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Title: Russian Life To-day
Author: Bury, Right Rev. Herbert
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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RUSSIAN LIFE TO-DAY

[Illustration: _His Imperial Majesty the Tsar._]



                          RUSSIAN LIFE
                            TO-DAY

                            BY THE

                  RIGHT REV. HERBERT BURY, D.D.

             _Bishop for Northern and Central Europe
                Author of "A Bishop among Bananas"_


                    A. R. MOWBRAY & CO. LTD.

          LONDON: 28 Margaret Street, Oxford Circus, W.
                     OXFORD: 9 High Street
            MILWAUKEE, U.S.A.: The Young Churchman Co.



_TO MY FELLOW COUNTRYMEN
AT WORK IN SIBERIA_


First impression, March, 1915

New impressions, April, July, December, 1915



INTRODUCTION


My first inclination, when the entirely unexpected proposal of the
Publishers came to me to write this book, was immediately to decline.
There are so many well-known writers on Russia, whose books are an
unfailing pleasure and source of information, that it seemed to me to be
nothing less than presumption to add to their number. But when I was
assured that there seems to be a great desire just now for a book which,
as the Publishers expressed it, "should not attempt an elaborate sketch
of the country, nor any detailed description of its system of government
and administration, or any exhaustive study of the Russian Church, and
yet should give the _impressions_ of a sympathetic observer of some of
the chief aspects of Russian Life which are likely to appeal to an
English Churchman," I felt that I might venture to attempt it.

It has been given to me to get to understand thoroughly from close and
intimate knowledge the commercial development of Siberia by our
countrymen; and yet everywhere, both there and in Russia proper, I have
to go to every place specially and primarily to give the ministrations
of religion. It can be permitted to few, if any, to see those two sides
of the life of a great and growing Empire at the same time. This has
been my reason, therefore, for undertaking this small effort, and my
object is to give, as the Publishers expressed it, "personal
impressions." I hope my readers will accept this book, therefore, as an
impressionist description of Russian life of to-day, of which it would
have been quite impossible to keep personal experiences from forming an
important part. And though I write as an English Churchman, yet I wish
to speak, and I trust in no narrow spirit, to the whole religious
public, that I may draw them more closely into intelligent sympathy with
this great nation which has seemed to come so suddenly, unexpectedly,
and intimately into our own national life and destiny--and I believe as
a friend.

HERBERT BURY,
_Bishop_.



CONTENTS


CHAP.                                                PAGE

   I. RUSSIA'S GREAT SPACES                            1

  II. GENERAL SOCIAL LIFE                             21

 III. THE PEASANTRY                                   46

  IV. THE CLERGY                                      71

   V. RELIGIOUS LIFE AND WORSHIP                      95

  VI. HIS IMPERIAL MAJESTY THE TSAR                  118

 VII. A PATERNAL GOVERNMENT                          139

VIII. THE STEPPES                                    162

  IX. RUSSIA'S PROBLEM                               186

   X. THE ANGLICAN CHURCH IN RUSSIA                  205

  XI. THE JEWS                                       228

 XII. OUR COUNTRYMEN IN THE EMPIRE                   248

INDEX                                                268



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

HIS IMPERIAL MAJESTY THE TSAR             _Frontispiece_

RUSSIA'S GREAT SPACES--WINTER            _facing page_ 4

RUSSIA'S GREAT SPACES--SUMMER               "      "   8

THE KREMLIN                                 "      "  21

THE GATE OF THE REDEEMER, MOSCOW            "      "  29

A WELL-CLAD COACHMAN                        "      "  33

A VILLAGE SCENE                             "      "  46

THE METROPOLITAN OF MOSCOW                  "      "  71

THE CONVENT AT EKATERINBURG, SIBERIA        "      "  78

THE ABBESS MAGDALENA                        "      "  84

THE RUSSIAN PRIEST AT SPASSKY               "      "  90

S. ISAAC'S CATHEDRAL, PETROGRAD             "      "  95

INTERIOR OF A RUSSIAN CHURCH                "      " 102

THE CATHEDRAL AT RIGA                       "      " 112

HER IMPERIAL MAJESTY THE TSARITSA           "      " 118

HIS IMPERIAL HIGHNESS THE TSAREVITCH ALEXEI "      " 125

HER IMPERIAL HIGHNESS THE GRAND DUCHESS
  ELIZABETH, THE FRIEND OF THE POOR         "      " 139

CHARACTERISTIC GROUP OF RUSSIANS            "      " 144

A GROUP OF RUSSIAN PEASANTS                 "      " 152

CONSECRATION OF BURIAL GROUND IN THE
  SIBERIAN STEPPES                          "      " 162

OUTSIDE A KIRGHIZ UERTA                     "      " 166

TARANTASS WITH ITS TROIKA FOR THE STEPPES   "      " 170

INSIDE A KIRGHIZ UERTA                      "      " 180

RUSSIAN SERVICE AT THE ATBAZAR MINE         "      " 186

A CLASS OF RUSSIAN STUDENTS WITH TEACHER    "      " 195

THE ENGLISH CHURCH OF S. ANDREW, MOSCOW     "      " 205

THE BISHOP AND RUSSIAN CHAUFFEUR            "      " 216

THE BRITISH COMMUNITY AT ATBAZAR, SIBERIA   "      " 224

THE ARCHBISHOP OF WARSAW                    "      " 228

A POLISH JEW                                "      " 236

CAMELS AT WORK--SUMMER                      "      " 256

CAMELS AT WORK--WINTER                      "      " 262

MAP                                             _at end_



RUSSIAN LIFE TO-DAY



CHAPTER I

RUSSIA'S GREAT SPACES


I will begin my opening chapter by explaining how I come to have the joy
and privilege of travelling far and wide, as I have done, in the great
Russian Empire. I go there as Assistant Bishop to the Bishop of London,
holding a commission from him as bishop in charge of Anglican work in
North and Central Europe.

It may seem strange that Anglican work in that distant land should be
directly connected with the Diocese of London, but the connection
between them, and between all the countries of Northern and Central
Europe, as far as our Church of England work is concerned, is of long
standing. It dates from the reign of Charles I, and from an Order in
Council which was passed in 1633, and placed the congregations of the
Church of England in _all_ foreign countries at that time under the
jurisdiction of the Bishop of London "as their Diocesan." It may be
remembered that when the present Bishop of London went to Washington
some years ago he took with him some interesting documents which he had
found in the library at Fulham Palace, and which were connected with the
time when Church work in the United States looked to London for
superintendence and episcopal leadership. These he handed over to the
custody of the Episcopal Church of America, knowing how interested that
Church would be to possess them, and to keep them amongst other
historical records.

The same rapid progress as that which has attended the American Church
has been made in the Colonies and other parts of the world. New dioceses
and provinces have been formed one after another, and in 1842 the
Diocese of Gibraltar was formed, taking in the congregations of the
English Church in Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Roumania, and all places
bordering upon the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. But the other
countries of Europe, to the north and in the centre, remain still, as
far as Church work goes, where that old Order in Council placed them, in
the jurisdiction of the Bishop of London.

It is impossible, of course, that he should attempt to meet this
responsibility himself and bear the burden of such a diocese as that of
London, and so the rule has been, since 1825, to issue a commission to
another bishop, who, while being an assistant, yet has to feel himself
fully responsible, and in this way spare the Bishop of London as much as
he possibly can.

It will therefore be understood, as I have said in my few words of
introduction, that, filling such a position and having such work to
superintend, and also, for many reasons to be more fully explained in
succeeding pages, finding the Orthodox Church of Russia very friendly
towards our own, I shall write throughout with those whom I have termed
the "religious public" very clearly in my mind and sympathies. At the
same time I am hoping to interest the general reader also, and therefore
shall try my utmost to give a comprehensive view of Russian life as it
will be found to-day by travellers on the one hand if they give
themselves time and opportunity enough, and by those, on the other, who
have to go and live and work in Russia.

First impressions are usually interesting to recall. Mine were immediate
and extraordinarily vivid, and were all associated with thoughts--which
have gradually become convictions--of Russia's vast potentialities and
future greatness.

When first I had the honour and pleasure of an audience with the Emperor
of Russia--I will speak of it at greater length in a later chapter--one
of the first questions he asked me was:--

"And what has most impressed you, so far, on coming, as a new
experience, into my country?"

I was not prepared for the question, but answered at once and without
the least hesitation--for there seemed to come into my mind even as His
Majesty spoke, the vivid impression I had received--

"Russia's great spaces!"

"Ah, yes!" he said, evidently thinking very deeply; "that is true.
Russia's _great_ spaces--what a striking impression they must make, for
the first time!"

[Illustration: _Russia's Great Spaces--Winter._]

I went on to explain that one can see great spaces elsewhere. On the
ocean when for days together no other vessel is seen; on some of the
great plains in the other hemisphere; riding across the great Hungarian
tableland; and even in Central France or in the Landes to the west I
have felt this sense of space and distance; but Russia's great flat or
gently undulating expanses have always seemed to me to suggest other
spaces on beyond them still, and to give an impression of the vast
and illimitable, such as I have never known elsewhere. It is under this
impression of vast resources, no doubt, that so many military
correspondents of our daily papers constantly speak of the Russian
forces as "inexhaustible." It is the same with other things also. They
suggest such marvellous possibilities.

This is the impression I would like to give at once in this my opening
chapter--a sense of spaciousness--power to expand, to develop, to open
out, to make progress, to advance and grow. It is not the impression the
word "Russia" usually makes upon people who know little about her inner
life, and have received their ideas from those who have experienced the
repressive and restrictive side of her policy and administration. But I
can only give, and am glad of the opportunity, the results of my own
experiences and observations; and those are embodied in my reply to the
Emperor.

When I crossed the Russian frontier for the first time it was with a
very quaking and apprehensive spirit. All that lay beyond was full of
the mysterious and unknown, so entirely different, one felt it must be,
from all one's previous experiences of life! Anything might happen, for
this was Russia! "Russia" has stood so long with us in this country for
the repressive and reactionary, for the grim and forbidding and
restricting, that it will be difficult for many to part with those
ideas, and I can hardly hope to remove impressions now deeply rooted. I
can only say, however, that my own prejudices and preconceptions in the
same direction disappeared, one after another, with astonishing rapidity
in my first year; and now my spirits rise every time I cross the
frontier of that great country, and my heart warms to that great people
as soon as I see their kindly and friendly faces, their interesting and
picturesque houses, and catch my first sight of their beautiful
churches, with the fine cupolas above them with their hanging chains,
painted and gilded domes, and delicate finials glittering in the sun and
outlined against a sky of blue. Russia to me presents at once a kindly,
friendly atmosphere, and others feel it also; for I have, just before
writing these words, laid down a copy of _The Times_ in which Mr.
Stephen Graham--no one knows the heart and soul of Russia quite as he
does, I fancy--writing one of his illuminating articles on "Russia's
Holy War," says "People in Russia are naturally kind. They have become
even gentler since the war began." Those who enter Russia expecting the
unfriendly will find, I feel sure, as we have done, exactly the
opposite--nothing but kindness and courtesy. It will be the same in
other experiences also if I mistake not.

One of the chief difficulties ordinary travellers or tourists expect to
encounter, for instance, in Russia is that of language.

"Isn't it extraordinarily difficult to acquire, and to make yourself
understood?" is an invariable question, and certainly in long journeys
across country, as from Warsaw up to Riga, and from Libau on the Baltic
to Moscow, and especially in my Mining Camp Mission in Siberia, I
expected to have very great difficulties; but, as so often happens, they
were difficulties in anticipation rather than in reality.

Even off the beaten track in Russia any one who can travel comfortably
in other European countries can travel equally satisfactorily there.
Most educated people speak French, and an ever-increasing number--for
English governesses and nurses are in great request--speak English.
Great numbers of the working class speak German, the national language,
of course, of Russia's Baltic provinces, on railway trains as conductors
and in restaurants as waiters, and at railway stations as porters.
Indeed, if any one is in the dining-car of a train or in the buffet or
dining-room of a railway station or other public place, and has the
courage to stand up and say, "Does any one here speak French?" or "Does
any one here speak German?" some one ready to help and be friendly will
invariably come forward.

In my first Siberian Mission, however, I found myself in a real
difficulty. I had to drive across the Kirghiz Steppes from the railway
at Petropavlosk, about four days and nights east of Moscow, to the
Spassky Copper Mine, and the management had sent down a very reliable
Kirghiz servant of theirs to be my interpreter; but I found that his
only qualification for the work of interpreting was that, in addition to
his own Kirghiz tongue, he could speak Russian!

For the inside of a week, travelling day and night, we had to get on as
best we could together, and arrange all the business of changing horses,
getting food, and paying expenses, largely by signs. Once only, and then
in the dead of night when changing horses, did we encounter a
German-speaking farmer from Courland or Lettland on the Baltic, and a
great joy it was to him to meet some one who knew those fair parts of
the Russian Empire where agricultural work brings much more encouraging
results for the toil bestowed upon it than Siberia, with its terrible
winter season.

[Illustration: _Russia's Great Spaces--Summer._]

But though to acquire a knowledge of Russian for literary purposes, so
as to write and compose correctly, must be most difficult, owing to
the number of letters in the alphabet--forty-six as compared with our
twenty-six--and the entirely different way from our own in which they
are written, I do not think it is difficult to acquire a fair knowledge
of the language in a comparatively short time so as to make one's self
understood and get along. I find young Englishmen, going to work in
Russia and beyond the Urals, very quickly come to understand what is
being said, and to make known their own wishes and requirements; and in
a couple of years, or sometimes less, they speak quite fluently.

It always seems to me that the Russians pronounce their words with more
syllabic distinctness than either the French or Germans. And that
natural kindness and friendliness of the whole people, of which I have
already written, makes them wish to be understood and to help those with
whom they are speaking to grasp their meaning. This, of course, makes
all the difference!

When the question of the great difficulty of the language is raised
another remark nearly always follows:

"But then the Russians are such great linguists that they easily
understand!" And it is usually supposed that they "easily learn other
languages because their own is so difficult," though they encounter no
more difficulty, probably, than any one else when talking in their own
tongue in infancy. They are "great linguists" for the same reason as the
Dutch--and that is because, if they wish to be in educated society or in
business on any large scale, their own language will only go a very
short way.

In Russia as in Holland, as I have been told in both countries, an
educated household will contain a German nurse and an English governess,
while French will be the rule at table. It used to be a French
governess, but now the English governess is in great request everywhere
in Russia and Poland; and, in the great nobles' houses, there is the
English tutor also--not always for the language, but to impart English
ideas to the boys of the family. When I was last in Warsaw, an Oxford
graduate came up at a reception and introduced himself, and told me he
was with a Polish prince who had astonished him on the first morning
after his arrival by saying:--

"I have engaged you as a tutor for my two boys, but it will not be
necessary for you to teach them anything--that is already provided for.
I want you to be their companion, walk out with them, play games with
them, and help them to grow up after the manner of English gentlemen."

There is no real difficulty, therefore, with the language, nor is there
with the money of the country as soon as one realizes the value of the
rouble, eight of which make nearly a pound, and that it is divided into
a hundred _kopecks_, pronounced _kopeeks_, two of which are equal to
about a farthing.

And now to speak of the actual travelling. Everything in the way of
communication in Russia is on a large scale and in keeping with the
answer I gave to the Emperor, and which I have placed at the head of
this chapter. As soon as one passes the frontier, for instance, the
travellers change into carriages adapted for a broad-gauge railway, and
are at once in more commodious quarters. There is no land, I suppose,
where travelling over great distances is so comfortable as in Russia for
all classes; and it is incredibly cheap, first-class tickets costing
less than third in our own country, for those using the ordinary post
train, which every year becomes more comfortable and nearer to the
standard of the wagon-lit. There are excellent lavatories, kept
perfectly clean, where one can wash, shave, and almost have a sponge
bath, for--though without the luxuries of the Trans-Siberian
express--there is more room.

There is usually a restaurant-car on the long-distance trains--and
practically all the trains in Russia are for long distances--and, if
not, there is plenty of time to get food at the stations on the way.
Conductors will take every care and trouble to get what is necessary,
and first and second-class compartments are never overcrowded, as far as
my experience goes. I believe, indeed, that not more than four people
may be put into a compartment for the night, and, as the cushioned back
of the seats can be lifted up, all the four travellers can be sure of
being able to lie down. The first-class compartments on a post train are
divided into two by folding-doors, and one is allowed to buy a
_platzcarte_ and so have the whole compartment to one's self. Every
accommodation too is provided for lying down comfortably in the
third-class, and the travellers there are always the happiest-looking on
the train.

Another consideration shown to the public is that the scale of charges
falls in proportion to the distance to be traversed. The stations are
specially spacious, particularly along the routes beyond Moscow, where
emigration continually goes on into the great pastoral lands of Siberia.
In the summer months the traffic is very great, and it is one of the
most touching and appealing experiences I can recall to pass through one
of the great waiting-halls of such a station as Samara, at night, and
pick one's way amongst the sleeping families of peasants waiting to get
their connection with another line, and resting in the meantime. Their
little possessions are all about them, and father and mother and sons
and daughters lie gathered close up together, pillowing their heads upon
each other, good-looking, prettily dressed, and fast asleep--as
attractive a picture as any one could wish to see.

There is a great freedom of movement everywhere in Russia, and I do not
remember having seen the word _verboten_ (the German for "forbidden"),
or its equivalent, in any part of a Russian or Siberian station. The
rule of having three bells to announce approaching departure is a most
excellent one, whether the pause is long or short, the first ringing
very audibly about five minutes, the second one minute, and the third
immediately before departure. If travelling long distances, the
ten-minutes' stop at all large towns gives plenty of opportunity for
exercise and fresh air, and the absolute certainty of hearing the bells
gives a perfect sense of security that no one will be left behind. If
the bell rings twice just as the train enters the station, every one
knows that the stay will be short, and that it is not worth while
getting out.

Some of the most resting and refreshing experiences I have ever had have
been those of travelling day after day for some two or three thousand
miles in Russia, getting one's correspondence straight, for writing is
quite easy in those steady and slow-moving express trains, reading up
reviews and periodicals or making plans for future journeys, looking out
of the windows in the early morning or late evening, all varied by meals
in the _coupé_ or at a station, seeing all kinds of interesting people
in strange costumes, and many attractive incidents at places where one
alights for a walk and exercise.

More interesting than the railways, however, are the rivers. How large
these are, and how important a part they have filled in the past, before
the days of railways, and still play in the commerce and life of the
people, will be seen at once by a glance at the map at the end of the
book. None of them, however, though one gets a real affection for the
Neva after sledging over it in the winter and sailing upon it in the
summer, attracts and indeed fascinates, as the Volga never fails to do.
It is magnificent in size, and is the largest in Europe, 2,305 miles in
length, three times as long as the Rhine. Many of us know what the
Rhine is to the Germans. Treitschke, as we have been reminded in one of
the most widely read of modern books, when leaving Bonn, wrote to a
friend, "To-morrow I shall see the Rhine for the last time. The memory
of that noble river will keep my heart pure, and save me from sad and
evil thoughts throughout all the days of my life."

I have always understood the strong appeal to the historic, and even the
poetic, sense which the Rhine puts forth, but I never understood the
sense of the ideal which a river might convey until I saw, approached,
and crossed the Volga.

It was a May evening, three years ago, as we drew near and then passed
along its right bank before crossing. It was of the loveliest colour of
rich and living brown, like that of a healthy human skin, carrying life
and burdens of every description upon its ample bosom, fostering all
kinds of enterprise and activity on its shores, and flowing on with
stately dignity, as if it would not be hurried from its calm
consciousness of its own strength and significance for those nine
provinces through which it passes on its way to the Caspian. I felt its
spell at once, and, as I crossed the great bridge over which the
Trans-Siberian line is carried--an exquisite piece of engineering a mile
and a quarter in length--I knew that I should always feel a curious
sense of personality in connection with that glorious river. I think
Merriman, in one of his novels, speaks of associating a sense of
consciousness with the Volga; and that is just what I have felt each
time of crossing over its bounteous-looking, calm, and steady flow. It
seems to live and know.

The third and last "difficulty" which I will speak of in this opening
chapter, and which is no difficulty at all, is the passport. Every one
in Russia must possess one; and, if travelling and intending to spend
one or two nights in a place, it must be sent to the proper official and
be duly stamped. It must be _visèd_ by the Russian ambassador, or
minister, at the place from which one starts before entering Russia;
and, which is even more important, it must be _visèd_ by the right
official at some important town or place of government, and stamped with
the necessary permission, before one is able to _leave_ Russia.

It is natural to feel at the frontier, when entering the country, "I
hope it is all right," as the passport is handed to the customs officer,
and, with just a little approach to anxious uncertainty, after all one
has heard and read; but it is almost impossible to avoid real anxiety
that it will be found correct and in order as it is presented at the
frontier when _leaving_, as the difficulties of being kept back there,
so far away from the great cities, would be far greater than those of
being refused _admission_ from some technicality that could probably be
put right by a telegram to and from England.

"But surely the passport must prevent you from feeling that sense of
freedom that you have spoken of more than once--surely _that_ must give
a sense of repression and suspicion and being watched and having an eye
kept on your doings," my reader will be thinking, and perhaps many other
people have the same feeling. It is, however, exactly the opposite with
me, for my passport in Russia and Siberia is a great stand-by, and gives
me a great sense of being always able to establish my own identity.

There can be little doubt that the passport was established from the
first in the interests of the community, for it is entirely in their own
interests that people should possess them. No one who is honest in
purpose can have any difficulty in procuring one or be brought to any
trouble through it. The necessity of frequently producing them, in
moving from place to place, is always in the interests of the traveller
in a vast empire like Russia. It has given me a great feeling of
confidence in launching out, as has been necessary now and then, into
the unknown, to feel "They will be able to trace me all along by the
entries made in official registers, as the passport has been stamped."
If any one disappeared in Russia the police would be able to trace his
movements to very near the place of disappearance.

It is a great help in getting letters also to have a passport, for we
are just as anxious as the officials can be that our letters should not
go to the wrong people; and in travelling in out-of-the-way places it is
simply invaluable in getting the help, advice, and recognition that
sometimes are so very necessary. Even the passport, therefore, helps to
deepen the sense of security and freedom with which one launches out
into Russian travel, anxious to gain all that it has to give in
information and stimulating experience.

It will be remembered, however, that I speak always not as a resident,
but as a traveller; and there is just this difference--_indeed, it is a
vast difference_--between my own opportunities and those of an ordinary
traveller. Travelling as the bishop for the English Church work in
Russia, in every place our clergy and residents have only been too happy
to speak of their own experiences and impressions, some of them lifelong
and all-important. When travelling in Siberia, and the guest from time
to time of managers of the great mines, I go out with them day after day
and get long conversations with them, their wives, and members of the
staff. I hear all about early struggles, hopes and fears, difficulties
and triumphs extending over many years. The conditions of life and
characteristics of the people in vast tracts of country are described to
me by those who know them well. No one but a bishop travelling through
the country would have the same information so freely volunteered to
him. And it is this which has led me to feel that I might, without undue
presumption, write for ordinary readers about the life of a country in
which I have not, as yet, spent a great many years.

It _is_ a great country, as all we who know it feel, and "It doth not
yet appear what it shall be." If some of us are right in thinking of the
Russians as a great race with a vast country of tremendous resources;
who can in any way picture the great and wonderful possibilities of
their future? It will be my task to try and show how little opportunity
they have had as yet of getting their share of modern civilization, how
imperfectly, as yet, the ethical side of their religion has been
imparted to them; and still, in spite of all this and of other defects
of their social and religious life, how much they have accomplished in
the way of real achievement.

I fail to see how any one can help feeling the greatest
interest--hopeful and expectant--about their future, or feel anything
else but the great thankfulness that I feel myself, that we and they as
peoples have been brought so intimately together by circumstances which
few could have foreseen only a very few years ago, but which have come
about not only, as some would say, in the course of Providence, but in a
very true sense, as I trust our and their national histories shall show
in time to come, "According to the good hand of our GOD upon us."

[Illustration: _The Kremlin._]



CHAPTER II

GENERAL SOCIAL LIFE


The whole life of the Russian people reminds those who visit them
continually and in every possible way that they are in a religious
country; for everywhere there is the _ikon_, or sacred religious
picture. There are other ways, especially the columns of the newspapers
full of notices of private and public ministrations and pathetic
requests for prayers for the departed, of bringing religion continually
before the public mind, but the _ikon_ is most in evidence. It is a
picture in one sense, for it is a representation either of our LORD or
of the Holy Virgin or of some well-known saint; but the garments are in
relief, often composed of one of the precious metals and ornamented in
some cases with jewels; and thus it is quite different from other sacred
pictures. It is the first characteristic evidence of "Russia" to meet
one's eyes on entering, and the last to be seen as one leaves, any
public place.

"A great picture of the Virgin and Child hangs in the custom-house at
Wirballen," writes Mr. Rothay Reynolds at the beginning of _My Russian
Year_, "with a little lamp flickering before it."

"The foreigner, who was a few minutes before on the German side of the
frontier and stands on Russian soil for the first time, looks at the
shrine with curiosity. Porters are hurrying in with luggage, and
travellers are chattering in half a dozen languages. An official at a
desk in the middle of the great hall is examining passports. A man is
protesting that he did not know that playing-cards were contraband; a
woman is radiant, for the dirty lining she has sewn in a new Paris hat
has deceived the inquisitors. Everybody is in a hurry to be through with
the business, and free to lunch in the adjoining restaurant before going
on to St. Petersburg. It is a strange home for the majestic Virgin of
the Byzantine picture.

"Here, at the threshold of the empire, Russia placards--S. Paul's vivid
Greek gives me the word--her faith before the eyes of all comers. In the
bustle of a custom-house, charged with fretfulness and impatience and
meanness, Russia sets forth her belief in a life beyond the grave and
her conviction that the ideals presented by the picture are the noblest
known to mankind."

Nowhere as in Russia is one reminded so constantly, in what we should
consider most unlikely places, that we are in a Christian country. In
the streets and at railway stations, in baths, hotels, post offices,
shops, and warehouses, in the different rooms of factories and
workshops, in private houses, rich and poor alike, in government houses,
and even in places of evil resort which I will not specify, as well as
in prisons, indeed in _every_ public place there is the _ikon_--most
frequently representing the Holy Mother and Child--and its lamp burning
before it.

In later chapters I will write more at length upon religion and worship,
but I must give the reader _at once_, if a stranger to Russia, something
of the impression which the ubiquity of the _ikon_ makes upon those who
go there for the first time. It is _always_ to be seen. And though I
will try and describe what it directly represents in the shape of Church
life later, yet from the very first I must write, as it were, with the
_ikon_ before me. I must see with my mind's eye the Holy Mother clasping
the Divine Child to her bosom, with a few flowers and a twinkling little
light before them, all the time I write, whether it is of things secular
or sacred, grave or gay, national or international, or I shall give out
but little of the spirit which I feel I have breathed deeply into my
life in that wonderful country, and certainly shall not be able to help
any reader who has not been there as yet to understand why it should be
spoken of as "Holy Russia."

That which the _ikon_ stands for, therefore, must be the spirit of every
chapter I write, or I shall give my readers no true picture of Russian
life.

Fortunately for those who want further particulars than such a book as
this can give them--and it will fail in its purpose if it does not make
many readers _wish_ to have them--there has been a very excellent
_Baedeker's Guide to Russia_ published last year, which is a wonderfully
complete work considering the vast empire with which it has to deal. I
will therefore attempt nothing at all in the way of statistics or
descriptions such as a guide-book gives, or such as will be found in the
excellent books to which I shall often refer. If I can take my readers
with me in thought as I travel about Russia and Siberia, and can give
them some of the information which has been given so freely to me, and
can convey to them some portion of the impressions made upon me when far
away from the beaten track, and above all can lead them to give their
sympathies freely and generously to the people of the land and to our
own countrymen so hospitably welcomed amongst them, and so generously
treated, I shall be more than repaid for my work, and shall ask nothing
better.

In Russia there are two forms of government, clearly and strenuously at
work, and wide asunder in their character, the autocratic and the
democratic. It is impossible to do much more than mention these two
tremendous forces, which are so strongly forming the character, and
determining the destinies for a long time to come, of a great people.

Since 1905 the Russian Empire has had constitutional government under
the form of an Imperial Council or First Chamber, the Imperial Duma or
Second Chamber, with the Emperor, advised by a small council of
ministers, still an autocratic sovereign. The Emperor can overrule any
legislation, and probably would if advised by a unanimous council; but
it must be evident to most people if they think a little, that even now
he would be very reluctant to do this except in some very grave crisis
of the national life, and that in time to come he will never dream of
such interference. Constitutional government in Russia has really begun,
and when one considers the past it is clear that great progress has been
made in the direction of constitutional freedom since it was granted in
1905. The reconstitution of the Polish nation, the stirring amongst
the Finns, the rising hopes of the Jews, the national aspirations of
Mongolia more and more fully expressed, the general "moving upon the
face of the waters" of the Spirit which makes a free people, cannot but
rivet the attention of those interested in social and national life upon
Russia at this time, when the autocratic government of long standing is
passing, so simply and so naturally, it would seem, into the
constitutional.

Since the emancipation of the serfs there has been a steady growth of
the democratic, almost communal, spirit in all the peasant villages of
Russia, and though their powers have been somewhat curtailed since 1889
they are self-governing and very responsible communities. Some of the
best and most interesting Russian stories, therefore, deal with
incidents and experiences in village life; and it is the great fact that
Sir Donald Mackenzie Wallace, whose book upon Russia is one of the most
complete character, went and shut himself out from the rest of the world
at the little village of Ivanofka, in the province of Novgorod, and
there drank in the spirit of the language and of the national life, that
makes his compendious work a real classic for those who want truly to
understand Russian life and nationality.

There are two distinct social and constitutional forces at work,
therefore, and not working slowly and deliberately, as so often in the
past, but with great rapidity--the autocratic seeking to realize its
responsibilities and to fulfil them, and the democratic feeling that its
ideals are coming nearer to being realized every day.

There is consequently no country so absorbingly interesting to the
constitutionalist at this time as Russia. Nothing can be more
stimulating, to those who want to read the signs of the times, than to
know that revolutionaries, such as M. Bourtzeff,[1] who had left their
country in despair to plan and plot, have now returned, without
troubling whether they would be pardoned or punished, full of expectant
hope for their country's constitutional future. Perhaps cautious people
will hope that progress may be slow, but the great thing is to be able
to say, "It moves."

Every city and great town in Russia has something specially
characteristic about it, and of course they are, as yet, very few in
number. Catherine the Great, as is well known, thought cities and towns
could be created, though she found out her mistake, and Russia still
remains a land of villages rather than of towns, but the great towns
which do exist have usually very distinctive features.

Petrograd, for instance, though, as Peter intended it should be,
essentially modern, has its very special features in its domed churches
and the magnificence of its wide river with the great palaces upon its
banks and bordering upon its quays. The fortress of S. Peter and S.
Paul, on the opposite side, "home of political prisoners and dead
Tsars," when the sun is setting, is never to be forgotten, and enters at
once upon the field of vision as one thinks of Peter's capital.

Then Moscow! How well I remember Bishop Creighton's enthusiasm whenever
he spoke of Moscow. Though his face might be calm and its expression
grave before, only let Moscow be mentioned and it would light up at
once, as with sparkling eyes he would exclaim:--

"Moscow!--oh, you must see Moscow: nothing in the world is like it. You
_must_ see it."

But it is really the Kremlin which makes Moscow unique, with an
intangible influence and sense of association connected with it that no
one can describe, as one thinks of its historic past and of Napoleon!
The Kremlin! I had read and heard descriptions of it from time to time,
but was in no way prepared for that vast area of palaces, churches,
treasuries, great houses, and barracks, enclosed by glorious walls and
towers and entered by impressive gateways, over which one gazed with
wondering eyes when seen first under the blue sky and brilliant winter
sun.

[Illustration: _The Gate of the Redeemer, Moscow._]

It is no use attempting to describe it; but Moscow is the Kremlin, and
to _feel_ the Kremlin is to _know_ Moscow.

Upon entering the Spassky Gate, or Gate of the Redeemer, every hat has
to be removed in honour of the _ikon_ of the Saviour which is placed
above it. The picture was placed there, by the Tsar Alexis, in 1647, to
be regarded as the "palladium of the Kremlin," and the order was given
then that hats should be removed when passing through. The law is
rigorously enforced still, and though it is sometimes a trial--I had
frostbite in consequence when I last went through a year ago--yet the
act is almost an instinctive one when entering or leaving the Kremlin.

Warsaw, again--for no one in this generation can dissociate it from
Russia and call it Polish only--with its glorious position on the
Vistula in the midst of its great plain, though not so ancient and
inspiring as Cracow, in Galicia, is full of moving appeal to the
national and historic sense for those who visit it for the first time,
and especially, as in my own case, when entering the empire by that
route. I have seen Warsaw in spring, summer, and winter, and always felt
its charm; and I have not felt more deeply moved for a long time than
by the Emperor's proclamation that he intended the Poles once more to be
a nation and--there can be but little doubt about it--with Warsaw as its
capital.

Riga also, the great shipping-port on the Baltic, which I have entered
by sea and by land, and when coming in by sea have had the pleasure of
seeing our beautiful English church on the shore with its graceful spire
standing out conspicuously, yet blending in with other towers and
pinnacles. How very characteristic of the Baltic and attractive the city
is, with its blending of the Teuton and Slav populations! But how
essentially Russian it is in all its leading features, while different
from all other Russian cities! It is so wherever one goes both on this
and on the other side of the Urals. There always seems to be something
specially characteristic in these great centres of population; and they
all seem as if, unlike other towns, they had each their own interesting
story to tell for those who have ears to hear.

Town or city life in Russia is not very representative of the true life
of the country and its people, though it undoubtedly exerts a widespread
influence upon their general social life; for Russia's vast population
is not gathered together in either towns or cities, but in hamlets and
villages. Sir Donald Mackenzie Wallace tells us that when he wrote his
first book on Russia, in 1877, there were only eleven towns with a
population of over 50,000 in European Russia, and that, in 1905, they
had only increased to thirty-four. The increase of the future will no
doubt be more rapid when the war is over.

The great cities will probably, as practically all the cities of Europe
have done of late years, follow the lead of Paris under Baron Hausmann
in the character of their imposing blocks of houses and wide boulevards,
and one capital will be much the same as any other in Europe in its
general appearance and social life.

Russian cities, however, even the capital, though ever becoming more
cosmopolitan, still possess their many distinctive and interesting
features, costumes, and customs, and are most picturesque and
interesting, of course, during the long winter. It gives one a shock
almost to go for the first time to Warsaw or Petrograd--at Moscow there
is always the Kremlin--in the middle of the summer. There is little to
distinguish them then, apart from the ever-glorious beauty of the
churches, from Buda-Pest or Vienna.

But in the winter! Then it is everywhere still characteristic Russia.
The sledges, for instance, with their _troikas_! They are the same
carriages or _droschkes_ as in summer, but with runners instead of
wheels. Horses are harnessed in the same way in both seasons, and even
the coachmen seem to wear exactly the same dress all the year round,
edged with fur like their caps, though the padding inside the coat
_must_ be less in summer, one would think. The sledges of nobles and
other wealthy people, used in the winter only, are painted and decorated
most attractively. To drive out on a winter night, under a sky brilliant
with stars, the air extraordinarily keen, bracing, and stimulating, the
bells tinkling from the high and graceful yoke which rises from the
central horse of the three, wrapped in furs, and with no sounds but the
bells and the crack of whips and the subdued crunching of the snow, is
to taste one of the joys of life, and feel to the full, with happiness
in the feeling, "This is Russia!"

[Illustration: _A Well-clad Coachman._]

The coachmen pad up their robes of blue to an enormous extent, so that
they seem to bulge out over their seat. It is said to be a custom dating
from Catherine's days and from her requirements that there should be at
least twelve inches of good stuff between her coachman's skin and her
nose! But the present reason for the custom, which prevails, as far as I
know, in no other country, is that there is an objection to a thin
coachman. When I was speaking of the absurdity of these grotesque
padded-out figures to a lady whom I had taken into dinner one night in
Moscow, she at once said:--

"Well, I must say I like my coachman to look comfortable and well fed, I
should hate a thin one."

Dickens's fat boy in Pickwick must commend himself to Russia, for they
love Dickens and read him in translation and the original all through
the empire, as just what a driver ought to be. I should think coachmen
in Russia, however, _ought_ to be fat without any padding-up, for they
are all merry and good-tempered, their blue eyes and pleasant faces
under their furry caps giving the impression of perfect health. They sit
on their boxes all day without any violent exercise, and probably have
good and abundant food, and above all they sleep. However long you keep
your coachman, even in the depth of winter, he does not mind, for he
invariably seems to go to sleep while waiting, and to have an absolutely
unlimited capacity for gentle and peaceful slumber. I am not at all sure
whether my driver on the steppes has not usually been asleep even when
we have been going at full speed, the centre horse trotting swiftly, the
other two, according to custom, at the gallop.

The _dvornik_ is another institution in town life. He is an indoor
servant in great houses, usually about the front hall, to open the door
for those who go out, ready for all sorts of odd things; or he may be a
head out-of-doors servant; or he may give general help for three or four
or more smaller establishments; but he has to be there, and cannot be
dismissed, for he is _ex officio_ a member of the police and has to make
his report from time to time. It must give a little sense of espionage,
but still, as with the passport, it is only the evil-minded or
evil-living who need to be afraid of the _dvornik's_ report, and it must
be remembered also that the Russian Government has long had cause to
dread the revolutionary spirit, and has had to fight for its very life
against it.

This is the darker side of life in Russia; and as far as my experience
goes it is the only dark side, for it must be evident that a designing
_dvornik_ may do untold harm, and specially--as I have known to be the
case--in official and diplomatic establishments. The custom opens out
possibilities of blackmail also, and one can only hope that it will pass
away in what so many of us feel are to be for Russia the better days to
come.

Russians are very hospitable, not only lavish in its exercise where
ample means allow, but naturally and by custom thoroughly and truly
ready, even in the homes of the very poor, to welcome the coming guest.

This is brought out in every book one reads of Russia, but by no one
more touchingly than by Mr. Stephen Graham in his _Tramp's Sketches_,
when he journeyed constantly amongst the very poor and found them always
ready to "share their crusts." Sir Donald Mackenzie Wallace says the
same about the wealthier classes: "Of all the foreign countries in which
I have travelled Russia certainly bears off the palm in the matter of
hospitality."

An interesting feature of a Russian meal, luncheon, or dinner, is its
preliminary, the _zakouska_. It probably dates from the time when guests
came from long distances, as they do still in the country, and would be
hungry upon their arrival, and yet would have to wait until all the
guests had come. It would be, and indeed in some houses to which I have
been is still, understood, that if you were asked for a certain time the
dinner would follow in the course of an hour or two; and so the "snack"
was provided, and laid out upon the sideboard. The great dinners or
banquets in London are "7 for 7-30," to give time for guests to
assemble.

The _zakouska_, however, remains the custom still at every meal, and
consists of caviare sandwiches, _pâté de foie gras_, and various kinds
of deliciously cured fish. Strangers to the country, not understanding
this particular custom, for it is provided in the drawing-room,
ante-room, or in the dining-room itself, sometimes enjoy it so much and
partake so freely, that they feel unequal to the meal which follows, and
then have the pain of seeing their host and hostess quite mortified and
hurt by their not doing full justice to the good things provided. I
remember being entertained at supper in Libau by the good consul and his
family, at the St. Petersburg Hotel, when the _zakouska_ provided was so
abundant and attractive that we all decided that we could not go beyond
it to anything more substantial.

Another special and characteristic feature of Russian life, and one
which it seems impossible to transplant to another country, for many of
my friends have tried it, is the _samovar_ or large urn with a central
flue for burning or smouldering charcoal. The _samovar_ is always near
at hand, and ready to be brought in at short notice to furnish what one
can only call the national beverage of tea. The steaming urn is a very
cheerful object in the room, and when tea is made and guests are served,
the teapot is placed on the top of the central flue and everything is
kept bubbling hot. On the steppes I used to boil my eggs in the space
between the flue and the outside cover, though this was not held to be
good for the tea. Tea is provided and enjoyed everywhere in Russia,
drunk very hot, rather weak and almost always with sugar, though _not_
with lemon except in great houses and hotels. "Slices of lemon," to my
amazement I was told, as I travelled off the track of railways and
sometimes on, "are an English custom!"

Tea is always taken in tumblers set in a little metal frame with a
handle. On the trains for the poorest passengers there is often hot
water, and always at stations on the way; and emigrants, as they travel,
may be said to do so teapot in hand. It is China tea and light in
colour, and, as the custom amongst the poorer classes is to put only a
moderate quantity of tea into the _tchinak_ or teapot, to begin with,
and to fill up with hot water as they go on drinking for an indefinite
time, it must be very weak indeed at the end. Not even at the start is
it strong, or what some public schoolboys call "beefy." At the end it
can hardly have even a flavour of tea about it, though they go on
drinking it quite contentedly. Across the Urals and amongst the Kirghiz
I found the custom was not to put sugar in the tea but in the mouth, and
drink the tea through it, and just above the Persian frontier jam was
taken in the same way, to flavour and sweeten the tea in the act of
drinking.

Russian houses, in the great cities, are much the same as in other
capitals, though perhaps rather more spacious and richly furnished. The
rooms for entertainment and daily use open out of each other, of course,
and the beautiful stoves of porcelain have not, as yet, given way to
central heating. Double windows in all the rooms are the rule all
through the long winter, with a small pane let in for ventilation; and
thus a cosy and comfortable sense of warmth is experienced everywhere
whilst indoors, which renders it, strange as it may seem, unnecessary to
wear, as in our own country, warm winter under-garments. Comfortably
warm by night or day, without extra clothing or extra blankets whilst
indoors, and wrapped in thick warm furs when out of doors, the winter is
not as trying in Russia as in more temperate countries. One takes a cold
bath, indeed, in that country with more enjoyment than anywhere else,
for, though the water gives an almost electric shock with its icy sting,
yet, as soon as one steps out into the warm air of the bath-room and
takes up the warm towels, the immediate reaction brings at once a glow
of pure enjoyment. There is every comfort in a Russian house, especially
in the winter.

The country house, or _datcha_, is a necessity for those who have to
live in Russia all the year round, as the cities and great towns are
very hot and dusty, and often full of mosquitoes in the two or three
months of summer, which is quite tropical in its character.

Thus there are the two extremes, an Arctic winter and a tropical summer.

The country houses are entirely summer residences, with great verandahs
and balconies and other facilities for life in the open, and are often
placed amongst pine-woods or by the sea. Some of my friends use their
_datchas_ in winter also; and it is interesting to see how balconies and
verandahs which in summer are filled with carpets, furniture, and
plants, and are quite open on every side to meet the needs of the family
and its guests all through the day in the open air, in winter are closed
in by double windows fitted in on every side, and thus are made into
additional and altogether different rooms.

The homes of the Russian nobility are very richly and artistically
appointed in every particular. I stayed with friends a couple of years
ago who had taken such an establishment for the summer; and furniture,
pictures, china, arrangements and decorations of rooms all gave striking
testimony to the wealth and cultivated tastes of the absent family.
Even beyond the Urals, at the Kyshtim Mine, when first I visited it and
was the guest of the managing director, I was amazed at the sumptuous
character of his abode built by the former owners of the mine.

It is a vast building approached by a great courtyard and in the Greek
style of architecture, with towers in different places giving it a
fortress-like appearance in the distance. The rooms are extraordinarily
large and numerous, and here and there are bits of Venetian furniture,
old paintings, and rich carpets. On going straight through the great
salon, which one enters from the outer door and into the open air on the
other side, one is again under a great portico with Greek pillars,
capitals, and frieze, looking out over a large sheet of water towards
hills and forests. I could not help saying to myself in amazement the
first time I went there, "And this is Siberia!"

I am not at all sure that social life upon European lines will not
develop more rapidly in Siberia than in European Russia. Even now I do
not know any railway station in Russia proper that can compare with that
of Ekaterinburg, just where Siberia really begins, in all its
arrangements for the travelling public and especially in the equipment
of its restaurant and dining-rooms, where every comfort in the way of
good food and good service is provided for the traveller, and French and
German are freely spoken.

It is impossible to write on the general social life without mentioning,
though one cannot do more, certain recent events which must have a
tremendous influence upon Russia's future, socially as well as
nationally. There is, for instance, the Emperor's proclamation against
the _vodka_ monopoly hitherto enjoyed by the government, which prohibits
State _vodka_ selling for ever. The effect upon the public life of the
great cities has been astonishing already. No one could have believed
that the "stroke of a pen," so to speak, could have wrought such a
change in the habits of a people. It remains to be seen, of course, how
long the change will last; but, though Acts of Parliament cannot make
people sober, it is a grand step in the right direction to decide that
they shall not make them drunk, as the encouragement given by the State
to the sale of _vodka_ must certainly have done.

Could any other modern government have made a sacrifice such as Russia
has made in giving up the expectation of nearly £100,000,000 of revenue
for the social well-being of her people? Truly she deals with "large
spaces!"

Moreover, the _vodka_ proclamation comes in the natural course of
things, and can have been but very little hurried by the war; for things
were already moving in that direction. Last year but one--1913--a scheme
of "local option" was introduced into the empire; and, in every commune
within its boundaries, I am assured, men and women alike having the vote
for the purpose, the inhabitants were allowed to decide for themselves
whether they would allow _vodka_ to be sold in their villages and towns.
It was recognized that if the men enjoyed getting drunk the wives and
mothers were the sufferers, and so they were allowed to vote.

The whole country, therefore, before the war broke out, was prepared to
face a great issue. And the general war cry, "We've a greater foe to
fight than the Germans!" shows how they faced it, and gives them that
ideal which should enable them to go far. They are out for a holy war,
and far-reaching influences are clearly at work which will profoundly
and permanently affect the whole social conditions and well-being of the
people.

Then there is the proclamation concerning the resuscitation of Poland.
This also does not come at all as an overwhelming surprise to many of
us, as it has been fairly well known that the Emperor, and some at
least of his principal advisers, have for some time had ever-increasing
constitutional, even democratic, sympathies. It has been more and more
felt of late that what is called Russification, as practised towards the
Finns, would go no further; and indeed, as far as they were concerned,
would be reversed. No thoughtful person who has marked the trend of
events since 1908 could doubt the direction in which higher and
responsible Russian thought was moving. But who can possibly foresee the
far-reaching effect of raising up a great Polish nation once more and
recognizing the Roman Catholic Church as the Church of that part of the
empire, with Russians and Poles, Orthodox and Roman Catholic living
together in amity and international unity?

"I have just been staying," writes Mr. Stephen Graham in the _Times_ for
October 29, 1914, "in the fine old city of Wilna, a city of courtly
Poles, the home of many of the old noble families of Poland. It is now
thronged with Russian officers and soldiers. Along the main street is an
incessant procession of troops, and as you look down you see vistas of
bayonet-spikes waving like reeds in a wind. As you lie in bed at night
you listen to the tramp, tramp, tramp of soldiers. Or you look out of
the window and see wagons and guns passing for twenty minutes on end,
or you see prancing over the cobbles and the mud the Cossacks of the
Don, of the Volga, of Seven Rivers. In the days of the revolutionary
outburst the Poles bit their lips in hate at the sight of the Russian
soldiers, they cursed under their breath, darted out with revolvers,
shot, and aimed bombs. To-day they smile, tears run down their cheeks;
they even cheer. Whoever would have thought to see the day when the
Poles would cheer the Russian troops marching through the streets of
their own cities? The Russians are forgiven!"

No one who has known Russia and Poland before the war could read this
description without deep emotion.

"A very touching spectacle," he continues, "may be seen every day just
now at the Sacred Gate of Wilna. Above the gateway is a chapel with
wide-open doors showing a richly-gilded and flower-decked image of the
Virgin. At one side stands a row of leaden organ-pipes, at the other
stands a priest. Music is wafted through the air with incense and the
sound of prayers. Down below in the narrow, muddy roadway kneel many
poor men and women with prayer-books in their hands. They are Poles. But
through the gateway come incessantly, all day and all night, Russian
troops going to the front. And every soldier or officer as he comes
lifts his hat and passes through the praying throng uncovered. This is
beautiful. Let Russia always be so in the presence of the Mother of
Poland."

It is impossible to read of that scene also, and recall at the same time
past relations of the two Churches here mentioned, without dreaming
dreams and seeing visions of social unity such as has never yet been
known, both for Russia and all other countries to which she has so nobly
and unselfishly given a social lead and invitation to follow on.

     Note from p. 27, "M. Bourtzeff."--There was a notice in the
     _Times_ of February 4th last as follows: "A Reuter telegram
     from Petrograd of yesterday's date states that M. Bourtzeff has
     been sentenced to deportation to Siberia." I have never been
     able, however, to obtain any confirmation of this from Russian
     officials in this country, nor do the Russian Embassy know
     anything about it. I hope it will prove that a sentence was
     passed _pro forma_, and that the Emperor, as in Miss Malecska's
     case, at once remitted the sentence, or that M. Bourtzeff was
     merely requested to live in Siberia for the present rather than
     in Russia, and I personally should think that no great
     hardship. I feel that we must await further particulars before
     being able to form correct impressions of this important case.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] See end of this chapter, p. 45.



CHAPTER III

THE PEASANTRY


It would be much more satisfactory to one's self to try and write a
_book_ about the peasantry of Russia, rather than attempt to say all
that one wants to say in a single chapter, for there could hardly be any
more interesting and promising people in the world than the peasant folk
of Russia. The future of the empire depends upon the development and
improvement of its agricultural population, as they form three-fourths,
according to the last census of three years ago, of its grand total of
over 171,000,000 souls. Russia thus leads in the white races in the
matter of population, and possesses that splendid asset, which Goldsmith
feels to be vital to a nation's advance and with which nothing else can
compare when lost:--

    "Princes and lords may flourish, or may fade;
    A breath can make them as a breath has made;
    But a bold peasantry, their country's pride,
    When once destroyed can never be supplied."

It is upon coming to write even briefly and in an impressionist kind of
way upon a class which forms the huge majority of Russia's population
that the vastness of her empire and the different conditions under which
her people live begin to be in some small degree apparent. It is no
wonder that thoroughly well-informed and experienced writers, who have
lived long and travelled far in the country and who are evidently quite
to be trusted, should yet write so differently.

[Illustration: _A Village Scene._]

One will write as if the Russian peasant was only a degree better in his
intelligence than the animals which share his filthy hovel, and no less
brutish in temperament and nature. Fearsome pictures are drawn in some
books I have read of the almost impossible conditions and indescribable
filth in which men, women, and children, fowls, pigs, horses, cattle,
and dogs herd together in a stifling atmosphere and sickening stench,
where to enter is out of the question unless one is to be covered with
vermin and contract some illness. All this may be true to the writer's
own experiences, and he can only write and describe things as he has
found them; but I too will do the same.

It is worth while to remember from the first that the lives of the
peasant population of Russia must be as different in summer and winter
as tropical heat is from arctic cold. In the winter all _must_ crowd in
together when the household is poor if life has to be preserved and
defended against that appalling cold, when the one condition of the
survival is warmth, or even heat. All outdoor occupation ceases, of
course, with the one exception, it may be, of cutting, stacking, and
carting wood. A peasant population, with a not very advanced
civilization as yet, and little education--only twenty per cent. of the
whole population can read and write--must, like the animal world,
hibernate, come as it were to a standstill, rest physically and
mentally, and prepare for the unremitting activities of the summer.

I remember once when staying in an inn at the top of an Alpine pass
being impressed with the extraordinary energy and vivacity of the head
waitress. She was simply untiring, always in good spirits, always at
hand when wanted, unfailing in her attentions; however late a guest was
up she was moving cheerfully about, however early one was down she was
down before him helping to get things ready. When I was leaving I said
to her, "I've been wondering when you get your rest?"

She smiled brightly, and said cheerfully, "In the winter, sir."

That's when the Russian peasant gets his rest also, and with the spring
he begins his energetic life of farming and agriculture, of carting and
labour. The long days are busy and all too short, the brief nights are
hardly more than an interval. The whole land is full of movement, the
air is full of song and music, the holidays marked by game and dance.
Nothing could be more unlike the bitter cold and gloom of Russia's long
and terrible winter than the glow, brilliance, joy, and never-ceasing
activities of her amazingly rich and life-giving summer. Her peasantry
must present the same contrasts in homes and seeming temperaments, and
two writers may therefore be widely asunder in their descriptions, and
yet both write truthfully of the things they have seen and known at
different times of the year.

To me the Russian peasant is, as to others who have known him at his
best, an amiable, attractive, intelligent, thoroughly good-natured and
altogether lovable creature. It is quite true that he can do, has done,
and may again do some perfectly appalling things, but it has been when
thoroughly worked up, as one of a crowd, and when every one else has
lost his head. Terrible things which were not allowed to be known in
Europe outside their frontiers, and now will probably never be known,
were done during the revolution of seven years ago. But the Russian
peasants are like children, as yet, and any one who knows and loves
children knows perfectly well also what they are capable of, if they
have any spirit in them, when thoroughly worked up, and when they too
have for the time being lost their head and feel capable of almost
anything that will hurt and pain and annoy. The peasants are in this, as
in many other things, like children.

As soon as the statistics of the Russian peasantry come to be examined a
startling fact comes to light. More than half their number--582 out of
every 1,000--die before they are five years old. This means, as in the
more inclement parts of our own country, that those who survive are a
hardy race, strong and virile. The mortality is greatest amongst male
children--over 600 out of every 1,000--and those, therefore, who do live
are strong enough for anything and of amazing vitality, as we have seen
in the present war.

Not only are they vigorous and strong in physique, however, but there is
nothing lacking in their intelligence, or Russia would not have the
charm and fascination she possesses. Probably no country in the world,
unless it be still agricultural France, can compare with Russia in the
character of its peasant industries or their importance as part of the
national revenue and resources. Probably the people will be stimulated
to greater industry in this direction by the removal of the _vodka_
temptation, and both cease to feel the desire for it and get something
in its place. Just as a man I once knew who was led to give up drink and
gambling at the same time, when wondering how he could possibly live
without them, had to change his house and remove to another with a
garden. There in gardening work he found his compensation, and at the
same time added to the resources of his household. Thus may it be in
Russia.[2]

The list of the Russian peasant industries is a long and interesting
one, but I won't take up time in enumerating them, as they can be found
in the _Russian Year Book_, or probably in most encyclopaedias. I may
perhaps mention a few which have especially interested and attracted me,
and will no doubt be brought before our own people in the Russian shops
and exhibitions which are almost certain to be opened before long, and
it must be remembered that I am speaking of peasant productions only.

There is the beautiful "drawn thread" work, lace-like in character, that
all my friends say is unlike anything to be found in our own country,
the making of which is promoted by the Princess Tenisheva and other
Russian ladies, as well as embroidered and worked linen of all
descriptions. Toys, and particularly large ornamental wooden spoons, of
all kinds are made in great quantities by village folk, and painted
boxes such as the Japanese make, but with Russian scenes upon them, in
delightful shades of colour, and with rich and brilliant lacquer inside
and out. Then there are hand-woven laces of different varieties, and,
above all, the Orenburg shawls, exquisitely dainty and so fine that the
largest of them will go through a wedding-ring, and yet warmer than
Shetland wool. These also are hand-woven, and come from the province of
Orenburg, just beyond the Urals.

Ironwork, again, is a speciality in Siberia, where they are said to be
the best iron-workers in the world, though a friend of mine to whom I
mentioned this, when I was showing him some perfectly wonderful and
artistic specimens which had been given to me when I first went to
Siberia, said, "That's because they have the best iron in the world."
The stone or gem-cutting industry is an important one. Furs, from sheep
and wolf-skins up to bears, as well as those of foxes, sables, elk, and
reindeer, and other animals, are perfectly dressed by the peasants for
their own use, as well as for sale. I have some exquisite work in
coloured silks upon hand-woven cloth which had never been out of the
tents where they were made till given to me, and above all I cherish a
silver box which had been made in a Kirghese _uerta_ or tent, far away
upon the steppes, and was given to me when I had had services there
after my long drive in the _tarantass_. It would hold about a hundred
cigarettes, and was given to me for that purpose, is oblong in shape,
with a lid of sloping sides, and is made from silver roubles hammered
out and ornamented with that beautiful damascening that is said to be a
lost art except for the peasants of the steppes. It is such a beautiful
bit of workmanship that any one looking at it would think it had come
out of a Bond Street silversmith's, until he turned it over and saw that
the bottom is a plain piece of iron, rough and unornamented. Let no one
think the Russian peasant unintelligent or unskilful or wanting in
dexterity or resource. The wonder to me is that, with the few advantages
and opportunities he has had, he is so capable, intelligent, and quick
to learn as he is. And what is important for us to remember is that he
loves to learn from an Englishman.

Then, again, we are told that he is brutish in temperament and of low
ideals, and never seems to rise above his squalid surroundings. I don't
agree that his surroundings _are_ squalid. Simple they are, without a
doubt, as the Canadian shack of three brothers I know is simple, and has
nothing in it but beds and tables and chairs, their boxes and
saddle-trees, etc., and all is bed and work, but it is not squalid. They
have been brought up in a good and refined home, and yet find nothing
incongruous in their present abode amongst the pine-woods.

That's what a Russian peasant's home is also, simple and yet attractive.
It is built of logs, the interstices well plastered up with moss and
clay to keep out all cold air, cool in summer and warm in winter by
reason of the thickness of these outer walls; and it usually has an
inner entrance or small room, before the large and chief living-room.
There will be two or more small square windows in the latter, an _ikon_
in a corner with a lamp before it and a shelf for flowers below--every
one on entering looks towards it, bowing reverently and making the sign
of the Cross--a very large stove of bricks, whitewashed, upon the top of
which rests a wide shelf, carried along the wall as far as is necessary
for the whole family to be able to find sleeping-space upon it. There
will also be a long wooden bench, a great table, a few wooden stools,
and a great cupboard, and, nearly always, cheap coloured pictures of the
Emperor and Empress, whose portraits are to be found in all shops, inns,
post offices, and places of public resort.

These are the simple surroundings described and made familiar to us by
all writers of Russian stories of which peasants form a part, and all
over the empire they are found just as Tolstoi, Dostoviesky, Turgenieff,
and others bring them before us in their interesting tales. Take for
example Tolstoi's _Where Love is there God is also_, _Master and Man_,
and other parables and tales. When Martin Avdeitch is looking out from
his small abode through his one small window upon the passers-by as
simply as man could do, and yet with shrewd and discerning eyes, he is
ready for the old pilgrim who comes into his life just at the right
moment, and shows him the way to God.

Or take Nikita in _Master and Man_, in the same volume. In some ways he
is extraordinarily simple, and does not appear to know how shamefully he
is being exploited by his avaricious and grasping master. We are told in
the story that he _does_ know even though he goes on as if he didn't,
and does his duty by him as if he were the best of masters, just as he
does by an unfaithful and unfeeling wife. It would be difficult to
imagine a peasant one would more love to know and understand than
Nikita, strong, capable, affectionate, and shrewd, as he comes running
before us in the story, to harness the horse for his master, the only
man on the place that day not drunk, talking to the little brown cob
which noses him affectionately, and in the end making a tremendous
struggle for his own and his master's life, and winning through himself.
Thus he goes on steadily as long as he lives, with no other thought but
that of duty, until he lies down beneath the _ikon_, and, with the wax
candle in his hand just as he had always wished, passes away at peace
with every living creature and with GOD.

There are no peasants like the Russians, or who think as they do. They
are young, one feels, and "The thoughts of youth are long, long
thoughts," and that is just what those who know them best find out.

A friend of mine told this story the other day at a meeting, at which we
both had to speak, and I am sure it will bear repetition. A _moujik_, or
peasant, was driving a German commercial traveller across the open
country, and in the course of their conversation together his companion
said to him:--

"Your countrymen are nothing but a lot of idolaters. You worship those
_ikons_ of yours, and bow down to them as the heathen do," and so on.
The _moujik_ was very indignant, and grumbled out his disapproval of all
this.

"Worship our _ikons_ indeed! We don't." And as they went driving on he
suddenly drew up, and, pointing to a tree, demanded of the astonished
traveller:--

"Do you mean to say that I would worship that tree?"

"No, no. Of course not! Drive on."

With a very disapproving grunt he drove on, and when they reached their
destination, where there was a painter at work upon an outside door, the
_moujik_, pointing to the paint-pot beside it, again demanded of the
traveller:--

"Would you say I could worship that paint?"

"No, certainly not! You could not be so silly."

"But yet you say I worship an _ikon_, which is only painted wood, and
can't see that I only use it to help me to worship GOD."

Let the reader reflect upon the way in which that peasant had been
thinking over the charge made against him of idolatry, thinking what
idolatry really was, and how far he felt himself from it. Let him try
and imagine how one of our own agricultural labourers would think over
such a subject if he were entering into conversation with us as he was
digging in our garden, or driving us in a farmer's cart to a country
station. I am writing this chapter in a quiet part of the country, and I
can't conceive of any of the labouring people here even approaching that
line of thought upon which the mind of that _moujik_ began at once to
move, though slowly enough no doubt, when he was told he was little
better than a worshipper of idols.

I read the other day in a book on Russia that the peasantry are very
dirty in person, and never wash; but again it must be borne in mind, as
another remarkably well-informed and sympathetic writer[3] says also:
"When people generalize about the intense misery of Russian peasants and
the squalor in which they live they should remember that Russia is a
large country, that it possesses a North and a South, an East and a
West, and that what is true about one place is quite untrue about
another." I shall be quite prepared, therefore, to be told by people who
know Russia far better than I can ever hope to do, that their experience
has been altogether different from my own, and I shall not dream of
questioning or doubting the truth of what they say as far as their own
experience goes.

In this vast area of which we are thinking there must indeed be great
varieties of experience and conditions of life, and it is not contrary
to what one might expect to find much nearer home, that the people of
one village may be clean in their habits and those of another quite the
reverse. But from all I have seen, heard, and read the Russian labouring
and peasant class have a great desire to be clean. Nor is this a new
thing at all in the national life. It is nearly forty years ago since
Sir Donald Mackenzie Wallace told us, in the first edition of his work,
of the important part taken by the weekly vapour-bath in the life of the
Russian peasantry, and described "the public bath possessed by many
villages." How many villages of our own, even now, have a public bath?
And how many of our own peasantry dream of having what is a perfectly
ordinary and weekly habit of the Russians--the bath in his own house?

My Russian and Siberian friends tell me how they have always to arrange
for their domestic servants to get a good bath, before they change for
Sunday, every Saturday afternoon and evening. Mr. Rothay Reynolds says
the same: "My friend took me to see his bath-house. Russians are
exceedingly clean. In villages one may see a row of twenty cottages,
and, thirty yards from them, a row of twenty bath-houses. The one the
peasant showed me was a hut with a stove intended to heat the great
stones placed above it. On bath nights the stove is lit, and when the
stones are hot a bucket of water is thrown on them, so that the place is
filled with steam. The bather lies on a bench in the suffocating
atmosphere, soaps himself, and ends his ablutions with ice-cold water.
In town and country it is held to be a religious duty to take a
steam-bath once a week. Servants ask if they can go out for a couple of
hours to visit one of the great baths in the cities. They go away with
clean linen bound up in a handkerchief, and return shining with
cleanliness. Admission to the cheapest part of a steam-bath is usually a
penny farthing, but in the great towns there are luxurious
establishments frequented by the rich."

There is another custom connected with the bath which testifies to the
hardy character of the Russian _moujik_. They often rush straight out of
the almost suffocatingly hot bath which they have been taking _inside_
the huge earthenware oven that they all possess and, naked and steaming,
roll themselves contentedly and luxuriously in the snow. This, as a
writer has well said, "aptly illustrates a common Russian proverb which
says that what is health to the Russian is death to the German"--a
proverb which has had striking illustration again and again this very
winter. Probably some of my readers saw the account of the arrival at
the Russian front, soon after war began, of the bath-train which was so
completely furnished and arranged that two thousand men could have a
clean bath during the day or twelve thousand in the course of the week.
No doubt others have followed since then.

The bath to the Russian has a certain religious significance also, as in
Moslem countries; "and no good orthodox peasant," I have read, "would
dare to enter a church after being soiled with certain kinds of
pollution without cleansing himself physically and morally by means of
the bath." "Cleanliness is next to godliness" is not a bad motto for any
people, and possibly Russians will like to know that we have an order of
knighthood which dates from 1398, and is named "The Most Honourable
Order of the Bath," and mentioned regularly in the services at
Westminster Abbey.

A great sense of initiative and personal responsibility, as well as
corporate spirit at the same time, is clearly given early in life to the
peasant mind in Russia, for nowhere, I fancy, in the world, except in
countries where primitive ideas and customs still obtain, is there the
same standard of village life and self-government. There are two kinds
of communities. First, there is the village community with its Assembly
or _Mir_, under the presidency of the _Staroshta_, who is elected by the
village. He presides over the Assembly, which regulates the whole life
of the village, distributes the land of the commune, decides how and
when the working of the land has to be done; and it is specially
interesting to know that in this most remarkable and exceptional village
government of the _Mir_ all women who permanently and temporarily are
heads of houses are expected to attend its meetings and to vote--no one
ever dreams of questioning their right to do so.

In addition to the village assembly and chief elder there is also the
"Cantonal" Assembly, consisting of several village communities together,
meeting also under the presidency of a chief elder. All this is, of
course, a development of family life where exactly the same ideas of
corporate duty in its members, and responsibilities in its head, are
held.

It is evident that Russia has a great future if this view of
self-government is gradually carried upwards. The right beginning in
constitutional government, surely, is in the family, for there we find
the social unit. A state is not a collection or aggregate of
individuals, but of families, and all history shows us that the
greatness or insignificance of a country has always been determined by
the condition of its homes and the character of its family life. If from
the family, village, and commune Russian constitutionalists work slowly
and carefully upwards, giving freedom to make opinions and convictions
felt in the votes, just as responsibility is understood and met in the
home, until one comes to the head of it all in "The Little Father"; and
if he really rules--or administers rather, for no true father rules
only--just as any good father would do, Russia the autocratic and
despotic, associated in the minds of so many with arbitrary law in the
interests of a few, enforced by the knout and prison-chain, may yet give
the world a high standard of what the government of a free and
self-respecting people ought to be.

I should doubt if any peasantry in the world live so simply and frugally
or, as they say in the North of England, "thrive so well on it," as the
Russians. The men are of huge stature, and their wives are strong,
comely, and wholesome-looking also. Their boys and girls are sturdy,
vigorous, and full of life; and yet how bare the table looks at the
daily meal, how frugal the fare and small the quantity! It has been the
greatest joy to me to have Russian boys and girls, in out-of-the-way
places, to share my sandwiches or tongue or other tinned meats, when
stopping at a rest-house, and see their eyes shine at the unexpected and
unusual treat.

Black rye-bread and cabbage-soup form the staple food of a peasant
family, while meat of any kind is rarely seen. The many and rigorous
fasts of the Church make very little difference to the quality of the
food, but only to its quantity. The thanks given by guests to their host
and hostess, _Spasibo za kleb za sol_, "Thanks for bread and salt," tell
their own story of a bare and simple diet. Many of us have read in _The
Russian Pilgrims to Jerusalem_ of the sacks of black and hard crusts the
peasants take with them, which quite content them.

What a tremendous difference it must have made this winter in the
Russian food transport from the base to the front, to know that, if a
serious breakdown took place, or a hurried march was ordered with which
it was difficult for them to keep up, and the worst came to the worst,
the men would have their crusts. It has been said in years gone by, and
may be true still in many places, that the Russian peasant's ideas of
Paradise is a life in which he would have enough black bread to eat.

This bare subsistence and monotonous diet, perhaps, is responsible for the
break-out from time to time when the attraction of _vodka_ is too strong
to be resisted in a life in which there are no counter-attractions.
Counter-attractions there ought to be for a being who is created not for
work alone, but for that recreation which, as its very name betokens, his
whole nature needs if he is to do his best work. "There is a time to work
and a time to play," says the proverb writer; and if we hold that in
school life "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," we can hardly
wonder that, the world over, those for whom work is provided and play
refused will seek, as they have ever done, to make up for its absence by
the exhilaration of stimulating and intoxicating drinks. It is when
writing upon the drunkenness to be seen at every Russian village holiday
that one whom I have often quoted in this book,[4] truly says, "As a whole
a village fête in Russia is a saddening spectacle. It affords a new
proof--where, alas! no proof was required--that we northern nations who
know so well how to work have not yet learnt the art of amusing
ourselves."

As an instance of the real and natural friendliness and essential good
nature of the Russian, I may say that even when drunk I have never seen
or heard of men quarrelling. They do not gradually begin to dispute and
recriminate and come to blows or draw the knife, as some of the more
hot-blooded people of the South do, when wine excites or spirits cheer
them. They seem to become more and more affectionate until they begin to
kiss each other, and may be seen thus embracing and rolling over and
over together like terriers in the snow. If wine unlooses the tongue,
and brings out what is usually hidden away beneath the surface, it
evidently brings out nothing very evil from the inner life of the
Russian peasant.

In time to come, if all's well, Russia is to be opened up to the
traveller, and everywhere the British tourists will be welcomed, and
even though the beaten track of the railway may never be left there will
be abundant opportunities for observing the habits and customs of the
people. A modern writer who, apparently, in passing through Siberia
never went far from the railway, though he probably stayed for some time
at different places on the way, and sat in third and fourth-class
carriages even if he did not actually travel in them, managed to see a
great deal of peasant life. The railway train is open from end to end,
and a great deal may be learnt thus about the people while merely
passing through. There are also the long waits at the stations where
there are invariably interesting groups of the most romantic and
picturesque character--the women vivacious and full of conversation,
while the men stand more stolidly by, always making one long to speak
and understand their language and to know more about them.

There is a story of Mr. Maurice Baring's which illustrates what I have
already said of the way in which the Russian peasant mind begins to move
freely, independently, and responsibly upon lines undreamed of by those
who may be addressing him, and shows how far he is from receiving merely
conventional and stereotyped impressions, but is always ready to think
for himself. Mr. Baring considers it an instance of his common sense.
The reader may also have his own ideas of what it illustrates, but the
story is this:--

"A Socialist arrived in a village to convert the inhabitants to
Socialism. He wanted to prove that all men were equal, and that the
government authorities had no right to their authority. Consequently he
thought he would begin by disproving the existence of GOD, because if
he proved that there was no GOD it would naturally follow that there
should be no Emperor and no policemen. So he took a holy _ikon_ and
said, 'There is no GOD, and I will prove it immediately. I will spit
upon this _ikon_ and break it to bits, and if there is a GOD He will
send fire from heaven and kill me, and if there is no GOD nothing will
happen to me at all.' Then he took the _ikon_ and spat upon it and broke
it to bits, and said to the peasants, 'You see GOD has not killed me.'
'No,' said the peasants, 'GOD has not killed you, but we will'; and they
killed him."

It is not difficult to imagine that closing scene, knowing Russia. There
would be no excitement, but all would be quickly and effectually done.

The same writer draws our attention to Turgenieff's wonderfully
appealing sketches of country life, though not many of his works have
been translated for English readers as yet. He alludes especially in an
essay of last year on "The Fascination of Russia" to his description of
the summer night, when on the plain the children tell each other bogey
stories; or the description of that July evening, when out of the
twilight from a long way off a voice is heard calling, "Antropk-a-a-a!"
and Antropka answers, "Wha-a-a-at?" and far away out of the immensity
comes the answering voice, "Come home, because daddy wants to whip you!"

Perhaps the reader may _feel_ nothing as he reads, but all who know and
love Russia, and are stirred by thoughts of its life and people will
feel that it was abundantly worth while to write down such a simple
incident. They will understand and feel that stirring within, which
Russia never fails to achieve again and again for those who have once
lived and moved amongst her peasantry, and come under her strange spell
and felt her charm.

Gogol, the greatest of Russian humorists, has a passage in one of his
books, where, in exile, he cries out to his country to reveal the secret
of her fascination:--

"'What is the mysterious and inscrutable power which lies hidden in
you?'" he exclaims. "'Why does your aching and melancholy song echo
unceasingly in one's ears? Russia, what do you want of me? What is there
between you and me?' This question has often been repeated not only by
Russians in exile, but by others who have merely lived in Russia.

"There are none of those spots where nature, art, time, and history have
combined to catch the heart with a charm in which beauty, association,
and even decay are indistinguishably mingled; where art has added the
picturesque to the beauty of nature; and where time has made magic the
handiwork of art; and where history has peopled the spot with countless
phantoms, and cast over everything the strangeness and glamour of her
spell.

"Such places you will find in France and in England, all over Italy, in
Spain and in Greece, but not in Russia.

"A country of long winters and fierce summers, of rolling plains,
uninterrupted by mountains and unvariegated by valleys.

"And yet the charm is there. It is a fact which is felt by quantities of
people of different nationalities and races; and it is difficult if you
live in Russia to escape it; and once you have felt it you will never be
free from it. The aching melancholy song which, Gogol says, wanders from
sea to sea throughout the length and breadth of the land, will for ever
echo in your heart and haunt the recesses of your memory."[5]

[Illustration: _The Metropolitan of Moscow._]

FOOTNOTES:

[2] Just as I go to press Mr. Lloyd George has told the House of Commons
that productivity is already increased 30 per cent. in Russia.

[3] The Hon. Maurice Baring.

[4] Wallace, _Russia_, vol. i, p. 129.

[5] _Russian Review_ for February, 1914.



CHAPTER IV

THE CLERGY


The Russian Church is a daughter of the Byzantine Church--the youngest
daughter--and only dates from the close of the tenth century, when monks
came to Kieff from Constantinople during the reign of Vladimir. There
would be little "preaching of the Cross of CHRIST," I should fancy, as
the great means of conversion for that great mass of servile population.
We are told, indeed, that Vladimir gave the word and they were baptized
by hundreds at a time in the River Dnieper, and that no opposition was
offered to the new religion as the old Nature worship had only very
lightly held them, and had no definite priesthood.

The new religion, however, soon acquired a very strong hold upon the
people of all classes, and the power and influence of the Church grew
just as the State gained ever-new importance; the power of the Patriarch
increasing as that of the Tsar increased, until in a comparatively short
time the Orthodox Church stood alone, and owned no Eastern supremacy on
the one hand, nor yielded to the approaches of the Roman Papacy on the
other. By the end of the sixteenth century the other Eastern Patriarchs
recognized and accepted the Patriarchate of Moscow as being an
independent one, and fifth of the Patriarchates of the East.

This absolute independence only lasted about a hundred years, and the
masterful Peter the Great laid his hands upon the Church as upon other
parts of the national life, for he certainly had little cause to love
the clergy, and appointed no successor to the Patriarch of Moscow when
he died in 1700. It was very interesting to hear, from the Procurator of
the Holy Synod himself, M. Sabloff, when I first went to Petrograd, what
great importance Peter attached to this office when he constituted the
Holy Synod in 1721 to take the place of the Patriarchate.

"He used to say," he mused, looking down upon the ground, "that the
Procurator of the Holy Synod was the _oculus imperatoris_ (the Emperor's
right hand, literally 'the Emperor's eye')," and as he said so one could
not but remember how his predecessor, M. Pobonodonietzeff had upheld
that tradition, and, next to the Emperor, had himself been the most
prominent and autocratic figure in the whole empire.

The Procurator, however, is not the President of the Holy Synod, as the
Metropolitan of Petrograd fills that office, but he is present as the
Emperor's representative, and though all the other members of the Synod
are the highest ecclesiastical dignitaries of the Russian Church, yet as
they are summoned by the Emperor, and his special lay representative is
there always to represent and state his opinion and wishes, the Emperor
himself must have an infinitely greater influence than our own
sovereigns possess, though theoretically they fill the same office of
"Defender of the Faith." He is described in one of the fundamental laws
as "the supreme defender and preserver of the dogmas of the dominant
faith," while immediately afterwards it is added "the autocratic power
acts in the ecclesiastical administration of the most Holy Governing
Synod created by it." The Emperor must have unlimited power, typified by
his crowning himself at his coronation, in ecclesiastical
administration, and the bishops and other clergy, who are intensely
loyal, would probably not wish it otherwise; but he could not affect or
change, even by a hair's breadth, any of the doctrines of the Church nor
one of the ceremonies of its Liturgy.

Should the reader wish to know more about Church and State in Russia he
will find a most admirable chapter (XIX) with that heading in Sir
Donald M. Wallace's book. Interesting and important as the position of
the Russian Church--in many ways so like our own--is for us to-day, it
is only possible now to glance briefly at its constitution.

The clergy are divided into two classes, the black and the white, the
black being the monastic and the white the secular and married clergy.
All the patriarchs or archbishops, bishops, abbots, and higher
dignitaries are taken from the ranks of the celibate and monastic clergy
and have attained a high standard of education. All the parochial
clergy, on the other hand, are educated in seminaries, or training
colleges, but only those who show special ability go on to the academy,
an institution which occupies the same position for the clergy as the
university fills in civil education. They do not reach a very high
standard as a rule, and before being appointed to a parish must be
married. No unmarried priest can be in charge of a parish, and should he
become a widower he must resign his parish, and either enter a monastery
or retire into private life; but, in either case, he must not marry
again.

Many years ago (1890) there appeared an interesting story of Russian
life in the chief Russian literary magazine, and it was translated for
the "Pseudonym Library" in a cheap form under the title of _A Russian
Priest_.[6] It is still to be obtained, and it is most refreshing to
read again this brief story of a brilliant young seminarist going on to
the academy and attaining such distinctions, that he might have aspired
to any high office in the Church, yet impelled by his ideals, and full
of the CHRIST-like spirit, choosing the lowest grade of humble and
village life, and "touching bottom," so as to speak, in his Church's
work. As far as I can judge it describes still quite faithfully and
clearly the relations of clergy and people in Russian villages and
hamlets.

Let me now, however, speak briefly of some of the clergy I have met,
taking such as I consider fairly representative of the different
classes. I have felt myself that I have learnt a great deal more about
the spirit and aims of the Russian Church, and what we may regard as its
present and future attitude to ourselves, from knowing its clergy and
devout laity than ever I could have hoped to do by reading books about
them, or from lectures, addresses, or letters written by them.

I will speak first of the Archbishop of Warsaw, who received me at
Petrograd on my first visit, in place of the Metropolitan Antonius who
had sent a very brotherly message of welcome from his sick-room, where
shortly afterwards he died. The Archbishop Nicolai--Russians speak of
their bishops and archbishops in this way, using the Christian name and
not that of the See--is a most imposing and fatherly figure, and
received me attired, just as his portrait shows him, wearing a very
rich-looking satin robe, decorated with orders, and with a large cross
of magnificent diamonds in the centre of his black cap or mitre. He had
been in the United States, in charge of the Russian work there, and also
in England, and spoke a little English, but it was so little that I was
glad to have Mr. Feild, a churchwarden of the English Church, who has
lived in Russia all his life, to be my interpreter.

His Grace was full of interest, sympathetic and intelligent, in all that
I could tell him about our own Church at home, in Russia, and on the
Continent generally, very keen to know of my impressions, and of my
reception by the Procurator of the Holy Synod, and by the official at
the Ministry of the Interior, who is responsible for religious
administration. I shall have to speak later of the status of our
Anglican Church in Russia, and so here I will only say that it led me to
speak of the work of our Anglican Chaplain (the Rev. H. C. Zimmerman)
at Warsaw, whereupon the archbishop said at once, "Ask him to come and
see me when I am at Warsaw three months from now." I did so, and Mr.
Zimmerman wrote to tell me afterwards that he had had the kindest
reception, with quite a long conversation, had been presented with
souvenirs, and dismissed with a blessing, his Grace saying to him as he
left:--

"Now, regard me as your bishop, when your own is not here, and come to
me whenever you are in need of advice or information."

The archbishop loves to think of his pleasant recollections of England
and its Church life.

"Ah," he said, "your English Sunday! How beautiful it is to walk along
Piccadilly on Sunday morning, with all the shops closed, and no one in
the streets except quiet-looking people, all on their way to Church!"

London _is_ very different in that respect on Sunday mornings, whatever
it is later in the day, from every capital in the world. All is quiet,
and Church and worship are in the air. Then the archbishop told me of
his going to S. Paul's Cathedral, sitting in the congregation, and
enjoying it all, until it had gradually come home to him during the
Second Lesson that something was being read from one of the Gospels. On
finding by inquiry that this was so, he rose at once to his feet, and
looked with amazement upon the people _sitting_ all round him while the
Holy Gospel was being read. I'm afraid my telling him that we always
stand for it in the Liturgy only added to his surprise, for he murmured
to himself in a puzzled way, "Why in one place and not in another?"

Dear old man, he presented me with his portrait, here given, and all his
published works, and hoped, as I do, that it would not be long before I
went to see him again.

When at length the Metropolitan Antonius, after a long illness, passed
away, he was succeeded by the Archbishop of Moscow who, in his turn, was
succeeded by Archbishop Macarius, and it is of the last-named that I
will next give briefly my experience. It was on January 10, 1914,
according to our calendar, and on December 28, 1913, according to the
Russian, when I had the feeling of being in two years at the same time,
and of spending the same Christmas first in London and then in Russia,
that he received me in his palace at Moscow. Palace it certainly is in
the character and spaciousness of its rooms, but the furniture is what
we should consider, in our own country, simple and rather conventional.
The salon, or drawing-room, was very large, with the usual polished
floor and rugs laid upon it. At one side two rows of chairs, facing each
other, stood out from the wall, against which a sofa was placed, and in
front of that a table. It was exactly the same at the Archiepiscopal
Palace at Riga, where I had been a few months before, and the same
procedure was followed on both occasions.

[Illustration: _The Convent at Ekaterinburg, Siberia._]

First the archbishop warmly embraced me, kissing me on either cheek and
then upon the lips, and then courteously waved me to the seat of honour
upon the sofa. At Riga when the archbishop took his seat upon the sofa
he indicated the place beside him which I did not notice, and took the
chair. But just as I was about to sit down, Madame Alexaieff, who had
most kindly come to interpret, said hurriedly and in rather a shocked
tone, "Take the seat beside him, he wishes it," and, remembering the
etiquette of the sofa as observed still by old-fashioned people in
Germany, I did as I was told.

At Moscow, however, I was more observant, and when the archbishop
courteously waved his hand to the sofa I bowed to him and at once sat
down, but only to find that he himself took a chair next me and left me
alone in the place of dignity. It was quite in keeping with his whole
bearing and conversation throughout, for he is evidently one of the most
humble and unassuming of men. Yet he has covered himself with
distinction in the course of his long life spent chiefly far away in the
Altai country in Siberia, below Omsk, engaged in work of a missionary
character. No one is more respected in the whole of Russia. He is just
as shown in the portrait he gave me, slight and not tall, and his whole
face lights up with keen interest as he talks and enforces his words
with appropriate gestures. He was very caustic upon the subject of the
non-attendance at church of educated and wealthy people in a certain
place, which perhaps it will be kinder not to mention.

"No," he said, "they are never to be seen at any service, however
important and solemn it may be. There are none there but the same common
people who are always crowding into their churches. At least," he added
more deliberately, "if the others are there, they adopt the common
people's dress for the occasion!"

His expression and gesture as he said this were inimitable and
indescribable, and the little touch of humour made one's heart warm
towards him. He was much interested in hearing anything I could tell
him of our own Church, and delighted, in a wistful sort of way, to hear
the many details I gave him of its progress, especially in the extension
of its missionary activities and ever-deepening interest in social
questions and economic problems, as they affect the labouring classes
and the very poor. His eyes sparkled as he too spoke of the poor, and
told me what I should hear from the Grand Duchess Elizabeth, whom I was
to see that afternoon, about the work to which she has given her life
since the assassination of her husband, the Grand Duke Serge.

Like all his brethren of the episcopate he was greatly interested in
anything I could tell him of the Archbishop of Canterbury and of his
views and hopes about our own and the Russian Churches, and the
Christian Church as a whole. He looked thoughtfully down as I spoke to
him about unity and inter-communion under special circumstances, and
said rather sadly:--

"How one would love more unity! But how much ground there is to be
covered, how many difficulties to be cleared away before that can come!"

I smiled a little, at which he looked at me questioningly, and so I
said:--

"I smiled because I thought of the brotherly and loving way in which
you have received me to-day, and in which you are speaking so much and
so freely of what is in your heart, and if these kind and friendly
relations go on increasing between our Churches it will be progress such
as He must love to see Who said 'By this shall all men know that ye are
My disciples if ye have love one to another.' That will be progress of
the best kind, and, even if it is slow, I for one shall greatly rejoice
that we are moving at all in the right direction. Let us only keep
moving, and we shall arrive in time."

We talked on about my own experiences the year before just to the south
of where he had lived so long, and when I told him that I hoped this
year to go to the Altai, his own actual country, he looked as though he
envied me the journey. After embracing me again he accompanied me into
the ante-room, where a poor peasant woman was waiting to see him with an
_ikon_ to be blessed. There was a great pile of quite cheap _ikons_ for
the poor, towards which he waved his hand and said, "And I have all
these to bless also."

As I left I could only murmur to myself, "The dear old saint." He made
me feel some sense of being back at Troas or Miletum or Ephesus, or
coming out from the presence of Barnabas or Silas or St. Paul. It was
truly apostolic!

Of course the interpreter makes a tremendous difference, but again, as
at Petrograd and Riga, I had an excellent friend and helper in Mr.
Birse, one of the churchwardens of our church in Moscow, who had spoken
Russian all his life. I may add also that, as in Mr. Feild's case at
Petrograd, he enjoyed the interview as much as I did, and would probably
catch little subtleties of expression and self-revelation that would be
lost to me by the hurried kind of interpretation that was necessary.

The next great dignitary I will try and describe, though I know I cannot
possibly do justice to the dignity and nobility of character evident in
all she says and does, is the Abbess Magdalena of the great Convent at
Ekaterinburg in Siberia. The Convent is a most imposing group of
buildings, stretching along an extended front, with cupolas, spires, and
pinnacles, and is much frequented by pilgrims from far and near who come
to pray in its chapel before a famous _ikon_. The Abbess and all her
nuns wear the same kind of black dress, with cap and veil, quite black
and unredeemed by any trace of white linen or cambric. The first thing
that impressed me, even before I entered the gate, was the beauty of
their singing. The choir were practising for a service on the Emperor's
name-day on the morrow, and their hymn was the most beautiful thing I
had ever heard from women's voices. It seemed to me that all the four
parts were there. The bass certainly was, and I was told that the nuns
with deep voices submitted them to careful training until they were able
to reach very low notes indeed. There was, of course, no accompanying
music, the conductor just waving her open hand to and fro to beat time,
and the precision and crispness of the whole hymn were wonderful.

The chapel is a fine building beautifully painted by the nuns
themselves, and its services are conducted by a priest and deacon. The
deacon is a special feature in the ranks of the Russian clergy, and is
responsible for all the choral parts of the services, apart from the
actual priest's part in the Liturgy of course, and is chosen for the
beauty of his voice. If a young man has a very fine voice and is
wondering what use he shall make of it, he sees nothing at all
unbecoming or incongruous in saying that he has not made up his mind yet
whether he shall choose the Church or the stage.

[Illustration: _The Abbess Magdalena._]

When I was being introduced to the Ekaterinburg deacon, my friend and
interpreter whispered to me, "He gave up the opera to come here."
I thought, in my ignorance, that he had left the world for religion, and
full of sympathetic interest said:--

"Ask him if he has ever regretted it!" and was rather disconcerted when
he said in an off-hand way:--

"Oh! well of course I missed things at first, but I'm gradually getting
used to it."

The Abbess confided to us that sometimes from the way he offered the
incense she thought he must be thinking he was on the stage still.

He was a remarkably good-looking man with a wonderfully rich voice, and
as none of the clergy ever cut hair or beard after Ordination, and his
was just getting full, he looked a most picturesque and interesting
figure. I should like to meet him again, and put the same question, in
the hope of a somewhat more encouraging answer.

The Abbess, as well as managing and inspiring her sisters, superintends
a really remarkable work. Her revenue is a very large one, and she gives
a portion of it to the Bishop of Ekaterinburg for the work of his
diocese--he is a young and energetic prelate whom I greatly liked when I
knew him later--and out of the remainder she supports an Orphanage for
six hundred girls in the Convent. The remarkable thing, however, about
her management is its essentially practical, sensible, and considerate
character. The girls do not wear a uniform, but can consult and improve
their own taste in dress. They are carefully studied individually, and,
while all are educated in school in the same way, special preparation is
given for different callings in life according to the inclination and
aptitude shown by the girls. Many, of course, prefer domestic service as
being simpler and perhaps more in keeping with what they have known
before coming there; but the more enterprising and competent can be, and
are, taught all sorts of things which these very modern nuns do with
such great ability themselves. They play, sing, do all sorts of "white
work" for Russian and French purchasers, and are well up in modern
photography. They carve, paint, make _ikons_, illuminate pictures, and
do wonderful embroidery. There is a wide choice, therefore, for the
girls under their charge, and they avail themselves of it to the full.
Just before I was there a girl with a wonderful voice, after having been
trained, had been launched, at the age of twenty-six, upon her career as
a member of the Russian Imperial Opera.

I described this very modern work as carried out by the nuns of a very
ancient convent, on my return, to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who
remarked significantly, as I daresay many of my readers will, "And
_that_ is in Siberia!"

From Abbess let me pass to Abbot, but to a very different community. At
Tiumen, the farthest point I reached in North Siberia, and where I had
been to give services to a family living alone there, and from Scotland
originally, I went out in the afternoon to see an old church outside the
town where there had formerly been a fairly large monastery. It is very
small and humble now, I am sure, from the few we saw there, and their
neglected appearance as they went about their work in old and well-worn
habits. The church was locked, but one of their number fetched the keys
and showed us over the church, explaining their oldest _ikons_. As we
walked towards the gate and our little carriage, he was full of
curiosity about ourselves and our Church, and at last, as he questioned
me rather closely, my friend could keep it in no longer, and
explained:--

"He's a bishop, an English bishop, and he has come from London to give
us lonely folk a service!"

The effect was extraordinary.

"An English bishop! Do you say it? Only to think of it! And I in my
dirty clothes like any common labourer! And I am the Abbot! I beg of
you! Oh! yes, I must insist. Do not deny me. Enter my humble house, and
let me feel, even if you only take a seat upon a chair for a moment,
that I have entertained you!"

Such hospitable intent was not to be withstood, and willingly enough we
went with him into his small and, as he said, very humble abode, feeling
how very touching and appealing it all was. We entered, our host saying
cheerfully, "Be good enough to walk on," and found ourselves in a very
bare and cheerless-looking parlour with stiff chairs, with black
horsehair seats, round the walls, and a bare table in the centre, upon
which stood a conventional and faded little basket of wax-flowers and
fruit under a glass shade. On looking round we saw the good Abbot had
disappeared, so we sat down and looked about us, hoping he had not gone
off to order food; but in an incredibly short time, as if he had been a
"lightning-change artist," he was back again. And what a transformation!
The dirty and faded brown cassock was gone, and a flowing rich black
robe had taken its place, a black mitre with dependent veil was upon his
head, a magnificent chain and cross hung from his neck, and,
thoroughly satisfied with his change, he looked as though he were
saying "Now we meet upon equal terms!" His boyish delight was good to
see as he said:--

"Now let me welcome you and greet you!" and he kissed me as other
bishops had done.

These embraces are no light ordeal, as the good clergy never shave or
cut their hair, and are very heavily bearded. But what of that, if one
can feel as I did that day, when driving off and waving our adieux, that
one had been breathing apostolic air, and had been very near in the
spirit to "Peter and John"?

It only remains to give my experience of a typical parish priest, and
then I shall feel that the Russian clergy have been fairly described.

Upon my arrival at the Spassky Mine, during my first journey in Siberia,
in the very heart of the Kirghese Steppes, the manager told me what had
passed between himself and the parish priest, kept there by his company
to minister to the labourers in the smelting works. These were all
Russians, though the labourers in the mine itself were chiefly Kirghese
and Mohammedans.

"You will be interested to hear that our bishop is coming to see us," he
had said by way of beginning.

"Your bishop! Where from and what for?"

"He is coming across the steppes, and from London, to give us services."

"You don't mean to say so!" was the startled exclamation. "I never heard
of such a thing! Your bishop, all the way from London, driving night and
day for five days across the steppes, to give you twenty English folk
your services! Why, our bishop is only two or three days down the river
at Omsk, but we could not expect him to come here for us."

"Well, you see," observed my friend, "our English Church does not forget
her children, even if they are scattered far and wide. And we shall be
glad to see him and receive Holy Communion and have sermons from him
about our faith and highest duties."

After a moment's silence the priest looked up suddenly and said:--

"I wonder if your bishop will come to our service on Sunday and join
with us in worship? If he will address us how glad we shall be to hear
him!"

"He will certainly come, and, what is more, we will all come with him,
and we will all be at divine service together for once. Suppose we have
our Celebration at 7.30, and you arrange yours for 8.30 instead of 8.15,
and we will all come over together? We shall fill our little room,
and can't invite others; but we will all accompany the bishop to the
church."

[Illustration: _The Russian Priest at Spassky._]

Next day (Sunday), after our Communion--all the staff received it--we
went over, I in my robes, to the church, and were received by the
wardens, the choir leading off with a hymn as we entered. The wardens at
once conducted me behind the screen where the priest stood before the
altar in his vestments, with a boy server on either side beautifully
vested, the one in gold and the other in silver tissue.

After bowing to me gravely and reverently, he began the service. Nothing
is _seen_ of it by the congregation, and they hear only the voice of the
priest, and are told from the other side of the screen what is passing
within. The Russian Liturgy is full of traditional ceremonies, and
rather bewildering, I should think, to an English Churchman; but there
is no question as to the great reverence which distinguishes it. The
priest confided to his manager afterwards how nervous he felt at
celebrating with a bishop at his side, and how anxious he felt to make
no mistake. He did not show it, however, and was as reverent and
absorbed as any priest ought to be when back again in thought and word
and deed in the Upper Room, where, on the same night on which He was
betrayed, our LORD left us the memorial of His Passion and the
Sacrament of His love and grace.

It was touching also to see the little servers struggling between
curiosity and the claims of the service, but the latter triumphed; and
not till they had taken off their little vestments and stood forth in
their ordinary clothes did they permit themselves a good look at their
strange visitor, and show themselves ready to have a word or two from
him.

The priest, when he had taken an extra little service which some old men
had asked for, came over to the manager's house and told me of his work,
asked questions, and received little gifts, and told me how inspiring it
was to all the Russians to know that their English staff were religious,
as well as clever and able men, and glad to have their services when
they could.

In one way this priest was not typical, for he was paid his stipend by
the company, and not dependent upon his people. In all ordinary parishes
this is not the case. The parish priest receives a nominal stipend from
public sources, but depends upon his people for the rest. They give
small contributions on their name days--a very substantial sum is
received on S. John's Day, as a favourite Russian name is Ivan, or
John--when the priest comes to bless their house or workshop, or for a
marriage, christening, or funeral, or to give the Sacrament in illness.
There is often, usually, indeed, bargaining on all these occasions. A
portion of their fruits and crops is claimed. All sorts of contributions
are made throughout the year, and, except in town parishes where able
clergy have large incomes, given ungrudgingly by their people, the
priest and his wife are always trying to get as much as they can for
their services, and the people, who are very poor, to give as little.

This cannot lead to good relations between clergy and people, and, as
the clergy in the country seldom if ever preach, there is no personal
teaching to bring them together. Officially, therefore, it is true to
say that the Russians value and reverence the ministry of their parish
clergy, while, personally, they do not feel any great interest in them
or their families, nor see any reason why they should. And certainly, as
a rule--the fault of the system no doubt--they do not love them.

Let me now describe the service which I have mentioned upon a previous
page, conducted after the Liturgy was over and the people had been
dismissed. The priest told me four old men had asked to have a few
special prayers and a reading from the Gospels, and I stayed to share
it. The prayers were said, petition and response, by all five standing
before the screen, after which the four old men, with rough and rugged
faces, shaggy hair, and wide flowing beards, closed up together, and, as
they stood back to back, the priest placed the beautifully-bound copy of
the Gospels upon their heads and began to read. The rough faces seemed
at once to change their whole expression: their blue eyes sparkled, and
there appeared that light upon every countenance which "never was on sea
or land," or anywhere else except upon the face of one who is in
communion with God. My thoughts went back to the story of Moses as he
came down from Sinai, and veiled his face as he spoke to the people,
lest they should find there that which they could neither bear to see or
understand. One's thoughts are always going back to scriptural scenes
and descriptions when amongst the Russian peasantry.

[Illustration: _S. Isaac's Cathedral, Petrograd._]

FOOTNOTES:

[6] Published by T. Fisher Unwin, Paternoster Square.



CHAPTER V

RELIGIOUS LIFE AND WORSHIP


It is well sometimes to define our terms and phrases, and it is
absolutely necessary in this case. What is it that we mean when we speak
of the religious life of a people, Christian and non-Christian alike?
Our soldiers have been fighting shoulder to shoulder with Hindoos and
Mohammedans, whose British commander, on the eve of their first battle,
addressed them in words which ought to be long remembered by those who
are working and praying for the hastening of GOD's kingdom, appealing to
their faith, and reminding them that prayers were ascending from Mosque
and from Temple to the GOD of all, on their behalf.

The Hindoos and Moslems have their religious life as well as ourselves.
And it behoves us of the Christian Church, especially when such stirring
words can be addressed to two Eastern peoples, so widely different in
their creeds, to remind them that their prayers are going up to the same
"GOD of all," to look very earnestly and sympathetically at the
religious life and worship of all the different Churches which make up
the "Mystical Body of CHRIST and the blessed company of all faithful
people."

It is along that way and that alone--the affectionate, respectful, and
sympathetic interest in the religious life and worship of those who
differ from us and those not in communion with us, that unity lies, and
I feel sure there is no other. The religious life of a man, or people,
is his life as it is influenced by the creed he professes and the
worship he offers.

We are not thinking at the moment of a moral life, for a moral life is
led by many who, as they would express it, "make no religious
profession." It is open to us to question whether they are not more
influenced than they are aware by the religion of those about them,
which is in the very air they breathe, for there is such an influence as
"religious atmosphere"; or we may think also that they have more
religion than they suspect; but they themselves would disclaim all this.
Some live, as John Stuart Mill lived, frankly without religion, yet
leading a blameless and irreproachable moral life. Then as a contrast
there are the lives of religious people leaving as far as moral values
are concerned much to be desired, and probably, in many cases, most of
all by themselves.

Religious life, however, is creed and worship translated into daily life
and expression, effort and achievement; and accepting that definition I
unhesitatingly claim for the Russian people that they are one of the
most religious peoples in the world. Their religion is the desire and
effort to know GOD. "This is life eternal, to know GOD, and JESUS CHRIST
Whom He has sent." The Russian has not been fully taught as yet the
ethical and moral side of this knowing GOD, though he is ready for it,
but only its mystical side. He seeks the knowledge of GOD, quite simply,
as a spiritual experience.

It will always be found that when races have received civilization and
Christianity suddenly, as the Russians have done, while they astonish
and charm by their spiritual fervour and deep earnestness, they
disappoint by their want of consistency in moral life. But spiritual
fervour and great earnestness arising out of a real need for GOD and a
deep sense of His meeting that need "fulfilling minds and granting
hearts' desires," and a real sense of communion with the Great Eternal
in CHRIST in beautiful and uplifting worship, afford the best of all
foundations for building up moral conduct permanently and well.

To the Russian, as to the ancient Hebrew, moral law will only lastingly
and effectually appeal when prefaced by "GOD hath said." His religion is
GOD; the knowledge of the Most High as revealed in CHRIST. And he is one
of the most consistently religious persons in the world, for he must
have his religion everywhere, and, just as the Hebrew felt it must be,
"when talking with his children, when sitting in his house, when walking
by the way, when going to lie down, and when rising up, written upon the
posts of his house, and on the gates." The mystical or spiritual
temperaments of the two peoples are much the same. Russians have a
passion for GOD. They never want to be away from the sense and
consciousness of His presence. Only when they have gained some sense of
this spiritual endowment of the Russian race will my readers be able to
see where their religious life corresponds with our own, and where it
widely diverges from it. We have spoken of this war as a righteous war;
the Russians as a religious one! They have brought their religion into
it as they have never done into any war before. A Russian officer, for
instance, gave a very picturesque account of the great battle of the
Vistula last October, and ended with these words: "My company was the
first to cross the river, which seemed to boil from the bursting of the
shells. Afterwards nine companies rushed the enemy's position. A priest
with long, streaming hair, and holding high a cross amid a hail of
bullets, stood blessing the soldiers as they ran past." That is the true
Russian, his religion everywhere and in everything. There is nothing in
life, throughout the year, however secular it may seem to us to be,
which does not have that blessing by the priest. The war has had it from
first to last. All through mobilization, in the families from which the
bread-winner was to go, there would be special little private services
such as I have described in my last chapter. On the day when the
conscripts were to depart from the village there would be the Liturgy in
church, with all who could be present, and others outside. There would
be, it has been described for us, the solemn reading of the Holy Gospel
in the open-air, the book resting upon a living lectern; and as they
rode away the last thing the departing men would see, as with those nine
companies on the Vistula, would be the cross lifted high by a priest,
with his long hair streaming over his shoulders, or out upon the wind.

It would be just the same all through the long journeys: the sacred
_ikons_ were carried, the priest marched steadily along, or sat in the
railway carriages with the soldiers, and always with his cross. The
soldiers of course saluted their priests as they saluted their officers,
and for a time it was a little puzzling to decide how this salute should
be suitably returned in such a war as this. For a priest to raise his
hand to his cap did not seem to belong to his sacred office, and so it
was decided he should touch his cross instead. Quite apart from the
regular and official services, the priest would be always fulfilling his
part in bringing God home to his countrymen, until the very end when he
stood blessing them, as we have been told, as they rushed past him to
attack, many of them to return no more. There is something very
inspiring in the thought that the last earthly object many of them saw
as they rushed on to death was the Cross of Him Who had robbed death of
all its terrors, and brought Immortality to light.

One of my great reasons for looking to the Orthodox Church of Russia to
give us our first opportunity, in seeking to promote the larger unity of
Christendom, is, as I had occasion to say at a large public meeting in
London last year, that, like ourselves, they wish to have the New
Testament sense of the presence of CHRIST. I cannot use any other phrase
to express my meaning. It is to me the whole spirit of their worship,
not only at the Holy Communion, where one would expect it, but at all
the other services as well. Litanies form a very important part of their
worship, and as one hears that softly repeated "LORD, have mercy"
(_Gospodi pomilui_) again and again from the choir, it is as if they
were all conscious of speaking straight to their LORD with the feeling
that He is there Himself to grant their prayer. No other refrain that I
have ever heard has the same appealing note of real and moving faith.

I have attended the "all-night service" at S. Isaac's, in Petrograd, on
Saturdays at 6 p.m. It lasts two hours in cathedrals and churches, but
all night in monasteries and convents, and some of us going to S.
Isaac's for the first time would almost wish that it could be "all
night" there also. The glorious richness of the men's voices, their deep
rolling basses and sweet tenors, the silvery trebles of the boys--there
is no organ or other accompaniment--when heard as a new experience makes
one involuntarily think to one's self "I have never heard prayer and
praise expressed like this before." Whether one is behind the screen,
where I was conducted at once, or standing with the choir before
it--there are no seats in a Russian church--noting their picturesque
uniforms like those of officers, and their profound reverence, or moving
amongst the congregation, and looking towards the screen, the same
impression is given everywhere and by every one, "We are praising Thee,
O GOD, we acknowledge Thee to be the LORD. Thou art the King of Glory, O
CHRIST."

[Illustration: _Interior of a Russian Church._]

The screen separates the sacrarium from the body of the church, and is a
carved partition painted and gilded, and in the cathedrals and great
churches, is covered with silver and gold _ikons_, often richly
jewelled, and with numerous lamps and tapers burning before them. At
each side of this screen is a narrow door through which people seem to
pass at will, to and fro, for there is a great feeling of freedom in a
Russian church, and every one does just what he feels led to do. No
ladies, however, may ever pass behind. In its centre are folding doors
which are only used for ceremonial purposes, and are called "The Royal
Gates." In the Liturgy it is a moment of deep solemnity when they are
opened wide, and the priest passes through carrying the bread and wine
for consecration. This is "The Great Entrance." At the evening service
on Saturday night also there is an entrance, when the deacon
carries the Gospels through, before which the gates stand open wide for
a little while, and the congregation may look straight through.
Immediately within stands the altar, a perfectly plain, square structure
with nothing at all upon it but a large copy of the Four Gospels, and
behind it is the seven-branched candlestick. It has an extraordinary
effect upon the worshipper who has only just come to Russia when the
Royal Gates are thrown open thus, and, with incense filling the air, the
seven lamps on the great candlestick come into view. It is for a moment
as if one was back in the days of Zacharias and Elisabeth, waiting for
him to come forth through the gates to bless us, as he did on that
memorable occasion after the announcement of the birth of S. John the
Baptist. It is, however, only for a moment that the Temple fills the
mind, for on looking up the representation of our LORD is there in the
great window above, where He seems to look down upon us in love and
blessing, and "The same yesterday, to-day, and for ever," seems to have
new and blessed significance.

Russian worship to me is just dominated by the very presence of CHRIST.
All the meretricious surroundings, the lights and glittering and
jewelled _ikons_ have not the least power to diminish the joyous,
thankful sense of it. He is in the midst of us "gathered together in His
Name." Every one seems to feel it, every one seeks to realize it. They
are there for that! That is why the beautiful voices keep singing
"_Gospodi pomilui_" or "LORD, be merciful to us." We feel it is real
worship, and I can only hope that many of my readers who have not had
the joy of it in that special way may yet have the opportunity afforded
them. There are Russian churches, of course, in England, and I have
happily and helpfully worshipped in the Russian church in Paris at 6
p.m. on Saturdays; but Russian worship can only be truly known and fully
shared in Russia.

This "New Testament sense of the presence of CHRIST," as I have called
it, is no doubt promoted by the extraordinary veneration given to the
Gospels, both in their external and internal form. There is an intense
feeling of close personal attention as the deacon carries them through
the Royal Gates. They are always beautifully bound, rimmed and clasped
with gold or silver, and often sparkling with diamonds and other
precious stones. A beautifully bound copy--in ordinary churches the
best they have--rests upon the altar, in its very centre, with a silken
covering, and when the priest comes to celebrate he first kisses it, and
then, lifting it up and setting it upon end, and laying the corporal
where it has rested, with the chalice and paten upon it, proceeds to the
Liturgy. The consecration takes place on that part of the altar where
the Gospels have lain before, and where they will again be laid when the
service is over.

The four evangelists always appear painted upon the Royal Gates,
together with a representation of the Annunciation, our LORD, and the
Holy Virgin, on either side. This is never departed from. In every
church which follows traditional lines there are the four huge pillars
holding up the whole structure--typifying the four evangelists again.
Upon the roof they are set forth in the four cupolas, which are always
there at the corners, while a fifth rising above them typifies our LORD
over and above and dominating, yet supported by, them. Then there is
nothing in the ordinary services to compare with the reading of the Holy
Gospel to the people, nor is any special or private ministration
complete without reading some portion of these, the most important parts
of the sacred Scriptures.

It is easy to see, therefore, how it comes about that the Russian sense
of the living CHRIST is essentially that which is realized by His
Apostles and described in the New Testament.

Last year no less than three writers, as different from each other as
they could well be, writing of visits paid to the Holy Land--Mr. Robert
Hichens, the novelist, in _The Holy Land_, Sir Frederick Treves, the
well-known and eminent surgeon, in _The Land that is Desolate_, and Mr.
Stephen Graham, in _With the Russian Pilgrims to Jerusalem_--all alike
show us that no one had made the same impression upon them as the
Russians who had come to realize their LORD in the very place where He
had lived our human life. They all so clearly felt that those
simple-minded folk, as they followed traditions and visited one place
after another from Bethlehem to Calvary, and wept where He had wept, and
prayed where He had prayed, looked over the places and the waters upon
which His eyes had rested, crossed themselves reverently again and again
where He had suffered, and sung _Te Deum_ and _Alleluia_ where He had
risen, were looking not at the things which are seen, but at the things
which are not seen, believing with all the strength of their great and
simple hearts that "the things which are seen are temporal, while the
things which are not seen are eternal."

To the devout Russian the so-called good things of this life are
unsubstantial and swiftly passing experiences, while the great and only
realities worth thinking about seriously are those spiritual experiences
of the Apostles as they went in and out with CHRIST and companied with
Him, which are now described in the Gospels that we may have the same
"even to the end of the ages." If Russia gives, as we pray she may, a
lead to Christendom in the direction of unity, she will have a
wonderfully uplifting and apostolic contribution to offer to the common
stock of our Christian heritage.

And yet with all this wealth of very real spiritual experience there
goes also a sad deficiency of moral conduct. "But that vitiates it all,"
some of my readers may exclaim. No; it does not. We, with our very
different temperament, have come to substitute morality for religion and
the ethical for the spiritual, whereas for the "whole man," as even
Ecclesiastes tells us, _both_ are necessary. Morality is not religion at
all while the spiritual faculties are absolutely quiescent and the soul
knows no need of GOD nor cries out for Him. A deep sense of the
spiritual and a longing and effort to attain touch with the eternal is
religion, although an imperfect morality impairs and cripples the
adequate witness, the full unfettered enjoyment of it. And, as another
writer has lately done in the political sphere, I would plead for the
Russians that "they did not get a fair start."

I have already described the rough-and-ready way in which they were
converted to Christianity, never having anything like our opportunities
of instruction from the first. I have never heard a Russian sermon! The
vast majority of the clergy have never been trained to preach, and would
not be able to do so if they tried. The people are not taught at all in
church, except by what is read to them in Scripture, or what they read
for themselves. Let Englishmen give them "fair play" all round, both in
political and constitutional, and also in moral deficiencies; and let us
remember that it was to a body of real and earnest Christians--"saints"
and "faithful," he himself calls them--that S. Paul found it necessary
to write and caution against "the lusts of the flesh, foolish talking
and unseemly jesting, covetousness and uncleanness, lying and stealing."
If it was necessary to write those fifth and sixth chapters of the
Ephesians to a body of Christian believers of whose sincerity an
Apostle had no doubt, we may well have hopeful patience with a great
body of our fellow Christians whose want of consistency in conduct
provokes such ready criticism. It is well known how a mystical people
like the West Indians (I have described it at length in a former book,
_A Bishop among Bananas_, in chap. v) resent being accused of theft when
helping themselves to "GOD'S gifts," as they call them, in the shape of
fruit and fowls, when they would not dream of taking money, clothing, or
other material things, or would consider themselves thieves if they did.
And so it interested me to learn the other day that the Russian peasant
views thefts of the same kind of things in much the same way, drawing in
his mind a distinction between that which GOD gives for all and that
which man produces for himself. It is imperfect reasoning, we know, as
there is no real distinction between what a man produces by cultivation
and what he manufactures; but we can understand an untrained and rather
childlike mind making such a distinction.

The devout Russian peasantry in this stage often seem to illustrate our
LORD'S words concerning things revealed to "babes" which even the "wise
and prudent" seem to miss. Sir Donald M. Wallace again tells the story
in _Our Russian Ally_ which he told in his _Russia_--it will bear
constant repetition--as an instance of real spiritual insight in a
simple and untrained mind. "I remember once asking a common labourer,"
he says, "what he thought of the Mussulman Tartars among whom he
happened to be living; and his reply, given with evident sincerity,
was--'Not a bad sort of people.' 'And what about their religion?' I
inquired. 'Not at all a bad sort of faith--you see they received it like
the colour of their skins, from GOD.'" He assumed, of course, in his
simple piety, that whatever comes from GOD must be good. It necessitated
a very special spiritual experience and real vision before a Christian
Apostle could say the same thing, "Of a truth I perceive that GOD is no
respecter of persons"; but that common labourer in this little incident
had taken in the same wide outlook, in a perfectly normal way, from his
ordinary surroundings and the religious influences which make up such an
important portion of his life.

The lesson is learnt early. I was, one morning, in an elementary school
in Siberia, just before the work of the day began, to speak to the
children. They opened with prayer, but how different from prayers in our
own schools! The master and teachers did nothing except pray with the
rest. At a sign that all was ready a boy of twelve stepped out and took
his place before the _ikon_ in its corner, and then bowing with that
inimitable grace which belongs alone to the Russian when at prayer, and
making the sign of the Cross, he gravely led the simple prayers of the
whole school, all singing softly and reverently in unison. It was all
inexpressibly touching and appealing, and to be treasured up with those
other things of which one says, "I shall never forget."

The sign of the Cross is always made very slowly and solemnly, quite
differently from other Churches, and from right to left upon the breast,
and it is always accompanied by a slow and reverent bowing of the head,
and is repeated usually three times. It is the special sign during the
public services that a worshipper is just then feeling his or her own
part in it. People do not use this devotion at set times during service,
but just when they wish, and as the spirit moves them. I have been in
the S. Isaac's choir when all the men and boys were singing a hymn, and
suddenly a man near me would stop, bow, and cross himself devoutly, and
then resume his hymn. No one would take the least notice, but all would
go on singing as before. Then a choir-boy, after a moment or two, would
do the same, his companions continuing to sing till their turn of being
moved within came also. I have seen soldiers in the ranks do just the
same when bareheaded at an outdoor service. There is so much spontaneity
and elasticity and liberty in Russian worship. They do just as they feel
"led by the Spirit" to do.

[Illustration: _The Cathedral at Riga._]

One of the most interesting experiences I had last year was attending on
the Feast of the Epiphany--the appointed day for that and similar
services--the blessing of the Neva. The ceremony takes place just
outside the Winter Palace at Petrograd. Diplomatists and other visitors
who wish to look on, stand within at the windows, but I much preferred
to be outside, even though it was bitterly cold and we had to be
bareheaded. There was a magnificent and bewildering gathering of Russian
ecclesiastics, gorgeously vested. Priceless _ikons_ were carried, and
beautiful banners of rich embroideries, the whole effect being strangely
Eastern in character. A few only could enter the small _kiosk_ on the
river's bank where the water, brought in a silver basin, was blessed.
But the thrilling thing that day was the glorious singing, chant and
refrain, which so richly filled the air, stirring the very depths of
one's being, and the innumerable rows of deeply attentive soldiers in
their long grey coats, whose frequent bowings and devout crossings
all through the ranks showed that, though they were there officially,
they were there to worship also. The Emperor walked from the palace
amongst others and returned to it, bareheaded like any common soldier,
with a perfectly plain overcoat like the rest, and nothing whatever to
distinguish him from the crowd. He was unattended and moved quite freely
with the rest, and could not be recognized except by a few of us
standing near the door, who were already familiar with his appearance.
There was but little cheering in consequence, though he acknowledged it
in that modest and unaffected way which always distinguishes him. It was
then that I saw the Grand Duke Nicholas for the first time, the
generalissimo in the war, a magnificent man. He had certain
announcements to make, or directions to give, and his grand voice rang
out on the clear air so that every one could hear. "A real leader of men
that," one felt instinctively without dreaming how soon one would have
cause to remember the thought, under tragically altered circumstances.

We cannot possibly attach too much importance to the fact, admitted on
all sides and in the most unexpected quarters, that this great race,
coming so very closely into our lives, uniting their destiny in some
measure with our own, is above all others a distinctly religious people.
Russia, as must be ever becoming more and more evident, is to be our
ally in a way hitherto entirely unknown to our race and nation.
Thoughtful observers have seen it coming for some time, and are not
taken at all by surprise, but the idea is still new and not altogether
welcome to many. There is no doubt at all about it in my own mind, and I
shall return to it more fully in a later chapter, that while we shall
still remain the friends of France and act the part of true "friends in
need" should occasion again arise, and look with a friendly eye upon
other nationalities, and even--how much I hope it--make up our quarrel
with Prussia and the German peoples she has influenced against us, yet
with Russia our relations are already altogether different, and our two
empires are rapidly beginning to realize that they are coming together
in an entirely different relationship, to knit up true and enduring ties
of brotherly unity with each other, not for selfish purposes at all, but
for a great work together for civilization and for GOD. We Anglo-Saxons
are a deeply religious people at heart, though with our temperamental
reticence and reserve we speak least about the things of which we feel
the most. The Russians are also a sincerely religious people, and they,
on the other hand, bring out most readily, spontaneously, and naturally,
the things which mean most to them. We are unlike each other in
temperament, yet absolutely like each other in our view of the deep
things of GOD. Thus complementary to one another, we have a real
intelligible hope of a lasting friendship. We should have no hope at all
of any such tie between ourselves and them if they did not share our
serious view of human life and responsibility, and base that view upon a
firm belief in GOD. We should feel at heart that we had no real
confidence in their stability, grit, and powers of staying and lasting
out.

Surely the one thing that has come out during the war is the supreme
importance of _morale_. Napoleon went so far, I have seen it stated, as
to say it counted for an army, in proportion to its numbers, as three to
one. I remember too how the military correspondent of the _Times_, in
one of his most interesting articles on the Balkan War, when it was
drawing to a close, explained the disastrous defeat of the Turkish army
by the gradual loss of _morale_ they had sustained by the decay of
religion amongst them under the régime of the Young Turks. Prayers had
been largely given up by the troops, who no longer had the ministrations
of their spiritual leaders, and _morale_ had gone in consequence. Then
had come disaster. He contrasted with all this the tremendous fervour of
the Balkan League, and described a picture he had recently seen in a
French illustrated paper. Two French officers were shown looking at a
Bulgarian regiment on their knees, their priest praying for them and
blessing them before they went into action. "What would one of our
generals get," said one of the French officers to his friend, "if he
ordered such a thing as that?" "He would get the victory," quietly said
the other.

I am expecting great things from Russia, and for us through Russia, for
civilization and for GOD, and what I have written is being ever more and
more widely felt by others also, and even expressed in daily papers,
where at one time we should not have expected such a thing to be thought
of in the midst of a great war. "That Russia is one of the most truly
religious countries in the world is proved by the crowds which filled
and overflowed in all the churches yesterday when thanksgiving services
were held in celebration of the victory, _nor is it possible to doubt
the sincerity and devotion_ of the worshippers. The firm belief in the
divine ruling of the world is to be found among _all classes_."[7]

FOOTNOTES:

[7] _The Daily Mail_ correspondent at Petrograd, November 12, 1914.



CHAPTER VI

HIS IMPERIAL MAJESTY THE TSAR


One interesting figure has held the attention of the Continent of Europe
for many long years, appealing to the imagination and baffling
comprehension, but will never fill the same place again. Another,
however, is coming forward very possibly in his stead, without any wish
or intention of his own, and that other is the Emperor of Russia. He
will do so, I believe, just as the German Emperor has done, because
history affords him the opportunity, and because, like the Kaiser, he
too is a man who cherishes thoughts of great purposes for his people and
ideals for himself.

It affords me the greatest pleasure to write about the Emperor--he is
not usually spoken of in Russian society as the Tsar--for I shall always
feel most deeply grateful to him for his great personal kindness at my
first audience with him, and the great encouragement he gave me at the
very beginning of my work abroad.

[Illustration: _Her Imperial Majesty the Tsaritsa._]

I have already explained the quaking spirit in which I crossed the
frontier. It so happened that Russia was the first country I visited
when appointed to take charge of the jurisdiction, and, as to so many
others, there was something forbidding to me in the very name of Russia.
I knew at that time also that my visitations would bring me, as they
have done, into contact with other sovereigns, and with great personages
in other countries, and here at St. Petersburg I was to begin with the
most unknown and, as one thought of his vast empire, most overwhelming
of them all. And then--but let me describe an audience at the palace at
Tsarskoe Selo, for it will probably interest many a reader, and also
explain how very different from a somewhat perturbed anticipation was
the pleasurable reality. I have taken care to satisfy myself beforehand
that I shall not be transgressing any of the rules of court etiquette,
nor be guilty of any breach of confidence in so doing.

Audiences abroad are always arranged through the British Embassy or
Legation. Court dress is worn in Russia, even though the reception
itself is perfectly informal, but, as court dress for a bishop consists
in being robed as for Easter services, in red chimere, etc., there was
no difficulty in providing it even for one who has to carry everything
in a couple of bags, and for months at a time.

Tsarskoe Selo--"The Tsar's village," the words mean--is a little over
half an hour by rail from Petrograd, and I was instructed to start from
the Imperial Station in Petrograd, and there walked over rich carpets,
through saluting soldiers, to the imperial train, most beautifully and
comfortably arranged with smoking, writing, and reading compartments.
Upon arrival at Tsarskoe Selo imperial carriages are always waiting for
those expected, with coachman and footman on the box, wearing bright
scarlet cloaks edged with white fur and very smart cocked hats of red
and gold.

It was a typical Russian wintry day with a tremendous blizzard blowing,
and blinding snow falling. Sentries were stationed at intervals through
the streets of the village, saluting all the imperial carriages as they
went by, although no occupant could be seen; and having passed through
it we entered the park and soon drew up at the door of the small palace
where the Emperor always resides, and which, white itself, looked that
day like a fairy palace rising up amid the snow.

Nothing could be more strikingly different from that white world
without, however, than the warmth and richness of colour within. On
every side there were brilliant and unfamiliar liveries and dazzlingly
rich uniforms. An official, of huge physique, wearing several medals,
with a broad gold band round his head, from which, on its right side,
stuck out a curious bunch of dark feathers, in velvet and lace dress,
and with breeches and silk stockings--there was no one the least like
him in the crowd of attendants--at once came forward and led me away to
a dressing-room in which to leave my furs and change into my robes. He
then conducted me through one beautiful room after another, each one
richly furnished and adorned with beautiful china, paintings, _ikons_,
trophies, and presents from different parts of the empire, until at
length we reached a small room where a number of officers in brilliant
uniforms were seated and evidently in attendance.

One of them, the Conte de Grabbé, at once came forward and welcomed me,
chatting pleasantly until a servant, very quietly attired like an
English butler, came out from a room opposite and, holding the door
open, signified that I was to enter.

There was no introduction or announcement of any kind, and, as I
entered, the Emperor was already standing there to meet me, smiling
pleasantly and encouragingly, with extended hand.

"It is very kind in your Imperial Majesty," I said, "to allow me to come
and see you in this informal way."

"It is very kind in you to come and see us, bishop," he replied, so
cheerily and unaffectedly, that away went every bit of diffidence and
sense of constraint, and, to my great relief and gratitude, I found
myself talking as naturally as to an intimate friend. I say "gratitude"
because, being put so entirely at ease, able to say all that it was in
my mind to say, and ask anything that it was in my mind to wish to know,
enabled me to get a clear idea of the Emperor's attractive personality,
and even, as he spoke quite freely, of some at least of the opinions and
principles which must rule his conduct and shape his policy and
government.

"He gives you confidence," a diplomatist who had had many official
audiences with him said to me one day, and that exactly describes the
effect he produces. He talked freely of all things before the public
mind just then--of the approaching Coronation of King George, for whom
he expressed a more than cousinly regard and respect; of domestic duties
and family life as the ideals which shape the destinies of races; of
the Russian Church, particularly asking if its dignitaries had welcomed
me; of our English Church; of travelling; of my own impressions of
Russia and other things. It was quite astonishing afterwards to recall
the ground we had covered in that interview. And before I left he
inquired:--

"When will you be coming to Russia again, bishop?"

"Next year, sir," I said; "for I believe I am to go to Siberia."

"Siberia! How interesting! I've never yet been to Siberia. Then you'll
come and tell us all about it when you return, won't you?"

"I shall be much honoured, sir." And praying God's blessing upon himself
and the imperial family, for which he thanked me as simply and modestly
as any other layman would have done, I withdrew, feeling that it had
been one of the most helpful and memorable interviews I had ever had.

I have been often asked if the Emperor is not very much like our King,
and it is a somewhat difficult question to answer. As he stood there
that morning, in a simple pale blue uniform, well set up and looking
extraordinarily young and boyish, and smilingly happy--so entirely
different from one's expectations--it did not occur to me to see any
such likeness, but an old courtier said to me, in speaking after
luncheon of "the resemblance which is so much talked of"--

"There is no resemblance to be noticed when their two Majesties are
together, nor would there be any striking likeness seen between their
portraits in colours, but in photographs or anything that is black and
white, just bringing out light and shade, then the similarity is most
remarkable, you might easily mistake one for the other."

This puts one's own impressions very clearly. There is a well-known
photograph, circulated as a postcard in Germany, and from a German
negative, of which I have a copy, in which the two Emperors are shown in
conversation on the imperial yacht. Any one seeing it in English hands
would certainly think that it was our King and the Kaiser, and be quite
astonished at learning it was not.

The Emperor received me the first time in a very comfortable but simply
furnished study, and the last time, when, in accordance with his
invitation, I went to tell him about my two missions to Siberia, in his
billiard-room fitted up as a study or library, and in which he led me to
the kind of window-seat which we know so well in English country houses,
looking out upon the park. Afterwards luncheon was served for me in
the _Grand Palais_ of the Great Catherine, a most magnificent and
immense palace a little distance away, full of interesting souvenirs of
Russia's past.

[Illustration: _His Imperial Highness the Tsarevitch Alexei._]

It is well known how many and different rumours have been circulated
during the last two years about the heir to the throne, and it seems
rather a pity that the simple truth has not been announced and made
fully known from the first, for I am assured on the best authority in
Petrograd, that the Tsarevitch suffers from a skin affection not
unknown, unfortunately, to members of our royal family, which, as he is
a very high-spirited boy, difficult to watch and caution, has in moments
of exuberance and violent exertion caused him to receive injuries which
for a time have been disabling.

When last at Tsarskoe Selo, before taking my leave I took out some
puzzles from my pocket, made of wood and steel, quite inexpensive, as I
thought it likely they would be most welcome because most unfamiliar,
and handing them to the Emperor, said:--

"I have brought the Tsarevitch a present, sir, and I bring it out with
much hesitation, for it is a very simple one, and I know he must have
had many beautiful and costly gifts this Christmas."

"Not at all," he said; "we bring him up very simply, and he loves
puzzles. He and I used up all we could get, especially those jig-saw
puzzles, while he was ill. These, I see, are new."

"I hope," I said, "that he is now better?"

"Yes," he said, "he is; he's quite well now--quite well," he repeated
with emphasis.

The Emperor speaks English perfectly, fluently, and with ease, and I
have been told that it is the language most generally, if not always,
used in the ordinary daily life of the imperial family.

I have taken up some time in giving these personal impressions, but I
think it is quite worth while to do so just now as the Emperor was so
particularly gracious and kind, and thus enabled me to form some idea of
what he is, just as a man and a father in his own home; and that I know
will appeal to my own countrymen when wondering what is likely to be his
policy and aim as a ruler of a vast empire.

A man can only _do_ what he _is_, whether he be in the highest or the
lowest positions in the world; and he always brings out, sooner or
later, what he is at heart. It must therefore be a very great source of
confidence to us all just now, when we believe that the providence of
GOD has brought the British and the Russian Empires together, not for
temporary, but for enduring objects, to know, as I feel we may consider
that we do know, that the Emperor of all the Russias is a man we can all
respect and trust, precisely as we respect and trust our own
Sovereign--as one whose ideals are those of domestic duty and family
life on the one hand, and the real interests and well-being of the
labouring and toiling millions of his people on the other.

A somewhat scandalous book was written last year which I won't mention
by name, lest curiosity should lead those who have not read it to do so,
which gave a most unfavourable impression of the Emperor and the
imperial family. It was not, however, written by an Englishman; and,
without questioning in any way the writer's _bona fides_, I am bound to
say, and very confidently and energetically, that I have never yet met
one of my own countrymen who has had to do with the Emperor of Russia,
financially, diplomatically, or in audience, who has not expressed
himself to me about him in the same appreciative terms as I have here
used myself.

Take, for instance, what Sir Donald Mackenzie Wallace has written only a
few months ago.[8] "The antiquated idea that Tsars are always heartless
tyrants who devote much of their time in sending troublesome subjects
to Siberia, is now happily pretty well exploded, but the average
Englishman is still reluctant to admit that an avowedly autocratic
government may be, in certain circumstances, a useful institution. There
is no doubt, however, that in the gigantic work of raising Russia to her
present level of civilization, the Tsars have played a most important
part. As for the present Tsar, he has followed, in a humane spirit, the
best traditions of his ancestors. Any one who has had opportunities of
studying closely his character and aims, and who knows the difficulties
with which he has had to contend, can hardly fail to regard him with
sympathy and admiration. Among the qualities which would commend him to
Englishmen are his scrupulous honesty and genuine truthfulness. Of
these--were I not restrained by fear of committing a breach of
confidence--I might give some interesting illustrations.

"As a ruler, Nicholas II habitually takes a keen, sympathetic interest
in the material and moral progress of his country; and is ever ready to
listen attentively and patiently to those who are presumably competent
to offer sound advice on the subject. At the same time he is very
prudent in action; and this happy combination of zeal and caution, which
distinguishes him from his too impetuous countrymen, has been signally
displayed in recent years. During the revolutionary agitation which
followed close on the disastrous Japanese War, when the impetuous
would-be reformers wished to overturn the whole existing fabric of
administration, and the timid counsellors recommended vigorous
retrograde measures, he wisely steered a middle course, which has
resulted in the creation of a moderate form of parliamentary
institutions."

I am not alone, therefore, in the very favourable impression I have
formed of the Russian Emperor as a man whom the best of my own
countrymen may respect as one like-minded with themselves in his views
of life and conduct, and his own countrymen thoroughly trust as a
constitutional ruler who, though determined, as he will be advised by
his most trusted counsellors, to go cautiously, yet is convinced that a
good government's one and chief concern is the well-being of those who
are governed, and especially of those who form the lowest class in its
social scale.

Like Sir Donald Wallace, I too could give instances of the Emperor's
straightforward and generous action which show the essential
right-mindedness of his nature in a very striking way, if it were
possible to do so without breach of confidence. Especially was this the
case in a particular instance of which I know, when it was a question of
putting his own interests, and even dignity, in a very secondary
position. It was one, indeed, in which no great ruler could be expected
or asked to do so, but when he learnt himself what was involved he at
once did so subordinate his own interests, and has earned in consequence
the lasting gratitude of all concerned, and their entire and loyal
confidence.

The Russian people are intensely loyal, and, as the overwhelming
majority are of the peasant class, their loyalty is of that simple,
fervid, and trusting character which is seen in their family and village
life. They do not speak of the "Emperor" so much as of "The Little
Father," and that is how they feel towards him. He is the father of his
people and they are his children. If there is anything they object to in
legislation it is always put down to officialdom, just as our own
Colonies, before the days when they began to "think imperially," used to
vent all their displeasure upon "Downing Street" when unwelcome
legislation took place, and never upon Queen Victoria (or her
government), for whom they had the greatest respect and affection. The
Russian peasant too murmurs loudly at times against the governors and
their subordinates when he is requested to do something that he does
not like, but with a solacing reflection to himself that "The Little
Father would put everything right if he only knew."

There is disaffection and serious disloyalty in other quarters, and I
shall try my best to describe it and what may very possibly be some of
its causes, in my chapter on "Russia's Problem," but the dangerous
disaffection, probably already beginning to pass away, is confined to a
few of the largest towns, and does not in any way affect the
overwhelming majority of the Emperor's subjects, who are entirely
devoted to him and patriotically loyal.

This ought to be remembered also when we are thinking over future
relations between our own people and theirs. The Russians are not a
downtrodden and oppressed people struggling to throw off the yoke of a
harsh and despotic rule, but are contented, loyal, and law-abiding. They
do not, however, show their loyalty by any outward expressions such as
the "All Highest," and others with which we have been made familiar in
the addresses and letters of Germans of high rank, office, and birth,
during the war. No such terms exist or are thought of amongst the
subjects of the Emperor of Russia. The word Tsar occurs, I believe, in
the National Anthem, and Tsaritsa is used occasionally, while there is
no such word as Tsarina in the language. But neither Tsar, Emperor,
Tsaritsa, or Empress are used, I am told, amongst the ordinary people.
They speak of "_Gosudar_" and "_Gosudarina_" which mean Lord and Lady,
or Sir and Madame, and in such general use are these terms, I believe,
that a man writing a business letter to a tradesman would begin
"Gracious Gosudar." The Tsarevitch Alexis is spoken of amongst the
people by a word in perfectly common use, which is no more than the
ordinary word for "heir." Loyalty and great respect, it would seem, are
quite consistent with great familiarity of thought and expression.

The Emperor is probably spoken of more frequently as Nicolai
Alexandrovitch--"Nicholas, son of Alexander"--than by any other title,
and I feel sure that the Grand Duke Nicholas, Commander-in-Chief, and
his doings at head-quarters, have been spoken of all over Russian plains
and Siberian steppes this winter as familiarly and as proudly as of some
one who had gone from their own village. "Ah! Nicolai Nicolaievitch!
What a man he is! How well he has fought this war! How proud we are of
him!" etc., etc. I was told lately of a touching incident which
occurred at a great service in Russia (the translation of the remains of
a great saint) at which the Grand Duchess Serge was present, and, when
she arrived, had gone quietly up to a gallery pew, arranged for her and
other great ladies. Soon afterwards an old peasant woman, to whom she
had once shown a kindness, arrived, and at once began to inquire:--

"Has Elizabeth come yet?"--the Grand Duchess's Christian name--"I want
Elizabeth. She told me when next I came where she was to be sure and ask
for her. Where's Elizabeth?"

The Grand Duchess in her exalted gallery caught something of what was
going on, and, hearing her own name, at once came down.

"Here I am, little mother!" And then with "Dear Elizabeth!" the old
woman threw her arms about her neck and began her story.

Such a thing is only possible in Russia, and yet it is the one country
in the world where we have always been led to think that between the
highest and the lowest there is that "great gulf fixed," which if not
bridged over in this life by sympathy and love, has little hope of being
passed in the world to come.

Rank and position and high office if worthily filled need no buttressing
up. Least of all need those who hold them give themselves airs. Their
office is enough in itself; and last year, when I had a large party of
German youths to take about London, and by the kindness of those
concerned took them to see one or two great places where they were most
courteously and graciously received--they were the sons of working men
in Frankfurt--I was more than pleased to hear one of them say to his
friend, "I notice that in England the higher the rank the less the
pretence." So it is in Russia. The more exalted the position the more
unaffected and simple the one who fills it!

The Grand Duchess Elizabeth, daughter of our own Princess Alice, is
probably the best known and the best loved woman in all Moscow, indeed
in all Russia, and hereafter will, in all probability, have "Saint"
prefixed to her name. Many do not hesitate to use it even now. Her sad
experiences appealed most powerfully to the people's sympathies when she
was so tragically widowed a few years ago. Her husband, the Grand Duke
Serge, Governor of Moscow, had become extremely unpopular with certain
classes, and it was well known that his life was in danger; but he knew
no fear, and drove out constantly in an open carriage in which the Grand
Duchess insisted upon accompanying him. It is said that at length a
letter was written to him advising him to leave her behind if he valued
her life, and adding significantly, "We have no quarrel with her, nor
anything against her." She was, therefore, from that time left at home,
his secretary asking to be allowed to go in her place. Again the same
kind of letter was received, and he too was left behind; and the Grand
Duke, who was no coward, determined to go alone. And then, on the first
morning he did so, and not far from his own door, the fatal bomb was
thrown, and did its work so effectually that there was nothing left to
be seen! He was literally "blown to atoms." Every one in Moscow is said
to have heard the terrific explosion, and knew at once. "They have him
at last!" The Grand Duchess heard also and rushed immediately to the
scene. It may be questioned whether any other woman has ever had such an
ordeal as that to face! She had just seen her husband drive away from
his home, and in a few moments there was nothing left! I believe a
finger with his signet ring was subsequently found, but that was all.

Moscow, which had always respected and admired her, at once gave her
whole-hearted sympathy, which soon became a deep and true affection as
they learnt that she had determined to give her whole life and income to
their poor.

She founded the first order which has been introduced into Russia for
women's work amongst the sick and poor. When I was last in Moscow, she
explained to me its character, and it seemed to me to be a blend of the
Tertiaries of S. Francis and the deaconesses of the primitive church,
though the latter is the model she has wished to follow. She told me she
had ninety-six sisters in the order now, and that whilst some sick were
brought into their own wards many were visited in their own homes. It is
this visiting work that she hopes most to develop as time goes on. She
is, of course, by Baptism and Confirmation a member of our own Church,
and is full of interest and sympathy towards it, and usually attends the
Abbey service when in London, though she joined the Orthodox Church of
Russia during her married life. This, she told me, was without any
influence being brought to bear upon her, and entirely from conviction
that it was best for her own religious life in her adopted country.

She wore the simple and grey habit of her order, and it was difficult to
realize that she was a princess of the blood, and sister-in-law to the
Emperor himself, as she spoke so simply and humbly about her work, and
what she hoped still with the blessing of GOD to do. She does not cut
herself off, however, from life's ordinary relationships, for when later
at Tsarskoe Selo, I told the Emperor that I had been able to see her and
hear about her work, he said, "She is coming to spend a fortnight with
us this very afternoon."

That is what one meets everywhere in Russia, the unconventional and the
natural. The superior of a new order, which is an entirely fresh
departure, would be expected in any other country to give up everything
else in the way of social and family relationships. But in Russia, if a
perfectly natural thing like a visit to near relations suggests itself
as desirable the visit is duly paid.

It is so always! The splendid and the simple, high rank and humble birth
seem to find themselves close together, the rich and the poor unite so
easily in a common interest. "A gorgeous imperial procession was passing
through the palace hall," writes one who saw it at Tsarskoe Selo as a
specially grand function, "and two or three maid-servants appeared at
the head of a little staircase to look on, wearing print dresses. No one
told them to go away."[9] No one would think of it.

The Emperor loves the simple folk he governs, and showed it plainly
when in the earlier part of his reign he moved freely amongst them,
standing next to peasants and workmen in Moscow, when he stepped into a
church to pray. And after he returned from our own country, from the
marriage of King George, I read the other day, "somebody asked him what
had impressed him most. 'The crowd outside Buckingham Palace waiting to
see Queen Victoria drive out,' he said. 'There they waited, hour after
hour, and at last a little black carriage came out of the palace-gates.
Very few of the people in the crowd could see the Queen, but they knew
that she was there, and they went away satisfied. One day it will be
like that in Russia.'" And the writer adds: "I do not think the
Emperor's prophecy is likely to be realized in his lifetime; but a day
will come when his subjects will forget the mistakes that have been made
in his name, and recognize that they owe to him great reforms." I fancy
in subsequent editions, for his book well deserves to have them, he will
alter those words into "I feel sure that he will live to see it, and not
have long to wait."

[Illustration: _Her Imperial Highness the Grand Duchess Elizabeth--The
Friend of the Poor._]

FOOTNOTES:

[8] _Our New Ally._

[9] Rothay Reynolds, _My Russian Year_.



CHAPTER VII

A PATERNAL GOVERNMENT


Two years ago, when I was in conversation with one of our leading
diplomatists, who has a very intimate knowledge of the Russian people,
their Emperor and governing classes, I asked him, "Do you not think that
the Russian government is the most paternal in its aim and character of
all the governments in Europe?"

"Of course I do," he replied; and rather excitedly added, "But when I
even hint at such a view of Russian methods to our own countrymen here
at home they regard me as if I had taken leave of my senses, and look at
me with an incredulous and pitying eye."

It is no wonder that this should be so when our own people still, for
the most part, look upon Russia as the land of the knout and banishment,
with an oppressive and despotic government which on the least suspicion
seizes upon unoffending victims and consigns them to Siberia and the
mines, where, chained together, they drag out their lingering existence
in unfamiliar and degrading toil. No words are wasted, it is believed,
upon the weak and ineffective, but the lash comes stingingly down upon
their shoulders. Harsh legislation is the rule, it is thought, and if
perchance people rise up in masses against it, as they do from time to
time, the dreaded Cossack sweeps through the streets, and, at terrible
cost to human life, clears them. Again and again I find this is the
prevailing idea of Russia, as I am asked if I am not afraid to travel
there; and something like it, I have candidly admitted, was my own
impression before I went there and saw things for myself. But nothing
could be more unlike the actual reality.

The relations of the governing and governed in Russia are really
paternal on the one hand and filial on the other, and I hope that I may
be able to induce my readers to believe that is true of the greater part
of the whole population.

In the first place, the knout is long since gone. No such thing exists
now, except as a curiosity, in the whole of Russia, nor has it been used
officially since the days of the present Emperor's _great grandfather_!

Next there are the convicts. It is now twenty-five years since Mr. Harry
de Windt, the well-known traveller, disproved the lurid accounts which
had been given a short time before of the horrors of Siberian prisons.
In his book of 1903 he says, "I have always maintained that were I
sentenced to a term of penal servitude I would infinitely prefer to
serve it in (some parts of) Siberia than in England." When he puts these
words in brackets he is thinking, of course, of the severity of climate
and distance from frequented routes, and not of the treatment of the
prisoners. He tells at length--space does not permit me to quote freely
as I would like to do--how even criminal convicts are well cared for;
and that even the murderers and murderesses amongst them, for there is
no capital punishment in Russia, are lodged in wards which are clean and
well warmed; that there is a comfortable infirmary connected with a
prison, and even a home close at hand, supported by private
subscription, for children of the prisoners.

Mr. Foster Fraser also, in his book on _The Real Siberia_--perhaps one
of the best known of modern works on that part of the empire--tells us
that having been more "thrilled" as a boy by what he had read about
Siberian prisons than by Red Indian stories, and knowing that people,
the world over, were in the habit of saying, "Only Russia could be so
cruel, a civilized country would shrink from such barbarities,"
determined to go and see for himself, and, as is usual with those who go
to Russia full of prejudice and dread, the scales fell from his eyes
when he visited Irkutsk prison. He found to his surprise that, "It was
not the gloomy, sullen-stoned, slit-windowed, iron-barred structure such
as are our prisons at home"; and he describes at length a system which
will compare favourably with any other prisons in the world, as to
discipline, but surpasses them all in friendliness and freedom from
constraint. "What attracted me was the informal relationship between
governor and prisoners. The men talked without any restraint, made
requests and even jests." But the climax of his experiences of "Siberian
horrors" came when he asked to see the women prisoners, and was taken to
the "best house in the place," where, on going into the yard, he saw
some women "sitting about, and some children playing with a kitten."

"I'll send for the matron," said the governor.

"Is this the prison?" I asked in some amazement.

"Yes--this is the only prison we have in Irkutsk for women."

"It was just a large-sized ordinary house," he goes on, "abutting on
the street, but not a single soldier to see. I couldn't help laughing,"
he adds, for the women, who numbered about forty, and had twenty
children with them, represented offences which ranged from petty theft
up to murder, the five or six murderesses being much the same as the
others in appearance and character as far as could be seen. Mr. Fraser
felt it was absurd to call such a place a prison, and asked:--

"Do you really mean to say that these women don't go away?"

And then his amazement was complete when he was told that one had
surprised them very much, a little while before, by going off, but had
surprised them even more by coming back after a day or two and telling
them that she had wanted to see a man she was rather fond of and have a
week-end with him, as men visitors were not allowed on Sundays, the
visiting day!

It will be conceded, I think, by my most prejudiced reader, that Russia
does not seem to be unduly harsh in her dealings with even her worst
type of criminals!

Next let me speak of "politicals," as we may call them. It is nearly two
years ago since a meeting was organized in London to protest in the name
of civilization--very strong language indeed was used in the
preliminary circular--against Russia's treatment of her political
prisoners; and one who holds very high office in London, and whom it was
specially desired to have present, did me the honour of asking my advice
about attending it, as I had just returned from Siberia. I replied at
once, and pointed out how very difficult and delicate the work of
embassies and legations is made when such meetings of protest are held
in the countries they represent, and that we should deeply resent
meetings of a similar kind being held in other countries with respect to
methods of our own. We are open to criticism ourselves at times, every
one will admit! I gave it as my opinion also that the statements of the
circular were greatly exaggerated. Wishing later to be assured that this
was so, I questioned a Russian of high rank in diplomacy, who at once
said:--

"Suppose you go and see for yourself the next time you are in Siberia.
Visit any mines you wish, or prisons either, and the Russian government
shall afford you all facilities."

[Illustration: _Characteristic Group of Russians._]

This I am hoping to do this very year, if all's well, and so, though I
have seen convicts for myself in Siberia, yet what I have to say here
now is not at first hand, but still it will be on the best authority in
every case, and when I can I will give names. It was quite a
revelation to me as I listened, on my first visit to Russia, to the
statements I heard on all sides whenever banishment to Siberia was
mentioned.

"But surely you know what that means? No? Well, for ordinary political
offenders who are either suspect or actually giving offence, and making
government difficult, all that it means is that they have to go and live
in Siberia, where their wives and families follow them. Their property
is not seized nor income forfeited. It can all be realized, and so they
can live as comfortably there as in Russia. There are people indeed who
prefer to live in Siberia after they have gone there. After a few years
or so, if they like to escape they can do so, and no one interferes.
They can live where they please, but they must not return to Russia."

That did not seem a very hard fate, nor can it be said to be a very
undeserved one, for every one must feel that the government of a country
so vast is beset with difficulties and must, in the present state of its
population, be firm, and not hesitate at strong measures against those
plotting against it. I know myself, in a recent case too, which caused
much excitement in this country, warning after warning was given to
enable the offender to leave the country before arrest took place, and
even after the sentence unexpected indulgence and clemency were shown.

Let me now quote straight from Mr. Foster Fraser's book, written by one
who tells us frankly that he "went to Siberia with the average
Britisher's prejudice against things Russian, but with eyes open," and
determined to see things for himself.

"The political prisoners are given the best part of the country to live
in, namely, in the west. Other prisoners are exiled nearer to the icy
regions according to the gravity of their offence. The political
prisoners may practise handicrafts, and, by special permission,
medicine. A 'political' is not identified with the criminal any more
than a debtor is identified with a felon in England. Such offenders do
not travel with other prisoners in a gang. A 'political' may be on a
train going into exile; but no one knows it besides himself and the
members of the police travelling in the same carriage. Politicals get
about £1. 10_s._ a month from the government, but this varies according
to the district to which they are sent. Wives who accompany their
husbands are allowed 36 lb. of bread a month, but must submit to the
regulations of the _étape_. If all goes well with a 'political' he gets
permission to settle in some Siberian town with his family, but any
allowance from the government then ceases. He is just the same as any
other resident, save that he can never leave Siberia. If he wishes to
farm, the government will give him a plot of land and money to work it.
But this money must be paid back by instalments." He states, as will be
seen, "he can never leave Siberia," but what, I fancy, was really meant
by his informant was "never return to Russia." We can hardly think, in a
land where the executive is so indulgent as to allow a dangerous
criminal to "week-end" with a friend, that they will be less considerate
to a political of good character wishing to go to a better climate and
letting it be understood that Russia would not be the place selected.
There is the human touch about everything in that country of spacious
and large ideas, and it is not lacking either in the treatment of
political offenders or with other criminals and felons also.

Mr. Harry de Windt is not only explicit but even amusing and
entertaining as he tells us what he found at Yakutsk, which is quite
remote enough from civilization, on the great Lena post road, to make
one feel that the lot of the banished there must be sad indeed; but at
the same time we can enter a little, perhaps, into his feelings of
amazement when he found that "the political exiles there seemed to be
no worse off, socially, than any one else, for they moved about in
society and were constantly favoured guests of the Chief of Police. The
exiles, however, were not permitted to take part in the private
theatricals I have mentioned, a restriction which caused them great
annoyance. Their loud and unfavourable criticisms from the stalls on the
evening in question were certainly not in the best of taste, and, to my
surprise, they were not resented by the governor's staff." This incident
will show that, in Yakutsk at any rate, the "politicals" are treated not
only with leniency but with a friendly courtesy, which on this occasion
was certainly abused. Mr. Olenin, an exile whose term of banishment was
expiring, told me that he had no fault whatever to find with Yakutsk as
a place of exile, so much so that he had resolved not to return to
Russia at the end of his sentence, but to remain here and complete an
ethnological work upon which he was engaged. I don't think that
"harshness and barbarity" are words that can be appropriately used for a
discipline that permits attendances at "private theatricals" where
politicals are so much at ease that they indulge in loud and
unfavourable criticisms in the presence of the governor's staff, and go
out as favoured guests to dinner parties given by the Chief of the
Police!

A few months ago, however, I had my last and great surprise as to
Russia, in learning--what strangely enough is not yet known to many
Russians of experience and official rank--that convict labour in mines
is entirely abandoned now, and has been for some years! It was found to
be both unprofitable and impracticable as modern ideas of mining
advanced. It was clearly a great waste of time to march gangs to the
"pit's mouth," as they call it in our own mining districts, and remove
their chains before sending them down, putting them on when they came up
again. Then no blasting is now done without dynamite; and that, clearly,
was a dangerous substance to hand over to criminals. Again, they are of
all classes, and but few could ever have worked in mines before, and not
having either technical knowledge or experience, their work would be
unprofitable. Convict labour below ground has been given up for some
time in consequence. Prisoners now, when sent out to Siberia, are only
required to work above ground, though they may go into the mines if they
choose, and have fitness for the work, and can be trusted. They are all
allowed and encouraged to hire themselves out, receiving the market
price for their work, and so being able to obtain little comforts for
themselves. As far as I have been able to consider the experiences of
reliable authorities, I feel convinced that when able to see for myself
I too shall say I would far rather serve a term of imprisonment with
hard labour amongst the convicts of Siberia than in Dartmoor or
Portland. There is far more of the human touch in the former, and a man
does not suffer in his manhood in the same way there as he does in the
English, French, Belgian, and Central American prisons I have known.

How, then, are we to account for all the well-known stories of miseries
and sufferings associated with that lone, and in winter very terrible
land? Most of us read in our youthful days _Elizabeth, or the Exiles of
Siberia_, and since then have always spoken of "the Siberian mines," and
"banishment" with bated breath! How have such impressions so gained
ground that the very name of Russia has taken us straightway out of
Europe into Asia to thoughts of the severest and most hopeless criminal
punishments in the world? I should say that the explanation is to be
found, very possibly, in the methods used before arrest. What is called
"administrative procedure" has long been the usual way of dealing with
suspected political offenders. A man or woman is arrested, and without
public trial is removed to Siberia, and there required to live under
police supervision. Arrests are made at any time. "A man may be seated
quietly at home with his family, in his office, or at some place of
public entertainment, when a touch upon his shoulder summons him away."
There are no press reports of his trial or examination, which is
conducted in private, nor any appeal from it, and there have been, and
perhaps are still, cases where a suspected offender's family remain in
ignorance of what has happened to him, or where he is. The thought of
such a disappearance from the midst of family and friends is enough to
chill any heart, and even if Russia does consider it necessary to deal
thus summarily with those who are enemies of social order and the
well-being of the State, without being unduly harsh in her treatment of
them when they are exiled, one may very well hope that what have been
called the "underground methods" of her police may soon be entirely laid
aside. It is still consistent, I submit, with the aim of a paternal
government to remove at once, and with no uncertain or hesitating hand,
those who are considered the most dangerous elements in its social life,
and the enemies of its stability and well-being.

It was in Siberia, however, that I learnt the positive side of Russia's
care for her peasant and working population. There I found, as soon as I
looked into the working of a great company, that it was necessary to
have a Russian engineer, in addition to the one employed by the staff,
who is held responsible by the governor of the district for the
inspection of all machinery and the arrangements made for securing those
employed from unnecessary risk and danger. A police officer of a
superior class is attached to the staff also, not only to maintain
order, but to receive any complaints and transmit them if serious to
higher authorities. The government distinctly interferes in order to
guard the interests of its working class, and though sometimes the
presence of another engineer or the police official may seem irksome,
our countrymen recognize loyally that the government have no wish to be
vexatious, but only to fulfil their duty to their own people.

Then next I found, also in Siberia, how extraordinarily kind and helpful
all officials are to colonists, who are not always easy to deal with
when travelling or settling down in a new country. They take things for
granted and expect much, and yet are never disappointed; officials of
every class, and especially on railways, being unfailing in patience,
tact, good-nature, and good-humour. The working folk on a train, in
their third or fourth classes, are always treated with indulgence and
kindly consideration.

[Illustration: _A Group of Russian Peasants._]

I read the following in the _Statist_ last year, finding later that it
was contributed by a friend of mine:--

"Government emigration offices are situated all over Russia in Europe.
These supply would-be settlers in Siberia with information as to water
supply, timber, fuel, distances from market, etc. Intending settlers
choose some of their number, at the expense of the government, to
inspect the different tracts of land parcelled out for settlement, and
select areas considered suitable for the settlers. This may take a whole
year, and the deputed settlers return and report to their fellows. A
petition is then sent in to the government--say that 100 men want to go
to such and such a place. Then the government marks on the map that this
land has been apportioned to the applicants, and it is set aside for
them accordingly. The land is given free up to 275 acres per head. Each
man thus has his own land. He cannot sell it, and it cannot be mortgaged
either, though he get into debt. The land is his as long as he cares to
work it. For special purposes, horse and cattle breeding, the government
now permits larger areas up to 10,000 acres to be acquired, and helps
settlers in this connection by providing, for breeding purposes,
thoroughbred stallions and Jersey bulls. The government send the
settlers down passage free, and as the people are simply peasants,
doctors and nurses are provided to look after them and treat them for
sickness, etc. Further, the settlers are given in certain cases a sum up
to £20 to reach their destination. They are allowed, carriage free, to
take one cow, implements, and other goods for their purposes. The
government gives them free timber for house building, though the
settlers have to cut it themselves. Should the settlers be short of
money or funds for buying horses, ploughs, etc., they can get a credit
through the Land Bank up to £20, which they have to pay back in
instalments spread over a long period."

Does not a government which thus develops its country and moves its
working population in vast numbers from places where they are not doing
well to other places where they may do better well deserve to be called
"fatherly" in its care for their interests?

It is well known to those who have been watching Russia's progress that
she has of late, and especially last year, been drawing upon her
enormous revenues and taking advantage of her unexampled prosperity, as
one of the best-informed journalists in Europe[10] has stated, "for
public works, railways, and canals, factories, schools, post offices,
model farms and reform measures for the improvement of the lot of the
working man." It was in the interests of her working poor that one of
the most costly and far-reaching experiments ever undertaken by a
government, at great financial sacrifice to itself, was launched just
before war was declared--the legislation concerning _vodka_.

It surely is an inspiring thought that we and our new friend may tread
the path of social reform together just when it has become alike the
need and opportunity of our time! There is nothing so certain than that
it is along this path that our two sovereigns will gladly lead us. We in
our country have never before had King and Queen visiting the
manufacturing districts of their realm, acquainting themselves with
every detail of daily work, going simply and naturally into homes, and
sharing the humble fare of the working classes. We have never had a king
before--without reflecting upon any who have preceded him we may say
it--who has gone amongst his soldiers and sailors, as one of themselves,
crossing over to the front that he might see how they did, and show them
that he was determined to know for himself the conditions under which
they were so nobly doing their duty, so that they should not only have
his leadership but all the sympathy he could give them.

It has been just the same in Russia. There, at last, has come the great
departure from precedent and tradition for which the Emperor has always
longed and felt to be possible since he came to London and said, "Some
day it will be like that in Russia!" The "some day" has come at last.
One felt it when he went into the Duma last year at the outbreak of the
war, and, on his own initiative alone, addressed its members informally
on the task of serving their country together. Other things have
followed in quick succession! The Empress and her daughters became
nurses at once as soon as the wounded soldiers began to be brought in.
They wore the uniform, and were addressed as Sister Olga or Sister
Tatiana like every one else, although the Russian Court has been held to
be the most exacting and punctilious court in Europe. Again and again
the Emperor has been to the front, endearing himself to his soldiers, to
whom it is known that he equipped himself in a common soldier's uniform,
before he passed it, with kit, rifle, and boots complete, and tramped
miles across the country that he might know what it was like to be on
the march.

Does it make no difference to Ivan Ivanoff to say to himself on the
march when he thinks of his Emperor, "He knows what it's like, for he's
done it himself? Somewhere he's thinking about his soldiers, and he
_knows_." He was photographed in their uniform, just as one of
themselves, and the photograph was distributed amongst the troops. "GOD
save the Tsar!" is the one clamorous cry of the streets in Russia
to-day, we are told. The Emperor and Empress show themselves in a
balcony in Petrograd as naturally as King George and Queen Mary show
themselves at Buckingham Palace when the crowd ask for them.

Such a thing has never been seen, or even thought of, before in Russia.
The last time the Emperor came up from the Crimea to the capital, there
were soldiers within speaking distance of each other along the entire
length of rail, keeping watch and guard. Soon he will go about
unattended, and without escort; and as it was with Queen Victoria, so
"it will be like that in Russia."

Again, I want to dwell upon this link between us, and its tremendous
promise for the future. The two greatest rulers in the world, closely
and affectionately related, have the same ideals of what rulers should
be, and want nothing better than to lead and serve their people; and
GOD, in His providence, has given them at the same time both the power
and opportunity for doing this splendid work together.

Never, probably, has the monarchical principle, in its best aspect, been
so intelligently accepted in both empires as now. A near relation of the
Emperor's, though much his senior, was telling me once of a recent visit
he had paid to England, and of some of his experiences in the East End,
where, under the guidance of a detective, he had visited some of the
worst haunts.

"And do you know, bishop?" he said, "I learnt from that detective that
everybody in London showed their respect for King Edward, at his death,
by going into mourning; and the very thieves _stole_ black to mourn him
with the rest! There's the monarchical principle, going down even to the
lowest classes in the nation!"

"But, sir," I ventured, "I don't think that men of that class would be
thinking of him as a ruler, but as a sportsman."

"No! no!" he maintained. "It was the monarchical principle going down to
the very lowest of the people!" And I am sure he thinks so, and tells
the story to enforce it.

There can be no doubt that the monarchical principle, as we understand
it, makes rapid progress in Russia. The Emperor has always been an
autocrat, but his worst enemy could not accuse him of ever having been
merely despotic; and surely, though gradually, he will be less and less
an autocrat, and more and more constitutional in his rule. He meets the
needs and satisfies the ideals of his people, as he embodies in his
person government and rule. If any one thinks that Russia has a seething
revolutionary spirit longing for expression and an outlet, I can't help
feeling that they are utterly and entirely mistaken. Serious discontent
and unrest prevail; but, as I will try and show later, it is directed
against the social order rather than against the Emperor himself. Plots
to kill him have been plots to overturn the social order, and nothing
more.

Even political exiles in Siberia never blame him for their condition, as
Mr. de Windt tells us: "I never once heard members of the imperial
family spoken of with the slightest animosity or disrespect; and once
when the Emperor was mentioned one of the exiles burst out with a bitter
laugh--

"'The Emperor! You may be quite sure the Emperor does not know what goes
on, or we should not be here a day longer.'"

The people are wholly loyal, and regard their ruler as embodying a
government which is in their own interests as being his children. There
can be no doubt that this is the feeling throughout the empire, however
difficult it may be for some classes in our community to believe it.

For instance, as it has been pointed out,[11] "When not long ago in the
House of Commons it was debated whether or no the King should pay a
visit to the Emperor of Russia, and some one suggested that were the
visit to be cancelled the immense majority of the Russian people would
regard it as an insult, and that the Russian peasants bore no ill-will
towards the Emperor, but rather complained of the results of a system of
government which in the last few years has undergone, and is still
undergoing, radical change." When such arguments were brought forward
some of the Labour Members nearly burst with ironical cheers. Here, they
thought, was the voice of officialdom, Torydom, and hypocrisy speaking.
Now turn to the facts. When Professor Kovolievski was elected a member
of the first Duma in the government of Karkov as an advanced Liberal
Member, he, after his election, asked some of his peasant electors
whether he was not right in supposing that had he said anything
offensive with regard to the Emperor at his meetings there would have
been no applause.

"'We should not only have not applauded,' was the answer, 'but we should
have beaten you to death.'"

There is nothing of the merely sentimental in this feeling that their
government is, and ought to be, paternal in its character. Every Russian
peasant drinks it in from the first, for he gets his training in the
_Mir_ of his native village. It is there he learns what family and
social rule really mean, and they are identical. His home is ruled by
his father, the village by the elder; and everything is as
constitutional and as democratic as it can be, or is anywhere else in
the world. The children have their rights, but look up to and obey their
father. They are free and responsible in village life, but yield to
their elders. It is natural, therefore, and no other view is even
possible, for men brought up in such surroundings to look outside the
village and regard the State as a whole in the same way. There too they
feel that they have full rights, and yet are under a firm, unquestioned,
and paternal rule--the rule of him who, while rightly called their
Emperor, yet is better known to themselves and loyally loved as their
"Little Father."

FOOTNOTES:

[10] Dr. E. J. Dillon.

[11] The Hon. Maurice Baring.



CHAPTER VIII

THE STEPPES


Amongst all the interesting experiences of an unusually varied and
adventurous life, since, in the very middle of my Oxford course I had,
for health's sake, to spend a couple of years ranching in the River
Plate, my long drives across the steppes stand out in bold and pleasing
relief.

They were necessitated by a Mining Camp Mission in Siberia, for the
steppes form a large part of the eastern portion of the Russian Empire,
and do not belong to Russia proper at all, lying beyond the Volga and
the Urals. It is in that part of Asiatic Russia that the development of
the empire's vast resources is taking place with special rapidity, and
our own countrymen are bearing a hand in it and playing no unworthy
part.

I believe the word "steppes" is given to that undulating but level
country in the provinces of Ufa and Orenburg, about two days' and two
nights' journey by train east of Moscow, inhabited by the Bashkirs,
the descendants of those Tartar hordes who nearly overwhelmed Russia at
one time, and possibly Europe itself, and were called for their
relentless cruelty "the Scourge of GOD."

[Illustration: _Consecration of Burial Ground in the Siberian Steppes._
(See page 178.)]

They are a fierce-looking race, even now, though peaceable enough, and
it seems strange to find them so near to Moscow still, and to see them
at their devotions when driving past their mosques on a Friday. They are
great agriculturists, and a delightful sight is presented by their vast
tracts of tender green wheat and oats shooting up as soon as the winter
is over, and even while, in out-of-the-way hollows, snow still remains.
The earth is black and very rich in character, and the seed, sown often
before the end of September, lies nearly seven months under the
protecting and fertilizing snow. As soon as this has gone and spring
comes, the young crops shoot up with amazing speed and strength. Late
frosts are terrible disasters, of course, under such circumstances.

But the _real_ steppes, which resemble the veldt of Africa, or the
pampas of South, and the prairie of North America, are those vast level
plains, partly agricultural, partly pasture, and partly scrub and sand,
which lie another day and night still further east, and extend for
thousands of miles to the south till they reach nearly to the borders
of Turkestan. These are the steppes I know best. There is also a
pastoral steppe of large extent and of agricultural character just above
the Black Sea.

If the reader will refer to the map he will see what a huge portion even
of the great country of Siberia is taken up by the Kirghiz Steppes, and
as they are extraordinarily rich in minerals, so far as one can judge
from enterprises already successfully started, produce large crops, and
sustain innumerable flocks and herds, it will be seen how much they are
likely to count for in the progress of Russia. The Kirghiz, familiarly
called the "Ks" in the mining camps, are a Tartar race, like the
Bashkirs, and, like them also in religion, are Mohammedans; but while I
saw mosques amongst the Bashkirs filled with praying congregations, I
never saw either mosque or prayers amongst the Kirghiz, nor their women
veiled. They are small in stature, very strongly built, rather like the
Japanese, and splendid horsemen. A Kirghiz when mounted seems part of
his horse as he dashes across the steppes at full speed with the merest
apology for reins and bit, ready to pull up in the twinkling of an eye.

They struck me always as very friendly, though I have read that others
have not found them so.

That they are very hospitable every one admits. A traveller, it is said,
can go thousands of miles across the steppes without a rouble in his
pocket, and want for nothing. Everywhere he will be hospitably
entertained. A Russian, of course, asks nothing better than to have a
guest, and considers himself honoured in being asked to take him in for
a meal or for the night; and the Kirghiz are Eastern in their reception
of guests as well.

In the steppes governments of Ufa, Orenburg, and Akmolinsk the
population must be nearly seven millions, of which the great majority
are the nomadic Kirghiz, living in tents in the summer, and taking their
flocks and herds away to the south and into villages, where they can
have roofs and walls during the seven months--at least!--of terrible
winter.

The tent is a most comfortable abode, though not much to look at from
outside. It has a wooden floor, with a rug or skins upon it, is circular
in its area, but has no pole of any kind, being built up very neatly and
ingeniously upon a framework of canes and laths until it is in shape
like a well-spread-out low and evenly-rounded haystack. It has a movable
top in its centre, which affords ample ventilation. Inside it is lined
with felt, which has often prettily embroidered draperies fastened upon
it; and outside the canework it is well covered over with stout canvas
securely lashed into its place. It will be seen that no obstacle is
presented to the strong winds which continually blow over the steppes,
as there are no "corners" such as are spoken of in Job i. 14, which
shows us that tents were raised upon four poles in early Israelitish
days as they are still amongst the Bedouin tribes of North Africa and
Arabia.

The beautifully and symmetrically rounded _uerta_, as the Kirghiz tent
is called, receives every wind that sweeps over it, and never makes the
slightest movement. At least twenty people could be, and often are,
gathered inside when some festivity is afoot, though each family as a
rule has its own tent. They are extremely attractive, and when I once
went to see an American family, engaged in preliminary mining work, I
found them with one of these tents for their living-room, set up with
sideboard, dining-table, easy-chairs, etc., and another opposite to it
fitted up as a most comfortable bedroom with brass beds and all the
usual furniture, the little cookhouse also being not far away. Breathing
in the marvellous air of the steppes, I thought I had never seen the
"simple life" presented in a more alluring form. I have longed, indeed,
ever since to have a month of it some time, and get as close to
Mother Nature as it is possible to do in these busy days.

[Illustration: _Outside a Kirghiz Uerta._]

The descendants of Jonadab knew what they were about, and what was good
for them, when they determined to keep to their pastoral life, and hold
on to all their tent-dwelling traditions; and as for wine, no one need
ever feel the need of such a stimulant in the invigorating air of those
great plains.

Amongst the Kirghiz one feels an extraordinarily biblical atmosphere,
and is back again in the days of Abraham and the patriarchs, and the
"women in the tent," of whom Jael sang after the great victory. The men
are attired much as Isaac and Ishmael, and Jacob and Esau were, and the
women very probably keep the traditions of thousands of years in wearing
their pretty nun-like head-dresses of white, which leave their pleasant
faces free and uncovered.

These Kirghiz hardly ever use money. They grow "rich in many flocks and
herds," and if they sold would immediately buy again. Some of them,
however, are very well off, and I was told that one, who lived simply
with his wife in a _uerta_ on the steppes, had sent his only son to
complete his education in Paris, and get a medical degree at its
University. For this he would have to sell off some of the increase of
his flock, and send the proceeds to his son.

Let me now explain how I came to be amongst these tent-dwelling folk at
all. During my first visit to Petrograd I was asked one evening by a
member of the Russia Company if I could appoint a chaplain to go out to
Siberia once a year or so, and visit the scattered little groups of our
own countrymen who are there, but, at that time, had never seen a
clergyman nor had a service since coming into the country.

"There are unbaptized," he said, "and unconfirmed, and even those who
need to be married with the service of their Church, who through no
fault of their own, but through circumstances, have had to go without
it. There are people who have been in Siberia all their lives, and some
who have been there forty and fifty years, and never once had any
ministration of their Church. Can nothing be done?"

This, of course, was a strong and direct appeal, and, after considering
for a short time, it seemed impossible to appoint a chaplain for work of
which one knew nothing, and so I proposed to go myself, which I found
later was what it was hoped and expected that I should do. Accordingly
in 1912 and again in 1913 I carried out this intention, and found that
it practically took the form of a Mining Camp Mission; for, though I
visited one or two other British communities, yet the most interesting
part of both years' experiences was in going to the mines situated,
except in one case, in the very heart of the steppes. Each, though
employing thousands of Kirghiz and Russians, is managed by a British
staff of between twenty and thirty, and is the property of a British
company with its board of directors meeting in its offices in London.

I will describe two of these journeys, for without knowing something of
the steppes and of those who live there, and indeed taking in something
of their spirit, it is impossible to feel that one really knows Russia.

Four days and nights from Moscow brings one to Petropavlosk (Peter and
Paul's town), and it is from there, in a southerly direction at first,
and then heading towards the east, that the great Spassky Copper Mine is
reached, for which a drive of a thousand miles, there and back, is
necessary. I had not realized till just before I set out that I should
have to drive on day and night without stopping for anything but food
and to change horses, as there were no Russian rest-houses on that
route, and the Kirghiz tents were impossible owing to the great number
of living beings, other than human, which inhabited them. It was no
light thing to undertake, as it meant leaving on Tuesday and getting in
late on Saturday evening, and this only if all went well. Some people
can sleep under such conditions during the night. I don't know how they
possibly can, for there are no roads in any true sense of the word, and
none of the vehicles which cross them have springs.

The manager of the mine had kindly sent down the usual _tarantass_,
which, hooded like a victoria, is a very stout cart, lashed securely
upon poles, and drawn by three horses or _troika_. There is no seat
inside, but hay is placed over the bottom, and pillows and cushions on
the top, and there one reclines during the day, and lies down at night.
It all sounds very comfortable and even luxurious, but as there are no
roads, and only the roughest of tracks with fearful ruts and soft places
where water lingers, with sometimes a sloping bank down to a stream,
and, as the wild driver keeps his horses at their full speed, one is
hurled violently and roughly about the whole time, sleep, for me at
least, is beyond my wildest hopes from start to finish.

[Illustration: _Tarantass with its Troika for the Steppes._]

For the first day or so I had the greatest difficulty to avoid biting my
tongue in two as I was thrown about and it came between my teeth, and I
used to look with amazement and envy at my Kirghiz conductor, on the
box beside the driver, swaying about in all directions like a tree in a
hurricane, but sound asleep. His name was Mamajam, and on our arrival he
brought his little daughter Fatima to see me, and another youth named
Abdullah, completing the Arabian Nights impression he had already given
me.

There is no regularity in the arrangements for changing horses along the
steppes. Sometimes one would drive about twenty _versts_ (twelve and a
half miles) and then change, while at others we would go on as far as
sixty, or even eighty, _versts_ (fifty miles) without any change at all.
The horses are very strong and hardy, and are never allowed either food
or drink until the journey is over; and, with the horses, the driver is
changed also, as every man brings and understands his own. It was a
wonderful study in character, temperament, and dress, for the men were
extraordinarily different from each other, though all most attractive
and interesting; the Kirghiz more so than the one or two Russians we
had.

We carried our food, chiefly tinned, with us, but there was an abundance
of eggs, butter, and white bread always to be got, and, most welcome
sight, always the steaming _samovar_, with its promise of cheering and
comforting tea. It is astonishing how one's ordinary food can be cut
down in quantity when necessary. We gradually came down to two meals a
day, and on the return journey these only consisted of eggs, bread and
butter, and tea; and yet the simple life and magnificent air made one
feel always extraordinarily fit and well and in good spirits.

The steppes, though vast solitudes as far as human habitations are
concerned, are full of life and movement, and the most is made of the
short summer. Caravans are continually meeting the traveller as he goes
south or north, or crossing his route from east to west, or west to
east, carrying tea from China, timber and other articles of commerce,
travellers from town to town, or from one village to another, or a
little band of colonists seeking land upon which to settle, or herdsmen
in charge of sheep, oxen, or horses. Perhaps one's driver catches sight
of another _troika_ going in the same direction, and with a shrill cry
urges on his team; the other, nothing loath, joins in, and for a quarter
of an hour there is a most thrilling race. There is never a dull moment
night or day, though perhaps the most inspiring times are those when one
has just changed horses, and has a wild young Kirghiz on the box who,
seeing an opportunity of showing off, stands up whirling his whip and,
shrieking, yelling, whistling, like a demon, urges his horses to their
utmost speed, making the dust and earth fly in all directions. It makes
one feel that it is good to be alive.

The air is most transporting at that height, four thousand feet above
sea-level; the whole steppes in the early summer are strewn with
flowers, larks are singing overhead, streams are flowing on every side,
there is a clear horizon as at sea, though now and then there is hilly
ground, the sky is ever delightfully blue and without a cloud, and the
sun shines brightly, though not too fiercely, from morn till eve.
Nothing could be more delightful than that first experience, especially
as one thought of the object of one's journey and the services of the
coming Sunday. Then the wonderful nights, beginning with the sweet,
bell-like sounds of the innumerable frogs after the birds had ceased. As
I did not sleep I saw and enjoyed all that the nights had to give, and
we had the full moon. First the golden sunlight gradually died away and
the silvery light of the moon appeared, that in its turn, after what
seemed an extraordinarily short time, giving place to the dawn, which
shows itself sometimes more than an hour before the actual sunrise.
Night on the steppes, like the day, is also full of movement, for many
of those who travel long distances prefer to let their horses and
bullocks feed and rest during the long day, when they enjoy their
pasture best, getting their own rest also at the same time, basking in
the sun, and continuing their journey through the night, which is never
really dark.

My second night out, just after midnight, I was startled at seeing a
camel come into view in the moonlight on my right, going in the opposite
direction and dragging a small cart, but making no sound upon the grass.
It looked quite spectral in the moonlight, and was followed by another,
and yet another; then came a bullock, then a horse or two, one after
another, then more camels, all with carts and in single file. Not a
sound could be heard, and only at intervals men walked beside them. It
went on and on, the strange, silent procession, and I could not think
what manner of caravan it could possibly be. All the carts were small,
carefully covered over, and evidently had small loads, though requiring
powerful creatures to draw them; and then all at once I understood. It
was smelted copper being taken down to the railhead from which I had
come, and from the mine to which I was going! I then began to count how
many had still to pass me, and reckoned up a hundred and six, so that
there must have been nearly three hundred in all. They take three months
to go down, load up with stores, and return, and yet I was told that
such transport was cheaper than sending by rail will be when that part
of the government of Akmolinsk is connected with the great
Trans-Siberian line running from Petropavlosk both to Moscow and
Petrograd.

Another time I should take the opportunity afforded by a pause when
changing horses in the night to get a few hours' sleep in the
_tarantass_ in the open air, which would, of course, make all the
difference, and which would then be quite possible. But if I had done it
on this occasion I should have had to lose a Sunday instead of arriving
on the Saturday evening. I was well repaid, for though nothing more than
a notice was sent quickly round, "The bishop has come, and there will be
services at the manager's house to-morrow at half-past ten and at six,
and Holy Communion at half-past seven," yet at half-past seven every one
of our countrymen was there and received Communion except the wife of
one member of the staff ill in bed. The manager's two little boys were
there to be present at the first early Anglican celebration of Holy
Communion ever taken beyond the Urals. A beautiful _ikon_, flowers, and
two lights adorned the temporary altar. Others than our own countrymen
attended the other services. It was a glorious day to have, including
as it did attendance at the Russian Church in the morning when our own
service was over.

This great mining property includes Karagandy, where the coal is, and to
which I came first; Spassky, where the smelting-works had been set up,
some forty miles further on; and Uspensky, where the mine itself is,
some fifty miles further still. From Spassky I went to Uspensky by
motor-car, and spent three days there with the foreman of the mine and
his family. I went down the mine also to make acquaintance with the
Kirghiz who are at work there, and knocked off for myself some specimens
of the rich ore.

The foreman and his family--two girls and two sons of between twenty and
thirty--had been in New Zealand, in the Backs, and it was no new thing
for them to have a bishop stay and give them services. The wife was a
particularly good and devout woman, and in all the years she had been
there had never once had the happiness of attending a service of her own
Church. The two young men were shy fellows, but the manager having first
prepared the way, I took them in hand, and, finding they were ready to
come to a decision in life, instructed and confirmed them. On these
missions, as with Philip and the eunuch, we cannot lose such
opportunities; and I shall not forget the Celebration, early on the day
I left, when that whole family received Communion together. I know what
a joy, such as she had never expected, it was to that good woman thus to
have family unity; and, as she died suddenly before the year was over, I
shall always feel that my long journey across the steppes was fully
worth while if it were only for the happiness it had brought her in
enabling her for once in her life to receive Communion with all the
members of her family.

I had another most interesting experience before leaving Spassky and the
Akmolinsk Steppes. Some little time before my arrival, two of the staff
had lost their lives in the smelting-works and been buried in a little
plot of ground with two monuments placed above them. One of the
memorials was of pure copper, the other of stone, and there was a wooden
railing round the small enclosure. The manager asked me to consecrate
this little plot of ground with a larger space added to it, so that they
might have their own little GOD'S acre.

As soon as the Russian priest heard that this was to be done he
immediately asked if he and his people might be present and share in the
service? And to this, of course, we readily agreed. It was impossible,
however, to draw up any joint service, as we were ignorant of each
other's language, so I arranged that he should say a few prayers first
and that I should take our own service afterwards. This he was very glad
to do, and, robed in his vestments as for the Liturgy, he prayed for the
departed, singing with his people, present in great numbers, a touching
little litany, and finishing with the offering of incense. As I looked
at all those fellow Christians of ours and their priest, and then
outside at the great circle of the vast steppes stretching away in all
directions, so suggestive of greatness of spirit, I felt most deeply
moved as I took the censer from him and, offering the incense as he had
done, led the way, censing the boundaries of the new burial-ground
marked out by stones. Our little community followed singing, "O GOD, our
help in ages past," every line of which helped us all to realize a
little at least of that large-hearted view of life and of death which no
other passage of Scripture gives us with the directness and grandeur of
Psalm xc.

The people looked on at this simple little procession with the closest
attention and sympathy, and then, after an address--an entirely new
experience for them in a religious service--I proceeded to the
consecration of the ground. I should fancy it is the only instance, as
yet, of clergy of the two Churches actually sharing a service together;
and that was especially in my mind as I took the good priest's censer to
offer, just as he had done and from the same censer, "an oblation with
great gladness," feeling to the full "how good and joyful it is for
brethren to dwell together in unity." I should say of that service also
that it was quite worth while taking that long journey across the
steppes to have it.

The prevailing idea of Siberia in this country is, as we all know, that
it is a terrible waste of ice and snow, a land of mines and of convicts,
ravaged by packs of wolves; and this is not at all an incorrect
impression of the greater part of it and for the longest period of the
year. All that is wrong in the impression is that it leaves out the five
months of the year in which there is the glow and charm of the tropics,
with growth and upspringing life and beauty on every hand. The steppes
are a paradise of singing birds and blooming flowers and flowing
streams, where the air is joyous to breathe, invigorating, quickening,
and inspiriting beyond description. These are the Siberian Steppes I
have known and traversed and loved, and long and hope to see again.

But I am keenly alive to all the real and ever-present sense of peril
which the winter brings with it as soon as it comes, and which it keeps
steadily before the mind till it is over for all who have to meet it and
struggle against it. I have heard men speak of the terrible blizzards
and the appalling cold; of the deadly gloom, when the air is so full of
snow that they can hardly see a hand before their faces, and they wander
uncertainly for a whole day and night together until they give
themselves up for lost, to find after all, when the storm is over, that
they are only a few yards away from their own doors, or in the middle of
the street from which they had started.

They instantly drop their voices on the Kirghiz Steppes when they begin
to speak of winter, and on some faces there comes at once that beaten
look which, whenever it appears, is testimony that the man has measured
himself against the sterner forces of Nature or of human life, and has
failed.

[Illustration: _Inside a Kirghiz Uerta._]

Tolstoi's _Master and Man_ gives a very clear and convincing account of
what a snowstorm may mean for even experienced travellers. There the
scene is laid in Russia, and between one village and another in a
country often traversed; but the vast spaces of Siberia in that long,
gloomy winter must be specially fraught with dangers and terrors during
those swiftly rising and deadly _boirams_, as the wind-storms are
called, which completely obliterate all landmarks while they last, and
which are not to be met with anywhere else in the inhabited parts of
the world. At Spassky they told me of a Kirghiz horseman who had been
found one morning, during the preceding winter, just outside his home,
horse and rider rigid in the snow and frozen stiff, both of them dead
for hours. They had struggled against the _boiram_ as long as they
could, the man probably urging on his horse to the last, and both giving
up the struggle together as the awful frost took possession of them, so
swiftly that there was no falling off for the one nor sinking down for
the other. And, if they had only known it, or the blinding storm had
permitted them to see, they were at the very door of their home and
within reach of warmth and food and shelter.

I remember once saying to friends that I supposed when travelling in
winter they could make themselves very comfortable by packing themselves
in with "hot-water foot-warmers." "Hot-water foot-warmers!" they
exclaimed. "Why, the frost would have them and destroy them completely
almost before we had left the door."

Then the wolves are there also! Siberia has not changed in that respect
from the weird land of which we have read as long as we can remember,
and is still the haunt of the most fierce and untiring enemies which
man and beast alike have to fear when they are the hunters and not the
hunted. The fair Siberia of the glorious summer knows no wolves. Then
there is food enough and to spare always within reach, and there are
homes and family life even for wolves to think of and be happy about.
There is no need then, though they are gregarious by nature, for them to
join together. Each can fend for himself, and have enough for all his
family and to spare. Not a wolf is to be seen except very rarely, and
the traveller never even thinks of them with fear as, singly, sleek, and
well fed, they slink away immediately as soon as seen. It is altogether
different when winter comes, and hunger, even famine, gets a grip upon
them because so many other creatures are hibernating. Then the quarry
must be of different character, and nothing is too strong or big for a
huge pack well led. Once they have been driven by stern necessity to
combine together and choose their leader they will stick at nothing and
attempt almost anything.

A friend of mine, born in Petrograd, tells us of an old travelling
carriage of his father's, in which he and his brothers and sisters, when
children, used to play.

"It was raised very high from the ground," he says, "only to be reached
by a small ladder, so as to be out of the reach of wolves."

Just the same stories are told after every winter as those of which we
have so often read in prose and verse; and, out of the many told me as
happening quite recently, I select the following:--

Three winters ago a wedding party went from their village, in the Altai,
where the ceremony had taken place in the morning at the home of the
bride, to the village where the bridegroom lived, and to which he was
now taking back his newly-wedded wife. They were a hundred and twenty in
number, and made a large party, with their horses and sledges, and were
not afraid; but an unusually large pack of wolves was out that
afternoon, and, soon scenting them, gave chase. Party after party were
overtaken, pulled down, and, with horses as well, devoured. The bride
and bridegroom and best man were in the front sledge with good horses,
and kept ahead till they were quite close to the village, when they too
were overtaken by a few of the strongest and swiftest of their pursuers.
To save themselves the bridegroom and best man threw out the bride, and
thus stopped the pursuit for a time sufficiently for them to gain the
village. It was a shocking thing to do, but when the villagers began to
question and help them out the awful explanation was forthcoming! The
two men had gone mad with fright, and had not known what they were
really doing. In that terrible hunting down, with the shrieks and
despairing cries of their friends, as they were overtaken, ever ringing
in their ears as they urged their own terror-stricken horses forward, it
is little wonder that their minds gave way.

Let there be no mistake, therefore, about the steppes. The reader may
keep the new impression (if it is new) that I have endeavoured to give
of a most beautiful, rich, and fertile country; and which I am hoping to
be visiting again while this book is being read, finding, I hope, this
country of the wolves story rejoicing in all the glow and beauty of
summer. But still, for nearly seven months of the year, that Siberia is
the old Siberia still, fast bound in the grip of an appalling frost,
waging, in its storms, a never-ceasing battle against human enterprise
and effort; and the haunt of those insatiable and savage creatures which
seem to stand out from all other creatures in being devoid, when in
packs, of all fear or dread of man.

The steppes above Turkestan, which I visited last, are milder in climate
than those of Akmolinsk. Great parts of them are sand, with a sage-like
scrub, dear to the heart of camels; and they have a drier and even more
invigorating air than that of the northern plains. Across these I
travelled my five hundred miles in a Panhard motor-car, with a wild
Russian chauffeur who knew no fear. He dashed across a country which
practically had no roads and resembled a rough Scotch moor, with an
_élan_ that the most daring French chauffeur might envy. He was a fine
fellow, Boroff by name, and carried me on as before, day and night, and
again with sunshine for the one and moonlight for the other. "The
devil's wagon" is the name the wondering Kirghiz have given the
motor-car from the first, but it is the last description it deserves. My
journey of under twenty-four hours from the railhead to the Atbazar
Mining Camp, if I had had to go by camel, as I expected might be
possible until my actual arrival, would have taken me some twelve days,
or even more.

All the transport in these steppes is by camels, and I could not be
satisfied until I had made a small expedition upon one, and shall,
perhaps, have to do the same again; but modern appliances are not to be
despised, and no one can wish for a better experience of the steppes
than to make the journey in the middle of summer and in a good modern
motor-car.



CHAPTER IX

RUSSIA'S PROBLEM


The Social Problem, as it presents itself to thoughtful people in
Russia, really demands a book to itself. No doubt it will come before
long, and from some experienced pen. It is only possible for me just to
touch upon it in this chapter, which one must write; or else even this
very general view of Russia's life of to-day would be utterly inadequate
and incomplete. And, in so doing, I shall have to try and show how
different it is in Russia from the same problem as presented in other
countries in Europe.

It is well known, for instance, that the great question for ourselves
waiting for solution at some early date is the social question. What was
called for us the "Triple Alliance" in the world of labour, the Union of
the Railway, Transport, and Mining Workers was completed just before war
broke out; and, though with a patriotism beyond praise all needs and
desires of their own are put aside for the present, our workers will
give expression to their wishes at no distant day after peace comes.
Even before this book is in print the masses in Germany, grimly silent
so long except for the ever-increasing votes for their socialistic
representatives, silent even during the disillusionment which has come
to them these last six months, may have at last spoken out. We are told
that their leader, Herr Bebel, who is said to have known the German
character through and through, declared that the first serious defeat
experienced by Germany "would produce a miracle." Social unrest is still
universal.

[Illustration: _Russian Service at the Atbazar Mine._ (See page 178.)]

We find it, therefore, as we should expect to do, in Russia; and more
general, perhaps, and more acute than at any other previous time, just
before the war was declared. This, it may be remembered, is stated to
have been one of the reasons why the curt and hurried ultimatum was
presented at Petrograd, where it was thought that social troubles and
dangers were so serious that it would be impossible for the government
even to think of going to war. We have been told,[12] though it was
probably not known outside Russia at that time, what a good turn Germany
really did to the Russian government and the Russian people by turning
their thoughts from their own grave difficulties to the dangers which
threatened them from without. At that time, we are assured, not only
Petrograd, but every big manufacturing district of Russia, was shaking
with revolt of a peculiar kind, and civil war on the point of breaking
out. In Petrograd there were barricades already erected, at least
120,000 were on strike, tramcars had been broken up, attacks upon the
police had taken place, factories were garrisoned in expectation of
attack, the Cossacks were everywhere--openly in the streets, hidden away
in places most threatened. The police arrested those who were supposed
to be leaders, but it made no difference, for the people needed no
leading. They were all so thoroughly in the movement. Indeed, we are
told, "things seemed to the Russian government to be as bad as they
could very well be; and orders were actually given for the severest
possible repressive measures, which would, perhaps, have involved a
large-scale battle, probably a massacre, and certainly a state of war in
the capital." It would have been "Red Sunday" over again, only this time
infinitely and more ominously worse. A great calamity was narrowly
escaped.

Now there is this to be noticed about this Russian upheaval, and this
social bitterness and discontent expressing itself in the way with which
we are only too sadly familiar, and which claims our attention as being
so entirely different from similar movements of our own. The Russian
workers made no demands, had no special grievances nor complaints which
they wished to make known. In all strikes one has previously heard of
there has been some hardship or injustice to bring forward, some claim
or request to urge. Here there was nothing of the kind. "They were not
on strike," we are told, "for higher wages. In no single case did the
men make a demand from their masters. In no single case had a man gone
on strike because of a grievance which his master could put right. No
concessions by the masters could have brought the men back to work. The
only answer they returned when asked why there was a strike was that
they were dissatisfied with their lives, and that they intended to
disorganize the State until these things were altered." It is clear,
therefore, that the social unrest, and the activity which has so long
resulted from it, have not a very definite aim as yet. Hence the
Nihilist. He is dissatisfied, embittered, smarting under a sense of
wrong; and while he does not see how he can put things right, feels that
he must do something, and so destroys. "That at least will be
something," he feels, "then we can begin again."

This, we can further see, will be the youthful _student's_ view if
dissatisfied and discontented, and without either experience or
constructive and practical knowledge to suggest how the wrong may be put
right. Some of us, therefore, think that Russia's greatest social danger
arises from the _student_ part of her population, and that her great
problem--a vital one for her to solve, and soon--is how to deal fairly
and wisely with them, and, caring for them as paternally as she does for
her peasant population, incorporate them fully and intimately into her
national life.

It is from the educated classes that social unrest and discontent have
proceeded in Russia, and from them that those agents have come who have
spread wild and daring dreams of change and revolution amongst the
working classes of the towns, and, although that has not been so
successful, amongst the peasantry also.

To some extent their socialistic ideas have been echoes from Western
Europe. I remember being told, when I first went to Petrograd, "We
usually have your bad weather here about eight or ten days after you,
only we have it worse." It would seem that the rule holds good in other
ways also, for Sir Donald Mackenzie Wallace tells us, in one of his
three deeply interesting chapters on social difficulties in Russia, that
during the last two centuries all the important intellectual movements
in Western Europe have been reflected in Russia, and that these
reflections have generally been what may fairly be called exaggerated
and distorted reflections of the earlier socialistic movements of the
West, but with local peculiarities and local colouring which deserve
attention.

He goes on to explain how the educated classes, absorbing these ideas
from abroad, just as ideas, and not as relating to the conditions of
life in Russia as closely as in England, France, and Germany, from which
they came, have quite naturally been less practical in the conclusions
they have drawn from them, if indeed they have pushed their ideas to any
conclusion at all. We are shown plainly by this lucid and well-informed
writer how natural it has been for Western Socialists to be constructive
and definite in their aims, while Russians could only be destructive.
Nihilism is made clear, and we understand its origin, while we can
equally well understand what we are so reassuringly told about its
present decline. This does not imply necessarily that Russian thinkers
and workers are becoming less socialistic in sympathy and aims, but more
practical; and that they are learning, just as the West has taught them,
that the only way in which they can hope to advance their own views is
to use all the legal means which their government, as it becomes ever
more democratic and constitutional, will increasingly give them.

But amongst all the different classes who may be called educated, the
university students of both sexes form the class which most claims our
sympathies, and constitutes, I consider, Russia's gravest problem. There
are ten universities in the empire, only one of which contains less than
1,300 students, while the leading ones far exceed this number--Moscow
having just under 10,000, and Petrograd about 8,500. We can hardly
realize what such numbers mean for the national life, when over 40,000
men and women are receiving university education and being prepared for
professional careers. Over 15,000 are studying law, nearly 10,000 are
receiving a scientific education before taking up work as chemists,
engineers, etc., another 10,000 are studying medicine, comparatively few
only being left for the teaching profession. There are only about a
hundred divinity students.

In addition to these there are Russian students in all the universities
of Europe. I have never been able to ascertain their actual numbers, but
at Geneva, Lausanne, Berne, Leipzig, Berlin, and other great centres of
education I have always been told, not only that they were there in no
small numbers, but that they were the keenest and most attentive of all
the students in the class, the first to come, and the last to leave,
always in the front seats, and unflagging in their attention. They are
evidently most eager to learn, and are turned out from all the
universities of Europe and from their own, extremely well equipped and
prepared for professional work. Then a vast number of students of this
class are pitiably poor, straining every nerve, putting up with
privations undreamed of elsewhere, in order to get through the
preparation for their life's work.

Many of them, great numbers of them indeed, must be miserably
disappointed. Town and city life, upon which the professional classes
must rely chiefly in seeking the means of gaining their livelihood, has
not developed as yet in proportion to that of the agricultural
population; and certainly at nothing like the rate which would be
necessary if all those educated and trained at the universities were to
be provided with careers and given an adequate opportunity. The supply
is far, far greater than the demand.

Thus we have in Russia a large class of really competent, brainy, well
qualified young graduates of both sexes, naturally longing to take their
part in the life, work, and affairs of their country, urged on also by
their poverty to seek and even demand it; and yet many, it seems to me
sometimes that it must be far the greater number, must be unable to find
it. Here obviously are all the materials for a real social danger; and
students, therefore, always appear in stories of plots and conspiracies,
always fill an important place in plays of the same kind, and are always
to the fore in tumults and demonstrations. It must be so, for they are
the one really embittered class, and to them it must seem sometimes that
there can be no hope for them at all in the social order as it is, and
that its only possibility for them lies in its being destroyed and
reconstructed.

[Illustration: _A Class of Russian Students with their Teachers._]

In many of our centres of work abroad we have a _foyer_ where the
foreign students can meet, and at Geneva last year with great difficulty
we had opened a hostel for Russian students when the war broke out.
There one heard the most touching stories of their poverty, and yet of
their pride and independence, and also of the special temptations to
which their poverty exposed them. Some landlords, for instance, are not
slow to tell girls that they would live better and more cheaply if they
would temporarily "keep house" with one of the young men students, and
occupy one room! Our hostel was hurried on last year as we heard of many
instances of this kind, and a generous friend in Petrograd helped me
very largely in finding the money. Everything was to be supplied at cost
price, and no profits were to be made, the two English ladies in charge
giving their services. There was a restaurant also which supplied good
food at very moderate rates, and how moderate may be judged from the
charge made for afternoon tea of a halfpenny! It consisted of a cup of
tea and a small roll of bread without butter.

The first time I saw how cheaply the foreign students at Geneva lived
was one festival evening when they invited me to supper, and when we had
chicken salad with bread and butter followed by dessert, tea, and
coffee, for which the charge was about fivepence each. The year after
that I entertained them in return and gave them a Christmas party at
which there were fourteen nationalities present, mainly Slav. Nothing
could have been more interesting than that gathering, nor could any host
have had more grateful guests. Last year the Noel Fest could not be
held as there were no students; but I hope next Christmas may possibly
see the war over, and that we may have a Slav evening party in Geneva
once again.

It may be well to mention here how there comes to be a _foyer_ or club
for Russians and other students at Geneva. It is a part of the
organization connected with the World Student Christian Federation,
which had its beginning in the eighties in the United States of America,
as a movement to promote an interest in missionary work amongst
students. In 1887 a deputation came over to this country to tell the
student world what was going on across the Atlantic, and the student
foreign missionary union was the result. Next the Christian Student
Movement extended itself into all our European countries, and finally
the World's Federation was accomplished at Wadstena Castle in Sweden in
1895. It is directed by a committee consisting of two representatives
from each national movement, with Mr. John R. Mott, so well known, as
its general secretary. Its operations now extend into all the leading
countries of the world. There is a biennial conference, and it is
admitted that one of the most interesting of any yet held was the one at
Constantinople in 1911, which was attended by patriarchs representing
all the Orthodox Churches of the East. It is not an undenominational
movement, but exactly the opposite--a call rather to all the Churches of
the world to be consistent in their Christian profession and "walk
worthy of the vocation wherewith they are called." It is not a society
nor a religious body, but a movement or union, and its basis, to be
accepted by all its voluntary members and officers, is the declaration,
"I desire, in joining this Union, to declare my faith in JESUS CHRIST as
my Saviour, my LORD, and my GOD." There is no reason why any Christian
in the world should not join it. Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans,
and members of other Churches the world over can have no possible
difficulty in making such a simple declaration if there is any reality
at all in their sense of membership in CHRIST'S Church; and there is
every reason _why_ a Christian student should join a movement which is
the only one of its kind to aim at work for CHRIST in those places where
it is most urgently and sorely needed, and where it is most likely to be
truly fruitful--the universities and colleges of the world.

There we have to-day those who have to lead and guide and guard the
course of the whole world to-morrow. It is in the universities of the
world that some of those influences which are most hostile and inimical
to true social well-being are first set in motion, and it is there most
certainly that we must begin if we wish to see the world made better and
won for GOD. The war has made us long, I hope, for better things in a
way the world has never dreamt of before, because there has never been
anything in all history which has so focussed attention for the watching
world upon a simple and direct question of right and wrong. The issue is
even more momentous and significant than that. This great question of
righteousness and unrighteousness must be answered by every one in the
world according to his belief or unbelief. It is just a question for us
all to settle whether our own interests, individual or national, or our
duty to GOD comes first. The issue has never been more simply stated,
and the Church of CHRIST has never in all her history had such a
magnificent opportunity of giving her message, and proclaiming her
mission. I hope, therefore, that all my readers will take an early
opportunity of learning all they can about the Christian Student
Movement, and satisfy themselves as to its fitness for helping the whole
Church of CHRIST to avail herself to the full of this GOD-given
opportunity and possibility.

A _foyer_ is a necessary centre for students wherever a branch of the
movement has been formed, and it would be difficult to speak too warmly
of its value for its members. I have mentioned this movement here,
briefly enough, I fear, of necessity, because I should think there is no
place where it is more needed, nor, as far as I can judge, more likely
to continue to succeed, than in Russia. In Petrograd there are already a
number of influential and wealthy Russians deeply interested in its work
amongst the men students. They include a near relation of the Emperor,
and the work is directed by a number of extremely competent and earnest
Americans. I had an opportunity of meeting and addressing them when in
Petrograd a year ago.

The work amongst the girl and women students is being carried forward
very quietly by our own country-women, who are full of hope. But up to
the present a great deal of caution and wisdom has had to be exercised,
both because the authorities have so long been accustomed to look
suspiciously at anything which seemed to promote associations amongst
students, and because students themselves, for reasons already given,
have naturally looked askance at anything which was obviously working in
the direction of law and order. The movement, more and more, it will be
seen, is one of the soundest of modern efforts in the direction of real
social improvement, because it begins at the right end, with those who
are thinking and pondering life's problems before launching out to try
their best to solve them. Nowhere has it been more needed, as I have
said, than in Russia, and nowhere has it made a better start. The
hopeful thing about Russia just now is that _every one_ is most keenly
and profoundly interested in the social well-being of the people--on the
one hand anxious to obtain it more fully for themselves, and on the
other really wishful to give and promote it, even if watchful and
cautious lest they should make mistakes and have to draw back.

And surely caution is very necessary in Russia. It is only a little over
fifty years since the emancipation of the serfs. Let any one think of
Russia with a servile population so short a time ago, and then think of
what she is to-day, and they will form some idea of the extraordinary
social improvement and transformation which has taken place. Yet with
all this caution the desire to see improvement is general, and no one is
satisfied with the lives of the working-classes in the large towns as
they are. It is well known indeed, as I have already said, that Russia
has been absorbed in plans for social improvement for the last few
years, and was meaning to launch out into great undertakings this very
year. Those plans are only deferred, we hope, and will be taken up with
greater zest and confidence than ever when peace comes. Perhaps the
delay will prove to have been an inestimable gain, if it has made it
clearer than before that there are certain examples it might be well to
avoid. A great deal has been said and written of late years of the vast
superiority of German municipal government and organization, and
certainly no cities in Europe approach those of Germany for
attractiveness and excellence of arrangements as to streets, parks,
public buildings, and imposing blocks of flats for private families of
all classes. Germans have been for many years now animated by the very
best spirit of municipal initiative and responsibility, and have shown a
really worthy civic pride. Railway stations, post offices, walks, and
squares in Germany are beyond comparison with those of any other
country. And yet I am assured that much is sacrificed for effect and
appearance; and I was astonished to hear, a little while ago, how
miserably inadequate was the accommodation that even a skilled artisan
in Berlin could afford to have.

A well-known social authority, Mr. T. C. Horsfall, writing in the
_Spectator_ last December, told us that there is terrible overcrowding
in nearly all large German towns, and that the overcrowded tall blocks
of buildings are themselves too closely crowded together, and the effect
is bad both for health and morality. The death-rate, including that of
infants, is much higher with them than with us. And I cannot help
thinking that the effect of giving families only two rooms and a small
scullery, one living-room and one bedroom for all, must have its effect
upon the morality of a population. Whatever the cause, we are told that
in Berlin 17 per cent. of the births are registered as illegitimate, in
Munich as many as 28 per cent., in Vienna over 40 per cent., while in
London they are only 5 per cent.

"The effect on German town populations," Mr. Horsfall states,
"especially on the poorer inhabitants of Berlin, of the conditions
existing in German towns is described in an appeal made in or about the
year 1886 by Professor Schmoller to his fellow-countrymen to deal
adequately and promptly with those conditions. The appeal has been
reprinted in an important Report published in 1911 by Dr. Werner
Hegemann:

     'The circumstances are so terrible that one can only wonder
     that the consequences have not been even worse. Only because a
     large part of these poor people have brought from their
     earlier life a store of good habits, of religious tradition, of
     decent feeling, into these dens, has the worst not yet been
     reached. But the children and young people who are now growing
     up in these holes must necessarily lose the virtues of economy,
     domesticity, family life, and all regard for law and property,
     decency, and good habits. He who has no proper dwelling, but
     only a sleeping-place, must fall a victim to the public-house
     and to drink.... The community to-day is forcing the lower
     strata of the factory proletariat of large towns by its
     dwelling conditions with absolute necessity to fall back to a
     level of barbarism and bestiality, of savagery and rowdiness,
     which our forefathers hundreds of years ago had left behind
     them. I maintain that there lies the greatest danger for our
     civilization.'"

With such examples as this before her we must trust that Russia will set
about promoting the social well-being of her people with all her
characteristic independence, and determine that in their housing she
will have only those "great spaces" which are her characteristic
features in so many other ways. We have to tread this same road of
social reform also when the war is over, and it is good to think that we
may, perhaps, be able to take it, just as we have carried on the war,
without any party questions or party spirit connected with it, as will
be the case also in Russia. It is even more inspiring to think, again
let me say it, that we and our new friend may tread this path together:
comparing notes and making plans together as we go. That would be indeed
an _Entente_ worth the name, when it was not in order that we might
make war together, only that we had come to an agreement, but that we
might help each other's peoples in all the arts of peace. Mr. Baring
tells us that he was once drinking tea with a Russian landowner who
calls himself a moderate liberal, and when, in their conversation, the
Anglo-Russian agreement was mentioned, he exclaimed (and I have no doubt
he expressed the feelings of many others who desire the social good of
Russia as he did so), "This is the most sensible thing the Russian
government has done for the last forty years!"

[Illustration: _The English Church of S. Andrew, at Moscow, with the
Parsonage._]

FOOTNOTES:

[12] "Anglitchanin" in _The Contemporary Review_, Nov., 1914.



CHAPTER X

THE ANGLICAN CHURCH IN RUSSIA


I welcome the opportunity that this chapter affords me of defining the
position taken by our Church in Russia, for it is just the same there as
in Germany, France, Belgium, and the other countries in our
jurisdiction. Many English Churchmen deprecate, while others strongly
resent, our having clergy, churches, and services on the Continent of
Europe at all. They consider it an interference with the Church of the
country, schismatical in its character, and a hindrance and impediment
to the reunion of Christendom. Some English clergy come, therefore, into
the jurisdiction of North and Central Europe from their own parishes,
and though their own Church may have its services there, ostentatiously
attend the services of the Roman Catholic Church. Young men coming out
for business, girls taking positions as nurses and governesses, and
others coming for health and enjoyment, are sometimes advised by their
clergy not to go near the English Church, but to attend Mass and
"worship with the people of the country."

What, I fancy, many of our brethren at home, clergy and laity alike,
fail very often to realize is the great difference between a temporary
and permanent residence abroad. Many of us know what it is to spend a
holiday in some simple and beautiful village--in the Black Forest, for
instance--amongst devout and good people, far away from one's own
Church, and where it is just as natural as anything can be, and
completes the friendly feeling between us, to go to church on Sunday and
worship with them. Even in an unfamiliar service we have our own Prayer
Books, and can read Collect, Epistle, and Holy Gospel, and be in spirit
and touch with our brethren worshipping in their own churches all over
the world.

There is something to be said, therefore, for sharing the worship of the
people of the place when passing through or making but a short stay,
though, even in holiday resorts or "Sports centres," the opportunities
which our Church, chaplain, and services offer are too precious and
important to be lost or undervalued. But there is nothing whatever to be
said for leaving a community of our own countrymen, permanently resident
in another land, without the ministrations of their own Church, if they
can possibly be supplied to them; and still less if, as in Russia and
some other places, the people can find the means of support themselves.

Will any of our brethren seriously maintain that, when families have to
leave this country and go to live on the Continent of Europe, they must
leave their own Church and be received into the Roman or Greek
Communion? Or, if not, will they consider that they ought to frequent
the services of those Churches as outsiders, never having the
experiences and helps afforded by the sacramental means of grace? It
must be one or the other. If abroad we are not to attend the services of
our own Church, then the only alternative is either to leave it
altogether or to live the maimed spiritual life of those who are without
the ministry of the Word and Sacraments.

And, moreover, if it is thought that one of the pressing duties of our
time is to follow our brethren across the ocean to Canada, though even
there the Roman Church claims to be the "Church of the country" in its
French-speaking territory, and to give them the ministrations of
religion, why are we not to follow them across the Channel, when they
leave their country for precisely the same reason, to extend its
business and commercial influence and to serve its interests in
diplomatic, consular, and professional life? To think at all carefully
over the situation is to see at once that our people in North and
Central Europe have just the same rights (and I don't ask for anything
more than that) to the services of their own Church as anywhere else in
the world.

Take, for instance, this typical case of a friend of mine living in one
of the cities of Europe, and now retired from business, but still living
on where he is so well known, and where he has many ways of making
himself of use. He was married young, and his bride went with him to
make her home abroad. They had their own Church there, and there they
took their children to be baptized and, when old enough, to worship, be
confirmed, and become communicants. There those children have been
married, and from there gone out into the world to make new homes. In
his house the clergy have been always made welcome, and have visited
them when sick, counselled them when necessary, and received much
valuable advice in return. Can any one be heartless enough, or foolish
enough, to say that there ought to have been no English Church in that
place at all, and that he and his young wife ought to have attended the
Church of the country, and with their descendants been lost to their
own?

Then there are girls at school, young men learning the language,
governesses, nurses, lads in the training stables, girls dancing on the
stage--these are well shepherded in Paris--and others. Are they to feel
in after life, "Just at the critical time, when I needed it most, my
Church was not there to give me the helping hand--and all might have
been so different if it had been!" I will not dwell upon all the
priceless opportunities afforded us abroad, where touch is more quickly
gained, and more easily maintained, of winning during sickness and at
other times those who have never been in touch with clergy or Church at
home, bringing them out into the light, gaining them for the Church, and
sending them home to "strengthen the brethren" there.

Most of our clergy, from Northern Russia to Southern France and the
Pyrenees, have their inspiriting stories to tell of the services they
have rendered to the Church at home in this way, and yet that Church, if
some of our brethren could have their way, would disown them. It won't
bear seriously thinking of, this objection to English Church work
abroad; and surely it rings more true to what we feel is the
Englishman's duty wherever he is, when we read that our countrymen,
after settling at Archangel in the sixteenth century, built their
warehouses and their Church at the same time, and wished, in their
adopted country, to worship GOD "after the manner of their fathers."

I have taken a little time to explain our continental position thus,
because it is the same in every country, is thoroughly understood, and
never, as far as I know, resented. We always make it perfectly clear
that we never wish to interfere with the Church of the country, nor the
religion of its people, but are there to shepherd our own. And it is a
curious thing that in Catholic Belgium, as it is called, with people
devoted to their Church, and with a clerical government such as they
have had for at least the last forty years, our Anglican clergy receive
from the Belgian government the same recognition, status, stipends,
grants for houses, etc., as are given to the clergy of the country.

But nowhere is the position of our Church more fully, sympathetically or
affectionately recognized than in Russia. Nowhere would it be felt, as
there, a grave and responsible neglect of duty on our part if we were to
leave our own people without the ministrations of their own Church. They
go further than this in sympathetic feeling, for they consider that
there is a special link and bond of union between our Church and their
own. An anonymous but evidently extremely well-informed writer about
Russia, over the _nom de plume_ of "Anglitchanin" in a leading
Review[13] a month or two ago, said, in the course of his article on
_Russia and the War_, "the English Church is said to be very like the
Greek Orthodox. It is not so in fact, but in Russia it is believed to be
so by _all classes of the population_. That is indeed the one thing
about England that they all know. I have known more than one peasant ask
me, 'Is England beyond Germany--far? or beyond Siberia? But your
religion is like ours.'

"The origin of this belief," he adds, "is to be found in the fact that
we are not Lutherans on the one side, and on the other do not
acknowledge the Pope."

They welcome our bishops and clergy to their services in their robes,
and attend ours in the same way. When the late Duke of Edinburgh married
the daughter of the Emperor Alexander, the service took place first in
the cathedral with the Russian rite, with Dean Stanley present in his
robes, and then a second time in the English Church with our own
service, with the Russian clergy present in the sanctuary. The Bishop of
London also loves to describe his reception at the great Troitsky
Monastery near Moscow, where he attended the services in cope and mitre,
and with pastoral staff, and was greeted by all the clergy present as
one of their own bishops; and the last time I heard him describe the
beautiful ceremonial, he added significantly, "I should not have been
received in that way at S. Peter's, Rome"; but who can say what may be
the outcome of this war? There has been a wonderful drawing together of
the French and English clergy, and perhaps we may soon have more
brotherly relations with the Roman clergy, even though we do not have
inter-communion.

When four of our English bishops went to Russia with a large party of
Members of Parliament and business men, three years ago, the chaplain at
Petrograd arranged a choral celebration of Holy Communion in his church,
and it was attended by some of the highest dignitaries of the Russian
Church, who were present in their robes and took part in the procession,
following the service as closely and intelligently as they could. No
clergy of our Church have ever gone to Russia to learn what they could
for themselves, or give lectures, or act as members of deputations, and
come into touch with the Orthodox clergy and been disappointed with
their reception; but, on the contrary, they have often been quite
astonished at the warmth of welcome offered them and the keen interest
shown towards them.

I had no idea until I had read what the _Contemporary Review_ has told
us that there is nothing so well known about England, throughout _all
classes_ of the population, as the similarity of the two Churches and
the religion they represent; but I can speak for the archbishops,
bishops, and clergy, that they have a real knowledge of the Church of
England and the character of its services, and a very sincere wish to be
on friendly and brotherly terms with its members, clergy and laity
alike. And I do not think there is one of them who would not consider it
a great compliment and most kind attention if any English Churchman
called upon him to pay his respects and show interest in his church and
work.

Their keen interest in our Church all over the empire, even in a humble
little village, is extraordinarily different from the almost complete
ignorance and indifference which prevails amongst our own countrymen as
to theirs, except amongst the members of one or two societies founded to
bring the two Churches into more real unity of spirit.

However, this, like so many other things, is to be entirely changed. We
are going to see and know more than we have ever done before of the way
in which "God is working His purpose out" in His Church, as we are being
brought into intelligent sympathy with a simply overwhelming part of
Christendom, as represented by the Orthodox Church of Russia and the
other Churches of the East.

Will there be many English Churchmen who will not be most deeply moved
when they read that the first _Te Deum_, after all these centuries, has
been sung in St. Sophia, in Constantinople? It will be a most inspiring
thing too to hear that the whitewash, always peeling off, which covers
up the mosaic picture of our _Lord_, has been cleared away, and He is
shown looking down in blessing while the Holy Communion is once more
celebrated in the great Church of Justinian.

We are all praying that _God_ will bring good out of evil, and overcome
evil with good, as this war draws on to its close, and many of us from
time to time think of the "good" it will be for humanity if a more
united Christian Church can be one of its first results. "Who will not
pray?" said Mr. W. J. Birkbeck, the one English layman who knows Russia,
its people, and its Church as few Englishmen or even Russians know them,
when addressing a great gathering in London last year, "that this
terrible conflict in which we are engaged will bring the Eastern and
English Churches closer to one another? We are mindful of the
considerable advances which have already been made in that direction,
and of the ever-increasing friendship which has arisen between the
English and Russian Churches of late years, and more especially during
the twenty years' reign of the Emperor Nicholas II. It is known that
even in the earliest years of his reign His Majesty more than once
expressed his wish that the two Churches should get to know one another
more closely, and that this was the best way to draw the two nations
together. It is known too that Queen Victoria, when she was told of
this, said, 'Yes, it is not only the best way, it is the only sure way.'
The visits of Anglican bishops at various times have all tended to
promote good feeling and mutual understanding, as did also the visit to
England of the late Archbishop Antonius of Finland, afterwards
Metropolitan of St. Petersburg, on the occasion of Queen Victoria's
Diamond Jubilee. The question of the reunion of our two Churches is one
that cannot be forced or rushed; it will never be brought about by
compromises, or by diplomatic shams. It will only come about when the
two Churches, after coming fully to know one another, find that both of
them hold the whole of that Faith which each of them, and not one only,
and all its members, and not some only, hold to be essential."

I hope it will not be uninteresting now if, as they are not many in
number, I describe briefly the places where English Church work is
carried on in Russia, and give some characteristic service at each.

At Petrograd the British Church, with the parsonage, library, and a
number of other suites of rooms, is a great block of buildings, formerly
a palace, owned and maintained by the British Factory, and with a staff
of three clergy. The church is the former ballroom of the palace, and is
a classical basilica, with rows of Greek pillars and capitals, and a
very impressive place of worship. If I single out one of the beautiful
services I have known I shall choose the Evensong on the Feast of the
Epiphany last year, when I preached on the last day of my stay, and had
what one might call a Sunday congregation. It was grand to see that
large congregation on a weekday, so far away from home.

[Illustration: _The Bishop and Russian Chauffeur in the midst of the
Steppes on the way to Atbazar._]

Three other places are served from Petrograd--Helsingfors, Narva, and
Schlusselberg. Helsingfors has a small community of girls engaged in
teaching and nursing, and the one Englishman who lives there with his
wife, a Mr. Reid, is a Professor of English in the Finn University.
One has to go there and return during the night, and during my day there
I had a Confirmation in the Art School, most carefully and reverently
prepared, and in the evening Mr. and Mrs. Reid had all the girls for a
reception, at which I was able to chat with them individually and speak
to them about the important and responsible trust they had in being
allowed to lay the foundations of character in young lives. At midnight
they were all on the station to say good-bye, bright English girls with
sparkling eyes and happy faces. Who could not go away deeply thankful
that they were not allowed to feel in that remote place that they were
forgotten by their Church?

Narva is a great manufacturing community with a large staff of
Englishmen, also a long journey away, and it so happens that they are
nearly all Nonconformists there, but they value our services, and
enjoyed mine with them, followed as it was by a special evening of music
and recitations, about sixty being present.

Schlusselberg is a large factory for printing cotton goods for Asia,
half a day's journey up the Neva, where we always have an evening
service followed by Holy Communion next morning. It is the only place I
have yet known where all the community, about forty, have been present
at the evening service, and next morning been _all_ present again as
communicants, but with one added to their number, a man who had been
away the night before.

Moscow has a church and parsonage and large courtyard, as will be seen
in the illustration; almost startlingly like, it seems in that ancient
capital, to a bit of a London suburb. But as I saw it on Christmas Eve
last year it was Russian enough, the great courtyard was full of
_troikas_ and sledges, and the clear air musical with tinkling bells as
the people came driving in from far and near, clad in warm furs, for the
service. That Christmas Eve, with its carols and the old hymns, helped
one to realize what it means to have an English church and clergyman in
a community like that of Moscow. The chaplain conducts all the services,
does all the work of the community, and visits over a large
neighbourhood outside, single-handed.

Warsaw is the next capital to take, much before us of late, and perhaps
with a great place yet to fill in future history. It is the centre of
Christian work amongst the Russian Jews, as I shall have to explain more
at length in my next chapter; but there is also a British community to
whom the chaplain ministers, and which perhaps numbers, all told, about
a hundred, with one or two outlying places reckoned in. The service I
remember most at Warsaw, and shall always associate with it, was the
dedication or consecration--the two abroad mean the same thing--of their
church. We had it on a Sunday morning, with a very large congregation,
and very impressive it was to take, so far away, as our little copies of
the service told us, "The Order of Consecration as used in the Diocese
of London." There were some Old Catholics present, and they were deeply
impressed with the scriptural character of a service which carried us
back to the days of David and Solomon. I dare say it was true of all
there, as one of them said, that they had never seen the consecration of
a church of their own before, and had had to come to Russia for it when
they did.

We have only two other places in our jurisdiction--as the shores of the
Black Sea fall to the Diocese of Gibraltar--Libau and Riga.

Libau is a Baltic port in Courland, a German-speaking place, where there
is an extremely small British community, but where there are a fair
number of British ships in the course of the year. The establishment
consists of two flats side by side, one of which supplies the chaplain
and his wife with a comfortable home; and the other, which communicates
with it, provides an institute, with papers and a billiard-table, etc.,
for the sailors, and a beautiful little chapel opening out of it. When
last there we had a reception, or social, in the institute, followed by
a service; after which we came back into the institute, and I had a talk
with the seamen and apprentices and one or two young fellows in the
business houses. I need not ask the reader if he thinks that little
church ought to be there or not.

Riga is a great port, also on the Baltic, and its beautiful church, with
a great spire, is close to the banks of the river. It has a splendid
position and is tremendously appreciated and well supported by a fairly
large and prosperous community. The service to mention here was my
Confirmation on the Russian Whitsun Day last year but one. Every one
comes to a Confirmation abroad, and it was to us at Riga a real
anniversary of the great gift of the HOLY SPIRIT. It was in the
afternoon, and we had had the Holy Communion at eight and Morning
Service at eleven as at home--but the Confirmation was at three, and was
_the_ service of the day.

It makes a great difference when a large congregation can really be
brought to pray during the short space of silence usually kept for the
purpose. They most certainly prayed that afternoon at Riga, and many
told me in touching language what an experience it had been to them.
These are _great_ opportunities abroad. A man in middle life told me
once, also abroad, what the confirmation of his daughter had been to him
that day after he had been led specially to pray in the service; and he
added, "I've never been at a Confirmation before this since my own at
Charterhouse, and I can only wish that it had meant more to me at the
time."

There is one other place to mention, the port which is historic for us
in more senses than one just now--Archangel. It is not actually upon the
White Sea, but a little distance up the Dvina, and is frequented by a
good number of British ships in the summer when the sea there is free
from ice. There is a church and a rectory, but no community at all, and
so the Russia Company send a chaplain there for the summer months to
visit the men aboard ship and hold services for them ashore.

The Anglican Church in Russia, therefore, for I have described every
place in which it is at work, is not a very large community, but I can
claim that it is zealous, earnest, efficient, and thoroughly
representative, and I feel sure that it will be admitted that it is
doing a real and good work for Russia as well as for ourselves. I have
often brought home to myself the real significance of an interest or
influence by asking myself what I should do without it. And if one only
just thinks, "What would our countrymen do in Russia? how would they
hope to knit up real and lasting ties, if their Church were not there?"
there would be, to my mind, no answer which could be adequately
expressed in words.

I hope to be able, when the war is over, to appoint a chaplain whose
work it shall be to travel over those great spaces in European and
Siberian Russia and visit very small communities where it is impossible
for a permanent chaplain to find enough to do.

These will rapidly increase now as the country and its people become
better known to us. The first Church of England Service ever taken in
Siberia is a very good instance to give of such opportunities. It was in
1912, at Ekaterinburg, just beyond the Urals, and in the government of
Perm, a large and growing town of 80,000 people, where our British
community is represented almost entirely by one family named Yates,
paper manufacturers, whose first mill was built there fifty years ago.
It now consists of Mr. and Mrs. Yates, their brothers, children, and
grandchildren.

Ekaterinburg is a distributing centre for the Bible Society, and their
agent--earnest, energetic, and capable--is one of the best-known and
respected Englishmen in Siberia. He it was who had prepared for my
coming, arranged for me to stay with Mr. and Mrs. Yates, and invited
every one within reach--"I've sounded the big drum," he said--and with
governesses, English wives of Russians, a young fellow and his wife
teaching roller-skating, and one or two others--some having travelled
long distances to get there--we must have numbered about thirty in all.
They prepared a little temporary altar in the large drawing-room, with
an _ikon_, flowers, etc., and we had Holy Communion, a morning and
evening service, our dinner and supper together, and a priceless
experience of the unity which thankfulness and fellowship always bring
with them when realized in common prayer and worship.

From Ekaterinburg I went a day's journey to another town, in a part of
the country to which very few English travellers ever go, and there the
small community consisted of one family only, though they were three
generations. We were only a dozen altogether, and some might think it
was hardly worth taking up a bishop's time for three days to go and see
one family. But the head of that family had been there between forty
and fifty years, and never had our Church's service during that time,
nor received Communion. The grandchildren had never seen or heard the
service before, and they were the children of a Russian father,
attending a Russian school. I made my address simple so that they could
understand it, knowing that the others could if the children did, and I
had one or two opportunities of conversation with them, which they
greatly welcomed. Late at night I left, all the party accompanying me to
the station to see me off; and after we had said, "Good-bye," and they
had left, the mother of those children came back quietly and said:--

"Bishop, I felt I must come back just to tell you this. In the winter,
after having tried so long to keep my boy and girl English in their
ideas, I felt hopeless and gave up the struggle; but I want you to know
that in the service to-day I've had the strength and courage given me to
begin again."

[Illustration: _The British Community at Atbazar, Siberia, after Morning
Service during the Bishop's Visit._]

Is it not worth while to have a travelling chaplain go about and find
such experiences as that waiting for him in many places? Can any one
possibly think that those who have to live on the Continent of Europe,
because of some fanciful ideas of intrusion upon the jurisdiction of
another Church, should be deprived of the services of their own, and
find, as they inevitably do find, that they are ever accepting for
themselves a lowered standard and a dimmer ideal?

I remember a girl whom I had confirmed in Switzerland coming at a later
visit to tell me that, after six months of happy life as a communicant,
she had begun to "fall away," and now seemed to have "lost all
interest." What was she to do? On being questioned, it appeared that at
the end of those six months she had gone to stay with a family in the
country, where there was no English church within any possible distance,
and she said:--

"I missed the services at first, but I _found gradually that I could do
without them_; and so I grew not to mind." I advised her, wherever she
was in future, when not able to attend a service, carefully to use the
Communion Office at eight o'clock, and think of all those who were in
church, and realize her unity with them, and reverently and slowly think
over all the special parts of the service, and she would find herself
eager enough to go to church at the usual time when opportunity again
presented itself, as she would have wished every time she was reading
the service that she was having the complete experience. She would not
"find that she could do without it." Spiritual things are spiritually
discerned. And if we drop away from those means of grace which help us
to be spiritually minded, there will certainly in time be little, if
any, spiritual experiences to show.

This chapter is not, like the others, concerned with Russian people and
affairs; but I have ventured to write it because without it English
Churchmen would not be able to understand fully the influence we are
exercising upon Russian life and thought even now, and which, in far
fuller measure, we are expecting to exercise in the time to come.

The Duma (I was assured in 1911 when calling at the Ministry of the
Interior in Petrograd) have been preparing a Bill for some time to give
the Anglican Church in Russia a legal status and recognition such as it
has never yet had! We shall be glad and thankful enough to have it, but
I am far more happy and grateful in the thought of the real _spiritual_
influence our Church possesses and exercises, even without that legal
status, both in the permanent chaplaincies and in those distant places
visited from time to time.

Just as in its legislation, it is not so much the law as it stands which
determines the state of things social in Russia, as the trend and aim
and purpose of every new enactment, and the present actual life of the
people. All that is in one direction in Russia. Government becomes ever
more and more constitutional. It is the same with respect to religious
life and prospects. There has been no change whatever in the actual
formal and legal relations of the Russian and Anglican Churches; but
surely and evidently, in sympathy, mutual knowledge, regard, and
respect, every year, they are drawing more closely and affectionately
together.

I cannot close this chapter without expressing my deep and grateful
appreciation of the help and support given to our work by the Russia
Society. It is no longer a trading company but still possesses large
funds and, it seems to me, they must all be spent in support of our
Anglican Church in Russia. It is impossible even to think of what that
work would be without the help given to us by the Russia Society, and
the British Factory in Petrograd.

FOOTNOTES:

[13] _Contemporary Review_, November, 1914.



CHAPTER XI

THE JEWS


The Jewish question was the first of many I was called upon to consider
after crossing the Russian frontier, for my first service within the
empire was the Confirmation of a Jew. He was of the educated class, and
particularly attractive; and as he bowed low over my hand and kissed it
with a singular grace of manner the western part of Europe seemed
already far away. It was at Warsaw, where, as at Cracow--the ancient
capital of Poland--the Jews form a larger and more influential part of
the population than in any other European city. It will surprise many,
no doubt, to hear that, though the Anglican Church has no _legal_ status
as yet, our chaplain at Warsaw has the sole and exclusive right of
baptizing those Jews who are Russian subjects, and wish to be received
into the Christian Church. _Any_ Jew who wishes to become a Christian,
if in the Russian Empire, must go to Warsaw and receive Baptism from the
Anglican chaplain, maintained there for many years by the London
Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews.

[Illustration: _The Archbishop of Warsaw._]

This young Russian, with his wife, had travelled a great distance for
his Baptism and Confirmation, and, if I remember rightly, was leaving
Russia in the course of time. He was able, therefore, to receive
Confirmation in our own Church, although Russian subjects, if Jewish, on
receiving Baptism from us--it is a strange anomaly that we hope will
soon cease--are expected to choose whether they will next be received
into the communion of the Lutheran, Roman Catholic, or Orthodox
Churches. None of these, of course, attract them after receiving
instruction and Baptism in our own Church, and, on that account, no
doubt, many of them have reverted again to their old religion.

The passport system in Russia is an admirable and comprehensive one, and
as soon as a Hebrew Christian abandons his Faith and returns to Judaism,
he is required by law to report it at once to the local authority, in
order that his passport may be altered; and on his doing so a notice is
at once dispatched to our chaplain at Warsaw that a pen is to be drawn
through his name in the baptismal register. It was painfully affecting
to turn over the pages of that register, and see those ominous-looking
lines drawn from top to bottom of various entries. One could not see
anything like it anywhere else, I suppose. It carried the mind back to
the early days of the Faith, and to that sad class known as the _lapsi_
("lapsed"); to the lament over Demas, who had forsaken S. Paul and gone
back to the world; and to such promises as "I will not blot out his name
from the book of life."

There is much in the work at Warsaw to take one back thus in spirit to
the days of the Apostles. One felt it a little at the Confirmation
itself, when saying the sentence which accompanies the laying on of
hands, first in German for the young Jew, and then in English for the
girl who followed him; but most of all on the Sunday evening, when the
services of the day in the little chapel were all over, and everything
was quiet.

That is the time always given to "inquirers"; and they came one after
another, that first Sunday of mine at Warsaw, stealing in, just as
Nicodemus came by night and for the same reason, sometimes singly,
sometimes husband and wife together, and sometimes a whole family--the
children going off to join the chaplain's children, while the parents
came to us. When the room in time was quite full we began by singing a
few hymns in German, after which the chaplain prayed for guidance and
the sense of God's presence; and then a most interesting time followed.
He took the holy Gospel for the day, every one reading a verse in
turn--in German--during which questions were encouraged if the literal
meaning of the verse was not clear.

It was a particularly arresting Gospel for those present to consider, as
it included our LORD'S words, "If I by the finger of GOD cast out
devils, no doubt the kingdom of GOD is come upon you." There is no more
striking symbol for a Jew than that of the "finger of GOD," nor anything
more absorbingly interesting than "GOD'S kingdom"; and I have always
thankfully felt that I was fortunate that night. The Chaplain of Warsaw
is not one who loses or wastes opportunities, and he did his very best
with that one. It was an extraordinarily interesting scene as I watched
the faces of that little gathering of men and women gazing with the
keenest and most penetrating of expressions upon their teacher; and now
and then, as he mentioned psalm or prophecy, taking up their Bibles to
find the passage named. Then, satisfied as to its apposite character,
they would look up again as eagerly as before. I seemed to be back again
in spirit sharing in one of those Apostolic scenes of the New
Testament, when one or another "preached CHRIST unto them," and they, as
at Berea, received the teaching "with readiness of mind, and searched
the Scriptures whether those things were so."

Just such little gatherings as that at Warsaw, and in just such places,
to which people came stealthily yet expectantly, were addressed by
Barnabas and Paul, by Silas and John Mark. One feels now when listening
to a chapter from the Acts of the Apostles, or reading it, as if one had
been there and seen and heard. It is only a year since I was once more
at Warsaw, and again it was Sunday evening, with the Holy Communion,
Confirmation, and other services of the day all over, and just as before
the Jewish inquirers came quietly in, in ones and twos and threes, only
this time the gathering was larger and the attention keener even than it
had been three years before. The same order was followed, the singing of
hymns in German, prayer--those present were encouraged to pray in very
simple words--the reading of a passage from the New Testament, and then
its exposition; but though it was the same faithful teaching of the
Faith, or preaching CHRIST, there was a difference both in what was said
and in the questions asked. It was no longer the Messiah, or the CHRIST
fulfilling Messianic psalm or evangelical prophecy, but the living
CHRIST of to-day.

It was a sight not soon, if ever, to be forgotten, those keen Jewish
faces, such as our LORD Himself looked into daily during His ministry,
eager, expectant, hopeful, while questioning again, as in the Synagogue
of Capernaum, how it could be possible for Him to be not only Way and
Truth, but _Life_; how He could in any comprehensible sense be said to
_live_ in His people, and how any one could with any conviction say or
sing "And now I live in Him." It made one feel that even there, in
far-away and comparatively unknown Russia, that same Spirit is moving
upon the waters to whom the _Quarterly Review_ gave its testimony in the
October number of 1912, when it stated at the close of a remarkable
review of modern German and other critical literature that the net
result of modern negative criticism had only been "to make the living
CHRIST a greater Reality to-day than He has been since the days of the
Apostles." So it was at Warsaw that night. They wanted to understand the
CHRIST whom S. Paul not only taught but had _experienced_ ever since his
conversion, and which enabled and impelled him to say, "I live, yet not
I, but CHRIST liveth in me."

The Jews have had hard experiences in Russia, and the story of their
wrongs would take long to tell; but let us hope that now there is no
reason for wishing to tell it. We are hoping that in more ways than one
Russia is going to "forget those things which are behind, and reach
forward to those things which are before," and which are worthy of the
aims of a great nation. Few nobler things have been said during the war
than General Botha's counsel to his fellow-countrymen when the Beyers
and De Wet revolution had come to a fitting end. He reminded them that
what had happened was within their own household, and their own affair,
and that the only right course was to let by-gones be by-gones, and
"cultivate a spirit of tolerance and forbearance and merciful oblivion"
with respect to the errors of the past.

A year ago, if writing upon Russian life of to-day, one could not but
have touched upon the hardships of the Jews who have to live "within the
pale" in Russia, and have been alternately tolerated and persecuted,
even massacred within recent years; and one would have had to own that
there was something to be said upon the Russian side as well, even if
not agreeing with it. But this is now no longer necessary. In Russia as
in South Africa we must say, "Let by-gones be by-gones, and let the
spirit of tolerance and forbearance and merciful oblivion" blot out the
errors of the past for Russian and for Jew. It should be remembered also
that the devout Jew is as mystical in his religion as the Russian, who
must surely now and then, as he looks toward the seven-branched
candlestick within his own sacrarium, or listens to the psalms, be
reminded that his devotion has a Jewish source.

A Jewish Confirmation with none but Jews in the congregation is a great
experience. Twice I have had it at Wandsbeck, just outside Hamburg,
where, under Pastor Dolman of our London Society, the work is entirely
for and amongst Jews. At my first visit there were about fourteen
candidates, fine young men from many countries, one or two being German
and Austrian, and several in uniform. As we entered, the large
congregation, without rising, began to sing a German hymn, slowly and
softly, and at once the whole atmosphere of the place became deeply
devotional. Everything was in German, and though I confirm in German I
cannot venture to preach or address in the language; and so in the
address Pastor Dolman stood beside me to interpret, and so masterly and
rapid was this interpretation that the candidates seemed to be
listening to me, rather than to him, from first to last. There was no
mistaking the spirit of that congregation, nor the character of the
service. Every one was in it, every one deeply interested and attentive,
and eager to be spiritually helped. The consciousness of it seemed to
embrace every one present in the most convincing way, and again seemed
to carry us back to Apostolic days, making one wonder whether amongst
those rugged and strong-featured men and women there might not be
another Aquila and Priscilla, ready for work if God should bring it to
them; whether amongst those youths there might not be another Timotheus
ready to gladden the heart of any one who should see what was in him and
take him in hand for GOD. "Why shouldn't there be amongst this
eager-looking crowd," I found myself thinking, "another Apollos, or even
a S. Paul?"

[Illustration: _A Polish Jew._]

I shall always be glad also to have visited Cracow, and taken a service
there in what we shall probably soon be speaking of as "the old days
before the war." Nowhere, I suppose, in Europe does the Jew walk the
streets of a city with the same confidence and assurance as he does in
this ancient capital of Poland and burial-place of its kings. The Jews
form a very large part of its population, fill the foremost places of
commercial importance, and show most unmistakably in every look and
gesture how strong, whenever it can find expression, is the Jewish pride
of race.

There is a very small Christian community both here and at Lemberg--or
Luow as we must call it now--but there are two licensed laymen to deal
with Jewish inquirers, and we had a celebration of Holy Communion, and
conference together two years ago. I saw then another side of the
Russian or Polish Jew, for whether he is in Poland proper or that part
of the old kingdom which is called Galicia, or in the western part of
Russia--he is not legally allowed anywhere else in the empire--the Jew,
of course, is always essentially the same.

It is most important to keep this from slipping out of sight when
thinking of them. I was reading a short time ago a most depressing
account of life in some Jewish villages in a certain part of Russia, of
the dirt and degradation of the people there, their cunning and greed,
their hang-dog expression of countenance, and disgusting clothing. Every
one is familiar with the stories told of the usurer and the extortioner
who suck the blood of their inexperienced and unsuspecting victims, and
it is not for me to question their accuracy. We may all admit that
Shylock is a type. But still environment plays its part, and it would be
difficult to picture any other result from the treatment which has been
meted out to Jews in Russia than the degradation which has followed.

A very different picture, however, is given for us by Mr. Rothay
Reynolds, in the report of a _Russian_ official, sent out by his
government to visit the settlements of Russian Jews in the Argentine
Republic. He made a formal report, but it was no dry and formal
statement, but a real picture, painted in glowing colours, of the
"change wrought in them by the free and open life of the new land," and
he described with enthusiasm the rich farms possessed and admirably
cultivated by the former children of the _ghetto_. He drew a contrast
between the peaky, timorous Jewish boys of the Russian pale and the
lusty Jewish youngsters astride half-tamed horses on the ranche. And the
settlers spoke of Russia as our colonists speak of the old country, as
"home." No Jew _in Russia_ dreams of calling himself a Russian, but when
he goes and settles in another land far away, and prospers there, then
he can speak of Russia as "home."

There are 6,000,000 Jews in the empire, and 250,000 of them rallied to
the colours, we are told, at the general mobilization. It may be
claimed, therefore, that they have "done their bit." Will this count for
nothing after the war? We are assured by one authority after another
that the war only precipitated the proclamation of autonomy for Poland,
and gave it wider application and comprehension. We are told, and I for
one believe it, that the government have been preparing for some time to
give constitutional rule to Finland as well as to Poland, and that the
old idea of "Russifaction" is entirely abandoned and set aside. All this
is in keeping with what has followed, in some cases swiftly, in others
slowly, but in all important matters which concern the well-being of the
state, _in some measure or other_, since 1905. This being so we should
expect that the Jews will also be admitted before long to equal civil
and political rights with other Russian subjects of the Emperor, and I
feel sure the hopes will not be disappointed. The Jewish revolutionaries
in the past have been the most dangerous of all, and I believe there has
never been any conspiracy of real moment in which they have not taken a
share; but there again, as we think of their degradation in country
villages, we cannot but ask, "How could anything else be expected of
them? Treated as they have been, their boldest spirits would be sure to
plot." The Jews with us are loyal and patriotic citizens and though
proud--as they have a right to be--of their race, they are proud also of
their nationality. So it will be in Russia when she gives them freedom.
None will be more patriotic than they, amongst all the mixed races which
make up the empire. They have given a foretaste of this already. A
writer in the _Contemporary Review_ last December (Gabriel Costa), in
telling us something of what "Freeing Six Millions" would mean, points
out that while no Russian Jewish soldier could hold commissioned rank,
nor aspire even to be the conductor of a military band--though none
could be more fitted--nor be accepted as an army surgeon, yet when the
call to arms came great numbers of Jewish doctors were summoned to the
front, and obeyed the call. He also tells us how Jews of all social
grades contributed freely to the Red Cross funds, whilst--most wonderful
of all--the Jews of Kishineff, where one of the most terrible of all
Russia's "_pogroms_" or massacres (the word means literally destruction)
took place, offered up prayers in its synagogues for the success of the
Russian army.

It is a very significant and instructive fact of life that where great
issues have to be faced together, whether it is by few or many, those
barriers which have been considered fundamental, of race, religion, and
politics, have a strange way of disappearing and sinking out of sight.
Sometimes it is disconcerting, but often it is most encouraging and even
inspiring. And so when Jews are confronted by the tremendous issues of
this war they find that they can pray for those towards whom but lately
they have been burning with a deep sense of indignant wrong. Russians
and Poles have been at enmity together for generations now, but in face
of the common peril and the common foe all this is forgotten, and the
Russian officers sent to head-quarters soon after the invasion of Poland
their grateful recognition of the heroism of the Polish peasant children
who made a regular practice of carrying water to the Russian trenches,
often under fire and at imminent peril of their lives, while steadfastly
refusing all payment. So with Jew and Christian. The death of the Chief
Rabbi of Lyons on the battle-field has been told in papers all over the
world since it first appeared, last October, in the _Jewish World_. "The
Chief Rabbi was bringing spiritual consolation to the wounded Jewish
soldiers on the battle-field, when he was called to the side of a dying
Roman Catholic trooper. The dying man, evidently mistaking the rabbi
for a priest of his own faith, begged him to hold the crucifix before
his eyes and to give him his blessing. While holding a crucifix and
whispering words of comfort to the mortally wounded soldier the rabbi
was shot dead!" No less appealing and encouraging for those who long to
see nationalities and great races appreciating and admiring each other's
national temperaments and racial characteristics are some of the
incidents which Gabriel Costa gives us in his _Freeing Six Millions_.

     "First to attract notice," he says, "is the exploit of a Jewish
     medical student from Wilna, named Osnas, invalided home on
     account of wounds received in saving the colours of his
     regiment during the fighting in East Prussia. 'Do everything
     that is possible to save the life of Osnas,' telegraphed his
     commander to the hospital authorities. The medical student has
     been honoured by the bestowal of the military Cross of S.
     George.

     "When events come to be sifted, we shall probably hear of
     similar instances of Russo-Jewish patriotism. As for our own
     brave soldiers, there can be nothing more convincing, nothing
     more gratifying than the emphatic reply of a wounded corporal
     of the Black Watch to a 'voice' in a crowd of sympathetic
     Londoners. 'And the Jews,' queried the 'voice,' 'What are they
     doing?' The Highlander replied, without a moment's hesitation,
     'Doing? Well, their duty. We had three with us, and bonnier
     lads and braver I don't wish to see. They fought just
     splendid.'

     "No less arresting was the avowal of a private of the Berkshire
     Regiment. 'We had ten in our company,' he said, 'all good
     fighters, and six won't be seen again. So don't say a word
     against the Jews.'"

Why has Russia's attitude hitherto, then, been, and for so long, one of
rigid exclusion? The Pale, to which they are limited, includes only the
ten provinces of Russian Poland, and fifteen provinces in Western
Russia, and the arrangements were made first by the government of
Catherine the Great in 1791, and definitely settled in 1835. Even there,
though by law they are entitled to live and follow their particular
tastes and callings freely, yet we are told that "harassing laws
restrict their initiative and make even their right of residence within
the Pale itself become something of a chimera." Why is this policy of
vexatious exclusion so persistently followed? We are told that it is
because the Jewish element is a sordid and deteriorating influence, bad
for the local and national life alike, and a hindrance to the nation's
progress. This, however, was clearly not the view of M. de Plehve when,
as Minister of the Interior, he received a deputation of representative
Jews petitioning for an extension of civil rights. He is reported to
have said to them, "It is not true that the Tsar and myself regard the
Jews as an inferior race. On the contrary, we regard them as
exceptionally smart and clever. But if we admitted Jews to our
universities, without restriction, they would overshadow our own
Russian students and dominate our own intellectual life. I do not think
it would be fair to allow the minority thus to obtain an advantage over
the majority in this way." He did not seem to see that, as those in
question were _Russian subjects_, the very ability to which he gave his
testimony was being prevented from enriching the national life. This is
a fallacy as old as history itself, and pursued by that shortsighted
Pharaoh on the Nile of whom it is significantly said, by way of
explanation of his folly, that "He knew not Joseph!" As we read the
records of Scripture--and the historical books are for the most part
extraordinarily dispassionate and free from undue Hebrew bias--we see
that neither Egypt, Assyria, Chaldea, nor Persia had any cause to regret
giving Jews a place in their national life, and that their fatal
mistakes, even with the Jews themselves, lay in _not_ following Jewish
counsels.

The Jews have what can only be called a genius for patriotism, and in a
way not to be explained they breathe in this spirit very deeply towards
any nation which bids them welcome, and offers them a home. During my
first service in Siberia, described in another chapter, at Ekaterinburg,
three years ago, a young soldier in Russian uniform walked slowly into
the room, and took his place with a most wondering expression on his
face. He was, I found, a young Jew, and had received baptism some time
before in England. The manoeuvres had brought him to that part of
Siberia, and to his great amazement he had heard just before, that in
that unlikely place, there was to be on the following Sunday a service
of the Church into which he had been baptized. In my conversation with
him afterwards, however, it seemed to me that I was speaking not to a
Jew but to a Russian. Somewhere, no doubt, he is fighting now, and as
patriotically, I feel sure, as his comrades in the ranks. Is it good
policy to waste such good material as this, to restrict the national
assets in this way, and keep back its powers of expansion and
development? To ask such questions in these days is to answer them.

     "I have been discussing," says Mr. Costa in his most
     instructive article, "with Jewish folk in London, Russian men
     and women of culture and refinement, the prospect of this dream
     becoming a reality. They incline to the belief that if Russia
     is really in earnest over the matter, and is not propounding it
     as a strategical move; if, in our time, she will hurl to the
     dust the grim, hope-excluding walls of the congested Pale, she
     cannot but open up an era of unexampled greatness and
     prosperity. With that wonderful intellectual force, now held in
     check, applied to the advancement of Russian culture and
     progress, the Empire of the Tsar might awaken and expand beyond
     the most ambitious dreams of its dead-and-gone autocrats."

Just as we are led to believe that a people gets the government it
deserves, so we may well be brought to think that possibly, with respect
to this virile and persistent race, the nation gets the Jews it
deserves. As a policy which is meant to degrade must have a degraded
class as its result, so to give every part of the nation's life and
equipment full equality of opportunity is to get the best the nation as
a whole has to give in return. We are further told by Mr. Costa that
while the Russian conscript fights because he must, the English Jew
fights because he loves to serve the country which has been all in all
to him and his. And thus "Peer's son and first-born of the _ghetto_
grocer rub shoulders in the task of upholding the nation's honour. In
the Regulars, Cavalry, Guards, and Territorials, here you shall find the
cream of Anglo-Jewry, the sons of merchant princes, men who hold the
purse-strings of nations."

I suppose there is no country in the world where so long and so freely,
as with us, the Jews have been able to give their full contribution to
the national life, and who amongst us with any breadth of view and
largeness of heart does not see what this has meant to us in the past,
and is meaning for us just now?

If any race can truthfully say that they have never had a chance that
race is the Jews. They have not even had a proper chance of accepting
Christianity. The Christian Church marvellously soon became their enemy.
The nations of the world, without exception, since the first destruction
of Jerusalem have taken up the same position of antagonism. All this
could only have one end.

In the new time to come, let all this be forgotten, and the nations use
all their national life to the full, and confidently await the result.
Nothing to my mind can withstand the influence of our Christian religion
when it is presented as the religion of _Christ_ Himself; and the modern
Jew, I for one believe, will find it as hard to go on kicking against
the pricks as his great co-religionist did when he encountered the real
thing in S. Stephen, and was already prepared to receive it as his own
experience. Nothing can stifle loyal and dutiful service in the hearts
of her children when a nation is a true mother to them all. This, in
Church and State, we can honestly claim is our own aim towards the Jews;
let us express the Emperor's confident hope once more, and say, "Some
day it will be like that in Russia."



CHAPTER XII

OUR COUNTRYMEN IN THE EMPIRE


"There are no two powers in the world--and there have been no other two
in history--_more_ distinct in character, _less_ conflicting in
interests, and more naturally _adapted_ for mutual agreement and support
than are Britain and Russia."

It is in the full endorsement of these carefully-weighed statements,
from a most experienced authority, that I wish to write this last
chapter. Looking back upon the past to the days of Ivan the Terrible and
Queen Elizabeth, and reviewing the situation in the Russian Empire
to-day, and, above all, looking forward to our immediate future, it
seems to me that our countrymen in Russia have had a real mission to
fulfil, and have done it worthily and well.

They have, from the first, prepared the ground for what has come up for
a great decision to-day, our splendid opportunity of having Russia for a
friend. And they have not done it by working and planning, still less by
scheming for it, but, just as we should wish our countrymen to extend
our influence the world over, by being honestly and consistently true to
their own nationality, and worthily representing British traditions and
ideals.

There is one testimony, if I may venture without undue complacency to
give it, to the estimation in which our nationality is held, which does
not suggest that we are really considered, even by those who have of
late so often glibly said it, to be degenerate and decadent and not fit
to hold the possessions we have, or shape the destinies of the many
peoples who own our rule. I have never met any one yet, of another
nationality, who did not think it a compliment to be mistaken for an
Englishman. It is not often that one can make such a mistake, but I have
met Dutchmen and Germans, and Russians also, who just for a moment or
two, from dress, expression, or speech have made one feel that they were
fellow countrymen. Young Russians especially, though different in
physique, for often they are built on huge lines and are enormously
strong, after receiving an English education from a very early age,
wearing English dress, being pleased to meet us, may easily be
considered to be English; and I doubt if there are amongst them any who
would not feel it a compliment to be so considered, while they would
resent the same mistake being made with regard to any other nationality.

Englishmen, therefore, it will be admitted, have kept up the standard in
Russia, and not let down the good name of their own country. When I was
visiting the Troitsk Gold Mine, in 1912--a little short of three days'
and three nights' journey, on the other side of Moscow--to spend Sunday
and give them their first English services, the surveyor, when showing
me over the mine and its workings on the Monday, told me that those
large illustrated almanacks which we have, with a picture in the middle
and information about Church and parish round the sides, and which are
so often seen on the walls of the houses of our own working-classes, are
also very popular amongst their own work-people.

"They are got up in the Russian style, of course," he said, "with a
Russian illustration, and so on; but you will be interested to hear that
a great part of the paragraphs round it is given up to describing
English ways and ideas, societies and arrangements, and always with
appreciation and approval."

It must ever be remembered that people who cannot leave their own
country must judge largely of other countries by what they see of those
who come from them. If English ideas, manners, and customs are held in
favour and esteem in Russia and Siberia it can only be, therefore,
because English men and women have worthily represented them there in
business and commerce, by upright and moral conduct.

It does not usually fall to the lot of a bishop in these days,
many-sided as are his sympathies, and various as are the claims made
upon his time and attention, to see much of actual business and
commercial life, nor have I seen much of the working of factories and
workshops in the other countries in our jurisdiction; but in Russia and
Siberia one of the most important parts of a visitation has been the
going amongst the members of a staff while they were actually at work so
as to get to really know them and their daily lives.

Outside Moscow, for instance, are nearly twenty mills and manufactories;
in and outside Petrograd are some of the largest and best-managed cotton
and thread-mills in the world; at Schlusselberg, on the Neva, there is a
large and splendidly equipped print-works for Asiatic trade; at Narva, a
day's journey from Petrograd, is a huge factory employing some 70,000
people; and in Siberia are the great mining enterprises, some of them
employing from 18,000 to 20,000 people of both sexes. And in all these
places the staff is composed of our own countrymen, and numbers,
sometimes as many as sixty.

I have always, in these places, stayed with the manager, and have had
opportunities of meeting the staff socially and for services, going into
every department in the mill, factory, or mine, and, as these visits
were not short, making friends and learning their experiences, seeing
their outlook and often acquiring the history of the enterprise, with
all its ups and downs, and successes and failures, from the very first.
Then I am a guest always at the Embassy in Petrograd, and am asked to
meet all who can be brought together by kind and courteous host and
hostess. It is the same with the Consul and his wife in other cities.
And above all is it so when I am the guest of the chaplain, who takes
care that I meet every one in the community who cares about it. I get
thus into close touch with all sorts and conditions of men, and am
compelled to come to the conclusion that very few can have anything like
the opportunity of really knowing, in a general way, his own countrymen
in Russia as the bishop who goes amongst them. It seems to me,
therefore, to be a very real duty to give my tribute to what they have
done to make England well spoken of and well thought of throughout the
empire.

Englishmen have succeeded amongst the Russians for precisely the same
reason that they have succeeded in building up vast colonies and a huge
empire. They have developed, and not exploited. There is a way of
becoming rich by exploiting resources at the expense of those employed.
Instances will occur to the reader at once, and probably are not far to
seek. I myself have seen this degrading process conducted on a fairly
large scale in another hemisphere, while the most terrible and sinister
instance of all is that of the Congo, out of which King Leopold and his
agents amassed an immense fortune in a few years, while the natives
engaged in collecting the rubber were reduced from twenty millions to a
little over seven. No more deadly and wicked _exploitation_ was ever
known.

True _development_, on the other hand, is cultivating and bringing into
use the resources of a country and improving the conditions of life for
those who produce them at the same time. We have been accused again and
again, even by writers of our own, of exploiting India, and of being
indifferent to the true interests of its people. No one has ever known,
for the Hindoo temperament is vastly different from our own, whether
its people did not think so too. But the war has declared it. When India
rose as one man and asked only to be allowed to give all for those who
had ruled them, then we all knew that we had been understood all over
that vast dependency of ours as being there not only to get but to give,
not to exploit but to develop.

Is it not true of Egypt also, where the _fellaheen_ along the Nile are
of the same race in general habits and employments as their ancestors of
thousands of years ago, though different ruling races have come and
gone, that in all those ages they have never enjoyed true liberty, and
never reaped the fruit of their labours and toil without oppression
until they came under British rule? It need not weigh at all with us
that this is not known or acknowledged, as it ought to be in Egypt. We
are not given, fortunately, to worrying as to what other people think
about us. Perhaps it might be better for us sometimes if we were. But we
know that in time Egypt will learn, as India has learnt, that we are
amongst them not to exploit them, but to develop their resources and to
improve in every way that is possible their own character and condition.
Thus has it been also in Russia; and I felt a very thankful man, proud
of my country and nationality, when, a year ago, I could say to the
Emperor of Russia, "My countrymen are in Siberia, sir, not to exploit
but to help to develop Russia's resources and its people."

"I know it," he quietly said. And I gave him the following instance to
show him how rapidly and on what a large scale this is being done.

Some distance to the left of the Orenburg line which runs down from
Samara to Tashkend in Turkestan, and not far from Orenburg itself, only
reached at present by motor-car and camel, is a place called Tanalyk, an
English property. Not much more than a year ago there were there a
British engineer, surveyor, and assistants, with a little handful of
nomads, Kirghiz I should think, looking on and giving their labour. They
were engaged in prospecting, and drilling for copper. Now, even in this
short time, the preliminary work of a great mine has been begun, and
there are from eighteen to twenty thousand Russians engaged in it.
Accommodation has been provided, schools are going up, their church and
priest are there, medical and surgical treatment is within the reach of
all. There are stores where they can buy everything they need in the way
of food, dress, appliances, all sorts of conveniences and comforts that
they have never seen before, at prices which give no profit to the
company. Those who used to taste meat perhaps once a fortnight can have
it daily, for they have good wages. They are becoming more handy as
workmen and improved in physique, and the next generation will be better
still. Education and the amenities of life are increasing their
self-respect. The determination of the staff not to overlook bad work,
their wish to see them improve in character, to set them an example in
their own family life, are all having their effect. "Is it possible," I
asked, "to put too high a value on such good work as this which adds to
Russia's enterprise, wealth, and resources, and makes all those
thousands of men, women, and children better subjects of your Majesty
and the empire?"

The managing director of the Russo-Asiatic Corporation, which began its
development with Tanalyk, and has gone on to other and more important
developments still, told me that when local option was granted, two
years ago, he himself was given the sole right of deciding whether those
thousands of Russians should have _vodka_ or not, although it was at
that time a government monopoly, and important as a source of revenue.
He decided that _vodka_ should not be sold, but that a very light and
harmless beer might be provided for those who wished to have it. It was
only to be sold by one man, however, and if an instance of
drunkenness occurred he was to lose his right to sell. The amount paid
for rent has been spent on a People's House for the recreation of all
employed at the mine.

[Illustration: _Camels at Work--Summer._]

Another manager friend of mine told me that he had helped his people to
become more sober by selling _vodka_ at his own stores at a lower price
than that of the government. It sounds a strange way of doing it, no
doubt, but the sale was restricted to Wednesdays and Saturdays. When,
therefore, on the other days there came would-be purchasers anxious to
have _vodka_, with the plea that there was a wedding or a christening or
some other domestic festivity at which it would be needed just to
complete the enjoyment, they were always told that they could not have
it except on the stated days. This was not hardship, for the government
shop was open, though the higher price was demanded there. This they
would not pay and so went without it, and yet the christening or wedding
passed off no less happily--perhaps even more happily; and thus,
gradually, amongst the Russian staff, and through them the work-people,
there grew up the idea that the results of _vodka_ were to be avoided.

Nothing could be more encouraging than the experience of the management
of this particular mine in trying, by example and discipline, to lift
their foremen and subordinates of the staff out of what used to be
thought a perfectly natural and pardonable weakness, but now throughout
the empire is being acknowledged as a national sin.

It will surely and easily be seen by any thinking reader that this
initiative on the one hand, and responsiveness on the other, promise
well for our future relations with each other, and explains, perhaps,
how the Russian _Entente_ has passed quite naturally into an Alliance,
which some of us hope and believe will be permanent and stable for many
generations.

Our _Entente_ with France has been indeed an _Entente Cordiale_, and it
is now more cordial and friendly than ever; but it is not easy to
conceive of anything in the future beyond an _Entente_ and Alliance. We
can be real and staunch and faithful friends as becomes those who are
near neighbours, but little else opens out before us. Is it possible to
think of anything between ourselves and Germany, even when the war is
over and many years have passed, except the gradual removal of sadly
embittered feelings and outraged convictions and beliefs? Our ideas of
what can rightly be called world-power and world-forces are so
diametrically opposed that it passes the imagination of man to conceive
what great world-purpose we and they could undertake together, for some
time.

But directly we think of ourselves and Russia as side by side, and with
confidence in each other, there is no limit to what we and they may hope
to accomplish together for our own peoples, for humanity, and for GOD.
Not only have we constitutional and religious ideals in common, but our
own countrymen are already at work all over the richest and most
promising part of their vast empire, and upon the only right lines any
one can adopt if the object in view is to increase the resources,
character, and ability of a people at the same time.

The Englishman of the ordinary and normal type cannot be content to look
upon the man he employs as merely a wage-earner. He wants, as he would
put it, "to give him a leg-up" besides, and our countrymen in Siberia
have sought just to give that "leg-up" to their employs, to better their
conditions of life and educate their children; by precept and example to
give them wholesome recreations; to help them to see that there is
nothing laughable but everything that is disgusting in such a vice as
drunkenness; and to help them in every way they can to manly
self-respect.

This is tremendously far-reaching in its results. The Christian paradox
is fulfilled here also. "To lose is to save, to save is to lose." To try
and get all one can out of work-people and give as little, is to have
little enough to show by way of good results. To think not of the work
alone which the wages claim, but of the man who is to do it; to try
one's utmost to make him more of a man for his being employed and to
lift up his self-respect, is straightway to increase the value of
everything he does, and of the work for which his wages are paid.

The explanation of "dividend or no dividend" is far simpler than it
seems, and the New Testament contributes to it. If only a little
additional value is placed upon the manhood and womanhood of those
employed, and a little increase given to self-respect, responsibility,
and conscientiousness where hundreds and thousands are employed, then it
requires no great powers of insight to see how rapidly what has hitherto
been a failure may become a great commercial success. I attach the
greatest importance to the fact that our countrymen in Siberia whom it
has been my great privilege to know and make my friends are conducting
their great enterprises as honourable and chivalrous men, and have, with
public-spirited Russians, like-minded with themselves, laid the
foundations of a true Anglo-Russian friendship and agreement. In this I
think we are extremely fortunate in the opportunity which world events
have brought us, and through no effort of our own. Our own people at
home, for the most part, are probably not yet convinced that this is our
GOD-given opportunity. I have already freely owned my former prejudices
and misconceptions, and explained how quickly they passed away, and I
know that others must feel and think as I used to do myself, and that
they have had comparatively little as yet to clear their minds, though I
trust what is written in these pages may be a help in that direction.
But this opportunity which has come to us was possible for Russia's
great neighbour at one time, as she was told by one of the most
far-seeing men of Europe, but it was carelessly and even contemptuously
refused. Great opportunities for great nations never return.

Just as Bismarck pleaded for friendliness with England and against naval
expansion for his own country, so also he was quite alive to the
possibilities of Russia and its "wonderful materials for making history
if it could take the virility of Germany into its national character."
The Emperor William, however, differed with his great chancellor upon
this as upon other policies he advocated, maintaining that the
"Sclavonic peoples are not a nation but only soil out of which a nation
with an historic mission may be grown."

We in this country are not as alive to the magnificent opportunity which
is now afforded us as are our countrymen in Russia who know its people
and its potentialities. And all grades of Russian society, from the
Emperor and his Court downwards, also know it, and all who are
intelligent in their patriotism desire it. This is what a Russian[14]
wrote at the beginning of 1914, when no one was even dreaming of what
the close of the year was to see:--

"All progressive Russia is united in desiring a _rapprochement_ with
England, because there is a universal belief that the influence of
English constitutional ideas on Russian internal politics will be most
beneficial to the interests of the people and to the general welfare of
the country. Being one of the youngest constitutional countries, Russia
is holding out a hand of friendship to the mother of all
constitutions--England; and she hopes that good relations between them
will bear much fruit. This, on the other hand, explains to us why all
reactionaries in Russia are so up in arms against the _Entente_ with
England. There is also a widespread opinion all over Russia that English
interests require Russia to be a strong and civilized country with a
firmly established constitutional government. If England wishes to have
an ally that ally should be a strong one, and Russia cannot be strong so
long as reaction is in full swing. The Russian Liberals hope that
constant intercourse between the two countries will lead to a better
mutual understanding, and will ultimately improve the state of affairs
now prevailing in Russia."

[Illustration: _Camels at Work--Winter._]

France is Russia's ally, and well and faithfully have they both kept the
terms of their alliance. We are a new friend only, but it was the
British flag the populace demanded, at the beginning of the war, in
Petrograd. They went in vast numbers to the British Embassy, and asked
for it; and our Ambassador (Sir George Buchanan), though he had only
two, handed one of them down, asking them to take care of and return it.
They received it with the utmost reverence, bent down and kissed it, as
many as could get near, and then, in procession, went cheering and
singing through the streets of the capital, the British flag carried
high before them.

During the visit of the Fleet earlier in the year to Cronstadt a party
of _moujiks_ were in a boat within the harbour; and, in their
excitement to get near and see all they could of a British warship, they
upset their boat, and were thrown struggling into the water. Instantly
some twenty of our bluejackets (officers and men) dived amongst them,
and in the shortest possible time had them safe in their righted boat
again. This made a great impression in Russia, and, though news travels
slowly in that vast country, this story went everywhere, continually
evoking the comment, "Then it's true, all that we've been told about
them--and their _officers_ dived in to save the lives of poor peasant
folk!" It is a tremendous link between us and them to feel, as they do,
that, while claiming all the rights of rank and authority, we feel human
ties to be supreme. And just as we read of the British officer early in
the war lying wounded in both legs, but lifting himself up with
difficulty and crying, "Now _my bonny lads_, shoot straight and let them
have it!" so we read of the Russian officer who addresses his men under
similar circumstances as "little pigeons"--a special Russian term of
endearment. Thus, while there is leadership in the officers of both
countries, yet towards their men there is, as boys would say, "no side."

We have only now to read and watch the course of events to keep free
from prejudice and suspicion, as we try and discern the signs of the
times, and the forces already at work will quite naturally and normally
bring the two peoples together in enduring friendship. It is a most
significant thing, surely, that three writers so utterly different from
each other in their whole outlook upon life as the great surgeon, the
popular novelist, and the independent thinker[15] should go to the Holy
Land for totally different objects, and _all_ find the Russians, above
all other nationalities, get very close to their hearts, both for what
they were themselves, and for what it was so evidently in them to
become.

The most important link of all, however, and that which I have kept in
mind in everything I have written, between ourselves and Russia, is that
our two races are at heart deeply religious people. The difference
between us is that the devout Russian _shows_ his religion in every
possible way, while the Englishman, with his characteristic reserve,
seems to hide it or to speak about it with difficulty. When I was
talking last year with a British officer in a specially responsible
position, and religion came to be mentioned, he said very shyly and
with hesitation, "Well, I have my bit, but I don't talk much about it,
though it's everything to me, and I could not live without it." It's
"everything" to us and to the Russians, though our public expressions of
it are so entirely different. And in Russia once again, as, in former
experiences in my episcopal work, I have found that the religious
men--when they are the real thing--are all round the best men.

And thus I come to the end, hopefully confident about our relations with
the Russians and our work in the world together. This book was asked of
me, and pressed upon me at a specially busy and harassing time, and as
it has had to be written amidst many distractions and interruptions its
imperfections and deficiencies, as I well know, are many, yet it has
been a most congenial task to write it. It has been written throughout
with the one desire, while giving as true a description of Russia and
its people's life as I could, to lead my own countrymen to view them
with a friendly eye and a kindly heart. This is essential if we are to
have sound and stable relations with each other. Treaties and other
diplomatic agreements are indeed mere "scraps of paper" without it, and
when the Prime Minister addressed the deputies from the Russian Duma at
a luncheon given them in the House of Commons in 1909, he truly and
appropriately said that it is not enough to let governments sign
treaties and agreements, but the nations themselves must have feelings
of friendship for each other, without which all agreements and alliances
are not worth the paper on which they are written. I believe--firmly and
thankfully I believe it--that our feelings towards those of whom I have
written are already those of sympathy and friendship. I am sure it is so
in their feelings towards us, and that we are in consequence going to
find in Russia not only a new ally but a very faithful one, and a loyal
and true friend for many generations.

FOOTNOTES:

[14] Boris Lebedev, in the February number of the _Russian Review_.

[15] Sir Frederick Treves, Mr. Robert Hichens, and Mr. Stephen Graham.



INDEX


Archangel, 210, 221.


Berlin, Social conditions in, 202-03.


Catharine the Great, 27.

Cleanliness of Russians, 59-60.

Climate of Russia, 31-32;
  of Siberia, 179-81.

Convict Labour, 149.


Duma, The, 25, 160, 226, 267.


Ekaterinburg, 40, 222, 223, 244;
  Convent at, 83;
  Bishop of, 80, 83.

Elizabeth, The Grand Duchess, 81, 133, 134-37.

English Church, position of in Russia, 1-2, 205-10;
  relations with Russian Church, 90-93, 210-13, 226-27;
  work of in Russia, 89-91, 175-79, 221-24;
  relations with the Jews, 228 sqq.


Germany, contrasted with Russia, 201.


_Ikons_, Ubiquity of, 21-24, 54, 100, 121;
  at the Kremlin, 29;
  "worship of" by peasants, 57;
  in churches, 87, 104;
  the blessing of, 82.


Jews in Russia, 26;
  religious work among, 218, 228 sqq.;
  persecution of, 234-35, 240;
  as soldiers, 241-42, 246.


Kirghiz, The, 8, 37, 53, 89, 164 sqq., 255.

Kremlin, The, 29, 31.


Language, The Russian, 7-11.

Libau, 7, 36, 219-20.


Magdalena, Abbess, 83.

Moscow, 7, 8, 12, 28, 31, 33, 138, 175, 192, 250, 251;
  the Archbishop of, 78-83;
  English Church at, 218.


Neva, The, 14, 251;
  the blessing of, 112-13.

Nicholas II, 2, 113, 118, 122 sqq., 156-57, 254-56.

Nicholas, The Grand Duke, 113, 132.


Orthodox Church in Russia, relations with the State, 71-74;
  clergy of, 74 sqq.;
  their relations with the people,92-94;
  services, 91-94, 101-05;
  arrangement of churches, 102-05.


Passport system, The, 16-18.

Peter the Great, 27, 72.

Petrograd, 27, 31, 83, 101, 112, 125, 157, 168, 175, 190, 192, 195, 199,
        212, 251, 252, 263;
  English Church at, 216.

Poles, relations with Russia, 25, 42-44, 241.


Riga, 7, 30, 83, 220.


_Samovar_, The, 36, 171.

Siberia, 7, 12, 17, 19, 40, 52, 89, 110, 123, 124, 152, 159, 168 sqq.,
        244, 251, 259;
  the prisons in, 141-51.

Steppes, The, 8, 162 sqq.

Students, Problem of, 192 sqq.;
  numbers of, 192;
  at Geneva and elsewhere, 194-95.


Tea, how drunk in Russia, 37.

Tiumen, Abbot of, 87-89.

Travelling in Russia, 11-14;
  by sledge, 32;
  on the Steppes, 170-75.

Tsarevitch, The, 125-26.


_Vodka_, Prohibition of, 41, 42, 51, 155;
  attraction of, 65, 256-57.

Volga, The, 14, 16-17, 44.


Warsaw, 10, 29, 31, 228 sqq.;
  Archbishop of, 75-78.

Wolves, 179, 181-83.

[Illustration: _MAP ILLUSTRATING THE AUTHOR'S JOURNEYS IN RUSSIA_]

PRINTED BY A. R. MOWBRAY & CO. LTD.

LONDON AND OXFORD



TRANSCRIBERS' NOTES


Page viii: In the list of illustrations, page for the Convent at
Ekaterinburg corrected from 87 to 78

Page 43, 239: Spelling of Russification/Russifaction as in original

Page 81: intercommunion standardised to inter-communion

Page 82: anteroom standardised to ante-room

Page 112: out-door standardised to outdoor

Page 175: tarntass corrected to tarantass

Page 180: Tolstoy's standardised to Tolstoi's





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