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who do not attempt farming derive a considerable revenue by letting their land to the peasants.

And yet it must be confessed that even in these southern regions many proprietors can say with a certain amount of truth that the Emancipation ruined them. Formerly they lived on their estates in comfort and plenty, or lived in the towns and drew a large revenue from their estates, and now all their landed property has been sold by auction to satisfy the demands of importunate creditors. These facts seem at first to give the lie to what has just been said, but in reality there is here no contradiction. I have never asserted, and had no intention of implying, that the Emancipation saved the foolish proprietors from the consequences of their own folly. In all my remarks I have assumed that the proprietors were solvent at the time of the Emancipation, and that they acted afterwards with a reasonable amount of intelligence and circumspection. The proprietors who did not fulfil these conditions I have hitherto left out of account, and I may now dismiss them with a very few words. So long as serfage with all its extremely elastic relations existed, many proprietors lived constantly in an atmosphere of debt, but contrived to keep their heads above water, like merchants who are thoroughly insolvent and prolong their commercial existence by means of accommodation bills and similar desperate expedients. For these men the Emancipation, like a crisis in the commercial world, brought a day of reckoning. It did not really ruin them, but it showed them that they were ruined. Very

similar is the present position of those men who were accidentally solvent at the time of the Emancipation, but have since lived recklessly beyond their incomes. These, too, have some reason to complain of the change which has been effected; for in the elastic relations which serfage created they might have lived respected and died regretted without having made the acquaintance of the Bankruptcy Court.

This leads us naturally to the moral influence of the Emancipation, but into this wide and difficult subject I cannot here enter. I do not wish to trouble the reader with à priori reasonings and commonplace general reflections, and I am obliged to confess that my own observations have not supplied me with sufficient materials for accurately determining this influence. It is still, I believe, too soon to treat the subject from the moral point of view. One beneficial moral effect is, however, sufficiently apparent: the Emancipation compelled the proprietors to "put their house in order,” under pain of summary ejection. By breaking down numerous barriers which protected them against the natural consequences of improvidence and folly, it has forced them to pay more attention to those simple elementary principles which form the basis of all wellregulated civilised society.




A Simple Question-Difficulty of answering it-Shattered Illusions-Pessimistio Views-Opinions of the Peasants themselves-Causes of Stagnation-Three Explanations and Three Panaceas-The Moral Remedy-Proposed Reform of the Communal Institutions-The Peasant Courts of Justice-Supposed Obstructive Influence of the Mir-Taxes and Land-dues-Disruption of Peasant Families-A Word as to the Future.

AT the commencement of last chapter I pointed out in general terms the difficulty of describing clearly the immediate consequences of the Emancipation. In beginning now to speak of the influence which the great reform has had on the peasantry, I feel that the difficulty has reached its climax. The foreigner who desires merely to gain a general idea of the subject cannot be expected to take an interest in details, and even if he took the trouble to examine them attentively, he would derive from the labour little real information. The rural life, and in general the economic organisation, of Russia is so peculiar, so very different from those of Western Europe that even the fullest data regarding the quantity of land enjoyed by the peasantry, the amount of dues paid for it, the productivity of the soil, the price of grain, and similar topics, would convey to an Englishman's mind no clear conception of the peasants' actual condition. And, indeed, ordinary readers have no desire to study statistical

data or details of any kind. kind. What they wish is a clear, concise, and dogmatic statement of general results. Has the material and moral condition of the peasantry improved since the Emancipation? That is the simple question which they have to put, and they naturally expect a simple, categorical answer.

It may be naturally supposed that any one who has lived for several years in Russia, and has devoted a great part of his time to the study of the agrarian relations before and after the Emancipation who has had abundant opportunities of consulting official statistics and of questioning proprietors and peasants in various parts of the country-must necessarily be ready to answer this question in an authoritative tone. And yet, whilst recognising that the supposition is natural and to some extent justifiable, I am obliged to make the humiliating confession that, though I have fulfilled all the conditions enumerated, I am not prepared to pronounce any very decided opinion on the subject. Nay, more, I venture to assert that any one who studies the subject carefully, in an unbiassed spirit, and draws his conclusions, not from à priori reasoning, but from experience, will probably find himself in the same position. That the legal position of the peasantry has been enormously improved, and their opportunities for making material and moral progress immensely increased, there can be no possible doubt. But when the investigator endeavours to go a step further, and seeks to determine how far this new legal position has been taken advantage of, and how far these new opportunities

have been used to good purpose, he at once feels that he no longer stands on firm ground. Here and there he finds a village or a small district in which the inhabitants have unquestionably made considerable progress; but on the other hand he finds hundreds of villages and districts in which good and evil consequences are so mixed up together that it is impossible to draw any conclusion.

To decide the question in a scientific way it would be necessary to have complete and accurate statistical data regarding the economic condition of the peasantry before and after the Emancipation. Unfortunately the statistical material which actually exists is in general inaccurate and fragmentary, and that section of it which relates to the time of serfage* is for our present purpose almost worthless. We are thus reduced to the necessity of accepting vague opinions founded on general impressions, or, in other words, the testimony of those who have had good opportunities of observation. This category of authorities is very numerous, for it includes all proprietors of a certain age who have habitually lived on their estates; but the testimony given by these witnesses has in my opinion less value than is commonly attributed to it. To explain this I must make here a little digression.

The great majority of educated Russians are at present suffering from the effect of shattered illusions. During the time of the Emancipation they indulged in most immoderate expectations. They believed, with

e.g., the tables printed by the Elaboration Commission.

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