THE UNDERGRADUATE STUDYING for his final examination in Russian domestic history no doubt often feels that it consisted merely of a series of futile attempts at reforming the political and social structure of the Empire. 2 Successive rulers and their ministers appear to have devoted the best of their time and energies to devising measures which, they fondly hoped, would bring some order to the "chaotic structure of the Empire" (in the words of Alexander I). So much effort was spent on drafting and implementing various reforms that no time seems to have been left: for a systematic study of the country's condition and for the working out of long-range policies. And how often does the historian put down the records of the deliberations of administrative bodies or the memoirs and letters of officials with a feeling of the complete absence of any purposefulness or continuity in the actions of the Imperial government? And while this original feeling may be qualified somewhat by subsequent analysis and research, the basic impression of the lack of direction in the tsar's administration will not be eradicated. The origin of this state of affairs is not hard to see.