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

By Boris B. Gorshkov | Go to book overview

MY ACTIVITIES IN ESTATE LIFE

(XVII)

Until 1828, while paying my rent regularly, I participated but little in the communal affairs of the village that did not touch me directly. I spent all my time on my commercial pursuits. I frequently heard complaints from my fellow-villagers about the bailiff’s abuses of power. Since I was a relative of his and got on well with him, I told him many times informally to improve the way he carried out his duties. I would tell him this in a straightforward, friendly way. This offended him, and he began to treat me unfairly. Either he would delay the issuing of a travel document for me, on the pretext that the landlord needed me there, or he would persecute me with anything else he could think up. As regards travel passes, there was no great problem.118 Paying no attention to the bailiff’s whims, I went directly to the landlord, who never hindered my commercial activities and always gave the order to issue me with a travel pass. On some occa- sions he reprimanded the bailiff in no [uncertain terms].

Once, instead of a travel pass, I unexpectedly received an order to be ready for a sale of iron produced at the landlord’s mills at the Nizhegorod fair...119! The rumors about the lord’s counting on me had come true.

118 In order to leave the estate temporarily, serfs (just as any social es- tate, including the nobility) had to have a document (internal passport, pass, or permit) which they obtained from the local authorities (bailiffs of landlords). Gorshkov, “Serfs on the Move,” 633–39.

119 On the Nizhegorod fair see Anne Lincoln Fitzpatrick, The Great Fair: Nizhnii Novgorod, 1840–90 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990).

-102-

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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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