Imatges de pÓgina

Irritated by their pretensions, and by the disorders which they occasioned in the armies, he ordered them to bring to him all the charters of their privileges ; which having obtained, he threw them! into the fire, declaring that in future the titles of nobility among his subjects should be founded only on personal merit, and not on birth. The names of the nobles were then inscribed in two public registers, one containing those of the great, the other those of the little nobility.

· The inferior order of nobles comprehends the boyars, those descending from noble or ennobled families, and persons who obtain titles from services or favour.

• The persons not noble are the free peasants who cultivate their own grounds, and, without enjoying the privileges of nobility, partake in its burdens. Like the most brutal vassals, these picasants regard the monarch as a deity, and give him that title *.

% There are about five and twenty thousand other free peasants, who furnish nothing towards the support of the militia who guard the frontiers, but have the right of purchasing an exemption from this service by paying annually two rubles and seventy kopeeks to the crown ; and there is a far greater number who pay one ruble and seventy kopeeks, and are still subject to the recruits of the militia.

• Among the free peasants are comprized the inhabitants of towns employed in commerce, or as artificers : but in that case they enjoy some particular privileges. They elect their own magistrates, who watch over their franchises and settle their disputes : some of them are even exempt from the capitation : but the generality pay it, and are obliged to contribute to the maintenance of the troops.

• The mugikes or vassals are attached to the glebe. Estates are valued in Russia by the number of men belonging to them t, each man being valued at only forty rubles, though he brings his master at least from five to ten rubles annually.

• The life of the vassal belongs to the state: but his person, his furniture, and his cattle are the property of the lord I. The rights of the proprietors over the vassals are unlimited, and they too often abuse them so far as to put persons to death. The class of vassals, thus degraded and appressed, forms however more than nineteen twentieths of the whole population of Russia.

• The nobles employ the greater part of their vassals in the cultivation of their grounds, selecting the most intelligent for their domestics, or putting them to learn some trade. By this mode, neither their servants nor their workmen cost them any thing.

• The male vassals pay the government a capitation-tax of seventy kopeeks out of their own earnings; the women pay nothing. The

• * Calling him Zemnoz-bog, terrestrial god.?

+ Accordingly, there are some very rich lords in Russia. Prince Potemkin possessed two hundred thousand peasants.'

• Some masters, though not many, allow their peasants to dispose of the fruit of their industry.' Pp 3


masters, exempt from all imposts, are only obliged to furnish soldiers for recruiting the militia and the armies.

• The Russian peasants are ignorant, and extremely superstitious : but this is owing to their education, and to the slavery in which they live, as they rarely fail of succeeding in whatever they are intended to be taught. Among them are very expert smiths, carpenters, and joiners; who, with their adze only, execute the most difficult works.

• Nothing can be more curious than, at the forming of a regiment, to see the colonel take a review of his new soldiers, telling each of them, as chance directs, the trade which he is to follow. They are not allowed to ask for a different vocation from that assigned to theni, as they would only be answered by a sound caning : but they immediately obey; the shoemaker becomes cartwrighi, the painter a taylor, and all at the will of the despot.

The Russian nobles, being generally as barbarous as their peasants are docile, often require of these poor wretches things which are utterly impossible, and punish them very severely when they are not satisfied with the performance. The remonstrances, the indignation, the ridicule, of some more enlightened person is vainly applied to correct their brutish stupidity *. Notwithstanding this, the peasants remain faithfully attached to their masters. If they happen to testify their dissatisfaction, they are sent off anong the recruits which they are obliged to furnish ; and this the peasants dread more than any thing:

The Russian peasants have in general the same spirit of servitude, and the same manners: but their character difíers accarding to the nature of the climate, and the example of the surrounding nations.

* • From a great number of anecdotes descriptive of the character of these nobles, I shall only cite two, A boyar, who lived in the country, it is reported, had sent to Mosco one of his domestics to learn house-painting. At the expiration of some months, the servant returned, and employed the talent which he had acquired in the decoration of some of the buildings, to the great satisfaction of his master. One day, he called the man, ard ordered him directly to paint the portrait of his wife. The poor domestic excused himself, by alleging that he had learned to paint doors, windows, and walls, but not limning: the boyar, however, caused him to be cruelly flogged, saying, that he had laid out his money to a fine purpose truly, in the instruction of a scoundrel who would not paint his wife's picture. Another noble Russian employed a musician to teach one of his vassals to sound the French horn. Some days afterward, he asked the musician whether the boor made much progress: the musician answered, No, and that he had not yet even the method of filling it. Very well, replied the nobleman; let him be called. The rustic was brought in, and fifty strokes of the scourge were administered : “ There, take that, for not having yet, in a whole week, got the art of filling the horn. If you have it not by to-morrow, you shall have the punishment repeated,"



The peasants of Little Russia, of the frontiers of Poland, and of the environs of St. Petersburg, are cunning, thievish, and commonly malicious. The Muscovites, on the contrary, are kind, ever ready to oblige, and extremely disinterested. The virtue of hospitality is that which they practice and cherish the most. Superstition and ignorance render them sometimes crnel : but, by instruction and wise law's, they might be rendered the best people in the world. What energy, what struggles for liberty, hare they not sometimes shewn ! Wiien Tzar Alexius Mikhailovitch, the father of Peter I. discovered his intention of destroying slavery, they immediately assembled and marched against Moscn, which had set itself to oppose the beneficent designs of the monarch. As soon as Catherine II. talked of giving a code of laws to Russia, and detaching the serfs from the glebe, upwards of a hundred thousand of these serfs were in readiness to deliver themselves from the despotism of their tyrants * : but the sovereign stopped short, and the slaves remained in their fetters.'

This work has been much improved throughout, and is a very respectable history of the reign of which it treats: the accounts of the country are likewise drawn up from good information. A translation is just advertized.


Art. XII. Mémoires de L' ricadémie Royale des Sciences et Belles

Lettres, &c. i. e. Memoirs of the Royal Academy of Sciences and Belles Lettres at Berlin, from the Accession of Frederic William II. For 1792 and 1793. With the History during

that Period. 4to. Pp. 720. Berlin. 1798. WH

Hen we reviewed the last volume of this publication,

which the political circumstances of the times allowed us to procure, (the vol. for 1787, published in 1792.) we could not refrain from remarking on the excessive veneration for illustrious Princes, and the ample details concerning the donation of places and employments, which were observable in it, and which could not fail to disgust the English reader. The

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* * It is certain that the peasants at that time murdered a great number of their inhuman masters, and these enormities' contributed to prevent them from becoming free. It is related that, during the sebellion of Pugatshef, who promised liberty to the serfs, Prince Scherehatof, on returning from Petersburg to Mosco, was much surprised to see his palace illuminated, and, on his ncarer approach, to hear the vociferations of tumultuous mirth. His servants were all at table, carousing with his choicest wines and liquors. Irritated at this scene of disorder, he threatened the guests : but one of them rose up and said : “ Hear me, Prince Alexander, do not put yourself in a passion; you may repent of what you dle, for our avenger is at the door." The prince took the advice, and retired."



volume before us exhibits similar instances of adulation. In the History of the Academy, we find little that is particularly worthy of notice. It contains a paper entitled Considerations on Fanaticism, by M. FORMEY, which is an irregular declamation, promising something, but performing nothing: the reader may not be ina clined to dispute the truth of the observations, singly consi. dered, but he will be unable to conceive for what purpose they have been brought together.-The Eulogium of M. DE CASTILLON senior, written by his son, is composed with sensibility and correctness, but affords nothing very interesting.-There are some other preliminary pieces, which require no particular notice.- Among the MEMOIRS, in the class of

SPECULATIVE PHILOSOPHY, We find a Memoir on the Phænomenism of David Hume, by M. MERIAN. This term is distinguished by the author from Idealism, and Egoïsm, yet the theories of Berkeley and Hume in reality differ chiefly in degree ; the existences of external objects once denied, it is a trifling shade of distinction, whether the sceptic modestly questions the being of other individuals, or only doubts whether he exists himself. Berkeley's religious prepossessions furnished him with the hypothesis of spiritual beings, which was rejected by the cold scepticism of Hume; the Scotch philosopher was consequently led to the monstrous supposition of simultaneous or successive events, existing without mutual relations, without causes, and we may add, without proof of their existence, on this scheme. M. MERIAN has undertaken to combat these opinions, by turning the arms of the sceptics against themselves. He asks,

• What iã a phænomenon ? can it exist without being perceived ? or, as its name seems to imply, is it essential to its nature that it shall be perceived ? Mr. Hume and his disciples cannot affirm the former position without contradicting themselves : for the phænomenon, existing independent of its appearance, would be a real durable being ; in one word, a subject, a substance.

« If the phænomenon does noť or cannot exist without being perceived, I would ask, by whom or by what is it perceived? There are only three possible answers :

• The phænomenon is perceived by itself, or by another phænomenon, or by something which is not a phænomenon.

• A phænomenon perceiving itself, or appearing to itself, wonld be something very strange. On this supposition, nothing would exist but individual, insulated, phænomena. Sounds would hear each other, odours would smell each other, &c.

• Do not you observe, that this self perception supposes an action or re-action on itself? that consequently it supposes causes and effects, which your philosophical consciehce will not admit.

• Phænomena

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• Phænomena which perceive other phænomena are equally inconceivable. Smells which perceive sounds, sounds which perceive colours, which distinguish odours, &c. are so many absurdities.

The third supposition of a substratum, or subject, is the only one remaining : but this is banished by Mr. Hume to the country of chimeras.

The author cannot accede to the deportation of this theory; and he proceeds to shew its necessity in a very ingenious manner. Granting, he says, that phänomena can perceive themselves, or each other, each theory supposes something perceiving, and something perceived.

Now what perceives is a phænomenon, and consequently is under the same necessity of being perceived, without which it would be no phænomenon :- but by what must it be perceived ? by

third phænomenon, which would be circumstanced alike, and so of the rest. A. is perceived by B., B. by C., &c. The process would be infinite, unless we should stop at a given point, which could no longer be a phænomenon.'

Another objection started by this writer, against the scepticism of Mr. Hume, is rather ludicrous; if there be no connection between cause and effect, M. MERIAN argues that there can be no connection between Mr. Hume's premises and his conclur sions. This is laying the axe to the root with a vengeance.

Several acute observations follow, which it would exceed our limits to introduce. M. Merian thinks that the incom. prehensible philosopher, Kant, has made use of Hume's principles.

It must be acknowleged that the sceptical ideas of Hume are carried to a degree of extravagance which exposes them to merited ridicule. A philosopher who is uncertain of his own existence, who asks, Who am I? Do I think? Do I respire ? Have I a body? in a word, Does any thing exist? is an object of compassion rather than of controversy. M. Merian has seized some of the leading features of this capricious sophistry, and has treated them with proper severity ; yet his dissertation, perhaps, will not convince those

“ Sceptics, whose strength of argument makes out
That wisdom's deep inquiries end in doubt ;"

GAY. but he has certainly produced arguments which deserve the most serious attention from the disciples of Mr. Hume.,

This paper is followed by a Memoir on Certainty, and particuJarly on human Certainty, by M. ANCILLON. There is nothing satisfactory, nor even ingenious, in this long declamation. That man cannot attain absolute certainty of knowlege, and that he must acquire his ideas in a manner different from the 9



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