Catherine_s_Instruction - CATHERINE THE GREAT’S...

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Unformatted text preview: CATHERINE THE GREAT’S “INSTRUCTIONS” EXCERPTS Catherine II was the only intellectual ever to sit on the Russian throne. Before she issued her Instructions, of which parts appear below, she had consulted the works of the great legal authorities—Montesquieu, Beccaria, and Blackstone—from whom she borrowed liberally. The sentiments expressed in her document are quite noble, but little came of them in practice. Voltaire, who took them at face value, declared the document “the finest monument of the century.” Within four years of its appear— ance (1767), it was published in twenty-four foreign versions. France forbade the entry of the document, which was considered too radical, and later the Russian emperor, Paul forbade its circulation within Russia. ' The Memoirs 0/ Catherine the Great (paperback) , edited by Dominique Maroger, are a source of prime importance. The Memoirs of Princess Dashkow relate the vieWs of a close associate of the Empress. The Correspondence of Catherine the Great, edited by C. Ilchester, describes her contacts with Europe’s foremost minds. William Tooke’s View 0/ thevRussian Empire during the Reign of Catherine the ,Second (3 vols.) is an account by a contemporary visitor. An Account of Russia in 1767 by George Macartney was written by the British ambassador to Catherine’s Court. Some five hundred pages of diplomatic reports by British envoys covering the years 1762—69 are printed, in the original English, in Volume XII of the ~Sbornik Russkogq Istoricheskogo Obshchestva. “Beccaria in Russia,” by T. Cizova, Slavonic and East European Review, 1962, describes the great Italian jurist who influenced Catherine. Basil'Dmytryshyn analyzes “The Economic Content of the 1767 Nakaz of Catherine II,” in the American Slavic and East European Review for 1960. Soviet work on Catherine is'summarized by Leo Yaresh in “The Age of Catherine II,” Research Program on the USSR, LXXVI (1965) , 30—42. Perhaps the best monograph on Catherine is still C. P. Cooch, Catherine the Great and Other Studies. THE INSTRUCTIONS TO THE COMMISSIONERS FOR COM- POSING A NEW CODE OF LAWS ' 1. The Christian Law teaches us to- of seeing his native Country at the very do mutual Good to one another, as much as possibly we can. has taken, or ought to take Root in the Hearts of the whole People; We cannot but suppose, that every honest Man in the Community is, or will be, desirous Froi'n W. Reddaway (ed.), Documents 0/ . ' Catherine the Great (Cambridge University 2. Laying tins down as a fundamental Press, 1931), pp. 215—16, 249, 257—58, 293—94.- Rule prescribed by that Religion, which Used by permission of the publisher. 252 .noned must to th Russia ‘5' age, becau which ceni ' can act W1 :fore she to works Catherine the Creat’s “Instructions” Summit of Happiness, Glory, Safety, and Tranquillity. 3. And that every Individual Citizen in particular must wish to see himself protected by Laws, which should not distress him in his Circumstances, but, on the Contrary, should defend him from all Attempts of others, that are repugnant to this fundamental Rule. 4-. In order therefore to proceed to a speedy Execution of what We expect from .such a general Wish, We, fixing the Foundation upon the above first—men- tioned Rule, ought to begin with an In- quiry into the natural Situation of this in that Person who rules over it. It is expedient so to be, that the quick Dis- patch of Affairs, sent from distant Parts, might make ample Amends for the De- lay occasioned by the great Distance of the Places. 11. Every other Form of Government whatsoever would not only have been prejudicial to Russia, but would even have proved its entire Ruin. 12. Another Reason is: That it is bet- ter to be subject to the Laws under one Master, than to be subservient to many. 13. What is the true End of Mon- archy? Not to deprive People of their m whom to noble, declared l appear. forbade Russian natural Liberty; but to correct their Ac- tions, in order to attain the supreme Good. . . . 210. Proofs from Fact demonstrate to us, that the frequent Use of capital Pun- ishment never mended the Morals of a People. Therefore, if I prove the Death of a Citizen to be neither use/ul nOr necessary to Society in general, I shall confute those who rise up against Hu— Empire. rS. For those Laws have the greatest Conformity with Nature, whose partic- ular Regulations are best adapted to the Situation and Circumstances of the People, for whom they are instituted. . . . 6. Russia is an European State. 7. This is clearly demonstrated by the following Observations: The Altera- tions which Peter the Great undertook Vlaroger, ' ela te th e :rine the t fninds. in Russia succeeded with the greater manity. I repeat here, to Society in. gen- Tme the Ease, because the Manners, which pre- eral; because the Death of a Citizen can I Russia vailed at that Time, and had been intro- only be useful and necessary in one therine’s duced amongst us by a Mixture of dif— Case; which is,'when, though he be de- Covering ferent Nations, and the Conquest of prived of Liberty, yet has such Power I 0f the foreign Territories, were (piite unsuit-t by his Connections, as may enable him Cizova, able to the Climate. Peter the First, by to raise Disturbances dangerous to the nst who introducing the Manners and Customs publick Peace. This Case can happen tof the Review the Age Perhaps 'eat and of Europe among the European People in his Dominions, found at that Time such Means as even he himself was not sanguine enough to expect. 8. The Possessions of the Russian ‘ Empire extend upon the terrestrial Globe to 32 Degrees of Latitude, and to only, when a People either loses, or re. covers their Liberty; or in a Time of Anarchy, when the Disorders themselves hold the Place of Laws. But in 3 Reign of Peace and Tranquillity, under a GOV- ernrnent established with the united Wishes of a whole People; in a State. 3t in the 165 of Longitude. ‘ well fortified against external Enemies, 3 cannot 9. The Sovereign is absolute; for and protected within by strong Supports; Man in there is no other Authority but that that is, by its own internal Strength and virtuous Sentiments rooted in the Minds which centers in his single Person, that of the Citizens; and where the WhOIC can act with a Vigour proportionate to I ' the Extent of suchavast Dominion. Power is lodged in the Hands of a 10.,7The Extent of the Dominion re- Monarch; in such a State, there can ' quires an absoluteTPow’eiitdbé'mem—MWM desirous the very > . L, . .....4,;., lments a] University 8. 293‘94. Catherine the Creat’s “Instructions” of a Citizen. The twenty Years Reign of the Empress ELIZABETH PETROVNA gives the Fathers of the People a more illustrious Example for imitation than a Reign of the most shining Conquests. 211. It is not the Excess of Severity, nor the Destruction of the human Spe- cies, that produces a powerful Effect in the Hearts of the Citizens, but the con— tinued Duration of the Punishment. 212. The Death of a Maleiactor is not so efficacious a Method of deterring from Wickedness, as the Example continually remaining of a Man, who is deprived of his Liberty for this End, that he might repair, during a Life of Labour, the Injury he has done to the Community. The Terror of Death, excited by the Imagination, may be more strong, but has not Force enough to resist that Oblivion, so natural to Mankind. It is a general Rule, that rapid and violent Impressions on the human Mind, dis- turb and give Pain, but do \not operate long upon the Memory. . . . 264-. 0/ the Propagatiorz 0/ the hu- man Species in a State. 265. Russia is not only greatly defi- cient in the number of her Inhabitants; but at the same Time, extends her Do- minion over immense Tracts of Land; which are neither peopled nor improved. And therefore, in a Country so circum- stanced, too much Encouragement can never be given to the Propagation of the human Species; 266. The Peasants generally have twelve, fifteen, and even twenty Chil- dren by one Marriage; but it rarely happens, that one Fourth of these ever attains to the Age of Maturity. There must therefore be some Fault, either in their Nourriture, in their Way of Living, or Method of Education, which occa- 'sions this prodigious Loss, and disap- points the Hopes of the Empire. How flourishing would the State of this Em- _ pire be, if we could but ward OH, or pre- vent this fatal Evil by tions! 267. You must add to this, that two Hundred Years are now elapsed, since a Disease unknown to our Ancestors was imported from America, and hurried on the Destruction of the human Race. This Disease spreads wide its mournful and destructive Effects in many of our Prov- inces. The utmost Care ought to be taken of the Health of the Citizens. It would be highly prudent, therefore, to stop the Progress of this Disease by the LaWS. 268. Those of Moses may serve here for an Example. LEVITIC. chap. xiii. 269. It seems too, that the Method of exacting their Revenues, newly invented by the Lords, diminishes both the In- habitants, and the Spirit of Agriculture in Russia. Alrnost all the Villages are heavily taxed. The Lords, who seldom or never reside in their Villages, lay an Impost on every Head of one, two, and even five Rubles, without the least Re- gard to the Means by which their Peas- ants may be able to raise this Money. 270. It is highly necessary that the Law should prescribe a Rule to the Lords, for a more judicious Method of raising their Revenues; and oblige them to levy such a Tax, as tends least to separate the Peasant from his House and Family; this would be the Means by which Agriculture would become more extensive, and Population be more in creased in the Empire. 271. Even now some Husbandmen do not see their Houses for fifteen Years together, and yet pay the tax annually to their respective Lords; which they procure in Towns at a vast Distance_ from their Families, and wander over the whole Empire for that Purpose. . 272. The more happily a People 11V under a government, the more easily the Number of the inhabitants increas_es-.-_- 519. It is certain, that a high_Qp1 proper Regula- ', ion of the Glory and Power of the Sov- ereign, would increase the Strength of his Administration; but a good Opinion of his Love of Justice, will increase it at least as much. 520. All this will never please those Flatterers, who aredaily instilling this pernicious Maxim into all the Sover- eigns on Earth, That their People are created for them only. But We think, and esteem it Our Glory to declare, _ “That We are created for Our People; and, for this Reason, We are obliged to Speak of Things just as they ought to be. For God forbid! That, after this Legislation is finished, any Nation on Earth should be more just; and, conse- quently, should flourish more than Rus- sia; otherwise the Intention of Our Laws would be totally frustrated; an Unhap~ pinéss which I do not wish to survive. 521. All the Examples and Customs of different Nations, which are intro- duced in this Work, ought to produce no other Effect, than to co-operate in the Choice of those Means, which may render the People of Russia, humanly speaking, the most happy in themselves of any People upon Earth. 522. Nothing more remains now for the Commission to do, but to compare of these Instructions. CONCLUSION 523. Perhaps some Persons may ob- ject, after perusing theie Instructions, that they will not be intelligible to every one. To this it may be answered: It is -I J. (sit—u... .. Catherine the Creat’s “Instructions” every Part of the Laws with the Rules ' true, they will not be readily understood by every Person, after one slight Pe- rusal only; but every Person may com~ prehend these Instructions, if he reads them with Care and Attention, and se- lects occasionally such Articles as may serve to direct him, as a Rule, in what- ever he undertakes. These Instructions ought to be frequently perused, to ren- der them more familiar: And every one may be firmly assured, that they will certainly be understood; because, 524-. Assiduity and Care will conquer every Difi‘iculty; as, on the Contrary, Indolence and Carelessness will deter from every laudable Attempt. 525. To render this difficult Aflair more easy; these Instructions are‘ to be read over once, at the Beginning of every Month, in the Commission for composing the New Code of Laws, and in all the subordinate Committees, which depend upon it; particularly the respec- tive Chapters and Articles intrusted' to their Care, till the Conclusion of the Commission. 526. But as no perfect Work was ever yet composed by Man; therefore, if the Commissioners. should discover, as they proceed, that any Rule for some partic- ular Regulation has been omitted, they have Leave, in such a Case, to report it to Us, and to ask for (1 Supplement. The Original signed with Her Impe- rial Majesty’s own Hand, thus, CATHERINE. . Moscow, July 30. 1767. 255 ...
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