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Marquis de Custine
1790 - 1857

French travel writer, author of La Russie en 1839 (also published in English as A Journey for Our Time) in which he carefully and famously described a pre-revolutionary Russia that was overburdened with bureacracy, consumed with process and rules, constraining of the freedom of its citizens, and a profoundly unhappy country.


A multitude of little superfluous precautions engender here a population of deputies and sub-officials, each of whom acquits himself with an air of importance and a rigorous precision, which seemed to say, though everything is done with much silence, "Make way, I am one of the members of the grand machine of state."

1839 - from La Russie en 1839
In Russian administration, minuteness does not exclude disorder. Much trouble is taken to attain unimportant ends, and those employed believe they can never do enough to show their zeal. The result is...that having passed through one formality does not secure the stranger from another.

1839 - from La Russie en 1839
In Russia, whatever be the appearance of things, violence and arbitrary rule is at the bottom of them all. Tyranny rendered calm by the influence of terror is the only kind of happiness which this government is able to afford its people.

1839 - from La Russie en 1839
Despotism is never so much to be feared as when it claims to be doing good, for then it considers that its good intentions can excuse its most revolting acts; and the evil inflicted as a remedy knows no bounds.

1839 - from La Russie en 1839