CHAPTER V
SOME PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS

WHEN I first went to Russia the Liberal movement that had been making headway ever since the death of Nicholas I. was in full swing, and in spite of such set-backs as the reaction caused by the abortive attempt on the life of Alexander II. was perceptibly nearing a climax. I came in contact with many of the eminent men of that epoch, and also with the type of Nihilist described by Turghenieff.1 In the course of those years I also had ample opportunities to study the Russian character in various types and in various social layers, and despite its defects, some of which are repellent, I felt drawn towards it irresistibly. The charm it sometimes possesses is hardly definable and yet at its best is positively captivating. Some Russians--Vladimir Solovieff was an instance--carry with them a mystical and subtle atmosphere of the marvellous, which throws work-aday concerns wholly out of the perspective, seems to melt solid obstacles, to shrivel up space, do away with time, and imbue one with the airy spirit of a thaumaturge. And yet the very essence of the spell is unaffected simplicity. One of the first phenomena that pressed its unfamiliarity upon my attention was the privileged status of educated women and the sterling qualities by which some of them justified and maintained it. Their minds were worthy of

____________________
1
By way of preparation I had studied Slav languages at the University of Innsbruck, and afterwards under Leskien at the University of Leipzig, and the first period of my sojourn in Russia was spent on the Steppes of the Ukraine where I acquired the language of the province. Since then I lived and worked for years in close contact with the Liberal movement under three Tsars, and in various capacities as a student, as a graduate of two Russian Faculties and Universities, as Professor of Comparative Philology at the University of Kharkoff, as the author of several literary and scientific works, as leader-writer of two Russian newspapers and editor of one, as representative of the Daily Telegraph, and adviser to my eminent friend Count Witte.

-61-

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