A Life under Russian Serfdom: Memoirs of Savva Dmitrievich Purlevskii, 1800-1868

By Boris B. Gorshkov | Go to book overview

MY GRANDFATHER

(III)

As serfs belonging to the same person who paid a set rent and worked only rarely for the lord and who were therefore not over- worked in the estate mills (unlike in earlier times) and living with- out pressures from outside officials, our predecessors possessed full freedom to develop their own economic life. The village’s central location, its twice-weekly markets, its two-week fair in Sep- tember, and the villagers’ own sharpness all assisted them. They only lacked honesty and integrity. Therefore not many of our peas- ants prospered. Nor was the way of life at that time pleasant. The houses clearly revealed poverty—out of over six hundred houses in the village, only ten were made of stone and no more than ten of the wooden houses were much different from huts by appear- ance.

One of those stone houses belonged to our family, which, from time immemorial, had enjoyed the respect as well as the confi- dence of those even outside the local and town residents. I do not know anything about my family’s forebears, except that, in the past, they had lived in one of the estate’s twenty-three hamlets, a place called Purlevo. That is why, when they moved to the village under Prince Repnin, they came to be called Purlevskie (from Pur- levo). I heard a lot about my grandfather, Petr Petrovich. My late father, Dmitrii Petrovich, had a great appreciation for his business and often talked about what he himself had witnessed. My clearest memory is when the village commune elected my grandfather bailiff. Having prayed to God, he called the entire commune to the village office and said:

-41-

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A Life under Russian Serfdom: Memoirs of Savva Dmitrievich Purlevskii, 1800-1868
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iv
  • Contents vi
  • List of Illustrations vii
  • Notes on the Translation ix
  • Introduction 1
  • The Memoirs of Savva Dmitrievich Purlevskii 1800–1868 20
  • Preface 21
  • Our Village, Its Inhabitants and Owners 25
  • My Grandfather 41
  • Myself, My Childhood, and My Family 49
  • And My Adult Life Began 61
  • My Marriage, My Landlord, My Trade, and Other Things 69
  • Life outside the Village Observed 77
  • The Bitterness of Serfdom Realized 93
  • My Activities in Estate Life 102
  • My Future Fate Resolved 109
  • Epilogue 122 111
  • Epilogue 115
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