25 JANUARY 1908, Page 9

THE RUSSIAN PEASANT, The Russian Peasant. By Howard P. Kennard,

M.D. (T. Werner Laurie. 6s. net.)—The author of this volume has gained his knowledge of the peasant "from personal contact, and living with him in the villages in all parts of European Russia." In con- sequence, he has had exceptional facilities for obtaining realistic colouring for his picture of the effects of "Russia's poison— Bureaucracy and Church" upon the lives of the peasants. As is usual in books on Russia, the picture is one of almost unrelieved gloom,—of ignorance, squalor, and superstition, on the part of the peasant, and of a deliberate attempt to foster these conditions on the part of the ruler and the priest. It is apparently impossible to overstate either the misery and moral darkness which envelop the great bulk of the hundred million Russian peasants, or the responsibility of the governing classes for this state of affairs; and Mr. Kennard's "pictorial" style serves to convey this fact in a manner that is certainly extremely vivid. But there are exceptions even among the peasantry, and in these exceptions the hope of the future lies. Speaking of a secret meeting of peasant reformers in Central Russia which he was enabled to attend, and which made an ineradicable impression on his memory, he says : "Never have I seen a more sedate, more dignified body of men than the simple Russian peasantry, ranging in age from thirty to seventy, the majority bearded and endowed with highly intellectual features, their broad foreheads peeping prominently out from under masses of long loose hair brushed negligently back behind the ears." The portion of the book which the author devotes to Russian ethnological history is succinct and interesting, and the photo- graphs of village life which are interspersed throughout greatly enhance the value of the volume.