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Meaning of “Scratch A Russian And Find A Tartar” phrase of Idiom, definition and synonyms use in sentence.

Scratch A Russian And Find A Tartar

“Scratch the Russian, you’ll find the Cossack.”

This saying is attributed to Napoleon I, and means that, underneath the veneer, or coating, of civilisation, is barbarism in all its primitive rudeness.

Russia has ever been the target of the cynic politician; the accusation, implicit or explicit, being that Russians are a people with only a pretence or semblance of civilisation; in other words, hypocritical and double-dealing and, therefore, not to be trusted. Political cartoonists used to depict the Russian bear as a treacherous animal, which needed very careful watching. Joseph Chamberlain, a man with a tongue like a rapier, once publicly said of the Russians: “Who sups with the Devil must have a long spoon.” (Speech at Birmingham, May 13, 1898.) As a community, indeed, Russia was considered to be unfit to be in the comity of nations.

Of how, many men and women, of how many other nations, might not our phrase be used with equal truth? All are tarred with the same brush. Man still suspects his neighbours: even seeks to destroy them on the least pretext or provocation. Just as man has covered his body, at one time with woad, at another with silk and velvet, so has he covered his vices with an inlay of pseudo-religion, and his shame with the gold leaf of elegance and respectability. Scratch him, and his nakedness is revealed in all its primitive ugliness. Scratch the paint and powder from the r face of the “street,” or parlour, “beauty,” and you may find the visage of an ogress. Scratch the savant, and you may find the savage.

“Truth,” on the contrary, “is impossible to be soiled by any outward touch, as the sunbeam” (Milton); for “Truth is Beauty,” and like pure gold, both are impervious to any acid test. Free from all veneer, they are genuine throughout.


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