The Fugitives

The suffering of a people nourishes the spirit of rebellion, enabling

it to come to birth and to survive. There are some religious sects

based exclusively upon popular discontent. The _biegouny_, or

Fugitives, did nothing but flee from one district to another. They

wandered throughout Russia with no thought of home or shelter. Those

who joined the sect destroyed their passports, which were considered a

work of Sata
, and adopted a belief in the Satanic origin of the State,

the Church and the Law. They repudiated the institution of marriage,

the payment of taxes, and all submission to authority. Their special

imagery included, among other things, the devil offering a candle to

the Tsar, and inviting him to become the agent for Satanic work upon

earth. Sometimes their feelings led them to commit acts of violence;

one, for instance, would interrupt divine service; another would strike

the priest. A peasant named Samarin threw himself upon the priest in a

Russian church, forced him away from the altar, and, having trampled

the Holy Sacraments under foot, cried out, "I tread upon the work of


When arrested and condemned to penal servitude for life, Samarin was in

despair because the death sentence had not been passed, so sure was he

that he would have gone straight to heaven as a reward for his heroic