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Let your own happiness be your only law. But, support and education. Then grant to all grownin order to get this law recognized, and to bring up people the same social standing and the same about the proper relations which should exist be- means of supplying their wants by their own labor, tween the majority and minority of mankind, you and you will see that the inequalities, which are now must destroy everything which exists in the shape of looked upon as being quite normal, will disappear, state or social organization. So educate yourselves for they are merely the result of the difference made and your children that, when the great moment for in the conditions of development. You can even constituting the new world arrives, your eyes may improve nature by destroying the present social or. not be blinded and deceived by the falsehoods of the ganization. For, when you have succeeded in maktyrants of throne and altar.
ing everything and everybody equal, when you have Our first work must be destruction and annihila- equalized all the conditions of development and lation of everything as it now exists. You must ac- bor, then many crimes, miseries, and evils, will discustom yourselves to destroy everything, the good appear. with the bad ; for, if but an atom of this old world remains, the new will never be created.
After proceeding to advocate the abolition of According to the priests' fables, in days of old a marriage, which he condemns as a mere political deluge destroyed all mankind, but their God spe- and religious institution, he concludes by saying : cially saved Noah in order that the seeds of tyranny and falsehood might be perpetuated in the new world.
It is impossible to destroy the superstition of When you once begin your work of destruction, and religion by means of arguments or education. Reliwhen the floods of enslaved masses of the people rise gion is not only an aberration of the brain, but also and ingulf temples and palaces, then take heed that
a protest of human nature and human hearts against no ark be allowed to rescue any atom of this old the misery and narrowness of the reality by which world which we consecrate to destruction.
we are surrounded. As man finds nothing in this
world but injustice, stupidity, and misery, he allows In another of his speeches, delivered at Berne, his phantasies to beget a new and a better one. in December, 1868, he says:
When, however, the earth again receives her due,
namely, happiness and fraternity, then religion will Your beautiful civilization, ye gentlemen of the have lost its raison d'étre. We need but a social West, which you flout in the faces of us barbarians revolution to bring about its disappearance. of the East, is based on the compulsory servitude of the immense majority of the human race, which is
And again : condemned to a slavish and almost bestial existence,
Conscience is a mere matter of education. A in order that a very small minority may be able to Christian living in Europe, who has murdered anylive in luxury. This monstrous inequality in the body with cunning and premeditation, usually exconditions of life is due to your West-European sys. periences a certain kind of remorse. But a Red Intem. It is incapable of improvement, for it is the dian, who is every bit as much a man of flesh and necessary consequence of your civilization, which is blood, rejoices when he is able to surprise and slay a grounded on the sharply defined separation existing defenseless enemy. His conscience in no wise sufbetween mental and manual labor. This degrading fers from the act, for he has been taught from earlistate of things can not last much longer, for the man
est youth that the more scalps he possesses, the betual laborers are determined to look after their own
ter he will be received in the happy hunting-grounds interests in future. They have decided that in fuo of the great Manitou. ture there shall be only one great class instead of two; that everybody shall have equal advantages for The speech of another Nihilist is as follows: starting in life; that all shall enjoy the same privileges and support, the same means of education and Nothing, in the present state of social organizabringing up; finally, that every one shall have the tion, can be worth much, for the simple reason that same advantages from his labor, not in consequence our ancestors instituted it. If we are still obliged of any law, but by the mere nature of the work which to confess ourselves ignorant of the exact medium will permit everybody to labor with his brain as well between good and evil, how could our ancestors, less as with his hands.
enlightened than we, know it? A German philoso I detest Communism ; it is the denial of freedom, pher has said : “Every law is of use. It rules the and I do not like to picture to myself any human conduct of individuals who feel for one another and being without freedom. I oppose it because it con- appreciate their respective wants. Every religion, centrates and absorbs all the forces of society, and on the other hand, is useless ; for, ruling, as it does, because it places all property and capital in the our relations with an incommensurable and indefinite hands of the commune or of the state. In demand. Being, it can only be the result of a great terror, or ing the abolition of commune and state, I also wish else of a fantastic imagination.” Now, we Nihilfor the annulment of the law of inheritance, which ists say, no law, no religion-Nihil! The very is nothing but an institution brought into life by the men who instituted these laws ruling their fellow state, and a consequence of its principles. Give all creatures have lived and died in complete ignorance children, from their very birth, the same means of of the value of their own acts, and without knowing
in the least how they had accomplished the mission is called God. To arms, then, brethren, and follow traced for them by destiny at the moment of their me to the conquest of the Godhead. birth. Even taking it for granted that our ancestors were competent to order the acts of their fellow
In March, 1876, several Nihilist proclamations, creatures, does it necessarily follow that the require. on their way to Russia, were seized by the Prusments of their time are similar to those of to-day? sian authorities at Königsberg. Paragraph sixEvidently not. Let us, then, cast off this garment teen of one of the documents in question ran of law, for it has not been made according to our thus: measure, and it impedes our free movements. Hither with the axe, and let us demolish everything. Those
You should only allow yourselves to be influenced who come after us will know how to rebuild an edi. (in the selection of your victims) by the relative use fice quite as solid as that which we now feel trem. which the revolution would derive from the death of bling over our heads.
any particular person. In the foremost rank of such
cases stand those people who are most dangerous and In another speech it is asserted that the deeds injurious to our organization, and whose sudden and of political assassins and incendiaries are not the violent death would have the effect of terrifying the offspring of any sentiment of personal hatred or Government, and shaking its power by robbing it of vengeance. They know full well that one em- energetic and intelligent servants. peror killed will merely be succeeded by another, who in his turn will again nominate the chiefs of remedy the ills of the people is that which will tear
SECTION 23. The only revolution which can police, and of the Third Section. Such deeds
up every notion of government by its very roots, and are justified by the necessity of rooting out from which will upset all ranks of the Russian Empire men's minds the habitual respect for the powers with all their traditions. that be. The more the attacks on the Czar and
Sec. 24. Having this object in view, the Revoluhis officials increase, the more will the people tionary Committee does not propose to subject the get to understand the absurdity of the venera- people to any directing organization. The future tion with which they have been regarded for order of things will doubtless originate with the centuries.
people themselves; but we must leave that to future When it becomes evident that a person can not
generations. Our mission is only one of universal,
relentless, and terror-striking destruction. be more severely punished for the assassination of
Sec. 26. The object of our organization and of his sovereign than for the murder of a mere comrade, then the people will comprehend that it is world into an invincible and all-destroying power.
our conspiracy is to concentrate all the forces of this quite as just to kill a man guilty of the abuse of power as to execute a poor beggar who has been
Among the papers found on the Nihilist Lieutempted by hunger to commit murder. Society of tenant Dubrowin, who was hanged at St. Petersto-day, gangrened though it be, has, to a certain ex
burg in May last for his association with the tent, understood this, for Damiens-executions are things of the past, and in all legislations regicide is regicide Solowjew, were two letters of some now assimilated to mere homicide. And how many
importance. The first, addressed to Nihilist offiare the murders and incendiarisms nowadays which cers in the Russian army, contains the following remain unpunished! Soon we shall see the authors passage : “ Our battalions are numerically so of these so-called crimes enjoying the greatest con. weak, and our enemies, on the other hand, are sideration among us. The old world will have had so mighty, that we are morally justified in makits time. On its ruins the poor and oppressed will ing use of all attainable methods of proceeding take each other by the hand, and the true disciples which may enable us to carry on successfully of Christ, that grand Nihilist, will smile when they active hostilities wheresoever it may become exremember the parable of the poor man in Abraham's pedient.” bosom refusing a drop of water to the rich man in The second letter, dated December, 1878, is hell, and saying, “Thou hast had thy time, now it addressed to Russian revolutionists, and is as is mine!"
follows: “The object of our letter is to comThen there will arise a new generation, gener. municate to Russian revolutionists certain expeous-hearted and independent, and all mankind will riences which, according to our ideas, are necesbe happy; until the time when, like the fabulous phoenix, the spirit of evil will arise again from the sary for the organization of armed resistance to ashes of the old world. The children of our children the Bashi-Bazouks of the police, and which, will be forced to begin our work anew; but the evils moreover, are indispensable to all those measures of the future will be of a less monstrous nature than which social revolutionists must adopt in order those which we now deplore, just as these in their to realize the ideas of the revolution. Unfortuturn are less crying and odious than those to which nately, the Russian Nihilists have not the revoour ancestors were subjected. And thus, from strug. lutionary experience which the Overthrow party gle to struggle, and after centuries of combat, man- of other more favored countries possess," etc. kind will finally attain perfection, and become what We have spoken of Bakunin as the founder of this doctrine of universal chaos; we must not couple, both the hostess and her two guests drink omit to speak also of M. Tschernyschewsky, who so much champagne that they all become quite has done more than any one else to propagate it tipsy. Julie, remembering that Vera was now a in Russia. Formerly editor of a monthly review married woman, judged that it was no longer called the “Sowremennik,” which was suppressed necessary to be guarded in her conversation, and in 1862 on account of its radicalism, he was sen- ended by enthusiastically describing orgies in the tenced in 1864 to sixteen years' penal servitude most licentious of colors. “Suddenly Julie arose in Siberia for having propagated revolutionary from the table and pinched Vera, who quickly doctrines. This he had chiefly effected by means rose in her turn and pursued her friend all through of a novel which he had written, entitled “What the rooms, jumping over chairs and tables.” is to be done?" and which, although strictly for- Having finally succeeded in catching Julie, a bidden in Russia, has been printed both at Berlin struggle ensues, which ends by the two women and in Switzerland. This book has been de- falling down together in a drunken sleep on the scribed as being not only the encyclopædia, the sofa, while Alexander also falls asleep in another dictionary of Nihilism, but also as a guide to the corner of the room. practical application of the new doctrine. In its A month or two later Vera takes it into her characters Nihilist principles are personified, and head to earn her own living; accordingly she sets examples given as to the means to be employed up a dressmaking business under the immedifor their realization. We are shown the ideal of ate patronage of Julie and her friends. Twenty a future state of society, absolutely free from all young needlewomen belong to this establishlaw and control.
ment, which is conducted according to Nihilist The aim of the author, as stated in the pref- notions. At the end of every month the net ace, is to increase the type of people which he profits are equally divided among all the memdescribes, and it must be acknowledged that his bers, Vera merely taking her share with the rest. teaching seems too well calculated to effect his The young women all live in the same house and object among those prepared to receive it. Twen- take their meals together; in this manner they ty or even sixteen years ago Nihilism was com- are able to economize a great deal by buying all paratively rare in Russia, whereas to-day it has their provisions and necessaries at wholesale spread throughout the empire. Notwithstanding prices. They appear to have possessed everythat the book is strictly forbidden in Russia, we thing in common and to have contented themare confidently assured that there is hardly a stu- selves with little, for M. Tschernyschewsky exdent of either sex at the universities and colleges pressly informs us that the twenty young ladies who has not read, and almost learned by heart, only had five umbrellas among them. The this most baneful piece of literature.
financial success of the undertaking is so great The first Nihilist with whom we have to deal that we actually find the girls at a loss how to in the novel is a poor medical student of the name invest their earnings profitably. Taking advanof Alexander who “ finds it cheaper to get drunk tage, however, of Vera's experience in the matthan to eat or dress himself decently." In illus- ter, they use their money to set up a pawnbroker's tration of his faithfulness to Nihilistic principles business in connection with the dressmaking eswe are favored with the particulars of an intrigue tablishment. The author does not inform us with a rich danseuse, which lasted a fortnight, at whether the pawnbroking is also conducted acthe end of which she becomes tired of him and cording to Nihilistic principles. turns him out of the house.
About a year after their marriage a third NiWe next find him giving lessons to the son hilist makes his appearance on the scene. He is of a government clerk, who manages to combine a medical student named Kirsanoff. We are inthe business of a pawnbroker with his official formed that he is exceedingly clever, that he had functions. Finding that the pawnbroker has a thoroughly mastered the French language by pretty daughter of rather an independent charac- reading through eight times a French version of ter, named Vera, he first of all converts her to the New Testament, “ a well-known book "; and Nihilism by means of conversations and books, finally that he had written a treatise on physioland then persuades her to make a runaway match ogy which “ even the great Claude Bernard of with him “in order to escape from the authority Paris had alluded to in terms of respect.” In of her parents.” The success of their plans of the same manner as Alexander is distinguished elopement was partly due to the friendly services for perseverance, so is Kirsanoff remarkable for of a Ma ame Julie Letellier, one of the most no- his kindness of heart, of which the following intorious lionnes of St. Petersburg, “whose lan- stance is given : Having fallen in love with a griguage was such that it caused even the greatest sette, of notoriously drunken habits, he allowed polissons of the upper classes to blush.” At a her to come and live with him as soon as she had breakfast given by this lady to the newly married earned a sufficient sum of money by her vile trade to pay for a proper outfit. However, drunkene necessary papers certifying his friend's death, ness and debauchery bring on consumption, and marries Vera a fortnight later. They live happishe dies shortly after the marriage of Alexander ly, and carry on a most friendly correspondence and Vera.
with Alexander. Before proceeding any further the author takes Some time after her second marriage, Vera great pains to assure us that Vera, Alexander, discards dressmaking, and begins to study mediand Kirsanoff are persons of the most irreproach- cine under the auspices of Kirsanoff, who has able and elevated character, and that their hearts now become a professor of it. We are told that only beat with generous impulses. To illustrate she showed a special predilection for the study this he goes on to cause Kirsanoff to fall in love of anatomy, and the author warmly recommends with Vera, who, “having now developed into a this kind of occupation to his lady readers. full-grown woman,” returns Kirsanoff's affection, Two years later Alexander returns from the and has no hesitation in telling her husband all United States and settles down at St. Petersburg about it. The latter is not in the least offended under the assumed name of Charles Belmont. by the news. Far from it! No, after devoting He is now a naturalized American subject, and half an hour to considering the matter, he goes the agent of a great New York tallow company. to see his friend Kirsanoff, informs him of what Making the acquaintance of a friend of Vera's, Vera had told him, and ends by inviting him to named Katia, he converts her to Nihilism, and come and live with them, so as to make matters confides to her his true history, which, however, quite nice and comfortable. We are not to feel in no wise shocks her, for she readily consents to surprised at this proposal, for Alexander is one become his wife. A few days before their marof those people who consider that “a man of in- riage they go together to see Kirsanoff and Vera, tellect should not allow himself to be subject to and the meeting is described as being of a most jealousy. It is a false, unnatural, and altogether affectionate nature. Soon afterward the soi-diabominable sentiment, a mere phenomenon of sant Charles Belmont takes his wife to live in the present order of things, according to which the same house with the Kirsanoffs, with whom I ought to allow nobody to wear my linen or to they continue on terms of the warmest friendsmoke my pipe. It is the unfortunate result of ship. According to the author, they now become a person's considering his helpmate in the light the center of a choice and intellectual circle of of private ownership.” And again, d propos of friends. The entertainments which take place at the same subject, “can contraband be considered their house are minutely described. as a good thing ? Isn't it much better to do Having frequently commended the elevated things openly and aboveboard ? In trying to characters of Vera, Alexander, and Kirsanoff, M. hide matters we are forced to make use of false- Tschernyschewsky toward the end of his book behoods and all kinds of deceptions, and then, and comes afraid that we should despair of ever attainthen only, we become bad.”
ing a similar degree of excellence. Accordingly, However, Kirsanoff declines Alexander's in- he assures us that his three friends are the most vitation on the ground that, although a ménage ordinary Nihilists in the world, and that with à trois would be quite in accordance with Nihil- very little trouble we may become like them. In ist notions, yet that people in general were still order to prove the truth of his assertion, he is too old-fashioned and conservative in their preju- good enough to introduce us, before leaving him, dices to approve of such a proceeding. Vera to a most superior kind of Nihilist, the quintesalso declines the proposed arrangement. But we sence of the new doctrine personified, whose must not do her the injustice of attributing her name is Rakhmetoff. refusal to any false feelings of womanly shame. Rakhmetoff, we are told, belongs to an old She distinctly states that “if a husband continues boyard family and is very wealthy. At the age to live with his wife, there can be no cause for of sixteen he is obliged to leave home because scandal, no matter what her relations with any he has fallen in love with a woman to whom his other man may be." She merely refuses be- father was attached, so he comes to St. Peterscause, being under obligations to Alexander for burg to study at the university. He soon makes having rendered her independent of the authori- the acquaintance of some students, who provide ty of her parents, his continued presence would him with Nihilist literature. Thanks partly to become irksome to her. Accordingly, Alexander the books and chiefly to his friendship and indisappears, and is reported to have committed timate communion with M. Tschernyschewsky suicide by drowning. On the following day, himself, Rakhmetoff rapidly attains a degree of however, Vera and Kirsanoff receive a letter Nihilistic excellence which it is useless for us to from him, informing them that under cover of strive to equal. He now reads but very few this report he had secretly embarked for the books, and only deigns to associate with men United States. Kirsanoff, having obtained the who are known to exercise influence on their
fellow creatures. After the perusal of three or erous to misfortune and misery when they are four pages of Macaulay's works he throws them brought before his eyes as he is cold and indifdown in disgust, calling them a mere bundle of ferent to them at a distance. He is honest with old rags. Nor are Stuart Mill, Adam Smith, and the honest, but readily falls into the ways of other writers on political economy better treated thieves when he finds himself in their company. by this extraordinary youth. We are somewhat Credulous and full of phantasies, which rapidly relieved, however, to learn that Thackeray's flame up and are just as quickly extinguished, “ Vanity Fair" finds favor in his sight.
all the qualities necessary for steadfastness of At the age of eighteen he deems that it is purpose are entirely wanting in him. The ab“necessary” that he should cultivate his phys- stract principles of right and wrong but feebly ical strength, for what reason we are not in- influence his actions. On the other hand, he is formed. Accordingly, he declines all food ex- all the more ready to pursue the shadows of cepting raw beefsteaks and apples, “though he principles, and to cling to any theories which the eats oranges when at St. Petersburg because the wind of the day may have blown across his path. lower classes of that city also eat them.” The more glittering, the more plausible, the more
Leaving the university before he had com- unsubstantial they are, the more likely are they pleted his studies, he travels through the country to carry him away. Without philosophical proas a common laborer, working at the anvil, at fundity, he nevertheless possesses considerable road-making, wood-cutting, and all other work ingenuity; hence he is too ready to be seduced calculated to develop the muscles; his favorite by specious arguments, and to accept the logical occupation being to tow barges up the river. conclusions of premises which he has never duly His strength soon becomes so great that he is examined. able to stop a runaway horse and carriage by Another fact must also be remarked. The merely seizing hold of the axletree of the latter. Russians have no political history. Until quite His amusements are of an eccentric nature. recently they were subject to an autocracy which One morning he is found lying on a bed com- repressed any expression whatever of opinion posed of inch-long nails pointed upward, and concerning the Government. All power was covered with blood. In reply to inquiries, he concentrated in the hands of the Czar, and adonly vouchsafes to state that it is necessary that ministered by an immense bureaucracy. The he should know whether he could support pain. public discussion of political and administrative A little later he leaves Russia, telling his friends questions was forbidden or jealously restricted. that he had done all he can to propagate the new Political education under such a condition of doctrines there, and that now it is necessary that things was impossible. Political character is the he should make himself acquainted with the va- outcome of political strife in the forum and in the rious customs and social organizations of other ress. It is the political life of a nation which countries. After this we hear no more of him. alone can furnish the individual with political
M. Tschernyschewsky concludes by regret- character; and there is no such life in Russia. ting that there are but very few people as high- Until the present generation there was no reguminded as Rakhmetoff, and says that he has lar organization of classes in Russia ; everybody known but eight persons who could be compared was equally subject to the will and pleasure of to him, and that two of these were women. the Czar.
Having, therefore, no political experience, the
Russian people were ill prepared for the reforms To Western Europeans it is almost utterly which ushered in the comparatively liberal era of incomprehensible how thousands of human be- the present Emperor's reign. In quick succesings can entertain such notions as have now been sion serfdom was abolished, trial by jury and the quoted, and, above all, how they can have been English system of judicial proceedings introduced, adopted to such an extent as to form a menace provincial, district, and municipal assemblies into the Government.
stituted, and liberty of the press granted in MosIn order to understand, in any measure, their cow and St. Petersburg. ready acceptance in Russia, we must take the In addition to all these things the construccharacter of the people into consideration. tion of an immense network of railways opened
Their most prominent features are superfi- up communication with foreign countries, and ciality and sensuality. The Russian is the obe- admitted the influx of the political ideas of Westdient servant of his senses, and is entirely gov- ern urope. The abolition of serfdom introerned by the impressions which his eyes and ears duced the principles of liberty and legal equalconvey to him. He does everything on the im- ity; the new provincial, district, and municipal pulse of the moment : he laughs with the merry, assemblies introduced those of self-government; weeps with the sad, becomes as kindly and gene while the liberty of the press carried with it the