Russia eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 979 pages of information about Russia.

From the Council of State the Bill is taken to the Emperor, and he generally begins by examining the signatures.  The “Ayes” are in one column and the “Noes” in another.  If his Majesty is not specially acquainted with the matter—­and he cannot possibly be acquainted with all the matters submitted to him—­he usually signs with the majority, or on the side where he sees the names of officials in whose judgment he has special confidence; but if he has strong views of his own, he places his signature in whichever column he thinks fit, and it outweighs the signatures of any number of Councillors.  Whatever side he supports, that side “has it,” and in this way a small minority may be transformed into a majority.  When the important question, for example, as to how far classics should be taught in the ordinary schools was considered by the Council, it is said that only two members signed in favour of classical education, which was excessively unpopular at the moment, but the Emperor Alexander III., disregarding public opinion and the advice of his Councillors, threw his signature into the lighter scale, and the classicists were victorious.



Two Ancient Cities—­Kief Not a Good Point for Studying Old Russian National Life—­Great Russians and Little Russians—­Moscow—­Easter Eve in the Kremlin—­Curious Custom—­Anecdote of the Emperor Nicholas—­Domiciliary Visits of the Iberian Madonna—­The Streets of Moscow—­Recent Changes in the Character of the City—­Vulgar Conception of the Slavophils—­Opinion Founded on Personal Acquaintance—­Slavophil Sentiment a Century Ago—­Origin and Development of the Slavophil Doctrine—­Slavophilism Essentially Muscovite—­The Panslavist Element—­The Slavophils and the Emancipation.

In the last chapter, as in many of the preceding ones, the reader must have observed that at one moment there was a sudden break, almost a solution of continuity, in Russian national life.  The Tsardom of Muscovy, with its ancient Oriental costumes and Byzantine traditions, unexpectedly disappears, and the Russian Empire, clad in modern garb and animated with the spirit of modern progress, steps forward uninvited into European history.  Of the older civilisation, if civilisation it can be called, very little survived the political transformation, and that little is generally supposed to hover ghostlike around Kief and Moscow.  To one or other of these towns, therefore, the student who desires to learn something of genuine old Russian life, untainted by foreign influences, naturally wends his way.  For my part I thought first of settling for a time in Kief, the oldest and most revered of Russian cities, where missionaries from Byzantium first planted Christianity on Russian soil, and where thousands of pilgrims still assemble yearly from far and near to prostrate themselves before the Holy Icons in the churches and to venerate

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Russia from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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