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Title: A Survey of Russian Literature, with Selections
Author: Hapgood, Isabel Florence, 1850-1928
Language: English
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Transcriber's notes

      1. The Russian names normally do not have any accents; in this
      book they appear to represent the emphasized syllable. The use
      of accents has been standardized, with exception of Alexander
      vs. Alexánder.

      2. Corrected the division into stanzas for a poem "God" (O Thou
      eternal One! whose presence bright) on page 94. The translator
      used nine lines where ten lines were used in the original
      Russian poem.

      3. Several misprints and punctuation errors corrected. A list of
      corrections can be found at the end of the text.

      4. Footnotes moved to chapter-ends.




Author of
"Russian Rambles," and "The Epic Songs of Russia"




New York   Chautauqua   Springfield   Chicago
The Chautauqua Press
Copyright, 1902, by
The Chautauqua Press

The Lakeside Press, Chicago, Ill., U. S. A.
R. R. Donnelley & Sons Company


CHAPTER                                                             PAGE

           INTRODUCTION OF CHRISTIANITY IN 988                         1

           TO THE TATÁR DOMINION, 988-1224                            39

           THE TERRIBLE, 1224-1330                                    47

           THE MIDDLE OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY                      50

           TO THE EPOCH OF REFORM UNDER PETER THE GREAT               61

     VI. FIFTH PERIOD, THE REIGN OF PETER THE GREAT, 1689-1723        66

    VII. SIXTH PERIOD, THE REIGN OF KATHERINE II. 1762-1796           80



           NEKRÁSOFF, SHEVTCHÉNKO, AND OTHERS                        181

     XI. DOSTOÉVSKY                                                  212

           GÓRKY, AND OTHERS                                         229


In this volume I have given exclusively the views of Russian critics
upon their literature, and hereby acknowledge my entire indebtedness to

The limits of the work, and the lack of general knowledge on the
subject, rendered it impossible for me to attempt any comparisons with
foreign literatures.


     NEW YORK, June 6, 1902.




Whether Russia had any literature, or even a distinctive alphabet,
previous to the end of the tenth century, is not known.

In the year 988, Vladímir, Grand Prince of Kíeff, accepted
Christianity for himself and his nation, from Byzantium, and baptized
Russia wholesale. Hence his characteristic title in history,
"Prince-Saint-equal-to-the-Apostles." His grandmother, Olga, had already
been converted to the Greek Church late in life, and had established
churches and priests in Kíeff, it is said. Prince Vladímir could have
been baptized at home, but he preferred to make the Greek form of
Christianity his state religion in a more decided manner; to adopt the
gospel of peace to an accompaniment of martial deeds. Accordingly he
compelled the Emperors of Byzantium, by force, to send the Patriarch of
Constantinople to baptize him, and their sister to become his wife. He
then ordered his subjects to present themselves forthwith for baptism.
Finding that their idols did not punish Vladímir for destroying them,
and that even great Perún the Thunderer did not resent being flung into
the Dniépr, the people quietly and promptly obeyed. As their old
religion had no temples for them to cling to, and nothing approaching a
priestly class (except the _volkhvýe_, or wizards) to encourage them in
opposition, the nation became Christian in a day, to all appearances. We
shall see, however, that in many cases, as in other lands converted from
heathendom, the old gods were merely baptized with new names, in company
with their worshipers.

Together with the religion which he imported from Byzantium,
"Prince-Saint" Vladímir naturally imported, also, priests, architects,
artists for the holy pictures (_ikóni_), as well as the traditional
style of painting them, ecclesiastical vestments and vessels, and--most
precious of all--the Slavonic translation of the holy Scriptures and of
the Church Service books. These books, however, were not written in
Greek, but in the tongue of a cognate Slavonic race, which was
comprehensible to the Russians. Thus were the first firm foundations of
Christianity, education, and literature simultaneously laid in the
cradle of the present vast Russian empire, appropriately called "Little
Russia," of which Kíeff was the capital; although even then they were
not confined to that section of the country, but were promptly extended,
by identical methods, to old Nóvgorod--"Lord Nóvgorod the Great," the
cradle of the dynasty of Rúrik, founder of the line of sovereign Russian

Whence came these Slavonic translations of the Scriptures, the Church
Services, and other books, and the preachers in the vernacular for the
infant Russian nation? The books had been translated about one hundred
and twenty-five years previously, for the benefit of a small Slavonic
tribe, the Moravians. This tribe had been baptized by German
ecclesiastics, whose books and speech, in the Latin tongue, were wholly
incomprehensible to their converts. For fifty years Latin had been used,
and naturally Christianity had made but little progress. Then the
Moravian Prince Róstislaff appealed to Michael, emperor of Byzantium, to
send him preachers capable of making themselves understood. The emperor
had in his dominions many Slavonians; hence the application, on the
assumption that there must be, among the Greek priests, many who were
acquainted with the languages of the Slavonic tribes. In answer to this
appeal, the Emperor Michael dispatched to Moravia two learned monks,
Kyríll and Methódy, together with several other ecclesiastics, in the
year 863.

Kyríll and Methódy were the sons of a grandee, who resided in the chief
town of Macedonia, which was surrounded by Slavonic colonies. The elder
brother, Methódy, had been a military man, and the governor of a
province containing Slavonians. The younger, Kyríll, had received a
brilliant education at the imperial court, in company with the Emperor
Michael, and had been a pupil of the celebrated Photius (afterwards
Patriarch), and librarian of St. Sophia, after becoming a monk. Later
on, the brothers had led the life of itinerant missionaries, and had
devoted themselves to preaching the Gospel to Jews and Mohammedans. Thus
they were in every way eminently qualified for their new task.

The Slavonians in the Byzantine empire, and the cognate tribes who dwelt
nearer the Danube, like the Moravians, had long been in sore need of a
Slavonic translation of the Scriptures and the Church books, since they
understood neither Greek nor Latin; and for the lack of such a
translation many relapsed into heathendom. Kyríll first busied himself
with inventing an alphabet which should accurately reproduce all the
varied sounds of the Slavonic tongues. Tradition asserts that he
accomplished this task in the year 855, founding it upon the Greek
alphabet, appropriating from the Hebrew, Armenian, and Coptic characters
for the sounds which the Greek characters did not represent, and
devising new ones for the nasal sounds. The characters in this alphabet
were thirty-eight in number. Kyríll, with the aid of his brother
Methódy, then proceeded to make his translations of the Church Service
books. The Bulgarians became Christians in the year 861, and these books
were adopted by them. But the greatest activity of the brothers was
during the four and a half years beginning with the year 862, when they
translated the holy Scriptures, taught the Slavonians their new system
of reading and writing, and struggled with heathendom and with the
German priests of the Roman Church. These German ecclesiastics are said
to have sent petition after petition to Rome, to Pope Nicholas I.,
demonstrating that the Word of God ought to be preached in three tongues
only--Hebrew, Greek, and Latin--"because the inscription on the Cross
had been written by Pilate in those tongues only." Pope Nicholas
summoned the brothers to Rome; but Pope Adrian II., who was reigning in
his stead when they arrived there, received them cordially, granted them
permission to continue their preaching and divine services in the
Slavonic language, and even consecrated Methódy bishop of Pannonia;
after which Methódy returned to Moravia, but Kyríll, exhausted by his
labors, withdrew to a monastery near Rome, and died there in 869.

The language into which Kyríll and Methódy translated was probably the
vernacular of the Slavonian tribes dwelling between the Balkans and the
Danube. But as the system invented by Kyríll took deepest root in
Bulgaria (whither, in 886, a year after Methódy's death, his disciples
were banished from Moravia), the language preserved in the ancient
transcripts of the holy Scriptures came in time to be called "Ancient
Bulgarian." In this connection, it must be noted that this does not
indicate the language of the Bulgarians, but merely the language of the
Slavonians who lived in Bulgaria. The Bulgarians themselves did not
belong to the Slavonic, nor even to the Indo-European race, but were of
Ural-Altaic extraction; that is to say, they belonged to the family now
represented in Europe by the Finns, Turks, Hungarians, Tatars, and
Samoyéds. In the seventh century, this people, which had inhabited the
country lying between the Volga and the Don, in southeastern Russia,
became divided: one section moved northward, and settled on the Káma
River, a tributary of the Volga; the other section moved westward, and
made their appearance on the Danube, at the close of the seventh
century. There they subdued a considerable portion of the Slavonic
inhabitants, being a warlike race; but the Slavonians, who were more
advanced in agriculture and more industrious than the Bulgarians,
effected a peaceful conquest over the latter in the course of the two
succeeding centuries, so that the Bulgarians abandoned their own
language and customs, and became completely merged with the Slavonians,
to whom they had given their name.

When the Slavonic translations of the Scriptures and the Church Service
books were brought to Russia from Bulgaria and Byzantium, the language
in which they were written received the name of "Church Slavonic,"
because it differed materially from the Russian vernacular, and was used
exclusively for the church services. Moreover, as in the early days of
Russian literature the majority of writers belonged to the
ecclesiastical class, the literary or book language was gradually
evolved from a mixture of Church Slavonic and ancient Russian; and in
this language all literature was written until the "civil," or secular,
alphabet and language were introduced by Peter the Great, at the
beginning of the eighteenth century. Books were written in "Kyríllian"
characters until the sixteenth century, and the first printed books
(which date from that century) were in the same characters. The most
ancient manuscripts, written previous to the fourteenth century, are
very beautiful, each letter being set separately, and the capital
letters often assuming the form of fantastic beasts and birds, or of
flowers, or gilded. The oldest manuscript of Russian work preserved
dates from the middle of the eleventh century--a magnificent parchment
copy of the Gospels, made by Deacon Grigóry for Ostromír, the
burgomaster of Nóvgorod (1056-1057), and hence known as "the Ostromír

But before we deal with the written and strictly speaking literary works
of Russia, we must make acquaintance with the oral products of the
people's genius, which antedate it, or at all events, contain traces of
such hoary antiquity that history knows nothing definite concerning
them, although they deserve precedence for their originality. Such are
the _skázki_, or tales, the poetical folk-lore, the epic songs, the
religious ballads. The fairy tales, while possessing analogies with
those of other lands, have their characteristic national features.
While less striking and original than, for example, the exquisite
Esthonian legends, they are of great interest in the study of
comparative folk-lore. More important is the poetical folk-lore of
Russia, concerning which neither tradition nor history can give us any
clue in the matter of derivation or date. One thing seems reasonably
certain: it largely consists of the relics of an extensive system of
sorcery, in the form of fragmentary spells, exorcisms, incantations, and
epic lays, or _bylíny_.

Song accompanies every action of the Russian peasant, from the cradle to
the grave: the choral dances of spring, summer, and autumn, the games of
the young people in their winter assemblies, marriages, funerals, and
every phase of life, the sowing and the harvest, and so forth. The kazák
songs, robber songs, soldiers' songs, and historical songs are all
descendants or imitators of the ancient poetry of Russia. They are the
remains of the third--the Moscow or imperial--cycle of the epic songs,
which deals with really historical characters and events. The Moscow
cycle is preceded by the cycles of Vladímir, or Kíeff, and of Nóvgorod.
Still more ancient must be the foundations of the marriage songs, rooted
in the customs of the ancient Slavonians.

The Slavonians do not remember the date of their arrival in Europe.
Tradition says that they first dwelt, after this arrival, along the
Danube, whence a hostile force compelled them to emigrate to the
northeast. At last Nóvgorod and Kíeff were built; and the Russians, the
descendants of these eastern Slavonians, naturally inherited the
religion which must at one time, like the language, have been common to
all the Slavonic races. This religion, like that of all Aryan races,
was founded on reverence paid to the forces of nature and to the spirits
of the dead. Their gods and goddesses represented the forces of nature.
Thus Ládo and Láda, who are frequently mentioned in these ancient songs,
are probably the sun-god, and the goddess of spring and of love,
respectively. Ládo, also, is mentioned as the god of marriage, mirth,
pleasure, and general happiness, to whom those about to marry offered
sacrifices; and much the same is said of the goddess Láda. Moreover, in
the Russian folk-songs, _ládo_ and _láda_ are used, respectively, for
lover, bridegroom, husband, and for mistress, bride, wife; and _lad_, in
Russian, signifies peace, union, harmony. Nestor, the famous old Russian
chronicler (he died in 1114), states that in ancient heathen times,
marriage customs varied somewhat among the various Slavonian tribes in
the vicinity of the Dniéster; but brides were always seized or
purchased. This purchase of the bride is supposed to be represented in
the game and choral song (_khorovód_), called "The Sowing of the
Millet." The singers form two choirs, which face each other and exchange
remarks. The song belongs to the vernal rites, hence the reference to
Ládo, which is repeated after every line--_Did-Ládo_, meaning (in
Lithuanian) Great Ládo:

     First Chorus: We have sown, we have sown millet, Oï, Did-Ládo, we
           have sown!
     Second Chorus: But we will trample it, Oï, Did-Ládo, we will
           trample it.
     First Chorus: But wherewith will ye trample it?
     Second Chorus: Horses will we turn into it.
     First Chorus: But we will catch the horses.
     Second Chorus: Wherewith will ye catch them?
     First Chorus: With a silken rein.
     Second Chorus: But we will ransom the horses.
     First Chorus: Wherewith will ye ransom them?
     Second Chorus: We will give a hundred rubles.
     First Chorus: A thousand is not what we want.
     Second Chorus: What is it then, that ye want?
     First Chorus: What we want is a maiden.

Thereupon, one of the girls of the second choir goes over to the first,
both sides singing together: "Our band has lost," and "Our band has
gained." The game ends when all the girls have gone over to one side.

The funeral wails are also very ancient. While at the present day a very
talented wailer improvises a new plaint, which her associates take up
and perpetuate, the ancient forms are generally used.

    From the side of the East,
    The wild winds have arisen,
    With the roaring thunders
    And the lightnings fiery.
    On my father's grave
    A star hath fallen,
    Hath fallen from heaven.
    Split open, O dart of the thunder!
    Damp Mother Earth,
    Fall thou apart, O Mother Earth!
    On all four sides,
    Split open, O coffin planks,
    Unfold, O white shroud,
    Fall away, O white hands
    From over the bold heart,
    And become parted, O ye sweet lips.
    Turn thyself, O mine own father
    Into a bright, swift-winged falcon;
    Fly away to the blue sea, to the Caspian Sea,
    Wash off, O mine own father,
    From thy white face the mold.
    Come flying, O my father
    To thine own home, to the lofty térem.[1]
    Listen, O my father,
    To our songs of sadness!

The Christmas and New-Year carols offer additional illustrations of the
ancient heathen customs, and mythic or ritual poetry. The festival which
was almost universally celebrated at Christmas-tide, in ancient heathen
times, seems to have referred to the renewed life attributed to the sun
after the winter solstice. The Christian church turned this festival, so
far as possible, into a celebration of the birth of Christ. Among the
Slavonians this festival was called _Kolyáda_; and the sun--a female
deity--was supposed to array herself in holiday robes and head-dress,
when the gloom of the long nights began to yield to the cheerful lights
of the lengthening days, to seat herself in her chariot, and drive her
steeds briskly towards summer. She, like the festival, was called
Kolyáda; and in some places the people used to dress up a maiden in
white and carry her about in a sledge from house to house, while the
_kolyádki_, or carols, were sung by the train of young people who
attended her, and received presents in return. One of the _kolyádki_
runs as follows:

    Kolyáda! Kolyáda!
    Kolyáda has arrived!
    On the Eve of the Nativity,
    We went about, we sought Holy Kolyáda;
    Through all the courts, in all the alleys.
    We found Kolyáda in Peter's Court.
    Round Peter's Court there is an iron fence,
    In the midst of the Court there are three rooms;
    In the first room is the bright Moon;
    In the second room is the red Sun;
    And in the third room are the many Stars.

A Christian turn is given to many of them, just as the Mermen bear a
special Biblical name in some places, and are called "Pharaohs"; for
like the seals on the coast of Iceland, they are supposed to be the
remnants of Pharaoh's host, which was drowned in the Red Sea. One of the
most prominent and interesting of these Christianized carols is the
_Sláva_, or Glory Song. Extracts from it have been decoratively and most
appropriately used on the artistic programmes connected with the
coronation of the Emperor Nicholas II. This Glory Song is used in the
following manner: The young people assemble together to deduce omens
from the words that are sung, while trinkets belonging to each person
present are drawn at random from a cloth-covered bowl, in which they
have been deposited. This is the first song of the series:

    Glory to God in Heaven, Glory!
    To our Lord[2] on this earth, Glory!
    May our Lord never grow old, Glory!
    May his bright robes never be spoiled, Glory!
    May his good steeds never be worn out, Glory!
    May his trusty servants never falter, Glory!
    May the right throughout Russia, Glory!
    Be fairer than the bright sun, Glory!
    May the Tzar's golden treasury, Glory!
    Be forever full to the brim, Glory!
    May the great rivers, Glory!
    Bear their renown to the sea, Glory!
    The little streams to the mill, Glory!
    But this song we sing to the Grain, Glory!
    To the Grain we sing, the Grain we honor, Glory!
    For the old folks to enjoy, Glory!
    For the young folks to hear, Glory![3]

Another curious old song, connected with the grain, is sung at the
New-Year. Boys go about from house to house, scattering grain of
different sorts, chiefly oats, and singing:

    In the forest, in the pine forest,
    There stood a pine-tree,
    Green and shaggy.
    O, Ovsén! O, Ovsén!
    The Boyárs came,
    Cut down the pine,
    Sawed it into planks,
    Built a bridge,
    Covered it with cloth,
    Fastened it with nails,
    O, Ovsén! O, Ovsén!
    Who, who will go
    Along that bridge?
    Ovsén will go there,
    And the New-Year,
    O, Ovsén! O, Ovsén!

Ovsén, whose name is derived from Ovés (oats, pronounced _avyós_), like
the Teutonic Sun-god, is supposed to ride a pig or a boar. Hence
sacrifices of pigs' trotters, and other pork products, were offered to
the gods at the New-Year, and such dishes are still preferred in Russia
at that season. It must be remembered that the New-Year fell on March
1st in Russia until 1348; then the civil New-Year was transferred to
September 1st, and January 1st was instituted as the New-Year by Peter
the Great only in the year 1700.

The highest stage of development reached by popular song is the heroic
epos--the rhythmic story of the deeds of national heroes, either
historical or mythical. In many countries these epics were committed to
writing at a very early date. In western Europe this took place in the
Middle Ages, and they are known to the modern world in that form only,
their memory having completely died out among the people. But Russia
presents the striking phenomenon of a country where epic song, handed
down wholly by oral tradition for nearly a thousand years, is not only
flourishing at the present day in certain districts, but even extending
into fresh fields.

It is only within the last sixty years that the Russians have become
generally aware that their country possesses this wonderfully rich
treasure of epic, religious, and ceremonial songs. In some cases, the
epic lay and the religious ballad are curiously combined, as in "The One
and Forty Pilgrims," which is generally classed with the epic songs,
however. But while the singing of the epic songs is not a profession,
the singing of the religious ballads is of a professional character, and
is used as a means of livelihood by the _kalyéki perekhózhie_,
literally, wandering cripples, otherwise known as wandering
psalm-singers. These _stikhí_, or religious ballads, are even more
remarkable than the epic songs in some respects, and practically nothing
concerning them is accessible in English.

In all countries where the Roman Church reigned supreme in early times,
it did its best to consign all popular religious poetry to oblivion. But
about the seventeenth century it determined to turn such fragments as
had survived this procedure to its own profit. Accordingly they were
written over in conformity with its particular tenets, for the purpose
of inculcating its doctrines. Both courses were equally fatal to the
preservation of anything truly national. Incongruousness was the
inevitable result.

The Greek, or rather the Russo-Greek, Church adopted precisely the
opposite course: it never interfered, in the slightest degree, with
popular poetry, either secular or religious. Christianity, therefore,
merely enlarged the field of subjects. The result is, that the Slavonic
peoples (including even, to some extent, the Roman Catholic Poles)
possess a mass of religious poetry, the like of which, either in kind or
in quantity, is not to be found in all western Europe.

It is well to note, at this point, that the word _stikh_ (derived from
an ancient Greek word) is incorporated into the modern Russian word for
poetry, _stikhotvorénie_--verse-making, literally rendered--and it has
now become plain that Lomonósoff, the father of Russian Literature, who
was the first secular Russian poet, and polished the ancient tongue into
the beginning of the modern literary language, about the middle of the
eighteenth century, did not originate his verse-measures, but derived
them from the common people, the peasants, whence he himself sprang.
Modern Russian verse, therefore, is thus traced back directly, in its
most national traits, to these religious ballads. It is impossible to
give any adequate account of them here, and it is especially difficult
to convey an adequate idea of the genuine poetry and happy phrasing
which are often interwoven with absurdities approaching the grotesque.

The ballads to which we shall briefly refer are full of illustrations of
the manner in which old pagan gods became Christian deities, so to
speak, of the newly baptized nation. For example: Perún the Thunder-god
became, in popular superstition, "St. Ilyá" (or Elijah), and the day
dedicated to him, July 20th (old style), is called "Ilyá the
Thunder-bringer." Elijah's fiery chariot, the lightning, rumbling across
the sky, brings a thunder-storm on or very near that date; and although
Perún's name is forgotten in Russia proper, he still remains, under his
new title, the patron of the husbandman, as he was in heathen times. In
the epic songs of the Vladímir cycle, as well as in the semi-religious
and religious ballads, he figures as the strongest and most popular
hero, under the name of "Ilyá Múrometz (Ilyá of Múrom), the Old Kazák,"
and his characteristic feats, as well as those attributed to his "heroic
steed, Cloud-fall," are supposed, by the school of Russian writers who
regard all these poems as cosmic myths, rather than as historical poems,
to preserve the hero's mythological significance as the Thunder-god

He plays a similar part in the very numerous religious ballads on the
Last Judgment. St. Michael acts as the judge. Some "sinful souls" commit
the gross error of attempting to bribe him: whereupon, Michael shouts,
"Ilyá the Prophet! Anakh! Take ye guns with great thunder! Move ye the
Pharaoh mountains of stone! Let me not hear from these sinners, neither
a whine nor a whimper!"

In Lithuania the Thunder-god's ancient name is still extant in its
original form of Perkun; the Virgin Mary is called, "Lady Mary
Perkunatele" (or "The Mother of Thunder"), according to a Polish
tradition; and in the Russian government of Vilna, the 2d of February is
dedicated to "All-Holy Mary the Thunderer." It is evidently in this
character that she plays a part similar to that of St. Michael and Ilyá
the Prophet combined, as above mentioned, in another ballad of the Last
Judgment. She appears in this ballad to be the sole inhabitant of
heaven, judge and executioner. With her "thundering voice" she condemns
to outer darkness all who have not paid her proper respect, promising to
bury them under "damp mother earth and burning stones." To the just,
that is, to those who have paid her due homage, she says: "Come, take
the thrones, the golden crowns, the imperishable robes which I have
prepared for you; and if this seem little to you, ye shall work your
will in heaven."

St. Yegóry the Brave--our St. George--possesses many of the attributes
of Perún. He is, however, a purely mythical character, and the extremely
ancient religious poems relating to him present the most amusing mixture
of Christianity and Greek mythology, as in the following example:

In the year 8008 (the old Russian reckoning, like the Jewish, began with
the creation of the world), the kingdoms of Sodom, Komor (Gomorrah), and
Arabia met their doom. Sodom dropped through the earth, Komor was
destroyed by fire, and Arabia was afflicted by a sea-monster which
demanded a human victim every day. This victim was selected by lot; and
one day the lot fell upon the king; but at the suggestion of the queen,
who hated her daughter, Elizabeth the Fair, the girl was sent in his
place, under the pretext that she was going to meet her bridegroom.
Yegóry the Brave comes to her assistance, as Perseus did to the
assistance of Andromeda, but lies down for a nap while awaiting the
arrival of the dragon. The beast approaches; Elizabeth dares not awaken
Yegóry, but a "burning tear" from her right eye arouses him. He attacks
the dragon with his spear, and his "heroic steed" (which is sometimes a
white mule) tramples on it, after the fashion with which we are familiar
in art. Then he binds Elizabeth's sash, which is "five and forty ells in
length," about the dragon's jaws, and bids the maiden have three
churches built in honor of her deliverance: one to St. Nicholas and the
Holy Trinity, one to the All-Holy Birth-giver of God, and one to Yegóry
the Brave. Elizabeth the Fair then returns to town, leading the tamed
dragon by her sash, to the terror of the inhabitants and to the disgust
of her mother. The three churches are duly built, and Christianity is
promptly adopted as the state religion of Arabia. In another ballad,
Yegóry is imprisoned for thirty years in a pit under the ground, because
he will not accept the "Latin-Mussulman faith."

Among the most ancient religious ballads, properly speaking, are: "The
Dove Book," "The Merciful Woman of Compassion" (or "The Alleluia
Woman"), "The Wanderings of the All-Holy Birth-giver of God," in
addition to the songs about Yegóry the Brave, already mentioned. The
groundwork of "The Dove Book" is of very ancient heathen origin, and
almost identical with the oldest religious songs of the Greeks. The book
itself is somewhat suggestive of the "little book" in Revelation. "The
Dove Book" falls from Alatýr, the "burning white stone on the Island of
Buyán," the heathen Paradise, which corresponds to our Fortunate Isles
of the Blest, in the Western Sea, but lies far towards sunrise, in the
"Ocean Sea." The heathen significance of this stone is not known, but it
is cleverly explained in "The Dove Book" as the stone whereon Christ
stood when he preached to his disciples. This "little book," "forty
fathoms long and twenty wide," was written by St. John the Evangelist,
and no man can read it. The prophet Isaiah deciphered only three pages
of it in as many years. But the "Most Wise Tzar David" undertakes to
give, from memory, the book's answers to various questions put to him by
Tzar Vladímir, as spokesman of a throng of emperors and princes. A great
deal of curious information is conveyed--all very poetically
expressed--including some odd facts in natural history, such as: that
the ostrich is the mother of birds, and that she lives, feeds, and rears
her young on the blue sea, drowning mariners and sinking ships. Whenever
she (or the whale on which the earth rests) moves, an earthquake ensues.
There are several versions of this ballad. The following abridged
extracts, from one version, will show its style. Among the questions put
to "the Most Wise Tzar David" by Prince Vladímir are some touching "the
works of God, and our life; our life of holy Russia, our life in the
free world; how the free light came to us; why our sun is red; why our
stars are thickly sown; why our nights are dark; what causes our red
dawns; why we have fine, drizzling rains; whence cometh our intellect;
why our bones are strong"; and so forth.

Tzar David replies: "Our free white light began at God's decree; the sun
is red from the reflection of God's face, of the face of Christ, the
King of Heaven; the younger light, the moon, from his bosom cometh; the
myriad stars are from his vesture; the dark nights are the Lord's
thoughts; the red dawns come from the Lord's eyes; the stormy winds from
the Holy Spirit; our intellects from Christ himself, the King of Heaven;
our thoughts from the clouds of heaven; our world of people from Adam;
our strong bones from the stones; our bodies from the damp earth; our
blood from the Black Sea." In answer to other questions, Tzar David
explains that "the Jordan is the mother of all rivers, because Jesus
Christ was baptized in it; the cypress is the mother of all trees,
because Christ was crucified on it; the ocean is the mother of all seas,
because in the middle of the ocean-sea rose up a cathedral church, the
goal of all pilgrimages, the cathedral of St. Clement, the pope of Rome;
from this cathedral the Queen of Heaven came forth, bathed herself in
the ocean-sea, prayed to God in the cathedral," which is a very unusual
touch of Romanism.

The ancient religious ballads have no rhyme; and, unlike the epic songs,
no fixed rhythm. The presence of either rhyme or rhythm is an indication
of comparatively recent origin or of reconstruction in the sixteenth

"The Merciful Woman of Compassion," or "The Alleluia Woman," dates from
the most ancient Christian tradition, and is a model of simplicity and
beauty. It is allied to the English ballad of "The Flight into Egypt"
(which also occurs among the Christmas carols of the Slavonians of the
Carpathian Mountains), in which the Virgin Mary works a miracle with the
peasant's grain, in order to save Christ from the Jews in pursuit. The
Virgin comes to the "Alleluia Woman," with the infant Christ in her
arms, saying: "Cast thy child into the oven, and take Christ the Lord in
thy lap. His enemies, the Jews, are hastening hither; they seek to kill
Christ the Lord with sharp spears." The Alleluia Woman obeys, without an
instant's hesitation. When the Jews arrive, immediately afterwards, and
inquire if Christ has passed that way, she says she has thrown him into
the oven. The Jews are convinced of the truth of her statement, by the
sight of a child's hand amid the flames; whereupon they dance for joy,
and depart, after fastening an iron plate over the oven door. Christ
vanishes from the arms of the merciful woman; she remembers her own
child and begins to weep. Then Christ's voice assures her that he is
well and happy. On opening the oven door, she beholds her baby playing
with the flowers in a rich green meadow, reading the Gospels, or rolling
an apple on a platter, and comforted by angels.

"The Wanderings of the All-Holy Birth-giver of God," another very
ancient ballad, represents the Virgin Mother wandering among the
mountains in search of Christ. She encounters three Jews; and in answer
to her query, "Accursed Jews, what have ye done with Christ?" they
inform her that they have just crucified him on Mount Zion. She hastens
thither, and swoons on arriving. When she recovers, she makes her
lament, and her _plakh_, or wail, beginning: "O, my dear son, why didst
thou not obey thy mother?" Christ comforts her, telling her that he
shall rise again, and bidding her: "Do not weep and spoil thy beauty." A
form of the ballad which is common in Little Russia reverses the
situation. It is the Jews who inquire of Mary what she has done with her
son. "Into the river I flung him," she promptly replies. They drain the
river, and find him not. Again they ask, "Under the mountains I buried
him." They dig up the mountains, and find him not. At last they discover
a church, and in it three coffins. Over the Holy Virgin's, the birds are
warbling or flowers are blossoming; over John the Baptist's, lights are
burning; over Christ's, angels are singing.

As might be expected, the Holy Virgin is a very popular subject of song.
In numerous ballads she delivers a temperance lecture to St. Vasíly the
Great on his drunkenness, putting to him various questions, such as,
"Who sleeps through matins? Who walks and riots during the liturgy?"
[St. Vasíly being the author of a liturgy which is used on certain
important occasions during the church year.] "Who has unwashed hands?
Who is a murderer?" and so on, through a long list of peccadilloes and
crimes. The answer to each question is, "The drunkard." Poor St. Vasíly
dashes his head against a stone, and threatens to put an end to himself
on the spot, if his one lapse in five and twenty years be not forgiven.
Accordingly the Holy Virgin steps down from her throne, gives him her
hand, and informs him that the Lord has three mansions: one is the House
of David, where the Last Judgment will take place; through the second
flows a river of fire, the destination of wizards, drunkards, and the
like; and the third is Paradise, the home of the elect. The imagery in
the very numerous and ancient poems on the Last Judgment, by the way, is
purely heathen in character. The ferryman over the river of fire
sometimes acts as the judge, and the punishments to which sinners are
condemned by him recall those mentioned in the Æneid, and in Dante's
Divina Commedia, the frescoes on the walls of churches bearing out the
same idea.

Adam and Eve naturally receive a share of the minstrel's attention, and
"Adam's Wail" before the gates of Paradise is often very touching. In a
ballad from White Russia, Adam begs the Lord to permit him to revisit
Paradise. The Lord accordingly gives orders to "St. Peter-Paul" to admit
Adam to Paradise, to have the song of the Cherubim sung for him, and so
forth; but not to allow him to remain. In the midst of Paradise Adam
beholds his coffin and wails before it: "O, my coffin, coffin, my true
home! Take me, O my coffin, as a mother her own child, to thy white
arms, to thy ruddy face, to thy warm heart!" But "St. Peter-Paul" soon
catches sight of him, and tells him that he has no business to be
strolling about and spying out Paradise; his place is on Zion's hill,
where he will be shown books of magic, and of life, and things in

There is a great mass of poetry devoted to Joseph; and a lament to
"Mother Desert," uttered as he is being led away into captivity by the
merchants to whom his brethren have sold him, soon becomes the
groundwork for variations in which the Scripture story is entirely
forgotten. In these Joseph is always a "Tzarévitch," or king's son, his
father being sometimes David, sometimes "the Tzar of India," or of "the
Idolaters' Land," or some such country. He is confined in a tower,
because the soothsayers have foretold that he will become a Christian
(or because he is already a Christian he shuts himself up). One day he
is permitted to ride about the town, and although all old people have
been ordered to keep out of sight, he espies one aged cripple, and thus
learns that his father has grossly deceived him, in asserting that no
one ever becomes old or ill in his kingdom. He forthwith becomes a
Christian, and flees to the desert. Then comes his wail to "Mother
Desert Most Fair," as she stands "afar off in the valley": "O Desert
fair, receive me to thy depths, as a mother her own child, and a pastor
his faithful sheep, into thy voiceless quiet, beloved mother mine!"
"Mother Desert" proceeds to remonstrate with her "beloved child": "Who
is to rule," she says, "over thy kingdom, thy palaces of white stone,
thy young bride? When spring cometh, all the lakes will be aflood, all
the trees will be clothed with verdure, heavenly birds will warble
therein with voices angelic: in the desert thou wilt have none of this;
thy food will be fir-bark, thy drink marsh-water." Nevertheless, "Joseph
Tzarévitch" persists in his intention, and Mother Desert receives him at
last. Most versions of this ballad are full of genuine poetry, but a few
are rather ludicrous: for example, "Mother Desert" asks Joseph, "How
canst thou leave thy sweet viands and soft feather-beds to come to me?"

Of David, strange to say, we find very little mention, save in the "Dove
Book," or as the father of Joseph, or of some other equally preposterous

Among the ballads on themes drawn from the New Testament, those relating
to the birth of Christ, and the visit of the Wise Men; to John the
Baptist, and to Lazarus, are the most numerous. The Three Wise Men
sometimes bring queer gifts. One ballad represents them as being
Lithuanians, and only two in number, who bring Christ offerings of
_botvínya_--a savory and popular dish, in the form of a soup served
cold, with ice, and composed of small beer brewed from sour, black, rye
bread, slightly thickened with strained spinach, in which float cubes of
fresh cucumber, the green tops of young onions, cold boiled fish,
horseradish, bacon, sugar, shrimps, any cold vegetables on hand, and
whatever else occurs to the cook. Joseph stands by the window, holding a
bowl and a spoon, and stares at the gift. "Queer people, you
Lithuanians," he remarks. "Christ doesn't eat _botvínya_. He eats only
rolls with milk and honey (or rolls and butter)." In one case, the Three
Wise Men appear as three buffaloes bringing gifts; in another as "the
fine rain, the red sun, and the bright moon," showing that nature
worship can assume a very fair semblance of Christianity.

Christ's baptism is sometimes represented by his mother bathing him in
the river; and this is thought to stand for the weary sun which is
bathed every night in the ocean. A "Legend of the Sun," whose
counterpart can be found in other lands, represents the sun as being
attended by flaming birds, who dip their wings in the ocean at night and
sprinkle him, and by angels who carry his imperial robe and crown to the
Lord's throne every night, and clothe him again in them every morning,
while the cock proclaims the "resurrection of all things." In the
Christmas carols, angels perform the same offices, and the flaming
phoenix-birds are omitted.

The Apostle Peter's timid and disputatious character seems to be well
understood by the people. One day, according to a ballad, he gets into a
dispute with the Lord, as to which is the larger, heaven or earth. "The
earth," declares St. Peter; "Heaven," maintains the Lord. "But let us
not quarrel. Call down two or three angels to measure heaven and earth
with a silken cord. So was it done; and lo! St. Peter was right, and the
Lord was wrong! Heaven is the smaller, because it is all level, while
the earth has hills and valleys!"

On another occasion, "all the saints were sitting at table, except the
Holy Spirit." "Peter, Peter, my servant," says the Lord, "go bring the
Holy Spirit." Peter has not traversed half the road, when he encounters
a wondrous marvel, a fearful fire. He trembles with fear and turns
back. "Why hast thou not brought the Holy Spirit?" inquires the Lord.
Peter explains. "Ho, Peter, that is no marvel! that is the Holy Spirit.
Thou shouldst have brought it hither and placed it on the table. All the
saints would have rejoiced that the Holy Spirit sat before them!"

The Lazarus ballads illustrate how the people turn Scriptural characters
into living realities, by incorporating their own observations on human
nature with the sacred text. According to them, Lazarus and Dives were
two brothers, both named Lazarus; the younger rich, the elder poor. Poor
Lazarus begs alms of his brother: "How dare you call me brother?"
retorts rich Lazarus. "I have brothers like myself--princes, nobles,
wealthy merchants, who fare sumptuously and dress richly. Even the
church dignitaries visit me. Your brethren are the fierce dogs which lie
under my table and gather up the fragments. I fear not God, I will buy
off intrusive death, I will attain to the kingdom of heaven; and if I
attain not thereunto, I will buy it!" Thereupon, he sets the dogs on his
brother, spits in his eye, locks the gates, and goes back to his
feasting. The dogs which are set upon poor Lazarus bring him their food,
instead of rending him. After three efforts to move his brother to
compassion, poor Lazarus entreats the Lord to let him die: "Send sudden
death, Lord, winged but not merciful," he prays. "Send two threatening
angels; let them take out my unclean soul through my side with a hook,
my little soul through my ribs, with a spear and with iron hooks; let
them place my soul under their left wing, and carry it to the nethermost
hell, to burning pitch and the river of fire. All my life have I
suffered hunger and cold, and my whole body hath been full of pains. It
is not for me, a poor cripple, to enter Paradise." (This is in
accordance with the uncomfortable Russian belief that a man's rank and
station in this life determine his fate in the other world.) But the
Lord gives orders to have everything done in precisely the opposite way.
Holy angels remove Lazarus's soul gently, through his "sugar mouth"
(referring, possibly, to the Siberian belief that the soul is located in
the windpipe) wrap it in a white cloth, and carry it to Abraham's bosom.
After a while rich Lazarus is overtaken by misfortune and illness, and
he, also, prays for speedy death, minutely specifying how his "large,
clean soul," is to be handled and deposited in Abraham's bosom. He
acknowledges that he has committed a few trivial sins, but mentions,
with pride, in extenuation, that he has never worn anything but velvet
and satin, and that he formerly possessed great store of "flowered
garments." Again the Lord gives contrary orders, and rich Lazarus
undergoes the treatment which his poor brother had indicated for his own
soul. When rich Lazarus looks up from his torment and beholds poor
Lazarus in Abraham's bosom, he addresses him as "Brother, my own
brother." Here one version comes to a sudden end, and the collector who
transcribed it, asked: "What?" "He repented," answered the peasant woman
who sang it, "and called him 'brother' when he saw that he was well
off." In other versions, a long conversation ensues, in the course of
which poor Lazarus reminds rich Lazarus of numerous sins of omission and
commission, and inquires, with great apparent solicitude, what has
become of all his gold, silver, flowered garments, and so forth, and
assures him that he would gladly give him not a drop but a whole
bucketful of water were he permitted to do so.

But to the share of no saint does a greater number of songs (and
festivals) fall than to that of John the Baptist. In addition to June
24th, which still bears the heathen name of _Kupálo_, in connection with
St. John's Eve, and which is celebrated by the peasants in as thoroughly
heathen a fashion as is the Christmas festival, in honor of the
Sun-goddess, Kolyáda, he has three special days dedicated to him. Two of
these deserve mention, because of a curious superstition attached to
them. On St. John's Day, May 25th, the peasants set out their cabbages;
but on the autumn St. John's Day, August 29th, they must carefully avoid
all contact with cabbages, because it is the anniversary of the
beheading of John; no knife must be taken in the hand on that day, and
it is considered a great crime to cut anything, particularly anything
round, resembling a head. If a cabbage be cut, blood will flow; if
anything round be eaten--onions, for example--carbuncles will follow.

In concluding this brief sketch of the religious ballads of the
Slavonians, I venture to quote at length, a masterpiece of the Wandering
Cripples' art. It is a Montenegrin version of a legend which is common
to all the Slavonic peoples, and contains, besides an interesting
problem in ethics, an explanation of the present shape of the human
foot. In some versions the emperor's crown is replaced, throughout, by
"the bright sun," thus suggesting a mythological origin. It is called
"The Emperor Diocletian and John the Baptist."

    Two foster brothers were drinking wine,
    On a sunny slope by the salt seaside;
    One was the Emperor Diocletian,
    The other, John the Baptist.
    Then up spake John the Baptist
    As they did drink the wine:
    "Foster brother, come now, let us play.
    Use thou thy crown; but I will take an apple."
    Then up they jumped, began to play,
    And St. John flung his apple.
    Down in the depths of the sea it fell
    And his warm tears trickled down.
    But the emperor held this speech to him:
    "Now weep not, dear my brother,
    Only carry thou not my crown away
    And I will fetch thy apple."
    Then did John swear to him by God
    That he would not steal the crown.
    The emperor swam out into the sea,
    But John flew up to heaven,
    Presented himself before the Lord,
    And held this speech to him:
    "Eternal God, and All-Holy Father!
    May I swear falsely by thee?
    May I steal the emperor's crown?"
    The Lord replied:
    "O John, my faithful servant!
    Thrice shalt thou swear falsely by me,
    Only, by my name must thou not swear."
    St. John flew back to the sunny slope,
    And the emperor emerged from the sea.
    Again they played; again John flung his apple;
    Again it fell into the depths of the sea.
    But Diocletian, the emperor, said to him:
    "Now, fear thou not, dear brother,
    Only carry thou my crown not away,
    And I will fetch thy apple."
    Then did John swear to him by God,
    Thrice did he swear to him by God
    That he would not steal his crown.
    The emperor threw his crown under his cap,
    Beside them left the bird of ill omen,
    And plunged into the blue sea.
    St. John froze over the sea,
    With a twelve-fold ice-crust he froze it o'er,
    Seized the golden crown, flew on high to heaven.
    And the bird of ill omen began to caw.
    The emperor, at the bottom of the sea, divined the cause,
    Raced up, as for a wager,
    Brake three of the ice-crusts with his head,
    Then back turned he again, took a stone upon his head,
    A little stone of three thousand pounds,
    And brake the twelve-fold ice.
    Then unfolded he his wings,
    Set out in pursuit of John,
    Caught up with him at the gate of heaven,
    Seized him by his right foot,
    And what he grasped, he tore away.
    In tears came John before the Lord;
    The bright sun brought he to heaven,
    And John complained unto the Lord,
    That the emperor had crippled him.
    And the Lord said:
    "Fear not, my faithful servant!
    I will do the same to every man."
    Such is the fact, and to God be the glory!

"Therefore," say the Servians, in conclusion of their version of this
ballad, "God has made a hollow in the sole of every human being's foot."

The Epic Songs, properly speaking, are broadly divisible into three
groups: the Cycle of Vladímir, or of Kíeff; that of Nóvgorod; and that
of Moscow, or the Imperial Cycle, the whole being preceded by the songs
of the elder heroes. With regard to the first two, and the Kíeff Cycle
in particular, undoubtedly composed during the tenth, eleventh, and
twelfth centuries, authorities on the origin of Russian literature
differ considerably. One authority maintains that, although the Russian
epics possess a family likeness to the heroic legends of other Aryan
races, the Russians forgot them, and later on, appropriated them again
from Ural-Altaic sources, adding a few historical and geographical
names, and psychical characteristics. But this view as to the wholesale
appropriation of Oriental myths has not been established, and the
authorities who combat it demonstrate that the heroes are thoroughly
Russian, and that the pictures of manners and customs which they present
are extremely valuable for their accuracy. They would seem, on the
whole, to be a characteristic mixture of natural phenomena (nature
myths), personified as gods, who became in course of time legendary
heroes. Thus, Prince Vladímir, "the Fair Red Sun," may be the Sun-god,
but he is also a historical personage, whatever may be said as to many
of the other characters in the epic lays of the Vladímir cycle. "Sadkó,
the rich Guest of Nóvgorod," also, in the song of that title, belonging
to the Nóvgorod cycle, was a prominent citizen of Nóvgorod, who built a
church in Nóvgorod, during the twelfth century, and is referred to in
the Chronicles for a space of two hundred years. In fact, the Nóvgorod
cycle contains less of the personified phenomena of nature than the
cycle of the Elder Heroes, and the Kíeff cycle, and more of the genuine
historical element.

A regular tonic versification forms one of the indispensable properties
of these epic poems; irregularity of versification is a sign of decay,
and a complete absence of measure, that is to say, the prose form, is
the last stage of decay. The airs to which they are sung or chanted are
very simple, consisting of but few tones, yet are extremely difficult
to note down. The peasant bard modifies the one or two airs to which he
chants his lays with astonishing skill, according to the testimony of
Rýbnikoff, who made the first large collection of the songs, in the
Olónetz government (1859), and Hilferding, who made a still more
surprising collection (1870), to the north and east of Olónetz.

The lay of Sadkó, above mentioned, is perhaps the most famous--the one
most frequently alluded to in Russian literature and art. Sadkó was a
harper of "Lord Nóvgorod the Great." "No golden treasures did he
possess. He went about to the magnificent feasts of the merchants and
nobles, and made all merry with his playing." Once, for three days in
succession, he was bidden to no worshipful feast, and in his sorrow he
went and played all day long, upon the shore of Lake Ílmen. On the third
day, the Water King appears to him, and thanks him for entertaining his
guests in the depths. He directs Sadkó to return to Nóvgorod, and on the
morrow, when he shall be bidden to a feast, and the banqueters begin the
characteristic brags of their possessions, Sadkó must wager his
"turbulent head" against the merchants' shop in the bazaar, with all the
precious wares therein, that Lake Ílmen contains fishes with fins of
gold. Sadkó wins the bet; for the Tzar Vodyanóy sends up the fish to be
caught in the silken net. Thus did Sadkó become a rich guest (merchant
of the first class) of Nóvgorod, built himself a palace of white stone,
wondrously adorned, and became exceeding rich. He also held worshipful
feasts, and out-bragged the braggers, declaring that he would buy all
the wares in Nóvgorod, or forfeit thirty thousand in money. As he
continues to buy, wares continue to flow into this Venice of the North,
and Sadkó decides that it is the part of wisdom to pay his thirty
thousand. He then builds "thirty dark red ships and three," of the
dragon type, lades them with the wares of Nóvgorod, and sails out into
the open sea, via the river Vólkhoff, Lake Ládoga, and the Nevá. After a
while the ships stand still and will not stir, though the waves dash and
the breeze whistles through the sails. Sadkó arrives at the conclusion
that the Sea King demands tribute, as they have now been sailing the
seas for twelve years, and have paid none. They cast into the waves
casks of red gold, pure silver, and fair round pearls; but still the
ships move not. Sadkó then proposes that each man on board shall prepare
for himself a lot, and cast it into the sea, and the man whose lot sinks
shall consider himself the sacrifice which the Sea King requires.
Sadkó's lot persists in sinking, whether he makes it of hop-flowers or
of blue damaskeened steel, four hundred pounds in weight; and all the
other lots swim, whether heavy or light. Accordingly Sadkó perceives
that he is the destined victim, and taking his harp, a holy image of St.
Nicholas (the patron of travelers), and bowls of precious things with
him, he has himself abandoned on an oaken plank, while his ships sailed
off, and "flew as they had been black ravens." He sinks to the bottom,
and finds himself in the palace of the Sea King, who makes him play,
while he, the fair sea-maidens, and the other sea-folk dance violently.
But the Tzarítza warns Sadkó to break his harp, for it is the waves
dancing on the shore, and creating terrible havoc. The Tzar Morskóy then
requests Sadkó to select a wife; and guided again by the Tzarítza's
advice, Sadkó selects the last of the nine hundred maidens who file
before him--a small, black-visaged maiden, named Tchernáva. Had he
chosen otherwise, he is told, he would never again behold "the white
world," but must "forever abide in the blue sea." After a great feast
which the Sea King makes for him, Sadkó falls into a heavy sleep, and
when he awakens from it, he finds himself on the bank of the Tchernáva
River, and sees his dark red ships come speeding up the Vólkhoff River.
Sadkó returns to his palace and his young wife, builds two churches, and
roams no more, but thereafter takes his ease in his own town.

Between these cycles of epic songs and the Moscow, or Imperial Cycle
there is a great gap. The pre-Tatár period is not represented, and the
cycle proper begins with Iván the Terrible, and ends with the reign of
Peter the Great. Epic marvels are not wholly lacking in the Moscow
cycle, evidently copied from the earlier cycles. But these songs are
inferior in force. Fantastic as are some of the adventures in these
songs, there is always a solid historical foundation. Iván the Terrible,
for instance, is credited with many deeds of his grandfather (his father
being ignored), and is always represented in rather a favorable light.
The conquest of Siberia, the capture of Kazán and Ástrakhan, the wars
against Poland, and the Tatárs of Crimea, and so forth, are the
principal points around which these songs are grouped. But the Peter the
Great of the epics bears only a faint resemblance to the real Peter.

Perhaps the most famous hero of epic song in the seventeenth century is
the bandit-chief of the Volga, Sténka Rázin, whose memory still lingers
among the peasants of those regions. He was regarded as the champion of
the people against the oppression of the nobles, and "Ilyá of Múrom, the
Old Kazák" is represented as the captain of the brigands under him. To
Sténka, also, are attributed magic powers. From the same period date
also the two most popular dance-songs of the present day--the
"Kamarýnskaya" and "Bárynya Sudárynya," its sequel. The Kamarýnskaya was
the district which then constituted the Ukraína, or border-marches,
situated about where the government of Orél now is. The two songs
present a valuable historical picture of the coarse manners of the
period on that lawless frontier; hence, only a few of the lines which
still subsist of these poetical chronicles can be used to the
irresistibly dashing music.

The power of composing epic songs has been supposed to have gradually
died out, almost ceasing with the reign of Peter the Great, wholly
ceasing with the war of 1812. But very recently an interesting
experiment has been begun, based on the discovery of several new songs
about the Emperor Alexander II., which are sung by the peasants over a
wide range of country. All these songs are being written down with the
greatest accuracy as to the peculiarities of pronunciation and
accentuation. If, in the future, variants make their appearance,
containing an increasing infusion of the artistic and poetical elements,
considerable light will be thrown upon the problem of the rise and
growth of the ancient epic songs, and on the question of poetical
inspiration among the peasants of the present epoch. One of these
ballads, written down in the Province of the Don, from the lips of a
blind beggar, says that Alexander II., "burned with love, wished to give
freedom to all, kept all under his wing, and freed them from punishment.
He reformed all the laws, heard the groans of the needy, and himself
hastened to their aid." "So the wicked killed him," says the ballad, and
proceeds to describe the occurrence, including the way in which "the
black flag" was lowered on the palace, and "they sent a telegram about
the eclipse of our sun." In the far northern government of Kostromá, on
the Volga, two more ballads on the same subject have been taken down on
the typewriter, so that the bard could readily correct them. The first,
entitled "A Lay of Mourning for the Death of the Tzar Liberator,"
narrates how "a dreadful cloud of black, bloodthirsty ravens assembled,
and invited to them the underground, subterranean rats, not to a
feast-ball, not to a christening, but to undermine the roots of the
olive-branch." Naturally this style demands that the emperor be
designated as "the bright falcon, light winged, swift eyed." It
describes the plot, and how the bombs were to be wrapped up in white
cloths, and the conspirators were "to go for a stroll, as with
watermelons." When the bombs burst, "the panes in the neighboring houses
are shattered," and "the dark blue feathers" of the "bright falcon" are
set on fire. "As there were no Kostromá peasants on hand to aid the
emperor--no Komisároffs or Susánins," adds the ballad, with local pride
(alluding to the legend of Iván Susánin saving the first Románoff Tzar
from the Poles in 1612, which forms the subject of the famous opera by
Glínka, "Life for the Tzar"), "he laid himself down in the bosom of his
mother (earth)." The second ballad is "The Monument-Not Made-with-Hands
to the Tzar Liberator"--the compound adjective here referring to that in
the title of a favorite _ikóna_, or Holy Picture, which corresponds to
the one known in western Europe as the imprint of the Saviour's face on
St. Veronica's kerchief. There are four stanzas, of six lines each, of
which the third runs as follows:

    He is our Liberator and our father!
    And we will erect a monument of hearts
    Whose cross, by its gleaming 'mid the clouds,
    Shall transmit the memory to young children and the babes in arms,
    And this shall be unto ages of ages
    So long as the world and man shall exist!

In southwestern Russia, where the ancient epic songs of the Elder Heroes
and the Kíeff Cycle originated, the memory of them has died out, owing
to the devastation of southern Russia by the Tatárs in the thirteenth
and fourteenth centuries, and the decay of its civilization under
Lithuanian sway in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. In the
sixteenth century the population of southern Russia reorganized itself
in the forms of kazák communes, and fabricated for itself a fresh cycle
of epic legends, which replaced those of Kíeff; and there the _kobzárs_
(professional minstrels who accompany their songs on the _kábza_, a
mandolin-like, twelve-stringed instrument) celebrate the deeds of a new
race of kazák heroes. But in the lonely wildernesses of the northeast,
whither the Tatár invasion drove the descendants of those who composed
and sang the great epic songs, no more recent upheavals have brought
forward heroes to replace the historic paladins, who there hold
undisputed sway to the present time.

Of the songs still sung by the people, the following favorite (in the
version from the Olónetz government) may serve as a sample. It is not
rhymed in the original.

    Akh! Little guelder-rose, with pinkish azure bloom,
    And merry little company, where my dear one doth drink;
    My darling will not drink, until for me he sends.
    When I, a maiden, very young did dally,
    Tending the ducks, the geese, the swans,
    When I, a young maid, very young, along the stream-bank strolled,
    I trampled down all sickly leaves and grass,
    I plucked the tiny azure flowerets,
    At the swift little rivulet I gazed;
    Small was the hamlet there, four cots in all,
    In every cot four windows small.
    In every little window, a dear young crony sits.
    Eh, cronies dear, you darlings, friends of mine,
    Be ye my cronies, one another love, love me,
    When into the garden green ye go, then take me, too;
    When each a wreath ye twine, twine one for me;
    When in the Danube's stream ye fling them, drop mine, too;
    The garlands all upon the surface float, mine only hath sunk down.
    All your dear lover-friends have homeward come, mine only cometh not.


     1. How was Christianity introduced into Russia?

     2. In what two important centers was it finally established?

     3. How was the Greek Church able to supply these converts with
     a Slavonian translation of the Bible?

     4. Who were Kyríll and Methódy? Describe their work.

     5. Why was "Ancient Bulgarian" not the original language of the

     6. In what language was Russian literature written up to the
     time of Peter the Great?

     7. Where, according to tradition, did the early Slavonians
     settle in Europe?

     8. How are the forces of nature represented in the ancient
     marriage songs?

     9. What custom is illustrated in "The Sowing of the Millet"?

     10. What connection is there between the funeral wails of
     modern and of ancient Russia?

     11. What was the festival of Kolyáda?

     12. What Christian character has been given to the ancient
     "Glory Song"?

     13. Why is pork commonly used at the Russian New-Year?

     14. What different dates have been observed for the opening of
     the New-Year?

     15. What remarkable fact is true of the preservation of the
     Russian epic songs?

     16. How were the religious ballads brought before the people?

     17. Describe some of the characteristics of these ballads.

     18. Into what three groups do the epic songs naturally fall?

     19. What is the Lay of Sadkó?

     20. What are the favorite subjects of the songs of the
     "Imperial Cycle"?

     21. What interesting discovery of modern epic songs has
     recently been made?

     22. Why have the songs of the Kíeff Cycle died out in their own


     _The Epic Songs of Russia._ Isabel F. Hapgood.

     _Myths and Folk-Tales of Russians, Western Slavs, and Magyars._
     Jeremiah Curtin.

     _Cossack Fairy-Tales._ R. Nisbet Bain.

     _Sixty Folk-Tales from Exclusively Slavonic Sources._ A. H.

     _Russian Fairy-Tales._ R. Nisbet Bain.

     _Fairy-Tales of the Slav Peasants and Herdsmen._ From the
     French of Alexander Chodsko.

     _Songs of the Russian People and Russian Folk-Tales._ W. R. S.

     _Slavonic Fairy-Tales._ M. Gastner.

     _Slavonic Literature and its Relations to the Folk-Lore of
     Europe._ M. Gastner.

     _Russian Folk-Songs as Sung by the People._ Mme. Eugenie


[1] A Tatár word, signifying "tower"; used to mean the part of the house
where the women were secluded, in Oriental fashion.

[2] Lord, in the original, is Gosudár, the word which, with a capital,
is applied especially to the emperor.

[3] The dramatist Ostróvsky has made effective use of this game, and the
more prophetic couplets of the song, in his famous play: "Poverty is not
a Vice." Other national customs and songs are used in his play.


DOMINION, 988-1224.

As soon as Prince Saint Vladímir introduced Christianity into Russia, he
and his sons began to busy themselves with the problem of general
education. Priests came from Greece and Bulgaria to spread the Gospel in
Russia; but they thought only of disseminating Christianity, and were,
moreover, not sufficiently numerous to grapple with educational
problems. Accordingly, Vladímir founded schools in Kíeff, and ordered
that the children of the best citizens should be taken from their
unwilling parents, and handed over to these schools for instruction. His
son, Yároslaff I. ("the wise"), pursued the same policy, in Kíeff and
elsewhere--the schools being attached to the churches, and having for
their chief object the preparation of ecclesiastics. The natural result
was, that in ancient Russia, most people who could read and write were
ecclesiastics or monks, and religious literature was that most highly
prized. Even so-called worldly literature was strongly tinctured with
religion. The first Russian literary compositions took the form of
exhortations, sermons, and messages addressed by the clergy to their
flocks, and the first Russian authors were Ilarión, metropolitan of
Kíeff (beginning in 1051), and Luká Zhidyáta, appointed bishop of
Nóvgorod in 1036. The latter's "Exhortation to the Brethren" has come
down to us, and is noteworthy for the simplicity of its language, and
its conciseness of form. From Ilarión we have, "a Word Concerning the
Law" (meaning, the Law of God), which deals with the opposing character
of Judaism and Christianity. It proves not only that he was a cultivated
man, capable of expressing himself clearly on complicated matters, but
also that his hearers were capable of comprehending him. Other good
writers of that period were: Feodósiy, elected in 1062, abbott of the
Monastery of the Catacombs in Kíeff (which was fated to become one of
the most important nurseries of enlightenment and literature in Russia);
Nestor, who left a remarkable "Life of Feodósiy"; Nikifór, a Greek by
birth, educated in Byzantium, who was metropolitan of Kíeff, 1104-1121;
and Kyríll, bishop of Nóvgorod, 1171-1182.

Thus, it will be seen, events took their ordinary course in Russia as in
other countries: learning was, for a long time, confined almost
exclusively to the monasteries, which were the pioneers in education and
culture elements, such as they were. Naturally the bulk of the
literature for a long time consisted of commentaries on the Holy
Scriptures, translations from the works of the fathers of the church
(Eastern Catholic), homilies, pastoral letters, and the like. But in the
monasteries, also, originated the invaluable Chronicles; for not only
did men speedily begin to describe in writing those phenomena of life
which impressed them as worthy of note, but ecclesiastics were in a
position to learn all details of importance from authoritative sources,
and were even, not infrequently, employed as diplomatic agents, or acted
as secretaries to the ruling princes. The earliest and most celebrated
among these ancient Russian historical works is the Chronicle of
Nestor, a monk of the Catacombs Monastery in Kíeff (born about 1056),
the reputed author of the document which bears his name. Modern
scientists have proved that he did not write this Chronicle, the
earliest copy of which dates from the fourteenth century, but its
standing as a priceless monument of the twelfth century has never been
impunged, since it is evident that the author gathered his information
from contemporary eye-witnesses. The Chronicle begins by describing how
Shem, Ham, and Japhet shared the earth between them after the flood, and
gives a detailed list of the countries and peoples of the ancient world.
It then states that, after the building of the Tower of Babel, God
dispersed all the peoples into seventy-two tribes (or languages), the
northern and western lands falling to the tribe of Japhet. Nestor
derives the Slavonians from Japhet--describes their life, first on the
banks of the Danube, then their colonization to the northeast as far as
the River Ílmen (the ancient Nóvgorod), the Oká, in central Russia, and
the tributaries of the Dniépr, delineating the manners and customs of
the different Slavonic tribes, and bringing the narrative down to the
year 1110, in the form of brief, complete stories. The style of the
Chronicle is simple and direct. For example, he relates how, in the year
945, the Drevlyáns (or forest-folk) slew Ígor, prince of Kíeff, and his
band of warriors, who were not numerous.

     Then said the Drevlyáns, "Here we have slain the Russian
     Prince; let us now take his wife, Olga, for our Prince Malo;
     and we will take also Svyátoslaff (his son), and will deal with
     him as we see fit"; and the Drevlyáns dispatched their best
     men, twenty in number, in a boat, to Olga, and they landed
     their boat near Borítcheff, and Olga was told that the
     Drevlyáns had arrived, and Olga summoned them to her. "Good
     guests are come, I hear"; and the Drevlyáns said: "We are come,
     Princess." And Olga said to them, "Tell me, why are ye come
     hither?" Said the Drevlyáns: "The land of the Drevlyáns hath
     sent us," saying thus: "We have slain thy husband, for thy
     husband was like unto a wolf, he was ever preying and robbing;
     but our own princes are good. Our Drevlyán land doth flourish
     under their sway; wherefore, marry thou our Prince, Malo" for
     the Drevlyán Prince was named Malo. Olga said to them: "Your
     speech pleaseth me, for my husband cannot be raised from the
     dead; but I desire to show you honor, to-morrow, before my
     people; wherefore, to-day, go ye to your boat, and lie down in
     the boat, exalting yourselves; and to-morrow I will send for
     you, and ye must say: 'we will not ride on horses, we will not
     walk afoot, but do ye carry us in our boat.'" Thus did she
     dismiss them to the boat. Then Olga commanded a great and deep
     pit to be digged in the courtyard of the palace, outside the
     town. And the next morning, as Olga sat in her palace, she sent
     for the guests, and Olga's people came to them, saying: "Olga
     biddeth you to a great honor." But they said: "We will not ride
     on horses, nor on oxen, neither will we walk afoot, but do thou
     carry us in our boat." And the Kievlyáns said: "We must,
     perforce, carry you; our prince is slain, and our princess
     desireth to wed your prince," and they bore them in the boat,
     and those men sat there and were filled with pride; and they
     carried them to the courtyard, to Olga, and flung them into the
     pit, together with their boat. And Olga, bending over the pit,
     said unto them: "Is the honor to your taste?" and they made
     answer: "It is worse than Ígor's death"; and she commanded that
     they be buried alive, and they were so buried.

The narrative goes on to state that Olga sent word to the Drevlyáns,
that if they were in earnest, their distinguished men must be sent to
woo her for their prince; otherwise, the Kievlyáns would not let her go.
Accordingly, they assembled their best men, the rulers, and sent them
for her. Olga had the bath heated and ordered them to bathe before
presenting themselves to her, and when they began to wash, Olga had the
bath-house set on fire, and burned them up. Then Olga sent again to the
Drevlyáns, demanding that they collect a vast amount of hydromel in the
town where her husband had been slain, that she might celebrate the
ancient funeral feast, and weep over his grave. So they got the honey
together, and brewed the hydromel (or mead), and Olga, taking with her a
small body-guard, in light marching order, set out on the road and came
to her husband's grave and wept over it; and commanded her people to
erect a high mound over it; and when that was done, she ordered the
funeral feast to be celebrated on its summit. Then the Drevlyáns sat
down to drink, and Olga ordered her serving-boys to wait on them. And
the Drevlyáns asked Olga where was the guard of honor which they had
sent for her? And she told them that it was following with her husband's
body-guard. But when the Drevlyáns were completely intoxicated, she
ordered her serving-lads to drink in their honor, went aside, and
commanded her men to slay the Drevlyáns, which was done, five hundred
dying thus. Then Olga returned to Kíeff, and made ready an army against
the remaining Drevlyáns. Such is one of the vivid pictures of ancient
manners and customs which the chronicle of Nestor furnishes.

The descendants of Prince-Saint Vladímir were not only patrons of
education, but collectors of books. One of them, in particular, Vladímir
Monomáchus, is also noted as the author of the "Exhortation of Vladímir
Monomáchus" (end of the eleventh century), which he wrote for his
children, in the style of a pastoral address from an ecclesiastic to
his flock--a style which, in Russia, as elsewhere, was the inevitable
result of the first efforts at non-religious literature, in the eleventh
and twelfth centuries. "Chiefest of all," he writes, among other things,
"forget not the poor, and feed them according to your powers; give most
of all to the orphans, and be ye yourselves the defenders of the widows,
permitting not the mighty to destroy a human being. Slay ye not either
the righteous or the guilty yourselves, neither command others to slay
them. In discourse, whatsoever ye shall say, whether good or evil, swear
ye not by God, neither cross ye yourselves; there is no need of it....
Reverence the aged as your father, the young as brethren. In thy house
be not slothful, but see to all thyself; put not thy trust in a steward,
neither in a servant, that thy guests jeer not at thy house, nor at thy
dinner.... Love your wives, but give them no power over you. Forget not
the good ye know, and what ye know not, as yet, that learn ye," and so

The beginning of the twelfth century witnessed other notable attempts at
secular literature. To the twelfth century, also, belongs Russia's
single written epic song, "The Word (or lay) Concerning Ígor's Raid,"
which contains an extremely curious mixture of Christianity and heathen
views. By a fortunate chance, this epic was preserved and was
discovered, in 1795, by Count Músin-Púshkin, among a collection which he
had purchased from a monastery. Unhappily, Count Músin-Púshkin's
valuable library was burned during the conflagration of Moscow, in 1812.
But the _Slóvo_ had been twice published previous to that date, and had
been examined by many learned paleographists, who decided that the
chirography belonged to the end of the fourteenth century or the
beginning of the fifteenth century.

Ígor Svyátoslavitch was the prince of Nóvgorod-Syéversk, who in 1185,
made a raid against the Pólovtzy, or Plain-dwellers, and the Word begins

    Shall we not begin our song, oh brothers,
    With the story of the feuds of old;
    Song of the valiant troop of Ígor,
    And of him, the son of Svyátoslaff,
    And sing them as men now do sing,
    Striving not in thought after Boyán.[4]
    Making this ballad, he was wont the Wizard,
    As a squirrel swift to flit about the forest,
    As a gray wolf o'er the clear plain to trot,
    And as an eagle 'neath the clouds to hover;
    When he recalleth ancient feuds of yore,
    Then, from out the flock of swans he sendeth
    In pursuit, ten falcons, swift of wing.

The whole expedition is described in this poetical style, in three
hundred and eighty-four unrhymed lines, with a curious mingling of
heathen beliefs and Christian views. God shows Ígor the road "to the
land of Pólovetzk, to the Russian land," and on his return from
captivity, Ígor rides to Kíeff to salute the Holy Birth-giver of God of
Pirogóshtch, while the Pólovtzy are called "accursed," in contrast with
the orthodox Russians. But the winds are called "the grandchildren of
Stribog," and the Russian people are alluded to as "the grandsons of
Dázhbog," both heathen divinities, and other mythical and obscure
personages are introduced.

With this epic lay, the first period of Russian literature closes.


     1. How did Vladímir and his son provide for the education of
     their people?

     2. What kind of literature naturally grew out of the learning
     of the monasteries?

     3. What was the chronicle of Nestor? What special interest has

     4. Quote some of the precepts from the "Exhortation of

     5. By what good fortune has "Ígor's Raid" been preserved?

     6. What is the character of this Epic Song?


[4] Evidently an ancient epic bard.



During the Tatár Dominion, or yoke (1224-1370), Kíeff lost its
supremacy, and also ceased to be, as it had been up to this time, the
center of education and literature. The dispersive influence of the
Tatár raids had the effect of creating centers in the northeast, which
were, eventually, concentrated in Moscow; and in so far it proved a
blessing in disguise for Russia. The conditions of life under the Tatár
sway were such, that any one, man or woman, who valued a peaceful
existence, or existence at all, was driven to seek refuge in
monasteries. The inevitable consequence was, that a religious, even an
æsthetic, cast was imparted to what little literature was created. One
celebrated production, dating from about the middle of the fourteenth
century, will serve to give an idea of the sort of thing on which men
then exercised their minds and pens. It is the Epistle of Archbishop
Vasíly of Nóvgorod to Feódor, bishop of Tver, entitled, "Concerning the
Earthly Paradise," wherein the author discusses a subject of contention
which had arisen among the clergy of the latter's diocese, as to
"whether the earthly paradise planted by God for Adam doth still exist
upon the earth, or whether not the earthly but only an imaginary
paradise doth still exist." The worthy archbishop, with divers
arguments, defends his position, that the earthly paradise does still
exist in the East, and hell in the West: which latter proposition is not
surprising when we recall the historical circumstances under which it
was enounced.

The monks continued to be the leaders in the educational and literary
army, and under the stress of circumstances, not only won immense
political influence over the life of the people, but also developed a
new and special type of literature--political sermons--which attained to
particular development in the fourteenth century. Another curious
phenomenon was presented by the narratives concerning various prominent
personages, which contain precious facts and expressions of contemporary
views. The authors always endeavored, after the time-honored fashion of
biographers, to exalt and adorn their subjects; so that "decorated
narratives," a most apt title for that sort of literature in general,
was the characteristic name under which they came to be known. One
peculiarity of all of these, it is worth noting, including that which
dealt with the decisive battle with the Tatárs on the field of Kulikóvo,
on the Don, in 1370, under Dmítry Donskóy (Dmítry of the Don), Prince of
Moscow, is, that they are imitated, in style and language, from the
famous "Word Concerning Ígor's Raid."

Among the many purely secular tales of the fifteenth and sixteenth
centuries preserved in manuscript, not one has anything in common with
Russian national literature. All are translations, or reconstructions of
material derived from widely divergent sources, such as the stories of
Alexander of Macedon, of the Trojan War, and various Oriental tales.
About the middle of the sixteenth century, Makáry, metropolitan of
Moscow, collected, in twelve huge volumes, the Legends (or Spiritual
Tales) of the Saints, under the title of Tchetyá Mináya--literally,
Monthly Reading. It was finished in 1552, and contains thirteen hundred
Lives of Saints.


     1. What was the effect of the Tatár raids upon Kíeff?

     2. What striking illustration have we of the weak religious
     literature of this time?

     3. What were the "decorated narratives"? To what famous epic
     are they similar in style?

     4. What foreign character have the secular tales of this

     5. What famous collection of Legends of the Saints was made in
     the sixteenth century?



Political events had tended to concentrate absolute power in the hands
of the Grand Princes of Moscow, beginning with Iván III. But no
counterbalancing power had arisen in Russian society; there was no
independent life, no respect for the individual, no public opinion to
counteract the abuse of power. In the beginning of the sixteenth
century, Russian society had reached the extreme limits of development
possible to it under its unfavorable conditions. The time for the
Russian Renaissance had arrived. It is well to remember that at this
time in other parts of Europe also the spirit of despotism and
intolerance was holding individual liberty in check. This was the age of
Henry VIII., of Catherine de Medici, of the Inquisition, and of the
Massacre of St. Bartholomew.

In this century of transition, the sixteenth, the man who exerted over
the spirit of the age more influence than any other was Maxím the Greek
(1480-1556), a learned scholar, a monk of Mt. Athos, educated chiefly in
Italy. He was invited to Russia by Grand Prince Vasíly Ivánovitch, for
the purpose of cataloguing a rich store of Greek manuscripts in the
library of the Grand Prince. To his influence is due one of the most
noteworthy books of the sixteenth century, the "Stogláva," or "Hundred
Chapters," a set of regulations adopted by the young Tzar Iván
Vasílievitch (afterwards known as Iván the Terrible), the son of Vasíly,
and by the most enlightened nobles of his time at a council held in
1551. Their object was to reform the decadent morals of the clergy, and
various ecclesiastical and social disorders, and in particular, the
absolute illiteracy arising from the lack of schools. Another famous
work of the same century is the "Domostróy," or "House-Regulator,"
attributed to Pope (priest) Sylvester, the celebrated confessor and
counselor of Iván the Terrible in his youth. In an introduction and
sixty-three chapters Sylvester sets forth the principles which should
regulate the life of every layman, the management of his household and
family, his relations to his neighbors, his manners in church, his
conduct towards his sovereign and the authorities, his duties towards
his servants and subordinates, and so forth. The most curious part of
the work deals with the minute details of domestic economy--one
injunction being, that all men shall live in accordance with their means
or their salary--and family relations, in the course of which the
position of woman in Russia of the sixteenth century is clearly defined.
This portion is also of interest as the forerunner of a whole series of
articles in Russian literature on women, wherein the latter are depicted
in the most absurd manner, the most gloomy colors--articles known as
"About Evil Women"--and founded on an admiration for Byzantine
asceticism. In his Household Regulations Sylvester thus defines the
duties of woman:

"She goeth to church according to opportunity and the counsel of her
husband. Husbands must instruct their wives with care and judicious
chastisement. If a wife live not according to the precepts of her
husband, her husband must reprove her in private, and after that he hath
so reproved her, he must pardon her, and lay upon her his further
injunctions; but they must not be wroth one with the other.... And only
when wife, son, or daughter accept not reproof shall he flog them with a
whip, but he must not beat them in the presence of people, but in
private; and he shall not strike them on the ear, or in the face, or
under the heart with his fist, nor shall he kick them, or thrash them
with a cudgel, or with any object of iron or wood. But if the fault be
great, then, removing the offender's shirt, he shall beat him (or her)
courteously with a whip," and so forth.

We have seen that Iván IV. (the Terrible) took the initiative in
reforms. After the conquest of Kazán he established many churches in
that territory and elsewhere in Russia, and purchased an immense
quantity of manuscript service-books for their use, many of which turned
out to be utterly useless, on account of the ignorance and carelessness
of the copyists. This circumstance is said to have enforced upon Iván's
attention the advisability of establishing printing-presses in Russia;
though there is reason to believe that Maxím the Greek had, long before,
suggested the idea to the Tzar. Accordingly, the erection of a
printing-house was begun in 1543, but it was only in April, 1563, that
printing could be begun, and in March, 1564, the first book was
completed--The Acts of the Apostles. The first book printed in Slavonic,
however, is the "Októikh," or "Book of the Eight Canonical Tones,"
containing the Hymns for Vespers, Matins, and kindred church services,
which was printed in Cracow seventy years earlier; and thirty years
earlier, Venice was producing printed books in the Slavonic languages,
while even in Lithuania and White Russia printed books were known
earlier than in Moscow. After printing a second book, the "Book of
Hours" (the Tchasoslóff)--also connected with Vespers, Matins, kindred
services, and the Liturgy, in addition--in 1565, the printers, both
Russians, were accused of heresy, of spoiling the book, and were
compelled to flee from Moscow. In 1568 other printers produced in Moscow
the Psalter, and other books. In 1580, in Ostróg, Government of
Volhýnia, in a printing-house founded by Prince Konstantín
Konstantínovitch Ostrózhsky, was printed the famous Ostrózhsky Bible,
which was as handsome as any product of the contemporary press anywhere
in Europe.

Nevertheless, manuscripts continued to circulate side by side with
printed books, even during the reign of Peter the Great.

During the reign of Iván the Terrible, secular literature and authors
from the highest classes of society again made their appearance; in
fact, they had never wholly disappeared during the interval. Iván the
Terrible himself headed the list, and Prince Andréi Mikháilovitch
Kúrbsky was almost his equal in rank, and more than his equal in
importance from a literary point of view. Iván the Terrible's writings
show the influence of his epoch, his oppressed and agitated childhood,
his defective education; and like his character, they are the perfectly
legitimate expression of all that had taken place in the kingdom of

The most striking characteristic of Iván's writings is his malicious,
biting irony, concealed beneath an external aspect of calmness; and it
is most noticeable in his principal works, his "Correspondence with
Prince Kúrbsky," and his "Epistle to Kozmá, Abbot of the
Kiríllo-Byelózersk Monastery." They display him as a very well-read man,
intimately acquainted with the Scriptures, and the translations from the
Fathers of the Church, and the Russian Chronicles, as well as with
general history. Abbot Kozmá had complained to the Tzar concerning the
conduct of certain great nobles who had become inmates of his monastery,
some voluntarily, others by compulsion, as exiles from court, and who
were exerting a pernicious influence over the monks. Iván seized the
opportunity thus presented to him, to pour out all the gall of his irony
on the monks, who had forsaken the lofty, spiritual traditions of the
great holy men of Russia.

Of much greater importance, as illustrating Iván's literary talent, is
his "Correspondence with Prince Kúrbsky" (1563-1579), a warrior of birth
as good as Iván's own, a former favorite of his, who, in 1563, probably
in consequence of the profound change in Iván's conduct, which had taken
place, and weighed so heavily upon the remainder of his reign, fled to
Iván's enemy, the King of Poland. The abuses of confidence and power,
with the final treachery of Priest Sylvester (Iván's adviser in
ecclesiastical affairs), and of Adásheff (his adviser in temporal
matters), had changed the Tzar from a mild, almost benevolent,
sovereign, into a raging despot. On arriving in Poland, Prince Kúrbsky
promptly wrote to Iván announcing his defection, and plainly stating the
reasons therefor. When Iván received this epistle--the first in the
celebrated and valuable historical correspondence which ensued--he
thrust his iron-shod staff through the foot of the bearer, at the bottom
of the Red (or Beautiful) Staircase in the Kremlin, and leaning heavily
upon it, had the letter read to him, the messenger making no sign of his
suffering the while. Kúrbsky asserted the rights of the individual, as
against the sovereign power, and accused Iván of misusing his power.
Iván, on his side, asserted his omnipotent rights, ascribed to his own
credit all the noteworthy events of his reign, accused Kúrbsky of
treason, and demonstrated to the Prince (with abundant Scriptural
quotations), that he had not only ruined his own soul, but also the
souls of his ancestors--a truly Oriental point of view. "If thou art
upright and pious," he writes, "why wert not thou willing to suffer at
the hands of me, thy refractory sovereign lord, and receive from me the
crown of life?... Thou hast destroyed thy soul for the sake of thy body
... and hast waxed wroth not against a man, but against God."

Kúrbsky's letters reveal in him a far more cultivated man, with more
sense of decency and self control, and even elegance of diction, than
the Tzar. He even reproaches the latter, in one letter, for his
ignorance of the proper way to write, and for his lack of culture, and
tells him he ought to be ashamed of himself, comparing the Tzar's
literary style with "the ravings of women," and accusing him of writing

In addition to these letters, Kúrbsky wrote a remarkable history of Iván
the Terrible's reign, entitled, "A History of the Grand Principality of
Moscow, Concerning the Deeds Which We Have Heard from Trustworthy Men,
and Have also Beheld with Our Own Eyes." It is brought down to the year
1578. This history is important as the first work in Russian literature
in which a completely successful attempt was made to write a fluent
historical narrative (instead of setting forth facts in the style of
the Chronicles), and link facts to preceding facts in logical sequence,
deducing effects from causes.

To the reign of Iván the Terrible belong, also, "A History of the
Kingdom of Kazán," by Priest Ioánn Glazátly; and the "Memoirs of Alexéi
Adásheff"--the most ancient memoirs in the Russian language.

In the mean time, during this same sixteenth century, a new culture was
springing up in southwestern Russia, and in western Russia, then under
the rule of Poland, and under the influence of the Jesuits. Many
Russians had joined the Roman Church, or the "Union" (1596), by which
numerous eastern orthodox along the western frontier acknowledged the
supremacy of the Pope of Rome, on condition of being allowed to retain
their own rites and vernacular in the church services. In the end, they
were gradually deprived of these, almost entirely; and curiously enough,
the solution of this problem has been found, within the last decade, in
the United States, where the immigrant Uniates are returning by the
thousand to the Russian Church. In order to counteract the education and
the wiles of the Jesuits, philanthropic "Brotherhoods" were formed among
the orthodox Christians of southwest Russia, and these brotherhoods
founded schools in which instruction was given in the Greek, Slavonic,
Latin, and Polish languages; and rhetoric, dialectics, poetics,
theology, and many other branches were taught. One of these schools in
Kíeff was presided over by Peter Moghíla (1597-1646), the famous son of
the Voevóda of Wallachia, who was brilliantly educated on the Continent,
and at one time had been in the military service of Poland. Thus he
thoroughly understood the situation when, later on (1625), he became a
monk in the Kíeff Catacombs Monastery, and eventually the archimandrite
or abbot, and devoted his wealth and his life to the dissemination of
education among his fellow-believers of the Orthodox Eastern Catholic
Church. The influence of this man and of his Academy on Russia was
immense. The earliest school-books were here composed. Peter Moghíla's
own "Shorter Catechism" is still referred to. The Slavonic grammar and
lexicon of Lavrénty Zizánie-Tustanóvsky and Melénty Smotrítzky continued
in use until supplanted by those of Lomonósoff one hundred and fifty
years later. The most important factor, next to the foundation of the
famous Academy, was, that towards the middle of the seventeenth century
learned Kievlyanins, like Simeón Polótzky, attained to the highest
ecclesiastical rank in the country, and imported the new ideas in
education, which had been evolved in Kíeff, to Moscow, where they
prepared the first stable foundations for the future sweeping reforms of
Peter the Great.

Literature continued to bear an ecclesiastical imprint; but there were
some works of a different sort. One of the compositions which presents a
picture of life in the seventeenth century--among the higher and
governing classes only, it is true--is Grigóry Kotoshíkin's "Concerning
Russia in the Reign of Alexéi Mikháilovitch." Kotoshíkin was well
qualified to deal with the subject, having been secretary in the foreign
office, and attached to the service of Voevóda (field marshal), Prince
Dolgorúky, in 1666-1667. Among other things, he points out that the
"women of the kingdom of Moscow are illiterate," and deduces the
conclusion that the chief cause of all contemporary troubles in the
kingdom is excessive ignorance. He declares, "We must learn from
foreigners, and send our children abroad for instruction"--precisely
Peter the Great's policy, it will be observed.

Another writer, Yúry Krizhánitz, must have exerted a very considerable
influence upon Peter the Great, as it is known that the latter owned his
work on "The Kingdom of Russia in the Middle of the Seventeenth
Century." This book contains a discussion as to the proper means for
changing the condition of affairs then prevailing; as to the degree in
which foreign influence should be permitted; and precisely what measures
should be adopted to combat this or that social abuse or defect. The
programme of reforms, which he therein laid down, was, to proceed from
the highest source, by administrative process, and without regard to the
opposition of the masses. This programme Peter the Great carried out
most effectually later on.

Battle was also waged with the old order of things in the spiritual
realm by the famous Patriarch Níkon (1605-1681), who, as a peasant lad
of twelve, ran away from his father's house to a monastery. Although
compelled by his parents to return home and to marry, he soon went back
and became a monk in a monastery in the White Sea. Eventually he rose
not only to the highest ecclesiastical post in the kingdom, but became
almost more powerful than the Tzar himself. He may be classed with the
great literary forces of the land, in that he caused the correction of
the Slavonic Church Service-books directly from the Greek originals, and
eliminated from them innumerable and gross errors, which the
carelessness and ignorance of scribes and proof-readers had allowed to
creep into them. The far-reaching effects of this necessary and
important step, the resulting schism in the church, which still endures,
Níkon's quarrels with the Tzar Alexéi Mikháilovitch, Peter the Great's
father, are familiar matters of history; as is also the fact that the
power he won and the course he held were the decisive factors in Peter
the Great's resolve to have no more Patriarchs, and to intrust the
government of the church to a College, now the Most Holy Governing

When Níkon passed from power, lesser men took up the battle. Chief among
these was Archimandrite Simeón Polótzky (already mentioned), who lived
from 1626-1681, and was the first learned man to become tutor to a
Tzarévitch. The spirit of the times no longer permitted the heir to the
throne to be taught merely to read and write from the primer, the
Psalter, and the "Book of Hours"; and Alexéi Mikháilovitch appointed
Simeón Polótzky instructor to the Tzarévitch Feódor.


     1. What unfavorable conditions do we find in Russian society at
     the beginning of the sixteenth century?

     2. Who was Maxím the Greek, and what service did he render to
     his times?

     3. What was the purpose of the "House-Regulator" of Pope

     4. How does he define the duties of woman?

     5. What early attempts at printing were made in Russia?

     6. What qualities of Iván the Terrible may be seen in his

     7. Describe his correspondence with Prince Kúrbsky.

     8. How do Kúrbsky's qualities compare with those of the Tzar,
     as shown in this correspondence?

     9. Why is Kúrbsky's history of Moscow a remarkable work?

     10. What great work was done by Moghíla and his Academy?

     11. How did his influence prove very far-reaching?

     12. What did other writers of this time say of the need for
     better education in Russia?

     13. Describe the career of the famous Patriarch Níkon.


     _History of Russia._ Rambaud, Chapter XV., Iván the Terrible,
     also Chapters XVI.-XX.

     _The Story of Russia._ W. R. Morfill.



Even in far-away, northeastern Russia a break is apparent in the middle
of the sixteenth century; and during the reign of Iván the Terrible, a
new sort of historical composition came into vogue--the so-called
"Stépennaya Kníga," or "Book of Degrees" (or steps), wherein the
national history was set forth in order, according to the Degrees of the
Princely Houses in the lines of descent from Rúrik to Iván the Terrible
in twenty degrees. This method found favor, and another degree was added
in the seventeenth century, bringing the history down to the death of
the Tzar Alexéi Mikháilovitch. During the seventeenth century many
attempts were made at collections and chronicles, the only one
approaching fullness being the "Chronicle of Níkon," so-called,
probably, because it was compiled by order of the Patriarch Níkon.

During the seventeenth century a fad also sprang up of writing
everything, even school-books, petitions, and calendars in versified
form, which was known as _vírshi_, and imported from Poland to Moscow by
Simeón Polótzky. At that time, also, it was the fashion for school-boys
to act plays as a part of their regular course of study in the schools
in southwest Russia; and in particular, in Peter Moghíla's Academy in
Kíeff. Plays of a religious character had, naturally, been imported
from western Europe, through Poland, in the seventeenth century, but as
early as the beginning of the sixteenth century certain church
ceremonies in Russia were celebrated in a purely dramatic form,
suggestive of the mystery plays in western Europe. The most curious and
famous of these was that which represented the casting of the Three Holy
Children into the Fiery Furnace, and their miraculous rescue from the
flames by an angel. This was enacted on the Wednesday before Christmas,
during Matins, in Moscow and other towns, the first performance, so far
as is known, having been in the beginning of the sixteenth century, it
being mentioned, in the year 1548, in the finance-books of the
archiepiscopal residence of St. Sophia at Nóvgorod. The "furnace" was a
circular structure of wood, on architectural lines, gayly painted with
the figures of appropriate holy men; specimens have been preserved, one
being in the Archeological Museum in St. Petersburg.

The second famous "Act" (for such was their title) was known under the
name of "The Riding on the Foal of an Ass," and took place (beginning
with the end of the sixteenth century) in Moscow and other towns,
generally on Palm Sunday. It represented the triumphal entry of Christ
into Jerusalem, and in Moscow it was performed in accordance with a
special ritual by the Patriarch, in the presence of the Tzar himself;
the Patriarch represented Christ, the Tzar led the ass upon which he was
mounted. In other towns it was acted by the archbishops and the
Voevódas. The third, and simplest, of these religious dramas, the "Act
of the Last Judgment," generally took place on the Sunday preceding the

In 1672 Tzar Alexéi Mikháilovitch ordered Johann Gregory, the Lutheran
pastor in Moscow, to arrange "comedy acts," and the first pieces acted
before the Tzar on a private court stage were translations from the
German--the "Act of Artaxerxes," the comedy "Judith," and so forth. But
under the influence of southwestern Russia, as already mentioned, it was
not long before a Russian mystery play, "St. Alexéi, the Man of God,"
founded on a Polish original, thoroughly imbued with Polish influence,
was written in honor of Tzar Alexéi, and acted in public by students of
Peter Moghíla's College in Kíeff. A whole series of mystery plays
followed from the fruitful pen of Simeón Polótzky. Especially curious
was his "Comedy of King Nebuchadnezzar, the Golden Calf, and the Three
Youths Who Were Not Consumed in the Fiery Furnace." He wrote many other
"comedies," two huge volumes of them.

Theatrical representations won instant favor with the Tzar and his
court, and a theatrical school was promptly established in Moscow, even
before the famous and very necessary Slavonic-Greco-Latin Academy, for
"higher education," as it was then understood.

None of the school dramas--several of which Peter Moghíla himself is
said to have written--have come down to us; neither are there any
specimens now in existence of the spiritual dramas and dramatic
dialogues from the early years of the seventeenth century. In addition
to the dramas of Simeón Polótzky, of the last part of that century, we
have the dramatic works of another ecclesiastical writer, St. Dmítry of
Rostóff (1651-1709), six in all, including "The Birth of Christ," "The
Penitent Sinner," "Esther and Ahashuerus," and so forth. They stand
half-way between mysteries and religio-allegorical pieces, and begin
with a prologue, in which one of the actors sketches the general outline
of the piece, and explains its connection with contemporary affairs; and
end with an epilogue, recited by another actor, which is a reinforcement
and inculcation of the moral set forth in the play. St. Dmítry's plays
were first acted in the "cross-chamber," or banquet-hall, of the
episcopal residence in Rostóff, where he was the Metropolitan, by the
pupils of the school he had founded. He cleverly introduced scenes from
real life into the middle of his spiritual dramas.

Collections of short stories and anecdotes current in western Europe
also made their way to Russia, via Poland; and freed from puritanical,
religious, and conventional bonds, light satirical treatment of topics
began to be met with in the seventeenth century, wherein, among other
things ridiculed, are the law-courts, the interminable length of
lawsuits, the covetousness and injustice of the judges, and so forth.
Among such productions are: "The Tale of Judge Shemyák" (Herring), "The
Description of the Judicial Action in the Suit Between the Pike and the
Perch"; or, applying personal names to the contestants, "The Story of
Yórsha Yórshoff (Perch, the son of Perch) and the Son of Shtchetínnikoff
(the Bristly)." A similar production is "The Story of Kúra (the Cock)
and Lisá (the Fox)." The first place among such works, for simplicity of
style and truth of description, belongs to "The History of the Russian
Nobleman, Frol Skovyéeff, and Anna, Daughter of Table-Decker Nárdin
Nashtchókin." But many writers of that age could not take a satirical
view of things, and depicted life as a permanent conflict between the
powers of evil and good--wherein the Devil chiefly got the upper
hand--and man's principal occupation therein, the saving of his soul.
One of the best compositions of ancient Russian secular literature
belongs to this gloomy category, "The Tale of Góre-Zloshtchástye; How
Góre-Zloshtchástye Brought the Young Man to the Monastic State,"
Góre-Zloshtchástye being, literally, "Woe-Misfortune." Woe-Misfortune
persecutes the youth, who finds no safety from him, save on one road,
where, alone, he does not besiege him--the road to the monastery.

It will be seen that the spirit of the age was deeply influenced by the
state of material things.


     1. What kind of historical writing sprang up in northeastern
     Russia during the time of Iván the Terrible?

     2. Describe the fashion of acting plays in the schools.

     3. What were the "comedy acts" given before the Tzar?

     4. For what is Dmítry of Rostóff to be remembered?

     5. What kind of anecdotes and short stories came from western
     Europe to Russia in the seventeenth century?

     6. What picture of Russian life do they bring before us?


     _History of Russia._ Alfred Rambaud.

     _The Story of Russia._ W. R. Morfill.



The Fifth Period of Russian literature is that which comprises the reign
of Peter the Great, with its reforms, scientific aims, and utter change
of views upon nearly all conceivable practical and spiritual subjects.
With the general historical aspects of that reign we cannot deal here.
The culture which Peter I. introduced into Russia was purely
utilitarian; and moreover, in precisely that degree which would further
the attainment of his ends. But however imperatively his attention was
engaged with other matters, he never neglected to maintain and add to
the institutions of general education and special schools, and to order
the translation of such works as were adapted to the requirements of his
people, as he understood those requirements.

His views on the subject of literature were as peculiar as those on
culture, and were guided by the same sternly practical considerations.
But it must be said, that under him the printing-press first acquired in
Russia its proper position of importance, and became the instrument for
the quick, easy, and universal dissemination and exchange of thought,
instead of serving merely as an indifferent substitute for manuscript
copies. Not only were books printed, but also speeches and official
poetry for special occasions; and at last the "Russian News" (January,
1703), the first Russian newspaper, keenly and carefully supervised by
Peter the Great himself, made its appearance.

At the end of the seventeenth century, only two typographical
establishments existed in all Russia: one in the Kíeff Catacombs
Monastery (which does an immense business in religious books, and cheap
prints and paper _ikóni_, or holy pictures); the other in Moscow, in the
"Printing-House." In 1711 the first typographical establishment appeared
in St. Petersburg, and in 1720 there were already four in the new
capital, in addition to new ones in Tchernígoff, Nóvgorod-Syéversk, and
Nóvgorod; while another had been added in Moscow. Yet Peter the Great
distrusted the literary activity of the monks--and with reason, since
most of them opposed his reforms, while many deliberately plotted
against him--and in 1700-1701 ordered that monks in the monasteries
should be deprived of pens, ink, and paper.

His official, machine-made literature offers nothing of special
interest. But one of the curious phenomena of the epoch was the peasant
writer Iván Tikhonóvitch Posóshkoff (born about 1670), a well-to-do,
even a rich, man for those days, very well read, and imbued with the
spirit of reform. Out of pure love for his fatherland he began to write
projects and books in which he endeavored to direct the attention of the
government to many social defects, and to point out means for correcting
them. One of the most interesting works of Peter the Great's period was
Posóshkoff's written "Plan of Conduct" for his son (who was one of the
first young Russians sent abroad, in 1708, for education), entitled, "A
Father's Testamentary Exhortation." His "Book on Poverty and Wealth" is
also noteworthy, inasmuch as it affords a complete survey of Russia
under Peter the Great.

During this reign, the highly educated and eminently practical Little
Russians acquired more power than ever. The most notable of them all was
Feofán Prokópovitch, Archbishop of Nóvgorod (born in Kíeff, 1681), who
had been brilliantly educated in Kíeff and Rome, and was the most
celebrated of Peter the Great's colaborers, the most zealous and clever
executor of his sovereign's will, who attained to the highest secular
and ecclesiastical honors, and prolonged his influence and his labors
into succeeding reigns. His sermons were considered so important that
they were always printed immediately after their delivery, and forwarded
to the Emperor abroad, or wherever he might chance to be. Like others at
that period, he indulged in dramatic writing, for acting on the school
stage; and at Peter the Great's request he drew up a set of
"Ecclesiastical Regulations" for the Ecclesiastical College, and was
appointed to be the head of the church government, though Stepán
Yavórsky was made head of the Holy Governing Synod when it was
established, in 1721.

Peter the Great's ideas were not only opposed but persecuted, after his
death (1723), until the accession to the throne of his daughter
Elizabeth, in 1741. It was a long time before literature was regarded
seriously, on its own merits; before literary and scientific activity
were looked upon as separate departments, or any importance was
attributed to literature. Science usurped the first place, and
literature was regarded as merely a useful accessory thereto. This view
was held by all the first writers after Peter the Great's time:
Kantemír, Tatíshtcheff, Trediakóvsky, and even the gifted Lomonósoff,
Russia's first secular writers, in the present sense of that word.

The first of these, in order, Prince Antiókh Dmítrievitch Kantemír, was
born in 1708, and brought to Moscow at the age of three by his father,
the Hospodár of Moldavia (after the disastrous campaign on the Pruth),
who assumed Russian citizenship. Prince Kantemír published his first
work, "A Symphony (concordance) of the Psalter," at the age of eighteen,
being at that time in the military service, and a member of Feofán
Prokópovitch's circle, and his close friend. His father had left a will
by which he bequeathed his entire estate and about one hundred thousand
serfs to that one of his children who should prove "the most successful
in the sciences"; and one of Prince Antiókh's brothers having married a
daughter of Prince D. M. Galítzyn, one of the most influential men of
the day, Peter the Great naturally adjudged him the heir to the estate.
This embittered Prince Antiókh Kantemír, and he revealed his wrath
against the Emperor and his party in his first two notable satires,
which appeared about the time the Empress Anna Ioánnovna ascended the
throne (1730). Galítzyn was one of the nobles who were ruined by this
event, and Prince Kantemír recovered a portion of his rightful
possessions. In 1731 his powerful protection secured him the appointment
of diplomatic resident in London. Thence he was, later on, transferred
to Paris, and never returned to Russia. Before his departure to London,
he wrote five satires, several fables and epistles, none of which were
printed, however, though they won him great reputation in cultivated
society, where they circulated in manuscript copies. Satire was quite in
the spirit of the age, and Kantemír devoted himself to it. He displayed
much wit and keen observation. In all, he produced nine satires, four
being written during his sojourn abroad. In Satire Second, entitled,
"Filarét and Evgény," or "On the Envy and Pride of Cantankerous Nobles,"
he describes the arrogance of the nobility, and their pretensions to the
highest posts, without any personal exertion or merit, solely on the
merits of their ancestors; and here he appears as a zealous advocate of
Peter the Great's "Table of Ranks," intended to put a stop to precisely
this state of affairs, by making rank depend on personal services to the
state. The Third and Sixth Satires are curious in that they clearly
express the author's views on his own literary activity, and also on
society and literature in general. The Sixth Satire, written in 1738, is
the most important, as showing Kantemír's own nature, both as a man and
as a writer.

One of the men most in sympathy with Peter the Great was Vasíly
Nikítitch Tatíshtcheff (1686-1750), who was educated partly in Russia,
partly abroad. He applied his brilliant talents and profound mind to the
public service, first in the Artillery, then in the Department of Mines,
later on as Governor of Ástrakhan. In pursuance of a general plan for
useful literary labors, Tatíshtcheff collected materials for a
geography, which he did not finish, and for a history of Russia, which
he worked out with considerable fullness, in five volumes. It was
published thirty years after his death, by command of Katherine II. It
is not history in the sense of that word at the present day, but merely
a very respectable preliminary study of materials; and the author's
expressions of opinion are valuable features, as setting forth the
spirit of the Epoch of Reformation. He is generally mentioned as a
historian, but far more important are his "Spiritual Testament" (Last
Will) and "Exhortation to his son Evgráff" (1733), and "A Discussion
between Two Friends as to the Advantages of Sciences and Schools"
(probably written 1731-1736). The Testament consists of a general
collection of rules concerning worldly wisdom, applied to contemporary
needs and views, though his son was already grown up and in the
government service, so that much of its contents are of general
application only, and were introduced to round out the work, and for the
edification of the rising generation. It is the last specimen of a class
of works in which, as has been seen, Russian literature is rich.

The first Russian who devoted himself exclusively to literature was
Vasíly Kiríllovitch Trediakóvsky (born at Ástrakhan in 1703), the son
and grandson of priests, who was educated in Russia and abroad. When he
decided, on his return from abroad in 1730, to adopt literature as a
profession, the times were extremely unpropitious. He had, long before,
during his student days in Moscow, written syllabic verses, an elegy on
the death of Peter the Great, and a couple of dramas, which were acted
by his fellow-students. In 1732 he became the court poet, or laureate
and panegyrist, and wrote, to the order of the Empress Anna Ioánnovna,
speeches and laudatory addresses, which he presented to the grandees,
receiving in return various gifts in accordance with the custom of the
epoch. But neither his official post nor his personal dignity prevented
his receiving, also, violent and ignominious treatment at the hands of
the powerful nobles. His "New and Brief Method of Composing Russian
Verses" constituted an epoch in the history of Russian poetry, since
therein was first set forth the theory of Russian tonic versification.
But although he endeavored to create a distinct Russian style, and to
put his own system into practice, he wrote worse than many of his
contemporaries, and his poems were all below mediocrity; while not a
single line of them supported the theory he announced. They enjoy as
little consideration from his literary posterity as he enjoyed
personally in the society of Anna Ioánnovna's day. Yet his work was very
prominent in the transition period between the literature of the
seventeenth century and the labors of Lomonósoff, and he undoubtedly
rendered a great service to Russian culture by his translations, as an
authority on literary theories and as a philologist.

The first writer of capital importance in modern Russian literature in
general was the gifted peasant-academician Mikháil Vasílievitch
Lomonósoff (1711-1755)--a combination of the scientific and literary
man, such as was the fashion of the period in general, and almost
necessarily so in Russia. Born in a village of the Archángel Government,
near Kholmogóry on the White Sea, he was a fisherman, like his father,
until the age of sixteen, having learned to read and write from a
peasant neighbor. A tyrannical stepmother forced him to endure hunger
and cold, and to do his modest studying and reading in desert spots.
Accordingly, when he obtained from the village authorities the
permission requisite for absenting himself for the space of ten months,
he failed to return, and was inscribed among the "fugitives." In the
Slavo-Greco-Latin Academy at Moscow, which he managed to enter, and
where he remained for five years, he distanced all competitors (though
he lived, as he said, "in incredible poverty," on three kopeks a day),
devoting himself chiefly to the natural sciences. At the age of
twenty-two he was sent abroad by the government to study metallurgy at
Freiburg. There and elsewhere abroad, in England, France, and Holland,
he remained for five years, studying various practical branches.

In 1742 he became assistant professor at the Academy of Science in St.
Petersburg, at a wretched salary, and in 1748 professor, lecturing on
physical geography, chemistry, natural history, poetry, and the Russian
language. He also was indefatigable in translating scientific works from
the French and German, in writing a work on mining, a rhetoric-book, and
so forth. By 1757 he had written many odes, poetical epistles, idyls,
and the like; verses on festival occasions and tragedies, to order; a
Russian grammar; and had collected materials for a history, and planned
extensive philological researches. Eager to benefit his country, and
conscious that he was capable of doing so, he made practical application
of many important improvements in architecture, navigation, mining, and
manufacturing industries. For example: in 1750 he zealously engaged in
the manufacture of glass (with the aid of the government), set up a
glass-factory, and applied his chemical knowledge to colored glass for
mosaics. The great mosaic pictures which glorify Peter the Great, and
the vast, magnificent _ikóni_ (holy pictures) which adorn the Cathedral
of St. Isaac of Dalmatia, in St. Petersburg, are the products of those
factories, which still exist and thrive.

It is impossible to narrate in detail all Lomonósoff's enterprises for
the improvement of the economic condition of the masses, his government
surveys of Russia, ethnographical and geographical aims, and the like.
His administrative labors absorbed most of his time leaving little for
literary work. Like others of his day, he regarded literature as an
occupation for a man's leisure hours, and even openly ridiculed those
who busied themselves exclusively with it; though he ascribed to it
great subsidiary importance, as a convenient instrument for introducing
to society new ideas, and for expounding divers truths, both abstract
and scientific. Thus he strove to furnish Russia with models of literary
productions in all classes, and to improve the language of literature
and science. Nevertheless, although he rendered great services in these
directions, and is known as "the Father of Russian Literature," he was
far more important as a scientific than as a literary man. It is true
that precisely the opposite view of him was held during the period
immediately succeeding him, and he became an authority and a pattern for
many Russian writers, who imitated his pseudo-classical poetry, and even
copied his language, as the acme of literary perfection. In reality,
although he acquired a certain technical skill, he was a very mediocre
poet; yet he was as an eagle among barnyard fowls, and cleverly made use
of the remarkable possibilities of the Russian language as no other man
did, although he borrowed his models from the pseudo-classical
productions then in vogue in foreign countries. A few of his versified
efforts which have come down to us deserve the name of poetry, by virtue
of their lofty thoughts and strong, sincere feeling, expressed in
graceful, melodious style. Among the best of these are: "A Letter
Concerning the Utility of Glass," "Meditations Concerning the Grandeur
of God," and his triumphal ode, "On the Day of the Accession to the
Throne of the Empress Elizavéta Petróvna"--this last being the
expression of the general rapture at the accession of Peter the Great's

The most important feature of all Lomonósoff's poetical productions is
the fine, melodious language, which was a complete novelty at that time,
together with smooth, regular versification. Not one of his
contemporaries possessed so profound and varied a knowledge of the
Russian popular and book languages, and this knowledge it was which
enabled him to make such a wide choice between the ancient Church
Slavonic, ancient Russian, the popular, and the bookish tongues.

In Peter the Great's Epoch of Reform, the modern "secular" or "civil"
alphabet was substituted for the ancient Church Slavonic, and the modern
Russian language, which Lomonósoff did so much to improve, began to
assume shape, literature and science at last freeing themselves
completely from ecclesiasticism and monasticism.

The first writer to divorce literature and science, like Lomonósoff, a
talent of the transition period, between the Epoch of Reform and the
brilliant era of Katherine II.--a product, in education and culture, of
the Reform Epoch, though he strove to escape from its traditions--was
Alexander Petróvitch Sumarókoff (1717-1777). Insignificant in comparison
with Lomonósoff, the most complete contrast with the peasant-genius by
his birth and social rank, which were of the highest, he was plainly the
forerunner of a new era; and in the sense in which Feofán Prokópovitch
is called "the first secular Russian writer," Sumarókoff must be
described as "the first Russian literary man."

The Empress Anna Ioánnovna had had a troop of Italian actors, early in
her reign; and in 1735 a troop of actors and singers. The Empress
Elizavéta Petróvna revived the theater, and during her reign there were
even two troops of actors, one French, the other Italian, for ballet and
opera-bouffe (1757), both subsidized by the court. Sometimes an audience
was lacking at their performances, and on one occasion at least,
Elizavéta Petróvna improved upon the Scripture parable; when an
insufficient number of spectators presented themselves at the French
comedy, she forthwith dispatched mounted messengers to numerous persons
of rank and distinction, with a categorical demand to know why they had
absented themselves, and a warning that henceforth a fine of fifty
rubles would be exacted for such dereliction of duty.

A distinctive feature of Elizavéta's reign was the growth of closer
relations with France, which at this period represented the highest
culture of Europe. Dutch and German influences which had hitherto
impressed themselves upon Russian society, now gave place to French
ideas. Translations of the French classics of the brilliant age of Louis
XIV. were made in Russian, and the new Academy of Fine Arts established
by Elizavéta in St. Petersburg was put under the care of French masters.
It was in her reign also that the University of Moscow was founded.

In 1746 Feódor Grigórievitch Vólkhoff, the son of a merchant, built in
Yaroslávl (on the upper Volga), the first Russian theater, to hold about
one thousand spectators. Five years later, the news of the fine
performances of the actors and actresses of Vólkhoff's theater reached
St. Petersburg, and the troop was ordered to appear before the court.
Four years later still, the existence of the Russian theater was
assured, by imperial decree. Sumarókoff was appointed the director,
having, evidently, for a long time previously had full charge of all
dramatic performances at court; and also, evidently, been expected to
furnish plays. His first tragedy, "Khóreff," dates from 1747. In the
following year "Hamlet" appeared. Until the arrival of the Vólkhoff
troop, all his plays were acted in St. Petersburg only, by the cadets
and officers of the "Nobles' Cadet Corps," where he himself had been
educated. Towards the end of Elizavéta Petróvna's reign, Sumarókoff
acquired great renown, almost equaling that of Lomonósoff in his
literary services, and the admirers of Russian literature of that day
were divided into hostile camps, which consisted of the friends and
advocates of these two writers, the Empress Elizabeth being at the head
of the first, the Empress Katherine II. (then Grand Duchess) at the head
of the second.

For about ten years (1759-1768), Sumarókoff published a satirical
journal, "The Industrious Bee," after which he returned to his real
field and wrote a tragedy, "Výsheslaff," and the comedies, "A Dowry by
Deceit," "The Usurer," "The Three Rival Brothers," "The Malignant Man,"
and "Narcissus." In all he wrote twenty-six plays, including the
tragedies "Sínav and Trúvor," "Aristona," and "Semira," before the
establishment of the theater in St. Petersburg, in addition to "Khóreff"
and "Hamlet," "Dmítry the Pretender," and "Mstíslaff." "Semira" was
regarded as his masterpiece, and among his comedies "Tressotinius"
attracted the most attention. All these, however, were merely weak
imitations of the narrow form in which all French and pseudo-classical
dramas were molded, the unities of time, place, and action exerting an
embarrassing restriction on the action; and the heroes, although they
professed to be Russians, with obscure historical names (like Sínav and
Trúvor), or semi-mythical (like Khóreff), or genuinely historical (like
Dmítry the Pretender), were the stereotyped declaimers of the bombastic,
pseudo-classical drama.

Sumarókoff's dramatic work formed but a small part of his writings,
which included a great mass of odes, eclogues, elegies, ballads, and so
forth; and although he ranks as a dramatist, he is most important in his
series of fables, epigrams, and epitaphs, which are permeated with
biting satire on his own period, though the subjects are rather
monotonous--the bad arrangement of the courts of justice, which
permitted bribery and other abuses among lawyers, the injurious and
oppressive state monopolies, attempts at senseless imitations of
foreigners in language and customs, and ignorance concealed by external
polish and culture. Coarse and imperfect as are these satires, they
vividly reproduce the impressions of a contemporary gifted with keen
observation and the ability to deal dispassionately with current events.
As we shall see later on, this protest against the existing order of
things continued, and blossomed forth in the succeeding--the
sixth--period of literature in productions, which not only form the
flower of the century, but also really belong to modern literature, and
hold the public attention at the present day. This Sumarókoff's dramatic
and other works do not do, and their place is rather in the archives of
the preparatory school.


     1. What was the general character of the reign of Peter the

     2. How important did the printing press become in his time?

     3. Why did Peter the Great deprive the monks of pens, ink, and

     4. What interesting works were written by Posóshkoff?

     5. Who was Feofán Prokópovitch?

     6. Give an account of the life and writings of Kantemír.

     7. What literary influence had Tatíshtcheff and Trediakóvsky?

     8. Describe the early life of Lomonósoff.

     9. Give an account of his many activities.

     10. How did he regard literature, and what were his best works.

     11. In what way did he exert a strong literary influence?

     12. What attention did the Court give to theatrical
     representations at this time?

     13. What new relations with Europe marked the reign of

     14. When and where was Vólkhoff's theater established?

     15. What share had Sumarókoff in developing the Russian drama?

     16. How did he protest against the abuses of his times?


     _History of Russia._ Alfred Rambaud. Vol. II., Chapter VI.

     _The Story of Russia._ W. R. Morfill.

     _Specimens from the Russian Poets._ Two volumes, Sir John
     Bowring, contain many specimens from Lomonósoff to Zhukóvsky



Under the brilliant sway of Katherine II. (1762-1796) literature and
literary men in Russia first began to acquire legitimate respect and
consideration in the highest circles--the educated minority, which ruled
tastes and fashions. Wealthy patrons of literature had existed even in
the Empress Elizabeth's day it is true; and a taste for the theater had
been implanted or engendered, partly by force, as we have seen. Western
ideas had made much progress in a normal way, through the close contact
with western European nations, brought about by Elizabeth's great
political genius, which had made St. Petersburg the diplomatic center
and law-giver; and Katherine's own interest in literature before her
accession to the throne had also had much to do with raising the
standard and the respect in which literature and writers were held, and
in preparing the ground for the new era. During her reign, life and
literature may be said to have come into close contact for the first
time. Katherine II. herself may be placed at the head of the writers of
her day, in virtue not only of her rank and her encouragement of
literature, at home and abroad, but because of her own writings. One of
her comedies, "O, Ye Times! O, Ye Manners!" is still occasionally given
on the stage. Her own Memoirs and her Correspondence with Voltaire,
Diderot, and others, furnish invaluable pictures of contemporary views
and manners. Her satires, comedies, and journalistic work and polemical
articles are most important, however, because most original. In 1769 she
began to publish a newspaper called "All Sorts of Things" (or
"Varieties"), to which she personally contributed satirical articles
attacking abuses--chiefly the lack of culture, and superficiality of
education. It was extremely popular with the public, and imitators
started up, which the Empress eventually suppressed, because of their
virulent attacks on her own journal. She ceased journalistic work in
1774, and then introduced on the stage, in her comedies, the same types
and aspects of Russian life which she had previously presented in her
satirical articles.

Of the fourteen comedies, nine operas, and seven proverbs which she
wrote, in whole or in part (she had the skeletons of some filled out
with choruses and verses according to her own plans), up to 1790, eleven
comedies, seven operas, and five proverbs have come down to us. The
comedies are not particularly artistic, but they are important in a
history of the national literature, as noteworthy efforts to present
scenes and persons drawn from contemporary life--the first of that sort
on the Russian stage--the most remarkable being the one already referred
to, and "The Gambler's Name-day" (1772). The personages whom she copied
straight from life are vivid; those whom she invented as ideals, as
foils for contrast, are lifeless shadows. Her operas are not important.
Towards the close of her literary activity she once more engaged in
journalism, writing a series of satirical sketches, "Facts and Fiction"
(published in 1783), for a new journal, issued on behalf of the Academy
of Sciences by the Princess Dáshkoff, the director of that academy, and
chairman of the Russian Academy, founded in that year on the Princess's
own plan.

This Princess Ekaterína Románovna Dáshkoff (born Vorontzóff, 1743-1810)
was a brilliantly educated woman, with a pronounced taste for political
intrigue, who had a great share in the conspiracy which disposed of
Peter III., and placed Katherine II. on the throne. Katherine richly
rewarded the Princess, but preserved her own independence and supremacy,
which offended Princess Dáshkoff, the result being a coldness between
the former intimate friends. This, in turn, obliged the Princess to
leave the court and travel at home and abroad. During one trip abroad
she received a diploma as doctor of laws, medicine, and theology from
Edinburg University. Her Memoirs are famous, though not particularly
frank, or in agreement with Katherine II.'s statements, naturally. The
Empress never ceased to be suspicious of her, but twenty years later a
truce was patched up between them, and Katherine appointed her to the
offices above mentioned--never held before or since by a woman.

Princess Dáshkoff wrote much on educational subjects, and in the journal
referred to above, she published not only her own articles and Katherine
II.'s, but also the writings of many new and talented men, among them,
Von Vízin and Derzhávin. This journal, "The Companion of the Friends of
the Russian Language," speedily came to an end when the Princess-editor
took umbrage at the ridicule heaped on some of her projects and speeches
by the Empress and her courtiers.

If Katherine II. was the first to introduce real life on the Russian
stage, Von Vízin was the first to do so in a manner sufficiently
artistic to hold the stage, which is the case with his "Nédorosl," or
"The Hobbledehoy." He is the representative of the Russian type, in its
best aspects, during the reign of Katherine II., and offers a striking
contrast to the majority of his educated fellow-countrymen of the day.
They were slavish worshipers of French influences. He bore himself
scornfully, even harshly, towards everything foreign, and always strove
to counteract each foreign thing by something of native Russian origin.

Denís Ivánovitch Von Vízin (1744-1792), as his name suggests, was the
descendant of an ancient German family, of knightly rank. An ancestor
had been taken prisoner in the reign of Iván the Terrible, and had ended
by settling in Russia and assuming Russian citizenship. The family
became thoroughly Russified when they joined the Russian Church. Von
Vízin was of a noble and independent character, to which he added a
keen, fine mind, and a caustic tongue. His father, he tells us, in his
"A Frank Confession of Deeds and Thoughts" (imitated from Rousseau's
"Confession"), was also of an independent character in general, and in
particular--contrary to the custom of the epoch--detested extortion and
bribery, and never accepted gifts. "Sir!" he was accustomed to say to
persons who asked favors of him in his official position, "a loaf of
sugar affords no reason for condemning your opponent; please take it
away and bring legal proof of your rights."

Denís Von Vízin received a thorough Russian education at home--which was
unusual at that era of overwhelming foreign influence; and his
inclination for literature having manifested itself in his early youth,
while still at the University School for Nobles, he made various
translations from foreign languages before entering the Moscow
University, at the age of fifteen. During a visit which he made to St.
Petersburg, while still a student at the University, he saw the theater
for the first time, and soon made acquaintance with F. G. Vólkhoff
(already mentioned), and one of the actors. These things exerted a great
influence upon him. During a visit of the Court to Moscow, in 1755, he
was appointed translator to the Foreign College (Office), with the
inevitable military rank, and went to live in the new capital. After
divers vicissitudes of service, he wrote "The Brigadier," which he was
promptly asked to read before royalty and in society. It won for him
great reputation with people who were capable of appreciating the first
play which was genuinely Russian in something more than externals. It
jeers at ignorance coated over with an extremely thin veneer of
pretentious foreign culture. The types in "The Brigadier" (written about
1747) had long been floating about in literature, and as it were,
awaiting a skillful pen which should present them in full relief to the
contemporary public. Von Vízin set forth these types on the stage in a
clearer, more vivid manner than all previous writers who had dealt with
them, as we have seen, in satires and dramas, from Kantemír to Katherine
II. The characters, as Von Vízin depicted them, were no longer abstract
monsters, agglomerations of evil qualities, but near relations to
everybody. Moreover, the drama was gay, playful--not even the moral was
gloomy--with not a single depressing line.

Totally different is "The Hobbledehoy" ("Nédorosl," 1782), which is even
more celebrated, and was written towards the close of a long career in
the service, filled with varied and trying experiences--part of which
arose from the difficulties of the author's own noble character in
contact with a different type of men and from his attacks on abuses of
all sorts--after a profound study of life in the middle and higher
classes of Russian court and diplomatic circles. The difference between
"The Brigadier" and "The Hobbledehoy" is so great that they must be read
in the order of their production if the full value of the impression
created by the earlier play is to be appreciated. "The Hobbledehoy" was
wholly unlike anything which had been seen hitherto in Russian
literature. Had the authorities permitted Von Vízin to print his
collection of satires, he would have stood at the head of that branch of
literature in that epoch; as it was, this fine comedy contains the
fullest expression of his dissatisfaction at the established order of
things in general. The merits of the play rest upon its queer characters
from life, who are startlingly real, and represent the genuine aims and
ideas of the time. The contrasting set of characters, whom he introduced
as the exponents of his ideals, do not express any aims and ideas which
then existed, but merely what he personally would have liked to see.
Katherine II., with whose comedies Von Vízin's have much in common,
always tried to offset her disagreeable real characters by honorable,
sensible types, also drawn from real life as ideals. But Von Vízin's
ideal characters are almost hostile in their bearing towards his
characters drawn from real life. Altogether, Von Vízin must be regarded
as the first independent, artistic writer in Russia, and therefore
epoch-making, just as Feofán Prokópovitch must be rated as the first
Russian secular writer, and Sumarókoff as the first Russian literary
man and publicist in the modern meaning of the words. It is worth noting
(because of a tendency to that sort of thing in later Russian writers
down to the present day) that towards the end of his life a stroke of
paralysis, in 1785, and other unfortunate circumstances, threw Von Vízin
into a gloomy religious state of mind, under the influence of which he
judged himself and his works with extreme severity, and condemned them
with excessive harshness.

The general outline of "The Hobbledehoy" is as follows: Mrs. Prostakóff
(Simpleton), a managing woman, of ungovernable temper, has an only
child, Mitrofán (the Hobbledehoy), aged sixteen. She regards him as a
mere child, and spoils him accordingly. He is, in fact, childish in
every way, deserving his sobriquet, and is followed about everywhere by
his old nurse, Eremyéevna. Mr. Simpleton has very little to say, and
that little, chiefly, in support of his overbearing wife's assertions,
and at her explicit demand. She habitually addresses every one, except
her son, as "beast," and by other similar epithets. She has taken into
her house, about six months before the play opens, Sophia, a fairly
wealthy orphan, and a connection of hers by marriage, whom she
ill-treats to a degree. She is on the point of betrothing her to
Skotínin (Beastly), her brother, who frankly admits that he cares
nothing for the girl, and not very much for her estate, which adjoins
his own, but a very great deal for the extremely fine pigs which are
raised on it--a passion for pigs, which he prefers to men, constituting
his chief interest in life. Mr. Beastly, who says that he never goes to
law, no matter what losses he may suffer, no matter how much his
neighbors injure him, because he simply wrings the deficit out of his
peasants, and that ends it, declares that Sophia's pigs, for which he
expresses a "deadly longing," are so huge that "there is not one of them
which, stood up on its hind legs, would not be a whole head taller than
any one of us," is eager for the match. While this is under discussion
(Sophia being entirely ignorant of their intentions), the young girl
enters, and announces that she has received good news: her uncle, who
has been in Siberia for several years in quest of fortune, and is
supposed to be dead, has written to inform her of his speedy arrival.
Mrs. Simpleton takes the view that he is dead, ought to be dead; and
roughly tells Sophia that the latter need not try to frighten her into
giving her her liberty, and asserts that the letter must be from the
officer who has been in love with her, and whom she wishes to marry.
Sophia offers her the letter, in proof of innocence, saying, "Read it
yourself." "Read it myself!" cries Mrs. Simpleton; "no, madam, thank
God, I was not brought up in that way. I may receive letters, but I
always order some one else to read them," whereupon she orders her
husband to read it. Her husband gives it up as too difficult, and Mr.
Beastly, on being asked, replies, "I! I have never read anything since I
was born, my dear sister! God has delivered me from that boredom."
Právdin (Mr. Upright), an official charged with inspecting the condition
of the peasants, also empowered to put under arrest cruel proprietors,
and under guardianship of the state those who have been ill-treated,
enters and reads the letter to them. When Mrs. Simpleton learns from it
that Uncle Starodúm (Oldidea) has a large income, and that Sophia is to
inherit it, she immediately overwhelms Sophia with flattery and
affection, and decides to marry her to her precious "child," Mitrofán.
This leads to violent quarrels during the rest of the play between her
and her brother, who wants the pigs; and to violence from the latter to
Mitrofán, who declares that he has long wished to marry, and intends to
have Sophia. In the mean time a company of soldiers, on the march to
Moscow, arrives, and is quartered in the village, while their commanding
officer, Mílon, a friend of Mr. Upright, makes his appearance at the
house, where to his surprise, he finds his lady-love, Sophia, who
promptly explains to him the situation of affairs.

Mitrofán is still under teachers, consisting of Vrálman (Liar), a former
gunner, who is supposed to be teaching him French and all the sciences;
Tzýfirkin (Cipherer), a retired army-sergeant, who instructs him in
arithmetic, and Kutéikin, who, as his name implies, is the son of a
petty ecclesiastic, and teaches him reading and writing, talking always
in ecclesiastical style, interlarded with old Church-Slavonic words and
phrases. He is always doing "reviews," never advancing to new lessons,
and threatens to drown himself if he be not allowed to wed Sophia at
once. There is a most amusing lesson-scene. The teacher of arithmetic
sets him a problem: three people walking along the road find three
hundred rubles, which they divide equally between them; how much does
each one get? Mitrofán does the sum on his slate: "Once three is three,
once nothing is nothing, once nothing is nothing." But his mother
exclaims, that if he finds such a sum, he must not divide it, but keep
it all, and that arithmetic, which teaches such division, is a fool of a
science. Another sum is worked out in equally absurd style, with equally
intelligent comments from the mother. Kutéikin then takes his turn, and
using a pointer, makes Mitrofán repeat after him a ridiculously
appropriate sentence from the Psalms, in the "Tchasoslóff," the "Book of
Hours," or first reader. Vrálman enters, meddles with everybody, in a
strong foreign accent, and puts an end to the lessons, as quite
unnecessary for the precious boy; for which, and his arrogance (when
Mrs. Simpleton and the Hobbledehoy have retired), the other teachers
attack him with slate and book.

Meanwhile, Uncle Starodúm has arrived, and talks in long paragraphs and
stilted language to Právdin and Sophia, expressing the ideal view of
life, conduct, service to the state, and so forth. He, as well as
Sophia, Právdin Mílon, are quite colorless. The Simpletons overwhelm
Starodúm with stupid courtesies, and Mrs. S. gets Právdin to examine
Mitrofán, in order to prove to Starodúm that her darling child is fit to
be Sophia's husband. The examination is even more brilliant than the
lesson. Mitrofán says that door, that is to say, the door to that room,
is an adjective, because it is added, or affixed, to its place; but the
door of the store-house is a noun, because it has been standing off its
hinges for six weeks. Further examination reveals the fact, that
Vrálman's instruction in history has impressed his pupil with the idea
that the histories (stories) told by Khavrónya, the herd-girl,
constitute that science. When asked about geography, the Hobbledehoy
declares that he does not know what is meant, and his mother prompts him
with "'Eography," after asking Právdin what he said. On inquiring
further as to its meaning and its use, and on being informed that it is
a description of the earth, and its first use is to aid people in
finding their way about, she makes the famous speech, frequently quoted,
"Akh, good gracious! What are the cabmen for, then? That's their
business. That's not a science for the nobility. All a noble has to do
is to say, 'Drive me to such a place!' and you're driven whithersoever
you wish. Believe me, my good sir, everything that Mitrofán does not
know is nonsense."

Uncle Starodúm makes acquaintance with Mílon, whose good qualities he
has learned through an old friend, and betroths him to Sophia. Mrs.
Simpleton, on learning of this, and that Starodúm and Sophia are to set
out for Moscow early the next morning, arranges to have Mitrofán abduct
Sophia at a still earlier hour, and marry her. Sophia escapes; Mrs.
Simpleton raves and threatens to beat to death her servants who have
failed to carry out her plan. Právdin then announces that the government
has ordered him to take charge of the Simpletons' house and villages,
because of Mrs. S.'s notorious inhumanity. Vrálman, whom Starodúm
recognizes as a former coach-man of his, mounts the box, and Starodúm,
Sophia, and Mílon set out for Moscow, virtue reigning triumphant, and
wickedness being properly punished--which, again, is an ideal point of

But the man who, taken as a whole, above all others in the eighteenth
century, has depicted for us governmental, social, and private life, is
Gavríl Románovitch Derzhávin (1743-1816). His memoirs and poetical
chronicle furnish the most brilliant, vivid, and valuable picture of the
reign of Katherine II. Moreover, in his own person, Derzhávin offers a
type of one of the most distinguished Russians of the last half of the
eighteenth century, in his literary and official career. He presented a
great contrast to his contemporary and friend, Von Vízin, in that, while
the latter was a noteworthy example of all the best sides in
contemporary social life, with very few defects, Derzhávin was an
example of all the defects of contemporary life, and of several
distinctly personal merits, which sharply differentiated him from others
in the same elevated spheres of court and official life. He was the son
of a poor noble. His opportunities for education were extremely limited,
and in 1762 he entered the military service as a common soldier, in the
famous Preobrazhénsky (Transfiguration) infantry regiment of the Guards.
As he had neither friends nor relatives in St. Petersburg, he lived in
barracks, where with difficulty he followed his inclinations, and read
all the Russian and German books he could obtain, scribbling verses at
intervals. In 1777 he managed to obtain a small estate and the rank of
bombardier-lieutenant, and left the service to become an usher in one
department of the Senate, where he made many friends and acquaintances
in high circles. Eventually he became governor of Olónetz, then of
Tambóff. In 1779 he began "in a new style," among other compositions
therein being an ode "To Felitza," meaning the Empress Katherine II. He
continued to write verses, but published nothing under his own name
until his famous ode, "God" and "The Murza's Vision," in 1785. We cannot
here enter into his official career further than to say, that all his
troubles arose from his own honesty, and from the combined hostile
efforts of the persons whose dishonest practices he had opposed. Towards
the end of Katherine's reign he became a privy councilor (a titular
rank) and senator; that is to say, a member of the Supreme Judicial
Court. Under Paul I. he was President of the Commerce College (Ministry
of Commerce), and Imperial Treasurer. Under Alexander I. he was made
Minister of Justice.

"Katharine's Bard," as he was called, like several of his predecessors,
cherished an idea of fixing a style in Russian literature, his special
aim being to confine it to the classical style, and to oppose the new
school of Karamzín. In this he was upheld by I. I. Dmítrieff, who was
looked upon as his successor. But after Derzhávin heard Púshkin read his
verses, at the examination in the Tzárskoe Seló Lyceum (1815), he
frankly admitted that the lad had already excelled all living writers of
Russia; and he predicted that this school-boy would become the new and
brilliant star.

Despite the burdens of his official life, Derzhávin wrote a great deal;
towards the end of his life, much dramatic matter; yet he really belongs
to the ranks of the lyric poets. He deserved all the fame he enjoyed,
because he was the first poet who was so by inspiration, not merely by
profession or ambition. Even in his most insignificant works of the
stereotyped sort, with much sound and very little thought and feeling,
the hand of a master is visible, and talent is perceptible; while many
passages are remarkable for their poetic figures, melody of
versification, and beauty and force of expression. No poet previous to
Púshkin can be compared to him for talent, and for direct, independent
inspiration. His poetry is chiefly the poetry of figures and events, of
solemn, loudly trumpeted victories and feats, descriptions of banquets,
festivals, noisy social life, and endless hymns of praise to the age of
Katherine II. It is not very rich in inward contents or in ideas. But he
possessed one surpassing merit: he, first of all among Russian poets,
brought poetry down from its lofty, classical flights to the every-day
life of his fatherland at that age, and to nature, and freed Russian
poetry from that monotonous, stilted, tiresome, official form which had
been introduced by Lomonósoff and copied by all the latter's followers.
Derzhávin's language is powerful, picturesque, and expressive, but still
harsh and uneven, the ordinary vernacular being mingled with
Church-Slavonic, and frequently obscuring the meaning; also, and owing
to his deficient education, he often had recourse to inelegant,
tasteless forms. If we compare him with Lomonósoff and Sumarókoff, it is
evident that Russian poetry had made a great stride in advance under
him, both as to external and internal development, in that he not only
brought it nearer to life, but also perfected its forms, to a
considerable degree, and applied it to subjects to which his
predecessors would never have dreamed of applying it. His famous ode
"God" will best serve to illustrate his style:


    O Thou eternal One! whose presence bright
    All space doth occupy, all motion guide;
    Unchanged through time's all-devastating flight;
    Thou only God! There is no God beside!
    Being above all beings! Three in One!
    Whom none can comprehend and none explore;
    Who fill'st existence with _thyself_ alone:
    Embracing all,--supporting,--ruling o'er,--
    Being whom we call GOD--and know no more!

    In its sublime research, philosophy
    May measure out the ocean deep, may count
    The sands or the sun's rays--but God! for Thee
    There is no weight nor measure:--none can mount
    Up to Thy mysteries; Reason's brightest spark,
    Though kindled by Thy light, in vain would try
    To trace Thy counsels, infinite and dark:
    And thought is lost ere thought can soar so high,
    Even like past moments in eternity.

    Thou from primeval nothingness didst call,
    First chaos, then existence. Lord! on Thee
    Eternity had its foundation; all
    Sprung forth from Thee:--of light, joy, harmony,
    Sole origin:--all life, all beauty Thine.
    Thy word created all, and doth create;
    Thy splendor fills all space with rays divine.
    Thou wert, and art, and shalt be! Glorious! Great!
    Light-giving, life-sustaining Potentate!

    Thy chains the unmeasured universe surround:
    Upheld by Thee, by Thee inspired with breath!
    Thou the beginning with the end has bound,
    And beautifully mingled life and death!
    As sparks mount upwards from the fiery blaze,
    So suns are born, so worlds spring forth from Thee;
    And as the spangles in the sunny rays
    Shine round the silver snow, the pageantry
    Of heaven's bright army glitters in Thy praise.

    A million torches lighted by Thy hand
    Wander unwearied through the blue abyss:
    They own Thy power, accomplish Thy command;
    All gay with life, all eloquent with bliss.
    What shall we call them? Piles of crystal light--
    A glorious company of golden streams--
    Lamps of celestial ether burning bright--
    Suns lighting systems with their joyous beams?
    But Thou to these art as the noon to night.

    Yes, as a drop of water in the sea,
    All this magnificence in Thee is lost:--
    What are ten thousand worlds compared to Thee?
    And what am _I_ then? Heaven's unnumber'd host,
    Though multiplied by myriads, and array'd
    in all the glory of sublimest thought;
    Is but an atom in the balance weighed
    Against Thy greatness; is a cypher brought
    Against infinity! What am I, then? Naught!

    Naught! But the effluence of Thy light divine,
    Pervading worlds, hath reach'd my bosom, too;
    Yes! In my spirit doth Thy spirit shine
    As shines the sunbeam in a drop of dew.
    Naught! But I live, and on hope's pinions fly
    Eager towards Thy presence; for in Thee
    I live, and breathe, and dwell; aspiring high,
    Even to the throne of Thy divinity.
    I am, O God! and surely _Thou_ must be!

    Thou art! directing, guiding all, Thou art!
    Direct my understanding then to Thee:
    Control my spirit, guide my wandering heart:
    Though but an atom midst immensity,
    Still I am something fashioned by Thy hand!
    I hold a middle rank 'twixt heaven and earth,
    On the last verge of mortal being stand,
    Close to the realms where angels have their birth,
    Just on the boundaries of the spirit-land!

    The chain of being is complete in me:
    In me is matter's last gradation lost,
    And the next step is spirit--Deity!
    I can command the lightning, and am dust!
    A monarch, and a slave; a worm, a god!
    Whence came I here, and how? so marvelously
    Constructed and conceived? Unknown! This clod
    Lives merely through some higher energy;
    For from itself alone it could not be!

    Creator, yes! Thy wisdom and thy word
    Created me! Thou source of light and good!
    Thou spirit of my spirit, and my Lord!
    Thy light, Thy love, in their bright plenitude
    Fill'd me with an immortal soul, to spring
    O'er the abyss of death, and bade it wear
    The garments of eternal day, and wing
    Its heavenly flight beyond this little sphere,
    Even to its source--to Thee--its author there.

    O thoughts ineffable! O visions blest!
    Though worthless our conceptions all of Thee,
    Yet shall Thy shadowed image fill our breast,
    And waft its homage to Thy Deity.
    God! Thus alone my lowly thoughts can soar;
    Thus seek Thy presence--Being wise and good!
    Midst Thy vast works admire, obey, adore;
    And when the tongue is eloquent no more,
    The soul shall speak in tears of gratitude.

But the literary activity of Katherine II.'s reign was not confined to
its two most brilliant representatives--Von Vízin and Derzhávin; many
less prominent writers, belonging to different parties and branches of
literature, were diligently at work. Naturally, there was as yet too
little independent Russian literature to permit of the existence of
criticism, or the establishment of a fixed standard of taste.

Among the worthy writers of the second class in that brilliant era, were
Kheraskóff, Bogdanóvitch, Khémnitzer, and Kápnist.

Mikháil Matvyéevitch Kheraskóff (1733-1801), the author of the epic "The
Rossiad," and of other less noteworthy works, was known during his
lifetime only to the very restricted circle of his friends. In his
convictions and views on literature he belonged to the epoch of
Lomonósoff and Sumarókoff; by birth and education to the highest
nobility. More faithfully than any other writer of his century does
Kheraskóff represent the pseudo-classical style in Russian epic, lyric,
and dramatic poetry, for he wrote all sorts of things, including
sentimental novels. To the classical enthusiasts of his day he seemed
the "Russian Homer," and his long poems, "The Rossiad" (1789) and
"Vladímir" (1786), were confidently believed to be immortal, being the
first tolerable specimens of the epic style in Russian literature. In
twelve long cantos he celebrates the capture of Kazán by Iván the
Terrible in "The Rossiad." "Vladímir" (eighteen cantos) celebrates the
Christianizing of Russia by Prince-Saint Vladímir.

Ippolít Feódorovitch Bogdanóvitch (1743-1803), who was developed under
the immediate supervision and patronage of Kheraskóff, belonged, by
education and his comprehension of elegance and of poetry, to a later
epoch--on the borderland between pseudo-classicism and the succeeding
period, which was ruled by sentimentalism. His well-known poem,
"Dúshenka" ("Dear Little Soul"), was the first light epic Russian poem,
with simple, intelligible language, and with a jesting treatment of a
gay, playful subject. This subject Bogdanóvitch borrowed from La
Fontaine's novel, "The Loves of Psyche and Cupid," which, in turn, was
borrowed from Apuleius.

The third writer of this group, Iván Ivánovitch Khémnitzer (1745-1784),
the son of a German physician, was unknown during his lifetime; enjoyed
no literary fame, and cared for none, regarding his capacities and
productions as unworthy of notice. In 1779, at the instigation of his
friends, he published a collection of his "Fables and Tales." At this
time there existed not a single tolerable specimen of the fable in
Russian; but by the time literary criticism did justice to Khémnitzer's
work, Karamzín, and Dmítrieff had become the favorites of the public,
and Khémnitzer's productions circulated chiefly among the lower classes,
for whom his Fables are still published. His works certainly aided
Dmítrieff and Krylóff in handling this new branch of poetical literature
in Russia. His "The Metaphysician" still remains one of the greatest
favorites among Russian fables for cultivated readers of all classes.

Briefly told, the contents of "The Metaphysician" are as follows: A
father, who had heard that children were sent beyond sea to be educated,
and that those so reared were more respected than those brought up at
home, determined, being wealthy, to send his son thither. The son,
despite his studies, from being stupid when he went, returned more
stupid than before, having fallen into the clutches of educational
quacks, of whom there is no lack. Aforetime, he had babbled stupidities
simply, but now he began to expound such things in learned wise;
aforetime, only the stupid had failed to understand him, now he was
beyond the comprehension of the wise. The whole house, and town, and
world were bored to death with his chatter. He was possessed with a
mania for searching out the cause of everything. With his wits thus
woolgathering as he walked, he one day suddenly tumbled into a pit. His
father, who chanced to be with him, rushed off to get a rope, wherewith
to drag out "his household wisdom." Meanwhile, his thoughtful child, as
he sat in the pit, reasoned with himself as to what might be the cause
of his fall, and came to the conclusion that it was an earthquake; also,
that his sudden flight into the pit might create an atmospheric
pressure, from the earth and the pit, which would wipe out the seven
planets. The father rushed up with a rope. "Here's a rope for you," says
he, "catch hold of it. I'll drag you out; look out that you don't fall
off!" "No, wait; don't pull me out yet; tell me first, what sort of a
thing is a rope?" "Although the father was not learned, he was gifted by
nature with common sense," winds up the fable.

Another, called "The Skinflint," runs thus:

    "There was once a Skinflint, who had a vast amount of money.
    And, as he was wont to say, he had grown rich,
    Not by crooked deeds. Not by stealing or ruining men.
    No, he took his oath to that: That God had sent all this wealth to
            his house,
    And that he feared not, in the least, to be convicted of injustice
            towards his neighbor.
    And to please the Lord for this, His mercy,
    And to incline Him unto favors in time to come--
    Or, possibly, just to soothe his conscience--
    The Skinflint took it into his head to build a house for the poor.
    The house was built, and almost finished. My Skinflint, gazing at it,
    Beside himself with joy, cheers up and reasons with himself.
    How great a service he to the poor hath rendered, in ordering a refuge
            to be built for them!
    Thus was my Skinflint inwardly exulting over his house.
    Then one of his acquaintances chanced along.
    The Skinflint said, with rapture, to his friend,
    'I think a great lot of the poor can be housed here!'
    'Of course, a great many can live here;
    But you cannot get in all whom you've sent wandering homeless o'er
            the earth!'"

One of Khémnitzer's most intimate friends, and also one of the most
notable members of Derzhávin's circle (being related to the latter
through his wife), was Vasíly Vasílievitch Kápnist (1757-1824), whose
ancestors had been members of an Italian family, the Counts Capnissi. He
owed his fame chiefly to his ode on "Slavery" (1783); to another, "On
the Extirpation in Russia of the Vocation of Slave by the Empress
Katherine II." (1786); and to a whole series celebrating the conquests
of the Russian arms in Turkey and Italy. But far more important are his
elegies and short lyrics, many of which are really very light and
graceful; and his translations of "The Monument," from Horace, which was
quite equal to Derzhávin's, or even Púshkin's. His masterpiece was the
comedy "Yábeda" (Calumny), which was written probably at the end of
Katherine's reign, and was printed under Paul I., in 1798. It contains a
sharp condemnation of the morals in the provincial courts of justice,
and of the incredible processes of chicanery and bribery through which
every business matter was forced to pass. The types which Kápnist put on
the stage, especially the pettifogger Právoloff, and the types of the
presiding judge and members of the bench, were very accurately drawn,
and can hardly fail to have been taken from life. Alarmed by the
numerous persecutions of literary men which took place during the last
years of Katherine II.'s reign, Kápnist dared not publish his comedy
until the accession of the Emperor Paul I., when he dedicated it to the
Emperor, and set forth in a poetical preface the entire harmlessness of
his satire. But even this precaution was of no avail. The comedy created
a tremendous uproar and outcry from officialdom in general; the Emperor
was petitioned to prohibit the piece, and to administer severe
punishment to the "unpatriotic" author. The Emperor is said to have
taken the petition in good faith and to have ordered that Kápnist be
dispatched forthwith to Siberia. But after dinner his wrath cooled (the
petitioners had even declared that the comedy flagrantly jeered at the
monarchical power), and he began to doubt the justice of his command. He
ordered the piece to be played that very evening in the Hermitage
Theater (in the Winter Palace). Only he and the Grand Duke Alexander
(afterwards Alexander I.), were present at the performance. After the
first act the Emperor, who had applauded incessantly, sent the first
state courier he could put his hand on to bring Kápnist back on the
instant. He richly rewarded the author on the latter's return, and
showed him favor until he died. Another amusing testimony to the
lifelikeness of Kápnist's types is narrated by an eye-witness. "I
happened," says this witness, "in my early youth, to be present at a
representation of 'Calumny' in a provincial capital; and when Khvatáïko
(Grabber), sang,

    'Take, there's no great art in that;
    Take whatever you can get;
    What are hands appended to us for
    If not that we may take, take, take?'

all the spectators began to applaud, and many of them, addressing the
official who occupied the post corresponding to that of Grabber,
shouted his name in unison, and cried, 'That's you! That's you!'"

Towards the end of Katherine II.'s reign, a new school, which numbered
many young writers, arose. At the head of it, by reason of his ability
as a journalist, literary man, poet, and savant, stood Nikolái
Mikháilovitch Karamzín (1766-1826). Karamzín was descended from a Tatár
princeling, Karamurza, who accepted Christianity in the days of the
Tzars of Moscow. He did much to disseminate in society a discriminating
taste in literature, and more accurate views in regard to it. During the
first half of his sixty years' activity--that under Katherine II.--he
was a poet and literary man; during the latter and most considerable
part of his career--under Alexander I.--he was a historian. His first
work to win him great renown was his "Letters of a Russian Traveler,"
written after a trip lasting a year and a half to Germany, Switzerland,
France, and England, begun in 1789, and published in the "Moscow
Journal," which he established in 1791. For the next twelve years
Karamzín devoted himself exclusively to journalism and literature. It
was his most brilliant literary period, and during it his labors were
astonishing in quantity and varied in subject, as the taste of the
majority of readers in that period demanded. During this period he was
not only a journalist, but also a poet, literary man, and critic. His
poetical compositions are rather shallow, and monotonous in form, but
were highly esteemed by his contemporaries. They are interesting at the
present day chiefly because of their historical and biographical
details, as a chronicle of history, and of the heart of a profoundly
sincere man. Their themes are, generally, the love of nature, of country
life, friendship; together with gentleness, sensibility, melancholy,
scorn for rank and wealth, dreams of immortality with posterity. His
greatest successes with the public were secured by "Poor Liza," and
"Natálya, the Boyár's Daughter," which served as much-admired models for
sentimentalism to succeeding generations. Sentimentality was no novelty
in Russia; it had come in with translations from English novels, such as
Richardson's "Clarissa Harlowe," and the like; and imitations of them in
Russia. "Sensibility" was held to be the highest quality in human
nature, and a man's--much more a woman's--worth was measured by the
amount of "sensibility" he or she possessed. This new school paid scant
heed to the observation and study of real life. An essential tenet in
the cult consisted of a glorification of the distant past, "the good old
times," adorned by fancy, as the ideal model for the present; the
worship of the poor but honest country folk, the ideal of equality,
freedom, happiness, and nearness to nature.

Of this style, Karamzín's "Poor Liza" is the most perfect and admired
specimen. Liza, a poor country lass, is "beautiful in body and soul,"
supremely gifted with tenderness and sensibility. Erást, a wealthy
noble, possessed of exceptional brains and a kind heart, but weak and
trifling by nature, falls in love with her. He begins to dream of the
idyllic past, "in which people strolled, care-free, through the meadows,
bathed in crystal clear pools, kissed like turtle-doves, reposed amid
roses and myrtle, and passed their days in happy idleness." So he feels
himself summoned to the embrace of nature, and determines to abandon the
high society, for a while at least. He even goes so far as to assure
Liza that it is possible for him to marry her, despite the immense
difference in their social stations; that "an innocent soul, gifted with
sensibility, is the most important thing of all, and Liza will ever be
the nearest of all persons to his heart." But he betrays her,
involuntarily. When she becomes convinced of his treachery, she throws
herself into a pond hard by, beneath the ancient oaks which but a short
time before had witnessed their joys.

"Natálya, the Boyár's Daughter," is a glorification of a fanciful past,
far removed from reality, in which "Russians were Russians"; and against
this background, Karamzín sets a tale, even simpler and more innocent,
of the love of Natálya and Alexéi, with whom Natálya falls in love, "in
one minute, on beholding him for the first time, and without ever having
heard a single word about him." These stories, and Karamzín's "Letters
of a Russian Traveler," already referred to, had an astonishing success;
people even learned them by heart, and the heroes of them became the
favorite ideals of the young; while the pool where Liza was represented
as having drowned herself (near the Simónoff Monastery, in the suburbs
of Moscow) became the goal for the rambles of those who were also
"gifted with sensibility." The appearance of these tales is said to have
greatly increased the taste for reading in society, especially among

Although Karamzín did not possess the gift of artistic creation, and
although the imaginative quality is very deficient in his works, his
writings pleased people as the first successful attempts at light
literature. In his assumption that people should write as they talked,
Karamzín entirely departed from Lomonósoff's canons as to the three
styles permissible, and thereby imparted the final impulse to the
separation of the Russian literary language from the bookish,
Church-Slavonic diction. His services in the reformation and improvement
of the Russian literary language were very important, despite the
violent opposition he encountered from the old conservative literary

When Alexander I. ascended the throne, in 1801, Karamzín turned his
attention to history. In 1802 he founded the "European Messenger" (which
is still the leading monthly magazine of Russia), and began to publish
in it historical articles which were, in effect, preparatory to his
extended and famous "History of the Russian Empire," published in 1818,
fine in style, but not accurate, in the modern sense of historical work.

Karamzín's nearest followers, the representatives of the sentimental
tendency in literature, and of the writers who laid the foundations for
the new literary language and style, were Dmítrieff and Ózeroff.

Iván Ivánovitch Dmítrieff (1760-1810), and Vladisláff Alexándrovitch
Ózeroff (1769-1816), both enjoyed great fame in their day. Dmítrieff,
while under the guidance of Karamzín, making sentimentalism the ruling
feature in Russian epic and lyric poetry, perfected both the general
style of Russian verse, and the material of the light, poetical
language. Ózeroff, under the same influence and tendency, aided in the
final banishment from the Russian stage of pseudo-classical ideals and
dramatic compositions constructed according to theoretical rules.
Dmítrieff's most prominent literary work was a translation of La
Fontaine's Fables, and some satirical writings. Ózeroff, in 1798, put on
the stage his first, and not entirely successful, tragedy, "Yáropolk and
Olég."[7] His most important work, both from the literary and the
historical points of view--although not so regarded by his
contemporaries--was his drama "Fingal," founded on Ossian's Songs, and
is a triumph of northern poetry and of the Russian tongue, rich in
picturesqueness, daring, and melody. His contemporaries regarded "Dmítry
Donskóy" as his masterpiece, although in reality it is one of the least
noteworthy of his compositions, and it enjoyed a brilliant success.

But the most extreme and talented disciples of the Karamzín school were
Vasíly Andréevitch Zhukóvsky (1783-1852) and Konstantín Nikoláevitch
Bátiushkoff (1786-1855), who offer perfectly clear examples of the
transition from the sentimental to the new romantic school, which began
with Púshkin. Everything of Zhukóvsky's that was original, that is to
say, not translated, was an imitation, either of the solemn, bombastic
productions of the preceding poets of the rhetorical school, or of the
tender, dreamy, melancholy works of the sentimental school, until he
devoted himself to translations from the romantic German and English
schools. He was not successful in his attempts to create original
Russian work in the romantic vein; and his chief services to Russian
literature (despite the great figure he played in it during his day)
must be regarded as having consisted in giving romanticism a chance to
establish itself firmly on Russian soil; and in having, by his splendid
translations, among them Schiller's "Maid of Orleans," Byron's "The
Prisoner of Chillon," and de la Mott Fouqué's "Undine," brought Russian
literature into close relations with a whole mass of literary models,
enlarged the sphere of literary criticism, and definitively deprived
pseudo-classical theories and models of all force and influence.

Zhukóvsky's own history and career were romantic. He was the son of a
wealthy landed proprietor named Búnin, who already had eleven children;
when his peasants, on setting out for Rumyántzoff's army as sutlers,
asked their owner, "What shall we bring thee from the Turkish land,
little father?" Búnin replied, in jest, "Bring me a couple of pretty
Turkish lasses; you see my wife is growing old." The peasants took him
at his word, and brought two young Turkish girls, who had been captured
at the siege of Bender. The elder, Salkha, aged sixteen, first served as
nurse to Búnin's daughters. In 1783, shortly after seven of his children
had died within a short time of each other, she bore him a son, who was
adopted by one of his friends, a member of the petty nobility, Búnin's
daughter standing as godmother to the child, and his wife receiving it
into the family, and rearing it like a son, in memory of her dead, only
son. This baby was the future poet Zhukóvsky. When Búnin died, he
bequeathed money to the child, and his widow and daughters gave him the
best of educations. Zhukóvsky began to print bits of melancholy poetry
while he was still at the university preparatory school. When he became
closely acquainted with Karamzín (1803-1804), he came under the latter's
influence so strongly that the stamp remained upon all the productions
of the first half of his career, the favorite "Svyetlána" (Amaryllis),
written in 1811, being a specimen. In 1812 Zhukóvsky served in the army,
and wrote his poem "The Bard in the Camp of the Russian Warriors,"[8]
which brought him more fame than all his previous work, being adapted to
the spirit of the time, and followed it up with other effusions, which
made much more impression on his contemporaries than they have on later
readers. But even in his most brilliant period, the great defect of
Zhukóvsky's poetry was a total lack of coloring or close connection with
the Russian soil, which he did not understand, and did not particularly
love. His poetical "Epistle to Alexander I. after the Capture of Paris,
in 1824," he sent in manuscript to the Emperor's mother, the Empress
Márya Feódorovna. The result was, that the Empress ordered it printed in
luxurious style, at government expense, had him presented to her, and
made him her reader. He was regarded as a great poet, became a close
friend of the imperial family, tutor to the Grand Duchess Alexándra
Feódorovna (wife of Nikolái Pávlovitch, afterwards the Emperor Nicholas
I.), and his fortune was assured. His career during the last twenty-five
years of his life, beginning with 1817, belongs to history rather than
to literature. In 1853, wealthy, loaded with imperial favors, richly
pensioned, he went abroad, and settled in Baden-Baden, where he married
(being at the time sixty years of age, while his bride was nineteen),
and never returned to Russia. During the last eleven years of his
semi-invalid life, with disordered nerves, he approached very close to

Bátiushkoff, as a poet, was the exact opposite of Zhukóvsky, being the
first to grasp the real significance of the mood of the ancient
classical poets, and to appropriate not only their views on life and
enjoyment, but even their plastic and thoroughly artistic mode of
expression. While Zhukóvsky removed poetry from earth and rendered it
ethereal, Bátiushkoff fixed it to earth and gave it a body,
demonstrating all the entrancing charm of tangible reality. Yet, in
language, point of view, and literary affiliations, he belongs, like
Zhukóvsky, to the school of Karamzín. But his versification, his
subject-matter are entirely independent of all preceding influences. In
beauty of versification and plastic worth, Bátiushkoff had no
predecessors in Russian literature, and no competitors in the school of
Karamzín. He was of ancient, noble family, well educated, and began to
publish at the age of eighteen.

We now come, chronologically, to a writer who cannot be assigned either
to the old sentimental school of Karamzín, or to the new romantic school
of which Púshkin was the first and greatest exponent in Russian
literature; to a man who stood apart, in a lofty place, all his own,
both during his lifetime and in all Russian literary history; whose name
is known to every Russian who can read and write, and whose work enjoys
in Russia that popularity which the Odyssey did among the ancient
Greeks. Iván Andréevitch Krylóff (1763-1844) began his literary work
almost simultaneously with Karamzín, but was not, in the slightest
degree, influenced by the style which the latter introduced into Russian
literature; and bore himself in no less distant and hostile a manner to
the rising romantic school of Púshkin. He was the son of an army
officer, who was afterwards in the civil service, a very competent,
intelligent man, who left his family in dire poverty at his death. At
the age of fifteen, Krylóff produced his first, and very creditable,
specimen of his future talent, though obliged, by extreme need, to enter
government service at the age of fourteen, at his father's death. He
filled several positions in different places at a very meager salary,
until the death of his mother (1788), when he resigned and determined to
devote himself exclusively to literature. He engaged in journalistic
work, became an editor, and soon published a paper of his own. But his
real sphere was that of fabulist. In 1803 he offered his first three
fables, partly translated, partly worked over from La Fontaine, and from
the moment of their publication, his fame as a writer of fables began to
grow. But he wrote two comedies and a fairy-opera before, in 1808, he
finally devoted himself to fables, to which branch of literature he
remained faithful as long as he lived. By 1811-1812 his fables were so
popular that he was granted a government pension, and became a member of
the Empress Márya Feódorovna's circle of court poets and literary men.
From 1812-1840, or later, Krylóff had an easy post in the Imperial
Public Library, and in the course of forty years, wrote about two
hundred fables. He is known to have been extremely indolent and untidy;
but all his admirers, and even his enemies, recognized in him a power
which not one of his predecessors in the literary sphere had
possessed--a power which was thoroughly national, bound in the closest
manner to the Russian soil. His fables bear an almost family likeness to
the proverbs, aphorisms, adages, and tales produced by the wisdom of the
masses, and are quite in their spirit. All the Russian poets had tried
their hand at that favorite form of poetic composition--the fable--ever
since its introduction from western Europe, in the eighteenth century;
and Krylóff's success called forth innumerable imitators. But up to that
time, out of all the sorts of poetry existing in Russian literature,
only the fable, thanks to Krylóff, had become, in full measure, the
organ of nationality, both in spirit and in language; and these two
qualities his fables possess in the most profound, national meaning of
the term. His language is peculiar to himself. He was the first who
dared to speak to Russian society, enervated by the harmonious, regular
prose of Karamzín, in the rather rough vernacular of the masses, which
was, nevertheless, energetic, powerful, and contained no foreign
admixture, or any exclusively bookish elements. One of the most popular
of his fables, to which allusion is often made in Russian literature and
conversation, is "Demyán's Fish-Soup." The manner in which the lines are
rhymed in the original is indicated by corresponding figures.


    "Neighbor, dear, my light! (1)
    Eat, I pray thee." (2)
    "Neighbor, dear, I'm full to the throat,"--"No matter. (1)
    Another little plateful; hearken: (2)
    This fish soup, I assure you, is gloriously cooked." (3)
    "Three platefuls have I eaten."--"O, stop that, why keep count, (4)
    If only you feel like it, (4)
    Why, eat and health be yours: eat to the bottom! (3)
    What fish-soup! and how rich in fat (3)
    As though with amber covered. (3)
    Enjoy yourself, dear friend! (5)
    Here's tender bream, pluck, a bit of sterlet here!
    Just another little spoonful!
    Come, urge him, wife!"
    In this wise did neighbor Demyán neighbor Fóka entertain.
    And let him neither breathe nor rest;
    But sweat from Fóka long had poured in streams.
    Yet still another plateful doth he take,
    Collects his final strength--and cleans up everything.
    "Now, that's the sort of friend I like!"
    Demyán did shout: "But I can't bear the stuck-up; come, eat another
            plateful, my dear fellow!"
    Thereupon, my poor Fóka,
    Much as he loved fish-soup, yet from such a fate,
    In his arms seizing his girdle and his cap--
    Rushed madly, quickly home,
    And since that day, hath never more set foot in Demyán's house.
    Writer, thou art lucky if the real gift thou hast,
    But if thou dost not know enough to hold thy peace in time,
    And dost not spare thy neighbor's ears,
    Then must thou know, that both thy prose and verse,
    To all will prove more loathsome than Demyán's fish-soup.

Another good specimen is called:


    When partners cannot agree, their affair will not work smoothly,
    And torment, not business, will be the outcome.
    Once on a time, the Swan, the Crab, and the Pike,
    Did undertake to haul a loaded cart,
    And all three hitched themselves thereto;
    They strained their every nerve, but still the cart budged not.
    And yet, the load seemed very light for them;
    But towards the clouds the Swan did soar,
    Backwards the Crab did march,
    While the Pike made for the stream.
    Which of them was wrong, which right, 'tis not our place to judge.
    Only, the cart doth stand there still.

We have seen that Lomonósoff began the task of rendering the modern
Russian language adaptable to all the needs of prose and verse; and that
the writers who followed him, notably Karamzín, contributed their share
to this great undertaking. Púshkin practically completed it and molded
the hitherto somewhat harsh and awkward forms into an exquisite medium
for every requirement of literature. Alexánder Sergyéevitch Púshkin
(1799-1837), still holds the undisputed leadership for simplicity,
realism, absolute fidelity to life, and he was the first worthy
forerunner of the great men whose names are world-synonyms at the
present day for those qualities. Almost every writer who preceded him
had been more or less devoted to translations and servile copies of
foreign literature. Against these, and the mock-classicism of the French
pattern, which then ruled Europe, he waged relentless battle. He
vitalized Russian literature by establishing its foundations firmly on
Russian soil; by employing her native traditions, life, and sentiment as
subjects and inspiration, in place of the worn-out conventionalities of
foreign invention. The result is a product of the loftiest truth, as
well as of the loftiest art.

His ancestors were nobles who occupied important posts under Peter the
Great. His mother was a granddaughter of Hannibal, the negro of whom
Púshkin wrote under the title of "Peter the Great's Arab." This Hannibal
was a slave who had been brought from Africa to Constantinople, where
the Russian ambassador purchased him, and sent him to Peter the Great.
The latter took a great fancy to him, had him baptized, and would not
allow his brothers to ransom him, but sent him, at the age of eighteen,
abroad to be educated. On his return, Peter kept his favorite always
beside him. Under the reign of the Empress Anna Ioánnovna he was exiled
to Siberia, in company with other court favorites of former reigns; and
like them, returned to Russia, and was loaded with favors by Peter's
daughter, the Empress Elizabeth. His son was a distinguished general of
Katherine II.'s day. Púshkin, the poet, had blue eyes, and very fair
skin and hair, but the whole cast of his countenance in his portraits is
negro. His father was a typical society man, and in accordance with the
fashion of the day, Púshkin was educated exclusively by French tutors at
home, and his first writings (at the age of ten) were in French, and
imitated from writers of that nation. When his father retired from the
military service, he settled in Moscow, and the boy knew all the
literary men of that day and town before he was twelve years of age, and
there can be no doubt that this literary atmosphere had a great
influence upon him. When, at the age of twelve, he was placed in the
newly founded Lyceum,[10] at Tzárskoe Seló (sixteen miles from St.
Petersburg), whence so many famous men were afterwards graduated, he and
the other pupils amused themselves in their play hours by writing a
little newspaper, and by other literary pursuits. Here the lad was
compelled to learn Russian, and the first use he made of it was to write
caustic epigrams. At the school examination in 1815, the aged poet
Derzhávin was among the visitors; and when he heard the boy read his
"Memories of Tzárskoe Seló," he at once predicted his coming greatness.
As is natural at his age, there was not much originality of idea in the
poem; but it was amazing for its facility and mastery of poetic forms.
Karamzín and Zhukóvsky were not long in adding their testimony to the
lad's genius, and the latter even acquired the habit of submitting his
own poems to the young poet's judgment.

Púshkin was an omnivorous reader, but his parents had never been pleased
with his progress in his studies, or regarded him as clever. The praise
of competent judges now opened their eyes; but he had a good deal to
endure from his father, later on, in spite of this. At this period,
Púshkin imitated the most varied poetical forms with wonderful delicacy,
and yielded to the most diverse poetical moods. But even then he was
entering on a new path, whose influence on later Russian literature was
destined to be incalculably great. While still a school-boy, he began to
write his famous fantastic-romantic poem, "Ruslán and Liudmíla" (which
Glínka afterwards made the subject of a charming opera), and here, for
the first time in Russian literary history, a thoroughly national theme
was handled with a freedom and naturalness which dealt the death-blow to
the prevailing inflated, rhetorical style. The subject of the poem was
one of the folk-legends, of which he had been fond as a child; and when
it was published, in 1820, the critics were dumb with amazement. The
gay, even dissipated, society life which he took up on leaving the
Lyceum came to a temporary end in consequence of some biting epigrams
which he wrote. The Prefect of St. Petersburg called him to account for
his attacks on prominent people, and transferred him from the ministry
of foreign affairs to southern Russia--in fact, to polite exile--giving
him a corresponding position in another department of the government.

For four years (1820-1824) he lived chiefly in southern Russia,
including the Crimea and the Caucasus, and wrote, "The Prisoner of the
Caucasus," "The Fountain of Baktchesarái," "The Gypsies," and a part of
his famous "Evgény Onyégin," being, at this period, strongly influenced
by Byron, as the above-mentioned poems and the short lyrics of the same
period show. Again his life and his poetry were changed radically by a
caustic but witty and amusing epigram on his uncongenial official
superior in Odessa; and on the latter's complaint to headquarters--the
complaint being as neat as the epigram, in its way--Púshkin was ordered
to reside on one of the paternal estates, in the government of Pskoff.
Here, under the influence of his old nurse, Arína Rodiónovna, and her
folk-tales, he became thoroughly and definitively Russian, and entered
at last on his real career--poetry which was truly national in spirit.
His talents were now completely matured. His wonderfully developed
harmony of versification has never been approached by any later poet,
except, in places, by Lérmontoff. Quite peculiar to himself, at that
day--and even much later--are his vivid delineations of character, and
his simple but startlingly lifelike and truthful pictures of every-day
life. If his claim to immortality rested on no other foundation than
these, it would still be incontestable, for all previous Russian writers
had scorned such commonplaces.

In 1826 he returned to the capital, having been restored to favor, and
resumed his gay life, which on the whole, had a deleterious influence on
his talents. In 1831 he married a very beautiful and extravagant woman,
after which he was constantly in financial distress, his own social
ambitions and lavish expenditure being equally well developed with the
same tastes in his wife. His inclination to write poetry was destroyed.
He took to historical research, wrote a "History of Pugatchéff's
Rebellion," and a celebrated tale, "The Captain's Daughter" (the scene
of the latter being laid in the same epoch), and other stories. In
these, almost simultaneously with Gógol, he laid the foundations for the
vivid, modern school of the Russian novel. He was killed in a duel with
Baron George Hekkeren-Dantes, who had been persecuting his wife with
unwelcome attentions, in January, 1837. Baron Hekkeren-Dantes died only
a year or two ago.

As a school-boy he had instinctively turned into a new path, that of
national Russian literature. For this national service, and because he
was the first to realize the poetic ideal, his countrymen adored him. To
the highest external elegance and the most exquisite beauty, he fitly
wedded inward force and wealth of thought, in the most incomparable
manner. His finest effort, "Evgény Onyégin" (1822-1829), exhibits the
poet in the process of development, from the Byronic stage to the
vigorous independence of a purely national writer. The hero, Evgény
Onyégin, begins as a society young man of the period; that is to say, he
was inevitably a Byronic character. His father's death calls him from
the dissipations of the capital to the quiet life of a country estate.
He regards his neighbors as his inferiors, both in culture and social
standing, and for a long time will have nothing to do with them. At
last, rather accidentally, he strikes up a friendship with Lénsky, a
congenial spirit, a young poet, who has had the advantage of foreign
education, the son of one of the neighbors. Olga Lárin, the young
daughter of another neighbor, has long been betrothed to Lénsky, and the
latter naturally introduces Onyégin to her family. Olga's elder sister,
Tatyána, promptly falls in love with Onyégin, and in a letter, which is
always quoted as one of the finest passages in Russian literature, and
the most perfect portrait of the noble Russian woman's soul, she
declares her love for him. Onyégin politely snubs her, lecturing her in
a fatherly way, and no one is informed of the occurrence, except
Tatyána's old nurse, who, though stupid, is absolutely devoted to her,
and does not betray the knowledge which she has, involuntarily,
acquired. Not long afterwards, Tatyána's name-day festival is celebrated
by a dinner, at which Onyégin is present, being urged thereto by Lénsky.
He goes, chiefly, that no comment may arise from any abrupt change of
his ordinary friendly manners. The family, ignorant of what has happened
between him and Tatyána, and innocently scheming to bring them together,
place him opposite her at dinner. Angered by this, he revenges himself
on the wholly innocent Lénsky, by flirting outrageously with Olga (the
wedding-day is only a fortnight distant), and Olga, being as vain and
weak as she is pretty, does her share. The result is, that Lénsky
challenges Onyégin to a duel, and the seconds insist that it must be
fought, though Onyégin would gladly apologize. He kills Lénsky,
unintentionally, and immediately departs on his travels. Olga speedily
consoles herself, and marries a handsome officer. Tatyána, a girl of
profound feelings, remains inconsolable, refuses all offers of marriage,
and at last, yielding to the entreaties of her anxious relatives,
consents to spend a season in Moscow. As a wall-flower, at her first
ball, she captivates a wealthy prince, of very high standing in St.
Petersburg, and is persuaded by her parents to marry him. When Onyégin
returns to the capital he finds the little country girl, whose love he
had scorned, one of the greatest ladies at the court and in society; and
he falls madly in love with her. Her cold indifference galls him, and
increases his love. He writes three letters, to which she does not
reply. Then he forces himself into her boudoir and finds her reading one
of his letters and weeping over it. She then confesses that she loves
him still, but dismisses him with the assurance that she will remain
true to her noble and loving husband. Tatyána is regarded as one of the
finest, most vividly faithful portraits of the genuine Russian woman in
all Russian literature; while Olga is considered fully her equal, as a
type, and in popular sympathy; and the other characters are almost
equally good in their various lines.

Besides a host of beautiful lyric poems, Púshkin left several dramatic
fragments: "The Rusálka" or "Water Nymph," on which Dargomýzhsky founded
a beautiful opera, "The Stone Guest,"[11] "The Miserly Knight," and
chief of all, and like "Evgény Onyégin," epoch-making in its line, the
historical dramatic fragment "Borís Godunóff." This founded a school in
Russian dramatic writing. It is impossible to do justice in translation
to the exquisite lyrics; but the following soliloquy, from "Borís
Godunóff," will serve to show Púshkin's power in blank verse. Borís
Godunóff, brother-in-law to the Tzar Feódor Mikháilovitch, has at last
reached the goal of his ambition, and mounted the throne, at what cost
his own speech shows: Scene: The Imperial Palace. The Tzar enters:

                     I've reached the height of power;
    'Tis six years now that I have reigned in peace;
    But there's no happiness within my soul.
    Is it not thus--in youth we thirst and crave
    The joy of love; but once that we have quenched
    Our hungry heart with brief possession,
    We're tired, and cold, and weary on the instant!
    The sorcerers in vain predict long life;
    And promise days of undisturbed power.
    Nor power, nor life, nor aught can cheer my heart;
    My soul forebodeth heaven's wrath and woe.
    I am not happy. I did think to still
    With plenty and with fame my people here;
    To win for aye their love by bounties free.
    But vain are all my cares and empty toils:
    A living power is hated by the herd;
    They love the dead alone, only the dead.
    What fools we are, when popular applause,
    Or the loud shout of masses thrills our heart!
    God sent down famine on this land of ours;
    The people howled, gave up the ghost in torment;
    I threw the granaries open, and my gold
    I showered upon them; sought out work for them.
    Made mad by suffering, they turned and cursed me!
    By conflagrations were their homes destroyed;
    I built for them their dwellings fair and new;
    And they accused me--said I had set the fires!
    That's the Lord's judgment;--seek its love who will!
    Then dreamed I bliss in mine own home to find;
    I thought to make my daughter blest in wedlock:
    Death, like a whirlwind, snatched her betrothed away,
    And rumor craftily insinuates
    That I am author of my own child's widowhood:--
    I, I, unhappy father that I am!
    Let a man die--I am his secret slayer.
    I hastened on the death of Féodor;
    I gave my sister, the Tzarítza, poison;
    I poisoned her, the lovely nun,--still I!
    Ah, yes, I know it: naught can give us calm,
    Amid the sorrows of this present world;
    Conscience alone, mayhap:
    Thus, when 'tis pure, it triumphs
    O'er bitter malice, o'er dark calumny;
    But if there be in it a single stain,
    One, only one, by accident contracted,
    Why then, all's done; as with foul plague
    The soul consumes, the heart is filled with gall,
    Reproaches beat, like hammers, in the ears,
    The man turns sick, his head whirls dizzily,
    And bloody children float before my eyes.[12]
    I'd gladly flee--yet whither? Horrible!
    Yea, sad his state, whose conscience is not clean.


     1. How did the reign of Katherine II. mark a distinct advance
     in the development of Russian literature?

     2. Describe the literary activities of Katherine II.

     3. Who was Princess Dáshkoff?

     4. Describe the early life and character of Von Vízin.

     5. What qualities did he show in his play "The Brigadier"?

     6. How did the characters in his "The Hobbledehoy" compare with
     those in the plays of Katherine II.?

     7. Give an account of this play.

     8. Give the chief events in the life of Derzhávin.

     9. Why is he especially worthy to be remembered?

     10. What are some of the beautiful thoughts in the ode "God"?

     11. How was Kheraskóff regarded in his own day?

     12. What was the character of Bogdanóvitch's poem, "Dúshenka"?

     13. What influence had the fables of Khémnitzer?

     14. Give examples of them.

     15. What incidents show the effect of his comedy "Calumny"?

     16. Give an account of the life of Karamzín.

     17. Give examples of the character of some of his sentimental

     18. What real services did he render to Russian literature?

     19. What importance had Dmítrieff and Ózeroff?

     20. How did the translations of German and French writers, made
     by Zhukóvsky, affect the literary ideals of his time?

     21. Give the chief facts in the life of Krylóff.

     22. Give examples of his fables.

     23. Describe the ancestry and early life of Púshkin.

     24. What is his position in Russian literature?

     25. How were his talents shown in Evgény Onyégin?

     26. What is the character of the soliloquy from Borís Godunóff?


     _The Memoirs of the Empress Katherine II._ Written by herself.

     _The Princess Dáshkoff._ Memoirs written by herself, and
     containing letters of the Empress Katherine II.

     _Original Fables._ Krylóff. (The translation by Mr. Harrison,
     London, 1884, is regarded as the best of the twelve
     translations of Krylóff's works.)

     _Specimens from the Russian Poets._ 2 volumes. By Sir John
     Bowring. Specimens of poetry from Lomonósoff through Zhukóvsky.

     _Prose Tales._ Alexánder Púshkin. Translated by T. Keane.

     _Translations from Púshkin, in Memory of the Hundredth
     Anniversary of the Poet's Birthday._ C. E. Turner.


[5] I take this translation from Sir John Bowring's "Specimens of the
Russian Poets," rather than attempt a metrical translation myself. It is
reasonably close to the original--as close as most metrical translations
are--and gives the spirit extremely well. Sir John Bowring adds the
following footnote: "This is the poem of which Golovnin says in his
narrative, that it has been rendered into Japanese, by order of the
emperor, and hung up, embroidered in gold, in the Temple of Jeddo. I
learn from the periodicals that an honor somewhat similar has been done
in China to the same poem. It has been translated into the Chinese and
Tartar languages, written on a piece of rich silk, and suspended in the
imperial palace at Pekin." There are several editions of Sir John's
book, the one here used being the second, 1821; but the author admits
that in the first edition he stretched the poetic license further than
he had a right to do, in this first verse. The book is now rare, but
this statement will serve as a warning to those who may happen upon the
first edition.

[6] Karamzín's youngest daughter, by his second marriage, was alive when
I was in Russia,--a charming old lady. She gave me her own copy of her
"favorite book," a volume (in French) by Khomyakóff, very rare and
difficult to obtain; and in discussing literary matters, wound up thus:
"They may say what they will about the new men, but no one ever wrote
such a beautiful style as my dear papa!" I also knew some of Ózeroff's

[7] Pronounced Alyóg.

[8] A translation of this--which is too long to quote here--may be found
in Sir John Bowring's "Specimens of the Russian Poets," Vol. II.

[9] These imperial favors and pensions were continued to his children.
His son, an artist, regularly visited Russia as the guest of Alexander
III. I met him on two occasions and was enabled to judge of his father's
charms of mind and manner.

[10] This building still exists, with its garden alluded to in the
"Memories." But though it still bears its name, it is connected by a
glazed gallery with the old palace, famous chiefly as Katherine II.'s
residence, across the street; and it is used for suites of apartments,
allotted for summer residence to certain courtiers. The exact
arrangement of the rooms in Púshkin's day is not now known.

[11] "The Stone Guest" is founded on the Don Juan legend, like the
familiar opera "Don Giovanni." Músorgsky set it to music, in sonorous,
Wagnerian recitative style (though the style was original with him, not
copied from Wagner, who came later). It is rarely given in public, but I
had the pleasure of hearing it rendered by famous artists, accompanied
by the composer Balakíreff, at the house of a noted art and musical
critic in St. Petersburg.

[12] The reference is to Godunóff's presumptive share in the murder, at
Úglitch, of Iván the Terrible's infant heir, the Tzarévitch Dmítry.



Even Karamzín's vast influence on his contemporaries cannot be compared
with that exercised by Púshkin on the literature of the '20's and '30's
of the nineteenth century; and no Russian writer ever effected so mighty
a change in literature as Púshkin. Among other things, his influence
brought to life many powerful and original talents, which would not have
ventured to enter the literary career without Púshkin's friendly support
and encouragement. He was remarkably amiable in his relations with all
contemporary writers (except certain journalists in St. Petersburg and
Moscow), and treated with especial respect three poets of his day,
Délvig, Baratýnsky, and Yázykoff. He even exaggerated their merits,
exalting the work of the last two above his own, and attributing great
significance to Délvig's most insignificant poems and articles. Hence
their names have become so closely connected with his, that it is almost
impossible to mention him without mentioning them.

Baron Antón Antónovitch Délvig (1798-1831) the descendant of a Baltic
Provinces noble, was one of Púshkin's comrades in the Lyceum, and
published his first collection of poems in 1829.

Evgény Abrámovitch Baratýnsky (1800-1844) came of a noble family of good
standing. His poetry was founded on Byronism, like all European poetry
of that day, and was also partly under the influence of the fantastic
romanticism introduced by Zhukóvsky. He never developed beyond a point
which was reached by Púshkin in his early days in "The Prisoner of the
Caucasus," "The Gypsies," "The Fountain of Baktchesarái," and the first
chapters of "Evgény Onyégin." He wrote one very fine poem, devoted to

Nikolái Mikháilovitch Yázykoff (1803-1846) was of noble birth, and
published a number of early poems in 1819. One of his best and longest,
published about 1836, was a dramatic tale of "The Fire Bird." Between
1837-1842 his "The Lighthouse," "Gastún," "Sea Bathing," "The Ship,"
"The Sea," and a whole series of elegies, are also very good. Yázykoff's
poetry is weaker and paler in coloring than Délvig's or Baratýnsky's,
yet richer than all of theirs in really incomparable outward form of the
verse, and in poetical expression of thought; in fact, he was "the poet
of expression," and rendered great service by his boldness and
originality of language, in that it taught men to write not as all
others wrote, but as it lay in their individual power to write; in other
words, he inculcated individuality in literature.

The only one of the many poets of Púshkin's epoch in Russia who did not
repeat and develop, in different keys, the themes of their master's
poetry, was Alexánder Sergyéevitch Griboyédoff (1795-1829). He alone was
independent, original, and was related to the Púshkin period as Krylóff
was to the Karamzín period--merely by the accident of time, not by the
contents of his work. Griboyédoff was the first of a series of Russian
poets who depicted life in absolutely faithful, but gloomy, colors; and
it was quite in keeping with this view, that he did not live to see in
print the comedy in which his well-earned fame rested, at the time, and
which still keeps it fresh, by performances on the stage at the present

There was nothing very cheerful or bright about the social life of the
'20's in the nineteenth century to make Russian poets take anything but
a gloomy view of matters in general. Griboyédoff, as an unprejudiced
man, endowed with great poetical gifts, and remarkable powers of
observation, was able to give a faithful and wonderfully complete
picture of high life in Moscow of that day, in his famous comedy "Woe
from Wit" ("Góre ot Umá"), and introduce to the stage types which had
never, hitherto, appeared in Russian comedy, because no one had looked
deep enough into Russian hearts, or been capable of limning, impartially
and with fidelity to nature, the emptiness and vanity of the characters
and aims which preponderated in Russian society.

He was well born and very well educated. After serving in the army in
1812, like most patriotic young Russians of the day, he entered the
foreign office, in 1817. There he probably made the acquaintance of
Púshkin, but he never became intimate with him, as he belonged to a
different literary circle, which included actors and dramatic writers.
His first dramatic efforts were not very promising, though his first
comedy, "The Young Married Pair," was acted in St. Petersburg in 1816.
In 1819 he was offered the post of secretary of legation in Persia,
which he accepted; and this took him away from the gay and rather wild
society existence which he was leading, with bad results in many ways.
In Persia, despite his multifarious occupations, and his necessary study
of Oriental languages, Griboyédoff found time to plan his famous comedy
in 1821, and in 1822 he wrote it in Georgia, whither he had been
transferred. But he remodeled and rewrote portions of it, and it was
finished only in 1823, when he spent a year in Moscow, his native city.
When it was entirely ready for acting, he went to St. Petersburg, but
neither his most strenuous efforts, nor his influence in high quarters,
sufficed to secure the censor's permission for its performance on stage,
or to get the requisite license for printing it. But it circulated in
innumerable manuscript copies, and every one was in raptures over it.
Even the glory of Púshkin's "Evgény Onyégin," which appeared at about
the same time, did not overshadow Griboyédoff's glory. Strange to say,
Púshkin, who had magnified Délvig, Baratýnsky, and Yázykoff far above
their merits, and in general, was accustomed to overrate all talent,
whether it belonged to his own friends or to strangers, was extremely
severe on Griboyédoff's comedy, and detected many grave defects in it.

Griboyédoff was greatly irritated by his failure to obtain proper public
recognition of his comedy. He expressed his feelings freely, became more
embittered than ever against mankind in general, and went back to
Georgia, in 1825, where he added to his previous poems, and took part in
the campaign against Persia, in which he rendered great services to the
commander-in-chief. As a reward, he was sent to St. Petersburg (1828),
to present the treaty of peace to the Emperor. He was promptly appointed
minister plenipotentiary to Persia, and on his way thither, in Tiflís,
married a Georgian princess. His stern course of action and his
disregard of certain rooted Oriental customs aroused the priesthood and
the ignorant masses of Teheran against him, and a riot broke out. After
a heroic defense of the legation, all the Russians, including
Griboyédoff, were torn to pieces. His wife had been left behind in
Tabreez and escaped. She buried his remains at a monastery near Tiflís,
in accordance with a wish which he had previously expressed.

There is not much plot to "Woe from Wit." Moltchálin, Famúsoff's
secretary, a cold, calculating, fickle young man, has been making love
to Famúsoff's only child, an heiress, Sophia, an extremely sentimental
young person. Famúsoff rails against foreign books and fashions,
"destroyers of our pockets and our hearth," and lauds Colonel Skalozúb,
an elderly pretender to Sophia's hand, explaining the general servile
policy of obtaining rank and position by the Russian equivalent of
"pull," which is called "connections." He compares his with Tchátsky, to
the disadvantage of the latter, who had been brought up with Sophia, and
had been in love with her before his departure on his travels three
years previously, though he had never mentioned the fact. Tchátsky gives
rise to this diatribe by returning from his travels at this juncture,
asking for Sophia's hand, and trying to woo the girl herself with equal
unsuccess. Tchátsky's arraignment of the imitation of foreign customs
then everywhere prevalent, does not win favor from any one. Worse yet,
he expresses his opinion of Moltchálin; and Sophia, in revenge, drops a
hint that Tchátsky is crazy. The hint grows apace, and the cause is
surmised to be a bullet-wound in the head, received during a recent
campaign. Another "authority" contradicts this; it comes from drinking
champagne by the gobletful--no, by the bottle--no, by the case. But
Famúsoff settles the matter by declaring that it comes from knowing too
much. This takes place at an evening party at the Famúsoffs, and
Tchátsky returns to the room to meet with an amazing reception.
Eventually, he discovers that he is supposed to be mad, and that he is
indebted to Sophia for the origin of the lie; also, that she is making
rendezvous with the low-minded, flippant Moltchálin. At last Sophia
discovers that Moltchálin is making love to her maid through
inclination, and to her only through calculation. She casts him off, and
orders him out of the house. Tchátsky, cured of all illusions about her,
renounces his suit for her hand, and declares that he will leave Moscow
forever. Tchátsky, whose woe is due to his persistence in talking sense
and truth to people who do not care to hear it, and to his manly
independence all the way through, comes to grief through having too much
wit; hence the title.

Not one of Púshkin's successors, talented as many of them were, was able
to attain to the position of importance which the great poet had
rendered obligatory for future aspirants. It is worth noting that
Púshkin's best work, in his second, non-Byronic, purely national style,
enjoyed less success among his contemporaries than his early,
half-imitative efforts, where the characters were weak, lacking in
independent creation, and where the whole tone was gloomy. This gloomy
tone expressed the sentiments of all Russia of the period, and it was
natural that Byronic heroes should be in consonance with the general
taste. At this juncture, a highly talented poet arose, Mikháil
Yúrievitch Lérmontoff (1814-1841), who, after first imitating Púshkin,
speedily began to imitate Byron--and that with far more success than
Púshkin had ever done--with great delicacy and artistic application to
the local conditions. Thus, as a vivid, natural echo of this epoch in
Russian life, the poet became dear to the heart of Russians; and in the
'40's they regarded him as the equal of the writers they most loved.

Lérmontoff, the son of a poor but noble family, was reared by his
grandmother, as his mother died when he was a baby, and his father, an
army officer, could not care for him. The grandmother did her utmost to
give him the best education possible at that time, and to make him a
brilliant society man. The early foreign influence over Púshkin was, as
we have seen, French. That over Lérmontoff was rather English, which was
then becoming fashionable. But like many another young Russian of that
day, Lérmontoff wrote his first poems in French, imitating Púshkin's
"The Fountain of Baktchesarái" and Byron's "The Prisoner of Chillon." He
finished the preparatory school with the first prize for composition and
history, and entered the University, which he was soon compelled to
leave, in company with a number of others, because of a foolish prank
they had played on a professor. In those days, when every one was
engrossed in thoughts of military service and a career, and when the few
remaining paths which were open to a poor young man had thus been closed
to him, but one thing was left for him to do--enter the army.
Accordingly, in 1832, Lérmontoff entered the Ensigns' School in St.
Petersburg; but during his two years there he did not abandon
verse-making, and here he first began to imitate Byron. A couple of
poems, "Ismail Bey" (1832) and "Hadji Abrek" (1833) were published by a
comrade, without Lérmontoff's knowledge, at this time. In general, it
may be said of Lérmontoff at that period that he cared not in the least
for literary fame, and made no haste to publish his writings, as to
which he was very severe. Many were not published until five or six
years after they were written.

Soon after leaving the military school Lérmontoff wrote a drama, "The
Masquerade" (1834), and the fine poem, "Boyárin Órsha," but his fame
began only in 1837, with his splendid poem on the death of Púshkin, "The
Death of the Poet," beginning, "The poet perished, the slave of honor,"
in which he expressed his entire sympathy with the poet in his untimely
death, and poured out all his bitterness upon the circle which was
incapable of appreciating and prizing the genius. This, in a multitude
of manuscript copies, created a great sensation in St. Petersburg. Soon
afterwards, on hearing contradictory rumors as to the duel and Púshkin's
death, he added sixteen verses, beginning, "And you, ye arrogant
descendants." One of the prominent persons therein attacked having had
his attention called to the matter in public by an officious gossip (he
had probably known all about it before, and deliberately ignored the
matter), felt obliged to report Lérmontoff. The result was that
Lérmontoff was transferred as ensign to a dragoon regiment which was
serving in Georgia, and early in 1837 he set out for the Caucasus.
Through his grandmother's efforts he was permitted to return from the
Caucasus about eight months later, to a hussar regiment. By this time
people were beginning to appreciate him; he had written his magnificent
"Ballad of Tzar Iván Vasílievitch, the Young Lifeguardsman, and the Bold
Merchant Kaláshnikoff," which every one hailed as an entirely new
phenomenon in Russian literature, amazing in its highly artistic
pictures, full of power and dignity, combined with an exterior like that
of the inartistic productions of folk-poetry. This poem was productive
of all the more astonishment, because his "The Demon,"[13] written much
earlier (1825-1834), was little known. "The Demon" is poor in contents,
but surprisingly rich in wealth and luxury of coloring, and in the
endless variety of its pictures of Caucasian life and nature.

In 1838, while residing in St. Petersburg, Lérmontoff wrote little at
first, but in 1839 he wrote "Mtzyri," and a whole series of fine tales
in prose, which eventually appeared under the general title of "A Hero
of Our Times." This work, which has lost much of its vivid interest for
people of the present day, must remain, nevertheless, one of the most
important monuments of that period to which Lérmontoff so completely
belonged. In the person of the hero, Petchórin, he endeavored to present
"a portrait composed of the vices of the generation of which he was a
contemporary," and he "drew the man of the period as he understood him,
and as, unfortunately, he was too often met with." Lérmontoff admitted
that in Petchórin he had tried to point out the "malady" which had
attacked all Russian society of that day. All this he said in a preface
to the second edition, after people had begun to declare that in the
novel he had represented himself and his own experiences. Naturally
Petchórin was drawn on Byronic lines, in keeping with the spirit of the
'30's, when individuality loudly protested against the oppressive
conditions of life. Naturally, also, all this now appears to be a
caricature, true to the life of the highest Russian society as it was
when it was written. Before he had quite completed this work, in
February, 1840, Lérmontoff fought a duel with the son of Baron de
Barante, a well-known French historian, and was transferred, in
consequence, to an infantry regiment in the Caucasus, whither he betook
himself for the third time. A year later, after being permitted to make
a brief stay in St. Petersburg, he returned to the Caucasus, and three
months afterwards he was killed in a duel (on July 25, O. S., 1841) with
a fellow officer, Martýnoff, and was buried on the estate in the
government of Pénza, where he had been reared by his grandmother. The
latest work of the poet, thus cut off almost before his prime, consisted
of lyrics, which were full of power and perfection, and gave plain
promise of the approaching maturity of the still young and not fully
developed but immense talent.

His famous "Ballad of Tzar Iván Vasílievitch, the Young Lifeguardsman,
and the Bold Merchant Kaláshnikoff" must be given in a summary and
occasional quotations, as it is too long to reproduce in full. It lends
itself better to dignified and adequate reproduction than do his lyrics,
because it is not rhymed.[14] After a brief preface, the poet says: "We
have composed a ballad in the ancient style, and have sung it to the
sound of the dulcimer."

          The red sun shineth not in the heaven,
    The blue clouds delight not in it;
    But at his banqueting board, in golden crown,
    Sitteth the Terrible Tzar Iván Vasílievitch.
    Behind him stand the table-deckers,
    Opposite him all the boyárs and the princes,
    At his side, all about, the lifeguardsmen;
    And the Tzar feasteth to the glory of God,
    To his own content and merriment.

The ballad goes on to relate how the Tzar then ordered the beakers to be
filled with wine from beyond the seas, and how all drank and lauded the
Tzar. One brave warrior, a gallant youth, did not dip his mustache in
the golden cup, but dropped his eyes, drooped his head, and meditated.
The Tzar frowned, rapped on the floor with his iron-tipped staff, and
finding that the young man still paid no heed, called him to account.
"Hey, there, our faithful servant Kiribyéevitch, art thou concealing
some dishonorable thought? Or art thou envious of our glory? Or hath our
honorable service wearied thee?" and he reproaches the youth. Then
Kiribyéevitch answered him, bowing to his girdle, begging the Tzar not
to reproach his unworthy servant, but if he has offended the Tzar, he
begs that the latter will order his head to be cut off. "It oppresseth
my heroic shoulders, and itself unto the damp earth doth incline." The
Tzar inquires why the lifeguardsman is sad. "Has his kaftan of gold
brocade grown threadbare? Has his cap of sables got shabby? Has he
exhausted his treasure? Has his well-tempered saber got nicked? Or has
some merchant's son from across the Moscow River overcome him in a
boxing match?" The young lifeguardsman shakes his curly head, and says
that all these things are as they should be, but that while he was
riding his mettlesome steed in the Trans-Moscow River quarter of the
town (the merchant's quarter), with his silken girdle drawn taut, his
velvet cap rimmed jauntily with black sables, fair young maidens had
stood at the board gates, gazing at him, admiring and whispering
together; but one there was who gazed not, admired not, but covered her
face with her striped veil, "and in all Holy Russia, our Mother, no such
beauty is to be found or searched out. She walketh swimmingly, as
though she were a young swan. She gazeth sweetly, as though she were a
dove. When she uttereth a word, 'tis like a nightingale warbling. Her
cheeks are aflame with roses, like unto the dawn in God's heaven. Her
tresses of ruddy gold, intertwined with bright ribbons, flow rippling
down her shoulders, and kiss her white bosom. She was born in a
merchant's family. Her name is Alyóna[15] Dmítrievna."

He describes how he has fallen in love with her at first sight, and
cares no more for anything in all the world save her, and begs that he
may be sent away to the steppes along the Volga, to live a free kazák
life, where he may lay his "turbulent head" on a Mussulman's spear (in
the fights with the Tatars of Kazán is what is meant), where the
vultures may claw out his tearful eyes, and his gray bones be washed by
the rain, and his wretched dust, without burial, may be scattered to the
four quarters of the compass. Tzar Iván Vasílievitch laughs, advises him
to send gifts to his Alyóna, and celebrate the wedding. The
lifeguardsman then confesses that he has not told the whole truth; that
the beauty is already the wife of a young merchant.

In Part II., the young merchant is represented as seated at his
shop-board, a stately, dashing young fellow, Stepán Paramónovitch
Kaláshnikoff, spreading out his silken wares, beguiling his patrons (or
"guests") with flattering speech, counting out gold and silver. But it
is one of his bad days; the wealthy lords pass and do not so much as
glance at his shop. "The bells of the holy churches have finished
chiming for Vespers. The cloudy glow of evening burneth behind the
Kremlin. Little clouds are flitting athwart the sky. The great Gostíny
Dvor[16] is empty." And Stepán Paramónovitch locks the oaken door of his
shop with a German (that is, a foreign) spring-lock, fastens the fierce,
snarling dog to the iron chain, and goes thoughtfully home to his young
housewife beyond the Moscow River. On arriving there he is surprised
that his wife does not come to meet him, as is her wont. The oaken table
is not set, the taper before the _ikóna_ (the holy picture) is almost
burned out. He summons the old maid-servant and asks where his wife is
at that late hour, and what has become of his children? The servant
replies that his wife went to Vespers as usual, but the priest and his
wife have already sat down to sup, yet the young housewife has not
returned, and his little children are neither playing nor in bed, but
weeping bitterly. As young Merchant Kaláshnikoff then looks out into the
gloomy street he sees that the night is very dark, snow is falling,
covering up men's tracks, and he hears the outer door slam, then hasty
footsteps approaching, turns round and beholds his young wife, pale,
with hair uncovered (which is highly improper for a married woman), her
chestnut locks unbraided, sprinkled with snow and hoarfrost, her eyes
dull and wild, her lips muttering unintelligibly. The husband inquires
where she has been, the reason for her condition, and threatens to lock
her up behind an iron-bound oaken door, away from the light of day. She,
weeping bitterly, begs her "lord, her fair little red sun," to slay her
or to listen to her, and she explains, that as she was coming home from
Vespers she heard the snow crunching behind her, glanced round, and
beheld a man running. She covered herself with her veil, but the man
seized her hands, bade her have no fear, and said that he was no robber,
but the servant of the Terrible[17] Tzar, Kiribyéevitch, from the famous
family of Maliúta, promised her her heart's desire--gold, pearls, bright
gems, flowered brocades--if she would but love him, and grant him one
embrace. Then he caressed and kissed her, so that her cheeks are still
burning, while the neighbors looked on, laughed, and pointed their
fingers at her in scorn. Tearing herself from his hands, she fled
homewards, leaving in his hands her flowered kerchief (her husband's
gift) and her Bokhará veil. She entreats her husband not to give her
over to the scorn of their neighbors, she is an orphan, her elder
brother is in a foreign land, her younger brother still a mere child.

Stepán Paramónovitch thereupon sends for his two younger brothers, but
they send back a demand to know what has happened that he should require
their presence on a dark, cold night. He informs them that
Kiribyéevitch, the lifeguardsman, has dishonored their family; that such
an insult the soul cannot brook, neither a brave man's heart endure. On
the morrow there is to be a fight with fists in the presence of the Tzar
himself, and it is his intention to go to it, and stand up against that
lifeguardsman and fight him to the death until his strength is gone. He
asks them, in case he is killed, to step forth for "Holy Mother right,"
and as they are younger than he, fresher in strength, and with fewer
sins on their heads, perchance the Lord will show mercy upon them. And
this reply his brethren spake: "Whither the breeze bloweth beneath the
sky, thither hasten the dutiful little clouds. When the dark blue eagle
summoneth with his voice to the bloody vale of slaughter, summoneth to
celebrate the feast, to clear away the dead, to him do the little
eaglets wing their flight. Thou art our elder brother, our second
father, do what thou see'st fit, and deemest best, and we will not fail
thee, our own blood and bone."

Part III. picturesquely and vividly describes the scene of the
encounter; the challenge to the combatants to stand forth, by command of
the Tzar, with a promise in the latter's name that the victors shall
receive from him rewards. Then the redoubtable Lifeguardsman
Kiribyéevitch steps forth. Thrice the challenge is repeated before any
one responds. Then young Merchant Kaláshnikoff comes forward, makes his
reverence to the Tzar, and when Kiribyéevitch demands his name, he
announces it, and adds that he was born of an honorable father and has
always lived according to God's law; he has not cast his eyes on another
man's wife, nor played the bandit on a dark night, nor hid from the
light of heaven, and that he means to fight to the death. On hearing
this, Kiribyéevitch "turned pale as snow in autumn, his bold eyes
clouded over, a shiver ran through his mighty shoulders, on his parted
lips the words fell dead." With one blow, the young merchant crushes in
the lifeguardsman's breast, and the latter falls dead, the death being
beautifully described in stately, picturesque language. At sight
thereof, the Tzar Iván Vasílievitch waxed wroth, stamped on the earth,
scowled with his black brows; ordered that the young merchant be seized
and hauled before him. He then demands whether Kaláshnikoff has slain
his faithful servant Kiribyéevitch "voluntarily, involuntarily, or
against his will." Kaláshnikoff boldly makes answer that he has done it
with deliberate intent, and that the reason therefor he will not tell to
the Tzar, but only to God alone. He tells the Tzar to order him to be
executed, but not to deprive his little children or his young widow and
his brothers of his favor. The Tzar replies that it is well Kaláshnikoff
has answered truthfully; he will give the young widow and the children a
grant from his treasury, and give command that, from that day forth, his
brothers may traffic throughout the wide Russian realm free of taxes.
But Kaláshnikoff must mount the scaffold, lay down his turbulent head,
and the executioner shall be ordered to make his axe very sharp, and the
great bell shall be tolled in order that all the men of Moscow may know
that the Tzar has not deprived him of his favor. The execution and
Kaláshnikoff's farewell speeches to his brothers, with his last messages
to his wife not to grieve so greatly, and his commands that she is not
to tell his children how their father died, together with requests for
prayers for his soul, are described in very touching and lofty terms, as
are also the burial, and the scenes at the grave.

       *       *       *       *       *

The influence of Schelling's philosophy on the society of Moscow (the
literary center until half-way through the '30's of the nineteenth
century) was very great. This philosophy held that every historical
nation should express some idea or other; that a nation could be called
historical only on condition of its being independent in this respect;
and that its importance in the progress of general civilization is
determined by its degree of independence. This set all thoughtful people
to considering the place of Russia among the European nations; and all
the problems suggested by this philosophy came up with special force in
the Russian literature of the end of the '30's, and split society into
two great camps--the Slavyanophils (slavophils)[18] and the Westerners.
These camps had existed earlier, but had concerned themselves only with
the purification of the Russian language, or with sentimental admiration
for everything Russian, or for everything foreign, as the case might be.
But now both parties undertook to solve the problems connected with the
fate of the nation.

Schelling's philosophy also suggested new views as to the theory of art
and the significance of literature in the life of a nation, and evolved
the conclusion, that a nation's literature, even more than its
civilization, should be entirely independent. This naturally led the
Slavyanophils to reflect upon the indispensability of establishing
Russian literature on a thoroughly national, independent basis.
Naturally, also, this led to the Slavyanophils contesting the existence
of a Russian literature in the proper sense of the term; since the whole
of it, from Lomonósoff to Púshkin, had been merely a servile imitation
of Western literature, and did not in the least express the spirit of
the Russian people, and of the Schellingists. A number of the professors
in the Moscow University belonged to this party. Naturally the students
in their department--the philological faculty--came under their
influence, and under this influence was reared the famous Russian
critic, Vissarión Grigórievitch Byelínsky (1811-1848). His name is
chiefly identified with the journal "The Annals of the Fatherland" (of
St. Petersburg), where he published his brilliant critical articles on
Griboyédoff, Gógol's "The Inspector," on Lérmontoff's works, and on
those of other writers; on French contemporary literature, and on
current topics at home and abroad, among them articles condemning many
characteristics of Russian society, both intellectual and moral, such as
the absence of intellectual interests, routine, narrowness, and egotism
in the middle-class merchants; self-satisfied philistinism; the
patriarchal laxity of provincial morals; the lack of humanity and the
Asiatic ferocity towards inferiors; the slavery of women and children
under the weight of family despotism. His volume of articles on Púshkin
constitutes a complete critical history of Russian literature, beginning
with Lomonósoff and ending with Púshkin. By these Byelínsky's standing
as an important factor in literature was thoroughly established, and all
the young writers of the succeeding epoch, that of the '50's, gathered
around him. Grigoróvitch, Turgéneff, Gontcharóff, Nekrásoff, Apollón
Máikoff, Dostoévsky, Tolstóy, and the rest, may be said to have been
reared on Byelínsky's criticism, inspired by it to creative activity,
and indebted to it for much of their fame. Byelínsky, moreover, educated
the minds of that whole generation, and prepared men for the social
movement of the '60's, which was characterized by many reforms.

After 1846 Byelínsky was connected with the journal, "The Contemporary,"
published by the poet Nekrásoff, and I. I. Panáeff, to which the best
writers of the day contributed. Here, during the brief period when his
health permitted him to work, he expressed even bolder and more
practical ideas, and became the advocate of the "natural school," of
which he regarded Gógol as the founder, wherein poetry was treated as
an integral part of every-day life. Turgéneff has declared, that
Byelínsky indisputably possessed all the chief qualities of a great
critic, and that no one before him, or better than he, ever expressed a
correct judgment and an authoritative verdict, and that he was,
emphatically, "the right man in the right place."

One author who deserves to be better known outside of Russia produced
the really original and indescribably fascinating works on which his
fame rests during the last ten or twelve years of his long life, late in
the '40's and '50's, although he was much older than the authors we have
recently studied, and began to write much earlier than many of them. His
early writing, however, was in the classical style, and does not count
in comparison with his original descriptions of nature, and of the life
of the (comparatively) distant past. Sergyéi Timoféevitch Aksákoff
(1791-1859), the descendant of a very ancient noble family, was born in
far-away eastern Russia, in Ufá, and was very well educated by his
mother, at schools, and at Kazán University. His talents first revealed
themselves in 1847, in his "Notes on Angling," and his "Diary of a
Sportsman with a Gun," in the Orenburg Government (1852). Most famous of
all, and most delightful, are the companion volumes, "A Family Chronicle
and Souvenirs" (1856) and "The Childhood's Years of Bagróff's Grandson"
(1858). In these Russian descriptive language made a great stride in
advance, even after Púshkin and Gógol; and as a limner of landscape, he
has no equal in Russian literature. The most noteworthy point about his
work is that there is not a trace of creative fancy or invention; he
describes reality, takes everything straight from life, and describes
it with amazing faithfulness and artistic harmony. He was the first
Russian writer to look on Russian life from a positive instead of from a
negative point of view.[19]

Púshkin's period had been important, not only in rendering Russian
literature national, but still more so in bringing literature into close
connection with life and its interests. This had in turn led to a love
of reading and of literature all over the country, and had developed
latent talents. This love spread to classes hitherto unaffected by it;
and among the talents it thus developed, none was more thoroughly
independent than that of Alexéi Vasílievitch Koltzóff (1809-1842), who
was so original, so wholly unique in his genius, that he cannot rightly
be assigned to any class, and still stands as an isolated phenomenon. He
was the son of a merchant of Vorónezh, who was possessed of considerable
means, and he spent the greater part of his youth on the steppes,
helping his father, a drover, who supplied tallow-factories. After being
taught to read and write by a theological student, young Koltzóff was
sent to the district school for four months, after which his education
was regarded as finished, because he knew as much as the people about
him, and because no more was required for business purposes. But the lad
acquired a strong love of reading, and devoted himself to such
literature as he could procure, popular fairy-tales, the "Thousand and
One Nights," and so forth. He was sixteen years of age when Dmítrieff's
works fell into his hands, and inspired him with a desire to imitate
them, and to "make songs" himself. As yet he did not understand the
difference between poetry and popular songs, and did not read verses,
but sang them. The local book-seller was the first to recognize his
poetical tendency, and in a degree, guided him on the right road with a
"Russian Prosody," and other suitable books, such as the works of
Zhukóvsky, Púshkin, and other contemporary poets. A passion for writing
poetry was in the air in the '20's. But although he yielded to this and
to the promptings of his genius, it was a long time before he was able
to clothe his thoughts in tolerable form. An unhappy love had a powerful
influence on the development of his poetical talent, and his versified
efforts suddenly became fervent songs of love and hate, of melancholy,
soulful cries of grief and woe, full of melodious expressions of the
world about him. One of Byelínsky's friends, whose family lived near
Vorónezh, made his acquaintance, read his poems and applauded much in
them. Three years later, in 1833, at the request and expense of this new
friend, Koltzóff published a small collection, containing eighteen poems
selected by him, which showed that he possessed an original and really
noteworthy poetical gift. In 1835 Koltzóff visited St. Petersburg and
made acquaintance with Púshkin, Zhukóvsky, and many other literary men,
and between 1836 and 1838 his fame penetrated even to the knowledge of
the citizens in his native town. He continued to aid his father in
business, but his heart was elsewhere--he longed for the intellectual
companionship of his friends in Moscow, and all this rendered him
extremely unhappy. In 1840 he spent three months with Byelínsky in St.
Petersburg, and after that he remained in Vorónezh, had another unhappy
love affair, and dreamed continually of the possibility of quitting the
place for good. But his father would not give him a kopék for such a
purpose. His health gave way, and he died in 1842, aged thirty-three.

His poems are few in number, and the best of them belong to an entirely
peculiar style, which he alone in Russian literature possesses, to which
he alone imparted significance--the ballad, the national ballad compact,
powerful, rich in expression, and highly artistic. The charm of
nationality is so great, as expressed in Koltzóff's songs, that it is
almost impossible to read them; one wants to sing them as the author
sang the verses of others in his boyhood. Even his peculiar measures,
which are not at all adapted to popular songs, do not destroy the
harmonious impression made by them, and such pieces as "The Forest,"
"The Ballads of Cabman Kudryávitch," "The Perfidy of the Affianced
Bride," and others, not only belong to the most notable productions of
Russian lyric poetry, but are also representatives of an important
historical phenomenon, as the first attempt to combine in one organic
whole Russian artistic literature and the inexhaustible vast inartistic
poetry of the people. "The Perfidy of the Affianced Bride," which is not
rhymed in the original, runs as follows:

    Hot in heaven the summer sun doth shine,
    But me, young though I be, it warmeth not!
    My heart is dead with cold
    Through the perfidy of my affianced bride.

    Woe-sadness upon me hath fallen,
    Upon my sorrowful head;
    My soul by deadly anguish is tormented,
    And from my body my soul doth long to flee.

    Unto men have I resorted for help--
    With a laugh have they turned away;
    To the grave of my father, my mother--
    But they rise not at my call.

    The world grew dark before mine eyes,
    Upon the grass I swooned.
    At dead of night, in a dreadful storm,
    They lifted me from the grave.

    At night, in the storm, I saddled my steed;
    I set out, caring not whither I went--
    To lead a wretched life, to console myself,
    With rancor to demand satisfaction from men.

Romanticism established, as its first principles, freedom of creation
and nationality of poetry, and these principles survived romanticism
itself. Now, while romanticism preached freedom of creation, it
circumscribed this freedom by selecting as subjects for poetical
compositions chiefly the extraordinary sides of life, its majestic
moments. Its heroes were always choice, powerful natures, who suffered
profoundly because of the lot of all mankind, and were capable of
gigantic conflicts against the whole world. Classicism had bequeathed
this habit of regarding as worthy of poetical treatment only heroes who
stood out from the mass, and of depicting these heroes only at critical
crises. All this depended, in a great degree, upon the political and
social conditions which prevailed at that epoch--the beginning of the
nineteenth century. But quieter, more peaceful times dawned, and with
them men's tastes and habits of mind underwent a change. They grew tired
of scorning and hating reality, because it did not conform to their
cherished dreams, and they began coolly to study it. The titanic heroes,
who had become tiresome and anti-pathetic to the last degree, made way
for ordinary mortals in their everyday surroundings. Lyrical exaltation
was superseded by calm observation, or disintegrating analysis of the
different elements of life; pathetic misery made way for cold irony, or
jeeringly melancholy humor; and at last poetry was succeeded by prose,
and the ruling poetical forms of the new epoch became the romance and
the novel. This change took place almost simultaneously in all the
literatures of Europe.

We have seen that Púshkin, towards the end of his career, entered upon
this new path, with his prose tales, "The Captain's Daughter,"
"Dubróvsky," and so forth, and throughout the '30's of the nineteenth
century, the romance and novel came, more and more, to occupy the most
prominent place in Russian literature. We may pass over the rather long
list of second-class writers who adventured in this field (of whom
Zagóskin and Márlinsky are most frequently referred to), and devote our
attention to the man who has been repeatedly called "the father of
modern Russian realism," Nikolái Vasílievitch Gógol (1809-1852). He is
credited with having created all the types which we encounter in the
works of the great novelists who followed him, and this is almost
literally true, at least so far as the male characters are concerned. In
particular, this applies to his famous "Dead Souls," which contains if
not the condensed characterization in full of these types, at least the
readily recognized germs of them. But in this respect, his early Little
Russian Stories, "Tales from a Farm-house Near Dikánka," and the
companion volume, "Mírgorod," as well as his famous comedy, "The
Inspector," must not be forgotten, for they contributed their full
quota. Púshkin was one of Gógol's earliest and most ardent admirers, and
it was because he recognized the latter's phenomenal talent in seizing
the national types that he gave to him the idea for "Dead Souls," which
he had intended to use himself. Thanks to his own genius (as well as to
the atmosphere of the epoch in which he lived), he solved for himself,
quite independently of any foreign influence, the problem of bringing
Russian literature down from the clouds to everyday real life. He
realized that the world was no longer living in a sort of modern epic,
as it had been during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic
campaigns, and that literature must conform to the altered conditions.
Naturally, in his new quest after truth, Gógol-Yanóvsky (to give him his
full name) mingled romanticism and realism at first. But he soon
discovered the true path. He was born and reared in Little Russia, at
Sorótchinsky, Government of Poltáva, and was separated only by two
generations from the famous epoch of the Zaporózhian kazáks, who lived
(as their name implies) below the rapids of the Dniépr. He has depicted
their life in his magnificent novel "Tarás Búlba." His grandfather had
been the regimental scribe--a post of honor--of that kazák army, and the
spirit of the Zaporózhian kazáks still lingered over the land which was
full of legends, fervent, superstitious piety, and poetry.

Gógol's grandfather, who figures as "Rúdy Pánko, the bee-farmer," in the
two volumes of Little Russian stories which established his fame,
narrated to him at least one-half of those stories. His father, also,
who represented the modern spirit, was an inimitable narrator of comic
stories, and the talents of father and grandfather rendered their house
the popular center of a very extensive neighborhood.

At school Gógol did not distinguish himself, but he wrote a good deal,
all of an imitative character. After leaving school, it was with
difficulty that he secured a place as copying-clerk, at a wretched
salary, in St. Petersburg. He promptly resigned this when fame came, and
secured the appointment as professor of history. But he was a hopelessly
incompetent professor of history, despite his soaring ambitions, both on
account of his lack of scholarship and the natural bent of his mind. The
literary men who had obtained the position for him had discerned his
immense talent in a perfectly new style of writing; and after failure
had convinced him that heavy, scientific work was not in his line, he
recognized the fact himself, and decided to devote himself to the sort
of work for which nature had intended him. The first volume of his
"Tales from a Farm-house Near Dikánka" appeared at the end of 1831, and
had an immense success. The second volume, "Mírgorod," was equally
successful, all the more so, as it introduced, together with the pure
merriment which had characterized the earlier tales, and the realism
which was his specialty, so to speak, a new element--pathos; "laughter
piercing through a mist of tears." In this style "Old-fashioned
Gentry"[20] and "How Iván Ivánovitch Quarrelled with Iván Nikifórovitch"
are famous examples. Success always turned Gógol's head, and he
immediately aspired to some undertaking far beyond his powers. In this
case, for instance, despising, as usual, what he could do best, he
planned a huge work, in nine volumes, on the history of the Middle
Ages. Fortunately, his preparatory studies in the history of Little
Russia led him to write his splendid epic, which is a composition of the
highest art, "Tarás Búlba," and diverted him from his ill-digested

He began to recognize that literary work was not merely a pastime, but
his moral duty; and the first result of this conviction was his great
play "The Inspector," finished in April, 1836. The authorities refused
to produce it, but the Emperor Nicholas I. heard about it, read it, and
gave imperative orders that it should be put on the stage, upholding
Gógol with rapturous delight. Everybody--officials, the police, literary
people, merchants--attacked the author. They raged at this comedy,
refused to recognize their too lifelike portraits, and still endeavored
to have the play prohibited. Gógol's health and spirits failed under
this persecution, and he fled abroad, whence thereafter he returned to
Russia only at long intervals and for brief visits, chiefly to Moscow,
where most of his faithful friends resided. He traveled a great deal,
but spent most of his time in Rome, where his lavish charities kept him
perennially poor despite the eventual and complete success, both
artistically and financially, of "The Inspector," and of Part I. of
"Dead Souls," which would have enabled him to live in comfort. He was
wont to say that he could see Russia plainly only when he was at a
distance from her, and in a measure, he proved the truth of his
contention in the first volume of "Dead Souls." Thereby he justified
Púshkin's expectations in giving him the subject of that work, which he
hoped would enable Gógol to depict the classes and localities of the
fatherland in the concentrated form of types. But he lived too long in
Rome. The Russian mind in general is much inclined to mysticism, and
Little Russia, in Gógol's boyhood, was exceptionally permeated with
exaggerated religious sentiment. Mysticism seems to be peculiarly fatal
to Russian writers of eminence; we have seen how Von Vízin and Zhukóvsky
were affected toward the end of their lives; we have a typical and even
more pronounced example of it in a somewhat different form at the
present time in Count L. N. Tolstóy. Lérmontoff had inclined in that
direction. Hence, it is not surprising that the moral and physical
atmosphere of Rome, during a too prolonged residence there, eventually
ruined Gógol's mind and health, and extinguished the last sparks of his
genius, especially as even in his school-days he had shown a marked
tendency (in his letters to his mother) to religious exaltation. Now,
under the pressure of his personal tendencies and friendships, and the
clerical atmosphere of Rome, he developed into a mystic and an ascetic
of the most extreme type. He regarded all his earlier writings as sins
which must be atoned for (precisely as Count L. N. Tolstóy regards his
masterpieces at the present time); and nevertheless, his overweening
self-esteem was so flattered by the tremendous success of "The
Inspector" and the first part of "Dead Souls" that he began to regard
himself as a sort of divinely commissioned prophet, on whom it was
incumbent to preach to his fellow-men. It will be seen that the parallel
holds good in this respect also. Extracts from his hortatory letters
which he published proved to Russians that his day was over. His failure
in his self-imposed mission plunged him into the extremes of
self-torment, and his lucid moments grew more and more rare. He
destroyed what he had written of the second part of "Dead Souls," in
the attacks of ecstatic remorse at such profane work which followed. (By
some authorities it is believed that he did this unintentionally,
meaning to destroy an entirely different set of papers.) In 1848 he made
a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and went thence to Moscow, where he resided
until his death, becoming more and more extreme in his mysticism and
asceticism. He spent sleepless nights in prayer; he tried to carry
fasting to the extent of living for a week on one of the tiny double
loaves which are used for the Holy Communion in the Eastern Catholic
Church, a feat which it is affirmed can be performed with success, and
even to more exaggerated extent, by practiced ascetics. Gógol died. His
observation was acute; his humor was genuine, natural, infectious; his
realism was of the most vivid description; his power of limning types
was unsurpassed, and it is these types which have entered, as to their
essential ingredients, into the works of his successors, that have
rendered the Russian realistic literary school famous. He wrote only one
complete play besides "The Inspector," and it is still acted
occasionally, but it is not of a sort to appeal to the universal public,
as is his famous comedy. The fantastic but amusing plot of this lesser
comedy, "Marriage," is founded upon a young girl's meditations on that
theme, and the actions which lead up to and follow them. The wealthy
heroine of the merchant class, being desirous of marrying, enlists the
services of the professional match-maker, the old-time Russian
matrimonial agent, in the merchant and peasant classes. This match-maker
offers for her choice several eligible suitors (all strangers), and the
girl makes her choice. She is well pleased with it, but suddenly begins
to speculate on the future; is moved to tears by the prospect that her
daughter may be unhappy in a hypothetical marriage, in the dim future;
and at last, driven to despair by this painful picture of her fancy, she
evades her betrothed and breaks off the match.

The interest of "The Inspector" is perennial and universal; official
negligence, corruption, bribery, masculine vanity and boastfulness, and
feminine failings to match, are the exclusive prerogatives of no one
nation or epoch. The comedy is not a caricature, but it is a faithful
society portrait and satire, with intense condensation of character, and
traits which are not only truly and typically Russian, but come within
the ken of all fair-minded persons of other lands. The scene opens in a
room at the house of the Chief of Police in a provincial town. Those
present are: The Chief himself, the Curator of the Board of Benevolent
Institutions, the Superintendent of Schools, the Judge, the Commissioner
of Police, the Doctor, and two policemen.

     CHIEF.--I have summoned you hither, gentlemen, in order to
     communicate to you an unpleasant piece of news. An Inspector is

     JUDGE.--What! An Inspector?

     CHIEF.--An Inspector from St. Petersburg, incognito, and with
     secret orders, to boot.

     JUDGE.--I thought so!

     CURATOR.--If there's not trouble, I'm mistaken!

     CHIEF.--I have warned you, gentlemen. See to it! I have made
     some arrangements in my own department, and I advise you to do
     the same. Especially you, Artémy Philípp'itch! Without a doubt,
     this traveling official will wish, first of all, to inspect
     your institutions, and therefore, you must arrange things so
     that they will be decent. The nightcaps should be clean, and
     the sick people should not look like blacksmiths, as they
     usually do in private.

     CURATOR.--Well, that is a mere trifle. We can put clean
     nightcaps on them.

     CHIEF.--Moreover, you ought to have written up, over the head
     of each bed, in Latin or some other language--that's your
     affair--the name of each disease; when each patient was taken
     sick, the day and the hour. It is not well that your sick
     people should smoke such strong tobacco that one has to sneeze
     every time he goes in there. Yes, and it would be better if
     there were fewer of them; it will be set down at once to bad
     supervision, or to lack of skill on the doctor's part.

     CURATOR.--Oh, so far as the doctoring is concerned, Christián
     Iván'itch and I have already taken measures; the nearer to
     nature, the better--we don't use any expensive medicines. Man
     is a simple creature; if he dies, why then, he dies; if he gets
     well, why then, he gets well; and moreover, it would have been
     difficult for Christián Iván'itch to make them understand him;
     he doesn't know one word of Russian.

     CHIEF.--I should also advise you, Ammós Feódor'itch, to turn
     your attention to court affairs. In the anteroom, where the
     clients usually assemble, your janitor has got a lot of geese
     and goslings, which waddle about under foot. Of course it is
     praiseworthy to be thrifty in domestic affairs, and why should
     not the janitor be so, too? Only, you know, it is not proper in
     that place. I intended to mention it to you before, but always
     forgot it.

     JUDGE.--I'll order them to be taken to the kitchen this very
     day. Will you dine with me?

     CHIEF.--And moreover, it is not well that all sorts of stuff
     should be put to dry in the court-room, and that over the very
     desk with the documents, there should be a hunting-whip....
     Yes, and strange to say, there is no man who has not his
     faults. God himself has arranged it so, and it is useless for
     free-thinkers to maintain the contrary.

     JUDGE.--What do you mean by 'faults,' Antón Antón'itch? There
     are various sorts of faults. I tell every one frankly that I
     take bribes; but what sort of bribes? Greyhound pups. That's
     quite another thing.

     CHIEF.--Well, greyhound pups or anything else, it's all the

     JUDGE.--Well, no, Antón Antón'itch. But, for example, if some
     one has a fur coat worth five hundred rubles, and his wife has
     a shawl--

     CHIEF.--Well, and how about your taking greyhound pups as
     bribes? Why don't you trust in God? You never go to church. I
     am firm in the faith, at all events, and go to church every
     Sunday. But you--oh, I know you! If you begin to talk about the
     creation, one's hair rises straight up on his head.

     JUDGE.--It came of itself, of its own accord.

     CHIEF.--Well, in some cases, it is worse to have brains than to
     be entirely without them. As for you, Luká Lúk'itch, as
     superintendent of schools, you must bestir yourself with regard
     to the teachers. One of them, for instance, the fat-faced
     one--I don't recall his name--cannot get along without making
     grimaces when he takes his seat--like this (_makes a grimace_);
     and then he begins to smooth his beard out from under his
     neckerchief with his hand. In short, if he makes such faces at
     the scholars, there is nothing to be said; it must be
     necessary; I am no judge as to that. But just consider--if he
     were to do that to a visitor, it might be very unpleasant; the
     Inspector, or anyone else, might take it as personal. The Devil
     knows what might come of it.... And I must also mention the
     teacher of history. He's a learned man, that's plain; but he
     expresses himself with so much warmth that he loses control of
     himself. I heard him once; well, so long as he was talking
     about the Assyrians and the Babylonians, it was all right; but
     when he got to Alexander of Macedon, I can't describe to you
     what came over him. I thought there was a fire, by heavens! He
     jumped up from his seat, and dashed his chair down against the
     floor with all his might. Alexander of Macedon was a hero, no
     doubt; but why smash the chairs?([21]) There will be a deficit
     in the accounts, just as the result of that.

     SUPERINTENDENT.--Yes, he is hasty! I have spoken to him about
     it several times. He says: "What would you have? I would
     sacrifice my life for science."

     CHIEF.--Yes, such is the incomprehensible decree of Fate; a
     learned man is always a drunkard, or else he makes faces that
     would scare the very saints.

As the play proceeds in this lively vein, two men about town--in a
humble way--the public busybodies, happen to discover at the Inn a
traveler who has been living on credit for two weeks, and going nowhere.
The landlord is on the point of putting the man in prison for debt, when
the busybodies jump to the conclusion that he is the Inspector. The
Prefect and the other officials accept their suggestion in spite of the
traveler's plain statement as to his own identity as an uninfluential
citizen. They set about making the town presentable, entertain him,
bribe him against his will, and bow down before him. He enters into the
spirit of the thing after a brief delay, accepts the hospitality, asks
for loans, makes love to the Prefect's silly wife and daughter, betroths
himself to the latter, receives the petitions and the bribes of the
downtrodden townspeople, and goes off with the best post-horses the town
can furnish, ostensibly to ask the blessing of a rich old uncle on his
marriage. The Postmaster intercepts a cynically frank letter which the
man has written to a friend, and in which he heaps ridicule on his
credulous hosts. This opens their eyes at last, and at that moment, a
gendarme appears and announces that the Inspector has arrived. Tableau.

Gógol's two volumes of Little Russian Tales, above-mentioned, must
remain classics, and the volume of St. Petersburg Tales contains
essentially the same ingredients, so that they may be considered as a
whole. All the tales in the first two volumes are from his beloved
native Little Russia. Some are merely poetical renderings of popular
legends, counterparts of which are to be found in the folk-lore of many
lands; such are "Vy," and "St. John's Eve's" and the exquisite "May
Night," where the famous poetical spirit of the Ukraína (borderland) is
displayed in its fullest force and beauty. "Know ye the night of the
Ukraína?" he writes. "O, ye do not know the Ukraína night! Look upon it;
from the midst of the sky gazes the moon; the illimitable vault of
heaven has withdrawn into the far distance, has spread out still more
immeasurably; it burns and breathes; the earth is all bathed in silvery
light; and the air is wondrous, and cool, and perfumed, and full of
tenderness, and an ocean of sweet odors is abroad. A night divine! An
enchanting night! The forests stand motionless, inspired, full of
darkness, and cast forth a vast shadow. Calm and quiet are the pools;
the coldness and gloom of their waters is morosely hemmed in by the dark
green walls of gardens. The virgin copses of wild bird-cherry and black
cherry trees stretch forth their roots towards the coolness of the
springs, and from time to time their leaves whisper as though in anger
and indignation, when a lovely little breeze, and the wind of the night,
creeping up for a moment, kisses them. All the landscape lies in
slumber. But on high, everything is breathing with life, everything is
marvelous, everything is solemnly triumphant. And in the soul there is
something illimitable and wondrous, and throngs of silvery visions make
their way into its depths. Night divine! Enchanting night! And all of a
sudden, everything has become instinct with life; forests, pools, and
steppes. The magnificent thunder of the Ukraína nightingale becomes
audible, and one fancies that the moon, in the midst of the sky, has
paused to listen to it.... As though enchanted, the hamlet dreams upon
the heights. The mass of the cottages gleams still whiter, still more
agreeably under the light of the moon; still more dazzlingly do their
lowly walls stand out against the darkness. The songs have ceased.
Everything is still. Pious people are all asleep. Only here and there
are the small windows still a-glow. In front of the threshold of a few
cottages only is a belated family eating its late supper."

Others of the tales are more exclusively national; such as "The Lost
Document," "Sorótchinsky Fair," "The Enchanted Spot," and the like. But
they display the same fertility of invention, combined with skill in
management, and close study of every-day customs, superstitions, and
life, all of which render them invaluable, both to Russians and to
foreigners. More important are such stories as "Old-fashioned Gentry,"
"The Cloak" (from the volume of "St. Petersburg Tales"), wherein kindly
wit is tempered with the purest, deepest pathos, while characters and
customs are depicted with the greatest art and fidelity. "The Portrait,"
again, is semi-fantastic, although not legendary; and the "Diary of a
Madman" is unexcelled as an amusing but affecting study of a diseased
mind in the ranks of petty officialdom, where the tedious, insignificant
routine disperses what few wits the poor man was originally endowed with
by nature.

In Gógol's greatest work, "Dead Souls," all his qualities are developed
to the highest degree, though there is less pathos than in some of the
short stories. This must forever rank as a Russian classic. The types
are as vivid, as faithful, for those who know the Russia of to-day, as
when they were first introduced to an enthusiastic Russian public, in

In the pre-emancipation days, a "soul" signified a male serf. Women were
not taken account of in the periodical revisions; although the working
unit, or _tyagló_, consisted of a man, his wife, and his horse--the
indispensable trinity in agricultural labors. In the interval between
revisions, a landed proprietor continued to pay taxes on all the male
serfs accredited to him on the official list, births being considered as
an exact offset to deaths, for the sake of convenience. Another
provision of the law was, that no one should purchase serfs without the
land to which they belonged, except for the purpose of colonization. An
ingenious fraud, suggested by a combination of these two laws, forms the
basis of plot for "Dead Souls." The hero, Tchítchikoff, is an official
who has struggled up, cleverly but not too honestly, through the devious
ways of bribe-taking, extortion, and not infrequent detection and
disgrace, to a snug berth in the customs service, from which he has been
ejected under conditions which render further upward flight quite out of
the question. In this dilemma, he hits upon the idea of purchasing from
landed proprietors of mediocre probity all their "souls" which are dead,
though still nominally alive, and are taxed as such. Land is being given
away gratuitously in the southern governments of Khersón and Taúris to
any one who will settle on it. This is a matter of public knowledge, and
Tchítchikoff's plan consists in buying a thousand non-existent
serfs--"dead souls"--at a maximum of one hundred rubles apiece, for
colonization on an equally non-existent estate in the south. He will
then mortgage them to the loan bank of the nobility, known as the
Council of Guardians, and obtain a capital. In pursuance of this clever
scheme, the adventurer sets out on his travels, visits provincial towns,
and the estates of landed gentry of every shade of character, honesty,
and financial standing; and from them he buys for a song (or cajoles
from them for nothing, as a gift, when they are a trifle scrupulous over
the tempting prospect of illegal gain) huge numbers of "dead souls."
Púshkin himself could not have used with such tremendous effect the
phenomenal opportunities which this plot of Tchítchikoff's wanderings
offered for setting forth Russian manners, characters, customs, all
Russian life, in town and country, as Gógol did. The author even
contrives, in keen asides and allusions, to throw almost equal light on
the life of the capital as well. His portraits of women are not exactly
failures; they are more like composite photographs. His portraiture of
men is supreme. In fact, there is no such thing in the whole of Gógol's
work as a heroine, properly speaking, who plays a first-class part, or
who is analyzed in modern fashion. The day was not come for that as yet.

"Tarás Búlba," his great historical novel, offers a vivid picture of the
famous kazák republic on the Dniépr, and equally with his other volumes,
it stands in the first rank for its poetry, its dramatic force, its
truth to life. It alone may be said to have a passionate love story.


     1. What special gift as a writer had Yázykoff?

     2. Give the chief events in the career of Griboyédoff.

     3. What was the character of Russian social life at this time?

     4. What was the plot of "Woe from Wit"?

     5. Describe the influence of Lérmontoff.

     6. What is the story of his famous "Ballad of the Tzar, the
     Lifeguardsman, and the Merchant"? Supply full title.

     7. What was Schelling's philosophy, and how did it affect
     Russian thinkers?

     8. What important influence had Byelínsky?

     9. What marked powers of description had Aksákoff?

     10. How does Koltzóff's life illustrate the widening influence
     of Russian literature?

     11. How did the change from poetry to prose writing come about?

     12. Give an account of the chief events in the life of Gógol.

     13. How was the Russian tendency to mysticism illustrated in
     his case?

     14. Describe his famous play "The Inspector." What qualities
     does he show in this?

     15. What are the characteristics of his "Tales"?

     16. Why is "Dead Souls" regarded as his greatest work?

     17. What is the character of "Tarás Búlba"?


     _A Hero of To-Day._ M. Y. Lérmontoff. (Several translations.)

     Works of Gógol: _The Inspector._ (Translated by Arthur Sykes.)
     _Tarás Búlba._ (Translated by I. F. Hapgood.)

     _Dead Souls, St. John's Eve, and Other Stories._ (Selections
     from the two volumes of _Little Russian and St. Petersburg
     Tales_. Translated by I. F. Hapgood.)


[13] Rubinstein used this as a foundation for the libretto of his
delightful opera, with the same title.

[14] Rubinstein used this as the libretto foundation for his opera of
the same title, which was produced once, prohibited by the censor,
produced once again after a lapse of eight or ten years, and again
promptly prohibited. After another interval of years it was again

[15] An unaristocratic form of Eléna--Helen.

[16] The "Guests' Court," that is, the bazaar.

[17] His Russian name, "Grózny," means, rather, "menacing, threatening,"
than "terrible," the customary translation, being derived from "grozá,"
a thunderstorm.

[18] Most Russians prefer to have the world "Slavyáne" translated
Slavonians, rather than Slavs, as the latter is calculated to mislead.

[19] His "Family Chronicle" was the favorite book (during her girlhood)
of Márya Alexándrovna, the daughter of Alexander II., afterwards Duchess
of Edinburg, and now Duchess of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. I made acquaintance
with this fascinating work by reading aloud from her copy to a mutual
friend, a Russian.

[20] Literally, "Old-fashioned Landed Proprietors," who would, as a
matter of course, belong to the gentry, or "nobility," as the Russian
term is. This title is often translated, "Old-fashioned Farmers."

[21] This expression has become proverbial in Russia, and is used to
repress any one who becomes unduly excited.



Under the direct influence of Byelínsky's criticism, and of the highly
artistic types created by Gógol, a new generation of Russian writers
sprang up, as has already been stated--the writers of the '40's:
Grigoróvitch, Gontcharóff, Turgéneff, Ostróvsky, Nekrásoff, Dostoévsky,
Count L. N. Tolstóy, and many others. With several of these we can deal
but briefly, for while they stand high in the esteem of Russians, they
are not accessible in English translations.

Despite the numerous points which these writers of the '40's possessed
in common, and which bound them together in one "school," this community
of interests did not prevent each one of them having his own definite
individuality; his own conception of the world, ideals, character, and
creative processes; his own literary physiognomy, so to speak, which did
not in the least resemble the physiognomy of his fellow-writers, but
presented a complete opposition to them in some respects. Perhaps the
one who stands most conspicuously apart from the rest in this way is
Iván Alexándrovitch Gontcharóff (1812-1890). He was the son of a wealthy
landed proprietor in the southeastern government of Simbírsk, pictures
of which district are reproduced in his most famous novel, "Oblómoff."
This made its appearance in 1858. No one who did not live in Russia at
that time can fully comprehend what an overwhelming sensation it
created. It was like a bomb projected into the midst of cultivated
society at the moment when every one was profoundly affected by the
agitation which preceded the emancipation of the serfs (1861), when the
literature of the day was engaged in preaching a crusade against
slumberous inactivity, inertia, and stagnation. The special point about
Gontcharóff's contribution to this crusade against the order of things,
and in favor of progress, was that no one could regard "Oblómoff" from
the objective point of view. Every one was compelled to treat it
subjectively, apply the type of the hero to his own case, and admit that
in greater or less degree he possessed some of Oblómoff's
characteristics. In this romance the gift of generalization reached its
highest point. Oblómoff not only represented the type of the landed
proprietor, as developed by the institution of serfdom, but the racial
type, which comprised the traits common to Russians in general, without
regard to their social rank, class, or vocation. In fact, so typical was
this character that it furnished a new word to the language,
"oblómovshtchina,"--the state of being like Oblómoff. Oblómoff carried
the national indolence--"_khalátnost_," or dressing-gown laziness, the
Russians call it in general--to such a degree that he not only was
unable to do anything, but he was not able even to enjoy himself. Added
to this, he was afflicted with aristocratic enervation of his faculties,
unhealthy timidity, incapacity to take the smallest energetic effort,
dove-like gentleness, and tenderness of soul, rendering him utterly
incapable of defending his own interests or happiness in the slightest
degree. And these characteristics were recognized as appertaining to
Russians in general, even to those who had never owned serfs, and thus
the type presented by Oblómoff may be said to be not only racial, but to
a certain extent universal--one of the immortal types, like Don Quixote,
Don Juan, Hamlet, and the like. The chief female character in the book,
Olga, can hardly be called the heroine; she appears too briefly for
that. But she is admitted to be a fine portrait of the Russian woman as
she was about to become, not as she then existed. Gontcharóff's "An
Every-day Story" is also celebrated; equally so is his "The Ravine," a
very distressing picture of the unprincipled character of an anarchist.
As the author changed his mind about the hero in part while writing the
book, it is not convincing.

Another of the men who made his mark at this time was Dmítry
Vasílievitch Grigoróvitch (born in 1812), who wrote a number of
brilliant books between 1847-1855. His chief merit is that he was the
first to begin the difficult study of the common people; the first who
talked in literature about the peasants, their needs, their virtues,
their helplessness, their misfortunes, and their sufferings. Of his
early short stories, "Antón Goremýka" (wretched fellow) is the best. In
it he is free from the reproach which was leveled at his later and more
ambitious long stories, "The Emigrants" and "The Fishermen." In the
latter, for the sake of lengthening the tale, and of enlisting interest
by making it conform to the general taste of readers, he made the
interest center on a love-story, in which the emotions and procedure
were described as being like those in the higher walks of life; and this
did not agree with the facts of the case. But the remainder of the
stories are founded on a genuine study of peasant ways and feelings.
Grigoróvitch had originally devoted himself to painting, and after 1855
he returned to that profession, but between 1884-1898 he again began to
publish stories.

Among the writers who followed Grigoróvitch in his studies of peasant
life, was Iván Sergyéevitch Turgéneff (1818-1883), who may be said not
only to have produced the most artistic pictures of that sphere ever
written by a Russian, but to have summed up in his longer novels devoted
to the higher classes, in a manner not to be surpassed, and in a
language and style as polished and brilliant as a collection of precious
stones--a whole obscure period of changes and unrest. He was descended
from an ancient noble family, and his father served in a cuirassier
regiment. On the family estate in the government of Orél[22] (where,
later in life, he laid the scene of his famous "Notes of a Sportsman"),
he was well provided with teachers of various nationalities--Russian
excepted. One of his mother's serfs, a man passionately fond of reading,
and a great admirer of Kheraskóff, was the first to initiate the boy
into Russian literature, with "The Rossiad." In 1834 Turgéneff entered
the Moscow University, but soon went to St. Petersburg, and there
completed his course in the philological department. Before he
graduated, however, he had begun to write, and even to publish his
literary efforts. After spending two years in Berlin, to finish his
studies, he returned to Moscow, in 1841, and there made acquaintance
with the Slavyanophils--the Aksákoffs, Khomyakóff (a military man,
chiefly known by his theological writings), and others, the leaders of
the new cult. But Turgéneff, thoroughly imbued with western ideas, did
not embrace it. He entered the government service, although there was no
necessity for his so doing, but soon left it to devote himself entirely
to literature, Byelínsky having written an enthusiastic article about a
poem which Turgéneff had published under another name. But poetry was
not Turgéneff's strong point, any more than was the drama, though he
wrote a number of plays later on, some of which have much merit, and are
still acted occasionally. He found his true path in 1846, when the
success of his first sketch from peasant life, "Khor and Kalínitch,"
encouraged him to follow it up with more of the same sort; the result
being the famous collection "The Notes (or Diary) of a Sportsman."
These, together with numerous other short stories, written between
1844-1850, won for him great and permanent literary fame.

The special strength of the "school of the '40's" consisted in its
combining in one organic and harmonious whole several currents of
literature which had hitherto flowed separately and suffered from
one-sidedness. The two chief currents were, on the one hand, the
objectivity of the Púshkin school, artistic contemplation of everything
poetical in Russian life; and on the other hand, the negatively
satirical current of naturalism, of the Gógol school, whose principal
attention was directed to the imperfections of Russian life. To these
were added, by the writers of the '40's, a social-moral movement, the
fermentation of ideas, which is visible in the educated classes of
Russian society in the '40's and '50's. As this movement was effected
under the influence of the French literature of the '30's and '40's, of
which Victor Hugo and Georges Sand were the leading exponents (whose
ideas were expressed under the form of romanticism), these writers
exercised the most influence on the Russian writers of the immediately
succeeding period. But it must be stated that their influence was purely
intellectual and moral, and not in the least artistic in character. The
influence of the French romanticists on the Russian writers of the '40's
consisted in the fact that the latter, imbued with the ideas of the
former, engaged in the analysis of Russian life, which constitutes the
strength and the merit of the Russian literature of that epoch.

Of all the Russian writers of that period, Turgéneff was indisputably
the greatest. No one could have been more advantageously situated for
the study of the mutual relations between landed proprietors and serfs.
The Turgéneff family offered a very sharp type of old-fashioned
landed-proprietor manners. Not one gentle or heartfelt trait softened
the harshness of those manners, which were based wholly upon merciless
despotism, and weighed oppressively not only upon the peasants, but upon
the younger members of the family. Every one in the household was kept
in a perennial tremor of alarm, and lived in hourly, momentary
expectation of some savage punishment. Moreover, the author's father
(who is depicted in the novel "First Love"), was much younger than his
wife, whom he did not love, having married her for her money. His
mother's portrait is to be found in "Púnin and Babúrin." Extremely
unhappy in her childhood and youth, when she got the chance at last she
became a pitiless despot, greedy of power, and indulged the caprices and
fantastic freaks suggested by her shattered nerves upon her family, the
house-servants, and the serfs. It is but natural that from such an
experience as this Turgéneff should have cherished, from the time of
his miserable childhood (his disagreements with his mother later in
life are matters of record also), impressions which made of him the
irreconcilable foe of serfdom. In depicting, in his "Notes of a
Sportsman," the tyranny of the landed gentry over their serfs, he could
have drawn upon his personal experience and the touching tale "Mumú;"
actually is the reproduction of an episode which occurred in his home.
His "Notes of a Sportsman" constitutes a noteworthy historical monument
of the period, not only as a work of the highest art, but also as a
protest against serfdom. In a way these stories form a worthy
continuation of Gógol's "Dead Souls." In them, as in all his other
stories, at every step the reader encounters not only clear-cut
portraits of persons, but those enchanting pictures of nature for which
he is famous.

The publication of his short sketches from peasant life in book
form--"Notes of a Sportsman"--aroused great displeasure in official
circles; officialdom looked askance upon Turgéneff because also of his
long residence abroad. Consequently, when, in 1852, he published in a
Moscow newspaper a eulogistic article on Gógol (when the latter died),
which had been prohibited by the censor in St. Petersburg, the
authorities seized the opportunity to punish him. He was arrested and
condemned to a month in jail, which the daughter of the police-officer
who had charge of him, contrived to convert into residence in their
quarters, where Turgéneff wrote "Mumú"; and to residence on his estate,
which he was not allowed to leave for about two years. In 1855 he went
abroad, and thereafter he spent most of his time in Paris, Baden-Baden
(later in Bougival), returning from time to time to his Russian estate.
During this period his talent attained its zenith, and he wrote all the
most noteworthy works which assured him fame: "Rúdin," "Faust," "A Nest
of Nobles," "On the Eve," and "First Love," which alone would have
sufficed to immortalize him. In 1860 he published an article entitled
"Hamlet and Don Quixote," which throws a brilliant light upon the
characters of all his types, and upon their inward springs of action.
And at last, in 1862, came his famous "Fathers and Children." The key to
the comprehension of his works is contained in his "Hamlet and Don
Quixote." His idea is that in these two types are incarnated all the
fundamental, contrasting peculiarities of the human race--both poles of
the axis upon which it revolves--and that all people belong, more or
less, to one of these two types; that every one of us inclines to be
either a Hamlet or a Don Quixote. "It is true," he adds, "that in our
day the Hamlets have become far more numerous than the Don Quixotes, but
the Don Quixotes have not died out, nevertheless." Such is his hero
"Rúdin," that central type of the men of the '40's--a man whose whole
vocation consists in the dissemination of enlightening ideas, but who,
at the same time, exhibits the most complete incapacity in all his
attempts to realize those ideas in practice, and scandalous
pusillanimity when there is a question of any step which is, in the
slightest degree, decisive--a man of the head alone, incapable of doing
anything himself, because he has no nature, no blood. Such, again, is
Lavrétzky ("A Nest of Nobles"), that concentrated type, not only of the
man from the best class of the landed gentry, but in general, of the
educated Slavonic man--a man who is sympathetic in the highest degree,
full of tenderness, of gentle humanity and kindliness, but who, at the
same time, does not contribute to life the smallest active principle,
who passively yields to circumstances, like a chip borne on the stormy
torrent. Such are the majority of Turgéneff's heroes, beginning with the
hero of "Ásya," and ending with Sánin, in "Spring Floods," and
Litvínoff, in "Smoke." Several Don Quixotes are to be found in his
works, but not many, and they are of two sorts. One typically Russian
category includes Andréi Kólosoff, and Yákoff Pásinkoff, Púnin, and a
few others; the second are Volýntzeff and Uvár Ivánovitch, in "On the
Eve." A third type, invented by Turgéneff as an offset to the Hamlets,
is represented by Insároff in "On the Eve."

With the publication, in 1862, of "Fathers and Children," a fateful
crisis occurred in Turgéneff's career. In his memoirs and in his letters
he insists that in the character of Bazároff he had no intention of
writing a caricature on the young generation, and of bearing himself in
a negative manner towards it. "My entire novel," he writes, "is directed
against the nobility as the leading class." Nevertheless, the book
raised a tremendous storm. His mistake lay in not recognizing in the new
type of men depicted under the character of Bazároff enthusiasts endowed
with all the merits and defects of people of that sort; but on the
contrary, they impressed him as skeptics, rejecters of all conventions,
and he christened them with the name of "nihilists," which was the cause
of the whole uproar, as he himself admitted. But he declares that he
employed the word not as a reproach, or with the aim of insulting, but
merely as an accurate and rational expression of an historical fact,
which had made its appearance.

Turgéneff always regarded himself as a pupil of Púshkin, and a worthy
pupil he was, but he worked out his own independent style, and in turn
called forth a horde of imitators. It may be said of Turgéneff, that he
created the artistic Russian novel, carrying it to the pitch of
perfection in the matter of elegance, and finely proportioned exposition
and arrangement of its parts--its architecture, so to speak--combined
with artless simplicity and realism. The peculiarity of Turgéneff's
style consists in the remarkable softness and tenderness of its tones,
combined with a certain mistiness of coloring, which recalls the air and
sky of central Russia. Not a single harsh or coarse line is to be found
in Turgéneff's work; not a single glaring hue. The objects depicted do
not immediately start forth before you, in full proportions, but are
gradually depicted in a mass of small details with all the most delicate
shades. Turgéneff is most renowned artistically for the landscapes which
are scattered through his works, and principally portray the nature of
his native locality, central Russia. Equally famous, and executed with
no less mastery and art, are his portrayal and analysis of the various
vicissitudes of the tender passion, and in this respect, he was regarded
as a connoisseur of the feminine heart. A special epithet, "the bard of
love," was often applied to him. Along with a series of masculine types,
Turgéneff's works present a whole gallery of Russian women of the '50's
and '60's, portrayed in a matchless manner with the touch of absolute
genius. And it is a fact worth noting that in his works, as in those of
all the "authors of the '40's," the women stand immeasurably higher than
the men. The heroines are frequently set forth in all their moral
grandeur, as though with the express intention of overshadowing the
insignificance of the heroes who are placed beside them.

Towards the beginning of the '60's, the germs of pessimism began to make
their appearance in Turgéneff's work, and its final expression came in
"Poems in Prose." The source of this pessimism must be sought in his
whole past, beginning with the impressions of his childhood, and the
disintegrating influence of the reaction of the '50's, when the nation's
hopes of various reforms seemed to have been blighted, and ending with a
whole mass of experiences of life and the literary failures and
annoyances which he underwent during the second half of his life. And in
this connection it must not be forgotten that the very spirit of
analysis and skepticism wherewith the school of writers of the '40's is
imbued, leads straight to pessimism, like any other sort of skepticism.

The following specimen, from "The Notes of a Sportsman," is selected
chiefly for its comparative brevity:


     I was driving from the chase one evening alone in a racing
     gig.[23] I was about eight versts from my house; my good mare
     was stepping briskly along the dusty road, snorting and
     twitching her ears from time to time; my weary dog never
     quitted the hind wheels, as though he were tied there. A
     thunderstorm was coming on. In front of me a huge, purplish
     cloud was slowly rising from behind the forest; overhead, and
     advancing to meet me, floated long, gray clouds; the willows
     were rustling and whispering with apprehension. The stifling
     heat suddenly gave way to a damp chill; the shadows swiftly
     thickened. I slapped the reins on the horse's back, descended
     into a ravine, crossed a dry brook, all overgrown with
     scrub-willows, ascended the hill, and drove into the forest.
     The road in front of me wound along among thick clumps of
     hazel-bushes, and was already inundated with gloom; I advanced
     with difficulty. My gig jolted over the firm roots of the
     centenarian oaks and lindens, which incessantly intersected the
     long, deep ruts--the traces of cart-wheels; my horse began to
     stumble. A strong wind suddenly began to drone up above, the
     trees grew turbulent, big drops of rain clattered sharply, and
     splashed on the leaves, the lightning and thunder burst forth,
     the rain poured in torrents. I drove at a foot-pace, and was
     speedily compelled to halt; my horse stuck fast. I could not
     see a single object. I sheltered myself after a fashion under a
     wide-spreading bush. Bent double, with my face wrapped up, I
     was patiently awaiting the end of the storm, when, suddenly, by
     the gleam of a lightning-flash, it seemed to me that I descried
     a tall figure on the road. I began to gaze attentively in that
     direction--the same figure sprang out of the earth as it were
     beside my gig.

     "Who is this?" asked a sonorous voice.

     "Who are you yourself?"

     "I'm the forester here."

     I mentioned my name.

     "Ah, I know; you are on your way home?"

     "Yes. But you see what a storm--"

     "Yes, it is a thunderstorm," replied the voice. A white flash
     of lightning illuminated the forester from head to foot; a
     short, crashing peal of thunder resounded immediately
     afterwards. The rain poured down with redoubled force.

     "It will not pass over very soon," continued the forester.

     "What is to be done?"

     "I'll conduct you to my cottage if you like," he said,

     "Pray do."

     "Please take your seat."

     He stepped to the mare's head, took her by the bit, and turned
     her from the spot. We set out. I clung to the cushion of the
     drózhky, which rocked like a skiff at sea, and called the dog.
     My poor mare splashed her feet heavily through the mire,
     slipped, stumbled; the forester swayed from right to left in
     front of the shafts like a specter. Thus we proceeded for
     rather a long time. At last my guide came to a halt. "Here we
     are at home, master," he said, in a calm voice. A wicket gate
     squeaked, several puppies began to bark all together. I raised
     my head, and by the glare of the lightning, I descried a tiny
     hut, in the center of a spacious yard, surrounded with wattled
     hedge. From one tiny window a small light cast a dull gleam.
     The forester led the horse up to the porch, and knocked at the
     door. "Right away! right away!" resounded a shrill little
     voice, and the patter of bare feet became audible, the bolt
     screeched, and a little girl, about twelve years of age, clad
     in a miserable little chemise, girt about with a bit of list,
     and holding a lantern in her hand, made her appearance on the

     "Light the gentleman," he said to her:--"and I will put your
     carriage under the shed."

     The little lass glanced at me, and entered the cottage. I
     followed her. The forester's cottage consisted of one room,
     smoke-begrimed, low-ceiled and bare, without any sleeping-shelf
     over the oven, and without any partitions; a tattered sheepskin
     coat hung against the wall. On the wall-bench hung a
     single-barreled gun; in the corner lay scattered a heap of
     rags; two large pots stood beside the oven. A pine-knot was
     burning on the table, sputtering mournfully, and on the point
     of dying out. Exactly in the middle of the room hung a cradle,
     suspended from the end of a long pole. The little maid
     extinguished the lantern, seated herself on a tiny bench, and
     began to rock the cradle with her left hand, while with her
     right she put the pine-knot to rights. I looked about me, and
     my heart grew sad within me; it is not cheerful to enter a
     peasant's hut by night. The baby in the cradle was breathing
     heavily and rapidly.

     "Is it possible that thou art alone here?" I asked the little

     "Yes," she uttered, almost inaudibly.

     "Art thou the forester's daughter?"

     "Yes," she whispered.

     The door creaked, and the forester stepped across the
     threshold, bending his head as he did so. He picked up the
     lantern from the floor, went to the table, and ignited the

     "Probably you are not accustomed to a pine-knot," he said, as
     he shook his curls.

     I looked at him. Rarely has it been my fortune to behold such a
     fine, dashing fellow. He was tall of stature, broad-shouldered,
     and splendidly built. From beneath his dripping shirt, which
     was open on the breast, his mighty muscles stood prominently
     forth. A curly black beard covered half of his surly and manly
     face; from beneath his broad eyebrows, which met over his nose,
     small, brown eyes gazed bravely forth. He set his hands lightly
     on his hips, and stood before me.

     I thanked him, and asked his name.

     "My name is Fomá," he replied--"but my nickname is 'The

     "Ah, are you The Wolf?"

     I gazed at him with redoubled curiosity. From my Ermoláï and
     from others I had often heard about the forester, The Wolf,
     whom all the peasants round about feared like fire. According
     to their statements, never before had there existed in the
     world such a master of his business. "He gives no one a chance
     to carry off trusses of brushwood, no matter what the hour may
     be; even at midnight, he drops down like snow on one's head,
     and you need not think of offering resistance--he's as strong
     and as crafty as the Devil.... And it's impossible to catch him
     by any means; neither with liquor nor with money; he won't
     yield to any allurement. More than once good men have made
     preparations to put him out of the world, but no, he doesn't
     give them a chance."

     That was the way the neighboring peasants expressed themselves
     about The Wolf.

     "So thou art The Wolf," I repeated. "I've heard of you,
     brother. They say that thou givest no quarter to any one."

     "I perform my duty," he replied, surlily; "it is not right to
     eat the master's bread for nothing."

     He pulled his axe from his girdle, sat down on the floor, and
     began to chop a pine-knot.

     "Hast thou no housewife?" I asked him.

     "No," he replied, and brandished his axe fiercely.

     "She is dead, apparently."

     "No--yes--she is dead," he added, and turned away.

     I said nothing; he raised his eyes and looked at me.

     "She ran away with a petty burgher who came along," he
     remarked, with a harsh smile. The little girl dropped her eyes;
     the baby waked up and began to cry; the girl went to the
     cradle. "There, give it to him," said The Wolf, thrusting into
     her hand a soiled horn.[25] "And she abandoned him," he went
     on, in a low tone, pointing at the baby. He went to the door,
     paused, and turned round.

     "Probably, master," he began, "you cannot eat our bread; and I
     have nothing but bread."

     "I am not hungry."

     "Well, suit yourself. I would boil the samovár for you, only I
     have no tea.... I'll go and see how your horse is."

     He went out and slammed the door. I surveyed my surroundings.
     The hut seemed to me more doleful than before. The bitter odor
     of chilled smoke oppressed my breathing. The little girl did
     not stir from her place, and did not raise her eyes, from time
     to time she gave the cradle a gentle shove, or timidly hitched
     up on her shoulder her chemise which had slipped down; her bare
     legs hung motionless.

     "What is thy name?" I asked.

     "Ulíta," she said, drooping her sad little face still lower.

     The forester entered, and seated himself on the wall-bench.

     "The thunderstorm is passing over," he remarked, after a brief
     pause; "if you command, I will guide you out of the forest."

     I rose. The Wolf picked up the gun, and inspected the priming.

     "What is that for?" I inquired.

     "They are stealing in the forest. They're felling a tree at the
     Hare's Ravine," he added, in reply to my inquiring glance.

     "Can it be heard from here?"

     "It can from the yard."

     We went out together. The rain had ceased. Heavy masses of
     cloud were piled up in the distance, long streaks of lightning
     flashed forth, from time to time; but over our heads, the dark
     blue sky was visible; here and there, little stars twinkled
     through the thin, swiftly flying clouds. The outlines of the
     trees, besprinkled with rain and fluttered by the wind, were
     beginning to stand out from the gloom. We began to listen. The
     forester took off his cap and dropped his eyes. "The--there,"
     he said suddenly, and stretched out his arm; "you see what a
     night they have chosen."

     I heard nothing except the rustling of the leaves. The Wolf led
     my horse out from under the shed. "But I shall probably let
     them slip this way," he added aloud--"I'll go with you, shall
     I?"--"All right," he replied, and backed the horse. "We'll
     catch him in a trice, and then I'll guide you out. Come on."

     We set out, The Wolf in advance, I behind him. God knows how he
     found the road, but he rarely halted, and then only to listen
     to the sound of the axe. "You see," he muttered between his
     teeth. "You hear? do you hear?" "But where?" The Wolf shrugged
     his shoulders. We decended into a ravine, the wind died down
     for an instant, measured blows clearly reached my ear. The Wolf
     glanced at me and shook his head. We went on, over the wet
     ferns and nettles. A dull, prolonged roar rang out....

     "He has felled it," muttered The Wolf.

     In the meantime the sky had continued to clear; it was almost
     light in the forest. We made our way out of the ravine at last.
     "Wait here," the forester whispered to me, bent over, and
     raising his gun aloft, vanished among the bushes. I began to
     listen with strained intentness. Athwart the constant noise of
     the wind, I thought I discerned faint sounds not far away: an
     axe was cautiously chopping on branches, a horse was snorting.

     "Where art thou going? Halt!" the iron voice of The Wolf
     suddenly thundered out. Another voice cried out plaintively,
     like a hare.... A struggle began. "Thou li-iest. Thou
     li-iest," repeated The Wolf, panting; "thou shalt not escape."
     ... I dashed forward in the direction of the noise, and ran to
     the scene of battle, stumbling at every step. Beside the felled
     tree on the earth the forester was moving about: he held the
     thief beneath him, and was engaged in tying the man's hands
     behind his back with his girdle. I stepped up. The Wolf rose,
     and set him on his feet. I beheld a peasant, soaked, in rags,
     with a long, disheveled beard. A miserable little nag,
     half-covered with a small, stiff mat, stood hard by, with the
     running-gear of a cart. The forester uttered not a word; the
     peasant also maintained silence, and merely shook his head.

     "Let him go," I whispered in The Wolf's ear. "I will pay for
     the tree."

     The Wolf, without replying, grasped the horse's foretop with
     his left hand; with his right he held the thief by the belt.
     "Come, move on, simpleton!" he ejaculated surlily.

     "Take my axe yonder," muttered the peasant. "Why should it be
     wasted," said the forester, and picked up the axe. We started.
     I walked in the rear.... The rain began to drizzle again, and
     soon was pouring in torrents. With difficulty we made our way
     to the cottage. The Wolf turned the captured nag loose in the
     yard, led the peasant into the house, loosened the knot of the
     girdle, and seated him in the corner. The little girl, who had
     almost fallen asleep by the oven, sprang up, and with dumb
     alarm began to stare at us. I seated myself on the wall-bench.

     "Ekh, what a downpour," remarked the forester. "We must wait
     until it stops. Wouldn't you like to lie down?"


     "I would lock him up in the lumber-room, on account of your
     grace," he went on, pointing to the peasant, "but, you see, the

     "Leave him there, don't touch him," I interrupted The Wolf.

     The peasant cast a sidelong glance at me. I inwardly registered
     a vow that I would save the poor fellow at any cost. He sat
     motionless on the wall-bench. By the light of the lantern I was
     able to scrutinize his dissipated, wrinkled face, his pendant,
     yellow eyebrows, his thin limbs.... The little girl lay down on
     the floor, at his very feet, and fell asleep again. The Wolf
     sat by the table with his head propped on his hands. A
     grasshopper chirped in one corner..... The rain beat down upon
     the roof and dripped down the windows; we all maintained

     "Fomá Kúzmitch," began the peasant suddenly, in a dull, cracked
     voice: "hey there, Fomá Kúzmitch!"

     "What do you want?"

     "Let me go."

     The Wolf made no reply.

     "Let me go ... hunger drove me to it ... let me go."

     "I know you," retorted the forester, grimly. "You're all alike
     in your village, a pack of thieves."

     "Let me go," repeated the peasant. "The head clerk ... we're
     ruined, that's what it is ... let me go!"

     "Ruined!... No one ought to steal!"

     "Let me go, Fomá Kúzmitch ... don't destroy me. Thy master, as
     thou knowest, will devour me, so he will."

     The Wolf turned aside. The peasant was twitching all over as
     though racked with fever. He kept shaking his head, and he
     breathed irregularly.

     "Let me go," he repeated with melancholy despair. "Let me go,
     for God's sake, let me go! I will pay, that I will, by God. By
     God, hunger drove me to it ... the children are squalling, thou
     knowest thyself how it is. It's hard on a man, that it is."

     "All the same, don't go a-thieving."

     "My horse," continued the peasant, "there's my horse, take it
     if you choose ... it's my only beast ... let me go!"

     "Impossible, I tell thee. I also am a subordinate, I shall be
     held responsible. And it isn't right, either, to connive at thy

     "Let me go! Poverty, Fomá Kúzmitch, poverty, that's what it is
     ... let me go!"

     "I know thee!"

     "But let me go!"

     "Eh, what's the use of arguing with you; sit still or I'll give
     it to you, don't you know? Don't you see the gentleman?"

     The poor fellow dropped his eyes.... The Wolf yawned, and laid
     his head on the table. The rain had not stopped. I waited to
     see what would happen.

     The peasant suddenly straightened himself up. His eyes began to
     blaze, and the color flew to his face. "Well, go ahead, devour!
     Go ahead, oppress! Go ahead," he began, screwing up his eyes,
     and dropping the corners of his lips, "go ahead, accursed
     murderer of the soul, drink Christian blood, drink!"

     The forester turned round.

     "I'm talking to thee, to thee, Asiatic blood-drinker, to thee!"

     "Art thou drunk, that thou hast taken it into thy head to
     curse!" said the forester with amazement. "Hast thou gone

     "Drunk!... It wasn't on thy money, accursed soul-murderer, wild
     beast, beast, beast!"

     "Akh, thou ... I'll give it to thee!"

     "What do I care? It's all one to me--I shall perish anyway;
     where can I go without a horse? Kill me--it comes to the same
     thing; whether with hunger or thus, it makes no difference.
     Deuce take them all: wife, children--let them all perish....
     But just wait, thou shalt hear from us!"

     The Wolf half-rose to his feet.

     "Kill, kill----" the peasant began again in a savage voice;
     "Kill, go ahead, kill...." (The little girl sprang up from the
     floor, and riveted her eyes on him.) "Kill, kill!"

     "Hold thy tongue!" thundered the forester, and advanced a
     couple of strides.

     "Enough, that will do, Fomá," I shouted--"let him alone....
     Don't bother with him...."

     "I won't hold my tongue," went on the unfortunate man. "It
     makes no difference how he murders me. Thou soul-murderer, thou
     wild beast, hanging is too good for thee.... But just wait.
     Thou hast not long to vaunt thyself! They'll strangle thy
     throat for thee. Just wait a bit!"

     The Wolf seized him by the shoulder.... I rushed to the rescue
     of the peasant.

     "Don't touch us, master!" the forester shouted at me.

     I did not fear his threats, and was on the point of stretching
     out my arm, but to my extreme amazement, with one twist, he
     tore the girdle from the peasant's elbow, seized him by the
     collar, banged his cap down over his eyes, flung open the door,
     and thrust him out.

     "Take thyself and thy horse off to the devil!" he shouted after
     him; "and see here, another time I'll...."

     He came back into the cottage, and began to rake over the

     "Well, Wolf," I said at last, "you have astonished me. I see
     that you are a splendid young fellow."

     "Ekh, stop that, master," he interrupted me, with vexation.
     "Only please don't tell about it. Now I'd better show you your
     way," he added, "because you can't wait for the rain to stop."

     The wheels of the peasant's cart rumbled through the yard.

     "You see, he has dragged himself off," he muttered; "but I'll
     give it to him!"

     Half an hour later he bade me farewell on the edge of the


     1. At what critical period of Russian history was Gontcharóff's
     famous novel "Oblómoff" written?

     2. Why did it furnish a new word to the Russian language?

     3. What traits did this word represent?

     4. What was the peculiar merit of the short stories of

     5. What was the special strength of the "School of the

     6. Give an account of the life of Turgéneff.

     7. What did he try to show in "Hamlet and Don Quixote"?

     8. What opposition arose to his "Fathers and Children"?

     9. What are the striking features of his style?

     10. What characteristics of this style are shown in "The Wolf"?


     The works of Turgéneff are easily accessible in several English


[22] Pronounced Aryól.

[23] This vehicle, which is also the best adapted as a convenient
runabout for rough driving in the country, consists merely of a board,
attached, without a trace of springs, to two pairs of wheels, identical
in size.

[24] In the government of Orél (pronounced Aryól) a solitary, surly man
is called a wolf-_biriúk_.

[25] For a nursing-bottle, the Russian peasants use a cow's horn, with a
cow's teat tied over the tip.



The new impulse imparted to all branches of literature in Russia during
the '50's and the '60's could not fail to find a reflection in the
fortunes of the drama also. Nowhere is the spirit of the period more
clearly set forth than in the history of the Russian theater, by the
creation of an independent Russian stage.

Russian comedy had existed from the days of Sumarókoff, as we have seen,
and had included such great names as Von Vízin, Griboyédoff, and Gógol.
But great as were the works of these authors, they cannot be called its
creators, in the true sense of the word, because their plays were like
oases far apart, separated by great intervals of time, and left behind
them no established school. Although Von Vízin's comedies contain much
that is independent and original, they are fashioned after the models of
the French stage, as is apparent at every step. "Woe from Wit" counts
rather as a specimen of talented social satire than as a model comedy,
and in its type, this comedy of Griboyédoff also bears the imprint of
the French stage. Gógol's comedies, despite their great talent, left
behind them no followers, and had no imitators. In the '30's and the
'40's the repertory of the Russian theater consisted of plays which had
nothing in common with "Woe from Wit," "The Inspector," or "Marriage,"
and the latter was rarely played. As a whole, the stage was given over
to translations of sensational French melodramas and to patriotic

The man who changed all this and created Russian drama, Alexánder
Nikoláevitch Ostróvsky (1823-1886), was born in Moscow, the son of a
poor lawyer, whose business lay with the merchant class of the
Trans-Moscow River quarter, of the type which we meet with in Alexánder
Nikoláevitch's celebrated comedies. The future dramatist, who spent most
of his life in Moscow, was most favorably placed to observe the varied
characteristics of Russian life, and also Russian historical types; for
Moscow, in the '30's and '40's of the nineteenth century, was the focus
of all Russia, and contained within its walls all the historical and
contemporary peculiarities of the nation. On leaving the University
(where he did not finish the course), in 1843, Ostróvsky entered the
civil service in the commercial court, where he enjoyed further
opportunities of enlarging his observations on the life of the
Trans-Moscow quarter. In 1847 he made his first appearance in
literature, with "Scenes of Family Happiness in Moscow," which was
printed in a Moscow newspaper. Soon afterwards he printed, in the same
paper, several scenes from his comedy "Svoí liúdi--sotchtyémsya," which
may be freely translated, "It's All in the Family: We'll Settle It Among
Ourselves." This gained him more reputation, and he resigned from the
service to devote himself entirely to literature, as proof-reader,
writer of short articles, and so forth, earning a miserably small
salary. When the comedy just mentioned was printed, in 1847, it bore the
title of "The Bankrupt," and was renamed in deference to the objections
of the censor. It made a tremendous commotion in Russian society, where
it was read aloud almost daily, and one noted man remarked of it, "It
was not written; it was born." But the Moscow merchants took umbrage at
the play, made complaints in the proper quarter, and the author was
placed under police supervision, while the newspapers were forbidden to
mention the comedy. Naturally it was not acted. The following summary
will not only indicate the reason therefor, and for the wrath of the
merchants, but will also afford an idea of his style in the first comedy
which was acted, his famous "Don't Seat Yourself in a Sledge Which is
not Yours" ("Shoemaker, Stick to Your Last," is the English equivalent),
produced in 1853, and in others:


     Samsón Sílitch Bolshóff (Samson, son of Strong Big), a Moscow
     merchant, has a daughter, Olympiáda, otherwise known as

     Lípotchka has been "highly educated," according to the ideas of
     the merchant class, considers herself a lady, and despises her
     parents and their "coarse" ways. This remarkable education
     consists in a smattering of the customary feminine
     accomplishments, especial value being attached to a knowledge
     of French, which is one mark of the gentry in Russia.

     Like all merchants' daughters who have been educated above
     their sphere, Lípotchka aspires to marry a noble, preferably a
     military man. The play opens with a soliloquy by Lípotchka, who
     meditates upon the pleasures of the dance.

     "What an agreeable occupation these dances are! Just think how
     fine! What can be more entrancing? You enter an assembly, or
     some one's wedding, you sit down; naturally, you are all decked
     with flowers, you are dressed up like a doll, or like a picture
     in a paper; suddenly a cavalier flies up, 'Will you grant me
     the happiness, madam?' Well, you see if he is a man with
     understanding, or an army officer, you half-close your eyes,
     and reply, 'With pleasure!' Ah! Cha-a-arming! It is simply
     beyond comprehension! I no longer like to dance with students
     or shop-clerks. 'Tis quite another thing to distinguish
     yourself with military men! Ah, how delightful! How enchanting!
     And their mustaches, and their epaulets, and their uniforms,
     and some even have spurs with bells.... I am amazed that so
     many women should sit with their feet tucked up under them.
     Really, it is not at all difficult to learn. Here am I, who was
     ashamed to take a teacher. I have learned everything,
     positively everything, in twenty lessons. Why should not one
     learn to dance? It is pure superstition! Here is mama, who used
     to get angry because the teacher was always clutching at my
     knees. That was because she is not cultured. Of what importance
     is it? He's only the dancing-master."

     Lípotchka proceeds to picture to herself that she receives a
     proposal from an officer, and that he thinks she is uneducated
     because she gets confused. She has not danced for a year and a
     half, and decides to practice a little. As she is dancing, her
     mother enters, and bids her to stop--dancing is a sin.
     Lípotchka refuses, and an acrimonious wrangle ensues between
     mother and daughter, about things in general. The mother
     reproaches Lípotchka for her ways, reminds her that her parents
     have educated her, and so forth. To this Lípotchka retorts that
     other people have taught her all she knows--and why have her
     parents refused that gentleman of good birth who has asked for
     her hand? Is he not a Cupid? (she pronounces it "Capid.") There
     is no living with them, and so forth. The female match-maker
     comes to inform them how she is progressing in her search for a
     proper match for Lípotchka, and the latter declares stoutly,
     that she will never marry a merchant. The match-maker, a famous
     figure in old Russia life, and irresistibly comic on the stage,
     habitually addresses her clients as, "my silver ones," "my
     golden ones," "my emerald ones," "my brilliant (or diamond)
     ones," which she pronounces "bralliant." Matters are nearly
     arranged for Lípotchka's marriage with a man of good birth.

     Old Bolshóff, however, is represented as being in a financial
     position where he can take his choice between paying all his
     debts and being thus left penniless but honest; and paying his
     creditors nothing, or, at most, a quarter of their dues, and
     remaining rich enough to indulge in the luxury of a noble
     son-in-law, the only motive on whose part for such a marriage
     being, naturally, the bride's dowry.

     Old Bolshóff decides to defraud his creditors, with the aid of
     a pettifogging lawyer, and he makes over all his property to
     his clerk, Podkhaliúzin. The latter has long sighed for
     Lípotchka, but his personal repulsiveness, added to his
     merchant rank, has prevented his ever daring to hint at such a
     thing. Now, however, he sees his chance. He promises the legal
     shyster a round sum if he will arrange matters securely in his
     favor. He bribes the match-maker to get rid of the noble
     suitor, and to bring about his marriage with Lípotchka,
     promising her, in case of success, two thousand rubles and a
     sable-lined cloak.

     Matters have gone so far that Lípotchka is gorgeously arrayed
     to receive her nobly born suitor, and accept him. Her mother is
     feasting her eyes on her adored child, in one of the intervals
     of her grumbling and bickering with her "ungrateful offspring,"
     and warning the dear idol not to come in contact with the door,
     and crush her finery. But the match-maker announces that the
     man has beaten a retreat; Lípotchka falls in a swoon. Her
     father declares that there is no occasion for that, as he has a
     suitable match at hand. He calls in Podkhaliúzin, whom
     Lípotchka despises, and presents him, commanding his daughter
     to wed. Lípotchka flatly refuses. But after a private interview
     with the ambitious clerk, in which the latter informs her that
     she no longer possesses a dowry wherewith to attract a noble
     suitor, and in which he promises that she shall have the
     greatest liberty and be indulged in any degree of extravagance,
     she consents.

     The marriage takes place. But old Bolshóff has been put in
     prison by his enraged creditors, while the young couple have
     been fitting up a new house in gorgeous style on the old
     merchant's money. The pettifogging lawyer comes for his
     promised reward. Podkhaliúzin cheats him out of it. The
     match-maker comes for her two thousand rubles and sable-lined
     cloak and gets one hundred rubles and a cheap gown. As these
     people depart cursing, old Bolshóff is brought in by his guard.
     He has come to entreat his wealthy son-in-law to pay the
     creditors twenty-five per cent and so release him from prison.
     Podkhaliúzin declares that this is impossible; the old man has
     given him his instructions to pay only ten per cent, and
     really, he cannot afford to pay more. The old man's darling
     Lípotchka joins in and supports her husband's plea that they
     positively cannot afford more. The old man is taken back to
     prison, preliminary to being sent to Siberia as a fraudulent
     bankrupt. The young couple take the matter quite coolly until
     the policeman comes to carry off Podkhaliúzin to prison, for
     collusion. Even then the rascally ex-clerk does not lose his
     coolness, and when informed by the policeman--in answer to his
     question as to what is to become of him--that he will probably
     be sent to Siberia, "Well, if it is to be Siberia, Siberia let
     it be! What of that! People live in Siberia also. Evidently
     there is no escape. I am ready."

Although "Shoemaker, Stick to Your Last," the central idea of which is
that girls of the merchant class will be much happier if they marry in
their own class than if they wed nobles, who take them solely for their
money (the usual reason for such alliances, even at the present day),
had an immense success, both in Moscow and in St. Petersburg, Ostróvsky
received not a penny from it. In the latter city, also, the censor took
a hand, because "the nobility was put to shame for the benefit of the
merchant class," and the theater management was greatly agitated when
the Emperor and all the imperial family came to the first performance.
But the Emperor remarked, "There are very few plays which have given me
so much pleasure; it is not a play, it is a lesson."

"The Poor Bride" (written in 1852) was then put on the stage, and the
author received a small payment on the spot. In 1854 "Poverty is not a
Vice" appeared, and confirmed the author's standing as a writer of the
first class. This play, a great favorite still, contains many
presentations of old Russian customs. It was the first from which the
author received a regular royalty, ranging from one-twentieth to
two-thirds of the profits.

After many more comedies, all more or less noted, all more or less
objected to by the censor, for various reasons, and hostility and bad
treatment on the part of the theatrical authorities, Ostróvsky attained
the zenith of his literary fame with his masterpiece, "Grozá" ("The
Thunderstorm"). It was not until 1856, in his comedy "A Drunken Headache
from Another Man's Banquet" (meaning, "to bear another's trouble"), that
Ostróvsky invented the words which have passed into the language,
_samodúr_ and _samodúrstvo_ (which mean, literally, "self-fool" and "the
state of being a self-fool"). The original "self-fool" is "Tit Tititch
Bruskóff" (provincially pronounced "Kit Kititch" in the play), but no
better example of the pig-headed, obstinate, self-complacent,
vociferous, intolerable tyrant which constitutes the "self-fool" can be
desired than that offered in "The Thunderstorm" by Márfa Ignátievna
Kabánoff, the rich merchant's widow. She rules her son, Tíkhon, and his
wife, Katerína, with a rod of iron. Her daughter, Varvára, gets along
with her by consistent deceitfulness, and meets her lover, Kudryásh,
whenever she pleases. Tíkhon goes off for a short time on business, and
anxious to enjoy a little freedom, he persistently refuses to take his
wife with him, despite her urgent entreaties. She makes the request
because she feels that she is falling in love with Borís.

After his departure, Varvára takes charge of her fate and persuades her
to indulge her affection and to see Borís. Katerína eventually yields to
Varvára's representations. A half-mad old lady, who wanders about
attended by a couple of lackeys, has previously frightened the sensitive
Katerína (who was reared amid family affection, and cannot understand or
endure the tyranny of her mother-in-law) by vague predictions and
threats of hell; and when a thunderstorm suddenly breaks over the
assembled family, after her husband's return, and the weird old lady
again makes her appearance, Katerína is fairly crazed. She thinks the
terrible punishment for her wayward affections has arrived; she
confesses to her husband and mother-in-law that she loves Borís. Spurned
by the latter--though the husband is not inclined to attach overmuch
importance to what she says, in her startled condition--she rushes off
and drowns herself. The savage mother-in-law, who is to blame for the
entire tragedy, sternly commands her son not to mourn for his dead wife,
whom he has loved in the feeble way which such a tyrant has permitted.
This outline gives hardly an idea of the force of the play, and its
value as a picture of Russian manners of the old school in general, and
of the merchant class (who retained them long after they were much
ameliorated in other classes of society) in particular.

But Ostróvsky did not confine his dramas within narrow limits. On the
contrary, they present a wonderfully broad panorama of Russian life, and
attain to a universality which has been reached by no other Russian
writer save Púshkin and Count L. N. Tolstóy. There are plays from
prehistoric, mythical times, and historical plays, which deal with
prominent epochs in the life of the nation. A great favorite, partly
because of its pictures of old Russian customs, is "The Voevóda" or
"The Dream on the Volga" (1865). "Vasilísa Meléntieff" is popular for
the same reasons (1868). Ostróvsky's nervous organization was broken
down by the incessant toil necessary to support his family, and these
historical plays were written, with others, to relieve the pressure. His
dramas were given all over Russia, and he received more money from
private than from the government theaters. But towards the end of his
life comfort came, and during the last year of his life he was in charge
of the Moscow (government) Theater. At last he was master of the Russian
stage, and established a school of dramatic art on the lines laid down
by himself. But the toil was too great for his shattered health, and he
died in 1886. His plays are wonderfully rich as a portrait-gallery of
contemporary types, as well as of historical types, and the language of
his characters is one of the most surprising features of his work. It is
far too little to say of it that it is natural, and fits the characters
presented: in nationality, in figurativeness, in keen, unfeigned humor
and wit it represents the richest treasure of the Russian speech. Only
three writers are worthy of being ranked together in this respect:
Púshkin, Krylóff, and Ostróvsky.

While, like all the writers of the '40's, Ostróvsky is the pupil of
Gógol, he created his own school, and attained an independent position
from his very first piece. His plays have only one thing in common with
Gógol's--he draws his scenes from commonplace, every-day life in Russia,
his characters are unimportant, every-day people. Gógol's comedies were
such in the strict meaning of the word, and their object was to cast
ridicule on the acting personages, to bring into prominence the absurd
sides of their characters; and this aim accomplished, the heroes leave
the stage without having undergone any change in their fates. With
Ostróvsky's comedies it is entirely different. The author is not felt in
them. The persons of the drama talk and act in defiance of him, so to
speak, as they would talk and act in real life, and decided changes in
their fate take place. But Ostróvsky accomplished far more than the
creation of a Russian theater: he brought the stage to the highest pitch
of ideal realism, and discarded all ancient traditions. The subjects of
his plays are distinguished for their classic simplicity; life itself
flows slowly across the stage, as though the author had demolished a
wall and were exhibiting the actual life within the house. His plays,
like life, break off short, after the climax, with some insignificant
scene, generally between personages of secondary rank, and he tries to
convince the audience that in life there are no beginnings, no endings;
that there is no moment after which one would venture to place a full
period. Moreover, they are "plays of life" rather than either "comedies"
or "tragedies," as he chanced to label them; they are purely
presentations of life. In their scope they include almost every phase of
Russian life, except peasant and country life, which he had no chance to

For the sake of convenience we may group the other dramatic writers
here. The conditions under which the Russian stage labored were so
difficult that the best literary talent was turned into other channels,
and the very few plays which were fitted to vie with Ostróvsky's came
from the pens of men whose chief work belonged to other branches of
literature. Thus Iván Sergyéevitch Turgéneff, who wrote more for the
stage than other contemporary writers, and whose plays fill one volume
of his collected works, distinguished himself far more in other lines.
Yet several of these plays hold the first place after Ostróvsky's. "The
Boarder" (1848), "Breakfast at the Marshal of Nobility's" (1849), "The
Bachelor" (1849), "A Month in the Country" (1850), "The Woman from the
Rural Districts" (1851) are still acted and enjoyed by the public.

Alexéi Feofiláktovitch Písemsky (best known for his "Thousand Souls" and
his "Troubled Sea," romances of a depressing sort) contributed to the
stage a play called "A Bitter Fate" (among others), wherein the Russian
peasant appeared for the first time in natural guise without
idealization or any decoration whatever.

Count Alexéi Konstantínovitch Tolstóy (1817-1875) wrote a famous trilogy
of historical plays: "The Death of Iván the Terrible" (1866), "Tzar
Feódor Ivánovitch" (1868), and "Tzar Borís" (1870). The above are the
dates of their publication. They appeared on the stage, the first in
1876, the other two in 1899, though they had been privately acted at the
Hermitage Theater, in the Winter Palace, long before that date. They are
fine reading plays, offering a profound study of history, but the epic
element preponderates over the dramatic element, and the characters set
forth their sentiments in extremely long monologues and conversations.
There have been many other dramatic writers, but none of great

       *       *       *       *       *

Count A. K. Tolstóy stood at the head of the school of purely artistic
poets who claimed that they alone were the faithful preservers of the
Púshkin tradition. But in this they were mistaken. Púshkin drew his
subjects from life; they shut themselves up in æsthetic contemplation
of the beautiful forms of classical art of ancient and modern times, and
isolated themselves from life in general. The result was, that they
composed poetry of an abstract, artistically dainty, elegantly
rhetorical sort, whose chief defect lay in its lack of individuality,
and the utter absence of all colors, sounds, and motives by which
Russian nationality and life are conveyed. The poetry of this school
contains no sharply cut features of spiritual physiognomy. All of them
flow together into a featureless mass of elegantly stereotyped forms and

Count A. K. Tolstóy, who enjoyed all the advantages of education and
travel abroad (where he made acquaintance with Goethe), began to
scribble verses at the age of six, he says in his autobiography. Born in
1817, he became Master of the Hounds at the imperial court in 1857, and
died in 1875. He made his literary debut in 1842 with prose tales, and
only in 1855 did he publish his lyric and epic verses in various
newspapers. His best poetical efforts, beautiful as they are in external
form, are characterless, and remind one of Zhukóvsky's, in that they
were influenced by foreign or Russian poets--Lérmontoff, for instance.
But they have not a trace of genuine, unaffected feeling, of vivid,
burning passion, of inspiration. His best work is his prose historical
romance, "Prince Serébryany," which gives a lively and faithful picture
of Iván the Terrible, his court, and life in his day. The dramas already
mentioned are almost if not equally famous in Russia, though less known
abroad. "Prince Serébryany," and "War and Peace" by the former author's
more illustrious cousin, Count L. N. Tolstóy, are the best historical
novels in the Russian language.

Another poet of this period was Apollón Nikoláevitch Máikoff, born in
1821, the son of a well-known painter. During his first period he gave
himself up to classical, bloodless poems, of which one of the most noted
is "Two Worlds," which depicts the clash of heathendom and Christianity
at the epoch of the fall of Rome. This poem he continued to write all
his life; the prologue, "Three Deaths," begun in 1841, was not finished
until 1872. To this period, also, belong "Two Judgments," "Sketches of
Rome," "Anacreon," "Alcibiades," and so forth. His second and best
period began in 1855, when he abandoned his cold classicism and wrote
his best works: "Clermont Cathedral," "Savonarola," "Foolish Dúnya,"
"The Last Heathens," "Pólya," "The Little Picture," and a number of
beautiful translations from Heine.

Still another poet was Afanásy Afanásievitch Shénshin, who wrote under
the name of Fet. Born in 1820, he began to write at the age of nineteen.
About that time, on entering the Moscow University, he experienced some
difficulty in furnishing the requisite documents, whereupon he assumed
the name of his mother during her first marriage--Fet. He reacquired his
own name, Shénshin, in 1875, by presenting the proper documents,
whereupon an imperial order restored it to him. From 1844 to 1855 he
served in the army, continuing to write poetry the while. Before his
death, in 1892, he published numerous volumes of poems, translations
from the classics, and so forth. Less talented than Count Alexéi K.
Tolstóy, Apollón Máikoff, and other poets of that school, his name, in
Russian criticism, has become a general appellation to designate a poet
of pure art, for he was the most typical exponent of his school. Most of
his poems are short, and present a picture of nature, or of some
delicate, fleeting psychical emotion, but they are all filled with
enchanting, artistic charm. His poetry is the quintessence of æsthetic
voluptuousness, such as was evolved on the soil of the sybaritism of the
landed gentry in the circles of the '40's of the nineteenth century.

The oldest of all these worshipers of pure art was Feódor Ivánovitch
Tiútcheff (1803-1873). At the age of seventeen he made a remarkably fine
translation of some of Horace's works. He rose to very fine positions in
the diplomatic service and at court. Although his first poems were
printed in 1826, he was not widely known until 1850-1854. His scope is
not large, and he is rather wearisome in his faultless poems. The
majority of them are rather difficult reading.

A poet who did not wholly belong to this school, but wrote in many
styles, was Yákoff Petróvitch Polónsky (1820-1898).[26] Under different
conditions he might have developed fire and originality, both in his
poems and his prose romances. His best known poem is "The
Grasshopper-Musician" (1863). He derived his inspiration from various
foreign poets, and also from many of his fellow-countrymen. Among
others, those in the spirit of Koltzóff's national ballads are not only
full of poetry and inspiration, art and artless simplicity, but some of
them have been set to music, have made their way to the populace, and
are sung all over Russia. Others, like "The Sun and the Moon" and "The
Baby's Death" are to be found in every Russian literary compendium, and
every child knows them by heart.

But while the poetry of this period could not boast of any such great
figures as the preceding period, it had, nevertheless, another camp
besides that of the "pure art" advocates whom we have just noticed. At
the head of the second group, which clung to the æsthetic doctrine that
regarded every-day life as the best source of inspiration and contained
several very talented expositors, stood Nikolái Alexyéevitch Nekrásoff
(1821-1877). Nekrásoff belonged to an impoverished noble family, which
had once been very wealthy, and was still sufficiently well off to have
educated him in comfort. But when his father sent him to St. Petersburg
to enter a military school he was persuaded to abandon that career and
take a course at the University. His father was so enraged at this step
that he cast him off, and the lad of sixteen found himself thrown upon
his own resources. He nearly starved to death and underwent such
hardships that his health was injured for life, but he did not manage to
complete the University course. These very hardships contributed
greatly, no doubt, to the power of his poetry later on, even though they
exerted a hardening effect upon his character, and aroused in him the
firm resolve to acquire wealth at any cost. Successful as his
journalistic enterprises were in later life, it is known that he could
not have assured himself the comfortable fortune he enjoyed from that
source alone, and he is said to have won most of it at the
gambling-table. This fact and various other circumstances may have
exercised some influence upon the judgment of a section of the public as
to his literary work. There is hardly any other Russian writer over
whose merits such heated discussions take place as over Nekrásoff, one
party maintaining that he was a true poet, with genuine inspiration;
the other, that he was as clever with his poetry in a business sense, as
he was with financial operations, and that he possessed no feeling,
inspiration, or poetry.[27] The truth would seem to lie between these
two extremes. Like all the other writers of his day--like writers in
general--he was unconsciously impressed by the spirit of the time, and
changed his subjects and treatment as it changed; and like every other
writer, some of his works are superior in feeling and truth to others.

The most important period of his life was that from 1841 to 1845, when
his talent was forming and ripening. Little is known with definiteness
regarding this period, but it is certain that while pursuing his
literary labors, he moved in widely differing circles of
society--fashionable, official, literary, theatrical, that of the
students, and others--which contributed to the truth of his pictures
from these different spheres in his poems. In 1847 he was able (in
company with Panáeff) to buy "The Contemporary," of which, eventually,
he became the sole proprietor and editor, and with which his name is
indelibly connected. When this journal was dropped, in 1866, he became
the head, in 1868, of "The Annals of the Fatherland," where he remained
until his death. It was during these last ten years of his life that he
wrote his famous poems, "Russian Women" and "Who in Russia Finds Life
Good," with others of his best poems. He never lost his adoration of
the critic Byelínsky, to whom he attributed his own success, as the
result of judicious development of his powers.

One of the many conflicting opinions concerning him is, that he is
merely a satirist, "The Russian Juvenal," which opinion is founded on
his contributions to "The Whistle," a publication added, as a
supplement, to "The Contemporary," about 1857. Yet his satirical verses
form but an insignificant part of his writings. And although there does
exist a certain monotony of gloomy depression in the tone of all his
writings, yet they are so varied in form and contents that it is
impossible to classify them under any one heading without resorting to
undue violence. He is not the poet of any one class of society, of any
one party or circle, but expresses in his poetry the thoughts of a whole
cycle of his native land, the tears of all his contemporaries and
fellow-countrymen. This apparently would be set down to the credit of
any other man, and regarded as a proof that he kept in intimate touch
with the spirit and deepest sentiments of his time, instead of being
reckoned a reproach, and a proof of commercialism. Moreover, he wrote
things which were entirely peculiar to himself, unknown hitherto, and
which had nothing in common with the purely reflective lyricism of the
'40's of the nineteenth century. These serve to complete his
significance as the universal bard of his people and his age, to which
he is already entitled by his celebration of all ranks and elements of
society, whose fermentation constitutes the actual essence of that

There is one point to be noted about Nekrásoff which was somewhat
neglected by the critics during his lifetime. No other Russian poet of
that day was so fond of calling attention to the bright sides of the
national life, or depicted so many positive, ideal, brilliant types with
such fervent, purely Schilleresque, enthusiasm as Nekrásoff. And most
significant of all, his positive types are not of an abstract, fantastic
character, clothed in flesh and blood of the period and environment,
filled with conflicting, concrete characteristics--not one of them
resembles any other. He sought and found them in all classes of society;
in "Russian Women" he depicts the devoted princesses in the highest
circle of the social hierarchy, with absolute truth, as faithful
representatives of Russian life and Russian aristocrats, capable of
abandoning their life of ease and pleasure, and with heroism worthy of
the ancient classic heroines, accompanying their exiled husbands to
Siberia, and there cheerfully sharing their hardships. His pictures of
peasant life are equally fine; that in "Red-Nosed Frost" (the Russian
equivalent of Jack Frost) is particularly famous, and the peasant
heroine, in her lowly sphere, yields nothing in grandeur to the ladies
of the court.

The theme of "Red-Nosed Frost" may be briefly stated in a couple of its
verses, in the original meter:

    There are women in Russian hamlets
      With a dignified calmness of face;
    With a beautiful strength in their movements,
      With mien and glance of an empress in grace.

    A blind man alone could ignore them;
      And he who can see them must say:
    "She passes--'tis as though the sun shineth!
      She looks--'tis giving rubles away!"

A noble-minded, splendid peasant woman, who has worthily fulfilled all
the duties of her hard lot, at last becomes a widow. The manner of it;
the quaint folk-remedies employed to heal the sick man; the making of
the shroud by the bereaved wife; the digging of his grave by his father;
the funeral; all are described. The widow drives the sledge with the
coffin to the grave. On her return home she finds that the fire is out
and that there is no wood on hand. Intrusting her two children to the
care of a neighbor, she drives off with the sledge to the forest to cut
some. As she collects the fuel, her thoughts wander back over the past,
and she sees a vision of her life, its joys and sorrows. Just as she is
about to set out for home, she pauses, approaches a tall pine-tree with
her axe, and there Jack Frost woos and wins her, and she remains, frozen
stiff. The beauty and interest of the poem quite escape in this
(necessarily) bald summary. The same is the case with "Russian Women."
The first poem of this is entitled "Princess Trubetzkóy." It begins by
narrating how the "Count-father" prepares the covered traveling sledge
for the Princess, who is bent upon the long journey to Siberia, to join
her husband, one of the "Decembrists," exiled for participation in the
tumults of 1825, on the accession to the throne of Nicholas I. He
spreads a thick bear-skin rug, puts in down-pillows, hangs up a holy
image (_ikóna_) in the corner, grieving the while. After this prologue,
the journey of the devoted wife is described; the monotonous way being
spent in great part by the noble woman in vision-like memories of her
happy childhood, girlhood, and married life. On arriving at Irkútsk she
receives a visit from the governor, an old subordinate of her father,
who endeavors by every possible means to deter her from pursuing her
journey. She persists in demanding that fresh horses be put to her
sledge, and that she be allowed to proceed to the Nertchínsk mines,
where her husband is. Failing to frighten her by the description of the
hardships she will be compelled to endure, by telling her that she will
have to live in the common ward of the prison with hundreds of
prisoners, never see her husband alone, and the like, he at last informs
her that she can proceed only on condition that she renounces all her
rights, title, property. She demands the document on the instant and
signs it, and again demands her horses. The governor (who, by pleading
illness, has already detained the impatient woman a whole week) then
tells her that, having renounced her rights, she must traverse the
remaining eight hundred versts[28] on foot, like a common prisoner, and
that the majority fall by the way in so doing. Her only thought is the
extra time which this will require. The governor, having done his duty,
tells her that she shall have her horses and sledge as before; he will
assume the responsibility. She proceeds. Here the poem ends. But the
second poem, entitled "Princess Volkónsky," and dated 1826-1827 carries
the story further for both women. It takes the form of a tale told to
her grandchildren, to whom says the Princess Volkónsky, she will
bequeath flowers from her sister Muraviéff's grave (in Siberia), a
collection of butterflies, the flora of Tchitá, views of that savage
country, and an iron bracelet forged by their grandfather from his
chains. She narrates how, at the age of seventeen, she married the
Prince, a friend of her father, and the hero of many campaigns, much
older than herself, who even after the wedding, is absent the greater
part of the time on his military duties. Once, when they meet again
after one of these prolonged separations, he is suddenly seized with
panic, burns many documents in her presence, and takes her home to her
father without, however, explaining anything. After that she hears
nothing about him for many months; no letters reach her, every one
professes ignorance as to his whereabouts, but assures her he is engaged
in his duties. Even when her son is born he makes no sign, and all
further efforts to pacify her prove useless. She goes to St. Petersburg,
finds out the truth, and insists on joining her husband who, with Prince
Trubetzkóy and the other noble Decembrists, is in Siberia. Every effort
on the part of friends and relatives to prevent her leaving her baby and
taking this step prove of no avail. She obtains the Emperor's
permission, and sets out. The description of her journey is even more
graphic and touching than that of Princess Trubetzkóy's. She hears on
the way about the efforts which have been made to turn the latter from
her purpose, and that probably the same measures will be used with her.
At one point she meets the caravan which is bringing the silver from the
Nertchínsk mines to the capital, and she asks the young officer in
charge if the exiles are alive and well. He replies insultingly that he
knows nothing about such people. But one of the peasant-soldiers of the
caravan quietly gives her the desired information, and she adds, that
invariably throughout her long and trying experience the peasant men
have been truly sympathetic, helpful, and kind to the last degree, when
their superiors were not. Efforts to turn her aside fail. She overtakes
Princess Trubetzkóy, and the two friends pursue their sad journey
together. On arriving in Nertchínsk, the commandant questions their
right to see their husbands, refuses to recognize the Emperor's own
signature, says he will send to Irkútsk for information (they had
offered to go back themselves for it), and until it is received, they
will not be permitted to hold communication with those whom they have
come so far to see. The women resign themselves, and pass the night in a
peasant hut, so small that their heads touch the wall, their feet the
door. Princess Volkónsky, waking early, sets out on a stroll through the
village, and comes to the mouth of the mine-shaft, guarded by a sentry.
She prevails upon this sentry to let her descend, contrary to orders,
and after a long and arduous passage through the rough, dripping
corridors, and after running the risk of discovery by an official, and
even of death (when she extinguishes her torch to escape the official,
and proceeds in the dark), she reaches her husband and the other
Decembrist exiles, and delivers to them the letters from their friends,
which she has with her. The poem is most beautiful and affecting.

A third very famous poem is "Who in Russia Finds Life Good?" Seven
peasants meet by chance on the highway, and fall into a dispute on that
theme. One says, "the landed proprietor"; another, "the official"; a
third, "the priest." Others say, respectively, "the fat-bellied
merchant," "the minister of the empire," "the Tzar." All of the peasants
had started out at midday upon important errands, but they argue hotly
until sundown, walking all the while, and do not notice even that until
an old woman happens along and asks them, "Where are they bound by
night?" On glancing about them, the peasants perceive that they are
thirty versts from home, and they are too fatigued to undertake the
return journey at once. They throw the blame on the Forest-Fiend, seat
themselves in the woods, and light a fire. One man goes off to procure
liquor, another for food, and as they consume these, they begin the
discussion all over again in such vehement wise that all the beasts and
birds of the forest are affrighted. At last Pakhóm, one of the peasants,
catches a young bird in his hand and says that, frail and tiny as it is,
it is more mighty than a peasant man, because its wings permit it to fly
whithersoever it wishes; and he beseeches the birdling to give them its
wings, so that they may fly all over the empire and observe and inquire,
"Who dwelleth happily and at ease in Russia?" Surely, Iván remarks,
wings are not needed; if only they could be sure of half a pud (eighteen
pounds) of bread a day (meaning the sour, black rye bread), they could
"measure off Mother Russia" with their own legs. Another of the peasants
stipulates for a vedró (two and three-quarters gallons) of vódka;
another for cucumbers every morning; another for a wooden can of kvas
(small beer, brewed from the rye bread, or meal) every noon; another for
a teapot of boiling tea every evening. A peewit circles above them in
the air, listening, then alights beside their bonfire, chirps, and
addresses them in human speech. She promises that if they will release
her offspring she will give them all they desire. The compact is made;
she tells them where to go in the forest and dig up a coffer containing
a "self-setting table-cloth," which will carry them all over the country
at their behest. They demand, in addition, that they shall be fed and
clothed; granted. They get the carpet; their daily supply of food
appears from its folds, on demand (they may double, but not treble the
allowance), and they vow not to return to their families until they
shall have succeeded in their quest of a happy man in Russia. Their
first encounter is with a priest, who in response to their questions,
asks if happiness does not consist in "peace, wealth, and honor?" He
then describes his life, and demonstrates that a priest gets none of
these things. As they proceed on their way, they meet and interrogate
people from all ranks and classes. This affords the poet an opportunity
for a series of pictures from Russian life, replete with national
characteristics, stories, arguments, songs, described in varying meters.
The whole forms a splendid and profoundly interesting national

The movements of the '40's and the '60's brought to the front several
poets who sprang directly from the people. On the borderland of the two
epochs stands the most renowned of Little Russian poets, Tarás
Grigórievitch Shevtchénko (1814-1861). He was the contemporary of
Koltzóff and Byelínsky, rather than of Nekrásoff; nevertheless, he may
be regarded as a representative of the latter's epoch, in virtue of the
contents and the spirit of his poetry.

His history is both interesting and remarkable. He was the son of a
serf, in the government of Kíeff. When he was eight years old his mother
died, and his father married again. His stepmother favored her own
children, and to constant quarrels between the two broods, incessant
altercation between the parents was added. At the age of eleven, when
his father died, he began a roving life. He ran away from a couple of
ecclesiastics who had undertaken to teach him to read and write (after
having acquired the rudiments of those arts), and made numerous
ineffectual attempts to obtain instruction in painting from various
wretched daubers of holy pictures, having been addicted, from his
earliest childhood, to scrawling over the walls of the house and the
fences with charcoal drawings. He was obliged to turn shepherd. In 1827
he was taken on as one of his master's household servants, and sent to
Vílna, where at first he served as scullion. Later on, it was decided
that he "was fitted to become the household painter."

But he served at first as personal attendant on his master and handed
him a light for his pipe, until his master caught him one night drawing
a likeness of Kazák Plátoff, whereupon he pulled Shevtchénko's ears,
cuffed him, ordered him to be flogged, but simultaneously acquired the
conviction that the lad might be converted into a painter to the
establishment. So Shevtchénko began to study under a Vílna artist, and a
year and a half later, by the advice of his teacher, who recognized his
talent, the master sent the lad to a portrait-painter in Warsaw. In 1831
he was sent to his master in St. Petersburg on foot by the regular
police "stages" (_étape_), arriving almost shoeless, and acted as lackey
in the establishment. At last his master granted his urgent request, and
apprenticed him for four years to an instructor in painting. Here
Shevtchénko made acquaintance with the artist I. M. Sóshenko, and
through him with an author of some little note, who took pity on the
young fellow's sorry plight, and began to invite him to his house, give
him books to read, furnish him with various useful suggestions, and with
money. Thus did Shevtchénko come to know the Russian and western
classical authors, history, and so forth. Through Sóshenko's agency, the
aid of the secretary of the Academy of Arts was invoked to rescue the
young man from his artist master's intolerable oppression, and his
literary friend introduced Shevtchénko to Zhukóvsky, who took an ardent
interest in the fate of the talented young fellow. They speedily began
operations to free Shevtchénko from serfdom; and the manner in which it
was finally affected is curious. A certain general ordered a portrait of
himself from Shevtchénko for which he was to pay fifty rubles. The
general was not pleased with the portrait, and refused to accept it. The
offended artist painted the general's beard over with a froth of
shaving-soap, and sold the picture for a song to the barber who was in
the habit of shaving the general, and he used it as a sign. The general
flew into a rage, immediately purchased the portrait, and with a view to
revenging himself on the artist, he offered the latter's master a huge
sum for him. Shevtchénko was so panic-stricken at the prospect of what
awaited him, that he fled for aid to the artist Briulóff, entreating the
latter to save him. Briulóff told Zhukóvsky, and Zhukóvsky repeated the
story to the Empress Alexándra Feódorovna, wife of Nicholas I.
Shevtchénko's master was ordered to stop the sale. The Empress then
commanded Briulóff to complete a portrait of her which he had begun, and
she put it up as the prize in a lottery among the members of the
imperial family for the sum of ten thousand rubles--the price offered
for Shevtchénko by the enraged general. Shevtchénko thus received his
freedom in May, 1838, and immediately began to attend the classes in the
Academy of Arts, and speedily became one of Briulóff's favorite pupils
and comrades.

In 1840 he published his "Kobzár"[29] which made an impression in
Little Russia. In 1842 he began the publication of his famous poem, "The
Haïdamák" (A Warrior of Ancient Ukraína). In 1843 he was arrested and
sent back to Little Russia, where he lived until 1847, and during this
period his talent bore its fairest blossoms, and his best works
appeared: "The Banquet of the Dead," "The Hired Woman," "The Dream,"
"The Prisoner," "Iván Gus" (the goose), "The Cold Hillside," and so
forth. His literary fame reached its zenith, and brought with it the
friendship of the best intellectual forces of southern Russia, and with
the aid of Princess Ryépnin (cousin to the minister of public education)
and Count Uvároff, he obtained the post of drawing-master in Kíeff
University. But in 1847 some one overheard and distorted a conversation
in which Shevtchénko and several friends had taken part, the result
being that all were arrested, while Shevtchénko, after being taken to
St. Petersburg, was sent to the Orenburg government in the far
southeast, to serve as a common soldier in the ranks, and was forbidden
to paint or to write. There he remained for ten years, when he returned
to the capital, and settled down at the Academy of Arts, where he was
granted a studio, in accordance with his right as an academician. He
never produced anything of note in the literary line thereafter, and the
last three years of his life were chiefly devoted to releasing his
relatives from serfdom, and furnishing them with land for cottages,
which object he accomplished a few months before the general
emancipation of the serfs.

In the work of Shevtchénko it is possible to follow the curious
transformation from what may be called the collective-folk creative
power, to the purely individual. His figures, subjects, and the quiet,
heart-rending sadness of his poems are precisely the same as those to
be met with in any Little Russian folk-ballad. The majority of his poems
are not inventions, but are taken directly from popular legends and
traditions, and the personality of the poet vanishes in a flood of
purely popular poetry. Nevertheless, he is not a slavish copyist of this
folk-poetry. The language of his compositions is strikingly simple, and
comprehensible not only to native-born Little Russians, but also to
those who are not acquainted with the dialect of that region. Most
writers who have employed the Little Russian dialect are difficult of
comprehension not only to educated Great Russians, but also to ordinary
Little Russians, because their language is artificial, intermingled with
a mass of new words and expressions invented in educated circles of
Little Russia. But Shevtchénko wrote in the living tongue of the
Ukraína, in which its people talk and sing. His best work, after he came
under the influence of Zhukóvsky, is "The Hired Woman." This is the
story of a girl who is betrayed, then forced by outsiders to abandon her
child, after which she hires herself out as servant to the people at
whose door she has left the child, and so is enabled to rear it, only
revealing the secret to her child on her deathbed.

The sufferings of the people in serfdom form the subject of another
series of his poems, and in this category, "Katerína" is the best worked
out and most dramatic of his productions. A third category comprises the
historical ballads, in which he celebrates the days of kazák freedom.
This class comprises two long poems, "The Haïdamák" (The Kazák Warrior
of Ancient Ukraína) and "Gamáliya," besides a number of short
rhapsodies. In these poems the writer has expressed his political and
social views, and they are particularly prized by his fellow-landsmen of
the Ukraína. The fourth (or, in the order of their appearance, the
first) class of Shevtchénko's poems consists of ballads in the
folk-style, and sentimental, romantic pieces, which have no political or
social tendencies. Such are the ballads, "The Cause," "The Drowned
Woman," "The Water Nymph," "The Poplar Tree," which he wrote in St.
Petersburg on scraps of paper in the summer garden.

Of less talent and importance was a fellow-citizen of Koltzóff, Iván
Sávitch Nikítin (1824-1861). Perhaps the most interesting thing about
him is that Count L. N. Tolstóy took a lively interest in this gifted
plebeian, and offered to bear the cost of publishing his poems,
regarding him as a new Koltzóff. Count Tolstóy has since arrived at the
conclusion that all poetry is futile and an unnecessary waste of time,
as the same ideas can be much better expressed in prose, and with less
labor to both writer and reader.

The poet from the educated classes of society who deserves the most
attention as a member of Nekrásoff's camp, is Alexyéi Nikoláevitch
Pleshtchéeff (1825-1893), the descendant of an ancient family of the
nobility. In 1849 he was arrested for suspected implication in what is
known as "The Petrashévsky Affair" (from the name of the leader), and
imprisoned in the Peter-Paul Fortress. Together with Dostoévsky and
nineteen others he was condemned to be shot, but all the prisoners were
pardoned by the Emperor (the charge was high treason) at the last
moment, and after spending nine months in the fortress, Pleshtchéeff was
sent to serve as a common soldier in the troops of the line, in the
Orenburg government, with the loss of all his civil rights. There he
remained nine years, taking part in several border campaigns, and rising
to the rank of ensign, after which he entered the civil service. In 1859
he was allowed to return to Moscow, whence he removed to St. Petersburg
in 1872.[30]

The principal writers of satirical verse during this period were:
Alexyéi Mikháilovitch Zhemtchúzhnikoff (1822), V. S. Kúrotchkin
(1831-1875), who founded the extremely popular journal "The Spark," in
1859, and D. D. Mináeff (1835-1889).


     1. What had been the progress of the drama in Russia up to the
     time of Ostróvsky?

     2. How did "It Is All in the Family" make its appearance, and
     with what result?

     3. What especial value has the play "The Thunderstorm"?

     4. What variety of subjects are treated in Ostróvsky's plays?

     5. Why does his work rank so high?

     6. What plays by Turgéneff hold the next place to Ostróvsky's?

     7. What are the best historical novels in the Russian language?

     8. What was the character of the poetry of this period?

     9. What ballads by Polónsky have a national reputation?

     10. Give the chief events in the life of Nekrásoff.

     11. What hostile criticism have his works received?

     12. What may be said in his favor?

     13. What is the story of "Red-Nosed Frost"?

     14. What pictures of Russian society are given in "Russian

     15. How is the poet's wide knowledge shown in his poem "Who in
     Russia Finds Life Good"?

     16. Give an account of the eventful career of Shevtchénko.

     17. What are the noteworthy features of his poetry?


     _The Thunderstorm._ Ostróvsky.

     _Prince Serébryany_; _The Death of Iván the Terrible_. Count
     Alexéi K. Tolstóy.

     _Red-Nosed Frost._ N. A. Nekrásoff.


[26] I had the pleasure of knowing Polónsky and his wife, a gifted
sculptress. He was a great favorite in society, for his charming
personality, as well as for his poetry. He served on the Committee of
Foreign Censure.

[27] I permit myself to quote from my "Russian Rambles" Count L. N.
Tolstóy's opinion, in which he succinctly expressed to me the view of
this second party: "There are three requisites which go to make a
perfect writer. First, he must have something worth saying. Second, he
must have a proper way of saying it. Third, he must have sincerity.
Dickens had all three of these qualities. Thackeray had not much to say;
he had a great deal of art in saying it, but he had not enough
sincerity. Dostoévsky possessed all three requisites. Nekrásoff knew
well how to express himself, but he did not possess the first quality;
he forced himself to say something--whatever would catch the public at
the moment, of which he was a very keen judge, as he wrote to suit the
popular taste, believing not at all in what he said. He had none of the
third requisite."

[28] A verst is about two-thirds of a mile.

[29] The player on the Little Russian twelve-stringed guitar, the Kóbza,
literally translated.

[30] I saw him, a majestic old man, surrounded by an adoring throng of
students and young men, at one of the requiem services for M. E.
Saltykóff (Shtchedrín), in the Kazán Cathedral, St. Petersburg, in
April, 1889.



All the writers of the '40's of the nineteenth century had their
individual peculiarities. But in this respect, Feódor Mikháilovitch
Dostoévsky (1821-1880) was even more sharply separated from all the rest
by his characteristics, which almost removed him from the ranks of the
writers of the epoch, and gave him a special place in literature.

The chief cause of this distinction lies in the fact that while most of
the other writers sprang from the country regions, being members of the
landed gentry class, Dostoévsky represents the plebeian, toiling class
of society, a nervously choleric son of the town; and in the second
place, while the majority of them were well-to-do, Dostoévsky alone in
the company belonged to the class of educated strugglers with poverty,
which had recently made its reappearance.

His father was staff physician in the Márya Hospital in Moscow, and he
was the second son in a family of seven children. The whole family lived
in two rooms, an ante-room and kitchen, which comprised the quarters
allotted to the post by the government. Here strictly religious and
patriarchal customs reigned, mitigated by the high cultivation of the
head of the family.

In 1837 Feódor Mikháilovitch and his elder brother were taken to St.
Petersburg by their father to be placed in the School for Engineers,
but the elder did not succeed in entering, on account of feeble health.
Dostoévsky had already evinced an inclination for literature, and
naturally he was not very diligent in his studies of the dry, applied
sciences taught in the school. But he found time to make acquaintance
with the best works of Russian, English, French, and German classical
authors. In 1843 he completed his course, and was appointed to actual
service in the draughting department of the St. Petersburg engineer

With his salary and the money sent to him by his guardian (his father
being dead), he had about five thousand rubles a year, but as he was
extremely improvident, bohemian, and luxurious in his tastes, he could
never make both ends meet. He was still more straitened in his finances
when, in 1844, he resigned from the service, which was repugnant to him,
and utterly at variance with his literary proclivities, and was obliged
to resort to making translations. In May, 1844, he completed his first
romance, "Poor People," and sent it to Nekrásoff by his school-friend
Grigoróvitch. In his "Diary" Dostoévsky has narrated the manner of its
reception by Nekrásoff (who was preparing to publish a collection), and
by Byelínsky, to whom the latter gave it. Grigoróvitch and Nekrásoff sat
up all night to read it, so fascinated were they, and then hastened
straight to communicate their rapture to the author. Nekrásoff then gave
the manuscript to Byelínsky with the exclamation, "A new Gógol has made
his appearance!" to which Byelínsky sternly replied, "Gógols spring up
like mushrooms with you." But when he had read the romance, he cried
out, with emotion, "Bring him, bring him to me!"

Even before the romance made its appearance in print (early in 1846),
Dostoévsky had won a flattering literary reputation. The young author's
head was fairly turned with his swift success, and he grew arrogant, the
result of which was that he soon quarreled with Byelínsky, Nekrásoff,
and their whole circle, and published his later writings (with one
exception) elsewhere than in "The Contemporary." His coolness towards
the circle of "The Contemporary" was not a little aided by the
difference in opinions which began to make themselves felt. Dostoévsky
was carried away by the political and social ideas which reigned in that
circle, but at the same time he obstinately upheld his own religious
views. The result of this was, that the members of the circle began to
regard him as behind the times. He became more and more interested in
socialism, and soon went to live with his new friends in quarters where
the principles of association ruled. He then entered the Dúroff circle
of Fourierists, the most moderate of all the Petrashévsky circles, which
a good authority declares to have entertained no purely revolutionary
ideas whatever. They rebelled against the maintenance of the strict
censorship then in force, serfdom, and administrative abuses, but paid
little attention to the question of a change in the form of government,
and attributed no importance to political upheavals. Dostoévsky himself
was, in general, very far from cherishing any revolutionary designs; he
enthusiastically declaimed Púshkin's verses about slavery falling "at
the wave of the Tzar's hand," and insisted that no socialistic theories
had the slightest importance for Russians, since in the commune, and the
working unions (_artél_), and mutual guarantee system there had long
existed in their land more solid and normal foundations than all the
dreams of Saint Simon and his school, and that life in a community and
phalanstery seemed to him more terrible and repulsive than that of any

Notwithstanding this, in May, 1849, Dostoévsky was arrested, along with
the other followers of Petrashévsky, confined in the fortress, and
condemned by court-martial on the charge of having "taken part in
discussions concerning the severity of the censorship, and in one
assembly, in March, 1849, had read a letter from Byelínsky to Gógol,
received from Pleshtchéeff in Moscow, and had then read it aloud in the
assemblies at Dúroff's, and had given copies of it to Mombelli to copy.
In the assemblies at Dúroff's he had listened to the reading of
articles, knew of the intention to set up a printing-press, and at
Spyéshneff's had listened to the reading of 'A Soldier's Conversation.'"

All the Petrashévskyians were condemned to be shot, and the sentence was
read to them on January 3, 1850, on the scaffold, where they stood
stripped, in the freezing cold, for twenty minutes, in momentary
expectation of their execution. But the death sentence was mitigated in
different degrees by the Emperor, Dostoévsky's sentence being commuted
to exile with hard labor for four years, and then service as a common
soldier in the ranks. He was dispatched to Siberia two days later, which
was on Christmas Eve, according to the Russian reckoning.

The wives of the Decembrists (the men exiled for revolutionary plots in
1825, at the accession to the throne of the Emperor Nicholas I.),
visited the Petrashévskyians in prison at Tobólsk and gave Dostoévsky a
copy of the Gospels. No other book made its way within the prison walls,
and after reading nothing else for the next three years, Dostoévsky,
according to his own words, "forced by necessity to read the Bible only,
was enabled more clearly and profoundly to grasp the meaning of
Christianity." In his "Notes from a Dead House" he has described in
detail his life in the prison at Omsk, and all his impressions. Prison
life produced an extremely crushing and unfavorable impression on him.
He was brought into close contact with the common people, was enabled to
study them, but he also became thoroughly imbued with that spirit of
mysticism which is peculiar to ignorant and illiterate people. His own
view of the universe was that of childlike faith, and prison life
strengthened this view by leading him to see in it the foundation of the
national spirit and the national life. During the last year of his
prison life, under a milder commandant, he was able to renew his
relations with former schoolmates and friends in the town, and through
them obtain more money, write home, and even come into possession of

But his health was much affected, his nerves having been weak from
childhood, and already so shattered that, in 1846, he was on the verge
of insanity. Even at that time he had begun to have attacks by night of
that "mystical terror," which he has described in detail in "Humiliated
and Insulted," and he also had occasional epileptic fits. In Siberia
epilepsy developed to such a point that it was no longer possible to
entertain any doubt as to the character of his malady.

On leaving prison, in 1854, and becoming a soldier, Dostoévsky was much
better off. He was soon promoted to the rank of ensign, wrote a little,
planned "Notes from a Dead House," and in 1856 married. At last, after
prolonged efforts, he received permission to return to European Russia,
in July, 1859, and settled in Tver. In the winter of that year, his
rights, among them that of living in the capital, were restored to him,
and in 1861 he and his elder brother began to publish a journal called
"The Times." The first number contained the first installment of
"Humiliated and Insulted," and simultaneously, during 1861-1862, "Notes
from a Dead House" appeared there also, in addition to critical literary
articles from his pen. This and other editorial and journalistic
ventures met with varying success, and he suffered many reverses of
fortune. In 1865-1866 he wrote his masterpiece, "Crime and Punishment."
His first wife having died, he married his stenographer, in 1867, and
traveled in western Europe for the next four years, in the course of
which he wrote his romances: "The Idiot" (1868), "The Eternal Husband"
(1870), and "Devils" (1871-72). After his return to Russia he wrote
(1875) "The Stripling," and (1876) began the publication of "The Diary
of a Writer," which was in the nature of a monthly journal, made up of
his own articles, chiefly of a political character, and bearing on the
Serbo-Turkish War. But it also contained literary and autobiographical
articles, and had an enormous success, despite the irregularity of its

In June, 1880, he delivered a speech before the Society of Lovers of
Russian Literature, which won him such popularity as he had never before
enjoyed, and resulted in a tremendous ovation, on the part of the
public, at the unveiling of the monument to Púshkin. He was besieged
with letters and visits; people came to him incessantly from all parts
of St. Petersburg and of Russia, with expressions of admiration,
requests for aid, questions, complaints against others, and expressions
of opinions hostile to him personally. In the last half of 1880 he
finished "The Karamázoff Brothers." His funeral, on February 15, 1881,
was very remarkable; the occasion of an unprecedented "manifestation,"
which those who took part in it are still proud of recalling. Forty-two
deputations bearing wreaths and an innumerable mass of people walked
miles after his coffin to the cemetery of the Alexander Névsky

Under the various influences to which Dostoévsky was subjected, he
eventually became what is known in Russia as "a native-soiler," in
literature--the leader, in fact, of that semi-Slavyánophil, semi-Western
school--and towards the end of his life was converted into a genuine
Slavophil and mystic. In this conversion, as well as in the mystical
theories which he preached in his "Diary," and afterwards in his
romances, beginning with "Crime and Punishment," Dostoévsky has
something in common with Count L. N. Tolstóy. Both writers were
disenchanted as to European progress, admitted the mental and moral
insolvency of educated Russian society, and fell into despair, from
which the only escape, so it seemed to them, was becoming imbued with
the lively faith of the common people, and both authors regarded this
faith as the sole means of getting into real communion with the people.
Then, becoming more and more imbued with the spirit of the Christian
doctrine, both arrived at utter rejection of material improvement of the
general welfare; Count Tolstóy came out with a theory of non-resistance
to evil by force, and Dostoévsky with a theory of moral elevation and
purification by means of suffering, which in essence are identical; for
in what manner does non-resistance to evil manifest itself, if not in
unmurmuring endurance of the sufferings caused by evil?

Nevertheless, a profound difference exists between Count Tolstóy and
Dostoévsky. In the former we see an absence of conservatism and devotion
to tradition. His attitude towards all doctrines is that of
unconditional freedom of thought, and subjecting them to daring
criticism, he chooses from among them only that which is in harmony with
the inspirations of his own reason. He is a genuine individualist, to
his very marrow. By the masses of the common people, he does not mean
the Russian nation only, but all the toilers and producers of the earth,
without regard to nationality; while by the faith which he seeks among
those toilers, he does not mean any fixed religious belief, but faith in
the reasonableness and advantageousness of life, and of everything which
exists, placing this faith in dependence upon brisk, healthy toil.

Dostoévsky, on the contrary, is a communist, or socialist. He cares
nothing for freedom and the self-perfection of the individual. The
individual, according to his teaching, should merely submit, and
resignedly offer itself up as a sacrifice to society, for the sake of
fulfilling that mission which Russia is foreordained, as God's chosen
nation, to accomplish. This mission consists in the realization upon
earth of true Christianity in orthodoxy,[31] to which the Russian people
remain faithful and devoted; union with the common people is to be
accomplished in that manner alone; like the common people, with the same
boundless faith and devotion, orthodoxy must be professed, for in it
alone lies all salvation, not only for the world as a whole, but for
every individual.

The character of Dostoévsky's works is determined by the fact that he
was a child of the town. In their form they possess none of that elegant
regularity, of that classical finish and clear-cut outline, which
impress us in the works of Turgéneff and Gontcharóff. On the contrary,
they surprise us by their awkwardness, their prolixity, their lack of
severe finish, which requires abundant leisure. It is evident that they
were written in haste, by a man who was eternally in want, embarrassed
with debts, and incapable of making the two ends meet financially. At
the same time one is struck by the entire absence in Dostoévsky's works
of those artistic elements in which the works of the other authors of
the '40's are rich. They contain no enchanting pictures of nature, no
soul-stirring love scenes, meetings, kisses, the bewitching feminine
types which turn the reader's head, for which Turgéneff and Tolstóy are
famous. Dostoévsky even ridicules Turgéneff for his feminine portraits,
in "Devils," under the character of the writer Karmazínoff, with his
passion for depicting kisses not as they take place with all mankind,
but with gorse or some such weed growing round about, which one must
look up in a botany, while the sky must not fail to be of a purplish
hue, which, of course, no mortal ever beheld, and the tree under which
the interesting pair is seated must infallibly be orange-colored, and so

Dostoévsky's subjects also present a sharp difference from those of his
contemporaries, whose subjects are characterized by extreme simplicity
and absence of complication, only a few actors being brought on the
stage--not more than two, three, or four--and the entire plot being, as
a rule, confined to the rivalry of two lovers, and to the question upon
which of them the heroine will bestow her love. It is quite the contrary
with Dostoévsky. His plots are complicated and entangled, he introduces
a throng of acting personages. In reading his romances, one seems to
hear the roar of the crowd, and the life of a town is unrolled before
one, with all its bustle, its incessantly complicated and unexpected
encounters, and relations of people one to another. Like a true child of
the town, Dostoévsky does not confine himself to fashionable
drawing-rooms, or to the educated classes; he is fond of introducing the
reader to the dens of poverty and vice, which he invests, also, with
their own peculiar, gloomy poetry. In his pictures of low life, he more
resembles Dickens than the followers of Georges Sand of his day.

But the most essential quality of Dostoévsky's creative art is the
psychical analysis, which occupies the foreground in the majority of his
romances, and constitutes their chief power and value. A well-known
alienist doctor, who has examined these romances from a scientific point
of view, declares himself amazed by the scientific accuracy wherewith
Dostoévsky has depicted the mentally afflicted. In his opinion, about
one-fourth of this author's characters are more or less afflicted in
this manner, some romances containing as many as three who are not
normal, in one way or another. This doctor demonstrates that Dostoévsky
was a great psychopathologist, and that, with his artistic insight, he
anticipated even exact science. And much that he has written will
certainly be incorporated in psychological text-books. It is
superfluous, after such competent testimony, to insist upon the
life-likeness and the truth to nature of his portraits. The effect of
his books on a reader is overwhelming, even stunning and

One further point is to be noted: that notwithstanding the immense
number of characters presented to the reader by Dostoévsky, they all
belong to a very limited number of types, which are repeated, with
slight variations, in all his romances. Thus, in conformity with the
doctrine of the "native-soilers," he places at the foundation of the
majority of his works one of the two following types: (1) The gentle
type of the man overflowing with tender affection of utter
self-sacrifice, ready to forgive everything, to justify everything, to
bear himself compassionately towards the treachery of the girl he loves,
and to go on loving her, even to the point of removing the obstacles to
her marriage with another man, and so forth. Such is the hero of "Crime
and Punishment"; such is Prince Mýshkinh in "The Idiot," and so on; (2)
The rapacious type, the type of the egoist, brimming over with passion,
knowing no bounds to his desires, and restrained by no laws, either
human or divine. Such are: Stavrógin in "Devils," Dmítry Karamázoff
("The Karamázoff Brothers"), and so forth. His women also can be divided
into two similar, contrasting types; on the one hand, the gentle--the
type of the woman who possesses a heart which is tender and loving to
self-abnegation, like Nelly and Natásha, in "Humiliated and Insulted";
Raskólnikoff's mother and Sónya, in "Crime and Punishment"; Nétotchka
Nezvánoff, in "The Stripling." On the other hand, there are the
rapacious types of capricious, charming women who are tyrannical to the
point of cruelty, like Polína, in "The Gambler," Nastásya Filíppovna in
"The Idiot," Grúshenka and Katerína Ivánovna in "The Karamázoff
Brothers," and Varvára Petróvna, in "Devils."

The reactionary tendency made its appearance in Dostoévsky almost
contemporaneously with its appearance in Turgéneff and Gontcharóff,
unhappily. The first romance in which it presented itself was "Crime and
Punishment," the masterpiece in which his talent attained its zenith.
This work, in virtue of its psychical and psychological analyses,
deserves to rank among the greatest and best monuments of European
literary art in the nineteenth century. Unfortunately, it produced a
strange impression on all reasonable people, because of the fact that
the author suddenly makes the crime of his hero, Raskólnikoff, dependent
upon the influence of new ideas, as though they justified crimes,
committed with good objects. No less surprising is the manner in which
the romance winds up with the moral regeneration of Raskólnikoff under
the influence of exile with hard labor.

Dostoévsky, to be fully appreciated, requires--perhaps more than most
writers--to be read at length. But the following brief extract will
afford a glimpse of his manner. The extract is from the "Notes from a
Dead House." Sushíloff was a prisoner who had been sent to Siberia
merely for colonization, for some trifling breach of the laws. During a
fit of intoxication he had been persuaded by a prisoner named Mikháiloff
to exchange names and punishments, in consideration of a new red shirt
and one ruble in cash. Such exchanges were by no means rare, but the
prisoner to whose disadvantage the bargain redounded, generally demanded
scores of rubles; hence, every one ridiculed Sushíloff for the cheap
rate at which he had sold his light sentence. Had he been able to
return the ruble (which he had immediately spent for liquor), he might
have bought back his name, but the prisoners' artél, or guild, always
insisted upon the strict fulfilment of such bargains in default of the
money being refunded; and if the authorities suspected such exchanges,
they did not pry into them, it being immaterial to the officials (in
Siberia at least) what man served out the sentence, so long as they
could make their accounts tally. Thus much in explanation abbreviated
from Dostoévsky's statement.

     "Sushíloff and I lived a long time together, several years in
     all. He gradually became greatly attached to me; I could not
     help perceiving this, as I had, also, become thoroughly used to
     him. But one day--I shall never forgive myself for it--he did
     not comply with some request of mine, although he had just
     received money from me, and I had the cruelty to say to him,
     'Here you are taking my money, Sushíloff, but you don't do your
     duty.' Sushíloff made no reply, but seemed suddenly to grow
     melancholy. Two days elapsed. I said to myself, it cannot be
     the result of my words. I knew that a certain prisoner, Antón
     Vasílieff, was urgently dunning him for a petty debt. He
     certainly had no money, and was afraid to ask me for any. So on
     the third day, I said to him: 'Sushíloff, I think you have
     wanted to ask me for money to pay Antón Vasílieff. Here it is.'
     I was sitting on the sleeping-shelf at the time; Sushíloff was
     standing in front of me. He seemed very much surprised that I
     should offer him the money of my own accord; that I should
     voluntarily remember his difficult situation, the more so as,
     in his opinion, he had already, and that recently, taken
     altogether too much from me in advance, so that he dared not
     hope that I would give him any more. He looked at the money,
     then at me, abruptly turned away and left the room. All this
     greatly amazed me. I followed him and found him behind the
     barracks. He was standing by the prison stockade with his face
     to the fence, his head leaning against it, and propping himself
     against it with his arm. 'Sushíloff, what's the matter with
     you?' I asked him. He did not look at me, and to my extreme
     surprise, I observed that he was on the verge of weeping. 'You
     think--Alexánder Petróvitch--'[32] he began, in a broken voice,
     as he endeavored to look another way, 'that I serve you--for
     money--but I--I--e-e-ekh!' Here he turned again to the fence,
     so that he even banged his brow against it--and how he did
     begin to sob! It was the first time I had beheld a man weep in
     the prison. With difficulty I comforted him, and although from
     that day forth, he began to serve me more zealously than ever,
     if that were possible, and to watch over me, yet I perceived,
     from almost imperceptible signs, that his heart could never
     pardon me for my reproach; and yet the others laughed at us,
     persecuted him at every convenient opportunity, sometimes
     cursed him violently--but he lived in concord and friendship
     with them and never took offense. Yes, it is sometimes very
     difficult to know a man thoroughly, even after long years of

Dostoévsky, in all his important novels, has much to say about religion,
and his personages all illustrate some phase of religious life. This is
nowhere more apparent than in his last novel, "The Karamázoff Brothers,"
wherein the religious note is more powerfully struck than in any of the
others. The ideal of the Orthodox Church of the East is embodied in
Father Zosím, and in his gentle disciple, Alexyéi (Alyósha) Karamázoff;
the reconciling power of redemption is again set forth over the guilty
soul of the principal hero, Dmítry Karamázoff, when he is overtaken by
chastisement for a suspected crime. The doubting element is represented
by Iván Karamázoff, who is tortured by a constant conflict with anxious
questions. In "The Legend of the Grand Inquisitor," which the author
puts into Iván's mouth, Dostoévsky's famous and characteristic power of
analysis reached its greatest height.

Belonging to no class, and famous for but one book, which does not even
count as literature, yet chronologically a member of this period, was
Nikolái Gavrílovitch Tchernyshévsky (1828-1889). After 1863 he exerted
an immense influence on the minds of young people of both sexes; and of
all the writers of the "storm and stress" period, he is the most
interesting, because, in his renowned book, "What Is to Be Done?" he
applied his theories to practical life. His success was due, not to the
practicability of his theories, to his literary qualities, to his art,
but to the fact that he contrived to unite two things, each one of
which, as a rule, is found in a writer; he simultaneously touched the
two most responsive chords in the human heart--the thirst for easy
happiness, and the imperative necessity for ascetic self-sacrifice.
Hence, he won a response from the most diametrically conflicting

"What Is to Be Done" is the story of a young girl who, with the greatest
improbability, is represented as being of the purest, most lofty
character and sentiments, yet the daughter of two phenomenally (almost
impossibly) degraded people. Instead of marrying the rich and not
otherwise undesirable man whom her parents urge on her, and who is
deeply in love with her, she runs away with her teacher, and stipulates
in advance for life in three rooms. She is only seventeen, yet she
promptly establishes a fashion-shop which thrives apace, and puts forth
numerous branches all over the capital. Her working-girls are treated
ideally and as equals, she working with them, in which lies the answer
to "What Is to Be Done?" After a while she falls in love with her
husband's dearest friend, who is described as so exactly like him that
the reader is puzzled to know wherein she descried favorable
difference, and the husband, perceiving this, makes things easy by
pretending to drown himself, but in reality going off to America.
Several years later he returns--as an American--and his ex-wife's
present husband, having become a medical celebrity, helps him to a bride
by informing her panic-stricken parents (who oppose the match, although
they are ignorant at first of any legal impediment to the union), that
she will certainly die if they do not yield. The two newly assorted
couples live in peace, happiness, and prosperity ever after. Work and
community life are the chief themes of the preachment. He was exiled to
Siberia in 1864, and on his return to Russia (when he settled in
Ástrakhan, and was permitted to resume his literary labors), he busied
himself with translations, critical articles, and the like, but was
unable to regain his former place in literature.


     1. Describe the early life of Dostoévsky.

     2. How were his first writings received?

     3. What relation had he to the social agitations of the times?

     4. Upon what charge was he exiled to Siberia?

     5. How were his views affected by his prison life?

     6. Give some account of his literary activities.

     7. How did his views resemble those of Tolstóy?

     8. How did they differ?

     9. What are the characteristics of Dostoévsky's style?

     10. What are the chief types portrayed in his novels?

     11. What two periods of his life are represented by his "Notes
     From a Dead House" and his later works?

     12. Why has "What Is to Be Done?" achieved such popularity?


     _Buried Alive; or, Ten Years' Penal Servitude in Siberia._
     ("Notes From a Dead House.") There are also other translations
     bearing various titles.

     _Poor Folk._ _Crime and Punishment._ _Humbled and Insulted._
     (The last two abbreviated are translated by F. Wishaw.) F. M.

     _What is to be Done? A Vital Question._ (Two translations of
     the same work.) N. G. Tchernyshévsky.


[31] Meaning the faith of the Holy Catholic Apostolic Church of the
East. A great many Russians believe this, and that Russia's mission on
earth is a moral and spiritual one, founded upon precisely this basis.

[32] The narrator, in "Notes from a Dead House," is assumed to be a
prisoner named Alexánder Petróvitch Goryántchikoff.



Under the influence of the romantic movement in western Europe, in the
'30's of the nineteenth century, and in particular under the deep
impression made by Sir Walter Scott's novels, historical novels and
historical studies began to make their appearance in Russia, and in the
'50's underwent two periods of existence, which totally differed from
each other.

During the first period the romance-writers, including even Púshkin,
treated things from a governmental point of view, and dealt only with
such epochs, all more or less remote, as the censorship permitted. For
example, Zagóskin, the best known of the historical novelists, wrote
"Áskold's Grave," from the epoch of the baptism of the Russians, in the
tenth century, and "Yúry Miloslávsky," from the epoch of the Pretender,
early in the seventeenth century; while Lazhétchnikoff wrote "The
Mussulman," from the reign of Iván III., sixteenth century, and "The
Last Court Page," from the epoch of Peter the Great's wars with Sweden.
The historical facts were alluded to in a slight, passing way, or
narrated after the fashion of Karamzín, in lofty terms, with artificial
patriotic inspiration. As the authors lacked archæological learning, the
manners and accessories of the past were merely sketched in a general,
indefinite way, and often inaccurately, while the pages were chiefly
filled with the sentimental love-passages of two or three virtuous
heroes of stereotyped patterns, who were subjected to frightful
adventures, perished several times, and were resuscitated for the
purpose of marrying in ordinary fashion at the end.

In the '50's people became far too much interested in the present to pay
much heed to the past. Yet precisely at that time the two finest
historians came to the front, Sergyéi M. Soloviéff and N. I.
Kostomároff, and effected a complete revolution in historiography.
Soloviéff's great history brings the narrative down to the reign of
Katherine II. Kostomároff dealt with periods, giving a complete picture
of each one; hence each study, while complete in itself, does not of
necessity always contain the whole career of the personages who figure
in it. But both writers are essentially (despite Kostomároff's not very
successful attempts at historical novels) serious historians.

As we have already seen, the novels of the two Counts Tolstóy, "War and
Peace" and "Prince Serébryany," stand quite apart, and far above all

But among the favorites of lesser rank are Grigóry Petróvitch Danilévsky
(born in 1829), whose best historical novel is "Miróvitch," though it
takes unwarrantable liberties with the personages of the epoch depicted
(that of Katherine II.) and those in the adjacent periods. Less good,
though popular, is his "Princess Tarakánoff," the history of a supposed
daughter of the Empress Elizabeth.

Half-way between the historians and the portrayers of popular life, and
in a measure belonging to both ranks, are several talented men. The most
famous of them was Pável Ivánovitch Mélnikoff (1819-1883), whose
official duties enabled him to make an exhaustive study of the "Old
Ritualists"[33] along the middle Volga.

His two novels, "In the Forests" and "On the Hills" (of the eastern and
western banks of the Volga, respectively), are utterly unlike anything
else in the language, and are immensely popular with Russians. They are
history in that they faithfully reproduce the manners and beliefs of a
whole class of the population; they are _genre_ studies of a very
valuable ethnographical character in their fidelity to nature. Long as
they are, the interest never flags for a moment, but it is not likely
that they will ever appear in an English translation. Too extensive and
intimate a knowledge of national ways and beliefs (both of the State
Church and the schismatics) are required to allow of their being popular
with the majority of foreigners who read Russian; for the non-Russian
reading foreigner an excessive amount of explanatory notes would be
required, and they would resemble treatises. But they are two of the
most delightful books of the epoch, and classics in their way. Mélnikoff
wrote, for a long time, under the pseudonym of "Andréi Petchérsky."

Nikolái Seménovitch Lyeskóff (1837-1895), who long wrote under the
pseudonym of "M. Stebnítzky," is another author famous for his portraits
of a whole class of the population, his specialty being the priestly
class. He was of noble birth, and was reared in luxury, but was orphaned
and ruined at a very early age, so that he was obliged to earn a hard
living, first in government service, then as traveler for a private
firm. This extensive traveling afforded him the opportunity of making
acquaintance with the life of all classes of the population. He began
to write in 1860, but a few incautious words, in 1862, raised a storm
against him in the liberal press, which accused him of instigating the
police to their attacks upon young people. As Count Tolstóy remarked to
me, this incident prevented Lyeskóff ever receiving the full meed of
recognition which his talent merited; a large and influential section of
the press was permanently in league against him. This, eventually, so
exasperated and embittered Lyeskóff that he really did go over to the
conservative camp, and the first result of his wrath was the romance "No
Thoroughfare," published in 1865. Its chief characters are two ideal
socialists, a man and a woman, recognized by contemporaries as the
portraits of living persons. Both are represented as finding so-called
socialists to be merely crafty nihilists. This raised another storm, and
still further embittered Lyeskóff, who expressed himself in "To the
Knife" (in the middle of the '70's), a mad production, wherein
revolutionists (or "nihilists," as they were then generally called) were
represented as condensed incarnations of the seven deadly sins. These
works had much to do with preventing Lyeskóff from taking that high
place in the public estimation which his other works (a mass of novels
and tales devoid of political tendency) and his great talent would have
otherwise assured to him. Of his large works, "The Cathedral Staff,"
with its sympathetic and life-like portraits of Archpriest Savély
Tuberósoff and his athletic Deacon Achilles, and his "Episcopal Trifles"
rank first. The latter volume, which consists of a series of pictures
setting forth the dark sides of life in the highest ecclesiastical
hierarchy, created a great sensation in the early '80's, and raised a
third storm, and the author fell into disfavor in official circles.
Perhaps the most perfect of his works is one of the shorter novels, "The
Sealed Angel," which deals with the ways and beliefs of the Old
Ritualists (though in the vicinity of Kíeff, not in Mélnikoff's
province), and is regarded as a classic, besides being a pure delight to
the initiated reader. Count L. N. Tolstóy greatly admired (he told me)
Lyeskóff's "At the End of the World," a tale of missionary effort in
Siberia, which is equally delightful in its way, though less great.
Towards the end of his career, Lyeskóff was inclined to mysticism, and
began to work over ancient religious legends, or to invent new ones in
the same style.[34]

The direct and immediate result of the democratic tendency on Russian
thought and attraction to the common people during this era was the
creation of a school of writers who devoted themselves almost
exclusively to that sphere, in addition to the contributions from
Turgéneff, Tolstóy, Dostoévsky. Among these was a well-known woman
writer, Márya Alexándrovna Markóvitch, who published her first Little
Russian Tales, in 1859, under the name of "Márko Vovtchék." She
immediately translated them into Russian, and they were printed in
the best journals of the day. I. S. Turgéneff translated one volume
into Russian (for her Little Russian language was not of the supreme
quality that characterized Shevtchénko's, which needed no translating),
and Dobroliúboff, an authoritative critic of that period, expressed
himself in the most flattering manner about them. But her fame withered
away as quickly as it had sprung up. The weak points of her tales had
been pardoned because of their political contents; in ten years they
had lost their charm, and their defects--a too superficial knowledge
of the people's life, the absence of living, authentic coloring in
portraiture, its restriction to general, stereotyped types, such as
might have been borrowed from popular tales and ballads, and excess
of sentimentality--became too apparent to be overlooked by a more
enlightened public.

The only other woman writer of this period who acquired much reputation
may be mentioned here, although she cannot be classed strictly with
portrayers of the people: Nadézhda Dmítrievna Khvóshtchinsky, whose
married name was Zaióntchkovsky, and who wrote under the pseudonym of
"V. Krestóvsky" (1825-1889). She published a great many short stories of
provincial town life, rather narrow as to their sphere of observation.
Her best work was "The Great Bear" (referring to the constellation),
which appeared in 1870-1871.[35]

When literature entered upon a fresh phase of development in the '70's
of the last century, the careful study of the people, two men headed the
movement, Glyeb Ivánovitch Uspénsky and Nikolái Nikoláevitch
Zlatovrátsky. Uspénsky (1840) took the negative and pessimistic view.
Zlatovrátsky (1845) took the positive, optimistic view.[36]

Like many authors of that period, adverse conditions hindered Uspénsky's
march to fame. Shortly after his first work, "The Manners of Rasteryáeff
Street," began to appear in "The Contemporary," that journal was
stopped. He continued it in another journal, which also was stopped
before his work was finished, and that after he had been forced to cut
out everything which gave a hint at its being a "continuation," so that
it might appear to be an independent whole. He was obliged to publish
the mangled remains in "The Woman's News," because there was hardly any
other journal then left running. After the Servian War (generally called
abroad "the Russo-Turkish War") of 1877-1878, Uspénsky abandoned the
plebeian classes to descend to "the original source" of everything--the
peasant. When he published the disenchanting result of his observations,
showing to what lengths a peasant will go for money, there was a
sensation. This was augmented by his sketch, "Hard Labor"; and a still
greater sensation ensued on the publication of his "'Tis Not a Matter of
Habit" (known in book form as "The Eccentric Master"). In "Hard Labor"
he set forth, contrary to all theoretical beliefs, that the peasants of
villages which had belonged to private landed proprietors prior to the
emancipation, were incomparably and incontestably more industrious and
moral than the peasants on the crown estates, who had always been
practically free men.[37]

Readers were still more alarmed by the deductions set forth in his "An
Eccentric Master." The hero is an educated man, Mikháil Mikháilovitch,
who betakes himself to the rural wilds with the express object of
"toiling there exactly like the rest, as an equal in morals and duties,
to sleep with the rest on the straw, to eat from one pot with them" (the
Tolstóyan theory, but in advance of him), "while the money acquired thus
by general toil was to be the property of a group of people to be
formed from peasants and from actually ruined former members of the
upper classes." But the peasants, not comprehending the master's lofty
aims, treated him as an eccentric fool, and began to rob him in all
directions, meanwhile humoring him to the top of his bent in all his
instincts of master. It ends in Mikháil Mikháilovitch becoming
thoroughly disillusioned, dejected, and taking to drink after having
expended the whole of his capital on the ungrateful peasants. This will
serve to illustrate Uspénsky's pessimistic point of view, for which he
certainly had solid grounds.

While Uspénsky never sought artistic effects in his work, and his chief
strength lay in humor, in ridicule which pitilessly destroyed all
illusions, Zlatovrátsky never indulges in a smile, and is always,
whether grieving or rejoicing, in a somewhat exalted frame of mind,
which often attains the pitch of epic pathos, so that even his style
assumes a rather poetical turn, something in the manner of hexameters.
Moreover, he is far from despising the artistic element. He established
his fame in 1874 by his first large work, "Peasant Jurors."

As Zlatovrátsky (whose father belonged to the priestly class) regards as
ideal the commune and the peasant guild (_artél_), with their
individualistic, moral ideals of union in a spirit of brotherly love and
solidarity, both in work and in the enjoyment of its products, his
pessimism is directed against the Russian educated classes, not
excepting even their very best representatives. This view he expresses
in all his works which depict the educated classes: "The Golden Heart,"
"The Wanderer," "The Kremléff Family," "The Karaváeffs," "The Hetman,"
and so forth. In these he represents educated people--the better
classes, called "intelligent" people by Russians--under the guise of
sheep who have strayed from the true fold, and the only thing about them
which he regards as a sign of life (in a few of the best of them) is
their vain efforts to identify themselves with the common people, and
thus, as it were, restore the lost paradise[38].

There are many others who have written sketches and more ambitious works
founded on a more or less intimate study and knowledge of the peasants.
On one of these we must turn our attention, briefly, as the author of
one famous and heartrending book, "The Inhabitants of Podlípovo." Feódor
Mikháilovitch Ryeshétnikoff (1841-1871) was one of three middle-class
("plebeian" is the Russian word) writers who made a name, the others
being Alexánder Ivánovitch Levítoff and Nikolái Ivánovitch Naúmoff. For
in proportion as culture spread among the masses of society, and the
center of the intellectual movement was transferred from the noble class
to the plebeian, in the literary circles towards the end of the '50's
there appeared a great flood of new forces from the lower classes. The
three writers above mentioned, as well as Uspénsky and Zlatovrátsky,
belonged to the priestly plebeian class. Ryeshétnikoff's famous
romance--rather a short story--was the outcome of his own hardships,
sufferings, and experiences. He was scantily educated, had no æsthetic
taste, wrote roughly, not always grammatically, and always in
excessively gloomy colors, yet he had the reputation of being a
passionate lover of the people, despite the fact that his picture of the
peasants in his best known work is generally regarded as almost a
caricature in its exaggerated gloom, and he enjoys wide popularity even
at the present time.

       *       *       *       *       *

The spirits of people rose during the epoch of Reform (after the
Emancipation of the serfs in 1861) and the general impulse to take an
interest in political and social questions was speedily reflected in
literature by the formation of a special branch of that art, which was
known as "tendency literature," although its more accurate title would
have been "publicist literature." The peculiarity of most writers of
this class was their pessimistic skepticism. This publicist literature
was divided into three classes: democratic, moderately liberal, and

At the head of the democratic branch stood the great writer who
constituted the pride and honor of the epoch, as the one who most
profoundly and fully reflected it, Mikháil Evgráfovitch Saltykóff
(1826-1889). He was the son of landed proprietors, of an ancient family,
with a famous name of Tatár descent. He finished his education in the
Tzárskoe Seló Lyceum, which, from the time of Púshkin on, graduated so
many notable statesmen and distinguished men. The authorities of the
Lyceum were endeavoring to exterminate the spirit of Púshkin, who had
died only the year before, and severely repressed all scribbling of
poetry, which did not in the least prevent almost every boy in the
school from trying his hand at it and dreaming of future fame. Thus
incited, Saltykóff, from the moment of his entrance, earned the ill-will
of the authorities by his passionate love of verse writing and reading,
and when he graduated, in 1844, it was in the lower half of his class,
and with one rank lower in the civil service than the upper half of the

In 1847 he published (under the name of "M. Nepánoff") his first story,
"Contradictions," and in 1848 his second, "A Tangled Affair," both in
"The Annals of the Fatherland." When the strictness of the censorship
was augmented during that same year, after "the Petrashévsky affair,"
all literary men fell under suspicion. When Saltykóff asked for leave of
absence from the service to go home during the holidays, he was
commanded to produce his writings. Although these early writings
contained hardly a hint of the satirical talents which he afterwards
developed, the person to whom was intrusted the task of making a report
of them (and who was a sworn enemy to the natural school and "The Annals
of the Fatherland") gave such an alarming account of them that the Count
Tchérnysheff was frightened at having so dangerous a man in his
ministerial department. The result was, that in May, 1848, a
posting-tróïka halted in front of Saltykóff's lodgings, and the
accompanying gendarme was under orders to escort the offender off to
Vyátka on the instant.

In Saltykóff's case, as in the case of many another Russian writer,
exile not only removed him from the distracting pleasures of life at the
capital, but also laid the foundation for his future greatness. In
Vyátka, Saltykóff first served as one of the officials in the government
office, but by the autumn he was appointed the official for special
commissions immediately attached to the governor's service. He was a
valued friend in the family of the vice-governor, for whose young
daughters he wrote a "Short History of Russia," and after winning
further laurels in the service, he was allowed to return to St.
Petersburg in 1856, when he married one of the young girls, and
published his "Governmental Sketches," with the materials for which his
exile had furnished him. Two years later he was appointed vice-governor
of Ryazán, then transferred to Tver, where he acted as governor on
several occasions. In 1862 he retired from the service and devoted
himself to literature, but he returned to it a couple of years later,
and only retired definitively in 1868. These items are of interest as
showing the status of political exiles in a different light from that
usually accepted as the unvarying rule.

As we have said, Saltykóff's exile was of incalculable service to him,
in that it made him acquainted with the inward life of Russia and of the
people. This knowledge he put to unsparing use in his famous satires. In
order fully to understand his works, one must be thoroughly familiar
with the general spirit and the special ideas of the different periods
to which they refer, as well as with Russia and its life and literature
in general. Saltykóff (who wrote under the name of "Shtchedrín") was
very keen to catch the spirit of the moment, and very caustic in
portraying it, with the result that very often the names he invented for
his characters clove to whole classes of society, and have become
by-words, the mere mention of which reproduces the whole type. For
example, after the Emancipation, when the majority of landed proprietors
were compelled to give up their parasitic life on the serfs, there arose
a class of educated people who were seeking fresh fields for their easy,
parasitic existence. One of the commonest expedients, in the '70's, for
restoring shattered finances was to go to Tashként, where the cultured
classes imagined that regular gold mines awaited them. Saltykóff
instantly detected this movement, and not only branded the pioneers in
the colonization of Central Asia with the name of "Tashkéntzians" (in
"Gospodá Tashkéntzy" Messrs. Tashkéntzians), but according to his wont,
he rendered this nickname general by applying it to all cultured classes
who had nothing in their souls but an insatiable appetite. In other
works he branded other movements and classes with equal

His masterpiece (in his third and most developed period), the work which
foreigners can comprehend almost equally well with Russians, is "Gospodá
Golovlévy" ("The Messrs. Golovléff"[39]). It contains that element of
the universal in humanity which his national satires lack, and it alone
would suffice to render him immortal. The type of Iúdiushka (little
Judas) has no superior in all European literature, for its cold,
calculating, cynical hypocrisy, its miserly ferocity. The book is a
presentment of old ante-reform manners among the landed gentry at their

The following favorite little story furnishes an excellent example of
Saltykóff's (Shtchedrín's) caustic wit and satire:


     Once upon a time there lived and flourished two Generals; and
     as both were giddy-pated, by jesting command, at my desire,
     they were speedily transported to an uninhabited island.

     The Generals had served all their lives in some registry office
     or other; they had been born there, reared there, had grown old
     there, and consequently they understood nothing whatever. They
     did not even know any words except, "accept the assurance of my
     complete respect and devotion."

     The registry was abolished as superfluous, and the Generals
     were set at liberty. Being thus on the retired list, they
     settled in Petersburg, in Podyátchesky (Pettifoggers) Street,
     in separate quarters; each had his own cook, and received a
     pension. But all of a sudden, they found themselves on an
     uninhabited island, and when they awoke, they saw that they
     were lying under one coverlet. Of course, at first they could
     not understand it at all, and they began to talk as though
     nothing whatever had happened to them.

     "'Tis strange, your Excellency, I had a dream to-day," said one
     General; "I seemed to be living on a desert island."

     No sooner had he said this than he sprang to his feet. The
     other General did the same.

     "Heavens! What's the meaning of this? Where are we?" cried
     both, with one voice.

     Then they began to feel each other, to discover whether this
     extraordinary thing had happened to them not in a dream, but in
     their waking hours. But try as they might to convince
     themselves that all this was nothing but a vision of their
     sleep, they were forced to the conviction of its sad reality.

     On one side of them stretched the sea, on the other side lay a
     small plot of land, and beyond it again stretched the same
     boundless sea. The Generals began to weep, for the first time
     since the registry office had been closed.

     They began to gaze at each other, and they then perceived that
     they were clad only in their night-shirts, and on the neck of
     each hung an order.

     "How good a little coffee would taste now!" ejaculated one
     General, but then he remembered what unprecedented adventure
     had happened to him, and he began to cry again.

     "But what are we to do?" he continued, through his tears; "if
     we were to write a report, of what use would it be?"

     "This is what we must do," replied the other General. "Do you
     go to the east, your Excellency, and I will go to the west, and
     in the evening we will meet again at this place; perhaps we
     shall find something."

     So they began their search to find which was the east and which
     the west. They recalled to mind that their superior official
     had once said, "If you wish to find the east, stand with your
     eyes towards the north, and you will find what you want on your
     right hand." They began to seek the north, and placed
     themselves first in one position, then in another, and tried
     all quarters of the compass in turn, but as they had spent
     their whole lives in the registry office, they could decide on

     "This is what we must do, your Excellency; do you go to the
     right, and I will go to the left; that will be better," said
     the General, who besides serving in the registry office had
     also served as instructor of calligraphy in the school for
     soldiers' sons, and consequently had more sense.

     So said, so done. One General went to the right, and saw trees
     growing, and on the trees all sorts of fruits. The General
     tried to get an apple, but all the apples grew so high that it
     was necessary to climb for them. He tried to climb, but with no
     result, except that he tore his shirt to rags. The General came
     to a stream, the fish were swimming there in swarms, as though
     in a fish-shop on the Fontánka canal. "If we only had such fish
     in Pettifoggers Street!" said the General to himself, and he
     even changed countenance with hunger.

     The General entered the forest, and there hazel-hens were
     whistling, blackcocks were holding their bragging matches, and
     hares were running.

     "Heavens! What victuals! What victuals!" said the General, and
     he felt that he was becoming fairly sick at his stomach with

     There was nothing to be done; he was obliged to return to the
     appointed place with empty hands. He reached it but the other
     General was already waiting for him.

     "Well, your Excellency, have you accomplished anything?"

     "Yes, I have found an old copy of the 'Moscow News'; that is

     The Generals lay down to sleep again, but gnawing hunger kept
     them awake. They were disturbed by speculations as to who
     would receive their pension for them; then they recalled the
     fruits, fish, hazel-hens, blackcock, and hares which they had
     seen that day.

     "Who would have thought, your Excellency, that human food, in
     its original shape, flies, swims, and grows on trees?" said one

     "Yes," replied the other General; "I must confess that until
     this day I thought that wheaten rolls came into existence in
     just the form in which they are served to us in the morning
     with our coffee."

     "It must be that, for instance, if one desires to eat a
     partridge, he must first catch it, kill it, pluck it, roast
     it.... But how is all that done?"

     "How is all that done?" repeated the other General, like an
     echo. They fell into silence, and tried to get to sleep; but
     hunger effectually banished sleep. Hazel-hens, turkeys,
     sucking-pigs flitted before their eyes, rosy, veiled in a
     slight blush of roasting, surrounded with cucumbers, pickles,
     and other salads.

     "It seems to me that I could eat my own boots now!" said one

     "Gloves are good also, when they have been worn a long time!"
     sighed the other General.

     All at once the Generals glanced at each other; an ominous fire
     glowed in their eyes, their teeth gnashed, a dull roar forced
     its way from their breasts. They began slowly to crawl toward
     each other, and in the twinkling of an eye they were
     exasperated to fury. Tufts of hair flew about, whines and
     groans resounded; the General who had been a teacher of
     calligraphy bit off his adversary's Order, and immediately
     swallowed it. But the sight of flowing blood seemed to restore
     them to their senses.

     "The power of the cross defend us!" they exclaimed
     simultaneously; "if we go on like this we shall eat each

     "And how did we get here? What malefactor has played us this

     "We must divert our minds with some sort of conversation, your
     Excellency, or there will be murder!" said the other General.

     "Begin!" replied the other General.

     "Well, for instance, what do you think about this, Why does the
     sun rise first and then set, instead of acting the other way

     "You are a queer man, your Excellency; don't you rise first,
     then go to the office, write there, and afterward go to bed?"

     "But why not admit this reversal of the order; first I go to
     bed, have divers dreams, and then rise?"

     "Hm, yes.... But I must confess that when I served in the
     department I always reasoned in this fashion: now it is
     morning, then it will be day, then supper will be served, and
     it will be time to go to bed."

     But the mention of supper plunged them both into grief, and
     broke the conversation off short at the very beginning.

     "I have heard a doctor say that a man can live for a long time
     on his own juices," began one of the Generals.

     "Is that so?"

     "Yes, sir, it is; it appears that, the juices proper produce
     other juices; these in their turn, engender still other juices,
     and so on, until at last the juices cease altogether...."

     "What then?"

     "Then it is necessary to take some sort of nourishment."


     In short, no matter what topic of conversation the Generals
     started, it led inevitably to a mention of food, and this
     excited their appetites still more. They decided to cease their
     conversation, and calling to mind the copy of the "Moscow News"
     which they had found, they began to read it with avidity.

     "Yesterday," read one General, with a quivering voice, "the
     respected governor of our ancient capital gave a grand dinner.
     The table was set for one hundred persons, with wonderful
     luxury. The gifts of all lands seemed to have appointed a
     rendezvous at this magical feast. There was the golden sterlet
     of the Sheksna, the pheasant, nursling of the Caucasian
     forests, and strawberries, that great rarity in our north in
     the month of February...."

     "Tfu, heavens! Cannot your Excellency find some other subject?"
     cried the other General in desperation, and taking the
     newspaper from his companion's hand, he read the following: "A
     correspondent writes to us from Túla: 'There was a festival
     here yesterday at the club, on the occasion of a sturgeon being
     caught in the river Upá (an occurrence which not even old
     residents can recall, the more so as private Warden B. was
     recognized in the sturgeon). The author of the festival was
     brought in on a huge wooden platter, surrounded with cucumbers,
     and holding a bit of green in his mouth. Doctor P., who was on
     duty that day as presiding officer, saw to it carefully that
     each of the guests received a piece. The sauce was extremely
     varied, and even capricious.' ..."

     "Permit me, your Excellency, you also seem to be not
     sufficiently cautious in your choice of reading matter!"
     interrupted the first General, and taking the paper in his
     turn, he read: "A correspondent writes to us from Vyátka: 'One
     of the old residents here has invented the following original
     method of preparing fish soup: Take a live turbot, and whip
     him as a preliminary; when his liver has become swollen with
     rage.' ..."

     The Generals dropped their heads. Everything on which they
     turned their eyes--everything bore witness to food. Their own
     thoughts conspired against them, for try as they would to
     banish the vision of beefsteak, this vision forced itself upon

     And all at once an idea struck the General who had been a
     teacher of calligraphy....

     "How would it do, your Excellency," he said joyfully, "if we
     were to find a peasant?"

     "That is to say ... a muzhík?"

     "Yes, exactly, a common muzhík ... such as muzhíks generally
     are. He would immediately give us rolls, and he would catch
     hazel-hens and fish!"

     "Hm ... a peasant ... but where shall we find him, when he is
     not here?"

     "What do you mean by saying that he is not to be found? There
     are peasants everywhere, and all we have to do is to look him
     up! He is certainly hiding somewhere about because he is too
     lazy to work!" This idea cheered the Generals to such a degree
     that they sprang to their feet like men who had received a
     shock, and set out to find a peasant.

     They roamed for a long time about the island without any
     success whatever, but at last the penetrating smell of
     bread-crust and sour sheepskin put them on the track. Under a
     tree, flat on his back, with his fists under his head, lay a
     huge peasant fast asleep, and shirking work in the most
     impudent manner. There were no bounds to the wrath of the

     "Asleep, lazybones!" and they flung themselves upon him; "and
     you don't move so much as an ear, when here are two Generals
     who have been dying of hunger these two days! March off, this
     moment, to work!"

     The man rose; he saw that the Generals were stern. He would
     have liked to give them the slip, but they had become fairly
     rigid when they grasped him.

     And he began to work under their supervision.

     First of all he climbed a tree and picked half a score of the
     ripest apples for the Generals, and took one, a sour one, for
     himself. Then he dug in the earth and got some potatoes; then
     he took two pieces of wood, rubbed them together, and produced
     fire. Then he made a snare from his own hair and caught a
     hazel-hen. Last of all, he arranged the fire, and cooked such a
     quantity of different provisions that the idea even occurred to
     the Generals, "would it not be well to give the lazy fellow a
     little morsel?"

     The Generals watched the peasant's efforts, and their hearts
     played merrily. They had already forgotten that they had nearly
     died of hunger on the preceding day, and they thought, "What a
     good thing it is to be a general--then you never go to
     destruction anywhere."

     "Are you satisfied, Generals?" asked the big, lazy peasant.

     "We are satisfied, my dear friend, we perceive your zeal,"
     replied the Generals.

     "Will you not permit me to rest now?"

     "Rest, my good friend, only first make us a rope."

     The peasant immediately collected wild hemp, soaked it in
     water, beat it, worked it--and by evening the rope was done.
     With this rope the Generals bound the peasant to a tree so that
     he should not run away, and then they lay down to sleep.

     One day passed, then another; the big, coarse peasant became so
     skilful that he even began to cook soup in the hollow of his
     hand. Our Generals became jovial, light-hearted, fat, and
     white. They began to say to each other that, here they were
     living with everything ready to hand while their pensions were
     accumulating and accumulating in Petersburg.

     "What do you think, your Excellency, was there really a tower
     of Babel, or is that merely a fable?" one General would say to
     the other, as they ate their breakfast.

     "I think, your Excellency, that it really was built; because,
     otherwise, how can we explain the fact that many different
     languages exist in the world?"

     "Then the flood must have occurred also?"

     "The flood did happen, otherwise, how could the existence of
     antediluvian animals be explained? The more so as it is
     announced in the 'Moscow News'...."

     "Shall we not read the 'Moscow News'?"

     Then they would hunt up that copy, seat themselves in the
     shade, and read it through from end to end; what people had
     been eating in Moscow, eating in Túla, eating in Pénza, eating
     in Ryazán--and it had no effect on them; it did not turn their

     In the long run, the Generals got bored. They began to refer
     more and more frequently to the cooks whom they had left behind
     them in Petersburg, and they even wept, on the sly.

     "What is going on now in Pettifoggers Street, your Excellency?"
     one General asked the other.

     "Don't allude to it, your Excellency! My whole heart is sore!"
     replied the other General.

     "It is pleasant here, very pleasant--there are no words to
     describe it; but still, it is awkward for us to be all alone,
     isn't it? And I regret my uniform also."

     "Of course you do! Especially as it is of the fourth class,[40]
     so that it makes you dizzy to gaze at the embroidery alone!"

     Then they began to urge the peasant: Take them, take them to
     Pettifoggers Street! And behold! The peasant, it appeared, even
     knew all about Pettifoggers Street; had been there; his mouth
     had watered at it, but he had not had a taste of it!

     "And we are Generals from Pettifoggers Street, you know!" cried
     the Generals joyfully.

     "And I, also, if you had only observed; a man hangs outside a
     house, in a box, from a rope, and washes the wall with color,
     or walks on the roof like a fly. I am that man," replied the

     And the peasant began to cut capers, as though to amuse his
     Generals, because they had been kind to him, an idle sluggard,
     and had not scorned his peasant toil. And he built a ship--not
     a ship exactly, but a boat--so that they could sail across the
     ocean-sea, up to Pettifoggers Street.

     "But look to it, you rascal, that you don't drown us!" said the
     Generals, when they saw the craft pitching on the waves.

     "Be easy, Generals, this is not my first experience," replied
     the peasant, and began to make preparations for departure.

     The peasant collected soft swansdown, and lined the bottom of
     the boat with it; having done this, he placed the Generals on
     the bottom, made the sign of the cross over them, and set sail.
     The pen cannot describe, neither can the tongue relate, what
     terror the Generals suffered during their journey, from storms
     and divers winds. But the peasant kept on rowing and rowing,
     and fed the Generals on herrings.

     At last, behold Mother Nevá, and the splendid Katherine Canal,
     and great Pettifoggers Street! The cook-maids clasped their
     hands in amazement at the sight of their Generals, so fat,
     white, and merry! The Generals drank their coffee, ate rolls
     made with milk, eggs, and butter, and put on their uniforms.
     Then they went to the treasury, and the pen cannot describe,
     neither can the tongue relate, how much money they received

     But they did not forget the peasant; they sent him a wineglass
     of vódka and a silver five-kopék piece.[41] "Make merry, big,
     coarse peasant!"

While Turgéneff represented the "western" and liberal element (with a
tinge of the "red") in the school of the '40's, and Gontcharóff stood
for the bourgeois and opportunist ideals of the St. Petersburg
bureaucrats, Count Lyéff Nikoláevitch Tolstóy penetrated more profoundly
into the depths of the spirit of the times than any other writer of the
period in the matter of analysis and skepticism which characterized that
school, and carried them to the extremes of pitiless logic and
radicalness, approaching more closely than any other to democratic and
national ideals. But notwithstanding all his genius, Count Tolstóy was
not able to free himself to any great extent from his epoch, his
environment, his contemporaries. His special talents merely caused him
to find it impossible to reconcile himself to the state of affairs
existing around him; and so, instead of progressing, he turned back and
sought peace of mind and a firm doctrine in the distant past of
primitive Christianity. Sincere as he undoubtedly is in his propaganda
of self-simplification and self-perfection--one might almost call it
"self-annihilation"--his new attitude has wrought great and most
regrettable havoc with his later literary work, with some few

And yet, in pursuing this course, he did not strike out an entirely new
path for himself; his youth was passed in an epoch when the ideal of
personal perfection and self-surrender stood in the foreground, and
constituted the very essence of Russian progress.

Count L. N. Tolstóy was born on August 28, O. S., 1828 (September 9th,
N. S.), in the village of Yásnaya Polyána, in the government of Túla.
His mother, born Princess Volkónsky (Márya Nikoláevna), died before he
was two years old, and his father's sister, Countess A. T. Osten-Saken,
and a distant relative, Madame T. A. Ergólsky, took charge of him. When
he was nine years old the family removed to Moscow, and his father died
soon afterwards. Lyéff Nikoláevitch, his brother Dmítry, and his sister
Márya then returned to the country estate, while his elder brother
Nikolái remained in Moscow with Countess Osten-Saken and studied at the
University of Moscow. Three years later, the Countess Osten-Saken died,
and another aunt on the father's side, Madame P. I. Yúshkoff, who
resided in Kazán, became their guardian. Lyéff Nikoláevitch went there
to live, and in 1843 he entered the University of Kazán in the
philological course, but remained in it only one year, because the
professor of history (who had quarreled with Tolstóy's relatives) gave
him impossibly bad marks, in addition to which he received bad marks
from the professor of German, although he was better acquainted with
that language than any other member of his course. He was compelled to
change to the law course, where he remained for two years. In 1848 he
took the examination for "candidate" in the University of St.
Petersburg. "I knew literally nothing," he says of himself, "and I
literally began to prepare myself for the examination only one week in
advance." He obtained his degree of candidate, or bachelor of arts, and
returned to Yásnaya Polyána, where he lived until 1851, when he entered
the Forty-fourth Battery of the Twentieth Brigade of Artillery as
"yúnker" or supernumerary officer, with no official rank, but eligible
to receive a commission as ensign, and thence advance in the service.
This battery was stationed on the Térek River, in the Caucasus, and
there Tolstóy remained with it until the Crimean War broke out. Thus
during the first twenty-six years of his life he spent less than five
years in towns, the rest in the country; and this no doubt laid the
foundation for his deep love for country life, which has had so profound
an effect upon his writings and his views of existence in general.

The dawning of his talent came during the four years he spent in the
Caucasus, and he wrote "Childhood," "The Incursion," "Boyhood," "The
Morning of a Landed Proprietor," and "The Cossacks." During the Turkish
campaign he was ordered to the staff of Prince M. D. Gortchakóff, on the
Danube, and in 1855 received the command of a mountain battery, and took
part in the fight at Tchérnaya, and the siege of Sevastópol. The
literary fruits of this experience were "Sevastópol," in December, May,
and August, three sketches.

It is convenient to finish his statistical history at this point with
the statement that in 1862 he married, having firmly resolved, two years
previously, that he never would do so, and clinched the bargain with
himself by selling the big manor-house at Yásnaya Polyána for
transportation and re-erection elsewhere. Between that date and 1888 he
had a family of fifteen[42] children, of whom seven are still alive.

In his very first efforts in literature we detect certain
characteristics which continue to distinguish him throughout his career,
and some of which, on attaining their legitimate and logical development
seem, to the ordinary reader, to be of extremely recent origin. In
"Childhood" and "Boyhood" ("Youth," the third section, was written late
in the '50's) we meet the same keen analysis which is a leading feature
in his later works, and in them is applied with such effect to women and
to the tender passion, neither of which elements enters into his early
works in any appreciable degree. He displays the most astounding genius
in detecting and understanding the most secret and trivial movements of
the human soul. In this respect his methods are those of a miniature
painter. Another point must be borne in mind in studying Tolstóy's
characters, that, unlike Turgéneff, who is almost exclusively objective,
Tolstóy is in the highest degree subjective, and has presented a study
of his own life and soul in almost every one of his works, in varying
degrees, and combined with widely varying elements. In the same way he
has made use of the spiritual and mental state of his relatives. For
example, who can fail to recognize a self-portrait from the life in
Levín ("Anna Karénin"), and in Prince Andréi Bolkónsky ("War and
Peace")? And the feminine characters in these great novels are either
simple or composite portraits of his nearest relations, while many of
the incidents in both novels are taken straight from their experience or
his own, or the two combined.

It is useless to catalogue his many works with their dates in this
place. Unquestionably the finest of them (despite the author's present
erroneous view, that they constitute a sin and a reproach to him) are
his magnificent "War and Peace" and "Anna Karénin." Curiously enough,
neither met with prompt or enthusiastic welcome in Russia when they
first made their appearance.[43] The public had grown used to the very
different methods of the other celebrated romance-writers of the '40's,
with whom we have already dealt. Gontcharóff had accustomed them to the
delineation of character by broad, sweeping strokes; Dostoévsky to
lancet-like thrusts, penetrating the very soul; Turgéneff to tender
touches, which produced soft, melting outlines. It was long before they
could reconcile themselves to Tolstóy's original mode of painting a vast
series of miniature portraits on an immense canvas. But the effect of
this procedure was at last recognized to be the very acme of throbbing,
breathing life itself. Moreover, it became apparent that Tolstóy's
theory of life was, that great generals, statesmen, and as a whole, all
active persons who seem or try to control events, do nothing of the
kind. Somewhere above, in the unknown, there is a power which guides
affairs at its own will, and (here is the special point) deliberately
thwarts all the efforts of the active people. According to his
philosophy, the self-contained, thoroughly egotistical natures, who are
wedded solely to the cult of success, generally pass through this
earthly life without any notable disasters; they attend strictly to
their own selfish ends, and do not attempt to sway the destinies of
others from motives of humanity, patriotism, or anything else in the
lofty, self-sacrificing line. On the contrary, the fate of the people
who are endowed with tender instincts, who have not allowed self-love to
smother their humanity, who are guilty only of striving to attain some
lofty, unselfish object in life, are thwarted and repressed, balked and
confounded at every turn. This is particularly interesting in view of
his latter-day exhortations to men, on the duty of toiling for others,
sacrificing everything for others. Nevertheless, it must stand as a
monument to the fidelity of his powers of analysis of life in general,
and of the individual characters in whose lot he demonstrates his

This contrast between the two conflicting principles, a haughty
individualism and peaceable submission to a higher power, of which the
concrete representative is the mass of the population, is set forth with
especial clearness in "War and Peace," where the two principal heroes,
Prince Andréi Bolkónsky and Pierre Bezúkoff, represent individualism.

In "Anna Karénin," in the person of his favorite hero, Konstantín Levín,
Tolstóy first enunciates the doctrine of moral regeneration acquired by
means of physical labor, and his later philosophical doctrines are the
direct development of the views there set forth. He had represented a
hero of much earlier days, Prince Nekhliúdoff, in "The Morning of a
Landed Proprietor," as convinced that he should make himself of use to
his peasants; and he had set forth the result of those efforts in terms
which tally wonderfully well with his direct personal comments in "My
Confession," of a date long posterior to "Anna Karénin." "Have my
peasants become any the richer?" he writes; "have they been educated or
developed morally? Not in the slightest degree. They are no better off,
and my heart grows more heavy with every passing day. If I could but
perceive any success in my undertaking; if I could descry any
gratitude--but no; I see false routine, vice, distrust, helplessness! I
am wasting the best years of my life in vain."

But Nekhliúdoff--Tolstóy was not alone in devoting himself to his
peasants; before he withdrew to the country he had led a gay life in St.
Petersburg, after resigning from the army, and in writing his fine
peasant story, "Polikúshka," setting up peasant-schools on his estate,
and the like, he was merely paying his tribute to the spirit of the time
(which reached him even in his seclusion), and imitating the innumerable
village schools and Sunday schools in the capitals (for secular
instruction of the laboring classes who were too busy for education
during the week) in which the aristocratic and educated classes in
general took a lively interest.[44] But the leisure afforded by country
life enabled him to compose his masterpieces. "War and Peace," which was
begun in 1864, was published serially in "The Russian Messenger,"
beginning in 1865, and in book form in 1869, and "Anna Karénin," which
was published serially in the same journal, in 1875-1876. His style is
not to be compared to that of Turgéneff, with its exquisite harmony,
art, and sense of proportion. Tolstóy writes carelessly, frequently
repeats himself, not infrequently expresses himself ambiguously or
obscurely. But the supreme effect is produced, nevertheless.

At last came the diametrical change of views, apparently, which led to
this supreme artist's discarding his art, and devoting himself to
religious and philosophical writings for which neither nature nor his
training had fitted him. He himself dates this change from the middle of
the '70's, and it must be noted that precisely at this period that
strong movement called "going to the people," i. e., devoting one's self
to the welfare of the peasants, became epidemic in Russian society.
Again, as fifteen or twenty years previously, Count Tolstóy was merely
swept onward by the popular current. But his first pamphlet on his new
propaganda is ten years later than the date he assigns to the change.
Thereafter for many years he devoted his chief efforts to this new class
of work, "Life," "What Is to Be Done?" "My Confession," and so forth,
being the more bulky outcome. Some of the stories, written for the
people during this interval, are delightful, both in tone and artistic
qualities. Others are surcharged with "morals," which in many cases
either directly conflict with the moral of other stories in the same
volume, or even with the secondary moral of the same story. Even his
last work--"in my former style," as he described it--"Resurrection," has
special doctrines and aims too emphatically insisted upon to permit of
the reader deriving from it the pure literary pleasure afforded by his
masterpieces. In short, with all due respect to the entire sincerity of
this magnificent writer, it must be said that those who would enjoy and
appreciate him rightly, should ignore his philosophico-religious
treatises, which are contradictory and confusing to the last degree. As
an illustration, let me cite the case of the famine in Russia of
1891-92. Great sums of money[45] were sent to Count Tolstóy, chiefly
from America, and were expended by him in the most practicable and
irreproachable manner--so any one would have supposed--for the relief of
the starving peasants. Count Tolstóy and his assistants lived the life
of the peasants, and underwent severe hardships; the Count even fell
ill, and his wife was obliged to go to him and nurse him. It would seem
that his conscience had no cause for reproach, and that the situation
was an ideal one for him. But before that famine was well over, or the
funds expended, he wrote a letter to a London newspaper, in which he
declared that helping people by means of money was all wrong--positively
a sin. He felt that collecting and distributing money was not the best
thing of which he was capable, and called it "making a pipe of one's
self," personal service with brains, heart, and muscles being the only
right service for God or man. This service he certainly rendered, and
without the money he could not have rendered it.

Nothing could more perfectly illustrate this point of view than the
following little story, written in 1881, called "The Two Brothers and
the Gold."

     In ancient times there lived not far from Jerusalem two
     brothers, the elder Afanásy, the younger Ioánn. They dwelt on a
     hill not far from the town, and subsisted on what people gave
     them. Every day the brothers spent in work. They did not toil
     at their own work, but at the work of the poor. Wherever there
     were men overwhelmed with work, wherever there were sick
     people, orphans and widows, thither went the brothers, and
     there they toiled and nursed the people, accepting no
     remuneration. In this wise did the brothers pass the whole week
     apart, and met only on Saturday evening in their abode. Only on
     Sunday did they remain at home, praying and chatting together.
     And the angel of the Lord descended to them and blessed them.
     On Monday they parted and each went his way. Thus the two
     brothers lived for many years, and every week the angel of the
     Lord came down and blessed them.

     One Monday as the brothers were starting out to work, and had
     already separated, going in different directions, Afanásy felt
     sorry to part with his beloved brother, and halted and glanced
     back. Ioánn was walking, with head bowed, in his own direction,
     and did not look back. But all of a sudden, Ioánn also halted,
     and as though catching sight of something, began to gaze
     intently in that direction, shading his eyes with his hand.
     Then he approached what he had espied there, suddenly leaped to
     one side, and without looking behind him fled down the hill and
     up the hill, away from the spot, as though a fierce wild beast
     were pursuing him. Afanásy was amazed and went back to the
     place in order to find out what had so frightened his brother.
     As he came near he beheld something gleaming in the sunlight.
     He approached closer. On the grass, as though poured out of a
     measure, lay a heap of gold.... And Afanásy was the more
     amazed, both at the gold, and at his brother's leap.

     "What was he frightened at, and what did he flee from?" said
     Afanásy to himself. "There is no sin in gold, the sin is in
     man. One can do evil with gold, but one can also do good with
     it. How many orphans and widows can be fed, how many naked men
     clothed, how many poor and sick healed with this gold. We now
     serve people, but our service is small, according to the
     smallness of our strength, but with this gold we can serve
     people more." Afanásy reasoned thus with himself, and wished to
     tell it all to his brother, but Ioánn had gone off out of
     earshot, and was now visible on the opposite mountain, no
     bigger than a beetle.

     And Afanásy took of his garment, raked into it as much gold as
     he was able to carry, flung it on his shoulders and carried it
     to the city. He came to the inn, gave the gold over to the
     innkeeper, and went back after the remainder. And when he had
     brought all the gold he went to the merchants, bought land in
     the town, bought stone and timber, hired workmen, and began to
     build three houses. And Afanásy dwelt three months in the town
     and built three houses in the town, one house, an asylum for
     widows and orphans, another house, a hospital for the sick and
     the needy, a third house for pilgrims and paupers. And Afanásy
     sought out three pious old men, and he placed one over the
     asylum, another over the hospital, and the third over the
     hostelry for pilgrims. And Afanásy had three thousand gold
     pieces left. And he gave a thousand to each old man to
     distribute to the poor. And people began to fill all three
     houses, and men began to laud Afanásy for what he had done.
     And Afanásy rejoiced thereat so that he did not wish to leave
     the city. But Afanásy loved his brother, and bidding the people
     farewell, and keeping not a single gold piece for himself, he
     went back to his abode in the same old garment in which he had
     quitted it.

     Afanásy came to his mountain and said to himself, "My brother
     judged wrongly when he sprang away from the gold and fled from
     it. Have not I done better?"

     And no sooner had Afanásy thought this, than suddenly he
     beheld, standing in his path and gazing sternly at him, that
     angel who had been wont to bless them. And Afanásy was
     stupefied with amazement and could utter only, "Why is this,
     Lord?" And the angel opened his mouth and said, "Get thee
     hence! Thou art not worthy to dwell with thy brother. Thy
     brother's one leap is more precious than all the deeds which
     thou hast done with thy gold."

     And Afanásy began to tell of how many paupers and wanderers he
     had fed, how many orphans he had cared for, and the angel said
     to him, "That devil who placed the gold there to seduce thee
     hath also taught thee these words."

     And then did Afanásy's conscience convict him, and he
     understood that he had not done his deeds for the sake of God,
     and he fell to weeping, and began to repent. Then the angel
     stepped aside, and left open to him the way, on which Ioánn was
     already standing awaiting his brother, and from that time forth
     Afanásy yielded no more to the temptation of the devil who had
     poured out the gold, and knew that not by gold, but only by
     labor, can one serve God and men.

     And the brothers began to live as before.[46]

Unfortunately, the best of Tolstóy's peasant stories, such as
"Polikúshka," "Two Old Men" (the latter belonging to the recent
hortatory period), and the like, are too long for reproduction here. But
the moral of the following, "Little Girls Wiser than Old Men," is
irreproachable, and the style is the same as in the more important of
those written expressly for the people.

     Easter fell early that year. People had only just ceased to use
     sledges. The snow still lay in the cottage yards, but rivulets
     were flowing through the village; a big puddle had formed
     between the cottages, from the dung-heaps, and two little
     girls, from different cottages, met by this puddle--one
     younger, the other older. Both little girls had been dressed in
     new frocks by their mothers. The little one's frock was blue,
     the big one's yellow, with a flowered pattern. Both had red
     kerchiefs bound about their heads. The little girls came out to
     the puddle, after the morning service in church, displayed
     their clothes to each other, and began to play. And the fancy
     seized them to paddle in the water. The younger girl was on the
     point of wading into the pool with her shoes on, but the elder
     girl says, "Don't go Malásha, thy mother will scold. Come, I'll
     take off my shoes, and do thou take off thine." The little
     lasses took off their shoes, tucked up their frocks and waded
     into the puddle, to meet each other. Malásha went in up to her
     knees, and says, "It's deep, Akuliushka--I'm afraid" "Never
     mind," says she; "it won't get any deeper. Come straight
     towards me." They began to approach each other, and Akúlka
     says, "Look out, Malásha, don't splash, but walk quietly." No
     sooner had she spoken, than Malásha set her foot down with a
     bang in the water, and a splash fell straight on Akúlka's
     frock. The sarafán was splashed, and some of it fell on her
     nose and in her eyes as well. Akúlka saw the spot on her frock,
     got angry at Malásha, stormed, ran after her, and wanted to
     beat her. Malásha was frightened when she saw the mischief she
     had done, leaped out of the puddle, and ran home. Akúlka's
     mother came along, espied the splashed frock and spattered
     chemise on her daughter. "Where didst thou soil thyself, thou
     hussy?" "Malásha splashed me on purpose." Akálka's mother
     seized Malásha, and struck her on the nape of the neck. Malásha
     shrieked so that the whole street heard her. Malásha's mother
     came out. "What art thou beating my child for?" The neighbor
     began to rail. One word led to another, the women scolded each
     other. The peasant men ran forth, a big crowd assembled in the
     street. Everybody shouted, nobody listened to anybody else.
     They scolded and scolded. One gave another a punch, and a
     regular fight was imminent, when an old woman, Akúlka's
     grandmother, interposed. She advanced into the midst of the
     peasants, and began to argue with them. "What are you about, my
     good men? Is this the season for such things? We ought to be
     joyful, but you have brought about a great sin." They paid no
     heed to the old woman, and almost knocked one another down, and
     the old woman would not have been able to dissuade them had it
     not been for Akúlka and Malásha. While the women were
     wrangling, Akúlka wiped off her frock, and went out again to
     the puddle in the space between the cottages. She picked up a
     small stone and began to dig the earth out at the edge of the
     puddle, so as to let the water out into the street. While she
     was digging away, Malásha came up also, and began to help her
     by drawing the water down the ditch with a chip. The peasant
     men had just come to blows, when the little girls had got the
     water along the ditch to the street, directly at the spot where
     the old woman was parting the men.

     The little girls came running up, one on one side, the other on
     the other side of the rivulet. "Hold on, Malásha, hold on!"
     cried Akúlka. Malásha also tried to say something, but could
     not speak for laughing.

     The little girls ran thus, laughing at the chip, as it floated
     down the stream. And they ran straight into the midst of the
     peasant men. The old woman perceived them, and said to the men,
     "Fear God! Here you have begun to fight over these same little
     girls, and they have forgotten all about it long ago, and are
     playing together again in love--the dear little things. They
     are wiser than you!"

     The men looked at the little girls, and felt ashamed of
     themselves; and then the peasants began to laugh at themselves,
     and went off to their houses.

     "Except ye become as little children, ye shall not enter the
     kingdom of heaven."

It is a pity that Count Tolstóy, the greatest literary genius of his
time, should put his immense talent to such a use as to provoke, on his
contradictions of himself, comment like the following, which is quoted
from a work by V. S. Soloviéff, an essayist and argumentative writer,
who quotes some one on this subject, to this effect:

     "Sometimes we hear that the most important truth is in the
     Sermon on the Mount; then again, we are told that we must till
     the soil in the sweat of our brows, though there is nothing
     about that in the Gospels, but in Genesis--in the same place
     where giving birth in pain is mentioned, but that is no
     commandment at all, only a sad fate; sometimes we are told that
     we ought to give everything away to the poor; and then again,
     that we never ought to give anything to anybody, as money is an
     evil, and one ought not to harm other people, but only one's
     self and one's family, but that we ought to work for others;
     sometimes we are told that the vocation of women is to bear as
     many healthy children as possible, and then, the celibate ideal
     is held up for men and women; then again, eating no meat is the
     first step towards self-perfection, though why no one knows;
     then something is said against liquor and tobacco, then against
     pancakes, then against military service as if it were the worst
     thing on earth, and as if the primary duty of a Christian were
     to refuse to be a soldier, which would prove that he who is not
     taken into service, for any reason, is already holy enough."

This may be a trifle exaggerated, but it indicates clearly enough the
utter confusion which the teachings of Count Tolstóy produce on
ordinary, rational, well-meaning persons.[47] In short, he should be
judged in his proper sphere as one of the most gifted authors of any age
or country, and judged by his legitimate works in his legitimate
province, the novel, as exemplified by "War and Peace" and "Anna

The reform movement of the '60's of the nineteenth century ended in a
reaction which took possession of society as a whole during the '70's.
Apathy, dejection, disenchantment superseded the previous exultation and
enthusiastic impulse to push forward in all directions. Dull discontent
and irritation reigned in all classes of society and in all parties.
Some were discontented with the reforms, regarding them as premature,
and even ruinous; others, on the contrary, deemed them insufficient,
curtailed, only half-satisfactory to the needs of the country, and
merely exasperating to the public demands.

These conditions created a special sort of literary school, which made
its appearance in the middle of the '70's, and attained its complete
development in the middle of the '80's. We have seen that the same sort
of thing had taken place with every previous change in the public
sentiment. The first thing which impresses one in this school is the
resurrection of artistic feeling, a passion for beauty of imagery and
forms, a careful and extremely elegant polish imparted to literary
productions in technique. None of the authoritative and influential
critics preached the cult of pure art. Yet Gárshin, the most promising
of the young authors of the day, who was the very last person to be
suspected of that cult, finished his works with the utmost care, so that
in elegance of form and language they offer an example of faultless
perfection. There can be no doubt that this renaissance of the artistic
element of poetry, of beauty, was closely connected with the subsidence
of the flood-tide of public excitement and agitation, which up to that
time had carried writers along with it into its whirlpools, and granted
them neither the time nor the desire to polish and adorn their works,
and revel in beauty of forms.

Vsévolod Mikháilovitch Gárshin, the son of a petty landed proprietor in
the south of Russia, was born in 1855. Despite his repeated attacks of
profound melancholia, which sometimes passed into actual insanity, and
despite the brevity of his career (he flung himself down stairs in a fit
of this sort and died, in 1889), he made a distinct and brilliant mark
in Russian literature.

Gárshin's view of people in general was thus expressed: "All the people
whom I have known," he says, "are divided (along with other divisions of
which, of course, there are many: the clever men and the fools, the
Hamlets and the Don Quixotes, the lazy and the active, and so forth)
into two categories, or to speak more accurately, they are distributed
between two extremes: some are endowed, so to speak, with a good
self-consciousness, while the others have a bad self-consciousness. One
man lives and enjoys all his sensations; if he eats he rejoices, if he
looks at the sky he rejoices. In short, for such a man, the mere process
of living is happiness. But it is quite the reverse with the other sort
of man; you may plate him with gold, and he will continue to grumble;
nothing satisfies him; success in life affords him no pleasure, even if
it be perfectly self-evident. The man simply is incapable of
experiencing satisfaction; he is incapable, and that is the end of the
matter." And in view of his personal disabilities, it is not remarkable
that all his heroes should have belonged to the latter category, in a
greater or less degree, some of the incidents narrated being drawn
directly from his own experiences. Such are "The Red Flower," his best
story, which presents the hallucinations of a madman, "The Coward,"
"Night," "Attalea Princeps," and "That Which Never Happened." On the
other hand, the following have no personal element: "The Meeting," "The
Orderly and the Officer," "The Diary of Soldier Ivánoff," "The Bears,"
"Nadézhda Nikoláevna," and "Proud Aggei."

Another writer who has won some fame, especially by his charming
sketches of Siberian life, written during his exile in Siberia, is
Grigóry Alexándrovitch Matchtet, born in 1852. These sketches, such as
"The Second Truth," "We Have Conquered," "A Worldly Affair," are both
true to nature and artistic, and produce a deep impression.

Much more talented and famous is Vladímir Galaktiónovitch Korolénko
(1853), also the author of fascinating Siberian sketches, and of a more
ambitious work, "The Blind Musician." One point to be noted about
Korolénko is that he never joined the pessimists, or the party which
professed pseudo-peasant tendencies, and followed Count L. N. Tolstóy's
ideas, but has always preserved his independence. His first work, a
delightful fantasy, entitled "Makár's Dream," appeared in 1885.
Korolénko has been sent to Siberia several times, but now lives in
Russia proper,[48] and publishes a high-class monthly journal.

Until quite recently opinion was divided as to whether Korolénko or
Tchékoff was the more talented, and the coming "great author." As we
shall see presently, that question seems to have been settled, and in
part by Korolénko's friendly aid, in favor of quite another person.

Antón Pávlovitch Tchékoff (pseudonym "Tchekhonte," 1860) is the
descendant of a serf father and grandfather. His volumes of short
stories, "Humorous Tales," "In the Gloaming," "Surly People," are full
of humor and of brilliant wit. His more ambitious efforts, as to length
and artistic qualities, the productions of his matured talent, are "The
Steppe," "Fires," "A Tiresome History," "Notes of an Unknown," "The
Peasant," and so forth.

Still another extremely talented writer, who, unfortunately, has begun
to produce too rapidly for his own interest, is Ignáty Nikoláevitch
Potápenko (1856), the son of an officer in a Uhlan regiment, and of a
Little Russian peasant mother. His father afterwards became a priest--a
very unusual change of vocation and class--and the future writer
acquired intimate knowledge of views and customs in ecclesiastical
circles, which he put to brilliant use later on. A delicate humor is the
characteristic feature of his work, as can be seen in his best writings,
such as "On Active Service"[49] and "The Secretary of His Grace (the

The former is the story of a talented and devoted young priest, who
might have obtained an easy position in the town, among the bishop's
officials, with certain prospect of swift promotion. He resolutely
declines this position, and requests that he may be assigned to a
village parish, where he can be "on active service." Every one regards
the request as a sign of an unsettled mind. After much argument he
prevails on his betrothed bride's parents to permit the marriage (he
cannot be ordained until he is married), and hopes to find a helpmeet
in her. The rest of the story deals with his experiences in the
unenviable position of a village priest, where he has to contend not
only with the displeasure of his young wife, but with the avarice of his
church staff, the defects of the peasants, the excess of attention of
the local gentlewoman, and financial problems of the most trying
description. It ends in his wife abandoning him, and returning with her
child to her father's house, while he insists on remaining at his post,
where, as events have abundantly proved, the ministrations of a truly
disinterested, devout priest are most sadly needed. It is impossible to
convey by description the charm and gentle humor of this book.

But acclaimed on all sides, by all classes of society, as the most
talented writer of the present day, is the young man who writes under
the name of Maxím Górky (Bitter). The majority of the critics
confidently predict that he is the long-expected successor of Count
L. N. Tolstóy. This gifted man, who at one stroke, conquered for himself
all Russia which reads, whose books sell with unprecedented rapidity,
whose name passes from mouth to mouth of millions, wherever intellectual
life glows, and has won an unnumbered host of enthusiastic admirers all
over the world, came up from the depths of the populace.

"Górky" Alexéi Maxímovitch Pyeshkóff was born in Nízhni Nóvgorod in 1868
or 1869. Socially, he belongs to the petty burgher class, but his
grandfather, on the paternal side, was reduced from an officer to the
ranks, by the Emperor Nicholas I., for harsh treatment of the soldiers
under his command. He was such a rough character that his son (the
author's father) ran away from home five times in the course of seven
years, and definitively parted from his uncongenial family at the age
of seventeen, when he went afoot from Tobólsk to Nízhni Nóvgorod, where
he apprenticed himself to a paper-hanger. Later on he became the
office-manager of a steamer company in Ástrakhan. His mother was the
daughter of a man who began his career as a bargee on the Volga, one of
the lowest class of men who, before the advent of steam, hauled the
merchandise-laden barks from Ástrakhan to Nízhni Nóvgorod, against the
current. Afterwards he became a dyer of yarns, and eventually
established a thriving dyeing establishment in Nízhni.

Górky's father died of cholera at Ástrakhan when the lad was four years
old. His mother soon married again, and gave the boy to his grandfather,
who had him taught to read and write, and then sent him to school, where
he remained only five months. At the end of that time he caught
smallpox, and his studies were never renewed. Meanwhile his mother died,
and his grandfather was ruined financially, so Górky, at nine years of
age, became the "boy" in a shoeshop, where he spent two months, scalded
his hands with cabbage soup, and was sent back to his grandfather. His
relations treated him with hostility or indifference, and on his
recovery, apprenticed him to a draftsman, from whose harshness he
promptly fled, and entered the shop of a painter of holy pictures. Next
he became scullion on a river steamer, and the cook was the first to
inculcate in him a love of reading and of good literature. Next he
became gardener's boy; then tried to get an education at Kazán
University, under the mistaken impression that education was free. To
keep from starving he became assistant in a bakery at three rubles a
month; "the hardest work I ever tried," he says; sawed wood, carried
heavy burdens, peddled apples on the wharf, and tried to commit suicide
out of sheer want and misery.[50] "Konováloff" and "Men with Pasts"[51]
would seem to represent some of the experiences of this period,
"Konováloff" being regarded as one of his best stories. Then he went to
Tzarítzyn, where he obtained employment as watchman on a railway, was
called back to Nízhni Nóvgorod for the conscription, but was not
accepted as a soldier, such "holy" men not being wanted. He became a
peddler of beer, then secretary to a lawyer, who exercised great
influence on his education. But he felt out of place, and in 1890 went
back to Tzarítzyn, then to the Don Province (of the Kazáks), to the
Ukraína and Bessarábia, back along the southern shore of the Crimea to
the Kubán, and thence to the Caucasus. The reader of his inimitable
short stories can trace these peregrinations and the adventures incident
to them. In Tiflís he worked in the railway shops, and in 1892 printed
his first literary effort, "Makár Tchúdra," in a local newspaper, the
"Kavkáz." In the following year, in Nízhni Nóvgorod, he made
acquaintance with Korolénko, to whom he is indebted for getting into
"great literature," and for sympathy and advice. When he published
"Tchelkásh," in 1893, his fate was settled. It is regarded as one of the
purest gems of Russian literature. He immediately rose to honor, and all
his writings since that time have appeared in the leading publications.
Moreover, he is the most "fashionable" writer in the country. But he
enjoys something more than mere popularity; he is deeply loved. This is
the result of the young artist's remarkable talent for painting
absolutely living pictures of both persons and things. The
many-sidedness of his genius--for he has more than talent--is shown,
among other things, by the fact that he depicts with equal success
landscapes, _genre_ scenes, portraits of women. His episode of the
singers in "Fomá Gordyéeff" (pp. 217-227) is regarded by Russian critics
as fully worthy of being compared with the scenes for which Turgéneff is
renowned. His landscape pictures are so beautiful that they cause a
throb of pain. But, as is almost inevitable under the circumstances,
most of his stories have an element of coarseness, which sometimes

In general, his subject is "the uneasy man," who is striving after
absolute freedom, after light and a lofty ideal, of which he can
perceive the existence somewhere, though with all his efforts he cannot
grasp it. We may assume that in this they represent Górky himself. But
although all his heroes are seeking the meaning of life, no two of them
are alike. His characters, like his landscapes, grip the heart, and once
known, leave an ineffaceable imprint. Although he propounds problems of
life among various classes, he differs from the majority of people, in
not regarding a full stomach as the panacea for the poor man. On the
contrary (as in "Fomá Gordyéeff," his most ambitious effort), he seems
to regard precisely this as the cause of more ruin than the life of "the
barefoot brigade," the tramps and stepchildren of Dame Fortune, with
whom he principally deals. His motto seems to be "Man shall not live by
bread alone." And because Górky bears this thought ever with him, in
brain and heart, in nerves and his very marrow, his work possesses a
strength which is almost terrifying, combined with a beauty as
terrifying in its way. If he will but develop his immense genius instead
of meddling with social and political questions, and getting into prison
on that score with disheartening regularity, something incalculably
great may be the outcome. It is said that he is now banished in polite
exile to the Crimea. If he can be kept there or elsewhere out of
mischief, the Russian government will again render the literature of its
own country and of the world as great a service as it has already more
than once rendered in the past, by similar means.

In the '70's and '80's Russian society was seized with a mania for
writing poetry, and a countless throng of young poets made their
appearance. No book sold so rapidly as a volume of verses. But very few
of these aspirants to fame possessed any originality or serious worth.
Poetry had advanced not a single step since the days of Nekrásoff and
Shevtchénko, so far as national independence was concerned.

The most talented of the young poets of this period was Semén
Yákovlevitch Nádson (1862-1887). His grandfather, a Jew who had joined
the Russian Church, lived in Kíeff. His father, a gifted man and a fine
musician, died young. His mother, a Russian gentlewoman, died at the age
of thirty-one, of consumption. At the age of sixteen, Nádson fell in
love with a young girl, and began to write poetry. She died of quick
consumption shortly afterwards. This grief affected the young man's
whole career, and many of his poems were inspired by it. He began to
publish his poems while still in school, being already threatened with
pulmonary trouble, on account of which he had been sent to the Caucasus
at the expense of the government, where he spent a year. In 1882 he
graduated from the military school, and was appointed an officer in a
regiment stationed at Kronstádt. There he lived for two years, and some
of his best poems belong to this epoch: "No, Easier 'Tis for Me to Think
that Thou Art Dead," "Herostrat," "Dreams," "The Brilliant Hall Has
Silent Grown," "All Hath Come to Pass," and so forth. He retired from
the military service in 1883, being already in the grasp of consumption.
His poems ran through ten editions during the five years which followed
his death, and still continue to sell with equal rapidity, so remarkable
is their popularity. He was an ideally poetical figure; moreover, he
charms by his flowing, musical verse, by the enthralling elegance and
grace of his poetical imagery, and genuine lyric inspiration. All his
poetry is filled with quiet, meditative sadness. It is by the music of
his verse and the tender tears of his feminine lyrism that Nádson
penetrates the hearts of his readers. His masterpiece is "My Friend, My
Brother," and this reflects the sentiment of all his work.[52] Here is
the first verse:

    My friend, my brother, weary, suffering brother,
    Whoever thou may'st be, let not thy spirit fail;
    Let evil and injustice reign with sway supreme
    O'er all the tear-washed earth.
    Let the sacred ideal be shattered and dishonored;
    Let innocent blood flow in stream--
    Believe me, there cometh a time when Baal shall perish
    And love shall return to earth.

Another very sincere, sympathetic, and genuine, though not great poet,
also of Jewish race, is Semén Grigórievitch Frug (1860-1916), the son
of a member of the Jewish agricultural colony in the government of
Khersón. He, like Nádson, believes that good will triumph in the end,
and is not in the least a pessimist.

Quite the reverse are Nikolái Maxímovitch Vilénkin (who is better known
by his pseudonym of "Mínsky" from his native government), and Dmítry
Sergyéevitch Merezhkóvsky (1865) who, as a poet, is generally bombastic.
His novels are better.

There are many other good, though not great, contemporary writers in
Russia, including several women. But they hardly come within the scope
of this work (which does not aim at being encyclopedic), as neither
their work nor their fame is likely to make its way to foreign readers
who are unacquainted with the Russian language. For those who do read
Russian there are several good handbooks of contemporary literature
which will furnish all necessary information.


     1. How was Russia influenced by the romantic movement in
     western Europe?

     2. Describe the character of the romances of the first period
     of the fifties.

     3. What important historical works appeared at this time?

     4. What popular novels were written by Danilévsky?

     5. What were the chief works of Mélnikoff, and why are they not
     likely to be translated into English?

     6. Describe the career and influence of Lyeskóff.

     7. Why was the fame of Markóvitch's work short-lived?

     8. What difficulties did Uspénsky encounter in his early
     attempts at writing?

     9. Describe the effect produced by his "Hard Labor" and "An
     Eccentric Master."

     10. What views of society did Zlatovrátsky express in his

     11. Why did Ryeshétnikoff's "The Inhabitants of Podlípovo"
     become widely popular?

     12. Give an account of the experiences of Saltykóff.

     13. How did he make use of the material gathered during his

     14. How did his writings contribute some new words to the
     Russian language?

     15. What qualities does he show in "The Story of How One
     Peasant Maintained Two Generals"?

     16. Give the chief events in the life of Tolstóy.

     17. What characteristics of style did he show in his earliest

     18. How is he "subjective" in delineating his characters?

     19. Why was his genius not at first appreciated?

     20. What was his theory of life?

     21. What change came into his life in the seventies?

     22. How did this affect his writings?

     23. How did his experience with famine sufferers affect his

     24. What were Gárshin's views of people in general?

     25. How do his books bear out his theories?

     26. What facts in Korolénko's life have influenced his literary

     27. What characteristics does Tchékoff show in his short

     28. What is the story of Potápenko's "On Active Service"?

     29. Give the leading events of Górky's career.

     30. How is his many-sided genius shown?

     31. What ideals are expressed in his work?

     32. Why has Nádson's poetry such a firm hold on the popular


     Danilévsky: _Miróvitch._ _The Princess Tarakanova._

     Potápenko: _A Russian Priest._ _A Father of Six._ _An
     Occasional Holiday._

     Maxím Górky: _Orlóff and His Wife._ _Fomá Gordyéeff._
     (Translated by I. F. Hapgood.)

     L. N. Tolstóy: All of his works are available in English
     translations. There are several collections of his short

     _The Humor of Russia._ (Selections.) E. L. Voynich.

     D. S. Merezhkóvsky: _The Death of the Gods._ This is the first
     part of a trilogy, and is an historical novel of the time of
     Julian the Apostate. The other parts (announced for
     publication) are: _Resurrection_ (time of Leonardo da Vinci)
     and _The Anti-Christ_ (time of Peter the Great.)


[33] The "Old Ritualists" or _raskólniki_, are those who do not accept
the corrections to the Church books, and so forth, made in seventeenth
century, by the Patriarch Níkon.

[34] Count L. N. Tolstóy presented me with a copy of one of these
legends--a most distressing and improbable affair--with the remark,
"Lyeskóff has spoiled himself by imitating me." He meant that Lyeskóff
was imitating his little moral tales and legends, to which he had been
devoting himself for some time past. I agreed with Tolstóy, as to the

[35] Although she was very ill and weak, she was good enough to ask me
to visit her, a few months before she died, in 1889.

[36] Count L. N. Tolstóy told me that Uspénsky had never been
sufficiently appreciated. He also praised Zlatovrátsky highly.

[37] Former crown serfs repeatedly told me how free they had been--how
much better off than those of private persons.

[38] Naturally, it is this feature of his writings which made Count
Tolstóy laud him so highly to me.

[39] Or, "The Golovléffs," the above being the more formal translation.
Saltykóff was too ill to receive strangers when I was in Russia. But I
attended a requiem service over his body, at his home; another at the
Kazán Cathedral, where all the literary lights assembled; and went to
his funeral in the outlying cemetery, thereby having the good fortune to
behold one of the famous "demonstrations" in which the Russian public
indulges on such occasions.

[40] This refers to the Table of Ranks, established by Peter the Great.
The fourth class of officials from the top of the ladder, have attained
a very respectable amount of embroidery, dignity, and social position.

[41] About two cents and a half.

[42] I have seen the number variously stated at from eleven to thirteen;
but Countess Sophía Andréevna, his wife, told me there had been fifteen,
and I regard her as the final authority on this point, a very
interesting one, in view of some of his latter-day theories and
exhortations. Countess Tolstóy was the daughter of Dr. Behrs, of Moscow.

[43] Turgéneff, who afterwards called Tolstóy "The Great Writer of the
Russian Land," pronounced emphatically against him at this time; and so
did many others, who became his enthusiastic admirers.

[44] At this period, also, the peasant costume became the fashion in the
higher circles. Count Tolstóy is generally (out of Russia) assumed to be
the first and only wearer of such garments.

[45] This is a particularly interesting example to the people of America
and to me. I sent to Count Tolstóy over seven thousand dollars which
people throughout the length and breadth of the land had forwarded to me
for that purpose, and I turned thousands more in his direction. His
conscience is as uneasy and as fitful and illogical in pretty nearly all
other matters, which is a pity, because it is both lively and sincere,
though mistaken.

[46] It was to this sort of story that Count Tolstóy referred, when he
told me that Lyeskóff had spoiled his talent of recent years by
imitating him, Tolstóy.

[47] I have stated my own theory as to Count Tolstóy's incessant changes
of view, and his puzzling inconsistencies, in my "Russian Rambles." It
is not necessary or fitting that I should repeat it here.

[48] I tried to see him in Nízhni Nóvgorod, but although he was still
under police surveillance, the police could not tell me where to find
him, and I obtained the information from a photographer friend of his.
Unfortunately, he was then in the Crimea, gathering "material."

[49] Translated into English under the title "A Russian Priest." Another
volume contains two charming stories from the same circle, "A Father of
Six" and "An Occasional Holiday."

[50] He must have been at Kazán about the time I was there; and I have
often wondered if I saw him on the wharf, where I passed weary hours
waiting for the steamer.

[51] See "Orlóff and His Wife," in my translation, 1891.

[52] I do not attempt a metrical translation. Lines 1-3, 2-4, 5-7, 6-8,
rhyme in pairs.


     Adásheff, 54, 56.

     Aksákoff, 141, 164.

     Alexander I., 91, 101, 102, 105.

     Archángel, 72.

     Ástrakhan, 70, 227, 269.

     Baratýnsky, 123.

     Bárynya Sudárynya, 34.

     Bátiushkoff, 106, 108.

     Bogdanóvitch, 96, 97.

     Book of Degrees, 61.

     Book of Hours, 53, 59.

     Briulóff, 206.

     Búnin, 107.

     Byelínsky, 139, 141, 143, 161, 165, 204, 213, 215.

     Caucasus, 251, 252, 270, 272.

     Danilévsky, 230.

     Dáshkoff, 82.

     Decembrists, 201, 215.

     Délvig, 123.

     Derzhávin, 82, 90, 96, 100, 114.

     Dmítrieff, 92, 98, 105, 142.

     Dmítry, St. of Rostóff, 63, 64.

     Dmítry Donskóy (dmee-tree), 48.

     Dniépr (Neepr), 2, 41, 147, 159.

     Dolgorúky, 57.

     Domostróy, 51.

     Dostoévsky, 140, 161, 209, 212, 225, 254.

     Drevlyáns, 41.

     Dúroff, 214, 215.

     Elizabeth, 68, 75, 76, 114, 230.

     Féodor (fáy-o-dor), 47, 59.

     Feódorovna, 108, 110, 206.

     Feodósiy, 40.

     Frug, 274.

     Galítzyn, 69.

     Gárshin, 265.

     Glazátly, 56.

     Gógol, 140, 141, 146-159, 161, 165, 167, 181, 189, 213, 215.

     Gontcharóff, 140, 161-63, 220, 223, 250.

     Górky, 268-272.

     Gregory, 63.

     Griboyédoff, 124, 128, 181.

     Grigoróvitch, 140, 161, 163-64, 213.

     House Regulator, 51.

     Ígor (egor), 41.

     Ígor's Raid, 44.

     Ilarión, 39.

     Ioánnovña, Anna, 69, 72, 75, 114.

     Irkútsk, 199.

     Iván (e-vahñ) the Terrible, 51.

     Kamarýnskaya, 34.

     Kantemír, 68, 69, 84.

     Kápnist, 96.

     Karamzín (ka-ram-zeen), 92, 98, 102, 106, 109, 111, 115, 124, 229.

     Katherine II., 70, 77, 80, 82, 84, 85, 90, 91, 96, 100, 102, 114.

     Kazán, 33, 52, 56, 97, 141, 251, 269.

     Khémnitzer, 96-100.

     Kheraskóff, 96, 97, 164.

     Khersón, 158, 274.

     Khomyakóff, 164.

     Khvóshtchinsky, 234.

     Kíeff (keef), 1, 2, 7, 29, 36, 39, 41, 47, 56, 61, 63, 67, 204, 207.

     Koltzóff, 142-145, 194, 204.

     Korolénko, 266.

     Kostomároff, 230.

     Kotoshíkin, 57.

     Kozmá, Epistle to, 54.

     Krizhánitz, 58.

     Kronstádt, 273.

     Krylóff (kree-lof), 98, 109, 112, 124, 189.

     Kúrbsky, 53, 55.

     Kúrotchkin, 210.

     Kyríll, 3.

     Kyríll of Nóvgorod, 40.

     Lérmontoff, 116, 128, 138, 140, 150, 192.

     Lomonósoff, 57, 69, 72-5, 97, 113, 128, 139, 140.

     Lyeskóff, 231.

     Máikoff, 140, 193.

     Makáry, 48.

     Markóvitch, 233.

     Márlinsky, 146.

     Matchtet, 266.

     Maxím, the Greek, 50.

     Mélnikoff, 230.

     Merezhkóvsky, 274.

     Methódy, 3.

     Mikháilovitch, 57, 59, 61, 62.

     Mináeff, 210.

     Mínsky, 274.

     Moghíla (mo-ghe-la), 56, 61, 63.

     Moscow, 47, 48, 53, 55, 57, 61, 62, 63, 67, 69, 72, 76, 84, 102,
     139, 143, 164, 167, 182, 186, 193, 210, 212, 215, 251.

     Most Holy Governing Synod, 59, 68.

     Mystery Plays, 63.

     Nádson, 272-73.

     Nekrásoff, 140, 161, 195-204, 209, 202.

     Nertchínsk, 200, 201.

     Nestor, 8, 40, 41.

     Nicholas I., 108, 206.

     Nikifór, 40.

     Nikítin, 209.

     Níkon, 58, 61.

     Nízhni Nóvgorod, 269.

     Nóvgorod, 2, 6, 7, 29, 62, 67.

     Októikh, 52.

     Olga, 41.

     Olónetz, 31, 36, 91.

     Orél (aryól), 164.

     Orenburg, 207, 209.

     Osten-Saken, 251.

     Ostromír, 6.

     Ostróvsky, 12, 161, 182-191.

     Ostrózhsky, 53.

     Ózeroff, 105.

     Panáeff, 140, 196.

     Patriarch, 58, 59, 62.

     Paul I., 91, 101.

     Peter the Great, 57, 58, 59, 66, 67, 70, 75, 113.

     Petrashévsky, 209, 214, 215, 239.

     Písemsky, 191.

     Pleshtchéeff, 209, 210, 215.

     Polónsky, 194.

     Polótzky, 57, 59, 61, 63.

     Poltáva, 147.

     Posóshkoff, 67.

     Potápenko, 267.

     Preobrazhénsky, 91.

     Prokópovitch, 68, 69, 75, 85.

     Púshkin, 44, 92, 106, 109, 113-124, 126, 128, 139, 142, 143, 146,
     165, 188, 189, 214, 229, 238.

     Rázin Sténka, 33.

     Róstislaff, 3.

     Rúrik, 2, 61.

     Russian News, 66.

     Rýbnikoff, 31.

     Ryeshétnikoff, 237.

     Sadkó, 31.

     St. Petersburg, 67, 73, 76, 80, 84, 126, 129, 140, 143, 164, 167,
     186, 195, 205, 207, 210, 212, 255.

     Saltykóff, 238.

     Schelling, 138-39.

     Shénshin, 193.

     Shevtchénko, 204-9, 233.

     Simbírsk, 161.

     Slavyanophils, 139.

     Smotrítzky, 57.

     Soloviéff, 230, 263.

     Sorótchinsky, 147.

     Sóshenko, 205.

     Spyéshneff, 215.

     Stépennaya Kníga, 61.

     Stogláva, 50.

     Sumarókoff, 75-8, 97, 181.

     Sylvester, 51, 54.

     Tambóff, 91.

     Tarakánoff, Princess, 230.

     Tashkéntzians, 241.

     Tatár, 10, 33, 36, 47, 48.

     Tatíshtcheff, 68, 70.

     Taúris, 158.

     Tchasoslóff, 53.

     Tchékoff, 266.

     Tchernígoff, 67.

     Tchernyshévsky, 226.

     Tchetyá Mináya, 49.

     Theatres, 63.

     Tiflís, 126.

     Tiútcheff, 194.

     Tobólsk, 215.

     Tolstóy, A. K., 191-3.

     Tolstóy, L. N., 140, 141, 150, 161, 188, 218, 233, 250-65.

     Trediakóvsky, 68, 71.

     Tzárskoe Seló, 92, 114, 238.

     Turgéneff, 140, 161, 164-80, 190, 220, 223, 250, 254.

     Tver, 217.

     Ufá, 141.

     Ukraína, 156, 208, 270.

     Uspénsky, 234, 236.

     Vasílievitch, 51.

     Vasíly, 47, 51.

     Vilna, 205.

     Vladímir, 1, 7, 29, 30, 39, 97.

     Vladímir, Monomáchus, 43.

     Voevóda, 56, 57.

     Volhýnia, 53.

     Vólkhoff, 76.

     Von Vízin, 82, 90, 150, 181.

     Vorónezh, 142, 143.

     Vyátka, 239.

     Yároslaff, 39.

     Yaroslávl, 76.

     Yavórsky, 68.

     Yázykoff, 123, 124.

     Yásnaya Polyána, 250-52.

     Zagóskin, 146, 229.

     Zaporózhian, 147.

     Zhemtchúzhnikoff, 210.

     Zhidyáta, Luká, 39.

     Zhukóvsky, 106, 108, 115, 124, 143, 150, 192, 206, 208.

     Zizánie-Tustanóvsky, 57.

     Zlatovrátsky, 234, 236.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's List of Corrections:

    Page 45, "Pólovtzi" changed to "Pólovtzy." (... while the
    Pólovtzy are called "accursed," in contrast with the orthodox

    Page 53, "Ostrózhky" changed to "Ostrózhsky." (... the famous
    Ostrózhsky Bible ...)

    Page 65, "Góre-Zlostchástye" changed to "Góre-Zloshtchástye."
    (... "The Tale of Góre-Zloshtchástye; How Góre-Zloshtchástye
    Brought the Young Man to the Monastic State," ...)

    Page 77, "Hóreff" changed to "Khóreff." (... in addition to
    "Khóreff" and "Hamlet," "Dmítry the Pretender," and

    Page 95, "fiy" changed to "fly." (Naught! But I live, and on
    hope's pinions fly)

    Page 107, "seige" changed to "siege." (The peasants took him at
    his word, and brought two young Turkish girls, who had been
    captured at the siege of Bender.)

    Page 137, "Lifeguardsmen" changed to "Lifeguardsman." (Then the
    redoubtable Lifeguardsman Kiribyéevitch steps forth.)

    Page 140, "constitute" changed to "constitutes." (His volume of
    articles on Púshkin constitutes a complete critical history of
    Russian literature ...)

    Page 164, "Sergyévitch" changed to "Sergyéevitch." (Among the
    writers who followed Grigoróvitch in his studies of peasant
    life, was Iván Sergyéevitch Turgéneff ...)

    Page 177, "benind" changed to "behind." (... he held the thief
    beneath him, and was engaged in tying the man's hands behind his
    back with his girdle.)

    Page 221, "psycopathologist" changed to "psychopathologist."
    (This doctor demonstrates that Dostoévsky was a great
    psychopathologist ...)

    Page 230, "Serébryani" changed to "Serébryany." (... "War and
    Peace" and "Prince Serébryany," stand quite apart, and far above
    all others.)

    Page 233, "Alexándrevna" changed to "Alexándrovna." (Among these
    was a well-known woman writer, Márya Alexándrovna Markóvitch

    Page 234, "Nilkolái" changed to "Nikolái." (... two men headed
    the movement, Glyeb Ivánovitch Uspénsky and Nikolái Nikoláevitch

    Page 246, "Viátka" changed to "Vyátka." (A correspondent writes
    to us from Vyátka ...)

    Page 274, "1866" changed to "1916." (... Semén Grigórievitch
    Frug (1860-1916) ...)

    Page 274, "Sergiéevitch" changed to "Sergyéevitch." (... Dmítry
    Sergyéevitch Merezhkóvsky ...)

    Page 278, "Pleshtchéef" changed to "Pleshtchéeff."

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Survey of Russian Literature, with Selections" ***

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