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wounding unnecessarily Russian sensibilities by the use of the ill-sounding word. We may call the class in question "domestics "-remembering, of course, that they were not quite domestic servants in the ordinary sense. They received no wages, were not at liberty to change masters, possessed almost no legal rights, and might be punished, hired out, or sold by their owners without any infraction of the written law.

These domestics were very numerous-out of all proportion to the work to be performed and could consequently lead a very lazy life;* but the peasant considered it a great misfortune to be transferred to their ranks, for he thereby lost his share of the Communal land and the little independence which he enjoyed. It very rarely happened, however, that the proprietor took an able-bodied peasant as domestic. The class generally kept up its numbers by the legitimate and illegitimate method of natural increase; and involuntary additions were occasionally made when orphans were left without near relatives, and no other family wished to adopt them. To this class belonged the lackeys, servant-girls, cooks, coachmen, stable-boys, gardeners, and a large number of nondescript old men and women who had no very clearly-defined functions. Those of them who were married and had children occupied a position intermediate between the ordinary domestic servant and the peasant. On the one hand they received from the master a monthly allowance of food and a yearly allowance of clothes, and

Those proprietors who kept orchestras, large packs of hounds, &c., had sometimes several hundred domestic serfs.

they were obliged to live in the immediate vicinity of the mansion-house; but on the other hand they had each a separate house or apartment, with a little cabbagegarden, and commonly a small plot of flax. The unmarried ones lived in all respects like ordinary domestic servants.

Of the whole number of serfs belonging to the proprietors, the domestics formed, according to the last census, no less than 6 per cent. (6·79),* and their numbers were evidently rapidly increasing, for in the preceding census they represented only 4.79 per cent. of the whole. This fact seems all the more remarkable when we observe that during this period the number of peasant serfs had diminished from 20,576,229 to 20,158,231.

I must now bring this long chapter to an end, though I feel that I have been able to do little more than sketch roughly in outline the subject which I desired to describe. I have endeavoured to represent serfage in its normal, ordinary forms rather than in its occasional monstrous manifestations. Of these latter I have a collection containing ample materials for a whole series of sensation novels, but I refrain from quoting them, because I do not believe that the criminal annals of a country give a fair representation of its real con

* The whole number of serfs belonging to the proprietors at the time of the Emancipation was 21,625,609 :

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Troinitski, "Krepostnóe Naselénie v Rossíi,” p. 57. The difference between these figures and those already given on page 254 is to be accounted for partly by the increase of population since 1859 and partly by official inaccuracy.

dition. Imagine an author describing family life in England by the chronicles of the Divorce Court! The method would, of course, seem to all men incredibly absurd, and yet it would not be much more unjust than that of an author who should describe serfage in Russia by those cases of reckless oppression and inhuman cruelty which certainly did sometimes occur, but which as certainly were exceptional. Most foreigners are already, I believe, only too disposed to exaggerate the oppression and cruelty to which serfage gave rise, so that in quoting a number of striking examples I should simply be pandering to that taste for the horrible and the sensational which is for the present in need of no stimulus.

It must not, however, be supposed that in refraining from all description of those abuses of authority which the proprietors sometimes practised I am actuated by any desire to whitewash serfage or attenuate its evil consequences. No great body of men could long wield such enormous uncontrolled power without abusing it,* and no great body of men could long live under such power without suffering morally and materially from its pernicious influence. And it must be remembered that this pernicious influence affected not only the serfs, but also the proprietors. If serfage did not create that moral apathy and intellectual lethargy which formed, as it

* The number of deposed proprietors—or rather the number of estates placed under curators in consequence of the abuse of authority on the part of their owners-amounted in 1859 to 215. So at least I found in a MS. official document shown to me by Mr. N. A. Milutin.

were, the atmosphere of Russian provincial life, it did much at least to preserve it. In short, serfage was the chief barrier to all material and moral progress, and it was therefore natural that, in a time of moral awakening such as that which I have described in the preceding chapter, the question of Serf Emancipation at once came to the front.

CHAPTER XXX.

THE EMANCIPATION OF THE SERFS.

The Question raised-Chief Committee-The Nobles of the Lithuanian Provinces-The Tsar's Broad Hint to the Noblesse-Enthusiasm in the PressThe Proprietors-Political Aspirations-No Opposition-The Government -Public Opinion-Fear of the Proletariate-The Provincial CommitteesThe Elaboration Commission-The Question ripens-Provincial DeputiesDiscontent and Demonstrations-The Manifesto-Fundamental Principles of the Law-Illusions and Disappointment of the Serfs-Arbiters of the Peace -A Characteristic Incident-Redemption-Who effected the Emancipation?

Ir is a fundamental principle of Russian political organisation that all initiative in public affairs proceeds from the autocratic power. The wide-spread desire, therefore, for the Emancipation of the serfs did not find free expression so long as the Emperor kept silence regarding his intentions. The educated classes watched anxiously for some sign, and soon a sign was given to them. In March, 1856—a few days after the publication of the manifesto announcing the conclusion of peace with the Western Powers-his Majesty said to the Marshals of Noblesse in Moscow: "For the removal of certain unfounded reports I consider it necessary to declare to you that I have not at present the intention of annihilating serfage; but certainly, as you yourselves know, the existing manner of possessing serfs cannot remain unchanged. It is better to abolish serfage from above than to await the time when it will begin to abolish itself from below. I request you, gentlemen, to

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