The Russian students are an interesting class in Paris. There are some one hundred and thirty of them in all, nearly all Hebrews, as the Russian universities admit only about four Jews to every hundred students. Their monthly allowance from their families is often no more than twenty dollars, and out of that they must pay board, room-rent, and all outside expenses. These Russian “new women” are extraordinary students. Mlle. Lepinska, one of the first to graduate in medicine, presented a thesis six hundred and sixty pages long to her astonished professors.
With pitying admiration the world looks on the struggle for enlightenment of these brave sons and daughters of Judah. Their trials and tribulations, their heart-burnings and disappointments, have inspired poets and painters, novelists and playwrights. From Chamisso’s Abba Glusk Leczeka to Korolenko’s Skazanye o Florye Rimlyaninye, czars have died or have been assassinated, statesmen have risen and fallen, but the Russian Jew, like the heroes of the poem or novel, did not wait to conquer by submitting. Thanks to his indomitable spirit he has made unexampled progress. Within the last twenty-five years he has not only emancipated himself, but he is now the most potent factor in the struggle for the emancipation of his countrymen. Within these years he has become the recognized torch-bearer of liberty and enlightenment in darkest Russia. Uvarov justified his inhuman treatment of the Jews by the plea that they are “orthodox and believers in the Talmud.” The latest excuse (1904) of von Plehve was that “if we admitted Jews to our universities without restriction, they would surpass our Russian students and dominate our intellectual life.” But neither the former prevails, nor the latter, nor their henchmen who fill the columns of the Grazhdanin, Kievlyanin, Novoye Vremya, and the like. The words and writings of such noble and world-famous Russians as Popoff, Demidov, Strogonoff, Bershadsky, Shchedrin, Tolstoi, and the cream of the Russian “intelligentia,” as well as such foreigners as Mommsen, Gladstone, Leroy-Beaulieu, and Michael Davitt, will have their salutary effect. The consciousness of the Russian people will awaken. The attitude lately manifested both in St. Petersburg and the provinces against the Kontrabandisti, a libellous play written by an apostate Jew, Levin, will become more and more general. Then the heroic effort and the unexampled progress of the Russian Jews will be more fully appreciated, and a patriotic nation will gratefully acknowledge its indebtedness to that smallest but most energetic and self-sacrificing portion of its heterogeneous population, the Jews, who have done so much, not only for Jewish Russians, but for Christian Russians as well, to hasten the time when “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.”
(Notes, pp. 327-330.)