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Anthology of Russian literature from the earliest period to the present time online

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antiquity, has mainly been drawn from foreign sources for
lack of native writers, and in the other parts many errors and
lacunae have been corrected and filled out from foreign
sources. European historians accuse us of having no <dd
history, and of knowing nothing of our antiquity, simply
because they do not know what historians we possess, and
though some have made a few extracts, or have translated
from them a passage here and there, others, thinking that
we have no better ones than those quoted, despise them.
Some of our own ignorant writers agree with them, while

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Prince Anti6kh Kantemfr 223

those who do not wish to trouble themselves by looking into
the andent sources or who do not understand the text, have,
ostensibly to give a better explanation, but in reality to hide
the truth, invented fables of their own and thus have obscured
the real facts as told by the ancients, as, for example, in the
case of the foundation of Kfev, and that of N6vgorod by
Slav^n, and so forth.

I wish to say here emphatically that all the famous Buro-
pean historians will not be able to know or tell anything
correctly of many of our antiquities, no matter what their
efforts in Russian history may be, if they do not read our
sources, — for example, of the many nations who have existed
here in ancient days, as the Amazons, Alans, Huns, Avars,
Cimbrians and Cimmerians; nor do they know anything of
the Scythians, Sarmatians and Slavs, their tribes, origin,
habitations and migrations, or of the anciently famous large
cities of the Essedonians, Archipeans^ Cumanians, etc.,
where they have lived, and what their present names are;
but all this they could find out through a study of Russian
history. This history is not only of use to us Russians, but
also to the whole learned world, in order that by it the fables
and lies invented by our enemies, the Poles and others, for
the sake of disparaging our ancestors, may be laid bare and

Such is the usefulness of history. But everybody ought
to know, and this is easily perceived, that history describes
not only customs, deeds and occurrences, but also the con-
sequences resulting from them, namely, that the wise, just,
kind, brave, constant and faithful are rewarded with honour,
glory and well-being, while the vidous, foolish, evildoers,
avaridotts, cowardly, perverse and faithless will gain eternal
dishonour, shame and insult: from which all may learn how
desirable it is to obtain the first and avoid the second.

Prince Anti6kh (Antiochus) Kantemir. (X708-X744-)

A]iti6kh Kantemfr was not a Russian by birth. His father,
Demetrius, had for a nmnber of years been hospodar of Moldavia.
Harassed by the intrigues of a rival at Constantinople, he emigrated

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224 The Eighteenth Century

with four thousand of his Moldavians to Russia, where he arriTed
after the unfortunate Prut expedition, in 1711. Himself one of the
most accomplished scholars and linguists of Europe, he with the aid
of his cultivated Greek wife bestowed the minutest care on the edu-
cation of his six children.

EUiving arrived in Russia in his third year, Anti6kh acquired
Russian as his mother tongue, though he also spoke fluently six or
seven other languages, and was well versed in I^tin and ancient
Greek. By education, however, he was an3rthing but a Russian, and
his sympathies .were naturally directed towards the most extreme re-
formatory tendencies which Peter the Great advocated for the State
and Peofdn Prokop6vich for the Church ; both of them were not slow
in recognising his unusual talents. In 1732 Empress Anna appointed
him ambassador to the Court of St. James, and in 1738 he was trans-
ferred to Paris, where he passed his short life in communion with
Maupertuis, Montesquieu, Abb^ Guasco, and others. Besides a few
shorter poems and imitations and translations of Anacreon, and an
unfinished ode on the death of Peter the Great, Kantemir composed
ten satires, of which the one below is the first It is on these satires
that his reputation mainly rests. In style, they are imitations of
Boileau and Horace, though never slavish. His language is not
always free from Gallicisms, but otherwise it represents the first
successful attempt to introduce colloquial Russian into poetry. The
chief value of the satires, independently of their literary perfection,
lay in their powerful attack on all the contemporary elements of
Russian society that were antagonistic to the Western reform.

Specimens from several of Kantemir's satires are given in C. E.
Turner's Studies in Russian Literature, London, 1882, and the same
article, in Praser's Magazine, 1877.

Parts of the First Satire, in article on Russian Literature^ in
Foreign Qaaiterly Review, vol. i.


Immattire Mind, fruit of recent study ! Be quiet, urge not
the pen into my hands: even without writing one may pass
the fleeting days of life and gain honours, though one be
not a poet. Many easy paths lead in our days to honours,
and bold feet need not stumble upon them: the least accept-
able is the one the nine barefooted sisters have laid out
Many a man has lost his strength thereon, without reaching
a goal. You have to toil and moil there, and while you
labour, people avoid you like the plague, rail at you, loathe

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Prince Anti6kh Kantemir 225

you. He who bends over the table, fixing his eyes upon
books, will gain no magnificent palaces, nor gardens adorned
with marbles; will add no sheep to his paternal flock.

'T is true, in our young monarch' a mighty hope has
risen for the Muses, and the ignorant flee in shame from
him. Apollo has found in him a strong defender of his
glory, and has seen him honouring his suite and steadily
intent upon increasing the dwellers on Parnassus.' The
trouble is, many loudly praise in the Tsar what in the sub-
ject they haughtily condemn.

** Schisms and heresies are begot by science.' He lies
most who knows most; who pores over books becomes an
atheist.'* Thus Crito grumbles, his rosary in his hands,
and sighs, and with bitter tears the saintly soul bids us see
how dangerous is the seed of learning that is cast among us :
our children, who heretofore gently and meekly walked in
the path of their forefathers, eagerly attending divine service
and listening in fear to what they did not understand, now,
to the horror of the Church, have begun to read the Bible;
they discuss all, want to know the cause of all, and put little
faith in the clerical profession; they have lost their good
habits, have forgotten how to drink kvas, and will not be
driven with a stick to partake of salt meat. They place no
candles before the images, observe no feasts. They regard
the worldly power misplaced in clerical hands, and whisper
that worldly possessions ill become those who have re-
nounced a worldly life.

Sylvan finds another fault with science: ** Education,"
he says, ** brings famine in its track. We managed to get
along before this without knowing Latin much better than
we live now. We used to harvest more grain in our ignor-
ance, but now that we have learned a foreign language, we
lose our corn. What of it if my argument be weak and

^ Peter II., bom 1715 ; ascended the throne in 1729, the year the
satire was written^.

* Immediately npon arriving in Moscow, Peter II. confirmed the

privileges of the Academy of Sciences.

'Compare Peofdn Prokop6vich'8 Spiritual RegUment, p. 212.
VOL. 1.— 15.

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226 The Eighteenth Century

without sense and connection, — what matters that to a noble-
man ? Proof, order of words, is the aflfair of low-bom men;
for aristocrats it suffices boldly to assent, or contradict.
Insane is he who examines the force and limitations of his
soul; who toils whole days in his sweat, in order to learn
the structure of the world and the change or cause of things:
't is like making pease to stick to the wall. Will all that
add one day to my life, or one penny to my coffers ? Can I
by means of it find out how much my clerk and superintend-
ent steal a year or how to add water to my pond, or to in-
crease the number of barrels in my still ?

'' Nor is he wise who, full of unrest, dims his eyes over a
smoking fire, in order to learn the properties of ores. We
have passed our ABC, and we can tell without all that the
difference between gold, silver and copper. The science of
herbs and diseases is idle talk. You have a headache, and
the physician looks for signs of it in your hand ! The blood
is the cause of all, if we are to put faith in them. When we
feel weak, it is because our blood flows too slowly; if it
moves fast, there is a fever, he says boldly, though no one
has ever seen the inside of a living body. And while he
passes his time in such fables, the contents of our money-bags
go into his. Of what use is it to calculate the course of the
stars, and without rhyme or reason pass sleepless nights,
gazing at one spot : for mere curiosity's sake to lose your
rest, trying to ascertain whether the sun moves, or we with
the earth ? We can read in the almanac, for every day in
the year, the date of the month and the hour of sunrise.
We can manage to divide the land in quarters without
Euclid, and we know without algebra how many kopeks
there are in a rouble." Sylvan praises but one science to
the skies, — the one that teaches how to increase his income
and to save expenses. To labour in that from which your
pocket does not swell at once, he deems a very dangerous
occupation for a citizen.

Red-faced Lucas, belching thrice, speaks in a chanting
voice: *' Study kills the companionship of men. We have
been created by God as social beings, and we have been

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Prince Anti6kh Kantemir 227

given intelligence not for our own sakes alone. What good
does it do anybody, if I shnt myself up in my cabinet, and
for my dead friends lose the living— when all my comrade-
ship, all my good fellows, will be ink, pen, sand and paper ?
In merriment, in banquets we must pass our lives. Life is
short, why should we curtail it further, worry over books,
and harm our eyes ? Is it not better to pass your days and
nights over the winecup ? Wine is a divine gift, there is
much good in it: it befriends people, gives cause for con-
versation, makes glad, dispels heavy thoughts, eases misery,
gives courage to the weak, mollifies the cruel, checks sullen-
ness, and leads the lover more readily to his goal. When
they will begin to make furrows in the sky, and the stars
will shine through the surface of the earth; when swift
rivers will run to their sources, and past ages will return;
when at Lent the monk will eat nothing but dried sturgeon^
then will I abandon my cup and take to books."

Medor is worried beoiuse too much paper is used for letters
and for printed books, and because he will soon be left with-
out paper to curl his locks with. He would not change for
Seneca a pound of good face-powder; in comparison with
Eg6r,* Vergil is not worth two farthings to him, and he
showers his praises on Rex,* not Cicero.

This is a part of the speeches that daily ring in my ears,
and for this, O Mind, I advise you to be dumber than a
dumpling. Where there is no profit, praise encourages to
work, and without it the heart grows faint. But it is much
worse, when instead of praises you earn insults ! It is harder
than for a tippler not to get his wine, or for a priest not to
celebrate on Holy Week, or for a merchant to forego heady '

I know, O Mind, that you will boldly answer me that it is
not easy for an evil-minded man to praise virtue; that the
dandy, miser, hypocrite, and the like, must perforce scorn
science, and that their malevolent discourse concerns no men
of culture.

^ A famous shoemaker in Moscow ; died in 1729.
■ A German tailor of Moscow.

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228 The Eighteenth Century

Your judgment is excellent, correct; and thus it ought to
be, but in our days the words of the ill-disposed control the
wise. Besides, the sciences have other ill-wishers than those
whom, for shortness* sake, I merely mentioned or, to tell
the truth, dared to mention. There are many more. The
holy keepers of the keys of heaven and those to whom The-
mis has entrusted the golden scales little love, nearly all of
them, the true adornment of the mind.

You want to be an archbishop i Don a surplice, above it
let a gorgeous chasuble adorn your body, put a golden
chain * around your neck, cover your head with a high hat,
your belly with a beard, order the crosier to be carried in
pomp before you; place yourself comfortably in your car-
riage and, as your heart bursts with anger, cast your bene-
dictions to the right and left. By these signs you will easily
be recognised as the archpriest, and they will reverently call
you '* Father." But science? What has the Church to
gain from it ? Some priest might forget a part, if he wrote
out his sermon, and thus there would be a loss of the Church's
revenues, and these are the Church's main privileges and
greatest glory.

Do you wish to become a judge ? Don a wig full of locks,
scold him who comes with a complaint but with empty hands,
let your heart firmly ignore the tears of the poor, and sleep
in your arm-chair when the clerk reads the brief. When
someone mentions to you the civil code, or the law of nature,
or the people's rights, spit in his face; say that he lies at
random and tries to impose an intolerable burden on the
judges; that it is the clerk's business to rummage through
mountains of documents, but that it suffices for a judge to
announce his sentence.

The time has not come down to us when Wisdom presided
over everything and distributed wreaths, and was the only
means for advancement. The golden age has not come
down to our generation. Pride, indolence, wealth, have

* With the image of the Holy Virgin or the Saviour,~the so-called

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Prince Anti6kh Kantemir 229

vanquished wisdom; ignorance has taken the place of wis-
dom: it glorifies itself under the mitre, walks in embroidered
gowns, sits in judgment behind the red cloth, boldly leads
armies. Science trudges along in rags and patches, and is
driven from nearly all houses with contumely; they do not
want to know her and evade her friendship, just as those
who have sujBFered upon the sea avoid service on a ship. All
cry: ** We see no good in science; the heads of learned men
are full, but their hands are empty.**

If one knows how to shuffle cards, to tell the flavours of
various wines, can dance, plays three pieces on the flute,
cleverly matches the colours in his apparel, for him, even in
his tender years, all high honours are but a small reward,
and he regards himsdf to be the equal of the Seven

** There is no justice in the world! " cries the brainless
subdeacon. ** They have not yet made me a bishop, though
I read fluently the Book of the Hours,' the Psalter and the
Epistles, and even Chrysostom without stumbling, al-
though I do not understand him."

The warrior grumbles because he has not yet charge of his
regiment, though he knows how to sign his name. The
scribe is angry because he is not yet seated behind the red
doth, though he is able to make a copy in a clear hand.
He thinks it an insult to grow old in obscurity, though he
counts seven boydrs in his family and is possessed of two
thousand village houses, even though he can neither read
nor write.

Hearing such words, and seeing such examples, be silent.
Mind, complain not of your obscurity. His life has no ter-
rors, though he may deem it hard, who silently retires to his
quiet nook. If gracious Wisdom has taught you anything,
rejoice in secret, meditating by yourself over the advantages
of learning. Explain it not to others, lest, instead of
praises which you expect, you be roundly scolded.

* Prayer-book containing the prayers for every hour ; it was com-
monly used as a text-book for reading.

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230 The Eighteenth Century

Vaslli Kirlllovich Tredyak6vski. (1703-1769.)

Like Lomon6sov, Tredyak6v8ki was of humble origin » his father
having been a priest in the city of Astrakhan ; also, like his more
illustrious colleague a few years later, he walked to Moscow and there
entered the School of the Redeemer. He later passed a few years
abroad, where he became acquainted with French literature. Upon
his return to St. Petersburg in 1730, he translated a French book ; in
this translation the spoken Russian is for the first time used, free from
Slavic influence. Even before this, Tredyak6vski had written verses
in the syllabic versification, but in 1735 he discovered that the tonic
versification was the only one adapted to the Russian language, and
at once set out to write in that measure. His chief deserts do not lie
in poetry, for his verses show an absolute absence of talent, and he
later became a byword for insipidity. He was the first man to point
out the necessity of using the Russian language for literary purposes,
and to indicate the line in which Russian poetry must develop. By
his enormous industry in translating from foreign languages he be-
came an important factor in the dissemination of learning. The fol-
lowing ode is really an imitation of Boileau's Sur la prise de Namur.


What strange intoxication emboldens my voice to singing ?
Muses, dwellers of Parnassus, does not my mind perceive
you ? I hear your sweet-sounding strings, your beautiful
measure and moods, and a fire arises in my thoughts. O
nations, listen all! Stormy winds, do not blow: my verse
sings of Anna.

Pindar, and after him Flaccus, have in high-flowing diction
risen from the mist to the bright stars, like swift eagles.
But if my song to-day were to equal my sincere and eternal
zeal for Anna, Orpheus of Thrace and Amphion of Thebes
would be in ecstasy from it.

Now I strike the dulcet lyre to celebrate the magnificent
victory to the greater downfall of the enemy. Oh, what
victorious might has adorned our joy, for the might of the
adversary was equal to ours. There is no limit to our pure
joy that surpasses all example, that has given balm to our

Has Nepttme himself built the walls, those that stand by
the sea ? Do they not resemble the Trojan walls, for they

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Va^li Kirlllovich Tredyak6vski 231

would not let in the innumerable Russian army, mightily-
opposing it ? Do not all call the Vistula Skamander ? Do
they not all regard Stoltzenberg as Mount Ida ?

That is not Troy, the mother of fables: there is not one
Achilles here; everyone of the rank and file is in bravery
a Hercules. What might is that that hurls lightning ? Is
it not Minerva gleaming in her helmet ? 'T is evident from
her looks, from her whole appearance, that she is a goddess:
without her aegis she is terrible, — 't is Anna, chief of all em-

That also is a Russian army that has closely invested
Dantzig, the city of the foe. Bach warrior, hastening to the
battle, it behooves to call a Mars. Each is ready boldly to
shed his blood, or to crown the undertaking for Anna's sake.
Bach one is strong with Anna's fortune: Anna is their
strong hope; and, knowing that Anna is gracious to them,
they are faithful and not undecided.

Golden beam of the Buropean and Asian Sun ! O Russian
monarch, the key to your happiness is the kindness to your
subjects and your benign rule! The whole world honours
your name, and the universe will not hold your glory seeing
that, O beautiful flower of virtues!

What do I see ? Does not my eye deceive me ? A youth
has opposed himself to Hercules, lifting high his brows
behind ramparts, beyond the river! 'T is Dantzig, having
taken foolish counsel, as if drunk with heady wine, that
dares to oppose the great autocrat! In its blindness it does
not see the abysses, nor all death-bearing valleys.

It receives Stanislaus in its midst, who seeks twice a crown,
and hopes to be defended to the end through nearby Nep-
tune: fearing the Russian thunder it invokes the aid of a
distant people from the banks of the Seine: but they beat
the drums at the waters of Wechselmiinde for a retreat.

Dantzig is proud of its fire and steel, and its regiments of
soldiers, and directs its engines of war against the Russians
on the hills. Being rich in stores it calls to Stanislaus; it in
vain implores its soldiers that have no brave hearts, but
think only of this, how to save their lives, and run.

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232 The Eighteenth Century'

O Dantzig, oh! What are you daring! Come to your
senses, collect yourself, for you are hurling yourself to de-
struction. Why have you stopped? You are hesitating!
Surrender! Wherefore have you such boldness and do not
tremble before Anna ? Many tribes of their own free will
and without strife submit to her: China bows down before
her twice, in order not to pay her tribute.

Nowhere has there been the like of Anna in kindness, nor
is there anywhere in the world one so able to wage war with
the unyielding. Her sword wound with the olive branch is
only ominous in war. Abandon, Dantzig, your evil pur-
pose: you see, the Alddae are ready with cruel miseries for
your inhabitants. You hear Anna's angry voice : save your-

You are closely pressed by thousands of athletes; you are
mightily struck by the flash of angry lightnings. You can-
not withstand: the thunder is ready not in jest. Your ram-
parts are without defence; the earth opens up abysses; roofs
fly into the air; your walls are emptied of men.

If all the powers combined were to aid you, O Dantzig; if
the elements defended you; if from all the ends of the world
soldiers came to spill their blood for you, — yet nothing would
be able to save you from suffiering and to stop your misery,
and wring you out of Anna's hands.

Your adversaries see to-day the bravery of Russian soldiers:
neither fire nor water harms them, and they advance with
open breasts. How readily they advance! How forgetful
they are of their lives! The cannon's thunder frightens
them not ! They make the assault, as if going to a wedding
feast! Only through smoky darkness one may see that
their brows are facing the forts.

Within the walls of the wretched city all are struck down
with fear: everything falls and flies to dust, — the besiegers
are on the walls! The last magistrates, seeing from their
tower their vain hope in the distant armies and Stanislaus
who had taken refuge within their walls, besides themselves,
exclaim: *' We are fated to fall ! "

What I have prophesied is about to happen, — Dantzig

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Princess Natalya Borlsovna Dolgor6ki 233

begins to tremble: all think of surrendering, as before they
all decided to fight, and of saving themselves from the en-
gines of war, from flying bombs and from all the pests the
city is oppressed by. All cry, for the burden was too heavy
to carry, ** It is time now to open the gates to Anna's

So it is done: the sign for surrender is given, and Dantzig
is at our feet! Our soldiers are happy in their success; the
fires have gone out ; there is an end to misery. Immediately
Glory took its flight and announced with its thundering
trumpet : ** Anna is fortunate ! Anna is unconquerable;
Anna, exalted by all, is their common glory and honour.''

I^yre! abate your song: it is not possible for me properly
to praise diadem-bearing Anna and her great goodness, any
more than I can fly. It is Anna's good fortune that she is
loved by God. He always watches over her, and through
Him she is victorious. Who would dare to oppose her?
May Anna live many years!

Princess Nat&lya Borfsovna DolgorakL (17x4-1771.)

The Princess Dolgordki was the daughter of Count Sherem^tev,
who was intimately connected with the reforms of Peter the Great.
In 1729 she was betrothed to Prince Ivdn Aleksy6evich Dolgoriiki,
the favourite of Peter 11. ; Feofdn Prokop6vich performed the cere-
mony of the betrothal, and the whole Imperial family and the most
distinguished people of the capital were present. A few days later
Peter II. died, and Anna lodnnovna ascended the throne. Dolgor6ki
was banished to Siberia, and she married him in order to follow him
into exile. They passed eight years in the Government of Tob61sk,
when her husband was taken to N6vgorod and executed. For three
years she remained in ignorance of his fate, when the Empress Eliza-
beth permitted her to return to St. Petersburg. In 1758 Princess
Dolgorliki entered a monastery at Kiev, and ten years later she wrote

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