The Empire of the Tsars and the Russians

By Anatole L. Leroy-Beaulieu; Zaenaefde A. Ragozin | Go to book overview
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THE work herewith offered to the English-reading public is forbidden in Russia. The English or American reader will wonder at this: he should not. The Anglo-Saxon who wishes to judge of Russian matters must begin by divesting himself of American or British ideas. For a book to become officially naturalized in the domains of the Tsar, it is not enough that it should breathe the spirit of sympathy with the great Slavic people and respect for its sovereign. Autocracy, like faith, has its noli me tangere. It cannot allow either its acts or its principles to be discussed. And this is just what this book does, with a freedom obviously incompatible with the autocratic system. It would, therefore, be unreasonable to complain of the ostracism decreed against these volumes; it rather claims the author's thanks, as being tribute to his sincerity from the Russian censure. Indeed, he can boast a rare good fortune--that of being able to freely express all his friendliness towards Russia and her people, without a doubt being cast on his independence of spirit.

One thing I cannot too much impress on my readers, and that is that we are not justified, we Westerners, in applying to Russia the same notions and the same rules as to Europe or America. To do so would be the height of ignorance and unfairness. Yet this is the very error into which most foreigners fall. They suffer themselves to be imposed upon by the geographers, who assure them that Europe extends to the flat-topped ridge


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