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and inexperience, had taken the liberal promises made in the beginning of the present reign in real earnest, and acted accordingly; who, during the first of the social phases I have been describing, were ingenuous enough to think that after the Government had graciously allowed venality and bribery in all its forms to be castigated and derided in public prints, and on the stage, its next step would be to do away with them in practice, and to introduce a system based upon complete decentralisation, public administration of justice, national representation, and real freedom of the press; and who, during the next phase, were too obtuse to understand that the greatness, the progress, the civilisation, and the well-being of Russia absolutely required the systematic oppression and gradual extermination of the Poles. In the palmy days of universal liberalism they had been the heroes of the moment, and nothing but ultra-radicalism dared at one time to show itself in print; society looked upon the Nihilists as upon the future hope of Russia, and petted and cajoled them into believing themselves to be really the representatives of the universal wishes. This sudden, and apparently complete, success had the usual consequences: men of no convictions whatever declared themselves Nihilists for the sake of the fashion, and still more so, to use the atheistic principles proclaimed, although covertly, by the school as a convenient cloak for their own dishonourable conduct. Thus a perfectly undeserved taint was thrown upon a movement, perhaps the purest that ever produced itself in Russian society (not even excepting that of the latter years of Alexander I., known by the name of the "Decembrists' Conspiracy"), whose secret as well as ostensible leaders, had a change of system in their favour been possible, would by their sterling probity, untiring energy, and rare talents have perhaps formed a solid foundation for the future development of their country. The principal organs of the school, from its very beginning to within a short time ago, were the two best written monthly reviews of St. Petersburg, viz., the Contemporary, a journal founded by Poushkin, and the Russian Word, the property of Count Kooshelef Bezborodko. The literary leaders of the party were the two principal contributors to the Contemporary, MM. Dobroloobof and Tchernyshefsky, of whom the first, happily for himself, died before the persecution of the Nihilists began, while the second is at the present moment working in the mines of Akatooef in Eastern Siberia, whither he has been transported in consequence of the sentence of the St. Petersburg Senate, a sentence, let it be remembered, pronounced solely upon the ground of his writings, not one of which was published without the sanction of the Censure.1 The principles
(1) It would be foreign to my purpose to speak here of M. Hertzen's Bell and other publications: his long absence from Russia has produced so great a divergence between many of his views and those of his former followers, that he can no longer be considered as a representative of the Nihilistic school.
of Nihilism, as exposed in the Contemporary and in the Russian Word, were necessarily of a negative character, and consisted chiefly of a searching criticism applied to the acts and system of the Government from a purely democratic, even socialistic, point of view, and in a still more biting satire directed against the pseudo-liberal pranks, in which Russian society indulged at the time, the hollowness and utter worthlessness of which the Nihilists were the first to remark. As the existence of the Preventive Censure did not admit of a consecutive exposition of the positive side of the Nihilistic theory, the Contemporary, or rather M. Tchernyshefsky, adopted the method of publishing, by way of supplements to the review, translations of those foreign works which most nearly approached to it in tendency, such, for instance, as Schlosser's "Universal History" and "History of the Eighteenth Century," Buckle's "History of Civilisation," and many the works of Mr. J. S. Mill.
The conflagrations which, during the last week in May, 1862, followed one another almost daily at St. Petersburg became the turning point of the popular favour the Nihilists had enjoyed so long. About this time the Government was already preparing those measures of proscription which a few months later called forth the war in Poland, and had, therefore, begun by discountenancing the liberalism it had encouraged only a short time previously; of course society at large obeyed at once, and all the more willingly as it too was already growing tired of its liberal phraseology. The Nihilists (who without a shadow of suspicion attaching to them were accused of being somehow the authors of the conflagrations) were thus left alone in the field; but, strong in the purity of their intentions,utterly ignorant of the feelings that ruled the great mass of the nation, yet confident of its support, because actuated alone by the desire of bettering the condition of that very mass,-lastly, really believing what they had managed to convince others of, viz., that the Government would be powerless before them-they began to think of proceeding from words to deeds, printed in secret, and then distributed revolutionary proclamations, and hoped to gain for themselves that very society which had so strongly applauded them a few short months before. Of course they failed quite as lamentably, though with far less éclat than the German Liberals of 1848, between whom and the Russian Nihilists there exists a similarity in many points; both were equally ignorant of the real feelings of the people for whom they sacrificed themselves, both had equally vague and ill-defined objects in view, and both chose equally impracticable means for the attainment of their object. The Russian movement was on a much smaller scale, as the general contempt felt at the time for the forces of the Government was so great that the Nihilists did not even give themselves as much time for preparation
as the German Liberals had done. The literary leaders of the party were the first to fall. Mikhailof, Tchernyshefsky, SernoSolowjovich, and many others, were sentenced to transportation to Siberia with hard labour, not in consequence of any evidence against them, but, as is unblushingly stated in several of the protocols of the senate, merely on the strength of the private conviction of the senators as to the guilt of the accused. Karakozof's attempt has once more directed the attention of the Government to the Nihilists, who, in the heat of the war in Poland, had almost been forgotten. The appointment of Mouravief to the presidency of the Commission of Investigation, and the establishment of another "Commission for discovering the dangerous classes among the inhabitants of St. Petersburg" (!), show sufficiently how completely the Government is recovered from its former dread of Nihilism, and how secure it feels itself once more as to the utter dependence and submissiveness of both people and society.
In conclusion, there necessarily arises the following question:If the Emperor Alexander is too weak to govern really in person, and to imprint his autocratic will on every act of his Government; if the camarilla is nothing more than an unorganised mass of hungry place-hunters and shameless lackeys, whose whole future depends upon the smile or the frown of their sovereign; if society in general is as yet but a perfectly disinterested mob, ready to shout for or against any one or anything just as it is bid; if the mass of the people are still too ignorant to have any opinion whatever of their own beyond that of an unlimited confidence in the Emperor, and an unlimited distrust of their former masters, and of all officials generally; and if the better-educated and literary element is still so weak that its best representatives can be transported to the Siberian mines with scarce any one caring for them;-where then are we to look for the real source of that motive power which rules Russia ; who gives the first impulse to all those transitions through which we have seen Russian society pass so suddenly; who, in one word, governs Russia? The answer, I fear, can only be, Nobody, and in this answer, I believe, is to be found the key to all the phases Russia has been traversing during the last years and to its present situation. Russia has not yet been able to find its equipoise, and, consequently, to fix its political centre of gravity. Whenever chance or a successful coup d'état places persons of strong character like Peter the Great, Catherine II., or Nicholas on the throne, Russia obeys its master willingly, and in silence; whenever the same reasons put the fate of the country into the feeble hands of an Anne, a Paul, an Alexander I., or an Alexander II., apparent changes, frequently called forth by the most futile circumstances, continually agitate the surface of Russian society, while at bottom it remains much the same. A. W. BENNI.
The old names for political parties in England are thoroughly worn out, and have ceased to mark the real differences of opinion which now exist. The old Stuart Tories died out with George II., when the whole nation accepted his successor, and renounced for ever the Stuart. The Brunswick Tories, as we would propose to call those who abetted George III. in his efforts at despotism, are now extinct like the dodo, or live only as a bugbear in the pages of the Star. Eldon was their representative man, who reached the height of cruelty and absurdity when he declared that no property would be safe if the gallows were abolished for thefts of five shillings from the pocket. The Whigs also have now ceased to exist as a party. They performed useful functions when the name first originated in the time of Charles II.; and after the Hanoverian succession had been firmly seated on the throne by their efforts, they defended the liberties of the people when it was not educated or organised enough to defend them for itself. They were rewarded for their good deeds by fifty years in the cold shade of opposition. The good time, however, came for them at last in 1832, and they made the most of it. They seemed very much to like office, and had a good spell of it, till Lord Palmerston killed them by kindness and Lord Russell buried them. They bred in-and-in like Spanish grandees, and divided among themselves the good things of this world, till as a party they gradually dwindled out of existence. They did many good things, and held office in difficult times, even if they showed no great grasp of mind, or administrative capacity. They have many honourable struggles to look back upon; and had they not shown such a jealousy of associating with themselves young men of ability, they would not now be dying out as a sterile band. The smaller men among them seemed to take the following as the cardinal rule of a good administrator, "Perform all unimportant business quickly and punctually; never attempt important reforms, however much wanted; leave these to your successor. If he does not attempt them, blame him; if he does attempt them, turn him out, and get back into office yourself." But the time has arrived when more nerve, and power, and earnestness are wanted; when important social problems have to be solved, which require a deep insight into the constitution of society. Another class of rulers then is wanted than the majority of our old Whig friends, all of them men of the highest personal character, some, like Lord Russell, men of really superior intellect; some, like the Duke of Somerset, of the calmest and surest judgment, of whom the late Mr. Cobden once said, that he knew no man fitter to be the editor of the Times, as the Times ought to be. But though one or two men of the party still remain conspicuous, the party itself, as a party, has disappeared; and as the Tories are merged into the Conservatives, the young Liberals of the country are growing up with altogether different opinions to the old Whigs. They have a broader platform-to use an Elizabethan word—and less aristocratic notions. They are prepared for very extensive changes in the spirit and form of modern society, but they are not agreed as to the mode in which these should be carried out. The old Radicals and the Whigs worked pretty well together; but the differences among the new Liberals are so considerable and important, that it may be difficult for some time to come to reunite them. The one party advocate the immediate abdication of political power by the upper classes, the
other party insist on the duty of fully educating the nation under our existing institutions. We think, therefore, that instead of the old names of Whig and Tory, political parties in England, at the present time, might be better designated as the Geist, the Anti-Geist or Radical, and the Conservative parties. The Geist, or intellect party, believes that culture would relieve us from all our political and social difficulties; that the great end to be striven for is the complete education of the nation; not only must the three R's be taught to the working classes, town and agricultural, but the very imperfect system of education of our middle and upper classes must be amended, so that all should have the close training necessary for excellence in any department of human knowledge. It must be felt as socially a disgrace to be ignorant, and as the highest distinction to excel in intellectual acquirements. The really learned and artistic classes would then be raised to a higher position than they now enjoy in English society. We believe there is no country in the world where the leaders of the intellect of the nation are less recognised in their true position as what is technically called "the best society." In common parlance, with us this term means the greatest number of dukes and duchesses, or persons of rank with a certain veneer of conventional manners, and irrespective of character and acquirements. The fashionable society of days gone by took far more pains with their culture than those of the present day, who are contented to rest their claim for superiority upon their rank and wealth. They are hardly to blame for this, because they find it answer perfectly. They can scarcely be said, at our public schools and universities, to have ever been taught the value of a thoroughly good training and education. Indeed, the principal lesson a nobleman's son learns at school or college is, that he may safely depend upon his natural untutored nobility; that with his class ordinary rules are not to be enforced; that he may amuse himself while others work; that the mere fact of his birth is sufficient to make him respected and bowed down to even by his tutors. This is not an exaggerated picture of what is actually taking place at leading educational establishments like Eton and Christchurch, and we daily witness the lamentable results of such perverted training. Now the Geist party wishes to change all this. It seeks to make intellect permeate every class of the nation much more than it does at present. It would endeavour to raise the tone and cultivation of the whole nation, and then leave educated society to carry out its own political development. It believes that universal education may be carried out without universal suffrage, and it mistrusts the quality of the training which would be given by the delegates of the masses. It is decidedly opposed to placing political power in uneducated hands. It would give a better education to the masses, even if that education be a charitable one; it would lay its hands vigorously on the endowments for middle and upper class schools, and make these produce far different results from those which we now deplore. It would make the Universities, the leaders of the thought of the age, and well-springs of universal unsectarian knowledge, instead of being as they now are the last hiding-places of exploded In fact, it would encourage a mental athleticism, which would develop sturdy English intellect, and give the world a spectacle it has never yet seenthat of a thoroughly educated people. Defects exist in the educational systems of France, of Prussia, and America; but we believe, if the question were vigorously taken up in England, that not many years need elapse before some admirable beginnings which exist among us might be worked up into a system better than any now in existence.