The Empire of the Tsars and the Russians

By Anatole L. Leroy-Beaulieu; Zaenaefde A. Ragozin | Go to book overview
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BOOK II. CHAPTER IV.

The Slavic Element and Russian Nationality--Slavs and Panslavism--Slavs and Letto-Lithuanians--Formation of the Russian People: Its Different Tribes--Differences between them, of Origin and Character--Great- Russians (Velikorùss)--White-Russians (Bielorùss)--Little-Russians (Maloròss)--Ukraïnophilism.

ABOVE the Finns and Tatars, whose ethnological part in the making of Russia has been very unequal, comes the race which has subjugated or absorbed all the others, the race whose name sounds proudly to every Russian ear--the Slav race. On the place belonging to the Slavs and their kith and kin there is no possible doubt. Like the Celts, the Latins, the Teutons, they are part of the great Aryan race to which the sovereignty over the world seems to have fallen. To this common origin their physical type bears witness; so do their language and primeval traditions. Like Greek, Latin, and German, the Slavic languages are, sooth to say, but dialects of that Indo-European speech, of which Sanskrit is the oldest known form. The Slavic legends and tales, like the German ones, complete the data from which sprang the myths of India and Greece.* The Slavs are no more Asiatic than we are, or, if they are, it is only in the manner and degree that we are ourselves. Their establishment in Europe dates back beyond all historic times. It is not known whether the Teutons or they were the first to leave Asia; at all events there can have been but a short interval between the two migrations. Between the great

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*
We have at present a great number of collections of Slavic tales from all the Slav countries. For Russia, must be quoted first of all Afanássief's Collection: Naròdnyia Rùsskiya Skàzki (Popular Russian Tales); then come those of Khudiakòf, Erlenwein, Tchudinsky, etc. For Little-Russia, those of Rudchènko and Kùlish.

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