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into the motley company of the representatives of the Oriental Hordes, Kirgissans, Bouchares, &c, and above all, of gipsey fortune-tellers.
An opinion universally admitted by metaphysicians is, that our ideas are always more or less influenced, by the objects which are continually about us. Dr. Clarke exemplifies this axiom.—Surrounded in his hotel by a circle worthy of exercising the pencil of a Hogarth or a Calot, the idea of vermin never abandons him. When he leaves his sordid lodging, it accompanies him to the palaces of our Emperors,—into whose presence he never had the honour of being admitted;—to the saloons of the Russian nobles, to which he rarely had access;—to the antichambers of their footmen, with whom he is better acquainted;—and into the taverns of the populace, which he seems to have taken pleasure in frequenting. He dares to assure us that " it is a fact too notorious to admit dispute, that from the Emperor to the meanest slave, throughout the vast empire of all the Russias, including all its princes, nobles, priests, and peasants, there exists not a single individual in a thousand, whose body is destitute of vermin." (page 71).
Dr. Clarke, impatient to repeat his experiments on the national character, u makes himself as Hie a Russian as possible," and dressed in a caftan, bids adieu to his friends of the oriental diplomatic corps, and goes incognito to what he is pleased to call "one of the public balls of the citizens." There he finds pretty much the same kind of company, as he is accustomed to at his lodgings.—Chinese, Cossacks, Calmucks, but especially Gipsies, who to amuse their old acquaintance, execute a " national dance" called Barina,—which to our positive knowledge,never did exist as a national dance in our country.* He is entertained with the sound of the balalaika, a national instrument of music which pleases his ear much,—and he laments that the Russian ladies have "laid it aside." Now we must be permitted to think differently.—Notwithstanding the respect with which we regard this monument of the essays of our forefathers in music, we rejoice at seeing the guitar and the mandoline take place of the balalaika,—because we are convinced that the change advances us one step in the career of innocent enjoyment, and consequently in that of civilization.
In order to judge correctly, we must compare:—to com
* The wont barina is the feminine of barine, derived from boyarin, which signifies lord or master. The national dances are almost always accompanied with song-s, in which the word barina frequently occurs, meaning- mittreu in the phraseology of love.—Dr. Clarke probably mistook a word in the song for the name of the dance.—The balalaika is a kind of guitar with tiro strings, very common among- the lower classes-in Russia.
pare, we must examine, under every point of view, the question we propose to determine. This precept is taught to boys in every country, and we doubt not that Dr. Clarke well remembers it. We have beheld him sufficiently instructed in the manners of the Russian peasantry, and in the customary amusements of the populace at Moscow during the Easter holidays;—he is now about to turn his eagle-eye on more elevated objects. The honour of introducing him to the club of the noblesse is reserved for a Russian nobleman, Prince Viazamskoye, (who, by the by, " married an English lady,")— "although it was dangerous to have the character of hospitality totuards Englishmen. —We cannot omit observing, that Dr. Clarke, though he appears willing to offer his thanks to this Russian prince for his courageous complaisance, acquits himself of them in such a way, as to induce the belief, that he repents of having once in his life been grateful and polite to a Russian—for he thus concludes his compliment:—" If his highness* be now living, he is requested to pardon this testimony of his generous condescension. I feel sensible, that a congeniality of sentiment will render any apology superfluous, for the sacrifice I have elsewhere made in the cause of truth.'7 We have the advantage of being personally acquainted with the nobleman in question, and we can assure our readers, that there is "no congeniality of sentiment" between him and Dr. Clarke.
We shall resort to our traveller himself for a description of the ball. " The coup d'ail, upon entering the grand saloon, is inconceivable. During ten years that I have been accustomed to spectacles of a similar nature, in different parts of the continent, I have never seen any thing with which it might compare. The company consisted of,near two thousand persons; nobles only being admitted. The dresses were the most sumptuous that can be imagined; and what is more remarkable, they were conceived in the purest taste, and were in a high degree becoming." Here we see by a sudden metamorphosis two thousand of those same nobles, who were represented, page 28, as little differing from brutes in their mode of living upon their estates, make their appearance as accomplished gentlemen, with their beards shaved, and their sheepskins left at home with the vermin which devoured them;—we see the Russian ladies surpassing in elegance those of London and Paris.
• The title of prince gives in Russia no particular distinction to those who bear it, over the nobles in general, except that the style of excellency, is yielded them by courtesy;—that of /n-ghnen is excltrsively reserved to princes of the blood.
Nothing is said of the supper, though Dr. Clarke excels in his description of banquets.—There is reason, however, to presume that these savage Boyards, did not content themselves with raw turnips, and that the refreshments corresponded to the rest of the exhibition. But the Doctor and his companion fail not to act a brilliant part themselves on this occasion, by the admiration which their little queues excited in some of the young Russian coxcombs. Of such coxcombs there are not a few both at Moscow and St. Petersburgh, and we readily allow, on the subject of this anecdote, and of the good fortune it procured to the poor ragged barber, that it has all the appearance of being rigorously true.*
That Dr. Clarke should utter all the remaining nonsense of his fourth chapter, and fill the whole of the fifth with stuff of the same kind, does in no way excite our surprise. His mode of making observations, could lead him to nothing that was not contemptible. He was ignorant of the language;—he entered Russia with the predetermination to calumniate every thing he saw.—We have thus far followed him in his progress. When praise and censure are distributed by such hands as his, we must blush at receiving the former, and need little consolation, at finding the latter, sometimes not altogether undeserved. But that the Editors of the Edinburgh Review should have discovered in this undigested compound "interesting particulars relating to the country and its inhabitants," (p. 339,) does astonish us:—we must congratulate them upon having discovered pure gold in such a mass of impurities.
The fifth chapter commences thus: "In whatever country we seek original genius, we must go to Russia for a talent of imitation. It is the acme of Russian intellect; the principle of all their operations."—Many writers and travellers have already reproached the Russians with the want of inventive genius. Speaking comparatively with other nations, we think the accusation not without foundation.—Taken as a general position, it seems to be absolutely false,—unless the assertion be correct, that the intellects of Russians differ from those ol
* To this acknowledgment of our faith in Dr. Clarke, we will add one more. He may in the immense crowd which filled the cathedral, on the night of the Resurrection, have seen a pickpocket steal from liis friend, Mr. Cripps, a handkerchief. This testimony is suspicious;—but the thing is not impossible- We will admit it as certain, and ask, where there are not pickpockets!—In London!—The fact proves nothing as to the general character of the nation,—and for our own part, we should hesitate in attributing this shameful practice to the totality of the English nation, even if the capita! of England were inhabited only by pickpockets.
other people, and that the human species among them, is inferior to the rest of mankind.—To draw an impartial parallel of the genius of nations, whose progress in civilization has been unequal, it is necessary to take, as the point of departure, that from which they all equally set out, and the distances they have respectively traversed in a given space of time,— and after this, we must keep an exact account of all the local circumstances which may have accelerated or retarded civilization in each of them,—such as the influence of government, of climate, and even of geographical situation. Russia, having appeared last among the civilized nations of Europe, had undoubtedly, in some respects, great advantage over those who preceded her, in consequence of the mass of information which their experience afforded.—The first step she took was therefore to appropriate to herself that experience; in other words, to imitate them. Until the spirit of imitation had thoroughly pervaded the people thus endeavouring to overtake others,—until they had cast off the thick incrustation of ignorance which enveloped their intelligence, the inventive powers must necessarily have remained inactive. This was more especially the case with Russia, because the passage from imitation to invention, was rendered difficult, in proportion to the progress of the human mind in other countries. In the early stages of civilization, the surest augury, in fact, with respect to inventive genius, is an uncommon dexterity in imitation; just as the boy at school, who is most successful in copying the manner of the best writers, is most likely to excel in the art of original composition, when he reaches maturity.
All the other nations of Europe, which were overwhelmed and subjugated by the hordes of the north, in the fourth century, beheld after a time their conquerors melted into the mass of the ancient inhabitants. The fragments of art and science which had escaped destruction, might re-appear in safety, when the tempest was allayed, and facilitate the reconstruction of the edifice of Learning. Spain and Russia are the only countries where this was not the case.—After resisting during some centuries the arms of their invaders, these two nations ultimately succeeded in shaking off the yoke? and expelling the strangers. But even here the Russians had the worse lot of the two.—The Moors were not like the Tartars: they were, in every respect, superior to the nation they had vanquished;—whereas the Tartars (Dr. Clarke's declaration in their favour notwithstanding) were at least as much barbarians as the Russians.
At the epoch of the expulsion of the Tartars (about the middle of the sixteenth century) our nation had made no advances in civilization, beyond the point which it had attained, before their invasion. On the contrary, a long continued system of domestic oppression, under the tyranny of foreign tribes, must have impressed on its character, deep traces of inertness not easily to be erased. The few chronicles and legends in the Sclavonic, Latin and Greek languages, which the piety, or if Dr. Clarke pleases, the superstition, of monks had collected in their obscure convents, were committed to the flames;—from the general destruction were only saved, some treaties concluded with the Eastern empire by the GrandDukes Oleg and Igor in the years 912 and 945, and a compilation of the code of Justinian, introduced into Russia by the Grand-Duke Jaraslaf, in 1017, under the title of Russian 'Justice (Pravda Rouskaja). To these may be added some fragments of different annalists, from Nestor the monk of Nief, who wrote about A. D. 1100, down to John of Novgorod, who lived about A. D. 1230.
Such were the feeble sparks from which was to be rekindled with us the torch of civilization.—Before we offer to our readers a very succinct abridgment of the course, which was followed for this purpose, from the expulsion of the Tartars to the present period, we request their attention to a circumstance well deserving of consideration. It is this—that every thing necessarily emanated from, and was subordinate to, the will of a government supreme and unlimited.
The Tartar yoke was not entirely shaken off until the year 1521, in the reign of Ivan Vasilievitsh II. Under the same monarch, the first printing press was established in Russia.— In 1556, or agreeably to some authors, in 1562, the metropolitan Macary published "the Acts of the Apostles," the first book printed in our country. The first edition of the Bible did not appear till 1581.
The Tzar Fedor Alexeyevitsh, brother to Peter the Great, founded at Moscow, the Academy of Theology, about the close of the seventeenth century. This is the true date of the commencement of civilization in Russia.—As her political relations with the other European powers became more extensive and important, the want of information, the absence of industry, and the pernicious influence of the prevailing prejudices, became daily more sensible. Either from wisdom, or from necessity, the government exerted itself to find a remedy for this multitude of defects; and it succeeded in its endeavours, if not in proportion to the void which was to be filled up, at least in the degree requisite to meet the exigencies of the