everything like political life, that accounts | Russian institutions. They are well worth for his having kept many good qualities, which, if the whole weight of tyranny had pressed upon him, would have crush ed all the good out of his character.

How was it, however, that not only an absolute government, but the thousand petty local tyrants respected the organization of the commune? The answer to this is, that there are some things which every government must respect, and on the few occasions on which the Russian government was imprudent enough not to respect the communes-as, for instance, in the affair of the military colonies under Alexander I.-it was met by a resistance which, coming from one of the gentlest of races, seemed so preternaturally savage that it has for a long time taken good care to let well alone. The occasional encroachments of the seigneurs were checked by similar opposition, accompanied too often by great though not unprovoked cruelty.

The justice of the village tribunal is, it would appear, of a very rough-and-ready kind, and by no means dispenses with the argument from the stick, which is so frightfully common in Russia. Those who have witnessed a meeting of villagers to discuss their common affairs, give a curious account of the gradual process by which a conventional unanimity is arrived at, and it has been well pointed out how completely this Sclavonic idea of a conventional unanimity broke down, when, transferred from the narrow circle of the commune, it was adapted in the Polish Diet to great affairs.

Most persons will see in the communal institutions of Russia merely an interest ing sample of arrested social development, and will look with interest for the slow and gradual breaking up of the communes, and their replacement by individual ownership. M. Herzen is, or was in 1853, of a different opinion. He thinks, or thought, that Russia with her commune stands before an epoch in which the anti-communal civilization of feudalism and the Roman law has come to a dead-lock, and he dreams or dreamt that the barbarians of the north, and our home barbarians, may find out that they have a common enemy, the old feudal monarchical edifice, and a common hope, the social revolution." His friend, M. Ogareff, wrote his Lettres à un Anglais, published in 1862, chiefly to bring out and defend the Socialist side of



The communal institutions of Russia are far older than its serfdom. They saw that evil institution begin as they have seen it end. Serfdom, properly so called, only began in Russia with the reign of the usurper Boris Godunoff, and with St. George's day of the year 1593. It was on that day that the peasants, whose rights of moving from one master to another had been for some time confined to that festival, became through enormous districts adscripti gleba. Afterwards, however, and more especially in the reign of Peter the Great, things became much worse, but it was Catherine the Second who completed the iniquity by introducing serf dom into the wide region called Little Russia, which did not form part of the empire of Boris Godunoff.

The agricultural serfs were divided into two great classes-those who were obliged to work for a certain length of time, generally three days in the week, for their masters, and those who were bound to pay an obrok or rent. This rent was almost always moderate, and the peasants who paid it were generally the happiest, This was particularly the case in the great central governments of Jaroslav and Vladimir, whose inhabitants wander all over Russia, exercising their various trades, and paying to their seigneur a small acknowl edgment. A few grands seigneurs possessed serfs who were enormously wealthy. This was the case more especially with the great family of Cheremetieff. Of course, according to law, all the property of those wealthy serfs belonged to their masters, but a custom stronger than law prevented this right being often enforced, although there were exceptions, and sometimes very melancholy exceptions to this rule, for an account of some of which we may refer to La Russie et les Russes.

In addition to the agricultural serfs, there was a still more unhappy class who were really very nearly slaves, and who were called personal serfs or dvorovyé. M. Tourguénef says of them, "On les appelle en Russie gens de cour (dvorovyé), et pour ne pas donner aux courtisans la même denomination on a inventé pour eux une variante, en les appellant gens près de la cour (pridvorovyé).

The idea of emancipating the serfs was not a new one. The serfs of the Baltic provinces became freemen in name, if in

name only, under Alexander the First; and Nicholas during the latter part of his reign bestowed much attention upon a project which was to apply to the whole of the rest of the country where servitude existed. It is said that the present emperor was, when heir to the throne, by no means favorable to the project; and that the Grand Duke Constantine was its chief partisan in the imperial family, while Count Kisseleff, Count Bludoff who died this year in honorable poverty, after having exercised enormous power for many years, and General Bibikoff who had already introduced considerable improvements in the situation of the peasantry in Kieff, Volhynia, and Podolia, were its principal supporters in their immediate entourage. Prince Dolgoroukoff tells in the first number of his Review called Le Véridique, a curious story of the deathbed of Nicholas, and traces what Alexander the Second has done since, to the words of his father upon that occasion.

When the emancipation had been fairly determined upon, the nobles were request ed to send in their views as to the way in which certain general principles, which the emperor declared were to be the basis of his great reform, should be carried out. Forty-six provincial committees labored for eighteen months to come to an agreement as to details, but without arriving at any result very satisfactory to the government, which afterwards took the affairs into its own hands. Upon one point, and almost upon one only, were all parties agreed, and that was that no indemnity was to be paid to the proprietors for their personal rights over the serfs.

The state of feeling which prevailed during the transition period which intervened between the announcement of the intention of the government, and the production of its plan, were well described to English readers in the pages of Russia by a Recent Traveller, a small but very remarkable book which was published at the office of the Continental Review in the year 1859. The situation was to the last degree uneasy, and might have become dangerous; the government only obeyed the dictates of common sense in at last taking the affair into its own hands.

The landed proprietors, by the testimony of one who had perhaps a better right to express an opinion upon the subject than any other man, showed in the

whole transaction all the defects and all the merits of the Russian character. While the method of emancipation was still uncertain, they were most unpractical and unsatisfactory in their suggestions. When it was once settled, they threw themselves heartily into it, and have tried honestly to carry it out.

The whole number of serfs, male and female, in the beginning of 1861, was about twenty-three millions, but of these considerably more than half a million may be left out of count, as the arrangements which applied to them were special, and not those of the general measure of enfranchisement. The 22,500,000 serfs to whom that measure applied were scattered for the most part over forty-six governments of European Russia. The excepted governments were Archangel, where there were hardly any serfs, the three Baltic provinces which, as we have seen, were under a different régime, and the district inhabited by the Cossacks of the Black Sea where serfdom never existed. In Siberia there were in all only 3700 serfs. Out of these 22,500,000, about 1,300,000 were dvorovyé, the rest were ordinary peasants.

The proclamation of enfranchisement was issued on the 3d of March, 1861. By that proclamation all the serfs instantly acquired personal liberty and civil rights, but it remained to regulate the relations between them and their former masters in respect to the land. For this a period of two years was allowed.

With a view to effect this purpose, the government created a new body of offcials, answering somewhat to our justices of the peace, and taken from amongst the gentry of the country. On them was thrown the duty of arbitrating, upon certain fixed principles, between the serfs and their former lords, and of seeing that the deeds of agreement between these parties were correctly drawn up. The clearest and most succinct account of what has been done which we can recommend to the ordinary reader, is the pamphlet published by M. Milutine last year in Paris, and which was originally read as a paper at the meeting of the French Politico-Economical Society, in May, 1863. M. Milutine has taken a very active part in devising and carrying out the government scheme, and no man is better entitled to speak about it.

In May, 1863, when he read his paper

before the Economists of Paris, nearly | Many of these serfs appear by a legal ficall the necessary agreements had been tion to have had their names inscribed on drawn up. Out of 112,000 which had to the rolls of the rural communes, and many be concluded, 110,098 were already finish- in this way have become entitled to a ed, besides a number of agreements be- share in the lands allotted to the comtween the very small proprietors and munes of serfs adscripti gleba; others, their serfs. Authentic details had only however, were not so provided for, and in been received with regard to 99,420 this way some think that a dangerous eleagreements. These 99,420 agreements ment of pauperism has been introduced. represented an equal number of com- This does not, however, seem to be M. munes, with a male population of 8,762,- Milutine's opinion, and economists in the 956; out of that number, 48,023 agree- west of Europe will generally share his ments were drawn up in consequence of views. Russia, during the next generafriendly agreement between the parties, tion, will be a battle-field in which the and they applied to a male population of rival principles of individual property and 3,617,079; 51,397 agreements, applying Socialism will contend for the mastery. to a male population of 5,145,877, were We shall be well content to see the exdrawn up by the proprietors, and received periment fairly tried. the sanction of certain provincial commissions created for the purpose, and were afterwards accepted by the serfs, although not so freely as those in the other class. There were three kinds of agreements: the first, of which there were 30,368, reserved for the proprietors provisionally the right of corvées or forced labor, giving however to the peasants the right of compounding for that forced labor by an annual payment; the second category, which consisted of 57,750, reserved only a rent and abolished all corvées; the third category, consisting of 11,302, abolished all land relations whatsoever between the serfs and their former lords, so that the former became, for a consideration, subject of course to the rights of the commune, absolute owners of the soil, or of some portion of the soil which they had formerly cultivated as serfs; or, in other words, arrived-except in so far as the commune still remains at that position to which it is the object of the Russian government, by means of a complicated system of arrangement of advances made through the bank, eventually to raise the whole mass of the peasantry. It may be reckoned that already 15.5 per cent. of the Russian serfs have become proprietors, 50.8 pay the obrok or rent until they are able to acquire the fee-simple of their lands, and 33.7 remain provisionally subject to forced labor, which may however be commuted for rent.

Among other wholesome changes which may result from the enfranchisement of the serfs, we should give particular prominence to the great reënforcement which will accrue to the class of the resident gentry. Many persons who have hitherto neglected their estates, now find themselves obliged to go to look after them, and it seems probable that during the next five years necessity will cause the landed proprietors of Russia to learn how to make their diminished possessions more productive under a system of free labor than they ever were in the bad old times.

The dvorovyé received their liberty on the same day as the others, but their obligations towards their masters were provisionally retained for two years. These obligations consisted either in household or farm service or in payment of a rent.

Many of the effects of serf-emancipation are, of course, extremely doubtful, and the ablest of those who have studied the question have probably in store for them not a few surprises. No one can say to what an extent the break-up of the old communal system may go, nor how far the love of wandering, which is characteristic of the half-nomade Russian, may ere long be carried. Then, again, is it certain that the peasant who has hitherto only communicated with the State through the commune and his lord, will very readily come to understand the allegiance which he now owes to the law? Will the district tribunal receive the same cheerful obedience as the patriarchal assembly of the village? Will not the tendency be ever more and more to forsake the country and to crowd into towns, to exchange the allegiance to the commune for the ever-changing, elastic combinations of the trades' associations or artels? Will, again, the proprietors try to use their power in the provincial assemblies for the re-introduction of serfdom in some

form or other? Time only can answer these and other questions; but one thing is certain, the abolition of serfdom is the corner-stone of all real reform in Russia. If that corner-stone is displaced, it is impossible to foresee the consequences, but our anticipations, if anything of the kind occurs, cannot be too gloomy.

In the spring of 1861 a large party was gathered together at the house of a wellknown Russian in London to celebrate the emancipation of the serfs. It was a meeting of a kind not usual in our staid metropolis, for the whole of the exterior of the building in which it took place was illuminated, to the astonishment and confusion of the neighborhood. The house would have been as gay within as it appeared to be without, if it had not been for intelligence which had reached London a few hours before, and had thrown a gloom over the festival.


It was the news of the first collision between the troops and the people at Warsaw. What the news of that tragedy was to the gathering in London, that the Polish insurrection has been to the reign of Alexander the Second. It has dimmed, nay, in the minds of many it has altogether blotted out, the glory which had accrued from the emancipation. And yet nothing can be more utterly false than the statement which is often made by those who arrogate to themselves the title of friends of the Poles, that they were driven to revolt by the bad government of the last two reigns." During the whole reign of Nicholas they were thoroughly cowed. Nay, with that utter absence of political tact which has characterized them at so many periods of their history, they did not even stir a finger during the Crimean war, obeying, as they now allege, the suggestions which they received from Paris, as if those suggestions would have been really sufficient to keep them quiet, if they had had an organization for purposes of revolt, such as they afterwards set on foot. What the Poles wanted, it cannot be too often repeated, was not better government, but national independence. National independence they had a perfectly good right to wish for, and to demand, if they thought they were strong enough to obtain it, at the sword's point; but to say that they were driven by oppression to revolt is simply to pervert history.

Alexander the First returned to his

own dominions after the great peace, full of the most generous intentions toward Poland. In early life, while his grandmother was still alive, he had knit the closest relations with Prince Adam Czartoryski, which began in a sort of stolen interview in the Taurida Gardens at St. Petersburg, and ended in a firm friendship. At one time, he even dreamt of reannexing to Poland those western provinces of Russia, which she won back in 1772 from her old enemy and former oppressor, but the strong feeling which was excited by this proposal, and which found a mouthpiece in the historian Karamsine, soon induced him to dismiss from his mind his half-formed purpose. The liberal inclinations of Alexander never hardened, so to speak, into liberal principles; they were velléités, as the French say, nothing more. He was ready to let everybody have the most perfect liberty, provided that that liberty was never used except just as he wished it. In Poland, as elsewhere, he was always halting between two opinions, and whilst with one arm he upheld the Polish constitution, with the other he upheld the authority of his half-madman, half-monster brother, Constantine. This régime, at once irritating to national pride, and stimulant of national hopes, gave rise to an extensive conspiracy, which was connected with that of Pestel, and would have broken out simultaneously with it, if a premature end had not been put to the designs of that enterprising man. After the failure of both the Russian conspiracies, the Poles determined to act alone, and broke into open revolution some years afterward. As usual, they chose a most unlucky moment, and as usual they were utterly defeated. Nicholas, when once fairly their master, used his power without a thought of mercy, and every hope of Polish independence seemed, for a moment, to be for ever crushed, except in the hearts of those who had escaped over the frontier. Gradually, however, two tendencies began to manifest themselves among the Poles in Poland, for we leave the exiles, who were feeding on hope as usual, out of account. When Nicholas was dead, and it became possible to breathe freely, these two tendencies showed themselves more openly, and their representative men in the early years of the reign of Alexander the Second were the Marquis Wielopolski and Count André Zamoyski. The first

of these, who had been the envoy of the insurrectionary government in England in 1831, was fully convinced that Poland had nothing to hope from the Western powers; that the time was come for her to resign all ideas of political independence, and to ask only for administrative independence. The other hoped, by improving the material prosperity of the country, gradually to make it strong enough to try another fall with its mighty neighbor. The views of these two men unequally divided the gentry of Poland; the former having very few, the latter very many partisans. Between 1831 and 1861, however, a new power had grown up. Something like a middle-class had been called into existence. This middle-class was composed of the so-called lesser nobility (an absurd term which we use for want of a better, although the persons who composed it were chiefly in the position of the humbler portion of the middle-class in England), of the Jews, and of the Catholic clergy. The men of enterprise in the middle class, from various motives, but above all from a very natural and laudable patriotic sentiment, were excessively anxious for a national independence, and they kept up the closest relations possible with the democratic section of the emigration; while what we may call the aristocratic section of the emigration was in equally close connection with the party of Count André Zamoyski. The rule of Alexander the Second in Poland at the beginning of his reign was milder than anything that had been known since the death of his uncle, and encouraged by the comparative mildness of his government, and hopeful of great convulsions in Russia as the result of stirring the serf question, both the Zamoyski party and the democratic party prayed and worked.

of which M. de Montalembert gave an account to Europe in the eloquent and sentimental pages of La Nation en deuil. Every day through 1861 and 1862 the excitement in Poland grew more intense, and the determination of Russia to hold her own, more savage. It was perfectly clear that the breaking out of a deadly struggle was only a question of time. The beginning of the year 1863 saw the gov ernment of Poland in the hands of the Marquis Wielopolski. Holding the views which he held, there was nothing which he so much dreaded as the outbreak of a revolution. Standing aloof from the great mass of his countrymen, and thinking the Zamoyski party and the democratic party equally unwise, he fondly hoped to be able to save his country in spite of them both. Haughty to an excess, he was restrained by neither affection nor pity from doing what appeared to him to be abstractly best. Clear-sighted and able, but destitute of political tact, he did not feel that it is impossible to save a nation against its will, and that his only proper course would have been to retire from a position where he could do no good, and to leave the sanguine Poles and the grimly-resolved Russians to the only arbitrament which they could accept.

The former had for their chief organ the Agricultural Society. The latter gradually wove a great secret conspiracy extending over the whole of Poland, and connected by invisible threads with the democratic party in most continental countries. Presently demonstrations of a religious character took place. The government, at once afraid of being inhuman, and afraid of allowing the movement to get too strong for it, wavered and took half-measures. Things got more and more alarming, and at last unarmed multitudes were attacked in the streets of Warsaw, and the first blood was shed. Then began the period

He decided otherwise, and fancied that, by a stroke of state-craft, he would get out of his difficulties.

Since the close of the Crimean war there had been no conscription in Russia or in Poland, but a new one had been ordered for the beginning of 1863. Between the close of the Crimean war and the commencement of 1863, a new law had been passed, by which the old system of conscription in Poland, under which the government had the power of taking any one it pleased, had been done away with, and a system like the French had been introduced. In order to carry this out, it would have been necessary to collect large bodies of men in the towns for the purpose of drawing lots, and Wielopolski saw clearly that if this was done, the revolution which he so much dreaded, as likely to prove absolutely fatal to the country, would immediately break out. He determined, therefore, deliberately to break the law, and to cause the conscription to be made after the old fashion, with a view to get into his power, and to draft off into the army, the persons whom he thought most dangerous. His secret was badly kept, and his coup d'état

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