THE NEGLECTED SAGE
WHEN Kropotkin heard the news of the February Rising, it seemed as though the moment had come for which he and his friends in the Russian cause had struggled all their lives, and he looked forward with joy to the idea of returning and taking part, old as he was, in the work of reconstruction. Almost immediately he wrote to May Morris:
"Is it not grand? All the old region authorities in the villages and provincial towns swept away, free democratic self-government instead, the soldier becoming a citizen--almost nobody to take the defence of the rotten regime, capital punishment abolished, the prisons opened, the Finnish constitution restored, the Red Flag floating on the Peter-and-Paul fortress . . . all, all that realised with comparatively very little bloodshed."
He mentioned the great number of letters and telegrams he had received, recalled the "beautiful days of 1886-90", and ended:
"Need I tell you how we are happy for Russia, and also for our friends who must be now on their way from the hard labour jails of Siberia to Russia. And freed, not by a Tsar's 'clemency', but by the will of the people."
In the same letter he talked optimistically of the "events that will come in Germany and Austria", meaning that he hoped these countries would soon follow the lead of Russia. But even at this moment he did not cease to be preoccupied with the war against Germany, and in a telegram to the Russian newspaper Rech a few days later he urgently demanded active continuance of the war. Military events made it impossible for him to go there yet, but he exhorted: