Thefirst important intellectual influence in Michael’s life came from a young man, less than a year his senior, named Nicholas Stankevich. Stankevich was, like Michael, the eldest son of a landowner. His contemporaries bear unanimous witness to his almost saint-like character and to the quickness and subtlety of his brain. A surviving photograph portrays the finely-chiselled rather feminine features, the flowing black hair, and the dark piercing eyes, which so fascinated those who knew him. He lacked the obvious qualities of leadership, possessing neither strength of body nor strength of will. But these deficiencies constituted part of his charm. Like most weak men he had an immense need of the sympathy of others and an immense capacity to inspire it; and by a rarer combination of gifts, his capacity to feel sympathy for others was not less great. Men and women fell irresistibly in love with him. In his short life he is not known to have had an enemy. His importance in Russian history, and in the biography of Michael Bakunin, is twofold. He was the first noteworthy Russian romantic; and he was the bold pioneer who opened to Russian thought the vast and fertile continent of German metaphysics.1
KeywordsRomantic Love German Philosophy Feminine Feature Russian History Obvious Quality
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