Russia Chapter X - Finnish And Tartar Villages eText

Chapter X - Finnish And Tartar Villages

When talking one day with a landed proprietor who lived near Ivanofka, I accidentally discovered that in a district at some distance to the northeast there were certain villages the inhabitants of which did not understand Russian, and habitually used a peculiar language of their own. With an illogical hastiness worthy of a genuine ethnologist, I at once assumed that these must be the remnants of some aboriginal race.

"Des aborigenes!" I exclaimed, unable to recall the Russian equivalent for the term, and knowing that my friend understood French. "Doubtless the remains of some ancient race who formerly held the country, and are now rapidly disappearing. Have you any Aborigines Protection Society in this part of the world?"

My friend had evidently great difficulty in imagining what an Aborigines Protection Society could be, and promptly assured me that there was nothing of the kind in Russia. On being told that such a society might render valuable services by protecting the weaker against the stronger race, and collecting important materials for the new science of Social Embryology, he looked thoroughly mystified. As to the new science, he had never heard of it, and as to protection, he thought that the inhabitants of the villages in question were quite capable of protecting themselves. "I could invent," he added, with a malicious smile, "a society for the protection of ALL peasants, but I am quite sure that the authorities would not allow me to carry out my idea."

My ethnological curiosity was thoroughly aroused, and I endeavoured to awaken a similar feeling in my friend by hinting that we had at hand a promising field for discoveries which might immortalise the fortunate explorers; but my efforts were in vain. The old gentleman was a portly, indolent man, of phlegmatic temperament, who thought more of comfort than of immortality in the terrestrial sense of the term. To my proposal that we should start at once on an exploring expedition, he replied calmly that the distance was considerable, that the roads were muddy, and that there was nothing to be learned. The villages in question were very like other villages, and their inhabitants lived, to all intents and purposes, in the same way as their Russian neighbours. If they had any secret peculiarities they would certainly not divulge them to a stranger, for they were notoriously silent, gloomy, morose, and uncommunicative. Everything that was known about them, my friend assured me, might be communicated in a few words. They belonged to a Finnish tribe called Korelli, and had been transported to their present settlements in comparatively recent times. In answer to my questions as to how, when, and by whom they had been transported thither my informant replied that it had been the work of Ivan the Terrible.

Though I knew at that time little of Russian history, I suspected that the last assertion was invented on the spur of the moment, in order to satisfy my troublesome curiosity, and accordingly I determined not to accept it without verification. The result showed how careful the traveller should be in accepting the testimony of "intelligent, well-informed natives." On further investigation I discovered, not only that the story about Ivan the Terrible was a pure invention--whether of my friend or of the popular imagination, which always uses heroic names as pegs on which to hang traditions, I know not--but also that my first theory was correct. These Finnish peasants turned out to be a remnant of the aborigines, or at least of the oldest known inhabitants of the district. Men of the same race, but bearing different tribal names, such as Finns, Korelli, Tcheremiss, Tchuvash, Mordva, Votyaks, Permyaks, Zyryanye, Voguls, are to be found in considerable numbers all over the northern provinces, from the Gulf of Bothnia to Western Siberia, as well as in the provinces bordering the Middle Volga as far south as Penza, Simbirsk, and Tamboff.* The Russian peasants, who now compose the great mass of the population, are the intruders.

* The semi-official "Statesman's Handbook for Russia," published in 1896, enumerates fourteen different tribes, with an aggregate of about 4,650,000 souls, but these numbers must not be regarded as having any pretensions to accuracy. The best authorities differ widely in their estimates.

I had long taken a deep interest in what learned Germans call the Volkerwanderung--that is to say, the migrations of peoples during the gradual dissolution of the Roman Empire, and it had often occurred to me that the most approved authorities, who had expended an infinite amount of learning on the subject, had not always taken the trouble to investigate the nature of the process. It is not enough to know that a race or tribe extended its dominions or changed its geographical position. We ought at the same time to inquire whether it expelled, exterminated, or absorbed the former inhabitants, and how the expulsion, extermination, or absorption was effected. Now of these three processes, absorption may have been more frequent than is commonly supposed, and it seemed to me that in Northern Russia this process might be conveniently studied. A thousand years ago the whole of Northern Russia was peopled by Finnish pagan tribes, and at the present day the greater part of it is occupied by peasants who speak the language of Moscow, profess the Orthodox faith, present in their physiognomy no striking peculiarities, and appear to the superficial observer pure Russians. And we have no reason to suppose that the former inhabitants were expelled or exterminated, or that they gradually died out from contact with the civilisation and vices of a higher race. History records no wholesale Finnish migrations like that of the Kalmyks, and no war of extermination; and statistics prove that among the remnants of those primitive races the population increases as rapidly as among the Russian peasantry.* From these facts I concluded that the Finnish aborigines had been simply absorbed, or rather, were being absorbed, by the Slavonic intruders.

* This latter statement is made on the authority of Popoff ("Zyryanye i zyryanski krai," Moscow, 1874) and Tcheremshanski ("Opisanie Orenburgskoi Gubernii," Ufa, 1859).

This conclusion has since been confirmed by observation. During my wanderings in these northern provinces I have found villages in every stage of Russification. In one, everything seemed thoroughly Finnish: the inhabitants had a reddish-olive skin, very high cheek- bones, obliquely set eyes, and a peculiar costume; none of the women, and very few of the men, could understand Russian, and any Russian who visited the place was regarded as a foreigner. In a second, there were already some Russian inhabitants; the others had lost something of their pure Finnish type, many of the men had discarded the old costume and spoke Russian fluently, and a Russian visitor was no longer shunned. In a third, the Finnish type was still further weakened: all the men spoke Russian, and nearly all the women understood it; the old male costume had entirely disappeared, and the old female costume was rapidly following it; while intermarriage with the Russian population was no longer rare. In a fourth, intermarriage had almost completely done its work, and the old Finnish element could be detected merely in certain peculiarities of physiognomy and pronunciation.*

* One of the most common peculiarities of pronunciation is the substitution of the sound of ts for that of tch, which I found almost universal over a large area.

The process of Russification may be likewise observed in the manner of building the houses and in the methods of farming, which show plainly that the Finnish races did not obtain rudimentary civilisation from the Slavs. Whence, then, was it derived? Was it obtained from some other race, or is it indigenous? These are questions which I have no means of answering.

A Positivist poet--or if that be a contradiction in terms, let us say a Positivist who wrote verses--once composed an appeal to the fair sex, beginning with the words:

"Pourquoi, O femmes, restez-vous en arriere?"

The question might have been addressed to the women in these Finnish villages. Like their sisters in France, they are much more conservative than the men, and oppose much more stubbornly the Russian influence. On the other hand, like women in general, when they do begin to change, they change more rapidly. This is seen especially in the matter of costume. The men adopt the Russian costume very gradually; the women adopt it at once. As soon as a single woman gets a gaudy Russian dress, every other woman in the village feels envious and impatient till she has done likewise. I remember once visiting a Mordva village when this critical point had been reached, and a very characteristic incident occurred. In the preceding villages through which I had passed I had tried in vain to buy a female costume, and I again made the attempt. This time the result was very different. A few minutes after I had expressed my wish to purchase a costume, the house in which I was sitting was besieged by a great crowd of women, holding in their hands articles of wearing apparel. In order to make a selection I went out into the crowd, but the desire to find a purchaser was so general and so ardent that I was regularly mobbed. The women, shouting "Kupi! kupi!" ("Buy! buy!"), and struggling with each other to get near me, were so importunate that I had at last to take refuge in the house, to prevent my own costume from being torn to shreds. But even there I was not safe, for the women followed at my heels, and a considerable amount of good-natured violence had to be employed to expel the intruders.

It is especially interesting to observe the transformation of nationality in the sphere of religious conceptions. The Finns remained pagans long after the Russians had become Christians, but at the present time the whole population, from the eastern boundary of Finland proper to the Ural Mountains, are officially described as members of the Greek Orthodox Church. The manner in which this change of religion was effected is well worthy of attention.

The old religion of the Finnish tribes, if we may judge from the fragments which still remain, had, like the people themselves, a thoroughly practical, prosaic character. Their theology consisted not of abstract dogmas, but merely of simple prescriptions for the ensuring of material welfare. Even at the present day, in the districts not completely Russified, their prayers are plain, unadorned requests for a good harvest, plenty of cattle, and the like, and are expressed in a tone of childlike familiarity that sounds strange in our ears. They make no attempt to veil their desires with mystic solemnity, but ask, in simple, straightforward fashion, that God should make the barley ripen and the cow calve successfully, that He should prevent their horses from being stolen, and that he should help them to gain money to pay their taxes.

Their religious ceremonies have, so far as I have been able to discover, no hidden mystical signification, and are for the most part rather magical rites for averting the influence of malicious spirits, or freeing themselves from the unwelcome visits of their departed relatives. For this latter purpose many even of those who are officially Christians proceed at stated seasons to the graveyards and place an abundant supply of cooked food on the graves of their relations who have recently died, requesting the departed to accept this meal, and not to return to their old homes, where their presence is no longer desired. Though more of the food is eaten at night by the village dogs than by the famished spirits, the custom is believed to have a powerful influence in preventing the dead from wandering about at night and frightening the living. If it be true, as I am inclined to believe, that tombstones were originally used for keeping the dead in their graves, then it must be admitted that in the matter of "laying" ghosts the Finns have shown themselves much more humane than other races. It may, however, be suggested that in the original home of the Finns--"le berceau de la race," as French ethnologists say--stones could not easily be procured, and that the custom of feeding the dead was adopted as a pis aller. The decision of the question must be left to those who know where the original home of the Finns was.

As the Russian peasantry, knowing little or nothing of theology, and placing implicit confidence in rites and ceremonies, did not differ very widely from the pagan Finns in the matter of religious conceptions, the friendly contact of the two races naturally led to a curious blending of the two religions. The Russians adopted many customs from the Finns, and the Finns adopted still more from the Russians. When Yumala and the other Finnish deities did not do as they were desired, their worshippers naturally applied for protection or assistance to the Madonna and the "Russian God." If their own traditional magic rites did not suffice to ward off evil influences, they naturally tried the effect of crossing themselves, as the Russians do in moments of danger. All this may seem strange to us who have been taught from our earliest years that religion is something quite different from spells, charms, and incantations, and that of all the various religions in the world one alone is true, all the others being false. But we must remember that the Finns have had a very different education. They do not distinguish religion from magic rites, and they have never been taught that other religions are less true than their own. For them the best religion is the one which contains the most potent spells, and they see no reason why less powerful religions should not be blended therewith. Their deities are not jealous gods, and do not insist on having a monopoly of devotion; and in any case they cannot do much injury to those who have placed themselves under the protection of a more powerful divinity.

This simple-minded eclecticism often produces a singular mixture of Christianity and paganism. Thus, for instance, at the harvest festivals, Tchuvash peasants have been known to pray first to their own deities, and then to St. Nicholas, the miracle-worker, who is the favourite saint of the Russian peasantry. Such dual worship is sometimes even recommended by the Yomzi--a class of men who correspond to the medicine-men among the Red Indians--and the prayers are on these occasions couched in the most familiar terms. Here is a specimen given by a Russian who has specially studied the language and customs of this interesting people:* "Look here, O Nicholas-god! Perhaps my neighbour, little Michael, has been slandering me to you, or perhaps he will do so. If he does, don't believe him. I have done him no ill, and wish him none. He is a worthless boaster and a babbler. He does not really honour you, and merely plays the hypocrite. But I honour you from my heart; and, behold, I place a taper before you!" Sometimes incidents occur which display a still more curious blending of the two religions. Thus a Tcheremiss, on one occasion, in consequence of a serious illness, sacrificed a young foal to our Lady of Kazan!

* Mr. Zolotnitski, "Tchuvasko-russki slovar," p. 167.

Though the Finnish beliefs affected to some extent the Russian peasantry, the Russian faith ultimately prevailed. This can be explained without taking into consideration the inherent superiority of Christianity over all forms of paganism. The Finns had no organised priesthood, and consequently never offered a systematic opposition to the new faith; the Russians, on the contrary, had a regular hierarchy in close alliance with the civil administration. In the principal villages Christian churches were built, and some of the police-officers vied with the ecclesiastical officials in the work of making converts. At the same time there were other influences tending in the same direction. If a Russian practised Finnish superstitions he exposed himself to disagreeable consequences of a temporal kind; if, on the contrary, a Finn adopted the Christian religion, the temporal consequences that could result were all advantageous to him.

Many of the Finns gradually became Christians almost unconsciously. The ecclesiastical authorities were extremely moderate in their demands. They insisted on no religious knowledge, and merely demanded that the converts should be baptised. The converts, failing to understand the spiritual significance of the ceremony, commonly offered no resistance, so long as the immersion was performed in summer. So little repugnance, indeed, did they feel, that on some occasions, when a small reward was given to those who consented, some of the new converts wished the ceremony to be repeated several times. The chief objection to receiving the Christian faith lay in the long and severe fasts imposed by the Greek Orthodox Church; but this difficulty was overcome by assuming that they need not be strictly observed. At first, in some districts, it was popularly believed that the Icons informed the Russian priests against those who did not fast as the Church prescribed; but experience gradually exploded this theory. Some of the more prudent converts, however, to prevent all possible tale- telling, took the precaution of turning the face of the Icon to the wall when prohibited meats were about to be eaten!

This gradual conversion of the Finnish tribes, effected without any intellectual revolution in the minds of the converts, had very important temporal consequences. Community of faith led to intermarriage, and intermarriage led rapidly to the blending of the two races.

If we compare a Finnish village in any stage of Russification with a Tartar village, of which the inhabitants are Mahometans, we cannot fail to be struck by the contrast. In the latter, though there may be many Russians, there is no blending of the two races. Between them religion has raised an impassable barrier. There are many villages in the eastern and north-eastern provinces of European Russia which have been for generations half Tartar and half Russian, and the amalgamation of the two nationalities has not yet begun. Near the one end stands the Christian church, and near the other stands the little metchet, or Mahometan house of prayer. The whole village forms one Commune, with one Village Assembly and one Village Elder; but, socially, it is composed of two distinct communities, each possessing its peculiar customs and peculiar mode of life. The Tartar may learn Russian, but he does not on that account become Russianised.

It must not, however, be supposed that the two races are imbued with fanatical hatred towards each other. On the contrary, they live in perfect good-fellowship, elect as Village Elder sometimes a Russian and sometimes a Tartar, and discuss the Communal affairs in the Village Assembly without reference to religious matters. I know one village where the good-fellowship went even a step farther: the Christians determined to repair their church, and the Mahometans helped them to transport wood for the purpose! All this tends to show that under a tolerably good Government, which does not favour one race at the expense of the other, Mahometan Tartars and Christian Slavs can live peaceably together.

The absence of fanaticism and of that proselytising zeal which is one of the most prolific sources of religious hatred, is to be explained by the peculiar religious conceptions of these peasants. In their minds religion and nationality are so closely allied as to be almost identical. The Russian is, as it were, by nature a Christian, and the Tartar a Mahometan; and it never occurs to any one in these villages to disturb the appointed order of nature. On this subject I had once an interesting conversation with a Russian peasant who had been for some time living among Tartars. In reply to my question as to what kind of people the Tartars were, he replied laconically, "Nitchevo"--that is to say, "nothing in particular"; and on being pressed for a more definite expression of opinion, he admitted that they were very good people indeed.

"And what kind of faith have they?" I continued.

"A good enough faith," was the prompt reply.

"Is it better than the faith of the Molokanye?" The Molokanye are Russian sectarians--closely resembling Scotch Presbyterians--of whom I shall have more to say in the sequel.

"Of course it is better than the Molokan faith."

"Indeed!" I exclaimed, endeavouring to conceal my astonishment at this strange judgment. "Are the Molokanye, then, very bad people?"

"Not at all. The Molokanye are good and honest."

"Why, then, do you think their faith is so much worse than that of the Mahometans?"

"How shall I tell you?" The peasant here paused as if to collect his thoughts, and then proceeded slowly, "The Tartars, you see, received their faith from God as they received the colour of their skins, but the Molokanye are Russians who have invented a faith out of their own heads!"

This singular answer scarcely requires a commentary. As it would be absurd to try to make Tartars change the colour of their skins, so it would be absurd to try to make them change their religion. Besides this, such an attempt would be an unjustifiable interference with the designs of Providence, for, in the peasant's opinion, God gave Mahometanism to the Tartars just as he gave the Orthodox faith to the Russians.

The ecclesiastical authorities do not formally adopt this strange theory, but they generally act in accordance with it. There is little official propaganda among the Mahometan subjects of the Tsar, and it is well that it is so, for an energetic propaganda would lead merely to the stirring up of any latent hostility which may exist deep down in the nature of the two races, and it would not make any real converts. The Tartars cannot unconsciously imbibe Christianity as the Finns have done. Their religion is not a rude, simple paganism without theology in the scholastic sense of the term, but a monotheism as exclusive as Christianity itself. Enter into conversation with an intelligent man who has no higher religious belief than a rude sort of paganism, and you may, if you know him well and make a judicious use of your knowledge, easily interest him in the touching story of Christ's life and teaching. And in these unsophisticated natures there is but one step from interest and sympathy to conversion.

Try the same method with a Mussulman, and you will soon find that all your efforts are fruitless. He has already a theology and a prophet of his own, and sees no reason why he should exchange them for those which you have to offer. Perhaps he will show you more or less openly that he pities your ignorance and wonders that you have not been able to ADVANCE from Christianity to Mahometanism. In his opinion--I am supposing that he is a man of education--Moses and Christ were great prophets in their day, and consequently he is accustomed to respect their memory; but he is profoundly convinced that however appropriate they were for their own times, they have been entirely superseded by Mahomet, precisely as we believe that Judaism was superseded by Christianity. Proud of his superior knowledge, he regards you as a benighted polytheist, and may perhaps tell you that the Orthodox Christians with whom he comes in contact have three Gods and a host of lesser deities called saints, that they pray to idols called Icons, and that they keep their holy days by getting drunk. In vain you endeavour to explain to him that saints and Icons are not essential parts of Christianity, and that habits of intoxication have no religious significance. On these points he may make concessions to you, but the doctrine of the Trinity remains for him a fatal stumbling-block. "You Christians," he will say, "once had a great prophet called Jisous, who is mentioned with respect in the Koran, but you falsified your sacred writings and took to worshipping him, and now you declare that he is the equal of Allah. Far from us be such blasphemy! There is but one God, and Mahomet is His prophet."

A worthy Christian missionary, who had laboured long and zealously among a Mussulman population, once called me sharply to account for having expressed the opinion that Mahometans are very rarely converted to Christianity. When I brought him down from the region of vague general statements and insisted on knowing how many cases he had met with in his own personal experience during sixteen years of missionary work, he was constrained to admit that he had know only one: and when I pressed him farther as to the disinterested sincerity of the convert in question his reply was not altogether satisfactory.

The policy of religious non-intervention has not always been practised by the Government. Soon after the conquest of the Khanate of Kazan in the sixteenth century, the Tsars of Muscovy attempted to convert their new subjects from Mahometanism to Christianity. The means employed were partly spiritual and partly administrative, but the police-officers seem to have played a more important part than the clergy. In this way a certain number of Tartars were baptised; but the authorities were obliged to admit that the new converts "shamelessly retain many horrid Tartar customs, and neither hold nor know the Christian faith." When spiritual exhortations failed, the Government ordered its officials to "pacify, imprison, put in irons, and thereby UNTEACH and frighten from the Tartar faith those who, though baptised, do not obey the admonitions of the Metropolitan." These energetic measures proved as ineffectual as the spiritual exhortations; and Catherine II. adopted a new method, highly characteristic of her system of administration. The new converts--who, be it remembered, were unable to read and write--were ordered by Imperial ukaz to sign a written promise to the effect that "they would completely forsake their infidel errors, and, avoiding all intercourse with unbelievers, would hold firmly and unwaveringly the Christian faith and its dogmas"*--of which latter, we may add, they had not the slightest knowledge. The childlike faith in the magical efficacy of stamped paper here displayed was not justified. The so-called "baptised Tartars" are at the present time as far from being Christians as they were in the sixteenth century. They cannot openly profess Mahometanism, because men who have been once formally admitted into the National Church cannot leave it without exposing themselves to the severe pains and penalties of the criminal code, but they strongly object to be Christianised.

* "Ukaz Kazanskoi dukhovnoi Konsistorii." Anno 1778.

On this subject I have found a remarkable admission in a semiofficial article, published as recently as 1872.* "It is a fact worthy of attention," says the writer, "that a long series of evident apostasies coincides with the beginning of measures to confirm the converts in the Christian faith. There must be, therefore, some collateral cause producing those cases of apostasy precisely at the moment when the contrary might be expected." There is a delightful naivete in this way of stating the fact. The mysterious cause vaguely indicated is not difficult to find. So long as the Government demanded merely that the supposed converts should be inscribed as Christians in the official registers, there was no official apostasy; but as soon as active measures began to be taken "to confirm the converts," a spirit of hostility and fanaticism appeared among the Mussulman population, and made those who were inscribed as Christians resist the propaganda.

* "Zhurnal Ministerstva Narodnago Prosveshtcheniya." June, 1872.

It may safely be said that Christians are impervious to Islam, and genuine Mussulmans impervious to Christianity; but between the two there are certain tribes, or fractions of tribes, which present a promising field for missionary enterprise. In this field the Tartars show much more zeal than the Russians, and possess certain advantages over their rivals. The tribes of Northeastern Russia learn Tartar much more easily than Russian, and their geographical position and modes of life bring them in contact with Russians much less than with Tartars. The consequence is that whole villages of Tcheremiss and Votiaks, officially inscribed as belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church, have openly declared themselves Mahometans; and some of the more remarkable conversions have been commemorated by popular songs, which are sung by young and old. Against this propaganda the Orthodox ecclesiastical authorities do little or nothing. Though the criminal code contains severe enactments against those who fall away from the Orthodox Church, and still more against those who produce apostasy,* the enactments are rarely put in force. Both clergy and laity in the Russian Church are, as a rule, very tolerant where no political questions are involved. The parish priest pays attention to apostasy only when it diminishes his annual revenues, and this can be easily avoided by the apostate's paying a small yearly sum. If this precaution be taken, whole villages may be converted to Islam without the higher ecclesiastical authorities knowing anything of the matter.

* A person convicted of converting a Christian to Islamism is sentenced, according to the criminal code (§184), to the loss of all civil rights, and to imprisonment with hard labour for a term varying from eight to ten years.

Whether the barrier that separates Christians and Mussulmans in Russia, as elsewhere, will ever be broken down by education, I do not know; but I may remark that hitherto the spread of education among the Tartars has tended rather to imbue them with fanaticism. If we remember that theological education always produces intolerance, and that Tartar education is almost exclusively theological, we shall not be surprised to find that a Tartar's religious fanaticism is generally in direct proportion to the amount of his intellectual culture. The unlettered Tartar, unspoiled by learning falsely so called, and knowing merely enough of his religion to perform the customary ordinances prescribed by the Prophet, is peaceable, kindly, and hospitable towards all men; but the learned Tartar, who has been taught that the Christian is a kiafir (infidel) and a mushrik (polytheist), odious in the sight of Allah, and already condemned to eternal punishment, is as intolerant and fanatical as the most bigoted Roman Catholic or Calvinist. Such fanatics are occasionally to be met with in the eastern provinces, but they are few in number, and have little influence on the masses. From my own experience I can testify that during the whole course of my wanderings I have nowhere received more kindness and hospitality than among the uneducated Mussulman Bashkirs. Even here, however, Islam opposes a strong barrier to Russification.

Though no such barrier existed among the pagan Finnish tribes, the work of Russification among them is still, as I have already indicated, far from complete. Not only whole villages, but even many entire districts, are still very little affected by Russian influence. This is to be explained partly by geographical conditions. In regions which have a poor soil, and are intersected by no navigable river, there are few or no Russian settlers, and consequently the Finns have there preserved intact their language and customs; whilst in those districts which present more inducements to colonisation, the Russian population is more numerous, and the Finns less conservative. It must, however, be admitted that geographical conditions do not completely explain the facts. The various tribes, even when placed in the same conditions, are not equally susceptible to foreign influence. The Mordva, for instance, are infinitely less conservative than the Tchuvash. This I have often noticed, and my impression has been confirmed by men who have had more opportunities of observation. For the present we must attribute this to some occult ethnological peculiarity, but future investigations may some day supply a more satisfactory explanation. Already I have obtained some facts which appear to throw light on the subject. The Tchuvash have certain customs which seem to indicate that they were formerly, if not avowed Mahometans, at least under the influence of Islam, whilst we have no reason to suppose that the Mordva ever passed through that school.

The absence of religious fanaticism greatly facilitated Russian colonisation in these northern regions, and the essentially peaceful disposition of the Russian peasantry tended in the same direction. The Russian peasant is admirably fitted for the work of peaceful agricultural colonisation. Among uncivilised tribes he is good-natured, long-suffering, conciliatory, capable of bearing extreme hardships, and endowed with a marvellous power of adapting himself to circumstances. The haughty consciousness of personal and national superiority habitually displayed by Englishmen of all ranks when they are brought in contact with races which they look upon as lower in the scale of humanity than themselves, is entirely foreign to his character. He has no desire to rule, and no wish to make the natives hewers of wood and drawers of water. All he desires is a few acres of land which he and his family can cultivate; and so long as he is allowed to enjoy these he is not likely to molest his neighbours. Had the colonists of the Finnish country been men of Anglo-Saxon race, they would in all probability have taken possession of the land and reduced the natives to the condition of agricultural labourers. The Russian colonists have contented themselves with a humbler and less aggressive mode of action; they have settled peaceably among the native population, and are rapidly becoming blended with it. In many districts the so-called Russians have perhaps more Finnish than Slavonic blood in their veins.

But what has all this to do, it may be asked, with the aforementioned Volkerwanderung, or migration of peoples, during the Dark Ages? More than may at first sight appear. Some of the so- called migrations were, I suspect, not at all migrations in the ordinary sense of the term, but rather gradual changes, such as those which have taken place, and are still taking place, in Northern Russia. A thousand years ago what is now known as the province of Yaroslavl was inhabited by Finns, and now it is occupied by men who are commonly regarded as pure Slays. But it would be an utter mistake to suppose that the Finns of this district migrated to those more distant regions where they are now to be found. In reality they formerly occupied, as I have said, the whole of Northern Russia, and in the province of Yaroslavl they have been transformed by Slav infiltration. In Central Europe the Slavs may be said in a certain sense to have retreated, for in former times they occupied the whole of Northern Germany as far as the Elbe. But what does the word "retreat" mean in this case? It means probably that the Slays were gradually Teutonised, and then absorbed by the Teutonic race. Some tribes, it is true, swept over a part of Europe in genuine nomadic fashion, and endeavoured perhaps to expel or exterminate the actual possessors of the soil. This kind of migration may likewise be studied in Russia. But I must leave the subject till I come to speak of the southern provinces.