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Few questions of history are debated in our days as that of the origin of village communities. French, English, and German scholars, to say nothing of Russians and Americans, have published whole volumes in order to prove either the existence or non-existence of village communities in that period of evolution which is generally known as patriarchal.
The acute German observer, Baron Haxthausen, who was the first to describe to European readers the social and economic character of the Russian mir, was probably quite unconscious of the literary movement to which he was to give rise by his two or three sentences about the antiquity of the Russian agrarian community, and its likeness to the social and economic institutions of the Southern and Western Slavs. A few years after the publication of Baron Haxthausen's work, a Moscovite professor, Mr Chicherin, in two articles which at once produced a great sensation, strongly protested against the opinion that Russian village communities were the direct descendants of those undivided households which so commonly form part of the historical past of most Aryan nations. The Slavophils and their leader Chomiakov maintained that they were the spontaneous growth of Russia. Chicherin believed they had a twofold origin -- that they were partly the creation of a Government anxious to secure an easy method of collecting one of the taxes which was very like the old French capitation tax, and partly due to the landed aristocracy, which could find no better means than an equal and periodical redistribution of the land, for attaching to the soil those classes of the people who were reduced to the condition of serfdom. This extraordinary assertion immediately met with a systematic denial on the part of Mr Beliaiev, the well-known Professor of Legal History, who was one of the colleagues of Mr Chicherin, and whose extensive researches in the legal history of Russia gave his opinion great weight. This did not, however, prevent M. Fustel de Coulanges from reproducing the theory just as if it had not already been refuted. But the inventors of theories, of whom Fustel de Coulanges was certainly one of the greatest, too often follow the method described in the well-known French saying: "Je prends mon bien ou je le trouve." Seeing that a denial of the antiquity of the Russian village communities supported his theory of the general prevalence of private property even in the earliest times, he thought himself at liberty to disregard all later investigations, and to endorse an opinion which had already been refuted.
The study of the origin and growth of Russian village communities has never been discontinued in my country wince the time when the work of Haxthausen first drew the attention of our economists and historians to this peculiar institution. A crowd of young students have rendered familiar, even to the general public, the notion that they were the spontaneous result of our social development; that the Government, by interfering in their internal constitution, has only succeeded in obscuring their national character; that mutual responsibility in matters of taxation was foreign to their original organisation; and that there is ample foundation for the statement that their members, from being, as they were at first, free possessors of the soil, became the serfs of the Czar, the nobles, or the clergy.
The extraordinary increase of historical research in Russia, and especially of investigations into the social and economical development of the country, which took place during the reign of Alexander II, certainly contributed largely to induce German scholars, with the illustrious Maurer at their head, to review the current opinions concerning the social condition of the Germans in the Middle Ages. It led Maurer to elaborate his magnificent theory of the Mark, Manor, and Village Constitution (Mark, Hof und Dorf Verfassung).
Sir Henry Maine made the system of village communities familiar to English students, and had, moreover, the great merit of showing that, far from being a peculiar feature of the social organisation of the Germans and Slavs, they were to be found amongst the majority of Aryan nations, in the plains of the Punjab and the interior of the North-West Provinces of india, and among the green pastures of Erin. The almost universal admiration which his essay on Village Communities in the East and West has elicited, rests on no other ground than that of its having first brought to light the truth which is now all but established, that village communities represent a distinct period in the social development of mankind, a period which ought to be placed between the patriarchal and the feudal periods, and that, therefore, all endeavours to explain their existence among this or that people by the peculiarities of national character ought to be henceforth declared useless and worthless.
This idea, confirmed, as it is, by a general survey of the survivals left by the system of village communities among the Celtic, German, and Latin nations, a survey with which M. de Laveleye has inseparably connected his name, has literally revolutionised the historical researches of more than one country of Europe, and especially those of my own. The impression produced by the two writers just mentioned is still so strong that Russian scholars, instead of subscribing to the recent ingenious hypothesis of Mr Seebohm as to the servile origin of village communities in England, have themselves set to work to examine the rich materials which the Bodleian Library and the Record Office present as to the history of land-ownership in England. In saying this I have particularly in view the deep and accurate studies of my former colleague Professor Vinogradov on the agrarian constitution of medieval England, of which a few years ago I gave a short account in the Law Quarterly Review. Others have made similar inquiries into the economic history of medieval Germany, and their studies have induced some French authors, and among them M. Dareste, warmly to oppose the original but one-sided theory of Fustel de Coulanges.
Before passing to the direct study of the development of the Russian village community, I must recognise the fact that the long and sometimes violent struggle of the early Slavophils on behalf of the spontaneous origin of the mir, has been productive of the best results to the study of agrarian communism in Russia.
A comparison between the modern constitution of the mir and that described in old charters proves the widely different character of the two, while the differences between them support the theory of a natural evolution of the community, an evolution not yet completed in more than one part of the Empire. The difference which we trace between the past and the present of the Russian commune are the same which we see existing between the various modern forms of it in our own day. The study, therefore, of these forms and of their natural transformation may be of great help towards understanding the true origin and growth of the system. The opportunity -- I may even say the necessity -- of such a study is the more apparent on account of the lack of mediaeval documents concerning the early constitution of the mir. Our sources of information are limited indeed; for several centuries, down to the end of the fifteenth, they are almost entirely wanting, and they only begin to be at all abundant during the last three hundred years. It is only, therefore, by a survey of the modern evolution of village ownership in some remote parts of Russia that we can get an idea of the various transformations which the commune has had to undergo before it reached its present condition.
The vastness of the area and the fact that certain parts of Russia remained for centuries unpeopled, partly on account of their physical condition, partly owing to their insecurity, due, as it was, to the periodical invasions of the Tartars, explain, to a great extent, why the character of the commune varies so much throughout the land. Its growth has been stopped in one place at an early stage, in another place at a later stage, of its development. We can trace these stages in some cases by charters and by legal and judicial documents, in others by the transformation of the commune into higher and more elaborate forms. It is only by the study of these documents and these forms that the Russian historian can hope to be able to describe the gradual development of the agrarian communism of his country. We will now consider the chief results which the application of this method has produced.
In the last lecture it was shown that the earliest mode of land tenure in Russia was the holding it in an undivided state by the members of a house community. This kind of a family communism is mentioned in the Pravda of Jaroslav at the end of the eleventh century, and continued to exist in the north and south of the country down to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The chief characteristic of this holding consisted in the fact that, though the land remained undivided and lay open as it had done for centuries before, every member of the household, nevertheless, was the possessor of a share in the various fields belonging to the family. These shares were not equal, but varied according to rights of inheritance appertaining to each of the holders. Should the brothers and nephews decide on living separately, they would abandon the old system of using in common the produce of the early harvest, and divide the area of the arable land in unequa1 shares, proportioned to the rights of inheritance possessed by each member of the household. The extent of the shares was not fixed. The soil varied in fertility, and all the shareholders alike appreciated the advantages of vicinity; each partner, therefore, received the right to enjoy a certain portion in each of the fields possessed by the village. These portions were not strictly defined, but, as a rule, represented the half, third, fourth, eighth, and so on, of the field according to the heritage which was acknowledged to belong to each partner.
Let us suppose the case of one commune, the family consisting of three brothers living and two nephews, the sons of a fourth brother deceased. The share of each of the brothers would be one-fourth part of each of the different fields in the village, whilst that of the nephews would not exceed an eighth. Each partner having a right to sell his ideal portion, or a part of it, to a stranger, as well as to a relative, the village would soon become occupied by neighbours owning the most unequal portions in field. These neighbours would maintain the obligations which common possession is apt to establish; the meadows for the greater part of the time would be kept undivided, subject here and there to a yearly distribution according to the wants of each homestead; but these wants being as a rule the same, the custom would prevail of dividing them into equal parts for the purpose of mowing.
The pasture and forest land would also remain subject to a community of ownership, and would sometimes belong to several neighbouring villages, which in that case would constitute a larger area, similar to the German "mark," and known under the name of "volost." Each of the inhabitants of the "volost" would be allowed an unlimited use of the undivided area, it being too extensive to be easily exhausted. It would, however, be an error to suppose that this general and unlimited enjoyment of the undivided mark was but the result of that freedom which all possessed as to unoccupied ground (the res nullius), for a person who was not an inhabitant of the village or villages constituting the mark or "volost," would have no right to enjoy its pastures and forest lands. That this was the case is proved by the fact that no one might dig a piece of ground belonging to the forest unless the digging were authorised by the whole community of shareholders. Such a right of prohibition could not have been enjoyed unless the community was the owner of the "mark."
The natural evolution of agrarian communism did not go further than this in the northern parts of Russia. It went further, however, in the south -- in those vast and fertile steppes which lie on the eastern and western banks of Dnieper, and which for centuries constituted a part of Poland. The recent researches of Professor Louchizky have brought to light the following facts, which were quite unknown and some of which were directly contradicted by former historians. Undivided households and their immediate successors, villages, composed of sharers in the same ground, were in the beginning well known on the eastern bank of the Dnieper. The undivided "mark," on which every homestead had the right to take fuel and to pasture its cattle, is known in this region under the name of lands belonging to the "gromada," or commune. They are sometimes called also common or village lands. The colonists who, during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, crossed the river in order to occuPy the free steppes in the modern Government of Tchernigov, migrated in companies, organised on the model of undivided or partly divided households. These companies were called "skladchina," from the verb "skladivat," which means to put something in common. The area on which the colonisation took place was so boundless that each homestead was allowed to sow yearly as much ground as it was able to till. When the harvest was once reaped the land was abandoned, and a new piece occupied for agricultural purposes. You can easily see that this was a proceeding similar to that of the ancient Germans, of which Tacitus says: -- "Arva per annos mutant et superest ager."
I need not tell you that as long as the population was small enough to allow of a yearly change of soil for cultivation, redistribution was never thought of; no mention is ever made of the run-rig system which characterises the modern village community. But as it is impossible that shares should be equal without recourse to some such method, we must not look for equality under the conditions just stated. Even in the eighteenth century, when the growth of population had diminished the area of arable land, periodical redistribution remained unknown. If some amount of equality was, nevertheless, secured, it was due to the control which the commune began to exert over its members. Private appropriation of soil was no longer allowed, except on the condition of its being made at certain fixed periods, and under the supervision of the authorities. Twice a year, in autumn and in spring, the whole commune, with its cattle and its agricultural implements, went out into the open field. At the command of the village-elder, the head of each homestead proceeded to trace with his own plough the limits of the ground he intended to sow, and no one was allowed to extend his cultivation beyond the limits thus settled. By-and-by the right of retaining these private parcels of ground was extended to a period of three years, at the end of which they returned to the commune, and a new appropriation of the arable area was ordered to be made.
Hitherto I have spoken of the mode in which land was enjoyed so far as it applied to arable land alone. Let us now say a word about the meadows, forest land, and pastures. The first were owned on conditions similar to those first mentioned. At the end of May a day was fixed when all the villagers were assembled for the hay harvest. Each householder marked with a scythe the limits of the meadow he intended to mow. It was the duty of the village-elders to see that these limits were strictly observed. Forests and pastures were so abundant that no measuring was needed to regulate their use. Non-division and common enjoyment remained the general rule, several villages very often possessing equal rights to take fuel and to pasture cattle in the same forests and wastes.
Whilst this was the state of things on the banks of the Dnieper, a similar evolution took place on those of the Don. An area, even larger than that of the south-western steppes in the middle of the sixteenth century, awaited the arrival of those Great Russian colonists, who founded the so-called Territory of the Don-Cossacks. For a while the ground was declared to be the common property of the whole community, and each family was allowed to sow and mow wherever it liked, but by-and-by large villages called "stanitza" were formed, and the first division of the ground took place. Each village received its own area of arable and meadow ground; pasture and waste land remained the common property of the whole people, or, as it was said, of the whole "army."
The unlimited right of private homesteads to appropriate as much soil as each required was scrupulously maintained by these stanitzas, a fact which in the end produced great inequality in the distribution of the land. This inequality was established in favour of a minority of families out of which the elders of the people were regularly chosen; but as those who were possessed of but small parcels of land formed the majority, various economic arrangements were regularly made at the village folkmotes where this majority was all powerful; redistributions of land in order to equalise the shares were very often prescribed and the system of run-rig tenure made its first appearance. This took place almost in our own time, some few stanitzas continuing even now to maintain their ancient privilege of private appropriation.
I might continue my survey of the beginnings of the modern system of village communities by a description of the economic arrangements still in use among the Cossacks of the Terek or of the Oural, but if I did so, I should only have to repeat the same facts, and that in order to deduce the following conclusions. That the modern system of periodical redistribution of land in equal shares was quite unknown when colonisation first began, but that this did not prevent a peculiar kind of agrarian communism, the foundations of which are to be traced in the internal constitution of the undivided household; and that this form of social existence was known to Russia at the beginning of her history, and was diffused all over her empire, as may be seen from the frequent occurrence in medieval documents of terms like "the hearth," "the fire" (pechische, ognische).
All the districts we have passed in review had one thing in common; serfdom was almost unknown to them. The peasants of Archangel for instance were always named "svoiezemzi," which means independent possessors of the soil. Social distinctions remained almost unknown to the Little Russians down to the end of the eighteenth century when Catherine the Second introduced amongst them the notions of a feudal nobility and serfdom. The Cossacks of the Don remained free up to the time of Nicholas. I am, therefore, right in saying that agrarian communism is not the direct result of serfdom, since it has been shown to exist in regions where serfdom was unknown.
A careful study of old Russian documents does not add much to the strength of this argument. The illiterate peasants could not consign to writing the economic arrangements they entered into, and in this fact lies the true reason why, out of the various categories into which the Russian peasantry was divided during the middle ages, none is less familiar to us than the free villager, the occupier of the so-called "black hundreds" (chernia sotni). The commune was completely independent in matters of internal concern, there was no need for the government or for judicial charters to meddle in its system of land tenure. What information we can gather from them of the external organisation of the volost or commune proves however the prevalence of a communistic and democratic mode of existence. The assembly of the people, the folkmote, called in the South Western provinces of Russia the "veche," more often "the copa," was formed of all the house-elders of a volost. It possessed the right of making local bye-laws; of choosing the elders of the commune or "starostas"; of distributing among its members the direct taxes which the government imposed on agriculture and on the different industries of the nation (sochi i promisli). Persons were also chosen by the commune to assist the judges in the exercise of their duties, playing n this occasion the part reserved in medieval Germany to the so-called Schoffen and in old Sweden to the "nemd."*
As to the relation in which the volost stood to the ground that it occupied, this subject is partly illustrated by the following facts.
We possess a small number of private charters and judicial records, belonging to the fifteenth and the sixteenth centuries, from which we may see, that the true owner of the soil was partly the village and partly the "volost," or association of villagers. To give you an instance of what I am saying, I will cite the precise text of some of these charters.
In 1555 a lawsuit began between a squire (votchinnik) called Nefediev and the peasants of eighteen villages all belonging to the volost of Almesch. The question which the judges had to decide, was whether some pastures belonged to the volost or to the squire. Witnesses named by each party from among the oldest inhabitants of the locality declared that the peasants were the real possessors of the ground in dispute, and that their ownership went back to a period beyond the memory of man, and the judge decided that the claims of the squire were null and void.
In the case just mentioned we find ourselves in presence of a sort of undivided mark, composed, like that of Germany, of a certain number of villages possessing lands in common. These lands are pastures. Other charters of the same period show us cases in which the undivided area of the mark or volost was composed of forest ground. Expressions like the following are frequent in the documents just mentioned: "The forest belongs to the commune (selo) and the villages in common (vopsche), or "this" piece of forest ground has been given to me by the volost (the mark), the elder, and the peasants."
No one had the right to clear the forest or reclaim the waste land lying within the limits of a volost, unless authorised to do so by the elders and the assembly of peasants. This fact appears clearly in the following instance: in 1524, three persons found some salt wells on the shores of Dvina in the midst of a dark forest. They addressed a petition to the Government asking to be recognized as the legal possessors of the place, and they supported their demand by the following argument: "Not one of the surrounding marks or volosts has any appurtenances in the place." Had it been otherwise, had the wells been situated on the appurtenances of a volost, no private person could have made the demand just mentioned. The marks or volosts jealously watched over the integrity of their boundaries, and that from the earliest times. In the "Lives of the Saints," those early monuments of our written literature, complaint is sometimes made of peasants doing their best to get rid of a hermit, established in a neighbouring forest, "because," says the hagiographer, "they feared he would assign to some monastery a part of the ground they owned."*
The charters give, as I have already said, very little information about the internal arrangements of the volost and village; all we know is that the settlements were very far from resembling those large assemblages of people which are known in our days under the name of "slobodi." As a rule the "derevnia" or village contained few hearths, and the villages were scattered over the whole area of the volost. The wastes and forests were used in common, while the meadows and arable fields became the object of private appropriation. No equality of shares seem to have existed, the charters constantly mentioning the "best men," "the men of wealth," (jitii liudi) side by side with the "smaller men" (molodschii). Some few seem to have had even no part at all in the possessions of the soil, being known under the name of podsousedi or podsousedki, which means living under the authority of a neighbour or villager (sosed). These persons were regularly employed as agricultural labourers. Some few, the so-called "bobili," were possessed of small parcels of land, resembling in that the cottarii of Domesday Book. The agricultural area owned by each homestead was known by the name of "jrebii," which means a lot, and the sense which men of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries attached to this term is revealed to us by an old Russian translation of some parts of the Byzantine codes, the Prochiron and the Eclogue. This translation in certain points appears to be a kind of adaptation of Greek legislation to the conditions of the Russian people. One of the paragraphs of these so-called "Books of the Law" (Zakonnii Knigi, chap. xii) contains the following sentence: "If a division of land shall take place by which some person shall injure the interest of others in their plots (jrebii) the division must not be maintained."*
The jrebii being a plot of land enjoyed by a single household out of the agricultural area of the mark, a plot which need not necessarily be equal to those of the neighbours, we are right in saying that the village community of the free peasants of Muscovy was like that of the Cossacks of the Dnieper. This likeness is to a certain extent obscured by the financial arrangements which the Muscovite volost entered into in order to secure the yearly payment of the land tax, these arrangements, as well as the tax itself, being quite unknown to Little Russian communes.
The Muscovite administration formerly empowered the volosts to distribute the taxes imposed on the villages, according to the quantity of cultivated land together with the commons thereto annexed, possessed by them. The sum to be paid by the inhabitants of each subdivision of the mark was then divided among the various households according to the extent of their possessions. The unit of taxation was the land of a plough. I mean the amount of land which one plough. working the whole day, could turn up. This unit was known by the name of "socha." Some homesteads owned two, three, or more of these, but there were others who held only a portion of this unit, just as in mediaeval England there were households owning entire virgates, or the half or third part of a virgate, and in Germany there were holders of "mansi pleni et mansi dimidii," "ganze und halbe Hufen." As serfdom was unknown and no mutual responsibility in matters of taxation bound the peasant to the soil he occupied, undivided households very often quitted their dwellings in order to settle in some neighbouring country, on lands still free of occupation, or on those liberally accorded to new-comers by their private owners, on condition of a small payment.
The abandoned ground returned each time to the volost, which always took measures to find some new occupier who might relieve the mark from the increase of taxation produced by the departure of the previous occupier. Instances of such new occupation are regularly reported in the following terms: "All the peasants of the volost have allowed such and such persons to settle on the lots (jrebii) left free by the departure of such and such persons. The mir (this word means the whole community of shareholders) has conceded this lot to --" (here follows the name). The shares of each particular household having no distinct limits, we are induced to think that the possession of a lot, or jrebii, conceded no other right than that of having a distinct share in the open fields of the village. Each household possessed larger or smaller strips of ground in the different fields contained in the village area, and also had the right to mow a distinct portion of the village meadow, while the enjoyment of the waste and of the forest land was free to all the inhabitants of the volost, and no rules determined precisely the use which each householder was allowed to make of it.
You may see from what I have said that the runrig system and equality of shares were as little known to the village communities of Old Russia, and specially of Muscovy, as to those of medieval Germany or England. No better known was the correspondence which, according to Mr Seebohm, existed in medieval England between the quantity of ground owned by each household and the part it took in the ordinary labour of agriculture. Tillage performed by families possessing in common a "carruca," or sort of plough worked with three or four pairs of oxen, was quite unknown to my forefathers, who were in the habit of cultivating the ground with small ploughs, drawn very often by a single horse, a fact noticed in the epic poems, and particularly in the ballad, the chief hero of which is a simple peasant, Micoula Selianinovich. The same mode of tillage, I may add, is still in use among the peasants of Great Russia, where the ground is not nearly so heavy as is the black soil of our Southern provinces. The only thing that depended upon tenure of land was taxation, the householder paying a larger or smaller proportion of the land tax, according to the number of plough lands sown by his seed.
This is almost all we know of the free Muscovite village community. Our information is fuller as to the economic arrangements of those dependent communes, which were established on the possessions of the higher clergy and the monasteries. According to Professor Gorchacov, to whom we are indebted for a very circumstantial description of the inner life of these bodies, each manor regularly contained, next to the demesne land, a large area occupied by the dependent households. Each of these households was obliged to perform agricultural labour on the area belonging to the landlord, and in return possessed the right to a share in the autumn and spring fields, owned in common by the customary tenants of the manor. The existence of these two fields may be traced, at least in the central Governments of Russia, as far back as the beginning of the sixteenth century, as they are mentioned in a charter issued in the year 1511. The peasants had, before the end of that century, the right of free removal, the land quitted by a peasant household returning to the community of the villagers.* Besides the feudal lord, the state also had a claim on the community in the shape of a land tax, which the village assembly was itself authorised to collect. The area held by the village was accordingly divided into ploughs (sochi), and smaller divisions called viti, which corresponded to a distinct part of the work of a plough. To make these financial arrangements clearer to an English public, I will say that the customary land of the village was divided into hides and virgates. The quantity of land contained in each virgate varied from one village to another, but the virgates of the same village were equal; in that respect the manor of mediaeval England presents the greatest similitude to that of mediaeval Russia. Both have this also in common, that each household was taxed according to the amount of arable land it owned. One household paid for one "vit," or virgate, another for two, a third for half a virgate, and so on. The vit or virgate, just as in England, was not a number of fields surrounded by distinct boundaries, but a union of ideal shares in the different fields of the village. In the lands of the monastery of Constantine, for instance, the vit was, at least during the first part of the sixteenth century, equal to the right of occupying five desiatines in each of the three fields of the manor, a desiatine being equal to two acres. First introduced in order to secure an equal distribution of state taxation, the system of hides and virgates became later on the basis of the levy and distribution of feudal dues. Instances frequently occur in sixteenth century charters of the labour perfor
med by each of the households being in direct ratio to the number of virgates, or viti, in its possession. Under such conditions, no equality could exist as to the amount of ground possessed by each villager. This equality was not demanded by anybody on account of the abundance of land and the facility of removal. The peasant who thought himself aggrieved could seek better terms on some neighbouring manor; removals were frequent, and the commune was always busy seeking for persons who might wish to become occupiers of the vacant ground of an abandoned virgate.
I shall proceed no further in the study of the social arrangements of the Russian manor because they appear to be, so far as the ownership of land is concerned, very like those of a free village. This is not surprising to one who knows the small difference which exists between the arrangements of a German manor, or Hof, and those of a free commune, or Dorf-gemeinde. The proprietor was too well pleased to see his yearly revenue guaranteed by the unpaid service of the villeins, to meddle with their internal arrangements. The villeins were accordingly allowed to choose their own executive officers, to have their elders, their "good men," or judicial assistants, and to apportion taxes and arrange the land ownership at their regular meetings, or folkmotes. Such being the case, I see no reason why the agrarian communism practised by the Russian peasantry should be much affected by their loose dependence upon the landlord, at least, before the time when serfdom was completely established and the peasant was prevented from removing from the manor.
The general characteristic of the old Russian community may be given in few words: it was a kind of ownership, based on the idea that the true proprietor of the land was none other than the commune. The rights of the commune to the soil occupied by the individual households appears in the indivisibility of the waste and forest lands, and in the fact that vacant shares are regularly disposed of by the commune, and that nobody is allowed to occupy a piece of ground lying within the limits of the village common, unless he is authorised by the local authorities. Arable land and meadows are, as a rule, in the hands of private households, which pay taxes and perform manorial labour in direct proportion to the amount of land they own. This ownership does not suppose the existence of certain limits which nobody is allowed to infringe. It implies only the right to have a definite share in the three fields, which constitute the agricultural area of the village. The shares are not equal, but differ in direct proportion to the payments which the household is called upon to make, partly to the State, and partly to the lord of the manor. Periodical redistributions are unknown, and no mention is made of the run-rig system of some modern English and Irish manors.
Thus constituted, the old Russian village community appears to be very like that of medieval England with its system of open fields, its hides and virgates. It may be also compared to the German mark, so far as the mark is composed of a set of villages subdivided into units partly financial, partly territorial, called Hufen, and securing to their private holders, like the English virgates, the right to have a distinct share in the arable fields and in the meadows of the village.
Now that we are aware of the peculiar features of the medieval village community, let us ascertain the reasons which have produced a complete revolution in its interior organisation by the introduction of the principle of equal division of the soil among its individual members, and the system of periodical allotments of ground in order to secure this equality.
Two facts seem to have contributed to this result; the first was the increase of population, which, as we have already shown in the instance of Little Russian communes, sooner or later induces the majority of persons holding small shares to force the rest to proceed to a redistribution of the soil. The other fact is the replacing of the land-tax by a sort of capitation tax, and the introduction of the principle of mutual responsibility, in matters of taxation. The first of these causes, increase of population, remained inoperative as long as the peasant retained the liberty of removing freely from one place to another. Much ground was lying waste. Landowners had no other thought than how to induce new colonists to settle on it; with this end in view they regularly freed them from all taxes for a period of three years. Those of the villagers, who thought themselves sacrificed to the interests of their neighbours could, therefore, easily find the land they wanted and that under very favourable conditions. They had only to leave the village they inhabited and seek for new homes, either on the still unoccupied steppes or on the manors possessed by the crown, the church, or the landed aristocracy.
Such was no longer the case when serfdom became a general rule, and the right of free migration was refused to the peasant. This happened during the period which extends from the end of the sixteenth to that of the seventeenth century. Two decades later followed the great change in matters of taxation when Peter the Great abolished the land-tax, and introduced the capitation-tax. This happened in the year 1719. Mutual responsibility of persons belonging to the same village was introduced, and both landlords and peasants were allowed to take preventive measures against those who might seek to escape the obligation of paying the personal tax by withdrawing from their habitations.
When this revolution was accomplished and each household began to be taxed, not according to the quantity of land it owned, but according to the number of persons attributed to it in the taxation returns, the grossest injustice would necessarily arise if the soil remained in the hands of its then holders. Complaints were therefore made, and petitions addressed, in which the old division of the village area was declared to be obnoxious, and an equality of shares was demanded as a necessary condition for the regular fulfilment by each village of its financial obligations towards the State. An instance of such a request is that presented by the peasants of the village of Petrovsk in the year 1725, in which they ask to have an equal share of land allotted to each member of the commune, all other kinds of allotment being contrary to justice. Similar demands must have been made repeatedly before the members of the legislative commission, convened by Catherine the Second, received orders to protest against the requirements of those who wanted all the land of a village to be distributed in equal shares according to the number of souls, notwithstanding that these lands had been fertilised by the work and private industry of the first settlers.*
For the reasons just mentioned, a redistribution of the land was made at least every time the Government revised its taxation returns; such revision occurring every nineteenth year. It was felt necessary to establish a direct relation between the number of persons living in a household, and the amount of land possessed by the household, and the fact, that the actual number of such persons did not correspond to those enumerated in the taxation returns, even after the lapse of a few years, led some communes to have recourse to more frequent divisions. It is in this way that we may explain how it was brought about, that redistributions came to be made every sixth or even every third year. We hear of no yearly distribution because the three field system, still prevailing in Russia, required at least a three years' rotation of the crops. It was not always the country people who took the initiative in an equal re-allotment of the soil according to the number of persons taxed. Mr Zabelin has brought forward instances, in which such allotments were made on the initiative of the lord of the manor, and Mr Schimanov has produced a curious case, in which such re-allotment was made by the direct order of a provincial Governor, who thought that justice required that the number of shares, owned by each household, should correspond to the number of souls composing it. This happened not longer ago than the second half of the seventeenth century in the Government of Kharkov, where inequality of shares had been up to that time the general rule. It is only by a general agreement between the people and the authorities that we can explain the rapid expansion of the present system. We do not find any trace of such redistributions before the end of the seventeenth century, when the borough of Schouia began to make new allotments of ground every ten years.*
Having now finished with the past history of the Russian village commune, we shall proceed to the study of its modern arrangements. These have formed the subject of very curious investigations, which have been carried on during the last few years by a number of young Russian economists, employed by the elective councils or "zemstva" of our provinces. Their work will probably be as valuable to coming generations, as that performed in England a century ago by Messrs Sinclair and Marshall, or as that, which in our own day is still going on in India under the enlightened supervision of the Indian Settlement Commissioners. I shall make free use of the rich material, which these skilful and untiring workers have accumulated, in order to present to you a picture of the prevailing system, the mir or village community of to-day.
According to the law of emancipation promulgated the 19th February 1861, the peasantry continue to possess an organisation quite distinct from that of the other classes of society. The ancient "volost" (or mark) is preserved or rather revived, and the villages are, as they were centuries ago, the administrative units of which it is formed. The volost and the village have alike their elected authorities, the right of election being based on a kind of universal suffrage, exercised by all the grown-up men of the community. But, differing in this from the French "commune," and the sections composing it, the Russian volost and village accord no right of suffrage to persons belonging to any other social position than that of peasant (krestianine, a word, the first meaning of which was Christian). A merchant or a nobleman may reside for years in a village; he will not thereby acquire any right to meddle with its internal administration. To explain the reason of such an anomaly, we must keep in view the circumstances under which the law of 1861 was promulgated. its chief purpose was to liberate the serfs from their dependence on the landed aristocracy. The squire, the "pomeschick," was the enemy against whom they had to fight, and it was feared that he could easily regain the influence, which had lasted for centuries, if he and the persons in his service were allowed to have a vote in communal concerns. It was therefore to prevent a practical restoration of feudal power, that the upper classes were debarred from all interference in village matters. But the legislators forgot the dangers, which arise from the artificial isolation of an ill-educated class, both for itself and for the other orders of society. I know no country, in which the enlightened classes have so little opportunity of exercising that moral influence, without which no social progress can be really achieved. Not only the squire, be he a nobleman or a merchant, but also the parish priest (the pope), are excluded by law from the right to vote in the village assembly. Questions concerning public instruction and public health are daily discussed and settled by illiterate men, very often to the injury of the community, without any reference to the wishes and intentions of the more enlightened inhabitants, whose interference in such cases would be considered a direct infringement of the law. This is certainly a great wrong; a wrong which is clearly seen, both by society and by Government. The absenteeism of the higher classes and their dislike of that country life which is so familiar in England, certainly finds its chief root in what I may call the "privilegium odiosum" which is attached to the status. On the other hand, the ordinary peasant, left without that natural control and guidance which the enlightened classes are called upon to exercise towards the more ignorant, is naturally led to look for protection and help to those of his own rank who have succeeded in securing for themselves a certain amount of material wealth. This class of rich peasants, known under the name of "koulaks," which means a man knowing how to keep money in his own hands, is as a rule no better educated and far more selfish and immoral than the rest of the country people. The disintegrating influence, which such a class exercises, has been rightly recognised in the nickname with which the peasantry have dubbed its members, I mean that of "miroied." or "eaters of the mir" it is to such speculators and monopolists that the people are abandoned; it may be in the secret hope of rendering impossible any good understanding between them and the higher classes of the nation. For no doubt, such an understanding might become a serious obstacle in the way of the all-powerful bureaucracy, which rules over the masses with that insolence and harshness which are usually only met with in the relations of conquerors to a conquered nation. Instead of giving the higher classes their share in the affairs of the village, the Government has lately increased the number of administrative oppressors, by instituting a new office, that of "Commander of the district." This office is to be exclusively filled by members of the hereditary nobility. With no other control over them, than that of the Governor of the province, these newly-created officers are called upon to exercise a boundless authority, both executive and judicial, over the villages in their district. There is no judicial appeal against their doings, for they are at once police officers making their own by-laws, and magistrates authorised to decide questions of the infringement of these same by-laws; they are even the executioners of their own sentences, for the right of flogging on the spot, where the misdemeanour has been committed, is openly recognised as belonging to them.
It is not difficult to foresee the effect which the introduction of these new officers will have on the life of the people. Having been hitherto taught to look on the neighbouring squire as a stranger, they will now come to consider him as their natural enemy.
But let us go back to the study of the administrative organisation of the Russian mir.
Every village is authorised to have its popular assembly. This folkmote is the regular heir of the "vechas" and "koupas" still preserved, as we have seen, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, among the South-Western communes of Russia, and, what is not less curious, also by the manorial system during the same centuries. When I say that all the adult members of the village are called upon to vote at these popular assemblies, I mean that this is the case in the majority of Russian villages, in which the inhabitants are likewise partners in the common lands of the village. It is not the case in the yearly increasing number of villages, in which the new-comers are only permitted to reside in the commune, but are prevented from sharing in the benefit which the commune derives from its property in land. In Germany and Switzerland, where centuries ago new-comers, known under the name of "Beisaszen" or "Hintersaszen," "domicilies," "manants," etc., were allowed to settle side by side with the proprietors of the common land (the gemeingut or allmend), two kinds of popular assemblies are known. The one is composed of all the adult inhabitants without distinction; the other of those who have a share in the common land. The first assembly makes by-laws, chooses officers, and passes measures which concern the common good. The second administers the lands of the village, appoints those entrusted with the care of them, and distributes to the several partners their shares in the commons. The laws of some Swiss cantons, therefore, establish a difference between the "politische Gemeinde," or commune, composed of all the male inhabitants, and the "burgerliche Gemeinde," to which all the sharers in the common land, male and female alike, belong. Now this difference is unknown in Russia, where political rights are exclusively exercised by those inhabitants who are at the same time sharers in the common land.
The officer to whom the assembly entrusts the administration of the village is called the village elder. We find the same officer in the old Russian communes, both in the so-called "black hundreds" in other words, in the villages inhabited by free-commoners -- and also on the lands of manorial lords. Monastic charters, among other documents, very frequently mention the election of these officers, who are sometimes called, especially in the South-Western communes, "bourgmistr" -- a name evidently derived from the German burgermeister, and showing, to a certain extent, the influence exercised by German municipal law on the local organisation of Lithuania and Little Russia.
It is the village elder, the starosta, who represents the commune in its relations with the district and provincial authorities. It is he who collects the taxes, exercises some supervision over the way in which the commune keeps in repair the roads and pubic buildings; sees that the law concerning obligatory fire insurance is obeyed, and carries into effect the various administrative enactments which the police authorities and the local assemblies of the zemstvo are very liberal in creating. But the most important functions of the commune, that of apportioning personal taxation and making periodical assessments of common land, are performed by the popular assembly or mir. Two-thirds of the whole number of voters are empowered to decide whether the proper time has come or not for a new general allotment. The same majority is also required whenever the division of the common land into private property has to be decided on.
Neither the assembly nor the village elder has any judicial authority; but the village elder exercises, to a certain extent, the functions of a public notary, for he gives legal validity to private documents and deeds by affixing to them the village seal.
A regular tribunal, a kind of court leet, is formed by the elective judges of the volost. This institution is an innovation introduced by the emancipation law, at least so far as it assigns, not to the village, but to the larger territorial district, the volost, the sole right of giving judicial decisions in civil suits and in misdemeanours among persons belonging to the peasant class. The peculiar feature of this tribunal is, that it is not bound to follow the prescriptions of law, but those of custom.
Russia, so far as I know, is the only European country, in which a sort of "personalitas legum" is still acknowledged, the peasants submitting to one complex code of legal rules, and the higher classes to another. What is no less characteristic is the fact that the customary law of the Russian peasant is alone the genuine Russian law -- the law that is found in our ancient codes (such as the Pravda of Jaroslav, in the judicial charters of Novgorod and Pscov, in the statute of Lithuania, and in the codes of Ivan the Third and of Ivan the Terrible); whist the volumes X and XV (so-called) of the general collection of laws (so the civil and criminal codes are designated in Russia) are a compound partly of Russian, partly of French, partly of canon, Byzantine or even so-called natural law.
The only way to get rid of this dualism in matters of legislation would be to codify the customary law of Russia, introducing into it the changes required by the social development that has been already achieved by the higher classes. But such does not seem to be the opinion of the bureaucrats, to whom has been intrusted the difficult task of preparing the text of a new civil and criminal code. The books and pamphlets published by these modern Solons express an opposite view and would seem to justify the supposition that the double law will be scrupulously preserved, probably with the object of perpetuating the misunderstanding which already exists between the lower and higher classes of Russian society.
The volost has no assembly of its own, but it has its chief in the person of an elected elder "starschina," to whom the village elders are subject in all matters concerning the collection of taxes and the carrying into effect of laws and by-laws.
The little I have here said about the organisation of the village community will answer the end I have in view of placing clearly before you the economic arrangements made by the village in reference to the common lands. The relation in which the village stands to them is not that of proprietor. They belong according to law to the State alone. In those villages which are occupied by the so-called "State-peasants," that is the heirs of the serfs lately belonging to the "public domains," no means have been adopted to allow of the peasant becoming even in future the proprietor of the soil. Such, however, is not the case in those communes, which have been established on lands lately belonging to the nobility. As soon as the peasants on each estate have paid back the money advanced by the State to facilitate the acquisition of the land which the proprietor was forced to give up to them, they become the legal proprietors of the soil they now occupy. This payment may be made by the whole commune or by the separate households which belong to it. Five millions of roubles had been already devoted to this purpose up to the year 1881; later statistics are still wanting. Each time that the payment is made by a separate household, common property is of course superseded by private property and this enactment is rightly considered by Russian publicists as prejudicial to the further maintenance of agrarian communism. *
The commune exercises its proprietary rights in different ways. It keeps the waste-land and forests undivided, and makes periodical allotments of arable and meadow land. it was most prejudicial to the welfare of the peasants that the obligatory expropriation of 1861 did not extend to a part at least of the waste-land of the manor, held previously to that date in common by the manorial lord and his serfs. We must acknowledge that in this respect the government of the old French monarchy, that of Louis XIII and of Louis XIV, showed a far greater knowledge of the economic wants of the agricultural classes. The so-called "triages" secured to the peasants the right of exclusive enjoyment to at least a third of the manorial wastes and woods. Nothing which corresponds to those triages has been established in Russia. The result of this can be seen in the need which the peasant is under of diminishing year by year the number of his cattle, a condition of things which has already re-acted on the state of agriculture. In those cases where the village has had no access to the waste land, it has been obliged to carve out of its arable ground a special field to serve as a common pasture. But this can only be done where the allotments made out of the manorial land are of large extent. In the greater number of villages they have not amounted to more than three dessiatines a head, and the commoners have been forced to content themselves either with sending their cattle on to the "Lammas" lands, that is, the arable land after harvest, or with renting some pasture ground from a neighbouring squire.
As for the forests, allotments out of. them were rarely made, at least in our Southern provinces where woods are scarce, and the peasant is quite dependent for his fuel on the squire, who takes advantage of this fact, and secures the regular performance of agricultural labour on his own domains in return for permission to use the dead wood which would otherwise lie unused. In the northern provinces allotments were frequently made of forests, and were sometimes treated as "assart lands." I make use of a term which is probably quite familiar to you, as it is frequently to be met with in English documents even of the first part of the present century. But for those who are not aware of its meaning I will add the following explanation. When population became dense, the village allowed new homesteads to be established in the middle of the forest the trees were burned down, the roots seldom being removed, and the plough began to work in a region which had hitherto been accessible only to the axe. The area thus cleared for a time paid nothing to the State; but after a few years, three as a rule, it was annexed to the number of common lands which were burdened by personal taxes. The owners of these cleared lands received no allotments out of the common fields, but they regularly paid to the Government as much as the commoners of the same village.
We must now turn our attention to the way in which the arable land and the meadows are used. Equality being the chief aim of the members of the village community, its arable fields are as a rule very numerous. The commoners take into account both the differences in the fertility of the soil and the comparative advantages of its situation. Land which is either mountainous or distant from the village is not likely to produce the same revenue, or to be so easily cultivated as an equal area to it; the black soil is far more fruitful than the sandy or the clayey soil. The community, therefore, has a great number of "shots" or "furlongs," * and in each of these shots every householder receives a number of strips equal to the number of the taxed persons in his household. You can easily imagine how scattered and intermixed are the possessions of each homestead. In cases where there is no great difference in the fertility of the soil, and the shots are consequently not very numerous, the community sometimes adopts a different method. The whole number of commoners is divided into "tythings," or decenas, and the fields are divided into as many parts as there are tythings. Each tything, or decena, then makes the division for itself. Lots are drawn to decide the order in which the strips must be distributed among the tythings and subdivided among the persons composing them.* Owing to the almost universal preva1ence of the three-field system, the number of shots never falls below three.
The re-allotment of shares is of two kinds, partial and general. The first supposes the increase or diminution of the number of strips assigned to a household, consequent on an augmentation or decrease of the number of persons composing it. The second is equivalent to a complete change in the distribution of. arable land among the commoners. It takes place at fixed periods, the shortest of which is three years, that being the time needed for a complete rotation of crops under the existing three fields' system; and the longest nineteen or more years -- the number of years that separate the old census of a population from a new one. The number of shares allotted to each household either corresponds to the number of male persons for whom the household pays the personal tax, or to that of the souls actually living. Instances occur in which the villagers assign half shares to the women, or reserve certain shares unoccupied for the generation to come. As for the meadows, they are frequently mown in common, the hay being divided in equal parts among all the members of the commune. Very often, too, a yearly division takes place before harvest; account is taken of the greater or smaller distance of each meadow from the village, and of the quality of its grass, and then each commoner receives a strip in all and every one of the meadows. But I need not insist on the various aspects under which the system of re-allotments may present itself. It is not my purpose to give you a complete description of the various forms which the village community may take, but a general picture of all its characteristic features.
Amongst these I must place the control exercised by the village authorities over the performance at the proper time of each part of agricultural labour. The strips of the several households being scattered over the whole village area, and intermixed with those of their neighbours, the same system of agriculture must of necessity be followed by all. The system in use, as I have already told you, is that of the three fields, the winter, the summer, and the fallow; the fields becoming common pasture after the gathering in of the harvest. All agricultural labour must therefore begin and end at fixed periods, and the different households which constitute the village must do their ploughing, sowing, harrowing, mowing and reaping, precisely at the same time. The authorities of the village are empowered to insist upon this; the "Flurzwang," to use a well known German expression, is a necessary condition of this kind of agrarian communism, which is embodied in the system of the mir.
The performance at its proper time of each part of agricultural labour could not be attained if the commoners did not help one another in its accomplishment. This is the real origin of the obligation which compels every peasant to help his neighbours in mowing and reaping. This sort of communal help, regularly performed at harvest time, is known in Russia under the name of "village assistance." It was under like conditions that the medieval lovebones, or love boons (angariae autumni), took their rise in England.
The feeling of mutual dependence, which has its origin in the common ownership and use of land, is the source from which springs another curious institution. Certain agricultural lands remain undivided and are cultivated by the combined work of the whole village; their yearly produce being regularly brought to the common store and equally distributed among all in case of dearth.
In Russian villages there are no special "poor" or "school lands" (Armen-und Schulguter), similar to those of Switzerland or Germany, although the question has been recently raised as to the desirability of assigning certain shares of the common lands to the schoolmaster, he being authorised to cultivate them with the help of his pupils. This plan for turning the schoolmaster into an agricultural labourer belongs to the number of those measures, by which the reactionary party hope to prevent the badly paid village schoolmasters from becoming what they call "revolutionary dreamers." I am happy to say that it has not yet met with the support of the Government.
I now come to the capital question of the advantages and disadvantages, which the system of village communities presents, and which will of course exercise a decisive influence as to its future. There is no question so much discussed, and I may say, so often misunderstood by my countrymen, as that of the superiority or inferiority of the existing system in comparison with that of small holdings.
Both socialists and reactionaries have taken hold of the question, and both parties try to work it out in favour of their own systems. The value which they attach to the system of the mir differs considerably. What the socialists admire in it are the fruitful germs which they suppose it to contain of a future reorganisation of society on their own model. As to the Slavophils, they think it perfect in its present form, and never tire of repeating a saying which, with doubtful authenticity, is attributed to the great Cavour: "Russia will revolutionise the world with her system of the mir."
To an impartial observer the village communal system appears to be a compound of small advantages and great disadvantages; the advantages are rather of a moral, and the disadvantages of an economic character. It encourages, no doubt, to a much greater degree than the system of private holdings, the feeling of mutual interdependence and the inclination to mutual help, without which no society can exist. But it is a manifest error to speak of this system as a serious barrier to pauperism. For, although the commoner is prevented by law from alienating his share, he may, and often does, dispose of it in favour of some rich neighbour, who in time of want has offered to pay the amount of the commoner's taxes on condition of having the use of his land. If the Slavophils were right in their opinion, that, thanks to the system of the mir, pauperism was impossible in Russia, we should certainly not hear daily of the so-called "Koulaks" eating up the mir, or, what comes to the same thing, sacrificing the interests of the community to their own.
The economic disadvantages which the system presents are so evident that I need scarcely insist upon them. Instead of giving my own opinion on this subject, I prefer to quote the words of a Russian economist, who is far from belonging to the much decried Manchester School. "Agrarian communism, as it is applied in Russia," says Professor Ivanukov, "is a hindrance to the investment of capital in agriculture, and to the introduction of a more thorough, a better and more remunerative system of cultivation; for the strips belonging to this or that homestead will in case of each new division pass into strange hands, so that the peasant does not find it to his interest to lay out money which could only be recovered during a long term of possession." It is true that local inquirers have been able to produce several instances in which peasant commoners have introduced a somewhat thorough system of grass sowing;* but we must not forget that this has been done during a period when the readjustment of lots was rare.
We must not forget, too, one great disadvantage of the mir system, which consists in the fact that wherever it exists, the pieces of land belonging to the same holder are "scattered about on all sides of the township, one in this furlong and another in that, intermixed, and it might almost be said," writes Mr Seebohm, "entangled together as though some one blindfold had thrown them about on all sides of him." *
Several Russian economists have shown that this defect is not peculiar to the mir, but is to be found in the system of small holdings,* as if these small holdings had not inherited it from their direct predecessor, the village community. What is, however, of far more importance than the opinion of this or that student of the mir is the fact that it is gradually and spontaneously breaking to pieces. There is no doubt that a general redistribution of shares has not taken place, at least in the more fertile area of the black soil, since the year of the peasants' emancipation. It is difficult to explain this solely by the dislike of the provincial and district administrators to the system; the unwillingness of the powerful minority of rich peasants to proceed to a new division is recognised on all sides, and quite suffices to explain the difficulties encountered in the way of a fresh readjustment. For we must remember that the law requires that two-thirds of the voters shall agree on any decision on this subject, and the Koulaks, although in a minority, are sure to have influence enough among the poorer peasants, who are their debtors, to obtain their own way in a folkmote.
The fact that a movement in favour of a re-division of the common lands has arisen in the northern and central provinces, where the soil is poor, and the in come which the peasant receives from his share does not cover the amount of the taxes he has to pay, can certainly not be adduced in favour of the idea of a further spontaneous development of Russian agrarian communism.
The majority of the peasants insist on such a readjustment, so that they may have fewer taxes to pay, and not because they long to see the great principle of equality become the ruling power of the world. If we wish to point to a really spontaneous movement in the sphere of land-tenure, it must certainly be to that which has induced thousands of peasants to pay back the money which was advanced to them by the Government in the year of their emancipation to enable them to become the free proprietors of the soil. I have already mentioned the fact that five million roubles have been repaid to the Crown; it is interesting to note the rate at which this repayment has been made. From 1861 to 1868, according to Mr Keuszler, the amount of money paid by persons wishing to exchange their common rights for private property, hardly formed the seven-hundredth part of the whole sum. From 1868 to 1872 it had amounted to 10 per cent; from 1873 to 1877 to 33 1/2 per cent; the rest of the sum, or 55 per cent, having been paid back during the years 1877 to 1881.*
If this steady increase is not considered a conclusive proof, I must decline to bring forward any other, not even the disappearance of village communities in the neighbourhood of the larger towns, such as St. Petersburg, Moscow, and even Voroneg, owing to the fact that in their neighbourhood high farming pays best, and that this high farming is impossible without a change in the system of land property.
How long village communities will exist is not a question easy to answer. The Government may certainly prevent for a time their dissolution by some artificial measures, like those taken in relation to the undivided household. A proposal has even been made to declare that the common-land shall not become private property even after the repayment of the whole sum which its holder owes to the Government. Such a measure might, indeed, long arrest the spontaneous movement which produces the dissolution of this archaic form of agrarian communism.
If left to itself, it will certainly be maintained in those remote parts of Russia where the population is still so small as to retard agricultural progress; but it is likely soon to disappear in the manufacturing districts, where the peasant passes more time in the factory than in the fields and where, when he leaves his old home, he has to find, and that ofttimes under very unsatisfactory conditions, some partner to perform his share of field labour. It is also more than probable that the South of Russia, the true granary of the Empire, will soon become a country of private ownership in land. The system of the mir, as I have already said, is in more than one part of this district a comparatively modern innovation. The Little Russian is too fond of independence and self-control to acquiesce in a system which confines his industry in every direction.
The village community, that venerable survival of an epoch closely akin to the patriarchal, will disappear in Russia, as it already has disappeared in other countries in Europe -- in England, Germany, and Switzerland. It will give way to private land, unless, and this is not very likely property in under present conditions, it be completely transformed by the extension of communistic principles to capital. Those who, like myself, do not believe in the possibility of leaps and bounds in matters of social progress, will probably consider that such a state of things belongs to the number of those dreams, the practical realisation of which is to be looked for only in a remote future.