14 FEBRUARY 1880, Page 15



THE author of this book is entitled to the praise of being an able and a cultivated writer, and of possessing a knowledge of his subject,—which, granting other necessary qualifications, entitle him to speak with authority. Among those necessary qualifications, the most important are a judicial temper and an attitude of neutrality towards the persons and things which fall within the purview of his criticism. What evidence does our author give of his possessing these two necessary attributes of a fair historian P Prima facie, his bias, supposing him to have any, would sway the balance of his sympathies in favour of Russia. For he claims to be a Russian. By such expressions as " we " and " our," he identifies himself with the Russian people. In the following sentence, moreover, the translator seems to place the nationality of the author beyond a doubt :—" It is of some im- portance that English readers should know that the author of the work, now translated, with some additions from the lately- published German original, not only writes with the authority of one familiar with the conditions of social and political life in Russia, but deals with the subject as a Russian." In the volume itself, on the other hand, there is a good deal of internal evidence which it is not easy to reconcile with a Russian author- ship, in the ordinary sense of the word " Russian." The author gives the following explanation, for example, of his having been obliged to give up his intention of studying at the University of Dorpat :—" The University of Dorpat, where lectures were given only in German, was bound to require from candidates for admission an amount of acquaintance with the Russian lan- guage which the author was not able to muster." This is a very singular obstacle to one who writes " as a Russian." There are also a good many mistakes scattered over the volume which • Banta Before and After the War. 13y the Author of "Society In St.Petersbure &e. Translated from the German (with Additions from the Later Editions by the Author), by Edward Fairfax Taylor. London: Longman and Co. 1880.

would be intelligible and excusable enough in a well-informed foreigner, but which are puzzling as coming from one who writes with the air of a Russian publicist.

Anybody tolerably well acquainted with Russian literature must be familiar with the popular author of Provincial Sketches, whose real name is " Saltykoff," and nom de Paine " Stchedrine." But surely no Russian could make the mistake of ascribing the Provincial Sketches to such mongrel authorship as Saltykoff- Schotschredin. A writer, however, who " was not able to muster " as much of the Russian language as would suffice to pass him through a matriculation examination, might very well fall into a blunder of that sort. Within the last twenty years, two well-known statesmen of the name of Milutin have figured in public life in Russia. One died a few years ago, the other is still living. The author distinguishes between the two by describing the surviving one as "the younger brother of the former Secretary of State for Poland." The living Milutin is, in fact, the elder brother. It is like mistaking the present Lord Derby for his father. One of the most interesting per- sonal sketches in the book is that of Alexander Herzen, who spent most of his literary life partly in Loudon and partly at Geneva. Alexander Herzen had a younger brother, to whom he was much attached. " Strangely enough," says our author, "Alexander Herzen, in his other- wise so copious Memoirs, has not made the slightest mention of this brother." There is nothing strange in the matter to any one familiar, as a well-educated Russian ought to be, with the details of political controversy in Russia. Jegor Herzen was a political opponent of his brother Alexander ; and not being a man of any particular mark, his name does not occur in Alex- ander's Memoirs. Should Lord Derby take the trouble to write his Memoirs, there will probably be very little in them about his brother, the Secretary for War. A Russian publicist, more- over, would hardly speak of " Count" N. N. Novossiltzoff ; and still less would he make the mistake of placing the Gostinoi- Dvor in Moscow instead of St. Petersburg.

These are some of the reasons which make us distrust the claim of the author (though vouched for by his translator) to write " as a Russian." And our doubts approach certainty when we compare Russia Before and After the War• with Modern Russia (published ten years ago), by Dr. Julius Eckardt. Both books are indisputably by the same author; and, indeed, we believe that this is an open secret at Berlin. But who is Dr. Julius Eckardt ? He is a German, born in one of the Baltic provinces of Russia, but who has lived for years past in Berlin, and is one of the writers in, perhaps, the most rabid of anti-Rnssian papers in Berlin. Technically, no doubt, Dr. Eckardt is "a Russian," just as a Boer of the Transvaal is technically an Englishman. But if a Boer of the Transvaal were to take up his residence at St. Petersburg, and start an anti-English newspaper there, Englishmen would probably decline to accept his pictures of their character, institutions, and social and political life, as entirely impartial and trustworthy. Our Boer editor might be able, cultivated, and honest; and taking his portraits of us separ- ately and individually, it might be difficult to say of any one of them that it was not true. He might give chapter and verse for every statement, and in that way establish his accuracy; yet the impression left on his readers' minds by the general portraiture and grouping of facts might be altogether false and misleading. For example, lie might take Dr. W. H. Russell's letter in the Daily Telegraph of last Tuesday as the basis of a generalisation on the morals and discipline of the British Army. "Here," our Boer would say, "is the most famous of English war correspondents ; the proprietor of a military news- paper ; a general favourite among military men ; on terms of intimacy with the Prince of Wales ; and an avowed Jingo, to boot. This man goes out to South Africa as a special corre- spondent for a newspaper which has made itself conspicuous by glorifying even the excesses of a rampant militarism, and has laughed to scorn the humanitarianism' of men like Mr. Glad- stone. Surely Dr. Russell, if anybody, may be trusted to deal not only justly but generously with the British soldier. What, then, is Dr. Russell's testimony ? He tells us that the British troops in Zululand" made night hideous again and again' by the stampedes' which the terror of Zulu assegais caused among them. He tells us that the pillage of peaceful citizens by British troops was such, that officers had to take devious routes to avoid human habitations. He tells us that respectable men had to flee for their lives, and respectable women for their honour, at the approach of British soldiers. He relates how,

on one occasion, the soldiers of a certain regiment attacked an hotel in which a British officer was lodging, and smashed in. the windows with huge paving-stones, because they were refused drink ;' while the officer ' got out of bed and crept under it to escape, and was rolled over by a stone like a rabbit.' In short, Dr. Russell asserts that the conduct of the British troops among unoffending British subjects was such, that they had to.

be treated ' as if they were ticket-of-leave men.' " From his• own point of view the Boer editor would undoubtedly have a strong case against the morale of the British Army. An Eng- lishman, on the other hand, would see at a glance the fallacy of drawing a general conclusion from a special instance, and he would be apt to vote the Boer critic either a very stupid or a. very prejudiced person.

The fault, then, which we have to find with Dr. Eckardt's book, is not so much that it is inaccurate in its particular facts, as that the selection and grouping of the facts suggest con- clusions which are either quite untrue or grossly exaggerated. Let us take one or two examples. One whole chapter is de- voted to a sketch of the life and conduct of a General Ismailoff, a brutal and sensual tyrant, who lived on his estates in the interior of Russia, and gave himself up to a life of debauchery, involving the cruel oppression of his serfs. Now what are the facts as they are exhibited in Dr. Eckardt's own pages ? "The poor, terrified tenants," on this man's estates, "had gone straight to the Emperor (Nicholas), and prevailed upon him to interfere in person." The result was that " the administration of the estates " of Ismailoff was " placed in other hands," while Ismailoff himself was " deprived for ever of the disposition of his property, on account of his abuse of his powers, and interned for the rest of his life in a distant town of the Government of Tula." Nor is this all. In the chapter immediately preceding- the one devoted to Ismailoff the author has occasion to make

some remarks on a comedy of Griboiedoff. " In this comedy,' says the author, " the Nestor of high-born rogues,' who would sell his two oldest and trustiest servants for a pair of greyhounds,' is the famous Bluebeard of his time,—General Ismailoff." Yet when Dr. Eckardt proceeds to draw his portrait of the typical Russian country gentleman, he gives us this " Blue- beard " of comedy—who was, in fact, a sort of maniac—as the ordinary representative of his class l We are also invited to pity- the frivolity of the Russian aristocracy, because " there have been times when blowing soap-bubbles was a pastime of fashionable- saloons " in St. Petersburg. The author is candid enough to add, however, that " to a St. Petersburger of to-day " this in- formation "sounds like a myth." We fear that to a Londoner of to-day it would not by any means " sound like a myth," to- be told that " there have been times " when amusements not more elevating, perhaps, than the blowing of soap-bubbles were fashionable among our highest aristocracy. " Aunt Sally," we believe, was the invention of a Duke, and it would probably be difficult to prove that it is a more intellectual pastime than- blowing soap-bubbles.

Some new matter has been added to the English edition of Dr. Eckardt's book, and these additions indicate pretty plainly the purpose which the work is intended to serve in England.. Count Schouvaloff is put forward as the Russian statesman, par excellence, whose accession to power ought to be most wel- come to Englishmen. He is represented as opposed to the war of liberation in Bulgaria, and not favourable to the Treaty of San Stefano. But his chief merit, in Dr. Eckardt's eyes, is apparently the Count's good understanding with Prince Bismarck, based, in no small degree, on their common hostility to Liberal ideas. The author is naturally pleased that Prince Bismarck has formed an alliance with Austria, " the old and natural ally " of Germany, and indeed of every reasonable English statesman :—

" And indeed, so long as the Austro-German alliance can reckon on seeing its policy of peace, which constitutes its raison d'être, sup- ported by an English Government, strong at home and respected abroad, whose influence with France ie powerful enough to wean or deter her from an armed coalition with the Northern Empire, even the most warlike Russians are forced of necessity to keep still. But if, on the other hand, an unhappy fate should will that a revolu- tion in Russia should be accompanied by a relapse of England into- indifference to Continental interests, then the first result of this would be that France, deprived of the peaceful counsels of her English neighbour, would reach her hand to Russia for an alliance ; and the next result, that the whole of Europe would be taught to know, what only a few know at present, that the revolution now imminent in, Russia implies a terrible danger to European peace."

The meaning of all this is tolerably plain. A general election is approaching in England. Prince Bismarck is very anxious.

that his friends the Tories should get a new lease of power. This would serve his purposes in several ways. One of the chief dangers which menace the stability of Ger- man militarism is the spread of democratic principles. A powerful Republic in France will unquestionably minister to the spread of democracy. In Russia, too, the system of village communism is a standing danger to the feudalism of Germany. It is near enough to prove contagious. This is a danger of which Dr. Eckardt warned the Germans ten years ago, in his Modern Russia. Prince Bismarck would, therefore, be glad to form a political combination against the emancipa- tion of the proletarist ; and one main object of this combina- tion would be the isolation of Republican France. For this purpose Dr. Eckardt conjures up a terrible picture of an im- pending cataclysm in Russia, which can only be averted either by Russia plunging into a foreign war, or by an alliance between the Conservative parties in Germany, Austria, England, and Russia, with Prince Bismarck, of course, pulling the strings, and turning this quadruple alliance to his own benefit. At pre- sent two things are wanting to the consummation of this political combination,—the accession of Count Schouvaloff to supreme office in Russia, and the return of Lord Beaconsfield to power after the dissolution in England. Prince Bismarck is skilful in manipulating public opinion in Germany, but we doubt whether Dr. Eckardt's electioneering volume will have similar influence on our elections.

We must not part from our author without saying that there is much in his volume to interest English readers, if they read it with the aid of the key with which we have supplied them. He is also fair to the Russians when he is not biassed by

any arriere-pensees. He does full justice, for instance, to the extraordinary morality and sobriety of the Russian army in Bulgaria. " It is true," he says, " beyond all cavil or question, that the recent war has been rich in episodes, illus- trative of Russian life and morals. For example, the total number of crimes committed by soldiers, and brought for trial before military tribunals, from January 1st to August 1st, was estimated at about three hundred. Taking into consideration the enormous strength of the active forces, the hosts of irregulars attached to it, and the circumstance that the army had remained at Kischeneff, and then had stopped four months on Roumanian and Turkish territory, this total seems unusually small. It is particularly noticeable that cases of insult to women, in the total of offences, have been extremely few and far between." This is a very impartial testimony in favour of our own judgment on the trumped-up and obviously unfounded accusations of the Rhodope Commission Report.