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dinary spirit of secret leaguing in Russia. Peo- "The Union of the Proscribed,” “ The German ple are amazed to hear of occult political associa- League of Justice," and kindred brotherhoods. tions in the new as well as in the older capitals Countless have been the victims of a royal and of the Czar's empire-at St. Petersburg, at Mos- imperial inquisition which pried by its spies into cow, at Kiev—not to speak of Kharkov, Odessa, the patriotic fraternities, and often swept hundreds and other towns of the east and the south. Yet of members, together with masses of wrongly we need not go further back than the first part suspected people, into its widespread nets. But of the present century, in order to find precedents not in vain has been the martyrdom of these for secret societies—strong, remarkable prece- men. From a soil fruitfully watered by their dents, little or scarcely known here, but of deep blood—from the dreary walls of their ghastly import for Russia's present and future. There dungeons—from the weary paths of their hopeis a conspiratory tradition in the interest of lib- less exile, many a sweet flower has sprung up, eralism or democracy even in the ice-bound at- whose bright color and fragrance gladden a genmosphere of the northern realm. The events of eration which knows little of the sufferings of the present day are but a revival—a revival on a its sires. more extensive scale. Now, all history proves The same with France and Italy. There that, when a movement thus enters a second also, the democratic and national spirit, driven stadium with increased energy, the chances of in by sanguinary royal reactions, found a refuge, its final success augment, progressively, in a and set up centers of organization, in clandestine threefold and fourfold proportion.
folk-motes of freemen, until the moment came Germany, too, has had her patriotic and rev- when action in the light of day became possible. olutionary conspiracies since the beginning of Cavour himself acknowledged, after his success, this century. It has sometimes been said that “I have been a conspirator my whole life long !" the open-hearted Teuton does not incline to Yet, what comparison could he bear, in that replotting. As a rule, this is true. As a rule, spect, with the apostle of Italian freedom and few nations incline at all that way. Dire neces- union, the whilom Triumvir of the Roman Resity only drives them into a secret Bund or a public, to whom a deeply-rent nation—a “mere Venta ; and then these hidden leagues have geographical expression," in Metternich's contheir justification in the stress of circumstances. temptuous words—owes the secret organization From the days of Armin, the liberator of Ger- of that Sicilian campaign which, under the submany from the Roman yoke, to those of the sequent glorious headship of the Leader of the Swiss patriots, the peasant unions of the six- Thousands, for the first time rendered a united teenth century, known as “The League of the Italy possible ! Laced Shoe and “The Poor Konrad,” and down to our times, Germans also have now and
II. then largely resorted to occult organizations of The successful precedents of Germany, freemen.
France, and Italy, have something of a counterThey conspired against the Napoleonic yoke part in Russia. I refer to the conspiracies under with Dörnberg, Schill, and Hofer-and, chief of Alexander I. and Nicholas, in which men of the all, with Baron Stein. They conspired after the highest social rank and of eminent position in restoration of their national independence, when the administration and the army, men connected the simplest liberties were denied them by un- with the Government and the court, noblemen grateful princes; hundreds of men distinguished of historic families, and officers whom the Czar by learning or position — not to speak of the had fully trusted, were deeply implicated. thousands of obscurer patriots—becoming the One of them, who has given valuable details prey at that time of royal persecution. Again, of those early movements, I met abroad, years they conspired before those great risings of 1848– ago. When I made his acquaintance, it was '49, which for a while brought the occupants of little expected—though all the rest of Europe the thrones down on their knees, and, in spite of was in commotion through popular uprisings the subsequent reaction, successfully did away against princely misrule—that any correspondwith many of the worst abuses. Whatever prog- ing movement could originate in Russia. Ages ress Germany has made on the road toward of uncontested oppression seemed to be before union and freedom has been foreshadowed, pre- her as her unavoidable lot. For nearly a quarter pared, and furthered by secret confederacies like of a century after his triumph over the insurrecthe Tugend Bund; the patriotic Students' Asso- tion of December, 1825, Nicholas had held the ciations (Burschenschaften) which aimed at the country in his iron grip. It was as if the very restoration of the empire or the establishment soul of the Russian nation were crushed. Forof a republican commonwealth ; “ The League tunately, the mad ambition of that tyrant brought of the Free,” “The Association of Germans,” upon him the retaliation of Europe. Striking out for universal dominion through an attack asked for “ freedom as in Austria.” The fact of upon Constantinople—whose conquest has been an Ottoman representative government having the secular aim, not of the down-trodden Russian been established at Constantinople through stunation, but of a series of her despots, heathen dents' (Softas') demonstrations and popular risand Christian, ever since the ninth century-heings against despotic and incapable Sultans, one was deservedly foiled ; leaving to his successor of whom was deposed after the other, would the legacy of an empire deeply shaken, in which have strengthened the hands of the progressive the seeds of dissatisfaction rapidly germinated, parties at St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Kiev. though at first in underground darkness. Hence I think-and I do not say it lightly—that
Many may have forgotten it, some may pre- the Czar's anti-Turkish crusade was looked upon tend not to know it, but it is a plain fact that the with deep inward aversion by the more enerCrimean war acted upon Russia, in a notable getic revolutionists. degree, as a liberating solvent. Defeat brought Still some of them inclined to the belief that, the irresponsible rule of czardom into very seri- one way or the other, the war would have the ous difficulties. Even as, in 1870, the Napoleonic effect of shaking the autocratic edifice. In war disaster led to French freedom, so the capture of the rottenness, the corruption, the venality, the Sebastopol gave rise to a movement in Russia, inefficiency of the administration, civil and miliwhich aimed at the introduction of representative tary, would come out. Heavy sacrifices in blood government, together with the abolition of serf- and treasure would have to be made by the peodom. The new Autocrat—himself, like his pred- ple. Dissatisfaction would therefore increase. ecessors, an extensive slaveholder through his When death is to be faced, when sufferings are crown-peasants—tried to fence off the danger to to be undergone by hundreds of thousands, men his sovereign privilege by suddenly making friends become bolder in thought and action. A better with the serfs. Of this more will have to be said chance would thus offer itself for agitation among in a subsequent article. Let it suffice to state the masses, otherwise so stolid in Russia. The here that he became a liberator of the mujiks, Czar and the Grand Dukes would have to go to the better to hold the educated classes in con- the scene of war—to stay there for a length of tinued political subjection. But it is ill fighting time, especially if things went wrong. Who against the currents of the time. After some knew what might be done in such a case among twenty years of apparent success of this crafty a mutinous army on foreign soil and an angered policy, political aspirations once more rise strong- population at home? ly to the surface.
Victory itself was similarly discounted. After In vain did Alexander II. seek to divert the a triumph gained with enormous sacrifices for feeling of the nation from pressing home-ques- the alleged deliverance of the Bulgars, the Rustions to glorious military enterprises abroad. In sians would have a good claim for their own vain he strove to uphold the prestige of success, emancipation. If Alexander then refused to the without which autocracy can not live, at all haz- Russian people its right of self-government, as ards and at all costs to humanity—committing he was sure to do, the revolutionary party would ruthless barbarities in the Caucasus, in Poland, be strengthened. So, whether the Czar vanand in Turkistan, to which further unspeakable quished the Sultan, or the Sultan the Czar, or atrocities were added in the recent campaign « each did kill the other,” every way some gain against Turkey. It is all of no avail. In the was hoped for by men whom wild despair had very hour of his triumph the wall-writing ap- made reckless as to the use of means. pears which foretells his doom.
Had England and Austro-Hungary, in alliI believe there can be no doubt that the unpro- ance with reformed Turkey, made a combined voked attack upon the Ottoman Empire—made push against Russia, when her weakened forces in the midst of an attempt at a parliamentary lay before Plevna, the event would have been reform on the basis of the civil and political hailed with ill-disguised pleasure by the leaders equality of races and creeds—had little, if any, of the secret societies. It would have brought support among the liberal, none among the ad- matters to a crisis. The Czar, at that time, dared vanced or democratic, elements in Russia. By not return to Moscow lest the demand for a charthem it was felt that that attack was the usual ter should be presented to him on the point of device of a hard-driven despotism which tries to militia bayonets, respectfully arrayed for his reget rid of internal complications by bloodletting ception. It was a great historical opportunity, abroad. Had the Porte been allowed to work that long siege of Plevna ; but it was lost, so far out its reforms in peace, Russian liberals would as English interests are concerned, through dihave been able to retort upon their own oppress- vided counsels here. or by asking him for “ freedom as in Turkey," A year ago a distinguished English stateseven as French democrats under Napoleon III. man, an ex-cabinet minister, who has taken a
prominent part, though generally in a moderate selves in such a way as to strengthen the imsense, in the discussions on the Eastern ques- pediments to encroachment, or to provoke the tion, asked me, in presence of others, “Whether, envy of the Russian people.
Thus Poland was in the case of foreign intervention in the East, accused of intolerable anarchy, in order to get a there would not have been a great patriotic rally pretext for her dismemberment. Yet, no sooner among Russian revolutionists themselves ?” I did Poland reform her Constitution in a truly answered, “ That, to the best of my belief, an liberal sense than she was charged with being a active opposition of European Powers to the “hot-bed of Jacobinism” and struck from the roll war-policy of the Czar would have found allies of nations. In the same way, the intervention in Russia, and that the present revolutionary of the Emperor Nicholas in Hungary had the party there must not be judged by precedents twofold object of preventing the Magyar Comtaken from other and dissimilar cases.
monwealth from becoming an even more dangerWhat has happened since June last is, I ous stumbling-block to Panslavist advance and a think, calculated to show the correctness of this virtual reproach to the continuance of the autoappreciation. The Eastern question is imma- cratic system in Russia. Sweden, another parterial to the so-called Nihilists. They disliked liamentary country, was for a similar double reaits being raised; they have no enthusiasm for its son robbed of Finland. Against Turkey the results. They use the complications arising out scheme of procedure has always been laid down of it one way or the other, according to circum- with cynical openness. During the war of 1828– stances. And the majority, albeit by no means '29, Count Pozzo di Borgo, the Russian Ambasholding (as is often erroneously thought) Inter- sador at Paris, plainly wrote in a dispatch that nationalist or Social Democratic views, would cer- all hesitation of his Government as to whether tainly have preferred seeing autocracy put to Turkey ought to be attacked was at an end as straits from abroad, in order to get greater elbow- soon as the Emperor saw that the reforms just room for themselves within, so as to be able to introduced by the Porte would have the effect of lift czardom from its base by the parallelogram consolidating the Ottoman Empire. of forces. This attitude of the Russian revolu- The dispatch of Pozzo di Borgo goes on: tionists is to be explained from two considera- . “The Emperor has put the Turkish system to tions which act upon them with major force: the proof, and his Majesty has found it to posFirst, they feel that the empire is already an un- sess a commencement of physical and moral wieldy, overgrown one, which becomes less and organization which it hitherto had not. If the less fit for free institutions the more it succeeds Sultan has been enabled to offer us a more dein annexing further foreign races whom the Czar termined and regular resistance, while he had plays out against the Russians, or against each scarcely assembled together the elements of his other, whenever reforms are called for. Second- new plan of reform and ameliorations, how forly, they know that the widely scattered, ignorant midable should we have found him had he had peasantry of Muscovy proper are difficult to time to give it more solidity, and to render that reach and to organize for political objects, while barrier impenetrable which we found so much in the comparatively few larger towns in which difficulty in surmounting, although art has hithprogressive sentiments pulsate Government em- erto done so little to assist Nature! Things beploys a reign of terror against the freedom-lov- ing in this state, we must congratulate ourselves ing class.
upon having attacked them (the Turks) before In such a situation the Party of Action would they became dangerous to us; for delay would have been glad to see Government checked in only have rendered our relative situation worse, its conquering career by foreign Powers, thereby and prepared us greater obstacles than those disparaged in the eyes of the country, and thus with which we met.” rendered liable to defeat at home. A beaten Can anything be clearer? And is there not army is often rebelliously inclined. At all events, a perfect counterpart to this Macchiavelism in it is rather a doubtful instrument for internal re- the arguments mentioned in a dispatch which pression. For various reasons the “Nihilists” Mr. Layard sent to the Earl of Derby, under would consequently not have objected to a repe- date of May 30, 1877? There we read : “A tition of the lesson given to czardom in the Cri- Russian gentleman observed to me: 'Russia
looks upon the establishment of a Constitution
and a Parliament by the Turkish Government as ANOTHER circumstance, connected with the an insult and a defiance to her. Their existence traditional policy of Russian monarchs, is to be would alone furnish us with a sufficient reason to taken into account. It is an old and well-kept make war upon Turkey. We will never consent rule in their state councils that neighboring coun- to be the only Power left in Europe without contries must not be permitted to reorganize them- stitutional institutions; and as we are not yet
prepared for them, we can not, it is evident, al- the cause of freedom and hasten its triumph ; and low Turkey to have them.'"
this power is the army. It, too, had of late to unCould more convincing proofs be required dergo all the sufferings arising from the prevailing that it is in the interest of Europe to see Russia system of government. Can the army already have thrown into the path of radical political reforms, forgotten what it passed through, and not have unso that the incubus of an aggressive despotism derstood the cause of the evil? Its present condi
tion is a much worse one than that in which the ever plotting in the dark might be lifted from our part of the world? This European interest co
Russian army found itself after its return from the incides with the wish of the most resolute parties coming back, the country under a state of siege and
Napoleonic wars of 1813-'15. Then it saw, on at present active in Russia. A change has in the people in misery. Now our soldiers meet with this respect come over the dream of her propa- famished peasants, deficits, an enslaved nation, a gandists. Alexander Herzen, who passed for a public exchequer robbed by frauds, schools under "revolutionist,” worked in his time for the Pan- the administration of intriguing bigots, and a domislavist cause and for the conquest of Constanti- nant rule of spies, with whom, through the enactnople; pointing out even Vienna as a legitimate ments of the new ukase on the courts-martial for object of Russian ambition, and speaking of czars political offenses, even members of the imperial as if they were revolutionary dictators to whom family are now associated. The brave warriors of an historical task was given! These strange ideas the Shipka Pass, the sufferers of the crossing of the are often found to underlie his apparently most Balkans, are employed for shameful executions democratic language. In private, he now and against poor tillers of the soil and starving workthen would avow such views in even bolder men. To the officer who escaped from death at the words, into which his impetuous character al- terrible attack upon Plevna it may happen that he lowed itself to be betrayed on slight provocation. must shoot down his own sister who perchance takes The transition from him to Katkoff
, of the “Mos- population ; or that he has to march, in military
part in a street demonstration of the discontented cow Gazette "—his rival in influence, and adver- step, over the grave of his own brother whose body sary in agitation-was therefore not so abrupt as
was riddled with bullets in consequence of a denunmay at first sight appear.
ciation launched against him by an infamous secret On their part, the present Russian revolution- police. What a terrible situation! Among the ists are dead against Chauvinism. In one of heroes of the Napoleonic wars there were men who their organs they plainly said after the recent could not bear such a state of things. They formed war: “No longer do we mean to tolerate a rule political unions tending to a change of the system of satraps, after we have sacrificed more than of government in Russia. The same, with the nethree hundred thousand lives for doing away with cessary modifications required by our own circuma Government in Bulgaria which was far more stances, ought to be done now within the army if it kumane, far more liberal and honorable than still counts men of noble heart and of high intellect this vile Mongol system which tyrannizes over
in its ranks. Now there is a better prospect of success us. The Russian people will not be so foolish than there was in 1815--25, because now it is not as to permit itself to be led again to the shambles the aristocracy and the officers alone who will act. for the sake of foreigners, while its own condi- Sooner or later the despotism that weighs upon us tion is a far more miserable one than that of the must fall, though the crisis may last a long time and
the victims may be many. It depends upon all honBulgars, whom the impostors of Moscow had orable and thinking men of the army to facilitate written up as “brethren' of ours. Does a Ruse the decision and to hasten the end of the crisis. sian peasant possess a house and farm similar to those which Bulgarian peasants own? And when
These words, containing as they do a charachad Turkey ever such tyrants as Kleinmichel, teristic reference to the conspiracies under AlexMurawieff, Trepoff, or Mesentzoff, who in Russia ander I. and Nicholas, mark a fresh departure in may be counted by the hundreds ? We are the the revolutionary propaganda of action. A traunhappiest people on the earth, and our misfor- dition is here appealed to which had become tune is the existence of czardom.”
somewhat obscured in the mind of the younger Such was the language of the “ Journal of generation in Russia, and of which but little is the Revolution ” shortly after the stipulations of known to the general public out of the Northern San Stefano. Since then the secret leaders have Empire. In the warfare of parties of action traseen fit to address themselves more especially to ditions of this kind are valuable. A consciousthe army in a slightly altered tone. In doing so ness of the struggles of the past, a sympathetic by an appeal issued a few weeks since they in- remembrance of the bygone champions, an introduced words such as men who have bled for telligent understanding of the reasons of their their country always like to hear. The appeal temporary failure, are apt to embolden men, to contains the following passages:
fill their hearts with sacred fire, and to strengthThere is a power in Russia which might serve en their confidence in the coming triumph of a
cause which has been “ bequeathed from bleed- dom. At that time the word “ Russian” only ing sire to son."
signified the conquering race, even as the name The history of the Russian conspiracies and of France arose out of that of the conquerors of revolutionary risings of the earlier part of this Gaul, the German Franks. To this day thirtycentury may, therefore, well be of interest at this nine princely families in Russia assert their orimoment. Its importance is all the greater be- gin from the direct male line of Rurik. Among cause the doings of the secret leagues of those these families are the Gortchakoffs and the Kradays, in which so many of the very aristoi of potkins, one of the latter of whom recently fell Russia were engaged, show in several respects a a victim to the Secret League, while another wonderful likeness to the procedure of the revo- Krapotkin lives as an exile in Switzerland. lutionary party of the present day. A strong The institutions brought over by the Russohistorical side-light is thus shed upon what is Norman war-clan to the great Scythian plain, on going on now.
which Finns, Slavs, and Turko-Tartars then dwelt,
were of a semi-feudal kind. Still, they contained IV.
the germs of some of those liberties which we BEFORE proceeding to detail the conspiracies meet with among all early Teutonic tribes. Soon, whose aim was to establish representative gov- however, the Russian Grand Princes, feeling little ernment in Russia in the first part of this cen- restraint for their lust of power among the easily tury, a rapid glance at the rise and origin of her yielding native races, became so thoroughly desdespotic system may be of use. Thus only can potic as to show no trace of their original charwe fully understand the fierceness which nerves acter as Germanic sib-heads, or Kunings. The men who look back upon the slavery of a thou- native population at large was held by them in sand years to the most eccentric deeds of des- severe subjection. This slavery was turned into perate resolution.
an even deeper degradation when Russia fell Mr. Gladstone, in an article in which he under the yoke of a second foreign dominion, spoke of the "ample evidence of a just and namely, that of the Golden Horde-a Mongol philanthropic mind” in Alexander II., once de- tribe, whose Khans swayed Russia from the scribed Russia as nationally young.” No twelfth to the fifteenth century. greater historical error could be committed : The khanate, gradually collapsing through Russia is an old country; and the tyranny of internal feuds, was supplanted by the czardom her rulers is of the most ancient date. Vainly of Muscovy. Slowly rising on the ruins of the does the eye search for a period of popular free power of the Golden Horde, it continued to govdom in wandering over her imperial annals. ern in the spirit and with the administrative maFrom the ninth to the nineteenth century the chinery of the Mongols. With the aid of Tartar grim darkness of the long Cimmerian night of mercenaries, the Czars broke down the few selfher oppression is but relieved, here and there, by ruling communities which had in the mean while a pale star of nascent liberty, whose uncertain grown up in the north—such as Novgorod, the glitter, scarcely seen, rapidly vanishes away. At associate of the German Hanseatic League, Pskov, the very time of the formation of the empire we and Tver. Though delivered from the harsh meet with a dire despotism, “ born with teeth in yoke of the Tartars, Russia was not to enjoy any its head.” And to this hour the same tyranny, liberty. Her monarchs established everywhere only in crueller, more systematic form, holds the the dead level of oppression. No representative nation in an abject thralldom, against which the institutions were allowed, by which the nation nobler minds among the better educated classes could make its voice regularly heard. The will
- before all, the aspiring youth—desperately car- of the Autocrat was supreme. ry on a desultory warfare.
Herberstein, an envoy of the German Empire, The earliest chronicles of Russia show us a who visited Russia soon after the withdrawal of people subjugated by a foreign warrior sió, called the Mongols, wrote with utter astonishment : Warangians, who came from the Germanic “The Grand Prince speaks, and everything is north. They were Norwegians, Swedes, Angles, done; the life, the property, of the laymen and and Goths, led by chieftains whose names are all the clergy, of the nobles and the citizens, all deof the clearest Teutonic type. It was Rurik, pend on his supreme will. He knows of no conwith his brothers Sineus and Truvor, who laid tradiction, and everything appears in him just, as the foundations of the realm in the ninth cen- in God; for the Russians are convinced that the tury, and gave the country its name and its in- Grand Prince is the fulfiller of the heavenly destitutions. Slav, Finnic, and Tartar tribes, dwell- crees. 'God and the Prince have willed it l’are ing between the Finnish Gulf and the upper the ordinary expressions among them. ... I course of the Dnieper, were combined by these do not know,” Herberstein adds with philosophiTeutonic Warangians into a “Russian” king- cal sadness, “whether it is the character of the