Masons at the end of the Nicholas era

However, during his lifetime, Sergey Uvarov was famous not only for these three words. What else? About this - in today's article, based on the material of the transfer of "Brothers" radio station "Echo of Moscow". The broadcast was conducted by Nargiz Asadova and Leonid Matsikh. Fully read and listen to the original interview can be on the link.

The main creators and conductors of Nicholas I’s policy, which for some reason are considered reactionary, were the Freemasons: his favorite Alexander Benkendorf, the chief of gendarmes and at the same time the head of the Third Division of the Imperial Chancellery, and Leonty Dubelt, the head of the secret police. The Freemasonry of the generals did not prevent Nikolai Pavlovich at all: he was convinced that these people would not deviate from the state ideology, from the state good, he valued them as individuals with a very high level of responsibility for the violation of obligations. In general, the attitude of the emperor to the Freemasons was very different. For example, Sergei Uvarov, our today's hero, was his confidant, a confidant, perhaps one of the few people with whom Nikolai consulted and listened to.

Portrait of Uvarov by Wilhelm August Golike, 1833. (

Sergei Semenovich was in the box "Polar Star". In a sense, he was Speransky’s protege or, in corporate terms, was his man. Speransky highly appreciated Uvarov, called him one of the most educated people of Russia. And this is true. Sergei Semenovich traveled through Europe, brilliantly mastered languages, was personally acquainted with Humboldt, Madame de Stael, and many lords of the thoughts of the then Europe. These people accepted him as their outstanding student, as a budding Russian scientist. Uvarov fully justified these aspirations: he was an excellent archaeologist, an excellent orientalist, and an excellent linguist. He and the administrator turned out to be great.

In Uvarov, a striking combination of progress and innovations, on the one hand, and a sound understanding that not all innovations in a state machine are acceptable, on the other, were surprisingly combined. That is, Sergei Semyonovich understood that one must either play by the rules or not play at all. And he managed to follow the rules, made a great career. It’s not even that Uvarov was the Minister of Education, the matter is what status he gave to this institution: never, neither before him nor after, did the ministry exercise such power over minds, over budgets, over the will of the king. In addition, Sergei Semenovich was the developer of many systemic things in the state, and Emperor Nicholas really listened to him.

The famous triad was not invented by Uvarov, he repeated it. And this phrase also speaks of his internal controversy with Freemasonry: "Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité" ("freedom, equality, fraternity").

That is what Uvarov wanted, including from Freemasonry? He wanted his rethinking, his transcriptions on Russian soil. Sergei Semenovich was not at all an enemy of foreigners, by no means, it would be strange for a person personally acquainted with Humboldt, the initiator of the translation of Homer's Iliad and many other things. He wanted all the best from the western experience to be transferred to Russian soil, rethought, adapted to our conditions. Therefore, his phrase “Orthodoxy, autocracy, nationality” is nothing more than the adaptation of old Masonic ideals to Russian reality. So he understood freedom.

“Orthodoxy, not the church,” said Uvarov. In religion, he offered those depths that perhaps many of his contemporaries did not see. The old masonic dream is to discover in Christianity such things that go beyond the ordinary dialogue of the church. Sergei Semenovich suggested that this is what Orthodoxy should look for, which, in his opinion, would be true freedom.

Uvarov was a kindly thinking man. Moreover, his difference from the cabinet thinkers was that he could state his theses clearly and sensibly, convince them of those on whom they depended, and then apply them rigidly and consistently.

Portrait of Nicholas I by Vladimir Sverchkov, 1856. (

In the freemasonry of Sergei Semenovich attracted the structure, a system that just repelled many. He liked rituals, rigid structured things, bureaucratization. Actually, this was what he wanted from the ministry he headed and, more broadly, from all of Russia. Uvarov wanted to end arbitrariness, reduce the role of the individual and increase the role of structure and system. Here is how he reasoned: the Masonic Lodge exists for 200–300 years, the masters of the chair, the presidents, the heads of the boxes die, but the box continues to exist; and the "brothers", coming, find the same charter and the same principles, the same goals and objectives - the system does not depend on the individual. “How is it in Russia?” He asked. All the way around. The man died, and the entire policy of the department he headed was immediately revised. This is unwise, it should not be so.

Uvarov wanted to reduce the role of personality and increase the role of structure, and he sought this from autocracy. What did he want? Termination of despotism, curbing tyranny and clear rules of simple heritage. He told Nicholas: “You see, Your Majesty, what is happening: after Peter the Great, we have a series of revolutionary palace coups. In this sense, the Decembrists, who, of course, the villains and perjurers, are the followers of the tradition, however, like many others. Didn't Alexander have the guards officers on the throne? And Catherine the Great? All these people acted in a certain tradition. In this perniciousness and the root of evil. It should be removed. "

Uvarov convinced Nicholas to raise his son Alexander exactly as heir to the throne, as Tsarevich. As a mentor, educator, he recommended him his best friend in the unification of “Arzamas” Vasily Andreevich Zhukovsky. Not a bad choice, is it? Sergei Semenovich wanted the monarch not to have sacred powers, so that people would not turn to the king as a god, but go to him as an instance. Uvarov wanted the bureaucratization of Russia. He got her.

Ever since the days of Novikov and Gamalei, the Russian Freemasons argued: how to relate to serfdom. Hot heads, for example, Alexander Radishchev, proposed to cancel everything; protective people, such as Nikolai Karamzin, wanted to leave everything, do not touch anything; The moderates insisted on the need to slowly move on to more civilized forms of government adopted by the West. Nicholas I soberly understood that serfdom was a brake on the development of the country. Of course. But he also understood that a large ship could not be turned quickly. Where to put the landlords, where to put the money pledged in the land, what about the financial system, which has just begun to improve? The sovereign was a supporter of gradual measures. Uvarov also did not consider that serfdom was forever. Not. But he was convinced that the time for change had not yet come. You need to wait. For him, nationality is not serfdom, it is the preservation of centuries-old traditions and foundations. In this sense, he was in some way advocating inertia.

Let us say a few words about another Nikolayev-era mason, Alexander Benkendorf. He was the first to report on the so-called "Union of Welfare", a real secret society that was in Russia, to a combat general who had magnificently proved himself in wars. True, he slightly exaggerated the danger from him, but he did it very perspicaciously, and Nikolai appreciated him very much for that.

Benkendorf established a gendarmerie in Russia — a detective police with very broad functions. (Now this structure has grown to great volumes). When it was organized, Nicholas I told the general: “Here is your handkerchief. The more tears you lose, the better you will fulfill your duties. ” This then the gendarmerie became what we know it. And originally the idea was quite different - not a community of spies despised by all the informers, but an organization that would supervise order. Citizens of high consciousness came there and told themselves about all the slightest violations.

Portrait of Benkendorf. (

But back to our today's hero - Sergey Semenovich Uvarov. “In his youth, he made such speeches, for which in his old age he would put himself in a fortress,” Nikolai Ivanovich Grech said about him. At first, the writer admired the count, and then he did not like him very much. He suffered from censorship constraints, which introduced Uvarov, it seemed to him that many things are directed personally against him. So it seemed to Pushkin. But just Sergei Semenovich was the embodiment of the slogan: "Nothing personal, but there are rules that are the same for all." And each of these writers, wonderful, vulnerable souls, writers, inspired by muses, demanded a personal relationship, exclusive and elitist. Uvarov was a categorical opponent of the personal principle, therefore each of them considered him to be his personal enemy.

Yes, in the Nikolaev time many writers suffered, there was a certain clamp of writers. But do not say that the Nikolaev era is a horror, a nightmare. Data? You are welcome. It was under Nicholas I that the industrial revolution began, the transition from manufacture with manual labor to the factory. In addition, the Uvarov policy led to a tangible rise in education. The average level of education of a graduate of a Russian university has become much higher. Sergei Semyonovich standardized the requirements and criteria for school graduates, he first publicly published the reports of the Ministry of Education, introduced a new revolutionary form - scientific notes at universities, obliged universities to engage in scientific activities.

Under Uvarov, science, especially applied science, which worked on technology, has leaped forward. Sergey Semenovich was a big supporter of technical progress and technical forms of knowledge of reality.

As Minister of Education, Uvarov, as they would say today, arranged grants for the nobles who were leaving to study abroad. Thanks to him, the system of Russian education was formed. Sergey Semenovich took the German structure as a model, believing that this is the most stable order in Europe. Here he may have been mistaken.

By the way, another famous brainchild of Uvarov is the Pulkovo Observatory in St. Petersburg. We can say that this building is Masonic from all sides. First, it was built at the request of the mason Sergei Uvarov. Secondly, Alexander Bryullov, also a Freemason, was the originator of the project and the main architect of the building. And thirdly, the first director of the observatory was the freemason Vasily Struve.

Building an observatory is very difficult. Then these buildings have not erected. Special knowledge was required, which Alexander Bryullov fully possessed. Therefore, this building became a pilot, a breakthrough for the then not only urban planning science, but also for the entire Russian academic science as a whole.

And order telescopes! Can you imagine how much money it cost ?! Many reproached: “Why? Does the country have no other worries? ”But it was a contribution to fundamental science. And he did it all Uvarov, and Nikolai approved.

Pulkovo Observatory in 1855. (

Nevertheless, in the minds of many, the Nikolayev era is associated with autocratic arbitrariness. Although there was no arbitrariness, there was a law, there was a bureaucracy. As it is known, the people do not like bureaucracy, but it achieves much greater management efficiency if it does not begin to eat itself from corruption. But then this was not. A whole class of new people (notorious raznochintsy), which, when Uvarov replaced the nobility, served the state, and, if you like, the king. These people served the principle of autocracy and the principle of state stability not because they had to, like nobles owed their sovereign by feudal law, but by conscious choice. And they achieved success in life no less than the noble nobility. Uvarov helped create a new class of people in Russia.

But again, despite all the good intentions, the reign of Nicholas I was remembered as the era of "frost." “It’s like a frost,” said Herzen about the emperor. “With him, nothing will rot, but nothing will bloom.” The fact is that Nikolai Pavlovich was turned by his military successes in battles with his weak neighbors - the Hungarians and the Poles. And he missed the moment at which it was possible to carry out rearmament.

For example, when Russia fought Napoleon, the Russians and the French fought with the same weapon and suffered roughly the same losses. When the Crimean War happened, the British and French had rifled weapons, rifles, and not guns, which were not “cleaned with bricks”, as Leskovsky Lefty said. They had a steam fleet, and Russia had a sailing and rowing ship. About artillery and say nothing. And all this made the Nicholas era so disliked in the eyes of descendants.

In addition, when the gendarmes are given wide powers, this does not end well. Nikolai too believed in the omnipotence of the special services. And the special services, as we know, do not observe the law, believing that they can do anything. In this sense, Benkendorf was the complete opposite of Uvarov: Sergei Semenovich sought to have all the laws enforced, and Alexander Khristoforovich believed that this was all for the enemies.

By the way, Uvarov had a huge library - 12 thousand volumes. In this sense, he was a classic freemason. After all, the tradition of private libraries in Russia comes from the "brothers" - from Bruce and Prokopovich (the first one had 1.5 thousand books, the second one had 3 thousand). In the huge Uvarov meeting, a large proportion was occupied by Masonic writings. The count bequeathed his library to his son Alexei, and then the Rumyantsev Museum.

According to Uvarov’s criteria, the “brother” was supposed to be very educated. So believed and Speransky, and Golitsyn. Therefore, the masons paid much attention to self-improvement, which necessarily included work on self-education. That is, the "brothers" read books, and quite complex ones: philosophical, theological, and historical. If one “brother” exceeded the other by level or age, then the training was based on the principle “teacher-student”. Sometimes the masons got together and discussed some books, asked questions, and the “more knowledgeable” brothers interpreted them. In other cases, they jointly translated the works of some eminent masons. That is, there were a variety of forms of education. But self-education, "homework" was assigned a large role. There were no situations when the “brother” worked in the box, and was at home idle. Not. He had to constantly and intensely think at home over the issues that were discussed in the box.

Portrait of Leonty Dubbelt by Peter Sokolov, 1834 (

Returning to the Nicholas era, we note that under Nikolai Pavlovich, freemasonry did not flourish as much as under Alexander and Catherine. There was no such variety of lodges, new ones did not open, there were no Masonic publications, no press. And yet life went on. Libraries gathered, books were read, and sometimes, albeit in secret, the "brothers" met. The masons continued to play a huge role in the life of Russia. Although, perhaps, not the same as they have played before. Perhaps the innovation factor has been replaced by another, more consolidating, stabilizing. But the personalities themselves: Benkendorf, demonized by Soviet propaganda, and Dubelt, and especially such a powerful figure as Sergei Semenovich Uvarov - testify that the "brothers" were trying to do everything for the good of Russia. These people were not retrogrades, reactionaries and stupid, they did everything to ensure that Russia gained stability, and with it, prosperity.

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