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good from the most awful happenings that our lives have known.
One quality we would wish them for the performance of their weighty task, and that is unflinching moral courage : a courage that will not shrink from the acknowledgment of unpleasant facts; that will not endeavour to clothe the acts of self-interest, unavoidable as they may be, in the garment of human love ; a courage that will give them the strength to acknowledge wherein each country yet seeks her own, even at the expense of her friends. But their courage must go farther still, and, just as it shrinks not from admitting what we are, so must it also boldly state what we would be ; having acknowledged the unpleasant truths of worldly prudence it must go on to enunciate fearlessly the nobler truths of human wisdom and love.
M. D. PETRE.
THE PHILOSOPHIC BASIS OF THE RUSSIAN
1. History of the Russian Revolutionary Movement. By M.
KULTSHITZKI. (In Russian.) St. Petersburg. 1908. 2: History of the Revolutionary Movement in Russia. By A.
Thun. Russian translation by PLEKHANOV. Geneva. 1903. 3. The Works of A. Herzen. Geneva. 1875-85. 4. The Works of N. G. Tshernyshevski. Vevey. 1868–70. 5. Lettres Historiques. By P. LAVROV. Traduites par M. GOLD
SMITH. Paris. 1903. 6. Euvres de Bakounine. I.-VI. Paris. 1903-1913.
TT has sometimes been asserted that the French philo1 sophers of the eighteenth century contributed but little to the great French upheaval; that even if Rousseau had never written, the doctrine of popular sovereignty would, in any case, have asserted itself in France sooner or later. The spirit of restlessness and discontent had long been prevalent in France. When Lord Chesterfield visited France in 1753, he said that all the symptoms indicative of great changes in government were then present. On this account it is argued that all that Voltaire, Rousseau, Condorcet, Mably, Morelli, and others did was to give voice and expression to latent feelings. It would probably be truer to say that the French philosophers sowed the seed of revolution by scattering new ideas on soil prepared to receive them. The same service has been rendered to Russia by her philosophers. Russia, real Russia, not the Russia of the Romanovs, has long been vaguely craving for reform; her philosophers have taught her how to give more or less definite shape to the vague aspirations already in the hearts of the multitude.
During the reign of Catherine II. the political, social, and philosophical ideas of the eighteenth century gained numerous adherents in Russia. Few, however, were the men capable of really assimilating the theories of Voltaire and the Encyclopædists. The influence of freemasonry was more lasting.
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Basing itself upon Christianity, instead of breaking with it, Russian freemasonry aimed not so much at political and social reforms as at the perfection of the individual. Yet, indirectly, it exercised a certain influence upon the political and social ideals of the day. Fighting as it did against national and religious fanaticism, it necessarily had to point out existing abuses, and to condemn them. Its work was necessarily critical, as well as constructive. While in Germany freemasonry was of a mystical character, in Russia it became an ethical and organising movement; it grouped together men of thought and independent judgment and enabled them to exercise an influence upon the masses.
One of the most prominent figures among the masonic societies in Russia under Catherine II. was Novikov. In his paper, the 'Utrenyi Sviet,' he not only advocated a high ethical ideal but also carried on a vigorous polemic against Catherine's foreign policy, and the warfare it involved. He said that war, except for defence, should be altogether abhorred. For some time Catherine-herself a disciple of Voltaire and a friend of Diderot-allowed Novikov to continue his philanthropic and ethical Christian work, but the outbreak of the French Revolution altered her views. She then saw in every manifestation of independent social thought a political agitation. Consequently the masonic lodges were closed and Novikov himself, in spite of his advanced age, was thrown into the dungeons of Schlüsselburg. His work may be regarded as the first sprouting of independent thought in Russia, the first expression of a craving for freedom. It was hazy, vague, and mainly humanitarian and ethical, for the philosopher never dared to include in his programme the reorganisation of society and of the State. Nevertheless it was a subversive movement, as it tended to create an independent public opinion in Russia, and thus to provide the first essential requisite for any social upheaval.
Towards the end of Catherine's reign, timid voices demanding social reforms began to be heard. Russian intellectuals who had come under the influence of Rousseau's doctrine that all men are born equal were not content with the spectacle of the few living in luxury whilst the many were starving. One of the most noteworthy of the many precursors of revolutionary thought in Russia at this period was Radishtshev, the author
of 'A Journey from Moscow to St. Petersburg,' an avowed and famous imitation of Sterne's 'Sentimertal Journey.' Radishtshev did not dare to demand political changes, though he was definitely an opponent of absolutism. He specially urged the need for agrarian reforms. He created no organisation and no party; he only gave expression to the evergrowing unrest of the Russian intellectuals who had absorbed the philosophical, political, and social doctrines of Western Europe. He was finally arrested, tried, and condemned to death; but Catherine, cabotine that she was, showed herself magnanimous and commuted his sentence to that of exile to Siberia for ten years. Paul I. recalled the exile, as he did many others whom his mother had punished, and Alexander I. invited him to take part in a legislative commission. But Radishtshev found that his radical ideas were too advanced for the Russia of his day; discouraged and weary of life, he committed suicide in Septe. 1802.
The first revolutionary movement in Russia, in the modern sense of the word, was that of the Decembrists in 1825. It was organised by a group of officers belonging to the highest aristocracy who had familiarised themselves with the liberal and democratic ideas of the West during the wars against Napoleon, and particularly during the occupation of France by the Allies. The hopes they had based upon Alexander I. had been frustrated; the former pupil of La Harpe had formed the Holy Alliance and become a hopeless reactionary. This group of officers therefore organised a secret society, with the idea of giving to their country the liberal and democratic institutions of the West. On the 14th of December hence the name ‘Decembrists'-a demonstration took place in Isaac Square. The incipient revolt was quelled with much bloodshed : five of the leaders were hanged, the others were sent to the mines—the dry guillotine of Tsardom.
The Decembrists were revolutionary Russian patriots. Their patriotism was based upon their love for Russia and an ardent desire to see their country independent of other nations, both externally and internally. Their love for Russia's past, for those moments in her history that marked the self-assertion of the national character, made them yearn for a revival of the popular assemblies in Red Russia, and of the power and independence of old Novgorod. Though the Decembrists aimed at introducing reforms and institutions similar to those then prevailing in Western Europe, yet these were not to be mere slavish imitation, they were to be adapted to suit Russian peculiarities. Unlike the Slavophils, the Decembrists did not believe in Russia's special mission, but they had great faith in the moral and physical qualities of the nation. Some of them were in favour of a constitutional monarchy, whilst others were republicans pure and simple. The majority were opposed to socialism as it then existed ; in religion they were convinced deists. They all recognised the necessity of a revolution as the only possible means of introducing any new political or social institutions into Russia. Though their revolt was so ruthlessly crushed, it had a far-reaching effect. As Herzen wrote, “The cannon shots on the Isaac Square had ' awakened the entire generation.' Deported for a gesture, hanged for a word, Russia's youth fought heroically against Tsardom and absolutism. In spite of persecution, medieval cruelty, and refined tortures, in spite of the dark night of suppression that followed, the idea of the Decembrists could not be crushed; it remained a living seed, destined, thirty years later, to blossom forth during the Crimean War.
Autocracy can muzzle the press, but it cannot control thought. Russian intellectuals continued to think what they were not permitted to say aloud, or to write openly. They accumulated ideas and spread them, slowly but persistently. Though some yielded to the despair to which Lermontov gave expression, others clothed their thoughts in criticism or satire, a form of literature which oppression always fosters and develops. As they were not allowed to write criticisms of the government or directly to promulgate liberal ideas, they wrote novels and comedies : Gogol, his ‘Revisor' and ' Dead Souls,' and Griboyedov, his ‘Gore ot ouma,' in which officialdom in Russia was criticised and ridiculed. The press also, muzzled though it was, found means to convey its criticisms between the lines. The Russians, in fact, developed to perfection the fine art-hitherto unknown in Western Europe -of dodging the censor !
Meanwhile Hegel's philosophy had made its appearance in Russia and found numerous followers. Officially, the Hegelian system was considered to be a conservative doctrine, therefore the Russian Government put no embargo upon it. Thus,