Russia in 1870

Cover of book Russia in 1870
Categories: Nonfiction

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THE PEOPLE. T)EFORE the emancipation there were only two classes of people in Russia? the nobles and the serfs, excepting always the foreigners in the" great towns. As Bishop James, in his " Journal of a Tour in 1813," says :?" Looking to society in Russia, we shall find there exist in fact only two distinct classes, the nobles and the slaves." This is altered now, and we may divide the native population into at least five classes:?1. The high aristocracy; 2. The landowners, or common nobility;3. The merchants, who have adopted French ways of living and thinking, in imitation of the aristocracy, and thus, as it were, de-Russianized themselves; 4. The native merchants and tradesmen, who retain the manners of their ancestors; 5. The peasantry. The first class is, in my opinion, a useless, effete order of men. In spite of their elaborate system of education, there are but few individuals among them who write their mark on society. They all speak a number of languages with fluency; they bow with an extraordinary grace that would do credit to a dancing-master; they are superficially polite, and versed in the shibboleths of the fashionable world; they are great connoisseurs of wine, horses, operas, and such things; and epicures in eating, dressing, and furnishing; but there is little that is manly or earnest in the race; and generations of luxury and vanity have turned their blood to water. Brought up from the cradle in luxurious and effeminate habits, they never shake these off in after-life. Their schoolboys are pasty-faced dolls? over-dressed little swells, in polished boots and glossy clothes, for which they shudder at a drop of rain. When I think of the healthy schoolboy life .of home, it makes me pity these poor little mannikins, who trot about the ...

Russia in 1870
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