Milyutin and the Russian Serfs
W. Bruce Lincoln reflects on how Russian statesman Nikolay Milyutin became a chief architect of great liberal reforms.
One cold morning in early January 1837, two young men, carrying all their belongings in a few small cases, made their way along the banks of the Catherine Canal in St. Petersburg. The slighter of the two, a young man with deep-set eyes and sensitive features, was in an optimistic mood. For the first time since he had come to the Russian capital just over a year before, Nikolai Alekseevich Milyutin felt that fortune had turned her face toward him.
As a provincial secretary of the lowest rank in the Economic Department of the Russian Ministry of Interior, Nikolai Milyutin had just lived through one of the most unhappy years of his life. For the past twelve months, his days had been spent in a crowded office, buried deep in the recesses of one of the dark government buildings, where he and a host of other minor officials plied their routines.