CHAPTER VI
THE RULE OF THE BUREAU

"My ideas about a change or regime and the kindred proposals that have been the cause of so much hatred and bloodshed," said Pobiedonostseff, the Mentor of Alexander III., "are neither new nor complex"--he was talking to a knot of three or four persons including Komaroff and myself. "What a government ought to aim at is the happiness of the people. Now the elements of happiness vary with the different peoples and with their degrees of culture. What is needed in a legislator, therefore, besides a knowledge of the nation's actual requirements, is skill in adjusting his measures to these--this rather than a spirit of system. The Russian people differ widely from western nations both to their advantage and their disadvantage, and because they differ no one formula can be safely applied to both. Call our peasants unsophisticated or uncivilised in the European sense, if you will, the fact remains that neither their spiritual instincts nor their moral restraints are adequate to subdue the ferocious passions that lie dormant in their breasts without the aid of physical sanctions. That is the leading fact and it should receive due weight. To a large extent our Church is answerable for this backwardness. What any government worth its salt must do, then, is to see that the Christian spirit is infused into the Church and keep the revolutionary poison from entering the veins of the nation. This does not involve stagnation. Progress there certainly must be, but it will have to be marked by ordered gradation. The triumph of Liberalism to-day would be the dissolution of the bonds that keep the community together and would entail decomposition."

These were the maxims that inspired Pobiedonostseff's policy at its best. But they remained maxims to the end. It was not until the middle of the next reign that he regretfully

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