Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub
[ocr errors]

their eyes-perhaps because the founder dents' uniform-have become the sig ne of modern theoretical Communism had de ralliement. Almost all the professors, included operatic representations in his and many officers, take the part of the phalanstère programme. Perhaps the students. The newspaper critics openmost curious part of this curious phe- ly defend their colleagues. Mikhaïlof nomenon was the prominence of the has been convicted of writing, printing, female element in all the demonstrations. and circulating one of the most violent When the students held meetings against proclamations that ever existed, under the orders of the authorities, ladies in the title of, “To the young generation.' short hair and blue spectacles were gen- Among the students and the littérateurs erally among the orators.

there is unquestionably an organized Let it be distinctly understood that I conspiracy, which has perhaps leaders am describing not the Nihilists but sim- outside the literary circle. The Polish ply the popular conception of them. students have not yet spoken out in this Some of their friends have assured me movement, but they are so self-confident that this conception is radically false. that the police are powerless. According to these authorities there They arrest any one they can lay their never were any Nihilists. The people hands on.

on. About eighty people have to whom this name was applied were been already sent to the fortress and have simply students (who desired beneficent been examined, but all this leads to no liberal reforms. The peculiarities in practical result, because the revolutionary their costume arose merely from a laud- ideas have taken possession of all classes, able neglect of trivialities in view of all ages, all professions, and are publicly graver interests. However this may be expressed in the streets, in the barracks, --and I do not pretend at present to de- and in the ministries! I believe the cide the question-many people were police itself is carried away by them. alarmed, and the reaction was prepared What all this will lead to it is difficult to in consequence. To illustrate this, I predict. I am very much afraid of some may quote here part of an unpublished bloody catastrophe. Even if it should letter, written in October, 1861, by a not go to such a length immediately, the man who now occupies one of the high- position of the Government will be exest positions in the Administration. At tremely difficult. Its authority is shakthat time he was regarded as ultra-li- en, and all are convinced that it is powerberal, and consequently we may assume less, stupid, and incapable. On that that, relatively speaking, he did not take point there is the most perfect unanima very alarmist view of the situation. ity among parties of all colors, even the Here is what he says, writing to a near most opposite. The most desperate relative : “ You have not been long ab- 'Planter, agrees in that respect with sent-merely a few months; but if you the most desperate Socialist. Meanreturned now, you would be astonished while those who have the direction of by the progress which the Opposition- affairs do almost nothing, and have no one might say the Revolutionary Party plan or definite aim clearly in view. At -has already made. The disorders in present the Emperor is not in the capithe university do not relate merely to tal, and now, more than at any former the students. I see in the affair the be- time, there is complete anarchy in the ginning of serious dangers for public absence of the master of the house. tranquillity and the existing order of There is a great deal of bustle and talk, things. Young people, without distinc- and all blame they know not whom.” | tion of costume, uniform, and origin, The expected revolution did not take take part in the street demonstrations. place, but timid people had no difficulty Besides the students of the university in perceiving signs of its approach. The there are the students of other institu- press continued to disseminate under a tions, and a mass of people who are students only in name. Among these last * An epithet commonly applied, at the time are certain gentlemen in long beards of the emancipation, to the adherents of serfage and revolutionnaires in crinoline who are

and the defenders of the proprietors' rights.

† For obvious reasons I refrain from namof all the most fanatical. Blue collars ing the writer of this letter, which accidentally -the distinguishing mark of the stu- fell into my hands.

more or less disguised form ideas which scarcely distinguished between Poles and were considered dangerous. The Kolo- Russians, and liberty was supposed to kol, a Russian paper published in Lon- be a good and grand thing in Warsaw don by Herzen, and strictly prohibited as well as in St. Petersburg. But underby the Press-censure, found its way reg- neath this fair artificial growth of cosmoularly into the country, and was eagerly politan liberalism lay the volcano of naread by thousands. The youth, it was tional patriotism-dormant for the mosaid, was being corrupted by socialistic, ment, but by no means extinct. Though ideas. Young girls of respectable family the Russians are, in some respects, the had been heard to express most objec- most cosmopolitan of the European nationable views on the subject of matri- tions, they are at the same time capable mony. Not a few suspected that a great of indulging in violent outbursts of paNihilist organization had been secretly triotic fanaticism; and these two conformed for the overthrow of society; tradictory elements in their character and this suspicion found confirmation in were brought into contact by the news several great fires which broke out in St. of the Polish insurrection. The struggle Petersburg and other towns, and which was only momentary. Ere long the pawere believed to be the work of Nihilist triotic feelings burst forth, and carried incendiaries.

all before them. The Moscow Gazette Soon a new event came to strengthen thundered against the pseudo-Liberal the reactionary influences. In the be- sentimentalism which would, if unginning of 1863 the Polish insurrection checked, necessarily lead to the dismembroke out. That ill-advised attempt on berment of the empire ; and Mr. Katthe part of the Poles to recover their in- koff

, the editor of that paper, became for dependence had a curious effect on a time the most influential private indiRussian public opinion. There was at vidual in the country. A few, indeed, thet time in Russia a very large amount remained true

to

their convictions. of generous liberal sentiment, which was, Herzen, for instance, wrote in the Koloperhaps, not very deep, but was at least kol a glowing panegyric on two Russian genuine so far as it went. Both the officers who had refused to fire on the Government and the better section of insurgents, and here and there a man the educated classes were ready to grant might be found who confessed that he to Poland very considerable concessions. was ashamed of the severity displayed The Poles were to have their own admin- in Lithuania.* But such men were few, istration and almost complete autonomy, and were commonly regarded almost as under the vice-royalty of a Russian traitors. The great majority of the pubGrand Duke. Whether the scheme lic thoroughly approved of the severe would have succeeded, if the Poles had energetic measures adopted by the Govshown sufficient political tact and pa- ernment, and when the insurrection was tience, is a question that need not here suppressed, men who had a few months be discussed. Political tact and pa- previously spoken and written in magniltience are not prominent features of the oquent terms about humanitarian liberalPolish character, and certainly they were ism, joined in the ovations given to not displayed on this occasion. The Muraviéff! At a great dinner given in

administration committed some his honor, that energetic and by no grave mistakes, and the Poles appealed means too humane administrator, who had 10 arms. As the news of the rising systematically opposed the emancipation spread over Russia, there was a moment of the serfs, and had never concealed of hesitation. Those who had been for his contempt for the Liberal ideas reseveral years habitually extolling liberty cently in fashion, could ironically exand self-government as the necessary conditions of all progress, and sympathi

* I have heard, at least, two genuine, nom. sing warmly with every Liberal move

inally orthodox Russians make statements of ment, whether at home or abroad, could this kind. I must, however, in fairness add not well frown upon the political aspira- that the conceptions commonly held in Westtions of the Poles. The Liberal sen

ern Europe regarding Muraviéff and his adtiment of that time was so extremely tion of fact, in my opinion, gross exaggera

ministration are, though not without a foundaphilosophical and cosmopolitan that it tions.

new

[ocr errors]

press his satisfaction at seeing so many logy, and similar abstract subjects have new friends” around him.*

nothing to do with politics. Certainly they Still the Government, whilst repress have not much to do with each other in ing all political agitation, did not aban- this country, but in Russia it is different. don its policy of introducing reforms by This is one of the many curious and means of the autocratic power. The interesting phenomena to be found in Zemstvo, a system of local self-govern- the present intellectual condition of the ment comprising periodical elective as Russian educated classes. To explain semblies, was created, and preparations it would require at least a long article, were made for thoroughly reorganizing so I must content myself for the present the law-courts and the judicial pro- with simply indicating the explanation. cedure. But in 1866 a new event came When an Englishman undertakes the to strengthen the reactionary influence. study of any branch of natural science, A foolish, misguided youth, called Kara- he gets up his subject by means of leckózof, made an attempt on the life of tures, text-books, and museums or laborthe Emperor. The effect of such an inci- atories, and when he has mastered it he dent on his Majesty and on those who probably puts his knowledge to some surrounded him may easily be imagined. practical use. The man who has studied Report says—though I must add that I the medical sciences becomes a doctor ; have never seen the official documents the student of chemistry finds employrelating to this affair—that the would-be ment as a professor or in a factory; assassin, formerly a student, belonged to the mathematician becomes, perhaps, an a little domestic community composed of engineer. Probably none of these men two or three youths of not very satisfac- feel any desire to enter political life or tory moral character, and calling itself imagine that their previous studies have by the ill-sounding name of Ad, that is specially fitted them for such activity. to say, Hell.

In Russia it is otherwise. students This incident, in conjunction with confine their attention to their specialty. the others which I have indicated, in- Many of them dislike the laborious work duced the Government to take energetic of getting up details, and with the premeasures. It was found that the agita- sumption which is often to be found in tion proceeded in all cases from young conjunction with youth and ignorance, men who were studying, or had recently aspire to become social reformers. But studied, in the universities, the semina- what has social reform to do with naturies, and the technical schools, such as ral science? To understand the conthe Medical Academy and the Agricul- nection the reader must know that, tural Institute. Plainly, therefore, the though very few Russian students have system of education was at fault. The opened the voluminous works of Auguste semi-military system of the time of Ni- Comte, nearly all of them are more or cholas had been succeeded by one in less imbued with the principles of Posiwhich discipline had been reduced to a tivism. Now in the Positive Philosophy minimum, and the study of natural sci- the study of natural science leads to the ence formed a prominent element. Here, study of Sociology. In the classification it was thought, lay the chief root of the of the sciences proposed by Comte, Soevil. Englishmen may have some diffi- ciology is the main part of the edifice, culty in imagining a possible connec- and to it all the other sciences are subtion between natural science and revolu- sidiary. Social reorganization is thus tionary agitation. To them the two things the ultimate aim of scientific research, must seem wide as the poles asunder. and the Positivist can behold with proSurely mathematics, chemistry, physio- phetic eye Humanity organized on strict

* Count Muraviéff has left a most interest- ly scientific principles. Cool-headed peo-
ing autobiographical fragment relating to the ple who have had a little experience
history of this time, but it is not likely to be of the world recognise clearly that this
published during the life-time of the present ultimate goal of human intellectual activ-
generation. As an historical document it is ity is still afar off-that even in the
very valuable, but must be used with extreme
caution. A copy of it was for some time in

lower parts of the structure there are my possession, but I was bound by a promise still enormous gaps which it will require not to make extracts from it.

many years, and probably many genera

tions, to fill up, and that consequently it clergy, the small proprietors, and the would be folly to attempt at present to minor officials. In strong contrast to construct the higher parts. But the the romantic, sentimental, idyllic spirit would-be social reformers among the Rus- which animated the conspirators of sian students are too young, too inexperi- 1825, they declare war against romanenced, too impatient, and too presump- ticism in all its forms, despise sentimentuously self-confident to perceive this tality, and declare themselves the champlain and siinple truth. As soon as they pions of the peasantry. In aims, too, have acquired a smattering of chemis- they differ widely from the societies of try, physiology, and biology, they im- the old school. What they desire is to agine themselves capable of reorganizing produce not merely a political, but also human society, and when they have ac- a fundamental social revolution, which quired this conviction they are of course will abolish for ever all obsolete instituunfitted for that patient, plodding study tions, such as private property, marriage, of details which is the only foundation and religion, and for ever equalise rich of genuine scientific knowledge.

and poor. The overthrow of the GovTo remedy these evils the Government ernment and the annihilation of officials, determined to introduce more discipline nobles, and capitalists, form only the ininto the schools, and to supplant, to a troductory part of the programme.

Put certain extent, the study of natural sci- for the realisation of even this introducence by the classics—that is to say, tory part, great efforls are necessary. A Latin and Greek. This measure na- court conspiracy, though backed by disturally caused much discontent among affection in the army, will not suffice. the students. Young men who consid- It is necessary that the masses should be ered themselves capable of reorganizing raised from their ignorance and apathy, society and playing a political part, fret- and made to understand what a magnifited of course under discipline, and re- cent future they have before them if sented being treated as school-boys. The they would only bestir themselves. To Latin grammar seemed to them an inge- effect this, and at the same time to study nious instrument adopted by the Gov- the character of these much-talked-of ernment for the destroying of intellec- and little-understood masses, intelligent tual development and the checking of Young Russia must enter for a time the political progress. Ingenious specula- ranks of the people (idti v naród). tions about the possible organization of Perhaps the best way of conveying an the working classes and magnificent idea of this peculiar movement is to deviews of the future of humanity, are so scribe briefly the society which has most much pleasanter than the irregular verbs recently attracted public attention. and rules of syntax.

In April, 1875, a peasant, who was at But I must refrain from going deeper the same time a factory-worker, informed into this interesting subject. These few the police that certain persons were distrithreads in the tangled web of Russian buting revolutionary pamphlets among social history during the present reign the people of the factory where he was emwill, I hope, 'enable the reader in some ployed, and as a proof of what he said he measure to understand how the soil was

produced some pamphlets which he had prepared for the growth of secret socie- himself received. This led to an investies, differing widely in character and tigation, by which it was found that a aim from those which flourished in the number of young men and women, evitime of Alexander I. The contrast be- dently belonging to the educated classes, tween the two groups is very striking. were employed as common laborers in In the time of Alexander I, the members several factories, and were disseminating of the secret societies were all, or nearly revolutionary ideas by means of pamall, young men of good family, and very phlets and conversation. Arrests folmany of them belonged to the jeunesse lowed, and it was soon discovered that dorée of the period. The societies which these agitators belonged to a large secret have recently appeared are composed association, which had its centre in Mosof very different elements. They are cow and local branches in Ivanovo, violently anti-aristocratic, and draw their Tula, and Kief. In Ivanovo, for inrecruits chiefly from the sons of the stance-a manufacturing town about

or

one hundred miles to the north-east of there should exist among the members Moscow-the police found a room inha- absolute equality, complete mutual rebited by three young men and four sponsibility, and full confidence and young women, all of whom, though be- openness with regard to the affairs of the longing to the educated classes, had the organization. Among the conditions of appearance of ordinary factory-workers, admission, we find that the candidate prepared their own food, did with their should be willing to devote himself enown hands all the domestic work, and tirely to revolutionary activity ; that he sought to avoid everything that could should be ready to cut all ties, whether distinguish them from the laboring pop- of love or of friendship, for the good ulation. In the room were found two cause; that he should possess great hundred and forty-five copies of revolu- powers of self-sacrifice and the capacity tionary pamphlets, a considerable sum for keeping secrets; and that he should of money, a large amount of correspond- consent to become, when necessary, a ence in cipher, and several forged pass- common laborer in a factory. The deports.

sire to preserve absolute equality is well How many members the society con- illustrated by the regulations regarding tained it is impossible to say, for some the administration : the office-bearers eluded the vigilance of the police; but are not to be chosen by election, but all many were arrested, and ultimately members are to be office-bearers in turn, forty-seven were condemned. Of these, and to be changed every month. eleven were nobles, seven were sons of The ultimate aim of the society seems village priests, and the remainder be- to have been to destroy the existing solonged to the lower classes-that is to cial order and to replace it by one in say, the small officials, burghers, and which there should be no private proppeasants. The average age of the pri- erty and no distinctions of class soners was rather less than twenty-four wealth-or, as it is put in one place, “to -the oldest being thirty-six, and the found on the ruins of the social organiyoungest under seventeen! Only five zation which at present exists the empire were more than twenty-five years of age, of the working classes.” The means by and none of these five were ringleaders. which the necessary revolution is to be The female element was represented by effected, are carefully enumerated in one no less than fifteen young persons, whose of the documents seized by the authoriaverage age was under twenty-two. Two ties. Each member, it is there explainor three of these, to judge by their ed, has the greatest liberty as to the photographs, were of decidedly prepos- means, but he is to leave nothing unsessing appearance, and apparently little done to forward the cause of the revolufitted for taking an active part in whole- tion. For the guidance of the inexpesale massacres, such as the society talked rienced the following means are recomabout organizing. It would be interest- mended : simple conversation, disseminaing to inquire how it has come about tion of pamphlets, the exciting of disconthat there are in Russia young ladies of tent, the formation of organized groups, prepossessing appearance, respectable the foundation of funds and libraries. family, and considerable education, who These, taken together, constitute, in the are ready to enter upon wild sanguinary terminology of revolutionary science, enterprises which inevitably lead in the propaganda." Besides it, there should long run to the house of correction or be “ agitation.”

be “ agitation." The difference between the mines of Siberia; but I must post- propaganda and agitation, we are inpone this investigation to a more conve- formed, consists in this, that the former nient season. For the present suffice it aims at enlightening the masses regardto say that there are such young ladies ing the true nature of the revolutionary in Russia, and that several of them were cause, whilst the latter aims at exciting condemned as founders and active mem- an individual or group to direct revolubers of the society in question.

tionary activity. In time of peace "pure The character and aims of the society agitation” is to be carried on by means of are clearly depicted in the documentary organized bands, the purpose of which is and oral evidence produced at the trial. to frighten the Government and the priviAccording to the fundamental principles, leged classes; to draw away the atten

« ПредишнаНапред »