The Empire of the Tsars and the Russians

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

BOOK VI. CHAPTER III.

Effects of the "Table of Ranks" on the Nobility--The Functionary and the Landlord, Formerly Combined in the Person of the Dvorianìn, Frequently Dissevered in the Nobility of our Day--Hence Two Opposite Tendencies: Radicalism and Tchinòvnism--Revolutionary Dilettanteism --High Society and the Aristocratic Circles--The French Language as a Social Barrier--Cosmopolitism and Lack of Nationality.

ON the Russian nobility the more than secular rule of the "Table of Ranks" has laid an impress which not even the abolition of this official hierarchy would avail to remove. The strict dependence to which it reduced the entire nobility was by no means the only result of this institution, which estranged it from the other classes, and especially from the soil, the only natural basis of all lasting influence. The service of the state drove the nobility from their estates to launch them in the army or the administration, in the cities in every case, and detained the better part in the capitals, where alone rank and importance were attainable. The rich landowner, compelled to start out on the conquest of a tchin, left his property in the hands of stewards who frequently ruined him by their ill management or their dishonesty. The institution which bound the dvoriànstvo to the service of the state thus at the same time loosened his ties to soil and hearth, and did much to cast him adrift. The "Table of Ranks" robbed of all social influence the very nobility it had created. Hence the loathing of a portion of this same tchin-born nobility for the parent that kept them in a perpetual nonage and forbade all thoughts of emancipation.

According to the law, as established by Peter the Great, a family which, for two successive generations, abstained from

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