Imatges de pÓgina
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of his mind is obviously against sudden changes based on theory, and in favour of evolution.' In one respect Russia is in advance of ourselves, for she has a code, while we have hardly begun to talk seriously about having one. On the other hand, the state of the Russian bar would seem far from good, whether we regard it in its moral or intellectual aspect; but signs of improvement are visible even here.

Then there is the police, more efficient and less oppressive than it was, on the whole perhaps not worse than is to be expected under a well-intentioned absolute government; and side by side with it the gendarmerie, or political police, the servants of the troisième section as it is called, the inheritors of all the bad traditions of the bad times, not of late conspicuous for any particular evil, but ready to be used again for all bad purposes. The mere existence of such an institution speaks volumes as to the miserably backward state in which, after all allowances have been made, Russia still is.

Above the officials of various degree who form the lower, middle, and higher ranks of the bureaucracy, come the ten Ministries of Interior, Public Works, State Domains, Finance, Justice, Public Instruction, War, Admiralty, Foreign Affairs, and the Imperial Court.

All these are quite independent of each other. Their heads form a committee, but not a cabinet. Each is responsible to the Czar, but they have no sort of solidarity, and often represent quite different phases of opinion and sympathy.

In fact, this committee of ministers is the instrument of autocratic rule for executive purposes, just as the two other institutions which stand side by side with it at the head of Russian affairs, the Council of State and the Senate, are the instruments of the same power for legislation and the administration of justice respectively.

High above this ascending scale of bureaucracy rises the power of the half-deified chief of the State, and it rises above it not like the apex of a pyramid, but like a column upon a truncated pyramid. An administrator of the new levelling school in Russia is said to have declared that his wish was to build a tower upon a steppe'-that is, that he desired to see the imperial power rising out of a vast democracy, uncontrolled by anything in the nature of our Lords or Commons. In that wish he has certainly not succeeded. It may well be that Russia will never know anything like our House of Commons; she certainly never will know anything like our House of Lords; but there is, and there always must be, immense power in the official hierarchy, civil and military. It is not given to any human being to make his personal will felt, save very exceptionally, through so vast an organisation as that of Russian officialdom. The despotism that is not tempered by representative institutions will assuredly be

Mr. Herbert Barry in his Iran at Home, p. 142, also bears testimony to the greatly improved administration of justice, and he had the best opportunity of comparing the two systems.

tempered by the opinion of its own instruments. But will this system last, or will it pass into something like the French Constitution in the earlier part of the reign of Napoleon the Third, which may again be superseded by institutions reflecting the natural tendencies of what is certainly on the way to be the most democratic country in Europe?

All that is the secret of the future, and we cannot venture even to guess what turn things are likely to take. Certain it is that, for the present, there are no regular parties, no indication of any definite movement for the extension of popular rights. Some years ago it looked as if a constitutional party might gradually grow up, but the prospect seems to have vanished away, partly under the pressure of what exists, partly as a result of the advanced and ultra-democratic thought imported from Western Europe, partly from the rising conviction that Russia must follow her own way, and not go to school to other nations which she fondly imagines to be old and effete, and partly in consequence of the reaction which commenced in 1862.

Tendencies there are in abundance, but organised political parties there are not. Amongst the tendencies one of the most interesting is that of the Slavophils. It may be said of the Slavophils, as was said, I believe, of themselves by one of the ablest of the English positivists, that they are a stage army, which marching round and round appears in consequence to be much more numerous than it actually is. Mr. Wallace thinks that they have never amounted to more than a dozen persons. Up to the death of Nicholas they occupied themselves with literature. After it they transferred their energies to politics, and took a useful part in the emancipation and in the organisation of the new local self-government.

They lean towards the idea of a Slavonic federation under the lead of Russia, but have been till the last few months more occupied with home than foreign affairs.

Mr. Ivan Aksakoff, an abridged translation of whose speech to the Slavonic Committee of Moscow last October has been circulated in England, is an influential and active member of this school of thought. The following extract from this document gives, I doubt not, a very true picture of what has occurred. In connection with it should be read Mr. Kinglake's brilliant preface to the new edition of the Invasion of the Crimea, in which, however, I venture to think that he perhaps rather overrates the influence of the fall of one self-sacrificing officer, young Kiréeff.

What has been done lately in Russia is indeed unparalleled, not only in the history of Russia, but in that of any other nation. The society, or rather the people, without the help of the government (which is unconditionally true to its diplomatic obligations) and without the help of any official organisation, carry on a war in the person of some thousands of her sons (I say sons, not hirelings), at their own expense, in a country which, though bound to ours by strong ties of relationship, is little known to the masses, and has been up till now rarely spoken of. And this

is done neither for the sake of gain, nor in view of selfishly practical or material interests, but for interests apparently foreign and abstract. The war is carried on not stealthily or secretly, but openly in sight of all, with full conviction of the lawfulness, right, and holiness of the cause. This plain and spontaneous movement cannot be understood by Western Europe, where most public movements appear to be the result of a prepared conspiracy, and can only take place under the direction and through the medium of regularly organised secret societies. It is, therefore, not to be wondered at that some persons like Lord Beaconsfield, and not he alone, but even some Russians ignorant of their own country, and mostly of the highest rank, find secret societies even in Russia, so that all the 'shame,' or, as we think, all the honour, of the Russian popular interference in the Servian war is to be ascribed to the Slavonic Committee.

One cannot read without a smile such strange ideas of the power of our society. You, gentlemen, know better than any one how little our society deserves the honour attributed to it. Such is the nature of this popular movement that it could never have been invented by the committee, nor could it have shrunk into the narrow moulds which the society could have formed for it. In reality it has far overstepped its border, and has nearly crushed by its force our modest organisation. At present it is not the concern of the Slavonic Committee, but of the whole of Russia; and it is the greatest honour of our society to become the simple instrument of the popular idea and the popular will—an instrument, to our regret, very feeble and insufficient.

Mr. Wallace is careful to point out what ought to be noted and remembered by those who have not visited Moscow (those who have are not likely to require a reminder), that the party or tendency of the Slavophils is quite different from the party or tendency of M. Katkoff and the Moscow Gazette. Both, on occasion, can be very noisy and Chauvinist, as we should say-very patriotic, as they would say—but in other respects M. Katkoff is much nearer us English than M. Aksakoff and his friends.

Of the Nihilists we hear less than we did a few years ago. The word Nihilism, which is said to have been invented by M. Ivan Tourguéneff, is one which it is not very easy to define, for it is used in many different senses. Sometimes 'Nihilist' would appear to be merely a term of abuse, employed just as a certain dignitary of the Church is said to have recently employed the word atheist, meaning thereby a person who did not altogether agree with him. Those who use language accurately should be taken, however, to mean by the word Nihilism a doctrine made up of the views of Western philosophers and speculatists, ill-assimilated and applied to the sphere of daily life instead of being kept within the sphere of science and wise preparation for the future. Take so many grains of Comte, so many of Lassalle, so many of Darwin, so many of Buckle, of whose book there have been at least five Russian translations. Mix them and other discordant elements in a way which would make the men whose names are connected with them start and shudder, heat them to the boiling-point by the fire of vanity and youthful enthusiasm, and use the product as the principal food of raw students, carefully eliminating from their diet all the influences of the past, which are lumped together contemp

tuously as romanticism and superstition. The result will be the spread of Nihilism in its true and worst sense. As, however, there is a vast deal that is admirable in the writings of most of the philosophers before whom the Nihilist prostrates himself, there is much in Nihilism that will sooner or later receive more recognition than it does at present, when the grotesque exaggeration and absurdities to which it has given rise have begun to be forgotten. Meantime it has been abundantly ridiculed in the Russian press, and there can be no doubt that Schédo-Ferroti2 was quite right when in 1867 he protested against meeting Nihilistic eccentricities by administrative severities. It is a disease which will wear itself out.

We have said that we do not see what direction the political development of Russia is likely to take. What is most to be wished for, at present, is probably another or two other princes as wise in their generation as the present Czar has been in his. Very few monarchs have ever, in so short a time, made of their own good will so many accommodations to the spirit of their times; and if there has been now and then some reaction, such as that which followed the fires of 1862 and the Polish insurrection of 1863-4, who can point to any revolution that has been followed by less reaction?

The figure of Alexander the Second will stand out as one of the most remarkable in contemporary history.

Writing in 1866,3 I said:

After all, the rule of the present Czar has lasted only ten years, and yet how much has been effected! To say nothing of the emancipation of the serfs and the gradual creation of an enormous mass of free proprietors, surely one of the greatest changes for good which have ever been effected by a single act, we have the relaxation of the censorship, the reduction of the price of passports from 807. to a figure which permits anyone to travel, the abolition of several atrocious methods of punishment, the institution of representative bodies for local matters, an amnesty which restored to their country many of the victims of Nicholas, a humaner system in the navy, improvements in the universities, increased facilities for communications, and a generally gentler and more civilised spirit in the administration. When we reckon up the gains and the losses of the Crimean war, do not let us omit to remember that these were amongst the things which it procured.

Nothing less violent than that catastrophe would have sufficed to break up the system of Nicholas. We know that there are many dark shades which must be filled in if we would complete the picture. We appreciate to the full the horrors of the Polish tragedy; we know that people, writing of the rule of General Kauffmann in Lithuania, speak of 'le bon vieux temps de Mouravieff;' we know that there is a violent anti-social faction, and a faction which thinks that the system of Nicholas was perfection; we know that many of the improvements which we have instanced are merely beginning to work, and that Russia is only commencing the race of civilisation; but, after making every deduction, we still think that unless the policy of Alexander the Second very materially alters, he is likely to take a high place amongst the benefactors of mankind.

Readers of this paper will see that all the good changes mentioned in the above paragraph have, in the decade which has just been con* Studies in European Politics.

2 Le Nihilisme en Russie.

cluded, been pushed on in a very remarkable manner. But let us not deceive ourselves. Russia is still a very backward quarter of the globe between Europe and America.' Institutions almost in accordance with the latest lights are found side by side with institutions which preceded the Tartar conquest. It is just, to use the words of Mr. Wallace, as if you were to come suddenly upon a herd of megatheria feeding side by side with a flock of prize southdowns.

I say this in no spirit of unkindness to Russia. Far from it. I think a Russian caught young and thoroughly westernised is often one of the most perfect products that civilisation has yet achieved.

A statement lately made by an excellent authority might with equal propriety be extended to others of the same nationality:

Les Russes, s'ils le voulaient bien, auraient le droit d'être fiers en songeant que la perfection de l'esprit et du cœur dans la vie du monde et la hauteur de la sainteté dáns la vie religieuse ont trouvé de nos jours à Paris, dans deux de leurs compatriotes, leur réalisation à peu près idéale.

And when I lay stress upon their being thoroughly westernised it is simply because no non-Russian in his senses would ever compare the facilities for intellectual and spiritual development which are to be found east and west of Wirballen. I most fully believe that we of the West would be a good deal improved by being more brought into contact with what is best in Russia. That is the germ of truth contained in the sentences which I extract from the eminently characteristic letter addressed to Mr. Kinglake and printed in the Times a few weeks ago:

Ce qui a motivé l'erreur tout occidentale où vous êtes tombé, c'est que vous n'avez pas pris en considération les deux facteurs les plus puissants de notre développement historique. L'un de ces facteurs est le sentiment religieux, qui n'existe en Occident qu'à l'état de force morale individuelle (le subjectivisme protestant) ou à l'état de dogmatisme objectif, ayant un caractère purement politique (l'ultramontanisme). L'autre facteur est le sentiment de l'unité de race, sentiment qui, en Occident, a complètement changé de coloris sous l'influence de notre 'tradingtime' et qui amène non pas seulement la libération des 'consanguins,' mais encore parfois leur absorption. En Russie ces deux facteurs ont encore toute leur force et leur caractère primitif; ils décident conjointement avec le sentiment monarchique de la marche de notre histoire et demandent à être pris en sérieuse considération par tous ceux qui, comme vous, Monsieur, ne se bornent pas à enregistrer les faits, comme le ferait un chroniqueur, mais qui leur demandent leur raison d'être.

Many of the more ambitious and intelligent in the generation of Englishmen which is now at school will probably not think that they have done themselves justice unless they have both travelled in Russia and learnt a little of the language.

Such, then, in its broad outlines, is Russia as it looks to me, something very different from the monster which alarms those who are afflicted with Russophobia tremens, and yet not quite the beneficent

• Madame Swetchine and La Sœur Natalie Narischkin.

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