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in literature, this literature bears the unmistakable trait, that distinguishes it from European literature, of having a tendency to teach and of taking a moral aspect. Russian literature on the whole has not entered the sphere of artistic interest; it has always been a pulpit whence the word of instruction came forth. With very few exceptions, like Merejkovski and Andreev, the Russian author is not practising art for art's sake (l'art pour l'art), but is pursuing a goal, is accomplishing a task.

The Russian literature is a long cry of revolt, a continuous sigh.or an admonition. Taine says, somewhere, when speaking of Stendhal and Balzac: "They love art more than men-they are not writing out of sympathy for the poor, but out of love for the beautiful." This is just what the Russian modern author is not doing. The intellectual and instructive moments predominate over the emotional and artistic.

This state of Russia's intellectual development is explained by what has been stated above. It is due to the sudden introduction of western manners and civilisation, followed by a powerful foreign influence on the one hand, and the social and political state of the country on the other. When Peter had suddenly launched Russia-which was floating like some big hulk between Asia and Europe-towards the west, the few who helped him in this endeavour came under the complete influence of western thought and manners. St. Petersburg soon became a Versailles in miniature. Voltaire, Diderot, and the encyclopædists governed and shaped Russian thought and Russian society. But not only France-Germany too, and England, Byron and his individualism, had gained great sway in Russia. The independence of Russian thought and its intellectual development only dates from about 1840. When it awoke at that time, when it became conscious of itself, it felt that it had a great work, a great mission, to fulfil. Surrounded on one side by a people that were ignorant, ready to sink lower and lower; opposed, on the other, by a government that did its best to check individualism and independence in every possible way-the Russian intelligentia felt its great responsibility.

Surrounded by a population whose mental development was on a very low level, the atmosphere was and still is not propitious for the cultivation of art or science, whilst the Russian author had no time simply to admire the beautiful in nature, but was compelled to look round and try what good he could do. Thus Russian genius concentrated itself in literature as the best vehicle to expose the state of Russian society. The Russian writer became an apostle. He was not anxious to be artistic, to shape his style and to be fascinating, but to give as true a picture of Russian life as he possibly could, to show the evil and to suggest the remedy.

Such, in broad lines, was, and still is, the state which the few, whom we termed the Russian intelligentia, have reached in their intellectual development. In a moment of strength the Russian genius has attained itself, with self-asserting individuality. Its task is great, its obstacles are manifold, but it fights valiantly and moves on steadily. This only applies to the few. When the day of political freedom will dawn for Russia, then and then only the great evolution and the intellectual development of Russia itself, of the Russian people as a whole, will begin. On the day when civil and religious despotism, that everywhere crushes individuality, ceases, then the genius of the Russian people will spread its pinions, and the masses will awake from their inertia to new life, like the gradual unfolding of spring into


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To arrive at a just appreciation of Russia's genius we must have a knowledge of the soil that nourishes her, the peoples that inhabit her, and the history through which she has passed. Let us begin with nature, soil, and climate.

The first fact that strikes us in regard to the Russian empire is its vastness. Its colossal dimensions are so out of proportion to the smallness of the greatest among European states, that, to bring them within the sphere of human imagination, Alexander von Humboldt, one of the greatest scientists of his century, makes the statement that the portion of the globe under Russia's dominion is greater than the entire surface of the moon at its full.

The territories of that vast empire acknowledge no limits; its vast plains stretch toward the heart of the old continent, as far as the huge peaks of central Asia; they are stopped between the Black and the Caspian seas by the great wall of the Caucasus, whose foot is planted below the sea-level, and the height of whose summits exceeds by eight hundred feet that of Mont Blanc.

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In lakes Ladoga and Onega, in the northwest, Russia possesses the greatest lakes in Europe; in Lake Baikal, in Siberia, the greatest in Asia; in the Caspian and Aral seas, the greatest in the world. Her rivers equal her plains in proportion: the Obi, the Yenisei, the Amur, in Asia; the Dnieper, the Don, the Volga, in Europe. The central artery of Russia is the Volga river that, in its winding course of nearly twenty-four hundred miles, is not altogether European. Nine tenths of the Russian territory are as yet nearly empty of inhabitants, and nevertheless the population, according to the census of 1897, taken over all the empire except Finland, numbered 129,000,000; and the annual increase is very nearly two million.

According to recent computations the Russian Empire covers an area of 8,660,000 square miles-about one sixth of the land surface of the globe.

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Europe is distinguished from other regions of the globe by two characteristics which make her the home of civilisation: her land is cut into by the seas cut into bits," as Montesquieu says; she is, according to Humboldt, “an articulated peninsula "; her other distinctive advantage is a temperate climate which, in great measure the result of her configuration, is duplicated nowhere under the same latitude. Russia alone, adhering solidly to Asia by her longest dimension, bordered on the north and northwest by icy seas which permit to the borders few of the advantages of a littoral, is one of the most compact and eminently continental countries of the globe.

She is deprived of the even, temperate climate due to Europe's articulated structure, and has a continental climate- nearly equally extreme in the rigour of its winters and the torrid heat of its summers. Hence the mean temperature varies.

The isothermal lines extend in summer toward the pole; in winter they sink southward: so that the greater part of Russia is included in January in the rigid, in July in the torrid zone. Her very vastness condemns her to extremes. The bordering seas are too distant or too small to serve her as reservoirs of warmth or basins of coolness. Nowhere else in the Occident are to be found winters so long and severe, summers so burning. Russia is a stranger to the great influences that moderate the climate of the rest of Europe the gulf stream and the winds of the Sahara. The long Scandinavian peninsula, stretching between Russia and the Atlantic, deflects from her coasts the great warm current flowing from the New World to the Old. In place of the gulf stream and the African deserts it is the polar snows of Europe, and Siberia, the frozen north of Asia, that hold the predominating influence over Russia. The Ural range, by its insignificant elevation and its perpendicularity to the equator, is but an inconsiderable barrier to these influences. In vain does Russia extend south into the latitude of Pau and Nice; nowhere this side the Caucasus will she find a rampart against the winds of the north. The conformation of the soil, low and flat, leaves her open to all the atmospheric currents - from the parching breath of the central Asian deserts to the winds of the polar region.

This lack of mountains and inland seas deprives Russia of the necessary humidity brought to the rest of Europe by the Atlantic and laid up for it in the store-houses of the Alps. The ocean breezes reach her only when empty of refreshing vapours; those of Asia are wrung dry long before they touch her confines. The further the continent stretches, the greater its poverty of rain. At Kazan the rainfall is but half that of Paris. Hence the lack, over an enormous southern region, of the two principal elements of fertilitywarmth and moisture; hence in part those wide, woodless, arid, un-European steppes in the southeast of the empire.


One whole formed of two analogous halves, Russia is in nowise a child of Europe; but that is not to say that she is Asiatic that we can shelve her among the dormant and stationary peoples of the far East. Far from it: Russia is no more Asiatic than she is European. But in all physical essentials of structure, climate, and moisture, she is opposed to historical, occidental Europe; in all these she is in direct relation with the bordering countries of Asia. Europe proper naturally begins at the narrowing of the continent between the Baltic and the Black seas.

In the southeast there is no natural barrier between Russia and Asia;

therefore the geographers have in turn taken the Don, the Volga, the Ural, or again the depression of the Obi, as boundaries. Desert steppes stretch from the centre of the old continent into Russia by the door left open between the Ural chain and the Caspian. From the lower course of the Don to the Aral Sea, all these low steppes on both banks of the Volga and the Ural rivers form the bed of an old, dried-up sea, whose borders we can still trace, and whose remnants constitute the great salt lakes known as the Caspian and the Aral seas. By a hydrographical accident which has had an enormous influence upon the character and destinies of the people, it is into one of these closed Asiatic seas that the Volga, the great artery of Russia, empties, after turning its back upon Europe almost from its very source.

To the north of the Caspian steppes, from latitude 52° to the uninhabitable polar regions, the longest meridional chain of mountains of the old continent forms a wall between Russia and Asia. The Russians in olden days called it the "belt of stone," or "belt of the world"; but, despite the name, the Ural indicates the end of Asia on the one side, only to mark its recommencement, almost unaltered, on the European slope. Descending gradually by terraces on the European side, the Ural is less a chain than a plateau crowned with a line of slight elevations. It presents principally low ridges covered with forests, like those of the Vosges and the Jura. So greatly depressed is the centre that along the principal passes between Russia and Siberia (from Perm to Iekaterinburg, for example) the eye looks in vain for the summits; in constructing a railroad through the pass the engineers had no long tunnels to build, no great difficulties to surmount. At this high altitude, where the plains are snow-bound during six or seven months, no peak attains the limit of eternal snows, no valley enbosoms a glacier.

In reality the Ural separates neither the climates, nor the fauna and flora. Extending almost perpendicularly from north to south, the polar winds blow almost equally unhindered along both sides; on both, the vegetation is the same. It is not till the heart of Siberia is reached - the upper Yenisei and Lake Baikal that one finds a different soil, a new flora and fauna. The upheaval of the Ural failed to wipe out the resemblance and the unity of the two regions it divides. Instead of a wall between the Russias, it is merely a store-house of mineral wealth. In the rocks, of eruptive or metamorphic origin, are veins of metals not found in the regular strata of the great plains. It no more separates one from the other than does the river of the same name; and when one day Siberia shall boast a denser population, the Ural will be regarded as the axis, the backbone of the two great halves of the empire.


Unity in immensity is Russia's chief characteristic. From the huge wall of the Caucasus to the Baltic this empire, in itself greater than all the rest of Europe, in its numerous provinces presents perhaps less variety of climate. than west European countries whose area is ten or twelve times less. This is on account of the flat uniformity. And yet, underlying this homogenity of climate and configuration, nature has marked with special characteristics and a distnct individuality a number of regions which, divided into two groups, embrace all European Russia. Equally flat, with a climate nearly equally extreme, these two great zones, notwithstanding their similarity, present a remarkable contrast in soil, vegetation, moisture, and most other physical and economic conditions. One is the forest region, the other the woodless zone of the steppes; they divide the empire into almost equal halves.


From the opposition, from the natural dualism of the steppe and the forest, has sprung the historical antagonism and the now-ended strife between the two halves of Russia-the struggle between the sedentary north and the nomad south; between the Russian and the Tatar; between the Muscovite state laid in the forest region, and the free Cossacks, children of the steppes. The forest region, though ceaselessly diminished by cutting, still remains the more extensive. Occupying the entire north and centre, it grows wider from east to west, from Kazan to Kiev.

Beyond the polar circle no tree can withstand the intensity and permanence of the frost. On both sides of the Ural, in the neighbourhood of Siberia, stretch vast boggy plains (toundras), perpetually frost-bound, and clothed with moss. In these latitudes no cultivation is possible, no pasturage but lichens is to be obtained, no animal but the reindeer can exist. Hunting and fishing are the sole occupations of the [few inhabitants who make their dwelling in these lands of ice.

The soil of the wooded plains, at least in the northwest, from the White Sea to the Niemen and the Dnieper, is low, swampy, and peaty, intersected by arid sandy hills. The Valdai Hills, the highest plateau, scarcely attain the height of one thousand feet. This region is rich in springs and is the source of all the great rivers. The flatness of the land prevents the rivers from assuming a distinctly marked course, and as no ridge intervenes, their waters at the thaw run together and form enormous swamps; or, travelling slowly down undefined slopes, form at the bottom vast lakes like the Ladoga, a veritable inland sea, or strings of wretched little pools, like the eleven hundred lakes in the government of Archangel.

The population, though scattered over wide expanses and averaging less than fifteen to the square mile, fails to wring from the unfriendly soil a sufficient nourishment. Wheat will not thrive; barley, rye, and flax alone flourish. A multitude of small industries eke out the livelihood for which agriculture is insufficient.

The augmentation of the scattered population is scarcely perceptible having, so to speak, reached the point of saturation. Russia can hope for an increase of wealth and population in this desolate northland only upon the introduction into it of industrial pursuits, as in the case of Moscow and the Ural regions.

Russian civilisation finds a great, though by no means insurmountable obstacle in the extremes of temperature. It must be remembered that Europe enjoys a temperate climate unparalleled in her fairest colonies, while other continents, for analagous reasons, labour under much the same disadvantages as Russia. The climate of the northern portion of the United States greatly resembles that of south Russia, while New York, Pennsylvania, and the New England states pass through the same extremes of temperature as the steppes of the Black Sea.


The Black Lands, one of the largest and most fertile agricultural tracts in the world, occupy the upper part of the woodless zone at its juncture with the forest and lake district. Obtaining moisture and shelter from the latter, the Black Lands enjoy much more favourable climatic conditions than the steppes of the extreme south. They derive their name (tchernoziom) from a stratum of black humus, of an average depth of from one and a half to five feet, consisting partly of loam, partly of oily clay mixed with organic substances. It

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