THE years 1876 and 1877 were the darkest and most. mournful for the Russian Socialists. The propagandist movement cost immense sacrifices. An entire generation was mown down by Despotism in a fit of delirious fear. The prisons were crammed with propagandists. New prisons were built. And the result of so much sacrifice? Oh, how petty it was compared with the immense effort!
What could the few working men and peasants do who were inflamed by Socialist ideas? What could the 'colonies' do, dispersed here and there?
The past was sad; the future, gloomy and obscure. But the movement could not stop. The public mind, overstimulated and eager to act, only sought some other means of attaining the same end.
But to find one was very difficult under the conditions in which Russia was placed. Long and arduous was this work; many were its victims; for it was like endeavouring to issue from some gloomy cavern, full of dangers and pitfalls, in which every step costs many