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Stepniak's Lecture

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Stepniak's lecture was a revelation to most of the small audience which assembled in University Hall last Saturday niglit. He declared the word Nihilist to be a misnomer and said it was unknown in Russia. Unfortunately, Americans had confounded reformers in Russia with anarchists, but nothing could b more erroneous. The party of an archy does not exist in Russia. An archists are against any form of governmeut. Nihilists would gladly cept constitutional monarchy as a step towards republicanism. The Nihilistic movement began in. the universities. Although the government allows none but "time-servers" to act as professors, yet the students soon became imbued with the views of foreign authors on political and social questions. They discuss questions of reform in secret meetings, and then in their enthusiasm endeavor to propágate ideas of constitutional government among the peasantry. Filled with zeal for their cause they took up their abode among the common people in order to edúcate the latter in liberal views and inspire them with a desire for constitutional freedom. This was a very hazardous undertaking and many a student gave up social position, wealth, home, and even life itself in order to carry on the good work. The mass of the people were in a ieplorableconditionand hadbecome o accustomed to despotic rule that t was a difficult matter to rouse them ïrom their apathy. They were concious of their degradation, but ever ooked to the Czar for relief. Ac:ording to their superstitious belief ie was anxious for reform but was :hwarted in hts purpose by the gov:rnment, which alwayscame between lim and his dear people. The Niïilists endeavored to show them that ;he remedy lay in their own hands. Stepniak joined a secret society, ;ook lodgings in suburbs of St. Petersburg, formed acquaintances with workingmen and on Sundays ielivered lectures to them on social ind political questions. Under no :ircumstances did he advocate violent measures, but all his remarks tiad more of a moral than a politicai bearing. The government, however, ieclared such lecturing a crime and ffixed to the same a penalty of rom ten to twelve years' imprisonment at hard labor. Stepniak was rrested, but soon escaped through ie aid of a peasant friend. He asumed a fictitious name, wrote out false passport, (all Russians are made up of body, soul and passport) nd continued his propagandism. Jut the government became more yrannieal in its proceedings and finally its cruelties goaded the people o rebellion. Now, for the first time, !íihilism appeared as a political arty, and endeavored to aceomjlish its purposes by means which he speaker characterized as Asiatic and not European. From terrorism he movement passed to military conspiracy, but at present the civil element is most pronounced in Niïilistic circles. The speaker deprecated the use of jombs and dynamite, but laid the jlame for using them upon the Russian government, which he said proïibited all peaceful means of agitation. The Nihilists. he continued, are not desirous of repeating the aloody scènes of the French revolution, but hope to obtain their ends by less severe measures. All educated Russians are in favor of reform and if the people were ready a sweeping revolution would result. He laid great stress on foreign public opinión as a potent faetor in the enlightenment of the people, and considered the articles written by George Kennan as being almost boundless in their influence. At the close of the lecture he called for questions, and among others the following interesting facts were brought forth: One million Russian peasants die annually from starvation owiag to bad government and exorbitant taxes. One out of thirteen attend public school, but one out of three can read and write owing to private tuition. The religious sects aid greatly in diffusing educution. The majority of adherents to state church are indifferent in matters of religión, and as a result there are fifteen million protestants. A very small per cent. of the Jews are usurers and their persecution is due to bigotry