« VorigeDoorgaan »
hofski, were bent on regicide, and mocked Three potent elements have coalesced at the scruples of their less ferocious con- together to produce our modern civilizafederates, whom they called in derision tion: these are the genius of Rome and her " the philanthropists.” Yakubovitch had solid and elaborate social institutions; those been turned out of the imperial guard in that took their growth in the wilds and 1817, for his conduct in a duel, and from forests of ancient Germany; and lastly, that moment vowed vengeance on the em- Christianity. To the combination of these peror. When he heard the news of Alex- three elements does Europe owe the pecuander's death, he ran like a madman to liar spirit that so strongly distinguishes her Ryleyef, the chief of the con-piracy of the from Asia, and which forms a common north, and bursting into his room, cried bond of union between all her peoples, out, foaming with rage : “ The emperor is whatever transient or secondary differences dead; you have all of you snatched him out may divide them. Russia, which is now a of my hands!"
province of this great confederation, was An interesting and instructive chapter is for a long while beyond its pale; hence the devoted to the moral condition of Russia many striking points of difference that still under Alexander, and to the history of the exist between its people and those living secret societies which were called into ex. west of them. Of the three elements above istence by causes mainly attributable to his mentioned, one has been wanting to it altofatal weakness and inconsistency. The gether; of the second, it has but a few isotrial of the conspirators is dwelt on at con-lated portions, and the third has entered siderable length, and occasion is thence into it under a peculiar form, hardly favorataken to survey the whole field of Muscovite ble to intellectual emancipation. legislation. The grand question of the emancipation of the serfs is discussed; the “ The Roman sway never extended to the north defects of the existing Russian institutions of Europe and Asia. That cold and silent region re
mained inaccessible to the ancients who were accusare laid bare, and several institutions are tomed to the cheerful sunshine and a sky almost enumerated of which the empire stands always cloudless. It was shrouded from them in a in need, and which are totally wanting. veil of mystery, and dreaded by them as the home “ Thus," says Schnitzler, we have en of magic powers; and if they knew by report that deavored to make amends for the silence it contained precious metals, they never thought which the Russian writers are constrained to nf possessing themselves of treasures which they observe ; we have proved the urgent need of supposed were guarded hy monstrous creatures, reforms, and have ventured to tell a mighty grittins, dwarfs, or giants, and tribes to whom their nation and its government what Europe fear, attributed the strangest and most repulsive
imagination, or rumors propagated by design or expects, before she will definitively recognise forms. Thus, then, the eagles of the Cæsars never them as members of the great family.” penetrated these regions, whilst the Germanic in
Two appendices, occupying together vasion, which was destined to renovate the Roabout a third of the volumes, consist of man world, flowed in quite another direction. fifty-five miscellaneous sketches, notes, That it did indeed slightly touch the still sparse and illustrations, many of which contain population of ancient Sarmatia, was owing to the
adventurous spirit of some of its wandering sons matter both recondite and instructive. Thus the entire work forms a sort of com- allurement of booty or warlike glory, and caring
--true knight-errants, always accessible to the mon-place of the modern history and bio- nothing for any danger or any distance. These graphy of Russia ; it is a budget stuffed Normans having established themselves in Nov. full of facts of all kinds, and in order to gorod and Kief, influenced, of course, in some deincrease its utility, the author has annexed gree, the habils and social organization of those
localities; but their numbers being comparatively to it a remarkably copious, exact, and convenient index.
small, they soon merged in the Slavonic race,
which after the lapse of a century retained few But we have not yet completed our enu-traces of its contact with the Teuton stock. As meration of the matter contained in these for the third element, Christianity, it was not well-filled volumes; we have yet to speak from Rome, the common metropolis of the west, of the introduction, to us the most interest- that Russia received it, but from Constantinople, ing part of all. It is a general survey of the masters of which city, disregarding the essence all that is known of the past and present of that law of charity, had converted it into an fortunes of Russia, made with a view to
instrument of despotism, whilst the clergy had solve the question :—Whence comes she, about barren subtleties, so that the spirit of truth,
paralysed its generous force by their idle disputes and whither is she going? Let us follow inherent in the Gospel, was smothered in a uniour author in this inquiry.
“ In the west, Italy and Germany were the honor. Religion then acquired an auxiliary in sources of modern civilization, whilst that of Rus- loyalty; and by and by were established those sia proceeded from the Greeks of the Lower Em- notions of rigorous morality from which the really pire; a worn out people, lapsed into second civilized man derives his rules of conduct, without childhood, bent beneath a despotic yoke, and ever sceking to evade their inflexible law. among whom religion, itself enslaved, had lost its “ Nor was this all. Implicated in the schism of regenerating virtue. For in Constantinople the the East, and consequently cut off entirely from church was become the humble handmaid of the the great Catholic family, Russia was left unaided state, the lustre of which it exalted without excit. at the most disastrous period of her history, when ing its jealousy; whereas in the west, a priest, the hordes of Genghis Khari, issuing from the deseated on the tomb of St. Peter, boldly constituted serts of Middle Asia, fell upon her like swarms himself the guardian of Gospel freedom, and never of locusts, and reduced her to hard slavery. At feared to encounter even the sceptres of kings first, perhaps, the united efforts of chivalry would with his pastor's crook, when he thought that have been inadequate to stem a torrent that afterdanger threatened the spiritual interests of his wards bore them down at Liegnitz and Wahlstatt ; flock.
but at least with such help the struggle might have “ Russia then remained without the pale not been prolonged, Christian heroism might bave only of the Roman world, but likewise of the Latin found a field for its display; and the fall might world, in the full extension of that term. By the have been less deep and less ignominious. The former cause she was deprived of a positive code mere idea of having the eyes of all Europe, benton of law—the fruit of a culture already ancient- the spectacle of its resistance, the certainty of exand of the heritage of institutions which, even at citing the sympathies of the whole civilized world, this day, have not yet lost all their value; whilst, might have exalted to the loftiest pitch the courage by not acknowledging the authority of the popes, of a people, noi chivalric indeed, but not insensiwho were then the defenders of the rights of ble to military glory, strongly attached to the faith thought and the representatives of the spiritual prin- of their fathers, and animated by an ardent love ciple amidst the violence of the middle ages, she of country. Be this as it may, no'appeal was was cut off from that great movement of the made to the valor of the warriors of the west; they Christian world that tended so directly to civiliza- were unmoved by the news of the Mongol invation ; and the generous passions of our ancestors sion, and saw in it no reason for undertaking a crufound no echoes in her vast solitudes. Though sade to which the Church cared not to invite them. visited, as we have said, by Norman warriors, Vladimiria and Muscovy, remote provinces of who presented to it at least a glimpse of the ad- Kief, recently founded in the midst of Finnish poventurous life of the valiant heroes of the west, pulations, addicted to Paganism, were at the most Russia never was acquainted with feudalism ;* known only by name; besides which, schismatics that vast and glittering net-work, that compressed were, in the eyes of the heroes of the Cross, scarce. so strongly, indeed, beneath its iron meshes, the ly Christians The Russians were completely races of Roman and Teutonic descent, but which overthrown in two battles (1224 and 1237), and covered them, at the same time, as with a tutelary subjected to the dominion of the Golden Horde and ægis, beneath which they found order and systema- the Khan of the Steppes. Then ensued a pros. tic organization ; habits of life controlled by cer- tration which lasted two centuries, and left profound tain laws; and the means of instruction placed traces in the character of that people, European in within the reach of the humblest localities. “Rus origin, as well as the Celts and Germans, but which sia went her own way, and remained sequestered had been already fashioned 10 Oriental slavery by from Europe. She alone, or nearly so, in all its connexion with Byzantium, and on which its Christendom, responded not to the cry of religious conquerors imposed in a still higher degree, the enthusiasm which was the precursor not only of immobility of Asiatic usages." the Crusades that immense mêlée in which the nations, by learning to know each other, extended Muscovy was now utterly forgotten by their respective horizons—but which was also the Europe, and even when it recovered from germ of chivalry. That institution, hy ratifying its fall, and the cross again supplanted the ihe influence of women, softened the general man- crescent on its steeples, it had lost its only ners ; and, by exalting the sanctity of oaths above channel of intercourse with Christendom all considerations, subjected the brute force and the selfish impulses of the warrior to the law of through the capture.of Byzantium by the
Turks. Meanwhile, other portions of the * The system of apanages established at first in Kief, and afterwards in other Russian grand princi- inheritance of the sons of Rurik the Norpalities, does not deserve this name; neither does man, claiming the exclusive right to bear serfdom (a thing of almost modern origin in Rus- the name of Russia, had acquired strength sia), constitute feudalism. In the latter we see a and importance, and had entered into the graduated scale of rank among men who know
The their own value, and limit it respectively; we behold communion of the Latin Church. a certain order, the pledge of progress, rather than union of Lithuania with Poland made the a tyranny pressing upon a great number, and divid- latter the irreconcilable enemy of Muscovy. ing society into two classes-masters and slaves. A long and bloody struggle, exasperated by in its early stage, and not in its state of decrepi- national and religious hatred, ensued betude.
tween them. The Poles won province after
province from their rivals, and at last be- branches of the Rurik fainily, and of nobles of more came masters of their most venerated sanc- or less ancient hereditary eminence; but the memtuary, the Kreml* of Moscow. The cause
bers of this caste were nothing without the favor of the Muscovites seemed hopeless, but they to which al mission could only be obtained through
of the Tsar, and without actual service of the state, retrieved their fortune by an extraordinary him. There was nothing chivalric or independent and almost incredible effort. Peace was in these nobles.
A still more ab. concluded, but the rivalry of the two na- solute, though less loathsome and less voluntary tions continued without intermission until servility prevailed among the lower classes.: the the complete subjection of one of them in middle class, few in number even at this day, conthe last century.
sisted then of but some hundred thousand families;
and the husbandmen, whose humble villages were “A marvellous resurrection, begun under Ivan dispersed over vast deserts, attached to the soil III. Vassilievitch, continued under Ivan IV. Vas since the reign of Boris Godunof, and left in the silievitch, surnamed the Terrible, and consummat. utmost neglect by a heedless clergy, grovelled in a ed under the Tsars of the House of Romanof, re
state of debasing ignorance, from which their movealed a new power to the astonished gaze of notonous way of life afforded them litile opportuEurope. With wonder she beheld the blows nity of emerging. which those Muscovites, but recently the humble
“ Even in the upper ranks, life was without all subjects of the Mongols, now dealt out to all their charm. The women, shut up in the gyneceum, enemies, the Poles, the Swedes, and the Tartars had no influence over the men, who were like of the Crimea, vassals of Turkey. Thenceforth
themselves illiterate, and whose whole energy was it was no longer possible to ignore their existence; wasted, in ordinary times, in paltry intrigues, silly the name of Christians could no longer be refused quarrels for precedence, and endless outward obto those vanquishers of the Infidels, marching he servances of devotion. Encumbered with a beavy neath the banner of the cross; and Europe carried costume that impeded the free movements of the ber condescension towards them so far as to soli- body, they were no less cramped in mind, and were cit their alliance against the common enemy, the filled with a dread of their master, fostered by the Ottomans.”
minutiæ of an imperious etiquette, and by the ex
cessive cravings of their own ridiculous vanity." Nevertheless, under the first Tsars of the House of Romanof, the government of Rus
Such was the Russian people when Peter
the Great undertook its transformation. sia and the manners of her people stood in glaring contrast with those of her civilized He applied himself with an iron-strength of neighbors. The clergy were ignorant, and will to efface from his country every trace of contented to be so; and the religion they
the Oriental character, and to remodel its taught was a system of outward forms, des manners and customs after the example of titute of all life and spirit. The sovereign ceeded, at least with the upper classes ; but
Germany, Holland, and France. He sucwas a fetish, whom his subjects worshipped as it was scarcely possible so to change the with faces prostrate in the duste Of aris- habits of the great mass of the people in a tocracy there was scarcely a trace under a system that recognised only a despot and country of such vast extent, a yawning gulph his trembling slaves. If the phrase " The was opened between the immense majority of Tsar has ordained, the Boiars have advised,” nobles on the other, together with the middle
the nation on the one hand, and the civilized was ever seriously used, the case must have
classes of the German towns and provinces, been exceptional,
-and, at all events, there was an end to any such practice before the successively incorporated with the empire. reign of Alexis Mikhailovitch, the father of innovations, Peter understood civilization
Moreover, like a true Russian even in his Peter the Great.
only in its most palpable and material as“ Besides, the rank of Boiar was dependent on pects. He did all that energy, almost snthe good pleasure of the Tsar, and however high perhuman, could effect, to increase the that dignity may have been, it was not hereditary. wealth and strength of the people, but he There existed, indeed, a privileged class, consist- scarcely gave a thought to their moral and ing of the princes descended from the various intellectual culture.
* This is the correct orthography. Kremlin is a “ Peter the Great marked out for Russia the plan French corruption of the Russian word Kreml or of her policy; to command the course of her own Kremla (pronounced kremlya, a dissyllable). In old rivers ; to keep the Baltic open to her vessels; Slavonic krem, kremer, signifies stone, and among to confine the Swedes to their peninsula, and weakall the Slavonians krem, or kreml, is the common designation for a fortified enclosure. Various Rus.
en Poland by fomenting its intestine divisions; to sian towns have each their Kreml, and in other Sla- profit as much as possible by the decadence of the vonic countries we find the fortified towns of Kre. Ottoman Empire, and attract within her sphere the menetz, Krementcharg, &c.
Christians of Asia subject to the Turks and the
Persians; to extend still further her influence and their deliverance, under the auspices of a her views of a future commerce with a part of the world with which she was in contact along a vast in matters of religion. Thus was an addi
power with which they could claim kindred line of frontier ; lastly to contrive that she should be reckoned for something in the affairs of the
tional means of aggrandizement afforded to west, so that the Tsar might cast a certain weight Russia ; and she has not failed to avail herinto the balance wherein are weighed the interests self of it with unceasing industry. In 1779 of the great sovereigns of the great Christian fami- we find Russia arbitrating between the Emly: such was the programme already devised by peror of Germany and Frederick the Great. Peter, amidst the almost inextricable embarrass- In the reign of Paul 1. Muscovite armies ments in which his passion for reforms had en
were beheld in Italy and Holland; and the tangled him in the interior of his empire. “ This programme was put in execution. Each
continent submitted to the imperative beof the successors of the great man, often forced hests of that monarch, backed as they were
Paul's examalong, in spite of himself, by the mighty impulse by the exploits of Suvorof. of the governmental machine which Peter had or- ple was not lost on his son. He too assumganized and put in motion, contributed his part; ed to be the dictator of Europe ; nay more : but it was a woman, nay more, a foreigner, that though occupying a throne the succession to crowned the work.
which was fixed by no rule, and was geneUnder Catherine II. the west became habitu- rally determined by violence, he set himself ated to take account of the new power it had so long scarcely deigned to notice. We used to ne- up as the champion of legitimacy, and unglect its immensity,' said the Marquis d'Argenson, dertook the defence of the old monarchies
in our contempt for its barbarity ; but it is now against the French Government. become formidable; and it is high time that its ex
“Even this was not enough for the ambition of cessive power should be curtailed. The times in that power of yesterday's growth. Under Alexdeed were changed; to deny the greatness of the ander, in the time of the prodigies of the French emnew power, was not equivalent to suppressing it
. pire, it held the balance between the latter and its Europe was constrained to modify her system; as
numerous adversaries. Accordingly Napoleon, she will do again at no distant date, when she sball after having, for a while, accepted it as mediahave more exactly comprehended the dangers to tor between himself and England (1803), soon which she is exposed by the daily aggrandizements thought of sharing with it the civilized world, and of an empire that is now not very, far from the so anticipating the march of time, which, if we Oder. If Peter the Great made Russia an Europe. may judge from certain symptoms, would seem to an power in manners and acquirements, Catherine be preparing for Europe a partition into two lots, , caused it to be recognised as such by her arms and the one compact, the other perhaps grouped togeher diplomacy; and inspired the world with so ther as a confederation. After Napoleon's fall, high an idea of her resources, that her alliance was Russia, availing herself of the lustre she once more soon eagerly courted. The partition of Poland derived from the personal qualities of her sovebrought into close union with her Prussia, and reign, played the first part in the congress of kings even Austria—the proud possessor of the sceptre assembled at Vienna. * Thenceforth nothing was of the Cæsars, which was then wielded by Maria done without her, not even the pacification of Theresa, a woman of less ability, certainly, than Spain, which, if it was not to be left to that Catherine, but whose personal conduct was a liv.
country itself, was, at leasi, one would suppose, a ing reproach to the licentiousness of the Russian question exclusively French and English, with autocrat. Nevertheless, the pact of iniquity, un- which Russia, at the other extremity of Europe, paralleled in history, and pregnant with disasters could have no reason to concern herself. for Europe, was concluded ; and the three courts of Under the present reign, the treaty of Adrianople the north have ever since been bound together by (1829), and other skilful acts of diplomacy, have the bond of a common complicity. It is but a few further augmented the preponderance of Russia.” months since that bond has been drawn closer by the suppression of the republic of Cracow—the Now comes the important question : Is last fragment of Poland; and it will constitute their this preponderance established on a solid strength against the west, until the time comes basis, or is it to be regarded as factitious when all equilibrium between them shall have and transient ? been destroyed, and fear of one shall force the two others to separate their cause from hers, and seek « The basis is large, it must be owned, for a support elsewhere, or from each other. The Russia is a world in itself. Its extent is more partition of Poland was a first revolution in the than half that of all Europe, more than ten European system ; Catherine prepared another, times that. of France. In Asia it is prolonged that is still imminent, by the humiliation of Tur- without interruption over another territorial surkey, and its extinction as a power.”
face, forming a third of that division of the Catherine's victories by sea and land globe. To speak more exactly; the surface of
European Russia is nearly five millions and a half produced an intense effect on the minds of square kilomètres ; that of Russia in Asia is of the Greek and Slavonic subjects of the hardly less than fifteen millions; and that of Porte ; who thenceforth began to dream of American Russia is about one million ; total, twenty-one millions of square kilomètres, or more combines extreme skill in the prime mover with than the double of Europe (the whole surface of extreme docility in the instrument. This is most which does not coinprise ten millions of square true; and beholding the colossal proportions of kilomètres), and nearly a sixth of the whole an empire endowed with such expansive power, habitable globe. No doubt the Russian posses- it has been asked, with much show of reason, sions in Asia and America, situated under an what are France, Great Britain (isolated from her inclement sky, are nothing but a colonial territory, immense colonies), Germany, Italy-what are all still in so desert a state that if we suppose the those old seats of a perhaps decrepit civilization whole population, spare even in its western and in comparison with this theatre of a new, active, southern regions, to be spread over all its vast ex- exuberant, energetic life ?" tent, we should not even find three inhabitants 10
This question Schnitzler meets by asking the square kilomètre, whilst the proportion is nearly twelve in European Russia, and in France sixty
another. Where in Russia are the vigorous five. But this colonial territory is contiguous to characters, the mighty minds that make the mother country, and forms with it one unbroken great nations ?
Can numerical strength whole. A fifth, at least, of Siberia is susceptible make up for the want of moral energy? of good cultivation, and the earth there contains the The very bulk, too, of the empire may be treasures that most tempt the cupidity of man, not unfavorable to its stability, and another to mention platina, and what are called the common metals, though in reality they are much the germ of dissolution may perhaps lurk in most precious. În European Russia there are its precocious and superficial civilization. vast tracts void of culture and inhabitants; yet it
“We affirm nothing," he says, “ only we contains on the whole about fifty-six millions of think that looking closely into the matter souls; and to give an idea of the importance to we may see the remedy beside the danger, which this new world, still so imperfecily peopled, and we are at a loss to account for Napoand partly plunged in the torpor of barbarian life, leon's prediction, if indeed he really put it may rise at no distant day, we need only say that forth, that in ten years Europe would be the births are to the population in the proportion either Cossack or Republican.", of one to twenty-three or twenty-four, whilst in France the proportion is only one to thirty-four or “What we do very well understand, is the thirty-five, and that the annual increase of the alarm at this moment manifested in all parts of population by births exceeds two millions, whilst Germany. The knot of the Russian question is among us it has not yet reached one million. evidently Poland. * * It has been well said by an Such is the rapidity with which the Russian popu- anonymous writer--One of two things will haplation augments, that less than a century, not so pen, either Poland will remain an ulcer and a much perhaps as eighty years, will suffice to dou- danger for Russia, or it will become a great danger ble it, that is to say, to change its sum of inhabit- for Europe. Let us translate this proposition into ants from sixty to 120 millions. And even then other terms. With respect to Poland, the Emperor the last limit will certainly not have been reached, of Russia is engaged in a great work of assimilafor great is the fertility of the Muscovite soil, tion, begun before the invention of Panslavism, great the variety of its productions, and fruitful in but which this novelty that has recently emerged resources the genius of its people, Though want- above the European horizon, and which certain ing the creative faculty, we cannot deny them a Poles have caught at with unexpected ardor, may marvellous aptitude for all kinds of work, and an efficaciously aid. The Emperor will succeed in extreme facility of imitation. Remarkable for his task or he will not. In the latter case we shall their native vigor, they easily accommodate them- perhaps witness the fulfilment of M. de Chateauselves to all situations. Placid in temper, cheer. briand's prediction : · The Muscovites will only ful, and inaccessible to the thought of danger, they cure themselves of Poland by converting it into a are at the same time greedy of gain, habituated to desert.' But before the silence of death shall suspicion as well as to submission, and have all brood over an immense mass of ruins, how many the defects that flow froin that source,craft, love convulsions will have preceded the catastrophe, of intrigue, a moral suppleness equal to their manual and to what fresh embarrassments will a righteous suppleness, and which unhappily never hesitates at retribution have condemned the three partitioning a lie or an act of dishonesty. Russia is the seat of powers! In the former case, that is, if the work a young, active, stirring, ambitious civilization, of assimilation succeeds, either by the triumph of which
every day achieves some new step in ad- Panslavism, directed in accordance with the views
It is, moreover, united, compact, subject of Russia in concert with a part of the Polish to one law, a living law in some sort, and to nobility, or by the system hiiherto pursued in which religion, still in possession of all its power, which the refractory nobles are altogeiher passed notwithstanding its want of enlightenment, lends over, and the Tsar acts in preference on the midthe full force of its potent sanction.
dle and lower classes, which regard him with less « « This empire, placed on the confines of Eu- aversion), will not Russia have achieved a vast rope and Asia,' says M. de Bonald, - presses on advantage? Will she not have worked her way them both at once, and never since the Ronjans close to the very heart of Europe? And when has any power shown a greater expansive force. the kingdom of Poland shall have become the So it is in every state in which the government is advanced guard of the Muscovite power, then enlightened and the people barbarous, and which decorated with the title of Empire of the Slavons,