FIRST EPILOGUE: 1813 - 20
1. CHAPTER I
Seven years had passed. The storm-tossed sea of European history had
subsided within its shores and seemed to have become calm. But the
mysterious forces that move humanity (mysterious because the laws of
their motion are unknown to us) continued to operate.
Though the surface of the sea of history seemed motionless, the
movement of humanity went on as unceasingly as the flow of time.
Various groups of people formed and dissolved, the coming formation
and dissolution of kingdoms and displacement of peoples was in
course of preparation.
The sea of history was not driven spasmodically from shore to
shore as previously. It was seething in its depths. Historic figures
were not borne by the waves from one shore to another as before.
They now seemed to rotate on one spot. The historical figures at the
head of armies, who formerly reflected the movement of the masses by
ordering wars, campaigns, and battles, now reflected the restless
movement by political and diplomatic combinations, laws, and treaties.
The historians call this activity of the historical figures "the
In dealing with this period they sternly condemn the historical
personages who, in their opinion, caused what they describe as the
reaction. All the well-known people of that period, from Alexander and
Napoleon to Madame de Stael, Photius, Schelling, Fichte,
Chateaubriand, and the rest, pass before their stern judgment seat and
are acquitted or condemned according to whether they conduced to
progress or to reaction.
According to their accounts a reaction took place at that time in
Russia also, and the chief culprit was Alexander I, the same man who
according to them was the chief cause of the liberal movement at the
commencement of his reign, being the savior of Russia.
There is no one in Russian literature now, from schoolboy essayist
to learned historian, who does not throw his little stone at Alexander
for things he did wrong at this period of his reign.
"He ought to have acted in this way and in that way. In this case he
did well and in that case badly. He behaved admirably at the beginning
of his reign and during 1812, but acted badly by giving a constitution
to Poland, forming the Holy Alliance, entrusting power to Arakcheev,
favoring Golitsyn and mysticism, and afterwards Shishkov and
Photius. He also acted badly by concerning himself with the active
army and disbanding the Semenov regiment."