Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 86.djvu/14

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nia. The land of the White Russian is heavily wooded and in parts marshy, the soil like that of the Baltic provinces being poor and unproductive. The territory of the Little Russian, on the other hand, is flat and open, comprising the rich black earth belt and the vast grazing steppes of the south. The home of the Great Russian extends from White Russia eastward to the Volga and from Little Russia northward towards the Arctic.

The distinction between these groups is not fanciful but very real. The language spoken by the three groups, though basically the same, differs so much that they can not understand each other. One may be quite conversant with Muscovite and yet be unable to understand the Russian of the Ukraine. Indeed on the border territory between Great and Little Russia villages are found where the two peoples have lived side by side for generations without mixing and without understanding each other’s speech. The two groups also differ markedly in appearance. The Great Russian is blonde with chestnut or auburn hair, light complexion and beer colored eyes. In disposition he is phlegmatic, stolid and stubborn. The Little Russian, on the other hand, though possessing the head type of the eastern Slav, as I have already indicated, is dark, even swarthy, with brown eyes and dark brown hair. A further difference appears in his stature, for the Little Russian, despite his name, is big, considerably taller on the average than his brother the Great Russian. The reason for this is not easy to find, unless the greater stature of the Little Russian is but another reflection of the influence of environment. The Little Russian occupies the best land of Russia, the fertile soil of the black earth belt, and the consequent better nourishment extending over a long period of time together with some admixture of old Polish stock is doubtless responsible for his larger stature.

But it is not merely physically that the Little Russian differs from the Great Russian. He differs from him quite as much in disposition and habits of life. He is more mellow and open hearted; the sun of the southland has made him kind, hospitable and emotional. He is musical, highly imaginative and poetical, fond of pleasure, games and dancing. To him Russia owes most of her music, her poetry and her folk song. “What ecstasy, what joy has a summer day in Little Russia,” cries Gogol, in the bleak and uncongenial Petersburg, as he writes his “Evenings on a Farm in the Ukraine.” Indeed this gifted son of Little Russia, whose sketches reflect so many of the characteristics of his native land, denied to the Great Russian with his roughness, surliness and phlegmatic character, any share or claim in the Slavonic race. With the White Russian we can not linger; he is regarded by some as nearest the original type of the eastern Slav. His name is probably a result of the color of his clothes—a light-colored homespun devoid