OC^OOO. 1 
How these 158,000,000 of people shall be wielded 
is, therefore, of immense importance to Europe. 
If they are wielded from within, with the good 
sense and prudence that naturally characterize 
popular self-government, then the nations may 
look on with sympathy and approval. But if 
they are to be wielded by despotism, some new 
means of protecting Europe from Russian en- 
croachments will have to be devised. The ex- 
pansion of the empire means the spread of 
absolutism ; and in this sense, as illustrating an 
inevitable tendency that must be promoted by 
not being held in check, it may be said, with 

1 In the absence of wars or exceptional maladies. The yearly 
increase of population is, in Russia, 781,000; in Germany, 564,094; 
in Great Britain, 276,623; France, 96,647. (Russian Official Board 
of Statistics.) 


truth, that if the will of Peter did not exist, 
Europe would be under the necessity of invent- 
ing it. 

The revolt in its widest phase 1 have defined 
as a tacit alliance of interest between the Rus- 
sian people and the nations of Europe against 
a principle and method of government hostile 
to the common weal. It is the protest of eighty 
millions of people against their continued em- 
ployment as a barrier in the path of peaceful 
human progress and national development. It 
is the protest of Europe against the utilization 
of enormous forces of racial growth and repro- 
duction for the organized furtherance of per- 
sonal ambitions and dynastic wealth. Yet the 
narrower and more immediate issue is that of a 
struggle which is purely domestic. The early 
dissolution of absolutism by force is a contin- 
gency the least probable of all. The devoted 
and ignorant loyalty of the peasant will remain 
the safeguard of the empire against revolution 
for many decades yet to come. Terrorism may- 
abolish the individual, but it leaves the princi- 
ple intact. The most dangerous form of con^ 
spiracy known in Russian history, that is to 
say, military conspiracy, has only succeeded in 
compassing dynastic changes. Yet autocracy in 
Russia is none the less doomed. The forces 
that undermine it are cumulative and relent- 



less. Not terrorism, or nihilism, or socialism, 
is it that feeds those forces, but civilization, 
national enlightenment, individual awakening, 
flence the true policy of autocracy is to spread 
its dissolution — after the manner of certain 
financial operations — over a number of years. 
It will thus be possible, on the one hand, to 
avoid a rude shock to imperial amour propre, 
and on the other to afford the due preparation 
for a comprehensive scheme of constitutional 
government. But the demand for an immedi- 
ate and substantial concession is none the less 
urgent. It might take the form of a tem- 
porary convention of popular representatives, 
chosen in the various governments, or of an ad- 
mission of delegates of the people to co-deliber- 
ation with the members of the Imperial Coun- 
cil (Gosudarstvenny Sovyet), after a scheme 
said to have been devised by the late Tsar. 
The method of the change is really not of im- 
portance. The vital matter is that the reform 
shall at once concede and practically apply the 
principle of popular self-government, granting 
at the same time the fullest rights of free speech 
and public assembly. To further procrastinate 
is simply to purchase a merely temporary im- 
munity from the inevitable, at immense per- 
sonal and political risk. 

Let the Tsar and his advisers beware. The 


spectacle of this frightfully unequal struggle — 
unequal alike in its justifications and In the 
physical forces which it arrays against each 
other — is not lost upon Europe, or even upon 
America. A system that maintains itself by 
the infliction of human suffering and the nega- 
tion of human rights cannot long expect to re- 
ceive from governments the tolerance which is 
denied to it by peoples. Already nations are be- 
ginning to recognize that the standing menace 
in the east of Europe is not the Russian race, 
but Russian absolutism ; already a greater dan- 
ger is growing up to the " Emperor of all the 
Russias " than the danger of constitutional re- 
form. And yet it would be sad if the issues 
were always to be confined within political lim- 
its. Hence it is well that one can look for- 
ward to the time when a new conception of in- 
ternational rights and obligations shall take 
the place of the old ; when serried lines of glis- 
tening bayonets and smoking cannon will no 
longer be needed to relieve the struggle for lib- 
erty from the reproach of crime ; when tyranny 
shall be an offense against the community of 
nations, as it is now an offense against the 
community of individuals, and when countries 
that have won their own liberty and gone 
through the bitter day shall gladly repay their 
glorious gains in noble blows struck for univer- 
sal freedom. 


Absorption, 11. 

Acclimatization, 11. 

Administrative procedure, 242, 243. 

Agriculturists, Wandering of, 20 ; at- 
tached to glebe, 21. 

Aksakov, 175, 176. 

Alexander I., 156, 163, 164, 165. 

Alexander II., 155. 

Alexander III., 210. 

"Annals of the Fatherland," the, 

Apolism, results of, 51. 

Art, 67, 68. 

Assassination: attempt at, by Kara- 
kasov, 19$ ; stabbing of Mesent- 
sev, 206 ; Soloviev's attempt, 207 ; 
Alexander. II. killed, 209 ; Sudei- 
kin assassinated, 210. 

Astrakhan, commerce of, 40. 

Atavism, in eating, 31 ; in religion, 

Authority, protest and revolt 
against, 131, 139, 140, 160, 161. 

Autocracy, 99 ; doomed, 261 ; true 
policy of, 262. 

Avakum, 137, 138. 

Baku, 39. 

Bakuniu, 176, 200. 

Banishment, without trial, 242. 

Beds, 49. 

Berdichev, 38. 

Bestyuzhev, 167, 171. 

Bielinsky, 156, 195, 209. 

Black Sea, 39. 

Blanc, Louis, 156. 

Breakfast, 30. 

Biichner, 156. 

Buckle, 156. 

Byron, 156. 

Byzantinism, 93, 95, 96, 98, 177, 186. 

Byzantium, 55. 

Catherine, 160-162. 

Catholic Church, civilization of, 108. 

Caucasus, 7. 

Censure, 162, 233-235. 

Central Asia, 15, 16. 

Centralization, opposed by the re- 
volt, 254. 

Chaikovtsy Society, 221, 222, 226. 

Cheremiss, 10. ^*» ^^ _/_X^ 

Chernishevsky, 185, Wff, \$B>\ 107 ; 
life of, sketched, 2lf 
218'; influence, 

Children, beating of, 102. 

Chin, evils of, 235, 236. 

Christianity, defects of Byzantine, 
107, 108. 

Chuds, 136. 

Cities, lack of, 35 ; at first of wood, 
36 ; etymology of, 36 ; eleven larg- 
est, 38; contrasted with cities of 
Western Europe, 54 ; mere taxable 
units, 55 ; deprived of burgher 
element, 56. 

Citizenship, inactivity of, 236. 

Civilization, 8; influenced by Mongol 
invasion, 12 ; lateness of, 64 ; early 
Russian, 176. 

Class, distinctions of, 104. 

Climate, political effects of, 64, 65. 

Colonization, effects of, 127-129 ; in 
Russia, 129. 

Commune, character of, 87 ; age of, 

Conspiracy, beginnings of, 166 ; the 
Petrashevsky, 195 ; of Nechayev, 
199 ; at Chigirin, 204. 

Constantinople, 21. 

Contemporary, the, 195, 197, 214, 

Cossacks, recruited by fugitive serfs, 
21 ; republic of, destroyed, 161. 

Counting frame, 17. 

Counting, lack of proficiency in, 17. 

Country, vastness of, 23. 

Cruelty, of legislation, 102. 

Cunning, origin of, 105. 

Darwin, 156. 




Dazh-bog, the sun-god, 83. 
Democracy, Russian, 259. 
Derzhavin, 155. 
Despotism, of father, 102 ; of law, 

102, 103 ; paralyzed by Peter, 153. 
Dissent, motive force of, 142. 
Dissenters, 134, 152. . 
Dobrolyubov, yfi, 2£1. 
Domicile, easy change of, 33. 
Domiciliary period, beginning of, 42, 

DomostroV, the, 31, 32, 95, 96, 102, 

118, 120, 147, 157, 159. 
Dostoyevsky, 184, 187. 
Dram shop, influence of, 239. 
Drenteln, 207. 
Durachok, Ivanushka, 105. 

Education, regulation of, 163, 164. 

> Emancipation, results of, 240. 
Empire, significance of ; national in- 
stincts hostile to, 257 ; a creation 

of autocracy, 257 ; growth of, 258. 
Encyclopaedists, 165. 
Enlightenment, influences of, 146, fierbersteinytit^d', 15, 16, 29, 106. 

147, etc. ; enemy of autocracy,*j/Herzen, 176, 177, 18f. 

153 ; welcome of, 154. 
Enslavement, of the servant, 101 

of the peasant, 101 ; of the wife 

Epic songs, 83 ; story of Ilya, 84, 85 
Escapades, 211. 
Europe: its relation to the revolt 

253, 254, etc.; revolt and, 261; 

how menaced, 258. 
Executive Committee, 208, 209, 237. 
Exile, 7 ; number sent into, 210 ; lot 

of in Siberia, 249, 250. 
Explosions : at Winter Palace, 208 ; 

at Moscow, 208. 

Fairs, 22. 

Family, becomes an autocracy, 102 ; 

Europeanized, 107^ 
Federation, 255-257. 
Festivals, 189. 
Finns, 10. 
Fish, 30. 

Food, eaten in memory of dead, 13. 
Foreigners, 38. 

Foreign tastes, how formed, 74. 
Forests, 6 ; as factors of polytheism, 

62, 63. 
Fourier, 156, 194. 
Freemasonry, 166. 
Funerals, 13. 

Germans, 38. 
Godunov, Boris, 21. 
Goethe, 156, 181. 

Gogol, 37, 48, 155, 156, 173, 184, 187, 
227, 236. 

Government, character of early 
Slav, 91. 

Great Russian language, 25; com- 
pared with Turkish tongues, 26 ; 
with European speech, 27 ; char- 
acteristics, 28. 

Great Russians, 8, 9, 17. 

Greek Church, protest against, 130 ; 
book controversy, 131, 134 ; colla- 
tion of texts, 132, 133; triumph 
of the reformers, 133 ; outbreak 
against, 135 ; union of, with state, 
238, 239 ; re -birth of, needed7240. 

Griboyedov, 7, 155, 156. 

Grinevsky, life of, 229. 

Gurko, 207. 

Habits, transmission of, 10, 11 ; Asi- 
atic, 13 ; eating, 29 ; drinking, 30. 
Haxthausen, 159. 
Hegel, 156, 173. 
Helfmann, Hesse, 210. 

History, 5. f / 

Hospitality, 81-83. 

House, lack of pride in, 50 ; doors 
of, ignored by servants, 50 ; dom- 
icile of peasant, 51. 


mprisoned, number of, 210. 

Individual, freedom of, 86 ; ignored 
by the Greek Church, 97 ; de- 
basement of, 104. 

Individualism, reaction by, 194. 

Individuality, quickening of, 130 ; a 
motive force, 142. 

Insurrection, along the Volga, 136 ; 
of Pugachev, 139, 160 ; of Decem- 
ber, 167 ; Polish, 197. 

Intermingling, 10, 12. 

Jews, 38. 

Judges, behavior of, 243, 244. 

Judicial reform, 241. 

Kalmucks, 32. 
Kantimir, 155. 
Kapustin, 182. 

Karamzin, cited, 42, 86, 88, 102, 155. 
Kazan, 39, 40. 
Kibalshchich, life of, 228. 
Kiev, a place of pilgrimage, 22 ; pop- 
ulation, 38. 
Killed, number of, 210, 211. 
Kinglake, 17. 
Kishinev, 38. 
I Koltsov, 155. 



Kostomarov, 118. 
Krim, 1*1; war in, 195. 
Krylov, 156. 
Kvass, 14, 120. 

Landscape, 5, 6; no real pictur- 
esqueness in, 69. 

Language, evidence of, 24 ; lacks di- 
alects, 25. 

Legislature, 89 ; humanitarian char- 
acter of, 91 ; change to cruelty, 

Lermontov, 7, 187. 

Liberties, eclipse of, 101. 

linguists, Russians as, 17-19. 

Literati, 166. 

Literature, 7, 155, 156. 

Little Russia, serfage established in, 

Love, 122. 

Lying, origin of, 105. 

Malthus, 214. 

Manners at table, 31, 32 ; domestic, 
31 ; of early Russians, 80. 

Marriage, 124, 125. 

Materialism, 158. U 

Maximus, 132. 

Meals, 29. ' 

Melikov, Loris, 242. 

Migrant habits, 20, 23, 52, 56. 

Migration, 9, 11, 21, 22; its effect 
upon Russian development and 
institutions, 33 ; of cities, 48. 

Mill, John Stuart, 157, 215. 

Moleschott, 156. 

Mongolism, influence of, 107. 

Mongols, 12, 20, 99, 100. 

Monomakh, Vladimir, 19. 

Monotony, ol landscape, 6. 

Montesquieu, 156. 

Mordvs, 10. 

Moscow, Herberstein at, 15; popu- 
lation, 38 ; a genuine Russian city, 
40 ; proverbs about, 40, 41 ; relig- 
ious, literary, and industrial sig- 
nificance, 41 ; an artificial crea- 
tion, 42 ; view of, 71 ; character of 
dwellers in, 106 ; insurrection in, 

Mountains, lack of, 7. 

Municipal government, 53. 

Muraviev, 160, 167. 

Murder, punished by penalty of 
death, 103. 

Mysticism, 179-185; a part of the 
revolt, 182. 

Nechayev, 199. 
Nekrassov, 74, 187, 188. 

Nestor, 80, 81. 

Nevsky Prospect, the, 48, 206, 210, 

Newspapers, suppression of, 233, 234. 
Nicholas, 167-169, 171, 193,195. 
Nihilism, 193, 194. 
Nikolaiev, 39. 
Nikon, 132, 134, 151, 194. 
Nomad languages, 26. 
Novgorod, 48, 88, 112. 
Novikov, 161,. 176. 

Odessa, 38, 39, 225, 226. 

Old Believers, excommunicated, 133; 

at Solovetsky, 135, 151. 
Owen, 194. 

Panslavisni, 177. 

Paris, Russian travelers at, 165. 

Passport system, harassment of, 
250, 251. 

Patronymics, 29. 

Peasants, 73, 83, 106, 165. 

Pechenegs, 10. 

People, personification of, 84: gov- 
ernment by, 87, 88. >> >> 

Perovskaya, Sophie, 2^jJ0o; sketch 
ofjijgOfe'tc. ; letj^rgtto mother, 
225T; execution 6 ^gQ9. ^ 

Pessimism, 185-1927 

Pestel, 166, 167, 170. 

Peter, predilection of, for small 
apartments, 49 ; reforms of, 148 ; 
significance, character, and work 
of, 149-151. 

Petersburg, 48, 152-154, 175, 190- 

Petroleum trade, 39. 
v\ Pissarev, JrfKJT 

Plain, illusions of, 5. 

Poland, influence of, 145, 146. 

Police, brutality of, 244, 246-250. 

Polish language, 25 ; habits, 32 ; cit- 
ies, 37, 38. 

Polyans, 81. 

Polygamy, 111. 

Possoshkov, Ivan, 82. 

Poverty, 238. 

Priesthood, debasement of, 239. 

Princes, rule of, 88, 89. 

Prisons : Peter and Paul, 206, 247, 
248; Novobelgorod, 247; Khar- 
kov, 248 ; Kara, 250 ; food strikes 
in, 206. 

Profession, lack of pride in, 51. 

Prosecutions, number of, 210, 211. 

Protest, 109. 

Prudhon, 156, 194. 

Pskov, 48, 88. 

Pugachev, 139, 160. 



Punishment, of sorcerer, 103; of 

debtor, 104 ; corporal, 103. 
Pushkin, 7, 70, 184, 187. 

Rasin, Stenka, 136. 

Realism, 52, 158. 

Reform, urgency of, 262. 

Religion : ideas of future life, 60 ; 
sun worship, 61 , 62 ; intercourse 
with the dead, 78-80 ; consola- 
tions of paganism, 80 ; Christian- 
ity and its influences, 94 ; Greek 
Church, 94, 95 ; monasticism, 96 ; 
political aspects, 97 ; monotheism, 
98; raskol, 109, 142, 181, 183, 
239; heresy, 109; protest, 126; 
communism in, 141 ; weakness, 

Revolt, energy of, 137 ; progress of, 
138; takes form of conspiracy, 
161 ; recognized by authorities, 
169 ; vitality of, 172 ; federative 
character of, 177, 178 ; enters the 
dynamic period, 193 ; new policy, 
199, 200 ; propaganda, 200 ; social- 
istic phase, 200 ; pilgrimage to the 
people, 201 ; terrorism, 204, 205, 
etc. ; conditions favoring revolt, 
237 ; how it is intensified, 242 ; 
true nature of the revolt, 252, etc. ; 
how will it end, 254 , significance 
of, for Europe, 261 ; federalistic 
character of, 256 ; hostile to em- 
pire, 259. 

Rights, personal, 86. 

Rousseau, 156. 

Russia, a country apart, 8 ; country 
of plains, 9 ; early territory, 10 ; 
Tatar period of, 12, 13 ; climactic 
life of, 57 ; united, 101 ; European- 
ized, 148, 152, 153 ; sadness of, 
187 ; music, 191 ; youth of, 260 ; 
future population, 260. 

Russians, mental powers and char- 
acteristics of, 17, 66-68 ; lingual 
capacity, 17-19 ; receptivity, 17 ; 
migrant character, 33 ; lack sen- 
timent of place, 52 ; political hu- 
miliation, 54 ; individuality, 59 ; 
intellect, 65 ; sadness, 188-190 ; 
versatility, 188. 

Ryliev, 167,171. 

Ryssakov, 209. 

Saltykov, Prince, 234. 

Samara, 39. 

Samovar, manufacture, 39. 

Saratov, population of, 39. 

Sassulich, Vyera, shoots Trepov, 205. 

Schelling, 156. 

Schiller, 156. 

Schuyler, cited, 15, 16. 

Sects, 21, 139-141. 

Serf, enslavement of, 101 ; emanci- 
pation of, 157, 196, 240. 

Servility, appearance of, 104, 105. 

Shevchenko, 255. 

Siberia, 20, 210, 218, 242, 249. 

Siesta, 31. 

Simon, St., 159, 194. 

Slav race, 9 ; colonies, 12 ; teeth, 
vision, physical powers, 16 ; de- 
velopment, 17 ; migration, 20 ; 
enterprise, 39 ; residences, 49 ; 
characteristics, 49 ; mythology, 
60 ; altruism, 81 ; intolerance of 
rulers, 86 ; family, 86 ; golden age, 

Slavophilism, 172-176, 194. 

Slavs, 8, 11, 16, 19, 20 ; of the Dan- 
ube, 35 ; without houses, 35 ; liv- 
ing in Oppida, 36 ; modern habi- 
tations of, 49 ; proposed federa- 
tion of, 177. 

Slavyans, 81. 

Socialism, 157, 194. 

Societies, 166, 167, 195. 

Society, characteristics of Russian, 

Solovetsky, insurrection at, 135 ; fall 
of, 136. 

Soloviev, 9, 10. 

Spitting, a Slav habit, 32 ; its origin, 
32, 33. 

Spring, effects of, 59. 

State, the new, 106. 

Steppe, 7. S 

Stryeltsy, rising and extirpation of, 
138, 151. 

Students, 18, 23, 156, 164, 207, 238. 

Tatar influence, 13 ; names and 
nouns, 14 ; customs, 14 ; domina- 
tion, 108. 

Tatars, 12, 23, 39, 83, 131. 

Tax - gatherer, impositions of, 105, 

Tea, 30, 31. 

Terem, abolition of, 148. 

Third Section, 206, 207. 

Tolstoi, Leo, 184, 185, 199. 

Torture, sanctioned by Russian 
code, 103 ; of prisoners, 246. 

Town life, 37 ; populations, 43-45. 

Towns, character and growth of, 
44 ; their appearance, 46, 47, 71. 

Travel, migratory character of, 23 ; 
natural to natives, 23 ; encour- 
aged by railway freaks, 24. 

Tsar, 13. 



Taarisra, popular superstitions con- 
cerning, 254. 
Tsaritsyn, 39, 40. 
Tula, 39. 
Turanians, 10. 
Turgeniev, 15, 155, 184. 
Tyranny, fiscal, 56 j domestic, 115. 

Urals, 8. 

Urban life, insignificance of, 37, etc. 

Uvarov,169, 170. 

Vagabond hunting, 22. 
Varegs, 87, 88, 90. 
V*ch<5, 87, 88, 89, 91, 92, 99, 176. 
Vereshchagin, 17. 
Viatka, 48, 88; 

Village life, beggarliness of, 70. 
Vladimir, 82, 108. 

Volga, commerce on, 39; burlaki 
and songs, 187 ; propaganda along, 


Voronezh, congress at, 208. 

Wandering, habit of, 21 ; its modern 
forms, 22. 

West, influence of, 145. 

Western ideas, fear of, 164. 

Westerns, 174. — 

Winter, its aspects and appeal to 
the imagination, 58, 59 ; a despot- 
ism, 62 ; enemy of Mongolism, 65. 

Womenv-72, 73, 74 ; punishment of, 
103 ; characteristics, 144 ; devo- 
tion of , 112; treatment and posi- 
tion, 113, 114, 115, 117; relation 
to husband, 115 ; distrusted by 
church, 116 ; chastiseinent of , sanc- 
tioned and enjoined, 118 ; seclu- 
sion of, 121,122', at Moscow, 123; 
ignorance, 123 ; proverbs regard- 
ing, 123, 124 ; influence of in sects, 
144 ; emancipation of, 147 ; con- 
dition of, in 1843, 159 ; eccentrici- 
ties of, 159. 

Zemlya i Volya, 207, 209. 
Zheliabov, 209 ; sketch of, 225, etc. ; 

executed, 209. 
Zhukovsky, 155. 

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