Teoona, alias Mr. Abercrombie, was a man of more than average intelligence. Besides his native tongue, he spoke English, German, and Russian perfectly; and he assured me that he knew several other languages equally well. His life had been devoted to missionary work, and especially to translating and printing the Scriptures. He had laboured first in Astrakhan, then for four years and a half in Persia—in the service of the Bale mission—and afterwards for six years in Siberia.
The Scottish mission was suppressed by the Emperor Nicholas about the year 1835, and all the missionaries except two returned home. The son of one of these two (Galloway) was the only genuine Scotsman remaining at the time of my visit. Of the “Circassian Scotsmen” there were several, most of whom had married Germans. The other inhabitants were German colonists from the province of Saratof, and German was the language commonly spoken in the village.
After hearing so much about foreign colonists, Tartar invaders, and Finnish aborigines, the reader may naturally desire to know the numerical strength of this foreign element. Unfortunately we have no accurate data on this subject, but from a careful examination of the available statistics I am inclined to conclude that it constitutes about one-sixth of the population of European Russia, including Poland, Finland, and the Caucasus, and nearly a third of the population of the Empire as a whole.
AMONG THE HERETICS
The Molokanye—My Method of Investigation—Alexandrof-Hai—An Unexpected Theological Discussion—Doctrines and Ecclesiastical Organisation of the Molokanye—Moral Supervision and Mutual Assistance—History of the Sect—A False Prophet—Utilitarian Christianity—Classification of the Fantastic Sects—The “Khlysti”—Policy of the Government towards Sectarianism—Two Kinds of Heresy—Probable Future of the Heretical Sects—Political Disaffection.
Whilst travelling on the Steppe I heard a great deal about a peculiar religious sect called the Molokanye, and I felt interested in them because their religious belief, whatever it was, seemed to have a beneficial influence on their material welfare. Of the same race and placed in the same conditions as the Orthodox peasantry around them, they were undoubtedly better housed, better clad, more punctual in the payment of their taxes, and, in a word, more prosperous. All my informants agreed in describing them as quiet, decent, sober people; but regarding their religious doctrines the evidence was vague and contradictory. Some described them as Protestants or Lutherans, whilst others believed them to be the last remnants of a curious heretical sect which existed in the early Christian Church.