V. O. (Vasilii Osipovich) Kliuchevskii.

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ties. Of a wise man of this sort have we need." Along the Moskva
the hostile rumour ran that a magician was coming who could foretell
the future by the stars ; but Olearius declined the invitation. Also, since,
in the West, men and States usually grew rich through an extensive oversea
trade which was carried on in fleets of trading vessels, the middle of the
seventeenth century saw the Muscovite Government begin to concern itself
on the subject of ships, harbours, and maritime commerce generally ; and
schemes were mooted for hiring shipwrights in Holland, and sailors to man
the ships when built. In particular, the above Vinnius proposed to build
a fleet of barges for the Caspian Sea; wherefore in 1669 there was put
together on the Oka, at the village of Diedinovo in the canton of Kolomna,
a vessel built by imported Dutch shipwrights, and named the Orel. Cost-
ing about 9,000 roubles (125,000 roubles in modern currency), she was
launched at Astrakhan, but in 1670 was burnt to her keel by the Cossack
rebel, Stenka Razin. Likewise, though the Muscovite Empire had harbours
at Archangel (on the White Sea) and at Murman (on the Gulf of Kola),
these ports were too far from Moscow and the markets of Western Europe,
while, in addition, Moscow was cut off from the Baltic by the Swedes.
Accordingly there dawned in Moscow the idea of hiring foreign harbours
for the future Muscovite fleet, and in 1662 a Muscovite emissary who was
on his way to England had a long conversation with the Chancellor of
Courland as to whether it would be possible to maintain Muscovite ships
in the Courlander ports. But to this the Chancellor merely replied that
it would be more fitting for the Great Tsar of Moscow to maintain his
ships in his own port of Archangel.

Amid this mining and manufacturing excitement there next began to
glimmer in the mind of the Muscovite Government an idea which came
to it with peculiar difficulty. This was because the Government not only
organised its financial system exclusively on a narrow fiscal basis, but


also sought its fiscal profit at the expense of thought for the industry
of the people. When any new expenditure had to be incurred which was
not covered by the income available it resorted to its usual financial
arithmetic, and, reckoning up the number of its registered taxpayers,
divided the required sum among them according to that number, and
ordered the said sum to be collected, on pain of various penalties for its
non-provision, in the form either of a. zaJ>ros {iorced subscription list) or of a
permanent impost, while at the same time leaving it to the taxpayers to
apportion the amount among themselves as they pleased, and to get the
money from whatsoever quarter they could. Upon this irresponsible
financial policy arrears and troublesome complaints of inability to pay
served as the only checks, and, while constantly increasing its exactions,
the Government did nothing to increase the taxpaying capacity of the
people's labour. Nevertheless^ observation of the commercial-industrial
skill and technical dexterity of the foreigner, added to certain insistent
representations from the native traders, gradually drew the financiers of
the Government into a circle of popular-industrial ideas and relations
which had hitherto been unknown to them. Against their will their
administrative outlook became widened, and notions became imposed
upon them which it was difficult for their minds to assimilate — such
notions as that any raising of the taxes should be preceded by an increase
of the productiveness of popular labour; that, for this purpose, labour
ought to be directed to new income-producing enterprises — to the dis-
covery and exploitation of the hitherto dormant riches of the country ;
and that, to this end, skilled workers, knowledge, practice, and business
organisation ought to be procured. These notions constituted the first
impressions to be produced upon the Muscovite Government by Western
influence. In the community also they awoke an echo. In other words
the administrative ferment evoked by these notions ; the search for
mines, forests of shipbuilding timber, sites for saltboiling, and spots for
the erection of sawyards ; questionings of local inhabitants as to the
profitable natural assets which happened to lie within their knowledge, —
all these things aroused the population to visions both of new fields for
their labour and of Government pay for information to that end. Persons
who could point out (for instance) a good mineral seam received a
promised reward of 500, 1000, or even more, roubles (the sums being
calculated in modern currency). Thus word was brought to Moscow of
a great hill of alabaster on the Northern Dvina — and instantly an expedi-
tion, headed by a German, was dispatched to survey and to describe the



hill, to ascertain from commercial experts the amounts y>^x pood for which
alabaster could be sold abroad, and to hire workmen for the quarrying of
the stone. Everywhere rumours became current concerning the sums
likely to be paid for useful novelties which anyone might discover or
invent ; for when in a community there develops a tendency which
corresponds to some necessity of subsistence, that tendency seizes upon
men like a fashion or an epidemic, — it inspires the wildest of schemes,
and evokes unhealthy exaggeration and a risky spirit of enterprise. From
the time when, during the Period of Troubles, the nation underwent losses
and humiliations at the hands of the foreigner the question of the re-
organisation of the country's external defence, and of what new discoveries
and inventions could be designed to strengthen that defence, became
living issues. In 1629 a Tveran priest named Nestor forwarded to the
Tsar a petition " concerning a great work which never yet hath God
revealed unto living man, either among ourselves or in other States, but
which He hath revealed unto me, the priest Nestor, to the glory of the
Tsar, and to the saving of our distressed land, and to the confusion and
amazement of its enemies." What the priest Nestor undertook to do was
to build for the Tsar a cheap, portable citadel in which soldiers should be
able to take refuge, as though it were a real, an immoveable fortress. In
vain the boyars requested the inventor to construct a model or a sketch-
plan of the moveable redoubt which he had devised, for the purpose of
showing it to the Tsar, but the priest refused to say more than that, not
having "beheld the eyes of the Tsar," he would mention not a detail,
since he did not trust the boyars. In the end he was dispatched to Kazan,
where for three years he was confined in a monastery in chains, for the
offence of having said that he could " accomplish a great work " while
refusing to explain any details of that work — in short, for acting to men's
confusion, and not as though he were in his right mind.

Thus both the Muscovite Government and the Muscovite community
came to feel an insistent need for the military and industrial technique of
Western Europe, and ended by deciding to study both the one and the
other. It may be that at first the needs of the State called for nothing
more than that technique ; but a social movement, when once initiated by
a given impetus, is prone, eti route, to gather to itself other new motives,
which mould its limits of aim.

As said, a vigorous search for skilled labour had the effect of attracting
to Moscow a multitude of foreign technical experts, officers, soldiers,
physicians, artisans, merchants and manufacturers. As early as the


sixteenth century — to be precise, during the reign of Ivan the Terrible —
there became formed the German Quarter, which consisted of a colony
of Western-European immigrants settled on the River Yauza, near Moscow ;
and after the accession of Michael, when the influx of foreigners
to the capital had increased still more, newcomers settled wherever
they could, and, purchasing establishments from the natives, set up
breweries and kirks within the walls of the metropolis itself. In time,
however, the close juxtaposition of these immigrants with the natives, the
feuds and collisions to which such juxtaposition gave rise, and the com-
plaints of the Muscovite clergy concerning the propinquity of German
kirks to Russian churches so far alarmed the Muscovite authorities that,
during the reign of Tsar Michael, an ukaz was issued which forbade
Germans to purchase establishments of Muscovites, or to build their kirks
within the actual walls of Moscow ; and of one of the many incidents
which forced the Government to isolate Muscovites and foreigners we
have an account from Olearius, as follows : — The wives of some German
officers whom the latter had taken from certain alien mercantile families
in Moscow saw fit to look down upon the wives of plain merchants, and
tried to sit in front of them when attending kirk ; but this privilege the
wives of the plain merchants would not concede to their rivals, and on one
occasion they picked a quarrel with the officers' ladies which developed
into an actual riot. The noise of the fracas penetrated even to the
street, and attracted the attention of the Patriarch (who, by bad luck,
happened at the moment to be passing) ; with the result that, as soon as
he learnt where the trouble lay, he, as the guardian of ecclesiastical law
and order even among the adherents of other faiths than his own, ordered
the kirk to be pulled down : and the order was carried out that very day.
This incident may be referred to the year 1643, when orders were given that
all kirks which had been built within the limits of the city should be
destroyed, and a site was granted for a new general kirk beyond the Zem-
liani Rampart, while the numerous Germans scattered about the city were to
be evicted from the capital, and settled in a spot on the river Yauza, where,
according to ranks and callings, they were to have plots of land where
some German homesteads had formerly stood. Thus there arose a new
German or Foreign Quarter which quickly developed into a large and
well-built suburb, with broad, straight streets and alleys, and handsome
wooden mansions. Indeed, according to Olearius, the first few years of
its existence saw it comprising upwards of 1000 persons, while another
foreign writer, Meierberg, who resided in Moscow in 1660, speaks in


vague terms of " a multitude " of foreigners then resident in the Quarter,
which contained three Lutheran kirks, one Reformed kirk, and a German
school. There a multi-racial, polyglot population of various callings eked
out a comfortable, cheerful life, and enjoyed full Uberty of native customs
and manners. In fact, the Quarter represented a little corner of Western
Europe which had come to nestle on the eastern outskirts of Moscow.

In addition, this German settlement came to be the exponent of
Western-European culture in departments of Muscovite life where for
such culture there was no demand by the State's material needs. The
technical experts, capitalists, and military officers whom the Government
engaged for external defence or the industrial requirements of Muscovite
domestic existence brought with them to Moscow not only their military
and industrial skill, but also the comforts, the amenities, and the con-
veniencies of life as lived in Western Europe, and it is curious to note
the eagerness with which the leaders of Muscovite society leapt at foreign
luxury and imported dehghts, though, in so doing, they broke with their
own rooted customs, prejudices, and tastes. There can be no doubt
that external political relations helped to strengthen this leaning towards
alien attractions and amenities — that the frequent diplomatic missions
which visited Moscow from abroad at length aroused in the Muscovite
Empire a wish to figure in the best possible light before the foreign
observer, and to show him that in Russia men knew how to live like
gentlemen. Also, we know that at one time Alexis considered him-
self a candidate for the Polish throne, and that, in that capacity, he
strove to organise a Muscovite Court life which should resemble the
Court life of the Realm of Poland. Likewise Russian ambassadors who
were leaving for foreign countries were always charged by their Govern-
ment to pay special attention to the setting and gaieties of foreign
Courts ; nor will it escape notice that Court balls — more particularly,
Court spectacles — figure with great prominence in the diplomatic reports
of these ambassadors. In 1659 z. dvorianin named Lichatchev was sent
on a mission to the Duke of Tuscany at Florence, where he received an
invitation to a Court ball and spectacle; and, in his account of the same,
he describes the " sport " or " comedy " with a perfect wealth of minute
detail — a sign that such matters aroused the greatest interest in Moscow,
and that Muscovites were unwilling to lose a single scene, a single de-
corative feature, of such pageants. " Then were there set forth pavilions,
and beneath the same a pavilion which did stand forth from the rest ; ^
Probably some kind of stage or proscenium.


and of this pavilion were there changes made to the number of six. In
them there was shown a sea tossing with billows, and in the sea fishes,
and, on the fishes, men riding, and, above the pavilion, the heavens,
where other men did ride upon the clouds. And from the heavens there
did launch himself an old man from a cloud, in a chariot, and over against
him, in another chariot, was a beautiful maiden, and the horses of the
chariots were as though they were alive, so did they beat with their
hooves. And the Duke did say unto me that the one of these was
the Sun, and the other one the Moon. And in another change there was
shown a man, with fifty of his fellows — all in armour, and they did begin
to fight with spears and swords, and to shoot at one another from arque-
buses, and, as it were, to kill the man and three of those who were with
him. And, after that, many wondrous youths and maidens in golden
attire did come forth from behind a curtain, and they did dance and do
many marvellous things." Nevertheless, in describing the life of the
upper classes of Moscow, Kotoshikhin remarks that the people of the
Muscovite Empire " do live in houses which are very unseemly," and
that they " do live in houses which have no great orderliness " {i.e. no
great amount of comfort or refinement) ; while in sketches made by the
above-mentioned Meierberg we see the Metropolitan riding in a clumsy
old sledge, and the Tsaritsa doing the same thing in a roughly-covered
cart ! But now, in imitation of foreign example, the Tsar and the boyars
began to take the air in stately German coaches — in vehicles which were
upholstered in velvet, adorned with paintings, and fitted with windows
of crystal. Also, the boyars and richer merchants took to building
themselves mansions of stone in place of their old wretched dwellings of
wood, to ordering their domestic tnenages on the foreign scale, to lining
the walls of their rooms with " golden leathers " of Belgian make, and to
adorning those rooms with pictures and clocks. Indeed, Tsar Michael —
who, owing to his lameness, had to stay much at home, and therefore was
perennially at a loss for amusement — was so exceedingly fond of clocks
that he simply heaped his chambers with them. Also, he used to have
music performed while he was at dinner, while in the palace of Tsar
Alexis, during the hour of the evening meal, " Germans did play upon
organs, and blow upon trumpets, and beat upon drums." Thus foreign
taste was called upon to correct native coarseness. Also, upon the
boyar B. I. Morozov — at one time Alexis' favourite and tutor, and, sub-
sequently, his brother-in-law — the Tsar conferred a wedding coach which
was upholstered in gold brocade, lined with costly sable, and hooped with


pure silver in place of iron. Even for its massive tyres the more valuable
metal was used ! Nevertheless, in 1648, when pillaging Morozov's
mansion, the rioters smashed this piece of extravagance to atoms. In
passing, it may be noted that, during the evening meal and its accom-
panying German music, the same Tsar would toast his guests (his con-
fessor included) far into the night, until all were in a state of intoxication.
Frequently, also, Muscovite ambassadors were ordered to procure for the
Tsar's service foreign trumpeters who should be warranted to play dance
music in the best possible manner. Again, the Court and the higher
circles of Muscovite society developed a passion for " comedy acts " —
i.e. theatrical spectacles. Yet it was not without certain religious qualms
that this form of entertainment (this " sport of the devil," this " spiritual
foulness " — so certain strict guardians of true piety expressed themselves
about it) was honoured in Moscow. Indeed, Tsar Alexis owned as much
to his father confessor — who, however, decided to allow the Tsar his
theatrical spectacles, and justified the decision by the example of diverse
Byzantine Emperors. These " comedies " were played at Court by a
troupe of actors specially chosen from among sons of foreigners who
were engaged in commerce or the State service, and their training was
performed by the pastor of the Lutheran church which stood in the
German Quarter — one Master Johannes Gottfried Gregory, upon whom,
in 1672, the Tsar conferred the appointment as a thank-offering for the
birth of the Tsarevitch Peter. For the same purpose there was built in
the suburban selo of Presbrazhenskoe (destined, later, to be the favourite
scene of Peter's diversions) a theatre or "hall of comedy." Here, at the
close of the year 1672, the Tsar witnessed a comedy produced by the
Pastor, and turning on the subject of Esther ; which so pleased the Tsar
that " for the ordering of the comedy he did recompense " the stage
manager with 1,500 roubles- worth (in modern currency) of sables. Also,
in addition to " Esther," Gregory produced, at the same theatre, a piece
called "Judith," a "comforting" {i.e. a diverting) comedy on the subject
of Joseph, and a "pitiful" comedy on the subject of Adam and Eve —
i.e. of the fall and subsequent redemption of man. Yet, despite their
Biblical subjects, these pieces were not mediaeval mystery plays of a moral
and edificatory nature, but translations from the German which might be
trusted to strike the beholder with their strange pictures of executions,
fighting, and much firing-off of guns. Also (with the exception of the
tragedy on Adam and Eve) they had in them a certain alloy of the comic
— or, more correctly speaking, of the showbooth — element, in the person


of a jester, who was an indispensable personage in such plays, and cracked
rude, and often unseemly, jokes. Also, no time was lost in organising
the training of native actors. By the year 1673 Gregory had under him,
for instruction in the dramatic art, twenty-six young men who had been
selected from the " New Quarter of Burgesses " in Moscow. In other
words, though Moscow had not yet compassed elementary schools for
the teaching of letters, she had succeeded in organising an academy of
drama ! But before long there succeeded to the comedy on Biblical
subjects the ballet. In 1674, at the season when the Tsar and the
Tsarina, with their children and the attendant boyars, were celebrating
the conclusion of Lent, they witnessed, at Preobrazhenskoe, a comedy
wherein Artaxerxes had no sooner ordered Haiman to be hanged than
some German youths and household menials in the service of Matviev,
the Minister for Foreign Affairs — persons who likewise had studied the
theatrical art under Gregory — played "viols, organs, and other instru-
ments, and did dance." I repeat, therefore, that these novelties and
recreations, though luxuries only of the higher circles of Muscovite society,
nourished in the latter new nnd more refined tastes and demands which
had been altogether unknown to the Russian of earlier generations. But
was Muscovite society likely to stop at the amusements and amenities
which it had thus eagerly borrowed ?

In the West the amenities and elegancies of life of that day owed their
existence not merely to the fortunate economic position of the wealthy
and more pushing classes of the community, nor yet to the whims of
pampered taste ; for in the creation of those amenities a part was played
by prolonged spiritual efforts on the part both of individuals and of
entire communities — the external graces of life developed hand in hand
with the progress of thought and of sensibility. Man always seeks to
fashion for himself an environment which shall correspond to his tastes
and his views of life ; yet, duly to accomplish that correspondence, he must
think deeply concerning his tastes, as well as concerning life itself. When
borrowing the environment of aliens, he usually adopts, insensibly and in-
voluntarily, the tastes and ideas by which that environment was created ;
otherwise it would seem to him to be lacking both in the one and in the
other. But our forefathers of the seventeenth century thought differently.
Originally, when borrowing the amenities of Western Europe, they con-
ceived that they were not bound also to adopt Western European learning
and conceptions, or to renounce their own ; wherein they perpetuated
the ingenuous error into which suspicious and reluctant imitators have


ever been prone to fall. Consequently, when, in Moscow of the seven-
teenth century, men took to seeking after the amenities of the alien, they
began also, in vague and gradual fashion, to be alive to the spiritual
interests and efforts which had created those amenities, and to admire those
interests and efforts before they had come properly to realise the relation
of the latter to their own native tastes and ideas. That is to say, the
Russian of the seventeenth century began by admiring foreign amenities
merely as abstractions of life or pleasant exercises in realms of thought
into which he had never yet ventured. Thus, while the upper circles of
Muscovite society were borrowing of the foreigner his " diverting crafts "
and " specious devices," those same circles also developed an intellectual
love of knowledge, an interest in scientific erudition, a willingness to think
upon subjects which had not yet come within the ordinary purview of the
ancient Russian, or within the daily round of his requirements. For
instance, at Court in particular there arose an association of influential
amateurs of Western European comfort and culture. Alexis' uncle, the
kind-hearted and jovial Nikita Romanov — the richest man in the Empire,
after the Tsar, and the most popular of all the boyars — became not only
a protector and lover of the Germans, but also a devotee of their music
and dress (as well as, to a certain extent, a freethinker). Next, the Tsar's
tutor and brother-in-law, Morozov, complained bitterly, during his declining
years, that in his youth he had never been given a finishing education.
Also, he dressed his foster-son, as well as the playfellows of the latter, in
German costume. Again, an okolnichi {z. State councillor of the secondary
rank) named Theodor Michael Rtistchev became a jealous amateur of
learning and scholastic education ; as the head of the Office of Ambas-
sadors we see an erudite diplomat named A. L. Ordin-Nastchokin ; and
his successor, a boyar named A. S. Matviev — the son of a diak, and
another of the Tsar's favourites — was the first Muscovite to start, in his
sumptuously Europeanised mansion, a species of debating society which
had for its aim the exchanging of ideas and news not only in the presence
of the lady of the house, but also without the accompaniment of liquor.
Likewise it was Matviev who organised the Court theatre. In this way
the relation of the Russian community to Western Europe underwent an
insensible change. Formerly the average Russian had looked upon
Western Europe as a workshop for military and other wares which
a man might purchase without making any inquiry as to the manner
in which they had been fashioned; but now the Russian of the day
began to regard that Europe as a school wherein a man might learn, not


only the handicrafts, but also the way in which a man ought to live and
to think.

Yet even in this respect no alteration took place in the usual guarded-
ness of ancient Rus. She decided not to borrow Western education

Online LibraryV. O. (Vasilii Osipovich) KliuchevskiiA history of Russia (Volume 3) → online text (page 32 of 43)