CHAPTER XIX
THE DOWNFALL OF THE TSARDOM

TSARISM, its own stock of vitality exhausted and with no outer sources to draw upon, languished and decayed rapidly. Time and its changes acted on the predatory State as potent solvents. Every stage in the forward progress of Europe was a new set-back or a fresh danger to the system. The growth of manufactures in neighbouring countries; the incipient industrialisation of Russia; the general rise in the standard of living; the spread of technical instruction; the improvement in educational methods and the corresponding sharpening of commercial and industrial competition; the advance of social and political sciences; the softening of manners; the increase of tolerance; the corresponding religious movements in Russia; and that invisible undercurrent without a name, which is so often alluded to as the spirit of the age, all tended to isolate the Tsarist State, render it obnoxious to the European community, and accentuate the centrifugal tendencies of its component parts. The work of governing the 180,000,000 became more and more difficult, seeing that whatever orientation a minister or a cabinet might now give to his policy, the general result was invariably negative.

If, for instance, a man took office who, like Pobiedonostseff, made a vigorous effort to surround the country with a Chinese wall in order to keep out the destructive tendencies of the west, he was vehemently decried not only by the press and the intelligentsia at home, but by all liberal and radical Europe1 as well. If a narrow-minded bureaucrat like Count Dmitry Tolstoy strove to hinder the Jews from spreading cosmopolitanism and religious indifferentism among a people whose meagre sociability and slight traces of civic virtue

____________________
1
I, who was one of Pobiedonostseff's unsparing critics, recognised the man's honesty and the rigorous logic with which he conceived his aspect of the problem.

-371-

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