Michael Bakunin

Michael Bakunin

Michael Bakunin

Michael Bakunin

Excerpt

About a hundred and fifty miles northwest of Moscow, in the province of Tver, there stood--and still stands--a long, roomy, one-storied eighteenth-century house. It was built in the sham classical style imported into Russia by Italian architects and was the typical Russian country gentleman's residence. The property of which the house formed part, and which bore the name of Premukhino, was of ample dimensions. It was an estate "of five hundred souls"; for in the eighteenth century, and long after, land was commonly measured in Russia by the number of male serfs on it. Premukhino lies in agreeable, slightly undulating country, which lacks both the immense fertility and the unbroken monotony of the great Russian plain. The house itself stands on wooded ground sloping steeply down to the river Osuga-- the outstanding feature of the Premukhino landscape. The Osuga is a broad, unhurrying stream. It empties into the Tvertsa, which is in turn a tributary of the Volga. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, life at Premukhino imitated the course of the Osuga. It was leisurely and spacious. It flowed toward Tver, the provincial capital, or-- more remotely--towards the great Muscovite city of Moscow. Petersburg, and the world beyond of which it was the outpost and the portal, was something distant, alien, and inconceivable.

In the spring of 1779, Premukhino passed into the hands of Michael Vasilevich Bakunin, a member of a family which had long occupied a respectable but undistinguished place in the annals of the Moscow nobility. Michael Bakunin had risen to the rank of "State Counselor" at the court of Catherine II. He was still in the prime of life when he retired to Premukhino; and though he seems to have been innocent of political ambitions or intellectual attainments, his memory was not unhonored by his descendants. Family legend celebrated his enormous stature, his muscular prowess, and his . . .

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