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organ, Free Russia, shows how much they have moderated their demands. If the young Emperor would only consent to the introduction of some kind of representative Assembly, such as all European nations have, and as even the Sultan had adopted shortly before Turkey was beaten down by the armies of Alexander II., the reigning Czar would rally round him many who are at present his adversaries in what is believed to be the camp of the most extreme party.
I first met Stepniak years ago at the house of an English colonel. His profession of political faith then was that of a Republican, with strong Socialist tendencies. “Stepniak," meaning Son of the Steppe, was an assumed author's or penname. His real name was Kravtschinsky. He had, no doubt, dropped it on account of his former marked antecedents in what was usually called the “Nihilistic” propaganda.
That word, it may at once be explained, is a somewhat misleading one. It was conferred at first as a nickname. Afterwards it was adopted in a kind of dare-devil mood. It has covered ever since a great many varieties of political and social discontent, as well as of philosophical radicalism. There were “ Nihilists” who, from the sheer hopelessness engendered by a tyranny lasting a thousand years, had come to cultivate a philosophy of despair, of disgust, and of destruction, without troubling themselves as to the constitution of the future. These were men that professed a wish to do away with all state organizations for the sake of a morbid individualism-in other words, anarchists. Others there were and are who inclined towards a socialist collectivism in a rather Utopian form. To these latter the name of Nihilist is certainly not applicable. But even men who would have been satisfied with a simple democratic-nay, with a representativeform of government under a kingly head, have often been most ignorantly dubbed Nihilists, simply because they were the resolute foes of autocratic Czardom.
On this point, Stepniak, who was personally in friendly relations with upholders of the Anarchist doctrine, such as Réclus, Krapotkin, and Malatesta, but who was far from sharing their views, wrote about two years ago :
“ The so-called Nihilists are not Anarchists. Anarchy died in Russia as long ago as 1874 and was practically buried in 1877. For the last seventeen years there has not been a line published in the Anarchist interest by our
clandestine press ; not a declaration of Anarchist views has been made at any of the numerous political trials; not a single manifestation of the existence of that party has occurred within the dominions of the Czar. There are a few Russians who hold Anarchist opinions, but they either keep quiet or come abroad to join the international movement, for there is no field for their activity in their own country. The Russian people are struggling to obtain a constitutional government, a national parliament, representa tive institutions."
For years Stepniak had repeatedly been one of the speakers on the platforms of London Socialists, who, it need not be said, are also opponents of Anarchism. Latterly, he became more and more moderate in his ideas and aims, so much so that his socialist friends occasionally were rather sore about it. In an interview with him he declared that it would be madness now to strike a blow in the old sense of the party of action. All efforts should be concentrated on getting a legislative assembly. When asked about details of the scheme he avowed that one would have to be content if a Chamber of Deputies were formed on the basis of household suffrage. When he was further asked : “But certainly you would not have an Upper House ?” he answered : “ Assuredly, we shall have one. At least, that is very possible !”
His interviewer, putting a question as to whether hereditary legislators were meant for the Upper House, Stepniak replied that there were “no men in Russia capable of being such authorities.” There were large landowners, but no aristocracy possessing the same influence on the masses as in the United Kingdom. “We must, therefore, do as best we can with a Senate on the American model.” To the question as to whether he would entrust the government of Russia to these two Chambers, he replied : Russia were as small as Great Britain, we would do so. But Russia is so large that its government must be a Federal one." In other words, he believed in the necessity of a number of Legislatures. At the same time, he distinctly acknowledged that in so compact and homogeneous a state as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland no home rule was required.
Shortly before his sudden death, Stepniak would have been satisfied with a Chamber possessing only a “consultative voice.” I have gone into these details because among all Russian exiles he was the most prominent and the most active with his pen. His later views seemed to pave the way to a junction of liberal, democratic, and socialist forces. Up till then they were much
estranged from each other, though all of them aimed at the abolition of the dreary system of oppression under which the more educated classes groan, and which prevents the intellectual standard of the peasantry—the immense mass of the Russian nationbeing raised from its degraded condition.
The present time would certainly seem to be the psychological moment for a young monarch to lift the "intelligence" of the country—as the Russian phrase is for the best progressive element of the population-from the Slough of Despond into which it has fallen through hopes of amelioration being ever deferred. In the interest of the personal security of the wearer of the crown himself, it would be advisable to satisfy and quiet those aspirations by admitting their upholders to a share in the government. In a palace revolution Paul I., the mad tyrant, was battered down and strangled. During the reign of his son, Alexander I., who at first was expected to introduce constitutional rule, dangerous conspiracies became rife after it had been seen that he, too, continued the absolutistic system. Nicholas I. had to wade to the throne through blood in 1825, when the capital, as well as some parts of the South, had become the scene of military and popular risings in favor of a constitution. The very existence of the dynasty was, at that time, for several days in grave peril. Towards the conclusion of the Crimean war, Nicholas I. died in a somewhat mysterious manner. No sooner was his life extinct than in a number of Provincial Assemblies there were mutterings and even resolutions which Alexander II. would have done well not to ignore. He did ignore them. The end was that he, who had too long played fast and loose with those who had hoped for a constitution, was torn to pieces by a dynamite bomb. The ghastly event occurred on the very eve (that is, at any rate, the semi-official version) of his intended promulgation of a parliamentary scheme. His son, Alexander III., had practically to live the life of a prisoner, mostly at Gatshina, surrounded by every possible appliance for warding off the approach of assassins. When he ventured away, the railway lines being guarded all along by troops, he yet had to fear and to experience attempts at underground explosions. His life and his consort's life were in one instance most narrowly saved, but not without deep shock to the nervous systems of both. Might not all this have served as a lesson?
As yet it has not. More than a year and a half has Nicholas II. reigned, and no improvement of any importance is visible even in matters not affecting the the autocratic tenure of power. As a Crown Prince he was believed to have a leaning towards progressive ideas, an attitude frequently assumed by heirs-apparent, and to be friendly towards Germany, in opposition to the policy of his father and mother. It was also bruited about that, on account of his former relations with a Polish lady, he would, on his accession, make notable concessions to the Poles and stop religious persecution. In the Baltic Provinces and in Finland it was thought that he would cease continuing those violent measures of Russification against his German and Finnish subjects, which his father had introduced.
None of these hopes was realized. Things went on as usual, or even in a worse manner. The very name of Dorpat—a German name—was taken away from the ancient Baltic town and university, and replaced by the Russian name of “ Jurjew.” Its university is being Russianized in its teaching staff, to the disgust of both professors and students. In religious affairs the influence of the hated reactionist, Mr. Pobedoniestcheff, remained paramount. Even the treatment of the Jews, which had aroused the indignation of the whole civilized world, at the time of Alexander III., was not altered very much for the better. When a summons was addressed to the representatives of the various religions to come to Moscow for the coronation ceremony, not only the Christian Churches, but also the Mohammedan and some pagan creeds, were included, but the Jews were pointedly left out. It is true this was also so under previous Czars. Only at the last moment, after bitter and satirical remarks had appeared in many foreign papers, this arrangement, by which more than five millions of the Czar's subjects were designedly insulted, was amended in the present case.
Immediately after the accession of Nicholas II., I had a personal experience of the mistrust which, in spite of the more liberal reputation that surrounded his name, existed as to the character of the coming reign. I had made an inquiry, shortly before the death of Alexander III., with regard to the supposed inclinations of his heir. My correspondent, living in a part of the empire which possesses special and somewhat freer institutions than the rest of it, sent me an extensive account—by no means of an unfavorable but rather of a moderately hopeful nature. When reading it I was somewhat puzzled at first. The whole was drawn up in such a way as to give the idea of the subject treated having not the slightest reference to political and imperial affairs, but rather to those of some private individual. However, not being unused to this sort of correspondence from olden times, I soon discovered the real meaning of the strange missive. Further news has been conveyed to me since, in the same extraordinary garb, but its contents gradually grew less and less hopeful as to the new ruler having any really liberal measures in view.
The Czar's manifesto, dealing with the remission of taxes and the mitigation of sentences pronounced upon prisoners or refugees convicted of common crimes or political deeds, has disappointed even those who had not indulged in over-great hopes. Measures of amnesty are always proclaimed at the accession or the coronation of a monarch. In the present instance the quality of mercy is exceedingly strained. The decree still leaves the political sufferers in Siberia—the victims, in many cases, of sheer administrative arbitrariness—in a most cruel condition. It does not make it possible for any noted Russian exile to return to his fatherland.
This forms å bad outlook. Such as human nature is, one cannot help thinking that, in course of time, the anger aroused by this merciless continuation of the old government practices and by the destruction of all hopes as regards the establishment of some kind of representative institutions, however moderate, will once more lead to violent acts of revenge and intimidation.
In foreign affairs the prospect is not more pleasing. The young Czar, when a Crown Prince, was supposed to entertain feelings of friendship for Germany. Since then he has married a German Princess. Yet the relations with France, which had been heralded in by the naval demonstrations at Cronstadt and Toulon, are still supposed to be such under his reign as to imbue the preachers of “revenge" at Paris with the idea that some day or other they might co-operate with the once hated Cossack. This certainly does not make for peace, nor, truth to say, for the security of the Republic. Men like Gambetta, in whom the Cæsarean vein was so strong, or General Boulanger, who was so near getting into supreme power, will always come up if the