- Project Runeberg -  Impressions of Russia /
148

(1889) [MARC] Author: Georg Brandes Translator: Samuel Coffin Eastman - Tema: Russia
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occupants, in spite of my protest, were turned out and placed
elsewhere. “You need not say anything against it,” said
the station-master to me. “You may be sure that there is
not one of them who has paid for his ticket.” I inquired
of some of the bystanders, and it appeared that such
was the fact. Thus, on this occasion, the higher patronage
did not violate other privileges than those which
were acquired by the exercise of inferior authority.
Another favorite subject for attack with Shchedrin is the
system of bribery, which flourishes in consequence of
the low intellectual standpoint and poor pay of the
officials. That these men are stupid and servile is chiefly
because, as a rule, they must rise in the service from the
lower ranks. They are frequently invalids when they
approach towards power and influence. As the phrase
goes, “My uncle, the general, had a fit of apoplexy, so
he became a senator; he lost his sight, and then he wras
made a member of the council of the empire. If he can
only have a new accident he will die as minister.” Bribery
naturally has its root in the fact that the salaries are
so low. They regard the drink money which is given to
the officials about as we do the honorarium which is
given to the clergy, although the latter also have their
salaries from the State. The worst of it is that the
relation of the officials to the treasury of the State is often
so untrustworthy. From that comes the Russian proverb,
“All steal, except Christ,” with the blasphemous
addition, “and he would if his hands were not nailed to
the cross.” Or this proverb, “If you are going to talk
to an official, you must talk rubles to him.” All these
customs have one good side, that the officials, just because
of their lax morals, sell the common people an otherwise
unattainable freedom: tolerance, impunity for the innocent,
and free passage for men and books. But it will

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