Page:Tolstoy - Tales from Tolstoi.djvu/21

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Biography

imperfect and perfunctory, instead of, as now, using the Gymnasium as a stepping-stone to the University. Moreover, the University curriculum of the period was not of a very superior character. Those were the iron days of Nicholas I., when an artfully organized system of repression dominated all things — education included. Every lecture and every examination-paper was carefully censured beforehand, and "even to Archbishops," as the Tsar himself expressed it, "the whole book could not possibly be given." Add to this that the University of Kazan itself was very much below the level of the Universities of St. Petersburg and Moscow. The life of the students at the old Volgan city is described by contemporaries as extremely stormy and scandalous. Princely students kept whole streets in a state of siege for weeks together by incessantly discharging air-guns from their garret-windows at all passers-by, and most of the aristocratic students formed exclusive little coteries among themselves which were so engrossed with really important matters like balls, picnics, dramatic entertainments, and very often less reputable forms of amusement, that they had very little time left for mere study. Moreover, this easy, pleasant state of existence came all the easier because Kazan, in those days, was the regular place of resort in the summer-time for the county families of the whole country side, who flocked thither to educate their sons and find husbands for their grown-up daughters. The higher classes, all more or less closely connected, gloried in a large patriarchal hospitality. A young bachelor student of good

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