The Empire of the Tsars and the Russians

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

BOOK III. CHAPTER III.

The Variety of Russian Nature Lies in the Alternations of Seasons--In what Way the Contraries of Winter, Spring, and Summer have Reacted on the National Temperament--Russian Character is all in Extremes, as the Climate--Its Contradictions--Its Flexibility--Its Adaptability--An Historical Embodiment of the National Character.

WE have perhaps dwelt too persistently on the uniformity of Russian rural scenery; it has, after all, a variety of its own, which powerfully reacts on man, and helps to account for the seeming contradictions of the national character. This principle lies not so much in the soil as in the climate.

Variety in Russia, and the beauty and picturesqueness it brings with it, come more from weather than space, from the succession of seasons more than from that of scenery. It is the opposite of what we see in southern countries, especially tropical ones, where vegetation and the outward appearance of earth and sky change little, where the seasons are known only by shadings, and life flows on amidst these conditions, even and monotonous in tenor. In the North, especially in a continental region like Great-Russia, the seasons forcibly contrast with one another; they clothe the earth alternately in garments violently differing in coloring. They lend nature the variety of aspect which enables the Russian to imbibe from them the variety of impressions and feelings he never could draw from the soil. Without leaving his village, he passes, at intervals of six months, through climates and pictures as different as though he were oscillating between pole and equator, scaling back and forwards a ladder of from twenty-five

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