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my driver, a Cossack,with his three if given fair play, would be hard horses abreast, who had devoutly to beat. crossed himself as we turned down But it is only the expected on to the river, carefully hugged the danger or difficulty which the steep bank, and I was speculating Russian meets thus well. Left as to whether I should escape a to his own resources, the unexducking, when suddenly there was pected overwhelms him, and in a crash and a splash. The ice had the sharp struggle, where prompt given way. The sledge had fortu- action is required, he is easily nately immediately touched bottom worsted, unless thoroughly well by the bank, and was safe enough, led. If you strike a Russian unalthough water welled in on the expectedly, you may follow up the near side. The near horse was blow, and probably overcome him, struggling, almost out of his depth, before he has realised what you in broken ice and water. The off are at. It is not cowardice that ho had been thrown on his side ails him, it is simply bewilderment. by the shock, and could not recover It is a fact that every night-sortie his feet on the slippery shelving of the Tekkes from Geok Tepe was bank. The centre horse alone was completely successful, and that the standing all right, but up to his Russians really suffered a successhoulders in water. Without any sion of defeats. The Tekkes, howfuss, the driver quietly divested ever, did not realise their successhimself of his sheepskin and gloves, es, and neglected to follow them and suggesting that I should occupy up. The Russians were beaten, myself in extricating the off horse, but not panic-stricken ; and Skohe himself promptly plunged into boleff, who thoroughly understood the water, and undertook the diffi- the position, rapidly restored orcult operation of freeing the plung- der when the Tekkes retired into ing and frightened near horse. This their fortress, and on the morrow in course of time, and with much he invariably proceeded with his perseverance, he accomplished, and intrenching operations as if nothbrought the poor beast up on to ing had happened. the bank. Then came the heavy In all my wanderings among the task of dragging the sledge, with Russian people I cannot call to the assistance of one horse, out of mind a single instance of real the water, and over rough stones cowardice displayed ; but, on the and rocks, to the nearest piece of other hand, I cannot remember an sound ice; and lastly, and perhaps instance of danger being courted most trying of all, the process of from a love of adventure or a reharnessing. Every wetted buckle, spirit of daring. Élan and initiastrap, and cord was frozen hard, tive are unknown qualities among and had to be thawed by the hands, the peasantry, and are therefore or the warmth of the body, before non-existent in the army. From it could be used, and this when the his earliest childhood the moujik is weather was bitterly cold, and the accustomed to hardships, against unfortunate driver wet through. which complaint is useless. His But not for one moment did he life is monotonous in the extreme ; lose his patience and temper ; and but dangers and difficulties have when, some three-quarters of an continually to be faced in his ordihour after the first mishap, we nary avocations, and to secure his were again driving forward, I felt daily subsistence. It is almost that I had learned a valuable les- impossible to arouse in him a feelson, and that the Russian soldier, ing of enthusiasm ; what he does, he does with an idea of the neces- ing threepence a-day is stopped sity of earning his bread, or of out of the men's pay, to form a submitting to a superior. But mess fund, out of which they supwhen a Skoboleff, who he feels ply themselves with such extras. is his master, but who calls him The difference in the fare of the his brother, mounted on his famous two armies is sufficiently strikwhite charger, courts death by his ing; and the thought immediately side, with proud indifference to arises, how could the multifarious the crashing storm of bullets, then wants of Englishmen have been at last a sentiment is aroused, supplied in the snowy passes of which makes the peasant-soldier the Balkans? or how would the wellnigh irresistible.
British soldier have worked on The simplicity of diet to which Russian rations ? The weight of the Russian is accustomed gives the English daily ration is about him a great advantage in endur- 3} lb. ; that of the Russian is ing the privations of a campaign. about 2 lb. Every Russian regiWhere an Englishman would be ment has on hand eight days' suphalf-starved, the Russian finds his ply of biscuits, which is renewed rations sufficient. According to once a-month; when marching, five the • Armed Strength of Russia,' days' supply is carried with the the men receive a mess allowance regimental waggons, and three which is calculated to give them days' allowance by the men them} lb. of meat on 196 days of the selves. What a relief it would be year. The remaining 169 days to the cares of an English general are observed as fasts according to if his commissariat arrangements the rules of the Greek Church! could be thus simplified ! In addition, about 2 lb. of flour, It may be asked, if the Russian which the men bake into bread soldier's diet is so scanty, how is it for themselves, or 1 lb. 13 oz. of that his physique is so good? The biscuits, is issued per man, and answer is twofold. In the first to this is added 47 oz. of groats, place, it must be observed that * oz. salt, and for every 100 men although the Russian's daily rain jo oz. tea, and 2 lb. 31 oz. of tion consists mainly of bread, it sugar.
is a highly nutritious black bread As against this, the daily field which is eaten, and not the comration of the British soldier is 1 lb. paratively poor white stuff which of meat, ii lb. bread or 1 lb. bis- pleases the Englishman. Secondly, cuit, } oz. coffee, oz. tea, 2 oz. the idea that the average Russian sugar, and 1 oz. salt; and when soldier is a fine man is incorrect. hard work is being done, another The Guards, as seen at St Peters1 lb. meat is added if possible, and burg and Warsaw, are specially it is also usual to serve out 2 oz. selected, and are very fine men, and compressed vegetables, or 4 oz. pre- so are the Don Cossacks; but the served potatoes.
At home, gro- general standard is inferior to the ceries and vegetables are not issued English. The · Armed Strength of as rations; but a sum not exceed- Russia' gives the following table :Out of 214,133 men
32,381 were under 5 feet 1% inches.
5 feet 3 inches“ 5 feet 44 inches.
Ś feet 48 inches “ 5 feet 6% inches. 24,432 were over 5 feet 6% inches.
Thus the average height of the of the empire on the same occasion Russian soldier may be taken to only 151 deserters were recorded. be about 5 feet 4 inches, showing This extraordinary disproportion that he is in reality a small man. is probably due to the fact that
As classifying the recruits, the the Jews alone can, as a rule, manfollowing figures, also drawn from age to desert with safety. They the Intelligence Department's com- inhabit the border provinces of the pilation, are of special interest. west ; they have relations among Among 215,621 men there were, their co-religionists on both sides according to nationality, 162,423 of the frontier; they speak both Russians, 14,886 Poles, 5953 Russian and German; and they Lithuanians, 8441 Jews, 4107 Tar- are constantly passing to and fro tars, and 19,811 Letts, Germans, with false passports. Escape is and other races.
These figures are for them comparatively easy. a remarkable refutation of the idea, Service in the Russian army, so often and erroneously enter- though still dreaded, is no longer tained, that the Russian nation the terrible punishment that it was is practically one people; and when the term was for life, and further, it is to be noted that when the ill-conditioned peasant Jews are never admitted into the was condemned by
the village fortress artillery, local detach- council to join the army, and ments, or the navy, and that re- the disobedient serf was similarly cruits from the Baltic and Polish treated by an angry master. The provinces are specially distributed ordinary duration of service is now in the proportion of 20 per cent fifteen years, of which six are to 80 per cent of Russians in passed with the colours and nine an ordinary line regiment. It is in the reserve; but there are many probable that the proportion offici- exceptions, special privileges being ally tabulated as Russians is exag- granted to educated men. Even gerated, as it is a rule in Russian the peasant, possessor of a certifiofficial returns to pay more atten- cate from one of the primary tion to religion than to race; and schools that he can both read and thus a Lithuanian who had been write, is allowed to reduce his bullied or cajoled into joining the term with the colours by two orthodox Greek Church, would years.
Still the conscription is almost certainly be set down as felt as most irksome. The recruit a Russian. The figures actually is taken away for six of the best given show, according to religion, years of his life, during which time 166,693 orthodox Greek Church, he not only contributes nothing to 2100 Russian Dissenters, 23,627 the family income, but the family Roman Catholics, 7360 Lutherans, are obliged to send him money, if 8440 Jews, 6709 Mohammedans, he is to enjoy the commonest and 399 heathens, and 273 sundry almost necessary comforts. I well creeds. Of the races and faiths remember the bitter grief of a serenumerated, the Jews appear to vant-lad of my own, who had been offer by far the most unsatisfactory counting on getting a very necesrecruits. In 1885, out of 17,014 sary pair of boots for the new Jews called upon to draw lots year, when his father made him for conscription, 38.8 per cent did hand over every halfpenny he posnot appear, and of those actually sessed, because a brother had been drawn 2349 were reported as de- drawn as a conscript. serters, For the whole of the rest The drawing of a recruit is indeed a serious family calamity, for sumably out of sympathy, by half in Russia peasant - proprietorship the women assembled. The extrahas, since the emancipation of the ordinary scene of a market-place serfs, become a most burdensome crammed with
peasant women and unprofitable reality. Agricul- standing about crying and wailing tural labour for wages cannot be and sobbing the livelong day, is procured by the peasant proprie- one of the most distressing spector. His land must be tilled by tacles I have ever witnessed. the exertions of his own family. As regards Russian officers, their The loss of a pair of sirong hands merits as a body cannot, unfortuand arms is immediately and se. nately, be considered equal to those verely felt, and there is no reduc- of the men whom they command. tion in the rent collected by the The Russian nation, considered State in the form of taxes. To generally, consist of
two help to meet the difficulty, a most classes - the peasantry and the cruel custom prevails. When the nobility. Civilisation has not yet lad of twenty is drawn as a soldier, had time to form an important his parents frequently force him middle-class, still less to form immediately to marry. The young such an upper middle class as prowoman is chosen chiefly for her vides the mass of officers for the working capacities; and when, English and German armies. The after a few weeks' married life, nobility furnishes officers for the her husband leaves her to serve Guards; the mass of the army is his term of years, and perhaps officered by men in whom a supernever to return, the girl is driven ficial civilisation has destroyed by her father-in-law to take the many of the primitive noble qualabsent son's place in the hardest ities to be found in the peasant of field labour. Thus in 1885 soldiery, but who have acquired 29 per
cent of the recruits no solid compensating virtues. In were married, and 67,046 girls, one respect, and in one respect their wives, were condemned to only, are such men worthy of the wait years for the return of a hus- soldiers whom they are called upon band whose love they had probably to lead. They are absolutely carenever won, and to pass the term less of death. They are, unfortuof his absence in a condition of nately, equally careless of their practical slavery, the ill - used duties and of the lives and well. drudges of pitiless fathers and being of their men. They have a mothers in law. It is a sad con- high sense of the value of their dition of affairs, and it is naturally rank, as entitling them to claim not conducive to village morality. the obsequious subservance of inThe drawing and the departure of feriors and of civilians generally. the recruits are always signalised Military custom allows them to by the most extraordinary demon- draw the sword with impunity on strations of grief. The families any unfortunate and defenceless accompany the young men to the civilian who may have chanced to district town, and stand about all insult them; and many sad tales day outside the recruiting office, can be told, of what Englishmen and as each unfortunate lad ap- cannot but consider as cold blooded pears who has drawn a number murders, where the victims were obliging him to serve, terrible civilians who had resisted the inhowls are set up, not only by the tolerable self-assertion of quarrelwomen of his own family, but, pre- some officers. This keen sense of the dignity of military rank is, would be little hesitation in satishowever, unaccompanied by the fying an exacting commander by corresponding feeling of responsi- presenting a report to meet the bility which such rank should en- occasion. The rules of the service tail. The Russian officer, in full as regards all duties are strict uniform, is not ashamed to pub- enough; it is a sense of conscienlicly frequent the lowest haunts tious responsibility which is wantof vice in St Petersburg and ing. An officer “on guard” is exMoscow, or to behave in public pected, during his twenty - four restaurants in a manner that would hours' turn, never to take off his ensure the expulsion of civilians. greatcoat, his belts, or his arms. He dares the police, knowing that I have seen an officer “on guard” they cannot arrest him; and, in- playing billiards in a heated room, deed, were he not as a rule a good- and walking round and round with natured fellow, he would make life sword and revolver, and buttoned unbearable to the civilians around up to the throat. His duty did him.
not permit him to unbuckle a single Skoboleff, who had the greatest strap. By - and - by some jovial faith in the Russian army, and comrades arrived, bent on a sledghonestly believed that it was a ing - party; and after some litmatch for the Germans, whom he tle expostulation, he accompanied longed to meet, used to admit, them, leaving a hasty message to nevertheless, that his one source try and find somebody or other to of anxiety was the untrustworthi- answer for him till. he should reness of his officers. As he said, a turn—which, of course, he said, general in the field is dependent would be very shortly. This ocon the faithful execution of his curred in time of peace; but simiorders, at all events to the utmostlar neglect of duty would not be ability of his officers; and he knew wanting in war-time, and then the that not only could he not trust consequences might be seriousthat his orders would be always not to the defaulter, but to the faithfully executed, but that he whole army. ran the further risk that, when Appointment to the rank of they had been neglected, he might officer is either obtained by cadets be led to believe that they had from the war schools, or by nonbeen fulfilled. It is easy to under- commissioned officers of good charstand the insecurity of a com- acter, who can pass the necessary mander who receives an elaborate qualifying examination in the same account of a reconnaissance which subjects as are taught in the warhas never been made, or a report schools. Of these schools there from an outpost which has never are seven, of which the four prinbeen posted. Yet this was the cipal are in St Petersburg and class of danger which Skoboleff Moscow, and which furnish an most feared. Nothing can be more average of 400 officers annually likely to happen than that an offi- for the infantry, and 80 or go for cer, ordered on some disagreeable the cavalry. The Nicholas Genduty, should at the last moment eral Staff Academy admits every be delayed by the importunate year 70 officers, for a two years' hospitality of a comrade, and, course, to qualify by examination gradually forgetting himself, let for the general staff.' Officers who the hours slip by till too late to complete the course satisfactorily fulfil his orders; and then there secure appointments which give