The Greatest Novelist's Work for Freedom

“ To have made known to contemporaries and to posterity what serfdom means is the position of Ivan Turgenef in history.” Such are the words of Julian Schmidt, a German critic of the highest authority. They sound strangely in our ears, for, much as we have had of literary discussion of his works, we are so remote from the current life of Russia that we have heard little of the man himself, of his inheritance of liberal principles, or of the early and signal success of his patriotic services.

Few men have been born to such traditions of devoted self-sacrifice to the cause of human freedom. His two uncles, Alexander and Nicholas, were conspicuous figures in the court of Alexander I. The elder was the first competent student of the original archives of Russian history, and upon his researches is based all subsequent work. The friend of every great liberal of his time, his personal frankness and rectitude nevertheless saved him from the suspicion and distrust of Nicholas. The younger seems the most innocent, of the many innocent who were swept into darkness and exile by that wild whirl of rash and mistaken heroism, the revolt of the guards in December, 1825. His brilliant powers, his intellectual training, a remarkable exception in that day, promised a distinguished career. Yet only his fortunate absence from the country at the moment of the insurrection saved his life. But though the remainder of it was spent under kinder skies than Siberia’s, it was none the less an exile’s. “Yet,” wrote the staunch old man, after twenty years of hopeless waiting for justice, “if it were to do over again, I believe I should choose the same part.” That part had been from first to last an unwavering, outspoken protest against the evils of serfdom. It had brought upon him such dislike that it was easy for his enemies to convince Nicholas that his ready support of the various plans for educational and social improvement, fostered by the liberal tendencies of Alexander I. prior to 1820, had been only a cover for treason. These schemes had indeed brought him into alliance with the generous but over-eager spirits whose ill-balanced fervor drew such ruin upon the hopes of the liberals in Russia at the accession of Nicholas; yet so great was the confidence placed in him that only a few months before Alexander had summoned him home to assume heavy responsibility. “ Only Turgenef can replace Speranski.” Yet the utmost mercy that Nicholas could be induced to show was to relieve the death penalty of its shameful accompaniments, even though his long previous absence from the country must have exonerated him from any share in the murderous designs which alone could justify such severity. The third brother, the father of Ivan Sergyeïvitch died broken-hearted by this cruel fate.

For long years the name of Nicholas Turgenef was among those repeated with mute prayer and blessing in the dead silence which Nicholas enforced in regard to “ the men of December.” The tragedy came upon Russian society like the thunder-bolt that breaks before the storm, and under the dark cloud which brooded over Russia the halo which surrounded the memory of its victims was the one faint light across the shadows. For three and thirty years the exile lasted. Then he was included in the general amnesty of 1858; but Alexander II. added to it an especial invitation to St. Petersburg. And there — the man of the hour; the man on whose shoulders his own mantle had fallen; the man who had fought and won the battle against serfdom — was his own nephew, the son of his dead brother Serge. Among the pia desideria which had cheered the exile’s lonely hours had been the prayer that some poet’s imagination might be kindled by the wrongs of the serfs. “ Are not the miseries of slavery enough to stir an inspired heart?” Ere the day of his freedom the prayer had been answered in the Notes of a Sportsman, an appeal of imperative pathos, which had reached even the steps of the throne.1

Too young for more than a dim memory of that fatal December, Ivan grew up on his mother’s estate in Osël. Like the gentle-born Russian boys of his time, he learned French and German in early childhood, but, happier than too many of them, he learned besides, from the old peasants about him, the rich folk-lore of his own people. The earlier pages of the story of Pounine and Babourine are pictures from his own life. Of his position and his convictions at the end of his university career he says in his Recollections: 2 “In the autumn of 1838 I set out to study at Berlin. I was just nineteen; upon this journey I had long reflected. I was convinced that in Russia it was possible only to pursue certain preordained studies, but that the fountain-head of real knowledge was to be found abroad. I very clearly perceived all the disadvantages of such a separation from my native land, of such a violent breaking of all the cords and ties binding me to that life in which I had grown up; but there was nothing else to be done. That life, that circle, and especially that little ring, if I may so express it, to which I belonged, — a little ring of masters and serfs, — could not detain me. On the contrary, almost all that I saw around me awoke in me feelings of restlessness, of dissatisfaction, of aversion even. I could not long waver. I must either compel myself silently to follow the beaten track on the common road, or I must turn at once, must break away once and for all, even risking the loss of much that was near and dear to my heart. So I did. I laid my head beneath the 1 German Ocean ’ which should purify me and give me the new birth; and when I rose at last from its waves I suddenly found myself, through and through, an ‘ Occidental,’ and I have always remained one. It does not enter my head to condemn those of my contemporaries who, in other less denying ways, sought the freedom, the knowledge, for which I strove. I wish only to say that I saw no other path before me. I could not breathe the same air; I could not stand side by side with that which I hated: for this, truly, there was wanting in me the requisite endurance, the force of character. It was indispensably necessary for me to remove myself from my foe, in order that from my very remoteness I might attack him with more power. In my eyes this foe had a definite shape, bore a well-known name: this foe was — serfdom. Under this name I gathered and concentrated everything against which I resolved to fight to the end, with which I swore never to make peace. It was my oath of Hannibal. I not only made it; I went to the West solely that I might the better fulfill it. And I do not think that my stay in the West robbed me of a single sympathy with Russian life, a single conception of its peculiarities and needs. The Notes of a Sportsman, those in their time novel, and in their consequences far-reaching, studies, were written by me abroad; some of them in heavy moments of doubt of this: Was it for me to return to my native land or not? ”

But 1838 was far enough from the Notes. It needed years of waiting for the moment to strike the blow so fatal to his enemy. In 1841, he returned to Russia; for a year he served in the ministry for foreign affairs, and in 1846 went again to Germany.

His first attempts in writing were poetry. One of the earliest (1841), The Old Landlord, is much the same theme as Tennyson’s Northern Farmer. The principal work of the kind (1843) is a narrative poem entitled Parasha, from the name of the heroine. Pushkine was the model then for Russia, as Goethe had been in Germany, and the poem, if not an imitation, was certainly inspired by his Eugene Oneguine. It had its success, and drew forth marked approval from Byelinski, who held at that day in Russia a position as authoritative as Sainte-Beuve’s in France; but apparently Turgenef himself recognized that this was not the true path for his genius. He ceased to write, and long after expressed himself thus emphatically : “ I feel a positive, almost a physical, antipathy for my verses. I not only have not a single copy of my poems, but I would pay dearly in order that not one of them should be left in the world.”

He had written a few short stories, little known in English, but nothing yet in his career augured his future fame. Of the moment of his second departure for the West he wrote, “ I had soon satisfied myself that there was no use in going farther in that direction, and I felt a strong inclination altogether to abandon literature; but in reply to a request of Panaef, who had not enough to fill up the department of Miscellany for the first number of the Contemporary, I sent him the sketch entitled Khor and Kalinitch. The words ‘ From the notebook of a sportsman ’ were added by Panaef himself, for the purpose of attracting the reader’s attention. The success of this sketch impelled me to write others; and I returned to literature.” Such was the beginning of the famous Notes of a Sportsman.

The sketches now number something over thirty, most of them having been printed prior to l852, but a few of them appeared later; notably, Pounine and Babourine, which was finished after the emancipation. The author worked with the simplest materials. No artist was ever more sparing of the colors on his palette. He concerned himself little with mere outward surrounding, or with physical suffering. It was the withering blight, the wasting canker, which was consuming master as well as servant, which grieved his heart. Faithfully and patiently he sketched his gènre pictures, simple as idyls, but true with a truth that bit into the memory. His keen discrimination, his cool reticence, might almost argue his heart untouched. He had found only an artistic opportunity, a fine scene for a dramatist. But a moment more, and one sees that, though the voice, the pen, be steady, the lip quivers, the blood boils. Making all due allowance for the need of caution in order to escape the censure, this fine reserve, this calm poise, are only the expression of the man’s own nature. Turgenef is the pure artist. There could be no stronger proof that the purer and more perfect the art, the greater its power, than the marvelous success of this book, which one would have said beforehand it would be impossible for a Russian to write, and more than impossible to print in Moscow itself, and spread without disguise throughout Russia.

The simple materials are drawn from the every-day experience of the quiet routine of country life. The mist en scène is the wide plain of the steppe, the deep recess of the forest, the dusty road of the village. Against these are thrown in clear-cut relief the dark, dull figures of that wasted, monotonous existence. For drama we have only the chance adventures of an enthusiastic sportsman; a morning breakfast with a neighbor; a narrow escape from drowning in a lonely pond; a moment’s chat with the Moujik by the road-side; a singing match in a way-side inn; a sudden death by a blow from a falling tree; the conversation overheard in the steward’s office on the estate of an idle and selfish mistress; the murmured whispers of a heart-broken woman over a midnight fire in the open yard of the mill; or the shepherd boys telling stories of nixies and goblins in their solitary bivouac on the distant meadow.

This absence of all passion, of all special pleading, not only heightened the artistic value of the book, but it happily prevented the interference of the censor, and the whole series was complete and presented to the public in book form before any suspicion of the force of its cumulative effect had been awakened. Then all at once the startling faithfulness of the picture was recognized. The resolute champion of freedom had struck his blow at the one vulnerable point. Not the wrongs, the outrages upon the serfs, could have stirred the mass of the land owners, but the baneful influence of serfdom upon themselves roused the selfish instinct of selfpreservation.

A people which has suffered such benumbing, such deadening, of its nature can never redeem itself. Neither reform nor revolution from within is possible; help could come only through arbitrary power from above. Yet the history of the emancipation shows that not even absolute will could have brought it about without the yielding of the land owners, in their dread of sinking deeper and deeper into the hopeless slough. To show the danger, to waken the dread, was the office of the book, the loyal service of Turgenef for his country.

Did he himself realize what he was doing? The artist and the moralist are so completely one that he seems almost to have borne his witness unconsciously, as a noble man’s duty for the right is sometimes performed by his mere presence alone. It was to cost him dear. Reproach and calumny were ready enough. Much of it seized upon the alleged fact that while arraigning his countrymen he had himself been supported by the serf labor on his hereditary estate.

To a letter asking for the truth he sent the following answer: —

“ I reply frankly to your frank question. My father died the 30th of October, 1834. I was then only sixteen. The hatred of selfdom even then lived in me; it, among others, was the reason why I, growing up among beating and torture, never soiled my hands by a single blow. But to the Notes of a Sportsman was a long way then, I was simply a boy, almost a child. Besides, my father was a poor man; he left only one hundred and thirty souls,3 of little worth and bringing no income, and there were three brothers of us. The property of my father was united with the property of my mother, who alone gave us, and sometimes took from us, the means of livelihood. But it never entered her head or ours that this trifling property (I speak of my father’s) was not hers. I passed three years abroad, never received from it one kopeck, and all the same never thought of asking for my inheritance; furthermore, that inheritance, after counting out what belonged to my mother as the widow, and what went to the share of my brothers, would have amounted to little more than nothing.

“ When my dear mother died, in 1850, I immediately set free all the houseservants. The peasants desiring it I let go for the obrok.4 In every possible way I worked for the success of the general emancipation. For redemption everywhere I gave up the fifth part, and on the chief estate took nothing whatever for the land of the manor itself, which was worth a considerable sum. Another in my place might have done more, and more quickly; but I promised to tell the truth, and I speak it as it is. It is nothing to boast of; but dishonor, I think, it cannot bring me.”

However bitter might have been the resentment of those whom the book had not convinced, it was not easy to visit it upon the author himself; for, as already stated, it had passed the censor unsuspected, as it appeared in monthly parts, and it was impossible to revoke that judgment. But an opportunity occurred before long to manifest the hatred which he had awakened against himself.

On the moment of receiving the news of the death of Gogol, in February, 1852, Turgenef wrote a brief notice for one of the St. Petersburg papers. It was but a word of keen personal sorrow, of bitter regret for the loss to Russia, — such a word as a man speaks beside an open grave. Its publication was refused by the censor at St. Petersburg, but later, on submission to the Moscow authorities, appeared in the Gazette of that city. The 16th of April following, Turgenef was placed under arrest in St. Petersburg for a month, and then ordered to banishment upon his own estate in Osël. Common report abroad has charged the whole thing upon Nicholas himself, the Gogol article being a mere pretext, but the Notes the real offense. Turgenef1 s own words, however, are quite to the contrary. Apparently, the jealousy between rival officials added to mistrust of Turgenef led to actual falsehood. “ I have not the slightest intention of accusing the then existing government. . . . It would have been impossible for the government to have suspected a trusted official of so high rank [Moussine-Pushkine] of such distortion of the truth. But all is for the best. My being under arrest and then in the country had without doubt its use for me: it brought me close to certain sides of Russian life, which in the ordinary course of things would surely have escaped my attention.”

The exile lasted three years. “ Every six weeks a policeman appeared for an inspection, showing as his warrant a dirty bit of paper, and asking what he should do. ‘ Do your duty,’ replied Turgenef, wrapping a five-rouble note in the warrant; whereupon the policeman, with a profound bow, withdrew.” His release came just before the death of Nicholas, it is said, through the efforts of the heir apparent himself, upon whom the Notes had made a deep impression, — how deep let the story of the emancipation tell.

Turgenef soon went to Germany again, where much of his life has since been spent. In the ten years between 1852 and 1862 appeared the novels, now so well known in all modern languages, Rudine, On the Eve, A Nest of Noblemen, etc. They placed him confessedly at the head of the realistic school. With less of detail, with less of picturesque setting, than the French work of the same school, the very simplicity makes their truth more vivid. Zola’s canvas is crowded with figures, and glows with the richest tints. Against the dim, gray distance in Turgenef’s picture are grouped two or three forms clad in sober hue; but the cunning hand of the artist throws over them a gleam of magic light, which makes them live and breathe, and love and hate, before our very eyes. From one point of view the novels are the intensest dramas of human passion, in which the old tragedy of hope, of despair, of love, of death, is played amid the shifting circumstances of every-day life; from another they are all the cultur - romanen, which portray the intellectual and moral aspects of society. From either point of view their highest merit comes from that clairvoyance of genius which sees in and through the traits the conditions which are most Russian, the larger outlines, the broader movement, which make all primarily human and universal.

This is continually more apparent in the later works which his countrymen call “the immortal trilogy,” Fathers and Sons, Smoke, Virgin Soil. To the first it would be hard to find a parallel in any work of fiction, for the storm of mingled applause and denunciation with which it was received. It had its immediate inspiration in the days just following the emancipation; but its main situation, the bringing face to face the old and young, the elder generation and the new, had been one of the earliest to attract Turgenef’s thought. His second venture in literature, in 1845, was a poem entitled A Conversation. It was, like Parasha, of the romantic school, and with that has long since disappeared, but Byelinski has left this record of it: “It is a conversation between an old hermit who on the brink of the grave still lives upon the recollection of his past life, so fully, so heartily lived, and a young man who everywhere and in everything has tried life, and nowhere and in nothing finds it not embittered, not made wretched, by some undefined feeding of inward emptiness, of secret dissatisfaction with himself and with life. Every one who lives, and consequently feels himself seized by the malady of our time, an apathy of feeling and of will, with a consuming activity of thought, — every one with deep attention wilL read the beautiful, poetical Conversation of Mr. Tnrgenef, and, reading it deeply, deeply will reflect.”

The theme may be traced in one shape and another through all his work, shifting in place and in character as the times about him changed, till in Fathers and Sons Bazaroff, the young man, is no longer a dreamer, but a doer. No vague Weltschmerz saddens him, but the sharp pain of real, present evil goads him into violent protest. The story is too familiar to need sketching here. The young man returns home from the university convinced of the futility of all the old humanities, scorning all the old traditions, from the little uses so dear to his homely mother’s heart to the faiths which had made the creed of a gentleman in his father’s youth. Denying, protesting the nothingness of all formulæ, of all conventions, refusing to believe in human loves and Sympathies, he is still by the masterly reserve of the author not made a fanatic. He laughs at the old codes of honor, but accepts a challenge, and fights the duel as composedly, as gayly, as the finest gentleman. He scouts love, but he lays at the feet of Madame Odintsof as eager and intense a love as ever man offered woman. He would mock at generosity and selfdenial, but he is quick to help the humble country doctor in the mean hovel of the peasant, and falls a victim to his service. He dies bravely, with all his proud hopes still beckoning him on, like a gallant soldier, plague-stricken, dying helpless in sight of the foe, while the trumpet sounds the charge to battle.

Such is the man of whom his friend Arcadi speaks in affectionate veneration as a nihilist, and to whom Paul Kirsanoff applies the word as a witty sobriquet. What likeness in him to the redhanded agitator of to-day? It is not the first time in history that a party name has traveled far from its original use. Bazaroff permits the name, but he is not a nihilist so truly as a realist. It is not for the nothing that he strives, but for the real. Rid yourselves of empty abstractions, of futile forms, to make room to see things as they really are. Tear away conventional rules so as to penetrate to actual laws. The work he means to do is straightforward enough. Better roads, increase of trade, trustworthy savings-banks, honest administration, free and convenient justice, — these are the objects he will strive for.

Tnrgenef wrote some years after: “ Not in the sense of reproach, not for the purpose of insult, was this word used by me, but as the exact, and fitting expression of a dawning historical fact.” The original of Bazaroff was a young provincial physician who died in 1860. “ In this remarkable man were incarnate before my own eyes the scarcely formed, still fermenting elements of what afterwards received the name of nihilism. The word nihilist employed by me was then made use of by many who were waiting an excuse, a pretext, to hinder a movement stirring in Russian society. It was perverted into an instrument of denunciation, of irrevocable condemnation, almost into a brand of shame.”

He adds this anecdote: “ Quite soon after the book came out, I returned to St. Petersburg, the very day of the famous burning of the Apraxine palace. The word nihilist had already been taken up by a thousand voices, and the first salutation from the first acquaintance meeting me on the Nevski was, ‘ See what your nihilists are doing. They are burning St. Petersburg.’ ”

Meanwhile a violent war was waged over the book. One set of the elders thought themselves ridiculed, and one party of the young liberals felt themselves caricatured and slandered. The author says, “ I felt a coldness amounting to displeasure in many persons near to me and sympathizing with me.” One angry man wrote, “ In derision and contempt we burn your photographic pictures.” On the other side writes one, “ You would think that every modern radical could see only with delighted satisfaction the typical portrait of himself and his party presented in so noble a figure as Bazaroff.” “Neither Fathers nor Sons is the true title of your book,” said a clever woman to Turgenef, “ and you yourself are a nihilist.”

For some time the book unquestionably lessened his popularity. But the reaction in his favor came at last from a strange enough source. Other writers took up the same theme, even one so famous as Pizemski; but the young radicals of their pages were molded of far coarser clay than Bazaroff. The defenders of such books would insist that the figures were faithful copies, that the models themselves had changed; but the majority of young Russia went back to its allegiance to Turgenef, and accepted Bazaroff. A Russian critic writes, “ Our so-called ' liberals ’ esteem Turgenef as one of the first in Russian literature to present in strong relief and in effective outlines the types of the protesting minority. The conservatives value Turgenef for his unequaled style, his strongly elaborated art, and for some of his latest works, the meaning of which has been interpreted by them in a sense entirely contrary to the intention of the author.”

The epithet nihilist had, however, begun a career quite independent of its origin. Perverted at first, as Turgenef said, into a term of reproach, it was applied to the liberals generally; but it passed more and more to the left of the party, till we see it appropriated by a radicalism so extreme that in comparison with it all we are accustomed to call by the name would seem conservative to the last degree. The successive steps can be traced in literature as well as in politics. Virgin Soil shows us directly Turgenef’s view of it after the lapse of eight years. Bazaroff is of 1860; Nejdanoff and Solomine of 1868.

The difference between those to whom it is applied in contempt by the personages of the story and those of whom Turgenef uses it is remarkable. Marianne expresses her sense of Madame Sipiaguine’s aversion : “ In her eyes I am a nihilist.” Kallomeïtsef, “ the veritable Petersburger of high fashion,” thinks the same of Nejdanoff,— “an atheist and a nihilist,” — and “ launches one common philippic against Jacobins abroad, nihilists and socialists at home.” He announces Solomine to Madame Sipiaguine. “ One nihilist has come into your house, and now he brings in another. And the last is worse than the first.” But the man whom Turgenef calls a nihilist is the vain and ignorant Golouchkine. “ He had finished by becoming a nihilist.” His coarse vulgarity shows not one redeeming trait, and in the hour of danger he meanly saves himself by the “ sincere. repentance ” of unstinted bribery.

It is no part of our present purpose to trace the word beyond the pages of Turgenef, but so much that is written about Russia is based on the inference, all despotism is bad, therefore all resistance to it is good, that a word of warning against mistaken sympathy, mistaken admiration, may not be untimely. We have shown to what nihilism had sunk in eight years. Five years later, Leroy Beaulieu, long a close student of Russia, wrote, “ As philosophy it is already out of fashion. It is a depraved childishness, which pushes up even amidst pretensions to maturity. Without study, without research, without method of any kind, all its originality is in its crudity.” He quotes a definition of it by an adept. To English eyes it needs the decent veil of a foreign tongue. “ Prenez la terre et le ciel, prenez la vie et la mort, l’âme et Dieu, et crachez dessus — voilà le nihilisme.” At present a new access of enthusiasm and, it must be admitted, a terribly stern repression have given fresh consequence to the name and the men. Yet said a young Russian just now, who would glory in claiming to be in our sense a radical of radicals, “ I do not see how any civilized being could call himself a Russian nihilist.”

Two facts, not novel, but seldom recognized outside the few students of Russian affairs, ought to be considered in all our judgments of the nihilistic movement. They not only exaggerate its importance in all the accounts we receive, but they do actually help to give greater force to it in itself. The first is the interest of the secret police in maintaining its own value to the government. But for such disturbances its office would soon be a sinecure, and too many are concerned in it to allow themselves to be discarded. Hence they undoubtedly make the most of any suspicion of conspiracy or treason. The second is the fact that the Russian official world is by no means a unit. Each section or each clique and its leaders have their own panacea for quieting the empire. Neither will see any success in the attempts to carry out other plans than their own, nor will they give hearty support to any scheme but their own. Beyond this there is reason to suspect that encouragement has been given to discontent and turbulence by a political party, to serve its own ends.

No one claims or admits that the nihilists have accomplished anything. The harm they do to Russia is negative, in preventing real improvement, in diverting from true service so many to waste their young strength on idle dreams. To call the evil of nihilism a consuming malady is to give it undue dignity; “a nervous convulsion ” is the aptest phrase yet applied to it.

Turgenef himself is proof that a career of the highest usefulness is open to a patriot even in Russia. Over and over again he has pointed out most clearly where the great work now lies. Look through his books with this thought in view, and see how one after another of his personages set themselves to do it. Babourine, Sanine, Areadi, Kirsanoff, Litvinoff, Solomine, devote themselves to the same patient, humble work, the education and improvement of the peasantry. Men of real life are doing it today quietly, scatteredly, but it will tell : and then what contrast to the brutality and uselessness of the arson and assassination of nihilism!

The fame of Turgenef to-day rests on a twofold basis. Abroad he is held “ as without an equal in his own art among the living.” 5 At home the honor paid him for his patriotic service heightens and sometimes surpasses his fame as the great poet (Dichter) of Russia. Rarely has such service been so detached from politics as his. Said one of the speakers at a dinner given in his honor last spring in St. Petersburg, “ You have never been a politician. Your ambition was other, — it was higher. Your name is not in the list of those which are nailed to a staff and carried as a flag, or thundered as the war cry of bitter party strife.” It will not do to infer any of his views from his works except when he speaks in propria persona. Hence he is quoted for the most absurd and contradictory statements. But his characters feel and act independently of his personal bias. They are true to their own position and principle, not his. He says himself, “ I am a radical, incorrigible Occidental, and I never have and I never shall conceal it. Yet I, without regard to this, with special satisfaction brought out in the character of Panshine [in a Nest of Noblemen] all the comic and absurd side of Occidentalism; I made the Slavophile Lavretzki ‘ beat him at all points.’ Why did I do this, — I, who count the Slavophile’s doctrine false and fruitless? Because in the given case, in just such a manner, in my opinion, the life presented itself; and above all I wished to be faithful and true. Sketching the figure of Bazaroff I excluded from the circle of his sympathies all art, not out of unworthy desire to slander the young generation, but simply as the result of my observation of my acquaintance, Dr. D., and persons like him. ‘ This life so presented itself ’ experience again said to me, — mistakenly it may be, but, I insist, conscientiously; it was not for me nicely to alter anything, and I was obliged just so to draw his figure. My personal predilections signify almost nothing; but certainly many of my readers will be surprised if I tell them that, with the exception of the views of Bazaroff on art, I share almost all his convictions. But they assure me that I am on the side of the 1 Fathers,’ — I, who in the figure of Paul Kirsanoff have even sinned against the rules of art, and have pressed, pushed, into caricature his imperfections, have made him ridiculous! ”

Parties change in a quarter of a century, and we cannot expect to find the men of progress now in line with “ the men of the forties;” but the differences of that time still underlie all later ones. To understand them is the first step in approaching Russian questions with intelligence. The Slavophile is not to be confounded with the Panslavist, though they are of one kin. He regards with jealousy and hatred everything not Russian. To his eyes Western Europe is worn out and corrupt, like the Rome of the decadence. The fresh Slavic races, like the Northern barbarians, are to reinvigorate with their new blood effete Europe. Every advocate of Western culture is evil in his eyes, — Peter the Great first and worst of all. His opponent is the Occidental, the Westerner (literally from znpadeet to fall to, zapad the Occident). He is not of the frivolous crowd of depaysés at Baden, whom Turgenef mortally offended by the delicate satire of Smoke, but an earnest worker. Turgenef’s portrait of Byelinski, the literary leader of the party in the forties, is not only a sketch of a typical Zapudnik, but his own picture. For Byelinski read Turgenef, and it is the man himself.

“ He was an 1 Occidental ’ not only in that he recognized the excellence of Western science, Western art, Western social order, but in that he was thoroughly convinced of the necessity of the adoption by Russia of everything worked out, by the West, for the development of her own power, her own importance. He believed that there is for us no other deliverance than to grow in the path pointed out to us by Peter the Great, at whom the Slavophiles were then hurling their choicest thunder-bolts. To accept the results of Western life, to compare them with our own, adapting them to the special needs of race, history, climate, and besides to study them freely, critically, — here was the way by which we might at last attain self-dependence. . . . Byelinski was wholly a Russian, and, more, a patriot. The greatness of Russia, her glory, woke in his heart deep, strong echoes. Yes, Byelinski loved Russia; but he as fervently loved light and freedom,

To unite in one these interests, the highest of all for him, to this was given every thought of his work; for this he strove. . . . He was grateful to the memory of Peter the Great, and recognized him as our deliverer, believing it certain that even before the time of Alexis Michaelovitch he found in our old society and civilization undoubted signs of dissolution; and hence he could not believe in the regular and normal development of our organism, like that which has taken place in the West. The work of Peter the Great was, it is true, violent, — a coup d'état; but only through a whole series of such acts of violence coming from above were we thrust firmly into the family of European nations. The indispensable need of like reforms has not ceased to this very day. . . . What place we have already taken in that family, history shows. But this is certain: that we have gone up to this time, and must hereafter go (to which Messrs. the Slavophiles will surely not agree), in other paths than the more or less organically developed nations of the West.

“ But that the Occidental convictions of Byelinski never by a hair’sbreadth lessened in him his appreciation, his sense of everything Russian, never changed the Russian current which throbbed through his whole being, all his articles prove. Yes, he felt the Russian bent as no one else.”

Byelinski died young, in 1848, his friends consoling themselves for the bitter loss with the poor comfort that, had he lived, only a sadder fate awaited a fearless, eager spirit like his in the Russia of that day. Turgenef has lived to a happier time. His visit to Russia last winter was one continuous triumph. At his arrival “ all Moscow rose to its feet.” The story of his banishment or proscription was pure fiction. He is himself the authority for the explanation of “the official suggestions” so many times insisted on by the telegraph. They meant no doubt of him, no unjust or unfriendly suspicion of his motives. They were but kindly hints, generous warnings, that in the disturbed state of affairs the malcontents might make a base and fatal use of the enthusiasm of his young friends. The visit closed with every mark of honor. At parting, friends and strangers vied with one another in the affectionate veneration, as one speaker said, 14 which a free people pays to the greatest of its citizens, to the dearest of its sons.” It was understood that considerations of health might make this the last of his annual returns to Russia, that this visit might be final. The men who sat round him at the farewell dinner in St. Petersburg listened, sorrowing most of all lest they should see his face no more, as he, calling himself “ a man of the past, an old man,” pledged the young, the future. No gap now separates old Russia, and young. “ One effort, one hope, one ideal, not remote and shadowy, but definite and real, is common to both. ... In vain they begin to point us to a few criminal outbreaks. These occurrences are deeply painful, but to see in them the expression of convictions existing in the majority of our youth would be an injustice, not only cruel, but criminal. The ruling powers that direct and ought to direct in the destinies of our fatherland can estimate more quickly and more exactly than we ourselves all the significance, all the meaning, of the present — I speak frankly — historical moment. On them, on those powers, it depends that all the sons of our great family shall unite in one effectual unanimous service for Russia, — that Russia as history has made her, as the past has made her, to which the future ought rightly and peacefully to join.”

Clara Barnes Martin.

  1. The book has been long out of print in English, fortunately, for it was made from a French translation by Charrière, which the author pronounced “ une véritable mystification littéraire. C’est à ne pas s’y reconnaître.” Generally, of all the books, the German Mittau edition, with the author’s own revision, gives the best translation.
  2. The translations aim only at exact literalness, especially in preserving the figurative use of the Russian words. For these brief passages a close reproduction, not so desirable in a long work, may give a freshness and truth to the original, and compensate for any oddity or stiffness.
  3. The usual term for serfs, as “ hands” was for slaves in the South.
  4. Permission to the serfs to work for themselves on payment of a certain sum. In the hands of a humane master, it was practical freedom.
  5. He was made a D. C. L. at Oxford this year, to his own great gratification.