« PředchozíPokračovat »
act they received the Holy Communion at the hands of the Riga Protoierej;" among the list of names appended to one of these protocols there are such as Anna Bielajef, aged seven years, or Ivan Matviejef, aged four years; the youngest sectarian who was on that day restored to the Orthodox Church " by his own free will and unbiassed conviction," being Abram Nikiforof, aged just three years and a half. As a commentary on these free-will conversions I have heard from several men-small merchants and shopkeepers, who form the great mass of the Riga Raskolniks-an account of the sufferings, moral and physical, which they, being then mere lads, had to undergo for months, even years together in the casemates of the fortress of Dunamunde, whither Prince Suvorof had them transported, menacing them with sentences of hard labour for the remainder of their lives if they and their families refused to join the Orthodox Church. Of course now, with the change of times and system, Prince Suvorof has changed too, and so completely and successfully that, when in 1861 the movement among the Petersburg students had been magnified into a perfect revolution by the incapable GovernorGeneral Ignatjef, and the Emperor had appointed Prince Suvorof as his successor, the capital was filled with joy, nor have its inhabitants ever had occasion to repent of that feeling. If under Nicholas the Riga Raskolniks had nothing but curses for the Prince, their Petersburg brethren of the present day are full of praise for the clemency and protection he has shown them. When Mouravief began his reign of terror at Vilna, the Petersburg camarilla forwarded to him expressions of their admiration and a sacred picture of his patron the Archangel Michael. Suvorof was almost the only personage at Court, who did not hide his contempt for the Lithuanian Proconsul. This antipathy, not to say hatred, of the two Governor-Generals of St. Petersburg and Vilna for one another was so well-known, that, when Count Mouravief was appointed a few months ago president of the secret commission for trying Karakozof, and discovering if he had any accomplices in his attempt upon the life of the Emperor, no one was astonished to hear that on the very same day Prince Suvorof was dismissed from his post of Governor-General. The reason why I enter into all these details concerning a personage, who has already left the political scene of St. Petersburg is, that he serves as a capital sample of a Russian official in high places. An uncompromising persecutor of the Raskolniks, and an adroit flatterer of the German nobles at a time when the nobility from the Baltic Provinces carried everything before them at the Russian Court, and the Raskolniks had become a very thorn in the flesh to Nicholas,-Prince Suvorof became a liberal of the first water, the moment it turned out that that was the cue to be followed for the nonce.
As a still more striking proof of the entire want of independence, I had almost said of self-respect, in the Russian officials of high position and rank, I may mention the late conduct of M. Valujef. In the beginning of the present reign, and ever since he has been appointed to his present post, the Russian Minister of the Interior was the very pattern of an Anglomane in the Russian sense of the word, that is, he lent a helping hand to the rearing of that exotic plant, a Russian gentry according to the English pattern, dressed and wore his whiskers after the recognised English fashion, nay, went even so far as to imitate the traditional English unwillingness to take off the hat, by making it a point always to enter the so-called "Presence Chamber" of the Russian Home Office with his head covered. Well, this staunch partisan of everything English, this inventor of Russian Constitutionalism, knew how to trim his sails with such astonishing dexterity, that at the present moment he is one of the warmest supporters of the new ultra-Russian policy. In one respect, however, he had underrated the strength of the patriotic and Russophile stream which at present is carrying everything before it at St. Petersburg, and in this one respect, instead of standing by his once publicly expressed opinion, he preferred submitting to what was in fact no better than a personal insult, rather than to lose his high and lucrative post. M. Katkòf had gone so far in his Polonophobia as to accuse everyone of high treason, whose patriotism was not quite as red-hot as that of General Mouravief, or who employed means less rigorous than that illustrious Count. The first to draw upon himself the ire of the Moscow Gazette was the Grand Duke Constantine, during his lieutenancy at Warsaw; but when the Grand Duke had left his post in disgrace, and Count Berg was sent to replace him with the formal order to imitate as far as possible the example of his colleague at Vilna, M. Katkòf, looking about him for another personage worthy of being demolished by his mighty pen, selected for the purpose first M. Golovnin, Minister of Public Instruction, and a friend of the Grand Duke's, and subsequently M. Valujef, his own immediate superior, in so far as the censure had passed about this time from the Ministry of Public Instruction to that of the Interior. It is not worth while to enter here into all the details of the single combat engaged in by the editor of the Moscow Gazette with the Minister, a combat, which
* The Presence Chamber of every Russian Government office contains, besides a large gilt-framed saint's picture in the right-hand top corner of the room, before which a small lamp is generally burning, the so-called Zertsalo, a three-sided gilt-brass stand, topped by a double-headed eagle, presenting on its three sides printed copies of three Ukases of Peter the Great and of Catherine II., enjoining all officials to observe strict justice, punctuality, and promptitude in the fulfilment of their duty. In Russian official consideration, the sacredness of the Zertsalo is as great as that of the Saint's picture.
became all the more serious after the so-called preventive censure had been done away with by the Ukase which established a correctional censure, and gave the Minister of the Interior a discretionary power over all the periodical publications printed in Russia, very much like that exercised by his colleague at Paris over the French press. A few open strictures upon the Grand Duke, and by implication upon M. Valujef too, soon drew down upon the Moscow Gazette a ministerial avertissement, but, instead of submitting to this disciplinary measure, M. Katkòf availed himself of a clause in the new law, which permitted him not to publish the avertissement in his own paper, on condition of paying a pretty heavy fine for every number of the journal that should appear and not contain the ministerial stricture. At the same time that he declared his intention not to print the avertissement he had received, M. Katkòf fired off a new broadside against the Minister of the Interior, adding, that he cared for no one but the Emperor, and did not mean to bow to the decision of anyone else. This was naturally too much for M. Valujef's patience, and a few days after the publication of the obnoxious article, there followed a second avertissement, and an order stopping the publication of the Moscow Gazette for two months. As, however, the Gazette is not private property, but, as I said before, belongs to the University of Moscow, it was agreed to subsequently that the newspaper might continue to appear, on condition, however, that the two obnoxious editors, Messrs. Katkòf and Leontjef, were to cease all connection with the paper, which in fact passed into the hands of another editor, Professor Loobimof. So far there had been nothing remarkable in the whole affair, and everyone knowing anything about Russian society, would have been perfectly certain that, notwithstanding the apparent popularity M. Katkòf had enjoyed among the upper classes of his countrymen for the course he took during the war in Poland, notwithstanding the innumerable congratulatory addresses and telegrams, which had been sent to him for the last three years from all parts of the empire, and on the occasion of almost every public dinner given in the country—yet he had no real party to rely on, there would be no one to back him, and not another word would be said in his favour by society at large, after a minister had unmistakably pronounced against him. However, the mad attempt upon the Emperor's life gave a new turn to this affair, as well as to many far more important ones. was easy for the Court camarilla to convince so weak a man as the Emperor, that the shot fired at him was but the direct and inevitable consequence of the liberal system, that had gradually been introduced into the administration of the country, especially into the education of youth, and that the only remedy was an immediate return to the system of his never-to-be-forgotten father, viz., Autocracy in State
and Orthodoxy in Church matters. But the Moscow Gazette having been during the last few years the staunchest defender of this system, the Emperor-it must be added at the instigation of the Empress, who, notwithstanding her Hessian and Lutheran descent, is the firmest supporter Orthodoxy has at Court-during his late visit to Moscow, actually made good M. Katkòf's boast of caring for no one but his Majesty, and over the head of his Minister of the Interior, reinstated the two deposed editors in their former office. Yet, strange as it may appear to English readers, M. Valujef kept his office as heretofore, did not even make an attempt at opposition by pointing out to the Emperor the impropriety of allowing a Minister of State to be thus publicly insulted by overruling a legal decision of his to the detriment of his dignity and authority, and quietly submitted to the reinstatement of M. Katkòf as editor of the Moscow Gazette. What gives a still better insight into the general character of Russian high official society, is that no one was astonished at this impassiveness of the Minister, everybody taking it as a matter of course that he would certainly be rather put out at being snubbed by his imperial master, but would never dream of quitting his post on that account.
In favour of one man, however, an exception must be made to the general strictures passed here upon the majority of high officials in Russia. This is M. Nicholas Milootin; and I am all the more anxious to call attention to his many sterling qualities, as the course he is pursuing with regard to Poland has drawn down upon him, and I must add justly, a regular storm of indignation and hatred from the Poles and their friends in the Continental press. Nicholas Milootin (not to be confounded with his elder brother Dmitri, at present Minister for War) descends from an impoverished noble family, and although at present one of the most influential men in Russia, his private fortune is as modest now as it was when he began his career. Their well-known independence of character and probity did not allow either of the two brothers to continue in the service of the Government during the latter years of Nicholas' reign, and these qualities, not family connexions, of which they possess none among the Court camarilla, called the Emperor Alexander's attention to them. About the Minister for War nothing more need be said here, but that he is as poor as his brother,* and, considering his official position, this is in itself as high praise as any I could offer. As regards M. Nicholas Milootin, there can be no doubt that he is as ambitious as he is honest, evidently expecting to be one day Minister of the Interior (already previously he has filled the post of Under
* General D. Milootin has made it a principle never to accept an invitation to a ball, dinner, or evening party, and that for the simple reason that his means do not permit him to return the compliment.
Secretary at the Russian Home Office), but biding his time patiently, and preferring the essence to the semblance of power, contenting himself with the comparatively insignificant title and post of Member of the Council of State, although he is in fact the sole author and mainspring of all the recent measures adopted with reference to “pacified" Poland. It would be foreign to my purpose to enter into a detailed consideration of these measures, nor do I wish, by speaking favourably of the personal character of the man, to be understood to say one word in extenuation of the system of wholesale proscription and spoliation adopted by him towards the Polish nobility; all I want to point out is that in contradistinction to all the other members of the Russian Court and Government, M. Milootin has at least a system of his own, worked out by him independently and applied consistently whenever an opportunity has offered. It can be confidently affirmed of him, that just as the love of money or of honours has had no influence on him in the past, so will the fear of losing either or both never make him cede an inch of a plan he has once approved and adopted. M. Milootin is the unflinching representative of a radical, democratic system, which, as far as in him lay, he tried to establish in Russia at the time of the emancipation of the Serfs, when he was one of the most influential and active members of the St. Petersburg Emancipation Committee. At St. Petersburg there existed, of course, other influences, which counteracted his own efforts; besides, the Russian landed proprietors could not be treated with quite the same unceremoniousness as can be applied without the slightest difficulty to the Polish nobility, who, at St. Petersburg, have no one to defend them, and who are regarded as mere "rebels and revolutionists." It is therefore not to be wondered at that M. Milootin, perceiving at last so capital a chance of applying his system, set about ruining the Polish noble proprietors by wholesale, and democratising Poland with a will. Speaking from personal knowledge, I do not consider M. Milootin as by nature harsh and cruel enough to commit an outrageous injustice merely for the sake of the loss and pain it would inflict upon the class against which he nourishes that deadliest of all hatreds, the hatred of a theorist; but, like almost every man who has devoted his life to the application of one idea, he is not overscrupulous as to the means he employs for embodying this idea, all the more so, as the time left him for accomplishing his object may be cut short by some unforeseen accident or sudden change of wind in high quarters.
A. W. BENNI.