1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Milyukov, Paul Nikolayevich

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1922 Encyclopædia Britannica
Milyukov, Paul Nikolayevich
See also Pavel Milyukov on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

MILYUKOV, PAUL NIKOLAYEVICH (1859- ), Russian politician and historian, was born in 1859. He studied history and humanities at the university of Moscow, was expelled for taking part in students' riots, but was readmitted and allowed to take his degree. He specialized in the study of Russian history and received the degree of Master in History for a learned work on the State Economics of Russia in the First Quarter of the 18th Century. He lectured with great success at the university and at a training institute for girl teachers; these lectures were afterwards expanded by him in his book Outlines of Russian Culture (3 vols., translated into German). He also started an association for “home university reading,” and, as its first president, edited the first volume of its programme, which was widely read in Russian intellectual circles. His liberal opinions brought him into conflict with the educational authorities, and he was dismissed in 1894 after one of the ever-recurrent university “riots.” He was even imprisoned for some time as a political agitator. When liberated he went to Bulgaria, and was appointed professor in the university of Sofia, where he lectured in Bulgarian with great success. He delivered also interesting courses of lectures in the United States — at summer sessions in Chicago and later on the Lowell lectures in Boston. Russia and Its Crisis presents a condensed report of one of these courses.

In 1905 the meetings of the Zemstvos which gave expression to the public indignation against the Government brought him back to Russia. He became the political editor of an important liberal paper, the Retch, and took an active part in the formation of the Constitutional Democratic party (Cadets), which aimed at political freedom and at a constitution on advanced democratic lines, based on universal suffrage. Milyukov became the leader of that party and had a great influence on the course of events in 1906, although he was not elected a member either of the first or of the second Duma. When the Tsar dissolved the first Duma he was one of the principal prompters of the “Viborg Manifesto,” in which the members of the assembly declared themselves ready to follow the people in resisting arbitrary rule. This ill-conceived pronouncement ended in complete fiasco, and disqualified its signatories from participation in political elections. Milyukov had not signed as he was not a member of the Duma, and remained free from the persecution which set in with the Stolypin reaction. He was elected to the third and the fourth Duma, and played the part of a leader of the opposition, systematically criticising the policy of the Government and the attempts at compromise on the part of the Octobrists. In the fourth Duma, however, he was in favour of a progressive block, in which liberal Octobrists took a share, as this rendered the action of the Duma more effective. When the World War broke out he stood squarely for a policy of national union and active coöperation with the Entente, but the ineptitude and corruption of the War Office and of the Court drove him into an attitude of increasing hostility. On Nov. 1 1916 he delivered in the Duma a famous speech in which he asked pointedly, in connection with Sturmer's muddle: “Is it stupidity or is it treason?” His conduct at that time was characteristic of the state of mind of advanced Liberals — they were so disgusted at the misgovernment of the Sturmers, Protopopovs and Galitzins that they were unable and unwilling to make a stand against the growing discontent of the masses. They thought and said: “We must win the war, but it is impossible to win the war with these people at the head.”

When the revolt of the troops broke the back of the old régime Milyukov took office in Prince Lvov's Provisional Government as Minister of Foreign Affairs. In a speech delivered to a revolutionary mob in the Taurida Palace he proclaimed his preference for a constitutional monarchy. His hope was that Nicholas II. would abdicate in favour of his son and the Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich would consent to act as Regent for his nephew. This plan came to nothing on account of the unwillingness of Nicholas II. to part with his son. Milyukov strongly disapproved of Kerensky's policy and of the demagogic weakness of the parties in power — the social revolutionaries and Mensheviks. He would have hailed a restoration of discipline in the army and an energetic resumption of the war on the side of the Allies, but there was no basis for such a reconstruction at a time of revolutionary intoxication. When the Bolsheviks seized power he escaped to Kiev and lived there for some time under the rule of Skoropadsky, the German-appointed Hetman of the Ukraine. In this atmosphere, saturated by German influence, he gave up the cause of the Allies as lost, and began to speculate on the possibility of rebuilding the Russian State with the help of the Kaiser. He had conversations on the subject with von Munn, the German envoy in Kiev, and advised his fellow Cadets in the same sense. The majority of the latter were, however, firmly opposed to any pact with the arch-enemy of Russia, and the turnover on the western front put an end to these plans. After the Armistice Milyukov went to London and subsequently to Paris, where in 1921 he was directing a journal (Last News) in which he advocated an alliance with patriotic Socialists. (P. Vi.)