The Empire of the Tsars and the Russians

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

BOOK IV.
HISTORY AND THE ELEMENTS OF CIVILIZATION.

CHAPTER I.

Has Russia an Historical Inheritance? --Is it True that she Differs from the West by the Principles of her Civilization?--Various Theories on this Subject--Slavophils and Occidentals --Origin and Tendencies of the Slavophils--In what Way the Apologists of Russian Civilization Meet the Detractors of Russia--Secret Affinities between Slavophilism and Nihilism--The Three Conceptions of the National History and Destinies.

AFTER wandering over the Russian soil and successively examining into the genealogical titles and the national temperament of the Russian Slav, we should like to find out what elements have been brought to him by history, how the ages in their course have confirmed or corrected the influences of clime and race, what features they have added to the character of the people, what bases given to its culture and institutions. "We know enough of the history of barbarous times when we know that they were barbarous," says one of the eighteenth-century philosophers, referring to Russia before Peter the Great.* This saying bears the stamp of the ignorant and naïve presumption which, in the matter of historical and political sciences, has led that century into so many mistakes and deceptions.

The Russians themselves will say at times they have no history. Some, like Tchaadáyef of old, deplore the fact in

____________________
*
Condillac, Modern History, vol. vi.

-223-

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