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Title: The Red Reign: The True Story of an Adventurous Year in Russia

Author: Kellogg Durland

Release date: March 4, 2020 [eBook #61557]
Most recently updated: January 24, 2021

Language: English

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The author and his brigand guide and interpreter







Copyright, 1907, by
The Century Co.
Published, September, 1907





The author desires to make cordial recognition of the fact that some of the material used in Chapter IX was also used in articles which appeared in Harper’s Weekly and Colliers Weekly; that certain passages in several other chapters were used in letters to the New York Evening Post and the Boston Evening Transcript; that part of Chapter XI appeared in the Independent. At the same time he would express his grateful appreciation to Mr. Hamilton Holt, of the Independent, for the courtesy of supplying him with credentials of representation which were exceedingly useful on several occasions.{ix}{viii}


Importance of movement called Russian revolution—Its varied aspects—Inevitableness of revolution in Russia—Causes—The disease of autocracy—Insincerity of manifesto of October, 1905, seen in gradual withdrawal of constitutional rights then guaranteed—Elements of disintegration in Russian state—Ninety per cent. of Russian people now oppose existing régime—Startling record of killed and wounded in 1906—Compared to French Terror—Length of Russian struggle compared to other revolutions in history—Author’s qualifications for present undertaking—Varied experience among Cossacks, terrorists, and peasants.
Chapter I. Into the Shadow3
The White Terror—My first conspiracy—A frontier episode—A mixed company—“Vive la Revolution!”—The “Quiet Capital”—A courtesy to Americans—A friend’s narrow escape—A midnight incident—Early bewilderment—Witte “more a stratagem than a man”—The ministerial crisis—The deposed minister—Significant telegrams from the provinces—Off to the Caucasus.
Chapter II. Among Officers of the Czar25
Welcomed by officers of the guard—Being Cossackized—An interrupted sleep—Presentation to the Governor-General—An amusing interview—The General’s vanity and how it was tickled—The story of the Cossacks—An Ingoosh brigand—An expedition into the mountains.
Chapter III. At Home With Cossacks48
A Cossack village—An exhibition of horsemanship—An accident—How Cossacks are trained for service—Cossack local government—Basis of Cossack loyalty—Their attitude toward massacres—Cossacks of the Caucasus, like other {x}tribes of the mountains, still unconquered—Back to Vladikavkaz.
Chapter IV. Under Martial Law75
The journey to the “Oil City”—First view of the Caspian—Armenians and Tartars—Russia’s monstrous misrule—Tiflis blood-stained and battered—How to wield a Caucasian dagger—Daily perils—Chiaroscuro of officers’ life—A stirring departure.
Chapter V. With the Army of “Pacification”95
Arrival in Kutais—A siege city—“The very walls have ears”—Cossack barracks—Loot—“Bloody” Alikhanoff—A dramatic interview—Justification for burning homes—Military outrages—Why the inhabitants of the Caucasus are revolutionists and terrorists.
Chapter VI. Courting Arrest121
A journey in the interior—Warned back—The start—A typical Volga province—Causes of the famine—Arrival at Tsaritzin—Two medical students—“Open! Open to the Police!”—The search—Condition of the peasants—Pesky—A group of remarkable personalities—Village customs—A dramatic meeting—A night ride—A sudden interruption in our plan.
Chapter VII. In Prison138
Questioned by the Police—Taken—Five charges to account for—Accused of being an agitator—Eighteen versts to the gendarmerie—A tedious night—Back to Saratoff—“Take the dogs away”—Prison—Clamoring for freedom—Discouragement—Parole—Release.
Chapter VIII. A Visit to Marie Spiradonova155
A tyrannical régime—A young girl’s daring—Tortures and outrages—Entertained by the governor—A kindly police-master—Grim prison walls—Difficulties—Appeal to the governor—Shackled prisoners—Marie Spiradonova—A terrible tale—Interruptions—“Greetings to France, to England, and to America”—A Spartan mother—Letters from the fair prisoner.
Chapter IX. Watching the Duma at Work177
The famous October manifesto—Skepticism of Russian people toward promise of Constitution—Difficulties placed in way of honest voting—Czar’s insincerity and duplicity—Fundamental and exceptional laws—Ministerial change on eve of Duma—St. Petersburg possessed by troops—The {xi}Winter Palace spectacle—The throne speech—Disappointment of deputies—“Amnesty! Amnesty!”—“The first shot”—Make-up of first Duma—First session—Zeal of representatives—Hostile attitude of government—Work of Duma—Governmental policy of obstruction—Dissolution—The Viborg manifesto—The present peril—The promise of the future in the light of the attitude of the Czar.
Chapter X. A Conspirative Meeting207
A member of the military organization—Kronstadt—Revolutionary headquarters among the soldiers and sailors—A conspirative gathering—Smuggling forbidden literature—A surprise—Disguised as a Russian sailor—A thrilling experience—An inspiring episode—Shadowed!—Flight—Plan of escape—Capture deferred.
Chapter XI. The Kronstadt Uprising223
Kronstadt on the eve of mutiny—Influences encouraging uprising—Make-up of the garrison—Wild rumors—A grand plan for general army and navy uprising—A successful beginning—Silence—A momentous telegram—A sudden signal—Mutiny—Trapped!—Slaughter—Illuminating lessons of the Kronstadt fiasco—The terrible cost in life and liberty.
Chapter XII. Governmental Terrorism237
Arrival in Bielostok—First impressions—Stories of the injured—The crucifix as a weapon of death—The hospital fired upon—Children victims—Failure of government to place responsibility—Mass of evidence proving governmental complicity in massacres—Other massacres officially instigated—Prince Urusoff’s speech—The assassination of Professor Hertzenstein—A celebrated Moscow physician murdered—Warsaw horrors—Upon whom rests the responsibility?—Arrest of Pasha—Shooting a girl in prison—Bureaucracy guilty of murder and assassination—Placing the responsibility on the Czar—The arch-terrorist and assassin of Russia.
Chapter XIII. Amid Warsaw Contrasts265
Seething Poland—Governmental lawlessness—Overwhelming little Poland by sheer force of numbers—Twice over the Polish frontier—A panic of Warsaw Jews—Russian oppression—A nervous populace—Campaign to exterminate Warsaw police—Hopeless plight of latter—A pathetic incident—Where poverty stalks—Effect of era of misery and chaos {xii}upon Warsovians—Traffic in white slaves—Daily occurrences—A Warsaw hospital—Chiaroscuro in the Polish capital—Parties of Poland—Poles traditional revolutionists—Hope and optimism temperamental characteristics of the Polish people.
Chapter XIV. Among the Muzhiks287
Importance of the muzhik in the future—Ancient republican traditions—Greek church and bureaucracy non-Russian institutions—Weight of the peasant vote in the Duma—How the peasant’s belief in “God and Czar” is waning—Strokes of disillusionment—Indifference to time—Muzhik nonchalance—Strange sects—Muzhik religion—A characteristic legend—Practical ethics—The muzhik not necessarily lazy—Muzhik shrewdness—The dawning of self-consciousness.
Chapter XV. The Peasant Awakening311
The period of repression following the Duma dissolution—Under arrest in Moscow—The cradle of the Romanoffs—A peasant gathering—Outspoken muzhiks—A “constituent assembly”—Rational opinions of the Viborg manifesto—Nijni Novgorod—The great fair—A disturbed province—Kazan—A journey to the interior—A visit to Prince Ouktomsky—Professor Vassiliev and his family—Advanced ideas of the peasants—Simbirsk, the “Mountain of the Winds”—An illiterate government—What the peasants want—Entering the famine belt.
Chapter XVI. Through the Hungry Country341
Heart of the famine region—Terrible pictures of starvation—Peasants feeding the thatch from the roofs of their houses to cattle—Auctioning cattle and horses for a song—How the workers and breadwinners suffer first—Inability of the government to cope with situation—Peasants pledge their labor for years to come to secure food for their families for the present time—Another arrest—Expulsion from the province.
Chapter XVII. In the Land of Lost Leaders360
Across the Urals—Into Siberia—The Treimen waiting-prison—First exiles—The journey to Tobolsk—Secret night meeting of politicals—Hardships of exile—Splendid personnel of prisoners—Forced into daily contact with foul disease—Starvation—Life among the Ostiaks—Lack of medical aid—Siberia, a monumental crime—The journey {xiii}back.
Chapter XVIII. My Friends, the Terrorists387
“Terrorism” almost universally misunderstood in America—Terrorism a philosophy based on logical, intelligent, dispassionate reasoning—Exceptional incidents that merely prove the rule—Relation of terrorists to whole revolutionary movement—Differentiation of the several leading revolutionary parties—Thoughtful and humane methods of recent terrorists—Capture of “The Bear”—Two girl terrorists executed at Kronstadt—The daring Maximalists—“Flying bands”—Rigid morals of terrorists—Total abstainers—Personnel of the Maximalists—A famous “expropriation”—Plot on the Duma—Bomb in the home of Prime Minister Stolypin—The most daring plot of all.
Chapter XIX. A Close Call410
A midnight meeting—An unusual request—Four women of “the movement”—A sharp engagement—How the plot was carried out—Plans for escape—Disappointment—An educated cab-driver—A bold scheme—A unique “bridal” party—No news—Alarm—On the trail—A gendarme companion—Suspicious incidents—A night alarm—Caught—A desperate chance—“Au revoir”—Found—Back to the fight—Watched—Final escape.
Chapter XX. With the Russian Workman433
Yusofka for a week-end—An exciting journey—A late welcome—Guarded slumber—The story of Yusofka—The Black Country of Russia—Time of small consequence to Russian workmen—Russian holidays numerous—The working-day—Cost of living not low—Coal-mines—The Artel—Morality—The drink question—Through a Russian coal-mine—The Russian engineer an obstacle to progress—Child-labor laws good—Conditions compared with Scotland and Pennsylvania—Comparative wage scale—Standards of living—Departure from Yusofka.
Chapter XXI. Tolstoi—Odessa—Constantinople456
A visit to Russia’s grand old man—An interesting yamschik—Tolstoi’s views on the present struggle—His world-wide interests—The varied and interesting Tolstoi household—On to the Crimea—Odessa—The Black Hundred organization—Promoting massacres—Quitting Odessa during a dock strike—A Black Hundred crew—Difficulties at sea—Back to Odessa—A fresh start—A motley cargo of passengers—Bokhara {xiv}pilgrims bound for Mecca, Central Asia Jews journeying to Jerusalem, German Lutherans—Crossing the Black Sea—Arrival in Constantinople.
Chapter XXII. The Trend481
Whither? The future of Russia—Why the revolution has not yet succeeded—Probable outcome of the struggle—Inevitableness of eventual overthrow of present régime—Attitude of foreign Powers—The Russian people during the period of rebellion—Effect upon national character—The Czar and the people—The Czar and the world—What we may expect.
A—Caucasian testimony; B—The Duma’s Reply to the Throne Speech; C—M. Lopuchin’s letter to M. Stolypin; D—Report on Siedlce pogrom; E—Notes on Wages and Cost of Living.
Index: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z529



The author and his brigand guide and interpreterFrontispiece
Moscow barricades 8
Map: Mr. Durland’s route of travel10
Moscow barricades13
The “Volksguard” of Salisburg22
The Governor-General of the Terek39
My host—Prince Andronnikov. Some of my officer companions44
A Cossack house. Interior of the above50
Outside a Cossack yard. My Cossack driver at home with his family55
Cossack women on frontier duty in the Province of Assouri61
Orenburg Cossacks—a family group68
A Cossack village—Province of the Don. A group of Don Cossacks at breakfast71
Arrest of suspected working-men—an hourly incident in Baku. Devastated oil-fields. Baku82
Tiflis. Showing result of artillery fire on town85
Caucasian types92
A Georgian village97
Alikhanoff’s Cossacks104
Guerrilla warfare109
The peasants’ friend. Medical students from Moscow University in charge of a famine relief station in Saratoff128
A typical cottage in the famine district of Saratoff. Examination of credentials134
A village priest entering a house to bless the bread after the Lenten fast151
Governor Xanugievitch of Tamboff157
{xvi} Marie Spiradonova in prison—the girl who shot the governor of Tamboff168
Where the first Duma met179
The Emperor reading his throne speech186
Two Constitutional Democratic leaders in the first Duma197
The Duma lobby203
The Kronstadt insurrection. Loyal troops sent to quell Kronstadt mutiny233
Youth and old age—Bielostok pogrom victims249
An infantry patrol. Warsaw. Three soldiers to guard each policeman. Warsaw270
“Bomb order”279
A group of leading men in a starving village290
Women making hay. The “sleeping-box” over the stove. The platform is the family bed in the warm weather295
A village boulevard. A Russian cemetery301
A Russian farmer308
Tartar types—East Russia325
Carriage used by bomb-throwers at Stolypin’s house330
Starving peasants in a Tartar village343
Everything eaten up349
In the waiting-prison at Tyumen. Ostiaks363
The great Siberian Trakt371
Siberia: the start into the Interior378
Sozonoff—a typical Siberian exile of the intellectual class. Head of a convoy of prisoners on the great Siberian Trakt383
Horse killed by small bomb thrown to stop the carriage in which state money was being conveyed395
The wreck of M. Stolypin’s room406
An “expropriation”413
Russian workmen and their “artel443
A Russian coal-miner451
Cossacks on patrol duty. Victims of a Cossack pogrom469
Nicholas W. Tchaykovsky, “Father of the Russian Revolution”487
Catherine Breshkovsky491



Importance of movement called Russian revolution—Its varied aspects—Inevitableness of revolution in Russia—Causes—The disease of autocracy—Insincerity of manifesto of October, 1905, seen in gradual withdrawal of constitutional rights then guaranteed—Elements of disintegration in Russian state—Ninety per cent. of Russian people now oppose existing régime—Startling record of killed and wounded in 1906—Compared to French Terror—Length of Russian struggle compared to other revolutions in history—Author’s qualifications for present undertaking—Varied experience among Cossacks, terrorists and peasants.

The Russian revolution is one of the vital issues of the world to-day. The political revolt, presenting, as it does, so many unique and dramatic developments, tends to distract the attention of the world from the broader, deeper, and certainly not less important, phases of the movement which are found in the social and economic upheaval. The working out of these forces—political, social, economic—in one stupendous movement, constitutes one of the great revolutions of history.

Revolution implies absolute change. Whether civil war, or intense parliamentary struggle, or both, is the method of accomplishment, is of small consequence. The ultimate outcome is the same. The present movement of the Russian people toward a changed condition of life is but the manifestation of underlying forces of history and destiny to which all nations must yield. Revolution in Russia during the first quarter of the twentieth century is as inevitable as the bursting of a Pelée or a Vesuvius; as inexorable and pitiless as an earthquake, or the passing of ancient empires.{xviii}

Revolutions are not made. They are not built upon the propaganda of a political or economic cult. They do not depend upon the will of men—whether rulers or parliaments—as do wars. Revolutions are the result of internal unwholesomeness—disease rooted in the body politic, too deep to be poulticed out by ameliorating reforms. The Russian revolution would be viewed as a world catastrophe were it not that the disease, of which the revolution is but a symptom, is infinitely more of a world menace. That disease is autocracy. Autocracy is a system of government incompatible with twentieth-century civilization. Reforms which are reconcilable to Russian autocracy are inadequate to meet the present needs of the Russian people, and the meeting of these needs necessitates reforms of such far-reaching and radical a nature, that autocracy cannot admit them and continue to exist. Further, certain reforms and fundamental requirements are now so demanding and so acute that autocracy cannot much longer stand out against them. The period of transition from autocracy to constitutionalism, republicanism, or whatever the ultimate form of government accepted in Russia shall be, we call revolution. The word has no arbitrary meaning. It simply designates a period of national upheaval and struggle. In this sense the Russian revolution may be said to have come to a head on “Bloody Sunday,” January 22, 1905, and will culminate only with the capitulation, or overthrow, of autocracy. The abyss toward which the Russian government is now tending is but the Nemesis of history.

The constitution which was wrung from the hands of the emperor on the 30th of October, 1905, when the rising tide of revolution threatened the very palace gates, is being gradually modified and withdrawn piece{xix}meal, and if the emperor has his way not a vestige of it will long remain. The fundamental rights of men, which it pretends to guarantee the Russian people, are as non-existent in the Russia of 1906 as they were in 1806, before the first faint mutterings of the coming storm had been heard. Not one, but all, of the guaranteed rights of that manifesto have been withdrawn under so-called “temporary” laws and regulations, and under the cloak of military law. The rights of free speech, writing, assemblage, inviolability of person and home, still remain utopian dreams of a distant day. This manifesto clearly and unequivocally guaranteed “freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of public assembly, and real inviolability of personal rights.” And yet of the approximately 486 members of the first Duma—the chosen representatives of the Russian people—one (Professor Hertzenstein) has been murdered by the “Black Hundred”; one priest excommunicated; two members have been beaten; ten are in hiding; five have been exiled; twenty-four are in prison; thirty-three have been arrested and searched; and one hundred and eighty-two are under indictment on the charge of treason.[1] An obviously anomalous situation.

“If a strong, central government becomes disorganized, if inefficiency, or idleness, or above all, dishonesty, once obtain a ruling place in it, the whole government body is diseased.”[2] No modern state, save Turkey, is more universally honeycombed with official inefficiencies and corruption than Russia, and even Turkey’s central government to-day represents more solidity than the Russian. The only possible justification for despotism{xx} of any character is in its actual power, and in its fruits. Military despotism in Russia not only broke down, but was hopelessly shattered by the inglorious and ignominious war with Japan. The hold that autocracy once maintained on the Russian people then loosened. It has been steadily weakening ever since Tsushima and the fall of Port Arthur, followed by the shadow of Mukden, which passed westward across the empire. Dishonesty and corruption stamps every one of Peter’s fourteen bureaucratic ranks. The war disclosed an enormous extent of thievery in all departments of the service. Especially sensational revelations came to light in connection with the Red Cross, where the funds were most flagrantly misappropriated—a portion of the spoils even going to the grand dukes. So recently as January, 1907, the Assistant Minister of Interior, Gourko, was involved in one of the most outrageous scandals in all the annals of Russian corruption—namely, the misappropriation of a large per cent. of one of the all too inadequate appropriations of money for the relief of the starving peasants.

A state eaten with official rottenness; an emperor attempting not only to rule but to do the thinking for 142,000,000 of people; an economic condition of such a character that annual famine falls like a pall over vast areas (in the winter of 1906-7 taking within its grasp 30,000,000 of men, women, and children); an army spotted with disaffection; a navy almost chronically mutinous; a people held in artificial tranquillity, through the terrorism of martial law, which now spreads over four fifths of European Russia; a critical financial situation, impending bankruptcy within and the largest foreign loan in history to eventually meet,—these are some of the elements of the Russian situation of the{xxi} present time which must be met by reforms involving changes so complete as to amount to revolution.

At the beginning of 1907 probably 90 per cent. of the people of Russia were opposed to the present government, for during the past two years even the peasants have had opinions of their own, based on their loss of faith in the “Little Father.” But reigning circles have all of the organized armed force of the country at their command, and so peculiarly effective is the system of discipline employed, that against the unarmed population even of overwhelming superiority in point of numbers, this position is tenable for a surprising time. On the other hand, a trifling incident might turn the scales in a night. In a phrase used by Professor Miliukoff, the Russian situation to-day presents: “An incompetent government opposed by a thus far incapable revolution.” The government, unable itself to administer or to rule, is yet able to disorganize the ranks of revolution and to terrorize into inactivity a large portion of the country. The revolution, at the same time, while unable to muster open organization of fighting strength sufficient to overthrow the government, is able to harass and embarrass the government at every point and gradually to force it further and further into an impasse from which it can never emerge.

During the year 1906, according to official figures, more than 36,000 people were killed and wounded in revolutionary conflict; over 22,000 suffered in anti-Semitic outbreaks, most of which were promoted by governmental agents; over 16,000 so-called agrarian disorders occurred. Political arrests were so constant that during at least two months of the year—January and July—the aggregate number of men and women dragged from their homes and imprisoned or exiled was esti{xxii}mated at 25,000 per month. Late in the summer of 1906 Premier Stolypin inaugurated the drumhead field courts-martial, which became immediately so active that according to an official statement issued on March 5, 1907, 764 persons had been executed—an average of five daily.

These figures loom large indeed when it is recalled that in France, during the Terror, only 2,300 heads fell from the guillotine block, and that during the entire French Revolution only about 30,000 lives were sacrificed.

Here is clear indication of constant activity on both sides. In spite of this loss of life, this spent and often misspent energy, unnumbered crimes against generations unborn, it must be admitted that the progress of revolution is never comparably swift to the movement of wars. By the very nature of revolutionary struggles they must drag. In England the Revolution lasted from 1640 to 1689; in France twelve years of constant conflict and struggle were followed by decades of unrest and periodic disturbance; in Italy the fight dragged on from 1821 till 1870; and so will the Russian revolution be prolonged. Compared with the revolutionary movements of history, however, Russia is making rapid progress. The stupendousness of the Russian situation, with a heterogeneous population of 142,000,000 of people scattered over an empire which includes one sixth of the territory of the world, makes an almost unreckonable problem—infinitely more vast and more complicated than the situation in France in 1789.

There are many available books in English, French, and German which present the conditions of Russia on the eve of revolution. The task which I assume is to present a picture of Russia in revolution. The year 1906 may be accepted as a typical revolutionary year.{xxiii} Between January and December of that year I traveled through every section of European Russia, Poland and the Caucasus, and a part of western Siberia. Of the spectacular and dramatic events which characterized the year, I witnessed not a few, but the really significant features of the year are the not less intense phases of the social and economic disturbances, and these I aim to make clear to the average reader.

In thus attempting to present, as it were, a cross section of the revolution, I undertake not so much a difficult task, as one which demands peculiar opportunities and advantages. To forestall natural queries, therefore, I may be permitted to state that my own point of view has been uniquely varied. Shortly after my arrival in St. Petersburg influential friends, affiliated with the court, made it possible for me to join a group of fourteen Cossack officers who were about to journey through the Caucasus. Most, if not all, of these men had formerly been officers of guard regiments and had been temporarily assigned to a Cossack regiment for the war, in order that they might have opportunity to distinguish themselves, thus paving the way for speedy promotion. The commander of the regiment, who was the chief of our party, was an aide-de-camp to the Czar. My particular host was a Georgian prince who has since rejoined his regiment, which is attached to the person of the Empress. To be an officer or even by birth a member of the court party does not naturally preclude liberal or even revolutionary sympathies, but it so happened that all of the officers who made up this little company were staunch supporters of the Czar and of autocracy. All that I witnessed of race clashes; of the pacification of insubordinate villages; the devastation of districts which should have been fertile and{xxiv} prosperous; of pillage, and loot, and the violation of the laws and customs adopted by civilized nations for international warfare, I witnessed, as it were, from the inside. Protected by the officer’s uniform which I wore, I rode with the Cossacks, entered their barracks freely under circumstances where any ordinary traveler would not have been permitted to have passed the lines. I was even accorded the privilege of using my camera at will. Through Great Russia and the provinces I passed as an ordinary traveler, provided with the usual letters of sanction, and permits from central and local authorities, but without special introductions.

In St. Petersburg and Moscow during the session of the first Duma I cultivated the acquaintance of the “intellectuals” who at that time bade fair to be a dominant force in Russia. Men of the type of Professor Paul Miliukoff, Maxime Kovalevsky, Dr. Loris-Melikoff, and other thinkers and scholars who would, if they could, lead Russia through her period of regeneration and reorganization by confining the struggle to the halls of Parliament, dreading as they do, and distrusting bloodshed and civil war. After the dissolution I affiliated almost entirely with the avowedly revolutionary parties. I cultivated members of the military organization and with them visited the barracks at Kronstadt and elsewhere, where I witnessed conspirative revolutionary meetings of soldiers and sailors. Through the courtesy of a local governor I was permitted to visit in prison the most noted terrorist of the year in Russia, Marie Spiradonova; and later, through my revolutionary connections, I established communications with the more active fighting organization known to the world as “The Terrorists.” With their introductions as well as with the introductions given me by the constitutionalists of{xxv} the Duma, in the late summer and early autumn I traveled eastward through Great Russia, across the tremendous famine belt, passed the Urals and entered Siberia, returning to St. Petersburg across Perm, Vyatka, and Vologda,—provinces of northern Russia. My sole aim during all these journeyings was to acquire as nearly as I could an accurate picture of Russia in revolution. My purpose now is to present as nearly an accurate and truthful a picture of what I saw and of what I learned as possible. When one has witnessed at close quarters the devastations of villages by the army; when one has seen with his own eyes unarmed men, women, and children of tender years shot by soldiers, torn and maimed by swords and bayonets; when one has acquired absolutely an overwhelming proof of official responsibility for massacre; when one has seen homes burned indiscriminately and merely “suspected” revolutionists exiled without even the forms of a trial, one cannot speak with any degree of sympathy for the government which stands behind all of these things. Yet I strive to the uttermost to be fair to that side and to present as cogently as one can the elements of truth to which the government still clings. The point of view throughout is that of an American who is not unmindful of the dramatic elements of the fight nor of the picturesque; and frequently romantic environments of the struggle; at the same time it is of one whose deepest interest lies in the social and economic causes which lie at the bottom of the whole vast movement, and whose previous training has fitted him to watch with a clearer perception perhaps than is usually given to the casual traveler, or newspaper correspondent, the progress of the social and economic development through this period of storm and stress.{1}{xxvi}



“Nous ne supposons
rien, nous ne proposons
rien, nous exposons.”




The white terror—My first conspiracy—A frontier episode—A mixed company—“Vive la Revolution!”—The “Quiet Capital”—A courtesy to Americans—A friend’s narrow escape—A midnight incident—Early bewilderment—Witte “more a stratagem than a man”—The ministerial crisis—The deposed minister—Significant telegrams from the provinces—Off to the Caucasus.

THE wave of revolution which swept over Russia in the year of grace 1905 culminated in a series of insurrections during that week of December which is celebrated throughout the western world in sacred memory of the birth of the Prince of Peace. As the dawn of 1906 crept reluctantly across the torn and disintegrating empire of the czars, there was inaugurated a reign of reaction unparalleled since the melancholy days of ’81 which followed the assassination of Alexander II. Russia named this period of shadow The Repression. The people called it the White Terror. Into this lugubriousness, whatever it be called, I was about to enter. In Berlin I lingered a day or two. Even when a bright northern sun fell not unkindly upon the German capital I could not wholly shake off the dis{4}quieting feeling that I dare say most foreigners experience when about to cross the Russian frontier for the first time.

Hordes of Russians were pouring into the city. It seemed that every family who could spare the railroad fare was sending its most beloved members across the borders of the Land of Ominous Promise. According to the Berlin police-records as many as ten thousand sometimes arrived in a single day.

The good Herr proprietor of the Gasthaus where I was quartered came to my room to implore me to reconsider entering the country at so disturbed a time. In his hand he brought, for my edification, and as a warning, a copy of the following notice which was being posted throughout a certain district I would pass on the way to St. Petersburg, commanded by one Colonel Jablonsky. A fleeing Russian had smuggled it out to help him dissuade rash travelers about to enter his country:

I, the manager of the movements of troops, request that energetic measures be taken. Bullets and bayonets must be widely used without any fear for the consequences, if any agitators be seen. If the workmen do not let the locomotives go from the “depot” shoot them. Traffic must be established by evening. I repeat again, do not spare bullets and bayonets.

The machinists who live at the government quarters are to be asked three times to accompany the locomotive, and if they only open their mouths to demur, shoot them on the spot and turn their families out into the street.

Manager of the movements of troops,

(Signed) Jablonsky.

There may have been more bark than bite to this Jablonsky; yet his proclamation suggested anything but a peaceful railway journey.

Toward ten o’clock that evening my luggage was{5} transferred to a cab, and as I appeared in the hotel doorway my friend, the Herr proprietor, once more came forward.

“To-day it is quiet, yes. But to-morrow—,” and the expressive shrug of his fat German shoulders eloquently vouched for his genuine concern for my welfare—or his pocketbook—who shall say which?

The luxurious comfort of the wagon-lits soon dispelled the nervousness created by my stay in Berlin, and the next forenoon, as we rattled across the snow-screened plains of the north, I serenely accepted the counsel of a Russian fellow-traveler and deliberately ripped off the binding of a certain “forbidden” book which I carried, that I might wrap the printed pages about my body, next to my underclothing, to escape its confiscation. The book was Peter Kropotkin’s “Russian Literature,” which I thought I might find a useful book of reference.

The last station in Germany was passed at noon. From here on our speed was noticeably lessened. We rolled noisily past the frozen fields which lie in the narrow strath that marks the dividing-line between the two countries. An ice-bound creek running through the strath was crossed by a small trestle. Close by this miniature bridge a Russian soldier in the characteristic coarse brown coat presented arms. As I looked out upon him I laughingly touched my cap in salute, and his peasant face broke into a broad grin that fairly beamed of friendliness. That smile softened my crude, preconceived notion of Russian soldiers many degrees, and during the thousands of miles that I was presently to travel in the Frozen Kingdom, I always remembered the smile that greeted me when first I crossed the border, and it was rarely indeed that I did not find a cordial response{6} where I spoke a friendly word, or extended a friendly hand.

At Wirballen we changed trains, passed the customs, surrendered our passports for examination and viséing, and submitted to whatever other routine the officers required. Gendarmes swarmed everywhere. The prominence of their arms excited my interest. Swords clanked noisily at their heels, striking the ground with each step they took, large revolvers were attached with threatening convenience to their belts, and always outside of their handsome, gray, winter coats.

The delay here was characteristically tedious. Hours were consumed in despatching business which after all was slight in bulk, but unduly weighted by red tape. Aside from the “dangerous” literature which was securely fastened about my body, I had nothing dutiable, so I thought I could safely expedite the examination for myself in order that I might be an unharassed spectator on this, my first, Russian scene. To accomplish this I innocently offered a Customs Inspector a small piece of silver, which was vehemently refused. Mr. Inspector informed me in a loud voice that he could not think of taking money from an individual for doing what the government paid him for doing. A moment later his back was turned, and a thin ugly hand stole between two of my grips and the half-closed fingers twitched expressively toward the palm. The man’s eyes were on his superior. I dropped a modest coin into his hand, and the same instant a Russian standing next me dropped a much larger coin—gold in fact—into the same palm. The man started in visible surprise and excitedly snapped shut my bags without so much as glancing at them. As he did so he muttered something to me under his breath, in Russian, which I could not understand, but my{8}{7}

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Moscow barricades


neighbor—he of the lavish tip—said, sotto voce: “Take two of my bags along with yours.” The meaning of this was not at the moment clear to me, but I meekly complied with the request, and ingenuously submitted the stranger’s grips to the checking officials as if they were my own. Had the man been an absolute stranger I might not have followed his directions so readily, but he was the same man who had showed me how to carry my book so as to escape detection.

Not till the train had actually left the Wirballen station did the man come to claim his luggage. Then he lingered to talk awhile and we became friendly to the point of confidence. Darkness had settled deeply down over the outside world before he left my compartment, and we were running across wide, open fields occasionally broken by forests of fir, into which the engine belched bright sparks from the soft sticks that in Russia are burned instead of coal. My companion watched the sparks scattering against the trees and settling on either side of our steel pathway, and made some allusion to the sparks of liberty that even then were scattering across all Russia, settling around and in every town and village from the Baltic Sea to the waters of the Orient. The man’s eyes flashed, hardly less bright than the darting flecks of flame outside the window. He found a sympathetic listener, and it was then we warmed toward each other and he told me the contents of the bags that I, so innocently, had smuggled safely into the country. They contained hand-grenade models, phials of high explosives and several innocent Browning revolvers. I cannot say that I regretted then, or have I since, this, my first humble service to the revolution.

On this train destined for St. Petersburg there was no other American traveler, but there were several Russians{10} who spoke in English and any number who understood French, so that I had intercourse with many of my fellow-passengers in addition to the revolutionist who now called me “comrade.”

The French Revolution brought into popular usage the word “citizen,” but the Russian revolution has popularized the word “comrade”; and comrade is surely the warmer, the heartier, and the more inspiring.

“What do you think about the plans for the Duma?” I asked of an army surgeon who spoke English.

“I do not think,” was the reply. “The Dutch have a proverb, ‘Nothing thought, nothing done.’ I have learned not to think in this country.”

Later on I succeeded in drawing another man into conversation on the subject. In the midst of the discussion a gentleman entered our carriage, and as he sat down directly opposite us, I thought to include him in the conversation, so told him the drift of our talk. He stared blankly at me a moment and said: “Is there good sledging in Petersburg now, do you think?”

I saw the point and changed the subject. A few minutes later he leaned close to me and said: “I should beg your pardon, but I left the adjoining carriage because the passengers began to talk about politics. Once I was in a theater in Petersburg witnessing a performance of Hamlet. I had a seat in one of the galleries. Two peasants presently came in and sat near me. They removed their greatcoats and their boots. They made themselves comfortable for the evening. But when Hamlet was trying the blade of his sword for the duel, one peasant said to the other: ‘To-morrow morning at five o’clock we leave Petersburg to return to our homes. Is it not so?’ ‘Yes,’ replied the other. ‘Then we must get out of this,’ added the first, ‘for see, they are going to fight. They

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RUSSIA; Mr. Durland’s Route of Travel

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now have their swords out, and if we do not get away we shall be held as witnesses.’ And they left the theater. Those peasants were wise.”

Having an American passport I did not feel it necessary to be as wary as the peasants, and, being anxious to get as many expressions of opinion as possible, I soon went into the adjoining carriage to occupy the place left by this man who had told me the story. In the carriage I found a Polish opera-singer, a fiery young man in the uniform of a student of jurisprudence, a merchant of Archangel, an attaché to a Russian Embassy in a European capital, and an army officer. I had not been long there when the opera-singer and the student grew very free in expressing their determination to spare no effort to overthrow the present government.

“Now the time is not quite ripe,” they said. “Not to-day, but soon. The Duma? There will be no Duma. There cannot be a Duma. The government has not the money, and even if it had it could never be. Russia will be aflame before the Duma meets.”

The student was a very intense fellow. His voice fairly rang with the determination of a man consecrated to a cause.

“My word,” said the officer to me, “these two will be arrested this very hour if the gendarme appears. That student chap cares not whether he dies to-day or to-morrow.”

“Bravo!” I cried, curious for the officer’s reply. Instantly his face sobered.

“Hush, man! Do you forget you are now in Russia?”

I laughed unbelievingly, and the attaché who was sitting next to me and who had been listening said: “Let me tell you a little story. Once I was in a village church when an old woman suddenly made a scene in the gal{12}lery. She was carried down-stairs and into the air, where a crowd gathered about her. ‘What is it?’ ‘What is the matter?’ we all asked her. Amid her tears and with shortened breath she said: ‘I was in the gallery. I had no prayer-book, so I asked the sexton to give me one. He went down-stairs and handed one up to me from below.’ ‘Well?’ ‘He stood on the floor and handed me the book—and I was in the gallery.’

That would be impossible, woman,’ we said. ‘No man could reach that distance.’

But I say he did. He did hand it to me,’ protested the woman. At last an old body on the edge of the crowd exclaimed: ‘It could not be the churchman. It was surely the devil.’

“The excited one grew calm then, and after a minute said quietly: ‘Perhaps it was. It is so hard, sometimes, to tell who is man and who is devil.’

“Remember that, sir, as long as you are in Russia—it is hard to tell who is man and who is devil.”

The discussion raged hot till near midnight. Only the officer remained silent. He could not speak. He dared not—then. He listened intently and his eyes often glistened with interest. At last he took from his grip a bottle of liquor and a traveling drinking-cup. Filling the cup he held it high above him and in a voice that sounded to me full of hollow mockery shouted: “Vive la Russie!” The carriage suddenly fell silent. The student evidently hesitated whether to speak his defiance or not. I felt confident that the officer was heart and soul with the sentiments of the student, so I ventured to murmur, distinctly, but not too openly: “Vive la Revolution!”

The glass was near his lips, but at my words he paused, and, leaning toward me, whispered:{13}

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Moscow barricades



“That is better, but not so loud, please.” And then, this man, the Russian wearing the uniform of the Czar, drank to the toast—not of “la Russie”—but “la Revolution”!

Punctually at eight-thirty the next morning we rolled into the so-called Warsaw station in the “Quiet Capital,” and I drove directly to a hotel where friends awaited me. Outwardly, St. Petersburg preserved that appearance of calm which makes the city one of the most charming in Europe.

I arrived on Sunday. The bells of St. Isaac’s and the Kazan Cathedral and a score of lesser churches (but not lesser bells) clanged and boomed through the crackling frosty air. Myriad little sledges drawn by little horses scurried through the streets, and on the Morskaia that afternoon aristocracy drove—as madly, as carelessly, and as undisturbed as it drove that memorable Sunday just one year before when in the Winter Palace Square, just close by, Father Gapon’s procession of unarmed working-men were fired upon by the troops of the emperor—their “Little Father!”—as though they were an enemy upon a battle-ground. Impending doom may have dimmed, but it did not darken, the brightness of the city. Whatever of foreboding may have possessed the hearts and minds of the people, there was an outward show of gaiety that was a revelation to me—until I remembered the ball at which French officers danced on the eve of Waterloo; and the festivities of Port Arthur which continued even after the little yellow men had begun to pelt the fatal hand-grenades straight to the heart of Russia’s military prestige.

That night, in company with an American friend, I dined at Palkine’s restaurant on the Nevskii Prospekt. A Rumanian orchestra in native dress was playing a{16} wild, gipsy air when we entered, but as we sat down the music, in a great burst of ecstatic sound, ceased. My companion remarked: “We are already recognized as Americans—now watch.” Almost instantly the swarthy players began the familiar strains of “The Star Spangled Banner,” and followed it with the stirring tune of “Dixie.” At the close we acknowledged the attention of the orchestra and the leader made us a proper bow. American airs are always popular in Russia, and Americans were being especially courted at that moment. Talk of an “impending bankruptcy” was in the air. Negotiations were then under way for floating a new loan in Europe, but these had not progressed far enough for any one to be sanguine. Indeed, the revolutionists and the liberals were still hopeful that the government would find a new loan in Europe impossible, consequently, in official circles the possibilities of finding money in America were being considered. There were not above twoscore Americans all told in St. Petersburg at that time (1906), counting the diplomatic corps, correspondents, and business men, so it was an easy matter to treat all with rare courtesy.

“Why do they not play the Russian national hymn?” I asked of my friend before we left the table.

“Because the national air of Russia, like the ‘Marseillaise,’ is prohibited,” he replied. And thereupon he told me of how, a little while before, he had been one night in a famous St. Petersburg restaurant called “The Bear,” when, during the playing of the national hymn, a guard officer had shot and killed a man ostensibly because he lolled over the back of his chair instead of standing erect, squarely on both feet. The police authorities, fearing further disturbance of a similar nature, immediately prohibited the playing or singing of the national air!{17}

It was nearly midnight when my friend and I returned to our hotel, but there we found other friends still up. Hardly had we laid off our greatcoats when the door was thrown open and in rushed a common acquaintance—a Russian—tremendously excited, but radiant. He had been with a group of intellectuals in a home just around the corner. Suddenly the police appeared and placed all present under arrest. Only our friend escaped, and he through some clever ruse. While he was still relating to us his experience we heard the sound of singing, in the street below, and as we went to the window caught the words of a favorite revolutionary hymn. My blood stirred in my veins when I learned that the singers were being led away to prison, and I thought then, as I often thought later, after wide experience in Russia, that few things on earth are more thrilling than the sound of voices under such circumstances—brave men and women marching through frozen streets, often half-clad, to prison, or tied to Cossack saddles being dragged to tortures, and fearlessly, gloriously singing the words of freedom.

Sleep was slow in coming to my pillow that first night I spent in St. Petersburg. My mind was in a whirl in the vain endeavor to shake free of the conceptions of Russia gained before ever I crossed the frontier. Already I realized that, while Russia might be just as bad as most foreigners think it, it is bad in a different way. And whatever dangers may exist for the traveler in the interior, St. Petersburg, at least, was as secure (to the stranger) as Berlin, Paris, or New York.

One week later the confusion of impressions was even greater. Reports had come in, during these seven days, of clashes between the military and the people in forty-{18}eight provinces. The atmosphere of uncertainty was more intense. Conditions seemed to be ripe for almost any kind of a disaster—imperial insolvency, barricade fighting in the streets, army or navy mutiny, general insurrection—and yet nothing of consequence actually happened. The cabinet crisis grew more acute, it is true. Witte—who has been called “more of a stratagem than a man”—was said to be in perpetual deadlock with M. Durnovo, his unscrupulous minister of interior, and those who had access to the premier told of how this greatest of Russian political adventurers would sit at his desk, in silent despair, toying with his glasses, frequently snapping them in two—sometimes a dozen pair a day.

The second morning after my arrival I was accorded an interview with M. Timirassiroff, whose demission was just announced, because of his liberal tendencies.

M. Timirassiroff had been for many years an admirer and supporter of Count Witte—whom he several times spoke of to me as “a great man”—but he now believed that Witte’s secretiveness, and lack of decisiveness, even of ordinary courage, was ruining his power and perhaps blasting his career.

“A Bismarck goes straight through his difficulties to the goal he has before him. Count Witte goes around his,” said M. Timirassiroff.

The deposed minister also dwelt upon the impractical method of administration then in vogue. Under the existing system each minister reports directly to the emperor, and the prime minister has no way of learning the character of the report of his individual ministers unless they choose to tell him—which in the case of Witte they seldom did. Witte, consequently, preserved a holy silence before his ministers in regard to his own policies. A premier who persistently declines to share{19} with his cabinet information upon which he bases his policies naturally fails to obtain unanimous support.

“I would say to Count Witte,” said M. Timirassiroff, “how can I subscribe my name to that which I know nothing about?”

“You, sir,” the premier would reply, “are occupied with your own department, your own ministry, you cannot know all the cards.” (A favorite phrase with Witte.)

“If I do not know all the cards, then show them to me. I am not merely head of my ministry, I am also a member of your cabinet.”

This Witte never would do. And in the attitude of mutual suspicion, each member at sixes and sevens with the premier and with the other members of the cabinet, all working individually and often at cross-purposes; in this blind but truly Russian way the Witte ministry staggered on—to its fall. Similarly is Russia as a whole reeling toward the abyss. A ministry falls a thousand times more easily than a dynasty, but a dynasty following the same mad tactics that wrecks ministry after ministry must sooner or later collapse also. Follies that pass understanding are laid to the door of the house of Romanoff, and after the revolution had once broken over Russia, every serious person knew that the time element was all that remained as a subject for speculation. This is a big factor, however. The moment marked by this X stands elusively in the distance and between the present and it are weary miles that a nation must tramp, miles marked by many a mirage which like the vision of the oasis in the desert cruelly deceives the faint and exhausted traveler.

One week in St. Petersburg was enough for me to realize all this. The beginning of the end might be to{20}-morrow. Or, with equal likelihood, it might be years away. The temper of the people was such that nothing would be a surprise.

St. Petersburg seemed to reflect the atmosphere of Moscow, which still cowered and quivered from the severe and bloody repression that followed the magnificent fight her mere handful of armed citizens maintained on the barricades for nine days against disciplined troops. Suggestive messages, distorted and censored by government officials, kept coming in from different parts of the empire, the most disquieting, perhaps, from the Baltic provinces, for there General Orloff, “the butcher,” was pressing on with his expedition of “pacification.” Telegrams from Riga and other Baltic towns which leaked through the censor were one mournful chronicle of the “pacification”:

At the Staro-Gulben 20 peasants are shot dead, at Tirsen, 6, and at Sipolena, 2. At Novo-Pebalge an estate is burned down. At Staro-Pebalge a beautiful school building has been destroyed by shells. At the Volosts of Saukin and Noutt, 13 people were shot dead by the dragoons, and 20 peasants were whipped by the “Rozgie.” Troops set fire to the Library of one landlord and all the books were burned, he himself arrested, and his daughter punished by “Rozgie.”

In Wender district, when the people were burying a number of the “Volost” who had been shot by the dragoons, the cemetery was surrounded by the troops, and about 100 peasants taken and punished by “Rozgie.”

In the government of Kurland, 20 estates are burned down,—the inhabitants of which are mostly arrested. In Assorski Volosta, a teacher, M. Stapran, a student and an organist, and an officer—a deserter—were arrested. The first three were shot and the latter sent to Jacobstadt.

In Wenden the shooting of members of the new “Volostny Pravleny” is still going on, though the chief of the Wenden army, General Schiff, absolutely declared to the members of the “Volostny Pravleny” that none of them will be shot any more, without trial.



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The “Volksguard” of Salisburg

In the spring of 1906 the revolutionary movement had so far progressed in the Baltic Provinces that independent states were declared by the people in several places. In Salisburg the officials of the independent government and the People’s Guard were so confident of continued independence that they had themselves photographed. Later the troops of the Czar stamped out this revolt and a copy of the above photograph fell into the hands of the police who, through it, were enabled to run down all of these revolutionists and wholesale executions followed.


However, at Pebalga the troops shot 20 men and burned 10 estates.

At Bausk the dragoons shot Messrs. Blankenstein, Pitz, Rassman, and Friedman. They had orders to shoot in all 16 men, and hang a woman dentist, Rachel Wolpe. Not finding her at home the dragoons destroyed all her property. When they did not find Mr. Michelson, they tortured his wife. The latter took her baby in her arms and declared that she was prepared to die, but the dragoons left her alone and came the next day to torture her again for hours. However, they could not force the unfortunate victim to tell them where her husband had hidden himself.

And so on, through a column, sometimes through two columns.

Especially significant telegrams were daily pouring in from the Caucasus. There the wildfires of revolutionary activity were fiercely sweeping from the Black Sea to the Caspian; there the Cossacks—the bulwark of czarism—were in constant action.

One week to a day after my arrival in St. Petersburg I met in the Cave La Grave (a French restaurant much frequented by foreign newspaper correspondents) a friend, a gentleman of the court, who inquired:

“Are you interested in Cossacks? Would you like to visit the Caucasus with a party of Cossack officers?”

The infinite possibilities that such an opportunity as this offered fairly overcame me. My friend continued:

“My officer-brother’s regiment, whose commander is an aide-de-camp to the emperor, has just returned from Manchuria. Fourteen of the officers, with a proper escort, are about to make a long journey through the disturbed country in connection with the disbandment of their regiment, which had been drafted for war service only. If you care to join them I will telegraph them to wait for you.”

The telegram was sent. That night found me speeding{24} south toward the unconquered and unconquerable Caucasus, where the flower of the Russian army was hopelessly struggling to quench the flames of revolt with blood—the blood not only of men, but of women and children.{25}



Welcomed by officers of the guard—Being Cossackized—An interrupted sleep—Presentation to the governor-general—An amusing interview—The general’s vanity and how it was tickled—The story of the Cossacks—An Ingoosh brigand—An expedition into the mountains.

PRINCE ANDRONNIKOV, some time lieutenant in the Terskoi-Koubansky Cossack regiment, presently attached to the person of the empress, received me in Vladikavkas with a graciousness known only in the East—charming formality blended with cordial warmth—and I at once felt at home.

The prince was in the uniform of the Cossacks of the mountains. A kilted outer garment of gray, loose-fitting, but well cut, offered a pleasing background for what was to me a startling array of side-arms—a saber, a dagger, a revolver, and a row of rifle cartridges across the breast.

“You will be one of us across the Caucasus?” he said in exquisite French. “Our regiment is indeed honored.”

It was the noon hour when I presented myself to Prince Andronnikov, and the officers of his regiment were about sitting down to lunch. I was introduced to a score or more of them, charming fellows all, scions of some of the noblest families in Russia. The commander{26} of the regiment was Count Schouvoleff, who bore the distinction of being an aide-de-camp to the czar.

Russian officers enjoy the privilege of maintaining their headquarters in the hotels—if such there be—in the vicinity of the place where their troops are stationed. The hotel accommodations of Vladikavkaz being somewhat better than of the average town of similar size, I found my officer companions all most comfortably quartered. I was received with profuse cordiality and the charm of personality of all of them possessed me from the first moment. They all spoke excellent French and several perfect English—one, indeed, spoke English absolutely without accent and with a vocabulary far richer than my own. They apparently looked upon my joining them as school-boys look forward to a frolic. For, of course, my advent was celebrated in true Russian military fashion, by a dinner, which, to my still un-Russianized stomach, seemed to go on and on, rivaling the famous brook of poetry. When I had wrestled to master the names of my companions and had told them all the incidents worth recounting of my journey from St. Petersburg, a captain, Count Scherematiev, carried me off to a military tailor to have me measured and fitted for the Cossack uniform I was to wear on that long and eventful journey through the mountains. This uniform is extremely picturesque and far more comfortable than any military uniform I know, although its quaintness and exaggerated ferociousness suggests a time long gone by. A long, loose undergarment called a bishmet, tight-fitting around the neck, clinging to the body, and ending with a kind of short skirt effect at the bottom; above, another loose garment called a tcherkaska; riding trousers, and loose Circassian boots made of goose-skin. The color of the cloth used in this uni{27}form depends entirely upon the taste of the wearer. I chose black, though the Russians frequently prefer crimson, or gray, or brown. The hat surmounting this uniform, called a papakha, is made of lamb’s wool somewhat coarser than astrakhan, with a top of cloth colored blue or red according to the regiment to which the officer belongs. Our color was blue. Across the breast of the tcherkaska is a line of cartouches which ordinarily are of metal, and, being purely for ornamentation, are empty. Originally, however, this was the regular rifle cartridge belt and the soldiers to this day carry their cartridges here. The invariable accompaniment of the Circassian uniform is a dagger worn suspended from the belt exactly in the middle of the body. These daggers are often highly and beautifully ornamented with silver and gold hand-work by the Circassians of the Caucasus. At the left side hangs the Cossack saber, which differs somewhat in form from the swords worn by officers in other branches of the army. The handles of these sabers as well as the scabbards are, like the daggers, generally richly ornamented with carvings and beaded metal work. On the right hip the revolver is carried. Although these Cossack officers spend most of their lives on horseback, they wear no spurs.

When I had been amply measured, had selected the materials for the different garments of the uniform and bought a pair of goose-skin riding-boots, Captain Scherematiev took me to an arms shop to buy me a saber. Here we met with a piece of rare good fortune. The proprietor brought out a beautiful Circassian hand-worked Cossack sword that had been made expressly for a certain Cossack officer who had been killed only the day before! He would sell me the weapon at a reasonable price. I bought it with avidity, being in{28}deed fascinated by the exquisite workmanship of the ornamentation and the excellent temper of the blade. I had speedy assurance that I had made no mistake in purchasing it, for that very night an officer offered me exactly double what I had paid for it.

That night I dined alone, by preference, for I wanted a simple meal, and retired early, to rest from my long journey across the empire from St. Petersburg. About one o’clock in the morning a vigorous pounding at my bedroom door startled me into instantaneous wakefulness; lighting a candle I turned the key and opened the door to a police officer accompanied by several gendarmes. With profuse apologies in voluble French, the officer begged me to grant him the permission of examining my luggage and my papers. With all the graciousness I could master I assured my visitor that the unaccustomed privilege of a midnight search was a pleasure and a joy. I begged him to permit me to assist him in any way I could. After a superficial survey of my really innocent documents, he turned suddenly and said, “Now, monsieur, where is your revolver?” “I have none, sir,” I replied. The officer looked incredulous for a moment, then said in surprise: “Do you mean you have come to the Caucasus without a revolver?” “Yes,” I replied, “I have. Though as I am soon to adopt Circassian dress, I presume I shall be equipped with a revolver.” The officer was puzzled at this until I showed him my credentials and explained to him my reasons for coming to Vladikavkaz. Immediately his manner toward me changed completely and in a tone of real concern he told me that I must permit him to loan me one of his own revolvers until I secured one of my own, for he should feel very badly if any harm were to befall me while I was the guest of their{29} city, especially as I was to travel with the officers of the Terskoi-Koubansky regiment.

Taking a 38-caliber American revolver out of an inner pocket he laid it on the table and very courteously said:

“I know it is late, monsieur, but may I trouble you to accompany me to my office that I may give you extra cartridges?”

“Extra cartridges!” I exclaimed. “But this weapon is loaded. Surely I shall not be needing more than seven bullets before morning!”

“Pardon, monsieur. You are now in the Caucasus. It is always best to be prepared for anything. You will return here in half an hour, and you shall have an escort.”

To me the idea of getting out of bed at 1 A.M. to visit police headquarters for extra cartridges seemed preposterous, but I was gently coerced into assent. A mounted escort surrounded our carriage all the way to the headquarters, and when I returned with the cartridges, the escort clattered behind my cab.

Early next morning Andronnikov called for me to present me to the governor-general of the territory of the Terek—the ataman, as the chief of a Cossack district is called. This interview was one of the oddest experiences I had ever had. The roomy reception-hall of the official residence was crowded with people, mostly peasants, awaiting an audience with the ataman to present one or another grievance. The acting aide-de-camp recognized my friend and we were received without delay. The general was an oldish man with a brief gray beard, and metallic gray eyes whose glitter was emphasised by the strong glasses he wore. He was thick-set and heavy, not above medium height.{30}

The prince was received with marked respect, and when he had made his formal salutations he presented me as an American correspondent. He got no further. The general pushed back his chair, and, stepping toward me, asked in apparent anger if I knew a Mr. S——, an American merchant in a certain town in Siberia. I had never heard of the gentleman.

“Americans are not white!” he exclaimed. “They are not true.” Just what the general’s grievance was against Mr. S—— I could not discover, but his tirade against Americans in general and Mr. S—— in particular was heartfelt and prolonged, and neither Andronnikov nor I seemed able to turn the general to other topics. Suddenly he paused in his wrath and, looking me straight in the eye, asked: “You are a correspondent?” I replied affirmatively. “That is bad!” he answered emphatically. “You remember Mr. —— of the ‘London Times’?” The name was familiar to me, for this man had been asked to leave Russia for his plain speaking. The general then vented his feelings in regard to this man, and toward correspondents in general. Poor Andronnikov, my host, grew more and more confused and embarrassed till I suffered for him.

Suddenly, for a third time, the general changed the subject. This time he hurled his invectives against the Jews. “The Jews are at the bottom of all of Russia’s troubles,” he cried. “If we could settle the Jews we would tranquilize Russia.” I hastened to assure him that I was not a Jew, though in America there were many people who welcomed the Jews from Russia.

“You are not a Jew. No. But have you a courier?” I told him no, but I expected to secure one that day. “Then don’t get a Jew!” he warned. “If you do you{31} will both be killed!” As he went on, in his bitterness I realized again how deep-rooted is this hatred of the Jew in the minds and hearts of certain Russian officials, and why the responsibility for Jewish massacres is so seldom fixed. The general strode back and forth like a caged tiger. Twice he came so near to me that his breath was on my cheek. My discomfort was great and I was beginning to lose my temper. I wished heartily I had not come. At last I had an inspiration. Interrupting the general without apology, I exclaimed: “Your excellency is quite right. The problem of the Jew is a tremendous one. The firm and courageous way that you, sir, look at this vast question and the strength with which you approach it fills me with admiration. I shall tell the people of America about you, sir. America knows how great is Russia’s problem. I pray your excellency permit me to send a photograph of yourself to America—a photograph in this uniform, sir, with those medals on your breast—”

“This uniform?” put in the general. “You like this? Ah! But you should see me in my other uniform!”

“I would I might!” I replied with feeling. “I pray your excellency to permit me to come when you are wearing it!”

“Wait!” he shouted as he disappeared from the room. For a quarter of an hour the prince and I waited. Then the door was opened by an orderly, and the general entered, clad in a magnificent uniform. It was Circassian in style, and in color a rich royal purple. The prince and I both spent ourselves in admiration till the general resumed his seat and began to discuss the object of my visit. His whole attitude was altered and from this on I found him most kind, affable, and courteous. He did all that any man could to help me and make{32} easy my journey. He expressed satisfaction that I was interested in the Cossacks, when I asked him to tell me about this branch of the service. Who were the Cossacks? What were they? I did not know, although no word is more commonly on the lips in connection with Russia.

“Cossacks are the bravest, the truest we have,” he said. “It is a source of regret to all who know the Cossacks that so little is known about them in their home life, for the stories of the pogroms, the massacres, give so false a view of the Cossack as he really is.”

“I want to know him as he really is,” I replied; “that is why I have come so far at this time, and why I am so eager to travel with a party of Cossack officers through this marvelous country of the Caucasus.”

“If you will wait until I have received some deputations I will tell you much about them and then plan a trip to some of their villages for you,” said the general.

Andronnikov and I were both intensely relieved at the general’s change of manner, and I was deeply grateful for the opportunities he presented to me. Long afterward when Andronnikov and I would sometimes meet—in St. Petersburg and elsewhere—we would always have a hearty laugh over our reception at the hands of this crotchety old general, and of how he melted into winsome affability when we played on his ridiculous vanity.

While the deputations were being presented Andronnikov and I remained in an adjoining room, Andronnikov examining the various war trophies with which the room was stored, souvenirs for the most part of battles in the long, not-yet ended war to subdue the tribes of the Caucasus and bring the many peoples of that extraordinary region under the Russian yoke. I was silently framing questions about the Cossack that I would put to{33} the general when I got back to him. In regard to this strange friend of the czars I suppose I knew about as much as the average reader, but certainly no more, and my notions were all vague and shadowy. I had heard war critics condemn him as practically useless in battle, though useful for scout duty and skirmish work. I had heard it said that he makes a skilful artilleryman, but with a rifle is a notoriously poor shot. But then he is not a proper military man. Scientific soldiering is not his métier. “Irregular” cavalry, military people call him when he is mounted. Regular Cossack officers are apt to be snubbed and looked down upon by other officers because they are not subject to the same rigid tests that regular army officers must submit to, and the discipline which is traditional with soldiers has never been imposed upon the Cossack.

The Cossack is not a soldier, in the ordinary sense, though he is the main prop of the army. He is not a proper, thoroughbred Russian, though he is a loyal servant of the Czar. Cossack life and Cossack government is entirely independent, and the only official in the bureaucracy whom the Cossack recognizes is the minister of war.

The Cossack has all (and more) that the most radical revolutionists in Russia desire. The Cossacks, perhaps, are the largest body of practical communists in the world. Their land, their hunting-grounds, their fishing-preserves, their timber-tracks, are held in common, and no Cossack may fish or shoot or cut wood save by the order and permission of his community. At the same time his individual freedom is beyond that of any people living under the protection of civilization. Exempt from every obligation except one—service in arms. Their service is unique in system as well as in kind.{34}

Popularly the Cossack is a modern Caliban. To the world at large he is pretty much an enigma, but mostly a thing of evil. To the muzhik and the Jew the very name, Cossack, is a synonym of horror, a word instinct with terror, with plunder, rape, massacre; the looting of shops a game by the way and the burning of houses a night’s sport.

To the Czar and the government of Russia the name Cossack is very different; a word almost sacred. The Cossack is the bulwark of czarism, the guardian of autocracy. Without the Cossack, reactionary mandates would long have been impotent. Where there is a dangerous frontier to guard, the Cossacks are employed. Where martial law is prescribed, the brunt of the enforcement is left to Cossacks. Where a province or town is in revolt, the Cossacks are sent. And where people are shot down and cut down in numbers—unarmed men, women, and children—it is generally the Cossack who is charged with the responsibility.

Because the Cossack is so important to the Russian government, because he is so feared by the people at large, because of the uniqueness of his past in history and in modern life, and the originality of his mode of living, I wanted to form his near acquaintance. I wanted to know him, not merely as the war correspondent knows him, in the saddle, in the field, in the barracks; this, but this and much more—in his stanitza; in his home, among his fellows and his neighbors. With the officers of Terskoi-Koubansky regiment I would doubtless see a good deal, and from the inside, but I desired much more than this, and the old general in suggesting that I visit some of their villages gave me just the opportunity I desired.

When Andronnikov and I were recalled to the audi{35}ence-room I inquired of the general as to how long the Cossacks had been in the territory which he at present administered. He gave us a clear and concise account of Cossack history, telling us who they were, their several branches, and concluding by an extravagant recital of their virtues. The general spoke in French and I made no notes while he was speaking, but what he told me was full of interest. As nearly as I could remember it the general’s narrative was as follows:

The origin of the Cossacks dates back to the latter Middle Ages. The dominions of the kings of Poland and czars of Muscovy were not sharply defined, and between the territories was a wide stretch of “debatable” land. Here settled various bands of people who were, for one reason or another, wanderers on the face of the earth—some were outlaws and brigands—some were temporarily Bedouin—some were poor—all were in the nature of “squatters.” They either took the name or were dubbed “Kazak,” a word which in Tartar means freebooter, and in Turkish light-armed soldier, and the modern Cossack is largely a combination of these elements.

As the population of these debatable lands along the Dnieper increased, they spread out and took possession of other rivers, the Don and the Volga. In due course a system of simple government developed among them as a matter of convenience and necessity. This form of government has been perpetuated in nearly its original form almost to the present day, and much of it is still preserved without change.

As they increased in numbers, they found an occupation. From time immemorial the Tartars have invaded the provinces of what is known to-day as southeastern Russia, and so to protect their agricultural population along the steppe borders the kings of Poland and czars of Muscovy established military cordons, buildings, forts, and palisades, from which to beat back the invading bands. It was soon learned that the “Cossack” people who occupied the steppes beyond these cordons best knew how to cope with these semi-civilized Tartars. And so the forts and redoubts were manned by Cossacks who lent their services for pay, to the kings of Poland or the czars of Muscovy, without prejudice. Thus their organization and their independence gained recognition. Thus, too, guerilla warfare{36} early came to be their regular occupation. Being given to a degree of lawlessness themselves, they were, at times, not averse to mingling in friendly intercourse with the peoples whom at other times they were paid to fight.

Though originally the Cossacks came mostly from Moscow province and from Poland, they have mixed with the surrounding races till they have little ethnological unity. It was once common for the Cossacks to kidnap Tartar and Caucasian women, and thus there were introduced dark streams of blood which are still visible in the race. They have also mixed with the Mongolian Kalmuks from the country east of the Volga and taken on many of their characteristics. Nevertheless, they have all continued to call themselves Christians and to nurture enmity against the Mohammedans.

When the czars of Russia became supreme the Cossacks pledged their allegiance to them. If, however, it better suited their conveniences to disregard the wishes of the czar, they consulted only their own inclinations. They did not contribute to the royal coffers, but became allies rather than subjects,—allies who served for pay. On the other hand, the czars were not eager to claim them for subjects, and when the Cossacks on the Turkish frontier enkindled the wrath of the sultan, Russia repudiated them altogether and they were left to make their own defense against the Turks.

The Cossacks of the Dnieper and the Cossacks of the Don were the first of the large bodies of semi-military communities to gain the recognition of Poland and Russia, and the Cossacks of the Don still maintain preëminence over all the others. In spite of their treaties with other states having regularly organized and disciplined armies, the Don Cossacks never troubled to introduce military organization among themselves. They lived by shooting, fishing, trapping and marauding. To foster the martial spirit of all, agricultural pursuits were prohibited on penalty of death. As war is scarcely a perpetual occupation, laziness and drinking came to be fixed habits adopted in the interims of peace and maintained as deep-rooted characteristics.

The Dnieper Cossacks, or Zaporovians, as they were called from a word meaning people living “beyond the rapids,” lost their holdings during the reign of Catharine II, for very excellent reasons. During Peter’s wars with the Swedes these people allied themselves with the army of Charles XII of Sweden. The government thought to punish them by depriving them of their independence. The Dnieper people resisted until Catharine forcibly broke up their com{37}munities. Some fled to Turkey. Others were given the territory of the Kuban. The Volga Cossacks, who had also sold their services to the enemies of Russia, were less obstinate and accepted the dictum of Russia and removed to the Terek, where the original “mountain” or “border” Cossacks were already established. Here Catharine assured them they would be left free and unmolested as long as they served Russia’s interests against the marauding tribes of the Caucasus. And from this time to the present these Cossacks of the Caucasus have rendered signal service along this most difficult frontier.

The general concluded his story with a tremendous eulogy of the virtues of Cossacks—all of which I listened to but reserved my judgment upon.

As we were about to take our leave I ventured to ask the General if I might not bring a photographer with me when next I came to photograph him in his magnificent purple uniform! For an instant I almost regretted having said this, but the childish delight of the man at the suggestion banished my fears. An hour was set for the next forenoon and with this Andronnikov and I left. The remainder of the day I spent with my officer friends in convivial leisure. In the early evening I went to my room to make arrangements with a man who spoke several of the languages of the district, to serve as my orderly and courier.

About nine o’clock we were interrupted by a rapping at the door, followed by the entrance of a handsome young fellow in Circassian dress. Suspended from his belt was the usual dagger, beautifully ornamented with silver. There was an attractiveness about the fellow that completely captivated me before he had spoken a word. There was a clearness and frankness of expression in his bright, brown eyes that inspired immediate trust. He was not tall, but he carried his shoulders well, and one felt the dashing spirit that must live under his{38} dark, though scarcely swarthy skin. He bowed with that graceful dignity which sometimes characterizes Eastern peoples. I motioned him to a seat. He bowed again, thanked me, but remained standing. My courier talked with him for some minutes, then turning to me said: “This man is an Ingoosh who has come to you on a strange errand. It seems that in his village he has won the title of champion sword-dancer. He says he can do remarkable things with swords and daggers; passing through town to-day he heard that an American was here, and so he has come to you.” “Yes, I am an American,” I replied, “but what can I do for the champion sword-dancer of an Ingoosh village?” My interpreter smiled as he replied: “He says he has heard that in America there are café chantants where sword-dancing would be paid for very well; he wanted to know if this is true and if you will tell him the way to New York.” From the threshold of Asia to the vestibule of America seemed a long, long way to me that night, but instantly it occurred to me that this man offered the very opportunity I had been looking for—to explore the Ingoosh, the Circassian, the Kabardine and Ossetine villages that lie among the mountains, at the same time I was visiting the Cossack villages. So I told my interpreter to tell him that if he would take me safely through the district which I indicated and bring me back to Vladikavkaz, I would outline the journey to New York with the probable cost, and that I would provide him with adequate introductions to people in the city who would befriend him upon his arrival; also I would pay him well, five rubles a day, for his services, and a bonus at the end of the trip if all went well. There was no doubting the man’s keenness to get to New York; and money in anything like the amount I offered him seldom comes to a{39}

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The Governor-General of the Terek



Circassian of his station—at least earned money. That the man hesitated and appeared in doubt as to whether he would accept my proposition or not, aroused my wonder. At last he spoke: “He says it is very perilous,” my courier translated. At that I knew I could rely upon him; if he considered my risk in view of the offer I made him, I was confident of his sincerity. Of course I had explained to him that I would assume the complete disguise of the Circassian and that I would assume all of the risks of the journey, provided he did all that I could reasonably expect him to do, to forestall unnecessary danger. After further pondering my interpreter translated: “He would like to see you in Circassian dress before he answers.” We thereupon procured a complete outfit, which I put on. The man surveyed me critically from all sides, and finally, smiling broadly, came toward me with extended hand. His grasp was warm and firm, and had any lingering suspicion of the man remained in my mind, it would have then vanished. It was decided that we should not go on horseback, but rather in a wagon, as it would probably be simpler for them to screen my identity if I were reclining in a cart than if I were astride a horse. My Ingoosh from this moment on was fertile in suggestion. He knew just where to procure the horses. In telling me where they were to be had he related the following incident:

There is a custom among the Circassians, still in vogue, that when a man chooses a wife and the match fails to meet with parental approval, the bride is stolen in the night. My Circassian friend had found a girl in a neighboring village, the queen of all the girls he had ever seen. He determined to take her to wife. The girl had already told him that he was her prince. But the family would not sanction it. Therefore my friend had scoured the coun{42}try for the swiftest horses in all the region. A friend, a driver in the town, had four horses that he vowed could not be overtaken. In the night they drove into the village where lived the Circassian bride to be, and, pausing before her house, my friend had rushed to where he knew she was awaiting him, and gathering her in his arms sprang to the wagon, and the four horses were urged to their utmost. In twenty minutes they had put eight versts between them and the village. And I might have these same horses and the same driver, for my expedition!

The following day my interpreter, whose caution seemed to me quite excessive, begged me not to depend too absolutely on my brigand friend. He believed him to be honest, but it might be as well not to have this driver. And instead he suggested a man whom he knew was the assistant ataman, or sub-chief, of a Cossack stanitza remote in the territory of the Terek, and to reach this stanitza we would pass through the Circassian and Ossetine villages I desired to visit. Our final arrangement was made with him.

We rumbled out of Vladikavkaz the second morning after I made the acquaintance of my brigand-guide—for he was a brigand. The road selected led directly into the mountains; Kazbek, higher than Mount Blanc, rose immediately before us. At the outset we started through a valley running southeast and northwest and at an angle of about forty-five degrees to the east of the famous Route Militaire de Georgie, which crosses the Caucasus from Vladikavkaz to Tiflis. After ten versts the road became a mere trail, and as we ascended and passed the snow limit, even this was lost to my eye. Several times that day we passed through villages of Circassians. Mere hamlets, a handful of houses in each. One street of{44}{43}

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My host—Prince Andronnikov

Some of my officer companions


stone and mud, whitewashed, built with the usual roof of thatch and mud. Back of these houses another row, and back of these scattered huts. Cattle and pigs roamed familiarly in the spaces which separated the huts. The most striking feature of the Ossetine villages were the large curious-shaped water jugs carried by the women, seemingly fashioned of pewter. These jugs are large and are carried on the backs of the women to and from the springs and rivulets which are their water sources. There was nothing to attract the notice of the people in a springless cart jolting along the rough road, an armful of hay spread over the board bottom and three men, apparently natives, sitting thereon. The dress of the people in all of these villages was invariably characteristic. The silver handiwork of the Circassians is full of individuality and famed throughout southern Russia. The belts of both men and women, the bracelets and ornaments of the women, the daggers and other arms of the men, were all noticeable.

The bride of my brigand friend and guide interested me greatly when we finally came to visit his home. She was nineteen and did not look a day older. She spoke no Russian; only her native dialect. She proudly exhibited a mat worked with silver and golden thread, and a little wall watch-pocket of elaborate design, which were intended as gifts to one of the chief men of her village—the chief of one of the brigand bands, my guide explained to me. I was also shown a pair of baby slippers which she had worked for the youngest born of another important villager. She herself was buxom and attractive, and it was in nowise difficult to understand why my guide had set out upon his nocturnal expedition to capture her.

Sometimes we stopped for refreshment at houses{46} where either my brigand-guide or our Cossack driver was acquainted. At these places the food given us was generally coarse, as might be expected, but on the whole not bad. Coarse black bread; a kind of bread made of maize which tasted wholesome enough, and a pastry which consisted of two crusts, similar to a New England pie crust, but soggy and filled with raisins and preserved grapes. This seemed to be a delicacy highly appreciated, for there was evident pleasure and satisfaction on the part of the housewife who had made this pastry when we appreciated it by consuming many helpings.

In dress, in manner of living, the Circassians are perhaps the most pronounced types of any of the peoples inhabiting that polyglot district. A Caucasian will never suspect a Circassian of belonging to another tribe or race. If nothing else, the ornaments, and the manner of wearing them, distinguish them. The belts, for example, which are almost universally worn, are rich with silver ornamentation and hangings, and often washed in gold. These things offer a striking contrast to the poverty of the lives of the people. But in the Caucasus silver has small value.

During the next two days we traversed a rough and rocky road. More than once we forded streams full with water. Once the old roadway had entirely disappeared. Apparently it had been washed away by a recent freshet. There was naught for us to do but drive into the stream and follow its course for close on to a hundred and fifty yards. The flow of water was strong and swift and it was deep to the body of our cart and flush with the horses’ bellies. The water was straight from glaciers, and cold, like snow water.

The swift-running tawny Terek had been left far below and to the west. The trail passed into the forest,{47} where the chill of winter struck at our marrow, and we closed our bourkas tighter about us. Suddenly the forest ended abruptly and the open revealed the high valley and the snowy mountain, now overtopping us. “Here the Cossack country begins,” shouted my Cossack driver as we passed on to the plateau. As if in joy at coming once more unto his own, he lifted his rifle and, pointing to a tree fifty yards behind us, fired. The bullet sped true. Presently the trail forked with another trail, and the two became a rough road. A verst farther on the road passed under a crude wooden arch supported by gate-posts and entered the village—a Cossack stanitza, the first Cossack village I had ever visited, and, as it happened, this particular village had never before within memory of the oldest Cossack there been visited by any stranger.{48}



A Cossack village—An exhibition of horsemanship—An accident—How Cossacks are trained for service—Cossack local government—Basis of Cossack loyalty—Their attitude toward massacres—Cossacks of the Caucasus, like other tribes of the mountains, still unconquered—Back to Vladikavkaz.

THERE is nothing straggling about a Terek Cossack stanitza. The houses run as a line, east and west, north and south. A paling defines the line. Without the pale is the steppe and the forest, within is the village. There are no scattering houses to mark that the village is near. The fence surrounding the village like a kraal is broken at either end of the village by a huge double gate.

A sentry stood by the right gate-post as we entered the village of Terek, in the Province of Terek.

Over under the arch the wood seemed lost in a stretch of bog. Mud, black and oozy, tempted heavy pigs from the house yards, where they are wont to wallow. Pigs are not confined to pens in Russia: they run loose like dogs and chickens. But this is Russian and not characteristically Cossack. Narrow paths edged the house fences and people passing on foot worked slowly along this less muddy marge, sometimes clinging to the fence lest a misstep land them in muck, ankle deep, or, not improbably, knee deep.{50}{49}

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A Cossack house

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Interior of the above


Our wagon clung to the narrow pathway also. A wheel once sunk in the soft, black depths of the road would be difficult to free. Turning to the right near the center of the village we approached the great square, which, so I soon learned, is invariably the heart of the villages of the Mountain Cossacks. The distance from side to side was fully two hundred yards. In the square, somewhat to one side, the church. A large, white church with domes and turrets painted green, and these surmounted by crosses of gold which caught the glint of the sun and seemed to crackle with flashes of golden light, like some heliograph left exposed, but uncontrolled. The largeness of the square in so small a village amazed me. And I wondered why so large a free space was left. There was no paving here, but the earth was hard and trampled as by the hoofs of many horses. As we drew nearer, a neat iron railing, painted green, set upon a brick foundation and encircling the church, caught my eye. A furious clanging of bells, wild, loud, disordered, proved distracting. Then the church doors seemed to belch forth people—women and girls mostly, with a few old men. The girls were bedecked with color, as bright and varied as girls in an Italian village. Gaudy yellows and deep oranges, startling reds and soft blues. Kerchiefs, scarfs, and aprons. The horses were stopped that I might watch the procession. It was a pretty sight. Twenty or more came in a party toward the street where we were halted, and I hastily made ready my camera. They passed us within a few yards and I stepped to the ground, that I might gain a better focus. As I looked into the finder, a piercing shriek from one of the girls startled me, and looking up I saw the entire group start madly down the road. Whether they mistook my camera for an infernal machine, I do not know, but their alarm{52} was genuine. Some young Cossacks who were standing near laughed boisterously and pursued the girls and brought them back. When they had been made to understand what it all meant, they were highly pleased, and they stood round in all kinds of groups to be photographed. When I secured as many pictures as I wanted we continued across the square, and passed two high, heavy, wooden doors that barred the entrance of a yard. This was the home of my guide. A comely buxom girl of about seventeen, with red cheeks and eyes as blue as my guide’s, threw open the great doors, and we drove into a confusion of sledges and carts, broken hayricks, horses, cattle, pigs, and dogs. A more untidy yard I never saw. Cows and pigs adjusted themselves according to inclination. Mud, filth, straw, littered the whole place.

The yard was a small enclosure. A paling ten feet high on the side where we entered. On the right a house of stone and mud, whitewashed, with a thatched roof, an ornamented ridge pole and elaborate gables. A singular place to look upon. On the left a similar house. Immediately ahead, opposite the entrance, a crude shed with simple plank and railing stalls for horses and cattle. Two strong housewifely women stood on the porch of the house in the light, watching our entrance. Their sleeves were rolled up above the elbows, and their arms were folded—heavy, muscular arms, developed by constant toil. They greeted us kindly, even warmly, and bade us enter. Within I started in veritable surprise. The little kitchen with its Russian oven and sleeping box above for the young and the aged in one corner, a home-fashioned bed in another, was as clean as a drawing-room. Scrubbed, dusted, polished. The big brass samovar on the table shone like a door plate. Three icons were secured to the wall in one corner, next to the ceiling.{53} Before them the perpetual light was burning, the oil cup suspended from a nail driven into the ceiling. After the filth and mud of everything in the yard, and the village, the cleanliness of the three simple rooms which made up the house was marvelous. They were models of household industry.

If it had developed that this condition was due to any special reason, or was in any way exceptional, it would not merit this notice. But our coming was not announced. In the afternoon I visited many houses in the village with my guide, who was now my host, and in nearly every one I found a similar degree of cleanliness. During the following days I visited homes in other stanitzas and cleanliness within the house, if not universal, was at least the rule. Since then I have been in so many Cossack homes that I know a typical one. Of the Terek and Kuban Cossacks my host’s house was fairly representative. In design and arrangement, in cleanliness, in the food we ate, it was neither better nor worse than the average. It was typical. Hence the minute details of my visit here may be taken as a description of an average household. In nearly every Cossack house in the Don country, as well as the Caucasus, one room is set apart as a sitting-room, or living-room. This room is left spotless. Flowers brighten the windows through the winter, and often tidy muslin draperies screen, or partially screen, the beds. Icons, elaborate according to the riches of the household, adorn the walls, one invariably across one of the corners and close to the ceiling, and others on the walls on either side of the center-piece. The ever present samovar with its cheery companionableness is always in evidence.

An hour after our arrival my host and all his family were transformed by a change of costume. The rough,{54} home-made coat and worn shirt and the ancient cartridge-belt all disappeared, and instead he donned a cream-white tcherkaska, trimmed with blue. It was a very long garment, and hung to his ankles. This was evidently reserved for very special occasions. Indeed it could not be worn many times without becoming hopelessly soiled. He also brought out a special dagger and attached it to his belt. It bore an elaborate ornamentation in hand-worked silver of Circassian design and workmanship. Most of the arms worn by the Mountain Cossacks are obtained from their Circassian neighbors.

In the afternoon my curiosity regarding the great square was appeased. My host sent for his friend, the riding-master of the Cossack recruits, and he, desirous of doing what he could for the stranger, proposed a “jigitoffka,” or exhibition of horsemanship. At this I expressed my interest, and a messenger was sent to summon the young Cossacks left in the stanitza. They are famous horsemen, the Cossacks, and from their very cradles are trained to the saddle. The dexterity of some of the riders was quite remarkable. The first exhibition was a so-called “attack.” The riders divided into two ranks and charged each other at full gallop, separating just before they met, barely enough for the ranks to go through each other. Once two of the horsemen miscalculated and the horses came fairly together, one of them going over like a horse of wood. The riders remounted and continued their sport. After the men had got well limbered they went on to more difficult feats—leaping from the saddles, while the horses were going at full gallop, and then remounting; springing from one horse to another; riding double; one rider carrying another who was supposedly wounded. Snatching up coins from the ground, while a crowd of men, women, and children{55}

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Outside a Cossack yard

My Cossack driver at home with his family



stood by urging the horses to greater speed. The interest in these performances soon became most intense and I found myself, quite unconsciously, cheering as lustily as if it were a Varsity football match.

One trifling incident revealed a trait of Cossack character that would scarce find approval in England or in America. A young Cossack, reaching for a coin on the ground, almost succeeded in grasping it, but he lost his balance and fell to the ground amid the loud jeers of the people. Jumping to his feet he ran back to where the coin lay, picked it up, and ran off with it. The crowd laughed uproariously at this and did not call to him to come back with the prize thus unfairly captured. A moment later another rider failed completely in snatching at another coin which was thrown down, and he threw himself from the saddle and secured the money. This was a little strained, it seemed to me, so I asked a man near me why the crowd did not protest, and he answered: “Once a Cossack gets his fingers on money he never lets go. It does not matter how he gets it.”

There were several accidents. In no case was the slightest sympathy manifested toward the injured man. Once, when a man fell from his horse and was stepped on, the crowd laughed and even jeered as he dragged himself off. In another instance a young fellow of not more than twenty lost his balance while reaching for a coin on the ground. As he fell his foot slipped through one of the stirrups, and he was dragged several yards, and in full view of us all the horse stepped squarely on him. The crowd laughed uproariously at this and one old woman toddled up to him and handed him a rag with which to wipe the blood from his face. But she did not offer to assist him. The poor fellow was left quite by himself and after a few minutes I saw him climb{58} slowly on to his horse and canter off. That evening I inquired about him and was told that he was all right. The men expressed surprise that I should have thought of him. About nine o’clock, however, he was brought in to me. “He is much worse than we thought,” said the men who brought him, “and there is no doctor within twenty versts.” They laid him on the bed, and upon examination I found the print of a hoof clearly on the man’s face, his nose being crushed flat to his cheeks. He complained of his chest, so I loosened his clothing and found another hoof-print. This one not so clearly outlined, nor was the skin bruised, but there was swelling and inflammation, and, as nearly as I could discover, two ribs broken. The nose I could do little about. It looked to me as if a very considerable amount of skill, and certainly instruments, would be needed to set it right. The ribs I was able to set, however, and, with poultices and massage, to reduce the inflammation and relieve the sharper pain. I found this injured Cossack every bit as susceptible to human pains as the rest of men, and every bit as appreciative of the little relief which I was able to give him. Their games are of the roughest and thus are they trained to that bigger game which is their life, the war game, but their feelings and sufferings prove them normal. The government of the country, as well as their local customs, encourage the most brutal sports, and roughest treatment of men, for the crueler and more callous they are the better soldiers do they make.

Each Cossack stanitza is provided with a government riding-master, who drills young Cossacks in rough riding. All young Cossacks eligible for military service are obliged to spend one month each year in rigorous training, so that when the call to arms comes to them they shall not be like new recruits. A Cossack soldier is{59} never a recruit, really. He enters the service hardened by the experience of much training—and with the blood and spirit of the Cossack free and easy soldiering urging him to meet the expectations of his masters.

During the two days that I lingered at this village I found the meals were jolly times, though the food was neither delicate nor varied. The women did not sit at table with us, though in other houses I sometimes saw the women and men eating together. Nor did the children have places with us. The season being Lent, when a strict fast is prescribed, there was no meat on the table. Black bread, cakes of maize and chopped cabbage were the chief foods, followed by a kind of pie or tart. This consisted of an upper and lower crust with preserved grapes between. Tea was drunk freely. Likewise a light beer. Before meals, vodka. It must not be gathered from this, however, that moderation in drinking is the rule. When I asked several men if they were fond of drink, they laughed and replied: “We drink vodka at a birth, at every feast, during every fast, at every marriage, and every meal.” There appear to be no sentiments whatever with regard to temperance. There is a famous Cossack ballad ascribed to a Cossack leader named Davidoff, which runs,

Happy he who in the strife
Bravely, like a Cossack, dies.
Happy he who, at the feast,
Drinks till he can’t ope’ his eyes.

One man explained to me, when I was questioning him about Cossack massacres of Jews, that when the Cossacks were called upon to do particularly disagreeable work, that it was customary for them to get drunk first. Vodka looks like simple water or gin. The taste, to me, is of{60} wood alcohol. It is gulped rather than drunk, as is an ordinary beverage, consequently vodka drinkers seek only the effect. It is slightly warming, though not so strong as whisky, being only forty, or little over forty, per cent. alcohol. The effects are marked. First a warming, then a numbing, dulling sensation. In excess it produces wild hilarity and jocularity, and intensifies the passions. In later stages it besots. Vodka drinkers soon become overpowered by sleep. This is why so many drunkards in Russia lie about the streets. Overcome by drowsiness they sink into sleep wherever they fall. The Cossack looks upon excessive drinking as his prerogative. Drink and plunder were what his ancestors fought for and in this the Cossack of to-day has not much altered. In the Don country the Cossacks are of distinctly inferior race to the Mountain Cossacks. There I saw excessive drinking among women as well as men. In the Terek and Kuban I saw none. This does not mean that it does not exist, but simply that I did not see it, and, therefore, it is probably less common.

In the late afternoon my Cossack host announced that it was time for him to attend the local Duma meeting, and I was invited to accompany him. It was held in a small building at one corner of the great square, and was attended by all the males resident in the stanitza, and then at home. There are always many young men absent from the Cossack stanitza, owing to the military obligations which fall upon them all.

The meeting was conducted not in the building but in the yard behind. As nearly as I could follow the proceedings they were as follows: The ataman, or chief, who is elected by popular vote, stood upon the steps of the building and addressed the “meeting,” which was gathered about him. The ataman announced the topic to be{61}

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Cossack women on frontier duty in the Province of Assouri



discussed and stated his views. He then retired and little knots of men discussed the matter with greater or less vehemence. Standing apart, the scene looked like a score of little meetings in one. After a lengthy wrangle a vote was taken and the matter ended. It was all very primitive, but very like a New England town meeting. In main features and principles I could discover no difference.

One matter that came up for discussion was the cutting of wood from the stanitza forests. My host was one of those elected to do this work.

The land belongs to the stanitza. When a lad becomes of age he is given his share. This may be used by him as he chooses, either for agriculture or grazing. The lands owned by the Cossacks originally were so vast that each Cossack had more than enough for his needs. But of late the stanitzas have been growing more rapidly and there has begun to be complaint from the Cossacks that they have not enough land. The average amount held by each Cossack is several times greater than that held by the common peasants, or muzhiks, but in many places the stanitzas have been obliged to re-allot the land and to cut down the individual allotments in order to supply those just coming of age. In some sections the land thus allotted is held through life, and at death it reverts to the stanitza, though provision is made for the widows. In other places it is re-allotted at the end of every few years, or even annually. Greater system exists among the Terek and Kuban Cossacks owing to the penalty of death which was long imposed upon the Don Cossacks for engaging in agricultural pursuits. This was many generations ago and only the effects are now found in the economic organization of the Don Cossack life. When the Don Cossacks were increased by serfs and others who{64} fled, or emigrated, from Russia, people who had been accustomed to till the soil, this old idea gave way and more and more the Cossacks of the Don have been engaging in husbandry. To-day there is a large export of grain from the Don country as a result of the cultivation of the steppe by the Cossacks.

The splendid physique of the men, the strong wholesomeness of the women in my host’s stanitza, won my complete admiration. I have never seen a better average of the human animal. The weak, or sickly, if they existed, remained at home and out of sight. There was, too, a geniality, a cordiality, which little suggested the proverbial brutality of the Cossacks. On the Sunday afternoon the young people of the stanitza congregated together at one corner of the great square and sang folksongs. They have rare voices, the Cossacks, and from across the square the sound of their combined voices was thrilling. The picture they presented was a gay one, for the girls without exception wore dresses and scarfs of brightest colors.

My host was as good as his word in taking me to call among his friends. We went into houses in every quarter of the village, drank tea, and, through my interpreter, I told them about that far off place which to them was but a mysterious name—America. The stories of darkest Africa which were told me as a child never fascinated me more nor seemed more wonderful than did the things they heard about America seem to them. In every house I remarked upon the cleanliness of the interior. The floors in the crudest houses were scrubbed and polished, and the assortment of holy pictures near the icon was in some instances quite astounding. They were always pleased when I noticed their icon and holy pictures.

I tried never to lose sight of the fact that I was among{65} “Cossacks,” but I must confess that this often required an effort. The kindliness of the men, the hospitality of the women, was constantly giving the lie to the traditions of these heartless people. Whenever I could I asked the men to tell me of their exploits—their soldiering, and of massacres and pogroms that they had taken part in. They would always relate these experiences in a matter-of-fact way, emphasizing that they did what their officers told them to do. Their disputes with their own neighbors—the Circassians, Ingoosh, and other Caucasian tribes—they viewed differently. These half-civilized people who live by brigandage and raiding they deemed it a mere matter of course to kill whenever they got the chance. On the other hand, they regretted that they were sometimes sent to massacre women and children, but, as the riding-master explained to me, it was the will of the Czar. That is one of the terrible things of czardom. In the name of the Czar are perpetrated the foulest deeds ever conceived by the diabolical minds of men. “It is a point of honor with us,” said the riding-master, “to obey. We are given our lands free. We have much freedom and many privileges—and in return we give our services. It is not our business, these massacres and pogroms. It’s the Czar’s. He gives us what we want and we in turn give him what he wants.”

“If your officers commanded you to run through school-children with your saber, would you do it?” I asked. The man colored perceptibly as he answered:

“Certainly. I would obey.”

Others in the room hastened to add that they would not do such things of their own accord, but only at the command of their officers, whom they were sworn to obey, or unless they were well plied with vodka.

The morning I left this stanitza a snow-storm was rag{66}ing and our progress down from the Cossack plateau to the plain below was slow and labored. Part way down we passed another Cossack stanitza, and at the suggestion of my blue-eyed driver we halted here for a time to rest the horses and call on two or three of his friends. One man was building himself a new house. For the materials and workmen whom he was hiring he was paying five hundred rubles—two hundred and fifty dollars.

This brief experience among the Cossack villages I later followed up by visiting other villages in different parts of Russia—in the Kuban in the territory of the Don, in Orenburg, and in Siberia—and my conclusions in regard to Cossacks in general are summarized pointedly: The Cossack is a survival of medievalism, kept alive only by a government which finds it to its interest to employ medieval methods against its own subjects. After the Russo-Japanese war the Cossack will never again be relied upon in regular warfare. He won’t do. But as a particularly severe and drastic policeman, he is better than any one. Where there is an unarmed mob to quell, or crowd to disperse, where there is a village to “pacify”—there send the Cossack. If the job happens to present difficulties, dole out vodka to the Cossacks and they become dare-devils. But devil-may-care methods are no longer effective against a regular army. The Cossack is not scientific, and therein he fails. His hour has struck. Another generation will know him not. For several hundred years the Cossack has continued to maintain his own, but for such methods as his the twentieth century has no place.

I found the Cossacks of the Caucasus splendid raw material for the development of good citizens. They are physically strong and good. They have dash and daring. Their home life is clean. They have a superstitious{68}{67}

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Orenburg Cossacks—a family group

(Not posed for the author)


loyalty to God and to the Czar—so long as the government continues to give them their land free, and attempts to exact no other tax from them than their military service, which they now render because it is a tradition among them.

The Cossacks are to-day as much of an unconquered people as the tribes of the Caucasus—or of Central Africa. But they are not of the same aggressive character as the other Caucasus people. They must be conquered by diplomacy. The Cossacks will not submit easily to a yoke, and not at all to a yoke which gives them no interest or occupation in life. To-day Cossack towns have neither mills nor factories. They are purely rural communities. They cannot subsist on this alone, and the young Cossacks who are ready for military service will not readily change their outlook and take up the peaceful pursuits of the farm. The wandering spirit is in his blood as much as in the blood of the gipsies. Yet he is so purely a survival of the past, maintained until the present time by so absolutely an unnatural system and combination of circumstances, that the continuance of his existence is unthinkable.

My observations would indicate that the Cossacks have all the elements of a strong and wholesome people. Their cruelty is the result of generations of encouragement, on the part of the Russian government. In one city, at the time of the barricades, a fear-crazed mob rushed forward with bared breasts, yelling, “Here we are! Strike us down!” and the Cossacks made answer, “Why do you taunt us? We also are men!” and rode past them without cutting down a single man.

The Caucasus Cossacks, I found, were not only men of manly feelings, but of exceptional physique. Surely they will lend themselves to civilization. Their land can{70}not be taken from them without a struggle. Submit to the regulations of civilized people immediately they never will. The problem is one that Russia’s next régime will have to work out. But the organization of the Cossacks, as perpetuated down to the present time, is without doubt one of the shrewdest and strongest pieces of interior administration ever adopted by a nation. If Russia were not torn from every center in the empire, the Cossacks would maintain peace indefinitely. Without the Cossacks, Russia, long ago, would have been overwhelmed. The Cossacks are the only branch of the army that can be relied upon absolutely, and they because they are now in possession of everything that the revolutionists are clamoring for. Freedom, liberty—all the shibboleths of revolutionism—are commonplaces in the life of the Cossacks. And when the time comes for this medieval institution to go under, it cannot be hoped that it will surrender without a struggle. So long as the House of Romanoff holds supremacy—and autocracy—the Cossacks will continue to flourish. If this régime is overthrown the next will have the Cossacks to cope with. The Cossacks will die hard. But die they must—or at least the institution of Cossackdom—and the Cossack must be saved to lend stamina and strength to the up-building of a strong state in Russia, whether constitutional monarchy or republic, and the individual Cossack turned into paths of productive labor.

During the two following days I passed through countless villages of the various tribes of the north Caucasus, and if this preliminary excursion did nothing more it, at least, disclosed to me the tremendous difficulties of civil administration in this wild region, and above all else the utterly blind, fanatical policies that have been pursued by the Russian government during the last twenty-five{71}

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A Cossack village—Province of the Don

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A group of Don Cossacks at breakfast



years, which is the period when her armies just began their sanguinary march into this ancient corner of the world. What these people need is not military subjection, but education, enlightenment, and contact with civilization, and an administration based on the principles of humanity and the enlightenment born of learning and culture. But it is outside of my present purpose to suggest what ought to be or what might be; it is rather my restricted duty to give the picture of the scene as I found it unfolded before me—all these different villages of the many tribes of Caucasia, living in their backwardness and their idleness; knowing not the advantages of education, consequently craving it not; crude in their superstitions; quaint in their customs; bold and medieval in their attitude toward their fellow-men. On the south slopes of the Caucasus as well as here on the north slopes are these villages found; though instead of being Circassian, Kabardine, and Ossettes, they are Mingrelians, Kurds, Georgians, Gurians, Persians, Medo-Persians, Tartars, Armenians, and other tribes spilled out of Asia. The crying need universally throughout the region is for a wise administration, making for increased enlightenment and education, instead of which is maintained the brutal iron régime of militarism.

Upon our return to Vladikavkaz I donned my Cossack uniform, which was awaiting me, rejoined my friends the officers, and the second day thereafter we began our journey eastward to the oil city by the Caspian Sea. During the first days that f appeared on the streets in uniform I could not get over the sense of bewilderment and surprise occasioned by the salute I received from every soldier whom I met; for it is a rule of the Russian army that an officer shall be saluted at all{74} times. Had any one of these soldiers stopped to speak to me, the hopelessness of my predicament would have overcome my wits, I am sure, for at that time I knew scarcely any Russian at all. I certainly could not have understood or answered a single sentence. I was saved the embarrassment of such a situation, however, through the fact that the discipline of the Russian army is such that no soldier would think of addressing an officer until he was spoken to. Secure in this knowledge, I did not hesitate to go among the men even when unaccompanied by one of my officer friends.{75}



The journey to the “Oil City”—First view of the Caspian—Armenians and Tartars—Russia’s monstrous misrule—Tiflis blood-stained and battered—How to wield a Caucasian dagger—Daily perils—Chiaroscuro of officers’ life—A stirring departure.

THE officers occupied the first-class compartments of two cars attached to a regular train, run from Moscow to Baku and Tiflis, and the escort of some forty odd Cossacks who accompanied our party were relegated to a fourth-class car somewhere at the rear of the train. The first two cars immediately behind the engine were filled with political prisoners who were being transferred from one prison to another. For the most part conversation among the officers was on topics very remote from the political situation of their country, remote even from the business in hand. Whenever I cared to bring up the subject, however, my questions were always readily and frankly answered. They accepted the revolutionary situation as unfortunate and unhappy, but a situation to be solved through military measures rather than through political concessions or altered civil administration.

I shared a compartment with a dashing young captain, the son of one of the most distinguished families in Caucasia. The father of my friend was at one time the viceroy of the region. In discussing with him his own{76} personal sensations when combating the revolutionary activity, I was startled to have him tell me that “nowadays in shooting at a human being he felt precisely the same as he used to feel when, as a younger man, he used to shoot deer in the mountains.” “The people here,” he added, “are all deserving of what they get.” Thereupon he dilated upon the wicked ways of the Tartars and the Armenians, whose constant feuds were then spattering Baku and Tiflis, and much of the country which lies between, with crimson stains. This same officer who spoke with such carelessness of the taking of human life had all of the instincts and the fineness of a man of refined and poetic temperament. At night, for example, I found him sitting at the car window, hour after hour, entranced with the marvelous beauty of the night; the snow-capped peaks of the mountains, fast receding from us as we sped toward Daghestan; the glorious vault of blue studded with bright, but cold, metallic stars; and as I asked him why he did not sleep, he answered: “I am fond of sleeping but not in the night-time; this beauty attracts me more than my couch.”

The next morning I awoke before the sun. Our way lay close to the shores of the Caspian. My companion was up before me and insisted that I come to the window to watch the beauty of the scene about to be revealed. Presently the whole east was bathed in startling brightness; it was as though the sea tossed crimson waves out there where water met sky, and as the brilliant colors fell toward the dropping heavens, the atmosphere caught their gleams and held them. In another moment sky and sea were indistinguishable one from another, for over all was spread the increasing depth and height of color. Behind us still lay the ashen, somber light of dawn, reluctantly yielding to the brilliance of coming{77} day. The degree of appreciation that I found in my friend of this perfect manifestation of Nature filled me with wonder and admiration. He was touched to the depth of his being by the glories of the beauty we beheld. Afterward I thought often of the man’s emotion at this time, when I came into contact with that other side of his character, which presented only adamant hardness when he turned to the restoration of order in that district which was then, as it had been for months past, in the throes of bitter conflict. “In my heart you see,” he remarked one day, “I am a soldier and I cannot look upon our political situation save from the standpoint of an officer.”

The Armenians in Baku, as indeed throughout this whole region, have small reason for loving Russia. Russia in her treatment of these people has builded herself a monument of ingratitude. Without the support of the Armenians, Russia never would have conquered, even nominally, the Caucasus. Not only did Armenians serve in the ranks, but some of the best generals Russia has ever had have been Armenians—notably General Loris-Melikoff, who was at one time the minister to Alexander the Second and who is popularly supposed to have drawn up the constitution which that monarch might have granted to his people at the time of his death. But having used Armenians to serve its own ends, Russia began, a few years ago, to alter its policy toward them. The changed policy began on the 25th day of June, 1903, when M. von Plehve issued a now historical decree, declaring that as the property of the Armenian church was badly managed and used for political purposes, the state of Russia must interfere and take control of that money. In view of the fact that this money belonged not to the Armenians alone but to{78} the whole orthodox church of which the Armenian is a part, this was considered an affront to the entire church. This arbitrary, high-handed measure converted the whole Armenian population into Russian revolutionists at a single stroke. Prince Galitzin, the then viceroy of the Caucasus, maintained a régime of unprecedented severity toward the Armenians, arresting and punishing them by the hundreds and inaugurating an era of governmental terrorism which had never before threatened these people. From that day until now the Armenians have maintained a constant guerilla warfare against Russia and Russian soldiers. Added to this is the bitter race hatred encouraged by the Russian authorities between the Armenians and the Tartars, which has again and again been traced directly to the Russian administration, for where races are warring one against the other, a military régime finds the complete subjection of both peoples simpler.

Riot, destruction of property, bloodshed, murder, were all a part of each day’s work in Baku. The vast oil wells which are the mainstay of the city, were burned, the great tanks wrecked, and on every hand mountains of wreckage and debris were patrolled by Cossacks. Near to the station as we alighted from the train a murdered Armenian was lying in the gutter. Blood still oozed from his head. What immediately struck me was that no one gave him the slightest heed. Passers-by stepped over the corpse as if it were the carcass of a dog. My Armenian courier alone seemed troubled. He remarked: “The trouble, sir, here in the Caucasus, is all due to the Russian government. The Russian government first stirs up the fights and then it does not allow us to finish them as we would.” “How would you manage it?” I asked. “Manage it, sir?” he replied,{79} “Give the Armenians guns, leave them alone and in ten days there would not be a Tartar left north of the Persian frontier.” Although naturally peaceful, the Armenians are good soldiers and strong fighters; they shoot well and are by no means cowards, although by nature they prefer the peaceful walks of life. In this respect they are different from the Georgians, their near neighbors, who are natural warriors, proud of their prowess and of the distinguished officers that from time to time their race has produced.

Not only was the Armenian church robbed of its treasure, but at the same time the Russian government deprived the Armenians of their national schools, thus treading upon the finest flowers of nationality, and forever engendering the hatred of the Armenian people. During the long and biased administration of Prince Galitzin the Armenians were constantly persecuted, while the Tartars were allowed greater liberties. The Tartars were not slow in appreciating this situation, and a depot for the importation of arms was established that they might prepare themselves for the uprising soon to take place. As nearly as can be gathered the plan upon which the Tartars were acting was to slaughter all of the Armenians in eastern Caucasia. The authorities unquestionably were aware of this plot, but did nothing whatever to prevent it during all of the preliminary stages. Indeed the authorities themselves frequently circulated reports that an Armenian-Tartar war would presently break out, and the Tartars were constantly spurred on to greater activity by the reports that were allowed free circulation—that the Armenians would one day attack them. That this plan did not culminate was due probably to the turn of events in the far East; for when Russia began its retreat, beaten at every point by{80} the little yellow men of the Mikado, every nationality held in subjection by the Czar began to count anew upon the realization of the dreams of nationalism. The removal of Prince Galitzin from the Caucasus in July, 1904, doubtless saved the situation there, for Count Vorontzoff-Dashkoff, who followed as viceroy of the Caucasus, was a man without the strong prejudices of his predecessor, and did much to reconcile the Armenians, although it was under his régime that the frightful massacres of February, March, and May, 1905, occurred. The massacre of February 19, 1905, was only one of a whole series of massacres planned by the Russian administration. The details of this dastardly affair are still unforgotten, and inasmuch as no one knows when there may be another, the whole populace is kept in a state of almost perpetual panic.

Prince Nakashidze, a Georgian nobleman, one of the lieutenants of Prince Galitzin who had assisted in the confiscation of the Armenian church property, was at this time governor of Baku.

A group of Armenian Journalists waited upon the governor and heard from his excellency’s own lips a strange theory of a hypothetical feud between the Armenians and the Tartars which might result in a pogrom, or massacre. The dangers of such an outbreak, he declared, lay in the fact that he did not have troops enough at his command to suppress any such trouble, and that the police could not be relied upon, owing to the fact that so many of them were themselves Tartars. It was afterward pointed out that the report of the governor, of the outbreak which actually took place, corresponded almost word for word with the supposition advanced by Prince Nakashidze to the journalists previous to the massacre. The massacre actually occurred as a result{82}{81}

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Arrest of suspected working-men—an hourly incident in Baku


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Devastated oil-fields. Baku

of a trifling incident. The body of a murdered Armenian, named Babaieff, was being carried in funeral procession past the Tartar quarter of the city. The sight of this procession aroused the Tartars; and the incident which had led to the death of this man—a purely personal vendetta affair—was taken as an excuse for an attempt to massacre all the Armenians in the city. The Armenians defended themselves for a time, but owing to the fact that the Tartars were in superior numbers and much better armed, the casualties among the Armenians were very heavy. During this attack of the Tartars upon the Armenians, the authorities refused absolutely to bestir themselves or make the slightest effort to end the fight. Prince Nakashidze practically turned a deaf ear upon the delegation of Armenians who appealed to him for help, declaring he had no troops at his command, although there were two thousand men stationed near by, which could easily have been employed to quell the disturbance in its early stages.

According to the stories gathered at the time and which have never been contradicted, it appears that the governor himself took pains to openly encourage the Tartars and to stimulate them to greater activity in the fight. The massacre went on for four days, until both sides were ready to quit through sheer exhaustion. In the meantime some three hundred and fifty men and women had been killed and very many wounded. Although it was recognized everywhere that the government was directly responsible for this massacre, the amount of race hatred which was occasioned by this attack has not to this day subsided, and probably will not disappear for years to come. Periodic outbreaks occurred from that time on, and at the time that our party passed through Baku and around the easterly spur{84} of the Caucasus, and turned our faces toward the Nucha district and on to Tiflis, we passed through regions devastated and bare, now placed under military guard; heavy Cossack patrols guarding the piles of debris—for actually more attention was given to guarding the wreckage than had previously been given to guarding the lives of the people.

There was nothing to detain us in Baku. A condition of utter lawlessness prevailed so far as the people were concerned, and even more outrageous lawlessness on the part of the military. It is always so under martial law. A diary of daily events in the Caucasus for the five weeks I was there would fill a large book. I can only speak of significant events, and incidents, which throw light on the whole confused situation. Among ourselves—the officers of my party—there was ceaseless merriment and good fellowship. We lived comfortably, we dined well, we wined much, we were as happy and care-free as though we were on a holiday. About us were the most horrible conditions: dire poverty, distress, a veritable carnival of all the elements of wickedness and suffering of which this world knows.

For the hopeless people of Baku I envied the nomads of the Daghestan hills who tended their cattle and sheep along the steep hillsides, knowing nothing of, and caring nothing for, anything in the world save their own daily bread. At least they were not a part of the perpetual brawl of the town; at least they were not yet belabored by Russian police or military oppressors. Sometimes we saw long camel trains creeping across the sands of Nucha from Persia (lying just below the southern horizon). The dreamy leisureliness of the plodding camels, the calm indifference of the merchants, afforded an illusion of relief from the hostile atmosphere through which{85}

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Tiflis. Showing result of artillery fire on town

Note the wall pierced by a solid shell



we moved. From a hilltop out of Baku we looked strainingly through the haze to the snow mountains of the south Caucasus, one peak of which is called Ararat. No longer does the dove fly forth from this ancient mountain, to return with a sprig of olive. The waters of the earth no longer threaten this region, but the terrible tides of men—waves of oppression, oceans of misery, seas of shame—ever and always menace all who here pitch their tents. It is the oldest region of the world, if the Scriptures be true, yet in reality to-day it is the least civilized. Here Christianity first took root, yet to-day the entire region is given over to cruel and diabolical practices worthy of pagans and barbarians.

Tiflis lay torn and battered on both banks of the river Kur, revealed by the lifting of the early morning mists, as our train crept slowly down from the heights to the center of the town. Tiflis, the ancient capital of Georgia, has been the battle-ground of many a fight and conflict ever since it was first established by Vakhtang Goroslan, King of Georgia, in the fifth century. Occupying as it does a point of considerable strategic importance, commercially as well as geographically, it is one of the cities of the world which must ever remain a natural capital, whether vested with the rights of empire or not. It commands the highway from the Black Sea to the Caspian, the main route to Persia, and the only road which leads over the Caucasus to Europe.

The Tartar and Persian quarters of Tiflis were in a frightful mess. The Tartars, as Ivan, my indomitable Armenian courier, explained to me, had taken possession of a slight elevation near their section of the city, and begun firing upon the Armenians, whose quarter was a little way removed. Between the Armenian quarter and the hill occupied by the Tartars, was the Persian{88} quarter. The innocent Persians, unhappily, received many of the bullets from both sides, with the result that most of the Persian merchants had fled in panic. The fighting continued for several days until the Russian troops came up and fired indiscriminately upon the three sections, using light artillery. I photographed some of the demolished houses, securing one or two interesting pictures of the walls of houses which had been burst through by solid shells.

All the time I remained in Tiflis Ivan was suspicious of my associates, the officers. “Bloody Russians,” he called them, and he had no use for them whatever. Being one of the race who had been victimized by Russian treachery so often since the confiscation of the church property, and the abolition of the schools in 1903, he could no more put faith in any man representing the government of the Czar. He was most thoughtful of me, however, and after we had got to know each other better, he proved himself measurably loyal. Early in our acquaintance, he had taught me how to use my dagger. For he insisted that since I carried a dagger, I should know how to handle it when occasion demanded. He told me how to grasp the handle with my hands and to thrust it into the bowels of my opponent, giving it the right twist so as to make short work of my enemy, after the manner of his own countrymen. “But, sir,” he added, “you are to use it this way only when you are forced to meet your man face to face. It is better for you to get behind your enemy and to plant your dagger between his shoulders when he is not looking.” Ivan’s fighting ethics were built upon a wholly practical basis. He knew no other standard. In this, he was like all the peoples of Caucasia.

Besides the demolished foreign quarters of Tiflis, there{89} were evidences a-plenty of riot and revolt in all sections of the town; whole blocks of houses sometimes with windows broken, as a result of a recent bomb; telegraph lines down; traffic interrupted; streets torn up and day by day reports came in of clashes between the peoples, and sometimes between the populace and the authorities, and never a day without murder or assassination.

The streets of the town were never safe. A bomb was liable to drop in the vicinity of any official at any time, and robbery was a commonplace of the night. In Tiflis I found a state of actual and continuous guerilla war. Nothing spectacular or dramatic happened, but every day some one was killed, a building wrecked, a consignment of government money stolen. Political arrests were hourly scenes. Workmen were taken from their work; private citizens were snatched from their homes; newspapers that appeared one day were suppressed the next; officials who had to move from place to place were accompanied by heavy escorts. The atmosphere was electric with unrest. Tiflis quivers and cowers through miserable days and hideous nights—all because Russia’s civil policy is as it is, often in open violation of the usual customs of nations and of humanity. Tiflis, olden capital of ancient Georgia, Tiflis the lovely, the beautiful, the fair—I found a city of inquisition, of fire and blood, of despair. Yet through it all we—my officers and I—were established in the comfortable Hotel de Londres. At night we were merry, and oblivious to everything about us. Sometimes we went to a café chantant called the Bellvue, where lovely Georgian girls sang brisk American songs (done into Russian) and painted Armenian maidens danced languorous, lascivious dances....

For a time I was fascinated by this paradoxical life. How human beings could drink champagne through long{90} nights when horrible starvation besieged every window and door; how the officers of the busiest army in the world could squander hours and days and weeks, when mutiny and sedition were daily eating into the ranks; how men of such excellent camaraderie spirit could look upon suffering with a cool shrug—all this was new to me, and made me wonder greatly. But after a time the reports coming in from Kutais, to the west of Tiflis, were so startling that I grew more and more impatient to witness what an army of “pacification” reveals. There in Kutais, the dreaded and hated General Alikhanoff was pushing forward the grim work of repression.

My good friend Prince Andronnikov secured for me the necessary permission, and one memorable Monday evening I ordered Ivan to be ready to start for Kutais that evening.

Kutais lies to the west of Tiflis, about eight hours’ journey on the railroad. The train I planned to take left Tiflis a little before midnight. Ivan insisted that we leave the hotel more than an hour before train-time. I thought this an unreasonable margin of time, but before we reached the station I realized that it is always safe to allow ample time for the unexpected in Caucasia. We had crossed the bridge spanning the Kur and had turned into a dark unlighted street, running toward the station, when suddenly the cries of “Stoi! Stoi!” (Halt! Halt!) rang out in the darkness. Five soldiers sprang out of the shadow and stopped our carriage, while a sixth leveled a bayonet at my breast, so close that when I threw open my bourka (a long hairy cape extending from the shoulders to the ground), and reached for my passport and credentials, it brushed against the steel point. My uniform was only distinguishable under the bourka. The officer in charge of the search-party spoke{92}{91}

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Caucasian types


French and, upon examining my credentials, promptly permitted us to continue on our way. We had not proceeded two blocks, however, when once more the imperative shout of “Stoi! Stoi!” stopped us. This time a larger party of soldiers surrounded us. Two infantrymen sprang to the heads of the horses, bringing them to an immediate standstill. The officer in command of the second party proved an ignorant fellow and we found it somewhat difficult to satisfy him as to our legality, for a man wearing the uniform of a Cossack officer provided with an American passport was an unusual phenomenon, even in Tiflis, the very center of strange and mysterious men and circumstances. At last, however, he appeared satisfied that we were known to the authorities and that our credentials were genuine, and once more we started for the still distant station. We were nicely settled and on our way when once again the cry of “Stoi! Stoi!” startled us. This time, however, it came from behind. Impatient at these repeated delays and fearful lest after all we miss the train, Ivan, giving one quick glance behind, foolishly thought to take a long chance at escape. The soldiers were twenty yards or more to the rear, so Ivan called to the driver to go on quickly. The driver cracked his whip and the horses strained forward to a gallop. A perfect volley of “stois” followed us. I looked back to see how the soldiers would take this,—just in time to see the men raising their guns to their shoulders to fire. Springing to my feet I shouted in Russian, “All right; all right!” my arms raised to signify that we were in their hands. The sound of my voice warned the driver to stop the horses. The soldiers rushed upon us and at first were inclined to be rough, for they naturally thought we had tried to elude them. The officer was exasperatingly deliberate in examining{94} our papers and he was so persistent in his questions that had he delayed us two minutes longer than he actually did we would have lost our train, in spite of the hour to spare that Ivan had insisted upon.

On the train we found many passengers relating their experience with the search-parties. Nearly all had been stopped at least once, and many twice, so we knew that the city was being searched with extraordinary thoroughness that night for weapons, bombs, and contraband of war that continuously and mysteriously find their way into Tiflis to enable the people to maintain their perpetual fight against their oppressors.{95}



Arrival in Kutais—A siege city—“The very walls have ears”—Cossack barracks—Loot—“Bloody” Alikhanoff—A dramatic interview—Justification for burning homes—Military outrages—Why the inhabitants of the Caucasus are revolutionists and terrorists.

IVAN called me at daybreak. At seven o’clock we alighted at Kutais station. Besides ourselves only officers left the train. A small force of infantry held and guarded the station. The early morning air was heavy with the odor of charred wood; opposite the platform the debris of two buildings was smoldering.

We found a lone cab to convey us to the local hotel—a comfortable inn in normal times, kept, strangely enough, by two old Swiss ladies. In places the streets were almost impassable. Telegraph wires lay in tangled profusion where they had curled when the great poles were felled. The poles, too, lay as they had fallen. Obstacles of every description lay in heaps at intervals. Reinforced sentries guarded each corner. Once we met a patrol of fifty Cossacks, riding by twos behind the scarlet standard of their regiment.

The town was a veritable siege city. Walls of grim ruins faced rows of battered houses. There is a clause in the terms of agreement between nations concerning the conduct of international wars which reads: “The at{96}tack or bombardment of towns, villages, habitations, or buildings which are not defended is prohibited.”[3] Kutais town was undefended. It was defenseless. But Russian troops had attacked it with rifle fire and light artillery. On the short ride from the station to the hotel I saw many instances of shell fire and infantry volleys. At the hotel entrance a Cossack stood guard.

Ivan presently brought to my room an employee of the hotel, whom he introduced as a friend of his of twelve years’ standing. “Good,” I replied, thinking the man might prove a source of information. “Get him to tell us what is going on here.” After a moment’s hesitation the man answered: “Ivan, I have known you long and would tell you everything if I dared, but whoever speaks in Kutais, even to a friend, is put in prison and his house burned. I dare not tell you anything.” “That is nonsense,” I replied. “There is no one in this room but ourselves. He can speak with utter frankness,” but the man only shook his head and replied: “Even the walls of Kutais have ears.” Ivan himself yielded to the suspicious atmosphere and added, as if to quiet me, “That is true, sir! One dare not speak in his own room.” No amount of persuasion, not even the persuasion of money, which the man doubtless needed, would induce him to say more.

After breakfast I ventured out for a survey of the town—much to Ivan’s disgust. Ivan was a brave fellow in the mountains, but he had seen the Cossacks of this same General Alikhanoff, who now commanded Kutais, hack off the fingers of fine ladies for the rings they wore, in Tiflis only a few months before.

During the first hour we were out I must have seen{97}

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A Georgian village

It was from hamlets like this that General Alikhanoff tried to collect taxes with machine-guns and field-artillery



twenty political arrests. Demolished houses were in every block. Occasionally an entire block had been swept away by fire. That afternoon when I talked with General Alikhanoff he explained to me that when “his soldiers were ordered to burn down a certain house they do not always have time to see that other houses do not burn also!”

Toward noon we came upon a group of Cossack barracks, and I proposed to Ivan that we run through them.

“Not for a thousand rubles,” replied the redoubtable Ivan. But I finally persuaded him.

No soldier above the rank of what we would call corporal was anywhere in evidence. Near a thousand lawless, undisciplined, unrestrained men lounged about the barn-like halls, singing boisterous songs, smoking, and relating stories. Months of service had hardened them and apparently developed traits that lie dormant when they are at home in their own villages. At all events these fellows seemed much more brutalized than any I saw on my expedition from Vladikavkaz. In one room I found a pile of new blankets more than ten feet high, blankets of a quality and texture never before supplied to an army. In this same room twelve or fourteen men were amusing themselves with as many brand new American sewing-machines.

“Where did you get these?” I asked in amazement.

“We bought them,” replied a hulking fellow of at least six feet three, and pointing to a large shop up the street added: “Go up there and learn about it.”

When first I entered these barracks I refrained from much conversation, but as the mood of the men was jovial and amiable I told Ivan to explain to them that I was in Circassian dress only by courtesy, and that in{100} reality I was an American correspondent. At the beginning I entertained some doubt as to the wisdom of this frankness, but as soon as my position was made clear to them they were friendlier than ever, and took it as a great compliment, and honor, that I should wear their costume. They took me all over the barracks, allowed me to photograph them, and even invited me to lunch with them. I was anxious, however, to learn more about the fine blankets and the American sewing-machines.

The shop pointed out to me from the barracks windows proved to have been a small department store. I found it decidedly a “had been.” The floor space was a vast heap of merchandise that might have been tossed up by a cyclone. The shelves were stripped. The fittings of the store were twisted and broken. The proprietor, a sorrowful bankrupt Armenian, was perched on an upset counter contemplating his ruin. His nationality was an advantage to me for Ivan was able easily to satisfy him as to my status, and he opened up readily. The previous evening, just after he had closed his place for the night, a crowd of Cossacks—the same whom I had visited in their barracks—had come along with push-carts. They had smashed in his doors and windows, ransacked the whole shop, taken what they wanted of trinkets, blankets, and sewing-machines, and carried off their loot in the hand-carts, leaving behind them the pile of wreckage I saw.

Article 48 of the above mentioned proceedings of The Hague Conference reads: “Pillage is absolutely prohibited.” But under Russian military rule each commander is a law unto himself, and under commanders like General Alikhanoff each soldier is a law unto himself. The laws laid down and accepted by nations for the conduct of{101} international wars do not, strictly and technically, apply to wars between a government and its people, but the laws of nations are merely civilized standards, and Russia, in its war against its own people, falls leagues short of these.

The same grim sights met my eyes on every hand. The same tear-bringing tales were poured into my ears, wherever Ivan was successful in convincing the people that I was trustworthy. General Alikhanoff—“Bloody Alikhanoff” the people called him—was ever and always held responsible for the misery and sufferings, the cruelties, the tortures, the inhumanities. During that one day I heard more deeds of monstrous wrong laid at this man’s door than I had ever heard of any living mortal. I determined to see him, to tell him fairly and squarely of the things the people of Kutais were saying about him, and give him an opportunity to deny them if he cared to do so, before I repeated them to a wider world outside of Russia. Or, if they were true, I would have his justification of them.

Ivan described General Alikhanoff as a “Persian Turk,” which was by no means an inappropriate description. He was a Moslem, born within the region of olden Russian domination. Originally his name was Ali Khan, which name he Russianized by putting the two words together and adding “off.” Alikhanoff has a unique record in the Russian army. Some years ago he was sent to Turkestan, where his ruthless pacification methods won for him the title of “Bloody Alikhanoff.” Three times he has been reduced to the ranks for his excesses, and on one of these occasions because of his corruption. Drastic punishment of this character is rarely applied in Russia, and indicates the monstrous misuse of power of which this man had been guilty. In{102} the spring of 1905, General Alikhanoff was sent to Nakhitchevan, where he remained until Prince Napoleon was appointed governor-general of Erivan, when he was recalled. The pacification of Georgia was placed entirely in the hands of Alikhanoff, who, as governor-general of the district, was in supreme command, responsible only to the Czar. Kutais, where I found him, is the central and most important province of Georgia.

Kutais is on the southern slope of the central Caucasus, and a little more than midway between Tiflis and the Black Sea. The population of the city of Kutais is made up of Georgians, Mingrelians, Armenians, Kurds, and Jews. A polyglot population with diverse traditions, with but one thing in common—a wholesome and heartfelt dislike for Russia. The hillsides of the province are spattered with miserable hamlets; valleys that should have been beautiful are unlovely, marred by desolation, where excessive taxation and endless government impositions have produced a condition of ugliest poverty. The taxes levied upon these people were so far in excess of the prosperity in the region[4] that in the autumn of 1905 and the spring of 1906 the people ceased to pay any taxes at all, mostly because they could not, and so General Alikhanoff was sent with a force of about 18,000 troops into the district to collect the taxes and to “restore” order. At five o’clock Ivan and I drove to the official residence of the military governor-general. As I stepped out of the carriage at the door, Ivan naïvely remarked that he{104}{103}

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Alikhanoff’s Cossacks


would await me in the carriage. It took considerable persistence to persuade him to follow me. The general was asleep, we were told, but we might wait for him if we chose. “Come to-morrow,” pleaded Ivan, but I knew it would not be safe for me to retreat, having once got successfully over the threshold of the official residence with him, for I already realized that the sense of insecurity and fear which possessed the entire population was taking fast hold on my interpreter, and as his services were essential to the success of my interview I dared not risk losing him. We took seats in the outer hall to abide the time when the general should awake and be ready to receive us. Several times the outer door was opened to officers of the household. As each drew off his overcoat, he took from his right hand pocket a revolver, and usually, with the revolver in his hand, disappeared through one of the three doors leading from the main hall, or up-stairs.

The general’s nap proved a long one, for it was after seven when an orderly appeared to announce the general as ready to attend to business. I sent up my card. An aide-de-camp of the rank of colonel presently came down to inquire the purport of my business. To him I explained carefully my relations with the officers of the regiment with whom I had been traveling and presented my letters and credentials. The colonel reported to the general and returned to me with the message that four days from then at three o’clock in the afternoon General Alikhanoff would receive me for two hours. “I do not desire two hours of his time, but two minutes,” I replied, “but it is most important that I have those two minutes with him to-day.” It was only after considerable insistence that the colonel consented to again intrude upon the general, but when he did word was{106} immediately brought back that I would be received at once. During the second disappearance of the colonel a farcical scene was enacted between Ivan and myself. The aide-de-camp had scarcely disappeared up-stairs when Ivan, apparently overcome by the fear of seeing General Alikhanoff face to face, started toward the door.

“Now that it is arranged, sir,” he said, “I will return to the hotel, sir, and wait for you.”

“No, no, Ivan,” I said, “you must come with me, for if General Alikhanoff speaks nothing but Russian and Tartar, I shall be in a hopeless predicament with him.”

“You want me to go into the room with Alikhanoff, sir—‘Bloody Alikhanoff!’ No, sir!”

“Yes, you must. I need you,” I replied.

He glowered at me in a fright palpably real and started doggedly toward the door. I stepped in front of him so as to prevent his escape.

“No, sir!” he argued. “Not to Alikhanoff. I took Baron de Hirsch to the top of Kazbek, sir, and I have hunted with the Duc d’Orléans for a month in the high mountains, sir, and I was with the correspondent of the London Times in the bad days,—but I never had to do anything like this, sir. I shall go back to Tiflis to-night.”

There was determination in his voice and for the first time I became seriously alarmed, for as I had no way of knowing whether the general spoke French, I could not risk going alone into his presence. But Ivan pushed steadily to the door. At the threshold I felt that I must act instantly or lose him, for he was forcing his way past me in spite of all I could do. So, drawing my revolver, I said very quietly:

“Ivan, the officers coming back from Manchuria tell of how the Japanese placed machine guns behind their regiments when they were sent into battle and at the{107} first indication of retreat these guns opened fire. Now, you know that General Alikhanoff probably will not harm you.”

“No, not now, sir,” he interrupted, “but after you are away, sir, he will send his soldiers to Tiflis for me.”

“Nonsense,” I answered. “I am responsible here and I will tell him that I made you come with me.” He shook his head and once more started past me.

“Ivan,” I said, determinately, “you may get by Alikhanoff, but you cannot get by me,” and I shook the revolver menacingly before him. The poor man was almost beside himself and I suffered for him. But it was the only thing I could do. He looked at the revolver in my hand, then scrutinized my face, and, shaking his head despairingly, he slowly returned to near the front of the stairs and folded his arms in dumb resignation.

Two guards were standing in the hall and witnessed this little scene, but they evinced no other sign than of amused interest. The fact that they did not understand our conversation did not arouse their suspicions or their fears.

When the Colonel returned with the word that I was to be presented to the general at once, Ivan and I were conducted up-stairs. At the door of the ante-room a guard stepped up and a second aide-de-camp apologetically asked me to leave my arms outside. I drew my saber and dagger from their sheaths, my revolver from its holster, and handed them to an orderly. Ivan here saw another opportunity to avoid meeting “Bloody Alikhanoff.” “I will stand by them,” he exclaimed eagerly.

“No, thank you, Ivan,” I replied. “You must come with me.” But now that I had been stripped of my arms, I had not the same means of impressing him as be{108}fore, and in spite of me he started to slink away. Fearful lest I lose him after all, I clutched at him firmly by the coat-sleeve. He realized that there was no escape, and so, with the expression of a man who accepts the worst, when it is the inevitable, he yielded.

A sentry stood upon the threshold of the chamber. We passed by him and entered a large salon with highly polished hardwood floor. A small room led off from the farther end, into which the general was just stepping. He was a tall man and heavily built. Though his back was toward us, I could see that he wore the undressed jacket of a Russian officer, highly polished riding-boots, and spurs which clanked as he walked. His head was inclined slightly forward, but I noted that he pulled impatiently at his long, heavy mustache, now partly gray. We paused for a second, long enough for him to disappear into the smaller room, and then, at a signal from the colonel, followed him. There were others in the smaller room, but at the moment I did not notice them particularly, for General Alikhanoff received me at once with cold courtesy. I was pleasantly surprised when he greeted me in French and I briefly explained to him who I was and why I had come to see him. After a brief introduction, I asked his indulgence that I might address him through my interpreter.

“But, why?” he asked. “You speak French.”

“Very badly,” I answered, “and it is most important that I understand you precisely.” I did this chiefly because I wanted the opportunity of studying his features and expression, as I could better do when he was addressing the interpreter than when he was speaking directly to me. He acquiesced and motioned me to a chair before his desk.

At this point, an officer took his stand by my right{109}

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A killed dragoon and horse

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Peasants shot down

Guerilla warfare



side, a little behind me, and another at my left. A third man in civil dress, evidently an officer, stood immediately behind the general. A Cossack guard, rifle in hand, stood by the door. It was evident that, in spite of my credentials, the general had decided to keep an eye upon me. He knew full well that sooner or later his life would be attempted, as indeed it was a few weeks after this interview.[5]

Without further preliminary, I came abruptly to the point upon which I desired light.

“Your Excellency,” I said, “I have come to you on a strange errand. I have heard worse stories about you than I have ever heard about any living human being. As an American I do not wish to repeat these stories to my countrymen, if they are not true. On the other hand, if they are true, I want to hear your side of the case, your justification—if such there be.”

The general was somewhat surprised by my abruptness, but inquired as to the nature of these stories.

“The people of this province,” I replied, “tell me that your soldiers are burning the homes of the people indiscriminately at your order,—the homes of people against whom there is no legal evidence, only suspicion; that your soldiers are encouraged to loot and to pillage the shops; that not only the women and the girls, but also little children, fare very badly at their hands.”

The general received these words quietly, but answered with some heat: “The people of this province are bad, all bad, very bad. There is no other way to repress them than as my soldiers are now doing.”

“There are many people here,” I added, “many different tribes and races—are none good?{112}

“No! they are all bad! The Georgians are the worst, but they are all against the government, and must be put down.”

“By putting down, do you mean arresting them and burning their homes, or are these stories false?”

The general showed slight irritation at this, and replied: “There are more than one hundred thousand houses in this province, one hundred and twenty have been ordered burned since I came to Kutais. What are one hundred and twenty out of so many?” Then, flashing his eyes directly upon me, he added, in excellent French: “These people are terrorists, they are socialists, and revolutionists. When I hear that a man is a socialist or revolutionist, I order my soldiers to burn down his house. It is the only way.”

“One hundred and twenty houses, general?” I replied. “I have been only a short time in Kutais, but I have seen the ashes of far more than one hundred and twenty houses.”

“Oh, yes,” replied the general. “That may be explained: My soldiers are ordered to burn down a certain house, but of course they do not always have time to see that other houses do not catch fire and so burn also.”

Later I had opportunity to verify the truth of this explanation. The soldiers would apply the torch to a particular house and if a wind chanced to be blowing up the valley of the Rion the flames would spread from house to house and leap from street to street, and perhaps the whole village would be destroyed.

Pursuing the interview further, I told the general of the rumors which I heard on every hand concerning the treatment of the women and the girls by the soldiers. I spoke specially of a rumor concerning five little girls of tender years, the oldest, I believe, thirteen, who had{113} within a few days been sent from Kutais to a hospital in a neighboring city as a result of the outrages perpetrated upon them by the soldiers. He denied any knowledge of this incident, but he admitted that officers have their headquarters in the hotels and were frequently ignorant of the whereabouts of their soldiers, and, of course, not responsible for single acts of violence which might occur from the hands of the soldiers. Any officer, he maintained, would prevent such gross outrages as that of which I had spoken. He added that his soldiers were frequently forced to shoot women, but that was because women were often revolutionists.

Just here Ivan could scarcely contain his wrath at the general. A flush of angry resentment crossed his face, but as soon as he realized that he was showing his incredulity he became almost paralyzed with fear. His anguish was almost pain to look upon. He suddenly went pallid. When he tried to speak his tongue cleaved to the roof of his mouth and refused to act. I motioned him to cease trying, and for the rest of the interview I talked directly with the general in French.

In regard to the looting of shops, the general made no attempt to deny the fact, merely explaining that the pillaged stores were owned invariably by revolutionists and socialists. Inasmuch as the general had already called all of the people in the district “socialists” and “revolutionists” and “bad,” this classification and explanation was rather sweeping. Further conversation with him merely emphasized his position. He was on the spot to “pacify” the people, to “suppress” all signs of revolutionary activity, even of passive resistance. In other words, to restore the province to normal conditions, and the policy employed to do this was the only policy which General Alikhanoff believed could be crowned{114} with success, namely, the policy of repression or extermination.

As we talked he leaned both arms on the desk before him and his fingers toyed quietly with a box of cigarettes. A bright jewel in a large ring on one of his fingers constantly caught the glint from a near-by light and flashed its rainbow colors. The cold, hard flash of the jewel was no brighter than that of the general’s gray eyes, which flashed fire as he spoke and reflected the indomitable will of a man who is accustomed to fight against odds, and who lives in constant expectation, though not in fear, of assassination.

When I had questioned him as fully as I desired and was fully convinced that he had no further justification for his extreme policy than that which he so frankly offered me, I thanked him for his courtesy and candor, and retired with Ivan.

At the head of the stairs my arms were returned to me, and as we descended to the main hall I took from my pocket a small gold coin and dropped it into the hands of Ivan, with the remark that never before in his life had he earned so much money in so short a time.

“That is true, sir,” he answered, “but if I had to do it again to-morrow, sir, I would put myself in the river to-night, sir.”

It was eight o’clock when we started to leave the residence of the governor-general, and night had settled over Kutais. Ivan and I took our places in our little droshky, and as we started away, the colonel, who had been present throughout the interview, called after us, bringing us to a standstill.

“Have you no escort?” he asked.


“Why, no,” I replied. “I think none is necessary.”

“We cannot even permit you to return to your hotel without an escort. You must never go from one street to another unaccompanied. One moment, please.” The colonel disappeared, returning in a moment with a Cossack soldier, who at the command of the colonel took his place on the box next to our driver, his unslung rifle resting loosely across his lap.

Once more the carriage started, and once more the colonel stopped us.

“Where is your revolver?” he asked.

“It is here, sir,” I replied, “in my belt.”

“In your belt? But of what use is it there? In your hand, if you please, sir.”

I laughed outright at this. I had seen officers going through the streets with their revolvers in their hands, but I had always looked upon this as an affectation or the result of an absurd timidity. In Vladikavkaz when I was about to drive out with the chief of police, I had been asked to put my revolver in my outside overcoat pocket, in order to have it ready for immediate use, but I had at no time dreamed of carrying my revolver in my hand. However, since the colonel commanded, rather than suggested it, I drew my Browning from its holster, only adding that it seemed unnecessary with a Cossack on the box and only eight o’clock in the evening.

“Pardon me,” answered the colonel in excellent French. “No precaution is unnecessary just now. Your revolver in your hand, please—your ungloved hand.”

And so we drove to the hotel.

Once a man slunk back into the shadow of a building as we approached; he might have been a Kurd tramp, I could not see clearly. At every corner stood soldiers, and several times we passed a mounted patrol. Not an{116}other sign. Not a store open. Not a human voice, nor footstep. Deserted streets, as of a city of the dead. Literally a city of “dreadful night.” For here was Alikhanoff, “Bloody Alikhanoff,” who was pushing forward the repression and all Kutais knew that Alikhanoff’s peace was obtained through a policy of pacification which, if resisted, meant extermination.

When we were once more in the hotel, Ivan, forgetting that his friend had sworn in that very room a few hours before that “even the walls have ears,” burst forth into a perfect frenzy at what he called the “bad things” Alikhanoff had told me.

I told Ivan that I thought the general had been exceedingly frank in admitting that he burned the homes of the people and that his soldiers looted and pillaged at their own will and pleasure without restraint. “But he did not admit to you, sir,” said Ivan, “what beastly things they do to our women and little girls.”

Early next morning Ivan awoke me. He appeared to be much excited and asked me to come immediately down-stairs to talk with a man whom he had brought to me. He would not explain, but merely urged me to haste.

When I went below Ivan confronted me with a workingman—a carpenter, I think,—a man of ordinary intelligence. Ivan told me that I must listen to this man’s story.

Briefly it was this: In the dead of night, twelve soldiers with no officer to restrain them had entered his home; they had pinned him in a corner and then each of the twelve soldiers had violated his wife before his eyes.

About the time I was here an official commission was collecting testimony to put on authoritative record the things that happened under “Bloody Alikhanoff.{117}

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“Of course I order my soldiers to burn down the homes of these people.” General Alikhanoff



Here is a single page from a volume of evidence collected:

The Village of Tug

(1) Takui Kushlyanz, 30 to 35 years old. When the detachment arrived and the women ran away, I also ran; the Cossacks were chasing us; being pregnant and frightened, I gave birth to a child who died on the spot.

(3) Mathusan Pulyeva, 35 years old. I could not run away because I have a baby at the breast, and my other children are also small. Three Cossacks broke into our house, beat and bruised my husband, and all three violated me. My husband was beaten so mercilessly that he is still sick. The traces of the assault are still evident.

(4) Mariam Ovanesyanz, 60 years old, married: Being an old woman I did not run away, thinking that they would not touch me. The Cossacks were given freedom, all rushed into the house; they began to beat, rob, and assault; throughout the village cries for help were heard, but the authorities paid no attention to that. In our house the locks were broken from the doors of the rooms, and they took silver, dresses, and various other things, and then they violated me. There were three or four Cossacks in our house.

(5) Balakhanuma Chitchayanz, 25 years old: Having a nursling and other small children, I could not run away; the most terrible assaults were committed by the Cossacks in my house; the Cossacks broke into our house several times in separate groups; my little girl, Nadyezhda, 4 years old, died for fright; she was healthy before, and my boy Armenak is still lying in bed sick from fright. Each group entered and violated me; there was about six or seven such groups,—I don’t remember exactly how many, because I lay almost unconscious, and after they left I was very sick in bed and am still sick.

(6) Maibo Sarkisyanz, 16 or 17 years old: I have been married for two years, I did not succeed in running away in time. Two Cossacks broke into our house, beat my husband, drove him out, and both of them violated me; then, gathering together all valuable things, they went away.

(9) Shoganata Chakh-Misyanz, 14 years old: I was among those women that did not succeed to hide in time. On Monday morning two Cossacks came up our stair-case. I ran into the room and was about to hide myself, but they broke into the room and one after another violated me. I was a virgin. I became unconscious.[6]

Why continue this revolting story? During the length of my stay in this region each day added to the weight{120} of tragedies. I was more than five weeks, all told, in the Caucasus. Time enough for me to see what Russian administration there means, time enough to learn of and to witness the terrible inhumanities of an army of “pacification” under a General Alikhanoff. The hours I spent with my officer companions were pleasant hours, bright with song and laughter. They were good fellows. And yet—I could not but understand, through them, and through other officers and officials with whom I came in contact, why assassination is deemed a legitimate weapon of warfare by the people of the Caucasus. I am a thoroughgoing American in spirit. As such, revolution is my most sacred heritage. If I lived in the Caucasus, suffering and bleeding under Russian misrule, I would be a revolutionist. If my home were invaded, and burned by an Alikhanoff before any legal evidence were gathered against me; if members of my household were abused by Cossacks precisely as hundreds of girls and women there are abused, I think I might reply to these barbarous weapons—sanctioned and approved by the Czar’s government—with the most effective weapons I could command—possibly even the revolver, the knife, and the bomb.

It is easy enough to talk restraint, when one has not been wronged. To look upon the things I looked upon in the Caucasus with one’s own eyes brings the awfulness of the régime home with overwhelming force, and if one is not actually driven to take up arms in defense of helpless, outraged, human beings, one is at least forced to charity and forbearance in passing judgment upon the methods of these wronged people in their efforts to defend themselves, and to correct by every means they know the cruel and inhuman régime under which they live and suffer.{121}



A journey in the interior—Warned back—The start—A typical Volga province—Causes of the famine—Arrival at Tsaritzin—Two medical students—“Open! Open to the Police!”—The search—Condition of the peasants—Pesky—A group of remarkable personalities—Village customs—A dramatic meeting—A night ride—A sudden interruption in our plan.

OCCASIONAL massacres of Jews, of Armenians, of Tartars, of intellectuals in interior towns—these the world knows about. Massacres are instituted to accomplish certain definite results, such as the terrorizing of a section of the population into passivity, or to coerce popular opinion in a given direction. But these occur only at intervals, and in widely different sections of the empire. Police misrule, on the other hand, is constant, and exists everywhere. The tourist in Russia is met by the police at the frontier—his books are liable to confiscation, his private papers to minute examination; once settled in St. Petersburg or Moscow his letters are very likely opened and frequently parts of them extracted. I remember that at one time all of my letters were regularly opened by the police before they were delivered to me, and more than once a page or two, or perhaps a whole sheet, would be missing when my letter was finally delivered. The power of the police is as omniscient as it is omnipresent. It is the one authority{122} in czardom that can descend upon the Czar himself. About the time of the convocation of the Duma a Moscow publisher brought out a complete set of the Emperor’s speeches. The volume was small, and it was not edited nor annotated in any way, yet the police confiscated the whole edition and forbade its circulation! The weakness and true character of Nicholas II was so plainly revealed in the collection that this step was held to be justifiable.

To meet this police power casually, or to read about it, is one matter. To live under its absolute domination is quite another. The so-called agrarian revolts are often insurrections against the intolerable will of the police.

After leaving the Caucasus I traveled to the town of Saratoff, the capital of the province of the same name, there to begin a journey of a few hundred miles through the peasant country. Spring was fast approaching, at which time the ravages of hunger with greater or less rigor sweep over the peasant villages of central Russia year after year. Incidentally I saw rather more than I anticipated, particularly of the rural police.

“You will not be permitted to travel through the district,” I was told in Saratoff city. “Every correspondent who attempts it is arrested or turned back for one reason or another.”

I had come more than one thousand miles to make this journey and consequently I was not of a mind to be unofficially turned aside. I procured an interpreter, and arranged for horses and a peculiarly Russian wagon with a body of wicker like a great basket, called a tarrantass.

A troika, with loud, jingling bells, carried us out of Saratoff city and straight away to the north, away from all railroads and towns of size. The fast greening steppe{123} rolled to hillocks on the east and the hillocks mounted to hills, higher and higher, farther and farther to the east, till the heights of the Urals seemed to loom vaguely in the purple distance.

Two hours out from Saratoff houses became fewer. As far as the eye could reach to west and north was the boundless, lone steppe. Now and then we passed a miserable village with ugly houses of stone and mud and crumbling, thatched roofs. Twice during the ride we passed the ruins of a landlord’s house, reduced to ashes by infuriated peasantry. Telegraph poles lay felled along the roadside.

Saratoff government borders on the majestic Volga. No mightier or lovelier river winds through the dominions of the Czar. Fields which might be fertile, and dessiatines with wonderful possibilities for rich production, roll backward from its banks many miles. Yet here men faint from hunger; women sink beneath the burden of days, and little children waste to shadows, and die. The ugliest of diseases root among the people and flourish like weeds in a pasture—not because nature has been scant in her provision of resources, but because all development of agricultural lands is still unknown. “Dry farming” has never been heard of; and irrigation projects which could so easily be carried out have never been thought of. But more than all the rest, perhaps, is the iniquitous system of landholding that still continues. Where one man owns one hundred thousand dessiatines,[7] two thousand men possess one dessiatine each! The man with the hundred thousand is rich and lives in Moscow, in St. Petersburg, or Paris, and only occasionally visits his “estates” here in the interior. The two thousand are born, fret through their weary lives, and die on the little{124} patch of once good, but now exhausted, land which originally their fathers held when serfdom was abolished, or their fathers’ fathers of many generations ago bought when colonization was encouraged by Catharine, or Elizabeth, or Peter. And as the demands of life to-day have multiplied since the time of Catharine, or even Alexander I, while the peasant holdings have remained the same, the impossible condition which so extensively prevails throughout central and eastern Russia is easy to understand.

When serfdom was abolished in 1861 a certain patch of land was given to each village, and the village council, called the mir, parceled out this land to the individual villagers, re-allotting the parcels every three, five, or seven years according to the vote of each village. Since 1861 the population of many villages has doubled, and some have trebled, but the aggregate landholdings have remained what they were at the beginning. A tract of land that was barely enough for the maintenance of, say, two thousand souls in 1861 is entirely inadequate in 1907 for four or five thousand. Hence, throughout this vast district of central and eastern Russia, life has death for neighbor. The pall of famine descends upon the region in years when the crops are yielding most plentifully. Years when a frost comes, or a drought, or a blight, the situation attains the proportions of a calamity.

Dusk was gathering when we rumbled heavily into Tsaritzin, a village of 1800 inhabitants, fifty-five versts from Saratoff. Our driver pulled up before a square cottage, no better than the average, and to all appearances like the rest in the village. Before we had lifted our cramped and much-shaken limbs from the springless wagon that had brought us all the distance, two young men, strangers to us both, but bursting with cordiality{125} and pleasure at our arrival, rushed out to greet us. They were two medical students from the temporarily closed University of Moscow, come here to direct the distribution of famine relief. We were their first visitors in several months, and, as we soon were able to see, their existence is dreary enough in this remote place. They come to serve the peasants, to administer famine relief, to look after their physical ailments and to teach them, all they can of the rudiments of education. At every turn they are hampered and harassed by the local police.

The glamour that was wont to shine round the young men and women who inaugurated the “settlement” movement in England and America, young people of education and culture who took up their living in the midst of the darkest corners of great cities to share the results of their larger opportunities with tenement dwellers, pales before the life and works of intellectual young Russia. The government closed the universities, for they were centers of revolt. But students who have lived, however briefly, in the blaze of active idealism, and who have been touched by the fire of enthusiasm to hasten the coming of Russia’s better day, are not content to return simply to their homes to await the opening of their universities at the will and pleasure of a reactionary, timid government. The free life, the glad life for Russia and all her people, is their goal. The movement tending toward that goal is their cause.

We sat down with our delighted hosts to a simple evening meal, and were still lingering over a companionable samovar when a clock in an adjoining room struck ten. The striking had scarcely ceased when a series of heavy blows descended upon the shutters of one of the windows and a voice bawled out:

“Open! Open to the police!{126}

One of our hosts groped through the adjoining room to light a small oil-lamp near the door. We in our room heard the crude rear door crack on its rusty hinges as it was swung wide. The tramp of heavy feet crossed the uneven floor, accompanied by the clank of spurs and the rattle of a dangling saber. A young officer of police swaggered into the room where we sat. At the threshold he paused, partly turned and bawled an order to the men behind him. The grounding of arms echoed his words.

“Your passports,” demanded the officer without preliminary.

“How many soldiers have you with you?” asked my companion.

“You may count,” replied the officer.

“One, two, three, five, seven, ten! Good. There are two of us.”

The officer betrayed his impatience. We handed him our American passports—which we naïvely thought would be sufficient to induce him to respect us. At that time I had not yet learned that in the heart of Russia to be an American citizen means no more than to belong to one of the tribes of the Iroquois Indians. We were possessed of other credentials in addition to our passports, however, and these were finally accepted, though with evident reluctance.

During the examination, our student-hosts sat nonchalantly by, smoking cigarettes. The ceremony was familiar enough to them. Their quarters were searched by this same officer and his men sometimes two or three times a week, and any book, pamphlet, or piece of handwriting that he took a fancy to declare “dangerous” was confiscated.

When the officer and his ten soldiers withdrew we{128}{127}

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The peasants’ friend

Medical students from Moscow University in charge of a famine relief station in Saratoff


could hear other feet outside the window. Curiosity prompted me to look out, so we unbarred the shutter and let the lamp-light flood the yard. Thirty more brown-coated soldiers were drawn up in two phalanxes.

Later we wondered, my companion and I, why this search officer brought forty soldiers with him. Thirty-six hours later, when we were really arrested and carried off to prison, the work was done by one police officer and one rural guard.

Toward midnight we rolled ourselves in our blankets and lay down on the floor to sleep. This is the common thing in peasants’ houses. The children and the very old sleep over the square, brick stove, on a little platform designed for the purpose, but the rest of the family, and strangers, are content with the floor. All that night we heard the slow tread of feet outside the windows. Two soldiers were keeping guard. Not till the larks had been up an hour in the adjoining fields, and day was fairly come, did these sentinels retire.

Early next morning peasants from the village began to wait upon us. We were friends of their friends and that was enough. They unbared the hardness of their lives with perfect freedom. One old man told us that he had been in jail no less than eight times because he had repeatedly volunteered to carry to the Czar—their “Little Father”—the petition of the village setting forth their wrongs. It seemed still to be the firm belief of these peasants that their condition was as it was because the Czar had never come to know of their plight. It was a striking fact throughout Russia that often among the most revolutionary peasants there was even down to the spring of 1906 strong loyalty to the Czar. Their revolt was against the government hedged round the Czar, and{130} barring the “Little Father” from his people. The first Duma dispelled this belief almost universally, but the first Duma was, at this time, a month away.

Three old muzhiks with long, white beards and clear, blue eyes told the story of how they and five others had gone as a deputation to the then governor of the province, hoping that he would open the way to the Czar for them. As a result of their faith they were stripped to the waist and flogged. Another was of a much larger deputation—more than sixty; thirty of these were sent to prison for a short time, and thirty-six received one hundred blows each. When they found that we were sympathetic listeners, they begged us to come and see the roofs of some of their houses which were being daily torn away to feed the horses. As the roofs were largely composed of straw-thatch, there was a certain amount of nourishment in them—a last resource in the fight against the universal hunger.

“Do you have big land-owners in America?” one man asked eagerly. “Are people prevented from earning enough to live on year after year?” All of the questions asked us were vital. They were frank enough about owning to revolt. “What’s to be done?” they said. “The mere renting of land is eighteen rubles (nine dollars) a dessiatine for a season. Where’s the money to come from to pay for this? The land is ours. We do the work, and we should have it.”

That very week a Cossack officer and a police officer had summoned all the people of the village together and warned them that if any of the land belonging to the landlords was touched, that “the village would be fired from the four corners, and they would not be responsible for what happened to the people in the village.” The land referred to belonged to two vast estates whose owners{131} had not even seen them for years—several hundred thousand acres lying absolutely idle!

The welcome we received at Pesky, our next stopping-place, was, if possible, more demonstrative than at Tsaritzin. The group of “intellectuals” here numbered four, two women and two men. They had gathered there in early November and in six months we were their first visitors. One of the students was acting as village school-master. The other was devoting himself entirely to the famine relief-work.

The women were both remarkable personalities. They had first met each other in a St. Petersburg prison, where they had both been confined for political offences. One, a woman of twenty-five, large and strong, and fearless, still carried the mark of a Cossack nagaika[8] across her forearm, and in one of her shoulders was a Cossack bullet. Her husband at the time of my visit was in prison. She had received an ordinary finishing-school education and begun the study of medicine. During the war she volunteered as a nurse in the Red Cross organization and was sent to Manchuria, but she was returned home for “scattering seeds of sedition” among the army. Pesky we found to be in an even more serious condition than Tsaritzin. The total population was about twenty-one hundred and the number of meals dispensed each day was more than eighteen hundred. In other words, only three hundred souls, or less than seventy-five families, were self-supporting.

One who passes through this district well understands how the peasants have come to feel that it is better to chance the bullets and the Cossack nagaika than endure passively the long-drawn sufferings of the life on their inadequate dessiatines. They are almost without hope;{132} and the hopeless are ever fearless. Industry intensified and lengthened to most cruel drudgery has little reward. Severest toil, early and late, and desperately constant while the season lasts, still is not productive of sufficient recompense to supply bread through the months when the fields lie buried under snow-drifts.

There was no mistaking the attitude of the peasants toward the young relief-workers, as we walked through the village streets with them. Children ran beside them, or called out to them. Old women addressed the women as “sister.” To the men they were “comrades.”

We entered many homes during the two days that we remained in this village. In each hut, however small, in every cottage, no matter how keen the distress, we were welcomed with obvious gladness. In one cramped hovel we found a young mother prostrate upon a pile of rags on the floor, very low with typhoid fever. Immediately beside her lay a child of three with scarlatina, and suspended from the ceiling over both their heads a crude cradle in which lay an unweaned baby which the mother was still nursing! In another we found a girl of eight wasted to a skeleton with inherited syphilis. An older sister had died of the same disease two months before. A boy lay at death’s door with scurvy. And so, from house to house we went looking upon scenes too dreadful to portray. Yet everywhere a smile greeted our entrance. In one house we found a very young girl about to become a mother. The Russian peasant is very strict in his attitude toward young girls, and sad and heavy is the lot of any peasant girl who sins. This girl dared not show herself out of her hut for fear of being publicly hooted. She was much exercised over the fate of her child, for she told us that the priest would not bless it at birth. Her mother then begged one of our party to come{134}{133}

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A typical cottage in the famine district of Saratoff

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Examination of credentials


and offer some little prayer which would save the child from the damnation which should justly fall upon the child-mother. An old man with a long white beard rushed out from another house as we passed and exhibited a wounded foot which he begged us to bandage.

Finally we were taken to the local “Duma” building, a town hall where all the males of twenty-one years of age and over gather from time to time to discuss the affairs of the community. About forty men followed us there and at the first opportunity began pouring out questions. Almost without exception these queries had to do with the land. In America did all the people starve half the year unless given food by the government, or by some other agency? What did we do with landlords in America who could not possibly work or use the land and yet would not allow the people to use it? These and other questions were put to us with great directness. At last I asked them what they proposed to do for themselves.

There was silence for a minute. Then one man, more outspoken than the rest, said: “We look to the Duma to give the land to us. We feel that it belongs to us, and we have confidence in the Duma.”

“And if you do not get it?”

The men stirred uneasily, then: “The soldiers have robbed us of our guns,” said one at last, “but we have left to us our wood-axes and our scythes. We cannot endure starvation any longer.”

This is the spirit that led to something over sixteen hundred “agrarian disturbances” during the year 1906—incipient jacquerie, foreshadowing, I believe, greater uprisings soon to overtake Russia.

That night about ten o’clock as we sat in the house of our friends we heard the soft tinkling of a ballilika out{136}side the windows, and presently the sound of many voices singing. They were low and restrained, but the words were clear. The music fairly thrilled us as we sat round the oil-lamp and our last samovar. It was the stirring Marche Funebre with words by Gorky.

At midnight we left Pesky. Our friends feared that perhaps they had been indiscreet in allowing the discussion in the little Duma building to continue so long. Free speech is a dangerous thing in Russia, even under the constitution. My companion and I, in our eagerness to grasp the actual state of mind of the peasants, had encouraged plain speaking. We had even spoken with more frankness than discretion ourselves. There had been forty or more men in the room when we began our “interview” and the number had soon swelled. We were hopeful that all were friendly, but in Russia one never knows.

The night was wonderful, moonless but starried. As we drove out of the yard our friends, the four who were feeding, tending, and revolutionizing Pesky, took up the refrain the peasants had sung in serenade two hours before. The last sounds we heard were the voices of this brave little band singing ever so softly, but with, oh, so much feeling, the refrain of the peasants’ Marseillaise.

Our road turned out to be terribly rough. In places it ran to a mere trail which more than once we lost. Then we had to retrace our way, or circle about till we found it again. The wagon in which we rode was springless and every jolt became painful. A little after three o’clock the larks began to sing. With the earliest light in the east we could see them quivering high in air, joyously hailing the day. The dawn wind came up chill and struck us to the marrow. We shivered and drew our{137} blankets closer around us. Five o’clock had sounded when we drove into a post-station village where we were to change horses. We told the men to make ready the fresh troika quickly; in the meantime we would order a samovar and eggs at the post-house. The aged mistress of the place was already stirring when we entered and she promised us the tea and eggs “directly.” But before the water had come to the boil we were placed under arrest and our plans for the remainder of our trip altered “in the name of the Czar.{138}



“Cossacks”—Questioned—Taken—Five charges to account for—Accused of being an agitator—Eighteen versts to the gendarmerie—A tedious night—Back to Saratoff—“Take the dogs away”—Prison—Clamoring for freedom—Discouragement—Parole—Release.

SLEEP laid siege to us instantly we entered the warm room of the station-house. I noticed two girls asleep in a bed in one corner of the room, and a young man, rolled in an overcoat, on the bare floor, snoring loudly in the opposite corner. More than twenty hours had passed since we had slept and our painful night ride had wearied me excessively. Furthermore, I was faint with hunger and eager for a glass of hot tea. I dropped into a chair by the table and lolled back in it, nodding miserably, while the old woman of the station polished her samovar.

When I opened my eyes a rural policeman stood before me, and with him was the chief of the local police. We submitted gracefully to his long and searching examination. Who were we? What were we? What were we doing in that place? Where had we come from? Why did we go there? By whose authority were we traveling through the country? These, and many other questions, were rapidly put to us, and as promptly answered. We produced our American passports, our Rus{139}sian credentials, our photographic permit. Still this officer persisted in trying to discover a flaw in one of our papers. Suddenly he pointed to the Saratoff stamp on the back of our passports. It is customary for travelers in Russia to send their passports to the police to be examined and stamped immediately upon arrival in every town of any size. This is almost invariably done through the hotel office. A few days before, when we had arrived in Saratoff, we had followed the custom and surrendered our passports to the hotel. In due course they had come back to us, properly stamped, as we had reason to believe. This chief of police put his finger on these Saratoff stamps and declared that they had not been put on by the police. We asked him how he accounted for them, and he replied: “You probably put them on yourselves!”

The tea and eggs had now been set on the table, and I called for two extra glasses and chairs, and begged the police-master and the strajnik to join us at our modest breakfast, adding that we would all feel more like continuing conversation after we had drunk hot tea. The police-master wavered, but we pressed him until he and the strajnik both fell to upon the eggs and the tea with as much apparent relish as my companion and I, who had been on the road since midnight.

“I have been pacing that road all night,” remarked the strajnik.

“What for?” I asked politely.

“You!” he rejoined.

We changed the topic for a few minutes and talked pleasantly of the weather, the spring ploughing, and other safe topics, hoping to bring out the friendly side of the men in order that we might find out what we were “in” for.{140}

“The other day at Alexanderburg you photographed the priest,” at last said the chief of police.

We looked at him and laughed.

“What of it?” we asked.

“Antichrist!” he replied.

Ah! That was interesting. Several days before when passing through Alexanderburg we had found a village priest in the midst of a quaint Easter-time ceremony, going from house to house blessing the bread which was to be eaten immediately after the close of the Lenten fast. He had with him several acolytes and assistants and the picture they presented was full of color and quaint interest. We asked the priest if he objected to being photographed, and he not only readily consented, but expressed his pleasure at the suggestion. When we had taken several photographs of him and his followers we put a shining silver ruble on the plate he carried. Such unwonted liberality evidently had excited his suspicions to the extent that he had reported the matter to the police.

“You paid one ruble and a half (seventy-five cents) for two dinners at Mordwa,” went on the police-master impressively.

“What else?” we asked.

“At Tsaritzin you visited the free dining-rooms and photographed the village baths.”

We now realized that we had been followed every step of the way, or else a report had been received from each place we had passed through. The only village which the chief failed to mention was Pesky, from which we had just come. This was the one place where we had been indiscreet. The report of a spy upon the informal meeting which we had quite without forethought been instrumental in gathering the night before might easily have been construed to our serious disadvantage. Cer{141}tainly we would be convicted for “propaganda”; possibly of a yet more serious offence, which would mean expulsion from the country, or worse.

We chatted with the two men in uniform with all the nonchalance we could muster, we plied them with tea and boiled eggs. At last the police-master, in a sudden burst of frankness, exclaimed: “It’s all a mistake! The man’s a fool!”

The man took from his pocket a paper and spread it on the table before us. “I have no right to do it,” he said, “but I want to convince you that I am not responsible. The starshina wrote to the zemstvo nachalnik, who has ordered your arrest. We have had men posted on all the roads all night waiting for you.”

A starshina is a man of the people, elected by the people every three years, to preside over the meetings of several villages in a given district, which are called to consider matters of local interest. The zemstvo nachalnik is a superior officer who presides over a larger district—a section of a government.

“Read this for yourselves,” said the police-master.

We read. The general charge against us was “propaganda.” But when we read the specific charges they were all so ridiculous that we sat back in dumb amazement:

1. We had photographed a priest—therefore we “were antichrist.”

2. We had paid one ruble and a half for two meals. The comment to this was to the effect that “no one would throw away money like this who did not have an ulterior motive for winning the goodwill of the people.”

3. One of us (namely, myself) had a small pointed beard and “looked like a Jew.”

4. This man (namely, myself) had false hair.{142}

5. This same man smoked a gold pipe.

The first two clauses were understandable. We had photographed the priest—asked his permission and then given him a ruble. And we had paid seventy-five cents for our meals and were willing to admit that we might properly have paid less, but the woman who had prepared these meals was very old and her abject poverty aroused our pity.

The other “charges” were less clear. I have been mistaken for French, German, Swedish, and Russian at one time or another, but never before has any one suggested I might be Jewish. As for my hair being false—I have worn it since birth. I never saw a gold pipe, that I can recall. I certainly never owned one.

“There must be something back of all this,” said my companion when we had read the paper to the end.

The conclusion drawn from these charges, as penned at the bottom of the page, was that all these strange and unusual things about us made us suspicious persons, and “probably we were propagandists.”

The fact that there was no reference to Pesky only added to our fears, and forced us to the conclusion that this preliminary, and seemingly slight, report against us was merely as a blind, and an excuse for taking us into custody. The more serious charges would be forthcoming at the proper moment, we were convinced. However, we agreed to assume nothing, and to shake free of the threatening entanglement as speedily as possible. It soon developed that we were anticipating, without reckoning with our captors. Any little man of brief authority may order an arrest, but, as we were destined to learn, only a governor or governor-general may order a release. And the way from a remote village starshina to the governor is long and tedious.{143}

“Since we must appear before a magistrate, or whatever corresponds to a magistrate, let us go and have it over with him,” I said, when the last egg was eaten and our samovar exhausted. “We can leave the luggage here.”

“But it is eighteen versts,” answered the police-master.

“Eighteen versts!” I had supposed we were to be taken across the road, or around the corner.

“You may as well pay your driver,” the police-master went on.

We reluctantly dismissed our man and sadly watched the fresh horses which had been made ready for us unharnessed and returned to their stable.

Prisoners we literally were, despite the goodwill of the police-master that we had been at such pains to win. The soldier who had first intruded upon us was left to guard us while the police-master retired to write his report to his superior, to whom we were to be delivered in the next village, eighteen versts away. We were not permitted to leave the room, but several men about the station joined us and freely sympathized with us. One took occasion to warn us that we would surely be thoroughly searched at some near period, and if we had any compromising letters or papers about us we had better get rid of them. It so happened that I had in my portfolio a letter from a friend in New York in which was described a scheme which had been launched in America in aid of “Free Russia.” This scheme included the issuance of a series of facsimile greenbacks stamped “The United States of Russia.” I knew well enough that that letter would unquestionably incriminate us under the present circumstances. By stealth I succeeded in extracting the letter from its place and tearing it into{144} small pieces, but how to get rid of it was a puzzle. I carried the torn pieces in the palm of my hand for a long time. Nor did I see a chance to drop them until the wagon was being made ready which was to carry us on our way. While the police-master and the soldier were talking together, I succeeded in dropping the little ball of torn paper unnoticed into a hole in the ground. Then, as I turned round, I tripped over a peat brick, which fell over the hole.

A discussion arose as to the number of horses we should have. The government furnished only one, the police-master told us, but we might have two more by paying for them ourselves. The idea of paying to be carried to prison did not appeal to either of us, so it was finally decided to give us two, inasmuch as there would be four men in the wagon, including our guard and the driver.

The wagon was a kind of basket on trucks. There were no seats. An armful of straw was placed in the bottom and on this we sat. There was a simple seat for the driver, and the strajnik who was to accompany us shared the driver’s seat, only his back was to the horses and his feet in the wagon, his legs so spread apart that mine stretched between his. His rifle lay across his knees and his saber rested against his side.

“Fiercesome prisoners you have,” I ventured.

“Every man who has two legs and uses them is liable to arrest these days,” he replied.

By the time Liski was reached we were on fairly friendly terms with our guard.

We were taken directly to the local gendarmerie, which was all the jail the town possessed. The room we were led to was of moderate size, containing two benches, a table, and a bed. An armed guard was placed in the{145} room with us, and periodically changed every few hours, up to the time of our leaving, the following day. The priestoff, and indeed every official of authority, was away, and we were informed that we must await the return of either the priestoff or zemstvo nachalnik. Toward evening we grew very hungry, for since early morning we had had nothing to eat, and then only the inevitable tea and boiled eggs. “We must feed you. We are bound to do that!” said the gracious chief of the gendarmes. But at seven o’clock there was still no food forthcoming.

“Can you not find us some bread and cheese?” we asked.

“Cheese! People here do not know how to hold their mouths for cheese!” replied our guard.

“Plain bread, then,” we said. Any food would be better than none. The gendarme told us that he had had nothing since morning, either, and that when the famine was on they all became accustomed to living on next to nothing. He was most philosophical about it. The milk, he explained, was not good, and all food, except black bread, and eggs, and tea, was scarce. We did not relish the idea of being detained long in that kind of a place, so we begged our guards to hurry us on to Saratoff that night, for we were told that the return of the proper authorities was a matter of complete uncertainty and if we wished we might be transferred to Saratoff.

This we did desire most ardently. The distance to Saratoff was fifty-eight versts, and we were promised an immediate start if fresh horses could be procured in the village. Two gendarmes were commissioned to secure these horses. For a long time they did not return, and when they did it was with the report that there were not two horses in the village in condition to start that night,{146} so we reluctantly abandoned all hope of pushing on before the following day, and then turned our attention once more to the food question, which was fast becoming serious. A samovar was promised us “directly.”

Earlier in the day we had attempted to send a message to friends in Saratoff, but were prevented. We now learned that telegraphic communication between this place and Saratoff had been temporarily resumed, whereupon we thought to inform friends of our plight in case the situation developed the serious aspect which we had reason to believe it might. My companion broached the matter to our guard, who called another guard, who said he would go with one of us to the telegraph office. My companion started. At the very door of the office they were overtaken by a messenger from the chief of the gendarmes, forbidding us to send out any message by telegraph or otherwise. This made us feel more than ever that we had been acquainted with only part of the report concerning us. Furthermore, our guards were extremely watchful of us. Their attitude clearly indicated that they were impressed with our importance—or possible importance.

In the meantime I grew restless in the stuffy room where we were confined, and asked that I might go out for a breath of air. My request was granted, but a guard with a gun accompanied me. Some small boys were at play in the road. Their game was a ball-game played with a miniature catapult. I watched them a little while and then made to join them. This seemed to please them, and until dark stopped us I continued to play with the boys—my guard standing by all the while, amused, and ever watchful.

On his way back from the telegraph office my companion succeeded in negotiating with some one for four{147} eggs, which were boiled for us, and served when the samovar was at last ready. Weary and worn with our long journey, without sleep and still very hungry, we stretched out on narrow wooden benches shortly after nine o’clock, and I, at least, slept soundly till five o’clock in the morning. The only bed in the room was used by our guards. They did not lie down, but reclined against the pillows, their rifles always in their hands ready for instant use.

A little before seven o’clock the following morning we were en route for Saratoff. As on the previous day, we had two horses, and a wagon without seats. Our driver proved to be an out-and-out revolutionist. He freely damned the army, the police, and every representative of the government. He even rebelled at sharing his seat with our guard, and tried to make him walk. He sympathized with all who fell under the finger of the authorities, whether for political or criminal offenses. Such recklessness of speech is unusual and is accounted for by the fact that this uncouth lout felt physically superior to the guard, and had little terror of his authority. A few versts out of the town he held his horses to a slow walk. “Why don’t you go faster?” we asked.

“You’ll soon enough be under lock and key,” he answered cheerfully. “Make the most of the sunshine while you have it. God knows when you’ll get more of it.”

Midway my interpreter suddenly remembered a letter in his pocket-book which contained the names and addresses of several prominent revolutionists. His tardy recollection of this document startled us both, for there seemed to be no way of disposing of it, our guard was so painfully watchful. We succeeded in transferring it under our coats from his hand to mine, and I slowly{148} and patiently tore it to small bits, and, as often as seemed possible, dropped one bit at a time out of the wagon. This was a long and delicate business, for if we had been discovered it would have added one more embarrassing charge against us. From the point where we effected the transfer of the paper from his hands to mine to the point where the last scrap was dropped was twelve versts.

The long, dusty ride to Saratoff came to an end early in the afternoon. At the edge of the town we asked our guard to permit us to stop at a fruit-store and purchase oranges, but this he curtly refused. We found a sweet revenge for this in a moment. The axle of our wagon suddenly broke and threw us all out into the street. When it was found that it would be impossible to immediately repair the damage our guard ordered us to pick up our luggage and march on. This we politely declined to do. Go with him we would—there was no alternative. But carry our luggage we certainly would not. We also reminded him that he was responsible for it, as well as ourselves, whereupon he gathered our bags and blankets under his arm and struggled on with them, sweating like a stevedore, his gun and saber very much in the way. That we made an unusual spectacle was evident from the attention bestowed upon us by the townspeople.

First we were marched to the office of the priestoff, but he was out of town. Then to the office of the Espravnik, and he was out of town. “Then you must go somewhere,” said our guard.

“Do you mean to prison?”

“Yes. Until the priestoff comes.”

Again we made an effort to communicate with friends.

“Take the dogs away—don’t stand there talking.”

We turned at these words and looked upon the watch{149}man. He, at least, had not been impressed with our importance from our appearance. The prison to which we were conducted was near by, and a messenger had evidently announced our coming, for we were led immediately and without ceremony to a cell about ten feet long by five feet broad, one of a row, each one just like the next. The face of an old man with gray beard was pressed against the peep-hole of the adjoining cell. We entered the one to which we were assigned—both of us in one—and the heavy timber door banged shut behind us.

The cell was mostly below the ground. Flush with the ceiling was a small window which looked out level with the ground. At one end of the cell was a bare wooden platform, like a wide shelf. This was the only bed provided. In a corner near to the ceiling was a small icon. Other furniture there was none.

Many initials and names were inscribed on the walls, most of them cut with a knife or other sharp instrument.

We settled ourselves as best we could and tried to devise a plan of release. The vermin which always swarm in Russian prisons were not slow in discovering us, and it early became evident that we must sooner or later submit to their persistent attacks. It was, indeed, several weeks before I entirely got rid of the effects of these pestiferous creatures.

In due time a keeper came to inform us we might send for any food or drink that we desired. This was an improvement over the gendarmerie where we had passed the previous night, but we were now bent on getting out rather than upon making ourselves permanently comfortable. We put a few questions to the guard, which he answered readily.

“What kind of prisoners are usually put into this cell?{150}


“Civil and criminal prisoners as well as political?”

“Yes. Anybody.”

“How long are we to remain here?”

“Till the priestoff comes.”

“Where is he?”

“I don’t know.”

“When will he be here?”

“I don’t know.”

“Have you no idea what time he will arrive? Will it be in an hour, or not until night?”

“Oh, he is away. He may be back in a week, or he may not be here for a month.”

“And we must wait for him—perhaps a month?”


We then explained to him at length that we were American citizens, that we should be taken immediately before some authority and given ample satisfaction for such treatment. After much argument he consented to take a message for us to a certain superior officer’s assistant. The answer came back, “The prisoners must wait till the priestoff comes.”

We sent a more imperative message, demanding that some one be sent to us without delay.

“Nothing’s to be done. Keep still,” was the answer returned.

A story had recently been told us of a German subject who had been arrested in that very province and all trace of him lost. The German government had pressed its inquiries, but to no end. The man had disappeared as completely as if the earth had swallowed him. At last, after two years, he was found in a prison like ours. He had been locked up there and forgotten. Our arrest might work out in the same way—a most discouraging{151}

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A village priest entering a house to bless the bread after the Lenten fast

For taking this photograph the author was charged with being “antichrist{153}{152}

thought. In the first place, the real charges against us might be serious in themselves, and whether they were or not, we were in prison, no one in the world knew of our whereabouts, and we might lie there till we rotted without discovering any means of escape or rescue. It is this absolute uncertainty of the outcome that makes arrest in Russia so distinctly unpleasant. After reflecting upon thoughts like these for a time, my companion and I began to feel a bit desperate.

The plan we finally adopted was a simple one: In the door of our cell was a small window looking into the corridor. Every time we heard a footstep up or down the corridor we placed our faces close to the little window and raised our voices right lustily in a prolonged miserere. We fairly yelled ourselves hoarse. At last an officer had to come to see who the two disturbers were. By this man we sent a third appeal to the commanding officer of the prison, and a third message was brought back to us:

“I command the prisoners to be silent.”


The third day of our arrest we were paroled pending an investigation by order of the governor—who, by the way, was M. Stolypin, soon to be introduced to the world as the prime minister of Russia. Nothing of a serious nature was discovered against us, and in due time we were released. There was no apology, no explanation. The espravnik ventured to congratulate us that we were not flogged by some of the gendarmes. This often happens, he told us, and we were lucky to have escaped.

We had evidently run amuck of the unutterably stupid police administration which the peasants are finding intolerable. During the year 1906 I was arrested five times, and this instance is thoroughly characteristic of{154} each performance. A traveler, like myself, finds it inconvenient and annoying. The peasants find it brutal and not infrequently cruel. Whatever of faith has been lost in the Czar, the direct aim of the jacquerie of the next few years will be the landlords and the police administration.{155}



A tyrannical régime—A young girl’s daring—Tortures and outrages—Entertained by the governor—A kindly police-master—Grim prison walls—Difficulties—Appeal to the governor—Shackled prisoners—Marie Spiradonova—A terrible tale—Interruptions—A Spartan mother—Letters from the fair prisoner—“Greetings to France, to England, and to America.”

ADJOINING the province of Saratoff, where I was arrested, is Tamboff, another government within the famine belt, where the long northern winters are more bitter because of the cruel ravages of starvation and hideous disease; and where there is—worst of all—the living, stalking dread of inhuman officialdom, martial law (which means Cossack excesses), police brutality, and governmental impositions that warrant the maddest crimes of men.

Here lived a young woman of twenty-one—a modern Charlotte Corday—who, early in the year 1906, killed the lieutenant-governor of the province. When her ghastly deed had been noised abroad—and the penalty she paid—the peasants gathered in their churches to offer thanksgiving and praise for using this girl as an instrument of His Divine Justice.

At the moment that I emerged from my Saratoff experience Marie Spiradonova was the most talked-of {156}person in Russia, and perhaps the most notable prisoner in the world. The grim white-washed walls of Tamboff prison held her securely, while newspapers in Russia that dared to set forth the facts of her deed and the treatment she afterward received were confiscated by the police, and a Spiradonova League in France rolled up a lengthy list of subscribers. Correspondents from Germany, from France, from England, were sent to Tamboff to penetrate those stern walls and gather from the girl’s own lips the tragic story that was then thrilling a nation and interesting a continent. But for once neither diplomacy nor influence were of avail. Marie’s isolation was absolute and no one save her mother was privileged to so much as see her. In the meantime alarming reports of her precarious condition were emanating from Tamboff and in many sections there was intense excitement concerning her. It seemed well-nigh hopeless for me to reach her, yet I greatly desired to interview this daring spirit and to verify the extraordinary details of her ill-treatment that had kindled such intense feeling throughout Russia. Through the merest chance I succeeded. No one else has seen her or talked with her even up to the present time (she is now at hard labor in the mines of Akatui in central Siberia).

The story of Marie Spiradonova, which I set out to examine, was as follows: The lieutenant-governor of the province of Tamboff, one Luchenovsky, was one of the most tyrannical administrators in all Russia. His systematic cruelty and excessive severity spread terror throughout all the district where his power extended. He ordered the flogging of peasants and the burning of homes. It was said that he did not rebuke, if he did not actually and openly encourage, Cossack outrages; and all who knew of the inhumanities he practised and{157}

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Governor Xanugievitch of Tamboff



encouraged declared that for so wicked a man this world had no place. One day Luchenovsky was in a village where some Cossacks captured a young peasant girl and kept her awhile for their sport. When they had done with her they threw her dishonored body into a near-by lake. Marie Spiradonova chanced to be in the village when this happened and she knew that Luchenovsky was aware of this incident and that he took no steps either to punish or to prevent further outrage.

A few days later Luchenovsky stood on a railroad station-platform waiting for a coming train. With a Browning revolver in her hand, Marie Spiradonova from a longish range took careful aim and fired five shots, each shot taking effect, though Luchenovsky did not die till a month afterward. During the time of his lingering death Marie wrote from her prison-cell to her sister, “I gave him five bullets. I did not know he was so thick as to need a cannon.”

She turned the sixth bullet toward her own breast, but not before a crowd, mostly soldiers, closed round her, tore the revolver from her hand, and began to beat her. They tore her clothing from her body. A Cossack officer seized her by the plait of her hair—brown hair, dark and wavy—and threw her forcibly to the ground. Consciousness left her. Eye-witnesses told how the officer then grasped one of her ankles and dragged her along the ground to a carriage in which she was conveyed to a near-by gendarmerie.

In this temporary prison she was in charge of two men, the same Cossack officer, Zhdanov, who had dragged her away, and a police officer of the rank of priestoff, named Abramoff. These two men remained with their prisoner and began drinking heavily of vodka. Then they stripped their prisoner, stark naked, and even at the{160} sight of her bruised and bleeding body did not stop their hellish inquisition of sensuous debauchery and torture. They scarred her quivering flesh with the lighted ends of their cigarettes. They caressed and they pounded her by turns. Immediately afterward all of these revolting details were given to the world, yet no steps were taken by the officials, or by the government, to in any way reprove or censure these two men—one an officer of the police, the other an army officer. A writer in a prominent Moscow paper dared to speak out against this shame, and declared fearlessly that this girl had deliberately and thoughtfully staked her life against the life of a tyrant in order that her people might be saved from his administration of blood and suffering. For this temerity the paper was at once suppressed, and not only the writer, but the whole editorial staff, was forced to flee into hiding.

Marie Spiradonova was an assassin, therefore the military court decreed that she should die. Such was the situation when I visited Tamboff. The outcry which went up against taking the life of this girl eventually became so loud that her sentence was commuted to twenty years at hard labor. But at the time of my visit she was still under sentence of death.

Before presenting my request for an interview to any official in Tamboff, I decided to cultivate the acquaintance of the governor of the province, to discover what manner of man I had to deal with. With this in view, I called at the official residence the morning after my arrival in the city, and in due time was presented to his excellency, Governor Xanugievitch. For an hour we discussed the agrarian situation, the famine, the Duma elections, and other topics pertinent to the hour, but never a word of the real object of my visit. The Gov{161}ernor proved most affable and hospitable, and he extended a cordial invitation to me to dine with him.

At dinner we toasted the Czar, President Roosevelt, the Duma, and ourselves. We talked politics, art, literature, travel, and epicureanism. My host was a charmingly cultivated man and he impressed me as a much more competent and conscientious administrator than other governors whom I had met.

The next man below me at table was the police-master of Tamboff. Casually he asked me if I knew about Marie Spiradonova. I was startled by the abruptness with which he introduced the subject that was giving me so much concern, but I answered carelessly:

“I have seen her name in the papers.”

“The papers say terrible things about our treatment of her,” he added.

“Newspapers are the same the world over,” I responded diplomatically.

After a pause the police-master went on: “It is very hard on an official like myself. You see she is in a prison in my city, and many people—revolutionists and fanatics—believe I am responsible for all the cruelties that the newspapers say she has suffered.”

“Did you know the man she shot?” I asked.

“Yes—and while I cannot countenance assassination, I must say that he was a very bad man and deserved all he got.”

This was the first time an official had ever been so outspoken, and I was surprised. The next thing he said fairly made my heart thump.

“So many lies have been told about this girl that I wish some one who would tell the literal truth would interview her and give the facts to the world—up to now no one has seen her at all.{162}

“I should think you could easily find some one to do that,” I replied.

“No,” said he, “it is not easy to find one you can trust.”

With all the nonchalance I could command I then said:

“If you care to arrange for me to see her I will not only report truthfully, but I will show you my report before I publish it.”

The man looked deeply grateful, and at once petitioned the governor to grant me permission to visit the much-talked-of prisoner in her cell. The governor hesitated at first, but finally consented; thus before I had really begun the difficult task of securing entrance to the prison, the whole matter seemed settled for me.

In the light of the revelations that followed I can only explain the attitude of the police-master and the governor in one way. Both of them are honest men, and neither had, up to that time, I really believe, a true version of the story.

No attempt was made to prejudice me against Spiradonova. “I will grant you permission to see her, and I shall be interested in learning your opinion,” was all the governor said. The police-master offered to escort us to the prison himself. I was to be accompanied by Mr. Nahum Luboshitz of London, a photographer and interpreter. The rendezvous was at the prison-gate at three o’clock in the afternoon.

We arrived first, Luboshitz and I. A soldier in a long, brown coat, with a gun over his shoulder, paced slowly before the great iron gate that joined the strong walls.

“Please don’t look so intently, sir,” he said approaching.


“The superior officer is very severe,” he answered. “He will punish me if you look so sharply at the prison.”

As if mortal eye could penetrate those walls!

As the clock struck three a carriage drove up and the police-master joined us.

A peep-hole cut in the small door of the huge gate was slipped back in response to the heavy knock sounded by the chief of police. A pair of eyes surveyed us, and the small door was thrown open. The chief bowed his head to escape the low portal, and stepped in. We followed. Several soldiers stood in the breach between the outer wall and the prison proper. These saluted. We went directly to the kontora, or office, where we found the prison-master—a burly, blue-eyed, sandy-bearded fellow, who looked the bully.

Now, the rank of prison-master is equal with the rank of police-master, and between these two men, as also with the commander of the military forces in and about the prison, who again is of equal rank, is a constant clash and friction. The police-master presented us to the prison-master and told him we had come to see Spiradonova. The prison-master greeted us pleasantly enough, surveyed us with obvious and open suspicion, and replied that this we might not do without a written order from the governor. The chief told him that the governor had sanctioned our coming, and asked him to escort us. This made little impression upon the little czar, whose kingdom is encircled with iron bars and strong walls. It took a good deal of persuasion to get him to yield even to the extent of telephoning to the governor to learn if it was his wish that we should see Spiradonova. This was finally done, however, and an affirmative answer received.{164}

The prison-master, from the moment we entered the prison, put every obstacle in our way that he could, and took advantage of every opportunity to thwart our purpose—which was to get the true story of the girl from her own lips. When the governor telephoned that he had asked the police-master to accompany us to see that every courtesy was extended to us, and to insure that we saw Marie Spiradonova in her own cell, there seemed nothing else for the prison-master to do but to yield.

Shackles, clamped round human ankles, clanked and rattled in the dark, damp corridors down which we were led. At a turning stood a group of “politicals”—beardless college boys in their student jackets. We crossed a yard, passed the windows of a workshop where busy looms rattled. A long, low workshop, from which issued noises of the forge, of iron whelting and hammer strokes, stood in the center of the yard. We passed round it and entered a court, at the end of which stood a similar, but smaller, building of whitewashed stone and low roof, with iron-grated windows. The door stood to one side and was approached by a small, wooden porch. We entered the outer door and turned abruptly to the left and stood before a barred door with a small peep-hole, crossed by iron, cut at eye level. The chief of police headed our file; I followed, and at my heels Mr. Luboshitz, behind him the prison-master, a military officer, several soldiers and three prison officials. The chief threw open the door and held it wide with extended arm for me to pass in first.

I stepped over the threshold and stood face to face with the most famous “terrorist” in Russia.

She was a delicate girl with soft, blue eyes that deepened to violet as the pink in her clear cheeks deepened to a hectic red as she talked. Her wavy brown hair was{165} parted in the middle and draped over her temples to hide hideous scars left by the kicks of the Cossacks. Her costume was a simple, blue, prison dress.

She stood quietly awaiting our approach, a little mystified apparently.

The chief of police was the first to speak.

“Mademoiselle,” he said, removing his hat and addressing her with all the courtesy of a gentleman approaching any lady in his wife’s drawing-room; “Mademoiselle, these gentlemen are from America. They would like to talk with you for a few minutes if you feel equal to it.”

“Certainly,” she replied, and turned with a grateful smile toward me.

With characteristic delicacy the very polite chief of police at once withdrew, and as long as we remained with her he continued to pace the outer court. Not so the prison-master, soldiers, and other officials.

“Do you speak French, mademoiselle?” I asked.

“Yes, monsieur, a little; or German.”

“What about English?”

“A leetle,” she answered, laughing nervously.

She was still standing. There was but one chair in the room, a wooden chair. This I drew toward her and she sat down. As she did so her handkerchief dropped from her hand. We all noticed it, for it was wet and stained with blood.

Luboshitz picked it up and handed it to her. As he turned away I saw beads of cold sweat standing on his brow, and he told me afterward that he thought he was on the point of fainting.

“Once I knew all the languages, monsieur,” she went on, “but since my head was hurt I find it difficult to remember.{166}

Her voice was soft and rich, even melodious.

“Are you comfortable—and well?” I asked—with awkwardness, I must confess.

Je suis très malade.

The prison-master interrupted.

“Speak only in Russian,” he said.

We knew it would be difficult to talk freely in a language which he and the soldiers understood, and so Luboshitz began at once to photograph her. While he was doing this I stood near her, and as frequently as seemed expedient we exchanged sentences in French.

“Did you come to Tamboff expressly to see me, monsieur?”

“Yes, mademoiselle. Of course.”

“Then people are talking about me?”

“They are, indeed. And not in Russia only, but in other countries. In France there is a Spiradonova League.”

“Speak Russian!” commanded the prison-master.

As she leaned against the white wall near her barred window, she said:

“That is what I mind most, monsieur—that soldier who is always looking in at me.”

Her head rested against the cold plaster, and a half shadow fell across her face. Her delicate mouth was drawn tight, but her eyes shot bright glances toward us. She was so pathetically glad at our coming—probably the first bit of cheerful change since her incarceration. In the room was a dingy bed and a shaky table, which with the one chair comprised all of the furniture. As she talked a beautiful expression played over her regular features, and I thought of the word applied to her by the police-master—“Exalté.”

“To see you, mademoiselle,” I ventured again in{168}{167}

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Marie Spiradonova in prison—the girl who shot the governor of Tamboff


French, “one would think that you looked upon your situation here as if it were the hour of your greatest happiness—”

“Ah, monsieur, in a way I am happy, but—”

A hand rested on my shoulder.

Once too often had we defied the authorities.

“Very well,” I answered. “Let her tell her story in Russian, from the very beginning.”

“She may not speak further,” added the prison-master.

“But we came here to listen to her story.”

“That is impossible.”

“But we have the governor’s permission.”

“Have you it in writing?”

“The police-master is our cicerone.”

We called to him and asked him if it was not his understanding that we were to hear her story from her own lips.

“Assuredly. It was the governor’s expressed wish,” he answered.

“I cannot permit it,” sternly returned the prison-master.

“You must. That is why I came with them, to see that they got every word from her.”

“I am the responsible man here, and I cannot permit her to speak.”

The parley continued, but the prison-master was obdurate.

At last Spiradonova spoke: “Believe absolutely nothing unless you hear it from me.”

She uttered the words slowly, distinctly, each syllable weighted with meaning.

The situation was most uncomfortable. The police-master was deeply embarrassed and annoyed. The{170} prison-master grim. Spiradonova cool, contained, and, in her attitude toward the prison-master, defiant and scornful.

Turning to me, the police-master said: “The man is a fool—a beast! Does he not see that here is his opportunity to clear away those awful charges? What story can you report now? That he would not let you talk to her! Fool!”

The prison-master was determined that the story of Marie Spiradonova should not be told us by her. Recognizing the futility of further parleying, I finally asked her if the letter she had succeeded in smuggling out to a friend a little while before was true in every detail.

“Yes,” she answered, “in every word!”

When the interview was forced to a conclusion, I extended my hand toward her. Her fingers closed round mine with a firm and certain grip. She looked me fairly in the eyes. I felt that I stood in the presence of one whose inner calm was strong, and whose motives were as noble as pure. It was Napoleon who said: “One may be deceived in a face. But in a hand never.” The hand of Spiradonova is large and full. Her fingers are slightly tapering, but strong—the hand of a strong woman.

“Monsieur,” she called, as I stepped over the threshold, “take my greetings to France, to England, and to America.”


Her letter, describing the incidents which followed her shooting of Luchenovsky, is a remarkable transcript of a present-day inquisition. Here is the body of the letter:

When I had fired five times at him, the escort recovered themselves. The platform was crowded with Cossacks, and there were shouts of “Strike,” “Slash,” “Fire”! and swords were drawn. When I saw this, I thought my end had come, and I decided not to{171} give myself up alive. With this in view, I pointed my revolver at my head, when I was stunned by several blows, and fell flat on the platform. Further blows on the face and head sent a thrill of pain through my whole body. I tried to say “Leave me to be shot,” but blows fell continuously. I tried to protect my face with my hands, but they were pushed away with the butts of the rifles. Then the Cossack officers seized me by my braid of hair, lifted me up bodily, and with a great swing threw me down on the platform. I lost my senses. My hands were unclasped, and the blows fell on my face and head. Then they dragged me by one leg down the stair-case, my head bumping on each step. Then they took me again by the braid, and lifted me on to the vehicle of the isvoschik. They took me to a house, and the Cossack officer asked me my name. When making the attempt I had decided not to hide my name, but at this moment I forgot my name. They beat me again on the face and breast. When I was taken to the police station they undressed me and searched me, and took me to a cold cell with a wet, dirty, stone floor. At about noon or one o’clock, the assistant chief of police, Zhdanov, and a Cossack officer, Abramov, came. They stayed in my cell, with short intervals, till eleven at night. They examined me with refined methods of torture that Ivan the Terrible might have envied. Zhdanov would kick me into the corner of the cell, and then the Cossack would throw me back to Zhdanov, who put his foot on my neck. They ordered me to be stripped, at the same time preventing the cold cell from being warmed. They flogged me with the nagaika, with terrible oaths, saying: “Now, then ..., deliver us a thrilling speech!” One of my eyes was quite closed at that time, and the right side of my face terribly bruised. Pressing on that sore place, they would ask: “Painful, dear?” with a sardonic smile. “Now tell us, who are your comrades?” I was often delirious, but had a sense of dread of saying anything, and I am sure there was nothing in what I said but unconnected nonsense.

When I came to, I told them that I would answer the questions put to me by the proper officials; also that I belonged to the town of Tamboff, and that Procuror Kamenev and other gendarmes could testify to this. This provoked quite a storm of indignation. They pulled hairs out of my head one by one, and asked where other revolutionists could be found. They pressed their lighted cigarettes on my bare body, saying: “Cry out, then, you wretch!” They stamped on my feet with their heavy boots, pressed them {172}as if in a vise, and shouted: “Scream, then, you ——. We have made whole villages bellow, but you, miserable little girl, haven’t screamed once, either at the station or here. But we will make you scream. We will amuse ourselves with your sufferings. We will give you to the Cossacks for the night.” “No,” said Abramov, “we will have you for ourselves first, and then give you to the Cossacks.” Brutal hugging followed, with shouts of “Scream, then!” But I am positive that I did not scream once, either at the station or police office. I only talked half-consciously. At eleven o’clock, they had recorded my disposition, but they declined to produce it in Tamboff, because I was delirious all the time.

Then I was taken by train to Tamboff. The train is moving slowly. It is cold and dark. The air is thick with Abramov’s brutal oaths. He swears at me terribly. I felt the breath of death. Even the Cossacks felt uneasy. “Why are you silent, men? Sing! Let those wretches die with our merriment.” Then shouting and whistling began. Passions ran high. Eyes and teeth glittered, and the singing was disgusting. I was raving “Water!” No water. Then the officer takes me to the second class. He is drunk and very amiable. His arms embrace me. He unbuttons my dress. His drunken lips mutter in a beastly way: “What a velvet breast! What a magnificent body!” I have no more strength to repulse him, no voice to call out, and what use if I had? I would willingly dash my head against something, if there were anything, but this brutalized scoundrel will not allow it. He kicks me in order to disable me. I call upon the police officer, who is asleep. The Cossack officer murmurs, caressing my chin: “Why do you clench your little teeth? Look out, you may break them?” I could not get a moment of sleep that night. In the daytime he offers me wine and chocolate, and when people go away he caresses me again. Just before reaching Tamboff I fell asleep for an hour. I awoke because the officer’s arm was upon me. While taking me to the prison, he said: “After all, I am embracing you.” In Tamboff I was delirious again, and fell terribly ill.

When Marie was brought to trial her judges looked upon her youth, and listened to the terrible recital of her tortures unmoved. She had killed a man, an official of the bureaucracy, therefore she must die. An opportunity was given her to speak, and she rose up and quietly said:{173}

“Gentlemen Judges! Look around you! Where do you see the light faces of the happy and contented? There are no such faces. Even those who seem, now, to have the victorious hand, are afflicted by grief—they know their hour of triumph is brief.

“I am about to be sent from this life. You may kill me—you may kill me over and over again as you already have done. You may subject me to the most terrible penalties—but you can add nothing to what I have already endured. I do not fear death. You may, now, kill my body, but you cannot destroy my belief that the time of the people’s happiness and freedom is surely coming, a time when the life of the people will express itself in forms in which truth and justice will be realized—when the ideas of brotherhood and freedom will be no more empty sounds, but part of our every-day, real life. If this is truth it is no grief to lay down one’s life—

“I have finished.”

A few days later the following letter was received from her by some friends in Tamboff, smuggled out through a chain of civil criminals:

My Dear Comrades:

Turn over my money partly to Jennie, the balance, the greatest, turn over to T. I often pass sleepless nights, but I feel courageously and I know how to save my energy, which has accumulated owing to idleness.

I dream of the time to hand. My wish is growing stronger and I fear that I will commit suicide if the autocracy will show me clemency. My death appears to me of such a value to my people that I will receive any act of clemency from the Czar as an act of revenge and insult.

If it will be possible and if they will not kill me soon, I will try to be useful by gathering new followers.

I would like to know how things are in Tamboff. Have you sufficient books for the peasants now in prison? Do your duty. It is important that they should leave prison as revolutionists or near that.{174}

I embrace all my old comrades and shake the hands of the new ones.

Send me your postals with your handwriting. They will be dear to me.

My greetings to all.


P.S. The treatment is good. My health: Fever, cough, headache.

I forgot to say my comradeship in the party of the revolutionists is taken by me, not only as an acceptance of its program and tactics, but much higher. It means to me sacrifice of life, of hopes, of sentiments, for the realization of its ideas. It means to dispose of each minute of life in such a way that the cause shall gain.


Luchenovsky was succeeded by a wise and humane man, who valued human life, even that of simple peasants. In the province of Tamboff Cossacks ceased to riot through the villages, looting at will and preying upon the helpless inhabitants. The taking of this one life, at the sacrifice of her own, ended for the time, at least, an era of darkness in Tamboff and saved the honor of untold women and the lives of many.

The two officers who so foully abused her went unpunished so far as the Russian authorities were concerned, but after the lapse of a few weeks Abramov was found dead in the street one night, and several weeks later Zhdanov’s lifeless body was also discovered.

Hundreds of men in Tamboff had wished and prayed for the death of Luchenovsky. But only a girl dared. Whether that girl had hysteria (as some asserted), or not, is of small consequence. Joan of Arc was a neurasthenic.

That night, after my visit to Spiradonova, when dark had settled over Tamboff, I stumbled down a littered street not more than a hundred yards from the prison to a poor little cottage, once painted red, now weather-{175}worn and shabby. Within sat a middle-aged woman with large, dark eyes and creased, anxious face. I found her in an inner room, sitting with folded arms by a low-burning lamp. “Yes, Marie Spiradonova is my daughter,” she said. Then with quiet voice, not untouched with pride, she told me about the childhood days of the girl now shut apart from her by prison walls. She told me how from an early age Marie was studious, and thought to study medicine. Her three sisters all turned toward medicine, and two are dentists. Marie’s ambition was to be a doctor. She studied very hard, but when her country fell under deeper and darker oppressions, she could think of nothing but the sufferings of her people, so she gave up everything to serve the movement that was making for freedom.

I knew that two of Marie’s sisters were also in prison at that time, one for merely having received a letter from Marie, and the other had been taken as a suspected propagandist. There was no direct charge against her.

“Madame,” I said to the mother, “how does it make you feel to have three of your daughters in prison at one time on political charges?”

The old lady was thoughtful for a moment and then, in a voice fervent and earnest, a voice I shall never forget, she replied:

“It makes me the proudest mother in all Russia.”

Shortly after my return to St. Petersburg I received the following letter. Like the others it had been smuggled out of the prison, as I afterward learned, through a chain of civil criminals:

I am very sorry that I could not speak more with you. The conditions of my arrest are heavy, because I am isolated and the soldiers are always at my window. During the three months of my arrest I have not once slept without my clothes—the soldiers keep looking{176} in upon me all the time. I am embarrassed at each movement. You can understand how such constant scrutiny amounts to torture, for I cannot get rid of civilized customs to the extent of undressing before the eyes of men.

The physicians find it necessary that I should be quiet, and to walk continuously in the fresh air for one hour each day. The government gives me this hour of freedom, but under disagreeable conditions, owing to the curiosity of the soldiers.

If the people of America are interested in the fate of this Russian girl, tell them that they must rather interest themselves in the fatherland of this girl. The revolutionary movement here is now making for liberty. I want for nothing personally because for a long time I have not existed personally. My heart and my soul are given to this movement—the movement which is in the service of the people.

There is no basis for comparison, this solitude of the soul. The feeling of shame makes me shudder. It will not leave my memory, and can never be effaced. There is nothing with which to liken this torture of the pride, of the self-respect. This suffering is as poignant as the blows of my tormentors. The same hands that beat the hungering peasants caressed and slapped me!... Still, the government, with all its experience in lies, and its permission of illegal actions among its servants, will not succeed in rehabilitating these two men. They are condemned beyond recall, branded with the scorn of the people.

I was glad to see free people, from a quiet, liberty-loving land, to receive their salutations....

My spirit is now strong, and without fear I await deportation and catagora. If the government does not succeed in killing me with tortures during these years I believe I shall be free.

Good-by—I give you both my hands.”

(Signed) Marie Spiradonova.




The famous October manifesto—Skepticism of Russian people toward promise of Constitution—Difficulties placed in way of honest voting—Czar’s insincerity and duplicity—Fundamental and exceptional laws—Ministerial change on eve of Duma—St. Petersburg possessed by troops—The Winter Palace spectacle—The throne speech—Disappointment of deputies—“Amnesty! Amnesty!”—“The first shot”—Make-up of first Duma—First session—Zeal of representatives—Hostile attitude of government—Work of Duma—Governmental policy of obstruction—Dissolution—The Viborg manifesto—The present peril—The promise of the future in the light of the attitude of the Czar.

THE famous manifesto granting representative government to the Russian people was issued October 30, 1905. After brief delays and one postponement the date for the meeting of the first parliament (to be called Duma, which is to say “Think”) was set for May 10, 1906.

“Forty days of freedom” followed the manifesto, when the world at large accepted the promise contained in the October manifesto as genuine. Then black reaction shut down over all Russia and the people began to understand that all is not gold that glitters even when molded into royal insignia. Prince B——, a well-known courtier, told me, a month before the day appointed for the convocation, that he knew absolutely there would be no parliament in Russia for many years to come. The Czar had been coerced into promising rep{178}resentative government by Count Witte at a time when a wave of revolt, mutiny, and rebellion had caught the imperial camp napping, and to stay this tide for the nonce the manifesto was issued. One week before the meeting a general in command of one of the most important branches of the army said in my hearing: “Duma?” There will be no Duma. Or if it meets it will merely be that we may capture the members on our bayonets.” The people themselves had but little more faith in the royal pledge. Both of the revolutionary parties—the Social Democrats and the Social Revolutionaries—openly mocked the gullibility of the intellectual constitutionalists (who pretended to believe in the manifesto), and boycotted the elections. The elections, therefore, were often farcical. The situation was not improved by the discriminating rules governing the voting issued by the government, nor by the menacing attitude of the military and police authorities on balloting-days. I was in Rostoff-on-Don, for example, on the day set for the voting and the guard of Cossacks stationed at the polling-places was so large and the men were so hostile in their attitude that the Rostoff citizens could not be hired to approach the voting-booths. About noon a proclamation was issued setting another day for the elections.

When a local governor was displeased with the electors chosen, or with the deputy finally selected to go to the imperial Duma, he sometimes declared the entire election “illegal,” or found a slender and often ridiculous pretext for annulling the vote cast for the man actually chosen, or even for exiling the candidate to the North or to Siberia.

Two months later, when this Duma had been dissolved, the Czar said in the presence of Prince T——, a good friend of mine: “I believe Russia can run for twenty{179}

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Where the first Duma met



years more without a parliament, and I intend to do all I can to guide my country back to where we were before the October manifesto.” These are the words of the Czar. They attain especial significance in the light of later events, and it is evident to every thoughtful observer that the Czar had already determined upon his policy before the Duma had met at all. Every act of his indicates this: the promulgation of the fundamental laws on May 8, his false and empty speech from the throne, his refusal to receive the Duma’s response to the throne speech, the dissolution, the dissolution of succeeding dumas, and the gradual retrenchment and curtailment of every liberty he had ever promised. It is highly important to interpret the history of Russia’s parliamentary beginnings in the light of the attitude of the Czar.

On the eve of the meeting of the Duma the government issued a lengthy list of so-called “fundamental” and “exceptional” laws which prenatally devitalized and emasculated the new Duma. These laws were declared unalterable by the Duma. The powers of the Czar, as autocrat, were defined to include the sole right of proposing changes in the fundamental laws to the Council of Empire[9] and the Duma; the right of veto; the appointment of executive, the ministers, the judges; the decisions of peace and war; the control and command of the army and navy. Ordinary laws could not be passed{182} without the consent of both houses and the Czar, but the Czar might promulgate “special” laws, and under the cloak of “martial” law any number or any kind of special laws might be established. The council of ministers, too, might promulgate “temporary” laws—with the consent of the Czar. (“Temporary” special legislation against the Jews enacted fifty years ago still remains.) While the parliament was to meet annually, the Czar reserved the right to dismiss it at any time. The parliament was to have no control over the public debt, or the expenses of the court or ministry. War taxes and foreign loans might be made without the advice or consent of the Duma. The ministers were to remain responsible to the Czar and not to the Duma.

Thus Russia’s first parliament was left a mere shell, empty of power and authority.

In spite of the doubting attitude of the people at large toward the good faith of the Emperor and the government, in spite of the restrictions of the elections, a remarkably sane and liberal body of men returned to the Duma.

On May 1 Count Witte ceased to be premier, and an impotent little gentleman named Gorymekin succeeded him.

On May 2 M. Durnovo, the unscrupulous and reactionary minister of interior, notified the governors of the provinces that they were to prevent peasant deputies from traveling to St. Petersburg with Constitutional Democrats! The Constitutional Democrats being composed almost entirely of university professors, professional men, and other “intellectuals,” it was evidently feared that the unlettered peasants might be contaminated.

Two days later M. Durnovo relinquished his portfolio,{183} but became secretary of state and retained the dignity of senator.

Thus with a new and untried cabinet, Russia awaited the assembling of her first Duma.

All through the night of May 9 troops were poured into St. Petersburg. The sun rose the morning of the 10th upon a miniature army in possession of the capital. From dawn the streets were a-flutter with excitement. Flags were extended from myriad windows. Squadrons of cavalry and regiments of infantry were moving hither and yon—mostly in the direction of the Winter Palace. All streets tending that way were early blockaded. Orderlies and aides-de-camp galloped through the most crowded thoroughfares. Officers in their most splendid uniforms filled the hotel lobbies.

The spacious square before the Winter Palace was occupied by more troops than on any occasion since that Sunday, fifteen months before, when Father Gapon headed a certain procession of working-men who sought to wait upon the Czar, their “Little Father,” and were shot down like an enemy on a battle plain. On both occasions the shadow of the statue of an angel of peace supporting a cross—symbol of surpassing love and infinite compassion—fell across the square. Cossacks of the royal guard in coats of scarlet, and dashing Lancers, were quartered about that beautiful figure, and the slender shadow cast by the towering column touched them as with a warning finger.

The privileges of the balcony in the throne room were extended to the foreign correspondents whose credentials had satisfied the police and palace authorities. Arrayed in evening clothes since mid-forenoon, we sweltered with the soldiers in the piping hot square before the palace. Shortly after one o’clock the doors were thrown open{184} to us, and we filed past various and sundry officials, who scrutinized our passes (each one of which bore the authenticated photograph of the bearer), and we passed in more haste than dignity to our several coigns of vantage around the marble gallery.

Presently the privileged of the bureaucracy who had been “commanded” to appear in full court dress began to take their places—the senators and councilors of state, the generals and admirals, the foreign ambassadors, and, lastly, the Duma deputies. With mild interest we watched these groups gather. These were but the spectacular background for an intense, though brief, drama about to be enacted—how significant, how tragic, no one knew, nor cared to guess.

It was not yet two o’clock when the strains of the national anthem were heard in a distant chamber, heralding royalty’s approach. The magnificent procession advanced with measured steps. A strained hush spread over the room. Twelve hundred eyes turned toward the portal, and neither the dazzling glitter of imperial insignia, nor the splendor of the royal standard, caused a quiver of distraction. Neither grand dukes nor grand duchesses, Empress or Dowager-Empress, not even Trepoff himself, commanded a single glance. Eagerly every eye in the room sought one figure—the Czar!

The first view of him spoke only of pathos. Unutterably lonely he appeared—a slight shuffling figure with a pale, set face.

Three paces into the room his feet strayed out from the line of procession; his head jerked awkwardly. His breast heaved markedly and his shoulders were squared with an effort. There was timidity in his glance and his step was never sure. Those of us who were to his right, and near enough, saw him fumble for his trousers-{185}pocke{186}t

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The Emperor reading his throne speech


as he stood before the prelates of the church to receive the holy blessing. He drew out a small blue-tinted handkerchief and wiped his eyes. Then for the first time he fairly raised his head to survey the assemblage about him. Surely the strangest phalanxes ever monarch walked between were those on his either side. To his left was massed all the brilliance and pomp of empire. To his right the plainest body of men ever got together on this planet to deliberate the destiny of a nation. France, in her most radical days, adhered less rigidly to the forms and appearances of democracy.

The ceremonials of the church lasted a short twenty minutes. Yet each Te Deum seemed an agony of protracted suspense; and royalty suffered. Several times I heard a clucking sound in the throat of the Emperor as he fought hard with terrible nervousness. Thrice he wiped his eyes. His left hand, which was gloved, was held before him and his fingers twitched incessantly. The Empress and Dowager-Empress alone in all the cortège gave no sign of strain. Theirs was supreme poise. The grand dukes, who stood in the ranks next behind, throughout the ceremonial continued to cross themselves with most extraordinary determination. Their vigorous piety far exceeded that of the gold-mantled ecclesiastics themselves. When the last chant was sung, and the last blessing bestowed, the royal suite took its place, the ladies to the left of the throne, the men close to the representatives of the army. The Czar remained standing in the center of the room. A single silhouette against an infinite skyline could not be more solitary. Again his breast heaved and his shoulders twitched—more noticeable now than at any previous time. This was the final effort for self-command in the supreme trial which he now faced. The effort was successful. From that mo{188}ment until the end the Czar looked, acted, and spoke with a degree of manliness, even kingliness.

When all were in place and at rest, he stepped forward.

Witte, towering above all who stood near him, swayed indifferently backward and forward in the front row of the bureaucrats. His shrewd face was touched with a supercilious smile as the Czar walked past him—not two yards away. Seven steps approached the throne. These the Emperor ascended lightly, but with rare dignity. A mantle of ermine lay across the throne, draped with careful carelessness. With tolerable ease the Emperor sat briefly on his throne. Four stools stood near the four corners of the dais. On those to the Emperor’s right hand were the crown and orb; to his left, the scepter and seal of state.

An aide advanced and handed him his speech—a single broad page, pasted on cardboard. This he took standing. Quietly and firmly he assumed position, left foot slightly forward, the paper held easily with both hands.

There was naught of haste in his actions. His head lifted, but not for speech. He merely looked over the throng. The positions of the respective sides were now reversed. The bureaucracy was to the right, and the Duma to his left. Nearest the throne, to the right, the Empresses, grand duchesses and other grand ladies of the court. Then followed in successive groups, whose stations were indicated by crimson palings, the several classes of court, official, military, and naval dignitaries. Next to the ladies were the senators, ministers, and members of the Council of the Empire in emblazoned uniforms of scarlet and gold. Below them, adjutant ministers, dignitaries from other cities, and the second rank of the court officials. Then the Emperor’s aides-de-camp and personal attendants. Next, the most gorgeous group of all—the{189} army and navy. Stout old generals with twenty and even twenty-five medals bedecking their breasts; broad sashes of scarlet, light blue and cardinal, some worn over the left shoulder, others over the right—as if the wonderful uniforms of every blazing color known to fabric makers were not in themselves sufficiently striking. The slightly quieter, though equally magnificent, uniforms of the admirals alternated with the army. There were Cossack commanders in Circassian dress of cassock effect, and stately hussars with fur-burdened capes, and yards of gold and silver cord, draped and tasseled—uniforms as fantastic as dazzling. Last of all, in the section farthest from the throne, the foreign ambassadors. Not the diplomatic corps—only the ambassadors, for each individual standing-place was at a premium. The throne was the only chair in the room; the Emperor the only one permitted even momentary repose. These bureaucratic groups were solidly packed. The space seemed to have been measured off to the inch, and invitations issued accordingly. On the opposite side of the salon, in looser order, stood the Duma. Contrast of contrasts! No gilt or tinsel there. Simply men. Men from the workaday world. The Roman Catholic bishop elected from Vilna wore his ecclesiastic robes of purple and the Greek priests wore theirs of dark, coarse stuffs. The Mussulmen were turbaned, and the Polish peasants wore their national cloaks of homespun white, traced with homely embroidery in red and black. Some of the university professors wore regulation evening clothes, and some of the lawyers appeared in ordinary frock coats. The working-men wore short jackets, while the peasants were in their simple peasant dress—long, blue coats of coarse material, and boots knee-high. A few had pinned on war-medals, indicating that they had served their country on the battle{190}field. The mud and dust of the fields still clung to their boots.

The two sides of the room glared and stared one at the other. The Duma evinced a curious interest in the spectacle the bureaucracy presented. Most of them seemed to wonder what all that display had to do with the business in hand. The bureaucrats, on the other hand, were much more moved. Some laughed with obvious scorn and derision. Others were sad and depressed. Others were merely amused. Only here and there was a face whose seriousness indicated a complete appreciation of the full portent of the scene. It may have been fancy, but to me it seemed that Count Witte alone understood. At all events he was the only man among all the bureaucrats who, at the close of the ceremony, spoke to any of the members on the Duma side of the room. The open avenue through the room from the door to the throne was like a yawning chasm, across which no word might pass, even of formal courtesy. “To us it is like letting the revolution into the palace,” said one lady of the court to me. So the whole bureaucratic side seemed to view it. No enemy could have viewed another with more open and keener suspicion. The Duma, it must be added, was the better behaved. The members were quiet, dignified, and obviously patient, through the extraordinarily long religious ceremony and a tedious hour of waiting.

In the first three months of the year over seventy thousand men and women had been snatched from their homes and placed in prison or sent into exile. The release of all of these people, against many of whom there was no known charge, certainly no evidence, was what the country at large awaited with ill-suppressed eagerness. “The Emperor will grant an amnesty in his speech from the throne,” said popular rumor, and it was for{191} this that the Duma listened when the Emperor stood before the throne, speech in hand, about to utter the first words. The attitude of an empire hung on the temper of that address. The quiet that fell over the assembly was the quiet of a mountain midnight. Not a dress rustled, not a foot scraped, not a sword jangled, no breath was audible. The eyes of the Emperor returned from their survey of the room and riveted on the paper he held. His lips parted, and the first syllable rang clearly to the farthest corners of the room: “The right, given me by divine authority, to care for the Fatherland, has prompted me to call upon representatives elected by the people to aid me in legislative work.

“With the ardent belief in the bright future of Russia, I greet you here as the best people whom I have commanded my beloved subjects to elect. Hard and complicated is the work before you. I trust, however, that your love for the Fatherland, and your ardent desire to serve her, will inspire and unite you. And I will guard the liberties given by me with the firm belief that you will not spare your power and effort to faithfully serve the Fatherland in giving relief to the peasants, so dear to my heart, in educating the people, in helping them to prosperity, remembering at the same time that for moral greatness, and the prosperity of the country, not freedom only is necessary, but also order resting upon right.

“It is my ardent desire to see my people happy, and to leave to my son a powerful, prosperous, and civilized country. God shall bless the labor that is before us, in union with the Council of the Empire and the Duma. And let this day signify also the great event of the moral renovation of Russia. Let this be the day of regeneration of her best forces.

“Get devotedly to the work to which I have called you,{192} and justify worthily the trust of the Emperor and the people.

“God help me and you.”

Both hands dropped to his sides as the last words were spoken, and he remained where he stood as though to watch the effect of the speech upon the assemblage. The military band in a balcony at the rear struck up the national anthem—most beautiful and magnificent of national anthems. Hundreds of voices from the side of the bureaucrats rose as one with a cheer and a shout of “Bravo! Bravo!” The roar was bewildering. “Bravo! Bravo!” However could one room hold such volumes of sound! But the Emperor’s ears were not deceived; nor his eyes. The shout in all its mightiness came from one side of the room. The Emperor looked long and earnestly at the Duma—not a voice was raised, not a cheer echoed, from that entire side. They were not even swayed by the prolonged cheering of the bureaucrats. Generals, old and decrepit, court cavaliers and ministers yelled themselves into a frenzy. The simple, ignorant peasants, of whom it had been said a thousand times—“Ugh! They’ll lose their heads first thing,” these men stood like stone, absolutely impassive. They knew in the first place that the “right given me by divine authority which prompted me to call upon representatives of the people” was merely an aggregation of words. Revolution prompted the Duma. Nothing more nor less. “Uprisings” and “disturbances” all over the country. And no word of amnesty! Nothing!

The Emperor slowly descended from the throne and the royal procession formed for exit. The band played its loudest. The courtiers and bureaucrats kept up their shouts of “Bravo! Bravo!” Whatever of spontaneity there may have been in the first outburst was now gone,{193} and the words were pronounced in a unison which became rhythmic. Before the Emperor had reached the door even these shouts had subsided. His own aides-de-camp and the generals alone maintained the noise. A paid claque could not have been more marked.

At first the Emperor bowed to the Duma. But his bow was chill and formal, his eye cold and severe. To his right he turned with warmth. Generally he recognized a face and smiled, but to the left his expression was statuesque. The ladies in his train did much better. Several of them quite ignored the glittering array on the right, and bowed and smiled most graciously to the Duma members, and with more seeming spontaneity and sincerity.

After the imperial cortège, the bureaucracy filed out in a brilliant pageant, and last of all the Duma.

The spectacle had surely been in entire keeping with the ostentatious traditions of czardom, but to the most reactionary bureaucrats it was patent that the “simple peasants” had not been impressed as had been expected. They had enjoyed it—as they would have enjoyed a military manœuver. They had watched it as a passing show, and were quite at a loss as to the reason for it, or the connection between it and their business.

Many freely expressed their amazement at the gowns of the ladies. There were scores among the Duma members who had never before set eyes on grand ladies, and they could not repress their surprise at their décolleté cut. “Why did the Emperor bring us here?” asked one naïvely, “was it to show us his women?”

“I thought the Emperor’s house would be full of holy pictures,” said another sorrowfully, in the first blush of disillusionment.

“If the government tells us again that they have no{194} money for famine, we can tell them where they might get a few copecks,” added another with a significant shake of his peasant head.

The magnificent ceremony with all its brilliant pageantry, the most gorgeous spectacle of a traditionally spectacular court, completely failed to inspire the confidence of the working-men and peasants in their olden rulers. On the contrary, it inspired amazement, discontent, and distrust.

The Czar, who is probably the greatest living genius for missing opportunities, read his empty speech—read it well, eloquently—and for the first time in his life saw face to face real men who were not fawning sycophants, and who dared express their true feelings when these were not of admiration or of approbation.

To facilitate the transportation of the Duma members from the Winter Palace to the Tauride Palace, where the sessions were to be held, they were loaded into boats and conveyed most of the way by water.

Near the Tauride Palace, looking on the river Neva, is a frowning prison in which are many political prisoners. As the boats were passing this grim place handkerchiefs began to appear, shoved out between the iron bars, and frantically waved in greeting. Across the water rang the cry of “Amnesty!” Some of the peasants who had stood stolid and unmoved through all the Winter Palace function were deeply touched by the appeals from behind the prison gratings, and not a few among them wept.

The first sitting was, of necessity, brief. There was an ecclesiastic ceremony, the administration of the oath, and the election of a president. The hum of “Amnesty” was in the air, but the demands of formal procedure would not permit of the taking hold of actual business{195} until the president had announced himself at Peterhof—therefore amnesty, by unofficial but unanimous understanding, was scheduled for the first business of the next sitting.

But short as this session was—one hour and twenty minutes—the “first shot” was fired by the Duma when a group of bureaucratic intruders were ejected. The staunch old liberal, Petrounkevitch, climbed to the tribunal and shouted “Let freedom, liberty, and amnesty be the words of Russia’s first parliament.” The Duma echoed the words, and cries of “Liberty!” “Amnesty!” were sent ringing through the chamber.

M. Mouromseff, a sturdy collegiate of liberal traditions, was elected president, Prince Dolgorukoff, of ancient lineage, first vice-president. Twenty-two distinct peoples were represented in the Duma, divided by religion as follows:

Russian Orthodox, 339; Catholics, 63; Protestants, 13; Old Believers, 4; Baptists, 1; Jews, 11; Mohammedan, 14; Buddhists, 1; no religion, 1.

With regard to education, a large proportion, 184 in number, never attended any kind of schools; 111 went through the lower grades; 61 through the middle, and 189 either finished or partially finished university courses. In spite of the large number who never attended school, only two were unable to read or write.

By parties the members were classified as follows:

Constitutional Democrats, 153; Group of Toil, 107; Autonomous, 63; Party of Democratic Reforms, 4; Octoberists, 13; Moderates, 2; Trade and Industry, 1; unclassified, 105.[10] The average age of the members was 39.{196}

The first business session began with the reading of many congratulatory telegrams, from the Diet of Finland, the municipality of Prague, the Prince of Montenegro, and the large cities of the empire. Toward the last were several from political exiles and prisoners. The spontaneous applause which broke from practically the entire Duma when these telegrams were read was louder and more sustained than for all of the others put together. The president was obliged to read them a second, then a third time, and then, at the suggestion of some one on the floor, another round of applause was given standing. I counted only eight men who remained in their seats. Amnesty was made the first demand of the Duma. Not a partial amnesty, but a full and complete amnesty to all political prisoners, including terrorists.

Telegrams, letters, petitions began daily to come from all parts of the country to the deputies urging this and other demands. “If we fail to get the things we have come for, we dare not return to our homes,” said many deputies. The general feeling at the time was that if the Duma failed or was suppressed, it would be not the Duma merely that was put down, but the country. For in a degree difficult to appreciate the Duma was the country. It was the most absolutely representative organization ever brought together. Not of people merely, but of professionals and classes. The United States House of Representatives is largely composed of lawyers and professional politicians. The House of Commons of “gentlemen.” The French Chambre of journalists and men of letters. Not so the Duma. An analysis of the personnel and professions of the members showed that twenty-three were lawyers; fifteen, university professors; six, high-school teachers; fifteen, doctors; nine,{197}

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Two Constitutional Democratic leaders in the first Duma



authors; seventy-five, “Zemstvo specialists”—that is to say, men who have devoted themselves to the work of local governing bodies, men of means generally; twelve, rich landowners; ten, marshals of nobility; two, engineers; nine, “functionaries”—men appointed by favor to positions of sinecure in connection with public offices; seven, common-school teachers; four, Greek priests; three, Roman Catholic priests; three, Mohammedan moullahs; one, Jewish rabbi; one, Romanist bishop; fifteen, workmen; four, merchants; two, manufacturers; two, students; and one hundred and sixty-six, peasants. The atmosphere of the ensemble was, at first glance, intellectual, but the peasants and workmen together formed a powerful block to any step proposed by the intellectuals that did not meet with their approval. They were the real radicals, the extreme left, of the Duma.

The “intellectuals” mostly belonged to the Constitutional Democratic party. The program of this party was not a bad one if it had only worked. But most of the members were over-cautious, and inclined to be humble and mild in their language, to crave the Emperor’s grace, for example, for the political amnesty, while the peasants and the workmen said: “We ask nothing. We demand—not grace and pardon, but justice.” The “right” formed so small a group that they were entirely without influence.

The sessions of this remarkable body were characterized by orderliness, clearness, and real eloquence.

An interesting scene was witnessed when the question came up: Should the Duma attend the reception given in its honor by the city of St. Petersburg? The workmen replied: “If the city of St. Petersburg has money to spend in banqueting us, let them give it to the unemployed of the city, of whom there are so many.” The{200} intellectuals said: “We can attend no banquets or festivities while so many of our former colleagues are in prison or in exile. Until the amnesty is declared, we will not make merry,” and so the Duma continued sitting on the night of the banquet and reception.

The reply to the throne speech[11] was carried without one dissenting voice. The eight reactionaries who did not care to sign it left the hall rather than vote against it. Those who believe the Russian people too much split into parties and factions ever to accomplish definite results might recall this unanimity which indicated the ability to get together and stand together in time of crisis.

Despite the orderliness which characterized the Duma from the start, the authorities continued to maintain a great show of force everywhere. The Semenovsky regiment, which had put down the Moscow insurrection, was quartered in barracks adjoining the Duma building, and the following secret order was issued to the soldiers:

“How to act—in case of alarm and in the suppression of armed uprising of the population:

“At the first call from the police for help, sergeants must immediately notify the officers, who must in their turn order the troops to make immediately ready for action.

“Upon leaving the barracks battalions should march through the entire width of the streets so as to protect the rear and keep it free for reinforcements should such be required.

“Troops should move with all possible rapidity, sending ahead an advance guard for determining positions.

“In the event of shots being fired from windows into a marching battalion, fire from several rifles should immediately be opened upon such windows.

“Troops should not approach a mob nearer than one hundred paces, so as to conveniently open fire while{201} avoiding injury likely to come from hand bombs being thrown from the crowd. Avoid action with bayonets and try to remain at a distance, because a bullet at a short distance works with greater effect than a bayonet. One bullet may kill two or three men in a crowd.

“In the event of a collision with armed rebels, soldiers must conduct themselves as upon a field of battle, remembering that the end will be attained only when the enemy is crushed or annihilated. Therefore, before leaving barracks, substitutes should be chosen, to take the places of commanding officers killed.”

There was no need for this order, however, and the Duma continued on to its peaceful end two months after its convocation.

It wrestled with the amnesty question, and sent a bill up to the Council of Empire abolishing capital punishment. When the Bielostok massacre occurred it appointed a commission of investigation, and attempted to inaugurate the interpellation of ministers. Prince Urusoff made his world-famous speech revealing the complicity of the government in massacres, and the government wires carried the report of this speech to every part of the empire. The Duma became the greatest propaganda and educating influence Russia ever saw, simply because every word spoken within its walls was repeated throughout the land.

The government continued its policy of obstruction, contempt, scorn, and insult. No other legislative body in the world would have tolerated what the first Duma bore in silence. Finally, the Duma attacked that most serious of all serious problems in Russia—the agrarian question—and sought to solve it through the establishment of the principle of expropriation.

Then came dissolution.{202}

One Sunday morning in early July the people of St. Petersburg read an official announcement, bearing the signature of the Czar, that the Duma had ceased to exist. There was no disturbance, no demonstration, although the announcement came at an unexpected moment.

A story was circulated in St. Petersburg of how the American ambassador was surprised by the dissolution. According to report the ambassador’s family were at a European watering-place, where he expected presently to join them. Just previous to his departure from St. Petersburg he received a cablegram from Washington to the effect that, owing to the unsettled condition of Russia, the President would suggest that the ambassador remain in Russia through the summer. The ambassador and one of the secretaries of the embassy sat down on Sunday morning and framed a long cipher message to Washington, setting forth reasons for assurance that Russia would remain tranquil for the present. They finished writing the message early in the afternoon, and started out together to deposit it at the central telegraph office. On the way they learned that the Duma had been dissolved that morning before they had so much as begun their telegram to Washington!

Some of the members, mostly Constitutional Democrats, remembered the Tennis Court Oath of French history and had timid ambitions to do likewise. So they hastened to Viborg, in Finland, where, safe from being dispersed by Cossacks or police, they argued, deliberated, and wrangled for a week. Then the governor-general of Finland announced a state of martial law and warned the ex-deputies that the hospitality of Finland could no longer be extended to them. Eager to do something, yet not knowing what to do, they proceeded to issue a proclamation known as the{203}

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The Duma lobby



Viborg manifesto, in which they called upon the people of Russia to cease paying taxes and to refrain from sending recruits to the army and navy—in other words to become utterly disregardful of all law emanating from any other source than a representative body chosen by the people. The Viborg manifesto was a silly blunder, and no more effective than a blank shell. It showed that eminent academicians, brilliant writers, and earnest patriots do not always make clever statesmen.

The government forbade the circulation of the Viborg manifesto, but otherwise paid little attention to the step. Every signer was put under the ban, and it was only a short time after that of the members of the first Duma one had been murdered, one gone insane, two cruelly beaten, ten were in hiding, five were exiled, twenty-four in prison, thirty-three had been arrested and searched, and one hundred and eighty-two placed under indictment on the charge of treason.

Shortly after the dissolution a second Duma was announced, to be chosen under very much more restricted voting conditions, and to meet early in the following year.

Thus the day of democratic government dawned in Russia. It was like a burst of sunlight through the rift of a stormy sky—and soon shut in again. I asked Mr. Williams Jennings Bryan, who was a visitor to the Duma previous to the dissolution, how he was impressed by the Assembly. “It is the most remarkable body of men on earth to-day,” was his reply. And I believe it was. On the whole, the conduct of the Duma was admirable.

I submit that this is true in spite of a good deal of amateurishness and crudeness, in spite of the enthusiasm of a few zealots, in spite even of the blunder of the Viborg manifesto, which after all was the mistake of{206} one party, indeed the mistake of one man. Above all else the men in the Duma were transparently honest, sincerely striving to serve the people they represented. And in Russia, as in more civilized lands, honesty in political life does not necessarily spell success.

The conduct of the government toward it was unworthy, insincere, and false. The brief career of this Duma demonstrated the ability of the Russian people to govern themselves—provided they are given reasonable freedom in selecting whom they like for their representatives.

It is not fair to ask: “Are the people of Russia ready for self-government?” It is not fair, because we know that ability to do anything successfully must rest on experience. We do know this, however, that a government of the Russian people by the people would not be a government whose power rested on terrorism, whose methods included outrage and massacre. It would be parliamentary in every sense. Its mistakes would be parliamentary mistakes which would be corrected by parliamentary methods. The peril lies in increased restrictions and the gradual weeding out of most of the strong, promising men. The promise of the future is that permanent democratic government in Russia will first have to be fought for, precisely as all liberty is battled for. The key to the present situation is, in the words of the Czar: “I believe Russia can run for twenty years more without a parliament, and I shall do all I can to guide my country back to where we were before the October manifesto.{207}



A member of the military organization—Realities of the revolution—Kronstadt—Revolutionary headquarters among the soldiers and sailors—A conspirative gathering—Smuggling forbidden literature—A surprise—Disguised as a Russian sailor—A thrilling experience—An inspiring episode—Shadowed!—Flight—Plan of escape—Capture deferred.

There the gallows, rope, and hooks;
And the hangman’s beard is red;
People round and poisoned looks—
Nothing new and nothing dread!
I am breath, dew, all resources,
After fifty hangings; why!
Would you hang me? Save your forces!
Why kill me who cannot die!

PASHA belonged to the military organization, so called because the members work exclusively among the soldiers and sailors. In other words, Pasha mounted the gallows steps every time she left the comparative security of her home for her “work”; Pasha was a veritable Nathan Hale in spirit; she loved liberty, she loved her country; she was sad only when she remembered that she could live but once for Russia. “I try to live each day,” she said to me on a certain occasion, “so that every day will justify my whole life.” To-day she rests her head against the iron bars that shut her{208} apart from the blue of heaven, the warming sun, and God’s sweet fields. And across the melancholy wastes of Siberia, in a far settlement of half-wild men called Ostiaks, Pasha’s comrade, Paul Ivanovitch, toils in iron shackles, dreaming, no doubt, of the days when Russia shall be free. But this is anticipating.

The Duma had groped falteringly through six weeks’ existence and was at last emerging toward the light. At least so most of the deputies believed. In the meanwhile the military organization was working with an arduousness that was often stupidly reckless. The revolutionists had small faith in the first parliament. They preferred to count on the disloyalty of the army and navy, and their willingness to join the army of the revolution. Sveaborg, Reval, Sebastopol, Kronstadt, were all invaded by preachers and teachers—propagandists of the military organization, to whom the Duma was but a short-lived thing at best. Insurrection, mutiny, open revolt, these were the only forces, they thought, that could overcome the present régime. Therefore, while the Duma talked, the members of the military organization prepared quietly for what they expected would follow a dissolution.

Some of the prettiest girls attacked the guard regiments. They not only cultivated the soldiers; they also made love to the officers, who are notoriously susceptible to the enticing glances of lovely eyes and the flounce of lingerie.

This is one of the most remarkable features of propaganda work in Russia. Young women of finest sensibilities and strong character deliberately enter a life of prostitution among officers in order to win them to the cause. A man of my acquaintance in Helsingfors told me of a beautiful girl whom he knew intimately who took up this work in precisely the same spirit that a woman{209} enters a religious order. To officers whom she felt she must convert to the revolution, she was ready to sell herself—or give herself—according as seemed diplomatic to the circumstances. But toward all others, her own comrades and near acquaintances, she was absolutely chaste and virtuous. From one standpoint she shrank and despised what she did; on the other hand, she believed that what she did in this way bore rich fruit for the movement, and to this movement she was not merely devoted—she was consecrated. This extraordinary state of affairs, of course, cannot be understood by Americans, but I give these details as an interesting phase of a great movement, and to illustrate the degree of self-sacrifice that is sometimes attained by ardent devotees of this work.

Individual propaganda of this nature, while less likely to lead to the gallows or to Siberia, is slower in aggregating results than other methods, and Pasha was one of the impatient ones who preferred to dare greatly in the hope of gaining much. Individual work accomplishes much with the officers, but to revolutionize the rank and file there must be a wholesale means. At considerable risk to herself and her co-workers, Pasha permitted me to go with her and Paul on a propagandist trip to Kronstadt.

Kronstadt lies fourteen versts below St. Petersburg on an island in the Gulf of Finland. It is the most important naval station in the empire, commanding the entrance to St. Petersburg, and the residence of the Czar, called Peterhof. Like most military stations it is a miserable little town that subsists chiefly on the garrison. The barracks are scattered close to the fortifications. There is a small park near the center of the town, but even the garrison doesn’t enjoy its monotonous greensward and unkempt walks.{210}

Four or five boats a day ply between the capital and Kronstadt. Pasha told me the night before to board the first boat in the morning. We would meet there. Pasha and I arrived at the landing almost simultaneously from different directions, while Paul appeared just before the gang-plank was pulled away.

Pasha and Paul represented, to me, the whole rank and file of the revolution. They were so utterly different, yet so absolutely united in purpose. Pasha was a beautiful girl of noble family, educated abroad, fluent in five languages, and even in every-day garb she suggested boudoirs and drawing-rooms, just as lilacs suggest summer, or the tinkle of mandolins suggest soft moonlight, rippling water, and romance. Paul was a Jew. He fairly exuded intellectuality. His hair was towsled, his linen vile, his finger-nails long and black, and his clothes spotted and stained with the feasts of other days. Two personalities could not be more absolutely different, yet they called each other “comrade,” and together shared the perils of this, the most dangerous work of the revolution.

The little boat rose and dipped upon the waves and Pasha rested languidly against the deck-house, delighting in the beauty of the sunlight on the water. Paul was like a live wire afoul of other live wires. Pasha’s warm cheeks were fresh with the color of youth and pink with the flush of morning; Paul’s were dead white. Pasha’s eyes were mild and sometimes languorous; Paul’s were abnormally bright at all times, shining like burnished metal.

An hour after we left the capital we were bouncing over the crude cobbles of Kronstadt streets in a rickety carriage which left us at a corner near a group of barracks. Several warships were riding at anchor in the{211} bay. We watched them a few minutes and Paul told us how many men of each ship were in the “organization.” Then we walked two blocks west, turned a corner, and entered a courtyard with several stairways leading off to the different apartments in the building. Paul led us to one of these inner entrances and up two flights. A girl opened a door to us and we all filed into a wide room which looked like the comfortable parlor of a small tradesman. There were ferns and rubber-plants in the windows and a canary-bird singing lustily in the warm sunlight that streamed in from the sea.

The developments of the next hour added momentarily to my mystification. Paul inquired for a certain man, whom we were informed was away. A brief parley ensued, during which I could see that the door of a room leading off was ajar, and behind this door was some one who seemed to be listening to what was said. The door was presently opened and he whom we sought appeared. We had not been long in this house when there came another ring at the door. A girl not yet out of her teens entered. To all appearances she was a factory-girl, or perhaps a servant. She wore a slatternly cotton dress, and a gray shawl over her head. “A message!” I wondered. The girl shook hands with us all, without uttering a word till she sat down. Then as she spoke I was struck with her expression, which was far too keenly intelligent for a girl of her apparent class. Suddenly she got up and left us without a word. The abruptness of her departure aroused my wonder. It was so un-Russian.

Five minutes later Pasha started for the front door, nodding to me to follow. I turned to see if Paul was coming, too, but he shook his head.

Not a word passed between us as we threaded our way through devious alleys’ turnings and finally stepped into{212} the doorway of a dark and dingy building. We mounted four flights of stairs to what looked to me an unfinished attic, divided by rough partitions into two large storerooms. At one end of this attic was a closet, or what I took for a closet. Pasha went straight to this closet, stopped, gave two quick knocks upon the door, a pause and then another; the door was immediately opened—by the factory-girl who had left us so abruptly a quarter of an hour before. As I stepped through the closet into a broad room she addressed me in exquisite French. Beyond her, in a big, bare room I could see many soldiers and sailors—fifteen or twenty, or more.

Small attention was paid to us while I stood in open-mouthed wonder at the scene. The rooms were scantily furnished, but in the corners were towering piles of pamphlets, proclamations, and other forbidden literature. Near the door a great hulking sailor was stuffing his high boot-legs with dozens of proclamations. Another was wrapping scores of brochures about his body, much as I had carried a certain book across the frontier. In the inner room the men were standing in little groups earnestly talking to one another in subdued voices. Again some one knocked on the door and my factory-girl admitted two soldiers, who went straight to a pile of leaflets which proved to be revolutionary songs printed on thin sheets of paper. These fellows stuffed quantities of the leaflets under their trousers, pulled their belts tight, and went out.

Pasha, in the meantime, had thrown off her street clothes and had taken from a cupboard a loaf of black bread and a dish of butter and was making herself a sandwich with a most unconcerned air. A shining nickel samovar was steaming merrily on a kitchen-table near by and from time to time some soldier or sailor would{213} prepare himself a glass of tea. I tried to look as unconcerned as the rest of them acted, but I felt a cold chill go up and down my spine every time a footstep sounded outside or a knock resounded on the door. I was, of course, keenly alive to the constant danger of detection that hung over this little band. And my nervous dread, though largely vicarious, was none the less demoralizing. In an endeavor to keep my nerve I began to ply Pasha with questions. In the first place, who was the girl dressed like a factory-worker? Pasha finished her sandwich, smiling at my bewilderment, then told me that she was the daughter of one of the largest landholders in south Russia. Her family name is older than the name of Romanoff—and for generations her fathers have been dignitaries of the court. This girl was supposed to be studying music in St. Petersburg. Her family were aware of her “liberal sympathies,” but no one had ever suspected her of being active, much less a leader, in the military organization.

There were two or three other young women in the room, all of them from cultivated families.

“But how do you prevent the dwornik [the house doorkeeper] from reporting these meetings?” I asked, for I knew that as a rule the dworniks are police agents.

Pasha called to a young man in a dark-blue blouse.

“This is our dwornik,” she said.

The man was a student from Moscow University, who, as a member of the military organization, had come to Kronstadt and secured a job as doorkeeper simply that conspirative headquarters might be established as I saw them there.

We were still talking to this dwornik when the now familiar knock was rapped out on the door. This time an officer of the rank of surgeon entered. He shook{214} hands with every one, then called Pasha and the other women one side. The gist of his errand was that he wanted to induce Pasha to come into his home to live, ostensibly as governess to his children. He occupied a cottage within the fortress, and Pasha, living there, would be in daily contact with many soldiers and sailors. To Pasha it seemed a wonderful opportunity for establishing a headquarters in the very heart of Kronstadt. As always with these revolutionists, Pasha thought only of the opportunity and nothing at all of the risks involved.

Nearly an hour had passed since we had left Paul, and I had begun to wonder about him, when again the countersign rap was heard on the door. A soldier sauntered in and directly over to one of the windows, which he raised, and tossed a cigarette into the street. This proved a signal to a group who were waiting below and who presently joined us. With them was Paul, but so marvelously changed that I caught my breath as my eye fell upon him. His long, towsled hair of an hour before was now closely clipped, his face shaved clean, and he wore the uniform of a sailor, a round pancake hat sitting jauntily over one ear. Under his arm he carried a bundle done up in a newspaper. Coming toward me he handed me the bundle and said:

“Go into the next room and put on these things.”

The spirit of the game filled me when I cut the string and tore the newspapers off a Russian sailor suit. In the Caucasus I had worn the uniform of a Cossack officer and hobnobbed with the loyalest supporters of the Czar. Now I was to wear the costume of an ordinary seaman and conspire with the arch enemies of czardom. I made the change quickly and reappeared a sailor laddie with the name of a proud man-o’-war stamped in gilt letters{215} around my cap. As I pressed into the crowd of bona fide sailors in the room, I was conscious of feeling distinctly less at ease than when first I donned my Cossack outfit, but perhaps conscience made the difference. There is no doubt about it: loyal revolutionists though these people be and imbued with the martyr spirit—they yet find a fascination in intrigue and masquerading that is not altogether without its pleasurable thrill and has in it the element of the childish love of “dressing up.”

The “comrades” hailed my coming with louder glee than discretion, and I was viewed from all points by critical eyes. Paul then disclosed to me the plan. I was next to be shaved and shorn. During the afternoon we would attend a conspirative meeting and at sunset he and I would join a boatload of sailors returning to their ship from shore leave and be smuggled aboard the cruiser whose name we both wore on our caps. He and I would be stowed away below, and late at night, when the ever suspicious officers would be less watchful, we would hold a meeting for the sailors. At least, Paul would hold the meeting and I would stand by and encourage the cause by my presence.

Right here I set my foot down. I was courting arrest as it was, but such an adventure as Paul proposed was only too likely to end by having our heads shot off and no questions asked, and even a paternal government would hardly protest. The chances of discovery were infinite, and capture under these circumstances would mean prompt execution. I declined Paul’s invitation with thanks. Just then Pasha came up. She, too, had changed her part. Like the girl who watched the door of the room, Pasha was now a mill-girl. Her pretty summer shirtwaist was exchanged for a soiled and torn calico-print affair, and a gray shawl was thrown over{216} her head and shoulders. Through one torn shoe a white-stockinged foot protruded.

“What are you up to now?” I asked.

“I go to hold a meeting in the barracks. I’m a soldier’s sweetheart, don’t you see?” she laughed, hooking her arm around the arm of a soldier who stood by, to his very evident embarrassment.

“Why can’t I go with you?”

“You can. Why not? Only it will be more interesting on the ship.”

I did not doubt that I would find it more of an adventure to accompany Paul, but I wasn’t seeking that kind of adventure. I wanted to study the methods of army and navy propaganda and the barracks meetings were quite as important as the meetings on the ships, so I elected to stick by Pasha.

Paul handed me a key, which he said unlocked a certain box in his room in St. Petersburg. If I did not hear from him by ten o’clock the next morning I was to go to his room, unlock the box and burn the papers. He then shook hands with Pasha and myself and went out behind an orderly who carried a large black portfolio supposedly containing official documents, but, as I knew, now filled with official proclamations of the revolution.

Pasha and I remained at headquarters till early afternoon, and then started forth upon our enterprise—she a plain mill-girl, and I a sailor boy.

A sailor led us to a small park near the barracks and left us sitting on a bench while he reconnoitered. In a few minutes he returned with the word that all was well. Only we must hurry. The barracks courtyard entrance was guarded by a soldier. Hurrying across the court we entered the barracks. It was a long, low building of brick. At one end was a room evidently used for storage{217} purposes, though originally intended for sleeping-quarters. The windows were set high in the walls, and crossed by iron bars as in a prison. The darkness obscured my vision for the first minute, but I was aware that many men were already in the room—soldiers and sailors all. They made way for us as we were led to the far end of the hall. I noticed that there was no other door in the room than the one by which we had entered.

Within a quarter of an hour the room was crowded. Nearly one hundred men in uniform stood compactly within the four walls.

Some one near the front started the Marseillaise in a low key. In a minute the atmosphere of the room seemed charged with electricity. My blood tingled to my fingertips as that deep-throated chorus in subdued tones repeated the refrain of the most soul-stirring hymn ever written.

At the close the sailor who had been our guide to the place leaned over to Pasha and said:

“Shall we begin?”

Without formality of any kind Pasha mounted a box which had been brought in for the purpose, and gathered herself for her address. My eyes were accustomed to the dimness now, and as her shawl had fallen away from her head and was caught over her shoulders, I could see the delicate flush on her cheeks.

The hush that fell over the gathering was deep, like the emptiness of a nautilus.

At the beginning she spoke very quietly. She talked simply and directly. She appealed to the soldiers and sailors as men who had been peasants and working-men, who were to be again peasants and working-men. There was fervor in her voice. She spoke not for party, not for section, but for Russia—unhappy Russia! Bleeding{218} from border to border; her people oppressed by rulers who should be guardians of her peace and happiness! Without the support of the army and navy the overthrow of the present régime is quite impossible. With the support of the army and navy it would be simple.

“What are we to do with our officers when we rise?” asked a sailor when an opportunity for questions was given.

That was a leading question and I awaited her answer with as breathless interest as did the men.

“I cannot agree to the shedding of innocent blood,” she began. “I am a terrorist because the terror strikes down only the guilty.”

“But if we do not kill our officers we would all suffer. We might indeed lose the fight.”

“Wise members of our liberty movement believe that when we are actually in armed insurrection we should cling to war methods. The government kills our leaders first. Perhaps we should kill the officers. I must leave that to you. I would not hold you back. I would not argue against your doing it. But I cannot sanction it. I would prefer you bound them hand and foot and stored them away until you could consign them to a prison.” A very ingenuous answer, this—and so woman-like.

After something more than an hour the cooler ones reminded the meeting that to prolong the discussion unnecessarily was tempting discovery. The speaker then closed the meeting with a few earnest words of warning not to be premature in rising. The policy of the whole country then was to wait so that all Russia might rise simultaneously. Occasional tilts with the government only result in excessive blood-spilling and do not materially further the cause. “When the next uprising comes it must be the death-grapple.” There was a dis{219}tribution of leaflets, and the meeting closed, as it had opened, with the guarded singing of the Marseillaise.

Pasha and I left the room first. We retraced our steps through the court, and as we passed the sentry he again saluted smilingly and I breathed freely once more. Light-heartedly we retraced our steps to the attic headquarters, which were now deserted. The samovar was still steaming, however, invitingly. We sat and discussed the meeting over our tea, before laying off our respective disguises. We left the house together, meaning to take the six o’clock boat back to the capital.

Following the usual conspirative methods, we did not proceed on our way directly, but turned two or three corners before setting out for the boat. As we neared the main street leading to the pier we decided to call an ishvozchik [cab]. As I turned to look for one I felt Pasha tugging at my arm. I turned toward her quickly. Her gaze was fixed on a man who appeared to be hurrying off across the little garden over the way.

“The Fox!” she murmured.

Then I knew that probably we were shadowed.

“The Fox” was a member of the secret police whose recent arrests of revolutionists had wrought great havoc among the leaders of certain conspirative groups. He had formerly called himself a revolutionist, and as such had mingled freely among them. Though not long known to them, he had quickly established himself through his outspoken bitterness toward the government and the daring coups he was always ready to take part in. His cleverness was exceptional. That was why, conspiratively, he was called “the Fox.” Many revolutionists are known by similar names—the Beaver, the Hare, the Boar, etc. The adoption of the names of animals is a matter of common practice.{220}

The Fox had been one of the group that had set up a miniature republic in one of the Baltic Provinces towns the previous January. Pasha had been another of the same group. Through the betrayals of the Fox several of that circle had been taken by the police. Pasha had fancied herself safe from him at least, and consequently safe from the charge upon which she was then sought, because in St. Petersburg she was far from the scene of her former activities.

“Perhaps he did not see us,” she said at last hopefully. Just then he glanced back quickly toward us, and then increased his pace.

I looked at my watch. We had only six minutes to catch the boat.

“The sooner we get out of this the better—with that man running around loose!” I said, rather flippantly.

I summoned a cab and told the driver I would give him twice his fare if he caught the boat. He drove furiously, but with only a couple of minutes we were not within sight of the quay and I began to fear that we would be too late.

“Get us there and you shall have three times your fee,” I shouted.

He laid on his whip. The horse bounded forward. We heard the boat whistle. We might make it! The carriage clattered over the wooden pier and stopped with a jerk just as the boat was pulling out.

We dared not show the disappointment we felt. A group of soldiers eyed us with evident interest. The Fox did not appear. Apparently he had not recognized Pasha, or he was not yet prepared to strike, or, he would telephone to the mainland to have us captured upon the arrival of the boat. Pasha looked up at me and laughed. That laugh was reassuring. It steadied me like a stimu{221}lant. Across the landing was another steamer on the point of departure.

“Quick!” I exclaimed, and hurried her aboard.

This steamer was due to sail at the same moment as the other, but a minute’s delay had proved our salvation.

“But where is it going?” she asked.

“I haven’t the dimmest idea,” I replied. “It is leaving Kronstadt, and that’s enough for us!”

“It may be going to another island in the Gulf of Finland,” she went on, “and then we are nicely trapped.”

That was a disquieting thought, so I left her in the cabin and went above to negotiate for tickets—and ascertain where we were going. At all events we were now steaming away from Kronstadt.

“What is the first stopping-place?” I asked casually of a deck-hand.

He looked queerly at me for a moment, but from my bad Russian he knew me to be a stranger.

“Orienbaum,” he answered.

Orienbaum is on the mainland, above Peterhof, and one hour by train from Petersburg, so by that we were reassured. In the cabin we were fortunately the only passengers, although many others were on the decks. Our plan was quickly arranged. In Kronstadt Pasha had worn a golf-cape over her jacket. She now planned to leave it on the steamer. She had in her pocket a veil of a different color and style from the one she had been wearing. With this outward change she was much altered. Then we separated. We would meet—casually—on the train. If any description had been wired to Orienbaum it would certainly not tally with her present appearance, and we would not be together when we left the boat.

At Orienbaum there were fifty minutes to wait for a train. Where my companion spent that time I don’t know.{222} I went into a summer garden where there was music, and impatiently tried to listen to Russian songs badly sung.

On the train I caught a glimpse of Pasha in the car behind the one I entered, so I knew that all was still well with her. After a few stations I joined her. She was not in the least agitated, though perfectly aware that she would have to flee the country for the time being. That the Fox might know where she was living made it perilous for her to return there, even for her necessary clothing. We also knew that she might not obtain her passport, which was in the hands of the concierge of her house. Without a passport she could not cross the frontier. Obviously there was but one thing to do. When we reached St. Petersburg she would go to the house of a friend, where she would remain in hiding until I had made the necessary arrangements for her escape, and this might mean several days. As soon as we were agreed on this plan I again left her, nor did I see her again until I returned with a passport which I knew would carry her to safety.

Thus ended our trip to Kronstadt—quite without climax; and I might almost have persuaded myself that our danger at the time was more fancied than real but for what happened shortly after. A few weeks later Pasha was captured on another count—not nearly so serious as conspirative work in the military organization, but serious enough to send her to prison on an indeterminate sentence. As for Paul, he turned up the next morning at my rooms behind the Kazan Cathedral while I was breakfasting. He was excited over Pasha’s close shave at Kronstadt, but continued to “work” there until the night Kronstadt rose, after the dissolution of the Duma—when Paul was one of the captured. But these incidents belong to other chapters.{223}



Kronstadt on the eve of mutiny—Influences encouraging uprising—Make-up of the garrison—Wild rumors—A grand plan for general army and navy uprising—A successful beginning—Silence—A momentous telegram—A sudden signal—Mutiny—Trapped!—Slaughter—Illuminating lessons of the Kronstadt fiasco—The terrible cost in life and liberty.

THE Kronstadt fiasco revealed the value to the government of the agent provocateur.[12] During the entire year 1906 there was no shrewder nor cleverer piece of work executed. It must be said at the same time, however, that the revolutionists themselves were somewhat to blame. They generally are. Some one is stupid, hesitating in the crisis, or recklessly premature, and the psychological moment is lost. This is the deepest tragedy of the revolution. There is always consolation in the wake of the inevitable, but when disasters are precipitated by unnecessary or preventable causes, by carelessness or inefficiency, there is only black regret. At the Kronstadt rising scores of lives were sacrificed, the careful preparatory work of months was undone, and the current of the revolution itself for the moment arrested.

When I attended a revolutionary meeting and listened{224} to the singing of the Marseillaise within the very walls of the fortress, there was large promise of a successful uprising when the time should come. This was the second week in June. Two days after my visit a committee of “sailors and soldiers of the St. Petersburg and Kronstadt garrisons” forwarded to the Group of Toil in the Duma a telegram of support and appeal, closing with the following sentence:

“Though you are in the Duma in the minority, still you must firmly remember that you express the will of the whole peasantry and laboring class; that is, all of the toilers of the land.

“But if on account of small numbers you are not able to carry through and realize all these reforms which are indispensable and which you are empowered by the people to obtain, then you must sound a call to the people and army, calling them to rise for the struggle.

“Your call will not be a voice in the desert, but, on the contrary, it will sound like thunder through the whole land and all as one will arise—all of the enslaved and oppressed—for the defense of their trampled rights, for land, and for freedom.”

Coming when they did these were foolish words. As subsequent events proved “all of the enslaved and oppressed” did not rise, nor were they in a position to rise at that time. The publication of this telegram did not advance the cause one iota, but it did put the government on guard. Kronstadt was doubly watched from that moment.

The Duma was dissolved just one month later, and three weeks after the dissolution Kronstadt tried to rise—a costly, futile effort.

In early June the garrison consisted of about twenty thousand sailors, four thousand heavy artillery, and two{225} thousand infantry. In August the sailors and artillery numbered approximately the same, but more infantry had been brought down from Peterhof. This alone should have been a warning to the military organization, but the roster of the revolutionary sympathizers was apparently so long, the outlook so encouraging, that the force of the loyal men was hopelessly under-estimated. In this particular bad generalship was to blame.

The Sunday preceding the mutiny I visited Kronstadt. Near the center of the island is a summer garden in which a military band plays each Sunday afternoon. Ordinarily this garden is crowded with visitors. I found it as desolate as a cemetery. The band was there—playing manfully to deserted groves and empty benches. Here and there a soldier strolled with his sweetheart. But the absence of the usual gala throng was ominous. The streets, too, were still. Houses were closed. Veritably it was an evacuated city. Upon inquiry, I was told that a rumor had been circulated during the previous two or three days that all of Kronstadt had been mined, by the government, and a warning issued to the soldiers and sailors that if mutiny did break out the mines would be exploded, blowing sailors, soldiers, ships, and town into Kingdom Come. This sounded to me like a ridiculous fiction. And I still scout the idea. But the Russian people have learned by costly experiences that the wildest tales of the government often prove true in Russia. A panic had, therefore, possessed the town, and all of the townspeople who could had fled. Extraordinary as this report sounds, it would unquestionably have been a safer thing for the government to do than to allow Kronstadt to become a revolutionary stronghold. Wandering about the town I could discover no signs of an imminent uprising. I even failed to find any of my acquaintances{226} among the military organization, which made me wonder a good deal. And indeed, as I learned later, at this time, four days before the actual outbreak, there was no thought of attempting the mutiny immediately, on the part of the revolutionary leaders. In reality it was planned for several weeks later, when the peasants would have gathered their scanty harvests and be ready to fight: when the railroad, postal and telegraph strikes were planned to come off simultaneously; then, as an adjunct to these national movements, the army and navy mutinies were to begin. The plan was an elaborate one and looked thrillingly good on paper, but as has happened before the agent provocateur of the government had not been taken into account. Upon signal, Sveaborg, near Helsingfors, was to rise, then Reval in the Baltic provinces, then Sebastopol on the Black Sea, and finally Kronstadt. With these four important strongholds captured it would seem that the fight was won. The month of September, or possibly October, was the time selected to set in motion the attacks upon these centers—in conjunction with a general strike and multitudinous peasant uprisings—jacquerie—all over the empire.

A plan of this magnitude necessarily depended for execution upon a great many different people, and, despite all the care that was supposedly exercised, every detail was early reported to the government, with the result that the whole thing was not only forestalled, but precipitated, and at the moment when everything was most favorable to the government.

Violent reaction followed the dissolution of the Duma. The American mind can scarcely conceive of the degree of suppression employed by the Russian government. Nearly every liberal newspaper in St. Petersburg was immediately confiscated and many permanently sup{227}pressed. Not only radical journals, but moderate newspapers, like those edited by Professor Paul Miliukoff and Professor Kovalevsky, newspapers of dignity and spirit, untainted by commercial or ignoble motives, such as we in America cannot appreciate. Foreign newspapers,—from England, from France, from Germany,—were so rigidly censored that nothing about Russia worth reading escaped elimination. This aspect of the censorship was most farcical. The men who wrote the telegrams and articles remained in St. Petersburg. The things they wrote were lamp-blacked in every individual paper that entered the country. Personal correspondence was demoralized. The letters of private individuals were ruthlessly opened and frequently confiscated. And as for arrests, it seemed as if nine out of every ten men who had ever expressed a liberal opinion were marked for prison. It was estimated that six hundred political arrests were made in St. Petersburg alone during the week of the Duma dissolution. These wholesale arrests continued for weeks all over Russia. The governmental troops seemed to be in absolute control everywhere. The atmosphere of St. Petersburg was at first tense with expectancy that some change would come and turn the tables, but as days passed and the iron heel of the bureaucracy only pressed the harder over the land, liberal sympathizers became utterly discouraged and despairing. This was the situation when I went to Kronstadt on the Sunday of the fatal week. On that day all was quiet. So was it on Monday. Tuesday there were a score of rumors in the air, most of them wild and fantastic, but yet seeming indicative of something. Wednesday news of the Sveaborg mutiny reached St. Petersburg. The reports were hysterical. The Sveaborg fortress was reported fallen, and ships sent to recapture the bat{228}teries had themselves fallen under mutiny. Fighting was next reported at Reval, and at the same time from Sebastopol. All telegrams were favorable to the revolutionists. All eyes turned to Kronstadt. Kronstadt awaited the signal. Suddenly all communication was cut off between St. Petersburg and the centers of activity. Even the railroad to Helsingfors was broken—the bridge dynamited. The last reports that got through were entirely favorable to the mutineers, and, therefore, the assumption was that the telegraph, telephone, and railroad lines were held by the revolutionists.

Some of the foreign correspondents in St. Petersburg hastened toward Sveaborg, but I, knowing Kronstadt so intimately, went there, to be on hand for the fight which seemed so imminent. The regular boats between St. Petersburg and Kronstadt were discontinued Wednesday afternoon. This seemed an indication of something brewing, so I hurried over the course I had so hastily come a few weeks earlier when “escaping” with Pasha. I reached Orienbaum by train, and there secured a boat across the mile-broad stretch of water to the fortress.

It was just sunset when I reached the island and made my way through the deserted streets of the town. A remote hill village could be no lonelier. No one seemed to know who had disturbed the connections with St. Petersburg.

The first information of importance I gleaned was that nearly all of the ships stationed at Kronstadt had just put out to sea, and that of those remaining all but one or two had been dismantled. That is to say, their guns had been dismounted and most of the sailors disarmed. The effect of these precautions upon the men was precisely what any reasonable and logical person would have supposed—discouragement from immediate{229} action. I found a small government boat lying at a quay with about twenty sailors and heavy artillerymen lounging about the decks. There was no officer near, so I boarded the ship and sat talking with the men for half an hour or more. After the first few minutes they opened up and told me that they knew almost nothing of what was going on at Helsingfors as the government had prevented their seeing any newspapers. They admitted that there were plans for a mutiny—“but not yet.” All agreed to this: “Not now.” The artillerymen said: “If any ship flying a red flag comes along it will not be fired upon by us. But we don’t want to start the affair.” I spent the remainder of the evening going from point to point and talking to sailors, soldiers, and young men about the town. Nearly all told me the same thing. “We know we must rise. There is no other way. But we must not be hasty. We will wait and rise together with other garrisons and with the fleet.” The men seemed all to have learned well their lesson of restraint from the workers of the military organization, for I knew absolutely that this was what they had been instilling into the Kronstadt garrison for weeks.

By ten o’clock I was satisfied that Kronstadt would remain serene for the present. There was no indication whatever of movement anywhere on the part of either sailors or soldiers. Returning to the quay I found the regular ferry-boat running to Orienbaum as usual. I boarded the one which left at ten-thirty. We were delayed a few minutes at starting by a brawling sailor. This was the only enlivening incident I had witnessed. Midway to the mainland a search-light on a warship, which had just crept in close to Kronstadt, began sweeping the water. Round and round, now slowly, now fast, now near, now far. Once the great white path caught{230} our little boat and fastened upon us. Then it turned and flashed toward the sea. The night was wonderful, still and calm, with a clear sky and brilliant stars above, and a soft summer breeze drifting pleasantly across the distant waters of the gulf. Perfect peace seemed to brood over Kronstadt. When the circling search-light fell upon the grim fortress walls they stood out in frowning silence which seemed set and lasting—like eternal verities, great hopes of struggling men, and all things which endure.

I vaguely framed the telegrams I had promised to send for other correspondents, according to the coöperative arrangements made under the stress of many points of interest simultaneously claiming attention—telegrams to London, to Paris, and Berlin. Their substance was: “Kronstadt promises to remain quiet for the present, although ships flying red flags will meet with no hostile reception.” We were twenty minutes in crossing. We had not fairly landed when the great guns of Kronstadt boomed and the mutiny was on.

Inasmuch as I was nearer to it than any one else, I believe I was the most surprised—unless, perchance, the very men who took part in the affair. The Kronstadt uprising of August, 1906, was a bolt from the blue to the men who participated, to the workers of the military organization, and to every one who was supposedly familiar with the situation there. The flash-light from the warship playing on the fortress seemed a sort of confirmation of this.

The explanation throws a white light on the question “Why the army does not rise.”

Just before the departure of the boat for Orienbaum a telegram had been received by the central committee of the military organization. The wires having been in{231}terrupted for some time, the arrival of this telegram was accepted as evidence that the lines were in friendly hands. The telegram purported to be from Helsingfors. It stated that Sveaborg was captured and also Reval; that Sebastopol would presently fall. Further, two warships in the hands of the revolutionists were at that moment on the way from Helsingfors to Kronstadt and would arrive about daylight. In the meantime Kronstadt must rise so as to be in the hands of the revolutionists when the ships arrived in the morning.

This meant immediate action. A small number of sappers and miners were gathered together and certain outer batteries captured. Two heavy shells were fired, and these guns signaled the garrison to rise. The sappers and miners were soon reinforced by artillerymen and sailors, but nearly all of these were unarmed, having had their arms taken from them a few days before. They therefore advanced upon the arsenal. On the way the officers’ quarters were invaded and six officers killed, including an admiral. The arsenal was captured against small resistance and the men rushed up-stairs to where the guns were stored. They pulled the doors from the gun-cases, and then for the first time suspected that the telegram and the whole signal to rise was a hoax. The guns were there, but the locks had all been removed!

Unarmed sailors are no better than an unarmed mob. When the mutineers poured out into the street from the arsenal they were received by a regiment of loyal troops brought down from Peterhof that very afternoon and now hurried into action. They poured volley after volley into the men coming out of the arsenal. There was some bayonet-fighting, but the rattle of gatling guns speedily forced a surrender. The actual casualties of this night will never be known. They cannot be reckoned from{232} without, and the government will not disclose the figures. Horrible scenes followed the slaughter. Bodies of the dead were pitched into the sea and with them some wounded who still lived. One or two of these survived, being carried by the current across the narrow stretch of water to the mainland and there washed ashore.

Several hundred arrests followed. A Duma deputy, named Anipko, a member of the Group of Toil, was taken on this occasion, and with him my friend Paul. I could never learn why these two were not executed, but instead they were both sent to Siberia. A few days later there were nineteen men shot, twelve sent to hard labor for life, one hundred and twenty others to the mines for varying terms, and four hundred and twenty-nine to prison. These five hundred and eighty men, together with those killed outright, were supposed to be the leading members of the military organization in Kronstadt at that time. Doubtless they were. A régime of repression was naturally promptly established.

Every time there is an incipient mutiny there is a renewal of oppression. Again and again during the last few years have mutinies, like the Kronstadt affair, been precipitated by the government, and always with results as disastrous to the men as satisfactory to the government. The fact that the army does not rise is no indication at all that the men are loyal to the Czar. As a whole they are not. The difficulty comes in their not being able to rise simultaneously, and in their inability to save their leaders from execution or exile long enough to lead them into battle.

The failure of Kronstadt, of Sveaborg, and of Reval did not make any appreciable impression upon the men. More of the best leaders were taken, a few hundred more lives given up, but the spirit of unrest remained. The{233}

[Image unavailable.]

The Kronstadt insurrection

[Image unavailable.]

Loyal troops sent to quell Kronstadt mutiny



hugeness of Russia makes the revolutionary movement unwieldy. Every man, or woman, who is educated, or who shows liberal tendencies, is liable to be marked, and at the first opportunity, reasonable or unreasonable, clapped into prison, or exiled. The best disciplined army in the world would fall asunder if practically all of the officers were suddenly snatched away. It is only the great underlying principle of the revolution which now moves the masses on. The reign of anarchy which threatens Russia to-day is a far more terrible menace than the bloodiest revolution fought out on a civil-war basis. When a whole people become utterly lawless, each man striking blindly, and all striking, the result is chaos for the time being. The existing weak government is rapidly bringing Russia to this. For the government, while able to demoralize the ranks of the revolution, is yet unable to administer, to rule, or to guide. The great mass of the people are against the government. Many, especially of the middle classes, are silent because they dare not openly fight. But the very moment the tide of success turns into the channels of the revolutionists, the ranks of the government’s enemies will swell enormously. The number of people all over the country who are as it were “on the fence” who will join the revolution as soon as the propitious moment seems to have arrived is inestimably large. So it is with the army. The percentage of the men favorable to revolution is large, but for their own necks’ sake they refrain from premature revolt. When the wave of success finally sweeps high over the existing order, the army will turn by regiments and brigades. The officers know this perfectly well, and are straining every resource to put off the day when this cataclysm will overtake them. But it is coming as surely as night follows day. Discipline in the army is such that{236} it can be stayed but it cannot be ultimately avoided. Men now have no other alternative than to obey. For example, when an execution is to take place and there is the slightest doubt about the soldiers who are to do the shooting, a file of infantry are ranged at a given spot; directly behind the soldiers a file of, say, marines; directly behind these again a file of Cossacks. The command is given to the front rank to fire. Every man whose gun doesn’t go off is shot by the man behind him; if any man in the second rank fails, the Cossacks in the rear—who can always be depended upon—shoot.

Paul and Pasha, and all of the other ardent men and women whom I saw working in Kronstadt in June, were either killed, imprisoned, or exiled, in August. But by September there were other Pauls, other Pashas, established in Kronstadt, working just as earnestly and fearlessly, and just as hopeful of the ultimate outcome. They all believe in this revolution with the same gloriously blind faith, for they recognize revolution as the inevitable result of the anachronous and rotten social, economic, and political conditions which have for so long sapped the vitality of Russia.{237}



Arrived in Bielostok—First impressions—Stories of the injured—The crucifix as a weapon of death—The hospital fired upon—Children victims—Failure of government to place responsibility—Mass of evidence proving governmental complicity in massacres—Other massacres officially instigated—Prince Urusoff’s speech—The assassination of Professor Hertzenstein—A celebrated Moscow physician murdered—Warsaw horrors—Upon whom rests the responsibility?—Arrest of Pasha—Shooting a girl in prison—Bureaucracy guilty of murder and assassination—Placing the responsibility on the Czar—The arch-terrorist and assassin of Russia.

THE sixth week of the Duma session a pogrom, or massacre, was instigated in the town of Bielostok, in Grodno, on the edge of Poland. I hurried to the scene as fast as I could, arriving shortly after the slaughter had ceased and before the wreckage and debris had been cleared from the streets.

My train was late. Bielostok was wrapped in midnight quiet when I alighted at the station. The first impression was that I had been set down in the midst of an armed camp. Soldiers were bivouacked in and around the station. A little bridge a few hundred yards down the line was held by a force of fighting strength. Sentinels patroled the deserted streets.

The station lies a mile or more outside of the town, and as I had not been there before I at once engaged a man{238} to guide me to the center of the town, where I might find a place to sleep. (There was not a cab anywhere.) We trudged through arbored, deserted streets, turning out for piles of wreckage, and sometimes jumping over obstructions. Suddenly my escort stopped short with an exclamation.

“What is wrong?” I inquired.

The fellow began to blubber. It was not till I had coaxed him several minutes that he was finally able to blurt out:

“It was at this very spot that they killed our school-master—”

“Who did it?” I asked.

“Three gendarmes. I stood right there”—and he pointed to the middle of the road. “The teacher was coming along the street, annoying no one. Then three gendarmes appeared and caught hold of him and began pounding nails into his head.”

The next day I secured a photograph of the man’s corpse with the nails still in the skull.

The evening of the first night of the massacre the police gave to the world the report that a Jew had thrown a bomb into a religious procession, and for the moment the world believed this.

As a matter of fact, according to the unanimous testimony of the townspeople, and the report of the investigating committee, no bomb was thrown in the whole town on the day of the religious fête, and no Jew in any way disturbed the procession. This was an out-and-out fabrication of the police who inaugurated the massacre, designed to protect themselves.

The first man wounded told me with his own lips what actually transpired. He was standing by the bedside of his wife, who had that hour given birth to a child. Hear{239}ing a procession passing the house he stepped to the window to look out. A soldier deliberately raised his rifle and fired at him—the bullet hitting him in the shoulder. That shot was the signal for the beginning of the massacre which continued in the shape of a murderous riot for three days. Not a hand was raised during those three days to put a stop to the deeds of horror, although the governor of the province knew about it and had at his disposal troops sufficient to quell a dozen such affairs. The police led in the massacre, assisted by the flotsam and jetsam of the town known as the Black Hundred, while the military acquiesced by refraining from interference. As I passed one cot in the hospital a voice called to me in broken English:

“You speak English?”

I turned in surprise and saw a man of about middle age, almost wholly swathed in bandages.

“How do you come to know English?” I inquired.

“I lived five years in London,” he answered, adding quickly, “Do you want to know what happened to me?”

I told him I did.

“Well, you see, I had worked hard and saved five hundred rubles ($250.00), and I thought I would take my family to America. I went to Warsaw to buy the tickets. I was coming back with the tickets in my pocket. I got off the train at Bielostok and saw a crowd coming down the street. I did not know what it was, but I was not frightened. Then, all of a sudden, the man with the cross came at me and began to beat me, and that is all I remember.”

I wondered what the “man with the cross” could mean, and the hospital surgeon explained that the man who marched before the religious procession carried a gold cross with an image of the crucified Christ upon it,{240} and that sacred symbol was used as a weapon of butchery and death!

Among all civilized nations hospitals are respected, even in war times. But the gendarmes stood before the Bielostok hospital and deliberately poured volley after volley into it, with no other object, apparently, than to throw the patients into a panic. Some of them threw themselves under the beds, others climbed up the chimneys. One man remained three days in a chimney, and then dropped down through the exhaustion of hunger.

When the firing upon the hospital ceased, a gendarme entered the hospital and asked if one of the doctors would come into the street to attend to some wounded men. A feldsher (a doctor’s assistant) gathered some bandages and antiseptics together and hastened out of the hospital-yard. As he passed through the gateway a gendarme shot him. He lay dead where he fell until night.

A young boy of twelve whose face had been slashed with a sword told me how the police had carried him to the local gendarmerie, after he had been cut down with the saber stroke. He recovered consciousness shortly and not being seriously hurt was perfectly able to walk home. Instead of permitting this the gendarmes threw him into a cart and then piled a number of corpses above him, and sent him out to where the dead were being buried. The grave-diggers were compassionate and allowed him to escape.

The story of Bielostok is the story of nearly every massacre of recent years in Russia that has been inaugurated by local authorities, with or without the connivance of higher authorities in St. Petersburg.

From Bielostok I ran over to Vilna, the old Lithuanian capital, picturesquely situated on the river Vilia.{241} Immediately after the Bielostok pogrom the Vilna police circulated the rumor that on Sunday there would be a massacre of the Jews in Vilna. On Sunday the rumor was corrected. The massacre was set for Tuesday. On Tuesday it was put off till Thursday and for two weeks and a half the Jews of Vilna lived in a state of perpetual panic. Those who could fled the city, but the most were imprisoned there through their poverty.

Governmental terrorism in one form or another is employed by Russia to terrify the people of a given locality into submitting to certain impositions, or to quiet seditious gossip, or to coerce the people into voting for a Duma deputy whom they disapprove of, but who is the representative of the government.

In Russia no official of the government can be prosecuted at law without the approval of his official superiors. The prosecution of an official is popularly supposed to threaten the prestige of the Emperor, consequently any prosecution is very rare. The right of the Emperor to promulgate “exceptional laws,” which take precedence over all other laws in the empire, reduces to an absurdity every form of law-making in Russia. The right of the Emperor to place a certain official in supreme command of a given locality, removing him for the time without the pale of all civil and military authority, makes possible the greatest abuses which culminate from time to time in organized massacres. These massacres are sometimes arranged by the police and the gendarmes, as at Bielostok; sometimes by a single official, sometimes by the organization of the Black Hundred, as at Odessa. There are famous instances when massacres have been secretly planned by local authorities with the knowledge and consent of St. Petersburg. General Trepoff’s attitude of tacit consent and approval is well known.{242}

The complicity of the Russian government in massacres and other barbarities that are periodically visited upon the Russian people is familiar to most people in Europe, but America seems very reluctant to accept the facts. We are loath to believe that a government, having dealings with civilized nations, does condone the monstrous crimes which incontrovertibly do belong to Russia.

A volume of evidence on this issue could easily be prepared. My present task is to tell of the things I saw with my own eyes, and the things I learned from unimpeachable sources. Recognizing, however, the seriousness of these charges, I feel justified in appending enough citations to official and authoritative reports to adequately support my most condemnatory statements.[13]

Senator Turau, an official investigator for the government, in reporting upon one of the Kieff pogroms stated that for purposes of defense the troops stationed in the city had been assigned to the four quarters of the town.

“Yet the pogrom lasted for three days,” he goes on to state, “and stopped only when all Jewish shops and many Jewish houses had been ransacked. The police were almost entirely absent. The troops walked slowly{243} down the middle of the street while robbery was proceeding on both sides of them. When private persons or officials asked for help from the troops, the answer was always: ‘We have no orders.’ Even the vice-governor, Raffalsky, though in uniform, had this answer from a squad of Cossacks. Generally a shop already ransacked was guarded by a sentinel, who thought it his duty to stand there, paying no attention to the pillage which was going on all around him.”

A bystander and a policeman were told by soldiers that they were only ordered to go up and down the street. One soldier said to a law official: “We are ordered not to mix with the crowd.” A policeman appealed to a patrol which was watching the pillage of a shop; they replied: “We are ordered to see that there is no fighting and that no Russians are hurt.” Some Cossacks told a policeman: “We are here that no one may fire on the pillagers from the windows and balconies, and that they may not quarrel among themselves.” A crown lawyer asked some policemen why they did not take stolen goods from the pillagers; they answered: “Now it is impossible, as the authorities are against it.{244}” An officer of the reserve saw robbers with knives “literally cutting up two Jews”; ten yards away stood a squadron of cavalry “looking on quietly and not moving a step.” “To stop the pogrom was possible without special efforts.” The very soldiers who refused “to break their oath,” that is, to stop the pogrom, on the very next day, obeying orders, fired on the pillagers and arrested them. The pillagers then asked: “Where were you before? Why didn’t you shoot when the Emperor’s pictures were torn down?”

According to numerous eye-witnesses, including officials, some of the policemen and soldiers joined in the robbing and seized goods. “Many ex-soldiers in uniform took an active part”; “a lieutenant of artillery was leading the robbers on the Haymarket.” Police-captain Lyashchenko and his assistant, Pirozhkoff, were in charge of the ward in which most of the sacking took place. “These two,” says a lieutenant of the reserves, “were present during the pillage and took no measures, though policemen and patrols were close at hand.” Some say that on October 31 they shouted “Hit the Jews and rob them.” Two witnesses assert that Pirozhkoff directed the robbers against a certain shop.

Major-general Bezsonoff was in charge of the second district, in which nearly all the outrages took place. He stood nearly all the time in the square before the town-hall “quietly looking on and taking no measures.” “You may wreck,” he said to those near him, “but you may not rob.” The pillagers shouted “Hurrah!” and cheered the General. A shop near the town-hall was being sacked; a detachment of troops stood looking on. Bezsonoff joined them; when asked to interfere, he remarked that he would not allow force to be used against the pillagers, and remained a cold-blooded spectator of{245} the scene (evidence of a crown lawyer). The chief secretary of the governor-general said to him, “Your Excellency, there is a pogrom; no measures are being taken; how will you order me to understand this?” “What pogrom?” said the general; “it is a demonstration.” A woman picked up a cloth thrown from a window. “Do you call that robbery?” said Bezsonoff. “Why, it’s a find.” On November 1 two detectives heard him make a speech to the pillagers. “Boys,” he said, “you have already hit the Jews enough; you have shown that the Russian people know how to stand up for its Czar. Enough of rioting; if you go on wrecking to-morrow, then we will use force.” The robbers shouted “Hurrah!” and set about making the best use of their time. On that day General Karass summoned him and warned him for the last time that he must carry out orders and act with decision. The next day the pogrom was easily stopped.

Simultaneously with this pogrom in Kieff was another in Odessa, carried out along parallel lines.

In both of these cases the Jews were the chief victims. It must be remembered that the Jewish question in Russia is the greatest governmental red herring in history. Whenever a really vital and serious question comes up the government diverts public attention to the Jewish question. But the Jews are by no means the only victims. It will be recalled that in the Caucasus the Armenians are the sufferers, while from time to time in the interior of Russia and in Siberia pure Russians have been massacred—as in Samara on the Volga, where there was a massacre of “intellectuals” in the autumn of 1905.

In January, 1906, the Gomel pogrom occurred. In connection with this affair a secret press for the printing of incitements to violence was discovered in the chief gendarme’s office. A similar press was unearthed in the{246} central police department at St. Petersburg. Prince Urusoff, who was assistant minister of interior under Witte, described this discovery in the course of a speech in the first Duma—a speech which was probably the most important single speech made during the brief life of Russia’s first representative assembly. He said:

In January, 1906, one of the persons occupying a subordinate position in the ministry ... began to receive a large quantity of specimen appeals ... and also anxious protests against the organizing of massacres in Vilna, Bielostok, Kieff, Nikolaieff, Alexandrovsk, and other towns.... He used every means to avert any further massacres, which he also succeeded in doing.... At this time some light, though still of an imperfect nature, was thrown on the ... work of the artificers of massacres. A group of persons, composing a kind of fighting organization of one of our “patriotic clubs,” together with some who were in close touch with the editors of a newspaper—not in St. Petersburg—undertook to combat revolution.... The Russian population (of the frontiers), and in particular Russian soldiers, were invited to settle accounts with the traitors in tens of thousands of appeals with the most agitating contents.... There were strange results if one thinks of the preservation of the unity of authority. An assistant police-master (I merely give an example) circulates the appeals without the knowledge of his chief; ... or again, a police-captain, let us say, of the first ward, was considered worthy of a confidence which was denied to the police-captain of the second ward. Some one serving in the gendarmes’ office, or in the defense section, proved to be supplied with special sums of money. To him certain of the lower people began to resort.... Frightened inhabitants went to see the governor.... Telegrams from the ministry spoke of measures to be taken to secure tranquillity; and such measures were often taken.... In some cases the police quite earnestly supposed that the measures were taken simply for show, for decency, but that they were already acquainted with the real intention of the government; they read between the lines, and thought that they heard, beyond the order of the governor, some voice from far off in which they had greater belief. In a word ... the authorities became completely demoralized.{247}

Meanwhile, in St. Petersburg, as early as the autumn of 1905, and, it would seem, before the October ministry came into office, in No. 16, Fontanka, in some remote room of the police department, a printing-press was at work; it had been purchased for the department by government money. This press was put under the control of an officer of gendarmes in civil dress, one Comisaroff, who, with a few assistants, assiduously prepared the appeals to which I have alluded. The secret of the existence of this “underground” press was so carefully kept, and the conduct of its organizers was so conspirative, that not only in the ministry, but even in the police department, there were but few persons who knew about it. Meanwhile, the work of the Union of Russian Men, whose organ the press was, was already meeting with success; for, when questioned by a person who happened to come upon the track of this organization, Comisaroff answered: “A massacre we can make for you, of any kind you please—if you like for ten men; and, if you like, for 10,000.” I may add that in Kieff a “massacre for 10,000” was arranged for February 20, but it was successfully prevented.

The President of the council of ministers (Count Witte) had, we are told, a serious attack of nervous asthma when the facts I have just narrated were communicated to him. He summoned Comisaroff, who reported to him on what he had done, and on the full powers which he had received. In a few hours the department no longer contained either the press, or the appeals, or the staff; there was left only an empty room.

Why did not Count Witte expose Comisaroff? Who can estimate the value to the government of a good Comisaroff trial? But Count Witte knew that he could not take this line and retain his place. He did not dare to combat influences which were more powerful than his own. M. Durnovo, who, reactionary as he was, confessed to Prince Urusoff that “this was not his way,” was equally impotent. Comisaroff, who had received a “decoration,” was quite recently living at large under an assumed name.

Prince Urusoff resigned office to become the assailant of the policy of massacre as a member of the imperial{248} Duma. The ordinary bureaucratic comment on his speech was that “Prince Urusoff had betrayed government secrets.” General Trepoff said, on July 9, to a representative of Reuter’s agency, “Il mentit, et c’est tout.” But the prince did not speak at random. His speech was founded on intimate knowledge not only of the government reports already quoted, but of other documents equally important.

It matters little how much high officials of the Russian government in St. Petersburg and diplomatic representatives abroad deny governmental responsibility in regard to massacres, so long as there is abundant evidence of the guilt of lesser officials and these are allowed to go unpunished. The maximum rebuke that is usually visited upon any particularly conspicuous pogromschik is temporary suspension or transfer from one post to another—sometimes with advance in rank, sometimes with advance in pay, sometimes both.[14]

Governmental terrorism, however, does not cease with the massacres. Individuals are assassinated at official instigation, precisely as the terrorists select a bureaucrat or official for “removal.” A notable instance of this was that of Professor Hertzenstein, a dignified and honored professor in the University of Moscow. Mr. Hertzenstein had given a great deal of attention to the agrarian question in Russia during twenty years or more. His counsel and advice guided the members of the first Duma when they were framing their “agrarian program.”

Late one afternoon, Professor Paul Miliukoff, who was then editor of the “Retsch,” received word from Moscow by telegram that a semi-official Moscow newspaper{249}

[Image unavailable.]

Seventy-two years old

Child four years old wantonly shot

Youth and old age—Bielostok pogrom victims



just published contained an account of the mysterious murder of Professor Hertzenstein near his summer home in Terioki, Finland. No one could be found in St. Petersburg who knew of it, so Professor Miliukoff despatched a messenger to Finland to investigate. Professor Hertzenstein, while walking in his garden with his daughter, was fatally shot that night at a little before nine o’clock, or three hours after the governmental newspaper in Moscow had announced his murder!

The next morning the “Retsch” printed a concise statement of the facts—and the police instantly seized the entire edition.

Several weeks later it developed that the assassin was an ex-gendarme officer who was paid to do away with the one man whom intellectual Russia trusted to bring them through the thicket of the agrarian tangle.

Another famous instance was that of a prominent Moscow physician, named Vorobieff. About the time of the Moscow insurrection, Vorobieff’s house was entered by a party of police commanded by an ex-guards officer called Ermoleff. Ermoleff accused Vorobieff of “treating revolutionaries.”

“I am not a politician,” replied the doctor; “I am a physician, a surgeon, and as such I do what I can for whoever is brought to me without regard to political belief.”

“Have you a revolver in the house?” inquired the police officer.

“Yes,” said the doctor, “and I also have a government permit to own it and to carry it.”

“Where is it?” demanded the officer.

“In the drawer of my desk.”

“Get it.”

The doctor turned to obey—and the officer shot him in the back of the head.{252}

“Oh, what have you done,” cried the doctor’s wife as she saw her husband fall.

“Hold your tongue and wipe up that mess on the floor,” retorted the officer as he turned to withdraw his party.

Owing to the outcry that was raised against this wanton murder the officer was arrested, but after a fortnight’s detention he was released.

The most cruel tortures are applied to prisoners in more than one Russian prison, but I think that during my year in the country I learned of no darker deeds than those perpetrated by the chief of the secret police in Warsaw, a man named Victor Green (a literal translation from the Russian). Green became dissatisfied with the number of arrests that were being made in the old Polish capital, so he ordered the arrest of many innocent men and women and then had them tortured to wring from them confessions implicating other people. I heard of his applying the most excruciating torture to young girls as well as to mere boys.

A Russian writer named Vladimeroff went to Warsaw shortly after my visit to investigate the case of a girl of eighteen, concerning whom certain terrible reports were then circulating. The following is a translation of his report on this case:

A young man named Rottkopf, a citizen of Riga, went to visit a friend who lived, as most Russians live in the larger cities, in an apartment-house containing a number of families. Now, most unfortunately for Rottkopf, just before his visit a bomb had been found by the police secreted in one of the flats. Suspicion pointed to Rottkopf’s friend. He was promptly arrested, and as a friend of the suspected man Rottkopf was arrested also.

Rottkopf had a sister, a young girl of eighteen. She, one must remember, had committed no crime. No such charge was brought against her, but she was a sister of a friend of a suspected man,{253} and that was enough for the police. The very evening of her brother’s arrest she went out to drink tea with some friends in company with her younger brother. The police descended upon the house, and she was arrested without even a chance to change her evening clothes or to take linen along. She did not even know why she was imprisoned or of what crime the zealous police suspected her.

She was put in a solitary cell in a secret apartment of the Warsaw citadel. A sentinel was placed within; the cell was bare, with the exception of a stool and a small table. There was no bed. The bare, stone floor was meant for a sleeping-place. The sudden transition from the cheerful company of friends into the severe and gloomy surroundings of the dungeon stunned the girl. She comprehended nothing for quite awhile. She sat in a corner of the cell lost in thought. From this condition she was suddenly awakened by the indifferent voice of the sentinel. “Wake up! You will soon be taken to be tortured.”

Suddenly the cell door opened, the chief inspector entered, said a few words to the guard, and she was led through a number of poorly lit corridors and into a small room, where an oil-lamp was feebly flickering. “Listen attentively, and you will understand!” said the guard rudely as he left the room and bolted the door.

A deathly silence reigned in the room. She tried to catch the least sound, the least motion to discern the least token of life, but all was still as the grave. Suddenly she heard some voices in the adjacent room, and through the thin partition she could distinctly hear all that was spoken there. She felt her heart sink within her, as among many other voices she recognized her brother’s voice. Then there was a sound of a heavy blow, a thud from the falling of a human body, and her brother’s outcry.

Her heart was beating fast. She understood that she was alongside of the torture-chamber, where her brother was brought in to be tortured, and that she was put there in order to be tortured by the pangs and sufferings of her dearly beloved brother.

Then fell in quick succession a number of heavy blows, followed by his desperate outcries. The pain must have been unbearable—he seemed to be gasping for breath. His tormentors did not stop, however, but continued beating him for a long time. The blows fell thick and heavy, and his outcries turned into desperate screams, into wild heartbreaking sounds of one losing his reason under the influence of terrible pain. And the poor girl had to hear it all,{254} and to know that she was powerless to stay the hands of his tormentors.

Finally the cries ceased. Were the hangmen tired, or was her brother dead? Her heart full of anguish, she pressed her ear against the partition in an effort to catch the least sound of his voice. At that moment one of the executioners entered the room and she began begging him to tell her what had become of her brother. Was he alive? Why was he tortured? What for? But it was in vain to expect human feeling in a hangman. Could the suffering of a young girl touch his heart? To her beseeching he replied rudely, laughing: “If you will not inform us all about your brother and the rest of your friends, the same will be done to you. Then you will find out what became of him and whether he is still alive.”

He then ordered her to follow him and she was led back into her former cell, where she was left to pass the night on the bare floor. But she did not close her eyes the whole night. In a dull stupor, thoughtless, motionless, she sat in a corner till morning.

The guard was all the time within, never for a moment leaving her. In the morning some black bread and water was brought to her; no other food through the whole day. But she could not touch a mouthful. As soon as night came on she was again taken into the room where she had been the previous night, and again she had to live through the same horrors of the past night. For many hours of horror she heard almost continually the screams and sobs of her brother. These sobs rent the poor girl’s soul. After her brother’s cries she heard others; she heard the sobs of another man and instinctively recognized the voice of a dear friend, a man whom she knew well and who was very near to her. That was the second night.

The third night she was again taken to listen to the sobs of the tortured; but that night she remembers as a horrible nightmare, which she could not distinguish from reality. She did not hear her brother’s cries any more; others of her friends were being tortured. She felt that she was losing her reason and she wished for death.

The fourth night she was again taken in this room. The chief executioner, organizer, and director of these tortures, Green, came in and proposed that she inform him about her brother and confess all her own crimes.

But what crimes? She had done nothing criminal; she is still so young; she knows nothing criminal either of her brother or of her other friends. What could she confess?{255}

Upon getting her negative answer she was led into the adjacent room, from which those screams had come forth the preceding nights. It was a small room with two windows. In the center stood a table; on it were wooden and rubber canes. There was a gendarme officer, Ivanoff, with ten secret-police agents. Many held canes in their hands. The young girl was seized and put flat on the table, face down, four of the detectives grabbed her hands and feet, and the others that were armed with canes began to beat her at the command of Officer Ivanoff. The blows fell heavily, striking over the head, back, and legs.

She was beaten till she nearly lost consciousness, but not a sound escaped her. Getting tired in their monstrous work, the executioners stopped when she became motionless. She looked like a corpse with eyes closed, lips pressed tightly together, not a muscle moving. Nothing betrayed signs of life. She was in a deep faint.

Green ordered some cold water to be sprinkled on her, and she began to come to. She was then given a glass of cold water and told to confess and tell about her brother.

“But, for the sake of Christ, what shall I confess? I have done nothing criminal, I am not guilty of anything,” feebly murmured the girl.

And in answer to that came the command of the officer: “Give it to her, boys; give it to her!”

And they resumed their diabolic work.

In moments when the pain was terrible she would scream aloud. At times she would bite the edge of the wooden table, pressing her teeth hard together in the effort not to cry out. The pains were awful. The executioners had turned into cruel beasts, as if they were wild animals instead of human beings possessing heart and soul.

That night she was beaten till dawn, with interruptions, as she fainted frequently. Every time she regained consciousness the same question was put to her by the officer—whether she was willing to confess—and every time that he got her negative answer he became more furious.

At dawn she was carried into her cell and dropped on the floor in a semi-conscious condition. During the day she regained consciousness. Every part of her body ached, she could not bend her joints. The bruised parts became pitifully swollen, the red and blue marks began to fester, making the slightest motion very painful.

The next night she was again carried into the torture-room and{256} stretched out on the table. The executioners were already at their posts awaiting their victim. The subordinate officer Ivanoff repeated the question, and, getting no answer, ordered his men to strike her, exclaiming in his rage that he would make that obstinate girl confess all.

Then Green gave orders to pinch her naked body in the contused spots, which was especially painful because of the festering and swelling.

She could not stand the pain any longer and her wild cries filled the room. The almost unbearable agony seemed to rob her of her senses. Other executioners were in the meanwhile striking her with canes over her head, her abdomen, the fingers, and toes.

The blows caused blood to ooze out through the skin in some places, and her shirt was stained with it. Some of her teeth were knocked out by blows over her face, and tufts of hair were pulled out by blows on the head, causing indescribable pain.

That lasted the whole night long.

The third night she was again taken into the torture-room, as she stubbornly refused to calumniate anybody. And she was beaten as on the previous nights. Then Green bethought himself of new ways of torture and ordered the eleven men to surround the prostrate girl and beat her over the abdomen. The blows then rained fast but not very hard on the abdomen exclusively. This immediately caused her to vomit....

On the fourth night she was also beaten. She was weak and faint; it seemed to her that she was dying. Had she not been a girl with a splendid constitution she could never have lived through this long-continued torture. The blows were raining fast; the fiends pinched her and pulled her hair. Suddenly Green ordered his men to stop, and for a few minutes she was left to lie quietly on the table. Then she was dragged on the floor and put on her back. Her executioners began kicking her with their boots. They stamped on her chest, on her abdomen; they trampled on her face. She bled from the mouth. She did not cry out; she had no more strength; she seemed silently dying.

. . . . . .

In this condition she was taken back into her cell and the prison feldsher (nurse and orderly) was called to her. Her face presented a shapeless mass of red and blue bruises. The eyes were closed by an enormous swelling; the cheeks, chin, and mouth were a big bruised mass.... For two months she hovered between life and{257} death, but youth conquered, and she slowly began to recover. At the end of two months she began to walk a little. All this time no one was admitted to her, as the government was afraid to let her relatives see her in the condition she was in. That was to be kept a secret, not to escape from the prison walls into the outer world, so it would not cause any stir, as did Spiradonova’s case.

An acquaintance of the writer’s met her after six months had elapsed, in a northern prison, where she had been taken when she began to walk a little. This acquaintance gave his impression of her. At the first moment he thought that she was an elderly woman with an enormously large face of indefinitely outlined features. The face was pale except where covered with red and bluish spots.

But her eyes—her eyes spoke for themselves. Looking into them, he was dumbfounded—there was so much suffering, so much sadness in those eyes! He understood that this old woman must have lived through some great calamity in life, something enormous, some disaster that is beyond human endurance. He tried to engage her in conversation.

He learned then what this seemingly elderly woman had gone through. She was aged not by years, but by unbelievable tortures. She is not an elderly woman, but a young, beautiful girl who has been maimed and broken by suffering. She told with tears in her eyes that her brother was shot after being tortured, without having gone through any form of trial, solely upon the behest of Governor-general Scallon.

A few months after this Victor Green was assassinated. If there were any tribunal in Russia to whom appeal against an official of this stamp could be carried, the so-called terrorist would never have been called into existence. In America I frequently have it said to me: “The{258} Russian revolutionists who are guilty of murder and assassination do more than anything else to injure the cause of liberty in their country. Their deeds are veritably the sowing of dragon’s teeth of hate and murder.”

But fairly—on the testimony—who sows the dragon’s teeth? Is it the man who checks the career of a monstrous creature like Green? Is it the murderous official himself? Or is it the government and the police and other officials of the Czar?


Pasha was taken one afternoon in July. Her family had persuaded her to go abroad for the summer, so with her mother she started for Switzerland. They traveled to St. Petersburg from Moscow and were to take the Berlin train late one afternoon. About two o’clock that afternoon Pasha ran over to the office of a certain newspaper to bid a friend good-by. Suddenly the police appeared, the office was surrounded, and every one who chanced to be there at the time was marched off to prison. The mother awaited the return of her daughter with impatience that soon became alarm. Train-time came and passed. About dusk a party of gendarmes appeared at the house where they had been stopping and informed madame of Pasha’s arrest. Then they ransacked the house. The only evidence found was a copy of my notes on my interview with Marie Spiradonova, which Pasha had borrowed. Incidentally, during the course of the search, Pasha’s gold watch and chain, which had been lying on the bureau, disappeared.

While there were really serious charges against Pasha, these were all registered against her conspirative name, consequently no definite charge of any kind was known against her at the time of this arrest. Merely on the strength of her having been in the newspaper office she{259} was kept “on suspicion.” Later developments in her case are not germane to the moment. She was put into a cell with a number of other women to await trial. One Sunday afternoon an incident occurred in this cell which aroused wide interest, and Pasha, knowing that I would want an accurate account of the affair, managed to write and have smuggled out to me a graphic letter. The only necessary word of explanation concerns the time-worn custom observed in Russian prisons of allowing political prisoners to receive donations of food one day a week from their friends, which recipients share with their less fortunate comrades. In the particular prison where Pasha was incarcerated there was a group of men politicals in a room directly over the women. When the women were ready to divide their contributions with the men they generally rapped on the ceiling with a broom or mop-handle, and the men would drop a cord out of their window so that it would dangle in front of one of the windows of the women’s room. Pasha’s account of what is now known as the Semonova tragedy (Semonova being the name of one of the other women confined in the prison) is as follows [I give her own words]:

On Sunday after six o’clock Semonova came to the center window. She tapped on the ceiling with the mop-stick for the men of the room above to drop the string—the telephone—they called it. The package with tea, sugar, and tobacco was on the window-sill. Some women were standing near Semonova, others, I among them, were sitting at the table, drinking tea. One was walking up and down. We were sixteen in the room, which made it very crowded. I saw the string drop and several hands go through the bars to hold it, but the winds blow it from them and then suddenly it was jerked up. Semonova sat sideways on the window sill, her left side toward the window, and her left hand supported her head. She seemed to be waiting for the telephone to be dropped{260} for the second time. A few seconds later a shot rang out. I saw a small puff of yellow smoke. Semonova’s head dropped strangely. My heart stood still. “Can it be!” but I saw that the group at the window moved and no one seemed wounded. I ran to them in the hope that I was mistaken. Meanwhile one who was standing near her took Semonova and laid her down on the floor with the words “She is killed.”

One of the prisoners who was a feldsher felt her pulse, but with a gesture of hopelessness turned aside. Semonova’s eyes were glazed and blood flowed from her head. I could not desert her. It seemed to me she still felt and I could not leave her alone.

A general uproar arose in the room and the women cried and shrieked “Doctor! Doctor!” Then the room suddenly became empty. Some one poured water on Semonova’s head. A feldsher came in, examined her, and said: “Her skull is fractured.” We lifted her up and placed her on a cot. I did not believe her dead and thought she still suffered.

When the doctor came he said death had been instantaneous. The bullet entered the left temple and came out through the forehead, because she had been sitting with her head a little bent, leaning it on her left hand. Her back had been turned to the soldier who was pointing at her.

When I saw she was dead I went to the window and cried to the soldier: “Murderer! You have killed a human being!” He pointed at me, but I jumped back before he had time to fire. The same thing happened to the others who attempted to approach the window. We ran to the gate which acted as a door between our room and the hallway and behind which were amassed a pack of overseers and cried: “Murderers, will you shoot us all?” One of them with an impudent laugh said: “Well, why did she sit on the window-sill?”

Later some one, I don’t know who, said that the soldier had received the order “not to shoot any more.”

I learned from others what happened outside of the rooms. The women ran to the gate with cries of “doctor.” A woman overseer opened it because, it seems, she was so bewildered she could not realize what had happened. All ran out into the corridor. There they met the prison director, who was going to our room. A comrade ran up to him and began beating his face with her fists. He was so bewildered that all he could do was to say: “I am not guilty. I gave no orders to shoot,” and went back and did not come again to our room. All the officials who came later were without{261} him. The comrade who beat the director was taken by force to the hospital. Later she was allowed back.

Our first demand was that Semonova’s brother should know what had happened. We gave them his address, but we knew later they did not do it. We asserted that without her brother and without the court officials we would not give up the body, and we waited for the coroner and procuror. The prison inspector came, but went away soon. We were seventeen besides the dead in the room now because two from the hospital had come also. The overseers wanted to drag them back.

Imagine a large, high room, lighted by one lamp. On the cot the body with bloody head and glazed eyes covered with a sheet. Near the cot, on the floor where she had been lying, was a pool of blood. Many of us had blood on our hands and dresses. Some were annoyed by the light and the lamp was covered by a piece of dark cloth, then others were afraid of the darkness and after sitting some time in a dark corner would lose consciousness. Hysterical cries, long faintings, hallucinations—all we lived through that night....

The table was covered with bromo, Hoffman drops, ice-bags, ammonia, etc. We called the doctor every minute. We were afraid it would not end with one death only. After some hours they cleared a little room in the hospital and the weakest of us were brought there. At last, about eleven o’clock, the judge of the court and procuror came. While the judge and the doctor were examining the wound, we told the procuror that the brother had not yet been notified. “But I can do it,” he said. After the prison procuror came he said he would leave it to him and he sneaked away—because a talk with a dozen outraged and fury-like women could not have been agreeable to any one. You should have seen these “gentlemen” placed there in our cage and forced to hear epithets far from flattering which were addressed against them and the prison director. Of course any other time we would have had to pay for this, but in sight of the body which was still warm they could not bring themselves to call in the overseer and use force.

The procuror told me that all the details noted by the judge of inquiry would be handed over to the military procuror, because the murderer was a soldier. When the judge of inquiry left, the prison procuror and prison inspector remained. They told us that the body would be taken by the police to be buried. We replied that we would give it up only to her brother. We received the answer that that was impossible....{262}

The procuror promised to influence the police to let the brother know before the burial and that the brother would be allowed to see one of us so that we might be assured that he was at the funeral. However he seemed frightened of his last promise and he said: “I will come myself to you and I will tell you about everything. You surely believe me.”

“We don’t believe you at all and we demand to see the brother.”

They were forced to consent and one of us was promised to see him.

A bier was brought. We put her on it ourselves and carried her out along the corridor. We wanted to keep her as long as possible from their unclean hands. Some one proposed to sing the funeral march, but our hearts were too heavy. Quietly, quietly we carried her through the corridor, then down-stairs, and there we put her in her coffin. There were packs of overseers in the upper and lower corridors. The scoundrels were waiting for a “disturbance.” They could not understand that that was far from our hearts. Through the open doorway we saw the police waiting for the coffin. There, too, the ugly face of the prison director hiding from us flashed by....

It was about one o’clock at night. We came back to the same room where all that remained of her was a pool of blood. We became terribly depressed as if we had behaved badly toward her to give her up without a fight. And no one will know where her grave will be, for we could not believe their promises. However, the next day one of us was called to see the brother. Expecting a lie, she asked him from where he comes, for she knew from Semonova where her birthplace was. He answered correctly. Then she told him the details of the shooting.

“You can’t expect justice from them,” he replied. However he promised to talk with a lawyer about the case.

He said that about ten o’clock in the morning he was told to go to the police-station. There they told him to go to the monastery of the Alexander Nevski. He called for a girl friend of his sister’s to go along with him. They were hardly given time to take leave of his sister. He came about ten minutes before the interment. There was an order from the chief of police—“to hurry with the funeral.” At the funeral was a police captain, a sergeant, a gendarme, the brother, and the girl’s friend.

We brought to the notice of the procuror:

1. That the administration knew for a long time about the existence of the telephone and had never objected. And when we dis{263}obeyed a rule of the administration, we were always punished. As, for instance, for singing we were deprived of seeing visitors and receiving things from them.

2. That at the time of the shooting she was sitting still, which gave the soldier an opportunity to make a good shot.

3. That he shot into a crowded room, and it was a miracle that others were not killed also.

To the last statement the procuror interposed: “What might have happened has no importance.” Altogether he was impossible....

To our demand to give a definite promise that the appointment with the brother would be given he answered prudently: “If nothing particular will interfere.”

“That means”—

“That means if he won’t be arrested before. We are all in the hands of God.”

“Do you mean because they killed the sister, you will arrest the brother?”

“You did not understand me. I was only speaking of a possibility. I was presupposing. Why do you insist on misunderstanding me?”

We came to such a good understanding that next day the brother was still free.

A considerable uproar followed this incident. St. Petersburg newspapers clamored for the court-martial of the soldier who had fired the shot. The man was eventually tried—and acquitted. Then the newspapers, echoing public sentiment, declared that the trial was a farce. The matter was not allowed to drop out of sight.

One day the regiment to which the soldier belonged was ordered out on parade and this man’s name was called. The letter was then read from the Czar, announcing that the soldier be rewarded with ten rubles, or five dollars, for having so nobly done his duty!

This closed the incident.

Governmental terrorism exists throughout the whole gamut of the Russian bureaucracy. Petty police and gendarme officers plan and execute massacres; soldiers are called upon to stand one side, or to assist in the{264} slaughter. Knowledge of these massacres is often known in advance in St. Petersburg and sometimes they are actually arranged in the offices of the central administration.[15]

Premier Stolypin with his field courts-martial (described in detail in another chapter) has shown himself no more of a humanitarian than Trepoff, and in the Semonova incident the Czar revealed to the world his intimate familiarity with small incidents.

I have no sympathy whatever with the belief that the Czar does not know what his ministers and officials are doing. If there are details that do not reach him, he alone is at fault. The present Emperor is a traditional autocrat. It is my conviction that he acquiesces in, if he does not instigate, massacre and occasional assassination. However much one may deplore terrorism—white or red—one thing stands out clear and true to my mind, namely, the burden of responsibility lies not with the terrorists of the revolution—their acts are human if to be deplored—but rather with the infinitely more heinous assassins of the government—who are distinctly inhuman—and most of all upon him who is the ultimate head of the whole governmental terroristic organization, the arch assassin who, by a word, could end for all time massacre and murder in the Russian empire—Czar Nicholas II.{265}



Seething Poland—Governmental lawlessness—Overwhelming little Poland by sheer force of numbers—Twice over the Polish frontier—A panic of Warsaw Jews—Russian oppression—A nervous populace—Campaign to exterminate Warsaw police—Hopeless plight of latter—A pathetic incident—Where poverty stalks—Effect of era of misery and chaos upon Warsovians—Traffic in white slaves—Daily occurrences—A Warsaw hospital—Chiaroscuro in the Polish capital—Parties of Poland—Poles traditional revolutionists—Hope and optimism temperamental characteristics of the Polish people.

DURING the early summer I entered Poland twice; once from Russia, from Bielostok in Grodno; once from the Austrian frontier. Both occasions were memorable, because each in its own way was typical of the condition of Poland. Bielostok was still dripping with Jewish blood spilled by the treacherous authorities. Just outside of the town the railroad crosses a narrow stream. In a field bordering the stream a large contingent of soldiers were encamped, giving it the appearance of the outskirts of an army. The bridge was guarded not by sentinels merely, but by a guard of fighting strength. Near the railroad station on sidings were several military trains, freight vans converted into barracks. A company of one hundred men held the station—as if the remaining, panic-stricken Jews were in danger of rising up and storming the troops of the Emperor. But Russia{266} needs to maintain this show of force. From this point clear across the strip of territory called Poland troops were ever in evidence.

My other entrée was from Austria, a little later, during a panic of the Warsaw Jews. A Russian religious holiday was approaching. Sundays and church days have long been notorious massacre days in Russia, and the Jews dread them as a plague. The celebration of the Day of Peter and Paul was to be signalized by a massacre of Warsaw Jews, current gossip said. The report spread, and gained in credence. The day before the holiday forty thousand Jews fled the city. I crossed the frontier at Granica at midnight—was tumbled from a train into a broad customs inspection-room, where every traveler’s baggage was closely overhauled and all arms, tobacco, and forbidden literature confiscated, then on to Warsaw where the spirit of unrest seemed to have possessed not only Jews but every human being. Not that life is any the less gay in the Polish capital, for here the music of song and dance is always in the air, but the nerves of the populace are on edge—quivering. I stepped out of a shop one day just as a stalwart soldier was passing by. He caught sight of a small camera under my arm and jumped, startled, as a woman by a mouse. Warsovians warned me not to go about the streets alone even in broad daylight, so many casualties were daily reported. The ever-present Cossack with his terrible nagaika—that barbarous lash-whip, tipped with lead—was on every hand. Hospitals were crowded with injured and “pogromed.” Prisons were crowded; fortresses were full, and the police were guarded by soldiers. There were daily cases of mob violence. On every hand evidence of military law—and on every hand evidence of internal chaos.{267}

If the Caucasus offers the most intricate and difficult problem of administration in all the Russian empire, Poland presents a situation almost as troubled and quite as hopeless of immediate adjustment.

Poland from border to border seethes with unrest and bitter hatred; there more nearly than anywhere else in Europe is a situation approaching the chaotic. Russia appreciates how desperate is her hold on Poland and as a safety measure martial law is maintained universally and continuously.

“Martial law” is a means for legitimatizing utter lawlessness on the part of the military and police authorities, excusing the indiscriminate use of bayonets and bullets. The example thus ingloriously set by the officials is all too quickly followed by the people who have thrown to the four winds all respect for law and discipline and restraint and the battle is waged on “a fight as fight can” basis. Bloodshed, riot, assassination, robbery, and crimes unlisted are part of each day’s work. Ever since “bloody Sunday” in January, 1905, not one night of peace has visited this wretched country that for so many decades was the source of contention of half of Europe’s greatest powers. Just as the slaughter of Father Gapon’s working-men in St. Petersburg was the signal to all Russia to rise, so Poland also responded to that signal at that time. With firm, deliberate intention she then entered upon a period of sanguinary revolution which rages as fiercely to-day as it has at any time since that fatal Sunday. Russia, appreciating the universality of this aggressive attitude, put an army of nearly 300,000 men into the country. Approximately 200,000 of these were soldiers and 100,000 administrative officials—all Russians—bitterly hating the Poles, who in their turn hold dislike for official Russians, second only in keenness{268} to their dislike for the Germans, whom they also fear. On the other hand, between the labor parties of each country is a strong friendship, for, in official Russia, the workingmen of Poland, as well as the rank and file of Russia itself, appreciate a common enemy.

Not only from hereditary wrongs does Poland suffer, but from present oppression. The iron yoke of Russia presses heavily, and every one in Poland is in desperate rebellion, including the children, who refuse to go to school until the Polish language is substituted for the Russian, and the university students, who are shut out of their university because of the tyranny and cowardice of a government that only sees revolution in education. Small wonder, then, that over half of the population of Poland can neither read nor write, and that the proportion of schools is decreasing rather than increasing. The attitude of Russia toward Poland is that of suppression—not of rational administration. Of what interest is it to Russia if Polish children do not go to school? The salaries of teachers are at least saved. Warsaw has 60,000 school-less children—growing up in darkness, nurtured only by a blind hatred of the people whose flag floats over their city. The amount of money spent on education in Poland amounts to twelve cents per child, as compared to $2.30 per child in Berlin.

Poland’s population is approximately 10,000,000. Nearly two thirds are agriculturists. More than one half of this number have either no land at all, of their own, or next to none, at best an insufficient amount to afford them a livelihood. Industry has been demoralized and disorganized to such an extent that wages have remained stationary for a decade while the cost of living has doubled—and this in the face of an increasing population. The Poles are so fiercely nationalistic. The people{270}{269}

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An infantry patrol. Warsaw

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Three soldiers to guard each policeman. Warsaw


of Finland have been submerged much as the people of Poland have been, but with a very different effect. The population of Finland is rapidly decreasing. All of her young men are going abroad—to England, to America. Not so in Poland. In spite of an emigration to America of nearly 50,000 in one year, Poland’s population is on the increase. Poland’s young men stay—to fight, to starve, to suffer inquisitorial tortures in Russian prisons.

One striking example of the warfare waged in Poland against the Russian administration was the campaign of extermination inaugurated against the police of Warsaw while I was in the city. Thirty-four officers and one hundred and forty policemen were killed within a few weeks—all in broad daylight on the public streets. Twenty-seven were shot within three days. In the proletariat suburb of Wola there were, originally, thirty-seven policemen. Twenty-seven of these were shot to death and ten seriously wounded. The most extraordinary part of this unusual campaign is that not one culprit was caught.

In America the police would long ago have taken shelter from such deadly attacks. It is only natural that panic should possess the remaining members of the police force in Poland’s olden capital. Some did escape, but most found themselves in a veritable trap, from which they could not escape. Without a passport no traveler may find a place to rest his head at night in Russia—much less a refugee policeman. Without a passport the frontier looms like a great, impassable Chinese wall. A single man might escape by stealth in the night, but even policemen sometimes have scruples about deserting their wives and families. And so these unwilling martyrs continued their nerve-racking but senseless patrol of Warsaw streets. Senseless because troops pos{272}sessed each avenue and alley. According to the most reliable estimates there were at least 75,000 troops quartered in the city at that time. In justice to the military it should be said that they did their utmost for the long suffering police, for each and every policeman who was then left had a military guard of three infantrymen. One of the grim humors of the revolution was to see an ordinary policeman going to his post of duty with two soldiers following at ten paces to the rear with loaded rifles and fixed bayonets. Then, when he took up his position of duty in the center of the two intersecting streets, two soldiers remained at one corner and a third at an opposite corner. For this inglorious service the Russian government generously paid these luckless men six dollars a month!

This reign of terror directed against the police department was by no means the only evidence of turmoil and unrest in Warsaw. On every hand were indications of a terrible blight. Beggardom here was at its worst. Not beggardom as we know it, but infinitely worse. Public charities, private philanthropies, day nurseries, diet kitchens, and settlements are not known in Poland. The streets were literally lined with the lame, the halt, the blind, the sick, the starving. I was accosted by twenty odd during the course of a short walk from a boulevard café to my hotel one night. Once I came upon a woman who had sunk to the pavement from weariness—or hunger. She pressed a rude bundle under her shawl. A dwornik (janitor) was sternly though not unkindly bidding her rise up and move on. Her dress was in rags. Her feet were bare. The old gray shawl round her shoulders was the only trace of comfort. A passerby extended a hand and helped her to her feet. She staggered on and we saw that the bundle she held was a very{273} young baby, and as the electric light fell upon her face we realized her youth. Seventeen, perhaps, or eighteen at most. This at past eleven o’clock. At that moment from the café on the corner came the lively strains of “The Belle of New York.” Up and down the boulevard as far as eye could reach were women—girls of thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, girls not beyond their teens yet old in features, mature women, oldish, faded women—women, women, women. An endless, ceaseless procession. It swells at twilight and diminishes toward dawn, but ends never. But these are not like the beggar-women—yet. Pure statistical tables arranged like a page from a census report of the sights and scenes of one night in Warsaw would appear absolutely incredible to unfamiliar eyes. It is almost melodramatic in its seeming unreality. For in spite of the squalor and the misery and the scenes, both revolting and pitiful, there is a fascination about Warsaw, a laughing, careless air that is ever present. Sunshine and shadow chase each other through Warsaw streets; and sunshine and shadow have entered into the temperament of the people. This duality is characteristic of both.

On first acquaintance Warsaw seems not unlike Paris. A smiling city of long avenues and pleasant streets and shaded boulevards brightened at night by brilliant cafés. The warm summer nights are none the less delightful because martial law prevails. Music is everywhere; these fiery, temperamental people, how they play! The very abandon and nonchalance of the Warsovians is in itself an added charm.

There is no repudiating the situation. The streets swarm with soldiers recently returned from an ignominious war, in which they never had an interest—released to starve upon the streets. War is not the root-{274}evil, but the war was largely responsible for the situation here so far as the beggary is concerned. With so large a portion of the able-bodied men of the country called away on unproductive campaigns of destruction, the women and children were forced to fight the wolf themselves. Warsaw’s traffic in prostitutes is as extensive as it is world-wide. The total population of the city is 750,000. The number of professional prostitutes, carrying “yellow passports” (i.e., passports issued by the authorities to prostitutes), in the city is between fifty and sixty thousand. It is asserted on reliable authority that there are regularly organized companies dealing in young girls, who supply not only Europe, but distant places, like South American capitals. Piccadilly and Regent Street, in London, which so frequently horrify Americans, are as nothing compared to Warsaw’s boulevards.

More than this, business was at a standstill and industry disorganized and deteriorating. Strike following strike in the trades necessity supports. One week the bakers were trying to get enough of the bread of their own baking to fill the mouths of their children. Another week the men of some other trade, but ever and always somewhere the hopeless, heartbreaking struggle was on. Violence is an instinct with the Poles. A few of the bakers stuck to their ovens. The result was that the early nights of the week were characterized by riots, usually suppressed by a volley from Cossacks’ rifles. The day I arrived in Warsaw there were twenty-five reported clashes between the authorities and the people. The following day there were thirty. For weeks before the hospital ambulances had been called out on an average of thirty times a day for casualties resulting from lawlessness—either on the part of the people or of the authorities, for no one is guiltless here.{275}

The wounded from a recent Jewish massacre were in a hospital on the outskirts of the city. Driving to visit the place I inquired at my hotel how much I should pay a cab-driver to take me there. “Must you go, sir?” said the hotel porter. “Do not go, sir, if it is possible to avoid doing so.”

“Why?” I asked in surprise.

“It is a dangerous road.”

“But at ten o’clock in the morning?”

“A man was killed there yesterday afternoon in daylight. Many have been shot there recently.”

The hospital was located three quarters of an hour’s drive from the center of the city, in a district which somewhat suggested the Bowery, but more closely resembling Commercial Road in Whitechapel.

On the way I met cavalry patrol after patrol—Cossacks and dragoons. All rode in “open order.” That is to say, two abreast in the center of the road, then one at either side of the road, and so on. This was the current precaution against bombs. Rifles were unslung and held in the right hand ready for instant action. The advance guard of an army scouting a battle-ground for the enemy would take no greater precautions. A few days before there had been a fusilade directly in front of the hospital. No one knew exactly what started it, but members of two political parties had begun dueling in the open street. The matter was reported to military headquarters and a special troop of Cossacks detailed to the scene. They arrived one hour after the incident, but having been sent out to do something and not knowing what else to do they fired several volleys at the hospital, breaking a few windows, but fortunately doing no other damage.

What with the injured from Warsaw riots and the{276} wounded from the massacre, this hospital, except for the women and children who lay there, punctured by bullets and slashed by swords and bayonets, was not unlike an army hospital. I found a child of four years whose leg had been broken by a soldier’s rifle. According to a young girl who was very bright and intelligent, she and the youngster of four and a young boy were standing together on the doorstep of their home. A company of soldiers were coming up the street on their mission of murder and horrors unmentionable, when one of them deliberately fired at the trio. The bullet struck the boy first, killing him, then the child’s leg, breaking it, and glanced upward, lodging in the girl’s stomach.[16] To say that these were “dangerous” persons to the Russian government is the absolute extreme of absurdity.

Even the children have the spirit of revolt. One day every school in Warsaw was pupil-less. The children had struck. Being Polish children they objected to doing their lessons in Russian. But the Russian government forbade the use of any other tongue. So the children left the schools en masse. Parents were powerless to coerce attendance. The Russian government could not turn the military upon school-boys and girls, and so it compromised. Permission was granted for the use of Polish in private schools. Whereupon the children entered private schools. To-day, in Warsaw, the private schools are taxed to their utmost capacity, while empty benches and deserted playgrounds are found in the public schools.

When a general strike is declared in Russia Warsaw responds with a bound. So perfect is the organization that every railroad, postal or telegraph strike that is declared in Russia is most effectually carried out in Poland.{277} When the Warsovians declare a program they carry it out. As witness, the destruction of the police force. They destroy the rank and file, and incidentally pick off the top as well. The chief of police was blown up as a matter of course.

The Poles are inherently violent. The same spirit which makes them capable of great artistic achievements makes them demoniacal when goaded beyond endurance.

To-day Warsaw prisons are full. Politicals even crowd the fortresses. And one hears awful stories on every hand and from every conceivable source of the torturing of prisoners. One method of extracting information said to be commonly resorted to is to suspend prisoners by their wrists and beat them alternately back and front until their stomachs turn. Another is pulling out their hair, and their teeth; starvation, giving them food but no drink; preventing their sleeping. All of these things I have heard of from reliable people. More terrible tortures I refrain from staining this page with by even mentioning.

Never morning wears to evening but blood is spilled in Warsaw. Never a lull between twilight and dawn but some hellish thought finds expression in deed. The clatter of cavalry patrols rings over the stony streets every hour of the twenty-four. The swish of the cruel nagaika in the hands of the relentless Cossacks attends each trifling disturbance. Sentinels finger their rifles at intervals only of yards—rifles, bayonet-pointed, always ready. And yet—Warsaw is fair to see, with its public buildings, small parks, dashes of fresh green here and there—even flowers, richly blooming beds that scent the warm air and seem to bring a breath of the open into the town. Flower-girls, too, children with daisies, and roses,{278} and pinks; a boutonnière for m’sieur, a bright nosegay for milady. Quite a feature of the city indeed. And always the music. The violin, the ’cello, the piano. The weird and intense music of Poland alternating with the flippant, laughing melodies that America sends abroad. Typically Warsovian, all this. The beautiful, the careless, the jaunty ever to the fore. And underneath, the dire, the grim, the intense. Like an animal that fixes its teeth in a death-grip in the throat of its antagonist, so the Poles of Warsaw have set their teeth toward the heart of Russian despotism. There will be no letting go—no truce—one or the other will go under.

Without a single great leader (Russia watches too closely for one to rise), without definite ideals, wild, passionate, desperate, the Poles naturally do not all work through the same channels. They split into factions and parties, each striving for Russia’s overthrow, or Poland’s advancement, but each in its own way. Consequently party clashes engender bitterness and hatred within. The parties of Poland are as numerous as the tongues heard at Babel. Not all equally strong, but several there are of large influence—each pledged to one definite object, and if all were ultimately to succeed, the result would be the regeneration of Poland through extinction were it not for their saving policy of uniting in time of great crises, magnanimously putting aside party differences for the salvation of the whole people. Yet their methods for the time are party methods and the situation in all its strange phases is only explained through an analysis of the more important parties and influential political organization.

The Jewish Socialist Bund is the most widely known, and perhaps the most powerful of these organizations, though not numerically the largest. Nor is the Bund a{279}

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“Bomb order”



strictly Polish organization. It extends into the Baltic provinces, and through those parts to south Russia which are included in the Jewish pale. But in Poland is its center, and in Poland is it most active. It is the fighting organization of the Jews. It aims to combat Jewish persecution in every way—politically, pacifically, terroristically, and from behind barricades when opportunity offers. This is a striking development, for traditionally the Jews are not a fighting people. Accustomed to centuries of persecution they have learned to meekly bow to the blows showered upon their heads—or to flee. It is only during the more recent years of the Russian revolution that the Jews have produced active rebels in formidable numbers. The Russian terrorists now number many Jews, and the Bund counts thousands of members, hundreds of whom are ready to perform terroristic acts when occasion demands. So powerfully menacing has this organization become that Austria and Germany both fear of its spreading across the frontier and of leaguing the young Jewish men and women of those countries into active Jewish defense organization. If this does happen, Austria and Germany may blame the blind, vicious government of Russia—none other. Fifty years ago a series of so-called “temporary” laws were enacted in Russia applicable to Jews—laws destined to arouse the very spirit of revolt which has culminated in the Bund.[17]

The Nationalist party is numerically the strongest in Poland. First, because it was in opposition to the Duma. It appreciates that Poland’s plight has no connection with Russia’s internal difficulties, so the Nationalist party opposed the first Duma on principle—simply because it was Russian. This was the clerical party, the Jesuitical{282} party, for Poland continues to be Roman Catholic. The nationalists seek to establish the Polish language throughout the country and to gain a Polish administration. Being under clerical influences the Nationalist party is anti-Semitic.

Then follow two middle-class, bourgeois parties, each of considerable strength. The National Democratic party, and the Progressive Democratic party. The National Democrats are opportunists. The present régime is to them intolerable. Any kind of a change they hope will improve the situation. A party of despair, without ideals, but with some energy to continue fighting—for anything. The Progressive Democrats, on the other hand, represent the intelligenzia. They challenge comparison with the liberals of France and the free-thinkers of Germany. Distinctly a radical, if not a revolutionary group, they work for the autonomy of Poland under a Russian federation. They have some thought for the economic progress of the country, and are not unfriendly to the Jews. They want free schools, and universal suffrage.

The public schools in Poland under Russia, as if not heavily enough saddled with impositions and restrictions, are heavily taxed. A Polish child to attend a public school must study in a language not his mother tongue, must learn from a teacher who is a foreigner—to him—and who is utterly unsympathetic—and for these and adjunct privileges the Russian government exacts from each child fifty rubles ($25) per year.

There are all degrees of socialists in Poland. If all of the socialist parties in Poland were to combine there would be formed a party of such overwhelming strength that it would sweep all the others along with it. But socialism without factions would not be recognized by its{283} best friends. The Bund is socialistic and entirely Jewish. The Christian Socialists are socialists but anti-Semitic. This latter organization is made up of a more or less dilettante element, kid-gloved radicals, tailor-made revolutionists.

To offset the Christian socialists are the realists. Formerly this was the great reactionary party but of late it has become the party of the landed proprietors. Not a formidable organization, yet the one monarchical conservative voice, crying in the wilderness of radicalism.

The labor movement in Poland, while a long way in advance of Russia, is yet leagues behind Europe. Still, the labor party nucleus are a grim lot, and they have it within their power to more completely paralyze all Poland for a limited time than any other party or organization. There are more than 300,000 factory or mine-workers in Poland, and as they have learned from their repeated experiences, the general strike is a most effective weapon. When not a factory-wheel turns; when the mines are left to flood; when the railroad lines are exposed to rust, and telegraph and telephone wires stretch useless across the miles of unhappy country, every human being in Poland feels the strain and stress. Europe takes fright and St. Petersburg cowers in panic. Three times has this taken place and each time with a similar result. So much for the labor party and its method of revolt.

There remains one large party. This is the party whose efforts are above all others propagandistic. The Polish Party Socialist, the “P. P. S.” as it is commonly called. If heredity counts in the abstract realm of politics this party should be the socialist party of Poland. It is the direct descendant of the first socialist organization established in Poland in 1875. Now, as then, social{284}ism progresses by stealth. To admit that one holds socialistic opinions is to commit oneself to prison. In its earliest beginnings it was purely intellectual, but in the eighties it spread to the proletariat. Marxist doctrines were the regularly accepted gospel of these socialists. With the growth of nihilism in Russia, Polish socialism came to absorb something of the policy of violence and even the terrorism it still maintains. The P. P. S. as it exists to-day was definitely organized thirteen years ago. Twelve years ago it undertook the printing and circulating of a newspaper. At the outset this paper appeared only occasionally. But as its circle of readers extended it was published more regularly. Now it is a daily. This record represents one of the most remarkable “underground” achievements in Russia, for the police have never been able to discover it, or to suppress it, though to be found with a copy of it on one’s person means arrest. In spite of this it is one of the easiest papers to procure in Warsaw. Boys sell it stealthily on the streets. I asked a hotel porter where I could get a copy, and he promptly took one from his inside pocket and gave it to me. During the past year several hundred people have been arrested for no other offense than reading this paper. It is called Robotnik—“Laborer.”

The Polish Party Socialist, besides promulgating and propagating German socialist doctrines, works for the decentralization of the Russian empire. A United States of Russia, with state control and autonomy for Poland. The prime differences between this party and the Social Democrats—the powerful Russian proletariat organization—is that the latter demand an out-and-out republic, modeled on France.

And against all of these parties is Russia struggling in{285} her frantic effort to hold Poland subject. It is commonly supposed that the conquest of the Caucasus which has been going on for a generation was without a parallel in the Russian empire. But in Poland the situation is equally grim. Poland carries Russia’s yoke because coerced by merciless force. But never for a day is the fight regarded as finished.

The idea of revolution is more universally understood in Poland than in Russia. The Russian peasants want “land and liberty.” The Russian proletariat want a reorganized industrial life. The Poles want freedom from Russian oppression—freedom to worship God in their own way. To-day there are several hundred thousand legally illegitimate children in Poland because the parents were united according to the rites of the Roman Catholic Church instead of by the Greek Church, as stipulated by intolerant Russia. They want freedom to choose teachers for their young who are of their own blood and who speak their own tongue. They want freedom to select their own administrative officials, and to make their own laws. And for all these things they are actively and openly fighting. They do not expect to win them by a single coup. They are resigned to a prolonged fight. The people of Poland remember that the French Revolution lasted twenty years and the Austrian uprising of ’48 almost equally long. They understand that the progress of revolutions is like unto the onward roll of the sea—a succession of waves. The sea of revolution has washed completely over Poland and now the waves are mounting higher and higher. There are moments of quiet and apparent retreat, but these are growing fewer and briefer. In the grimness of the people is a dire significance that Russia has already recognized.{286}

Just now is the reign of chaos. So far as one can see, Poland is in the grip of the old middle-class conception of anarchy—anarchy stripped of all its philosophy and idealism; stark, black, fearful. Yet the great underlying dynamic of this terrible unrest is a great hope.{287}



Importance of the muzhik in the future—Ancient republican traditions—Greek church and bureaucracy run Russian institutions—Weight of the peasant vote in the Duma—How the peasant’s belief in “God and Czar” is waning—Strokes of disillusionment—Indifference to time—Muzhik nonchalance—Strange sects—Muzhik religion—A characteristic legend—Practical ethics—The muzhik not necessarily lazy—Muzhik shrewdness—The dawning of self-consciousness.

THE future of Russia lies in the muzhik. With an agrarian population aggregating eighty per cent. of the total population, the balance of power must ultimately rest with the majority. Since the war with Japan the world has begun to see the Russian peasant in a new light. No longer the ignorant, slothful creature he has been depicted, but a thinking man of strong frame, promising rare development in the future if individual advancement can be encouraged under a wise, sane, and humane administration.

“The Russian peasant is the best raw material in Europe from an industrial point of view,” an American manufacturer in Russia once said to me. “He is powerfully built, naturally imitative, and adaptable.”

Long before the Mongols invaded Russia, Russia held republican traditions. The states which now make up the Russian empire were formerly ruled by princes and dignitaries elected by the people, and, indeed, Michael{288} Romanoff, the first of the present reigning house, was chosen czar without opposition of arms or other force, so that even Nicholas II is where he is to-day because of a republican custom which raised his forebears to the throne. The Russian church is not Russian. It calls itself Greek “Orthodox.” It is an importation from Byzantium just as the bureaucracy is an importation from Germany. The Russian peasant has submitted to these foreign impositions because they were foisted upon him, but in the village life there has been presented the spirit of pure democracy and republicanism. Therefore it is true that the Russian people do take kindly to reform, and herein lies the probability of the Russian peasant ultimately leading the world in social and economic reforms. When the power which must eventually be yielded to the peasantry has finally been wrested from autocracy and bureaucracy, the pendulum of the social revolution will swing wide, paralleling, if not surpassing, the French Revolution, and affecting the entire world.

The peasants were the weightiest group in the Duma. The Constitutional Democrats did more talking, and in their academic way were the shapers of the first Duma. But the peasants swung the votes. The government at first leaned on the peasants because of their supposed superstitious loyalty to the Emperor—their “Little Father.” The Constitutional Democrats knew, however, that this was a thing of the past, and at once began to proselytize among the men in homespun. The socialists and extreme radicals among the Social Democrats and Labor Deputies entered upon no end of negotiations to seal a compact with the peasants, and with perhaps better success. But the supposed gullible, guileless, ingenuous Muzhik showed himself as canny as a Scot. He listened to everything that anybody wished to say to{290}{289}

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A group of leading men in a starving village


him, but when the moment came for exchanging pledges the long, shaggy head of the rustic would deliberately, but firmly, wag—“We want land and liberty.” That was the answer one heard a score of times each day in the Duma lobby. Other matters were of secondary interest to him.

The muzhik used to be terribly serious about two things in life: God and the Czar. This is no longer the case. The Czar sanctioned the calling together of the Duma. The peasants believed in it then—and in him. The Duma meant to them a place where representatives of all the people could come together to formulate requests and to explain in detail to the Emperor the ills of his majesty’s people in the remote country districts. Previous to the first Duma millions believed that this would suffice. Thousands of people in America hold a similar view in regard to the Czar—namely, that he is well-meaning, but kept from knowledge of actual conditions through the machinations of his ministers, counselors, and minions of the court. There was great rejoicing among the peasants when the first Duma framed a “response to the Throne Speech,” and many of them telegraphed most optimistic messages to their home villages. The Czar would hear their prayers and grant their requests, they thought. Alas, the pain of disillusionment that awaited them! Like a thunderbolt from a clear sky came the government’s answer. Every single request rejected and refused! I was in the Duma that afternoon. Amid the strained stillness of the great hall, the prime minister read the address. Only once did M. Gorymekin pause—to swallow a drop of water. As he raised the glass to his lips it seemed as if every one of the eight or nine hundred people in the room coughed nervously, as men do who sit under great strain. But in{292} a breath the intense quiet returned. When the reading was ended a pin drop would still have been audible. Then, while the Constitutional Democratic leaders were answering the ministry in fiery speeches, one after another from the tribunal, the peasants alone, or two by two, as men in common trouble, filed slowly into the lobby. They all seemed instinctively to drift toward the telegraph booth. They were the men who had suffered a blow and were nonplussed. Their faith in the “Little Father” was now irretrievably shaken. In the Duma conservative and academic professors, stung to desperation, hammered and pounded the ministry, and finally introduced a resolution (which, incidentally, they asked a peasant to read) expressing their mistrust of the ministers, demanding their resignation, and a new and responsible ministry. This was parliamentary. The peasants acted differently—they voted in agreement, because they were told it was right to do so. What they did of their own initiative was to send scores of telegrams, which strangely enough the imperial wires carried that night, carried till they were hot. “We have been refused land, liberty, and new laws. Tell everybody.” This was the burden of the messages. That was the muzhik’s impulse. These messages were sent by sad men just coming to the realization of their situation. But having done this they were not materially relieved. They sat together on the lobby benches and conversed in low tones. When adjournment was announced they went sorrowfully away, several never to return. One resigned—utterly discouraged. A few days later one died as a result of his heart-breaking disappointment—Andrianov of Simbirsk government—and the Duma rose in the middle of the afternoon as a token of respect. Several remained ill in their lodgings for a week. It is{293} difficult for us in America to understand and appreciate such intense feeling as these simple peasants reveal, but to them this Duma was the most serious event in their lives. Now they were utterly crushed by the realization that apparently the Czar did not care for his people, that the Duma was a mockery and a farce, and that if they were to escape from their plight it must be through their efforts. The telegrams sent that afternoon constituted the biggest piece of revolutionary propaganda since the Father Gapon labor demonstrators were shot down in cold blood in the square of the Winter Palace in January, 1905.

“How can you fight?” I asked of some peasants who had been sent as delegates to St. Petersburg, and who intimated that this refusal of the government’s meant open rebellion.

“The soldiers have taken our arms, it is true,” they replied. “But we have left our wood-axes and our scythes. We can cut telegraph posts. We can burn barracks and landlords’ houses.”

It is a commonplace psychological fact that the slower a man is to anger the more terrible will his wrath be. The muzhik is grim and determined. As for time, it does not exist for him. At any railroad junction in Russia one may see any number of peasants waiting about all night or all day between trains. Six, eight, ten hours’ delay in making connections troubles no peasant.

One night I stepped off a Volga steamer at a landing far too small to be mentioned on the biggest map. It was nearly midnight and the rain was descending in torrents. My destination was a place distant between twenty-five and fifty miles—my information was no more definite than this—and the journey must needs be{294} by horse or wagon. My companion and I were utterly at a loss to know how to proceed from the landing, for we could not see an arm’s length before us and we had not the remotest idea which direction to take. Presently we discovered a muzhik whom we hailed with joy. He told us he was waiting for a boat down the river—which he expected would come along about five o’clock in the morning. Where had he come from, we asked. “Petrovka,” he replied. Our destination! Our delight at the coincidence was unbounded and we straightway asked him how we were to get there, and the distance. To proceed at night was impossible, he told us, for the roads were flowing streams and the mud ankle-deep. As to the distance he had not the dimmest idea.

“How long were you in coming?” we asked. “What time was it when you left Petrovka?”

The fellow laughed as he answered: “Friend, you must know we have no clocks. When I left the sun was there—” and he pointed to about five degrees above the eastern horizon, “and when I reached here the sun was there—” and he pointed to about five degrees above the western horizon. So we knew it to be about three quarters of a day’s journey. He told us further that though there was a village a little more than a mile away from the landing, we could never reach it in such a storm. Just then a horse neighed, not twenty feet away. We eagerly splashed through the mud in the direction of the sound and found a young peasant on the point of driving off. He had brought some goods to the steamer we had just left and now he was returning to the village. We begged him to take us home with him and put us up for the night. He assented readily. Arrived at his house—a typical peasant’s hut with roof of mud and thatch—we helped him put up the horse and{295}

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Women making hay

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The “sleeping-box” over the stove. The platform is the family bed in the warm weather



followed him inside. His father and mother, and several brothers, were asleep on the floor. Peasants usually sleep on the floor in summer. In winter there are “sleeping-boxes” over the stove. The old woman was the only one who moved at our entrance, and she did not look at all surprised. She pointed to an ancient home-made bed and told us we might lie there if we liked, but the floor was better. We knew the bed would be swarming with vermin, so we chose the floor. The old woman threw down a sheepskin for my friend. I rolled myself in my traveling rug.

This instance is typical of the muzhik’s placid hospitality. Not once but many times I knocked at peasants’ huts in out-of-the-way places and asked for shelter. Sometimes I received the greeting: “Where did God send you from?” But muzhik curiosity is easily appeased.

The psychology of muzhik religion brings one to the realm of mysticism and superstition. Russia is filled with sectarians. The Doukhobors are known in America because of their wholesale immigration into Canada a few years ago. They were a Caucasian sect. The Molokani are another, kindred sect, also originating in the Caucasus. In central Russia are many other sects, holding and practising strange tenets—among them, suicide by fire and exposure of their naked bodies to the furious storms of winter. Certainly no country in Europe has so great a variety of mysterious beliefs. But these all belong in a category apart from the superstitious orthodoxy of the average muzhik. To describe the sectarians would necessitate the compass of a volume, whereas there are certain salient characteristics of the accepted orthodoxy which are ever impressing themselves upon the traveler.{298}

At the outset, the forms of religion are well-nigh universally observed. Most peasants remove their hats when passing a church, or an icon, and cross themselves three times. In the interior one sometimes finds a small, crude shrine, set up at the entrance to a village. Before this shrine traveling muzhiks prostrate themselves, falling to their knees and bowing forward till their foreheads rest in the dust. Every muzhik has his revered icon and holy pictures. Usually the icon is set in the corner of the wall facing the door, so that every one who enters may reverence it. After each meal the peasants upon rising from the table bow before the icon, crossing themselves. I have seen icons in vodka shops thus reverenced by peasants coming to buy liquor. The peasant, too, has a blind, but sometimes very real, faith in miraculous images and pilgrimages to well-known shrines like the Madonna of Kazan and the Iberian shrine in Moscow are constantly maintained.

The ringing of the village church-bells on a Sabbath morning or on the occasion of a saint’s day is something wondrous and memorable. There is nothing melodious in the sound. A terrible clanging and pounding, loud, wild, sonorous, discordant. But the muzhik believes that these sounds drive away evil spirits.

In spite of all of these surface signs of ingrained religion, the muzhik is not a religious being. The Orthodox church has no real grip upon his life, and apart from the sectarians and old believers, the peasant is intensely ignorant of all religion and religious beliefs. He strictly observes the church fasts because it has been his custom to do so and because the priests tell him that he must. But it must be remembered that the priest is not so much a spiritual teacher as an agent of the government. Nor do the priests, by their example, show the people what{299} Christianity might do for them. They are frequently dirty, slovenly creatures, guilty of many excesses, of public drunkenness, and not infrequently accused of dishonesty. Monasteries are sometimes dens of iniquity and I know of convents which are semi-public brothels. The muzhik abstains from flesh food during the long Lenten fast and on the regularly prescribed fast days, but he drinks at the same time, and as a result of his impoverished physical condition he falls easy victim to the strong drink. This gives rise to the common idea that Russian peasants are drunken.

During a certain long fast I was spending some time at a large house in south Russia. One afternoon, upon returning to the house after several hours’ absence, the master and I met one of the maids in the hall, weeping bitterly. She told us to go quickly into the dining-room. There we found the gardener and the laundress, both maudlin drunk, standing before a small icon of the Virgin repeatedly drinking the good health of the Holy Mother. This shocking irreverence had quite undone the maid. Flagrant as this incident sounds, it is less so than many of the stories one hears of priests, holy sisters, and mother superiors. Mother superiors, like abbots, are often appointed because of their social influence, and may be without any previous ecclesiastical or monastic training.

There is a classic story in Russia, told of Alexander III, who was once visiting a certain town near Moscow. A local monastery was pointed out to the Emperor and a little way off a convent. The Emperor looked from one to the other and then began to scan every point of the horizon.

“Does your majesty seek something?” asked one of the escort.{300}

“Yes,” responded the Emperor. “You tell me yonder is a monastery and over the way a convent. I am looking for the third building—the foundling institution.”

The muzhik’s religion, so far as I had observed it, is a set of forms to which he bows—much as he pays his taxes—and an instinctive feeling which is never discussed nor thought about, that outside of himself is some great and mysterious power which he must not offend, and by observing the forms which this vaguely understood Being delights in he may expect in return protection in any hour of trial. The muzhik is naturally shrewd. This is a reasonable explanation, and adequate reason for his going regularly to church. And of course no God would see His children inflict the punishments of fasts and long ceremonials upon themselves without rewarding them at some future time.

That there is a genuinely practical element in the muzhik’s religion is indicated in a well-known popular legend which purports to explain how it comes that St. Cassian’s day falls only on the odd day of leap year. It also is a keen analysis of the psychology of the muzhik’s religious outlook.

The two saints, Cassian and Nicholas, so the legend goes, appeared before the Lord together.

“What hast thou seen on earth?” asked the Lord of St. Cassian.

“I have seen a muzhik foundering with his cart in a marsh by the way,” answered St. Cassian.

“Why hast thou not helped him?” inquired the Lord.

“Because I was coming into Thy presence, and I was afraid of soiling my bright clothes so that they would offend Thine eyes.”

At this moment the eyes of the Lord rested upon St.{301}

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        A village boulevard

A Russian cemetery



Nicholas, who approached, falteringly, his dress utterly disheveled and spattered with mud.

“Why comest thou so dirty into My presence?” asked the Lord.

“Because I was following St. Cassian, and seeing the muzhik of whom he just spake, I have helped him out of the marsh.”

The Lord hesitated a moment, then said:

“Because thou, Cassian, hast cared so much about thy dress and so little about thy brother, I will give thee thy saint’s day only once in four years. And to thee, Nicholas, for having acted as thou didst, I will give four saint days each year.”

And that is how it comes about that St. Cassian’s day falls on February 29 and St. Nicholas’s day occurs quarterly.

In this case muzhik ethics are illustrated as eminently practical. And so with muzhik morality. Sexual immorality is so commonplace among the officers, and among certain court and aristocratic circles, that it is no longer scandalous. It is accepted. And also in the industrial towns among the proletariat. But among the peasantry an entirely different code exists—a code of sex honor, born of what Americans would call “horse sense.” Early marriages are the rule, to be sure, much earlier than in the towns, but the standard of morality is probably higher among the peasantry than among any other class of people in Russia.

In one village which I visited in south Russia the village school-mistress and school-master, aged, respectively, twenty-one and twenty-six, were living together in what they called a “free-love union.” Yet the matter was not noticed especially by the peasants. In other words, the muzhik, while morally strict with his own{304} people, is highly tolerant of the lives of other people, and this tolerance does not stop here but is extended also to beliefs. The religion of the muzhik is so lacking in detailed creed that he is not inclined to quarrel over beliefs with any one. In this respect the sectarians are less amiable. They, not unnaturally, are dogmatic and largely inclined toward bigotry, but the sectarians are apart from the typical Russian peasant.

Laziness is frequently ascribed to the Russian peasant. Here one may not assent, nor at the same time repudiate, the charge. Between the peasants of different sections are differences in temperament and characteristics almost as great as between some races. The landed proprietor is the man who most often calls the muzhik lazy. He best should know. But by what standard is the Russian peasant adjudged lazy? The average Russian official comes to his office at ten or eleven o’clock in the morning and in three or four hours he feels that he has done enough for one day. Russia borders on the East. There are parts of Russia traversed by Bedouins, by camel-traders, by people whose months and years slip easily by on the hillsides and the deserts. Compared to any of these the Russian peasants are most industrious.

Soil is a factor. If a peasant has only one dessiatine of ground, as is the case with thousands of peasants in the interior in governments like Saratoff and Voronezh, it is quite impossible for him to keep busy the year through. Especially if he has no knowledge of modern agriculture, as most of them have not. There are thousands of muzhiks who have not yet heard of intensive cultivation, who know nothing of the advantage of rotating crops, and who use wooden ploughs because they have always used wooden ploughs, or have not the money to buy iron implements when they learn that{305} such exist in the world. Russia is not equally fertile throughout. In some of the districts where an annual famine is recurrent, one finds soil which should be rich and productive. It lacks only water, which could be managed by irrigation. But the government has never taken large steps to solve this difficulty. So the soil is subjected to abuse by peasants who know no better. Then when the crops become meager, the peasants are reduced to starvation. But the great point of all is that it is less than half a century since the shackles of bondage fell from them. Surely not one generation nor two must pass before these recent slaves shall be judged by the side of men who have been free for centuries. Under serfdom the obligatory duties of peasants were vague, ill-defined chores. And even these were prescribed by some one else—some one who said when it was time to cut wood for the master, when it was time to sow, and when it was time to reap. The problem of adjustment is only a little less real and formidable to these people than it was to the American negro-slaves, and the differences of opinion in Russia to-day are quite as great in regard to the relative advantages of the present condition as compared to serfdom, as in America in regard to the welfare of the negro now and before the war. But one thing I have noticed: no muzhik ever desires to return to serfdom. The twinkle in his eye is full enough of intelligence when this question is put to him.

The muzhik is rarely indiscreet in his talk. This characteristic is noted by most travelers in Russia, and it is surely true. Not infrequently a man who has been talking most intelligently will give an answer to some simple question which is perfectly inane. He has suddenly become suspicious. So he shrewdly turns{306} you so completely off the track that, metaphorically, you are ditched. This seems to be an instinctive ruse.

To learn that the forms of democracy are not new in Russian life one needs only to turn to the villages. The very word Duma is not new. Towns and even villages have their Duma. Tolstoi talks about the “Gospel as understood by the muzhik.” The ideal of civic life as conceived by the muzhik culminates not in the state and autocracy but in the people—an aggregation of muzhiks. There is an ancient proverb familiar throughout Russia which expresses this ideal of democracy: “Each for himself, but God and the Mir for all”—the Mir being an association of villagers coming together to work out the common weal of the village under the laws of the land. The national laws have allowed a wide scope in certain directions, and the opportunity has not been lost by the muzhiks. They have been left free to manage many of their local economic interests in common, like the allotment and periodic redistribution of land, their fisheries, cutting of timber, and also they have been given absolute freedom to divide and distribute among themselves the village share of the taxes collected from all of the people. They have elected their own immediate administrative officers, a certain number of local judges, and those in turn have limited freedom in regard to accepting local custom and tradition in precedence to civil or criminal law prescribed by the state. To the peasant, therefore, the Duma is an institution similar to this local town meeting he has always been used to, only on a national scale. The shock came when the Duma delegates in St. Petersburg found that to deliberate, come to conclusions and to vote for certain measures was wholly a different thing from{308}{307}

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A Russian farmer


gaining those measures. This was not like the Duma they had been accustomed to at home.

There is much of animal patience about the muzhik. He is a stolid, stubborn, creature. These qualities have led enlightened Russians to call him a child. When the Duma began landed proprietors and gentry were wont to speak of peasant deputies as “children.” But impartial observers soon formed their own opinions. The muzhik is wily. He may not have been so outspoken in the Duma as men more accustomed to town life, but he has the voice where voice means influence, and his vote is as good as a university professor’s in the assembly. The peasant members usually stand solidly together. They know what they want, they ask for it concretely: “Land and liberty,” and mark the craft! They know that they cannot work out the land problem, so they say to the Constitutional Democrats: “You want certain measures passed. Very well. We will vote for them, but you must turn your thoughts to the land question which is what we are interested in.” The Constitutional Democrats could not dispense with the peasant vote, so they were coerced into agreeing. And the muzhiks would sit on the benches in the lobby, swinging their legs and smoking cigarettes, while tedious debates lasted, going in when time to vote. The peasants know their time is coming. They have only to keep on smoking cigarettes in the lobby, going in in time for each vote, and to keep talking all the time about “land and liberty.” During the Duma session their telegrams went to every part of the empire. They well knew they could afford to appear indifferent to the details of working out any bill. The pretentious frock-coated gentlemen might see to that. The muzhik understood that it was his part to lie low for a time, only not to cease mur{310}muring “land and liberty.” He had the whip hand and knew it then. No fool is this simple, untutored, rustic.

During the first Duma the peasant deputies awoke to a consciousness of their power and importance. Through painful surprises they realized that they had a destiny to fulfil. When these deputies returned to their respective villages, all over the provinces they related to their fellow villagers all that had transpired in the Duma. Then came the great peasant awakening which marked a new era for Russia. Just those few months from May to July did it. During that period the Russian peasants bounded forward almost incredibly, and in a few weeks advanced further than in many previous years.

To gather evidence of this change which literally swept over Russia during the spring and early summer of 1906 I planned a long trip through the interior where I would see typical peasant villages, and come in contact with many hundreds of the men upon whom it had suddenly dawned that they were indeed men, men of power, of ultimate influence, and with a future in which to work out their own great destiny.{311}



The period of repression following the Duma dissolution—Under arrest in Moscow—The cradle of the Romanoffs—A peasant gathering—Outspoken muzhiks—A “constituent assembly”—Rational opinions of the Viborg manifesto—Nijni Novgorod—The great fair—A disturbed province—Kazan—A journey to the interior—A visit to Prince Ouktomsky—Professor Vassiliev and his family—Advanced ideas of the peasants—Simbirsk, the “Mountain of the Winds”—An illiterate government—What the peasants want—Entering the famine belt.

THE dissolution of the Duma tore away the last remaining vestige of faith of the peasants in the Czar and in the government. I allowed a month to pass after the dissolution before I set out upon my journey into the interior, for I wanted the news to permeate everywhere before my arrival, in order that I might gather impressions of the effect of this step upon the peasants.

Intense repression was the aftermath of the dissolution, and martial law was spread to every quarter of the empire. The number of arrests made during the latter half of the summer was appallingly large. I left St. Petersburg on the night train, intending to leave Moscow the following evening. In Moscow I stepped into a book-shop to purchase a map. As I turned to leave the store a clatter of spurs and the rattle of a sword caused me to turn my head, and I saw an officer of gendarmes, accompanied by several regular soldiers,{312} entering the shop by the rear door. A moment later a party of several officers and more soldiers passed through the front door by which I was about to pass out. The senior officer motioned me back, the doors were all locked, a soldier placed by each, and all of us who were there—proprietor, clerks, customers, understood that we were all under arrest. Thereupon we made ourselves as comfortable as we could pending the long and tedious search of the officers for forbidden books or pamphlets. From time to time I glanced out of the window into the streets, where I could see the radiant face of my droshky driver whom I had engaged by the hour. It was just the noon hour when I had entered the shop, and I began to get ravenously hungry, but I had to bide my time. After several hours of patient waiting we customers were taken into a rear room and subjected to a searching examination. I was able to establish my identity as an American citizen and was presently released, but all of the others were detained, some for over night, and two or three for several days. In the interior none of us would have got off so lightly. It was now early August and eighty-five of the eighty-seven provinces of European Russia were then under some form of “extraordinary protection,” or martial law. One of the five exempt, or officially “tranquil” provinces, was Kostroma, a government which lies across and above the upper Volga. The capital of this province, Kostroma city, is situated about 260 miles north of Moscow, and it was here that I planned to begin my long journey through the peasant country.

Kostroma once boasted historical consideration as the cradle of the House of Romanoff. Here lived Michael Feodorovitch Romanoff in the year 1613, when he was elected czar. Just outside the town rises the Convent{313} of Ipatieff, which offered him a safe refuge when the embittered Poles marched thither to slay him, and were diverted from their intention through the wit of the peasant Soussanine, who, under the pretense of guiding the men of the south country to the hiding-place of the czar-elect, led them far into the forests out of whose bewildering vastnesses no man might hope to escape. To-day there are large imperial estates in Kostroma. I came here, turning over in my mind the probability of finding the loyal spirit of Soussanine still lingering among the Kostroma peasants, a devotion supposedly of traditional character.

I was recommended to several typical peasant villages within a radius of fifty miles of the town of Kostroma as worth my visiting. The town of Kostroma is an industrial rather than an agricultural center. Large linen mills, starch, and cutlery factories are there. The employees of these establishments are mostly peasants. Some of them contribute to the support of families in the villages, while not a few quit the mills and factories at every sowing and reaping time, to help with the labors of the field. Thus Kostroma peasants are not solely dependent upon their crops. There is yet another factor which helps to better their conditions, and which, according to the theory of some observers, should temper their feeling toward the government. The individual holdings of land are larger than in many sections. The average allotment is from eight to sixteen acres per adult male. This sometimes aggregates thirty acres to a family. Taken all in all, then, I had every reason to expect these peasants to be conservative, contented, and non-revolutionary.

A local Zemstvo official, known to the peasants, offered to accompany me to the villages, to introduce me and{314} to vouch for the fact that I was seriously interested in knowing the precise feelings of the peasants in regard to the dissolution of the Duma, their attitude toward the government at that time, and their state of mind toward the next Duma. We traveled through the country in a native conveyance called a tarantass, a basket-like affair, drawn by three horses. Were it not for the incredibly rough roads a tarantass ride would be quite merry.

The peasants of one of the first villages at which we called proved not only communicative, but so frankly eager to express themselves that the experiences of the evening proved full of significance. This village was located about ten miles from Kostroma and consisted of a group of three or four hundred houses. As Russian villages go, this one had every appearance of comparative freedom from the ravages of poverty. To be sure, few of the houses were painted, and the streets were mere mud-rutted lanes, but the general appearance did not suggest squalor, or the grim life-struggle so often characteristic of Russian villages.

Our troika pulled up before a tea-house, near the close of the day. Within we found groups of peasants from the fields, who were loitering over glasses of refreshing tea. There may have been forty in the room when we entered. Mostly they were men of middle age. Their long hair was trimmed squarely; their beards shaggy and unkempt, though on the whole they had a neat appearance. Some wore shirts of bright red, others of blue. Their great boots were clodded with the soil. To foreign eyes it was a striking and picturesque scene. The rough rafters of the room, the bare walls, the home-turned benches and chairs, fittingly framed the picture of these massive, strongly built, peasant folk, enjoying the first respite from the day’s toil.{315}

When our steaming, fragrant tea had been set before us, my companion told the men, briefly, that I had come all the way from another country to talk with them. Their interest was fixed instantly. Within a very few minutes the number in the room had swelled to nearly one hundred, and so intent did we all become that several hours slipped by all too quickly.

“Will you tell us why the people of other countries lent money to the Russian government to help keep us down?” This question came abruptly from a keen, blue-eyed muzhik, early in the conversation. “We don’t understand why the people of other countries should oppress us, because what have we done to them?”

My best explanations were obviously futile. The bald fact was clearly grasped by my questioner that the Russian government had borrowed money in France, and Austria, and England, at a time when it seemed as if lack of money would end the régime of insufferable oppression and wrong. His mind reached no farther than this and his sense of justice and right were hurt. This man nurtured bitter enmity against his government, so I pressed him to tell me the reasons for his strong feelings.

“Everything costs too much,” he replied. “In this village we are not like peasants in other places who need more land. We have enough. What we want is another government—a government that will help the people to live. We are tired of paying eighteen copecks (nine cents) for sugar, and too much for everything we buy. It is the government that does all this.”

A murmur of assent rolled round the room. Such boldness of speech in the midst of so large a company amazed me. Six or even four months before such daring was unheard of.{316}

“When you say you want a change of government, what do you mean?” I asked.

“We want a people’s government,” answered a swarthy-faced man who leaned far over an adjoining table. “We want a real Duma.”

“But you had a Duma, and look what became of it,” I replied.

“We don’t want that kind of a Duma,” he persisted. “We want a Duma that can do something for the people—”

“A constituent assembly,” interrupted a younger man.

It did not seem possible that these men could be so clear on the situation as their words seemed to indicate, so I said: “You see, I am a foreigner; I know nothing about your conditions. What do you mean by ‘constituent assembly’?”

“We mean,” responded the man near me, “a Duma that can make all of the laws. We don’t want another Duma that is hampered by a lot of laws at the start. We don’t want any ministers except those appointed by this Duma, and we don’t want any other officials who are not appointed by our Duma. That is what we mean by constituent assembly.”

Whether this extraordinary development was the result of agitation, or of the peasants’ own progress toward a political concept, I did not then know. But there it was—a hundred peasants, in what amounted to a meeting, declaring for a “constituent assembly,” and explaining with perfect clearness and lucidity what it was they wanted to abolish, and what they hoped to attain.

“Have you seen the Viborg manifesto?” I asked.

“Of course we have read it,” they exclaimed, laughing.

“What do you think about it?{317}

“It is foolish,” answered one of the older men. “Stop paying taxes? We have not paid direct taxes in two years. Of course we shall not pay any this year. But can we stop drinking tea and vodka? Can we stop using matches? As for not sending soldiers to the army—suppose we don’t. Five soldiers are soon due from this village. Suppose we don’t send them—what will happen? Cossacks will come. The whole village will have to defend those five men. That will mean bloodshed. Is it not better that we should get every one of those men to promise that they will never shoot at their brothers? If we do this we can accomplish the same result without spilling blood in the streets of our village.”

One of the Constitutional Democratic Duma deputies from this province was urging a group of peasants to accept the Viborg manifesto, when up spoke a canny muzhik and said: “You ask us to stop giving taxes to the government. That means stop drinking tea and vodka. Very good. But you are a lawyer—will you stop putting stamps on all of your papers, and documents, and letters?”

These peasants, so far as I talked with them, had lost faith in the Constitutional Democrats. They felt that the members of this party were not always single-eyed; and in the Viborg manifesto they showed their lack of understanding of the peasants by asking them to do several ridiculous and impossible things, and then dropped into private life, leaving the peasants to muddle through with the practical side of the manifesto as best they could.

“Why should we shed our blood for a Duma that is dead?” asked the man who had asked why England helped the government with money. “The old Duma can do nothing for us. It is over. Give us a constituent{318} assembly, a Duma that will make all of the laws, that cannot be dissolved, and then things will be different. We would then feel that we had something worth fighting for.”

“But your Duma has been dissolved, and you have no immediate prospect of a constituent assembly. What do you intend to do?”

“We will join any movement for a new government,” was the surprising answer. “We won’t begin, because in this village we have no pressing reason. But if the peasants in the districts where there is famine will begin, we will join in. The peasants must rise together.”

“How are you to do that?”

“The Duma has taught us that it is possible for us to be united. Whatever is done now must be done by all of the peasants and all of the people.”

“This being the province where the Emperor’s family came from,” I went on, “I expected to find the peasants here quite loyal.”

There was a loud laugh at this, more direful than words.

Up to this point the name of the Czar had not been mentioned. I was curious to know their feeling toward him, so I ventured a direct question:

“When did you begin to lose faith in the Czar?”

There was a momentary silence in which I almost regretted the question. Then some one answered: “We never speak of the Emperor now. But we cannot forget that when our representatives drew up a response to the throne speech, setting forth our needs, he refused to receive it.”

The Kostroma peasants now were sympathetic toward revolution because they had slowly reached the conclusion that the existing régime must go because it was evil{319} and they saw no other way of getting rid of it. Their faith in the Czar, which once was so strong, was hopelessly shaken, and they no longer were soothed by the empty phrases which are periodically lavished upon them in hollow, religious solemnity, in the imperial ukases and rescripts.

The significance of the Kostroma situation lay in this, that here was the ancient home of the House of Romanoff, a province that had ever been loyal to autocracy; now not only had this loyalty disappeared, but open unrest prevailed and threats of rebellion were freely expressed. The feeling of the peasants toward the government—that remained as it was before, full of hatred. Toward the Czar they had changed. Previously they believed in him, but now they saw that Czar and the government were one. So they cordially hated both, and dared to tell us so. Here surely was evidence of a peasant awakening.

Midway between this officially “tranquil” province of Kostroma and the frankly revolutionary government of Kazan, the old Tartar capital, lay Nijni Novgorod; assertive, daring, ever since the good days of old, when independence was maintained for several centuries against all invaders. The ex-Duma deputies, Zemstvo officers, and other citizens to whom I brought introductions, assured me that this whole province was not unlike a powder magazine which a spark might touch off at any moment. Several estates near the city of Nijni Novgorod had just been burned. The landlords of others had fled in anticipation of a coming wave of destruction. To such an extent was this true that not one of the gentlemen with whom I talked could suggest one estate within a reasonable distance of the city where I might hope to find normal conditions. At the same time{320} they all stated that the southern part of the government was thoroughly imbued with the idea of revolt, and that the completion of the harvest-taking might be followed by outbreaks regardless of the “peasant movement” in other parts of Russia.

Here in Nijni Novgorod, however, I found a charming relief from the serious business of observing the “peasant awakening” and the progress of the people toward revolution, in the world-famous fair. This proved like a childhood dream come true. The fires of insurrection were alight here and there through the province, landlords of estates near by were making off in anticipation of the rising tide of the peasant movement. But the great fair had all the charm of a world, wondrous strange, all the novelty of boyhood’s most bizarre phantasies. When life grants so delightful an experience as the realization of an olden dream without one tinge of disappointment, one is filled with gratitude. And so I blessed the dear old geographers who spared a corner of one of the broad, flat pages to a picture of Nijni Novgorod.

For the nonce I tried to forget the tumult and the struggle. Here was the fair. Landlords’ estates might burn to ashes. For a few days I determined to forget them, confident that ere long I should see other places in flames as I had already seen whole towns reduced to ashes.

A world exposition, whether at Paris, or St. Louis, is a wearisome thing after the first one has been seen. The sameness, the fatiguing miles we walk in vain search for something new—none of this in Nijni. Unless one has been to Calcutta, and knows his Turkestan, his Caucasia, his Siberia, and Lapland, Nijni is fascinatingly new.

It is a people’s fair above all else. A practical thing.{321} The annual exchange of thousands of small things from the mysterious East and the frozen North, the one ample market of near a million peasants from the interior governments of Russia. The tourist will not find preparations to please his extravagant tastes. Utility is the underlying aim of the Nijni fair, but utility from the standpoint of the needs of the people who contribute to its upkeep and depend upon its resources. And the needs of the vast Tartar horde, of stolid muzhiks, and hardy peoples from polar regions, are wondrously unlike the needs of Europe and the western world. The bazars of Persia, of Daghestan, and Tashkent range side by side with booths of pelts from Archangel and Nova Zembla and, frequently enough to be noticed, a stall of old Cathay attended by narrow-eyed Orientals in rich, blue silks, their plaited pigtails glistening black against the bright cloth. A few enterprising European merchants are represented, but only a few. I met one surprise at a picture post-card counter. The proprietor, a native Nijni Novgorodian, asked me if I spoke English. When I answered that I did, he asked me if I had ever been in England. When I again answered yes, he asked if I had been also in America. Once more I told him yes. Then he came to the point. “Have you ever been in Boston?”

“Yes, I know Boston quite well,” I replied.

A wide smile of genuine joy spread over his face as he grasped both my hands and wrung them in excited cordiality—enthusiastic to a degree utterly foreign to Boston. Early in his life he had spent four years in Boston. Since then he has never ceased regretting his inability to return there. His uncompromising loyalty to what he called “the best city on earth” would have done credit to any Bostonian of Mayflower lineage.{322}

Nijni streets flaunted gay colors, the myriad peoples who thronged the thoroughfares of the fair made up a crowd remarkably different from any I had ever before beheld. Here, I thought, it will not be difficult to forget Russia and her troubles. Alas! the Russian people make no such resolve. Never a day but some stroke against the government is contemplated. Never an event without some effort to turn toward the goal of Russian liberty. Hardly had I reached the fair when a chance acquaintance urged me to buy a ticket for a certain performance to be given that night, ostensibly for the benefit of an orphan asylum in a distant part of the country. But, as my friend explained, this orphan asylum was non-existent and the proceeds really were for the Social Democratic party. Next Tuesday another “charity” performance was advertised, the proceeds to go to the Social Revolutionary party, these being the two most active revolutionary organizations in European Russia at that time.

In the midst of the fair-grounds I met an old-time revolutionist whom I had known as an exile on the east side in New York. She was among the amnestied in October, 1905, and had returned, like a released prisoner of war, to the fight. When I met her she was about to start for a revolutionary meeting to be held in the depths of a forest a little way out of Nijni. Meetings of this nature were quite common at that time, despite the fact that they were attended at considerable risk. The place of meeting must be announced by word of mouth, through a small committee, to each and every one of the four or five hundred people who are to attend. Absolutely nothing may be committed to paper. In spite of these precautions the secret police frequently hear of the gatherings, and Cossacks are sent to fire upon the{323} crowd. Twice within a fortnight my friend had been at such meetings which were surprised by soldiers. At one, the volleys from the Cossack rifles had brought down a number of men and several young girls.

The Nijni Novgorod fair was inaugurated long before the discovery of America. It owes its origin to the jealousy of the Muscovite princes of the commerce and trade which annually centered at Kazan, the seat of the Tartar khans. The Kazan fairs date from 1257, but the Muscovite fairs soon began to surpass those of the Tartars, and eventually the Kazan fair ceased to exist. Nijni has not always been the location of this fair, for in the early days Czar Michael Feodorovitch, the first Romanoff, and Ivan the Terrible, changed the site to other Volga towns, but so far as history is concerned the associations will remain clustered round the old fortified town, built at the junction of the Oka and the Volga and called Nijni Novgorod.

It is a big affair. At the last official rebuilding there were sixty buildings and twenty-five hundred bazars. Many small booths are added each year, and in addition are the usual “side shows”—usual in the East. To me they were most unusual. Beautiful Caucasian dancers, real Cossacks doing wonderful feats of horsemanship, old Russian tableaux, sectional characterizations such as singers from Little Russia; northern camps; Daghestanese, Turkestanese, and Persian industries.

All in all the fair comprises about eight thousand definite exhibits, some of which are very large. But the impression made is not of costly wares, designed for the homes of the rich, but simple things such as simple people need in daily life. The grand shops are there, as everywhere, but the ensemble effect was of useful, cheap articles for a workaday people.{324}

The Caucasian bazars glisten with silver wares—bejeweled daggers, silver ornamented whips, bracelets, cigarette boxes, slippers adorned with hand-worked designs of gold and silver thread. Costly sounding articles, these, but in reality very cheap, and to Caucasians very necessary. To the rest of the world very pretty. A dagger is as much a part of Caucasian dress as a waistcoat of a European. All Caucasians are horsemen, and ornamented whips are as universal among them as embossed saddles among Mexicans. As for the bracelets and earrings and brooches—where is milady who will deny that these are among life’s essentials?

The Russian stalls show samovars, of brass and nickel, linens—peasant linens—often exceedingly pretty and ridiculously cheap, home-pounded metal candlesticks, cups, plates, and even small implements, the various kinds of Russian costumes of the present day and of long ago—ancient styles being frequently worn on Sundays and special feast-days by the peasants for their extra dress-up clothes.

Before the Persian bazars I was wont to linger longer. The stately mien, the innate dignity of these swarthy Easterners, commands interest. Their great, dark eyes suggest infinite depth lost in height, their strange, yet meaningful, expressions seem to flit from age to age as lightly and as swiftly as a woodland bird darts from bough to bough. Now soft as memory, recalling a long and mighty past; now stern and austere, remembering the hardness of the present. And the goods they sell are not of our world. Delicate embroideries, slight stuffs of silks as veil-like as dew webs on the grass of a summer morning, yet traced with bright colors by fingers we know not where—beyond the great mountains that divide Europe from Asia, far beyond the Caspian Sea.{325}

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Tartar types—East Russia



Out of the depths of this ancient, but still little known, land, have these goods been brought on the backs of camels. A few months earlier I had watched long camel trains of Persian traders crossing the Nucha Desert, leisurely plodding the hot, sandy stretches with the goods of their country with which they thought to please other eyes. At Nijni I was not tempted to buy any of these goods, for in my rooms in St. Petersburg I had enough table-covers and hand-embroidered squares to supply a host of friends with souvenirs. I had picked them up in Tiflis, in Transcaucasia, during one of the pitched battles between the Armenians and Tartars. The Armenians had taken possession of a hill in the town just above the Persian quarter, and began firing upon the Tartars whose quarter adjoins the Persians’. The Tartars returned the fire smartly, but as neither of these nationalities are notoriously good shots, the innocent Persians, who unluckily were between the two camps, were the chief sufferers. When the Russian troops came up they fired indiscriminately upon the Armenians and Tartars; likewise upon the Persians, who could not be distinguished. The result of the mêlée was the almost complete demolition of the Persian quarter. These unhappy merchants and traders started in panic for their native country, and those who had managed to save any of their goods at all were glad enough to sell them in quantities for a song. But even at Nijni these Persian stuffs are inexpensive. I saw groups of admiring muzhiks clad in what some one has called their “national costume of rags” venturing to invest a hard-earned ruble in a gaudy table-cover.

Interesting as are the bazars with all their varied displays, the crowds of patrons were surpassingly fascinating. Beautiful Tartar women, with faces half-veiled lest{328} the eyes of a strange man should rest upon them. Mohammedan molla in silken robes of many colors like little Joseph’s, with snowy turbans wound round their shaved heads, setting into bold contrast the polished olive skins of their faces. Peasants in shoals who stare and stare. Housewives who question and price a thousand things, and sometimes risk a purchase.

It was with a feeling of refreshment and no little regret that I boarded a Volga flat-bottomed steamer to proceed on my journey to Kazan.

Kazan had long been a troubled government. The nearer one approached to the famine belt, the stronger were the sentiments of insurrection. So complete was the failure of crops in some counties of Kazan this year that the harvest would not suffice for a single month! The estimated amount of government relief needed for Kazan government for that year alone was thirty-two million rubles—$16,000,000—a sum so vast that it was already known that the central government, as usual in straitened circumstances, would be obliged to cut it down so largely that appalling suffering was inevitable.

Taking a small boat that for a few months each year plies up and down a tributary of the Volga, I made a three days’ journey into the interior of this province, stopping for part of a day with a well-known Kazan landlord, a marshal of nobility, Prince Ouktomsky.

The monarchy has no more loyal supporter than Prince Ouktomsky, but when I asked him the attitude of his peasants toward the Emperor, he regretfully confessed that their disillusionment had gone so far that there was no hope of the present Czar ever regaining their confidence. “The defeats in the East completely shattered their faith,” he said. As for the Duma, he was reluctant to admit that its dissolution had influenced them, but{330}{329}

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Carriage used by bomb-throwers at Stolypin’s house


when I talked with the peasants at work on his estates, I found that their silence was deep with foreboding and their looks were sinister. “The next Duma will contain many more peasants,” he said, “because the Constitutional Democrats have discredited themselves. The peasants will not trust them again. Neither will they boycott the elections.” The peasants with whom I talked supported this view. The Viborg manifesto failed utterly to impress them, and since the Constitutional Democrats were in the majority in the late Duma and yet failed to help them in their plight, they will try to return only peasants to the next Duma.

News of the assassination of General Minn, of evil memory, and the bomb incident in M. Stolypin’s house in St. Petersburg had not yet penetrated to the remote villages of this province, although both events had happened nearly a week before. In one of the villages I handed a newspaper, containing an account of both incidents, to one of a picturesque group to read aloud. Had there been any lingering doubt in my mind as to the revolutionary spirit of these people, it would have disappeared in this moment. Details of the bomb affair were listened to with breathless interest, but when it was learned that M. Stolypin was uninjured, there were expressions of chagrin, of disappointment, and regret.

“What! Do you approve of these terroristic acts?” I exclaimed. A silence fell over the company until a young peasant, with a frank and rather striking face, answered: “Yes, we believe in the killing of ministers. They are bad men. They are our oppressors. It is good that they should die.” For a peasant this was very “advanced” thinking.

I left Prince Ouktomsky’s toward the end of a sum{332}mer afternoon, for the estate of Professor Vassiliev, some five hours’ journey away.

Three hours after leaving the Ouktomsky estate we passed a certain convent. My peasant driver was very insistent that I and my interpreter should pass the night here.

“But how is that possible?” I exclaimed. “If it is a convent, surely men may not tarry here over night.”

“May God forgive me,” replied the horseman, “but in many months the sisters have had no opportunity to welcome such handsome travelers as you. If you will only stop here you will be received like great men.”

When my interpreter further questioned the fellow he told me a tale that recalled Boccaccio and the Florentines of the Middle Ages—which I was assured was truly Russian!

Two hours later we passed Professor Vassiliev’s gates. Dogs greeted our arrival, and the professor himself raised a window to call out, in Russian:

“Who’s there? What is it?”

“Good-evening, professor,” I answered, in English, “you speak English, do you not?”

“English! Yes, I do—but who are you?”

“An American,” I replied.

“Impossible!” exclaimed the good man. “But come in. Whoever you are you’re heartily welcome.”

And heartily welcome we were made. Not only the professor, but his delightful wife, and his charming oldest son and daughter, all spoke perfect English, and their cordiality was beyond anything I had anticipated.

We talked until past midnight, and then a room was prepared for my interpreter and myself. I chanced to have with me a copy of Professor Paul Miliukoff’s admirable book, “Russia and Its Crisis,” being lectures{333} delivered at the University of Chicago. Professor Vassiliev and his son were overjoyed at this, and begged me to let them have it over night.

“Miliukoff himself may not have a copy,” they told me; “it is a forbidden book in Russia.” Next morning they told me that they had both read it through during the night while we slept—and returned it with profuse gratitude.

Professor Vassiliev conducted me over his estate and afforded me opportunities for conversations with many peasants, and everywhere I found my earlier impressions confirmed. The peasants had advanced by leaps and bounds within a few months, and in the words of the professor: “Kazan was then ripe for insurrection, if only the firebrand were applied, with the assurance that neighboring provinces were rising also.”

Professor Vassiliev was a staunch liberal, a Constitutional Democratic deputy to the first Duma, and a hereditary landowner. Yet he looked upon the expropriation of land in Russia, not only as desirable, but as presently inevitable. “At the same time I am a monarchist,” he added; “but, though a monarchist, I must say that the blunders of the present monarch have damaged him forever with the peasants. The war shook their belief in him. His treatment of the Duma added to their skepticism, and the sending of the Duma away was the final blow.”

“As for the expropriation of land in Russia,” continued the professor, “I believe in the principle, and I shall be glad when my lands are taken—with the rest. I would leave to the proprietors only their house gardens.” When the man who has much to lose is willing to lose all for the good of his neighbors, then, indeed, is the spirit of true citizenship met in its purest form.{334}

These visits to Prince Ouktomsky and Professor Vassiliev, and the conversations with their peasants, went to confirm the impressions gathered in Kostroma, and Nijni-Novgorod. The peasantry no longer cherished dreams of autocratic infallibility. The idea of revolution had gained strong headway, especially since the Duma. An idea cannot be held back by Cossacks, by rapid-firing guns, by bayonets, or by the legalized lawlessness which is screened by so-called martial law. The government, through its fatuous policy of oppression and reaction, had now awakened the sympathies of practically all of its people to revolution. Active revolutionists, in any country, are in a seeming minority up to the crisis. When the wave of success attains formidability, the ranks of the then new régime suddenly become filled and solidified. The present government, partly owing to the financial support it receives from the peoples of England, France, Austria, and other countries, still maintains a show of strength. But examination reveals the obvious condition—strength merely to demoralize the ranks of the revolution, while lacking the strength to rule or to administer.

The next province I went to was Simbirsk, the next province below Kazan on the Volga. “Mountain of the Winds” was the name given to Simbirsk city by early Volga-side dwellers. “Plain of the Whirlwind” might Simbirsk government well be called at the time I passed through. Conservatism would scarcely be expected among the constituents of Aladin—that daring, outspoken labor-group leader in the Duma. “Revolutionary”—he was called by people who heard his impassioned speeches. But the Honorable Maurice Baring, after listening to him many times, recalled the words spoken by Mirabeau of Robespierre: “That young man{335} will go far. He believes every word he says.” Of Aladin’s beliefs I knew nothing at the time, for this was all before his visit to America, where (together with Tchaykovsky the “Father of the Russian Revolution”) he did more, perhaps, than any Russian has ever done to arouse the American people to Russia’s wrongs. Of the man I knew little; only this:—the peasants trusted him, and in as large degree as the Constitutional Democrats had lost the confidence of the peasants, Aladin and the “toil group” had won it. This was not because of Aladin, however, but because the peasants were now unequivocally and avowedly revolutionary, and they trusted the man who dared shake his fist at ministers, hiss them, and shout loudly for their demission, and who had publicly referred to the peasants as men, not as “children”; whose championship of the men in sheepskin had been neither apologetic nor patronizing.

Simbirsk is an illiterate government. Five sixths of the population cannot read or write. It is hard, indeed, for an English mind to conceive the status of education in a country of pretended standing, as we find it in Simbirsk. The government (Zemstvo) school appropriation averages ten copecks (five cents) per head annually. Only nine tenths of one per cent. of the men, and five tenths of one per cent. of the women receive more than a primary-school education, while only four in a thousand ever finish the “gymnasia” (high school), and four in ten thousand reach the universities. In spite of these tremendous handicaps it is patent to the most careless traveler through these parts, that in a simple, direct way the people know what they want.

“We want a Duma that we can trust, and that shall be the highest power over us,” said a {336}middle-aged peasant to me, as he paused in his work in the fields.

“Were you satisfied with the Duma you had?”

“The Duma was all right, but the ministers were bad and it was wrong of the Emperor to send it away.”

The way in which the Constitutional Democrats had dropped out of sight since issuing the Viborg manifesto had told strongly against them. Prince Baratieff, a Constitutional Democrat, a Simbirsk deputy to the Duma, told me frankly: “Formerly the Constitutional Democratic Party enjoyed the confidence of the peasants of this government, but since the dissolution I think they have moved more to the left.”

During the course of this journey I searched diligently for conservative peasants—peasants who still believed in God and the Czar, as of old, but the peasants themselves were always the first to say: “Before the Duma we thought differently.” It was a Simbirsk peasant, however, in a village twenty miles inland from the Volga, who said: “We had always believed in the Czar as our Emperor by ‘divine authority,’ but now we see that if we put a crown on a hitching-post and call it ‘Czar by divine authority,’ it is the same.”

About this time the government announced that it was prepared to alleviate the agrarian stress by placing certain appanage, or crown, lands at the disposal of the peasants—for a consideration.

“How do you feel in regard to the Emperor’s latest step in putting the appanage lands at the disposition of the peasants through the Peasants’ Bank?” I asked of a group of six peasants whom I was questioning in Simbirsk. A chorus of derisive exclamations immediately followed. “We believe no more in anything that comes from the government—or even the Emperor. We{337} have had too many pieces of worthless paper read to us. It may sound good now, but in the end it will not be for our good.”

As a matter of fact, if all of the appanage lands of Simbirsk government were distributed among the peasants of that district, the allotments would average only one eightieth of an acre per capita. Furthermore, a large part of the 480,000 acres—the aggregate amount of imperial lands within the government—are wooded, and consequently unavailable for immediate agricultural purposes. It may be explained that the appanage lands are lands set apart for the support of members of the imperial family.

“How did you hear of this imperial proposition so soon?” I inquired, knowing that so remote a village could not yet have received newspapers.

“It was read out in the church on Sunday,” they answered.

“Then the priests must believe in it.”

“That is why we don’t,” they went on. “The priests are ‘Black Hundred,’ and we believe no more in them.”

“What do you believe in?” I asked.

“We believe in a Duma for the people; a Duma without ministers who work against our interests.”

Simbirsk was another famine district. Even for an agricultural district in Russia it was terribly poor. Twenty-four per cent. of the population had no horses at all, and forty per cent. had only one horse per household. This year the crop failure was the worst in two generations. It was estimated that $5,000,000 would be needed for food for the peasants alone, and many millions more for the starving cattle and horses, and for seeds for next year’s harvest. The peasants looked forward to the illimitable suffering of starvation through{338} the long months of the Russian winter. Knowing full well the crying needs which shall soon beset them, and that without money the government will find it impossible to alleviate these needs, one peasant said to me, in the presence of a group:

“You wonder, perhaps, why we take strangers into our houses this way and tell them everything, as we are talking to you?”

“I have usually found the peasants frank and friendly,” I replied. “At the same time I should be glad to know why you are so free with me.”

“Because,” said the speaker, “you come from another country, and it is in other countries that the Russian government borrows money. We think that if the people of other countries only understood how hard our position is, they would not help the government to put us down.”

This was not the first peasant who had brought up the question of foreign loans to Russia. Nor was this the first time I had failed in attempting to explain to the muzhik why foreign loans are possible. In Kostroma, at the very outset of this journey, I had met with the same thing, and there, as here, failed in my attempt to explain the theory of foreign loans. To the peasant the only principle involved was that of oppression. Every ruble loaned to the Russian government was another lash across the back of a struggling, starving peasant. No other issue loomed before their eyes. Withal, the kindliness of their attitude always amazed me. To the ignorance of the people of England, of France, and of Austria, do the peasants ascribe their willingness to open their purses to the stained hand of tyranny. “If the people of other countries only knew,” they said. There was something inspiringly beautiful in the ingenuous{339}ness of sturdy men so simple—even Russian peasants—who still not only believed in the supremacy of plain morality, but who had no understanding of the “business,” the financial considerations which in the workaday world we know do supplant the innate ethics which make for right, for justice, and for fair play among men.

At the beginning I was startled when violent sentiments were expressed by peasants, but now I was accustomed to them. So recently such boldness would not have been possible, and now—it was truly amazing. In each government I had visited on this trip the same spirit prevailed and similar utterances were freely heard. The territory I traversed was so great that all theory of this being the result of agitation was done away with. These were the spontaneous conclusions of the peasants, not only in widely different sections, but in all sections I passed through.

At this point I became satisfied that at last the peasants were awake to their true situation. The Duma did it. Its propaganding influence was felt throughout Russia, and here were the fruits. The boast of the peasants that they would not wait for another Duma, that they would rise presently, was, of course, dependent upon circumstances. But whether conditions were propitious in the autumn of 1906, or the spring of 1907, or 1908, or some other year, makes no material difference in the ultimate outcome. A year or two, or a decade or two, is of small moment in the history of an empire. In the summer of 1906 it became clear that the Czar had lost his peasants—and through his own faithlessness.

At Simbirsk I entered the heart of the famine district, and from this point on my attention was almost entirely claimed by the misery of the starving people, whose piti{340}able suffering I had to witness in utter helplessness—appalled by the magnitude of the crime. I call it “crime” because famine, in Russia, is preventable. The régime that persists in maintaining the present archaic, economic system is responsible for all the pain, the epidemics of disease, and the deaths which follow in the wake of the calamity we call famine.{341}



Heart of the famine region—Terrible pictures of starvation—Peasants feeding the thatch from the roofs of their houses to cattle—Auctioning cattle and horses for a song—How the workers and breadwinners suffer first—Inability of the government to cope with situation—Peasants pledge their labor for years to come to secure food for their families for the present time—Another arrest—Expulsion from the province.

SAMARA province marks the heart of the “hungry country,” which includes all of the Volga provinces and most of the provinces of Great Russia. Samara is the most important of these provinces, owing to its situation. Samara city, the capital of the province, is the chief point on the railroad between Moscow and Siberia, and being also on the Volga, it has developed into a large shipping port. In good years when harvests are plentiful, Samara throbs with life and activity. The volume of trade which it handles is enormous; its connections extend to all parts of the world. But when famine smites the land, Samara seems to cower into unwonted insignificance. The busy air of prosperity grows clouded and dull and the shadow that envelops the city is but a somber reflection of the awful reality—the blight of famine and starvation—that has descended upon the country. There are big landlords in Samara province, as in neighboring Volga provinces, who work land for profit. Ordinarily they ship immense{342} quantities of grain to Europe. The raising of these crops gives employment to several hundred thousand peasants who come from other provinces for the sowing and the reaping, and who rely upon these earnings to help them through the winter. This summer the peasants came into the agricultural district, as usual, but they wandered weary miles east, and north, and south, only to be turned away from each place in disappointment and despair. Work there was none. The crop failure was almost absolute. The scanty returns yielded by the sun-baked earth could easily be gathered by local laborers whose own harvests were mere mockeries. And so these thousands of peasants who journeyed eastward in search of work were finally turned back toward their own provinces, empty-handed and hungry. They wandered back as tramps, penniless, broken, to face the winter under circumstances hardly better than that of those who stayed at home. In a country crossed by several large rivers as is this hungry country—the Volga, the Don, the Kama, and many little streams—an irrigation system might easily be introduced. The proposition is a perfectly simple one from an engineer’s point of view. The question is, who should undertake the work? The peasants can not, the great landlords who are rich will not, and the government is too thoroughly honeycombed with corruption to ever consider a plan of this kind. That such a scheme must eventually be resorted to there is no doubt. Under existing conditions there is a partial famine in several of these provinces every year while the whole area is annually exposed to such dreadful famine as marked the years 1892 and 1906.

When I passed out of Simbirsk I had covered one more stage of our journey down the Volga, before turning eastward across the country toward Ural and Siberia. This{343}

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Starving peasants in a Tartar village



brought me to Samara. Ever since leaving Moscow I had been chiefly interested in the peasants and their change of attitude since the Duma had come into existence, but in Samara I could have thought for nothing save the famine. I had read of famines and thought I knew about what to expect in a starving land, but the depressing reality of the suffering, the heroic, despairing battles to prolong life even a little while, had never before come so close to me. From the city of Samara I made journeys in three directions—across the Volga and west, south, and east. In all of the starving villages I passed through the same heartrending scenes were repeated—food supplies absolutely exhausted; thatch being torn from the roofs to feed to the horses and cattle; families doubling up, i.e., the occupants of one house moving over into a neighbor’s in order to use the first house for fuel; relief kitchens so short of relief that only one meal in two days could be dispensed; during the forty-seven hours between meals the people lay prostrate on their backs so as to conserve every particle of strength; parents deserting their children because they could not bear to watch them die.

Why is this suffering visited upon thirty millions of people who are powerless to help themselves? Their oppressors are blessed with material prosperity. The very flour dispensed by the government is flagrantly adulterated in order that corrupt officials may glean a few thousand more rubles to spend on their dancing-girls and French champagne. The Russian famine frauds have been sources of graft these many years, and members of the government as high up as the assistant minister of interior[18] implicated in the scandals.

The morning I arrived from Simbirsk the Samara{346} newspapers published in prominent positions the following announcement:

“Whoever donates one ruble and a half (seventy-five cents) saves a man from starvation one month.”

A village priest in an outlying village wrote to a gentleman to whom I brought introductions: “Our peasants are already reduced to one meager meal a day. Parents, overwhelmed by their misery, are abandoning their children and are going off that they may not see them die.” Seven priests in joint conference in the district called Buzuluk appealed to the Red Cross Society: “There is no bread for the people, nor fodder for the cattle. The peasants are picking over the hay they have gathered for their horses—little as it is—and are extracting for their own use spears of the grass called goosefoot. In a few weeks even this will be gone.”

The famine relief workers were everywhere beside themselves with the enormity of the problem. Never in the history of Russia had the need been so great, and never had the relief been proportionately so little.

Armored trains, machine guns, Cossacks, and soldiers maintained on a war basis, had so strained the financial resources of the government that only the scrapings were left for the alleviation of the famine. The most powerful of nations would find it difficult to meet the exigencies of such a dire situation. Crippled Russia might well be overwhelmed by the seeming hopelessness of the task. Pressed to the verge of starvation, as these millions of peasants were, they were forced into making sacrifices of inestimable consequences. They were selling their ploughs, their wagons, their own labor for years ahead. They were submitting to obligations as arduous as serfdom. Six peasants, for example, in the village of Bugulma, borrowed $50 from a local priest,{347} and in return gave him the use of six acres of land for sixteen years! Here and there a prosperous priest, or a peasant who had money, loaned it to the starving peasants at rates of interest amounting to 200 and 300 per cent. I heard of four cases of 300 per cent. All of the money which could be thus secured by the peasant went for immediate needs, no provision being made for seeds for the next year, and as the implements were nearly all being sold it will be years before the peasants of the famine districts get back to even the deplorably miserable condition of this year.

The purchasers of the farm implements and the horses and cattle were the remnants of the old Asiatic nomad tribes, who, through long centuries, roamed over the lands where Europe and Asia merge. Generations ago Samara was important as one of Russia’s eastern frontier posts. At this point the Asiatic invaders—the Tartars, the Bashkirs, the Kirghiz, the Kalmucks—were beaten back into the mysterious unknown lands which at intervals through centuries seemed veritably to vomit them forth. They came, not as armies are advanced in ranks and regiments, but in hordes, helter skelter, human beings in droves. Now all these swarthy peoples are nominally conquered and the spirit of conquest is dead in them. They are content to live pastoral lives and eke out a living as they may. They are nearly all “dark” people, as illiterates are called in Russia. But they somehow manage to fare better than the Russian peasants. They suffer no irksome regulations. Their wandering life makes it easy for them to escape the burdens that the government would lay upon them, and so it comes that they are able to profit by the dire distress of the peasants. For a song they purchase what the peasant has sweated blood to acquire. The Tartars,{348} especially, are ready purchasers of horses, for horsemeat is their common diet. In the village of Tolkai, for example, I witnessed a sale of peasants’ horses to Tartars that was memorable. Colts were sold for forty cents. A horse still able to work could be bought for five dollars. Horses showing signs of starvation went for two dollars and a half and three dollars. Two rather dilapidated horses went for four dollars and a quarter the pair.

Having sold their horses, their cattle, their implements; having pulled the thatch from the roofs of their outhouses and homes; having burned even their own houses for fuel;—all of these things having been acquired through years of toil, how many years must lapse before these peasants will regain the status of free and independent men!

“Where there is famine, sickness takes root and flourishes. Typhus, scurvy, and fouler diseases ravage starving villages, making yet more hideous the plight of the suffering people. The drinking water goes bad and becomes a great disease-spreading medium. Even smallpox sometimes attains the proportions of an epidemic. In house after house I visited were the frail little bodies of children faded to mere skin-coated skeletons upon whom the hand of death already rested. And save for the men and women who volunteer for service in the relief kitchens, and who may be medical students, or nurses, there is oftentimes no medical aid whatever for the sick and the dying. One phase of hunger which I had not seen before was the swelling of the limbs before death, presenting an abnormally healthy appearance.

The relief dining-rooms were entirely inadequate to cope with the situation, so that in many places I found that meals were given only to the young and the very old, while the middle-aged men and women, that is to{349}

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Everything eaten up

Two families live in one cottage, using the other house for fuel. The thatch has been fed to the cattle



say, the workers, were left to shift for themselves. The theory of this is that the strong ones can best endure suffering and hardship, but, of course, this method is open to question since such a policy tends to weaken the only ones in the village who might serve the rest of the village with their labor. It is very like discriminating in favor of the unfit.

At the relief stations the feeding of the inhabitants begins at an early hour in the morning, and continues through a greater part of the day since the dining-rooms are rarely large and sometimes fifteen hundred, two thousand, or an even greater number must be fed during the days. There were three dining-rooms in one village where I stayed over night and every day upward of fifteen hundred meals were dispensed—the total population of the village was under two thousand. Without these meals there would have been absolute, literal starvation. From four to six months each year these dining-rooms were open, this being in the region of annual famine. When the paltry crops begin to ripen, the village becomes self-sustaining—it’s a niggardly sustenance, but it keeps soul and body together. From their tiny parcels of land, and with their very primitive methods of agriculture, it is impossible for the peasants to store enough food to last till the next harvest. Those who can find employment in the summer-time on the estates of the large landowners. The price of labor is appalling. In this village from three to eight rubles a month—from one dollar and a half to four dollars a month! This means from twenty-four to twenty-six days of toil in the fields during long days, for in this northern land summer nights are brief, and summer days very long.

It was nine o’clock in the morning when I visited the{352} first of the three dining-rooms. An ordinary village house had been renovated and fitted with tables and benches, and a small kitchen built in extension. The group who were eating when we entered suggested a salvation-army Christmas dinner. Ordinary muzhiks, with their wives and families, all poorly clad. The clothes they wore were largely made at home. The coats were of sheepskins, the wool worn inside, and the sun-cured skins out. The stockings and boots are of a kind of burlap, usually held to the feet and legs by cords. This footwear is common among both women and men.

The meals provided were naturally of the simplest foodstuffs—vegetable soups, porridge, and black bread, mostly. Each person received one meal a day, or in some districts one meal in two days. The dishes and spoons were of wood, made by the peasants themselves. The average cost of these meals was from forty-three to forty-five rubles (twenty-one dollars and a half to twenty-two dollars and a half) per one thousand meals—about two or three cents a meal. The young men and women who looked after this work were allowed seven dollars and a half a month! Yet so simple is the life they lead that this was ample to defray all of their necessary expenses. It does not matter what one’s private resources may be, in the midst of such extreme poverty one’s very appetite wanes, and the sin of luxury and extravagance presents itself in a new light.

In spite of the deplorable condition of the people living in the twenty-seven famine provinces, and in spite of the marvelously long way a ruble will go in alleviating starvation, of charity in Russia there is little, save among the hungry peasants themselves. The starving are always ready to share their last half pound of bread{354}{353}

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with any one else in distress. Nowhere in the world are Maurice Hewlett’s lines truer than in the midst of Russia’s “hungry country”:

Only the poor love the poor;
Only those who have little
Give to those who have less.

The less poor gave their mites, and the government distributes the taxes gathered in provinces which are still able to pay, and money borrowed from abroad, that some of the starving population may be supplied with scanty meals. The rich landlords in the midst of these districts seldom contribute anything to relieve the sufferings of their own peasants. Many of them live out of Russia altogether, some, perhaps, because they find the constant distress and unquiet disagreeable. The grand dukes and connections of the reigning house prefer Ostend, Paris, and the Riviera, to Russia; abroad they escape the unpleasant sight of half a nation going hungry. The Emperor is one of the richest men in Europe, yet it is very rarely that he donates anything to charity, so far as is known.

The administration insists that it is endeavoring to solve the so-called land problem. And how? Large tracts of land belonging to the royal family were placed at the disposal of the peasants—for a consideration. A certain amount of land was available in many governments for fifty and one hundred dollars a dessiatine. One prominent landowner proposed selling one million dessiatines to the peasants at the rate of one hundred dollars per dessiatine! One hundred dollars a dessiatine! Peasants that were reduced to eating grass cut for their horses, buying land at one hundred dollars a dessiatine is an obvious absurdity. And even if some of{356} the peasants did venture to mortgage themselves to these great landowners for years to come by buying a small strip of land, which they could not succeed in paying for in a lifetime, the land problem would still be no nearer solution than before.

In several villages I learned of the comeliest daughters of the place being sold to traffickers in prostitutes who supply maids to dealers in eastern European capitals. This selling of girls has often been misunderstood. I do not think that parents ever realize what they are doing, any more than the girls understand what they are being bound to. A man, or perhaps two men, comes to a remote village with offers of “work” for certain likely girls. A sum of money which often seems very large to the starving peasants is paid to the families in token of good faith, and the girls start away with the man, or men—as they suppose to employment in some distant city. Thus unwittingly do parents sell their own children into bondage and probably in few instances do they ever learn the tragic sequel.

In the wake of famine is pain, disease, and death. The results reach down through years, and ever and always innocents are the victims. The most terrible part of it all, to me, is that famine in Russia is largely unnecessary and preventable. There is land enough in the country for all of the people—if it were only differently divided, and even a part of that which is now lying idle were placed at the disposal of the people who could and would cultivate it. There is water enough in Russia to defy any drought,—if it were only conserved and guided through channels and ditches where it would reach the now dry and parched dessiatines of starving peasants. But so long as the government persists in staving off this vital issue, famine will be recurrent. The attitude of{357} the government toward this great question is, perhaps, more directly responsible for forcing the country toward civil war than any other one thing. The measures suggested thus far by the government do not relieve the situation materially. The only possible solution to this agrarian difficulty is to allow the peasants more land, and to teach them intensive methods of farming. Hundreds of thousands of acres lie unused, untilled; the peasants can not buy it for they have nothing to buy with. They never will have anything to buy with until they get a wider opportunity to earn more and to produce more—which can only come with more land. Thousands of them are already bound body and soul for years to come to big landowners and usurers (who are frequently the village priests). The land, in the fulness of time, must be given to them. And if the government will not consent to this the Duma will “expropriate” it as the first Duma set out to do—and was speedily dissolved for the effort! If there is no Duma (as there will not be if Nicholas II has his way), then sooner or later the peasants will have to take the land. And that may well mean the French Revolution, or worse, over again.

One Sunday I started for the western part of Samara province, taking with me a Russian-American for a traveling companion and interpreter. Just beyond the railroad station called Tolkai we left the train and started across country engaging a local yamschik [driver] and a rough, springless wagon. We had not traveled more than an hour before we were stopped by a village gendarme, who demanded our passports and letters of permission to travel there. We really had an imposing array of credentials, but none of them seemed to impress our captor. Finally I produced a letter writ{358}ten and signed by Prime Minister Stolypin. This extraordinary high chief (of gendarmes) of the village stared blankly at the letter and said:

“Stolypin? Stolypin? Who is he?”

Turning away from us for a moment he signaled up the street, and six other gendarmes appeared, to whom the first man addressed himself as follows:

“These strangers are Americans. They have an apparatus (my camera) for making drawings of our district. They are important prisoners, so we must take good care they do not get away!”

My friend and I argued long and loud to convince the men that, in the first place, we were not agents of the United States government, and secondly, that the United States was not contemplating an invasion of Russia at that point. But all to no avail. We were carried off to the gendarmerie and duly given a restful room all to ourselves. Two gendarmes were left to guard us. My companion was a timid soul who gloomily predicted a tragic and ignoble end for us. So, largely to cheer him, I tried to gain the good-will of our guards. I made a surprisingly good start in that direction when I gave them each a little money for vodka, for it immediately developed that they were so appreciative of this generosity that they were not unwilling we should make our escape. Our driver was still lingering about outside the gendarmerie, trying to make out what was to become of us, and who was to remunerate him for the miles he had already brought us. Suddenly, deciding to be bold, we opened the door of the room where we had been put and walked out. It was the easiest thing in the world. As we drove off our two guards raised their vodka bottles in token of their regards! We calmly continued our journey.{359}

Seven versts farther on we came upon a peasant fair where many starving peasants were auctioning off their horses and cattle for whatever they would bring. The buyers were nearly all Tartars. I got out my camera to photograph a particularly dilapidated horse fairly tottering from hunger, being sold for its meat (what there was left) to a swarthy Moslem, when a party of mounted police suddenly surrounded us, and we were again put under arrest. They carried us to the headquarters of the local priestoff, who examined us at great length and finally sent us under armed escort to the very gendarmerie we had cleared out of an hour before.

This time our guards were not so easily won over. We were detained there till afternoon, and there seemed to be some doubt as to what disposition should be made of us. At first we were informed that we would be sent back to the city of Samara, where the governor would determine our fate. Later, however, we were carried to the railroad station and told that we might have the freedom of the waiting-room (but not to step outside!), pending the arrival of a train. No train came until three o’clock the next morning, and then it was a train from Samara. Into this we were bundled, and informed that we might go where we pleased after the train had passed the boundary of that province. The adjoining province was upon the slopes of the lower Ural Mountains, so I gave that as our destination. As a matter of fact this was our direction anyway, so the only result of the incidents of the day was that I was slightly hurried on my journey toward Siberia. We left the train at Ufa, the capital of the province of Ufa.{360}



Across the Urals—Into Siberia—The Treimen waiting-prison—First exiles—The journey to Tobolsk—Secret night meeting of politicals—Hardships of exile—Splendid personnel of prisoners—Forced into daily contact with foul disease—Starvation—Life among the Ostiaks—Lack of medical aid—Siberia, a monumental crime—The journey back.

UFA held little to interest me, so that after only a brief pause I continued my journey east to Cheliabinsk, the western terminal of the Trans-Siberian Railway. It had not originally been my intention to traverse Siberia. European Russia I did want to cover thoroughly, but when I found myself here on the edge of Asia, within a night’s ride of the “land of lost leaders,” I felt justified in making an excursion far enough over the border to bring me to the nearest places of exile, where I could meet and talk with men and women whom Russia had expelled. Instead of pursuing the line of the Trans-Siberian road, however, I decided to follow the old route used by exiles in the days when no railroad penetrated even to the borders of Siberia. To reach this port it was necessary for me to go north from Cheliabinsk, along the ridge of the Ural Mountains, and down into Yekaterinburg, a famous mining-center, and the starting-point of a short railroad line running to Tyumen, the most northerly point reached by railroad in Siberia.{361}

From Cheliabinsk to Yekaterinburg was one long day’s journey. Autumn was already descending upon the land and the trees were tossing their dried and brown leaves over the steep slopes of the hills into the valleys below, where a lingering green still carpeted the earth.

From Yekaterinburg to Tyumen is a night’s journey. When the first light of dawn creeps into the car window and one realizes that day will presently reveal the melancholy wastes of the dreariest country on earth, a little of the meaning of that sinister name—Siberia—possesses one, and the desolate miles of waste and marsh country seem to hold a weird fascination.

The same train that brought me to Tyumen carried a party of exiles in the prison-car ahead—a car ironclad, with small square windows to receive the light—windows crossed by iron bars. At the station I watched the gendarmes forming their charges into line, preparatory to the first stage of their long walk. Most of these prisoners were strikingly ill-clad for a Siberian expedition. Several had no hats, while only one or two had overcoats. A representative of the revolutionary Red Cross Society—himself an exile—was on hand to make note of these things. Of him I inquired the reason why these prisoners were so inadequately clothed. He laughed at my ingenuousness, and told me that recently a party of fifty had come in, most of whom were clad in their underclothes, with an old army coat over for decency’s sake. Sometimes men are arrested in the dead of night, torn from their beds without time to dress, but often it happens that a man will sit for months in a local prison, and then, suddenly one night, he will be hurried from his cell to join the party about to start for Siberia. There is no time to dress nor to collect his possessions. The worst feature of this treatment is that the government usually{362} makes no ultimate effort to make good this loss. Therefore the exiles have been obliged to organize a relief committee among themselves, with underground[19] connections with the outside world, to make provisions for the neglected and ill-clad new-comers whom the government so mercilessly deserts upon their arrival in this region of long winter and incredible cold.

The exile whom we found taking notes of the needs of arriving prisoners was immeasurably delighted when we spoke to him. His home was one of the university cities of south Russia, where he had been the editor of a local newspaper. Because of something he had written the wrath of the governor of the province was brought down upon him, and he had been exiled to Siberia for five years. At the beginning he was sent to a settlement several hundred miles to the north, but through influential friends in St. Petersburg he had been given permission to return to Tyumen, which is a distinctly more habitable place than a remote settlement of half-civilized Ostiaks. He invited us to visit him in his lodgings, and promised to introduce us to several other political exiles who were living in so-called “free” exile in Tyumen, and to supply us with letters of introduction to various people that would be helpful to us in Tobolsk.

When, later in the day, we climbed to his attic-room I was struck by the atmosphere of refinement that was somehow conveyed in the simple furnishings of the{363}

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In the waiting-prison at Tyumen

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Among these semi-barbarous people cultivated men and women are forced to spend long years in exile



room, and the few books neatly arranged on a crudely fashioned table.

“Free” exile is allowed to only certain privileged exiles, and mostly to those against whom there are only trivial charges or undefined “suspicions.” When we arrived our friend was composing a letter presently to be forwarded to St. Petersburg, detailing the pressing needs of the revolutionary Red Cross committee. In reply to questions I asked he told us how the revolutionary Red Cross Society has its committee in every village, settlement, and hamlet where exiles are sent. In Russia and abroad its agents are always actively collecting money for food for the starving and clothing for the needy. He cited many instances of heroic sacrifices of men and women of smallest resources sharing their little with their comrades in distress in Siberia. Exiles who have well-to-do families and friends receive contributions, but these are almost invariably shared with those who have no such resources. Were it not for this work of the revolutionary Red Cross Society, the suffering in Siberia would be infinitely greater than it is, and the number of deaths from starvation would be appalling.

While waiting for one or two others to join us he gave me a little sketch of Siberian exile history and life:

“Siberia began to be used by Russia as a place of exile about three hundred years ago, but at that time very cruel and terrible punishments were meted out to civil as well as political offenders. The bodies of men were frequently mutilated, their limbs amputated, and hideous tortures applied that left lasting scars. In order to dispose of these maimed and now worthless creatures they were dumped into this remote region of northeastern Asia, which was at that time a recently ac{366}quired possession. A hundred years later, that is, just before the beginning of the eighteenth century, bodily mutilation was officially abolished, and simple banishment was introduced on a large scale. Exile soon came to be the usual punishment for a long list of crimes, covering practically the whole criminal list. Men were exiled on every conceivable pretext, or merely to get rid of them. About this time the mineral resources of the country began to be known, and the government conceived the idea of utilizing the labor of exiles for developing these resources. This policy continues in force to-day. From time to time the exile system has sunk into such a condition of disorganization and barbarity that the escape of death was sought by scores and hundreds. Pestilential prisons, incredibly crowded, were allowed to become fairly putrid with filth, while the men and women confined in them grew foul with disease or lost their senses through suffering.

“Six years ago the Czar, by imperial ukase, ended the banishment of political prisoners to Siberia, but you see how it is, this edict, like most of the imperial decrees that go out from our Emperor and his government, was meaningless. A flood of politicals pours through Tyumen all of the time now, and most people have forgotten that that edict was ever issued.

“Cruelties like those of former times are not employed now. That is to say, prisoners are not mutilated, although they are sometimes beaten and roughly handled, and while the prisons are still foul and bad they are not as they were even a generation ago. What the government does now is to desert its political prisoners to inevitable starvation, and to force many of them into intimate daily contact with loathsome diseases in the settlements of diseased savages in the interior.{367}

I was soon to learn the full truth of these statements from other lips, but I listened to this man’s story with keenest interest. It appears that there are two classes of political prisoners, the so-called privileged, and unprivileged, exiles. The privileged grade includes the graduates of all technical schools and universities, all noblemen, and the sons and daughters of noblemen. The unprivileged are all others: peasants, merchants, workmen, clerks, and the rest of the rank and file.

The government allows each privileged exile three dollars a month, out of which he must rent a room, or sleeping-place of some description, pay for his food, clothing, and all other necessities. If the wife of a privileged exile accompanies her husband into exile, she also is granted six rubles, or three dollars, and one dollar and a half for each child. But at the present time eighty-five per cent. of the political exiles in western Siberia, are of the unprivileged class, and these the government allows one ruble and a half, or seventy-five cents, a month! It seems almost unthinkable that a government which aspires to greatness would turn adrift living men and expect them to live for years on an allowance of seventy-five cents a month. Sometimes exiles arrive unknown to the Red Cross Society, and then there happens to them what would happen to nearly all unprivileged exiles if the government’s dole were not supplemented—they starve.

At this point a bright-faced, buoyant man of about thirty-five entered the room, and shook hands with us with great warmth. He soon told his story. He came from the town of Yaroslaff, on the Upper Volga. By trade he was a carpenter. Last spring the workmen of Yaroslaff decided to keep May Day (the European Labor Day) by what they called a “peaceful celebra{368}tion”; they would not only refrain from work, they would remain indoors all day. On the eve of May Day the governor caused to be issued a proclamation warning all the inhabitants of the province that any one who celebrated Labor Day in any way whatsoever would be punished. The Yaroslaff work-men decided to take the chance. They remained in their respective homes all day, merely absenting themselves from work. The next morning every man who had thus “celebrated” was placed under arrest. The man whom I met here in Tyumen had been sentenced to three years of exile in Siberia for this offense.

The man had brought with him his wife and five children—as “voluntary” exiles. During the first three days after their arrival in Tyumen they had no money, and somehow had failed to connect with the Red Cross committee, in consequence of which they literally starved. The man told me that he had not one piece of bread for his children, the youngest of whom cried constantly through hunger.

For many years the government made a slightly better allowance to exiles for food than now. When Mr. George Kennan was in Tyumen, for example, the cost of food for each prisoner in the forwarding prison was 3-1/2 cents a day, and for privileged prisoners 5 cents a day.[20]

The impossibility of living on seventy-five cents a month, the current allowance, is patent on the face of it. Living is very high in Siberia. All foods are costly. For example, the government allowance of bread for soldiers is thirty pounds a month. Now thirty pounds of bread cost ninety cents! Sugar—criminally high all{369} over Russia—is twelve cents a pound in Siberia. Ordinary meat is practically unobtainable at any price in the remoter places. All vegetables, save potatoes, are unknown. The character of the soil, in the northern provinces, is such that no vegetables will grow. Potatoes, being scarce, are thirty cents a pail.

I do not wish to sustain the popular impression that Siberia lies entirely within the region of Arctic cold and barrenness, for it reaches as far south as the latitude of central and southern Italy, Greece, and Constantinople, but political exiles at the time of my visit to Siberia were being sent rather to the northern and desolate parts of Tobolsk province, to Yakutsk, and the Transbaikal region.

Space forbids that I recount the vivid hours spent in Tyumen, of interesting conversations I enjoyed with cultivated men and women who had been sent off to this distant Asiatic province to end their efforts to do something worth while for their long-suffering fellow countrymen. After three days I started for Tobolsk, the capital of this western province, where I anticipated planning a tour of a few hundred miles to outlying settlements used for penal colonization.

The great Siberian Trakt, or imperial highway, begins at Tyumen and runs across the eternal desolateness of interior Siberia to the Amur River, a distance of more than three thousand miles. Along this ancient road, beaten hard by sore and bleeding feet, moistened by myriad tears, more than one million exiles trudged between the reigns of Nicholas I and Nicholas II. When exiles arrive in Tyumen they are thrown into the waiting-prison until a sufficient number have arrived to make up a party for the interior. They are then corralled like so many cattle, formed into loose marching order,{370} surrounded by Cossacks or regular troops, and marched over the weary way. They tramp thirty versts a day for two days, and rest the third day. Rough Russian carts, called telegas, usually drawn by one horse, accompany each party to carry the luggage and provisions, and sometimes sick or exhausted marchers. At this rate of going, through summer heat and winter cold, many months are consumed in reaching the destinations to which the exiles have been assigned. During the short summer season when the waterways are open, convict barges carry some of the parties as far as possible along the rivers of the Tobol, the Irtysh, and the Obi. In order to get a taste of Siberian water travel I decided to go by boat to Tobolsk, and from there on, and indeed back to Tyumen, by the usual post-roads. The little steamer that carried us from the chief city to the capital of the province was filled with soldiers and Tartar merchants returning from Nijni-Novgorod. Each spring the Tartars travel from their northern homes with winter pelts—ermines, sables, silver foxes—up the Siberian rivers to Tyumen, then by rail over the Ural Mountains to Perm and down the Kama to the Volga, then up to Nijni-Novgorod.

The amount of commerce on the river surprised me greatly. We met many boats heavily freighted, plying between Omsk, Tobolsk, and Tyumen, and there was every appearance of a large volume of trade passing over these waterways. The quays and landing-places were very crude. In fact there were no regular docks at all. At intervals a single post had been driven into the mud, usually within a reasonable distance of some settlement or village, which seemed rarely to be close to the stream, and around this post the steamer’s hawser would be made secure, while a long gang-plank would be{371}

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The great Siberian Trakt

Along this highway more than one million political exiles tramped toward remote Siberian settlements between the reigns of Nicholas I and Nicholas II—a period of 75 years



extended to the muddy bank over perhaps ten or even twenty feet of water.

The steamer engines burned wood. Every few hours we would make fast to the bank near to a pile of cordwood which the native Tartars constantly replenish, and practically the entire crew and sometimes some of the passengers would act as stevedores bringing it aboard.

The settlements we passed were mostly of Tartars. The women would offer for sale milk, fish, and raw turnips—the latter sweet and tasty, though hard, and very cheap. Two and three for a cent. Toward nightfall we would pass fishermen in crude boats that were often merely dugouts—logs, hollowed and roughly shaped. On the whole the civilization of these shores was as crude as any frontier country could be, and the dirty, dilapidated hamlets we could see in the distance from the steamer-decks, suggested only decay and stagnation. Even the somber wooden Moslem houses of worship with their gilded, or painted, crescents, looked faded and forgotten, rarely reflecting any of the garishness which characterizes the temples of Mohammed. Relics of a dead civilization are all that remain to these people who once boasted a powerful empire, with glory as well as power.

Tobolsk proved a business-like town of something over 20,000 inhabitants. It commands an excellent location on the river Irtysh, facing the junction of the Tobol. On a high bluff to the west of the town proper is a striking monument to Jermak, the conqueror of Siberia. Behind this monument is a small but tremendously interesting museum. It contains large collections of old instruments of torture: branding tools, used to stamp the foreheads and cheeks of prisoners, instruments for pulling out the center bone of the nose, painful shackles,{374} and other horrible devices for human torture. Besides these things are splendid collections epitomizing the ethnology of western Siberia through costumes and excellent models of the industries of the natives. The ornithology, geology, and mineralogy of the country are also indicated through complete collections.

There is one good hotel in Tobolsk, but when we arrived it was entirely filled with officers and we were obliged to put up at a small and dilapidated inn kept by a Pole. The man’s father had been sent to Siberia with the Polish revolutionists of the early ’50’s. This man was born in Siberia and had never been out of the country. He had married there and had children born to him, so that he had virtually become a Siberian.

One of the letters of introduction given to me in Tyumen was to a young woman whom I had been particularly told to seek out first. For reasons I did not question I was to find her through a mutual friend of hers and the writer of my letter of introduction. The morning after our arrival in Tobolsk my interpreter and I called at the house of the friend, who accepted the password we had been instructed in as evidence of our trustworthiness. She bade us enter and wait in an inner room while she sent out for the girl whom we wanted to see.

More than half an hour passed before the girl arrived. When she came in I was greatly surprised by her appearance. She did not look more than twenty, and she was gowned as any woman might be of a morning in any fashionable resort in the season. Her manner and bearing suggested Mayfair drawing-rooms. My first thought was that she must be the daughter of an aristocratic family, who had been exiled, but I remembered that the remark had been passed that she was not a prisoner. She was graciously glad to see us and told us{375} we were most fortunate in having come to Tobolsk just at that time, because there were many political exiles in town from all over the province, even from Berezov, a thousand versts to the north. It appeared that every autumn, just before the rivers closed in for the winter, delegates of one or two “free” exiles from each settlement were appointed to go to Tobolsk to purchase the winter’s supply of matches, candles, pins, and other little things; for once the winter sets in it is often many months before a courier can get through, even with mail. The girl told us to come to a certain house in a neighboring street that evening and she would have there to meet us a number of the delegates from different parts of the province.

The house she designated was one belonging to a physician who had been exiled from an eastern Russian city for twelve years, by order of the local governor. He had never been able to learn what charge there was against him, and as he was a Constitutional Democrat, and opposed to revolutionary activity, he found his exile particularly exasperating. However, he had brought his wife and children with him and he was striving to make the best of his situation. He welcomed us with the utmost cordiality, when, at the appointed hour, we repaired to his house. It was seldom that exiles have such direct communication with the outside world as we afforded.

One of the greatest hardships of exile life to educated men and women is the life of enforced idleness that they must lead. Hard labor, indeed, for politicals, is usually interpreted enforced idleness. For an educated and disciplined mind emptiness and absolute lack of occupation is the most cruel strain. The result is that politicals often beg local authorities to permit them to go to work{376} in the mines, merely that they may have occupation. This physician told me that previous to my coming some poor people had come to him to give them relief from pain they were suffering from a certain curable cause. The doctor gave them some simple remedy and sent them away. A day or two after he received a reprimand from a police authority—he was there as an exile, not as a professional man, and he was not expected to use his professional knowledge! The man protested that he had done very little, yet it had relieved the poor peasants, and inasmuch as the government made no provision for healing the sick he could not understand why he should not do what he could.

“But the government does provide physicians,” was the officer’s reply.

The physician then asked me to wait until others of the exiles came in, when the Berezov man reported that the single Berezov doctor, for example, has a territory almost as large as the whole of France! Others told me that in the central and southern sections of Tobolsk province physicians have districts which are defined as “a radius of five hundred versts of a given point.” In winter the only means of communication is by sledge. Fancy a New York physician who had one patient in Atlantic City, another in Lenox, and a third in Utica, and no other way of getting from point to point than by horse; or a Boston practitioner with a call to make in Pawtucket, and a patient to be operated upon in Bangor!

A delegate from a village called Felinsky gave me a photograph of the funeral of a political exile who died through the sheerest, most wanton, neglect. He had a bad tooth which developed an abscess. There was no one about who knew how to lance it, or that it should be lanced, and blood poisoning set in, causing his death.{378}{377}

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Siberia: the start into the Interior

Politicals are corralled like so many cattle and marched to their respective destinations, which may be one thousand, fifteen hundred, or two thousand miles from Tyumen, the starting-point


One by one the exiles began to gather. To me it was a remarkable group. There was a civil engineer who had formerly been the district manager of one of the Baltic provinces railroads—now exiled to the far north. Then there was a mining engineer from Great Russia, the physician from Perm in the Urals, a Jewish student from Odessa, a peasant from Saratoff—who still bore the fresh bruises and mutilations of the police who tortured him—a Harkoff editor, a St. Petersburg school-teacher, and an “intellectual peasant” from Moscow province. This man, a follower of Robert Owen, could not get over his surprise at being greeted by a correspondent in Siberia. “When we fought on the barricades in Moscow,” he said, “correspondents came to see us. When we had our Peasants’ Union congress in Moscow, correspondents were there. And now in Siberia a correspondent visits us!” He shook his head in deep wonderment. Later, he showed me a Russian-English book which he had procured somehow, somewhere, and from which he hoped to learn English during the years of his exile. Around a steaming samovar we sat until far into the night—that little group and I—they relating to me the stories of their lives, the conditions of their exiles, and I telling them of what the world is doing, the world of which they once were a part, but which now seems remote as another planet, this world which they have lost. Some of them spoke English, nearly all of them knew French or German. They were strong men, all. Men of great hopes, of nobler thought and life than banishment and suffering can destroy.

The first matter I inquired about particularly was the prevalence of disease in the villages to which exiles are assigned. I was already satisfied in regard to the inevi{380}tableness of starvation. A report from a certain village five hundred versts from Tobolsk had recently reached Russia, asserting that the number of houses in the village which were infected with a certain loathsome disease was so great that the exiles could not escape close daily contact with it. This was an Ostiak village, and the disease had evidently been rooted there many years, for the report stated that the noses and lips of many of the inhabitants were entirely eaten away. I had already seen some dreadful cases, so I was not unprepared to learn that this report, which was signed by fifty political exiles, was not exaggerated. One of the group round our friendly samovar was an exile from the village of Felinsky. He told me that a careful investigation had just been made, and of the fifty houses composing Felinsky village, forty-eight were infected with this disease. And yet twelve politicals were assigned to this village. A government physician stated that in his district—Ovat Point—there were eighty-two villages, and over sixty per cent. of all the houses in all of the villages were similarly infected.

There is another very common disease found in these northern villages. It is a stomach ailment which poisons the blood. It results from eating bad fish. The query naturally presents itself: why do people eat fish that have gone bad? The explanation is plausible: the northern summers are short and the winters excessively long. The winters are also exceedingly severe, and during weeks at a time the people may not stir out of doors. It is necessary, therefore, for them to lay by what stores they can during the summer against the winter, when they may not shoot or trap. So the fish caught during the warm season are preserved according to a simple and crude method. They are partially sun-dried, then{381} roughly salted. The sun-baking decays them slightly and the salt preserves them in practically that condition. Ordinarily, dried fish are preserved with a specially prepared salt, often containing a dash of sulphur, which prevents this slight decay. But these crudely prepared and partly decayed fish are said to be not untasty once one is accustomed to the diet, only the ultimate effects are disastrous. However, it is the best the people can do, and so they depend largely on these fish during the winter.

Scurvy is very common throughout the region, of course. The scurvy, in advanced forms, is one of the most nauseating of human diseases to look upon, but throughout Siberia, as throughout the famine region, there is no escaping it.

The political exiles in the town of Berezov had prepared a telegram to the Duma setting forth their plight. This telegram was to have been carried from Berezov to the nearest telegraph line—one thousand versts away—by the very messenger who brought the news of the dissolution. A copy of the telegram was preserved, however, and given to me. The text proved incontrovertibly that exile to a Siberian village at the government allowance is equivalent to banishment to starvation. To live upon the government grant would mean subsisting each day on one twelfth of a pound of meat (local meat, deer, or bear, etc.), one half pound of bread, one half of one piece of sugar, and eight potatoes. There would then be left eleven cents a month for lodging, and six cents a month for all exigencies, and such luxuries as candles, matches, and clothing. As a matter of fact it is difficult to find a room in any kind of a house for less than one dollar a month, unless one sleeps with native Ostiaks, and the great crime of Siberia is that political exiles are{382} obliged to do this, even when the Ostiaks are foul with disease.

When I had asked as many questions as I cared to, the conversation shifted to world interests, and we might have been a group in any London or New York club. How the sane men who make up a government can persuade themselves that it is the policy of wisdom to banish educated, intelligent men like those whom I met in Tobolsk is past finding out. It would seem that in Russia’s time of great need that these were the very ones who were most needed in active effort of reconstruction.

It was far into the night when we separated, and then it was with mutual reluctance that we said good-night. To me, the evening had been one of intensest interest and most genuine inspiration. And they, too, had appreciated the breath from west of the Urals.

My companion and I walked home with our friend, the girl who had brought together this little gathering for us. She talked vivaciously of the “work” in Siberia, and I wondered more than ever about her. When she stopped at her own front door, it proved to be before one of the few big houses in the town. This again increased my curiosity concerning her.

“Oh, she is probably a school-teacher,” suggested my interpreter.

“But school-teachers in Siberia are not apt to wear Paris-made gowns and live in one of the grandest houses in town,” I answered.

The next day I asked our physician about her, and he replied:

“She is the daughter of one of the governor’s staff. She was educated abroad. Most of her family live abroad. She chooses to accompany her father here because of the opportunities she has for service in the{383}

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Sozonoff—a typical Siberian exile of the intellectual class

Head of a convoy of prisoners on the great Siberian Trakt



movement. Her father is in the interior now, so she has unusual liberties.” I really might have guessed that her situation was something of this nature.

During the next few days I saw so many exiles in and about Tobolsk that I gave up the idea of visiting outlying settlements. Since I had neither the credentials, nor the time, for visiting the prisons, I only hoped and desired to talk with a fair number of exiles and hear their story of the conditions of political exile under the “constitution.” This I was able to accomplish right here.

One house of special interest in Tobolsk that all the politicals pointed out was a kind of community-house built by the Decembrists of 1825 who were sent to Tobolsk. During my stay here I met at least two men who had been exiled in 1878—they had both met Mr. Kennan when he was in Siberia in 1885, and asked me to carry their greetings to him, and to tell him that they were still there! One man, Kosturin, has made his lot more bearable by editing a newspaper, or rather, his wife edits and conducts the paper—officially.

The season was now advanced, snow-flurries were daily in the air, and there was a winter crisp in the trees that heralded the near approach of the icy storms that close Siberia through long months.

At four o’clock one morning we left Tobolsk in a post-chaise and drove continuously for thirty hours along the great Trakt to Tyumen—a distance of three hundred versts, stopping only at post-stations to change horses. In Tyumen we lingered long enough to say good-by to the men and women we had met coming in, and then traveled by train to Yekaterinburg.

This trip into Siberia was very short, superficial even, yet it proved worth while. I got a brief glimpse of the country, I visited the two most important towns of{386} western Siberia, and I met many splendid men and women who are doomed to long exile, yet who were of good cheer. To merely have met them face to face, to have grasped their hands, and talked with them through the still hours of night—this, alone, was worth the long journey.

If I had needed any further evidence of the inhuman and utterly blind policy of the Russian government, I found it here in the treatment imposed upon men and women that any nation in the world should be proud of—verily the flower of the land.

At Yekaterinburg six weeks’ mail had accumulated, so that I spent several days here before crossing the Urals to Perm, where I rested again for nearly a week, before continuing my journey westward to Vyatka, which I found in many ways the most interesting province I had seen in Russia. The peasants there are very progressive, and through generations of practice have become marvelously skilful in wood-working. Some of the boxes I saw, with secret compartments, were examples of rare ingenuity and skill. There is a museum there of the peasant handicrafts which is most interesting. And withal the Vyatkans have a business sense which has enabled them to build up a profitable trade in these things with Siberia and Russia at large, through the Nijni-Novgorod fair and sales-shops in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

From Vyatka I traveled by a new railroad to Vologda and St. Petersburg, arriving in the capital early in October, when the nights were lengthening and the icy air was calling out the winter furs.{387}



“Terrorism” almost universally misunderstood in America—Terrorism a philosophy based on logical, intelligent, dispassionate reasoning—Exceptional incidents that merely prove the rule—Relation of terrorists to the whole revolutionary movement—Differentiation of the several leading revolutionary parties—Thoughtful and humane methods of recent terrorists—Capture of “The Bear”—Two girl terrorists executed at Kronstadt—The daring Maximalists—“Flying Bands”—Rigid morals of terrorists—Total abstainers—Personnel of the Maximalists—A famous “expropriation”—Plot on the Duma—Bomb in the home of Prime Minister Stolypin—The most daring plot of all.

MY interview with Marie Spiradonova on the eve of her deportation to Siberia led to my meeting a good many terrorists. A Moscow newspaper made so bold as to print a short account of my experience in the Tamboff prison and the entire edition of the journal was confiscated by the police. A week or two later, in St. Petersburg, Professor Paul Miliukoff’s paper, the “Retsch,” the official organ of the Constitutional Democratic Party, published one or two of the photographs of Marie that Luboshitz had taken on the occasion of our visit, and the police descended upon it. Some one, unknown to me, procured one of these newspaper reprints and used it for an edition of Marie Spiradonova postcards. A Moscow book-shop placed these cards on sale and the police permanently closed the shop—after taking all of the cards. These and other incidents which devel{388}oped out of the Tamboff visit seemed to offer a guarantee to the members of the Extreme Left that I was trustworthy. I may have been needlessly reckless, perhaps, in the way I availed myself of the opportunities presented through this chance means, for nowhere in the world to-day is playing with fire apt to lead to deeper burns.

I need look back over only as many months as I can count on my fingers to realize the appalling price these daring men and women of the skirmish line of the revolution pay for devotion to their ideals of a free Russia. Some died where they stood when they cast their one blow for Russia; some died, blindfolded, bullet-riddled, as the dawn wind blew fresh across the fortress courtyard; others swung ignominiously from a hangman’s scaffold, the sunlight and the wide, blue sky shut away from their last vision by a hood of black; at least two checkmated their captors and laughingly claimed their heritage of death by their own hands; several lie in living death in the far north; several rot in pestiferous prisons; a handful are in voluntary exile abroad—dreaming, planning, watching for the moment when they may most effectively return to the fight.

Terrorism and assassination are the monumental bugbears—in America. Of all the complexities of the Russian situation, nothing is so little understood, so frequently—I might almost say so universally—misunderstood in America as terrorism. Terrorism in America means “anarchy,” and that suggests Haymarket riots or Czolgosz fanaticism—both of which are entirely outside the pale of terrorism as it is understood in Russia. Terrorism is a philosophy and a policy, rather than the impulsive action of human passions. It is true, of course, in individual cases, that the father or husband of an outraged girl will seek reprisal himself when hope{389}less of lawful aid, but cases of individual revenge have nothing in common with terrorism properly so-called.

Incidental to the terrorism of political origin is a certain amount of assassination worthy of mention. I mean assassination resulting from specific acts of military or administrative officials. For example, last year a number of women teachers in the Caucasus met to confer upon educational methods, and to lay out a plan for an improved curriculum. The government disapproved of their taking so much upon themselves, and sent Cossacks to break up the meeting. Not content with dispersing it, the colonel of the Cossacks said to his soldiers: “These women are yours.” The Cossacks then outraged all the teachers. Neither the colonel nor any of his men were punished. It is not difficult to understand how the friends and near ones of these young women felt toward the colonel who was responsible. It is not to be wondered at if some one—a father, a brother, a lover, or perhaps one of the dishonored women—took up bomb or revolver in retaliation. What would American fathers, or brothers, or lovers, do under like circumstances?

So long as the Russian government and the military and police authorities encourage massacres, and do not rebuke such enormities as these, absolutism will continue to be tempered by assassination. Under such pressure as this the strongest wall of reason, the finest ideals of manhood, fall away, and the impulse of the moment becomes not merely the supreme, but the only dynamic of life.

Terrorism, however, does not rest on a mere personal basis. These incidents—to which might easily be added a vast number—simply account for the picking off of a man here and there, usually a man of subordinate rank.{390}

The terrorists of the revolution bear precisely the same relation to the movement as a whole as sharp-shooters bear to a regular army. No military officer ever advocated turning a whole army into scouts and sharp-shooters, and no revolutionist I ever talked with desired turning the revolutionary movement into a vast terroristic organization. But as an auxiliary agency the fighting organization has its work, just as distinct and as important as the work of the military organization.

The Russian revolutionary parties, properly so-called, are two—the Social Democratic Party and the Social Revolutionist Party. The former is a Marxian socialist party, dominated by German thought, and influenced even to its working methods by German ideals. More and more the Social Democrats are tending toward the doctrinaire. They aim to keep in step with the international socialist movement, and their immediate efforts are all toned and tempered by their ultimate program, which is the establishment of a socialistic state in Russia, to supersede autocracy, as soon as the rank and file of the people are sufficiently instructed in the nationalistic principles which underlie their philosophy. Active fighting and insurrection with the Social Democrats is now only occasional, and is determined by peculiar local conditions.

The Social Revolutionists, on the other hand, are an out-and-out revolutionary organization in the usually accepted sense. This party believes in barricade fighting when circumstances seem propitious. At all times its propaganda encourages preparation for armed revolts, and instils the belief that it is through insurrection that the balance of power will eventually be wrested from the bureaucracy. While indorsing insurrection, the Social{391} Revolutionists find that there are long periods when active revolt is inexpedient, when the people are for the moment exhausted, their resources drained, their spirits dampened by the cruel reaction such as characterized the period of M. Stolypin’s ministry, from the day of the dissolution of the first Duma. Yet there are always those who chafe under inaction, and who can not cease from the strife so long as life and liberty are spared them. Of such are the Maximalists, an offshoot of the Social Revolutionists, whose exploits thrilled all Russia from time to time during 1906, but whose reckless daring resulted in the almost complete extermination of the party.

Terrorism proper is not a blind, fanatical policy of bloodshed. It is a phase of warfare which can be logically justified even when it can not be sentimentally accepted. Assassination in a country where normal, peaceful conditions prevail can never be justified. But terrorism, as it exists in Russia, rests on the basis that Russia is not only in an abnormal condition, but it is a country seething with internal war. The government maintains its army on a war footing; during the entire year of 1906 at least four fifths of the empire was kept under martial law, military trials and punishments were meted out to ordinary civil offenders, and the men were executed for crimes so petty as stealing less than ten dollars. The Russian government maintains a state of perpetual warfare against its own people, therefore the ethics of a peaceful land do not at all apply to Russia.

Terrorism does not mean reckless and indiscriminate bloodshed. On the contrary, it means the prevention of bloodshed because victims of the red terror are almost without exception tyrants whose lives, and régime, if{392} permitted to continue, would demand the lives of numberless victims falling under their rule. The assassination of a Plehve, a Sergius, a Pavlov, a Luchenovsky, sends a nation to its knees in praise and thanksgiving—I speak, I believe, without exaggeration—because the taking of each one of those lives saved the lives of many innocents who would have fallen under their merciless régime, precisely as hundreds did fall before these pitiless rulers were overtaken by the terror.

Marie Spiradonova was the first terrorist of the present movement whom I met face to face. I have described her charming girlishness, her burning idealism, her heroic daring. During the succeeding months I met a good many members of the fighting organization and I think with every one I was impressed with their splendid spirit.

Personally, I do not approve of bombs, save under extraordinary circumstances, but I can understand their vogue in Russia. And this I know, that the terrorist—the assassin of the revolution—usually pays greater heed to safeguarding the bystanders than the government ever does.

The slayer of the Grand Duke Sergius allowed five opportunities for striking his victim to go by, because the Grand Duchess Elizabeth was by his side and her death was not desired.

Zinaida Konoplannikova, who shot General Min at Peterhof in August, sacrificed her own life to save the lives of some children. On a certain morning when the general left his home he was approached by Zinaida, who was accompanied by one comrade. She held a velvet work-bag in one hand. In the bag was a bomb, in her pocket was a Browning revolver; Zinaida meant to do her work well. As she was on the point of passing the general{393} and dropping the bomb two children ran toward her and flung themselves at her skirts. She carefully raised the bag above their heads, and turning to her comrade said: “I can not—the children.” That same afternoon Zinaida waited for General Min near the railroad station. Again she carried the velvet work-bag, and in her pocket the Browning. The station was almost deserted. She determined to use the bomb and attempt escape. The bomb would make sure her victim and occasion enough commotion to perhaps enable her to get away unnoticed. But when the general appeared he was accompanied by his wife and daughter. Like a flash she weighed the choice—the bomb would kill the general and the two women, but perhaps cover her escape. The revolver meant the general’s death and her own and no other. There was no hesitancy. Her hand reached for the Browning, and General Min fell. As soldiers rushed upon her she motioned them back, shouting “Careful! Careful! This is a bomb!” The soldiers hesitated. Zinaida gently put down the bomb, and gave herself up. In the dead of night, September 10, 1906, in the grim and sinister courtyard of the famous Schlüsselburg fortress Zinaida was hanged.

Many times have these “terrorists” shown similar care for the lives of the innocent. At least two or three sacrificed their lives during a Maximalist incident which is described at length in the following chapter, by the insistent daring of the “protecting party” in keeping the crowd of passers-by back from the zone of fire.

The capture of Sokolow, known as “The Bear” (a man whom I knew intimately), on the Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg, was beautifully characteristic. The Bear was five and twenty. He was more than six feet tall, deep-chested, light hair, small light beard, and{394} deep-blue eyes. The Bear was a leader in the Moscow insurrection of December, 1905. A spy who had successfully played the rôle of a revolutionist had arrested a number of the Moscow leaders. Sokolow had quit Moscow immediately after the insurrection and worked only in other places. Sokolow was the soul and spirit of a certain group of the Moscow and St. Petersburg fighting organization. Some of the most daring plots were conceived by him. Now that he is dead there can be no harm in my confessing that it was he who arranged for the blowing up of the ministers in the first Duma, and it was he who forestalled the plan, as I shall describe presently. During the year he had dressed differently than when he lived in Moscow. There he was a workman, wearing a blouse and cap. In St. Petersburg he dressed as a fop, a coxcomb, an exquisite of the court. I knew him well, and was by no means unaffected by his gracious personality, his winning smile, his fine intensity. Ten months had passed since the Moscow affair. So many things had happened during those ten months that Sokolow had ceased to think of any danger from that old affair. One bright afternoon as he was hurrying along the Nevsky a beggar, clad in utter rags, stuck a dirty hand in front of him and whined a pitiful plea—“a copeck, sir, for Christ’s sake!” Sokolow drew out his purse and handed the creature a coin. As he did so, the “beggar,” who was scrutinizing the young man’s features, emitted a shrill whistle and Sokolow was instantly pounced upon by spies. The “beggar” was the old Moscow provocateur. A day or two later, Sokolow met the death of a soldier of the revolution.

During the first week in November there were fourteen executions, including two girls, at Kronstadt alone, and all of these had to be shot because no one could be{395}

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Horse killed by small bomb thrown to stop the carriage in which state money was being conveyed



found to serve as hangman. The convicts in the prisons declined the task even on the promise of their immediate liberty and money. The two girls who were included in this execution were both students of the University of St. Petersburg. They had been convicted of complicity in a conspiracy against a military tribunal at Kronstadt.

The two women were confined in the same cell; they met their fate bravely, and spent a great part of the night in singing. Mamaieff wrote a telegram to her mother, asking her to come to Kronstadt for a last farewell, but the message was not despatched by the authorities.

Venediktoff’s mother, an old seamstress, living at Tamboff, traveled to Kronstadt when her daughter was arrested, but in spite of all entreaties did not succeed in getting an interview with her. Both women refused services of the priest who came to offer last consolations of the church. In her final letter written to her mother, Venediktoff said: “I can hear a noise in the passage, the tramp of soldiers. I am now, perhaps, about to die. Good-by, good-by, my dear mother.”

At 4.30 A.M. the women were informed that they had to leave for the place of execution. They begged that they might be permitted to wear their ordinary clothes and not be compelled to don the white garb of the condemned. Their request was refused. On arriving at the scene of execution they found three of their comrades already there. All the five were bound to stakes, and a party of dragoons advanced toward them. Four of the prisoners fell dead at the first volley. Mamaieff, however, was only wounded in the leg, and by some means managed to drag the bandage from her eyes and gazed at her companions. Then came a second volley. She dropped lifeless, and a few minutes afterward the bodies were thrown into the sea.{398}

Terrorism has a dual aim. On one hand, it aims to remove an oppressor or one whose life and influence are deemed detrimental to a certain cause. On the other hand, it has in view the moral effect upon the successors of the victims, and upon other men similarly situated in positions of power; and upon the world at large.

Most of the famous assassinations of recent years have been carried out by the Social Revolutionists. A special branch of the party, known as the “fighting organization,” executed the sentences of death pronounced upon Plehve, Grand Duke Sergius, Ministers Sipiaguine, Bogoliepoff, General Min, Count Ignatiev, Procuror Pavlov and one or two others of the year 1906. This fighting organization is a carefully organized body of about one hundred, controlled by a central committee. When a victim is selected for death this committee decides upon the best method for attaining the end. There is no drawing of lots to determine who shall do the deed, as is sometimes asserted, but volunteers offer for the service, and are selected according to their fitness, judged by the peculiar circumstances incident to each case. These volunteers are not necessarily members of the fighting organization, and frequently they are not. The work of the fighting organization is one of judgment and direction—judging whose life is injurious to the liberal movement, and selecting the wisest method of carrying out the death sentence.

Auxiliary to the fighting organization are the “flying bands,” or, more truly, “flying individuals,” who work independently of the fighting organization, and carry out their work along individual lines. Such was Marie Spiradonova.

The Maximalists only came into existence when the foregoing terrorists and fighting organizations deter{399}mined to suspend their activities for a time. This suspension of terroristic activity was announced in December of 1905, and was to continue until the government had definitely shown whether or not it was honest in its promises for reforms and liberties, made in October, at the time a constitution was granted. The period of elections and the Duma were to decide this great question which at that time was in the hearts and minds and on the lips of every one in Russia. It was a magnificent opportunity for the revolutionary parties to show their magnanimity. The government was stoutly promising to allow the representatives of the people in the Duma to inaugurate agrarian and personal liberty reforms.

The Social Revolutionists said frankly that they did not believe these promises. Nevertheless they were ready to give the government every opportunity to prove that it had undergone a change of heart. The party, therefore, gave out that pending these first months of trial of the government under a constitution they would refrain from all acts of terrorism. They declared that they would not cease from active propaganda work during that time, but that the fighting organization would remain inactive. This announcement was made in late December at a conference of the party held in Finland. It was indorsed by a majority of the representatives of the party at the conference. A small but effective minority protested this decision, and in the end their disagreement resulted in a party split. The more forward ones were dubbed “Maximalists” because they declared for the maximum and maintained that so long as the government continued to look upon the situation in the country as a war time, so long the maximum fighting powers of the people should be kept continually mobil{400}ized and in use, even to the employment of the maximum of terror. This group realized that from the outset they were strong enough to embarrass the forces of czarism, and so they began their activity as a separate “party” with enthusiasm and confidence. The more conservative majority were forced to accept the name foisted upon them of “minimalists,” indicating that they were working for the least, or the minimum.

The Maximalists began operations in early January. There were about seventy in the group, all young, daring men. Individually they were men of character and of personality. Most of them were university men. In their personal habits of life some were as rigid as ascetics. In this respect they are not unlike many ardent revolutionists who are abstemious in some things to the point of fanaticism. I have heard revolutionists denouncing all alcohol, even light beer, with as much vehemence as a Women’s Christian Temperance Union lecturer. With them it is a clear, straight-forward, practical proposition. Alcohol unsettles the judgment, strains the nervous system unduly, and in their eyes is an influence which retards progress. Beer tends to make all of life seem rosy and comfortable. Since discontent is the soul of revolution, many of the devoted revolutionists, including many of the Maximalists, hate and fear all liquor as the ministers dread bombs.

Among the original seventy of the Maximalists were a few women. Since then the number of women has increased, and time has shown that some of the boldest and most dashing plays have been made by the women.

Moscow was only just recuperating from nine days of barricade fighting, machine gun and artillery fire, when the Maximalists began that series of raids which won them a reputation unparalleled in Russia and compar{401}able to DeWet’s boldness in South Africa and our own Morgan, “The Raider.”

At the outset, while the group were shaping together, they confined their efforts to comparatively modest plans. They entered state spirit-shops and carried away the government receipts. Sometimes they thus held up several state establishments in a single day. Then they organized riots and tried in various ways to incite the mob to insurrection at such times when armed uprisings, even of a petty character, were a menace to the authorities. When a clash occurred between the military or police authorities and the populace, the Maximalists endeavored to assume the leadership of the crowd. In the hope of a general uprising at some future time the Maximalists deliberately set about training themselves for emergency action.

During February opportunities for this kind of work grew fewer, but the “confiscating” of government funds became their daily program. During these early weeks none of the Maximalists were ever caught. They worked openly, in broad daylight, and through sheer boldness invariably got safely away. In March came their first big affair. Twenty of them entered a Moscow bank in the heart of the city one forenoon, and while some of the party covered the directors and clerks with revolvers, others packed up eight hundred thousand rubles and the whole party withdrew. Not a trace was found of any of the men at that time, nor any of the money recovered, save a small sum which fell into the hands of the authorities some time later through an accident.

The circumstances of this incident were most dramatic. Two features of the raid created wide-spread comment: one of the band upon entering the bank had taken his stand by the telephone, and all the while the money{402} was being packed up he continued to receive all messages coming over the wire as if he were the regularly employed telephone clerk. The other incident betrayed the “gentlemanliness” of the robbers. One of the Maximalist group covered the directors’ room although there were several officials in the room at the time. One of the directors fainted in his chair, through fright, whereupon the Maximalist who commanded the situation told two of the others present to lay the fainting official on a lounge, and then directed one of them to fetch a glass of water from the next room!

The coolness with which this robbery was carried out excited the admiration even of those who scoffed at the idea that this money was for revolutionary purposes. This was perfectly true, nevertheless, for among the twenty who executed this raid were men of independent means, who declined to use any of this money for their actual personal expenses. Contributions were generously offered to different revolutionary organizations. At the time only a part was kept in the hands of the party for current expenses, and this was divided into many parts and given over for safe keeping into the hands of different members of the group. One, a student, had several thousand rubles in his keeping. He was one of the poor ones, a peasant’s son. Toward the end of the spring he used some of this money to pay his tuition at the technical school where he was studying. He did it openly, and frankly told his comrades that he had “borrowed” the money, a trifling sum, for this purpose. The action created so much adverse comment in the party that it was agreed that no one would ever again use party money for a personal need.

An accident led to the restoration of a portion of this stolen money. At the last moment before the raid one{403} more man was declared necessary. A young Moscow man named Belentzoff, not a member of the Maximalist group, but known to most of the members, was asked to join the raiders. He had courage and boldness, and these were the qualities needed. Belentzoff was assigned to a particular post. He was not to touch the money, but merely to guard a certain passage. To the surprise of the men assigned to gathering the funds, Belentzoff suddenly began to pack up some of the money. The leader of the party was disinclined to reveal to the bank men that there was the slightest discord in the group, so he permitted Belentzoff to continue handling the money. Having acquired all of the money in the bank, the party disappeared, to meet two days later at an appointed place. All appeared save Belentzoff. He was next heard from in Switzerland, whither he had fled with his part of the money, but unfortunately he was not a man of the same class as the others, as he had yielded to the temptation of drink. While under the influence of liquor he had disclosed his identity and told the story of the raid. The police captured him, and in due time he was extradited to Russia. As the train which was conveying Belentzoff to St. Petersburg neared the capital, the prisoner mysteriously disappeared. The soldiers who had him in charge declared he had jumped through the window, and in evidence pointed to a demolished window pane. The train was stopped and a tremendous search instituted, but to no end. Belentzoff was not found.

The explanation is entirely worthy of the Maximalists. Convinced that Belentzoff in the hands of the authorities was dangerous to the whole party, the Maximalists determined to rescue him. At Vilna several of them boarded the train which carried their whilom comrade.{404} A disguise in the form of an officer’s uniform, with necessary facial disguises, was left in the wash-room of the car in which Belentzoff was held prisoner. In some incredible way Belentzoff succeeded in making a lightning change of costume in the wash-room, and as an officer of the Czar took his place in the train as a passenger. I fancy there was a bottle of vodka connected with this incident, for otherwise it would have been difficult to have hoodwinked the soldiers. Belentzoff sat in the train while the woods and fields were being scoured for him, then traveled by the same train to St. Petersburg. That night he made good his escape into Finland.

In the meantime the bulk of the money had been handed over to the “cashier,” a man of reputation and position. During the days when the police were searching most vigorously for it, the money remained in the home of this man. A few weeks afterward 200,000 rubles of this money was deposited in the very bank from which it was stolen, and during the succeeding months interest was paid upon it, until it was eventually needed in the work!

The first reverse of a serious nature occurred to the Maximalists a few weeks after this successful bank-scoop. The police, baffled on every hand in their efforts to capture the band, resorted to the old-time successful method of an agent provocateur. Of the original seventy some ten had now paid the penalty of their reckless daring. So well did the agent provocateur do his work that forty-five of the remaining sixty were lodged behind prison bars. Some are still under arrest. Others finally were freed through lack of evidence, while others made bold and successful escapes.

The ideas that the Maximalists stood for were now beginning to be understood, and in spite of this{406}{405}

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The wreck of M. Stolypin’s room

M. Stolypin was in this room when the bomb exploded. Twenty-eight persons were killed and a score more wounded, but he was uninjured


tremendous set-back the party began suddenly to grow and develop fresh strength. Young blood from different parts of the country offered their services to the Maximalists. They were prepared to perform any commission that would be a blow against the government. The government was still in sore need for money as the new foreign loan had not then been negotiated, and so it seemed that the confiscation of government funds from every possible source was a most effective way of worrying the administration. Also, these robberies following one upon another in rapid succession, continuing for weeks, demonstrated to the world the weakness of the government in regard to its police administration, and helped to increase the feeling abroad of the government’s powerlessness. At the same time the revolution was in sad straits for money. The government had sent expeditions everywhere to disarm the people. To re-arm half of Russia every now and again is a huge task, and terribly costly; therefore, this policy of the Maximalists was practical revolutionary service (however one may regard it ethically), inasmuch as it was embarrassing to the government.

The next big plot was arranged in June. It was to blow up the ministers in the Duma. This plot has never before been disclosed, but I can vouch for its authenticity. Indeed I was conversant with the details of the plan from the day it was concocted.

The Duma had asked the ministers to resign. The Duma had gone further—it had demanded that the ministry resign. When any minister appeared in the Duma tribunal to speak, he was hissed and hooted. Yet there was no word of demission. The Maximalists then said: “As an auxiliary body it is now our duty to impress upon the whole world that the word of the Duma must{408} be obeyed. The Duma is the people. When the Duma cries to the ministers: ‘Resign’! that cry must be understood as coming from the country at large. Since they do not resign of their own will, the Maximalists will undertake to coerce them.”

The plan finally adopted was to teach all of the ministers of autocracy a grand lesson by blowing up as many of the ministers as could be caught together in an accessible place. At that time the ministers were frequenting the Duma. It was not unusual for five and six ministers and assistant ministers to gather in the ministerial box of an afternoon to listen to the people’s chosen representatives proclaiming diatribes against the wicked administration.

The Maximalists procured plans of the Duma, found a means of access through forged tickets carefully copied from an original ticket of admission, and the men who were to take part in the plot were all chosen. There were to be six men with bombs besides a “covering group.” Three of the six were to throw their bombs simultaneously, while the other three were to loiter in the background to watch the effect of the first fire. If any of the first three failed to explode, or if the damage done seemed insufficient, the others were to throw their packets of death and destruction. When this plan was about to be executed, the question arose among some of the members of the Maximalist group: is it wise to have this thing in the Duma? Will it not react unfavorably upon the Duma itself? Opinion was divided. In spite of these questionings, however, the plot would undoubtedly have been carried out as planned, in the Duma, had not a very curious chance intervened.

The men who were to throw the bombs were one afternoon scrutinizing the plans when some one pointed out{409} that the ministerial box was separated from the foreign correspondents’ box only by a narrow aisle. Some, if not all, of the correspondents would thus inevitably be made victims of the explosions. The carefully arranged plot was there and then abandoned on grounds that correspondents were, theoretically at least, non-combatants, and as such must not be exposed to death in this way.

The determination to do away with the ministers, however, was not abandoned at this time, and the question next to be settled was: where else are the ministers sometimes gathered together? Why, in the upper house, or Council of Empire. Therefore plans of that building were obtained, and as there was no press-box in juxtaposition to the ministerial box, it seemed as if the plot would be carried out here. But about that time the dissolution of the Duma—early in July—caused a suspension of the sittings of the Council of Empire, and thereby was this plan of the Maximalists frustrated.

The sanguinary mutinies at Sveaborg and Kronstadt, which followed the dissolution of the Duma, were encouraged by Maximalists and among the “agitators” captured at both places were members of this fighting group. Wherever there is a fighting line, there are sure to be Maximalists.

The bomb incident in the home of M. Stolypin early in the autumn, which cost a score of lives and wounded twoscore others, was the work of Maximalists.

The last week in October was marked by the most daring coup ever planned by the Maximalists. It was in connection with this episode that I came nearest to the heart of this form of terroristic activity.{410}



A midnight meeting—An unusual request—Four women of “the movement”—A sharp engagement—How the plot was carried out—Plans for escape—Disappointment—An educated cab driver—A bold scheme—A unique “bridal” party—No news—Alarm—On the trail—A gendarme companion—Suspicious incidents—A night alarm—Caught—A desperate chance—“Au revoir”—Found—Back to the fight—Watched—Final escape.

ONE silver night in late October I was returning home a little before midnight. St. Petersburg was subdued, but not hushed. Gorodavoys paced the Nevsky with their bayonet-pointed guns unslung. Not that they were anticipating trouble, but readiness for emergencies was now the rule among the military and the police in the capital. As I stepped briskly down the Ekaterinesky Canal toward my street I suddenly came upon my friend, Nastasia, of the fighting organization.

“So late and alone!” I exclaimed.

“I have been waiting half the evening for you,” she explained.

“For me? Is it so urgent?”

“Yes. You know—” She hesitated. “You know, there have been many arrests these days in St. Petersburg.”

Nastasia was coming to something, but what I could not divine.{411}

“We are all liable to search,” she went on. “Perhaps you will not mind keeping some papers for us?”

This was no unusual request. People who expected the police often handed packets of correspondence, legal papers, and other documents to friends who were not suspected. In common with many other non-Russians in St. Petersburg I had frequently accepted such a trust. An English correspondent had brought the original copy of the Viborg manifesto with its appended signatures back to St. Petersburg, at the request of the leaders of the Constitutional Democrats. Without a second thought I told Nastasia I would gladly keep anything for her, then turned, and together we walked to her house.

Nastasia was living on the top floor of a large apartment building, with three other girls—all members of the organization, although one was ostensibly a student in the university, one was studying music at the conservatory, one was a teacher, and Nastasia was professionally a nurse. Nastasia had been with the troops in Manchuria and after Mukden her hospital was among those that fell into the hands of the Japanese.

When we arrived the three other girls were sitting round a samovar, talking. Two of them puffed little Russian cigarettes. I drank a glass of tea with them, took the papers they gave me, and departed. I heard the Kazan bells sound one as I poked the sleeping dwornik of my own lodgings, to open the door for me.

The next morning I left home at eleven o’clock. I had not passed many yards beyond the Hotel Victoria in the Kazanskiai when the report of two light bombs, followed presently by a rattling revolver fire and gun cracks, sounded on a street only two blocks away. When I reached the spot the confusion and tumult was so great that I was unable to make anything of the mêlée. The{412} first thing I came upon was a wounded horse streaming blood into a gutter. Around the corner was a general riot of panicky men and women, terrified horses, and stolid Cossacks and police. A carriage was standing in the middle of the road—deserted. One of the horses that belonged to it was lying dead in its tracks. Windowpanes for a block and a half were shattered. There seemed to be wounded and killed men, and a number of arrests, but my impression was mostly a blur, with here and there a projecting detail.

Intuitively I felt a connection between this incident—whatever it was—and my experience with Nastasia the night before. The more I thought about it the more curious I became. I hurried over to Nastasia’s, only to find the apartment deserted.

In the early afternoon I learned from various eye-witnesses what had happened. The carriage I had seen standing in the street had been conveying some government moneys across the city. The trip was supposedly secret, and the carriage was guarded by Cossacks. The government had learned before this not to convey money anywhere at stated times or intervals. Only one man was supposed to know when a trip should be made, and this one was always a man of such rank, or position, as to have authority to order the military escort on the spur of the moment. To this day it is not known how the terrorists—Maximalists as it chanced—knew of this particular transfer of money. All that the government authorities ever learned about the affair were the bare facts of the exploit.

An apple-vender strolling down the street of the Catharine Canal had paused to rest his basket on the canal railing. Opposite the spot where he stood was a little tea-house into which nearly a score of young men had{413}

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An “expropriation”

Government money was being carried across the city of St. Petersburg in this carriage. A light bomb was thrown, killing the horse and confusing the Cossack guard. Revolutionists then made off with the bags of money.



been dropping singly and by twos. There was also one girl. Apparently these young people were not acquainted with one another, but it was remarked afterward that they all looked rather constantly out of the restaurant toward the canal—and the apple-man plaintively calling his fruit.

Suddenly the basket of apples was seen to slip off the railing and the fruit splashed into the murky water. Twenty chairs were pushed back, twenty young men pressed toward the street. A closed carriage with armed escort was approaching the spot. Boom! Boom! Two quick explosions dropped the horses that drew the carriage and the horses of the escort snorted and plunged wildly down the street. The young men now all fell to the work with wonderful skill and precision. One group drew a cordon of protection around the carriage, while another group approached the carriage and collected the bags of money.

The affair was carried out with more coolness than speed, and in consequence the raiders found a company of soldiers from a near-by barracks down upon them before they started to escape. So well did the protecting party do their work that not one of the attacking party was caught or injured. The leader of the Maximalist group lost his life in trying to prevent the crowd in the street from rushing to its own destruction. Knowing that a street crowd instinctively rushes toward the scene of excitement, and knowing that a rifle and revolver fire would be directed toward the carriage where the Maximalists were capturing the money, Sergia, the leader, patrolled the street, forcing the crowd to keep at a safe distance. He brandished a Browning revolver and roared thunderous curses upon the people; he fought them back, and continued in this work until captured.{416} Three days later he was executed. Another of the protecting party, a young engineer, was captured in the same effort, and his revolver taken from his hand. He knew he would be hanged, and that in all probability the government would first try to wring a confession from him that would implicate others. In his pocket was another revolver which his captors had not discovered. He could not get it out of his pocket, but he succeeded in so turning it that when he pulled the trigger the bullet passed through his bowels. He died half an hour later, in horrible agony.

The money was delivered over to the girl who had been standing in waiting. She carried the packages to a carriage just around the corner and was driven swiftly off. Not one copeck of the (approximately) four hundred thousand rubles was ever recovered by the government. From this standpoint the affair was successful, but it was successful at an awful cost. Including those whose lives were lost on the spot and the executions which followed, eight of the group died for this well planned haul of two hundred thousand dollars. Incidentally, three innocent passers-by were also arrested and executed. Justice must be satisfied in Russia. Up to this point my connection with the affair was slight and of small consequence, but that night I allowed myself to be entangled to an extent that escape came near to being impossible.

About dusk, when I returned to my lodgings, I found Nastasia and two young men sitting round my table awaiting my coming. I knew both of the men as Maximalists. One of them, Sasha, was the son of one of the old generation revolutionists, who had spent many years in incarceration in Schlüsselburg Fortress. He and Nastasia were lovers. Love in the revolution has played no mean part. It has inspired deeds of noblest daring, it{417} has led to splendid sacrifice. Sometimes it has proved unsettling and precipitated disaster.

The instant I looked at my friends I knew my suspicions of the morning were correct. They were perfectly frank about it. The men were both implicated. Nastasia was not directly concerned in the affair, but she was one of the group, and consequently in constant fear of being taken as a suspect. Indeed, the very name I knew her by, and her passport, were newly acquired, and under dramatic circumstances. She had been “working” in Moscow previous to the December insurrection, and under her own name was sought by the police. During the barricade-fighting Nastasia saw a girl comrade shot down near her. With sudden inspiration she bent over the dead girl and drew forth her passport, then quickly slipped her own passport into the place of the one she was taking. Nastasia’s name appeared in the list of the dead, and thenceforth she was known by the name of the girl who had fallen on the barricades.

Escape from St. Petersburg, and if possible from Russia, was the subject of their discussion. They had come to my house because they feared their own quarters would be suspected and watched. Presumably mine was a “white” house on the police records.

These “soldiers of the revolution” were naturally elated at the success of the coup, but frightfully depressed by the loss of life which had attended the “expropriation.” One thing only now lay before them—the getting away. The police were ransacking every house in the city. Orders were issued that afternoon that doorkeepers should report before morning if any one without a passport remained over night in any house. Ordinarily there is a grace of three days, but this fresh order commanded reports to be made before daybreak. Eighty{418} arrests had already been made. The railway stations were filled with police spies and gendarmes, and every person leaving by any train was scrutinized. The wagon roads were covered by soldiers, and the boats leaving the ports were observed as carefully as the trains. Sasha was inclined to risk remaining in the city for a day or two at least, but Nastasia, knowing that to be caught meant immediate execution, would not hear of delay. She was determined that Sasha at least should hasten to safety that night. I had no suggestions to make, though I wished them well, and went out to supper, leaving them still discussing a possible plan. I returned about nine-thirty. The three were still there, and with a plan worked out.

Sasha was to dress as a foreigner—say an Englishman—and taking me for a companion, he would boldly take the night train to Helsingfors in Finland. Nastasia and the other man had each a different idea for themselves. I was not keen to start upon this expedition. But they were my friends. Furthermore, Nastasia had once seen me through an exceedingly ticklish experience, and this was the first time she had asked anything of me. When I hesitated she pleaded so earnestly that I finally consented to the plan.

There was no time to lose. Sasha donned one of my overcoats, an obviously English hat, threw a steamer-rug over one arm, picked up a top hat-box, and we were off. The heavy end of the trip fell to me. Sasha was to know no Russian whatsoever. I, with my scant traveler’s vocabulary, was to do all of the interpreting that might be necessary. Sasha, unfortunately, knew not a word of English. Our conversation had, therefore, to be in German. The danger was increased considerably by the fact that Sasha had no passport at all. Masquerading as an{419} English traveler there was small use of his having anything but an English passport—which, of course, was not procurable on the moment. I held my usual American passport.

Ten-thirty had long been the hour of departure of the Helsingfors train. It was twenty-six minutes past the hour when Sasha and I dismissed our carriage and walked slowly and with a degree of nonchalance into the station. Gendarmes stood in rows between the ticket office and the platform. Sasha was magnificently steeled for the ordeal. He knew we would be looked over by perhaps a score of eyes, and a single suspicious movement might lead to discovery. He stopped near the middle of the station and lighted a cigarette while I stepped to the wicket to purchase the tickets.

“Two first-class tickets to Helsingfors by the ten-thirty train.”

“It is gone, sir.”

“What! Gone! But it is not yet ten-thirty!”

“The schedule was changed to-day, sir. The last train left at ten-ten.”

My heart sank clear to my boots, for I knew what a shock it would be to Sasha, who had risen so well to the rôle he had assumed, so I inquired if there was a train to any point in Finland that night. There was none. There would not be another until the next morning.

Sasha flinched never so slightly when I told him and his face paled perceptibly, but he picked up the hat-box he had set down and led the way out of the station. We called a cab and started back for my rooms. On the way we arranged that Sasha would come to me the next night at seven o’clock and we would try it again. Then, leaving the luggage and the rug with me, he slipped noiselessly out of the carriage without the driver even{420} knowing. All that night he wandered among the sheltering shadows, dodging gendarmes and late prowlers. I don’t know where he lay in hiding during the day. When I got in at the appointed time Sasha was asleep on my couch, apparently in no way troubled by the great peril that threatened.

I do not exaggerate the danger. Many more arrests had been made during the day, and early that evening a comrade not under suspicion had learned that the force of police spies in the stations had been greatly strengthened by the arrival of a party of Moscow police department men, and these had brought with them photographs of several men whom they were looking for, among them a photograph of Sasha. Sasha had once been “taken” in Moscow and escaped, but not before being photographed. This picture was now reproduced on slips of paper like handbills and circulated among the watchers. This knowledge shook even Nastasia in regard to the wisdom of repeating our plan of the previous evening. However, something had to be done, and that quickly, for the noise of this successful coup had echoed all over the empire, and the St. Petersburg authorities were goaded to great activity in the hope of making up in the number of arrests for their alleged negligence on the day of the incident. The chances of escape were growing hourly less, and a fear seemed to possess both Nastasia and Sasha that perhaps even my house was no longer safe. Yet in St. Petersburg they had no other.

Sasha scribbled a few mysterious words in Russian on one piece of paper and a name and address on another, and handed both to me, asking me to carry the note to the address on the second slip of paper. I rushed away without looking at the address, jumped into a cab that{421} happened to be standing in front of the house, and directed that I be driven to—to—to—I could not make out the writing—

“Let me read it,” offered the driver.

“No—you can’t,” I said. “It is not written in Russian.”

“No matter,” said he, “I read German.”

“But it is not German. It is French.”

C’est bien. Je parle français.

I had heard of government agents acting as cab-drivers, but I realized instantly that I was now, for the first time, face to face with one of these spies. For a Russian cab-driver to be familiar with French and German is even more extraordinary than it would be to find a New York or London cabby speaking two languages besides his own.

Pretending to read the address I called out an address in an entirely different quarter of the city. I discharged that fellow, and looked about for one of the usual peasant drivers such as are always found on the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg, having finally deciphered the address and put it into Russian. My driver left me before a very grand house in a fashionable quarter. I was admitted with considerable ceremony. The atmosphere of the establishment was much more like that of the court than of anything else. Presently a young exquisite introduced himself to me as the man whose name Sasha had given me.

“Sasha wants me. Where is he?” he said.

“At my house,” I replied. “But you are at dinner—”

“Dinner can wait. Where is your house?”

I told him.

“Is it a ‘white’ house?” he inquired further.

I told him it was to the best of my knowledge, where{422}upon he slipped on a rich greatcoat and we returned together.

Sasha and this mysterious stranger embraced like brothers. They kissed each other repeatedly. Whatever their business was it was quickly despatched, for in ten minutes the young man departed. Sasha never offered any explanation concerning him, but I have always suspected that he was one of the treasurers of the organization, for these are usually men of social standing above suspicion.

When the stranger had gone Sasha unfolded to me the plan for the night. The Finnish frontier was so closely guarded that to escape in that direction seemed impossible. They had decided upon a bold scheme that would succeed if only it were carried out with sufficient dash.

A first-class compartment for two was engaged on the gilt-edged St. Petersburg-Moscow train which leaves St. Petersburg at ten-thirty every evening. Nastasia dressed as a bride, Sasha as a bridegroom. A party of half a dozen friends got together in proper attire for the wedding party seeing the happy couple started on their way.

Sasha being without a passport was the one obviously vulnerable point in the outfit. If any suspicious gendarme should happen to question the pair a passport of any kind would probably disarm his suspicions, whereas no passport at all would mean sure arrest.

“Lend Sasha your passport,” Nastasia said to me.

“Mine! Oh, I can’t do that!” I explained.

“Why not? It may be the means of saving his life. If he gets caught to-night without a passport he will be executed. Let him have yours for this night only. From Moscow it will be returned to you.{423}

I hesitated a long time but finally handed my precious identification paper over to Sasha.

At ten-twenty-nine exactly, a noisy, rollicking crowd of young people swept into the Moscow station. A bride and groom led the way, followed by several friends who pelted them with flowers and confetti. The rows of gendarmes whom we passed between smiled broadly and evidently never suspected that the whole party was a ruse. We all knew that several of the men under whose very noses we passed held in their pockets photographs of Sasha. I closed the compartment door as the daring couple stumbled hurriedly into the train. A half-minute later the three-bells signal of departure sounded and the train pulled away.

The next morning we waited for the telegram Sasha had promised to send announcing their arrival in Moscow. By noon we began to grow anxious. When evening came, and nothing had been heard from them, our worry increased. The next morning brought neither message nor my passport, which should have come then. That day wore by and the morning of the third day dawned, and still no word. We were all prepared, now, to hear the worst. One thing puzzled us. Why did the police not make public their capture—if they were taken? Every other arrest made in connection with this incident was promptly made known. We pondered over this a good deal. Finally, on the evening of the third day, we called together a council of trusted friends and the opinion of the conference was that Nastasia and Sasha had been taken; that my passport had probably occasioned some bewilderment, and until the rightful owner of the passport was found the capture would not be made public. Sasha, we knew, would give no hint as to where I might be found, and it would naturally take several days to locate me. This{424} being the best understanding of the situation we could reach, the precariousness of my own position was apparent to all. If I were so directly implicated in a terrorist act as the finding of my passport in Sasha’s possession would imply, no power on earth could save me from the fate which had befallen all the others implicated in the incident.

Opinion was divided as to the wise thing for me to do. Two or three urged me to fly to the frontier at once—that very hour. Others counseled that I go to Moscow first to make sure of the fate of our friends and my passport, for Sasha had promised that if he was taken he would do all he could to destroy the passport. If he had succeeded in this I would merely have to obtain a fresh passport—there are always ways of doing that. The latter plan appealed to me, so I procured a seat in the same train they had traveled by three nights earlier. I took with me a dress-suit case containing necessary clothing and—alas! for the foolishness of men!—two terribly incriminating packets. No one thought I would be arrested in the train en route to Moscow, and so it did not occur to any of us that there was peril in my carrying two valuable packages to comrades in Moscow. The first was a bundle of original Peasants’ Union documents. At that time to even belong to the Peasants’ Union was sufficient cause for exile to Siberia. The other was twenty copies of one of the instalments of Shisko’s “History of the Russian People,” which had been forbidden by the police, and to be possessed of one copy was cause for arrest. Further, in my pocket I slipped a Browning revolver, although I had no permit to carry a revolver at all in that part of Russia. Russians themselves are constantly foolishly careless, but until this night I had not understood how easy it is to be blind to{425} one’s dangers when they are close before one, or hedging one round.

Until the train had actually started I had no companion in the compartment, although there were places for four. But as the bells sounded and the train started an officer of gendarmes joined me. He sat down opposite me, looked me over rather searchingly and asked me in Russian what was the time.

“What a stupid question,” I thought. “He must know when the train starts.”

However, I told him:—“ten-thirty.” I could speak single words in Russian clearly enough, and I could understand much of simple conversation, but I could not put many sentences together with any intelligence.

“Where are you going?” next asked my officer companion.

“To Moscow,” I replied.

There was something in the man’s glance that made me very uncomfortable, so I drew from my grip a book and began to read. I was conscious for some time of his eyes scrutinizing me from head to foot. I tried not to let him know I knew he was watching me. I fought down my fears and read on.

In half an hour the officer opened his grip and took out a small pneumatic traveling-pillow. I saw the full contents of the bag. There was one Russian blouse and the pillow, nothing more. The grip itself was a large one—twice the size of my dress-suit case—and the fact that he would use so huge a valise to carry a pillow that would go into a pocket, and a blouse that would fold into an insignificant parcel, confirmed my fears that the man had been sent hurriedly on his journey, and that quite evidently he was shadowing me.

There was nothing to do, however, but to keep on and{426} to pretend entire indifference. After a time I grew drowsy and folded my coat under my head for a pillow, wrapped my rug about me, and lay down. The last thing I did was to examine the compartment-door to see that it was securely fastened. The train was running over a smooth roadbed and the gentle motion to and fro soothed my nerves and in a little while I fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.

The striking of a match awoke me suddenly. I half opened my eyes and saw my gendarme officer looking at his watch. It was still dark, and I drowsily wondered what the time was myself. I was too sleepy to look at my own watch. I guessed the hour at about four o’clock, closed my eyes, and was just sinking into sleep again when I felt a hand reach across my body and strike the compartment wall. At the same instant the hoarse voice of the gendarme officer cried out:

“Sir! Sir! Wake up!”

I opened my eyes wide to see the man leaning over me, his arm across my body, and his face directly over mine, so close that I could feel his foul breath with each word he spoke.

“Has any one been in this compartment during the night?” he shouted excitedly.

I understood perfectly what he said but I did not grasp his game, so I simply said, “What?” and as he repeated his question I gathered my wits.

“I do not speak Russian,” I said.

“Yes, you do,” he replied.

“No. Only a few words. I am an American!”

“An American!” he cried. “That is impossible!”

I saw the trap I was walking into. His next demand would be for my passport, so I shifted the matter like a flash.{427}

“What is the matter?” I said. “Why do you wake me up in the middle of the night this way?”

“Has any one been in this compartment?” he asked.

“No, I think not,” I answered.

“Did you make sure the door was locked last night?”

“Certainly. Is it not locked now?”

“Yes. It is. That is what makes it so strange.”

“Makes what strange?” I put in, really getting greatly puzzled.

“My money and my official papers are gone!” he blurted out.

At these words I felt a shiver pass up my back. For a flash it was as if my spine were in water. Then I pulled myself together.

“When did you have them last?” I asked.

“Just before I went to bed,” he answered.

“Then they must be here.”

In the meantime he had drawn the curtain back from the single candle that lighted the compartment and in that dim light we sat in opposite berths and glared at each other.

The seriousness of my plight came over me very clearly. I was without any means of identification. My passport was in the possession of a terrorist—or the police, having been found in the possession of a terrorist—my luggage contained one packet upon which a Russian would be sent to Siberia, another package which would send a Russian to prison, a revolver in my pocket at a time when the law permitted the military to shoot any person caught with a revolver with his own weapon, I was practically under arrest as a common thief because this gendarme’s money and papers had disappeared—the situation was so overwhelming that for the first time in my life I failed to see even a fighting chance.{428}

Murder has never, at any time, been in my heart. But there in that ghastly light—with the gendarme officer sitting opposite me like a panther about to spring, with the shadow of arrest, prison, and the gallows itself over me, the thought did enter my head to shoot my captor. It was his life against mine. I felt sure I could draw my revolver and fire before he could prevent me. But then what? The report of the shot would startle the passengers in other compartments, it would bring the trainmen—I could not drop out of the window of an express train. I realized that that was out of the question. My brain was never more active, never half so clear, it seemed to me, and my nerves were under absolute control. Yet I could not think of the faintest loophole of escape. In despair I sank back on my improvised pillow—I would see what the officer’s next move would be.

A silhouette of a beam and cross-bar with a dangling rope weighted by a black mass set against a roseate eastern sky at dawn came before my eyes with all the clearness of a ship seen in mirage. At least I would be hung for an old sheep, I mused, remembering the array of points on which I would be arraigned, ranging in seriousness from the charge of being a pickpocket and common thief, to implication in a terroristic act.

After some minutes the gendarme summoned the conductor, who looked me over critically and shook his head. Then the two began to search with apparent diligence for the lost articles, in and under the officer’s bed. When they had looked there pretty thoroughly the gendarme approached my things.

Like a flash it came over me that he might have slipped his portfolio or money into my shoes, or under my coat. If this were the case I preferred finding them myself, so I sprang to my feet, angrily pushed him away, and be{429}gan to shake out all of my things carefully before the officer and the train-guard. Nothing was found. The officer then turned to my dress suit-case. I knew I was lost if once he saw into that, so I began a veritable tirade, using all the Russian I knew, supplemented by German, French, and English. I saw that the conductor was beginning to be impressed by the fact that I might be a distinguished foreigner. Or (there was another thought) he might believe me a sympathizer of the cause, and, he also being a revolutionist, had determined to assist me.

Suddenly my eye fell on the alleged lost leather document case, under the officer’s pillow, where anybody must have seen it who looked at that end of his berth at all.

My discovery clearly embarrassed the officer, and disgusted the trainman, who slammed the door and left. The officer, too, looked as if he didn’t know what to do. I fell back on my pillow and went to sleep very shortly. I was weak from the strain, and I knew well that I was not out of the woods. I had merely put off the crisis till morning.

The train rolled into Moscow at half-past-eight. My gendarme was plainly agitated, and at a loss how to act. I sized up the situation in this way: He had been dispatched from St. Petersburg to follow me as a “suspect” and to take me prisoner on any pretext that might offer. His departure had of necessity been so hasty that his information concerning me was scanty. He had naturally supposed he was after a Russian. In the evening I had answered his simple questions in monosyllables which sounded all right, then in the night when he had tried to trap me I had revealed to him that I was not a Russian and this fact had completely disconcerted him. Also my leaning back in despair he had mistaken for{430} genuine nonchalance. A guilty man, he had evidently thought, would not be so indifferent under the circumstances. When the train stopped I could see that he was uncertain how to act—to arrest me or not. I feared he would take the opportunity of winning a little glory for himself by taking me on chance, so I determined to take advantage of his stupidity and hesitancy. I held out my hand in a most friendly way, gave him a hearty grip, raised my hat, bade him a cheery good-by, and just as he started to act I sprang from the train, threw myself into the crowd—and—surprise of surprises! felt a hand reach for my suit-case and a familiar voice say:

“Let me take this.”


“Come quickly out of this,” he murmured, and we hastened into a carriage and drove to the home of a mutual friend.

Comrades in Moscow, who had been notified of the coming of Sasha and Nastasia by a secret-code telegram, had sent a messenger to a station nearly half-way between the two cities to warn them that the dangers in the Moscow station for a day or two would be too great for them to think of arriving there.

Thereupon they had left the train at a small water station and lay in hiding three days. From there it had not been possible for them to send any word to us in St. Petersburg. Nastasia had taken a circuitous route into Moscow, while Sasha had boarded the very train I was on, thus we arrived to-day.

My passport was returned to me, and I quickly delivered up my dangerous packets.

Sasha planned to leave for the south immediately, but a soldier of the revolution is never master of his own destiny. In the early afternoon a cipher telegram came{431} from St. Petersburg urging Sasha’s return there that night.

This seemed the height of folly to me. After jeopardizing his own life, and the lives of others, to get away from St. Petersburg and then to turn right back again—this was more than I could understand. But Sasha knew that more lives depended upon his obedience, so he prepared to leave that evening. Trains from Moscow back to St. Petersburg were not apt to be so closely watched as those going out.

Sasha thought to go on the nine-thirty train. I went to the station with him, for he seemed to have a strong premonition that he was about to perform his last service for the cause to which his life was dedicated.

When I tried to purchase a ticket I was told that there was not a place left on the train. Sasha had, therefore, to wait for the ten-thirty train. We sat down at a table in the buffet and ordered two glasses of tea.

Presently a member of the Moscow organization, a friend of Sasha’s, stepped up to us, pointed out a certain man at an adjoining table and said: “Watch that fellow carefully. He is a spy. He may be shadowing you—or maybe some one else—but watch him.”

We did watch him for half an hour and became pretty well convinced that he was following Sasha.

Ten minutes before train-time a brilliantly dressed woman swept by us. I looked up and I own I was badly startled. I recognized her as one of the women secret police of St. Petersburg. Only the day before she had sat at the very next table to me in the Hôtel de France in St. Petersburg. Now, thirty hours later, she was in Moscow. By shifting our positions several times we made out with almost equal surety that she, too, was shadowing us. But Sasha, knowing that his nerves and{432} my own were badly strained at that time, was loath to be frightened out of his course. Two bells sounded and we started for the train. At the gate where tickets are examined Sasha looked back and saw the man whom we had been warned against immediately behind me; just beyond the gate stood the woman whose face I knew so well. She seemed to be waiting for some one. Four weeks later I learned quite accidentally that this very woman had been on my trail more or less continuously for several months.

Sasha and I both took in the situation at a glance and Sasha whispered to me: “I don’t want to die to-morrow! This job, at any rate, must be finished first.”

We boarded the train, passed through the cars, dropped off the other side into the yard, and got into a side street behind the station. Once more the police net closed empty.

The next day Sasha made his way to St. Petersburg via Vilna. Two weeks later he participated in a terrorist coup near Kieff, then fled to Warsaw and the Polish frontier. He paid some money to a Jew whom he knew of, who smuggled him into Austria one night. Three months later, when I was in Paris, I called on Sasha and Nastasia where they were living on a top floor of a house on a street leading off the Boulevard Saint Michel opposite to the Luxembourg Gardens. They were both working hard at chemistry, agriculture, history, and philosophy, looking forward to the time when they could reënter their own country to participate in the final overthrow of the autocracy and then serve as teachers of the people through the long, serious period of the reconstruction.{433}



Yusofka for a week-end—An exciting journey—A late welcome—Guarded slumber—The story of Yusofka—The Black Country of Russia—Time of small consequence to Russian workmen—Russian holidays numerous—The working-day—Cost of living not low—Coal mines—The Artel—Morality—The drink question—Through a Russian coal mine—The Russian engineer an obstacle to progress—Child-labor laws good—Conditions compared with Scotland and Pennsylvania—Comparative wage scale—Standards of living—Departure from Yusofka.

MR. MEDHURST, the charming and companionable British consul for southeast Russia, urged my visiting Yusofka in the government of Yekaterinoslaff.

“Come down for a week-end,” he urged. “You will see the deepest mines and the biggest mills in the country. You will find conditions favorable for visiting the workmen in their homes as well as watching them at work. And, besides, you will see a British colony in Russia that I am prouder of than anything else in this whole country.”

We were then in Rostov-on-Don. Yusofka is difficult to reach from any point, but Mr. Medhurst wired Mr. Arthur Hughes, who was in command of the “works” at Yusofka that we were leaving Rostov early that evening, and would reach a certain junction at 1 A.M. From this junction to Yusofka the railroad is owned by the{434} New Russia Company, and a special train would have to be sent to meet us.

The ride to Tagenrock on the Sea of Azov through the gathering night was quickly made, and from there our road turned west and inward. Mr. Medhurst told me fascinating tales of ancient Greek towns along the way, towns lost to the world centuries ago. The mounds of crumbled dwellings, storm-swept through long years, are almost wholly screened by the soil and turf that sea-winds have blown over them, but the story of their forgotten glory will be disclosed when science or commerce toss aside the accumulations of the centuries revealing the buried temples, the homes of the traders, the relics of a dead civilization.

In a drenching rain-storm we transferred to the private train that was to convey us to Yusofka. It wasn’t much of a train—a small freight engine, and a box-car—but it answered the purpose. We rattled noisily through the black, tempestuous night toward the flaring furnaces of Yusofka which we could plainly see ahead. Suddenly there was a tremendous shriek from the engine, the brakes shut down and the train brought to such a rough standstill that both Medhurst and I fell over. The grimy head of the engineer poked through the door and in a terrified voice the man cried:

“Oh, barin, barin [master, master], what’s to be done? Another train is coming this way on our track!”

There was no doubt in my mind what was to be done. In the phrase of the sea I would order “full speed astern.”

Not so Medhurst.

With the nonchalance of an Englishman in full command of himself and the situation Medhurst replied:

“Go back to your engine. Open your whistle, ring{435} your bell—if you have one—drive ahead at top speed, make enough noise to warn every train on the track; if they don’t hear—run through them!”

I trembled at these words. But Medhurst knew the men he was dealing with. The other train pulled up and backed away the instant our whistle began to toot, and we rolled into Yusofka station in safety.

Mr. Hughes had sent a carriage for us, a great open barouche drawn by a pair of magnificent black Orloff horses that traveled over the ground much faster than the local trains.

The Hughes’ house is like a delightful English country home, built for comfort, with ample room for guests, and a large stable across the court.

Arthur Hughes welcomed us, and led us directly to a tempting supper—hot soup and a cold bird.

“You’ll forgive my sending a goods-car for you, gentlemen,” he began, almost before we got into the house; “but the mother of one of the men fell ill and we had to send her to a hospital on another line. I knew you would rather ride in the goods-car, so I sent her off in the regular car.”

It was nearing four o’clock when Hughes showed me my room. As he said good night he lingered at the threshold as if anxious to say something.

“What is it?” I asked.

“Say, old man, I hate like the deuce to say it—you are my guest and all that, you know—but we are in bad times now. You won’t mind putting your revolver within easy reach, will you?”

I laughed and assured him I was quite accustomed to that in Russia.

But Hughes was obviously chagrined that he had to make the request.{436}

“The house is guarded,” he added, “and everything will probably be all right, but we have to be prepared for anything, you know. Good night.”

Mr. Medhurst and I got up late next morning, and as we lingered over a delicious English breakfast, eating slice after slice of toast and marmalade, and drinking far more tea than usual, because it was English breakfast tea, which is a rarity in Russia, he told me the romance of Yusofka.

Fifty years ago Russia was almost completely given over to peasant life, the simple wants of the people being supplied by home industries, which are still maintained. Foreign prospectors were the first to realize the vast possibilities of Russia’s natural resources and to begin to prove them. The pioneer among these foreigners was one John Hughes, a Welshman, who discovered in the government of Yekaterinoslaff, near the Sea of Azov, rich deposits of iron and coal. Hughes was the hard-headed son of a blacksmith who stubbornly fought his way upward until he had become a master shipbuilder. He knew all about iron, and much about steel. He knew, too, that in an undeveloped country like Russia, it would be impracticable to utilize to advantage on any large scale the richest iron deposits, if coal had to be transported. After a good deal of searching he found both minerals in juxtaposition in south Russia. Coal-mining was then so new a thing to Russia that there was no coal-mining caste. It had to be created. John Hughes sent to Wales for a number of tried Welsh miners, who came out with their families and set up a British industrial community. The idea of Hughes was to make his British men foremen, as soon as possible, in order to establish an industrial class among Russian workmen.{437}

Simultaneously with the inauguration of this enterprise, Russia began to build thousands of miles of railroads, and to encourage the foreign investor, subsidized the Company in the form of advance orders of such magnitude that the New Russia Company, as it was called, in a few years was employing twelve thousand workmen and paying an annual dividend of over twenty per cent. The British workmen, to-day, are all foremen and managers. The workmen are all Russians.

Thus the iron- and steel-workers and the coal-miners came into existence in Russia. Other companies, especially under French and Belgian initiative, followed John Hughes and his New Russia Company into the field.

The English employers introduced British housing conditions, and British systems so that the Russians early had the advantage of Western methods. Wages were low, and still are, because throughout the country wages are low. Sporadic strikes have occurred; but there are no trade unions as yet. It seems to have been the policy of the foreign companies to pay their workmen, who have come out to Russia from abroad, more than the same men would have received at home, but to pay the Russian workmen the current wages of the country.

The name Yusofka is a corruption of Hughesofka, from John Hughes. Mr. Arthur Hughes, my host, the grandson of old John Hughes, was the only member of the family left at the works of the New Russia Company to deal with the men and look after the vast and valuable properties, the holdings of the Company.

There is always a deal of romance about engineers who carry civilization into the wilderness, who wrest earth’s treasures from remote plains and unexplored mountains,{438} whether in Mexico or the Andes, South Africa or interior Russia. My experience has been that these men are always workaday fellows who resent it when the picturesque and the heroic side of their lives is mentioned; and Hughes was no exception. A rich man, the son of a now wealthy family, educated at a leading English technical school, and in the Carnegie works in Pittsburg, an expert in the Bessemer process, a cultivated English gentleman in thought, instincts, manner and speech; only thirty; master of twelve thousand restless, wretched workmen, in a foreign country in time of revolution and general lawlessness, and his life constantly threatened; once, when he rescued a young Jewish girl from drunken Cossacks; again, when he recklessly interfered to save a lot of stupid workmen from a Black Hundred entanglement—such is Hughes. He lives absolutely alone, and coolly attends to business day after day, striving to maintain the precedence of his Company over all others in Russia, through the merit and quality of the goods produced.

After a day or two I began to understand what Mr. Medhurst meant when he urged me to remain at Yusofka a fortnight.

“Hughes will be delighted,” he said, “to have some one to whom he can talk in his own tongue—and, besides, it makes another gun in the house.”

As it turned out I remained ten days. During that time Hughes did everything a perfect and generous host could do, not only in regard to helping me to all of the information I wanted concerning the lives of the workmen, but also to make my visit happy. Late afternoons we would ride out over the rolling steppe, straight away as the crow flies, and come back by the compass when night began to fall. Evenings I was initiated into the in{439}tricacies of chess, which I had never before had the boldness to approach.

The great industrial section of Russia corresponding to the “black country” of England, is in the provinces of the south, chiefly about Yekaterinoslaff. Here are the deepest coal-pits, the largest factories and forges, the richest iron-mines. Here, across the miles of intervening steppe, between the villages and towns, are always visible the towering stacks of “works.” The nights are made fascinating by the clouds of fire that ever and anon belch starward from the mighty furnaces which melt the ore to fluid, and where are fashioned the rails destined to join East with West and North with South, and the girders which shall span the great rivers. The steppe is a place of vast silence. The widest expanses of the world’s oceans are not lonelier. But where the work and industry of man have possessed the steppes, claimed the earth and all that lies beneath the fields of waving grain, reared structures of stone and metal for the molding and fashioning of civilization’s necessities from these crude riches, silence there is none, neither night nor day. The summer winds which gently bow the corn on the encircling fields are ladened with the sounds of mighty hammer-strokes, grinding wheels, the shrieks of whistles and the labored puffing of the engines. Over the steppe broods the mystic spell of limitless nature. Over the industrial plains, which are the steppe in transition, is the palpable heart-beat of the workaday world. And the men whose labor is the soul of these great industries are themselves like the country, of the past and of the future. Few have permanently left the soil. The men who swelter in the glare and blinding heat of the blast furnaces, who turn the cooling metal in the rolling-mills, pause in their labor and see in the distance a hut of{440} stone and mud with a roof of thatch, and about it a farm—a farm too small and too poor to support them and their families—yet to them home. The Russian workman is an industrian through necessity. Some there are, of course, who have tired of this dual existence and have relinquished the farm land. As time goes on more and more will do this. The “working-class” will cease to be the inert mass it is to-day, and will become a potent factor in the country. But to-day this working-class is largely composed of men who work in the mills and factories while their families work the land, or rent their land, or who hire cheap labor for their land, or who themselves drop their tools, lay by their picks and drills, quit the furnace and the forge at spring-and harvest-time, and return to the open to sow and to reap.

Russian workers, therefore, are workmen in the making, or at best, men not yet weaned from the soil, workmen of the first generation, with the blood and traditions and even the property of the peasant.

The phrase “Russian Workman” is really an anomaly. The Russian workman, properly so-called, is a development of the future. Hewers of wood there are in Russia, and drawers of water, but professional “workmen,” in the technical English sense, referring to the men whose entire lives are spent in the factories and workshops, are few. Industries there are a-plenty: factories, foundries, mines and workshops; but a great part of the men found in them are representative of a transition period, a hybrid production, part peasant, part artisan. Serfdom in Russia was a recognized institution until but yesterday, as it were, and to-day eighty per cent. of the population are people of the land—tillers of soil, guardians of cattle; and the man with the hoe is not technically a workman.{441}

Time has about the same value to the Russian workman that it has to the Russian at large—ceachass, directly—in an hour or two, when we get round to it! The Russian workman’s day is twelve hours long. But the number of holidays, Church and State, are appalling to a European. At Easter, for example, there are ten days marked in red on Russian calendars. If a factory runs every working-day in the year, that means two hundred and twenty days; but there are few workmen who pretend to work even every working-day. Yet he must so regulate his living as to have enough reserve from his wages to carry him through the holidays. This is simplified for him by the regulations of the Church which prescribes long and stringent fasts. At these times the expenditure for food is reduced to a minimum; likewise the efficiency and productivity of the man. It is no uncommon thing for workmen of massive frame and naturally strong physique to faint from exhaustion in the mills, during the long fasts. Energy, crispness of action, interest in the work, are all impossible under such conditions.

The working-day begins at six o’clock. It is the practice to begin on an absolutely empty stomach—not even a glass of tea. At half-past-eight there is a half hour for “breakfast,” which usually consists of tea and pirogki—a kind of warm bread with chopped meat in the center, or fish. From nine o’clock till one there is work without intermission, then dinner. The usual dinner is a kind of soup called “stchi” or “borsch.” This is more of a stew than a soup, for it contains chopped cabbage, carrots and other vegetables, and a chunk of boiled meat. The soup is gulped down first, then the meat. Sweets are only included on holidays. This must suffice until six o’clock when the day’s work is done and the workman returns to his hovel—be it farmhouse or lodging—and{442} sits alone with his steaming samovar drinking many glasses of tea, and for solid food meat and potatoes, or fish and potatoes, and black bread. Tea is always taken from a glass, and without milk or lemon. Nor is the workman extravagant as to sweetening his tea by dropping several pieces of sugar into every glass he drinks. Russian sugar is made very hard, and on account of the excise is three times as costly as in neighboring countries. The workman, like the peasant, places one hard lump between his teeth and strains his tea through it. Thus one small lump answers for a glass.

The cost of living is not particularly low in Russia, it is the standard of living that is low. An English workman could not live on the same fare as the Russian workman, and an American workman would not even try. The actual prices of food-stuffs and rentals are lower than in England, much lower than in America, but wages are proportionately lower, and the variety of foods in the diet of the Russian workman is much less than of the English or American workman.[21]

The wages of a common laborer are seventy-five copecks, or thirty-five cents a day. Men of the type who attend the blast furnaces in the metal works average sixty-five cents a day, while the rollers, who are accounted skilled workmen and are paid by the month, receive one hundred and twenty-five rubles or sixty-three dollars. These, however, are only the very best men. The second men, who make up the majority, receive from twenty-five to thirty dollars monthly. Coal-miners are sometimes paid according to the amount of work they do, and sometimes by the day—as in England and America—but their total income either way, does not amount to more than fifteen or twenty dollars a month. The{443}

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Russian workmen and their “artel



rank and file of laborers do not average above twenty dollars a month. These figures all refer to the best paid industries.

The first expenditure is for house rent. The common price for an ordinary workman’s house is four rubles, or two dollars a month. This includes two rooms and a kitchen—sometimes a cellar—frequently an outside pantry which not uncommonly contains a stove in order that in the summer months, when the heat is great, the cooking may be done outside of the main house.

Workmen’s houses in industrial Russia are of three general types. First, the houses built and owned by the companies and rented to the men, or loaned to them without cost. Second, the average workman’s house, and third, the artel, or lodging for single men.

The Company house is the poorest type. The occupants of these houses are only the poorest workmen. There are unskilled artisans in every mill and factory whose wages are small, so the Companies make up for this (in small part) by giving them the rental. These houses, if rented, would bring about one dollar or one dollar and a half per month.

One tenth of the wages goes for house rent. This is so general that it may be stated dogmatically. Men living in free houses make from ten to fifteen dollars a month. Men living in the four-ruble houses average forty rubles, or twenty to twenty-five dollars a month.

The skilled men are so few that they occupy the better type of house such as usually is occupied by foremen.

The artel, or lodging-house, is a curious institution common throughout Russia. From twelve to sixteen single men live together in specially-built houses consisting of one large, common sleeping-room, a common kitchen and eating-room, and a small ante-room for the caretaker.{446} The caretaker is usually an old woman. She scrubs the floors, does all the chores, and acts in every capacity. The living is of the crudest and cheapest. Twelve rubles, or six dollars a month is the common price paid by each lodger. This includes food. One ruble or fifty cents additional is paid for the rent. The caretaker gets the difference between expenditures for the food and supplies and the total amount paid by the men. The sleeping accommodations are very simple. In some artels there are plank platforms one foot to eighteen inches from the floor, and on these the men lie like packed sardines; in others, each man has a crude bed. There is a stove at one end of the room, and on the walls usually colored pictures—chromos—the only decoration save the ever present icon in the corner near the ceiling.

The morality of the Russian workman is mainly negative. Religion is everywhere, or, at least, ecclesiasticism. But what religion is, or means in Russia, is hard to determine. Church-going is general. The most striking building in each village and town is the church. The clatter and din of church-bells breaks out at any hour. Within are invariably garish decorations of gilt and gold. The workmen, like the peasants, always remove their hats and cross themselves many times when passing a church, and when they enter they have every appearance of piety and devotion. Russian churches do not have pews or seats: the congregation stands, or individuals (at their own will and pleasure, so far as I could discover) kneel and pray, and bow forward until their foreheads rest upon the paved floor. I have seen a cab-driver asleep upon the box of his cab when hit upon the back by a companion, awake startled, and instantly, as by instinct, whip off his hat and cross himself. On every hand are evidences of ecclesiastical power{447} and influence. And yet—what does it stand for? One is not shocked or surprised to find a drunken priest on the street. The most devout drink to excess at stated times. They pillage, plunder and steal goods and chattels and other men’s wives. So far as one can judge religion has no grip whatever upon the hearts of the people, no influence on their conduct of life. At the same time the forms of the church are scrupulously maintained. The fasts are adhered to to the physical detriment of the people, and no house is without its icon. But there is no commandment that is not lightly broken.

It would be wrong, however, to convey the impression that the Russian workman is a drunkard. He is not. He drinks at certain stated times only, usually when he draws his pay. Drink does not seriously interfere with business in Russian industrial centers. There are drunkards in every community in Russia, as in most countries, but on the whole the per capita consumption of alcohol among the workmen is not great and with the exception of the one day in the month which follows the pay-day the workmen are not given to drunkenness; Sundays and holidays might be added.

Morality is a totally different question. A gentleman who for thirty years has been the paymaster of one of the largest “works” in Russia, went so far as to say to me: “Morality is unknown among Russian workmen.” In this respect industrial Russia to-day is not unlike industrial England immediately after the industrial revolution. The breaking-up of the homes and emigration have always resulted in a lowering of ethical and moral standards.

Compared with the English and American workman the Russian is inferior. Physically he should be capable of greater endurance and effort, for his frame is large and{448} heavy, but weakened by his insufficient diet, and too rigid adherence to the fasts prescribed by the church, he has so undermined his strength, and so reduced his capacity, that in the run of months and years he is worth only one third of an English workman, and not more than one fourth of an American. “A Russian looks a long time at his work before he begins,” said a mine foreman to me. Figures furnished me by superintendents and employers demonstrated that the average English workman can do the work of three Russians. The Russian is listless. He does not understand the reason for hurry. To-morrow is as good as to-day. He has not been trained by discipline, nor encouraged by the reward which should accrue to the thrifty and the pushing. Looked at critically he is good raw material—but very raw and very crude. Like the country at large, the Russian workman promises well under proper conditions, and if sufficient time and capital are invested in him, he will develop an adequate earning capacity. But his religion must first be tempered with intelligence. He must learn to make the best use and the most use of his naturally strong physique, and his economic condition must so alter that it will appear to him worth his while to devote himself with more heart to his work. He must adopt a much higher standard of living, and demand recompense for his labor that will enable him to maintain that advanced standard. Under the present system industry is not rewarded by promotion. A miner, for example, can never become a stager, nor a stager an engineer. Having once taken the examination for the lower post all further advancement is precluded. Also, the line between industrialism and peasantry must be more sharply drawn. The man who is farmer in summer and{449} plate-roller in winter may be none the less a good farmer, but he is very much less valuable as a plate-roller. The two lines of life are parallel, but they don’t interlace.

One day I climbed into a huge metal basket and was lowered twenty-five hundred feet toward the earth’s heart. The walls of the shaft were of splendid firm masonry, great blocks of stone like granite. The engines which controlled the descent were equipped with the most modern patents for haulage, automatic brakes and indicators. At another mine I gingerly placed one leg in a small wooden affair like a nail keg, grasped a hemp rope from which the keg was suspended with one hand, and was swung out over a dark well, called a shaft, and with the other hand and the other leg (the one outside the keg) maintained an unsteady balance, and saved myself from too violent contact with the sides, as two horses jogged round a ring, unwinding a drum allowing the keg and its load to go jerkily bottomward. Here the shaft sides were of timber—crude, wooden slats interlaced after the fashion of a crib.

The former was the result of the English influence; the latter was pure Russian.

Between the Russian miner and the French, Belgian, or British miner is this difference: the Russian has not the blood of coal-miners in his veins, nor the traditions of underground workers handed down to him from preceding generations. Whereas the others are generally miners by tradition and breeding, the Russian is really a peasant driven from his land to seek a living where he can find it. Mining is a casual choice with him, he would as lief be in the rolling-mill, or tending one of the coke-ovens.

This system of labor which permits workmen to spend{450} part of the year on their farms and part in the mines and mills, is a symptom of Russia’s industrial revolution. The workers who do this are called “the go-aways,” and make up a large percentage of the workmen in the industrial districts of south Russia, with the result that they are poor agriculturists and second-rate workers. Slowly the system will pass, and industrial towns composed of a permanent population be established. The Russian peasant has been on the land so long that he has little ambition to leave it. When the land is worked out, exhausted, and the annual harvest is no longer sufficient to keep the souls and bodies of his family together, he goes off to the towns. The vast area of European Russia given solely to agriculture, makes it often necessary for the peasant to travel far to find winter employment. Thus north Russians have a journey of fifteen hundred, or two thousand miles to the south Russian mines and factories. This is a goodly distance for a peasant. When harvest-time comes year after year, the worker more and more shrinks from going back to his patch of land to reap the meager harvest, and each year some give up the thought and remain at their work. Many more, however, have a bred-in-the-bone love for the soil, and with a political revolution in the atmosphere, with a general cry from one end of the empire to the other of “Land—Land,” they come up out of the black depths of the coal-pits and back to their dessiatines in the hope that one day other dessiatines will be given them, and they may leave their proletarian life forever. Naturally, this condition does not produce miners or other workers of the best type, and hence the coal-miners of the Donitz basin do not compare favorably with the coal-miners of England or America.

One of the great drawbacks to the progress of the{451}

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A Russian coal-miner



coal industry among Russians, is the Russian engineer. Russian law provides that the chief engineer at each colliery shall be a Russian, or at least, shall possess a Russian certificate, which amounts to the same thing. There seems to be universal agreement that the Russian mining engineer is rarely a practical man. Trained in a mediocre technological school he comes to a colliery resplendent in a long coat with silver buttons and gold insignia. This coat rarely comes off. A Russian engineer never goes down into a pit if he can avoid doing so. I can testify that I usually saw them strutting about above ground, and always wearing their good clothes—looking much more like officers on parade than practical engineers. The feeling against these dressed-up theoreticians is very strong among pit-foremen, managers, and all practical miners.

If a coal-miner becomes expert in any particular line of work he may become a section-boss, but as for working up from the ranks, it is unheard of, and impossible, according to present laws. If a man desires to become a manager he must make up his mind to this before going into the mines at all, then pass a manager’s examination, after which he may never occupy any other post.

The Russian coal-miner, like most Russian workmen, persists in clinging to the inherited idea that the land is where man belongs, that the land is for the people, and his work in the mines is merely to supply him with food and raiment till the people shall come into possession of the land, when he will lay down his tools and go back to the soil. This is the prime reason for his backwardness.

The Russian coal-miner is naturally careless and lackadaisical. Time is meaningless to him. He lacks caution in his work, and handles explosives as if they were mine{454}rals as harmless as coal. The government, understanding this characteristic, largely removes responsibility from the workman and places it upon the employer by granting high compensation in cases of accident. The employer, therefore, takes extraordinary precautions through his managers. This system is by no means a bad one, for in presupposing the ignorance and carelessness of undisciplined workmen, the chance for accident is reduced to a minimum.

The government also protects the children; no boy may be employed at manual labor, or for a full day, until he has attained his fifteenth year. At the age of thirteen a boy may go into an office for half-days. To encourage schooling a boy who passes the third grade in the common schools is excused from sixteen months’ soldiering. These are comparatively recent regulations, copied, I believe, from Germany. There is no gainsaying their value and reasonableness. That such wise laws as these should be found in connection with an industry where there are such absurd restrictions as, for instance, the preventing of practical miners from becoming superiors, is typically Russian.

Not political revolution alone threatens Russia to-day. Industrially, there is every symptom of the disorganization which precedes an industrial revolution. I found Russian workmen agitating armed revolt because they wanted more land! That is the slogan of the peasants. The working-men stand for supporting the peasants in this, in order, as some of them expressed it, that they may quit the industries, and return to the land. So long as workmen look upon their work as a temporary expediency, Russia will not develop a strong working-class. But this is only incident to the transition. Revolution, armed or unarmed, must evolve change, and with{455} the wider liberties and scope for individual development which Russia soon will have, the workmen will have opportunities to develop their own industries. For the present the prime thing is change, immediate and radical change. It matters not what the shibboleth so long as it leads to this.

Thus far the workmen have not been allowed to consider themselves as a class—any form of organization is prohibited by the government. Any effort toward “industrial betterment,” improved conditions, or any of the reforms which are common movements in England and America, are unheard of and unknown in Russia. The wonder is that the Russian workman is as good as he is under existing conditions. Given freedom of belief, freedom from ecclesiastic superstition, freedom from civil slavery—freedom of organization, and the Russian workman will develop a vista leading to his own better day.

The tenth day of my stay in Yusofka I was called back to Moscow by telegram. The call was urgent so I determined to catch a train from a station some fourteen miles away, which left just at dawn. Hughes himself put me into the same barouche that had brought Mr. Medhurst and me to the home I now left with genuine regret, and drawn by the same black Orloffs.

“I’m sending two trusted men with you,” Hughes said, as I gripped his hand in farewell; “both are well armed.” And we rolled out of the gate and into the cool night where furnace fires belched flaring flames above near and far horizons, and where the rattle of mineshaft wheels and cars intruded upon the stillness which properly is the birthright of night, but here is unknown.{456}



A visit to Russia’s grand old man—An interesting yamschik—Tolstoi’s views on the present struggle—His world-wide interests—The varied and interesting Tolstoi household—On to the Crimea—Odessa—The Black Hundred organization—Promoting massacres—Quitting Odessa during a dock strike—A Black Hundred crew—Difficulties at sea—Back to Odessa—A fresh start—A motley cargo of passengers—Bokhara pilgrims bound for Mecca, Central Asia Jews journeying to Jerusalem, German Lutherans—Crossing the Black Sea—Arrival in Constantinople.

A sojourn in Russia seemed incomplete without a pilgrimage to Tolstoi. Russia’s grand old man attracts travelers from all corners of the earth, and though it seemed an unpardonable intrusion for an unheard-of citizen of a distant country to call upon the seer in his own home, to draw upon his strength and time, I was deeply grateful to receive an invitation to visit a dear friend and disciple of his who lives on the estate of the count’s eldest daughter; for I knew that this would mean a happy meeting with the one man in all Russia I desired most to see.

The year had turned November when this invitation came, and I was already looking forward to quitting the land of struggle and chaos. Tula, the town of Tolstoi’s home is almost the exact center of European Russia, and is reached from Moscow. “Yasnaya Poliana,” Tolstoi’s house, is located something over two hours’ drive from Tula station. Yasnaya Poliana, that is to say,{457} “Pleasant Clearing in the Woods,” and never did the home of the prophet seem more fittingly named than now, when confusion and chaos roll unchanneled from the Baltic eastward, from European frontiers northward, covering an empire. Tolstoi looks across the seas of tumult, his hoary head towering above the wreckage, his superbly discerning vision penetrating a beyond still hid from the masses of his countrymen. And it is also true that the elements of to-day are as clear before him as before other men. He sees them all: an incompetent government, a struggling but thus far incapable revolution, twenty-seven millions of starving peasants, a disloyal navy, an untrustworthy army, a paper constitution and a reactionary régime. All these things he sees, views them calmly, and picks out a clear line of progress that leads to a goal where all of the black road will be justified. Of him, surely, is it true, “he has a faith that meets a thousand cheats, yet drops no jot of faith.” Tolstoi alone among Russians to-day is able to see his country’s plight in perspective.

Snow softly blanketed the earth and coated the bare trees of Great Russia when I said farewell to St. Petersburg and Moscow and made toward the center of the country to the station called Tula. A simple muzhik with a hand-made sledge, scarcely higher off the ground than a sled, offered to drive me out to the home where I was to be a guest, adjoining the count’s place. The horse did not look any too robust for the trip but the yamschik [peasant driver] assured me that the horse was the best to be had, and strong enough to accomplish the distance. As soon as we had left the streets of the town and struck the open country the man opened a friendly conversation. He began by telling me he had only recently come back{458} from Manchuria, where he had served all through the war. It was evident that he had not enjoyed the service particularly and when I sympathized with him he told me how, after the first battle, he and seven of his companions held a secret council. They were all agreed that war was a bad job. In the first place not one of them knew just why they were fighting, and the idea of shooting at people whom they did not know, and in return being shot at, appeared to them as wrong. At the same time the government and their officers made them do these things. One soldier, from Tula, suggested writing to Tolstoi. A letter was indited and sent to Yasnaya Poliana. In the course of time these soldiers received their answer, in which Tolstoi told them that he believed all war was wrong, that the army had no business in Manchuria, and that if the consciences of the soldiers troubled them they should not shoot. “After that,” continued my driver, “we always knew what to do. We knew in our hearts that it was wrong to fight under such circumstances. We marched into battle because we had to, but after a few minutes our officers would all disappear, then we all ran away. We ran every time afterward.”

I told this story to a Red Cross nurse later for the humor of it. She laughingly said she was sure it was literally true, because one night after the battle of Mukden, a young captain was brought into her ward with an injured head. His wounds were not serious and shortly after they had been bandaged the officer began to laugh loudly. She went over to him and asked what amused him so greatly.

“The way I was wounded,” he replied. “Our regiment had not been long exposed to the fire when I decided it was too hot for comfort. I looked all about for{459} some place of shelter. At last I espied a small gully or ravine, so suddenly running toward it I leaped in—only to find my general and my colonel there before me! Well—there wasn’t room for all three of us, so we began to nudge and push each other, for none wanted to get into the open again. Finally the general said to me: ‘Captain, you are not showing becoming deference to your superior officers, sir.’ At that I had to crawl out. As I did so a shell exploded near by and a piece of it hit me in the forehead causing my wound!”


The second night after my arrival at the house where I was a guest I was taken over to Yasnaya Poliana. Tolstoi had been informed of my presence in the neighborhood, and had graciously suggested to my friend that she bring me to see him. The fast-falling, late autumn night was settling over the snow-fields and silver woods as we climbed the knoll upon which Yasnaya Poliana house stands. In summer the place must have a fascinating charm, for all the elements of a beautiful country park are there—flower-beds and wildwood, orchards, groves and arbored walks, a bit of water, fields rolling toward distant horizons, broad sky and vistas that hold one. Surmounting the knoll, a pleasant house, large enough without being grand, comfortable without pretension. At the door a black poodle barked a welcome. A man-servant helped us to unload the heavy garments we wore against the cold of a Russian November night. With not unexpected directness we were taken straight to the count’s study. There he sat—near a table-desk which was littered with piles of letters and papers. “Good evening,” he called cheerily and quite as though I were an old friend. His hands, which were extended in welcome, were warm as if the fires of his strong life{460} and body still burned fiercely, as when he commanded men on Sebastopol bastions, ranged over the unconquered Caucasus, and hunted with the most daring of his comrades through great Russian forests. He had been horseback-riding in the afternoon, he told us. Surely few men carry the weight of seventy-eight years with more vigor.

The first words of greeting over, he began to ask about his friends in America, men whom he knows personally or by reputation. A conversation with a neighbor from one’s own home town on a chance meeting in a foreign land would scarcely have been different. There was a delightful eagerness for word-of-mouth news. Names of men in New York slipped as easily from his tongue as from one of their own circle.

Shelves of books in many languages walled the room from floor to eye level, while above hung portraits of many thinkers who have, or should have, influenced the world. Prominent among them Henry George and William Lloyd Garrison.

“Do you read Garrison?” Tolstoi asked, as my wandering eyes rested on the portrait of our own champion of liberty. “Do you read Channing, Thoreau, Emerson? I always ask Americans about those four great men. They should be read by the young men of to-day.”

A tall candle burning on the table by his right side threw its restless gleams across the old man’s rugged face, and involuntarily my mind ran incredulously over the intensely human career whose latter days are now marked by such inspiring serenity.

We could not long keep off the subject of Russia and her troubles, however, and at last I ventured to ask him what was his interpretation of the movement of things in Russia at the moment.{461}

Tolstoi pointed to an old volume of Rousseau’s “Émile” lying on a table at the other side of the room, and asked me to bring it to him. Turning over the pages of Book IV till he found the paragraph he sought, he paused, then read very slowly and with emphasis, these sentences: “On dit qu’il falloit une révélation pour apprendre aux hommes la manière dont Dieu vouloit être servi; on assigne en préserve la diversité des cultes bizarres qu’ils ont institué, et l’on ne voit pas que cette diversité même vient de la fantaisie des révélations. Dès que les peuples se sont avisés de faire parler Dieu, chacun l’a fait parler à sa mode et lui a fait dire ce qu’il a voulu; si l’on n’eût écouté que ce que Dieu dit au cœur de l’homme, il n’y auroit jamais eu qu’une religion sur la terre.” The last sentence he read twice, and then handed the book across the table that I might absorb the passage. “That is what we have all got to learn,” he said, “to listen to the words God speaks to us in our hearts. We need no other religion or philosophy than this. We need no institution like a church. This message is for the people of America as well as for Russia, and the whole significance of the present terrible situation in Russia is that the Russian people are being brought to the point where every other channel will be closed and only by turning to God will they be able to save themselves.” In other words, Tolstoi sees, as every one in Russia must see, that the drift of things is toward an abyss, and Tolstoi reads into this tendency a deeply religious meaning; he accepts it as part of a Divine plan, and he firmly believes that the Russian people will come to look upon their situation as a call from God to discard their ancient superstitions and to inaugurate a new era in which each individual will endeavor to readjust his life into conformity with the infinite.{462}

Tolstoi appreciates, as does every one in Russia, that the Russian liberal movement aims to effect a social revolution, and that a successful political revolt will only mark the beginning of the struggle. Tolstoi does not view this as do most Russian thinkers, however. He does not accept the accomplishment of a socialistic state as a goal at all, for he distrusts the economics of socialism, and as a philosophy he rejects socialism vehemently. “It is not a second-rate, but a hundredth-rate philosophy,” he says. “The present growth of socialism,” he went on in explanation, “is to be accounted for in precisely the same way as the present popularity of inferior literature, poetry, drama, and art. It is all part of a passing phase.”

“Monsieur Leroy Beaulieu, the French writer,” said Tolstoy, “was here not long ago, and he said to me: ‘The Russian revolution? It is for fifty years.’ That may be. But in the end—whether ten years or fifty years—a new era of righteousness will be established in Russia.”

Late in the evening we adjourned to the dining-room, where were the countess and a party of about a dozen. A more varied group one seldom meets under one roof. There was the count, strong in his faith, confident in the truth of his own philosophy of “Christian anarchism.” There was a son, who, during the Japanese War, was a patriot, a loyal subject of the Czar, and as such volunteered for service in arms and served in Manchuria. There was the eldest brother of this soldier son, a Constitutional Democrat, or middle-of-the-road-man, and next him a sister who is married to a man who is an “Octoberist,” a conservative deputy to the first Duma, and she shares her husband’s political opinions. Also there was a disciple of Count Tolstoi, who believes{463} not in war or parliaments at all; and a Social Revolutionist, who believes ardently in revolution and even in terrorism. Each was true to his own convictions and perfectly outspoken. When the count had drunk his glass of tea, little heeding the babel of conversation around the board, he pushed back his chair and for several moments slowly paced the room. The huge dining-room, warm with hospitality, afforded a striking picture that night. Against the high, dark walls stood out several life-size oil portraits. In one corner a grand piano, near it a table on which were strewn a pack of cards, and opposite a cozy-corner. In the center of the room, the long dining-table around which were gathered the company; at one end a steaming samovar. Slowly, back and forth, paced the count, now in the shadow, now in the light, his shaggy gray beard against his dark-blue peasant blouse. So stalwart, so vigorous, so keen to all things he seemed. Above all, so serene in spirit; for he glories in the present dark hour of his country, believing it harbingers the approach of dawn—the awakening of the Russian people to a consciousness of a grander destiny than they have dreamed of before, when as true sons of God they shall realize that heaven of which the dogmatic preachers talk, only not in a distant future, but here on earth.

However often it may be true that “a prophet is without honor in his own country,” Tolstoi is honored and revered by the peasants in the villages of Tula, and his own influence throughout Russia is very great. Curiously enough, though, it is his unconscious influence which is greatest. Tolstoi, above all living men, is the apostle of “non-resistance” and “passive resistance.” But in Russia all resistance of necessity becomes active resistance. Tolstoi pamphlets on the horrors and evils of{464} war perhaps more than any other influence have brought army service into disrepute with the people. The Russian people hold their enforced military service as one of their prime grievances, and to avoid such service every ruse and device is resorted to from bribery and perjury to open “passive resistance,” that is, stubborn refusal to carry arms. But the government views this attitude as opposed to its interests and consequently revolutionary. Refusal to bear arms in Russia is punished by imprisonment. Tolstoi told me of a peasant thus imprisoned who replied to the court that sentenced him: “Very well, imprison me. I shall pray for you and my unhappy country, whose rulers make men do evil.” The beginnings of resistance have been inspired by Tolstoi’s “peaceful” and “Christian” writings in thousands of cases, and eventually fruited in revolutionaryism and insurrection. This unconscious influence, which Tolstoi has exerted during the last decade, and more especially during the last two years, is enormous. Peasants in every section of Russia knew more or less about Tolstoi, and while not professing to be “Tolstoians,” nevertheless admit that the beginning of their criticism of the government, and the first inspiration to trust to their own thinking, came from one or another of Tolstoi’s writings. Doubtless there are thousands of people all over the world who owe, even if they do not recognize, a like debt to this great, restive spirit, the dynamic of whose life has been both innate and conscious moral earnestness. A moral leader of the force and caliber of Tolstoi can not fail to impress a generation, and this is Tolstoi’s contribution to life and the world: he has quickened men to thought and action, and he has pointed a goal and standard above all others in the God which dwells within each and every human being.{465}

Upon leaving Tula I went south to the Crimea. On the train I read Tolstoi’s “Sebastopol Sketches,” which contain about the most graphic descriptions of war ever written. Curiously enough the season of the year when I first saw Sebastopol was the same as Tolstoi describes upon his arrival in the besieged city in 1854. During all my stay there I could not get away from the remarkable coincidental similarity in conditions—December, 1854, and December, 1906. To be sure, Sebastopol was not besieged by alien foes from without, but it was besieged by revolutionists from within. This, like most ports and all naval stations, is a revolutionary stronghold. Only the day before my arrival an admiral or port officer had been assassinated. Sentinels patrolled the streets at intervals of one hundred feet. The Hotel Kist was guarded. Small bodies of troops were moving in different parts of the city, and when the early morning mist lifted, a half-dozen warships were revealed lying at anchor. For several hours during the forenoon large forces of cavalry and light artillery were kept manœuvering in the plain across the narrow strip of water from the pristan. It might just as well have been a besieged city. Save for the lack of wounded and dead men, the outward aspects of the town were every whit as warlike, and everywhere were the signs of martial law.

These indications of unrest and readiness for trouble did not deter me from visiting Balaklava and lovely Yalta, or interesting Bakhtchi-Sarai, the old Crimean Tartar capital, and Tchoufout-Kali, the two thousand-year old Karaite[22] stronghold. After these visits I turned toward Odessa, which I reached via Eupatoria.{466}

Odessa being one third a Jewish city has long been a city of trouble—not so much because of the Jews as on account of the powerful Black Hundred organization made up of water-front laborers and the lowest elements of a special city, who, under governmental tutelage, from time to time break loose upon the Jews. Incipient and real massacres are apt to break out there any time. The governor-general, Kaulbars, is a notorious reactionary, and encourages every form of repression.

I had studied the Jewish question in many other places, and in Odessa as in Warsaw, Vilna, and other Jewish centers, I became convinced that the Russian government, by its extraordinarily blind and stupid policy, has itself created the Jewish problem. If the 5,000,000 Jews who are now in Russia were scattered among the 140,000,000 people of the Russian empire, they would scarcely be noticed. But Russia chose the arbitrary part and closed to the Jews all but a tiny strip of the empire. In only nine governments and in Poland many Jews live, and these are the districts which constitute “the pale”—South Russia, Poland, and the Baltic provinces. Having corralled all the Jews over whom it has jurisdiction, the Russian government then proceeded to enact a long series of special, discriminative laws, and to inaugurate special Jewish taxes.

Stripped of every right and privilege of citizenship and manhood save one—the right to pay taxes—the Jews of Russia have had no other recourse than to develop their mental powers. This they have done most creditably under circumstances quite as adverse as learning arithmetic from a borrowed text-book, by the light of a rail fire during the hours between the end of the workday and sleep time. And now, because he has given himself devotedly up to the one thing left him and has been{467} successful, he is feared. Whatever may have been the original motives of the czars in the restrictions they laid upon the Jews, the present attitude of Jew-baiting Russians is based upon jealous fear.

One thing all observers mark—outspoken bitterness against the Jews on the part of peasants flourishes in the parts where the Jews are not. Within the pale most often does one find champions of the Jew. Nearly every telegraph correspondent for the foreign press who hastened to Bielostok at the time of the massacre commented on the testimony of the townspeople that (to quote one of them) “the Jews and Christians had always lived together like brothers.” The Jew is much more apt to be suspicious of the Christian than is the non-Jew to nourish ill-will against the Jews whom he comes into frequent contact with. If it is not literally true that to know is to love, it at least may be said that to know is to tolerate, with regard to the Jews in Russia. The persecution of the Jews in Russia originates with official Russia, and the bitterness which their weakness and fears inspire is passed on to the people through the government’s agents—often the priests—through the government press, and through the scapegoat, underling officials who are immediately above the actual perpetrators of the dire deeds, and below the higher officials who are morally responsible.

The massacre of Bielostok was executed as a diabolical and fantastic orgy by the police and the soldiers. They deliberately shot little children. They ravished, then murdered, young girls, they tortured men by the wildest and most excruciating devices. And the police and soldiers, incidentally, looted Jewish shops and carried away pockets full of watches from jewelers, and cash when they could get it.{468}

The governor of the district was removed, but not in disgrace. The actual perpetrators of these deeds still administer the “law” in Bielostok. The children and the families of the murdered see them every time they go out. I saw them when I was there. They walked about with heads in the air as if they had done a noble thing and were worthy, like war-heroes. And the story of Bielostok is practically the very same as the story of Gomel, of Kishineff and Odessa, save that in Odessa there is a stronger Black Hundred element of “hooligans” and rowdies, who, for a pittance, are glad to lend themselves to the unscrupulous and murderous police.

Such conditions drive the older and weaker Jews to America, and the more spirited of the younger generation to revolution. It is the height of absurdity for the Russian government to excuse its Jewish oppression on the ground that the Jews are revolutionary. By nature and by tradition they are the opposite of aggressive and militant. They are revolutionary because the Russian government is oppressive, and because they know no other course.

The Russian Jew is docile, domestically inclined, and peace-loving naturally, but when exasperated beyond endurance he becomes a daring antagonist. Surely it is no reflection against the Jewish race that the stronger men and women resent the endless insults that Russia heaps upon them. Even the passport of a Jew is differentiated. Fifteen thousand Jews gave up their lives in Manchuria during the course of the late inglorious war, in which they had no interest and for which they had no sympathy. Fifteen thousand more were wounded in the same ignominious cause. And yet Manchuria remains closed to the Jews as a place of settlement. Thirty thousand Jewish victims in one war! Yet no Jew may{469}

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Cossacks on patrol duty

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Victims of a Cossack pogrom



be an officer in the army or navy. It is characteristic that Jewish doctors should be called upon to combat epidemics of plague—and then are expelled from the district after the conquering of the disease. No Jew may take an active interest in any mining enterprise in Russia, nor may he engage in the oil trade—which in the Caucasus offers large possibilities. No Jew may buy or rent land. Only a very small proportion—three to five per cent.—of the children in the middle schools and universities may be Jews. The complete list of “exceptional” laws designed to curb the Jews extends to extraordinary length, and when they have been all gone through with and applied the Jew still has the yet more terrible situation to face in the spirit of his civil governors, who seek in every petty way to annoy him, to terrorize him, and every now and again to impress all of the Jews with the stubborn fact that they are Jews, and as such, liable to slaughter without further notice. These are some of the reasons why the younger and braver Jews have a personal interest in the Russian revolution, and why the older ones hail America as a promised land.

The revolutionary movement is becoming less and less Jewish, not because the Jews are becoming subdued as a result of their continual persecution, but because the Russian population is increasing so much faster than the Jewish. It is no class or party struggle, the revolution. It is a dynastic revolt. The great mass of the Russian people are done with the house of Romanoff, and they want a new régime. Each different section of people has its own reasons, but none are more potent than the reason of the Jews.

An appeal in the “Novoe Vremya,” the semi-official newspaper of St. Petersburg, suggested that all trade{472} should be interdicted to Jews; that all Jewish schools should be closed, and that Jews should be excluded from the secondary and higher schools; that all Jews who returned to Russia should be interned in the northern part of Siberia; that Jews should be debarred from work on all newspapers; and that all Jewish property should be sold within five years. This appeal was printed in the press of the City Prefect on March 4, 1906.[23]

On October 25, 1905, M. Lavroff, who was at that time an official of the ministry of the interior, sent round a circular demanding a general union of “all who love their country” against the Jews. An appeal freely circulated amongst the local troops before the Bielostok “pogrom” runs as follows:

A foreign enemy ... has roused up the Jap against Russia.... On the quiet, across the seas and oceans, the foreign czars [meaning, of course, more particularly, King Edward and the President] armed the enormous Japanese people against us.... Then arose our strength of Russia.... The foreign czars got scared; the hair bristled up on their heads; their skins crinkled with chill. And they thought of a mean idea—to undermine the heart of the Russian soldier, to shake his ancient Christian faith and his love for our father Czar.... They brought into the soldiers’ ranks, almost wholly through Jews and hirelings, whole mountains of print, ... and also heaps of gold, that they might buy base souls.... But our army turned away from these new Judases.... The foreign czars blushed.... There began in Russia an internal confusion. Again the fierce foreign foe sets his snares through his friends, always the Jews and the hirelings.... that he may seize altogether the land of our fathers. But ... he never put his own head in the way of our cannon, but bought, through the Jews, the souls of Russians—Christians.... Brothers, tread in the steps of Christ. Cry out with one voice: “Away with the Jewish kingdom!{473} Down with the red flag! Down with the red Jewish freedom!... At the foe, Russian soldiers! Forward! forward! forward! They go! they go! they go!”

This appeal was printed by the military staff of Odessa.

Odessa is the headquarters, if not the cradle, of the Black Hundred, or League of Russian Men. I had anticipated a certain reluctance on the part of the members to impart to me the details of their program, but to my surprise they told me about their “Jew-sticking” as if it were a most ordinary plank for the platform of a political party.

The rooms of the organization were fitted up like a Salvation Army tea-house, gay with bunting and Russian flags, and a great lot of gilded icons in one corner. Several chromos of the Czar hung on the walls. The rooms were crowded both times I visited them with men of precisely the same type as the loungers who occupy Salvation Army reading-rooms—casual laborers, the shiftless, the workless, life’s derelicts. Among these were a score or more of young boys, ranging from fourteen to twenty, of the type described as young roughs. I remarked that most of these wore brand new student overcoats, so I asked one of these boys pointedly where he got his overcoat.

“From the organization,” he answered.

“Why do you belong to this organization?” I then asked.

“Because of the benefits. We have socials, and private theatricals. And sometimes we get presents like this overcoat.”

“What is the object of the organization?” I asked further.

“To kill the Jews,” he made answer.{474}

“But why do you want to kill the Jews?”

“Oh, because the Jews are a bad people! They are against the Czar, and they spit on the Russian flag.”

“And you kill them for those reasons?”

“Yes, certainly. They must all leave Russia, or they will be killed.”

Just then the “manager” of the rooms came up, and as I had overheard something said about revolvers, I asked him if the members of the organization carried arms.

“Oh, yes,” he replied. “We have fifty men who always carry arms. We have to here in Odessa—there are so many Jews here.” He then showed me his own revolver, which was a regular army weapon. These arms, he said, were given them by the police.

A circular was handed to me setting forth certain aims of the organization. It began with the sentence:

“All nationalities are equal except Jews,” and then went on:

Jews, during several past years, and especially of late, have showed themselves irreconcilable enemies to Russia and to all Russians, through their impossible, man-hating spirit, their complete estrangement from other nationalities, their own Jewish mind, which understands only those neighbors who are Jewish. Toward Christians they allow all manner of violence, killing included, as it is known, and as Jews have said more than once in their manifestos, that the present disturbances and revolutionary movement in Russia with daily killing of honest servants of the Czar who have remained true to their oath—all is nearly exclusively done by Jewish hands, urged on by Jewish money.

The Russian nation, understanding this, and having the full possibility of using its right of master of the Russian land, could in one day put down the criminal tendencies of Jews and make them bow under its will—the will of the crowned master of Russia, but led by the higher principles of the Christian religion and too well knowing its power to reply by way of violence, prefers another solution to{475} the Jewish question, the question which is equally fatal for all civilized nationalities. Considering that in the last year the Jews, with all their means, are aspiring toward emigration into Palestine, and formation of their own state, and believing that their emigration from all countries where they are now living is the only true means of getting humanity rid of the evil, which the Jews are, the League of Russian people will use all its means to form a Jewish state and assist their emigration to the state, regardless of whatever material sacrifices it may require from the Russian nation.

The Duma deputies were then appealed to to ask the government to deliberate with other governments, with a view to promising international action along these lines.

In the meantime [the circular went on naively], all Jews in Russia are to be regarded as foreigners, but with none of the rights or privileges that other foreigners have. This attitude will doubtless increase their desire to emigrate to their own state.

The man who gave me this circular then went on to say, that he himself believed that an occasional pogrom was a good thing, because it increased the restlessness of the Jews, and he hoped that by continuing this policy Russia would soon be rid of them.

In response to my request for some printed matter, setting forth the aims and objects of the organization, I was given a brochure which contained the following definitions:

I. Aim—To develop the Russian national self-consciousness and strengthen the union of Russian people of all classes, for the mutual work and prosperity of their dear country.

II. The welfare of the country depends upon the complete preservation of Russian unlimited orthodoxy, autocracy, and nationality.

III. The restoration of orthodoxy to its place of dominant influence.

IV. Autocracy consists in the union of Czar with Russian people



The Russian language for all nations living within the Empire.

The League takes upon itself the development of the national consciousness through the political life in the spirit of autocracy and spreading among the population Christian principles which strengthen patriotism, and awaken the sense of duty toward government, society, and home.

This to be done through the usual methods of propaganda—schools, lectures, books, brochures, and journals.

Then comes the catch line of the whole pamphlet:

The League recognises it as a duty to assist brother-members in need—moral and material.

Dues fifty copecks (25 cents) a year.

Those who have no money may be relieved from annual dues.

Such is the League of Russian Men, to whom the Czar addressed himself in December, 1905, when accepting for himself and the Czarevitch the badge of the organization:

“Unite, Russian people! I reckon upon you. With your assistance I believe I shall be able to conquer the enemies of Russia.”

These very words of the Czar are now used by “the League of Russian Men” as a motto for their official electioneering platform, and there has appeared no repudiation on the part of the imperial patron. This is a most remarkable and quaint document. It consists of four pages set in large type, but, curiously enough, one and a half pages thereof are devoted to the Jewish question.

Although all other nationalities are to enjoy civic rights equally with Russians, Jews are to be deprived of such rights and privileges. They are, moreover, to be excluded from all professions (they can not be doctors,{477} lawyers, chemists, contractors, teachers, librarians, etc.) and public or governmental services.

Under the heading Commerce, Industry, and Finance we find such a curiosity as this:

The Union will strive to increase the amount of currency by abolishing gold, and by the reintroduction of national paper currency.

Under the heading “Justice” stands a clause as follows:

All offenses against state and life; robbery and arson; preparing, keeping, carrying, and being in possession of, explosives by anarchists and reactionaries; participation in these crimes, harboring offenders; also picketing in strikes, damaging roads, bridges, or engines, with a view of arresting work or traffic; also armed resistance to authorities; revolutionary agitation among troops; instigating women and children to the above crimes—all these offenses are to be made punishable by death.

At the time I was in Odessa, acquainting myself with this organization, it enjoyed the distinction of being the only “legal” political party in Russia, even the Constitutional Democrats and the Party of Peaceful Regeneration being under the ban.

So long as such liberal inducements are made to membership—presents of overcoats and firearms, tearooms, free shows—and no dues, the Black Hundred will continue to exist. Under similar inducements a like organization could be got together in London, New York, or Chicago, within twenty-four hours. The organization employed by the Pennsylvania coal operators during the anthracite strike, 1902, known as The Coal and Iron Police, was made up of this class—thugs, exconvicts, the flotsam and jetsam of our big towns, who for daily drink-money were prepared to “preserve or{478}der,” defy the government, or commit murder—all of which they did.

The morning of the day I was to set sail from Odessa a strike was declared along the water-front, and stevedores and sailors alike quit their work. Passengers were informed, however, that the boats of the “Volunteer Fleet” would sail. I had taken passage on such a boat.

An hour before the scheduled time of departure I drove down to the wharf. A troop of Cossacks clattered behind my carriage most of the way, and upon arriving at the quay I found another troop of soldiers lined up to preserve order and cover our departure.

The actual getting away took nearly two hours, owing to what looked to me like the sheer clumsiness of the crew. The passengers on that ship were the most motley lot imaginable. There were seven hundred picturesque Moslems from Bokhara in central Asia on their way to Mecca; a hundred or so orthodox Jews bound for Jerusalem; a lot of Persian merchants, and a score of old German Lutheran colonists. All the way out of Odessa harbor there was trouble with the ship, and about nine o’clock at night our bow was turned back toward Odessa. It appeared that the ship had been manned by a Black Hundred crew. Of the forty-eight men all told in the ship’s company, forty-two had never been to sea before, and not one man on the ship knew how to handle the wheel! We were unable to get back into the harbor, and even if it had been possible the captain feared to do so lest a riot break out, so he went ashore in a small boat, returning some time after midnight with three or four officers from other ships who were prepared to do seamen’s work. We learned later that the five ships of the same line that followed ours to sea under similar condi{479}tions all came to grief. Two were stranded, two were burned, and one foundered.

The next morning at sunrise the decks presented a weird and memorable picture. The several hundred Moslems in their long bright-colored garments, their green, and brown, and white turbans, the women with long horsehair veils covering their faces all but the eyes (many of them having brought along three or four of their wives from their harems), all kneeling on little strips of carpet, their faces toward Mecca, were vigorously reciting their morning prayers. The Jews had donned their black-and-white prayer shawls, and bound phylacteries to their foreheads and arms, and they with their faces toward Jerusalem were droning their prayers of thanksgiving and praise. The Germans, evidently touched by the religiousness of their fellow-passengers, after much unpacking drew forth a great family Bible, and while all the others gathered about in a semi-circle on a hatch, one fat old paterfamilias read aloud from the New Testament, and when he had done, they all fell on their knees and united in the Lord’s Prayer.

There was something tremendously impressive in the scene, and just a touch of humor, too. The German united with his wife in prayer for blessings to be bestowed upon them both; the Jew thanked God he was not born a woman; and the Moslem called aloud upon Allah without thought of his several wives who squatted near him, not during to approach even in prayer the God of their husband! A breath of fragrant morning air from a soft and pleasant clime wafted across the decks; the buoyant waters danced in the glistening sunlight and one squared one’s shoulders in sheer joy of being alive—and thankfulness that Russia and all her darkness lay behind.{480}

Thirty-six hours after leaving Odessa we passed out of the Black Sea into the azure waters of the Bosphorus. Frowning cannon greeted us, on either side of the beautiful shore, but we who were quitting sanguinary Russia scarcely gave them a passing glance. The golden domes of Turkish mosques began to glisten in the distance under the morning sunlight, and soon we could descry the crescent-topped minarets that here supplant the cross-capped onion domes of Russia’s churches and cathedrals. Shortly before noon we rode at anchor close to the Golden Horn.{481}



Whither? The future of Russia—Why the revolution has not yet succeeded—Probable outcome of the struggle—Inevitableness of eventual overthrow of present régime—Attitude of foreign Powers—The Russian people during the period of rebellion—Effect upon national character—The Czar and the people—The Czar and the world—What we may expect.

Say not the struggle naught availeth,
The labor and the wounds are vain,
The enemy faints not, nor faileth,
And as things have been they remain.
If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars;
It may be, in yon smoke conceal’d,
Your comrades chase e’en now the fliers,
And, but for you, possess the field.
For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
Seem here no painful inch to gain,
Far back, through creeks and inlets making,
Comes silent, flooding in, the main.
And not by eastern windows only,
When daylight comes, comes in the light;
In front, the sun climbs slow, how slowly!
But westward, look, the land is bright!
Arthur Hugh Clough.

WHEN the troubled year 1906 ended, the shadow of reaction began to deepen over the Russian empire. One by one the granted liberties and promised reforms of the manifesto of October, 1905, were being revoked and recalled. Early in 1907 the second Duma met, struggled through a brief existence, and was dissolved by the{482} magic word of the Czar. Discouragement then possessed the people—a sense of heartbreaking hopelessness. To the men and women who had borne the heat and burden of the struggle it seemed as if all the efforts and the sacrifices, the lives surrendered to the cause of liberalism and progress, had been in vain. The world at large passed hasty judgment: “The revolution has petered out.” The announcement that a new Duma would be convened in the late autumn of 1907 sounded hollow, for the new election laws, which disenfranchised millions of peasants, promises so completely to devitalize the results of the elections at the very outset, that the whole institution of parliamentarism seems reduced to a mere shell.

The results of my observations lead me to accept this period of stagnation and temporary inactivity as a matter of course, a natural phenomenon, consistent and compatible with the mighty struggle in which the Russian nation is now plunged.

At the beginning of this book I pointed out that the periods of great revolutions are seldom brief. M. Leroy-Beaulieu said to Tolstoi that Russia’s struggle might continue fifty years. Even that, it seems to me, is a comparatively short time for the working out of all the changes which Russia must undergo before she will be brought to the standard of modern civilization. The political phases of the situation are secondary to the vital social and economic changes which are working out. The ideas of a nation, as well as the customs of a great people and the forms of an ancient government, are all in the flux. Decades must necessarily elapse before such vast renovation is completed. And in the meantime the movement making for this renovation remains of world-wide importance, palpitating as it does with human interest, and involving as it does the concern of a{483} substantial amount of the world’s commercial interest. France, Germany, Austria, England, and America all have business and commercial associations in Russia which are affected by the development or retardation of industrial and agricultural Russia. The intellectual influence of the philosophy of the revolution is equally universal, watched closely by Germany, and Austria, and France, and ultimately destined to touch the uttermost parts of the world. So was it in France—to a greater degree, perhaps, shall this be true of Russia.

Precisely as there cannot be mountains without valleys, or flow without ebb, so there cannot be revolution without counter-revolution, or progress without reaction.

In the manifesto of October, 1905, Czar Nicholas II said:

“We charge our government to carry out our inflexible will as follows:

“1. To establish an unshakable foundation of the civic liberties of the population, such as inviolability of the person, liberty of conscience, of speech, of meetings, and of unions....

“3. To lay as an unchangeable rule that no law can enter into force without the approval of the imperial Duma; and that the representatives of the people should be entitled to an effective control over the executive power....”

All the world knows how speedily every one of these glorious promises was swept aside. The “inflexible will” of the present Emperor of Russia is the most anarchistic influence in the world to-day. It submits to no discipline, it bows to no law, refuses to remember even through brief days most solemn pledges made to{484} the Russian people before the world, and nonchalantly acquiesces in the careless breaking of even God’s laws. The government of Russia to-day rests not on law, or order, or right, but on might, militarism, and simon-pure terrorism.

In Appendix D may be found the report of Captain Pietuchow on the Siedlce pogrom, in which is quoted the following utterance of Colonel Tichanowsky: “We must set against the terrorism of the revolution a still more frightful terrorism.” And this is what the officials of czardom are doing to-day. And the terrorism of the government is not only a “more frightful terrorism” than the “terrorism of the revolution,” it is the most frightful and the most monstrous terrorism of modern times, because the forms of government are converted into the tools of absolute lawlessness, and the victims of this terror are often the helpless among the people of the empire—women and girls thrown to the lust of Cossacks, old men and children the marks of police brutality. In the chapter on governmental terrorism, and in the appendix, there is adduced overwhelming evidence, and proof, of official complicity and governmental connivance with this terrorism. Beside the terrorism, the brutality and the ruthlessness of the Russian government, and the soldiers and officials acting in the name of the Russian government, the most heinous offenses of the people pale into insignificance. Individuals are human, and there comes a snapping-point when the sturdiest intellect can no longer beat back frenzy. But a government! A government, surely, cannot be exonerated on these grounds. Madness, desperation, passion should never possess the government of a great empire. If it does, then is the incapability of that government amply proven, and its fall deservedly imminent.{485}

After the dissolution of the second Duma the Moscow “Viedomosti,” a reactionary organ, printed the following:

The population of Russia amounts to some 150,000,000 souls. But in the revolution not more than 1,000,000 are inclined to take any active part. Were these 1,000,000 men and women shot down or massacred, there would still remain 149,000,000 inhabitants of Russia, and this would be quite sufficient to insure the greatness and prosperity of the Fatherland.

I myself heard a prominent Russian officer coolly advocate the immediate execution of two million men and women judiciously chosen from every section of the empire, in order to stamp out the movement toward constitutionalism!

As for the attitude of the Czar himself I have a conception which is based on careful observation, but which may be at variance with popular opinion in America. I believe that the Czar considers himself a God-ordained autocrat. I believe that he aspires to hand over to his heir and successor as absolute an autocracy as he inherited from his fathers. Elsewhere I have quoted a remark said to have been made by the Czar in 1906 to the effect that he believed “Russia could go for twenty years more without a constitution, and he purposed to do all he could to guide Russia back to where it was before the manifesto of October, 1905.”

Everything that has transpired in Russia since these words were spoken points to their truth. The manifesto was wrung from the Czar by the sudden tide of revolution which for once caught the government unprepared. The granting of the constitution was like oil upon troubled waters. But as soon as the government had recovered from the shock it sustained through the revolutionary{486} activity culminating in the general strike, it began quietly to take back everything that had been promised.

The first Duma elections were seriously menaced, then on the eve of the meeting of the parliament its powers were substantially reduced. During the sessions of that body insults and rebukes were heaped upon it, and finally it was disbanded. The elections for the second Duma were still more seriously restricted, and although Duma number two was in many respects an advance upon the first Duma it was presently dissolved upon a ridiculous pretext. It will be no surprise if the career of Duma number three is quite as short as that of the others, and if at the dissolution of it the government will say, in effect: “We have now experimented with parliamentary government, and the people of the country have shown their unpreparedness for self-government”—with the announcement of an indefinite postponement of further Duma experiments. This is practically what happened in Turkey. And in Russia itself, one hundred and fifty years ago, a similar incipient experiment was made. If this should occur now the world may well believe that the Russian government never had the faintest intention of introducing parliamentary government at this time.

As for M. Stolypin—I believe him to be a shrewd, able administrator. I do not believe for a moment that he has liberal sympathies. In this I consciously take issue with many able writers, and even old and tried Russian correspondents. A member of the Constitutional Democratic Party, a deputy in the first Duma, a prominent university professor, who sat on a commission with M. Stolypin, and who had unusual opportunities for studying the premier, said to me: “I believe M. Stolypin to be the strongest man the government has, but a fanatic{487}

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Nicholas W. Tchaykovsky “Father of the Russian Revolution”



of reaction.” I would not use the word “fanatic,” but I do believe him to be a devoted champion of reaction and autocracy. At the same time, he appreciates the desirability of appearing before the world in the rôle of a would-be reformer. No modern statesman has watched the press of the world more closely than he, and none has been quicker to trim his sails according to the weather indications that he has there discerned.

M. Stolypin, besides being a clever and able minister, is also a brave man. And withal he is blessed with a charming and gracious personality, and it is through the irresistible influence of his polished and cosmopolitan manners that he so diplomatically throws dust in the eyes of the world through the correspondents and business representatives of different countries who from time to time are accorded interviews with him.

It remains true, however, in spite of his grace and affability, that previous to his administration women and young girls and boys of sixteen and seventeen were not hanged and shot for “suspected” revolutionary activity. It was M. Stolypin who inaugurated the field courts-martial which endeavor to confuse petty civil offenses with revolutionary crimes, thus affording an excuse for hundreds of executions.

An Associated Press despatch from St. Petersburg under date of July 23, 1907, read as follows:

From many quarters come reports of summary executions under the new regulations for the military district courts, which went into force Saturday. These regulations undo the work of the recent Duma, which abolished the notorious reign of the drumhead court-martial.

Under them only seventy-two hours are permitted to elapse between indictment and execution, including the appeal to the Military Court of Cassation, whereas a fortnight was permitted under the old régime. These courts, too, have jurisdiction in all provinces,{490} whereas the old drumhead courts could act only in provinces that had been placed in a state of extraordinary defense.

At Kieff yesterday five sappers were executed, and to-day another sapper was sentenced to death. Three peasants have been executed at Moscow, another at Warsaw, and at Yekaterinoslaff three workmen have been put to death.

At Riga a young man, named Berland, went into a clothing-store, chose an overcoat, and then started for the door. When asked to settle his bill, he drew a revolver, covered the clerk, and got away. He was captured and sentenced to death. Another young man, named Danbe, was sentenced to death at Riga for the theft of $5, and two girl accomplices, aged 12 and 20 years, were sentenced to exile and hard labor for life.

I quote this telegram because the Associated Press has never been suspected of pro-revolutionary proclivities so far as I know, and because it indicates the true character of M. Stolypin and his non-temporizing administration.

In thus emphasizing the offenses—not to say crimes—of the present government, I doubtless lay myself open to the charge of anti-governmental bias, yet I believe I am neither guilty of this charge nor blind to the faults, weaknesses, and mistakes of the revolutionary movement. My endeavor has been to present a true picture of Russia to-day, and of the struggle going on there as I have witnessed it. Yet I must point out once more that the responsibility of a government is necessarily of a more serious nature than that of individuals who are the victims of governmental and official lawlessness, and whose life and environment, in spite of all they might do, is made insufferable through the corruption, inefficiency, and general immorality of the officials who are set to rule and to administer the land.

There is a terrible menace, a grave danger, it seems to me, in this prolonged struggle. Where all standards of public and private morality are shaken—where rulers{491}

[Image unavailable.]

Catherine Breshkovsky

The first woman ever sentenced to hard labor in the mines of Kara. After spending 23 years in prison and in Siberia she escaped, and after making a visit to America in behalf of her countrymen she has returned once more to her hazardous work in the heart of Russia, where she is now at work disguised as a peasant



and lawgivers are arch lawbreakers—the characters of the individuals living under such a régime must suffer. And alas, for the rising generation! When one thinks on these things the prophecy of Tolstoi has greatest weight—perhaps the seer in this, as in so many other things, is right, and Russia will continue to go from bad to worse, until the whole people awake in the very bottom of the abyss, and then, and then only, will they turn to God as their only hope of salvation.

If the public opinion of the world would cry out against foreign bankers periodically advancing money to the present government to maintain its grip at the very throat of the people, governmental concessions would have to be granted. As it is, the people of Russia feel themselves pitted not only against their own government which has all of the machinery of the army and police to support it, but also against the financial interests of Europe and the rest of the world. The mere moral sympathy of America is not much of an offset to a French loan, or an Anglo-Russian alliance, unless it results in preventing American bankers from advancing American money to perpetuate the existing régime.

These foreign loans are a terrible discouragement to the Russian people. Whenever the people reach the point where they believe their government will be obliged to yield certain fundamental human rights, through sheer inability to longer feed the forces of reaction, and to pay for the upkeep of the army, then the foreign bankers spring to the rescue.

In Russia I do not look for any voluntary “grant” of liberties or freedom from czardom. I believe that, however much one may desire constitutional reform, the Russian people will eventually obtain their liberties{494} through fighting for them. I foresee a long, long struggle.

Since October, 1905, the Russian people have advanced enormously, and the Duma experiments, handicapped as they were, have yet proved immense educational influences; they have served to arouse the whole people to what may be, and to awaken within them a realization of what sooner or later must be. On this count alone the value of these short-lived parliaments must not be underrated. The Russian people now understand their own situation as they never have grasped it before. They have not merely lost faith in the Czar, they have learned that the trouble with Russia to-day is that it suffers a blight, and that blight is autocracy, which in its very essence is incompatible with modern civilization, and that while the obliteration of autocracy may be a long task, the only escape from their present bondage is the accomplishment of this task. And the period of the struggle making for this end will be recorded in history as the Russian Revolution.{495}




A—Caucasian testimony; B—The Duma’s Reply to the Throne Speech; C—M. Lopuchin’s letter to M. Stolypin; D—Report on Siedlce pogrom; E—Notes on Wages and Cost of Living.



The Village Sos, April 4, 1905.

(1) Parish Priest Ter-Akop Bagdasaryan: We learned that a special detachment of Cossacks, under the command of Colonel Vevern, was coming; that the detachment was going from village to village, instructing the Tartars as well as the Armenians to live peacefully, threatening to punish severely all those that will disturb the peace. We were glad of this, and when we learned that the detachment was approaching our village, we at once set out to prepare bread, meat, forage, and also a lodging for the detachment. On the 11th of March, at about 2 o’clock, we noticed the detachment from afar. I called together the prominent people of the village, donned my vestments, took a cross and a Bible, bread and salt, and{498} we started out to greet the detachment. In front of the Cossacks walked many Armenians from various villages, leading the Cossacks’ horses. These Armenians, on noticing the women in our village, were astonished, and they said: “What does this mean? Have they lost their reason? Why have they left their women in the village? The Cossacks violate the women everywhere.” When our women learned of this, they began to run from the village. Justice of the Peace Yermolayev rode first. He said to us in the language of the Tartars: “Go back, you are not worthy to receive us.” After that the same Yermolayev had a conversation with the commander of the detachment, and then turned to me and to our representative people and said: “Your bread and salt cannot be accepted. There will be a different settlement with you.” We returned to the village in a painful frame of mind. As soon as the Cossacks entered the village—there were several hundred of them—a signal was sounded. The Cossacks dismounted and rushed after the women; they caught them in the ravines, on the roads, in the forests. Terrible cries were heard on all sides. The Cossacks violated the women, tore off their headgear, their ornaments, and other valuables which they had taken along with them as they hastened from the houses. All this was witnessed by the officers, the district chief, and the justice of the peace, but they did not stop them. Among the women that were violated in the outskirts of the village was a girl of 16-17 years of age, Kola Arutyunyanz. As there were some women that did not succeed in running away in time, I asked all those that remained to come to my house and I said: “As long as I am alive I will defend your honor, and if they kill me, then you shall also die.” Some twenty women gathered in my house, but there were still some women that remained in their houses. Some of these were old, and they thought that they would not be attacked on that account; others did not have time enough to take their children along; still others had sick children. When it became dark the Cossacks began to break into the houses, to plunder, beat and violate the women that were in the houses. Cries of men and{499} women for help came from everywhere. The authorities heard the sobs of the unfortunates, they saw and knew what indecencies were being perpetrated, but they did not check them. It was about 12 o’clock at midnight I was called out of the house. I asked what I was wanted for. I was told that the Cossacks had beaten Ovanes Airetetyan Krikoryanz, that Ovanes was dying, and that they wanted me to come and give him the communion. I went to Ovanes’s house and found him unconscious. The mother of Ovanes, the old woman Nubara, related the following: “When the Cossacks began to break into the houses Ovanes went down to guard the yard, and told me to lock myself in the house and watch it. Suddenly the dogs began to bark. The Cossacks had entered the yard. Ovanes (he was a reservist of low rank) began to implore the Cossacks, half in Russian, half in Tartarian, to spare his life. At that time a powerful blow resounded and right after it Ovanes cried out: ‘Oh, I am dying!’ For a short time a faint rattling was heard, and then all became quiet. A few minutes later the Cossacks turned to the doors of our house and started to break in; at last the doors gave way and the Cossacks came in; there was no light in the house and they did not see that I was an old woman. Despite all entreaties they threw me down and violated me, one after another.” After the assault the old woman, almost 70 years old, did not come to herself for half an hour. Having heard Nubara’s statement and finding it impossible to give the communion to Ovanes, as he was in a state of unconsciousness, I returned to my house. In the morning I was notified that Ovanes died. Then I went to the superior officer of the district, Freilich. Yermolayev was also there. In answer to my information he said: ‘Well, what of it? If he died, bury him.’ After I had left, Freilich and Yermolayev went to the commander of the detachment and told him what I had said about Ovanes. He sent two soldiers to investigate. These reported to the commander that Ovanes was alive. Then the commander ordered me to appear before him, and told me that I gave him a false report. Yermolayev,{500} who was present, began to assail me, saying that it was I who had organized the attack upon the Tartars, and that I and my daughter led the attack upon Kadjakh, and that I was in general a dangerous man. I remarked to Yermolayev that his accusations were unjustified, that my daughter had been studying in the Moscow Gymnasium, that she had been in Caucasia for two years and that she had been in Siberia since September, visiting at her brother’s. The commander of the detachment ordered my arrest for the “false” report. The detachment stayed in our village until 2 o’clock of the next day and before leaving heaped the most painful indecencies upon the population. The Cossacks dishonored another girl who was suffering from paralysis, Nubata Musayanz, 12 years old. Her grandfather, Musa, a man of about 70, took his grandchild into his arms and was about to carry her away from the Cossacks, but they threw the old man down and beat him mercilessly, and trampled him with their boots; he is very sick now and the doctors say that unless he undergoes a serious operation he will die soon. The paralyzed little girl, Nubata, was dishonored by the Cossacks in front of the old man.


The Village Sos, April 5, 1905.

(1) Kola Arutyunyanz, 18 years old: “I ran together with Saarnaza Arutyunyanz. Three Cossacks overtook us and violated us. I was a virgin. The assault was committed upon us after a hard struggle. After the first three Cossacks, three others came, and they also violated us.”

(2 and 3) Saarnaza Arutyunyanz and Tuti Kasparyanz corroborated the above given testimony, adding that the Cossacks robbed them of several valuable things which they managed to take along with them. Tuti showed the skirt that was torn while she was dishonored. Saarnaza is 40 years old and Tuti—50. The Cossacks tore from the sufferers their silver head-ornaments.

(4) Nubara Krikoryanz, 70-75 years old, mother of Ovanes Krikoryanz. She corroborated all the testimony given{501} by the priest, and added the following: “I was violated by five Cossacks. It was dark in the room. The Cossacks, entering the room, lit a match, which was soon extinguished. Seeing that I was a woman, the Cossacks seized me and violated me, one after another. It was at midnight. The Cossacks plundered our house. The wife of Ovanes was hiding in the mountains with others, and only thanks to this circumstance she escaped disgrace.{502}



Your Majesty: In a speech addressed to the representatives of the people it pleased your Majesty to announce your resolution to keep unchanged the decree by which the people were assembled to carry out legislative functions in coöperation with their monarch. The State Duma sees in this solemn promise of the monarch to the people a lasting pledge for the strengthening and the further development of legislative procedure in strict conformity with constitutional principles. The State Duma, on its side, will direct all its efforts toward perfecting the principles of national representation and will present for your Majesty’s confirmation a law for national representation, based, in accordance with the manifest will of the people, upon principles of universal suffrage.{503}

Your Majesty’s summons to us to coöperate in a work which shall be useful to the country finds an echo in the hearts of all the members of the State Duma. The State Duma, made up of representatives of all classes and all races inhabiting Russia, is united in a warm desire to regenerate Russia and to create within her a new order, based upon the peaceful coöperation of all classes and races, upon the firm foundation of civic liberty.

But the State Duma deems it its duty to declare that while present conditions exist, such reformation is impossible.

The country recognizes that the ulcer in our present régime is in the arbitrary power of officials who stand between the Czar and the people, and seized with a common impulse, the country has loudly declared that reformation is possible only upon the basis of freedom of action and the participation by the nation itself in the exercise of the legislative power and the control of the executive. In the manifesto of October 17, 1905, your Majesty was pleased to announce from the summit of the throne a firm determination to employ these very principles as the foundation for Russia’s future, and the entire nation hailed these good tidings with a universal cry of joy.

Yet the very first days of freedom were darkened by the heavy affliction into which the country was thrown by those who would bar the path leading to the Czar; those who by trampling down the very fundamental principles of the imperial manifesto of October 17, 1905, overwhelmed the land with the disgrace of organized massacres, military reprisals, and imprisonments without trial.

The impression of these recent administrative acts has been felt so keenly by the people that no pacification of the country is possible until the people are assured that henceforth arbitrary acts of officials shall cease, nor be longer shielded by the name of your Majesty; until all the ministers shall be held responsible to the representatives of the people, and that the administration in every step of state service shall be reformed accordingly.

Sire: The idea of completely freeing the monarch from responsibility can be implanted in the minds of the nation{504} only by making the ministers responsible to the people. Only a ministry fully trusted by the majority of the Duma can establish confidence in the government; and only in the presence of such confidence is the peaceful and regular work of the State Duma possible. But above all it is most needful to free Russia from the operation of exceptional laws for so-called “special and extraordinary protection,” and “martial law,” under cover of which the arbitrary authority of irresponsible officials has grown up and still continues to grow.

Side by side with the establishment of the principle of responsibility of the administration to the representatives of the people, it is indispensable, for the successful work of the Duma, that there should be implanted, and definitely adopted, the fundamental principle of popular representation based on the coöperation of the monarch with the people, as the only source of legislative power. Therefore all barriers between the imperial power and the people must be removed. No branch of legislative power should ever be closed to the inspection of the representative of the people, in coöperation with the monarch. The State Duma considers it its duty to state to your Majesty, in the name of the people, that the whole nation, with true inspiration and energy, with genuine faith in the near prosperity of the country, will only then fulfil its work of reformation, when the Council of State, which stands between it and the throne, shall cease to be made up, even in part, of members who have been appointed instead of being elected; when the law of collecting taxes shall be subject to the will of the representatives of the people; and when there shall be no possibility, by any special enactment, of limiting the legislative jurisdiction of the representatives of the people. The State Duma also considers it inconsistent with the vital interests of the people that any bill imposing taxes, when once passed by the Duma, should be subject to amendment on the part of any body which is not representative of the mass of taxpayers.

In the domain of its future legislative activity, the State Duma, performing the duty definitely imposed upon it by the{505} people, deems it necessary to provide the country, without delay, with a strict law providing for the inviolability of the person, freedom of conscience, liberty of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of association, convinced that without the strict observance of these principles, the foundation of which was laid in the manifesto of October 17, 1905, no social reform can be realized. The Duma also considers it necessary to secure for all citizens the right of petition to the people’s representatives. The State Duma has further the inflexible conviction that neither liberty nor order can be made firm and secure except on the broad foundation of equality before the law of all citizens without exception. Therefore the State Duma will establish a law for the perfect equality before the law of all citizens, abolishing all limitations dependent upon estate, nationality, religion, and sex. The Duma, however, while striving to free the country from the binding fetters of administrative guardianship and leaving the limitation of the liberty of the citizen to the independent judicial authorities, still deems the application of capital punishment, even in accordance with a legal sentence, as inadmissible. A death sentence should never be pronounced. The Duma holds that it has the right to proclaim, as the unanimous desire of the people, that a day should come when a law forever abolishing capital punishment here shall be established. In anticipation of that law the country to-day is looking to your Majesty for a suspension of all death sentences.

The investigation of the needs of the rural population and the undertaking of legislative measures to meet those wants will be considered among the first problems of the State Duma. The most numerous part of the population, the hard-working peasants, impatiently await the satisfaction of their acute want of land and the first Russian State Duma would be recreant to its duty were it to fail to establish a law to meet this primary want by resorting to the use of lands belonging to the state, the crown, the royal family, and monastic and church lands; also private landed property on the principle of the law of eminent domain.{506}

The Duma also deems it necessary to create laws giving equality to the peasantry, removing the present degrading limitations which separate them from the rest of the people. The Duma considers the needs of working people as pressing and that there should be legislative measures taken for the protection of hired labor. The first step in that direction ought to be to give freedom to the hired laborer in all branches of work, freedom to organize, freedom to act, and to secure his material and spiritual welfare.

The Duma will also deem it its duty to employ all its forces in raising the standard of intelligence, and above all it will occupy itself in framing laws for free and general education.

Along with the aforementioned measures the Duma will pay special attention to the just distribution of the burden of taxation, unjustly imposed at present upon the poorer classes of inhabitants; and to the reasonable expenditure of the means of the state. Not less vital in legislative work will be a fundamental reform of local government and of self-government, extending the latter to all the inhabitants upon the principles of universal suffrage.

Bearing in mind the heavy burden imposed upon the people by your Majesty’s army and navy, the Duma will secure principles of right and justice in those branches of the service.

Finally, the Duma deems it necessary to point out as one of the problems pressing for solution the long-crying demands of the different nationalities. Russia is an empire inhabited by many different races and nationalities. Their spiritual union is possible only by meeting the needs of each one of them, and by preserving and developing their national characteristics. The Duma will try to satisfy those reasonable wants.

Your Majesty: On the threshold of our work stands one question which agitates the soul of the whole nation; and which agitates us, the chosen and elected of the people, and which deprives us of the possibility of undisturbedly proceeding toward the first part of our legislative activity. The first word uttered by the State Duma met with cries of sympathy from the whole Duma. It was the word amnesty. The coun{507}try thirsts for amnesty, to be extended to all those whose offenses were the result of either religious or political convictions; and all persons implicated in the agrarian movement. These are demands of the national conscience which cannot be overlooked; the fulfilment of which cannot be longer delayed. Sire, the Duma expects of you full political amnesty as the first pledge of mutual understanding and mutual agreement between the Czar and his people.{508}




Herewith we give the translation in full of the letter of M. Alexis Lopuchin, formerly Director of the Police Department of Russia. This is made from a German translation of the original Russian, and is vouched for, as to its correctness, by the author of the letter.

Honored Sir:

I deemed it my duty to bring to your attention through my letter of the 26th of May the fact that I gave to the editor of the journal “Retsch” the copy of the report of the chief of the special division of the police department to the minister of the interior, concerning the organization of the pogrom against the Jews in Alexandrovsk (government of Yekaterinoslaff), and touching the participation therein of the authorities of the police department. I did this in the firm conviction that it was only through the imperial Duma, when well informed by the public press, we could hope, once for all, to destroy the great danger menacing the State because of the systematic preparation by government officials of Jewish and other pogroms. I informed you of my action lest some subordinate of Your Excellency might be held responsible for having furnished that journal with the report.

I deemed it unnecessary in my communication to impart to you the facts detailed in the report of Markaroff, and with which I was familiar; I refrained from doing so because it was furthest from my thoughts that it could be possible that Your Excellency would conceal the truth that was revealed{509} by the investigation called forth at the request of the Duma, in connection with the report of Markaroff.

But yet must I be convinced from the newspaper reports of the Duma session of June 21st, that in your answer to the inquiry of the Duma, the material that was put into your hands for the proper preparation thereof, the real facts in the case, were substantially set aside. I, therefore, conceived it to be my bounden duty to impart to you, in this communication, facts that are well known to me.

In January of this year several persons informed me that there were indications of the preparation in different sections of Russia of a Jewish pogrom, and they appealed for my help to prevent such misfortune. Investigations that were made established the truth of their statements, and satisfied me of the participation by public officials in the preparations for a pogrom. They brought me on the trail of a printing-office in the police department.

On January 20, Count Witte, the president of the Council of Ministers, invited me to his office and asked me to give him my views on the Jewish question, and as to the reason for the participation of the Jewish proletariat in the revolutionary movement. After I had clearly presented to him my main point of view on the question, I told him that, aside from the judicial aspect of the question, there was another of great importance, namely, anti-Semitism, that not only existed because of the long-continued period in which the Jews were without rights, but because, as well, of the direct provocations against them on the part of persons in public authority. As a special indication of such provocation, I pointed to the incident of the printing-office in the police department, of whose output, however, I had no sufficient evidence in my hands, and Count Witte assigned to me, as an officer of the Minister of the Interior, the duty of making a close investigation into the matter.

I proved the following conclusively:

After the manifesto of the 17th October, 1905, thanks to the disturbances that broke out in many places after this act{510} of the government, evidence of a reaction appeared in circumscribed sections of society. Ratschkowski, chief of the political division of the police department, an officer assigned to special duty by the Minister of the Interior, undertook to maintain and strengthen this reaction by the issuing of effective proclamations. They were printed by an officer of the gendarmerie, in the building of the gendarmerie in St. Petersburg, upon a printing-press that was taken from revolutionaries when a house search was made. I had in my hand one of these proclamations; it was addressed to the working people, bore the signature “Group of Russian Factory Workers of St. Petersburg,” and sought to destroy the faith of working-men in their radical leaders by maintaining that these leaders had misappropriated funds that had been collected for the political campaign. This proclamation was not the only one that was printed in the headquarters of the gendarmerie; but at the time of investigation I could not get others because they had all been distributed.

As the printing-press that served the purpose of the revolutionaries failed to satisfy the present needs, a complete one was purchased at the expense of the police department that was capable of printing one thousand per hour. This was set up in the secret service section of the police department.

Captain Comisaroff was given its supervision, and two compositors were employed upon the work. On this machine there were printed in December, 1905, and in January, 1906, not one but a vast number of proclamations, all composed variously, but all of the same general tenor.

In all these proclamations, alongside of a condemnation of the revolutionary movement, the information was offered that non-believers, mainly the Jews, were responsible therefor, and their purpose was to provoke an uprising against these people.

I had in my hands three proclamations that were printed in the printing-office of the police department. As I positively proved, they were not the only ones; the fourth one was just set up at that moment (February 3). It contained the most{511} ridiculous complaints against the Jews, and urged that they be boycotted in the Duma elections. But of the printed proclamations that I had in my hand one appears especially as law violating; the author, addressing himself to the soldiers, calls upon the army for a campaign against “the Poles, Armenians, and Jews.” Thousands of copies were printed, of every proclamation. Of the proclamation addressed to the soldiers, 5,000 copies were sent to Vilna by the officers on special duty to Mr. Schkott, the governor-general, for distribution in that city. Schkott distributed a portion of them himself in the evening in the streets of the city, and gave the rest of them to the chief of police of Vilna, who, on January 28, telegraphed to the police department that in view of the great success that attended the distribution of the proclamation addressed to the soldiers, to send him a new lot. Several thousand copies more were printed and sent on to the Vilna chief of police. The same proclamation was sent in thousands of copies to Kursk, being taken by Surgeon Michailoff, assigned there to duty, who, at the request of M. Ratschkowski, was appointed secret agent of the police department. Michailoff also telegraphed (February 1 or 2) for a new lot of these proclamations in view of their great success among the soldiers. Aside from these, the appeals printed by the police department were distributed in St. Petersburg through M. Dubrovin, and the League of the Russian People, over which he presided; in Moscow through the publisher of the “Viedomosti,” Gringmut, who was given a large number of these appeals in December, 1905, by Ratschkowski personally.

The provocative appeals of the police department were also distributed in other states, by the police and gendarmerie.

All that is narrated above I imparted in January of this year to Count Witte, president of the committee of ministers, and I gave him specimens of all the proclamations above referred to (for that reason I have none at hand for present use). Count Witte at once called before him Captain Comisaroff, who acknowledged the truth of all this information. To me, also, he confirmed all these statements without{512} exception. At the same time he declared that he acted under orders of Herr Ratschkowski; that he then presented the text of the proclamation to Wuitsch, the director of the police department, and did not at any time put them in type until the director stated in writing that he had read the proclamation.

Express orders were issued by Secretary of State Witte that the printing-office of the police department should be wiped out of existence. However Captain Comisaroff merely took apart the printing-press as a precaution against the printing of further proclamations, by order of Ratschkowski, in spite of Witte’s orders; and to make that altogether impossible the press was taken from the police department to the residence of Captain Comisaroff.

Aside from this and altogether without regard thereto, Your Excellency was confidentially informed that the proclamations which called for the extermination of the Jews in the city of Alexandrovsk (Yekaterinoslaff government) were circulated even after all the uprisings ceased, even after December 27, 1905; I consider it my duty to attach herewith a specimen of a proclamation that was distributed in the city of Alexandrovsk February 7 and 8, and that called for the extermination of the Jews on the 9th of February, the anniversary of the breaking out of the war with Japan.

Your Excellency was confidentially informed that the officer for special duty, Ratschkowski, remained at the head of the political division of the police department until the end of April; that although this office was wiped out by the highest authority, he remained at the head of the entire secret and protective police; that the right was given him to supervise, so far as he deemed it necessary, the course of all political occurrences and trials that affected the police department, and he was further authorized to utilize the social organizations in the interest of the government.

* * * * * * * *

Permit me, sir, to regard it as my moral duty, aside from imparting to you this information, to convey to you, as a{513} former director of the police department, the reasons, incomprehensible at a first glance, why it is not only impossible for the central government to suppress the pogrom politics of the local authorities when the organization of a pogrom originates with them, but not even to be well informed as to the organization of the pogrom itself. One of these reasons is the freedom from punishment of the officers of the government who are responsible for the pogroms—no proof need be given of this. But there are other reasons of a general character; at the time I was director of the police department a pogrom occurred; that of Kishineff. The foreign and our own illegal press that then had the privilege to speak out on our internal conditions as well as several circles of society, put upon the police department the responsibility for the organization of this pogrom. There was no responsibility that could be attached to the police department; yet the charge was not groundless in so far as they started out with the supposition that the police department and the ministry of the interior were possessed of all possible power. In spite of the closest investigation as to the participation of officers of the government in the organization of the Kishineff pogrom, it was impossible for me; as director of the police department, to absolutely prove the fact, and yet there could be no doubt whatever of their participation. And what is especially characteristic, the secret working of the pogrom organization became clear to me only after I ceased to hold an official position in the ministry of the interior.

And in such a position does every official of the central government find himself if he yields no sympathy to pogrom politics. That is to be accounted for by the fact that the minister of the interior and the central political organization are altogether powerless—the police and the gendarmerie are not in his hands, but precisely the reverse: he is in the hands of the superiors of these officials. The fact is that, through the organization of the secret political police, because of the exceptional law providing for extraordinary military protection, and I the long continuance of that condition in the{514} country, the whole power has been transferred from above to below.

Aside from the continued causes that have been uncovered, the weakness of the governmental authority, there are existing at present other causes.

I met no one among the political or general police officials who was not absolutely and thoroughly convinced that in reality there were two governments in existence, each of which drove its own politics to the other, one embodied in the person of Secretary of State Witte, the other in the person of Trepoff, who, according to general conviction, brought to the Czar reports of the condition of affairs in the empire, different than those that Count Witte brought to him, and in this wise developed a different political position. This point of view finds its foundation in the fact that General Trepoff, after his appointment as commander of the palace, succeeded in having special funds put at his command for the engagement of a separate force of secret agents, and he, therefore, became possessed of tools in hand that should only be in control of the minister of the interior.

This point of view finds further foundation in the fact that General Trepoff, even after he gave up the post he held in the ministry of the interior, in October, 1905, succeeded without the knowledge of the minister of the interior, in getting out of the police department all the documents, except those of no moment, for the purpose of looking through them; not only current documents, but those of no present use—even though all these had nothing whatever to do with the commander of the palace.

As to what purpose General Trepoff had in mind with reference to the secret funds, and the documents of the police department, in what direction he was inclined to utilize his position in regard to these, there exists, Your Excellency, in the mind of the undersigned, a firm conviction—rightly or wrongly—that General Trepoff sought to influence the politics of the government.


This conviction, indeed, is as firm as the conviction that General Trepoff sympathized with the pogroms politics. And whatever power the ministry may set to work in opposition to pogroms, they will be valueless so long as the local police are convinced of the lack of power of the ministry and the possession of power of other authorities.




The provisional governor-general of the government of Siedlce, Major-general Engelke, by virtue of order No. 12, of August 10, this year, named Colonel Tichanowsky of the 39th regiment of dragoons as chief of the garrison of defense of the city of Siedlce.

On August 11, at 12 o’clock in the morning, I was called to the gendarmerie office, where there were already gathered Colonel Wyrgolitsch, Captains Potosky and Grigoriew, the acting police chief of the city of Siedlce, Staff Captain Protopopow, and Colonel Tichanowsky, chief of the garrison of defense. There was advised an adequate blockade of the city and the undertaking of a general search of the houses in Siedlce. The last measure was dictated in a telegram of the governor-general. Colonel Tichanowsky demanded immediately that there be named to him several prominent citizens of the city of Siedlce, who, although they had not personally taken part in the revolutionary movement, yet favored it in any possible way. Colonel Tichanowsky expressed the view that he would put these people in prison and hold them as hostages. He would tell them that in case of an attack on the life of any officer of the government, they would all be murdered. Colonel Tichanowsky said that he would take upon himself all the responsibility for the matter. As Colonel Tichanowsky was asked in what manner these hostages were to be killed, he turned to the chief of the police with the question whether he could not put at his service a policeman who{517} would be prepared to simulate insanity, and shoot the hostages in prison, or put arsenic into their food. “We must set against the terrorism of the revolution a still more frightful terrorism,” rejoined Colonel Tichanowsky, and he stuck to his point of view, always reiterating that he would assume full responsibility.

At six o’clock in the evening of the same day all were again assembled in the office of the gendarmerie, and considered the plan of a blockade of the city for the purpose of a general house searching. But it appeared very clear that it was impossible to undertake a general house searching with the help of only two battalions of the Libau infantry regiments, and a single cavalry regiment that were stationed in Siedlce. Such a house searching would cripple the life of the city for more than twenty-four hours, and then would lead to no positive result. Colonel Tichanowsky, however, stood for a general house searching, and demanded, among other things, that the chief of the police should hold in readiness during the house searching the fire engines, and that at the same time all the doctors in the hospitals should be assembled. As for himself, Colonel Tichanowsky promised to hold in readiness the military ambulances. As Colonel Tichanowsky was asked for what purpose all these preparations were required, he answered: “That there might be some dead and wounded ones, as they would proceed pitilessly and firearms would be used. It might happen that conflagrations would ensue in that way.” The officers of the dragoons, as it became known the self-same day, rubbed their hands in glee as they came together, and said publicly, with a pleased laugh: “We will make for them a decent pogrom; we will deal with them pitilessly.” The soldiers also carried on the same kind of a conversation. On the 13th of August, at three o’clock in the afternoon, there was another conference held with Colonel Tichanowsky, in the office of the gendarmerie, which declared that the general house searching would be taken up that night. At his command I gave him a list of the persons who were known because of their criminal deeds and also their addresses.{518} As we learned the decision of Colonel Tichanowsky, as well as some of the other officers and soldiers of regiments of dragoons, we determined to protest against the plan of Colonel Tichanowsky for the house searching, calling attention to the inadequacy of the means at hand. Colonel Tichanowsky would not allow himself to be swerved. Colonel Wyrgolitsch, therefore, wrote at once to the governor, acquainted him with the general side of approaching house searching, that is, of the time that was necessary for such an undertaking; acquainted him with the determination of the military and advised the postponement of the house searching until the arrival of more troops. To get more troops to help the temporary governor-general went, on the 13th of August, to Warsaw. The request for troops was denied, however, and on principle the idea of a general house searching was given up.

On August 18 Colonel Wyrgolitsch became sick and had to take to his bed. During my visit to the governor I reiterated to him the determination of Colonel Tichanowsky and the military, emphasizing the matter, and advised that they be held in check. I said to him bluntly, that such a decision would lead only to plunder and a needless spilling of blood, just as happened on the 8th of August after the murder of Police Chief Delzer. The governor, it seemed to me, gave favorable attention to my views, made several notes, and promised to take the necessary steps in the matter. Up to August 26 I saw Tichanowsky a couple of times. He was then engaged in working out instructions for the military concerning the defense of the city. Among other things it was provided that in case of any alarm in the city the telegraph office would be compelled to refuse to accept private telegrams. I asked the purpose of this regulation. Colonel Tichanowsky answered, that he made this regulation so that the residents of the city could not, through the telegraph, ask for the cessation of the pogroms.

Characteristic of the personality of Colonel Tichanowsky are other deeds. For example, he said to the chief of police,{519} as he again discussed the plans for the general house searching: “Perhaps Captain Pietuchow doesn’t believe that we will arrest people. Those that appear on the list that he gave us will certainly not be found among those who are arrested.” That served at once for a declaration of the purpose of having in readiness the ambulance wagons and the medical staff in preparation for the house search. During the first night of the shooting in Siedlce, about three o’clock on the 27th of August, Colonel Tichanowsky wanted to have the military orchestra of the regiment of dragoons come to him from the armory, which was, however, denied him. Then he gathered together a chorus of soldiers, and their singing resounded in the midst of the noise of the rifles, the spilling of blood, the plundering, and the conflagration. Colonel Tichanowsky declared later that he wanted thereby to raise the spirit of the soldiers.

As it seems, he made it appear that he was upon the field of battle surrounded by a superior foe; finally, several days after the rioting, as there was a report in circulation that Colonel Tichanowsky was murdered, he came to the squadron whose commander he formerly was, told them of this report, and bade them in case he should be really killed, they would honor his memory decently and bathe themselves to the ears in blood. The officers of dragoons told me this later at breakfast and cited this as an example of the bravery of Colonel Tichanowsky.

On August 26, at half-past six in the evening, as I have already reported, several revolver shots resounded in the city, to which the troops replied at once by a bombardment of the city, during which absolutely no consideration was shown whether or not shots were fired from the houses attacked. So, for example, on the first night window-panes were destroyed by bullets in a girls’ boarding-school, whence surely no shots were fired. The window-panes in the gendarmerie office were also destroyed. The troops dealt without mercy toward the unoffending people. I, myself, was present when several persons, including elderly Jews, were dragged{520} into the police station, and saw how eagerly the soldiers abused them in the presence of Colonel Tichanowsky. I also saw how a dragoon fired shots in the vicinity of the police station at the residence of Circuit Judge Herr Mudrew. I also witnessed that a dragoon came to Colonel Tichanowsky and asked him for cartridges, whereupon the latter remarked: “There are too few dead.” As I saw all this, I begged Colonel Tichanowsky to put an end to the senseless shooting and clubbing, and rather to busy himself with a systematic plan for discovering the revolutionaries who really did fire off the revolvers. At the same time, I drew his attention to the fact that the soldiers were without nourishment, would be tired out early, and that toward evening the revolutionaries might undertake something serious. For reply I was told that the slaughter at Liao-yang lasted twelve days and that if it became necessary he was prepared to occupy the chair of the police for two weeks; and, further, that there were in the city enough stores with supplies of provisions to reach around. This was all said in the presence of soldiers.

Not being in the mood to witness such scenes, and in no position to make an end of them, I went home at nine o’clock in the morning (August 27). Toward ten o’clock the same morning, Colonel Tichanowsky sent for me, but I did not go, because I deemed my presence superfluous, especially as during the whole time I knew either Captain Potosky or Grigoriew was there.

The deputy police chief, Captain of the Staff Captain Protopopow, also sought to mollify Colonel Tichanowsky, but all to no purpose. To all arguments he replied: “It is none of your concern.”

The sub-officers of my gendarmerie office, who lived on the Chaussée, were prevented from entering the city until the morning dawned of August 27, by the military guards, who declared to them that it was forbidden to allow any one to enter the city. After dawn, the under officers of the gendarmerie took part in the house searching, but later they{521} were informed that the troops, in the absence of their officers, would not undertake any house searches, but would merely plunder, and, without any cause at all, kill them. One of the dragoons, whom Gendarmerie Corporal Efinow wanted to hinder in his work, drew his sword against him. The policemen were chased away in one place by the soldiers.

As early as the first night the dragoons turned to Gendarme Corporals Anvrejnk and Sajaz and asked them for petroleum for setting the houses on fire. When asked by the latter how they dare do such a thing, the soldiers replied: “We are commanded to do it.” Plundering took place already on the first night.

In the dusk of evening on August 27 the troops became completely unbridled. They invaded the beer-halls and wine-cellars and everything was either drunk or plundered.

On the second night the troops almost all were drunk. On September 5 there came from St. Petersburg Herr Gubonim, officer for special affairs of the minister of the interior, and bade me to be of service to him to get the truth of the Siedlce occurrences from August 27 to 28. I did not consider myself justified to conceal anything from an officer who came by direction of the minister to investigate the condition of things. I, therefore, told him fully about the personality of Colonel Tichanowsky, of the tone that reigned among the troops and especially about the Siedlce occurrences. Then, in answer to his request, I called into the gendarmerie office those persons who had suffered most loss and helped at the investigation, helped out much of them as did not speak or understand Russian. About forty private persons, and all the gendarmerie corporals were heard by Herr Gubonim.

House-owner Ksentepolsky proved by the testimony of a witness, his servant, that dragoons set fire to his barn. A similar statement, substantiated by witnesses, was to the effect that two or three other houses were similarly destroyed, and that to aid in their purpose the soldiers took the kerosene oil out of the street lamps.

Dr. Stein and an employee of the Jewish Hospital told how{522} wounded Jews brought into the courtyard of the hospital were beaten to death there by the soldiers.

The Jewess, Wolf, told how, on August 27, at three o’clock in the afternoon, dragoons, with an officer at their head, came to her home. Her husband and sons were in their praying vestments and saying their prayers. The officer cursed the husband and battered his head against the doorposts. Then a dragoon dragged him into the courtyard and killed him with a club, in the presence of his wife and in spite of her entreaties.

The head of one firm, Girard Rubinstein, stated that the soldiers had robbed him of a considerable sum of money, drafts for three thousand rubles, and other property. He called in as witness the staff captain of the 129th infantry regiment, Stojanew; a Jewish shoe-dealer named a dragoon, Akimew, whom she knew as one who, with other soldiers, had entered her store and plundered it. There were also statements made to the effect that women were outraged, but as yet these deeds were not sufficiently proven.

Many stated that the soldiers forced themselves into their homes, looked for nothing and simply demanded money. In those cases where their demands were not met, the people were either killed or taken to jail. According to the testimony, the Jews gave all that they had, and then as there was nothing left for the next group of soldiers that came along, the men were arrested and taken away.

There was also testimony as to provocative shots on the part of policemen. So, for instance, Behrenstein, the owner of a store for arms and bicycles, saw a policeman, whom he can identify, fire a shot in the air, and then point out to the soldiers whence the alleged shot came. Thereupon the soldiers bombarded the house.

The fact that the soldiers plundered is by all means fully established. The plundered goods were taken back by a portion of the troops to the police station. During the disturbances it was a common sight to see upon the streets the soldiers carrying various articles. The soldiers took only what they{523} could carry away. The other things, as furniture, they smashed on the spot.

The population of Siedlce unto the last man is satisfied that the occurrences in Siedlce are in consequence of provocation on the side of the dragoons, and partly also on the side of the police. They are convinced that the initiative of this provocation is to be written down to Colonel Tichanowsky. It was remarked that the dragoons, who otherwise carried their arms upon their backs, as early as August 26 carried them already in their right hands. Toward evening the dragoons explained to the merchants that it would be permitted to keep business open till half-past ten o’clock, while previously eight o’clock was the compulsory hour for closing. Inexplicable to the people, also, was the fact that of the soldiery but one was injured, which was the full extent of the injury done to the soldiers. One horse was wounded at the ear by a sword cut and another by a rifle shot through the nostrils. The residents remarked very rightly that if the revolutionaries wanted to do any damage whatever to the policemen and guardsmen, there would have been at least some loss among the troops during the early part of the trouble; for it would have been no easy matter for the revolutionaries to have placed two or three men armed with Brownings opposite every place where the soldiers were stationed, and, protected by the fences, shoot them and then escape under cover of the darkness. Even if we admit that at first the shots of the revolutionaries missed their mark, there remained for them after unsuccessful efforts nothing but to flee, and they surely would not thus waste the cartridges that had cost them so much pains to procure.

It becomes difficult to charge the troops themselves with provocation. So far as they are concerned, it would be easier, perhaps, to look for provocation on the side of the revolutionaries. These knew full well the temper of the troops and they wished, perhaps, to call forth what happened in order to discredit in this wise the government and the troops in the eyes of the whole public, and wring its sym{524}pathy for the people of Siedlce, who were greatly irritated over the recent murder of two persons who were of service in the city, President Mirowitsch and Police Captain Golzew. If we take it that this was really the case, then the revolutionaries certainly attained their purpose. The most peaceful and loyal residents say now: “The governor promised that so long as he was in Siedlce there would be no pogroms, and what do we behold? We need no investigation on the part of the authorities. We will undertake our own investigation right on the ground and get at the truth.”

The Russian people no longer look upon the soldiers as their defenders, and their appearance upon the street of horse-dragoons fills all with the feeling of unrest. The recall of Colonel Tichanowsky had a quieting effect upon the whole population.

The whole blame for the occurrences at Siedlce does not rest alone upon Colonel Tichanowsky, who was not even legally authorized to serve as commander-in-chief of the city. The blame rests also on the temporary governor-general, Major-general Engelke, who turned over to Colonel Tichanowsky absolutely entire power; and also upon the governor, who, as the permanent chief of the government of Siedlce, permitted the authority to pass out of his hands at so critical a moment and did not again take this authority into his own hands when the conditions so urgently demanded that he do so. The illness of the governor, so far as I knew, was not at all so serious as to justify a leave of absence.

Furthermore, during his illness, he yielded to Dolgowo-Saburow, a member of the agricultural office, only the authority to sign documents and the right to preside at various meetings. All other functions he retained for himself.

In this report I have sought to set down not only my views but also the impressions carried away by Herr Gubonim, officer for special duty.

Capt. Pietuchow.

Siedlce, September 27, 1906.{525}



The wages of boys in Russian coal-mines amount to about twenty cents per day. Boys and women are employed to pick the slate and refuse stone from the coal as in coal-mines in other countries. In Pennsylvania, the boys who do such work are called “breaker boys”; their pay is from sixty to seventy-five cents a day. In Russia, the women receive not more than five cents a day more than the boys. Pony drivers in the pits earn from forty to fifty cents a day.

The colliers, that is to say, the men who actually hew the coal, are paid according to the amount of work they do. The iniquitous contract system is generally in vogue in Russia. A contractor agrees to take out the coal for a definite sum. He then engages his own workmen and pays them what he must. Few coal-miners make more than eighty cents a day. They receive about twelve and a half cents for every thirty-five poods they take out—one pood being thirty-six pounds; the amount of labor required to earn a day’s wages is plain.

In addition to the work entailed in getting out the coal the colliers must do their own timbering, putting up props and supports as they go along to make themselves secure. For this they are not paid. It is customary among the foreign companies, and also among some of the Russian companies, to give their workmen as much coal as they require for their personal needs free.

Managers, foremen, overmen, and checkers who are paid by the month often receive their house rent free. Thus an overman receives fifty rubles a month (twenty-five dollars) and{526} his house rent. A checker receives thirty-five rubles. As checkers are very often dishonest men who aid in robbing the men of their proper number of cars sent to the surface, it has come to be the practice in some districts for the men themselves to hire a checker of their own, whom they pay one hundred rubles a month. He is not officially recognized by the companies, but he is trusted by the men to protect their interests. One of the points of dispute in the great anthracite coal-strike in Pennsylvania in 1902 was the right of the men to employ such a man—some of the companies objected. It is significant that the companies pay their men only thirty-five rubles a month, while the men pay theirs one hundred.

For purposes of comparison it may be of interest to add that while the men receive twelve and one half cents for taking out thirty-five poods of coal, that coal retails for five cents per pood. There is, therefore, a margin of approximately one dollar and sixty-three cents on every thirty-five poods, or, of about eleven dollars on a single day’s labor of one man! This must amply cover other expenses and still leave an adequate profit for contractors and capitalist!

The best hewers in the Russian coal-mines average forty rubles, or twenty dollars a mouth. It must be remembered, however, that there are fewer working-days in a Russian month than in England or America. Usually not above twenty or twenty-two. Indeed, in the entire year there are but two hundred and twenty working-days. All of the others are church, state, or crown holidays. During these working-days, therefore, the miner, in common with other workmen, must earn enough to carry him through the holidays.

A schedule of the scale of wages in a given country, or district, like the above, is valueless if unaccompanied by a parallel schedule of the approximate cost of living.

Russian coal-miners follow the system of Russian workmen in general in dividing into three classes: First, the poorest men, who live in free houses owned by the companies. These houses would rent for about one dollar a month. Then there are the average men who live in snug little stone houses{527} of two and three rooms, the rent of which may be from two dollars and a half to four dollars a month. And, finally, there are the unmarried men who live in “artels,” which are lodging establishments. From a dozen to sixteen men live in one of these houses. They all sleep in a common room, for which privilege they pay about six dollars a month, including their meals. And fifty cents additional to a woman-of-all-work, who looks after the place and does the cooking.

The principal articles of diet with the prices current at the time of my observations are included in the following table:

Meat—10 copecks (five cents) per pound. Equally good meat in England would cost from fifteen to twenty cents a pound, and in America probably twenty-two to twenty-four cents.

Black bread—2 copecks a pound.

White bread—3 copecks a pound.

Potatoes—1-1/2 copecks a pound.

Sugar—16 copecks (eight cents) per pound.

Tea—1 ruble, 80 copecks (eighty cents) per pound. (Very cheapest.)

Coffee—40 copecks (twenty cents) a pound for unburned coffee.

Milk—10 copecks a “jug.” (About five cents a quart.)

Cabbage and carrots—2-7 copecks per pound.

Taken the year through this is almost a complete diet-list of the Russian coal-miners and industrial workers in general in the vicinity of Yusofka. During the church fasts hemp and rape-seed oil is consumed a good deal. And vodka should be added, for every workman drinks much of it. The revenue from the vodka monopoly, indeed, is one of the stablest sources of income to the government. The more the people drink the better Russia’s financial balance-sheet appears to the world. Truly Russian economy this! Five hundred and fifty million rubles a year is a substantial income even for a government, and this from a liquor containing forty odd per{528} cent. alcohol. Vodka costs about three copecks per bottle to manufacture and sells for forty copecks.

From this list it will be seen that the articles which are most necessary, and most used, are the highest in price—tea, sugar, coffee, vodka. Meat is cheap, but there are frequent church fasts, when meat is forbidden.

The clothing worn by the Russian coal-miner is frequently home-made, like the clothing of peasants. If of cloth, cloth made from hand looms. Coats are of sheepskin. In the mines of South Russia, especially in the deeper pits, next to no clothing is worn by the men at the face.{529}


A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z

Abramoff, priestoff, 159, 171
Agent provocateur, 223, 404
Agrarian program of Duma, 20
Akatui, mines, 156
Aladin, Alexis, 334-335
Alexander II, 3
Alexander III, story of, 299
Alexanderburg, 140
Alikhanoff, General, 90;
in Kutais, 96;
interview with, 99, 102-114;
description of, 101;
life of, 101;
methods of, 102;
death of, 111
American sewing-machines, 99
Amnesty, Duma’s demand for, 194, 200
Andronnikov, Prince, 25;
embarrassment of, 32, 90
Anipko, Duma deputy, taken at Kronstadt, 252
Appanage lands grant, 337
Ararat, Mt., 87
Armenians, 77-84;
church, 78, 80;
merchant in Kutais, 100;
massacres, 83
Arrest, in Saratoff, 137;
reasons for, 141-142;
other arrests, 153
Assassination, theory of, 391

Babaieff, 83
Baku, 77-78, 84
Bausk, 23
Beaulieu, Leroy, 462, 482
Belentzoff, 403
Berlin, 3;
police records, 4;
departure from, 5
Bezsonoff, Major-general, 244
Bielostok, massacre, 237;
arrival in, 237-238
“Black Hundreds,” 241, 246-247, 468;
headquarters in Odessa, 473;
policy of, 474;
aim, 475, 476
“Bloody” Sunday, xviii
Brigand, Ingoosh, meeting with, 37;
his bride, 45
Bryan, William Jennings, on First Duma, 205
Bund, the, 281

Constitution, xviii
Corruption, official and in Red Cross, xx
Circassian uniform, 27
Cossacks, how regarded by officials, 32;
value from military point of view, 33;
reasons for loyalty to Czar, 33;
how regarded by Jews and peasants, 34;
origin and history of, 35-37;
services rendered to foes of Russia in olden times, 35;
first stanitza, 47, 48;
Mountain Cossacks, 49-53;
jigitoffka, 53-58;
military training of, 59;
Don Cossacks, 60;
agricultural systems, 63;
physique of, 64;
Cossack honor, 65;
promise for future development, 69;
patrol in Kutais, 95;
outrages, 119;
nagaika, 331
Circassian customs, 39, 41
Caspian Sea, first view of, 76-77
Czar, speeches of, confiscated, 122;
manifesto of October, 1905, 177, 181, 483;
and Duma, 178, 179;
and special laws, 182;
at Winter Palace, 184;
{530}nervousness of, 187;
speech of, 191-192;
effect of speech, 192-194;
attitude toward Constitutionalism, 205;
residence of, 209;
rewards soldier for shooting girl, 263;
arch assassin of Russia, 264
Colonization, 124
Corday, Charlotte, of Russia, 155
Council of Empire, 181
Constitutional Democrats, 182, 202;
and peasants, 288
Conspirative meeting in Kronstadt, 207
Comisaroff, Count, 247;
Captain, 510, 512
Christian Socialists, 283
Cheliabinsk, 360
Church holidays, 441
Crimea, the, 465
Crown speech, Duma’s reply to, 502-507

Daghestan, 84
Despotism, only possible justification of, xix
Dnieper Cossacks, 35, 36
Dolgorukoff, Prince, 195
Don Cossacks, 35, 36
Duma, village, in Saratoff, 135
Duma, imperial, 11;
attitude of peasants toward, 135;
first convocation by Czar’s manifesto, 177;
Czar and, 178;
assembling of, 183;
make-up of, 195;
congratulatory telegrams to, 195;
unanimity of, 195;
order in, 200;
work of, 201;
dissolution, 202;
plot upon, 407-409
Durnovo, Minister, 182, 247
Dutch proverb, 10

Empress, at Winter Palace, 187
Empress, Dowager, 187
Exceptional laws, 181

Famine, fund scandal, xx;
extent of, xx;
Simbirsk, 337;
preventable, 340;
in Samara, 345;
frauds, 345;
causes of, 346;
terrible scenes of starvation and ravages of disease, 348;
inadequate relief, 351;
a relief station, 352;
peasant girls sold into bondage because of, 356
Flying bands, 398
Fox, the, police spy, 219
Freedom, forty days’, 177
Fundamental laws, 181

Galitzin, Prince, 78
Gapon, Father, 15, 183
Georgia, capital of, 87;
king of, 87;
pacification of, 102
Gomel pogrom, 245
Gorky, song of, 136
Gorymekiu, Premier, 182
Green, Victor, 252;
assassination of, 257

Hague, The, Peace Conference resolutions, 96, 100
Hertzenstein, Professor, assassinated, 248-251
Hughes, Arthur, 433, 438
Hughes, John, 436

Ingoosh brigand, 38
Insurrection, plans for, 208
Ivan, the courier, 93, 94, 96

Jablonsky, order of, 4
Jacquerie, aim of, 54
Jews, governor-general of Terek’s opinion of, 30;
laws against, 182;
massacres, 242;
in Poland, 281;
in terrorist organization, 281;
Odessa, 466;
total number in Russia, 466;
restriction of, 467;
policy of persecution of, 467, 471;
“Jew-baiting” pamphlet, 472

Kovalevsky, Maxime, xxiv;
newspaper of, 227
Kropotkin, Peter, “Russian Literature,” 5
Kurland, 20
{531}Kabardine villages, 38
Kazbek, 42
Kur, river, 90
Kutais, town of, 90;
arrival in, 95;
terror in, 96, 114-115;
description of, 102;
population of, 102
Kronstadt, 209;
town of, 210;
conspirative meeting in, 216-219;
escape from, 221-222;
under ominous quiet, 227;
garrison, 229;
uprising, 231;
failure of mutiny, 232;
effect of mutiny, 235
Karass, General, 245
Kostroma, 312; peasants, 313-319
Kazan, province, 328
Konoplannikova, Zinaida, 392
Karaites, the, 465

La Grave, Cave, 23
Liski, 144
Loris-Melikoff, Dr., xxiv, 77
Lopuchin’s letter to Stolypin on police participation of massacres, 508-515
Luboshitz, Nahum, 162, 164
Luchenovsky, Lieutenant-governor, 156;
assassination of, 159;
successor of, 174

Mamaieff, execution of, 397
Marseillaise, 136, 217, 219, 224
Martial law in Kutais, 96
Massacres, Caucasian testimony, 497-501
Maximalists, 391, 398-399;
plots, 407;
details of an “expropriation,” 412-416
Medhurst, Consul, 433-436
Military organization, 207
Miliukoff, Professor Paul, characterization of present situation by, xxi, xxiv;
newspaper of, 227;
and Prof. Hertzenstein, 251
Miners, coal, 449-456;
shiftlessness, 453-454
Mines, coal, 449
Min, General, 331, 392-393
Mordwa, 140
Moscow insurrection, 200;
arrest in, 311
Mouromseff, President, 195

Nakashidze, Prince, 80, 83
Nakhitchevan, 102
Nastasia, 410-411, 480
National Democratic Party of Poland, 282
Nationalist Party of Poland, 281-282
New Russia Company, 434, 437
Nijni-Novgorod, 319-321;
the Fair, 321-328
Noutt, 20
Novo-Pebalge, 20
Nucha, 84

Odessa, 466;
a dramatic leave-taking of, 478
Orienbaum, 221, 228, 229
Orloff, General, in Baltic provinces, 20
Ossetine villages, 38, 45
Ostiaks, 362
Ouktomsky, Prince, 328-331

Palkine’s restaurant, incident in, 15
Pebalga, 23
Plehve, von, 77
Persia, 84
Pillage in Kutais, 100
Peasants, morality of, 132;
importance of, 287;
in Duma, 288;
psychology, 288;
awaking, 291, 310
Pesky, 136, 140
Prison, Saratoff, 149
Pasha, 207, 210;
in disguise, 212;
speech to soldiers and sailors, 217-218;
“taken,” 258
Paul, 210;
capture of, 232
Propaganda in army, 209
Pogrom, Bielostok, 237;
Kieff, 242-245;
Gomel, 245;
Odessa, 245;
governmental responsibility for, 424-508
{532} Poland, Russian, 267;
Russian misrule in, 268;
school children in, 268;
young men of, 271;
Russian police in, 271;
parties of, 281-284
Progressive Democratic Party of Poland, 282
Polish Party Socialist, 283-285
Polish revolution, 285
Pietuchow, Captain, report on Siedlce, 516-524
Protopopow, Staff Captain, 516
Peasant, needs, 293;
characteristics, 297, 309;
religion, 298;
drink among, 299;
indolence, 304;
scarcity of land, 305;
democracy of, 306;
attitude toward Viborg manifesto, 317, 331

Raffalsky, Vice-governor, 243
Reaction, 226-227
Repression, the, 3
Red Cross, revolutionary, 361, 365
Reval, uprising of, 226;
reported fighting in, 228
Revolution, Russian, importance and meaning of, xvii;
number of victims, xxi;
compared to French, English, and Italian, xxii;
aspect of beginning, 1906, 3
Romanoffs, rise of, 312-313
Rottkopf, torture of, 252-257
Route Militaire de Georgie, 42

Stolypin, Premier, and field courts, xxii, 264, 489, 490;
attempt upon, 331, 409;
characterization of, 489;
governor of Saratoff, 153;
a champion of autocracy, 489
St. Petersburg, incident in theater, 10
Sipolena, 20
Saukin, 20
Schiff, General, 20
Schouvoleff, Count, 26
Scherematiev, Count, 26
Saratoff, journey to, 122;
departure from, 122-123;
description of province, 123;
landlords of, 123-124;
entrée to, under arrest, 148
Serfdom abolished, 124
Students in famine districts, 125
Search party in Tsaritzin, 126-129
Syphilis, 132
Spiradonova, Marie, 155;
League, 156;
story of, 156-160;
torture of, 160;
interview with, 162-170;
trial of, 172;
speech in court, 173;
letters from, 173-176;
mother of, 174-175
Semenovsky Regiment, 200
Sveaborg, 226;
mutiny, 228
Sebastopol, rising of, 226
Scallon, governor-general of Poland, 257
Semonova shot in prison, 259-263
Simbirsk, province, 334;
illiteracy in, 355;
peasants, 335-340
Samara, province, 341;
crop failure, 342;
famine in, 345;
arrest in, 357-359
Siberia, first town visited in, 361;
sketch of, 365-366;
system of exile, 367;
a working-man’s exile, 368;
cost of living in, 368-369;
hardships of exile, 369;
a fair propagandist, 374, 382, 385;
politics in, 375;
neglect of exiles, 376;
a group of intellectuals, 379;
prevalence of disease, 380-382
Social Democrats, 390
Social Revolutionists, 390
Sokolow, capture of, 393-394
Sasha, 416;
exploits of, 417;
escape from St. Petersburg, 418-423, 430, 432
Siedlce, 516-524

Timirassiroff, Minister, interview with, 18;
views on Witte, 18-19
Tirsen, 20
{533}Terskoi-Koubansky Cossack regiment, 25
Terek, governor-general of, 30;
presentation to and interview with, 29-37;
vanity, 31
“Times,” London, expelled correspondent of, 30
Terek, province of, 48
Tartars versus Armenians, 78-84
Tiflis, first view of, 87;
stay in, 88-90;
departure from, 93-94;
feuds in, 87;
demolished quarters of, 89;
a terrible incident, 389
Tsaritzin, arrival in, 24;
peasant, 129, 140
Tamboff, province, 155;
prison, 156
Terrorist, 164
Tauride Palace, 194
Throne Speech, 191-192;
Duma’s reply to, 200, 502-507
Terrorism, governmental, 237, 263, 264;
theory of, 258;
explanation of and justification for, 388-392
Trepoff and massacres, 241, 248, 514, 515
Turau, Senator, report on pogroms, 242
Tyumen, 361, 362
Tobolsk, 373-374
Tolstoi, visit to, 456;
his American friends, 460;
his interpretation of present situation in Russia, 461;
on socialism, 462;
influence on Russians, 464;
prophecy of, 493
Tichanowsky, Colonel, 484, 516, 517-524

Ufa, 360
“Underground” system, 362
Urusoff, Prince, 201;
speech in Duma, 246-247

Vladikavkas, 25;
hotel accommodations in, 26;
midnight awakening in, 28-29;
departure from, 42;
return to, 73
Volga Cossacks, 35, 37
Viborg manifesto, 205;
effect upon peasants, 317
Vilna, 240;
police terrorism in, 241, 511
Vorobieff, Dr., assassinated, 251
Vladimeroff, report on Warsaw tortures, 252-257
Vassiliev, Professor, visit to, 332-334
Vologda, 386
Vyatka, 386
Venediktoff, execution of, 397
“Viedomosti,” Moscow, extract from, 485

Wirballen, 6, 9
Witte, 18, 178;
end of premiership, 282;
and massacres, 245, 509, 514
Wender, 20
Winter Palace, meeting of Duma in, 183-194
Warsaw, 265;
panic of Jews, 265-266;
martial law in, 267;
Russian administration, massacre of police in, 272;
poverty of, 272-273;
prostitutes, 274;
terrors, 275;
riots, 276;
strike of school children, 276
Workmen, Russian, 440;
wages of, 442, 525-526;
standard of living, 526-528;
compared to American workmen, 442;
homes of, 445;
morality, 446;
characteristics, 447;
physically compared with American and English workmen, 447-448

Xanugievitch, Governor, 160;
dinner with, 161-162

Yasnaya Poliana, 456, 459
Yekaterinburg, 360, 361
Yusofka, 433;
departure from, 455

Zaporovians (Cossacks), 36
Zhdanov, Cossack officer, 159, 171


[1] These figures apply to a period of six months after the dissolution of the first Duma.

[2] Lowell, “Eve of the French Revolution,” page 11.

[3] Adopted at Second Convention Peace Conference at The Hague, 1902, Section 11, article 25, “On Hostilities.”

[4] In one district, for example, with a population of 100,000, taxes were levied to an aggregate amount of $150,000 a year, and in return the Russian government spent less than $10,000 a year on the entire district. The inhabitants protested against contributing $140,000 a year toward the maintenance of an army of oppression and a corrupt and decadent court.

[5] On Tuesday, July 16, 1907, while driving through the Bebontoff Street in Alexandropol, with the wife of General Glieboff, at half past two o’clock in the morning, General Alikhanoff was blown to his death by a bomb.

[6] See Appendix A for further testimony of this character.

[7] One dessiatine is about 25/7 acres.

[8] A Cossack whip with a small piece of lead in a leather pocket at the end.

[9] The Council of Empire was the upper house, composed of an equal number of elected and appointed members. The elected members were to represent the Zemstvos, the Holy Synod, the Universities, the Bourse, the nobility, and the landowners of Poland. Nominally, this Council of Empire, like the Duma, would be convoked and prorogued annually, and have equal powers. Every measure must have the sanction of both houses before it went to the Czar. As a matter of fact, the composition of the Council of Empire was so carefully made up that every liberal measure passed by the Duma was certain of veto in the upper chamber, and throughout the term of the first Duma the Council of Empire had practically nothing to do. Indeed it did not meet above four or five times.

[10] At this time the Siberian and central Asia deputies had not yet reached St. Petersburg. These added nine to the Group of Toil, and the remainder went chiefly to the Constitutional Democrats, and to the Social Democrats, who, at the outset, were not directly represented in the Duma.

[11] See Appendix B for the reply in full.

[12] The agent provocateur is a governmental spy who provokes uprisings and mutinies for political reasons, or precipitates them prematurely in order that the government may be prepared to cope with them—which would often be impossible if they came to a head according to the designs of the revolutionists.

[13] The “Quarterly Review” for October contains a careful summary of governmental complicity in Russian massacres based upon the following reports and authorities. This article, though published anonymously, was written, and the reports compiled, by Mr. Bernard Pares of Liverpool, author of “Russia and Reform”; and Mr. Samuel Harper of the University of Chicago,—two of the most careful and painstaking students of Russia and Russian affairs outside of Russia to-day.

1. Report of the senior factory inspector of the government of Kherson on the events of July 17-19, 1903, in Odessa (published in “Kusskoye Dyelo,” July, 1905). 2. Memorandum of the minister of finance to the Emperor on the same subject (unpublished). 3. Government reports (Revisionnye Otchety) of Senator Turau on the events of October 18-20 (October 30-November 2), 1905, in Kieff (unpublished). 4. Government report (Revisionnyi Otchet) of Senator Kuzminsky on the events of October 18-20 (October 30-November 2), 1905, in Odessa (unpublished). 5. Account of the events of October 18-20, 1905, in Odessa, dictated by Prof. Stschepkin (unpublished). 6. Law report of the proceedings in connection with the trial of the governor of Minsk, General Kurloff (including the report of the crown prosecutor of the law chamber of Vilna). 7. Diary of an Englishman in Kharkoff for the days of October 22-November 8, 1905 (unpublished). 8. Statements made to the writers on events in Nijni-Novgorod, Saratoff, Reval, and Moscow, and on the organization of the police department, and other subjects. 9. Government report by Actual Councilor of State Savich on the events of January 12 and 13 (25 and 26), 1906, in Gomel. 10. Report to the minister of the interior from the director of the special section of the police department, Councilor of State Makaroff. 11. Speech of Prince Urusoff in the imperial Duma on June 8 (21), 1906. 12. “Appeals” of the “Union of Russian Men,” of the “Moscow Gazette,” and of others. 13. Circulars and telegrams of various officials. 14. Government report of M. Frisch, member of the council of ministers, on the events of June 1-4 (14-17), 1906, in Bielostok. 15. Report on the same by the commissioners of the imperial Duma. 16. Debates on the same in the imperial Duma (official verbatim report). 17. “Une page de la Contre-revolution Russe.” By E. Semenoff. Paris: Stock, 1906. Authorized translation, with introduction by L. Wolf. London: Murray, 1906.

[14] Further facts on governmental complicity in massacres will be found in Chapter XXI on Odessa and the Black Hundred organization.

[15] See Appendixes C and D for official confirmation of governmental complicity in massacres.

[16] For further evidence of this character see Chapter VIII.

[17] See Chapter XXI, where the story of these exceptional laws is set forth in more detail.

[18] Gourko, under Stolypin.

[19] The so-called “underground” system is a secret organization of men and women with connections in each settlement and town, and with European Russia. The transactions are made entirely by word of mouth, no note or detail ever being trusted to paper. A confidential chain is generally working through every village and hamlet in the country. The exiles of any given settlement know who are the trustworthy ones of their village, and in the village nearest to theirs in each direction. Similar knowledge existing in each place eventually extends a connection from the most remote parts to the heart of the empire, and messages, information, money, food, and clothing can be forwarded in safety over distances of thousands of miles.

[20] “Siberia and the Exile System,” Vol. 1, page 90.

[21] For a summary of statistics concerning the cost of living, wages, etc., of Russian workmen, see Appendix E.

[22] The Karaites are a lost tribe of Jews who did not hear of the Talmud for more than 400 years after it was given to the world, and consequently they have never accepted it.

[23] See the “Quarterly Review,” October, 1906, for authorities on this and other similar instances.

[24] The aspirations of the Russian people were formulated by the first Duma, which convened in 1906. The Duma drew up its answer to the Crown Speech and passed it in less than five sittings. On the fifth of May the document was read for the third time before the Duma and was passed “unanimously” by the whole assembly, as the Official Reports of the Duma sittings show. While seven members of the Extreme Right did not vote for it, they did not dare to refuse to vote, but merely walked from the hall, pretending they did not know what was being passed.

The second Duma now in session is ruled by the same two parties that dominated the first Duma. The party of the Left, representing the working-men and peasants, 192 men (there were only 116 in the first Duma) and the Constitutional Democrats, 116 men (there were 152 in the first Duma) representing the rising middle classes of the cities. The second Duma was not called to formulate another reply to the Crown Speech, because there was no Crown Speech, so that the document drawn up and unanimously accepted by the first Duma, remained binding for the second Duma also.

As one who took part in the preparation of the original document I take pleasure in testifying to the accuracy of this English version.—Alexis Aladin, Leader of Group of Toil in the First Duma and Accredited Representative of the Group of Toil in the second Duma.