This book cannot pretend to be an exhaustive treatment of the subject with which it deals: the growth in Britain of knowledge of and ideas about Russia in the period from the voyage of Willoughby and Chancellor to the end of the Napoleonic Wars. More complete study of the pamphlets, periodicals, and correspondence of the seventeenth and above all the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries would undoubtedly produce additional evidence, though I doubt whether it would lead me to modify seriously the arguments I attempt to put forward. Nor is it a systematic account of the political and commercial relations between the two countries during these two and a half centuries. These have been touched on only so far as seemed necessary to indicate the background against which the British picture of Russia developed, and some knowledge of the more important political developments of the period has been taken for granted. I hope nevertheless that the book may be of interest, and not to historians alone, as a contribution to the study of a subject of some importance which has hitherto attracted comparatively little attention from scholars in Great Britain.
In writing it I have inevitably incurred debts of gratitude to a number of people. Indirectly it owes its existence to Richard Pares, who ten years ago first encouraged me to become interested in the Russian language and Russian history. More immediately, I am indebted to Professor D. B. Horn, Dr. R. M. Hatton, Dr. L. S. Loewenson and Dr. G. H. Bolsover, all of whom have read it in whole or in part and suggested improvements. Above all I owe a debt to my wife, on whose time and patience I have made great claims. It is scarcely necessary to add that I alone am responsible for any errors or omissions the book may contain.
Chapters Two and Nine have already appeared in a somewhat different form in the issues of the Slavonic and East European Review