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The Russian empire and czarism



Victor Berard, G. Fox Davies, G. O. Pope



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THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE AND CZARISM.



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liOTuLorv: DcwidL NxjUtt, 57 to 60 Long Acre, W,C.



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THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE
AND CZARISM



BY



VICTOR BfiRARD

II

Author: La Revolte de rAsie, etc,, ttc.



TRANSLATED BY

G. FOXDAVIES and G. O. POPE



WITH INTRODUCTION
BY

FREDERICK GREElSfWOOD




LONDON:
DAVID NUTT, 57-59, Long Acre
1905-



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I- -■



' - • V



PRINTED IN HOLLAND.



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CONTENTS OF CHAPTERS.



Pagb.

I. The Land and its History i

The IBfMSNSITY AND SAMENESS OF RUSSIA.— ThE

Forest and the Steppe.— Rivers and portages.—
The meeting-place of raiders, pirates and con-
querors.— The Finns and the Turco-Mongols.—
The Indo-European races and languages.—
Lithuania.— Slavonia: Russians and Poles.—
The Varangians: their advance towards By-
zantium—the Mongolian subjection; the Mos-
coviTE retaliation.— The Russian Empire : annex-
ed peoples and Russian communities.

II. Religions and Nationalities 32

Orthodoxy: Russians and Russified.— Little
Russians and Great Russians. — The two
"Marches" of the East and West.— The front-
ier FORMED BY THE VOLGA AND THE CASPIAN.—

The Czar and Buddhism.— The Czar and

MOHAMEDANISM. — ThE TuRCO-MoNGOLS. — ThB

einiopean frontier and western civiusation:
Finnish integrity; German science; Polish
enthusiasm; the Jewish intermediary; the
Armenian trader.



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VI CONTENTS OF CHAPTERS.

Pack.

III. RUSSIANISATION 73

The theories of Alexander I.— The consti-
tunonal kingdom of poland.— whites and
Reds.— The revolts of 1831 and 1863.— Moura-
viEP the EUngman and Paskievitch the Russi-
FiER.— Linguistic and religious persecutions.—
Poland and the Pope.— Poland and Prussia.—
Poland and Austru.— Poland and Russia.—
Common interests: agriculture and indus-
try.— Parties IN Poland.— Strike of the work-
men AND STRIKE IN THE SCHOOLS.— ThE RuSSO-

Polish reconciliation.

IV. RUSSIANISATION (continued) 114

Slavist or Slavophile theories.— The Pan-
Slavists.— M. Pobiedonostsef and "Holy" Rus-
sia.— The Jewish Pale.— The Israelitish prole-
tariat.— Crowding AND Famine.— Extortions
AND pogromes.— The ritual biurder.- Limita- '

TIONS TO entering THE UNIVERSITIES.— ThE BoND.—

Finland: Svecomanes and Finnomanes.— The con-
stitutional REGIME.— Russifying enterprises.—
Passive resistance and assassinations.- Bobri-
KOF AND Johnson.— Finnish prosperity and
CzARDOM.— Active resistance.— The Armenians:
The property of the Armenian Church.—
Mussulmans and Christians in the Caucasus.—
The massacres of Baku.

V. CZARDOM 214

The Russians and Anarchy.— The Napoleonic
career of Czardom.— The Novgorod disci-
PUNE.— The Kief hierarchy.— The whip and the



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CONTENTS OF CHAPTERS. VU

MONXY-BAG OF MOSCOW.— ThE GATHERERS TO-
GETHER OF Russian territory.— "Polonism" in
THE XVIIth century.— Sobor and Douma.— The

BUREAUCRACY OF PeTER THE GrEAT.— ThE RISE
OF CZARDOM TO THE TUdE OF ALEXANDER I:
NATIONAL WARS AND ORTHODOX RETALIATION.—

The CONCESSIONS of Czardom: Alexander I
AND Alexander II.— The wrath of Czar-
dom: Nicholas I, Alexander III and Nicho-
las n.— The Nation: The nobility, the in-
tellectual MIDDLE classes, THE PROLETARIAT,

The clergy.— Demands for a constitution.



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INTRODUCTION

Among the many benefits of scientific invention is
the machinery by which nations are enabled to convey
to each other their warmest sentiments at the moment
of conception, correction of error in the making, remon-
strance against hurt planned in ignorance, warning as
stem as may be needed against intentional or unregarded
injury, confession of resentful suspicion in themselves,
detection of unjust suspicion in their neighbours, and
such friendly observations as occur to lookers on at
dangerous games. How much the world would gain by
the interchange of such admonitory and advisory criticism
if only guided wisely, and scanned by its recipients with
the attention that seamen give to the portents of varying
weather.

The truth is, however, that such criticism is seldom
guided wisely and never scanned with the seaman's
earnest but cool and unoffended regard. Nor are all
times good for its delivery or its reception. Unhappily,
the most inopportune time is that when it should be
most serviceable. The world being at peace and the
nation in a fairway of ease and prosperity, the truest
and sharpest recital of our faults, even those that are
dangerous to ourselves alone, fails of its due effect.
Attention it may gain, but only the attention of com-
placency. We listen, we read, and if at any moment
disturbance of mind begins it is immediately soothed by



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X INTRODUCTION

the ever-ready reflection that envy is the prompter of
these censures, and that the envied need not doubt
themselves fortunate. Little good, therefore — I do not say
none, but little good comes of seeing ourselves as others
see us even at times when our neighbours are least sub-
ject to prejudice and we are least sensitive to hostility.

These seasons, however, are rare. Contending needs
and ambitions multiply. The envy which was not all
pain to contemplate growls in a changed key and arms
while it growls. Among the nations there is not less
but more of the rivalry that most surely leads to strife,
and a greater number of peoples engage in it. In such
a state of things there should be no better time for
hearmg of the wrongs, faults, weaknesses which ''the
foreigner" believes us guilty of or thinks he sees in us.
But in truth it is the worst. Anger answers to anger,
suspicion to suspicion. Without a thought of inquiry or
discrimination, all such criticism is rejected as the argu-
ment of the wolf at the stream or the mere distillation of
jealousy and hate. And of course these vices are not
always imaginary or even long out of use; yet it must
still be part of the defence of nations to learn what
errors and ill-doings of their own, whether real or fancied,
tempt to aggression or provoke attack.

Of course it is not always a duty of the same impor-
tance. Much depends upon the relative possession of
power; wherefore there were times within the recollection
of many of us when it was not a very pressing duty
for Englishmen. Howsoever their country may have
figured to the view of surrounding nations, nothing
within their vision tempted to attack. Those times have
changed. Nowadays the right and the wrong idea of
England in Germany, France, Russia, Holland, Italy, are
of far greater moment as operative forces ; while in those
other days there was no Imperialist America eighty mil-
lions strong and no all-conquering Japan with a mission



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INTRODUCTION XI

in the East. Nearly all have become rivals and partak-
ers in affairs which they had nothing whatever to do
with a few decades ago, and they have their own views
of those affairs and of what they one and all consider
our much too comprehensive share in them. Therefore
it would no longer do to turn indifferent or contempt-
uous ears from hostile criticism even though it were
all ignorance, prejudice, spite. At its worst there is
nothing in it that a sensible Briton should not know
how to put up with, while he may find therein a means
of information and a clearing of insight which he cannot
safely do without and can obtain nohow else. Some
knowledge of the way in which the facts are viewed on
" the other side, " some acquaintance with the intentions
probably derived from those views, are as valuable in
international politics as in actual warfare : and it can be
no secret that this advantage takes a greater importance
from the increasing number of World Powers and the
activity of their imperialism.

Yet the fact is that our relations with the greater
European states are such that interchange of correction
and criticism is superseded by conflicting storms of
contemptuous or indignant accusation. But for the entente
we should hardly be on speaking terms with the Conti-
nent of Europe. And luckily, in France, where there
is more of real neutrality and far less inflammation of
feeling than anywhere else in our neighbourhood (or
even at home), we have at least one foreign friend from
whom we may learn without suspicion or impatience
things that should be well learnt while it is to-day.
The view that is taken of affairs in which England is
vitally concerned, as seen through an atmosphere no
less clear than ours but not ours, by a foreign states-
manship which must play its part in those same affairs
according to its own vision and judgment ~> that is well
worth learning. The view which the same statesman-



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XII INTRODUCTION

ship takes of our understanding of those affairs, whether
it is thought a right understanding and wisely or un-
wisely acted upon, is an equally profitable study, and
would be if it only taught us where S3mipathy is
strengthened or alienated, where warmer support might
be won or is quietly turning away. Diplomacy has its
own means of finding these things out, but also has its
own diplomatic habit of keeping its impressions to itself.
It fortunately happens therefore that we who have no •
admission to diplomatic enquiry, but are mere anxious
citizens looking out upon a welter of uncertainties for
what sure ground there may be to stand on, have the
use of as good a pair of French spectacles as diplom-
acy itself is likely to possess at present.

These aids are the gift of M. Victor B6rard, who
has written two or three books of small bulk and great
worth which could hardly have been more serviceable
to political Englishmen had they been designed as a
series for English use. So much, indeed, is foretold in
the titles of them: "L'Angleterre et Tlmp^rialisme**,
•'La Revoke de I'Asie", and '*L' Empire Russe et le
Tsarisme*'. And in fact these little yellow volumes
contain a comprehensive analysis of affairs which most
Englishmen are unable to think enough about from excess
of feeling ; and here too may be found a study of the
figure that England presents in the midst of these
affairs. There have been similar performances in Eng-
lish, no doubt, and they have had their use and deserve
their praise; but they leave us where they found us —
at home. We rarely get far from the English view,
although it should be clear at a time like this that
while the enmity of some of our neighbour nations
is inflamed by the necessity of self-preservation as by
themselves conceived, the same necessity must deter-
mine the conduct of others more amicable even to the
sacrifice of friendly feeling.



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INTRODUCTION XIII

These are the considerations which give importance
to the use of M. B^rard's spectacles, but of course not
these alone. He is a friendly critic, and while assurance
that he is so heightens the effect now of his censure
and now of his raillery, it enables us to takq both with
the needful patience. He is an authoritative critic by
a union of two qualifications not often found together
in so high a degree of perfection. The one, contented
drudging in company with the historian, the economist,
the statistician, and every other purveyor of facts and
anatomist of causes ; the other, the informing imagination
which finds its way to the conclusions of the drudge
without the drudgery, and with even more of the
drudge's certainty. M. B^rard is at one time the pedagogue,
at another the diviner of contemporary history, but
more often both. He can be all industry, all insight;
and it is probably on that account, and because as a
writer he is admirably lucid and compact, that his books
have been crowned by the French Academy.

The first of them, his " L* Angleterre et 1 ' Imp^rialisme,"
did not entirely please us all. Its personification of the
England of to-day in "Joe" was by some thought
disrespectful to the country, by others a means of
bringing Mr Chamberlain below the level of his deserts.
The better opinion is, however, that though in parts we
may find the book a rude purge to pride, it proves its
author to be a close observer, a keen interpreter, who
may be consulted profitably on shortcomings which he
IS as quick to see as we are slow to acknowledge.
Enough, however, that whether " L' Angleterre et I'lm-
p^rialisme" be mostly right or mostly wrong, it largely
helps to show us how the England of to-day is under-
stood by the least distempered minds in Continental
Europe; and whether right or wrong, it is this reading
of the England of to-day that goes into the political
and military calculations of her friends and enemies



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XIV INTRODUCTION

alike, its lessons naturally modifying them. But how
far such modifications are likely to extend, in what
measure they may aflfect existing combinations and
enttnteSj by how much they may hasten the new distri-
bution of power, for example — these are forbidden
questions in England. There is an immense ''feeling
of the country " against listening to them, a corresponding
timidity in giving to them public expression ; the conse*
quence of which is that the all-controlling Will of the
People remains unthinking and uninformed as to facts
and probabilities which are the iirst consideration in
every other country in Europe: yet England is most
of all concerned with them. These are not the exclusive
theme of M. B6rard's " L* Angleterre et 1' Imp6rialisme/'
but they are sometimes stated and sometimes suggested
in that book with a force which makes their absence
from all debate in England really alarming.

And so with that pregnant particular, the revolt of
Asia, greatest though not the only cause of the world's
disturbance. Revolt it is in the full meaning of the
word as employed by historians. It opens with an
^clat which gloriously befits annunciation that the East
has risen sword in hand to confront the West; and we
know that there is not a corner of Asia so remote
but that it hears the sound and rejoices. Yet while as
individual Englishmen we know that we know all this,
as parts of a Public Opinion we allow no such con-
sciousness to appear. We do not acknowledge the revolt
of Asia. We have always called it the Russo-Japanese
war. Narrowing it down to that description, we have
never discussed it openly as anything else; and that it
never was anything else seems now to be generally
assumed from the fact that the Russo-Japanese war can
be ended, or suspended, by a peace arrangement the
product of a too rapid and violent exhaustion. In gross
and in detail, nations and men alike, what adepts we



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INTRODUCTION XV

are at self-deceiving 1 Japan sought and has fought the
6rst great battles of the revolt, but who should really
believe that they end what they did not begin? Every-
where called by that name, the revolt began overtly a
few years ago in China (where it had immeasurably more
provocation than anywhere else) when the generals of
all the great European Powers on the one hand, a quite
sufficient number of good Chinese intellects on the other,
distinctly made out amidst the ruin at Pekin that a less
experimental and more sweeping Boxer outbreak could
not be put down. That was the beginning of a move-
ment which has the same incitement elsewhere in the
East, and the same justification that is allowed to victorious
but unsatisfied Japan.

It goes on, the revolt of Asia; and since it does so,
and since so much of England's Empire lies over there,
should not some high priest of politics give to the
nation some understanding of it, explaining its instiga-
tions, tracing its prospects, showing what we may expect
of it and what to prepare for? Nothing of the kind is
attempted in England by any such authority. No English
B^rard has come forward to supply Public Opinion in
Britain with the instruction necessary to keep it sane.
His ''R6volte de TAsie" has therefore a greater value
for us than could be wished. It would have been
better as an auxiliary composition, with its distinct
French standpoint and its own fine flashes of illumination.
Of such is his discrete view of Asia — "la double
Asie": "TAsie ffconde et TAsie f(6roce." Though
conscious of this distinction " in the dark backward and
abysm" of our minds, not many of us have seen all
that it suggests or what advantage there is in keeping
it ever in view. And then what of this for thoughts?
"Japon," says M. B6rard, is "un r6sum^ de la double
Asie. Par sa latitude et par son climat, par son regime
des vents et des pluies, par le temp^ament de sa glebe,



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XVI INTRODUCTION

par les races, les religions, les arts, la civilisation et
toute 1 ' histoire de ses humanit^s, le Japon tient de 1 ' Asie
feconde autant que de TAsie feroce: il les melange,
1 ' une et 1 ' autre, et ce melange meme fait son caract^e
propre." That may be thought fanciful, but the fancy
is veracious and informing. What follows should be
accepted as a foundation-fact in forecasting the future of
Eastern Asia. ** Certains observateurs, qui voient les choses
de plus pr^s, sentent et pr6disent que tout ce travail
Japonais ne tend que vers un but national, strictement
Japonais ; et que, prenant tout ce qui pent armer pour la
defense ou pour Tattaque, armure paciiique de Tindustrie
et du commerce, armure militaire de la guerre et de la
marine, le Japon refuse et repoussera tout ce qui pourrait
le transformer vraiment en une nation Europ6enne."

The third book of the trio which has no match in
English authorship for English uses is in the hands of
the reader of these lines. When it was published in
France, not many weeks ago, the "Tsarism'* of the
Russian Empire was under the double ordeal of a ruinous
war abroad and widespread insurgency at home. Carried
to extremes, either must have endangered England
gravely, though that is not the general opinion here at
present. For the sudden break-up of the Russian empire,
from whatever cause, would as suddenly bring the
European system to confusion and strife, and these
islands cannot be towed out of Europe by Eastern
alliances ot any description : a material fact insufficiently
considered but of high political importance. Therefore,
although the war may have come to an end we have
a still-abiding and substantial interest in Tsarism, which
has now to consider first and foremost by how much,
and in what wise sufficing ways, it can cease to be itself.
And as a further consequence, M. B6rard ' s *' L ' Empire
Russe et le Tsarisme " is more timely in this translation
than when it was originally printed three months ago.



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INTRODUCTION XVH

Republished when and where rage against Russian
autocracy is a fashion as well as a passion, the book
would have a particular value were it but for one chapter
alone. After this chapter is read all that is worthy in
the passion will remain; and while the fashion need
not be discouraged in the least, it must be bettered by
understanding that the autocracy of Russian rule was
originally neither criminal nor absurd, nor even usurp-
ation. This is the chapter in which M. B^rard explains
with unexcelled method and clearness that Tsarism was
the direct product of necessity: a necessity that weighed
upon Russians of every grade but on the lowliest most :
the necessity of defence against the incessant ravage of
invasion by giving all power of all kinds to the highest
military capacities. Having explained this and much more
to the same purpose with the unembarrassed discernment
of an honest mind, M. B^rard shows that he can be as
impassioned as his neighbours when he has done his
duty by the facts of the case. His studies convince
him that he does well to be angry, which should be a
comfort to many among us who have been even more
angry than M. B6rard without his justification ; and also
widiout his sensibility to the consideration that hostile,
that immediate destruction of the Russian system of
government would ruin in the same hour every insti-
tution in the country. What less should be expected,
since every Russian institution either rests upon or is
built into that system? What less when we remember,
too, that while the miseries of the war have largely
increased the agrarian and socialist ferment among a
people whose patience can pass at a bound to the wildest
ferocity, there stand within the borders of the empire con-
quered populations who would willingly burn Russia to the
ground to escape Russification ? They do but await the
chance. And yet, knowing all this and what consequences
the precipitate ruin of Russia would bring upon the rest



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XVm INTRODUCTION

of Europe, there are many influential spirits among us
who would loose rebellion over the whole country if a
word could do it, so furious are they against Tsarism and
the Tsar. Wishing for rain they call down the flood.

If it may be regarded as lasting, the peace arranged
by the Russian and Japanese commissioners on the 29th of
August ofiers the Tsar a chance of reforming the Russian



Online LibraryVictor i. e. Eugène Victor BérardThe Russian empire and czarism → online text (page 1 of 27)