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man, of the name of Michayloff, was about this time exiled to the Siberian mines. His proscription raised a storm of indignation. Altogether, if we compare the banishments to Siberia under Nicholas and Alexander II., we find that of late years the number of exiles sent thither has been incessantly increasing, so that it is now four times larger than under the rule of a monarch who stands in history as the very type of unmitigated hard-heartedness.
THE Crimean war, bringing to light, as it did, the inner weakness of imperialist rule, was calculated to embolden the centrifugal tendencies among the discordant nationalities of the empire. The Baltic provinces have for some time past been looked upon as the mainstay of the Russian administration. Yet, even there, Bishop Walter, the Superintendent-General of Livonia, was heard to say, by way of reply to governmental encroachments upon local charters and privileges: "In religion we shall always remain Protestants. In politics we shall continue to be Germans." His deposition followed quickly upon the significant speech.
In Finland, which in nationality, speech, history, and culture, stands out distinctly from the bulk of the Muscovite Empire, there were signs which Government could not ignore. Toward the end of the Crimean war, Sweden-Norway had bound herself by a defensive treaty to England and France. It was considered necessary, at that time, to provide against the possibility of Russia claiming the important Norwegian harbor of Hammerfest, which lies opposite the English coast, and, though situated in the semi-Arctic region, is ice-free during winter. The news of this treaty made an impression all over the North. There was some apprehension in the councils of Alexander II. that Finland, which had been robbed by Russia of her special constitution, would gravitate back toward a connection with the Swedish Crown. The Finnic Diet was, therefore, restored. Though the autonomy thus allowed was more a name than a strong parliamentary reality, the fact itself could not but serve to bring out all the more glaringly the dead level of political slavery in Muscovy proper.
Among the Russian nobility the desire for parliamentary rule was fed by the concession to Finland. Some of the nobles wished to indemnify themselves by political privileges on the oligarchal principle for any losses that might befall them through serf emancipation. Others, of a more liberal turn of mind, wished to benefit the interests of the community at large by the introduction of full representative government. In almost all the corporations of the Russian no
bility the language held was of an unheard-of boldness.
Demands for some kind of a duma, or Parliament, were brought forward by the assembled nobiliary orders of Moscow, Smolensk, Novgorod, Pskov, Saratov, Tula, and Tver. Instead of giving simply the desired answer to the questions addressed to them on the subject of serf emancipation by the Home Secretary, Mr. Valuieff, they combined their replies with a demand for a charter. They also insisted on strict responsibility before the law of every government official; on protection for the rights of person and property through the introduction of spoken evidence in judicial proceedings, and of trial by jury, in the place of the accustomed written and clandestine forms of procedure; on the publication of a detailed budget of revenues and expenses, so as to allay the fears of a financial crisis; and on liberty of the press in the discussion of economical and administrative reforms.
At St. Petersburg an address was proposed, which, under outwardly respectful forms toward the Emperor, spoke out strongly against “the oppression exercised by those who represent the sovereign power." The address said: “Every violation of the principles of justice; the irresponsibility of men in the enjoyment of his Majesty's confidence; all the irregularities, persecutions, and abuses which are practiced destroy the people's confidence in the Government, shake their loyalty toward the monarch, and even sap his supremacy." Stress was further laid on “the tendency which shows itself in certain parts of the empire to withdraw from the general unity.” The address concluded with these words: "Representatives ought to be convoked from all the provinces of the empire, so that the Sovereign might learn the wants of the people, and that legislative questions and important state affairs might be discussed before being settled. Without such a general popular representation we must fear for the stability of the empire, and can foresee its speedy dissolution."
Unlike the resolutions in the other nobiliary corporations, the address just mentioned was not put to the vote at St. Petersburg. The majority of the members there were too much under the fear of persecution. On the other hand, the nobility of Tver, which for some time past had been in the vanguard of the progressive movement, drew up, in its sitting of March 14, 1862, a resolution of seven points, containing a free and voluntary surrender of all its aristocratic privileges, and an offer to make to the peasantry large grants of land; insisting at the same time on "the convocation of a national assembly chosen by the whole people, without distinction of classes." The resolution was adopted by one
hundred and twenty to twenty-three votes. Immediately afterward, thirteen justices of the peace of Tver, who had acted in consonance with these views, were arrested and led as prisoners to St. Petersburg.
Alexander II. neither would grant the convocation of a national Parliament, nor did he allow even the petitioning in favor of such a reform, without giving practical proofs of his sovereign displeasure and imperial wrath.
WHILE Muscovy proper was occupied and agitated by these demonstrations for the parliamentary principle, and by the widely ramified conspiracies of the "Red Cock," the Polish provinces were excited by a renewed movement in favor of nationality and self-government.
Many had assumed there was an end of Poland. Ignorance repeated the famous but false and forged word (“Finis Poloniæ !") which is attributed to Kosciuszko.* The Russian General Fadeyeff, one of the most uncompromising Pan
* Owing to the persistence with which this falsehood always crops up afresh, it may be useful to give once more the text of the letter addressed by Kosciuszko to Count Ségur, the author of the "Décade Historique," under date of Paris, 20th Brumaire, year XII. (October 30, 1803). I have translated it from the French original, which is in the archives of the Ségur family, and which has been communicated to me by Mr. Ch. Ed. Choiecki. Kosciuszko wrote:
"Ignorance or malignity, with fierce persistence, has put the expression Finis Polonia' into my mouth-an
expression I am stated to have made use of on a fatal
Now, first of all, I had been almost mortally
wounded before the battle was decided, and only recovered my consciousness two days afterward, when I found myself in the hands of my enemies. In the second instance, if an expression like the one alluded to is inconsistent and criminal in the mouth of any Pole, it would
have been far more so in mine. When the Polish nation
called me to the defense of the integrity, independence, dignity, glory, and freedom of our fatherland, it knew well that I was not the last Pole in existence, and that with my death on the battle-field, or elsewhere, Poland could not, and would not, be at an end. Everything the
Poles have done since, or will yet do in the future, furnishes the proof that if we, the devoted soldiers of the country, are mortal, Poland herself is immortal; and it is therefore not allowed to anybody either to utter or to repeat that insulting expression (l'outrageante épithète) which is contained in the words 'Finis Polonia.' What would the French say, if, after the battle of Rossbach, in 1757, Marshal Charles de Rohan, Prince de Soubise, had exclaimed, Finis Gallia!' Or what would they say if such cruel words were attributed to him in his biographies? I shall therefore be obliged to you if, in the new edition of your work, you will not speak any more of the 'Finis Poloniæ'; and I hope that the authority of your name will have its due effect with all those who in future may be inclined to repeat those words, and thus attribute to me a blasphemy against which I protest with all my heart."
slavists, who wishes to see the sway of the Czar extended over Austro-Hungary and Constantinople, appreciated the situation more correctly when, even after the overthrow of the rising of 1863-'64, he wrote: "No one can imagine that the Polish question is in reality settled. All its component parts are quite as alive now as formerly. . . . The western provinces of Russia, in their present condition-and not only the kingdom of Poland, but even the province of Volhynia as well, where the Catholics number only ten per cent. of the population-will certainly become thoroughly Polish and hostile to Russia on the first appearance of a foreign foe."
The insurrection of 1863 was undoubtedly the work of a conspiracy-led, not by the older stock of Polish patriots or emigrants, but mostly by very young men. The Democratic Committee at Warsaw which prepared, and the Secret National Government which officered, the rising, were wellnigh exclusively composed of men of the younger generation. This is an important fact, in so far as it testifies to the vitality of the national elements in Russian Poland. Nor had English statesmen and politicians of all parties any doubt, at that time, either as to the righteousness and practical nature of the Polish cause, or as to the atrocious character of the Government of Alexander II. The news of the simultaneous rising all through Poland on January 21, 1863, at once revived English sympathies for a downtrodden nation. Lord Ellenborough and Lord Shaftesbury, Mr. Disraeli, Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, and Lord John Russell, the then Foreign Secretary, were strong upon Polish grievances. In both Houses of Parliament pictures of Russian atrocities were drawn, which fired the heart of England with indignation. Mr. Forster declared in the House that England was henceforth freed from the compact by which she had sanctioned the Czar's sovereignty over Poland. At an enthusiastic meeting in St. James's Hall, Sir John Shelley in the chair, the question as to whether, in case Russia persisted in her course, England ought to declare war against the Autocrat, was answered by a tremendous cry of "Yes!"*
* Having myself been called to Scotland to speak at Glasgow, and in other towns, on the situation in Germany and the rising in Russian Poland, resolutions were passed there to the following effect: Rupture of all diplomatic relations with the Russian Government; recognition of Poland as a belligerent nation; declaration of British sympathy with Germany in her efforts at gaining her own freedom and unity; formation of a committee destined to receive subscriptions for the Polish rising; transmission of a petition to the House of Commons, and of an address to the Hon. Arthur Kinnaird, with the object of promoting the Polish movement. (See Louis Blanc's "Lettres sur l'Angleterre," Paris, 1866, vol. i.)
In the House of Commons it was shown that, according to a statement made by the Town Council of Warsaw, on July 20, 1862, the number of men and women thrown into a single prison in that city since the beginning of the year, under a charge of political offenses, had been 14,833; that such had been the ravages of forced conscription that in November, 1862, only 683 persons had been left at Warsaw for the pursuits of commerce in a population of 184,000 inhabitants; that Prince Gortchakoff had threatened to inaugurate a policy of extermination, and to make of Poland a heap of ashes; that the barracks and fortresses had been transformed into dungeons for political prisoners; and that in the terrible night of January 15, 1863, the houses of the citizens were surrounded and invaded at one o'clock in the morning, in order to fill the ranks of the Russian army with unfortunate kidnapped
his life, and down to his last days, attacked the communistic doctrines in frequent writings. Nor did he organize the Polish insurrection. To this I can personally testify. He was in contact with patriots and exiles of many nations; and he, together with Ledru-Rollin, and a few others in London, were informed of what was coming in Russian Poland, some time before the rising. The Warsaw committee had their trusty agent here, through whom we learned the day of the intended insurrection. Opinions were exchanged between well-wishers in London and the leaders at Warsaw; but the organization and the direction entirely proceeded from within Poland. Shortly before the Polish patriots rose, Mazzini had even given the distinct counsel to delay the rising. But the tyrannic decree of conscription, or rather proscription, by which the Polish youths were to be all seized in the dead of night and transported as recruits into the interior of Russia, left the Warsaw committee no choice. Under these circumstances, Mazzini's counsel could not possibly be followed.
So strongly did English public opinion then pronounce against the Government of Alexander II., that Lord John Russell at last presented "Six Points" to the Cabinet of St. Petersburg. TheySo far from communism having been at the asked for a complete and general amnesty; a national Parliament of Poland, in conformity with the treaty of Vienna of 1815; an Administration exclusively composed of Polish officials; full liberty of conscience; the use of the Polish language on all public occasions and in the education of the people; and a regular system of military recruitment, instead of the arbitrary seizure of persons. As a preliminary measure, an armistice was insisted on by the English Government, who also proposed a conference of the eight signatory powers of the treaty of Paris.
bottom of the insurrectionary movement, the leaders aimed at nothing but national independence, combined with a land reform, such as France and Germany have carried long ago, and as England still stands in need of. Equality before the law, freedom for all creeds, and other liberal measures were mentioned in the published decrees of the Secret Government at Warsaw. The rest would have had to be done by a freelyelected assembly had the revolution been successful. The members of the Secret Government were adherents of the democratic creed; at least,
Need it be said that Alexander II. utterly de- at the beginning of the rising. Gradually, a clined to discuss these proposals?
A sudden change, it is true, came one day over Lord John Russell's views in this Polish matter, when he declared, in a tone of great excitement, that the insurrection had been organized by the "cosmopolitan party of revolutionists"— more especially by Mazzini and his friends-and that the object was to introduce communism into Poland! A more erroneous, nay, on the face of it, impossible statement could scarcely have been made. It is difficult to understand how a statesman of the age and experience of Lord John Russell could allow himself to be thus deceived. He may have found it necessary to oppose the demands for armed English intervention in Poland when he saw that Louis Napoleon wished to improve the occasion for an attack on the Rhine. But then Lord John was not entitled to produce arguments which were the reverse of facts.
So little was Mazzini inclined to communism that he, on the contrary, during the best part of
change became observable, but certainly not in the communistic sense. I have mentioned more amply on another occasion that differences, albeit only of a passing character, showed themselves in the leading committee a few months after the revolution had been begun. It was on the question of intervention and foreign alliances.
Louis Napoleon, ever on the lookout for an opportunity of meddling with affairs abroad, flattered himself with the hope of being able to induce England to effect, in company with him, an intervention in Poland. To my knowledge, some go-betweens of his made an attempt to see whether a Polish demand for French intervention could not be addressed to him, so that his own ambitious policy might find a readier acceptance in the public opinion of Europe. The Jeromist or Plon-Plonist connection was used as a lever for that purpose. This move, coupled with a change of persons then just going on in the composition of the Secret Government at Warsaw, gave rise to a temporary dissension,
which for a while paralyzed the insurrectionary activity. Finally, the Napoleonistic tendency was entirely thrown out, and the old programme was maintained, which aimed at deliverance by Polish forces only.
All this had nothing to do with communism. Lord John Russell was egregiously mistaken.
BEFORE the rising there were two chief committees at Warsaw-both clandestine, according to the nature of the situation. The one was a democratic Committee; the other an aristocratic one the so-called Committee of the Szlachta, or Nobility. The latter mainly sought to bring about peaceful but impressive manifestations in the streets, while the former aimed at revolutionary action. When the Szlachta Committee found that, in order to obtain the aid of the peasantry, it would be necessary to hold out promises of a land reform, its members lost heart. Finally, they withdrew altogether from the direction of affairs. Then the Democratic Committee obtained the upper hand and the sole management of the movement., Its members and adherents, too, belonged partly to the lesser nobility; and, as the landholding class and the comparatively few towns in Russian Poland are almost exclusively the representatives of political thought, of national aspirations, and of general progress, it will easily be understood that even the Democratic Committee could not go too far in its measures of social revolution lest it should alienate its best allies and create division in its own ranks.
Poles; "but the officers," Mr. Golovin adds, were Poles or Catholics, and not the tenth part were real Russians." Lastly, the Secret Government at Warsaw hoped that the constitutional conflict then raging in Prussia between the liberal House of Commons and the reactionary Government of King William and Herr von Bismarck would result in a practical aid to the Polish cause by preventing the King of Prussia from taking action in favor of the Czar.
It is a matter of notoriety how these various hopes were disappointed. As to the manifestoes which it was alleged by Herzen had been issued by Russian officers as a pledge of sympathy with Poland, they proved to be mere words, if not a downright invention. Carrying on a struggle of despair, without any support, the Polish patriots yet kept the whole power of Russia fully occupied for nearly a year and a half. Toward the end of the insurrection, the more advanced party which had organized it found itself compelled, through increasing difficulties, to enter into closer relations with the Moderate, or so-called Aristocratic, party of Polish emigrants abroad, whose political connections and financial means, it was supposed, might give some aid to a sinking cause.
It was all of no avail. The agony was a long and tragic one. At last the catastrophe came; and with feelings of deep emotion we greeted General Langiewicz on his arrival in London as a fellow exile.
I will not unroll here the picture of the fresh horrors that followed upon the overthrow of a rising which had been the result of unbearable atrocities. To do so would require the brush
This also Lord John Russell might have been of a Breughel, the painter of hellish demons. expected to know.
I will not enter here into the causes of the failure of the Polish rising, on which I have before expressed myself, beyond indicating a few noteworthy points. The leaders of the conspiracy calculated, first, upon a more energetic participation of their own peasantry than had been the case on former occasions. Secondly, they counted upon the promised passing over to the revolutionary cause of Russian troops, especially of officers, and upon the outbreak of a popular movement at Moscow and at St. Petersburg. I know that assurances to that effect had been freely given to the leaders of the Polish rising, though I always doubted that they would be made good. The spirit of Pestel and Murawieff had, in 1863, not been revived yet among any noteworthy number of Russian officers. Mr. Ivan Golovin, in 1870, stated in his book* that Alexander Herzen had given an assurance that the Warsaw garrison would pass over to the
*"Russland unter Alexander II.," Leipsic, 1870. VOL. VII.-18
"There are no innocent persons," General Sobolewski said in 1863, when presiding over one of the Commissions of Inquiry at Wilna-"there are no innocent persons; we only inquire to what degree every individual is guilty."
"The law?" exclaimed General Murawieff, with a satanic leer-"I am the law!" He was, according to the well-known phrase, not of the Murawieffs who get hanged, but of the Murawieffs who hang others. He, Berg, Anjenkoff, and other military executioners of the Torquemada school, did their sanguinary business efficiently all through this terrible period. The very name of Poland was struck from the official phraseology in Russia. There was henceforth only a Department of the Vistula. The Polish speech was proscribed in public. The tyrant tried to tear out the very heart from a nation's bosom.
At Nice, Alexander II. afterward shed tears at the sight of the misery of an exiled Polish family. When asked whether his Majesty would not, in the fullness of his power, do something to mitigate the sufferings, he replied, "I have given
my word of honor to Murawieff not to interfere in such matters!" The quality of the imperial tears in question need not be described.
Mr. Golovin writes: "Ivan the Cruel has not acted differently toward Novgorod from what Alexander II. has done to the Poles. A proof is thus furnished that Russian Autocrats have changed their names but not their principles. In Germany it has been truly said that Germans still see in the Poles fellow men, while the Russians act inhumanly against the Poles." I quote by preference the opinion of a prominent Russian writer, who, though exiled himself, speaks severely against the Nihilists, and who is so far from systematically opposing the Russian Government policy as to say, in the work in question, that "the present Emperor has only followed the footsteps of Alexander the Great as far as Samarcand, and that it remains reserved to Alexander IV. to conquer India."
This was written by Mr. Golovin before Alexander II. had made an attempt to get, by a back door, into Afghanistan.
IN spite of its failure, the Polish rising had a remarkable effect. It actually brought a reform, not to the crushed Poles, but to the Russians. Various symptoms in some of the Great Russian and Little Russian provinces, as well as in Lithuania, has shown, during the insurrection, that a dangerous spirit of discontent was rife there also. It required all the crafty arts of government and all the violent declarations of Katkoff and his sort to keep even the Muscovites up to the desired mark of hatred against the Poles. Among a section of the Russian nobility the treatment awarded to the latter was strongly blamed.
It was as a sop to these feelings of unrest that the Czar issued, on January 21, 1864, a ukase for the introduction of provincial (departmental and district) assemblies for the discussion of local economical questions. Politics, of course, were strictly forbidden.
Russian liberalism, misled for a time during the Polish Revolution, revived after this peril was over. A portion of the Russian land-owning class began asserting again that "it was but right the Crown should give up some of its despotic privileges after the aristocracy had been shorn of their former power over the serfs." The Corporation of the Moscow Nobility being on the point of asking the Emperor once more to grant representative government, its session was hurriedly closed by a peremptory order. An imperial ukase declared that "the right of taking the initiative in any reform was vested in the
monarch, and inseparably bound up with his God-conferred autocratic power; that no class was lawfully entitled to speak in the name of another, or to plead before the throne for public concerns and wants of the state; and that irregularities of this kind could only delay the execution of the planned reforms."
It would have been impossible to lay down the despotic principles of the Czar-Pope with a more uncompromising severity. In the midst of the public indignation thereby created, Karakasoff-formerly a student at the Moscow University, and whose father belonged to the class of the titled nobility-on April 16, 1866, made an attempt against the life of the relentless and scheming Autocrat.
This was the first personal warning to him who had always feared that he would die a violent death.
Many were the men whom a suspicious despotism arrested, after Karakasoff's deed, as probable or possible accomplices-the best evidence that autocracy, at the slightest show of danger, feels the soil insecure under its feet. Thus the poets Nekrassoff and Lawroff were imprisoned for a time. Karakasoff was executed. Thirtyfive alleged accomplices of his conspiracy were sentenced to imprisonment or transportation.
In the following year, during Czar Alexander's visit to Paris, the Pole Berezowski pointed the pistol at his breast. A French jury taking a lenient view of the matter, the life of that wouldbe avenger of his country's wrongs was spared. Perhaps the jury thought of the countless hosts that had had to make the pilgrimage into the Valley of Death, in order that a single man might uphold his irresponsible rule over many enslaved nations.
I shall have to speak, in a concluding article, of the time between the attempt of Berezowski and that of Solovieff. With the obstinacy of the Autocrat the fierce resolution of his foes has
grown-a very natural law of action and reaction, which it would be useless to deny, sad as the outlook is for the cause of humanity. The atmosphere of blood, which has for ages hovered over the Imperial Palace of Russia, has spread now over the country at large. A strange aurora borealis of mysterious fires once more illumines the horizon with its dark-red arrows. Nihilists are at work. Fire-raisers are at work. also have broken out into revolt. We can only hope that these are the inevitable thunder-clouds of a necessary storm destined to purify the air, to drive away the foul mists of tyranny, and to confer upon long-suffering Russia the blessings of Light and Right.
KARL BLIND, in the Contemporary Review.