THE REVOLT IN MOSCOW. T HE defeat of the revolutionaries in
Moscow, which appears to have been quite complete, furnishes one more illustration of the truth that when a regular Government uses artillery against its own subjects with as little scruple as it would against foreign enemies, urban insurgents have scarcely any chance. The houses which are their fortresses crumble and blaze under the shells. The Maxims mow down the people with- out the possibility of effective reply from mere rifle fire. The citizens are sure to be badly armed, for their weapons, imported from different countries or stolen from the gunsmiths' shops, are not all alike. Their supply of missiles, therefore, gives out long before the soldiers, who are fed from the arsenals, begin to be con- scious that, in the words often heard on old battlefields, "the powder is nearly done." The insurgents may give their lives with the readiness which the revolutionaries showed in Moscow, but they have no more substantial chance than the Dervishes had at Omdurman unless the troops are panic-stricken or secretly disaffected, and the secret disaffection, even when it exists, does not last through half-an-hour of battle. The wild beast always latent in man wakes from its lair, the soldiers feel the dropping fire from the houses as a murderous outrage, and very soon they would shoot down their own fathers rather than be thrashed by non-professionals in the face of the whole world. To speak plainly, the instant a Government becomes merciless the people are at the moment of active collision at its mercy. In Moscow the authorities, conscious that their careers as well as their lives depended absolutely upon success, and probably aware also that any sign of half- heartedness would encourage disaffection or desertions, fought with a fury which spared nothing. cleared barricades defended by women, disregarded the destruction of private property, and even fired a whole quarter, covering a square mile, of wooden huts. The actual number killed makes little difference. The revolutionaries have every interest in exaggerating and the Government every interest in diminish- ing -it, while the returns from the hospitals naturally include only those of the wounded who could fly thither or be carried thither for surgeon's aid. It is most improbable that after four days of such fighting and such massacres the number of the sufferers was still to be counted in hundreds ; but the point is chiefly of importance from its bearing on the consequent vindictiveness among the people. It suffices for the watching public of Europe that enough were killed to produce hopelessness among insurgents who often displayed the courage of despair; that their leaders at last gave the word for surrender ; and that "order reigns in Moscow" as nearly half-a-century ago it reigned in Warsaw.
The result of the struggle will doubtless discourage the revolutionaries in all other cities, though, be it observed, there is a rather curious difference of tempera- ment among them—fury in St. Petersburg differing, for instance, from fury in Moscow or Odessa—and will probably induce the soldiers to forget their own grievances in the pride of remaining the dominant caste of the population. But, therefore, for two peculiarities of Russia, we should expect that the Russian stockbrokers had for once judged the situation rightly, and that the rapid and sudden rise in Russian securities was a true symptom of the revival, not, indeed, of order, but of authority. The two peculiarities are the incompetence of the governing class in Russia, and—many of our readers will consider the sentence absurd, but it is true—the deep spirit of kindli- ness which lurks rather than exists in the character of the average Russian. The massacres which have accompanied the repression, and which in one instance at least con- tinued after a surrender, or at any rate an offer of terms, will not be forgiven for generations; and Russians, though they are not Orientals—that is an ethnical blunder—have some of the Oriental contempt for death. They are apt to rise again after they are hopeless. As for the incompetence of the governing class, there has been hardly anything like it in history. Even the French nobility, though their panic flight over the frontier indicated some misreading or degeneration of their historic character, produced a Mirabeau and a Barras ; but the Russians, with every career open, throw up no big soldier or big man of any kind. No one seems to see clearly what the people want, though the people in every corner of Russia are dying in heaps rather than bear their oppression any longer. Nor does any one permanently decide whether repression or concession is the necessity of the Monarchy. Even the concessions to the troops are rather like those which would be suggested by an average sergeant than those which would occur to an organising statesman. It may be, of course, that the necessity of submitting every order to the weak gentleman who now occupies the throne paralyses any strong men who may be at the head of affairs ; but the weakness of the Czar shows itself in vacillation rather than in an inability to comprehend good advice, and no one—not even General Trepoff—obtains his permanent confidence. The major probability, therefore, is that risings will be repeated, and that the Government will make some fatal blunder,—irritate the peasantry, for instance or plunder the Church without the sanction of Duma or plunge into some war which will not by its popularity extinguish internal dissension. The rulers seem unable to learn even from their own successes. They have restored order in Finland without surrendering authority, but are unable to see that moderated autonomy detaches from the cause of revolution the masses without whose consent revolution is impossible.
Englishmen, like the rest of the world, must wait a little before they form a final opinion as to the probable end .of this great struggle, which will settle the fate of Europe for many a year to come ; and they will wait all the more calmly if they will remember how completely events have revealed their own ignorance of the facts which have under- lain the apparent greatness of Russia. Though a presump- tion in favour of island Powers during maritime warfare made them suspicious of the Russian Fleet, they did notthink that a Russian army could be overwhelmed by a Japanese; and they never dreamed that throughout the Empire—; in the north, iu the south, in the centre, and in all divisions of the long-drawn fringe—great classes existed whohad been oppressed for centuries into a longing for liberty so great that they were ready to die for its attainment. The very soldiers are hostile, if not to the Czar, who is too far off to be realised, yet to the officers who maintain discipline with blows, and get drunk with champagne while their " children " cannot obtain decent food. The peasantry regard the landlords as our people in early times regarded tax-gatherers, and destroy their castles as if they were occupied by so many Front de Bceufs. The workmen, again, who furnish brains to the revolution, hate the conditions of their labour as much as they hate the autocracy, which is, they think, the keystone to all oppressions; while in the entire educated class of Russia the Government has scarcely a friend who is not drawing pay. That which looked to us all like a mountain was really a sandy dune riddled with fissures which the first fall of extra rain would bring down in land-slips on the plains below. Scores of the most intelligent men in Europe, with a special duty of observation imposed on them, have resided for years at the Russian Court, but can any one name a diplomatist—with the doubtful exception of Prince Bismarck—who has discerned clearly the clay feet of the brazen statue? Those, therefore, are not too cautious who Kepse,sto, (Iodide precipitately how the great -struggle willL 04 The unknown quantity—the great man—does ,not appear ; the nexus between the provinces is so, imperfect Jhat ..no discontented province rises just when. another has iisen.;,:and all that is certain is that the land is in revolUtiOn, and that in Russia in any "week , any thing ni,a,y .happen. ,