Chap. I disdained the usual means of managing such assemblies: YIIL I would neither purchase votes nor corrupt consciences, 1815. nor seduce some to corrupt others. I disdained such methods, as not less degrading to those who yield to, than disgraceful to him who employs them, and I have paid dear for my sincerity; but God be praised, I have done, and for ever, with that form of government." Thirty years ago, these words would have passed for the violent declamation of a despotic prince, abusing any institutions which iLeMarqois put a restraint upon his own power; but time has since ilRiusieen then taught us many lessons: we have seen the representa4M7.iU tive system working in France, Ireland, and some parts of England.1

Strengthened by this great accession of power and Grcatln- territory, which brought their advanced posts into the Russia!° heart of Europe, within a hundred and eighty miles both of Vienna and Berlin, Russia now assumed the place which she has ever since maintained as the undisputed arbiter of eastern Europe. Happy if she does not also become the mistress of the west, and the endless divisions of its aspiring inhabitants are not in the end extinguished by the unity of her advancing power. Great as arc the physical resources of Russia, and rapidly as they have recently increased her influence, the prestige of her name, the dread of her strength, have increased in a still greater proportion. Men looked with a sort of superstitious awe on an empire which had never receded for centuries— which, secured in rear by the snows of the polar circle, had stretched its mighty arms almost to the torrid zone; which numbered the Vistula, the Amour, the Danube, and the Euphrates among its frontier streams, and already boasted of possessing a seventh of the habitable globe within its dominions. Nor had the events of recent times weakened this undefined impression; Napoleon's words had proved true, that Russia was backed "by two invincible allies, time and space:" foreign assault was hopeless against a state which had repelled the invasion of five hundred thousand men; and no empire, how strong soever, seemed capable of withstanding a power which, Chap

beginning its career of victory with the burning of Mos- L_

cow, had terminated it by the capture of Paris. luld"

What has augmented in the most remarkable degree this moral influence, is the prudence and wisdom with Great wUwhich it has been exercised. Never impelled by senseless external ambition on the part of its rulers, or frantic passionspohcy" among its people, the policy of Russia for two centuries has been eminently moderate and judicious. Its rulers are constantly actuated by the lust of conquest, but they never precipitate the moment of attack; conscious of their own strength, they await calmly the moment of action, and then appear with decisive effect. Like a great man in the conduct of life, they are never impelled by the thirst for immediate display which is the tormeut and bane of little minds, but are satisfied to appear when circumstances call them forth, aware that no effort will then be required to prove their superiority. Their conquests, how great soever, seem all to have been the result of necessity; constantly, in reality, aggressive, they have almost always appeared, in serious warfare, on the defensive. The conquest of Finland in 1808, the result of the treaty of Tilsit, is the only one for the last century in which its cabinet was avowedly and ostensibly the aggressors. While this prudent policy disarms their neighbours, and induces them to rely on the supposed moderation and magnanimity of the government, it adds immensely to their own strength when the moment of action has arrived. Every interval of peace is attended by a rapid growth of their internal resources, and its apparent leisure is sedulously improved by the government in preparing the means of future conquest. No senseless cry for economy, no "ignorant impatience of taxation," paralyses their strength on the termination of hostilities, and makes them lose in peace the whole fruits of conquest in war. Alike in peace as in war, at home and abroad, their strength is constantly rolling on; like a dark thunder-cloud, a hundred and fifty thousand men, ready for

Chap instant action, constantly overhang in Poland eastern

Europe; and every state within reach of their hostility

l815, is too happy to avert it by submission. When the storm broke on Hungary in 1849, it at once extinguished the conflagration which had set Europe in flames.* The secret of this astonishing influence of Russia in Their unity European politics, is not merely her physical resources purpose. rapid growth, great as it will immediately appear both are, but the unity of purpose by which the whole nation is animated. Like that of individuals in private life, this is the great secret of national success; it is not so much superiority in means, as their persevering direction to one object, which is the spring to which in both it is mainly to be ascribed. The ceaseless direction of Roman energy to foreign conquest gave Rome the empire of the world; that of the French to the thirst for glory and principle of honour, conferred on them the lead in continental Europe; that of the English to foreign commerce and domestic industry, placed in their hands the sceptre of the waves. Not less persevering than any of these nations, and exclusively directed to one object, rivalling the ancient masters of the world in the thirst for dominion, and the modern English in the vigour with which it is sought, the whole Russians, from the emperor on the throne to the serf in the cottage, are inspired with the belief that their mission is to conquer the world, and their destiny to effect it. Commerce is in little esteem among them; its most lucrative branches are in the hands of the Germans, who overspread its towns as the Jews do those of Poland. Agriculture, abandoned to the serfs, is regarded only as the means of raising a rude subsistence for the cultivators, and realising a fixed revenue for the proprietor. Literature is in its infancy, law considered as an inferior line; but war is cultivated with the utmost assiduity, and vast schools, where all subjects connected with it are taught in the most approved manner and with the latest improve

* Tho Russian army which invaded Hungary in 1849 was 161,800 strong.— GEORaey's Mcmoirt of the War in Hungary, ii. U9.

ments, are constantly attended by two hundred thousand Chap.

of the best young men in the empire. The ablest among 1_

them are selected for the diplomatic service, and hence l8I5, the great talent by which that profession in Russia is ever distinguished; but the whole remainder are turned into the army, where they find themselves at the head of ignorant but bold and hardy men, not less inflamed than themselves with the thirst for foreign conquest—not less impressed with the idea that to them is destined the sceptre of the world.

The physical circumstances of Russia are such as to justify, in a great degree, these anticipations. Its popu- statutica of lation in Europe consisted in 1850 of 62,088,000 souls, u^ST and in Asia of 4,638,000 more; in all, 67,247,000, andtionincluding the army, 68,000,000. It is now (1853) not less than 70,000,000. Of this immense mass no less than 60,500,000 are the inhabitants of the country, and engaged in cultivation, and only 5,388,000 the indwellers in towns, and engaged in their industrial pursuits, the remainder being nomads, or in the army. This enormous proportion of the cultivators to the other classes of societytwelve to one—at once indicates the rude and infantine state of civilisation of the immense majority of the inhabitants, and demonstrates in the clearest manner the utter groundlessness of those apprehensions regarding the increasing difficulty of raising subsistence for the increasing numbers of mankind in the later stages of society, which in the early part of this century took such general hold of the minds of men. For while, in the immense and fertile plains of Russia, twelve cultivators only raise food for themselves and their families and one inhabitant of towns, and perhaps an equal number of consumers in foreign states—that is, six cultivators feed themselves and one other member of society—in Great Britain, by the census of 1841, the number of persons engaged in the cultivation of the soil was to the remaining classes of society as one to seven nearly; and yet the nation was self-supporting. In other words, the power



1 Koepper's Population do la Rnssie cn 1833,72; Tegoborski, i. 130, 132, 193.

of labour in raising food was above forty times greater, in proportion to the population in the old and denselypeopled, than the young and thinly-peopled state.* The same truth has been exemplified in America, -where, by the census of 1841, the cultivators over the whole Union are to the other classes of society as four, and beyond the Alleghany Mountains as eight to one; facts which demonstrate that so far from population, as Mr Malthus supposes, pressing in the later stages of society on subsistence, subsistence is daily acquiring a greater and more decisive ascendancy over population.1

The rapidity with which this immense body of men increases in numbers is as important in a political point of view as it is formidable to the rest of Europe. The annual present addition to the population has been from

* By the census of 1840, the proportion of cultivators to all other classes

in the United States of America stood thus:—

Agricultural, . . . . 8,717,758
All other classes, . . . 1,078,660

Or about 3| to 1. Beyond the Alleghany Mountains they were:—

Agricultural, .... 2,092,255 All other classes, . . . 287,751 Or about 8 to 1 in the basin of the Mississippi, the garden of the world. On the other hand, in Great Britain, by the census of 1831 and 1841, the families respectively engaged in agriculture and other pursuits stood thus:—

1831. 1841.

Great Britain and Ireland. Agricultural, . . . 961,134 3,343,974 All other pursuits, . . 2,453,041 23,482,115 Or 7 to 1 in the latter period only. And yet, down to this period, the nation was, to all practical purposes, self-supporting—the importation of wheat having been for forty years back not only trifling but declining, and in some years nothing at all. Average of wheat imported yearly:—


Vide Porter's Progress of the Nation, 3d edition, 139,140 ; History of Europe, chap. xc. 34 ; and American Census, 1840.

« ForrigeFortsett »