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ma's express consent. In this matter, then, where to stretch a point would perhaps have been to score a brilliant victory, M. Stolypin was inexorable; and his self-abnegation merits ungrudging praise.
Kut he tried immediately afterwards to effect by hook what was impossible by crook; he contrived to rule out several classes of indocile voters in a roundabout way; and, while respecting the letter, he violated the spirit of the Tsar's promise. The expedient looks like one of those petty subterfuges to which politicians have recourse In everyday life, and which reveal the meannesses of the human mind. The Government drew up a list of desirable changes in the electoral law; and the Senate, which (s the highest court of appeal in the Empire, effected them noiselessly. A number of senators were officially asked to clear up certain doubtful points that might arise in interpreting the law: and. as their answers were Invariably restrictive In tendency and obligatory iu character, they differed little from new statutes. Friends of the Government have sought to show that even here M. Stolypin had formal right on his side: and in respect of some of the questions referred to the Senate, the contention may be upheld. But it has been reluctantly admitted, even by political supporters of the Government, that in at least two cases the Senate's interpretation was opposed to the terms as well as to the spirit of the law. And this admission casts a slur on the consistency, although not the good faith, of the Premier.
Against M. Stolypin's policy much worse things have been said with equal reason, even by his fellow-workers. For instance, he has been frequently accused of worshipping God. so to say. and lighting a candle to the devil, of severing a branch of an evil and pouring water on Its roots. Thus, having
proclaimed freedom of elections, and therefore of electioneering agitation, he nevertheless allowed martial law to supersede the maxims of Jurisprudence and to take away the elementary rights of the citizen. A voter, a candidate, anybody in fact, was liable, in virtue of that summary code, to be arrested or sent out of the district without rhyme or reason, delay or appeal, the will of the provincial governor sufficing. And this was done in the name of order and for the purpose of putting an end to incipient rebellion and growing anarchy. The first duty of a government, it was argued, whatever Its political programme, Is to ensure respect for law and to maintain public peace. That is true; but the strength of the principle lies in the universality of its application. There must be no islands of anarchy in a pacific ocean of order. M. Stolypin. however, tolerated, and still tolerates, a whole archipelago.
His guiding motive is not sympathy with this party or antipathy for that; he cares only for the good of the community. It is opportunism pure and simple, that unalloyed opportunism which, in latter-day Russia, Is subversive of authority. Some of his colleagues, for instance the Minister of Public Instruction and the Minister of Commerce, truckle to the students of various high schools who ostentatiously defy the Government, openly insult the monarch, and perseveringly plot against the regime. Crimes perpetrated within the walls of educational establishments are minimized, condoned, or glorified, like the offences committed by the gods and goddesses of Olympus. Quod licet Jovi non licet bovi. In those sanctuaries of "science," revolutionists may hold public meetings and secret sittings, plotrlnsr against the State in a State building and at the public expense, it is become one of the privileges of their caste. 'fliat is an island on the left. On the extreme right a similar kind of indulgence is practised. The reactionary League of the Russian people, whose principal aim is to put back the clock of time and recall the halcyon days of the autocracy, was allowed a degree of liberty which oven a Talmuriist could hardly distinguish from license.
This bowing to the right and genuflecting to the left on the part of an administrator professing to abhor all acceptation of parties is more characteristic of the hero of a comic opera than the head of an imperial Government. An extreme case is fairly described in one of the Moscow reactionary journals as follows: "Two offenders are in their prison cells. One of them having just been elected to the Duma, the Governor of the province hastens to release him and most respectfully enquires, 'To what party do you belong?" -i am a bombist.' 'Very well, here is the money for your travelling expenses. i wish you Godspeed and thorough success.'" This equilihristic policy may succeed for a while and enable M. Stolypin to steer clear of dangers to himself and his Cabinet, but the destinies of a great nation cannot fitly be made dependent upon the outcome of such petty makeshifts. it saps the throne, the altar, and the Duma, and puts nothing in their places. it is a policy which only gross flatterers or sarcastic critics of the Premier term Machiavellian.
But Russian politics are even more bewilderingly entangled than might be inferred from the foregoing outline. The wheels within wheels are countless. Even the Prime Minister has to choose his words and shape his acts in accordance with a set of considerations among which awe of certain extremists, zeal for the public good, and indulgence for the parties on whose support he relies for parliamentary re
sults, are but a few. He has also to reckon with the reactionary tendencies of the Court party, with the sensibilities of the Crown, and with the unsolicited and often mistaken advice of candid and importunate friends of Russia among foreign nations. With such a variety of obstacles a statesmanlike policy would be the result of a miracle or a fluke. Hence. in the Minister's occasional successes, chance plays a part more considerable than calculation.
it is on record that several times in the course of his half-year's tenure of office M. Stolypin made urgent proposals to the Crown in favor of a line of action which he honestly believed indispensable to the weal of the community. When his suggestions were categorically rejected, though on grounds which the Premier deemed inadequate, he withdrew them with a good grace. it is clear then that, whatever general policy, whatever particular projects, M. Stolypin may wish to carry out, he never feels at liberty to consider them solely on their merits. Like certain poets of the Renaissance, who undertook to compose verses without employing certain letters of the alphabet, he has to govern the Empire with a limited use of a limited number of means, any of which is liable to be set aside on grounds that are admittedly irrelevant. Under such conditions it would be unfair to expect a firm, rounded policy which, restoring law and order, will engraft constitutional institutions <•n the Russian nation. Fitfuiness must still characterize the acts of the Government; uncertainty will remain the keynote of the situation; unforeseen incidents will continue to shape the policy.
What the Russian press emphasized and the people grasped in all this was the conflicting character of M. Stolypin's policy; and. as it was open to two explanations, they naturally refused the Minister the benefit of the doubt. Quite naturally; for In Russia the representative of the Government is. to the bulk of the nation, what the devil was to medieval Christians. Every stick Is good enough to beat him wiih: nil moans, however criminal, are permissible if they help to upset his power. Consequently the belief took ix»ot that the Cabinet was resolved to destroy with its right hand what it was fashioning with its left. Behind the scaffolding where political builders were at work the Government was really erecting a vast barracks In lieu of a permanent parliament house. Such being the gloomy foreboding, surprise was naturally great when a series of significant facts belied it. The unexpected was again happening; and this time It was a pleasant surprise. The autocracy then had really disappeared, and the millennium was at band. From one extreme people rushed into the other, in both cases irrationally. A little encouragement, a slight pretext, was all that they needed. Before the deputies arrived in St. Petersburg the outlook had been black and dismal. Once they had come together, spoken, voted, and behaved themselves in European fashion, the world's verdict was not merely quashed, it was reversed, and what had been black became white in a twinkling. And yet the premisses from which the public drew these conclusions were but episodes too slight to serve as the basis for such weighty inferences.
Take for instance the opening of the Duma. It was characterized by an utter absence of pageantry, a minimum of ceremony, and a noteworthy fallingoff of public interest. The monarch kept away from the Tavrida Palace; and the people refrained from gathering in the streets. In one thoroughfare only, hard by the Parliament House.
there was a throng of socialists, revolutionists, unemployed working-men, and hooligans; and from their midst came shouts of "hangmen, murderers, scoundrels, blood-suckers, cannibals," as Ministers or Conservatives went by. It was a detachment of the proletarian army, containing a sprinkling of individuals with blotched faces, bloodshot eyes, heads which Lombroso would have photographed for his album of degenerates, mostly unkempt, unwashed, embittered creatures, who had emerged from the depths to watch the beginning of a social upheaval. On the return of the revolutionary deputies, splutters of enthusiasm broke out in various places. The dwarfed figure of a socialist member, for instance, was lifted high above the level of the crowd, his pale pinched features now rising now falling on the crest of the human wave—an idol of the moment, a symbol of the new order of things. "And after a fiery speech he was solemnly borne away," says an eye-witness, "as a miracle-working image is borne aloft in religious processions." Other human symbols—mostly socialists—were also devoutly carried away, under the shadow of red flags and kerchiefs, to the accompaniment of revolutionary songs chanted by mutinous schoolboys and nominal students. Speeches too were delivered In many tones and strange accents, the gist of them all being that the Duma had come to usher in a new order of things, and that its deputies rely upon the people, who must therefore unite, discuss, arm, and be ready to defend them. In one part of the street an officer was being roughly maltreated by students and working-men. Freeing his hand he drew his sabre and brandished it high above the heads of his assailants. The mounted gendarmes, catching sight of this military man who appeared to be in danger, cantered forward, whereupon the surging throng dashed against the houses, burst open the gates, aud took refuge in the courtyard of the German church.1 The troops were hissed: the mounted police were greeted with the words, "murderers, hangmen"; and almost every recognized servant of the Government was treated as a public enemy. These introductory scenes were significant .
inside the Tavrlda Palace proceedings were orderly and ominous. At the very outset the sheep and the goats were separated. From the "Te Deum" which was chanted by the bishops the members of the Opposition kept away. "They honor neither God nor the Tsar." was the comment of their adversaries. They ought perhaps to have added, "in public." When the monarch's greeting was being read in his own words by bis Secretary of State, only the Conservative deputies rose to their feet, all the others remaining seated, although this mark of respect has been universal in Russia for centuries. At the end of the words of the imperial welcome a member of the Right cried. "Long live the*Emperor!" and in response a loud "hurrah" was uttered by the members of the Con servative and Moderate parties, all the others continuing silent and seated. "Tn quoque, fill mi." was the ejaculation of a distinguished dignitary when made aware that ex-Minister Kutler, the Tsar's present pensioner and recent official adviser, deemed the monarch unworthy of any external marks of respect. Such tokens of anti-dynastic feeling were noted all the more observantly and regretted all the more keenly that ex-Minister Kutler and his party constitute the only possible nucleus of a working Duma, the future centre of the legislative assembly, the group without whose efficient co-operation no parliamentary work can be accomplished.
Passing from ceremony to business.
1 Novoye Vremya,".March 7,1907.
the second Duma sustained its character and played its part. But it is not yet one with the nation either in thought or act. The Constitutional Democratic party, which is incontestably the best disciplined, the most thoroughly trained and enlightened group in the Chamber, uniting with the revolutionists, elected a member of its own party to the post of president . and afterwards chose two vice-presidents, one secretary, and five assistant secretaries, all from the Opposition groups, none of which possessed as many members as the United Right. Yet the United Right was excluded absolutely from each of the eight offices of the Duma, and this with the active assistance of that Centre without whose collaboration the second Russian Parliament will be no more than a public meeting. By friends of Russian freedom this strange act, and the still stranger spirit that inspired it. were deeply deplored: for such intolerance may well be fatal to that community of thought and feeling without which the Russian Sphinx question will not be bloodlessly solved. The beginning of parliamentary wisdom is the fear of intolerance: and that salutary fear has yet to be instilled into the hearts of Muscovite politicians, even of those who possess such long experience and cherish such high aspirations as the "Cadets," who might, if they were well advised, become the real leaders of the Duma.
There had been reason to suppose that they were well advised and would rise to the role assigned to them; for, shortly before the Duma met. it was announced that these friends of constitutionalism in Russia would change their tactics in the new Parliament . eschew clamorous attacks on Ministers, and discountenance treasonable appeals to the people. it was added that, instead of trying to take the Government citadel by storm, they would lay siege to it in a regular way, relying upon parliamentary strategy, patience, and the growing feeling of dissatisfaction in the country. As the "Cadets" are past-masters in the art of parliamentary strategy, having served a long apprenticeship in the Zemstvos, the more moderate parties are at a disadvantage, which is all the greater that it is not felt as such. Members of the Kight and Left smile unsuspectingly in presence of serious danger, and blithely walk into the nets spread for them by the wily "Cadets." And it was generally assumed that the Cabinet too. now that it has lost the .•issistance of M. Gurko, would prove equally simple-minded and gullible. Since then, however, public opinion has undergone a change. XL Stolypin, whose sole claim to distinction was hitherto supposed to rest upon his personal courage and political integrity, is now admired as a parliamentary strategist, a resourceful leader, a forcible speaker, and an eminent statesman. Great things are hoped of him because the little things which he achieved were unexpected.
The Premier quitted his splendid prison in the Winter Palace and entered the Duma on the 19th March, an untried Minister who had come to read a programme and listen with patience i" sharp criticism and biting sarcasm; and he left the building that same evening a political Cresar. rent, rldl. riri writ large in his beaming face. His official declaration, which represented the thoughts of many heads working for several months, was heard in sullen silence. On his lips the magic words bad lost their charm. Yet the Minister was definitely promising all the reforms for which thinking Russia has pined since the days of Catherine II. and he was holding out the prospect of others more important which three years ago few would have ventured to hope for. But the promise was unheeded, and
the declaration fell flat. Can any good thing come out of the Winter Palace V deputies asked. Even a Magna Carta in the hands of the Tsar's present advisers, some added, would l>e surely metamorphosed into a law of coercion, and a Habeas Corpus Act turned into a lettre de cacliet. Less biassed persons, viewing the official declaration as a list of important reforms which the Government is willing to carry out if the people eschew violence, judged it comprehensive as a programme and suasive as a Ministerial manifesto. But it curried conviction to no one. And M. Stolypin might have gone back to the Winter Palace as he had left it, were it not that the adversaries of the Government helped him to a veritable triumph.
Scarcely had the Premier quitted oue tribune when the Socialist deputy. Tseretelli, from the Caucasus, occupied the other: after the Tsar's adviser, the throne-breaker. The party upon whom numerical strength, parliamentary experience, and influential position imposed the obligation of replying to the Minister was that of the Constitutional Democrats. Standing between the Government and its foes, they might have parried the blows aimed at the regime without running any risk. But they preferred to step aside and let them fall upon XL Stolypin. With that object in view they had announced that they would waive their right to speak and merely submit an order of the day without any comment upon the official announcement. If all fractions of the Opposition had followed their example, the plan of contemptuously ignoring the Cabinet might perhaps have succeeded. But the scheme was thwarted by the Social Democrats. Their spokesman. Tseretelli. in a speech whose inordinate length was not fully compensated by its fire and eloquence, addressed the people over the heads of the deputies, exhorting