Volume One only

Butler & Tanner, the Selwood Printing works, Frome, and London. 

Translated from the French by EDWARD AVELING, D.Sc. 

[Scanned original text source]

SAC editor has added bold-face and hypertext links to SAC [ID], 
better to meet the needs of our course. 
Transliteration from the Russian has been altered 
to conform with contemporary scholarly usage.


Of late years Russia has attracted more and more of 
the attention of England and the civilised 
world. This attention is the more significant, as 
its object is not now, as formerly, only the Government. 
That which engages it is the country itself, i.e., 
the people. Many publications on Russia, 
multitudes of translations from Russian novelists, 
are a clear proof of this. 

I hope, therefore, that I need not explain the reasons 
that have urged me to undertake this 
work. I have tried, as much as possible, to bring it 
within the reach of the general public by making 
it as brief as possible, and at the same time sufficiently 
thorough and serious for the reader 
to study in it Russia as a whole. 

Russia as a social organism is my subject. I aim at 
describing political and social Russia just 
as it is, with its infinite territories, peopled by 
millions of peasants, uncultured but full of sympathetic 
qualities ; with its oddly organised classes ; with its 
intelligentsiia [ID??], that martyr of its historic 
mission ; with its political problems, so mysterious, so 
involved. I see before me this land that causes 
so much suffering to those who love her, and yet knows 
how to attach them to her so strongly that 
no sufferings on her behalf terrify them. I am 
thinking of the poet's cry : 

" Poor and rich, 
Powerful and powerless, 
Oh, Mother Russia ! " 

Will this image rise to the eyes of my reader ? 
It is for him to answer the question. 

An indispensable explanation is yet necessary. Not 
knowing enough French to write ' in that 
tongue, I wrote the work in Russian, and then translated it 
with the help of my friend, M. Albert Savine. I made a literal 
translation : M. Savine gave to this translation a literary style. Thus 
the purely literary form of the book belongs to his able pen. 
I may add that I have always been struck with the refinement 
of M. Savine's taste ; and although he does not know 
Russian, I find he has rendered admirably the finest shades of meaning 
in my text, a task the more difficult as my ideas 
often, by his own confession, go far beyond, and 
sometimes are in opposition to, his. 

Moreover, my book owes to M. Albert Savine certain 
slight alterations in the arrangement of the 
chapters, etc. Finally, and most important, I 
owe to M. Savine many hints as to the side of Russian 
life most likely to interest the general public. If, 
therefore, the reader finds this book answer in any 
way the questions he wants to ask about Russia, he 
will bear in mind that he owes this in a great 
measure to my collaborator. Without his help, the 
attainment of this end would have been very difficult 
for one addressing a public unknown to him and so 
different from the Russian audience to which he 
is accustomed. 


February, 1886. 

NOTE BY THE TRANSLATOR [from the French into English]. 

I HAVE tried to translate the work of Leo Tikhomirov 
accurately, but I would not wish to be understood as 
necessarily endorsing every opinion expressed in it 
Whilst in almost every case such an endorsement would 
be forthcoming, there are one or two instances in 
which his ideas, though not. I believe, going beyond 
mine, are to some extent in opposition to them. 

E. A. 


BOOK 1. 


Chap. I. 
Russia as a name in political geography, and the Russian nation. — 
Weakness and fragility of great empires. — 
The vitality of Russia. — 
Her manner of historical development. — 
This essentially the development of her people  . . . . . 5 

Chap. II. 
Population of Russia. — 
Population of Russian race. — 
Population of foreign race. — 
Slight influence of the latter. — 
Distribution of these populations . . . . . . . . . . . . 11?? 

Chap. III. 
Finland. — 
Union on the basis of equality. — 
Its consequences. — 
Ancient liberties of Finland. — 
Modus vivendi. — 
Strategic importance of Finland to Russia. — 
Why the Finlanders are growing uneasy  . . . . . . . . . 15 

Chap. IV. 
Baltic provinces. — 
Importance of their ports to Russia. — 
Lithuanian race. — 
German conquerors. — 
Land question. — 
Stupid indifference of the Government . . . . . . . . . . 23 

Chap. V. 
Poland. — 
Polish and Russian population. — 
The Ukraine and White Russia Questions. — 
Historical. — 
Miliutin's ideas ; his agrarian reform. — 
Ties between Poland and true Russia. — 
Evil policy of the Government. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 

Chap. VI. 
Bessarabia. — 
The Crimea. — 
The Caucasus and Georgia. — 
Armenia. — 
Policy (economic and police) of the Government of 
such a nature as to involve the loss to Russia of their services ..... 44 

Chap. VII. 
Turkestan. — 
Indigenous populations. — 
The Russian Government only knows how to conquer. — 
Conflict with England, commercial and, one of these days, military . . . . . . . • 55 

Chap. VIII. 
National feeling in the Ukraine. — 
Shevchenko and the Nationalists contemporary with him. — 
Popular aspirations. — 
The Nationalists do not satisfy these. — 
Dragomanov and his influence. — 
Summary and conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 



Chap. I, 
Russia considered physically. — 
Influence of its unity of climate and soil on the unity of the Russian people. — 
Influence of the struggle for life on this unity. — 
Differences of provincial types. — 
The three great Russian races . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 

Chap. II. 
Characteristic traits of these three races, as shown in their popular songs and tales. — 
Differences of dialect . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 

Chap. III. 
The Cossacks. — 
Their part in history. — 
Organization of the Cossack "army." — 
Policy of the Government in respect to the Cossacks.— 
Discontent to which this has given rise among them . . . . 85 

Chap. IV. 
Germans and Jews. — 
German pretensions to have civilized Russia. — 
Great influence on Russian policy of the Germans of the Baltic. — 
German labor colonies. — 
The part they have played in southern Russia. — 
The Jews. — 
Their importance as part of the people. — 
Their despised position. — 
Polish and Caucasian Jews. — 
Rights of domicile. — 
Jews in the administration and in the schools. — 
Economic role of the Jews. — 
Their poverty and their plundering. — 
The Semitic question. — 
The means to its solution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93 



Chap. I. 
The Tartar invasions have nipped in the bud the development of the germs of a landed aristocracy and of a commercial class. — 
The ancient village in Russia. — 
The primitive mir. — 
Preponderating importance of the popular class. — 
Their indirect action on authority. — 
In their eyes serfdom was only a transitory institution. — 
They connect serfdom rather with the mir, the one asylum of liberty . . .107 

Chap. II. 
"What the mir is. — 
Russian villages : the izba ; the door. — 
The osmak. — 
Organization of labor. — \
Administration of the mir. — 
The Assemblies. — 
Woman's rights. — 
Administrative control. — 
Division of the soil. — 
Communal labor. — 
Why the sharing of land came to an end. — 
Its renewal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115 

Chap. III. 
The clan. — 
Early agriculture and markets. — 
Individual property. — 
The volost. — 
Who were the landowners? — 
The family commune. — 
The fractional commune. — 
Origin of the mir. — 
The chetvertniks. — 
Illustrations. — 
The commune of the mir. — 
Mobility of the population. — 
Development of self-government. — 
Illustrations. — 
Influence of foreign elements. — 
The average of the commune family and of the individual family. — 
Influence of the Government. — 
Demands of the peasants. — 
Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 130 



Chap. IV. 
The mir contrasted with the political system of the country. — 
Naivete of popular ideas. — 
Confusion of effects due to physical phenomena with those due to political. — 
Illustrations from travellers' observations and popular tradition. — 
Belief in sorcerers. — 
The legend of emancipation. — 
Contempt for human dignity. — 
The Great Family of old . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 174 

Chap. V. 
The people take part in the moral movement. — 
The Schism : its causes and effects. — 
The sectarians : their role in Russia itself. — 
The action of Europe. — 
The educated classes draw near the people. — 
[Dmitrii] Tolstoi's ministry; Russian schools. — 
The "otkhojie promysly;" their importance in the life of the Russian people. — 
Disappearance of the " ancient family." — 
Family partitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 188 



Chap. I. 
Is there any other organic force in Russia than the people and the tsar ? — 
The Muscovite autocracy, and its part in history. — 
Its degeneration into tyranny. — 
The tsars try to concentrate around them the upper classes, tamed . . 205 

Chap. II. 
The Russian clergy. — 
Church organization. — 
The part played by our clergy as police. — 
Black and white clergy. — 
Tyranny of the black clergy. — 
Absence of moral influence. — 
Persecution of the raskol. — 
[Dmitrii] Tolstoi's clergy. — 
Nihilism carries off the flower of the ecclesiastical youth. — 
The real clergy and the imperial policy . . . . . . . . . 215 

Chap. III. 
The old princely aristocracy. — 
The Russian nobility. — 
Their reinforcement from the plebs. — 
The tchin. — General effeteness of the nobility. — Ancient 
privileges and serfdom. — The horrors of serfdom. — Serf 
revolts. — The nobility's function as civilizer. — Intro- 
duction into Russia of the ideas of Western Europe. 
— The nobility and the ukase of emancipation. — What 
they ought to do, and what they do. — Liberal nobility. 225 
Chap. IV. The bourgeoisie. — Bourgeoisie of the towns. — 
Russian capitalism. — No third estate in Russia. — Primi- 
tive accumulation. — Frauds and thefts the source of 
fortunes. — Business jobbers. — The village bourgeoisie: 
koulaks and miroieds . . . . . . .247 


Chap. I. 
Natural riches of Russia. — 
Its poverty from the point of view of effective products. — 
Total yearly production. — 
Revenue per head. — 
State expenses. — 
Rapid growth of the population out of proportion to the increase in the national revenue. — 
Russian agriculture and industry, their backward position .... 265 

Chap. II. 
The Crimean War revealed to Russia her economic inferiority. — 
Emancipation of the serfs. — 
Government policy opposed to logic. — 
Agriculture the chief economic force in Russia. — 
Large landed property. — 
Peasant holdings. — 
Measures antagonistic to the extension of these last. — 
Buying-up speculations. — 
The land crisis. — 
Exportation stationary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 271 

Chap. III. 
Industry. — 
Action of Government in favour of large capital. — 
Speculation. — 
Joint-stock companies. — 
Railroads. — 
Protectionist tariffs. — 
Trans-Caucasus and frontier questions. — 
Germans in Poland. — 
Wonderful remedy proposed by Katkov. — 
Commercial balance sheet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 281 

Chap. IV. 
State finances. — 
Their condition. — 
State debt. — 
Deficit and monetary crisis. — 
Depreciation of the ruble . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . 292 

Chap. V. 
Democratic character of landed property. — 
Transmigration of the peasants. — 
Policy of the Government. — 
Local industries. — 
Initiative of the peasants. — 
Crisis in these industries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  296 

Chap. VI. 
Material condition of the Russian people. — 
Budget of the well-to-do family and of the indigent. — 
Workmen's wages — 
Budget of the Muscovite peasants. — 
Food. — 
Famine-bread. — 
Growth of population. — 
Births and deaths . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 306 


VOL. I. 


Chap. I. 
Russia as a name in political geography, and the Russian nation. — 
Weakness and fragility of great empires. — 
The vitality of Russia. — 
Her manner of historical development. — 
This essentially the development of her people. 

Chap. II. 
Population of Russia. — 
Population of Russian race. — 
Population of foreign race. — 
Slight influence of the latter. — 
Distribution of these populations. 

Chap. III. Finland. — Union on the basis of equality. — Its 
consequences. — Ancient liberties of Finland. — Modus vivendi. — 
Strategic importance of Finland to Russia. — Why the Finlanders 
are growing uneasy. 

Chap. IV. Baltic provinces. — Importance of their ports to 
Russia. — Lithuanian race. — German conquerors. — Land question. 
— Stupid indifference of the Government. 

Chap. V. Poland. — Polish and Russian population. — The 
Ukraine and White Russia questions. — Historical. — Miliutin's 
ideas ; his agrarian reform. — Ties between Poland and true 
Russia. — Evil policy of our Government. 

Chap. VI. Bessarabia. — The Crimea. — The Caucasus and 
Georgia. — Armenia. — Policy — economic and police — of the 
Government of such a nature as to involve the loss to Russia of 
their services. 

Chap. VII. Turkestan. — Indigenous populations. — The 
Russian Government only knows how to conquer. — Conflict 
with England, commercial and — one of these days — military. 

Chap. VIII. National feeling in the Ukraine. — Shevchenko 
and the Nationalists contemporary with him. — Popular aspira- 
tions. — The Nationalists do not satisfy these. — M. Dragomanov 
and his influence. — Summary and conclusion. 


Russia as a name in political geography, and the Russian 
nation. — Weakness and fragility of great empires. — The 
vitality of Russia. — Her manner of historical development. 
— This essentially the development of her people. 

Glance at the map of Russia ; then try to imagine, 
with closed eyes, the endless space before you. 
Unbidden this question comes into your mind: Is 
Russia in truth a country, or is it only a geographi- 
cal name ? Can there be a real inner bond uniting 
all these populations, so far asunder ? In truth, 
what bond can exist between an inhabitant of Kamt 
chatka and an inhabitant of Podolia, seeing that, 
from the nature of the means of communication, 
the mere passing from one of these countries to 
the other implies a three or four months' journey ? 
Even if we imagine a train travelling at forty kilo- 
metres an hour, without stopping, straight from the 
western frontier to the eastern limit of Russia, it 
would take not less than a fortnight to traverse this 
distance of 15,000 kilometres; and at his journey's 
end the traveller mi^ht congratulate himself on 
having passed through a territory greater than 
Europe and Australia taken together, a territory 


equal to one-sixth of the land on the globe — 
22,311,997 square kilometres. 1 

In truth this seems too large for a nation. His- 
tory furnishes some examples of gigantic monarchies. 
Thus the Mongolian empire was much larger than 
Russia. Turkey, at the time of its magnificence, 
had a territory of 10,000,000 kilometres. England, 
with its colonies, actually exceeds Russia by 464,000 
£3 kilometres. But who would regard one of these 
states as a single country ? England has India and 
Canada. No one will say that these are English 
countries. For centuries Turkey held Greece or 
Bulgaria. It has always been clear that there was 
no organic connexion between these countries and 
their conqueror, although the latter had imposed 
upon them its political name. This is a character- 
istic of all huge monarchies, and the explanation of 
their comparatively short duration. Do we not see 
a handful of mountaineers in the Pyrenees keep 
their organic unity for centuries, whilst, one after 
the other, by the side of this handful of Basques, 
the empire of Rome, the eternal city, the universal 
empire of Charlemagne, the empire of Charles V., 
on which the sun never set, appear, wax, and 
wane ? 

These great memories of history haunt you when 
you picture to yourself the enormous territory of 
Russia. Can we find there any part endowed with 
organic unity ? Is it but a fragile conglomeration, 
like the empires of Attila and of Tamerlane ? This 

1 For the sake of comparison, let us remember that France, exclusive of its colonies, 
contains only 528,577 square kilometres ; Germany, 544,907; Austria, 624,045. 


last supposition seems the more plausible, seeing 
that in the list of Russian nationalities there are, with- 
out reckoning foreigners, more than seventy names. 
How can these diverse peoples be held as one ? 
Ought we not to expect to see Russia break up one 
of these fine days, leaving in its place a number of 
independent countries ? 

Without working out in full this question — I 
shall eive later on some details that will make the 
reader clear on this point, — it is certain that one fact 
thoroughly proven is always worth more than any 
number of suppositions. Russia is a fact humanity 
has had plenty of time to grasp. The existence of 
gigantic artificial empires, like the Oriental ones, is not 
lasting. Russia has existed already more than five 
hundred years as a state, more than a thousand as a 
national unity. What changes she has seen around 
her during all these centuries ! She was present at 
the astounding rise and at the final fall of the Tartar 
empire. She saw the birth of that powerful Otto- 
man empire whose inevitable death is now but a 
question of years. Born at the same time as Russia, 
Poland has already passed through all the stages 
of political growth and decomposition. Kindred 
revolutions have occurred in Western Europe. The 
power of Spain blossoms and decays. The temporal 
power of the popes is born and dies. A crowd ot 
small political organisms — the Netherlands, Den- 
mark, Sweden — have reached those extreme limits 
of growth which they cannot pass. . . . And 
Russia ? Russia lives, develops always ; she has not 
passed her highest point, is not upon the downward 
path that leads to decrepitude. She marches rather 


towards a completeness as yet unachieved. Her 
appearance has little likeness to that of states that 
have only an artificial existence. Even in the growth 
of the Russian empire the presence of some unknown 
organic force is felt. That growth in no way re- 
sembles the conquests of Tamerlane, which ten years 
afterwards were as if they had not been. Russia 
grows without pause through whole centuries. 

The Russian state had in the 15th century 
560,000 kilometres; in the 16th, 8,720,000; in the 
17th, 14,392,000; in the 18th, 17,080,000; in the 
19th, 22,311,992. The regularity and steadiness 
of advance in these figures should be noted. Yet 
more significant is the fact that very often the 
increase in size of the state was preceded by an 
increase in size of the national territory. Large 
areas, north, east, south, were often occupied or 
conquered by the people before the Government 
dreamed of taking them. It has even come to pass 
that the Government has refused to take under its 
protection territory that the Cossacks have con- 

Hence the characteristic phenomenon, that the 
growth of Russian territory depends but little on 
the genius of its rulers. That growth did not cease 
under imbecile sovereigns like Theodore I., nor 
did it cease at the times of the greatest political 
confusion. The beginning of the 1 7th century was 
for Russia a period of political disorganization that 
almost ended in the loss of her independence. 
Nevertheless, whilst in 1598 she had a territory of 
8,792,000 square kilometres, in 1645, at the end of 
this troublous time, she had raised it to 14,000,000. 


The same phenomenon occurs in the second quarter 
of the 1 8th century. It is clear that this fact cannot 
be ascribed to the accidental successes of great con- 
querors, and that its causes must be sought more 
deeply than these, in the very life of the nation. 

The vitality of Russia is shown yet more clearly 
in her times of trial. Our history is that of a cease- 
less struggle, that more than once has brought the 
people to bay. From 1238 Russia bowed beneath 
the yoke of the Tartar conquerors, a terrible yoke 
borne by her for two centuries. Half- vanquished, 
torn limb from limb, she nevertheless recovered 
strength enough to rise and to re-enter on the scene 
with more power of resistance than ever. During 
the troublous times at the beginning of the 17th 
century, Russia, torn by civil war, was not only 
without a reigning dynasty, but without a national 
Government. Part of her territory was invaded by 
the Swedes ; the rest to a great extent conquered 
by the Poles, who held even the capital of the 
empire. Russia had no longer either an army or 
an administration. The boyards, who formed the 
miserable provisional Government of the country, 
decreed, under the Polish soldiers' bayonets, the 
accession of Prince Vladislas to the Muscovite 
throne. On a sudden from all sides resounded 
the voices of patriots ; not tsars, nor great boyards, 
nor governors, nor officials, but men of the people, 
— inferior nobles like the brothers Liapounov, the 
monk Abraham Palitzine, a small trader, Kouzma 
Minine. Prince Pojarskii, whose family had long 
fallen, was the most eminent of them. A general 
revolt breaks out in Russia. Small bodies of 


insurgents (chichis, they were called) vanquish the 
Polish army. A militia of 100,000 men approaches 
Moscow ; this finding itself powerless, countless new 
troops come from the hearts of the provinces. 
That mighty struggle, ending in a complete deliver- 
ance of the fatherland, is borne by the people. 
Even after the tsar is nominated, the National 
Assembly (zemskii-sobor) sits for many years ; and 
it is above all to the energy and prudence of its 
representatives that Russia owes her freedom. 

Do not these history-memories proclaim the 
organic forces of Russia, forces whose activity does 
not cease even in times of political disorganization ? 
These forces more than once put to nought the 
calculations of conquerors, who as a rule only saw 
in Russia her Government. Thus, in 16 12, the 
Jesuits, always at one with the kings of Poland as 
to every conquest of Russia, thought it sufficient to 
strike a strong blow at the centre of government. 
A century later, Charles XII., King of Sweden, 
based all his calculations on an understanding with 
the Government of the Ukraine. The plans of 
Napoleon I., 1 who thought he had only to fight 
Alexander I., were always thwarted by the people. 

1 Napoleon I., however, with the keen nose of a man who be- 
longs by birth to a revolutionary time, had some suspicion of the 
importance of the masses of the people : he tried to seduce the 
Russian serfs by promises of emancipation. This timid attempt 
produced no result. The popular imagination has, however, been 
influenced by the memory of the great conqueror. Even at the 
present time among our sectarians there is a group called Napoleon- 
ovchtchina (Napoleonians), who worship Napoleon's portrait. As 
to the bulk of the people, they confuse him with Antichrist. 


Population of Russia. — Population of Russian race. — Population 
of foreign race. — Slight influence of the latter. — Distribution 
of these populations. 

If we now examine more in detail the composition 
of the Russian population, the existence of a national 
unity will not astonish us so much. It is true the 
Russian empire includes more than seventy different 
nationalities ; but we must not exaggerate the 
importance of this fact. Of 100,000,000 inhabit- 
ants of the empire, the Russian race reckons as 
67,000,000, so that there are left for all other races 
only 33,000,000. Thus the number of each of the 
latter cannot be large ; in fact, the Finnish race — the 
most numerous, except the Slav, in Russia — forms 
only six per cent, of the population of the empire, 
and moreover is broken up into eleven varieties, 
separated one from the other by enormous distances, 
by difference of speech, by utter absence of inter- 
course. Besides, many of these races are savage 
tribes of some thousands of people. x Speaking 

1 E.g. Samoyedes, 25,000 ; Vogoulis and Ougres, 2,000 ; 
Mongols of Siberia, 5,000 ; Ioukaghirs, Tchouktchis, Guiliaks, 
Kamtchadals, together, 40,000. The mountain tribes of the Cau- 
casus (Karatchais, Oubikhs, Koumiks, Svanets, Ossetines, etc.) 
are often not more numerous ; each only numbers from 5,000 to 
25,000 people. These examples might be multiplied. 


generally, we might ignore one-half of them with- 
out the population of the empire really dimishing 
one-half per cent. These small tribes, in fact, 
can be left more and more out of our calculations, 
partly because they are assimilating to the Russians, 
partly, unhappily, on account of the mortality, at 
times terrible, among them. 

Of course some of the peoples of the empire not 
belonging to the Russian race are of more import- 
ance than this. Whole provinces have had their his- 
tory, and preserve even to-day a highly developed 
language and a civilization at times superior to that 
of the purely Russian race. These provinces occupy 
part of the west and south of Russia. Finland, 
the governments of the Baltic, Lithuania, Poland, 
part of Bessarabia, the governments situated beyond 
the Caucasus, are all so many countries where 
Russia is looked upon as a stranger. Often these 
provinces are only kept in subjection by aid of 
bayonets and the police. Yet, eliminating all these 
countries hostile by nature to Russia, we have left 
after all a colossal territory, inhabited by a purely 
Russian race, with here and there a small number 
of inhabitants belonging to other races. This 
territory, of more than four million square kilo- 
metres, stretches in European Russia from the Arctic 
Ocean to the Black Sea and the Caucasus. Of the 
population upon this territory, the Russian race 
forms ninety per cent. In Asia, the territory almost 
exclusively peopled by Russians occupies all the 
south of Siberia and from the Oural to the Pacific 
Ocean (at least five million kilometres). To give 
the exact figures of the Russian population in this 


district is impossible, but half of the population of 
Siberia is Russian. Whatever that population may 
be, Siberia belongs, beyond doubt, to the Russians ; 
the natives — small savage tribes — have been driven 
to the forests and the marshy plains of the north, 
and cannot be our rivals. 1 

There are, however, among the aborigines of 
Siberia, races capable of civilization, 2 e.g., the 
Yakouts (nearly 250,000), and especially the Bouri- 
ates (nearly 260,000). But these races easily come 
under Russian influence, and hence are not able to 
bring about any political complication. 

At the eastern end of the empire, on the banks 
of the Amour and Oussouri, are provinces to which 
China may lay claim. These provinces belonged 
to her formerly. Excepting these, the other twelve 
to thirteen million square kilometres of Siberia are 
incontestably Russian. 

Thus, not reckoning those provinces of the empire 

1 Of one of these tribes, a writer whose sympathy with all the 
oppressed is indisputable, says : " The Ostiaks belong to the 
category of races that are dying out. One can see this at the 
first glance. They are very weak and stunted. Two Ostiaks can 
get into a canoe so small that it could scarcely carry one Euro- 
pean of average size. It is sad to see these half-naked savages 
trotting alongside a river. The men are only clothed in a shirt, 
dirty and almost in rags. Their bellies and heads seem dispro- 
portionately big. Their horribly thin feet make them look like 
birds." — Debagoryi-Mokrievich : "Memoirs", in the Messenger 
of the Will of the People, No. I. 

~ An historian of some ability, Chtchapov, was descended on 
his mother's side from the Bouriates. The mother of the revo- 
lutionist, Xeoustroev, shot lately, was an Iakoutka. The cele- 
brated traveller, Mikloukha-Maklai came also from a Siberian 
race, I do not know which. Similar examples are not infrequent. 


that have with Russia only a connexion more or 
less artificial, we still find a territory of seventeen 
£-j to eighteen million kilometres for Russia properly 
so-called, a territory inhabited by 77,000,000 people, 
of whom 67,000,000 are pure Russian. The pre- 
dominance of the Russian race explains to a certain 
extent, therefore, that national unity so often mani- 
fested in history. 

We see, then, that Russian nationality is firmly 
fixed in the empire, although this consideration 
certainly does not destroy the importance of the 
question of nationalities in Russia. 

To speak of, to insist upon, this question, is not 
to lose sight of the aim of this book. On the con- 
trary, it limits very rigidly its subject-matter. Our 
study cannot, in fact, pass the point at which the 
purely Russian provinces end. If the author were 
to write, not upon actual Russia alone, but also 
on Poland, Finland, Georgia, etc., his book would 
become a library. 

The existence of immense provinces, only held by 
Russia through force of bayonets and the omnipo- 
tence of the police, is in itself an internal question 
of great gravity. The periodical risings in Poland 
absolve me from the necessity of urging this point. 

In speaking, then, of Russia, I must devote 
some pages to its frontier provinces, concerning 
myself especially with the firmness of the ties that 
join them to the Russian state, and with the im- 
portance to the imperial interests of the possession 
of these provinces. 


Finland. — Union on the basis of equality. — Its consequences. — 
Ancient liberties of Finland. — Modus vivendi. — Strategic im- 
portance of Finland to Russia. — Why the Finlanders are 
growing uneasy. 

Russia proper is surrounded, as I have already- 
noted, on the southern and western side by a large 
belt of three million square kilometres, peopled to 
the number of at least twenty-four millions by sub- 
jects of stranger races. Hence the peculiar aspect 
of the Russian empire. Its maximum of force is at 
the centre, its relative weakness at the circumference, 
in the stranger bark that invests the central pith. 
Russia, however, shows in its different frontier pro- 
vinces different degrees of solidity or, if you will, 
of weakness. Further, the importance to Russia of 
the question of nationalities is not the same in all 
her provinces. Let us look, therefore, at the position 
of affairs in each of them. 

On the north-west frontier, between Russia and 
Sweden, lies a large country named Finland ; it 
occupies a territory of 380,000 square kilometres, 
and includes more than 2,000,000 people (250,000 
Swedes, the rest Finns). Amongst European races 



the Finnish race has kinship with the Hungarians 
only. Once on a time it was a very numerous and 
very powerful race, that occupied immense territories 
in Europe and in Asia ; but little by little it has 
been absorbed by other peoples, 1 and now it is only 
to be found in Russia, dispersed as small groups in 
many places. 

The Finnish language has nothing; in common 
with the Swedish. But Finland, conquered by the 
Swedes more than six hundred years ago, and in 
their power until the peace of Tilsitt, 2 which gave 
it to Russia, bears even now the stamp of Swedish 

Finland, although conquered by Russia when 
fighting against the Swedes, was annexed on a 
footing of equality, not as a conquered province. 
This is seen even in the title that the Russian tsars 
take : " We, by the will of God, Emperor and 
Autocrat of all the Russias, Tsar of Poland, Grand 
Prince of Finland, etc." Alexander I., who now 
and then made a parade of liberal ideas, said that 
the annexation of Finland to Russia was simply her 
deliverance from the power of Sweden. Anyhow, 
Finland still has her own constitution, her own 
administration, diets, customs, budget, even her own 
tiny army ; all which does not prevent Russian bat- 
talions from holding all the Finnish fortresses. 

Finland is really the only part of Russia in which 
the representatives of the people can control the 

1 The Great Russians especially have in their veins a mixture 
of Finnish blood. 

2 One part of Finland moreover (as far as the river Kumene) 
was in the hands of Russia in 1741. 


Government ; the individual is secure from arbitrary 
administration, the press is free. 

At the time of the annexation, sympathy with 
Sweden was strong in the country ; even to-day 
it exists. But the end of the Swedish rule was 
the signal for a grave crisis ; the Finnish race, 
that forms the great majority of the population, 
resolved to raise its voice. Until then the only 
literary language was that of Sweden, and a Finn 
who by education got out of the ruck, became ipso 
facto a Swede. By degrees the Finnish language 
was adopted in the law courts, in political life, in 
literature, so that to-day it is almost the ruling 
tongue. The Finnish race has come to life again, 
and is in contest with the Swedish. This contest is 
not exactly political, but it involves very important 
political consequences. 

The more Finnish Finland becomes, the more 
she separates herself from Sweden — hence the 
stronger motive she has for alliance with Russia. 

That is why the Russian Government has always 
fostered the national tendencies of the Finns. 

It is, however, necessary to add, that Finland, in 
breaking off her connexion with Sweden, contracted 
no moral bond with Russia. To reach the frontier 
of Finland from St. Petersburg only takes an hour's 
railway journey, and yet, this frontier passed, one 
has the impression of being thousands of kilometres 
from St. Petersburg. 

It is difficult to imagine two countries that know 
less of, have so little interest in, one another. As 
a rule, the Finn does not like the Russian, on 
whom he looks down ; and the Russian is absolutely 

vol. i. c 


indifferent to what concerns the Finns. Events of 
social interest for Russia find an echo in Georgia, 
in Poland, on the Amour, but have no effect in 
Finland, where a Parisian revolution would be pro- 
bably more talked of than one at St. Petersburg. 

It is difficult to picture two social types so un- 
like as Russia and Finland. Finland 1 is an honest, 
hard-working citizen, whose life is lucrative, based 
on reason, — but always monotonous and some- 
what sad. Russia is a reckless student, some- 
times drunk, sometimes starving, capable of every 
folly, but capable also of sublime things, and always 
more concerned with the great problems of humanity 
than with paying his landlady. These two char- 
acters, so wide asunder, harmonize the better the 
less Russians and Finlanders meddle with one 
another's affairs ; this is in fact the modus Vivendi 
of the two peoples. 

We may lay it down, that as long as Russia does 
not prevent Finland from living according to her 

1 Finland calls to mind in many things Switzerland : its people 
are hard-working, honest, energetic ; they know how to make 
life independent and easy. Finland has no proletariat ; the 
majority of its population has property in land. To a certain 
extent this is due to the obstinate efforts of the local " senate." 
The soil of Finland is barren ; moreover, the name signifies " a 
country of lakes and marshes." If we added, "and of granite 
rocks," the description would be complete. But, despite all these 
disadvantages, thanks to the perseverance of its inhabitants, the 
country is now covered with fields in full cultivation. The wheat- 
production, however, is not enough to feed the Finlanders ; they 
eke this out by the produce of their commerce and industry. The 
Finlanders are excellent sailors ; their fleet consists of 1,593 
ships. In 1875 tne number of factories was 419, with a produce 
of io,ooOjOoo rubles. 


own taste, that country will remain her faithful ally. 
In the Crimean War, Finland fought bravely for 
Russia ; in the last war against Turkey, the Fin- 
landers fought valiantly with Russia upon the far-off 
plains of Bulgaria. 

It is so much the more easy to find a modus vivendi 
favourable to the interests of both peoples, in that 
Russia only needs Finland from the point of view 
of strategy. St. Petersburg is, as we have said, 
only one hour from the frontier of Finland, and to 
Finland still belongs all the coast north of the Gulf 
of Finland. Protected by the guns of Sweaborg, 
a hostile fleet could blockade Cronstadt and St. 
Petersburg. In a word, once in the hands of 
Russia's enemies, Finland would be a terrible 
weapon against her. She was such a weapon often 
in former times during our wars with Sweden. 

From all other points of view, Finland is of no 
importance to Russia. Her ports are remote from 
our commercial routes ; her soil produces nothing 
absolutely essential to us. The greatest possible 
development of her forces in no way threatens our 
interests as a nation ; for in all the provinces along 
the frontier of Finland, Russia is absolutely at home. 
On her part, the more Finland develops as a 
Finnish country, the less reason has she for oppo- 
sition to political union with Russia ; and this the 
more as she needs Russian wheat for her own con- 
sumption, and Russian markets to get rid of her 
products. In 18S2, the amount of importation into 
Finland was 13,000,000 rubles in goods of Russian 
origin j 1 and its exportation to the empire was more 
1 Wheat represented six of these thirteen millions. 


than 15,000,000 rubles (over 1 0,000, oco, manufac- 
tured goods). It will be seen that this account 
is not without profit for the trade of the great 
principality ; and the Finlanders, it would seem, 
ought only to desire that their friendly relations 
with the empire may last as long as possible. 

Unfortunately, to reckon thus is to reckon with- 
out the host. Take him into account, and all is 
changed. A despotic government, with millions of 
bayonets for its agents, is a subject of great uneasi- 
ness to the Finlanders. The great principality can- 
not forget the fate of Poland, also the recipient of 
a constitution at the hands of Alexander I. One 
caprice of a despot can annihilate the political free- 
dom of the country ; now Russia is not badly off for 
despots, nor for despots that are very capricious at 

This ceaseless fear stops the political develop- 
ment of Finland. The Assemblies try at all costs 
to avoid changing the constitution, that they may 
not set an example to their terrible Grand Duke. 
Thus it is that the parliamentary constitution still 
retains an indescribably odd mediaeval aspect ;* 
whilst the nobility, under the pressure of modern 
life, has given up all its privileges. Thus it is, 
again, that new classes are little by little formed, that 
remain unrepresented in the National Assembly. 1 

1 The National Assembly is divided into four chambers, 
nobility, clergy, bourgeoisie, peasants. For every decision the 
consent of three chambers is necessary, in some cases that of all 
four. The power of this assembly, according to the ideas of to- 
day, is very wide. Its convocation is a right of the Grand Duke 
(the Emperor of Russia), who calls it together whenever he thinks 


Until now Finland has been resigned to all these 
disadvantages ; but these are increasing as reaction- 
ary tendencies grow upon the Russian Government. 
The St. Petersburg police find the protection ac- 
corded to individual liberty by the constitution daily 
more inconvenient. The arbitrary arrest, in 1882, 
of two Finland citizens at Helsingfors, the capital 
of the principality, called forth an energetic protest 
from the Senate. The reactionary party around 
Alexander III. is always working against the "un- 
just privileges " of Finland. The rigid protec- 
tionists, who have, these last few years, sacrificed 
all general political interests to those of the manu- 
facturers of Moscow, sing the same song. In 
Moscow the competition of Finland is looked upon 
as insurmountable, and the Government, in its weak- 
ness, is beginning to multiply the barriers between 
the empire and the great principality. 

Further, the Finlanders are asking themselves, 
again and again, this question : " What are we get- 
ting from Russia ? What are the advantages tO' 
make us forget the inconveniences of our union with 
an arbitrary country?" Discontent, hitherto dumb,, 
is being shown more and more frequently in hostile 
manifestations against Russia, 1 and these manifesta- 
tions, in their turn, are fresh reasons alleged in favour 
of a decisive policy by the Russian reactionaries. 

This is the situation to-day. The danger is not 
serious yet ; but if the domination of the reactionary 
party continues at St. Petersburg, very serious com- 

1 In 1885, at Helsingfors, was inaugurated a monument in 
memory of a Finland general who, when serving in the Swedish 
army, vanquished the Russians in a skirmish. 


plications must be expected. And these are so 
much the more probable, as between Russia and 
Finland there are none of those historic ties that 
cannot be severed without sorrow, without regret. 


Baltic provinces. — Importance of their ports to Russia. — 
Lithuanian race. — German conquerors. — Land question. — 
Stupid indifference of the Government 

Crossing the Gulf of Finland, we find on the oppo- 
site shore a territory that is also not purely Russ. 
Here are the Baltic provinces, Esthonia, Livonia, 
Courland, reaching on the north to St. Petersburg, 
and touching on the south Lithuania. 

This large tract of land separates Russia from 
the Baltic, and wholly shuts off her communications 
with this sea. To these provinces, St. Petersburg 
excepted, belong all the ports of the Baltic Sea, ports 
— like Revel, Riga, Windau, Libau, Port Baltic — 
essential to Russian trade. The western Dwina, one 
of the largest rivers of Russia, runs into the sea here. 
Besides, in the Baltic ports end many railway lines 
that carry goods from provinces the most remote, 
e.g. from the province of Veronej. The commer- 
cial interests of a very large part of Russia are there- 
fore closely bound up with the ports of the Baltic. 1 

1 Riga alone is responsible for one-tenth of our exportation. 
The trade of Libau in 1883 represented nearly 70,000,000 rubles. 
The exportation of Revel is 126,000,000 rubles. 


The loss of them would mean to Russia the loss of 
part of her economic independence. That is why- 
she has fought so many wars to retain possession of 
this country, and why she will never give it up to 
any other power. Fortunately the interests of the 
majority of the provinces on the Baltic are identical 
with those of Russia. 

These provinces have been peopled by Lithuanian 
and Finn races ; but their commercial importance 
has drawn to them Russians from the most ancient 
times. In the iith century, the Dukes of Polotzk 
and the citizens of the republic of Novgorod pos- 
sessed part of the country. At the same time the 
eastward movement of German emigration was 
beginning. The Crusaders (an order of Livonian 
knights) seized the Baltic provinces, forcibly bap- 
tized the inhabitants, and reduced them to slavery. 
Conquered at the same time by the Tartars, Russia 
could not in any way prevent the German invasion. 
Later on, this order became an independent state, 
in which the German minority formed the dominant 
classes (nobility and trading bourgeoisie), whilst the 
majority (the enslaved native population) formed 
the peasant class. 

When Russia was freed from the Tartars, she 
was cut off from Europe. The Germans of Livonia 
tried to keep in their hands the monopoly of com- 
merce ; they prevented the science, art, industry of 
Europe from passing into Russia. In a word, they 
tried, as long as possible, to keep Russia in a state 
of barbarism. This egotist policy was not without 
success : for centuries, it stopped the progress of 
civilization in Russia. But the necessity to Russia 


of creating for herself an outlet on the Baltic only 
came out the more clearly. Hence broke out a 
struggle, lasting nearly two hundred years, for the 
possession of these provinces. At first it was war with 
Livonia, then war with Sweden and Poland, that got 
hold of this district. At last, under Peter the Great, 
Russia can breathe freely ; she has succeeded in cut- 
ting out a window overlooking Europe, and even in 
opening for herself a wide outlet on this coast. 

That is the history of these provinces so essential 
to Russia. 

Is this annexation likely to be lasting ? What 
are the feelings of the provinces themselves towards 
Russia ? To answer these questions, it will be use- 
ful if I enter into some economic and social details. 

Of 2,000,000 inhabitants of the Baltic provinces, 
the German race can only claim an insio-niricant 
minority ; this is shown by the following table : 

of other 


of Natives, 

of Germans, 

of Russians, 



876 . 

• 7'9 • 

. 4-0 . 

• °'5 


8 7 -2 . 

io*6 . 

• 17 • 

• °'5 


79-6 . 


. 16 . 

. 82 

In spite of their insignificant number, the Germans 
own everything in the country — land, legal rights, 
power, honours. Trade, industry are in their hands. 
A glance at the accompanying table shows to what 
a position the native working population has sunk. 

8,497,000 desiatinas. 1 
6,168,037 „ 

90,998 „ 

Total territory . . . 
Nobility (Germans) . . 

The State 

Peasants (natives) . . 
Clergy (mostly Germans) 

1 A desiatina= 109 ares (100 ares = 2\ acres). 


The remainder belongs to the towns, that is, for 
the most part, to Germans. 

In few countries is the distribution of land so 
unjust as this. Nor must it be forgotten that the 
nobility in three provinces only number 5,924. To 
this handful of men belong three-fourths of the 
soil ; only one-fourth is left for the innumerable 
peasant class. The old social order of the country, 
left almost untouched by the Russian Government, 
increases still further the predominance of the 
German element, by giving up to it the administra- 
tive and judicial authority. Add to this the manners 
of a conquering people, whose wont it is to treat 
the native population as slaves, and you can form 
some idea of the condition of the Baltic peasants. 

Nowhere in Russia are the people subjected to 
such arbitrary treatment. The Russian journals 
are full of proofs of this. In 1885, one Hekken, 
a landowner, shot dead a certain Krasmus for no 
better reason than that Krasmus dared to cross 
Hekken's meadow. The Russian papers made even 
more stir about a Livonian pastor, who cudgelled a 
poor herdsman and left him half dead. The herds- 
man became an idiot. But the fuss made by the 
journals led to no result. The unworthy servant 
of God remained unpunished. But the judges of 
the Baltic are much less indulgent to the natives. 
According to the newspapers, they have old soldiers, 
whom the law exempts from corporal punishment, 
whipped. A justice of the peace condemned a 
woman — I do not know what was her offence — 
to exile in a wild forest. The unhappy creature 
remained there for some weeks with her children 


crying from hunger, without shelter from the rain, 
the cold, and the forest insects. Of course only the 
despotic caprice of this pretended justice of the 
peace invented this extraordinary and barbaric 

The native population has, however, passed the 
stao-e in which men bear, without a murmur, such 
treatment. Among the peasants, especially among 
the Latichs of the Lethonian race, a powerful 
national movement is noticeable during the last 
twenty years. These Latichs, in spite of the 
efforts of the Germans, have succeeded in working 
out their language, in creating a literature ; they 
already have some journals, and are demanding 
equal political and social rights with the Germans. 
As to the mass of the people, more and more fre- 
quently it is beginning to oppose force by force, 
violence by violence. The last year or two the 
number of agrarian crimes have called to mind 

Up to the present time the Russian Government 
has done almost nothing either on behalf of the 
natives or for the reform of institutions. The 
barons of the Baltic provinces hold all the adminis- 
trative and military posts, and enjoy the favour of 
the Government. 1 A Russian satire has it : "A 
German always has a Russian heart ; oh, why don't 
Russians have hearts as Russ ? " The Government 

1 The nobility of the Baltic provinces has furnished the Govern- 
ment with a certain number of eminent functionaries. For 
example, General Todleben, the glorious defender of Sebastopol, 
who has since bartered this glory for the miserable notoriety 
gained by his cruel repression of the revolutionary movement at 


however, accords some little protection to the natives, 
and is making some hesitating - attempts at reform- 
ing institutions. Opinion in Russia has always en- 
couraged and protected the national resurrection of 
the Latichs ; it has always urged the Government 
to restrain the arbitrary behaviour of the upper 
classes. As a consequence the Russians are popu- 
lar enough amongst the native population. It may 
be said, without fear of error, that any attempt on 
the part of the Germans to separate the provinces 
from the empire would meet with energetic opposi- 
tion from four-fifths of the population. 


Poland. — Polish and Russian population. — The Ukraine and 
White Russia questions. — Historical. — Miliutin's ideas; 
his agrarian reform. — Ties between Poland and true Russia. 
— Evil policy of our Government. 

In Lithuania and in Poland the position of Russia 
is much more complex and much less firm than in 
the provinces of the Baltic. The insurrection of 
1863, and the yet more terrible rising of 1831, are 
not forgotten. Two more revolutions like these 
would be enough to make the annexation of these 
countries a very doubtful matter. 

The region as to which Poland and Russia are 
still in dispute stretches from the Prussian and 
Austrian frontiers to the banks of the Dnieper, a 
space of 600,000 square kilometres. It is what is 
called historic Poland, or the Poland of 1772. 1 But 
the natural territory of Russian Poland, as well as 
the area of its influence, is much more restricted. 
The area of historic Poland is naturally divided into 

1 To reconstitute the Poland of 1772, Gallicia and Posen 
must be added : the former belongs to Austria, the latter to 
Prussia. At the most flourishing time in her history (the 16th 
century), Poland was much more extensive — 1,1 76,000 kilometres. 


four divisions, socially: Poland proper (123,874 
square kilometres), Lithuania (1 18,452 kilometres), 1 
White Russia, and Little Russia, on the Ukraine. 
The natives of Lithuania are a race apart, having 
nothing in common with either the Poles or the 
Russians. " TiieisAs^ttja^^W^^ 

What is then the number of Poles scaftered""over 
the surface of these territories ? The Poles, occupy- 
ing in a compact mass the territory of the kingdom 
of Poland, may be reckoned at five million, two 
or three hundred thousand. In the other provinces 
the nobility and the bourgeoisie alone — in some, the 
latter alone — are Poles. In the kingdom of Poland 
the Poles make up 64 per cent, of the whole popu- 
lation ; in Lithuania, 10 per cent. ; in the Ukraine 
(on the right bank of the Dnieper), 28 per cent. ; 
in White Russia, 7 per cent. These last numbers 
certainly have little importance, but the ethno- 
graphical composition of a country is not every- 

The Bretons differ as much from the inhabitants 
of the east of France as the Lithuanians from the 
Poles. The Alsatians belong to a German race. 
Bretons and Alsatians are, however, alike French, 
heart and soul. History reveals to us most clearly 
the real sympathies of peoples. Let us then in- 
quire into the history of historic Poland. 

Russia and national unity arose together in the 
Ukraine and in White Russia. Kiev, the capital 

1 These are the figures of the administrative divisions, which are 
certainly not the same as ethnographical and social ones. Hence 
these numbers are only approximate. 


of the former, was called for centuries, in the phrase 
of the time, "the mother of the Russian towns." 
At that time sombre forests covered Lithuania, and 
its inhabitants now submitted to the Russian dukes 
and now pillaged their domains. Poland proper, 
absorbed in her continual struggle with the Ger- 
mans, had few relations with her neighbours of the 
east Then, about the middle of the 13th century 
(1224— 1240) occurred a great historic event, pro- 
ducing in oriental Europe a tremendous perturba- 
tion. The Tartars ruined and conquered Russia. 
For the Russian people this is the beginning of 
ages of slavery ; for the Lithuanian princes, fortune. 
Their power grows gradually; they conquer White 
Russia, and then the Ukraine. From this time they 
assume their title of Grand Dukes of Lithuania and 
of Russia. Simultaneously, Russian civilization pre- 
dominates in Lithuania to this extent — the Russian 
language becomes official there. 

After saving her nationality in the contest with 
the Germans, Poland developed enormous social 
forces. Her people, endowed with so many quali- 
ties, swiftly assimilated all that was best in Europe, 
and founded the most liberal institutions in the 
whole of Europe. A splendid civilization and free- 
dom in social life drew the sympathies of neigh- 
bouring lands towards Poland. In 1386, the 
clever diplomacy of the Poles succeeded in uniting 
Lithuania and Poland. At first the union was of 
dynasties ; later it became real. At the same time 
the Polish lan^ua^e and manners made their way into 
Lithuania, White Russia, and the Ukraine, at least 
among the nobility. The constitution of Poland was 


absolutely aristocratic ; all rights, intelligence, wealth, 
were concentrated in the ranks of the chliakhta 
(nobility). As a consequence, Poland only attracted 
the sympathies of the upper classes, but these latter 
everywhere very rapidly became Polish. This was 
the highest point of Poland's political development. 
In the 1 6th century, the Baltic provinces, of their 
own accord, unite themselves to her. In the 17th, 
Poland comes near to conquering all Muscovite 
Russia. But the exclusive preponderance of the 
nobility is hollowing out an abyss doomed to engulf 
the country. 

In its enslavement of the people, the nobility 
itself loses the love of true liberty : this becomes 
incompatible with the privileges of the chliakhta. 
We see in Poland at this epoch religious persecu- 
tions, a thing unheard of before. The Jesuits 
become the teachers most sought after and held 
in the highest esteem. At the same time the nobles, 
corrupted by a luxurious and lazy life, lose even 
their old military and civic virtues. 

In the 1 6th century far-seeing men foretold the 
ruin of the state. " Retch pospolita (the republic)" 
cried the great preacher Skarga, "is poverty-stricken. 
The public treasure is everywhere pillaged to such 
an extent that the Government does not receive 
half the imposts. To calculate the calumnies, cheat- 
ing, treason that rule in the tribunals, is not pos- 
sible. . . . Does not the bloody sweat of the 
peasants, streaming without pause, call down God's 
chastisement on the whole state ? Why have not 
these men the protection of the law and of the 
tribunals, to safeguard their life, their health, their 


goods ? Would that I were an Isaiah ! I would 
go barefoot and with rent raiment, crying out upon 
you, men and women, violaters of the law of God ! 
The walls of your republic are splitting asunder. 
. . . In an hour that ye know not, they will fall 
and crush you all. . . . The enemy from without 
will come upon you. He will know how to take 
advantage of your discords. He will say, 'The 
hearts of this people are divided, and they shall 
perish.' Your dissensions will bring you to cap- 
tivity, or all your liberties shall pass away and 
become things of laughter. These lands, these 
mighty principalities, gathered together, bound afore- 
time into one simple whole, shall be torn asunder 
and their bond shall be broken. You that once 
on a time governed the rest of the nations, shall 
become for them a plaything, a laughing-stock ! " 

These sinister prophecies, calling to mind the 
wrath of the prophets of Israel, were of no avail. 
Events went forward in their inexorable course. 

At the end of the 16th century broke out the 
rising of the Cossacks of the Ukraine, a fatal event 
in Polish history. The Ukranians, to escape the 
reprisals and the despotism of the nobility, emi- 
grated down the river Dnieper into the inaccessible 
Zaporojie (a country beyond the cataracts). The 
emigrants, protected against the Polish army by a 
hundred leagues of cataracts and by the uninhabit- 
able steppes of Tartary, founded a half-independent 
republic, that became the centre of a whole series 
of revolutions in the Ukraine. These revolts lasted 
nearly a whole century. Often they were sup- 
pressed with a cruelty that makes us forget that, 

VOL. I. d 


a little earlier, Poland might have been quoted as 
the most civilized nation in Europe. But all the 
efforts of the Retch pospolita were useless. The 
insurgents never stopped. Finally, in 1654, the 
hetman Bogdan Khmelnitzky, placed himself and 
all the Ukraine under the protection of the Tsar 
Alexis I. 

The tsars of Moscow accepted the gift ; but, 
after a long war with Poland, gave up half of the 
Ukraine to her. This was a veritable treason to 
Russia as well as to the Ukraine. Weakened by 
long wars, and then dismembered, the unhappy 
country remained stagnant. For some time all 
the efforts of its patriots only aimed at repeopling 
the devastated lands and gaining for the people 
a little repose. The hatred of Poland was not 
weakened ; the proof of that came in the next 
century in the terrible revolt of Gonta and Zalizniak. 
The republic, stricken to earth, had no more power 
to suppress the insurrection ; it asked assistance of 
Catherine II. Catherine, who had herself in some 
measure provoked the insurrection, sent her army 
into the Ukraine. Russian bayonets forced the 
land under the domination of its foes. 1 It was not 
for long ; the days of the republic were numbered. 

Its fall became certain. Everything in the 
country, except the chliakhta, was downtrodden 
and degraded. But what was the chliakhta of 
this epoch ? Narushevich, a poet and notable 

1 A terrible punishment awaited Gonta. The Poles roasted him 
alive ! This cruelty shows the barbarity of the chliakhta. Even 
in Russia, Pugachev, the head of a revolt quite as serious, was 
by order of Catherine II. merely quartered. 


writer of the time, in the celebrated verses, " The 
voice of the dead," paints them as follows : " The 
holy heritage of the Jagellons and of the Piastes is 
used to satisfy an ignoble ambition. The crowd of 
gilded parasites crams the lazy courts. The wealth 
of the kings has been pillaged — the wind overturns 
our towns and our strong castles. . . . More 
warriors, more glory ! . . . Oh, wandering herd 
of beggars with armorial bearings ! you look upon 
these cunning great lords, but you don't understand 
they are making fun of your folly, that they use 
you for their own ends, when they break and stick 
together again your assemblies, bought and sold. 
You seek freedom ; only the great lords have it. 
You sell the palladium of our hereditary liberties 
for a drink, for a courteous bow from a great 
noble ! " 

Poland was already only an oligarchy. From the 
mass of the chliakhta a small number of magnates 
had separated themselves who were kings of the 
country. The chliakhta, ruined and sunk in ignor- 
ance, grouped themselves round these, as clients, 
armed retainers, even as servants or mere hangers- 
on. This idle crew gave their voice just as their 
lords desired, and at times strengthened it by the 
vote of their sword. Such was the anarchy in the 
land, the magnates had more soldiers in their pay 
than the state. The tribunals were powerless to 
carry out their decrees ; hence the strange pheno- 
menon of the naiezd (irruption, invasion). A man 
who had a decree of the tribunal in his favour thought 
he had the right to carry it out for himself. He 
called together his comrades or his clients and 


invaded the domains of his enemy. Of course, 
right and might were not always on the same 
side, and in addition naiezd was on many occasions 
made without any sort of legal decree. The 
anarchy was especially irremediable owing to the 
"liberumveto" i.e., the right of any one member of 
the national assemblies to veto the decisions of the 
majority. Owing to this absurd privilege, reform 
became impossible, legislative activity was altogether 
paralysed. The electors of the kings, in the then 
position of Poland, were so many forced cards, 
since they were really managed by the intrigues of 
foreign powers. The neighbouring powers, espe- 
cially Prussia and Russia, had always their candi- 
dates, whom they carried by purchasing the vote of 
the magnates or of the ordinary chliakhta, or even 
by force of arms. Poland thus became a toy in the 
hands of her neighbours, the enemies of reform, 
desperate with the fear of seeing Poland rise again. 
Patriots were not wanting on Polish soil. After 
1772, when Russia, Prussia, and Austria had dis- 
membered the country for the first time, * Polish 
patriots united their forces and were successful in 
1 79 1 in making a parliamentary coup d'Etat, that 
established the Constitution of the 3rd of May. 
This constitution decreed hereditary monarchy, the 
abolition of the liberum veto, and gave certain 
political rights to the bourgeoisie. One would have 
said Poland was saved. But the chliakhta was no 
longer fit for political life ; an insurrection broke 
out against the new constitution. The powers 

1 One-fourth of the territory and almost one-half of the popula- 
tion of Poland were then taken away. 


declared for the insurgents, who represented, they 
said, " established law and order." The Constitution 
of May 3 was abolished. A year later the allies 
recompensed themselves for their restoration of this 
legal order by a new partition. 

From that time, all the noble hearts revolted, 
and Poland showed that she was wanting neither 
in talent nor in civic virtues. The hero of her last 
days, Tadeouch Kosziuchko, recalls to us the mighty 
figures of antique Rome. But all was useless ; the 
people did nothing for a republic that held them 
enslaved, and the chliakhta preferred the loss of 
their country to the loss of their privileges. Un- 
believable thimj! We see the members of the 
nobility hunting down the peasants of the army of 
the brave Kosziuchko, who had proclaimed their 
enfranchisement : " Run away, you boors, to your 
flails and your ploughs. You must not make war." 

Beaten, wounded, a prisoner, Kosziuchko cried 
out in his despair, "Finis Poloni& /" 

A year later the powers shared amongst them 
the rest of Poland (1795). 

This was only, however, the ruin of ancient Po- 
land ; the people had not perished. It may even 
be said that this rude shock was, in many respects, 
of value ; it forced the best men in the country to 
work long years for the social, moral, and intel- 
lectual regeneration of the people. 

In this direction the progress of Poland is incon- 
testable, and these efforts were crowned with success. 

It is at this period of political enslavement that 
instruction for the first time reaches the masses. 
The country actually had a considerable number of 


educated men, risen from the small bourgeoisie and 
the working class. In a word, the people, as well 
as the nobility, now formed an integral part of the 
nation. Literature and science reached the level 
of European literature and science. Polish industry 
developed enormously the productive forces of the 
country. In this connexion the tendency to an 
organic development has a special importance. 

After the insurrection of 1863, when the Russian 
Government, after exterminating innumerable bands 
and even whole armies of insurgents, proposed to 
russify all Poland, 1 the Poles did not lose their 
heads ; they adopted tactics that became very 
popular and bore fruit. They fought Russia on the 
battle-ground of progress, and kept up their national 
unity in trying to crush Russia by the superiority of 
their culture. Twenty years after the insurrection, 
Poland surpassed Russia to such an extent that 
Russian patriots are a little mortified. As to the 
reactionaries, a la Katkov, they are so discouraged 
by our impotence to conquer the Polish nationality, 
that they propose, as the one possible solution, to 
give up to Germany a part of Poland (the district of 
Lodseje), or even half the kingdom, with its capital, 
as far as the Vistula. 2 Such a measure would be 

1 The persecutions endured by the Poles were horrible. A 
Pole who remained a Catholic was no longer admitted into the . 
service of the state. Jn Lithuania, the Ukraine, White Russia, 
the Polish language was forbidden ; in the same way the Poles 
were forbidden to acquire landed property in these provinces, etc. 
Russian became, even in Poland, the official language ; it was 
introduced in all the schools, so that the majority of Poles, at the 
present day, can speak Russian. 

3 The left bank of the Vistula is the most industrial part of 
Poland; actually in all the country there are 19,285 manu- 


without any doubt a formidable blow to the Poles, 
by taking half of the provinces away from the 
influence of Warsaw. Do not these perfidious plans 
with respect to Russia, Poland, the Slavs in general, 
show Poland's vital force is enormous ? Do not 
they recall the dying cry of Julian the Apostate, 
" Thou hast conquered, O Galilean " ? 

This victory cheers the soul of every friend of 
progress and liberty. 

The pretensions of Poland to Little Russia and 
White Russia, if Poland really raises any, are, it 
must be said, no more justifiable than formerly. 
Poland rose twice, in 1831 and in 1863: on each 
occasion she demanded that all the land as far as 
the Dnieper should be yielded to her. The upper 
classes alone showed sympathy with the insurrection. 
The people, on the other hand, even in White 
Russia, helped in suppressing the rising. In the 
Ukraine, hatred of the Poles was universal. In 
183 1, the Emperor Nicolas I. commanded an appeal 
to be made to the populations of the Ukraine, and a 
corps of volunteers to be formed, in order to fight 
the Polish insurgents. In a fortnight 14,000 men 
presented themselves, and the movement assumed 
such huge proportions that Nicolas was terrified, and 
ordered the recruiting to be stopped. In 1863, the 
inhabitants of the whole of the Ukraine asked per- 
mission to fight the Poles. In face of these facts, the 

facturers, employing 116,029 hands, and producing a revenue of 
153,629,209 rubles. The chief market for Polish production is 
Russia, whose factories cannot stand the competition of the Polish 
factories. A year ago the Moscow manufacturers asked the 
Russian Government to establish a series of protectionist duties 
between Russia and Poland. 


claims of Poland to these provinces seem to me 
quite as little justifiable as the claims of Russia to 
Poland proper. There is no room for mistake ; 
these provinces will in our conflicts with Poland 
always range themselves on the Russian side. 

Although the insurrections of 1831 and 1863 have 
of late years given rise to the idea that Poland is 
always ready to free herself from Russia, neverthe- 
less this idea is not quite accurate. The long period 
of " organic development," as well as certain govern- 
mental measures, has formed sufficiently firm ties 
between Russia and Poland. The strength of the 
1863 rising frightened the Government; Nicolas 
Miliutin, one of the most celebrated Russian 
statesmen, 1 took advantage of this moment of fright 
to get out of Alexander II. a really revolutionary 
measure : he proposed the lessening of the nobles' 
power by strengthening that of the peasants. To 
this end, Miliutin and his friends, Cherkaski, 
Soloviev, and others, undertook an agrarian reform 
in Poland. It is true that Miliutin, broken down 
by an attack of paralysis, could not finish the reform 
1 he had begun ; it is true that thereupon this reform 
was rendered unrecognisable. Nevertheless, landed 
property underwent very important changes. In 
1859 six per cent, only of the peasants in the 
kingdom of Poland were landed proprietors ; the rest 
paid rent or belonged to the proletarian class (thirty- 
six per cent, of the population). 2 About 1874, thanks 

1 See " Un homrae d'Etat russe," by M. Leroy-Beaulieu, a 
remarkable work that I have often found useful. 

2 '■' Military Statistics, iv., 213. Janson : Statistics, ii., 178— 


to these reforms, one-third of the territory passed 
into the hands of the peasants. Their property 
in land became thus as great as that of the nobles 
(that of the peasants rose to 4,716,347 desiatinas, 
that of the nobles, 3,680,847). This reform greatly 
strengthened the Polish nation ; at the same time 
it enlisted on behalf of Russia the sympathies of a 
large part of the population. 

In their turn the educated classes of the two 
countries drew together. The repressive measures 
that trammelled higher education in the kingdom of 
Poland compelled many of the young men to go to 
the universities of St. Petersburg and of Moscow. 
Hence the youth of the two nations were brought 
into contact. Before this, Poland did not know 
Russia — a great error on her part. The Poles con- 
founded the Russian people with the Russian 
Government ; they detested them both alike. Now 
they know that the educated class in Russia has no 
hatred of the Poles. The works of Russian writers 
are being translated in Poland, and — a thing unheard 
of before — Russia and Poland interchange political 
ideas. Thus, for example, the Polish socialists, 
when they leave the Russian universities, keep up, 
for the most part, constant relations with their 
Russian comrades. Besides, we see a crowd of men 
in politics and in the liberal professions, who, Poles 
by origin, work for the interests of Russia while 
they retain their Polish sympathies. Polish influence 
plays its part in the development of Russian 
" liberalism." 

Besides these embryonic moral ties between 
Russia and Poland, an economic bond is springing 


up, and growing stronger and stronger. Russia, I 
have said already, is the chief market for Poland ; 
the Polish manufacturers, therefore, would have 
everything to fear and everything to lose in a 
rupture with Russia. 

Hence, to my thinking, an insurrection in Poland, 
with separation from Russia for sole aim, is very 
improbable. The repressive force of the Russian 
Government alone may, perhaps, one of these days 
drive the Poles to take arms. This policy tends to 
turn Poland into a Russian province, to limit, as 
much as possible, the rights of its inhabitants (the 
civil rights of the Poles are always limited by the 
prohibition against buying land in Little Russia, 
Lithuania, and White Russia), and to the intro- 
duction there of administrative despotism. 

Unfortunately none of these causes of discontent 
has disappeared to-day. Alexander III., immedi- 
ately after the conference of Skernevitz, declared 
his fixed resolve to maintain in Poland the old 
policy. The Russian administration in Poland ac- 
tually takes measures that seem expressly chosen 
to excite the people. Sometimes, for example, the 
head of the police in Warsaw orders that all the 
work-girls shall be subjected to the same medical 
inspection as the prostitutes. Sometimes the cen- 
tral Government forms absurd projects ; it puts new 
Russian regiments in the place of those that have 
been in Poland twenty years, and have, during this 
long stay, succeeded in establishing with the Poles 
bonds of friendship and even of kinship. In default 
of legal guarantees, these personal ties are exces- 
sively dear to the Poles. The Government makes a 


point of breaking them. Why ? This plan takes 
at once to Polish eyes the aspect of a menace, a 
forewarning of a whole series of new acts of violence 
about to fall upon their heads. Russification pursues 
its course under a yet rougher form. On his last 
visit to Poland, the emperor could find nothing 
better to say, to express his satisfaction, than this 
phrase, " The school-children speak Russian nicely." 
At the Imperial Theatre, Warsaw, they are mount- 
ing Russian operas. In a word, they are showing to 
the Poles, in a thousand different ways, that they 
mean to exterminate them as a nation. 

Thanks to this policy, it is quite possible that we 
may yet see the shedding of Polish and of Russian 
blood on the banks of the Vistula. And the saddest 
thought is that, without a doubt, such a shedding of 
blood will be useless and fruitless ; the Poles are 
too small in number to fight the army of the Russian 

Their emancipation can only come about as a 
consequence of the emancipation of Russia. 


Bessarabia. — The Crimea. — The Caucasus and Georgia. — 
Armenia. — Policy — economic and police — of the Govern- 
ment of such a nature as to involve the loss to Russia of 
their services. 

Going southwards, we see again a small territory, 
bordering on Roumania, and by no means Russian. 
The tsar's ambition has created here a cause of 
international complications for Russia. The Danube, 
at whose mouth these lands are situated, runs through 
Slav and Austrian territory ; it has nothing in com- 
mon with Russia. Nevertheless, at the time of the 
last war, Alexander II. thought it necessary to take 
these lands from the Roumanians — his own allies, 
— who protested loudly against this injustice. Once 
free, Russia — it is well-nigh certain — would make 
haste to give back to the Roumanians this territory, 
as well as part of Bessarabia. 

For the rest, I need not pause upon this micro- 
scopic conquest ; nor do I propose to speak at 
length of the Crimea. 

Remembering the Crimean War, the English 
people may be inclined to think that this peninsula 
is peopled by Tartars. Now, after the war, the 


greater part of the Tartars crossed into Turkey. 
To-day, throughout the Tauric government — the 
Crimea forms part of this — only 16 per cent, of the 
population is Tartar, whilst the Russians are more 
than 68 per cent. ; the rest of the people are Greek, 
German, Jew, etc. 

The national question assumes a much graver 
importance on the other side of the Black Sea, in 
the Caucasus. These rich provinces, that formerly 
served as a route for the great transmigration of the 
nations, and as a bait for the greed of conquerors ) 
present in these days an extraordinary diversity 
of races, between whom a terrible animosity exists. 
This circumstance assures the maintenance of 
Russian rule in this country. 

Northern Caucasus, including the immense basins 
of the Kouban and of the Terek, is peopled right 
to the very foot of the mountains by Russians, for 
the most part Cossacks. 

The eastern and central parts of the mountains are at present occupied by natives, amongst whom 
may be specially noted the Lezgines, the Chetchens, the Ossetians, the Svanetes, and lastly, 
the Kabardians, who are now dwelling in the plain, mixed up with the Russian population. 

The mountaineers of the Caucasus belong to the 
higher races of the human species. All these tribes 
are remarkable for their beauty, their valour, and 
their spirit of independence. Some of them, e.g., 
the Chechens, are really knightly races. They 
have not even a princely class, and they pride them- 
selves on this equality. The sentiment of honour 
is developed among them to an astonishing degree ; 


a Chetchen will not bear any insult without 
avenging it, even at the price of his life. 

Whilst I was living at Vladikavkaz, in 1879, the 
following incident occurred in the town. A Chet- 
chenian, meeting a Russian officer in the street, 
thought fit not to give him the wall ; they hustled 
one another. The officer, furious at this want of 
politeness, struck the mountaineer ; the latter drew 
his dagger and killed the aggressor. 

Similar things occur constantly. That is why I 
say that the sentiment of honour is in most of these 
mountaineers developed to a greater extent than 
among civilized peoples. The mountaineers are 
veritably gentlemen. Our great poet, Lermontov, 
who knew them well, was full of enthusiasm for this 
race, and often chose from it the types of his heroes. 
Nevertheless, in spite of these sympathetic qualities, 
it must be confessed that to make war on them was 
a necessity for us. All the population, in the main 
Mahometan, were under the Turkish rule. Turkish 
garrisons held the fortresses on the shore of the 
Black Sea. Insurrections by the mountaineers pro- 
tected the operations of the Turkish army in the 
Caucasus. The constant war between Turkey and 
Russia meant, logically, war with the mountaineers. 
The ceaseless brigandage of these made this still 
more urgent. These gentry, in fact, have been long 
distinguished for the boldness of their marauding. 
To tell the truth, they cannot be called idle. The 
plains on the borders of the Black Sea were in a 
much more flourishing state when they were still 
peopled with mountaineers than they are now. The 
table-lands of the territory of the Chetchens 


have a system of canalization so perfect that it is the 
wonder of Russian engineers. If you go to the heart 
of the Caucasus, to Kasbek, you find even near this 
region of snow, amidst brambles and fallen rocks, 
small pieces of land laboriously tilled, despite the 
poverty of the soil. Thanks to various historic 
circumstances, pillage none the less became the 
custom. It was "good form;" it was courage. 
Where nature is poor, the mountaineer becomes 
a veritable bird of prey, strong, bold, but bloody. 

" When the stars are shining in the sky 
The brave boys of the Caucasus 
Make raids. 

From grandsire to babe, they live by pillage ; 
Where they pass fear is stricken ; 
Robbing or lifting — it's all one to them. 
They demand new wine and honey at the dagger's point, 
And pay for their corn with a pistol-shot." 

Thus Lermontov paints the companions of one 
of his heroines, in an eagle's nest on the top of an 
inaccessible rock. 

These brave freebooters terrified the peoples of 
the Kouban and of the Terek ; but Georgia especi- 
ally suffered from their inroads, and the systematic 
war against these mountaineers began soon after the 
annexation of Georgia. 

Georgia is on the southern side of the mountain 
chain. It occupies the fertile valley of Rion and 
part of the valley of the Koura. The people of 
Georgia, as early as the time of Alexander of 
Macedon, had a real civilization, an elaborate lan- 
guage. The kingdom of Georgia was sometimes 
master of almost all the Caucasus, sometimes the 
prey of conquering Arabs, Tartars, or Persians. 


In the 17th century, Georgia, devastated by the 
mountaineers, and still more by the Persians, asked 
aid of Russia, whose religion was the same as hers. 
In 1 80 1, the Georgian tsar, George XIII., threat- 
ened by Persia, made up his mind to give his 
kingdom to Russia. From that moment the moun- 
taineers were surrounded by provinces the defence 
of which against their invasions became the duty of 

Hence at the beginning of this century a fifty 
years' war against the mountaineers began. With 
this struggle the name of Schamyl is indissolubly 
connected. Schamyl is the Abd-el-Kader of the 
Caucasus ; for thirty-five years he was the terror 
of the Russians. Amongst the mountaineers, this 
untiring " iman " obtained, by his extraordinary 
talents and his mighty exploits, an enormous 
popularity. He knew how to re-unite all the tribes 
under his authority; for generally mountain tribes are 
as disunited as it is possible to be. Often each aotd 
(village) is an independent unity, and its relations 
to its neighbours are rather hostile than otherwise. 
These continual quarrels between villages even, 
make it possible for the Russians to gain allies 
among the mountaineers, who are almost wholly 
destitute of the sentiment of a national unity. 1 

So great is the want of unity among the moun- 
taineers, that Schamyl was compelled to exercise 
a despotism so severe that the persecutions of our 
cavilling administration are as nothing by the side 
of it. In 1859 Schamyl was at last taken, and 

1 E.g., in none of their languages is there a word to express all 
the Caucasus ; the name Caucasus is Russian. 


the whole of the eastern Caucasus fell under Russian 

For some years western Caucasus preserved her 
independence ; until the time when the Russians 
adopted a system of barbarous devastation. They 
went in small bands all over the country, ravaging, 
burning, slaying everything that came to hand. 
The Russian Government offered this ultimatum to 
the unfortunate tribes — emigration to the valley of 
the Kouban, or extermination. The majority of the 
mountaineers crossed over into Turkey. 

All national questions in the western Caucasus 
were therefore solved after Tamerlane's fashion. 
The remnant of the mountain tribes (more than a 
million souls) is as little Russian as before ; it forms 
a conquered people that, as in the past, hates 
Russia. The Government has to guard the country 
by many regiments ; and the natives are always 
ready to seize upon any occasion for revolt. 

During the last war, scarcely had the news of the 
taking of Souakin by the Turks reached Vladikav- 
kaz, than an insurrection broke out in Chetchenia. 
The Kabardians, more prudent, waited for the 
arrival of the Turkish army before they, in their 
turn, revolted. The insurrection in Chetchenia was 
crushed, and many of the chiefs executed ; but for 
a long time the country remained in a state of siege, 
thanks to the occasional brigandage G f the moun- 
taineers. During the Berlin Conference, the bold- 
ness of their bands went actually to the length of 
daring to attack the Vladikavkaz railway station. 
Even to-day a rising in the mountains is always 
possible ; only the insurrections will never be more 

vol. 1. E 


than risings. If the mountaineer fears and detests 
the Russians, he also detests and despises the Geor- 
gians, the Armenians, and the other peaceful tribes 
of the Caucasus. No alliance among these peoples 
could be. Besides, the mountaineer has no idea of 
country and of nationality from our point of view. 
The following fact will show that plainly enough. 

During the Kars expedition, the mountaineer 
militia refused to fight their co-religionists. The 
general, to punish them, took away their flags. The 
mountaineers thereon felt so dishonoured that they 
supplicated the general to let them be reinstated ; 
having received permission, they fought with such 
fury that the commander thought fit to reward them 
with military honours. 

Said an old mountaineer on this subject : 

"It is true the Turks are our co-religionists ; but 
what of that ? Formerly our young men could dis- 
tinguish themselves and cover themselves with glory 
by fighting the Russians. That is now impossible. 
What is left for them to do ? It is better for them 
to fight in the ranks of the Russian army than to 
remain idle." 

It is only through simplicity such as this that 
great things are effected in politics. 

Southern Caucasus, I have already shown, was 
obliged to seek protection from Russia, and derived 
some advantage from this alliance. Her rule gave 
the country security, by means of which it attained 
a certain degree of prosperity. In the same way 
Georgia became acquainted with European civiliza- 
tion through Russia. Had she remained a Persian 
province, Georgia would have presented quite 


another aspect. Leaving, however, on one side 
comparisons with Persia, it must be confessed that 
Russian rule cannot rouse very warm feelings among 
the Georgians. A despotic administration weighs 
heavily on the country's development. The Govern- 
ment, jealous of any thought of national independ- 
ence, has deprived the Georgian Church of its former 
autonomy. The institutions of the zemstvo and of 
the jury, 1 enjoyed by the Russian provinces, have 
not been introduced into the Caucasus. The censor- 
ship crushes the press and literature of the country. 
The government opposes an invariable " No " to 
all the petitions from Georgia for the founding 
of a university at Tiflis. The economic interests of 
the Caucasus are also sacrificed, sometimes in very 
cavalier fashion, to the interests of Russian industry. 
The suppression of transit through the Transcau- 
casus 2 is a conclusive example of this policy. If, 
therefore, Russia has done some good services to 
Georgia, this constant pressure on her part prevents 
the ulterior development of the annexation, and 
irritates the people with it. 

In Armenia this irritation is so much the greater, 
as this country has received almost nothing that can 
compensate for the inconveniences of Russian rule. 

Almost all Armenia is tributary to Turkey. 3 
Once on a time independent, and even with a cer- 
tain degree of civilization, Armenia has yielded to 

1 Zemstvos are provincial assemblies ; these will be spoken of 
further on. 

2 That is, through Georgia, Armenia, and the Persian provinces. 

3 Armenia has a territory of 280,000 square kilometres, a popu- 
lation of 3,000,000. 


the Turkish conquerors. In the organization of her 
Church alone she preserved a kind of national organ- 
ization, because the Katolikos 1 was always a natural 
representative of the people to the Ottoman Govern- 
ment, and enjoyed a certain amount of temporal 
power. As soon as the Armenian provinces — the 
Government of Erivan, of Kars, and even Etchmi- 
adzine, the residence of the Katolikos — were subject 
to the Russian empire, the importance of the Kato- 
likos lessened, at all events in these provinces ; and 
this could not but be disagreeable to the Armenian 

Truly, as compensation, on this side the Russian 
frontier they can work with the greater ease for the 
resurrection of Armenia as a nation ; but the more 
completely obedient the Armenian provinces are to 
Russia, the less favourable is its Government to 
propaganda of this kind. Lately it has grown so 
suspicious that it has begun to make reprisals. For 
example, immediately after the annexation of Kars, 
the Government closed the Armenian schools there. 
At first this was thought to be a clumsy act, due to 
the individual stupidity of some official. But time 
passed, and it was soon clear that it was part of a 
system ; already a thousand schools have been 
closed in this way. It is easy to imagine the anger 
and desolation of the people, who are losing the 
national schools that they kept even under the Tur- 
kish yoke. These brutal attempts at Russification 

1 The dogmas of the Armenian-Georgian Church differ as much 
from those of Roman as from those of Greek Catholicism. The 
Katolikos, head of the Armenian Church, is entitled "His Holi- 


anger the people the more, in that the emperors 
themselves have always favoured the national move- 
ment in Armenia. 

" For ten years," says an Armenian proclamation 
recently issued, " the Russian despots have pro- 
mised us, upon the guarantee of their own signa- 
tures, the independence of the country of Ararat ; 
they have promised us that they would restore the 
ancient constitution of Ani and of Vagarachpad, 
their glory and their rule. And now they deny, 
like cowards, their own signature; and in place of 
these fine promises, add to the ruins of Ani's monu- 
ments the ruins of our schools." 

Thus the discontent in the land is Growing-. As 
yet we do not hear of an appeal to arms, because 
the struorofle of the Armenians alone against Russia 
would only be a forlorn hope. Nevertheless, it is 
very probable that the Armenians will try to sepa- 
rate themselves from Russia if external complica- 
tions are favourable. The consequences of this 
attempt would be so much the more serious as, all 
the commerce of the Caucasus beinQf in the hands 
of the Armenians, they would of necessity try also 
to detach Georgia from Russia. An alliance be- 
tween Georgians and Armenians is, however, not 
likely, on account of the constant rivalry between 
the two peoples ; but the despotism of conquerors 
is a powerful means of teaching to the oppressed a 
reciprocal solidarity. 

To sum up, the position of Russia in the Trans- 
caucasus is not very secure. It may be said that 
the best reason for the maintenance of Russia's rule 
is the great weakness of all her neighbours and 


the want of power in the Georgian and Armenian 
national parties, who do not know the secret of 
relying on the economic interests of the people. 
The proclamation I have just quoted, cries out, 
" Without our church and our schools we are lost ! " 
Certainly great national movements call for larger 
formulae than this. The Poles asked much more 
than church and schools, and we saw how strong a 
weapon against the Polish revolution the Russian 
Government found in stirring up to some extent the 
land question. 


Turkestan. — Indigenous populations. — The Russian Government 
only knows how to conquer. — Conflict with England ; com- 
mercial and— one of these days — military. 

Crossing the Caspian Sea, we still find on its east- 
ern shore large tracts of land where the Russian 
empire overflows far beyond its natural boundaries. 
These are the deserts and oases of Central Asia, 
or Turkestan. 1 There but a few years ago was a 
whole series of independent states, with the towns 
of Kokan, Samarkand, Tashkend, Bokhara, Khiva, 
Merv. Impoverished and fallen into decay, if their 
present is compared with their glorious past, these 
lands have, however, retained some remnants of cul- 
ture, and have sometimes, as in the case of Bok- 
hara, passed for the capital of Mahometan science. 

The social condition of all these countries is not 
very attractive ; it is of the eastern autocrat type, 

1 This country is probably the bed of a sea that has dried up. 
The great lakes known as the Seas of Aral and Caspian are the 
remains of this sea. Two important rivers, the Sir-Daria and the 
Amou-Daria, flow down from the mountains of China across Tur- 
kestan, into the Sea of Aral. The Sir-Daria may be looked upon 
as the natural boundary of Russia's influence ; but her rule has 
gone far beyond this boundary to the south, as far as Afghanistan. 


in which the conqueror Ouzbeks rule the conquered 
Sartes, and are themselves under the despotism of 
their khans. The effeminate dynasties of the latter 
have neglected all the interests of the people, 1 and 
are stained with the most infamous vices of the 
East. The slave-markets of Khiva and Bokhara 
have only been suppressed by the Russians. So 
great at times was the number of the slaves, that 
their revolts were fatal to states. As to the rest 
of the population, they busy themselves partly with 
agriculture, partly live the life of nomads, travers- 
ing the deserts with their flocks. 

Everywhere agriculture is in a parlous condition. 
To cultivate the land properly, it must be well 
watered ; and frequently the irrigation canals are 
out of order, often even completely choked up by 
the sand of the desert. 

The brieandapfe of the nomadic tribes has lono- 
made all commerce impossible ; it has even dis- 
turbed our fishermen on the Caspian Sea. 

Merv is a nest of birds of prey ; its inhabitants, 
the Tekins (of the Ouzbek race), celebrated for their 
courage, have spread terror throughout Central 
Asia, devastating it by their constant invasions. 

As the steppes of Siberia are not separated from 
Central Asia by any natural boundaries, the invasions 

1 M. Elisee Reclus, in his magnificent " Geographie," praises 
highly the conduct of those Governments in Central Asia that con- 
fiscate the lands of those unwilling to cultivate them. In this 
wise law, however, we must not think we see the care of the 
khans for the well-being of their people ; it is only a necessary 
consequence of the social principles of the Koran. But these 
principles are violated in Central Asia, so that, at Khiva, half the 
cultivated land belongs to the khan and his courtiers. 


of Russian possessions by the nomads were of daily 
occurrence. This it was that made necessary Rus- 
sian intervention in the affairs of Central Asia. 
Russia had once for all to tame the independent 
nomads, and to compel the khans of Kokan, Bok- 
hara, and other towns to pay a little more atten- 
tion to what their subjects were doing. Besides 
the necessity of employing - armed force to protect 
her own people, Russia had to perform a mission 
of civilization ; she had to contribute to the creation 
of order in Central Asia. 

Unfortunately the imperial Government has not 
shown itself capable here, any more than in the 
Caucasus, of creating on the frontier a series of 
states whose very interests should make them faith- 
ful allies of Russia. The Government has not 
known how to manage conquests, as easy as im- 

In 1865 Tashkend was taken; in 1868, Samar- 
kand and Bokhara; in 1873, Khiva; in 1881, 

Thus the whole of Central Asia belongs to the 

At the heart of this territory, Bokhara and 
Khiva still enjoy a shadow of independence ; all 
the rest is under Russian administration, and is 
a Russian province. 

Thus it is that the " white wolves " x are to-day 
face to face with the English at the gates of India. 

This movement, from the military point of view, 
has presented many brilliant episodes. But what 

1 The Russians have this nickname in Central Asia on account 
of the white uniform of their army in Turkestan. 


is the political meaning of it ? That is not easy 
to see. 

The Turkestan countries have lost nothing in the 
loss of their independence. Russia has abolished 
slavery there, has put an end to brigandage ; she 
keeps a certain order that allows the people to work 
in safety. At Tashkend and elsewhere, Russia has 
equalized the rights of the Sartes and of the Ouz- 
beks. Finally, our conquests have shown the peo- 
ples of Asia the advantages of civilization. This 
will have its influence on them mentally. 

What profit has Russia made out of her con- 
quests ? 

Our protectionists are trying to create there a 
market for our produce. This market does not at 
present bring in enough to keep up the administra- 
tion of the country. In 1867 the whole of the 
Russian commerce with Turkestan was only twenty 
million rubles. Since then it has without doubt 
increased considerably ; but the account with Tash- 
kend, the centre of Russian commerce in Central 
Asia, was in 1873 only nineteen million rubles. 
The commercial account between Russia and Khiva 
does not exceed three millions. The total expor- 
tation from Turkestan in 1882 was exactly three 
million rubles ; and in this our manufactured 
products only figured as 160,000 rubles. These 
fio-ures are not astonishino- if we bear in mind that 
the total population of Central Asia does not exceed 
seven millions, for the most part very poor. Be- 
sides, the competition of England is not overcome ; 
sometimes even she drives Russian goods out of the 
markets of Central Asia. 


Finally, the economic conquest does not neces- 
sarily accompany the military. In fact, the latter is 
only the result of an ambition the Government has 
not the strength to restrain, an ambition that has 
already created at several places on the frontier a 
very strained and dangerous situation. 


National feeling in the Ukraine. — Shevchenko and the Nation- 
alists contemporary with him. — Popular aspirations. — The 
Nationalists do not satisfy these. — M. Dragomanov and his 
influence. — Summary and conclusion. 

To complete this examination of the question of 
nationalities in Russia, it only remains for me to 
say a few words on the national movement in the 

The colossal figure of the celebrated poet Shev- 
chenko, who died in 1861, is indissolubly connected 
with this movement. 

Born a serf, and condemned later by the Empe- 
ror Nicolas I. to a terrible exile, Shevchenko felt 
boiling within his soul all the hate of his oppressed 
people. He was a Cossack to his finger-ends. His 
verse is red with the flame of burning dwellings, 
with the blood of the massacred. 

In spite of his genius, Shevchenko was almost 
solitary. The Ukrainian Nationalists of his time 
were busied in forming, not a popular party, but 
rather an educated Ukrainian class, a laneuagfe and 
a national theatre. They were aiming rather at the 
autonomy of the Ukraine than at the autonomy of 
the Ukrainians. 



The people will understand Shevchenko much 
better than the Nationalists his contemporaries. His 
outpourings have a purely social character. They 
touch on the land question, the suppression of vil- 
lage monopolizers, on the despotism of state officials, 
and the like. The people in no wise concern them- 
selves with the national question, strictly so called. 
The Ukrainians are more capable than the people 
of anv other region of Russia of making manifest 
their desires and their protestations. They have 
never shown any separatist leaning. The Nation- 
alists of the Ukraine confess themselves that the 
people no longer remember the Cossack state, whose 
creation was half completed in the time of the 
hetmans. 1 More than that, the name of the hetman 
Mazeppa, who aimed at separating the Ukraine 
from Russia, is even at this hour used as an out- 
rageous insult in the Ukraine. 

The Nationalist tendencies are only seen, therefore, 
in certain circles of literary society in the Ukraine. 

The most remarkable representative of these ten- 
dencies at the present time, is M. Dragomanov, 
formerly professor at the University of Kiev, a 
man of great talent and rare erudition. Forced to 
leave Russia, he is now the soul of the Ukrainian 
Nationalist circle Gromada (commune or assembly). 
This circle, which to my certain knowledge has not 
been up to this present moment dissolved, propa- 
gated its ideas with great boldness, and published 
many books and pamphlets in the Ukrainian lan- 
guage. It has not been able to gain the slightest 

1 Dragomanov. " The Spirit of the Political Songs of Modern 
Ukraine (in the Ukrainian tongue)," p. 10. 


political power. Just now, M. Dragomanov is busy- 
ing himself with organizing a new circle, Vilna Spilka 
(the Free League). This has not as yet given any 
sign as to its existence and its influence. 

In a word, in speaking of Russia, we need not 
take into account, at present, the nationalist Ukrai- 
nian movement, which is not a national movement. 

It may, however, be supposed, that if the Govern- 
ment continues to suppress all movement of ideas 
in Russia, and to prevent the social development of 
our party, Nationalist tendencies will gain ground in 
the Ukraine, and even become separatist in nature. 
On the contrary, if Russia pursues a steady march of 
development, we may foretell that this movement 
will never go beyond a certain literary and artistic 
renaissance, will never become a political one. 

To sum up. The results of this investigation are 
as follows. From the point of view of national 
unity, Russia is very strong in the heart of the land; 
at the frontiers her strength most frequently dimin- 
ishes immensely, sometimes even becomes nil. 

By transcending its natural limits of growth, the 
Russian empire has acquired an Achilles' heel, by 
the weakness of which a clever enemy may profit. 
But even then the question of nationalities does not 
among Russians present the same extreme perils as 
it presents in other states. Animosity to Russia, in 
fact, exists very often among the upper classes alone. 
The masses very rarely feel any such sentiment. 

Finally, if some powerful foe should take away 
from Russia the major part of her non- Russian pro- 
vinces, such an amputation would be more advan- 
tageous for her than inconvenient. 





Chap. I. Russia considered physically. — Influence of its unity 
of climate and soil on the unity of the Russian people. — In- 
fluence of the struggle for life on this unity. — Differences of 
provincial types. — The three great Russian races. 

Chap. II. Characteristic traits of these three races, as shown 
in their popular songs and tales. — Differences of dialect. 

Chap. III. The Cossacks. — Their part in history. — Organiza- 
tion of the Cossack army. — Policy of the Government in respect 
to the Cossacks. — Discontent to which this has given rise among 


Chap. IV. Germans and Jews. — German pretensions to have 
civilized Russia. — Great influence on Russian policy of the Ger- 
mans of the Baltic.— German labor colonies. — The part they 
have played in southern Russia. — The Jews. — Their importance 
as part of the people. — Their despised position. — Polish and Cau- 
casian Jews. — Rights of domicile. — Jews in the administration 
and in the schools. — Economic role of the Jews. — Their poverty 
and their plundering. — The Semitic question. — The means to its 

VOL. I. 


Russia considered physically. — Influence of its unity of climate 
and soil on the unity of the Russian people. — Influence of 
the struggle for life on this unity. — Differences of provincial 
types. — The three great Russian races. 

The physical and historical conditions under which 
a people evolves, have as powerful an influence upon 
it as education has on the individual. 

When, a thousand years ago, the Slavs for the 
first time got footing in the western part of Russia, 
they found there enormous spaces stretching before 
them to the east, sometimes very sparsely populated 
by savage tribes, sometimes absolute deserts. No 
barrier rose between them and those territories that 
extended across the Oural almost to the Pacific 

Nowhere in this vast area was there a mountain. 
The Russian mountains are only small hills, like 
Primrose or Haverstock Hill, and for the most part 
the Oural seems more a plateau than a mountain 
chain. Only on their actual boundary lines could 
the Russians strike against the Carpathian moun- 
tains, the Caucasus, the Altai, the mountains of 
eastern Siberia, or come to a pause on the shores 



of the Arctic Ocean, the Black Sea, or the Pacific 
Ocean. Nowhere else in the limitless expanse 
would the pioneers meet an obstacle by the way. 
On the contrary, the Dnieper, the northern Dwina, 
the Don, the Volga, whose affluents reach almost to 
Siberia, a complete network of huge rivers, formed 
a natural means of communication. 

Thus the march of the Russians eastwards be- 
came inevitable. It is always more enticing to 
occupy virgin soil than to cultivate with infinite 
labor that which others have already worked out. 
Hunters and fishermen — these professions were the 
most general — were also of the same opinion. 

Sometimes, also, the Russians moved eastwards 
for certain commercial reasons. 

This movement was so much the more easy since 
they found everywhere the same physical conditions 
as in their old dwelling-place. 

The climate of the whole of Russia is uniform : 
a dry climate, continental, with regular, strongly 
marked seasons. The difference between the tem- 
perature of the north and south, yo° and 40 N. lat., 
is certainly immense ; but, thanks to the regular 
succession of the seasons, it is attained almost im- 
perceptibly. The inhabitant of Archangel knows 
harsh winters and warm summers ; the average 
temperature in July is 15*9° (Reaumur). The in- 
habitant of the south has torrid summers, and 
winters that are severe ; at Novotcherkask, the 
mean temperature in January is 8*6° above zero. 

On account of these climatic conditions, those of 
labor are to a certain extent the same throughout 
the whole land. " A warm summer makes agri- 


culture possible in regions where, judging from the 
average yearly temperature alone, the possibility of 
it would never have been admitted. At Mezen, 
where this average is o°, barley ripens in summer. 
At Yakoutsk, where the average temperature is 
about — 1 1 '4°, and where the earth from three feet 
down is always frozen, the summer heat (14*3° on 
the average) allows even wheat to ripen." * 

As to the nature of the soil, similar observations 
mi^ht be made. 

Physically, Russia is divided into two regions : the 
northern zone, covered with marshes and forests ; 
the southern, occupied by the steppes. 2 Certainly 
the rural economy of these two regions presents 
great diversity. This economy, however, only 
works within the limits of the cultivation of cereals. 
The Russian race scarcely ever passes beyond the 
limits of the zone of cereals and of this continental 
climate. That is why the peasant of the Kostroma 
forests, transplanted to the steppes of Samara, finds 
no difficulty in conforming to the conditions of his 
new position ; he keeps up his old habits, introduc- 
ing some trifling changes. 

We see then that the Russian people could spread 
over a wide area without passing the boundaries 
of a territory in which the physical conditions are 
similar. This favourable condition to unity has been 
strengthened again by historic circumstances. 

1 Janson. "Statistics," vol. i. p. 15. 

2 The whole of the middle zone, lying between the forests of 
the north and the steppes of the south, has a magnificent tcher- 
noziotn (black soil), that yields, without any manure, magnificent 


When they settled on the Volga, the Dwina, the 
Don, or the Obi, the Russians mingled with and 
subjugated the aborigines. But the aborigines were 
so inferior to the Russians, even in race, that the 
latter were involuntarily penetrated with the con- 
sciousness of their national superiority — a sentiment 
that is always the best guarantee of a people's unity. 

A serious event once a^ain forced the Russians 
to union, this time purely as the result of calculation. 
Their march eastwards came into collision with one 
that was going in the opposite direction — the march 
westwards of the nomads of Asia. The collision 
that followed lasted almost nine hundred years. 
The absolute necessity of a common struggle and 
defence developed in the people the tendency to 
unity and co-operation. Finally, a very important 
fact, the Russians were and still are, from a certain 
point of view, an excessively mobile population. 
They do not stay long in one and the same place. 
The inhabitants of the different provinces were con- 
stantly commingling, and as a consequence never 
came to form strongly marked provincial types and 
races. Thus all the physical and historical con- 
ditions contributed to the development of national 
unity and the creation of a uniform type. 

Nevertheless, in a period ranging over some 
thousand years, the Russian people could not but 
create some provincial types, whose differences result 
in some places from diversity of races, in others 
from social conditions. 

Thus the dwellers in the north, especially the 
pomors (dwellers on the sea-shore), sprung from the 
citizens of the republic of Novgorod, never knowing 


slavery, trained by their calling to the dangers of 
the Arctic Ocean, gave rise inevitably to a special 
type, distinguished by its valour and its indepen- 
dence. At Viatka, formerly a colony of Novgorod, 
but with a population largely mixed with Finnish 
elements, certain peculiarities are noticeable in the 
manners and even in the language. The miners of 
the Oural are clearly marked off from the laborers 
of the steppes. They are much more developed 
and more alert. 1 The Siberiak (inhabitant of 
Siberia), who has always played, and plays to-day, 
the part of pioneer and colonist, who has never suf- 
fered slavery, is more of a barbarian than a European 
Russian, but is, on the other hand, more independent. 

I shall not pause to depict the distinctions be- 
tween the provincial types. The description would 
take up too much space, and would be of but little 
use, since, as I have said, they are not sufficiently 
marked to have any political importance. 

The characteristic Russian types must detain us 

Considered from the social point of view, these 
types are the Great Russians (Veliko Russians), the 
Little Russians (Malo Russians), and the White 
Russians (Bielo Russians). From the point of view 
of social life, the Cossacks must be placed in a class 
by themselves. 

1 This relatively higher development may be judged from the 
following figures. In one agricultural village, the popular library 
of the zemstvo lends 233 volumes dealing with religious ques- 
tions, 374 with science or literature ; the library of the mines 
gives out for 252 pious works, 1,460 volumes on scientific or 
literary subjects. 


Characteristic traits of these three races as shown in their popular 
songs and tales. — Differences of dialect. 

The oldest of the three Russian races is the race 
of the White Russians ; the youngest, that of the 
Great Russians. But in history the latter play the 
general part of younger brothers in Russian tales. 
The youngest brother is always represented as the 
most energetic of the three, able to do all sorts of 
things beyond the power of his elders. This race 
occupied the greatest part of Russia, and took the 
lead in the formation of our national unity. By 
degrees, also, it has become the most numerous. 
The Great Russians are to-day nearly forty-eight 
millions in number ; the Little Russians more than 
fifteen millions. The oldest branch has stopped 
growing, as if dried up ; it has not enlarged its old 
territory by a foot, and only numbers at the present 
moment four million people. One might say that 
the cruel vicissitudes of its history have succeeded 
in crushing it. 

The domination of Lithuania and of Poland, the 
predominance of the aristocracy, weighed so heavily 
on the White Russian people, that resistance seemed 


impossible. " Our ancestors were slaves. All the 
world calls us serfs; every one is the master of us," 
groans one of their poets. In fact, White Russia 
has never opposed any resistance to her oppressors. 

None the less, it cannot be said that this people 
is incapable of anything. At the bottom of its soul 
it is far from being a slave. He that reads the 
poetry of the Bielo Russians will be astonished to 
find in it a beauty, a poetic love of nature and of 
man ; finally, and yet more astonishing, a clear un- 
derstanding of human dio-nitv. 

In spite of centuries of slaver}', the Bielo Russian 
does not at all recognise the superiority of his lord. 
Sometimes even he makes fun of him. 

One of- their White- Russian songs tells the 
adventures of a chliakhtitch (Polish noble). He is 
destitute of all military virtues, and occupies himself 
with housekeeping. 

" A carroty liachek [a little Pole] 
Mounted a beetroot horse." 

This Pole, moreover, had bullets of potato, that 
were one day eaten up by the pigs, so that he had 
nothing left with which to defend himself. 

One story wittily compares the ideas of a White 
Russian with those of a noble. Aflane (noble), 
meeting a peasant, asks him, " Whose are you ? " 
i.e., Who is your master ? The peasant pretends 
not to understand. He answers, " My father's and 
mother's." The pcuie, not thinking that the reply is 
ironical, explains anew his meaning. " I am asking 
you who is the greatest in your village ? " The 
peasant answers, " Gossip Avdei is the tallest in our 


place." The pane grows vexed, thinks the peasant 
stupid, and resolves on again changing the form of 
his question. " Of whom are you afraid ? " " Our 
priest has a very nasty dog," the peasant answers ; 
" every one in our place is afraid of it. They carry 
sticks if they have to go near it." 

Whilst the Bielo Russian by no means recognises 
at heart the nobles' superiority, he never opposes to 
them any overt resistance. It is difficult to know 
what easy goodnature prevents him from having 
recourse to violence, even in his own defence. 
Among this people, the songs of home life are full 
of complaints of husband against wife, wife against 
husband ; but all this grumbling rarely goes beyond 
complaints, and never as far as violence. This 
is the way, for example, in which it shows itself. 
Sometimes the daughter-in-law rejoices that her 
mother-in-law has tumbled into the nettles ; some- 
times the husband prays the rain to soak his wife 
through and through. But with all this malicious 
fun, the White Russian is notable for a sort of know- 
ledee of his own weakness, for a conviction that the 
predominance of evil is the resistless law of life. 

The songs of the Great Russians often express 
anguish. This anguish is generally caused by some 
isolated fact that might, and even should, not exist. 

For the Great Russian, sorrow is an unfortunate 
accident. The pains of the Bielo Russian are less 
acute, but they are hopeless. The Bielo Russian is 
not cast down by his grief, simply by reason of the 
conviction that this misfortune is inevitable. And 
he makes no protest ; only sometimes he makes up 
his mind to invoke the aid of Heaven. 


" Holy Virgin, mother of the Russian land ! Thy 
power is great here and on high ; thy hands can 
save the sinner from a puaishment too severe. Let 
me not perish ! " 

But the Bielo Russian cannot even find consola- 
tion in religion. 

A poem of the Great Russians represents a com- 
bat between Injustice and Justice, in which victory 
remains, it is true, with Injustice — who thenceforth 
reigns on earth — but in which, nevertheless, Justice 
does not perish ; she only passes from earth to 
heaven. They have also a beautiful story of Mis- 
fortune pursuing without ceasing a man until he 
finds rest in a monastery : " Misfortune pauses on 
the threshold of holy doors." 

On the other hand, the Bielo Russians cannot 
have much hope even in the power of a Supreme 
Being. Their anthropomorphic god is often nothing 
more than a stanovoi (commissary of rural police). 

Let us see something of the justice, the humanity, 
these unhappy mortals find in heaven. 

Once upon a time, says one of their popular 
stories, a soldier died. He 'had done such good 

service in his life-time, that the tsar knew him 


and had often made him his orderly. When the 
soldier turned up in the other world, God also gave 
him the berth of orderly, and told him to announce 

One day Death came to get' his orders from God. 
Through the soldier, God ordered him to kill for 
three years middle-aged men. The soldier took 
pity on these unfortunates, and resolved on a lie. 
He told Death that God's orders were that for 


three years he was to gnaw middle-aged oaks. 
Death, in spite of his astonishment, dared not dis- 
obey the orders of the Most High. For three 
years he destroyed assiduously oak-forests, and at 
the end of the time appeared again before God. 
The soldier did not let him reach God, and asked 
him what he wanted. " Ask God," said Death to 
him, " to be good enough to give me a less trouble- 
some job ; for this one has given me a lot of 
trouble, I assure you." The soldier took God the 
message, but said never a word about gnawing 

" Good ! " said God. " Let him go back to earth 
and kill little children for three years. And he 
must try and kill them properly, not like these last 
three years, in which he has done nothing. It 
seems he's growing lazy, this Death." 

The soldier gave this order as follows : — 

" God is cross. You have gnawed the oaks ill. 
He only pardons you on account of your old age. 
Now go and gnaw the young oaks for three years." 

Death went away, and again set to work. 

At the end of three years he returned, quite 
exhausted. He had no longer any confidence in 
the soldier, and wanted to see God Himself. He 
made such a noise, that God came hurrying into 
the passage. The soldier saw he was lost. When 
God saw Death, He began grumbling. He said to 
him that, thanks to his idleness, there had been no 
death on earth for the last six years. Explanations 
followed, and God's anger was turned against the 
soldier. The Master of the universe, in His irrita- 
tion, inflicted upon him a severe punishment. To 


chastise his excess of humanity, the soldier was to 
carry Death across the earth on his shoulders. 
Resistance was useless. He must resign himself to 
this sad lot. Yet the soldier's heart still suffered, 
and he ever sought for means by which he might 
help men. Soon chance gave him an opportunity. 
It was his habit to take snuff. One day Death 
asked him why he did it. The soldier answered 
that the snuff made him strong, and that but for 
it he would not have been able to carry Death. 
Death seemed very glad to know of this strength- 
ener : he asked the soldier to give him a pinch. 

"It '11 do me good, perhaps," said he ; " I have a 
difficulty in breathing." 

" It's true," answered the soldier, " that this '11 do 
you a lot of good ; but if you only take it as I do, 
you will have to wait a long while for any result. 
You will do better if you throw yourself right into 
my snuff-box, and stop there some time. In three 
days you will be quite well." 

Death followed his advice. The soldier shut him 
up in his snuff-box, and carried him about for the 
three years, so as not to transgress the command of 
God. Thus were men once more saved. 

How many times have the Bielo Russian serving- 
men, in the goodness of their hearts, had to resort 
to like ruses to save their brothers, the peasants, 
from the blind ano-er of their masters ! 

The goodnature of the Bielo Russians, that 
never seems to me to be capable of changing into 
indignation or anger, is a trait of Russian character 
generally, only carried to an extreme in them. The 
Great Russians, as well as the Little Russians, are 


not at all vindictive, and are quite as gentle. Rus- 
sians, from the point of view of humanity, and of the 
interest they take in the misfortunes of others, might 
set an example to many a philanthropist. To all 
criminals they give the name " nestchastnenkie " 
(poor unfortunates). Nor is this a mere phrase. 
The best observers of the life of the people, the 
best Russian artists, have noticed this trait of 
national character. But there is on this point a 
great difference between the Great and the Little 
Russian ; the latter is somewhat sentimental, the 
former not at all. The Great Russian acts from 
conviction rather than the impulse of sentiment. 
He never says anything sentimental if he feels any 
real emotion ; the Little Russian very often does. 
But, on the other hand, if the Great Russian is 
irritated, in despair, in a passion, he is capable of 
a cold cruelty inconceivable on the part of the other. 
It is curious, for example, to compare how the songs 
of the two races tell the same fact — the poisoning 
of a faithless lover by a young girl. 

The Little Russian Maroussia poisons her lover 
Gritz, but she loves him all the while. She even 
calls him Gritzenko — a caressing diminutive. She 
recounts in detail all the preparations for this ter- 
rible action, she tells also all that which happens 
after the death of Gritz ; but she says nothing of 
the actual deed, nothing but the words, " Gritz is 
dead." It is clear that for her to recall the details 
of this death is too great a pain. 

The young girl of the Great Russian song, on the 
other hand, dwells at length on all the tortures of 
her poisoned lover ; such is her cruelty, that even in 


the midst of his torments she asks him, " Now, my 
darling - , tell me what is on your mind ? " It is as if 
she cannot satiate her revenge, as if she finds a 
melancholy joy in dwelling on every detail of her 
vengeance. Such cruelty, it is true, is rare in the 
songs of the Great Russians, but in those of the 
Little Russians, as far as I know, there is no in- 
stance of the like. 

The Little Russian is more gentle ; he has more 
of the characteristic traits of the south. He has 
energy, but it is by fits and starts, and very readily 
the meditative inaction of the lazzarone takes its 
place. The energy of the Great Russians is that 
of perseverance. "In their songs," says our cele- 
brated historian Kostomarov, " the force of will 
takes on a lofty and poetic character. . . . The 
best Great Russian song^s are those that tell of the 
movements of a soul o-atherinor- together all its 
forces, as symbolical of triumph, or of the defeat 
that does not crush the force within." * Of this 
nature is the magnificent bandit song, " The Forest 
of Green Oaks." A brave " peasant-son," who has 
perchance avenged the outrages heaped upon his 
enslaved brethren, is about to appear before the 
tsar and be cross-examined there. He is ponder- 
ing beforehand on his answers, that he may not 
betray his comrades — that he may take a stand 
so lofty that the tsar himself, as he sends him to 
the gallows, may be forced to say, " Honour to thee, 
brave boy and peasant- son ! " 

This inward strength finds much feebler expres- 
sion in the Little Russian songs. But, generally 
1 " Monographs," voL i. p. 92. 


speaking, Little Russia is the greater poet. Her 
songs are unrivalled for beauty of form, delicacy of 
sentiment, charm of melody. The Little Russian 
feels very keenly his rights and dignities as an 
individual. On this account he is naturally ready 
always to protest against all despotism. The 
revolts of the Ukraine shook, as I have said, the 
power of Poland. The Little Russians' protested 
against the tendency of their Starshina (chiefs of 
the Cossack armies) to form an aristocracy. Finally, 
the popular revolutionary movements actually mani- 
fest themselves more in the south, in Little Russia. 

The Little Russian is a profound democrat, a 
champion of equality, which does not prevent him 
from being at the same time something of an indi- 
vidualist, and from taking especial care that another 
man does not own more than he does. The Great 
Russian is not less a democrat, but he is a man 
sociable to the core. He cannot imagine a life 
outside his society, outside the mir. Sometimes 
' the Little Russian says, " What belongs to all 
belongs to the devil." The Great Russian says, 
" The Mir is a fine fellow. I will not desert the 
Mir. Even death is beautiful in common ! " and 
so forth. To betray the commune is the greatest 
possible, the one unpardonable sin. 1 The ideas of 
public safety, of the popular will, penetrate the 
whole being of the Great Russian, and take in him 
the severe aspect of duty. He protests less against 
despotism than against injustice. From the idea of 
the public welfare he deduces that of his rights. 

1 The celebrated Niekrassov, a Great Russian by birth, worked 
out this idea admirably in one of his best pieces. 


The Little Russian, on the contrary, reaches the 
idea of the public welfare by taking as his starting- 
point the exigencies of his individual right. The 
Great Russian is a man of discipline, an excellent 
organizer — qualities wanting in the Little Russian, 
who finds great difficulty in giving up his individual 
independence, even if the sacrifice is for the common 

The genius of the Little Russian is apt at com- 
binations, but too lazy to look into the future. He 
easily confuses things he wishes to happen with 
those that ought to happen. " Don't look at the 
game," says he; " let's lead trumps." The practical 
genius of the Great Russian has, on the other hand, 
a well-deserved reputation. He at once tells the 
possible from the impossible, and loves to act on a 
plan completely thought out beforehand, The Great 
Russian is crafty, but he likes to wear the mask of 
good nature. The Little Russian is very frank, but 
he likes to assume an air of cunnina. This charac- 
teristic is cleverly brought out in a popular tale, 
made up, without a doubt, by the Great Russians. 

Once upon a time, a village Khokhol x came to 
town. He stared in wonderment at the houses, the 
churches. . . . His attention was caught by a 
sight he had often seen in his own village — a flock 
of crows perched on a steeple. Out of sheer idle- 
ness he began to count them. On a sudden the 
angry cry of a soldier rang out : 

1 Khokhol is literally "a lock of hair." The Great Russians 
call the Little Russians thus after the great lock of hair the 
Cossacks leave on their shaven skulls. The Little Russians, who 
wear no beard, answer to quolibet by quolibet ; they call the Great 
Russians, on account of their long beards, Katsap (like a goat). 

VOL. I. G 


" What are you doing there, Khokhol ? " 

" I am counting the crows." 

" And how dare you count the crows of the 
Government ? " 

The soldier began to roar. The Khokhol was 
frightened and began to apologise. The soldier told 
him categorically that for every crow counted ten 
kopecks had to be paid. 

" How many crows have you counted ? " 

" Nearly ten." . 

" Then pull out your purse and give me a ruble." 

The Khokhol gave the money asked for ; and the 
soldier, mighty proud of his victory, went to the 
tavern to get a drink with the simple peasant's 
money ; whilst the Khokhol, equally satisfied with 
himself, smiled and murmured, as he watched the 
soldier go : 

" I've done you nicely, Moscal (Muscovite). I 
counted at least a hundred crows, and I've only paid 
for ten!" 

Each nationality has a large number of anecdotes 
of this kind about the other, but there is no need to 
conclude from this that there is any serious enmity 
between Great and Little Russians. As a rule, they 
get on very well together. In the south of Russia 
there are enormous territories peopled by a mix- 
ture of these two nationalities, and there are never 
any collisions between them. In certain places the 
commingling of the two is very complete. Some- 
times even the same song cannot be heard in pure 
Great or in pure Little Russian. It is easy to recog- 
nise in its original idiom — made up of a mixture of 
sounds, accents, turns of phrase borrowed from the 


two lanmja^es — the lancma^e of both shores of the 
Sea of Azov, Stavropal, or the Crimea. In like 
manner in the south we recognise the mixture of 
manners and customs belong^ino - to the two nation- 

As to the language, it is necessary to remark that 
the difference is not so great that the Bielo Russians, 
the Little Russians, and the Great Russians cannot 
understand one another. But each of their tongues 
has sounds, words, turns of phrase peculiar to it, 
and this is enough to give rise to quid pro quos. 
The Little Russians, for example, tell a story of 
the laughable position of a Great Russian soldier 
lodging at a Little Russian's. He had much ap- 
preciated a dish of his hostess, called varenniki. 
He asked her its name. The woman, vexed at the 
presence of a compulsory guest, only growled 
between her teeth : " Jri movtchki ! " (" Eat, and hold 
your tongue ! "). Some time after, the soldier, now 
friendly with his hosts, asked the hostess in vain to 
get him some " jrimovtchkis " again. Anxious as 
she was to please him, she could not guess what he 

It is clear, of course, that a pun proves nothing. 
Most frequently, Great and Little Russians can 
understand one another, although they cannot keep 
up a rapid conversation. 

The Great Russian tongue is divided into four 
dialects. One of these scarcely differs from the 
Bielo Russian language ; another is closely akin to 
the Little Russian. Generally, our scientific men 
hold that Great Russian was once a branch of Bielo 
Russian. This explains still better the ease with 


which Great and White Russians understand one 
another. Besides, in studying Russian types, it 
must not be forgotten that their differences are only 
family ones. In the faces of three brothers you 
always notice many different characteristics ; but if 
you compare these brothers with strangers, the 
family characteristics are very noticeable. Compared 
with a German, the Great Russian seems as full of 
go and ductile as the Little ; compared with a Finn, 
the Bielo Russian will not seem impressionable. 


The Cossacks. — Their part in history. — Organization of the 
Cossack army. — Policy of the Government in respect to the 
Cossacks. — Discontent to which this has given rise among 

One other type, I have said, separates itself most 
distinctly from all others in the Russian family. It 
is the Cossack. The Cossacks are not a nation ; 
there are Great and Little Russian Cossacks. The 
Cossacks of Siberia even present a strange mixture 
of Great Russians, Poles, Little Russians, Tartars. 
The Cossacks are a half military, half civil class. 
They are all bound to undergo military service, and 
to supply infantry and cavalry regiments. But, dur- 
ing the time they are not occupied in this service, 
they give themselves up to agriculture, industry, 

The total population, male and female, of the 
Cossacks is now 2,267,676, spread over ten regions 
or armies.

{_{ "Almanach de Hoppe", 1885, 85. }_} 

Some of these armies are self-formed ; 
others have been organised by Government. 
"Cossack" is a Tartar word, strictly meaning 
"knight, brave". 

Three hundred years ago, in the thick of the 
struggle between the Russian nationalities and the 
nomadic Tartar tribes, the Government had Cossacks 
on duty upon the frontiers of the country. But the 
movement of colonization gave rise, — besides the 
regular Cossacks compelled to military service, — to 
a much greater number of Cossacks, independent, 
irregular, bandits [vorovskie]. 

The Russian population fleeing from the oppression 
of the voevodas of the tsar and the 
Polish nobles, or merely seeking after a free life, 
and at times from the desire to go in for brigandage, 
marched boldly into the heart of the countries 
occupied by the Tartars. In these men Russia 
found a natural defence. These advanced guards 
of the nation bore the first shock of the nomad 
tribes, and made the Tartars pay dearly for them. 
Such were in the Polish Ukraine the Zaporozhtsy, 
and in Great Russia the Cossacks of the Don, the 
Terek, the Yaik (or Ural), and the Volga. 

{_{ "Yaik" was then the name of the river now known as the Ural 
by order of Catherine II, who wanted to destroy every memory 
of that revolt of Pugachev which began among the Cossacks 
of the Iaik. }_}

The temerity of these colonists is really astounding. 
The Cossacks of the Don, for example, occupied the 
forests and marshes of their peaceful Don, at the 
time when the whole of this region belonged to the 
khans of the Crimea and to the sultans of Turkey, 
who were making Europe tremble just as the Muscovite 
tsar was. Often the khan of the Crimea and 
the sultan made representations to the tsar as to the 
insolence of the Cossacks, and demanded their 
removal. The Muscovite Government answered 
that these Cossacks were thieves, that they occupied 
the country bordering on the Don without 
any authorization, and that the khan and the sultan 
might exterminate them when they liked. The 
khan and the sultan took them at their word, and 
used every effort to exterminate the Cossacks. This 
was more than once the cause of actual wars. Thus 
the celebrated siege of Azov is a memorable date in 
the history of the Don. Azov — a Turkish fortress 
that shut the Cossacks out from the sea, the vessels 
on which they were pillaging — was taken by the 
Cossacks with an audacious sudden dash. The 
Turkish Government, resolved on punishing this 
daririo??: horde, sent two armies of more than 100,000 
men to re-take Azov and exterminate the Cossacks. 
Twice did their efforts meet with a check. This 
heroic struggle carries us back to the time of the 
epic deeds of the Knights of Malta [ID??]. 

Hardened by privations, the Cossacks formed an 
invincible race that seemed as if made of steel. 
Even at the present time, the Cossacks of the Don 
strike with wonder the observer by their lofty stature 
and strength, although their old men think that 
now-a-days men have grown weak. 

The Cossacks of the Terek and of the Yaik 
advanced yet further into the depths of Asia. One 
handful of mountaineers, surrounded on all sides 
by enemies, reached step by step the foot of the 
Caucasus. Others of them, fearlessly defying the 
nomads to battle, so arranged their colonies as to 
cut in two, right across their breadth, the lands of 
these tribes, and thus placed between themselves 
and Russia numberless hordes of Kirghis. These 
are those same Cossack bands, commanded by the 
celebrated ataman, Yermak Timofeevich, that 
crossed the chain of the Oural and conquered Siberia [ID??]. 

I said above that often, in dangerous times, the 
Russian Government left the Cossacks to the mercy 
of their foes. Yet they rendered immense services 
to Russia. The lands that lay behind their frontiers 
were, little by little, peopled by peaceful cultivators. 
Thus enormous territories became the property of 
Russia. The Cossacks — the fact is notable — never 
lost cognisance of the ties uniting them to Russia. 
Separated from her by thousands of miles, owing 
everything to their own energy alone, they yet 
looked upon themselves as a part of the Russian 
people ; and this established a strong bond between 
them and the Government of Russia. In the immen- 
sity of the forests (taigas) and the steppes of Siberia, 
the Cossack bands hunted land for the tsar, and 
whatever region they seized, they never failed to 
announce the news to the Muscovite Government. 

Of course the services they voluntarily rendered 
to the Russian Government were not the sole end 
and aim of the Cossacks. They were after booty, 
glory, and above all an independent life ; but at the 
same time they knew well enough that they were 
serving the interests of Russia. Thus Iermak, when 
he undertook the conquest of Siberia, looked upon 
this as an exploit destined to atone for all his sins. 

Whilst they served the Government, the Cossacks 
had no sympathy with it. Unlimited independence 
and republican liberty held sway among them. 
They hated the despotism of the tsars, and above 


all that of their voievodes. They tried several times 
to overturn the Government during the time of the 
troubles, and again at the revolt of Stenka Razine, 
and at that of Pugachev. But as they did not 
wish to separate from Russia, the Cossacks were of 
necessity compelled to recognise the authority ruling 
them. In the time of Peter the Great, part of the 
Cossacks of the Don, refusing to put up with re- 
strictions upon their freedom, crossed into Turkey. 
The sultan eagerly welcomed them, gave them lands 
and full liberty to govern themselves as they liked. 
Despite these advantages, these Cossacks (the 
Niekrassovtsi) could scarcely bear the thought that 
they were serving the enemy of their country, and 
the majority of them returned to Russia. They 
were very useful to the Emperor Nicolas I. in his 
victories over the Turks. 

The Cossacks were by no means professional 
brigands. Truly, they fleeced the Crimea and 
Turkey, came up to Constantinople in their ships, 
devastated Persia, at times plundered the Russian 
merchants ; but at the same time they worked. The 
rivers of the Cossacks — the Dnieper, Don, Volga, 
Oural — overflowed with fish ; the virgin steppes 
yielded rich pasturage. The Cossacks gave them- 
selves up assiduously to fishing and the breeding 
of flocks. As soon as their position became more 
secure, they began to till the fields. 

In its internal organization, each Cossack army 
seemed like an enormous commune governing itself. 
Everything was decided by the " krougs " (assem- 
blies) of villages and of the army. All the authorities 
were chosen by election. The land of the armies 


belonged to the whole of the community ; the carry- 
ing out of certain industries was effected in common ; 
for the Oural fisheries, for example, the whole army 
joined and worked together on a regular plan. The 
stanitsi (villages) of the Cossacks extended every- 
where. Thus they not only increased the territory 
of Russia ; they cultivated the conquered regions, 
and ^ave them a social organization. 

As the power of the Cossacks grew, the Russian 
Government set to work to find methods for making 
use of them. It was wise, in the event of diplomatic 
complications, not to own them as subjects ; on the 
other hand, the Government often furnished them 
with arms and ammunition. Gradually it began to 
supply them regularly with pay, to own the Cossacks 
as its subjects officially, to give them rewards ; at 
the same time it began to mix itself up with their 
internal affairs. By degrees it founded new armies 
and reformed the old. Sometimes it subdued 
them by force, but force carefully exercised ; under 
Catherine I. the army of the Zaporojtsi was wholly 
destroyed, almost without resistance. The major 
part of the Zaporojsti were carried off to the banks 
of the river Kouban, where they formed a new 

Now-a-days the autonomy of the Cossacks in all 
that concerns their central administration does not 
exist. Of the ataman of the army, only the name 
is left. That is the title borne by the heir to the 
throne. By this clever device, the Russian Govern- 
ment has adroitly put an end to all attempts at 
electing an ataman. As to the nakazno'is, the 
Government generally chooses them from the Russian 


generals. x If a Cossack is named for this post, he 
is always taken from another army ; for example, 
a Cossack of the Don is nominated ataman of the 
army of the Terek, and vice versa. As a rule, care 
is taken not to nominate the Cossacks to any post, 
not even in the general direction of the army ; and 
the Government is making systematic efforts to 
destroy their republican traditions and wholly 
assimilate them to the rest of its subjects. 

To attain this end, the Government has long been 
trying to sow discord among the Cossacks. Thus 
it conferred the rank of nobility on all the Cossack 
officers, although among them the position of an 
officer can only be held by one who has been chosen 
for that purpose. Again, under Alexander II., the 
Government gave away, under the name of private 
properties, almost half the lands of the Cossack 
army ; it showed a very special generosity to the 
officers, but also assigned modest domains to ordinary 
Cossacks. But the estates of the armies were a 
collective property, distributed only by right of tenure 
among all the Cossacks. This alienation of estates 
to the officers has brought about the result that at 
the present time the Cossacks possess sometimes 
less than half the estates to which they have legal 
right. The policy of the Government has for end 
the creation of inequality, and therefore class ani- 
mosity, among the Cossacks, in order to render pro- 
test from them as a whole impossible. 

To attain the same end, the Government has tried 
to establish among the Cossacks the zemstvo, which 

1 The nakazno'i ataman is, so to say, an adjunct or representa- 
tive of the voiskovoi ataman (ataman of the army). 


would have effaced all difference between the 
Cossacks and the rest of the population. Until the 
present time the local autonomy of the Cossack 
stanitsi (villages) was very considerable. But last 
year the Government introduced certain regulations 
to restrict the rights and privileges of the village 
assembly. This measure once taken, the rights of 
the Cossacks became even less than those of the 
peasants. The Cossacks, forming as they do a sort 
of popular aristocracy, are proud of their autonomy, 
and the general discontent provoked by this measure 
can be easily conceived. 


Germans and Jews. — German pretensions to have civilized Russia. 
— Great influence on Russian policy of the Germans of 
the Baltic. — German labor colonies. — The part they have 
played in southern Russia. — The Jews. — Their importance 
as part of the people. — Their despised position. — Polish and 
Caucasian Jews. — Rights of domicile. — Jews in the adminis- 
tration and in the schools. — -Economic role of the Jews. — 
Their poverty and their plundering. — The Semitic question. 
— The means to its solution. 

Dispersed here and there over Russia, dominated 
by a population of pure Russian nationality, are 
also a certain number of Finnish, Tartar, and other 
races. Several of these I have already mentioned. 1 
Here I need only say a few words on two non- Rus- 
sian races that especially deserve attention. These 
are the Jews and the Germans. 

Both inhabit various places in different parts of 
Russia. Each of them occupies a social position 
apart from the rest of the people, but apart from 
them in two quite different ways. 

The position of the Germans until now is, so 
to say, privileged. Even to-day the answer of the 
celebrated General Miloradovich, on the subject 
1 See Book I., pp. n, 12, et seq. 


of the Germans, is worth repeating. The Em- 
peror Alexander I. asked what reward he would 
like for his services. The general bested him to 
make him a German. 

The Jews, on the contrary, are as pariahs, not 
even enjoying- the poor privileges that belong to all 
other Russian subjects. 

The Germans owe their privileged position to the 
influence of the nobility of the Baltic provinces in 
the main. Looking upon themselves as the Kultur- 
tragem (educators) of this barbarous country, they 
rely one on the other, and are constantly finding 
better positions, more remunerative work, than the 

Count Kankrine, one of the most eminent mini- 
sters of the Emperor Nicolas, said, "It was by a 
special dispensation of Providence that Russia, until 
then a mere mechanical aggregation of very dis- 
cordant elements, was able to acquire the German 
provinces of the Baltic Sea. By that acquisition it 
became possible for her to form, by degrees, a poli- 
tical organism. These provinces have served her 
for a model ; it is from them that all the organic 
institutions of Russia have come, her governments, 
the constitution of her nobility, municipal organiza- 
tion, etc." 

This quotation depicts admirably the presumption 
of the Germans, as well as their ignorance and 
their contempt of Russia. Russia was plunged in 
chaos and darkness. God said, " Let there be 
Germans " ; and there was light. Unfortunately the 
count is right as far as concerns the German insti- 
tutions, a not very enviable model. The institutions 


of the Baltic provinces, created by the cruel rule of 
a minority, are truly a fine model ! And it is for 
this reason that the Russian remembrance of German 
rule, now in its decline, is not much tinctured with 
regret. The Germans brought us much science and 
industrial technique; in politics they were the chief 
organizers of the despotism, and often enough they 
have so acted as to deserve the curses of our nation. 
We look upon the German rule as we do that of 
the Tartars. 

Were there not in Russia other Germans than 
the Government employes, the organizers of our 
bureaucracy, and the managers or directors who 
have tried to organize the seignorial domains on 
the Baltic model, they would be simply hated. The 
600,000 Germans living in Russia do not all belong 
to these sorry categories. Besides a certain number 
of educated men, who have known how to really un- 
derstand their new country, have learned to love 
it, and have done much for our science, and even 
for the national spirit in Russia, we have also 
German colonists occupying whole districts in 
southern Russia. These colonists have enjoyed a 
very privileged position ; they received from the 
Government excellent land in large quantities, and 
communal autonomy ; they were free from taxes and 
military service. 1 Thanks to all these favours, and 
to the money help they received from their co- 
religionists in Germany (they are Memnonite sec- 
taries), thanks also to their love of work, these 

1 The latter privilege was only abolished when military service 
was compulsory for all. As a consequence of this measure, many 
colonists passed from Russia to America. 


colonists attained a condition of comfort exceedingly 
rare, and their method of agriculture had great 
influence on the economic development of southern 
Russia. They gave an impulse to the breeding of 
merino sheep ; they cultivated the best kinds of 
wheat, and so forth. Unfortunately, as they occupy 
uninterrupted tracts of land, as vast as a German 
principality, they are still at the present time 
isolated from the Russians, and in many cases do 
not know their language. The rich colonists have 
besides acquired in certain places estates so huge 
that the Russian peasants think themselves wronged, 
and this provokes at times hostile demonstrations 
on the part of the Russian population, such as oc- 
curred during the anti-Semitic troubles. On the 
other hand, recent facts point to the commencement 
of more friendly relations between the Russians and 
the Germans. One of the best proofs of this is the 
Stunda, a sect very general in the south, created by 
the propaganda of these German colonists. 

In any case, although the Germans are not loved 
in Russia, there is, nevertheless, no German ques- 
tion ; on the contrary, as the privileges of the Ger- 
mans decrease, the feelings of Russians towards 
them become more favourable. 

The position of the Jews is much more abnormal, 
much more dangerous, for the feelings of the Russian 
populations in respect to them seem growing more 
hostile than before. 

More than one-half the Jewish nation lives in 
Russia ; nearly two million — three million if the 
population of Poland is counted in. The Jews have 
dwelt in our land since the most remote times. Ten 


centuries ago there was in the south of Russia the 
kingdom of Khasars, in which the Jewish religion 
was dominant. 'The oldest lives of saints men- 
tion the Jews who used to dwell in Kiev; and the 
chronicles about Vladimir the Holy, founder of 
Christianity in Russia, speak of Jew missionaries, 
who tried to induce the Grand Duke to embrace 
their religion. But the most considerable portion 
only emigrated into Russia at the time of the 
persecution of the Jews in western Europe. This 
emigration occurred when all the west of Russia 
belonged to Poland. The kings of Poland main- 
tained the same policy to the Jews as the mediaeval 
sovereigns of Europe. They looked upon them as 
means of profit, and, declaring with perfect frank- 
ness that the role of the Jews was to accumulate 
money, gave them every opportunity of exploiting 
the people. Educated Russian Hebrews, who deplore 
the sad part played by their co-religionists in Russia, 
ascribe to this legislation most of the money habits 
ingrained in the Jewish people. However this 
may be, for centuries the Jews have incurred the 
curses of the Ukraine population. In their revolts 
against Poland, the Little Russians massacred the 
Jews without quarter. They hung side by side a 
Pole, a Jew, and a dog, and wrote over them: "Pole, 
Jew, and dog are all one." 

When Poland was conquered, the emperors of 
Russia, where from the most remote times Jews had 
not been permitted to live, did not allow them to 
enter Russia. They were only allowed to dwell in 
the ancient domains of Poland, and in the territory, 
at that time a desert, bordering on the Black Sea. 

VOL. I. h 


Further, they might live in the Caucasus, where 
they had right of domicile before the annexation. 
These restrictions as to right of domicile exist in 
full force to-day, although this general rule has its 
exceptions. These exceptions have in turn others, 
and in fact the question of the right of domicile 
depends mainly on administrative despotism. Hence 
it is often decided by bribes, caprice, chance. Thou- 
sands of Jews live for years in Moscow. Then, one 
fine morning, they are hunted out ; the police expel 
them, and scatter them in all directions. The legis- 
lation of Alexander III. again has lessened the 
rights of the Jews. Only a certain number of the 
race can, to this hour, enter into the service of the 
state ; the same rule applies to schools. This 
number is calculated on the number of the Jews 
living in Russia. 

Legislation prevents the Jews from blending with 
the Russian population. Besides, the Jews have 
been forced by their very history to form a compact 
mass more imbued with religious and national fana- 
ticism in Russia than anywhere else. The old hos- 
tility of the Hebrews to all that is not of them is 
still in full force among our Russian Jews. They 
have a language of their own, a kind of ancient 
German dialect, and speak Russian very badly when 
they speak it at all. To most of them Russia is a 
p-oi, 1 i.e., a strange being, to which the rules of mo- 
rality obligatory towards God's chosen people are 
not applicable. The Russians in their turn have 
a traditional and even unconscious contempt of the 
Jews. These unhappy relations one to the other 
1 A Jewish expression. 


change greatly and vanish completely between 
educated Russians and Jews. Unfortunately the 
intelligent people are too few on either side for 
their example to appreciably influence the masses, 
amongst whom mutual relations are growing worse 
from economic causes. 

The economic role of the Jew is especially that 
of middleman between producer and consumer. He 
is trader, commission agent, broker. 

In Chernigov Province, 22 per cent, 
of the Jews keep taverns, 40 per cent, have no defi- 
nite calling, i.e., do anything that comes in their way 
by which money can be made. In the govern- 
ment of Kherson, of the total number of spirit mer- 
chants, 96 per cent, are Jews, of tavern keepers, 77 
per cent, and of corn merchants, 78 per cent. 1 But 
none of these callings, tavern keeper, corn merchant, 
and the like, can lead to fortune without cheating 
and cruel exploitation of the peasants. 

Moreover, the Jews have much to do with the 
letting of land to the peasants. The holding and 
letting of land by the Jews is very considerable in 
Russia. Thus, in Ekaterinoslav Province 
they hold 61,000 desiatinas ; in that of Tauride, 
109,000; in that of Kherson, 219,000. They let 
out in Ekaterinoslav Province 58,000 
desiatinas; in that of Kherson, 271,000, etc. In 
certain places, as in Poltava Province, e.g., 
recently, the Jews have begun buying the land in 
smaller and smaller lots, and this gives rise to a 
hope that a certain tendency towards the direct cul- 
tivation of the soil is growing amongst them. But 
1 Fr*e Speech, No. 45. 


in general the Jews only hold land in order to farm 
it out to the peasants, a new means of exploiting 
these, and of making themselves odious in their eyes. 

This exploitation takes on a character so much 
the more acute as the Jewish population, crowded 
together in sixteen governments of Russia by the 
authorities, do not find there sufficient resources for 
all their wants. Most of the Jews are indigent. 
In the governments of Kiev, of Volynia, and of 
Podolia, 2\ per cent, are on the official records of 
mendicity. The others who do not beg, rob the 
peasants rapaciously. By all sorts of evil devices 
they try to get a miserable morsel of bread, and 
they are forced to steal, however unwillingly, or 
else food would fail them. It is estimated that the 
average revenue of a Jew of the Ukraine is not 
more than forty-eight rubles a year. 1 

Thus the Jewish question in Russia is one ol the 

most involved, one of those most difficult of solution. 

The united efforts of Russians and Jews alone can 

alter this miserable state of affairs, that has drawn 

in its train the frightful anti-Semitic troubles. On 

the Government is laid the duty of taking measures 

for making the rights of the Jews equal with those 

of the Russians. On behalf of the Jews, it must be 

before all things demanded that they cease to exist 

as a nation wholly isolated from, independent of, 

hostile to, the rest of the population. Circumstances 

themselves are working to some extent in this 

1 See M. Tchoubinskii: "Work of the Ethnographic and Statis- 
tical Expedition, etc.," vol. vii. p. 40. But there are many Jews 
who are rich; therefore the means of subsistence for the mass 
of the Jewish people cannot be more abundant than in the case 
of the Russian peasant. 


direction, by bringing about the complete ruin of 
the majority of the Jews, and by convincing them 
that their kinglets — the millionaires — are not really 
at one with the rest of the Jews, as the latter are 
simple enough to believe. Moreover, this ruin may 
compel the Jews to devote themselves more and 
more to productive labor. We must not, in fact, 
look upon the Jews as composed solely of exploiters. 
In that same Chernigov Province, e.g., 13 
per cent, of the Jews are engaged in agriculture ; in 
the governments of Kiev, Volynia, Poltava, out of 
the total number of 750,000 Jews of both sexes, 
there are 160,000 artisans, drivers, water-carriers. 
In the towns of the south the Jews are often en- 
gaged in the most laborious toil, the shipping and 
unshipping of transport goods. This mass of Jew 
workers below, and of civilized Jews above, might 
get rid once for all of all divergence of interest, 
all hate, if they knew how to free themselves from 
the crowd of Jew exploiters, and if, also, they found 
in the Russians a moral support and some desire for 
reconciliation. This last is unfortunately wanting. 

The anti-Semitic troubles that have raged in the 
south, and that are not even now wholly quieted, 
have produced in this connexion a result not easy 
to be understood at the present moment. On the 
one hand, they have compelled the Jews to examine 
their position seriously, and to seek for an issue out 
of it. Hence have resulted many romantic plans 
of emigration into Palestine or into America. Such 
a passing out is clearly altogether impossible for a 
population estimated by millions ; but it is charac- 
teristic, that in these appeals a voice is always to 


be heard inviting the Jews to productive labor. 
There, in far-off Palestine, they will no longer be 
exploiters, but tillers of the soil and laborers, after 
the manner of their fathers. The same voice is 
heard in the meetings of Jews that have emigrated 
to Paris, where there is a Jewish working men's 
society. In Russia, a group of some size has been 
formed that has for mission the re-formation of the 
Jewish nation. Sects of Jews are forming, such as 
the " Spiritual Jews," sects that are an attempt to 
bring the Jews and Christians nearer together, even 
on religious grounds. On the other hand, the hatred 
of the Russians, shown so fiercely in the anti-Semitic 
troubles, seems to have driven away from our nation 
the educated Jews. This estrangement is very 
evident of late, as well as the increase of Jewish 
patriotism, if such a word can be used of a people 
that has no country. 

Without pretending here to make any forecasts as 
to the final solution of the Jewish question, I will, 
however, remark, that the most liberal period in the 
policy of our Government was the time of the closest 
approximation of the Jews (at all events the upper 
classes) to the Russians. So that one may hope 
that the suppression of the severe laws which forcibly 
unite the Jews into a compact mass deprived of all 
rights, will have a favourable influence on the solu- 
tion of the Jewish question in Russia, as it has had 
in other parts of Europe. 

When will the time for the abrogation of these 
pains and penalties come ? Up to the present time 
the Government of Alexander III. only makes them 
more and more severe. 




Chap. I. The Tartar invasions have nipped in the bud the 
development of the germs of a landed aristocracy and of a com- 
mercial class. —The ancient village in Russia. — The primitive 
mir. — Preponderating importance of the popular class. — Its in- 
direct action on authority. — In its eyes serfdom was only a tran- 
sitory institution. — It connects serfdom rather with the mir, the 
one asylum of liberty. 

Chap. II. What the mir is. — Russian villages : the izba ; the 
dvor. — The osmak. — Organization of labor. — Administration of 
the mir. — The Assemblies. — -Woman's rights. — Administrative 
control. — Division of the soil. — Communal labor. — Why the 
sharing of land came to an end. — Its renewal. 

Chap. III. The clan. — Early agriculture and markets. — -Indi- 
vidual property. — The volost. — Who were the landowners ? — The 
family commune. — The fractional commune. — Origin of the mir. 
— The chetvertniks. — Illustrations. — The commune of the mir. — 
Mobility of the population. — Development of self-government. — 
Illustrations. — Influence of foreign elements. — -The average of the 
commune family and of the individual family. — Influence of the 
Government. — Demands of the peasants. — Summary. 

Chap. IV. Themir contrasted with the political system of the 
country. — Naivete of popular ideas. — Confusion of effects due to 
physical phenomena with those due to political. — Illustrations 
from travellers' observations and popular tradition. — Belief in 
sorcerers. — The legend of emancipation. — Contempt for human 
dignity. — The great family of old. 

Chap. V. The people take part in the moral movement. — The 
schism ; its causes and effects. — The sectarians : their role in Russia 
itself. — The action of Europe. — The educated classes draw near 
the people. — Tolstoi ministry ; Russian schools. — The " otkhoj'ie 
promysly ;" their importance in the life of the Russian people. — 
Disappearance of the " ancient family." — Family partitions. 


The Tartar invasions have nipped in the bud the development of 
the germs of a landed aristocracy and of a commercial class. 
— The ancient village in Russia. — The primitive mir. — Pre- 
ponderating importance of the popular class. — Its indirect 
action on authority. — In its eyes serfdom was only a trans- 
itory institution. — It connects serfdom rather with the ////>, 
the one asylum of liberty. 

In ancient Russia there were certain conditions 
favourable to the development of a landed aristo- 
cracy and an order of manufacturers and traders. 

From the 13th century onwards, however, things 
take another turn. The Tartars on the one side, 
the Germans on the other, drive Russia into a kind 
of cul-de-sac, cut her off from all the rest of the 
world. * Commerce and industry fall into an 

1 In three hundred years, starting from 1224, Russia underwent 
twenty-four Tartar invasions, without counting the small chronic 
incursions of these barbarians. In this place we cannot dwell 
upon the ruinous condition of all Russian commerce, owing to 
the privileges granted to the Tartars : our hunters, e.g., were 
obliged to give up to them, on demand, even their hunting stock 
in trade. The excessive depreciation of money is a striking sign 
of the impoverishment of commerce. The Russian grivna, worih 
forty-eight drachmas in the nth century, falls about the middle 
of the 1 2th to forty drachmas, at the end of this century to 


atrophy. The painful toil of the agricultural pioneer 
becomes the lot of all the land, and only yields to 
all men means of subsistence uniformly poor. There 
is no means of becoming wealthy save brigandage. 
The upper classes, moreover, take origin and grow 
very slowly. Under the influence of this equality of 
fact the sentiment of equality grows little by little ; 
and at the same time the cruel struggle with nature 
and with hostile nations forces men to press closely 
together, imposes on them unity. 

This then is the social and economic school in 
which the character of the Russian people takes 

Picture to yourself a little village of Russian 
pioneers, somewhere near Simbirsk, two centuries 
ago. In front of the village and beyond the Volga 
stretch limitless steppes, whence flocks of savage 
Nogais swoop down like hungry falcons ; all round 
are dense forests filled with deer and rebel Chere- 
misses. A pathless morass separates the village 
from the small fort of the tsar, in case of attack 
the sole refuge of the inhabitants. In winter the 
morass is covered with a bridge of ice ; the tem- 
perature falls to — 40°; the bourans (storms) of Siberia 
heap up snow-mountains capable of engulfing whole 
villages. Is it wise then to live separately, family 
by family, farm by farm ? Does not every one 
every clay need the help of his neighbour, for 
defence against the Nogais, for felling forest trees, 

twenty-four, and at the beginning of the 13th to fourteen. This 
terrible economic crisis is before the time of the actual Tartar 
conquest. — (Klioutchevskii : ''The Council of the Boyards in 
Ancient Russia," p. 99.) 


for clearing lots in order to put them under cultiva- 
tion, for warding off starvation if the fields are 
yielding nothing — there is no place where one can 
buy bread, — for keeping in order the road leading to 
the tsar's fort, the one refuge in case of danger ? 

Man is by nature a social animal ; he inclines 
to allying himself with his like. But this natural 
instinct becomes yet more marked in circumstances 
such as these. It is strengthened by all the strength 
of utilitarian calculations. Thus the mass of the 
people was born, lived, and died in conditions that 
developed in them a religious respect for the mir. 
Outside this, life seemed impossible. 

The ancient Russian villages were not, as a rule, 
large,— two, three, four dvors (courts), 1 — the frag- 
ments of cultivable land scattered here and there in 
the forests and marshes compelling the formation 
of small villages only. But these villages, in spite 
of the distances between them, lived in constant 
alliance and constant relations. A mir occupied, 
e.g., a circumference of 300 versts (320 kilometres, 
nearly 200 miles). Here the commune, in the actual 
sense of that word, did not as yet exist. Virgin 
lands alone were a communal good. The cultivated 
lands belonged to families, or even to small patri- 
archal communes ; but the sentiment of solidarity that 
the life in the mir developed prepared men's minds 
by degrees for the communal holding of the land. 

The intellectual speculations of the peasant clearly 

1 The dvor, or court, is the economic unit : it contains one or 
several houses, and one or several married couples lodge in it. 
The dvor has only one hedge and one gate in common for its 


would assume the form of an inquiry into the 
better organization of the mir. The necessities of 
the commune forced each man to think out the most 
perfect organization of the commune, inasmuch as 
the populace could only rely upon organizing its 
own forces, seeing that there was not in the village 
a master capable of assuming any responsibility. 
The master — where he did exist — served the tsar, 
and confined his relations with the village to the 
receiving as many payments in kind as he could 

Habituating themselves in this way to self-govern- 
ment, the people grew up under the rule of a com- 
plete equality, and by degrees transferred the idea 
of equality of the rights of each to economic rela- 
tions. The development of thought in this sense was 
inevitable. At bottom, the idea that all are equal, 
that social institutions only exist for the good of 
society, and finally that society is under obligation 
to assure work for each individual, is but the 
natural and logical consequence of the very idea of 
society. These simple consequences do not come 
merely to those minds in which the development of 
classes disturbs the regular march of human thought. 
The Russian people, in spite of all their ignorance, 
grew up under circumstances in which no classes 
existed ; moreover, they could not fail to deduce 
that two and two make four. Later on, when the 
character of the people was already formed, and 
the mass of the people organized in its mir, the 
latter was a great obstacle to the development of 
the privileged classes. The mir had existed even 
when everything else favoured that development. 


The dispositions and tendencies of the masses 
were a stone round the neck of the development of 
the nobility, and made their fall more easy than 
might have been imagined. Now-a-days they are 
very injurious to the development of the bourgeoisie, 
and will very probably destroy them in their turn, 
like the nobility. On the other hand, they have 
created Russian absolutism ; or, more accurately, 
have made possible its triumphant development into 
an institution of unbounded despotism, and often 
actually directed — and this is most curious — against 
the interests of the people. 

The importance of the masses is therefore very 
great. Whether the people speak or are silent, — 
whether they act or squat down in their wheat- 
fields, — everything in the country is involuntarily 
based upon them. The state policy of the Govern- 
ment, the rise and fall of the privileged classes, the 
mental work of the educated classes — all this and a 
thousand other things bear the impress of the in- 
fluence of the peasants, without these knowing it, 
without in many cases even those subject to it being 
aware of the real cause of what they do or say. 
The peasant acts on them as nature acts, as the 
environment which predetermines our actions inde- 
pendently of any understanding we may have or 
may not have as to their causes. 

As consequence of this, the study of the character 
and institutions of the people has in Russia more 
of interest than anywhere else. This study explains 
to us at once the past and present of the country, 
and casts a light upon its future. Until the present 
time, in fact, the influence of the masses on politics 


has only shown itself by way of reaction. But now 
the spirit of the people is growing, is becoming 
capable of vast political conceptions. The hour is 
coming when the masses will say their say more 
clearly. I do not wish to play prophet, but it is 
evident that the people will try to reproduce in 
Government institutions something of what they 
have done among themselves. 

Let us look then at the people at home, in their 
villages ; let us see what they do when they act 
according to their own tastes and tendencies. 

I have already mentioned the tendency to equality, 
and the sentiment of sociability so obvious in the 
Russian people. These traits are especially marked 
in the Great Russians, but they are very evident 
also in the other Russian races. To a Russian, the 
profound respect of the English working-man for 
the gentleman is an almost incomprehensible senti- 
ment. At the time of Polish independence, when 
the Polish Government gave some of the Cossacks 
titles of nobility, these new members of the privi- 
leged classes exchanged smiles, asking one another — 
" Brother, is my shadow something longer now ? " 

Even serfdom could not destroy the sentiment 
of democratic equality among the people. Of course 
this time of trial, which pressed especially upon the 
Great Russian peasant, could not be without in- 
fluence on his character. But, despite all this, the 
peasant has not turned slave. Slavery existed in 
ancient Russia, and was replaced by serfdom. 

Notwithstanding the slavery tendencies of the 
nobility, notwithstanding the encouragement the 
Government has given to those tendencies, our 


serfdom has never been able to become slavery pure 
and simple. 

The pomiechtchik (gentleman owning- serfs) has 
never had the power of life and death over his 
dependant ; by the terms of the law, a cruel master 
was himself subject to the jurisdiction of the ad- 
ministration. The serfs had rights of property, and 
could formerly own serfs in their turn. The law 
recognised that if the peasants' master could not OC km 
provide them with four and a half desiatinas of-U\&c^ 
land each, they had the right to ask the Govern- GiCcc 
ment to enrol them as state peasants. 1 Truly, at the 
same time the peasants had n o right to bring any 
complaint or objection against their lord. — r\ (X~ I 

Thus our serfdom to its very end was rather a 
colossal abuse of the nobility and Government than 
a well-established social order. 

This was precisely the point of view of the pea- 
sants themselves. They were always convinced 
that serfdom was a transitory institution. The 
peasants obeyed the nobles, not as " lords," but as 
" lords of the tsar," himself a representative of the 
people. The popular idea of serfdom was as fol- 
lows. The tsar, needing the services of his 
employes (sloujiloie soslovie), repaid them by pea- 
sant labor. In their opinion the tsar had an equal 
right to make a peasant a noble, or a noble a serf, 
for the common weal. At the same time the people 

1 This law was never repealed ; it was simply omitted in the 
second edition of the Svod Zakonov (civil code). Abuses of this 
kind are not infrequent in Russian legislation. They are called 
"changing a law in a codificative way." It would be more 
correct to say "in a proof-corrector's way." 

VOL. I. I 


obstinately went on believing that the lands of the 
nobility belong to those who work on them. 1 In a 
word, the spirit of the people was not cowed. It 
has never recognised the legality of the principle of 
slavery maintained by the tsars and by the nobility. 
None the less it yielded to the cruel despotism of 
its masters. 

Herein was a source of corruption. The senti- 
ment of liberty became yet more dulled ; the feel- 
ing of human dignity yet less acute. The peasant, 
growing weaker under the yoke of eternal toil, had 
no chance of mental development. On the other 
hand, the very yoke of their common slavery gave 
the peasants new reasons for closing up their ranks, 
attached them to their mir by a closer tie. For 
the mir was the only institution in which they found 
they were men, in which their rights were recognised, 
in which they found moral and material support, and 
even some protection against the despotism of their 
masters. The history of serfdom reveals to us 
miracles of self-abnegation on the part of the pea- 
sants for the sake of the mir. " To suffer for the 
mir' n — the expression became classic — was a formula 
of martyrdom and of heroism. Thus it came to 
pass that the Russian peasant emerged from serfdom 
with the same qualities of character as those with 
which he had entered into it, but with those quali- 
ties more marked. 

1 In conformity with this, the impostor Pugachev — who pre- 
tended to be the Emperor Peter III. — declared that as soon as 
he had reconquered the throne of his ancestors, he would restore 
all the estates to the peasants, and would from that time forward 
recompense the nobles by appointments. 


What the mir is. — Russian villages : the izba, the dror. — The 
osmak. — Organization of labor. — Administration of the mir. 
— The Assemblies. — Woman's rights. — Administrative con- 
trol. — Division of the soil. — Communal labor. — Why the 
sharing of land came to an end. — Its renewal. 

What then is the peasant mir ? 

The mir is a commune, whose bond is unity of 
autonomy and of possession of land. 

Sometimes the mir is a single village. In this case 
the economic administration adapts itself exactly to 
the civil. Again, it may happen that a large village 
is divided into many rural communes. Then each 
commune has its special economic administration, 
whilst the civil and police administration is common 
to all. Sometimes, lastly, a number of villages only 
have one mir. Thus the size of the mir may vary 
from twenty or thirty to some thousands of dvoi's. 

A Russian village is not very beautiful. One 
of average dimensions is generally bisected by a 
long street. 1 This is as wide as a Parisian boulevard, 
but is not paved. Furrowed in all directions by the 
flow from the melted snow, it is hollowed out into 

1 I am taking as a type the Great Russian village. 


countless mud-puddles, and in places overgrown by 
grass. Here and there along the street are wooden 
houses, covered with thatch. In the provinces of 
the north, where there are many forests, these izbas 
are sometimes of great size ; they have a ground 
and a first floor. 

In the southern provinces, the Ukrainian khata is 
made as a rule of interwoven branches, plastered 
over with potter's clay, and whitened with chalk. 
Sometimes the khata is of wood. The Ukrainian 
village is always very fair to see. The khatas are 
pretty, clean, shining with chalk, with gardens and 
festoons of Mowers. But a Great Russian village 
has no colours. The beams of the izbas are sombre, 
the straw of the roof black ; no trees, no flowers. 
The village is dirty ; it is all smoky, and this the 
more in that sometimes even now are found what 
are called kournaias izbas, i.e. izbas without chim- 
neys, and warmed in the most primitive fashion. 
The wood is kindled in a stove without a chimney, 
so that all warmth and smoke remain within it. 
When the room is thoroughly warm, the door is 
opened to let out the smoke. It will be easily 
understood that, with such a system of heating, all 
the walls very soon become black as a chimney. 

The fronts of the izbas give upon the street. 
Behind each of them is a large court, with offices ; 
it is a heap of straw and wood. Often sucking-pigs 
and calves live in the izbas side by side with men. 
Behind the courts are kitchen-gardens and small 
fields of hemp. If the village is of sufficient size, 
there are several streets (three or four), that radiate 
from a central square, in which is, as a rule, a church. 


The large Little Russian village is much less 
uniform. Like a French village, it has a labyrinth 
of streets and lanes. Here already the difference in 
the economic system shows itself. With the Great 
Russians the mir regulates even the ground that 
the houses stand on ; the mir has the right to shift 
about the dvors, and always does this on a definite 
plan. Among the Little Russians the khatas are 
heaped up and piled together in picturesque dis- 
order, according to the time-honoured chances of 
inheritance, of purchase, or of sale. 

The Great Russian village, if it is not very beau- 
tiful, is full of life. Men there are not tied together 
mechanically, because they happen to be living in 
the same place on a map. They are bound by a 
thousand relations, a thousand pledges, a thousand 
common interests. They are linked together by 
community of property. 1 

Besides land, the communes have property of 
another kind : fish-lakes, communal mills, a com- 
munal herd for the improvement of oxen and horses ; 
finally, store-houses, intended for the distribution to 
the peasants of seeds for their fields or food for 
their families. The enjoyment of all these various 
things must be distributed among the members of 
the commune, must be distributed regularly, equally, 
equitably. Thus, a fair distribution to-day will not 
be fair five or six years hence, because in some 
families the number of members will have increased, 
in others diminished. A new distribution, there- 

1 The Great Russian peasants hold at times pieces ofland as 
private property, besides the communal lands. But this personal 
property is insignificant. 


fore, will be necessary to make the shares equal. 
For a long time this equalization can be brought 
about by partial sharings-up, by exchange of lots 
of ground between the private persons concerned, 
without upsetting everybody by a general re-dis- 
tribution. The members of the osmaks especially 
exchange plots of land one with another. 

As yet the reader does not know what an osmak is. 

The Russian mir is not an elementary unit. It is 
made up of several primordial cells — of small circles 
that form in perfect freedom. The mir only asks 
that these circles {osmaks) are equal as to labor- 
power. 1 This condition fulfilled, I am free to 
choose my companions in accordance with my 
friendships or my interests. When the village 
has any work to do, any property to distribute, 
the administration or the assembly of the commune 
generally does not concern itself with individuals, 
but with the osmak. Suppose there are three 
osmaks in a village, and six men are to be sent to 
mend the roads. The mayor of the mir (selskl 
starosta) tells the osmaks they have to send two 
men each. But these two men each osmak has to 
choose from among its members. For example, it 
may be that I give up the whole of my year to 
these compulsory labors, whilst my companions 
in the osmak repay me by their labor on my wheat- 
fields, or even reimburse me for my time by actual 
money. This all depends on our private and mutual 
arrangements ; the administration or the communal 

1 These small circles have different names in different provinces. 
I use the Muscovite name. It is, of course, understood that 
analogous divisions do not exist in the small communes. 


assembly has nothing to do with it. In sharing 
out the land, the communal assembly 1 tries there- 
fore to distribute it equally amongst the os?naks ; 
then the members of each osmak share among them 
their common portion, and make out of it small lots 
for each family. 

This organization gives an almost military order 
and discipline to all the mirs acts ; at the same time 
it guarantees very thoroughly the independence of 
each family. 

Each village has an administration ; it is repre- 
sented by a mayor {selsk'i starosta), chosen by the 
mir? But this administration has to do only with 
affairs determined upon in principle by the com- 
munal assembly. The starosta has no right of 
initiating any measures of importance. Such ques- 
tions (partition of the land, new taxes, leases of 
communal property, etc.) are only adjudicated and 
decided by the assembly of the mtr. 

All the peasants living in the village come to the 
assembly, even the women. If, for example, the 
wife, by the death of her husband, is the head of 
the family, at the assembly she has the right to 
vote. The peasants give to women much more 
rights than the state law grants them. Thus it 
may come to pass that a woman may be the mayor 

1 Skho<l. 

2 A certain number of village communes form a volosi (circle), 
at the head of whose administration is the volostnoi starchina 
(chief of the volost), chosen by the assembly of the volost. 
Further, there are judges of the peasants chosen in the same 
way. Thus, theoretically, the autonomy of the peasants is very 
complete; but practically this autonomy is literally crushed out 
under the weight of the imperial police and administration. 


of the mir — which in the eye of the law is sheer 
nonsense. At times the whole village assembly 
consists of women only, and this assembly deter- 
mines the general division of the land. 1 This 
happens if the fathers of families think it more 
remunerative to go outside their village to work, 
and leave the working in the fields to the younger 
members of their families and to laborers. Upon 
other points, the rights of the peasant women are 
not well defined. The peasant idea is, that if the 
woman is independent — that is, not under sub- 
mission to a father or husband — she has the same 
rights as men. The state law, on the contrary, 
accords almost as few women's rights as the other 
European legislatures. Hence it follows that the 
rights of the village women are vague, indefinite. 
At the present time they are " rebelling," as the 
peasants have it ; they are revolting against the 
despotism of the husband. Everywhere they are 
beginning to make the fruits of their labor (spin- 
ning, and so forth) their own personal property. 
Often, again, the women demand plots of land 
for themselves ; sometimes they get them. In 
some places the communal assemblies, distributing 
the land, take into account the girls as well as the 
boys. 2 It is not uninteresting to notice that celi- 
bacy, with a view to keeping their independence, is 
common among the peasant women. 

Let us turn again to the assembly of the mir. 

The peasants meet very frequently ; sometimes 

1 Orlov : " Forms of Peasant Tenure of the Soil in the Govern- 
ment of Moscow," p. 35. 

2 M. Kharizomenov, in the Russian Gazette, 1884, No. 119 


to decide certain business, sometimes for the con- 
trolling of the expenses of the administration, and 
so forth. Very often the assemblies are convened, 
not to decide some question, but to discuss its prin- 
ciple. Thus, the question of the general partition 
of the land is sometimes discussed for two or three 
years before it is definitely decided. The aim of 
these frequent meetings is to get a decision as unan- 
imous as possible. The peasants do not care for 
deciding by a majority ; they always try to find an 
arrangement satisfactory to every one. 

The assemblies are very lively. Order is at 
times wanting ; liberty never, unless the natchalstvo 
(state administration) intervenes. The peasant 
assembly is courageous, independent ; even the 
natchalstvo loses for it something of its terrorist 
prestige. Alone, the peasant trembles before a 
servant of the crown ; surrounded by his mir, he 
becomes obstinate. To influence the decisions of 
the mir assemblies, the administration must have 
recourse to measures of extreme violence. It is 
true the administration does not make many bones 
about employing these, and stops at nothing. I 
have myself seen a stanovo'i (the chief of the police 
of the canton), in order to prevent the peasants from 
electing one of his enemies, arrest him just before 
the assembly, and keep him in prison until after the 
election. Still more frequently the administration 
has recourse to mere subterfuges. It convokes the 
assembly unexpectedly, and so manages that the 
leaders of the opposition have no notice in time. 
In return, the peasants systematically refuse obedi- 
ence to the orders of chiefs chosen as the result of 


these illegal frauds. As a rule, the mir is always 
oppressed and robbed ; but it does not yield, and it 
contends bravely against all abuses. 

Here is a scene of revision of expenses taken 
from life. 

The assembly is making up its accounts ; those 
of the starosta are to be discussed. 

A dense crowd fills the hugfe chamber of the 
selskoit pravlenid (management of the commune). 
The smell of touloups (pelisses of badly- tanned 
sheepskin), of great tarred boots, the breath from 
hundreds of lungs, make the air heavy and stifling. 

Close to a wall is a table at which sit the schetchiki 
(auditors), chosen by the assembly. One of them is 
reading out a list of expenditure. The starosta 
stands by him, following the reading attentively. 
Paragraph follows after paragraph, giving rise to 
a ceaseless flow of comments. At last a note is 
reached that refers to the burial of a soldier at 
the expense of the commune. 

"The drawers of the soldier, seventy- five kopecks; 
his shirt, one ruble twenty-five kopecks," reads out 
the monotonous voice of the auditor. 

11 That's too much ! That's too dear ! " calls out 
some one in the crowd. 

" No ; it's not much," answers the starosta, whose 
accounts are being verified. 

" You're a liar ! " his neighbour roars. " Why, 
on fete days we don't wear clothes as dear as this. 
You're not going to dress a dead soldier like that. 
His drawers can't be more than thirty kopecks, and 
the shirt's worth seventy." 

" I see you like cheap things," chimes in the 


" But if that's the right price Here, gossip," 

the peasant goes on, speaking to a woman in the 
crowd, " what's the price of a pair of drawers and 
a shirt ? " 

The reduction of the proposed figures is decided 
upon, and forty kopecks are accepted for the drawers, 
eighty- five for the shirt. 

" To the priests, for the funeral service, three 
rubles," the auditor goes on. 

" Don't pass that ! don't pass that ! " cries a 

" Why not ? " says he, surprised. 

"He ought to have been buried for nothing ; he 
was a stranger from no one knows where." 

" It's no use talking nonsense," remarks one of 
the people. " The priests will never consent to 
bury any one for nothing." 

" All the same," observes another, " three rubles 
are too much." 

14 When you die," says one of the enemies of the 
starosta, taking him to task, "or when you have to 
bury your wife, you can pay three rubles for ob- 
sequies. But with the mirs money — well, why not 
give ten rubles ? All the more honour perhaps." 

The starosta says nothing. The amount is passed, 
nevertheless, "because," says the auditor, "the thing 
is obvious." 1 

Criticism is severe, opposition exacting. But the 
assembly does not allow itself to be dragged into 
personal quarrels. Above all, it is guided by a 
strict sense of justice. 

1 Or!ov : " On the Modes of Land-tenure by ihe Peasants in the 
Government of Moscow." 


The sharing of the land is without doubt the 
thing that most excites the passions of the peasants. 
Private discussions on any new subdivision generally 
last a very long time. When the malcontents have 
prepared the soil sufficiently, the matter is referred 
to the official assembly. Hence the debates are 
very lengthy, very stormy. Those in whose hands 
many plots of ground have accumulated of course 
try to prevent any new sharing-up. Sometimes the 
assemblies cannot come to a conclusion within two 
or three years, for the peasants only resolve upon 
such an economic perturbation in the face of an 
absolute necessity. This the more as the law re- 
quires the consent of two-thirds of the owners to a 
general re-division. But it must be noted as a 
characteristic point, that in spite of this law the 
assembly decrees a new partition even in cases 
where it is claimed by a much smaller number of 
owners. Now the assembly will yield to a very 
small minority, now to any minority. At the time, 
e.g., of the latest partitions (1882- 1883) we meet 
with the following cases. In the village of Iaro- 
slavka re-partition is voted for 272 dvors, not for 
227; in the village of Makarovka it is voted by 
64 families, voted against by 71 ; in Ouglianka, it 
is voted by only 46 families, opposed by 51. 1 
None the less, in all these villages the partition was 
carried out. In these cases the majority wisely 
sacrifices its own interests to justice. These ex- 
amples will show the reader the place held by the 
idea of the right of each to the land in the mind of 

1 See the Statistical Reports of the Zemstvos (Kozlov, pp. 18, 19. 
Voronej, p. 72). The few examples I take are not solitary rases. 


the peasants. But the law, as well as the necessity 
of conciliating as many interests as possible, protracts 
the decision in favour of a new sharing-up. At 
last, those in favour of this get the upper hand, and 
the village is moved by the most unusual sentiments. 
The mir becomes grave, preoccupied, solemn. It 
turns to its work as if it were engaged in the cele- 
bration of divine worship. 

The land has to be divided with absolute fairness 
into equal parts. To attain this end, all the fields 
are grouped, according to their quality, into three 
tarousses} In the first is placed the land of the 
best quality ; in the second, that of average quality ; 
in the third, the worst. Then each iarousse is 
divided according to the number of osmaks, so that 
each osinak receives a share of land of each of the 
three qualities ; 2 then the members of the osmak 
share among them, with the same accuracy, the land 
received by the osmak. If it is impossible to equalize 
the quality of the land, the mir tries to compensate 
quality by quantity. Further, it is compulsory that 
the mir recompenses the owner for improvements 
made by him on the land that is taken away from 
him. In many places the mir, not to discourage 
good owners, makes manuring compulsory and fines 
those who neglect their plot. 3 The partition is made 
by persons specially chosen for this work, and is 
subject to the control of the mir. The peasants 

1 Muscovite name ; it varies in different provinces. 

2 To avoid the possibility of unfairness, the plots are drawn 
by lot. 

3 I touch but lightly on this question ; but a whole volume 
might be written on the means invented by the peasants to bring 
about an equitable division and to protect each one's interest 


never run the risk of trusting- this business to a 
land-surveyor. They divide up their lands them- 
selves very cleverly. In a small village, the whole 
affair only lasts a few hours. 

The work of the mir is done as rapidly as regularly. 

For example, here is a picture of mowing-time 
in the commune of Ostrov (Moscow Province). 
This commune is composed of ten villages, in all 
2,684 men, who own in common the meadows on 
the banks of the Moskova. On the eve of the 
mowing six measurers, one for each village, come 
to the fields and divide them into kholsts (divisions 
analogous to the iarousses) according to the quality 
of the grass. Each kholst is divided into sections 
ideliankas) according to the number o{ osmaks. At the 
same time, each osmak in the villages chooses in 
private meeting ten mowers. At 2 a.m. these small 
gangs of ten come together from all sides upon the 
scene of action ; those that are late pay a fine. As 
the fields have been already measured out beforehand, 
and the station of each gang determined the night 
before, in half an hour the whole crowd has settled 
down to work. The osmaks come, one after the 
other, out of the ranks, take their appointed place, 
and thus all the mass of mowers spreads over the 
immense area of the fields. By 3 o'clock all are 
working their scythes as one man. The ten mowers 
of each osmak work together, and each gang takes 
care not to be behind the others. By 8 a.m. every- 
thing is done. The mowers, scythe on shoulder, 
go off home singing, feed, and go to rest. Gangs of 
women and young people coming from the osmaks 
take their place in the fields and gather together 


the hay. After these come the peasants from the 
villages with their carts. About 2 o'clock the 
around is covered with little ricks, that are divided 
by lot among the members of the osmak, and the 
carts carry off the hay to the villages. 1 By 8 o'clock 
at night there is not a handful of hay in the fields. 2 

As a rule, the communes work their land in the 
following way. 3 

Pasture-lands are generally held in common, and 

Forests, if of little importance, are also held in 
common. If they are worth anything, they are 
often forbidden to be touched for ten or twenty 
years, and then are shared out like the mowing. Or 
else the felling of the trees is done in common by 
the whole of the village, and the felled wood is 
shared amonsf the members of the mir. But, after 
all, the peasants own scarcely any forests. These 
are, for the most part, in the hands of the pomiecht- 
chiks (lords). 

It very rarely happens that the re-partition of the 
fields occurs each year. The peasants know too 
well how necessary it is to allow each cultivator time 
to profit by all the improvements he makes. Thus, 

1 The inhabitants of each village dry the hay at home. 

2 The reader must not, however, think that the Russian peasants 
only busy themselves with the sharing of their fields. This is a 
fable spread abroad by the opponents of communal holding of the 
soil, by those lords who have had the ingenious notion of cir- 
culating, at the same time, quite contradictory reports. They said 
that the peasants themselves were beginning to grow tired of com. 
munal tenure, and were giving up the sharing of the land among 
them. In point of fact these two statements are equally untrue. 

3 I describe the general plan, without pausing on certain varia- 
tions and exceptions. 


e.g., in Moscow Province, the average time 
between the sharings-up is more than thirteen years; 1 
in Riazan Province, ten to fifteen years, 2 
and in that of Tambov, ten to twelve years. 3 It 
must be added, however, that since 1861 [i.e., since 
the emancipation of the serfs) the partitions have 
for a long time ceased in a great part of Russia. 
This fact was hailed with joy by the opponents of 
the mir. The course of events, however, soon got 
rid of their illusion. 

The peasants, among whom, to say truth, inequality 
in the division of the land had reached a high pitch, 
did not make any compensating re-partitions because 
they were waiting for the revisia (the census). The 
distribution of taxes depends on the revisia ; and the 
peasants thought it only fair to make the re-division 
of their land to some extent dependent on the dis- 
tribution of the taxes. Besides, among the peasants 
there is a conviction that the unjust re-partition of 
the land made in 1861 4 will, at the time of the first 
revisia, be corrected to the average of the general 
sharing of land over the whole empire. But it is 
these very hopes, and the fear of the troubles to 
which they would give rise, that force the Govern- 
ment to put off the census from year to year. 5 

1 Statistical Report of the Zerastvo of Moscow, vol. iv., book i. 
(a conclusion based on observation of 9,427 cases of new partition). 

2 Statistics of the Zemstvo of Riazan Province. 

3 Statistics of the Zemstvo of Tambov Province. 

4 At the time of the abolition of serfdom (1861) the peasant 
serfsof the pomiechlchiks received 2 2,000,000 de'ciatines; 82,000,000 
remain in the hands of their lords. (Military Statistical Report, 
p. 203.) 

5 The last census was in 1858. 

The social classes in Russia. i 29 

The patience of the people has at last become 
exhausted, and in 1879 they began in many places 
a series of sharings-up which have gone on steadily 
increasing up to this present year. 1 The tendency 
to allot the land equally is growing even in the 
villages where, until recently, private property ruled ; 
it is emigratinor from Great Russia to the heart of 
the Ukraine. Thus the mir is proving its vitality 
once again, and at the very moment when its foes 
were making ready to see it decently buried. 

1 See Appendix E. 

vol. 1. 


The clan. — Early agriculture and markets. — Individual property. 
— The volost. — Who were the landowners? — The family 
commune. — The fractional commune. — Origin of the viir. — 
The chetvertniks — Illustrations. — The commune of the mir. 
— Mobility of the population.— Development of self-govern- 
ment. — Illustrations. — Influence of foreign elements. — The 
average of the commune family and of the individual family. 
— Influence of the Government. — Demands of the peasants. 
— Summary. 

Most of my readers are doubtless somewhat aston- 
ished to find the agrarian commune so largely in 
vogue in Russia. The student not unnaturally 
expects to hear of its decay, in conformity with so 
many like cases in history, in conformity with so 
many theoretical considerations. As my work is 
essentially descriptive, it is impossible to enter upon 
theoretical discussions. But it will not be out of 
place to note here certain facts that will throw light 
upon the development of the Russian commune. 

Many points in its history are not yet cleared up. 
Thinkers of equal ability, even at the present time, 
take upon this subject most different positions. But 
these differences and difficulties need not concern 
us much, if we deal only with facts, without anxiety 
to reconcile them with any particular theory. 

Generally the clan (the gens) is regarded as the 

i 3 o 


starting-point in the development of the agrarian 
commune. In the history of Russia certain traces 
of clan life are noticeable. Nevertheless, the exist- 
ence of the commune of the clan, in more or less 
distinct form, is by no means positively proved as 
far as concerns kistoi'ic Russia, even for epochs the 
most remote. 1 Sokolovskii, the most notable re- 
presentative of the clan theory in Russia, is him- 
self compelled to admit that it is necessary on his 
theory to have recourse to analogies in the history 
of other peoples ; " for it cannot be believed that the 
Russian people does not, as regards its mode of hold- 
ing and working the land, come under the general 

1 "8 

Without challenging the accuracy of this state- 
ment in general, let me nevertheless contend that 
historical analogy cannot always make up for de- 
ficiency of facts ; and the facts do not show us that 
the commune of the clan did exist in ancient Russia. 
What is the explanation of this ? In all probability 
the explanation is, that history begins at a time 
when the clan riginu had already passed away. 
The clan regime, founded at the epoch of hunting 
and fishing, is always in a very difficult position 
when agricultural life begins. Now in Russia we 
find agricultural labor at the most distant time ; 
even as early as a.d. 946 our records make direct 

1 The word " rodovo'i," so often used by our historical writers, 
has two meanings ; it signifies the life of the clan, and also the 
patriarchal life. But the tribal forms described under the name 
" rodovo'i" always refer to the patriarchal life. 

2 Sokolovskii : " Economic Life of the Agricultural Population 
of Russia," pp. 82-123. 


references to a considerably developed agriculture 
amongst the most savage Slav- Russian tribes — 
drevlianie. The documents of the eleventh, and 
even of the tenth, century show that almost all the 
plants were then under cultivation that are now : 
oats, wheat, millet, barley, rye, peas, lentils, flax. 
Moreover, on a smaller scale, there was cultivation 
of garden plants — especially cabbage and turnips 
— which to-day are the chief vegetables at the table 
of our peasants. 1 Even gardens and orchards were 
planted. From this it is clear that the Slav- Russians 
had evolved as far as the stage of agriculture long 
before the tenth century. This state of affairs 
would react powerfully upon the clan, and so much 
the more as from the nature of the implements of 
labor at that time agriculture had already taken 
on the character of small farming. 

Moreover, at the time which immediately precedes 
the advent of historic Russia, the Russian territory 
was the busiest of markets for Arabs, Greeks, Nor- 
mans, and so forth. This gave rise to a powerful 
commercial class ; even the advent of the State in 
Russia, and the political union of the Slav tribes, 
followed upon the creation of this class. 2 

In any case, individual property certainly existed 
in Russia at this epoch. " Russian Truth " — 
" Kousskaia Pravda" — the oldest of legislative 
documents, a mere summary of the rights-by-custom 
of that time, speaks of the division of estates 
amongst brothers. At the same time we see already 
in existence considerable inequality of wealth. In 

1 Aristov : " Ancient Russian Industry," pp. 48-68. 

2 See Klioutchevskii : " The Boyards' Council." 


the year 1080, at Novgorod, a percentage tax was 
levied to meet the expenses of a war. The boyards 
paid 135 times as much as the ordinary citizens. 1 
The difference of the wealth possessed by the two 
classes must have been, to say the least, in the same 

All such facts as these are quite out of harmony 
with the equality and primitive collectivism of a clan. 

The agrarian regulations and the manner of hold- 
ing land are not quite clear. Some Russian scholars 
hold with Sokolovskii that the volost was merely a 
remnant of the commune of the clan, and suppose 
that the volost had certain agrarian rights over 
the states held by its members. But this assertion 
is by no means supported by evidence. On the 
contrary, we find that the " Russian Truth " men- 
tions very heavy fines as levied upon those who 
remove the landmarks between the fields belonging 
to particular citizens. Further, we find that the 
princes, the boyards, the monasteries, and even the 
traders, had their own land, tilled by slaves, by paid 
laborers, or by farmers to whom they were let — - 
polovniks. In " Russian Truth " are paragraphs that 
settle the relations between the landowners and 
the polovniks, settle also the wages of the agricul- 
tural laborers. It is incontestably proved that a 
number of peasants held the position of polovniks 
on the estates of the large landowners. But the law 
did not prevent peasants from holding land them- 
selves. There was even a class of peasants, called 
svoieze?ntsi, holding their own land, and writers like 

1 Bieliaiev : " Russian Peasants," p. 40. 


Bieliaiev, Aristov, and others, agree that in ancient 
Russia private property in land existed for the 
peasants as well as the agrarian commune. This 
last, it must be remembered, only existed by 
hypothesis. There is no positive proof of its 

After all this, how are we to solve the question 
whether individual property in land did or did not 
exist at that time ? All are agreed that those who 
owned land could will it away, let it, and even sell 
it. 1 Were the rich people who let their estates to 
farmers actual owners ? Some, e.g. Sokolovskii, say 
that the land was not a property but a posses- 
sion. This may be true. But at this epoch the 
juridical sense of the people was not fine enough to 
distinguish between the idea of possession and that 
of property. 2 In this sense landed property did not 
exist, either as individual or collective property. 
But this is a matter of no importance. 

Suppose we admit that the boyards were not 
landed proprietors ; who, then, was the owner 
of their land ? The nation ? The prince ? The 
volost ? Supposing that this point is settled, in 
what way did the owners exercise their rights ? 

Such exercise of rights did not exist. No one 
knows anything about them. No one has brought 
forward any proof of them, as far as the first cen- 
turies of Russian history are concerned. Tribes as 

1 Again and again the phrase occurs, "I sell the land for ever, 
without the right of re-purchase." For the traditions of the clan 
found their echo in the right of the family to buy back the land 
that had been sold. 

2 See Sergeevich : "Studies in Russian Law," p. 514. 


yet so little removed from a primitive collectivism, so 
little prepared to understand the right of individual 
possession, would easily understand the supreme 
right of the nation, and of the nation's repre- 
sentative, the prince. But where was the Russian 
nation during these centuries ? It did not exist; it 
was at most only just coming into existence. 

The powers and duties of princes also were too 
vague, too accidental, for them to give a prince a 
distinctive character as representative of the country. 
As to the volost, no documents earlier than the 
fifteenth century say anything about its rights to 
interfere with the landed property of the dwellers 
upon its territory. Rights of this sort only appear 
later. So that, even admitting that the volost has 
inherited from the pre-historic clan some idea of its 
own supreme right over the territories occupied by 
its inhabitants, it is evident that the idea was very 
vague, and led to no practical result. It did not 
prevent some persons from occupying large estates, 
whilst others had not a square foot of land. To 
sum up : all these individuals were not landed pro- 
prietors in the strict sense of the phrase, but they 
possessed the land as far as land was possessable at 
that time ; their rights in respect to it were as great 
as those of a commune or of a prince. This was 
landed property as far as landed property could 
exist at that time. 

If this qualification is once made, the author of a 
recent study of Russian ownership of land was 
accurate in saying : " Individual landed property 
appears among the Russians very early ; its origin 
is antecedent to that of the veritable commune. 


This last attains its full development in the 17th 
and 1 8th centuries, whilst the existence of individual 
ownership is established by direct evidence as 
existing since the 1 2th century." * 

All this does not mean that at that time collective 
ownership did not exist in Russia. It did exist, but 
under another form. This form was that which was 
called the family commune, analogue of the Servian 
Zadrouga, and still to be met with occasionally in 

"At the beginning of actual history," says 
Madame Efimenko, " in the north of Russia, the 
domination of the Zadroug-a is evident in the organi- 
zation of the family, as well as in that of landed 
proprietorship." 2 

What is this family commune ? What is the 
difference between it and the clan ? In the first 
place, it is a patriarchal and not a matriarchal 
institution. This marks off the two types clearly 
one from another. Further, the clan is an insti- 
tution covering socially a much wider area. The 
clan is a society ; under all its special forms it has, 
blended with its indefinite yet harmonious ensemble, 
all those rights which, after they have been dis- 
sected and defined, appear in our modern society 
as political, personal, family rights. The family 
commune is not a society ; it is the primary cell, out 
of which the organization of society is built. 

The family commune comprised many members 
— from thirty to sixty. They were related one to 

1 Blumenfeld, pp. 97, 98. 

2 Madame Efimenko : " Studies of the Life of the People," 

P- 36S- 


another, either by blood or by affiliation. They 
lived together, worked together, and ate together. 
The family was under the direction of a patriarch, 
generally the oldest member, but sometimes elected. 
Possibly the election was a modern innovation, un- 
known in the old communes. 

In fine, this family was not very different from 
one of the present day. But there were points of 
difference of some importance, amongst which one 
must be noticed. The property of the family did 
not belong to the patriarch ; it was collective/ and 
belonged equally to all members of the family. 

" I affirm," says Madame Efimenko, " that there 
is in the north of Russia only one unit of agrarian 
organization, the petchichtchd — the individual pro- 
perty of a patriarchal family (rodovoi)." The fields, 
meadows, hunting-paths, fisheries, forests, even the 
wild bees — everything that was started and worked 
by the collective labor of the family commune — 
were its property. The small villages, like solitary 
islands, were scattered over the immense oceans of 
forests and marshes that were owned by nobody, 
that any one who would took as his by the jus 
pnmo occupandi, and that their possessor made the 
most of, according to his own liking and his own 
capacity. As to the volosts, these were adminis- 
trative bodies, and had no economic or territorial 

This, then, is the economic organization that has 
been clearly shown by Madame Efimenko to have 
obtained in the north of Russia, and which probably 
existed in other districts after the close of the epoch 
of the clan, i.e., at the dawn of Russian history. 



In point of fact, what else could have arisen at 
such a time ? As soon as agricultural labor had 
made its appearance, as soon as the Russian 
territory was traversed by two great commercial 
routes — from the Caucasus to the Upper Volga, 
from the Baltic to the Black Sea — the clan was 
doomed. A new unit arose in human labor — the 
family. Land that could be tilled, only occurred 
in small areas, surrounded by forests and marshes. 
Those who tilled it found themselves isolated, cut 
off from the rest of the clan ; they no longer needed 
it, they were independent of it. The implements 
of labor, all of the most primitive description, no 
longer required any considerable economic organi- 
zation. The clan lost all raison d'etre. On the 
Other hand, each little group of workers in its 
isolated fields needed in its internal organization a 
strong power, independent of, free from the control 
of, the clan. Hence the latter broke up into small 
family units, admirably adapted to the new conditions 
of labor. 

At this time of difficulty for the clan, there rose 
among the Slav tribes a State. This struck the 
death-blow of the clan, so much the more completely 
as it was not a mere confederation of the clans ; it 
was the creation of a quite new and revolutionary 
force, of the commercial and industrial class. This 
State grew up, not upon the territory of the clans, 
but along the great commercial highways traversing 
Russia. In conformity with this fact, the State had 
a Pan- Russian character, and evolved in part from 
elements common to Greece, to Sweden, to the 
peoples of a thousand nationalities, whilst it was in 


alliance with a cosmopolitan Christianity. This new 
factor in history assailed the clan from above at the 
same time as the family decomposed it from below. 

Of course the clan, even as it dies out, always 
leaves its mark upon the succeeding social order. 
At the same time the mark is not very deep, for 
the period of the dying-out of the clan is one of a 
yet more radical change, one that has modified 
methods of living far more deeply than any historical 
revolution. Out of this vast change Russia, we 
must believe, came into being. The period ante- 
cedent to it only yields us indeterminable, undis- 
tinguishable, uncertain fragments. 

With an apology to my readers for having sup- 
plied out of my own imagination certain facts that 
appeared to be wanting, I return to the family 
commune. If we suppose that the change referred 
to above had begun in exceedingly remote times, 
then the existence of the family commune gives us 
at once the explanation of the many traces of in- 
dividual property in our ancient documents. For 
the normal evolution of the family commune removes 
all difficulty as to the advent of individual property. 

The family commune exists as long as the material 
conditions permit of its carrying out collective 
labor, i.e., as long as it does not grow too large. 
As the population of the commune increases, small 
colonies are formed from it. Every one of these 
new colonies leads an almost isolated economic life, 
as the mere distances between them render collective 
labor almost an impossibility. Then the decom- 
position of the commune sets in : the families, of 
which it consists, no longer stand in need one of the 


other, and the land that cannot be divided up very 
often becomes a source of discontent and quarrels. 
In order to reduce their agrarian relations to order, 
the families decide upon separation, and then the 
division of the land takes place. 

Very naturally this division only results in certain 
cases in a new series of family communes that last 
until the next dividing up occurs. But as a rule, 
when once the partition of land does begin, it raises 
many difficulties in the way of a return to the 
ancient condition of things. 

At this period of history man is only to a very 
slight extent the master of nature. It is nature 
rather than labor that creates the product. But 
the natural qualities of the soil are not the same in 
different tracts of land. How, then, is the land to 
be divided ? The difficulty is the greater as the 
distribution ought to be absolutely equal, seeing that 
it is a collective property that is to be shared. 
Until the sharing takes place, the land belongs to 
all alike ; therefore the plots of it now to be held 
by each should be perfectly equal. 

The only way out of this difficulty is not to 
divide up the land into concrete lots, each given to 
a particular owner once for all, but to divide it into 
imaginary, abstract, ideal lots. By this device the 
holding of each person is an ideal fraction of the 
property of the mother commune. To arrive at this 
ideal fraction, the land is parcelled out according to 
its quality, and then each family receives a part of 
each kind of land. But even with this arrange- 
ment absolute equality is not secured ; there are 
many pieces of land, exceptionally good or excep- 


tionally bad, not easy of division, or even, as result 
of such division, losing all their special qualities. 
Land of this kind is held successively, turn and turn 
about, by the members. The consequence of this 
method of division is, that if the quality or quantity 
of the land changes, 1 the land must ao-ain be divided 
up to secure the equality that is desired. 

Here then is the new type of commune that arises 
in consequence of the partition of a family commune. 
It is known in Russia as the fractional commune ; 
its members have divided up their common in- 
heritance, and yet they are in connection one with 
another. This state of things is a distinct obstacle 
in the way of a return to the family commune, pure 
and simple, as the latter necessitates a considerable 
degree of personal independence. 

By this I do not mean that the interdependence 
of the members of the fractional commune is very 
marked. On the contrary, in principle they are the 
owners of their particular fractions ; they inherit 
them, sell them, dispose of them as they will. 2 It is 
true that landed property, as the lots are ideal, flits 
about, so to speak, over all the territory, without 
taking firm root in any particular place. But sup- 
posing that the equal divisions and the changings of 
lots become more and more rare, and are at last 
finally abolished, we have individual property pure 
and simple. This process did take place, and is 

1 A meadow is washed away by a river ; a marsh becomes dry 
land fit for tilling, etc. 

- All this soon gives rise to great inequality in quantity amongst 
the holdings, and then the equalizing their quality becomes of 
little moment, and even useless or absurd. 


taking place now on a large scale. Madame Efi- 
menko has given evidence of it as far as concerns 
the north, and the same thing can be seen occurring 
in other parts of Russia. 

But the fractional commune may take on also 
another form of evolution, that at all events in 
Russia is much less frequent than the one just de- 
scribed. Collective holding, which seems at an end 
when the family commune passes into the fractional, 
reappears in a more marked and more complete 
form in the commune of the mir. Historical docu- 
ments seem to fix the 15th and 16th centuries as 
the date of the commencement of this method of 

That the reader may understand this evolution, 
still very obscure if we depend only on the insignifi- 
cant details of antiquity left us by Time, the de- 
stroyer, I remind him that an analogous process is 
going on even at the present time amongst the 
peasants, known as chetvertniks or odnodvorzi. 

It is a process of deep sociological interest. 

The Russian chetvertniks of to-day, known 
legally as state peasants, are descendants of the 
warriors that were placed by the Muscovite tsars 
as colonists along the frontier lines. They held 
their land on condition that they defended the fron- 
tier ; and they held them as a personal possession, 1 
recognised later on as their individual property. 
Some time after, the law made certain attempts to 
turn all these lands into one collective holding ; but 

1 This is only true of the ancestors of the chetvertniks ; 
there were other soldier-colonists also, who held their land col- 


the peasants looked upon, and do still look upon, 
themselves as individual, personal owners. 

A village of chetvertniks, at the present time, 
is generally inhabited by the descendants of one or 
of two of these soldier-colonists ; thus all the village 
have the same family name. The peasants in it can 
trace out their genealogy quite accurately, and in 
many cases have preserved the charters of the tsars 
that granted these estates to their ancestors. They 
nickname themselves " gentlemen of the wooden 
shoe," and it is beyond doubt that they are allied by 
blood to the noble families of the same provinces. 
For a long time they retained the right of owning 
serfs, and they were at no time serfs themselves. 

The terms of land-tenure amongst them are very 
curious. They belong to the fractional family 
period. The peasants hold the land as private, 
personal owners ; but the lot of each of them 
represents an ideal fraction of the whole of the 
territory that formerly belonged to the common 
ancestor. This is the manner in which each man's 
lot is determined : the whole of the territory be- 
longing to the village is divided, according to the 
number of the ancestors (the technical word that is 
actually used), into the portions that these ancestors 
once on a time held ; next, each of these portions 
is divided into equal parts, according to the num- 
ber of the families descended from each ancestor ; 
finally, each family lot is divided by the number of 

Let us imagine a village with twenty heads of 
households and two hundred hectares of land. Let 
us suppose this village to trace back its origin to 


two ancestors, each possessing primarily the same 
amount of land. One of them has had one son, the 
other three. Next, suppose that from one of these 
sons five new families are descended, from another 
three families, from the third four, from the fourth 
eight. Then the land will be divided as follows : — 

Five heads of families have 20 hectares each. 
1 nree ,, ,, ,, 1 1- ,, ,, 

Four „ „ „ S l - 

Eight „ „ „ 41 

In this very unequal re-division the peasants go 
over again, in retrospect as it were, the historical 
process according to which the land was divided up 
and parcelled out. In reality this inequality is yet 
more marked than in our example ; for each pos- 
sessor can alienate his lot in whole or in part, and 
from that moment it is lost to his descendants. 1 
There is still another method from which a landless 
peasantry may result. Every new comer, even if he 
is admitted as a citizen of the village, is without land 
unless he buys it. On the other hand, any one that 
buys a lot of land becomes, ipso facto, a citizen, and 
is reckoned as a member of the family to whom the 
lot he has bought belonged, although the purchaser 
has no blood relationship to this family. 

This is the method of distribution of fields ; that 
of meadows and forest varies. The most typical 

1 Any one can alienate at his own will the whole lot ; but to 
alienate a part of it he must have the consent of the village. If 
a portion is given as a dowry, it belongs to the wife, and not to 
the husband. After the death of the wife, her children only, 
even if they should be illegitimate, can inherit her land. 


method is the distribution in proportion to the 
amount of arable land each man possesses. 

It must be noted that if the amount of land be- 
lonemsr to a village increases or diminishes, a new 
distribution is made, in order to increase or diminish 
all the lots in the same proportion. If, for example, 
two or three peasants lose their holdings on account 
of a railway taking them, the land of the whole of 
the village is redistributed. 

A village of chetvertniks presents, I repeat, an 
excellent example of the fractional commune, and 
thus gives the explanation of many things in its 
history. When we are discussing past ages, it is 
easy to imagine that what we wish did occur. But 
in this case there is no room for suppositions ; we 
know positively that the Russian village originates 
from the breaking up, not of a clan, but of a patri- 
archal family. Very often we know even such 
details as the first name and surname of the patri- 
arch, the number of his sons, the nature of the 
charters granted him. If ever there were a case 
where sociological analogy is permissible, it is the 
one now under consideration. 

I said above that the evolution of the fractional 
commune leads to two diametrically opposed results : 
(1) in some cases individual property pure and 
simple ; (2) in others the commune of the mir. 

I do not need to multiply examples of the first 
of these two processes. Every one looks upon this 
method as normal — as much more normal, actually, 
than it really is. As to the second method, I shall 
certainly be asked — Are there facts sufficiently well- 
established to show that a fractional commune, in- 

vol. 1. l 


stead of breaking up, may pass over into a higher 
condition of collective holding ? 

The villages of the chetvertniks furnish us with 
many examples of this ; examples that we can see 
with our own eyes. Some of these I now quote. 

The district of Kozlov, in Tambov Province, was formerly occupied by a large number 
of chetvertniks ; most of these are now living 
under the commune of the mir. All the peasants, 
e.g., of the volost Jadilova, were once on a time 
chetvertniks ; now there are only a few isolated 
cultivators of the soil. All the rest have by degrees 
adopted the rdgime of the mir, " by mutual arrange- 
ment between the peasants of the mir and the 
chetvertniks." l It is probable, says the docu- 
ment just quoted, that the metamorphosis was not 
effected without considerable dissensions amongst 
the peasants, for they called the time of its occur- 
rence "the epoch of mutiny." The same method 
of evolution is proved, by the same document, in 
respect to many other villages — Samovirtz. Ouspen- 
skoi'e, Pokrovskoie, Starogaritovo, Douska'ia, etc. 
In the village of Lejaika formerly all the people were 
chetvertniks ; now two-thirds of the population 
constitute a commune of the mir. Vestiges of the 
chetvertnik regime are to be found in many villages 
where now-a-days there is not more than one tchet- 
vertnik. " Popular memory has preserved the fact 
that the cause of the transition from the rigime of 
the chetvertniks to that of the mir, at a time more 
or less remote, was the inconvenience arising from 

1 " Statistical Report of the District of Kozlov," pp. 43 et seq. 


the inheritance of land, owing to which the lots 
became too finely subdivided." l 

The same phenomenon is to be seen in Riazan Province ; the village of Perekhdul, 
e.g. " passed from the rdgime of the chetvertniks at 
about the period of the ninth census (185 1), after 
protracted dissensions and contests." 2 The same 
thing has happened in the village of Teploie. At 
the present moment a movement in the direction of 
the mir is to be noticed in a number of chetvertnik 
villages in the same government. 

In Ranovskii Verkhi, for example, furious discus- 
sions took place on the subject of the equal division 
of land. In the village of Krouodoie " a bitter 
struggle took place in respect to the chetvertnik 
lands ; a large majority of the peasants demanding 
the equal partition of those lands." In the village 
of Jaroslavki there have been already many contests 
on this point. Everywhere it is the dispossessed 
majority who demand the transition to the mir ; the 
minority, in possession of plenty of land, oppose it. 
The same condition of things has been proved as 
far as concerns the villages Storojivaia, Dolgoia, 
Tagodnoie, Molinka, Samodourovka. 3 

A whole series of similar facts has been proved as 
touching the district of Rannenbourg (government 
of Riazan). Long since, the mir has obtained in 
the villages Satine Khoutor, Boukhovoie, Zomo- 
voie, Pikovy Riassy, and Krivopolianie. In Krou- 
toie and Poutiatino it came to pass about 1830 ; in 

1 "Statistical Report of the District of Kozlov," p. 46. 

2 " Statistical Report of the District of Dankov," p. 251. 

3 Ibid., 251 et seq. 


Delihovoie and Topki in 1840; in Znamenskoie 
and in Staroklionskoie in 1852 ; in Poupki and 
Prigorodnoia in 1859; in Melenki, Lapstok, Dou- 
bovoi'£ in 1861 ; in Bibino and Golojokhovo in 
1863 ; in Grigorovo in 1869. 1 In these places also 
the change was only brought about "after much 
internal struggle." Frequently it took place gradu- 
ally. Very often the rich men in their discontent 
separate themselves from the rest of the com- 
munity, retain their own land, and make villages 
of their own. 

A similar struggle is going on at the present time 
in many villages. Sometimes {e.g. in Toussovo, 
Klimovo) this has already had as result the declara- 
tion that some of the land is held collectively, that 
some of it remains chetvertnik. In other villages 
(Griaznovki, Astapovo, Demkino, Meliknovo, Kocy- 
helska'ia) the movement, although of considerable 
strength, has led to nothing, because, on the appeal 
of those antagonistic to it to the law courts, the 
partition of the land was forbidden. 

In Kursk Province, in which the chetvertniki in some places constitute one half the population, 
"the peasants are beginning with greater and greater frequency to give vent to the idea that 
the land is the property of the commune" ; that "the communal assembly has the right of making 
equal the lots of the inhabitants" ; and that "the bonds of kinship ought not to serve as foundation 
for the re-partition of the land". 2 

This idea has already in some cases inclined the peasants towards 

1 " Statistical Report for the District of Rannenburg." 
8 " Statistical Report for the District of Kursk." 


the mir. Thus, in the district of Grai'voron, all 
the chetvertnik villages of the volost Dorogocht- 
chanskaia had in 1884 passed over to the mir 
regime. The same tiling occurred between 1881 
and 1883 with all the villages of the volost 
Viazovka. Much agitation in the same direction 
has taken place also in the volost Lissitchanskaia. 1 
The movement would assume much larger propor- 
tions but for the opposition of the Government. 
Thus, in the large village of Gridino, in the district 
of Soudja, the chetvertniks, after having divided up 
their land, were, on the complaints of certain discon- 
tented rich men, summoned before the law courts. 2 

In the district of Koursk the movement appears 
to be less marked. But even here the advent of 
the mir has taken place in Bolchnia Zvegintzova, 
Troubetzkoie, Znamenskoie. As to the attempts at 
bringing about these reforms, they have been very 
many in this district. In the village of Kondratieva 
" the arable land was about to be divided up, but the 
landed proprietors prevented this from being done, 
and scarcely stopped at murder to attain their 
ends." 3 

In the village of Tchijevka the communal as- 
sembly has twice asked for permission to institute 
the mir, and twice has been refused. In the village 
Vyssokoie the assembly put a stop to the inaugura- 
tion of the mir commune, but when a commence- 
ment was made with the partition of land, the rich 
men opposed this with all their force, and one 

1 See the Russian Gazette, 1884, No. 271. 

2 Russian Gazette, 1884, No. 201. 

3 " Statistical Report of the District of Koursk." 


peasant was killed. The village of Vanini instituted 
the mir, and the new order of things lasted four 
years ; but then " the rich men reversed that order," 
this costing them more than two thousand rubles. 
In all the chetvertnik villages, according to the 
same document, 1 the institution of the mir is the 
question of the day with the peasants. All the 
people are divided into two parties : the one in 
favour of the mir, the other of the existing order of 
things. " Numbers are on the side of the former, 
but power on that of the latter ; that power — of 
money and of corruption — will possibly triumph for 
some time yet ; but the ultimate change to the 
commune of the mir is beyond all doubt." 2 

The history of the Russian peasants has received 
but little attention. Yet we know that in the go- 
vernments of Riazan, Orel, Tambov, Voronej, and 
others, whole districts formerly occupied by the 
chetvertniks are now under the commune of the 
mir. The work of many inquirers would be neces- 
sary before the process of this transformation has 
been worked out in each individual case ; but 
the general fact is thoroughly established. The 
transformation of villages from the condition of lots 
to that of the commune of the mir is a process 
constantly going on, observable under sovereign 
after sovereign, whose inclinations were of the 
most varying nature towards the communal regime; 
Catherine II., Alexander I., Nicolas I., Alexander 
II., Alexander III. 

The same process doubtless obtained in the more 
remote periods of Russian history ; and if we finally 
1 Page 60. 2 Ibid. 


notice in the 16th, or even in the 15th, century the 
appearance of the commune of the mtr t this need 
not astonish us, even if we are in ignorance of the 
causes of the transformation. 

In point of fact, the question as to these causes is 
not easy of solution ; the greatest difficulty about 
it is, that the economic and material necessity of this 
evolution is not evident. I may go further : as the 
method of production of the time in question was 
of the small-farming type, the decomposition of the 
family commune, and the advent of individual 
property, would seem to be as logical as the advent 
of a higher form of collective possession would seem, 
economically speaking, illogical. Thus we find 
ourselves compelled to explain the advent of the 
niir by other reasons, not of an economic nature, 
which are, taken as a whole, sufficiently powerful 
to override that economic factor which tended to 
the dissolution of the commune. 1 Unfortunately, in 
social science it is the economic element only that 
has been worked out in a really scientific manner. 
When this is not at our service, we are in the dark. 
Thus I am forced to throw myself upon the mercy 
of the reader if my explanations do not seem to be 
sufficiently clear or sufficiently thorough. 

What is the chief difference between the commune 

1 It is in this sense that Blumenfeld speaks of the struggle 
going on at this time between the right of labor and the spirit 
of solidarity. He continues : " When the victory remains with 
the latter, the commune has a tendency to establish a higher 
degree of equality among its individual members. . . . When 
the principle of labor wins the day, the intervals between the 
dividings up become longer, and finally the divisions cease and 
individual property appears " (page 26). 


of lots and the commune of the mir? In the 
commune of the mir, the conception of a right to 
the communal property is transferred from the 
members of the patriarchal family to the citizens of 
the commune. Every one who is entered as a citizen 
Requires, ipso facto, this right. Hence the rights of 
the citizens are absolutely equal ; as a consequence, 
their lots of land are equal, and the amount of land 
of each dvor only varies in proportion to the 
number of the inhabitants of the dvor. 1 Finally, 
each citizen has only the usufruct of the communal 
property ; he has no power to alienate. 

Taken as a whole, all this means that the com- 
mune, in passing over to the mir, assumes a civil 
character, and gets rid, once for all, of the principle 
of the family. The democratic element of equality 
preponderates in it. Finally, the rights of the 
commune as an institution overrule all individual 
rights ; for, speaking accurately, a commune of the 
mir has expropriated the land which formerly be- 
longed by right of inheritance to the individual 
members of the village. 

This is the true significance of the change which 
took place. 

Are there historical circumstances that could have 
influenced the masses of the people in the same 
sense ? Yes ; in this precise sense the people have 
been influenced by many circumstances in their 

In the first place must be noted the extreme 

1 Of the male sex. Sometimes the land is distributed on the 
basis of the actual working force of the dvors. 


mobility of the population. This leads everywhere 
to a considerable influx of strangers. The new 
comers, admitted to the patriarchal family, either 
by affiliation or the purchase of a lot, gradually got 
rid of the genealogical idea by rendering it purely 
fictitious. The same influx of immigrants, as well 
as the natural results following from alienable and 
heritable property, produced a large class of peasants 
without lands, or with insufficient land. This dis- 
contented and dispossessed element was always 
ready to revolt against the privileges of the minority 
who held a sufficiency of land. The chetvertniks 
of the present day show us the part played by this 
element when it has a voice in the self-government 
of a village. Only the law courts and the police, 
always on the side of legal right, prevent — if in- 
deed they do this — the discontented from effecting 
a revolution in the forms of land-tenure. If these 
guards of lawful rights are not very powerful, and at 
the same time the village assembly is strong enough 
to deal with questions concerning the internal 
economy of the village, this revolution is easily 

At the same time as the commune of the mir is 
beginning to make its appearance, a remarkable 
development in the self-government of the villages 
is also to be noted. Throughout Russia, in the 
ancient times, the power of the landed aristocracy 
was very great. Very likely the social order would 
have evolved the same federative and aristocratic 
state that crushed the Polish peasants, but for two 
things. In the first place, the immense tracts of 
land that for centuries were the hiding-places of all 


fugitives from tyranny gave the people time to 
organize and to work out social institutions of more 
or less magnitude. 1 That is precisely what did 
occur ; at the same time, the war of independence 
gathered all the strength of the country around the 
tsars of Moscow, who, in their own interests, exter- 
minated the aristocracy. All through their contest 
with the aristocracy, the tsars were fully alive to the 
necessity of the self-government of the peasants. 
Ivan the Terrible, e.g. granted the communes the 
right to inflict the death penalty ; they could, and 
they did, substitute for the tsar's administration 
their elected representatives. 

I shall discuss presently the effect of Government 
influence upon the development of the commune. 
At present, self-government is our concern. As the 
authority of the village assembly increased, the as- 
semblies began to take part in the agrarian affairs of 
their members, with a view to directing and system- 

1 Sokolovskii looks upon this exceptional facility for flight as 
unfavourable to the political development of Russia, since this 
easy and simple means of getting out of the way accustomed the 
people not to trouble themselves about the political reforms of 
the country. But the White Russian peasants stayed at home 
and ran away no-whither. Did they profit much by this ? On the 
other hand, the Ukraine was saved by its fugitives from zaporojji'e. 
To my thinking, this emigration, lasting through long years, was 
the foundation of our democracy. Before political reforms could 
take place, a people was needed, instead of a savage mob of 
scattered families. The formation of such a people is no easy 
matter. It needs time, and more or less favourable conditions, 
such as liberty, a certain economic independence, and so forth. 
Now, the ancestors of the Russians, by concealing themselves in 
the unknown desert, secured to themselves these very conditions, 
and it is needless to say lost nothing by it. 


atizing them. Intervention of this kind was made 
easy by the existence of a large number of dis- 
contented men, dispossessed and landless, and by 
the fact that the idea of landed property was very 
vaojue and confused. Thus the commune made use 
of its administrative powers to acquire agrarian ones. 
" When the amount of land became insufficient," 
says Blumenfeld, 1 " the interests of the different 
families came into collision, and in these collisions 
the volost played the part of mediator, acting on 
its principles of equality and solidarity. This con- 
ciliation of interests was not effected without much 
struo-ale. The volost's ri^ht of intervention onlv 
grew by very slow degrees, because it had to 
reckon with the principle, already recognised, of 
the rights of the laborer. 2 First, the commune 
laid hold of the pasture land ; then it divided up 
the fields ; next it arranged for the distribution of 
holdings by lot ; lastly, the commune tried to in- 
troduce sharing up of the arable land." 

In all this Blumenfeld paints for us a picture very 
different from the one we are used to seeing. I do 
not mean to say that this sketch is accurate in every 
detail, but it contains one fact clear and beyond 
dispute. It is usually held that collective holding 
arises in the clan time, and lasts as long as land is 
plentiful ; then, when the amount of land diminishes, 
and it becomes dear, collective holding gives way to 
individual. Now we see that in Russia this is not 
always the case ; on the contrary, we see every - 

1 Pp. 24, 25. 

2 I think that the labor of the epoch now under discussion 
gave rise to the idea of individual ownership. 


where that the agrarian commune begins at the very 
time when a dearth of land is noticed. This the 
reader has already observed in connection with the 

Here is one more example from the present day. 
The Chouia volost, 1 in the Vologda government, is 
a large commune of 1 2,000 people in 147 villages. 
All the fields of the volost are held collectively ; 
they are divided up amongst the inhabitants, not 
only of each village, but, when necessary, of differ- 
ent villages. As to the meadows, these are held 
individually and by inheritance. The meadows are 
in io,coo small parcels, scattered here and there 
over all the territory of the volost. They are due 
to the individual labor of peasants, who burn and 
clear the virgin forest. As, however, the population 
increases, says our author, it begins to expropriate 
these lands. A large amount of communal land 
was, fifty to sixty years ago, property held by indi- 
viduals and by right of inheritance. 

How was this change effected ? Kazantzev gives 
us a quite recent example. Eight villages were 
desirous of increasing the amount of their crops. 
This they were unable to do, since the villages 
were separated one from another by other populous 
villages that were unable to give up any portion 
of their land to them. Thereupon the communal 
assembly decreed the expropriation of all these in- 
dividual holdings, and distributed them generally. 
After that, the assembly forbade from that time 
forward the clearing of the virgin forest for indi- 

1 L. Kazantzev : " A Northern Commune," Juridical Messenger, 
1883, Nos. 6 and 7. 


vidual holdings. In other villages of the volost, 
adds the author, where private property still exists 
it is in conflict with communal property ; " but the 
latter has the better of it." 

The appearance of the agrarian commune as a 
consequence of want of land is a fact of sufficient 
importance to warrant the giving one or two more 
instances. But before doing this, I ought to remark 
that the mode of development of the commune just 
mentioned is not the only one. That is the historic 
method ; but when the idea of the commune has 
once come into existence, that institution develops 
with much more ease in countries just colonized. 
The idea already in vogue as to land and collective 
property, and the example of communes already in 
existence, bring it to pass that the colonists expe- 
riencing a want, very relative, of land, introduce 
equal sharings up, and found the agrarian commune. 

The colonization of Ekaterinoslav Province affords us very recent examples of this. It 
is a very young country, and ten years ago half of 
it was a desert. It has been colonized by the most 
diverse people — Germans, Greeks, Armenians, Ser- 
vians, and others. The mass of the population are, 
however, Russian, since the majority are Little 
Russians, amongst whom the commune exists to a 
very slight extent. In many cases the immigrants 
were only fugitives, and thus became serfs or vaga- 
bonds, without belongings of any sort. 

For the purpose of describing the development 
of the commune in this country, I will make use of 
a recent exploration of the districts of Slaviano- 
serbsk and Morioupol, in Ekaterinoslav Province. 1 At the beginning of the 19th century 
the agrarian commune did not exist amongst the 
Ukrainian population. Every one held his land 
by the jus primo occupandi. Every man tilled the 
ground wherever he found a place that suited him. 
From 1820 onwards the commune began to be 
established here and there. The peasants, asked 
the reason of this change, always give the same 
answer. Here are some examples. In the village of 
Joltoie : " The number of the population increased, 
and unpleasantnesses and annoyances arose in con- 
nection with the holding of land. The rich had too 
much, the others had not enough." Thereupon it was 
decided to institute an equal partition of the land. 

In the village of Krymskoi'e : " As the population 
increased, land troubles broke out; quarrels, a sense 
of wrong were prevalent ; let us share up the land, 
said the people, that all may own alike." 

In the village of Cherkasskoie, formerly "one 
man might occupy a great deal of land, whilst an- 
other would be without a morsel of bread. To put 
an end to this unfairness the land was divided up." 

In the village of Blagodatnoie : " The inhabitants 
came here in 1842 from the district of Gadiatch 
(the Ukraine), where they had been individual 
owners. In their new country they held their lands 
for ten years by the. jus primo occtipandi. Then the 
agrarian commune was founded, and at last a means 
for the re-establishment of order was discovered," 
say the peasants. 

This transformation was not effected all at once. 

1 V. Prougavine : " The Progress of the Agrarian Commune," 
Messenger of Europe, 1886, No. 5. 


Before it came about, the village made many at- 
tempts to protect the interests of its weaker mem- 
bers (who had in the village assemblies equal 
voices with the others) by compromises of one sort 
or another. Thus, in the village of Sartany a 
commencement was made by forbidding the rich 
men to hire more than two laborers in the first 
two weeks of harvest, so that the poor might have 
time to get in a sufficient quantity of hay. Further, 
the rich were under interdiction during the two 
first weeks of harvest ; they were not allowed to 
get in their harvest until the poor had finished their 
own work. Measures of this kind went on for 
fifteen years. Finally, in i860, all these difficulties 
were settled by the institution of the commune. In 
the village of Nikoeskoie, during a similar transition 
time, there were limits to the number of laborers 
who could be hired ; e.g., no one could hire more 
than one laborer to each pair of oxen he owned. 

It should be noted that at the time of the coming 
of the commune, those lands were first declared 
communal that were nearest the village. Thus in 
Krymskoie, in 1828, the lands within two leagues 
of the village were submitted to equal partition. 
Those farther off remained in possession by the jus 
primo occupandi. In 1858 the whole of the territory 
was equally divided up. 

In conformity with this manner of communal 
development, the oussadby x are up to the present 

1 Lands that have to do with crops indirectly, such as the farm- 
yard and the kitchen gardens. In the country of which I am 
speaking, the farms established by the peasants at a distance from 
the villages are looked upon as oussadby. 


time held individually. The commune, here only 
in its infancy, is not sufficiently strong to take 
possession of these lands, which are those most 
saturated, as it were, with the labor and the 
capital of their owners. Yet of late years rigorous 
measures for the limitation of owners' rights have 
been introduced. Thus, at Mangouch, in 1880, a 
very heavy tax on the oussadby was instituted — 12 
rubles per hectare per year. At Nikoeskoie the 
same step was taken (4 to 10 rubles per hectare, 
according to the quality of the land). These taxes, 
which are higher than the rent at which the land 
can be let, must clearly compel the owners, sooner 
or later, to give up "of their own accord" their 
lands. At Ourzouf, in 1886, it was decreed that 
each farm should have 1,000 square sagenes x of ous- 
sadby land. Those who had more than this lost a 
proportional amount of their land ; those who had 
less than 900 sagenes of oussadby received a propor- 
tional augmentation of arable land. Here, speaking 
accurately, the equalization of holdings is already 

Great is the influence of example in this trans- 
formation. Sometimes, as at Sartany, the commune 
was decreed directly in imitation of what had been 
done in nei^hbourino; villages. A oreat stimulus to 
the movement was given by the Great Russian vil- 
lages, which from the earliest days of colonization 
have instituted the commune, " according to Rus- 
sian methods," as they say. So great is the force of 
example, that even the Polish colonists, who in their 
own country have long forgotten what the commune 
1 Between one-third and one-half a hectare. 


is, go in for it here. Curiously enough, these neo- 
phytes of collectivism sometimes show themselves 
more skilful than the Russians when it is a question 
of clearing the way for the victory of the commune. 

Let me wander somewhat from my subject in 
order to tell an anecdote. It may be stated in 
advance that in many villages of the government 
of Ekaterinoslave, some few years back, a partial 
return to individual property was obtained ; many 
peasants opposing any new partition of the land. 
The cause of this was as follows. In all these 
villages the land was to be distributed amongst 
those entered on the last census, that of 1858. 
Now, as the population had greatly increased since 
1858, if a dividing up took place, the new lots would 
be much smaller in size than the old ones. As a 
consequence, all the peasants whose names were 
entered on the census opposed a re-partition, and 
in the village assemblies their opposition overcame 
every effort of those in favour of redistribution. 

Out of this deadlock the Poles were the first to 
find an issue. They proposed that a partial division 
should be decreed on the following-; basis. All those 
enrolled in the census of 1858 to receive lots of the 
same size as they had before ; the rest of the land 
to be distributed in equal shares amongst the rest 
of the population. On the death of any one whose 
name appeared in the census, his land should be 
added to that which was to be shared equally. 
Thus by degrees the whole of the land would come 
under the new rdgime of equal holdings. This com- 
promise proved satisfactory to the older men, who 
formed the majority of the opposition. The Russian 

vol. 1. M 


peasants followed the example, and this transition 
arrangement has been adopted in many villages 
whose inmates could not come to terms on the 
question of re-partition. 1 

To return to the history of the commune. To 
sum up the evidence quoted above : the inflow of 
foreign elements into family communes, and the 
development of the self-government of the peasants, 
may be looked upon as the chief causes of the trans- 
formation of a family commune into the commune of 
the mir. 

But if I may be allowed an hypothesis, I should 
suofo-est as another cause of this change the struggle 

OO O oo 

of the individual against the ancient family. The 
family commune crushes out individuality ; on the 
other hand, the commune of the mir gives the indi- 
vidual much more liberty. The question I am pro- 
posing has been scarcely touched upon at all ; it is 
impossible to speak of it with any degree of certainty. 
There are, however, many facts that indirectly show 
us in the commune of the mir a result of the struofo-le 


of the individual against the family commune. 

As a general rule, it appears that now-a-days the 
family commune has been preserved where the com- 
mune of the mir does not exist : in White Russia, 
amongst the Ukrainian Cossacks, the chetvertniks. 
Further, it seems that under the agrarian commune 
the great family is rare. " It is amongst the tchet- 
vertniks that we most frequently find huge families. 
In a single house three or four generations will be 
living together, and the grandfathers are treated as 

1 Kharisomenov : Zemstvo Review. 


mere boys by the white-haired patriarch of them 
all," say the statisticians. 1 

The same phenomenon is often evidenced by 
figures. Thus, in the district of Rannenbourg the 
average chetvertnik family consists of seven mem- 
bers ; the average family of the peasant of the 
commune 67. In the district of Dankov the tchet- 
vertnik family 6*8, the commune family 6*4 ; district 
of Lgov the numbers are 6 "5 and 6*4 ; of Soudja, 
67 and 6 ; of Dmitriev, 7*2 and 6*6. In the district 
of Morchansk, where the commune is in vogue, 6*8 
is the average of the family, but one village — an 
exception to the general rule— that holds land as 
individual property, has an average family of 8'8. 
In the district of Loubny (Ukraine), where the 
peasants are individual holders, the average family 
is 57 ; but in certain exceptional villages, where the 
commune holds sway, the average falls to 5'3. 2 

Facts, moreover, of the following nature are to 
be noted. In Poltava Province (Ukraine), 
a hundred years ago, when the commune still was 
in existence, there the average family in different 
places consisted of 47 to 5 members. At the 
present time, when the commune no longer exists, 
the average family has increased to 5 '2-5 7 mem- 
bers. Let me repeat that this subject has not been 
thoroughly worked out, and it is very difficult to 
say anything positively as to the nature of the 
influence of the commune on the family. I could 

1 "Statistical Report for the District of Rylsk, 1884," preface, 
p. v. 

2 All these figures are taken from the statistical report of the 



myself point out cases diametrically opposed to 
those just given ; yet the general tendency seems to 
me so clear that 1 sum it up. Face to face with 
the communal tenure of the land, the family grows 

Of course this is not equivalent to saying that 
under the commune the actual population increases 
less than elsewhere ; on the contrary, in all the 
countries referred to, the communal lands are less 
populous than those owned individually. 1 But the 
sharings up of great families become more easy 
under the communes. One peasant who was anta- 
gonistic to the partition of the land, explains his 
position on this wise : " When I am the master of 
my own land, my sons have, willy-nilly, to subject 
themselves to my authority." 2 

This phrase sums up the historical fact. Actually, 
under the rdgime of individual property, the authority 
of the father or head of the family is strengthened 
by all the force of the economic domination. The 
son who wants to leave his father against the will 
of the latter, is forced to become a proletarian. 
Under the communal regime, the son who desires 
to set up an independent establishment, is, at all 

1 On one square verst 

Dankov . 
Dmitriev . 
Soudja . 

2 Kharisomenov : 





65 • 



• 36 



65 • 

• 58 

Zemslvo Review for 1883, Nos. 47, 48 : 
" Materials for the History of the Forms of Land-tenure in the 
South of Russia." 


events, certain of not having to remain upon the 
same plot of land as his father. If, therefore, we 
are willing to admit that the co- relation of the 
family and the commune is as I believe it to be, 
we have then another historical reason for the 
victory of the latter social power ; it increases and 
multiplies like all institutions that give individuals 
relatively more independence and liberty. 

However this may be, the facts that I have just 
quoted will, I think, prove to the reader that the 
advent and growth of the agrarian commune are 
due to a series of intrinsic causes, and not, as the 
school of Tchitcherine holds, to extrinsic influences. 
This school, which, be it remembered, has the 
honour of having pointed out the fact that the 
actual commune is not a very ancient institution — 
this school explains this fact as due to govern- 
mental measures (the influence of serfdom, of capi- 
tation, and so forth). Now, it is clearly proved that 
the advent of the commune precedes the institution 
of serfdom as well as that of capitation. Finally, 
we meet with the commune in places where there 
was neither serfdom nor capitation — as amongst the 

Further, as this school has for a long time lost 
all credit in Russia, I need not speak of it at length, 
despite the support that Madame Efimenko has 
involuntarily given to it. Leroy-Beaulieu, although 
closely allied to the school of Tchitcherine, cannot 
abstain from showinor how exaggerated its theories 
are. " A singular thing," says he ; " these statutes 
of 1 86 1 [for the abolition of serfdom] seem to have 
been applied instantly to certain new villages, at 


the same time as a mode of tenure of the soil be- 
came more firmly established in places where it 
had long been in vogue — a mode of tenure that 
three centuries earlier seems to have been strength- 
ened by the establishment of serfdom." x 

A singular thing, in truth ! Serfdom was estab- 
lished, the commune becomes more powerful. 
Serfdom is abolished, the commune becomes more 
powerful again. How can one admit theories that 
lead to results thus contradictory ? Is it not simpler 
to say that there is no causal connection between 
the commune and serfdom ? 

In point of fact, the influence of Government 
measures on the commune varied very much. The 
autocracy by its struggle with the aristocracy gave 
a great stimulus to the development of the com- 
mune. This stimulus was the stronger owing to 
the principle that all the land belonged to the 
tsars alone. What is the origin of this principle 
in respect to the Muscovite tsars ? According to 
some, it is the old idea of the supreme rights of 
the clan, transferred to the tsars ; according to 
others, it grew up under the influence of the Tartars 
after the conquest of Russia. 

Whatever was its origin, it represented a kind of 
nationalization of the soil in a very rough and im- 
perfect form. But the autocracy did not remain 
faithful to the principle it had once on a time used 
as a powerful weapon against the aristocracy. For 
example, the tsars founded the class of pomiest- 
chiks, to whom were given lands inhabited by the 
peasants. The rights, always increasing, of the 
1 "The Empire of the Tsars," bk. i. p. 471 


pomiestchiks were in direct contradiction of the 
self-government that the peasants had long before 
even the establishment of serfdom. 

" The rapid increase in the agrarian rights of the 
volosts," says Blumenfeld, " was hindered by the 
grant of lands to the votchina and the pomiestie. 1 
This system of donations broke up the volost, 
upset all its institutions, and checked its develop- 
ment at the outset." This is speaking a little too 
strongly, but the general fact is true. 

Yet greater is the contradiction between the 
rights of lords and those of serfs. The policy of 
the tsars, therefore, was by no means universally 
favourable to the self-government of the peasants. 
Further, the tsars gradually forgot their principle 
as to agrarian property. The Government gave 
to the pomiestchiks all the rights of landed pro- 
prietors, and ultimately tried to transform them into 
lords. The majority of the peasants became serfs. 
All the self-government of the country was given 
over to the lords. That, after all this, the self- 
government of the peasants was not absolutely 
destroyed was only due to the fact that the so-called 
nobles were but a service class. They contented 
themselves with robbing the peasants, without 
making serious attack on the social ideas of the 

The policy of the tsars may be thus summed 
up. After having abolished landed property, they 
instantly re-establish it ; after having supported the 
self-government of the communes, they subject 

1 Votchina, hereditary property ; pomiestie, property held 
individually as reward for service. 


the communes to the despotism of a resuscitated 

But besides the serf, there were always in Russia 
State peasants. Any village of State peasants 
could at any moment be given over in serfdom to 
a noble. But the tsars had not time enough to 
enslave all the people ; hence there were always 
State peasants. 1 The Government has never 
abandoned its original position in respect to them. 2 
It retains the right of property in their lands ; the 
State peasants are only tenants. Sometimes even 
the administration orders equal partition of land 
amongst the State peasants, or commands them to 
certain collective labor. 

This position of the Government has had much 
effect on the development of the commune among 
the State peasants. But, let me repeat, these 
measures did not create the commune. The 
Government ordered partition of the land for the 
first time about the end of the eighteenth century, 
1785, i.e. when the commune was fully developed. 
The Government in its action was only following 
the current of the life of the people. 

Madame Efimenko, whose remarkable investi- 
gations I am so frequently quoting, declares that 
Government ordinances did create the commune in 

1 Up to the time of Alexander III., who in the year 1886 
inaugurated the transformation of the State peasants into pro- 

2 Owing to the more rapid increase of population, as well as 
to the transformation of numbers of chetvertniks, Cossacks, and 
others into State peasants, the latter in 1861 were more numerous 
than the serfs. 


the north and in the south at the close of the 
eighteenth century, for Madame Efimenko fully 
recognises the fact that the commune was in exist- 
ence at this time in Central Russia. She even 
compares these ordinances to the decrees of the 
French Convention. I venture to think that a 
fixed idea blinds, in this case, her investigations, 
usually so accurate. It is easy enough to find in 
her own writings sufficient facts to destroy her theory. 
Thus she herself teaches us that when the Govern- 
ment ordered a partition of lands in the north, 
" the peasants went further." They took as com- 
munal property not only part of the land, as the 
Government had decreed, but all of it ; instead of 
equalizing the quantity of the land, as the Govern- 
ment had decreed, they began to equalize its quality 

To Madame Efimenko, moreover, we owe the 
publication of a very interesting document — a scheme 
of the director of the State peasants. This official, 
when he was uro-ino- on the Government the ne- 
cessity of dividing up the land, noticed, amongst 
reasons for this, the need " of appeasing the peasants 
who had not enough land." x 

As a matter of fact, the history of our peasants, 
little as it has been investigated, shows that they 
themselves demanded the partition and equalization 
of lands before any Government ordinances were 

1 Scheme of the Director of Economics of Arkhangelsk, 1786 : 
" Equalization of lands . . . should be regarded as absolutely 
necessary, as much for giving the peasants means to pay their 
taxes, as for appeasing the peasants who have not enough land." — 
A. Efimenko, 1 . 331. 


issued. Petitions in this sense were inserted in the 
mandates of the peasant deputies, members of the 
commission summoned by Catherine II. in 1767. 1 
Thus in a peasant mandate from the district of 
Totma, the Government is besought to take the 
land away from merchants and officials, to restore 
it to the peasants, and " to distribute it in the 
communal fashion, according to the number of the 
population." The peasants of the district of Orlov 
petitioned that the land should be not only taken 
away from the merchants, but from the peasants 
themselves, so that it might be distributed according 
to the number of the population. 

The peasants also asked that the land might be 
taken from their rich fellow-villagers and distributed 
amongst the poor. The petition of the peasants of 
the district of Khlynov were of the same nature. 
The peasants of the volost Molskaia complained of 
the dearth of land, urging that if the Government 
decreed an equal distribution, there would be enough 
for every one. 2 

" The decrees of the Convention " were not there- 
fore altogether unexpected by the peasants of the 
north. As to the south, I have quoted enough facts 
to show that intrinsic causes and intrinsic struggle 
led to the appearance of the commune there. I 
need not, I think, further discuss this unscientific 

The general conclusions to which we are led are, 
then, as follows. The actual type of the commune 

1 The Government admitted to this commission deputies from 
the State peasants, but not from the serfs. 

2 Semevskii : " The State Peasants under Catherine II.," chap. i. 


arose in the 15th and 16th centuries from the frac- 
tional commune, which had in its turn grown out of 
the family commune. This last probably appeared 
at the time of the destruction of the clan, owing to 
the advent of agriculture and of commerce. Thus, 
throughout this evolution, the collectivist principle 
steadily advances, and becomes more and more a 
part and parcel of the State policy and of popular life. 

This is, of course, the general and abstract for- 
mula. In every concrete case the process of the 
development of the commune is more involved than 
this. The commune arises in some places earlier, 
in others later ; it develops in this place to a greater, 
in that to a less, extent ; sometimes it vanishes al- 
together. But on the whole, the area of land held 
in common always increases, and the commune has 
a steadily increasing number of proselytes. 

This progressive development of the commune 
went on even after 1861, in spite of the legislation 
of Alexander II., that was expressly intended to 
destroy it. 

By law, the village has the right to abolish the 
commune by a majority of two-thirds of the votes ; 
and any one member even may compel the viir to 
make over to him, as individual property, the plot 
of land to which he has a right. 1 But cases of this 
kind are, however, not very numerous. In one-half 
of Moscow Province, e.g., out of a total of 
74,480 dvors, in eighteen years only nineteen dvors 
were definitely separated from the commune. 2 Very 

1 Statutes for the buying in of land, § 165. 

2 Orlov : "On the Forms of Peasant land-holding in Moscow Province." 


often separation from the commune is a pure fiction, 
a means, e.g., of getting out of the communal soli- 
darity in the matter of taxes {krougovaia porouka). 
The mir decreed the abolition of the commune, 
but, in point of fact, continues to live under its 
rdgime} All who have studied the question with 
any ability bear witness to the desire of the peasants 
to maintain the rdgime of the communal tenure. 2 
And facts furnish abundant proof of it ; the reader 
has been able to assure himself of this already. A 
number of documents, 3 and among them the official 
Compte Rendu of the Land Bank of the peasants, 4 
prove that by buying land with the help of subsi- 
dies from this bank (a recent creation), the peasant 
associations sometimes turn themselves into com- 
munes among the Great as among the Little Rus- 

We have seen how the commune spread among 
the chetvertniks. 

Further, by law the whole village even has not 
the right to compel the chetvertnik to give up his 
plot of ground. His possessions are his by right of 
individual property. He knows this very well, and 

1 A great number of cases of this kind occur. See e.g., report 
of the Commission charged, under Imperial order, with an in- 
quiry into the present situation of agriculture, etc. Supplement 
to vol. i. 

3 See M. Laloche (Olonetz Province), M. Sokolovskii ; and also many reports of zemstvos. 

3 E.g., the province of Rilsk (the New Times, Feb. i, 1885) ; 
the province of Pietrovsk {Russian Gazette, 1884, No. 176); the 
province of Poltava (Little Russian), Russian Gazette, 1884, No. 
201, etc. 

4 The Messenger of Europe, April, 1885 : "Agrarian Question," by M. Slonimskii. 


often has recourse to the protection of authority. 
Not infrequently in such a case the cases are dis- 
missed by the tribunals. These measures are of 
but little help. And, moreover, in certain places 
the rdgime of individual property is kept up for 
the old land, whilst all newly purchased land comes 
under the communal rdgime. In certain villages 
this is a general rule. 

After the abolition of serfdom the communal 
regime penetrated into White Russia (government 
of Moghilev), and reappeared 1 in the Ukraine 
(governments of Kiev and Poltava), where it had 
been almost destroyed. It has even of late crossed 
the frontiers of the Russian nationality, and is taking 
root among the Moldavians of Bessarabia, just as 
formerly it became acclimatized among the German 
colonists in Russia. 2 

To sum up. According to the approximate calcu- 
lation of M. Fortunatov, the area under the com- 
munal rdgime in different parts of Russia is : region 
of the Lower Volga, 98*4 per cent, of all the peasant 
land; of Moscow, 97 per cent.; the Oural, 95*4; 
southern Great Russia, 89*1 ; Little Russian govern- 
ments on the left bank of the Dnieper, 58*5 ; White 
Russia, 55*5 ; Polish Ukraine, 15-1 ; Lithuania, y. 3 

1 For many details proving the existence quite recently of the 
commune in a part of Little Russia, see M. Loutchitzky's admir- 
able book. 

2 Klaus : " Our Colonies." 

3 Russian Gazette, 1885, No. 320. 


The mir contrasted with the political system of the country. — 
Naivete of popular ideas. — Confusion of effects due to phy- 
sical phenomena with those due to political. — Illustrations 
from travellers' observations and popular tradition. — Belief 
in sorcerers. — The legend of emancipation. — Contempt for 
human dignity. — The great family of old. 

When one studies the harmonious organization of 
the mir, considers the aptness of the mass of the 
people for autonomy in administration and in labor, 
sees finally the principle of equality everywhere 
entering more deeply into the life of the peasants 
than into that of the most advanced nations of 
Europe, one is induced to expect in the political 
order of Russia something akin to that of England 
or Switzerland. At least, one thinks, the Russian 
peasant ought to live at ease, ought to be assured 
against economic exploitation and the caprice of 
others invading the sphere of his civil rights. 

The slightest acquaintance, however, with Russia 
in general, and with the life of the Russian village 
in particular, dispels all illusion on this head. 

I shall have occasion to speak in this book of 
the unbridled despotism that weighs so heavily 
on political life, of the absolute want of personal 


security, of the negation of the rights of the citizen 
in Russia. The general truth is known by every 

That of which the European reader is almost 
ignorant is the pitiable state of the Russian peasant, 
who, surrounded by republican institutions and his 
mir, is the victim of a formidable oppression, is 
oppressed by a despotism of which the most un- 
happy of the proletarians of the West have no idea. 

What can be the causes of so paradoxical a 
phenomenon ? 

These are especially to be sought in the backward 
state of civilization of the people, in the extreme 
ignorance that narrows their horizon and makes 
them slaves to a thousand superstitions. 

Without exaggeration it may be said that the 
Russian people only see citizen life within the con- 
fined limits of their mir. 

All the more complex political or economical 
problems are to them quite as incomprehensible, 
quite as outside their understanding and their will, 
as those of nature. Does a favourite by dint of 
platitudes get 10,000 serfs from the empress, serfs 
who until then were free and independent peasants ? 
Does an entrepreneur, say of the present time, re- 
ceive from the Government an advance of a million 
rubles for a shady transaction ruining thousands of 
small tradespeople ? These are in the eyes of the 
people phenomena of force majeure passing under- 
standing, and against which, therefore, they can do 

Whence was the squall let loose that threw the 
village into ruins ? How to triumph over it ? 


Whence did the favourite or the speculator swoop 
down upon the peasant ? How to defend him- 
self against these ? All these questions are equally 
unanswerable by the peasant. In the region of high 
politics, as in that of physical phenomena, the popu- 
lace live in a fantastic world, having nothing in 
common with reality. The peasant sends a message 
to the tsar with as much faith as he celebrates mass 
and prays for an end to the drought. For he has 
no more idea of the government of heaven than of 
that of earth. This is not the result of the small 
development of his intellect, but of extreme ignor- 
ance. The peasant reasons very well on what he 
knows ; the unfortunate thing is, that he knows 
scarcely anything. 

The backward civilization of Russia ceases to 
astonish us if we remember that for centuries the 
Russian people were cut off from all communication 
with civilized nations. They only came into contact 
with savage tribes, their inferiors at all points. 
The fruits of the labors of the human reason and 
of science were inaccessible to them. Even at the 
present time the people are in many cases fetish- 
worshippers and pagan, since they can only judge 
of heaven and earth from a limited number of 
observations made within the narrow circle of their 
field, their forest, their mir. Is it then a matter of 
astonishment that, taking as their basis so few facts, 
the people can form no idea of the laws of phe- 
nomena, cannot get to know the very groundwork 
of human science, to know that which alone can 
draw man out of slavery to nature and society ? The 
peasants of Olonetz, says M. Hielferding, told him 


tales of giants with the firmest belief in them. But 
they understood very well that there were no giants 
now-a-days. " Of course," they said, " there are 
not. That's because the world is declining; but 
there were plenty of them in former times." More- 
over, the peasant is certain there are no more 
liecJii. l " Formerly there were plenty. Now the 
forests are cut down, and the poor devils don't know 
where to hide themselves." In this there is no want 
of individual observation — on the contrary, the 
observation is very accurate — but an utter want of 
acquaintance with the laws of nature. 

There is always a basis of anthropomorphism 
in the religious opinions of the people, especially 
in those of the White Russians, the most backward 
of Russian races. Look at the way in which the 
White Russian songs represent God. They tell of 
feasts at God's house, in which " God Himself 
sweetens the hydromel, while Elias the prophet 
brews the beer." One day God is looking for 
Elias in vain. 

" Elias is off to the corn-fields." 

The Holy Virgin also attends to household affairs, 
and complains to God that she is fatigued. 

" She bows herself down before God ; 
And I, mon Dieu, have not been out a walk. 
I've tilled the ground, the barley have I sown, 
The barley sown, the barley reaped." 

On one occasion a brother and sister go to search 

1 These fantastic beings of Russian mythology live in the forests, 
and amuse themselves by leading travellers astray. 

VOL. I. N 


for God. They find Him " hard by a barrel, drinking 
brandy." 1 

A friend of mine brings from the province of 
Kouban similar testimony. Whilst there he often 
spoke to the Cossacks — the province is peopled by 
Little Russian Cossacks — about the different towns 
of Russia. One day a peasant said to him, with the 
most serious air ; " Please tell me if you've been to 
the other world." My friend was half- offended at 
the question. He took it for a joke and a hint that 
his auditor did not quite believe all his tales. Yet 
the Cossack's inquiry was quite serious. A fellow- 
villager, returned from a pilgrimage, had told him 
that on his journey he had passed into heaven, 
where the dead folk of their village had asked him 
to salute in their name the relatives they had left 
behind. Thereupon he himself had set out straight 
for heaven, laden with presents from the country- 
side and with some money given him by the simple 
Cossacks for their dead friends. So it was natural 
enough that the Cossack should want to learn of my 
friend, whom he took to be a man of experience, 
how the way from earth to heaven was practicable. 

Clearly so simple a method of looking upon the 
world and the things of the world must re-act upon 
the social life. Two years ago the Cossacks of the 
Don gave up contending with the locusts that in- 
vaded their fields, and took to saying masses instead. 
Speaking generally, the peasants have as much faith 
in the efficacy of religious ceremonies as in that of 
a doctor's drugs. 

1 Chei'n : " White Russian Songs." 


"Why is it such a bad harvest ?" the peasant asks 

" Because," he answers, " the priests now-a-days 
have a salary. Formerly even the popes tilled the 
ground. Then they said mass fervently that the 
good God might yield an abundant harvest. Now, 
it is the same to them one way or the other, and they 
say their prayers carelessly." 

Even at the present time, to be accused of witch- 
craft in Russian villages is a real danger. Sometimes 
such an accusation leads to the most tragic results. 
Every now and again the Russian journals publish 
the news of the burning of a supposed sorcerer. Yet 
the peasants very often have recourse to sorcerers. 
Some years back, in the village of Megletzi (govern- 
ment of Novgorod), the loan and savings bank of 
the village society was broken into. The village 
assembly resolved on consulting a sorcerer in order 
to find out the robber. The sorcerer set to work 
publicly. He told the peasants to look at a bucket 
full of water, and gave to each of them a mystic piece 
of stick that, according to him, would grow larger in 
the hand of the thief. 

In cases of epidemics, the peasants, instead of mak- 
ing use of hygienic measures, sometimes employ the 
opakhivanit. This method of conjuration is as follows. 
Late on a dark night certain women, hair dishe- 
velled, garments flowing, yoke themselves to a 
plough, and plough a furrow round the land they 
want to shield from the visit of death. The cere- 
mony is accompanied by savage chants that the 
women scream out at the top of their voices ; but 
these chants are to the men a mystery. Their eyes 


may not see the ceremony, and woe to him whom, 
perchance, the procession meets upon his way. He 
is overwhelmed with blows, and even runs the risk 
of being torn in pieces. Naturally, therefore, when 
the men hear the savage howling of the women they 
make haste to run away or hide. 1 

These gross superstitions of the peasants are kept 
up and even fostered by the Church. In the ecclesi- 
astical ritual are many exorcisms not differing from 
those of witchcraft, whose effects, indeed, they are 
often intended to counteract. If by chance a peasant 
finds a salome 2, on his field, he has recourse in his 
trouble, with equal faith, to the sorcerer or to the pope. 

It is not astonishing that in Russia an accu- 
sation of witchcraft may be a weapon used at times 
in political contests. It is especially employed 
against sectarians. These, always sober, hard- 
working, intelligent, hold, despite the persecutions 
of the Government, a position of ease and com- 
petence far in advance of that enjoyed by the 
orthodox. Thereupon it is pretended that they get 
their money from the devil. I myself heard a tale 
of this kind from a wretch who swore that he with 
his own eyes had seen a chalapoute — the name 
of one of the sects — talking to the devil, who rose 
from a vat full of water, and gave him gold. 

In 1873, against the socialists, even at St. Peters- 
burg, the same accusation of witchcraft was made. 

1 Some years ago a caseof opakhivanie occurred even near 
Moscow, at Fili. 

2 A zalome is a bundle of stalks of wheat, bound, with exorcisms, 
in a special way. If an enemy makes you a zalojne, your wheat 
is ruined unless you nullify its power by appropriate exorcisms. 


Thus does superstition encroach upon politics. 
And this is the more easy as the peasants have, as I 
said, only a very confused idea as to social questions. 
Some of them do not even know that the tsar is 
an hereditary monarch. The peasants of a village in 
Simbrisk Province imagined that the tsar 
was chosen at regular intervals by the senate. This 
is, of course, an exceptional case ; but generally the 
peasants' ideas as to the tsar are altogether fantastic. 
Often they look upon him as a representative and 
protector of the people, whose one care is their 
welfare. Only the grandees always prevent him 
from helping them. How ? That is a mystery, a 
matter beyond conception. It is always a case of 
the tsar having recourse to a ruse that he may get 
the better of the grandees and senators. This, eg. 
is the way in which the popular legend tells the 
story of the abolition of serfdom. 

The tsar was for a long time busied about the 
question, but could do nothing. How to set about 
the deliverance of the people ? At last he found 
out the way. Clad in the grand uniform and laden 
with the orders of Nicolas I., the tsar went to the 

" Senators," he said, " have I the right to clothe 
myself in this uniform, to wear these orders ? " 

" No, sire," answered the senators ; " your late 
father had a right to this uniform and these orders ; 
not you." 

On another occasion the tsar came to the senate 
in the state dress of Alexander I. The senators 
told him he had no right to wear it, since not he but 
his uncle had been judged worthy of this. 


A third time the tsar came to the senate, dressed 
in his own uniform and wearing his own orders. 

" You did rightly to put these on," said the 
senators to him, "since you yourself are entitled to 

Then the tsar answered : 

" Very well, members of the senate, very well. 
Pass then a decree that any one may enjoy what he 
has gained for himself, but not what his fathers or 
his ancestors have gained." 

Then the senators saw he had caught them in a 
trap. What was to be done ? They were com- 
pelled to sign the decree. 

For the tsar asked them : 

" Members of the senate, how did you get your 
peasants ? " 

One had them from his father, another from his 
grandfather, a third from some more remote ancestor. 
Not one had obtained them for himself. The 
senators had to recognise that the rights of the 
nobles over the peasants must be abolished. 

Thus the abolition of serfdom came about. 1 

Here is another legend, belonging to the domain 
of high politics. It is quoted by Ouspenskii. 2 

Why did the Turko-Russian war break out ? 

11 Because," says the peasant, " in the Turkish land 
there is a bull of great antiquity. A vast treasure, 
maybe the source of all the gold in the world, is 

1 This legend, published for the first time, if I am not mis- 
taken, in the socialist journal, Land and Liberty, is confirmed 
by the testimony of many writers who have studied the life of the 

2 Ouspenskii is a contemporary writer of ability, and a close 
observer of peasant life. 


buried under the hind hoof of this bull. The tsar 
wanted to conquer him. Then the peasants need 
pay no more taxes." 

On another occasion, clearly as result of the spread 
among the people of socialist books and pamphlets, 
the following legend arose. A monster some scores 
of verstes long fell from the sky into one of the 
governments. On his back is engraven everything 
that is going to happen, but as yet no one has de- 
ciphered the writing. The authorities rigorously 
forbid the reading of it. 

Political events, it will be seen, are at times re- 
flected in popular thought even now-a-days, in a 
purely mythical way. 

Of course it would be a great blunder to judge 
the intellectual condition of the people solely by these 
proofs of its ignorance. These are only exceptional 
cases ; but it is evident that a population which 
invents legends of this kind cannot form very reason- 
able judgments on political questions. As long as 
human thought cannot break the bonds of mythical 
conceptions, its development is incomplete. This 
incomplete development is to-day the great social 
vice of Russia. 

Only a hundred years ago even gentlemen, we 
must remember, did not look upon corporal punish- 
ment as derogatory from their dignity. Some ten 
years ago people found guilty of political crimes by 
the third section of the Imperial Chancellorship (the 
secret police) were still subject to such punishment. 

In common law trials torture has only been sup- 
pressed since 1801. As to political trials, it is not 
yet altogether suppressed in practice. 


Up to the time of Peter the Great, the Russians 
called themselves " kholops " ' in their official rela- 
tions with the emperor. Peter modified this formula, 
and ordered them to use henceforward the title 
"rabs" instead of "kholops." Catherine I., in her 
turn, substituted the name " subject " for " rab." 

Sometimes in Russia, even in those administra- 
tions, such as the medical section, where culture is 
at its best, the chiefs " tutoyer." 2 In the army the 
officers are obliged to " tutoyer " their soldiers. 

If in this respect Little Russia is more advanced, 
this coarseness of manners, reflex of the contempt for 
all human rights and dignity, is carried to extreme 
among the Great Russians. In Great Russia 
corporal punishment is everywhere and habitually 
imposed by the tribunals of the " volost." They 
beat a husband who deserts his wife, a wife wanting 
in respect to her husband, sons who disobey their 
father, fathers who have not paid their taxes, etc. 
This debased contempt for human dignity has been 
evolved everywhere under the influence of " that 
ancient great family " which Russian reactionaries 
rightly regard as the most solid buttress of " con- 
servative principles." 

This institution of the "ancient great family" 
must not be passed over in silence. It has been to 
the moral development of the Russian people an 
obstacle of not less importance than serfdom. 

In the time of our grandfathers, these families 
were composed of from twenty to thirty members, 
often of as many as fifty to sixty. They were sub- 

1 " Kholops," serfs in a derogatory sense; "rabs," merely serfs. 

2 "If thou thou'st him some thrice." — Twelfth Night. 


ject to the absolute authority of the elder of the 
family (bolchak), generally the grandfather of 
greatest age. 1 He superintended work, controlled 
consumption, regulated the marriages of the 
members of the family, etc. The family worked 
in common, took their meals together, and often 
lived in the same dwelling. 

It is not difficult to imagine what a man would 
become in a life like this. Scores of eyes spy upon 
his every movement ; he has neither will nor pro- 
perty, not even sentiments that he can call his own. 

The despotic authority of the family and of the 
" bolchak" falls most heavily on the woman. The 
Russian songs are full of touching complaints against 
this state of servitude, and often picture the implac- 
able revolts of the women for the re-conquest of 
their rights, now trodden under foot. The Little 
Russians have a very characteristic saying : 

" Who is going to bring the water ? The daughter-in-law. 
Who is to be beaten ? The daughter-in-law. 
Why is she beaten ? Because she is the daughter-in-law." 3 

The daughter-in-law is the slave of her husband, 
in his turn the slave of the " bolchak." Slave to her 
mother-in-law, who avenges on her the sufferings 
she had herself undergone aforetime, the young wife 
is in her new home a creature of endless toil, of 
ceaseless reproaches, of blows, of eternal renunciation 
of volition. She comes into her house still wearing 
her wedding-dress ; hell soon breaks out. 

1 In cases where the bolchak became decrepit to the extent of 
being unable to keep order, even during his life sometimes a 
younger "bolchak" was elected. 

2 Efimenko: The Peasant Woman, in her " Inquiries into the 
Life of the People." 


" Says father-in-law; 
They have brought us a bear. 
Says mother-in-law ; 
They have brought us an eater of men. 
Say the brothers-in-law ; 
They have brought us an unclean thing. 
Say the aunts ; 
They have brought us a spinner of naught." 

It is no use for the poor thing to try complaining 
to them all. She will not get a kindly word from 
one of them. Even the husband/supposing he cares 
for her, is powerless to protect her, as indeed a song 
of the Great Russians has it. The plaint of the 
woman overwhelmed with weariness : 

" I, the young wife, fall asleep, 
Head bowed down upon the pillow. 
Husband's father in the passage, 
My new passage, walks in anger, 
Striking, roaring, striking, roaring, 
I can get no wink of slumber. 
Get up, get up, sleepy-head ! 
Get up, get up, sleepy 
Sleepy, sleepy-head and feckless ! " 

The poor thing shudders, tries to rise, has not the 


" I, the young wife, fall asleep, 
Head bowed down upon the pillow." 

Then the mother-in-law comes like a thunderbolt. 
More scolding more upbraiding. 

" Sleepy, sleepy-head and feckless ! " 

And the husband ? The husband can do nothing. 
He sees the injustice of it all, but he can only 
murmur in secret, compassionating his wife, who 
falls asleep in spite of herself. 


" Sleep, sleep, my girl ; 
Sleep, sleep, my sweetest. 
Tired out, and worn out, married over-young." 

But what are blows, upbraidings, work ? The 
despotic authority of the "bolchak" leads to worse 
abuses. The popular language is even enriched 
with a quite special word, " snokhatch." 2 The 
dramas of the law-courts often present frightful 
scenes of jealousy between father and son. Some- 
times they show the former falling under the axe 
of the latter, or poisoned by the young wife for the 
wrong he has done her. The " large family " is a 
veritable school of slavery. A man brought up in 
its midst will bear, without any sense of shame, the 
most bloody despotism of law or of government. 

1 Chei'n : " Great Russian Songs," vol. i., p. 335. 

2 This might be translated by the neologism, " daughter-in- 
lawing." Seduction of the daughter by the father-in-law is 


The people take part in the moral movement. — The schism ; its 
causes and effects. — The sectarians : their role in Russia 
itself. — The action of Europe. — The educated classes draw 
near the people. — Tolstoi ministry ; Russian schools. — The 
" otkhojie promysly." — Their importance in the life of the 
Russian people. — Disappearance of the "ancient family." — 
Family partitions. 

It is undeniable that these traditional faults of the 
Russian people are much less marked now than they 
were, and are constantly becoming less noticeable. 
A moral revolution is going on at the heart of the 
mass of the people. They are claiming their rights 
and are learning how to conquer them. From this 
point of view, the end of the 1 7th century may be 
looked upon as the crisis in Russian history. 

After the great national wars against the Swedes 
and the Poles, an intellectual renaissance mani- 
fested itself everywhere. 

On the one hand, an educated class arises, tries 
with much effort to brin^ Russia into relation with 
Europe, and to acclimatize among us European 
civilization. Among the men who take part in the 
task that the tsarevna Sophia and Peter the Great 
set themselves, there are many of the people. But 
they do not really represent the people, since they 


are in advance of their age. In the population as a 
whole, another current is perceptible, equally due to 
the awakening of soul and of intellect. That is the 
schism (raskol). 

The schism gives us a picture of the mental 
condition of the Russian people in a not very en- 
couraging light. It broke out in consequence of 
the reform undertaken by the patriarch Nikon, with 
a view of centralizing the clergy, getting it away 
from the influence of the parishioners, regulating its 
ceremonies in harmony with the ritual of the Greek 
Church. This reform kindled the flames of war. 
Nikon said people should cross themselves with 
three fingers ; the " raskolniks " said two were 
enough, and appealed to the old pictures, in which 
the saints are represented crossing themselves with 
two fingers. Nikon was for singing "Alleluia" 
three times ; the " raskolniks " said it need only be 
sung twice. All the controversies were of the like 
importance. None the less they were of sufficient 
moment for the two parties to call one another 
heretics, for the " staroobriadtzi " (partisans of the 
ancient ritual) to be burned alive in the firm con- 
viction that they would be damned if they crossed 
themselves in any other way than with two fingers. 
In both camps fanaticism reigned supreme. 

Those who at the present time represent the 
"raskolniks," point out a more fundamental reason for 
the schism. They declare that it was not a matter 
of ceremonial forms. Such forms are established 
by custom, and it is not only the clergy who are 
concerned in them. The faithful play their part. 
They think, therefore, that it is not permissible to 


make a change in the ritual without the consent of 
the Church. And this is no other than the consent 
of the whole body of believers. All that the spirit 
of antichrist, working in Nikon, does, is to shut out 
the faithful from the Church, and to arrogate for 
the clergy a despotic authority over the consciences 
of the faithful. 1 In point of fact, the ancient Russian 
Church was built on much more democratic lines ; 
the faithful chose their own priests. To sum up : in 
the schism can be seen a very acute protest of the 
people against the despotic tendencies of the superior 
clergy, although it can be said with perfect truth 
that the schismatics believed in their eight-pointed 
cross as the savage in his fetish. 

Thought, once awakened, cannot fall back into 
slumber, even though it has at first no other 
ground on which to work than clerical scholarship. 
It developed, it advanced. The incredible perse- 
cutions of the " raskolniks," drove them to transfer 
their criticisms from the Church to the Government. 
They declared that the tsar was Antichrist. A 
number of sects were soon obliged to do without 
priests, and even made this a dogma of their religion. 
The right of every one to discuss religious questions 
was, as a consequence, fully admitted. That spirit 
which until then had been the slave of ritual, of a 
wooden image, of a cross of copper, became master 
of itself. 

At the present time, the number of " staroo- 
briadtzi " and of sectarians may be estimated at from 
twelve to fifteen millions. They are split up into 

1 See " The Modern Contest of the Schism," in the Messenger 
of Europe. 


a motley crowd of doctrines and sects ; some of 
them are notable for their coarse fanaticism, e.g. 
that of skoptzi (castrates). One part of the "staroo- 
briadtzi," the " popovchtchina," which calls itself the 
ancient orthodox Church, replaces the authority of 
the official Church by its own. The latter clearly 
cannot contribute much to the spread of free in- 
quiry. On the other hand, all the " bezpopovcht- 
china " sects tend undoubtedly to turn to pure 
rationalism. For the rest, this is nearly the end 
attained by the " spiritual Christians." As a rule 
the sectarians are the most advanced portion of the 
people. They know how to read and write, and 
are wonderfully well up in Scripture. But it is not 
Scripture only that they study. Their " natch- 
ottchiks " (learned men) know Renan, are familiar 
with history, interested in the literature of social 
questions. Such " natchottchiks " as the celebrated 
Paul the Curious, are sometimes, as far as literary 
faculty and learning go, much above their adver- 
saries, the doctors of the theological academies. As 
a general rule, the sectarians are remarkable for their 
morality, sobriety, intelligence, and activity. 

It is notable that all the present sects differ from 
the old ones in the greater stress they lay on social 
principles. They pay less attention to dogmas, 
more to the questions of morality and social life. 
They rarely enter into the arena of pure politics. 1 

1 There are exceptions, amongst which must be mentioned the 
sect of the " stranniks " or " biegouni " (fugitives). This sect 
looks on the tsar as Antichrist, and believes that some day the 
faithful will gather together and fight his army. In the meantime 
they will have absolutely nothing to do with any social institu- 


But in that of social life they teach the people many- 
pure and healthy ideas. 

It is impossible, e.g. not to note the prominent 
part played by women among our schismatics. 
With them, women are in all relations the equals 
of men. Very often they exercise the functions of 
chiefs of sects. 

Among these last, marriage — a free union — de- 
pends much less on formal obligations and much 
more upon moral duties. 

The communes of the sectarians are often very 
interesting associations. No member can become 
indigent. He is helped, and not allowed to be 
ruined. These associations (among the " chala- 
poutes,") are often composed of many families 
owning and cultivating the soil in common. In 
them individual independence is happily blended 
with collective possession and labor. 

The sectarians do a great deal towards the de- 
struction of national exclusiveness. It is in this 
that the " soubbotniks " (sabbatarians) are like the 
Jews. The " stundistes" seemed some fifteen years 
ago under the influence of the propaganda of the 
German colonists dwelling in the south of Russia. 
Now the " stundistes " are far in advance of their 
masters. Generally speaking, our sects bring into 
the life of the people many civilizing elements, and 

tions. They runaway from military service, do not pay taxes, will 
not use passports, do not enter upon any business in which the in- 
tervention of the law is required. With such opinions it is clear 
that they must lead a wandering life, seeking shelter from the 
persecutions of authority. And they have learnt to build them 
houses cleverly contrived with many secret passages and recesses 
for hiding. 


historically they may be looked upon as its most 
active educators. 

At the same time that the " raskol " was develop- 
ing in Russia, that country entered upon a new 
stage of evolution, even more important in its con- 
sequences than this. I am speaking of its closer 
relationship with Europe and the importation of 
European civilization into Russia. The knowledge 
thus acquired has for a long time had but a feeble 
effect on the people ; it was the appanage of a more 
or less privileged and small minority. Thanks, 
however, to the exigencies of human development 
in masses of population, it penetrated to a certain 
extent, as it were by a network of capillary threads, 
the Russian populace. 

Since the abolition of serfdom the influence of the 
educated class upon the people has increased to a 
remarkable extent. To draw the people more 
closely to itself has become its favourite dream ; to 
this end schools, popular books, personal intercourse 
were the best means. Then the reactionary party 
interfered. Count Dmitri Tolstoi became minister 
of public instruction, and his administration was of 
such a nature that a jest, popular throughout Russia, 
called it the ministry of public ignorance. In Russia 
the minister of public education is called the minister 
of public knowledge. He tried as much as lay in 
his power to prevent the founding of primary schools, 
by creating obstacles insurmountable even for the 
" zemstvo," much more for private individuals. 

The number of schools in European Russia is 
reckoned at not less than 22,770, with 1,140,000 
scholars (904,000 boys ; 236,000 girls). Of course, 

vol. 1. o 


this is small for Russia, as the number of scholars 
scarcely reaches 2 per cent, of the whole population. 
Poland stands in the first place (4 per cent, of its 
population) ; Russia proper is already below the 
average (scarcely 1 per cent.) ; Siberia lower still 
(•3 per cent). It may be noted that as concerns 
primary schools, the Germans of the Baltic, who 
plume themselves so much on their civilizing mission, 
are not much in advance of Siberia. Only 7 per 
cent, of their population are in the schools. From 
this we can form an estimate of their dread of letting 
civilization penetrate among the conquered and dis- 
possessed natives. 

The Russian Government acts towards its people 
in the same way. With a budget of eight hundred 
millions of rubles, it only spends three millions on 
primary schools. The " zemstvo " adds five mil- 
lions to this ridiculous sum ; but even then the 
reader can see to how small an extent the first 
rudiments of knowledge — reading and writing — are 
within reach of the Russian people. 

The statistics of primary education among the 
people can only be guessed at. But we have exact 
returns of the number of young people that can read 
who have been taken for military service. In 1882 
more than 76 per cent, could not read. About 20 
per cent, of the peasant and artisan conscripts may 
be reckoned as knowing how to read. Slow as it 
is, there is already some little progress here, since 
in 1870 only 11 per cent, of the conscripts knew 
how to read, and in 1868 only 8 per cent. 

Insignificant as are the means of education within 
reach of. the people, they use them with great ardour. 


The Russian is very impressionable. His intellect 
is asleep ; but he is not stupid. Education, say the 
people, is the light ; ignorance, the darkness, and 
they long for teaching. They give attentive ear to 
the words of skilled men, observe closely every new 
fact. Public lectures, given to the artisans of St 
Petersburg and the environs in 1880-3, were attended 
by over 50,000 people. In the museums of Moscow 
and of St. Petersburg few visitors are so observant 
as the artisan, small shopkeeper, and the like. For 
instance, if you go on a holiday to the entrance of 
the Roumiantsov Museum in Moscow, you will see 
a crowd of working-people waiting patiently, long 
before the time of opening, for the appointed hour. 
Woe to you if by chance you enter into conversation 
with a workman ! He will not leave you ; he asks 
minute questions about everything he sees, from the 
skeleton of a whale to a piece of machinery. Thanks 
to this desire for education, what is called " work 
away from home " (" otkhojie promysly ") must be 
looked upon as a most powerful agent in the educa- 
tion of the people. 

The "otkhojie promysly " are temporary absences 
from their own villages of workmen who emigrate 
in search of employment. This is done on a very 
large scale. Every year, scores and even hundreds 
of thousands of workmen, before the work in the 
fields begins, invade the railway stations and journey 
south, towards those fertile steppes where the 
magnificent meadows and harvests need ten times 
as many workers as the indigenous population can 
supply. There, also, in the ports of the Black Sea 
and of the Sea of Azov, the workers find employment 


in the lading of ships. In the north, the " otkhojie 
promysly " are due to the rafts of drift-wood and the 
like. When the summer work and that of shipping 
are over, just the opposite phenomenon is to be 
seen. The stream of workers sets into the towns, 
to work there in factories, at carting, etc. 

Some idea of the magnitude of the " otkhojie 
promysly " may be formed from one or two figures. 
St. Petersburg alone contains more than 200,000 of 
these workmen ; there are in Moscow more than 
250,000. It is the same in the other large towns. 1 

This great multitude does not break its connection 
with the villages of its birth. Many peasants pass 
the winter in the towns and return home when the 
time for working in the fields has come. Others 
have their families living in the villages. Yet 
others live in the towns, even with wife and children, 
but only for so long a time as is necessary for the 
amassing of a small capital by which they can start 
again in the village the establishment they have left 
for a while. Finally others, whilst they live in the 
towns, visit from time to time their relations in the 
villages. The influence of the " skilled men " on 
the peasants is enormous. Through them, a mass 

1 There come to St. Petersburg and Moscow, in search of 
work, from the governments of — 

Moscow . . . ei*5 per cent, of the male population. 
Iaroslav ... 12*3 „ „ „ 

Tver .... 5-0 „ „ „ 

Other governments near 5*0 „ ,, „ 

The women more rarely leave their villages. But the government 
of Iaroslav sends to St. Petersburg and Moscow 2*5 per cent, of 
its female population ; Tver Province 2 per cent. It 
must not be forgotten that there are besides many peasants who 
go to other places. (See Ianson: " Statistics," vol. i. pp. 369, 370.) 


of knowledge of the most varied kind, and new 
ideas, habits, needs, enter the village. These habits 
are not always good ones. The factory-hand often 
becomes spoilt ; gets in the habit of haunting cafes, 
and makes acquaintance with prostitutes. On the 
other hand, he brings back to the village acquisitions 
that could not be picked up at the official school. 
He is used to an independent life, to the free dis- 
posal of himself. It is no wonder that in his turn 
he becomes the pet of the girls and the " mould of 
form" for the young men. It is no wonder that he 
is gorlan (a brawler), head of the opposition to the 
M stariks " (elders of the village) in the meetings, and 
contemptuous of the authority of the " bolchaks " in 
the family. 

Under the influence of these different causes, the 
knowledge of their-ri°-hts awakens and grows in the 
ranks of the people, undermining the old patriarchal 
rdgime and preparing the way for a new and more 
humane form. One only of the many signs of this 
awakening I will quote, the one especially deplored 
of the conservatives. It is the family sharings-up, 
against which the Government of Alexander II. is 
beginning to take legislative measures. The old 
"great family" is disappearing. The yoke which 
their fathers and grandfathers bore with patience, 
the younger generation find unbearable. As soon 
as he is married, the peasant makes haste to separate 
himself from the family and set up housekeeping 
on his own account. The wife plays a very import- 
ant part in this change of custom — a fact certainly 
not astonishing if the state of the woman in the " old 
family " is borne in mind. Her instinct of indepen- 


dence can no longer adapt itself to the old fetters. 
Our village tribunals receive numbers of complaints 
from the women against the oppression of their 
husbands and of the older members of the family. 
When complaints and protests are unavailing, the 
wife acts. 

The songs of these latter days throw a vivid 
light on this struggle. The wife declares that she 
is no longer the submissive creature of former times. 

" A maiden I, 
I got me married with no childish mind." 

She assumes the defensive. She gives blow for 
blow. She answers the insults of the old people by 
insults ten times as great. To their grumblings she 
responds : 

rt Father-in-law, up in the loft, 
Is like a dog tied up with string ; 
Mother-in-law, hard by the stove, 
Is like another, tied up too." 

As a matter of course such a crime of hio-h-treason 
must be punished ; but the wife, in her defence, 
does not stop at the most extreme measures — 

" You squint horribly ; 
I'm not afraid of you ; 
You dare not knock me down," 

says she to her husband. And when the row 
breaks out,* she defends herself valiantly. 

" The husband let out with his hand, 
And boxed his wife upon the ear ; 
The wife she let out with her hand, 
And hit him right across the face." 

In a word, the wife makes such a hell of the 
family that the old people themselves are inclined 


to beg the young ones to go away. The young 
household takes its departure, builds a separate 
"izba," obtains a plot of land. And this is going 
on from one extremity of Russia to the other. 

In Moscow Province (excepting the 
town of Moscow itself) the population has increased 
8 per cent from 1858 to 188 1, whilst the number of 
separate establishments has in the same time in- 
creased 40 per cent. The number of the peasants 
in the province of Dankov (Riazan Province) 
has increased in the same time 26 per cent. ; the 
number of establishments, 87 per cent. 

The change is noticeable even in the most distant 
parts of the country. In the province of Mor- 
chansk, an increase of 23 per cent, in the number 
of peasants is accompanied by an increase of 55 per 
cent, in the number of separate establishments. 1 

The splitting up of the families is among the 
most important phases in the life of the peasant 
of to-day. It is creating an altogether new type 
of village. We have already seen that the same 
generation which is breaking up the " old family " is 
showing an energetic tendency to keep up the com- 
munal tenure of the soil, which thus loses the last 
traces of its archaic origin. On the other hand, 
these splittings up weaken the working force of the 
families and do great injury to the peasant house- 
holds. Everybody complains of them. But ought 
not these very divisions to bring home to the peasants 
the necessity of a free association in place of the 
obligatory association of the " great family " now 
moribund ? 

1 Chein : " Great Russian Songs," vol. L 





Chap. I. — Is there any other organic force in Russia than the 
people and the tsar ? — The Muscovite autocracy, and its part in 
history. — Its degeneration into tyranny. — The tsars try to concen- 
trate around them the upper classes, tamed. 

Chap. II. — The Russian clergy.— Church organization. ��� The 
part played by our clergy as police. — Black and white clergy. — 
Tyranny of the black clergy. — Absence of moral influence. — Per- 
secution of the raskol. — Tolstoi's clergy. — Nihilism carries off 
the flower of the ecclesiastical youth. — The real clergy and the 
imperial policy. 

Chap. III. — The old princely aristocracy. — Our Russian no- 
bility. — Its reinforcement from the pJebs. — The chin. — General 
effeteness of our nobility. — Ancient privileges and serfdom. — 
The horrors of serfdom. — Serf revolts. — The nobility's function 
as civilizer. — Introduction into Russia of the ideas of Western 
Europe. — The nobility and the ukase of emancipation. — What it 
ought to do, and what it does. — Liberal nobility. 

Chap. IV. — The bourgeoisie. — Bourgeoisie of the towns. — Our 
capitalism. — No third estate in Russia. — Primitive accumulation. 
— Frauds and thefts the source of fortunes. — Business jobbers. — 
The village bourgeoisie : koulaks and miroieds. 


Is there any other organic force in Russia than the people and 
the tsar? — The Muscovite autocracy, and its part in history. 
— Its degeneration into tyranny. — The tsars try to concen- 
trate around them the upper classes, tamed. 

The mass of the people has detained us for some 
time. In thus dwelling upon them, we have only done 
that which all who study the Russia of the present 
time must do. The importance of the masses of the 
people, the consequence of their enormous numerical 
superiority and of their moral condensation, strikes 
every observer at once. In the Russian publications, 
especially in the works of the Slavophiles, the state- 
ment often occurs, that "among us there is no inde- 
pendent force other than that of the people and that 
of the tsar." This opinion, although exaggerated, 
has a certain amount of truth in it. It shows the 
relative weakness of the upper classes. 

Although in old Russia — the Russia of the princi- 
palities — the landed aristocracy and the business 
class had been able to come into being and to 
develop, the crisis of the invasions and wars gave, 
in the 12th and 13th centuries, a definite blow, as 
Ave have said, to this initiation and to this develop- 
ment. The whole of the old social order was 



shaken to its foundation, without hope of any pos- 
sible consolidation. 

The bourgeoisie lost their wealth. The princely 
aristocracy, whose dissensions had weakened Russia, 
lost for ever their prestige. Their rule remained in 
the eyes of the people henceforth a synonym of dis- 
order, of civil war, of mean tyranny. At the same 
time, as we have seen, the necessity for national in- 
dependence led to the idea of condensation, organi- 
zation, unity. 1 The development of volostnoe 
samo-upravlenie (self-government of the 
"volosts") among the people grew stronger and 
stronger. Incapable of organizing the State them- 
selves, the people supported with energy the first 
who, already in possession of power, showed them- 
selves capable of exterminating the aristocracy and 
of giving unity to Russia. 

This was the part played by the Muscovite 
princes, who soon took the name of tsars. 

The Muscovite house of the Danilovichs (or of 
Ivan Kalita) became so lost in the ranks of the quite 
secondary princely families that it was indistinguish- 
able from them. The Muscovite princes were 
above all landed proprietors (" votchinniki "). They 
thought first of all of their own interests, those of 
their families and of their property. But the geo- 
graphical situation of Moscow made this town the 
centre of operations in the struggle between the 
Russians and the Tartars. Thanks to this fact, 
Moscow became the rallying-point of patriots and 
statesmen, of all the living forces of Russia. These 
men, gathering round the Muscovite princes, gave 
1 Book iii., page 105. 


their policy a rare wisdom, a prudence and firmness, 
that soon caused the eyes of all the people to be 
fixed upon these princes. With a firm hand they 
carried out the great national work of Russian 
unification by destroying the princely aristocracy. 
Seeing this firmness of hand, the people everywhere 
gave support to Moscow. Even the regions subject 
to the authority of the merchant republic of Novgorod 
betrayed their capital ; and the Government of the 
republic in vain uttered threats against its own sub- 
jects to prevent them from going over to Moscow. 

A century later, Russia unified was able to begin 
the work of her own deliverance. 

It is not to be denied then that the Muscovite 
aristocracy has been of great service to Russia. It 
is, in fact, clear, that the tsars could only carry out 
the work of freeing the nation by virtue of an 
absolute and illimitable dictatorship. The govern- 
ment of the tsars, however, had very few elements 
for making a moral unity between it and the people 
possible. On the contrary, there were the germs of 
a fundamental contradiction between the authority 
of the State — as the result of its historic develop- 
ment — and the inevitable development of the masses 
of the people. 

The Muscovite State came into being at the time 
when history was beginning to make of Russia a 
" country of peasants." • 

The people, under the influence of the colonizing 
labor and movement, — under the stimulus, in fine, 
of the crude experiments they were making, — began 

1 Kostomarov : " History of Novgorod, Pskov, and Viatka,"' 
pp. 70, 71, 78, 127, 128, 135, 141, etc. 


organizing on the basis of communal holding. The 
old patriarchal organization (by family and clan) 
received its first shock. In a confused sort of way 
the people tried to recognise the principle of the 
will of the people, of the public weal. A hundred 
and fifty to two hundred years after, there could be 
no longer any doubt as to the direction the popular 
development had taken ; the rural commune and the 
Cossack organization gave striking instances of this. 

What could the Muscovite State have in common 
with an evolution of this kind ? 

It owed its origin to the old methods of landed 
property and the traditions of the clans (" votchinno- 
semeinoie natchalo"). It could not, as is self- 
evident, abandon itself. The interest of the tsar's 
family, the interests of their followers ("dvornia") 
naturally held the first place in the thoughts of the 
Muscovite State. For the tsars, the interests of 
Russia were identical with the interest of their grow- 
ing estates ; the well-being of the people, with the 
flourishing condition of their domains. The tsars 
and boyards might at times serve the people's 
interest ; their agitations might even at times 
coincide with those new tendencies that were 
gradually taking possession of all the people. But 
still more frequently the Government, true to its 
own line of development, opposed that of the people, 
and, whether involuntarily or with full knowledge 
of what it was doing, used every effort to put an end 
to that development. 

Only, the tsars were to some extent aware of this 
divergence ; the people were not. These, scattered 
over enormous areas, taken up with their painful 


struggle for existence, were able to exercise no 
control over the acts of the Government, could not 
very well understand the course it was taking, and, 
if they supported the tsars, did not approve their 
policy in detail. The people only supported in the 
tsars the one popular authority that was equally 
above every one. The sentiment of democratic 
equality made the mass of the people sympathize 
with the tsars and help them in their work of putting 
an end to the privileged classes. Were the tsars 
always the champions of equality ? The people 
fully believed so without inquiry or examination. 
Here was one of those many illusions that got the 
mastery of the untutored popular mind, and have ere 
this made so many Caesars in history. 

Thanks to this unconditional support of the 
masses, and to their impotence to hold the aristo- 
cracy in check by their own power, the authority 
of the tsars takes on the appearance of an immense 
and independent political force. The tsar does 
what he likes, because the people always give him 
their support, even when what he does strikes a 
blow at the interests of the people. There is only 
one thing the tsar would never be able to do, even 
if he wished — limit his own authority by that of any 
privileged class whatever. The people would recog- 
nise no compromise of this kind and at once would 
put an end to it ; for the tsar, relying on the people, 
could, when such was his good pleasure, begin again 
to act after his own sweet will and fancy. Thus 
the restrictions that the boyards imposed on the 
Romanovs became at once null and void, as soon as 
the tsars took it into their heads to get rid of them. 

vol. 1. p 


All the earlier half of the 1 8th century, filled with 
palace revolts, gave our nobility many a favorable 
opportunity of limiting the power of the autocracy. 
But the results of these attempts show us that the 
nobles could only change the tsars, or even kill them, 
but could not formally limit their power, even 
according to the most elementary notions of the 
rights of man. 

Thenceforward, the Russian autocracy had every 
facility to degenerate into a veritable tyranny. It 
seems unnecessary even to give examples of the 
absurd despotism to which it attained. Ivan the 
Terrible killed his own son ; he killed the metro- 
politan Philip, whom the Church canonized; he killed 
men by tens, by hundreds, by thousands. All these 
murders were unpunished. Only eighty years ago 
they had to suffocate another tyrant-madman, who 
proved that a return to the time of Ivan the Terrible 
was no impossibility in the Russia of this century, 
Russia Europeanized ! The caprices of Paul I. are 
notable for their extravagance. I am not speaking 
of the torture, the exilings, the confiscations. All 
these are inherent in despotic rule. But Paul I. 
regulated by ukase the dress of his subjects ; he 
decreed that certain words of the language were 
not to be used ; his fancies, sometimes of a bloody 
nature, could not in many cases be put into decent 
language. Once, at a court-ball, an officer by acci- 
dent tore the empress's train. The emperor flew 
into a passion. He sent for the criminal and began 
abusing him. Then growing more and more warm, 
he roared, " Turn him out of the army ! " This 
decree failed to calm him. Shouting at the top of 


his voice, he said to one of the high officials, " Send 
him out of St. Petersburg at once." Then, still 
pouring forth a torrent of abuse, and growing more 
and more angry, he went on ; " Let him be banished 
to his own estate." 

" Sire," one of the ministers observed, " he has no 

" Then give him one with three hundred men on 
it ! " 

This was the final form of the decree. The officer 
had his three hundred peasants. 

It is difficult to disentangle in all this the em- 
peror's rage, the emperor's benevolence, and the end 
the emperor wanted to attain. 

I am not aware to what extent this story can be 
believed, but si non e vero e ben trovato ; for it sums 
up his rule. 

The defenders of the Russian monarchy use every 
endeavour to show that it and despotism are not 
one and the same thino-. But if the Russian 


autocracy is not despotism, despotism does not exist. 
In the Mussulman tyrannies there is at least a 
" chariat." In Russia, the Emperor Nicolas I. 
sends his ministerial council the heads of certain 
transactions with a note something in this style : u I 
ask Messieurs my ministers to read this and to be 
assured that in cases of this kind we cannot act 
according to the laws." 1 In the most favourable cir- 
cumstances the law holds good only in so far as the 
imperial ordinances allow, and, in point of fact, the 
arbitrary power of the tsar is only limited by physical 

1 Russian translation of Lorentz' History, with Appendix by 


obstacles or social and economic conditions that 
nothing can modify. 

This characteristic of the political authority that is 
the result of the Moscow and St. Petersburg periods, 
makes that authority a very convenient instrument 
for political intrigue. If any class in the country had 
a really solid basis, it would not put up with such 
a form of government as the Russian autocracy. 
Moreover, the Russian tsars constantly quarrelled 
with their boyards, 1 who had not yet forgotten the 
part they had formerly played in Russia. When the 
old families finally lost their prestige or were for the 
most part extinct, the whole of Russia was, in a 
sense, reduced to a dead level. From that time to 
the present no class was capable of ruling the people 
by its own strength. 

However, the natural splitting-tip of the people 
into classes took place in Russia as everywhere else ; 
and these classes or their embryos always found in 
the authority of the autocrats an instrument and a 
sustainer of their own forces. 

As regards the tsars and the emperors, one is 
always conscious of the anomaly between the State 
they have created and that which logically ought to 
ba born of the social ideas of the people. Doubtless 
the latter have not developed their institutions so 
far that they can draw from them any general con- 
clusion. The tsars, however, seem to see that this 

1 I call by this generic name all those remnants of the old 
landed aristocracy who, after losing their rights of sovereignty, 
attached themselves to the Muscovite tsars in the capacity of 
councillors and aids in government matters. In the 16th century 
the number of these families was about 2co. 


conclusion is inevitable, and are trying to secure 
themselves against it beforehand by preparing for 
themselves a firm support in the privileged classes, 
who, to keep the people in check, would be obliged, 
for their own sake, to maintain the authority of the 
tsar. The autocrats have not had to dread these 
classes as rivals hitherto. Besides, independently 
of their own deliberate efforts, the concentration 
around their throne of the privileged classes occurred 
as a matter of course, and then, as logical conse- 
quence, came the influence of these classes on the 
tsars. These last were far removed from the people, 
and the nobles and rich folk were by their side. The 
absence of all control over what they did gave full 
liberty to any individual personal influence over 
them. Further, we see in Russia every one having 
recourse — and with success — to the protection of the 
tsar ; nobility, clergy, bourgeoisie. The Government 
lends to these constant support, develops zealously 
their forces, and, what is yet more important, em- 
ploys its authority on their behalf to crush out all 
resistance, all protest on the part of the people. 
It is, e.g. beyond a doubt that to the trust of the 
people in the tsars the nobility owe the fact that 
they have not been massacred by the peasants a 
score of times. The people put up with the nobles 
only because they imagine that through them the 
tsar will accomplish something of use to the people 

The history of our upper classes is thus rigidly 
bound up with the policy of the tsars, whilst at the 
same time the State is continually under the in- 
fluence of the privileged classes, remaining their 


protector only, without ever becoming their repre- 
sentative — a part easy to play with the help of the 
forces provided by the trust of the masses of the 


The Russian clergy. — Church organization. — The part played by 
our clergy as police. — Black and white clergy. — Tyranny 
of the black clergy. — Absence of moral influence. — Perse- 
cution of the raskol.— Tolstoi's clergy. — Nihilism carries off 
the flower of the ecclesiastical youth. — The real clergy and 
the imperial policy. 

Let us now examine a little more closely the 
character and condition of our upper classes. 

I begin with the clergy, although they have no 
greater importance than any of the other classes. 

The Russian Church has never attained the de- 
gree of strength and importance that the Catholic 
has enjoyed. To such an extent is it dependent 
on the State that, even among its clergy, voices are 
at times raised bemoaning that " the Church is in 
captivity in Babylon." 

The supreme power of the Russian Church is 
centred in the Synod, composed of certain arch- 
bishops nominated by the Government. This fact 
alone deprives it of all independence. The Synod 
is forced to conform to the orders of the Govern- 
ment, the more so as the emperor is also to a certain 
extent, even according to the ecclesiastical statutes, 
the head of the Church. 1 

1 In the 1 6th century the Government itself, with a political 
end, created the patriarchate in the Church. By this it freed the 


The Synod has no political power ; it takes no 
part in the government of the State. It deals with 
politics only when the Government wants it to 
do so. E.g. the Church fulminated solemn maledic- 
tions against the different enemies of the tsar (the 
impostor Otrepiev, the insurgent Stenka Razine, 
the traitor Mazeppa, etc.) The popes have orders 
to preach against the aspirations of the people 
towards the division of the land, against the 
socialists, etc. After the assassination of Alex- 
ander II., the Church added to the ordinary prayers 
a special one : " Let us beseech the Lord that He 
exterminate these our fierce enemies who fashion 

This then is the political office of the Church. It 
will be seen that it is that of an employe, a police- 
man. And this becomes yet clearer, when it is 

Russian Church from the influence of the patriarchate of Con- 
stantinople. The centralized Church showed some tendency 'o 
mix itself up with State affairs. Certain patriarchs, as Hermo- 
gene, Filarete, Nikon, played very important political parts. In 
Nikon's time, the Russian Church made pretensions that remind 
us of the Curia Romana. But these pretensions came to a sad 
end, for the Church. The people made a formidable protest 
against its despotism — the schism (" raskol.") On its part, the 
Government, whilst it attacked the "raskol," exiled Nikon. Then 
Peter the Great, to crush out once for all the political leanings of 
the Church, abolished the patriarchate and founded the Synod. 
In the middle of the i8th century, the Government confiscated 
all the landed property of the convents, and assigned them a fixed 
rent. The Church's independence was for ever destroyed. Thus 
the history of the Church undergoes the same vicissitudes as that 
of the nobility. The Church gains a political power, enormous 
to outward seeming, but only in so far as the tsar wills or allows 
it. The first tsar who wants to abolish that power, will do this 
without difficulty. 


known that all the ecclesiastical services are sub- 
ject to a strict censorship, and that models of 
sermons even are sent to the popes. Sometimes 
the intervention of the clergy takes on a very 
shameful character — that of playing the spy. So 
ereat is the humiliation of the Church that, in some 
cases, the priest is obliged, by the very order of the 
Synod, to " make a report " to the police as to what 
is revealed to him in confession. 1 

The causes of this disastrous position of the 
Russian Church, even within its own organization, 
must be investigated to some extent. 

The clergy are not made up of men subject to 
an authoritative power, rigidly bound together and 
knowing no interests other than those of their order. 
They are divided into the black (regular) clergy, 
and the white (secular) clergy. 2 The black clergy 
are the Basilian monks, the only order in Russia. 
The white clergy, who carry out all the religious 
services and administer all the sacraments, are 
obliged to have a family. An unmarried man 
cannot be ordained priest. Hence the secular 
clergy are not outside society and the people, but 
are, on the other hand, held in bondage by all those 
material needs that press so heavily on a man who 
has a family to support. Moreover, all the wealth 

1 This report has to be made in all cases where the priest 
believes that the penitent has not abandoned his criminal in- 

- According to the return of the Procureur General of the Holy 
Synod, in 1882, there were 566 convents, 10,709 monks and lay 
brothers, 18,748 nuns; total 29,457. The Diocesan Gazette of 
Penza, 1S84, Xo. 21. The secular clergy and their families may 
be reckoned at about 570,000 souls (" Ianson's Statistics "). 


of the Church is concentrated in the hands of monks, 
who have charge, at the same time, of the high 
ecclesiastical offices. The monks alone can become 
archbishops. Thus all the dioceses are in their 

This clerical aristocracy treats the white clergy 
with the greatest contempt. In his own diocese, 
the archbishop is king and pope. His chancellor's 
court, the consistory, disposes of the life of the 
unhappy priest as absolutely as a lord disposes of 
the lives of his serfs. The one thing the priest has 
is his parish. This he receives from the consistory, 
and this he keeps as long as the consistory wills. 
As a consequence, the priest is ready to submit to 
any humiliation to keep in the good graces of his 
archbishop. Abuses and bribery hold sway in the 
consistory. And the priest, the slave whose fate 
and that of his children are in the hands of this 
black aristocracy, must suffer in silence. 

In the old Russian Church, as we said, the 
parishioners themselves chose their priests. But 
this custom has long been abolished. The parish 
has no power even to defend its priest. 1 

Formerly, congresses of the white clergy were 
held, where at least they could say what things 
they wanted. Now these congresses are sup- 
pressed. The priest is no better than the dumb 
slave of the monks. 

Is it possible that in such conditions the priests 
can be remarkable for their civil and moral courage, 

1 Recently, the zemstvo of Moscow asked permission for the 
parishioners to point out which priests they wished to have in their 
parishes. The Government rejected this appeal. 


can have any influence whatever on their parish- 
ioners ? Of course, not. A man of intelligence and 
independence avoids the ecclesiastical profession. 
The clergy, always robbed by the consistory, always 
ready to be put upon, the first necessaries of whose 
lives are never assured, in their turn grind their 
parishioners. This tax, in money or in kind, is at 
times simply revolting. Often a priest refuses to 
bury a corpse before he receives what he asks for. 
He holds out until the corpse begins to decompose, 
and the peasants are obliged to yield to his demands. 
Kindred abuses occur in relation to marriages. 1 
Two years ago, the priest of the village of Svinaia, 
not getting as much money as he asked from his 
parishioners, one day during mass set to work 
praying God to punish his village by plague and 
famine. The peasants, wroth, shut up the church 
and hid the keys. A popular saying has it, " that 
the eyes of the priest are envious, jealous, and his 
hands ready to seize everything he beholds." 

To suppose that our clergy have a moral influence 
on the people is a considerable stretch of simplicity. 
Such influence as may be is yet further weakened 
by an ignominious system of denunciations, that are 
due to the scanty morality of the priests, and the 
constant necessity for them to try and please. De- 
nunciations of every kind, on political, moral, religious 
grounds, became so many and so barefaced that even 
the dignitaries of the Church were obliged to take 
steps to lessen their frequency. This pettifogging, 
spying spirit destroyed completely the credit of the 

1 A marriage, to be legal in Russia, must be performed in a 
i hurch. 


clergy with the people. 1 The want of respect for 
the clergy was one of the most efficient causes of 
the raskol and of the sects. 

I have already said that the raskol began as a 
protest against the reforms of the patriarch Nikon, 
nearly two hundred years ago. Amongst the aims 
of these reforms was that of centralizing the Church, 
of giving more importance to the ecclesiastical 
hierarchy, of getting the white clergy away from 
their dependence on the parish. And — a character- 
istic fact — the first leaders of the raskol came from 
the lower clergy. 2 This connection between the 
inferior clergy and the people is, at long intervals, 
noticeable in the subsequent events. For example, 
at the time of the peasant risings in the 18th and 
19th centuries, the country clergy took a great 
part in the struggle, and ranged themselves on the 
side of the peasants, according to Romanovich 
Slavatinskii. 3 But such facts as these are becom- 
ing more and more rare. As the Church became 
a docile servant of the State, the clergy educated 

1 As a slight specimen of the many protests from the people, I 
will here quote the affair of the peasant Artemenko. He was 
condemned on May 25th, 1882, at Tchiguirine, for having in- 
sulted a priest. The latter denounced Artemenko on the ground 
that he had not presented himself to take the oath of allegiance 
to the new tsar. Artemenko, as people expected, was arrested 
and forced to take the oath. As soon as he was out of prison, he 
went to the church where the priest was preaching, and shouted 
out to him, " You're no shepherd ; you're a venal, mercenary 
fellow." (Golos, July 14, 1882.) 

2 Out of thirty-eight earlier leaders of the schism (" Ency- 
clopedia? Kliouchnikov), twenty-five belonged to the clergy, and 
almost exclusively to the inferior clergy. 

3 Romanovich Slavatinskii : " The Russian Nobility," p. 363. 


themselves down to the police level, and their moral 
value fell. This fact was continually pointed out 
by the schism, who quoted it as a proof that the 
Divine favour was turning from the official Church. 
The clergy could only answer by recourse to the 
support of the police. 

The earlier times of the persecutions of the 
raskol were sullied by certain auto-da-fes, a crime 
almost unknown in Russia. 1 But if condemnations 
to the stake ceased after some years, persecutions of 
another kind went on, always set going by ecclesi- 
astical dignitaries. Even at the present time the 
priests keep watch on the raskolniks, just like police 
officers. They say nothing if the raskolniks pay 
for silence ; but if there is refusal to buy this, the 
priest, aided by the police, opens the campaign. 
Oratories are closed ; old religious books taken 
away ; chiefs of sects arrested. I have myself 
heard the complaints of the judges that the priests 
are a nuisance with their continual denunciations, 
their perpetual asking for warrants of search, arrests, 
and other reprisals — measures repellent to the con- 
science of every honest man to-day. 2 

Side by side with this moral enfeeblement of the 
clergy went the increase in number of the sectarians 

1 Some ecclesiastical voices were raised also in praise of the 
Spanish Inquisition ; they found no echo. Fanaticism of this 
order is opposed to the Russian character. 

2 These facts are true of the time just before Alexander III. 
came to the throne. He granted the raskolniks a little more 
liberty. Still persecution went on. Thus in 1883, the Archbishop 
of Staroobriadtzi, Genadi, was exiled, for having the audacity to 
officiate in his oratory after it had been rebuilt. The raskolniks 
are not yet allowed to build a church without special permission. 


and of the raskolniks. Now there are nearly 
15,000,000 of them. 

During the last twenty years, and especially at 
the time when Count Dmitri Tolstoi was Procureur 
General of the Synod, the Government undertook a 
series of reforms, the aim of which was to improve 
the education of the clergy. In point of fact, the 
new seminaries did prepare a generation of priests 
much better educated than their predecessors. 
And at the same time a blow — perhaps the last — 
was struck at the moral influence of the clergy. 

Formerly, one could come across a priest very 
ignorant, as superstitious as the people of his parish, 
just as stupid and timorous, but a good, simple man, 
at peace with the peasants, and in case of need 
capable of defending the mir. This type is growing 
rarer and more rare. The school of Count Tolstoi', 
whose basis was the system of passive discipline 
of the Jesuits, demanding much less of conviction 
than of the keeping up appearances, demoralized to 
the last degree the rising generation of our clergy. 
Formerly, the priests were at all events not atheists. 
The priests of the Tolstoi school do not trouble 
about believing in God. This new type of hypo- 
critical bigots has for its sole aim the creation of a 
future for itself. An educated man, well-dressed, 
fond of comfort, the new kind of priest is to the 
peasants the keenest, the most insatiable, the most 
pitiless of plunderers. 

Whilst the Tolstoi school were fashioning the new 
priestly type, all the living forces of the ecclesiastical 
youth were longing to desert the ranks of the clergy. 
They were hurrying into the universities. This 


invasion of the universities by the seminarists was 
no stranger even to the development of what is 
called Nihilism. The seminarists, belonging to a 
class as debased as the peasant class, went out from 
that class with a hatred and disgust of the old order 
of things from end to end. Hating with all their 
hearts hypocrisy, they left the ecclesiastical calling, 
sometimes literally by force, and broke away from 
their families. Thus the clergy lost their most 
honest elements ; some by desertion, others by per- 
version at the hands of the new school. 

This moral degradation of the clergy corresponds 
in point of time with the greatest development of 
scientific thought in society. The educated class in 
Russian society has long been notable for its indif- 
ference to religion. You cannot say it detests 
religion. It is indifferent to religion. To be a re- 
ligious person is not the thing. This opinion of 
Russian society as to religion is no new phase. 
But the number of educated persons has grown 
enormously the last twenty or thirty years. In- 
struction is no longer a privilege. Scientific ideas 
by a thousand different avenues are penetrating 
through the whole of Russia to its very heart of 
hearts — the people. 

I have said before, that even among the populace 
there are new sects that approximate more and more 
closely to rationalism. Every day these sects are 
rejecting authority more and more, and giving in 
matters of faith the palm to the reason and con- 
science of man. What a time for the clergy to lose 
once for all the power of exercising over the people 
any moral influence ! Actually then, we ought to 


speak less than ever of clerical influence. Yet, at 
the present time, a certain fact may give it a little 
more strength. The emperor Alexander III., in 
his struggle with the revolutionists, is peering round 
him for all the conservative elements he can find, 
and is trying to gather them together. 

With this end in view, the Government is giving 
the clergy its support. 1 What will be the result of 
this ? This is the more difficult to say, as the 
emperor's policy is as changeable as the sky of 
St. Petersburg. One thing only can be said. In 
Russia all the clergy cannot be maintained. The 
black clergy may be, and then the white clergy will 
be of no importance, as they are now. Or the 
white clergy may be, but then they will aim at a 
revolution in the Church. To maintain the whole 
Church is impossible, because of the antagonism 
between the black and white clericals. Yet this 
latter is precisely the end aimed at by the policy of 
the emperor, and is the very thing that will make 
that policy fruitless. 

1 New convents are being built — thirty in three years, I think; 
ecclesiastical papers started ; measures taken for restoring a chair 
of Christianity ; ecclesiastical relief societies founded ; the attempt 
made to get all primary education into the hands of the clergy, etc. 


The old princely aristocracy. — Our Russian nobility. — Its rein- 
forcement from the plebs. — The chin. — General effeteness 
of our nobility. — Ancient privileges and serfdom. — The 
horrors of serfdom. — Serf revolts. — The nobility's function as 
civilizer. — Introduction into Russia of the ideas of Western 
Europe. — The nobility and the ukase of emancipation. — 
What it ought to do, and what it does. — Liberal nobility. 

The part played by the nobility was much more 
noticeable, influenced the life of the people much 
more deeply. 

I spoke above of the old princely aristocracy. 
It must not be imagined, however, that our nobility 
(dvorianstvo) takes origin from this. Truly in 
the Russian nobility there are a certain number of 
old families, of better birth than even the reigning 
house of the Romanovs. 1 But, as a rule, it has 
nothing in common, as to origin, with the old sove- 
reigns of the country. 

Even the etymology of the word " dvorianstvo " 
gives no notion of sovereignty or of high origin, like 
the words nobility, noblesse, edel. In old times, the 

1 In 1858, according to Prince Dolgorouky's statistics, out of all 
our nobility (600,000 people) only sixty-eight families were de- 
scended from the old sovereign princes. Romanovich — Slavatin- 
skii : " The Russian Nobility." 

VOL. I. 225 Q 


servitors of the prince who were lodged and fed in 
his court (dvor) were called "dvorianie." Amongst 
these there were even slaves. 

For so long a time was no idea of nobility, of 
distinction attached to the word " dvorianstvo," that 
in the 18th century, the eminent publicist Taticht- 
chev thought fit to allow the " dvorianie " who had 
retired from service to become serfs. 1 

Our nobility takes historical origin from the " men 
of service " (slougilie lioudi) to whom the Muscovite 
tsars gave money and estates that they might be 
in a condition to perform military service. 2 These 
" slougilie lioudi " were made up in part of the 
descendants of the ancient prince's guard (droujina), 
of boyards, and of princes who had entered the 
service of Moscow. To a large extent, however, 
they were recruited from adventurers : among the 
Cossacks, Tartars, old brigands, were to be found all 
that were wanted. This mode of recruiting the 
" men of service " from the most plebeian class per- 
sisted later on, when the nobility were already 
beeinnincr to form themselves into a dominant class. 
Thus the celebrated family of the Menchikovs has 
for ancestor a confectioner ; the first Count Razou- 
movskii was a singer ; Siverse, a lacquey. Peter I. 
took functionaries even from among the serfs (Va- 
raksin, Ierchov, Nesterov). Count Iagouginskii was 
the son of the sexton of a Protestant church. 
Fouks went straight from the palace-kitchen, where 

1 Ditiatine: "On the History of Royal Ordinances as to Grants;" 
note 6, in Russian Thought, April, 1885. 

3 These were by preference military, but were also, in excep- 
tional cases, civil functionaries. 


he was chef, into the nobility. Zotov was lacquey 
to Prince Potiomkine and lover of Catherine II. 
before he was ennobled — and so on. The recruiting 
of the nobility from the ranks of the people lasted 
down to our own times, thanks chiefly to the custom 
that a certain grade (chin) and certain decorations 
gave the title of noble. 1 This law was abolished 
only a year ago by Alexander III. 

This service-class, whose members were, like the 
peasants, the slaves of the " great king," seeing that 
it was made up of military men and rich people, 
was nevertheless of some importance in the State. 
That is why the tsars have for so long a time 
depended upon it. Thus the cunning favourite, 
Boris Godounov, in opening up a way to the throne 
and trying to rely upon the lesser nobility in order 
to subdue the boyards, effected the enslavement of 
the peasants to the soil. 2 

Little by little, the privileges of the "men of 
service " grew ; they acquired more and more rights 
over the peasants. 

Landed property (pomiestie), only given in ex- 
change for service and resumed when this ended, 
began to become hereditary, even in the female line. 
Peter the Great ended by regarding it as the 
property of its owner, independently of any services 
he might have rendered. Only, the nobility that 

1 Finally, the grade of State-Councillor and the decoration of 
Vladimir carry with them hereditary nobility. 

- At first, this enslavement did not annul the individual and 
civil rights of the peasants. All that was done was the taking 
away from them the right of changing their place of abode. The 
only object of this measure was to secure regularity in the revenues 
of the nobles. 


Peter the Great for the first time organized into a 
class, were bound to perpetual service of the State, 
quite irrespective of landed property. Those who 
had no estates underwent the service like the rest. 
Besides, according to Peter, service is ranked more 
highly than origin. " The nobility of the chliakhta," 1 
he writes to the senate, " should be qualified by 
capacity." The list of grades 2 founded by Peter I. 
confirms to the grade of the chin both nobility 
and precedence. Peter the Great decreed that 
every noble (to whatever family he belonged) should 
salute and give precedence to every officer. Later 
on, when external marks of distinction (rich dresses, 
the number of horses in their teams, etc.) were 
created for the nobles, all these marks were as- 
signed to the chin, in such a way, e.g. that a 
princess descended from Rurik, but whose husband 
had not reached the grade of chin, might not 
wear velvet dresses, and if she wore silk ones, the 
material was not to cost two rubles a metre. 3 

Yet, compulsory service, however burdensome, 
assured the nobility of the first place in the State, 
and the more easily as the ease of access to this 
class caused a large number of able parvenus to 
enter it. 

However one may estimate the results of Russian 

1 For some time a good name for the new class arising could 
not be found. Sometimes they were called in Polish tongue 
"chliakhta"; sometimes "dvorianie." By degrees, after fifty 
years, the latter name was definitely adopted. 

3 Said to have been drawn up from an idea of Leibnitz, of 
whom Peter I. took counsel. See Romanovich-Slavatinskii : " The 
Russian Nobility." 

3 See Romanovich-Slavatinskii: "The Russian Nobility." 


history in the 18th century, it is impossible not to 
admire the superabundant energy, the brilliant mili- 
tary and administrative talents, the force of character 
shown by Russia during this time. Thanks to the 
" list of grades," and the many revolutions of the 
palace, these talents swelled the noble class. They 
gave eclat and an appearance of stability to the idle 
and ignorant mass of the nobles properly so-called, 
the old men of service. The principle of desert 
had not then vanished; it constantly put impedi- 
ments in the way of the principle of descent. The 
" dvorianstvo," a class created by service, could not 
transform itself into an administrative class. It 
intrigued for individual rights, sought after the re- 
compenses and privileges of service, but understood 
nothing of the efforts the Government were making 
to turn it into a hard and fast ruling class. The 
Government had to force the " dvorianstvo " to take 
measures for the safe-guarding its prestige, its very 
existence. The Government decreed compulsory edu- 
cation for the nobles. So little did these understand 
their own interests, that they obstinately shunned 
education. The Government had to watch them 
like so many schoolboys. 1 The Government con- 
cerned itself in their education down to the most 
ridiculous detail. Peter the Great, e.g. gave out as 

1 The young nobles were compelled to come up for examina- 
tion at Moscow or St. Petersburg, at seven years of age, at twelve, 
at sixteen, and at twenty. A noble who had not passed the last 
examination, was forced to join the navy as a common sailor, with- 
out promotion. By means of measures thus severe, the Government 
forced them to educate themselves. See Romanovich-Slavatinskii : 
"The Russian Nobility/' p. 126. 


an ordinance to the nobles, that " they should not 
lie down in bed without first taking- off their boots 
and shoes. 1 

The nobility understood no better the other de- 
fensive measures of the Government. The latter 
founded the " majorat," to preserve the domains of 
the nobles from being broken up. So obstinate a re- 
sistance did the nobles make to this measure, that 
after some years it had to be withdrawn. Later 
on, the nobles treated just as badly the right of self- 
government the Government placed in their hands. 
Not only they did not hurry themselves to enjoy 
this right, but they looked upon it as a duty that was 
troublesome and even degrading. The emperors 
had to compel them by a series of decrees not to 
abstain from the elections and the fulfilment of 
duties that self-government necessitated. 2 These 
ukases were of little use. " The nobility," writes 
M. Ditiatine, " care nothing for the interests of the 
zemstvo or for their own interests as a body." 

In the same way, the nobility have not been able 
to impose upon the people their economic rule. 
Generally speaking, the landed proprietors (pomiecht- 
chiks) made profit out of their peasants in two 
ways ; either they levied on them a tax (obrok), and 
then left them at liberty to carry on their exploita- 
tions as they would ; or else they cultivated their 
estates themselves, and then the peasants were 
obliged to give free labor (barshchina). The 
second system alone clearly was capable, if properly 

1 Romanovich-Slavatinskii : "The Russian Nobility," p. 5. 

2 The ukase of 1802, the ordinance of 1827, the law of 1831, 
the ukase of 1848. 


developed, of keeping the production of the peasants in the hands of the proprietors, and with that giving 
the latter the upper hand in economics. But so badly did the owners deal with their rural domains, 
that not only the system of gratuitous labor (barshchina) did not grow — it fell into actual decay. By 
the end of the 18th century, 44 per cent, of all the peasant serfs were under the regime of the tax. 
About the middle of the 19th, their number, instead of having diminished, had risen to 49 per cent.

{_{ Semevskii : "The Peasants under Catherine II.," pp. 48, 49. 
The figures quoted refer to thirteen governments. There are no statistics for the other governments. }_}

On the other hand, the peasants compelled to give free labor (barshchinnie) did not lose their economic 
independence ; they did not become mere laborers (batraki), but went on tilling their own fields by the 
side of their master's. Finally, the dvorianstvo remained always what it was at the outset, a class of state 
servitors. It held all places in the administration, and yet, in spite of its enormous privileges, showed itself 
quite incapable of acquiring over the people a durable organic authority. 

As to the privileges of the governing class, they were really unlimited. Empresses and emperors 
showed no signs of greed in this respect. The nobility received exclusive right to hold land, and 
exclusive right to own men. Peter III abolished the compulsory service of the nobles. The empress, 
Catherine II, confirmed this decree and moreover gave up to them the local administration [ID??]. Then it 
was that the Russian tsars began to call themselves "The First Gentlemen", an expression that was a 
mere parody borrowed from Europe, and without meaning in Russia. In order to give more splendour 
to the nobles, titles such as count and baron were also borrowed from Europe ; decorations, coats 
of arms were invented. The history of the transformation of the dvorianstvo into a superior 
class often calls to mind a masquerade ; e.g. in Russia they had no idea of what a coat of arms 
was. Many of the Russian nobles owe their rank, not to their merits or their chin, but to the 
Polish Jews who manufactured for them titles of nobility and heraldic quarterings. 

{_{ At Berdichev [??ggr] and other towns there were places for the making of these titles and quarterings. Often 
the titles of nobility went at a very low rate ; 1 ruble. }_}

The grants of the tsars to the nobles, grants of thousands and hundreds of thousands of peasants, 
are a fact of much more importance than these follies. It is not possible to give an exact account 
of these grants, but such details as the historian has managed to get, already give promise of enormous 
figures. Thus, for the period between Peter the Great and Paul, there is evidence in respect to 
1,243,000 peasants (not counting women) given to the nobles, besides the totally illegal extension of 
serfdom over whole regions, in the Ukraine, etc. 

{_{ Karnovich : "Large Fortunes in Russia." These documents 
only relate to a part of the grants. }_}

With the like prodigality the imperial hands gave to the nobles gold from the State treasury. The 
empress, Catherine II, gave to her lovers and to those that took part in the coup d'Etat that placed 
her on the throne, at least 200 millions of rubles, reckoning them at the present-day value. 1 

{_{ 48,520,500 rubles then. All these figures only represent an insignificant part of the actual gifts. }_}

In their service, the nobles moreover received enormous sums, not as honorariums (these were not large) but 
as illegal payments (dokhody). Thus, e.g. at the beginning of this century, one regiment of cavalry 
brought in a yearly income of 100,000 rubles to its colonel. 

{_{ Karnovich : "Large Fortunes in Russia". }_}

It is not astonishing that the court and the service attracted the nobility. These were a 
cornucopia from which the emperors, for a whole century, rained down upon the nobility a stream of 
gold, in the hope that the favoured class would thus bourgeon out fully and become at last an inexpugnable 
stay "of king and country". At last, however, the emperors lost their illusions on this point. 
The natural laws of national development brought the nobility to decay by the very extension of 
their privileges. 

The rights of the nobles over the peasants were modified in detail several times. During a certain 
period, the nobles had the power of condemning their peasants to hard labor for such time as seemed 
good to them. Later, this right was taken from them ; the Government, in fact, abandoned the 
peasants bodily to the despotism of the nobles, and these last committed terrible abuses. 

In the time of Alexander I, who called himself a republican, the following comi-tragedy took place at 
St. Petersburg. 

The Countess Saltykov had the misfortune to become bald. To hide this failing, she wore a wig. She 
shuddered at the thought that her secret might be discovered. To prevent discovery she hit upon 
the device of placing in her bedroom a cage, in which she shut up her hairdresser, and from which 
she never let him go out. The miserable man passed three years in this cell. He grew old and 
bent, terrible to see. At length he managed to break his cage and escape. The countess is in 
despair. The secret of her baldness hangs on a thread. Overwhelmed by her misfortune, she seeks 
out the emperor, tells him all about it, and begs him to give orders for the hairdresser to be recovered at 
all costs. Alexander has inquiries made, and receives from the police a report as to the terrible life 
of the hairdresser. Then the emperor, the well-beloved emperor, as they call him, gives orders not 
to search for the hairdresser, and to make to the countess, "in order to calm her", an official report 
that the corpse of her serf has been found in the Neva.

{_{ Semevskii: "The Peasants under Catherine II". }_} 

That is the way in which nobles and tsars treat the people. 

Many cases have been proved in which proprietors plied a regular trade in young peasant girls, 
whom they sold to brothels. Gangs of serfs were taken like so many slaves to the southern markets, 
where Armenian merchants bought them for the purpose of exportation to Turkey. As to the 
harems of the masters — it is superfluous to speak of them here. We need only remind the reader 
that their generous Slav hospitality prompts them to place these harems at the disposal of their friends. 

There is not an abomination of infamy of which the nobility has not been guilty under the regime of 
serfdom. The punishments inflicted on the serfs in many cases surpass all the horrors recounted by 
Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe. The Princess Kozlovskii ordered her lacqueys to be stripped naked 
and tied to a post, and then a pack of dogs let loose upon them ; or even compelled young girls to whip 
with rods the unfortunate thus strung up. Sometimes, beside herself with passion, she would seize 
the rod and beat the miserable man on his genital organs. A certain gentleman ordered the soles of 
the feet of one of his servitors to be burnt, to punish him for drowning two small doofs?? his wife had been 
ordered to suckle. 

{_{ The reader will find a large number of these horrible facts in the works of those that treat of the 
history of serfdom. Those just quoted are taken from the historian, Semevskii. }_}

I will spend no more time on these abominations, that cover the Russian name with shame. I 
will confine myself to saying, at all of these abuses the gorge of the people rises the more, as the nobles 
are not the conquerors of the country, and have not sufficient strength to hold it in bondage. Their 
cruelties were not frightful, nor did they cause alarm ; they seemed simply hideous, for they had not even 
as excuse the ri^ht of the strongest. 

The burning hate of the people is then easily comprehensible. 

Even now, twenty-five years after the abolition of serfdom, the peasants speak with indignation of the 
times when "nobles exchanged men for dogs" ; even now the peasants are ready for any violence 
against the nobles. When serfdom prevailed, assassinations of the proprietors and of their stewards 
were almost habitual. In the last twenty years of the reign of Nicolas I, 268 cases of this kind are 
on record, and this official number is far below the truth. Risings of the whole of a village, or the 
whole of a volost, were yet more common. In the same twenty years, Semevskii estimates the num- 
ber of these peasant outbreaks at four hundred and twenty.

{_{ Semevskii : "The Peasants under Catherine II", p. 375. }_}

The violence of the people in their defence against the excesses of the nobles was the only 
check on the despotism of the masters. Especially in the last years of serfdom, these outbursts took on 
an extremely cruel character, and were accompanied by mutilation of stewards, assassinations of proprietors, 
all kinds of excesses. And the Emperor Alexander II was perfectly right, when he said to 
the nobility of Moscow, in 1856 : "It will be better to abolish serfdom by a measure coming from above, 
than to wait for the time when it will abolish itself from below." 

{_{ Ivanioukov : "The Downfall of Serfdom," p. 8.}_}

Thus the privileges granted the nobility, far from helping to consolidate their authority over the 
people, rendered this authority, on the contrary, wholly impossible. 

The spread of education struck a new blow at the nobility. The number of educated men capable of 
serving the State increased ; and the nobility, even as a service-class, lost their last raison d'etre. 

Besides, with the spread of education, there appeared, in a nobility composed of parvenus, an ever-growing 
number of individuals who, in the name of the people's interests, cursed alike the nobility 
and the tsars, their creators and maintainers. The number of revolutionaries and democrats from the 
noble class is veritably astonishing. What is called the plot of the Decembrists (1825) [ID??], recruited its 
adherents almost exclusively from the nobles, and further, had as its aim the abolition of serfdom 
quite as much as the promulgation of a constitution. The general state of the country outweighed the 
interests of a class. The nobles could not but see that the physical, like the moral forces of Russia, 
were in the people. 

The most able defenders of the nobility have times and again sung the praises of this class as 
the civilizers of Russia. Our great poet, Pushkin, took up this theme, and the fact cannot be denied 
by the student of Russian history. 

Side by side with a crowd of ignorant and coarse do-nothings, the nobility produces not a few rich 
and intelligent protectors of civilization. Thanks to these, a considerable number of talented men 
have been brought to light. Thus Shevchenko, the celebrated poet of the Ukraine, was rescued 
from slavery through the efforts of Zhukovskii and his friends. Young plebeians found asylum and 
protection in the house of many a noble Maecenas. Fashion would have it thus. There was an enormous 
inrush of ideas from Europe into Russia, thanks to the foreign teachers whom the nobility 
bade thither in large numbers. It is undeniable that in this respect the Russian nobility showed 
plenty of tolerance. Pushkin had a brother of Marat among his teachers. In Herzen's "Memoirs," 
we can still read an old French Jacobin's reply to his pupil, who asked him why Louis XVI was guillotined : 
" Because he was a traitor to his country." This influence of immigrants, for the most part 
French, was only made possible by the wealth of the nobles. These noble Maecenates sometimes even founded 
institutions that spread the light ; the Lyceum of Demidov, the Lyceum of Kushelev-Bezborodko, the 
Rumiantsev Library (the best in Russia next to the public library of St. Petersburg), and others. All 
this was, perhaps, but a very poor compensation for the evil that the nobility did. Nevertheless, the facts are undeniable. 

The civilizing work of the nobility was, however, in such contradiction to its social function, that it 
told fatally against this class itself. Thought, once aroused, could not deceive itself as to the ineptitude, 
the perfect illegality, and the want of solidity of the regime of the nobility. 

That is why neither the people of Russia nor the civilized world generally believed that the nobles' 
power would last. 

At the very time when the tsars were beginning to load them with privileges (1724), the great publicist, 
Pososhkov, wrote : "The proprietors, if they own the peasants for a time, will not be for ever 
their masters." "What are our nobility?" asked Count Stroganov, in 1801 [ID??]. "The class most 
ignorant, most insignificant, and most stupid." In order to induce Alexander I to emancipate the 
serfs, without fearing the resistance of the nobles, the count adds : " Neither law nor equity can awake 
in them (the nobles) the idea of the feeblest resistance. . . . The nobility often cheat when they are 
in the service, but ... all Government measures that tended to encroach on their own rights were 
always carried out with an astonishing punctuality." 

{_{ Romanovich-Slavatinskii : "The Russian Nobility". }_}

This prophecy was fulfilled completely in 1861. 

The nobility broke in pieces in the twinkling of an eye. This seems wonderful ; but it is easily explicable ; 
they had nothing to support them. The people hated them, and only submitted to their influence just as 
they would to the police. The educated classes hated serfdom, because they ascribed to it the absence 
of individual rights in Russia. Finally, the industrial classes were the foes of the nobility, because 
they checked the development of the productive forces of the country. This last circumstance had, perhaps, 
the greatest importance in the eyes of the Government. 

The Crimean War [ID??] showed how weak Russia was. And how could productive forces develop, if 
slavery held in chains the work of nearly half the population ? The government abandoned its faithful 
nobility. The tsar's sympathy began to lean in the other direction. "The first gentleman" made 
ready to become "the first speculator". And then the nobility broke up without resistance. In this 
also they showed themselves "cheats in service". They made use of every trick, every deception, to 
get as much money as possible for themselves, and to pare down as much as they could the holdings of the 
peasants. But they did not resist, and without any doubt they were wise in not committing that folly. 

To tell truth, the Government of Alexander II was far from abandoning them entirely. In 1861, 
the imperial policy entered upon a new era. The Government began protecting the capitalists, as in 
the preceding century it had protected the nobility. Now, in taking away from the nobility all political 
influence over the people, the Government gave the nobility every means of acquiring an economic influence. 

The peasants received, as a rule, a very insufficient amount of land. Under serfdom, they had 
at their disposal nearly 35 million desiatinas ; the emancipation only allotted them 22 millions. Thus 
the peasants were compelled to rent of the owners at least 42 to 43 per cent, of the land they needed.

{_{ Even these figures give a more favourable idea as to the condition of the peasants than the truth. }_}

"Moreover, the holdings were so arranged that those of the masters interfered with the peasant in 
the working of his plot. They surrounded his lands as with a rigid circle, so that, in order to avoid the 
fines for damage done by his cattle to the fields of the proprietors, the peasant had to live in a state of 
subjection to them. 

Then, the emancipation itself gave the proprietors enormous sums that they were able to apply to 
the working of their estates. On the average, the peasants did not pay for their holdings less than 
39 rubles a desiatina, an exorbitant price. 

{_{ Compte rendu of the position of the ransoming of estates up to January 1, 1885. The Russian Gazette for 1885, No. 17. In 
the western provinces, in which the Government is trying to paralyse the influence of Poland, the price of the desiatina is 
about one-third of this. }_}

Moreover, in the fertile provinces, where the produce of the land was sufficient for the payment of the taxes, 
the peasants received an altogether insufficient amount of land. On the other hand, in the barren 
provinces, where the peasants derived the greater part of their income from different local industries, 
much land was given them and at a price higher than the produce this land was capable of yielding. 
In this way, the very industry of the peasants was indirectly taxed in favour of the proprietors. 

Scarcely any forest land was allotted to the peasants ; in like manner, they had few meadows. 
To sum up, thanks to various devices, they are placed everywhere in dependence upon the proprietors. 

The statutes of the zemstvo institutions, on which depends all the administration of the rural economy 
of the provinces and of the governments, are also so drawn up as invariably to assure the nobles having 
the upper hand. The total number of representatives of the zemstvo (glasnye) is so arranged that the 
nobles furnish 6,309, the peasants 5,725, the inhabitants of the towns 1,791. 

Besides their privileged position, the nobility had the advantage, as I just said, of receiving as price of 
the land given to the peasants nearly 500 million rubles in cash, and the remittance of the sums 
they owed to the State, for which their estates had been mortgaged, amounting to more than 300 million rubles. 

Thus they held in their hands all the means for gaining the upper hand of the peasants economically. 
But they did not know how to take advantage of them. 

The old service-class had not strength to turn itself into an industrial class. The enormous sums 
of money received from the peasants were squandered in feasts and excesses of every kind at St. Petersburg, 
Moscow, and abroad. The cultivation of their estates, instead of being bettered, was everywhere 
abandoned. Little by little the nobles found themselves in want of money to keep up their ostentatious 
show. As they did not know how to work, they sold their estates in all directions. These sales were 
carried out on a grand scale. In Moscow Province, the nobles lost in this way in twenty years 
(1865-1885) 433,000 desiatinas of territory ; (if things do not change, say the Statistical Committee, 
about the year 1913 there will not be in Moscow Province any lands belonging to the nobility) ; 
in St. Petersburg Province, from 1867 to 1876, 280,166 ; the peasants alone bought in that 
of Tver, from 1861 to 1883, more than 612,985 desiatinas; in that of Poltava, from 1864 to 1881, 
the nobles lost 25 per cent, of their estates; in Saratov Province, the nobles' losses were 
estimated at a million desiatinas, and so on. 

{_{ "Statistics of the Zemstvo of Moscow", the most recent valuation of private property. Yanson : 
"Statistics", p. 176. The Russian Gazette, 1884, No. 181. "Outline of the Changes in Landed Property in 
Poltava Province." The Russian Gazette, 1884, no. 345. }_}

Step by step with these losses, the complete ruin of the nobility came about. By degrees they disappeared from social 
life. The raznotchiniets (yeomen [a person of no particular rank or chin]), who had already played for some time 
past an important part, now enter into all callings ; science, art, literature, administrative offices. The 
nobility — strange fact ! — appears even to fall off in numbers. At all events, in 1858 the hereditary 
nobles were 609,973 m number, and in 1870 they had fallen to 544,18s. 1 

All of the nobility that are in the least degree 
educated give up of their own accord the memory 
of their past. A new type is appearing, that the 
newspapers call " the repentant noble " — a most ac- 
curate name. These are the nobles that are trying 
to atone for the faults of their class by becoming 
good sons of the fatherland. These men are a 
generation of energetic preachers of man's moral 
perfectability, like the celebrated publicist, D. I. 
Pissarev. A large number of these repentant nobles 
tried to become one with the people. They joined 
the ranks of the revolutionists and of the socialists. 3 

Another part of the nobility sank down into the 
" tchinovnitchestvo " (official class) and the com- 
mercial class ; banks, railway offices are full of ruined 
nobles. Terrible dramas, subject " The ruin of the 
nobility," are enacted again and again at the bar of 
the law-courts. In the trial of the court- valets (an 
association of swindlers and sharpers), appeared 
young nobles of old family and elegant manners in 
quite ordinary dress. Sic transit gloria mundi. 

Although statistics make a distinct category of 
this fallen aristocracy, it is really mixed up with 

1 Ianson : "Statistics," vol. i. p. 82. 

2 In the whole number of those accused of political crimes, 
not less than 15 per cent, are nobles (see The Will of the People, 
No. 5). This estimate is without doubt lower than the truth. 


men of the liberal professions and with the prole- 
tariat. Yet, a certain fragment of the richer nobility, 
brought up with more reasonable ideas, holds its 
own in the midst of this catastrophe. Although 
half-bereft of their estates they have not come wholly 
to grief. They have set to work to cultivate their 
domains in conformity with the new social condition, 
and now form an important part of the zemstvo. 
The best of these nobles have given up all the pre- 
tensions of their class. They form merely an educated 
class of landed proprietors, often ardent defenders 
of the people's interests, especially in opposition 
to the village bourgeoisie. For the most part, they 
are moderate men, of liberal leanings, advocates of 
the development of local autonomy, of the perma- 
nency of the tribunals, the liberty of the press, the 
guarantees of citizen-rights and, to sum up all, of 
the constitution. These men, though very few in 
number, form the most educated and intelligent 
section of all the zemstvos. As a consequence, 
they have a certain influence, so that as a rule the 
zemstvo has become the synonym for that which is 
liberal. The zemstvo ofives to the liberals the same 
support as the men of the liberal professions and the 
proletariat give to the revolutionaries. It is self- 
evident that this liberal section of the zemstvo, 
noble in origin, has nothing in common with the 
nobility. The liberal zemstvo has most at heart 
the oblivion by the people of the epoch of the 
aristocratic tyranny ; it aims at founding provincial 
autonomy on principles exempt from all caste-feeling. 
There is even a difficulty in the calling its members 
" gentlemen." 


The real traditions of the nobility, the longing to 
revive its old prestige, are only maintained in the 
extreme reactionary party, very small in number, 
and with Prince Mechtcherskii, the well-known 
publicist, for spokesman. 1 These are men who 
have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing; who have 
retained the greedy appetites of their fathers, but 
lost the possibility of gratifying them. For a long 
time they were crouching in their holes, raging at 
all reform ; they lay there unseen until the reign 
of Alexander III. Called to life again now by the 
tsar's favour, they have spoken. These madmen of 
reaction can rarely write Russian, and show an ignor- 
ance scarcely ever found now-a-days in the world 
of politics. They dream of bringing Russia back to 
the old order of things. There is nothing in this 
new Russia, the annulling of which is not demanded 
by them. Suppression of women's education, aboli- 
tion of trial by jury, absolute authority of governors, 
destruction of the zemstvo — these are some of the 
things they ask for at present. The zemstvo in par- 
ticular they hate. "It is the gangrene of Russian 
life," cries one of the madmen in The Citizen. Prince 
Mechtcherskii places as the chief article in his pro- 
gramme : that the authority of the zemstvo be 
divided amongst the individual responsible function- 
aries, or that the zemstvo be turned into an assembly 
of nobles with some representation of the peasants. 2 
The same anathemas are launched at the land-bank 
of the peasants, and the like. 

1 He publishes the Grajdanine ( The Citizen), and is also known 
as the author of some poor novels. 

2 The Citizen, 1885, No. 39. 


Such is the moribund delirium of these Last of 
the Mohicans of the noble order. It needs no 
demonstration that a party with a programme of 
this nature is doomed. 


The bourgeoisie. — Bourgeoisie of the towns. — Our capitalism. — 
No third estate in Russia. — Primitive accumulation. — Frauds 
and thefts the source of fortunes. — Business jobbers. — The 
village bourgeoisie : koulaks and miroieds. 

The capitalist class, into whose ranks, as I said, 
part of the nobility is passing, demands much more 
of our attention. Serfdom was very injurious to 
the development of the productive forces of Russia, 
and this development was therefore slow. In 1855, 
a man who knew his Russia as well as Kochelev, 
said that the incomes of the gentlemen and those 
of the business men were equal. The abolition of 
serfdom and the government policy that followed 
on this, opened out wide horizons to the activity of 
capitalists, and gave to these gentry thousands of 
millions of rubles in the shape of subsidies. 

The industrial class increased with incredible 
rapidity. Towns grew under your very eye. The 
inhabitants of towns (business men, meshchanie, 
artisans and so on) who in 1858 formed 7*25 per 
cent, of the whole population of Russia, had risen 
in 1870 to 9*2 per cent, of the population. 1 The 
capital of joint-stock companies was in 1855 only 

1 Ianson : vol. i. p. 82. 


228 million francs. 1 In 1879 it had already risen to 6,000 million francs. 2 The number of persons 
concerned in industry and commerce increased. In 1867, the number of licences and authorizations 
of all kinds connected with commerce was 670,464 ; 3 
in 1874, it had already risen to 98o,i37. 4 Besides 
the enormous capital in specie concentrated in the 
hands of the commercial and industrial class, a large 
amount of land property began to come into its 
hands. Most of the estates sold by the gentlefolk 
became the property of merchants, instead of that 
of peasants. Thus, from 1867 to 1876, in St. Petersburg 
Province alone, 122,000 desiatinas were acquired by persons belonging to 
different classes in the towns. 5 In Moscow Province, 
more than 1 20,000 desiatinas were sold 
to merchants between 1865 and 1877. 6 This transfer 
of estates to the hands of the industrial class 
went on even in provinces in which industry was least prevalent, 
e.g., Poltava. In Poltava, within eight years, 40,000 desiatinas were bought 
by merchants, meshchanie, and Jews. 7 

The preponderance of the industrial class is becoming more marked. It shows itself in the most 

1 Annual Report of the Minister of Finances, 1878. Rate of 
exchange, 39 1\ centimes per ruble. 

2 Almanack, M. Souvorine, 1881. Rate of exchange, 254? 
centimes per ruble. 

8 Summary of Statistics in 1874. 

4 Ianson : "Statistics," vol. i. p. 108. 

5 Ibid., vol. ii. p. 176. 

G "Statistical Summary of Moscow," part i. p. 37. 
7 " Outline of the Landed Property Movement in the Govern- 
ment of Poltava, 1 88 1." 


diverse forms. The schools are full of children of 
the bourgeois class. A large number of journals 
could be named wholly in the hands of industrial 
companies — a thing common enough in Europe, 
but quite unknown in Russia up to the present 
time. At times the wealthy bourgeois even play 
the part of Maecenas, formerly enacted by the nobility 
alone. Thus, at Moscow, e.g., a. well-known Russian 
theatre, whose actors are of the best, such as Pissarev, 
Andreiev Bourlak, etc., is the creation of a rich 
manufacturer and capitalist, Malkiel. 

Already the idea of acquiring the right to a certain 
amount of representation in the government of the 
State is everywhere dawning upon the industrial 
class. A year ago, the merchants of Nijni- Nov- 
gorod, 1 took steps with a view to getting a special 
council appointed that was to be connected with 
the ministry of finance, and composed of represent- 
atives of commerce and industry. The question 
was broached by Professor Mendeilesev and 
Chneider in the work " Commercial and Industrial 
Chambers." This work was forbidden, and generally 
speaking the Government shows no desire to satisfy 
this leaning of the capitalist class. But it lends a 
willing ear to such requests as are of a private 
character and have reference to certain things the 
capitalists want, and it takes trouble to grant them. 

A large number of measures taken by the Govern- 
ment might be pointed out that were due to these 
requests with which our capitalists bombard the 
powers that be unceasingly. The tax on salt was 

1 At Xijni-Xovgorod is held the most important fair in Russia, 
a commercial business involving 400 million francs. 


abolished in this way. As result of the same action, 
the customs duties between Russia and Finland 
were recently raised, a transit via Transcaucasia 
forbidden, importation duties raised again and again 
etc. Among the most cowardly concessions of the 
Government may be noted the modification of the, 
law as to the labor of children in factories. At 
first, the intention was to forbid night labor for 
children entirely ; but, thanks to the action of the 
manufacturers, this is permitted in many cases. 1 

In short, the commercial and industrial class has 
during the last thirty years acquired a very marked 
influence in the social life of Russia, and the question 
of " capitalism " is now one of the most vital interest 
to Russian writers. 

Will the commercial and industrial class become 
at last the dominant class in Russia ? Will it take 
definitely into its hands the labor of the people and 
national production ? 

This question has given rise to an important 
polemic in Russia, in which the men that know 
Russian life best are ranged on opposite sides. The 
picturing types of the bourgeoisie engages the atten- 
tion of our novelists and best writers. The capitalist 
is to a certain extent the hero of contemporary 
Russian life. Yet, in spite of this appearance of 
strength and growth, it is impossible not to notice 
one fact extremely characteristic as to the situation 
of the capitalist class. 

In France, e.g., the industrial class, the third 
estate, came on the scene invested with a genuine 

1 Just at the present time, night labor for women and children 
is again forbidden. {Moscow Gazette, June 9-21, 1885.) 


popularity, full of faith in its own strength. The 
third estate was everything ; it was the nation. The 
most notable minds of the age were on its side. 
Its principles seemed to open up a new era in the 
life of humanity. The most extreme revolutionaries, 
such as Camille Desmoulins, defended with equal 
ardour the liberty of the individual and the sacred 
rights of property. The most advanced philosophers, 
like Saint Simon, took as their social ideal a State 
in which authority should be in the hands of learned 
men and industrial workers. The third estate, in 
working for its own interests, served at the same 
time humanity as a whole. 

To how small an extent is this a portrait of our 
nascent industrial class ! 

From its dawn almost, the most notable minds of 
Russian society oppose the interests of the mass of 
the laboring population to those of the industrial 
class. Chernychevskii, the most popular of Russian 
writers, and moreover the only Russian economist 
of note, is an adept in socialist doctrines. His friend 
Dobrolioubov, the most eminent Russian critic, lays 
bare in his celebrated " Tiomnoie Tsarstvo" ("Reign 
of Obscurantism") the corruption and gross ignorance 
of the bourgeoisie. In a series of articles he con- 
trasts with them the working people, full of strength 
and life. The best writers, the most eminent 
observers of the life of the people, constantly insist 
upon the necessity of maintaining the rural commune, 
of encouraging and developing the local branches of 
industry that are in the hands of the producers and 
not of the capitalists — measures in direct contradiction 
to the interests of the bourgeoisie. 


And these measures are approved even by the 
savants that believe the temporary domination of 
capital in Russia inevitable, such as Kabloukov, 

As to those who do not regard this domination 
as inevitable, like the profound observer of Russia 
who signs his writings with the initials V. V., ] as a 
matter of course they approve so much the more 
measures of this kind. The most eminent pro- 
fessors of political economy, such as MM. Postnikov 
and Ivanioukov, are constantly demonstrating the 
necessity of preserving the rural commune. An 
almost conservative writer, of great learning, Prince 
Vassiltchikov, whilst he thinks large landed property 
indispensable to a certain extent, advises the main- 
tenance of the rural commune of the peasants. But 
the names and quotations would fill whole pages, 
if I tried to mention all the writers and all the 
scientific men in Russia who, under this circumstance 
or that, range themselves on the side of the people 
aeainst the industrial class. All the best of them 
behave towards the capitalist as towards a temporary 
and inevitable evil. And, notable thing, even among 
the millionnaire capitalists there is no difficulty in 
meeting with individuals who call themselves social- 
ists, and declare they are not opposed to the socialist 
regime. I do not pause to inquire into the sincerity 
of these statements ; but it is evident that people 
who talk thus cannot be convinced of the utility of 
the regime they have created. As a rule, the people 

1 The real name of this able writer is known throughout Russia, 
but he persists in concealing himself under these initials. I take 
great care not to betray the secret of this comedy. 


utterly ignorant or extreme reactionaries only, such 
as M. Katkov, M. Tsitovich, etc., range themselves 
unreservedly on the side of the bourgeoisie. This 
industrial class, which triumphs in France, thanks to 
the revolution, is in Russia allied to the most violent 
reaction. The bourgeoisie, which in France appeared 
as the presage of a new regime, the only just and 
eternal one, seems in Russia to be a temporary and 
inevitable evil. 

There is in economic science an expression, 
" primitive accumulation," applied to that moment in 
economic life when wealth comes less as the result 
of production than as that of more or less open 
robbery. The Russian industrial class, it cannot be 
denied, is actually in this phase of primitive accu- 

The want of honesty of our industrial and business 
men has become a proverb. Fraudulent bankruptcy 
is so common in Russia, that an ordinary failure 
appears almost incredible. When some one goes 
bankrupt, the first question asked is — how much 
bronze is there ? That there is bronze ' no one 

Among the most important sources of large 
fortunes, especially in the south, were forged paper- 
money and smuggling. A more frequent method is 
the most shameless robbery of the treasures of the 
State and of those of public institutions. I doubt 
much whether anywhere else than in Russia are 
there such impudent thefts on public institutions. 
The banks and the various financial societies have 

1 The technical word for fictitious letters of exchange given by 
the fraudulent bankrupt to his friends. 


acquired quite a celebrity in this connection. The 
director of the bank of the town of Skopine has 
enriched himself by robberies of this kind to the 
extent of more than ten millions. Not long ago, 
the bankruptcy of the Orel bank was accompanied 
by the same abuses ; and at the present moment the 
town, as result of its failure, is obliged to sell the very 
bridges over the river Oka that runs through Orel. 

Of course our industrial capitalists are even less 
sparing of the treasury. Many of the largest for- 
tunes in Russia have been derived from State con- 
tracts. The jobbery of the contractors in the late 
war is beyond belief. The victuals paid for by 
the Russian army was even taken into the Turkish 
lines. A number of contractors were summoned 
before the courts. 

" The idiots ! They only get what they deserve," 
said one of the best-known peculators on this oc- 
casion ; " they want to do business and don't know 
how. They won't get me up before the courts." — 
" And what's the proper thing to be done, so as not 
to be had up ?" — "Have partners whom they dare 
not summon before the courts." * It was said that 
this shrewd business man took the precaution of 
having as partners members of the imperial family. 

Another source of fortune was found in railroads 
and all kinds of speculations, or so-called industrial 
enterprises. Golovatchev, one of those that have 
studied most closely our railway enterprises, esti- 
mates at more than 600,000 million francs the sums 

1 In the absence of legal documents, I will not give here the 
name of this person, whom everybody knows at Moscow ; but I 
pledge my word as to the accuracy of the conversation. 


expended by the treasury in making railroads. 1 In 
what a productive way these sums were spent, an 
idea may be formed from the case of the railway 
from Moscow to Riazan. According to Golovatchev, 
the construction of this railway cost 7,700,000 
rubles, and the Government guaranteed an income 
on a capital of fourteen millions. Hundreds of 
millions remained thus in the pockets of the capi- 
talists, without the least work, the least production. 

In like fashion the gold of the treasury is poured 
out in numberless industrial enterprises of all kinds. 
Many of them only exist, it would seem, as a pretext 
for subsidies from the treasury. Take, as example, 
the Neva factory, belonging to the Russian Society 
of Mechanic Factories. In 1876 this owed the 
treasury a sum greater than its own value ; but this 
did not prevent the Government from advancing it 
1,650,000 more rubles. In 1881, in order to give 
fresh encouragement to this society, the Government 
bought a certain number of locomotives for two 
million rubles, although they were not wanted. In 
addition, the Government gave the society the right 
to borrow money from the State bank, on the 
security of its locomotives, at the rate of 30,000 
rubles each. The society made much use of this 
privilege by making, solely for the purpose of pawn- 
ing them, locomotives of inferior quality and quite 
useless, received 30,000 rubles for each of them, 
and then sent them into depots where they ended 
by losing what little value they had. In 1884, the 
factory owed the treasury 4,700,000 rubles. These 
it did not pay, but on the contrary received from the 
1 Golovatchev : " History of Railroads in Russia," pp. 1 and 2. 


Government a new order, to the extent of 2,150,000 
rubles, although on this occasion also the Govern- 
ment had no need of locomotives. 

Of course, concessions, guarantees, subsidies, are 
not obtained for nothing. 

The story is told of Alexander II., that one day- 
he said to the heir apparent (the present emperor) : 
" It seems to me that in Russia there are only two 
persons who do not steal — you and I." 

I do not know how far the statement was true ; 
but in any case, the Emperor Alexander II. made 
no opposition to these thefts. He said in his easy 
way, " Every one must live" : and on this principle, 
he let our administrative affairs get into a state of 
depravity unheard of until his time. 

See, e.g., what Kochelev writes; one of those rare 
Russians who, whilst they preserve unimpaired their 
honour and their probity, are still able to be mon- 
archists. " Peculation, tips, illegal frauds, etc., have 
reached their maximum at St. Petersburg. . . . 
Most of those in high places have mistresses, who 
take greedily the money offered them, and then give 
despotic orders to their lovers. . . . The im- 
morality, impudence, and ineptitude of the higher 
administration surpass all the cheating and all the 
blunders of our provincial employes." To speak 
plainly, these are the instruments of labor of the 
most productive branch of Russian industry, by aid 
of which the money of the people runs straight from 
the treasury into the pockets of the jobbers. 

In a word, the type of an industrial capitalist is 
in the eyes of Russian society merely that of an 
adroit cheat and intriguer. I do not mean to say 


there are not honest people among them. I am 
speaking of the preponderating type that gives tone 
and colour to the class, of those who specially fulfil 
the mission of primitive accumulation. 

The bourgeois type, sprung from the environ- 
ment of the village, is still less sympathetic. I have 
already said that the Russian peasants are so pene- 
trated with the sentiment of sociability, so impreg- 
nated with the tendency to live conformably to the 
truth, after the commandments of God, that it is 
difficult to find their equals from this point of view. 
But the legislation of Alexander II. placed them in 
such a situation that to live according to the truth, 
after the commandments of God, became a purely 
heroic conception. 

The emancipation of the peasants was, as I have 
said, accompanied by the lessening of the amount 
of land they held and the increase of the amount 
of taxes they paid. Terribly in need of money, 
the peasant naturally fell into the hands of the 
" koulaks," " miroides " (usurers). On the other hand, 
when the authority of the gentlemen proprietors was 
abolished, that of the administration in the country 
districts became unlimited. This authority does 
everywhere in support of the koulaks and the 
miroieds what the higher administration does for 
the big jobbers. Thus a wide field of action opens 
out before the koulak and the miroied. 

And what temptations there are for the peasant to 
become a miroied ! If he has not enough money, 
his life is really terrible. If his taxes are in arrears, 
he is whipped ; if he has no money to give for tips, 
he is the victim of any number of persecutions 

vol 1. s 


at the hands of the " pissar," the " ouriadnik," the 
"stanovoi," and the other innumerable village author- 
ities. Money is the one habeas corpus; so money 
must be had. 

Honourable labor is not enough to get it. The 
peasant's work is under too disadvantageous con- 
ditions ; in many cases, it cannot even find him in 
food. The one easy means of getting rich is to 
rob openly the living and the dead ; i.e., usury in 
every form, or cheating. Thus, among the more 
intelligent and energetic peasants, a larger and 
larger number become miroieds. At times peasants 
made immense fortunes in this way. In the 
newspapers, now and again, peasants that own 
100,000 desiatinas of land are mentioned. Very 
often these enriched parvenus become business 
men, and deal with millions. Of course, the 
bulk of them never reach this position. They 
remain merely village intriguers, pot-house usurers. 
These are just the people that make the most 
exacting exploiters. They have undergone all the 
atrocious misery and humiliation ; and they show 
the most terrible ferocity, and drain the peasants 
like leeches. Affecting to despise the very labor 
that they have been wont to regard as the only 
honourable means of livelihood in the depth of 
their conscience, these gentry have lost all self- 
respect. With a cruel pleasure, they inflict on the 
peasants who fall into their hands every degrada- 
tion. When the peasant, in the name of his family, 
racked with hunger, prays the koulak to give him 
time; when he drags himself to his feet and receives 
his kick of contempt without a word, the miroied 


seems, forgetful of all pity, to revel in his power. 
Sometimes, one of these koulaks, who has left the 
mir t is so brutal that he feels no pity whatever. 
Gradually he becomes a mere bird of prey, never 
thinks of justice, and says once for all that " it's 
the way of the world." " The peasant is a fool ; 
he must be taught," says he coolly. None the less, 
it is bevond doubt that a lar^e number of these 
gentry, who pillage without remorse, only do thus 
because otherwise they could not live. Eat up 
others, or you will be eaten up yourself. Face to 
face with such an alternative, not many men pause 

Thus, to sum up : the Russian industrial class is, 
so far, a heterogeneous mass that has never had a 
clear social idea or any class tendency. Its mem- 
bers do not know themselves whither they are 
drifting, at what they ought to aim. It is clear 
that so long as they remain thus, they cannot 
become a dominant class. How long will the 
industrial class remain in this condition ? Only 
the future can say. Certain anticipations may be 
formed on this question when we have examined 
more closely the condition of Russian industry, i.e., 
the environment whose development in this direc- 
tion or in that will of necessity determine the future 
of our bourgeoisie. 





Chap. I. Natural riches of Russia. — Its poverty from the point 
of view of effective products. — Total yearly production. — Revenue 
per head. — State expenses. — Rapid growth of the population out 
of proportion to the increase in the national revenue. — Russian 
agriculture and industry, their backward position. 

Chap. II. The Crimean War revealed to Russia her economic 
inferiority. — Emancipation of the serfs. — Government policy 
opposed to logic. — Agriculture the chief economic force in 
Russia. — Large landed property. — Peasant holdings. — Measures 
antagonistic to the extension of these last. — Buying-up specula- 
tions. — The land crisis. — Exportation stationary. 

Chap. III. Industry. — Action of Government in favour of large 
capital. — Speculation. — Joint-stock companies. — Railroads. — 
Protectionist tariffs. — Trans-Caucasus and frontier questions. — 
Germans in Poland. — Wonderful remedy proposed by Katkov. — 
Commercial balance-sheet 

Chap. IV. State finances. — Their condition. — State debt. — 
Deficit and monetary crisis. — Depreciation of the ruble. 

Chap. V. Democratic character of landed property. — Transmi- 
gration of the peasants. — Policy of the Government. — Local in- 
dustries. — Initiative of the peasants. — Crisis in these industries. 

Chap. VI. Material condition of the Russian people. — Budget 
of the well-to-do family and of the indigent. — Workmen's wages 
— Budget of the Muscovite peasants. — Food. — Famine-bread. — 
Growth of populatioa — Births and deaths. 



Natural riches of Russia. — Its poverty from the point ot view of 
effective products. — Total yearly production. — Revenue per 
head. — State expenses. — Rapid growth of the population out 
of proportion to the increase in the national revenue. — Rus- 
sian agriculture and industry, their backward position. 

Russia has the reputation of being a rich country ; 
and the reputation is not without foundation if the 
natural resources of the country only are in ques- 
tion. All the southern part contains enormous 
areas (nearly 90 million desiatinas) of black loam ; 
further, the climate is favourable to the growth of 
wheat. The cold winter in Russia does not allow 
of the growth of as many crops from one and the 
same field as in England, e.g. ; on the other hand, 
the warmth of the summer makes agriculture pos- 
sible even in the regions hard by the polar circle. 
The dryness of the Russian climate may seem 
unfavourable to the cultivation of grass ; but the 
enormous masses of snow that accumulate during 
the winter are a kind of savings-bank of moisture. 
Hence there is an exuberant herbage, that, thanks 
to the summer heats, yields hay of the best quality. 

The northern part of Russia has all the con- 
ditions favourable to the growth of magnificent 



woods, whose lignine has rare virtues. The forests 
of Russia (not reckoning Siberia) occupy an area of 
more than 130 million desiatinas, and are alone an 
immense source of wealth. 

Owinor to these immense forests, hunting is 
among us, even at the present time, a productive 
industry. Fishing is everywhere carried on upon 
a large scale. Our rivers and seas swarm with 
fish ; and on the shores of the Arctic Ocean they 
hunt the whale, the walrus, and the seal. There 
are seals also in the Caspian Sea. 

Russia has within its borders the most different 
kinds of metallurgic products : gold, silver, platinum, 
iron, copper, precious stones, naphtha, and so on. 
In Siberia there are auriferous sands, among the 
richest in the world. In the Oural, iron occurs in 
gigantic masses. In Central Russia, and in its out- 
lying parts, in the Oural, on the Don, etc., enormous 
beds of coal are found. Amongst other valuable 
mineral products may be named phosphorite, to the 
efflorescence of which Southern Russia in great 
measure owes its fertility. This beautiful mineral, 
which contains from 16 to 27 per cent, of phos- 
phoric acid, occurs in huge quantities in some ten 
of the provinces. In some places it is so abundant 
that they use it for paving stones ; the town of 
Koursk is entirely paved with this valuable mineral. 

Thus, in a certain sense, Russia may perhaps be 
called a rich country. But if we take account of the 
effective quantity of the products that the Russian 
population is able to get out of the soil, we shall 
see that it is in reality a very poor country. It is 
true that in Russia it is more easy to get a morsel 


of bread than elsewhere ; but for the majority of the 
people this morsel of bread is so small that it is not 
even always enough for half the necessities of life. 
The cause of this lies as much in the backward 
civilization of Russia as in the various vices of its 
political organization, which prevent the people from 
putting into action all their productive forces. 

Russian statistics are, unfortunately, not suf- 
ficiently developed for us to be able to give a 
precise estimate of the national revenue. How- 
ever, the total annual production in Russia (not 
reckoning Finland, Poland, Southern Caucasus, and 
Central Asia) is about 3,740 million rubles. 1 This 
sum is made up as follows : — 














i. Value of agricultural produce (deduct- 
ing that of the seeds) 

2. Of forest produce .... 

3. Of produce from cattle (subtracting the 

value of fodder and the labor com- 
prised under 1.) . 

4. Sericulture and apiculture . 

5. Hunting and fishing .... 

6. Mines ...... 

7. Modern and domestic industry (sub- 

tracting the value of the raw material) 503 „ 

If the total revenue is divided by the number 
of inhabitants in the same territory (84 millions), 
nearly 45 rubles each is the quotient. To under- 
stand how small this sum is compared with the price 
of necessaries in Russia, it must be remembered that, 
in a family of peasants decently well off, the annual 
expenses of each member of the family is half as 
much again as this. The salary of our village school- 
1 See Appendix A. 


masters is from ioo to 300 rubles, a very insuf- 
ficient amount. Life in the towns is yet dearer. 
Our students live very poorly, yet their allowance 
is 300 rubles. If the student has less than this, he 
goes hungry. 

A very large part of the national revenue is 
nevertheless swallowed up by State charges. The 
budget for the year 1885 was estimated at 885 million 
rubles, 23 per cent, of the national revenue. Fur- 
ther, a large number of rich people spend, of course, 
thousands of rubles each every year. Thus the 
actual share of each person of the rest of the popu- 
lation will be much less than these miserable 45 

It is evident that a country under such conditions 
cannot be contented. In this connection, statistics 
cast a vivid light on the causes of that revolutionary 
movement which has during the last ten years mani- 
fested itself more and more clearly in the number 
of plots and peasant revolts. 

We must not forget also to take into account 

the rapid expansion of our population, side by side 

with this want of economic resources. In 1859 the 

population of Russia in Europe was 59 millions ; 

in 1 88 1 it had risen to 76 millions, and the ratio of 

births to the population is constantly increasing. 

The average increase of population in Russia proper 

yearly is : 

1857-1867 . . . 073 per cent. 
1868-1870 . . . 1*07 „ 
1871-1881 . . .17 „ 

Clearly an increase of births as rapid as this may 
render the position of a country unbearable, if the 


means of production do not increase at least in the 
same proportion ; and this result is far from being 
attained in Russia. 

Thirty years ago, M. Tengoborskii fixed the 
revenue of the Russian empire at 2,970 million 
rubles. This gives (for a population of 48 millions) 
43 rubles a head ; i.e., nearly the same result as we 
arrived at above. But in Tengoborskii's time the 
ruble was worth four francs, whilst now it is worth 
less than three. Must we conclude from this, that 
after these thirty years of development, Russia is 
poorer than before ? I do not think so. Tengo- 
borskii's figures are as a rule greatly exaggerated. 
Nevertheless, this comparison shows that the pro- 
gress of productive forces is not rapid in Russia, is 
not even sufficient, and this the more, as with ad- 
vancing civilization the need of more products grows 
and affects even the masses of the people. Thus, 
what would perhaps have satisfied the peasant thirty 
years ago, now appears insufficient to him. 

This condition of the productive forces of the 
country depends, without a doubt, on very complex 
causes. A very important place among these must 
be given to the fact that Russia is very backward. 
This prevents the Russians from carrying out the 
exploitation of the resources of their territory to 
the extent that other countries, more advanced, are 
able to. 

The chief branch of our revenue — agriculture — 
is still in the primitive state. Regular cultivation of 
forests is unknown among us, one may say; and 
the same thing holds good of meadow cultivation. 
Truly, our Government and the peasants do make 


some efforts to drain the marshes ; but that is all 
Grass-growing is scarcely known; and this tells 
unfavourably on the breeding of animals, and thus 
on agriculture. Throughout the whole of Russia in 
Europe there is only 21*5 per cent, of cultivated land, 
whilst in England, e.g., the land regularly cultivated 
occupies 61 per cent, of the whole territory. In 
France the percentage is yet larger, 83 per cent. 

As yet the Russians till even their cultivated land 
in very unprofitable fashion. With them labor is 
of a very superficial nature. Manuring is generally 
quite insufficient, and most frequently is dispensed 
with altogether. Thus it is that in Russia a decia- 
tine produced only 9,436 litres of wheat ; whilst in 
France the same area of soil yields 24,115 litres. 
The same thing may be said of the other branches 
of production. The working of mines and auriferous 
sands also suffers much from this system of waste, 
which exhausts the mines with abnormal rapidity. 

Factory and manufacturing industry is not, as yet, 
in a condition to compete with Western Europe, 
even in the home market ; for Russian products are 
bad and dear. This deplorable economic state is in 
great measure the fault of the political government, 
which for thirty years past has, by its clumsy inter- 
ference, brought endless confusion into the economic 
conditions of the country. 


The Crimean War revealed to Russia her economic inferiority. — 
Emancipation of the serfs. — Government policy opposed to 
logic. — Agriculture the chief economic force in Russia. — 
Large landed property. — Peasant holdings. — Measures an- 
tagonistic to the extension of these last. — Buying-up specula- 
tions. — The land crisis. — Exportation stationary. 

The economic inferiority of Russia, as compared 
with all the other European countries, was under- 
stood by the Government, and above all by the 
people, after the Crimean War. The necessity of 
economic and social reforms was recognised more or 
less clearly by the whole of the people, from the 
lowest peasant to the Emperor Nicolas. At his 
death, this fanatic conservative left as legacy to his 
son a command to take a step almost revolutionary, 
the emancipation of the serfs. 

The necessity of extending the productive forces 
of Russia was evident, and the most clear-seeing 
men in Russia were then convinced that the means 
of this development would be especially the de- 
velopment of the labor of the people proper, the 
peasants. The Russian mt'r, with its communal 
tenure of the soil, seemed to prove the possibility 
of that cultivation in common that could be carried 


out on a large scale upon the basis of association. 
The existence of the koustarnie promysly (small 
owners), together with the Russian habit of work- 
ing in " artel," seemed to give the possibility of 
developing industry in the same sense. Lastly, a 
large number of works and factories belonging to 
the State formed an easy stepping-stone for the 
Government to the organization of modern industry, 
without wholly abandoning it to the hands of the 
capitalists. This was the more easy, as Russia has 
very few large capitalists, and the rapid concentra- 
tion of capital could not be brought about unless the 
Government came to the rescue. It seemed more 
economic and more productive that the efforts of the 
State should aim at organizing labor in those in- 
stitutions (artel, mir) that had grown up in the very 
life of the people. 

In point of fact, the economic policy of the State, 
despite some fluctuations, took on a character the 
exact opposite of this. It did not know how to in- 
vent a system of its own, and confined itself to a ser- 
vile imitation of other lands. It saw no possibility 
of developing the productive forces of Russia save 
in the introduction of the economic organization it 
found in Europe. This want of creative genius 
always leads to an artificial state of things, out of 
correspondence with the natural development of the 
productive forces. And that is exactly what hap- 
pened. No sensible owner, if he thinks of introduc- 
ing new branches of exploitation, will on that account 
abandon those upon which his fortune actually de- 
pends, those that give him the material means for 
making his innovations. Russia acted in exactly 


the opposite way to this reasonable owner. Is it 
wonderful that her estate is on the verge of ruin ? 

The principal economic force of Russia was and 
still is agriculture. In Tengoborskii's time, the 
value of the field produce was to that of the in- 
dustrial as 85 to 15. At the present time the pro- 
portion is nearly the same (8$ to 17). Hence the 
importance of Russia on the international market is 
due chiefly to agriculture. In ten years (1873-1882) 
she exported on the average yearly — 

1. Food 276 million rubles. 

2. Raw material and partly-finished 

products . . . . 195 „ „ 

3- Cattle 15 „ „ 

4. Manufactured goods . . 1 1 h „ „ 

The exportation of food especially augments 
rapidly. It constitutes on the average : — 

1847-185 1 . . 31*8 per cent, of the whole exportation. 

1865-1867 . . 39 ,, „ „ 

1873-1877 . . 53 „ „ „ 

1878-1882 . . 569 „ „ „ 

Of the food-stuffs, it is the exportation of cereals 
that especially increases. From 1858 to 1867, this 
rose to 38 per cent, of the whole of our exportation ; 
in 1872 to 40 per cent. ; in 1882 to over 47 per 
cent., i.e., almost one-half; and agricultural produce 
in general formed nearly 90 per cent of the whole 
of our exportation. Despite this enormous import- 
ance of agriculture in the economy of the country, 
it is wholly neglected by the Government ; indeed, 
since the emancipation of the peasants, it has been 
the object of Government attack. 

vol. 1. T 


In Russia we have many large landed proprietors ; 
but the working of their estates is most frequently 
based upon that which obtains among the peasants. 
The large owner, as a rule, devotes to it neither labor 
nor capital ; his part is confined to handling the rents. 
If, e.g., we take fifteen districts in different parts of 
Russia, fairly investigated by modern statistics, 1 we 
shall see that the pomiechtchiks (noble owners) 
only cultivate 14*5 per cent, of the land in them, 
whilst the peasants, irrespective of their own hold- 
ings, farm 36 per cent, of the land of the pomiech- 
tchiks. The rest of it lies untouched. Thus all the 
real cultivation is in the hands of the peasants. 
And yet, after the emancipation, the amount of their 
holdings has been diminished, in contravention of 
all principles of law, and at the same time the dis- 
tribution of their plots of land arranged to their 
disadvantage. 2 According to the returns of the 
official statistics, the peasants under the pomiech- 
tchiks should have had $7 P er cent, at least as 
their share. The actual land assigned to the pea- 
sants was, by a fraudulent manoeuvre, as inferior in 
quality as the amount given was in quantity. As 
a proof of this, the crops of the peasants that they 

1 The districts — Mojai'sk, Volokolamsk, Zvenigorod, Vereia, 
Poltava, Zenkov, Fatej, Lgov, Koursk, Dmitrov, Rostov, etc. 

2 Nicolas Miliutin, the celebrated proposer of the Reform 
of 1861, had clearly laid down the principle that the enfranchised 
peasants should receive at least the same amount of land as their 
lords gave them for their own when serfdom was in vogue. Un- 
fortunately, the carrying out of this reform was taken out of the 
hands of Miliutin and his friends, and given into those of the 
very opponents of the reform. Thus the wise principles laid 
down at the time of Miliutin were violated. 


get from their own land are much smaller than 
those they obtain from that which is farmed out to 
them by the pomiechtchiks. 1 But it is clear that 
for the peasant to till his own land, however poor 
it is, may be nevertheless of more advantage than 
the tilling of good land for which he has to pay 
rent. Thus the labor of the tiller became in the 
main transferred to a soil of poor quality. On 
the other hand, the pomiechtchiks, losing their free 
labor, could not manage their property ; and their 
magnificent estates remained uncultivated over im- 
mense areas. The blow struck at agriculture was 
so much the heavier as the Government literally 
crushed the peasant by the tax fixed on the re- 
demption of land. In sixteen of the governments, 
this tax is one-tenth, or one-half more than the price 
of the land. 

So great did the incapacity to appreciate the 
vast national importance of agriculture become, so 
little attention was given to it, that the Govern- 
ment thought they would speculate. When they 
lent the peasants money for the redemption of their 
lands, the Government was not content with a sum 
equal to its expenditure. It realized also a certain 
profit, in all 40 million rubles. At the transfer- 
ence of the debt of the pomiechtchiks to the 
peasants, the Government made a similar specula- 

1 E.g., the harvest of 18S3 was as follows : — 

Pomiechtchiks' estates. Peasants' holdings. 

Rye 4-5 3' 6 

Wheat 4-9 46 

Oats 4*2 34 

Buckwheat . . . 3-9 36 


tion. 1 On this debt (300 million rubles) the 
pomiechtchiks paid the treasury four per cent, in- 
terest and two per cent, at redemption. As to the 
peasants, the Government began by charging them 
seven per cent., only five of this for the redemption 
of the debt. I go into all these details to show how 
the Government got the best of all the bargains, and 
by what mean motives its acts were directed when 
it was working out the great reform on which the 
future of the country depended. The peasant, thus 
fettered in his possession of the land, and over- 
whelmed with taxes, was going to rack and ruin. 
Now the ruin of the peasant is the ruin of Russia. 
The hostility of the Government to the commune, 
which I have noted above, had also indirectly a very 
bad effect on agriculture. The protection constantly 
accorded by the administration to the rich men of 
the village, who usurp the communal lands ; the 
obstacles opposed by the Government chambers, 
at every turn, to the splitting up of the estates ; the 
famous Article 165 of the law on the redemption of 
land ; 2 the permission to the rural assemblies to 
provisionally let out their land to a tax-payer not 

1 At the time of the serfdom, the State created a fund for loans 
to the nobility. In 1861 these last owed to the State, on the 
security of their properties, more than 300 million rubles. By 
the terms of the statutes of emancipation, the peasants ought to 
have paid the nobles more than 800 million rubles for the re- 
deeming of their lands. The Government took this payment in 
hand on condition that they should replace the nobility as creditor 
of the peasants. But they only paid 500 millions, pocketing the 

2 Article 165 gives the peasant who has paid the price of re- 
demption, the right of receiving his plot under the title of private 


very precise in his payments ; all these measures, 
and yet others, ruined numberless peasants. And 
this was the more easy because the Government has 
done nothing for the organization of the village credit. 
The loan offices and savings banks had no result, 
in face of the poverty of the peasants. In 1883 the 
whole deposits were scarcely 12 million rubles. 
Besides these, the peasant could only have recourse 
to the store capital (as it is called), which would 
make him small loans in cases of a severe local 
famine, or give him seed in times of a bad general 
harvest. This excellent institution is too poor itself 
to be able to really lend any useful aid, the more so 
as it is only intended for the maintenance of whole 
villages, and not of individuals. 

The peasant has a world of wants that force him 
to turn to the country usurers. Once in their grip, 
he is lost. Like a spider, the miroied sucks the 
juices of his victim until he has reduced him to a 
state of utter misery. The State, face to face with 
this evil which is assuming dangerous proportions, is 
indifferent. Before the creation of the land-bank of 
the peasants, no serious measure, properly speaking, 
had been taken to maintain the cultivation of the 
land by the peasants ; but the bank itself, if it does 
help the peasants to acquire land, tends at the same 
time by its statutes to keep up individual landed 
property and to force the peasants to abolish the 
mir. If the peasant's land is placed under the 
communal regi?ne, he has only right to a loan of 125 
rubles at the maximum, and if it is private property, 
he has 500 as the maximum loan on it. Lastly, the 
bank has only been established two years. 


Under such pressure as this, agricultural exploi- 
tation has passed into a state really critical. In the 
province of Moscow, e.g., 15 per cent, of the total 
number of peasant families have not the means to 
carry on the cultivation of the soil. Further, it must 
be noted that 42 per cent, of the families ruined 
have been ruined by the heaviness and rigorous 
levying of the taxes and by the conscription. In 
some places the ruin of peasant cultivation is yet 
more complete. Thus, in the province of Poltava, 
where there is no commune to protect the peasants, 
38 per cent, of them did not sow any wheat in 
1882 ; in the province of Zenkov, the percentage 
was 40. In other provinces where the agrarian crisis 
has not caused such ruin as this, cultivation is in 
an equally lamentable state. Poor, riddled with 
debts, the peasant cannot make any improvement 
in his land. He is obliged to cultivate it anyhow. 
The want of cattle prevents him from manuring 
it. Generally speaking, there are too few cattle 
in Russia. In 1870 it was estimated that the 
number of cattle was only one-third or as little as 
one-sixth of what was necessary for the needs of 
agriculture ; since then the condition of things has 
become even worse. According to the census of 
1882, one-fourth of the peasants are without horses. 

It must not be thought that the peasants are not 
energetic enough in this sustained struggle with 
unfavourable circumstances. Quite the contrary. 
Seeing their obstinate efforts to improve their 
agricultural exploitation, one of the ablest Russian 
agriculturists, Engelgard, is certain, at least as 
far as concerns his country 


(Smolensk Province), that with time the lands of the pro- 
prietors (pomiechtchiks) will become uncultivated 
wastes, and those of the peasants flourishing gardens. 
In some places the method of culture of the peasant 
has undergone much improvement. Moreover, one 
comes across agricultural implements of a high 
order ; e.g., threshing machines drawn by horses. 
It is impossible also not to notice, in comparing the 
harvests for a period of fifteen to twenty years, that 
the tilling of the fields becomes more varied. 
Lastly, even the amount of the grain harvest does 
not diminish ; on the contrary, it increases con- 
siderably. From 1834 to 1840 it yielded in Russia 
in Europe (exclusive of Poland and Finland) 
179 million " chetverts " a year; from 1864 to 
1866, over the same area, 200 million; in 1873, 
more than 272 million. But this victory is dearly 

The necessity of working poor land, the high rents, 
the want of cattle and of capital, all these causes 
have a very bad influence on the quality and price 
of the produce. Recently, they have begun to 
affect the international market. The better sorts 
of grain, i.e., the various qualities of wheat, whose 
prices especially rise with that of rent, tend more 
and more to give place to American produce. Dur- 
ing the last few years, the competition of India, 
which produces wheat at a very low price, has 
become still more formidable than the American. 
Russian rye remains more firm upon the world- 
market, perhaps because the peasants cultivate it on 
their own land more frequently than other cereals. 
But rye is one of the cereals that yields least profit 


and sells at the lowest rate. The same competition 
affects the other products of rural economy. Flax, 
one of the principal elements of Russian commerce, 
is compelled to give way before that of Italy and 
of India. In 1885 the British Consul, Mr. Mitchell, 
even made an official representation to the Govern- 
ment, in which it was stated that if the growing of 
Russian flax did not improve, the English merchants 
would not be able to buy any more of it. 1 

What will happen if the Russian rural economy 
is beaten on the European market ? Where will 
Russia find means to procure the products of Euro- 
pean industry ? Let us remember that over 90 
per cent, of Russian exportation consists of agricul- 
tural products. These questions become singularly 
grave in view of the commercial crisis. In 1884 
Russian exportation fell 572,820,000 rubles, as 
compared with that of 1883. In 1885, judging 
from the earlier months at least, the situation seemed 
worse still ; the exportation during January and 
February fell 6£ million rubles, as compared with 
the year before. 

1 Moscow' Gazette, 1885, No. 156. 


Industry. — Efforts of Government in favour of large capital. — 
Speculation. — Joint-stock companies. — Railroads. — Protec- 
tionist tariffs. — Trans-Caucasus and frontier questions. — 
Germans in Poland. — Wonderful remedy proposed by 
Katkov. — Commercial balance-sheet. 

The economic policy of the State has had indirect 
as well as direct influence on the condition of agri- 
culture. Its dominating tendency the last thirty 
years has always been the creation of a large 
capital, which, it was pretended, ought to develop 
the industrial forces of Russia just as it has done 
in Western Europe. 

The anxiety to imitate Western Europe con- 
strained our economic politicians to concern them- 
selves greatly with the development of manu- 
facturing industry. With this end in view, the 
Government neglected no means, spared no interest 
of the enormous majority of the population that 
furnished it with the money necessary to the de- 
velopment of a large capital. The State was like 
a sort of pump, drawing from the bosom of Russia 
the smallest particles of the people's revenues, to 
water with them the germs of large capital. Thanks 
to this policy, the placing of capital in serious 



industrial enterprises became in Russia less advan- 
tageous than the employment of it in speculation. 
From that time forth was created, as far as indus- 
try was concerned, a most unhealthy atmosphere. 
Agriculture, beholding all capital turning from 
her, felt most severely the consequences of this 
policy, which had also its fatal influence on manu- 
facturing industry itself. We can judge, e.g. how 
abnormal is this general tendency of capital in 
Russia by the part it plays in the various joint- 
stock companies. 

In 1880, these companies had a capital of 
6,600 million francs. This sum was made up as 
follows : — 

1. Railway and steamboat companies . 5,370 millions. 

2. Banks and insurance companies . 400 „ 

3. Trade and industrial companies . 830 „ 

Thus we see that 80 per cent, of the share- 
capital was invested in means of communication. 
And why ? Unfortunately, that is not difficult to 
understand. Because the Government has wasted 
on railroads nearly 6,000 million francs that it had 
derived from rural economy and by borrowing. In 
this direction then the Government opened a credit, 
guaranteed a revenue to capital. Of course every 
one rushed at an investment so excellent, in which 
money could be made, not only with no risk, but 
even without capital. In Russia there have also 
been made a large number of railroads in no sense 
necessary for economic purposes, and not in a 
position to cover their expenses. At the present 
time the Government reimburses these companies 
without a future, with millions of guarantees. Thus, 



in 1884, 1 more than 14 million rubles were paid in 
guarantees, i.e., nearly 3 per cent, on all the share- 
capital of the railway companies. And moreover, 
all this capital 2 was really received by the companies 
directly from the hands of the Government. In 
1 88 1 the whole of the share-capital (excepting that 
which belonged to the Government) was 554 million 
rubles. As to the debt of the companies to the 
Government — it amounted to 530 millions. 3 We 
see from this that the companies themselves have 
only created a capital of about 24 millions. The 
joint-stock banks, and unfortunately also the town 
banks, were still a considerable source of gain. 

Not to wear} T the reader with a mass of details, 
I will only mention here a single example of the 
speculations to which the economic policy of the 
State gave scope. Wishing to keep up the rate 
of Russian bills abroad, the Government of Alex- 
ander II. for many years paid the difference between 
their real value and their price on the European 
market. This measure was extended to all the 
capital sent abroad. It was a means of getting 
money from the State of genial simplicity. Specu- 
lation did not lose the opportunity. This is how 
it was done. Money was sent into Russia ; then, 
when it had been turned into Russian values, it was 
sent abroad again, to begin the same operation over 
again. Unfortunately I have not enough data to 
calculate how many millions the speculators made 

1 I calculate the metallic ruble at four francs, the paper ruble 
at 254 centimes. 

2 The Russian Gazette, 1884; No. 193. 

3 Golovatchev : " History of Russian Railroads," p. 383. 


in this way; but at all events they made colossal 

Can any serious industrial enterprise exist in a 
country in which money can be made with such ease 
and simplicity ? Here one side of the economic 
policy of the State — thecreation of capital — destroyed 
the other— the creation of modern industry. Con- 
sequently the Government was compelled to redouble 
its efforts in order to attain this second end. Its 
policy became more and more protectionist. Russian 
industry was shielded from foreign competition by 
a sufficiently protective tariff, although it might 
be regarded as comparatively liberal. In 1877 the 
custom-house duties were ordered to be paid in 
gold. In 188 1 the tariff was raised 10 per cent. 
In 1885, a fresh rise of 20 per cent. At the same 
time industry was encouraged by forced orders. It is 
the custom, when concessions are made to railroads, 
to make it a condition that the contractor shall order 
a certain quantity of rails and rolling stock from 
Russian works. Direct subsidies again come to 
the rescue of industry, as at the Neva Works. On 
the world-market also, Russian industry is always 
supported by the Government. Alexander II. 
carried this protection to the most extreme limits. 
Alexander III. seems to mean going further yet. 
At the present moment, to maintain her modern 
industry, Russia is sacrificing the most important 
political interests, both in the question of the Trans- 
Caucasus route and in the questions of frontier with 
Finland and Poland. 

If, starting at Paris, we draw a straight line to 
Calcutta, the line runs through the Caucasus. Thus 


Russia holds in her hands the shortest road to India. 
Hence, when the railway from Poti to Bakou, which 
joins the Black and Caspian Seas, was made, and 
when, after that, the making of the line from Kras- 
novodsk (on the Caspian Sea) to the borders of 
Afghanistan was begun, Russia had in her hands 
one of the most important commercial arteries of 
the world. It is easy to understand what political 
influence upon Europe this one line from Poti to 
Bakou would give to Russia. It is easy to see that 
not only the Trans-Caucasus region, but also the 
Trans-Caspian — until now held to Russia mainly 
by force of arms — would be attached to her by the 
powerful force of economic interest Holding both 
parts of this route, which is of value only as a whole, 
Russia w r ould have tight in her grasp both the 
regions traversed by the two portions of the route 
from the Black Sea to Afghanistan. On the other 
hand, it is easy to understand the discontent and 
irritation that would break out against Russia in 
these regions, if she took from them by force the 
enormous advantages the geographical position of 
the country gives them. Besides, there is the 
possible reduction of military expenses in the 
Caucasus and Trans-Caspian region. All this has 
been sacrificed to a handful of Russian manufac- 
turers and merchants. The Russian Government, 
anxious to give these men the monopoly of the 
commerce with Persia and the Trans- Caspian 
regions, has forbidden transit by the Trans- Caucasian 
railway. And yet the whole of the Russian com- 
mercial traffic with abroad that goes by way of the 
Trans-Caucasus route and the Caspian Sea does 


not exceed 2 1 million rubles (less than half of this 
is Russian goods). Further, there are only ex- 
ported by this route 4 millions of manufactured 
products that are threatened with competition. The 
reader will see to the profit of what futile industrial 
interests the gravest political ones are sacrificed. 

The same sort of thinof has now occurred as to 
Finland, and is threatening again as to Poland. In 
both these countries, industry develops more rapidly 
than in Russia. In 1872, Russia imported into 
Finland manufactured goods to the extent of 
1,500,000 rubles, and received from her 3,863,000 
of goods. In 1882, this state of things was modified, 
again to the disadvantage of Russia ; her exportation 
of manufactured goods to Finland was 2,888,000 
rubles, whilst that of Finland to Russia had risen 
to 9,673,000. Thus it is clear Russian industry 
cannot protect its market from the influx of manu- 
factured goods from Finland. In 1885 there was 
an active agitation fomented by Russian manufac- 
turers in favour of a raising of customs dues on the 
Finland frontier. Besides other things, the Finns 
were accused of introducing into Russia European 
goods as products of their own factories. To a 
certain extent this assertion is accurate. But every- 
one knows how important to Russia, from the poli- 
tical point of view, are satisfactory relations with the 
Grand Duchy. The complaints of the manufacturers 
have, however, prevailed, and in 1885 the customs 
dues on the Finland frontier were raised. This 
will estrange Finland, already chafing at a forced 
alliance with Russia, yet further from her. 

Customs duties between Russia and Poland have 


been for a lone time abolished ; so that it is difficult to 
give an exact account of the victories that the Poles 
have won on the Russian market. In any case 
they must be very great, since they have been able 
to fashion an economic link between Russia and 
Poland that even the latter fears to break. The 
industry of the Polish kingdom develops much more 
rapidly than that of Russia. In the last sixteen years 
the sum total of the factory production in Russia in 
Europe has increased 99 per cent. 1 The number 
of workers employed by the works and factories 
has during the same time risen 15 per cent. In 
Poland, in these sixteen years, production has in- 
creased 196 per cent, and the number of workers 
67 per cent. For this enormous progress Poland 
is undoubtedly in part indebted to agrarian reform. 
The emancipation of the peasants there has been 
carried out much more fully than in Russia, and 
this has largely increased the well-being of the 
mass of the people. But the chief reason, in all 
probability, is not this. It must be looked for in 
the prohibitive Russian tariff. The German manu- 
facturers, meeting with difficulties in the importa- 
tion of their goods into Russia, thought it would be 
better to found branches of their factories beyond 
the frontier. Hence, all along this frontier sprang 
up colonies of German factories with German capital, 
managers and workmen. These advance guards of 
the German nation form sometimes whole villages, 
as in the case of the celebrated Lodz, the foremost 

1 If the low value of the ruble is taken into account, the 
increase is much less, although in any case it is not less than 
52 per cent. 


industrial town in the kingdom. In i860, the popu- 
lation was made up in nearly equal parts of Poles 
on the one hand, Germans and Jews on the other. 
Now, it numbers 70,000. ' The town is so German, 
that when one of its German journals (it has not 
a Polish one) opened its columns to the Poles, 1 the 
Poles hailed this tolerance as a victory. The in- 
dustry of Poland is, as we see, to a large extent only 
German, and by virtue of this presents a real danger 
to Russian industry, since it has on its side the 
enormous capitals, the enterprise, the ability of 

What measures are taken to ward off this danger ? 
Alas ! the mean interests of the manufacturers con- 
tinue to blind the eyes of the Government. Instead 
of altering its economic policy, the Government con- 
fines itself to raising its prohibitive tariffs. In the 
circles whose opinion is always the forerunner of 
Government decisions, there is talk of extravagant 
projects that threaten the very integrity of the 
empire. The manufacturers demand the establish- 
ment of a customs frontier between Russia and 
Poland. The Moscow Gazette goes further. It 
proposes simply to yield to Germany all that part 
of Poland which German industry has conquered- 
A fine, wise project, truly ! And then what will 
happen, when the Germans, after absorbing the 
1,000 square leagues ceded them, leap, with their 
workmen, the new frontier ? Shall we have to yield 
them in fifteen years another 1,000 or 10,000 square 
leagues ? Must half Russia be sacrificed to protect 

1 There is now a Polish journal at Lodz — the Dzennik Lodzky 
(Lodz Manorial). 


the interests of the Muscovite manufacturers ? In 
fine, who exists for the sake of the other ? The 
manufacturers for Russia, or Russia for the manu- 
facturers ? 

The reader will see plainly that the mania for 
protecting modern industry, that has cost Russia so 
many hundreds of thousands, has thus far failed to 
give a firm position to Russian industry. If this 
last, protected from all competition, does develop 
at all, it remains sickly and weak. At the present 
moment, it not only is afraid to run any risk on the 
international market, but it is not even firmly estab- 
lished on the Russian. In 1885, with a view to 
induce the manufacturers of beet-root sugar (one of 
the most important branches of Russian industry) 
to venture on the world-market, the Government 
promised a bounty of one ruble per poud (16 kilo- 
grams) of sugar exported abroad, and the return of 
the excise duties. Now, to get the necessary sup- 
plies for the payment of bounties, the excise duties 
on suo^ar consumed in Russia have been raised. 

This is a slight illustration of the continual over- 
payments that the people of Russia are compelled 
to make in favour of industry. And yet this same 
industry is very slow at conquering the foreign 
market. The value of the factory produce exported 
by Russia in proportion to the general value of 
exported things was — 


1 1847-1851 

. io*o per cent 


1865-1867 . 

7*5 » 


1873-1877 . 

• • 25 „ 


1S78-1882 . 

2-0 „ 

Thus the part played in Russian exportation by 
vol. 1. u 


factory produce is becoming more and more insig- 
nificant. What is still more dangerous is, that the 
produce of the Russian factories is not even secure 
on its own ground. From 1865 to 1867, the factory 
products that came on to the Russian market were 
worth on an average 697,500,000 rubles a year : 
9 per cent, of this was furnished by products im- 
ported from abroad. From 1878 to 1882, the 
demands of the market having increased, the factory 
products rose to 1,335 million rubles a year, but in 
this foreign products figure at 11 per cent., and that 
without reckoning the enormous amount of contra- 
band goods or the produce of the German factories 
in Poland. Finally, that the dependent position, 
industrially speaking, of Russia as compared with 
the surrounding countries, is increasing may be seen 
indisputably by the proportion between the exporta- 
tion of Russian factory products and the importation 
of similar foreign products. From 1873 to 1877, 
the former were 8*4 per cent of the latter. From 
1878 to 1882 they were already only 8*i per cent. ; 
from which it follows that the amount of manufac- 
tured goods imported into Russia increases more 
rapidly than the amount of those exported. 

Thus the tremendous efforts that have been made 
to create a large capital in Russia by fettering the 
development of her agriculture, nevertheless have 
failed to give a solid basis of operations to manu- 
facturing industry. The productive forces of the 
country are in a condition of great debility that 
presages no good. From this there results an 
extremely abnormal consequence to the commercial 
balance-sheet. As a whole, the foreign trade does 


without doubt increase. In 1858, its total turn-over 
was only 300 million rubles ; in 1882, it amounted 
to the enormous figure of 1,223 millions. It is true 
that a large part of this increase is purely fictitious, 
that the increase in the number of rubles is in part 
due to the fall in their value. But if we subtract 
from the exportation-figures for 1882, 40 per cent, 
to allow for the rate of exchange of the ruble, 
nevertheless the increase in the commercial turn- 
over will be very large. This state of affairs, at 
first sight favourable, will however, if we examine 
the commercial balance-sheet, appear in quite 
another light. Actually in the ten years from 1873 
to 1882 1 the sum total of Russian exportation was 
4,964 million rubles, and that of Russian importa- 
tion 5,117 millions. Thus the productive forces of 
the country were quite insufficient to pay with their 
own goods those foreign goods absolutely indispen- 
able to them. In such a position, in order to effect 
payment, capital itself must be encroached upon, 
and in point of fact, the exportation of precious 
metals (in coin or bullion), rose to 386 million rubles, 
whilst their importation was only 122 millions. From 
1874 to 1878, the annual average of this excess of 
exportation of the precious metals was only 6 
million rubles ; from 1879 to 1883 it suddenly rose 
to 34 millions. 

1 In 1883 and 1884, the condition of trade was yet more 
abnormal. These years coincided with an unmistakable crisis. 


State finances. — Their condition. — State debt. — Deficit and 
monetary crisis. — Depreciation of the ruble. 

With the abnormal condition of the productive 
forces of the country that I have just explained, the 
situation of the State finances is closely connected. 

The disorder of Russian finances is no new fact, 
and the constitution alone of the country would 
have been enough to bring it about. Absolutism and 
a regular management of finances are not very 
likely to go together. Absence of control over the 
national resources is a bad stimulus to economy, and 
administrative centralization is always expensive. 

The warlike policy, sometimes demanded by 
national interests, yet more frequently kept up with 
as sole object the satisfying the ambition of tsars 
and generals, was yet more expensive. Thus the 
Government has, this long time past, had recourse 
to loans and paper money. In Russia, the latter is 
more frequent than the former. Paper money at 
forced rates, mere confiscation in the disguise of 
popular property, is very useful to Governments. If, 
e.g., the sum total of the money in circulation in a 
country is 5,000 millions, the Government, in issuing 
100 million paper rubles, only truly gets hold of 


98 million rubles (on account of the depreciation 
of silver) ; but on the other hand, the money is taken 
from the people so cleverly that the latter do not 
notice it. The people only see that everything is 
dearer, but do not ascribe their misfortunes to the 
Government, as they would do if the latter estab- 
ished a new tax or essayed open confiscation. 

Since the Government inaugurated its new eco- 
nomic policy, its expenses have increased yet further, 
and their increase always exceeds that of the re- 
venue. This is a characteristic trait of the Russian 
budget of the present time, the explanation of which 
is in the artificiality of the present Government 
policy. By following a line directly opposed to the 
tendency of the natural growth of productive forces, 
it brings about enormous expenses that are either 
not reimbursed at all, or else only to a small extent. 
Expenditure must therefore of necessity increase 
more quickly than income. 

To meet the calls upon it, the Government had 
recourse to new issues of paper money, whilst it 
gave, certainly, constant assurances of its desire to 
put an end to all such issues, and even to withdraw 
from circulation all paper money. Nevertheless, 
whilst in 1857 it only put in circulation paper equiva- 
lent to 568 million rubles, in 1883 more than 1,100 
millions were issued. It is easy to understand what 
disturbance this incessant stream of issues continu- 
ally caused in Russian industry. Only the terrible 
lowering of the rate and raising of prices restrained 
the Government, and prevented it from issuing mil- 
lions of new notes. On the other hand, it went in 
for loans with more vigour than ever. 


In 1856, the State debts were estimated at 2,537 
million rubles. In 1883 they amounted to 5,424 
millions. During these twenty-seven years the 
whole of the pecuniary resources of the State had 
been as follows : — 

1. Estimated Revenue . . 12,770 million rubles. 

2. Loans 2,887 >> » 

3. Paper-money .... 550 „ „ 

In other words, the Government spends syste- 
matically one-fifth more than its normal income, and 
thus increases its debt each year by an average sum 
of 100 million rubles. This debt has already 
reached such colossal dimensions, that the mere 
payment of the interest swallows up annually one- 
fourth of the budget (more than 200 million rubles 
out of 800 and odd millions of total expenditure). 
This debt weighs as heavily now upon Russia as 
the maintenance of her army. 

The results of this perilous financial administra- 
tion were for a time hidden by the artificial excite- 
ment produced in Russian industry by the specula- 
tion that the Government policy encouraged. Since 
then, however, the rate of exchange of the ruble 
has undergone terrible fluctuations that have been 
as disastrous to serious industrial enterprises as 
they have been advantageous to stock- exchange 
speculation. After the Crimean War, the ruble 
was for some time at four francs, then the rate fell 
slowly. 1 

At first, part of the mass of money the Govern- 

1 In 1876 the ruble was worth 316^ centimes; in 1880, 263; 
in 1883, 249. 


ment had thrown on the market came back to it in 
the form of increase of revenue ; but since 1876, the 
non-equilibrium between the forces of production 
and expenditure has taken its revenge upon the 
Government with an ever-increasing severity. An 
obstinate deficit is conspicuous in the budget. In 
the ten years, from 1876 to 1885, only three have 
shown no deficit. The deficit in the ordinary re- 
venues during the reign of Alexander III. is already 
nearly 120 millions, and the credit of Russia is so 
shaky that the intervention of Bismarck was neces- 
sary to the conclusion of the latest loan, from 
Bleichroder, of Berlin. 


Democratic character of landed property. — Transmigration of the 
peasants. — Policy of the Government. — Local industries. — 
Initiative of the peasants — Crisis in these industries. 

From that which has, gone before, the reader can 
understand that the economic condition of the people 
in Russia is very miserable. Every industrial crisis 
is always felt by the worker. The Russian worker 
feels their consequences the more acutely, as this 
unsettling of labor is accompanied by the destruc- 
tion of those forms that history has given to the 
national labor. 

Landed property in Russia has still a very demo- 
cratic character. Of the whole 433 million decia- 
tines in Russia in Europe (not counting the Northern 
Caucasus) more than 120 millions belong to the 
peasants, and 151 millions are the property of the 
State, i.e. in principle are national property. Only 
100 millions belong to landed proprietors. 1 The 
rest of the land belongs to the towns, the Cossacks, 
etc.; i.e., is in great part held directly by the working 
class. If we study the holders of land in comparison 
with the population-numbers, we find the same 
democratic principle. Ianson estimates at not less 

1 Ianson : "Statistics," vol. ii. p. 169. 


than 23 millions the number of individuals own- 
ing land in Russia. This is 36 per cent, of the 
population. Yet this is much below the truth. In 
France, the number of landed proprietors only forms 
10 per cent, of the population. But that which would 
content the agricultural population of Western 
Europe is far from satisfying that of Russia, as much 
by reason of the habits and ideas of the latter as by 
reason of the conditions of cultivation. The Russian 
looks on the land as national property. The Rus- 
sian cultivator, because of the large scale on which 
he farms, has need of a large amount of land, and 
he is in the habit of being satisfied in this respect. 
In half of Russia, the peasant is accustomed to find 
a protection against want of land in his agrarian 
commune ; and if in his own locality he should be 
straitened, he is accustomed to find in the extreme 
parts of Russia a large amount of free land, that can 
be taken possession of by the emigrant without any 
one objecting, without any payment being made. 

All these conditions have undergone a notorious 
modification at the present time. The amount of 
land cultivated by the peasants is increasing abso- 
lutely ; but relatively to the increase of the popula- 
tion, it is decreasing more and more. The commune, 
at once deprived of the protection of the laws, and 
undermined by legislation, can with difficulty main- 
tain the struggle for existence. 

I have already had occasion to speak of the 
contest in which the peasants are engaged in their 
attempt to get back equality and equity in the 
dividing up of the communal land. 

Now, as formerly, there are plenty of places, rich 


and free, for those who wish to shift their position. 
But here, also, the general tendency of the economic 
policy of the Government comes in. The removal 
of the peasants is troublesome to the landed pro- 
prietors, for it raises the price of the worker where - 
ever it occurs. The Government hampers any such 
removal with a crowd of formalities. Moreover, 
as a consequence of the same tendencies, the need 
of creating large landed proprietors compels the 
Government to place an enormous amount of free 
land in the hands of the large proprietors. Thus, 
magnificent estates in the province of Kouban were 
given to the officers of the army of the Caucasus. 
These estates had lain unoccupied since the Cher- 
kesses were driven from them. In the hands of 
their new proprietors, they still were but as waste 
lands ; for these officers had not the requisite know- 
ledge to concern themselves personally with agri- 
culture, and, moreover, they had not the capital 
indispensable for putting them in cultivation. These 
lands, however, are in any case inaccessible to the 
transmigrating population, for men do not leave the 
land of their birth in order to become farmers in 
a foreign one. The people have not the means to 
buy land ; hence the fertile region of the Black Sea, 
whose soil supported nearly a million Cherkesses, 
now has (twenty years after its annexation to 
Russia), not more than 15,000 inhabitants. With 
the like exorbitant generosity, the land out in the 
east, in the provinces of Oufa and Orenburg, was 
given to officers and officials. This is the reason 
why, although there are vast extents of land un- 
populated, the peasant does not know where to go. 


My readers will hardly believe, that even where the 
attempt is made to attract the population, e.g., on 
the banks of the river Amour, the Government 
reserves the best land for the treasury and its own 
dependants, and only lets the immigrant peasants 
have the worst. This is done, because later on, 
when the country is populated, the lands thus re- 
served will yield a good revenue. The most im- 
portant result obtained is, that the country remains 
a desert The limited population makes vain efforts 
upon an ungrateful soil, whilst hard by splendid land 
is over-run with weeds and is the haunt of deer. 

Even in Russia this short-sighted policy is begin- 
ning to cause general disquietude, for it threatens 
the breaking-up of the Russian hold on the Amour. 
The Chinese, who constantly dream of recovering 
this country from Russia, are making great efforts to 
people the bank of this river that has fallen to their 
share. Already even they are crossing over to the 
Russian bank ; and the congress, summoned in 1886 
by the governor-general, reported that the district 
of Nikolaevsk alone is free from Chinese influence. 
And in Russia, over boundless tracts of land is dis- 
persed a poor population of scarcely 87,000, and 
this thirty years and more after the annexation. 
In this 87,000 are included the soldiers ; the rest of 
the population (49,000) is made up of foreigners, 
of whom 35,000 are Chinese and inhabitants of the 
Corea. 1 

Of course, the transmigration of the Russian 
people does not cease ; on the contrary, it assumes 
great proportions. Unfortunately, the statistics of 
1 See Review of the East, 1886, No. 27. 


the question have been very little studied, so that 
it is difficult to give on this subject figures even 
approximately correct. Nevertheless, the major 
part of the peasants are obliged to remain cooped 
up in their native country on their parcelled-out 
lands. Their only resource is the farming of lands 
belonging to the large landed proprietors, and work 
on the fields of the latter. But farming means the 
possession of means, and as to work, the landed 
proprietors have little of it to give. It is impossible 
not to pause for a moment on this fact. Whilst the 
number of peasants seeking work goes on increasing, 
the estates of the landed proprietors employ only 
an insignificant amount of labor. If we take eight 
provinces l in the most fertile region of the Black 
Sea, where cultivation by large landed proprietors 
is most developed, we find that in these eight pro- 
vinces cultivation by the large landed proprietors 
only yields employment to 15,938 laborers (men 
and women) ; but the number of peasants there of 
working age is 485,946. From these figures an idea 
can be formed of the peasant's difficulty in finding 
work with the landed proprietors, when the tilling 
his own land presents difficulties. 

Something of the same sort is seen in industry. 
To the mass of our population local industries 
(koustarnitchestvo) have always been and are now 
a great assistance. The koustarnitchestvo compre- 
hends the little local industries with which the whole 
or part of the family of the peasant busy themselves 
without giving up, on this account, agriculture. Of 

1 Those of Soudja, Rylsk, Dmitriev, Fatiej, Lgov, Poltava, 
Zenkov, Voronej. 


course this industry is better developed in the less 
fertile provinces, and especially in the central pro- 
vinces of Grand Russia. At the present time, even 
in Moscow Province, where manufacturing 
industry has attained an enormous development, it 
only yields the population 13 per cent. 1 of what they 
earn by labor, while the small local industry gives 
18 per cent. The history of this small local industry 
is full of remarkable examples of energy, activity, 
and sagacity on the part of the peasants. 

How does the local industry arise in a particular 
village ? 

In most cases thus. Whilst he is at Moscow or 
St. Petersburg or some other town, a peasant notices 
some calling or other that seems of use for his own 
district. When he gets home, he tries to follow it. 
If he is successful, his neighbours learn it, and the 
particular calling finds its way into volosts and whole 

Sometimes the appearance of an industry in a 
village is due to some quite accidental cause. In 
the district of Miedyn, a postilion from Moscow 
broke his " douga," (a curved piece of wood that 
forms part of Russian harness), and left it on the 
road. A peasant picked it up. He looked at the 
broken douo-a, and saw it was made of the wood of 
a tree whole forests of which grew in that district. 
He tried to make a douga, succeeded, and now this 
industry brings in to the people of Miedyn some ten 
thousand rubles. 

In a precisely similar way, a particular method of 
wool-knitting was started in the province of Moscow 

1 "Statistics of the Zemstvo of Moscow/' vii. Part III. 


as result of a peasant woman finding by the road- 
side a woollen cap some one had lost. 

Similar cases abound in the history of local in- 
dustry, which includes the most diverse branches 
of smithwork, cutlery, the making of buttons and 
musical instruments, weaving, pottery, etc. 

The steadiness at work of the peasant is generally 
beyond all praise. He has a religious respect for 
work, and says that " God loves labor." " Every 
spare moment," says a competent observer, u is de- 
voted to some work or other. A little girl of eleven, 
if you ask her what she does in the winter, answers 
that she has spun, has prepared thread for two cloths, 
each of seven murs (a mur contains five archines), 
then yarn for stockings, lastly that she has knitted 
twenty pairs of socks. 

" ' And what did you do after that ? ' 

" ' Helped mother look after the cattle, swept 
out the izba, minded the children. In autumn I 
thrashed corn.' 

" ' You know how to thrash corn ? ' 

" ' They made me a flail lighter than the rest, and 
last autumn I thrashed wheat' 

" A child of eleven did all this work." 

Moreover, the peasants have not a very strong 
liking for routine. On the contrary, whenever this 
is possible, they very often improve methods of pro- 
duction, and if one kind of industry is no longer 
advantageous, they pass by degrees to another. The 
diversity of Russian small local industry is of com- 
paratively recent origin ; sometimes it springs up 

1 "Statistics of Moscow," vii. Part II. p. 147. 



under our very eyes, and most frequently it has not 
been in existence a century. This flexibility gives 
the small industrial man the power to compete even 
with the factories. 

A year ago, a German, Herr Blomkwist, after 
studying Russian small local industry from the life, 
predicted its future. But of this I do not think one 
can be certain. It must be borne in mind that in 
Russia nothing is done for the small industrial 
worker (koustar) ; there are no technical schools, no 
model museums, no credit for the producer, no 
markets to facilitate the sale of his products. As 
result of all these disadvantages, the small industrial 
worker, deprived of technical as well as of general 
education, not in a position to see good models, often 
ignorant even of where his produce goes or by 
whom it is used — is of necessity outstripped in the 
technique of his industry by the factory. Then he 
has no capital, and either works alone or with two 
or three wage-laborers, sometimes (but very rarely) 
in a small organization. All these causes prevent 
him from selling his wares to any great extent, and 
from using the necessary machines, etc. ; and all this 
makes his work very unremunerative. Generally, 
he only holds on because he is content with the 
minimum of gain. Thus, e.g., in the province of 
Moscow, the weaver, employed in a factory, earns 
13 to 14 rubles a month. The weaver who works 
on his own account only earns 5 to 6. 1 Yet he 
prefers working at home, since then he need not 
give up the tilling of his own land. But small as 

1 " Statistics of the Zemstvo of Moscow," vii. Part III. 


the gain may be with which he has to be content, 
competition with the factory is only possible within 
certain limits. 

Production on the large scale, brought to a greater 
pitch of perfection, lowers the price of the product 
to such an extent, that the " small man," if he does 
not mean working for nothing, is compelled to give 
up his industry completely, or else to turn to some 
other kind not yet encroached upon by manufac- 
turing production. Often he chooses a middle way. 
He works for the factory at home. The factory be- 
comes his agent. In the silk factories of Moscow, 
where hand labor is still employed, 80 per cent, of 
the produce is made by small industrial workers, to 
whom the proprietors of these factories distribute 
the material that they work up at home. It is clear 
that this compromise is only possible so long as the 
factory is not yet strong enough to use steam. As 
soon as machinery is at work, the home-worker must 
choose between ruin and the role of a wage-worker. 

Industry, however, is far from developing with 
sufficient speed to give work to all the small indus- 
trial men. According to the approximate calculations 
of the Statistical Military Summary, there are more 
than 5,000,000 of these. As to the number of the 
hands employed in the factories of Russia in Europe, 
in 1882 it was only 954,970, and this number, having 
regard to the increase of population, has remained 
stationary. In 1866, according to the Summary, 
(v. s.) the total number of hands employed by the 
factories was 1*3 per cent, of the population; in 
1882, it was i*2, i.e., it is diminishing comparatively. 
Thus wages are in such a position with respect to 


supply and demand that the latter can only lower 
them. And the mass of the peasants here, as in 
agriculture, as they see their little independent 
industry decrease, have no hope of finding com- 
pensation for their losses by entering the factories 
as wage- workers. 

VOL. I. 


Material condition of the Russian people. — Budget of the well-to- 
do family and of the indigent. — -Workmen's wages. — Budget 
of the Muscovite peasants. — Food.— Famine-bread. — Growth 
of population. — Births and deaths. 

What, in such conditions, can be the material situa- 
tion of the masses ? 

Here are some figures that will give an idea 
of it. 

Semienov, a very careful observer, calls a family 
in the province of Riazan comfortably off if it has 
ten members (including children) and 340 rubles of 
yearly income, i.e., 34 on an average per member. 
An indigent family would be four members at 
112 rubles a year, i.e., 28 on an average per head. 
But in the self-same district there are families so 
miserable that with four members they have only 
20 rubles of income, i.e., an average of five rubles 
a head. 1 Naturally, a family as poor as this has 
to beg ; and in Russian villages beggars are not un- 
common. A large number of tillers of the soil are 
obliged for a certain time each year, whilst they are 

1 Sokolovskii : " Summary of Materials for the Study of the 
Agrarian Commune," pp. 140 <?/ seq. 



waiting for the harvest to ripen, to beg their bread. 
Every peasant looks upon it as a duty to help the 
needy, who perhaps next year may do the same for 

From this an idea may be formed as to how 
precarious is the condition of the peasant. In Tver Province, 
the statistics of the zemstvo 
declare as indispensable to a family of peasants (five 
to seven in number) comfortably off, an income of 
191 rubles, i.e., nearly 34 per head. It is not 
always possible to get this for the peasants. 1 

Laborers' wages vary greatly ; their amount 
depends on the kind of occupation and the condition 
of industry generally. Ianjoul — as official inspector 
he is well up in the subject — declares that the wages 
of the Russian worker are 400 per cent, below 
those of the American and 300 per cent, below those 
of the English. 2 

In Moscow Province, all the money 
earned in agriculture, the factories, the koustarn- 
itchestvo or any other industry, makes up a sum 
of 42 million rubles, which, divided among 
1,195,000 peasants, gives 35*5 per man per year. 3 
And as Moscow Province is by no means 
the poorest, one may take these numbers as approxi- 
mately accurate for all Russia. 

However cheap living may be in Russia, this miser- 

1 " How the Labor of a Peasant Family tolerably well off is 
Recompensed in Tver Province." 

Report to the Society of Jurisprudence," December 24th, 

3 "Statistics of the Zemstvo of Moscow," vii., Part III. 


able sum nevertheless is not even enough for the 
most meagre existence. The artisan and peasant 
reduce their wants to a minimum inconceivable by 
the workers of other lands. Pieskov, Inspector of 
Factories in Vladimir Province, has made 
a calculation, according to which the factory hand 
ought to spend on his food five to six rubles, or 
even as little as two and a half to three, per month. 
What can a man get to eat for ten kopeks a day ? 
"Sometimes," says Pieskov, "the laborers eat no 
meat at all, and live solely on bread, poustyia chtchi 
(cabbage soup made with water only), and buck- 
wheat with a little fat or oil. Sometimes the 
laborer has 37 grams of meat a day, and in the 
most favourable cases nearly 103 grams of meat or 
fish." " 

The peasant replaces meat by mushrooms, nu- 
tritive but indigestible food. The ordinary food of 
the laborers is noticeable for its simplicity. It is 
a soup of kvass, with a great deal of onions and very 
little fish, or a cabbage soup seasoned with flour, but 
no meat, or only a mere fragment, anything just to 
give it a flavour. This solitary dish the laborer 
eats with an enormous quantity of brown bread, the 
staple food. 

If we look at the rations of the peasant families, 
even of those that are not the poorest, we find 
the people content with the strictly necessary 
things. Let us take as an instance family No. 2 of 
the pamphlet " The Callings in the Government of 

1 Pieskov : " Life in the Factories of the Government of Vla- 


Moscow." Expenditure for each member of the 
family, 41*5 rubles {i.e. above the average). Well, 
in the accounts we find all sorts of expenditure 
for bread, salt, greens, buckwheat, cucumbers, etc. 
There are only 131 kilograms 220 grams of meat in 
the year for a family of eight, and only 150 eggs. 
The one luxury is a little tea and sugar. Expen- 
diture on holidays in taverns or elsewhere, for the 
whole family, 4 rubles a year. The total outlay on 
luxury is only 2 per cent, on the total expenditure. 
Here we are speaking of the peasant who is not 
badly off. Very often the peasant has not even this 
poor supply of food. Then he mixes with his flour, 
bran, husks, or pine-bark. 

In certain poor localities, e.g., in the government 
of Kazan famine-bread or pouschnoi is constantly 
on the table of the peasant Here is an analysis of 
this bread made in the laboratory of the University 
of Kazan : — 

" The size is that of an ordinary cake ; thickness 
about 1 \ centimetre. The surface is of a dirty grey, 
and where it is broken, deep brown. It is very 
brittle, and has not been long baked. On its surface 
and at the places where it is broken there is a large 
quantity of the envelopes of the grain and of husks. 
Sometimes it has a salt and gritty taste, as if it were 
a mineral. It has not the taste of bread. Micro- 
scopic analysis reveals the presence of a large 
amount of foreign matter, of rye and husks. This 
proves the bread to contain rye. The analysis yields 
7 '6 per cent, ash, and 24 per cent, water. In the 
ash there is a considerable quantity of chlorates. 


The chloroform test has determined the presence 
of a large amount of mineral admixture." 

Thus a chemical and microscopic analysis is 
necessary before it can be decided whether this is 
bread or a piece of mud. Yet this " bread " is the 
food of thousands of people, and at times, when the 
harvests are bad, of millions perhaps. Is it not 
matter for surprise that the peasants are strong 
enough to be able to live on such food ? Often no 
strength that is theirs can bear up against these 
privations. The degeneration of the race is just 
now an ascertained fact. The average stature of 
the people has diminished — their physical strength 
is lessening. It was said above that the increase of 
population in Russia is very great. This increase 
results from the fecundity of the people. The 
coefficient of births in European Russia is on the 
average 4/8 per cent, and even 5 in some of the 
provinces, whilst the most prolific people in Europe, 
the Prussians, have only a coefficient of 3*8, and 
France only 2 '6 per cent. On the other hand, the 
rate of mortality in Russia is disproportionately high, 
and has risen considerably these last few years. 
From 1859 to 1863 the rate was 3'6 percent. ; from 
1868 to 1870, 373 per cent. 1 

In many places in Russia, it is proved that the 
number of deaths is greater even than that of the 
births. This holds good at times of whole govern- 
ments, e.g., that of Kazan, and of many volosts in 
the north. According to the conclusions from the 

1 Rate of mortality in Prussia 27 per cent. ; in France still 
lower, 2*1 (Ianson, "Statistics" I.). 


Moscow statistics, these localities are precisely those 
in which the personal working of the soil by the 
peasants is at an end. There is nothing extra- 
ordinary in this. For Modern Industry, on the 
development of which the Government spends 
enormous sums, with a persistent sacrifice of the 
interests of the working class, can only give a liveli- 
hood to a very small fraction of the people.