CHAPTER IX
THE BEGINNINGS OF THE REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENT
OF 1905

THE men who first undertook the spade work and cleared the ground for the great upheaval were humane, moderate workers, mostly from the provinces, whose strivings were free from all taint of crime and whose ideals did not go beyond a constitutional monarchy. Even parliamentary government was more than they asked for at first. But like most Russian politicians they knew not what they were doing. Plehve was no more. The Japanese war was taking an unfavourable turn and the head of the government was anxious to hit upon some modus vivendi with the intelligentsia. I remember the historic Saturday afternoon1 when ninety-eight country gentlemen, without a mandate from the people or permission from the government, met together in a private flat on one of the quays of St. Petersburg to discuss the best way of rearranging the relations between the rulers and the ruled. Their meeting the authorities had promised to connive at on condition that they should eliminate all political discussions from their programme, but to this they refused to agree. I knew many of them for mild and loyal citizens who were quite ready to pull out the keystone, but innocently believed that they could still maintain the arch. In particular, Prince Lvoff and my friend Count Heyden were paragons of reasonableness. I was not surprised, therefore, to learn that when the resolution calling for constitutional government was put to the ninety-eight members present, twenty-seven considered the demand too radical and voted against it, while the remainder gave it their support. The congress was a success. From all parts of the Empire came telegrams from town councils and zemstvos endorsing the resolution. The Russian people were on fire. All sections of society, all classes of the

____________________
1
19th November, 1904. Cf. North American Review.

-139-

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