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their minds to such conditions. And the position of the poor girl. what must be her feelings? Other candidates, just for the sake of daily bread,' as I say. marry cross old frights, for whom nobody sued during the lifetime of the father, and I leave you to imagine the domestic happiness that is to be expected. It is a fact.”
“Is it possible ?” murmured Michael, shaking his head.
“And sometimes the girl is pretty and agreeable ; the fellow absolutely falls in love, thinks himself a happy man, marries, and finds himself mistaken. Yet some of these marriages prove very happy ; but it is an exception to the general rule.”
“I never happened to hear of this horrible plan before. I am astonished at its being permitted by the authorities.”
Not only permitted,” cried Romàn, who had his “fever" on him ; it is one of the greatest evils that exist in the ecclesiastical class. It extends even to readers. But wait a bit,” he continued, setting his teeth and clinching his fist ; "their turn will come! Give us time ! We must have reform, too; we need it, God knows, more than all your lay departments of service put together."
It should be observed, that Roman is a church reformer. Throughout the tale he is represented as having a keen perception of the evils connected with the Russian church, and he ultimately joins the party of progress. He died, according to Madame Romanoff, on the 19th July, 1864 ; hence he did not live to rejoice over the imperial ukase of the 22d May, 1867, whereby this custom, which he so strongly condemned, was prohibited, as well as the long-established rule of places in the church, descending from father to son, or from one relative to another. Nevertheless, the evil consequences of these customs will be felt for many years to come. The principal good done by modern innovations has been to break up that uncompromising orthodoxy which was exacted from every Russian, together with blind submission to the will of the Czar. The Russian is examined as to his orthodoxy every time he goes to confession. Before he is permitted to recount his sins he is thus addressed by the priest : “Tell me, my child, dost thou believe as the catholic and apostolic church, which was planted in the East, and from thence has overspread the world, and in the east and here is immoveable and unchangeable, as taught and delivered, and dost thou not doubt of any of the traditions ?"*
* The Rules and Ceremonies of the Greek Church in Russia, by I. G. King, D. D. London, 1772, p. 227.
son thus catechized need have the courage of a Luther to reply otherwise than is expected of him; for if he should not do so he would be forthwith reprimanded and threatened with excommunication unless he recanted and repented. Nor is this threat an idle one, nor the sentence unmeaning. Among the Russian people an excommunicated person is looked upon as an outlaw, not entitled to any civil or religious rights or privileges; and among the rich and powerful classes of the empire-until very recently —though there were, and are, many who are, in fact, unbelievers; yet even they were obliged by the force of public opinion to conform outwardly. The Russian assumes it as an axiom, an article of faith, to believe in the infallibility of his church ; and to doubt this is so unpardonable a sin that the disbeliever cannot proceed in his confession nor obtain absolution. Never was there so doggedly orthodox a nation, notwithstanding the fact that heretical sects and hordes of visionary enthusiasts, strongly resembling those of the middle ages in western Europe, have, from time to time, appeared among them, and occasioned much trouble and alarm to the government.
The servility and slavish habit of submission thus created by the power of the church, was adroitly turned to account by the czars, and made the means of riveting their chains on the people. From usurpations on men they proceeded to usurpations on God, and not content with the divine right which they enjoyed in common with other monarchs, they claimed to be the vicegerents of God on earth, and demanded a share of the obedience and worship paid to him. A Russian could obtain remission for every sin except one committed against the czar. The priest might be silent upon all other sins, and leave the chastisement of them to God; but crimes of a rebellious nature must be brought to light and not left unpunished. In the year 1724 Peter the Great issued a decree for the guidance of the secular clergy, article vi. of which runs thus : "Priests shall not reveal anything made known to them at confession, nor upbraid their penitents with their sins should any quarrel subsequently arise between them. Offenders in this particular shall not only
be degraded, but receive corporeal punishment. Treason against the sovereign or the state is, however, excepted, if the guilty does not show signs of repentance, but persists in his criminal designs, in which case the priest is bound to give information against him.” By this artful manauvre the priests were converted into government spies and inform
But to what depth of degradation must they have fallen to be thus arbitrarily made the tools of a tyrant !
To trace the history of this degradation is not a very inviting task, but it may be profitable to do so, as presenting a remarkable chapter in the history of the human race. Unfortunately, the Russian historians are not always trustworthy; they seem to have had the fear of their church and of the emperor always before their eyes ; and they, especially their ecclesiastical writers, have been unable to free themselves from the superstition and the absurd traditions instilled into them from their infancy. One of the most learned of them, Andrew Nicholaèvitch, who was appointed by the Emperor Nicholas I. under-procurator of the governing synod of the Russian church, a most important officer, is a notable instance of this. M. Mouravieff, although a layman, devoted himself to the service of the church. In 1830, while yet a young man, he made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, 'and wrote a description of that country, which he published in 1832. His subsequent works were “Letters on the services of the Eastern catholic church ;" "A History of the first four ages of Christianity;" “An exposition of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan creed,” which has received the formal approbation of the synod ; “ Letters on the salvation of the world by the Son of God;" "A treatise on the law of the Æcumenical church in relation to the Roman and other patriarchalthrones,” and “A history of the church of Russia."*
Now here is a man, one would think, every way qualified, by long and close study of his subject, to present to the world sound and useful information respecting it. Yet, on opening the last named volume we are met by the following paragraph: “The Russian church, like the other orthodox churches of the East, had an apostle for its founder. St.
• Translator's Preface, p. x.
Andrew, the first called of the twelve, hailed with his blessing, long beforehand, the destined introduction of christianity into our country. Ascending up and penetrating by the Dnieper into the deserts of Scythia, he planted the first cross on the hills of Kieff, and 'See you,' said he to his disciples, these hills ? On these hills shall shine the light of divine grace. There shall be here a great city, and God shall have in it many churches to his name.' Such are the words of the holy Nestor, the monk and annalist of the Pechersky monastery, that point from whence christian Russia has sprung. But it was only after an interval of nine centuries that the rays of divine light beamed upon Russia from the walls of Byzantium, in which city the same apostle, St. Andrew, had appointed Stachys to be the first bishop, and so committed, as it were, to him and to his successors, in the spirit of prescience, the charge of that wide region in which he had himself preached Christ. Hence the indissoluble connection of the Russian with the Greek church, and the dependence of her metropolitans during six centuries upon the patriarchal throne of Constantinople, until, with its consent, she obtained her own equality and independence in that which was accorded to her native primates."
It has seldom fallen to our lot to meet with passages in history so replete with baseless assertion. There is not the slightest historical evidence that St. Andrew ever was at Kieff, or even at Byzantium. The tradi
The traditions to that effect were the inventions of the fourth and fifth centuries; that is to say, these traditions then assumed a definite shape, for a number of them had been floating about in the christian world from the time of Eusebius, of Cæsarea, the great historian of the early church. About the middle of the second century Hegesippus committed to writing everything he thought worthy of preservation in the apostolic traditions. Eusebius has related these and others in his ecclesiastical history, written about the year 324, and this is the earliest mention of the visit of St. Andrew to Rus
• History, p. 7. | Eusebius, ii. Ecc. ii.; 28; iii., 16, 19; iv. 7 s., 11, 22.
sia, which is about as authentic as that of St. Paul to England. M. Mouravieff, however, does not have recourse to Eusebius, or Hegesippus, or Iranæus, or Tatian, who were among those likely to have heard anything respecting the fate of the apostles; but he anchors his faith upon the annals of Nestor, a Greek monk of Pechersky, whom he styles the father of Russian history, and who died about the year 1116.* This is taking history at second hand with a vengeance. But more than this!
The “Annals” of Nestor were themselves collected and put together by the patriarch Nikon (A. D. 1653-67) more than 500 years after their author's death, and by him revised and corrected, along with many other ancient records, which were found to be full of errors and discrepancies. From this musty source our historian garners up the fact of the appointment of the mythical Stachys by St. Andrew to be the first bishop of Byzantium, to whose charge he committed all Scythia! But the climax is in the deduction. “Hence,” says he, “the indissoluble connection of the Russian with the Greek church!” As there was no Greek church, properly so called, until the reign of Constantine the Great, or nearly three centuries after the death of Christ and of St. Andrew, it would be as well if M. Mouravieff would account for the preservation of the charge given to Bishop Stachys, of Byzantium. The labors of St. Andrew, in Scythia, must have been almost thrown away, since, notwithstanding them, and the existence of the Greek church, which he founded, M. Mouravieff himself states that, so far as is known, Askold and Dir, two princes of Kieff, and the companions of Ruric, were the first Russians who embraced christianity,+ about the year 866. What can be said of a historian who gravely tells us that when, in that year, the Russians made their appearance in armed vessels before the walls of Constantinople, the patriarch Photius took the virginal robe of the mother of God from the Blachern church and plunged it beneath the waves of the strait, when the sea immediately boiled up from underneath and wrecked the vessels of the heathen, who, struck with awe, believed in that God who had
* Preface, p. 7. History of the Church of Russia, p, 32. f History, p. 8.