CHAPTER IV
THE TSARDOM

AMONG all the odd freaks in the political domain, comparable, say, to the leaning tower of Pisa in the architectural sphere, the most amazing was the mighty Tsardom. For it was a synthesis of contradictories. A number of ethnic fragments without inner cohesiveness, with mutually conflicting tendencies, were loosely fastened together and wrought into a vast political organism. Out of a race prone to anarchy and devoid of political sense, an omnipotent bureaucracy was formed which claimed to regulate not only the business of the State, but the acts, the words, and the thoughts of the individual. Assuredly it was no small feat to knead a peasantry that loathes war and abhors discipline into one of the finest armies in Europe. Yet it was achieved by the Russian Tsars who preceded Alexander II. Viewed from without, the strong amalgam as contrasted with the smallness of its parts, suggested the pudding stone that consists of rounded pebbles embedded in flinty matrix. Contemplated from within, it might be likened to a political cord of sand, twisted by some mysterious spell. This rope of three strands, orthodoxy, autocracy, bureaucracy, or, as the Government put it, God, the Tsar, and the fatherland, with their army and bureaucracy, held together the mutually hostile elements of the Empire. And the strongest of the three was the bureaucracy which with its sixteen grades was created by Peter the Great after the Prussian model. Before it became a mere parasite, the bureaucracy democratised the nobility, ennobled individual peasants, and prepared the population for the action of the Church, thus enabling the Empire to attain high place in the hierarchy of nations. So powerful had this political entity grown by the middle of the eighteenth century that Catherine II. said, "If I could but reign two hundred years, all Europe would have to bend its neck

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