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or insubordinate; but the authorities accepted those presented without making any investigations, and consequently the proprietor might use this power as an effective means of extortion.

Against these means of extortion and oppression the serfs had no legal protection. The law provided them with no means of resisting any injustice to which they might be subjected, or of bringing to punishment the master who oppressed and ruined them. The Government, notwithstanding its sincere desire to protect them from inordinate burdens and cruel treatment, rarely interfered between the master and his serfs, being afraid of thereby undermining the authority of the proprietors, and awakening among the peasantry a spirit of insubordination. The serfs were left, therefore, to their own resources, and had to defend themselves as they best could. The simplest way was open mutiny; but this was rarely employed, for they knew by experience that any attempt of the kind would be at once put down by the military and mercilessly punished. Much more favourite and efficient methods were passive resistance, flight, and fire-raising or murder.

We might naturally suppose that an unscrupulous proprietor, armed with the enormous legal and actual power which I have just described, could very easily extort from his peasants anything he desired. In reality, however, the process of extortion, when it exceeded a certain measure, was a very difficult operation. The Russian peasant has a capacity of patient endurance that would do honour to a martyr, and a

power of continued, dogged, passive resistance such as is possessed, I believe, by no other class of men in Europe; and these qualities formed a very powerful barrier against the rapacity of unconscientious proprietors. As soon as the serfs remarked in their master a tendency to rapacity and extortion, they at once took measures to defend themselves. Their first step was to sell secretly all the cattle which they did not actually require, and all the movable property which they possessed, except the few articles necessary for everyday use; and the little capital that they thus realised was carefully hidden somewhere in or near the house. When this had been effected, the proprietor might threaten and punish as he liked, but he rarely succeeded in unearthing the hidden treasure. Many a peasant, under such circumstances, bore patiently the most cruel punishment, and saw his sons taken away as recruits, and yet he persisted in declaring that he had no money to ransom himself and his

children. A spectator in such a case would probably have advised him to give up his little store of money, and thereby liberate himself from persecution; but the peasants reasoned otherwise. They were convinced, and not without reason, that the sacrifice of their little capital would merely put off the evil day, and that the persecution would very soon recommence. In this way they would have to suffer as before, and have the additional mortification of feeling that they had spent to no purpose the little that they possessed. Their fatalistic belief in the "perhaps " (avos') came here

to their aid. Perhaps the proprietor might become weary of his efforts when he saw that they led to no result, or perhaps something might happen which would remove the persecutor.

It always happened, however, that when a proprietor treated his serfs with extreme injustice and cruelty, some of them lost patience, and sought refuge in flight. As the estates lay perfectly open on all sides, and it was utterly impossible to exercise a strict supervision, nothing was easier than to run away, and the fugitive might be a hundred miles off before his absence was noticed. Why then did not all run away as soon as the master began to oppress them? There were several reasons which made the peasant bear much, rather than adopt this resource. In the first place, he had almost always a wife and family, and he could not possibly take them with him; flight, therefore, was expatriation for life in its most terrible form. Besides this, the life of a fugitive serf was by no means enviable. He was liable at any moment to fall into the hands of the police, and to be put in prison or sent back to his master. So little charm indeed did this life present that not unfrequently after a few months or a few years the fugitive returned of his own accord to his former domicile.

Regarding fugitives or passportless wanderers in general, I may here remark parenthetically that there were two kinds. In the first place, there was the young, able-bodied peasant, who fled from the oppression of his master or from the conscription. Such a fugitive almost

always sought out for himself a new domicile—generally in the southern provinces, where there was a great scarcity of labourers, and where many proprietors habitually welcomed all peasants who presented themselves, without making any inquiries as to passports. In the second place, there were those who chose fugitivism as a permanent mode of life. These were, for the most part, men or women of a certain age-widowers or widows-who had no close family ties, and who were too infirm or too lazy to work. The majority of these assumed the character of pilgrims. As such they could always find enough to eat, and could generally even collect a few roubles with which to grease the palm of any zealous policeofficer who should arrest them. For a life of this kind Russia presented, and still presents, peculiar facilities. There are abundance of monasteries, where all comers may live for three days without any questions being asked, and where those who are willing to do a little work for the patron saint may live for a much longer period. Then there are the towns, where the rich merchants consider almsgiving as very profitable for salvation. And, lastly, there are the villages, where a professing pilgrim is sure to be hospitably received and entertained so long as he refrains from stealing and other acts too grossly inconsistent with his assumed character. For those who contented themselves with simple fare, and did not seek to avoid the usual privations of a wanderer's life, these ordinary means of subsistence were amply sufficient. Those who were more ambitious and more cunning often employed their talents with great

success in the world of the Old Ritualists and Sectarians.


The last and most desperate means of defence which the serfs possessed were fire-raising and murder. With regard to the amount of fire-raising there are no trustworthy statistics. With regard to the number of agrarian murders I possessed some interesting statistical data, but have, unfortunately, lost them. I may say, however, that these cases were not very numeThis is to be explained in part by the patient, long-suffering character of the peasantry, and in part by the fact that the great majority of the proprietors were by no means such inhuman taskmasters as is sometimes supposed. When a case did occur, the Administration always made a strict investigation-punishing the guilty with exemplary severity, and taking no account of the provocation to which they had been subjected. The peasantry, on the contrary-at least, when the act was not the result of mere personal vengeance-secretly sympathised with "the unfortunates," and long cherished their memory as that of men who had suffered for the Mir.

In speaking of the serfs I have hitherto confined my attention to the members of the Mir, or rural Commune -that is to say, the peasants in the narrower sense of the term; but besides these there were the Dvoróvuié, or domestic servants, and of these I must add a word or two.

The Dvoróvuié were domestic slaves rather than serfs in the proper sense of the term. Let us, however, avoid

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