Russia eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 819 pages of information about Russia.

The interests of agriculture, too, are opposed to the old system.  Agriculture cannot be expected to make progress, or even to be tolerably productive, if it is left in great measure to women and children.  At present it is not desirable that the link which binds the factory-worker or artisan with the village should be at once severed, for in the neighbourhood of the large factories there is often no proper accommodation for the families of the workers, and agriculture, as at present practised, can be carried on successfully though the Head of the Household happens to be absent.  But the system must be regarded as simply temporary, and the disruption of large families—­a phenomenon of which I have already spoken—­renders its application more and more difficult.

CHAPTER X

FINNISH AND TARTAR VILLAGES

A Finnish Tribe—­Finnish Villages—­Various Stages of Russification—­Finnish Women—­Finnish Religions—­Method of “Laying” Ghosts—­Curious Mixture of Christianity and Paganism—­Conversion of the Finns—­A Tartar Village—­A Russian Peasant’s Conception of Mahometanism—­A Mahometan’s View of Christianity—­Propaganda—­The Russian Colonist—­Migrations of Peoples During the Dark Ages.

When talking one day with a landed proprietor who lived near Ivanofka, I accidentally discovered that in a district at some distance to the northeast there were certain villages the inhabitants of which did not understand Russian, and habitually used a peculiar language of their own.  With an illogical hastiness worthy of a genuine ethnologist, I at once assumed that these must be the remnants of some aboriginal race.

“Des aborigenes!” I exclaimed, unable to recall the Russian equivalent for the term, and knowing that my friend understood French.  “Doubtless the remains of some ancient race who formerly held the country, and are now rapidly disappearing.  Have you any Aborigines Protection Society in this part of the world?”

My friend had evidently great difficulty in imagining what an Aborigines Protection Society could be, and promptly assured me that there was nothing of the kind in Russia.  On being told that such a society might render valuable services by protecting the weaker against the stronger race, and collecting important materials for the new science of Social Embryology, he looked thoroughly mystified.  As to the new science, he had never heard of it, and as to protection, he thought that the inhabitants of the villages in question were quite capable of protecting themselves.  “I could invent,” he added, with a malicious smile, “a society for the protection of all peasants, but I am quite sure that the authorities would not allow me to carry out my idea.”

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Russia from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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