Page:Patriotismchrist00tols.djvu/35

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PATRIOTISM AND CHRISTIANITY.

cannot be attacked and need not be defended; and notwithstanding the constant, energetic insistance of devotion to the Tsar, they regard in general, all authority founded on violence either with condemnation or with total indifference; their country, if by that word anything is meant outside their village and district, they either do not realise at all, or, if they do, would make no distinctions between it and other countries. So that where formerly Russians would emigrate into Austria or Turkey, they now go with equal indifference to another part of Russia, Turkey, or China.

XI.

An old friend of mine, who passed the winters alone in the country while his wife whom he visited from time to time, lived in Paris, often conversed during the long autumn evenings with his steward an illiterate but shrewd and venerable peasant, who used to come to him in the evening to receive his orders, and my friend once mentioned amongst other things the advantages of the French system of government compared with our own. The occasion was a short time previous to the last Polish insurrection and the intervention of the French Government in our affairs. At that time the patriotic Russian Press was burning with indignation at this interference, and so excited the ruling classes that our political relations became very strained, and there were rumours of an approaching war with France.

My friend, having read the papers, explained to this peasant the misunderstanding between France and Russia; and coming under the influence of the journal, and being an old military man, said that were war to be declared he would re-enter the army and fight with France. At that time a revanche against the French for Sebastapol was considered a necessity by patriotic Russians.

"For what should we fight with them?" asked the peasant.

"Why how can we permit France to dictate to us?"

"Well, you said yourself that they were better governed than we," replied the peasant quite seriously; let them arrange things as well in Russia."

And my friend told me that he was so taken aback by this argument that he did not know what to reply and burst into laughter, as one who has just awaked from a delusive dream.

The same argument may be heard from every Russian workman