Readings in Russian Civilization Volume II: Imperial Russia, 1700-1917

Readings in Russian Civilization Volume II: Imperial Russia, 1700-1917

by Thomas Riha

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"This new and enlarged version of Readings in Russian Civilization is the result of fairly extensive revisions. There are now 72 instead of 64 items; 20 of the selections are new. The first volume has undergone the least change with 3 new items, of which 2 appear in English for the first time. In the second volume there are 6 new items; all of them appear in English for the first time. The third volume has undergone the greatest revision, with 11 new items, of which 6 are newly translated from the Russian. It is the editor's hope that items left out in the new edition will not be sorely missed, and that the new selections will turn out to be useful and illuminating. The aim, throughout, has been to cover areas of knowledge and periods which had been neglected in the first edition, and to include topics which are important in the study of the Russian past and present.

"The bibliographical headnotes have been enlarged, with the result that there are now approximately twice as many entries as in the old edition. New citations include not only works which have appeared since 1963, but also older books and articles which have come to the editor's attention."—From the Editor's Preface

". . . a judicious combination of seminal works and more recent commentaries that achieves the editor's purpose of stimulating curiosity and developing a point of view."—C. Bickford O'Brien, The Russian Review

"These three volumes cover quite well the main periods of Russian civilization. The choice of the articles and other material is made by a competent and unbiased scholar."—Ivan A. Lopatin, Professor of Asian and Slavic Studies, University of Southern California

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ISBN-13: 9780226718446
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 02/15/2009
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 294
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Readings in Russian Civilization VOLUME II

Imperial Russia, 1700-1917

By Thomas Riha

The University of Chicago Press

Copyright © 1969 The University of Chicago
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-226-71844-6



By John Perry

From John Perry, The State of Russia under the Present Tsar (London, 1716), pp. 1–13.

Beginning in the fifteenth century and down to the present, Western technicians have gone to Russia in search of employment. Often they were hired by the government to help modernize the country. Peter the Great hired more of them than any previous ruler. Below is a passage from the account of one of them who served in Russia as a hydraulic engineer for fourteen years, 1698–1712. He had been hired by Peter during his historic embassy to London.

The work is filled with enthusiasm for the potential riches of Russia, respect for the labors of the great Tsar, and condemnation of the backwardness of Russia's population. Perry's rather disappointing experiences are representative. It should be remembered, too, that he was not entirely innocent in his dealings with the Russians. His book exerted a good deal of influence at the time of its appearance; Voltaire used it as a source for his own two-volume History of the Russian Empire (1759).

For a brief sketch of Perry, see Peter Putnam (ed.), Seven Britons in Imperial Russia, 1698–1812. Another account of Anglo-Russian encounters is M. S. Anderson, Britain's Discovery of Russia, 1553–1815. A contemporary of Perry, Charles Whitworth, wrote Account of Russia As It Was in the Year 1710. For a biography of Peter, see Vasily Kluchevsky, Peter the Great (paperback), and the much larger Peter the Great of Eugene Schuyler. For an analysis of the Soviet view of Peter's reforms, see Cyril Black, Rewriting Russian History. For nautical matters during this period, see Sir Cyprian Bridge, "History of the Russian Fleet during the Reign of Peter the Great," Publications of the Navy Records Society (London), Vol. XV (1899). Voltaire, who saw Peter in Paris during the second of the Emperor's visits to western Europe, wrote a History of the Russian Empire under Peter the Great which was commissioned by the Empress Elizabeth. The reader should also consult the Memoirs of Peter Henry Bruce, who served in Peter's armies from 1710 to 1724.


In the year 1698, his Tsarish Majesty being then in England, making his observations of our arts in building and equipping out our fleets, among several artificers etc. whom he was then pleased to entertain, I was recommended to him by the then Lord Marquis of Carmarthen, Mr. Dummer (then Surveyor of the Navy), and some others, as a person capable of serving him on several occasions, relating to his new designs of establishing a fleet, making his rivers navigable, etc. After his Majesty had himself discoursed with me, particularly touching the making of a communication between the river Volga and the Don, I was taken into his service by his Ambassador Count Golovin, who agreed with me for the Salary of 300 pounds sterling per annum, to be paid me, with my travelling charges and subsistence money upon whatsoever service I should be employed; besides a farther reward to be given me to my satisfaction at the conclusion of any work I should finish.

Soon after my contract was made, the Tsar going from hence to Holland, took me along with him thither, and after I had made such observations as I had there an opportunity to do, I was sent directly to Moscow, with orders for my being immediately dispatched from thence into the province of Astrakhan, about a thousand versts (or Russ miles) beyond Moscow, to survey a work, which his Tsarish Majesty had before designed, and another person been employed upon for the making of the abovesaid communication for ships of war as well as trading vessels of burden, to pass between the Caspian and the Black Sea, by way of the said two great rivers, the Volga and the Don. The first of which rivers, after running between 3 and 4000 Russ miles through the Tsar's country, falls into the Caspian Sea; and the other, after running near half as far, falls into the Black Sea.

The distance of which communication between the said two rivers is about 140 Russ miles by way of two other small rivers, the one called the Lavla, which falls into the Don; the other the Kamishinka, which falls into the Volga; upon these small rivers sluices were to be placed to make them navigable, and a canal of near 4 Russ miles to be cut through the dry land where the said two small rivers come nearest together; which work, if finished, would be of very great advantage to the Tsar's country, especially in case of any war with the Turks or the Crimean Tatars, or with Persia or any of the countries bordering on the Caspian Sea. A draught of which intended communication, I laid down.

The said work was first begun by one Colonel Breckell, a German, who was a colonel in the Tsar's army, and who had the reputation of a very good engineer as to fortifications, and the like; but he very little understanding this business which he had taken upon him, and having unaccountably designed the canal, and the first sluice which he placed being blown up, that is having given way at the foundation, and the water taking its course underneath, at the first shutting of the gates, he therefore, upon his coming to Moscow the winter following, obtained a pass to be given as for one of his servants, whom he pretended to send for necessaries for the work, and himself went off with the said pass, and made his escape out of the country.

The Tsar had advice of this whilst he was in England and therefore he was pleased to send me immediately forward to examine whether the work was practicable or not. Accordingly I went and surveyed it the same year. His Majesty was pleased to order me to take it upon me, and to begin the canal in a new place, that I proposed as more practicable for it.

Upon which work I was employed three summers successively, having demanded 30,000 men for it, but never had half that number, and the last year not 10,000 men given me, nor the necessary artificers and materials that were wanting, sufficiently provided. Of which I every winter, at my return to Moscow, gave a list into the Tsar's own hand, setting forth the necessity of being better supplied with what was wanting. But the Tsar having about this time lost the battle of Narva, and the war with Sweden being like to continue, which required more immediate supplies of men and money; in the latter end of the year 1701 I received orders to let that work stand still. I was sent to do another work, at Voronezh. And Prince Alexei Golitsyn, who had the government of the province of Astrakhan, where the work was situated, was displaced by the Tsar from his command, for his having discouraged the work, and not having supplied me with the necessary men and materials; for which the said prince ever after became my irreconcilable enemy, and by his interest (being allied to the greatest families) influenced the next lord, under whose command I afterwards served, very much to my prejudice.

Besides the general dislike which most of the old boyars had to all new undertakings which the Tsar, by the advice of strangers, engaged in, beyond what his predecessors ever had attempted to do, one occasion which made the Lord Golitsyn particularly dissatisfied with the said work, was this: after the aforesaid Breckell had unskillfully fixed his first sluice, which upon the first trial of the waters gave way, fearing the dangerous consequence that might fall upon him in an arbitrary government, deserted as aforesaid, and afterwards writ a letter of complaint to the Tsar against the said Lord Golitsyn, alleging that he had not been supplied with necessaries for the work, and particularly complained of the ill usage that he had received from the said Lord, who was then an enemy to the work, and who had struck him with his cane, and threatened to hang him. This happened whilst the Tsar was abroad; and the Tsar having accused the said Lord, on his coming home, as not having discharged the trust that was reposed in him, he thereupon became irreconcilable to the work, and made reflections upon it, as a thing impossible to be done by the hands of men. He represented it as burdensome to the country by the number of men that were employed in it, and used all his endeavors to have had it given over as impracticable, declaring it as his opinion that God had made the rivers to go one way, and that it was presumption in man to think to turn them another.

As soon as I arrived in Moscow, by order as aforementioned, I petitioned for my salary that was then due to me, and which I was in hopes to have received, having as yet not been paid a penny of it, but only my subsistence money.

At this time my Lord Apraxin (whom the Tsar had a little before sent to supervise the said work, and who had then the chief inspection of building the Tsar's Navy, and is since made Lord High Admiral) was pleased to discourse me concerning his Majesty's ships at Voronezh, which being built of green timber, were in a very short time so decayed that they were ready to sink in the river. I told his lordship that there was a method which I believed might be put in practice upon that river, or somewhere near it, without careening, or the least straining of the ships, to place them upon the dry land to be refitted by damming up the course of the river ... which his lordship told me would be a very acceptable service. Assuring me that I should be better assisted with men and materials than I had been with Prince Golitsyn; and that he would not only justly pay me my wages but that he would be my Patron, and help me to all my arrears which I then petitioned for, as soon as I had done this work which would be of great use to the Tsar in establishing his navy designed against the Turks.

Accordingly, in the year 1702 I was sent down to Voronezh, and pitched upon a place at the mouth of the river, which I found most proper for raising the water to the height that was required ... which in little more than 16 months I performed to satisfaction, and the first time that the sluices were shut, I placed 16 ships (some of them of 50 guns) upon the land, to be refitted, fitting upright upon blocks as in our dry docks in England....

But although this work was performed to their full satisfaction, yet when I demanded my salary and arrears that was due to me I was again farther put off by the said Lord Apraxin, until I had done another work which I was ordered to do on the same river and that then I should not fail of having all my money together given me.

The Tsar at the time when the aforesaid work was finished came himself to Voronezh, and gave directions for repairing his said ships that sat upon the land; and was then farther pleased to command me to survey the river, whether by the fixing of another large sluice higher up upon the Voronezh, the same could be made navigable the whole way from the city, for ships of 80 guns (such as he intended to build) to be launched and come down into the river Don at any time of the year.

Accordingly when I had surveyed and made my report to his Majesty that the same was practicable, he was pleased to command me to take it in hand, which I began in 1704. And the year following I finished the same to satisfaction, as I was commanded....

When this last work at Voronezh was also finished to satisfaction, I again moved my Lord Apraxin for my wages, but I found the honor of his word and promises made to me, was but little regarded. For I was again put off as before, and was as far from receiving my money as ever.... However, after performing each of the said works, his Lordship, to keep me in some temper, gave me a small present to the value of about 250 pounds sterling.

The fixing of sluices that are to bear but little weight of water, for the making rivers and streams navigable for small vessels for inland carriage, where the floods are not great, is easy and practiced everywhere, but I do not know of any river that has before been made navigable for ships of near so great dimensions. And the ground where I was obliged to place the last sluice being extremely bad, when I came to dig below the surface of the river, I met with such extraordinary force of springs that all the pumps that could be placed could not discharge the water ... which obliged me to let the works stand still six weeks, till I had made an engine on purpose for throwing out the water, which wrought night and day for several months together, and would easily discharge ten or twelve tons of water in a minute. The Tsar happening to come again to Voronezh, when I was obliged to use this engine, he came several times to see it work with several of his lords with him, and was extremely pleased with it, it being an improvement of an engine which I first made at Portsmouth dock above 23 years since....

Whilst I was doing this last work at Voronezh ... a person was ordered to make a new kind of docks on the river Voronezh for building his Majesty's 80-gun ships, with chests fixed to the bottom of them, to float them down the Don and over the bar at Azov, being from the mouth of the river Voronezh (as the stream runs) above 1000 Russ miles....

It being then in winter, and his Majesty, upon the arrival of a courier from Poland, going suddenly from thence, he was pleased the night before he went to leave orders with my Lord Apraxin in writing for my making some particular observations at the coming down of the floods, and that my opinion, together with his three master ship-builders (which were two English and one Rus) should be taken, touching the place to be pitched upon for the building of the said docks. But quite different from my opinion a place was chosen for it, and the work was resolved to be carried on in a sandy foundation, and by a method that was no way proper for it; I therefore verbally urged to my Lord Apraxin the ill consequences ... that upon the coming down of the floods the foundation of the work would blow up, and perhaps destroy the ships when they were half built (as it afterwards happened). But his Lordship thinking me perhaps only desirous to advance my own opinion ... and adhering also to the persuasion of the Tsar's aforesaid Rus builder and another person of the same nation who had their private interest in it, having a small village in the place that was marked out for the said work, for which they were to have a much better given them in the room of it: I found his Lordship did not mind my words....



By Boris Menshutkin

Reprinted from B. Menshutkin, Russia's Lomonosov (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1952), pp. 11–24, 73–75, 81, 84–89, 134–40, 186–91. Used by permission of Princeton University Press. Copyright, 1952, by Princeton University Press.

Mikhail Lomonosov (1711–65) was certainly one of the greatest Russians of all time. "Historian, rhetoretician, mechanician, chemist, mineralogist, artist and poet, he scrutinized and fathomed everything," Pushkin said of him. Today Moscow University, the greatest educational institution of the Soviet Union, is named after him. Excerpts from a biography of this man of genius will illustrate his many talents. The author was a leading Russian chemist who devoted much of his life to the study of Lomonosov's heritage.

For another biography of Lomonosov, see B. Kudryavtsev's The Life and Work of M. V. Lomonosov. There is an interesting article by Chapin Huntington, "M. Lomonosov and Benjamin Franklin," Russian Review, XVIII, 294–306. On Lomonosov as a literary figure, see Boris Unbegaun's "Russian Grammars before Lomonosov," Oxford Slavonic Papers, VII, 98–116. For a sample of Lomonosov's poetry, see Leo Wiener's Anthology of Russian Literature, Vol. I. For Lomonosov's place in the Russian eighteenth century, see Hans Rogger, National Consciousness in Eighteenth Century Russia. The first volume of Science is Russian Culture by Alexander Vucinich covers the eighteenth century. See also Luce Lengevin, "Lomonosov and the Science of His Day," Impact of Science on Society, XIII, No. 2 (1963), 93–120; L. Maistrov, "Lomonosov, Father of Russian Mathematics," Soviet Review, March, 1962; and Philip Pomper, "Lomonosov and the Discovery of the Law of the Conservation of Matter in Chemical Transformations," Ambix, X, (1962).

The topography of Lomonosov's native land deserves brief mention. Eighty kilometers from Archangel, just where the Northern Dvina flows into the White Sea, the river branches out into a number of arms which form many islands and islets. Each of these arms has its own name, such as Kholmogorka, Rovdogorka, Bystrokurka, and so on, as has every island. On one of these islands, ten kilometers from where the Northern Dvina begins to split into branches, is situated the city of Kholmogory. Facing it to the east, on the river Kholmogorka, is Kurostrov. There, in the beginning of the eighteenth century, were as many as twenty villages, settled almost exclusively by coast dwellers and encircling the highland center of Kurostrov. In one of these, the village of Denisovka, lived Vasily Dorofeyev Lomonosov, the father of the future scholar and academician.


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Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Edition
Preface to the First Edition
1. The Russian Primary Chronicle
2. Medieval Russian Laws
3. The Chronicle of Novgorod
4. The Dig at Novgorod by Valentine Yanine
5. Russian Epics
6. Feudalism in Russia by George Vernadsky; L. V. Cherepnin
7. The Kurbsky-Ivan the Terrible Correspondence
8. Ivan Grozny by Robert Wipper
9. The Debate in Ivan the Terrible in 1956
10. The Life of St. Sergius by St. Epiphanius
11. Avvakum's Autobiography
12. The Russian Church Schism by Serge Zenkovsky
13. The Law Code of 1649
14. Muscovite-Western Commercial Relations
15. The Mongol Impact on Russia by George Vernadsky
16. The Frontier by B. H. Sumner
17. The Problem of Old Russian Culture by Georges Florovsky; Nikolay Andreyev; James Billington
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