Imágenes de páginas


or may be taken to be, generally known From the days of Ivan the Terrible drunk. even in these islands : physical degenera- enness has been frankly recognized by the tion outstripping the rapid lowering of the ruling class in Russia as one of the most standard for the army to such an extent efficacions means of governing the people, that in 1887, 103,842 recruits had to be at first chiefly hecause of the fiscal advansent back as physically unfit for military tages it offered the Treasury, and at presservice ;

the 2,200 annual deaths as ent for the additional reason that it offers against 1,900 births in Nischny Novgorod ; the masses a more harmless way of passthe death-rate varying in two hundred and ing their leisure time than in brooding three Kussian cities from a minimum of over wrongs and agitating for reform. thirty-five to a respectable maximum of The first imperial kubak, or tavern, was one hundred and seventy-one per thousand opened in the reign of Ivan the Terrible, of the inhabitants ; t tens of thousands of and the representative of the governmental tender children ignorant of parental love monopoly was solemnly sworn on the cross and of all the bright and sunny sides of of Christ, not only to sell the spirits well human life, cooped up day and night in and in good measure, but to sell enough filthy sties with the refuse of humanity, of them. In other words, if on the exwho in their moments of leisure delight- piration of a certain time a certain fixed

quantity of alcohol was not sold, these “ To shed on the brief flower of youth

sworn officers were responsible for the The withering knowledge of the grave."

ensuing deficit, and the responsibility was As long as the State coffers are duly re

no light one. To do them justice, they plenished at the proper seasons, the Gov. honestly endeavored to act up to the ernment has no care for these people, nor spirit of their oath, striving to cajole the for the vast multitudes whose blood is pois- peasants into drinking, and when coaxing oned and whose very narrow is being proved ineffectual, fell upon them, bruisdried up by that inost loathsome of human ing and maiming them, and even killing discases-syphilis, which is spreading like the most refractory. At first the priests fire in dried wood. He who once visits and the people entreated the Government in person one of those numerous villages, to take away the imperial taverns, but in which are literally limbos of deformed time they grew accustomed to them, and humanity, and sees the living wrecks of ended by liking what they had at first ab

horred. men, women, and children, one-eyed, noseless, like the marble statues that adorn The complete success of this selfish the Summer Garden of St. Petersburg, policy is writ large in all departments of with distorted faces and disgusting nasal public life : half the soldiers in a regiment voices, is no more likely to forget the im

lie down drunk in the itches while on a pressions he receives there than was Dante march against the enemy; the cultured after his return from the depths of hell.

artist makes his bow to an appreciative If we now turn to another branch of the public, and drops down helpless on the subject, and analyze the intellectual guid. floor, while the audience, learning that he ance offered by the Russian Government is dead drunk, humanely sympathizes with to its hundred inillion wards, our astonish- him and goes quietly home for the night; ment becomes still more painful. It is the priest appears in church to intercede the case of a stone being given to a moan- for his people, as Moses of old before ing child instead of bread, of opiates being the Lord, but can only huil his thickadministered in lieu of maternal care.

tongued mumblings with hoarse, drunken The Jews have occasionally been accused voice up to the throne of the Almighty in of encouraging drunkenness among Rus- heaven while poisoning the atmosphere sians for their own base purposes, but the breathed by his fellow-mortals on earth. facts show that we might with as much The judge on the bench, the professor in truth accuse the Parsees or the Buddhists this chair, the policeman arresting the

drunken man, occasionally become living moral disease has eaten into the national In Kieff, the Mecca of Holy Russia, a constitution.

illustrations of the depth to which this * Odessa Neus, 5th July, 1888.

| Report of the Medical Society of St. Petersburg. December, 1888. Cf. also Novoye Vrem. subjects more in detail in the new edition of ya. 3rd December, 1888.

my paper on Russian Jews, which will proba| I shall dwell upon this and other cognate bly appear in book form in October.

policeman whose duty it was to escort a This is admitted even by the reaction- prisoner into court, enters the precincts ary press, which occasionally gives vent to without taking off his hat, and once in a vain regret that two thirds of the Rus- the hall of justice drops down helpless on sian imperial budget should be drawn the floor. The court, alarmed at first, is from the excise duty on alcohol. “The visibly relieved to find that he is only mischief and the impossibility of main. drunk. “ Where is your prisoner ?" intaining the budget for ever and ever by this quires the President. “ He-he-he's a' sacrifice of the morality and physical right, down-stairs, yer know ; st-stopped health of the entire orthodox population below t' have little smoke. B—but he'll are beyond question,” says the Govern- be up by-and-by, you'll see ; can take my inental Grashdanin. Indeed, there is a w-word he's th' right sort o’ fellow.” * manifest contradiction between this con- So true is it that drunkenness is in Rus. duct of the Ministry of Finances and the sia the beginning and the end of everyaims which the Church and the Ministry thing that, as Leskoff remarks, the peasof Public Instruction set before themselves ant cannot even pray to God without get-a contradiction amounting to a grave ting intoxicated. The authorities make scandal which is demoralizing the nation. no secret of their conviction that the presThe only question now is whether the Rus- ent political fabric is dependent for its sian people have not been sufficiently plied existence on the continuance of this fell with drink, whether the Church and State disease, nor of their determination to have not already imbibed poison enough in foster and develop it. Whenever a peasthe guise of sins, crimes, every species of ant community manifests an inclination to filthiness and immorality, all categories of grow sober, it is regarded and treated as criminal horrors, the physical degencration a disaffected crew. A governmental organ of the people, progressive paralysis, soften- of the press publishes the following quesing of the brain, idiocy, and ruin."* tion put to his superior by a superintendent

This frank admission deliberately made of the rural police whose naïveté was more by the organ of the Russian Government apparent than his knowledge of the system is sweeping enough to include every state. he was administering.“ Here in our disment I ever advanced in the foregoing trict sobriety is raging like an epidemic papers respecting the physical and moral among the common people. The publicondition of the Russian people.

cans are complaining of small profits and One or two scenes photogiaphed from even losses. Now, what's to be done ? life may serve to underline these avowals, Am I to treat this sobriety movement as I and stamp them with scality enough to should the spread of a pernicious religious distinguish them from the pessimistic sect, such as the Eunuchs ? or to welcome oratory of dyspeptic patriots. A tax- it as a blessing to the Fatherland ?” The gatherer is sent to collect arrears which reply of the ispravnik, well versed in the had been accumulating for some time; ways of governing, was equally characterbut the peasants turn a deaf ear, plead im- istic : “You just think the matter over pecuniosity, and hospitably invite the offi- for a couple of minutes, and you can't fail cer to drown his cares in vodka instead of to see the solution.”+ worrying himself with money matters. He One cannot make omelettes without first gladly consents, the peasants cheer and breaking eggs. If

, as I believe, M. Pobecry

hurrah !" and all sit down to drink. donostsetf is inspired by an honest desire Next day several of them have to be put to give a new lease of existence to Russian under a pump before they can be brought Autocracy, he is certainly well advised in to their senses, while even that heroic inaugurating an era of religious persecumeasure is of no avail in the case of the tion, and in striving to fan the flame of backsliding tax gatlierer, who has drunk religious fanaticism among the tepid memhimself to death. A considerable quan- bers of the Orthodox Church. He is destity of vodka is consumed in a neighborly tined, most probably, to fail in the end ; way at his funeral.

as the Emperor Julian failed, and as the Sassanian kings failed in equally respect- of instruction. The Educational Commisable causes ; but he is practically certain sion in the city of Saratoff, acting upon of temporary success. Ho bids fair to this intelligible principle, reported strongmake the ship seaworthy for a consider- ly in favor of restricting education“ so as able time longer ; and more than this no to protect the children of the wealthy man or Government can hope to do. I classes from the influx into the schools of must not be taken to say that such violent children of the poor and middle classes." measures commend themselves to one as The thousands of schools which the defensible in the abstract, or in any con- Zemstvox had opened and supported under ceivable circumstances, but only that they Alexander II. were being gradually but. may reasonably appear not only defensible steadily closed by the late Count Tolstoi but praiseworthy to men who, standing on and N. Pobedonostseff, until the 16th an ethical plane so different from ours as May, when an imperial ukase was prois the Russian, deem it their duty to up- mulgated transferring them all en bloc to hold the autocracy.

* Grashdanin, 14th February, 1889. † lbid., 16th September, 1889.

* Grashdanin, 18th September, 1889. + lbid., 7th September, 1889,

the management of the clergy.* It would The late Emperor made much greater have been equally effectual and less cynical concessions to popular liberty than his pred- to band them over to Sairey Gamp's Mrs. ecessor or his successor, and inany of the Harris. For, the clergy, to describe them novel experiments he tried, however bene- in the words of their own bishops and ficial to the nation at large, proved exceed- archbishops, are a poverty-stricken, avariingly dangerous to autocracy. Schools cious, ignorant, intemperate body of men, sprang into existence like mushrooms after

with very little leisure or qualification to rain, newspapers were started as if pub- perform their ecclesiastical duties, and licity were a panacea for all popular griev. none whatever to take over the manageances ; religious sects were allowed a res. ment of schools. As it is the intention pite, as if Christian love were about to of the Governinent, however, that the exbe recognized as one of the factors of isting elementary schools should disappear State policy ; in a word, it seemed to as speedily as may be, no better method many as if the Spirit were moving over could possibly have been hit upon. As the face of the chaotic waters, and the to new schools of this type, it is now de. dim outlines of cosinos gradually gaining creed that no such establishments can ever in distinctness. Five ycars more of such be opened or endowed in future without a system of government, and Russia would

an express authorization from the clergy, have been free for good or for evil. But who have received secret instructions to the passing bell that tolled for the mur- withhold it. In Tomsk, Krasnoyarsk, dered Emperor was also the death knell of Omsk, Irkootsk, Yenisseisk, etc., there the era he had inaugurated. A violent were a number of elementary schools reaction set in which, after baving con- founded and supported by private genertinued unabated for ten years, has not yet osity, which were working wonders among wholly spent itself. On his accession to the lower classes of the population ; but the throne the present Tsar virtually ad- this revolutionary state of things has been dressed his people in the words attributed solemnly declared reprehensible by one of to Richard after Wat Tyler's rebellion the chief organs of the Government, which was quelled : Rustici fuistis et estis : You hints in a broad way to the local authoris still remain what you were before-mere ties that the sooner these schools disappear clodhoppers. He signed the ukase refus- the better. And yet outside these estabing education to all but a very few, and lishments no man or woman will be pereven these privileged ones receive it in a mitted to give instruction of any kind to form which none but the imaginative affect a child or children (except their own). to distinguish from systematic demoraliza- The priest, and only the priest, is authortion. “Education," says a spokesman of ized, when sober enough, to discharge the the Government, “ should be proportion- functions of a pedagogue, and if the child ate to the property of those who are being be a Lutheran, a Roman Catholic, a Noneducated ;'' so that if a man have no conformist, it must be taught by the priest property, as is the case with most R113

not only to read and to write, but also to sians, his children are to receive no sort

* Cf. Messenger of Europe, July, 1891, p. 360. * Cf. Modern Russia, p. xii.

+ Grushdanin, 9th October, 1889.


recite devoutly all the prayers of the tic, no means are considered immoral. Orthodox Church, to learn all the cere. But, apart from the curtailment of permonies of the Mass, and to commit to sonal liberty necessitated by this end, they memory the chief points of the dogmas have no cause to complain of the interferwhich they are supposed to symbolize.. ence of the authorities. They may drink At home, and in their own places of wor- to excess with impunity ; they may imiship, these children will be taught to look tate and outbid their professors in loosewith contempt upon the teachings of the ness of conduct, may take French actresses school, a lesson which they will master or opera singers for their inistresses and the more readily that the priests charged flaunt thein in the eyes of the public at the with the delicate task of moulding their theatres, churches and exbibitions ; * they tender souls are known to be the same may ape the Greeks and Romans in one of men who pass night after night in gain. the few respects in which the Greeks and bling ; who drink vodka as the ancient Romans were a disgrace to humanity--all Germans swilled beer, occasionally until this is winked at-occasionally indirectly delirium tremens supervenes ; who per- encouraged, but if thev criticise the Govsuade their congregations to pay for the ernment or manifest a disposition to symcelebration of a special church service to pathize with the Libera's they are irreinduce the Lord to dispense with eclipses ; trievably ruined for life. It is a maxim who encourage peasants to dig dead inen’s of the authorities that a sleek satisfied bones out of their graves and throw them scoundrel is a better subject than a malcon. into the water, in order to bring down tent honest man. And from its own rain from heaven; and who allow them- peculiar point of view the Government is selves—for a moderate consideration—to perfectly right. Crime, therefore, is in be dragged across a turnip-field in order some sort a condition sine quâ non of sucthereby to touch God's heart, that He cess, a passport to distinction and prefermay deign to make the turnips big and ment. Salty koff, who before taking up round. And the Government, through literature as a profession, served the Gov. the medium of its organs in the press, de- ernment in many positions of trust—as a clares that it would be a national calamity Vice-Governor, for instance_declares that were the intellectual and moral level of the one cannot claim to be regarded even as a priests to be raised. Does not all this loyal subject without having first forfeited seem distinctly suggestive of something one's head to the authorities by the comlike a deliberate intention to demoralize? mission of some crime or misdemeanor, t

The high schools of Russia are powerful while general immorality endears you to winnowing-machines, warranted to keep the hearts of all your superiors. I And the out the grain and retain the tares of the zeal exhibited by all classes of ishinovniks youths who enter in. Lying and treach- to meet the implied wishes of the authoriery are taught to the youngest. In every ties would be touching were it inspired by gymnasy there are several boys, of ages some less ignoble cause. Schoolmasters varying from nine to eighteen, who are and professors give the tone to their pupils

educated'' gratis on the sole condition and pronienade about the streets and that they spy on their comrades. Their squares of the towns and cities with their occupation is rarely, a secret for their mistresses on their arms—their lawful schoolfellows ; hut as in Russian schools wives frequently living in indigence and there is far less of public spirit than in squalor ; and the students are compelled Russian prisons, the traitors are fawned by law to salute them with the same marks upon, conciliated and feared. Inspectors of respect as a soldier shows his superior visit the dwellings of the students—even though the latter live with their parents

* Master M-, for instance, a pupil of a examine their boxes and trunks, read their select Government school in St. Petersburg,

lives with Madame M—-, a fifth rate actress, letters, and treat them exactly as if they old enough to be his mother, escorts her to were men of unsound minds who have un

the theatre, and takes a boyish delight in letcertain lucid intervals.

ting all men know that she is his paid misDisaffection to the Gorernment is the tress. one inexpiable sin from which these koff, passim and pp. 120, 128, 211 for choice.

+ Cf. A Modern Idyll (Russian), by M. Saltyyouths are so jealously guarded. To save

# Cf., for instance, Signs of the Times, by them from this no measures are too dras. Shtshedreen, pp. 74-76.

officer—for these men are their guides and The governors of the provinces and masters in morals as well as in science, other lieutenants of the Tsar are fully and are equally trustworthy in both. abreast of the times, and seem to take a

At the Universities the professors, as a keen pleasure in showing by their life and rule, were, until a few years ago, a differ- exainple what a vast amount of license is ent class of men. They practised sobriety compatible with loyalty. Bigany, forgery, and self-sacrifice, devoted themselves to embezzlement, and perjury are some of science, and were capable of feeling en- the crimes which Saltykoff asserts are great thusiasm-qualities that combine very in- helps to a man who sincerely desires to differently with the elements of the one satisfy the authorities of his loyalty and necessary virtue-logalty. In 1884, how- obtain the distinguished privilege of servever, a law was enacted depriving the ing his Tsar. I was myself slightly acUniversities of the right they had thereto- quainted with an officer of the police who fore exercised of electing their own pro- was known to have committed murder in fessors, who are now appointed by the Servia, and some other unmentionable Minister, the minister's wife, or the para- crimes in Russia. His superiors, I was mour of the minister's mistress, with told, often joked about his antecedents, results that must prove extremely gratify- and he and they might be still occasionally ing to the Government. A well-known alluding to them in the same humorous Russian Journalist of the Novoye Vremya vein had he not been sent to Siberia a recently declared that University profes. couple of years ago at the suit of his own sors were, on the whole, on the same level wife for incest of a most atrocious kind, of morality as their less enlightened fel- and thus prevented from watching as low-citizens. “I was once making a trip theretofore over the morality of the inon the Volga, in a steamboat,'' he writes, habitants of a populous district of St.

among the passengers of which were Petersburg. He may be actually, howseveral residents of a provincial University ever, a pillar of fire to the simple-minded city. They were talking about the pro- people of Siberia.* fessors of the University, with whom, to That may possibly have been an extreme all appearance, they were intimately ac- case ; but whether by reason of the enorquainted ; and the things I there heard mity or of the notoriety of the man's were, without contradiction, extraordi- achievements, must remain an open quesnary. One of the professors, it appears, tion. A few authentic facts may help to lives with two women, both of whom are throw light on the kind of people who, in the wives of his colleagues. Another the opinion of the Government, are qualiphilosopher set about seducing one of the fied to impart that peculiar“ education" actresses of the opéra bouffe and employed which is considered necessary for the chantage for the purpose. A third lecturer training of good subjects. It may be well leads a dissolute life in the local cafés- to remark beforehand that in a country chantants in company with the light wom- like Ruesia, inhabited by illiterate peasants en of the town; and in order to obtain and governed by endless red tape and millthe means of keeping up this rakish life, ions of reams of foolscap, the secretary of does not scoin to forge bills of exchange a town council or Volost board is one of and (resort to) such-like things. And ob- the most infinential officials in the counserve, all these things were narrated, not try. Now, “ the secretary of the Min the form of general gossip, but in luxu- Volost Board, M. Glinsky," we read in riant detail and exact reference to facts the official and unofficial papers, is a conwell known to every inhabitant of the city firmed drunkard. The secretary of the and with the names in full of the scholarly B— Town Council is a tramp who was adulterers and erudite butterflies, and of deported to Siberia in 1872.

The secre the victims of their gallant exploits. tary of the M-sk Board, James Feo

* V. Booraynin, New Times, May 15th, 1891. cians and institutions, which, it is charitable I quote the passage and the reference textu. to hope, is penned in ignorance of the facts. ally from the Revier of Reviews, which de. * Men like him, who have led blameless serves a tribute of praise for substituting in lives (from a political point of view) are con. its last number (July), anthentic facts for its tinually being placed in positions of trust in usual indiscriminate praise of Russian politi. Siberia.

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