Memoirs of a Revolutionist (Dover Books on History, Political and Social Science)
In this autobiography, Kropotkin recounts his early life in the royal court and his military service in Siberia, along with his imprisonment, escape, and European exile. His portraits of nineteenth-century Russian life rival those of the great novelists, ranging from moving examples of the unbridgeable chasm between nobles and serfs to gripping scenes of midnight plots enacted outside the Kremlin’s walls. An eminent geographer and cartographer, Kropotkin also offers fascinating views from his explorations of Siberia. An Introduction and explanatory notes enhance this unabridged edition of a thrilling real-life story of idealism and adventure.
endeavouring to be transferred to Clairvaux. The old prisoners were the most pitiful sight. Many of them had begun their prison experience in childhood or early youth, others at a riper age. But ‘once in prison, always in prison,’ such is the saying derived from experience. And now, having reached or passed over the age of sixty, they knew that they must end their lives in a gaol. To quicken their departure from life the prison administration used to send them to the workshops where felt socks
supported the whole structure. Bits of burning stuff began to fall down, threatening to set fire to the black gauze veils of the ladies present. Alexander II. lost his presence of mind for a couple of seconds only, but he recovered immediately and said in a composed voice: ‘The coffin must be taken!’ The pages de chambre at once covered it with the thick gold brocade, and we all advanced to lift the heavy coffin; but in the meantime the big tongue of flame had broken into a number of smaller
vegetated at the very bottom — the tramps and the so-called incorrigible criminals. I had ample opportunities to watch the ways and habits of the peasants in their daily life, and still more opportunities to appreciate how little the State administration could give to them, even if it were animated by the very best intentions. Finally, my extensive journeys, during which I travelled over fifty thousand miles in carts, on board steamers, in boats, but chiefly on horseback, had a wonderful effect
maintaining a precarious existence. Ages passed away, till the melting of the ice began, and with it came the lake period, when countless lakes were formed in the cavities, and a wretched subpolar vegetation began timidly to invade the unfathomable marshes with which every lake was surrounded. Another series of ages passed before an extremely slow process of drying up set in, and vegetation began its slow invasion from the south. And now we are fully in the period of a rapid desiccation,
‘for the salvation of the dynasty,’ would implore him to sign the new additions to the laws of repression. For all that sadness and remorse would from time to time besiege Alexander. He would fall into a gloomy melancholy, and speak in a sad tone of the brilliant beginning of his reign, and of the reactionary character which it was taking. Then Shuváloff would organize an especially lively bear hunt. Hunters, merry courtiers, and carriages full of ballet girls would go to the forests of Nóvgorod.