Adam G. De Gurowski.

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846 & 348 BEOADWAY.






Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1854,


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the
Southern District of New- York.


FOR some time Kussia has more and more attracted
general attention. This mighty colossus, over-top
ping Europe and Asia, is for many but a dark cav
ern filled with demoniac forces, which, let loose,
are to extinguish light, engulf civilization, and stop
the onward progress of the European world, spread
ing over it all the plagues and curses of darkness.
How far these apprehensions are well founded and
justified, I shall attempt to elucidate in the follow
ing pages. I shall try to give an insight into the
heart, the life and the muscles of this political

Conscience and truth have directed my pen in
explaining the internal conditions of the Kussian
people, and the construction of their political society.
Their institutions are presented here, as they exist in
reality, as they are determined by existing and obli-
gatorv laws. Customs, manners, sentiments, opinions


and aspirations, as they are drawn from the daily life
of the people.

Overarched by despotism and caste, this peo
ple has still its sunny aspects. Good and evil in
termix there, as in every other human society. The
features, the character, and the actual state of the
Russian nation are here laid before the reader, per
haps for the first time, in an unprejudiced and not
superficial manner. It is however not a history, al
beit the subjects unfolded and treated here are among
the prominent elements of history. Every manifes
tation, every kind of utterance in social life, belongs
to the boundless historical domain.

Russia and its people, generally unknown, are
judged by their external form or government, and
thus mostly from an external manifestation. But it is
not this si^e alone, not the lives or deeds of sovereigns,
not the .littles and extensions of geographical bound
aries, not' the concluded treaties and diplomatic tricks
which exclusively form the objects of history. All this
summed up together, often gives no true idea of the
life indwelling in a nation, a life running below and
mostly in a direction opposite to the governmental
external form. This under-current reveals the real
character of a people, its signification in the future
destinies of the whole or of a part of the human
family. From this stand-point Russia is spoken of
in these pages.

Groing rather rapidly over the past, I had in view
to explain the formation of the present ruling power,
which in itself is a social element and agency, like


any other. I attempt to do it justice as far as, in
given conditions and crises undergone by the na
tion, this power resulted from unavoidable necessities,
and in such moments has been beneficial to the na
tional existence.

In the life, in the history of a nation, of a people,
as well as when surveying the history even of our
whole race ; all the elements, forces, agencies, together
with the transient social forms and modes of govern
ment, ought to be equitably pondered and treated ;
and the good and evil evolving therefrom impartially
explained. Therefore neither general nor special his
tory, nor its various compounds, ought to be dogmati
cally comprehended. Its aggregate is the result of hu
man individual or common activity. It is the reflection
of passions, convictions, sentiments, schemes, aims,
aspirations, impulses lofty, generous or mean, egotis
tical or expansive, wide-embracing. All these moving
forces have often been represented by individualities,
as by heroes, founders of empires, leaders, legislators ;
or by special bodies, corporations or castes, or by
masses of people enjoying the right of a political and
social life. Thus history is as many-faced as is man,
its maker, with the unwonted versatility of his powers
of mind, with the still more unfathomed accords and
discordances of passions, sentiments and impressions
throbbing in his heart. Many historical phenomena,
many prevailing moral convictions, through several
generations, many social structures lasting for cen
turies, would remain unexplained enigmas if con
sidered as results of an accident or of blind fatality,


and if the reason of their protracted existence were
not sought as having deep roots in human nature,
and depending from certain almost absolute laws
regulating the general historical movement. Some
from among these laws will be subsequently pointed

The variety of historical phenomena springing
uninterruptedly from the versatility of human na
ture, explains why every, even the most extreme idea
or conception relating to the social organization, can
be logically developed and supported in opposite ways,
with seemingly powerful and conclusive historical
evidences and illustrations. In this manner absolu
tists, papists, liberals, democrats, socialists, can with
equal force and profusion draw maxims and example*
from history, that inexhaustible and everliving source.
Therefore, history would seem to be a chaotic abyss
filled with testimonies alike for good and evil, testi
monies by which both can be justified, and their right
to social existence established. However, it is not so.
In consequence of the above-mentioned versatility of
man, on account of the countless passions stirring and
urging his actions, we find in history continual ups
and downs, vicissitudes resulting from the victory of
a certain principle, tendency, or even of an individual
will, over that of few or many. But as the final aim
of the life and activity of every single individual is
the real or fancied amelioration of his condition, even
if to reach it he often commits violent deeds, or is
directed by a gloomy misconception of duties towards
himself and the human brotherhood, in the same way


history embraced in its whole gravitates towards a
final aim, that of securing every man's higher de
velopment. This development consists in the vic
tory of human ; mental and social liberty his abso
lute selfhood over transient expediencies, destroy
ing or limiting the rights of all for the sake of the
few, whatever may be the strength and momentary
supremacy of the like expediencies.

Keason and conscience prevail finally in history.
From all this apparently discordant clashing of forces
struggling for duration and space, there arises an over
ruling accord, marking a slow but uninterrupted
progress, leading and directing the ascension of the
individual into the ^higher and purer regions of

History is the record of the doings of aggregate
humanity, and not only of her so-called types, name
them conquerors or philosophers, founders of religions
or of empires. History embraces the life of all
these numberless individuals where from are formed
the races, the nations, the people. Uncounted
drippings, small springs, muddy as well as clear
brooks and rivulets form the mighty stream running
for thousands of miles. So various actions and in
centives, external or from within, agencies explained
or hidden to the common eye, grandeur and weak
ness, shape out the history of each nation. And as
the streams and rivers fill the abysses of the ocean,
so these single histories united form the world-his
tory or that of our race.

Judging the actions of an individual, it is fair to


account for his position, his character, his past, his
individual feelings, his moral or even physical powers ;
it is fair to have in view the incentives acting from
without, the circumstances and elements among
which he moves ; the same rule ought to be applied
in judging a nation, a people. The Slavic race in
general, or Kussia in particular, ought to be appre
ciated according to that principle of common justice.
By it the social elements existing in Kussia are to
be ascertained and their validity examined. Then
only things will appear in their true light ; then it
will be found, that beyond the Autocracy there exists
in Eussia a people with a destiny reaching beyond
the temporary darkness enveloping it, which is caused
by successive exigencies rather than by everlasting
historical laws. Not the ruling power or the existing
government, not the superior strata of society, con
tain the promise of the future. The people alone is
its bearer ; the people, the present lower classes, how
ever behind-hand and uncivilized they may now ap
pear. From the people will pour out a current
changing the actual state, breaking its encompassing
form. To such a future this book points.

It may perhaps fall into hands of some acquaint
ed with my previous writings, and to those I am in
duty bound to give an explanation. They are aware
that not for the first time the destinies of the Slavic
race and of Kussia, form the subject of my publica
tions. I was among the first who gave to the con
ception of Panslavism a scientific and historical ex
planation, searching therein for a clew to the appa-


rently savage and aggressive expansion of Russia.
If I have changed my point of view concerning the
mode by which Panslavism is to fulfil its destinies,
my convictions are not at all changed as to the essen
tial signification of the Slavi and of Russia in the
great family of nations. Once I thought that auto
cracy would be the great and luminous beacon in this
movement ; this I no longer believe. In this con
sists the change of my convictions, and this I am
about to explain.

For nearly thirty years my existence was agitated
by the political tempests overwhelming my fatherland
as well as other parts of Europe. Thus I had oc
casion to do as much as any for ideas and individual
convictions, at the risk of my neck, not to mention
worldly losses actually sustained. I dearly acquired
the right to act independently for myself. In my
youth with other patriots, I took an active part in
the affairs of Poland, the country of my birth. After
I had been for several years the object of violent in
dividual persecutions, by our joint efforts was effected
the insurrection of 1S30-'31, during which I tried to
establish the republican government, and whose dis
astrous end threw me upon the world a condemned
exile. Years of wandering were spent in Europe
and principally in Paris. I had thus an opportunity
to mingle on a large scale with ideas of every shade,
and men of all opinions ; to observe and judge vari
ous events, and to devote my time to social and his
torical studies. A revolution in my mind was effect
ed. Analyzing with conscientious scrutiny the



causes of the political death of Poland, I lost the
faith in any possibility of her resurrection. The
destiny of the Slavic race, dawning now on the hori
zon, could not depend on one of its feeblest, withered
and destroyed branches. Kussia alone represented
the Slavic vitality in the moving complications of
Europe and of the Western world. Among the
various reasons of the destruction of Poland, the
most deleterious was, the utter want for centuries
of any centralizing idea, of any organized and direct
ing power. Kussia's growth was the result of the
existence of such an influence. At that time not
only political theoreticians, but new systems aiming
to reform society in its foundations, as for example
that of the St. Simonians, whose conceptions I studied
and shared ; all of them established as an axiom that
society ought to be directed by a supreme will em
bodied in one individual, ruling or inspiring the rest.
Thus sprang up in my mind the fallacious belief
shared with many others, that an energetic concen
tration of power was an absolute necessity for the
existence, the development and progress of society
at large as well as for single nations. According to
such a notion, civilization was to be spread from
above, and the more a nation was behind-hand, the
greater the need of such a supreme leader. All the
political as well as social schools resounded with ex
positions about the necessity of organization, to be
obtained by the unity of direction. The more my
mind was overpowered by such ideas, the deeper I
felt the curse of the existence of an exile, rootless on


a foreign soil ; a dejection so admirably described by
Ballanche, who says that "man has not the choice of
his fatherland ; but if he exiles himself to avoid
living under institutions disliked by him, then he re
mains without a tie, he is a stranger on earth/' The
devotion and interest felt for my ancient country
became wholly superseded by my interest for the
whole race, of which Poland was, after all, rather an
insignificant offshoot.

For the last thirty years all general historical
studies, as well as the philosophical comprehension
of history, were directed to elucidate the character
of various races, and their bearing on the affairs of the
world. To the distinct characteristics of whole races
which of old took possession of Europe, rather than
to single 'nations, were traced all great historical
events and the progressive evolutions of civilization.
Thus originated those generalizations introduced
in the philosophy of history, as that for example
of German civilization, which framed out the whole
political and intellectual state of Europe after the
downfall of the Roman world. By birth a Slavi, I
looked around to see where was alive the powerful
trunk of my race, and found that Russia alone repre
sented it. Thus originated with me the idea of Pans-
la vism. Its signification is the union of disseminated
Slavic families some of whom vegetate miserably
under the foreign dominion of the Magyars, Turks
and Germans, into a homogeneous whole, around one
mighty stock. Panslavism does not aim to give laws


to Western Europe, but only not to receive any from
her, or from Ouralian invaders.

The study of, and devotion to the great truths re
vealed by Fourier, nay, his personal advice, influenced
powerfully my decision. Whoever has read his
works, knows how repeatedly Fourier points to_ Russia
and even to a Czar, as to the means of the speediest
realization of the theory of association. And thus I
went to Russia and to the Czar.

At that moment the Emperor Nicholas shone
with the light of an autocrat, kindling the beacon of
civilization. He proclaimed his wish to evolve it
from the national Slavic genius. To such a focus
converged all the aspirations of the Slavi, from the
Elba, the Danube, the Carpathian and the Balkan
Mountains. With many others, I was dazzled by the
apparent brilliancy of the aim, and became consci
entiously a believer in the lofty and providential
calling of Czarism. For several years I was in a posi
tion to observe its nature, its action, and how far it
could fulfil the mission which in my ardent imagina
tion and wishes I assigned to this supreme, this al
most superhuman power. Penetrating, however,
more deeply, not" only into the nature of the man,
but into that of the institution itself, my enthusiasm
began to cool. Still I strained my reason to hold out,
hoping for the best. One by one the scales fell from
my eyes, and finally I violently, broke the voluntary
chain, retook the staff of the exile, and with it my

It is scarcely worth while to mention the showers


of abuse poured on me from various quarters. These
never have impressed me and never can. Acting
under the dictates of conviction, I never hesitated to
secede from an idea, or change a route, when by fol
lowing them the inward harmony of conscience could
have become endangered. Often in this thorny jour-'
ney have I had the sad satisfaction to be right, to be
justified by events notwithstanding accusations and
recriminations. Thus years previous j^o t^e events
of 1848, in one of my writings I doubted the possi
bility of Germany becoming easily an unit ; and un
til the present time events have confirmed my pre
monitions. Seceding openly eighteen years ago from
my former countrymen and co-exiles, I gave as rea
son the utter impossibility of the reconstruction of
Poland, especially by foreign help and interference.
There is not yet the slightest sign on the horizon
to overthrow my assertions. Neither my writings
nor my acts could have contributed to bring forth
this result.

- A homeless wanderer over the world, I reached
America. Here my once youthful aspirations were
reinvigorated. I found a partial realization of that
for which as yet Europe vainly craves. From these
shores I cast a glance on the past, on the rockings of
the European world, and on the destinies of the race
from which I descended, on those bf the.. country
abandoned forever.

The social organization, the institutions of
America, raise her into the higher regions of humanity.
How long will it be before Europe follows in the wake


of her younger sister ? Europe must still traverse
many crises ere she shall free herself from the mental
and political fetters forged by centuries as long as
the past of the whole race. In this struggle the
special group of the Slavic family must necessarily
act its part. The present book aims to show how
in the future, the Slavi may harmonize with the
eternal laws of nature and the general destinies of
mankind. All the European races and nations, which
for centuries stood prominent in history, in bloody
struggles, have tried their hands to establish social
freedom and harmony. Hitherto their efforts have
been unsuccessful. It may be, that the Slavi, who
come the last, who have suffered and suffer the most,
will give a more propitious lift to this great work,
which heretofore^ as regards Europe, has been like
the task of Tantalus. "


NEW-YORK, March, 1854.







THE CZAR NICHOLAS . . . . . .44






THE NOBILITY . ' . . V . . Ill


THE CLERGY . -,, . . . . 125


THE BOURGEOISIE . . . . . . 187


THE COSSACKS ....... 170









. 219






. 23?.




APPENDIX. . ,289



THE destinies of Europe, and of the ancient world, oscil
late between liberty and absolutism : and Russia at pre
sent turns the scale in favor of the partisans of the past,
and against the apostles and Worshippers of a political antf
social disenthralment. In this struggle Russia, on the one
side, presses with all the might, possessed by an autocracy,
leading the cardinal stem of a mighty and numerous race
of the human family. Thus, in the general course of
events, that are moving and shaking the world, Russia
represents two historical elements : that of the arbitrary
power and that of a race. As a race, the Russian people
has its distinct characteristics, prevailing as well in its
history as in its internal organism; characteristics un
known, misunderstood, or misrepresented. The following
pages, it may be, will contribute to throw some light on
questions filling out the foreground on the world-scene.

The country, the people, are both old and new. Old,
because belonging, as a race, to the first historical peoplings
of Europe ; and new, because in its outward manifestation


as a state, Russia's appearance is recent, nay, even the
last, on the records of Europe.

The Russian people probably occupied a great part of
the region where it is settled now, before history dawned
upon them. It is the region belonging to the Slavic race,
of which the Russian is now the only independent repre
sentative among the other states and nations. The his
torical origin of the Russian people is merged in the dark
ness extending over the origin of the whole race. The
same mystery surrounds the cradle of all aboriginal races
and primitive nations of the ancient world.

Numerous and various are the hypotheses built up and
successively destroyed, concerning the original and primi
tive distribution of inhabitants, over the European conti
nent. It is beyond the limits of the present work, how
ever, to array the ethnographical, ethnological, legendary,
traditional and historical researches, discoveries, testi
monies or assumptions, concerning the first races or fami
lies, who, in common or successively, wandered and spread
themselves in all directions throughout Europe.

Among these, number the Slavi. Their historical cur
rent, as generally that of other old nations, does not
spring from a positive epoch or spot, at once, as from a
tabula rasa. Every historical period has always a kind
of eponymus. It always presupposes a long and dark
lapse of time, that is to say, some pre-existing world, still
closely connected to the succeeding one.

The Slavic race stretches back to the common cradle
of all historical races. If the Pentateuch is to be accept
ed as recording the distribution of the human family over
the earth, the Slavi claim to descend from Riphaat,
through Gomer, grandson of Japhet, as the Celts issue
from Ascanaz, the Germans from Throgorma, two others
of the Gomeriden. The sound Rh, vibrating through the


remotest antiquity in regions occupied by the Slavi, seems
to support this biblical hypothesis. Thus Rha is the
name of the river Wolga, and the same sound is to be met
with in the ancient names of mountains north of the Danube,
of the meotic estuary, and of the Don, as Kamennol poias,
even to the range near JULalaia Zemblia. If Armenia was
the point wherefrom, in the Phalegic epoch, the races emi
grated, those who turned towards the north or west, enter
ed probably originally the passes of the Caucasus, whence
they continued their further migrations. To these regions,
ethnology retraces their roots : some of their most ancient
legends and myths, as, for example, those of the Asi, the
protoplasts of the Germans, point to the east ; and myths
and legends are seldom without some basis of truth. The
Slavi on their way to Europe seem to have wandered
north and south of the Euxine, leaving, under various de
nominations, traces of their passage. North the Meotic
Cymbri, south the Eniochi, Eneti, called by ancient wri
ters gens antiquissima, the Paphlagonians, those sub-
duers of the horse, and, according to Strabo, breeders of
the mule, are claimed by some historical investigators, as
the ancestors of the Slavi. At any rate, antiquity men
tions on the Lych and the Termodontos names of
tribes, which are to be found again among tribes north of
the Danube, very probably towards the Don, as mentioned
by Herodotus. Thus, for example, the Myriandini, who,
according to his account, refused to join the Scythians,
when invaded by Darius reminding them that they, the
Myriandini, did not participate in the Scythian invaslejf.
of Media and Asia Minor. According to the thread *&T
the Genesis, the Slavi, following the Celts and Germans,
would thus form the third among the primitive families
of Northern Europe.

The modern researches of ethnology, establish a dif-


ferent filiation. The close connection of the Slavic lan
guage with the Zend and Sanscrit, places the Slavic among
the prominent members of the Indo-European family.
Ethnologically, it became the sixth immigrant to Europe,
succeeding the Greek, the Latin, the Celtic, the German,
and the Samogitian or Lithuanian language. Thus the
Slavi would have formed the rear-guard of tribes leaving
Hindoo-Kosh and Parapomisus for their distant western
home, where the Slavi finally spread themselves more ex
tensively than any of those races immigrating before

The learned Denina and Adelung in some measure
suggest, that perhaps the Slavi formed the aborigines of
Europe, from the Atlantic to the Wolga. In the most
remote and darkest times, these regions were called gen
erally, Scythian ; but Scythians, even of a less obscure
epoch, those of Herodotus and of the classical times, seem,
after all, not to have represented a. perfectly distinct race,

Online LibraryAdam G. De GurowskiRussia as it is → online text (page 1 of 24)