From: Ishill, Joseph. (1927). Élisée and Élie Reclus: In Memoriam. Compiled, ed. and printed by Joseph Ishill. Berkeley Heights, N.J.: Oriole Press.


"THE HISTORY OF A MOUNTAIN"

IN SPRING WHEN ALL NATURE IS REGENERATED, IT IS DELIGHTIUL TO SEE THE GREEN OF THE GRASS AND FOLIAGE PREVAIL OVER THE WHITENESS OF THE SNOW. THE BLADES OF GRASS, WHICH CAN BREATHE AGAIN, & ONCE MORE SEE LIGHT, LOSE THEIR RED TINT AND CHARRED APPEARANCE; THEY FIRST ASSUME A WHITISH YELLOW, THEN A BEAUTIFUL GREEN. MULTITUDES OF FLOWERSERS STUD THE MEADOWS; HERE NOTHING BUT RANUNCULUS, ELSEWHERE ANEMONES OR PRIMROSES, SPRING UP IN CLUSTERS; FARTHER AWAY THE VERDURE DISAPPEARS BENEATH THE SNOWY WHITE OF THE GRACEFUL NARCISSUS OF THE POETS OR THE LILAC OF THE CROCUS, WHICH IS NOTHING BUT FLOWER FROM ROOT TO THE TIP OF THE COROLLA; BY THE WATER'S. SIDE THE PARNASSIA OPENS ITS DELICATE CALYX; HERE AND THERE TINY BLUE AND WHITE, PINK OR YELLOW FLOWERETS ARE CROWDED TOGETHER IN SUCH GREAT NUMBERS THAT THEY IMPART THEIR HUES TO THE WHOLE OF THE GRASSY SLOPE, SO THAT AS FAST AS THE SNOW RETIRES TOWARDS THE HEIGHTS BEFORE THE BLOOMING, VERDANT CARPET, WE CAN RECOGNIZE FROM THE OPPOSITE DECLIVITIES WHICH SPECIES OF PLANT PREDOMINATES IN THE MEADOW. SOON THE TREES, ALSO, TAKE PART IN THE FÊTE.

From day to day the mountain seems to be freshly clothed with a wondrous tissue, in which
silk and velvet blend. Little by little this youthful verdure of forests and heaths
advances to the summit; it ascends by the valleys and ravines, as if to scale
and conquer the supreme heights amid the ice. Up there every-
thing assumes an unexpected aspect of gladness. Even the
dark rocks, looking black by contrast with the snow,
adorn the irregularities of their surface with
tiny tufts of green. They, too, take
part in the spring-time gayety.

ELISÉE RECLUS




ettlau asks the influence of Elisée Reclus was on my generation,a generation which was twenty years old about 1891 and which, as a consequence, has today passed the fifties.

I can answer that it was purely a moral influence. The two Reclus brothers, Elie and Elisée, appeared to us as two grand figures, under whose shield our ideal assumed greater value. But their direct influence was nearly null. We had no contact with them. In the winter of 1891-1892, Elisée went to deliver a lecture to the group of Russian students. My wife told me that he spoke on the beauty, harmony and estheticism of a future society. Otherwise, he was not to be seen. Breton, the present senator of the Cher, charged me, during the vacation of 1892, to go and ask him for an article for the Almanach d'Argyriadès. But I did not have the opportunity of meeting him in his little house at Sèvres. Not that he refused to meet me. He was written to and he gave the article. Later the group of socialist, revolutionist, internationalist students of Paris organizing lectures at the Hôtel des sociétés Savants with renowned orators addressed itself to Elisée Reclus. He accepted on principle, but detained in Brussels, could not keep his promise.

The moral preoccupations touch us little. In revolutionary propaganda, the years '91 and '92 mark the advent of realism. The struggle was organized on the economic field. The Parisian workingmen, reunited into Allemaneist groups,(1) rid themselves of politicians. The first union was formed in the organization of the May Day demonstration. Then the propaganda for the general strike took shape. The federation of the Bourses of labor with Pelloutier became an independent organization whose power rapidly increased. The workers' (syndicalist) movement was born.

We are far from the primitive anarchistic propaganda. The old anarchists were a bit repelled by this new direction of the revolutionary propaganda. Almost the only ones of the generation, which preceded ours, Malatesta and Pouget alone understood the force of the syndicalist movement. However, the anarchistic influence is preponderant in workers' centres. Pouget became adjunct secretary of the Confédération Générale du Travail.

The workingmen have organized. They have acquired, as the Marxists term it, a class-conscience. Let us more simply state that they know their interests, that they have a clear plan of revindication and an ideal.

But the ideal has shrunk a bit beneath the realism of interests. The class-struggle is not all. It has indeed been seen in Russia, where the Marxists, who under the name of Bolsheviks seize the revolution, have been incapable of realizing their conceptions of a new economic order. The agrarian revolution has been accomplished outside of them. Their industrial organization, such as they had originally imagined it, has failed. And, curious thing, those who scorn morality and ideology, have in reality only made a moral revolution. Thanks to them, the Russian spirit has so changed that it is impossible that the past should ever be revived.

The ideas of Elisée Reclus resume their value. It is impossible to conceive a social revolution not having for itself the technicians and the intellectuals, without envisaging humanity in its integrity. It is impossible to change the social relations without a profound moral transformation.

DR. M. PIERROT

(1) Groups almost exclusively workers and mainly Parisian having formed a Socialist Party under the prepondering influence of Jean Allemane.



To next chapter
Return to Table of Contents
Return to Reclus Archive
Return to Anarchy Archives