THE RUSSIAN MIND
EVER since the dawn of her history Russia has vegetated, rather than lived, apart from the main European currents-- social, religious, political, and scientific--untouched by the prevailing tendencies of the times and with a decided drift of her own to political decomposition. As the democratic spirit progressed in the rest of Europe, Russia more and more resembled the iceberg floating into warm climes and thawing as it moved. Her rulers would appear to have had no clear conception of the baleful kind of international entity into which their predatory State had become, of its essential antagonism to the European community of nations, or of the utter collapse of the whole fabric that must ensue upon a serious endeavour to change its nature and bring it into line with the communities of the West. It was only by dint of circumstance and brute force that the people, naturally rebellious to social discipline, had been knit into a loose organisation which aimed not merely at protection from outside aggression but also and especially at territorial expansion, and in this way had to dispense with creating conditions favourable to the highest social life.
The most merciless, if not the most convincing, analyses of the national character have been made by Russians themselves, who are prone to morbid introspection and also to exaggeration and often indulge in self-abasement. Take, as example, the utterance of Peter the Great, "Other European peoples one can treat as human beings, but I have to do with cattle." The celebrated Tshaadayeff, who headed the reform movement in the reign of Nicholas I. and bade his countrymen look to the West for light and guidance, described Russia as a superfluous member of the body of humanity. "No great truth," he affirmed, "ever came from out of our people. We have discovered nothing, and