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military aggression, it must be acknowledged that the cause assigned has long ceased to be operative. Russia reached the mouths of her rivers long ago, and has got beyond them, unless the Danube is also to be reckoned as a Russian stream. Yet the exertions of the Russian Government to augment its military forces were never greater than they have been in the last six years.
She had already the power to bring half a million of men into the field. But the grand measure of universal conscription sanctioned by the Ukase of January 1, 1875, will add another half million to that number of her active troops, and another million to the reserve. These enormous forces can only be raised and maintained for aggressive purposes.
The territory of Russia is invulnerable. Nobody has the slightest interest in attacking it, unless she begins by attacking some one else. If attacked, as she was in 1812, she may rely on her climate, her extent, and the patriotism of her population for effectual defence. Setting aside ambitious considerations, we should say that to burden a poor and thinly peopled country with the maintenance of an enormous army is the most mischievous policy that can be conceived. It is a perpetual drain on the manhood of the Empire. It enormously weakens its productive powers. It leads to a frightful waste of life. When the Emperor Nicholas once expressed his surprise at the inferiority of the men in his army to the seamen of his fleet, in point of discipline and condition, Count Woronzow replied that what the army wanted was more food • and less drill.? Hundreds of thousands of human beings have been sacrificed in the last fifty years to the stupid pride of exhibiting to the world the shows and pageants of a great military establishment. What renders this state of things still more lamentable and extraordinary is that the Russians are not a warlike or combative people. Even in their drinking bouts they do not fight. They are entirely ignorant of all that goes on abroad, and entirely indifferent to glory. Nor can any conceivable benefit accrue to the people of Russia by threatening and molesting their neighbours or by the acquisition of territory of which they have already more than enough. If their country were attacked they would defend it with undaunted courage, but as a race of men there is no people in the world less disposed to slaughter their neighbours. Military service is with them the result of absolute, blind, unquestioning obedience. They submit to it as they submit to a law of nature, because they are docile and brave. Yet surely military service as it is understood in Russia is the most detestable form of slavery; for a peaceful peasant is converted by it, without the least will of his own, into a blood-hound, a destroyer, or a victim. And this burden is now hung with redoubled weight upon the back of every peasant in the Empire. The whole community is crushed by it. Military service is the primary obligation of life, and must affect every other relation of society. We think therefore that in omitting all notice of the Russian army, and of the new organisation of it, Mr. Wallace has lost sight of the most important feature in the whole question.
Not less unaccountable is his omission of any general view of the system of Russian finance ; for the amount of taxation borne by every member of the community is an essential element in the condition of the people, whilst the total rerenue of the Empire and the mode in which it is raised is the true measure of its power. We come here and there in this book on a detail which leads us to suppose that the burden of taxation is enormous in relation to the wealth of the people. Thus Mr. Wallace gives us what he terms the budget of a family of five persons in Northern Russian in a good year. He estimates their income at 121. 5s. (English money), derived principally from the sale of game and fish or caviare. Their outgoings are as follows:
Rye-meal (2,240 lb.) to supply the deficiency £ s. d. of the harvest
7 0 0
2 5 0 Clothes and Boots
2 10 0 Fishing Tackle, Powder and Shot, &c.
0 10 0
So that if these figures are correct, the taxes amount to more than a sixth of their available income. In another place he computes the rate of taxation at 23 roubles and three quarters per homestead, or more than 31. In addition to this direct taxation, the excise on spirits, which is the main stay of the Russian revenue, is of course paid by the inordinate drunken habits of the peasantry. The returns of the poll-tax and land-tax amount in round numbers to fifteen millions sterling, and of the excise on spirits to twenty-five millionsforty millions sterling levied on sixty millions of peasants, for these are taxes which sit lightly on the upper classes and on the towns: they are paid by the bulk of the rural population. We should be disposed to infer from certain notices on the subject scattered through this book, that there is hardly any population in the world more severely taxed than the Russian peasantry. Take for example India. Some of the accounts of the Ceded Western Districts recently passed through our hands, from which it appeared that the rate of taxation was not more than one shilling and three pence ahead ! We cannot attempt to reconcile or explain so enormous a difference. Probably the data of the calculations are different. But these are precisely the points on which we looked to an accomplished writer like Mr. Wallace for information; and if his book had any claim to completeness, he ought to have given us at least as full an account of the finances of Russia, as has recently been lone by Mr. Leroy-Beaulieu in the * Revue des deux Mondes,' and he ought especially to have shown the effects of the financial system on the people. the present moment Russia is burdened with a debt of 300 millions sterling, bearing interest at five per cent., two-thirds of which are held abroad, and the interest must be paid in gold, whilst the entire monetary transactions of the Empire are carried on in a depreciated paper currency.
These facts alone are of the gravest significance, but Mr. Wallace says nothing about them.
One of the oddest things in Russia is that the very Ministers who govern upon the present system are the men most alive ta its defects and evil consequences. The Minister of Finance is, we are informed, a very able and intelligent man, and a strong free-trader : the Minister of War has also been remarkable in the last few months for his strenuous and consistent resistance. to the party who clamour for war. The heart knoweth its own bitterness. A poll-tax, a brandy-shop-tax, and exorbitant customs duties are the three worst forms of taxation; and it would be interesting to trace the effects of these fiscal expedients on Russia. The more we learn of that country, the
more it seems to us to be governed on principles of public economy and administration diametrically opposite to those which are generally accepted and practised in Western Europe. Russia would increase her strength, wealth, and well-being far more by the introduction of a few sound ideas of government, than by raising immense armies to threaten or invade adjacent provinces, scarcely more barbarous than a great portion of her own dominions. If she laid aside her aggressive weapons, she would find nothing more easy than to enter into a cordial alliance with this country for instance. It is her army and diplomacy that keep her at arm's length from civilised Europe, and inake her an object of not unmerited suspicion. No conquests and no successful intrigues in foreign countries can compensate her for the loss of the confidence and esteem of the world.
VOL. CXLV. NO. CCXCVIII.
Even for the purposes of diplomacy and war the present standard of statesmen and commanders in Russia cannot be reckoned very high. Although nobody doubts that the present century has witnessed a constant and continual increase in the bulk of the Russian Empire--the extent of its territory, the numbers of its subjects and its soldiers, and the nominal amount of its revenue and its debt, we question whether Russia in the nineteenth century occupies a position of as great relative importance in the affairs of Europe as the Russia of Peter the Great and of Catherine II. Those were sovereigns of genius, in spite of their profligacy and their crimes; they attracted to their service a long array of able statesmen and successful generals; their reigns were a series of victories and conquests over the Swedes, the Poles, and the Turks. They established and consolidated an Empire. The Russians, always an imitative people, borrowed or reflected the taste, the culture, and the liberal philosophy of France. It was Falconet who placed the statue of Peter on his rock; it was another Frenchman, Montferrand, who raised the sumptuous dome of the Isaac Church. During the reign of Catherine, especially, Russia exercised a direct and powerful influence on the politics of Europe: there was not a Power which did not court her alliance or dread her hostility. The wars of the French Revolution broke the French political and social connexion, though the use of the French language in Russia still remains. But the alliances and sympathies of the Court became German. The gallant national defence of Russia in 1812, and the part she took in the campaigns of 1813 and 1814, effaced the humiliation of Austerlitz, and raised the Emperor Alexander to a great position in Europe. That indeed was the culminating height of power and influence ever attained by a Russian sovereign. But the long reign of his brother Nicholas is now, by common consent, regarded as a disastrous and disgraceful failure. His policy was altogether based on an insolent and brutal system of compression at home and abroad : and when the day of trial came, and the vast military preparations of his life were brought to the test of war, they speedily collapsed and buried the Czar himself under their ruins. The reign of his son has been rendered illustrious by his attachment to the cause of peace and by the emancipation of the serfs. The Empire has made considerable internal progress. There has even been some growth of a national literature and symptoms of popular life. But we see no indications whatever of greatness. There is no Russian in existence who can be said to enjoy or to deserve a first-class European fame. Two or three intriguers of low calibre in the Foreign Office at Petersburg pass for their greatest statesmen. Count Moltke relates in his amusing letters written from Moscow at the time of the coronation, that there are 8,000 generals in Russia, and that the Emperor has about 180 of them attached to his person. But at this moment, no Russian general is known to exist capable of inspiring confidence to a great army or to direct the intricate strategical movements of 300,000 men.
A grand duke, notoriously incapable, was placed at the head of the army of Bessarabia.
The chief command was even offered to a Prussian! In the war of 1854, the Russian army produced one very able engineer, Todtleben; but that was all. It may be inferred from these facts that although the bulk of the Russian establishments has increased, the intellectual power to direct them to the great ends of politics and war falls very far short of what it was a hundred years ago.
The reforms and improvements which have been introduced in Russia from the days of Peter the Great to the days of Alexander II. have, in fact, all originated with the supreme power of the Court. Mr. Wallace says truly :
• The political (he means social) history of Russia during the last two centuries may be briefly described as a series of revolutions effected peaceably by the autocratic power. Each young energetic sovereign has attempted to inaugurate a new epoch by thoronghly remodelling the administration according to the most approved foreign political philosophy of the time. Institutions have not been allowed to grow spontaneously out of popular wants, but have been invented by bureaucratic theorists to satisfy wants of which the people were still unconscious. The administrative machine has therefore derived little or no motive force from the people, and has always been kept in motion by the unaided energy of the central Government. Under these circumstances it is not surprising that the repeated attempts of the Government to lighten the burdens of centralised administration by creating organs of local self-government should have been eminently unsuccessful.' (Wallace's Russia, vol. i. p. 344.)
And in another place :* It may seem strange to Englishmen that rulers should voluntarily take upon themselves the Herculean task of regulating the relative numerical force of the different social classes, when it might be much better fulfilled by the principle of supply and demand, without legislative interference; but it must be remembered that the Russian Government has always placed more confidence in bureaucratic wisdom than in the instincts and common sense of the people. (Vol. i. p. 441.)
Strangely enough in speaking of the correction of administra