Skip to main content

Full text of "Russia of the Russians"

See other formats


Google 


This  is  a  digital  copy  of  a  book  lhal  w;ls  preserved  for  general  ions  on  library  shelves  before  il  was  carefully  scanned  by  Google  as  pari  of  a  project 

to  make  the  world's  books  discoverable  online. 

Il  has  survived  long  enough  for  the  copyright  to  expire  and  the  book  to  enter  the  public  domain.  A  public  domain  book  is  one  thai  was  never  subject 

to  copy  right  or  whose  legal  copyright  term  has  expired.  Whether  a  book  is  in  the  public  domain  may  vary  country  to  country.  Public  domain  books 

are  our  gateways  to  the  past,  representing  a  wealth  of  history,  culture  and  knowledge  that's  often  dillicull  lo  discover. 

Marks,  notations  and  other  marginalia  present  in  the  original  volume  will  appear  in  this  file  -  a  reminder  of  this  book's  long  journey  from  the 

publisher  lo  a  library  and  linally  lo  you. 

Usage  guidelines 

Google  is  proud  lo  partner  with  libraries  lo  digili/e  public  domain  materials  and  make  them  widely  accessible.  Public  domain  books  belong  to  the 
public  and  we  are  merely  their  custodians.  Nevertheless,  this  work  is  expensive,  so  in  order  lo  keep  providing  this  resource,  we  have  taken  steps  to 
prevent  abuse  by  commercial  panics,  including  placing  Icchnical  restrictions  on  automated  querying. 
We  also  ask  that  you: 

+  Make  n  on -commercial  use  of  the  files  We  designed  Google  Book  Search  for  use  by  individuals,  and  we  request  thai  you  use  these  files  for 
personal,  non -commercial  purposes. 

+  Refrain  from  automated  querying  Do  not  send  automated  queries  of  any  sort  lo  Google's  system:  If  you  are  conducting  research  on  machine 
translation,  optical  character  recognition  or  other  areas  where  access  to  a  large  amount  of  text  is  helpful,  please  contact  us.  We  encourage  the 
use  of  public  domain  materials  for  these  purposes  and  may  be  able  to  help. 

+  Maintain  attribution  The  Google  "watermark"  you  see  on  each  lile  is  essential  for  informing  people  about  this  project  and  helping  them  find 
additional  materials  through  Google  Book  Search.  Please  do  not  remove  it. 

+  Keep  it  legal  Whatever  your  use.  remember  that  you  are  responsible  for  ensuring  that  what  you  are  doing  is  legal.  Do  not  assume  that  just 
because  we  believe  a  book  is  in  the  public  domain  for  users  in  the  United  States,  that  the  work  is  also  in  the  public  domain  for  users  in  other 

countries.  Whether  a  book  is  slill  in  copyright  varies  from  country  lo  country,  and  we  can'l  offer  guidance  on  whether  any  specific  use  of 
any  specific  book  is  allowed.  Please  do  not  assume  that  a  book's  appearance  in  Google  Book  Search  means  it  can  be  used  in  any  manner 
anywhere  in  the  world.  Copyright  infringement  liability  can  be  quite  severe. 

About  Google  Book  Search 

Google's  mission  is  to  organize  the  world's  information  and  to  make  it  universally  accessible  and  useful.  Google  Book  Search  helps  readers 
discover  the  world's  books  while  helping  authors  and  publishers  reach  new  audiences.  You  can  search  through  I  lie  lull  lexl  of  1 1  us  book  on  I  lie  web 
al|_-.:. :.-.-::  /  /  books  .  qooqle  .  com/| 


r 


^m 


wmmm 


/ 


/'- 


r  /     / 


Russia  of  the  Russians 


f 


COUNTRIES  AND   PEOPLES 
SERIES 

Each  in  imperial   16mo,  cloth  gilt, 
gilt    top.     With    about    30    full-page 
plate  illustrations. 

Italy  of  the  Italians. 

By  Helen  Zimmern. 
France  of  the  French. 

By  E.  Harrison  Barker. 
Switzerland  of  the  Swiss. 

By  Frank  Webb. 
Spain  of  the  Spanish. 

By  Mrs.  J.  Villiers-Wardell. 
Germany  of  the  Germans. 

By  Robert  M.  Berry. 
Turkey  of  the  Ottomans. 

By  Lucy  M.  J.  Garnett. 
Belgium  of  the  Belgians. 

By  Demetrius  C.  Boulger. 
Holland  of  the  Dutch. 

By  Demetrius  C.  Boulger. 
Japan  of  the  Japanese. 

By  Prof.  J.  H.  Longford. 
Servia  of  the  Servians. 

By  Chedo  Mijatovich. 
Austria    of    the    Austrians    and 
Hungary  of  the  Hungarians. 
By  L.  Kellner,  Paula  Arnold, 
and  A.  L.  Delisle. 
Greece  of  the  Hellenes. 

By  Lucy  M.  J.  Garnett. 

Other  Volumes  in  preparation 


\ 
\ 

\ 


Russia  of  the  Russians 


By 

Harold  vWhitmore)  Williams,  Ph.D. 


NEW  YORK 

CHARLES  SCRIBNER'S  SONS 

597-599  Fifth  Avenue 

'9*5 


0>K 

3X 
•W75 
1315 


/ZL-f-Zsr 


The  slow  way  wanders  to  the  distant  sky, 

The  pale  sun  sinks  to  his  grey  dreams  of  rest ; 

The  shadows  fall,  and  faint  the  hope  that  1 
May  win  the  goal  beyond  the  fading  west. 

But  from  the  greyness  light  rose,  and  sweet  sound 
Called  me  to  linger  on  the  endless  plain ; 

Summoned  swift  powers  from  unseen  heights  around, 
Breathed  forth  a  home,  made  lone  ways  live  again. 

Sighs  mount  to  song,  light  in  the  shadow  lies, 
And  the  wild  plain  is  mated  with  the  skies. 


0 


CONTENTS 


CHAP.  PAGE 

I.  THE  GROWTH  OF  RUSSIA   .            .                        .            .  1 

II.  THE  BUREAUCRACY  AND  THE  CONSTITUTION             .  52 

III.  THE  PRESS 99 

IV.  THE  INTELLIGENTSIA 127 

V.  CHURCH  AND  PEOPLE  .  .    '        .  .  .138 

VI.  LITERATURE 178 

VII.  MUSIC 228 

VIII.  THE  THEATRE 268 

IX.  PAINTING 291 

X.  ARCHITECTURE 324 

XI.  PEASANTS  AND  PROPRIETORS       ....  332 

XII.  TRADE  AND  INDUSTRY 373 

XIII.  IN  THE  CHIEF  CITY 389 

INDEX 425 


274746 


LIST  OF  ILLUSTRATIONS 


HAULAGE  ON  THE  VOLGA    . 

H.I.M.    NICHOLAS  II      . 

MOSCOW — THE   KREMLIN       . 

THE  EMPRESS  AND  THE  TSAREVICH 

THE  IMPERIAL  DUMA 

M.   STOLYPIN       .... 

A.   I.   GUCHKOV 

M.   VLADIMIR   KOKOVSTEV    . 

A  FIFTEENTH  CENTURY  VILLAGE  CHURCH,  PAPERTNO 

THE  METROPOLITAN   VLADIMIR  OF  ST.    PETERSBURG 

ST.   JOHN   BAPTIST  CHURCH,   UGLICH 

ANTON   CHEHOV 

MAXIM   GORKY  .... 

ALEXANDER  BLOK 

ALEKSEI   REMIZOV 

VILLAGERS   DANCING 

MODEST  MUSORGSKY  . 

ALEXANDER  SKRIABIN 

M.   SOBINOV         .... 

M.  V.   DAVYDOV 

VERA  KOMMISSARZHEVSKAIA 

K.   STANISLAVSKY 

MICHAEL  VRUBEL 

ADMIRALTY  ARCH,   ST.   PETERSBURG 

PEASANTS  IN  THE  HOME      . 

THE  CHILDREN  OF  THE   VILLAGE 

A  NORTH  RUSSIAN  VILLAGE 

ZEMSTVO   STATISTICIANS  AMONG  THE   PEASANTRY 

A  RUSSIAN  COUNTRY  GENTLEMAN    (OLD  TYPE) 

WOODFELLING  IN  A   FOREST  IN   VOLOGDA  GOVERNMENT 

THE  ENGLISH  QUAY,   ST.   PETERSBURG 

ST.   PETERSBURG — THE   NEVSKY  PROSPECT 


Frontispiece 

6 

24 

48 

72 

76 

84 

96 

144 

154 

160 

186 

192 

212 

216 

230 

246 

260 

266 

270 

278 

286 

310 

330 

336 

338 

346 

352 

364 

374 

404 

418 


IX 


RUSSIA  OF  THE  RUSSIANS 


CHAPTER  I 

THE  GROWTH  OF  RUSSIA 

The*  fundamental  difference  between  Russian  and  English 
history  is  the  difference  between  the  great  plain  and  the 

island.    English  history  tells  of  the  upbuild- 

tt^Makinff1      *nS  ^y  an  ^an^  people  of  the  greatest  maritime 

empire  in  the  world.  Russian  history  tells 
how  a  people  whose  original  home  lay  between  the  slopes  of 
the  Carpathians  and  the  Dnieper  gradually,  with  toil,  pain 
and  effort,  secured  possession  of  the  greatest  plain  in  the 
world  and  so  created  the  broadest  of  land  empires.  There 
are  curious  analogies,  striking  points  of  resemblance  in  the 
process  of  empire-building  in  both  countries.  But  the  funda- 
mental difference  between  the  island  and  the  plain,  between 
a  sea  and  a  land  empire  makes  itself  constantly  felt,  and 
largely  accounts  for  striking  differences  between  the  two 
nations  in  character,  social  structure  and  political  development. 

The  island  constitutes  a  secure  physical  basis  for  national 
effort.  It  guarantees  seclusion  and  privacy.  It  renders 
intercourse  with  the  outside  world  dependent  far  less  on  the 
will  of  outsiders  than  on  the  islanders  themselves.  The 
island  nation  is  largely  protected  against  outside  interference. 
It  is  in  a  much  better  position  than  continental  nations  to  con- 
centrate its  energies  on  questions  of  internal  development. 
Its  social  structure  is  compact  and  highly  organised.  Imperial 
expansion  beyond  the  seas  does  not  alter  the  essential  charac- 
teristics of  the  structure,  it  only  throws  them  into  greater 
relief.  In  thinking  of  the  British  Empire  one  thinks  primarily 
and  mainly  of  England.     In  considering  the  Russian  Empire 

1 


2  Russia  of  the  Russians 

one's  thoughts  range  over  a  wide  geographical  area,  and  do 
not  readily  concentrate  on  a  given  point.  British  expansion 
is  a  radiation,  while  Russian  expansion  is  a  gradual  diffusion, 
And  while  the  position  of  England  on  an  island  base  has 
made  it  possible  to  maintain  a  fairly  constant  equilibrium 
between  social  development  and  internal  expansion,  Russian 
social  development  has  been  perpetually  subordinated,  most 
frequently  sacrificed,  to  the  inexorable  necessity  of  extending 
the  political  frontier  further  and  further  until  the  natural 
barriers  of  sea  and  mountain  were  reached.  Thus,  though  the 
history  of  Russian  political  evolution  runs  almost  parallel 
with  that  of  the  British  Empire,  England  has  enjoyed  a  large 
measure  of  political  liberty  for  centuries,  while  Russia  is  only 
now  making  her  first  experiments  in  constitutional  govern- 
ment, and  Russian  backwardness  in  the  matter  of  political 
institutions  and  social  initiative  is  largely  to  be  accounted 
for  by  the  position  of  the  Russian  people  on  the  great  plain. 

The  plain  that  constitutes  the  arena  of  Russian  historical 
effort  extends  from  the  Baltic  and  the  Prussian  and  Austrian 
frontiers  across  Eastern  Europe  and  Western  Asia  in  one 
vast  sweep,  broken  only  by  the  low  range  of  the  Urals.  It 
is  bounded  on  the  North  by  the  White  Sea  and  the  Arctic 
Ocean,  on  the  South  by  the  Black  Sea,  the  Caucasus  and  the 
Kopet  Dagh  range  on  the  Persian  frontier,  and  on  the  East 
reaches  a  limit  in  the  Pamirs,  the  Tian-Shan  and  Altai  ranges 
and  the  mountainous  region  beyond  the  Yenisei.  The  plain 
is  not  absolutely  level.  There  are  hills,  undulations,  stretches 
of  broken  country.  A  map  indicating  altitude  above  sea- 
level  displays  in  different  regions  of  Russia  various  shades, 
but  these  shades  will  all  be  of  the  same  colour.  No  point 
in  the  plain  has  an  altitude  of  more  than  1,400  feet.  The 
Russian  landscape  gives  the  impression  of  boundless  space  ; 
it  constantly  beckons,  as  the  sea  does,  to  far  horizons,  only 
that  the  soil  again  and  again  tempts  to  linger,  to  settle  and 
to  build.  The  spirit  that  sent  Vikings  and  Englishmen  roving 
across  the  green  expanse  of  the  sea  has  caused  scores  of  peoples 


The  Growth  of  Russia  3 

to  go  wandering  over  the  plain.  But  in  the  end  they  turned 
their  tents  into  huts  ;  they  naturally  inclined  to  settle  along 
the  great  avenues  of  communication,  on  the  banks  of  the 
rivers  that  thread  their  way  through  swamp,  forest  and 
steppe  to  the  limiting  seas. 

There  are  in  European  Russia  three  great  highway-rivers, 
the  Volga,  the  Dnieper  and  the  Western  Dvina.    They  take 

their  rise  in  the  marshy  region  of  Central 

THiehwa7r    Russia  to  the  North-West  of  Moscow,  and 

flow  long  slow  versts  across  the  plain,  the 
first  to  the  Caspian,  the  second  to  the  Black  Sea,  and  the 
third  to  the  Baltic.  The  course  of  these  rivers  indicates  the 
chief  lines  of  human  intercourse,  those  great  trade  routes 
that  give  the  principal  stimulus  to  social  development  and 
to  the  organisation  and  growth  of  political  communities  on 
the  plain.  The  limitless  expanse  is  a  constant  appeal  to  go 
on  somewhither,  it  awakens  a  spirit  of  restless  adventure. 
But  it  is  the  rivers  that  tell  whither  to  go  and  why,  and  the 
rivers  that  take  their  winding  course  across  European  Russia 
constitute  a  highway  between  North-Western  Europe  and 
the  Caspian  and  the  Middle  East,  and  again  between  North- 
Western  Europe  and  the  Black  Sea  basin  and  Constantinople, 
that  is  to  say,  the  Near  East.  There  are  no  high  watersheds 
between  the  rivers.  Frequently  two  basins  are -separated 
by  only  a  few  miles  of  gently  undulating  country,  and  boats 
can  easily  be  conveyed  from  one  to  the  other  overland.  These 
great  waterways  are  thus  open  roads  across  the  »Continent, 
and  those  who  live  along  the  banks  of  the  rivers  necessarily 
become  intermediaries  between  East  and  West. 

In  winter  the  rivers  are  frozen  hard,  and  the  plain  in  all 
its  vast  extent  from  Odessa  to  Archangel,  and  from  the  Pamirs 
to  the  Baltic,  is  covered  with  a  sheet  ofr  snow.  Winter  does 
not  paralyse  human  effort  on  the  plain,  but  circumscribes  it, 
concentrates  it  within  definite  limits.  Summer  is  the  time 
for  roving,  for  active  intercourse  with  the  wide  world,  in  the 
form  of  trading  or  military  expeditions.    Winter  encourages 


4  Russia  of  the  Russians 

settlement,  the  accumulation  of  the  products  of  the  summer's 
toil,  indoor  life,  home  industries,  communal  organisation, 
the  growth  of  villages  and  towns.  Winter  is  the  period  of 
repose  for  nature  and  men,  and  it  is  the  repose  of  winter  that 
makes  the  activity  of  the  summer  possible.  Then  the  long 
winter  has  a  profound  effect  on  character.  It  causes  a  relaxa- 
tion of  effort,  leads  to  apathy  and  inertness,  and  in  any  case 
necessitates  a  complete  change  of  occupation.  To  till  the 
soil  is  out  of  the  question  while  the  snow  lies  on  the  ground. 
The  place  of  agriculture  is  taken  by  forestry,  by  hunting, 
or  by  home  industries.  The  melting  in  spring  of  the  snows 
that  cover  the  greater  part  of  two  continents  fertilises  the  soil, 
fills  the  rivers  to  overflowing  with  water,  and  provokes  a 
sudden  exuberant  uprush  of  vegetation.  Agriculture  and 
commerce  on  the  plain  are  dependent  on  the  sharp  contrast 
between  winter  and  summer. 

It  is  this  natural  environment — so  different  from  the  snug 
compactness  of  an  island  with  an  even  temperate  climate — 
that  determines  the  main  lines  of  Russian  historical  develop- 
ment. The  thousand  odd  years  of  Russian  history  show 
how  a  people  living  on  the  South-West  corner  of  the  plain 
learned  the  plain's  secret,  discovered  its  rhythm,  its  steady 
alternation  between  relaxation  and  effort,  between  movement 
and  repose,  gradually  secured  possession  of  the  overland 
trade-routes  and,  step  by  step,  transforming  commercial 
advantage  into  political  power,  finally  subdued  all  its  rivals 
and  created  an  Empire  whose  limits  are  nearly  everywhere 
coterminous  with  those  of  the  plain,  while  in  the  Caucasus 
and  Siberia  they  overpass  them. 

For  several  centuries  before  the  beginnings  of  Russian 
history,  the  Southern  Steppes  of  Russia  were  occupied  by 

Scythians  and  Sarmatians,  of  the  life  and 

Early  History,    habits   of   the   former   of   whom    Herodotus 

has  left  a  vivid  account.  Greek  colonies 
occupied  various  points  along  the  shores  of  the  Black  Sea, 
and  excavations  on  the  sites  of  these  colonies  have  yielded 


The  Growth  of  Russia  5 

rich  treasure,  a  large  proportion  of  which  now  adorns 
Russian  museums,  and  serves  to  show  how  strongly  beat 
the  pulse  of  Greek  civilisation  even  in  the  Euxine  region 
on  the  confines  of  the  kingdoms  of  the  barbarians.  The 
Sarmatians  were  probably  of  Iranian  stock,  and  a  remnant 
of  their  descendants  is  to  be  found  in  the  Ossetines  in  the 
Northern  Caucasus.  Who  the  Scythians  were  is  not  very 
clear.  Perhaps  they  were  in  the  main  Iranian,  and  perhaps 
there  were  Slav  tribes  among  those  whom  the  Greek  writers 
included  under  the  general  designation.  That  Slavs  and 
Iranians  were  at  one  time  in  close  contact  is  clear  from 
linguistic  evidence.  The  centre  of  the  original  home  of  the 
Slavs  was  in  the  marshy  basin  of  the  Pripet  in  the  south  of 
the  present  Government  of  Minsk,  and  probably  the  White 
Russians  who  inhabit  Minsk  and  the  neighbouring  Govern- 
ments more  nearly  represent  the  original  Slavonic  type  than 
any  other  people.  To  the  north  of  the  Scythians  in  the  forest 
region  bordering  on  the  steppe  were  Finnish  tribes — the 
Western  Finns,  whose  modern  representatives  are  the  natives 
of  Finland  and  Esthonia,  being  gradually  driven  northward 
by  the  movements  of  Germanic  and  Slavonic  peoples.  The 
Goths  came  down  from  the  north  before  the  Christian  era, 
occupied  for  a  time  the  basin  of  the  Vistula,  moved  southward 
to  the  Danube  and  in  the  third  century  a.d.  held  sway  in  the 
West  of  the  steppes. 

Russian  history  begins  with  the  creation  in  the  ninth 
century  of  the  State  of  Kiev.    Up  till  then  the  Slav  tribes, 

settled  along  the  upper  reaches  of  the  Dnieper 
Kiev.  and  its  tributaries  and  along  the  banks   of 

other  rivers  as  far  north  as  Lake  Ilmen,  had 
not  reached  the  stage  of  organised  political  life,  although 
here  and  there  they  seem  to  have  erected  forts  and  even  towns. 
Their  position  on  the  trade  route  between  the  Baltic  and 
the  Black  Sea  gave  them  certain  advantages  as  intermediaries, 
but  also  exposed  them  to  attack.  In  the  ninth  century  about 
the  time  when  King  Alfred  was  engaged  in  his  struggle  with 


6  Russia  of  the  Russians 

the  Danes,  Germanic  freebooters  known  as  Variags  or  Var- 
engers  captured  the  Slav  town  of  Kiev.  It  is  not  absolutely 
certain  who  these  Variags  were.  They  may  possibly  have 
been  Gothic  pirates  from  settlements  on  the  Black  Sea  coast 
— remnants  of  the  Gothic  State  in  the  Southern  steppes  which 
had  been  broken  up  by  the  Hunns.  But  it  is  more  probable 
that  the  invaders  were  Northmen  who  had  penetrated  into 
the  interior  from  the  Baltic  by  way  of  the  Neva,  Lake  Ladoga, 
the  river  Volkhovo,  Novgorod,  Lake  Ilmen  and  the  rivers 
leading  thence  to  the  tributaries  of  the  Dnieper.  These 
bands  of  adventurers  led,  as  the  annals  say,  by  a  chief  named 
Rurik,  subjugated  the  dwellers  along  the  river  banks,  and 
seizing  Kiev,  which,  owing  to  its  position  at  the  confluence  of 
several  rivers,  was  an  important  trading  and  political  centre, 
made  the  first  attempt  to  weld  these  scattered  Slav  tribes 
into  a  political  whole.  The  Variags,  or  as  they  were  also  called, 
Rus  or  Russians,  made  plundering  excursions  across  the 
Eastern  steppes  by  way  of  the  kingdom  of  the  Khazars — a 
Turkish  people  whose  rulers  had  adopted  Judaism — to  the 
Caspian  and  to  Northern  Persia,  and  also  down  the  Dnieper 
and  across  the  Black  Sea  to  the  very  walls  of  Constantinople. 
The  rule  of  the  Variags  was  hard,  but  it  benefited  the  Slavs. 
It  established  order,  promoted  trade,  and  provided  protection 
against  the  attacks  of  the  nomad  hordes  who  were  constantly 
making  their  way  from  Asia  into  the  rich  pastures  of  the 
steppes.  And  the  Variags  very  soon  ceased  to  be  foreigners 
and  became  Slavs  in  speech  and  habits.  The  early  rulers 
of  the  Kiev  state,  Rurik's  successors,  the  Princes  Oleg, 
Igor  and  Sviatoslav  and  the  Princess  Olga,  made  the  neigh- 
bouring Slav  tribes  groan  by  their  forcible  extortion  of  tribute, 
but  at  the  same  time  Olga,  for  instance,  defended  Kiev  against 
the  Khazars  and  Sviatoslav  and  his  successors  against  another 
Turkish  people  called  the  Pechenegs,  known  in  Byzantine 
history  as  Patzinaks,  while  during  the  eleventh  and  twelfth 
centuries  the  energies  of  the  princes  of  Kiev  were  engaged 
in  warding  off  the  attacks  of  the  Torks  and  Polovians,  also 


H.I.M.    NICHOLAS   II 

i  the  uniform  ol  an   English  Admiral) 


(^) 


The  Growth  of  Russia  7 

Turkish  peoples,  a  section  of  whom  finally  settled  in  central 
Hungary. 

Christianity  was  adopted  in  988  as  the  State  religion  by 
Prince  Vladimir,  the  son  of  Sviatoslav.    The  missionaries 

came  from  Constantinople,  with  which  the 
C^o*tSty  Russians  had  for  a  considerable  time  pre- 
viously maintained  commercial  and  political 
relations.  Russian  marauders  had  more  than  once  ravaged 
the  precincts  of  the  Great  City.  Uncouth  Russian  envoys 
had  frequently  stood  side  by  side  with  the  envoys  of  other 
barbarian  peoples  of  the  steppes,  with  Khazars  and  Pechenegs, 
shy  and  overawed  amidst  the  dazzling  splendours  of  the 
Imperial  Court.  Princess  Olga  had  visited  the  city  during 
the  reign  of  Constantine  Porphyrogenitos,  and  had  concluded 
with  the  Greeks  commercial  treaties.  Sviatoslav,  Vladimir's 
father,  had,  at  the  instigation  of  the  Greeks,  invaded  Bulgaria 
at  the  head  of  an  army  of  60,000  men,  and  had  crossed  the 
Balkans  into  Thrace.  But  the  Greeks  turned  against  him, 
and  he  was  in  the  end  defeated  by  the  Emperor  John 
Tzimiskes  on  the  Danube.  The  city  constantly  attracted 
the  Russians  ;  they  coveted  it,  and  the  Balkan  question,  the 
question  of  the  watch  and  ward  over  the  straits  on  which 
Constantinople  stands,  the  straits  that  lead  out  into  the 
Mediterranean  and  the  wide  world  beyond,  has  been  vital 
for  Russia  from  the  very  earliest  period  of  her  history. 

The  step  taken  by  VlacLimir  in  adopting  Christianity  as 
the  State  religion  had  consequences  of  immense  importance. 
Byzantine  culture  had  a  powerful  rival  in  that  Perso-Arabic 
civilisation,  which  had  its  centre  at  Bagdad,  and  held  sway 
over  Mesopotamia  and  the  Middle  East.  The  Arabs  took  a 
considerable  share  in  the  trade  of  the  great  plain,  and  in  this 
way  maintained  intercourse  with  the  Russians.  It  is  not 
improbable  that,  as  a  legend  indicates,  Vladimir  may  have 
weighed  in  his  mind  the  possibility  of  adopting  Islam  as  a 
symbol  of  civilisation  and  political  progress,  just  as  the  rulers 
of  the  Khazars  from  similar  motives  had  adopted  Judaism. 

2 — (2400) 


8  Russia  of  the  Russians 

But  Vladimir  chose  Christianity,  and  so  set  his  face  westward 
and  linked  the  fortunes  of  the  Russian  State  with  those 
great  forces  and  tendencies  which  have  produced  modern 
civilisation. 

The  adoption  of  Christianity  was  of  great  immediate 
importance  for  the  Russian  State.  It  strengthened  the 
monarchical  principle  and  led  to  the  introduction  of  Byzantine 
book-learning  and  Byzantine  administrative  methods. 
Vladimir  was  an  ardent  promoter  of  learning  and  the  arts, 
he  succeeded  in  throwing  a  poetical  glamour  over  the  con- 
ception of  the  state,  and  in  the  hold  he  gained  on  the  popular 
imagination — the  folk-songs  are  full  of  the  praise  of  Vladimir, 
the  "  Bright  Sun  " — he  may  very  well  be  compared  with 
Alfred. 

But  the  new  social  and  political  ideas  introduced  from 
Byzantium  were  subjected  to  severe  stress  and  strain,  were 
scattered  by  violent  winds  of  misfortune  across  the  plain, 
and  took  centuries  to  mature  and  to  become  embodied  in  a 
powerful  State.  The  territory  inhabited  by  those  Slav  tribes, 
who  acknowledged  more  or  less  effectively  the  sovereign 
rights  of  Vladimir  and  his  descendants,  extended  over  the 
northern  fringe  of  the  steppe  region  as  far  as  the  Western 
Bug  and  the  Dnieper  on  the  West ;  and  on  the  East  as  far 
as  the  upper  reaches  of  the  Don.  To  the  north,  in  the  forest 
region,  it  extended  beyond  Lake  Ladoga,  and  here  again  on 
the  west  it  was  bounded  by  an  irregular  line  running  from 
about  where  Dorpat  now  stands  to  the  neighbourhood  of 
Vilna,  and  on  the  east  it  extended  as  far  as  Nizhni-Novgorod 
at  the  junction  of  the  Oka  and  the  Volga.  But  nominal 
extent  of  territory  was  by  no  means  coincident  with  extent 
of  power.  Rivalries  between  various  regions  and  princes 
weakened  the  central  authority,  and  the  practice  of  dividing 
up  territory  among  members  of  the  princely  house  of  Rurik 
led  to  constant  bickering  and  feuds.  Custom  had  established 
that  the  senior  member  of  the  family  should  occupy  the 
throne  of  Kiev,  the  other  principalities  going  to  the  other 


The  Growth  of  Russia  9 

members  of  the  house  of  Rurik  in  order  of  age.  But  the 
senior  might  be  passed  over  in  favour  of  the  ablest,  and,  in 
an  age  when  firmness  of  will  and  strength  of  arm  were  the 
first  requisites  in  a  ruler,  might  very  easily  have  supplanted 
complicated  and  cumbrous  right  and  made  confusion  worse 
confounded.  The  various  appanages  of  the  descendants  of 
Vladimir  became  small  and  practically  independent  princi- 
palities, and  the  strength  of  the  "  Russian  Land "  was 
frittered  away  in  petty  dynastic  conflicts.  It  became 
increasingly  difficult  to  offer  an  effective  resistance  to  the 
incursions  of  the  nomads  who  occupied  the  Southern  and 
Eastern  steppes.  The  political  power  of  Kiev  steadily 
declined.  Novgorod  and  Pskov  in  the  north  were  practically 
independent  merchant  republics.  In  the  twelfth  and 
thirteenth  centuries  the  Galicio-Volhynian  principality  in 
the  west  displayed  a  tendency  to  assume  the  power  that 
Kiev  was  letting  fall  from  her  hands.  The  constant  pressure 
of  the  nomads  on  the  fringe  of  the  steppe  region  stimulated 
a  colonising  movement  to  the  North-East,  to  the  region 
between  the  Volga  and  the  Oka,  where  the  Slavs  mingled  with 
the  Finns,  forming  a  new  type  known  as  the  Great  Russian. 
The  princes  of  this  region  grew  more  powerful  in  proportion 
as  the  prestige  of  Kiev  declined,  and  when  Kiev  fell  the 
strongest  ruler  of  the  North-East,  the  Grand  Prince  of  Vladimir 
on  the  Kliazma,  became  the  overlord  of  the  Russian  princes. 
The  Kiev  period,  which  lasted  from  the  end  of  the  ninth 
to  the  beginning  of  the  thirteenth  century,  may  be  regarded 
as  a  preliminary  survey  of  the  field  of  Russian  historical 
effort,  a  kind  of  feeling  of  the  ground,  the  drafting  of  a  rough 
sketch  or  plan.  It  was  a  period  of  happy  guesses,  of  brilliant 
suggestions.  The  spirit  of  the  plain  was  in  it,  the  spirit  of 
expansion  and' heroic  adventure.  For  the  Russian  of  the 
Kiev  period  the  world  was  wide  and  full  of  wonder,  and  the 
tasks  it  presented  were  of  fascinating  variety.  The  political 
and  social  system  was  ill  organised  and  loosely  developed. 
In  the  towns  the  merchant  class  was  dominant,  the  Prince 


10  Russia  of  the  Russians 

and  his  personal  followers,  his  band  or  druzhina,  maintained 
order,  and  only  gradually  transformed  their  military  energy 
into  political  power.  The  clan  system  prevailed,  the  blood- 
feud  was  common,  slavery  existed  but  in  a  comparatively 
mild  form.  Popular  assemblies,  in  which  the  heads  of  the 
clans  took  part,  largely  controlled  the  administration. 

But  within  this  loose  and  primitive  social  and  political 
organisation  the  elements  of  a  higher  order  were  actively 
present.  Christianity  not  only  reformed  manners  and  pro- 
moted learning,  it  brought  with  it  from  Byzantium  legislative 
and  administrative  conceptions  which  became  powerful 
motive  forces  in  Russian  history.  By  asserting  the  principle 
of  the  sanctity  of  monarchical  authority  it  greatly  increased 
the  prestige  and  the  power  of  the  princes.  And  by  marking 
off  the  Russians  from  their  neighbours  as  a  distinctly  Christian 
people  it  strengthened  and  deepened  national  feeling.  The 
Orthodox  Christianity  of  Byzantium  assumed  under  Yaroslav, 
the  son  of  Vladimir,  a  specifically  Russian  character.  Christian 
doctrine,  Christian  tradition,  were  not  merely  translated  from 
Greek  into  Slavonic,  they  became  the  predominant,  the  vital 
and  the  distinctive  elements  in  a  rich  world  of  popular  belief. 
But  they  were  modified  in  the  process,  they  became  Russian. 
Christian  sentiment  reinforced  national  sentiment.  To  be 
a  Russian  meant  to  be  a  Christian,  and  the  struggle  for  national 
existence  against  pagan  or  Mohammedan  neighbours  received 
a  religious  sanction.  Christianity  was  an  important  element 
in  that  conception  of  the  fundamental  unity  of  the  different 
sections  of  the  Russian  people,  which  steadily  grew  and 
developed  in  spite  of  fierce  attacks  from  without,  and  even 
more  dangerous  internecine  strife.  This  sense  of  national 
unity,  powerful  as  it  was  in  the  Kiev  Period,  did  not  then 
avail  to  establish  an  effective  and  unitary  political  organisation. 
It  bore  its  fruits  only  in  the  Moscow  Period. 

In  the  Kiev  Period,  too,  the  Russians  realised  something 
of  the  extent  of  the  world  in  which  they  were  to  play  their 
part.     They  maintained  constant  intercourse  with  Byzantium, 


The  Growth  of  Russia  11 

which  was  a  meeting-place  for  representatives  of  all  parts 
of  the  civilised  world.  The  most  westerly  of  the  Russian 
principalities  of  this  period,  Galich,  at  one  time  extended  as 
far  as  the  mouth  of  the  Danube,  and  its  chief  connections 
were  with  a  semi-barbarous  Hungary  and  with  the  Slav  states 
of  Bohemia  and  Poland  on  the  north  and  north-west. 
Yaroslav  the  Great,  the  son  of  Vladimir,  in  whose  reign  the 
Kiev  state  reached  the  zenith  of  its  power,  married  a  Swedish 
princess  and  Scandinavians  were  prominent  at  his  court. 
His  sister  was  married  to  Casimir,  King  of  Poland,  one  of 
his  daughters  to  Henry  I  of  France,  and  another  to  King 
Andrew  of  Hungary,  and  there  is  also  mention  of  a  connection 
by  marriage  between  Yaroslav  and  English  princes.  On 
the  west  the  Russians  had  to  deal  with  Lithuanians,  on  the 
north  and  north-east  with  Finnish  tribes,  and  in  the  south 
and  south-east  with  nomads  of  Turkish  race.  From  the 
latter  the  Russians  borrowed  many  customs  and  shared  with 
them  certain  traits  such  as  a  passionate  love  of  the  steppes. 
Vladimir  is  frequently  spoken  of  in  song  and  story  as  a  Kogan 
or  Khagan,  which  is  the  distinctive  title  of  Turkish  ruling 
princes  from  the  Black  Sea  to  the  Mongolian  frontier  of 
China.  The  roving  warriors  or  bogatyrs  of  the  Russian 
epos  bear  in  many  respects  a  striking  resemblance  to  the 
typical  nomad  warrior,  and  the  name  itself  comes  from  the 
Persian  bahadur  through  Turkish.  Farther  to  the  east, 
beyond  the  steppes  and  the  Caspian,  there  was  the  wealthy 
and  prosperous  sphere  of  Persian  civilisation,  with  which 
the  Russians  maintained  trading  relations  through  the 
Bulgarians  of  the  Volga  and  the  peoples  of  the  steppes.  The 
unknown  author  of  the  great  heroic  poem,  "  The  Story  of 
Igor's  Band,"  a  moving  account  of  the  expedition  of  a  Russian 
prince  against  the  Polovians — the  only  fragment  of  secular 
literature  that  has  been  handed  down  from  the  Kiev  Period, — 
was  probably  the  contemporary  of  such  Persian  poets  as 
Khakani  and  Nizami.  In  the  Caucasus  there  was  the 
picturesque  kingdom  of  Georgia,  which  in  the  twelfth  century 


12  Russia  of  the  Russians 

attained  brilliance  and  power.  Towards  the  close  of  the  Kiev 
Period  Byzantium  still  retained  its  hold  on  the  southern  coast 
of  the  Black  Sea,  but  Turkish  nomads  wandered  across  the 
uplands  of  Asia  Minor,  and  the  Seljuks  had  founded,  in  the 
eleventh  century,  that  state  of  Konia  or  Ikonium  which 
was  later  to  serve  as  a  base  for  the  Ottoman  advance.  In 
the  north-west  of  the  Russian  territory  Novgorod  and  Pskov 
maintained  active  intercourse  with  the  rising  cities  of  Northern 
Germany.  It  was  indeed  a  rich  and  varied  world  with  which 
the  Russians  of  the  Kiev  Period  were  at  various  points  brought 
into  contact,  the  wofld  of  the  early  middle  ages  with  a  flourish- 
ing Islam,  a  slowly  expiring  Byzantium,  and  a  Europe  just 
coming  into  being. 

In  1238,  1239,  and  1240  the  North-Eastern  and  Southern 
Russian  principalities  were  overrun  by  an  army  of  Tartars 

or    Turks    under    Mongol    leadership.    The 

The  Tartars,     impact  of  this  invasion  was  far  more  terrible 

than  that  of  the  incursions  of  Turkish  nomads 
— Khazars,  Pecheniegs  and  Polovians — from  which  the 
Russians  had  suffered  for  centuries.  The  Tartars  formed 
part  of  the  host  organised  in  Central  Asia  by  Chingiz  Khan, 
who  had  discovered  in  carefully  planned  and  rapidly  multiplied 
nomad  raids  a  secret  of  world-wide  conquest.  After  having 
devastated  the  greater  part  of  Russian  territory  and  ravaged 
Poland,  Hungary,  Bosnia  and  Dalmatia,  the  Tartar  armies, 
known  under  the  general  name  of  the  Golden  Horde,  settled 
in  the  South-Eastern  steppes,  and  their  leader  Baty,  the 
grandson  of  Chingiz,  built  a  capital  at  Sarai  on  the  Volga, 
some  distance  to  the  north  of  the  present  Astrakhan,  whence 
he  exercised  rule  over  the  dominions  allotted  to  him,  Khiva, 
the  Urals,  the  Crimea  and  the  Russian  principalities.  The 
rule  of  the  Tartar  Khans  over  Russia  took  the  form  of  the 
exaction  of  tribute,  which  wa§  either  collected  by  special 
tax-gatherers  called  baskaks,  usually  in  a  very  brutal  and 
rough-and-ready  fashion,  or  else  brought  by  the  princes  in 
person  to  the  Horde.    The  Khans  skilfully  took  advantage 


The  Growth  of  Russia  13 

of  dissensions  among  the  Russian  princes  in  order  to  con- 
solidate their  own  power  in  Russia,  and,  on  the  other  hand, 
rival  Russian  princes  constantly  sought  to  secure  their  ends 
by  intriguing  at  the  Khan's  court.  Several  princes  were 
cruelly  murdered  in  the  Horde,  and  Yaroslav  II,  who  was 
Grand  Prince  of  Vladimir  at  the  time  of  the  Tartar  invasion, 
was  poisoned  on  his  return  journey  from  Karakorum,  the 
capital  of  the  Great  Khan  in  Mongolia.  The  Khans  interfered 
little,  however,  in  the  details  of  the  administration  of 
Russian  principalities,  and  there  was  a  great  deal  of  peaceful 
intercourse  between  Tartars  and  Russians.  Sarai  was  an 
important  commercial  centre,  owing  to  its  position  on 
the  chief  caravan  route  between  Russia  and  India.  There 
was  a  considerable  colony  of  Russian  traders  in  the  city. 
Christianity  was  tolerated,  and  occasionally  members  of  the 
Khan's  family  professed  Christianity,  although  the  bulk  of 
the  Tartars  nominally  abandoned  Shamanism  fop^stoh 
shortly  after  their  settlement  in  the  steppe  ^^PKe  Tartars 
passed  on  to  the  Russians  many  elements  of  Chinese  and  Persian 
culture  and  certain  Oriental  administrative  conceptions. 
The  Russian  vocabulary  contains  a  considerable  number  of 
words  borrowed  from  the  Tartar  language,  and  many  of 
these  were  borrowed  by  the  Tartars  in  their  turn  from 
Chinese,  Persian  or  Arabic.  It  was  as  a  result  of  Tartar 
influence  that  the  domestic  life  of  the  Russian  well-to-do 
classes  assumed  that  predominantly  Oriental  character  which 
was  so  marked  a  feature  of  the  Moscow  Period.  On  the 
whole,  in  spite  of  the  brutality  and  ferocity  frequently 
displayed  by  the  Tartar  Khans  and  their  tax-gatherers,  and 
in  spite  of  the  fact  that  the  effect  of  the  invasion  was  to 
transfer  the  political  centre  of  Russia  to  a  region  remote  from 
the  civilisation  of  the  South  and  the  West,  Tartar  rule  did 
contribute  in  many  ways  to  the  enrichment  of  Russian 
civilisation.  Negatively  the  -Tartar  yoke  provided  a  most 
effective  stimulus  to  Russian  political  development.  Just 
as  the  raids  of  the  sea-rovers,  the  Danes,  led  to  the  creation 


14  Russia  of  the  Russians 

of  a  United  England,  so  the  invasion  of  those  land-rovers, 
the  Tartars,  set  in  motion  the  forces  which  gradually  brought 
about  the  political  union  of  the  scattered  forces  of  the  Russian 
people. 

After  the  fall  of  Kiev,  in  1240,  the  greater  part  of  the  South 
Russian  territory  passed  under  the  direct  rule  of  the  Tartars. 
In  the  West,  the  Principality  of  Galicia  and  Volhynia  served 
for  a  time  as  the  rallying  ground  for  the  remnants  of  Southern 
Russian  power,  until  towards  the  end  of  the  fourteenth 
century  Galicia  was  incorporated  in  Poland,  and  Volhynia 
was  annexed  to  Lithuania.  Most  of  the  other  Eastern  and 
South- Western  Russian  principalities  were  absorbed  in  that 
Lithuanian  State  which  had  grown  strong  through  perpetual 
conflict  with  the  Teutonic  order  in  East  Prussia  on  the  one 
hand,  and,  on  the  other,  through  the  subjection  of  petty  Russian 
princes,  weakened  by  endless  dynastic  strife.  In  the  long 
run  the  Lithuanian  elements  in  the  Lithuanian  State  were 
completely  overshadowed  by  the  Russian,  constituting  about 
nine-tenths  of  the  population  and  territory,  and  the  union  of 
this  predominantly  Russian  and  Orthodox  State  with  Roman 
Catholic  Poland  through  the  marriage  of  its  Grand  Prince 
Jagailo  with  Jadwiga,  the  Queen  of  Poland,  in  1386,  proved 
to  be  a  source  of  constant  internal  dissension,  and  a  perpetual 
occasion  of  conflict  with  the  growing  Russian  power  in  the 
North-East .  It  was  in  the  North-East,  in  that  region  between 
the  Oka  and  the  Volga,  where  Russian  colonists  mingling 
with  Finnish  natives  had  founded  new  homes  amidst  the 
forests,  that  the  promise  implied  in  the  Kiev  State  again  took 
its  slow  and  toilsome  way  towards  fulfilment.  The  practice 
of  constant  subdivision  into  appanages  was  in  force  here  as 
it  was  throughout  the  whole  of  the  territory  reigned  over  by 
princes  of  the  House  of  Rurik,  and  also — though  counter- 
acted to  a  greater  extent  by  centralising  tendencies — in  the 
neighbouring  States  of  Lithuania  and  Poland.  Among  the 
petty  princes  of  the  region,  those  of  Vladimir  on  the  Kliazma, 
a  tributary  of  the  Oka,  gained  the  ascendancy.     In  1169 


The  Growth  of  Russia  15 

Andrei 'Bogoliubski,  Prince  of  Vladimir,  assumed  the  title 
of  Grand  Prince,  thereby  asserting  against  the  rulers  of 
Kiev  his  claim  to  the  headship  over  all  the  Russian  land. 
But  the  headship  of  the  Vladimir  Princes  was  for  a  long  time 
merely  nominal.  Their  real  authority  extended  little  beyond 
the  principalities  in  their  immediate  neighbourhood,  Riazan 
and  Murom.  Their  attempts  to  control  the  affairs  of  the 
South  Russian  principalities  or  those  of  Novgorod  and  Pskov 
were  rarely  successful.  Livonian  knights  and  Lithuanians 
had  much  more  influence  in  the  West  of  Russia,  and  Poles 
Lithuanians  and  Hungarians  in  the  enfeebled  South,  than 
did  the  Princes  of  Vladimir  during  the  twelfth  century. 
Vladimir  must  have  been  an  important  trading  centre,  lying 
as  it  does  between  the  Oka  and  the  Volga.  In  grave  mounds 
in  the  region  have  been  found  coins  pointing  to  intercourse 
with  the  distant  East  and  the  distant  West,  coins  of  Arab 
Caliphs  and  Bukharan.  Samanids  dating  from  772  to  984,  and 
Anglo-Saxon  coins  and  coins  of  the  German  Empire  dating 
from  950  to  1090.  From  the  twelfth  to  the  fourteenth  cen- 
tury, Vladimir,  with  the  neighbouring  principalities  of  Rostov 
and  Suzdal,  was  a  home  of  refuge  for  that  slowly  developing 
Russian  culture  which,  in  other  parts  of  the  Russian  land, 
was  exposed  to  a  constant  irruption  of  alien  influences.  Some 
of  the  best  monuments  of  Russian  ecclesiastical  architecture 
are  to  be  found  in  the  Vladimir-Suzdal  country,  and  here 
the  Russian  spirit  ripened  and  gathered  strength  in 
undistinguished  obscurity. 

It  was  after  the  Tartar  invasion,  in  the  course  of  which 
Vladimir  was  sacked  like  many  other  Russian  towns,  that 

the  title  of  Grand  Prince  of  Vladimir  came 
Vladimir.       to  connote  a  real  authority  over  the  whole 

of  the  North  and  North-East  of  Russia. 
But  this  was  because  the  Grand  Prince  became  the  deputy 
of  the  Khan,  and  was  responsible  before  him  for  the  collection 
of  tribute  from  the  other  princes.  He  was  the  chief  vassal, 
and  his  power  was  a  derivative  power.    But  it  was  none 


16  Russia  of  the  Russians 

the  less  real,  and  was  much  more  effective  as  a  means  of 
asserting  headship  than  the  earlier  attempts  of  the  Vladimir 
rulers  to  enforce  their  shadowy  claims.  And  for  this  reason 
the  title  was  an  object  of  perpetual  intrigue  in  the  Horde 
on  the  part  of  rival  princes.  Tartar  rule  served  as  a 
mould  for  Russian  unity.  It  counteracted  the  perpetual 
tendency  to  dismemberment/  induced  by  the  practice  of 
dividing  and  subdividing  appanages,  until  the  very  principle 
of  authority  went  astray  in  fragmentary  baronies  in  the 
forests. 

The  process  of  reunion  was  hastened  by  the  rapid  economic 
growth  of  the  principality  of  Moscow,  an  appanage  of  Vladimir, 
which  was  formed  in  the  thirteenth  century,  and  by  reason 
of  the  fertility  of  its  soil  and  its  advantageous  position  on 
the  trade  routes  between  the  Volga  and  the  Western  Dvina 
and  Novgorod  and  Riazan  attracted  a  large  population  from 
the  neighbouring  principalities.  Moscow  proved  much  better 
adapted  than  Vladimir  to  be  the  economic  centre  of  the 
North-East,  and  it  was  mainly  for  this  reason  that  the  political 
supremacy  gradually  passed  into  its  hands.  The  princes  of 
Moscow  gradually  increased  their  territory  by  carefully 
calculated  purchase  and  conquest,  and  a  particularly  shrewd 
and  enterprising  ruler,  Ivan  Kalita,  secured,  in  1328,  from 
the  Khan  by  the  customary  methods  of  intrigue  and  the 
murder  of  rivals  the  title  of  Grand  Prince,  which  thereafter 
was  a  permanent  attribute  of  the  rulers  of  Moscow.  Ivan 
Kalita,  as  his  nickname  "  Moneybags "  indicates,  was  a 
careful  householder,  and  his  will  with  its  precise  enumeration 
of  the  golden  dishes  in  his  possession  is  more  like  that  of  a 
country  squire  than  a  monarch.  He  built  churches  in  Moscow, 
transferred  the  Metropolitan  of  Vladimir  to  his  capital, 
established  order  in  his  dominions,  intrigued  right  and  left, 
added  field  to  field  and  town  to  town,  used  the  troops  of  the 
Khan  against  his  neighbours  and  kinsmen,  and  altogether 
prospered  ingloriously,  but  in  a  way  that  surely  tended  to 
the    centralisation    of    political    power    in    Moscow.     His 


The  Growth  of  Russia  17 

successors  followed  in  his  footsteps,  and  the  chief  characteristic 
of  the  rulers  of  Moscow  down  to  the  time  of  Ivan  the 
Terrible,  and  even  after  his  day,  was  a  sober  thriftiness, 
crafty  forethought,  a  minute  choice  of  ways  and  means 
and  an  unwillingness  to  undertake  any  risks.  They  were 
cautious  business  men.  They  increased  their  territory  by 
purchase,  by  gradually  modifying  the  laws  of  inheritance 
so  as  to  prevent  the  dissipation  of  territory  in  appanages,  by 
setting  their  neighbours  quarrelling  amongst  themselves, 
by  fomenting  civil  strife  in  other  principalities,  and  by  going 
out  to  conquest  when  conquest  was  sure.  Very  striking  is 
the  contrast  between  this  policy  and  the  generous  and  reckless 
expansiveness  of  the  Kiev  Period,  the  spirit  which  later 
became  embodied  in  the  Cossacks.  If  the  Kiev  policy  was 
that  of  the  open  steppe,  the  Moscow  policy  was  that  of  the 
forest  region,  where  an  enemy  may  be  lurking  behind  every 
tree.  Both  tendencies,  that  of  the  bogatyr  or  roving  hero,  and 
that  of  the  diak  or  intriguing  and  calculating  Government 
clerk,  have  continually  played  and  still  play  their  part  in 
the  development  of  the  Russian  nation  and  the  Russian 
character. 

While  Moscow  grew  stronger,  the  power  of  the  Golden  Horde 
steadily  declined.  Internal  dissensions  and  conflicts  with 
Central  Asian  States  undermined  the  authority  of  the  Khans. 
But  the  Tartars  for  a  long  time  remained  capable  of  doing 
a  considerable  amount  of  harm.  In  the  period  from  the 
middle  of  the  fourteenth  to  the  middle  of  the  fifteenth  century 
the  Khans  made  seven  destructive  raids  on  Russian  territory. 
One  Khan,  Mamai,  was  defeated  at  Kulikovo,  on  the  Don, 
in  1380,  by  Prince  Dmitri  Donskoi,  who  displayed  a  personal 
courage  not  usual  among  the  Moscow  rulers.  Tokhtamysh 
sacked  the  Kremlin,  the  great  Tamerlane  himself  devastated 
Riazan,  and  both  the  Khans  Yedigei  and  Ulu  Mahmed  fell 
upon  Moscow.  But  in  spite  of  these  marauding  expeditions 
the  authority  of  the  Khans  became  a  negligible  quantity 
for  the  Moscow  Princes,  and  Ivan  III  found  it  in  1480  a  simple 


18  Russia  of  the  Russians 

matter  to  throw  off  that  Tartar  yoke  to  which  the  Russian 
people  had  been  subject  for  240  years. 

Ivan  III  attained  remarkable  success  in  pursuing  the  aim 
of  his  dynasty  to  reunite  the  Russian  people  under  the  rule 

of  Moscow.  First  of  all  he  destroyed  the 
Ivan  III.  independence  of  the  proud  merchant  republic 
of  Novgorod.  Taking  advantage  of  the  fact 
that  the  people  of  Novgorod,  dreading  the  growing  power 
of  Moscow,  had  invited  a  Lithuanian  prince  to  occupy  the 
traditional  position  of  nominal  ruler  in  the  city,  Ivan  sent  a 
force  against  the  Novgorodians,  who  were  left  in  the  lurch 
by  the  Lithuanians  to  whom  they  had  appealed,  and  defeated 
on  the  river  Shelon  near  Lake  Ihnen.  Then  Ivan  gradually 
reduced  the  privileges  of  the  republic,  and  appearing  before 
the  city  with  a  strong  army  enforced  from  it  absolute  sub- 
mission. He  abolished  the  system  of  government  by  popular 
vote,  and  by  wholesale  execution  of  the  leading  citizens  and 
the  transference  of  a  large  number  of  Novgorod  families  to 
Moscow  territory,  he  precluded  a  revival  of  autonomous 
tendencies,  and  so  closed  one  of  the  most  picturesque  pages 
in  Russian  history.  Situated  on  the  river  Volkhovo,  at  the 
point  where  it  flows  out  of  Lake  Ilmen  on  its  way  to  Lake 
Ladoga,  the  Neva  and  the  Baltic,  Novgorod  held  the  key 
of  the  trade  between  the  interior  of  Russia  and  the  Germanic 
countries  of  the  North,  it  commanded  the  chief  overland 
route  between  the  Baltic  and  the  Black  Sea.  It  was  constantly 
visited  by  foreign  traders  who  were  subjected  to  special  laws 
and  regulations,  and  had  a  quarter  of  their  own  in  the  city 
known  as  the  German  quarter.  In  the  course  of  time  the 
dominions  of  Novgorod  came  to  extend  as  far  East  as  the 
Urals,  and  to  an  indefinite  distance  northward.  A  prince  of 
the  line  of  Rurik  always  resided  in  the  city,  but  the  real 
power  lay  in  the  hands  of  the  popular  assembly  or  vieche, 
which  was  summoned  at  need  in  the  public  square  by  the 
ringing  of  a  bell,  and  which  elected  an  executive  from  among 
members   of   the   powerful    merchant   families.    Novgorod. 


The  Growth  of  Russia  19 

on  account  of  its  wealth,  was  an  important  centre  of  culture, 
which  had  a  predominantly  ecclesiastical  character,  and 
found  expression  in  the  building  of  a  large  number  of  churches 
and  monasteries,  many  of  which  ^re  still  standing.  But 
there  was  a  rich,  many-coloured  and  turbulent  secular  life, 
echoes  of  which  have  been  handed  down  in  the  epic  folk-songs 
or  byline. 

The  principality  of  Tver,  near  Moscow,  shared  the  fate  of 
Novgorod,  and  Ivan  III  united  the  whole  of  Northern  and 
North-Eastern  Russia  under  his  rule.  There  were  other 
circumstances  that  conspired  to  strengthen  the  monarchical 
idea  in  Moscow.  The  fall  of  Constantinople,  the  seizure  by 
Mohammedans  of  the  Second  Rome,  the  centre  of  Orthodox 
Christendom,  produced  a  profound  impression  upon  the 
Russian  mind.  The  marriage  of  Ivan  HI  with  Zoe  Paleologa 
brought  the  ruler  of  Moscow  into  direct  connection  with  the 
house  of  that  young  Emperor,  who  had  died  bravely  fighting 
on  the  walls  of  Constantinople,  and  the  idea  that  Moscow 
had  inherited  the  mission  of  Byzantium, — was,  in  fact,  the 
"  Third  Rome," — was  eagerly  adopted  by  the  Moscow  court, 
and  developed  by  Russian  ecclesiastics.  In  1492  the  Lithu- 
anian Prince  Alexander  formally  recognised  Ivan  HI  as 
"  Monarch  of  all  Russia." 

The  new  State  was  confronted  with  grave  problems.  Its 
position  at  the  very  centre  of  the  great  plain  made  territorial 
expansion  a  necessity  of  existence.  There  were  enemies  on 
every  hand,  and  there  was  constant  need  to  be  armed  for 
defence  and  attack.  The  whole  organisation  of  the  State — 
and  this  is  characteristic  of  Russian  policy  till  the  beginning 
of  the  nineteenth  century — was  subordinated  to  military 
ends.  Moscow  had  not  had  time  to  develop  its  resources, 
to  attain  to  any  high  degree  of  material  prosperity  and  social 
well-being  before  it  was  plunged  into  the  turmoil  of  incessant 
and  exhausting  wars.  Civilisation  and  manhood  suffered 
terribly,  but  there  was  a  steady  and  inexorable  growth  of 
power.     In  the  midst  of  the  plain,  on  the  frontiers  of  Asia, 


20  Russia  of  the  Russians 

far  from  the  vitalising  currents  of  Western  intellectual  con- 
flict and  development,  State  power  conceived  of  as  autocracy 
acquired  a  dominance  over  the  individual  that  can  hardly 
be  matched  in  Byzantium.  Nowhere  is  the  problem  of  a 
conflict  between  personality  and  power  presented  with  such 
force  and  acuteness  as  in  Russia. 

The  first  task  of  the  Muscovite  Princes  was  to  deal  with 
the  Tartars  in  the  East  and  South-East.  The  Horde  had 
split  up  into  three  distinct  Khanates,  those  of  Kazan,  Astra- 
khan, and  the  Crimea,  and,  by  playing  of!  the  Khanates  one 
against  the  other,  Ivan  III  and  his  successors  sought  finally 
to  break  the  Tartar  power.  Kazan  was  easily  subdued,  but 
the  struggle  was  complicated  by  the  constant  intervention 
of  the  Crimean  Khan,  who  now  had  powerful  support  in  the 
person  of  a  Turkish  overlord  in  Constantinople.  There  were 
eighty  years  of  raids  and  counter  raids.  The  grandson  of 
Ivan  III,  Ivan  IV,  the  Terrible,  who  came  to  the  throne  in 
1533,  and  who  was  the  most  striking  contemporary  of  Eliza- 
beth, took  Kazan  with  its  territory  in  1551  and  Astrakhan  in 
1556.  In  view  of  the  raids  of  the  Crimean  Khan  he  was 
compelled  to  establish  fortified  outposts  on  the  Steppe,  thus 
preparing  the  way  for  the  reconquest  of  the  South.  The  new 
dominions  speedily  became  an  integral  part  of  the  Tsardom. 
Russian  colonists  settled  among  the  Tartars  in  the  Kazan 
region.  Tartar  princes  and  nobles  came  to  the  court  of  the 
Tsar  and  became,  like  the  descendants  of  once  independent 
Russian  princes,  members  of  the  Russian  aristocracy.  The 
names  of  many  Russian  noble  families,  such  as  Urusov  and 
Bakhmetiev,  point  to  their  Tartar  origin.  The  Crimea  stood 
as  a  constant  reminder  of  the  sovereignty  of  the  Ottoman 
Turks  over  the  Black  Sea  basin  and  the  Southern  steppe. 
Ivan's  advisers  submitted  to  him  a  plan  for  the  conquest  of 
the  Crimea,  but  he  was  compelled  to  leave  its  execution  to  a 
future  generation,  just  as  he  was  compelled  to  leave  to  a  later 
day  the  realisation  of  his  dream  of  establishing  the  Muscovite 
power  on  the  shores  of  the  Baltic. 


The  Growth  of  Russia  21 

The  Eastern  frontier  was  further  extended  during  the  reign 
of  Ivan  the  Terrible  by  a  band  of  Cossack  adventurers  under 

Yermak,  who  defeated  the  Tartar  Khan  of 
Extension       Western  Siberia,  and  made  the  Tsar  a  present 

of  the  territory  in  the  basin  of  the  Tobol  and 
the  Irtish.  But  the  task  of  extending  and  strengthening 
the  Eastern  frontier  was  simplicity  itself,  compared  with 
that  of  coping  with  more  civilised  Western  rivals.  Poland 
united  with  Lithuania  had  become,  under  the  strong  rule  of 
the  Jagailo  dynasty,  a  great  power.  A  conflict  with  Moscow 
in  which  Lithuania  had  become  involved  during  the  reign  of 
Ivan  III  had  served  as  a  warning  against  the  danger  of  separa- 
tist tendencies,  and  the  union  with  Poland  had  become  closer 
in  consequence.  After  the  final  subjection  of  the  Teutonic 
Order  in  Eastern  Prussia  by  Casimir  IV  in  1466,  and  the 
assertion  of  Polish  supremacy  at  the  mouth  of  the  Danube 
by  the  same  King,  the  power  of  the  Polish-Lithuanian  State 
extended  from  the  Baltic  at  the  mouth  of  the  Vistula  to  the 
Black  Sea.  The  Polish  cities  were  prosperous,  the  Polish 
upper  classes  were  sensitive  to  the  influences  of  European 
civilisation,  the  Roman  Catholic  Church,  which  was  dominant 
in  Poland,  helped  to  maintain  constant  intercourse  with  the 
West,  and  at  one  time  it  seemed  possible  that  this  central 
European  State  might  attain  something  like  permanent 
greatness.  But  there  were  sources  of  internal  weakness 
which  even  the  prudence  and  firmness  of  her  ablest  rulers 
could  not  wholly  counteract.  The  king  was  dependent  on  a 
diet  composed  of  representatives  of  the  nobility  and  gentry, 
who  cared  more  for  their  own  class  and  personal  interests 
than  the  general  interests  of  the  State  or  the  welfare  of  the 
common  people.  The  presence  in  the  diet  of  powerful  mag- 
nates from  Lithuania,  frequently  inheritors  of  Russian  or 
Lithuanian  appanages,  introduced  a  further  element  of  dissen- 
sion and  confusion.  The  distinction  between  Lithuania 
and  Poland  made  itself  constantly  felt,  more  especially  on 
religious  grounds.     Poland  was  aggressively  Roman  Catholic, 


22  Russia  of  the  Russians 

while  in  Lithuania  only  the  Lithuanians  in  the  north,  who 
formed  a  small  minority  of  the  population,  were  Catholics, 
the  bulk  of  the  population  being  Russians  and  Orthodox. 
The  Reformation,  which  influenced  the  upper  classes  in  both 
Lithuania  and  Poland,  temporarily  checked  this  antagonism, 
but  with  the  triumph  of  the  counter-reformation  in  Poland 
it  revived  with  new  vigour.  Over  the  western  steppe  roved 
bands  of  freebooters  known  as  Cossacks,  who  were  mostly 
Russian  in  language  and  Orthodox  as  to  faith,  and  yielded 
little  more  than  a  nominal  submission  to  Polish' authority. 

Poland  formed  the  chief  barrier  to  Muscovite  expansion 
on  the  West.    The  Baltic  coast  was  held  by  the  Livonian 

knights,   and  Sweden,   a  growing  power   in 

W^raWStot^e  the   north'   0CCUPied   FMand.    The   second 

half  of  the  reign  of  Ivan  the  Terrible  was 

mainly  absorbed  in  a  conflict  with  these  three  powers.  The 
immediate  result  of  a  war  which  Ivan  undertook  with  the 
Livonian  Order  and  in  which  Sweden,  Denmark,  and  Poland 
intervened,  was  that  the  Order  fell  to  pieces  and  its  territory 
was  divided,  the  southern  half  falling  to  Poland,  and  the 
northern  half  to  Sweden.  The  Muscovite  State  became 
involved  in  long  and  exhausting  wars  with  Poland  and  Sweden, 
from  which  it  drew  no  direct  profit.  Both  these  Western 
powers  were  bent  on  preventing  such  intercourse  between 
Moscow  and  Western  Europe  as  might  have  a  civilising  effect 
on  the  Russians,  and  so  increase  their  political  power.  Ivan 
died  in  1584,  embittered  by  the  failure  of  his  western  campaigns. 
But  his  reign  had  been  in  every  way  one  of  immense  impor- 
tance for  the  Muscovite  State.  He  was  left  an  orphan  at 
the  age  of  three,  and  grew  up  uncared  for,  unwatched,  while 
the  boyars  or  great  nobles  intrigued,  fought  and  robbed  around 
him.  He  learned  to  detest  the  boyars,  and  when  he  came 
to  manhood  did  his  utmost  to  .break  their  power,  invoking 
against  them  the  support  of  the  populace,  and  surrounding 
himself  with  a  terrible  guard  called  the  oprichina,  who 
murdered  indiscriminately  all  who  were  supposed  to  be  his 


The  Growth  of  Russia  23 

enemies.  His  chief  advisers  during  the  early  part  of  his 
reign  were  not  boyars,  but  the  priest  Sylvester,  and  an  official 
of  humble  origin  named  Adashev.  Immediately  after  his 
coronation  he  convened  a  National  Assembly,  which  con- 
firmed a  revised  judicial  code,  and  heard  from  the  young 
Tsar's  own  lips  his  bitter  complaints  against  the  boyars 
and  his  promise  of  good  government  in  the  future.  Certain 
administrative  reforms  were,  as  a  matter  of  fact,  undertaken. 
The  task  of  maintaining  order  in  the  provinces  was  taken 
from  the  boyar  governors  and  laid  on  elders  chosen  by  the 
population.  The  practice  of  collecting  taxes  by  farming 
out  whole  districts  to  governors  who  "  fed  "  on  them,  as 
the  expression  was,  was  abandoned  in  favour  of  a  system  of 
collecting  through  elected  representatives  of  the  people, 
all  the  members  of  which  became  jointly  responsible  to  the 
Government.  The  effect  of  these  measures  was  not  to 
develop  the  principle  of  popular  liberty.  Rather  the  reverse. 
The  power  of  the  boyars  was  limited,  but  at  the  same  time 
the  masses  of  the  people  were  attached  more  directly  to  the 
central  Government,  and  the  authority  of  the  Tsar  was 
increased.  The  chief  object  of  these  and  similar  measures 
was  in  fact  to  increase  the  fiscal  resources  of  the  State  in  view 
of  multiplying  military  needs.  Ivan's  own  character  was 
fiercely  despotic.  He  was  subject  to  fits  of  ungovernable 
passion,  under  the  influence  of  which  he  committed  acts  of 
cruelty  incomprehensible  in  a  sane  man.  He  murdered  his 
eldest  son  with  his  own  hand.  He  slaughtered  the  citizens 
of  Novgorod  without  cause.  He  ravaged  his  own  country 
and  murdered  his  own  subjects  by  the  hundred.  His  fits 
of  passion  were  succeeded  by  long  periods  of  remorse,  and 
he  ended  his  life  as  a  monk,  varying  his  monastic  exercises 
with  coarse  revelry.  But  he  was  a  statesman  of  remarkable 
talent.  He  clearly  foresaw  the  natural  course  of  Russian 
political  development,  and  the  work  of  expansion  westward 
begun  by  him  was  consistently  carried  on  by  his  successors 
until  its  completion  by  Peter  the  Great. 

3 — (2400) 


24  Russia  of  the  Russians 

The  personal  character  of  Ivan  the  Terrible  and  his  admin- 
istrative   reforms    strengthened    a    distinctively    Muscovite, 

singularly   gaunt    and    merciless    conception 

MRSTte    of  the  State-  The  idea  of  a  p°litical  unity> 

permitting  of  no  diversity,  was  carried  to  an 
extreme.  The  tillers  of  the  soil,  the  peasantry,  had  in  the 
course  of  centuries  sunk  into  a  position  of  absolute  economic 
dependence  on  the  landowners.  Towards  the  close  of  the 
sixteenth  century  they  were  finally  attached  to  the  soil  and 
became  serfs,  one  of  the  chief  objects  of  this  measure  being 
to  ensure  a  regular  payment  of  taxes.  The  oppressive 
character  of  the  Moscow  system  led  to  a  constant  emigration 
of  the  more  adventurous  elements  to  the  thinly-populated 
regions  beyond  the  frontier.  Many  of  them  settled  in  the 
steppes  on  the  Don,  and  others  went  Eastwards  to  Siberia. 
These  rovers,  like  those  in  the  steppes  beyond  the  Dnieper, 
were  called  Cossacks,  and  they  were  the  chief  agents  of  Russian 
expansion  eastwards. 

Muscovite  rule  was  hard.  But  Moscow,  the  capital,  lived 
a  very  picturesque  and  many-sided  life,  with  a  great  variety 
of  interests  of  its  own.  The  city  was  an  exceedingly  impor- 
tant trading  centre.  It  traded  with  Persia  and  Central  Asia 
by  way  of  the  Volga  and  Astrakhan,  and  the  chief  inter- 
mediaries in  the  Persian  trade  were  then,  as  later,  Armenians. 

The  Moscow  Tsars  tried  to  open  up  trade  with  India,  and 
though  the  difficulties  were  not  insuperable — an  inquiryshowed 
that  it  was  a  matter  of  only  four  months'  journey  from  the 
Caspian  to  the  Moghul  capital — Persian  opposition  effectually 
barred  enterprise  in  that  direction.  Greek  merchants  carried 
on  trade  between  Constantinople  and  Moscow.  There  was 
a  certain  amount  of  trade  with  Sweden  and  by  way  of  Livonia 
and  Novgorod,  and  also  by  way  of  Poland  commercial  rela- 
tions were  maintained  with  Germany.  Direct  trading 
relations  with  England  were  opened  up  in  1555  by  way  of 
Archangel,  and  English  visitors  were  among  the  first  to  give 
detailed  accounts  of  the  Tsardom  of  Moscovy  to  the  Western 


The  Growth  of  Russia  25 

world.  The  attempts  made  by  Ivan  the  Terrible  to  secure 
from  Western  Europe  skilled  craftsmen  and  instructors  were 
frustrated  by  Germany  and  Poland.  Learning  was  not 
highly  esteemed,  as  is  shown  by  the  fate  of  Maxim  the  Greek. 
This  Maxim  was  an  Albanian,  who  spent  several  years  of 
study  in  Italy,  where  he  became  acquainted  with  the 
Humanists,  among  others  with  Aldus  Mantius,  and  was  deeply 
affected  by  Savonarola's  preaching.  On  account  of  his  great 
learning  he  was  sent  by  the  Abbot  of  the  monastery  of 
Mount  Athos,  in  whichrhe  had  taken  the  vows,  to  Moscow  in 
response  to  a  request  from  the  Grand  Prince  Vasili,  father  of 
Ivan  the  Terrible,  for  a  competent  ■  translator  and  adviser 
in  the  revision  of  church  books.  He  soon  came  into  conflict 
with  the  dissolute  and  avaricious  clergy  and  nobles  of  Moscow, 
and  all  his  learning  and  his  spotless  character  did  not  avail 
to  save  him  from  life-long  confinement  in  a  monastery.  And 
yet  this  man  might,  under  more  favourable  conditions,  have 
been  the  pioneer  in  a  Russian  renaissance. 

Maxim  had  a  few  faithful  disciples  who  profited  by  his 
lessons,  and  among  these  was  Prince  Kurbski,  whose  corre- 
spondence with  Ivan  the  Terrible  is  one  of  the  most  interesting 
literary  and  historical  documents  of  the  period.  Ivan  himself 
was  well-read  in  ecclesiastical  literature  and,  as  his  letters 
show,  possessed  real  literary  talent.  The  favourite  reading 
matter  of  the  people  was  apocryphal  literature,  which  included 
a  number  of  legends  of  striking  beauty. 

Foreign  trade  gave  colour  and  movement  to  life  in  Moscow, 
but  the  source  of  perennial  popular  interest  was  the  Church 
with  its  traditions  and  ceremonies.  The  Church  had  a 
peculiarly  national  character,  and  many  features  in  its  teach- 
ing and  ritual  filled  the  stricter  Greek  ecclesiastics  with 
horror.  But  whether  fighting  with  Mohammedan  Tartars, 
Roman  Catholic  Poles  and  Lithuanians,  or  Protestant  Germans 
or  Swedes,  the  Muscovites  always  regarded  themselves  as 
upholders  of  the  true  faith  against  sinful  error.  Political 
conceptions  were  set  in  a  framework  of  ecclesiastical  tradition. 


26  Russia  of  the  Russians 

The  centre  of  Eastern  European  trade  and  the  capital  of  the 
Tsars  was  a  city  of  churches  and  cathedrals.  Ecclesiastical 
controversies  aroused  intense  popular  interest.  There  was  the 
conflict  with  heresies,  such  as  that  of  the  so-called  Judaisers  and 
that  of  a  layman  named  Bashkin,  which  seems  to  have  been 
a  distant  echo  of  the  Protestant  Reformation.  There  was  the 
long  controversy  over  the  question  of  landholding  by  monas- 
teries, which  possessed  altogether  about  a  third  of  the  lands  of 
Muscovy.  There  was  the  constant  resort  for  counsel  in  things 
spiritual  and  material  to  religious  recluses,  men  and  women, 
though  many  just  as  frequently  resorted  to  astrologers  and 
fortune-tellers.  There  •  were  the  important  questions  of 
Church  government  that  arose  with  the  assumption  of  the 
title  Patriarch  by  the  chief  prelate  of  Moscow  in  the  seven- 
teenth century.  All  these  questions  greatly  excited  the 
minds  of  the  pious  Muscovites  in  the  sixteenth  and  seven- 
teenth centuries.  They  were  indeed  most  assiduous  in  the 
observance  of  ecclesiastical  as  of  every  other  kind  of  custom, 
but  this  did  not  prevent  them  from  grossly  indulging  their 
appetites  on  occasion.  It  was  a  heavy,  barbarous,  uncritical 
life  that  the  Muscovites  lived,  entangled  in  a  network  of 
custom,  petty  intrigue  and  stratagem,  coarsely  material, 
yet  with  a  rich  fund  of  humour  and  shrewd  popular  wisdom, 
and  with  an  extraordinary  capacity  for  devotion  at  the  heart 
of  it  all.  This  capacity  for  devotion  was  displayed  in  the 
strange  ecclesiastical  movement  in  the  middle  of  the  seven- 
teenth century  when  the  Patriarch  Nikon  used  his  immense, 
almost  monarchical  authority,  to  impose  on  the  Church  .in 
spite  of  the  vehement  opposition  of  the  masses,  new  and  more 
correct  translations  of  the  service  books.  Hundreds  cheerfully 
submitted  to  torture  or  went  to  the  stake  rather  than  accept 
innovations  that  they  considered  heretical.  These  schis- 
matics, the  so-called  Old  Believers,  were  driven  to  the  confines 
of  Russian  territory,  and  they,  too,  became  agents  in  the 
manifold  process  of  Russian  expansion.  • 

After  the  death  of  Ivan  the  Terrible  the  State  of  Moscow 


The  Growth  of  Russia  27 

passed  through  a  period  of  the  severest  strain.  Ivan's  son, 
Feodor,  ruled  with  the  aid  of  a  powerful  noble  of  Tartar 
descent  named  Boris  Godunov.  Feodor  left  no  heir,  and 
with  his  death  that  branch  of  the  Rurik  line  which  occupied 
the  Moscow  throne  came  to  an  end.  Boris  Godunov  had 
himself  elected  Tsar,  but  for  all  his  shrewdness  and  ability 
he  was  unable  to  maintain  his  authority  effectively  over  the 
rival  boyars.  When  Godunov  died  the  throne  was  seized 
by  a  Pretender  whom  Sigismund  of  Poland  put  forward  as 
a  son  of  Ivan  named  Dimitri.  The  False  Dimitri  was  murdered, 
and  a  boyar  named  Vasili  Shuisky  had  himself  elected  by  a 
small  clique  of  his  fellows.  Vasili  was  deposed  and  taken  as 
prisoner  to  Warsaw.  Another  Dimitri  appeared,  and  was 
known  as  the  Robber  of  Tushino  from  that  village  to  the 
North- West  of  Moscow,  where  he  had  his  seat  and  whence 
he  exercised  with  the  help  of  Cossacks  and  certain  of  the 
boyars  a  feeble  rule.  The  land  was  a  prey  to  anarchy.  Things 
were  bad  enough  when  there  was  a  real  Tsar  at  the  head  of 
affairs.  The  common  people  were  oppressed  beyond  all 
endurance  by  the  Government  and  nobles,  and  abject  ser- 
vility, beggary  and  crime  were  the  inevitable  consequences. 
But  now  there  was  no  restraining  influence  whatever.  Every 
man  was  striving  for  his  own  hand,  and  pillaged  where  he 
could.  The  country  was  open  to  foreign  invaders.  The 
Swedes  seized  Novgorod.  The  Poles  occupied  Moscow, 
and  mocked  at  the  Orthodox  faith.  The  boyars  scattered, 
seeking  to  secure  their  own  advantage  either  by  supporting 
the  Robber  of  Tushino  or  by  acknowledging  as  Tsar  Wladislaw, 
the  son  of  the  Polish  king  Sigismund.  The  Polish  garrison 
massacred  the  inhabitants  of  Moscow.  Finally,  at  the  appeal 
of  a  butcher  in  Nizhni-Novgorod  named  Minin,  the  people 
rose  and  organised  a  militia  under  the  leadership  of  a  prince 
named  Pozharski  and  other  obscure  nobles  and  gentry.  The 
militia  marched  up  the  Volga  to  Yaroslav  and  crossed  over 
to  Moscow,  where  they  found  a  force  of  the  Tushino  Cossacks 
besieging  the  Poles  at  leisure.    The  Cossacks  and  the  militia 


28  Russia  of  the  Russians 

viewed  each  other  with  distrust,  but  finally  co-operated  to 
such  an  extent  that  the  isolated  garrison  fell  before  them, 
and  Sigismund,  who  was  hastening  to  its  relief,  was  turned 
back  on  the  way.    The  last  few  months  of  1612  were  occupied 
in  preparations  for  the  election  of  a  new  Tsar.     A  National 
Assembly  was  convened,  and  messengers  were  sent  over  the 
country  to  test  the  opinion  of  the  people.     Finally,  after  a 
long  struggle  between  various  factions,  the  choice  of  the 
assembly  fell  on  a  sixteen-year-old   youth   named   Michael 
Romanov,  the  son  of  a  prominent  boyar,  who  had  been  made 
patriarch   at   Tushino   under   the   name   of   Philaret.    The 
Romanovs  were  distantly  connected  with  the  house  of  Rurik 
through  Anastasia  Romanova,   the  first  wife  of  Ivan  the 
Terrible.     The  election  which  took  place  on  February  26th, 
1613,   was  approved  by  the  people,   and   Michael  reigned 
peaceably,  yielding  the  control  of  affairs  for  the  first  few  years 
to  his  energetic  father,  Philaret.    The  fact  that  at  a  supremely 
critical  moment,  when  all  the  leaders  failed  with  the  one 
exception  of  the  Patriarch  Hermogen,  the  State  was  saved 
by  the  direct  efforts  of  the  people  is  a  remarkable  proof  of 
the  vitality  of  the  nation  that  had  grown  up  under  such  difficult 
conditions  in  the  North-East.    The  value  of  popular  initiative 
was  recognised  during  Michael's  reign  by  the  convocation 
of  several  National  Assemblies  or  Zemskie  Sobory,  but  the 
purely  autocratic  principle  steadily  recovered  strength,  and 
the  nation  again  became  completely  subservient  to  the  State. 
Michael's  reign  was  a  period  of  recuperation.     His  son, 
Alexei  or  Alexis,  was  a  retiring  man,  given  to  pious  works, 
but  it  fell  to  his  lot  to  carry  on  the  work  of  expansion.    An 
insurrection  of  the  Cossacks  of  the  Ukraine  or  western  steppe 
against  Polish  rule  led  to  Russian  intervention  and  a  long 
war  with  Poland,  which  resulted  in  Moscow's  securing  by  the 
Treaty  of  Andrusovo  in  1667  the  possession  of  Kiev  and  the 
territory  on  the  left  bank  of  the  Dnieper.     During  the  war 
with  Poland  a  war  broke  out  with  Sweden.    A  Russian  army 
entered  Livland  but  was  driven  back  with  loss,  and  peace 


The  Growth  of  Russia  29 

was  concluded  in  1661.  The  submission  of  the  Cossacks 
west  of  the  Dnieper  to  the  Sultan,  led  to  a  war  with  Turkey 
(1672-1681),  and  after  the  Turks  had  alarmed  Christendom 
by  appearing  before  the  walls  of  Vienna,  Russia  accepted 
the  invitation  of  the  Polish  king,  Jan  Sobieski,  to  join  a  coalition 
against  the  Mohammedan  power.  The  second  half  of  the 
seventeenth  century  was  thus  devoted  to  irregular  warfare 
with  the  three  powers  that  prevented  the  expansion  of  Russia 
westward  and  southward. 

The  oppressive  character  of  Muscovite  administration  pro- 
voked in  the  course  of  the  century  popular  risings  in  Moscow, 
Novgorod  and  Pskov,  and  in  1667  a  very  serious  insurrection 
of  Cossacks  and  peasants  in  the  Volga  region  under  the 
leadership  of  Stenka  Razin,  who  became  a  hero  of  folk-song. 

Alexis  was  succeeded  by  his  eldest  son  Feodor,  who  reigned 
only  six  years  (1676-1682),  and  then  after  all  these   "  quiet 

tsars,"  these  tame  and  characterless  first 
PGreat.he  Romanovs,  came  Peter  the  Great  like  a 
whirlwind,  and  with  almost  superhuman 
energy  transformed  the  Tsardom  of  Muscovy  into  the  Russian 
Empire.  The  autocracy  had  been  consolidated  after  the  Time 
of  Trouble,  not  by  the  Tsars  themselves,  but  chiefly  owing 
to  the  work  of  such  able  advisers  as  Michael's  father,  Philaret, 
and  Ordyn-Nashchokin,  the  leading  statesman  under  Tsar 
Alexis.  Into  the  autocratic  authority  thus  established 
Peter  put  all  the  rude  force  of  his  personal  character,  and 
used  it  as  an  instrument  for  dragging  the  Russian  State  from 
the  sleepy  remoteness  of  the  heart  of  the  plain  into  the  restless 
and  complex  world  of  modern  Europe.  Peter  was  strikingly 
unlike  his  immediate  predecessors,  but  in  Philaret  and  in 
Peter's  half-sister,  the  Princess  Sophia,  there  was  a  turbulent 
energy  that  resembled  his  own.  And  then  Peter's  education 
was  the  reverse  of  the  typical  education  of  a  Moscow  Tsar. 
When  he  was  eleven  years  old,  his  sister  Sophia  organised 
a  mutiny  of  the  Strieltsy,  or  soldiers  of  the  standing  army, 
and  drove  Peter's  mother  and  all  the  members  of  her  family 


30  Russia  of  the  Russians 

out  of  the  palace  on  the  Kremlin  and,  still  retaining  her 
position  as  Regent  for  Peter  and  his  brother  the  co-tsar 
Ivan,  a  wholly  incompetent  weakling,  concentrated  all  the 
power  in  her  own  hands  and  those  of  her  favourites.  Peter 
lived  with  his  mother  in  the  village  of  Preobrazhenskoe,  outside 
the  city  walls,  where  he  was  left  very  much  to  his  own  devices. 
He  played  at  soldiers  and  sailors,  built  toy  boats,  gathered 
around  him  a  host  of  playmates  of  noble  and  humble  birth 
whom  he  organised  into  a  sham  army  that  afterwards  formed 
the  nucleus  of  a  real,  modern  army.  His  experiences  in  the 
Kremlin  at  the  time  of  the  mutiny  had  filled  him  with  a  life- 
long disgust  for  the  older  Muscovite  ways,  and  near  Preob- 
razhenskoe he  came  into  contact  with  a  foreign  colony  that 
opened  up  for  him  a  new  world.  Here  his  passion  for 
mechanics  was  gratified,  and  from  a  Dutchman  named  Timmer- 
man  he  learned  arithmetic,  geometry,  fortification,  and  the 
use  of  the  astrolobe.  A  Swiss  adventurer  named  Lefort, 
with  whom  Peter  made  friends,  arranged  boisterous  revels 
that  effaced  from  the  mind  of  the  young  Tsar  those  few 
lessons  in  the  staid  etiquette  of  the  Kremlin  that  had  been 
given  him  in  his  childhood.  Peter  was  personally  cut  adrift 
from  the  old  Moscow  tradition  before  he  came  of  age.  He, 
a  son  of  the  plain,  conceived  a  passion  for  the  sea.  The  scent 
of  salt  breezes  drew  him  westwards.  He  sent  hundreds  of 
young  men  abroad  to  learn  the  arts  and  handicrafts/  He 
built  a  flotilla  on  the  river  Voronezh,  and  with  the  aid  of  this 
and  of  his  newly-cast  artillery,  he  took  Azov  from  the  Turks. 
Finally,  in  1697,  he  himself  went  abroad  to  learn  more 
thoroughly  what  Europe  could  teach  in  the  matter  of 'ship- 
building and  artillery.  He  visited  Holland  where  he  worked 
as  a  carpenter  in  the  shipyards  of  Saardam  and  Amsterdam, 
and  spent  several  months  in  England.  England  interested 
him  immensely,  but  mainly  from  the  mechanical  side.  He 
was  constantly  to  be  seen  at  the  dockyards  at  Deptford 
and  at  the  Woolwich  arsenal.  He  went  frequently  to  the 
Tower  to  see  the  Mint.     He  once  went  to  the  House  of  Lords 


The  Growth  of  Russia  31 

where  he  saw  King  William  on  the  throne,  and  heard  some 
of  the  lords  speak.  He  afterwards  remarked  to  his  companions 
that  it  was  a  very  good  thing  to  hear  subjects  freely  expressing 
their  views  in  the  presence  of  their  monarch,  but  he  certainly 
did  not  dream  of  anything  like  constitutionalism  for  his  own 
country.  Peter  went  to  Oxford,  but  he  does  not  seem  to 
have  come  into  touch  with  English  intellectual  life  at  any 
point.  When  he  was  not  looking  at  guns  or  ships  or  museums 
he  spent  his  time  in  carousals  with  his  companions,  English 
and  Russian.  After  he  left,  the  owner  of  the  house  in  which 
he  had  lived  presented  a  bill  for  damages.  The  interior  of 
the  house  had  been  completely  ruined,  the  floor  and  valuable 
furniture  broken  and  covered  with  filth,  windows  broken, 
pictures  riddled  with  bullets.  William  III  paid  the  heavy 
bill  out  of  his  own  pocket. 

Peter  came  back  to  Moscow  after  a  stay  of  fifteen  months 
abroad,  with  his  mind  full  of  ideas  of  the  purely  technical 
side  of  Western  civilisation,  and  these  he  proceeded  to  apply 
in  practice.  But  his  mechanical  reforms  were  made  sub- 
servient to  certain  simple  but  broad  ideas.  He  knew  that 
Russia  would  be  economically  and  politically  stifled  unless 
she  secured  a  seaboard,  and  he  bent  his  energies  to  the  con- 
quest of  the  Baltic  coast.  In  1700  he  renewed  the  struggle 
with  Sweden  and  used  all  his  recently  gained  technical 
knowledge,  strained  to  the  utmost  all  the  resources  of  Muscovy 
in  money  and  men  in  the  gigantic  effort  through  unremitting 
wars  and  a  remodelling  of  the  whole  administrative  system 
to  lift  the  State  to  a  new  plane  of  development.  The  marvel 
was  that  he  attained  his  end.  One  effect  of  his  work  was 
that  the  State  penetrated  more  deeply  into  the  life  of  the 
nation  than  ever  before.  He  bound  all  classes  to  the  State 
with  iron  bonds,  made  the  whole  people  follow  him  panting 
and  bleeding  in  his  restless  career.  Personally  he  was  a  very 
human  man.  He  was  big,  burly,  passionate,  a  great  drinker 
and  reveller,  and  a  lover  of  coarse  pranks,  an  excellent 
mechanic,  the  best  shipbuilder  in  Russia,  extremely  simple 


32  Russia  of  the  Russians 

and  economical  in  most  of  his  personal  habits,  good-natured, 
but  on  occasion  ruthlessly  cruel,  restlessly  active,  but  lacking 
in  reflective  capacity.  But  all  these  qualities  acquired  an 
immense  impetus  from  the  position  of  Peter  on  the  frontier 
of  two  ages  and  of  two  worlds,  and  from  the  extraordinary 
character  of  the  work  he  was  called  upon  to  do.  He  loomed 
up  in  the  popular  imagination  like  some  terrible  demiurge, 
and  the  legend  went  abroad  that  he  was  Antichrist.  To 
this  day  it  is  difficult  to  form  an  exact  estimate  of  his  character. 
He  has  set  such  a  wide  range  of  forces  in  motion  that  it  is 
difficult  not  to  fall  into  the  error  of  regarding  him  as  their 
source.  Peter,  the  man,  the  shipwright-tsar,  with  twitching 
face,  in  rusty  caftan  and  with  shoes  down  at  the  heel,  is 
lost  in  the  conception  of  the  empire-builder,  the  maker  of  a 
vast  modern  Russia.  He  becomes  a  symbol,  the  embodiment 
of  the  elemental,  forward-rushing  forces  of  the  Russian  people. 
(^  Peter  was  always  reforming,  always  mending.  Yet  most 
\  of  his  reforms  were  the  result  of  impulse,  were  set  in  motion 
^on  the  spur  of  the  moment  during  a  lull  in  a  campaign,  or 
upon  a  hint  from  some  roaming  foreigner.  He  divided 
Russia  into  governments  for  fiscal  purposes,  so  as  more 
systematically  to  squeeze  out  of  the  population  money  for 
the  maintenance  of  his  rapidly  growing  army  and  fleet. 
Then  the  central  Government  institutions  proved  but  poor 
makeshifts  in  such  a  time  of  stress  and  he  had  to  reform 
them,  substituting  for  the  unwieldy  Muscovite  prikazy  or 
inchoate  ministries,  Boards  or  Colleges  on  the  Swedish  model, 
and  for  the  Boyarskaya  Duma  or  Council  of  Boyars,  a  Senate 
which  should  serve  as  the  interpreter  of  the  Tsar's  will.  He 
created  a  modern  army,  establishing  a  principle  of  military 
service  that  embraced  all  classes.  He  built  the  first  Russian 
fleet.  He  detested  the  clergy,  and  instituted  a  toper's  club 
in  the  form  of  a  parody  on  the  hierarchy  with  a  buffoon  as 
mock  patriarch  ;  but  more  serious  was  his  complete  abolition 
of  the  real  patriarchate  and  his  transference  of  the  control 
of  Church  affairs  to  a  board  or  ministry  called  the    Synod 


The  Growth  of  Russia  33 

with  a  layman  at  its  head.  The  war  with  Sweden,  known 
as  the  Northern  War,  which  had  for  Russia  such  important 
consequences,  lasted  off  and  on  for  twenty-one  years.  But 
Peter  drifted  into  it  almost  by  chance,  was  defeated  during 
its  early  stages,  and  had  no  plan  of  campaign  long  and  carefully 
calculated  in  advance.  He  was  drawn  on  by  the  development 
of  events  to  the  fulfilment  of  his  dream  of  the  conquest  of 
the  seaboard.  He  was  beaten  at  Narva,  but  in  1703  he  beat 
the  Swedes  at  Nyenschantz  on  the  site  of  the  present  St. 
Petersburg,  and  again  in  the  first  sea  fight  won  by  Russians 
in  modern  times.  But  the  war  dragged  on,  and  it  was  not 
until  1709  that  a  decisive  battle  was  won.  The  Swedish 
King,  Charles  XII,  with  his  magnificent  army  had  crossed 
the  Vistula  in  1707,  and  with  the  aid  of  Cossacks  of  the 
Ukraine  under  Mazeppa,  hoped  finally  to  break  the  growing 
power  of  the  Russian  Tsar.  But  the  plain  drew  on  the  masters 
of  the  sea,  and  two  years  afterwards  Peter  had  no  difficulty 
in  scattering  Charles's  worn  out  army  at  Poltava  in  the  heart 
of  the  steppe. 

When  peace  was  concluded  in  1721,  Russia  found  herself 
in  permanent  possession  of  the  territory  on  the  banks  of 
the  Neva  and  of  the  provinces  of  Livland  and  Esthonia. 
The  command  of  the  Baltic  was  secure.  It  was  made  more 
secure  by  an  act  which  has  had  no  parallel  since  Constantine 
founded  a  new  Rome  on  the  shores  of  the  Bosphorus.  Peter 
built  on  the  swamps  of  the  Neva  a  capital,  looking  out  upon 
the  sea  and  upon  Europe.  No  other  spot  was  so  suitable 
for  the  great  work.  Archangel,  which  had  long  been  the 
port  for  trade  with  the  west,  was  too  precarious  and  too  remote 
an  outlet,  and  Novgorod,  the  centre  of  north-western  trade 
from  the  earliest  times,  was  too  far  inland.  In  1703  Peter 
built  himself,  on  one  of  the  islands  of  the  delta  a  cottage, 
which  is  shown  to  this  day,  and  thence  directed  the  construc- 
tion of  fortresses,  churches,  shipyards,  wooden  palaces, 
Government  offices,  barracks,  the  draining  of  swamps,  and  the 
cutting  through  the  dense  forests  on  the  left  bank  of  the  Neva 


34  Russia  of  the  Russians 

the  avenues  that  became  the  "  prospects,"  the  chief  arteries  of 
the  new  city.  He  dragged  his  boyars  from  their  snug  homes 
in  old-fashioned  Moscow  to  his  bleak  and  comfortless  half- 
German  "  Sankt  Peterburg  "  with  its  Peterhofs  and  Oranien- 
baums.  He  imported  artisans  from  abroad,  and  populated 
the  city  with  his  new  regiments,  and  with  artisans  and  peasants 
from  the  interior.  The  city  was  built  by  forced  labour,  and 
thousands  perished  under  the  hard  toil.  But  Peter  had  his 
way,  and  the  capital  on  the  Neva  became  a  lasting  monument 
to  his  rude,  creative  energy.  The  very  Neva  is  akin  to  him. 
Its  broad,  mighty  stream  flowing  swiftly  to  the  sea  is  the 
mirror  of  his  impetuous  striving. 

Russia  survived  Peter's  knout,  and  there  could  be  no 
better  proof  of  the  nation's  vitality.  During  his  reign  one- 
fifth  of  the  peasantry  simply  disappeared,  either  in  war  or 
in  terror-stricken  flight  from  intolerable  imposts  and  military 
service.  Three-quarters  of  the  whole  budget  was  devoted 
to  military  and  naval  purposes,  and  little  or  nothing  was  done 
to  relieve  the  wretched  plight  of  the  people.  Yet  in  forcing 
backward  Russia  into  the  European  family  of  the  nations, 
Peter  did  the  main  thing  necessary  to  ensure  her  progress. 
In  the  century  that  followed  his  death  the  Empire — Peter 
had  assumed  the  title  of  Emperor  (Imperator) — slowly 
adapted  itself  to  the  new  situation. 

Peter  was  succeeded  by  his  second  wife  Catherine,  a  former 
camp-follower,  who  reigned  with  firmness  and  tact  for  two 
years,  and  then  came  a  dreary  period  of  nonentities.  During 
the  reigns  of  Peter's  grandson,  Peter  II,  his  niece  Anna 
Ioannovna  and  the  short  regency  of  her  niece  Anna  Leopold- 
ovna,  the  Germanised  Court  was  plunged  in  heavy  sensuality 
and  in  sordid  and  viscid  intrigue.  Peter's  capable  daughter, 
Elizabeth,  drove  out  Anna  Leopoldovna  with  her  son  and 
her  Germans  in  1741,  and  reigned  with  signal  ability  for  twenty 
years.  Elizabeth  tried  to  train  as  her  successor  her  nephew, 
Karl  Peter  Ulrich,  Duke  of  Holstein  Gottorp,  but  this  youth 
proved     hopelessly     incompetent,      and      was     murdered 


The  Growth  of  Russia  35 

immediately  after  his  accession  to  the  throne  by  the 
partisans  of  his  wife,  by  birth  a  Princess  of  Anhalt-Zerbst, 
who  ascended  the  throne  as  Catherine  II. 

The  process  of  territorial  expansion  continued  throughout 
the  century  in  spite  of  all  the  intrigues  in  St.  Petersburg. 

There  was  a  constant  succession  of  wars, 
ExwLrwion  anc^  Russia  played  various  parts  in  combina- 
tions in  which  were  concerned  the  newly 
established  Kingdom  of  Prussia,  the  France  of  the  last  three 
Louis,  the  England  of  the  Georges,  the  Austria  of  Maria 
Theresa  and  Joseph  II,  an  enfeebled  Sweden,  an  expiring 
Poland,  and  a  declining,  but  still  menacing  Turkey.  In  the 
first  half  of  the  century  Russia  supported  Austria,  in  the 
second  half  the  Prussia  of  Frederick  the  Great.  There  was 
a  moment  before  Catherine's  accession  when  Russian  troops 
occupied  Berlin.  Poland  was  a  pawn  in  the  political  game 
of  the  neighbouring  powers,  and  in  the  reign  of  Catherine  II 
was  thrice  divided,  Russia  receiving  all  Lithuania  and  the 
Ukraine  or  Little  Russia  west  of  the  Dnieper.  After  long 
wars  with  Turkey  and  the  conquest  of  the  Crimea  in  1784, 
Russia  finally  secured  her  hold  on  the  Black  Sea  from  the 
mouth  of  the  Bug  to  the  foot  of  the  Caucasus,  and  in  1783 
the  last  King  of  Georgia,  Irakli,  dreading  absorption  by  Persia, 
acknowledged  the  sovereignty  of  the  Russian  Empress.  From 
Persia  Russia  conquered  the  north-western  shore  of  the 
Caspian.  By  the  end  of  the  eighteenth  century  almost  the  whole 
of  what  is  known  as  European  Russia,  besides  a  considerable 
portion  of  Siberia,  acknowledged  the  rule  of  the  Tsars. 

The  strain  which  this  expansion  involved  on  the  resources 
of  the  nation  was  terrible,  and  a  relaxation  of  internal  tension 

was  necessary.    Catherine  realised  this,  and 
Catherine  of     from  ^e  beginning"  of  Tier  "reign  deliberately 

set  herself  to  promote  the  welfare  of  her 
subjects.  She  summoned  a  commission  to  draw  up  a  general 
Scheme  of  reforms  based  on  the  principles  of  Montesquieu. 
The  plan  proved  impracticable,  but  the  Empress  did  not 


36  Russia  of  the  Russians 

abandon  the  work  of  gradual  internal  reform.  She  began 
to  loosen  the  bonds  which  enslaved  the  population  to  the 
State  and  promoted  education,  the  arts,  and  learning.  She 
opened  schools,  had  schoolbooks  translated,  enlarged  the 
Moscow  University,  which  had  been  founded  in  Elizabeth's 
reign,  gathered  scholars  around  her,  and  with  their  aid  engaged 
in  the  scientific  study  of  her  Empire.  In  a  comparative 
vocabulary  of  the  languages  of  the  world  undertaken  at  her 
instance  by  a  versatile  scholar  named  Pallas  many  entries 
were  made  by  her  own  hand.  Catherine  corresponded  with 
the  French  encyclopaedists,  toyed  with  literature  after  the 
French  manner  of  the  period,  and  wrote  plajrs,  satirical 
essays,  and  memoirs.  It  is  true  that  the  effect  of  her  civilising 
influence  did  not  extend  beyond  the  gentry,  and  that  the 
masses  of  the  people  remained  ignorant  as  before.  Indeed, 
owing  to  the  privileges  Catherine  granted  to  the  gentry, 
serfdom  became  even  more  oppressive  than  it  had  been  ; 
peasant  risings  were  frequent  in  consequence,  and  a  rising 
of  peasants  and  Cossacks  in  Eastern  Russia  under  the  leader- 
ship of  a  young  Cossack  named  Emelian  Pugachev,  who  gave 
himself  out  to  be  the  Tsar  Peter  Feodorovich,  gave  the 
Government  serious  trouble  for  two  years.  To  conceal  the 
wretchedness  of  the  people  from  his  sovereign's  eyes  Catherine's 
favourite,  Potemkin,  set  up  sham  villages  full  of  well-dressed, 
smiling  peasants  along  the  route  of  her  journey  to  the  Crimea. 
But  Catherine  was  sincerely  desirous  of  the  national  welfare 
and  her  reign,  in  spite  of  a  thousand  defects,  was  one  of  real 
progress  for  Russia.  Peter  raised  the  new  building  of  Russian 
statehood,  but  it  was  Catherine  who  first  made  .it  at  all 
habitable.  • 

Catherine  was  succeeded  in  1795  by  her  unhappy,  half- 
witted son,  Paul,  whose  childishly  irresponsible  use  of  absolute 
power  led  to  his  assassination  by  a  band  of  Court  conspirators 
in  1801.  Paul's  uncanny  face  as  depicted  in  Borovikovski's 
portrait  of  him  in  the  Winter  Palace,  with  the  staring  eyes, 
snub  nose,  wide  nostrils,  gaping  mouth,  seems  as  though 


The  Growth  of  Russia  37 

it  had  been  thrust  out  mockingly  from  between  the  splendours 
of  the  preceding  and  following  reigns  for  the  express  purpose 
of  reminding  the  world  of  the  deep-lying  tragedy  associated 
with  the  rise  of  Russian  power. 

Perhaps  it  was  because  of  the  complicity  of  Alexander  I 
in  his  father's  murder  that  the  note  of  tragedy  pervaded  his 

brilliant  reign.     Alexander  began  well.  When 

Alexander  I.    he  ascended  the  throne  the  air  was  full  of 

echoes  of  the  French  Revolution,  and 
Napoleon  was  rapidly  rising  to  power.  Alexander's  tutor, 
the  Swiss  Laharpe,  had  instilled  into  him  broad  ideas  of 
liberty,  equality,  and  justice  which  he  made  some  sincere 
attempts  to  put  into  execution.  He  gave  a  pledge  to  the 
representatives  of  the  Finnish  people  on  their  surrender  to 
him  before  the  close  of  the  Swedish  war  in  1808,  to  observe 
the  autonomous  rights  of  the  Grand  Duchy.  When,  at  the 
Congress  of  Vienna  in  1815,  the  territory  now  known  as  the 
Kingdom  of  Poland  was  allotted  to  him,  he  gave  its  inhab- 
itants a  constitution,  and  seems  to  have  been  very  eager 
for  a  time  that  it  should  be  a  success.  He  made  the  German 
gentry  of  the  Baltic  Provinces  emancipate  their  serfs.  In 
all  these  measures  considerations  of  political  expediency 
were  reinforced  by  a  hankering  sympathy  with  Liberal  ideas. 
Moreover,  the  Napoleonic  wars  threw  Russia  into  the  whirl 
of  European  conflicts.  Russia  became  a  part  of  Europe  as 
never  before.  Napoleon  himself  was  attracted  by  the  vastness 
of  the  Russian  power,  risked  all  his  glory  to  gain  it,  and  lost, 
defeated  not  by  Russian  generalship,  but  by  the  elemental 
forces  of  the  great  plain  of  which  only  the  dwellers  on  it  know 
the  hard-won  secret.  The  march  of  the  Grande  Arm6e  to 
Moscow,  the  stabling  of  troopers'  horses  in  the  cathedrals 
of  the  Kremlin,  the  burning  of  the  ancient  capital,  Napoleon's 
retreat  over  the  snow-clad  plain,  his  flight — these  were  the 
events  that  for  the  first  time  united  Russia  emotionally  with 
Europe,  and  gave  Russian  patriotism  a  modern  colouring. 
Deepened  national  feeling  bore  splendid  literary  fruit  in  the 


38  Russia  of  the  Russians 

work  _oi  Pushkin  and  his  contemporaries.  The  nineteenth 
century  dawned  in  glory  and  in  the  hope  of  liberty.  A  tremor 
of  life  and  intelligence  passed  through  the  inert  mass  of  the 
Russian  nation.  The  impetus  to  development  given  in  the 
reign  of  Catherine  now  took  effect.  Society  in  the  capitals 
became  thoroughly  European  in  character.  In  the  literary 
circles  of  St.  Petersburg  and  Moscow  there  were  not  a  few 
men  who  were  steeped  in  the  best  European  culture  of 
the  period.  The  arts  were  cultivated,  and  St.  Petersburg 
became  from  the  architectural  point  of  view  one  of  the  finest 
capitals  in  Europe.  In  the  masses  of  the  people,  too,  there 
was  a  vague  groping  restlessness  born  partly  of  the  Old 
Believers'  and  other  religious  movements,  partly  of  the 
Pugachev  insurrection,  and  partly  of  the  roving  of  Russian 
armies  over  Europe  during  the  great  campaigns  of  Suverov 
during  the  reigns  of  Catherine  and  Paul,  and  the  Napoleonic 
wars  in  the  early  years  of  Alexander's  reign.  The  reforms 
of  Catherine's  reign  had  not  only  liberated  the  gentry  from 
such  humiliating  subservience  to  the  State  as  was  involved 
in  the  liability  to  corporal  punishment.  They  had  practically 
given  over  the  management  of  the  new  provincial  institutions 
into  the  gentry's  hands.  This  was  one  way  to  train  up  a 
governing  class,  but  as  the  gentry  retained  unlimited  control 
over  their  peasants,  the  lot  of  the  serfs  was  even  harder  than 
before.  It  was  among  the  nobles  and  gentry,  however,  that 
the  idea  of  the  emancipation  of  the  serfs  was  first  clearly 
expressed.  And  this  idea  was  connected  with  that  of  the 
limitation  of  the  autocracy.  Alexander's  friends  and  advisers 
at  the  beginning  of  his  reign,  Novosiltsev,  Stroganov,  who 
had  at  one  time  been  librarian  of  the  Jacobin  club  in  Paris, 
the  Polish  patriot,  Adam  Czartoryzski,  and  Kochubei,  who 
had  been  educated  in  England,  were  all  advocates  of  both 
constitutionalism  and  emancipation. 

But  of  these  dreams  nothing  came  in  Alexander's  reign. 
There  was  a  radical  reform  of  the  central  administrative 
institutions.    The  "  colleges "  were  replaced  by  ministries, 


The  Growth  of  Russia  39 

and  the  Senate  was  made  the  highest  Court  of  Appeal  in  the 
Empire.  With  the  aid  of  a  remarkable  statesman,  Speranskiy 
the  son  of  a  village  priest,  Alexander  established  the  Council 
of  the  Empire,  a  permanent  body  of  high  officials  for  drafting 
laws  and  undertook,  but  did  not  complete,  a  far-reaching 
and  much-needed  plan  of  financial  reform.  After  the  Congress 
of  Vienna,  Alexander's  reforming  ardour  gradually  cooled, 
and  from  1820  onwards  he  became  openly  reactionary.  His 
chief  associates  during  this  period  were  the  fierce  martinet 
and  supporter  of  autocracy,  Arakcheiev,  and  an  ignorant 
and  obscurantist  cleric  named  Photii.  He  sank  into  a  vague 
kind  of  mysticism,  became  gloomy  and  morose,  travelled 
constantly  over  Russia  as  though  pursued  by  an  evil 
conscience,  and  finally  died  at  Taganrog  in  1825. 
Alexander  was  a  well-meaning  man,  capable  of  generous 
enthusiasm,  and  the  great  events  of  his  reign  invested  him  with 
a  halo  of  romance.  But  there  were  in  him  curious  elements 
of  weakness,  a  strange  twist  in  his  character  that  leaves 
an  impression  of  inner  failure,  of  rich  possibilities  blighted. 

Liberal  and  revolutionary  ideas  had  spread  very  widely 
among  the   educated   class  during  Alexander's   reign,   and 

among  the  army  officers  a  number  of  secret 
Nicholas.        societies  had  been  formed  with  the  object 

of  establishing  a  republican  Russia.  On  the 
death  of  Alexander  and  the  accession  of  his  younger  brother 
Nicholas,  in  place  of  the  next  of  age,  Constantine,  who  had 
abandoned  his  claim  to  the  throne,  a  number  of  Guards' 
officers  belonging  to  these  societies  raised  a  mutiny  in  the 
Senate  Square  in  St.  Petersburg,  and  demanded  the  acknow- 
ledgment of  Constantine  as  Emperor  and  the  promulgation 
of  a  constitution.  The  mutiny  was  suppressed,  five  of  its 
ringleaders  hung,  and  thirty-one  exiled  to  Siberia,  and 
Nicholas  in  person  conducted  a  rigorous  inquiry  into  the 
work  of  the  secret  societies.  This  event  greatly  alarmed 
Nicholas  and  set  its  stamp  on  the  whole  of  his  reign.  Like 
his  brother,  Nicholas  began  with  plans  of  reform,  but  very 

4— <2400) 


40  Russia  of  the  Russians 

soon  yielded  to  his  despotic  instincts,  and  resolutely  opposed 
all  the  progressive  tendencies  that  were  rapidly  making 
headway  among  the  educated  classes  in  his  time.  His  general 
attitude  is  well  expressed  in  a  comment  he  made  on  a 
report  on  education  submitted  to  him  by  the  poet  Pushkin. 
"  Morality,  diligent  service  and  zeal,"  he  declared,  "  are 
to  be  preferred  to  crude,  immoral  and  useless  education." 
Nicholas  did  not  aim  at  suppressing  education.  He  wished 
to  subject  it  to  rigid  principles,  to  eliminate  from  it  all 
revolutionary  tendencies,  to  make  it  subservient  to  his  chief 
aim  of  training  up  the  people  in  loyalty  to  Orthodoxy,  Auto- 
cracy and  the  Russian  Nationality.  Indeed,  some  of  the 
young  scholars  whom  he  sent  abroad  to  study  afterwards 
became  leaders  of  light  and  learning  in  the  universities  of 
Moscow,  St.  Petersburg  and  Kazan. 

But  the  general  effect  of  Nicholas*  measures  was  to  stifle 
the  free  expression  of  thought,  and  as  during  his  reign  literature 
developed  with  rapidly  increasing  intensity  the  struggle  between 
harsh  police  measures  and  an  implacable  censorship  on  the 
one  hand  and  ardent  thought  and  aspiration  on  the  other, 
made  the  life  of  the  educated  classes  excessively  gloomy  and 
depressing.  German  intellectual  influences  found  their  way 
into  Russia,  and  gradually  thrust  French  influence  into  the 
background.  The  philosophy  of  Schelling  and  Hegel  was 
eagerly  debated  by  groups  of  students  and  literary  men. 
At  this  time  it  became  possible  sharply  to  distinguish  two 
main  tendencies  of  thought  which  strongly  influenced  subse- 
quent development,  those  of  the  Slavophils  and  the  West- 
erners. The  Slavophils,  adapting  Hegelian  theories,  asserted 
that  Russia  possessed  in  her  own  traditions  and  her  own 
institutions,  the  principles  necessary  for  her  future  develop- 
ment ;  they  dreamt  of  a  Russia  of  free,  self-governing  com- 
munities under  the  shadow  of  the  Autocracy  and  the 
Orthodox  Church.  The  Westerners,  on  the  other  hand, 
strongly  insisted  that  Russia  could  progress  only  through 
the  adoption  of  Western  institutions  and  Western  culture. 


The  Growth  of  Russia  41 

All  Nicholas'  repressive  measures  failed  to  check  the  ferment 
of  ideas :  they  only  gave  it  an  increasingly  political,  and  in 
the  end,  a  revolutionary  character.  It  was  during  Nicholas' 
reign  that  the  stormy  anarchist  Bakunin,  and  that  most  < 
striking  of  Russian  political  thinkers,  Herzen,  began  their 
long  exile  in  Western  Europe,  where  they  worked  each  in 
his  own  way  for  the  political  development  of  Russia. 

Nicholas  was  a  manly,  soldierly  kind  of  ruler,  with  a  strong 
sense  of  responsibility.  But  he  trusted  neither  his  people 
nor  his  officials,  and  tried  to  concentrate  the  administration 
of  the  Empire  in  his  own  hands,  the  result  being  only  an 
oppressive  development  of  the  police  system,  and  a  steady 
growth  of  corruption  amongst  officials  of  all  kinds.  His 
despotic  inclinations  were  intensified  by  the  Polish  insurrection 
in  1831,  and  by  the  French  Revolution  of  1848,  and  it  was 
because  he  felt  that  it  was  his  mission  to  oppose  revolution 
in  all  forms  that  he  sent  his  troops  to  quell  the  Hungarian 
insurrection  in  1848.  He  made  some  slight  additions  to  the 
territory  of  the  Empire  as  the  result  of  a  war  with  Turkey 
in  1829,  but  the  Crimean  war  in  which  he  became  involved 
at  the  close  of  his  reign,  brought  him  only  humiliating  defeats, 
and  forced  him  to  realise  the  disastrous  effects  of  his  despotic 
system  of  government  on  that  very  military  efficiency  that 
he  prized  so  highly.  Deeply  mortified  by  the  revelations  of 
corruption  in  the  army,  he  cried,  "  My  friends  the  Decem- 
brists (the  leaders  of  the  mutiny  in  December,  1825) 
would  never  have  done  this."  Nicholas  died  in  1855, 
before  the  end  of  the  war,  and  was  succeeded  by  his  son 
Alexander  II. 

The  second  half  of  the  nineteenth  century  was  marked 
by  a  fierce  conflict  between  the  old  order  and  developing 

social  forces.    The  process  of  expansion  fell 

Social   Unrest   into  the  background.     The  western  frontiers 

of  the  Empire  were  fixed,  and  expansion 
eastward  into  the  territory  of  decaying  Central  Asiatic 
Khanates  was  almost  effortless.    The  Russian  people  had 


42  Russia  of  the  Russians 

at  last  conquered  the  plain,  and  the  Government  availed 
itseli  of  European  technical  discoveries  to  strengthen  its 
hold  on  the  plain  by  purely  mechanical  means  such  as  railways 
and  telegraphs.  Railways  and  telegraphs,  in  fact,  served  the 
purposes  of  bureaucratic  centralisation,  but  at  the  same 
time  hastened  the  dissemination  of  new  ideas.  The  Europe 
of  the  nineteenth  century  was  elated  and  turbulent  in  its 
pursuit  of  progress.  The  world  was  a  modern  world.  The 
old  Muscovite  seclusion  was  a  thing  of  the  far  distant  past. 
It  was  impossible  to  hold  the  great  plain  by  Muscovite  methods, 
or  even  the  methods  of  Peter  the  Great,  ajid  the  principles 
and  methods  of  that  virile  despot  Nicholas  I  had  been  tried 
in  the  Crimean  War,  and  been  found  wholly  wanting  even 
from  the  standpoint  of  a  merely  mechanical  grasp  on  territory. 
The  Russian  people  had  hitherto  blindly  followed  the  lead 
of  an  unknown  destiny.  But  it  could  no  longer  be  dragged 
at  the  heels  of  destiny  in  the  form  of  the  State.  To  hold  and 
administer  its  immense  territory  the  State  was  compelled 
to  train  a  modern  army  and  to  educate  a  bureaucracy.  But 
the  training  institutions  were  channels  by  which  European 
ideas  found  their  way  into  the  minds  of  the  governed.  The 
universities  turned  out  the  Government  official  and  the 
revolutionary,  and  often  enough  both  in  one  person.  The 
educated  classes  were  keenly  aware  of  the  position  of  the 
people,  and  struggled  to  secure  for  it  the  right  of  intelligent 
participation  in  the  great  task  of  nation-building.  The 
Government  now  yielded  to  the  demand  for  reform,  now 
retreated  to  its  old  positions.  The  struggle  was  full  of  tragedy, 
of  that  intricate  tragedy  that  seems  implicit  in  Russian 
development.  It  was  a  struggle  between  the  spirit  of  the 
steppe  and  the  spirit  of  the  forest.  And  the  goal  of  the 
idealists  who  fought  against  the  old  order  was  a  liberty  as 
vast  and  as  exhilarating  as  the  plain  itself.  This  ideal  is 
still  present,  deeply  troubling,  but  in  the  process  of  struggle 
it  is  gradually  passing  from  the  region  of  abstraction  to  that 
of  real  and  minute  achievement. 


The  Growth  of  Russia  43 

Alexander  II,  like  his  uncle,  Alexander  I,  began  with 
reforms  and  ended  in  reaction.    But  the  reforms  of  Alexander 

II  were  very  far-reaching,  and  marked  the 

Alexander  II.    beginning  of  a  new  epoch  of  development. 

The  new  Emperor  first  of  all  modified  the 
severity  of  the  police  regime,  gave  a  certain  amount  of  liberty 
to  the  press,  and  then  with  the  help  of  his  talented  brother, 
Constantine  Nikolaievich,  the  enlightened  Grand  Duchess 
Elena  Pavlovna,  who  cultivated  the  friendship  of  scholars 
and  literary  men,  and  had  effected  the  organisation  of  medical 
aid  to  the  wounded  during  the  Crimean  War,  the  broad-minded 
statesman,  Nicholas  Miliutin,  and  many  other  men  of  mark, 
he  began  the  work  of  reform  from  the  base  upwards.  The 
first  and  most  urgent  task  to  be  undertaken  was  that  of  the 
emancipation  of  the  serfs.  From  the  end  of  the  eighteenth 
century  onwards,  Liberals  had  demanded  the  abolition  of 
serfdom,  the  more  enlightened  landowners  had  long  since 
begun  to  realise  that  it  was  economically  unprofitable,  and 
the  disasters  of  the  Crimean  War  had  shown  the  Emperor 
himself  that  the  continued  existence  of  serfdom  was  a  danger 
to  the  State.  Committees  were  organised  in  the  various 
governments  to  study  the  question,  and  editorial  commissions 
sifted  the  materials.  The  Chief  Committee  in  St.  Petersburg 
finally  drafted  an  elaborate  emancipation  scheme  which, 
after  discussion  in  the  Council  of  the  Empire,  was  in  its  main 
features  confirmed  by  the  Emperor,  and  in  a  manifesto  issued 
on  February  19th  (March  4th),  1861,  which  the  landlords  were 
commanded  to  read  to  their  assembled  peasants,  the  institution 
of  serfdom  was  abolished  in  Russia.  Alexander's  energy  in 
carrying  this  great  reform  through  in  the  teeth  of  the  opposi- 
tion of  powerful  cliques  of  reactionary  landlords,  was  the 
more  remarkable  seeing  that  he  was  not  a  reformer  by  instinct 
or  training,  but  was  simply  convinced  of  the  political  necessity 
of  the  measure.  Over  ten  million  peasants  were  liberated 
and  enabled  to  purchase  allotments  of  land  from  their  former 
masters  through  the  Government,  by  means  of  a  system  of 


4- 


44  Russia  of  the  Russians 

redemption  payments,  spread  out  over  a  long  term  of  years 
in  the  form  of  an  addition  to  the  taxes.  In  Little  Russia 
the  allotments  became  the  property  of  individual  peasants, 
while  amongst  the  Great  Russian  peasantry1  the  ownership 
of  the  land  of  the  freed  serfs  was  vested  in  the  village  com- 
munes. The  change  effected  was  a  veritable  upheaval,  and 
in  order  to  cope  with  the  immense  work  of  reorganisation 
involved  a  reform  of  local  government  became  necessary. 
Zemstvos  or  Provincial  and  District  Councils,  composed  of 
elected  representatives  of  the  gentry,  the  peasantry  and  the 
townspeople,  were  established  in  thirty-three  governments  of 
European  Russia  with  power  to  levy  rates,  to  maintain 
schools,  roads  and  hospitals,  and  generally  to  promote  the 
economic  welfare  of  the  population.  The  Zemstvos  became 
strongholds  of  progress,  training  schools  for  public  workers, 
and  forerunners  of  constitutionalism  in  Russia.  Justice 
was  in  a  deplorable  condition,  and  here,  too,  reform  was 
urgently  necessary.  By  measures  enacted  in  1864  a  radically 
new  judicial  system  was  established,  theoretically  more  perfect, 
juster,  more  humane  than  any  other  European  system.  All 
these  reforms,  known  as  the  Great  Reforms  of  the  Sixties, 
aroused  an  ardour  for  progress,  a  passionate  humanitarianism, 
a  sense  of  rich  and  manifold  opportunity  such  as  had  never 
been  known  in  Russia  before.  Public  opinion  came  into 
existence  in  a  land  till  then  almost  inarticulate,  and  public 
opinion  was  aboundingly  optimistic.  But  the  hopes  awakened 
by  the  reforms  fell  short  of  fulfilment,  and  in  1886  a  reaction 
set  in. 

The  comparative  liberty  given  to  the  press  in  the  early 
years  of  Alexander's  reign  had  stimulated  an  intellectual 
movement ;  social  and  political  questions  were  eagerly 
debated  under  a  thin  veil  of  literary  criticism,  and  public 
opinion  divided  itself  into  three  camps — the  Slavophils, 
and  a  Liberal  and  a  Socialist  group  of  Westerners.  The  chief 
organ  of  the  Liberals  was  Herzen's  Kolokol  (The  Bell),  which 
was  published  in  London,  was  read  by 'influential  members 


The  Growth  of  Russia  45 

of  the  Government,  including  the  Emperor  himself,  and 
greatly  influenced  the  course  of  the  Emancipation  Reform. 
The  Slavophils,  led  by  Aksakov  and  Samarin,  had  their 
centre  in  Moscow,  while  the  Radicals,  under  the  leadership 
of  Chernishevski,  were  grouped  around  the  monthly 
Sovremennik.  The  growth  of  Radical  and  Socialist  tendencies 
alarmed  the  Government,  and  in  1862  Chernishevski  and 
several  of  his  associates  were  arrested  and  deported  to  the 
Siberian  mines.  The  insurrection  which  broke  out  in  Poland 
in  1863,  and  which  provoked  the  Government  to  severe 
reprisals,  including  the  entire  abolition  of  Polish  autonomy, 
was'at  first  looked  on  by  the  Russian  Liberals  with  a  certain 
sympathy.  But  the  intervention  of  European  powers  at  the 
instance  of  Napoleon  III  led  to  a  strong  revulsion  of  feeling 
in  favour  of  the  Government,  and  a  prominent  Liberal  publicist, 
Katkov,  became  from  this  time  on  the  ablest  advocate  of  the 
Government  policy.  Herzen,  by  strongly  taking  the  side 
of  the  Poles  during  the  insurrection,  lost  the  enormous  prestige 
he  had  hitherto  enjoyed  in  Russia,  and  he  became  identified 
with  the  Radical  group.  It  was  about  this  time  that  the 
so-called  "  Nihilist "  tendency  made  itself  manifest.  The 
Nihilists  were  the  Futurists  of  that  period.  They  were  young 
Radicals  who  in  their  passion  for  science  and  progress  scoffed 
at  aesthetics,  defied  conventions  of  every  kind,  pooh-poohed 
religion  and  tradition,  and  admitted  no  guide  but  reason. 
But  Nihilism  was  only  a  tendency.  There  was  never  a  party 
called  Nihilists,  and  Nihilists  were  not  necessarily  terrorists, 
though  terrorists  were  often  Nihilists  in  their  attitude  to 
life.  It  was  from  the  tumult  of  conflicting  forces  that  marked 
the  early  sixties  that  the  revolutionary  movement  developed. 
-  Alexander  grew  weary  of  reform  and  alarmed  at  the  complex 
variety  of  social  forces  his  reforms  had  called  into  action,  and 
when  in  1866  a  nam  named  Karakozov,  acting  entirely  on 
his  own  responsibility,  fired  a  shot  at  the  Emperor,  the  policy 
of  the  Government  was  reversed.  A  new  period  of  reaction 
began,  and  during  this  period  the  revolutionary  movement 


46  Russia  of  the  Russians 

steadily  gained  in  strength.  No  further  reforms  were  granted, 
repressive  measures  were  directed  against  the  press  and  the 
Zemstvos,  and  the  police  powers  of  the  governors  were 
extended.  Amongst  the  students  of  the  universities  arose 
a  movement  known  as  "  going  into  the  people,"  which  meant 
that  educated  young  men  and  women  carried  the  University 
Settlement  principle  to  its  utmost  limit,  that  is  to  say,  they 
tried  to  bring  enlightenment  to  the  ignorant  peasants  by 
mixing  with  them,  and  living  and  dressing  exactly  as  they  did. 
At  first  this  movement  had  a  purely  educative  and  human- 
itarian character.  It  was  only  later  that  it  became  political. 
The  political  revolutionary  movement  was  developed  abroad 
by  Bakunin  and  his  associates.  But  the  Government,  by 
constantly  arresting  young  men  and  women  who  gathered 
together  in  conspirative  mutual  improvement  societies  where 
they  eagerly  studied  how  they  might  be  useful  to  the  people, 
promoted  the  growth  of  a  revolutionary  movement  at  home. 
Prince  Kropotkin  brought  Bakunin's  revolutionary  writings 
into  Russia,  and  hundreds  of  students  went  amongst  the 
peasants,  this  time  not  to  teach  them  the  alphabet,  but  to 
incite  them  to  insurrection.  About  a  thousand  of  these 
students  were  arrested.  The  Government  redoubled  its 
repressive  measures,  and  struck  at  random  in  its  efforts  to 
crush  the  revolutionary  movement.  But  the  revolutionaries 
organised  in  1876  a  party  under  the  name  of  Land  and  Liberty 
with  the  object  of  bringing  about  an  agrarian  revolution. 
This  was  the  first  organisation  of  any  strength  that  was 
avowedly  terrorist  in  character.  A  peaceable  demonstration 
arranged  by  the  party  in  the  Kazan  Square  in  St.  Petersburg, 
led  to  a  large  number  of  arrests  and  to  fresh  additions  to  the 
long  procession  eastwards  to  Siberia.  In  1877  a  girl  named 
Vera  Zasulich  fired  at  and  wounded  General  Trepov  the 
prefect  of  St.  Petersburg,  because  he  had  a  political  prisoner 
flogged  for  refusing  to  lift  his  hat.  The  Government,  hoping 
to  rally  public  opinion  to  its  side,  had  the  case  tried  in  open 
court,  but  Vera  Zasulich  defended  herself  with  such  effect 


The  Growth  of  Russia  47 

that  she  won  the  sympathy  of  the  public,  and  the  jury  acquitted 
her.  This  incident  greatly  stimulated  the  energies  of  the 
terrorists. 

But  the  revolutionaries  were  at  that  time  a  small  minority. 
The  reaction  weighed  heavily  on  all  classes,  but  it  could  not 
stay  a  powerful  intellectual  movement,  and  it  was  in  the 
sixties  and  seventies  that  Turgeniev,  Tolstoy  and  Dcstoievski 
produced  the  novels  that  made  Russian  literature  famous 
throughout  Europe.  The  Government  itself  had  recourse 
to  the  aid  of  the  press,  and  its  efforts  to  form  a  strong  body 
of  conservative  public  opinion  were  vigorously  supported 
by  Katkov,  who  in  the  Moskovskia  Viedomosti  (Moscow 
Gazette),  supplied  the  Government  with  ideas  in  the  shape 
of  an  extreme  Nationalism.  A  wave  of  genuine  national 
enthusiasm  swept  over  the  country  when,  in  1877,  Alexander 
came  to  Moscow  and  solemnly  declared  war  against  Turkey 
in  the  name  of  the  liberation  of  the  Bulgarians.  There  was 
a  momentary  revival  of  the  ardour  of  the  early  sixties,  and 
many  disappointed  revolutionaries  rushed  to  the  front  to 
serve  as  volunteers  or  as  medical  helpers.  But  the  war  had 
no  effect  on  the  internal  situation,  and  Liberals  complained 
bitterly  that  the  Emperor,  who  had  given  a  constitution  to 
liberated  Bulgaria,  withheld  one  from  his  own  Empire. 
Terrorist  attacks  on  governors  and  gendarme  officers  became 
frequent,  and  two  more  attempts  were  made  on  the  life  of 
Alexander.  The  "  Land  and  Liberty "  party  split  into  a 
purely  terrorist  group  named  the  Narodnaya  Volia,oT"  People's 
Will,"  and  an  agrarian  group,  and  the  Narodnaya  Volia 
entered  on  a  systematic  terrorist  campaign.  The  Government 
retaliated  by  multiplying  repressive  measures  and,  in  1880, 
an  Armenian,  Count  Loris-Melikov,  was  appointed  Dictator 
for  the  purpose  of  rooting  out  sedition.  A  lull  in  the  terrorist 
campaign  gave  Loris-Melikov,  who  was  in  friendly  intercourse 
with  the  Zemstvo  Liberals,  occasion  to  induce  Alexander 
to  continue  the  work  of  reform  by  preparing  the  ground  for 
a  constitution.    But  he  had  hardly  begun  to  put  his  plans 


48  Russia  of  the  Russians 

into  execution  when  on  March  14th,  1881,  Alexander  II, 
when  driving  in  a  sleigh  along  the  Catherine  Canal  in  St. 
Petersburg,  was  killed  by  bombs  thrown  by  the  terrorists 
of  the  Narodnaya  Volia.  * 

The  murder  of  Alexander  II  threw  back  the  work  of  reform 
for  years  and  intensified  the  reaction.     Alexander  III,  the 

new  Emperor,  believed  solely  in  police  methods 
Alexander  III.    of  government,  and  the  Nationalism  of  Katkov 

and  of  Alexander's  chief  adviser,  that  strange 
reactionary  for  conscience'  sake,  Pobiedcnostsev,  formed  the 
staple  of  the  Government  policy.  The  Russian  Empire 
includes  a  large  number  of  peoples  of  non-Russian  nationality 
whom  the  Russians  had  subdued  in  the  process  of  their  con- 
quest of  the  plain.  There  are  Germans,  Poles  and  Esthonians 
in  the  Baltic  provinces,  Poles  in  the  South-West,  Little- 
Russians  in  the  South,  Jews  in  the  former  territory  of  the 
Polish  State,  Armenians,  Georgians,  and  a  host  of  smaller 
peoples  in  the  Caucasus,  Tartars  in  the  Caucasus,  in  Eastern 
Russia  and  Siberia,  and  a  variety  of  other  peoples  in  Siberia 
and  Central  Asia.  The  Government  aimed  at  forcibly  assim- 
ilating these  peoples  to  the  Russian  nationality,  but  the  policy 
of  Russification  instead  of  consolidating  the  unity  of  the 
Empire  aroused  bitter  resentment  against  the  ruling  race. 
The  chief  sufferers  during  the  reign  of  Alexander  III  were 
the  Poles,  the  Jews,  and  the  Germans  of  the  Baltic  provinces. 
For  Russians  there  was  not  a  glimmering  hope  of  reform. 
A  great  extension  of  territory  was  effected  in  Central  Asia, 
and  the  influence  of  Russia  in  European  affairs  was  increased 
by  the  conclusion  of  an  alliance  with  France.  Alexander 
III  was  a  sturdy  soldier  of  limited  intelligence,  but  with  a 
strong  sense  of  his  duty  as  an  autocrat  and  a  curious  faith 
in  a  blend  of  faded  Muscovite  romanticism  with  the  virtues 
of  modern  artillery  and  strategical  railways. 

Alexander  III  died  in  1894,  and  the  autocracy  outlived 
him  by  eleven  years.  •  During  the  early  years  of  the  reign 
of  the  present  Emperor  Nicholas  II,  there  were  no  outward 


THE    EMPRESS   AND    THE   TSAREVICII 


The  Growth  of  Russia  49 

symptoms  of  the  approaching  change.    The  policy  of  Russifi- 
cation  was  continued  and  was  applied  with  great  vigour  to 

Finland  where,  under  the  shelter  of  the  autono- 
Nicholas  II.     mous  rights,  maintained  in  their  integrity  by 

Alexander  I  and  his  successors,  a  stubborn 
and  capable  people  had  developed  an  interesting  culture  of  its 
own.  The  Minister  of  Finance,  Count  Witte,  a  man  with  a 
keen  modern  business  mind,  tried  to  give  a  new  lease  of  life 
to  the  autocratic  and  bureaucratic  system  by  measures  of  a 
purely  technical  character,  such  as  railway  construction, 
the  artificial  promotion  of  industrial  enterprises,  and  a  reform 
of  the  monetary  system  by  the  establishment  of  the  gold 
standard.  But  the  Russia  that  made  possible  an  autocracy  <. 
was  quietly  slipping  away.  Strategical  railways  were  arousing 
villages  from  their  sleep,  and  bringing  them  to  rapidly-growing 
capitals.  Factory  chimneys  had  risen  up  in  clusters  at 
various  points  on  the  plain.  In  the  region  of  the  Don  there 
was  a  Black  Country  of  mines  and  foundries.  During  the 
second  half  of  the  century,  Poland,  the  Moscow  region,  Riga 
and  St.  Petersburg,  had  become  important  manufacturing 
centres,  and  millions  of  peasants  were  abandoning  their 
homespun  for  the  cheap  cotton  goods  which  all  kinds  of 
enterprising  middlemen,  from  the  anglicised  wholesale  dealer 
to  the  old-fashioned  bearded  merchant  in  a  caftan  and  the 
Tartar  pedlar,  hawked  over  the  plain  from  Reval  to  Vlad- 
ivostok. With  the  increase  of  population  the  land  allotments 
of  the  Emancipation  period  had  grown  too  small,  and  the 
peasantry  were  restless  and  discontented.  The  number  of  v 
schools  had  little  by  little  increased,  and  new  ideas  were  ' 
slowly  finding  their  way  into  the  masses.  The  educated 
classes  were  gradually  recovering  from  the  apathy  into  which 
they  had  sunk  during  the  eighties.  The  famine  of  1892  was 
a  sharp  call  to  compassion,  and  eager  bands  of  helpers  illus- 
trious and  obscure — Tolstoy,  side  by  side  with  a  village 
schoolmistress — hastened  to  relieve  the  starving  peasants  of 
the   Volga   region.    The  growth  of  industry  modified  the 


50  Russia  of  the  Russians 

views  of  the  Socialist  groups.  In  the  nineties,  Social  Demo- 
crats made  their  appearance,  and  attacking  the  older  school 
of  Populist  Socialists  who  pinned  their  faith  to  the  peasantry, 
concentrated  all  their  efforts  on  agitation  among  the  factory 
workmen.  v  The  Zemstvo  Liberals  groped  their  way  towards 
organisation,  and  in  1902  founded  in  Stuttgart  a  Liberal 
organ  of  the  type  of  the  Kolokol  under  the  editorship  of  Peter 
Struve.  A  Social  Revolutionary  party  was  founded  in  1900, 
and  both  Social  Democrats  and  Social  Revolutionaries  formed 
organisations  abroad  among  the  hundreds  who  had  at  one 
time  or  other  escaped  from  police  repression  in  their  native 
land  for  political  reasons,  smuggled  their  literature  into 
Russia,  and  carried  on  conspirative  propaganda  amongst  the 
workmen  and  peasantry,  and  the  students  in  the  Univer- 
sities and  technical  schools.  Terrorist  action  was  renewed 
in  the  early  years  of  the  present  century,  and  the  political 
police  scented  revolution  everywhere. 

But  revolutionary  activity  was  very  slight  considering  the 
vast  extent  of  the  Empire,  and  on  the  surface  things  were 

quiet.     President  Faure  and  President  Loubet 

AUFrtnceWitl1    came  to  St*   PetersburS>  and  the  Emperor 

Nicholas  went  to  France,  and  the  alliance 

between  France  and  Russia  was  firmly  cemented.  M.  Witte 
tried  to  swell  the  exchequer  and  diminish  drinking  by  estab- 
lishing a  State  brandy  monopoly.  There  was  a  movement 
to  the  Far  East.  The  Trans-Siberian  railway  was  completed, 
Russian  troops  occupied  Manchuria,  and  a  Russian  naval 
base  was  established  at  Port  Arther.  But  it  was  just  this 
movement  of  expansion  when  internal  conditions  were  unstable 
that  led  to  disaster.  In  January,  1904,  Japan  declared  war 
on  Russia,  and  in  the  war  that  followed  Russia  suffered  an 
unparalleled  series  of  defeats.  The  war  let  loose  all  the  forces 
of  discontent  at  home.  While  Russian  armies  retired  step 
by  step  before  the  Japanese  in  Manchuria,  a  revolutionary 
movement  rapidly  developed  in  the  centre  of  the  Empire. 
It  began  with  the  assassination  of  the  Minister  of  the  Interior 


The  Growth  of  Russia  51 

Plehve,  in  July,  1904  ;  it  received  a  tremendous  impetus  from 
the  shooting  down  of  workmen  on  Red  Sunday,  June  22nd, 
1905,  in  St.  Petersburg,  and  after  the  conclusion  of  peace  in 
August  it  culminated  in  a  general  strike  throughout  Russia. 
The  strike  was  brought  to  an  end  by  the  promulgation  on 
October  30th,  1905,  of  that  manifesto  by  which  the  Emperor 
limited  his  power,  affirmed  the  principles  of  civil  liberty,  and 
declared  that  thenceforward  no  law  should  be  valid  without 
the  consent  of  an  elective  National  Assembly.  This  manifesto 
marked  the  end  of  a  historical  epoch  and  the  beginning  of  a 
new  era  of  development.  It  was  an  expression  of  the 
formal  abolition  of  the  autocracy  and  the  establishment  of 
constitutional  government  in  Russia. 


CHAPTER  II 

THE   BUREAUCRACY  AND  THE  CONSTITUTION 

During  the  last  few  years  Russia  has  been  absorbed  in  a 
struggle  between   bureaucracy  and  constitutionalism.    The 

struggle  is  not  yet  over.     Its  forms  change 

Conflict  of     from  year  to  year.     It  becomes  more  complex 

^        and  more  profound.    There  has  been  nothing 

quite  like  it  in  all  the  world's  history.  Some 
of  its  phases  may  be  illustrated  from  the  history  of  other 
European  countries,  but  references  to  the  French  Revolution, 
to  the  Italian  Risorgimento,  or  to  the  establishment  of  repre- 
sentative institutions  in  Germany,  will  not  explain  the  Russian 
struggle.  The  Russian  constitutional  movement  was  preceded 
by  similar  movements  on  the  Continent  of  Europe,  in  Germany 
and  in  Austria,  though  it  lagged  nearly  three-quarters  of  a 
cetatury  behind  these.  In  its  turn  it  gave  an  impulse  to 
constitutional  movements  in  the  East,  first  in  Persia,  then 
in  Turkey,  and  last  of  all  in  China.  But,  as  is  well  known, 
the  promulgation  of  constitutions  in  Eastern  countries  has 
not  been  followed  by  such  striking  and  indubitable  progress 
as  was  anticipated ;  has  in  fact,  in  some  cases,  served  only 
the  more  clearly  to  reveal  how  deeply  these  countries  were 
sunk  in  decay.  And  then  again  the  experience  of  the  last 
few  years  has  shown  that  on  the  European  continent,  in 
America,  and  in  England  itself,  constitutional  government, 
though  obviously  a  tremendous  advance  on  absolutism,  is 
not  such  a  simple  and  all-sufficing  remedy  for  the  ills  of  the 
body  politic  as  it  seemed  fifty  years  ago.  Russia  is  in  the 
extraordinarily  difficult  position  of  having  to  deal  at  once 
with  the  problems  of  East  and  West.  She  has  to  make  up 
for  lost  time  in  the  adoption  of  European  institutions,  at 
a  moment  when  Europe  itself  is  trying  to  adapt  them  to  more 

52 


The  Bureaucracy  and  the  Constitution     53 

complex  social  conditions.  And  she  has  to  tide  over  that 
most  painful  of  all  periods  when  constitutional  principles 
have  not  acquired  energy  enough  to  transform  the  body 
politic,  but  serve  simply  to  lay  bare  the  havoc  wrought  by 
centuries  of  despotic  government.  It  is  true  that  the  pro- 
mulgation of  the  Constitutional  Manifesto  in  1905  marked 
the  beginning  of  a  new  era  for  Russia.  But  the  early  years 
of  the  new  era  have  brought  even  more  acute  suffering  than 
did  the  later  years  of  the  old,  just  as  a  latent  disease  becomes 
more  violent  when  it  finds  its  way  into  the  open.  The  remedy 
that  began  by  bringing  the  disease  to  the  surface  will  gradually 
effect  a  recovery.  But  the  process  involves  shocks,  and 
constant  relapses,  and  intense  pain.  And  the  subject  of  this  \/ 
process  is  not  a  tiny  Belgium,  or  an  island  in  the  midst  of  the 
sea,  or  a  comfortably-sized  Germany,  but  an  immense  Empire 
with  a  population  of  160  millions,  and  watchful  enemies  on 
her  Eastern  and  Western  frontiers.  Revolution  and  reaction, 
liberty  and  repression,  all  the  words  with  which  we  are  accus- 
tomed to  express  phases  of  the  struggle  for  representative 
government  have  acquired  in  the  vast  sweep  of  the  Russian 
constitutional  movement  a  hundred  new  connotations  and 
implications.  There  is  nothing  simple  here,  nothing  to  which 
justice  can  be  done  by  familiar  and  hackneyed  phrases. 

The  main  issue,  however,  is  clear.  The  struggle  is  being 
waged  between  the  bureaucracy  and  constitutionalism.  But 
what  is  the  bureaucracy  ?  Literally,  it  is  rule  by  means  of 
bureaux  or  Government  offices.  But  there  are  Government 
offices  in  every  country,  and  the  distinction  between  a  civil 
service  and  a  bureaucracy  is  that  the  former  is  subject  to 
control  while  the  latter  is  not.  A  bureaucrat  may  be  a  per- 
fectly reasonable,  capable  and  hard-working  being  in  so  far 
as  he  is  a  civil  servant,  but  in  so  far  as  he  exercises  the  power 
of  the  State  arbitrarily  and  irresponsibly  he  can,  and  human 
nature  being  what  it  is,  very  likely  will  do  a  very  great  deal 
of  harm.  The  Russian  State  has  been  held  together  very 
largely  owing  to  the  fact  that  the  highly  organised  civil  service 


54  Russia  of  the  Russians 

which  carries  on  the  business  of  administration  was  by  no 
means  wholly  incompetent,  and  did  a  certain  amount  of 
useful  work  every  day  of  the  year.  What  very  nearly  ruined 
the  State  completely  was  the  fact  that  the  total  absence  of 
popular  control  over  the  bureaucracy  set  a  premium  on 
incompetence  and  dishonesty,  and  encouraged  the  worst 
y£-  forms  of  exploitation.  It  would  seem  quite  simple  to  remedy 
matters  by  putting  the  bureaucracy  under  popular  control 
and  giving  the  people,  through  its  elected  representatives, 
a  voice  in  legislation.  But  the  very  bigness  of  Russia  makes 
the  application  of  such  a  remedy  difficult,  because  nowhere 
in  the  world  has  a  highly-centralised  bureaucracy  had  at  its 
uncontrolled  disposal  such  a  vast  territory  and  such  an 
enormous  extent  of  political  power.  It  is  true  that  the 
bureaucracy  exercised  power  in  the  name  of  the  Monarch. 
But  in  practice  this  delegated  dominance  was  hardly  dis- 
tinguishable from  original  power,  and  an  ispravnik  or  district 
Chief  of  Police  in  Siberia  wrought  his  will  on  the  population 
with  unchallenged  authority.  The  task  of  bringing  under 
popular  control  such  an  immense  and  complex  organisation 
with  such  a  tangled  variety  of  personal  interests  and  such  a 
heavy  weight  of  tradition  behind  it,  would  have  been  almost 
a  hopeless  one  if  the  bureaucracy  had  been  thoroughly  efficient. 
But  a  bureaucracy  naturally  tends  to  collapse  under  the 
burden  of  its  own  corruption,  and  the  demonstration  of 
'  bureaucratic  incompetence  and  corruption  given  in  the 
Russo-Japanese  war  facilitated  the  task  of  the  reformers. 

It  would  be  quite  wrong  to  say  that  the  Russian  Civil  Service 
is  wholly  composed  of  bureaucrats  pure  and  simple.    There 

are  bureaucrats,  a  great  many  of  them,  and 
The  Civil       there    are    also    a    number   of    Government 

Service 

.employees  who  to-day  are  more  or  less  tinged 
with  the  bureaucratic  spirit,  but  to-morrow  would  do  their 
duty  just  as  well  or  even  better  if  a  Constitutional  regime 
were  in  full  swing.  The  Russian  Government  Service,  taken 
as  a  whole,  includes  a  large  number  of  interesting  types, 


The  Bureaucracy  and  the  Constitution     55 

from  elegant  men  of  the  world  to  that  pettifogging  Dryasdust 
familiarly  known  as  a  "  Chancellery  rat,"  from  the  rough 
red-faced  police  captain  to  the  mild-mannered  bespectacled 
excise  clerk,  from  the  dried-up  martinet  at  the  head  of  a 
St.  Petersburg  department  to  the  slow-moving,  long-haired 
country  postmaster.  Governors,  senators,  clerks  of  court, 
tax  collectors,  school-inspectors,  telegraph  clerks,  customs 
officials,  wardens  of  the  peasantry,  heads  of  consistories, 
all  are  engaged  in  the  business  of  the  Empire,  all  are 
formally  in  the  service  of  the  Tsar.  It  is  a  State  in 
uniform.  The  very  schoolboys  wear  uniform,  and  even 
high-sdiool  girls  have  to  wear  brown  dresses  and  brown 
aprons.  Ministers  wear  uniforms,  not  in  the  routine  of 
work  in  St.  Petersburg,  but  on  State  occasions  and  when 
they  travel  about  the  country.  Judges  wear  uniforms,  and 
so  do  Government  engineers  and  land-surveyors,  and  a 
host  of  other  people  whose  salary  filters  down  through  many 
channels  from  the  St.  Petersburg  Treasury.  Brass  buttons 
and  peaked  caps,  peaked  caps  and  brass  buttons,  uniforms 
with  blue,  red,  or  white  facings  meet  the  eye  with  weari- 
some monotony  from  end  to  end  of  the  Empire,  from  the 
Pacific  to  the  Danube.  A  Russian  may  wear  uniform  his 
whole  life  long.  As  a  little  boy  of  eight  he  goes  proudly 
off  to  a  preparatory  school  in  a  long  grey  overcoat,  reaching 
almost  to  the  ground,  and  in  a  broad-crowned  cap  with  the 
peak  tilted  over  his  snub  nose.  When  school  days  are  over 
he  dons  the  uniform  of  a  student,  and  after  a  few  years  at 
University  or  Technical  College,  enters  a  Ministry  and  puts 
on  one  of  the  many  official  uniforms.  The  years  pass,  he 
is  gradually  promoted,  and  at  fifty  he  is  trudging  in  uniform 
with  portfolio  under  his  arm  to  his  Ministry,  just  as  with 
bag  on  shoulders  he  tramped  to  school  when  he  was  a  little 
boy  of  eight. 

All  the  Government  officials  are  Chinovniks,  that  is  to  say, 
each  of  them  stands  in  a  definite  chin,  or  rank.  Peter  the 
Great  established  an  order  of  promotion  called  the  Tabel 

5— (2400) 


56  Russia  of  the  Russians 

Rangov,  or  Table  of  Ranks,  and  this  order  is  in  force  to  the 
present  day.     Once  a  man  is  drawn  into  the  subtle  mech- 
anism of  the  Table  of  Ranks  he  may  go  on 
How  the       from  grade  to  grade  with  hardly  an  effort  on 

iaWwSd7  k*s  P211**  by  *he  mere  *ac*  °*  existing  and 
growing  wrinkled  and  grey-haired.  When  he 
enters  the  Government  service  he  receives  a  paper  called 
the  formtdiarny  spisok  or  Formular  Listen  which  the  events 
of  his  life  are  noted  down  from  year  to  year — his  appointment 
to  a  particular  table  in  the  Ministry  of  Justice,  his  marriage, 
the  birth  of  his  children,  his  leave,  his  illnesses,  his  appoint- 
ment to  a  commission  or  committee,  his  despatch  on  special 
service,  and  then  the  long  series  of  decorations  and  promotions, 
various  degrees  of  the  Order  of  St.  Anne,  St.  Stanislav,  St. 
Vladimir,  and  it  may  be  high  up  on  the  last  rungs  of  the 
bureaucratic  ladder  such  coveted  decorations  as  the  Order 
of  St.  Andrew,  or  even  the  White  Eagle.  The  orders  are  a 
reward  for  good  service.  But  the  chins,  or  grades,  need  not 
necessarily  be  so.  A  chinorMik  may  be  promoted  from 
grade  to  grade  simply  for  "  having  served  the  due  term  of 
years,"  as  the  phrase  is,  but  his  promotion  may  be  hastened 
through  favour  in  high  places  or  in  recognition  of  special 
diligence  or  ability.  The  names  of  grades  have  no  meaning 
except  as  indicating  the  grade.  They  are  the  same  throughout 
the  civil  service,  and  give  no  suggestion  of  the  office  held 
by  the  possessor.  They  were  originally  adapted  from  German 
titles,  and  look  imposing  when  re-translated  into  German. 
Thus  the  grade  of  nadvorny  sovietnik  is  not  a  particularly 
high  one,  but  when  it  appears  in  German  as  Hofrat,  or  Court 
Councillor,  the  impression  is  given  that  the  possessor  is  a 
personage  of  considerable  importance.  But  the  really  impor- 
tant chins  are  that  of  Staatsky  Sovietnik,  which  is  perhaps 
not  so  important  as  it  looks  in  its  German  guise  of  Staatsrath, 
or  Councillor  of  State,  but  seems  to  secure  a  man  against 
undue  caprices  on  the  part  of  Fortune,  and  to  invest  him 
with  an  air  of  respectability  ;  and  then  the  grades  that  make 


The  Bureaucracy  and  the  Constitution     57 

the  man  who  attains  to  them  a  noble  if  he  is  not  one  by  birth. 
There  is  a  chin  that  conveys  personal  nobility,  and  the  chin 
of  dieistvitelny  staatsky  sovietnik,  or  Real  State  Councillor, 
conveys  hereditary  nobility.  In  this  way  the  ranks  of  the 
gentry  are  constantly  recruited  from  the  bureaucracy,  and 
the  traditional  connection  between  rank  and  Government 
service  is  maintained  in  actual  practice.  The  grade  of  Real 
State  Councillor  also  conveys  the  rank  of  a  general  in  the 
Civil  Service  and  the  title  of  Excellency.  The  average  chin- 
ovnik  thinks  himself  happy  if  he  reaches  such  an  exalted 
chin  as  this.  Most  professors  become  Real  State  Councillors 
by  virtue  of  length  of  service,  and  it  sounds  odd  to  hear  a 
stooping,  frock-coated  gentleman  who  is  distinguished  as  an 
able  lecturer  on  mediaeval  history,  spoken  of  as  a  general. 
The  grades  of  Secret  Councillor  and  Real  State  Councillor 
are  reserved  either  for  very  old  or  for  very  distinguished 
members  of  the  Civil  Service,  for  ministers  and  ambassadors, 
and  the  like. 

The  system  of  grades  is  one  of  the  forces  that  hold  the 
bureaucracy  together.  It  secures  a  certain  uniformity  of 
temper,  tendency  and  aim.  Russians  are  the  most  demo-  / 
cratic  people  in  the  world,  but  this  carefully  adjusted  system 
of  grades,  decorations,  money  premiums  and,  to  close  with, 
pensions,  corresponding  to  the  chin  attained,  appeals  to  an 
ineradicable  human  instinct  for  outward  symbols  of  position, 
security  and  distinction,  and  makes  of  the  bureaucracy  a 
world  apart,  a  world  in  which  the  interests  of  all  the  members 
are  interwoven.  It  is  curious  how  mortified  even  a  Radical 
magistrate  will  be  if  his  name  fails  to  appear  among  the  Real 
State  Councillors  in  the  annual  promotion  list,  and,  on  the 
other  hand,  with  what  unalloyed  pleasure  he  receives  con- 
gratulations if  he  has  been  given  the  coveted  grade  after  all. 
But  there  is  another  very  characteristic  feature  of  the 
bureaucracy,  and  that  is  its  extraordinary  centralisation. 
From  the  big  dreary-looking  yellow  or  brown  buildings  in 
St.  Petersburg,  in  which  the  Ministries  are  housed,  currents 


58  Russia  of  the  Russians 

of  authority,  of  directive  energy  go  forth  to  all  the  ends  of 
the  great  Empire  in  the  form  of  telegrams  or  occasional  oral 
messages  by  special  couriers,  but  above  all  in  the  form  of 
endless  "  papers."  Pens  scratch,  typewriters  click,  clerks 
lay  blue  covers  full  of  papers  before  the  "  head  of  the  table  "  ; 
the  "  head  of  the  table  "  sends  them  to  the  "  head  of  the 
department,"  to  the  Assistant  Minister,  if  need  be,  and  in 
the  more  important  cases,  the  Assistant  Minister  to  the 
Minister.  Then  back  go  the  papers  again  with  signatures 
appended,  down  through  various  grades  for  despatch  to  a 
judge,  to  another  department,  to  a  Governor,  to  a  chinovnik 
on  special  service,  or  to  some  petitioner  from  the  world  without. 
Incoming  and  outgoing  papers  are  the  systole  and  diastole 
of  the  Chancelleries.  All  sorts  of  documents  go  under  the 
general  name  of  butnaga  or  "  paper,"  from  a  warrant  for 
arrest  to  a  report  on  a  projected  railway,  or  a  notification  of 
taxes  due.  There  are  doklady  or  reports,  and  otnoshenia  or 
communications  between  officials  of  equal  rank,  and  donesenia 
or  statements  made  to  superiors,  predpisania  instructions 
or  orders,  and  proshenia,  applications  or  petitions.  These, 
and  a  hundred  others  besides,  are  all  "  Papers,"  and  there  is 
a  special  style  for  each  of  them,  and  a  general  dry  and  formal 
style  for  all  of  them  known  as  the  "  Chancellery  Style,"  which 
permeates  Russian  public  life,  and  creeps  into  private  letters 
and  concert  programmes,  and  newspaper  articles,  and  into 
the  very  love-making  of  telegraph  clerks  waiting  for  trains 
on  wayside  stations.  The  "  papers,"  their  colour,  the  stamps 
upon  them,  their  style,  create  an  immense  uniformity  of 
mental  content,  and  tend  to  level  down  the  striking  differences 
that  exist  between  say,  the  Tartar  policemaster  in  a  town 
on  the  Caspian  Sea,  and  the  son  of  a  Russian  priest  who  serves 
as  a  clerk  in  the  financial  department  in  Tver.  It  is  extra- 
ordinary discipline.  The  lack  of  variety  in  the  system 
increases  its  hold  on  all  its  members.  There  are  hardly  any 
of  the  curious  divergencies  and  inconsistencies  of  which  the 
English  administrative  system  is  so  full,  hardly  any  quaint 


The  Bureaucracy  and  the  Constitution     59 

anachronisms  left  to  linger  on  because  of  some  wise  use  they 
have  for  the  affections.  There  are  certain  inevitable  modi- 
fications in  the  Caucasus,  in  Central  Asia,  in  Bessarabia  and 
in  Siberia,  Poland  and  the  Baltic  Provinces.  But,  generally 
speaking,  the  system  as  outlined  in  mathematical  order  on 
smooth  white  paper,  is  embodied  with  surprising  accuracy 
in  the  network  of  institutions  that  cover  the  great  plain 
from  limit  to  limit.  Authority  is  delegated  from  the 
big  yellow  Ministries  in  St.  Petersburg  to  the  dreary 
white  buildings  in  the  head  towns  of  the  governments  or 
territories  into  which  the  whole  Empire  is  mapped  out, 
and  from  the  government  towns  to  the  head  towns  of 
the  districts  into  which  each  government  is  divided,  and 
then  down  to  the  smallest  towns  and  to  the  Wardens  of 
the  Peasantry.  The  uniformity  of  it  all  is  both  imposing 
and  depressing,  and  as  wearying  as  the  inevitable  red- 
capped  stationmaster  and  brown-coated  gendarme  on 
every  one  of  the  scores  of  railway  stations  between  Wirballen 
and  Harbin. 

The  integrity  and  uniformity  of  the  bureaucratic  system 
is  maintained,  the  system  is  held  in  its  framework,  so  to  speak, 
by  means  of  the  army.  The  army,  in  its  turn,  by  means  of 
the  conscript  system,  subjects  almost  the  whole  male  popula- 
tion to  a  uniform  discipline,  levels  down,  for  a  time  at  any 
rate,  the  distinctions  between  various  regions  and  various 
nationalities,  and  serves  as  a  most  potent  means  of  Russifica- 
tion.  Russification,  indeed,  is  not  the  word,  though  it  is  the 
Russian  language  that  is  used  in  the  process,  for  it  is  not  the 
interests  of  the  Russian  people  that  are  primarily  in  question 
but  the  interests  of  the  State.  It  is  a  moulding  of  all  the 
human  material  of  the  Empire  upon  one  State  pattern,  a 
persistent  elimination  of  divergencies,  a  grandiose  attempt 
to  subordinate  all  the  wayward  impulses  of  160  millions  of 
human  beings  to  one  common  aim  unintelligible  to  the  mass. 
The  army  supplies  the  clamps  by  which  the  vast  mechanism 
of  the  bureaucracy  is  held  in  position, 


/ 


60  Russia  of  the  Russians 

But  it  is  through  the  police  that  the  bureaucracy  carries 
out  its  function  of  maintaining  order.    And  the  police  have 

of  late  years  assumed  an  overweening  impor- 
The  Police,      tance  in  the  State  because  the  bureaucracy 

has  constantly  tended  more  and  more  to  limit 
its  functions  to  the  maintenance  of  order.  It  has  subordinated 
everything  to  this  end.  It  has  become  immensely  suspicious. 
The  very  success,  the  very  efficiency  of  the  bureaucracy  has 
been  its  ruin.  In  so  far  as  it  governed  well,  administered 
justice,  prevented  crime,  promoted  education,  built  roads 
and  railways,  and  furthered  trade,  it  encouraged  individual 
initiative,  fostered  the  desire  for  liberty.  And  at  the  same 
time  it  opened  the  eyes  of  many  to  its  own  corruption,  to 
the  depredations  on  the  national  wealth  and  welfare  carried 
on  under  the  veil  of  order,  strict  uniformity  and  long-armed 
discipline.  On  both  occasions  when  the  clamps  were  loosened, 
when  the  army  was  defeated  in  the  Crimea  in  1854-5,  and  in 
Manchuria  fifty  years  afterwards,  the  evils  of  the  bureaucracy 
were  vividly  revealed,  the  system  almost  fell  asunder. 
Almost,  but  not  quite.  For  after  the  Crimean  War  reforms 
were  effected  and  the  system  was  modernised,  and  again 
after  the  Japanese  war  reforms  were  granted  and  a  further 
attempt  was  made  at  modernisation.  But  on  each  occasion 
concessions  were  followed  by  a  reassertion  of  bureaucratic 
authority  by  means  of  the  police.  The  nineteenth  century 
was  a  century  of  movement,  even  in  Russia.  The  emancipa- 
tion of  the  serfs  meant  the  freeing  of  an  enormous  amount 
of  pent-up  energy  of  economic  development,  it  aroused  a 
hum  of  fresh  and  vigorous  movement  all  over  the  Empire. 
But  for  that  strange  complexity  of  widely  extended,  exclusive 
interests  for  which  the  bureaucracy  stands,  and  for  that 
rigid  external  uniformity  which  is  the  aim  of  its  efforts,  move- 
ment was  dangerous.  The  bureaucracy  took  fright  at  the 
new,  high-spirited  movement  of  the  sixties  and,  instead  of 
steadily  promoting  economic  and  educational  development, 
set  to  work  to  devise  a  system  of  checks,    It  tried  to  render 


The  Bureaucracy  and  the  Constitution     61 

its  own  reforms  innocuous,  set  bureaucratic  safeguards  on 
its  own  judicial  system,  and  bound  and  weakened  those 
Zemstvos,  or  elective  County  Councils,  which  impaired  the 
integrity,  of  the  bureaucratic  system  by  exerting  the  functions 
of  local  government  in  thirty-four  governments  of  European 
Russia.  And  the  maintenance  of  order  interpreted  as  the 
prevention  of  movement  became  the  bureaucracy's  prime 
care. 

The  population  increased  rapidly,  trade  grew,  factories 
arose,  a  labour  movement  came  into  being.  The  connection 
with  Europe  became  closer  and  more  vital,  and  through  the 
connecting  tissue  the  swift  beating  of  the  pulse  of  the  West 
was  felt  in  Russia.  The  progressive  movement  gathered 
strength.  Checked  overground  it  went  underground,  and 
became  revolutionary  and  terrorist.  The  terrorist  movement, 
and  more  particularly  the  assassination  of  Alexander  II, 
heightened  the  fears  of  the  bureaucracy.  The  whole  nation 
became  suspect ;  sedition  was  scented  everywhere ;  the 
police  gained  influence  and  authority,  and  the  application  of 
the  term  "  political  crime  "  to  almost  all  forms  of  denial  of 
the  autocracy  afforded  an  extraordinarily  wide  field  for  the 
exercise  of  repressive  measures.  That  is  why  the  bureaucracy 
came  to  be  chiefly  impersonated  in  a  modernised  and  highly 
organised  police  system.  That  is  why  bureaucratic  admin- 
istration came  to  be  so  aggressively  prohibitive  of  progress, 
and  why  gendarmes  and  prefects,  and  policemasters  and 
ispravniks  (heads  of  district  police),  and  the  Okhrana  or 
Political  Police,  and  detectives  of  various  kinds  came  to  occupy 
such  a  prominent  position  in  the  forefront  of  Russian  public 
life.  It  was  the  rigid  centralisation,  the  exclusiveness  of  the 
bureaucracy,  the  extremely  wide  interpretation  of  the  term 
"  political  crime  "  and  the  extraordinary  powers  given  to 
the  police  that  made  the  bureaucratic  system  particularly 
hard  to  bear  at  a  time  when  thought  was  awakening,  and  the 
economic  and  intellectual  energies  of  the  nation  were  straining 
for  free  development. 


62  Russia  of  the  Russians 

There  were  alleviating  circumstances,  of  course.  If  the 
German  conceptions  which  entered  so  largely  into  the  bureau- 
cratic system  had  been  put  into  practice  with  truly  German 
industry  and  rigidity,  there  would  simply  have  been  no 
breathing-space  at  all.  But  sheer  native  indolence  and  good 
nature  often  made  officials  wink  at  breaches  of  the  law,  and 
even  corruption  had  its  milder  aspects,  for  while  bribery  gave 
frequent  occasion  for  extortion  and  blackmail,  it  often  protected 
the  feeble  against  unendurable  oppression.  Then  the  fact 
that  the  members  of  the  bureaucracy  were  human  beings 
with  kith  and  kin  in  the  world  outside  counted  for  a  great 
deal.  Revolutionaries  and  Constitutionalists  often  found  it 
possible  to  secure  through  relatives  "  protection  "  in  high 
places.  Influential  persons  often  "  begged "  or  "  bustled 
about,"  as  the  saying  is,  for  those  in  trouble,  and  this  through 
all  grades  of  the  bureaucracy.  It  might  easily  happen  that 
the  sister  or  the  son  of  a  Governor  or  Crown  Prosecutor  was 
a  revolutionary.  There  was  one  other  fact  that  for  a  time 
tended  to  keep  the  bureaucracy  in  touch  with  the  general 
life  of  the  nation.  Most  of  the  country  gentry  were  employed 
in  the  Government  Service,  and  after  the  sixties  there  was 
a  liberal  and  humane  movement  amongst  the  gentry,  which 
affected  the  bureaucracy.  But  members  of  the  gentry 
tended  to  let  their  land  slip  out  of  their  possession,  and  to 
become  entirely  dependent  on  Government  service.  And 
for  this  reason  the  bureaucracy  became  more  and  more  a 
caste  apart,  suspicious  of  the  rest  of  the  nation,  dry  and  hard, 

It  was  at  the  beginning  of  the  twentieth  century,  under 
the  iron  rule  of  the  Minister  of  the  Interior,  Plehve,  that  the 
bureaucracy  most  distinctly  assumed  the  form  of  a  system 
of  rigid  police  control.  Plehve  displayed  consummate  art 
and  extraordinarily  singleness  of  aim  in  the  application  of 
all  the  means  of  repression.  He  was  determined  to  crush 
the  opposition  movement  in  all  its  forms — the  Constitutional 
movement  which  was  centred  in  an  organisation  composed 
chiefly  of  members  of  the  Zemstvos,  or  County  Councils,  and 


The  Bureaucracy  and  the  Constitution     63 

found  expression  in  the  publication  of  a  Liberal  organ,  called 
Osvobozhdenie  (Liberation)  in  Stuttgart,  the  labour  movement 
which  led  to  a  number  of  strikes,  chiefly  in  Southern  Russia, 
and  was  furthered  by  the  Socialist  parties  having  their  centre 
in  Switzerland,  and  the  terrorist  movement  maintained  by 
the  Socialist  Revolutionary  Party.  Plehve  strengthened  the 
Political  Police,  developed  the  detective  system,  maintained 
an  extremely  strict  censorship,  and  created  an  atmosphere 
of  oppressive  stillness  in  the  country.  During  his  term  of 
office  the  war  with  Japan  broke  out,  and  although  Plehve 
advocated  war  in  the  hope  that  it  would  divert  the  growing 
forces  of  internal  discontent,  the  war  had  the  reverse  effect  of 
fanning  the  flame  of  the  constitutional  agitation.  It  was 
at  this  time  that  a  series  of  events  began  which  demand  here 
a  brief  review,  for  apart  from  them  the  present  position  is 
wholly  unintelligible. 

In  July,  1904,  shortly  after  the  Japanese  war  began,  Plehve 
was  murdered  by  the  bomb  of  an  assassin.    The  Government 

for  a  time  relaxed  its  severity,  and  the  Con- 
C^ita^nal    stitutional    agitation    among    the    educated 

classes  had  greater  scope.  In  November, 
with  the  tacit  permission  of  the  Government,  a  conference 
of  leading  Zemstvo,  or  County  Council  workers,  was  held  in 
St.  Petersburg,  and  passed  resolutions  affirming  the  necessity 
of  civil  liberty  and  the  establishment  of  representative  institu- 
tions. Then  a  strange  movement  began  among  the  working 
men  of  St.  Petersburg.  A  priest  named  Gapon  organised 
Working-men's  Clubs  on  behalf  of  the  Government,  with  the 
object  of  combating  the  conspirative  Socialist  organisations. 
But  he  made  use  of  the  influence  he  had  gained  and  of  the 
unrest  caused  by  the  war,  and  by  the  echoes  of  the  con- 
stitutional agitation  to  place  himself  at  the  head  of  a  workmen's 
movement,  the  aim  of  which  was  directly  to  petition  the  Tsar 
to  grant  his  people  liberty.  On  the  morning  of  January  22nd, 
1905,  the  workmen  in  the  various  districts  in  the  outskirts 
of  St.  Petersburg  formed  in  procession  to  march  to  the  Winter 


64  Russia  of  the  Russians 

Palace  and  present  their  petition  to  the  Emperor.  But  the 
Emperor  did  not  appear. 

It  was  a  beautiful  winter  morning,  with  a  sharp  frost  and 
a  sun  brilliantly  shining  from  a  pale-blue  sky  upon  the  white 
expanse  of  the  Neva  and  the  snow-covered  roofs  and  streets 
of  the  city.  Down  the  Nevsky  Prospect  walked  unceasingly 
with  set,  firm  faces,  working  men,  young  and  old,  in  black 
winter  overcoats  and  black  lambskin  caps.  There  wassome- 
thing  uncanny  in  their  intentness.  In  the  great  white  square 
before  the  Winter  Palace  a  bivouac  fire  was  burning,  and 
around  it  soldiers  were  boxing  to  keep  themselves  warm. 
The  throng  from  the  Nevsky  was  held  back  from  the  Square 
by  a  line  of  dragoons,  who  from  time  to  time  charged  down 
the  sidewalks  and  sent  the  throng  scattering.  On  the  North 
side  of  the  Neva,  near  the  Finland  Station,  rifles  were  stacked 
and  soldiers  stood  waiting.  Near  the  fortress  of  St.  Peter 
and  St.  Paul,  before  the  oldest  of  the  St.  Petersburg  churches, 
a  score  of  mounted  dragoons  were  drawn  up  in  line,  com- 
manding the  square.  Past  the  People's  Palace,  a  procession 
came  marching,  workmen  in  black,  intent  and  solemn,  a  stu- 
dent or  two,  and  two  or  three  women.  They  sang  a  little 
and  then  moved  silently.  They  entered  the  square  near  the 
fortress.  There  was  a  bugle-call  from  the  opposite  side,  but 
they  marched  on.  There  was  a  warning  volley,  and  then 
three  volleys  of  loaded  cartridge.  With  shouts  and  cries 
the  procession  scattered,  and  the  dead  and  wounded  lay 
upon  the  snow.  So  all  the  processions  were  met  and  scattered, 
that  led  by  Gapon  among  the  rest. 

Near  the  Winter  Palace  the  throng  grew  and  pressed  on 
and  on.     Then  the  troops  fired,  bringing  down  little  boys 

perched  on  the  trees  in  a  neighbouring  public 
Sunda°k  garden  and  killing  and  wounding  many  men 
and  women.  A  little  further  up  the  Nevsky 
Prospect,  near  the  Police  Bridge,  the  troops  again  fired. 
Again  killed  and  wounded,  again  groans  and  cries,  and  a  terror- 
stricken  scattering  crowd  spreading  indignation  throughout 


The  Bureaucracy  and  the  Constitution     65 

the  city.  A  sleigh  drove  swiftly  up  the  Nevsky  followed 
by  half-a-dozen  workmen  running  with  bare  heads  and 
crossing  themselves,  some  weeping.  In  the  sleigh  sat  a  youth 
holding  in  his  arms  a  student,  dead,  his  face  one  gaping 
wound.  Three  or  four  Cossacks  came  galloping  up  on  horse- 
back, pulled  rein,  looked  at  the  sleigh,  then  rode  on  with 
a  jeering  laugh.  The  sun  set  in  a  roseate  sky,  the  evening  fell, 
crowds  wandered  about  the  streets  with  helpless  imprecations, 
the  wounded  were  brought  to  the  hospitals  or  cared  for  in 
private  houses.  Cossacks  and  dragoons  guarded  the  Govern- 
ment buildings,  and  from  time  to  time  charged  down  the 
Nevsky,  driving  loiterers  before  them  like  chaff  before  the 
wind.  It  is  not  known  to  a  certainty  to  this  day  how  many 
hundreds  were  killed  on  that  terrible  Sunday  when  the 
workmen  set  out  to  petition  the  Tsar  for  liberty. 

That  day  turned  trust  into  bitterness,  and  the  longing 
for  justice  into   a  desperate   endeavour.    A   revolutionary 

movement  leapt  from  city  to  city,  from  town 

TtRebSmSn  °£    t0   toWn'    til1   a11   the   t0WT1S   °f   the   EmPire 

were  in  a  ferment,  and  unrest  spread  even  to 

remote  villages.  Workmen  went  out  on  strike,  police  raids 
and  arrests  became  the  order  of  the  day.  Streets  were  patrolled 
by  Cossacks.  In  Warsaw  the  troops  charged  and  fired  on% 
a  procession  of  working-men.  Here  and  there  bombs  were 
thrown  at  police  officials  and  other  representatives  of  the 
Government.  Manufacturers,  members  of  municipal  councils, 
doctors,  lawyers  and  professors  held  meetings,  conferences 
and  congresses  to  devise  a  remedy  for  the  situation.  A 
Congress  of  lawyers,  and  later  a  Congress  of  literary  men,  held 
secretly  in  St.  Petersburg,  formulated  demands  for  the  estab- 
lishment of  a  democratic  system  of  government.  In  April 
an  important  Congress  of  Zemstvo  Representatives,  held 
in  Moscow  in  various  private  houses  in  defiance  of  the  pro- 
hibition of  the  police,  set  to  work  to  give  point  and  detail  to 
the  demand  of  the  Liberal  gentry  for  a  Constitution.  It 
became  a  custom  to  hold  Liberal  meetings  in  secret  with  the 


66  Russia  of  the  Russians 

knowledge  that  Cossacks  were  waiting  around  the  corner. 
And  somehow  people  of  a  sudden  found  their  tongues,  lost 
that  fear  of  open  speech  which  had  become  habitual  under 
the  Plehve  regime,  and  when  they  spoke  openly  in  trains  and 
public  places  they  spoke  much  of  the  Constitution  and  little 
of  the  war  that  was  bringing  defeat  after  defeat.  Only  the 
shock  of  the  Tsusima  disaster  deepened  a  growing  sense  of 
imminent  danger  to  the  State,  and  caused  the  Zemstvo  men 
to  assemble  hastily  again  in  July,  and  to  send  a  deputation 
to  the  Emperor,  to  implore  him  to  put  an  end  to  the  bureau- 
catic  system  and  establish  representative  government.  Up 
till  then  there  had  been  on  the  part  of  the  Government  only 
a  few  faint  signs  of  reluctant  yielding,  vague  promises,  the 
appointment  of  Commissions  to  draft  reforms.  In  reply  to 
the  Zemstvo  deputation  (June  19th)  the  Tsar  said  definitely : 
"  My  will,  the  will  of  the  Emperor  to  convene  a  National 
Assembly,  is  unshakable.  I  am  daily  watching  over  this. 
My  will  shall  be  carried  out." 

Ten  days  afterwards  Odessa  was  the  scene  of  a  naval  mutiny. 
Workmen  struck,  crowds  of  wharf-labourers  burned  down 
goods-sheds,  stores  and  country  houses.  There  were  san- 
guinary conflicts  with  the  troops.  The  space  around  the 
harbour  was  covered  with  a  smoking  heap  of  ruins.  Then 
up  over  the  blue  sunlit  expanse  of  waters,  across  which 
argonauts  had  once  sailed  in  search  of  the  Golden  Fleece,  a 
battleship  came  swiftly  steaming.  The  battleship,  the  Prince 
Polemkin,  was  in  charge  of  a  mutinous  crew.  They  cast 
anchor  before  the  city  and  warned  the  authorities  to  refrain 
from  interfering  with  the  burial  of  their  comrade  who  had 
been  killed  by  an  officer.  Their  comrade  was  buried,  and 
thousands  of  the  inhabitants  of  Odessa  attended  the  funeral. 
Three  or  four  of  the  sailors  were  arrested.  The  Potemkin 
fired  shots  into  the  city  and  the  sailors  were  released.  The 
mutiny  spread  to  two  other  vessels.  The  mutineers  held 
the  authorities  paralysed.  The  Admiral  commanding  the 
Black  Sea  fleet  came  up  with  the  rest  of  the  squadron,  but 


The  Bureaucracy  and  the  Constitution     67 

did  not  venture  to  take  strong  measures.  The  Potemkin, 
after  taking  provisions,  left  Odessa  and  put  in  at  Constanza 
in  Roumania.  Here  she  was  disarmed,  and  most  of  the 
mutineers,  after  aimless  wanderings  in  foreign  lands,  one  by 
one  returned  to  Russia,  drawn  by  invincible  home-sickness, 
and  were  seized  and  punished,  some  by  death,  and  some 
by  exile. 

There  were  mutinies  in  Libau  and  Kronstadt  and  political 
strikes ;  bomb-throwing  and  demonstrations  did  not  cease 
throughout  the  land.  On  August  9th  an  Imperial  Decree 
was  promulgated  constituting  a  National  Representative 
Assembly  with  Consultative  Powers.  But  this  concession 
did  not  check  the  growing  agitation.  The  war  came  to  an 
end.  The  Peace  of  Portsmouth  was  concluded  in  August. 
When  M.  Witte  after  signing  it  returned  to  Russia  he  was 
the  man  of  the  hour.  He  received  the  title  of  Count,  and 
united  all  the  Ministers  in  a  Cabinet  of  which  be  became  the 
first  Premier.  The  unrest  grew,  and  toward  the  end  of 
October  culminated  in  a  general  strike  of  a  character  un- 
paralleled. The  final  impetus  was  given  by  the  St.  Petersburg 
railway-men,  who  struck  by  mistake  in  consequence  of  the 
receipt  of  false  information  from  Moscow.  The  strike  spread 
to  all  the  railways  of  the  Empire.  On  all  that  network  of 
lines  which  maintains  communication  between  the  ends 
of  the  great  plain  traffic  came  to  a  standstill.  Trains  stopped 
at  wayside  stations.  Passengers  bivouacked  or  pursued 
their  journey  in  hired  carriages.  The  busy  hum  and  thunder- 
ous rattle  of  the  great  city  stations,  their  pride  in  the  conquest 
of  distance  yielded  suddenly  to  a  chilly,  faint-hearted  silence. 
One  by  one  porters,  newsboys,  book-keepers,  ticket-clerks 
crept  away.  Cab-drivers  deserted  their  ranks  before  the 
stations,  disconsolate,  to  seek  chance  fares  at  street  corners. 
At  such  a  moment  it  was  a  simple  and  natural  thing  that  the 
factory  employees  should  strike  once  more.  Agitation  and 
persuasion  were  hardly  needed.  And  the  strange  impulse 
spread,  the  impulse  to  cease  from  all  action,  to  refrain  even 


68  Russia  of  the  Russians 

from  such  support  of  the  old  system  as  was  involved  in  the 
earning  of  one's  bread,  till  the  word  of  change  should  come. 
Shop  assistants  put  on  their  coats  and  went  wandering  aim- 
lessly up  and  down  the  streets  in  search  of  liberty.  The 
clerks  in  city  offices  laid  aside  their  pens  and  waited.  Teachers 
ceased  to  teach,  and  school  children  had  unexpected  holidays. 
Lawyers  ceased  to  plead,  and  even  unemotional  city  magis- 
trates were  infected  by  the  strange  unrest  and  ceased  to  judge 
between  landlords  and  tenants,  or  to  pass  sentence  on  the 
drunk  and  disorderly  until  the  word  of  a  new  time  had  been 
spoken.  The  provision  shops  remained  open  and  the  people 
ate  and  drank.  But  all  the  myriad  currents  of  effort  and 
emotion  which  constitute  the  daily  life  of  a  great  city  had 
been  suddenly  simplified,  reduced  to  one  single  emotion  of 
silent  expectancy,  menacing  because  of  its  vastness,  because 
of  its  amazing  spontaneity.  Organisation  played  only  the 
most  trifling  part  in  the  strike.  It  was  the  spontaneous 
expression  of  a  general  desire,  perhaps  possible  in  such  a  form 
only  in  a  country  where  industry  and  the  business  of  living 
generally  are  loosely  organised.  There  was  something 
awe-inspiring  in  this  strange  negative  assertion  of  the  general 
will. 

Cossacks  uneasily  patrolled  the  streets  of  St.  Petersburg. 
No  one  knew  how  long  the  strange  silence  would  last  or  what 
it  portended.  The  University  building  was  crowded  night 
after  night  with  people  eager  to  hear  fitting  words  for  the 
strange  emotions  that  were  oppressing  them.  The  floors  of 
the  University  groaned  under  the  weight  of  the  packed 
masses  ;  the  students  joined  hands  and  formed  living  barriers 
to  guide  the  surging  stream  up  staircases  and  along  corridors. 
Revolutionary  songs  were  sung,  but  they  left  perplexity  and 
fear  hanging  in  the  air.  The  police  were  helpless.  Arrests 
were  of  no  avail.    Who  could  arrest  this  vast  emotion  ? 

On  the  third  evening  of  the  strike,  that  is,  on  October  30th, 
news  came  from  Tsarskoe  Selo  and  was  telegraphed  abroad. 
The  Tsar  had  granted  a  Constitution.      He  had  signed  a 


The  Bureaucracy  and  the  Constitution     69 

manifesto  declaring  that  no  law  should  be  valid  without  the 
consent  of  the  Duma,  and  affirming  the  principles  of  liberty 

of   speech,    of   the   Press,  of  assembly  and 

A  toantedf  °n   associati°n»  an(*  also  the  principle  of  personal 

immunity.  The  news  was  known  abroad  before 
it  was  generally  known  in  St.  Petersburg.  In  the  evening 
a  few  copies  of  the  Manifesto  were  distributed.  Towards 
midnight  a  faint  sound  of  singing  broke  the  brooding  silence 
of  the  Nevsky.  The  Cossack  patrols  reined  up  their  horses 
in  vague  alarm.  A  little  procession  of  students  came  marching 
down  the  Prospect,  doubting  and  wondering  wayfarers  joined 
them,  Cossack  patrols  formed  a  cautious  and  puzzled  escort. 
The  procession  crossed  the  bridge  and  approached  the  dimly 
looming  mass  of  the  University  buildings.  Out  of  the  darkness 
of  the  University  square  Cossacks  came  galloping  and  checked 
the  march.  A  police  officer  appeared  and  forbade  entrance 
to  the  University.  A  student  handed  him  a  copy  of  the 
Manifesto.  In  the  glimmering  light  of  a  street-lamp,  vaguely 
revealing  the  Cossacks  leaning  down  from  their  saddles  and 
the  thin  pale  faces  of  students,  both  men  and  women,  the 
police  officer  read  in  a  hard,  dry  voice  the  Manifesto.  "  Liberty 
of  speech  "  was  one  of  the  phrases  he  read,  and  then  he  opened 
the  door  of  the  University  Courtyard,  the  students  entered, 
somebody  made  a  speech,  there  was  cheering,  and  the  little 
company  dispersed. 

Next  day  the  city  gave  itself  over  to  rejoicing,  a  strange 
morbid  kind  of  rejoicing  that  was  full  of  bitterness  and  fore- 
boding. There  were  endless  processions  with  red  flags,  and 
the  interminable  singing  of  the  Russian  revolutionary 
Marseillaise,  open-air  meetings,  fierce  ejaculations,  speeches 
bitter  and  resentful,  never  simply  joyful,  sighs  of  relief  that 
the  immediate  tension  was  over,  but  no  powerful  controlling 
voice,  no  leader  to  gather  up  all  the  vague,  diffuse  popular 
emotion  of  the  troubled  time,  to  illuminate  it,  to  direct  it, 
and  make  it  the  motive  force  of  the  new  era  just  proclaimed 
in  the  Imperial  Manifesto.      In  default  of  a  popular  leader 


70  Russia  of  the  Russians 

there  was  a  disposition  on  the  part  of  many  to  look  to  Count 
Witte  for  guidance.  But^the  Zemstvo  men,  the  recognised 
"Heads  of  the  Constitutional  movement,  did  not  trust  him. 
\  He  had  to  form  a  Cabinet  of  Government  officials,  he  was 
caught  in  the  toils  of  bureaucratic  tradition,  and  before  he 
had  time  to  give  effect  to  the  principles  of  the  Manifesto  found 
himself  plunged  into  a  systematic  policy  of  repression,  the 
agent  of  which  was  the  Minister  of  the  Interior,  Durnovo. 
There  was  a  period  of  irresolution,  of  halting  between  liberty 
and  oppression.  In  Kiev,  Odessa,  and  other  towns  mobs, 
aided  by  the  soldiery,  carried  out  terrible  massacres  of  Jesfis 
and  intelligentsia.  But  in  the  Capitals,  the  Press  was  free, 
and  a  Council  of  Workmen's  Deputies,  which  sat  in  St. 
Petersburg,  wielded  for  a  time  an  extraordinary  authority. 
Then  the  members  of  this  Council  were  arrested  and  the  Press 
was  checked.  In  the  Baltic  Provinces  Lettish  worl^men  and 
peasants  killed  German  landlords,  and  again  and  again  lit 
up  a  whole  country-side  with  the  lurid  light  of  burning 
mansions,  bringing  down  at  the  end  of  the  year  terrible 
retribution  in  the  form  of  punitive  expeditions.  In  Moscow 
revolutionary  groups  threw  up  barricades  in  the  streets,  and 
for  several  days  lived  in  enjoyment  of  the  virtual  command 
over  half  the  city.  At  midday  daily  heavy  guns  were  labori- 
ously dragged  up  to  demolish  the  barricades,  and  to  make 
ugly  holes  in  houses  where  revolutionaries  were  supposed  to 
be  lodged.  The  revolt  was  quelled  by  a  regiment  sent  from 
St.  Petersburg,  and  punitive  expeditions  did  their  merciless 
work  along  the  railway  lines  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Moscow. 
There  were  other  revolts  here  and  there,  provisional  so-called 
republics  were  established  in  various  towns,  to  be  quickly 
followed  by  the  terrors  of  punitive  expeditions,  improvised 
from  among  the  troops  returning  from  the  war.  The  winter 
dragged  on  wearily  and  heavily,  but  preparations  were  made 
for  the  elections  to  the  Duma.  Parties  were  organised. 
An  electoral  law  giving  the  peasantry  the  preponderance  of 
voting  powers  was  issued  in  March,  and  on  the  eve  of  the 


The  Bureaucracy  and  the  Constitution     71 

assembling  of  the  Duma,  the  principles  of  the  October  Mani- 
festo were  embodied  in  revised  Fundamental  Laws.  The 
elections  returned  a  majority  of  Constitutional  Democrats  / 
or  Cadets  (so-called  from  the  first  letters  of  their  title  K  D), 
members  of  a  party  formed  by  a  fusion  of  the  leading  group 
of  the  Zemstvo  Congress  with  groups  of  professional  men 
in  the  towns.  There  were  also  a  large  number  of  peasants, 
most  of  whom  joined  a  Labour  Party  which  was  organised  in 
the  Duma.  The  Conservative  and  the  Reactionary  elements 
in  the  country  were  almost  unrepresented. 

On  a  sunny  May  morning  the  Emperor  received  the  members 
of  the  first  Russian  Parliament  in  the  great  white  hall  of 

the  Winter  Palace.     On  one  side  of  the  hall 

P&riiament.      were  ran8e(^  ^he  deputies,  stern  and  sober, 

a  few  in  frock-coats,  many  in  jackets,  and 
the  great  majority  of  the  peasants  in  simple  peasant  costume. 
Opposite  them  were  ranged  courtiers,  generals  and  admirals, 
ministers,  members  of  the  Senate  and  the  Council  of  State, 
all  gleaming  in  scarlet  uniforms  and  gold  lace.  The  Emperor 
read  an  address  in  which  he  called  the  deputies  "  the  best 
men  "  of  the  country.  The  courtiers  and  dignitaries  cheered 
lustily,  and  a  band  played  the  National  Anthem.  But  the 
deputies  looked  on  gloomily,  and  the  peasants  calculated  how 
much  of  the  people's  money  had  been  spent  in  the  purchase 
of  all  the  splendid  uniforms.  The  first  hostile  note  of  the 
session  was  struck  there  in  the  Winter  Palace.  The  attempt 
to  reconcile  the  new  institution  with  the  traditional  order 
failed  from  the  outset. 

The  deputies  went  by  steamer  up  the  sunlit  river  to  the 
Taurida  Palace.  A  cheering  crowd' welcomed  them  at  the 
gates.  In  the  hall  of  session,  arranged  in  the  form  of  an 
amphitheatre,  peasants,  professors,  landowners,  and  lawyers 
noisily  and  exultingly  took  their  seats,  and  in  the  afternoon 
light,  reflected  through  great  windows  from  a  garden  jubilant 
in  its  spring  garment  of  green,  they  elected  as  their  Speaker 
a  dignified  professor  from  Moscow  named  Muromtsev,  and 

6—  (2400) 


72  Russia  of  the  Russians 

listened  to  a  short  speech  in  which  the  veteran  Zemstvo  leader 
Petrunkevich  demanded  as  the  pledge  of  complete  recon- 
ciliation between  the  Government  and  the  nation  a  full 
amnesty  for  all  political  offenders. 

}  For  seventy-two  days  the  First  Duma  sat  and  debated  in 
the  Taurida  Palace.  This  period  was  one  of  open  and  declared 
hostility  between  the  Government  and  the  Representative 
Assembly.  There  was  no  moderating  element  on  either  side. 
The  Witte  Cabinet  had  retired  just  before  the  opening  of  the 
Duma,  giving  place  to  a  Cabinet  under  the  premiership  of 
an  elderly  and  inactive  dignitary  named  Goremykin,  who 
represented  bureaucratic  tradition  pure  and  simple.  In  the 
Parliament  the  Cadets,  who  in  themselves  represented  liberal 
and  democratic  constructive  tendencies,  were  continually 
overborne,  and  if  not  out-voted,  were  outvoiced  by  the  more 
demonstrative  violent  and  aggressive  left  wing  of  the  Duma, 
the  Labour  and  Socialist  groups.  The  appearance  of  Ministers 
in  the  Duma  was  the  signal  for  fierce  attacks  on  the 
Government.  The  peasantry,  the  nationalities,  clamoured  for 
immediate  satisfaction  of  their  demands.  The  fine  promenade 
hall  of  the  Taurida  Palace,  once  a  ballroom,  now  a  parlia- 
mentary lobby,  was  continually  ahum  with  disputes  between 
peasants,  workmen,  journalists  and  lawyers  on  land  nation- 
alisation, women's  franchise,  or  the  claims  of  the  proletariat. 
And  apart  from  disputes  there  was  a  burning  desire  for  mere 
intercourse,  an  eagerness  to  compare  notes,  exchange  experi- 
ences, to  revel  in  a  new  sense  of  kinship,  brotherhood,  unity, 
to  interpret  the  political  and  geographical  unity  of  the  Empire 
in  a  passionate  expression  of  national  unity  in  the  task  of 
liberation.  But  there  was  no  real  unity  after  all.  The  party 
spirit  grew  apace,  the  deputies  vented  their  passion  on  each 
other,  and  the  resounding  echoes  of  the  Duma's  attacks  on 
the  bureaucracy  confusedly  mingled  with  the  sharp  tones 
of  bitter  party  strife.  The  people  looked  to  the  Duma  for 
relief.  Wild-looking  peasants  from  remote  governments 
came  up  to  the  Duma  with  fantastic  schemes  for  saving  the 


The  Bureaucracy  and  the  Constitution     73 

Empire.  But  the  Duma  was  helpless.  It  did  not  succeed 
in  affirming  in  Acts  of  Parliament  even  the  most  elementary 
principles  of  civil  liberty.  And  yet  scores  of  Socialist  organs  all 
over  the  country  violently  attacked  it  for  failing  at  once  to  bring 
the  millenium.  In  the  end  the  Government  simply  dissolved 
the  Duma.  The  majority  of  the  deputies  went  to  Viborg  in 
Finland,  and  thence  issued  an  appeal  to  the  people  to  defend 
their  rights  by  refusing  to  pay  taxes  or  give  recruits  to  the 
army.  This  act  proved  to  be  a  deplorable  political  blunder, 
from  which  the  Cadets  in  particular  reaped  bitter  consequences. 
No  response  was  made  by  the  country  to  the  Viborg  appeal,  and 
the  new  head  of  the  Government,  Stolypin,  who,  having  ven- 
tured as  Minister  of  the  Interior  to  recommend  the  dissolution 
of  the  Duma,  had  been  appointed  Premier  with  the  injunction  to 
carry  the  dissolution  into  effect,  engaged  in  a  policy  of  repression 
even  more  energetic  than  that  conducted  by  M.  Durnovo. 

The  name  of  Stolypin  stands  for  a  very  distinctly  marked 
and  characteristic  period  of  recent  Russian  history.    This 

period,  lasting  from  July  21st,   1906,  when 
M.  Stolypin.     Stolypin  became  Premier  till  September,  1911, 

when  he  was  assassinated  in  Kiev,  may  be 
described  as  the  period  of  the  reassertion  of  the  bureaucratic 
will.  M.  Stolypin  probably  did  not  aim  definitely  at  the 
complete  restoration  of  the  bureaucracy.  He  was  not  a 
thorough  bureaucrat  by  training  or  conviction.  He  was  a 
country  gentleman  and  a  provincial  governor,  and  had  had 
no  experience  of  the  intricate  ways  of  the  St.  Petersburg 
Chancelleries  until  he  was  summoned  from  Saratov  to  be 
Minister  of  the  Interior  in  the  Goremykin  Cabinet.  He  was 
not  a  man  of  theory ;  there  is  no  reason  to  believe  that  he 
was  an  anti-constitutionalist  in  principle,  and  he  was  certainly 
not  a  devotee  of  bureaucratic  tradition.  His  main  object 
was  to  hold  the  Empire  together  under  particularly  trying 
circumstances.  He  refused  to  see  perplexities,  and  tried  to 
cut  a  Gordian  knot.  He  took  a  simple  view  of  the  strange, 
confused  emotion  that  was  agitating  the  country.    He  summed 


> 


74  Russia  of  the  Russians 

it  all  up  as  revolutionary,  and  proceeded  to  put  it  down. 
Agrarian  disturbances,  terrorism,  those  forms  of  highway 
robbery  or  expropriation  into  which  the  extreme  forms  of 
revolutionary  activity  had  degenerated,  he  suppressed  by 
the  ruthless  methods  of  the  Field  Court-Martial.  Executions 
became  a  normal  feature  of  public  life  in  a  country  in  which 
capital  punishment  has  no  place  in  the  Criminal  Code. 

Stolypin  had  a  second  Duma  elected,  but  the  Second  Duma 
proved  to  be  as  uncompromising  as  the  First,  and  far  less 
capable.  The  Premier  brought  about  its  dissolution,  and  in 
spite  of  the  provisions  of  the  Constitution  that  no  law  should 
be  valid  without  the  consent  of  the  Duma,  the  electoral  law 
was  changed  by  Imperial  decree,  so  as  to  transfer  the  prepon- 
derance of  voting  power  from  the  peasantry  to  the  landed 
gentry.  In  the  Third  Duma,  elected  on  the  basis  of  the  new 
law,  the  Constitutional  Democrats  numbered  less  than  three 
score,  the  Labour  and  Socialist  parties  which  had  been  so 
prominent  in  the  first  two  Dumas  were  represented  by  a  mere 
handful,  while  the  majority  consisted  of  Conservative 
and  Reactionary  groups.  The  Centre  was  formed  by  a  party 
of  Conservative  Constitutionalists  known  as  Octobrists, 
who  hovered  dexterously  on  the  borderline  between 
Constitutionalism  and  Bureaucracy. 

For  five  years  the  Third  Duma  contrived  to  maintain  a 
shadowy  existence  in  virtue  of  a  curious  policy  of  hide-and- 
seek  which  the  Octobrists,  as  represented  by  their  leader, 
the  Moscow  deputy,  Guchkov,  amicably  played  with  the 
Government,  as  represented  by  Stolypin.  Both  Stolypin 
and  Guchkov  were  men  of  spirit,  but  the  effect  of  their  co- 
operation was  to  make  the  Duma  a  byword  in  the  country 
for  spiritless  compliance.  It  was  characteristic  of  the  Third 
Duma  that  whenever  it  ventured  clearly  to  assert  a  con- 
stitutional principle  it  always  surrendered  it  the  moment  the 
assertion  seemed  to  involve  the  danger  of  serious  conflict 
with  the  Government.  But  the  cringing  of  the  Third  Duma 
had  a  certain  advantage.    By  bowing  before  the  vehement 


The  Bureaucracy  and  the  Constitution     75 

reassertion  of  bureaucratic  and  reactionary  principle,  it 
prevented  that  total  abolition  of  representative  institutions 
which  again  and  again  seemed  inevitable.  It  established 
for  the  representative  assembly  a  certain  tradition,  a  certain 
customary  right  of  existence.  And  that  meant  a  great  deal 
at  a  moment  when  the  nation,  ill-organised,  divided  against 
itself  and  yet  eager  to  abolish  the  old  system,  was  unable 
to  give  effect  to  its  desire.  Perhaps  the  Third  Duma  was 
the  measure  of  the  nation's  actual  strength.  But  while  the 
Duma  examined  the  budget  and  passed  various  bills  of 
secondary  importance — whatever  progressive  principles  they 
contained  being  afterwards  almost  invariably  eliminated  by 
the  Upper  House,  the  Council  of  the  Empire — the  greater 
part  of  the  Empire  remained  under  martial  law,  all  the  acts 
of  the  administration  were  an  ostentatious  denial  of  the 
principles  of  civil  liberty,  the  evils  of  the  bureaucratic  system 
made  themselves  felt  with  redoubled  intensity — in  fact  the 
Bureaucracy  assumed  a  new  aggressive  character  largely  owing 
to  the  force  of  Stolypin's  personality,  the  strength  of  his  will. 
It  was  a  strange  position.  Stolypin  placed  himself,  his 
energy,  his  decision  of  character,  his  freedom  from  hampering 
bureaucratic  routine  at  the  service  of  the  bureaucracy.  The 
bureaucracy  acquired  in  him  what  it  most  needed,  a  will. 
He  tried  to  suppress  the  popular  movement,  and  at  the  same 
time  to  reinvigorate  the  bureaucracy  by  cleansing  it  of  some 
of  its  worst  abuses,  such  as  the  wholesale  taking  of  bribes. 
He  needed  the  Duma,  in  fact  the  Duma  was  indispensable 
to  him.  His  prestige  was  largely  based  on  the  fact  that  in 
the  Representative  Assembly  he  appeared  before  the  public 
eye.  He  was  a  fine,  vigorous-looking  man,  with  black  beard, 
square  shoulders  and  a  determined  glance.  And  he  was  an 
excellent  public  speaker.  He  needed  the  Duma.  Yet  he 
constantly  discouraged  the  Duma's  constitutional  aspirations. 
And  as  the  years  passed  he  tended  to  identify  himself  more 
and  more  closely  with  the  bureaucratic  tradition,  and  in  so 
doing  he  lost  his  vigour,  his  initiative,  that  very  energy  of 


V 


76  Russia  of  the  Russians 

volition  which  made  him  so  valuable  to  the  supporters  of  the 
older  system.  Ha  was  defeated  again  and  again  on  questions 
of  primary  importance  by  the  extreme  reactionary  elements, 
but  he  remained  at  his  post.  He  had  in  fact  lost  his  real 
power  before  he  was  assassinated  by  Bogrov  in  September, 
191 1 .  And  the  very  manner  of  his  death  revealed  in  a  striking 
and  tragical  form  an  abuse  which  had  assumed  far-reaching 
dimensions  during  the  period  of  Stolypin's  premiership. 
The  assassin,  Bogrov,  was  an  agent  of  the  Secret  Police, 
whose  duty  it  was  to  protect  exalted  personages  against 
terrorist  attacks.  In  combating  the  revolutionary  movement 
the  Secret  Police  had  been  in  the  habit  of  employing  agents 
provocateurs,  who  associated  with  the  revolutionaries,  learned 
their  secrets,  helped  them  to  organise  their  plots,  and  at  the 
same  time  kept  the  police  informed,  so  that  at  the  critical 
moment  the  conspirators  could  be  arrested.  The  case  of  a 
notorious  agent  provocateur  named  Azev,  who  had  for  years 
been  a  member  of  the  Social  Revolutionary  Committee  and, 
while  serving  the  Secret  Police  had  aided  in  the  assassination 
of  the  Minister  of  the  Interior,  Plehve,  and  the  Grand  Duke 
Sergius  Alexandrovich,  had  been  the  subject  of  an  interpella- 
tion in  the  Duma.  Stolypin  did  not  put  a  stop  to  this  practice 
even  after  the  Azev  exposure,  and  in  the  end  he  himself 
became  its  victim.  It  was  a  tragic  end  to  a  strange  career, 
the  most  striking  political  career  of  recent  times  in  Russia. 
The  Third  Duma  drifted  peacefully  to  its  appointed  term, 
and  was  dissolved  in  August,  1912.  The  Fourth  Duma, 
which  assembled  in  October,  was  in  most  essentials  a  mere 
copy  of  its  predecessor,  and  for  the  present  it  is  carrying  on 
a  passive  policy  of  marking  time  and  waiting  for  things  to 
turn  up.  And  in  a  sense  it  may  be  said  that  the  whole 
country  is  waiting,  that  the  Government  itself  is  waiting 
and  wondering  ;  nowhere  does  there  seem  to  be  a  clear,  definite 
aim.  The  revolutionary  movement  has  been  long  since 
suppressed,  there  appears  to  be  no  object  for  the  bureaucracy 
to  expend  its  repressive  energy  on.    There  is  a  constant, 


M.   5T0LYPIN 

{Late  Prtsidtnt  of  the  Couulil  of  Minis, 


The  Bureaucracy  and  the  Constitution     77 

irritating,  petty  persecution  of  individuals,  groups  and 
institutions,  and  the  inhibition  on  public  initiative  has  not 
been  relaxed.  And,  on  the  other  hand,  there  is  an  upward 
movement  in  commerce  and  industry.  Several  years  of 
good  harvests  have  restored  the  economic  balance  of  the 
country.  Apart  from  politics,  a  steady  process  of  Western- 
isation is  going  on.  A  measure  introduced  by  Stolypin, 
providing  for  the  gradual  break-up  of  the  village  commune 
and  the  acquirement  by  individual  peasants  of  the  proprietory 
rights  over  their  allotments  of  the  communal  land,  has 
led  to  profound  changes  in  the  rural  districts,  the  exact  ^ 
bearing  of  which  it  is  yet  early  to  determine.  Life  is  going 
its  own  ways,  changing  its  forms  independently  of  politics. 
The  years  of  tumult  have  affected  so  far  only  a  slight  change 
in  the  political  system,  but  they  have  brought  about  a 
tremendous  change  in  the  mental  attitude  of  the  people. 
A  certain  naivete,  a  patriarchal  simplicity  of  outlook  has 
passed  away.  The  Russian  has  suffered  bitter  disappoint- 
ment and  disillusionment,  and  for  better  or  worse  he  is 
becoming  a  modern  man.  And  yet  the  Imperial  problem 
is  not  solved,  the  period  of  transition  is  not  yet  over.  The  L 
immense  task  of  transforming  into  the  highly  complex  unity 
of  a  vigorous  modern  national  organism,  the  outward  and 
simple  political  unity  that  has  been  attained  as  the  result 
of  the  gradual  conquest  of  the  great  plain,  is  only  half  accom- 
plished. And  those  who  are  interested  in  the  welfare  of  the 
Russian  people  can  only  earnestly  hope  that  the  process  may 
be  completed  without  further  catastrophe. 

The  result  of  the  struggles  of  the  last  few  years  is  that 
Russia  now  has  an  Imperial  Legislative  Assembly,  existing 

side  by  side  with  the  bureaucracy,  but  unable 

Survey   of      to    exert    a    thoroughgoing    control.      The 

e?taw<des.       present  system  bears  a  transitional  character. 

The  Duma  is  tolerated,  but  frequently 
ignored.  The  menace  of  dissolution  hangs  over  it  constantly, 
but  the  Duma  has  weathered  seven  extremely  difficult  years, 


78  Russia  of  the  Russians 

and  threats  of  its  abolition  and  the  complete  restoration  of 
the  autocracy  are  less  frequently  heard  than  they  used  to  be. 
It  is  hard  to  find  a  term  to  describe  the  present  regime.  In 
official  documents  the  word  "  Autocrat "  is  retained.  Stolypin 
avoided  the  word  "  Constitution,"  and  spoke  of  the  "  reformed  " 
or  "  renovated  system,"  and  sometimes  of  the  "  representative 
system."  Perhaps  the  existing  state  of  affairs  might  be 
called  a  bureaucracy  slightly  tempered  by  constitutionalism. 
At  any  rate,  there  is  a  Duma,  a  Parliament  in  Russia,  and 
this  fact  is  in  itself  immensely  important  as  a  symbol  of 
achievement  and  a  pledge  of  progress.  The  Duma  is 
enveloped  in  grey  mists  of  disappointment.  It  can  accom- 
plish little.  Its  wishes,  even  its  most  modest  wishes  for 
reform  are  thwarted.  It  is  deferential,  self-effacing.  It 
shrinks  from  asserting  in  any  pronounced  form  its  privileges 
and  powers.  It  has  cultivated  the  art  of  self-protection  by 
mimicry  ;  it  has  assumed  to  a  large  extent  the  colour  of  its 
bureaucratic  environment.  But  even  so  the  Duma  represents 
a  principle  of  government  absolutely  distinct  from  that  of 
the  bureaucracy,  and  its  mere  existence  is  a  gain,  an  advance. 
The  Duma  means  that  Russia  has  finally  emerged  from  her 
isolation,  that  she  has  definitely  come  into  Europe,  and  that 
whatever  happens  there  can  be  no  return  to  the  past.  When 
even  China  has  adopted  a  Constitution,  the  world  has  clearly 
grown  too  small  to  permit  of  Russian  bureaucratic 
exclusiveness. 

The  Duma  is  composed  of  442  members,  elected  from  all 
parts  of  the  Empire,  with  the  exception  of  Central  Asia.    It 

is  thus  much  smaller  than  the  British  Parlia- 

DescriSed*      ment    ^^    its    670    members'    although    it 
directly  represents  a  population  of  150  millions 

as  compared  with  the  44  millions  represented  in  the  House 

of  Commons.    The  great  majority  of  the  deputies  are  Russians. 

By  the  new    electoral  law,  promulgated  in  1907,  after  the 

dissolution  of  the  Second  Duma,  the  number  of  deputies  from 

non-Russian  regions  was  greatly  reduced.    The  result  is  that 


The  Bureaucracy  and  the  Constitution     79 

while  a  central,  purely  Russian  government  like  Kursk,  with 
a  population  of  two  and  a  half  millions  returns  eleven  deputies, 
and  Tambov,  with  a  population  of  three  millions  returns 
twelve,  Poland,  with  its  eleven  millions  sends  fourteen,  of 
whom  two  must  be  Russians,  and  Transcaucasia,  with  its 
six  and  a  quarter  millions,  sends  seven  deputies,  of  whom  one 
must  be  a  Russian.  The  Duma  is  elected  for  five  years,  and 
one  Duma,  the  Third,  lived  out  its  full  term.  The  electoral 
system  is  complex,  and  in  the  large  cities  the  electors  are 
divided  into  two  classes  according  to  property  qualification. 
Thus  St.  Petersburg  returns  six  members,  of  whom  three 
are  elected  by  the  first  class,  or  curia,  and  three  by  the  second. 
In  the  second  class  the  qualification  is  occupancy  of  an  apart- 
ment or  flat  which  gives  a  fairly  wide  and  democratic  franchise. 
The  first  class  includes  wealthy  property  owners,  and  naturally 
tends  to  be  far  more  conservative  than  the  second.  Moscow 
returns  four  members,. two  from  the  first  and  two  from  the 
second  class.  Kiev  and  Odessa  return  one  member  from 
each  class,  and  in  Warsaw  the  dividing  factor  is  not  a  property 
but  a  national  line,  the  small  Russian  population  being  in 
one  class,  the  Poles  and  Jews  in  the  other.  The  electoral 
system  in  the  cities 'is  fairly  simple,  but  while  in  St.  Petersburg 
and  Moscow  the  voting  is  direct,  that  is  to  say,  voters  simply 
elect  their  deputies,  in  Warsaw  it  is  indirect,  that  is,  voters 
elect  electors  who  in  their  turn  elect  the  deputy.  Outside 
the  big  cities  the  system  of  indirect  voting  is  developed  to 
such  an  extent  as  to  make  elections  resemble  walking  through 
a  labyrinth.  All  sorts  of  groups  first  meet  at  different  points 
in  a  government  or  province  to  elect  electors,  then  some  of 
these  electors  elect  other  electors  in  their  turn,  and  finally, 
the  electors  who  remain  after  the  ^training  process  has  been 
completed  assemble  in  the  head  town  of  the  government 
and  elect  the  requisite  number  of  deputies.  In  the  final 
elections  "in  the  government  town  there  are  all  kinds  of  rivalries 
and  combinations  between  the  various  groups  of  big  land- 
owners and  small  landowners,  priests  and  townsmen  and 


80  Russia  of  the  Russians 

peasants,  all  these  group  interests  being  intersected  by  party 
and  personal  interests,  and  the  whole  complicated  by  the 
administrative  pressure  which  is  exercised  through  all  stages 
of  the  elections.  It  is  a  strange  process.  The  vote  of  the 
sturdy  peasant,  Ivan  Ivanov,  is  reduced  to  the  faintest  echo 
of  itself  by  the  time  that  it  has  passed  through  all  the  stages 
of  its  delegated  progress,  through  the  cantonal  meeting,  and 
right  up  to  the  government  assembly.  After  all,  the  system 
is  so  calculated  that,  in  the  end,  the  big  landowners  are  almost 
certain  to  secure  a  majority,  and  the  peasants  returned  are 
usually  those  who  seem  to  the  landowners  fairly  safe.  So 
it  happens  that  while  the  towns  generally  return  Progressives 
and  the  working-class  communities  Socialists,  the  provinces 
return  Conservatives  of  various  shades,  from  the  Conservative 
Constitutionalists,  or  Octobrists,  to  the  Reactionaries  of  the 
Extreme  Right.  Russia  being  an  agricultural  country, 
with  towns  few  and  far  between,  the  Conservatives  under 
such  conditions  inevitably  secure  a  majority  and  the 
Progressives,  forming  the  Opposition,  remain  in  a  perpetual 
minority. 
^  The  Duma,  being  a  new  institution,  is  naturally  formed  on 
foreign  models,  and  there  is  nothing  particularly  Russian 
about  it,  except  that  pretty  Taurida  Palace  on  the  outskirts 
of  St.  Petersburg  in  which  it  meets.  The  German  arrangement 
of  parties  prevails,  the  Conservatives  sitting  to  the  right  of 
the  Speaker,  and  Liberals  and  Socialists  to  the  left.  Right 
and  Left  thus  connote  political  ideas,  the  Extreme  Right 
being  Reactionaries  and  the  Extreme  Left  Socialists,  while 
any  tendency  in  a  conservative  or  progressive  direction  is 
described  as  a  movement  from  left  to  right,  or  from  right  to 
left,  as  the  case  may  be.  The  parties  themselves,  Cadets  or 
Octobrists,  for  instance,  may  be  divided  into  Right  and  Left 
Wings  ;  thus  if  the  Octobrists  are  Conservative  Constitution- 
alists, a  right  Octobrist  will  be  more  conservative  than 
constitutionalist,  and  a  left  Octobrist  more  constitutionalist 
than  conservative.    To  say  that  a  deputy  is  "  righting  " 


The  Bureaucracy  and  the  Constitution     81 

means  that  he  is  getting  more  conservative  in  his  views : 
to  say  that  he  is  "  lefting  "  means  that  he  is  growing  more 
radical.  Left  and  Right  are  the  political  epithets  most 
frequently  applied  in  Russia,  and  are  very  conveniently 
elastic  in  their  application  at  a  moment  when  parties  are 
many,  and  normal  conditions  of  party  life  have  not  yet  been 
established. 

The  business  of  the  Duma  is  conducted  by  a  body  called, 
as  in  Germany,  the  Praesidium,  and  consisting  of  a  President, 
or  Speaker,  two  deputy  Speakers,  and  a  Secretary  with  his 
assistants,  who  are  all  elected  annually  from  among  the 
deputies.  The  apportionment  of  these  offices  among  the 
various  parties  causes  a  great  deal  of  heartburning  and  strife. 
The  order  of  business  is  arranged  by  the  Praesidium  in  con- 
junction with  the  leaders  of  the  parties  grouped  in  an  informal 
body,  known  for  a  long  time  under  the  German  name  of 
Seniorenconvent,  but  now  described  by  a  Russian  term 
meaning  "  Council  of  Elders."  The  President  sits  aloft  in 
a  kind  of  box  or  tribune,  and  the  Secretaries  in  smaller  boxes 
just  in  front  of  him.  Deputies  speak,  not  from  their  places, 
but  from  a  tribune  in  front  of  and  a  little  lower  than  that  of 
the  President.  The  Deputies  are  seated  in  an  amphitheatre, 
the  various  sectors  of  which  from  right  to  left  are  apportioned 
to  various  parties.  Parliamentary  officials  called  pristavs, 
distinguished  by  chains  like  those  of  aldermen,  attend  to 
technical  details  such  as  the  admission  of  visitors,  the  counting 
of  votes,  and  the  distribution  of  papers.  Ministers  and 
Assistant  Ministers,  when  they  come  to  Parliament,  sit  in  a 
box  to  the  Speaker's  right.  The  Press  has  one  box  in  the 
hall  of  sitting  and  another  upstairs  ;  there  is  a  roomy  visitors' 
gallery,  an  Imperial  Box  in  which  one  of  the  Grand  Dukes 
sometimes  sits,  and  a  Diplomatic  Box.  A  splendid  promenade 
hall  called  the  Catherine  Hall,  now  serves  the  purposes  of  a 
lobby,  various  rooms  are  reserved  for  committees  and  party 
purposes.  In  the  summer  months  the  deputies  relieve  the 
tedium  of  long  sittings  by  wandering  about  in  that  part  of 


82  Russia  of  the  Russians 

the  Taurida  Park  which  is  fenced  off  for  the  Parliament,  or 
row  in  a  little  boat  on  a  miniature  lake.  The  Taurida  Palace 
is  under  the  command  of  a  general  of  gendarmes. 

In  the  appearance  of  the  deputies  there  is  little  to  strike 
the  eye.  The  First  and  Second  Dumas,  which  were  more 
democratic  and  represented  a  greater  number  of  national 
types  than  their  successors,  displayed  a  picturesque  variety 
of  costume  and  feature.  Now  the  monotony  of  ordinary 
European  frock-coats  and  jackets  is  only  relieved  by  the 
cassocks  of  the  priests,  by  the  kaftans  of  a  few  of  the  peasants, 
and  the  skull-caps  and  long  coats  of  one  or  two  of  the  Tartar 
deputies.  Most  of  the  faces  are  of  an  average  Russian  cast, 
but  on  the  left  there  are  Poles  and  Tartars,  and  on  the  extreme 
left  a  few  swarthy  Armenian  and  Georgian  faces,  while  towards 
the  right  there  are  bulky  landowners  from  the  backwoods 
with  thick  lips  and  protruding  lower  jaw.  The  deputies 
receive  a  salary  of  4,000  roubles  (£400)  a  year.  Some  of  the 
wealthy  landowners  come  down  to  the  House  in  their  own 
motor-cars  or  private  carriages,  but  the  majority  come  on  foot 
or  in  cheap  cabs,  or  in  a  shabby  little  horse-car  that  maintains 
a  limp  connection  with  the  centre  of  the  city.  Outwardly 
the  Duma  is  becoming  assimilated  to  bureaucratic  St.  Peters- 
burg and  has,  it  must  be  admitted,  grown  to  be  rather  a  dreary 
and  despondent  place. 

There  are  a  number  of  parties  in  the  Duma,  so  many  in 
fact,  and  so  loosely  organised,  that  majorities  are  perpetually 
wobbling,  and  there  are  constant  surprises  and  catch  votes. 
The  Government  refuses  to  legalise  the  Opposition  parties, 
so  that  outside  the  Duma  they  have  no  officially  recognised 
standing,  though  the  existence  of  a  Cadet  or  Constitutional 
Democratic  Party  is  to  a  limited  extent  tolerated.  On  the 
extreme  right  is  the  Party  of  the  Right,  composed  of  various 
representatives  of  reactionary  organisations.  This  party 
stands  theoretically  for  the  repeal  of  the  Constitution  and 
the  complete  restoration  of  the  Autocracy,  but  its  members 
have  sat  for  five  years  in  one  Puma,  and  seem  likely  to  sit 


The  Bureaucracy  and  the  Constitution     83 

for  five  years  in  another,  so  that  the  pleasant  habit  of  being 
members  of  parliament  seems  to  be  gaining  ground  on  their 
anti-constitutionalist  theories.  Their  leaders,  the  Kursk 
deputies  Purishkevich  and  Markov,  have  gained  imperial 
notoriety  for  their  use  of  vituperative  language,  and  the  name 
Purishkevich  is  used  by  peasants  even  in  the  Northern 
Caucasus  as  an  extremely  offensive  epithet.  The  Right 
maintain  a  reactionary  agitation  throughout  the  country, 
are  in  league  with  the  police,  and  represent  the  most  obscure 
and  the  most  obscurantist  side  of  the  bureaucracy.  It 
would  be  hard  to  find  among  the  Duma  Right  idealists  of 
reaction,  for  the  most  part  it  is  a  singularly  crude  and 
materialist  type  of  reactionary  that  is  here  represented. 
Their  strength  lies  solely  in  the  prevalence  of  reaction  in  the 
bureaucracy. 

Next  to  the  Right  come  the  Nationalists,  who  represent^ 
Stolypin's  attempt  to  form  a  Government  Party.  While 
the  Right  is  composed  chiefly  of  peasants,  priests  and  country 
gentlemen,  the  Nationalist  Party  is  composed  chiefly  of  country 
gentlemen  and  Government  officials,  with  a  sprinkling  of 
priests  to  whom  the  extreme  coarseness  of  the  Right  is 
distasteful.  The  party  was  influential  during  Stolypin's 
lifetime,  but  is  losing  its  importance  and  has  split  into  two 
groups.  What  the  Nationalists  stand  for  politically  it  is 
difficult  to  say,  except  that  they  vehemently  assert  the 
necessity  of  maintaining  and  increasing  restrictions  on  the 
non-Russian  nationalities.  But  they  are  a  party  of  moods, 
and  in  the  main  they  simply  constitute  one  of  the  parliamentary 
outposts  of  the  bureaucracy.  One  of  the  Nationalist  deputies, 
M.  Shulgin,  from  the  Kiev  government,  is  the  ablest  and 
most  logical  speaker  on  the  Right  side  of  the  House.  | 

Then  come  the  Octobrists,  who  constitute  the  Centre  and 
held  the  balance  of  power  in  the  Third  Duma.  The  party 
takes  its  name  from  the  October  Constitutionalist  Manifesto, 
stands  for  constitutional  government,  and  has  made  a  long 
and  painful  experiment  in  establishing  the  foundations  of 


84  Russia  of  the  Russians 

constitutional  government  by  co-operation  with  the  bureau- 
cracy. The  party  is  composed  mainly  of  country  gentlemen 
of  a  conservative  temperament  who  are  strongly  averse  from 
radical  and  violent  measures,  but  are  desirous  of  seeing 
constitutional  principles  put  into  force.  Such  a  party  is 
clearly  unfitted  to  play  a  heroic  part  in  a  critical  epoch  ; 
but  in  the  Third  Duma  it  had  a  vigorous  leader  in  the  person 
of  M.  Guchkov,  who  pursued  a  very  intricate  and  interesting 
policy.  M.  Guchkov  comes  of  a  Moscow  merchant  family 
of  Old  Believers,  and  is  a  keen  sportsman  with  a  love  of 
adventure,  of  fighting  for  its  own  sake.  He  fought  with  the 
Boers  in  the  Transvaal  War,  and  worked  with  the  Red  Cross 
in  the  Manchurian  War  and  in  the  Balkans.  He  was  one 
of  the  founders  of  the  Octobrist  Party,  and  an  open  supporter 
of  the  Government  policy  of  suppressing  the  revolutionary 
movement  by  summary  and  violent  measures.  He  was 
among  the  public  men  whom  Stolypin  consulted  after  the 
dissolution  of  the  First  Duma  with  the  view  to  their  becoming 
members  of  the  Cabinet,  and  who  refused  on  learning  the 
conditions.  M.  Guchkov's  political  career  actually  began 
when  he  was  elected  deputy  from  Moscow  in  the  Third  Duma 
and  became  leader  of  the  Octobrist  party.  The  position 
was  an  exceedingly  difficult  one,  and  M.  Guchkov  thought 
that  the  only  hope  lay  in  gradually  permeating  the  govern- 
ment with  a  constitutionalist  leaven.  Stolypin  in  those  days 
vwas  disposed  to  effect  certain  obviously  necessary  reforms, 
"and  he  and  Guchkov  agreed  to  work  together.  Guchkov 
making  heavy  concessions  on  the  Duma's  part  on  condition 
that  Stolypin  would  protect  the  Duma  against  the  restora- 
tionists  and  gradually  introduce  reforms.  Theoretically  the 
bargain  was  a  sound  one,  and  one  result  of  it  was  that  the 
Duma  did  tide  over  a  very  difficult  and  dangerous  period, 
and  evaded  premature  dissolution.  But  Stolypin  was  forced 
back  by  the  extreme  reactionaries  from  point  to  point,  and 
was  unable  to  carry  out  the  promised  reforms.  His  repressive 
measures  remained  in  force,  and  there  was  not  a  glimmer 


A.    I.   GUCHKOV 

iOctobrisl  Liadei) 


(£ 


The  Bureaucracy  and  the  Constitution     85 

of  constitutional  liberty.  Guchkov,  again,  was  very  indiffer- 
ently backed  by  the  bulk  of  his  own  party,  which  understood 
the  policy  of  constantly  throwing  a  sop  to  Cerberus  much 
better  than  an  active  policy  of  permeation  and  penetration 
of  bureaucratic,  strongholds.  Guchkov  was  forced  to  make 
very  heavy  concessions,  and  openly  to  identify  himself  with 
highly  unpopular  and  unconstitutional  measures.  Then 
Stolypin  went  to  the  Right,  broke  with  the  Octobrists,  and 
in  the  days  when  his  personal  energy  and  political  power 
were  fading  formed  the  party  of  the  Nationalists.  For  a 
time  Guchkov  was  President  of  the  Third  Duma,  and  in  the 
position  tried  to  pursue  his  chosen  policy  more  effectively. 
He  spoke  rarely  in  the  Duma,  but  when  he  did  his  speeches 
were  always  impressive  and  his  words  carefully  chosen. 
"  We  are  waiting,"  was  the  closing  phrase  of  one  of  his  best- 
known  speeches,  and  this  phrase  was  characteristic  of  his 
party's  attitude.  Guchkov's  policy  kept  the  Third  Duma 
going,  or  rather  kept  it  from  going  into  the  limbo  into  which 
its  predecessors  had  gone.  But  the  injury  to  the  Duma's 
dignity  and  value  was  grave — history  never  fails  to  demand  ^ 
a  heavy  price,  moral  and  material,  for  every  achievement  in 
Russia — and  M.  Guchkov  suffered  personally  for  his  close 
identification  with  the  policy  of  the  Government  and  it  cost 
him  his  seat  in  Moscow.  He  was  not  elected  to  the  Fourth 
Duma,  and  is  at  present  engaged  in  municipal  politics  in  St. 
Petersburg.  M.  Guchkov  represents  an  unusual  combination 
of  the  business  man  and  the  intelligent,  and  his  interest  in 
affairs  is  constantly  interwoven  with  his  interest  in  ideas, 
and  reinforced  by  an  unfailing  spirit  of  enterprise. 

Other  prominent  members  of  the  Octobrist  Party  are  M. 
Rodzianko  of  Ekaterinoslav,  a  giant  of  a  man  with  a  resonant 
bass  voice,  the  owner  of  immense  estates,  a  Court  Chamberlain 
and  a  persistent  defender  of  the  ceremonial  rights  and 
privileges  of  the  Duma  on  public  occasions ;  M.  Rodzianko 
was  President  of  the  Third  Duma  during  the  last  year  of  its 
existence,  and  was  elected  President  of  the  Fourth  Duma ; 


86  Russia  of  the  Russians 

the  former  President  of  the  Third  Duma,  M.  Nicholas 
Homiakov,  the  son  of  a  famous  Slavophil  poet,  a  shrewd 
and  witty  country  gentleman,  who  might  easily  occupy  a 
distinguished  position  if  his  energy  were  proportionate  to  his 
talent ;  and  M.  Shidlovsky,  a  Conservative  Constitutionalist 
of  a  clear-cut  and  very  conscientious  type,  and  a  lucid  and 
able  speaker.  Baron  Meyendorff,  of  Livland,  a  scrupulous 
and  unbending  opponent  of  all  forms  of  illegality,  and  one 
of  the  ablest  and  most  conspicuous  Octobrists  in  the  Third 
Duma,  has  left  the  party  owing  to  disapproval  of  its  support 
of  the  Government's  Finnish  policy. 

To  the  Left  of  the  Octobrists  is  the  Opposition,  composed 
of  four  parties  and  the  Mohammedan  and  Polish  groups. 
The  Polish  group,  composed  of  conservative  deputies  from 
Poland  and  Lithuania,  drags  out  a  melancholy  and  undis- 
tinguished existence  in  a  Duma  in  which  Russian  Nationalism 
is  militant.  It  once  had  an  aggressive  and  conspicuous  leader 
in  the  person  of  M.  Roman  Dmowski  of  Warsaw,  but  since 
his  retirement  the  group  has  rarely  attracted  attention.  A 
handful  of  Mohammedan  deputies  represent  the  Tartars 
of  the  Volga,  the  Urals  and  the  Caucasus,  and  bear  a  heavy 
burden  in  defence  of  their  confessional  and  educational 
interests. 

Between  the  Octobrists  and  the  next  large  party,  the  Cadets, 
sit  the  Progressists,  pacific  Constitutionalists  who  object  to 
Octobrist  tactics  on  the  one  hand,  and  to  various  points  in 
the  Cadet  programme  on  the  other.  Its  most  prominent 
members  are  M.  Nicholas  Lvov,  a  Vice-President  of  the 
Fourth  Duma,  a  Zemstvo  Constitutionalist,  a  chivalrous  and 
passionate  speaker,  and  a  Hamlet  in  his  incapacity  for  action  ; 
M.  Konovalov,  a  young  and  active  Moscow  merchant ;  and 
the  party  leader,  M.  Efremov,  an  ardent  Pacifist. 

The  Cadets,  or  Constitutional  Democrats,  are  a  fairly  large 
group,  numbering  from  fifty  to  sixty  deputies,  and  now 
occupy  the  position  of  leaders  of  the  Opposition  in  the  Duma 
and  in  the  country.    This  is  sorry  comfort  for  the  loss  of  the 


The  Bureaucracy  and  the  Constitution     87 

leadership  of  the  first  two  Dumas,  and  the  conduct  of  an 
Opposition  policy  under  the  present  conditions  is  the  most 
trying  and  thankless  task  that  could  be  imagined.  The 
Cadets  represent  Constitutionalism  in  its  undiluted  and  un- 
modified form,  and  maintain  a  clear  and  strict  line  of  demarca- 
tion between  themselves  and  the  bureaucracy.  Their  speeches 
are,  as  a  matter  of  necessity,  mainly  devoted  to  criticisms  of 
Government  methods  and  exposures  of  administrative  abuses, 
and  as  the  party  includes  the  most  powerful  speakers  in 
the  Duma  the  attacks  and  exposures  of  the  Cadets  are  as 
thoroughly  effective  as  speeches  can  be  which  year  after  year 
find  the  same  abuses  to  attack,  unmodified  and  unmitigated. 
*  The  Cadet  Party  has  had  a  strange  history.  Formed  at  the  *"" 
end  of  1905,  through  the  fusion  of  the  Zemstvo  Constitution- 
alists with  leaders  of  the  professional  classes  in  the  towns, 
it  drafted  a  programme  of  democratic  and  constitutional 
reform  which  attracted  for  it  wide  sympathy.  The  party 
was  admirably  organised,  established  branches  in  all  parts 
of  the  Empire,  had  its  programme  translated  into  all  the 
languages  of  the  Empire,  and  secured  a  large  majority  in  the 
elections  to  the  First  Duma.  There  was  a  moment  when  it 
seemed  possible  that  Cadets  would  be  summoned  to  form 
a  Cabinet.  But  a  lack  of  firmness  in  resisting  the  pressure 
of  the  more  headstrong  Labour  and  Socialist  Left  in  the 
First  Duma  proved  fatal.  After  the  dissolution  of  the 
First  Duma  the  Cadets  took  the  leading  part  in  the  drafting 
of  the  Viborg  Manifesto,  which  cannot  now  be  justified  on 
any  political  grounds.  Many  of  the  ablest  members  of  the 
Party  signed  the  Manifesto,  and  in  consequence  not  only 
did  they  suffer  three  months'  imprisonment,  but  what  is 
much  more  serious,  were  permanently  deprived  of  the  franchise. 
This  was  the  case  with  the  veteran  Zemstvo  Constitutionalist, 
M.  Ivan  Petrunkevich  of  Tver,  one  of  the  most  attractive 
figures  in  Russian  public  life,  a  man  of  profound  Liberal 
principle  and  ripe  experience,  and  a  courageous  assertor  of 
constitutional  principles  during  the  long  period  of  reaction 

7— (2400) 


88  Russia  of  the  Russians 

in  the  eighties  and  nineties.  This  was  the  case,  too,  with 
M.  Nabokov,  the  son  of  one  of  Alexander  H's  ministers,  whose 
eloquence  and  business  capacity  as  displayed  in  the  First 
Duma,  seemed  to  give  promise  of  an  exceptionally  distinguished 
political  career.  And  this  was  the  case  with  scores  of  others 
who  signed  the  appeal. 

The  party  became  the  object  of  unremitting  Government 
hostilities.  It  was  refused  official  authorisation.  Its  meetings 
were  declared  illegal,  its  organisation,  as  far  as  possible,  broken 
up.  It  has  not  held  a  congress  for  years.  In  the  Second 
Duma  it  again  secured  a  majority,  including  such  able  men 
as  MM.  Maklakov  and  Struve,  but  the  change  in  the  Electoral 
Law  in  1907  robbed  it  of  its  preponderance  of  voting  power, 
and  it  came  up  to  the  Third  Duma  a  comparatively  small 
group  to  face  a  strong  majority  which  was  favourable  to  the 
Government.  At  present  the  Cadet  deputies  are  returned 
chiefly  by  the  cities  and  large  towns.  Both  St.  Petersburg 
and  Moscow  return  Cadets,  and  there  are  a  few  Cadet 
representatives  from  the  rural  districts. 

The  leader  of  the  Cadets,  M.  Paul  Miliukov,  has  set  the 
stamp  of  his  personality  very  strongly  upon  the  party.  Born 
somewhere  over  fifty  years  ago,  educated  in  Moscow,  he 
became  a  lecturer  in  history  in  the  Moscow  University,  and 
published  a  number  of  valuable  works  on  Russian  History. 
He  was  popular  as  a  lecturer,  but  was  frequently  harassed  by 
the  police  on  account  of  his  liberal  views,  and  was  compelled 
to  give  up  his  post  at  the  University.  In  the  nineties  the 
young  Principality  of  Bulgaria  invited  him  to  organise  the 
State  College  of  Sofia  on  University  lines,  and  in  Sofia  M. 
Miliukov  spent  several  years  making  that  thorough  study 
of  the  Balkans  which  afterwards  made  him  the  most  competent 
authority  on  Balkan  politics  amongst  Russian  public  men. 
Returning  to  St.  Petersburg  he  for  some  years  led  the  life 
of  a  litterateur,  took  part  in  the  Liberal  movement,  was  a 
prominent  member  of  the  Liberation  League,  the  leaders 
of  which  were  the  Zemstvo  Constitutionalists,  and  on  returning 


The  Bureaucracy  and  the  Constitution     89 

from  Chicago,  where  in  1905  he  gave  a  series  of  lectures  on 
the  Russian  crisis,  he  threw  himself  into  the  work  of  politically 
organising  the  professions  in  the  towns  and  linking  up  these 
new  professional  unions  with  the  Zemstvo  Liberal  organisa- 
tions. He  was  one  of  the  chief  initiators  of  the  Constitutional 
Democratic  Party  which  was  founded  in  Moscow  at  the 
moment  of  the  promulgation  of  the  Constitution.  He  was 
not  a  member  of  the  First  or  Second  Dumas,  though  he  was 
constantly  active  behind  the  scenes.  In  1907  he  was  elected 
member  for  St.  Petersburg  by  a  heavy  vote,  and  retained  his 
position  at  the  elections  to  the  Fourth  Duma.  The  general 
tactics  of  the  Cadet  Party  were  largely  determined  by  his 
influence,  and  for  the  last  few  years  he  has  steadily  borne  the 
brunt  of  the  parliamentary  conflict  as  Opposition  leader  in 
a  time  of  reaction.  '  M.  Miliukov  has  a  capacity  for  work 
and  a  tenacity  of  purpose  exceptional  among  Russian  public 
men,  and  therein  lies  his  strength  as  a  leader.  He  is  an 
intelligent  with  no  experience  in  affairs  except  what  he  has 
gained  in  recent  years,  and  this  explains  to  a  considerable 
extent  both  his  defects  and  his  qualities.  He  has  a  wide 
knowledge  of  European  politics,  and  is  an  able  and  resourceful 
speaker.  The  mistakes  he  makes — serious  ones,  sometimes 
at  critical  moments — are  those  that  academic  men  do  make 
when  they  overreach  themselves  in  trying  to  be  practical. 
But  M.  Miliukov's  most  characteristic  and  admirable  feature 
is  a  sort  of  downright  doggedness.  Guchkov  and  Miliukov, 
the  chief  rival  party  leaders  of  the  present  period,  are  much 
less  unlike  than  differences  in  tactics  and  in  views  on  current 
question  make  them  seem.  They  both  have  a  large  share 
of  that  hard  bedrock  sense  which  may  be  distinctly 
Muscovite,  and  has  at  any  rate  meant  a  great  deal  in  the 
process  of  Russian  state-building. 

Other  leading  members  of  the  Cadet  Party  in  the  Duma 
are  M.  Vasili  Maklakov,  a  Moscow  lawyer,  brother  of  the 
present  Minister  of  the  Interior,  the  most  talented,  logical 
and  forceful  speaker  in  the  House,  whose  speeches  are  always 


90  Russia  of  the  Russians 

looked  forward  to  as  an  event  ;  M.  Rodichev,  a  Zemstvo 
worker  from  Tver,  and  a  fiery  and  passionate  orator 
upon  whose  talent  the  years  in  the  heavy  atmosphere  of  the 
Third  Duma  have  had  a  depressing  effect ;  M.  Shingarev,  a 
Zemstvo  doctor  from  Voronezh,  who  in  the  course  of  a  few 
years  of  hard  work  in  the  Duma  has  gained  an  expert  know- 
ledge of  Imperial  finance ;  and  the  Secretary  of  the  Second 
Duma,  M.  Chelnokov  of  Moscow.  The  Cadet  Party  is  the 
best  disciplined  in  the  House. 
>  The  Labour  Party,  which  was  so  strongly  represented  in 
'  the  First  and  Second  Dumas,  has  constituted  in  the  Third 
and  Fourth  an  insignificant  group  with  no  leaders  to  com- 
pare with  Zhilkin,  Aladin  and  Anikin,  who  enjoyed  such 
authority  in  the  First  Duma. 

The  Social  Democrats  number  about  twenty,  of  whom  several 
are  working  men.  They  deny  the  legislative  value  of  the  Duma 
as  at  present  constituted,  and  use  its  tribune  as  a  medium 
for  protesting  against  the  present  regime,  but  by  the  mere 
habit  of  constantly  partaking  in  its  sittings  they  are  imper- 
ceptibly drawn  into  legislative  work  like  their  enemies  the 
reactionaries  at  the  opposite  end  of  the  Chamber.  In  spite 
of  their  small  numbers  and  their  lack  of  good  speakers — M. 
Chheidze,  a  Georgian  from  the  Caucasus,  is  the  best — they 
succeed  in  maintaining  a  very  consistent  protest.  In  doing 
so  they  are  aided  by  the  Social  Democratic  organisations 
outside  the  Duma,  which,  in  defiance  of  police  restrictions 
and  repression,  carries  on  a  persistent  agitation  amongst  the 
working-men,  and  keeps  two  little  papers  going  in  spite  of 
daily  fines. 

Party  lines  are  sharply  drawn  in  the  Duma,  and  members 
/  of  different  parties  rarely  associate.  The  Committees  form 
more  or  less  neutral  ground  where  deputies  frequently  sink 
their  differences,  and  where  they  rub  shoulders  with  the 
representatives  of  the  bureaucracy  who  come  down  to  give 
explanations  on  budget  questions  and  on  various  Government 
bills.     In  the  committees,  the  deputies  study  the  complex 


The  Bureaucracy  and  the  Constitution     91 

technique  of  administration  and  learn  the  workings  of  the 
bureaucratic  machine.  They  are  frequently  enabled  in  this 
way  effectively  to  oppose  abuses,  but  often  the  bureaucratic 
spirit  penetrates  the  committees  and  gently  subdues  those 
deputies  who  do  not  possess  great  force  of  character.  It  is 
strange  to  watch  the  process  of  the  gradual  bureaucratisation 
of  the  Duma  through  the  committees.  With  the  members  of 
the  Right,  and  even  of  the  Centre,  there  was  no  difficulty, 
because  a  great  many  of  them  were  bureaucrats  by  training 
and  had  simply  retired  from  the  service  to  become  deputies. 
And  on  the  left  the  mere  depressing  routine  of  the  Duma, 
the  impossibility  of  maintaining  close  contact  with  the  coun- 
try, and  the  necessity  of  constantly  breathing  the  atmos- 
phere of  bureaucratic  St.  Petersburg  has  a  devitalising  and 
assimilative  effect. 

And  yet  the  Duma  is  a  pledge  of  progress.  Its  sittings 
are  public,  and  are  reported  daily  in  all  the  newspapers  of 
the  Empire.  The  constant  discussion  of  administrative 
questions  has  a  broadly  educative  value.  Every  year  the 
budget  is  discussed  in  detail,  and  the  public  has  grown  familiar 
with  its  main  features  and  with  the  chief  abuses  that  need 
remedying.  The  Duma  has  the  right  of  questioning  ministers 
on  matters  that  call  for  protest.  All  parties  frequently  avail 
themselves  of  this  privilege,  and  ministers  are  compelled  to 
come  down  to  the  House  to  give  explanations,  the  verdict  of 
the  Duma  on  which  has  a  certain  moral  effect.  An  enormous 
amount  of  time  is  wasted  on  bills  of  minor  importance,  on 
such  matters,  for  instance,  as  the  employment  of  an  additional 
postal  official  in  Harbin,  matters  that  might  be  relegated  to 
the  competence  of  some  local  body.  But  the  Duma  tries  to 
promote  reforms,  to  amend  Government  bills,  to  embody  in 
law  some  of  the  constitutional  principles.  Only  here  its 
efforts  are  perpetually  thwarted.  The  Upper  House,  the 
Council  of  the  Empire,  is  a  stronghold  of  the  bureaucracy, 
and  effectively  blocks  any  measures  that  are  disagreeable  to 
the  Government. 


92  Russia  of  the  Russians 

The  Council  of  the  Empire  is  an  interesting  institution, 
much  more  interesting  in  many  ways  than  the  Duma.    Be- 
fore the  Constitution  this  Council  had  existed 

aPtL^E***^  *or  nearty  a  hundred  years  as  a  kind  of  con- 
clave, an  advisory  assembly  of  the  highest 
legal  authorities  of  the  bureaucracy  established  for  the  pur- 
pose of  drafting  laws  which  the  Monarch  might,  or  might  not, 
confirm  at  his  pleasure.  All  the  highest  dignitaries  of  the 
Empire  were  there,  ministers  and  ex-ministers,  retired  am- 
bassadors, generals,  admirals,  and  administrators  of  various 
categories.  Of  the  Council  of  the  Empire  in  its  pre-consti- 
tutional  form  the  artist  Riepin  has  painted  a  striking  and 
characteristic  picture,  which  now  hangs  in  the  Alexander  III 
Museum  in  St.  Petersburg.  With  the  promulgation  of  the 
Constitution  and  the  establishment  of  the  Duma,  the  Council 
was  reformed.  Half  of  the  members  are  appointed  by  the 
Emperor  as  before,  and  the  other  half  by  the  clergy  and 
various  public  institutions,  such  as  provincial  assemblies  of 
the  gentry,  Zemstvos,  industrialists'  associations,  and  learned 
bodies.  There  are  two  hundred  members  in  all.  The  Council 
meets  in  the  Marie  Palace,  near  St.  Isaac's  Cathedral,  in  a 
lofty,  well-like  hall,  of  scarlet  and  gleaming  white,  lighted 
from  above.  The  President  is  seated  high  up  on  a  command- 
ing dais,  and,  looking  down  from  the  visitors'  gallery  one 
sees,  far  below,  long  rows  of  bald  heads  reposing  in  capacious 
arm-chairs.  The  party  divisions  roughly  correspond  to  those 
in  the  Duma.  There  is  a  reactionary  Right,  a  Conservative 
Centre,  and  a  numerically  inconsiderable  Left  composed  of 
Cadet  and  Progressist  professors  and  Zemstvo  men.  The 
Bureaucracy  is  safe  here,  for,  not  to  speak  of  the  appointed 
members,  the  greater  proportion  of  the  elected  members  are 
connected  with  the  Bureaucracy  by  the  most  intimate  ties. 
There  is  nothing  here  of  the  restlessness  and  nervousness  of 
the  Duma.  There  is  an  impressive  dignity  of  deportment, 
an  atmosphere  of  grave  authority,  a  scrupulousness  in  the 
observance  of  formalities.    Noisy  declamation  is  frowned  on. 


The  Bureaucracy  and  the  Constitution     93 

All  these  elderly  councillors,  with  years  of  experience  behind 
them  in  the  chancelleries  and  in  the  provinces,  have  a  fine 
sense  of  the  gradations  of  rank  and  authority,  and  are  pre- 
pared at  any  moment,  at  the  bidding  of  authority,  to  abandon 
their  own  carefully  considered  views.  There  are  many  able 
men  in  the  Council,  and  their  judgment  on  points  of  law  and 
administration  is  often  singularly  valuable.  Some  of  the 
speeches  in  the  Council  attain  a  high  level  of  oratory.  Original 
views  are  presented  with  exceptional  cogency,  subtlety  of 
argument,  and  wealth  of  illustration.  Only  the  net  result 
of  these  stately  debates  is  that  reforms  are  simply  decorously 
buried.  The  Council  may  waver  and,  on  occasion,  indulge 
in  a  mild  flutter  of  opposition  to  the  Government,  but  in 
the  end  it  nearly  always  does  as  the  Government  wishes 
it  to. 

There  is  no  better  place  than  the  Council  of  the  Empire 
for  studying  the  psychology  of  the  Bureaucracy  and  the 
lingering  Byzantine  conceptions  of  authority.  Complicated 
intrigues  are  carried  on  here,  intrigues  against  the  Cabinet, 
or  between  rival  members  of  the  Cabinet,  intrigues  that  are 
played  with  great  resource  and  a  fine  calculation  of  means 
and  ends,  and,  above  all,  of  the  safety  of  the  players.  There 
is  close  contact  between  the  Council  and  the  Court.  The 
Ministers  are  members  of  the  Council  and  vote  there.  Official 
connection  with  the  Duma  is  maintained  by  a  Commission 
of  Agreement,  the  object  of  which  is  to  reconcile  the  different 
views  of  the  two  Houses  on  bills  under  debate.  A  loose, 
irregular  and  unofficial  connection  with  the  Lower  House  is 
maintained  by  the  members  of  various  parties,  but  the 
Council's  persistent  blocking  of  reform  bills  has  created  an 
antagonism  between  the  Upper  House  and  the  majority  of 
the  Duma.  The  Council  of  the  Empire  carries  on  its  business 
so  quietly  that  the  general  public  is  almost  oblivious  of  its 
existence.  Two  names  in  the  Council  of  the  Empire  are 
widely  known  to  the  outside  world.  These  are  Count  Sergius 
Witte  and  the  present  Premier,  M.  Kokovstev. 


94  Russia  of  the  Russians 

Count  Witte,  on  whose  urgent  advice  the  Emperor  pub- 
lished the  Constitutional  Manifesto,  has  since  the  opening  of 

the  First  Duma,  ceased  to  take  a  prominent 

Count  Witte.    part  in  public  life.     There  was  a  time  when 

many  were  disposed  to  regard  him  as  a  very 
big  man  indeed,  or,  at  any  rate,  as  a  man  born  under  the  bright 
star  of  power.  The  son  of  an  official  in  Tiflis,  educated  in 
Tiflis  and  Odessa,  he  grew  up  on  the  outskirts  of  the  Empire 
in  a  kind  of  colonial  atmosphere,  where  Russian  life  was  new, 
little  hampered  by  tradition,  rough  and  ready,  devoted 
frankly  to  money-making.  And  if  the  circumstances  of 
Witte's  upbringing  imbued  him  with  strong  business  leanings 
of  a  very  modern  type,  his  years  of  service  in  the  South 
Western  Railways  added  to  his  taste  for  figures  and  the 
rapid  movement  of  commercial  enterprise,  a  Tceen  interest 
in  steel  and  iron  with  all  their  manifold  applications,  in  a 
word,  in  modern  industry.  When  he  came  in  the  nineties 
to  St.  Petersburg,  his  remarkable  business  ability  attracted 
attention,  and  as  Minister  of  Ways  and  Communications, 
and  afterwards  as  Minister  of  Finance,  he  very  energetically, 
and  with  little  regard  for  tradition,  applied  modern  business 
principles  to  the  task  of  bureaucratic  Government.  He  did 
his  utmost,  in  fact,  to  modernise  the  bureaucracy,  to  bring 
it  up  to  date,  almost  to  Americanise  it.  He  did  succeed  in 
effecting  some  very  valuable  financial  reforms.  He  fixed 
the  gold  standard  of  the  currency,  and  established  a  gold 
reserve  in  the  Imperial  Bank.  He  built  a  number  of  railways, 
including  the  Trans-Siberian,  and  by  forcing  on  railway  con- 
struction so  that  the  great  metallurgical  works  should  never 
lack  Government  orders  for  railway  material,  and  by  main- 
taining in  vigour  a  high  protective  tariff  he  tried  to  promote 
the  development  of  industry  in  Russia.  Witte  was  a  man 
of  big  plans,  big  schemes,  but  the  very  bigness  of  Russia, 
the  very  vastness  of  the  field  before  him  caused  him  to 
forget  the  distinction  between  political  and  industrial  enter- 
prise.   And  when  the  inflated  Manchurian  schemes  led  to 


The  Bureaucracy  and  the  Constitution     95 

catastrophe  abroad  and  grave  internal  disturbances,  Witte 
perceived  that  the  process  of  modernisation  had  not  gone 
far  enough,  and  he  came  home  from  America,  the  country  of 
big  business  enterprise,  with  the  conviction  that  a  constitu- 
tion was  necessary.  Then,  when  all  the  railways  he  had 
built  stopped  running,  he  succeeded  in  inducing  the  Emperor 
to  promulgate  a  constitutional  manifesto.  For  a  time  this 
big,  very  Russian-looking  man,  with  the  masterful  manner, 
tried  to  apply  business  principles  in  the  administration  of 
the  Constitution — there  was  a  curious  scent  of  business  in 
the  air  in  those  early  constitutional  days — but  he  missed  his 
way  and  somehow  lost  his  footing.  Probably  the  years 
during  which,  in  spite  of  all  his  innovations,  he  had  steadily 
adapted  himself  to  the  bureaucratic  system,  had  made  him 
too  much  of  a  bureaucrat  after  all.  The  glow  of  his  sudden 
popularity  faded  during  the  winter  of  repression  that 
followed  on"* the  constitutional  edict,  and  the  First  Duma 
forgot  all  about  him.  Witte  acted  thenceforth  quietly  as  a 
member  of  the  Council  of  the  Empire,  only  rarely  emerging 
into  prominence.  For  several  years  he  felt  the  effects  of  the 
revulsion  of  feeling  at  Court  against  the  Constitution.  The 
reactionaries  for  long  bitterly  attacked  him  as  a  traitor  to 
the  Monarchical  principle  on  the  ground  that  he  had  misled 
the  Emperor  in  inducing  him  to  sign  the  Constitutional 
Manifesto.  Witte  waited,  and  then,  at  the  first  convenient 
opportunity,  subtly  affirmed  in  the  Council  of  the  Empire 
his  devotion  to  the  Autocracy,  cautiously  disavowed  Con- 
stitutionalism, and  little  by  little  made  good  his  position 
amongst  the  reactionaries.  He  was  suspected  of  intriguing 
against  Stolypin  in  1909  and  1911,  and  there  were  vague 
rumours  of  a  possibility  of  his  being  again  called  to  power. 
In  any  case  he  was  restored  to  favour  after  his  professions 
of  devotion  to  the  Autocracy,  and  during  the  last  few  years, 
he  has  several  times  been  received  at  Court.  Perhaps  as 
the  wheel  of  fortune  turns  around  he  may  again  at  some 
critical  moment   be   made   Premier.    For   the   present   he 


96  Russia  of  the  Russians 

remains  a  problematical  figure  in  the  background,  an  obscure 
reminder  of  great  possibilities  unfulfilled  for  lack  of  sheer 
consistency  of  purpose,  of  firmness  of  political  principle,  and 
of  the  finer  forms  of  perception.  His  personal  ambition 
was  never  absorbed  in  a  glowing  ardour  of  national  renewal 
which  might  of  itself  have  shown  the  right  way  and  led  Witte 
to  real  greatness. 

The  present  Premier  and  Minister  of  Finances,  M.  Kokov- 
stev,  is  a  man  of  a  very  different  type.     In  appearance  he 

differs  strikingly  from  Witte.    Witte's  bulky 
M.  Kokovstev.  figure    would    overshadow    M.    Kokovstev, 

who  is  of  less  than  middle  height,  and  while 
Witte's  whole  bearing  is  suggestive  of  careless  enterprise, 
M.  Kokovstev's  trim  figure  and  neatly-clipped  beard  bespeak 
the  methodical  and  circumspect  mind.  M.  Kokovstev  was 
born  in  the  government  of  Novgorod/ which  has  lost  every 
vestige  of  its  ancient  democratic  tradition,  and  has  practi- 
cally become  a  suburb  of  St.  Petersburg.  He  has  spent  his 
whole  life  in  the  St.  Petersburg  Chancelleries,  has  steadily 
climbed  rung  after  rung  of  the  bureaucratic  ladder,  and 
acquired  a  thorough  knowledge  of  the  finances  of  the  Empire, 
and  since  1906  has  been  a  shrewd,  economical,  and  invariably 
optimistic  Minister  of  Finance.  He  imperturbably  negotiates 
loans  in  Paris,  and  with  equal  imperturbability  defends 
article  after  article  of  his  Budgets  in  the  Duma.  He  speaks 
quietly,  in  rounded  periods,  frames  his  arguments,  as  he  has 
for  years  been  accustomed  to  frame  them,  in  innumerable 
official  reports,  never  hesitates  for  a  word,  never  displays 
excessive  emotion,  rarely  appeals  to  the  emotions  of  his 
hearers.  Once  in  a  Duma  speech  he  unexpectedly  let  fall 
a  phrase,  "  Thank  God  !  we  have  no  Parliament,"  which 
aroused  great  indignation  among  the  deputies,  evoked  a 
protest  from  the  speaker,  M.  Homiakov,  and  for  a  time 
secured  for  M.  Kokovstev  the  reputation  of  a  reactionary 
bureaucrat  who  desired  the  abolition  of  Constitutional  Govern- 
ment.   The  phrase  was,  however,  due  to  a  misunderstanding, 


11.   VLADIMIR  KOKOVSTEV 
IFrtsident  of  the  Council  of  Ministers) 


© 


The  Bureaucracy  and  the  Constitution     97 

and  all  that  M.  Kokovstev  intended  to  say  was  that  the 
parliamentary  system  under  which  ministers  were  respon- 
sible to  the  Representative  Assembly  does  not  prevail  in 
Russia.  On  the  whole  M.  Kokovstev  is  believed  to  be  cau- 
tiously progressive  rather  than  reactionary  in  his  views.  But 
he  is  not  a  strong  personality,  and  secures  his  ends  rather 
by  discreet  self-effacement  than  by  vigorous  insistence  on 
his  own  point  of  view.  He  certainly  does  not  pursue  either 
the  policy  of  general  repression,  or  the  aggressive  policy  in 
regard  to  the  non-Russian  nationalities  with  the  same  energy 
as  his  predecessor.  Even  apart  from  differences  of  tempera- 
ment there  is  a  difference  between  the  position  of  M.  Kokov- 
stev and  that  of  M.  Stolypin  which  largely  accounts  for  certain 
divergences  in  their  respective  policies.  While  Stolypin 
as  Premier  retained  the  post  of  Minister  of  the  Interior,  M. 
Kokovstev  retains  as  Premier  the  post  of  Minister  of  Finances 
and  leaves  the  Ministry  of  the  Interior  to  others.  Under 
the  pre-constitutional  regime  the  Ministry  of  the  Interior, 
which  has  under  its  control  governors,  police  and  gendarmerie, 
that  is,  the  greater  part  of  the  machinery  of  administration, 
and  practically  all  the  machinery  of  oppression,  was  the 
most  powerful  of  all.  In  a  conflict  between  M.  Plehve,  the 
Minister  of  the  Interior,  and  M.  Witte,  the  Minister  of  Finances, 
Plehve  easily  defeated  his  opponent,  in  spite  of  the  latter's 
greater  positive  services.  With  the  union  of  all  the  Ministers 
in  a  Cabinet  or  Council  of  Ministers,  the  chief  power  was 
formally  placed  in  the  hands  of  the  President  or  Premier. 
But  the  old  rivalry  between  the  Ministries  continued,  and 
the  Ministry  of  the  Interior  gradually  recovered  its  influence 
and  power.  M.  Durnovo,  as  Minister  of  the  Interior  in  M. 
Witte's  Cabinet,  by  his  repressive  policy  succeeded  in  putting 
Witte  completely  in  the  shade.  Stolypin,  by  retaining  in 
his  hands  the  Ministry  of  the  Interior  after  he  had  become 
Premier,  united  with  the  formal  authority  implied  in  the 
Premiership  the  real  power  accruing  from  direct  control  over 
the  machinery  of  the  administration  and  repression.    And  it 


98  Russia  of  the  Russians 

was  this  circumstance  that  for  a  time  made  his  position  a 
peculiarly  strong  one,  though  in  the  end  it  involved  him  in 
a  network  of  tragic  contradictions.  M.  Kokovstev  as  a  Pre- 
mier occupying  the  post  of  Minister  of  Finance  is  naturally 
disposed  to  regard  the  whole  task  of  Imperial  administration 
from  the  financial  and  economic  rather  than  the  police  point 
of  view,  and  so  to  exercise  on  the  whole  a  moderating  and 
restraining  influence.  There  has  been  no  actual  change  of 
policy  during  his  premiership,  but  perhaps  there  has  been  a 
change  of  tone. 

Outside  the  Duma  and  the  Council  of  the  Empire  there  is 
little  political  life  in  the  country  except  at  election  times. 
The  only  parties  that  had  strong  political  organisations  were 
the  Cadets  and  Social  Democrats,  but  the  Social  Democratic 
organisation  has  been  persecuted  out  of  visible  existence, 
while  that  of  the  Cadets  has  been  rendered  largely  ineffective 
by  police  repression.  Members  of  the  Duma  rarely  receive 
police  permission  to  address  their  constituents,  and  members 
of  the  Centre  and  the  Right  hardly  ever  display  a  desire  to 
do  so.  Ministers  naturally  never  dream  of  stumping  the 
country.  It  is  only  through  the  Press  reports  of  the  Duma 
debates  that  the  country  is  kept  in  touch  with  the  political 
life  of  the  capital. 

The  political  situation  created  by  the  curious  combination 
of  a  bureaucracy  with  a  representative  assembly  is  full  of 
difficulties,  but  also  full  of  very  interesting  possibilities.  The 
country  is  awake,  is  growing  rapidly,  has  suddenly  deter- 
mined to  be  modern.  The  mental  awakening  and  the 
economic  boom  have  set  the  Empire  definitely  in  the  path 
of  progress.  One  may  hope  that  the  pursuit  of  this  path 
may  be  as  painless  as  possible.  But  the  Russian  people  has 
learned,  during  its  historical  development,  deep  lessons  of 
patience  and  suffering.     It  was  not  born  for  facile  victories. 


CHAPTER   III 

THE   PRESS 

The  condition  of  the  Russian  Press  is  conspicuously  illustra- 
tive of  the  transition  period  through  which  the  Empire  is 

now  passing.  The  Press  is  not  free.  It  is 
The  Press.  still  subjected  to  a  variety  of  harassing  re- 
strictions. But  it  is  freer  than  it  was  eight 
or  nine  years  ago.  Words  that  in  1904  were  rigorously  banned 
by  the  censor  are  now  in  daily  use  in  newspapers  of  all  shades. 
Opinions  that  until  recently  were  regarded  as  seditious  have 
now  become  mere  unexciting  commonplaces  in  the  articles  of 
hack  journalists.  Public  criticism  of  the  Administration  is 
now  permitted  within  certain  limits.  The  discussion  of  home 
and  foreign  politics  is  conducted  in  the  capitals  with  a  lati- 
tude that  renders  possible  a  tolerably  adequate  statement  of 
the  pros  and  cons.  Public  opinion  does  now  find  expression 
to  a  considerable  degree  in  the  Press.  There  are  risks,  it  is 
true.  A  responsible  journalist  must  have  a  very  keen  per- 
ception of  what  is  and  what  is  not  likely  to  bring  down  on 
his  paper  severe  penalties  from  the  authorities.  But  it  is  no 
longer  necessary — in  the  capitals  at  least — to  resort,  as  in 
old  days,  to  innuendo  or  to  quaint  paraphrase  in  order  to 
describe  events  that  are  of  everyday  occurrence  in  Western 
Europe.  In  1904,  for  instance,  it  was  considered  a  very 
daring  feat  when  a  Liberal  paper  in  humorous  verse  des- 
cribed the  approach  of  a  railway  train  bringing  a  lady  named 
"  Ko,"  which,  as  the  readers  were  supposed  to  understand, 
meant  "  Constitution."  The  word  constitution  is  now  re- 
iterated a  hundred  times  daily  in  various  Russian  organs 
and  arouses  no  emotion  whatever,  except  one  of  vague 
disappointment. 

The  position  of  the  Russian  Press  has  undergone  many 
changes  during  the  turmoil  of  the  last  few  years.  Until 
October,    1905,   the    preventive    censorship    was    in   force. 

99 


100  Russia  of  the  Russians 

Every  number  of  a  newspaper  had  to  be  submitted  to  a 
censor  before  publication,  and  the  number  could  only  be 
issued  after  the  censor  had  erased  whatever  seemed  to  him 
objectionable.  The  opinion  of  the  authorities  constantly 
varies  as  to  the  limits  of  the  permissible.  A  wide  range  of 
questions  of  burning  interest  might  at  any  moment  be  declared 
unsuitable  for  treatment  in  the  Press.  Editors  spent  the 
midnight  hours  in  tedious  bargaining  with  censors  over  words 
and  phrases.  Sometimes  the  dispute  would  extend  to  more 
general  topics,  and  the  censors  themselves  would  often  un- 
expectedly express  radical  views.  One  night,  in  1905,  a  tired 
and  yawning  editor  was  astonished  to  hear  his  censor — who 
happened  to  be  particularly  meticulous  in  his  criticism — 
declare  himself  a  Tolstoyan. 

To  evade  the  censor's  red  pencil  skilful  circumlocution  was 
necessary.  The  phrase  "  legal  order  "  did  duty  for  "  con- 
stitutional government."  The  words  "  socialism "  and 
"  socialist  "  were  banned,  but  "  Marxism  "  and  "  Marxist  " 
were  often  allowed  to  pass.  Opinions  that  could  be  freely 
expressed  in  a  book  of  over  300  pages  were  sternly  prohibited 
in  newspapers.  It  was  difficult  for  a  press  opposed  to  the 
bureaucracy  to  exist  at  all.  That  certain  Liberal  organs 
were  allowed  to  exist  was  a  concession  to  that  modern  spirit 
which  the  bureaucracy  could  not  wholly  ignore.  And  the 
appearance  of  several  new  Liberal  organs  in  1904  and  1905 
was  in  itself  an  indication  that  the  war  and  the  internal 
unrest  of  those  years  had  opened  the  eyes  of  the  Govern- 
ment to  the  necessity  of  making  concessions  to  public  opinion. 
The  growth  of  the  Liberal  Press,  in  fact,  ran  parallel  with  the 
steady  multiplication  of  Government  promises  of  reforms. 

The  Constitutional  Manifesto  of  October  30,  1905,  pro- 
claimed the  principle  of  liberty  of  the  Press.  For  forty  days 
— -from  November  4  till  December  15 — the  Press  did  actually 
enjoy  complete  liberty.  Editors  simply  ignored  the  censors, 
and  no  one  interfered  with  them.  Opinions  of  every  kind 
were  expressed  with  absolute  freedom,  and  in  the  strongest 


The  Press  101 

language.  A  large  number  of  new  organs — mostly  of  a 
socialistic  character — appeared,  and  views  that  it  had  been 
until  then  possible  to  express  only  in  revolutionary  organs 
published  abroad  and  smuggled  across  the  frontier  were 
enunciated  with  great  force  and  emphasis  in  organs  like  the 
Social  Democratic  Novaia  Zhizn  that  were  sold  daily  in 
hundreds  by  elated  newsboys  on  the  Nevsky  Prospect.  Re- 
strictive regulations  were  published  on  December  7,  and 
again  in  March,  and  from  the  beginning  of  December  on- 
wards papers  were  constantly  confiscated  or  suspended. 
But  in  spite  of  this  renewal  of  administrative  rigour,  the 
Press  continued  to  display  great  boldness.  Newspapers 
were  widely  and  eagerly  read.  New  organs  sprang  up  like 
mushrooms.  Hundreds  of  educated  and  half-educated  men 
and  women  flocked  into  journalism.  The  period  from  Octo- 
ber, 1905,  until  the  dissolution  of  the  first  Duma  in  June, 
1906,  was  the  hey-day  of  the  Russian  Press.  In  comparison 
with  the  liberty  enjoyed  then,  the  present  state  of  the  Press 
seems  like  a  return  to  bondage.  It  is  liberty  only  if  compared 
with  the  pre-constitutional  period. 

If  the  position  of  the  Press  were  determined  only  by  the 
Provisional  Regulations  published  in  December,  1905,  and 
March,  1906,  Russian  journalists  would  have  comparatively 
little  to  complain  of.  The  preventive  censorship  is  abolished, 
Censors  still  exist,  however,  under  another  name.  They  are 
now  called  Press  Inspectors,  and  Censorship  Committees  are 
known  as  Committees  for  the  Affairs  of  the  Press.  The 
Censorship  on  foreign  books  and  papers  is  maintained,  and 
English,  French,  and  German  papers  are  still  delivered  with 
whole  articles  or  illustrations  blacked  out,  though  this  occurs 
less  frequently  than  formerly,  and  the  measure  is  now,  as  a 
rule,  applied  only  to  articles  referring  to  the  Imperial  Family. 
But  the  permission  of  the  authorities  is  not  necessary,  as  it 
once  was,  in  order  to  begin  publishing  a  newspaper.  All 
that  is  requisite  is  to  make  a  formal  notification.  Separate 
numbers  of  newspapers  may  be  confiscated  on  the  order  of 


102  Russia  of  the  Russians 

the  Press  department,  but  the  grounds  of  confiscation  must 
be  investigated  by  a  court  of  law,  which  must  either  confirm 
the  confiscation  and  impose  a  penalty  on  the  editor  for  the 
offending  article,  or  must  acquit  the  editor  and  rescind  the  con- 
fiscation. That  is  to  say,  Press  offences  are  placed  in  a  line  with 
other  offences,  and  the  final  decision  in  regard  to  them  rests, 
theoretically,  not  with  the  censor  but  with  the  Law  Courts. 

Under  such  conditions  the  lot  of  the  Russian  journalist 
might  be  almost  a  happy  one  but  for  two  facts.    The  first 

is  that  the  Courts  have,  during  the  last  few 

Restrictions  on  years,  been  extremely  severe  in  their  treat- 

>  *   Press.     C    ment  °f  Press  offences.    For  articles,  words, 

or  phrases  that  displease  the  Administration, 
editors  are  prosecuted  under  certain  very  rigorous  para- 
graphs of  the  Criminal  Code,  conviction  under  which  in- 
volves long  terms  of  imprisonment  or  exile.  Hundreds  of 
Russian  journalists  have  served,  or  are  serving,  terms  of 
imprisonment  in  a  fortress  for  articles  that  could  only  by  a 
stretch  of  the  imagination  be  described  as  seditious.  The 
term  "  sedition  "  has  been  expanded  in  judicial  practice  so 
as  to  cover  any  expression  of  opinion  or  emotion  that  is  dis- 
tasteful to  the  Government  or  to  individual  representatives 
of  the  Administration.  The  Courts  are  constantly  occupied 
with  so-called  "  literary  cases."  When  the  more  urgent 
cases  had  been  disposed  of,  the  Press  Department  went  back 
to  1906  and  1905  and  prosecuted  unfortunate  journalists  for 
articles  that  had  long  since  been  forgotten  by  everyone  includ- 
ing the  authors  themselves.  This  class  of  cases  was,  fortunately, 
expunged  from  the  Court  lists  by  the  Amnesty,  promulgated  on 
the  occasion  of  the  Romanov  tercentenary  in  February,  1913. 

The  second  fact,  which  imposes  a  most  appreciable  re- 
striction on  the  liberty  of  the  Press,  is  the  existence  of  the 
exceptional  laws.  That  is  to  say,  since  the  dissolution  of 
the  second  Duma  a  very  large  portion  of  the  Empire  has 
"been  either  under  martial  law,  or  one  of  the  milder  forms  of 
the  state  of  siege — of  later  years  most  frequently  under  the 


The  Press  103 

form  known  as  the  state  of.  enforced  protection.  Under 
these  conditions  the  discretionary  power  of  administrative 
officials,  of  governors-general,  governors,  and  chiefs  of  police 
is  very  greatly  increased.  They  may  issue  what  are  known 
as  "  Obligatory  Regulations,"  and  severely  punish  by  fine, 
exile,  or  imprisonment  all  whom  they  regard  as  offenders 
against  these  regulations  Without  recourse  to  a  Court  of  Law. 
In  many  places  the  state  of  enforced  protection  is  still  main- 
tained, long  after  every  semblance  of  revolutionary  danger 
is  past,  with  the  sole  object  of  retaining  rigorous  administra- 
tive control  over  the  Press.  At  the  pleasure  of  prefects, 
governors,  and  chiefs  of  police,  editors  may  be  subjected  to 
severe  penalties,  and  the  very  publication  of  a  newspaper 
rendered  impossible.  The  practice  of  closing  or  suspending 
newspapers  has  been  to  a  great  extent  abandoned,  because 
it  was  discovered  that  such  measures  were  made  ineffective 
by  the  simple  expedient  of  continuing  to  publish  the  same 
paper  under  another  name.  In  consequence  *  of  repeated 
suspensions  during  1906  and  1907,  the  number  of  possible 
titles  of  Russian  newspapers  was  almost  exhausted,  so  that 
to  discover  a  title  for  a  new  paper  now  involves  a  heavy  tax 
on  originality.  The  Administration  has  found  a  much  more 
effective  method  of  control.  It  imposes  fines  which  gradu- 
ally wear  down  the  capital  of  a  newspaper  and  tend  to  make 
journalism  an  unprofitable  enterprise.  The  imprisonment 
of  the  editor  is  offered  as  an  alternative  to  a  fine,  and  the 
poorer  provincial  papers  frequently  prefer  this  form  of  penalty 
to  direct  financial  loss.  But  the  practice  of  imprisoning 
editors  has  again  led  to  a  curious  method  of  defence.  The 
person  who  is  liable  to  imprisonment  is  the  so-called 
"  responsible  editor,"  whose  name  appears  at  the  end  of  the 
paper.  For  this  reason,  as  a  rule,  the  actual  working  editor 
remains  in  the  background,  and  the  paper  is  signed  by  a 
person  specially  employed  for  the  purpose,  and  known  as  the 
"  sitting  editor."  A  Liberal  paper  that  commenced  publi- 
cation in  St.  Petersburg  in  1912  broke  with  the  custom,  the 

8 — ('4<k>) 


104  Russia  of  the  Russians 

actual  editor  came  into  the  open  and  signed  as  responsible 
editor.  One  night,  in  revising  the  proofs  of  an  article  attack- 
ing a  certain  police  official  named  Colonel  Halle,  he  struck 
out  the  name  Halle  as  a  precaution  against  possible  penal- 
ties. When  the  article  appeared,  the  Press  Department  took 
the  word  "  colonel  "  as  referring  to  a  more  exalted  personage, 
and  by  administrative  order  the  editor  was  sentenced  to 
three  months'  imprisonment  without  the  option  of  a  fine. 
The  proprietors  took  the  lesson  to  heart,  and  engaged  as 
responsible  editor  a  long-bearded,  impecunious  peasant 
at  a  salary  of  five  pounds  a  month  while  at  liberty,  and  half 
as  much  again  while  in  gaol. 

The  newspapers  in  the  capitals  maintain  a  fairly  tolerable 
existence  in  spite  of  occasional  fines  and  the  constant  prose- 
cution of  responsible  editors.  There  is  a  very  wide  range  of 
subjects  now  in  regard  to  which  free  discussion  is  entirely 
permissible,  and  the  fact  that  the  whole  extent  of  Imperial 
Policy  is  publicly  discussed  in  the  Duma  makes  it  impossible 
to  carry  restrictions  on  the  metropolitan  Press  to  an  extreme. 
The  case  of  the  provincial  Press  is  infinitely  worse.  In  the 
small  provincial  towns  where  the  officials  have  little  to  do, 
everybody  knows  everybody,  and  there  are  all  kinds  of  petty 
intrigues  and  personal  accounts  to  settle,  journalists  are  wholly 
at  the  mercy  of  governors  and  other  officials  armed  with  dis- 
cretionary powers.  The  treatment  of  the  provincial  Press 
supplies  an  inexhaustible  fund  of  curious  anecdotes.  One 
day,  in  1906,  the  Viaisky  Krai,  in  Viatka,  failed  to  appear, 
because  the  governor  had  expelled  from  the  town  every 
member  of  the  staff.  A  newspaper  in  Kherson  was  fined 
for  publishing  a  telegram  of  the  official  Telegraph  Agency 
reporting  a  speech  of  Sir  Francis  Younghusband's  on  Tibetan 
affairs.  A  governor  of  Tambov,  M.  Muratov,  drew  up  a  list 
of  newspapers  under  three  heads,  "  desirable,"  "  undesirable," 
and  "  absolutely  intolerable,"  and  closed  public  libraries  and 
dismissed  elementary  school  teachers  who  subscribed  to  organs 
of  the  latter  two  categories.    Printing  works  are  frequently 


The  Press  105 

closed  so  as  to*  prevent  the  publication  of  a  newspaper.  The 
only  printing  works  in  the  town  of  Kozlov,  for  instance, 
were  closed  three  times  so  as  to  make  it  impossible  to  publish 
a  little  paper  called  the  Kozlovskaia  Gazeta.  To  evade  such 
measures  several  papers  intended  for  the  town  of  Kaluga 
were  printed  in  Moscow,  which  is  only  a  few  hours  distant. 
The  Administration  constantly  prohibits  reference  to  certain 
facts  in  the  Press.  It  has  been  forbidden,  for  instance,  at 
various  times  and  in  various  places,  to  refer  to  the  dissolution 
of  the  Duma,  to  the  funeral  of  the  Speaker  of  the  First  Duma, 
Muromtsev,  and  the  funeral  of  Tolstoy,  to  the  fanatical  monk, 
Iliodor,  or  to  the  notorious  agent  provocateur,  Azev.  All 
these  subjects  might  be  regarded  as  political,  but  reference 
has  also  been  frequently  prohibited  to  events  of  an  entirely  , 
non-political  character.  The  papers  of  one  town  were  for-  ^ 
bidden  to  refer  to  a  woman  who  had  thrown  sulphuric  acid 
in  the  face  of  a  priest,  other  papers  were  forbidden  to  touch 
on  the  behaviour  of  the  teachers  in  the  local  high  school, 
while  the  papers  of  a  town  in  the  Northern  Caucasus  were 
not  permitted  to  mention  the  bad  acting  of  an  artiste  with 
whom  the  local  chief  of  police  was  on  friendly  terms.  Papers 
are  occasionally  fined  fgr  printing  reports  of  Panslavist  meet- 
ings, for  misprints,  and  even  for  publishing  shorthand  reports  S 
of  debates  in  the  Duma.  The  total  of  fines  imposed  on  the 
Press  in  1912  was  100,000  roubles  (£10,000).  The  editor  of 
a  paper  named  Yug  declared  he  was  ill,  whereupon  the  local 
governor  suspended  fiis  paper  on  the  ground  that  a  sick  man 
could  not  edit  a  newspaper.  Many  provincial  editors  have 
been  so  harassed  by  the  authorities  that  they  have  in  despair 
offered  to  submit  their  papers  to  a  preventive  censorship. 
A  paper  called  the  Yuzhnia  Viedomosti,  published  in  the 
Crimea,  was  confiscated  seventy  times,  but  the  editor  was 
only  prosecuted  three  times.  And  similar  instances  of  the 
arbitrary  attitude  of  the  Administration  to  journalists  might 
be  multiplied  endlessly. 

The  remarkable  thing  is,  that  in  spite  of  the  abuses  that 


106  Russia  of  the  Russians 

are  inseparable  from  the  present  system,  the  Russian  Press, 
especially  in  the  provinces,  is  steadily  developing ;  the 
number  of  organs  is  increasing,  and  on  the  whole  their  quality 
is  improving.  People  live  and  grow  in  spite  of  politics. 
There  is  a  fairly  wide  neutral  sphere  which  lies  outside  the 
range  of  the  most  acrimonious  political  dispute.  Russia  is 
an  immense  Empire.  There  are  governors  and  governors, 
and,  if  in  one  town,  the  chief  of  police  persecutes  the  editor 
of  the  Opposition  journal,  in  another  town  he  plays  cards 
with  him.  And  many  editors  have  grown  wise  in  this  their 
troubled  generation,  and  have  learned  to  avoid  possible  pit- 
falls. Journalists  suffer  far  more  from  administrative  penal- 
ties than  they  did  in  the  days  of  preventive  censorship.  But 
over  against  this  must  be  set  the  fact  that  there  are  far  more 
newspapers  than  there  were,  and  that  the  number  of  journal- 
ists has  greatly  increased.  And  in  spite  of  all  restrictions 
the  Press  is  now  actually  in  a  position  to  express,  however 
imperfectly,  to  guide,  and  to  educate  public  opinion. 

The  Russian  Press  falls  into  two  very  distinct  categories, 
the  Press  of  the  capitals,  and  the  provincial  journals.     In  a 

highly  centralised  country  like  Russia  the 

The   Press   in  metropolitan    press    naturally    occupies,    as 

t«li<PwSoSd  compared  with  that  of  the  provinces,  a  posi- 

tion  of  commanding  importance.  It  has 
more  direct  access  to  the  sources  of  political  information,  and 
is,  moreover,  less  subject  than  the  provincial  press  to 
harassing  restrictions.  The  big  St.  Petersburg  and  Moscow 
papers  circulate  widely  in  the  provinces,  and  frequently  the. 
local  organs  serve  merely  as  a  stop-gap  to  curiosity  until  the 
mail  brings  the  big  papers  with  all  the  news  of  the  political 
centres.  But  of  late  years  the  provincial  press  has  grown  in 
importance,  and  there  are  some  papers,  like  the  Kievskaia 
Mysl  (Kiev  Thought),  which  are  so  well  supplied  by 
telegraph  and  telephone  with  the  latest  political  news,  and 
have  such  a  wide  circulation  that  they  need  fear  no  longer  the 
competition    of    St.    Petersburg    and    Moscow   organs.     In 


The  Press  107 

remote  towns,  too,  like  Baku,  Tomsk,  or  Vladivostok,  which 
receive  the  papers  from  the  capitals  many  days  after  publi- 
cation, the  local  press  naturally  plays  a  much  more  impor- 
tant part  than,  for  instance,  in  towns  like  Yaroslavl  or  Riazan, 
which  get  the  Moscow  papers  on  the  afternoon  of  the  day  of 
issue.  In  respect  of  provincial  circulation  there  is  a  certain 
rivalry  between  St.  Petersburg  and  Moscow.  The  St.  Peters- 
burg papers  have  the  advantage  of  proximity  to  the  Ministries 
and  to  the  Duma,  'and  for  that  reason  their  political  news 
is  a  little  more  authoritative  than  that  of  the  Moscow  Press. 
But  the  Moscow  papers  get  nearly  all  the  important  news  by 
telephone  in  time  for  publication  simultaneously  with  the 
St.  Petersburg  papers.  The  reports  of  Duma  sittings  and 
lobby  gossip  are  regularly  telephoned,  so  that  the  advan- 
tages of  the  St.  Petersburg  papers  in  this  respect  are  almost 
imponderable,  and  are  a  matter  rather  of  atmosphere  and 
direct  personal  contact  between  journalists,  deputies,  and 
officials.  And  what  St.  Petersburg,  as  a  journalistic  centre, 
gains  politically  she  loses  geographically.  Moscow,  in  virtue 
of  her  more  central  position,  commands  the  communications 
with  Eastern  and  Southern  Russia,  which  the  St.  Petersburg 
papers  reach  a  day  later  than  those  of  the  ancient  capital. 
The  St.  Petersburg  Press  has  direct  access  only  to  the  more 
thinly  populated  Western  and  Northern  region.  Thus,  the 
most  widely-circulated  paper  in  Russia  is  the  Russkoe  Slovo, 
a  Moscow  organ  of  the  Daily  Telegraph  type,  which  is  well 
supplied  with  the  latest  news  by  telegraph  and  telephone, 
but  politically  enjoys  less  authority  than  many  other  papers 
with  a  much  more  limited  circulation. 

The  best  known  of  the  St.  Petersburg  papers  is  the  Novoe 
Vremia  (New  Time),  founded  in   1877  by  Alexis  Suvorin. 

The    distinguishing    feature    of    the    Novoe 
^VremU^      Vremia  is  its  opportunism.     It  attacks  indi- 
vidual ministers  and  even  certain  cliques  or 
groups  within  the  Government.    But  its  criticism  is  not  that 
of  an  outsider,  but  of  a  representative  of  the  governing  party. 


108  Russia  of  the  Russians 

The  Novoe  Vremia  is  not  an  official  paper,  the  views  it  ex- 
presses do  not  by  any  means  always  represent  the  views 
held  by  the  Government  at  a  given  moment.  They  rather 
represent  a  shrewd  compromise  between  official  views  and 
public  opinion.  There  are  certain  organs  that  are  confessedly 
reactionary,  that  demand  a  complete  return  to  the  autocracy. 
The  Novoe  Vremia  is  not  one  of  these.  It  stands  for  repre- 
sentative institutions,  it  stands  for  the  existing  system.  If 
a  Liberal  government  were  to  come  into  power  to-morrow, 
the  Novoe  Vremia  would  probably  be  a  Liberal  organ.  It 
owes  its  material  success  to  the  extraordinary  skill  with 
which  its  late  proprietor — M.  Suvorin  died  in  1912 — com- 
bined a  good  news  service  with  a  system  of  playing  off  one 
bureaucratic  tendency  against  another,  so  as  to  give  the  im- 
pression of  a  movement  of  public  opinion.  Every  influential 
chinovnik,  or  government  official,  is,  in  his  heart  of  hearts, 
a  critic,  and  very  frequently  a  cynic.  He  criticises  the  way 
things  are  done,  criticises  his  superiors,  criticises  the  whole 
administrative  system,  is  constantly  murmuring  or  com- 
plaining. He  murmurs  but  he  conforms,  he  does  not 
revolt  against  the  system.  When  the  Novoe  Vremia  criti- 
cises, it  as  often  as  not  expresses  the  views  of  influential 
chinovniks.  And  from  time  to  time  it  clears  itself  of  all 
suspicion  of  heretical  Opposition  views  by  vehement  attacks 
on  Opposition  parties  and  an  ardent  defence  of  Government 
policy. 

But  at  the  same  time  the  Novoe  Vremia  carefully  takes 
into  account  the  prevailing  tendency  of  public  opinion.  It 
was  during  the  Russo-Turkish  war  when  a  strcmg  body  of 
Russian  public  opinion  enthusiastically  supported  the  Govern- 
ment's Balkan  policy  that  M.  Suvorin  founded  his  organ, 
and  it  was  on  the  summit  of  this  wave  of  national  enthusiasm 
that  the  journal  first  came  into  prominence.  Since  that  time 
the  Novoe  Vremia  has  pursued  a  Nationalist  and  Pan-Slavist 
policy,  carefully  adapting  its  expression  to  the  shade  assumed 
by  official  Nationalism  at  every  given  moment.    After  the 


The  Press  109 

Russo-Turkish  war  official  Nationalism  sharply  separated 
itself  from  that  generous  enthusiasm  for  the  liberation  of 
kindred  peoples  which  was  the  mainspring  of  public  interest 
in  the  war,  and  became  almost  exclusively  synonymous  with 
the  oppression  of  subject  peoples  within  the  Russian  Empire. 
The  Novoe  Vretnia  identified  itself  with  the  official  policy, 
and  during  the  reaction  of  the  eighties  and  nineties,  when 
public  opinion  was  almost  suppressed  out  of  existence, 
Suvorin  remained  within  the  safe  shelter  of  conformity,  and 
devoted  his  attention  to  the  development  of  a  good  news 
service.  During  the  period  of  unrest  which  followed  on  the 
outbreak  of  the  war  with  Japan,  the  Novoe  Vremia  closely 
followed  the  movement  of  public  opinion,  was  liberal  at  a 
moment  when  Liberalism  seemed  to  have  invaded  the  higher 
ranks  of  the  bureaucracy,  and  in  the  early  days  of  the  First 
Duma  even  ventured  to  publish  a  few  articles  in  praise  of  the 
Constitutional  Democrats,  only  to  attack  them  the  more 
violently  when  it  became  clear  that  they  had  failed. 

The  late  M.  Suvorin,  the  founder  of  the  Novoe  Vremia,  and 
until  a  few  years  ago  its  sole  proprietor,  was  of  peasant  origin, 
and  had  a  peasant's  shrewdness,  a  peasant's  freedom  from 
doctrinaire  prepossessions.  He  was  a  cool  observer,  a  sceptic, 
a  talented  and  witty  writer  with  an  eye  for  talent  in  others, 
and  a  man  of  strong  temperament,  with  a  vigorous,  instinc- 
tive attachment  to  Russia  and  things  Russian,  so  that  he 
was  frequently  able  to  impart  to  his  Nationalist  policy  a  tone 
of  personal  conviction.  He  gathered  round  him  a  group  of 
clever  writers,  paid  them  well,  and  constantly  gave  the 
closest  attention  to  details  of  organisation,  making  the  Novoe 
Vremia  unrivalled  in  Russia  from  the  point  of  view  of  news- 
paper technique.  He  was  a  connoisseur  of  the  theatre,  and 
founded  a  theatre  of  his  own  in  St.  Petersburg.  Suvorin's 
character  was  made  up  of  curiously  contradictory  elements  ; 
he  was  a  hard  man  of  business  and  very  generous  in  private 
life  ;  loyal  in  his  friendships  and  shrewdly  unscrupulous  in  his 
politics ;  a  genuine  admirer  of  the  arts  and  letters,   but 


110  Russia  of  the  Russians 

capable  from  commercial,  personal,  or  political  motives,  of 
substituting  false  values  for  true  in  art. 

The  most  widely-known  of  the  contributors  to  the  Novoe 
Vremia  is  M.  Menshikov,  a  journalist  of  amazing  produc- 
tivity. Fifteen  years  ago  he  published  a  weekly  in  which  he 
advocated  an  almost  undiluted  Tolstoyism.  M.  Menshikov 
parades  his  inconsistency,  and  his  articles  are  the  most  per- 
fect expression  of  the  opportunist  policy  of  the  Novoe  Vremia. 
The  very  length  of  the  articles  seems  to  increase  their  author- 
ity amongst  officials,  and  their  contemptuous  fluency,  their 
nonchalant  word-play,  the  ceaseless  shimmering  of  their  facile 
generalisations,  their  insinuations  and  their  flattery,  are  all 
factors  in  M.  Menshikov's  reputation  as  a  publicist. 

A  journalist  of  a  very  different  type  is  M.  Vasili  Rozanov, 
also  a  contributor  to  the  Novoe  Vremia.  M.  Rozanov  is  a 
man  of  very  great  and  original  talent  with  a  curious,  almost 
pagan,  capacity  for  observing  the  movement  of  elemental 
processes,  for  noting  the  workings  of  nature  in  things  human. 
There  is  a  great  deal  in  his  writing  that  is  suggestive  of  Tol- 
stoy, and  much  more  that  is  suggestive  of  Dostoievsky,  and 
the  originality,  the  unexpectedness  of  his  point  of  view  startles 
and  charms,  but  now  more  and  more  frequently  repels. 
M.  Rozanov  has  a  quaint,  sly  humour,  and  is  the  enemy  of  the 
doctrinaire  habit  of  mind.  His  favourite  themes  are  marriage, 
the  family,  and  the  Church.  Consistency  he  does  not  even 
pretend  to  observe.  He  is  a  Russian  to  the  core,  and  his 
talent  largely  consists  in  the  boldness  with  which  he  expresses 
a  peculiarly  Russian,  realistic  outlook. 
\^  The  oldest  and  most  authoritative  of  the  Liberal  organs 
is  the  Moscow  Russkia  Viedomosti  (Russian  News),  which 

was  founded  fifty  years  ago,  that  is  to  say, 

T*!?  "  RussJ?S    at  the  time  when  Alexander  II  was  emanci- 
pating the  serfs  and  carrying  into  execution 
his  other  great  reforms.    The  Russkia  Viedomosti  has  through- 
out these  fifty  years  maintained  the  Liberal  traditions  of  that 
epoch  with  a  remarkable  consistency  that  never  faltered  even 


The  Press  111 

in  the  darkest  moments  of  reaction.  There  is  a  type  of  mind 
known  as  that  of  "  a  Liberal  of  the  sixties,"  broadly  humani- 
tarian, rather  cosmopolitan  than  assertively  Russian;  just, 
moderate,  dignified,  and  full  of  a  deep  compassion  with  a 
fine  loyalty  to  abstract  principle,  and  an  unflinching  devotion 
to  a  clear,  unclouded  ideal  of  liberty.  Of  this  type  of  mind 
the  Russkia  Viedomosti  is  the  best  representative  in  the  world 
of  journalism.  Its  reputation  is  unsullied.  It  stands  guard 
over  tKe  public  conscience.  It  is  sometimes  dry,  but  it  is  never 
vulgar.  By  its  moderation  and  fairness  it  frequently  incurs 
the  contempt  of  violent  partisans,  but  it  has  never  pandered 
to  any  of  the  powers  that  be.  In  1898  it  was  suspended  for 
two  months,  and  afterwards  subjected  to  a  special  form  of 
preventive  censorship. 

The  Russkia  Viedomosti  has  always  been  in  close  touch 
with  Moscow  University.  Its  former  editors,  MM.  Sobolievski, 
Chuprov,  Posnikov,  and  Anuchin  were  professors,  and  other 
professors  frequently  wrote  leading  articles  or  contributed 
special  articles  of  various  kinds.  At  present  the  principal 
members  of  the  editorial  staff  are  Professors  Kiesewetter  and 
Kokoshkin.  The  Russkia  Viedomosti  is  famed  for  the  accuracy 
of  its  news.  In  the  pre-constitutional  period  its  foreign  cor- 
respondents, more  especially  Iollos  in  Berlin,  and  Dioneo  in 
London,  imparted  constitutional  lessons  in  a  veiled  form  by 
emphasising  those  features  of  European  life  that  most  vividly  y 
illustrated  the  benefits  of  civil  liberty.  In  1905  the  Russkia 
Viedomosti  played  an  important  part  in  connection  with  the 
Constitutional  movement  that  found  expression  in  the 
Zemstvo  Congress,  and  it  was  the  first  Russian  organ  to 
publish  a  project  for  a  Constitution.  For  the  last  few  years 
the  journal  has  supported  the  Constitutional  Democratic 
Party  in  the  main,  but  it  retains  an  independent  position, 
and  cannot  in  any  sense  be  regarded  as  the  official  organ  of 
the  party. 

The  official  organ  of  the  Constitutional  Democratic  Party, 
or  rather  the  organ  of  its  leader,  M.  Miliukov,  is  the  Riech, 


112  Russia  of  the  Russians 

published  in  St.  Petersburg.    The  Riech  was  founded  in  1908, 
shortly  before  the  opening  of  the  First  Duma,  and  has  gained 

a  position  of  authority  by  virtue  of  its  connec- 

The  "  Riech  •  •   tion  with  the  strongest  and  most  influential 

Journals^       of  the  Opposition  parties.     It  is  published  by 

two  prominent  members  of  the  First  Duma, 
the  Zemstvo  leader,  M.  Petrunkevich,  and  M.  Nabokov. 
The  working  editor  i9  M.  Joseph  Hessen,  while  the  policy 
of  the  paper  is  determined  almost  exclusively  by  M.  Miliukov, 
who  writes  the  majority  of  the  leading  articles  on  political 
questions.  M.  Miliukov  is  one  of  the  few  publicists  in  Russia 
who  have  a  considerable  knowledge  of  international  politics, 
and  his  articles  on  the  Near  East,  of  which  he  has  a  first-hand 
knowledge,  are  of  special  interest. 

The  Moscow  Russkoe  Slove,  the  most  widely-circulated  paper 
in  Russia,  has  already  been  mentioned.  It  was  founded  in 
1900  by  a  printer  and  publisher  named  Sytin,  and  gained 
popularity  during  the  Russo-Japanese  war  mainly  on  account 
of  the  telegrams  of  M.  Nemirovich-Danchenko,  a  veteran 
war-correspondent  and  novelist,  who  made  his  name  during 
the  Russo-Turkish  war,  and  again  acted  as  special  corre- 
spondent of  the  Russkoe  Slove  during  the  war  of  the  Balkan 
Allies  with  Turkey.  Another  contributor  who  has  largely 
helped  to  increase  the  circulation  of  the  Russkoe  Slovo  is  M. 
Vlas  Doroshevich,  the  author  of  witty  feuilletons  written  in 
the  form  of  short  sentences,  each  of  which  is  a  paragraph  in 
itself,  the  effect  being  that  of  a  series  of  pistol  shots.  The 
Russkoe  Slovo  makes  a  speciality  of  feuilletons,  articles  of  a 
light,  descriptive,  or  pictorial  character,  and  many  prominent 
Russian  writers  contribute  from  time  to  time  articles  of  this 
kind.  The  journal  spends  large  sums  on  telegrams  from  the 
provinces  and  abroad.  The  Russkoe  Slovo  is  a  non-party 
paper,  but  its  general  policy  is  one  of  Opposition  to  the 
Government  in  conformity  with  the  prevailing  tendency  of 
public  opinion. 
The    Birzhevia  j  Viedomosti    (Bourse    Gazette)    is    a    St. 


The  Press  113 

Petersburg  newspaper  that  resembles  the  Russkoe  Slovo  in 
many  respects.  It  is  non-party,  opposed  to  the  Govern- 
ment, sensational  and  gossipy.  Its  provincial  edition  is 
widely  read  by  country  priests  and  village  school 
teachers. 

During  the  last  two  years  two  tiny  Social  Democratic 
papers,  the  Pravda  and  the  Luch  have  been  permitted  to 
appear  in  St.  Petersburg,  though  they  have  been  confiscated 
almost  daily,  and  their  editors  fined  and  imprisoned  with 
monotonous  reiteration. 

The  Golos  Moskvy  (Voice  of  Moscow),  founded  by  M. 
Guchkov,  was  for  some  years  the  organ  of  the  Octobrist 
Party.  In  so  far  as  the  party  has  an  organ  now,  the  Novoe 
Vremia  must  be  regarded  as  such. 

Since  1906  the  Government  has  published  an  official  daily 
under  the  name  of  the  Rossia.  The  organ  of  the  Ministry  of 
Finance,  The  Commercial  and  Industrial  Gazette,  is  valued  by 
business  men  for  its  wealth  of  news. 

A  peculiar  position  is  occupied  in  Russia  by  the  so-called 
Right,  or  Reactionary  Press.  In  the  pre-con9titutional 
period  there  were  practically  three  organs  of  the  type,  which 
on  principle  upheld  the  autocracy.  One  was  the  Moskovskia 
Viedomosti,  an  old-established  organ  which  subsists  on 
Treasury  advertisements,  and  acquired  importance  in  the 
sixties  under  the  editorship  of  Katkov,  who  was  the  leading 
spokesman  of  the  policy  of  oppressing  the  subject  nationali- 
ties, and  the  chief  interpreter  of  that  later  school  of  Slavophil 
thought  which  identified  support  of  the  Autocracy,  the  Ortho- 
dox faith  and  the  Russian  Nationality  with  the  harshest 
manifestations  of  the  bureaucratic .  system.  Katkov  was  a 
talented  writer,  and,  for  all  his  reactionary  tendencies,  he 
frequently  revealed  glimpses  of  certain  broader  aspects  of 
Imperial  policy  which  even  a  reactionary  bureaucracy  was 
compelled  to  take  into  account.  His  successor,  Gringmuth, 
a  Lutheran  who  went  over  to  the  Orthodox  Church,  was  a 
typical  "  carrieriste,"  and  pursued  Katkov's  policy  without 


114  Russia  of  the  Russians 

his  talent.  Under  the  editorship  of  M.  Lev  Tikhomirov4 
a  one-time  revolutionary  and  terrorist,  who  assumed  con- 
trol of  the  paper  after  Gringmuth's  death  a  few  years 
ago,  the  Moskovskia  Viedomosti  has  sunk  into  complete 
obscurity. 

The  second  old-established  organ  of  the  Right  is  the  Grazh- 
danin  (The  Citizen),  a  weekly  published  in  St.  Petersburg 
by  Prince  Meshchersky.  The  Grazhdanin  was  founded  in 
1872,  and  among  its  editors  during  the  early  years  of  its 
existence  was  the  novelist  Dostoievsky,  who  published  in  it 
week  by  week  "  A  Writer's  Diary."  At  first  the  general  tone 
of  the  journal  was  that  of  a  moderate  Conservatism,  but 
towards  the  end  of  the  century  it  became  markedly  and 
aggressively  reactionary.  Since  the  promulgation  of  the 
Constitution,  Prince  Meshchersky  has  maintained  in  principle 
his  reactionary  standpoint,  but  under  the  cover  of  his  defence 
of  the  autocracy  he  has  permitted  himself  an  undisturbed 
liberty  of  criticism  of  the  Government's  policy  which  is  denied 
to  more  progressive  journalists.  The  Liberal  journals,  in 
fact,  frequently  quote  from  Prince  Meshchersky 's  organ  strong 
remarks  about  the  Government,  which  would  involve  fines 
or  imprisonment  if  their  author  were  a  declared  Constitu- 
tionalist. Prince  Meshchersky  is  an  able  and  witty  writer, 
and  a  keen  observer,  and  retains  in  old  age  a  remarkable 
freshness. 

The  third  of  the  Right  organs  dating  from  the  pre-consti- 
tutional  period  is  the  little  St.  Petersburg  daily  Sviet,  founded 
by  a  retired  officer,  Komarov,  and  circulating  chiefly  among 
petty  tradesmen.  The  Sviet  subsists  on  a  few  simple  re- 
actionary ideas  which  it  expresses  in  plain,  and  at  times, 
boisterous  language.  Its  style  is  more  moderate,  however, 
than  that  of  the  Right  organs  of  the  post-constitutional 
period. 

Of  these  organs,  the  most  striking  characteristic  of  which 
is  a  remarkable  virulence  of  language,  the  most  prominent 
is  the  Russkoe  Znamia  (Russian  Banner).    There  is  no  paper 


The  Press  115 

quite  like  the  Russkoe  Znamia  anywhere.  Its  subject-matter 
consists  of  unbridled  abuse  of  Jews,  revolutionaries,  Liberals, 
constitutionalists  of  all  shades  including  Octobrists,  of  Poles 
and  other  non-Russian  nationalities  in  the  Empire,  of  Young 
Turks  and  Englishmen,  varied  with  hysterical  cheers  for 
Throne  and  Altar,  violent  attacks  on  individual  Ministers, 
or  at  times  on  the  whole  Cabinet,  threats  of  physical  violence 
against  certain  individuals  or  groups.  The  Russkoe  Znamia 
is,  in  fact,  the  organ  of  that  "  Union  of  the  Russian  people  " 
which  played  such  a  prominent  part  in  the  pogroms  or  anti- 
Semitic  riots  and  massacres  of  a  few  years  ago.  It  is  char- 
acteristic of  the  spirit  of  the  times  that  a  journal  of  this  kind 
enjoys  complete  liberty  of  abuse,  and  is  only  very  rarely 
fined,  while  the  Progressive  Press  is  subjected  to  the  severest 
restraint.  The  odd  thing  is,  that  enjoying  practical  immunity 
in  virtue  of  their  clamorous  defence  of  the  autocracy,  organs 
of  the  Russkoe  Znamia  type  frequently  adopt  an  almost 
revolutionary  tone,  vehemently  attack  the  bureaucracy  and 
proclaim  a  revolt  against  the  Holy  Synod.  During  the  last 
two  years  the  protection  accorded  to  the  Reactionary  Unions 
and  their  organs  has  been  to  some  extent  withdrawn,  and 
they  have  been  compelled  to  moderate  their  tone.  All  three, 
the  Russkoe  Znamia,  the  Kolokol  (The  Bell),  a  clerical  organ, 
and  the  Zemshchina  (The  Voice  of  the  Nation),  the  organ 
of  the  deputy  Purishkevich,  are  valueless  as  purveyors  of 
news,  are  devoid  of  talent,  and  owe  whatever  influence  they 
possess  to  the  support  of  certain  powerful  circles. 

Newspapers  are  published  in  the  Russian  Empire  in  a  great 
variety  of  languages  besides  Russian,  in  German,  for  instance, 
French,  Finnish,  Swedish,  Polish,  Lettish,  Lithuanian, 
Esthonian,  Hebrew,  Yiddish,  Little  Russian,  White  Russian, 
Tartar,  Kirghiz,  Armenian,  Georgian,  Persian,  and  Yakut 
(in  Eastern  Siberia).  This  non-Russian  Press  presents  many 
interesting  features,  but  a  detailed  description  of  it  would 
be  more  in  place  in  an  account  of  the  various  nationalities 
it  represents  than  in  a  work  like  the  present. 


116  Russia  of  tne  Russians 

Apart  from  administrative  restrictions  the  Russian  jour- 
nalist works  very  much  under  the  same  conditions  as  his 
confrere  in  Western  Europe.  There  are  certain  peculiarities 
in  the  arrangements  of  Russian  papers  which  strike  the 
English  eye.  Articles  are  more  frequently  signed  than  not. 
The  names  of  the  most  prominent  journalists  are  conse- 
quently familiar  to  the  public,  and  the  personal  element  plays 
a  great  part  in  journalism.  Nearly  all  newspapers  publish 
from  time  to  time — especially  towards  the  end  of  the  year, 
when  subscriptions  for  the  coming  year  are  looked  for — 
lists  of  their  contributors,  or  lists  of  "  collaborators,"  as  the 
members  of  the  editorial  staff  and  contributors  are  usually 
called.  Many  of  the  so-called  "  collaborators "  are  well- 
known  professors  or  literary  or  public  men  who  rarely  write 
in  the  journal  in  question,  but  are  content  to  let  their  names 
add  lustre  to  the  list.  When  a  collaborator  is  offended  or 
dissatisfied  with  an  article  that  has  appeared  in  the  paper 
or  with  some  development  in  the  paper's  policy,  he  as  often 
as  not  retires,  and  does  so  by  publicly  withdrawing  his  name 
from  the  list  of  collaborators.  Sometimes  a  whole  group 
of  collaborators  retires  at  once,  and  then  they  publish  a  letter 
in  the  journal  from  which  they  have  retired,  or  in  a  rival 
journal,  explaining  the  grounds  for  their  resignation. 
Another  feature  that  is  strange  to  English  newspaper  readers 
is  the  "  Review  of  the  Press,"  which  most  journals  publish 
daily,  and  which  consists  of  short  extracts  from  articles  in 
other  papers,  accompanied  with  comments,  more  often  caustic 
than  laudatory.  This  constant  bandying  of  compliments  is 
in  striking  contrast  with  that  English  habit  of  resolutely 
ignoring  the  existence  of  every  other  paper  but  your 
own,  which  was  so  rigidly  maintained  until  within  recent 
years. 

The  regular  staff  of  a  Russian  paper  usually  consists  of  an 
editor,  an  assistant-editor,  a  "  responsible  "  or  sitting  editor, 
engaged  specially  in  view  of  possible  exigencies  of  prison 
service,  a  foreign  editor  with  one  or  more  assistants,  an  editor 


The  Press  117 

of  the  provincial  department  also  with  one  or  more  assistants, 
a  "  manager  of  the  chronicle/'  or  news  editor  with  an  army  of 
reporters,  a  dramatic  critic  with  assistants,  an  art  critic,  a 
music  critic,  and  an  editor  of  the  literary  department,  all  with 
more  or  fewer  assistants,  as  the  case  may  be.  In  addition,  the 
big  papers  have  foreign  correspondents,  and  also  correspond- 
ents in  most  of  the  provincial  towns.  Few  Russian  papers  pay 
such  attention  to  their  foreign  department  as  do  the  big 
English  papers.  The  place  of  city  editor  is  filled  by  the 
"  editor  of  the  economic  department."  There  are  "  night 
editors,"  too,  or  "  issuers,"  who  read  proofs,  and,  together 
with  the  printer,  make  up  the  paper.  And  then  there  are 
the  regular  contributors,  of  whom  some  have  functions 
hardly  distinguishable  from  those  of  English  leader-writers, 
that  is,  they  must  be  prepared  to  write  at  any  moment  on 
subjects  of  which  they  are  supposed  to  have  expert  know- 
ledge— while  others  are  feuilletonists,  whose  duty  it  is  to 
write  witty  or  amusing  articles  on  literary  subjects  or  on 
occurrences  in  real  life,  on  anything  in  fact,  or  nothing  at  all, 
so  long  as  the  result  is  interesting  or  amusing.  Journalists 
are  of  all  ranks  and  classes,  peasants,  Cossacks,  country 
gentlemen,  retired  officers,  officials,  professors,  students, 
artists,  and  novelists. 

There  is  a  considerable  number  of  women  journalists, 
some  of  whom  are  feuilletonists,  others  are  reporters,  while 
occasionally  women  occupy  the  editor's  chair.  During  the 
short  period  when  the  Press  enjoyed  comparative  liberty 
and  newspapers  sprang  up  in  abundance,  there  was  a  stam- 
pede into  the  ranks  of  journalism,  and  one  humorist  re- 
marked at  the  time  that  the  bulk  of  the  so-called  journalists 
were  dentists,  chemists'  assistants,  and  retired  tailors.  The 
reaction  dealt  hardly  with  this  army  of  writers,  and  most  of 
the  journalists  who  are  now  active  are,  or  have  become, 
professionals.  Jews  play  a  conspicuous  part  in  journalism 
in  Russia,  as  in  other  continental  countries.  The  bulk 
of      the      reporting     is     in     their      hands,     and     many 


118  Russia  of  the  Russians 

editors,  leader-writers,  and  feuilletonists  are  of  Jewish 
extraction.  " "  * 

-  hi'  the  capitals  journalists  are,  on  the  whole,  well  paid. 
The  average  price  for  an  article  is  ten  kopeks  (2Jd.)  a  line, 
and  sometimes  fifteen  or  twenty  kopeks  are  paid,  in  excep- 
tional cases  twenty-five,  while  well-known  and  productive 
feuilletonists  may  receive  even  fifty  kopeks  (over  a  shilling) 
per  line  in  addition  to  a  large  salary.  A  popular  feuilletonist 
earns  from  a  thousand  to  four  thousand  a  year.  Energetic 
reporters  earn  large  sums,  especially  if,  as  they  often  do, 
they  sell  their  news  to  several  papers  at  the  same  time,  and 
know  how  to  take  advantage  of  the  reporters'  syndicates, 
which  serve  for  the  interchange  of  news  among  their 
members. 

The  number  of  illustrated  weeklies  in  Russia  is  small  in 
comparison  with  those  of  England,  France,  and  Germany. 
Such  papers  as  the  Novoe  Vretnia,  and  the  Russkoe  Slavo, 
publish  weekly  illustrated  supplements,  and  their  example 
has  been  followed  by  some  of  the  provincial  organs.  Most 
of  the  newspapers  in  the  capitals  from  time  to  time  print 
photographs  illustrating  the  events  of  the  day,  and  there 
seems  to  be  a  growing  demand  for  caricatures.  An  illus- 
trated weekly  of  long  standing  called  the  Niva  has  a  wide 
circulation.  Its  illustrations  are  old-fashioned,  but  it  fre- 
quently publishes  fiction  by  the  best  Russian  authors.  Tol- 
stoy's Resurrection,  for  instance,  was  first  published  in  this 
journal.  And  the  Niva  has  done  great  service  in  issuing 
gratis  to  its  subscribers  complete  editions  of  the  Russian 
classics,  and  of  the  works  of  modern  authors  whose  copyright 
has  not  yet  expired. 

Comic  papers  had  a  vogue  in  Russia  during  the  months 
immediately  following  on  the  proclamation  of  the  Constitu- 
tion. These  papers  were  devoted  almost  exclusively  to 
political  satire,  and  contained  bitter,  grotesque,  violent,  and 
extraordinarily  witty  attacks  on  representatives  of  the  old 
regime.    The  Russian  has  a  strong  sense  of  humour,  and  the 


i 


The  Press  119 

conversation  of  merchants,  workmen,  and  peasants  is  full 
of  witty  sayings.  Comic  papers  ought  to  flourish.  But  the 
political  reaction  seems  to  have  made  such  papers  not  only 
physically  but  psychologically  impossible.  The  organs  of 
political  satire  were  suppressed,  and  most  of  their  editors 
imprisoned  or  banished  in  the  course  of  1906  and  1907.  And 
since  then  comic  papers  have  almost  ceased  to  exist.  The 
only  journals  of  the  type  that  are  published  rarely  dare 
venture  into  the  field  of  politics,  and  are,  as  a  rule,  simply 
dull,  when  they  are  not  vulgar. 

Monthly  magazines  are  plentiful,  and  occupy  a  very  im- 
portant position  in  Russian  public  life.     In  the  pre-consti- 

tutional  period  they  exerted  a  very  appreci- 
The  Monthlies,  able    educative    influence.    The    censorship 

was  far  more  lenient  with  the  monthlies 
than  with  the  dailies,  just  as  it  dealt  more  gently  with  big  and 
dear  books  than  with  little  books  that  everyone  might  buy. 
And  in  the  monthlies  it  was  possible  by  a  judicious  choice  of 
phrase  to  discuss  political  and  economic  questions  with  con- 
siderable freedom.  Moreover,  the  monthlies  have  always 
played  an  important  part  in  the  development  of  Russian 
literature.  Novels  and  stories  are,  as  a  rule,  published  in 
magazines  before  appearing  in  book  form.  The  great  novels 
of  Turgeniev,  Dostoievsky,  and  Tolstoy  nearly  all  made  their 
first  appearance  in  the  "  thick  journals,"  as  the  monthlies 
are  usually  called  in  Russia,  and  even  now  the  success  of  the 
monthlies  depends  upon  the  ability  of  the  editors  to  secure 
for  publication  fiction  by  the  most  prominent  writers  of  the 
day. 

The  appearance  and  make-up  of  the  Russian  monthlies 
are  very  different  from  English  magazines  like  the  Fort- 
nightly  or  Contemporary.  In  the  first  place  they  are  un- 
doubtedly "  thick."  An  average  number  contains  from  400 
to  800  pages,  separate  paging  being  Sometimes  adopted  for 
different  sections  of  the  magazine.  The  first  section  is 
devoted  to   poetry   and    fiction,    original    and    translated, 

9— (3400) 


120  Russia  of  the  Russians 

including  serial  novels  and  short  stories  which  are  printed  in 
larger  type  than  the  rest  of  the  magazine.  Then  follows 
a  section  containing  contributed  articles  on  political, 
economic,  scientific,  educational,  or  literary  subjects,  the 
length  of  each  article  varying  from  sixteen  to  thirty-two  pages 
or  more  of  close  print.  Then  follow,  in  most  magazines, 
reviews  of  home  politics,  foreign  politics,  and  events  in  the 
provinces.  The  final  section  is  devoted  to  book-reviews. 
There  are  no  illustrations.  Magazines  of  this  kind  were 
particularly  serviceable  in  the  pre-constitutional  period, 
when  they  served  as  substitutes  for  newspapers,  public 
meetings,  and  debating  societies.  As  a  rule  they  were  well 
edited,  and  maintained  a  high  literary  and  ethical  standard, 
stimulated  a  sound  and  genuine  interest  in  public  questions, 
and  systematically  educated  public  opinion  in  a  way  that 
the  daily  Press  was  wholly  prevented  from  doing.  Perhaps 
a  lingering  tendency  to  excessive  generalisation  in  the  dis- 
cussion of  public  questions  is  to  be  explained  by  the  fact 
that  for  years  the  average  Russian  reader  was  accustomed 
to  observe  the  march  of  history  in  the  long  perspective  of  a 
monthly  review  and  not  through  the  flashlight  of  the  daily 
press,  while  the  events  he  was  permitted  to  observe  were 
not  the  thousand-and-one  occurrences  at  his  own  doors, 
but  the  broad  outlines  of  movements  in  distant  Western 
Europfcr-J  During  the  last  few  years  the  development  of  the 
daily  press  has  led  to  certain  modifications  of  the  "  thick' 
journals." 

The  oldest  of  the  existing  monthlies  is  the  Viestnik  Yevropy 
(Messenger  of  Europe),  founded  forty-eight  years  ago,  and 
edited  for  many  years  by  the  late  M.  Stasiulevich.  The 
Viestnik  Yevropy,  like  the  Russkia  Viedotnosti,  is  a  heritage 
of  the  Liberalism  of  the  sixties,  and  has  throughout  maintained 
a  very  honourable  tradition  of  scrupulous  fairness,  good 
taste,  and  unswerving  loyalty  to  Liberal  principle.  Among 
its  contributors  were  Turgeniev,  who  printed  most  of  his 
later  works  in  the  Viestnik  Yevropy,  another  classical  novelist, 


The  Press  121 

Gonchar6v,  and  such  distinguished  historians  as  Kostomarov, 
Soloviev  (the  author  of  the  standard  History  of  Russia), 
Kavelin,  and  Pypin.  For  the  last  thirty  years  M.  Konstantin 
Arseniev  has  conducted  the  Review  of  Home  Politics  in  the 
magazine  with  singular  tact,  ability,  and  firmness.  His 
standpoint  is  that  of  a  broad-minded  Liberal  hostile  to  ex- 
cesses of  every  kind.  A  few  years  ago  the  magazine  passed 
into  the  hands  of  Professor  Maksim  Kovalesky,  a  sociologist 
well  known  in  France  and  England,  who  now  edits  it  in 
conjunction  with  M.  Arseniev.  The  Viestnik  Yevropy  is  a 
sober,  non-party  organ  of  moderate  Liberal  tendencies,  and 
it  appeals  chiefly  to  Liberal  officials  and  comfortably-off, 
middle-aged  members  of  the  professional  classes. 

The  Russkaia  My  si  (Russian  Thought),  was  founded  thirty- 
three  years  ago  in  Moscow,  and  was  for  many  years  an  organ 
of  a  progressive  and  eclectic  type,  printing  contributions  from 
most  of  the  prominent  writers  of  the  day,  irrespective  of  their 
political  views.  In  1908  M.  Peter  Struve  became  editor,  and 
since  then  the  magazine  has  been  the  organ  of  this  most 
original  of  the  Russian  political  thinkers  of  the  present  day. 
M.  Struve,  who  was  at  one  time  a  Social  Democrat,  and 
from  1902  to  1905  edited,  in  Stuttgart  and  Paris,  the  organ 
of  the  Liberal  Zemstvo  Constitutionalists  Osvobozhdenie,  is  a 
man  of  great  learning  and  of  uncompromising  independence 
of  thought.  He  is  an  enemy  of  political  dogma,  of  sectarian 
ism,  of  catchwords,  and  hackneyed  phrases.  During  the  last 
few  years  he  has  waged  constant  warfare  against  certain 
inveterate  mental  habits  of  the  Russian  intelligentsia,  or 
progressive  educated  class,  such  as  an  excessive  tendency  to 
negation,  and  a  lack  of  sense  of  the  State,  which,  in  his  view, 
largely  accounted  for  the  insignificant  character  of  the  results 
achieved  by  the  Revolutionary  movement  of  a  few  years  ago. 
M.  Struve's  standpoint  is  now  that  of  a  "realist  "  liberalism, 
and  he  has  developed  his  views  in  a  series  of  able  articles 
many  of  which  appeared  in  the  Russkaia  Mysl,  and  have 
since  been  published  in  book  form  under  the  general  title  of 


122  Russia  of  the  Russians 

Patriotica.  M.  Struve  was  the  initiator  of  a  volume  of  essays 
by  various  writers  called  Viehi,  or  "  Way  marks,"  which 
aroused  great  interest  by  the  severity  of  its  attacks  on  the 
intelligentsia,  and  had,  for  a  volume  of  essays,  an  unprece- 
dented success,  running  into  five  editions.  In  the  Russkaia 
Mysl  M.  Struve  has  gathered  around  him  a  band  of  kindred 
spirits,  and  this  magazine  is  the  freshest  and  most  interesting 
of  all  the  Russian  monthlies.  It  is  now  published  in  St. 
Petersburg. 

The  Russkoe  Bogatsivo  (Russian  Wealth),  founded  in  1876, 
was  for  many  years  the  most  widely-circulated  of  the  Russian 
monthly  magazines.  It  was  the  organ  of  the  Russian  Popu- 
lists or  Agrarian  Socialists,  one  section  of  whom  founded  at 
the  beginning  of  the  present  century  the  Socialist  Revolu- 
tionary party.  Nicholas  Mikhailovsky,  who  edited  the  maga- 
zine from  1895  till  his  death  in  1904,  exercised  by  its  means 
an  enormous  influence.  In  his  monthly  articles  on  current 
topics  he  expressed  views  on  all  aspects  of  economics,  soci- 
ology, and  literature,  which  rapidly  became  part  of  the  mental 
stock-in-trade  of  the  bulk  of  the  Russian  intelligentsia.  His 
writings  were  of  value  in  their  insistence  on  the  necessity  of 
personal  initiative  and  social  service.  But  in  many  respects 
they  had  a  narrowing  effect,  and  it  is  the  mental  attitude 
they  encouraged  that  writers  like  M.  Struve  are  now  com- 
bating. The  most  attractive  feature  of  the  Russkoe  Bogatsivo 
is,  and  always  has  been,  the  warm  sympathy  it  displays  for 
the  peasantry.  M.  Korolenko,  a  writer  of  short  stories  dis- 
tinguished by  their  sincere  humanitarian  feeling,  has  for 
some  years  past  been  a  leading  member  of  the  editorial  staff, 
and  with  him  are  associated  MM.  Miakotin  and  Peshehonov, 
leaders  of  a  party  known  as  the  Populist  Socialists,  which 
enjoyed  a  certain  prominence  during  the  session  of  the  Second 
Duma. 

Another  Socialist  monthly  is  the  Sovremenny  Mir  (The 
Modern  World),  formerly  known  as  the  Mir  Bozhy  (God's 
World),  which  represents  the  opponents  of  the  Agrarian 


The  Press  123 

Socialists,  the  Marxists,  or  Social  Democrats.  This  magazine 
owed  its  success  to  the  energetic  management  of  its  former 
proprietress,  Madame  Davydova,  wife  of  a  well-known  violon- 
cellist and  a  friend  of  Rubinstein's.  Under  Madam  Davy- 
dova's  management  the  Sovremenny  Mir  was  by  no  means 
exclusively  socialistic,  and  opened  its  doors  wide  to  contri- 
butions from  every  quarter.  Thus  M.  Miliukov  printed  in 
its  pages  his  Studies  in  the  History  of  Russian  Culture,  which, 
in  their  collected  form,  became  the  standard  work  on  the 
subject.  The  Sovremenny  Mir  has  of  late  yegurs  declined  in 
importance,  and  suffers  from  the  competition  of  newer  Socialist 
monthlies  like  the  Sovremennik  (The  Contemporary),  and 
Zavety  (The  Covenants).  The  subscription  price  of  the  large 
monthlies,  which  ranges  from  nine  to  fifteen  roubles  (eighteen 
to  thirty  shillings)  a  year,  sets  a  definite  limit  to  their  circu- 
lation, and  of  late  a  cheaper  type  of  magazine  intended  to 
appeal  to  a  broader  public  has  made  its  appearance.  Zhizn 
dlia  vsieh  (literally  "  Life  for  all,"  in  the  sense  of  Everybody's 
Review),  is  a  magazine  of  this  kind,  in  which  the  articles  and 
stories  are  written  in  exceedingly  simple  language  adapted 
to  the  comprehension  of  the  average  working  man  and 
progressive  peasant. 

Russian   journalism   is   passing  through   a   very   difficult 
period  of  transition.    The  Press  is  naturally  peculiarly  sensi- 
tive  to   the   political   atmosphere,    and   the 

foumalis&11     c^arac^er  °*  t^ie  present  political  situation 

largely  accounts  for  the  limitations  of  news- 
papers and  magazines.  But  non-political  influences  also 
make  themselves  felt.  The  whole  tone  and  temper  of  Russian 
life  is  changing,  and  this  change  finds  expression  in  a  hun- 
dred different  ways  in  journals  of  all  shades  of  opinion. 
Standards  are  being  modified,  ideas  and  ideals  cast  into  the 
melting  pot.  Perhaps  one  way  of  describing  the  change 
would  be  to  say  that  Russian  life  is  far  more  sophisticated 
than  it  used  to  be,  both  in  the  good  and  the  bad  sense. 
Less  importance  is  attached  to  abstract  principles  and  to 


124  Russia  of  the  Russians 

generalisations  of  every  kind.  The  demands  of  real  life  are 
asserting  themselves  with  greater  persistence  and  effect. 
Perhaps  there  is  no  less  idealism  than  there  was,  but  the  stars 
of  principle  are  being  hitched  to  ponderous,  rumbling  waggons 
of  everyday,  cheerless  necessity.  The  events  of  the  last  few 
years  have  dissipated  fond  illusions,  or  have  substituted  for 
them  the  chilling  illusion  that  life  is  not  particularly  worth 
living.  The  average  Russian  has,  at  the  best,  become  cooler 
and  more  hard-headed,  and  at  the  worst  he  has  become  a 
cynic  and  a  sensualist. 

The  change  is  clearly  reflected  in  the  Press.  Writers  of 
leading  articles  are  more  disposed  to  concentrate  their  atten- 
tion on  details  of  current  policy  than  to  assert  general  prin- 
ciples, and  this,  not  only  because  of  administrative  pressure, 
but  because  the  whole  mood  of  the  time  is  averse  from  the 
reiteration  of  general  principles.  There  is  a  certain  gain  in 
this,  since  sobering  contact  with  reality  tends  to  give  a  more 
practical  turn  to  Russian  political  thinking  and  action.  But 
the  position  is  depressing  and  uncongenial  to  the  Russian 
character,  and  certainly  gives  little  scope  for  the  display  of 
journalistic  talent.  The  governing  commercial  spirit,  the 
increasing  absorption  in  money-making  is  also  distinctly 
affecting  journalism.  This  is  not  to  say  that  journalism 
pays.  It  does  pay  a  certain  limited  number  of  persons,  but 
under  present  conditions  in  Russia  a  newspaper  must  be 
regarded  as  rather  a  losing  than  a  paying  concern.  Only  a 
very  few  papers  return  big  profits,  and  most  proprietors  con- 
sider themselves  lucky  if  they  can  make  both  ends  meet. 
There  are,  however,  clear  indications  of  a  change  in  this 
respect.  Business  is  growing  in  Russia  by  leaps  and  bounds. 
Foreign  capital  is  coming  into  the  country,  native  capital  is 
growing  more  modern  in  its  forms  of  enterprise.  Modern 
business  means  advertising,  and  the  advertisement  sheets  of 
the  newspaper  are  far  more  important  than  they  were  a  few 
years  ago.  Formerly  most  Russian  papers  were  purely 
political  organs,  and  owed  whatever  success  they  enjoyed 


The  Press  125 

to  the  popularity  of  their  policy.  The  papers  that  combined 
politics  with  commerce  were  the  exception.  But  now  the 
Press  has  become  responsive  to  the  swifter  pulsation  of 
economic  life,  and  the  secret  of  newspaper  success,  to  judge 
by  some  of  the  Moscow  and  provincial  papers,  seems  to  he 
in  a  judicious  combination  of  radical  politics  with  unabashed 
commercialism.  One  thing,  however,  must  be  made  clear. 
There  have  been  cases  in  which  Russian  papers  have  re- 
sorted to  blackmail,  subsidised  articles  and  other  methods  of 
the  kind  in  vogue  in  many  European  countries.  But  the 
great  majority  of  Russian  newspapers  of  standing  are  free 
from  corruption,  and  this  means  a  great  deal  in  a  country 
where  the  average  standard  of  commercial  morality  is  not 
high. 

In  their  growing  tendency  to  sensationalism  the  news- 
papers again  reflect  a  prevailing  mood.  Twenty  or  thirty 
years  ago  writers  on  Russia  frequently  described  Russian 
towns  as  overgrown  villages.  But  the  transformation  of 
these  overgrown  villages  into  cities  is  going  on  rapidly,  and 
the  simpler  tastes  of  a  slower  time  are  being  superseded  by 
the  fancies  of  a  jaded  city  population.  Music  halls,  cafe 
chantants,  and  all  kinds  of  places  of  amusement  are  multi- 
plying, and  the  cinematograph  every  night  attracts  its 
millions  throughout  the  Empire.  It  cannot  be  said  that  a 
love  of  sport  is  developing  in  proportion  with  the  passion  for 
being  amused,  but  football,  yachting,  and  motor  sport  are 
certainly  much  more  popular  than  they  were,  and  Russia  has 
had  a  very  acute  attack  of  the  aviation  fever.  Journalism 
feels  the  change.  The  popular  temper  is  unfavourable  to  a 
tone  of  sedateness  and  sobriety  in  the  newspapers.  There 
is  a  demand  for  smart  feuilletons,  snappy  telegrams,  and 
piquant  news  items.  The  chronique  scandaleuse,  and  the 
sensational  murder,  and  will  forgery  trials  that  have  been  so 
frequent  during  the  last  few  years  afford  abundant  material, 
and  the  Russian  Press  is  perceptibly  assuming  a  yellowish 
tinge.    But  there  is  a  strong  counter  tendency  in  favour  of 


126  Russia  of  the  Russians 

the  maintenance  of  a  stricter  literary  and  ethical  standard, 
and  it  is  very  curious  to  watch  the  struggle.  The  struggle 
is  particularly  interesting,  because  Russia  is  so  big  that  the 
Press  will  inevitably  become  an  immense  power  as  soon  as 
the  present  limitations  are  removed. 


CHAPTER   IV 

THE  INTELLIGENTSIA 

What  is  the  Intelligentsia  ?    The  word  itself,  or  some  more 
or  less  adequate  translation  of  it,  is  frequently  met  with  in 

the  discussion  of  Russian  public  affairs,  and 
The  Intelligentsia,  it  is  difficult  to  understand  a   great  deal  in 

Russian  character  and  politics  unless  the 
intelligentsia  be  taken  clearly  into  account.  It  is  practically 
a  separate  class  that  goes  under  the  name.  To  describe  it 
as  the  educated  or  the  literary  class  is  not  sufficient.  An 
"  intelligent,"  or  member  of  the  intelligentsia,  is  not  jnerejy 
an  "  intellectual "  either.  He  is  that  and  something  more, 
and  sometimes  he  is  not  quite  that.  There  are  points  of  v 
resemblance  between  the  Russian  intelligentsia  and  the  liter- 
ary and  professional  class  in  other  countries,  in  Germany, 
France,  Italy,  and  especially  in  England.  The  German 
romantic  movement  of  the  early  part  of  the  last  century, 
certain  aspects  of  the  French  Boh  toe,  Fleet  Street,  Grub 
Street,  the  Labour  and  Women's  Suffrage  Movements  pre- 
sent many  analogies  with  the  Russian  intelligentsia,  but  there 
is  nothing  altogether  like  this  class  in  any  part  of  the  world. 
Whereas  the  intellectuals  of  other  countries  enter  more  or 
less  completely  into  the  life  of  their  environment  and  con- 
form to  its  rules  and  customs,  the  life  of  the  Russian  intelli- 
gentsia has  been  hitherto  a  constant  protest  against  the  ex- 
isting order.  The  distinguishing  feature  of  the  intelligentsia 
was  not  that  its  members  wrote  books  and  articles  or  dis- 
cussed literary  and  social  questions,  but  that  they  did  this 
in  the  name  of  a  higher  political  and  social  order  that  was  to 
replace  the  existing  order.  Everything  they  did  was  per- 
meated with  the  desire  for  liberation,  for  reform.  The  nature 
of  the  reform  required  was  conceived  of  differently  at  different 
periods  and  by  various  groups.    Some  dreamed  of  Russia  as  a 

127 


r 

/ 


128  Russia  of  the  Russians 

land  of  self-governing  communities,  of  true-hearted  Orthodox 
Christians  under  the  aegis  of  the  autocracy,  others  wanted 
to  make  Russia  into  a  federation  of  Communes  without  the 
autocracy,  others  proclaimed  a  reign  of  science  and  reason, 
denounced  all  tradition,  and,  on  the  strength  of  such  manuals 
of  crude  materialism  as  Buehner's  Kraft  und  Stoff,  declared 
poetry,  art,  and  personal  beauty  to  be  mere  instruments  of 
reaction.  Some  advocated  Agrarian  Socialism,  a  later 
generation  preached  Marxian  Socialism. 

It  is  the  subordination  of  all  intellectual  effort  and  indeed 
>  of  personal  habits  to  a  supreme  interest  in  social  reform  that 
/  gives  the  Russian  intelligentsia  its  peculiar  colouring,  that 
/  constitutes  its  strength  and  its  weakness.  And  it  is  just  this 
characteristic  that  makes  it  possible  to  mark  off  the  intelli- 
gentsia with  precision  from  the  rest  of  the  community.  Not 
every  literary  man  was  an  "  intelligent,"  though  in  certain 
of  his  habits  and  moods,  perhaps,  even*  in  his  convictions,  he 
might  present  many  points  of  affinity  with  the  intelligentsia. 
Tolstoy  was  certainly  not  an  intelligent,  though  at  one  time 
he  associated  with  the  literary  men  in  St.  Petersburg, 
wrote  in  the  "  thick  journals,"  and  engaged  in  fierce  disputes 
on  general  topics.  But  the  type  did  not  appeal  to  him,  and 
he  rarely  described  it  in  his  novels,  approaching  it  only  when 
a  class  that  did  interest  him — the  country  gentlemen,  for 
instance,  as  in  Anna  Karenina — happened  to  be  in  a 
frame  of  mind  corresponding  with  that  of  the  intelligentsia, 
and  argued  hotly  on  political  questions.  And  Tolstoy's 
religious  views  were  repugnant  to  the  majority  of  the  intelli- 
gentsia, just  as  the  intelligentsia  habit  of  mind  was  repug- 
nant to  him.  Turgeniev,  again,  was  not  an  intelligent.  He 
was  keenly  interested  in  the  intelligentsia,  associated  with, 
and  frequently  described  in  his  novels,  its  members.  His 
heroes,  Rudin,  in  the  novel  of  the  same  name,  Bazarov,  in 
Fathers  and  Sons,  and  most  of  the  characters  in  Smoke  are 
intelligents.  But  Turgeniev  described  them  as  an  outsider, 
as  a  highly  cultivated  country  gentleman  who  would  never 


The  Intelligentsia  129 

quite  consent  to  identify  himself  with  the  intelligentsia  class. 
Dostoievsky  again,  was,  and  was  not,  an  intelligent.  He 
was  a  townsman,  and  lived  like  a  typical  intelligent,  a  restless, 
hand-to-mouth,  irregular  life,  among  debts  and  manuscripts, 
and  with  long  nights  of  heated  argument.  Yet  the  intelli- 
gentsia did  not  claim  him  as  its  own,  and  not  until  many  years 
after  his  death  did  it  fully  and  ungrudgingly  recognise  his 
genius. 

In  fact,  literary  or  artistic  genius  or  a  devotion  to  literary 
and  aesthetic,  rather  than  to  social  and  political  interests, 
very  frequently  had  the  effect  of  placing  a  man  outside  the 
pale  of  the  intelligentsia  in  the  strictest  sense  of  the  word. 
This  section  of  the  community  bore  the  character  of  a  religi- 
ous body  rather  than  that  of  a  literary  class.  Its  attitude 
resembled  that  of  the  Puritans  and  their  successors,  Quakers, 
Presbyterians,  Baptists,  and  Methodists.  It  had  a  Noncon- 
formist conscience.  Only  the  ideal  pursued  was  not  that  of 
the  salvation  of  the  individual  soul — for  nearly  four  decades 
the  majority  of  the  Russian  intelligentsia  did  not  believe  in 
the  existence  of  the  soul — but  the  salvation  of  Russia,  the 
salvation  of  the  people.  It  was  an  ideal  of  social  and  per- 
sonal liberty  that  demanded  constant  personal  service  and 
the  subordination  of  all  other  interests  to  its  attainment. 
It  involved  intense  humanitarianism,  an  enthusiastic  attach- 
ment to  the  common  people,  because  they  were  common 
people,  because  they  were  poor,  oppressed,  and  suffering. 
"  From  those  who  exult  and  foolishly  chatter  and  dye  their 
hands  in  blood,"  wrote  Nekrasov,  the  typical  poet  of  the 
intelligentsia,  "  lead  me  away  to  the  camp  of  those  who  are 
perishing  for  the  great  cause  of  love." 

Ethical  fervour,  constant  devotion,  even  in  the  darkest 
days  of  oppression,  to  an  ideal  of  political  and  social  redemp- 
tion, immense  personal  sacrifices,  contempt  for  the  goods  of 
this  world — these  were  the  noble  qualities  that  gave  the  in- 
telligentsia its  power  and  constitutes  its  claim  to  profound 
respect.    These  were  the  qualities  which,  together  with  a 


130  Russia  of  the  Russians 

genuine  and  unflagging  thirst  for  knowledge,  a  delight  in 
ideas  for  their  own  sake,  a  restless  and  widely-ranging  mental 
activity,  and  a  desire  to  impart  enlightenment  to  the  weakest 
and  the  humblest,  made  the  intelligentsia  the  pioneers  of 
Russian  development  during  the  last  century.  As  against 
the  hard  mechanical  conception  of  the  despotic  state,  the 
corruption  of  the  bureaucracy,  and  the  systematic  suppres- 
sion of  personal  initiative,  the  intelligents'  self-sacrificing 
insistence  on  the  necessity  of  knowledge,  justice,  and  liberty, 
and  on  high  ethical  and  social  values  had  the  force  of  a  sturdy 
and  resolute  witness-bearing.  The  members  of  the  intelli- 
gentsia were  constantly  imbued  with  the  sense  of  a  mission. 
Some  were  revolutionaries,  some  carried  on  clandestine  propa- 
ganda in  Russia,  others  worked  and  organised  abroad.  But 
the  majority  remained  at  home  and  worked  openly.  Of 
these  some  sat  in  the  cities,  taught  in  schools  and  univer- 
sities, wrote  in  the  "  thick  journals,"  read  German,  French, 
and  English  science  and  philosophy,  argued,  disputed,  criti- 
cised. Others  worked  in  the  Zemstvos  as  doctors  or  agri- 
cultural experts,  or  as  school  teachers  in  the  villages,  or 
opened  little  libraries  for  the  people  whenever  they  could 
wring  permission  from  the  Administration,  carried  on  a  con- 
stant struggle  with  the  authorities  on  points  of  law  in  order 
to  gain  a  little  clear  space,  some  slight  opportunities  for 
imparting  knowledge  to  the  peasantry,  or  for  helping  the 
suffering,  worked  devotedly  in  Famine  Relief  and  served  as 
doctors  and  nurses  in  time  of  war.  Women  worked  side  by 
side  with  men  on  a  basis  of  complete  equality,  and  frequently 
were  leaders  in  organisation  ;  in  fact,  one  of  the  remarkable 
features  of  the  intelligentsia  was  the  number  of  strong  and 
able  women  it  brought  to  the  front.  And  in  all  the  work 
predominated  the  feeling  of  a  duty  to  be  done,  of  a  debt  to 
be  paid  to  the  people.  It  was  a  kind  of  religious  service,  and 
this,  though  the  majority  of  the  intelligents  demonstratively 
claimed  to  be  atheists,  and  professed  a  rigid  and 
uncompromising  materialism. 


The  Intelligentsia  131 

Many  of  the  defects  of  the  intelligents  naturally  flowed 
from  their  qualities.  Dogmatism,  narrowness,  and  a  cen- 
sorious spirit  were  common.  Frequently  an  idealist  con- 
tempt for  the  goods  of  this  world,  and  hostility  to  aestheti- 
cism,  degenerated  into  personal  untidiness  and  slovenliness 
in  the  conduct  of  personal  affairs.  Sincerity  was  often  in- 
terpreted as  meaning  indifference  to  the  amenities  of  social 
intercourse,  identification  with  the  interests  of  the  people 
was  often  considered  to  mean  not  only  the  adoption  of  a 
peasant  costume,  but  also  an  intentional  roughness  of  manner. 
The  bitterness  of  the  struggle  with  the  autocracy  engendered 
intolerance,  an  impatience  of  others'  opinions.  And  difference 
of  opinion  on  political  or  literary  questions  was  frequently  re- 
garded as  morally  reprehensible.  The  man  who  did  not  conform 
to  the  prevailing  attitude  of  the  intelligentsia  was  looked  upon 
with  suspicion,  if  he  displayed  indications  of  attachment  to 
the  Church  or  other  traditional  institutions  he  was  shunned 
as  a  reactionary.  Intolerance  extended  even  to  trifles.  A 
few  years  ago  a  literary  man,  who  happened  to  be  a  landed 
proprietor,  brought  his  wife  to  a  gathering  of  a  radical  liter- 
ary group  with  which  he  was  connected.  His  wife  was 
coldly  received,  and  it  afterwards  appeared  that  the  cause  of 
offence  was  that  she  wore  diamond  earrings. 

Again  the  devotion  of  the  intelligentsia  to  theory,  especially  N 
to  the  latest  philosophical  and  social  theories  of  France  and 
Germany  blunted  the  sense  of  reality  and  made  the  average 
Russian  even  more  unpractical  than  he  was  compelled  to  be 
through  lack  of  any  opportunity  for  action.  He  saw  the 
march  of  events  through  a  haze  of  hypothesis  and  logical 
syllogism.  In  long  and  noisy  disputes  around  the  samovar 
in  rooms  clouded  with  cigarette  smoke  he  analysed  political 
occurrences  from  various  philosophical  and  sociological  stand- 
points, estimating  their  significance  from  the  point  of  view 
of  a  remote  ideal,  but  very  often  missing  their  immediate 
impact  on  sensibility.  An  enormous  amount  of  time  and 
energy  was  wasted  in  solving  mere  verbal  misunderstandings. 


132  Russia  of  the  Russians 

The  intelligentsia  tended  to  lose  sight  of  colour,  action, 
spontaneous  movement,  the  play  of  the  instincts,  the  simple 
elemental  process  of  living.  It  evaded  nature.  It  theorised 
even  when  of  set  purpose  it  returned  to  Nature  and  founded 
Tolstoyan  colonies.  The  very  simplicity  of  the  intelligents* 
manner  of  life  and  their  good-natured  habits  of  mutual  help 
freed  them  from  the  insistent  pressure  of  economic  demands 
in  an  extreme  form.  They  lived  remote  from  the  world,  as 
it  were,  on  an  island.  It  was  never  absolutely  necessary  for 
them  to  be  business-like,  and  the  conditions  were  not  such 
as  to  encourage  habits  of  punctuality.  There  was  even  a 
prejudice  against  a  business-like  habit  of  mind,  it  was  con- 
sidered petty  and  "  bourgeois,"  and  indicative  of  an  exces- 
sive desire  for  material  welfare.  Theory  dominated  over 
life,  and  profoundly  influenced  personal  habits,  dress,  the 
training  of  children,  the  relations  between  husband  and  wife. 
It  even  influenced  the  speech  of  daily  life,  making  it  bookish, 
abstract,  and  colourless,  depriving  it  of  that  wealth  of  imagery 
which  makes  the  language  of  the  Russian  common  people  a 
delight  to  hear.  The  dominance  of  sociological  theories  also 
affected  literary  taste,  and  works  of  art  were  judged  from 
the  standpoint  of  social  utility,  rather  than  from  that  of 
beauty.  "  Aesthetics  are  the  Cain  who  killed  his  brother 
Abel,  Ethics,"  declared  the  critic  Mikhailovsky,  who  for 
many  years  held  sway  over  the  minds  of  a  large  proportion 
of  the  Russian  intelligentsia.  Critics  paid  attention  mainly 
to  the  political  and  social  content  of  the  works  they  studied, 
demanded  realism  pure  and  simple,  and  condemned  the  play 
of  fancy.  In  a  popular  History  of  Literature,  published  a  few 
years  ago,  considerable  space  is  devoted  to  the  discussion  of 
the  social  and  political  ideas  in  the  work  of  the  poet  Alexis 
Tolstoy,  an  aristocrat  and  a  lover  of  beauty,  who  held  aloof 
from  politics.  Chehov,  a  shrewd,  sceptical,  and  talented 
writer  of  short  stories,  who  was  bored  by  the  "  thick  journals," 
and  shunned  the  intelligentsia,  died  in  1904.  In  1906,  after 
the  promulgation  of  the  Constitution  and  the  formation  of 


The  Intelligentsia  133 

political  parties,  a  literary  critic  in  a  public  lecture,  discussed 
the  question  as  to  which  party  Chehov  would  have  joined  if 
he  had  been  alive,  and  came  to  the  conclusion  that  he  would 
probably  have  been  a  Constitutional  Democrat. 

Sometimes  the  reign  of  dogma,  the  habit  of  holding  reality 
at  a  distance  by  means  of  theory  led  to  a  certain  insincerity. 
The  very  gregariousness  of  the  intelligentsia  made  this  inevit- 
able. There  was  a  great  deal  of  mere  lip  allegiance  to  cur- 
rent doctrine.  By  no  means  every  member  of  the  intelli- 
gentsia did  his  thinking  for  himself ;  many  lived  solely  on 
borrowed  ideas,  and  frequently  disputes  were  a  mere  bandy- 
ing of  authorities.  Mikhailovsky,  Chernishevsky,  Marx, 
Engels,  Spencer,  Buckle,  Nietzsche  were  names  that  con- 
stantly did  duty  for  arguments.  And  then  human  nature 
would  have  its  way  in  spite  of  dogma.  To  wear  evening 
dress  would  have  been  considered  by  most  members  of  the 
intelligentsia  an  indication  of  degraded  bourgeois  taste.  But 
it  was  one  time  the  custom  among  literary  men  not  to  shave, 
and  to  wear  the  hair  long,  and  some  were  distinctly  foppish 
in  the  attention  they  paid  to  their  coiffure.  Many  in  their 
sturdy  democracy  refused  to  wear  starched  shirts,  and  pre- 
ferred the  blouse  as  worn  by  the  Russian  peasant  and  work- 
ing man.  But  an  inextinguishable  aesthetic  instinct  dis- 
played itself  in  the  choice  of  striking  colours  for  the  blouse 
or  in  embroidery  on  the  breast,  at  the  waist  or  on  the  fringes. 
And  when  a  girl  student  wore  her  hair  short  and  incessantly 
smoked  cigarettes,  she  did  so  not  simply  to  defy  convention, 
but  because  in  her  set  it  was  the  thing  to  do,  just  as  in 
another  set  which  she  abhorred,  it  was  the  thing  to  go  to 
balls  and  wear  evening  dress.  It  would  be  a  mistake,  too, 
to  imagine  that  gatherings  of  the  intelligentsia  were  devoted 
solely  to  disputes  on  abstract  questions.  Three  or  four 
might  argue  hotly,  while  other-,  would  simply  exchange  im- 
pressions, or  dutifully  submit  to  be  bored,  or  gossip  as  easily 
and  as  pleasantly  as  human  beings  gossip  the  world  over, 
from  Notting  Hill  to  Hong  Kong.    The  life  of  the  intelligents 


134  Russia  of  the  Russians 

was  simple,  but  not  ascetic.  Many  members  drank  to  ex- 
cess, and  there  were  some  who  drank  themselves  to  death 
in  search  of  a  refuge  from  the  terrible  depression  that  hung 
constantly  over  the  Russian  educated  man,  and  made  the 
life  of  the  intelligentsia  essentially  a  sad  one. 

One  may  easijy  do  injustice  to  the  intelligentsia  by  empha- 
sising certain  of  its  aspects  that  lend  themselves  to  satire  and 
to  caricature.  Such  aspects  were  sharply  characterised  by 
Turgeniev  in  his  Smoke,  and  ferociously  condemned  by 
Dostoievsky  in  his  novel  The  Possessed.  The  intelligentsia, 
though  a  distinct  and  separate  class,  was  by  no  means  alto- 
gether of  a  piece.  There  were  extremists  and  moderates, 
there  were  various  parties  and  a  great  diversity  of  types  of 
character.  The  Symbolist  writers  and  advocates  of  Art  for 
Art's  sake,  who  made  their  appearance  towards  the  end  of 
the  nineteenth  century,  were  members  of  the  intelligentsia, 
although  they  were  violently  attacked  by  the  prevailing 
school.  So  were  many  Slavophils,  and  convinced  and  deeply 
religious  supporters  of  the  Church,  and  opponents  of  philo- 
sophical materialism.  In  the  homes  of  some  members  of 
the  intelligentsia  there  was  a  gracious  and  soothing  tradition 
of  real  culture  combined  with  a  refinement  of  manner  that 
was  the  more  charming  because  of  its  absolute  sincerity.  In 
other  homes  there  was  occasionally  a  depressing  crudity  of 
thought  and  speech  and  a  noisy  self-assertiveness.  But  all 
members  of  the  intelligentsia  were  united  by  a  common 
temper,  by  a  profound  sense  of  life  as  a  problem,  and  by  a 
constantly  thwarted  and  baffled  desire  to  find  ultimate 
solutions. 

The  intelligentsia  occupies,  or  has  until  now  occupied, 
such  a  strictly  delimited  position  in  Russian  life  that  it  must, 
as  has  been  pointed  out,  be  regarded  as  a  distinct  social 
class.  Officially  there  are  five  classes  in  the  Empire,  the  gentry, 
the  merchants,  the  clergy,  the  mieschkane,  or  petite  bourgeoise, 
and  the  peasantry.  In  the  early  part  of  the  last  century 
literature  was  almost  exclusively  the  business  of  the  gentry, 


The  Intelligentsia  135 

but  from  the  sixties  onward  representatives  of  the  other 
classes,  students  of  theological  seminaries,  artisans,  mer- 
chants' sons,  and  peasants  gathered  round  the  literary  month- 
lies and  took  their  place  among  the  intelligentsia.  The  Uni- 
versity system,  adapted  by  the  Government  from  the  Germah 
system,  made  it  possible  for  most  clever  youths  who  had  suc- 
ceeded in  fighting  their  way  through  the  secondary  schools 
to  pass  through  a  course  of  higher  education,  and  it  was  the 
universities  which  filled  the  ranks  of  the  intelligentsia.  The 
development  of  higher  education  for  women,  the  opening  of 
Women's  University  Colleges  and  Medical  Schools,  largely 
increased  the  number  of  women  in  the  literary  and  profes- 
sional class.  Not  only  were  various  social  classes  represented 
in  the  intelligentsia,  but  there  was  a  sprinkling  of  non-Russian 
nationalities.  There  was  a  considerable  number  of  Jews,  and 
there  were  also  Little  Russians  and  a  few  Poles,  and  a  certain 
number  of  Armenians  and  Georgians.  The  intelligentsia  also 
included  Government  officials  of  Liberal  or  Radical  views,  and, 
in  fact,  there  were  a  good  many  points  of  contact  between 
the  bureaucracy  and  the  intelligentsia.  Those  same  higher 
educational  institutions  which  constituted  a  recruiting  ground 
for  the  intelligentsia,  gave  the  Government  a  constant  supply 
of  officials.  And  in  certain  respects  the  intelligentsia's  habit 
of  mind  was  akin  to  that  of  the  bureaucracy,  especially  in 
its  abstract  character,  its  faith  in  the  virtue  of  words  and 
formulas,  and  of  schemes  set  down  on  paper. 

In  writing  of  the  intelligentsia  the  past  tense  is  almost 
unavoidable,  because  of  the  great  changes  that  have  taken 
place  in  the  class  during  the  last  few  years.  The  Revolution 
brought  the  intelligentsia  into  rude  and  sudden  contact  with 
reality,  put  its  dogmas  and  doctrines  to  the  severest  possible 
test.  Doctrines  were  brushed  aside  by  elemental  forces,  and 
instincts  dulled  by  an  inveterate  habit  of  generalisation 
failed  to  respond  adequately  and  decisively  to  the  startling 
appeal  of  facts.  The  intelligentsia  has  been  bitterly  blamed 
for  the  failure  of  the  Constitutional  movement  and  for  the 

10 — (2400) 


136  Russia  of  the  Russians 

>  triumph  of  reaction,  but  it  would  be  unfair  to  make  it  re- 
sponsible for  what  was  largely  historically  inevitable.  Con- 
sidering the  enforced  isolation  from  real  life  to  which  the 
intelligentsia  was  condemned  in  the  pre-constitutional  period, 
it  is  difficult  to  see  how  it  could  have  developed  in  a  high 
degree  the  qualities  of  practical  efficiency.  It  was  only  in 
the  Zemstvos  and  Municipal  Councils  that  it  had  an  oppor- 
tunity for  administrative  training,  and  it  is  significant  that 
it  is  the  Zemstvos  that  have  given  some  of  the  most  capable 
and  practical  workers  in  the  broad  field  of  Imperial  politics. 
But  in  any  case  the  political  turmoil  of  the  last  ten  years 
has  made  the  Russian  intelligentsia  something  very  different 
from  what  it  was.  It  has  lost  its  exclusiveness.  It  is  no 
longer  so  distinctively  a  class  apart.  Its  members  engage 
more  frequently  in  practical  work.  Some  are  deputies,  some 
have  gone  into  business.  In  spite  of  the  reaction,  a  steady 
social  and  economic  development  is  in  progress,  and  in  this 
development  the  intellectuals  are  taking  their  share.  Hun- 
dreds are  living  in  exile  or  in  banishment  abroad,  and  over 
such  the  traditions  of  the  pre-constitutional  period  still  have 
a  strong  hold.  Faith  in  many  of  the  dogmas  of  the  intelli- 
gentsia has  been  profoundly  shaken,  and  perplexity  and  a 
spirit  of  scepticism  prevails.  And  at  the  same  time  certain 
new  tendencies  are  making  themselves  felt,  nationalism  as 
opposed  to  the  once  prevalent  cosmopolitanism,  a  new  sense 
of  the  State  as  opposed  to  the  former  negative  attitude  of  the 
intelligentsia  to  the  State  as  an  organism,  and  to  State-action 
of  every  kind,  and  also  a  growing  respect  for  religious  senti- 
ment in  its  various  manifestations  as  opposed  to  the  agres- 
sive  materialism  that  was  once  so  common.  Political  parties 
have,  to  a  certain  extent,  taken  the  place  of  the  intelligentsia 
and  the  intellectuals  seem  little  by  little,  in  spite  of  very 
unfavourable  conditions,  to  be  taking  their  place  in  a  broader 
national  life.  They  seem,  in  fact,  to  be  in  process  of  becoming 
intellectuals  of  the  German  or  English  type. 
But  the  traditions  of  a  century  of  lofty  and  disinterested 


The  Intelligentsia  137 

thinking,  of  loyalty  to  great  ideas,  of  struggle  and  of  sacrifice 
are  still  fresh  and  vivid,  the  traditions  of  the  first  Russian 
critic  Bielinsky  and  his  successors,  Dobroliubov,  Lavrov,  and 
Mikhailovsky,  of  that  penetrating  political  thinker  Herzen, 
of  the  tumultuous  anarchist  Bakunin,  of  Turgeniev  and 
Dostoievsky  and  Tolstoy,  and  of  the  idealist  Slavophils 
Aksakov,  Kireev,  and  Homiakov.  The  band  of  high-minded, 
enlightened,  humane,  and  keenly  sensitive  men  who  passed 
through  the  strange  and  bitter  experience  of  living  under  an 
autocracy,  while  the  Europe  of  the  nineteenth  century  made 
its  triumphant  progress — these  were  the  men  who  made  the 
Russian  intelligentsia  what  it  is.  And  such  an  intelligentsia 
cannot  wholly  disappear,  can  never  become  exactly  like  the 
intellectuals  of  any  country  in  the  world. 


CHAPTER   V 

CHURCH  AND  PEOPLE 

"  Holy  Russia,"  the  Empire  is  called,  and  the  troops  of  the 
Tsar  are  his  "  Christ-loving  army."    The  slow  train  stops  at 

a  wayside  station,  an4  among  the  grey  cot- 
The  Church,    tages  on  the  hillside  rises  a  white  church 

hardly  supporting  the  weight   of  a  heavy 
blue  cupola.    The  train  approaches  a  great  city,  and  from 
behind  factory  chimneys  cupolas  loom  up,  and  when  the 
factory  chimneys  are  passed  it  is  the  domes  and  belfries  of 
the  churches  that  dominate  the  city.    "  Set  yourselves  in 
the  shadow  of  the  sign  of  the  Cross,  O  Russian  folk  of  true 
believers,"  is  the  appeal  that  the  Crown  makes  to  the  people 
at  critical  moments  in  its  history.    With  these  words  began 
the  Manifesto  of  Alexander  II  announcing  the  emancipation 
of  the  serfs.    And  these  same  words  were  used  by  those 
mutineers  on  the  battleship  Potemkin  who  appeared  before 
Odessa  in  1905.    The  symbols  of  the  Orthodox  Church  are 
set  around  Russian  life  like  banners,  like  ancient  watch- 
towers.    The  Church  is  an  element  in  the  national  conscious- 
ness.   It  enters  into  the  details  of  life,  moulds  custom,  main- 
tains a  traditional  atmosphere  to  the  influence  of  which  a 
Russian,  from  the  very  fact  that  he  is  a  Russian,  involuntarily 
submits.    A  Russian  may,  and  most  Russian  intelligents  do, 
deny  the  Church  in  theory,  but  in  taking  his  share  in  the 
collective  life  of  the  nation  he,  at  many  points,  recognises 
the  Church  as  a  fact.    More  than  that.    In  those  border- 
lands of  emotion  that  until  life's  end  evade  the  control  of 
toilsomely  acquired  personal  conviction,  the  Church  retains 
a  foothold,  yielding  only  slowly  and  in  the  course  of  generations 
to  modern  influences.    Or  it  may  happen,  and  often  does 
happen,  that  the  intelligent  in  his  eager  intellectual  search, 

138 


Church  and  People  139 

in  his  ardour  of  social  service  is  suddenly  caught  aw&y  by  a 
current  of  religious  feeling  which  combines  with  nationalist 
instinct  to  draw  him  back  into  the  Church.  A  strangely 
complex  institution  is  the  Orthodox  Church  and  very  subtle 
are  its  influences. 

A  Russian  heads  his  letters  with  a  date  thirteen  days  later 
than  that  recognised  by  the  rest  of  the  civilised  world  simply 
because  the  Church,  on  purely  traditional  and  irrational 
grounds,  insists  on  the  maintenance  of  the  Old  Style.  He 
may  protest  against  the  anachronism,  and  if  he  has  strong 
feelings  on  the  subject  he  may  use  the  New  Style  as  well  as 
the  Old,  heading  his  letters  with  such  a  complex  date  as 
December  28,  1912,  January  10,  1913.  But  he  cannot  aban- 
don the  Old  Style  for  the  simple  reason  that  it  is  observed 
in  all  public  transactions,  in  banks  and  Government  offices. 
A  high  school  boy  may  be  a  devoted  admirer  of  Nietzsche 
or  Marx,  but  he  knows  perfectly  well  which  saints'  days  in 
the  year  mean  a  whole  holiday.  The  average  Russian  in- 
telligent does  not  dream  of  going  to  church  on  Sundays,  and 
of  priests  on  the  whole  he  has  an  exceedingly  poor  opinion. 
But  at  certain  important  moments  of  his  life  he  invokes 
the  Church's  aid.  He  goes  to  church  to  be  married,  and 
before  marriage  confession  and  communion  are  necessary. 
The  priest  christens  his  children,  and  every  Orthodox  Russian 
bears  the  name  of  a  saint,  Greek,  Jewish,  Roman,  or  Russian. 
And  when  he  dies  priest  and  deacon  again  come  into  his 
home  and  sing  a  mass  for  the  repose  of  his  soul,  and  after- 
wards, with  solemn  and  touching  ceremony  commit  his  body 
to  the  ground.  There  is  one  great  festival  of  the  year  in 
which  all  Russians,  whatever  be  their  standing  or  opinions, 
joyfully  take  part.  Nowhere  is  Easter  celebrated  with  such 
tremulous  intensity  of  feeling  as  in  Russia. 

But  it  is  just  because  the  Church  occupies  such  a  con- 
spicuous position  in  public  life  that  it  is  difficult  to  determine 
the  real  attitude  of  the  people  to  religion.  The  Russian 
people  seem   decorously  and   deeply  religious.     A  cabman 


140  Russia  of  the  Russians 

bares  his  head  and  crosses  himself  when  he  passes  church  or 
shrine.    A  merchant  in  a  tramcar  will  suddenly  cease  reading 
the  city  column  in  his  morning  paper  and  bow  and  cross 
himself  reverently  because  of  a  passing  funeral.    In  every 
cathedral  in  St.  Petersburg  and  Moscow,  at  all  hours  of  the 
day,  women  are  kneeling  before  the  sacred  pictures,  bowing 
to  the  ground  and  whispering  endless  prayers.    A  Russian 
peasant  crosses  himself  before  and  after  eating,  crosses  him- 
self when  he  sets  out  on  a  railway  journey  and  before  he  re- 
tires to  rest.     In  nearly  every  Russian  house  ikons  or  sacred 
.     pictures  hang  in  the  corners,  and  before  them  tiny  lamps 
1     with  floating  wicks  are  constantly  burning.    But  over  against 
these  facts  stand  others  equally  characteristic,  such  as  the 
j     prevalence  of  drunkenness,  and  the  fact  that  not  in  England, 
;     France,  or  Germany  is  it  possible  to  hear  in  the  public  streets 
;     such  an  astonishing  variety  of  bad  language  as  in  Russia. 
In  attempting  to  define  the  Russian  people's  attitude  to 
religion  one  may  easily  slip  and  stumble.     But  of  its  attitude 
to  the  Church  as  an  institution  the  routine  of  daily  living 
gives  abundant  illustrations. 

In  its  most  intimate  connection  with  the  people  the  Church 
is  represented  by  the  village  priest  far  more  than  by  metro- 
politan, archbishop,  or  archimandrite,    and 

Priest  innnitely  more  than  by  the  Holy  Synod  with 

its  lay  Chief  Procurator.  The  village  priest 
represents  the  living  continuity  of  ecclesiastical  tradition. 
He  has  not  an  easy  life.  He  receives  a  salary  paid  by  the 
Treasury  through  the  Synod  of  from  about  £15  to  £30  a 
year.  He  has  a  parsonage  and  glebe  land,  sometimes  barely 
enough  for  a  vegetable  garden,  sometimes  enough  to  keep  a 
horse  and  a  few  cows  on,  and  to  grow  produce  for  sale.  The 
salary  is  eked  out  by  various  fees  from  the  parishioners,  amount- 
ing in  all  from  £50  to  £90  a  year  according  to  the  size  of  the 
parish.  For  a  christening  peasants  pay  from  sixpence  to  a 
shilling,  for  a  wedding  from  a  pound  upwards.  But  the 
priest  must  provide  out  of  his  own  pocket  for  the  lighting  of 


Church  and  People  141 

the  church  for  the  wedding  and  the  warm  wine  that  bride 
and  bridegroom  drink  after  communion.  And  if  the  birth 
certificates  of  the  pair  are  not  in  the  priest's  keeping  and 
have  to  be  copied  from  the  registers  of  another  parish  he 
must  have  them  copied  and  forwarded  at  his  own  expense. 
For  a  funeral  the  fee  is  from  six  to  ten  shillings.  And  then 
there  are  endless  small  fees.  Three  times  a  year,  at  Christ- 
mas, Epiphany  and  Easter,  the  priest  makes  the  round  of 
the  parish,  and  holds  a  short  service  in  every  house.  For 
each  visit  he  receives  from  threepence  to  a  shilling.  For  the 
mass  sung  for  the  repose  of  the  soul  which  the  relatives  order 
on  the  twentieth  or  fortieth  day  after  the  decease,  the  fee  is 
from  fourpence  to  sixpence.  For  every  service,  in  fact,  held 
by  the  priest  at  the  request  of  the  parishioners,  over  and 
above  the  regular  services  on  Sundays  and  the  appointed 
Church  Festivals,  he  receives  a  trifling  fee.  Under,  such  con- 
ditions the  questions  of  fees  may  easily  become  a  source  of 
friction  between  priest  and  parishioners,  and  it  is  not  surprising 
that  the  village  priest  is  often  close-fisted  and  grasping. 

Questions  of  ways  and  means,  of  kopeks  and  roubles  harass 
the  village  priest  continually.  The  fees  he  receives  he  must 
share  with  the  deacon,  for  every  priest  in  holding  a  service 
must  be  aided  by  a  deacon,  or  an  unordained  assistant  called 
a  psalotnshchik  or  cantor,  who  chants  the  responses.  But 
the  priest's  wife  helps  him  to  solve  the  economic  problem, 
for,  as  a  rule,  she  is  an  excellent  housekeeper.  The  clergy 
form  a  caste  apart,  priests  and  deacons  marry  the  daughters 
of  priests  and  deacons,  and  it  very  often  happens  that  an 
old  priest  on  retiring  passes  his  parish  on  to  his  son-in-law. 
The  priest's  wife  brings  with  her  a  tradition  of  good  house- 
keeping that  has  been  handed  down  in  the  families  of  the 
clergy  from  generation  to  generation.  She  knows  well  how 
to  bake  the  cabbage  or  meat  pasties  that  batiushka,  the 
Little  Father,  loves,  how  to  cure  ham,  to  salt  cabbage  and 
cucumbers,  to  make  all  kinds  of  jams,  kvass,  cherry,  rasp- 
berry and  black  currant  brandy,  and  birthday  cakes  and 


142  Russia  of  the  Russians 

sweets  for  Easter.  She  sews  and  embroiders  blouses  for  the 
boys  and  dresses  for  the  girls,  and  sees  that  all  the  children 
have  warm  felt  boots  in  the  winter,  and  the  boys  high  leather 
boots  and  the  girls  shoes  in  the  summer.  The  family  is 
always  a  large  one,  and  means  are  very  limited,  but  somehow 
the  popadia,  the  priest's  wife,  manages  to  make  ends  meet, 
and  her  cheerful  bustle  and  constant  forethought  make  the 
problem  of  life,  which  for  the  village  priest  is  not  at  all  meta- 
physical, but  consists  in  an  unceasing  pressure  of  petty  cares, 
less  harassing  than  it  might  otherwise  be.  If  she  dies  leaving 
little  children,  the  lot  of  the  widower  is  a  hard  one,  for  the 
Russian  priest  may  not  marry  a  second  time. 

The  children's  education  is  well  provided  for.  After  learn- 
ing the  elements  from  father  or  mother  at  home  or  in  the 
parish  school,  the  boys  are  sent  to  the  head  town  of  the 
government  to  the  School  for  the  Sons  of  the  Clergy  where 
they  are  educated  free  of  charge,  and  the  girls  to  the  Epar- 
chial  or  Diocesan  School  for  Girls  where  teaching  and  board 
are  also  free.  The  instruction  given  in  these  schools  is  very 
ecclesiastical  in  character.  Modern  languages  are  not  taught, 
but  a  great  deal  of  attention  is  paid  to  Church  Slavonic, 
Church  Music,  Divine  Service,  and  Church  History.  The  boys 
are  educated  with  a  view  to  their  becoming  clergymen,  and 
the  girls  with  a  view  to  their  becoming  clergymen's  wives. 
From  the  School  for  the  Sons  of  the  Clergy  the  boys  may 
pass  into  a  Theological  Seminary  where  they  are  trained  for 
the  priesthood.  But  only  a  small  proportion  of  priests'  sons 
follow  their  father's  profession.  Many  become  clerks  in 
various  Government  offices,  some,  either  by  their  own  efforts 
or  aided  by  their  father's  scanty  savings,  make  their  way  to 
the  University  or  Technical  Colleges  and  so  into  the  various 
lay  professions.  The  number  of  seminarists  who  enter  the 
priesthood  is  lessening  year  by  year,  and  the  question  of 
filling  the  vacancies  is  becoming  a  serious  one  in  many  parts 
of  Russia.  Priests'  daughters  after  leaving  the  Eparchial 
School  either  return  to  their  homes,  where  they  stay  until 


Church  and  People  143 

their  marriage  with  some  young  deacon  or  priest,  or  else 
become  teachers  in  the  parish  schools  or  in  the  Eparchial 
School  itself.  Some  break  through  the  magical  ecclesiastical 
circle  arid  go  to  the  cities  to  continue  their  education  in  the 
Women's  University  College  or  Medical  College,  or  in  one  of 
the  numerous  Kursy,  courses  of  lectures  or  higher  schools, 
pedagogical  or  technical,  or  in  language  schools,  in  dentists', 
nurses',  or  medical  assistants'  training  schools.  And  then 
they  become  country  school  teachers  or  doctors,  or  find  them- 
selves suddenly  deported  to  Siberia  for  having  joined  a 
socialistic  organisation,  or  simply  marry  a  student  and  share 
his  adventurous  lot. 

The  priest's  home  life  is  full  of  cares  and  anxieties,  but  it 
makes  him  very  human,  gives  him  a  very  real  sympathy  with 
the  cares  of  his  peasant  parishioners  which  are,  after  all,  in 
their  petty,  harassing,  economic  character,  very  like  his  own. 
But  there  are  the  broader  cares,  the  business  of  the  parish, 
the  care  of  souls,  and  these  he  heavily  upon  the  zealous  pastor. 
The  ways  of  his  ministry  are  definitely  appointed  and  strictly 
regulated.  His  duty  is  to  be  the  faithful  instrument  of  a 
complex  tradition.  First  of  all,  he  has  regularly  to  hold 
service  in  the  little  parish  church  and  in  outlying  chapels. 
But  to  hold  services  is  not  a  simple  matter.  Walking  down 
the  village  street  in  a  low-crowned  hat  and  blue  cassock  with 
a  cross  on  his  breast,  bearded,  long-haired,  he  is  simply  the 
village  "  pope,"  Batiushka,  the  Little  Father,  Father  Nikon, 
Vasili  or  Michael.  But  when  he  enters  the  church,  dons  his 
robe  of  cloth-of-gold,  and  the  altar  doors  open,  and  he 
comes  out  before  the  assembled  congregation  chanting  and 
swinging  a  censer  in  the  smoke  of  which  the  sacred  pictures 
in  their  glittering  frames  take  fantastic  forms,  and  the  shadows 
within  the  altar  become  full  of  mystery,  then  Father  Vasili 
becomes  another  being,  a  priest,  with  powers  of  which  some 
intimation  is  given  in  the  sad,  sweet,  slowly  rising  and  falling 
tones  of  the  choir,  the  familiar  but  solemn  Slavonic  words 
of  the  prayers  and  the  sonorous  responses  of  the  deacon. 


144 


Russia  of  the  Russians 


The  Church  touches  the  peasants  in  some  way  hard  to  define. 
They  stand  in  rows,  the  men  on  the  right,  the  women  on  the 
left,  with  folded  hands,  listening  to  the  music  and  chanting, 
and  gazing  at  the  sacred  pictures  of  the  Saviour,  the  Madonna, 
St.  George,  St.  Nicholas  the  Wonder-worker,  or  the  worn, 
stern,  ascetic  face  of  St.  Sergius  Radonezhsky.    They  bow 
and  kneel  when  the  priest  bids  them  do  so,  and  often  bow 
and  cross  themselves  when  a  wailing  note  in  the  music,  a 
name,  a  phrase  in  the  prayers  makes  a  sudden  appeal.  Some- 
times the  women  or  a  pilgrim  near  the  door  kneel  and  bow 
ecstatically,   touching  the   floor   with  their   foreheads   and 
whispering,  Gospodi  potnilui  (Lord  have  mercy).     The  priest 
closes  the  altar  doors  and  disappears  from  view,  opens  them 
again  and  reads  the  gospel  for  the  day,  turns  his  back  to  the 
congregation  and  bows  low  before  the  altar.    There  is  no 
break  in  the  service,  choir  and  deacon  take  up  the  burden 
when  the  priest's  voice  ceases,  and  in  that  world  of  strangely 
vibrating  and  plaintive  utterance  the  peasant  congregation 
is  held  for  two  hours  or  more  until  at  last  the  end  of  the  mass 
is  reached,  and  the  priest  advances  holding  out  the  Cross, 
and  the  parishioners  throng  round  to  kiss  it  and  to  receive  a 
blessing. 

Rarely  does  the  village  priest  preach  a  sermon  or  attempt 
to  make  the  church  service  a  vehicle  of  religious  instruction. 
The  mass  is  a  direct  appeal  to  the  emotions,  and  what  the 
congregation  chiefly  demands  from  the  priest  is  that  he  shall 
"  serve  well,"  that  is  to  say,  that  he  should  have  a  good 
voice,  a  good  ear,  and  that  he  should  be  able  to  carry  through 
without  blundering  the  complex  ritual  with  its  incessant 
demand  for  vigilance  in  detail.  A  good  priest  must  be  able 
to  serve  well  not  only  in  the  routine  of  low  masses,  but  in 
high  masses  on  the  great  festivals,  in  the  Liturgy  of  St.  Basil 
the  Great  and  other  Lenten  liturgies,  and  in  the  Christmas 
and  Easter  services.  It  is  the  Easter  service  that  puts  on 
the  village  priest  the  heaviest  strain.  For  six  weeks  he  has 
been  fasting,  refraining  absolutely  from  meat,  eggs,  and  milk 


i    FIFTEENTH   CENTURY    VILLAGE  CHURCH,    PAPERTNO 

{Novgorod  Government) 


Church  and  People 

products,  and  rarely  eating  fish.  There  are  many  extr^ 
in  Lent,  and  he  must  confess  his  parishioners  one  by  01 
Week  is  the  most  difficult  week  of  all  with  its 
prayers  and. its  atmosphere  of  deep  gloom,  and  wht*.  _ 
Eve  comes  Father  Vasili  is  thin  and  pale  and  his  eyes  have 
a  febrile  brightness.  Winter  is  over,  ice  and  snow  have 
melted,  the  trees  are  still  leafless,  the  fields  black  and  bare, 
and  the  wind  is  chilly,  but  there  is  a  sense  of  coming  Spring 
in  the  air.  The  service  begins  two  hours  before  midnight. 
All  the  peasants  of  the  neighbourhood  are  there,  and  the 
schoolmaster,  the  village  tradesman,  the  gentry  of  the  parish 
and,  it  may  be,  a  few  passing  artisans  and  tramps.  Up  till 
midnight  the  music  is  low  and  dreary.  Then  there  is  a 
restless  movement.  Every  member  of  the  congregation 
lights  a  candle.  Youths  fire  off  guns  on  the  church  steps. 
The  priest  and  deacon  advance  toward  the  door,  peasants 
grasp  the  ikons  and  church  banners,  and  with  candles,  ikons, 
and  banners,  and  with  singing  the  congregation  walks  out 
into  the  churchyard  and  in  procession  around  the  church. 
Before  they  re-enter  the  priest  cries,  "  Christ  is  risen."  The 
congregation  answers,  "He  is  risen  indeed ! "  Thp  cfcoir 
breaks  into  joyful  singing  and  the  happy  maes  of  Easter 
morning  begins.  After  the  service  is  over  the  .priest  .njust 
bless  the  kulichi,  Easter  cakes,  and  the  paskha,  a  sweetmeat 
Tirade  of  sour  milk,  eggs,  and  sugar,  which  the  peasant  women 
Trave  brought  to  church  with  them.  Then  come  the  days  of 
visrT5Ti6n  'and  feasting,  long  journeys  from  village  to  village, 
with  prayers  in  each  cottage,  and  here  a  glass  of  tea  with 
kulich  and  paskha,  and  there  a  glass  of  vodka,  so  that  often 
at  the  end  of  a  long  day  from  weariness  and  from  much 
eating  and  drinking  after  the  long  fast  priest  and  deacon 
are  barely  able  to  mumble  the  words  of  the  prayers. 

So  the  year  goes  round  with  its  long  calendar  of  fasts  and 
feasts  in  all  of  which  the  priest  must  take  the  leading  part. 
There  are  four  great  fasts,  Lent,  which  lasts  seven  weeks, 
including  Maslanitsa,  Butter  or  Carnival  Week,  when,  though 


/ 

/ 

/ 


146  Russia  of  the  Russians 


/ 


milk,  butter,  and  eggs  are  permitted,  meat  is  forbidden ; 
the  fast  of  the  Assumption  of  the  Virgin,  which  lasts  two 
/  weeks,  the  fast  before  St.  Peter's  Day,  and  the  fast  before 

Christmas,  which  lasts  from  November  14  until  Christmas 
Eve.  The  priest  must  observe  these  fasts  even  if  others  are 
negligent,  and  he  must  also  fast  weekly  on  Wednesdays  and 
Fridays.  Then  there  are  the  extra  services,  on  the  day  of 
the  patron  saint  of  the  village,  for  instance,  or  in  time  of 
drought  when  priest  and  peasants  go  into  the  fields  to  pray 
for  rain,  or  on  a  day  on  which  the  village  community  has 
vowed  to  hold  service  in  honour  of  a  saint  who  has  stayed 
an  epidemic  among  the  cattle  or  in  some  way  brought  an 
answer  to  prayers.  There  are  prayers  to  be  said,  too,  when 
the  cattle  are  driven  out  to  pasture  in  spring,  and  there  are 
name-days  when  special  services  are  sometimes  ordered  by 
the  more  well-to-do  families,  and  panikhidy,  or  masses  for 
the  repose  of  the  souls  of  the  deceased,  and  akathists,  or 
hymns  in  honour  of  the  Saviour,  the  Virgin,  and  the  Saints, 
to  be  sung  on  special  occasions.  To  carry  out  the  purely 
ritual  duties  of  his  profession  is  for  the  village  priest  no 
light  task. 

Another  important  part  of  his  duties  is  to  explain  the  mean- 
ing of  this  ritual.  It  would  be  a  mistake  to  imagine  that  the 
peasants'  experience  in  the  Church  is  nothing  more  than  a  vague, 
aesthetic  emotion.  They  have  certain  religious  conceptions 
which  are  formed  partly  from  words  in  the  service  which 
they  vaguely  understand,  more  rarely  from  the  reading  of  the 
Gospel  and  lives  of  the  saints,  partly  from  the  floating  mass 
of  custom  and  legend,  and  partly  from  direct  instruction. 
Instruction  is  given  by  the  priests  to  the  children  in  the 
parish  schools  maintained  by  the  Holy  Synod,  and  also  in 
the  Zemstvo  schools  and  those  maintained  by  the  Ministry 
of  Public  Instruction.  In  these  schools  the  children  are 
taught  to  read  Church  Slavonic  when  they  are  barely  able 
to  read  Russian,  which  is  very  much  as  though  English 
children  were  taught  to  read  Wycliffe's  Bible  in  the  infant 


Church  and  People  147 

classes.  Church  Slavonic  is  a  slightly  modified  form  of  the 
Bulgarian  language  as  spoken  about  the  ninth  century  in 
the  neighbourhood  of  Serres  in  Macedonia,  and  as  used  in 
the  translation  of  the  scriptures  made  by  the  Slavonic  mis- 
sionaries, Cyril  and  Methodius,  and  in  the  services  of  the 
Orthodox  Church.  The  alphabet  is  different  from  the  Russian, 
and  there  are  many  words,  grammatical  forms  and  phonetic 
combinations  which  are  not  to  be  found  in  the  Russian 
language.  Church  Slavonic  as  taught  in  the  parish  schools 
certainly  does  not  develop  the  intelligence  of  Russian  children, 
but  some  learn  enough  to  catch  a  good  many  fragments  of 
meaning  in  the  words  of  the  Church  Service.  The  priest 
gives  instruction  in  Catechism  and  Church  History,  too,  but 
it  is  only  a  rare  pastor  who  succeeds  in  making  these  dry 
bones  live.  The  religious  instruction  given  in  the  schools  is, 
as  a  rule,  a  numbing,  deadening  thing,  and  probably  con- 
tributes far  less  to  the  formation  of  the  people's  religious 
conceptions  than  the  reading  of  the  lives  of  the  saints  or  the 
stories  of  wandering  "  brothers,"  or  the  talks  of  pilgrims 
during  long  journeys  on  foot  to  the  great  shrines.  For  the 
Russian  people  talk  about  religious  questions,  are  perpetually 
interested  in  them,  in  some  restless,  probing  way  of  their 
own. 

The  personal  character  of  the  priest  counts  for  a  great 
deal  in  the  life  of  the  parish.  "  Like  pope,  like  parish,"  is  a 
Russian  saying.  Sometimes  priests  are  hopelessly  ignorant 
and  stupid,  and  hold  their  position  in  spite  of  obvious  in- 
capacity only  through  the  protection  of  powerful  relatives. 
Sometimes  they  give  way  to  drink  and,  as  a  rule,  priests  do 
not  by  their  example  encourage  abstinence  in  their  flocks. 
In  the  North  priests  have  the  reputation  of  being  grasping, 
and  in  the  South  where  parishes  are  smaller  and  glebe-lands 
larger  and  more  fertile,  they  are  accused  of  indolence  and 
moral  laxity.  The  average  priest  is  neither  conspicuously 
devout  nor  conspicuously  negligent.  He  is  a  hearty  fellow 
with  a  broad  accent,  rather  overburdened  by  the  cares  of 


/ 


148  Russia  of  the  Russians 

his  office  and  by  family  cares,  not  keenly  intelligent,  but 
shrewd,  observant,  with  common  sense  and  humour.  He  is 
not  interested  in  theoretical  questions,  is  sincere  in  his  religi- 
ous beliefs,  takes  the  world  as  he  finds  it,  and  feels  thoroughly 
at  home  in  it,  and  able  to  enjoy  its  good  things  when  they 
come  to  him.  Often  he  subscribes  to  a  city  newspaper  and 
follows  in  his  evening  leisure  the  course  of  events  in  the  big 
world.  He  has  the  peasant's  liking  for  foreign  politics  and 
is  always  glad  to  launch  into  a  vague  and  placid  discussion 
of  the  Panama  Canal  question,  or  the  plans  of  the  German 
Emperor,  or  the  Suffragette  movement  in  England.  There 
are  not  a  few  priests  who  delight  in  their  office,  who  are  full 
of  a  warm  and  simple  faith,  and  who  toil  in  poor  parishes 
all  their  lives  long  without  any  other  object  than  that  of 
doing  good.  The  wonder,  considering  all  the  conditions  of 
service,  is  not  that  there  are  so  few  good  priests,  but  that 
there  are  so  many  of  them. 

For  the  position  of  the  village  priest  is  greatly  complicated 
by  his  relations  with  his  superiors  and  with  the  outside  world 
generally.  He  is  under  constant  observation,  is  subject  to 
perpetual  interference.  His  immediate  concern  is  with  the 
Blagochinny,  or  superintendent,  usually  the  incumbent  of  a 
large  and  well-to-do  parish,  who  has  oversight  over  several 
neighbouring  parishes  and  keeps  watch  over  the  behaviour 
of  the  priests,  inquires  into  their  complaints,  examines  the 
parish  registers,  and  investigates  the  financial  affairs  of  each 
parish,  which  are  managed  by  the  priest  in  conjunction  with 
an  elective  church  elder  and  a  parish  council.  On  all  these 
matters  the  Blagochinny  reports  to  the  bishop  of  the  diocese 
or  his  assistants.  Sometimes  appeal  is  made  directly  by 
parishioners  to  the  bishop  in  the  head  town  of  the  govern- 
ment. But  the  oversight  of  the  Blagochinny  concerns  not 
only  the  spiritual  and  economical  affairs  of  the  parish.  It 
has  a  political  object  also.  The  Russian  Church  is  subject 
to  the  State.  Above  the  village  priest  is  a  hierarchy  of 
canons,  bishops,  and  archbishops,  and  the  three  Metropolitans 


Church  and  People  149 

of  St.  Petersburg,  Moscow,  and  Kiev.  But  this  hierarchy  is 
under  the  control  of  a  lay  institution,  the  Holy  Synod,  into 
which  Metropolitans  and  Bishops  enter  as  members,  but  of 
which  the  Oberprocuror  or  Chief  Procurator,  a  layman,  and 
member  of  the  Cabinet,  is  the  head.  There  is  a  striking 
contrast  between  the  German  title  for  the  Minister  for  the 
Church  and  the  traditional  Byzantine  terminology  employed 
in  ecclesiastical  ritual.  The  Synod  is,  in  fact,  a  foreign 
institution.  It  was  established  by  Peter  the  Great  in  con- 
nection with  his  general  reform  of  administrative  institutions 
and  was  formed  on  Protestant  models.  The  office  of  Patri- 
arch, who  was  head  of  the  Russian  Church  during  the  Moscow 
period,  and  who  occupied  a  position  corresponding  with  that 
of  the  Patriarchs  of  other  autocephalous  Eastern  churches 
was  abolished,  experience  in  Moscow  having  demonstrated 
that  the  power  of  the  Patriarch  might  rival  that  of  the  Tsar. 
And  Peter,  who  was  determined  to  maintain  the  authority 
of  the  State  at  all  costs,  forced  the  Church  into  the  rigid 
framework  of  his  bureaucratic  system.  It  was  characteristic 
of  him  that  in  the  ancient  monastery  of  St.  Michael  in  the 
Ukraine  he  set  the  Imperial  arms,  the  double-headed  eagle, 
above  the  golden  cross  that  surmounted  the  cupola. 

The  Church  has  thus  become  a  bureaucratic  institution. 
And  the  village  priest  is  made  constantly  to  feel  that  he  is 
not  only  a  servant  of  the  Church,  but  a  subordinate  member 
of  the  bureaucracy,  a  Government  official.  He  is  responsible 
for  the  conduct  of  the  parish  school,  for  instance,  which  is 
maintained  by  the  Holy  Synod.  But  the  parish  school  is 
frowned  on  by  progressive  people  in  the  neighbourhood,  and 
the  priest  often  comes  into  conflict  with  Zemstvo  employees 
and  country  gentlemen  on  this  account.  Often,  too,  the 
priest  is  compelled  to  play  the  part  of  an  informer.  If  there 
is  a  Zemstvo  school  in  his  parish  he  must  note  the  behaviour 
of  the  teacher,  report  on  his  or  her  political  opinions,  give 
warning  to  the  authorities  if  the  teacher  lends  books  freely 
to  the  peasants  or  converses  with  them  on  political  subjects. 


150  Russia  of  the  Russians 

If  the  young  men  of  his  parish  display  public  enterprise, 
organise  a  fire  brigade  or  a  co-operative  society,  it  often 
happens  that  the  priest  is  set  to  watch  their  movements  and 
to  place  impediments  in  their  way.  The  position  of  the 
priests  has  been  especially  trying  in  this  respect  during  the 
last  few  years  of  political  conflict.  They  are  constantly 
associated  with  the  uriadniks  or  rural  policemen  in  the  sup- 
pression of  manifestations  of  political  sentiment  disagreeable 
to  the  Government.  The  priests  are  torn  between  the  fear 
of  endless  conflict  with  their  parishioners  on  political  grounds, 
and  the  fear  of  incurring  the  displeasure  of  their  superiors. 
Many  simply  obey  orders,  become  informers  and  zealous 
members  of  the  reactionary  parties,  and  try  to  secure  their 
position  within  the  parish  by  arousing  fanatical  reactionary 
feeling  among  the  peasantry.  The  better  men  suffer  bitterly 
in  a  perpetual  conflict  between  conscience  and  administra- 
tive compulsion.  Political  pressure  on  the  priesthood  reached 
its  culminating  point  in  the  electoral  campaign  of  1912,  when 
the  Holy  Synod,  in  order  to  secure  a  reactionary  majority 
in  the  Duma,  mobilised  the  priests  in  support  of  the  reaction- 
ary candidates.  The  plan  failed  because  a  great  many 
priests,  shocked  at  the  profanation  of  their  office  for  elec- 
tioneering purposes,  simply  voted  as  they  were  told  not  to 
and  risked  the  consequences.  In  all  four  Dumas  priests 
have  been  among  the  deputies,  but  those  who,  in  the  first 
two  Dumas,  spoke  or  voted  against  the  Government — like 
the  devout  and  earnest  Viatka  priest,  Father  Tikhvinsky, 
who  in  the  name  of  Christianity  protested  against  capital 
punishment — have  been  unfrocked  as  a  penalty,  and  have, 
with  great  difficulty,  made  their  way  into  other  professions. 
In  the  Third  and  Fourth  Dumas  most  of  the  priests  have  been 
members  of  the  reactionary  parties. 

The  position  of  the  village  priest  is  typical  of  that  of  the 
whole  of  the  Russian  clergy.  There  are  differences  of  wealth 
and  position.  In  the  country  the  priest's  life  is  very  like 
the   peasant's.      In   small    towns    he   has    to    do    almost 


Church  and  People  151 

exclusively  with  artisans,  small  tradesmen,  and  minor  officials. 
In  the  larger  towns  his  lot  is  thrown  among  the  merchants, 
who  hold  fast  to  traditional  observances  closely  interwoven 
with  ecclesiastical  ritual.  Then  there  are  differences  deter- 
mined by  the  character  of  various  towns.  The  priest  in 
charge  of  some  ancient  chapel  in  the  sleepy,  deserted  city  of 
Novgorod  naturally  leads  a  life  very  different  from  that  of 
the  incumbent  of  a  parish  in  a  busy,  modern  seaport  like 
Odessa.  In  districts  where  other  confessions  are  strongly 
represented,  in  Catholic  Poland,  for  instance,  amongst  the 
Mohammedans  on  the  Volga,  or  in  districts  where  dissent 
prevails,  the  office  of  the  Orthodox  priest  assumes  a  militant 
nationalist  character.  In  the  capitals,  again,  the  priests  live 
the  hurried,  nervous  life  of  a  cosmopolitan  world.  The  in- 
cumbents of  the  larger  churches  receive  a  good  income,  while 
the  cathedral  clergy  prosper  greatly,  as  may  be  easily  seen 
by  comparing  a  haggard  and  unkempt  country  deacon  with 
one  of  the  stout,  florid,  broad-chested  deacons  of  the  Kazan 
Cathedral.  A  deacon  with  a  good  sounding  bass  was,  until 
recently,  almost  in  as  great  demand  in  the  cities  as  an  opera 
singer,  and  was  paid  incredible  sums  for  singing  the  responses 
at  weddings  in  wealthy  merchants'  families. 

The  parochial  priests  are  called  the  "  white  clergy."    The 
"  black  clergy  "  are  the  monks,  and  between  the  two  there 

is   a  striking   difference.    Monasteries  have 
Monasticism.    played  an  important  part  in  Russian  history. 

The  fierce  self-mortification  of  the  monks 
of  the  Kievo-Pechorskaia  Lavra,  founded  in  1062  in  Kiev, 
deeply  impressed  the  imagination  of  the  Southern  Russians 
and  contributed  to  the  spread  of  a  strongly  ascetic  form  of 
Christianity.  In  the  north-eastern  forests  monasteries  were 
the  chief  centres  of  colonisation.  A  hermit  retired  into  the 
forest  to  devote  himself  to  prayer  and  fasting,  disciples 
gathered  around  him,  and  the  fame  of  his  miraculous  powers 
attracted  people  from  the  settled  region,  until  gradually  a 
village  or  town  grew  up,  the  forest  was  felled  and  the  soil 

II— <240O) 


152  Russia  of  the  Russians 

brought  under  cultivation.  The  new  monastery  in  its  turn 
sent  out  colonists  farther  afield,  and  so  the  process  continued 
indefinitely.  Of  great  importance  as  a  colonising  centre  was 
the  great  monastery  of  the  Trinity  not  far  from  Moscow, 
founded  in  the  fourteenth  century  by  St.  Sergius  Radonezh- 
sky.  A  very  large  number  of  monasteries  were  founded  in 
and  around  Novgorod  and  many  of  them  are  still  in  existence. 
At  one  time  the  monasteries  promoted  literature  and  learn- 
ing ;  monks  translated  devotional  works  from  the  Greek, 
or  transcribed  Bulgarian  translations,  copied  and  illuminated 
manuscripts,  and  wrote  historical  annals.  Then  came  the 
inevitable  moral  decline.  Peter  the  Great  and  Catherine 
took  strong  measures  against  the  monasteries  and  convents 
and  largely  reduced  their  number,  but  Alexander  I  reversed 
this  policy.  During  the  nineteenth  century  the  Government 
at  intervals  encouraged  the  development  of  monasticism, 
probably  in  the  hope  that  it  would  serve  to  buttress  up  the 
traditional  system. 

The  monasteries  still  play  an  important  part  in  the  life  of 
the  Russian  Church  for  two  reasons.  In  the  first  place,  many 
of  them  are  objects  of  popular  veneration  on  account  of 
their  historical  associations,  or  on  account  of  the  miracle- 
working  shrines,  the  relics  of  famous  saints  which  they  con- 
tain. Nearly  all  the  older  monasteries  were  the  scenes  of 
the  labours  of  one  of  the  hundreds  of  saints  in  the  Russian 
calendar,  or  contain  an  ikon  that,  according  to  legend, 
miraculously  fell  from  heaven — as,  for  instance,  the  Iberian 
Madonna  in  a  monastery  on  an  island  in  Lake  Valdai — or 
one  that  shed  tears  of  blood,  or  turned  back  from  a  town  an 
invading  army,  as  did  the  Madonna  at  Pochaiev  in  Volhynia 
when  the  Tartar  hordes  were  advancing.  In  the  course  of 
centuries  a  body  of  legend  has  gathered  around  these  shrines, 
endless  stories  are  related  about  their  miracle-working  powers, 
and  the  Madonnas  of  Kazan,  Tikhvin,  and  Pochaiev  have  a 
powerful  hold  on  the  popular  imagination.  And  every  year 
to  all  these  shrines  pilgrims  come  flocking,  yielding  to  that 


Church  and  People  153 

impulse  to  wander,  that  centuries  of  roving  over  the  plain 
have  made  a  part  of  the  Russian  nature.  Mile  after  mile 
the  pilgrims  tramp,  men  and  women,  by  forest  and  river,  in 
rain  and  sunshine,  carrying  black  bread  with  them  or  begging 
shelter  and  food  by  the  way  "  for  Christ's  sake."  They 
gather  at  the  shrine  and  kiss  the  relics,  and  weep  and  pray, 
and  feel  themselves  wrapped  and  safely  guarded  in  a  national 
tradition  that  brings  heaven  nearer.  They  exchange  news 
and  impressions,  argue  about  religious  matters,  develop  their 
shrewd  philosophy  and  let  fall  curiously  wise  sayings. 

There  are  dark  sides  to  the  picture.  Vagabonds  join  in 
the  throng  and  cheat  and  delude  the  unwary.  And  the  con- 
duct of  the  monks  in  charge  of  the  shrine  often  has  a  deprav- 
ing effect.  Pilgrims  come  to  a  monastery  on  the  eve  of  a 
festival,  and  find  the  monks  sleeping  off  the  effects  of  a 
drinking-bout,  while  the  precincts  of  the  monastery  are  a 
scene  of  licence.  In  the  morning  the  monks,  dirty  and 
bloated,  come  out  in  procession  with  ikons  and  banners  and 
the  pilgrims  stupidly  follow  them  into  the  church  where 
ieromonachs,  or  monks  in  orders,  blunder  hoarsely  through 
the  mass.  In  some  great  monasteries,  like  the  Lavra  in  Kiev, 
the  monks  systematically  exploit  the  ignorance  and  simpli- 
city of  the  worshippers.  And  generally  in  the  monasteries 
in  or  near  the  cities  the  idea  that  monks  live  a  strict,  devout, 
and  noble  life  seems  to  be  an  exploded  fiction.  The  curious 
thing  is  that  the  people  seem  to  take  the  laxity  of  the  monks 
for  granted,  and  continue  to  venerate  the  shrines  in  spite  of 
the  surrounding  demoralisation.  Not  all  monasteries  have 
been  culpable  in  this  respect.  Much  depends  upon  the  firm- 
ness of  the  abbots  or  igumeni,  among  whom  there  are  men 
of  remarkable  administrative  capacity,  and  a  considerable 
number  of  monasteries  are  free  from  reproach.  The  con- 
vents have  a  better  reputation  than  the  monasteries  for 
industry  and  order. 

Sometimes  in  the  neighbourhood  of  a  shrine  lives  a  recluse 
of  lofty  character  and  great  spiritual   tact,  to  whom  the 


154  Russia  of  the  Russians 

troubled  and  anxious  come  for  advice  and- consolation.  Such 
recluses,  startsy,  or  elders,  as  they  are  called,  were  formerly 
to  be*  met  with  much  more  frequently  than  they  are  now. 
One  of  the  most  famous  was  Amvrosiy  (Ambrose)  of  the 
Optyn  Monastery  near  Kaluga,  the  original  of  the  elder 
Zosima  in  Dostoievsky's  The  Brothers  Karamazov.  Often  an 
element  of  genuine  piety  is  brought  into  monasteries  by 
devout  peasants  who,  after  having  lived  honourably  in  the 
world,  take  the  vows  and  retire  to  spend  their  last  days  in 
quietness  and  prayer.  And  for  many  nervous  and  harassed 
women  convents  serve  as  a  home  of  rest.  A  merchant's 
wife  will  frequently  prefer  life  in  a  convent  to  a  sanatorium. 
As  a  rule,  however,  the  life  of  monks  and  nuns  is  a  dull, 
uninspired  round  of  formal  duties.  The  monasteries  alto- 
gether considering  their  enormous  wealth  are  amazingly 
unproductive.  They  support,  with  a  few  insignificant 
exceptions,  no  charitable  institutions,  maintain  no  industries 
except  the  manufacture  of  candles  and  ikons  and  the  printing 
of  ecclesiastical  literature,  and  contribute  no  money  for 
national  purposes. 

But  for  the  Church  they  exercise  a  second  important  func- 
tion. They  serve  as  administrative  training  schools,  recruit- 
ing grounds  for  the  hierarchy.  Bishops,  archbishops,  and 
metropolitans  must  be  celibates,  that  is  to  say,  they  are 
members  of  the  "  black  clergy,"  live  in  monasteries,  or  in 
houses  that  rank  as  such,  and  are  appointed  from  among 
archimandrites  and  abbots.  Thus  the  married  clergy  are 
governed  by  celibates  who  in  their  turn  occupy  prominent 
positions  in  the  bureaucracy  and  are  subject  to  lay  authority. 
The  double  function  of  the  monasteries  has  a  curious  effect 
on  the  hierarchy.  On  the  one  hand,  they  are  guardians  of 
customs  that  deeply  impress  the  popular  imagination  and 
awaken  religious  feeling.  On  the  other  hand,  they  provide 
administrators  who  occupy  their  place  in  a  strictly  co-ordin- 
ated bureaucratic  system.  The  result  is  that  the  ritual 
function  of  the  monasteries  is  subordinated  to  administrative 


THE   METROPOLITAN    VLADIMIR   OF   ST.    PETERSBURG 


Church  and  People  155 

objects,  and  the  appeal  to  the  popular  imagination  is 
carefully  calculated  and  regulated  so  that  it  may  further 
those  political  ends. that  the  bureaucracy  has  in  view.  The 
working  of  this  system  was  shown  in  a  curious  way  in  Vol- 
hynia  a  few  years  ago.  The  Archbishop  of  Volhynia,  Antony, 
a  very  able  and  energetic  man,  and  Archimandrite  Vitaly, 
of  the  Pochaiev  Lavra,  also  a  man  of  restless  energy,  were 
both  ardent  supporters  of  the  old  regime  and  strongly  hostile 
to  constitutionalism.  Amongst  the  throngs  of  pilgrims  who 
came  to  worship  at  the  shrine  of  the  Madonna,  they  tried  to 
promote  a  violently  reactionary  popular  movement.  In  a 
fanatical  young  monk  called  Iliodor  (Heliodorus)  they  found 
the  agitator  they  needed  for  their  purpose.  Iliodor's  fervid 
eloquence,  his  violent  attacks  on  Jews,  constitutionalists 
and  revolutionaries,  strangely  combined  with  denunciations 
of  landlords  and  capitalists  generally,  had  an  electrifying 
effect  on  the  crowd.  Iliodor's  fame  spread  far  and  wide, 
and  he  did  actually  succeed  in  evoking  a  strong  reactionary 
movement  among  the  more  ignorant  of  the  South  Russian 
peasantry. 

But  the  sequel  was  unexpected.  From  the  Pocha'ev  Lavra 
Iliodor  went  to  Tsaritsyn  on  the  Volga,  where  he  continued 
his  denunciations  of  the  enemies  of  the  Tsar  and  true  religion. 
Immense  crowds  gathered  around  him,  for  his  eloquence 
seems  to  have  been  inspired  by  sincerity.  His  preaching 
became  more  and  more  democratic  in  character,  he  pleaded 
the  cause  of  the  people  not  only  against  the  intelligentsia, 
journalists,  and  revolutionaries,  not  only  against  landlords 
and  wealthy  tradesmen,  but  also  against  officials,  governors, 
and  ministers.  And,  finally,  he  began  to  denounce  the  Holy 
Synod — still  in  the  name  of  the  Tsar.  The  Synod  took 
measures  against  Iliodor,  but  he  was  supported  by  the  Bishop 
of  Saratov,  a  turbulent  ecclesiastic  named  Hermogen.  And 
it  was  with  the  utmost  difficulty  that  the  Synod  finally  suc- 
ceeded in  having  Iliodor  arrested  and  conveyed  to  an  obscure 
monastery,   where,   after  several  months  of  reflection,   he 


156  Russia  of  the  Russians 

finally  seceded  from  the  Orthodox  Church.  His  patron, 
Bishop  Hermogen,  was  removed  from  the  Saratov  see.  This 
attempt  to  use  the  religious  fanaticism  of  the  masses  as  a 
means  of  combating  the  revolutionary  movement  ended  in 
the  religious  movement  assuming  a  revolutionary  character. 
So  startling  and  unexpected  are  the  manifestations  of  mass 
psychology  in  a  time  of  unrest. 

The  Church  authorities  were  largely  concerned  in  the  organi- 
sation of  the  reactionary  parties,  the  union  of  the  Russian 
people  and  others,  which  by  their  excesses,  their  participa- 
tion in  the  anti-Semitic  riots  and  massacres,  and  their  ex- 
treme violence  of  language  in  the  Duma,  in  their  meetings 
and  in  their  Press  organs,  have  given  the  saddest  possible 
demonstration  of  the  results  of  using  the  Church  as  a  political 
weapon. 

There  is  in  the  Russian  people  a  capacity  for  religious 
emotion  which  the  official  Church  with  all  its  wealth  of  tra- 
dition and  complexity  of  ritual  fails  wholly 

Er^ti^naSs       to  sa**sfy»  ^d  which  seeks  an  outlet  in  all 

kinds  of  irregular  ways.  Sometimes  these 
ways  are  tacitly  recognised  by  the  usage  of  the  Church  and 
do  not  lead  to  open  conflict  with  the  ecclesiastical  authorities^ 
There  are  the  pilgrimages  to  the  shrines,  for  instance,  with 
their  halo  of  romance  and  adventure.  Sometimes  in  the 
towns  may  be  seen  a  strannik,  or  wanderer,  a  man  who  in 
time  of  sickness,  or  in  sign  of  repentance  for  crime  has  taken 
a  vow  of  perpetual  pilgrimage  from  shrine  to  shrine.  Bare- 
foot, often  bare-headed,  with  iron-tipped  staff  in  hand,  he 
tramps  year  after  year  from  north  to  south  and  from  east 
to  west  until  death  comes.  Often  such  men  are  sternly  and 
fanatically  religious,  but  often  enough  they  become  simply 
jolly,  careless  tramps  who  love  the  open  road  for  its  own  sake 
and  feel  thoroughly  at  home  among  professional  vagabonds. 
Occasionally  the  sirannik  preaches  or  sells  tracts  or  books  of 
devotion.  There  are  often  wanderers  who  collect  money  for 
the  building  or  restoration  of  churches.    Such  a  man  may 


Church  and  People  157 

be  a  peasant,  who,  when  his  wife  has  died  and  his  sons  have 
grown  to  manhood,  feels  impelled  to  abandon  worldly  cares 
and  to  spend  his  declining  years  in  religious  service. 

The  thirst  for  something  more  than  is  given  by  the  ordinary 
routine  of  church  services  finds  satisfaction  again,  in  the 
sermons  or  counsels  of  popular  preachers,  either  priests  or 
laymen.  Besides  the  preaching  gift  such  a  preacher  may, 
like  the  famous  Father  John  of  Kronstadt,  have  a  gift  of 
healing,  and  then  he  attracts  an  enormous  number  of  fol- 
lowers. With  such  movements  the  Church  authorities  have 
difficulty  in  coping  because  they  inevitably  tend  to  assume 
an  irregular  and  sectarian  character.  Father  John  was  a 
consistent  supporter  of  the  State  and  the  official  Church, 
but  his  followers,  the  so-called  Johannites,  have  simply  re- 
volted against  Church  discipline.  In  all  parts  of  the  country 
there  are  brothers  to  whom  the  common  people  constantly 
come  for  guidance  and  healing.  Recently  in  a  remote  corner 
of  Bessarabia,  on  the  frontiers  of  Roumania,  the  preaching 
of  a  monk  named  Innokenty  evoked  such  enthusiasm  amongst 
the  Moldavian  peasantry  of  the  region,  that  the  civil  authori- 
ties in  alarm  arrested  Innokenty  and  exiled  him  to  a  northern 
government,  whither,  in  the  depth  of  winter  with  babes  in 
arms,  .devoted  adherents  followed  him.  In  St.  Petersburg 
and  Moscow  there  are  several  "  brothers  "  whose  names  are 
popular  among  the  common  people.  Occasionally  lay 
brothers  secure  an  astonishing  influence  in  the  higher  circles 
of  society  and  at  Court,  and  indirectly  exercise  political 
influence. 

But  religious  emotion  continually  breaks  the  bounds  of 
the  official  Church  and  finds  expression  in  the  sects.  Russian 
dissent  is  one  of  the  most  interesting  manifestations  of  Rus- 
sian popular  feeling,  and  is  quite  as  characteristic  as  any 
political  movement.  Until  April,  1905,  when  the  Tsar  issued 
his  Toleration  Edict,  the  lot  of  dissenters  was  a  bitter 
one.  They  were  subjected  to  persecution,  were  regarded  as 
enemies  of  public  order,  their  places  of  worship  were  closed 


158  Russia  of  the  Russians 

or  carefully  watched  by  the  police,  frequently  their  leaders 
were  imprisoned  and  exiled,  and  they  themselves  transported 
in  whole  communities.  All  the  powerful  apparatus  of.  the 
State  was  brought  to  bear  against  them.  There  was  a  time 
when  schismatics  were  burned  at  the  stake,  and  the  sum 
total  of  the  dissenters'  sufferings  represents  a  very  real 
martyrdom. 

The  most  important  religion  outside  the  State  Church  is 
that  of  the  Raskolmki  "  Schismatics,"  "  Old  Ritualists,"  or 

"  Old    Believers,"    who    seceded    from    the 
Dissent.        official  Church  in   the  seventeenth  century. 

There  are  no  people  .quite  like  the  Old 
Believers  in  all  the  world.  They  seceded  from  the 
powerful  official  Church  and  endured  cruel  persecution,  not 
for  any  doctrinal  reasons,  but  because  they  preferred  mis- 
prints and  mistranslations  to  correct  translations,  because 
they  preferred  the  older  spelling  of  the  name  "  Jesus,"  and 
because  they  insisted  on  making  the  sign  of  the  cross  with 
two  fingers  instead  of  three.  The  movement  arose  owing 
to  the  attempt  made  by  the  Patriarch  Nikon  in  the  reign  of 
the  Tsar  Alexis  Mikhailovich  to  bring  the  ritual  and  the 
literature  of  the  Russian  Church  into  conformity  with  the 
Greek  originals,  and  to  correct  errors  of  translation  and 
interpretation  that  had  crept  in  through  sheer  ignorance. 
It  was  against  these  perfectly  reasonable  innovations  that 
the  Old  Believers  raised  vehement  protest.  They  wished  to 
retain  the  old  forms  absolutely  intact,  and  condemned  Nikon's 
revision  as  a  heresy  akin  to  the  Latin  heresy,  which  after  the 
occupation  of  Moscow  during  the  Time  of  Trouble  by  Roman 
Catholic  Polish  troops  the  common  people  regarded  with 
especial  antipathy.  In  its  essence  the  Old  Believers  move- 
ment was  a  conservative  revolt ;  it  was  as  though  English 
people  were  to  hold  indignation  meetings  and  form  a  separate 
Church  in  defence  of  the  Authorised  as  against  the  Revised 
Version  of  the  Bible.  The  leaders  of  the  Old  Believers 
were  persecuted,  and  the  movement  rapidly  grew   through 


Church  and  People  159 

persecution.  It  assumed  a  democratic  character,  it  became 
a  protest  against  arrogant  authority,  a  protest  against  those 
representatives  of  the  State  who. persecuted  "traditional 
Christianity,"  and  openly  supported  heretics,  in  the  long  run 
a  protest  against  the  State  itself,  involving  a  belief  that  the 
Tsar  was  antichrist.  The  movement  was  ennobled  by  suf- 
fering, details  of  ritual  unimportant  in  themselves  gathered 
far-reaching,  heroic  associations  and  became  symbols  of  pro- 
found emotions.  The  old  books,  the  old  ikons,  the  old  prayers 
and  words  and  forms  became  the  more  precious  because 
worldly  powers  denied  them,  and  because  their  retention 
involved  a  continual  sacrifice  of  comfort,  ease,  and  physical 
security. 

The  Old  Believers  fled  to  the  forests  of  Eastern  and  Nor- 
thern Russia  and  founded  new  settlements  where  they  might 
worship  in  peace.  But  they  were  scattered  and  with  diffi- 
culty maintained  mutual  intercourse.  The  separation  from 
the  official  Church  raised  problems  of  dogma  and  practice 
which  it  was  not  easy  to  solve.  The  Old  Believers  had  no 
bishops  of  their  own,  and  the  question  of  the  ordination  of 
priests  was  one  of  almost  insuperable  difficulty.  The  diffi- 
culty was  surmounted  for  a  short  time  by  winning  over 
priests  of  the  Orthodox  Church,  but  this  was  no  permanent 
solution.  Some  decided  that  no  priests  were  necessary ; 
and  these  became  known  as  the  Bezpopovtsy  or  the  popeless 
ones.  The  Bezpopovtsy  in  their  turn  split  up  into  a  variety 
of  sects,  for  the  religious  emotion  aroused  by  the  Old  Believers 
movement  and  the  peculiar  conditions  in  which  they  lived 
led  to  endless  disputes  in  theological  questions,  and  to  the 
constant  appearance  of  new  leaders,  and  the  formation  of 
new  sects,  or  "  interpretations "  (tolky).  The  extremists 
amongst  the  Old  Believers,  the  Bieguny  or  Stranniky  were 
convinced  anarchists,  denied  the  State  absolutely,  refused 
to  have  any  intercourse  with  the  authorities,  rejected  pass- 
ports, and  were,  in  consequence,  condemned  to  a  life  of 
wandering,  of  constant  escape  from  the  police ;   hence  their 


160  Russia  of  the  Russians 

name  of  Bieguny  (runners).  The  Old  Believers  lived  in  an 
atmosphere  of  legend,  dark  superstition  was  very  strong 
among  them,  they  retained  unmodified  old  popular  beliefs 
in  evil  spirits,  and  persecution  added  to  their  life  a  peculiar 
rigidity  and  gloom. 

But  they  were  men  of  conscience,  lived  very  strictly,  re- 
frained from  smoking,  fasted  often,  and  were  extremely 
methodical  in  all  their  dealings.  The  consequence  was  that, 
like  many  other  persecuted  communities,  they,  as  soon  as 
the  persecution  became  less  severe,  began  to  prosper  exceed- 
ingly. They  built  up  large  businesses,  and  helped  each 
other  regularly  as  members  of  such  close  communities  always 
do.  A  great  many  of  the  wealthiest  merchants  and  manu- 
facturers in  Moscow  now  are  Old  Believers,  and  a  prominent 
member  of  the  community  is  M.  Guchkov,  the  leader  of 
the  Octobrists  in  the  Third  Duma. 

The  Popovtsy,  that  large  section  of  the  Old  Believers  who 
recognise  the  priesthood,  were  placed  in  serious  difficulty  in 
the  forties  of  the  last  century  by  measures  which, 
by  preventing  their  winning  over  priests  from  the  official 
Church,  threatened  them  with  a  complete  cessation  of  the 
administration  of  the  sacraments.  They  averted  the  danger 
by  founding  a  bishopric  beyond  the  frontier  at  Bielaia 
Krinitsa  in  Galicia,  where  a  small  monastery  of  Old  Believers 
existed.  A  Greek  bishop  named  Ambrose  was  brought  from 
Constantinople  to  occupy  the  see,  and  by  this  means  the 
succession  was  maintained.  Other  Old  Believer  bishoprics 
were  founded  in  Roumania  and  Turkey,  and  in  the  course 
of  time  in  Central  Russia.  The  system  thus  established  is 
called  the  Hierarchy  of  Bielaia  Krinitsa.  The  restrictions 
imposed  on  the  Old  Believers  were  gradually  relaxed  during 
the  course  of  the  last  century,  but  missionaries  of  the  Ortho- 
dox Church  were  very  active  in  combating  the  schism.  The 
Toleration  Edict  of  1905  removed  the  last  impediment,  and 
an  act  passed  in  1910  finally  regulated  the  position  of  the 
Old   Believers.    The   attitude   of   the   official   Church    and 


I* 
II 


Church  and  People  161 

administrative  practice  do  not,  however,  readily  conform  to 
the  new  legislation.  At  the  end  of  1912  the  whole  community 
of  Old  Believers  was  shocked  by  an  act  of  bitter  intolerance 
committed  by  a  police  official  in  the  Government  of  Arch- 
angel. On  the  grave  of  the  priest  Avakum,  the  leader  of  the 
Schism  in  the  seventeenth  century,  who  was  burned  at  the 
stake,  and  who  is  one  of  the  most  remarkable  figures  in 
Russian  history,  the  Old  Believers,  confident  in  the  measures 
guaranteeing  liberty  of  conscience,  erected  a  simple  cross. 
This  cross  the  police  official  broke  into  small  fragments,  which  . 
he  forwarded  together  with  a  report  to  the  governor  of  the 
province. 

The  Old  Believers  are  a  particularly  interesting  community 
because  they  preserve  so  many  distinctive  features  of  the 
Russian  life  of  an  older  time.  They  have  old  ikons  which 
are  of  great  importance  for  the  study  of  Russian  art.  Their 
mode  of  speech,  their  domestic  habits,  their  superstitions 
serve  as  historical  and  ethnographical  documents.  With  the 
spread  of  education  the  sterner  tenets  of  the  community  are 
losing  their  hold  upon  the  younger  generation,  and  there  is  a 
strong  tendency  to  adapt  religious  practice  to  modern  con- 
ditions. With  increasing  tolerance  on  the  part  of  the  official 
Church  this  would  seem  to  threaten  the  gradual  disappear- 
ance of  the  Old  Believers  as  a  distinctive  community.  But 
at  present  the  work  of  tfte  leaders  of  the  modernising  move- 
ment, as  represented  by!  their  organ,  Tserkov  (The  Church), 
constitutes  an  interesting  attempt  to  maintain  the  continuity 
of  Orthodox  tradition  apart  from  those  official  influences 
which  mainly  determine  the  policy  of  the  State  Church. 

The  Old  Believers  who  recognise  the  priesthood  are  a 
variety  of  the  State  Church.  Not  so  the  Bezpopovtsy,  the 
popeless  ones.  With  the  Bezpopovtsy  begins  the  passionate 
wandering  of  Russian  dissent  in  search  of  final  truth  in  fields 
forbidden  by  the  law,  by  convention  and  by  tradition.  It 
is  a  strange  and  desperate  adventure,  full  of  dangers,  physical 
and  spiritual,  full  of  the  joy  of  discovery,  full  of  the  suffering 


162  Russia  of  the  Russians 

that  is  the  price  of  devotion,  and  of  the  peace  that  is  its 
prize.  The  company  of  wanderers  finds  a  home  in  the  forest, 
some  new  interpretation  of  scripture,  some  modification  6i 
ritual  that  seems  to  solve  all  doubts  and  to  shine  with  an 
intimate,  sheltering  light  of  attainment.  They  settle  and 
build.  But  restless  spirits  among  them  are  not  satisfied  and 
seek  further,  testing  the  resources  of  prayer,  the  powers  of 
the  spirit,  refusing  to  conform  to  the  ritual  of  past  inspira- 
tions. Again  and  again  the  past  gains  on  them  and  makes 
their  new  revelations,  their  new  ordinances  habitual,  un- 
original, traditional  in  their  turn.  Their  successors  accept 
their  word  blindly,  just  as  the  conformists  in  the  world  they 
had  forsaken  accepted  the  word  of  great  teachers  of  the  past 
instead  of  seeking  direct  inspiration.  But  each  little  group 
was  persecuted.  It  was  not  allowed  to  grow  worldly  in  its 
sectarianism,  to  find  in  its  creed  an  easy  substitute  for  faith. 
The  dissenters  found  joy  in  suffering,  rest  in  endless  wander- 
ing, and  again  and  again  rejected  the  tranquillity  of  attain- 
ment to  pursue  some  light  of  lights  beyond  ever  receding 
horizons.  What  wonder  that  they  often  lost  the  appearance 
of  common  men  and  seemed  possessed  by  strange  powers, 
and  that  again  and  again  their  spirits  were  broken  by  the 
excess  of  their  yearning  ?  It  is  the  same  yearning  that  is 
the  distinguishing  mark  of  Russian  literature,  and  the  spirit 
that  impelled  the  dissenters  is  very  nearly  akin  to  that  spirit 
that  impelled  the  devotees  of  popular  enlightenment  and 
political  liberty. 

Who  are  all  these  wanderers,  these  men  and  women  who 
bear  strange  names,  the  Pomoriane,  Fedoseievtsy  and  Ft'/i- 
povtsy,  the  Bieguny,  Stranniki,  Molokane,  Dukhobortsy, 
t  Khlysty,  Skoptsy,  Shtundisty,  the  New  Israel  and  the  non- 
prayers,  mystics  and  rationalists,  ritualists  and  protestants, 
wrestlers  with  the  Spirit  and  mortifiers  of  the  flesh  ?  They 
deny  each  other  fiercely,  as  fiercely  as  all  of  them  deny  the 
State  Church,  and  each  clings  fast  to  the  little  lamp  or  to 
the  smoking  torch  that  for  him  lights  a  way  through  the 


Church  and  People  163 

darkness  of  this  life.  But  the  Bieguny,  the  Runners,  are 
the  prototype  of  them  all,  those  Bieguny  who  have  no  abid- 
ing city  for  they  seek  one  to  come.  It  is  true  that  even 
these  inveterate  protestants  against  Church  and  State  have 
now  largely  lost  their  energy  of  resistance,  that  only  a  few  of 
them  now  live  up  to  the  full  extent  of  their  creed  and  take 
monastic  vows  and  wander  in  the  forests  refusing  to  have 
any  traffic  with  the  representatives  of  a  State  that  they  con- 
sider to  be  a  manifestation  of  Anti-Christ.  Most  of  them 
compromise,  and  live  and  do  business  in  the  world,  sheltering 
their  more  resolute  brothers  and  sisters  if  need  be,  and  only 
going  through  the  formality  of  an  "  escape  "  from  the  world 
on  the  approach  of  death.  But  the  spirit  of  their  teaching 
is  expressed  in  their  hymns  and  poems,  in  poems  about  young 
Prince  Ioasaf  or  Iosafat,  who  left  family,  wealth,  and  king- 
dom to  seek  the  truth  in  solitude  and  prayer — a  form  of  the 
Buddha  legend  which  has  found  its  way  to  the  northern 
forests — or  else  in  such  verses  as  these : — 

"  O  who  will  set  the  fair  wilderness  before  me, 
And  who  will  build  for  me  in  a  still  place  where  no  man  dwelleth. 
That  I  may  not  hear  the  sound  of  the  voice  of  man, 
That  I  may  not  see  the  loveliness  of  this  world, 
That  I  may  not  behold  the  vanity  of  the  enchantments  of  this  world, 
That  I  may  not  desire  the  glory  that  comes  from  man  ? 
Then  would  I  bitterly  weep  for  the  heavy  sin  that  is  in  me." 

The  Bieguny  have  gone  to  the  extreme  of  denial.  They 
run  ever  that  they  may  grasp  the  prize  of  their  calling.  The 
other  popeless  Old  Believers  who  believe  that  the  latter  days 
have  come  and  grace  has  departed  from  the  earth  are  less 
vehement  in  their  repudiation  of  the  world.  The  Pomoriane, 
or  Dwellers  by  the  Sea — by  the  White  Sea,  that  is,  in  the 
Governments  of  Archangel  and  Olonets — will  not  eat  and 
drink  with  "  unbelievers  "  for  fear  of  defilement,  and  refuse 
to  recognise  marriages  contracted  by  clergymen  of  the  State 
Church.  But  they  include  in  their  services  prayers  for  the 
Emperor,  for  reasons  of  expediency,  it  would  seem,  rather 
than  of  principle.     Indeed  they  are  gradually  abandoning 


164  Russia  of  the  Russians 

those  bare  crags  of  principle,  firm  based  on  which  the  earliest 
teachers  of  the  sect,  the  monks  of  the  great  monastery  of 
Solovki  in  the  White  Sea  for  seven  years  in  stubborn  defence 
of  the  old  ritual  against  Nikon's  innovations  defied  the  be- 
sieging troops  of  the  Tsar,  or  that  grim  principle  in  the 
strength  of  which  so  many  of  the  Pomoriane  sought  victory 
over  the  world  in  self-martyrdom,  committing  their  bodies 
to  the  flames.  The  world  is  putting  new  questions  to  which 
they  cannot  easily  find  an  answer.  The  great  cities  draw 
their  members  from  the  villages  amidst  the  northern  forests, 
they  are  claimed  by  the  factory  that  levels  all  distinctions 
of  dress  and  custom,  they  are  compelled  to  eat  and  drink 
with  unbelievers.  But  if  any  Pomoriane  are  so  denied  they 
cannot  join  in  public  worship.  Disputes  arise,  and  at  last 
the  workmen  assert  their  right  of  initiative,  organise  a  com- 
munity of  their  own,  and  hold  services  in  a  shed  on  the  out- 
skirts of  St.  Petersburg.  Then  there  is  the  difficult  question 
of  marriages.  It  is  better  for  a  man  not  to  marry,  declare 
the  Pomoriane,  marriage  is  only  a  concession  to  the  flesh. 
But  if  you  begin  to  make  concessions  you  must  regulate,  and 
gradually  a  large  number  of  Pomoriane  have  come  to  recog- 
nise marriage  as  an  institution  but  not  as  a  sacrament.  And 
now  the  greatest  difficulty  of  all  besets  them.  They  hold 
that  grace  has  departed  from  the  earth  and  that  Antichrist 
reigns.  But  the  State  which  the}*  have  hitherto  regarded 
as  the  embodiment  of  Antichrist,  has  ceased  to  persecute 
them,  has  given  them  liberty  of  worship.  What  then  ? 
Perhaps  grace  has  not  wholly  departed,  perhaps  a  true  priest- 
hood is  still  to  be  found  on  the  earth.  And  the  popeless 
ones  are  earnestly  debating  the  question  as  to  whether  they 
should  not  reunite  with  those  communities  of  Old  Believers 
who  recognise  the  priesthood.  Has  all  their  suffering,  all 
their  faith,  their  teaching  been  in  vain  ? 

Many  groups  of  the  Old  Believers  are  bound  by  fetters  of 
tradition,  and  in  fruitless  disputes  over  books  and  ritual 
dissipate  their  strength.    In  a  village  of  Old  Believers  there 


Church  and  People  165 

will  often  be  several  groups  or  sects  perpetually  at  war 
among  themselves ;  so  poor  are  they  that  they  are  compelled 
to  have  one  house  of  prayer  in  common,  and  so  bigoted  that 
each  group  purifies  the  house  anew  after  a  service  has  been 
held  by  any  of  the  others.  Khlysty,  Skoptsy,  Dukhobors, 
and  Molokane  are  Bezpopovtsy,  popeless  ones,  who  have 
revolted  against  the  letter  of  the  law  and  claim,  each  sect  in 
its  own  way,  the  liberty  of  the  spirit.  The  Khlysty  and 
Skoptsy  live  in  a  strange  world  of  symbols  and  ecstasies,  of 
allegory  and  new  revelation,  of  antinomianism  and  of  fierce 
trampling  on  the  flesh.  They  tread  paths  that  many  mystics 
have  trodden  in  their  perilous  journey  in  the  infinite  dark, 
mystics  of  the  early  Church  and  of  the  Middle  Ages,  mystics 
in  America  and  in  Persia,  in  the  Protestant  world  and  Moham- 
medanism. They  are  fascinated  by  the  terrible  problem  of 
sin  and  salvation,  they  are  tossed  unrestingly  on  the  sea  of 
a  perpetual  conflict  between  flesh  and  spirit.  Both  Khlysty 
and  Skoptsy  seek  redemption  in  the  ecstasy  of  mystical  com- 
munion, but  while  the  Khlytsy  do  not  restrain  the  flesh, 
often  seem  to  regard  concession  to  the  flesh  as  an  element 
in  ecstasy,  the  Skoptsy  shrink  from  it  in  horror ;  they  are 
eunuchs  who  interpret  with  terrible  literalness  the  passage 
about  those  who  make  themselves  eunuchs  "  for  the  Kingdom 
of  Heaven's  sake."  How  these  sects  arose,  how  peasants  in 
remote  Russian  villages  evolved  these  curious  systems  of 
dogma,  these  ritual  dances,  this  language  of  symbols  it  is 
not  easy  to  understand.  Perhaps  human  nature  tends  to 
manifest  itself  in  similar  forms  under  similar  conditions,  and 
the  teaching  of  Khlytsy  and  Skoptsy  may  simply  be  a  natural 
development  of  the  general  revolt  against  ecclesiastical  and 
political  authority  which  was  carried  on  by  the  Bezpopovtsy. 
But  it  seems  hard  to  resist  the  impression  of  a  genealogical 
connection  with  older  heresies.  The  Bogumil  or  Paulician 
heresy  made  its  appearance  in  Russia  soon  after  the  intro- 
duction of  Christianity,  and  the  close  connection  between 
the  early  Russian  Church  and  Bulgaria,  from  whom  Russia 


166  Russia  of  the  Russians 

received  the  translation  of  the  scriptures  and  many  religious 
books,  facilitated  the  penetration  of  Bogumil  influences  east- 
ward. The  Russian  Church  stamped  out  the  heresy  as  reso- 
lutely as  the  Roman  Catholic  Church  stamped  out  in  the 
West  that  of  the  Albigenses,  who  were  also  of  Bogumil  des- 
cent. But  it  probably  survived  in  obscure  corners  of  the 
popular  mind  as  a  reminiscence,  a  tendency,  and  naturally 
sprang  to  life  again  during  the  time  of  religious  excitement 
aroused  by  the  conflict  between  the  State  Church  and  the 
Old  Believers.  Is  there  a  connection  between  the  religious 
dancing  of  the  Khlysty,  held  with  tightly-closed  and  padded 
doors  and  windows  in  rooms  at  the  back  of  St.  Petersburg 
courtyards  or  in  peasants'  cottages  on  the  Volga,  and  the 
services  in  secluded  gardens  at  the  head  of  the  Golden  Horn 
of  those  PauHcians  whose  massacre  was  ordered  by  the 
Empress  Theodora  ?  Is  there  a  possible  connection  with 
the  dancing  Dervishes  of  Pera  ?  TTie  Paulicians  were  Mani- 
chaeans ;  Manicheism  was  disseminated  in  Persia  and  Tur- 
kestan, and  its  influence  was  felt  in  the  mystical  sects  of 
Islam.  And  with  the  perpetual  impact  of  the  Mohammedan 
East  on  the  growing  Russian  State  strains  of  Manichaean, 
Paulician,  dualistic  influence  could  easily  find  their  way 
northward.  If  the  influence  of  Persian  art  is  noticeable  on 
some  of  the  ikons  or  sacred  pictures  of  the  Moscow  period, 
it  seems  natural  to  trace  in  popular  beliefs  signs  of  Oriental 
influence. 

But  it  is  far  to  follow  the  long  routes  of  belief  and  custom. 
The  Khlysty  are  convinced  that  they  have  seen  with  their 
own  eyes  a  heavenly  vision,  and  that  to  them  are  continually 
vouchsafed  new  revelations.  They  have  wholly  abandoned 
Orthodox  doctrine.  They  believe  in  the  pre-existence  and 
transmigration  of  souls.  "  In  the  flesh  I  am  sixty-four  years 
old,"  said  a  Khlyst  woman  on  trial,  "  but  my  true  age,  the 
years  I  lived  before  I  came  into  this  world,  I  know  not." 
They  are  dualists,  they  affirm  the  existence  of  a  perpetual 
warfare  between  flesh  and  spirit.     But  at  the  same  time 


Church  and  People  167 

they  insist  that  God  is  present  only  in  Man,  that  from  the 
Creation,  He,  the  Invisible,  the  Intangible,  Unattainable,  has 
chosen  man  for  his  dwelling-place.  This  is  what  their  oppo- 
nents call  "  the  deification  of  man."  Christ,  they  hold,  was 
the  most  perfect  embodiment  of  divinity  that  the  world  had 
seen  until  his  advent.  But  many  christs  have  appeared 
since  then,  and  the  leaders  of  the  Khlysts,  the  perfect  ones 
amongst  them,  are  called  "  christs."  Perhaps  the  name 
Khlyst,  which  seems  to  refer  to  the  practice  of  flagellation 
may  simply  be  a  distortion  by  outsiders  of  the  name  "  Christ," 
which  is  in  such  frequent  use  in  this  sect.  And  while  the 
male  leaders,  various  Ivans  and  Porphirys,  are  called 
"  christs,"  the  shrewd,  firm-willed  women  leaders,  the  Akulinas 
and  Aksinias,  gain  the  name  of  bogoroditsy,  madonnas,  or 
"  Mothers  of  God."  Church  marriages  are  not  recognised, 
and  if  a  man  will  marry  he  must  take  to  himself  a  spiritual 
wife. 

All  these  "  christs  "  and  "  madonnas  "  are  surrounded  by 
a  hierarchy  of  "  archangels,"  "  angels,"  "  prophets,"  and 
"  saints,"  members  of  the  communities  of  the  Khlytsy  or 
Skoptsy.  The  community  of  believers  is  a  "  ship  "  on  the 
sea  of  life,  or  it  may  be  on  some  river  Don,  on  which  the 
"  little  ships  "  of  individual  lives  go  sailing ;  the  elder  is  a 
"  steersman  "  or  "  steerswoman."  The  ship  sails  over  the 
blue  sea,  but  is  not  drawn  into  a  whirlpqol,  for  the  Lord  him- 
self enters  the  ship,  takes  the  sail  into  his  hands  and  sits  at 
the  helm,  so  that  though  the  seas  roar  and  be  troubled  the 
ship  shall  not  be  broken.  Or  again,  the  community  is  a 
"  garden  "  or  a  "  vineyard,"  where  cypress  trees  grow  with 
"  red  flowers,"  "  royal  flowers,"  where  birds  of  paradise  build 
their  nests  and  sing  the  songs  of  the  cherubim  and  the  sera- 
phim. Through  the  garden  flows  from  Mount  Zion  a  river 
of  living  water  with  banks  of  silver  and  yellow  sands.  And 
on  this  river  again  the  King's  ship  goes  sailing  with  warriors 
and  seamen  and  Cossacks  of  the  Don  who  play  on  the  lyre 
of  David  for  the  marriage  of  the  Captain  of  Hosts  who  takes 

ia— (2400) 


168  Russia  of  the  Russians 

as  his  bride,  Golgotha,  the  Cross.  But  round  the  garden  is 
the  dark  forest  of  the  world,  and  the  birds  who  fly  beyond 
the  shelter  of  the  garden  are  lost  in  its  gloomy  depths.  In 
the  midst  of  their  grey,  cheerless  lives,  with  one  of  their 
number  watching  outside  the  door  to  give  warning  if  the 
police  should  come,  the  Khlysty  sing  of  bringing  sweet  apples 
on  a  golden  dish  to  a  high  house  and  begging  the  lady,  the 
Empress,  the  guest  and  Mother,  to  accept  them.  Many  of 
these  symbols  the  Khlysty  and  Skoptsy  have  in  common, 
for  the  Skoptsy  are  an  offshoot  of  the  older  sect  and  repre- 
sent a  reaction  against  the  laxity  of  the  Khlysty  at  the  end 
of  the  eighteenth  century. 

In  ordinary  life  the  Khlysty  are  hardly  to  be  distinguished 
from  their  neighbours.  All  their  emotion,  all  their  ecstasy 
is  concentrated  in  their  religious  exercises,  when  gathered 
together  behind  closed  doors,  they  sit  dressed  in  white,  and 
by  reading  and  singing  awaken  the  slumbering  flame.  They 
strike  up  a  swift,  tripping  song  about  the  little  ships  that  go 
sailing,  they  grow  restless,  and  first  one  and  then  another 
steps  out  into  the  midst  and  begins  to  dance,  panting  and 
jerking  the  shoulders  from  side  to  side,  shuffling  and  whirl- 
ing. They  dance  in  pairs,  in  groups,  or  all  together  as  a 
"  ship,"  following  each  other  in  a  ring,  or  as  a  "  wall,"  again 
in  a  ring,  but  jumping  together  in  unison.  Sometimes  they 
fall  into  such  a  frenzy  that  they  lash  themselves  with  bundles 
of  twigs.  And  frenzy  is  said  on  occasion  to  lead  to  licence, 
an  accusation,  which,  though  it  is  repudiated  by  the  Khlysty, 
constitutes  the  chief  ground  for  the  severe  measures  of  the 
Government  against  the  sect.  Khlysty  and  Skoptsy  are 
officially  classified  as  the  "  most  dangerous  sects." 

Perhaps  it  is  a  longing  for  religious  ecstasy— *the  same 
longing  that  accounts  for  the  fervour  of  camp-meetings  and 
various  forms  of  revivalism — that  explains  the  comparatively 
wide  dissemination  of  the  Khlyst  teaching  in  Russia  and  its 
persistence,  in  spite  of  persecution  on  the  one  hand  and  the 
spread  of  education  on  the  other.    Only  a  few  years  ago,  in 


Church  and  People  169 

1905,  during  the  time  of  political  unrest,  a  new  Khlyst  pro- 
phet or  "  christ,"  arose  and,  by  the  proclamation  of  a  new 
revelation,  the  advent  of  a  new  era,  attracted  a  large  number 
of  adherents,  chiefly  among  the  Kuban  Cossacks  in  the 
Northern  Caucasus.  This  prophet,  Lubkov,  a  shop-assistant, 
and  apparently  a  man  of  low  intelligence,  was  able  by  brib- 
ing the  officials  to  hold  meetings  without  let  or  hindrance. 
He  travelled  from  village  to  village  and  farm  to  farm  announc- 
ing that  he  was  the  "  christ  of  the  twenty-first  century,"  in 
other  words,  the  twenty-first  christ  after  Jesus,  and  that  he 
had  come  to  found  a  New  Israel.  He  ascended  a  mountain 
near  Kislovodsk  where  he  professed  to  have  been  transfigured, 
led  his  followers  to  a  hot  and  unfertile  "  promised  land  "  in 
Transcaucasia,  on  the  borders  of  Persia,  and  finally  went  off 
to  South  America  where  he  intended  to  found  a  colony  for 
his  adherents. 

The  Khlysty  outwardly  conform  to  the  State  Church  and 
expend  their  energy  of  protest  in  religious  ecstasy.  The 
Dukhobors,  Molokans,  Stundists,  and  followers  of  Sutaiev 
seek  truth  in  another  direction.  They  relegate  metaphysics 
and  ritual  to  a  secondary  position  and  emphasise  the  ethical 
aspect  of  Christianity.  Clean  living  is  for  them  the  secret 
of  salvation,  and  the  ethical  code  of  the  Gospel  must  be  the 
standard  of  life.  There  are  mystical  elements  in  the  teach- 
ing of  Dukhobors  and  Molokans,  but  they  place  in  the  fore- 
front faith  in  Christ  interpreted  as  complete  obedience  to  his 
commandments.  The  "  Molokans,"  men  who  feed  on  the 
"  pure  milk  of  the  word,"  as  they  explain  their  own  name, 
or  people  who  drink  milk  during  Lent  as  the  Orthodox  slight- 
ingly say,  were  once  simply  a  variety  of  Bezpopovtsy,  but 
their  steadily  increasing  reverence  for  the  Bible  as  a  rule  of 
faith  has  brought  them  to  a  Protestant  position,  and  they 
are  now  not  unlike  Baptists.  The  Dukhobors  or  Spirit 
Wrestlers  have  suffered  imprisonment,  stripes,  and  exile  be- 
cause of  their  devotion  to  the  doctrine  of  non-resistance 
which  caused  them  to  refuse  military  service.    They  are 


170  Russia  of  the  Russians 

Christian  anarchists  and  communists,  and  the  story  of  their 
martyrdom  for  the  ideals  of  primitive  Christianity  troubled 
some  years  ago  a  world  that  is  not  quite  sure  whether  it  is 
Christian  or  not,  and,  if  it  is,  how  it  is  to  reconcile  with  the 
Gospel  the  whole  structure  of  modern  civilisation.  Universal 
brotherhood,  peace,  love  as  the  supreme  law  of  life,  these 
are  the  essential  features  of  the  doctrine  of  the  Dukhobors, 
just  as  they  are  of  Quaker  teaching,  and  their  firmness  in 
obeying  the  inner  voice  not  only  brought  down  on  them 
Cossack  reprisals  and  material  ruin  when  it  led  them  to  re- 
fuse military  service  in  Russia,  but  it  baffled  even  very 
liberal-minded  Canadian  authorities  when  it  led  to  a  refusal 
to  register  title-deeds  to  the  land  on  which  the  emigrant 
members  of  the  sect  settled  in  1899. 

The  Dukhobors  were  a  comparatively  small  sect,  but  it  is 
remarkable  how  often  teaching  similar  to  theirs  has  made 
its  appearance  quite  independently  in  various  parts  of  Russia. 
The  same  thing  occurs  repeatedly.  A  peasant  begins  to 
think  for  himself  about  life,  reads  the  Bible,  ceases  to  attend 
Church  services  and  revere  ikons,  professes  non-resistance, 
and  refuses  to  take  oaths  or  to  undergo  military  service, 
becomes,  in  fact,  a  Christian  anarchist.  Why  religious 
inquiry  should  so  frequently  take  this  form  in  Russia  it  is 
not  easy  to  say.  Perhaps  there  is  obscure  diffusion  of  cer- 
tain teachings  that  it  is  difficult  to  trace.  Perhaps  the  anti- 
nomian  conceptions  of  the  Bezpopovtsy  exert  an  influence 
in  all  sorts  of  unsuspected  directions.  There  may  be  traces 
of  Protestant  influence.  Or  again,  it  is  possible  that  a  cer- 
tain anarchist  strain  in  the  Russian  nature,  a  reaction  against 
the  excessive  pressure  of  the  authority  of  the  Church  and 
State  may  account  for  the  spread  of  non-resistance  teachings. 
The  Stundists,  who  made  their  appearance  in  Southern  Russia 
after  the  emancipation  of  the  peasantry,  were  strongly  in- 
fluenced by  German  colonists  of  the  sect  of  the  Nazarenes 
who  were  settled  in  the  Government  of  Kiev,  and  German 
Mennonites  had  an  influence  in  other  governments.    The 


Church  and  People  171 

« 

refusal  to  undergo  military  service  led  in  all  cases  to  severe 
persecution,  and  persecution  naturally  inspired  in  the  non- 
resisters  a  burning  zeal  that  infected  others.  There  was  a 
joy  of  self-denial  in  the  doctrine,  a  sense  of  release  from  the 
fretting  claims  of  the  world  that  made  suffering  a  light  thing 
to  bear.  Then,  when  Leo  Tolstoy,  whose  lifelong  spiritual 
conflict  was  so  distinctly  and  titanically  Russian,  found  rest 
at  last  in  the  simplicity  and  the  doctrine  of  love  and  non- 
resistance  as  confessed  by  Dukhobors  and  the  followers  of 
the  peasant  Sutaiev,  when  he  turned  his  back  on  the  splen- 
dours of  his  own  works  of  art,  obeyed  the  call  of  the  fair 
wilderness  and  set  himself  to  preach  his  interpretation  of 
the  Gospel  in  the  form  of  a  challenge  to  the  whole  of  modern 
civilisation,  it  was  the  fiercely  protesting  spirit  of  Russian 
dissent  that  spoke  through  him,  the  spirit  of  the  men  who 
threw  themselves  into  the  flames  rather  than  obey  a  state 
that  was  for  them  the  embodiment  of  Antichrist,  the  spirit 
of  the  wanderers  in  the  forests,  of  the  Bieguny  and  of  the 
Dukhobors.  By  what  mysterious  sub-conscious  ways  did 
the  doctrine  penetrate  Tolstoy's  powerful  spirit  ?  He  was 
strangely  sensitive  to  the  breathing  of  the  Russian  soil,  to 
the  voices  of  the  forest,  to  the  spirit  of  vague  restless  yearn- 
ing that  the  winds  bear  across  the  great  plain  in  their  wander- 
ings from  the  north  and  the  east  and  the  south.  The  soul 
of  the  Russian  people  in  which  so  many  influences  mingle 
and  blend  and  grow,  influences  that  are  pagan  and  Buddhist, 
and  Manichaean  and  Christian,  and  in  their  unity  altogether 
Russian,  he  understood,  not  by  sympathy  merely,  but  by 
some  subtle  community  of  feeling,  as  though  his  soul  were 
part  of  a  broader  folk-consciousness  whose  waves  move  un- 
restingly  within  him  becoming  his  private  experience,  the 
distress  and  the  joy  of  his  individual  soul.  That  is  why 
Tolstoy  was  so  dear  to  the  Russians  and  why  his  death  so 
deeply  stirred  them,  even  though  the  logic  of  the  educated 
classes  learned  in  the  schools  and  in  European  Universities 
raised  a  barrier  between  him  and  these.    The  later  Tolstoy 


172  Russia  of  the  Russians 

and  Russian  dissent  are  intimately1  akin.  They  are  way- 
farers and  pilgrims  in  search  of  a  city  that  is  very  far 
off. 

The  force  of  Tolstoy's  example  naturally  strengthened  all 
the  sects  of  non-resisters  during  the  later  years  of  the  nine- 
teenth century,  and  his  doctrine  had  a  certain  influence  upon 
the  intelligentsia.  Instances  of  refusal  to  undergo  military 
service  were  frequent,  but  of  late  years  less  is  heard  of  such 
cases,  and  the  quietists  of  all  kinds  seem  to  have  lost  ground 
heavily  during  the  revolutionary  period.  Not  a  few  Tol- 
stoyans,  in  the  general  fever  of  unrest,  became  Socialist  Revo- 
lutionaries. And  the  forms  of  dissent  that  are  now  making 
headway  seem  to  be  those  that  have  been  imported  from 
Europe,  chiefly  several  varieties  of  Baptists  known  under  the 
general  name  of  Evangelical  Christians.  Since  the  promul- 
gation of  Toleration  laws  in  1905  and  1906  the  Western 
European  sects  have  made  considerable  progress,  although 
they  are  still  harassed  by  administrative  impediments  and 
are  unable  to  secure  from  government  officials  anything  like 
consistent  observation  of  the  principles  of  tolerance.  The 
missionaries  of  the  State  Church  combat  them  in  public  dis- 
pute, as  well  as  by  causing  the  exercise  of  administrative 
pressure.  Probably  the  progress  of  the  Evangelical  Chris- 
tians may  be  regarded  as  one  manifestation  of  that  process 
of  the  Europeanisation  or  perhaps  even  the  Americanisation 
of  Russia  which  is  now  going  forward  so  rapidly.  The  Rus- 
sian tradesman  who  abandons  his  kaftan,  cuts  his  hair  short, 
and  wears  a  collar  and  tie  may,  under  certain  conditions,  be 
led  by  religious  interest  to  sing  in  a  Baptist  meeting  a 
translation  of  "  Shall  we  gather  at  the  river  ?  " 

A  certain  development  of  new  sects  has  been  noticeable 
of  late  years  in  the  large  cities.  They  arise  chiefly  within 
the  State  Church  as  a  result  of  the  popularity  of  certain 
preachers  or  leaders.  The  Johannites,  or  followers  of  Father 
John  of  Kronstadt,  are  a  sect  of  this  kind,  and  so  are  the 
followers  of  "  brother "   Ivan  Churikov  in  St.  Petersburg, 


Church  and  People  173 

and  his  Moscow  associates,  who  have  gained  great  influence 
among  the  common  people  by  their  denunciations  of  drunken- 
ness and  immorality  and  their  appeals  for  decency.  These 
movements  are  hardly  sects  in  the  strict  sense  of  the  word. 
They  are  as  yet  in  the  stage  of  currents  of  popular  feeling 
on  which  the  State  Church  frowns.  But  with  the  growth 
of  the  great  modern  cities,  St.  Petersburg  and  Moscow, 
religious  movements  in  Russia  are  beginning  to  assume  that 
nervous,  hasty,  noisy  character  which  is  so  characteristic  of 
religious  movements  in  modern  Western  cities.  Up  to  the 
present  the  Salvation  Army  has  not  been  permitted  to  extend 
its  operations  to  Russia,  and  even  if  it  had  been  it  is  probable 
that  it  would  have  failed  because  the  types  of  mind  to  which 
the  Salvation  Army  makes  appeal  hardly  existed  in  Russia. 
It  is  very  possible  that  within  a  few  years  such  types  of 
mind  will  be  far  more  common  than  now,  and  then  per- 
haps religious  development  in  Russia  will  take  new  forms 
more  closely  resembling  those  prevalent  in  Western  Europe. 
In  the  meantime  all  sorts  of  new  teachers  are  making  their 
appearance  and  gathering  little  bands  of  followers.  There  is 
the  old  man  who  wanders  about  the  Nizhni  Novgorod  fair, 
for  instance,  and  preaches  that  believers  in  his  doctrine  shall 
never  die,  and  that  death  is  simply  a  sign  of  want  of  faith. 
There  are  about  thirty  "  immortals  "  who  have  accepted  his 
teaching,  but  one  of  them  recently  passed  away.  And  then 
there  is  the  "  Swallow  "  in  St.  Petersburg,  who  teaches  that 
all  the  Christian  States  shall  transform  the  world  in  1924, 
and  that  a  beginning  was  made  when,  in  August  1912,  the 
Archangel  Michael  solemnly  annihilated  all  evil  spirits  some- 
where in  the  neighbourhood  of  New  York.  It  is  character- 
istic of  the  new  outlook  that  such  a  city  as  "  New  York  " 
is  mentioned  in  the  sectarian  teaching.  In  the  hymns  of 
the  Khlysty  and  Skoptsy  it  is  St.  Petersburg  and  Moscow 
that  have  a  symbolical  meaning,  and  the  coming  of  the  Lord 
is  awaited  from  the  hills  of  Zion  and  the  mountains  of  the 
Turkish  land. 


174  Russia  of  the  Russians 

The  authorities  of  the  State  Church  make  few  concessions 
to  the  modern  spirit,  though  after  all  when  bishops  and 

pnests  sit  even  on  the  Right  benches  ol  the 

Officialism.  Dw™*  they  are  acting  in  perpetual  contra- 
diction to  that  denial  of  constitutional  govern- 
ment which  is  the  main  theme  of  their  public  utterances. 
The  deadening  influence  of  officialism  is  felt  in  all  depart - 
\  ments  of  Church  life.  The  chancelleries  of  the  Holy  Synod 
'  and  of  the  consistories  which  represent  the  Synod  in  each 
diocese  are  exactly  like  the  chancelleries  of  any  other  govern- 
ment department.  The  affairs  of  the  Church  are  conducted 
by  laymen,  but  not  by  parishioners  in  corpore  or  their  repre- 
sentatives for  whom  the  affairs  of  the  Church  would  have  a 
direct  and  personal  interest,  but  by  officials  of  the  State. 
The  prelates  of  the  Church  are  subordinated  to  these  officials  : 
the  principles  that  prevail  in  the  bureaucracy  in  general 
prevail  in  the  Church,  and  thus  it  happens  that  without 
actually  wielding  temporal  authority  the  Church  is  at  pre- 
sent dominated  not  by  spiritual  but  by  political  interests, 
with  sad  results.  No  ecclesiastic  of  broad-minded  or  liberal 
views  is  admitted  to  a  leading  position  in  the  hierarchy,  and 
the  process  of  eliminating  men  of  marked  individuality  and 
talent  has  recently  been  extended  even  to  the  theological 
academies,  institutions  of  University  rank  for  the  higher 
training  of  the  clergy,  from  which  a  number  of  able,  dis- 
tinguished, and  devout  professors  have  recently  been  com- 
pelled to  retire  in  order  to  give  place  to  men  of  inferior  capa- 
city who  had  ingratiated  themselves  with  the  authorities.  The 
leading  organs  of  the  Church,  the  Tserkovnia  Viedomosti,  and 
the  daily  newspaper,  Kolokol  (The  Bell),  edited  by  a  missionary 
named  Skvortsov,  have  a  marked  reactionary  character. 

Many  devout  Orthodox  Russians  deplore  the  state  of 
affairs  that  now  prevails  in  the  State  Church,  and  persistent 
efforts  are  being  made  to  effect  reforms.  For  years  the 
ablest  and  most  liberal-minded  of  the  clergy  have  been  dis- 
cussing the  possibility  of  freeing  the  Church  from  its  position 


Church  and  People  175 

of  complete  subordination  to  the  State  by  bringing  about 
the  convocation  of  a  Church  Council  and  the  restoration  of 
the  Patriarchate.  This  question  was  very  eagerly  debated 
in  1905  before  the  promulgation  of  the  Constitution,  but  it 
was  afterwards  obscured  by  other  urgent  political  issues, 
and  only  vaguely  referred  to  from  time  to  time.  Another 
question  that  is  frequently  discussed  in  the  organs  of  the 
liberal  churchmen,  the  Tserkovno-obshchestvenny  Viestnik 
(The  Ecclesiastical  and  Social  Messenger),  published  in  St. 
Petersburg,  and  the  Tserkovnaia  Pravda  (Church  Truth), 
published  in  Berlin,  is  that  of  promoting  the  reform  of  the 
parish  with  the  object  of  enabling  parishioners  directly  to 
participate  in  the  conduct  of  Church  affairs.  In  the  present 
transition  stage  of  Russian  politics,  when  the  subject  of  the 
relations  between  State  and  Church,  the  Monarch  and  the 
representative  institutions  is  the  subject  of  constant  dispute, 
it  seems  hardly  probable  that  any  far-reaching  reforms  will 
be  effected. 

And  yet,  in  spite  of  the  retrograde  policy  with  which  the 

leaders  of  the  Church  have  become  identified,  there  are  many 

N  indications  of  a  growing  interest  on  the  part 

Developments    of  the  educated  classes  in  the  Church  and  in 

of  Religious     religious  questions  generally.    The  meetings 

Thought.       0£  tjje  Reiigious  and  Philosophical  Societies 

in  St.  Petersburg  and  Moscow,  in  which  are  debated  impor- 
tant questions  bearing  on  the  relation  between  religion  and 
social  life,  attract  large  audiences  and  are  well  reported  in 
the  Press.  The  work  of  Vladimir  Soloviev  (1853-1900),  the 
most  brilliant  of  modern  Russian  philosophers,  in  whose 
eyes  philosophy  was  in  the  long  run  the  handmaid  of  theology, 
is  now  making  itself  more  and  more  widely  felt.  Vladimir 
Soloviev  stands  before  the  Russian  intelligentsia  now  as  the 
most  striking  example  of  a  man  of  great  learning,  a  poet,  a 
bold  and  consistent  liberal  publicist  who  not  only  possessed 
a  profound  religious  faith,  but  was  devoted  to  the  Church 
as  an  institution.     Recently  his  letters  and  an  account  of  his 


176  Russia  of  the  Russians 

life  have  been  published  by  Professor  Radlov,  and  an  exhaus- 
tive analysis  of  his  work  by  Professor  Prince  Eugene  Trou- 
betskoy.  In  Moscow  there  is  a  group  of  energetic  scholars  led 
by  MM.  Bulgakov  and  Berdiaiev  who,  having  passed  through 
many  varied  phases  of  modern  thought,  have  finally  reached  a 
position  similar  to  that  of  Soloviev  and  are  devoting  themselves 
to  the  work  of  elucidating  the  philosophical  bases  of  orthodoxy. 
Religious  thought  in  Russia  gives  promise,  in  fact,  of  very 
interesting  developments.  It  is  a  new  conception  for  the 
bulk  of  the  educated  classes  that  religion,  even  if  it  be  not 
accepted  in  some  simple  way,  may  at  last  be  considered  and 
studied,  and  not  wholly  ignored  as  a  creed  outworn.  It  is 
a  sign  of  the  times  that  one  of  the  most  widely-read,  serious 
books  of  recent  years  is  William  James's  Varieties  of  Religious 
Experience.  The  intelligentsia  is  not  any  more  formally 
religious  than  it  was,  but  it  has  at  least  relinquished  its  atti- 
tude of  uncompromising  hostility  to  religion  and  is  no  longer 
rigidly  materialistic.  The  whole  trend  of  thought  in  this 
respect  is  necessarily  very  vague,  sharply  defined  dogmas  of 
all  kinds  are  out  of  fashion  in  Russia  now,  both  in  politics 
and  in  philosophy.  So  far  one  can  hardly  point  to  anything 
more  precise  than  the  removal  of  an  inhibition  on  religious 
thinking.1  But  this  means  a  very  great  deal  and  opens 
up  all  kinds  of  curious  and  fascinating  possibilities.  The 
hostility  of  the  intelligentsia  to  religion  was  one  of  the  chief 
causes  that  prevented  a  real  community  of  feeling  between 
the  educated  classes  and  the  masses  of  the  people.  But  now 
that  Russian  life  is  growing  more  modern,  more  European  in 
character,  the  barriers  between  the  intelligentsia  and  the 
people  are  gradually  disappearing.  And  this  is  particularly 
true  in  the  matter  of  religion.  Not  only  is  the  intelligentsia 
becoming  less  pronouncedly  anti-religious,  but  the  religious 
attitude  of  the  people  is  changing.  Indifference  is  growing, 
and  parallel  with  it  a  spirit  of  inquiry,  so  that  while  a  great 

1  The  recent  rapid  spread  of  such  movements  as  Theosophy  seems  to 
be  a  symptom  of  a  growing  sensitiveness  to  European  tendencies. 


Church  and  People  177 

many  of  the  younger  peasants  have  simply  turned  their  backs 
on  the  Church,  and  on  religion  generally,  others  are  passing 
over  into  the  sects  or  else  finding  satisfaction  in  various 
socialistic  and  humanitarian  teachings.  And  this  is  one  of 
the  ways  in  which  a  new  uniformity  of  national  temper  is 
being  developed. 

But  as  soon  as  one  touches  on  the  present  religious  temper 
of  the  Russian  people  a  hundred  interesting  questions  arise. 
What  will  come  of  ail  this  complex  process  of  the  development 
of  individual  initiative,  reading,  education,  modernisation 
generally  ?  Will  it  undermine  the  Orthodox  Church,  or  will 
it  lead  to  reformation  and  transformation  ?  Roman  Catholi- 
cism is  now  fighting  its  battle  in  a  modern  world.  But  the 
Eastern  Orthodox  Church  has  not  until  now  had  to  cope 
with  modern  conditions,  and  it  is  in  Russia  that  it  will  have 
to  undergo  the  strain,  with  what  result  who  would  venture 
to  forecast  ?  One  can  imagine  the  development  of  a  per- 
petual interaction  of  religious  and  intellectual  influences  be- 
tween the  intelligentsia  and  the  people,  the  country  and  the 
town.  New  religious  movements  arising  among  the  people 
may  attract  members  of  the  intelligentsia,  now  less  immune 
against  religious  influences  than  heretofore.  And  new  move- 
ments of  religious  thought  amongst  the  educated  class  may 
find  all  kinds  of  strange  echoes  amongst  the  masses  of  the 
people.  And  in  such  movements  all  the  latent  variety  of 
Russia  will  be  made  clear,  the  variety  implied  in  such  fact9 
as  that  the  Siberians  have  the  reputation  of  being  irreligious 
— though  dissent  is  making  rapid  progress  in  Siberia — while 
the  Little  Russian  is  supposed  to  be  especially  sensitive  in 
matters  of  religion.  All  the  phases,  all  the  potentialities  of 
the  Russian  character  will,  in  that  time  of  outward  levelling 
that  must  come  with  the  extension  of  technical  civilisation, 
be  brought  into  more  vivid  relief.  For  there  will  be  a  far 
more  intense  and  rapid  interplay  of  thought  and  yearning  on 
the  vital  questions  that  have  perpetually  and  deeply  troubled 
the  Russian  people  throughout  the  long  course  of  its  history. 


CHAPTER    VI 

LITERATURE 

The  early  'eighties  of  the  last  century  were  a  critical  period 
in  the  history  of  Russian  literature.    The  great  writers  who 

had   gained   distinction   in   the   'fifties   and 

^tiw^Sehtiet0*  s*xt*es    were    one    ty    one    passing    away. 

Nekrasov,  the  most  popular  Russian  poet  of 

his  day,  died  in  1877.  Dostoievsky  died  in  1881,  shortly 
after  having  given  to  the  world  his  great  novel,  The  Brothers 
Karamazov.  Turgeniev  died  in  1882.  Tolstoy  published  his 
Anna  Karenina  in  1876-7,  and  in  1881  experienced  the  pro- 
found religious  change  which  caused  him  to  abandon  art  and 
devote  himself  to  the  preaching  and  practice  of  the  ideals 
that  gave  him  peace.  The  Russian  literature  that  has  be- 
come famous  throughout  the  world  was  written  before  the 
'eighties.  A  great  deal  of  it  was  contemporary  with  mid- 
Victorian  literature,  but  how  different  it  is  from  anything 
mid- Victorian  !  There  is  no  cheerful  sense  of  attainment, 
no  exultation  in  achievement.  Life  for  the  great  Russian 
writers  is  a  spiritual  adventure  on  a  limitless  plain.  Nothing 
is  fixed,  stable,  and  final.  The  artist  concentrates  his  atten- 
tion upon  a  scene.  With  wonderful  distinctness  he  notes 
contour,  colour,  and  play  of  character.  The  scene  represents 
a  definite  whole,  a  unity  in  itself.  It  contains  the  elements 
of  everyday  life,  and  the  Russian  artists  with  a  firm  hand 
place  these  elements  in  the  foreground  and  do  not  evade  any 
of  them.  They  are  realists  in  the  sense  that  they  describe 
what  they  see,  conscientiously,  because  they  have  the  con- 
science of  great  artists.  But  even  when  they  describe  scenes 
that  are  like  cameos,  set  in  the  framework  of  fixed  habit  and 
convention,  with  the  details  minute  and  clear  in  the  distant 
perspective  of  reminiscence — as  in  Turgeniev's  beautiful  idyll, 

178 


Literature  179 

"  First  Love/' — the  picture  they  give  is  at  once  complete 
and  incomplete.  Reality  for  them  is  suggestive  as  music  is. 
One  might  say  that  reality  is  transparent  for  them,  were  it 
not  that  the  comparison  might  obscure  the  remarkable  vivid- 
ness of  the  Russian  apprehension  of  reality.  The  seen  is 
suggestive  of  the  half-seen  and  the  unseen.  The  sight  of 
things  provokes  to  a  wandering  onward  in  search  of  some- 
thing that  is  just  out  of  reach,  that  may  lie  beyond  the  sun- 
set and  beyond  the  night,  of  a  meaning  that  is  perhaps  un- 
attainable. This  is  not  necessarily  mysticism,  though  with 
the  gradual  failure  of  artistic  power  it  may  lead  to  such 
undisguised  mysticism  as  that  of  Turgeniev's  Klara  Milich. 
It  is  not  a  search  for  moral  perfection,  though  the  strange 
restlessness  that  pervades  Tolstoy's  novels  did  express  itself 
in  the  author's  later  life  in  a  fierce  assertion  of  ascetic  prin- 
ciple. It  is  not  a  philosophical  inquiry,  though  the  works 
of  Dostoievsky  contain  profound  philosophy.  It  is  rather  a 
fearless  journey  of  clear-eyed  discovery  in  the  wide  realm  of 
Life — not  of  human  nature  only,  but  of  the  whole  of  life  in 
its  immense  variety.  There  is  a  refusal,  tacit  or  expressed, 
to  recognise  final  limits,  or  to  accept  provisional  explanations, 
an  eagerness  to  apprehend  unusual  aspects  of  human  nature, 
to  discover  what  man  actually  is  in  himself,  and  not  merely 
what,  in  his  laws  and  conventions,  he  says  he  is.  Turgeniev 
did  not  revolt  against  limitations ;  he  merely  lost  sight  of 
them  when,  musing  in  the  twilight  of  autumn  evenings,  he 
gazed  from  his  seat  under  the  lime  trees  across  the  boundless 
plain  of  life.  For  Tolstoy  social  and  historical  limitations 
were  something  vexatious,  oppressive,  something  to  be  over- 
come with  painful  effort  in  the  struggle  to  win  perfect  spiritual 
liberty.  Dostoievsky  saw  limitations  as  part  of  the  problem, 
that  problem  of  the  endless  possibilities  of  sin  and  goodness 
ii  human  nature  which  perpetually  beset  him. 

The  great  Russian  writers  were  impelled  in  their  search 
not  merely  by  artistic  curiosity.  And  their  interest  was  not 
morbid  or  pathological,   though  the  search  led  them  into 


180  Russia  of  the  Russians 

strange  byways  of  human  nature ;  and,  though  there  is  a 
note  of  sadness  in  all  their  work,  from  the  wistful  pensiveness 
of  Turgeniev  to  the  unsupportable  gloom  of  many  situations 
in  the  novels  of  Dostoievsky ;  they  were  impelled  by  a  deep 
moral  instinct,  by  a  feeling  of  wonder  and  reverence  for  life. 
They  were  not  moralists,  they  were  artists.  But  to  their 
artistic  perception  life  was  essentially  moral,  that  is  to  say, 
it  had  a  meaning  and  purpose,  though  the  meaning  might 
be  elusive  and  hardly  to  be  apprehended,  though  in  its  elu- 
siveness  might  lie  its  attractive  power,  and  though  the  pur- 
suit of  it  might  lead  through  dark  mysteries  of  negation  and 
sin.  In  any  case  the  meaning  of  life  was  implicit  in  life 
itself.  It  was  not  something  to  be  considered  separately 
from  life.  And  it  is  perhaps  because  of  the  persistency  of 
this  attitude  that  the  greatest  Russian  thinkers  have  not 
been  philosophers  pure  and  simple,  but  novelists.  Their 
passion  for  reality  was  such  that  they  shrank  from  schemes 
and  systems,  but  pursued  the  manifold  windings  of  the 
problem  of  life  with  an  artistic  intuition  that  gave  a  far 
truer  representation  of  reality  than  any  dialectical  scheme 
could  possibly  have  done. 

It  is  not  easy  to  understand  precisely  why  this  great 
artistic  impulse  ceased  in  the  early  eighties,  why  Turgeniev, 

Tolstoy,  and  Dostoievsky  had  no  immediate 
j££J?Jeof      successors.       For   one  thing,    there   was   a 

natural  exhaustion  consequent  on  intense 
literary  effort,  and  it  is  more  than  a  chance  coincidence 
that  the  period  of  literary  decline  was  also  one  of  political 
reaction.  Alexander  II  was  assassinated  a  little  more  than 
a  month  after  the  death  of  Dostoievsky.  The  years  that 
followed  were  years  of  severe  oppression.  The  stirring  life 
of  the  early  'sixties,  the  time  of  the  Emancipation  and  the 
Great  Reforms,  was  only  a  memory.  The  new  generation 
had  grown  up  in  an  epoch  when  the  Government's  steadily 
increasing  hostility  to  reform  was  confronted  by  a  developing 
revolutionary  movement,  one  of  the  manifestations  of  which 


Literature  181 

was  the  assassination  of  Alexander  II.  Attention  was  diverted 
from  literature  pure  and  simple  to  political  and  social  ques- 
tions. The  critics  who  had  the  greatest  influence  during  the 
'sixties  and  'seventies — and  whose  influence  is  to  a  certain 
extent  still  felt — were  Dobroliubov  and  Pisarev,  both  of 
whom  died,  at  an  early  age,  in  the  'sixties.  Dobroliubov 
appreciated  the  aesthetic  element  in  literature,  but  laid  great 
stress  on  its  political  and  social  value.  Pisarev  went  farther. 
He  declared  war  on  art  which,  he  asserted,  was  nothing  more 
than  an  attempt  on  the  part  of  venal  and  cowardly  archi- 
tects, decorators,  and  painters  to  satisfy  the  whims  of  power- 
ful capitalists.  The  society  that  cultivates  the  arts  while  it 
has  beggars  in  its  midst  can  only  be  compared,  in  Pisarev's 
opinion,  with  the  naked  savage  who  decks  himself  out  with 
gaudy  jewels.  The  only  thing  in  poetry  worth  considering 
is  the  useful  information  it  may  happen  to  contain,  not  its 
form  or  music.  That  is  to  say,  Pisarev  was  a  Nihilist  in 
literature,  and  the  natural  effect  of  his  teaching  was  to  deaden 
the  aesthetic  sense.  The  work  of  the  more  profound  critics, 
Bielinski  and  Dobroliubov,  read  in  the  light  of  Pisarev's 
teaching,  was  interpreted  as  implying  a  complete 
subordination  of  literature  to  social  and  political  ends. 

And  then  there  was  the  effect  of  the  new  teaching  and 
example  of  Tolstoy,  who,  after  writing  Anna  Karenina, 
acquired  in  the  course  of  his  passionate  search  for  truth  the 
conviction  that  art  and  poetry  were  a  mere  illusion.  Tolstoy 
was  not  a  Nihilist.  He  did  not  sympathise  with  any  of  the 
revolutionary  parties.  The  Positivist  theories  that  were  in 
vogue  among  the  intelligentsia  in  the  capitals  were  distaste- 
ful to  him.  The  solution  he  found  for  the  problems  that 
vexed  him  was  a  religious  one.  But  his  experience  led  him 
to  a  denial  of  art  hardly  distinguishable  in  its  effects  from 
the  Nihilist  position.  And  the  force  of  his  powerful  example 
enormously  strengthened  those  anti-aesthetic  tendencies 
which,  in  the  early  'eighties,  cast  their  chilling  shadow  over 
Russian  literature. 


182  Russia  of  the  Russians 

The  fundamental  explanation  of  the  decline  probably  lies, 
however,  in  the  increasing  absorption  of  the  nation's  energies 

in  the  political  struggle.    And  yet  there  were 

S° Tf'^H itCrS  a^e  men  w^°  even  *n  t^s  depressing  atmos- 
phere made  great  efforts  to  produce  good 
literature.  Among  the  older  writers  was  Nicholas  Leskov,  a 
talented  novelist  who  had  gained  a  wide  reputation  by  his 
clerical  tales.  Leskov  revelled  in  the  picturesque  vernacular 
of  the  common  people  and  in  popular  tradition  and  custom, 
and  during  the  latter  years  of  his  life — he  died  in  1895 — 
drew  his  subjects  from  the  rich  stores  of  early  Christian  legend. 
Gleb  Uspensky,  another  prolific  writer  of  fiction,  was  also 
keenly  interested  in  the  life  of  the  people.  But  his  interest, 
unlike  that  of  Leskov,  was  predominantly  humanitarian. 
He  was  deeply  impressed  by  the  sufferings  of  the  peasantry, 
and  in  a  long  series  of  tales  and  sketches  he  described  with 
great  vigour  and  penetration  the  hardships  of  their  lot.  Gleb 
Uspensky  was  greatly  influenced  by  the  doctrines  current 
among  the  intelligentsia  of  his  day,  more  especially  by  those 
of  the  so-called  Narodniki,  or  the  Agrarian  Socialist  school, 
and  the  subordination  of  art  to  social  ends  expressed  itself 
in  his  case  in  indifference  to  form,  in  a  neglect  of  style.  He 
frequently  wrote  simply  journalese,  the  language  of  the 
"  thick  journals."  The  political  atmosphere  of  the  time  had 
a  melancholy  effect  on  Uspensky's  sensitive  mind.  He 
yielded  to  drink,  and  in  1893  he  lost  his  reason. 

No  less  melancholy  was  the  fate  of  Vsevolod  Garshin, 
whose  work  is  steeped  in  the  strange  lunar  light  of  a  genius 
hovering  on  the  verge  of  insanity.  Garshin  abandoned  his 
studies  in  the  St.  Petersburg  Institute  of  Mines  on  the  out- 
break of  the  Russo-Turkish  war  in  April,  1877,  took  part  with 
great  distinction  in  the  campaign,  was  wounded,  and  wrote 
during  his  convalescence  a  military  story  entitled  Four  Days 
which,  on  its  publication,  attracted  general  attention.  Gar- 
shin continued  his  studies  in  St.  Petersburg  and  also  engaged 
in   literary  work,    but   he  was  subject  to  strange  fits   of 


Literature  183 

melancholy,  alternating  with  sudden  bursts  of  exaltation.  Once 
he  found  his  way  into  the  presence  of  Alexander  the  Second's 
famous  Minister  of  the  Interior,  Count  Loris  Melikov,  and 
implored  him  to  win  from  the  Emperor  an  amnesty  for  all 
offenders.  Later  he  drifted  about  the  streets  of  Moscow, 
consorted  with  beggars,  and  was  finally  picked  up  by  the 
police.  Brought  to  the  Prefect  of  the  city  he  besought  this 
official,  with  pathetic  earnestness,  to  devote  himself  to  the 
service  of  humanity.  He  roamed  about  Russia  penniless, 
preaching  strange  doctrines  to  the  peasantry,  and  finally  was 
lodged  in  a  lunatic  asylum  in  Orel.  On  his  uncle's  estate  in 
the  south  of  Russia  he  gradually  recovered  health,  strength, 
and  peace  of  mind.  The  last  five  years  of  his  life  Garshin 
spent  in  St.  Petersburg  where  he  secured  employment  under 
the  Railway  Board,  married  happily,  and  in  long,  quiet  even- 
ings wrote  some  of  the  best  of  his  tales.  But  every  summer 
his  fits  of  melancholy  returned,  and  finally,  in  the  spring  of 
1887,  dreading  a  fresh  approach  of  insanity,  he  flung  himself 
in  despair  down  the  stairs  of  the  house  he  lived  in  and  died 
of  the  injuries  a  few  days  after.  The  stories  that  he  wrote 
fill  only  a  moderate-sized  volume,  but  they  are  of  rare  beauty. 
Garshin  was  an  artist  who,  unlike  many  of  his  contemporaries, 
profoundly  believed  in  art,  and  was  drawn  beyond  himself 
by  a  blended  ideal  of  moral  and  aesthetic  beauty.  His  best 
stories,  The  Red  Flower,  Nadiezhda  Nikolaevna,  and  Night, 
display  a  strong  sense  of  form  combined  with  a  perception 
of  glimpses  of  weird  beauty  caught  in  half-revealed  abysses 
of  shifting  personality.  The  music  of  Garshin's  work  has 
the  penetrating  sadness,  the  passionate  remoteness  of  ancient 
Russian  Church  music. 

Gleb  Uspensky  and  Garshin  broke  down  under  the  heavy 
strain  of  their  time.  Michael  Saltykov,  better  known  by 
his  pseudonym  of  Shchedrin,  whose  later  work  was  written 
in  the  'eighties,  defended  himself  with  the  keen  weapon  of 
satire.  In  his  earlier  life  Saltykov  spent  many  years  in  the 
Government  service,  was  employed  in  the  Chancellery  of  the 

13— (2400) 


184  Russia  of  the  Russians 

Governor  of  Viatka,  was  an  official  at  the  disposition  of  the 
Ministry  of  the  Interior  for  special  missions,  and  later  a 
Vice-Governor.  In  1886  he  retired  and  devoted  himself 
entirely  to  literary  work.  His  thorough  knowledge  of  official 
life  and  ways,  and  the  acquaintance  with  provincial  manners 
gained  in  the  course  of  his  service  gave  him  abundant  material 
for  political  satire  which  he  made  use  of  in  the  form  of  fables, 
and  allegorical  novels  and  tales.  By  a  dexterous  use  of 
language,  often  resulting  in  obscurity,  he  succeeded  in  evading 
the  censor's  pencil,  and  the  biting  sarcasm  of  his  descriptions 
of  various  political  types  was  a  consolation  to  many  during 
the  oppressive  period  of  reaction.  Not  a  few  of  his  char- 
acters and  sayings  have  become  proverbial.  Some  of  the 
best  of  Saltykov's  works,  Messrs.  Golovliov,  Letters  to  My 
Aunt,  and  Tales  from  Poshehonie,  were  published  between 
1880  and  1886.  Another  well-known  work,  Old  Days  in 
Poshehonie,  appeared  in  1890,  the  year  after  the  author's 
death.  Saltykov's  extremely  idiomatic  style  and  the  obscu- 
rity of  many  of  his  ellusions  have  prevented  the  translation  of 
his  work  into  foreign  languages,  and  will  probably  have  the 
effect  of  rendering  much  of  his  work  unintelligible  to  future 
generations  of  Russians.  At  present,  however,  no  portrait 
is  to  be  more  frequently  met  with  in  the  homes  of  the  Russian 
intelligentsia  than  that  of  Shchedrin — a  massive  head  with 
long,  straggling  beard,  deeply  wrinkled  forehead,  and  big, 
round  eyes,  shrewd  and  sad. 

It  would  be  hard  to  imagine  a  greater  contrast  to  Saltykov 
than  Vladimir  Korolenko,  whose  Dream  of  Makar,  a  story  of 
Eastern  Siberia,  aroused  delighted  surprise  on  its  publication 
in  1885,  and  who  has  since  then  continued  to  occupy  a  dis- 
tinguished place  among  the  writers  of  Russian  fiction.  Koro- 
lenko, who  is  of  Southern  Russian  origin,  was  exiled  before 
he  was  thirty  to  the  Yakut  Region  in  Eastern  Siberia,  but 
was  later  allowed  to  settle  in  Nizhni  Novgorod.  For  the  last 
twenty  years  he  has  been  editor  of  the  magazine  Russkoie 
Bogatstvo  (Russian  Wealth).    There  is  no  shadow  of  bitterness 


Literature  185 

in  Korolenko's  work.  He  is  constantly  compassionate, 
and  while  steadily  opposing  all  forms  of  wrong,  eagerly  seeks 
the  goodness  in  things  evil.  He  is  gentle,  wistful,  sensitive 
to  natural  beauty,  and,  above  all  things,  full  of  pity  for  man. 
In  his  workmanship  Korolenko  is  scrupulously  careful ;  his 
published  stories  are  contained  in  three  small  volumes,  while 
those  in  manuscript,  which  he  steadfastly  refrains  from  pub- 
lishing, would  probably  fill  three  times  the  number.  They 
deal  with  the  lives  of  humble  folk  in  Eastern  Siberia,  the 
Volga  region  and  Southern  Russia,  and  are  pervaded  by  a 
real  and  attractive  humanitarian  feeling,  but  they  do  not 
even  suggest  the  depths  reached  by  the  great  masters  of 
Russian  prose.  The  sincere  respect  Korolenko  enjoys  and 
the  influence  he  wields  are  due  rather  to  the  engaging  per- 
sonality displayed  in  his  writings  than  to  their  artistic  merit. 
He  has  been  well  called  "  an  artist  as  publicist,  and  a  publicist 
as  artist." 

Anton  Chehov  made  his  appearance  in  the  'eighties,  when 
literature  was  sinking  low.    But  the  name  of  Chehov  is  in 

itself  a  denial  of  decline.    He  lifted  decline 
Anton  Chehov.  on  to  the  plane  of  art.    He  divested  dullness 

of  its  banality.  He  discovered  in  a  colour- 
less, formless  monotony  of  existence  undertones  of  vibrating 
humanity.  He  lived  in  a  period  of  extreme  depression,  but 
he  did  not  even  declare  war  on  it.  He  did  not  assume  any 
predetermined  attitude  to  life.  He  took  life  as  he,  with  his 
fine  artistic  perception,  found  it.  There  is  a  Russian  word, 
skuka,  which  means  boredom,  and  very  much  more  than 
boredom — a  sense  of  emptiness  and  insipidity  of  life  leading 
to  nerveless  inactivity  that  may  just  stop  short  of  being 
tragical,  and  recoils  the  more  heavily  upon  itself  because  it 
fails  to  reach  the  poignancy  of  a  tragical  solution.  This 
gloomily  pervasive  element  in  the  Russian  life  of  his  time 
Chehov  depicted  with  a  masterly  hand.  He  does  not  spare 
hi^  readers,  nor  does  he  spare  himself  or  reality.  He  does 
not  set  himself  great  problems,  he  rather  shrinks  from  them. 


186  Russia  of  the  Russians 

He  sees  life  piecemeal  with  the  eyes  of  a  sceptic,  and  it  is 
characteristic  of  his  temper  that  he  wrote  not  novels,  but 
short  stories  and  tales.  The  first  weapon  with  which  he 
approached  reality  was  humour,  and  his  earlier  stories  were 
light,  amusing  sketches,  published  in  comic  journals.  He 
never  lost  his  humour,  but  it  developed  into  a  faculty  of 
keen,  dispassionate  analysis,  while  with  the  years  his  prac- 
tical common  sense  grew  into  large-hearted  wisdom.  The 
doctrinaire  attitude  he  detested ;  he  held  aloof  from  the 
schools  and  disputes  of  the  intelligentsia,  and  had  a  rooted 
dislike  for  the  "  thick  journals."  Chehov  is  like  Maupassant 
in  some  respects,  but  there  is  a  glitter  in  Maupassant's  work 
that  is  absent  from  that  of  the  Russian  writer.  Chehov  charms 
by  a  sobriety  of  demeanour  that  lights  up  into  subtle  humour 
or  suggests  far  extending  wastes  of  hopelessness,  but  never 
permits  of  the  blurring  of  a  single  outline.  There  are  many 
who  can  describe  life  in  Southern  lands  with  their  obvious 
picturesqueness  and  warmth  of  colour.  It  requires  extra- 
ordinary skill  to  describe  as  Chehov  has  done  the  dreary 
vacuity  of  the  Russian  North  in  time  of  reaction. 

Chehov  was  the  son  of  a  peasant  turned  shopkeeper,  and 
was  by  profession  a  doctor.  These  circumstances  perhaps 
partially  explain  his  aversion  from  theory.  He  was  a  con- 
stant observer,  and  has  described  in  his  stories  a  whole  world 
of  the  Russian  characters  of  his  time — cattle-drivers,  railway 
guards,  country  gentlemen,  waiters,  innkeepers,  professors, 
students,  doctors,  especially  Zemstvo  doctors,  nurses,  soldiers, 
merchants,  Government  officials,  various  types  of  the  intelli- 
gentsia, women  of  all  kinds,  silly  and  clever,  housemaids  and 
fashionable  women,  professional  women,  peasant  women, 
prostitutes,  cab-drivers,  bath-keepers,  broken  men,  madmen, 
brutal  men,  noble  men,  vulgar  men — there  is  no  end  to  the 
long  procession  that  passes  on  and  on  under  grey  skies — 
whither  and  to  what  purpose,  Chehov  does  not  choose  to 
know.  The  hopelessness  of  the  time  is  in  his  stories,  the 
wistful  longings  and  the  willessness  and  powerlessness  of  the 


.(.TON    CHEHOV 


Literature  187 

educated  class,  the  superficial  culture  of  the  towns  with  its 
frequent  lapses  into  vulgarity,  and  the  ironical  smile  of  a 
depressing  yet  elusive  reality. 

After  all  for  Chehov  reality  is  elusive.  For  all  the  clear- 
ness and  steadiness  of  his  gaze  prosaic  reality  becomes  as  he 
looks  upon  it  enigmatic  and  symbolical,  the  sober,  restrained 
march  of  his  prose  breaks  into  poetry,  the  sceptic's  emotional 
apprehension  of  life  becomes  mystical.  Chehov's  characters 
are  often  sentimental,  Chehov  himself  never  is,  but  he  is 
sometimes  mystical,  because  the  very  faithfulness  of  his 
record  of  life  brings  him  into  touch  with  elemental  forces. 
At  times  it  is  as  though  these  elemental  forces  themselves 
enter  into  his  exposition  and  form  the  images  which  suggest 
their  mysterious  working.  And  this  in  natural  perspective, 
without  any  blurring  of  the  mercilessly  clear  outline  of  the 
story.  The  Black  Monk,  for  instance, — an  English  trans- 
lation of  which  has  been  published  by  Mr.  R.  E.  C.  Long — 
the  story  of  a  scholar  who  was  haunted  by  a  black  monk, 
and  finally  died  of  a  sharp  attack  of  the  mental  and  physical 
disease  of  which  these  apparitions  were  the  symptom,  is  not 
merely  a  clever  account  of  an  interesting  pathological  case. 
The  very  reticence  of  the  narrative  excludes  a  purely  physical 
explanation  of  the  story  which  rather  resembles  Garshin's 
stories  in  its  suggestion  of  strange  forces  at  play  on  the  fringe 
of  personality.  To  take  an  instance  of  a  different  kind, 
Chehov  has  a  short  and  very  vivid  account  of  a  young  and 
vigorous  station-master  who  lives  on  a  lonely  wayside  station 
in  the  Southern  Steppe  with  a  wife  whom  he  does  not 
love.  A  coquette,  a  relative  of  his  wife's,  appears,  and  a 
hurricane  of  elemental  passion  sweeps  the  station-master 
off  his  feet  and  devastates  his  life.  The  story  is  told 
directly,  simply,  without  comment,  without  explanation,  as 
a  fact,  like  a  storm  at  sea.  But  it  awakens  something  of  the 
awe  that  is  aroused  by  the  operation  of  powerful  natural 
forces. 

It  is  frequently  asserted  that  Chehov  is  a  pessimist.    He 


188  Russia  of  the  Russians 

is  nothing  so  downright  as  that.  From  a  theoretical  point 
of  view  he  is  inconclusive.  He  records,  leaves  facts  to  speak 
for  themselves,  and  leaves  questions  perpetually  open.  But 
his  fundamental  attitude  is  one  of  reverence  for  the  bare 
fact  of  life,  for  the  strange,  vast  play  of  forces  in  which  man 
with  his  feeble  will  and  blundering  reason  is  pitilessly  in- 
volved. The  keenness  of  his  artistic  interest  in  the  sorry 
adventures  of  weak  human  beings  on  their  way  through  life 
had  its  origin  in  a  warm  sympathy  for  man  as  man.  And 
perhaps  that  wistful  longing  for  a  "  brighter  future  "  which 
is  so  often  expressed  by  Chehov's  characters  is  the  echo  of  a 
feeling  that  deeply  stirred  his  own  heart. 

There  has  been  a  great  deal  of  discussion  about  Chehov's 
plays,  and  the  question  as  to  their  real  value  and  importance 
is  not  settled  yet.  These  plays,  the  titles  of  which  are  Ivanov, 
The  Three  Sisters,  Uncle  Vania,  The  Seagull,  and  The  Cherry 
Garden,  form  a  distinctive  type  which  has  found  a  few  feeble 
imitators,  but  does  not  seem  destined  to  hold  its  ground 
permanently  for  the  simple  reason  that  it  reflects  a  now 
almost  forgotten  mood  of  an  epoch  that  is  past.  It  is  in 
connection  with  the  theatre  that  Chehov's  plays  should  be 
discussed,  because  it  was  in  their  production  that  the  Artistic 
Theatre  in  Moscow  first  gave  expression  to  its  original  con- 
ceptions of  the  drama  and  won  its  reputation.  What  Chehov's 
plays  are  as  produced  by  the  Moscow  Theatre  is  one  thing,  what 
they  are  as  literature  is  quite  another.  And  as  literature  it 
must  be  admitted  that  they  are  disappointing.  Chehov's 
characteristic  lowness  of  tone,  his  careful  avoidance  of  the 
unusual,  his  inconclusiveness,  his  habit  of  ending  with  an 
interrogation  note  do  not  harmonise  with  the  dramatic  form. 
The  drama  demands  the  contrast  of  light  and  shade,  that 
heightening  of  tone,  and  that  element  of  illusion  which 
Chehov,  in  his  scepticism,  deliberately  tried  to  avoid.  There 
is  a  certain  mild  beauty  in  the  plays  as  of  the  sighing  of  leaves 
in  a  lime-tree  avenue  in  autumn,  but  how  much  more  obvi- 
ously is  the  author's  talent  at  home  in  the  tales.    Of  quite 


Literature  189 

a  different  character  are  Chehov's  jolly  little  one  act  comedies 
like  The  Wedding  and  The  Bear,  which  never  fail  to  arouse 
roars  of  laughter  whether  the  performers  are  peasants  or 
artists. 

Chehov  spent  the  later  years  of  his  life  at  his  villa  in  the 
Crimea  and  in  travelling  abroad  in  the  hope  of  restoring  his 
enfeebled  health.  He  died  at  Badenweiler  in  the  Black 
Forest  in  1904,  just  before  the  close  of  the  epoch  which  found 
in  him  its  most  talented  interpreter.  During  his  lifetime 
the  critics  long  refused  to  recognise  him.  He  was  too  inde- 
pendent. He  insisted  on  looking  at  life  with  his  own  eyes 
and  not  through  the  spectacles  of  any  school.  And  the 
critics  declared  that  he  had  no  ideals,  that  he  was  callous 
to  suffering,  that  it  was  a  matter  of  indifference  to  him 
whether  he  described  a  bird  or  an  execution,  that  his  writings 
had  no  clearly  marked  moral  tendency.  Chehov  went  his 
own  way  in  spite  of  the  critics.  The  public  recognised  him, 
and  in  the  end  it  was  the  warmth  of  public  recognition  that 
compelled  the  critics  to  take  his  work  more  seriously  into 
account. 

Who  is  the  greater,  Chehov  or  Gorky  ?  This  question  was 
at  one  time  hotly  debated.  It  has  lost  interest  now,  for  the 
answer  in  Chehov's  favour  is  simple  and  clear.  But  when 
Maxim  Gorky's  first  stories  appeared  in  1895  and  1896  they 
were  enthusiastically  acclaimed  alike  by  the  public  and  the 
critics.  He  rose  to  fame  in  a  day.  The  brilliance  of  his 
reputation  obscured  that  of  all  his  contemporaries.  His  books 
had  a  success  unprecedented  in  Russia.  Twenty-five  thou- 
sand copies  of  his  play  Townsfolk  were  sold  in  fifteen  days 
after  its  publication  in  1900.  Gorky  was  feted  everywhere, 
welcomed  at  railway  stations  by  cheering  crowds,  besieged 
in  the  green  rooms  of  theatres  by  mobs  of  ecstatic  students. 
His  success  resembled  that  of  an  opera  singer  rather  than 
that  of  a  writer.  After  the  death  of  the  poet  Nekrasov  in 
1877  it  had  been  the  custom  to  honour  distinguished  authors 
by  attending  their  funerals  en  masse  and  listening  to  speeches 


190  Russia  of  the  Russians 

over  their  graves.  But  no  writer  had  ever  been  honoured 
during  his  lifetime  as  was  this  young  expert  in  the  psychology 
of  the  tramp. 

Gorky  was  a  picturesque  figure  and  had  had  an  adven- 
turous career.    He  was  born  in  Nizhni  Novgorod  in  1869, 

his  real  name  being  Alexander  Maksimovich 
Maxim  Gorky.  Peshkov.      His    father    had    charge    of    a 

steamship  office  and  his  grandfather,  with 
whom  he  lived  after  his  father's  death,  was  a  dyer.  When 
Gorky  was  seven  penury  overtook  the  old  dyer, 
and  the  boy  was  thrust  into  the  career  of  a  jack-of-all-trades. 
He  worked  in  a  boot  shop,  was  apprenticed  to  a  draughts- 
man— from  whom  he  ran  away — was  cook's  boy  on  a  Volga 
steamer,  a  baker's  assistant  in  Kazan,  and  a  fruit  hawker  in 
Nizhni  Novgorod.  In  the  course  cff  his  wanderings  he  fell 
into  the  company  of  tramps,  vagabonds,  and  all  kinds  of  odd 
characters  who  afterwards  served  as  material  for  his  stories. 
The  cook  he  worked  for  on  the  Volga  steamer  was  an  ardent 
reader,  and  stimulated '  by  his  example,  Gorky  devoured 
chap-books  of  the  Dick  Turpin  type.  Later  in  Kazan  he 
associated  with  University  students  and  read  the  Russian 
classics.  At  the  age  of  twenty  he  became  a  lawyer's  clerk 
in  Nizhni  Novgorod  and  made  many  friends  among  the  edu- 
cated people  of  the  town.  But  again  the  waftdering  spirit 
came  upon  him.  He  drifted  to  the  south  of  Russia,  worked 
as  a  lumper  in  Odessa,  and  as  a  fisherman  on  the  Caspian, 
suffering  great  hardships  but  enjoying  a  wild,  irresponsible 
liberty.  While  employed  in  the  railway  workshops  in  Tiflis 
in  1892  Gorky  printed  his  first  story  in  a  local  newspaper. 
Other  stories  of  his  were  printed  in  newspapers  in  Kazan  and 
Nizhni  Novgorod,  and  in  1894  his  work  attracted  the  atten- 
tion of  Korolenko,  who  was  then  living  in  the  latter  town. 
Gorky's  acquaintance  with  Korolenko  opened  his  way  into 
a  broader  literary  world.  From  1895  onwards  he  published 
his  stories  in  the  "  thick  journals,"  where  their  success  was 
immediately  assured.    The  tales  of  the  "  son  of  the  people," 


Literature  191 

as  Gorky  was  called,  described  aspects  of  life  that  had  until 
then  been  barely  touched  on  in  Russian  literature.  They 
gave  vivid  pictures  of  the  lot  of  roving,  restless  vagabonds 
with  no  occupation  in  particular,  with  no  home  but  the  night- 
shelter  or  a  boat  upturned  on  the  shore,  of  men  and  women 
who  were  regarded  as  the  outcasts  of  society.  And  this  life 
was  described  with  such  zest  and  vigour,  with  such  a  wealth 
of  colour,  and  such  an  infectious  contempt  for  property  and 
dull  comfort  and  a  delight  in  roving  for  its  own  sake  that 
it  is  not  surprising  that  the  public  imagination  was  suddenly 
touched  and  charmed.  The  popularity  of  Gorky's  tales  was 
enhanced  by  the  fact  that  the  author  himself  had  risen  from 
the  depths ;  his  reputation  gained  from  the  prevailing  Socialist 
temper  an  added  lustre.  It  was  because  he  was  a  self-made 
man  of  the  people  that  Gorky  so  quickly  succeeded  in  winning 
the  approval  of  that  school  of  criticism  which  first  and 
foremost  sought  social  tendencies  in  literature. 

Those  early  stories  of  Gorky's  in  which  he  set  down  his 
impressions  of  vagabond  life,  such  as  Malva,  Chelkash,  and 
They  who  were  once  Men,  were  fresh  and  spirited,  and  dis- 
played real  talent.  They  contained  vivid  descriptions  of 
nature,  the  characters  lived  and  breathed,  and  there  was  a 
piquant  flavour  of  tramp  philosophy.  The  standpoint  was 
novel  and  the  grasp  direct.  It  would  be  interesting  to  specu- 
late what  might  have  happened  to  Gorky  if  he  had  been  able 
to  cultivate  his  artistic  powers  while  retaining  his  individuality 
intact.  But  fame  came  too  suddenly  for  him,  a  fame  that 
was  largely  due  to  circumstances  that  had  nothing  to  do 
with  his  literary  merits.  And  the  real  Gorky  was  swept 
away  in  the  current  of  his  own  clamorous  reputation.  Raw, 
uneducated,  jnexperienced  as  he  was  in  the  ways  of  the 
literary  world-,  he  was  drawn  into  the  endless  disputes  of  the 
intelligentsia.  He  tried  to  see  himself  as  the  critics  saw  him, 
and  to  put  into  his  later  work  the  tendencies  that  critics 
imagined  they  perceived  in  his  early  stories.  He  identified 
himself  with  Marxian  Socialists.    But   his  association  with 


192  Russia  of  the  Russians 

the  intelligentsia  robbed  him  of  his  native  power,  while,  un- 
fortunately for  Gorky,  those  literary  circles  in  which  he 
moved  were  more  interested  in  social  theories  than  in  art, 
and  were  unable  to,  show  him  how  to  cultivate  the  talent  he 
actually  possessed.  Gorky  continued  to  write,  drawing 
freely  on  his  store  of  picturesque  reminiscences.  But  he 
wrote  at  random  with  a  liberal  use  of  bright  colours  and  with 
little  care  in  selection.  His  style  lost  its  nervous  vigour  and 
directness,  and  slipshod  paraphrase  frequently  took  the  place 
of  imagery.  He  made  two  attempts  in  Fotna  Gordieiev  and 
A  Trio  to  write  larger  tales  or  novels,  but  with  only  moderate 
success.  A  Trio — a  novel  full  of  reminiscences  of  the 
author's  boyhood  in  Nizhni  Novgorod — bored  him,  and  he 
found  difficulty  in  finishing  it.  For  a  time  his  talent 
recovered  energy  in  the  drama.  Two  plays,  The  Townsfolk 
(1901)  and  In  the  Abyss  (1902),  had  a  well-deserved  suc- 
cess in  Russia,  and  the  latter,  which  describes  life  in  a 
night-shelter,  was  extraordinarily  successful  on  the  German 
stage. 

After  the  publication  of  In  the  Abyss  Gorky's  power 
steadily  declined.  He  wrote  other  plays,  but  they  attracted 
comparatively  little  attention.  His  personality,  however, 
was  constantly  in  the  forefront  of  public  interest.  In  1902 
he  was  elected  member  of  Hie  Section  of  Belles  Lettres  in  the 
Academy  of  Science,  but  the  police  insisted  on  his  returning 
the  diploma  on  the  ground  that  he  was  politically  unsound. 
Chehov  and  Korolenko,  indignant  at  the  treatment  of  their 
colleague,  immediately  resigned  their  membership  of  the 
Academy.  At  the  beginning  of  1905  Gorky  was  arrested, 
together  with  other  writers  whom  the  police,  alarmed  by  the 
labour  movement,  wrongly  suspected  of  having  formed  a 
Secret  Provisional  Government.  The  arrest  aroused  great 
indignation  abroad  and  meetings  of  protest  were  held  in 
nearly  every  country  in  Europe.  After  the  promulgation  of 
the  Constitution  in  October  Gorky  took  a  prominent  part 
in  a  Social  Democratic  paper  called  the  Novaia  Zhizn.   Later 


\ 

i 


MAXIM  GORKY 


Literature  193 

he  went  abroad  and,  prevented  by  the  reaction  from  returning 
to  Russia,  he  settled  on  the  island  of  Capri,  near  Naples,  where 
he  now  resides. 

Gorky  continues  to  write,  and  his  stories  are  published 
from  time  to  time  in  Russia.  One  of  them,  Confession,  the 
story  of  a  youth  who  wandered  over  Russia  with  orthodox 
pilgrims  in  search  of/  God  and  thought  he  had  found  what 
he  sought  in  an  idealised  conception  of  the  people  seemed 
to  promise  a  revival  of  Gorky's  former  power,  but  the  promise 
has  n6t  been  fulfilled. 

There  is  something  tragical  in  the  lot  of  this  strange  and 
original  writer.  He  is  a  man  of  the  people,  and  he  is  caught 
in  the  meshes  of  the  theories  of  the  schools.  A  Russian 
through  and  through,  who  draws  all  his  mental  and  spiritual 
nutriment  from  the  Russian  soil,  he  is  compelled  to  live  in 
exile  in  Western  Europe  whose  complex  civilisation  oppresses 
him.  He  revolts  against  his  position.  He  feels  himself 
bound  hand  and  foot.  The  elemental  instincts  of  his  nature 
find  expression  in  bitter  reproaches  directed  against  the 
intelligentsia,  in  savage  attacks  on  the  bourgeoise  of  Western 
Europe.  He  chafes  and  rebels,  helplessly.  After  attaining 
fame  and  wealth  with  unprecedented  suddenness  he  endures 
in  his  distant  island  home  the  humiliation  of  reading  articles 
by  Russian  critics  on  "  The  End  of  Gorky."  "  Gorky,  the 
Bitter  One,1'  he  signed  his  stories,  because  of  the  hardships 
of  his  boyhood  and  youth,  because  of  the  world's  contemptu- 
ous indifference  to  his  sufferings.  And  in  middle  age  a 
deeper  bitterness — the  bitterness  of  the  contemptuous  rejection 
of  a  world  that  had  toyed  with  him — has  fallen  heavily  upon 
him. 

Perhaps  Gorky's  work  is  done.  And  yet  there  is  some- 
thing in  his  personality  so  disquieting,  such  a  tantalising 
suggestion  of  unused  talent  struggling  to  free  itself  from 
artificial  impediments  that  it  would  be  rash  to  deny  the 
possibility  of  fresh  and  surprising  developments  in  his  literary 
career. 


194  Russia  of  the  Russians 

Gorky  was  "  discovered  "  by  Korolenko,  and  he  in  turn 
discovered  in  Moscow  in  1897  a  new  writer  in  the  person  of 

a  briefless  young  lawyer  named  Leonid 
Andreiev.  Andreiev,  who  has  since  attained  a  popu- 
larity rivalling  Gorky's  own.  Andreiev  is  one 
of  the  most  puzzling  of  modern  Russian  writers,  the  true 
child  of  a  troubled  time.  His  work  has  very  great  and  very 
obvious  defects  that  again  and  again  threaten  wholly  to 
obscure  the  talent  that  this  disappointing  writer  undoubtedly 
possesses.  It  is  unfortunate  for  Andreiev  that  his  now  wan- 
ing popularity  was  due  largely  to  the  least  characteristic,  the 
inessential  and  the  defective  aspects  of  his  work,  to  his  ten- 
dency to  rhetorical  exaggeration  and  to  a  pessimism  which 
was  largely,  though  not  wholly,  a  pose.  Andreiev  chose  to 
make  himself  the  apostle  of  unrelieved  gloom,  and  at  a  time 
when  in  many  the  fire  of  life  was  burning  low  and  over  con- 
sciousness shadows  were  hanging  heavily  there  was  a  dis- 
position to  take  him  at  his  word.  Numbers  of  people  re- 
garded him  as  a  master,  and  lectures  on  the  philosophy  of 
his  writings  attracted  large  audiences.  As  a  matter  of  fact, 
this  philosophy  is  neither  complex  nor  profound,  but  it  satis- 
fied for  a  time  the  thirst  for  broad  generalisation  and  sum- 
mary interpretations  of  the  meaning  of  life  that  is  still  a 
characteristic  feature  of  the  Russian  public. 

Andreiev's  early  stories  were  well  written,  but  there  was  little 
to  distinguish  them  from  many  other  short  stories  of  the 
period  except  a  certain  hardness  of  outline  and  an  unusual 
insistence  on  despair.  In  the  Life  of  Vastly  Fiveisky  (1904), 
the  story  of  the  attempt  of  a  half-insane  village  priest  to 
raise  a  dead  man,  the  tendencies  that  are  most  characteristic 
of  Andreiev's  later  work  were  sharply  defined.  He  concen- 
trated his  attention  on  the  element  of  the  horrible  that  is 
inseparable  from  crime,  insanity,  and  moral  breakdown. 
And  it  is  because  Andreiev  isolates  the  horrible  and  uses  it 
too  obviously  for  the  purposes  of  literary  effect  that,  as  a 
stylist,   he   so   frequently  misses  his   footing.    From    1904 


Literature  195 

onward  his  style  was  adapted  to  a  pose.  His  lines  are  hard 
and  jagged.  He  seems  of  set  purpose  to  abstain  from  gently 
flowing  outline.  The  sunlight  he  describes  has  a  metallic 
and  not  a  vital  gleam.  His  characters — in  the  dramas  and 
most  of  the  later  tales — do  not  move ;  they  are  moved  with 
a  deliberate,  measured  movement  suggestive  of  a  mechanical 
contrivance. 

A  sketch  called  Red  Laughter,  written  in  1905,  during 
the  Manchurian  struggle  and  describing  the  horrors  of  war, 
is  very  characteristic  of  Andreiev's  manner.  The  opening 
words,  "  Madness  and  horror  1  "  are  the  burden  of  the  tale, 
but  the  horror  is  stated  insistently  in  so  many  words,  the 
perception  of  it  is  conveyed  not  by  tortuous  plot  or  insidious 
suggestion,  but  by  downright  epithets  and  obvious  imagery, 
faie  result  was  aptly  described  by  Tolstoy  :  "  Andreiev  says 
'  Bo  ! '    but  he  leaves  me  cold." 

In  some  stories  of  the  revolutionary  period  told  with 
simplicity  and  directness,  such  as  The  Governor  and  the 
Seven  Men  Hanged,  Andreiev  displays  a  distinct  power  of 
grim,  restrained  narrative.  The  play,  The  Life  of  Man,  pro- 
duced by  the  Komisarzhevskaia  Theatre  in  St.  Petersburg 
and  the  Artistic  Theatre  in  Moscow,  aroused  great  interest 
in  Russia  and  has  been  much  discussed  abroad.  It  is  the 
bare  outline  of  what  Andreiev  regards  as  the  life  of  a  typical 
man  stripped  of  all  accidentals.  A  prologue  is  declaimed 
by  a  "  Someone  in  grey  named  He  "  ;  then  in  successive  scenes 
are  depicted  the  birth  of  the  man,  his  love,  his  worldly  suc- 
cess, his  failure  and  his  death.  Life  is  represented  as  the 
mere  burning  down  of  a  candle  to  extinction,  a  passage  from 
nothingness  to  nothingness  across  a  lighted  stage  over  which 
inscrutable  and  unfriendly  powers  are  watching.  Love  is  an 
illusion,  success  is  an  illusion,  life  has  no  meaning.  Andreiev's 
hard  lines,  his  stiff,  measured  movement  serve  well  here  to 
enhance  the  designed  geometrical  effect.  The  rhetoric  habit- 
ual to  him  is  not  out  of  place  in  scenes  deliberately  abstracted 
on  account  of  their  supposed  typical  character  from   the 


196  Russia  of  the  Russians 

complex  processes  of  life.  The  play  has  the  impressiveness  of 
a  definite  mood  of  generalisation  presented  in  sharp  outline. 
The  defects  are  a  shallowness  of  conception  and  a  too  facile 
and  complacent  pessimism. 

Since  1905  Andreiev  has  been  extraordinarily  productive, 
Not  a  year  passes  without  the  appearance  of  tales  or  plays 
from  his  pen,  and  until  about  1912  every  new  work  of  his  was 
eagerly  bought  and  read  by  an  army  of  admirers.  Some  of 
the  plays,  like  Sawa  and  King  Hunger,  contain  echoes  of  the 
labour  movement  and  the  revolution.  In  Anathema,  an 
attempt  at  philosophical  tragedy  with  a  Satan,  representing 
the  reasoning  faculty  in  man  as  the  central  figure,  the  author's 
lack  of  intellectual  discipline  and  his  weakness  for  rhetoric 
lead  to  a  result  that  can  only  be  described  as  a  pretentious 
failure.  Black  Masks  in  which  the  associates  of  the  hero,  a 
hypothetical  mediaeval  duke,  became  transformed  into  a 
throng  of  black  masks  representing  his  own  evil  deeds,  while 
in  the  final  scene  the  black  masks  themselves  are  trans- 
formed into  a  pouring,  engulfing  darkness  of  absolute  night,  is 
too  full  of  calculated  and  exaggerated  horror  to  be  impressive 
or  convincing.  Anphisa,  which  enjoys  some  success  on  the 
stage,  is  a  sordid  study  of  provincial  manners,  and  The  Days 
of  our  Life  is  an  overdrawn  picture  of  the  life  of  University 
students.  The  latest  of  Andreiev's  plays,  Ekaterina  Ivanovna, 
though  very  defective  in  construction,  is  based  on  an  interest- 
ing idea,  that  of  a  young,  beautiful,  and  sensitive  woman 
losing  her  moral  balance  and  sinking  into  depravity  because 
her  husband's  unwarranted  charge  of  infidelity  "  killed  her 
soul,"  although  the  revolver  shots  he  fired  at  her  in  his  anger 
failed  even  to  wound  her  body.  One  of  the  most  characteristic 
of  the  tales  published  by  Andreiev  in  recent  years  is  Eleazar, 
describing  the  life  of  Lazarus  after  his  resurrection.  The 
Russian  author,  far  from  observing  the  reticence  which 
Browning  observed  in  dealing  with  the  same  subject,  em- 
ploys with  depressing  results  his  favourite  instrument  of 
rhetoric  in  order  to  heighten  an  effect  of  horror.     Lazarus 


Literature  197 

is  represented  as  a  gruesome  shape  whose  look,  full  of  the 
dreadful  vision  of  infinite  nothingness  seen  in  the  tomb, 
paralyses  vital  energy  in  all  upon  whom  it  falls.  But  the 
impression  intended  to  be  conveyed  is  marred,  is  in  fact 
almost  wholly  obscured,  as  in  a  great  deal  of  Andreiev's 
work,  by  irreparable  failures  of  tact  and  breaches  of 
proportion. 

Andreiev  is  a  perplexing  writer.  His  indulgence  in  cheap 
and  vulgar  effect  seems  at  times  to  suggest  the  entire  absence 
of  an  aesthetic  conscience.  He  lacks  humour,  and  for  want 
of  true  musical  sensitiveness  his  style  drops  into  bathos  at 
critical  moments.  Too  often  he  sets  himself  tasks  that  are 
manifestly  far  beyond  his  powers.  There  are  times  when  he 
may  be  said  to  serve  as  a  cinematograph  to  Dostoievsky, 
that  is  to  say,  problems  that  caused  Dostoievsky  acute 
spiritual  suffering  are  taken  up  by  Andreiev  for  the  pur- 
poses of  superficial,  pictorial  effect.  And  yet  Andreiev's 
frequent  gleams  of  talent  suggest  that  jf  he  would  realise 
his  own  limitations  and  shake  off  the  deleterious  effects  of 
his  own  inflated  popularity  he  might  yet  produce  work  of 
permanent  value. 

Contemporary  Russian  literature  is  divided  into  two  main 
schools,  that  of  the  so-called  "  modernists  "  or  symbolists, 
and  that  of  the  "  realists."  Andreiev,  for  all  his  toying  with 
symbolism,  must  be  classed  together  with  Gorky  and  his 
associates  among  the  realists.  Another  realist  who  deserves 
mention  at  this  point  is  Alexander  Kuprin.  Kuprin  is  a 
retired  officer,  and  his  most  successful  stories,  several  of  which 
have  been  translated  into  English,  deal  with  army  life.  He 
is  a  born  story-teller  with  a  power  of  vivid  description  and 
virile,  rapid  narration  that  is  displayed  at  its  best  in  his  early 
work.  Sometimes  he  relapses  into  declamation  on  social 
questions,  sometimes  he  is  sentimental,  but  generally  his 
humour  and  his  own  keen  interest  in  the  story  carry  him 
safely  through.  The  best  known  of  bis  works  is  The  Duel, 
a  longish  tale  depicting  the  cheerless  life  of  the  average  officer 


198  Russia  of  the  Russians 

in  a  remote  provincial  town.  Staff  Captain  Rubinkov,  a 
story  of  a  Japanese  spy,  is,  as  a  sheer  rattling  story,  one  of 
the  best  that  has  been  written  in  Russia  during  recent  years. 
Unfortunately  Kuprin  has  almost  ceased  to  write,  and  when 
he  does  write  he  shows  only  faint  gleams  of  his  old  power. 

At  the  present  moment  the  realists  are  obscured  by  the 
modernists.  The  modernist  movement — the  name  like  "  deca- 
dent "  and  "  symbolist,"  which  are  also  fre- 

T^owmentiSt  Quentty  used*  *s  largely  a  conventional  desig- 
nation— had  its  origin  in  a  protest  made  by 
a  few  writers  in  the  early  'nineties  against  a  subordination  of 
art  to  political  ends.  These  writers,  the  poets  Balmont  and 
Briusov,  and  the  critic  Merezhkovsky,  insisted  that  art  was 
concerned  first  and  foremost  with  beauty,  not  with  morality, 
and  that  its  true  function  was  to  appeal  directly  to  the  imag- 
ination and  not  to  inculcate  moral  ideas.  Some  writers  of 
the  group,  Briusov,  for  instance,  were  strongly  influenced  by 
the  French  symbolists,  Verlaine  and  Mallarme,  and  French 
influence  has  made  itself  constantly  felt  in  the  movement 
down  to  the  present  moment.  The  modernists  urged  the 
great  importance  of  form,  refused  to  admit  that  the  resources 
of  form  had  been  exhausted  in  Russian  literature  and  under- 
took experiments  in  style.  Their  rejection  of  the  prevailing 
view  that  literature  was  a  form  of  social  service  was  accom- 
panied by  an  emphatic  assertion  of  individualism.  Art  must 
not  be  sacrificed  to  morality  or  politics,  urge  the  modernists, 
neither  must  the  individual  be  sacrificed  to  society.  In  the 
assertion  of  individualism  the  influence  of  Nietzsche  played 
an  important  part. 

The  ruling  school  of  critics,  Mikhailovsky  and  his  associ- 
ates, derided  the  new  movement,  made  much  of  its  excesses 
and  wholly  ignored  its  real  merits.  A  monthly  called  the 
Sieverny  Viestnik  (Northern  Messenger),  edited  by  Madame 
Gurevich,  which  acted  as  the  organ  of  the  modernist  move- 
ment, was  compelled  to  cease  publication  at  the  end  of  its 
second  year   (in   1897),  "  for    lack  of   subscribers,"    as   its 


Literature  199 

opponents  complacently  observed.  The  Sieverny  Viestnik  did 
good  service  in  making  its  readers  acquainted  with  literary 
tendencies  in  Western  Europe  and  in  weakening  that  attitude 
of  dogmatic  conservatism  on  literary  questions  which  had 
proved  such  an  impediment  to  development  and  had  pre- 
vented the  adequate  recognition  of  the  one  great  outstanding 
writer  of  the  period,  Chehov.  Merezhkovsky's  critical  studies 
of  classical,  Western  European,  and  Russian  writers,  attracted 
adherents  to  the  new  school,  and  from  the  beginning  of  the 
present  century  onward  the  movement  has  steadily  developed. 
It  could  not  but  develop.  It  represented  an  attempt  to  re- 
gain intellectual  touch  with  Europe,  to  reassert  the  intrinsic 
value  of  literature  and  art.  It  drew  attention  afresh  to  the 
treasures  of  Russian  literature.  It  pointed  out  the  great- 
ness of  Dostoievsky  which  had  at  the  best  been  grudgingly 
admitted  by  the  critics  of  the  'eighties  and  the  'nineties. 

There  was  inevitable  exaggeration  and  over-emphasis. 
There  were  oddities  which  were  eagerly  seized  on  by  hostile 
critics.  The  modernists  had  no  fixed  body  of  doctrine. 
Several  different  currents  of  thought  connected  only  by  a 
common  antipathy  to  the  "  realist  "  attitude  were  included 
in  a  general  condemnation  of  "  decadence."  The  poets, 
Briusov  and  Balmont  were  eagerly  experimenting  in  new  forms 
of  poetical  beauty.  Merezhkovsky  was  interested  in  philo- 
sophical questions,  and  asserted  what  was  considered  rank 
heresy  by  the  realists,  that  highly-educated  and  progressive 
men  might  sincerely  believe  in  God  and  even  find  elements 
of  profound  truth  in  the  Orthodox  Church.  Rozanov  paid 
special  attention  to  sexual  problems  and  questions  connected 
with  family  life  and  the  training  of  children.  Diagilev  and 
Filosofov  were  interested  mainly  in  questions  of  art.  But 
all  were  agreed  on  one  point,  that  literature  and  art  had  a 
value  of  their  own,  independently  of  questions  as  to  forms 
of  Government,  the  relations  between  capital  and  labour  and 
the  ownership  of  land. 

The  new  movement  expressed  itself  in  various  ways.    A 

14— (2400) 


200  Russia  of  the  Russians 

Religious  Philosophical  Society,  founded  in  St.  Petersburg 
mainly  through  the  instrumentality  of  Merezhkovsky,  served 
as  a  centre  for  debates  on  the  philosophy  of  history,  on 
ecclesiastical  politics,  and  on  the  doctrinal  problems  of  the 
Orthodox  Church.    The  society  directly  continued  the  work 
of  the  philosopher,  poet,  theologian,  and  publicist,  Vladimir 
Soloviev,  who  died  in  the  year  of  its  foundation.    The  artists 
connected  with  the  modernist  movement  founded  in  1899  a 
monthly   called   Mir  Iskusstva   (The  World  of  Art),  which 
gave  reproductions  of  pictures  of  the  latest   French   and 
Russian  schools,  critical  articles  advocating  new,   and  for 
Russia,  startling  views  on  art,  and  prose  and  verse  by  the 
best  of  the  modernist  writers.     In   1903  Madame  Merezh- 
kovsky founded  a  literary  and  philosophical  monthly  called 
Novy  Put  (the  New  Way).    The  venture  was  not  wholly  suc- 
cessful, and  towards  the  close  of  1904,  when  politics  assumed 
a  new  and  very  actual  interest,  greater  prominence  was  given 
to  the  economical  and  political  section  ;    the  monthly  was 
renamed  Voprosy  Zhizni  (Questions  of  Life),  and  in  its  new 
form  subsisted  until  the  end  of  1905.     In  Moscow  Briusov 
founded  a  much  smaller  review  called  Viesy  (Scales),  devoted 
solely  to  art,  poetry,  belles-lettres,  and  criticism.     This  review, 
which  was  conducted  by  Briusov  with  great  ability  and  acu- 
men, was  for  the  seven  years  of  its  existence  the  centre  of  the 
modernist  movement  in  Moscow.     In  1906  a  new  St.  Peters- 
burg group  was  formed  with  the  poet  and  critic  Viacheslav 
Ivanov  as  its  centre.    The  upheaval  of  ideas  caused  by  the 
revolutionary   movement   of    1905   made   an   irreconcilably 
hostile  attitude  to  the  modernist  movement  largely  obsolete. 
Balmont's  poems  suddenly  became  popular  among  the  stu- 
dents, and   "decadents,"    symbolists,"    and   "modernists" 
came  to  be  regarded  as  curiously  odd  and  tantalising  but 
undoubtedly  very  interesting  people.    Modernist  influences 
gained  in  strength,  realists  went  over  to  the  modernist  camp, 
the  movement  lost  its  strangeness,  many  of  its  watchwords 
were  generally  accepted  in  the  mood  of  wild  eclecticism  that 


Literature  201 

marked  the  years  immediately  following  on  the  revolution ; 
it  has  suffered  the  drawbacks  of  being  fashionable,  it  has  been 
caricatured  and  vulgarised.  At  the  same  time  the  turmoil 
of  the  revolution  affected  the  modernists,  aroused  their 
interest  in  social  and  political  conflicts,  brought  them  into 
touch  with  mass  movements  and  gave  their  teaching  a  social 
and  political  colouring.  Briusov,  Balmont,  and  Viacheslav 
Ivanov  wrote  poems  on  the  war,  the  revolution,  and  the 
Constitution.  In  a  poem  called  "  The  Coming  Huns  "  Briusov 
welcomed  in  the  spirit  of  a  true  decadent  the  onrush  of  wild 
elements  destructive  of  culture.  Viacheslav  Ivanov  developed 
theories  concerning  the  people  as  the  creator  of  artistic  values 
and  of  myth-creation  as  an  essential  element  in  literature. 
Some  modernists  became  philosophical  socialists.  Others 
became  philosophical  or  "  mystical "  anarchists.  Merezh- 
kovsky,  who  was  absent  from  Russia  during  the  revolutionary 
period,  discussed  on  his  return  the  religious  element  in  the 
revolution.  The  Religious  Philosophical  Society,  which  in 
1908  resumed  its  sittings  after  a  long  interruption,  welcomed 
into  its  midst  social  democratic  philosophers  and  debated 
the  question,  partly  suggested  by  Gorky's  Confession,  as  to 
whether  the  people  might  in  any  sense  be  regarded  as  a 
possible  object  of  devotion.  Rozanov  for  a  time  observed 
with  keen  interest  the  play  of  popular  forces  in  the  political 
movement,  and  during  the  session  of  the  First  Duma  he  wan- 
dered about  the  Taurida  Palace  almost  daily,  noting  all  kinds 
of  curious  manifestations  of  human  instinct.  It  was  a  time 
of  exhilaration,  when  thought  was  free,  when  new  ideas  had 
an  effect  of  inspiration,  words  had  a  magic  power,  hazy  out- 
lines of  systems  seemed  complete  philosophies,  tradition  and 
convention  shadowy  and  wholly  negligible  illusions.  Every- 
thing seemed  possible.  Human  personality  seemed  illimitable 
and  invincible.  "  Let  us  shake  old  Chaos,  Let  us  tear  down 
the  firm-clamped  heaven  :  for  we  can,  we  can,  we  can," 
cried  a  young  poet,  Sergius  Gorodetsky,  in  Viacheslav  Ivanov's 
rooms  in  a  tower  overlooking  the  Taurida  Palace. 


202  Russia  of  the  Russians 

Everyone  was  a  little  mad  in  those  days,  and  in  the  general 
madness  modernists  ceased  to  appear  odd  and  abnormal. 
Such  startling  things  were  happening  that  realists  lost  their 
bearings  and  forgot  their  doctrines.  The  modernists  treated 
sexual  questions  with  freedom,  and  had  been  condemned  by 
the  realist  school  for  doing  so.  When  the  reaction  set  in 
after  the  revolutionary  movement  a  wave  of  excited  interest 
in  sexual  questions  passed  over  the  country  affecting  chiefly 
students  and  schoolboys  and  schoolgirls,  with  disastrous 
consequences  to  many.  The  immediate  occasion  of  this 
extraordinary  manifestation  of  mass  psychology  is  probably 
to  be  found  in  the  nervous  reaction  consequent  on  the  ex- 
treme tension  of  the  political  movement  in  1905  and  the  be- 
ginning of  1906.  It  was  reflected  in  literature,  many  modern- 
ists and  many  realists  surrendered  to  its  influence.  On  this 
point  a  hopeless  confusion  of  standards  and  values  arose, 
and  questions  of  art  and  questions  of  morality  were  inextric- 
ably entangled.  It  sometimes  happened  that  subjects  con- 
sidered by  the  modernists  as  matter  mainly  for  artistic  treat- 
ment were  regarded  by  the  realists  as  matter  for  didactic 
stories.  Thus  Artsybashev,  who  belongs  to  the  realist  school, 
wrote  a  novel,  Sanin,  in  which  "  I  desire  "  is  preached  as  the 
sole  law  of  conduct  with  the  same  seriousness  and  earnest- 
ness with  which  realists  of  an  earlier  date  inculcated  in  their 
novels  the  necessity  for  teaching  peasants  the  alphabet. 
Even  among  the  modernists  the  cool  air  of  detachment  char- 
acteristic of  French  writers  in  dealing  with  such  questions  is 
rarely  met  with.  It  must  be  noted,  too,  that  a  great  deal 
that  was  written  during  this  period  was  the  most  ordinary 
lubricity,  produced  to  meet  the  prevailing  demand,  and 
wholly  unrelated  to  literature. 

During  the  last  few  years  the  realists  have,  as  has  been 
noted,  practically  abandoned  the  field  to  the  modernists, 
and,  in  fact,  the  distinction  between  modernists  and  realists 
has  become  faint  and  shadowy,  and  the  very  names  seem 
like  an  echo  of  controversies  that  are  still.    The  modernist 


Literature  203 

plea  for  form  in  art  and  for  the  recognition  of  beauty  as  the 
chief  concern  of  art  has  been  generally  accepted  as  valid. 
All  the  distinguished  names  in  Russian  literature  now  are 
those  of  authors  who  have  been  affected  more  or  less  deeply 
by  the  modernist  movement.  The  modernists  are  no  longer 
a  narrow  coterie.  They  have  greatly  increased  in  numbers, 
have  split  up  into  various  groups,  publish  their  work  in 
nearly  all  the  monthlies  and  in  the  daily  papers,  develop  new 
tendencies  and  cultivate  new  forms.  For  two  or  three  years 
the  young  poets  of  St.  Petersburg,  united  in  a  society  known 
as  the  Society  of  Students ,  of  Russian  Literature,  eagerly 
debated  questions  of  style,  metre,  and  rhythm  under  the 
guidance  of  Viacheslav  Ivanov.  But  now  some  of  the  younger 
poets  have  revolted  against  their  teachers  and  have  founded 
groups  of  their  own  known  as  "  Acmeists,"  and  "  Futurists." 
Largely  as  the  result  of  the  modernist  movement  Russian 
literature  is  being  studied  with  new  interest.  Fresh  beauties 
are  constantly  being  discovered  in  the  greatest  of  the  Russian 
poets,  Pushkin ;  and  Tiutchev,  the  Russian  "  poet's  poet," 
has  been  raised  to  the  seat  of  honour  due  to  him. 

Valuable  material  illustrating  the  history  of  Russian 
literature — especially  during  the  first  half  of  the  nineteenth 
century — is  being  constantly  brought  to  light,  and  a  spirit 
of  broad  tolerance  of  various  schools  of  thought  is  growing, 
a  taste  for  literature  for  its  own  sake. 

The  pioneer  of  the  Modernist  Movement  is  undoubtedly 
Dimitri  Merezhkovsky,  and  he  has  played  an  important  part 

in  it  during  the  later  stages  of  its  develop- 

Merezhkovsk      ment-      Merezhkovsky   is  one  of  the  most 

prominent  figures  in  Russian  literature,  not 
so  much  by  reason  of  his  talent  as  on  account  of  his  restless 
energy  and  the  variety  of  his  intellectual  interests.  He  has 
written  several  volumes  of  verse  strongly  marked  by  French 
influence,  but  it  is  not  as  a  poet  that  he  will  be  remembered. 
His  function  is  rather  that  of  a  preacher,  and  in  his  brilliant 
critical  essays  and  in  his  historical  novels  he  can  never  rest 


204  Russia  of  the  Russians 

from  preaching,  indeed  the  aim  of  his  criticism  and  his  novel- 
writing  is  to  elucidate  and  to  win  adherents  for  .certain  broad 
religious  conceptions  of  history  that  for  years  have  engrossed 
him.  Merezhkovsky  is  a  widely-read  man,  with  excellent 
literary  taste,  a  keen  faculty  of  critical  analysis  and  great 
literary  ability.  In  his  series  of  novels,  the  Trilogy — 
Julian  the  Apostate,  Leonardo  da  Vinci ,  Peter  and  Alexis — 
and  the  recently  published  Alexander  J,  he  has  undertaken 
the  gigantic  task  of  tracing  through  the  Christian  Era  the 
development  of  a  conflict  between  Christ  and  Antichrist. 
The  energy  and  perseverance  with  which  Merezhkovsky  has 
carried  his  task  through  are  not  less  surprising  than  the  bold- 
ness of  the  enterprise.  That  the  result  is  of  the  highest 
artistic  or  philosophical  value  cannot  be  affirmed.  As  pic- 
tures of  strikingly  different  historical  epochs  all  four  novels 
are  interesting,  and  there  is  about  them  an  atmosphere  of 
keen  curiosity,  of  intellectual  restlessness  that  compensates 
for  many  defects.  An  immense  amount  of  historical  material 
has  been  collected  and  arranged  with  diligence  and  care  and 
sometimes  with  illuminating  effect.  To  impart  to  all  this 
material  the  tragic  intensity,  the  vast  sweep  suggested  by 
the  conception  on  which  the  Trilogy  is  based  would  demand 
a  vitality,  an  energy  of  talent  that  Merezhkovsky  does  not 
possess.  He  has  far  from  succeeded  in  giving  artistic  form 
to  his  philosophical  conception  of  history.  Many  of  his  char- 
acters are  feebly  drawn  and  archaeological  details  often 
burden  the  narrative  instead  of  being  absorbed  in  its  flow. 
None  the  less  this  series  of  novels  is  a  remarkable  achievement, 
and  has  had  no  small  effect  in  Russia  in  stimulating  interest 
in  religious  questions,  in  art,  and  in  the  philosophy  of  history. 
The  main  ideas  that  Merezhkovsky  seeks  to  convey  in  his 
novels  and  critical  essays  and  in  his  speeches  in  the  Religious 
Philosophical  Society  in  St.  Petersburg  may  be  briefly  stated 
as  follows.  There  are  three  epochs  in  the  history  of  mankind 
which  represent  a  thesis,  an  antithesis,  and  a  synthesis  re- 
spectively.   The   first    is    the    pre-Christian    epoch    which 


Literature  205 

regarded  God  as  being  in  the  world  and  one  with  the  world. 
This  was  the  epoch  of  the  Father.  The  second  is  the  Chris- 
tian epoch,  or  epoch  of  the  Son,  in  which  prevails  the  religion 
of  God  in  man,  God  incarnate,  the  God-man.  The  third 
epoch,  which  is  now  beginning,  is  that  of  the  Spirit,  or  that 
of  the  final  union  of  Logos  and  Kosmos  in  one  universal 
Being,  God-mankind.  While  Christianity  was  in  its  dynamic 
creative  period  it  hastened  towards  the  final  revelation,  the 
Apocalypse,  which  shall  unite  God  with  the  world,  the  spirit 
with  the  flesh,  and  heaven  with  earth.  But  when  Christian- 
ity became  petrified  in  dogma  and  in  monkish  asceticism, 
denied  the  phenomenal  world  in  the  name  of  a  transcendental 
God,  and  mortified  the  flesh  for  the  sake  of  fleshless  spirit, 
it  denied  the  religion  of  the  Father  and  claiming  to  be  the 
whole  truth  became  falsehood.  Then  the  first  half  of  the 
truth,  the  thesis,  that  is  to  say,  revolted  against  Christianity, 
flesh  against  spirit,  earth  against  heaven,  the  world  against 
God.  The  revolt  began  with  the  Renaissance,  and  is  being 
continued  at  the  present  day  in  anti-Christian  culture  in  art, 
science,  philosophy,  and  in  the  revolutionary,  social,  and 
political  tendencies  of  public  life.  But  the  apparent  godless- 
ness  of  the  modern  world  is  really  a  wrestling  with  God  like 
that  of  Jacob,  and  the  men  of  to-day  are  unconsciously 
wrestling  with  God,  not  with  the  Father  but  with  the  Son. 
And  for  that  reason  the  godless  men  of  to-day,  the  wrestlers 
with  Christ  are  nearer  to  Christ  than  the  Christians  are. 
"  And  Christ,"  declares  Merezhkovsky,  "  seeing  that  he  has 
not  prevailed  against  the  world,  will  say  to  it :  '  Let  me  go, 
for  the  day  breaketh.'  And  the  world  will  say  to  Christ : 
'  I  will  not  let  thee  go  except  thou  bless  me.'  And  Christ 
will  .bless  it  in  the  morning  dawn,  in  the  revelation  of  the 
Spirit,  in  the  third  Covenant,  and  will  give  mankind  a  new 
name,  the  name  of  God-Sonhood,  God-Mankind." 

This  is  the  conception  that  lies  at  the  basis  of  all  Merezh- 
kovsky's  work,  that  constitutes  the  "  message  "  of  his  his- 
torical novels.     In  its  development  the  influence  of  Nietzsche, 


206  Russia  of  the  Russians 

and  more  especially  of  Dostoievsky,  is  clearly  marked,  and 
the  assertion  that  the  final  word  establishing  the  synthesis 
between  the  thesis  and  the  antithesis  of  history  shall  come 
from  Russia  recalls  the  teaching  of  the  Slavophils.  In  his 
acute  and  penetrating  critical  study  Tolstoy  and  Dostoievsky, 
Merezhkovsky  illustrates  other  aspects  of  the  same  idea,  but 
the  rigorous  application  of  the  theory  leads  to  a  one-sidedness 
which  has  the  effect  of  obscuring  the  real  greatness  of  Tol- 
stoy. Merezhkovsky  has  published  a  number  of  critical 
studies  on  Pushkin,  Gogol,  and  other  Russian  and  European 
writers,  and  in  essays  in  the  monthlies  and  in  the  daily  press, 
most  of  which  have  been  published  in  volume  form,  has 
applied  his  religious  and  philosophical  ideas  to  various  phases 
of  Russian  public  life.  It  cannot  be  said  that  Merezhkovsky 
has  founded  a  school  and  there  are  few  who  accept  his  theories 
in  their  totality.  His  style,  in  spite  of  a  certain  nervous 
vibration  that  pervades  it,  lacks  warmth  and  vividness.  It 
arouses  intellectual  curiosity  rather  than  aesthetic  or  religious 
emotion.  But  Merezhkovsky's  services  in  stimulating  the 
movement  of  ideas  in  contemporary  Russia  are  very  great. 
He  is  a  tireless  disturber  of  intellectual  peace. 

Madame  Merezhkovsky,  who  writes  verse  and  fiction  under 
her  maiden  name,  Zenaida  Hippius,  and  literary  criticism 
under  the  pseudonym  of  Anton  Krainy,  has  been  her  hus- 
band's chief  assistant  in  the  dissemination  of  his  ideas.  She 
has  published  several  volumes  of  short  stories  which  are  well 
written  but  are  devoted  to  the  illustration  of  ideas  rather 
than  to  the  development  of  emotional  images.  Madame 
Hippius'  best  work  is  to  be  found,  however,  in  her  capricious, 
fanciful  verse,  which  hovers  in  dim  backgrounds  of  instinct, 
in  borderlands  of  religious  emotion,  is  blown  hither  and 
thither  by  the  gusts  of  other  people's  opinions,  is  half  sincere 
and  again  in  earnest,  toys  with  evil  and  yields  to  an  impulse 
to  worship,  is  sentimental  and  half-human,  takes  on  a  serious 
pose  and  fades  away  in  mocking,  elfish  laughter.  It  is  the 
abstract,"  once  wrote  Madame  Hippius,  "  that  is  dear  to 


Literature  207 

me,  with  the  abstract  I  build  up  life.  ...  I  love  everything 
solitary  and  unrevealed.  I  am  the  slave  of  my  strange, 
mysterious  words.  And  because  of  the  speech  that  alone  is 
speech  I  do  not  know  the  words  of  this  world."  In 
another  poem,  written  in  1906,  she  speaks  of  swinging  in 
a  net  under  the  branches  "  equally  far  from  heaven  and 
earth."  Both  pleasure  and  pain  are  a  weariness,  earth  gives 
bitterness,  heaven  only  mortifies ;  below  no  one  believes, 
above  no  one  understands,  and  so,  "  I  am  in  the  net,  neither 
here  nor  there.  Live,  O  meh  and  women  !  Play,  O  children  ! 
Swinging,  I  say  '  No  ! '  to  all  that  exists.  Only  one  thing 
I  fear ;  swinging  in  the  net,  how  shall  I  meet  the  warm, 
earthly  dawn  ?  "  Madame  Hippius*  art  is  that  of  a  twilight 
world  between  sense  and  spirit  where  beauty  has  a  spectral 
quality  and  passion  is  an  echo. 

The  modernist  movement  expressed  itself  most  distinctly 
as  a  poetical  revival,  and  the  leaders  in  this  revival  were 

Balmont  and  Briusov,  the  former  half-con- 

A  Poetical      sciously,    the   latter   of   deliberate   purpose. 

K^ta*^  Konstantin  Balmont  is  a  poet  for  the  sheer 
Balmont.  love  of  the  music  of  poetry.  In  an  autobio- 
graphical note  he  writes  that  he  grew  up 
among  trees,  flowers,  and  butterflies,  that  in  his  childhood 
poetry  gave  him  physical  delight,  and  that  he  is  quietly 
convinced  that  no  one  in  Russia  before  him  knew  how  to 
write  melodious  verse.  In  one  of  his  poems  he  boasts  that 
all  the  poets  that  came  before  him  were  but  his  forerunners, 
and  that  he  first  discovered  the  music  of  the  Russian  tongue. 
The  boast  is  one  of  the  buoyant  exaggerations  habitual  to 
Balmont,  but  it  is  certainly  true  that  no  Russian  poet  has  so 
frankly  revelled  as  he  has  in  the  mere  sound  of  Russian 
words,  in  their  lilt,  their  melody,  their  resonance,  their  har- 
monies. He  has  an  extraordinary  gift  of  improvisation,  and 
a  faculty  of  most  musically  expressing  fleeting,  ethereal 
emotions.  Music  and  emotion  blend  in  his  verse  and  wander 
down  aimless  ways    of  delightful   discovery.    There   is   a 


208  Russia  of  the  Russians 

perpetual  boyishness  about  Balmont,  a  cheerful  recklessness,  a 
naivete  that  with  the  years  tends  to  become  a  mannerism. 
There  is  no  profound  philosophy  in  his  poetry.  It  is  the 
everyday  experience  of  a  restless  and  delightfully  irrespon- 
sible egoist  transformed  into  music.  When  Balmont  tries  to 
be  philosophical,  when  he  burdens  his  poetry  with  occult  or 
mythological  subjects  his  music  fails  him.  "  I  came  into 
the  world,"  he  says  of  himself  simply,  "  to  see  the  sun  and 
blue  horizons,  I  came  to  see  the  sun  and  mountain  heights, 
the  sea  and  the  rich  colours  of  the  vale.  I  have  embraced 
the  worlds  in  one  single  glance,  I  am  a  sovereign,  I  have 
conquered  cold  oblivion  in  fashioning  my  dream.  Every 
moment  I  am  full  of  revelation — I  am  ever  singing.  It  was 
suffering  that  called  forth  my  dream,  but  love,  too,  is  mine. 
Who  is  my  fellow  in  power  of  song  ?  Not  one,  not  one.  I 
came  into  this  world  to  see  the  sun,  and  if  daylight  fail  I  will 
sing,  I  will  sing  of  the  sun  in  my  mortal  hour." 

During  the  revolutionary  period  Balmont  wrote  political 
verse.  He  has  consequently  been  compelled  since  1906  to 
live  abroad,  chiefly  in  Paris,  and  exile  has  had  a  paralysing 
effect  upon  a  talent  of  rare  spontaniety.  Balmont  has  trans- 
lated into  Russian  the  works  of  many  foreign  poets,  including 
Calderon  and  Shelley.  He  knows  foreign  languages  well, 
but  he  is  too  subjective  to  be  a  good  translator,  and  his 
version  of  the  English  poet  is  much  more  suggestive  of 
Balmont  than  Shelley.  The  English  poet  whom  Balmont 
most  resembles  in  quality  though  not  in  range  of  talent,  is 
Swinburne. 

Valery  Briusov,  the  most  distinguished  of  living  Russian 
poets,  is  as  self-conscious  and  severe  as  Balmont  is  impetuous 

and  exuberant.      Balmont  made  his  poetical 
Valery  Briusov.  discoveries  by  chance,  as  it  were,  by  virtue 

of  an  extraordinary  inborn  sensitiveness  to 
verbal  music.  Briusov  has  developed  his  poetical  talent  by 
a  course  of  stern  self-discipline.  He  has  chosen  art  as  his 
vocation,  and  devoted  himself  to  it  with  the  singleness  of  aim 


Literature  209 

that  his  Moscow  merchant  ancestors  displayed  in  building  up 
their  business.  His  manner  is  one  of  cold  dignity  and  reserve. 
He  resents  the  frivolous  display  of  emotion,  and  will  not  dis- 
play his  own  until  by  careful  search  and  mature  reflection 
he  has  discovered  for  it  the  absolutely  fitting  form.  To 
questions  of  form  he  devotes  minute  study,  scrupulously 
weighs  words  and  sounds  in  the  balance,  tests  variations  of 
rhythm  and  metre.  Briusov  has  a  passion  for  verse,  not  as 
music  merely,  but  as  poetry  in  the  very  broadest  sense.  He 
is  a  man  of  wide  culture,  and  his  verse  is  now  simply  an 
elegant  accomplishment,  a  neat  and  skilful  way  of  saying 
trifles,  and  now  the  concentrated  expression  of  deep  passion. 
He  is  a  sceptic,  an  enemy  of  facile  enthusiasms  and  vague 
generalisations,  of  religions  that  are  to  be  had  for  the  think- 
ing of  them.  He  is  especially  attracted  by  the  cold,  rhe- 
torical Roman  civilisation  of  the  period  of  decline,  with  its 
distaste  for  the  crude  illusions  of  the  crowd.  His  favourite 
theme  is  passion,  passion  untinged  by  religious  mysticism, 
passion  on  which  satiety  follows,  which  has  in  it  the  bitter 
sweetness  of  death,  and  is  akin  to  all  the  elemental  destruc- 
tive forces  of  the  world.  Briusov  writes  of  Antony  who, 
"  when  Tribunes  fought  for  the  people  and  Emperors  for 
power,  raised  one  altar — the  altar  of  passion,"  and  prays 
that  such  a  lot  may  be  his,  that  he,  too,  may,  in  the  hour  of 
decisive  conflict  when  the  battle  is  not  yet  finished,  forsake 
all  and  follow  the  Egyptian  keel.  In  the  revolutionary  year 
he  welcomes  the  forces  of  destruction  with  all  the  eagerness 
of  the  son  of  an  outworn  and  decadent  culture.  "  Where 
are  ye,  0  ye  coming  Huns,  who  are  hanging  like  a  cloud 
over  the  world.  I  hear  your  leaden  tramp  on  Pamirs  yet 
hidden  from  our  eyes.  Fall  upon  us  from  your  dark  camps, 
a  drunken  horde,  and  quicken  our  decrepit  body  with  a 
wave  of  flaming  blood."  He  bids  them  raze  palaces  and 
thrones,  burn  books  in  bonfires  and  defile  temples.  "  And 
we,  the  wise  men  and  poets,  the  guardians  of  mystery  and 
faith,  shall  bear  away  our  lighted  candles  into  catacombs, 


210  Russia  of  the  Russians 

deserts  and  caves.  ...  It  may  be  that  everything  will  perish 
that  was  known  to  us  alone,  but  you  who  destroy  me  I  meet 
with  a  hymn  of  welcome." 

In  another  poem,  The  Pale  Horse,  Briusov  gives  a  singu- 
larly vivid  picture  of  the  traffic  in  a  city  street,  of  the  sudden 
vision  of  a  rider  on  a  Pale  Horse  looming  up  in  the  sky,  of 
the  horror  of  destruction  that  fell  upon  the  crowd,  and  of  the 
passing  of  the  vision  and  the  renewal  of  the  busy  hum  of  the 
street,  leaving  only  a  prostitute  and  a  madman  vaguely 
stretching  out  their  hands  to  where  the  vision  had  been.  In 
this  poem  Briusov  displays  great  skill  in  the  employment, 
in  a  context  of  high  poetical  tension,  of  such  prosaic  words 
as  "  newsboy,"  and  "  shop-sign,"  and  such  modern  and 
foreign  words  as  "  cab,"  "  omnibus,"  and  "  automobile." 

Briusov  is  a  prose  writer  of  distinction  as  well  as  a  poet. 
His  Republic  of  the  Southern  Cross  is  a  fantastic  romance, 
cold  and  artificial.  The  Fiery  Angel  is  a  romance  dealing 
with  mediaeval  witchcraft,  full  of  curious  occult  learning. 
The  A  liar  of  Victory,  which  appeared  in  the  Russkaia  My  si 
in  1912,  is  a  story  of  that  epoch  in  Roman  history — the 
fourth  century  a.d. — which  chiefly  attracts  the  author's  sym- 
pathy. These  works  are  marked  by  coldness,  a  lack  of 
humour  and  a  defective  sense  of  character,  and  the  literary 
skill  and  learning  displayed  in  them  do  not  avail  to  raise 
them  above  the  level  of  curious  experiments.  As  a  critic 
Briusov  is  sober,  penetrating,  and  exact,  and  his  critical 
essays,  most  of  which  were  published  in  the  review  Viesy 
(Scales),  so  ably  edited  by  him  during  the  years  between 
1903  and  1908,  have  been  of  great  educative  value.  Briusov's 
sympathies  lean  strongly  to  French  literature  and  art,  and 
by  means  of  his  review  he  maintained  a  direct  connection 
between  the  French  and  Russian  literary  circles.  A  com- 
plete edition  of  his  works  in  twenty-five  volumes  is  now  in 
course  of  publication. 

Viacheslav  Ivanov  is  a  poet  who  has  occupied  in  St.  Peters- 
burg a  position  similar,  to  that  occupied  by  Briusov  in  Moscow 


Literature  21 1 

as  leader  of  the  modernist  movement.     His  home  was  for 
several  years  a  centre  of  literary  debate,  the  place  where  the 

younger  poets  assembled  to  read  their  poems, 
Viacheslav      ^Q  ^scuss  literary  and  philosophical  theory, 

V  V'  and  simply  to  breathe  an  atmosphere  charged 
with  new  emotions  and  new  ideas.  Viacheslav  Ivanov  is  a 
classical  scholar,  studied  for  a  time  under  Mommsen,  and 
wrote  a  dissertation  called  De  Societatibus  vectigalium  publi- 
corum  populi  Romani.  Nietzsches'  ideas  influenced  him 
strongly,  and  he  was  attracted  by  the  theories  advanced  by 
Merezhkovsky.  His  earliest  literary  and  philosophical  essays 
and  a  study  called  The  Hellenic  Religion  of  the  Suffering  God 
were  published  in  Merezhkovsky's  review  Novy  Put  (The 
New  Way),  and  to  the  young  poets  who  gathered  around  him 
in  1906  he  declared  that  it  was  his  desire  to  continue  Merezh- 
kovsky's work.  Ivanov's  wide  learning,  his  subtle  mind,  his 
knowledge  of  literary  form,  his  eagerness  to  discover  and 
encourage  talent,  his  curious  power  of  giving  a  semblance  of 
authority  and  finality  to  all  sorts  of  hazy  religious  and  philo- 
sophical ideas  that  were  afloat  in  the  atmosphere  of  the  time 
or  were  constantly  being  evolved  by  his  fertile  brain — all 
these  qualities  combined  with  his  great  literary  talent  speedily 
secured  for  him  the  position  of  a  master.  His  manner  was, 
indeed,  that  of  the  priest  of  a  new  cult.  From  1906  till  1912 
he  was  the  leader  of  a  new  poetical  school.  His  poetry  is 
burdened  with  neologisms  and  learned  allusions,  and  is  full 
of  classical  imagery  and  subtle  parallels  between  Russian 
and  classical  mythology.  The  strength  of  Viacheslav  Ivanov's 
talent  is  shown  in  the  fact  that  it  has  wrought  out  of  this 
complex  and  difficult  material  a  music  that  is  new  in  Russian 
poetry.  The  sources  of  inspiration  are  manifold  and  often 
recondite  and  the  personality  revealed  in  the  poems  is 
extraordinarily  many-sided.  Ivanov's  poetry  will  never  be 
popular,  but  it  is  real  and  profound  poetry,  rich,  tense,  and 
adventurous  in  ideas  and  form.  It  is  like  a  garden  of  tropical 
flowers  transplanted  by  occult  influences  to  Russian  soil  and 


212  Russia  of  the  Russians 

mingling  their  heavy  scent  with  the  winds  that  sigh  endlessly 
over  the  great  plain. 

It  is  too  early  to  discuss  the  character  of  Ivanov's  influence 
on  the  younger  poets.  In  certain  ways  it  can  be  seen  to 
have  been  harmful.  It  encouraged  in  some  a  superficial 
modernism,  coldly  curious  experimenting  with  the  instinctive 
and  the  sub-conscious,  a  pursuit  of  novelty  in  thought  and 
conduct  for  mere  novelty's  sake,  an  irresponsible  toying  with 
religious  emotion.  But  it  is  to  Ivanov's  teaching  and  example 
that  the  younger  St.  Petersburg  poets  owe  a  deepened  con- 
ception of  poetry  as  an  art  demanding  the  concentration  of 
their  finest  energies. 

Of  the  younger  lyric  poets  Alexander  Blok  has  a  greater 
power  of  simple  and  direct  appeal  than  any  Russian  poet 

now  living,  and  this  power  he  exercises  by 
Alexander  Blok.  means  of  a  shy  reticence,  by  means  of  hints 

and  half-tones,  by  suggestive  images  lightly 
drawn,  and  by  music  revealing  such  a  passion  for  remote 
beauty,  such  a  fine  sensitiveness  to  sorrowful  and  exquisite 
meanings  that  it  charms  even  the  dusty  prose  of  streets  and 
restaurants  into  dignity  and  nobility.  Neither  Briusov  nor 
Ivanov  can  touch  the  heart  as  Blok  does.  His  verse  is  often 
obscure.  He  does  not  relate,  he  only  suggests,  the  vibra- 
tions of  his  music  touch  feelings  that  are  beyond  the  reach 
of  words.  He  records  with  intense  sincerity  the  life  of  a 
broken  spirit  that  finds  in  expression  a  momentary  solution 
of  the  problem  of  its  high  sorrow.  It  is  impossible,  and  it 
would  be  useless  if  it  were  possible,  to  describe  the  matter 
of  Blok's  poems — they  are  so  extraordinarily  subjective.  To 
say  that  there  is  a  strongly  mystical  element  in  his  poetry, 
to  say  that  he  writes  of  love  or  nature  or  wine,  that  he  feels 
the  poetry  of  the  town,  that  in  his  later  verse  he  gives  expres- 
sion to  a  deep  and  pure  national  feeling,  and  that  in  all  his 
work  there  is  a  tragical  note,  is  to  say  nothing  about  the  real 
Blok  who  is  to  be  known  only  through  the  music  of  his  own 
verse.     Blok  is  still  in  the  early  thirties.     He  has  published 


ALEXANDER    BLOK 


Literature  213 

several  volumes  of  verse  under  the  titles  of  Poems  on  the 
Fair  Lady,  Unlooked-for  Joy,  The  Snowy  Mask,  The  Earth 
in  Snow,  Songs  of  the  Night,  and  a  volume  of  lyrical  dramas, 
including  Pulcinello,  The  King  in  the  Public  Square,  and  The 
Strange  Woman.  He  produces  constantly,  his  talent  is 
steadily  maturing,  and  the  years  before  him  are  full  of  happy 
promise. 

Poetry  is  being  so  assiduously  cultivated  in  Russia  now  that 
a  whole  galaxy  of  minor  poets  has  arisen,  some  of  whom  have 
broken  away  from  the  authority  of  their  modernist  elders 
and  have  tried  to  form  schools  on  their  own  account,  but 
have  not  yet  succeeded  in  producing  anything  strikingly 
new. 

There  is  one  striking  and  enigmatical  figure  in  contem- 
porary Russian  literature  who  is  equally  distinguished  as  a 

poet  and  as  a  writer  of  prose,  fiction,  and 
Feodor  Sologub.  drama.    Feodor  Sologub  is  the  pseudonym  of 

Feodor  Kuzmich  Teternikov,  formerly  a  pro- 
vincial school-inspector,  and  now  resident  in  St.  Petersburg. 
His  father,  who  was  a  peasant  and  a  shoemaker,  died  in  St. 
Petersburg  when  Sologub  was  a  child.  His  mother  secured 
a  position  as  housekeeper,  and  her  two ^  children,  Feodor  and 
Olga,  played  together  happily  enough  in  the  kitchen.  The 
master  of  the  house  was  a  kindly  man  and  gave  Feodor 
enough  education  to  enable  him  to  become  a  primary  school- 
teacher. For  several  years  Sologub  taught  in  Vychegda,  a 
small  town  in  the  northern  government  of  Vologda,  and  in 
the  course  of  time  became  a  school  inspector.  It  is  one  of 
the  paradoxes  of  modern  Russian  literature  that  a  man  with 
such  limited  opportunities  should  have  become  a  writer  of 
such  force,  originality,  and  polish  as  Sologub  has,  in  his  best 
work,  shown  himself  to  possess.  His  early  work  was  pub- 
lished in  the  'nineties  in  the  review  Sieverny  Viestnik,  but  he 
did  not  become  widely  known  and  recognised  until  after 
1905.  Sologub  is  a  remarkable  stylist,  attaining  without 
apparent  effort  a  flexibility  and  a  verbal  harmony  that  give 


214  Russia  of  the  Russians 

distinction  to  almost  everything  he  writes.  His  lyrics  are 
marked  by  a  pessimism  hardly  relieved  by  a  ray  of  any  hope 
except  the  chilly  hope  of  death.  Sometimes  he  mourns 
plaintively  over  the  darkness  of  the  world  and  the  futility  of 
life.  Sometimes  he  accepts  the  world,  but  it  is  a  world  of 
sin  in  which  he  takes  evil  as  his  guide  and  wanders  at  the 
bidding  of  vice  down  dark  labyrinths.  "  A  sad,  pale  shadow," 
he  writes  in  pensive  lines,  "  a  narrow,  winding  way,  a  dreary 
and  m  gloomy  day — O  heart  forget  about  freedom  !  Thou 
art  pale  and  sad  with  longing,  thy  breast  breathes  wearily, 
dreams  are  shy  and  hardly  come — O  heart  forget  about 
happiness." 

Again  he  cries  contemptuously,  "  We  are  imprisoned  beasts 
and  howl  as  best  we  can.  The  doors  are  tightly  shut  and  we 
dare  not  open  them.  If  our  heart  is  true  to  tradition  we 
bark,  comforting  ourselves  with  our  barking.  That  the  cages 
are  filthy  and  foully  smell  we  have  long  since  forgotten,  if 
ever  we  knew  it.  To  repetition  the  heart  is  accustomed,  we 
howl  drearily  and  monotonously.  Everything  in  the  cages 
is  humdrum  and  ordinary,  and  of  freedom  we  have  long  since 
ceased  to  dream."  Sologub  writes  of  himself :  "  I  am  the 
God  of  a  mysterious  world,  all  the  world  is  in  my  dreams 
alone."  Or  again,  he  tells  of  how  when  he  suffered  ship- 
wreck vhe  called  to  his  "  Father,  the  devil,"  who  saved  him 
in  answer  to  his  cry,  "  Suffer  not  my  maddened  soul  to  perish 
before  the  time,  I  shall  give  up  to  the  power  of  dark  vice  the 
rest  of  my  black  days."  In  other  poems  by  the  magic  of  his 
verse  he  gives  a  strange  fascination  to  death.  And  yet  in 
the  deserts  of  Sologub's  pessimism  one  may  sometimes  meet 
with  blue  flowerlets  of  simple  beauty  watered  by  the  morn- 
ing dew  of  tenderness.  Sologub  is  one  of  the  most  tantalising 
of  poets.  He  eludes  all  categories,  mocks  at  his  own  words, 
peers  ironically  at  the  reader  and  leaves  him  doubting  whether 
the  poet  is  really  at  heart  a  pessimist,  whether  he  really 
delights  in  the  savour  of  sin,  whether  he  believes  in  God  or 
the  Devil,  whether  he  may  not  in  the  long  run  be  simply 


Literature  215 

indifferent  and  the  whole  of  his  writings  merely  elegant 
persiflage. 

But  he  is  not  indifferent.  He  is  suffering  from  some  pro- 
found sickness  of  the  spirit  which  gives  him  no  rest.  And 
to  this  sickness  he  has  given  subtle  expression  in  a  powerful 
novel  called  Mdky  Bits  (The  Imp).  This  novel  describes  a 
high-school  master  in  a  provincial  town,  Peredonov,  a  man 
devoid  of  every  high  and  noble  quality,  without  a  single 
intellectual  interest,  vulgar,  contemptible,  vicious,  stupid, 
and  cowardly.  The  wretched  man  is  gradually  entangled 
in  the  net  of  his  own  errors  and  vices,  and  of  the  pettiness 
and  vulgarity  of  the  people  of  the  town  he  lives  in,  and  he 
perishes  blunderingly,  stupidly,  blindly,  knowing  not  why. 
The  evil  in  the  man  is  symbolised  by  a  shadowy  little  spirit, 
an  imp  called  the  nedotykomka,  the  Impalpable  One,  which 
appears  from  time  to  time  perhaps  as  an  hallucination  of 
Peredonov's,  perhaps  as  a  mere  suggestion,  a  doubt,  a  fear, 
perhaps  as  something  half  real.  "  It  lives  to  terrify  and 
destroy  him.  Magic,  multiform,  it  follows  him,  mocks  him, 
deludes  him — now  rolling  on  the  floor,  now  pretending  to  be 
a  rag,  a  ribbon,  a  twig,  a  flea,  a  cloud,  a  little  dog,  a  pillar 
of  dust  in  the  street,  and  everywhere  creeps  and  runs  after 
Peredonov.  It  has  worn  him  out,  exhausted  him  by  its 
rippling  dance."  But  the  presence  of  this  symbolic  element 
only  serves  to  heighten  the  realistic  vividness  of  the  story. 
The  life  of  a  typical  Russian  town  is  described  with  a  bitter 
minuteness,  with  an  almost  morbid  clarity  of  vision.  The 
life  of  the  wretched  Peredonov  becomes  in  Sologub's  presen- 
tation a  deep  tragedy.  In  none  of  his  works  does  the  author's 
artistic  power  reach  such  a  pitch  of  intensity  as  in  The 
Imp. 

The  Imp  was  Sologub's  second  novel.  His  first,  Evil 
Dreams,  showed  great  mastery  of  style,  and  the  style  was 
brought  to  great  perfection  in  several  volumes  of  short  stories 
published  between  1905  and  1908.  These  stories  deal  to  a 
large  extent  with  the  charm  of  childhood  and  the  fascination 

13— («40o) 


216  Russia  of  the  Russians 

of  death.  Many  of  them  are  very  beautiful,  but  in  nearly 
all  is  felt  that  savour  of  evil  which  is  so  characteristic  of 
Sologub.  During  the  last  few  years  a  rapid  decline,  not  to 
say  a  collapse  of  this  great  talent  has  been  noticeable,  and 
his  later  works  are  full  of  repellent  elements  no  longer  subdued 
by  the  power  of  artistic  impulse. 

Sologub  is  well  beyond  middle  age.    There  is  a  much 
younger  writer  of  prose,  Aleksei  Remizov,  whose  originality 

of  talent,  mastery  of  form,  and  deep  undcr- 
Aleksei  Remizov.  standing  of  the  Russian  popular  mind  give 

him  a  high  place  altogether  apart  from 
other  writers  of  talent.  Remizov  comes  of  a  Moscow  mer- 
chant family,  was  educated  in  Moscow,  has  had  a  hard 
battle  with  life,  lived  in  the  east  and  south  of  Russia,  was 
exiled  to  Vologda  for  some  political  affair  with  which  he  was 
not  directly  concerned,  and  has  since  1905  lived  in  St.  Peters- 
burg, often  on  the  brink  of  extreme  poverty.  With  amazing 
persistence  this  quaint,  retiring,  unworldly  man  has  pursued 
his  literary  way.  His  gift  is  unique,  and  he  refused  to  modify 
its  expression  at  the  bidding  of  any  demand  of  convenience 
or  expediency.  He  met  with  failure  after  failure.  A  few 
discerning  fellow-craftsmen  recognised  his  talent,  but  to  most 
the  work  he  succeeded  in  getting  published  seemed  bizarre 
and  grotesque.  Many  even  of  the  modernists  refused  to 
acknowledge  him.  But  he  steadily  fought  his  way,  wrote  as 
he  felt  compelled  to  write,  in  spite. of  poverty  and  illness, 
and  gradually  won  recognition  by  the  sheer  force  of  his 
talent  and  the  intensity  of  his  purpose.  His  style  is  wholly 
his  own,  slow-moving,  remote  from  the  facile  fluency  of 
journalistic  Russian,  full  of  the  dignity  of  the  popular  speech 
and  of  the  spirit  of  those  curious  byways  of  Russian  life 
where  tradition  still  lives  on  and  where  modern  civilisation 
has  not  done  its  blurring  and  levelling  work.  Remizov  has 
a  sly  humour,  a  taste  for  the  grotesque  and  a  tendency  to 
mystification  that  add  greatly  to  the  charm  of  his  work, 
though   it  was  these  very  qualities   that  a  few  years   ago 


ALEKSEI   REM1Z0V 


Literature  217 

militated  against  his  popularity.  And  then  there  is  compassion 
in  him,  a  sense  of  the  tragic  movement  of  life  and  of  far 
ways  of  tear-stained  deliverance.     No  living  writer  feels  the 
Russian  people  as  he  does,  its  clinging  to  the  earth,  its  gross- 
ness,  its  sensuality,  its  sense  of  sin,  together  with  its  spiritual 
ardour,  its  religious  beliefs,  its  quaint  customs,  its  rich  lan- 
guage, and  its  incessant  trouble  and  yearning  and  high  dream 
of  victory.     It  is  not  an  idealised  people  that  he  sees,  doing 
the  things  that  a  sociological  theory  declares  it  must  be 
doing,  but  a  very  real  people  that  can  be  beast-like  and  yet 
can   see   heavenly   visions.     Remizov   has   published   eight 
volumes  of  prose.     His  novels,   The  Pond  and  The  Clock, 
contain  very  realistic  descriptions  of  the  life  of  the  petty 
tradesman  class.     His  later  tales,  The  Irrepressible  Fellow, 
The  Sisters  of  the  Cross,  and  The  Fifth  Plague,  display  a  strik- 
ing power  of  depicting  the  grotesque,  the  repulsive  and  the 
merely  commonplace  features  of  life  in  the  provincial  towns 
and  in  the  capitals  as  elements  in  a  purifying  tragedy  the 
significance  of  which  the  Russian  people  instinctively  under- 
stands.   The  tales  are  not  merely  narratives.    They  have 
the  concentrated  art  of  poems  in  prose.     Remizov  has  written 
a  number  of  prose-poems  of  another  character — adaptations 
of  old-Russian  apocryphal  tales,  the  fantastically  beautiful 
variations  on  Biblical  themes  with  which  Byzantines,  Greeks, 
Southern  Slavs,  and  the  Russians  of  the  Kiev  and  Moscow 
periods  satisfied  their  literary  needs.    His  dramas,  The  Play 
of  the  Devils,  and  Judas,  Prince  of  Iscariot,  are  also  based  on 
these  legends.    Besides  a  number  of  short  stories  on  con- 
temporary themes  into  which  the  element  of  the  grotesque 
largely  enters  Remizov  has  written  charming  fairy  tales. 
His  work  shows  traces  of  the  influence  of  Dostoievsky  and 
Gogol,  and  certain  features  are  reminiscent  of  Leskov.    But 
these  are   the   influences   of   kindred    spirits   and    do    not 
detract  from  the  striking  originality  which  makes  Remizov 
the   most  interesting  of  contemporary  Russian  writers   of 
fiction. 


218  Russia  of  the  Russians 

Literary  criticism  is  in  a  transition  stage  in  Russia  at  the 
present  moment,  and  there  are  no  critics  who  are  recognised 

by  all  the  schools.   Reviews  are  nearly  always 
CL,1?r,am        signed;  even  in  the  daily  papers,  which  devote 

a  considerable  amount  of  space  to  what  is 
called  "  bibliography,"  the  names  of  critics  are  generally 
known,  and  the  opinions  of  prominent  critics  carry  great  weight. 
Professor  Ovsianniko-Kulikovsky,  formerly  professor  in 
Kharkov,  now  editor  of  the  literary  section  of  the  Viestnik 
Yevropy,  may  be  mentioned  as  a  typical  representative  of 
the  old  school  of  criticism,  and  Briusov,  Ivanov,  and  Andrei 
Biely  of  the  new.  Andrei  Biely,  a  versatile  young  writer, 
author  of  two  volumes  of  poems  and  a  novel  called  The  Silver 
Dove,  describing  the  experiences  of  an  "intelligent"  amongst 
members  of  a  fanatical  sect,  has  devoted  a  great  deal  of  atten- 
tion to  metrical  analysis,  and  by  reducing  to  mathematical 
formulae  the  metrical  systems  of  Pushkin  and  other  great 
Russian  poets,  has  obtained  curious  and  interesting  results. 
During  the  last  few  years  the  number  of  readers  has  greatly 
increased  in  Russia.    The  relaxation  of  the  stringency  of  the 

censorship  in  1905  led  to  an  increased  literary 

Increased       output,  and  the  political  excitement  of  the 

5^3  0T      period   greatly   stimulated   the   demand   for 

printed  matter.  At  first  it  was  newspapers 
and  endless  pamphlets  on  political  and  social  questions  that 
were  most  eagerly  read  and  widely  circulated,  but  after  the 
first  keen  interest  in  politics  had  died  down  in  the  disappoint- 
ment of  the  period  following  on  the  dissolution  of  the  First 
Duma  a  demand  arose  amongst  all  those  thousands  who  had 
suddenly  formed  a  habit  of  reading  for  literature  of  another 
kind.  And  the  production  of  literature  that  is  not  literature, 
but  simply  reading  matter,  entertaining  or  lightly  instructive, 
as  the  case  may  be,  received  a  powerful  impetus.  There  was 
a  rage  for  cheap  detective  stories,  adaptations  of  Sherlock 
Holmes  and  of  his  American  imitators.  The  rage  passed, 
but  the  habit  of  reading  remained  among  a  host  of  people 


Literature  219 

who  up  to  that  time  had  been  indifferent  to  the  printed  page, 
amongst  shop-assistants  and  sempstresses,  and  all  sorts  of 
minor  Government  employees,  and  amongst  tradesmen's 
families  in  provincial  towns.  Sometimes  the  new  recruits 
to  the  army  of  readers  were  well  guided  and  acquired  a  taste 
for  books  that  led  out  into  a  wider  world  of  thought  and 
interest.  Many  of  the  working  men,  for  instance,  who  had 
often  borne  the  brunt  of  the  bitter  experiences  of  the  time 
of  stress,  were  keen  in  their  search  for  knowledge,  found 
their  way  to  the  best  in  Russian  literature,  and  demanded 
of  their  teachers  in  the  workmen's  clubs  instruction  in 
science :  at  one  time  the  workmen  in  St.  Petersburg  took 
an  extraordinary  interest  in  astronomy. 

But  for  the  most  part  the  taste  of  the  new  readers  is  very 
indefinite,  and  indeed  there  has  been  of  late  such  a  conflict 
and  confusion  of  literary  standards  that  the  average  reader 
prefers  to  turn  aside  from  the  masters  and  rely  simply  on  his 
own  instincts  and  preferences.  This  leads  to  a  general  lower- 
ing of  standards  and  to  the  spread  of  a  literature  of  a  very 
meretricious  quality.  That  is  to  say,  between  educated 
readers  of  taste  and  the  masses  of  the  people  who  read  cheap 
books  there  is  now  growing  up  an  average  class  of  readers 
like  that  broad  class  in  Western  countries  which  is  unexact- 
ing  in  matters  of  art,  objects  to  mental  strain  in  reading 
and  merely  wishes  to  be  amused.  This  is  one  of  the  symp- 
toms of  the  spread  of  European  influences.  But  at  the  same 
time  this  broader  public  provides  a  promising  field  for  ex- 
periments in  popularisation,  and  such  experiments  of  the  kind 
as  have  been  made  have  proved  remarkably  successful.  There 
is  a  restlessness  in  the  Russian  mind  that  will  not  suffer 
soporifics  for  long  and  easily  wearies  of  glittering  imitations. 
Popular  historical  works — for  instance,  the  volumes  of  well 
illustrated,  popular  essays  by  distinguished  professors  on 
the  Emancipation  of  the  Peasantry  and  on  the  Napoleonic 
invasion  published  by  the  Moscow  house  of  Sytin — have  a 
very  wide  circulation.    The  influence  of  a  growing  aesthetic 


220  Russia  of  the  Russians 

demand  is  seen  in  the  great  improvement  in  the  get-up  of 
the  books  now  published.  A  few  years  ago  nearly  all  books, 
poetry  and  fiction,  as  well  as  science,  made  their  appearance 
before  the  world  in  monotonously  grey  or  greenish  covers  on 
which  the  title  was  printed  in  the  plainest  lettering.  Koro- 
lenko's,  Gorky's,  and  Andreiev's  early  volumes  all  came  out 
in  this  sober  style.  Paper  covers  are  still  the  rule — only 
dictionaries  and  encyclopaedias  come  on  to  the  market  bound 
in  leather  or  cloth — but  there  is  a  great  variety  in  the  letter- 
ing, the  colouring,  and  the  adornment  of  the  exterior.  There 
are  inevitable  failures  of  taste,  and  the  increasing  numbers 
of  translations  of  French  novels  with  pictures  on  the  covers 
in  glaring  red,  green,  or  yellow,  do  not  add  to  the  beauty  of 
the  booksellers'  windows. 

The  number  of  translated  books  on  the  market  is  probably 
greater  in  Russia  than  in  any  large  European  country.  The 
reason  lies  not  only  in  the  eager  curiosity  of  Russians  in  re- 
gard to  Western  Europe  which  expresses  itself  in  the  annual 
summer  migration  to  Switzerland,  France,  and  Italy.  Trans- 
lation was  until  recently  the  easiest  and  simplest  form  of 
book-production  because  the  Government  had  not  signed 
the  Berne  Convention  and  the  copyright  of  foreign  authors 
did  not  extend  to  Russia.  The  knowledge  of  foreign  lan- 
guages is  widespread,  an  army  of  translators  was  available, 
and  all  the  novelties  of  the  European  book-market  were 
hastily  turned  into  Russian.  It  is  not  surprising  that,  given 
a  multitude  of  ignorant  or  unscrupulous  translators  and  hack 
publishers  the  results  were  often  melancholy.  A  Moscow 
firm  kept  a  large  staff  of  translators — mostly  women — at 
almost  a  sweating  wage,  whose  duty  it  was  to  supply  monthly 
eighty  printed  pages  of  translated  matter.  A  Russian  stu- 
dent in  Berlin  who  provided  his  publisher  in  St.  Petersburg 
with  translations  of  Gerhard  Hauptmann's  plays  used  to 
farm  out  the  work.  When  a  new  play  of  Hauptmann's 
appeared  he  tore  the  book  into  sections  and  distributed  the 
pages  among  indigent  students  who  translated  for  a  song. 


Literature  221 

The  collective  result  was  sent  to  St.  Petersburg  by  the  entre- 
preneur, who  actually  found  the  business  profitable.  But 
the  standard  of  translation  is  steadily  rising,  and  now  that 
an  Authors'  Copyright  Bill  has  been  passed  by  Parliament 
and  the  Russian  Government  is  signing  Literary  Conventions 
with  the  chief  European  countries  abuses  should  be  far  less 
frequent  than  they  have  been  in  the  past.  One  result  of 
the  abundance  of  translations  is  that  the  average  educated 
Russian  has  a  much  wider  acquaintance  with  modern  Euro- 
pean literature  in  general  than  the  average  Frenchman  or 
Englishman.  It  says  much  for  the  good  taste  of  the  Russian 
reading  public  that  a  cheap  "  Universal  Library,"  started  a 
few  years  ago  on  the  model  of  such  enterprises  as  Reclaim's 
Universal-bibliotek  in  Germany,  and  consisting  almost  en- 
tirely of  translations  of  the  best  current  European  fiction 
has  been  strikingly  successful.  Its  little  yellow  paper-covered 
twopenny  or  threepenny  volumes  are  to  be  seen  in  every 
railway  train. 

That  Russia  under  moderately  favourable  conditions  cannot 
fail  to  present  a  very  extensive  book-market  a  glance  at  the 
map  will  show.  Between  St.  Petersburg  and  Moscow,  and 
Tiflis  and  Vladivostock  are  hundreds  of  thousands  of  insati- 
able readers,  and  with  the  gradual  spread  of  education  the 
number  is  steadily  growing.  In  almost  every  town,  even  the 
smallest,  there  is  a  bookshop  of  some  kind,  and  books  sell. 
There  are  nations  that  buy  books  and  there  are  nations  whose 
citizens  borrow,  either  from  public  libraries  of  from  those 
few  neighbours  who  do  buy.  The  Russians  buy  and  borrow 
too.  Books  are  cheap.  The  average  novel  or  volume  of 
travel  or  history  costs  half-a-crown  or  less.  Translations  of 
costly  foreign  works  frequently  sell  in  Russia  for  half  the 
price  of  the  original.  Naturally  this  cheapness  of  price  is 
largely  accounted  for  by  the  cheapness  of  the  get-up  of  books, 
and,  with  an  improvement  in  their  outward  appearance  it 
may  be  expected  that  their  price  will  rise.  In  fact  it  is 
already  rising,  and  books  at  two  and  three  roubles  (four  and 


222  Russia  of  the  Russians 

six  shillings)  are  now  very  much  more  common  than  they 
used  to  be. 

Russian  children  begin  to  read  early  and  read  a  great  deal, 
but  it  is  remarkable  that  comparatively  little  original  litera- 
ture for  children  is  produced.  Children's  books  are  well 
printed  and  well  illustrated,  but  most  of  them  are  translations 
from  foreign,  chiefly  English  authors.  Fenimore  Cooper, 
Mayne  Reid,  and  Seton  Thompson  are  as  popular  among 
Russian  boys  and  girls  as  they  are  in  England  and  America. 
Many  Russian  children  early  become  acquainted  with  the 
masterpieces  of  their  own  literature,  with  the  poems  of  Push- 
kin, Lermontov  and  Nekrasov,  with  Turgeniev's  novels  and 
with  the  earlier  tales  of  Tolstoy.  On  such  works  as  these 
they  develop  a  literary  taste  which  is  too  often  blurted  by 
the  dull,  mechanical  method  of  teaching  literature  in  the 
secondary  schools. 

It  is  frequently  complained  that  Russian  literature  is  de- 
clining, that  the  national  gift  which,  as  manifested  in  the  works 
of  Tolstoy,  Turgeniev,  and  Dostoievsky,  aroused  the  wonder 
of  Europe,  has  been  lost  amid  the  turmoil  of  recent  years. 
A  golden  age  is  past,  it  is  said.  Twilight  has  fallen.  The 
giants  have  gone  to  their  rest,  taking  the  secret  of  their  power 
with  them.  And  the  present  generation,  burdened  with  a 
sense  of  its  own  weakness,  is  unable  to  lift  its  hands  to  create 
boldly  and  greatly.  Russian  literature,  it  is  urged,  has  aban- 
doned the  pursuit  of  truth  for  the  pursuit  of  recondite  sen- 
sation and  form.  But  this  is  not  a  fair  presentment  of  the 
case.  It  is  true  that  there  are  no  giants  now.  But  the 
general  level  of  literature  is  much  higher  than  it  was.  The 
care  for  form  does  not  constitute  a  breach  with  the  best 
traditions  of  Russian  letters.  It  was  in  the  poetry  of  Pushkin 
and  Lermontov  that  modern  Russian  literature  came  to  its 
full  strength  at  the  beginning  of  the  last  century,  and  it  was 
the  mastery  of  form  gained  in  poetic  creation  that  made 
possible  the  succeeding  remarkable  development  of  prose 
fiction.     The  recent  poetical   revival   is  again   in    its    turn 


Literature  223 

leading  to  new  developments  in  prose.  The  resources  of  the 
language  are  being  explored  with  new  zest,  and  with  happy 
results.  New  words  and  new  combinations  of  words  are 
being  discovered,  new  harmonies  and  a  new  power  of 
suggestion. 

But  the  question  of  form  has  wider  implications.  Tolstoy 
once  said  to  me  at  the  beginning  of  1905  : — 

"  The  writers  of  the  present  day  write  well.  Every  young 
lady  knows  how  to  write  better  than  Turgeniev  or  I.  But 
the  trouble  is  that  they  have  nothing  to  say." 

Tolstoy  did  not  favour  the  modern  school.  Of  the  younger 
writers  Kuprin  was  the  only  one  whom  he  praised  unreservedly. 
He  disliked  everything  that  was  suggestive  of  artificiality  in 
style,  everything  that  made  an  author  unintelligible  to  the 
masses  of  the  people.  With  his  view  that  art  was  a  means 
of  deepening  fellowship  among  men  by  means  of  an  infectious 
quality  in  style  he  could  not  approve  of  those  forms  of  art 
that  failed  to  make  a  direct  and  simple  appeal  to  the  average 
man.  He  was  a  passionate  lover  of  music,  but  he  found 
Wagner  ridiculous.  The  whole  modernist  movement  seemed 
to  him  symptomatic  of  perverted  taste.  His  long  wrestling 
with  purely  ethical  questions,  his  proud  rejection  of  his  own 
art,  his  yearning  for  simplicity  as  for  a  cooling,  healing 
draught,  all  militated  against  his  appreciation  of  modern 
Russian  art  with  its  impatience  of  the  unadorned. 

But  the  Russian  writers  of  to-day  are  not  so  remote  from 
Tolstoy  as  they  seem.  They  share  his  restlessness,  they, 
too,  are  engaged  in  that  great  spiritual  adventure  on  which 
he  and  Dostoievsky  set  out.  They  are  more  closely  akin  to 
Dostoievsky  it  is  true  than  to  Tolstoy.  They  are  broadening 
out  the  tracks  that  Dostoievsky  blazed,  they  are  developing 
his  hints  and  suggestions ;  they  have  learned  from  him  to 
press  on  into  the  dark  recesses  of  the  human  soul,  with  a 
heavy  heart,  but  with  a  constant  energy  of  discovery,  drawn 
on  by  a  tantalising  presentiment  of  light  within  the  darkness. 
In  their  journey  of  psychological  discovery  they  have  in  new 


224  Russia  of  the  Russians 

forms,  in  a  developed  style,  an  indispensable  instrument. 
New  rhythms  and  harmonies  awaken  hitherto  unsuspected 
vibrations,  refine  perception,  and  awaken  a  more  complex 
sensation  of  reality.  The  modernists  have  that  delight  in 
fofm  for  its  own  sake,  without  which  art  is  not  art.  With 
some  this  assumes  a  voluptuous  quality  which  is  heightened 
by  the  sensation  that  they  are  holding  an  aesthetic  banquet 
in  time  of  plague,  that  they  are  quaffing  from  death's  heads 
the  wine  of  their  exaltation.  The  very  sadness,  the  intense 
morbid  depression  that  pervades  modern  Russian  literature 
are  strangely  attuned  to  an  invincible  sense  of  beauty.  All 
the  effort  of  the  moderns  is  simply  part  of  that  unresting 
roaming  of  the  Russian  over  the  wide  expanses  of  the  soul, 
from  hot  sunlit  plains  and  valleys  by  a  Southern  Sea  to 
misty  tundras  on  the  confines  of  the  night.  There  are  ele- 
ments of  falsity  in  the  literary  work  of  the  last  few  years. 
There  is  frequently  an  aping  of  foreign  models,  an  eager 
desire  to  be  up  to  date,  to  say  in  Russian  the  very  last  word 
that  has  been  said  in  French,  a  readiness  to  be  deluded  by 
mere  phrases,  a  frequent  lack  of  taste  in  the  handling  of  deli- 
cate subjects.  But  in  its  main  tendency  this  work  is  wholly 
Russian.  And  to  Tolstoy  it  is  akin  in  one  fundamental 
quality,  in  a  certain,  almost  childlike  regardlessness  of  con- 
sequences. Tolstoy  in  his  passion  for  morality  denied  and 
despised  his  own  splendid  achievements  in  art.  "  Let  art 
and  the  whole  tremendous  fabric  of  modern  civilisation 
perish,"  he  seemed  to  be  crying,  "  only  let  the  soul  of  man 
find  salvation  and  peace."  The  writers  of  recent  years  have 
done  almost  the  reverse.  It  is  not  that  in  the  pursuit  of 
aesthetics  they  have  trampled  on  ethics.  They  are  often 
enough  impelled  by  ethical  and  religious  unrest.  But  in 
their  impetuous  search  they  broke  down  ethical  barriers, 
wandered  in  forbidden  fields,  ignored  all  standards  without 
regard  for  possible  social  consequences.  That  the  effect  of 
much  of  recent  literature  on  many  weaker  natures  has  been 
disastrous,  that  characters  have  been  broken,  lives  ruined, 


Literature  225 

that  the  wandering  of  literature  in  a  country  without  bounds 
has  oppressed  many  with  a  sense  of  the  endless  nothingness 
of  life,  that  too  great  a  knowledge  of  evil  may  kill  the  desire 
to  live — such  considerations  as  these  do  not  deter  Russian 
writers  in  their  pursuit.  The  tremendous  human  waste  to 
which  their  work  may  probably  lead  does  not  stay  their 
hand.  "  What  of  the  waste  and  ruin,"  they  would  probably 
say,  "  if  by  collective  strain  and  effort,  if  by  the  suffering  of 
all,  the  end  at  last  be  reached  ?  "  There  is  something  fateful 
in  this  indifference  to  immediate  consequences.  The  Russian 
conquest  of  the  great  plain  involved  through  the  centuries 
a  terrible  sacrifice  of  human  life,  was  effected  at  the  cost  of  a 
brutal  disregard  of  the  fate  of  millions.  Russian  literature 
in  its  great  effort  to  conquer  a  boundless  spiritual  plain  is 
again  and  again  impelled  by  the  same  reckless  impulse.  It 
sacrifices  vital  instincts  and  goodness  itself  for  the  sake  of 
some  remote  glimmering  of  the  best  of  all,  a  hint  of  which 
may  sometimes  be  caught  in  the  wailing  of  "  Lord  have 
mercy  upon  us,"  in  some  village  church.  For  Russia  is  most 
terribly  Christian  in  a  sense  of  which  perhaps  only  the  East 
has  the  secret.  Such  a  sense  of  sin,  such  a  sense  of  the  power 
of  evil  as  the  Russians  have  is  possessed  by  no  other  people 
in  the  modern  world.  "  We  writers  and  readers  have  one 
thing  in  common,"  declares  Andrei  Biely;  "  we  are  all  in 
the  hungry,  barren  Russian  plains  where  the  evil  one  has  been 
leading  us  from  of  old."  While  others  say  that  from  Russia 
shall  come  the  final  word  of  deliverance. 

Over  the  later  years  of  Russian  literature,  over  nearly  all 
the  period  of  development  here  described,  Tolstoy  stood  guard 
in  his  home  in  Yasnaya  Polyana.  Throughout  the  'eighties, 
the  period  of  paralysing  reaction,  his  doctrine  of  non-resis- 
tance to  evil  permeated  Russian  society  and  attracted  many 
sympathisers.  Tolstoy  preached,  expounded  his  religious 
teachings  in  writings  that  parsed  in  manuscript  from  hand  to 
hand,  and  led  a  simple  life.  Towards  the  end  of  the  'eighties 
a  fresh  spirit  of  resistance  arose  and  Tolstoy's  direct  influence 


226  Russia  of  the  Russians 

diminished.  He  wrote  his  charming  popular  tales,  felt  again 
and  again  the  artistic  impulse,  but  checked  it  sternly  or  else 
yielded  to  it  with  a  bad  conscience.  It  is,  perhaps,  not  alto- 
gether fanciful  to  see  a  connection  between  the  rising  energy, 
the  new  social  movement  of  the  'nineties  and  the  return  of 
Tolstoy's  artistic  power  which  was  manifested  in  the  publi- 
cation of  his  novel  Resurrection  in  1899.  Tolstoy  was  very 
sensitive  to  the  spirit  of  the  times.  But  he  stood  apart  from 
the  popular  movement,  and  although  younger  literary  men 
frequently  came  to  him  to  express  their  veneration  or  to  ask 
his  advice  he  held  aloof  from  literary  circles,  and  literary 
disputes.  For  a  time  he  looked  with  interest  and  favour  on 
the  Sieverny  Viestnik,  the  first  organ  of  the  modernists,  and 
printed  in  it  his  Master  and  Man.  But  his  eyes  were  con- 
stantly set  on  things  with  which  the  literature  of  the  day 
had  little  concern.  And  the  writers  in  the  capital  in  their 
turn  ceased  to  pay  attention  to  Tolstoy.  His  works  were 
widely  read,  the  country  was  proud  of  him,  especially  proud 
of  the  interest  his  personality  aroused  abroad.  But  he  was 
a  great  figure  in  the  background,  exerting  a  subtle  moral 
influence  the  character  and  extent  of  which  it  was  very 
difficult  to  gauge  during  the  years  of  turmoil.  He  did  not 
sympathise  with  the  Constitutional  movement  which  seemed 
to  him,  with  his  Christian  anarchist  attitude,  to  be  merely 
an  attempt  to  expel  evil  by  means  of  evil.  Still  less  did  he 
sympathise  with  the  reaction. 

Tolstoy's  eightieth  birthday  on  August  28  (O.S.),  1908, 
was  the  signal  for  an  outburst  of  popular  enthusiasm  which 
the  measures  taken  by  the  Government  to  repress  its  mani- 
festation only  served  to  deepen.  During  the  later  years  the 
spiritual  struggle  that  all  his  life  long  had  given  Tolstoy  no 
rest  deepened  in  intensity,  and  in  November,  1910,  all  Russia 
and  all  the  world  were  startled  by  the  news  that  the  old  man 
had  made  the  final  renunciation,  that  he  had  gone  out  from 
his  home  into  the  night,  accompanied  by  his  daughter  and 
his  secretary  to  live  the  remnant  of  his   days  wholly  and 


Literature  227 

unreservedly  in  accordance  with  the  truth  as  he  perceived  it. 
There  was  the  journey  to  a  monastery,  the  attempt  to  travel 
southwards  to  the  Black  Sea  coast,  the  illness,  the  last  days 
on  the  wayside  station  of  Astapovo,  the  quiet  passing,  and 
then  the  impressive  laying  to  rest  in  the  presence  of  a  great 
throng,  without  incense  or  priestly  prayer,  in  the  garden  of 
Yasnaya  Polyana. 

The  days  when  Tolstoy  lay  dying  were  days  of  national 
exaltation  such  as  only  those  who  lived  in  the  midst  of  it 
can  realise.  It  was  as  though  a  wave  of  purifying  and  up- 
lifting emotion  had  swept  across  the  country  revealing  the 
best  that  was  in  every  man.  And  this  high  and  solemn 
emotion  lingered  on  for  many  weeks  after  Tolstoy  was  at 
rest. 

During  the  following  years  Tolstoy's  manuscripts  were 
sifted  by  his  daughter,  and  there  was  given  to  the  world  a 
posthumous  series  of  novels  and  tales  that  seemed  like  a  pro- 
jection of  the  best  traditions  of  the  older  literature  into  a 
new  and  swiftly  changing  world,  a  sober  reminder  that 
Russian  literature  if  it  be  many-sided  is  still  one,  and 
that  its  great  sacrifice  is  not  sheer  folly,  but  a  foretaste  of 
overcoming. 

On  Dostoievsky's  grave  in  the  Alexander  Nevsky  Lavra, 
just  outside  the  busiest  quarter  of  St.  Petersburg,  are  inscribed 
the  words  that  he  used  as  the  motto  of  his  Brothers  Karamazov : 
"  Except  a  corn  of  wheat  fall  into  the  ground  and  die  it 
abideth  alone :  but  if  it  die  it  bringeth  forth  much  fruit." 
There  are  no  words  that  more  truly  express  the  spirit  and 
meaning  of  Russian  literature. 


CHAPTER   VII 

MUSIC 

No  people  in  the  world  is  altogether  unmusical,  but  there 
are  some  peoples  for  whom  music  is  an  exception,  an  occa- 
sional yielding  to  innate  human  impulse,  and 
Music.  there  are  others  for  whom  it  is  a  rule  and  a 
delight.  When  Professor  Oldenburg,  the 
secretary  of  the  Russian  Academy  of  Sciences,  visited  Chinese 
Turkestan  a  few  years  ago  he  was  struck  by  the  fact  that  the 
people,  in  spite  of  dire  poverty,  in  spite  of  the  oppression  of 
Chinese  officials,  were  irrepressibly  musical,  that  they  were 
constantly  breaking  into  song.  It  seemed  to  Professor  Olden- 
burg that  such  an  invincibly  light-hearted  people  must  be 
of  Aryan  race  even  though  it  spoke  Turkish.  But  a  neigh- 
bouring Turkish  nomad  people,  the  Kirghizes,  are  gifted  both 
poetically  and  musically.  The  Volga  Tartars,  again,  another 
people  of  Turkish  tongue,  though  they  have  songs  of  their 
own,  sometimes  very  touching  and  melodious,  cannot  be 
described  as  musical. 

The  Russians  are  a  people  for  whom  music  is  a  delight. 
The  air  is  full  of  music  and  the  people  are  always  humming 
a  song  or  thrumming  an  instrument.  Of  all  the  books  in  the 
book-hawker's  bag  none  have  a  better  sale  than  the  song- 
books.  During  haymaking  songs  come  floating  across  the 
fields,  and  the  peasant  women  sing  when  they  are  picking 
fruit  or  gathering  peas  and  beans  or  digging  potatoes.  On 
Sundays  and  holidays  the  girls  of  the  village  walk  to  and 
fro  in  pairs  singing  endlessly.  The  youths  follow,  one  of 
them  playing  an  accordion.  The  balalaika,  a  sort  of  tri- 
angular guitar,  was  formerly  the  favourite  instrument  of  the 
peasants,  but  the  accordion  is  fast  superseding  it,  and  is  used 
to  accompany  the  older  Russian  dances  which  are  still  popular 
in  many  villages,  as  well  as  the  new-fangled  Western  dances, 
the  pas  d'Espagne  and  so  forth,  which  are  rapidly  spreading 

228 


1 


I 

I 

t 

/ 


Music  229 

over  the  country  together  with  town  finery.  In  the  first, 
more  good-humoured  stage  of  drunkenness  a  Russian  work-  j 
man,  cabman,  or  peasant  almost  invariably  sings  hoarsely  / 
and  discordantly  some  wildly  sentimental  song,  although 
an  interruption  of  the  song  may  very  easily  lead  to  a  torrent 
of  violent  oaths  and  the  breaking  of  limbs.  But  it  is  curious 
how  persistently  a  drunken  peasant  will  resume  his  trolling 
even  after  frequent  interruption  ;  there  could  hardly  be  a 
clearer  indication  of  the  inevitableness  of  song  for  the  Russian 
peasant  as  a  means  of  expressing  emotion. 

From  the  very  dawn  of  their  history  the  Russians  have 
been  a  singing  people.    They  worked,  they  danced,   they 

revelled    to    the    accompaniment    of   music. 

APw^feing      The  "  bavan  "  or  bard'  the  sinSer  of  heroic 
songs,  was  a  prominent  figure  at  the  courts  of 

the  early  Russian  princes,  and  the  "  guslar  "  or  player  on 
the  "  gusli  "  or  lyre  was  always  present  at  the  feasts  of 
warriors  or  merchants.  The  "  skomorokhy  "  or  jesters  jested 
in  song,  and  in  spite  of  perpetual  ecclesiastical  prohibitions 
of  the  secular  songs  or  "  devil's  music  "  that  celebrated  pagan 
deities  or  expressed  a  sheer  reckless  delight  in  living,  the 
people  clung  to  these  songs  and  handed  them  down  from 
generation  to  generation,  words  and  melody  closely  linked 
in  characteristic  unity.  The  Russians,  including  the  Great 
Russians  of  the  North,  the  White  Russians  of  the  West,  and 
the  Little  Russians  of  the  South,  have  preserved  an  extra- 
ordinary wealth  of  folk-song,  which  was  diligently  recorded 
during  the  first  half  of  the  nineteenth  century  by  a  number 
of  collectors,  while  even  now  careful  gleaners  in  remote 
country  districts  may  still  gather  fresh  songs  to  add  to  the 
rich  harvest.  There  are  songs  of  the  seasons,  ritual  songs 
reminiscent  of  the  days  of  nature-worship  and  celebrating 
the  return  of  the  sun  after  the  shortest  day,  the  coming  of 
spring  and  the  summer  equinox,  all  dates  of  primary  impor- 
tance in  the  husbandman's  calendar.  These  songs  were  later 
adapted  to  the  Christian  festivals  of  Christmas.  Whitsuntide, 


i 

I  ! 


i 


1 

\ 

\ 


\ 

\ 


230  Russia  of  the  Russians 

and  St.  John's  Eve,  but  they  retain,  hardly  disguised,  the 
^traces  of  their  heathen  origijj^  The  complex  ceremony  of 
peasant  weddingswas,"  and  in  many  places  still  is,  accompanied 
with  endless  singing.  There  are  splendid  epic  songs,  the  so- 
called  byliny  relating  the  exploits  of  semi-historical,  semi- 
mythical  personages  in  the  regions  of  Kiev,  Novgorod,  and 
Moscow.  And  lyrics  of  love,  warfare,  and  death,  unconnected 
with  seasons,  ritual  observances  or  historical  events,  are  to 
be  heard  in  every  corner  of  Russia  on  any  day  of  the  year. 
A  number  of  the  songs  sung  by  Russian  workmen  during 
their  work  have  been  used  by  the  German  Professor  Bucher 
in  support  of  his  theory  that  the  rhythm  of  poetry  and  song 
had  its  origin  in  the  rhythm  of  the  physical  effort  of  lifting 
heavy  weights,  or  hauling,  dragging,  sawing,  or  rowing. 

Nearly  all  these  songs  are  traditional,  and  though  certain 
districts  have  lyrics  of  their  own,  not  a  few  of  the  songs  are 
spread  over  wide  areas,  which  is  not  surprising  considering 
the  wandering  habits  of  the  people  and  the  lack  of  natural 
barriers.  But  there  are  frequent  variations,  both  in  words 
and  melody,  and  these  variations  are  by  no  means  always 
due  to  errors  of  transmission.  They  are  often  simply  the 
result  of  the  play  of  the  artistic  instinct.  This  is  particularly 
true  of  variations  in  melody.  When  peasants  sing  there  is 
often  a  combination  of  solo  and  chorus,  and  in  the  chorus 
there  is. a  kind  of  part  singing  which  as  often  as  not  seems  to 
be  based  on  free  improvisation,  with  rollicking  twists  and 
twirls  and  a  racing  above  and  below  the  melody.  The  soloist, 
too,  often  makes  variations  on  the  melody  while  retaining 
the  fundamental  pattern  with  sufficient  exactness  to  make 
it  clearly  recognisable. 

In  Russian  folk-songs  words  and  music  are  hardly  separ- 
able, while  often  both  are  so  intimately  connected  with  dancing 
that  the  sound  of  them  sets  a  peasant's  feet  involuntarily 
tripping  or  his  hands  clapping.  The  words  alone  fail  to  give 
the  full  effect  of  the  song,  though  with  their  rhythm,  their 
reiteration,  their  assonance  and  their  striking  imagery  the 


Music  231 

songs  as  pure  lyrics  make  a  strong  appeal  to  the  imagination, 
and  through  Pushkin  and  other  poets  influenced  the  develop- 
ment of  Russian  literature  in  the  last  century.  But  it  is 
the  strange,  quaint  melody  of  the  songs  that  lifts  the  words 
out  of  that  region  of  folk-rhetoric  in  which  they  frequently 
seem  to  linger,  and  carry  them  home.  These  melodies  are 
as  truly  expressive  of  the  national  spirit  as  the  language 
itself,  are  indeed  in  some  way  linked  with  the  language  and 
present  more  definitely,  with  greater  liberty  from  the  necessi- 
ties of  concrete  description,  the  music  that  is  implicit  in  the 
language.  There  are  resemblances  between  Russian  melodies 
and  those  of  other  Slav  peoples  like  the  Poles  and  the  Czechs, 
and  to  a  slighter  extent,  those  of  the  Baltic  peoples,  the 
Lithuanians  and  the  Letts.  A  few  resemblances  have  been 
noted,  too,  between  Russian  and  Finnish  melodies,  but  these 
latter  are  probably  the  result  of  borrowing,  and  the  marvel 
is,  considering  the  infectious  character  of  the  popular  airs, 
that  so  few  parallels  to  Russian  folk-music  have  been  found 
among  the  neighbouring  peoples.  The  folk-song  is  most 
characteristically  Russian,  and  while  in  Little  Russian  melo- 
dies there  are  occasionally  approximations  to  West  European 
melodic  structure,  the  Great  Russian  folk-song  seems  to  have 
a  style  absolutely  distinct  from  that  of  the  Germanic  and 
Romance  peoples,  and,  as  far  as  is  known,  from  that  of 
Eastern  music.  But  the  possible  remoter  connections  of 
Russian  folk-music  have  hardly  been  studied  yet,  and  in 
any  case  the  music  has  such  a  distinctive  quality  of  its  own, 
that  it  may  well  be  taken,  as  the  best  Russian  composers 
have  taken  it,  as  a  basis  for  the  development  of  a  national 
school  of  music. 

Russian  folk-music  must  be  heard  in  its  natural  environ- 
ment to  be  truly  appreciated.    Transferred  to  the  concert  - 

hall  it  nearly  always  suffers  some  modifica- 
tion that  mars  its  native  quality.   Composers 
in  transcribing  or  adapting  it   frequently  introduce  inter- 
vals that  are  suggestive  of  Western  rather  than  Russian 

16— (3400) 


232  Russia  of  the  Russians 

music,  harmonise  it  in  a  conventional  manner,  try  to 
smooth  down  its  roughness  and  to  prevent  its  seeming  to 
the  average  listener  too  odd  and  too  remote.  Sung  under 
such  conditions  by  ladies  and  gentlemen  in  evening  dress  to 
the  accompaniment  of  stringed  instruments  that  are  popular 
only  in  name  but  are  in  reality  as  artificial  as,  all  the  appur- 
tenances of  the  concert-hall,  the  Russian  folk-song  is  only  a 
faint  and  muffled  echo  of  its  original  self.  It  cannot,  in  fact, 
be  transferred  to  the  concert-hall  as  a  song.  But  that  is  not 
to  say  that  it  must  be  left  to  perish  in  its  native  fields,  as  it 
is  bound  to  perish  with  the  extension  of  technical  civilisation. 
It  will  continue  to  serve  as  it  has  served  for  the  last  fifty  years 
as  material  for  modern  composers.  As  themes  in  symphonies, 
sonatas,  orchestral  accompaniments,  and  as  operatic  airs 
these  spontaneous  melodies  will  live  on  in  a  more  complex 
world  of  art. 

It  is  when  you  get  away  from  the  neighbourhood  of  the 
railway  line  into  some  sleepy  region  where  the  "  sokha  "  or 
wooden  plough  is  still  in  use,  and  where  men  wear  curious,  old- 
fashioned  hats  instead  of  the  peaked  caps  common  near  the 
towns,  that  there  is  hope  of  hearing  Russian  songs  in  some- 
thing like  their  purity.  Best  of  all  if  the  women  are  singing 
in  the  fields  during  harvesting.  Perhaps  their  voices  are 
harsh,  perhaps  they  show  a  tendency  to  sing  through  the 
nose,  but  when  they  are  singing  in  chorus,  cheering  each 
other  at  work  among  yellow  sheaves  on  the  riverside  in  the 
light  of  the  afternoon  sun  the  harmony  between  people, 
landscape,  and  the  plaintive  melody  of  the  song  seems  com- 
plete. What  seems  to  us  the  plaintiveness  of  most  Russian 
melodies  does  not,  however,  mean  that  they  are  necessarily 
sad.  Perhaps  this  apparent  plaintiveness  is  simply  the  ex- 
pression of  some  intimate  correspondence  between  the  Russian 
mind  and  that  great  expanse  which  has  been  the  home  of  the 
Russians  for  centuries.  But  there  is  a  wide  play  of  varied 
emotion  in  these  folk-melodies.  Sometimes  they  express 
monotony,  sorrow,  solitude,  as  in  the  very  familiar  melody 


Music  233 

of  the  song,  "  One  birch  tree  in  the  field,"  in  which  the  four- 
fold reiteration  of  a  slowly-falling  cadence  at  the  end  of  sets 
of  three  bars  gives  a  .peculiar  effect  of  hopeless  loneliness. 
The  wedding  songs,  too,  are  very  mournful,  the  bride  con- 
stantly expressing  her  bitter  grief  at  leaving  her  home,  her 
father  and  mother,  and  going  out  to  a  cheerless  life  among 
strangers.  The  gloominess  of  the  Russian  peasant  woman's 
attitude  to  marriage  is  striking.  To  judge  by  the  songs  and 
by  the  wailing  of  the  relatives  it  might  be  imagined  that 
marriage  was  a  calamity  hardly  less  grave  than  death  itself. 
But  the  songs  again  bear  witness  to  the  contrary,  and  though 
maidens  frequently  complain  in  songs  of  their  sad  and  bitter 
lot  and  of  the  faithlessness  and  the  "  consciencelessness  "  of 
lovers,  they  often  sing  very  artfully  of  their  victories.  It  is 
remarkable,  indeed,  how  much  real  humour  there  is  in  many 
Russian  melodies,  and  how  much  humour  the  peasant  youths 
and  maidens  can  put  into  them  by  means  of  appropriate 
gestures  and  modifications  of  the  voice.  Often  the  humour 
of  Russian  melodies  consists  in  a  kind  of  parody  on  plain- 
tiveness,  sometimes  in  the  arch  trippingness  of  songs  that 
go  on  and  on  endlessly  eluding  pursuit.  Not  only  is  there 
humour  in  Russian  airs,  but  there  is  a  fine  rollicking  sense  of 
space  and  freedom  not  altogether  unlike  that  which  is  found 
in  the  older  English  sea-songs.  It  is  the  sense  of  the  steppe, 
or  of  broad  rivers  like  the  Volga,  the  Dnieper,  or  the  Don, 
or  of  the  Black  Sea  over  which  Cossacks  roved  in  their  plun- 
dering expeditions.  It  is  the  delight  in  a  shirokoie  razdolie, 
a  broad  rolling  expanse  in  which  a  man  can  draw  deep  breath, 
shake  off  all  trammels  and  feel  the  strength  that  is  in  him. 
All  this  is  in  the  Russian  folk-melodies  and  a  world  of  emotion 
besides.  Not  all  the  melodies  are  quaint  and  stirring.  Some 
are  simply  dull  and  colourless,  and  others  are  depressing. 
Folk-songs  are  not  always  charming  simply  because  they 
are  folk-songs.  There  are  many  points  at  which  inspiration 
fails  just  as  in  the  world  of  art,  and  often  instead  of  new 
melodies  one  finds  simply  combinations  or  adaptations  of 


234  Russia  of  the  Russians 

well-known  airs.  But  even  making  allowance  for  such  waste 
spaces  there  is  such  a  wealth  of  melody,  such  an  originality 
in  Russian  folk-music  that  even  custom,  the  accordion,  and 
the  gramophone  itself  cannot  stale  its  infinite  variety.  When 
one  gets  a  little  weary  of  Great  Russian  music  one  can  turn 
to  the  music  of  Little  Russia,  and  indeed,  there  is  no  chance 
of  one  ever  growing  sated,  for  the  older  folk-music  is  gradually 
slipping  away  from  the  hearts  of  the  people  who  alone  can 
keep  it  living  a  natural  life. 

It  is  melancholy  that  the  folk-songs  should  be  disappear- 
ing, but  it  is  inevitable  that  it  should  be  so.    The  people 

would  not  be  the  people  if  in  face  of  a  general 
^UMon^      modernisation  of  life  it  preserved  its  customs, 

its  costumes,  and  its  songs  exactly  in  the 
form  in  which  archaeologists  and  ethnologists  and  all  lovers 
of  the  beauty  of  an  older  day  seen  in  the  perspective  of  the 
twentieth  century  would  like  to  have  them  kept.  Peasants 
are  not  figures  in  a  museum.  They  are  living  human  beings 
whose  main  concern  is  to  live  as  best  they  can  in  a  changing 
world.  They  wear  leather  boots  instead  of  bast  shoes,  if 
the\'  can  buy  them.  And  it  is  just  as  natural  that  they 
should  abandon  the  reed-whistle  for  the  balalaika  and  the 
balalaika  for  the  accordion.  After  all,  it  is  not  very  certain 
whether  the  balalaika  was  originally  a  Russian  instrument. 
It  may  have  been  borrowed  from  the  Tartars,  or  adapted 
from  a  Kirghiz  instrument  of  a  similar  type  named  the 
"  domra."  The  "  gusli,"  a  kind  of  zither,  another  instru- 
ment that  has  almost  disappeared,  may  not  be  purely  Russian 
in  spite  of  its  Slavonic  name.  The  neighbouring  peoples, 
both  Turkish  and  Finnish,  have  similar  instruments,  and 
perhaps  the  gusli  was  borrowed  long  since  from  the  Greek 
South,  just  as  the  accordion  has  been  borrowed  at  a  later 
day  from  the  German  West.  Since  the  peasants  change 
their  instruments  it  seems  natural  that  they  should  change 
their  songs,  too.  A  few  of  the  folk-songs  have  come  into  the 
town  and  are  sung  without  spirit  by  underpaid  Government 


Music  235 

clerks  in  uniform,  making  anaemic  efforts  to  be  cheerful 
in  the  white  nights  of  May  in  summer  cottages  on  the 
outskirts  of  St.  Petersburg.  But  for  a  half-dozen  devital- 
ised folk-songs  that  find  their  way  into  the  towns  a  hundred 
tinkling  town  songs  find  their  way  into  the  country.  The 
true  folk-song  is  being  replaced  by  the  chastushka,  or  topical 
ditty,  representing  a  state  of  mind  which  is  shallow  and 
commonplace  compared  with  that  represented  in  the  folk- 
song The  factories,  which  lump  together  large  masses  of 
men  and  women,  blur  their  individuality  and  cut  them  off 
from  the  calming  and  healing  influences  of  nature  are  very 
largely  responsible  for  this.  The  songs  born  of  minds  wearied 
by  a  long  day's  mechanical  work  indoors  to  the  sound  of 
roaring  machines  cannot  possibly  have  the  freshness  and  the 
depth  of  the  songs  of  the  forest  and  the  open  field.  They 
are  of  necessity  shallow  and  sentimental,  and  the  airs  to  which 
they  are  sung  will  be  imitations  of  the  cheap  and  sentimental 
airs  made  familiar  through  the  gramophone  or  through  such 
cheap  concert-halls  as  the  workers  may  have  access  to.  The 
factory  songs  quickly  find  their  way  to  the  country,  and  so, 
instead  of  pretty  appeals  to  the  winds  to  bear  a  message  to  a 
lover  about  a  dream  his  maiden  dreamed  about  a  broken 
ring,  the  village  girls  on  holidays  walk  about  arm  in  arm 
singing  to  a  colourless  and  sentimental  air  a  song  of  town 
life  telling  how  "  Evening  falls,  the  compositors  are  going 
(to  work),  and  poor  Marusia  is  being  carried  to  the  Obukhov 
Hospital  "  (in  St.  Petersburg).  Then  folldw  lustreless  verses 
describing  how  Marusia's  friends  asked  the  doctor  and  the 
nurse  to  let  them  see  her ;  but  Marusia  was  already  in  the 
morgue,  and  in  the  end  they  learned  that  she  had  poisoned ' 
herself  for  love. 

One  may  mourn  that  the  quaint  old  songs  should  be  thrust 
into  oblivion  in  favour  of  such  dreary  banalities.  But  it 
must  be  admitted  that  songs  about  compositors,  hospitals, 
and  suicide  make  a  much  more  direct  appeal  to  peasant  girls 
living  around  the  St.  Petersburg  of  to-day  than  picturesque 


236  Russia  of  the. Russians 

old  songs  descriptive  of  the  exploits  of  the  insurgent  Stenka 
Razin  on  the  Volga.  There  is  more  art  in  the  older  songs, 
but  the  spontaneity  of  popular  art  fades  away  in  the  atmos- 
phere of  the  modern  towns.  The  native  impulse  must,  under 
the  changed  conditions,  be  supported  by  the  resources  of 
modern  art.  But  there  are  difficulties  which  will  be  referred 
to  later.  The  "  chastushki  "  are  often  freely  improvised  on 
current  events  or  on  well-known  persons  in  the  village  by 
more  or  less  skilful  singers.  With  a  given  pattern  of  metre 
and  melody  and  considerable  room  for  disposing  of  super- 
fluous syllables  such  composition  presents  no  insuperable 
obstacles.  Collections  of  "  chastushki "  have  been  made 
which  have  a  certain  value  as  documents  of  the  period,  but 
are  musically  and  poetically  trivial.  More  interesting  is 
another  and  earlier  type  of  song  which  has  to  a  large  extent 
taken  the  place  of  the  folk-song.  It  is  hard  to  give  this  type 
a  general  name ;  perhaps  if  the  most  recent  type  is  to  be 
described  as  the  factory  ditty,  the  more  indefinite  type  may 
be  described  as  the  song  of  the  artisans  and  petty  tradesmen 
who  felt  the  modernising  influences  of  the  nineteenth  century 
before  the  factory  had  attained  its  present  dimensions.  But 
the  type  includes  regimental  songs  as  well,  and  the  army 
has  been  and  is,  in  its  way,  almost  as  effective  as  a  levelling 
force  as  the  factory  itself.  The  difference  between  the  army 
and  the  factory  in  this  respect  is  that  the  former  naturally 
maintains  a  closer  contact  with  tradition,  especially  with  the 
fighting  tradition  of  the  nation.  These  regimental  songs, 
and  the  songs  of  the  petty  tradesmen  and  artisans  long  ago 
became  the  stock  music  of  the  "  traktirs,"  or  popular  eating 
and  drinking  houses  and  many  acquired  a  traditional  char- 
acter, so  that  frequently  they  were  confused  with  the  genuine 
folk-songs.  In  the  song-books  in  circulation  among  the 
people  it  is  these  songs  that  hold  the  chief  place,  and  Nadiezhda 
Plevitskaia,  a  peasant  woman  from  Kursk  who  a  few  years 
ago  made  a  momentary  sensation  in  the  capitals  as  a  singer 
of  folk-songs,  had  hardly  a  real  folk-song  in  her  repertoire. 


Music  237 

What  she  sang  was  simply  such  a  well-known  pseudo-folk-song 
as  "  The  bold  young  merchant  Ukhar,"  or  that  song  about 
the  great  fire  of  Moscow  in  which  Napoleon  is  described  as 
standing  in  a  grey  overcoat  and  saying  to  himself  with  "  the 
still  voice  of  consciousness  "  that  "  Fate  plays  with  man 
and  is  fickle  ever." 

Another  type  of  song  that  is  often  confused  with  the  folk- 
song is  that  of  the  songs  sung  by  the  gipsy  choirs  which       ^ 

perform  in  the  larger  restaurants  frequented 
Gipsy  Songs,    chiefly  by  the  merchants.    Occasionally  these        \ 

choirs  do  sing  real  folk-songs,  occasionally  \ 
real  gipsy  airs,  but  just  as  often  as  not  the  songs  they  sing 
have  found  their  way  to  Russia  from  town  to  town,  from  j 
restaurant  to  restaurant  right  across  Europe.  If  the  gipsy 
choirs  have  a  remote  connection  with  the  people  on  one  side, 
they  are  much  more  closely  connected  on  the  other  with 
that  caf6-chantant  world  which  in  various  ways  passes  on  to 
the  people  trivial  and  facile  modern  airs  that  are  caught  up 
as  a  makeshift  for  interpreting  the  hasty  and  superficial 
emotions  of  a  new  time. 

The  people  is,  in  fact,  musically  in  a  helpless  position  at 
the  present  moment.    All  sorts  of  natural  forces  are  crowding 

out  the  quaint,  distinctive,  traditional  folk- 
Modem        music,  and  flooding  the  country  with  nonde- 
Ifati^Music!    script,  semi-European  airs.  The  people  submits 

to  this  natural  process.  The  striving  of  the 
younger  generation  after  modernity,  polish,  gentility,  is  per- 
force satisfied  by  the  musical  scraps  flung  down  by  the  noisy 
machinery  of  European  civilisation  in  the  dreary,  dusty, 
untidy  streets  in  the  workmen's  quarter  on  the  outskirts  of 
the  great  cities.  .  The  people  is  unable  to  exercise  any  selec- 
tive power,  and  so  far  it  has  been  helped  very  little.  A  great 
deal  could  be  done  to  develop  native  musical  taste  by,  the 
organisation  of  popular  choirs,  as  is  shown  by  the  example 
of  the  Finns,  Letts,  and  Esthonians,  whose  village  choirs  and 
annual  choral  festivals  in  various  towns  in  Finland,  in  Reval, 


238  Russia  of  the  Russians 

in  Esthonia,  and  in  Riga,  the  Lettish  centre,  have  done  a 
very  great  deal  to  raise  the  general  level  of  musical  capacity 
in  the  respective  nationalities.  In  Russia  only  sporadic 
attempts  have  been  made  so  far  to  organise  popular  choirs 
— in  connection  with  certain  philanthropic  institutions  in  the 
towns,  for  instance — and,  indeed,  the  villages  have  been 
hitherto  so  neglected  in  the  most  essential  respects  that 
probably  other  forms  of  organisation,  such  as  fire-brigades 
and  co-operative  societies,  will  have  to  precede  that  of  glee- 
clubs.  Until  recently  the  political  conditions  were  such 
as  to  prevent  all  kinds  of  organising  work  among  the 
peasantry,  but  it  now  seems  possible  that  village  choirs 
will  soon  take  their  place  among  the  many  factors  of  change 
that  are  rapidly  transforming  country  life  in  Russia. 

One  of  the  impediments  to  secular  musical  organisation 
in  the  country,  and  to  a  large  extent  in  the  towns  also,  is 
that  there  is  no  centre  around  which  to  organise.  In  Fin- 
land, Esthonia,  and  in  the  Lettish  country,  the  Church,  which 
in  these  regions  is  Protestant,  serves  very  frequently  as  the 
necessary  rallying-point,  if  there  is  no  other  centre  sufficiently 
influential.  But  the  Orthodox  Church  does  not  encourage 
the  cultivation  of  secular  music  within  its  precincts.  Attempts 
made  during  the  early  part  of  the  nineteenth  century  to  hold 
concerts  in  connection  with  church  services  were  soon  put  a 
stop  to,  and  though  the  Church  does  not  oppose  good  secular 
music  now  as  it  did  the  folk-music  of  the  older  time,  it  does 
not  give  any  opportunities  for  disseminating  it  among  the 
people.  The  musical  instruction  it  gives  is  like  all  the  in- 
struction in  the  parish  schools  purely  ecclesiastical.  But  it 
is  fortunate  that  it  does  at  any  rate  give  instruction  in 
ecclesiastical  music,  and  through  the  parish  choirs  maintains 
a  certain  level  of  musical  taste  in  a  time  of  rapid  change. 

Church  music  occupies  a  position  akin  to  popular  music 
as  a  source  of  modern  developments.  In  its  way  Russian 
church  music  is  very  national  and  distinctive,  though  it  cer- 
tainly   shows    more   traces  of  foreign    influence    than    the 


Music  239 

folk-song.    There  is  at  least  as  much  modern  art  as  ancient 
tradition  in  the  magnificent  singing  of   the   Metropolitan's 

Choir  in  the  Alexander  Nevsky  Lavra  in  St. 

Tth   ^hS1°h°f  Petersburg,  *or  ^1  that  it  seems  to  untrained 

ears  so  strikingly  Eastern.  But  there  is  a  real 
basis  of  Eastern  tradition.  Russian  church  music  is  derived 
from  that  of  the  Greek  church  of  Constantinople  and  from 
the  music  of  the  early  Bulgarian  church.  The  tradition  was 
handed  down  through  the  troubled  middle-ages  of  Russian 
history,  partly  by  means  of  a  notation  called  the  "  signs/' 
or  the  "  hooks,"  partly  through  occasional  reinforcements 
of  Greek  ecclesiastics  for  whose  benefit  the  Greek  text  was 
long  retained  side  by  side  with  the  Slavonic  in  the  service- 
books.  But  there  were  natural  variations  in  the  course  of 
the  centuries,  and  radical  reforms  were  effected  in  the  time 
of  Ivan  the  Terrible  and  during  the  seventeenth  century. 
During  Catherine's  reign  French  and  Italian  influences  made 
themselves  felt  in  church  music,  hardly  to  its  advantage,  and 
all  through  the  nineteenth  century  there  was  a  conflict  between 
a  Westernising  and  a  nationalist  school  of  ecclesiastical 
music. 

Russian  church  music  thus  bears  a  composite  character, 
and  several  of  the  most  popular  masses  composed  during 
the  last  century  have  a  predominantly  Western  and  modern 
colouring.  Towards  the  end  of  the  century  several  specialists 
in  church  music,  of  whom  Feodor  Lvovsky  and  Stepan 
Smolensky  were  the  chief,  did  a  great  deal  in  transposing 
for  modern  use  ancient  Russian,  Greek,  and  Bulgarian  music. 
The  intrusion  of  foreign  elements,  though  it  sometimes  lessens 
the  impressiveness  of  Russian  church  music,  has  not  availed 
to  rob  it  of  its  distinctiveness,  and  indeed  the  whole  ritual 
of  the  Eastern  service  sets  certain  very  definite  limits  to 
change.  The  Slavonic  language  of  the  prayers  has  a  regu- 
lative effect  upon  the  music,  and  all  the  Greek  suggestions 
in  ritual  terminology,  in  vestments,  and  other  ecclesiastical 
forms  prevent  a  too  sudden  break  with  tradition.     Several 


240  Russia  of  the  Russians 

of  the  best  modern  Russian  composers,  like  Chaikovsky  and 
Rimsky-Korsakov,  have  paid  considerable  attention  to  ecclesi- 
astical music,  and  Chaikovsky's  liturgy  is  sung  every  year 
on  Whitsunday  in  the  Alexander  Nevsky  Lavra  in  St.  Peters- 
burg. Concerts  of  church  music  are  frequently  given  in  the 
capitals,  but  in  the  concert-hall  such  music  seems  to  lose 
its  essential  quality  and  to  become  too  plainly  modern  and 
uninteresting.  There  is  a  Choirmasters'  Society  in  St.  Peters- 
burg, and  in  all  the  towns  and  villages  of  the  Empire  priests, 
deacons,  monks,  cantors,  and  choirmasters  or  regeniy  make 
efforts  to  spread  the  knowledge  of  ecclesiastical  singing  as  a 
branch  of  ritual  observance.  In  all  this  there  is  a  great  deal 
that  is  coldly  official,  a  great  deal  of  uninspired  effort  to 
furbish  up,  modernise  and  popularise  tradition.  But  singing 
is  singing,  and  Russian  church  music  at  its  very  worst  never 
lacks  some  touching  note  of  other-worldliness,  while  at  its 
highest  it  subtly  stirs  in  a  way  that  no  other  music  can,  a 
strange  complex  of  worshipping  emotion  in  which  predominates 
a  humbling  and  deeply  penitent  sense  of  sin. 

The  older  church  music  is  retained  to  a  large  extent  in  the 
services  of  the  Old  Believers,  whose  nasal  mode  of  singing 
resembles  that  practised  in  Greek  churches  in  the  East 
at  the  present  day.  The  music  of  the  other  Russian  sects 
presents  a  wide  and  interesting  field  for  study.  Some- 
times the  psalms  and  hymns  of  the  Dissenters  are  sung  to 
familiar  fragments  of  church  music  ;  but  very  often,  and  this 
is  particularly  true  of  the  hymns  of  the  Khlysty  and  the 
Skoptsy,  folk-songs,  folk-melodies  form  the  basis  of  their 
psalmody.  The  modern  Westernising  sects  adapt  for  their 
own  use  English  and  American  revival  hymns.  There  is  one 
other  type  of  song  that  may  be  included  in  the  category  of 
popular  music,  namely,  the  revolutionary  songs  that  were  in 
vogue  a  few  years  ago.  They  were  not  popular  songs  in  the 
strict  sense  of  the  word.  Most  of  them  were  written  bv 
students  or  other  educated  revolutionaries.  The  melodies 
were  not  original,  but  were  adapted  from  folk-songs  and  other 


Music  241 

familiar  airs.  There  was  an  adaptation  of  the  Marseillaise, 
and  one  of  the  most  affecting  of  all  the  revolutionary  songs 
was  sung  to  the  music  of  a  well-known  military  funeral  march. 
It  is  curious  that  the  revolutionary  period  did  not  produce 
a  single  song  of  original  poetical  beauty  and  deep  passion, 
and  this  is  especially  noticeable  if  the  revolutionary  songs 
are  compared  with  some  of  the  sectarian  hymns — those  of 
the  sect  of  the  New  Israel  for  instance — produced  during  the 
same  period.  Perhaps  the  moment  of  political  upheaval  is 
unfavourable  to  artistic  production,  and  in  any  case  in  Russia 
the  revolution  as  a  political  movement  did  not  find  striking 
expression  either  in  literature  or  art,  and  certainly  not  in 
music. 

All  the  manifold  forms  of  traditional  and  popular  music 
have  served  as  a  basis  for  the  development  of  a  modern 

school  of  Russian  music.  Such  a  musical 
Modern  people  as  the  Russian  could  not  fail  in  adapt- 
ing the  technique  of  Western  civilisation  to 
its  own  uses  to  express  itself  in  the  forms  of  modern  music. 
And  here  it  had  less  ground  to  make  up  than  in  other  spheres 
of  art,  modern  music  being  after  all  such  a  recent  discovery. 
French  and  Italian  music  had  a  certain  influence  in  Russia 
at  the  end  of  the  eighteenth  and  the  beginning  of  the  nine- 
teenth century,  and  in  the  first  half  of  the  nineteenth  century 
there  were  obscure  quasi-national  composers,  most  of  whom 
are  forgotten*  now  except  Lvov,  the  author  of  the  National 
Anthem, "  God  save  the  Tsar."  It  was  not  until  towards 
the  middle  of  the  century  that  a  genuinely  national  school 
of  music  took  its  rise  in  the  work  of  those  three  who  may 
be  regarded  as  the  pioneers  of  modern  Russian  music.  Glinka's 
national  opera,  Life  for  the  Tsar,  was  produced  in  1836  in 
St.  Petersburg,  and  had  a  great  and  immediate  success.  But 
this  was  only  a  brief  gleam.  Italian  opera  secured  for  many 
years  a  monopoly  of  the  St.  Petersburg  stage,  and  Glinka's 
masterpiece  did  not  secure  permanent  success  until  the  'six- 
ties, when  a  new  era  began  for  music  as  for  all  other  forms 


242  Russia  of  the  Russians 

of  public  activity.  But  Glinka  did  not  live  to  see  the  brighter 
day.  His  life  was  a  sad  and  restless  one  and  he  had  the 
disappointments  of  the  pioneer  and  few  of  his  joys,  except 
the  one  inalienable  joy  of  hearing  sweet  sounds  that  no 
others  could  hear.  When  he  was  a  little  boy  he  delighted  in 
the  sound  of  church  bells  that  came  floating  in  through  the 
windows  of  his  home  in  the  government  of  Smolensk.  He 
conceived  a  passion  for  folk-songs,  and  it  was  he  who  later 
made  the  first  really  successful  attempts  to  embody  folk- 
melodies  in  operatic  music.  He  travelled  far  and  wide, 
visiting  the  Caucasus  which  made  a  deep  and  ineffaceable 
impression  upon  him  as  it  did  upon  his  contemporaries,  the 
poets  Pushkin  and  Lermontov,  and  spending  four  years  study 
in  Italy,  towards  which  in  the  'thirties  the  eyes  of  Russian 
artists  were  constantly  turned.  Seven  months'  work  in  Berlin 
gave  Glinka  a  more  thorough  and  intimate  knowledge  of 
musical  theory.  The  comparative  failure  of  his  opera,  Ruslan 
and  Ludmila,  on  its  production  in  St.  Petersburg  in  1842, 
sent  the  restless  composer  abroad  again.  He  gave  concerts 
in  Paris  with  his  friend  and  admirer  Berlioz  as  conductor, 
wandered  to  Spain  where  he  collected  folk-songs,  and  roved 
constantly  between  St.  Petersburg,  Smolensk,  and  Paris 
until  his  death  in  1857.  Like  many  wanderers  he  suffered 
keenly  from  home-sickness,  and  it  was  his  home-sickness 
that  accentuated  his  national  feelings  and  impelled  him  to 
write  the  first  Russian  national  opera  and  deliberately  to 
devote  himself  to  the  work  of  establishing  a  distinctively 
Russian  style  in  music. 

Glinka  exercised  on  his  contemporaries  and  his  immediate 
successors  an  influence  that  is  difficult  at  the  present  day  to 

appreciate.     Much  of  his  music  retains  its 
Glinka.         attractiveness,  though  his  methods  have  been 

so  frequently  made  use  of  by  others  that 
they  have  lost  the  charm  of  freshness.  Glinka  anticipated 
Wagner,  for  instance,  in  his  use  of  the  leit-motiv.  Moreover, 
Glinka's  style  is  by  no  means  purely  Russian,  and  there  are 


Music  243 

many  traces  of  Italian  influence.  His  Life  for  the  Tsar,  based 
on  the  story  of  how  Michael  Feodorovich,  the  founder  of  the 
Romanov  dynasty,  was  saved  from  pursuing  Poles  by  a 
peasant  named  Ivan  Susanin  who  led  the  Polish  troops  astray 
in  the  forest  and  was  killed  by  them  when  they  discovered 
the  ruse,  has  become  a  standard  patriotic  opera,  and  owes 
its  popularity  as  much  to  the  familiarity  arising  from  fre- 
quent performance  as  to  the  real  beauties  it  undoubtedly 
possesses.  But  these  beauties  are  sporadic,  and  foreigners 
find  it  difficult  to  share  the  admiration  of  many  Russians  for 
the  opera  as  a  whole.  Much  superior  to  Life  for  the  Tsar  as 
a  work  of  art  is  Ruslan  and  Ludmila,  based  on  a  delightful 
fantasy  of  Pushkin's,  although  it  was  not  until  twenty  years 
after  its  earliest  production  that  Ruslan  and  Ludmila  secured 
that  position  in  the  first  rank  of  Russian  operas  which  it 
occupies  to  this- day.  Glinka  composed  a  number  of  songs 
and  instrumental  works  which  are  still  occasionally  per- 
formed, but  his  fame  rests  mainly  on  the  two  operas  which 
keep  fresh  the  memory  of  that  powerful  creative  impulse  in 
which  modern  Russian  music  had  its  birth.  He  died  in 
Berlin  at  the  age  of  fifty-three,  disappointed  and  embittered, 
one  of  the  causes  that  hastened  his  death  being,  it  is  said, 
a  letter  of  Rubinstein's  in  a  German  newspaper  ridiculing 
the  attempt  to  found  a  Russian  national  school  of  music. 
A  monument  of  a  cheerlessly  official  type  has  been  erected 
to  his  memory  near  the  St.  Petersburg  Opera  House  and 
Conservatoire  in  the  street  that  bears  his  name. 

Glinka's  contemporary,  Dargomyzhsky,  is  chiefly  known  as 
the  author  of  the  still  popular  opera  Rusalka,  the  subject  of 

which  is  drawn  from  a  poetical  fragment  of 
Dargomyzhsky.  Pushkin's.     His  unfinished  opera,  The  Stone 

Guest,  which  is  based  on  another  fragment  in 
which  Pushkin  treated  the  Don  Juan  legend  and  was  com- 
pleted after  the  composer's  death  by  Rimsky  Korsakov  and 
C6sar  Cui,  has  not  been  produced  of  recent  years  though  pre- 
parations have  been  made  for  its  revival.    As  a  song-writer 


244  Russia  of  the  Russians 

Dargomyzhsky  was  much  more  successful  than  Glinka,  and 
many  of  his  songs,  in  spite  of  their  old-fashioned  form,  con- 
tinue to  charm  and  to  delight.  His  orchestral  works,  such 
as  A  Finnish  Fantasy,  are  full  of  suggestions  which  were  later 
developed  by  other  composers.  Dargomyzhsky  seems  to 
have  had  a  strong  vein  of  humour,  but  he  lived  in  a  cheerless 
and  baffling  time,  his  artistic  path  was  strewn  with  disappoint- 
ments, and  the  impression  he  leaves  is  one  of  rich  possibilities 
only  half  realised.  Like  Glinka  he  was  a  forerunner.  Both 
had  inadequate  means  at  their  disposal,  but  both  were  enthu- 
siastic in  their  efforts  to  give  musical  expression  to  the  manifold 
emotions  of  that  brilliant  period  of  intellectual  awakening  which 
produced  such  writers  as  Pushkin,  Lermontov,  and  Gogol. 

Alexander  Nicholaievich  S6rov,  the  third  prominent  com- 
poser of  the  Glinka  period  was  less  talented,  if  more  learned 

than  either  Glinka  or  Dargomyzhsky.  He 
Sfc-ov.  was  known  as  an  able  musical  critic  before 
he  came  before  the  world  as  a  composer,  and 
it  is  as  a  critic  that  he  rendered  his  greatest  services.  His 
operas,  Rognieda  and  Hostile  Forces,  are  rarely  produced 
nowadays,  and  another  opera  of  his,  Judith,  holds  its  position 
on  the  stage  because  in  it  the  part  of  Holofernes  is  sung  by 
such  an  incomparable  artist  as  Shaliapin.  S6rov's  figure  has 
been  rescued  from  the  oblivion  into  which  it  was  fast  sinking 
by  the  very  interesting  memoirs  recently  published  by  his 
widow,  herself  a  composer,  who  has  devoted  herself  to  the 
popularisation  of  music  and  is  erecting  in  a  village  near 
Ghudovo  in  the  Novgorod  government  a  choral  amphitheatre 
for  the  production  of  operas  by  amateur  peasant  companies. 

Dargomyzhsky  and  S6rov  lived  to  see  the  beginnings  of 
an  era  of  fulfilment.  Russian  music  sprang  into  vigorous 
life  in  the  sixties  when  the  breath  of  renewal  passed  through 
the  whole  social  and  political  structure  of  the  Empire.  A 
talented  group  of  young  composers  appeared  and  carried  on 
with  energy  the  work  of  Glinka  and  Dargomyzhsky  in  the 
development  of  a  national  school  of  music.    This  group  was 


Music  245 

called  the  Balakirev  circle,  from  the  name  of  its  leader,  and 
later  came  to  be  known  familiarly  as  the  moguchaia  kuchka, 
or  the  "  mighty  clique."  In  France  it  is  spoken  of  as  "  Les 
Cinq,"  since  it  consisted  of  five  members,  Balakirev,  Rimsky- 
Korsakov,  Borodin,  Musorgsky,  and  Cesar  Cui.  The  traditions 
of  the  group  are  still  fresh.  Cesar  Cui  is  still  living,  and  may 
frequently  be  seen  at  St.  Petersburg  concerts.  Balakirev 
died  in  1910,  and  Rimsky-Korsakov  in  1908.  Borodin  died 
as  long  ago  as  1887,  and  Musorgsky  in  1881  at  a  compara- 
tively early  age.  The  members  of  the  group  differed  greatly 
from  one  another  in  character  and  in  the  nature  of  their 
talent.  They  did  not  even  constitute  a  school  in  the  strictest 
sense  of  the  word,  for  after  a  few  years  of  ardent  co-operation 
they  drifted  apart,  each  composer  taking  a  path  of  his  own, 
growing  differences  in  views  and  methods  leading  in  certain 
cases  to  estrangement.  The  imperious  talent  of  Balakirev, 
which  united  the  group  at  the  beginning,  gradually  ceased 
to  exercise  commanding  authority  over  the  other  members. 
But  a  strongly  national  spirit  characterised  all,  except  per- 
haps Cui,  who  is  of  French  extraction,  and  in  this  sense  the 
group  together  with  other  composers,  who  were  closely  associ- 
ated with  its  members,  may  justly  be  described  as  the  New 
Russian  School.  Balakirev  and  Rimsky-Korsakov  were 
ardent  admirers  of  Glinka,  and  both  carefully  studied  folk- 
music  and  collected  and  harmonised  folk-songs.  Their 
nationalism  was  no  mere  patriotic  masquerade.  It  was 
something  inseparable  from  their  artistic  instinct,  from  the 
very  nature  of  their  talent.  It  represented  an  effort  to 
express  the  Russian  spirit  in  music  which  was  just  as  legiti- 
mate as  the  effort  of  Pushkin  and  his  successors  to  express 
the  same  spirit  in  poetry,  or  that  of  Turgeniev  and  Tolstoy 
to  express  it  in  prose.  The  development  of  music  in  Russia 
ran  parallel,  in  fact,  with  the  development  of  literature,  and 
the  Slavophil  and  populist  influences  which  made  them- 
selves felt  in  literature  stimulated  nationalism  in  music. 
But  music,  since  it  approaches  more  nearly  to  the  absolute 


246  Russia  of  the  Russians 

than  any  of  the  other  arts,  fortunately  largely  escaped  the 
effect  of  those  anti-aesthetic  tendencies  which  impeded  the 
growth  of  literature  in  the  'eighties  and  'nineties.  Those  who 
denied  art  on  general  grounds  might  continue  to  occupy 
themselves  with  literature  in  some  form,  if  only  to  condemn 
literature.  But  music  they  simply  ignored.  And  the 
national  school  of  music  vindicated  itself  in  such  strikingly 
original  work  as  Borodin's  Prince  Igor,  Musorgsky's  Boris 
Godunov  and  Khovanshchina,  Rimsky-Korsakov's  long  series 
of  brilliant  operas,  and  the  admirable  songs  and  instrumental 
pieces  of  Balakirev  and  Cui. 
But  the  national  school  had  to  fight  a  continual  battle 
j      against  opponents  at  home.    The  pianist,  Anton  Rubinstein, 

for   instance,    was   an   advocate   of   cosmo- 
R  binsteixi       politanism  in  music.     It  was  just  before  the 

rise  of  the  national  school  that  Rubinstein 
assumed  in  the  history  of  musical  development  that  promi- 
nent position  which  he  continued  to  hold  for  the  remainder 
of  his  life.  Born  in  1829  he  made  his  debut  as  a  pianist  in 
Moscow  at  the  age  of  nine  and  in  Paris  at  the  age  of  eleven, 
after  which  he  toured  in  England,  Holland,  Sweden,  and 
Germany  with  striking  success.  For  five  years  he  studied 
the  theory  of  music  abroad,  Meyerbeer  being  one  of  bis 
teachers  and  Mendelssohn  one  of  his  warmest  admirers,  and 
.  on  his  return  to  Russia  he  became  musical  adviser  at  the 
'.  court  of  the  enlightened  Grand  Duchess  Elena  Pavlona.  He 
was  the  first  director  of  the  St.  Petersburg  Conservatoire, 
1  opened  in  1862,  and  he  was  incessantly  active  as  a  pianist 
and  composer.  Of  his  genius  as  a  pianist,  of  his  unrivalled 
touch,  of  that  power  of  interpretation  that  was  tantamount 
to  re-creation  all  Europe  and  America  had  frequent  oppor- 
tunity to  judge.  He  was  extraordinarily  prolific  as  a  com- 
poser, but  the  general  estimate  of  his  work  in  this  respect 
is  expressed  in  the  familiar  dictum,  "  Chaikovsky  wrote  so 
much  that  it  is  not  surprising  that  some  of  his  compositions 
were  poor,  and  Rubinstein  wrote  so  much  that  it  is  no  wonder 


MODEST  MUSORGSKY 


Music  247 

that  some  of  his  were  good.'*  It  is  not  as  a  composer  that 
Rubinstein  ranks  high  in  Russian  musical  history,  but  as  an 
interpreter  and  a  populariser.  The  "  purple  patches  "  that 
from  time  to  time  occur  in  his  compositions  are  separated  by 
long  tracts  of  undistinguished  fluency.  Many  of  his  piano- 
forte pieces  and  his  symphonies  still  enjoy  popularity  in 
Russia,  but  of  the  twenty  operas  that  he  wrote,  including 
four  "  religious  operas,"  or  musical  dramas  on  Biblical  sub- 
jects, the  only  one  that  is  now  staged  is  The  Demon,  which 
owes  its  continued  popularity  less  to  Rubinstein's  music  than 
to  Lermontov's  romantic  poem  which  forms  the  basis  of  the 
libretto.'  Rubinstein  was  conservative  and  cosmopolitan  in 
his  musical  tastes,  and  in  general  an  opponent  of  the  Russian 
national  school  of  music.  His  occasional  attempts  to  write 
in  the  national  spirit  ended  in  failure,  but  at  times  he  suc- 
ceeded in  giving  his  music  a  distinctive  and  original  oriental 
colouring.  In  his  efforts  to  spread  a  knowledge  and  love  of 
music  among  the  general  public  Rubinstein  was  unwearying. 
He  was  the  chief  founder  of  the  Russian  Musical  Society, 
which  now  has  branches  in  all  parts  of  Russia,  and,  in  spite 
of  various  defects,  has  done  most  important  work  in  raising 
the  general  standard  of  musical  taste,  and  in  firmly  estab- 
lishing the  conception  of  music  as  an  art  with  lofty  claims. 
Rubinstein's  concerts,  particularly  his  historical  concerts, 
were  of  great  educative  value.  In  the  seventies  and  'eighties 
he  was  one  of  the  most  popular  figures  in  the  Russian  capitals, 
and  his  square,  bulky  form,  and  leonine,  Beethoven-like  head, 
with  the  thick  masses  of  hair  and  the  rugged  forehead  were 
familiar  in  all  public  assemblies. 

Anton  Rubinstein's  brother  Nicholas  also  possessed  extra- 
ordinary talent  as  a  pianist,  and  as  the  head  df  the  Moscow 

branch  of  the  Russian  Musical  Society  and 
Nicholas        tjje  Moscow  Conservatoire  he  greatly  stimu- 

lated  the  development   of  musical   culture. 
Like  his  brother  he  was  a  Westerner  in  his  musical  tastes, 
although  by  his  concerts  he  did  a  great  deal  to  popularise 
17— (2400) 


248  Russia  of  the  Russians 

Russian  music  in  Western  Europe.  Chaikovsky  owed  much 
to  his  influence.  Nicholas  Rubinstein  possessed,  in  fact,  as 
a  musical  pedagogue  such  a  marked  and  forceful  individuality 
that  the  tradition  he  established  has  not  yet  wholly  lost  its 
hold  on  the  present  generation  of  Moscow  composers. 

With  both  Anton  and  Nicholas  Rubinstein,  Balikirev  and 
his  associates  found  themselves  in  conflict  on  the  question 
of  the  relative  merits  of  Russian  national  and  cosmopolitan 
music,  cosmopolitan  music  being,  as  the  nationalists  insisted, 
simply  German  music  under  another  name. 

But  the  nationalists  were  very  far  from  condemning  German 
music,  they  acknowledged  their  great  debt  to  Beethoven  and 

were  ardent  admirers  of  Schumann  and  Berlioz 
Bal4kirev.       and  also  of  Liszt,  with  whom  Balakirev  was  on 

very  friendly  terms.  They  insisted,  however, 
on  the  autonomous  rights  of  Russian  music,  both  as  regards 
form  and  spirit.  Hand  in  hand  with  their  nationalism  went 
a  tendency  to  deprecate  the  importance  of  musical  training, 
and  to  leave  inspiration  untrammelled  by  theory.  They 
could  point  to  the  example  of  Dargomyzhsky ,  who  had  written 
beautiful  work  despite  his  lack  of  training  in  form,  in  fact 
Dargomyzhsky  openly  expressed  his  contempt  for  musical 
learning.  Ba&kirev  had  an  unerring  instinct  for  form  that 
made  up  for  the  lack  of  systematic  schooling  in  music,  and 
perhaps  it  was  this  fact  that  made  him  impatient  of  efforts 
to  promote  systematic  musical  training  in  Russia  and  explains 
his  hostility  to  the  establishment  of  the  St.  Petersburg  and 
Moscow  Conservatoires  in  the  early  'sixties.  He  dreaded  that 
official  Conservatoires  might  have  the  effect  of  establishing 
musical  mediocrity,  and  for  his  part  he  would  only  encourage 
talent.  But  he  was  a  stern  taskmaster  to  his  associates, 
and  they  owed  much  of  their  skill  to  his  hard  lessons.  Mus- 
orgsky,  a  young  officer,  was  simply  brimming  over  with 
musical  talent,  but  he  rebelled  against  the  efforts  of  the 
Bal&kirev  group  to  induce  him  to  study  theory  and  to  elaborate 
the  formal  side  of  his  work.    He  and  Rimsky-Korsakov  lived 


Music 


249 


together  for  a  time  in  the  early  'seventies,  and  he  was  greatly 
indebted  to  his  friend's  suggestions,  but  later  he  slipped  away 
from  all  dscipline,  drank  heavily,  listened  to  endless  lauda- 
tions of  his  genius  from  boon-companions  and  finally  died  in 
delirium  tremens. 

Borodin  was  a  professor  of  chemistry,  and  was  a  distin- 
guished scientific  investigator  as  well  as  a  talented  composer. 

But  he  lived  in  delightful  disorder.  His  rooms 
Borodin.  were  constantly  besieged  by  students,  and 
the  remarkable  works  he  did  produce  were 
like  flowers  that  grew  wild  amidst  a  litter  of  very  varied  and 
interesting  occupations.  It  is  characteristic  that  the  best 
work  of  both  Musorgsky  and  Borodin  was  set  in  order,  arranged 
or  completed  by  Rimsky-Korsakov. 

Rimsky-Korsakov  was  a  very  different  kind  of  man  from 
the  other  members  of  the  group.     In  his  youth  he  was  a  naval 

officer,  and  after  showing  Bal&kirev  some 
I^sakov  early  work  in  which  his  talent  was  clearly 
displayed,  he  went  off  on  a  three  years'  cruise. 
On  his  return  he  once  more  came  under  Baldkirev's  influence, 
and  again  began  to  compose,  learning  the  rules  of  composition 
in  practice.  It  was  the  Baldkirev  way,  and  it  was  a  very  good 
way  for  men  of  talent  and  fine  musical  instinct.  But  Rimsky- 
Korsakov  was  not  only  talented  but  conscientious,  and  when, 
in  1871,  he  was  invited  to  occupy  in  the  St.  Petersburg  Con- 
servatoire the  chair  of  composition  and  instrumentation,  he 
shrank  from  accepting  because,  as  he  said,  though  he  was 
the  author  of  such  works  as  Sadko,  Pskovitianka,  and  Antara, 
which  had  been  favourably  received,  he  could  not  harmonise 
a  chorale,  he  had  never  written  an  exercise  in  counterpoint, 
he  had  only  the  vaguest  idea  of  tlie  structure  of  a  fugue,  and 
was  ignorant  of  much  of  musical  terminology  and  of  the 
technique  of  various  instruments.  But  having  been  induced 
to  accept  the  chair  he  set  to  work  to  fill  up  the  gaps  in  his 
knowledge  and  in  a  few  years  became  one  of  the  most  thorough 
masters  of  musical  theory  and  practice  in  Russia.    In  his 


250  Russia  of  the  Russians 

later  works  he  paid  the  closest  attention  to  details  of  form 
and  revised  his  own  compositions  again  and  again,  besides 
editing  the  work  of  his  associates  and  predecessors,  and 
giving  constant  counsel  that  has  borne  valuable  fruit  in  the 
work  of  the  younger  Russian  composers.  With  Rimsky- 
Korsakov,  however,  form  was  never  supreme  over  inspira- 
tion, but  only  gave  firmness  of  outline  and  clearness  of  ex- 
pression to  the  strong  impulse  of  his  rich  talent.  He  was 
the  most  persistent  and  most  prolific  worker  of  all  the  mem- 
bers of  the  Balakirev  group,  and  maintained  throughout  his 
life  a  rare  serenity  of  outlook.  He  was  an  optimist,  his  work 
is  a  constant  affirmation  of  life,  is  full  of  colour  and  movement, 
and  is  often  suggestive  of  that  of  a  man  so  different  in  many 
respects  from  Rimsky-Korsakov  as  William  Morris.  His 
delight  in  the  world  of  ancient  Russian  history  and  Eastern 
legend,  his  pantheistic  view  of  nature,  his  humour,  his  sense 
of  the  beauty  of  dream  are  all  co-ordinated  and  controlled 
by  a  sensitive,  artistic  conscience  which  is  closely  akin  to 
that  moral  delight  in  overcoming  which  pervaded  his  work 
and  his  life.  National  feeling  was  for  him  a  perpetual  source 
of  inspiration.  He  recalls  how  an  invitation  to  an  estate  in 
the  Tver  government  once  aroused  in  him  such  a  sudden  and 
keen  enthusiasm  for  the  very  soil  and  heart  of  Russia  that 
on  the  strength  of  it  he  sat  down  and  wrote  anew  one  of  the 
choruses  in  Pskovitianka.  He  was  happy  in  his  home  life, 
honoured  as  a  professor  and  later  as  the  Director  of  the. 
St.  Petersburg  Conservatoire,  and  from  the  later  'eighties 
onward  wielded  commanding  influence  in  the  Russian  musical 
world.  He  held  aloof  from  politics,  but  in  1905  he  took 
the  side  of  the  students  of  the  Conservatoire  in  a  moment 
of  unrest  and  was  deprived  of  his  post  for  doing  so — the 
result  naturally  being  an  outburst  of  enthusiasm  on  his 
behalf.  Rimsky-Korsakov  was  a  strong  and  a  happj' 
man,  one  of  the  few  Russian  artists  who  have  attained 
inner  harmony. 

It  is  interesting  to  compare  Rimsky-Korsakov's  nationalism 


Music  251 

with  that  of  Balakirev.  The  leader  of  the  group  of  five  had 
by  no  means  such  an  outwardly  successful  career  as  that  of 
his  most  distinguished  pupil.  In  opposition  to  Rubinstein 
and  the  so-called  German  school  with  its  Conservatoire, 
Balakirev  founded  a  Free  Musical  School  for  the  encourage- 
ment of  musical  talent,  and  for  some  years  exercised  great 
influence  through  this  school  and  the  concerts  he  conducted 
in  connection  with  it.  For  a  time,  too,  he  even  directed  the 
concerts  of  the  Russian  Musical  Society,  an  official  institution 
in  which  the  cosmopolitan  school  had  its  stronghold.  But 
Balakirev  fell  on  evil  days.  The  concerts  of  the  Free  School 
proved  financially  a  failure.  The  German  school  prevailed 
against  him  in  the  Musical  Society  and  the  composer  was 
compelled  to  accept  a  position  at  £8  a  month  on  the  Warsaw 
railway.  He  became  devoutly  religious,  fasted  regularly, 
and  in  addition  became  an  ardent  Slavophil.  Slavophil 
nationalism  combined  with  Orthodoxy  was  antipathetic  to 
Korsakov's  pantheistic  sentiment,  and  this  circumstance 
partly  accounted  for  the  break  between  the  two  composers. 
But  Rimsky-Korsakov  later  became  Balakirev's  assistant  in 
the  management  of  the  Court  Choir,  and  showed  in  his  Legend 
of  the  Sunken  City  of  Kitezh  how  deeply  he  could  enter  into 
the  spirit  of  Orthodox  mysticism. 

There  was  a  great  variety,  in  fact,  in  the  shades  and  forms 
of  the  nationalism  of  the  Bal&kirev  circle,  but  there  was  a 
Striking  unity  in  fundamental  tendencies.  What  an  astonish- 
ingly new  world  these  composeis  opened  up  after  all,  and  how 
endlessly  rich  it  was !  They  drew  on  Russian  history  and 
on  Russian  legend.  Musorgsky's  Boris  Godunov  treats  of  the 
Moscow  tsar  of  that  name,  and  his  Khovanshchina  of  Kho- 
vansky,  the  commander  of  the  sirieltsy  or  regular  troops, 
during  the  regency  of  the  Princess  Sophia,  the  half-sister  of 
Peter  the  Great,  that  is  to  say,  the  e  operas  deal  with  the 
troublous  times  at  the  beginning  and  the  end  of  the  seven- 
teenth century.  Borodin's  Prince  Igor  is  based  on  a  beautiful 
poem  of  the  Kiev  period,  and  is  full  of  the  romance  of  the 


252  Russia  of  the  Russians 

conflict  of  the  early  Russians  with  the  nomads  of  the  stepper 
Balakirev  did  not  compose  an  opera,  but  he  makes  skilful 
use  of  Russian  airs  in  his  pianoforte  and  orchestral  works, 
and  his  symphonic  poem,  Rus,  is  inspired  by  a  review  of  the 
whole  course  of  Russian  history,  while  in  another  symphonic 
poem,  In  Bohemia,  the  composer  gives  expression  to  his 
Slavophil  sympathies.  In  the  long  list  of  Rimsky-Korsakov's 
operas  there  is  only  one,  Mozart  and  Salieri,  based  on  a  poem 
of  Pushkin's,  which  does  not  deal  with  Russian  subjects, 
historical  or  legendary.  The  titles  of  his  operas  indicate 
their  character.  Sadko,  the  hero  of  the  most  famous  epic- 
song  of  the  Novgorod  cycle,  was  a  yoUng  merchant  who,  by 
his  singing,  charmed  the  daughter  of  the  King  of  the  Sea, 
and  set  the  King  himself  dancing  in  his  realm  under  the 
waters.  Pskovitianka  deals  with  the  life  in  the  republican 
city  of  Pskov  during  the  reign  of  Ivan  the  Terrible.  May 
Night  and  Christmas  Eve  are  fairy  tales  of  Gogol's.  The 
Snow  Maiden  and  Mlada  are  heroines  of  fairy-tales.  Into 
his  symphonic  works,  too,  Rimsky-Korsakov  constantly 
wove  Russian  folk-melody. 

It  is  curious  that  the  Oriental  spirit  in  Russian  legend  and 
even  independently  of  Russian  legend  seems  to  have  appealed 
to  the  composers  of  the  national  school  in  such  a  way  as  to 
suggest  a  close  affinity  between  the  Russian  and  the  Oriental 
world.  Musorgsky  introduced  a  Persian  dance  into  his 
Khovanshchina  without  the  slightest  apparent  necessity. 
Some  of  the  best  of  BaJ&kirev's  work  was  inspired  by  the 
Armenian,  Georgian,  and  Persian  music  he  heard  during  a 
visit  to  the  Caucasus,  and  he  describes  the  extraordinary 
impression  made  on  him  by  an  Eastern  air  heard  in  an  open 
field  in  the  Stavropol  government  in  the  silence  of  a  moonlight 
summer  night.  This  air  he  made  use  of  in  the  Andante  of 
his  First  Symphony.  Balakirev's  Islamei  is  a  pianoforte 
piece  of  a  vividly  Oriental  character,  inspired  by  the  music 
of  a  Kabardine  dance.  Oriental  themes  continually  recur  in 
the  works  of  Borodin  and  Rimsky-Korsakov. 


Music  253 

C£sar  Cui,  who  in  his  younger  days  shared  the  ideals  of 
the  Balakirev  group  and  fought  its  battles  in  the  press,  gradu- 
ally lost  touch  with  the  more  progressive 
Ctsar  Cui.      members  of  the  school,  failed  to  develop  his 
talent,  and  confined  himself  to  the  composi- 
tion of  melodramatic  operas  and  graceful  drawing-room  songs. 
Cui  is  a  general  of  engineers  and  a  professor  of  fortification, 
and  his  works  on  military  engineering  equal  his  musical  works 
in  bulk. 

In  certain  external  respects  much  of  the  work  of  some 
members  of  the  Balakirev  group  is  now  old-fashioned,  and, 
just  as  in  literature  there  are  not  a  few  writers  who  have 
attained  a  greater  perfection  of  style  than  Turgeniev  and 
Tolstoy,  so  there  are  composers  at  the  present  day  who  pro- 
duce work  that  is  more  complex  in  form  than  a  great  deal  of 
what  Musorgsky,  Borodin,  and  Rimsky-Korsakov  wrote. 
But  what  gives  the  work  of  the  masters  of  the  Russian  school 
a  permanent  and  unfading  beauty  is  that  original  force  of 
personality  they  display  in  their  magnificent  sweep  of  fan- 
tasy, and  their  sheer  native  strength  of  creative  impulse.  It 
is  the  rich  vitality  of  their  compositions  that  constitutes  one 
of  the  chief  motive  forces  in  modern  Russian  musical 
development. 

The  other  motive  force  is  contained  in  the  work  of  Chai- 
kovsky.    Chaikovsky  held  aloof  from  the  Balakirev  group. 

The  son  of  a  manager  of  ironworks  in  the 

Chaikovsky.     government  of  Viatka  he  served  for  two  years 

as  a  Government  official  after  completing  his 
studies  in  the  School  of  Law,  but  in  view  of  his  striking  musical 
gifts  he  was  induced  to  enter  the  newly-founded  St.  Peters- 
burg Conservatoire,  where  from  1862  to  1865  he  studied 
composition  under  the  director  Zaremba  and  Anton  Rubin- 
stein. His  connection  with  the  Conservatoire  effectually  re- 
moved him  from  the  sphere  of  influence  of  the  Balakirev 
circle,  which  was  bitterly  hostile  to  the  Conservatoire,  Rubin- 
stein and  the  Russian  Musical  Society.    Chaikovsky  came 


I 

/ 


254  Russia  of  the  Russians 

to  be  regarded  as  an  eclectic  in  musical  taste  as  opposed  to 
the  nationalist  school.  He  was  appointed  professor  of  the 
theory  of  music  in  the  Moscow  Conservatoire,  where  Nicholas 
Rubinstein  exerted  a  strong  influence  upon  him,  and  this 
chair  he  retained  until  1877,  when  the  generosity  of  a  bene- 
factress whom  he  never  met  enabled  him  to  devote  himself 
entirely  to  composition.  His  earlier  work  was  not  appreciated 
f«  by  the  public,  and  it  was  not  until  he  produced  in  1879  his 
I  opera,  Eugen  Onegin,  a  musical  setting  of  Pushkin's  best- 
/  known  poem,  that  he  gained  a  popular  success.  Eugen 
I  Onegin  is  to  this  day  the  favourite  opera  on  the  Russian 
f  stage.  In  the  later 'nineties  it  enjoyed  an  extraordinary  run 
of  popularity,  and  the  example  set  by  the  Emperor  who 
named  his  daughters  Olga  and  Tatiana  after  the  heroines  of 
the  poem  was  eagerly  followed  in  all  ranks  of  society.  Many 
lines  of  the  poem  are  household  words  and  airs  from  the 
opera  are  hummed  everywhere.  Another  opera  on  a  poem 
of  Pushkin's,  The  Queen  of  Spades,  which  Chaikovsky  wrote 
towards  the  end  of  his  life,  is  always  sure  of  a  favourable 
hearing.  His  other  operas,  Mazeppa  and  Charodieika,  are 
now  rarely  heard,  while  The  Little  Shoes,  the  subject  of  which 
is  drawn  from  a  story  by  Gogol,  has  only  recently  been 
revived.  The  Sleeping  Beauty,  The  Lake  of  Swans,  and 
the  Nut  Cracker  established  a  new  standard  in  Russian 
ballet-music.  His  songs  are  among  those  most  frequently  sung. 
But  it  is  as  a  composer  of  symphonies  that  Chaikovsky 
reached  the  height  of  his  fame,  both  in  Russia  and  abroad. 
His  was  a  strange  and  complex  nature,  and  he  had  a  profound 
and  constantly  saddening  sense  of  the  complexity  of  life  and 
the  inexorable  movement  of  fate.  In  his  personal  life  there 
were  many  elements  of  tragedy  which  led  to  attempts  at 
suicide.  In  striking  contrast  to  Rimsky-Korsakov,  who  de- 
lighted in  the  expression  of  an  all  overcoming,  all  pervading 
harmony,  Chaikovsky  was  pre-eminently  sensitive  to  the 
beauty  of  defeat  and  loss,  to  the  yearning  poetry  of  a  vain 
struggle  of  the  soul  with  over-ruling  powers.    And  the  beauty 


Music  255 

that  he  felt  most  keenly  he  expressed  most  powerfully  in  his 
symphonies,  especially  in  the  Sixth  Symphony,  the  Pathetique, 
composed  just  before  his  death. 

Chaikovsky  had  a  remarkable  power  of  developing  the 
suggestions  of  other  composers,  and  of  transfusing  a  variety 
of  alien  influences — those  of  French  and  Germart  schools, 
and  also  of  the  Russian  school — into  something  wholly  his 
own.  He  was  a  national  composer,  but  not  in  the  same  sense 
in  which  Musorgsky,  Borodin,  and  Rimsky-Korsakov  were. 
Though  he  frequently  used  national  themes  in  his  music, 
they  are  not  so  characteristic  as  that  element  of  personal 
suffering  which  is  the  fundamental  motive  of  his  work.  With 
the  members  of  the  Balakirev  group  he  was  never  intimate, 
but  when  Balakirev  was  compelled,  owing  to  the  intrigues 
of  his  enemies,  to  retire  in  1870  from  the  post  of  conductor 
of  the  concerts  of  the  Russian  Musical  Society,  Chaikovsky 
wrote  an  article  strongly  protesting  against  the  injustice. 
When  he  died  in  1893,  in  St.  Petersburg,  his  funeral  formed 
the  occasion  for  a  demonstration  of  popular  sympathy  such 
as  had  never  before  been  accorded  to  any  Russian  composer. 
His  memory  is  still  fresh.  A  brass  tablet  indicates  the  house 
in  Gogol  Street  in  St.  Petersburg  where  he  spent  the  last 
few  years  of  his  life,  and  there  are  many  middle-aged  musicians 
who  speak  of  him  not  as  Chaikovsky,  the  famous  composer, 
but  affectionately  as  Piotr  Iliich,  who  not  so  very  long  ago 
was  conducting  his  own  symphonies  in  that  splendid  Hall  of 
the  Nobles'  Assembly  which  has  witnessed  so  many  of  the 
triumphs  and  the  defeats  of  Russian  music.  Russian 
criticism  has  not  yet  arrived  at  a  settled  estimate  of 
the  value  of  Chaikovsky's  work.  Some  ardent  supporters  of 
living  composers  are  impatient  that  the  public  should  still 
be  satisfied  with  his  operas  and  symphonies,  though,  as  a 
matter  of  fact,  the  public  has  grown  restless  and  curious  of 
new  forms  and  combinations  of  sound,  and  there  are  many 
signs  that,  for  the  present,  at  any  rate,  Chaikovsky's  popu- 
larity is  on  the  wane.    On  the  other  hand,  some  of  the  most 


256  Russia  of  the  Russians 

independent  and  penetrating  critics  set  the  intrinsic  value  of 
Chaikovsky's  music  very  high.  They  declare  that  as  a  force 
in  Russian  musical  evolution  he  must  be  placed  on  a  level 
with  Glinka,  and  that  no  Russian  artist,  whether  he  be 
musician,  painter,  or  poet,  with  the  one  exception  of  Dos- 
toievsky, has  such  a  profound  sense  as  he  of  the  mysteries 
of  the  inner  life,  and  that  his  hopeless  yearning  to  solve  the 
inexorable  tragedy  of  life  by  the  power  of  love  is  distinctly 
Slavonic.  They  object  to  the  assertion  that  Chaikovsky  is 
eclectic  as  opposed  to  the  nationalist  school,  and  affirm  that 
he  is  as  thoroughly  national  as  Glinka  and  Borodin,  though 
he  expresses  another  side  of  the  national  character.  The 
judgment  of  the  Germanic  countries  and  of  England  seems 
to  be  more  decisive  on  this  point  than  that  of  his  own  country- 
men. There,  at  any  rate,  Chaikovsky  is  recognised  as  a  most 
distinctively  Russian  composer. 

The  "  New  Russian  School  "  and  Chaikovsky  represent 
the  immediate  past.    What  of  the  present  ?     The  present  is 

very  rich  and  full  of  promise.    The  impulse 
^^Outil111^^*1     to  development  given  by  the  composers  of 

the  past  generation  is  operating  with  great 
intensity.  Russia  has  taken  her  place  in  the  foremost  ranks 
of  musical  progress.  She  is  no  longer  a  mere  recipient  of 
foreign  influences.  In  music  as  in  literature  she  is  able  to 
exert  influence  in  her  turn,  and  the  unmistakable  signs  of  her 
influence  are  visible  in  the  work  of  modern  French  com- 
posers. Musical  life  in  Russia  is  a  flowing  tide.  The  taste 
of  the  public  is  being  gradually  refined  by  first-class  concerts. 
The  Conservatoires  of  St.  Petersburg  and  Moscow,  the  schools 
of  the  Russian  Musical  Society,  and  many  other  institutions 
haye  widely  disseminated  a  knowledge  of  the  theory  and  prac- 
tice of  music,  and  new  training-schools  are  constantly  being 
opened.  The  number  of  composers  is  steadily  growing,  and 
musical  publishers  issue  an  endless  stream  of  new  works,  a  sur- 
prisingly large  proportion  of  which  show  vigour  and  originality. 
Many  of  the  younger  composers  are  boldly  displaying  fresh 


Music  257 

musical  resources,  and  the  outlook  of  Russian  music  at  the 
present  moment  seems  exceedingly  hopeful  in  every  respect. 

There  are  several  living  composers  who  form  a  link  between 
the  older  and  the  newer  schools.  In  St.  Petersburg  Alexander 
Konstantinovich  Glazunov  and  Anatoly  Konstantinovich 
Liadov  were  both  pupils  and  intimate  associates  of  Rimsky- 
Korsakov.  The  former,  who  is  now  director  of  the  St.  Peters- 
burg Conservatoire,  wrote  his  first  symphony  in  1881  at  the 
age  of  sixteen,  and  his  early  work  secured  for  him  from  the 
musicians  of  the  Rimsky-Korsakov  group  the  nickname  of 
"  The  Little  Glinka."  Glazunov  has  written  eight  symphonies, 
a  number  of  symphonic  poems  and  scenes,  and  several  ballets, 
of  which  Raymonda  is  considered  the  best.  There  are  many 
traces  in  his  work  of  the  influence  of  the  national  school,  but 
he  is  not  so  distinctively  Russian  as  his  predecessors.  He 
lacks  profundity  of  psychological  analysis,  but  his  command 
of  musical  form  and  the  strength  and  impressiveness  of  his 
symphonies  give  him  a  high  rank  among  Russian  composers, 
while  his  popularity  is  frequently  attested  in  the  concerts  he 
conducts  in  St.  Petersburg  and  Moscow. 

Anatoly  Liadov,  a  professor  in  the  St.  Petersburg  Conser- 
vatoire, is  the  author  of  a  number  of  pianoforte  works  and  of 
some  charming  miniature  symphonic  poems,  Baba  Yaga,  The 
Magic  Lake,  and  Kikitnora,  in  which  the  Russian  element  is 
very  strong.  Liadov  is  reproached  by  his  friends  for  his 
dilatoriness  in  production,  but  what  he  does  write  is  elabor- 
ately chiselled  and  polished  to  a  nice  degree  of  perfection. 

The  nationalist  tradition,  which  for  some  years  suffered  an 
eclipse,  has  recently  been  revived  with  great  success  in  the  work 
of  a  talented  young  St.  Petersburg  composer,  Igor  Stravinsky, 
who  in  his  fairy-tale  ballet,  The  Fire  Bird,  has  shown  himself 
to  be  a  direct  successor  of  Rimsky-Korsakov,  and  in  his 
Petrushka  (Punch  and  Judy  Show)  has  with  rare  vigour  and 
colour  given  a  musical  presentation  of  the  life  of  the  street. 

In  Moscow  the  influence  of  the  Rubinstein-Chaikovsky 
tradition  lingers.    Anton  Arensky  who,  before  his  premature 


258  Russia  of  the  Russians 

death  in  1906,  was  first  a  professor  in  the  Moscow  Conserva- 
toire and  later  the  leader  of  the  choir  of  the  Court  Chapel, 
was  a  follower  of  Chaikovsky  and  displayed  in  his  music  no 
marked  individuality  of  his  own.  A  pupil  of  Chaikovsky's, 
Sergei  Ivanovich  Taneiev,  exerted  over  the  younger  musicians 
in  Moscow  an  influence  comparable  in  degree  with  that 
exerted  by  Rimsky-Korsakov  in  St.  Petersburg,  but  his  work 
is  devoid  of  any  traces  of  the  influence  of  Russian  folk-music 
and  lacks  colour  and  charm. 

At  the  present  moment  Moscow  is  the  scene  of  a  very 
interesting  and  complex  musical  movement.    There  is  a  group 

of  composers  ranging  in  age  from  thirty  to  a 

Mu^caTcentre    **t**e  un(*er  ^Y  w^°  ^ave  produced  a  great 

deal  of  work  of  high  quality  and  of  very 

varied  interest.  This  group  cannot  be  said  to  constitute  a 
school.  Its  members  profess  no  common  musical  creed,  and 
it  is  only  in  virtue  of  what  they  are  not  that  they  can  be  placed 
under  a  single  category.  They  are  not  nationalists  in  the 
sense  in  which  the  word  was  understood  by  the  Borodin  and 
Rimsky-Korsakov  school.  And  it  is  all  to  the  good  that 
they  have  freed  themselves  from  the  bonds  of  an  obligatory 
nationalism,  since  nationalism  is  a  source  of  inspiration  only 
when  it  is  original,  real,  and  personal,  when,  as  was  the  case 
with  Borodin,  Musorgsky,  and  Rimsky-Korsakov,  the  char- 
acter of  the  composer  is  vitally  connected  with  the  elemental 
forces  of  the  nation.  Nationalism  as  a  mode,  a  mere  imitative 
nationalism  is  fatal  to  true  art,  as  the  numerous  efforts  of 
mediocrities  have  demonstrated  to  weariness. 

The  chief  of  the  Moscow  composers  are  Grechaninov, 
Rahmaninov,  Vasilenko,  Metner,  and  Skriabin.  Grechaninov 
(born  in  1874)  has  written  a  great  deal  of  vocal  and  instru- 
mental music  that  has  attained  considerable  popularity,  and 
his  songs  in  particular,  among  which  are  adaptations  of 
Scottish  airs,  set  to  versions  of  Burns'  poems,  are  widely 
known.  Grechaninov  has  also  won  distinction  as  a  composer 
of  ecclesiastical  music. 


Music  259 

Sergei  Rahmaninov  (bom  in  1873)  studied  at  the  Moscow 
Conservatoire  under  Taneiev  and  Arensky,  and  in  a  number 
of  pianoforte  pieces  and  orchestral  works  he  has  upheld  with 
sobriety,  earnestness,  and  power,  added  to  a  highly-developed 
technique,  the  Chaikovsky  tradition.  He  is  probably  the 
most  popular  of  living  Russian  composers. 

Sergei  Vasilenko  (born  in  1872),  now  professor  of  instru- 
mentation and  orchestration  in  the  Moscow  Conservatoire, 
is  an  original  and  interesting  composer  who  has  already 
passed  through  several  phases  of  development  from  absorp- 
tion in  the  religious  mysticism  of  the  Russian  people,  ex- 
pressed in  his  Legend  of  the  City  of  Kitezh,  and  his  Epic  Poem, 
to  an  eager  assimilation  of  the  influences  of  the  latest  school 
of  Russian  poetry  culminating  in  the  pantheistic  optimism 
of  his  orchestral  suite  Au  Soleil. 

Nicholas  Metner,  a  writer  of  pianoforte  music  and  songs, 
stands  wholly  apart  from  other  contemporary  composers. 

He  shows  no  trace  of  Russian  influences  and 

Metner*  *s  severety  classical  in  his  forms.  His  work 
is  impressive,  for  one  thing,  on  account  of  its 
high  technical  finish,  and  it  has  aroused  considerable  dis- 
cussion, some  critics  accusing  the  composer  of  coldness  and 
lack  of  feeling,  while  others  declare  that  his  music,  for  all  its 
severity  of  outline,  affects  them  in  that  profound  and  inex- 
pressible manner  which  is  characteristic  of  the  highest  art. 
Metner  is  a  pianist  of  great  distinction,  and  in  several  concerts 
in  St.  Petersburg  and  Moscow  he  has  given  effective 
interpretations  of  his  own  work. 

By  far  the  most  interesting  and  most  hotly-discussed  of 
contemporary    Russian   composers   is,    however,    Alexander 

Skriabin,  who  was  born  in  1871  and  studied 

Skriabin.       under  Taneiev  and  Safonov  in  the  Moscow 

Conservatoire.      Skriabin   has   written   over 

sixty  orchestral  and  pianoforte  works  which,  taken  together, 

form   a  remarkable  record  of  a  passionate  search  for  new 

musical  forms  to  express  the  finest  shades  of  blended  religious 


260  Russia  of  the  Russians 

and  artistic  emotion.  The  strangeness  of  Skriabin's  work 
repels  the  many,  while  it  has  attracted  to  him  a  small  band 
of  ardent  and  devoted  admirers.  And  the  many  admit  the 
haunting,  elusive  beauty  of  much  of  his  work  even  while  the 
novelty  of  its  forms  irritates  and  baffles  them  and  arouses 
the  most  violent  controversy.  It  is  to  Skriabin's  advantage 
that  the  upheaval  of  the  last  few  years  has  largely  broken 
down  that  rigid  conservatism  in  matters  of  art  which  made 
the  general  public  on  principle  hostile  to  innovations  in 
painting,  literature,  and  music.  The  most  ordinary  man  has 
experienced  during  this  period  of  political  and  social  unrest 
a  range  of  emotions  of  which  under  normal  conditions  he  would 
never  have  imagined  himself  capable,  and  he  is  therefore 
disposed  to  be  more  tolerant  than  formerly  to  the  expression 
of  emotion  transcending  his  own  experience  in  forms  to  which 
he  is  not  accustomed. 

Skriabin  was  profoundly  influenced  by  Chopin  and  Liszt, 
and  also  by  Wagner.  His  admirers,  indeed,  place  Skriabin 
and  Wagner  on  a  pinnacle  apart  as  the  only  two  musicians 
for  whom  life,  musical  creation,  and  religion  constitute  an 
inseparable  whole.  Art  as  religion  and  religion  as  some- 
thing involving  the  conception  of  art,  this,  so  these  admirers 
declare,  is  the  fundamental  idea  of  Skriabin's  work,  and  his 
compositions  are  a  succession  of  attempts  to  express  this 
idea  in  forms  which  grew  in  power  and  impressiveness  in  the 
measure  that  the  author's  perception  of  the  idea  became 
clearer  and  more  profound.  He  is  more  than  a  musician. 
He  aims  at  reuniting  the  arts  which,  originally  blended  in 
one  whole  in  the  celebration  of  ancient  religious  rites,  have 
separated,  each  taking  its  own  separate  course  of  development, 
elaborating  details,  working  out  its  own  perfection,  and  are 
now  ripe  for  a  fresh  synthesis,  as  Wagner  foresaw.  For  Skriabin 
all  art  is  a  mystical  form  of  activity  aiming  at  causing  that 
ecstasy  which  means  the  attainment  of  the  full  light  of  know- 
ledge on  the  highest  planes  of  nature.  His  first  symphony, 
as  his  interpreter  Leonid  Sabaneiev  points  out,  is  a  hymn  to 


ALEXANDER    SKRIABIN 


Music  261 

art  as  religion ;  his  third  symphony,  The  Divine  Poem,  ex- 
presses the  liberation  of  the  spirit  from  fetters,  the  self- 
affirmation  of  personality ;  and  his  Poem  of  Ecstasy,  the  joy 
of  untrammelled  action,  the  creative  ecstasy.  This  creative 
ecstasy  arises  from  the  artist's  realisation  that  he  himself 
fashions  the  life  of  his  spirit,  and  that  in  incessant,  creative 
play,  in  unending  movement  towards  attainment  unattained, 
the  spirit  lives. 

In  Prometheus,  the  Poem  of  Fire,  an  astonishing  symphony 
of  ecstatic  creative  energy,  Skriabin  has  reached  for  the  pre- 
sent the  highest  point  of  his  development,  but  he  is  understood 
to  be  engaged  on  the  composition  of  a  Mystery  in  which  his 
religious  ideas  shall  find  their  most  complete  expression. 

This  is  not  the  place  to  enter  upon  a  detailed  examination 
of  Skriabin's  work,  but  enough  has  been  said  to  indicate  the 
wholly  novel  character,  the  extraordinary  boldness  of  his 
musical  conceptions.  To  give  adequate  musical  expression 
to  such  a  far-reaching  philosophy  obviously  demands  a  fer- 
tility of  resource  that  only  a  very  exceptional  composer  can 
have  at  his  command.  What  makes  Skriabin  so  interesting 
is  that  his  philosophy  is  not  a  mere  product  of  reflection. 
It  has  been  developed  in  perpetual  association  with  its  musical 
expression.  It  has  been  thought  out  in  music.  But  the 
effort  to  think  out  such  thought  in  music  has  led  to  a  series 
of  interesting  discoveries,  to  an  opening  of  new  ways  in  com- 
position, to  the  evolution  of  new  harmonies,  which  are  be- 
lieved to  arouse  a  peculiarly  mystical  vibration.  All  this  leads 
to  a  greatly  increased  complexity  of.  musical  technique,  and 
seems,  in  the  opinion  of  Skriabin's  interpreter,  to  foreshadow 
a  revolution  leading  to  the  supersession  of  the  scale  at  present 
in  use  by  one  much  more  finely  subdivided  and  far  more 
capable  of  expressing  the  faintest  nuances  of  spiritual  emotion. 

In  his  Prometheus  Skriabin  has  taken  a  step  towards  the 
reunion  of  the  arts  by  availing  himself  of  his  sensations  of  a 
definite  correspondence  between  sounds  and  colours,  and 
associating  with  his  musical  symphony  a  symphony  of  colours. 


262  Russia  of  the  Russians 

So  far,  however,  the  technical  means  for  producing  the  sym- 
phony of  colours  in  the  concert-hall  have  not  been  discovered, 
arid  all  that  is  known  of  it  is  derived  from  the  reports  of 
enthusiastic  friends  who  have  experienced  the  combined 
effects  of  the  parallel  symphonies  in  the  privacy  of  the  com- 
poser's  own  rooms.  The  production  of  the  musical  symphony, 
Prometheus,  in  Russia  and  abroad  has  had  the  result  of  greatly 
perplexing  both  critics  and  public,  but  there  is  a  strong  dis- 
position to  admit  that,  in  spite  of  an  obvious  lack  of  unity, 
the  work  is  very  possibly  that  of  a  genius  opening  up  a  world 
unknown.  All  Skriabin's  admirers  are  eagerly  looking  for- 
ward to  the  completion  of  that  Mystery,  in  which  the  sug- 
gestions contained  in  his  earlier  works  shall  blossom  out  into 
fullest  expression. 

It  remains  to  give  some  account  of  the  various  aspects  of 
everyday  musical  life  in   Russia  at   the  present   moment. 

Musical  education  is  still  largely  the  monopoly 

i~?il!?iSL       of  the  official  Conservatoires  in  St.  Peters- 

lnstruction.  . 

burg  and  Moscow,  in  respect  of  which  the 
musical  schools  of  the  Russian  Musical  Society  in  a  large 
number  of  towns  stand  as  secondary  schools  to  the  Univer- 
sities. When  the  St.  Petersburg  Conservatoire  was  founded, 
over  fifty  years  ago,  its  objects  were  hardly  understood.  A 
lady  who  wished  to  enter  her  daughter  as  a  pupil  expressed 
to  Anton  Rubinstein  the  hope  that  special  care  would  be 
taken  that  pupils  should  keep  up  their  knowledge  of  foreign 
languages,  and  was  amazed  to  hear  that  the  language  of  in- 
struction would  be  Russian.  But  though  Russian  was  the 
language  of  instruction  the  spirit  that  governed  the  Conser- 
vatoire was  for  a  long  time  German.  This  institution  was, 
in  fact,  the  stronghold  of  those  German  tendencies  in  music 
against  which  Baldkirev  and  his  associates  carried  on  such  a 
vigorous  campaign.  The  German  spirit,  added  to  the  official 
and  academic  spirit,  made  the  Conservatoire  at  one  period  the 
bugbear  of  the  progressive  composers,  but  in  the  end,  in  spite 
of  a  hundred  obvious  drawbacks,  both  the  Moscow  and  St. 


Music  263 

Petersburg  Conservatoires  have  by  the  work  they  have  done 
powerfully  vindicated  their  right  to  exist.  They  have  made 
obligatory  upon  all  composers  a  certain  very  high  standard 
of  musical  training,  and  the  fact  that  for  many  years  Rimsky- 
Korsakov  was  the  leading  spirit  of  the  St.  Petersburg  institu- 
tion and  Chaikovsky  of '  the  sister  institution  in  Moscow 
would  be  alone  sufficient  to  rebut  the  accusation  that  Con- 
servatoires impede  development.  It  is  true  that  the  pro- 
fessorial spirit  deadens  and  revolt  quickens,  but  after  all 
without  the  professional  spirit  revolt  itself  would  beat  the 
air  and  progress  would  lack  buoyancy.  It  is  an  admirable 
feature  of  the  Russian  Conservatoires  that  they  not  only 
impart  a  musical  training  but  try  to  give  their  students 
an  all-round  education. 

A  free  Popular  Conservatoire,  the  object  of  which  is  to  dis- 
seminate musical  knowledge  amongst  wider  circles  than  those 
reached  by  the  official  conservatoires,  and  to  avoid  the  dis- 
advantages of  official  routine,  has  been  established  in  Moscow 
by  private  enterprise  and  has  been  in  the  best  sense  successful. 
It  is  not  wealthy.  It  has  no  building  of  its  own,  and  its 
lecturers  hold  their  classes  in  various  hired  rooms,  in  private 
houses,  or  in  schools,  but  it  has  awakened  an  eager  interest 
in  musical  theory  among  many  busy  people,  including  working 
men,  who  are  unable  to  take  the  regular  courses  in  the 
old-established  institutions. 

The  Free  Musical  School  in  St.  Petersburg  founded  by 
Baldkirev  in  opposition  to  the  Conservatoire,  and  once  famous 
for  the  excellence  of  its  concerts  still  exists,  but  has  lost  its 
importance.  In  the  capitals  and  the  provincial  towns  there 
is  naturally  a  large  number  of  private  musical  schools. 

The  capitals  are   well  off  for  concerts.    The  traditional 

symphony  concerts  of  the  Russian  Musical  Society  have  be- 

_,   .  .       come  lifeless  and  uninteresting,  but  at  the 
Concert-giving.       ,        .    ..  .  .      ,°,  , 

subscription  concerts,  organised  by  prominent 

conductors    and    musicians,  a   very   wide  selection   of  the 

best  classical  and  modern  music,  including  many  new  works 

1 8 — (2400) 


264  Russia  of  the  Russians 

by  Russian  composers,  is  performed  every  winter  by  first- 
class  orchestras  assisted  by  various  executive  artists  of 
European  fame.  And  the  singers  and  the  violin  and  piano 
virtuosos  who  come  to  Russia  every  year  in  large  num- 
bers nowhere  attract  such  crowded  and  enthusiastic  houses 
as  in  St.  Petersburg  and  Moscow,  in  spite  of  the  expensive- 
ness  of  tickets.  The  ovations  in  a  Russian  concert-hall  are 
a  sight  to  see.  When  the  programme  has  been  played  or 
sung  through,  encores  given,  and  the  more  sober  part  of  the 
audience  is  gradually  dispersing,  the  enthusiasts,  mostly 
young  in  years,  press  forward  towards  the  stage  and  by  their 
whole-hearted  applause  create  such  a  liberating  atmosphere 
of  triumph  that  the  artist  is  involuntarily  infected  and  plays 
on  and  on  for  sheer  joy  of  unrestrained  playing.  Very  often 
this  informal  termination  is  the  best  part  of  the  concert. 
Concerts  are  constantly  given  in  provincial  towns  and  are 
everywhere  largely  attended.  One  misses  in  Russia  the 
open-air  brass  band  or  orchestral  concerts  that  are  the  rule 
in  Germany,  but  during  the  summer  months  orchestral  con- 
certs are  held  at  the  Pavlovsk  Station  in  the  neighbourhood 
of  St.  Petersburg,  and  at  the  various  health  resorts.  Military 
bands  are  not  utilised  to  anything  like  the  extent  they  might 
be  for  enlivening  the  few  public  squares  and  gardens  the 
capitals  possess. 

The  opera  is  cultivated  chiefly  in  the  Imperial  Theatres  in 
St.  Petersburg  and  Moscow,  which,  owing  to  their  great  re- 
sources, are  in  a  position  to  produce  operas 
The  Opera,      very  effectively.     A  great  variety  of  works 

is  staged,   from   The  Huguenots  to   Wagner 
and  the  latest  works  of  the  Russian  school.     Unfortunately 

ml 

the  Imperial  Opera  Houses  are  not  very  accessible  to  the 
general  public,  for  one  thing  because  of  the  high  prices  charged, 
and  for  another  because  the  subscription  system  has  created 
a  kind  of  close  corporation,  the  members  of  which  renew 
their  subscriptions  from  year  to  year  and  leave  their  tickets 
to  their  heirs  in  their  wills.     The  number  of  first -class  singers 


Music  265 

engaged  in  the  Imperial  Opera  is  much  smaller  than  might  be 
expected.  There  are,  in  fact,  only  two,  the  bass  Shaliapin,  and 
the  tenor  Sobinov.  Among  the  women  artists  there  are  none 
who  can  be  placed  on  a  level  with  these  two.  Feodor  Shaliapin 
was  born  in  1873,  and  is  the  son  of  a  peasant  in  the  Viatka 
government,  was  a  choir-boy  in  his  boyhood,  then  sang  in  the 
chorus  of  a  provincial  opera  troupe  in  Ufa,  and  at  the  age  of 
seventeen  made  his  debut  as  a  soloist.  He  roved  over  Russia 
with  a  Little  Russian  troupe,  found  in  Tiflis  a  benefactor 
who  gave  him  some  regular  lessons  in  singing,  and  then 
made  his  way  to  Moscow  and  finally  to  St.  Petersburg.  In 
Mamontov's  Opera  House  in  Moscow  he  secured  triumphs  in 
performances  of  a  number  of  operas  of  the  Russian  school, 
and  these  triumphs  were  repeated  in  St.  Petersburg,  and 
later  in  La  Scala  in  Milan,  and  in  America.  Shali&pin  has 
a  voice  of  marvellous  power  and  timbre,  which  of  recent  years 
has  unfortunately  shown  signs. of  wear  and  tear,  a  striking 
presence — he  is  considerably  over  six  feet  high — and  he  is 
an  actor  of  such  remarkable  skill  and  resource  that  it  is 
safe  to  assert  that  he  would  meet  with  equal  success  on  the 
dramatic  stage.  For  the  present  he  is  the  idol  of  the  con- 
cert-going and  opera-loving  public  throughout  Russia.  Leonid 
Sobinov  has  a  clear  bell-like  tenor,  and  is  at  his  best  in  the 
part  of  Lensky  in  Eugen  Onegin. 

In  the  Imperial  Opera  in  St.  Petersburg  and  Moscow  two 
evenings  a  week  during  the  season  are  devoted  to  the  ballet, 
a  form  of  entertainment  the  popularity  of  which  in  Russia 
has  only  during  the  last  few  years  become  intelligible  in 
England,  thanks  to  the  performances  of  Russian  dancers  in  J 
London.  At  a  time  when  the  ballet  had  become  obsolete  in 
Europe  it  was  artificially  maintained  in  Russia,  and  the  best 
traditions  of  the  earlier  period  of  ballet-dancing  were  guarded 
at  the  Imperial  expense  during  a  period  when  the  great  pro- 
portion of  the  Russian  public  remained  entirely  indifferent 
to  the  art.  In  the  'nineties  of  the  last  century  the  ballet 
attracted  the  attention  of  leading  musicians  and  artists,  the 


l 


266  Russia  of  the  Russians 

possibilities  of  expression  contained  in  ballet-dancing  were 
discussed,  and  some  of  the  best  musicians,  including  Chaikov- 
sky  and  Glazunov,  composed  ballet  music  while  many  talented 
painters  were  engaged  as  decorators.  The  new  conception 
of  dancing  as  an  art,  or  rather  the  revival  of  classical  con- 
ceptions in  the  person  of  ^sj^gra^tincatn,  whose  performances 
are  highly  appreciated  in  St.  Petersburg,  exercised  a  marked 
influence  on  the  Imperial  Ballet,  and  now  the  routine  of  that 
ancient  tradition  which  Marius  Petitpas  upheld  for  so  many 
years  with  such  firmness  and  dignity  has  given  place,  under 
the  enthusiastic  guidance  of  M.  Fokin,  to  an  eager  effort  to 
test  all  the  resources  of  expression  contained  in  bodily  move- 
ment associated  with  music.  Such  systems  of  training  in 
rhythmical  gymnastics  as  that  of  Jaques  Dalcroze  have  also 
had  an  influence.  The  element  of  acrobatics  in  the  ballet 
is  being  thrust  into  the  background  by  the  growing  tendency 
to  emphasise  rhythmical  expressiveness,  just  as  the  florid 
arias  of  Italian  opera  are  being  superseded  by  music  adjusted 
to  the  necessities  of  expression  and  not  subordinated  to  the 
display  of  technique.  The  revival  of  interest  in  the  ballet 
in  Western  Europe  has  stimulated  the  revival  in  Russia,  and 
Russians  have  begun  to  look  on  such  dancers  as  Pavlova 
and  Nizhinsky  with  new  and  wondering  eyes. 
The  operatic  demands  of  a  broader  public  in  St.  Peters- 
,  burg  are  provided  for  in  the  People's  Palace  of  the  Emperor 
i  Nicholas  II,  where  operatic  and  dramatic  performances  of 
very  fair  quality  are  given  at  exceedingly  moderate  prices. 
IAn  entrance  fee  of  twopence-halfpenny  gives  visitors  the 
I  right  to  wander  over  the  grounds,  to  look  at  side-shows,  and 
I  to  stand  in  the  large  hall  in  which  the  chief  performances 
are  given.  A  few  pence  extra,  gives  the  right  to  a  seat,  and 
p.  seat  in  the  front  row  of  the  stalls  does  not  cost  more  than 
two  or  three  shillings  on  ordinary  occasions.  The  People's 
Palace  is  frequented,  especially  on  Sundays  and  holidays,  by 
crowds  of  working  people,  artisans,  and  soldiers  who  are 
given  the  opportunity  of  becoming  acquainted  with  a  great 


M.   SOBINOV 


m&m 


Music  v      267 

variety  of  standard  operas  both  Russian  and  foreign.  In 
connection  with  the  People's  Palace  an  immense  theatre, 
capable  of  seating  three  thousand  persons,  has  recently  been 
erected,  and  the  performances  given  here  are  of  a  better 
quality  and  the  price  of  tickets  higher  than  in  the  older 
hall. 

The  musical  development  of  Russia  is  more  than  keeping 
pace  with  the  general  development  of  the  country.  It  is 
strongly  affected,  it  is  true,  by  prevailing  political  and  social 
forces,  and  the  literary  tendencies  of  the  moment  are  very 
clearly  and  faithfully  reflected  in  music.  The  nationalist 
movement  in  music  ran  parallel  with  the  populist  movement 
in  literature,  and  a  similar  movement  in  painting,  and  the 
modernist  movement  in  literature  and  in  painting  is  closely 
associated  with  certain  recent  tendencies  in  music.  But 
music  from  its  very  nature  is  freer  than  the  other  arts,  is  not 
subject  in  the  same  degree  as  they  are  to  the  social  conditions 
prevailing  at  a  given  moment.  The  increasing  popularisa- 
tion of  music  goes  hand  in  hand  with  economic  progress,  but 
popularisation  does  not  dictate  the  line  of  development  which 
music  is  to  take.  It  only  multiplies  indefinitely  the  oppor- 
tunities for  the  display  of  that  free  creative  faculty  which 
has  been  exercised  with  such  striking  effect  during  the  last 
fifty  years  of  comparatively  limited  opportunity.  And  from 
this  point  of  view  the  prospects  of  musical  development  in 
this  immense  Empire  are  hopeful  in  the  highest  degree.  It 
is  no  wonder  that  while,  on  the  one  hand,  composers  like 
Skriabin  are  refining  to  the  utmost  the  means  of  musical 
expression,  there  are  others  who  dream  of  the  coming  of  a 
great  national  art  in  which  the  whole  people  shall  be  actively 
participant,  and  the  crown  and  pinnacle  of  which  shall  be  a 
perfected  music. 


CHAPTER    VIII 

THE  THEATRE 

The  Russian  theatre  represents  various  forms  of  the  Western 
theatre  with  something  of  its  own  besides.    The  conventional 

theatre  and    the   progressive  theatre,  crude 
The  Theatre,    melodrama  and  the  finest  symbolism  are  all 

here.  There  is  dull  aping  of  Western  fashions, 
and  there  is  also  an  extraordinary  acute  sense  of  the  theatre 
as  a  problem.  The  problem  is  stated  and  faced  with 
characteristic  Russian  frankness  and  thoroughness.  The 
remotest  possibilities  of  dramatic  art  are  taken  into  con- 
sideration, including  the  possibility  that  the  theatre  in  its 
present  form  may  have  outlived  its  time  and  should  be 
superseded.  Western  plays  and  players  quickly  find  their 
way  to  Russia  and,  indeed,  translated  plays  constitute  the 
bulk  of  the  Russian  theatrical  repertoire.  All  kinds  of 
Western  innovations  are  eagerly  discussed  and  readily  adopted, 
and  at  the  same  time  in  various  odd  corners  in  the  capitals 
stale  and  obsolete  theatrical  forms  stubbornly  hold  their 
own.  Both  the  best  and  the  worst  sides  of  the  theatre  are 
to  be  found  in  Russia.  The  dullness  and  shallowness  of 
theatrical  routine  are  most  obviously  and  oppressingly  dull 
and  shallow.  But  over  against  this  is  the  openness  of  mind, 
the  keenness  of  intelligence,  the  energy  and  persistence  in 
inquiry  and  experiment  that  place  the  Russian  theatre  in 
the  vanguard  of  the  modern  theatrical  movement.  And 
the  progressive  spirit  is  steadily  gaining  ground  ;  theatrical 
conventionalism  is  losing  its  self-confidence,  is  beginning  to 
doubt  of  itself.  There  are  no  fixed  new  standards,  except 
that  things  must  be  done  as  well  and  intelligently  as  possible, 
and  the  old  standards  are  drifting  into  oblivion.  On  the 
whole  the  Russian  theatre  is  at  present  a  puzzling  institution, 
often  delightful,  often  disappointing,  with  flashes  of  brilliant 

268 


The  Theatre  269 

promise,  with  moments  of  unalloyed,  aesthetic  pleasure, 
with  a  great  deal  of  fragmentary  and  unsatisfactory  experi- 
menting, and  with  outbursts  of  passionate  utterance  alter- 
nating with  long  spells  of  the  silence  of  exhaustion  during  which 
a  slovenly  conventionalism  holds  sway.  The  Russians  as  a 
people  are  both  unusually  impulsive  and  unusually  intelligent 
and  critical.  They  are  capable  of  blind  enthusiasm  for  the 
theatre,  but  in  moments  of  self-criticism  they  are  ready  to 
trample  on  their  own  enthusiasm  and  to  insist  on  radical 
changes.  When  the  change  is  effected  there  is  fresh  enthusi- 
asm for  the  innovation,  then  fresh  criticism,  and  so  the 
theatre  moves  from  phase  to  phase.  Or  else  the  spectator 
grows  weary  of  the  perpetual  emotional  and  intellectual 
exercise  and  settles  either  into  complete  indifference  to  the 
theatre  or  to  placid  acceptance  of  convention.  Certain 
limited  groups  who  are  seriously  and  intensely  interested  in 
the  drama,  like  the  group  associated  with  the  Moscow  Art 
Theatre,  hold  the  balance  and  ensure  a  certain  steadiness  of 
theatrical  development. 

Like  most  other  things  in  Russia  the  theatre  is  centralised. 
Moscow  and  St.  Petersburg  take  the  lead  and  the  Russian 
theatres  in  provincial  towns  follow  at  a  great  distance.  In 
towns  with  a  non-Russian  population  like  Riga,  Reval,  Dorpat, 
Warsaw,  Vilna,  Tiflis,  Baku,  and  Kazan,  there  are  German, 
Lettish,  Esthonian,  Polish,  Lithuanian,  Jewish,  Georgian, 
Armenian,  and  Tartar  theatres,  that  take  independent  lines 
of  development,  and  there  are  little-Russian  companies  with 
their  centre  in  Kiev  that  enjoy  considerable  success  even  in 
the  Great  Russian  cities.  But  in  the  Russian  provincial 
towns  generally  there  are  no  manifestations  of  independent 
theatrical  initiative  like  the  repertoire  theatres  in  English 
provincial  towns  or  the  Meiningen  troupe  in  Germany. 
When  the  season  is  over  in  the  capitals  the  city  companies 
tour  the  provinces,  and  for  the  rest  of  the  year  second  or 
third-rate  provincial  companies  fill  the  boards  with  a 
considerable  show  of  success. 


270  Russia  of  the  Russians 

In  the  capitals  it  is  the  State  theatres,  the  Alexandra 
Theatre  in  St.  Petersburg,  and  the  Maly  Teatr  (Little  Theatre) 
in  Moscow,  that  occupy  the  central  position  as  institutions. 
They  are  commodious,  well-endowed,  are  less  dependent 
than  private  enterprises  on  the  whims  of  the  public,  and 
possess  those  sanctions  of  time,  custom,  and  inertia  which 
ensure  ao  air  of  general  well-being  and  make  for  continual 
prosperity.  There  is  a  pleasant  sense  of  antiquity  about 
them.  Both  the  Alexandra  Theatre  and  the  Maly  Teatr  are 
reminiscent  of  the  early  years  of  the  last  century,  of  the 
brilliant  dawn  of  Russian  literature,  of  Pushkin  and  his 
brother  poets,  and  of  the  critic  Bielinsky,  whose  delight  in 
the  theatre  was  unbounded.  The  past  glories  of  the  Russian 
theatre,  the  traditional  triumphs,  the  echoes  of  famous  names 
like  Semenova,  Asenkova  and  Streptova,  Karatyg'n  and 
Shchepkin — the  Russian  Mrs.  Siddonses  and  Garricks — are 
all  associated  with  the  Imperial  theatres.  Such  traditions 
have  a  certain  binding  force.  The  Imperial  theatres  may 
sink  into  sleepy  routine,  but  they  cannot  wholly  forget  their 
past  achievements,  their  accumulated  wealth  of  experience, 
their  technique.  Moreover,  time  has  established  between 
these  theatres  and  the  public  a  certain  mutual  understanding. 
The  public  knows  what  to  expect  and  the  theatres  know 
what  the  public  wants.  There  is  a  sort  of  fundamental  good- 
humour  in  the  State  companies,  an  unaffected  pleasure  in 
the  theatre  as  it  is,  in  playing  for  its  own  sake,  on  a  tradi- 
tional stage,  with  the  conventional  applause,  bows,  bou- 
quets, suppers,  newspaper  criticism,  and  all  the  rest  of  it. 
This  good-humour  born  of  use,  familiarity,  security,  and  the 
prospect  of  a  pension,  combined  with  sheer  pleasure  in  acting, 
communicates  itself  to  the  public.  Varlamov  and  Davydov, 
two  immensely  stout  old  comic  actors,  walk  out  on  to  the  stage 
of  the  Alexandra  Theatre  and  the  audience  at  once  prepares 
to  roar,  as  it  has  roared  a  hundred  times  before.  Varlamov 
raises  an  eyebrow  and  out  breaks  a  storm  of  uncontrollable 
laughter.     Madame  Savina  plays  a  widow's  part,  and  the 


The  Theatre  271 

audience  watches  her  with  an  affectionate  interest  in  which 
there  is  little  room  for  criticism.  It  is  the  part  she  is  bound 
by  usage  and  right  to  play.  She  has  become  a  part  of  the 
tradition  and  the  memory  of  the  older  spectators  drifts  back 
to  the  time  when  she  made  her  appearance  as  a  promising 
debutante  in  a  play  of  Turgeniev's,  to  the  great  delight  of  the 
author  himself  when,  in  the  late  'seventies,  he  returned  from 
abroad  to  St.  Petersburg  to  bask  for  a  little  while  in  the 
sunlight  of  his  own  established  fame. 

In  a  word,  the  Imperial  Theatre  in  St.  Petersburg  or  in 
Moscow  is  an  institution  and  draws  from  this  fact  its  strength 
and  its  pride.  It  has  established  for  itself  a  certain  standard 
of  efficiency,  and  has  schools  in  which  pupils  are  trained  up  \ 
to  this  standard.  There  is  a  complete  apparatus,  there  are 
well-tried  methods  of  producing  actors  and  actresses.  The 
whole  system  of  drill  has  been  well  worked  out.  Members 
of  the  Imperial  troupe  are  well  paid  and  well  cared  for,  and 
within  the  limits  established  by  tradition  there  is  considerable 
room  for  the  display  of.  histrionic  talent.  But  these 
limits  are  definite,  and  the  Imperial  theatres  would  not  be 
institutions  if  there  were  not  very  definite  limitations.  The 
very  weight  and  dignity  of  tradition  is  unfavourable  to  ex- 
periment. The  principle  that  only  the  attained  is  the  attain- 
able, and  that  limited  achievement  is  better  than  high  purpose 
unfulfilled  has  broad  scope  here.  And  the  result  is  at  once 
satisfactory  and  unsatisfactory.  The  plays  the  theatre  feels 
it  can  produce  it  produces  with  great  facility  and  efficiency. 
The  artists  play  well  together.  Every  actor  knows  his  part, 
and  knows  to  a  nicety  the  acoustic  properties  of  the  building. 
The  play  goes  with  swing  and  verve.  There  are  no  sudden 
halts,  no  jars,  no  awkward  pauses.  The  audience  laughs  at 
the  right  places,  is  worked  up  to  the  proper  state  of  anticipa- 
tion by  the  rapid  movement  of  the  drama,  is  appropriately 
moved  to  tears,  and  goes  away  with  a  pleasant  feeling  that 
an  emotional  circle  has  been  completed. 

This  happens  usually  when  the  Imperial  Theatre  produces 


272  Russia  of  the  Russians 

one  of  Ostrovsky's  plays.     Some  of  the  critics  are  now  saying 
that  the  Alexandra  Theatre  does  not  know  how  to  stage 

Ostrovsky.  Perhaps  they  are  right.    But  then 
Ostrovsky.      hardly  any  other  theatres  produce  Ostrovsky 

frequently,  and  none  of  them  make  a 
speciality  of  his  work  as  do  the  official  theatres.  One  is 
more  or  less  compelled  to  judge  Ostrovsky  by  the  Imperial 
stage  and  the  latter  by  Ostrovsky.  This  author,  who  flour- 
ished in  the  'sixties  and  was  a  friend  of  Turgeniev,  and  the  other 
famous  novelists  of  the  time,  is  the  one  Russian  playwright 
pure  and  simple.  Most  writers  have  made  experiments  in 
the  drama,  some  of  them  very  successful  experiments. 
Ostrovsky  alone  made  the  writing  of  dramas  his  vocation. 
He  was  of  merchant  origin,  and  the  subjects  of  his  plays  are 
drawn  mainly  from  the  life  of  the  merchant  class.  This  cir- 
cumstance was  a  very  fortunate  one  for  the  Russian  stage. 
The  merchant  class  is  bluff,  hearty,  and  original,  possesses 
a  wealth  of  curious  customs  and  odd  sayings  and.  what  is 
most  important  from  a  scenic  point  of  view,  presents  in  an 
unusually  vivid  and  concrete  form  the  relations  between 
character  and  environment,  the  play  of  impulse  within  the 
limits  of  very  stubborn  convention.  Merchant  life  in  Russia 
fifty  years  ago  presented  the  broad  features,  the  sharp  out- 
lines, the  clearly  marked  situations  that  make  plays  effective 
on  the  stage  and  Ostrovsky  had  a  very  keen  sense  of  the 
spectacular  side  of  things.  This  life  is  again  sufficiently  un- 
familiar to  be  picturesque  and  yet  not  so  remote  as  to  be 
unintelligible.  A  great  many  of  Ostrovsky's  plays  are  full 
of  a  rippling  and  genuine  humour,  not  in  the  least  forced,.as 
is  most  of  the  Russian  literary  humour  of  to-day,  but  as 
spontaneous  and  natural  as  the  proverbs  and  quaint  turns 
of  speech  which  sparkle  in  the  author's  dialogue. 

Ostrovsky  did  not  confine  himself  to  the  homes  of  the 
merchants.  In  the  seven  volumes  of  his  published  works 
there  are  many  dramas  that  deal  with  the  life  of  the  gentry. 
Only  it  is  not  the  polished  and  Westernised  gentry  of  the 


The  Theatre  273 

towns  that  he  describes,  but  the  old-fashioned  landed  pro- 
prietors who  retained  customs  as  characteristic  and  as  full 
of  colour  as  those  of  the  merchants.  All  Ostrovsky's  plays 
are  described  as  realistic,  which  means  simply  that  the  scenes 
are  taken  from  real  life  and  that  a  certain  photographic 
accuracy  is  observed  in  the  presentation  of  visible  objects. 
In  any  case,  realism  is  a  convenient  term  with  which  to 
designate  the  kind  of  drama  against  which  the  symbolists 
have  been  revolting  of  late  years.  But  the  realism  of  Ostrov- 
sky's work  is  not  so  obvious  and  insistent  now  that  the  scenes 
he  describes  have  been  removed  by  time  to  an  almost  romantic 
distance,  while  the  powerful  dramatic  element  remains  sharp 
and  clear.  A  great  deal  depends  upon  the  production  which 
may  be  stubbornly  realistic  or  tinged  with  -romanticism. 
The  Imperial  theatres  prefer  a  realism  that  is  not  quite  real, 
but  conventional,  a  kind  of  rough,  common-sense  realism 
that  gives  little  play  to  the  fancy  or  the  intellect  but  serves 
very  well  as  a  framework  for  average  histrionic  ability  and 
for  conventional  forms  of  acting.  In  such  a  presentation 
Ostrovsky  is  effective.  His  liveliness,  his  oddities,  his  delight 
in  idiomatic  repartee  are  strongly  emphasised.  A  sanguine 
temperament  prevails  in  the  Imperial  Troupe,  and  when  it 
produces  such  comedies  as  The  Busy  Corner,  or  Every  Wise 
Man  has  his  Follies,  it  does  so  with  great  gusto.  Ostrovsky 
is  probably  much  bigger  and  less  conventional  than  he  is 
made  to  appear  on  the  official  stage,  but  the  first  impression 
is  one  of  unusual  harmony  between  author  and  actors.  It 
is  true  that  the  decorations  lack  distinction  and  point  clearly 
to  a  period  of  art  or  rather  want  of  art  that  is  now  happily 
passing  away  in  Russia.  But  this  might  have  seemed  a 
minor  matter  as  far  as  Ostrovsky  was  concerned,  if  new  and 
higher  standards  of  decorative  art  had  not  been  set  up  by 
private  theatres,  and  if  the  management  of  the  Imperial 
theatres  itself  had  not,  in  a  number  of  productions,  made 
vigorous  efforts  to  overtake  the  times. 

For  during  the  last  few  years  the  Russian  theatre  has 


274  Russia  of  the  Russians 

undergone  a  transformation.  The  taste  of  the  public  is  chang- 
ing and  the  methods  that  are  still  dominant  in  the  Imperial 

Modern  theatres  are  beginning  to  pall.  Fortunately 
Dramatic       the  spirit  of  reform  is  at  work  on  the  official 

Taste.  stage.     The  management  now  includes  men 

of  culture  and  energy  who  are  doing  their  best  to  counteract 
the  inertia  of  tradition  and  to  use  the  abundant  material 
resources  of  the  Imperial  theatres  as  a  means  of  testing  the 
possibilities  of  new  resources  in  dramatic  art.  So  far  the 
opera  houses  have  benefited  from  this  new  tendency  more 
than  the  dramatic  theatres.  The  Imperial  opera  houses,  in 
fact,  took  the  lead  in  that  new  movement  which  by  attracting 
the  most  talented  artists  to  the  work  of  designing  theatrical 
decorations  has  led  during  the  last  few  years  to  such  dazzling 
effects.  The  dramatic  theatres  lag  far  behind,  but  they  too 
are  progressing.  The  Alexandra  Theatre  now  has  an  up-to- 
date  stage  manager  in  the  person  of  M.  Vsevelod  Meierhold, 
who  actively  participated  a  few  years  ago  in  the  modernist 
revolt.  Various  opinions  may  be  held  as  to  the  exact  artistic 
value  of  many  of  M.  Meierhold's  productions,  but  one  thing 
is  perfectly  clear.  He  is  the  enemy  of  dead  routine.  He 
will  have  nothing  to  do  with  the  old  way  of  simply  varying 
on  traditional  methods.  He  thinks  out  his  productions  down 
to  the  minutest  detail  and  experiments  with  a  genuine  passion 
for  perfection.  Moreover  he  is  alive  to  modern  problems, 
is  versed  in  the  most  recent  movements  in  painting  and 
literature  as  well  as  in  the  drama.  In  a  word,  he  takes  a 
prominent  place  among  those  reformers  who  insist  on  the 
subjection  of  the  theatre  to  the  standards  of  true  art.  But 
one  stage-manager,  even  when  he  is  supported  by  a  number 
of  broad-minded  men  like  Baron  Driesen,  the  editor  of  the 
Annual  of  the  Imperial  theatres  which  has  been  published 
since  1909,  and  leading  actors  like  M.  Hodotov,  cannot  effect 
radical  ^EKanges.  The  troupe  is  attached  to  the  old  methods 
and  does  not  adapt  itself  readily  to  the  new.  Changes  are 
only  gradually  making  their  way,  and  except  on  rare  occasions 


/ 


j 


The  Theatre  275 

the  Imperial  theatres  are  rather  dull  places  for  those  who 
have  acquired  a  taste  for  modern  drama. 

It  is  a  noteworthy  sign  of  change  that  the  repertoire  of 
these  theatres  has  recently  been  considerably  extended. 
Ostrovsky's  dramas,  together  with  translations  of  carefully 
chosen  French  and  German  plays,  formerly  had  a  monopoly 
of  the  official  stage.  Mr.  Bernard  Shaw's  Mrs.  Warren's 
Profession  was  produced  a  few  years  ago,  but  had  very  slight 
success,  the  general  verdict  being  that  the  problems  it  dealt 
with  were  exclusively  English  and  were  uninteresting  for 
Russia.  Modern  Russian  authors  of  note  were  coldly  treated 
by  the  Imperial  theatres.  Chehov's  play,  The  Seagull,  was 
produced  in  the  Alexandra  Theatre  in  1896,  but  the  troupe, 
with  the  exception  of  Madame  Kommisarzhevskaia  and  M. 
Davydov,  displayed  such  an  absolute  incapacity  to  enter 
into  the  spirit  of  the  play  that  the  production  was  a  complete 
failure  and  Chehov  fled  from  St.  Petersburg  in  despair.  In 
the  season  1912-13,  however,  the  works  of  modern  authors 
were  staged  with  considerable  success.  A  play  by  Sologub, 
Hostages  of  Life,  a  work  of  inferior  value  giving  evidence  of 
the  decline  of  the  author's  remarkable  powers  was  generously 
treated  by  the  management  and  admirably  staged.  Sologub's 
earlier  and  better  dramas  were  played  in  the  Kommisarzhev- 
skaia Theatre  at  a  time  when  they  were  banned  on  the  official 
stage,  and  the  present  apparent  victory  of  symbolism  in  the 
Imperial  Theatre  is  no  real  victory.  The  staging  of  a  play 
of  Andreiev's,  Professor  Starytsin,  marked  a  very  definite 
break  with  the  old  tradition  of  academic  exclusiveness. 

The  Imperial  theatres  can  still  point  with  pride  to  their 
veterans  Davydov  and  Varlamov  in  St.  Petersburg,  and  the 
actresses  Ermolova  and  Fedotova  in  Moscow.  None  of  the 
younger  actors  on  the  Imperial  stage  can  be  compared  with 
these.  There  was  one  brilliant  actress,  Vera  Kommisarzhev- 
skaia, who  made  her  appearance  in  the  Alexandra  Theatre 
in  the  later  'nineties,  but  the  prevailing  routine,  the  heavy 
formalism  oppressed  her,  and  in  the  midst  of  her  triumphs 


276  Russia  of  the  Russians 

she  left  the  official  stage  to  become  one  of  the  leaders  of  a 
new  movement.  This  movement,  which  is  of  the  greatest 
importance  for  the  Russian  stage,  and  the  effects  of  which 
have  been  felt  in  Western  Europe,  is  associated  in,  St. 
Petersburg  with  Kommisarzhevskaia's  name,  and  in  Moscow 
has  as  its  centre  the  Art  Theatre  of  Stanislavsky  and 
Nemirovich-Danchenko. 

Vera  Kommisarzhevskaia,  who  died  in  February,  1910,  at 

the  age  of  forty-five,  had  a  courageous  and  tragic  career. 

Vcra  She  was  the  one  actress  of  deep  and  original 

Kommisarz-  power  who  has  appeared  in  Russia  in  the  pre- 
hevskaia.  sent  generation,  but  her  talent  was  of  the 
restlessly  searching  kind  that  refuses  to  be  bound  down  by 
conventional  methods  and  is  constantly  endeavouring  to  find 
some  absolutely  perfect  means  of  expressing  an  ideal.  She 
was  a  remarkable  actress,  even  from  the  conventional  point 
of  view.  Her  diction  and  her  mimicry  were  admirable,  and 
her  whole  manner  of  impersonation  was  full  of  grace  and 
charm.  But  even  more  impressive  was  her  unceasing  effort 
to  conquer  for  her  art  some  spiritual  sphere  hitherto  un- 
attained.  She  had  in  her  the  perpetual  longing,  the  strange 
religious  craving  that  possessed  the  great  Russian  writers.  She 
was  an  unconquerable  idealist  and,  loving  her  art  passionately 
as  she  did,  she  denied  it  in  the  end  for  the  sake  of  an  ideal. 
She  chose  thorny  paths  and  met  with  failure  after  failure, 
yet,  though  death  came  on  her  suddenly  before  she  could 
see  a  gleam  of  success,  the  influence  of  her  personality  is  through 
the  very  strength  of  her  aspiration  incomparably  more  power- 
ful than  any  influence  that  could  have  been  secured  to  her 
by  conventional  triumphs  on  the  stage. 

Vera  Kommisarzhevskaia  was  the  daughter  of  a  singer, 
and  in  her  childhood  displayed  remarkable  dramatic  gifts. 
But  it  was  only  in  her  twenty-third  year,  after  an  unfortunate 
marriage,  that  she  began  to  study  for  the  stage  under  Davydov 
of  the  Alexandra  Theatre.  After  successful  appearances  in 
provincial  theatres,  more  especially  in  Vilna,  she  accepted  a 


The  Theatre  277 

position  in  the  Alexandra  Theatre  where  she  very  soon  be- 
came a  popular  favourite.  In  Ostrovsky's  plays,  The  Wild 
Girl  and  The  Bride  without  a  Dowry,  and  as  Gretchen  in 
Faust,  she  startled  and  delighted  the  St.  Petersburg  public 
by  her  careful  and  original  interpretations  of  familiar  parts. 
If  she  had  remained  in  the  Alexandra  Theatre  she  might 
have  looked  forward  to  securing  in  time  a  position  amongst 
the  serene  and  honoured  veterans.  But  the  -very  conception 
of  such  a  career  was  repugnant  to  her,  and  in  the  ponderous 
mechanism  of  the  Imperial  stage  she  found  nothing  to  cor- 
respond to  her  artistic  ideals.  In  1902  she  gave  up  her  posi- 
tion and  set  to  work  independently.  A  series  of  brilliantly 
successful  tours  in  the  provinces  provided  her  with  the  funds 
with  which  to  open  a  theatre  of  her  own  in  the  Passage  in 
St.  Petersburg.  The  two  years  (1904-06)  in  the  Passage 
Theatre  were  a  transitional  period  in  Vera  Kommisarzhev- 
skaia's  career.  She  still  played  the  parts  in  Ostrovsky's 
plays  which  she  had  long  since  mentally  outgrown,  but  in 
addition  she  produced  Ibsen's  The  Master  Builder  and  The 
Dolls'  House,  giving  in  the  latter,  play  a  most  charmingly 
capricious  Nora,  plays  by  the  Austrian  authors  Schnitzler 
and  Hermann  Bahr,  and  two  plays  by  Gorky,  In  Summer 
Villas  and  The  Children  of  the  Sun.  The  Passage  Theatre 
was  a  very  good  private  theatre  and  Kommisarzhevskaia 
played  well  in  it,  but  it  was  not  by  any  means  the  ideal  theatre 
of  which  she  dreamed.  It  practically  amounted  to  an  attempt 
to  be  modern  to  the  degree  in  which  an  average  German 
theatre  is  modern,  and  also  to  do  justice  to  contemporary 
Russian  authors.     It  was  a  theatre  of  compromise. 

In  1906  Kommisarzhevskaia  took  a  further  step  forward. 
She  rented  a  theatre  in  the  Offitserskaia  Street  in  St.  Peters- 
burg, and  here  she  began  a  series  of  deliberate  experiments, 
sparing  no  time,  money,  or  labour  in  the  effort  to  establish 
an  ideal  theatre.  No  artistic  enterprise  in  St.  Petersburg 
in  recent  years  has  aroused  keener  interest  or  more  violent 
discussion  than  this  little  theatre  with  the  white  columns  on 


278  Russia  of  the  Russians 

the  Offitserskaia.  It  was  opened  during  a  period  of  social 
and  political  excitement,  at  the  moment  of  a  sudden  revival 
of  interest  in  questions  of  art.  And  the  new  theatre  at  once 
associated  itself  closely  with  the  latest  -movements  in  art  and 
literature.  The  younger  painters  and  poets  flocked  around 
it.  Its  first  nights  were  among  the  most  important  events 
in  the  artistic  world.  Those  were  the  days  when  it  seemed  as 
though  new  horizons  were  opening  up  for  all  forms  of  art, 
when  everything  seemed  possible. 

In  her  effort  to  perfect  a  symbolical  drama  Kommisarzhev- 
skaia  was  aided  at  first  by  M.  Meierhold  as  stage-manager. 
The  methods  of  the  new  theatre  were  violently  attacked  by 
most  of  the  critics.  Acting,  staging,  and  decoration  were  all 
condemned.  It  was  complained  that  the  actors  were  made 
subject  to  a  rigid  scheme,  that  they  were  deprived  of  their 
individuality,  and  that  the  stage-manager  exercised  a  tyran- 
nical authority.  These  complaints  were  not  wholly  unjusti- 
fied. The  plays  produced  at  the  new  theatre  often  resembled 
a  series  of  conventionalised  living  pictures  in  which  the  pos- 
tures of  the  players  were  most  skilfully  combined  with  quaint 
and  suggestive  backgrounds.  The  dialogue  was  reduced  to 
a  secondary  position,  it  was  made  colourless,  the  players  were 
compelled  to  speak  their  parts  in  a  strained,  monotonous 
voice  which  was  a  mere  echo  of  their  normal  utterance ;  all 
the  spoken  element  in  the  drama  became,  in  fact,  a  mere 
undertone  of  the  changing  moods  which  were  more  vividly 
expressed  by  the  striking  combinations  of  colour  devised  by 
talented  young  artists  in  costumes  and  scenery,  and  by  the 
sharply-outiined  gestures  and  groupings  to  which  M.  Meier- 
hold  attributed  such  importance.  This  method  proved  very 
successful  in  two  productions.  In  Alexander  Blok's  pretty 
Pulcinello  it  was  in  entire  harmony  with  the  spirit  of  the 
play  which  is  a  Punch  and  Judy  show  turned  into  dreamy 
allegory.  In  Maeterlinck's  Sister  Beatrice  again  the  method  was 
so  applied  as  to  maintain  that  atmosphere  of  half-utterance, 
of  pregnant  silences  that  is  so  characteristic  of  Maeterlinck, 


_J 


VERA    KOMMISSARZHEVSKAIA 


The  Theatre  279 

while  enabling  Madame  Kommisarzhevskaia  to  reveal  to 
the  full  her  faculty  for  the  finer  forms  of  spiritual  expression. 
But  in  other  productions  the  method  had  an  oppressive 
effect,  and  in  the  staging  of  Maeterlinck's  Pelleas  and  Melisande 
the  players  were  so  hemmed  in,  so  completely  stifled  by  the 
excessive  narrowing  of  the  stage  and  the  elaborateness  of  the 
scenery,  that  Madame  Kommisarzhevskaia  decided  that  the 
path  chosen  was  a  false  one.  M.  Meierhold,  she  saw,  was 
doing  his  best  to  reduce  the  stage  with  its  living  actors  to  a 
theatre  of  marionettes,  was,  in  fact,  trying  to  realise 
with  the  existing  material  the  ideal  of  Mr.  Gordon  Craig. 
She  had  other  views  and  accordingly  parted  with  M. 
Meierhold. 

During  the  following  years  there  was  a  series  of  difficulties 
and  failures.  Kommisarzhevskaia  could  find  no  real  and 
permanent  helpers.  She  staged  a  number  of  plays  with  the 
help  of  her  brother  and  of  M.  Evreinov  ;  sometimes  the  pro- 
ductions were  successful,  sometimes  they  were  not,  but  the 
theatre,  in  spite  of  the  interest  it  aroused,  was  never  materially 
prosperous.  A  badly  managed  trip  to  New  York  did  not 
improve  the  financial  position,  and  a  final  effort  to  retrieve 
matters  led  to  catastrophe.  Oscar  Wilde's  Salome  was  put 
into  rehearsal,  and  M.  Evreinov's  management  and  the  glow- 
ing and  dazzling  scenery  of  M.  Kalmakov  led  to  results  that 
seemed  to  promise  certain  triumph.  The  play  was  licensed, 
the  bills  were  out,  the  tickets  were  sold,  when  suddenly 
deputies  of  the  Right  in  the  Duma  and  priests  raised  a  pro- 
test against  the  performance,  declaring  the  play  to  be  blas- 
phemous. A  large  number  of  politicians  attended  the  grand 
rehearsal.  The  production  in  its  amazing  combination  of 
light  and  colour  effects  was  something  unprecedented  m  St. 
Petersburg,  but  even  the  Assistant-Prefect  who  was  present 
saw  no  reason  to  prohibit  the  play.  It  was  forbidden,  how- 
ever, on  the  following  day,  just  before  the  performance.  The 
prohibition  proved  ruinous  to  the  theatre  for  the  prepara- 
tions for  Salome  had  involved  an  enormous  outlay.    Shortly 

19— <24<X>) 


280  Russia  of  the  Russians 

afterwards  the  enterprise  was  wound  up  and  Madame 
Kommisarzhevskaia  and  part  of  her  company  went  on  a  tour 
in  the  provinces.  The  tour  was  financially  successful,  but 
the  experience  on  the  Omtserskaia  made  a  deep  impression 
on  Vera  Kommisarzhevskaia.  She  had  been  practically  alone 
throughout.  She  had  no  real  and  constant  helpers.  Her 
troupe,  which  like  all  troupes  was  composed  of  players,  good, 
bad,  and  indifferent,  only  vaguely  understood  her  aims.  Her 
successes  had  been  fragmentary.  She  had  been  dogged 
by  a  failure  that  seemed  to  her  to  be  implicit  in  the  theatre 
itself  as  at  present  constituted.  Reflecting  on  her  experience 
she  came  to  a  radical  decision.  She  resolved  to  abandon  the 
stage  entirely.  "  I  am  leaving,"  she  wrote  to  her  troupe, 
"  because  the  theatre  in  the  form  in  which  it  now  exists  no 
longer  seems  to  me  necessary,  and  the  way  I  have  taken  in 
the  search  for  new  forms  no  longer  seems  to  me  the  true 
way."  In  another  very  characteristic  letter  she  explains  her 
determination  to  open  a  school.  "  I  have  arrived  at  a  great 
decision,"  she  writes,  "  and,  obedient  always  to  the  bidding 
of  the  artist  that  is  in  me,  I  gladly  submit  to  this  decision. 
I  am  going  to  open  a  school,  but  this  will  not  be  simply  a 
school.  It  will  be  a  place  in  which  people,  young  people 
with  hearts  and  souls  will  learn  to  understand  and  love  the 
truly  beautiful  and  to  come  to  God.  This  is  such  an  immense 
task  that  I  only  venture  to  undertake  it  because  I  feel  with 
my  whole  being  that  this  is  God's  will,  that  this  is  my  true 
mission  in  life,  and  that  it  is  for  this  that  something  has  been 
given  me  which  draws  to  me  the  hearts  of  the  young.  It  is 
for  this  that  my  spirit  has  been  kept  young  and  joyful  until 
now,  for  this  end  I  have  been  brought  through  all  trials,  it  is 
for  this  that  faith  in  myself  through  God  has  been  strengthened 
and  confirmed  in  me."  The  school  was  never  opened.  In 
Tashkend  in  Central  Asia,  when  the  tour  was  drawing  to  a 
close,  Vera  Kommisarzhevskaia  caught  small-pox  in  the 
bazaars  and  died  within  a  few  days.  Her  body  was  brought 
to  St.  Petersburg  and  buried  in  the  cemetery  attached  to  the 


The  Theatre  281 

Alexander  Nevsky  Monastery.  The  funeral,  which  was 
attended  by  thousands,  was  a  demonstration  of  popular  affec- 
tion such  as  has  never  been  seen  at  the  funeral  of  any  actor 
or  actress  in  Russia. 

The  abandonment  of  the  stage  by  the  most  talented  of 
modern  Russian  actresses  was  not  an  accident,  nor  was  it  the 
outcome  of  pettishness  or  chagrin.  It  was  simply  the  frank 
and  deliberate  admission  by  the  most  highly  sensitive  of  all 
persons  connected  with  the  stage  that  the  theatre  must  be 
something  fundamentally  different  from  what  it  now  is  if  it 
is  to  serve  the  purpose  of  true  artistic  expression.  Eleanor  a 
Duse  once  said,  "  To  save  the  theatre  the  theatre  must  be 
destroyed,  the  actors  and  actresses  must  all  die  of  the  plague. 
They  make  art  impossible."  In  Russia  actions  follow  on 
words  much  more  readily  than  in  other  parts  of  the  world. 
Kommjsarzhevskaia's  refusal  was  one  of  the  symptoms  of  a 
general  crisis  in  the  theatre. 

But  her  work  has  had  a  very  distinct  effect  upon  the  theatre 
as  it  now  is.  The  public  that  takes  a  real  interest  in  the 
drama  has  been  made  to  reflect  deeply,  and  will  no  longer 
tolerate  the  slovenly  methods  that  a  few  years  ago  so  easily 
passed  muster.  Dramatic  critics,  too,  have  learned  some- 
thing, and,  as  custom  has  it,  those  who  bitterly  attacked 
Kommisarzhevskaia  during  her  lifetime  are  loud  in  their 
praise  of  her  now  that  she  is  dead.  The  Imperial  theatres 
have  reaped  some  of  the  benefit.  M.  Meierhold  is  now  stage- 
manager  in  the  Imperial  theatres  of  St.  Petersburg.  Bravich, 
the  leading  actor  in  Kommisarzhevskaia's  troupe,  secured 
an  engagement  in  the  Maly  Theatre  in  Moscow.  The  higher 
standard  of  stage  decoration  now  established  is  largely  due 
to  the  bold  initiative  of  the  theatre  on  the  Offitserskaia.  Vera 
Kommisarzhevskaia  was  not  the  sole  agent  in  the  change, 
but  no  one  has  stated  the  necessity  of  change  so  forcibly  as 
she.  And  in  spite  of  the  great  improvements  effected  the 
fundamental  questions  she  put  as  to  the  artistic  value  of  the 
theatre  still  remain  unanswered. 


282  Russia  of  the  Russians 

The  Moscow  Art  Theatre  works  within  the  limits  of  the 
attainable,  and  within  these  limits  has  achieved  results  that 

make  this  theatre  in  the  opinion  of  competent 
Art^Tfaeatre      observers  absolutely  the  best  in  Europe.     It 

stands  wholly  apart   from  the  rest   of  the 
Russian    theatrical    world.      It    is    privately    financed.      It 
trains  its  own  actors  and  actresses,  has  built  in  Moscow  a 
theatre  specially  adapted  to  its  own  requirements;  in  a  word, 
it  has  the  poise  and  steadiness  which  come  from  a  complete 
dependence  on  its  own  resources  and  from  a  sense  of  solid 
achievement.     The  founders  and  leading  spirits  of  the  theatre 
are    MM.    Stanislavsky    and    Nemirovich-Danchenko.     The 
latter  is  the  manager ;   the  former  is  the  principal  actor,  the 
teacher,  the  inspirer,  and  the  theatre  is  frequently  spoken  of 
under  his  name.     Stanislavsky  is  a  pseudonym.     Its  bearer  is 
a  member  of  a  well-known  family  of  manufacturers  in  Moscow, 
the  Alekseievs,  and  his  brother  was  at  one  time  mayor  of  the 
city.    His  grandmother  was  a  French  actress,  and  he  inherited 
her  passion  for  the  stage.     In  his  early  youth  he  played  in  a 
private  theatre  in  his  father's  house,  sang  in  opera,  studied 
in  the  Paris  Conservatoire,  was  strongly  influenced  by  the 
Meiningen  company  and  associated  in  Moscow  with  the  most 
progressive  actors  and  critics.     Being  a  man  of  alert  intelli- 
gence and  very  versatile  talent  he  formed  very  pronounced 
and  original  views  on  the  aims  and  methods  of  dramatic  art, 
and  in  1908,  at  a  time  when  the  older  theatres  were  clearly 
demonstrating  their  hopeless  inadequacy  and  inefficiency,  he 
founded  in  connection  with  Nemirovich-Danchenko  the  Art 
Theatre.    Fifteen  years  of  unremitting  work  have  made  of 
this  theatre  an  "  institution  "  of  which  Russians  are  rightly 
proud.   The  aim  is  sufficiently  indicated  in  the  title.    Dramatic 
production  as  an  art  in  the  strictest  sense  of  the  word  is  what 
this  theatre,  with  rare  consistency,  holds  in  view.   .  Stani- 
slavsky has  described  scenic  art  in  the  sense  in  which  it  is 
cultivated  in  the  Moscow  theatre  as  "  An  artistic  unfolding 
of    the   life    of    the   human    spirit."     The    phrase    is    not 


The  Theatre  283 

> 

particularly  illuminating  and  may  obviously  be  used  of  any 
of  the  arts,  but  the  fact  that  Stanislavsky  applies  it  to  the 
stage  at  least  indicates  the  intellectual  purpose  of  his 
enterprise. 

Given  intentness  of  aim  there  is  room  for  considerable 
catholicity  of  method,  and  the  promoters  of  the  Moscow 
theatre  have  been  very  open-minded  in  this  respect.  If 
Kommisarzhevskaia's  theatre  was  a  theatre  of  revolt,  of 
revolt  amongst  other  things  against  certain  tendencies  in  the 
older  enterprise  in  Moscow,  Stanislavsky's  theatre  may  be 
described  as  a  theatre  of  reform.  The  idea  was  that  brains 
must  be  put  into  the  work  of  the  stage.  Everything  that 
was  done  on  the  old  stage  may  be  done  on  the  new,  only  it 
must  be  done  infinitely  better  and  a  great  deal  must  be  done 
in  addition.  The  stage  must  reveal  man  to  the  modern  man. 
There  is  realism  in  the  Moscow  theatre,  in  fact  it  has  been 
reproached  with  an  excessive  cultivation  of  realism.  In  its 
productions  minute  attention  is  paid  to  details,  and  with 
this  object  an  extraordinary  wealth  of  resource  and,  indeed, 
erudition  are  displayed  in  the  elaboration  of  various  aspects 
of  scenery  and  acting.  The  striving  after  faithfulness  to  real 
life  is  pronounced,  but  if  the  result  attained  is  one  of  genuine 
beauty  with  a  direct  appeal — and  in  the  productions  of  the 
Moscow  theatre  such  a  result  is  usually  secured — the  method 
adopted  is  of  secondary  importance.  Sometimes  one  might 
wish  that  the  machinery  were  less  ponderous,  the  evidence  of 
design  less  apparent.  Ibsen's  Brand,  for  instance,  as  staged 
by  the  Art  Theatre  is  a  very  finished  production.  The  appeal 
is  made  by  means  of  a  number  of  stage  effects  that  are  in 
their  totality  beautiful,  but  the  impression  is  marred  by  a 
certain  sense  of  strain  and  over-elaboration.  A  few  years 
ago  the  Theatre  produced  the  principal  scenes  and  dialogues 
from  Dostoievsky's  great  novel,  The  Brothers  Karamazov. 
Scenery  and  costumes  were  very  simple.  A  great  many 
passages  from  the  novel  which  served  as  connecting  links 
were  simply  read  from  a  corner  of  the  stage  by  the  light  of  a 


284  Russia  of  the  Russians 

reading  lamp,  and  the  work  of  the  actors  was  very  like  that 
of  the  reader,  except  that  the  former  was  raised  into  greater 
spectacular  relief.  There  were  many  who  felt  that  the  pro- 
duction of  The  Brothers  Karamazov,  for  all  its  simplicity, 
probably  because  of  its  simplicity,  was  more  deeply  moving 
than  that  of  Brand. 

But  whatever  the  methods  adopted  the  productions  of  the 
Art  Theatre  always  give  the  sense  of  a  mind  and  minds 
actively  at  work.  There  is  nothing  shoddy,  musty,  or  hack- 
neyed. The  whole  company  is  on  the  alert  and  each  player 
has  a  feeling  for  the  whole  as  well  as  for  his  own  special  part. 
It  is  an  intelligent  and  admirably  trained  company  with  a 
strong  conviction  of  the  seriousness  of  the  work  to  be  done. 
It  includes  several  actors  of  exceptional  ability.  Stanislavsky 
himself  presents  a  singularly  happy  combination  of  a  keen 
intellect  with  a  rich  temperament.  Kachalov  is  an  actor  of 
a  markedly  intellectual  type.  Moskvin  has  a  fortunate  gift 
of  spontaneity  with  a  wide  emotional  range.  Luzhsky  is 
vigorous  and  versatile.  Leonidov  is  a  younger  actor  who 
displays  a  powerful,  if  uneven,  temperament.  The  company 
is  not  nearly  so  strong  in  respect  of  actresses.  Madame 
Knipper,  Madame  Lilina,  and  Madame  Germanova,  who  take 
the  leading  parts,  play  competently,  but  rarely  rise  above  a 
certain  rather  sober  level  of  excellence.  Among  the  junior 
members  of  the  company  there  is  an  abundance  of  talent. 

The  capacities  of  this  carefully  chosen  band  of  workers 
are  enhanced  by  endless  training.  Not  more  than  four  new 
plays  are  given  every  year,  and  these  are  rehearsed  over  and 
over  again  until  every  detail  has  been  brought  to  the  utmost 
possible  pitch  of  perfection.  The  intelligence  of  the  players 
is  constantly  enlisted.  Attached  to  the  Theatre  is  a  training- 
school  called  the  Studio,  the  pupils  of  which  under  the  guid- 
ance of  Stanislavsky  form  a  kind  of  autonomous  company 
which  chooses  plays  for  preparation,  and  after  careful  study 
produce  them  before  semi-private  audiences  consisting  chiefly 
of  relatives  and  friends.     In   1913  the  Studio  gave  several 


The^Theatre  285 

public  performances  of  the  Dutch  author  Heyerman's  The 
Wreck  of  "  The  Hope*9  in  a  tiny  hall  in  St.  Petersburg,  and 
the  freshness,  vigour,  and  enthusiasm  of  these  performances 
was  in  marked  contrast  to  the  routine  playing  of  the  average 
theatre  and  explain  the  secret  of  the  Art  Theatre's  success. 
Many  of  the  members  of  the  Studio  take  minor  parts  in  the 
performances  of  the  chief  company. 

The  element  of  commercialism  is  absent.  The  actors  and 
actresses  of  the  company  are  paid  salaries  ranging  from  £10 
to  £60  per  month  and  all  receive  a  share  of  the  profits  at  the 
end  of  the  year.  The  profits  are  not  very  large,  however. 
The  expenses  of  production  are  heavy.  The  theatre  in  Mos- 
cow is  a  small  one  :  the  interior  is  beautiful  in  the  simplicity 
and  severity  of  its  architectural  lines,  the  ceiling  is  perfectly 
plain,  devoid  of  all  decoration,  concealed  electric  lamps  give 
a  pleasant  and  mellow  light.  There  is  a  revolving  stage, 
and  the  stage  appliances  are  the  most  up  to  date  and  most 
nearly  perfect  that  can  be  found.  This  theatre  is  always 
filled  during  the  season,  and  it  is  difficult  to  secure  tickets. 
Yet  the  Moscow  season  does  not  wholly  recoup  the  outlay, 
and  it  is  only  the  annual  St.  Petersburg  season  after  Easter 
when  the  performances  are  given  in  a  larger  but  invariably 
crowded  theatre  that  now  secures  the  enterprise  against 
financial  loss.  The  original  capital  of  the  theatre  was  sub- 
scribed by  a  number  of  Moscow  merchants  out  of  pure  interest 
in  dramatic  art  and  without  any  visible  hope  of  return. 

Among  the  ideals  which  the  Moscow  Theatre  sets  itself  is 
the  encouragement  of  Russian  literature.  Its  early  triumphs 
are  associated  with  the  plays  of  Chehov,  which  gained  public 
recognition  only  because  of  the  extraordinarily  minute,  intelli- 
gent, and  enthusiastic  effort  which  the  Moscow  Theatre  put 
into  their  production.  Two  of  Chehov's  plays,  Ivanov  and 
The  Seagull,  met  with  complete  failure  on  the  Imperial  stage 
before  the  Art  Theatre  came  to  the  rescue.  Ivanov  was  never 
recovered  from  oblivion,  but  The  Seagull  was,  and  it  has  be- 
come a  symbol  of  Chehov's  dramatic  success  as  well  as  that 


286  Russia  of  the  Russians 

of  Stanislavsky's  theatre.  Chehov's  plays  are  clearly  beyond 
the  scope  of  the  conventional  theatre.  They  are  almost  en- 
tirely lacking  in  action,  they  consist  of  a  series  of  situations 
representing  changing  moods  and  not  the  development  of  a 
plot.  The  events  described  are  of  the  most  ordinary  char- 
acter ;  the  scenes  are  such  as  are  familiar  to  every  member 
of  the  audience.  Unless  extraordinary  care  is  taken  Chehov's 
plays  on  the  stage  may  prove  simply  dull  and  uninteresting. 
The  Moscow  Art  Theatre  found  the  secret  of  producing  them 
in  the  only  way  in  which  they  could  be  made  to  utter  a 
dramatic  appeal.  The  sober  realism  of  the  plays  had  to  be 
made  expressive.  All  the  petty  details  of  the  very  ordinary 
situations  described  had  to  be  made  significant.  Every  tone 
and  every  movement  in  the  players'  parts,  every  detail  of 
stage  management,  had  to  be  so  determined  and  so  adjusted 
that  their  combined  effect  would  inevitably  be  to  infect  the 
audience  with  the  mood  and  temper  expressed  by  the  author 
in  the  given  situation.  The  problem  was  solved  with  won- 
derful success,  and  Chehov's  plays  lived  on  the  Moscow  stage. 
The  performances  of  The  Seagull  aroused  eager  interest  and 
violent  controversy,  but  the  opposition  was  gradually  worn 
down  by  the  unmistakable  emphasis  of  the  popular  verdict. 
It  was  indeed  a  triumph  of  art  to  create  out  of  that  contra- 
diction in  terms,  an  actionless  drama,  a  scenic  work  with  a 
genuine  power  of  aesthetic  appeal.  The  Moscow  Theatre 
simply  made  Chehov  as  a  dramatist.  Without  Stanislavsky 
he  would  probably  not  have  been  a  dramatist  at  all,  because 
it  was  only  the  successful  production  of  his  first  plays  by 
Stanislavsky  that  encouraged  him  to  write  others.  These 
others,  Three  Sisters,  Uncle  Vania,  and  The  Cherry  Garden, 
were  treated  by  the  Moscow  Theatre  with  an  affectionate 
care  and  with  a  success  that  has  made  them  classics  of  the 
modern  Russian  stage.  Other  theatres  can  now  venture  to 
produce  Chehov  clumsily  and  imperfectly  and  yet  attract  an 
audience.  Even  in  Bulgaria,  which  draws  its  intellectual 
inspirations  directly  from  Russia,  The  Cherry  Garden  is  now 


K.    STANISLAVSKY 

{Head  of  the  M,nt,iiv  Art    Theatre) 


The  Theatre  287 

successfully  played.  In  the  repertoire  of  the  Art  Theatre 
Chehov's  plays  are  now  the  popular  favourites,  and  it  was 
the  effort  to  make  Chehov's  work  expressive  and  intelligible 
on  the  stage  that  gave  this  theatre  its  characteristic  stamp. 

It  was  the  Moscow  Theatre,  too,  which  made  a  playwright 
of  an  author  who  at  one  moment  seemed  to  possess  greater 
dramatic  power  than  Chehov.  In  the  year  1900  the  pro- 
duction of  Uncle  Vania  in  Moscow  had  met  with  a  success 
which  was  challenged  by  a  great  many  of  the  critics.  Chehov 
who  was  ill  and  living  in  Yalta,  a  health  resort  in  the  Crimea, 
was  unable  to  see  the  performances.  The  management 
accordingly  brought  the  whole  company  down  to  Yalta  in 
the  spring  in  order  to  learn  his  judgment.  A  large  number 
of  literary  men  and  women  and  artists  from  St.  Petersburg 
and  Moscow  were  at  that  time  living  in  Yalta,  and  the  pro- 
duction of  Uncle  Yania  in  the  local  theatre  aroused  unbounded 
enthusiasm.  One  of  the  most  enthusiastic  of  the  spectators 
was  Maxim  Gorky,  who  at  once  determined  that  if  this  were 
the  drama  he,  too,  would  write  plays.  He  accordingly  wrote 
Mieschane,  which  the  Art  Theatre  produced  in  the  following 
season,  and  later  his  most  successful  play,  In  the  Depths. 

Several  of  Andreiev's  plays  have  been  produced  by  the 
Moscow  Theatre,  but  all  the  care  bestowed  fails  to  make 
them  very  convincing  on  the  stage.  And  in  spite  of  all  the 
encouragement  given  by  the  existence  of  such  a  theatre, 
Russian  authors  show  a  strong  disinclination  to  write  plays, 
and  when  they  do  write  they  are  not  often  successful.  The 
Art  Theatre  has,  therefore,  had  to  look  farther  back  and 
farther  afield  for  material.  It  has  tried  Shakespeare — the  stag- 
ing of  Julius  Caesar  was  raised  to  the  utmost  pitch  of  realism, 
while  Hamlet  was  staged  with  the  aid  of  Mr.  Gordon  Craig. 
It  has  applied  its  vividly  realistic  method  to  the  production 
of  Russian  classics  like  Gogol's  Inspector-General,  Griboyedqv's 
The  Mischief  of  being  Clever,  and  Alexis  Tolstoy's  historical 
drama  Tsar  Feodor  Ivanovich.  A  charming  idyll  has  been 
made  of  Turgeniev's  A  Month  in  the  Country.   Ibsen's  Brand, 


288  Russia  of  the  Russians 

The  Enemy  of  the  People,  The  Master  Builder,  and  Peer  Gynt 
have  been  produced.  The  production  of  several  plays  by  a 
living  Norwegian  author,  Knut  Hamsun,  has  led  the  Art 
Theatre  from  the  open  ways  of  realism  into  by-paths  of  sym- 
bolism in  which  interesting  decorative  results  were  achieved, 
although  in  symbolism  the  company  is  not  altogether  at  home. 
During  the  last  few  years  the  Art  Theatre  has  been  experi- 
menting in  new  methods,  has  adopted  the  suggestions  of 
some  of  the  reforming  theatres  in  the  West,  and  has  fallen 
into  line  with  the  new  Russian  movement  for  securing  the 
co-operation  of  the  most  talented  painters  as  designers  of 
costumes.  The  recent  appointment  of  Alexander  Benois  as 
designer  and  general  adviser  in  the  decorative  wprk  of  the 
theatre,  seems  to  symbolise  the  fusion  of  those  modern  move- 
ments in  painting  and  dramatic  art  which  have  now  reached 
the  dignified  stage  of  general  recognition. 

It  must  be  admitted  that  in  becoming  an  institution  the 
Moscow  Theatre  has  lost  some  of  its  charm.  An  intellectual 
theatre  of  this  type  runs  the  danger  of  becoming  academic. 
Its  very  success  sets  limits  to  its  efforts.  There  is  no  diminu- 
tion of  energy  and  care  in  the  management,  but  the  freshness, 
the  enthusiasm,  the  inspiriting  atmosphere  of  ideas  which 
characterised  the  theatre  in  former  days  are  giving  place  to  a 
routine  that  is  probably  inevitable,  but  is  none  the  less  dis- 
appointing. There  is  still  great  power  in  the  theatre.  A 
performance  of  Peer  Gynt  with  Leonidov  at  his  best  in  the 
chief  part  and  with  the  scenery  designed  by  Rohrich,  who  has 
an  unrivalled  sense  of  northern  landscape  and  of  mythological 
atmosphere,  may  still  move  very  deeply.  The  Art  Theatre 
is  becoming  set  in  its  own  methods.  It  has  fixed  a  high 
standard,  and  yet  after  many  of  its  performances  one  is  left 
with  a  vague  feeling  of  dissatisfaction,  and  one  wonders  whether 
Kommisarzhevskaia's  failure  may  not  have  been  rather  more 
worth  while  than  the  brilliant  success  of  the  Stanislavsky 
Theatre. 

An  essential  element  of  the   theatre  which   the  Moscow 


The  Theatre  289 

Theatre  in  its  seriousness  is  apt  to  miss  is  sheer  fun,  spon- 
taneous and  unrestrained  merriment.  Players  should  play, 
but,  as  a  rule,  the  Moscow  players  work  very  hard  even  when 
they  produce  comedies.  Their  excuse  is  that  nothing  is  more 
insipid  and  intolerable  than  that  accumulated  atmosphere  of 
stale  and  habitual  humour  that  gathers  around  the  conven- 
tional theatre.  As  though  to  meet  a  demand  for  fun  that 
none  of  the  regular  theatres  supply,  a  new  type  of  playhouse 
has  arisen,  the  so-called  Miniature  Theatre.  Some  of  the 
members  of  the  Art  Theatre  Company  under  the  leadership 
of  Baliev  have  established  a  theatre  of  this  type  in  Moscow 
under  the  name  of  the  Flying  Mouse  or  The  Bat,  while  a 
corresponding  enterprise  in  St.  Petersburg  founded  by  an 
actress  of  the  Imperial  Theatre  named  Holmskaia,  is  known 
as  The  Crooked  Looking  Glass.  These  theatres  give  a  variety 
of  clever,  quaint,  and  odd  scenes,  one-act  comedies,  pastorals, 
and  the  like.  The  Bat  tries  to  arouse  the  hilarity  of  its 
audiences  by  inducing  them  to  sing  a  chorus,  by  provoking 
a  general  sneeze,  or  by  letting  loose  toy  balloons  when  the 
lights  are  out. 

The  Crooked  Looking  Glass  has  produced  an  amusing 
parody  on  the  conventional  opera  under  the  name  of  Vampuku, 
and  an  extraordinarily  clever  parody  on  the  methods  of 
stage-managers  in  which  a  scene  from  Gogol's  Inspector- 
General  is  produced  in  the  old  style,  then  in  parodies  in  the 
style  of  the  Moscow  Art  Theatre,  of  Max  Reinhardt  and  of 
Gordon  Craig.  These  Miniature  Theatres  maintain  a  high 
level  of  taste  and  humour  and  avoid  coarseness,  which  is 
more  than  can  be  said  of  the  average  variety  theatre  in 
Russia. 

Dramatic  criticism  is  fairly  represented,  but  cannot  be 
described  as  excessively  impartial.  There  is  a  great  deal  of 
interest  in  theatrical  questions  and  the  crisis  of  the  stage, 
which  so  patently  exists,  is  hotly  discussed.  MM.  Meierhold 
and  Evreinov  and  Prince  Sergius  Volkonsky,  a  former  director 
of  the  Imperial  theatres,  have  published  books  on  the  art 


290  Russia  of  the  Russians 

of  the  theatre,  and  the  controversy  on  a  theatre  of  marionettes, 
as  against  the  further  cultivation  of  Expressive  power  in  the 
actor,  is  being  waged  with  energy.  The  popularity  of  the 
Dalcroze  system  of  rhythmical  gymnastics  suggests  that 
further  developments  will  hardly  lie  in  the  direction  of  the 
marionette  theatre.  Great  things  have  been  dreamed  of  the 
theatre  in  Russia,  and  in  a  country  where  artistic  instincts 
are  so  keen  and  the  spirit  of  inquiry  so  strong  it  is  quite 
possible  that  some  of  these  dreams  will  be  realised,  although 
the  present  position  is  very  like  an  impasse. 


CHAPTER   IX 

PAINTING 

Russian  art  is  very  new  and  very  old.     It  has  taken  its  place 
in  the  world  of  Western  art,  but  it  is  still  sensitive  to  the  East. 

And  its  sensitiveness  to  the  East  is  not  merely 
Painting.       due  to  the  Western  rediscovery  of  the  East, 
which  makes  Frenchmen  and  Englishmen  look 
with  delighted  surprise  on  the  work  of  Japanese  artists  as 
upon  something  absolutely  new.     It  is  born  of  a  close,  direct, 
anjLaiicient  connection  with  the  East,  the  memory  of  which 
lies  deep  in  popular  feeling  and  expresses  itself  in  a  hundred 
•mtgutiae  of  costume,  decorative  art,  legend,  and  idiom.     The 
thoughts  of  Russians,  their  conscious  aspirations  are  now 
fixed  on  the  West,  and  the  period  of  heightened,  almost 
morbid   sensitiveness   to   Western   intellectual   and   artistic 
fashions  is  not  yet  over.    But  Western  feeling  in  Russia  is 
often  coloured  by  a  variety  of  subconscious  influences  which, 
on  closer  analysis,  may  be  traced  back  to  the  older  civilisa- 
tions of  the  South  and  East,  to  Asia  Minor,  to  Persia,  Central 
Asia,  and  even  to  China.     The  springs  of  Russian  art  are 
rich  and  manifold.     But  this  does  not  mean  that  Russian 
art  has  developed  in  proportion  to  its  splendid  potentialities. 
The  East  and  Middle  East  is  often  more  picturesque  and  is 
in  many  respects  more  artistic  than  Russia.    The  difference 
is  that  in  the  East, art  is  stereotyped.     In  Russia  it  is  in 
movement  and  the  movement  is  constantly  gathering^impetus 
anJLg^alcening  older  influences  to  new  life  in  a  new  time. 
There  is  a  lack  of  artistic  habit  in  modern  Russia,  but  there 
is  a  great  deal  of  artistic  sensitiveness,  effort,  and  aspiration. 
The  achievement  is  already  very  considerable,  but  the  Russians 
are  an  artistically  gifted  people  and  give  the  impression  of 
being  capable  of  infinitely  greater  work  than  anything  already 

291 


292  Russia  of  the  Russians 

achieved.  The  very  versatility  of  Russian  talent  renders  it 
diffuse,  and  makes  it  difficult  to  define  its  precise  qualities 
and  tendencies.  The  Russians  have  given  a  striking  demon- 
stration of  the  originality  and  power  of  their  talent  in  the 
novel  and  in  music.  They  can  point  to  the  remarkable 
beauty  of  the  old  churches  in  Novgorod,  in  the  Suzdal  region, 
and  in  and  around  Moscow  as  a  proof  of  their  architectural 
talent.  Have  they  a  conspicuous  talent  for  painting  as  well  ? 
This  is  a  question  that  is  most  difficult  to  answer  because  it 
is  just  in  the  matter  of  painting  that  the  break  between  the 
old  and  the  new  Russia  is  most  acutely  felt. 

A  visitor  to  the  museum  of  Alexander  III,  the  gallery  of 
the  modern  Russian  school  in  St.  Petersburg,  might  a  few 
years  ago  have  conceived  very  grave  doubts  as  to  the  strength 
of  the  Russian  genius  in  the  sphere  of  graphic  art.  Passing 
from  rooin  to  room  he  would  probably  have  experienced  a 
growing  feeling  of  depression  not  unlike  that  produced  by 
the  architecture  of  the  'eighties  and  the  'nineties  of  the  last 
century  in  most  of  the  houses  in  the  neighbourhood  of  the 
Nicholas  Railway  Station.  Insipid  landscapes  by  Shishkin, 
romantic  highly  coloured  seascapes  by  Aivazovsky,  conven- 
tional and  historical  pictures  in  which  Tsars  and  boyars 
drearily  bear  the  weight  of  the  costumes  of  their  period, 
huge  and  lifeless  Oriental  scenes  by  Semigradsky,  groups  of 
impossibly  placid  and  sentimental  peasants — the  combined 
effect  of  such  pictures  as  these  is  simply  chilling.  The 
Vereshchagin  room  seemed  to  promise  some  relief,  but 
the  colours  in  the  big  war  pictures  have  faded, .  and  the 
painter's  assertive  moralising,  deprived  of  whatever  justi- 
fication it  may  once  have  had  in  brilliant  colour  effects, 
leaves  one  cold  and  indifferent.  Vereshchagin's  oriental 
scenes  with  their  warmth  of  colour  and  elaboration  of 
detail  would  serve  as  admirable  illustrations  for  ethno- 
graphical and  archaeological  works.  There  are  good  por- 
traits by  Kramskoi  and  Ge,  some  charming  old-fashioned 
genre  pictures,  such  as  Fedotov's  "  The  Bride  before  the 


Painting  293 

Looking  Glass,"  and  "  Inspecting  the  Bride,"  comforting 
flashes  of  talent  in  out-of-the-way  corners.  Yaroshenko's 
picture  of  the  feeding  of  pigeons  by  prisoners  from  a  railway- 
van  has  the  attractiveness  of  a  warm,  humane  mood  expressed 
with  a  cheerful  downrightness  that  would  be  impossible  to- 
day. In  the  impetuosity  and  abounding  vitality  of  Riepin 
there  is  something  infectious.  Some  of  his  portraits  of 
members  of  the  Council  of  the  Empire  in  its  older  form  are 
distinctly  impressive,  particularly  the  portrait  of  Pobie- 
donostsev,  and  there  is  a  great  deal  of  rollicking  humour  in 
the  picture  of  the  Zaporogian  Cossacks.  There  are  many 
specimens  of  the  work  of  Karl  Briillow,  the  most  popular 
artist  in  the  early  half  of  the  last  century,  but  his  "  Last 
Day  of  Pompeii,"  that  eighty  years  ago  aroused  such 
enthusiasm  in  Russia,  seems  lifeless  now. 

The  general  effect  was,  and,  in  spite  of  recent  additions, 
still  very  largely  is,  one  of  a  curious  disproportion  between 
Russian  painting  and  the  magnificence  of  Russian  achieve- 
ment in  other  spheres  of  art.  The  impression  is  heightened 
by  a  comparison  with  the  wealth  of  inspiring  tradition  and 
the  vistas  of  great  opportunity  revealed  in  another  St.  Peters- 
burg museum,  the  Imperial  Hermitage,  one  of  the  richest 
picture-galleries  in  Europe.  The  upper  story  contains  a 
splendid  display  of  the  work  of  the  great  Western  masters. 
There  is  a  fine  collection  of  Rembrandts,  Velasquez  is  well 
represented,  there  are  Leonardos  and  Raphaels,  Fra  Angelicos 
and  Giorgiones,  Rubenses,  and  Van  Dycks.  It  is  a  truly 
Imperial  collection.  The  Western  art,  within  whose  sphere 
modern  Russian  art  is  developing,  exercises  a  powerful  influ- 
ence here.  In  the  lower  story  are  represented  the  sources 
and  origins,  the  distant  beginnings  of  art  upon  the  great 
plain,  the  products  of  excavations  in  the  south  and  south- 
east of  Russia,  vases  and  a  dazzling  variety  of  ornament 
from  the  Greek  colonies  in  the  south  of  Russia,  metal-work 
of  the  Sassanids  from  the  neighbourhood  of  the  Urals,  rings 
and  bracelets  from  Scythian  mounds.    The  East  of  yesterday 


294  Russia  of  the  Russians 

is  represented,  too,  by  elaborately  woven  tissues  and  curious 
armour  from  Central  Asia.  Below,  the  inspiration  of  the 
sweep  of  ancient  civilisations  across  the  great  plain.  Above, 
the  finest  inspiration  of  the  West.  It  would  be  hard  to 
imagine  a  more  resplendent  setting  for  a  powerful  Russian 
art.  And  that  is  why  the  Alexander  III  Museum  is  so 
disappointing. 

But  the  Alexander  III  Museum  does  not,  after  all,  give  a 
fair  view  of  modern  Russian  painting  ;  it  is  far  from  showing 
it  at  its  best.  A  much  more  favourable  impression  is  given 
by  the  Tretiakov  Gallery  in  Moscow,  where  the  works  of 
Russian  and  Western  painters,  of  classics  and  moderns,  are 
so  deftly  intermingled  as  to  create  a  sense  of  vital  continuity, 
of  a  living  movement  of  art  in  which  Russia  is  co-operating 
with  France  and  Germany  and  England.  It  is  all  the  better 
for  Russian  art  that  Corot  and  Watteau  and  Manet  are  housed 
under  the  same  roof  as  the  Russians  Levi  tan  and  Kuindzhi. 
The  Russians  fall  into  their  true  places,  the  sense  of  dispro- 
portion is  lessened,  the  course  of  the  development  of  Russian 
painting  and  its  relation  to  Western  schools  is  thrown  into 
clearer  relief,  and  what  is  characteristically  Russian  is  more 
easily  distinguished,  from  what  is  the  Western  fashion  of  the 
moment.  The  fact,  too,  that  the  trustees  of  the  Tretiakov 
Gallery  follow  with  keen  interest  the  movement  of  present- 
day  Russian  art  and  buy  up  the  best  work  in  the  annual 
exhibitions  is  of  immense  importance  for  the  formation  of  a 
just  view,  because  during  the  last  fifteen  years  there  has 
been  a  striking  revival  in  Russian  painting,  and  much  of  the 
best  work  produced  in  Russia  belongs  to  this  period.  The 
Alexander  III  Museum  has,  during  the  last  two  or  three 
years,  attempted  to  do  a  belated  justice  to  the  revival,  but 
its  purchases  have  not  been  extensive,  and  in  the  main 
it  continues  to  represent  an  uninspiring  and  "isolated 
yesterday. 

The  misfortune  of  Russian  painting  is  that  it  has  suffered 
from  a  series  of  breaks  in  its  development.    The  most  severe 


Painting  295 

wrench  was  given  by  Peter  the  Great,  the  result  of  whose     / 
passionate   leap  into  Europe  was  a  complete  cessation  of 
the  older  art  tradition,  while  European  art  took  root  in  Russia 
only  very  slowly,  and  it  was  long  before  anything  like  a  fixed 
standard   of  taste  was  established.     In   fact,  the   state  of 
Russian  art  in  the  eighteenth  century  was  so  deplorable  that 
the  appearance  of  such  an   admirable  portrait-painter  as 
Levitsky,  whose  portraits  have  the  undying  charm  of  mastery 
combined   with  intimate  truth,  is   difficult  to  understand. 
If  a  Levitsky  was  possible  in  such  a  period,  then  such  fine 
portraits  as  the  Emperor  Paul  or  the  Mile.   Lopuhina  of    , 
Borovikovsky  are  less  astounding.    But  it  was  only  in  por-     \ 
trait-painting  that  Russia  at  the  close  of  the  eighteenth  *  \ 
century  could  hold  her  own. 

The  brilliant  literary  movement  of  the  Pushkin  and  Gogol 
period  at  the  beginning  of  the  nineteenth  century  was  not 
accompanied  by  a  correspondingly  vigorous  movement  in 
painting.  But  a  marked  advance  was  made  even  here. 
Russian  artists  were  deeply  influenced  by  the  romantic  move- 
ment, various  phases  of  which  were  reflected  in  the  master- 
pieces of  Kiprensky,  whose  portrait  of  himself  is  one  of  the 
works  that  inevitably  arrest  attention  in  the  Alexander  III 
Museum,  in  the  soothing  and  refreshing  country  scenes  of 
VenetsiaAQV  and  such  work  as  the  delightful  interior  repre- 
senting the  painter  and  his  family  by  Count  Feodor  Tolstoy, 
also  to  be  seen  in  the  Alexander  III  Museum.  Fedotov 
was  another  painter  of  interiors,  whose  work  with  its  depth 
of  feeling,  sureness  of  touch,  and  restraint  of  manner  shows 
a  happy  mingling  of  romanticism  and  realism.  The  early 
years  of  the  nineteenth  century  were  a  very  attractive  period 
in  the  history  of  Russian  art,  one  to  which  the  artists  of  the 
present  day  very  gladly  turn  their  eyes.  There  was  a  great 
deal  of  dilettantism,  there  was  little  real  mastery,  but  scores 
of~pictures  painted  then  reveal  such  unaffected  delight  in 
Jseauty  for  its  own  sake  that  they  are  more  pleasant  to  look 
upon  than  anything  painted  in  Russia  until  toward  theL  close 
20 — (2400) 


296  Russia  of  the  Russians 

of  the  century.  Moreover,  the  period  produced  a  painter 
whom~many^modern  critics  are  inclined  to  consider  the 
greatest  of  all  Russian  artists,  Alexander  Ivanov. 

Ivanov  was  a  most  interesting  man,  but  of  his  artistic 
power  it  is  almost  impossible  to  judge  by  his  completed 

pictures.     His    most    famous    work,    "  The 
Ivanov.         Appearance  of  Christ  to  the  People,"  which 

hangs  in  the  Rumiantsev  Museum  in  Moscow, 
reveals  far  less  inspiration  than  the  sketches  by  which  it  is 
surrounded.  It  is,  in  fact,  in  his  unfinished  sketches,  his 
studies,  that  the  free  and  powerful  movement  of  the  artist's 
talent  finds  its  best  expression.  Ivanov  throughout  his  life 
maintained  a  religious  attitude  to  art,  regarded  his  work  as 
religious  service.  Born  in  1806  he  spent  his  childhood  and 
youth  in  the  Academy  of  Arts  in  St.  Petersburg,  where  his 
father  was  a  professor,  and  where  he  himself  received  his 
training.  The  growth  of  his  talent  was  impeded  by  the 
dulling,  deadening  academic  influences  of  his  time,  but  a 
Society  for  the  Promotion  of  Art  sent  him  to  Rome  where  he 
gradually  found  his  true  self.  In  Rome  he  devoted  himself 
passionately  to  his  art,  held  aloof  from  society,  lived  in 
poverty,  and  groped  after  methods  of  expressing  the  great 
conceptions  inspired  in  him  by  the  work  of  the  Italian  masters 
and  the  study  of  the  gospel.  The  personality  of  Christ  and 
the  high  ardour  of  spiritual  conflict  fascinated  him,  and  he 
made  unwearying  efforts  to  give  form  and  colour  to  his 
dream.  He  longed  to  go  to  Palestine  in  order  to  see  Biblical 
scenes  with  his  own  eyes,  but  in  default  of  means  for  the 
jotaiey  he  visited  a  synagogue  in  Rome  and  studied  the 
Jews  in  Leghorn.  His  studies  of  the  head  of  Christ  include 
a  stern  Hebrew  face  and  the  head  of  an  Apollo  'Pelvedere. 
He  made  a  large  number  of  sketches  and  water-colour  studies 
of  Biblical  and  more  especially  gospel  scenes  which,  in 
spite  of  their  unfinished  character,  are  striking  in  their  fresh- 
ness of  intuition.  "  Christ  teaching  in  the  Temple,"  "  Christ 
teaching  His  Disciples,"  "  Christ  reading  the  Law  and  the 


Painting  297 

Prophets," — these  are  some  of  the  studies  that  indicate  how 
perpetually  and  deeply  the  gospel  story  occupied  Ivanov's 
mind.  His  mystical  tendencies  were  intensified  by  his  associa- 
tion with  the  German  artist  Overbeck.  But  they  were  a 
part  of  his  nature,  and  even  when,  after  the  revolutions  of 
1848,  he  formally  abandoned  his  faith,  professed  socialist 
ideals,  and  became  the  friend  of  Herzen  and  Chernishevsky, 
he  remained  a  believer  in  spite  of  himself.  For  a  time  he 
fought  against  his  longing  to  paint  pictures  on  religious  sub- 
jects, holding  that  this  would  be  sinful  for  such  an  unbeliever 
as  he  now  was.  His  very  unbelief  took  the  direction  of  his 
belief.  When  he  wished  to  supplement  the  deficiencies  of 
his  general  education  he  addressed  himself  to  Strauss,  the 
author  of  the  "  Life  of  Christ."  He  was,  in  fact,  profoundly 
religious  to  the  end,  and  when  in  1857  he  finally  returned  to 
Russia  to  exhibit  "  The  Appearance  of  Christ  to  the  People," 
on  which  he  had  worked  for  twenty  years,  he  was  coldly 
received,  because  in  the  prevailing  materialism  his  mysticism 
was  regarded  as  out  of  date.  He  died  in  the  following  year. 
His  was  a  strange  fate.  His  sketches  and  studies  in  the 
Rumiantsev  Museum,  the  Tretiakov  Gallery,  and  in  the 
Botkin  collection  in  St.  Petersburg  present  a  wealth  of  ideas, 
a  boldness  and  originality  of  method,  that  suggest  the  dis- 
covery of  a  new  world  of  art.  Such  sketches  are  that  entitled 
"  Joseph's  Dream  "  ("  Fear  not  to  take  Mary  "),  for  instance, 
in  which  an  angel  of  superhuman  stature  leads  Mary  enveloped 
in  rays  of  light,  or  that  strange  study  of  the  Lord  writing 
the  laws  for  Moses  which  is  permeated  with  oriental  mysticism. 
Ivanov's  work  had,  indeed,  the  character  of  a  groping  back 
to  the  sources  of  great  Russian  art.  It  touched  that  sphere 
from  which  the  old  Russian  iconographers  drew  their  inspira- 
tion and  which,  towards  the  end  of  the  century,  was  again 
approached  by  the  most  striking  of  the  Russian  artists  of  the 
latest  period,  Vrubel.  When  Ivanov  tried  to  paint  great 
pictures,  however,  he  seems  to  have  been  paralysed  by  his 
academic  training  and  the  freshness  and  vigour  manifested 


298  Russia  of  the  Russians 

in  his  studies  abandoned  him.  Neither  the  "  Christ  and 
Mary  Magdalene/'  in  the  Alexander  III  Museum,  nor  "  The 
Appearance  of  Christ  to  the  People  "  suffice  to  account  for 
his  growing  reputation. 

Ivanov's  contemporary,  Karl  Briillow,  also  a  son  of  the 
professor  in  the  Academy  of  Arts,  was  the  first  of  Russian 

painters  who  won  fame  in  his  own  country. 
Briillow.        He  was  a  typical  academist,   conventional 

in  manner,  with  great  technical  skill  and 
a  passion  for  brilliant  effects.  He,  too,  studied  in  Rome, 
where  he  rapidly  attained  prominence.  Here  he  painted 
that  immense  picture,  "  The  Last  Day  of  Pompeii,"  which 
now  hangs  in  the  Alexander  III  Museum  and  which,  just 
after  its  completion,  caused  the  Italian  Press  to  rank  its 
author  with  Raphael  and  Michel  Angelo  and  aroused  the 
enthusiasm  of  even  Waiter  Scott.  "On'his  return  to  Russia 
Briillow  had  a  triumphal  reception,  was  feted,  crowned  with 
laurels,  praised  by  Pushkin  •  and  Gogol,  and  overwhelmed 
with  orders.  He  was  made  professor"  in  the  Academy  of 
Arts  and  was  entrusted  with  the  work  of  painting  the  frescoes 
on  the  interior  of  the  cupola  of  St.  Isaac's  Cathedral.  This 
work  illness  compelled  him  to  interrupt,  and  he  died  in  Rome 
in  1852.  His  work  is  most  fully  represented  in  the  Alex- 
ander III  Museum  in  St.  Petersburg,  which  contains  forty- 
seven  of  his  pictures.  Briillow  was  greatly  influenced  by 
Guido  Reni  and  Domenico,  and  also  by  Poussin,  and  his 
dashing  manner,  his  firmness  of  touch  and  his  boldness  of  out- 
line, struck  the  imagination  of  the  Russian  public  of  his  time 
and  aroused  general  interest  in  the  art  of  painting.  His 
technical  skill  had  a  good  effect  in  raising  the  standard  of 
workmanship  in  the  Academy  of  Arts,  which  up  till  then  had 
been  very  low.  In  any  case,  the  place  of  Briillow  in  the  his- 
tory of  Russian  painting  is  an  important  one,  and  although 
of  late  years  it  has  been  the  fashion  to  deride  him,  some 
discerning  critics  are  now  beginning  to  point  out  certain 
valuable  and  original  qualities  in  his  pictures.     For  all  that 


Painting  299 

the  work  of  Briillow  presents  little  more  than  a  local  and 
historical  interest. 

And  then  after  Ivanov  and  Briillow  there  was  again  a 
break;  a  long,  dull  period  of  tendency  art,  or  art' with  a 
purpose.  'Paintinjj^beingx  with_the.{>n£  exception  qi  sculpture, 
the  most^ebly.deyelopeoLoi  alLthe  arts  in  Russia,  it  suffered 
muchjrjiare  than  either  .literature  or  music  from  the  Nihilism 

atjnade  its  appearance  in  the  'sixties.  ''When  art  was 
VeKemently  denied  by  the  most  popular  leaders  of  thought 
in  the  name  of  the  absolute  supremacy  of  science  it  was  a 
marvel  that  anyone  painted  at  all.  But  the  Academy  con- 
tinued to  exist  and  trained  painters,  and  these  painters  had 
to  work  in  an  atmosphere  of  an  insistent  denial  of  art.  On 
the  one  hand,  there  was  the  chilling  influence  of  academic 
routine  which  had  been  reinforced  by  the  success  of  Briillow. 
On  the  other  hand,  the  most  popular  critics  repudiated  direct 
artistic  vision  and  encouraged  an  absorption  in  theories, 
generalisations,  and  ideas.  Employing  academic  methods  the 
painters  of  the  period  tried  to  express  ideas  in  their  pictures, 
or  repressing  the  play  of  fancy  and  the  imagination  to  attain 
what  they  called  "  truth  to  life."  Pictures  must  have  a 
"  subject "  that  could  be  stated  in  words.  They  must  have 
a  moral  or  social  purpose.  They  must  influence  the  mind  of 
the  beholder  in  the  direction  of  a  given  theory.  The  curious 
thing  is  that  this  very  denial  and  distortion  of  pure  art-made 
painting  more  popular.  People  did  not  cease  to  paint.  There 
were  more  painters  than  ever  before,  and  they  induced  a 
steadily  widening  circle  to  look  at  and  admire  their  pictures. 
The  "  Back  to  the  People  "  social  theory  ensured  popularity 
for  pictures  in  which  peasant  life  was  idealised.  A  typical 
picture  of  this  kind  is  that  of  a  teacher  in  a  village  school 
by  Bogdanov-Bielsky,  which  now  hangs  in  the  Alexander  III 
Museum.  Nationalist  influences  played  their  part,  too,  and 
caused  many  painters  to  search  for  subjects  in  Russian  his- 
tory. Kramskoi  was  one  of  the  early  leaders  of  the  move- 
ment, and  Kramskoi  was  a  man  of  keen  intellect  and  deep 


300  Russia  of  the  Russians 

feeling,  yet  most  of  his  work  with  the  exception  of  his  admir- 
able portraits  seems  astonishingly  below  the  real  strength  of 
the  man.  In  a  letter  written  in  1872  to  a  friend,  a  letter 
revealing  the  moral  intensity  which  was  the  finest  element 
in  the  art  of  his  school  and  his  time,  Kramskoi  thus  describes 
the  temper  in  which  he  painted  his  picture  of  "  Christ  in  the 
Wilderness."  "  While  I  was  working  at  it  I  thought  much, 
prayed  much,  and  suffered  much.  Sometimes  of  an  evening 
you  go  for  a  walk,  and  wander  along  over  the  fields,  on  and 
on  you  walk  until  horror  comes  upon  you,  and  then  of  a 
sudden  you  see  a  figure^a  statue.  At  dawn,  weary,  agonised, 
worn  with  suffering,  he  sits  alone  among  the  stones,  sad,  cold 
stones ;  his  hands  spasmodically  and  firmly  clenched, 
his  fingers  pressed  into  his  palms,  his  feet  wounded,  his  head 
sunken.  He  is  plunged  in  thought ;  long  has  he  been  silent, 
so  long  that  his  lips  seem  to  be  baked  dry  ;  his  eyes  take  no 
notice  of  surrounding  objects,  and  only  the  brows  twitch 
from  time  to  time  obedient  to  the  laws  of  muscular  movement. 
He  feels  nothing :  he  does  not  even  feel  that  it  is  a  little 
cold,  does  not  feel  that  all  his  limbs  are  as  though  numbed 
from  sitting  so  long  motionless.  There  is  not  a  movement 
anywhere,  only  on  the  horizon  black  clouds  float  from  the 
East,  and  a  few  stray  hairs  afloat  in  the  air  stand  horizontal 
in  the  breeze.  And  he  is  thinking  and  thinking.  It  grows 
terrible.  How  often  have  I  wept  before  this  figure  !  What 
then  ?  Can  that  be  painted  ?  And  you  ask  yourself  and 
properly  ask,  Can  I  paint  Christ  ?  No,  my  dear  fellow,  I 
cannot,  and  I  could  not  paint  Him  ;  I  did  paint,  and  painted 
until  I  had  put  the  picture  in  a  frame,  painted  until  I  and 
others  had  seen  the  picture.  In  a  word,  I  committed  an  act 
of  profanation,  it  may  be,  but  could  not  but  paint,  I  had  to 
paint.  ...  I  can  say  that  I  painted  Him  with  tears  and 
blood.  But  probably  my  tears  and  my  blood  were  not  of 
quite  good  quality,  for  sometimes  it  seems  to  me  that  what 
I  have  painted  is  little  like  the  figure  I  saw  in  the  night  time, 
and  sometimes  it  seems  as  though  there  were  no  likeness  at  all. 


Painting  301 

In  a  word,  I  have  the  melancholy  consciousness  that  there 
is  no  other  lot  for  me  but  to  paint  the  most  trivial  portraits 
of  ordinary  people — this  is  not  false  humility  and  you  under- 
stand, and  I  hope  will  understand  in  what  sense  I  say  this." 
Altogether  in  reading  Kramskoi's  letters  one  feels  that  he  was 
bigger  and  finer  than  his  own  art. 

The  main  stream  of  the  movement  in  time  acquired  a 
name.  It  was  called  Per edvizknichestvo,  from  the  Peredvizhnia 
Vystavki,  or  movable  exhibitions  which  constituted  the  first 
attempt  to  disseminate  a  knowledge  of  painting  in  the  Empire 
by  giving  the  provincial  towns  an  opportunity  of  seeing  the 
annual  exhibitions  of  the  capitals.  The  popularisation  of 
painting  is  one  of  the  greatest  services  to  Russian  art  rendered 
by  the  Peredvizhniki,  and  perhaps  it  was  only  by  means  of 
the  didactic  pictures,  the  paintings  with  a  subject,  a  pathetic 
scene  or  an  obvious  purpose,  which  formed  the  staple  of  the 
exhibitions  that  the  mass  of  the  public  not  only  in  the  pro- 
vincial towns,  but  also  in  the  capitals  could  have  been  induced 
to  look  at  pictures  at  all.  .  The.  influence  of  the  movement 
is  still  strongly  felt,  and  there  are  hundreds  who  prefer  the 
chromo-lithographic  methods  of  Vladimir  Makovsky  or  the 
sentimentalism  of  Maksimov  to  the  best  work  of  the  later 
schools. 

Even  in  the  worst  periods  there  are  born  artists  whose 
talent  will  out  in  spite  of  themselves  and  of  their  environment. 
The  whole  didactic  movement  was  in  a  curiously  ambiguous 
position.  It  involved  ah  attempt  to  paint  and  not  to  paint 
at  the  same  time,  to  mask,  by  colour  and  line,  a  covert  denial 
of  principles  of  art.  But  such  a  position  was  not  easily 
tenable,  and  even  its  most  determined  defenders,  such  as 
Kramskoi,  were  sometimes  carried  away  by  a  purely  artistic 
impulse  and  painted  with  sincerity  and  vigour.  Veresh- 
chagin,  the  tireless  traveller,  the  musing  spectator  of  ghastly 
battlefields,  the  semi-official  painter  of  the  Steel  and  Iron 
Period  of  the  bureaucracy,  whose  didacticism  took  the  semi- 
official form  of  pacifism  but  was  yet  sincere,  the  depictor  of 


302  Russia  of  the  Russians 

the  horrors  of  war  who,  by  a  strange  irony  of  fate,  met  his 
death  in  the  blowing  up  of  the  Petropavlovsk  in  Port  Arthur 
— Vereshchagin  was  strong  enough  often  to  allow  himself  the 
luxury  of  painting  as  his  heart  moved  him.  But  there  is 
another  much  more  powerful  artist  who  belongs  wholly  to 
the  period  of  the  Peredvizhniki  and  accepted  their  principles 
without  demur,  but  by  the  very  force  and  energy  of  his 
talent  frequently  broke  down  the  barriers  of  his  school. 

Ilia  Riepin  is  a  born  artist.     Of  peasant  birth,  self-taught, 
he  painted  out  of  sheer  high  spirits,  out  of  an  irrepressible 

delight    in    the   mere    process    of   painting. 
Riepin.         He  early  came  under  the  influence  of  the 

chief  authority  of  the  "  art  with  a  pur- 
pose "  movement,  the  critic  Vladimir  Stasov,  and  has  never 
been  able  to  shake  off  the  fetters  of  his  school.  He  is  ham- 
pered by  a  certain  intellectual  inertness.  But  he  was  sharply 
distinguished  from  his  contemporaries,  not  only  by  the  vigour 
of  his  talent,  but  by  his  constant  striving  after  perfection  in 
workmanship.  He  paints  illustrative  pictures,  pictures  with 
a  subject,  pictures  of  popular  life,  but  even  the  illustrative 
or  didactic  purpose  cannot  wholly  repress  Riepin's  imaginative 
energy  or  dim  the  excellence  of  his  workmanship.  His  most 
characteristic  works  are  "  The  Zaporogian  Cossacks,"  in  the 
Alexander  III  Museum,  and  in  the  Tretiakov  Gallery  the 
pictures  of  ,f  The  Haulers,"  and  of  Ivan  the  Terrible  holding 
in  his  arms  the  son  whom  he  had  murdered.  "  The  Haulers  " 
vividly  depicts  a  picturesque  band  of  labourers  on  the  Volga 
and  is  a  striking  specimen  of  the  populist  type  of  picture. 
"  Ivan  the  Terrible  "  is  much  better  painted  than  any  other 
historical  picture  of  the  period,  but  the  agony  of  the  Tsar 
is  too  obtrusively  expressed  to  be  wholly  convincing  now. 
In  fact,  most  of  Riepin's  pictures  now  have  the  unfortunate 
quality  of  attracting  attention  but  failing  to  arouse  any  deep 
emotion,  just  because  the  desire  to  arouse  emotion  is  too 
obvious.  But  several  portraits  of  his  are  of  permanent  value — 
not  that  of  the  barefoot  Tolstoy,  which  is  sentimental  and 


Painting  303 

unreal,  but  those  of  the  composer  Musorgsky  and  some  of 
the  members  of  the  Council  of  the  Empire — and  his  unfailing 
joy  in  his  art  constantly  wages  a  battle,  often  a  successful 
one,  with  the  .defects  he  owed  to  his  school.  Riepin  now 
lives' in  Kuokkala,  just  over  the  Finnish  frontier,  and  occasion- 
ally exhibits.  But  with  the  decline  of  his  vitality  his  defects 
have  grown  more  glaringly  apparent,  and  such  a  picture  as  that 
recent  one  of  a  street  procession  after  the  promulgation  of  the 
Constitution  is  depressing  in  its  lack  of  proportion  and  taste. 

Nicholas  Ge  was  another  artist  who  was  far  better  than 
his  time.     It  is  strange  how  frequently  he  rose  not  only  above      / 

his  environment,  but  above  his  own  defec- 
Gc.  tive    and   careless   workmanship,  for  which 

probably  his  environment  was  in  the  long 
run  chiefly  responsible.  Ge  possessed  a  curious  and  original 
talent,  and,  moreover,  while  he  accepted  generally  the 
ideals  of  the  didactic  school,  he  possessed,  in  contrast  with 
most  of  his  friends  among  the  intelligentsia,  strong  religious 
interests.  It  was  his  religious  interests  that  served  to  liberate 
his  talent  from  the  influence  of  the  dulling  Nihilist  asptect  of 
current  positivism  and  materialism.  He  was  a  friend  of 
Tolstoy's,  sharing  the  great  writer's  enthusiasm  for  *  the 
Gospel,  but  not  his  denial  of  art.  With  all  these  qualities 
he  cultivated  a  stern  realism,  and  this  led  him  to  some  aston- 
ishing results.  His  "  Golgotha,"  for  instance,  which  hangs  in 
the  Luxembourg  in  Paris,  has  in  its  terrible  earnestness  a  tragic 
power  and  intensity  that  is  reminiscent  of  Russian  realism 
in  its  great  moments.  The  realistic  method  is  employed  in 
another  striking  Gospel  picture  in  the  Tretiakov  Gallery 
entitled  "What  is  Truth,"  in  which  an  ascetic  Christ  who 
here,  too,  "  hath  no  form  or  comeliness  that  we  should  desire 
him,"  stands  before  a  stout  and  contemptuous  Pilate.  There 
is  a  study  of  Ivanov's  on  the  same  subject,  and  it  is  interest- 
ing to  compare  the  two,  for  there  is  a  certain  unmistakable 
spiritual  affinity  between  these  artists.  Ge  is,  perhaps,  more 
a  man  of  his  own  period  than  an  isolated  genius  like  Ivanov. 


304  Russia  of  the  Russians 

What  Ge  expressed  seems  to  have  been  the  essentially  religi- 
ous aspiration  which,  in  spite  of  a  vehement  denial  of  religion, 
was  implicit  in  the  positivist  social  effort  of  his  time.  Besides 
that,  Ge  was  a  most  talented  portrait-painter  with  a  fine 
sense  of  colour,  and  such  a  portrait  as  that  of  Mme.  Petrunke- 
vich,  a  lady  standing  at  the  window  of  a  country  house  before 
an  avenue  of  lime-trees,  is  full  of  a  warm  and  delightful 
humanness. 

About  the  beginning  of  the  'nineties  there  were  indications 
of  a  new  movement  in  painting  just  as  there  were  signs  of  a 
change  in  literature.  Certain  artists  grew  weary  of  the  per- 
petual subjugation  of  art  to  various  "  purposes,"  and  tried 
to  free  themselves  from  the  fetters  of  the  didactic  school. 
For  this  change  the  influence  of  Riepin  at  his  best  was  partly 
responsible,  and  Chistiakov,  a  professor  of  the  Academy  of 
Arts,  who  had  an  unrivalled  knowledge  of  the  technique  of 
painting,  a  passion  for  the  Italian  masters,  and  an  exhilarat- 
ing enthusiasm  for  colour  effects,  imparted  his  zest  to  several 
of  his  pupils.  Other  influences  operated,  too — French  im- 
pressionism, the  work  of  Germans  like  Bocklin,  Mensel,  and 
Wilhelm  Leibl,  and  some  subtle  change  in  the  spirit  of  the 
times.  The  movement  of  change  was  a  gradual  one  and  did 
not  gather  strength  until  towards  the  end  of  the  'nineties, 
but  its  final  result  was  to  bring  to  the  front  a  number  of 
first-class  artists,  to  bring  about  a  revolution  in  taste  that 
twenty  years  ago  would  have  seemed  incredible,  and  firmly 
to  establish  painting  as  an  art  in  Russia.  Up  till  about  1908 
the  representatives  of  the  older  school  maintained  a  stubborn 
conflict  with  the  modernists,  but  now  the  conflict  is  practi- 
cally over,  for  the  critics,  with  insignificant  exceptions,  are 
now  wholly  on  the  side  of  the  new  school,  while  some  of  the 
younger  artists  now  consider  even  the  modernists  out  of  date. 
And  one  very  important  result  has  been  effectively  to  repudi- 
ate the  suggestion  the  Museum  of  Alexander  III  seemed 
formerly  to  convey,  that  the  artistic  genius  of  the  Russians 
had  failed  them  when  it  came  to  painting. 


Painting 


305 


The  beginnings  of  the  new  movement  are  closely  associated 
with  the  names  of  the  landscape-painter  Levitan,  the  mar-  ) 
vellous  portrait-painter  Serov,  and  Vrubel,  the  master  of\ 
colour  who  saw  strange  visions.  Through  these  men  and 
their  immediate  successors  the  Russian  spirit  came  to  its 
own.  They  showed  how  to  draw  freely  from  the  wells  of  the 
hidden  thought  of  the  nation.  This  is  most  easily  seen  in 
the  case  of  Levitan,  who  was  not  wholly  of  the  new  move- 
ment and  had  but  a  slight  connection  with  the  old.  He 
gave  an  intimate  interpretation  of  that  landscape  which 
counts  for  so  much  in  the  mental  make-up  of  the  Russian 
people.  And  his  suggestion  of  the  inner  meaning  of  field 
and  forest  and  river  pointed  the  way  out  from  the  narrow 
limits  of  didacticism  and  realism  into  that  broad  world  of 
spiritual  discovery  in  which  the  Russian  people  is  most  truly 
at  home.  Levitan  was  a  friend  of  Chehov's,  and  the  painter 
and  the  writer  had  much  in  common.  Their  work  had  a 
solvent  power.  Both  Chehov's  stories  and  Levitan's  pictures 
created  a  mood,  indefinite  and  dreamy,  but  liberating  by 
reason  of  its  very  contemplativeness.  There  was  nothing 
challenging  in  this  mood.  It  aroused  little  conflict,  and  both 
Levitan  a*hd  Chehov  secured  recognition  during  their  brief 
lifetime.  But  when  the  Russian  public  had  been  drawn 
subtly  into  the  mood,  old  prejudices  gradually  lost  their 
hold,  and  the  way  was  prepared  for  the  new  range  of  ideas 
that  has  transformed  Russian  painting  and  opened  a  new 
period  in  Russian  literature. 

The  Russian  landscape  is  not  monotonous  as  it  may  often 
appear  when  seen  from  the  window  of  a  railway  train.     On 

the  contrary,  it  is  rich,  suggestive,  and  full  of 
Landscape,  variety  and  colour.  The  plain  has  a  fascina- 
tion that  steadily  grows  as  it  little  by  little 
reveals  its  manifold  beauties.  What  moves  most  deeply  is  . 
the  sense  of  limitless  space,  and  then  with  this  sense  gradually 
mingle  the  colour  and  scent  and  sound  and  gleam  of  the 
passing  seasons — the  sudden   and  tumultuous  outburst  of 


306  Russia  of  the  Russians 

brilliant  green  in  the  spring,  the  dark  and  unchanging  pine- 
forests  relieved  by  slim  trunks  of  birches  with  leaves  bright 
and  joyously  waving  ;  the  unfenced  fields  of  tall  and  swaying 
rye  and  all  the  wealth  and  glory  of  the  summer,  the  far- 
flowing  rivers  with  tall  sails  of  barges  or  a  steamer  rounding 
a  distant  bend,  the  long  line  of  a  village  on  the  crest  of  a  hill, 
a  lake  gleaming  in  the  sun  and  reflecting  a  gallant  and  endless 
procession  of  clouds  in  a  fathomless  sky,  a  white  church  or 
monastery  half  concealed  on  the  border  of  forest  and  meadow, 
air  that  is  all  light  poured  forth  unceasingly ;  the  bright 
green  of  spring  and  summer  yielding  to  the  glowing  and  golden 
triumph  of  an  autumn  hushed  and  at  rest  in  completed 
effort ;  and  then  the  long  winter  with  its  subtler  and  more 
remote  beauty  of  snow  and  sky,  and  the  sighing  of  winds 
from  the  end  of  the  world,  and  enfolding  silences.  In  the 
south  of  Russia  there  is  the  beauty  of  the  steppes  covered 
with  wild-flowers  in  spring,  that  wide-rolling,  uplifting  ex- 
panse that  moved  Gogol  to  cry  when  words  failed  him, 
"  Damn  it  all,  how  lovely  you  are,  you  steppes  I  "  And  the 
north  has  in  May  and  June  its  white  nights  that  are  not  so 
beautiful  in  the  city  where  their  pale  light  falls  on  dead 
masses  of  stone  and  deserted  squares,  but  beyond  the  city 
gates  where  forest  and  river  and  sleeping  village  become  the 
ghostly  substance  of  a  dream,  and  where  on  the  distant 
horizon  the  sunset  glows  only  a  hand's  breadth  away  from 
the  mounting  dawn. 

Levitan  entered  into  the  spirit  of  the  scenery  of  Northern 
and    Central    Russia.    There   had   been    landscape-painters 

before  him.     Silvester  Shchedrin,  who  lived 
Levitan.        in  Italy  in  the  twenties  of  the  last  century, 

has  left  beautiful  Italian  landscapes.  Venet- 
sianov  and  his  followers  treated  the  tender  and  more  idyllic 
aspects  of  Russian  scenery.  Shishkin  was  a  realist,  con- 
scientious, laborious,  and  dull,  but  his  faithful  study  of  nature 
had  a  useful  effect  on  the  development  of  Russian  landscape- 
painting.  .  Kuindzhi,  who  died  two  or  three  years  ago,  and 


Painting  307 

several  of  whose  pictures  hang  in  the  Tretiakov  Gallery,  had 
his  moments  of  discernment,  boldness,  and  power,  though 
his  methods  were  conventional.  Levitan  found  a  way  of  his 
own  of  expressing  the  intimate  beauty  of  Russian  landscape. 
He  was  not  a  Russian  by  race.  He  was  the  son  of  a  Jewish 
teacher  who  made  a  bare  living  by  giving  lessons.  But  he 
grew  up  in  Moscow  in  and  around  which  the  Russian  spirit 
is  at  its  strongest,  and  he  proved  remarkably  sensitive  to 
Russian  influence.  Even  the  spirit  of  the  Orthodox  Church 
affected  him,  and  it  is  related  that  he  would  often  slip  quietly 
into  a  village  church  during  evening  service  and  listen  to  the 
singing.  He  was  trained  in  the  'seventies  in  the  Moscow 
School  of  Painting,  Sculpture,  and  Architecture,  and  in  spite 
of  his  extreme  poverty  distinguished  himself  as  a  pupil. 
Naturally  he  at  first  yielded  to  the  influence  of  the  dominant 
school  and  especially  of  Shishkin.  But  Polienov,  a  pupil  of 
the  St.  Petersburg  professor  Chistiakov,  whose  teaching  had 
a  stimulating  effect  on  a  number  of  Moscow  artists,  suggested 
to  him  a  new  attitude  towards  the  treatment  of  light.  The 
friendship  of  other  talented  artists,  Korovin,  Serov,  and 
Ostrouhov,  a  residence  at  Plios  on  the  Volga  above  Nizhni- 
Novgorod,  journeys  abroad,  more  especially  a  visit  to  Paris 
during  the  exhibition  of  1889,  deepened  his  artistic  sensitive- 
ness and  led  him  to  new  discoveries  in  craftsmanship.  His 
early  pictures  were  not  accepted  by  the  committee  of  the 
Movable  Exhibitions,  but  from  1888  until  the  end  of  the 
'nineties  his  pictures  were  hung  annually  by  this  the  most 
influential  arbiter  of  that  day.  The  freshness  and  originality 
of  his  work  attracted  general  attention,  and  the  fact  that  in 
some  of  the  best  of  his  pictures  exhibited  in  the  early  'nineties 
traces  of  the  influence  of  the  "  art  with  a  purpose  "  school 
are  to  be  seen  in  a  certain  insistence  on  effective  aspects  in 
landscape,  made  Levitan  all  the  more  acceptable  to  a  public 
accustomed  to  striking  pictorial  effects.  His  picture  entitled 
"  A  Quiet  Habitation,"  showing  a  monastery  on  a  river-bank 
under   the   shadow  of   a   forest,    and   another   well-known 


308  Russia  of  the  Russians 

picture,  "  Eternal  Peace," — showing  a  little  wooden  church 
with  wooden  crosses  over  a  few  graves  on  a  headland  on  the 
Volga,  and  before  it  the  sweep  of  waters,  above  the  expanse 
of  the  sky, — are  examples  of  this  manner.  Later  Levitan 
used  his  gift  of  poetic  intuition  in  revealing  the  beauty  of 
the  most  ordinary  scenes,  he  cultivated  a  greater  reserve  of 
manner,  a  power  to  express  intimate  beauty  by  the  simplest 
means.  "  Spring,"  "  Summer,"  "  Autumn,"  "  Winter,"  the 
names  of  these  later  pictures  and  studies  mean  little,  the 
pictures  speak  for  themselves.  Levitan  may  almost  be  said 
to  have  discovered  the  beauty  of  Russian  scenery.  One  of 
the  most  distinguished  of  living  artists  and  critics,  Alexander 
Benoit,  has  declared  that  it  was  only  after  the  appearance 
of  Levitan's  pictures  that  he  began  to  believe  in  the  charm 
of  nature  in  Russia.  Levitan  was  a  poet  with  a  fine  sense 
of  the  music  of  colour  and  line,  and  the  effect  of  his  work 
has  been  gently  to  lead  on  into  a  new  world  of  natural  beauty 
in  which  there  is  nearly  always  a  tinge  of  sadness.  He  en- 
joyed success  during  his  lifetime,  but  he  was  restless  in  his 
forward  movement,  chafed  under  the  bonds  of  the  prevailing 
school,  and  gladly  welcomed  the  innovators  who  made  their 
appearance  towards  the  end  of  the  'nineties.  Death  prevented 
his  throwing  in  his  lot  entirely  with  the  new  movement.  He 
passed  away  in  1900  at  the  age  of  forty.  A  characteristic 
saying  of  his  was,  that  it  is  the  ideal  of  a  landscape-painter 
to  render  his  mentality  so  sensitive,  as  to  hear  the  very  grass 
growing. 

Levitan's  friend,  Valentin  Serov,  who  died  in  1911,  was 
the  best  portrait-painter  of  his  time  in  Russia,  and  one  of 

the  best  in  Europe.     He  went  his  own  way 
S£roy.  from  the  very  beginning.     His   portrait    of 

Mile.  Mamontova,  exhibited  in  Moscow  in 
1887,'  when  he  was  only  twenty-two  years  old,  aroused 
amazement  by  its  vividness,  its  originality,  and  its  brilliant 
technique.  And  from  year  to  year  since  that  time  his 
portraits  have  given  sure,  unfailing,  and  constantly  deepening 


Painting  309 

pleasure.  His  work  convinces  and  delights.  It  is  at  once 
severely  true  and  serenely  beautiful.  S6rov  never  flattered 
his  sitters,  never  tried  to  flatter  them.  He  was,  in  fact, 
rather  inclined  to  emphasise  their  weak  points,  and  his 
portraits  often  contain  a  faint  element  of  irony.  This  irony 
is  in  itself  a  relief  from  the  sentimentalism,  the  merely  ex- 
ternal realism  of  the  earlier  school.  Yet  his  portraits  are 
very  real,  very  living.  They  startle  by  their  revelation  of 
the  singular  beauty  of  mere  vitality.  The  sitters  are  often 
very  ordinary  people,  neither  particularly  handsome  nor 
particularly  ugly.  But  Serov  discovers  the  special  and  per- 
sonal way  in  which  they  concentrate  and  express  the  invin- 
cibly beautiful  process  called  life.  Their  personality  is  inter- 
preted in  relation  to  beauty.  Sometimes  the  interpretation 
is  merciless,  and  the  striking  portrait  of  the  dancer,  Ida 
Rubinstein,  which  now  hangs  in  the  Alexander  III  Museum, 
is  almost  vindictive  in  the  severity  of  its  criticism. 

S6rov  was  the  son  of  the  well-known  composer  who  died 
when  the  boy  was  eight  years  old.  Two  years  afterwards  in 
Paris  he  made  the  acquaintance  of  Riepin  who  took  great 
interest  in  S6rov  and  secured  his  admission  to  the  St.  Peters- 
burg Academy  at  the  early  age  of  fifteen.  There  he  studied 
under  Professor  Chistiakov,  whose  erudition  and  enthusiasm 
counted  for  a  great  deal  in  Serov's  development.  But  he 
revolted  against  academic  routine  and  left  without  completing 
his  course.  His  association  with  the  family  of  the  Moscow 
manufacturer  Mamontov,  a  man  of  broad  culture  and  an 
ardent  patron  of  painting,  music;  and  the  drama,  had  a  strong 
educative  influence  on  S6rov.  The  result  of  his  varied  training 
was  that  he  acquired  that  imprint  of  fine  general  culture  which 
is  characteristic  of  most  of  the  Russian  artists  of  the  latest 
period.  He  was  a  man  of  great  sincerity,  abhorred  all  forms 
of  compromise,  valued  liberty  above  all  things,  and  was  con- 
sistently true  to  himself  and  to  his  talent.  The  Peredvizhniki 
did  not  recognise  Sdrov's  talent  until  towards  the  end  of  the 
'nineties  when  he  had  far  outgrown  them.     He  became  one  of 


310  .  Russia  of  the  Russians 

the  leaders  among  the  new  school  of  artists  grouped  around 
the  review  Mir  Iskusstva  (The  World  of  Art),  and  by  this  group 
he  was  honoured  as  a  guide  and  a  master.  His  early  death 
at  the  age  of  forty-six  was  felt  as  an  irreparable  loss.  A 
great  many  of  his  best  portraits  are  privately  owned,  but 
some  are  to  be  seen  in  the  public  galleries.  The  Alexander 
III  Museum  has  portraits  of  the  Princess  Orlova  and  the 
painter's  father,  the  composer  Alexander  S£rov,  as  well  as  a 
number  of  studies  for  theatrical  decorations,  and  S6rov's 
work  is  well,  represented  in  the  Tretiakov  Gallery  of  the 
Advisory  Council,  of  which  he  was  for  many  years  a  member. 
S6rov  as  an  admirable  portrait-painter  belongs  wholly  to 
the  world  of  Western  European  art,  and  there  is  little  in  him 

that  is  distinctively  Russian  except,  perhaps, 
Vrubel.  the  quality  of  his  irony.  He  was  one  of  those 
painters  who  by  virtue  of  broad  culture 
and  fine  workmanship  maintained  and  developed  a  rich 
vital  connection  with  Western  tradition  and  influence. 
Vrubel,  the  friend  of  Levi  tan  and  S£rov,  and  the  most  inter- 
esting and  the  most  perplexing  of  modern  Russian  painters, 
was  an  artist  of  a  very  different  character.  He  was  of  Polish 
origin,  and  his  work  is  more  pronouncedly  Russian  than  that 
of  many  painters  who  are  Russian  by  birth,  just  as  the  Jew 
Levitan  displayed  a  peculiar  sensitiveness  to  the  inner  mean- 
ing of  Russian  landscape.  But  Vrubel  was  born  in  Kiev, 
where  the  Byzantine  tradition  of  the  Russians  and  not  the 
Latin  tradition  of  the  Poles  has  the  strongest  hold.  He 
studied  classical  philology  at  the  St.  Petersburg  University, 
and  by  education,  though  not  in  instinct  and  manner,  he  was 
a  Russian.  Perhaps  the  very  fact  of  non-Russian  origin 
accounts  for  a  heightened  sensitiveness  to  certain  distinc- 
tively Russian  impressions.  At  any  rate,  Vrubel's  interest 
turned  towards  the  ecclesiastical  origins  of  Russia,  and  during 
a  residence  in  Italy  he  made  a  special  study  of  the  Byzantine 
frescoes  and  mosaics  in  Ravenna.  In  the  early  stages  of  his 
career  he  was  greatly  influenced  by  the  work  of  Alexander 


MICHAEL   VEUBEL 


Painting  311 

Ivanov,  whose  mysticism  and  Orientalism  were  peculiarly 
attractive  to  him.  He  was  engaged,  together  with  the  artist 
Victor  Vasnetsov,  to  paint  frescoes  on  the  walls  of  the  Cathe- 
dral of  St.  Vladimir  in  Kiev,  but  the  officials  in  charge  of  the 
work  looked  on  Vrubel  with  disfavour,  and  not  one  of  his 
studies  found  a  place  on  the  walls.  Vrubel's  suggestions 
are  said,  however,  to  have  been  of  great  value  to  Vasnetsov, 
who  was  a  capable  artist,  and  in  an  .attempt  to  revive  ecclesi- 
astical art  has  done  some  interesting  work  which  might  have 
been  more  valuable  had  he  not  so  quickly  fallen  into  sub- 
jection to  conventional  influences.  In  the  museum  at  Kiev 
there  is  a  remarkable  sketch  of  Vrubel's  for  the  St.  Vladimir 
frescoes  representing  the  Resurrection.  The  sketch  is  full 
of  a  strange  spirit  of  asceticism  mingled  with  a  remote,  barely 
perceptible  ecstasy.  The  figure  of  Christ  is  conceived  in  the 
stern,  unearthly  Byzantine  temper,  the  character  of  the  halo 
encircling  a  shining  cross  is  suggestive  of  Ivanov,  while  the 
angels  on  either  side  are  thoroughly  Oriental.  Vrubel's  fate 
resembles  that  of  Ivanov  in  that  the  best  of  his  work  consists 
of  unfinished  or  undeveloped  sketches  and  studies.  But 
these  sketches  and  studies  display  such  an  extraordinarily 
and  original  genius,  such  a  rich  play  of  fancy,  such  a  fine 
sensitiveness  to  spiritual  discords  suggestive  of  unattainable 
harmonies,  that  one  hardly  regrets  that  he  was  unable  to 
bring  his  work  to  completion.  Perhaps  its  very  incomplete- 
ness is  one  of  the  essential  features  of  such  allusive,  such 
highly-strained  work  as  that  of  Vrubel.  Much  of  his  energy 
was  expended  on  purely  decorative  effects,  on  endlessly 
curious  combinations  of  line  and  colour,  which  in  their  sheer 
delightful  purposelessness  form  as  sharp  a  contrast  as  any- 
thing that  could  be  imagined  to  the  superficial  realism  of  the 
earlier  school. 

The  most  striking  picture  of  Vrubel's,  the  picture  by  which 
his  name  will  always  be  remembered,  is  "  The  Demon,"  in 
the  Tretiakov  Gallery.  This  picture  was  hung  at  the  "  World 
of  Art  "  Exhibition  in  1906,  which  marked  a  turning-point  in 

21— (240O) 


312  Russia  of  the  Russians 

the  attitude  of  the  general  public  towards  the  new  school  and 
presaged  its  final  victory.  Vrubel  was  suffering  at  that  time 
from  the  mental  trouble  which  clouded  his  later  days,  and 
in  his  sad  delirium  he  used  to  go  down  to  the  exhibition  and 
retouch  his  picture  again  and  again.  The  work  bears  unmis- 
takable traces  of  this  treatment ;  there  is  insanity  in  the 
eyes  of  the  demon,  and  perhaps  it  was  the  effort  of  giving 
form  to  his  tremendous  conception  that  overtaxed  the  artist's 
faculties.  It  is  curious  that  he  should  have  chosen  such  a 
subject,  curious,  and  very  characteristic  of  the  tendency  of 
Russian  art  to  return  at  certain  stages  to  the  world  of  Eastern 
mysticism.  Byron  wrote  of  "  a  woman  wailing  for  her  demon 
lover."  The  phrase  impressed  the  Russian  poet  Lermontov. 
In  the  atmosphere  of  Eastern  legend  that  surrounds  the 
towering  mountains  of  the  Caucasus  Lermontov  developed 
the  suggestion  and  produced  his  finest  poem  "  The  Demon," 
which  tells  of  the  tragic  love  of  a  proud,  solitary,  world- 
weary  demon  for  the  daughter  of  a  Georgian  chieftain.  Vrubel, 
whose  imagination  most  readily  responded  to  the  call  of  the 
East',  seems  to  have  felt  an  influence  even  more  thrilling  and 
profound  than  that  suggested  by  the  fierce  intensity  of  Ler- 
montov's  description  of  the  demon  aimlessly  winging  his 
hopeless  way  around  the  peaks  of  the  Caucasus.  The  picture 
stands  as  an  acutely  distressing  and  amazingly  beautiful 
record  of  what  he  felt.  The  unspeakably  tragic  face  of  the 
demon,  gazing  out  from  amidst  a  confused  mass  of  cloud  and 
wing,  the  shimmering  of  pale  colour,  the  light  that  has  lost 
the  joy  of  light,  the  subtlety  of  the  symbolical  details  of  the 
hundreds  of  restless  curves  and  folds  in  the  feathers  and  the 
clouds — the  picture  is  a  last  conquest  of  beauty  over  despair. 
Vrubel  did  not  recover  his  reason  and  died  two  years  after 
this  picture  was  first  exhibited. 

Levitan,  S£rov,  and  Vrubel  were  liberators.  Their  work 
as  it  gradually  accumulated  before  the  public  eye  made  work 
of  the  older  type  almost  impossible.  There  was  a  fierce 
struggle  between  the  new  school  and  the  old.    The  leading 


Painting  313 

critic  of  the  older  school,  Vladimir  Stasov,  would  have  nothing 
to  do  with  the  innovators,  but  the  innovators  had  on  their 
side  great  resources.  They  were  not  only  talented  artists, 
but  cultivated  men.  The  foundation  by  MM.  Serge  Diagilev 
and  Filosofov  of  the  review,  Mir  Iskusstva  (The  World  of 
Art),  in  1898,  gave  a  great  impetus  to  the  new  movement 
and  brought  it  into  close  connection  with  the  corresponding 
movement  in  literature.  Polemical  articles,  accounts  of  the 
latest  developments  in  Western  art,  studies  in  Russian  pea- 
sant and  ecclesiastical  art,  together  with  admirable  repro- 
ductions, and  verse  and  prose  calculated  to  arouse  greater 
sensitiveness  to  all  the  finer  forms  of  art  made  the  review  a 
most  effective  organ  of  attack  on  prevailing  conservatism. 
The  review  ceased  publication  in  1904.  Its  work  was  partly 
continued  by  Briusov's  organ  Viesy  (The  Scales),  and  partly 
by  the  Zolotoe  Runo  (Golden  Fleece),  an  expensive  illus- 
trated organ  published  in  Russian  and  French  in  Moscow 
from  1906  to  1908.  The  only  illustrated  art  review  existing 
at  present  is  the  Apollon,  published  in  St.  Petersburg,  which 
soberly  treads  the  paths  opened  up  with  so  much  daring  and 
energy  by  the  Mir  Iskusstva. 

The  artists  grouped  around  the  Mir  Iskusstva  formed  a  society 
of  their  own  for  exhibition  purposes.  Then  this  society  split 
up  and  reformed,  and  disappeared  and  reappeared,  so  that 
there  are  now  several  societies  which  include  artists  repre- 
senting the  new  movement.  And,  indeed,  the  movement  is 
no  longer  new.  It  is  generally  recognised.  It  holds  the 
field.  Those  of  its  pioneers  who  are  still  alive  are  now  the 
most  highly  honoured  artists  in  Russia.  The  principle  they 
so  insistently  advocated,  the  principle  of  individual  liberty 
of  expression,  has  become  a  commonplace  to  the  extent  that 
a  small  group  of  Futurists  now  receives  a  tolerant  hearing. 
And  there  are  signs  of.  a  reverse  process ;  some  of  the  pioneers 
of  individualism  are  suggesting  the  necessity  of  a  new  standard, 
a  new  canon  of  painting. 

In  any  case,  the  result    of  the    liberative  movement   in 


A 


314 


Russia  of  the  Russians 


painting  has  been  to  bring  to  the  front  a  very  large  number 
of  talented  artists.  There  are  at  present  so  many  artists  in 

Russia  who  paint  good  pictures  that  an  exhibi- 

Thc  New       tion  Q£  tke  modern  school  is  rarely  disappoint- 
Movement.  «*  fr    . 

mg.     Something  is  very  perceptibly  lacking 

now  that  Vrubel  and  S£rov  have  passed  away,  but  on  the  part 

of  those  who  remain  there  is  a  great  variety  of  interesting 

effort.     One  of  the  great  advantages  of  the  new  school  is  the 

free  play  it  gives  to  individual  talent.     So  many  diverse  forms 

of   effort   are   represented   here.    There   are,   for   instance, 

historical  painters  of  varying  types  eager  to  discover  and 

reveal  the  beauty  of  the  past  of  Russia.    The  new  movement 

in  historical  painting  began  in  the  late  'eighties  with  Victor 

Vasnetsov  and  Surikov,  the  latter  of  whom  was  particularly 

successful  in  the  employment  of  new  technical  methods  to 

express  his  deep  poetic  sense  of  the  meaning  of  the  past. 

Well-known   pictures  of  Surikov's  are  "  The  Conquest   of 

Siberia  by  Yermak  and  the  Cossacks,"  in  the  Alexander  III 

Museum,  and  that  of  the  "  Boyarina  Morozova,"  who  was 

persecuted  for  her  support  of  the  Old  Believers,  in  the  Tretiakov 

Gallery.    Some  critics  note  affinities  between  Surikov  and 

Dostoievsky,  and  Surikov's  work  is  certainly  iar  r^rnrxy^Ajrrm 

anything  in  the  nature  of  conventional  and  official  historical 

painting.     M.  Nesteror  at 'one  time  gave"  promise  of  being  a 

penetrating  and  original  painter  of  traditional  Russia,  but 

when  he  mentally  submitted  to  tradition  instead  of  remaining 

simply  a  sympathetic  observer  he  became  conventional  and 

sentimental  in  his  treatment.    A  good  example  of  his  early 

work  is  seen  in  "  The  Hermit  "  in  the  Tretiakov  Gallery,     His 

later  manner  is  represented  by  a  number  of  pictures  in  the 

Alexander  III  Museum. 

The  delight  in  Russian  scenes  and  Russian  tradition  is 

expressed  more  intensely  by  several  artists  who  represent  a 

later  stage  of  the  new  movement,  and  do  not  attempt  to 

observe  realistic  principles.     Ivan  Bilibin  is  attracted  by  the 

style  of  popular  art,  by  the  queer  conventionalised  figures  to 


Painting  315 

be  found  in  old  chap-books,  or  carved  or  painted  on  the  old- 
fashioned  wooden  vessels  of  the  peasantry.  He  excels  in  the 
illustration  of  fairy-tales  and  in  the  humorous  presentation 
of  various  scenes  from  Russian  mythology.  Like  all  the 
artists  of  the  new  school  he  has  joined  ardently  in  the  move- 
ment for  raising  theatrical  decorations  to  the  level  of  fine  art. 

Nicholas  Roehrich  is  at  once  an  archaeologist  and  an  artist 
possessed  of  a  fine  sense  of  fitness  in  style.  The  scenes  over 
which  he  broods  in  imagination  as  an  archaeologist,  scenes 
of  the  coming  of  the  Vikings  over  the  northern  waters,  of  an 
enclosure  for  idols  in  pre-historic  Russia,  of  some  Russian 
maiden  of  ancient  days  dreaming  of  her  lover  on  a  hillside, 
he  presents  with  a  quaint  assumption  of  conventionalised 
outline  and  colouring  that  is  reminiscent  of  old  tapestries, 
but  does  not  conceal  a  very  warm  and  living  artistic  interest 
in  the  distant  past. 

An  eager  interest  in  the  real  Russia  as  it  is  to-day  is  evinced 
by  that  powerful  and  original  artist,  Maliavin,  whose  pictures 
of  Russian  peasant  women  are  simply  astonishing  in  their 
glow  of  colour  and  their  turbulence  of  animal  spirits. 

In  St.  Petersburg  there  is  a  group  of  artists  who  are  attracted 
not  so  much  by  the  distant  past  of  Russia  as  by  the  com- 
paratively near  past  of  the  eighteenth  and  the  early  nine- 
teenth century.  E.  Lanceret  has  painted  very  pleasant 
pictures  of  the  Empress  Elizabeth  and  of  a  naval  inspection 
in  the  reign  of  Peter  the  Great.  M.  Dobuzhinsky,  a  talented 
Lithuanian  from  Vilna,  has  a  good  picture  of  Peter  the  Great 
shipbuilding,  but  his  best  work  consists  in  a  presentation  of 
the  cold,  hard  spirit  of  machinery,  in  laying  bare  the  skeleton 
of  the  modern  town.  Dobuzhinsky  also  has  some  quaint 
scenes  from  old  by-streets  in  Vilna  and  some  very  good 
portraits. 

An  artist  of  great  influence  and  authority  in  St.  Petersburg 
is  Alexander  Benois,  who  may  be  called  the  leader  of  the  St. 
Petersburg  group.  Benois  rarely  deals  with  Russian  subjects, 
although  the  past  of  Russia  has  not  altogether  escaped  the 


316  Russia  of  the  Russians 

range  of  his  extraordinary  productivity.  His  congenial 
sphere  is  eighteenth  century  France,  more  especially  the 
Versailles  of  Louis  XIV,  to  which  he  returns  year  after  year 
with  the  same  unfailing  tenderness  of  retrospective  imagina- 
tion. In  numberless  water-colour  pictures  he  recalls  all  the 
dreamy  and  pleasant  nooks,  the  green  bowers,  the  sleeping 
ponds  of  that  distant  haven  of  repose.  Benois  is  an  art 
critic  of  knowledge  and  discernment,  and  he  first  distinguished 
himself  by  writing,  while  yet  a  student  at  the  St.  Petersburg 
University,  an  account  of  Russian  art  for  the  History  of  Art 
by  the  well-known  German  critic,  Richard  Muther.  Benois 
took  a  prominent  piart  in  the  battles  fought  around  the  Mir 
Iskusstva,  and  has  constantly  championed  the  new  movement 
in  the  press.  Of  late  years  he  has  been  in  great  demand  as 
a  designer  of  scenery  and  costumes  for  the  theatre,  and  he 
has  been  engaged  as  chief  adviser  on  questions  of  decorative 
art  to  the  Moscow  Art  Theatre. 

Konstantin  Somov  is  another  St.  Petersburg  painter  who 
is  attracted  by  eighteenth  century  France.  But  his  work 
has  not  the  dreamy  contemplativeness  of  Benois.  There  is 
something  bitter  in  his  brilliant  and  concentrated  statement 
of  the  splendour  of  the  pre-revolutionary  period.  His  work 
resembles  a  series  of  cameos  in  its  minuteness  of  finish,  its 
fineness  of  proportion,  and  its  extraordinary  vividness  of 
detail.  And  throughout  his  paintings,  in  his  boudoirs,  his 
trim  avenues,  his  covert  meetings  in  cool  by-^ays,  there  is  an 
implicit  and  subtle  satire  upon  the  confused  and  ungainly 
present,  an  acrid  assertion  of  the  claims  of  an  artificial  world. 
As  a  portrait-painter  Somov  is  only  to  be  compared  with 
Serov,  and  his  portrait  of  his  father,  for  many  years  Curator 
of  the  Collections  in  the  Hermitage,  is  a  masterpiece.  Strangely 
enough,  the  curious  bitterness  that  marks  so  many  of  Somov's 
eighteenth  century  studies  disappears  in  his  portraits. 

Ivor  Grabar  is  a  scholar-artist  of  wide  and  precise  learning, 
who,  after  exhibiting  a  number  of  pictures  that  displayed  an 
unusual  mastery  of  light  (effects — one  picture  entitled  "  Hoar 


Painting  317 

Frost  "  may  be  particularly  instanced, — has  devoted  himself 
to  the  publication  of  a  History  of  Russian  Art  in  several 
volumes,  and  to  the  congenial  work  of  criticism  and  selection 
involved  in  his  present  position  as  one  of  the  curators  of  the 
Tretiakov  Gallery. 

The  work  of  the  decorative  artists,  Golovin,  Bakst,  and 
Sudeikin,  has  attracted  widespread  attention  because  of  the 
brilliant  results  they  have  achieved  in  the  sphere  of  theatrical 
decoration.  It  was  only  the  new  movement  with  its  com- 
plete emancipation  from  conventional  subject  and  purpose 
and  its  assertion  of  the  principle  of  liberty  of  expression  that 
made  possible  the  play  of  fancy,  the  roving  alertness  to  varied 
suggestion  which  led  to  a  revival  of  purely  decorative  art. 
In  this  particular  sphere  Russian  art  has  made  real  discoveries. 

There  is  one  artist,  who  died  in  1910  after  a  very  brief 
career,  and  who  stands  apart  from  nearly  all  his  contem- 
poraries in  his  whole  manner  of  expression.  This  is  Chur- 
lianis, a  young  Lithuanian  musician  and  painter,  whose 
attempts  to  give  colour  and  outline  to  musical  suggestions 
form  an  interesting  parallel  with  the  composer  Skriabin's 
achievement  in  writing  a  colour  symphony  corresponding  to 
his  symphony  of  music.  Born  in  1875  in  a  little  town  near 
Vilna,  the  son  of  a  church  organist,  Churlianis  was  enabled, 
with  the  aid  of  a  local  magnate,  Prince  Ogninsky,  to  study  at 
the  Warsaw  and  afterwards  at  the  Leipzig  Conservatory. 
Shortly  after  completing  his  musical  studies  he  began  to 
paint,  and  his  paintings  took  the  form  of  harmonies  of  colour 
full  of  musical  suggestion.  This  work  attracted  the  attention 
of  St.  Petersburg  artists,  especially  of  the  artist's  compatriot 
Dobuzhinsky.  Churlianis  moved  from  Warsaw  to  St.  Peters- 
burg in  1909.  His  pictures  were  exhibited  in  the  Russian 
capital  and  aroused  wonder  and  a  novel  kind  of  pleasure. 
There  was  no  definite  subject  in  these  pictures.  No  one 
could  possibly  say  what  they  were  all  about,  but  the  remark- 
able thing  was  that  through  the  medium  of  a  subtle  play  of 
colour,  of  suns,  seas,  fragments  of  rock,  rainbows,  archways, 


y 


r- 


318  Russia  of  the  Russians 

shadowy  and  fantastic  figures  all  mingling  in  apparent  in- 
definiteness,  floating  in  ethereal  transparence,  they  did 
actually  convey  a  genuinely  musical  expression,  soothing, 
delighting,  and  strangely  appealing.  Even  the  profane  in 
matters  of  art  felt  the  charm  and  there  was  no  outcry  against 
Churlianis  as  there  was  against  some  of  the  Russian  repre- 
sentatives of  post-impressionism  who  made  their  appearance 
about  the  same  time.  In  St.  Petersburg  Churlianis  began  to 
develop  his  musical  suggestions  in  more  complex  imaginative 
forms,  and  in  the  fantastic  and  dream-like  beauty  of  "  The 
Rider  "  (on  the  pale  horse),  which  was  exhibited  the  year 
before  his  death,  he  seems  to  have  united  powerful  musical 
suggestiveness  with  greater  boldness  and  definiteness  of  pictorial 
expression.  But  as  was  the  case  with  Vrubel,  with  whom 
Churlianis  has  some  affinity,  for  there  was  a  strongly  musical 
element  in  Vrubel's  work,  the  artist's  reason  failed  to  endure 
the  strain  of  listening  to  and  watching  for  the  beauty  on  the 
borderland  of  two  worlds.  He  died  in  1910  in  a  hospital  for 
the  mentally  diseased.  Churlianis1  work  is  beautiful  in  itself, 
and  is  particularly  interesting  in  its  detailed  suggestion  of 
correspondences  between  sound  and  colour,  and  in  its  indica- 
tion of  some  more  remote  and  subtle  possibilities  of  expression 
than  those  hitherto  attained. 

A  score  of  other  names  might  be  mentioned — Korovin, 
who  like  Serov  was  one  of  the  pioneers  of  the  new  movement 
in  Moscow,  Borisov-Musatov,  the  hunchback  dreamer,  whose 
ideal  of  beauty  was  the  Russian  country  house  with  a  garden, 
an  avenue,  and  a  bevy  of  gracious  maidens ,  the  later  land- 
scape-painters, Rylov  and  Perepletchikov,  Bogaievsky,  the 
genre-painter  Kustodiev,  who  delights  in  the  contrasts  and 
harmonies  of  colour  in  Russian  village  life,  and  many  more 
besides.  But  the  mere  recital  of  the  capacities  and  qualitie  i 
of  these  artists  would  present  few  novel  or  distinctive  features 
Given  the  principle  of  fundamental  liberty,  the  example  of 
the  leaders  of  the  new  movement,  and  a  number  of  clever 
painters  who  are  sensitive  to  all  the  movements  in  the  West, 


Painting  319 

a  great  many  good  pictures  are  bound  to  be  produced.  The 
standard  is  higher  in  Russia  now  than  it  has. ever  been,  and 
this  is  true  not  only  of  the  artists  but  of  the  public  as  well. 
The  Art  Schools,  the  Academy  of  Arts,  the  Moscow  School  of 
Painting,  Architecture  and  Sculpture  train  every  year  scores 
of  young  artists,  a  certain  proportion  of  whom  become  mere 
routine  workers,  while  others  eagerly  press  forward,  make 
experiments,  form  parties,  are  "  left  "  in  the  sense  of  being 
progressive,  or  "  extreme  left  "  in  the  sense  of  returning  be- 
yond the  primitives,  finding  inspiration  in  the  art  of  cave- 
dwellers,  or  else  becoming  Cubists  or  Futurists.  Many  go 
abroad  for  training  in  the  schools  of  Paris  and  Munich  and 
come  back  full  of  new  ideas  and  new  methods.  Foreign  in- 
fluences are  strongly  felt,  particularly  the  influence  of  Paris 
art  fashions,  but  Russian  painting  has  now  attained  a  posi- 
tion of  such  independence,  of  such  inherent  vigour  that  it 
easily  assimilates  foreign  influences  -without  any  loss  to 
national  individuality.  The  one  English  artist  who  has  had 
an  appreciable  influence  in  Russia  is  Aubrey  Beardsley. 
There  are  many  exhibitions  every  year,  in  the  later  part  of 
the  winter  and  in  the  spring,  exhibitions  of  the  Academy  and 
the  Union  of  Artists  and  of  the  Mir  Iskusstva  Society,  of  the 
New  Society  of  Artists,  and  of  other  societies  representing 
various  phases  of  the  new  movement.  The  centres  of  Russian 
art  are  St.  Petersburg,  Moscow  and  Kiev,  and  many  of  the 
pictures  of  the  year  are  often  shown  in  provincial  towns 
after  exhibition  in  the  capitals.  There  are  a  number  of  able 
and  discriminating  art  critics  including  MM.  Benois,  Synner- 
berg,  Yaremich,  and  A.  Ivanov  in  St.  Petersburg,  and  MM. 
Grabar  and  Muratov  in  Moscow.  A  close  connection  is  now 
maintained  between  painting  and  the  theatre  on  the  one 
hand  and  painting  and  literature  on  the  other,  and  all  sides 
gain  from  this  more  intimate  contact. 

Very  striking,  too,  is  the  effect  of  the  new  movement  on 
public  taste.  From  about  1905  till  1912  the  prevailing  view 
on  aesthetic  matters  underwent  a  complete  change.     A  new 


320  Russia  of  the  Russians 

\  interest  was  aroused  jn  art  for  its  own  sake.  The  public 
^came  to" the  earlier  exhibitions  of  the  new  school  in  a  super- 
cilious, sceptical,  hostile  mood.  With  the  years  the  work  of 
this  school  has  lost  its  strangeness  and  a  real  sympathy  has 
gradually  grown  up  between  public  and  artists.  There  is.  a 
rapidly  increasing  demand  for  cheap  and  popular  books  on 
art,  biographies  of  famous  artists,  native  and  foreign,  cheap 
reproductions  of  well-known  pictures,  and  the  like.  Picture 
post  cards  with  reproductions  of  the  best  pictures  in  the 
annual  exhibitions  are  widely  sold.  This  development  of 
aesthetic  interest  has  had  a  marked  effect  on  personal  habits, 
on  the  adornment  of  the  home,  and  more  particularly  on 
dress.  In  the  first  revulsion  of  feeling  against  the  indifference 
to  dress  that  formerly  prevailed,  the  public  in  the  large 
towns,  more  especially  the  women,  fell  into  glaring  extremes 
of  bad  taste.  About  the  years  1907  and  1908  the  display 
of  dress  in  theatres  and  concert-halls  was  simply  barbarous 
in  its  crude  ostentation.  Of  late  years,  however,  there  has 
been  a  tendency  to  discover  a  new  beauty  in  simplicity,  and 
in  quieter  combinations  of  colour,  and  in  public  assemblies 
nowadays  the  number  of  people  who  dress  with  taste  and 
refinement  is  steadily  gaining  ground. 

Whither  is  the  new  movement  tending  ?  Naturally  it 
forms  part  of  a  general  European  movement,  and  will,  in  the 
main,  follow  the  direction  that  is  taken  in  the  West.  But 
will  it  acquire  the  national,  originative  power  already  dis- 
played by  Russian  literature  and  music  ?  Will  it,  in  its  turn, 
exert  an  influence  on  the  West  and  send  forth  fresh  impulses 
leading  to  new  discoveries  ?  In  one  sense  Russian  painting 
has  only  just  begun  to  be.  It  has  only  recently  secured  a 
firmly  established  position  and  entered  broad  ways  of  develop- 
ment. It  has  been  learning  the  lessons  of  the  West,  coming  to 
itself  through  the  adoption  of  Western  craftsmanship,  gradu- 
ally feeling  its  way  towards  an  expression  of  the  national  con- 
sciousness. Ivanov  and  Vrubel  have  suggested  in  their  work 
the  interesting  possibilities  of  nationalism  in  art.     But  the 


Painting  321 

real  possibilities  of  Russian  art,  in  spite  of  the  historical, 
ecclesiastical,  and  landscape  painters,  in  spite  of  Surikov  and 
Levitan,  of  Vasnetsov,  Roehrich,  and  Bilibin,  have  as  yet 
barely  been  touched  upon.  The  national  consciousness  has 
not  been  plumbed  by  the  methods  of  painting.  And  this 
has  lately  been  illustrated — apart  from  the  extraordinarily 
suggestive  work  of  Ivanov  and  Vrubel — in  a  very  curious 
way.  It  was  only  in  the  winter  of  1912-13  that  an  exhibition 
of  ikons  in  Moscow  made  it  possible  to  form  something  like 
an  adequate  conception  of  the  beauty  and  value  of  ancient 
Russian  art.  Ten  or  fifteen  years  ago  ancient  ikons  were 
valued  only  by  a  few  amateurs  who  gradually  formed  collec- 
tions, the  best  of  them  being  that  of  M.  Ostroukhov,  the 
curator  of  the  Tretiakov  Gallery.  But  after  the  publication 
of  the  Tolerance  Edict  securing  liberty  of  worship  to  the  Old 
Believers,  who  have  secretly  guarded  not  only  the  old  devo- 
tional books,  but  a  large  number  of  ancient  pictures,  many 
ikons  of  unexpected  beauty  were  brought  to  light.  Interest 
was  awakened,  collectors  made  inquiries,  and  the  best  of  the 
newly  discovered  treasure  was  soon  bought  up,  the  prices 
rising  in  proportion  to  the  increased  demand.  The  products 
of  the  search  were  exhibited  in  Moscow  during  the  winter, 
and  constituted  a  new  revelation  of  the  variety,  the  beauty, 
and  the  originality  of  ancient  Russian  art.  It  is  true  that 
Russian  ecclesiastical  art  with  its  frescoes,  its  mosaics,  its 
ikons,  was  imported  from  Byzantium,  and  that  the  authors 
of  the  earliest  work  of  this  kind  in  Russia  were  Greeks.  But 
the  Russians  soon  learned  to  modify  Byzantine  art  after  their 
own  fashion,  to  give  it  a  national  character  in  which  were 
assimilated  a  variety  of  influences  ranging  from  Italy  in  the 
West  to  Persia  in  the  East.  Novgorod  was  the  earliest  home 
of  Russian  ecclesiastical  art,  and  the  ikons  and  frescoes  of 
Novgorod  are  full  of  force  and  originality.  The  work  done 
in  Novgorod  was  continued  and  developed  in  the  Suzdal 
region  and  in  Moscow.  The  best-known  of  the  Suzdal  masters 
is  Andrei  Rublev,  who  lived  in  the  fifteenth  century,  has 


322  Russia  of  the  Russians 

been  compared  with  Beato  Angelico,  and  painted  the  frescoes 
in  the  Uspensky  Cathedral  in  Vladimir,  and  a  well-known 
picture  of  the  Trinity  now  preserved  in  the  Cathedral  of  the 
Troitsko-Sergeievskaia  Lavra,  near  Moscow.  Russian  ecclesi- 
astical art  flourished  until  towards  the  end  of  the  seventeenth 
century.  Peter  the  Great's  reforms  dealt  it  a  fatal  blow 
from  which  it  has  not  yet  recovered,  in  spite  of  some  recent 
attempts  to  bring  about  its  revival. 

The  recent  discovery  of  the  beauty  of  Russian  ikons  is 
characteristic  of  the  stage  reached  by  modern  Russian  paint- 
ing. It  has  just  begun  to  explore  the  field  of  its  efforts,  to 
appreciate  the  wealth  of  suggestion  that  awaits  it.  This 
wealth  of  suggestion  could  not  have  been  drawn  upon  until 
hand  and  eye  had  been  trained  by  Western  methods.  One 
may  imagine  that  new  discoveries  will  be  made,  and  that 
exploration  will  become  effective  in  the  creation  of  a  strong 
national  school  of  painting,  not  through  slavish  imitation  of 
the  past,  but  through  fresh  suggestion  and  inspiration  drawn 
from  the  remains  of  popular  art  and  from  the  gradual  unfold- 
ing of  the  intricate  movement  of  currents  of  Byzantine  and 
oriental  art  across  the  plain. 

In  the  matter  of  sculpture  Russia  has  hardly  anything  to 
show.     In  the  eighteenth  century  there  were  two  or  three 

sculptors  of  ability ;  the  nineteenth  century 
Sculpture.  produced  hardly  a  single  sculptor  whose  name 
is  remembered,  although  at  one  time  the 
work  of  Antokolsky,  more  particularly  his  Moses  and  Mephis- 
topheles,  enjoyed  a  considerable  reputation.  Recently  there 
have  been  signs  of  a  revival  in  sculpture,  and  at  least  one 
Russian  sculptor,  Prince  Paulo  Trubetskoy,  has  produced 
work  that  is  appreciated  outside  Russia.  His  equestrian 
statue  of  Alexander  III  on  the  square  outside  the  Nicholas 
Station  in  St.  Petersburg  aroused  fierce  controversy  at  the 
time  of  its  unveiling,  and  it  was  even  proposed  that  it  should 
be  destroyed.  The  monument  still  stands,  however,  and  the 
powerful  bronze  figure  on  the  heavy  horse  is  suggestive  at 


.  Painting  323 

once  of  the  bogatyrs  who  once  roamed  over  the  great  plain 
eager  for  conquest,  and  of  the  sheer  force  and  dominance  of 
the  autocracy.  The  statue  has  nothing  of  the  smooth  and 
insipid  elegance  that  is  agreeable  to  the  official  eye,  but  it 
is  the  very  embodiment  of  rudfe  power.  The  one  other  fine 
statue  of  which  St.  Petersburg  can  boast,  the  equestrian 
statue  of  Peter  the  Great  in  the  Senate  Square,  is  the  work 
of  the  French  sculptor  Falconet,  and  dates  from  the  time  of 
Catherine. 


CHAPTER    X 

ARCHITECTURE 

In  the  field  of  architecture  Russia  has  displayed  real  originality 
and  can  point  in  the  churches  of  her  ancient  towns  and  of 

various  remote  villages  to  a  number  of  master- 
Architecture,     pieces.  There  have  been  relapses  and  breaches 

of  continuity  here,  too,  but  the  interruptions 
in  development  have  not  been  so  serious  and  have  not  had 
such  lasting  effects  as  has  been  the  case  in  painting.  There 
is  a  distinct  affinity  between  certain  phases  of  ancient  and 
certain  phases  of  modern  Russian  architecture,  an  affinity 
independent  of  any  desire  to  imitate.  Perhaps  this  com- 
parative consistency  in  architectural  development  is  due  to 
the  fact  that  natural  features,  scenery,  landscape,  exercise  a 
more  directly  determinative  influence  upon  architecture  than 
upon  the  other  arts. 

Russian  architecture  at  its  best  does  harmonise  in  the  most 
striking  manner  with  the  Russian  landscape.  There  are  no 
bold  crags  crowned  by  beetling  fortresses.  The  Kreml,  the 
burg  or  citadel  of  the  older  Russian  towns  is  usually  situated 
on  a  mound  or,  at  the  most,  a  hill  of  no  great  height,  and 
does  not  stand  out  aggressively  from  its  natural  setting  of 
river  and  plain.  And  even  where  citadels  occupy  an  elevated 
and  conspicuous  position  as  in  Kiev  and  Nizhni-Novgorod, 
they  do  not  challenge,  as  the  traveller  approaches  them 
from  the  river  ;  they  rather  delight  by  their  picturesqueness, 
and  the  domination  they  express  over  the  surrounding  plain 
seems  to  be  rather  contemplative  than  militant.  The  churches 
harmonise  with  the  forests  in  whose  shadows  they  stand,  and 
lying  low  upon  the  plain,  lacking  the  stern  splendour,  the 
tense  aspiration  of  Gothic  cathedrals,  they  are  the  fitting 
temples  of  a  religion  that  has  in  it  a  great  deal  of  warm 

324 


Architecture  325 

humanness ;  they  are  havens  of  brief  refuge  from  the  vast 
expanse  with  its  problems  that  have  no  end  and  no  solution. 

Practically  all  that  is  left  of  ancient  Russian  architecture 
is  the  churches.  But  there  are  many  of  these,  and  they  are 
splendid  monuments  to  the  genius  of  their  builders.  Byzan- 
tine models  were  soon  adapted  to  Russian  taste,  and  it  is 
remarkable  that  this  nationalisation  of  ecclesiastical  archi- 
tecture by  the  Russians  of  the  eleventh  and  twelfth  centuries 
did  not  lead  to  degeneration.  In  fact,  judging  by  the  severity 
of  taste  displayed  in  the  older  churches  of  Novgorod,  the 
Russians  of  that  period,  at  any  rate  in  Novgorod,  were  by  no 
means  such  barbarians  as  they  are  commonly  considered  to 
have  been.  It  was  in  Novgorod  that  the  Russians  began  to 
build  after  their  own  mind,  and  the  Novgorod  of  to-day  with 
its  scores  of  white  churches  by  river  and  lake-side  is  a  verit- 
able museum  of  Russian  ecclesiastical  architecture.  The 
sister  republic  of  Pskov  also  took  an  active  share  in  the 
development  of  this  form  of  art. 

The  oldest  of  the  Novgorod  churches,  the  Cathedral  of  St. 
Sophia,  which  crowns  the  Kremlin  on  the  right  bank  of  the 
river  as  one  approaches  from  the  St.  Petersburg  side,  was 
erected  just  before  the  Norman  conquest  of  England  by  Greek 
builders  from  Byzantium,  on  the  model  partly  of  St.  Sophia 
in  Constantinople,  partly  of  the  church  of  the  same  name 
erected  a  few  years  before  that  time  in  Kiev.  What  most 
impresses  the  observer  in  this  ancient  church  is  the  arrange- 
ment of  the  five  cupolas,  the  larger  dome  in  the  centre  being 
flanked  by  four  others  so  gently  varying  in  height  as  to 
create  a  delightful  effect  of  free  movement  tending  to  a  per- 
fect harmony.  The  interior  is  that  of  a  typical  Byzantine 
church.  The  Russian  builders  who  made  their  appearance 
in  the  twelfth  century  and  naturally  learned  their  craft  from 
Greek  masters  did  not  attempt  to  copy  St.  Sophia.  The 
Church  of  the  Nativity  of  the  Virgin  in  the  Monastery  of  St. 
Anthony,  and  the  Church  of  St.  George  in  the  monastery  of 
the  same  name  on  Lake  Ilmen,  which  date  from  the  twelfth 


326  Russia  of  the  Russians 

century  are,  in  all  probability,  the  work  of  a  Russian  archi- 
tect, and  these  churches  present  the  characteristic  features 
of  Novgorod  architecture,  namely,  severe  simplicity,  absence 
of  ornamentation,  bold,  clear  outline  and  a  fine  sense  of  the 
beauty  of  line  and  proportion,  with  walls  that  depend  for  their 
effect  on  mere  massiveness  modified  by  a  straight  line  or  a 
curve  in  just  the  right  place.  In  the  churches  built  in  Nov- 
gorod and  the  surrounding  region  during  the  following  cen- 
turies by  princes,  bishops,  abbots,  and  merchants  this  type 
of  beauty  is  strictly  adhered  to.  Sometimes  the  churches 
are  large  and  imposing,  sometimes  they  are  snug  and  tiny 
chapels.  But  their  charm  lies  in  their  sobriety,  their  re- 
straint, in  the  quiet  confidence  of  their  builders  in  the  abso- 
lute beauty  of  bold  outlines.  This  severity  has  a  northern 
almost  a  Protestant  quality,  and  the  Novgorod  churches  repre- 
sent what  could  be  made  of  Byzantine  architecture  after  its 
possibilities  had  been  considered  by  men  accustomed  to  see 
beauty  in  the  mer$  whiteness  and  expanse  of  snow  and  an 
infinity  of  pale  sky. 

The  Kiev  region  did  not  succeed  in  its  early  period  in 
making  an  important  original  contribution  .to  the  develop- 
ment of  Russian  architecture.  Its  churches  were  built  by 
Greeks,  and  the  consistent  warfare  with  the  nomads  culmin- 
ating in  the  devastating  Tartar  invasion  prevented  the  rise 
of  a  school  of  native  architects.  It  was  in  the  Vladimir- 
Suzdal  region  and  later  in  Moscow  that  the  work  begun  in 
Novgorod  was  continued.  The  banks  of  the  Upper  Volga 
from  Rybinsk  down  to  near  Nizhni-Novgorod  are  dotted 
with  delightful  churches  of  the  Suzdal  period.  The  most 
beautiful  of  these  churches,  that  of  the  Intercession  of  the 
Virgin,  is  on  the  river  Nerli  near  Vladimir,  a  simple  church 
with  one  cupola,  amazing  in  its  lightness,  its  fine  proportion, 
and  the  gracefulness  of  its  outline.  In  the  Suzdal  region  the 
severity  of  the  Novgorod  style  gradually  yielded  to  a  taste 
for  ornament,  said  to  be  due  to  French  and  Italian  influences, 
for   the    Princes    of    Vladimir,    for   all    their    remoteness, 


Architecture  327 

maintained  a  certain  connection  with  the  West  and  summoned 
to  their  aid  Italian  masters.  Some  of  the  churches  in  Vladi- 
mir and  in  the  quaint  little  town  of  Rostov,  in  the  govern- 
ment of  Yaroslavl,  represent  the  new  developments  in  ecclesi- 
astical architecture,  developments  which  are  reflected  again 
in  the  churches  in  the  Kremlin  in  Moscow. 

Another  very  important  type  of  building,  the  wooden 
church,  had  its  origin  in  the  northern  forests  where  stone, 
bricks,  and  plaster  were  very  difficult  to  obtain.  These 
wooden  churches  acquired  a  style  of  their  own.  They  were 
the  result  of  the  application  of  traditional  architectural  prin- 
ciples to  the  new  material.  A  considerable  number  of  these 
wooden  churches  are  still  to  be  seen  along  the  rivers  in  the 
governments  of  Vologda,  Olonets,  and  Archangel.  Many 
devoted,  able,  and  well-known  builders  must  have  exercised 
their  wits  in  devising  churches  which,  built  of  material  so 
different  from  that  of  the  mother  churches  in  Novgorod, 
should  yet  be  worthy  of  their  aim.  They  did  succeed  in 
creating  a  new  and,  in  many  respects,  a  beautiful  type. 
There  are  records  which  show  that  these  buildings  awakened 
ardent  popular  interest  and  affection.  An  interesting  story 
has  been  handed  down  of  the  completion  by  a  "  master  " 
unnamed  of  the  wooden  Cathedral  of  the  Resurrection  in 
Kola  on  the  White  Sea,  which  was  burned  down  by  a  British 
squadron  in  1854.  When  the  cathedral  was  built,  declares 
the  legend,  the  master  summoned  the  people  to  watch  him 
place  the  cross  in  position.  He  set  up  the  cross  in  due  order, 
and  then  descended  from  the  steeple.  "  Now,"  he  cried, 
**  follow  me  to  the  river  Tuloma."  The  people  followed  him. 
On  the  river-bank  the  master  pulled  his  axe  from  his  belt  and 
hurled  it  into  the  river,  crying,  "  There  has  never  been  such 
a  master  in  the  world,  and  now  there  never  will  be."  After 
that  day  he  remained  deaf  to  all  pleading  and  never  built  a 
church  again.  There  are  hints  of  fierce  party  struggles  and  feuds 
in  the  matter  of  architecture  in  those  dense  northern  forests. 

M.  Grabar,  whose  great  service  it  is  to  have  called  serious 

'22 — (2400) 


328  Russia  of  the  Russians 

attention  to  these  neglected  wooden  churches,  points  to  a 
group  of  such  churches  at  Iurom  on  the  river  Mezeh  in  the 
Archangel  government,  as  being  particularly  imposing  on 
account  of  the  relentless  severity  of  their  contours.  But  this 
architecture  in  wood  is  not  only  interesting  on  its  own  account. 
It  is  important  as  determining  a  stage  in  the  development  of 
a  native  Russian  style.  The  necessities  of  building  in  wood 
led  to  the  substitution  of  steeples  usually  of  octagonal  form 
for  the  Byzantine  cupolas.  And  the  adoption  of  this  type 
of  steeple  in  the  churches  of  the  Moscow  region  led  to  the 
construction  of  some  of  the  finest  monuments  of  ecclesiastical 
architecture  in  Russia,  notably  the  churches  in  the  village  of 
Ostrov  and  in  Kolomenskoe,  near  Moscow,  and  much  later, 
towards  the  end  of  the  seventeenth  century,  to  the  erection 
of  that  marvellously  complex  and  tantalisingly  beautiful 
product  of  Russian  architectural  genius,  the  church  at  Fili, 
also  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Moscow. 

But  Muscovite  architecture  was  by  no  means  a  pure  resul- 
tant of  the  Novgorod  style  and  that  of  the  wooden  churches 
of  the  North.  The  taste  for  external  ornamentation  was 
freely  indulged  in.  Oriental  influences  found  their  way  in 
from  the  Tartar  East  and  induced  in  some  cases  a  barbaric 
profusion  of  ornament.  There  were  attempts  to  return  to 
pure  Byzantine  tradition,  and  war  was  declared  on  the  steeple 
in  the  name  of  the  cupola.  There  was  a  confusion  of  taste, 
and  that  curious  Church  of  St.  Basil,  near  the  Kremlin,  with 
its  strange  jumble  of  roofs  and  cupolas,  which  is  so  often 
regarded  as  typically  Russian,  really  represents  a  capricious 
and  disorderly  mixture  of  many  styles.  The  persecution  of 
the  Old  Believers  and  the  prohibition  to  build  churches  for 
the  celebration  of  their  ritual  caused  a  serious  check  in  the 
development  of  Russian  ecclesiastical  architecture,  and  with 
Peter  the  Great  the  period  of  impetuous  absorption  of  Western 
influences  began.  Ecclesiastical  architecture  has  never 
recovered  the  position  it  lost  in  Russia  at  the  beginning  of 
the  eighteenth  century. 


Architecture  329 

The  great  builders  after  Peter  were  Catherine  and  Alexander  < 
I.  Foreign  architects  were  imported,  and  Russians  and 
foreigners  brought  up  in  Russia  were  sent  abroad  for  train- 
ing. The  most  famous  of  the  Russianised  foreign  architects 
under  Catherine  was  Rastrelli,  who  built  the  Tsarskoe  Selo 
Palace,  the  Winter  Palace  in  part,  and  also  the  fine  Smolny 
convent  in  St.  Petersburg.  Catherine  had  a  passion  for 
magnificence.  She  built  palaces  herself  and  insisted  on  her 
nobles  building  them,  and  the  result  of  her  efforts  was  that 
splendid  edifices  with  Roman  columns  arose  on  estates  hun- 
dreds of  miles  distant  from  any  centre  of  civilisation.  The 
taste  of  the  period  was  for  Roman  classic  architecture,  and 
Roman  columns  became  the  rule  in  the  country  houses  of  the 
gentry.  There  is  a  fine  example  of  a  colonnade  in  the  Catherine 
hall  of  the  Taurida  Palace  built  by  Starov  in  1783.  A  Scotch- 
man named  Cameron  designed  for  Catherine  Roman  baths 
and  a  number  of  interesting  buildings  in  Tsarskoe  Selo  and 
Pavlovsk. 

Under  Alexander  I  Russian  architecture  rose  to  the  highest    v 

point  it  has  reached  in  modern  times.     It  was  in  this  reign 

that  St.  Petersburg  became  a  really  beautiful  city.     Most  of 

what  delights  the  eye  by  its  majesty,  its  splendid  proportion 

in  the  streets  and  squares  and  buildings  near  the  Winter 

Palace  and  the  Neva  owes  its  origin  to  the  powerful  impulse 

given  in  this  reign.     The  Kazan  Cathedral  with  its  Doric 

colonnade  and  the  columned  portico  of  the  Institute  of  Mines, 

both  the  work  of  Vorxmihin,  originally  a  serf  of  Count  Stro- 

ganov's,  the  imposing  St.  Petersburg  Bourse  by  Tomon,  and 

Zaharov's  Admiralty,  unique  in  its  combination  of  grace  and 

strength,  rare  worthy  monuments  of  a  brilliant  epoch.    The 

impulse  given  in  Alexander's  reign  continued  to  operate  in 

the  reign  of  Nicholas  I,  and  expresses  itself  in  such  buildings 

as  Rossi's  Senate  and   Alexandra  Theatre,  and  to  a  much 

slighter  extent  in  the  massive  St.  Isaac's  Cathedral,  the  work 

of  Mon  jerrant.     The  architects  of  the  period  of  Catherine 

and  A  Jexan4er  I,  whatever  their  origin  and  their  training, 


330  Russia  of  the  Russians 

were  all  caught  in  a  powerful  movement  which  was  essentially 
Russian  and  which  caused  them  to  create  out  of  various 
elements  a  style  that  was  distinct  from  them  all. 

But  in  the  reign  of  Nicholas  I  this  thoroughly  sound  and 
genuinely  national  movement  was  checked  by  the  rise  of  a 
pseudo-Russian  tendency  in  architecture.  Official  nationalism 
insisted  on  a  return  to  purely  national  models,  with  disastrous 
results.  There  was  a  sudden  collapse  in  taste.  A  German 
named  Thon  covered  the  Empire  with  churches  in  a  would-be 
Russian  style,  many  of  which  disfigure  the  landscape  to  this 
day.  In  Moscow  where,  after  the  Great  Fire,  a  number  of 
fine  private  houses  had  been  built  by  such  architects  as  Bove 
and  Gilardi,  the  pseudo-national  tendency  not  only  marred 
the  quaint  harmony  of  the  ancient  churches  by  the  erection 
of  such  buildings  as  the  Church  of  the  Saviour  on  the  Moskva 
river ;  it  brought  into  existence  a  number  of  merchants' 
residences  that  are  depressing  in  their  unintelligent  parade  of 
fragments  of  hopelessly  incongruous  styles.  In  St.  Peters- 
burg the  mere  gaudiness  of  pseudo-nationalism  had  little 
place.  Dullness  prevailed,  and  street  after  street  of  square 
buildings  wholly  devoid  of  any  architectural  interest  what- 
ever bore  witness  to  the  failure  of  genuine  national  impulse 
in  architecture.  This  melancholy  state  of  affairs  lasted  until 
about  the  beginning  of  the  present  century. 

Happily  the  general  revival  in  art  has  wrought  a  change 
in  architectural  conditions,  and  the  streets  of  the  capitals 
are  losing  their  monotony  of  cheerless  fronts.  There  is  no 
sign  of  a  real  revival  in  ecclesiastical  architecture,  indeed  such 
a  revival  would  clearly  be  impossible  apart  from  the  return  of 
an  age  of  faith.  But  a  new  spirit  is  making  itself  felt  in  the 
construction  of  private  houses  and  business  buildings.  Many 
(  new  private  houses  in  Moscow  reflect  a  refinement  of  taste, 
and  a  number  of  handsome  bank  buildings  have  been  erected 
in  St.  Petersburg.  In  many  streets  the  elegance  of  the  new 
buildings  only  serves  to  emphasise  the  heavy  dullness  of 
those  erected  in  the  'eighties  and  the  'nineties. 


ADMIRALTY    ARCH,    ST.    PETERSBURG 


i^y 


Architecture  331 

Moscow  is  fortunate  in  having  very  fixed  popular  habits 
and  clearly-marked  tastes  of  its  own,  and  the  very  determina- 
tion of  the  Muscovites  to  live  in  the  way  they  find  most 
comfortable,  whatever  the  aesthetic  watchword  of  the  day 
may  be,  gives  the  average  Moscow  house,  hidden  away  in 
some  narrow  winding  side  street,  the  charm  of  sheer  natural- 
ness and  makes  Moscow  the  most  picturesque  city  in  the 
Empire. 

There  is  one  melancholy  feature  in  the  history  of  Russian 
architecture,  and  that  is  the  surprising  indifference  shown 
until  very  lately  to  the  relics  of  the  work  of  devoted  artists 
that  lie  scattered  about  over  the  plain.  Even  distinguished 
architects  like  Guarengi,  who  was  employed  by  Catherine, 
have  not  escaped  incomprehensible  neglect,  and  of  the  mag- 
nificent palace  he  erected  for  Count  Cyril  Razumovsky  in 
the  Chernigov  government  only  the  ruins  of  a  gigantic  portico 
remain.  Palaces  and  country  houses  are  forsaken,  rifled  and 
suffered  to  fall  into  ruin.  Unique  specimens  of  the  work  of 
a  talented  architect  are  repaired  out  of  all  recognition.  Quaint 
churches  are  pulled  down  to  make  room  for  the  futile  creations 
of  the  pseudo-nationalist  schools.  Efforts  are  being  made 
to  check  this  vandalism.  The  Imperial  Archaeological 
Society  maintains  a  constant  search  for  ancient  treasures. 
But  it  is  the  period  nearer  at  hand  that  suffers  most,  the 
eighteenth  and  early  nineteenth  century,  and  it  seems  im- 
possible to  hope  that  the  indifference  displayed  towards  the 
more  obscure  but  valuable  work  of  this  period  will  disappear 
until  the  general  level  of  taste  has  been  very  considerably 
raised.  Fortunately,  there  is  a  very  strong'  movement 
amongst  artists  with  the  object  of  rescuing  what  still  remains, 
and  an  admirable  monthly,  called  Starie  Gody  (The  Years  of 
Old),  is  specially  devoted  to  the  work  of  arousing  a  real  and 
intelligent  interest  in  all  the  art  of  the  past  from  architecture 
to  embroidery. 


CHAPTER   XI 

PEASANTS  AND  PROPRIETORS 

Russia  is  an  agricultural  country  par  excellence.    Of  its  164 
millions  of  inhabitants   three-fourths,  er  over  120  millions, 

are  engaged  in  agriculture.  It  is  a  country  of 
The  Land.  peasants.  The  prosperity  of  the  Empire,  the 
state  of  the  budget  are  dependent  principally 
on  the  state  of  the  crops.  Even  the  political  situation  is 
largely  dependent  on  the  harvest.  A  failure  of  crops  means 
a  sudden  failure  of  economic  energy,  a  decline  of  purchasing 
power,  a  weakened  budget,  widespread  discontent,  economic 
and  political  difficulties  at  home  and  abroad.  A  run  of  good 
harvests,  on  the  other  hand,  makes  it  possible  to  tide  over 
a  crisis  and  to  recover  from  heavy  strain.  The  great  bulk 
of  the  Russian  towns  are  simply  market  towns  for  the  sur- 
rounding agricultural  districts.  Comparatively  few  are  manu- 
facturing centres,  and  even  in  the  big  cities,  where  the  pulse 
of  administrative,  commercial,  and  industrial  .life  beats 
strongly,  the  masses  of  the  population  have  not  definitely 
severed  their  connection  with  agricultural  Russia.  All  the 
cabmen  of  the  city  are  peasants,  and  a  heavily-bearded  cab- 
man when  driving  his  fare  to  a  bank,  a  Government  office, 
or  a  theatre  will  tell  of  the  wife  and  children  he  has  left  at 
home  somewhere  in  the  government  of  Rizan,  Vitebsk,  or 
Nizhni-Novgorod  to  cultivate  his  few  acres  of  land  while  he 
earns  money  in  the  capital.  Most  of  the  workmen  in  the 
factories  are  peasants  by  origin,  and  many  have  some  more 
or  less  effective  claim  to  land  in  their  native  villages. 

The  ties  with  the  country  are  just  as  strong  at  the  other 
end  of  the  social  scale.  When  spring  comes  and  examinations 
are  over,  long  express  trains  bear  off  the  families  of  higher 
Government  officials  and  deputies  to  country  estates  by 
river-side,  in  forest  or  steppe.     The  capitals  are  empty  in 

332 


Peasants  and  Proprietors  333 

the  summer  because  of  the  general  exodus.  In  no  country 
in  Europe  is  there  such  a  complete  and  prolonged  cessation 
of  the  hum  and  bustle  of  city  life  as  in  Russia  during  the 
summer  months.  Slowly  and  with  extraordinary  difficulty 
the  big  cities  are  asserting  their  predominance,  are  emerging 
from  the  market-town  condition  and  becoming  complex, 
modern,  urban  organisms.  But  the  power  they  gain  during 
the  winter  constantly  slips  away  during  the  long  summer 
vacation,  and  the  political  and  municipal  energy  that  accu- 
mulates between  October  and  June  is  dissipated  between  June 
and  October.  So  great  is  the  fascination  of  the  soil,  so  directly 
and  irresistibly  does  the  great  plain  make  its  appeal. 

It  is  the  peasant  who  embodies  most  distinctly  the  con- 
nection with  the  soil,  and  the  peasant  is  the  most  interesting 

person  in  Russia.     But  there  are  so  many 
The  Peasantry,   types  of  peasant,  there  is  such  a  variety  of 

character  and  custom  that  it  is  difficult  to 
make  general  statements  that  will  be  absolutely  true  of  all. 
"  Not  a  village  but  has  ways  of  its  own,"  is  a  Russian  saying. 
A  Siberian  peasant  on  the  Yenisei  is  a  very  different  kind  of 
man  from  the  Tula  peasants  on  Leo  Tolstoy's  estate  of  Yas- 
naia  Poliana,  and  the  Cossack  of  the  Don  is  at  once  distin- 
guishable from  the  peasants  of  the  northern  governments  of 
Olonets  and  Archangel.  Within  the  limits  of  a  single  govern- 
ment very  different  types  may  be  met  with.  In  the  northern 
districts  of  the  Chernigov  government  the  peasants  have 
thin,  sharp  features  and  speak  a  dialect  of  Great  Russian. 
In  the  southern  districts  of  the  same  government  a  dark, 
broad-faced,  broad-shouldered  type  prevails  and  the  language 
is  Little  Russian.  Even  a  single  district  may  display  con- 
siderable variations.  In  the  Nizhnedievitsky  district  of  the 
Voronezh  government  there  are  three  distinct  groups,  known 
as  Shchekuny,  Tsukany,  and  Galmany,  and  representing 
clearly-defined  varieties  of  custom,  costume,  dialect,  and 
character.  The  Shchekuny  are  extremely  conservative, 
ignorant,  poor,  dirty,  and  have  the  reputation  of  being  great 


334  Russia  of  the  Russians 

thieves.  Their  neighbours,  the  Tsukany,  pronounce  many 
words  differently,  are  a  trading  folk,  busy,  open,  communi- 
cative, eager  for  novelties ;  their  women  often  wear  silk  and 
satin,  whereas  those  of  the  Shchekuny  wear  only  picturesque, 
old-fashioned,  homespun  costumes.  The  third  group  again, 
the  Galmany,  speak  a  slightly  different  dialect,  are  not  averse 
from  innovations,  but  are  laughed  at  by  their  neighbours  for 
their  big,  many-coloured,  baggy  trousers.  In  fact,  the  variety 
of  types  even  within  the  limits  of  the  Russian  nationality  is 
inexhaustible.  There  are  many  degrees  of  prosperity.  Side 
by  side  with  well-to-do  peasants  there  are  whole  villages  that 
live  in  wretched  poverty.  Judging  by  the  dull-eyed,  bent- 
shouldered  White  Russian  peasants  one  sees  amongst  the 
Jews  on  the  railway  stations  in  the  governments  of  Vilna 
and  Minsk,  one  might  easily  jump  to  the  conclusion  that  the 
White  Russian  peasants  generally  were  a  dead  and  alive, 
down-trodden  people.  Their  life  is  certainly  not  a  cheerful 
one,  but  that  even  the  White  Russians  are  not  the  dumb, 
driven  cattle  that  many  of  them  seem  is  shown  by  a  little 
peasant's  paper  published  in  Vilna  which  prints  numbers  of 
stories  and  a  good  deal  of  pretty  verse  written  by  peasants, 
as  well  as  reports  of  co-operative  and  educational  work  under- 
taken in  various  villages  in  the  Western  Governments.*  There 
are  three  main  groups  of  Russians — White  Russians,  Little 
Russians,  and  Great  Russians — and  the  differences  between 
them  are  frequently  greater  than  those  between  an  educated 
Russian  and  an  educated  Englishman. 

It  would  be  absurd,  then,  to  attempt  to  describe  in  a 
chapter  the  life  of  the  Russian  peasantry  as  a  whole.  In  the 
present  chapter  some  account  may  be  given  of  certain  villages 
on  the  river  Volhov  in  the  Novgorod  government,  not  far 
from  St.  Petersburg,  it  being  premised  only  that  a  great 
many  of  the  features  noted  here  are  characteristic  of  all  the 
central  and  northern  governments  of  European  Russia. 

The  village  of  Vladimirovo  stands  on  the  river  bank  about 
ten  miles  from  the  St.  Petersburg-Moscow  railway  line,  and 


Peasants,  and  Proprietors  335 

about  half  a  mile  away  from  a  large  country  house  to  which 
the  inhabitants  of  the  village  were  a  little  over  half  a  century 
ago  attached  as  serfs.  The  village  consists  of  one  street, 
containing  about  thirty-five  cottages  and  lined  with  birch 
trees.  Behind  the  village  stretch  open  fields  with  a  long 
line  of  forest  in  the  background.  The  broad,  swiftly-flowing 
river  is  a  highway  in  the  summer.  Steamers  maintain  com- 
munication between  the  railway  station  and  Novgorod. 
Great  rafts  of  timber  with  red-shirted  raftsmen  drift  from 
the  rivers  beyond  Lake  Ilmen  down  the  Volhov  to  Lake 
Ladoga  and  so  out  to  the  Neva  and  St.  Petersburg.  Barges 
are  towed  up  early  in  the  season  and  come  down  later  with 
timber  cut  small  or  with  immense  stacks  of  hay.  Sometimes 
the  long,  yellow  barges  spread  magnificent  sails  and  fly 
many-coloured  flags,  and  with  a  fair  wind  go  floating  past 
bright  green  fields  triumphantly  up  the  stream,  the  steersman 
dexterously  managing  the  heavy  rudder.  Then  there  are 
curious  bulging  craft,  painted  in  stripes,  with  covered  decks 
and  sharp  stern,  big  rudder  and  coarse  sails.  Such  vessels 
as  these  come  down  by  various  rivers  from  the  distant 
Borovichi  district  bringing  crude  pottery  which  the  boatmen 
sell  in  the  villages  by  the  way.  There  are  plenty  of  fish  in 
the  river  and  the  peasants  cast  their  nets  and  catch  enough 
for  food  and  for  sale.  All  through  the  summer  the  river  is 
alive  with  unceasing  traffic,  though  nowadays  the  trade  is 
nothing  like  what  it  was  in  the  Middle  Ages  when  Novgorod 
was  a  great  commercial  republic,  and  German  and  Italian 
merchants  were  constantly  bringing  their  wares  up  the  Volkov 
and  carrying  away  rich  stores  of  furs  and  skins. 

But  in  November  the  Volhov  freezes  hard  and  remains 
frozen  till  April.  Then  all  the  steamers  and  boats  and  barges 
lie  still,  and  the  river  becomes  simply  a  smooth,  white  road 
over  which  sleighs  go  gliding  in  a  long  and  silent  procession. 
But  the  peasants  of  Vladimirovo  are  not  greatly  affected  by 
the  change.  Unlike  the  peasants  of  the  opposite  bank  they 
do  not  trade  and  they  fish  very  little.     Considering  that 


336  Russia  of  the  Russians 

they  live  on  a  great  river  and  so  near  the  railway  they  are 
surprisingly  unenterprising. 

Their  cottages  are  built  of  wood  and  are  unpainted,  yellow 
when  new  and  grey  within  a  year  or  two  ;    with  sloping 

shingle  or  thatched  roofs  and  with  the  gable- 

PeasantsLive     en(*  an(*  S^^  windows  facing  the  street.   The 

entrance  is  from  the  side.  You  mount  a 
wooden  staircase  or  ladder,  push  open  a  door,  and  find  your- 
self in  the  upper  or  main  floor  of  the  cottage,  the  ground 
floor  being  mostly  used  for  storage  purposes.  On  the  upper 
floor  there  may  be  one,  two  or  three  rooms,  according  to  the 
wealth  of  the  owner  and  the  size  of  his  family.  A  big,  white- 
washed, brick  stove  occupies  a  prominent  position  in  the 
main  room,  and  on  this  stove  the  older  people  and  the  children 
sleep  in  winter.  There  is  a  rough  table  and  a  few  chairs,  a 
bed,  and  square,  wooden  trunks  adorned  with  gaudy  pictures  ; 
on  the  walls,  cuttings  from  illustrated  papers,  in  the  corners 
ikons  or  sacred  pictures,  and  in  the  middle  of  the  room  a 
child's  cot  suspended  from  the  ceiling.  Pots  and  pans  on 
the  shelves  ;  on  the  landing  at  the  head  of  the  staircase  a 
barrel  of  water  and  a  dipper  for  washing — which  is  effected 
not  by  plunging  and  rinsing,  but  by  getting  another  person 
to  pour  on  the  head  and  hands ;  then  behind  the  landing 
lies  the  hay-loft  where  half  the  family  sleeps  in  summer,  and 
under  the  hay-loft  is  the  stable.  Living-rooms  and  stable 
are  practically  under  one  roof,  but  men  and  animals  are 
far  apart,  and  they  do  not  herd  together  as  is  the  case  in 
Western  Ireland,  and  the  cottages  are,  as  a  rule,  remarkably 
clean.  Some  of  the  women  pile  upon  shelves  and  walls  an 
incongruous  variety  of  ornaments  such  as  may  often  be  seen 
in  English  farmhouses.  Often  there  are  pot-flowers  in  the 
windows.  On  the  floor  are  mats  of  rough  canvas,  and  occa- 
sionally there  are  family  photographs  on  the  walls.  There  is 
only  one  flower  garden  in  the  village  and  that  exists  because, 
in  the  first  place,  the  owner's  wife  is  cook  at  the  manor-house 
where  there  is  a  pretty  garden,  and  in  the  second  place  the  owner 


Peasants  and  Proprietors  337 

himself  is  the  strong  man  of  the  village,  and  the  boy  who  pulled 
up  his  narcissi  would  know  what  to  expect.  Behind  some  of 
the  cottages  are  vegetable  gardens  with  a  fruit  tree  or  two.. 

At  the  end  of  the  village  and  behind  many  of  the  cottages 
are  banias  or  Russian  bath-houses,  which  are  a  necessity  of 

life  to  the  Northern  Russians.    The  bania  is 

house  a  *ow'  wo°den  building,  containing  a  large 

brick  stove  on  which  when  it  is  heated  cold 
water  is  poured  so  that  the  room  is  filled  with  steam.  There 
are  boilers  for  hot  water.  On  one  side  of  the  room  there  is 
a  tier  of  benches,  and  to  lie  on  the  highest  bench  where  the 
air  is  hottest  is  the  most  effective  way  of  taking  the  bath. 
The  bath  is  a  combination  of  perspiring  and  washing  in  hot 
and  cold  water,  and  the  peasants  aid  the  process  by  beating 
themselves  with  birch  twigs.  In  winter  the  youths  sometimes 
rush  out  of  the  bania  and  roll  naked  in  the  snow.  Every 
Saturday  the  villagers  take  their  bath,  and  this  right  through 
the  year,  so  that  it  is  altogether  unfair  to  describe  the  peasants 
of  Northern  and  Central  Russia  as  being  indifferent  to  cleanli- 
ness. On  the  contrary,  they  are  exceptionally  scrupulous  in 
this  respect. 

In  the  centre  of  the  village  is  a  shop  kept  by  a  widow- 
woman,  where  sugar,  tea,  sweetmeats,  cotton-fabrics,  and  a 
score  of  odds  and  ends  are  sold  at  a  high  price,  often  on  credit. 
There  is  a  tiny  chapel  or  rather  a  shrine  in  which  services  are 
rarely  held.  The  parish  church  is  several  miles  away,  but 
the  church  of  the  neighbouring  parish  is  just  across  the  river 
and  the  Vladimirovo  peasants  as  a  rule  go  there  when  they 
go  to  church  at  all. 

Outside  the  village  is  a  big,  two-storied  school  building 
where  about  sixty  children  from  all  the  villages  in  the  neigh- 
bourhood are  taught  the  elements.    The  girls 

^School***     are  *aught  sewing,  and  there  is  a  carpentry 

class  for  the  boys,  with  a  special  teacher  and 
a  well-furnished  shop.  This  school,  which  owes  its  existence 
to  the  neighbouring  landowner,  is  unusually  large  and  well 


338  Russia  of  the  Russians 

equipped.  Very  often  in  the  villages  the  school  is  held  in 
an  ordinary  peasant's  cottage,  roughly  adapted  for  the  pur- 
pose. The  Vladimirovo  school  is  now  maintained  by  the 
Ministry  of  Education.  There  are  two  teachers,  a  man  and 
a  woman,  and  the  priest  from  over  the  river  gives  religious 
instruction.  The  only  children's  festival  in  the  year  is  the 
Christmas  tree  which  is  usually  provided  by  the  landowner's 
family.  Then  the  little  boys  and  girls  march  round  the  fir- 
tree  in  a  stumbling,  hot,  disorderly  procession  and  gaze  in 
wonder  at  all  the  marvels  agleam  in  the  candlelight  amongst 
the  dark  branches.  They  sing  lustily  the  songs  they  have 
been  taught  for  the  occasion  and  are  full  of  struggling,  des- 
pairing eagerness  when  the  time  for  the  distribution  of  pre- 
sents comes.  On  the  whole,  the  children  live  a  jolly  life. 
There  are  so  many  of  them  and  they  are  always  trooping 
about  the  village  street  together,  the  little  girls  arm-in-arm 
and  sometimes  singing  in  imitation  of  their  big  sisters,  and 
the  little  boys  striding  about  barefoot  contemptuous  of  mere 
girls  with  hands  deep  in  the  pockets  of  long,  baggy,  patched 
trousers,  or  else  racing  off  at  full  speed  when  big  people  find 
them  robbing  birds'-nests  or  getting  within  dangerous  reach 
of  forbidden  fruit  trees.  In  winter  the  most  absorbing  care 
of  the  mothers  is  to  see  that  the  children  are  warmly  clad, 
but  in  the  summer  the  boys  go  mostly  bareheaded  and  their 
hair  is  bleached  to  a  uniform  white.  There  is  no  end  to  the 
children,  six,  seven,  or  eight  being  quite  a  normal  number 
in  a  family,  and  it  is  a  relief  to  the  mother  if  a  girl  of  eleven 
or  twelve  can  go  out  as  nurse  to  a  neighbour  for  her  keep, 
or  if  one  of  the  small  boys  is  made  a  shepherd  lad.  The 
bigger  boys  help  their  fathers,  and  the  bigger  girls  may  go 
out  to  service  or  else  find  work  in  the  factory  down  the  river. 
But  in  any  case  it  is  not  easy  to  make  ends  meet,  and  the 
peasants  frankly  admit  that  it  is  not  an  unmixed  evil  if  one 
of  the  children  dies. 

The  problem  of  "  What  shall  we  eat,  and  what  shall  we 
drink,  and  wherewithal  shall  we  be  clothed  ?  "  is  for  the 


Peasants  and  Proprietors  339 

peasants  a  tolerably  simple  one,  especially  as  far  as  eating  is 
concerned.    The  staple  food  is  home-made  rye  bread,  which  is 

called  black,  but  it  is  not  coal-black,  as  most 

Rustic  Food,     of  us  imagined  when  we  read  German  stories 

in  our  childhood,  but  dark  brown.  This 
bread  is  pleasant  to  the  taste  and  very  nourishing,  but  to 
assimilate  it  a  long  training  is  necessary.  It  seems  ill  adapted 
to  English  digestions,  and  the  older  peasants  often  suffer 
violent  aches  and  pains  as  a  result  of  its  use.  Black  bread 
is  the  staple,  and  the  peasant  can  do  an  enormous  amount 
of  field-work  on  black  bread  alone.  But  this  fact  is  not  an 
absolute  argument  in  favour  of  vegetarianism,  for  as  soon 
as  a  peasant  goes  to  work  in  a  factory  he  finds  that  his 
strength  fails  him  unless  he  eats  meat ;  and  even  the  work- 
men in  a  brick-kiln  near  the  village  declare  they  cannot  do 
without  flesh  food.  The  peasant  eats  meat  rarely,  as  a  rule 
only  on  festival  days.  But  every  day  there  is  a  meatless 
soup  of  some  kind,  most  frequently  shchi,  in  which  preserved 
cabbage  or  sauerkraut  is  the  chief  ingredient.  Potatoes  are 
eaten  as  a  kind  of  sauce  or  condiment  to  bread  ;  altogether 
the  chief  art  in  eating  is  to  find  ways  of  consuming  the  largest 
possible  quantity  of  bread.  Barley  and  buckwheat  porridge 
is  frequently  eaten.  For  special  occasions  the  women  bake 
pirogi  or  pasties  filled  with  cabbage,  more  rarely  with  rice, 
and  still  more  rarely  with  meat.  On  their  simple  but  mono- 
tonous diet  the  peasants  seem  to  thrive  fairly  well,  although 
digestive  complaints  are  not  infrequent. 

To  drink  there  is  plain  water  and  tea.  Every  peasant 
cottage  has  its  samovar  or  tea-urn,  and  tea  is  drunk  regularly, 
very  weak  and  very  pale,  without  milk.  In  drinking  tea  a 
small  lump  of  sugar  is  made  to  go  a  long  way  ;  a  f  iny  morsel 
is  bitten  off  and  held  between  the  teeth  and  gradually  melts 
as  the  tea  is  sipped.  Peasants  eat  slowly  and  with  great 
decorum,  crossing  themselves  before  and  after  meals. 

But  there  is  another  beverage  to  which  the  Russian  peasant 
is  greatly  addicted,  and  that  is  vodka,  a  spirituous  liquor  as 


340  Russia  of  the  Russians 

innocent-looking  as  water,  but  a  most  potent  kind  of  brandy. 
On  the  whole,  the  peasant  does  not  drink  such  an  enormous 
amount  of  vodka  as  is  supposed.  The  average  consumption 
of  alcohol  per  head  is  less  in  Russia  than  in  Great  Britain. 
But  the  peasant  drinks  at  intervals.  He  remains  sober  all 
the  week  and  celebrates  Sundays  and  festival  days  by  con- 
suming enough  vodka  to  raise  his  spirits ;  a  very  small 
quantity  of  vodka  suffices  to  intoxicate  him.  On  special 
holidays  such  as  the  festival  of  the  patron  saint  of  the  village, 
there  is  heavy  drinking,  often  leading  to  fierce  quarrels  in 
which  knives  are  used,  and  sometimes  murders  are  committed. 
Vodka-selling  is  the  monopoly  of  the  State.  All  over  the 
country  there  are  Government  brandy-shops,  in  which  the 
salesman  or  saleswoman  hands  out  through  a  hole  in  a  netting 
like  that  of  a  telegraph  office  bottles  from  long  rows  of  shelves 
like  those  in  a  dispensary,  for  consumption  off  the  premises. 
There  is  no  State  brandy-shop  in  Vladimirovo,  but  during 
one  year  there  was  a  great  deal  of  illicit  grog-selling,  and 
that  was  a  bad  time  for  the  village,  for  the  men  were  always 
drinking  and  their  earnings  melted  away.  Then  the  women 
revolted  and  took  matters  into  their  own  hands.  They  went 
about  the  village  and  broke  the  windows  in  the  cottages  of 
the  sly  grog-sellers  and  made  them  give  up  the  trade.  Only 
one  they  left  in  peace.  She  was  a  widow,  and  they  gave  her 
permission  to  sell  vodka  until  she  could  save  enough  to  buy 
a  cow.  After  this  revolt  the  peasants  were  compelled  to 
make  journeys  to  other  villages  when  they  needed  brandy. 
The  women  in  this  district  do  not  drink,  but  that  is  not  the 
case  everywhere.  In  some  of  the  districts  around  Moscow 
the  women  drink  at  least  as  much  as  the  men  and  make  a 
boast  of  doing  so.  And  the  nearer  peasants  are  to  the  cities 
or  to  manufacturing  districts  the  more  they  drink  and  the 
more  demoralised  they  become.  Sometimes  a  revulsion  of 
feeling  occurs,  and  in  Vladimirovo  several  of  the  hardest 
drinkers  occasionally  go  to  the  priest  and  take  a  vow  not  to 
drink,  or  in  other  words  sign  the  pledge  for  six  months  or 


Peasants  and  Proprietors  341 

more.    And  although  they  are  by  no  means  pious  men  they 
keep  their  vow. 

Generally  speaking,  there  is  much  more  drinking  now  than 
there  used   to   be.     Increased   prosperity   means   increased 

drinking.  The  more  money  earned  the  more 
Drinking.  vodka  is  consumed.  The  revenue  from  the 
State  monopoly  has  now  reached  the  astonish- 
ing sum  of  800  million  roubles  (over  £80,000,000)  per  annum. 
And  closely  connected  with  the  increase  of  drinking  is  the 
spread  in  late  years  of  what  is  known  as  "  hooliganism  "  in 
the  villages.  Hooliganism  is  simply  purposeless  rowdyism 
and  crime,  robbery  and  destruction  for  sheer  destruction's 
sake.  The  old  customs,  the  old  etiquette  and  decorum  are 
losing  their  hold,  the  naivcU  and  simplicity  of  former  days 
are  swiftly  disappearing ;  the  political  upheaval  has  shaken 
the  old  faith,  but  owing  to  its  failure  to  effect  real  reforms 
and  to  establish  liberty  it  has  given  little  opportunity  for 
working  in  new  ways.  On  the  contrary,  it  has  led  to  em- 
bitterment  and  a  growth  of  espionage  and  to  the  spread  of  a 
brooding  suspicion.  All  this  strongly  affects  the  younger 
generation  and  encourages  the  growth  of  the  brutal  instincts 
which  find  expression  in  the  increase  of  wanton  crime  in  the 
country  districts.  Hooliganism  is,  in  fact,  one  aspect  of  that 
state  of  affairs,  another  side  of  which  is  reflected  in  the  many 
sensational  and  vulgar  crimes  committed  in  the  higher  circles 
of  society  during  recent  years.  Hooliganism  and  the  increased 
consumption  of  vodka  again  largely  explain  each  other. 

The  question  of  dress  in  the  country  is  at  once  simpler 
and  more  difficult  than  it  used  to  be.     In  former  days  all 

garments  were  home-made,  the  fashions  re- 
Dress,  mained  unchanged  for  generations  and  valu- 
able costumes  were  handed  down  from  mother 
to  daughter  and  long  kept  in  the  family  as  heirlooms.  In 
the  remoter  districts,  where  the  influence  of  the  cities  is  not 
strongly  felt,  the  older  costumes  are  still  worn,  and  often  the 
women's    costumes    are    complicated    and    beautiful,    with 


342  Russia  of  the  Russians 

gorgeous  headgear  and  veils  and  rich  adornment  of  silver 
coins  of  various  times  and  peoples.  Occasionally,  as  in  some 
villages  on  the  Gulf  of  Finland  near  St.  Petersburg,  the  old 
costumes  are  retained  in  defiance  of  the  factories  and  proudly 
worn  on  Sundays.  But  in  Vladimirovo  the  modern  spirit 
rules.  Of  the  typical,  Fed,  close-fitting  woman's  dress  known 
as  the  sarafan,  which  is  eagerly  sought  after  as  a  curiosity, 
not  a  specimen  is  now  to  be  found  in  the  village ;  probably 
all  have  been  cut  up  or  worn  to  shreds.  There  are  a  few 
spinning-wheels  and  rough  hand-looms,  and  the  women  weave 
a  kind  of  course  canvas  and  linen  table-cloths  and  towels 
from  the  flax  which  is  one  of  the  staple  crops  in  the  district. 
Some  of  the  women  embroider  for  sale.  But  most  of  the 
clothing  material  comes  from  the  factories.  About  once  a 
month  a  Tartar  comes  round  with  a  waggon  full  of  cotton 
fabrics,  and  of  these  the  peasants  buy  what  they  need  for 
their  garments.  The  women  make  their  own  and  the  children 's 
clothing  and  also  the  men's  shirts  or  blouses.  In  the  autumn 
a  tailor  goes  from  cottage  to  cottage  and  makes  rough  suits 
and  overcoats  for  the  men.  There  is  a  felt-maker,  too,  who 
makes  the  round  of  the  villages  and  beats  out  felt  for  winter 
boots.  Very  often  nowadays  the  men  buy  their  clothing 
ready-made,  and  the  boys  have  to  be  content  with  more  or 
less  clumsy  adaptations  of  their  father's  or  elder  brothers* 
garments. 

In  the  district  here  described,  and  this  is  true  of  most  dis- 
tricts near  the  main  highways,  the  women  dress  in  cotton 
skirts  and  blouses,  and  on  their  heads  wear  coloured  cotton 
kerchiefs.  The  men  wear  a  kind  of  rough  European  dress 
— German  dress  they  call  it  here — with  high  boots  and  cotton 
blouses,  known  as  Russian  shirts,  and  in  colder  weather 
double-breasted  coats  buttoned  up  to  the  neck.  Their  head- 
gear is  usually  a  soft  peaked  cap.  On  Sundays  the  younger 
men  flaunt  shining  top-boots  and  gaudily  embroidered  shirts. 
The  younger  women  are  quickly  adapting  town  fashions 
which  they  probably  bring  home  from  the  factory  down  ths 


Peasants  and  Proprietors  343 

river  where  so  many  of  them  are  employed.  The  daughter 
of  a  comparatively  poor  peasant  will  walk  on  Sundays  in 
elaborate  dresses  of  a  town  pattern  ;  none  of  them  dare  yet 
do  such  an  unheard-of  thing  as  wear  a  hat  in  the  village, 
though  probably  they  have  hats  stored  away.  But  it  is  to 
be  feared  that  some  of  them  have  already  gone  so  far  as 
to  complete  their  transformation  by  wearing  false  hair. 
O  tempora,  0  mores! 

The  inhabitants  of  Vladimirovo  are  neither  well-to-do  nor 
very  poor.    They  are  not  geniuses  and  are  not  enterprising, 

but  they  are  no  fools,  and  they  are  not  stub- 
Village  Life,  bornly  conservative.  They  have  no  pro- 
nounced political  opinions  of  any  kind,  take 
things  very  much  as  they  come,  rarely  read  newspapers, 
although  during  the  war  and  the  revolutionary  years  some 
of  them  went  so  far  as  to  subscribe  to  the  cheaper  journals. 
Few  of.  the  men  read  books,  but  sometimes  the  younger 
women  and  girls  read  the  story-books  to  be  found  in  the 
school  library.  Nearly  all  the  men  have  served  in  the  army, 
but  it  is  difficult  to  see  what  trace  army  life  has  left  on  them. 
Several  served  in  the  Japanese  War  and  took  part  in  some 
of  the  fiercest  engagements,  but  they  tell  of  their  experiences 
in  a  humdrum  way  without  the  slightest  display  of  emotion. 
One  snub-nosed,  broad-cheeked  peasant,  Alexei,  received  for 
his  services  in  the  war  a  premium  of  £50,  which  he  spent  on 
building  a  new  cottage.  He  was  also  appointed  military 
instructor  in  the  school  under  the  new  boy-scout  system, 
and  aroused  the  merriment  of  the  whole  countryside  by  his 
attempts  to  drill  rebellious  schoolboys  into  the  proper  use 
of  wooden  guns.  There  are  hardly  any  among  the  villagers 
who  remember  the  days  of  serfdom.  An  old  forester  and 
his  wife  can  sometimes  be  induced  to  recall  the  time  when 
they  were  serfs.  But  they  will  not  admit  that  there  was  any 
profound  and  essential  difference  between  then  and  now, 
except  that  in  the  old  days  a  peasant  was  bound  to  be  more 
industrious,  which  they  are  inclined  to  consider  was  rather 

23—  (2400) 


344  Russia  of  the  Russians 

a  good  thing.  A  former  blacksmith,  Gerasim,  now  dead, 
used  to  tell  with  pride  that  he  was  rarely  flogged  and  enjoyed 
the  favour  of  his  master,  who  got  him  a  very  pretty  bride, 
naturally  also  a  serf,  from  another  estate  of  his  about  twenty 
miles  away.  Gerasim  fell  in  love  with  her  at  first  sight,  but 
he  seems  to  have  been  a  dull  fellow  and  by  no  means  hand- 
some, and  the  girl  cried  her  eyes  out  at  being  compelled  to 
marry  him.  There  was  no  help  for  it.  It  was  the  master's 
will,  and  they  were  the  master's  property.  But  for  months 
after  the  marriage  the  bride  would  not  look  at  Gerasim  and 
turned  her  back  on  him  every  time  he  approached  her.  Of 
the  stern  master  who  effected  this  marriage  and  who  lived 
in  the  early  part  of  the  last  century  it  is  related,  amongst 
other  things,  that  during  haymaking  and  harvest  he  used 
to  stand  on  a  hill  and  watch  the  work  through  a  telescope  ; 
any  peasant  who  showed  signs  of  slackness  he  immediately 
had  flogged.  But  the  pre-emancipation  period  with  its  three 
days  a  week  of  compulsory  labour  on  the  big  estate,  the  con- 
stant floggings,  the  purchase  and  sale  of  men  and  women, 
is  a  fading  memory  now.  The  younger  generation  has  hardly 
an  idea  of  what  serfdom  meant. 

The  effects  of  serfdom  linger  on,  however,  in  Vladimirovo 
in  a  very  curious  way.  Most  of  the  peasants  are  very  good 
fellows,  not  idle,  and  some  of  them  witty  and  original.  But, 
on  the  whole,  they  are  strangely  flaccid  and  lacking  in  initia- 
tive, and  this  is  characteristic  of  most  of  the  villages  for  a 
considerable  distance  along  the  left  bank  of  the  river.  On 
the  right  bank  a  very  different  spirit  is  manifested.  Just 
opposite  Vladimirovo  is  a  large  village  called  Vysoko,  which 
the  German  traveller,  Olearius,  notes  having  visited  during 
his  journey  up  to  Novgorod  in  the  seventeenth  century. 
Here  the  peasants  are  much  more  prosperous,  are  more  in- 
dustrious, better  dressed,  have  better  houses,  are  more  wide- 
awake and  alert,  more  receptive  of  new  ideas,  more  enter- 
prising in  every  way.  The  chief  explanation  of  the  difference 
is  a  very  simple  one.     Along  the  left  bank  the  peasants  were 


Peasants  and  Proprietors  345 

the  serfs  of  private  landowners.  On  the  right  bank  they 
were  the  serfs  of  the  State,  which  meant  that  after  the  pay- 
ment of  a  heavy  tax  a  great  deal  of  room  was  left  for  individual 
initiative.  Then  there  is  one  other  important  fact  that 
accounts  for  the  difference  in  character.  The  villages  on 
the  right  bank  are  the  remains  of  the  military  settlements 
founded  by  Count  Arakcheiev  early  in  the  nineteenth  century. 
Arakcheiev  was  a  fierce  disciplinarian,  and  applied  martial 
law  to  field-work  and  to  every  detail  of  life  in  the  settlements. 
With  the  help  of  the  cat-o'-nine-tails  he  got  a  fine  highroad 
lined  with  birch  trees  built  from  Gruzino  some  distance  down 
the  river  to  Staraia  Rusa  beyond  Lake  Ilmen.  The  discipline 
was  intolerable,  and  led  to  a  terrible  revolt  which  was  fero- 
ciously quelled.  But  the  sense  of  order  and  duty  inculcated 
in  the  settlements  in  Arakcheiev's  stern  days  has  left  its 
impress  on  the  character  of  the  inhabitants  of  the  right  bank 
until  now.  At  the  present  time  the  difference  between  the 
two  banks  makes  itself  continually  felt,  and  while  the  left 
bank  on  the  whole  remains  passive  and  is  sunk  in  routine, 
the  right  bank  is  undergoing  some  very  remarkable  changes. 
But  before  describing  these  changes  it  is  necessary  to  give 
some  account  of  the  prevailing  system  of  peasant  land  tenure 
and  of  the  tnir  or  village  commune. 

In  Vladimirovo,  which  is  a  small  village,  the  commune 
exists  in  a  simple  form.    All  the  peasants  of  the  village  hold 

their  land  in  common,  and  there  is  no  rented 
The  Commune,   or  bought  land  to  complicate  ownership  rights. 

Fifty  years  ago  at  the  time  of  the  emancipa- 
tion the  Vladimirovo  peasants  received  a  portion  of  the  land 
of  the  estate  to  which  they  had  been  attached.  This  land 
was  in  effect  purchased  by  them,  but  the  purchase  was  made 
through  the  State,  the  peasants  gradually  extinguishing  their 
debt  in  the  form  of  annual  redemption  payments  which 
constituted  an  extra  tax.  The  State  in  its  turn  compensated 
the  landlord  by  means  of  a  Complex  financial  operation. 
The    result,    as    far    as    the    Vladimirovo    peasants    were 


346  Russia  of  the  Russians 

concerned,  was  that  they  secured  in  all  about  630  acres  of  land. 
The  way  they  put  it  is  that  they  received  5£  desiatins  per 
soul,  a  "  soul  "  then  being  a  male  householder.    At  the  time 
of  the  emancipation  there  were  forty-six  souls,  so  that  the 
total  amount  was  253  desiatins.     This  land  was  divided  up 
amongst  the  members  of  the  community  in  such  a  way  that 
each  received  his  share  of  forest,  meadow,  and  field.    But 
the  system  of  allotment  is  a  very  curious  one.     If  each  pea- 
sant had  his  lot  in  one  compact  area  he  could  deal  with  it 
fairly  easily.    This  is  not  the  case.    Justice  requires  that 
good  and  bad  soil,  forest  and  bog,  the  far  lands  and  the  near 
lands  should  be  as  nearly  as  possible  equally  apportioned. 
So  the  land  is  cut  up  into  narrow  strips,  and  these  strips  cause 
considerable  confusion,  especially  if  they  happen  to  become 
entangled  with  Crown  lands  or  with  landlords'  land  or  land 
that  has  been   bought   or  rented  by  individual   peasants. 
This  overlapping  of  strips  is  one  of  the  most  perpetually 
irritating  of  land  problems  in  Russia. 

In  Vladimirovo,  however,  this  particular  difficulty  is  felt 
less  acutely  than  in  other  villages,  because  the  peasants' 
land  is  fairly  clearly  marked  off  from  that  of  the  estate  on 
one  side,  and  from  that  of  the  neighbouring  village  com- 
munity on  the  other.     And,  indeed,  the  Vladimirovo  peasants 
got  such  a  small  share  of  land  that  they  have  little  difficulty 
in,  managing  it.     Every  peasant  knows  his  lot  though  it  is 
not  divided  from  others  by  fences  or  ditches,  and  disputes 
are  rare.    The  land  is  owned  legally  by  the  whole  community, 
and  each  member  holds  his  land  only  in  virtue  of  his  member- 
ship.   This  does  not  mean,  however,  that  all  members  of  the 
community  are  equalised  in  the  matter  of  wealth.    Even  if 
they  were  equalised  at  the  beginning  the  lapse  of  years  makes 
them  unequal.     The  growth  of  population  causes  changes. 
Some  families  increase,  others  diminish  and  disappear.     One 
family  has  many  sons,  each  of  whom  has  a  right  to  land. 
Another  family  has  many  daughters  who  are  married  off  and 
lost  to  their  father's  house.     Sometimes  if  there  are  several 


Peasants  and  Proprietors  347 

males  in  the  family,  some  go  to  work  in  the  towns  or  On 
distant  estates  and  leave  their  father  or  brothers  to  work  the 
land  which  in  time  practically  passes  into  the  hands  of  the 
workers.  Some  families  are  industrious  and  enterprising, 
others  indolent  and  ready  to  forego  their  rights.  In  fact, 
there  is  no  end  to  the  possibilities  of  inequality.  There  exists 
a  legal  corrective  to  the  growth  of  irregularities  in  the  form 
of  a  repartition  which  may  be  undertaken  by  the  community 
at  certain  intervals.  But  the  peasants  of  Vladimirovo  have 
not  once  effected  a  repartition  since  the  emancipation.  They 
seem  to  have  thought  it  hardly  worth  while.  Part  of  the 
surplus  of  population  brought  by  the  years  has  gradually 
drifted  away  and  left  the  community  very  little  larger  than 
it  was  at  the  time  of  the  emancipation.  And  there  is  a 
natural  disinclination  to  upset  established  relationships.  But 
a  considerable  disproportion  now  exists.  Some  families  are 
richer  and  some  are  poorer.  Some  hold  the  share  of  two 
souls  or  more,  others  have  only  half  a  soul,  and  some  have 
practically  nothing  more  than  the  tiny  plot  of  land  on  which 
their  cottage  stands. 

The  communal  land  was,  until  a  few  years  ago,  inalien- 
able. It  could  not  be  sold  or  leased,  and  every  peasant, 
so  long  as  he  was  a  member  of  the  commune  and  had  not 
forfeited  his  rights,  had  a  certain  safe  and  sure  anchorage 
to  which  he  might  return  when  life  in  the  world  outside 
buffeted  him  too  severely.  The  commune  is  a  kind  of  mutual 
aid  society,  and  the  habit  of  united  action  ingrained  as  a 
result  of  centuries  of  communal  life  is  one  of  the  most  marked 
features  of  the  Russian  peasants1  character.  Living  together 
in  a  village,  not  scattered  about  on  separate  lots  of  land, 
possessing  strongly  developed  social  instincts,  they  are  com- 
municative, gossipy,  given  to  lending  and  borrowing,  obser- 
vant of  custom,  retentive  of  tradition.  And  the  communal 
system  largely  explains  the  extreme  conservatism  of  the 
Russian  peasant  in  methods  of  cultivation.  It  is  not  easy 
to  effect  innovations  when,  after  all,  your  land  is  not  your 


348  Russia  of  the  Russians 

own  and  the  other  members  of  the  community  resent  the 
implied  aspersion  on  the  traditional  methods.  The  peasants 
of  Vergezha  and  all  the  other  peasants  in  the  neighbour- 
hood, might  get  very  much  more  out  of  their  land  than  they 
do.  With  intensive  culture  a  good  deal  might  be  done  even 
with  thirteen  acres.  There  are,  in  fact,  German  and  Lettish 
colonists  in  the  district  who  prosper  greatly  on  land  of  the 
same  quality,  but  the  Russian  peasants  have  not  shown  the 
slightest  disposition  to  adopt  their  methods. 

The  affairs  of  the  community  are  managed  by  a  shhod, 
or  mote  of  which  all  the  adult  males  are  members.  The 
skhod  annually  selects  a  starosta  or  elder,  who  on  occasion 
summons  the  men  for  the  transaction  of  necessary  business 
by  walking  through  the  village,  striking  each  cottage  with  a 
rod  and  crying,  "  Na  skhod/"  (To  the  motel).  In  the 
exercise  of  his  duties  the  elder  is  assisted  by  another  peasant 
who  acts  as  policeman,  or  desiatnik.  The  chief  business  of 
the  starosta  is  to  collect  the  taxes,  to  note  their  payment  in 
a  register  and  to  convey  them  to  the  centre  of  the  canton, 
or  volost,  a  few  miles  away.  The  village  mote  discusses  all 
matters  that  concern  the  whole  village ;  the  hire  of  a  shep- 
herd for  the  cattle  during  the  summer  months,  the  amount 
to  be  paid  to  the  neighbouring  landlord  for  the  right  of  pas- 
turing the  herd  on  his  estate,  and  many  other  such  details  of 
the  communal  life.  Sometimes  bigger  questions  are  dis- 
cussed. The  peasants  of  the  village  of  Kurino,  up  the  river, 
decided  some  years  ago  after  long  discussion  to  acquire, 
through  the  Peasant's  Bank,  a  Government  institution  which 
facilitates  the  purchase  of  land  by  the  peasantry,  a  consider- 
able portion  of  a  neighbouring  estate.  The  question  of  the 
interest  to  be  paid  to  the  Bank  is  now  one  of  the  many  ques- 
tions discussed  by  their  mote.  More  general  questions  are 
occasionally  touched  upon.  The  mote  may  pass  a  resolution 
(called  a  prigovor,  or  sentence)  urging  the  removal  of  an 
unpopular  school  teacher  or  priest,  or  the  retention  of  one 
whose  dismissal  is  threatened.    During  1905  and  1906  many 


Peasants  and  Proprietors  349 

communes  discussed  political  questions,  and  a  large  number 
of  peasants'  resolutions  were  sent  to  the  First  Duma  demand- 
ing a  great  variety  of  reforms,  chiefly  concerning  land-tenure. 
Discussions  of  this  kind  have,  however,  now  been  pretty 
thoroughly  checked  by  police  measures. 

For  the  peasants  are  not  allowed  to  act  independently. 
They  are  under  constant  tutelage.  All  the  villages  in  a  given 
area  called  a  canton  or  volost  converge  on  an  administrative 
centre  in  the  chief  village  of  the  canton  which  has  a  cantonal 
mote  and  a  cantonal  court  under  the  presidency  of  a  starshina, 
or  elder.  The  books  of  the  canton  are  kept  by  a  pisar,  or 
secretary,  who  is  also  the  mainspring  of  the  activity  of  the 
court.  In  the  cantonal  court  cases  are  tried  by  customary 
law,  but  these  courts  are  notorious  for  their  corruption,  and 
it  is  a  common  saying  among  the  peasantry  that  a  gift  of  a 
bottle  of  beer  to  the  starshina  and  a  rouble  to  the  pisar  is 
sufficient  to  secure  judgment  in  the  desired  direction.  The 
uriadnik,  the  lowest  representative  of  the  Government  rural 
police,  lives  in  the  cantonal  centre. 

The  canton  contains  another  personage  of  great  impor- 
tance to  the  peasantry.  It  will  be  noted  that  the  whole 
organisation  of  the  canton  is  concerned  only  with  the  peasants. 
The  gentry  and  other  inhabitants  of  the  area  are  not  included 
in  the  administrative  arrangements.  The  peasants  are, 
indeed,  regarded  as  being,  as  a  class,  in  the  position  of  minors, 
and  this  fact  is  emphasised  by  the  appointment  of  special 
officials,  known  as  Zemskie  Nachalniki,  Rural  Overseers  or 
Wardens  of  the  Peasantry,  whose  duty  it  is  to  exercise  a 
general  oversight  over  the  peasants  in  their  respective  dis- 
tricts each  of  which  may  include  two  or  three  cantons.  Usually 
a  prominent  landowner  of  the  neighbourhood  is  appointed 
Warden,  and  care  is  taken  that  his  views  shall  be  agreeable 
to  the  Government.  The  Warden  has  judicial  rights  with 
power  to  fine  and  imprison,  and  minor  criminal  cases  are 
tried  before  him.  If  he  is  politically  active  and  heavy-handed 
he  may  make  things  very  unpleasant  for  the  peasants,  and 


350  Russia  of  the  Russians 

as  an  institution  the  wardenship  is  unpopular.  But  the 
peasants  regard  the  Warden  as  the  chief  authority  in  the 
district,  and  their  favourite  threat  is  to  appeal  to  the  Zemsky. 
Thus  Anna,  the  wife  of  Nikolai  the  forester's  son  in  Vladi- 
mirovo,  had  endless  trouble  with  her  husband  who  had  not 
only  beat  her,  which  would  be  considered  a  normal  and  a 
natural  thing  and  a  sign  of  affection,  but  openly  insulted  her, 
and  although  he  earned  a  great  deal  of  money  practically 
starved  her  and  the  children.  Several  times  she  retired  to 
her  father's  house  to  parley  from  there,  but  Nikolai  never 
kept  his  promises,  and  finally  she  went  off  to  lay  all  her 
troubles  before  the  Warden.  Kusha,  a  widow  in  a  village 
down  the  river,  had  an  incorrigible  son  of  sixteen  who  beat 
her,  turned  her  out  of  her  own  house,  and  threatened  to  kill 
her.  She,  too,  applied  to  the  Warden  and  had  the  boy  put 
in  prison. 

Calling  the  Warden  the  Zemsky,  as  they  do,  the  peasants 
continually  confuse  him  with  an  institution  of  quite  a  different 

character,  the  Zemstvo  or  District  and  Pro- 
The  Zemstvo.    vincial  Council.  The  government,  or  province, 

is  divided  into  uiezdy  or  districts,  and  the 
districts  into  cantons.  But  the  Zemstvo  organisation  does 
not  reach  farther  down  than  the  district,  and  is  not  suffered 
to  penetrate  into  the  canton,  since  it  represents  local  govern- 
ment by  all  classes  in  conjunction,  modern  ideas,  the  elective 
principle  and  a  variety  of  other  features  distasteful  to  the 
bureaucracy.  The  work  of  the  Zemstvo  must,  however, 
touch  the  canton  at  certain  points.  The  Zemstvo  ma;ntains 
a  certain  number  of  schools,  which  are  usually  the  best 
schools  in  the  government.  It  keeps  roads  and  bridges  in 
repair,  and  a  very  important  part  of  its  work  is  the  provision 
of  medical  aid.  For  this  purpose  it  maintains  doctors  at 
various  stations,  and  these  doctors  have  a  hard  life,  the  area 
they  have  to  cover  in  all  weathers,  winter  and  summer,  being 
sometimes  equivalent  to  an  English  county,  while  railways 
are  few  and  roads  are  often  excessively  bad.     The  Zemstvo 


Peasants  and  Proprietors  351 

doctor  has  been  admirably  described  in  Chehov's  stories. 
To  aid  the  doctor  in  his  work  the  Zemstvo  maintains  in  the 
larger  villages  roughly  qualified  male  practitioners,  called 
feldshery,  or  women  practitioners  called  feldsheritsy,  who  deal 
with  the  simpler  cases.  There  are  small  Zemstvo  hospitals 
which  are  often  forty  or  fifty  miles  apart.  In  certain  govern- 
ments, such  as  Kostroma  and  Voronezh,  the  Zemstvo  has 
established  admirable  sanitation  systems  for  the  speedy  pro- 
vision of  medical  aid,  the  effective  prevention  of  disease,  and 
the  instruction  of  the  peasantry  in  elementary  health  prin- 
ciples. The  characteristic  feature  of  the  medical  aid  given 
by  the  Zemstvo  is  that  it  is  free  of  charge.  It  should  be 
added  that  the  principle  of  free  medical  aid  for  all  who 
need  it  is  firmly  established  throughout  Russia,  and  is 
systematically  put  into  practice  in  the  cities. 

The  agronoms,  or  agricultural  experts,  are  also  maintained 
by  the  Zemstvo  and  give  advice  to  the  peasantry  gratis, 
maintain  experimental  stations,  and  generally  do  what  they 
can  to  modernise  methods  of  cultivation,  without  achieving, 
however,  the  striking  success  that  might  have  been  anticipated. 
In  the  district  here  reviewed  there  is  an  agronom  who  lives 
on  the  railway  line  at  Chudovo,  and  has  opened  there  on 
behalf  of  the  Zemstvo  a  depot  of  agricultural  machinery,  the 
demand  for  which  is  steadily  growing  amongst  the  peasantry. 
The  Zemstvo  keeps  regular  statistics  of  the  population  of  the 
government  and  its  economic  condition,  and  for  this  pur- 
pose employs  at  given  intervals  a  whole  army  of  statisticians, 
the  greater  number  of  whom  are  students  of  the  Universities 
or  technical  schools.  In  Zemstvos  that  are  more  active  and 
progressive  than  that  of  Novgorod  other  branches  of  work 
are  undertaken.  The  Tver  Zemstvo,  for  instance,  has  an 
excellent  fire-insurance  system,  and  in  Moscow  and  a  number 
of  other  governments  the  Zemstvo  has  paid  great  attention 
to  the  conservation  and  revival  of  those  cottages  industries 
which  formerly  constituted  the  chief  occupation  of  the  pea- 
sants during  the  winter  months,  and  the  products  of  which 


352  Russia  of  the  Russians 

have  aroused  enthusiastic  interest  at  exhibitions  in  Paris  and 
London. 

The  peasants  have  a  voice  in  the  Zemstvo.  There  is  a 
limited  number  of  peasant  members  in  the  District  Council, 
but  the  landed  gentry  predominate.  And  it  is  certain  that 
most  of  the  peasants  of  such  a  village  as  Vladimirovo  have 
not  the  faintest  knowledge  of  their  direct  share  in  the  Zemstvo 
organisation.  For  them  the  benefits  conferred  by  the  Zemstvo 
are  sent  down  upon  them  by  the  vague,  indefinite  mass  of 
powers  and  authorities  which  regulates  all  the  details  of  their 
life.  Zemsky  and  Zemstvo,  the  government  Warden  and 
the  local  government  council,  are  for  most  of  them  very  much 
the  same  thing. 

The  last  few  years,  however,  have  shaken  the  peasant  out 
of  his  traditional  attitude  and  made  him  ready  for  change. 
And  if  the  inhabitants  of  Vladimirovo  and  the  left  bank  of 
the  Volkov  generally  are  little  disposed  to  question  the 
established  order  of  things  and  to  reach  out  after  innova- 
tions, the  inhabitants  of  the  right  bank  are,  as  has 
been  pointed  out,  in  a  different  mood.  There  a  process  of 
transformation  is  at  work,  a  process  which  means  that 
in  twenty  years'  time  the  villages  affected  will  be  hardly 
recognisable. 

Some  twenty  miles  up  the  river  Volhov  towards  Novgorod 
lies  a  large  village  called  Dubki,  which  a  few  years  ago  was 

in  no  way  different  from  the  other  villages 
Dubk"  along  the  river.  Now  it  has  become  a  centre 
of  progress,  the  scene  of  experiments  that 
cannot  fail  to  exert  a  great  influence  on  the  whole  country- 
side. During  the  revolutionary  period  several  young  men  in 
this  village,  like  other  young  men  along  the  river,  and  hun- 
dreds of  peasants  all  over  Russia,  became  infected  with  new 
ideas.  They  decided  that  they  were  Socialists — they  were 
not  very  sure  of  what  kind,  whether  Social  Revolutionaries 
or  Social  Democrats,  but  at  any  rate  they  were  very  "  left." 
Two  or  three  of  them  fell  into  prison,  as  peasants  who  were 


^ 


Peasants  and  Proprietors  353 

keen  on  politics  were  apt  to  do.  In  prison  they  talked  with 
educated  Socialists,  borrowed  books  from  them,  and  came 
out  of  prison  more  determinedly  Socialist  than  before.  When 
the  reaction  came  they  lost  interest  in  general  politics,  and 
in  any  case  they  were  far  less  interested  in  ministries  and 
parliaments  than  in  the  practical  task  of  improving  condi- 
tions in  their  own  countryside.  They  found  that  there  were 
a  great  many  things  they  might  actually  do  without  waiting 
for  a  general  social  transformation.  In  the  first  place  they 
became  co-operators,  and  here  they  found  themselves  in  line 
with  a  movement  which  during  the  last  few  years  has  pro- 
gressed in  Russia  by  leaps  and  bounds.  Co-operation  appealed 
to  their  Socialist  feeling,  proved  in  practice  eminently  work- 
able in  the  form  of  a  co-operative  store,  and,  moreover,  it 
came  naturally  to  the  villagers,  seeming  as  it  did  to  them 
merely  a  new  development  of  the  communal  principle  to 
which  they  were  accustomed.  Other  co-operative  societies 
were  started  in  villages  along  the  river  Volhov,  and  although 
the  authorities  at  first  frowned  on  the  enterprise  and  held 
the  initiators  under  suspicion  they  contented  themselves  with 
keeping  out  as  far  as  possible  the  element  of  political  opposi- 
tion and  suffered  the  movement  to  grow.  In  Dubki,  as  in 
hundreds  of  other  villages,  the  co-operative  store  has  greatly 
diminished  the  power  of  the  village  tradesman,  who  by  his 
exorbitant  charges  and  his  methods  of  giving  credit  accumu- 
lates property  at  the  expense  of  the  weaker  villagers  and  is 
known  commonly  as  the  kulak  or  fist.  Moscow  is  the  centre 
of  the  co-operative  movement  in  Russia.  The  Co-operative 
Union,  or  Wholesale  Society,  is  growing  strong  and  influential, 
has  a  membership  of  1,000  societies,  and  an  annual  turnover 
of  £80,000,  publishes  several  periodicals  and  a  great  many 
books  and  pamphlets,  and  the  organisers  as  a  rule  take  great 
care  that  Rochdale  principles  are  strictly  observed.  The 
total  number  of  co-operative  societies  in  Russia  is  over  16,000. 
The  movement  has  assumed  such  dimensions  that  co-operators 
in  such  a  village  as  Dubki  are  already  lifted  beyond  the 


354  Russia  of  the  Russians 

stage  of  lonely  pioneer  struggling  and  are  strong  in  the 
support  of  a  great  organisation. 

The  word  co-operation  in  its  Russian  form  is  hardly  used 
by  the  inhabitants  of  the  village.  The  store  they  call  a 
potrebilka,  which  means  simply  a  shop  for  consumers,  and 
the  union  they  call  by  the  very  familiar  Russian  name  artel, 
which  stands  for  an  institution  as  characteristically  Russian 
as  the  tnir  or  commune.  An  artel  is  a  kind  of  mutual  liability 
association.  Workmen  frequently  form  artels  as  a  guarantee 
against  loss.  The  porters  on  railway  stations  are  organised 
in  artels,  so  are  the  floor-polishers,  so  are  the  messengers  in 
red  caps  who  stand  at  the  street  corners  in  the  cities,  so  are 
the  messengers  in  banks  and  business  houses.  The  artel  is 
liable  for  all  its  members,  so  that  if  one  of  them  steals  or 
injures  property  the  artel  has  to  make  the  loss  good.  The 
members  of  the  artels  pool  their  money  and  share  gains  as 
well  as  losses.  Peasants  from  a  village  community  often 
form  themselves  into  an  artel  when  they  go  to  work  at  a 
distance,  and  local  patriotism  seems  to  form  the  basis  of 
membership  in  the  big  artels  in  the  cities,  the  men  of  Yaroslav 
forming  one  artel  the  men  of  Kostroma  another,  and  so  forth. 
The  name  artel  is  now  widely  used  in  the  co-operative  move- 
ment, and  in  this  way  a  link  of  continuity  is  maintained 
with  traditional  Russian  forms  of  association. 

The  co-operative  store  did  not  satisfy  the  ambition  of  the 
enterprising  young  men  of  Dubki.  They  were  eager  to  engage 
in  co-operative  production.  But  for  this  capital  was  neces- 
sary, and  the  whole  of  their  small  funds  had  been  exhausted 
in  setting  the  store  going,  and  in  connection  with  the  store 
a  tea-room  with  a  gramophone.  They  learned,  however, 
that  the  Government  had  set  apart  a  considerable  sum  of 
money  to  be  advanced  to  peasants  in  small  sums  through 
the  Peasants'  Bank.  It  was  not  very  pleasant  for  these 
young  Socialists  of  yesterday  to  make  application  to  the 
Government,  but  they  were  eager  to  work  and  they  swallowed 
their  scruples.     The  officials  in  Novgorod  in  their  turn  were 


Peasants  and  Proprietors  355 

suspicious,  but  intermediaries  were  found,  difficulties  smoothed 
over,  and  the  Dubki  peasants  secured  enough  money  to  start 
a  co-operative  butter  factory  with.  The  interest  of  peasants 
in  the  surrounding  villages  was  aroused,  three  creameries 
were  established,  and  now  the  factory  is  flourishing  and 
sending  large  quantities  of  butter  every  week  to  a  co-op- 
erative store  in  St.  Petersburg.  And  this  butter  factory, 
again,  is  only  one  of  hundreds  that  have  sprung  up  in  various 
parts  of  Russia  during  the  last  few  years.  Formerly  peasants 
when  they  kept  cows  used  the  milk  chiefly  for  rearing  calves 
which  were  sold  to  the  butchers.  The  market  for  milk  pro- 
ducts was  a  poor  one,  and  it  is  still  much  poorer  than  it 
might  be,  chiefly  because  of  the  defectiveness  of  means  of 
communication.  Moreover,  the  peasants  rarely  knew  how  to 
make  butter  or  cheese  fit  for  the  market.  The  Dubki  peasants 
and  others  in  the  neighbourhood  had  to  learn,  and  instructors 
came  down  and  gave  lectures  and  practical  advice,  and 
the  wideawake  young  pioneers  read  and  observed 
unceasingly. 

Then  their  horizon  was  broadened  by  an  unlooked-for 
event.  One  of  them  was  sent  abroad  to  study.  There  exists 
in  St.  Petersburg  a  society  called  Zerno,  or  "  The  Grain," 
devoted  to  agricultural  improvement,  and  one  of  the  good 
things  this  society  does  is  to  send  promising  young  peasants 
to  learn  farming  conditions  in  Western  European  countries. 
Occasionally  its  prot6g6s  are  sent  to  Denmark,  but  since  the 
society  has  a  conservative  and  Slavophil  tinge  it  prefers  send- 
ing them  to  Slavonic  countries.  The  young  peasant  chosen 
from  Dubki  was  sent  to  Bohemia,  where  he  remained  for  over 
a  year  working  as  a  farm  labourer.  He  soon  learned  the 
language,  was  keenly  interested  in  all  he  saw,  and  since  the 
Bohemian  farmers  are  very  up  to  date,  he  brought  back  with 
him  to  Dubki  a  host  of  new  ideas  about  the  rotation  of  crops, 
cattle-feeding,  co-operation,  the  treatment  of  milk  and  butter 
and  so  forth.  Luckily,  instead  of  abandoning  his  village  and 
seeking  employment  as  a  steward  on  a  big  estate,  as  peasants 


356  Russia  of  the  Russians 

of  his  knowledge  and  ability  do  most  frequently,  he 
remained  in  Dubki  and  threw  himself  into  all  its  enter- 
prises, so  that  the  whole  village  gained  by  his  interesting 
experience. 

But  it  was  not  only  the  agricultural  methods  of  the 
Bohemian  farmers  that  had  impressed  Akeksei,  the  student 
from  Dubki.  He  had  been  greatly  struck  by  the  swift  pulsa- 
tion of  their  social  life,  their  choral  societies,  their  reading 
rooms  and  lecture  halls,  their  ordered  festivals  and,  above 
all,  by  their  strong  national  feeling.  Some  of  the  lessons  he 
learned  he  tried  to  put  into  practice  in  his  native  village, 
and  now  the  Dubkians  are  building  a  house,  the  lower 
story  of  which  is  to  be  used  as  a  fire-brigade  station,  while 
the  upper  story  will  serve  as  a  hall  for  lectures,  choral  festivals 
and  dances.  To  inculcate  patriotism  was  not  so  easy.  Pride 
in  the  glories  of  the  ancient  city  of  Novgorod  was  stamped 
out  long  ago,  and  the  peasants  of  the  district  are  perfectly 
indifferent  to  their  past  and  almost  devoid  of  local  patriotism. 
But  Akeksei  succeeded  in  doing  the  incredible.  He  induced 
a  large  company  of  his  fellow  villagers  to  make  an  excursion 
two  hours'  distance  up  the  river  to  Novgorod,  under  the  shadow 
of  which  they  had  lived  all  their  lives,  and  to  visit  the  old 
churches  with  a  teacher  who  explained  the  historical  associa- 
tions. Nothing  could  have  been  more  clearly  indicative  of 
a  change  of  temper  than  this  excursion. 

The  co-operative  work  in  the  village,  passing  as  it  did 
under  the  familiar  name  of  artel,  might  be  regarded  as  a 

The  Break-up  new  development  of  communal  methods, 
of  the  But  another  change  took  place  in  the  village 

Commune.  that  involved  a  startling  breach  with  com- 
munal tradition.  The  commune  was  broken  up.  Dubki 
was  caught  in  the  sweep  of  the  private  ownership  movement 
due  to  the  operation  of  a  law  promulgated  first  of  all  by 
Imperial  decree  at  the  instance  of  Stolypin  after  the  dissolu- 
tion of  the  Second  Duma  in  1907,  and  modified  and  developed 
by  the  Third  Duma.   This  law  annuls  the  obligatory  character 


Peasants  and  Proprietors  357 

of  the  village  commune  and  provides  that  any  peasant 
who  so  desires  may  secede,  that  is,  he  may  claim  as  his  own 
private  property  the  share  of  the  communal  lands  that  falls 
to  his  lot.  The  principle  is  simple  enough,  but  its  elabora- 
tion and  adaptation  to  general  property  laws  and  to  the 
administrative  system  has  involved  a  large  amount  of  cum- 
brous legislation,  while  the  execution  of  the  law  has  been 
attended  with  great  difficulties.  Many  progressive  Russians 
have  long  felt  that  the  communal  system  hampered  individual 
initiative  and  was  a  bar  to  development,  and  have  urged  a 
transition  to  private  property.  But  the  new  law  had  the 
disadvantage. of  being  passed  by  the  bureaucracy  at  a  time 
of  reaction  when  great  embitterment  prevailed  in  the  country. 
And  this  circumstance  combined  with  a  lingering  Populist 
idealisation  of  the  commune  as  a  distinctively  national  and 
Socialist  institution  made  the  intelligentsia  and  the  Opposition 
generally  regard  Stolypin's  action  with  great  distrust.  Thus 
the  working  of  the  new  law,  instead  of  taking  the  form  of  a 
unanimous  and  national  effort,  like  the  execution  of  the 
agrarian  reforms  connected  with  the  emancipation  of  the 
peasantry,  was  left  for  the  most  part  to  the  bureaucracy  and 
suffered  in  consequence.  But  the  fact  that  the  work  was 
real  and  new  and  interesting  work  attracted  many  of  the 
ablest  of  the  younger  men  who  had  only  recently  completed 
their  education  and  entered  the  Government  service,  and  the 
difficult  transition  to  a  new  form  of  tenure  was,  in  many 
instances,  effected  with  tact  and  skill.  The  opinions  of 
experts  vary  greatly  as  to  the  results  hitherto  attained. 
Frequently  intimidation  and  force  have  been  employed  by 
officials  in  order  to  compel  the  peasants  to  abandon  the  com- 
mune. Applications  for  liberation  from  the  commune  have 
in  many  places  led  to  fierce  conflicts  among  the  peasantry, 
and  when  a  whole  village  abandons  the  communal  system, 
the  weaker  peasants  frequently  sell  their  fragment  of  land, 
drink  the  proceeds  and  go  under.  But,  on  the  other  hand, 
a  great  many  cases  are  on  record  where  the  break-up  of  the 


358  Russia  of  the  Russians 

commune  has  led  to  rapid  economic  progress.  In  Dubki,  at 
.  any  rate,  the  result  has  been  wholly  successful. 

For  the  working  of  the  law  each  government  has  a  separate 
organisation  under  the  control  of  the  Ministry  of  Agriculture. 
A  Land  Commission  is  established,  composed  of  officials  and 
country  gentlemen,  and  this  Commission  investigates  the 
possibilities  of  putting  the  law  into  force  in  the  government, 
marks  out  likely  villages,  sounds  the  peasants,  and  takes 
measures  to  make  the  provisions  of  the  law  generally  known. 
In  practice  it  is  found  better  for  whole  villages  to  divide  up 
than  for  individual  peasants  to  go  out  of  the  commune.  When 
a  commune  wishes  to  divide  up  it  "  composes  a  sentence,"  in 
other  words,  passes  a  resolution  to  that  effect,  and  officials  of 
the  Ministry  of  Agriculture  are  immediately  sent  down  to 
examine  local  conditions  and  to  give  advice  as  to  the  best  way 
of  carrying  out  the  scheme.  Then  land-surveyors  go  to  work, 
the  communal  land  is  divided  up  fairly  according  to  the  claims 
of  each  householder,  the  changes  are  registered,  and  thereafter 
he  is  free  to  cultivate,  sell,  or  lease  his  land  at  his  own 
pleasure. 

In  Dubki  under  the  old  system  the  peasants  suffered 
greatly  from  the  endless  overlapping  of  strips  of  land.  There 
was  little  pleasure  in  farming  when  a  man's  land  was  scattered 
about  in  narrow  strips  over  a  considerable  area,  and  there 
was  no  solid  satisfaction  in  ploughing  even  with  a  new  steel 
plough  when  a  strip  was  only  a  few  furrows  wide.  But  in 
the  transition  to  private  ownership  these  drawbacks  have 
been  removed.  Every  peasant  now  has  his  land  in  one  or 
at  the  most  three  places,  and  can  concentrate  his  energies  in 
one  spot  with  a  sense  that  he  has  breathing  space.  All  the 
peasants  of  Dubki  are  very  well  content  with  the  new  arrange- 
ment, the  more  so  that  they  have  been  freed  from  the  draw- 
backs of  the  old  system  without  too  violent  a  break  with 
their  regular  habits.  There  are  two  ways,  under  the  new 
law,  in  which  peasants  may  pass  into  the  private  ownership 
stage.    They  may  go  out  "  on  to  htUora,"  that  is  to  say. 


Peasants  and  Proprietors  359 

they  may  leave  the  village,  build  a  cottage  on  their  allotment 
of  land,  and  there  live  the  solitary  life  of  a  farmer.  Or  else 
they  may  go  out  "  on  to  otrtiba"  that  is,  they  continue  to 
live  in  the  village,  going  out  daily  to  cultivate  their  land. 
The  choice  is  often  determined  by  the  convenience  or  incon- 
venience of  access  to  the  allotment.  Some  of  the  allotments 
lie  at  a  considerable  distance  from  village,  river,  or  road,  and 
the  impossibility  of  providing  allotments  that  shall  be  equally 
convenient  of  access  for  all  the  villagers  is  one  of  the  causes 
that  most  frequently  deters  communes  from  dividing  up. 
The  villagers  of  Dubki  having  divided  up  preferred  to  remain 
in  the  village.  Their  reason  for  doing  so  was  very  simple 
and  human.  "  It  would  be  very  dull  and  lonely,"  they 
declared,  "  to  be  living  scattered  about  on  farms."  So  they 
continue  to  live  their  friendly  village  life  with  its  wealth  of 
new  interests  and  new  enterprises  and  seem  to  be  perfectly 
satisfied  with  the  choice  they  have  made.  They  are  prosper- 
ing and  putting  money  into  their  farms  and  improving  culti- 
vation, and  they  are  doing  something  to  ward  off  some  of  the 
dangers  that  come  with  prosperity  by  providing  for  the 
exclusion  from  all  the  societies  and  clubs  of  persons  who 
engage  in  sly  grog-selling. 

The  example  of  Dubki  is  infecting  the  neighbouring  villages. 
The  co-operative  movement  is  progressing,  the  question  of 
dividing  up  the  communal  property  is  being  seriously  dis- 
cussed, and  in  several  villages  along  the  east  bank  of  the 
river  the  partition  has  already  been  effected.  In  fact,  a  more 
profound  and  far-reaching  change  has  taken  place  in  the 
country  during  the  last  five  years  than  at  any  period  since 
the  emancipation.  It  should  be  noted,  however,  that  co- 
operation and  the  break-up  of  the  commune  are  two  distinct 
movements  which  by  no  means  always  coalesce. 

What  has  been  said  as  to  the  application  of  the  new  Land 
Law  does  not  apply  to  Little  Russia,  the  southern  provinces 
of  European  Russia,  where  private  ownership  is  the  rule  and 
the  commune  does  not  exist.     And  one  effect  of  the  change 

24— <2400) 


360  Russia  of  the  Russians 

now  in  progress  will  be  to  make  the  distinction  between 
Southern  and  North  Central  Russia,  which  is  still  very  marked, 
much  less  perceptible  than  it  has  been. 

The  increase  of  population  in  European  Russia  during  the 
last  fifty  years  and  the  inadequacy  of  the  allotments  granted 
Other  *n  manY  governments  at  the  emancipation, 

Attempts  to  Solve  have  led  to  something  like  a  land  famine 
Land  Problem,  amongst  the  peasantry.  The  lack  of  land 
might  not  have  been  so  acutely  felt  if  improved  methods 
of  cultivation  had  been  adopted,  but  for  a  great  many  reasons 
they  were  not,  and  the  peasants  had  a  very  strong  feeling 
that  the  only  way  out  of  the  difficulty  was  to  get  more 
land.  They  greedily  eyed  the  big  estates  of  the  neighbouring 
gentry,  rented  land  from  them  when  they  could,  and  often 
took  French  leave,  ploughing  on  their  own  account  land 
belonging  to  the  estates,  ignoring  frontiers  between  their 
hay  meadows  and  those  of  the  landowners,  cutting  timber 
in  Crown  or  private  forests.  The  hunger  for  more  land, 
a  deep-lying  feeling  that  the  peasants  had  been  defrauded 
of  their  fair  share  explained  the  success  of  the  agrarian 
agitation  during  the  revolutionary  period,  the  deafening  out- 
cry for  land  nationalisation  in  the  First  Duma  and  the  fre- 
quent attacks  of  bands  of  peasants  on  big  estates.  The 
agrarian  agitation  was  suppressed  by  means  of  police  raids, 
the  seizure  of  ringleaders,  the  development  of  espionage  in 
the  villages,  and  the  stationing  of  Cossacks  and  rural  guards 
on  many  of  the  estates  in  disturbed  districts.  But  for 
the  troubles  caused  by  lack  of  land  among  people  who 
live  by  the  soil  no  generally  effective  remedy  has  been 
found. 

The  peasants  themselves  find  various  palliatives.  Often 
there  is  work  on  neighbouring  estates,  ploughing,  harvesting, 
or  wood-cutting.  But  this  does  not  suffice,  and  the  peasants 
go  farther  afield,  spending  whole  summers  away  from  home 
working  at  all  sorts  of  trades,  at  the  fisheries,  in  the  mines, 
or  as  wharf  labourers.    Sometimes  they  lose  the  habit  of 


Peasants  and  Proprietors  361 

regular  work  and  join  the  bahds  of  tramps  and  rovers  and 
inveterate  drinkers  who  winter  in  the  cities  and  in  the  spring 
pour  out  in  thousands  to  scatter  over  all  the  high  roads, 
passing  from  village  to  village,  from  estate  to  estate,  working 
occasionally  in  order  to  earn  money  for  drink.  Often  the 
peasants  with  small  holdings  drive  cabs  in  the  town  in  winter 
and  work  at  home  in  the  summer,  or  else  they  find  employ- 
ment in  the  factories  and  settle  in  the  towns  leaving  their 
plot  of  land  to  its  fate.  Factory  workmen  of  this  type  fre- 
quently take  advantage  of  the  new  Land  Law  to  sell  their 
land,  and  so  finally  sever  their  connection  with  the 
country. 

But  Russia  is  big  and  there  is  still  land  enough  and  to 
spare,  and  if  European  Russia  is  growing  small  there  is  space 
enough  in  Siberia.  Ever  since  the  emancipation  there  has 
been  a  steady  emigration  movement  to  Siberia,  where  the 
peasants  settled  on  the  waste  lands  which  were  so  abundant, 
and  for  a  long  time  troubled  little  about  property  rights, 
considering  that  what  a  man  cultivated  was  his  own.  The 
movement  eastwards  grew  strongly  towards  the  close  of  the 
nineteenth  century,  was  temporarily  checked  by  the  war, 
and  was  renewed  with  redoubled  intensity  after  the  revolu- 
tionary period.  The  State  at  first  paid  little  attention  to 
the  emigrants  or  colonists.  Peasants  in  the  home  govern- 
ments heard  of  a  favourable  spot,  and  sometimes  sent  out 
one  of  their  number  to  spy  out  the  land.  If  he  reported  well 
they  sold  their  stock  and  implements  and  took  the  long 
journey  with  their  wives  and  families.  Very  often,  however, 
they  proved  unable  to  adapt  themselves  to  the  new  conditions, 
and  returned  to  their  native  commune  disappointed  and 
penniless.  Even  now,  when  the  emigration  movement 
has  assumed  large  dimensions  and  is  better  organised  and 
kregulated,  about  half  the  emigrants  return. 

It  was  the  agrarian  crisis  of  1905  and  1906  that  caused 
the  Government  to  give  closer  attention  to  the  emigration 
question,  more  especially  since  the  country  gentry,  alarmed 


362  Russia  of  the  Russians 

by  the  crisis  and  balancing  the  drawbacks  that  were  inevit- 
able in  either  case,  preferred  to  lose  possible  farmhands  and  see 
the  price  of  labour  go  up,  rather  than  have  their  security  en- 
dangered by  the  constant  cry  for  more  land.  The  Government 
encouraged  emigration  by  all  the  means  in  its  power. 
It  opened  up  extensive  areas  for  colonisation  in  the  Central 
Asian  steppes,  and  in  doing  so  narrowed  down  the  pasture 
lands  of  the  nomad  Kirghizes  who  found  the  transition  a 
painful  one  and  plainly  showed  their  ill-will  to  the  Russian 
settlers.  Beyond  the  Urals,  through  Chelyabinsk  passed 
long  trains  loaded  with  peasant  families,  chiefly  from 
the  southern  non-communal  governments.  Between 
1906  and  1910  nearly  340,000  families,  or  over  a  million 
persons  in  all,  were  settled  in  Siberia  and  Central  Asia. 
After  1910  the  movement  again  diminished  in  strength, 
but  there  is  still  a  steady  stream  of  emigration  to  the 
East. 

Siberia  is,  in  fact,  the  Russian  America.  The  flumber  of 
persons  ,of  Russian  nationality  who  emigrate  to  the  United 
States  was  until  recently  trifling,  and  the  bulk  of  emigrants  to 
America  from  Russia  were  Jews,  Poles,  and  Lithuanians.  The 
Russians  gravitate  to  the  Asiatic  territories  of  the  Empire. 
There  various  types  meet  and  mingle.  The  Russian  character 
changes,  tradition  has  slight  hold.  Hard  common  sense 
and  a  go-ahead  spirit  prevail.  The  towns  are  rapidly  grow- 
ing after  the  American  fashion.  Within  seven  years  a 
village  called  Novonikolaeivsk,  near  the  Altai  region, 
has  grown  into  a  town  of  80,000  inhabitants,  and  is  the 
centre  of  an  important  dairying  district.  Siberia,  that  is 
to  say,  forms  one  of  the  mediums  by  which  Russia  is 
being  Americanised.  And  Siberia,  like  America,  has  its 
colour  problem,  for  there  is  great  difficulty  in  keeping  out  an 
influx  of  Chinese  labour  which  is  cheaper  and  steadier  than 
Russian  labour. 

None  of  the  measures  above  described  form  a  definite 
solution  of  the  land  problem  in  Russia.    They  are  instalments 


Peasants  and  Proprietors  363 

of  a  solution,  attacks  levied  on  the  problem  from  different 
sides,  concessions  to  a  general  spirit  of  economic  change,  to 
the  demand  for  the  liberty  of  movement  which  is  one  of  the 
chief  conditions  of  economic  progress.  The  essential  fact  is 
that  the  period  of  stagnation  is  over,  that  the  peasant  sees 
ways  before  him  of  which  he  had  never  dreamed,  and  that 
the  necessity  and  possibility  of  change  are  now  generally 
admitted. 

But  if  the  peasant  is  changing  so  is  his  neighbour  the 
landed  proprietor,  or  pomieshchik.    The  estates  of  the  country 

gentry   are   a  characteristic   feature   of  the 
Landed         landscape  in  Central  and  Northern  Russia. 

The  house  stands  preferably  on  a  nver-bank 
or  on  a  hill-side/  It  is  half -hidden  amidst  a  grove  of  trees. 
Frequently,  especially  if  the  house  was  built,  as  a  great  many 
of  the  houses  of  the  country  gentry  were,  at  the  beginning  of 
the  nineteenth  century,  it  has  a  veranda  and  a  balcony  sup- 
ported by  massive  white  columns.  Near  the  house  there  is 
almost  sure  to  be  a  lime-tree  avenue,  leading  to  an  orchard 
of  apple,  pear,  and  dherry  trees.  A  flower  garden,  sometimes 
with  artificial  ponds,  and  a  variety  of  outbuildings  complete 
the  number  of  immediate  appurtenances  to  the  manor-house. 
Indoors  a  wide  entrance-hall,  a  big  dining-room,  a  drawing- 
room,  a  kitchen  full  of  busy,  chattering  life,  stairs  leading  to 
all  sorts  of  quaint  nooks  and  corners,  well-stocked  store- 
rooms, libraries  often  containing  old  and  valuable  books, 
pretty,  old-fashioned  mahogany  furniture,  family  portraits 
on  the  walls  and  generally  a  snug  and  soothing  sense  of  leisure, 
security,  and  remoteness  from  the  bustle  of  the  world.  Such 
is  the  home  of  the  average  pomieshchik.  The  government 
of  Orel,  of  which  Turgeniev  was  a  native,  was  studded  with 
such  homes  as  these,  and  no  one  has  described  them  more 
vividly  than  he.  "  Gentlefolks'  Nests,"  he  calls  them,  and 
this  name  with  its  lulling  note  of  defence  and  security  is  still 
largely  applicable,  although  the  gentry  no  longer  wield,  as 
formerly,  exclusive  authority  in  the  countryside,   and  the 


364  Russia  of  the  Russians 

disturbing  forces  of  a  new  time  are  beating  up  against  the 
white-columned  mansions. 

In  some  of  the  great  estates  stand  splendid  palaces  with 
magnificent  grounds  as  in  Arkhangelskaia  and  Marfino  in  the 
Moscow  government.  And,  on  the  other  hand,  there  are  land- 
owners who  by  rank  belong  to  the  gentry,  but  who  possess 
little  land  and  live  in  a  condition  hardly  differing  from  that 
of  the  peasantry.  The  steppe  pomicshchik,  again,  is  a  type 
apart  and  so  are  pomieshchiks  from  beyond  the  Volga.  In 
the  south-eastern  region  and  Siberia  the  conception  of  a 
pomicshchik  as  understood  in  the  centre  and  the  north  of 
European  Russia  is  simply  lost  amidst  various  categories  of 
Cossacks,  peasants,  colonists,  and  big  and  small  farmers 
of  a  more  or  less  American  type. 

The  typical  pomicshchik  has  no  exact  counterpart  in  Eng- 
land. He  is  neither  a  country  squire  nor  a  yeoman  farmer, 
though  he  may  have  features  characteristic  of  both.  Very 
often  he  is  in  the  government  service  and  devotes  his  chief 
energies  to  administrative  work,  regarding  his  estate  merely 
as  a  place  of  repose  and,  under  favourable  conditions,  as  a 
source  of  income.  During  the  winter  months  he  and  his 
family  live  in  the  city,  and  the  estate  is  left  in  charge  of  a 
steward  who  may  possibly  be  a  German  or  a  Lett,  but  is,  as 
often  as  not,  a  shrewd  peasant  from  a  neighbouring  village. 
There  are  honest  stewards,  but  the  average  steward  has  an 
elastic  conception  of  his  rights  and  privileges,  and  the  absen- 
teeism of  many  proprietors,  and  the  light-hearted  indifference 
they  often  display  to  the  business  of  the  estate  when  they 
do  come  down  to  it  during  the  summer  months  almost  irre- 
sistibly tempt  to  peculation.  Even  if  the  proprietor  is  not 
in  the  Government  service  he  probably  prefers  to  live  in  the 
city  or  in  the  government  town,  and  then  it  may  easily 
happen  that  the  owner  of  a  considerable  estate  can  barely 
scrape  together  enough  money  to  pay  the  rent  of  his  flat, 
while  his  steward  on  the  distant  estate  builds  himself  a  roomy 
and  comfortable  mansion.     A  landowner  in  the  Novgorod 


.   RUSSIAN    COUNTRY   GENTLEMAN    (OLD  TYPE) 

f  °OF    •) 


Peasants  and  Proprietors  365 

government  built  on  his  estate  a  house  of  stone.  One  day 
his  Steward  came  to  St.  Petersburg  with  a  melancholy  story 
of  a  storm  having  risen  and  the  house  having  been  swept 
away  by  the  river  Volhov.  The  landowner  shook  his  head 
sadly,  but  it  was  long  before  he  learned  that  the  steward  had 
simply  pulled  the  house  down  and  sold  the  materials. 
This  experience  must  have  disheartened  the  landowner, 
for  he  sold  his  estate  through  the  Peasants'  Bank, 
then  made  unfortunate  investments  and  was  finally 
ruined. 

Indeed  the  habits  acquired  by  the  gentry  during  centuries 
of  serfdom  are  not  to  be  thrown  off  in  a  day.  When  a  man 
inherited  an  estate  which,  having  serfs  upon  it,  produced 
wealth  almost  mechanically,  fed  and  clothed  its  proprietor 
and  provided  him  almost  without  any  exertion  on  his  part 
with  the  money  he  needed  for  living  in  the  cities  and  for 
travelling,  he  would  naturally  pay  close  attention  to  the 
working  of  the  estate  only  if  he  were  personally  interested 
in  agriculture  or  were  resolutely  bent  on  adding  to  his  wealth. 
There  were,  under  the  old  system,  many  pomieshchiks  who 
scraped  and  saved  and  sat  year  in,  year  out  on  their  estates 
without  ever  visiting  the  city,  who  flogged  the  maximum  of 
work  out  of  their  peasantry,  outwitted  their  weaker  neigh- 
bours, and  by  dint  of  economy,  careful  calculation,  and  end- 
less litigation  succeeded  in  greatly  increasing  the  extent  of 
their  property.  These  were  the  methods  that  secured  for 
the  Grand  Princes  of  Moscow  their  supremacy  over  their  neigh- 
bours. But  the  Grand  Princes  of  Moscow  also  brushed  aside 
the  laws  which  led  to  an  incessant  disintegration  of  big 
estates  by  providing  that  all  the  sons  should  inherit  equally. 
The  ordinary  pomieshchik  could  in  no  way  evade  this  law, 
and  the  consequence  was  that  after  a  father  had  spent  a 
lifetime  in  extending  the  frontiers  of  his  property  farther  than 
the  eye  could  reach,  his  death  would  mean  the  splitting  up 
of  the  estate  into  five  or  six  fragments,  and  it  was  not  to  be 
expected  that   all  the  sons  would  inherit   the  acquisitive 


•/ 


366  Russia  of  the  Russians 

instincts  of  their  parent.  Moreover,  the  habit  of  recruit- 
ing the  ranks  of  the  administration  and  of  the  army 
officers  from  among  the  country  gentry  encouraged  the 
growth  of  the  type  of  pomieshckik  who  drew  his  income 
from  his  estate  without  ever  troubling  as  to  how  it  was 
raised. 

This  passive  and  receptive  attitude  to  the  soil  lingers  on 
to  a  great  extent  among  the  country  gentry,  and  its  traces 
are  constantly  met  with  even  on  estates  the  proprietors  of 
which  are  enlightened  and  progressive  Zemstvo-workers,  are 
eagerly  interested  in  agriculture,  and  personally  superintend 
the  cultivation  of  the  soil.  A  subtle  fatalism  seems  to  be 
latent  in  the  homes  of  the  gentry.  There  are  endless  diffi- 
culties, but  it  seems  to  the  proprietors  incredible  that  they 
should  be  insurmountable.  A  way  out  is  sure  to  be  found, 
things  cannot  be  as  bad  as  they  appear.  Some  one  is  sure 
to  help,  either  the  Government  or  the  elements  or  some 
vague,  friendly  Providence.  Indeed,  the  gentry  are  just  as 
responsible  as  the  peasantry  for  the  prevalence  in  Russian 
conversation  of  such  comfortably  optimistic  phrases  as 
Obrazuietsia  {"  It  will  come  out  all  right"),  or  the  expressive 
interjections,  Avos  and  Kak-nibud  ("  May  hap  I "  and 
"  Somehow  or  other  "). 

The  Government  does  a  great  deal  to  justify  the  confidence 
of  the  gentry.    There  is  an  institution  called  the  State  Land 

Bank,  which  was  formed  twenty-four  years 
State-aid.  after  the  emancipation  when  it  had  become 
clear  that  the  gentry  for  all  their  wealth  in 
land  could  not  cope  with  the  difficulties  of  this  new  situation 
without  direct  financial  aid.  The  Government  needed  a  class 
of  landed  gentry,  and  since  the  gentry  showed  a  tendency 
to  let  their  land  slip  out  of  their  hands,  to  turn  it  into  money 
as  soon  as  possible  and  then  to  squander  the  proceeds,  it  was 
the  policy  of  the  Government  to  find  means  for  maintaining 
the  connection  between  the  gentry  and  the  land.  The 
Gentry's  Bank  accordingly  advances  sums  on  mortgage  at  a 


Peasants  and  Proprietors  367 

low  rate  of  interest,  and  on  such  easy  conditions  that  the 
advance  practically  amounts  to  a  donation  which  enables 
the  Government  to  hold  the  land  in  trust  for  the  mortgagee 
and  to  prevent  its  passing  too  rapidly  into  the  hands  of 
private  money-lenders,  or  members  of  other  classes.  Even 
such  paternal  action  often  fails  of  its  effect,  however,  and  a 
quarter  of  the  estates  now  mortgaged  are  registered  as  having 
passed  from  the  possession  of  gentlemen  into  that  of 
representatives  of  other  classes.  The  total  number  of  estates 
mortgaged  in  the  Bank  is  over  26,000,  the  amount  advanced 
on  which  is  nearly  660  million  roubles,  or  about  67  million 
pounds  sterling.  The  greater  number  of  estates  mortgaged 
are  in  such  central  governments  as  Tula,  Orel,  Kursk,  and 
Riazan.  The  Bank  is  a  kindly  institution,  and  until  recently 
it  was  very  tolerant  of  the  weaknesses  of  the  gentry,  though 
it  is  growing  stricter  now.  There  is  a  pleasant  ritual  when 
the  pomieshchik  comes  to  pay  interest  on  the  mortgage ; 
complaints  on  the  part  of  the  pomieshchik  of  hard  times  and 
inability  to  pay  the  full  sum,  commiseration  on  the  part  of 
the  Bank  officials,  but  insistence  on  the  absolute  necessity  of 
paying  the  entire  amount,  expostulation  from  the  pomiesh- 
chik, further  demurring  from  the  official,  a  little  gentle  bar- 
gaining, the  retirement  of  the  official  to  inner  rooms  where 
consultations  are  held,  after  which  the  official  with  a  sigh 
accepts  the  smaller  amount  and  remits  the  remainder  until 
the  following  term  when  the  scene  is  re-enacted. 

All  the  benevolence  of  the  Government  does  not  avail, 
however,  to  establish  any  great    fixity  of   tenure  for  the 

families  of  the  gentry.    The  inheritance  law 

Ultw  Estate*     ls    resP°nsible    f°r    constant    perturbations. 

The  right  of  primogeniture  does  not  exist 
in  respect  of  purely  Russian  estates — the  eldest  son  has 
an  advantage  only  if  the  family  possesses  an  entailed  estate 
in  Polish  districts  where  the  right  of  primogeniture  does 
prevail — and  all  the  sons  inherit  equal  portions,  while  a 
daughter's  interest  is  one-fourteenth.     Then  the  growing 


368  Russia  of  the  Russians 

economic  strength  of  other  classes  menaces  the  gentry.  An 
emancipated  serf  makes  money  as  a  contractor  and  advances 
cash  to  his  former  master  on  the  security  of  considerable 
areas  of  meadow  or  forest  land  ;  the  security  is  not  redeemed, 
the  land  falls  into  the  peasant's  hands.  He  becomes  a  timber 
merchant,  buys  or  mortgages  forests  from  the  neighbouring 
gentry  who  are  usually  glad  enough  to  sacrifice  timber  to  save 
their  estates,  to  pay  for  the  education  of  their  children  or  for 
travelling,  or  to  cover  a  variety  of  debts  that  have  been  con- 
tracted in  the  cities.  The  estates  of  the  gentry  grow  smaller, 
those  of  the  timber  merchant  grow  larger.  The  merchant's 
sons  inherit  a  large  property  and  develop  it.  The  surrounding 
peasants  earn  good  money  in  timber-felling  and  rafting,  for 
the  merchant  and  the  gentry  find  the  wages  for  agricultural 
labourers  rising  and  the  difficulty  of  securing  labour  increas- 
ing. Some  of  the  gentry  shrink  back  in  alarm  before  the 
growing  difficulties,  and  after  exhausting  all  possible  methods 
of  raising  money  on  their  land  abandon  the  task  in  despair, 
finally  dispose  of  their  estates  and  become  townsmen  pure 
and  simple.  Others  devise  new  methods  of  production  and 
cultivation,  build  a  starch  factory  and  grow  acres  of  potatoes 
to  keep  it  going,  start  a  brick-kiln  if  the  soil  is  suitable,  or 
a  flour-mill,  a  distillery  or  some  similar  enterprise,  or,  if  there 
is  access  to  a  good  market  engage  in  dairy-farming,  or  else 
try  to  improve  the  quality  of  their  land  by  scientific  manuring 
or  by  draining  swamps.  Those  landowners  who  take  their 
estates  seriously  and  exploit  their  resources  according  to 
modern  methods  as  a  rule  succeed  in  keeping  their  heads 
above  water,  but  that  section  of  the  gentry  which  is  unable 
to  take  a  keen  interest  in  agriculture  and  resigns  itself  to  the 
will  of  kindly  fates  is  being  gradually  elbowed  off  the  land 
by  pushing  merchants  and  well-to-do  commission  agents 
and  shrewd  peasants  and  various  keen-eyed  financiers.  Often 
the  landowner  sells  his  estate  for  a  song,  and  has  the  bitterness 
of  seeing  the  purchaser  make  a  fortune  out  of  land  that  he 
himself  had  considered  valueless. 


Peasants  and  Proprietors  369 

This  flux  in  land  tenure  is  inevitable  under  the  modernising 
process  through  which  Russia  is  now  passing.  The  break-up 
of  the  peasant  commune  and  the  creation  of  a  class  of  peasant 
farmers  with  private  property  means  that  these  farmers,  in  so 
far  as  they  are  successful,  will  add  to  their  property  by  pur- 
chasing land  from  the  gentry.  And  so  there  will  be  from  all 
sides  a  steady  encroachment  which  only  economically  strong 
proprietors  will  be  able  to  resist.  The  result  will  undoubtedly 
be  immensely  to  increase  the  productiveness  of  the  soil  in 
European  Russia — for  it  is  in  European  Russia  that  the 
change  is  chiefly  felt.  It  is  obvious,  even  to  the  inexperienced 
eye,  that  far  less  is  made  of  Russian  estates  than  might  be 
made,  not  to  speak  of  the  land  of  the  peasants.  The  tra- 
veller who  makes  the  railway  journey  via  Berlin  to  Moscow 
or  St.  Petersburg  is  inevitably  struck  by  the  contrast  between 
the  level  of  cultivation  in  the  estates  and  farms  of  East  Prussia 
and  those  in  Russia,  and  the  difference  between  the  agricul- 
ture of  Central  Russia  and  that  of  the  Baltic  Provinces  is 
also  very  marked.  A  Western  farmer  habituated  to  the 
microscopic  niceties  of  intensive  culture  on  small  patches  of 
land  is  astonished  at  the  waste,  at  the  indifference  to  rich 
opportunities  so  often  met  with  on  Russian  estates.  The 
final  break  with  the  traditions  of  serfdom,  the  development 
of  individual  initiative  and  of  a  determination  to  exploit  the 
resources  of  the  soil  to  the  utmost,  to  make  money  by  farming 
instead  of  depending  on  barely  aided  nature,  should  mean  a 
startling  increase  of  national  wealth. 

Yet  there  is  much  to  cherish  in  the  period  that  is  now 
passing  away.     It  was  a  period  that  distinctly  encouraged 

the  development  of  the  arts  and  the  humani- 
A  Retrospect,     ties.   Russian  culture  was  in  the  first  instance 

and  still  largely  is,  a  culture  of  the  landed 
gentry.  The  qualities  that  have  made  Russian  culture 
familiar  to  Western  Europe  came  to  consciousness  in  the 
society  of  the  capitals  and  ripened  to  their  mature  expression 
in  great  works  of  art  in  the  leisure  of  the  estates.    The  novels 


370  Russia  of  the  Russians 

of  Tolstoy,  Turgeniev,  and  Goncharov  are  impregnated  with 
the  spirit  of  the  period  and  stand  as  its  permanent  monuments. 
Tolstoy,  during  the  'seventies,  before  he  experienced  his  religi- 
ous crisis,  managed  his  estate  with  great  skill  and  energy 
and  considerably  increased  his  property.  Turgeniev  was  a 
typical  barin  or  gentleman,  drawing  an  income  from  his 
estate,  delighting  in  its  associations,  but  incapable  of  devoting 
his  energies  to  its  management.  There  were  books  in  the 
manors,  and  music,  a  pleasant  interchange  of  visits,  a  broad 
hospitality,  a  happy  manner  at  once  courtly  and  genial,  a 
life  gracious  and  slow-moving,  with  a  hundred  protecting 
patriarchal  ways  and  a  caressing  atmosphere  of  abundance 
and  security.  The  spring  exodus,  too,  from  the  towns  with 
servants  and  bag  and  baggage,  the  long  summer  idleness, 
the  rush  back  to  the  towns  when  autumn  evenings  became 
chilly — these  are  characteristic  attributes  of  Russian  culture 
which  were  directly  connected  with  the  estates.  The  life  of 
the  gentry  had  its  unfavourable  aspects,  too,  in  a  frequent 
laxity  and  distaste  for  effort.  But  the  protest  against  the 
gentry  came  largely  from  the  gentry  themselves.  It  was  a 
Liberal  party  among  the  gentry  that  led  the  movement  for 
emancipation  from  the  close  of  the  eighteenth  century  on- 
wards. There  were  liberals  who  gained  the  name  of  "  The 
Repentant  Gentry."  A  large  number  of  the  country  pro- 
prietors did  useful  work  in  the  Zemstvo  and  took  part  in  the 
agitation  for  a  constitution.  A  great  many  revolutionaries 
and  so-called  Nihilists  belonged  to  landowners'  families,  and 
on  being  released  from  prison  returned  to  their  estates  to 
rest.  There  was  for  a  long  time  and  still  is  a  close  connection 
between  the  gentry  and  the  intelligentsia,  and  many  char- 
acteristic features  of  the  latter  are  explicable  as  a  result  of 
this  connection.  Altogether  the  contribution  of  the  landed 
gentry  to  modern  Russian  culture  has  been  one  of  first-class 
importance. 

To  balance  this  contribution  there  is  the  record  of  serfdom 
and  the  fact  that  there  now  exists  among  the  landed  gentry 


Peasants  and  Proprietors  371 

a  heavily  conservative  and  reactionary  element  which  is 
strongly  hostile  to  progress  and  which  loses  no  opportunities 
of  checking  the  advance  of  the  constitutional  movement  and 
of  turning  it  backwards.  This  section  of  the  gentry  forms, 
in  fact,  the  bulwark  of  the  reaction.  It  represents  the  stub- 
born protest  of  a  class  that  feels  its  economic  and  social 
position  threatened  by  the  forces  of  change.  As  though 
recognising  that  the  elaborately  traditional  organisation  for 
the  protection  of  the  interests  of  the  gentry — the  Assemblies 
of  the  Gentry  with  a  Marshal  of  the  Gentry  in  each  district 
and  government,  various  funds  for  the  aid  of  the  gentry, 
ward  over  the  estates  of  minors  and  spendthrifts,  education 
at  the  expense  of  the  State  in  certain  privileged  schools  and 
so-forth — were  insufficient  to  stem  the  tide  that  threatened 
the  existence  of  the  class,  they  formed  an  Association  of  the 
United  Gentry  to  whose  influence  the  dissolution  of  the 
Second  Duma  and  the  modification  of  the  electoral  law  were 
mainly  due.  In  this  organisation  the  gentry  of  Kursk  take 
the  leading  share.  Some  of  its  members  described  themselves 
as  zubry,  aurochses,  the  last  representatives  of  an  almost 
extinct  species,  and  the  epithet  was  caught  up  by  the  press 
and  public,  is  now  in  constant  use,  and  characterises  the 
general  attitude  towards  the  Association.  This  reactionary 
organisation  does  not  include  the  majority  of  the  gentry,  who, 
to  judge  by  the  Duma  elections,  are  generally  Conservative 
Constitutionalists  in  politics. 

But,  at  any  rate,  the  change  is  in  process,  and  is  working 
itself  out  in  a  gradual  encroachment  of  the  new  middle-class 
of  the  towns  on  the  land,  in  the  rapid  extension,  especially 
in  South-eastern  Russia  and  Siberia  of  the  area  under  culti- 
vation, in  the  growth  of  the  wheat  export  trade  from  Southern 
Russia,  in  a  very  largely  increased  demand  for  agricultural 
machinery  and  implements,  in  a  growing  competition  between 
industry  and  agriculture  for  labour  and  a  consequent  rise  in 
wages,  in  the  development  of  co-operation  and  the  new  move- 
ment of  inquiry  amongst  the  peasantry.    It  is  an  astonishing 


372  Russia  of  the  Russians 

process,  so  immense  in  its  range  and  sweep  that  once  begun 
it  seems  bound  to  acquire  an  irresistible  impetus.  It  is  the 
economic  corollary  to  the  recently  completed  conquest  of 
the  great  plain.  And  before  this  prospect  the  difficulties  and 
dangers  of  the  present  seem  less  formidable  than  when 
viewed  in  the  narrow  perspective  of  to-day. 


CHAPTER   XII 

TRADE  AND  INDUSTRY 

A  few  years  ago  the  peasants  of  a  village  not  far  from  St. 
Petersburg  were  haymaking  in  meadows  by  the  riverside 

when  to  their  amazement  they  saw  a  she-bear 

I  dF°t?ar0*      ^k  *wo  cu^s  swimm*n&  towards  them  across 

the  stream.  The  bear  landed,  and  taking  no 
notice  of  the  peasants,  some  of  whom  fled  in  terror  while 
others  vainly  gave  chase  with  scythes  and  other  implements, 
pursued  into  the  nearest  forest  the  way  it  had  so  oddly 
taken.  Probably  the  ancestors  of  these  peasants  would  have 
shown  more  alertness  and  resource  in  dealing  with  the  bear. 
Long  ago  in  the  early  ages  of  their  history  the  mkin  occupa- 
tion of  the  Russians  was  the  capture  of  wild  animals  and  the 
sale  of  their  skins.  This  occupation  constituted,  in  fact,  the 
basis  of  Russian  trade.  The  many  wandered  about  the 
forest  hunting  or  gathering  the  wax  and  honey  of  wild  bees, 
while  the  comparatively  few  who  lived  along  the  great  trade 
routes  bought  up  the  products  of  the  chase  and  sold  them 
in  exchange  for  the  varied  products  of  a  higher  civilisation, 
from  gaudy  beads  to  rich  silks  and  gold  ornaments,  to  the 
foreign  traders  who  came  sailing  inland  from  outlying  seas. 
It  was  this  trading  class  that  with  the  help  of  foreign  corsairs 
founded  the  Russian  State. 

But  that  period  has  receded  into  the  dim  distance  of  legend. 
In  the  Novgorod  region  a  bear  nowadays  is  a  rare  and  per- 
plexing interruption  in  the  routine  of  husbandry.  Hunting 
from  being  the  staple  business  of  the  people  has  dwindled 
down  to  the  sport  of  the  few,  of  the  proprietors  of  the  large 
estates,  and  of  the  members  of  sporting  clubs,  the  officials, 
judges,  and  business  men  who  come  down  from  the  city  for 
week-ends  to  shoot  in  preserves  guarded  by  gamekeepers  and 
foresters.     And  not  often  does  a  bear  or  an  elk  or  any  wild 

373 


374  Russia  of  the  Russians 

animal  but  a  fox  or  a  hare  fall  to  the  lot  of  the  average  sports- 
man in  the  greater  part  of  European  Russia.  Birds  are  the 
chief  prey — grouse,  snipe,  partridge,  woodcocks,  quails,  and 
so  forth — and  the  sport  thus  provided  satisfies  the  ambitions 
of  most  amateur  huntsmen.  But  as  human  beings  have 
multiplied  and  spread  over  the  plain  the  wild  beasts  have 
been  driven  back  beyond  the  Urals.  No4t  the  Russian  fur 
traders  in  St.  Petersburg  and  Moscow  have  to  make  annual 
journeys  to  the  fur  markets  in  Siberia,  and  in  Irbit  they  buy 
up  the  sables  and  ermines  for  which  Ostiaks  have  hunted 
along  the  Ob,  or  Tartars  and  Soiots  in  the  Altai  ranges,  or 
Yakuts  in  the  region  of  the  Yablonoi  and  Stanovoi  mountains. 
London  and  Leipzig  are  the  chief  fur  marts  of  the  world, 
and  skins  and  furs  are  a  mere  detail  of  Russian  trade  as  they 
are  of  the  world's.  Agriculture  has  succeeded  to  the  chase, 
and  the  chief  article  of  export  is  now  corn  in  its  several 
varieties,  wheat,  barley,  oats,  rye,  and  buckwheat,  over  seven 
hundred  millions  of  poods  of  which  are  sent  abroad  annually. 
But  as  hunting  gave  place  to  agriculture,  as  the  Russian 
population  grew  and  its  dominions  extended,  the  transit 
trade  over  the  plain  was  gradually  transformed  into  internal 
Russian  trade.  What  happened  in  the  olden  days  was  that 
Northmen,  Arabs,  and  Greeks  traded  across  the  plain,  so  to 
speak,  over  the  heads  of  the  Russians,  the  Russians  getting 
only  the  scraps  that  fell  by  the  way.  .  But  by  the  time  the 
Russians  had  fought  their  way  out  to  the  sea-coasts  they  had 
made  the  plain  self-sufficing.  It  was  no  longer  with  its 
rivers  a  mere  waste  expanse,  a  mere  immense  distance  to  be. 
crossed  like  the  sea  with,  by  the  way,  some  profit  of  wild 
beasts  and  skins  instead  of  fish.  It  was  the  seat  of  a  big 
political  organism  different  from  both  the  East  and  the  West 
to  whose  mutual  needs  the  plain  had  formerly  ministered, 
and  possessing  a  very  curious  economic  life  of  its  own.  The 
merchant  had  been  together  with  the  warrior  the  creator  of 
the  State  because  he  was  perpetually  concerned  with  the 
outside   world.    The   merchant   was   always   dealing   with 


';£ 


Trade  and  Industry  375 

foreign  merchants  who  were  called  guests.  But  by  the  v 
time  of  Peter  the  Great  the  merchants  were  no  longer  politi- 
cally the  most  important  members  of  the  community.  They 
had  fallen  into  their  places  as  middlemen  in  a  big,  clumsy, 
agricultural  community  in  which  the  landowners  naturally 
took  the  lead.  Peter  made  the  merchants  more  important 
than  they  had  been  by  opening  a  way  out  to  Europe,  and 
the  importance  of  the  merchant  class  has  steadily  risen  in 
proportion  as  Russia  has  been  steadily  drawn  into  the  move- 
ment of  world  trade.  But  many  traces  of  the  process  of 
development  still  linger.  The  Russian  merchant  is  not  like 
those  of  other  countries.  In  his  mental  make-up,  in  the 
traditions  and  conventions  of  his  class  there  is  something  of 
the  Moscow  merchant  who  under  the  Tartar  yoke  was 
accustomed  to  trade  chiefly  with  the  East,  and  of  that  St. 
Petersburg  merchant  who  was  as  often  as  not  a  German, 
and  at  any  rate  was  strongly  influenced  in  all  his  dealings 
by  Germans  and  Swedes.  It  is  the  latter  type  that  has  been 
the  means  of  slowly  modernising  the  others,  and  the  process 
of  modernisation  is  still  going  on,  is  not  yet  complete,  and 
is  centred  not  in  St.  Petersburg  but  in  Moscow,  the 
heart  of  the  Empire. 

The  Russian  merchants  have  not  wholly  ceased  to  form 
a  world  apart.     They  constitute  one  of  the  five  classes  or 

castes    into    which    the    population    of   the 
The  Merchant.  Empire  is  divided,  and  the  effects  of  this 

division  in  creating  a  strong  class  feeling, 
with  well-marked  class  customs  and  deep  class  prejudices 
are  still  very  clearly  visible,  although  modern  commer- 
cialism is  doing  its  levelling  work.  The  English  word 
"  merchant "  has,  indeed,  a  slightly  incongruous  sound  as 
applied  to  members  of  the  Russian  trading  class.  In  Eng- 
land the  word  seems  suggestive  of  a  city  man  in  silk  hat  and 
frock-coat,  of  an  alderman,  of  the  Tabard  Inn,  or  of  the 
portly  head  of  some  mediaeval  Venetian  firm.  The  Russian 
merchant  is  a  different  being,  although  he  certainly  has  many 

25— (2400) 


376  Russia  of  the  Russians 

mediaeval  characteristics.  He  is  called  a  kupiets,  or  buyer, 
which  is  a  word  having  the  same  root  as  the  German  kauf- 
mann  or  our  "  chapman."  Not  so  many  years  ago  most 
members  of  the  class  wore  a  characteristic  costume,  a  long 
kaftan  of  dark  cloth,  hooked,  not  buttoned,  up  to  the  neck, 
a  belt  around  the  waist,  baggy  trousers,  top-boots,  neck- 
cloth, and  peaked  cap.  A  beard  was  worn  and  the  hair  cut 
so  as  not  to  hang  lower  than  the  nape  of  the  neck.  This 
costume  may  be  still  frequently  seen  in  the  smaller  towns, 
and  the  way  in  which  its  various  elements  are  combined 
with  modern  articles  of  clothing  indicates  the  extent  to  which 
the  process  of  Westernisation  has  developed.  The  peak  cap 
and  top-boots  often  linger  on  when  the  kaftan  has  given  place 
to  a  humdrum  jacket.  Starched  shirts  and  collars  are  adopted 
last  of  all.  The  merchants  have  their  own  peculiar  modes 
of  speech,  their  quips  and  cranks,  their  own  elaborate  eti- 
quette. They  are  punctilious  in  their  observance  of  church 
ritual — not  a  few  of  them  are  Old  Believers — pay  serious 
attention,  in  contrast  to  the  intelligentsia,  to  the  details  of 
eating  and  drinking  and  the  mere  process  of  living  generally, 
are  very  hospitable  within  their  own  circle,  and  make  much 
of  festivals  and  family  events  such  as  births,  marriages,  and 
deaths.  The  typical  merchant  of  the  not  distant  past  could 
hardly  read  or  write.  He  kept  no  books — the  word  for  book- 
keeper in  Russian  is  borrowed  from  German — but  had  a 
peculiarly  retentive  memory  for  figures  and  facts.  Business 
deals  were,  as  a  rule,  effected  in  traktirs,  or  tea-rooms,  over 
endless  glasses  of  weak  tea.  Shop-signs  took  the  form  of 
pictures  suggestive  of  the  kind  of  goods  sold,  and  even  now 
the  practice  is  retained  in  provincial  towns  and  many  quarters 
of  the  cities.  The  picture  of  a  sad-eyed  ox  on  the  edge  of  a 
precipice,  or  a  sheep  gazing  in  blank  astonishment  into  space 
proclaims  to  the  illiterate  the  existence  of  a  butcher's  shop; 
a  baker's  shop  displays  on  its  signboard  big  round  loaves 
and  a  curling  krendel ;  while  the  rigid  forms  of  spiritless  fish 
declare  that  within  you  may  purchase  the  rich  produce  of 


Trade  and  Industry  377 

Russian  rivers  and  Northern  seas,  from  the  antediluvian 
sturgeon  to  the  common  herring.  How  recent  is  the  time 
when  the  bulk  of  merchants  and  customers  alike  were  innocent 
of  letters ! 

In  Russian  literature  the  merchants  have  received  far  less 
attention  than  the  gentry  and  the  peasantry,  and  in  the 
masterpieces  generally  known  to  Western  readers  they  are 
almost  unrepresented.  They  are  admirably  described  in  the 
comedies  of  the  best  of  the  Russian  dramatists,  Ostrovsky, 
which  are  frequently  played  in  the  Imperial  theatres.  Cer- 
tain sides  of  merchant  life  are  dealt  with  in  the  stories  of  a 
present  day  writer,  Remizov.  The  typical  Russian  merchant 
is  now  rapidly  giving  place  to  the  modern  business  man. 
Education  is  spreading.  The  merchant  sends  his  son$  to 
high  school  and  University,  and  when  they  return  to  carry 
on  the  business  they  infallibly  break  with  the  old  ways  and 
introduce  modern  methods.  Or  else  they  fall  away  alto- 
gether from  the  merchant  class  and  enter  the  professions  or 
the  Government  service.  Perhaps  they  take  a  keener  interest 
in  foreign  trade  than  their  fathers,  although  it  must  be  ad- 
mitted that  many  merchants  of  the  older  type  displayed 
great  shrewdness  in  this  respect.  One  Moscow  merchant, 
who  is  illiterate  and  naturally  not  acquainted  with  foreign 
languages,  went  to  England  over  a  decade  ago  and  there 
established  what  proved  to  be  a  successful  branch  of  his 
business.  But  the  younger  men  sometimes  study  abroad  in 
German  commercial  high  schools  or  even  in  Universities  and 
come  back  full  of  new  ideas  as  to  the  conduct  of  business  and 
of  new  views  on  life  generally.  If  the  older  generation  was 
conservative  in  its  business  methods  and  social  and  political 
views  the  younger  generation  is  in  the  main  progressive. 
But  the  older  generation,  especially  in  Moscow,  was  far  from 
being  wholly  untouched  by  the  humanities  and  can  display 
some  munificent  patrons  of  art  and  learning.  The  Tretiakov 
Gallery,  the  best  of  Russian  picture  galleries,  was  presented 
to  the  city  of  Moscow  by  the  family  of  the  merchant  whose 


378  Russia  of  the  Russians 

name  it  bears.  Another  merchant  named  Shchukin,  who 
recently  died,  transformed  his  house  into  a  rich  museum 
containing  amongst  other  things  the  best  collection  of  Post- 
Impressionist  pictures  in  Europe.  Wealthy  Moscow  mer- 
chants again  have  contributed  liberally  to  the  endowment 
of  the  Commercial  Institute,  an  institution  of  higher  learning 
which  possesses  almost  University  rank.  Frequently  Moscow 
merchants  employ  the  best  architects  and  painters  to  build 
and  decorate  their  houses,  sometimes  with  admirable  results, 
though  not  infrequently  the  effect  is  spoiled  owing  to  some 
headstrong  caprice  of  the  proprietor.  In  any  case,  broad  and 
enlightened  views  are  making  great  headway  amongst  the 
Moscow  merchants  who,  because  of  their  wealth  and  their 
central  position,  take  the  lead  in  the  Russian  commercial 
world. 

One  very  important  factor  of  modernisation  is  the  partici- 
pation of  for