Ernest Alfred Vizetelly. The Anarchists: Their Faith and Their Record. Turnbull and Spears Printers, Edingurgh, 1911.
THEIR FAITH AND THEIR RECORD
CHAPTER 5: ANARCHISM ON THE MARCH
Unrest in the Labour World--An Explosion at Temesvar--Tlle Federal Palace at Berne threatened--The Decazeville Skike and the Murder of M. Watrin--The Strikes in Belgium--An Outrage at the Paris Bourse--The Watrin Murder Trial--The American Strikes and the Chicago Anarchists--The Haymarket Affair--The "Martyrs of Chicago"--The Clement Duval Affair--The Situation in France--Attempts on Alexander III. of Russia--Anarchists versus Socialists and Communards--Deaths of the Emperors William I. and Frederick I.--Germany, Switzerland and the Right of Asylum--Outrages in Italy (1889)--Anarchist Literature in France--The first International May Day Celebrations in France Austria, Spain and Italy--Expiration of the German AntiSocialist Laws--The new Kaiser's new Policy--Resignation of Prince Bismarck.
The year 1885 was, on the whole, one of somewhat less violent propaganda on the part of the Anarchists. There was, however, considerable unrest in the Labour World at this time both in Paris and in London, owing to the prevalence of unemployment. In the former city a somewhat tumultuous demonstration took place on the Place de' Opera and was dispersed by the mounted Garde Republicaine. In London there were many meetings of the unemployed, and the Social Democratic Federation made itself extremely prominent. On March 21 a singular affair occurred at Temesvar in the Banat south of Hungary. Three little bags, supposed to contain seed, exploded at the post-office there, killing three officials. About this time there was also some little trouble in Switzerland, from which country, ever since 1883, a number of Anarchists had been periodically expelled in consequence of the complaints lodged with the authorities by Foreign Ministers. These expulsions were naturally resented by the remaining Anarchists, but the only result of some anonymous letters which were addressed to the Federal Council, threatening to blow up the Federal Palace at Berne, was another series of expulsion orders. It is really doubtful, however, whether the letters in question actually emanated from Anarchists, for, as we shall presently see, there were then several foreign agents provocaleurs in Switzerland, bent on stirring up trouble in order to induce the authorities to drive the Anarchist and Nihilist refugees out of the country.
In January 1886 there being no Anarchist disturbances in France, Prince Kropotkin, Bordat, and some of their fellow- prisoners, as well as Louise Michel, Pouget and others were pardoned by President Grevy and released from prison. Prince Kropotkin, for his part, then repaired to London and took up his residence there. But the unrest in the Labour World remained very great, and only a few weeks later there were serious troubles. A strike had broken out at Decazeville in the department of the Aveyron which, the reader may be reminded, is on the confines of the excitable region popularly known as Le Midi. Though the movement was at first of no great extent, terrible excesses were committed, and on January 26 an unpopular engineer narned Watrin was murdered under circumstances of the greatest brutality, being struck on the head with iron bars, then, after having his hair torn out, being flung from a window, and trampled under foot by a crowd which was waiting outside. It was a truly horrible affair, such as Zola depicted in the pages of his famous novel "Germinal." Eight men and two women were arrested in connection with the crime, which found however, not only apologists but even glorifiers among prominent Parisian Socialists and Anarchists, Whose periodicals described it as an "execution."
Moreover, the situation at Decazeville was now designedly aggravated by the intervention of a couple of Revolutionary Socialist deputies, Camelinat and Basly, and two journalists of the same party, Roche and DucQuercy, who contributed to " L'Intransigeant " and "Le Cri du Peuple." These agitators were less concerned about the condition of the workers of Decazeville than anxious to strike a blow at Leon Say, the statesman and economist, who happened to be Chairman of the Decazeville Mining and Foundry Company, and was regarded as a typical representative of the hated capitalist class. The authorities at last arrested DucQuercy and Roche, but this only fanned the excitement; and, before long, coal-miners, iron-founders, glass-workers and others were all on strike throughout the region. Anarchist fanatics, moreover, were busy among them, and there were a number of outrages and various collisions with the gendarmerie. On one such occasion, when the strikers assailed a non-striker named Leitner, quite an engagement with firearms ensued, and a score of people were wounded.
While these excesses were occurring in the Decazeville region, others of an even more serious character were taking place in Belgium, where several thousand miners, glass- workers and others came out on strike, in part with the object of securing an eight hours' working day. densely populated districts of the valley of the Meuse and the province of Hainault were soon in a state of fernent, and around Liege and Charleroi there came a perfect explosion of destructive fury. Public buildings, factOries, convents, private houses were fired and pillaged by the men on strike, and Belgian Socialists and Anarchists, the latter of whom were reinforced by numerous foreigners, notably Germans, vied with one another in encouraging these deeds. The Belgian Government proceeded against the rioters with great vigour. At the head of a large military force General Van der Smissen succeeded in restoring order, and many prosecutions ensued, these being directed not only against the actual authors of the outrages which had been perpetrated, but also against those who had incited them. Thus the editors of several extremist journals were sent to prison. In France a similar fate once more overtook Louise Michel who, unable to restrain herself, had indulged in incendiary speeches at public meetings.
While the French and Belgian strikes were at their height a strange Anarchist outrage occurred at the Paris Bourse. A man named Gallo made his way to the gallery overlooking the great hall where business is transacted, and threw a bottle into the midst of the stockbrokers and others who were assembled below him. The bottle was broken by its fall, but, instead of any explosion, only an abominable stench resulted. Immediately afterwards, however, Gallo drew a revolver from his pocket and shouting " Vive l'Anarchie!" fired three times into the throng of amazed speculators. Fortunately nobody was killed, and Gallo, being secured before he could make any further attempt, was carried off, tried, and sent to prison.
In June the Decazeville strike at last came to an end, the company making concessions to the coalminers, with whom the trouble had originated; and about the same time the prisoners arrested for the murder of M. Watrin were brought to trial. It was difficult to produce evidence against them for few independent persons had witnessed any part of the actual crime. Six prisoners, therefore were acquitted, four others being found guilty, with " extenuating circumstances" on the ground that there had been no premeditation. They accordingly escaped the capital penalty and were sentenced to terms of hard labour or solitary confinement. Rodez, where the tria took place, is famous in the annals of French crime as the scene of the murder of Judge Fualdes, perhaps the most wonderful of all French causes celebres. It has been well said that everything ends in France with a song. The Fualdes murder led to the composition of a long- famous and lugubrious ditty, such as is called a complainte, and the Watrin case had a similar sequel in the form of some execrable verses of a sarcastic turn which were entitled " The Anarchist Execution, or the Lamentable Fate of M. Watrin, Engineer." Here is a specimen of this extraordinary effusion:--
Ce fut done par la fenetre
Qu'on precipita Watrin.
La foule faisait un train
A ne pas sty reconnaitre
Et l'ingenieux ingenieur
Etait dechire d'horreur!
On lui jette de la boue,
On veut le mettre en morceau,
On le traite de pourceau, On lui dechire la joue!
Bedel, le bon compagnon,
Dit: *' Mais etranglez- le done. "
Les femmes, toujours charmantes,
S'en melent. Les voici:
Pendaries, Phalip aussi.
Les voutrait- on pour amantes II est feroce et rageur L'aimable sexe enchanteur! France and Belgium were not the only countries where there were serious labour troubles during the spring of 1886, for the Eight Hours Day agitation was also rife in the United States. Demonstrations took place in New York, and strikes broke out at St Louis, Milwaukee and Chicago. The last named, in which railwaymen and woodworkers participated, was the most serious. On May I a considerable body of strikers, among whom Germans, Poles and Bohemians predominated, attacked the McCormick reaper-factory, on the ground that the men employed there worked ten hours a day. The factory was defended by police, and after a number of men had been shot on both sides the attacking force drew off defeated. At this time there was already a considerable Anarchist colony in the United States. At Pittsburg in 1883, the sect had held a congress attended by representatives of twenty-two cities. At Chicago, the most prominent Anarchists of the time included Michael Schwab, to whom we referred in a previous chapter, George Engels, Albert Parsons and August Spies, the last named of whom edited a paper issued in the German language. This sheet incited the men on strike to violent actions and after the repulse of the attack on the McCormick reaper-works, it convened an indignation meeting to protest against the behaviour of the police.
On May 4 this meeting assembled in Haymarket Square, Randolph Street, when the proceedings began with a speech by Spies followed by another by Parsons. Both of these addresses tended to inflame the crowd, but they were quite mild in comparison with an oration orderedby another Anarchist whose lurid, threatening utterances were greeted with great applause by the excited crowd and provoked the intervention of tile authorities. A force of 125 police, which had been previously assembled, was marched to the spot, and the meeting was ordered to disperse. An Anarchist narned Samuel Fielden answered that injunction by shouting,
"To arms!" and, when it was repeated, somebody else in the throng replied: "Kill the!" Immediately afterwards a bomb was hurled at the police, five of whom fell to the ground, while others, and several of the demonstrators also, were injured.
The rest of the police immediately retaliated with their revolvers, the demonstrators produced theirs, and bullets were soon whizzing hither and thither across the Square. Before the spot was cleared there had been, altogether, seven policemen killed (or mortally wounded) and twentyseven injured more or less severely. The casualties on the side of the demonstrators were never accurately ascertained as many of the wounded were carried or assisted to the rear and thence elsewhere; but including a few who were killed, it is computed that there were about fifty sufferers.
Eight of the ringleaders were seized by the police, including Michael Schwab, Samuel Feilden, Albert Parsons, George Engels, Adolph Fischer, August Spies, Louis Ling and a man whose name we find given sometimes as Neebe and sometimes as Neald. None of them, it appears, had actually thrown the bomb with which the affray had begun, this having been, it is said, the act of another Anarchist named Schnaubelt. The ensuing trial, however, resulted in seven of the prisoners being sentenced to death, and the eighth, Neebe, to fifteen years imprisonment. Schwab and Fielden, however, were reprieved, their sentences being changed to imprisonment for life, though ultimately they and Neebe also were pardoned and released by Governor Altgeld. A fourth prisoner, Louis Ling, escaped the penalty of the law by committing suicide in as extraordinary a manner as could well be imagined. He obtained possession of a cigar, which contained, it was asserted, fulminate of mercury, and had no sooner lighted it when it exploded in his mouth, blowing off a portion of his face. This entailed far greater physical suffering than he would have incurred had he submitted to his sentence, for instead of being killed immediately he lingered for some hours before expiring. In the case of the remaining prisoners, Spies, Parsons, Engels and Fischer, the law eventually took its course, and electrocution not yet having been introduced into the United States, these four men were hanged in November 1887. Among their sect in America and Europe they became known as the Chicago Martyrs, and symbolical presentments of them or engravings depicting their execution circulated widely in Anarchist circles. Moreover, there was no lack of protests and denunciations of the American authorities, who, however, were in no degree intimidated but promptly arrested Schwab's friend, Johann Most, when he subsequently attempted to stir up further trouble, bringing him to trial with the result that he was sentenced to twelve months solitary confinement.
In the autumn of 1886 some semi-Socialist, semi-Anarchist troubles occurred at Leipzig, while in Vienna there was a discovery of a quantity of explosives, with which it was surmised that the Anarchists proposed to follow the example formerly set by the Irish extremists in London. The following year, 1887, was not remarkable for Anarchist activity. Prince Kropotkin, however, was the guest of the evening at a meeting held in London to commemorate the rising of the Paris Commune of 1871 --an anniversary which was celebrated in France by a large number of so-called banquets at which the bill of fare consisted of little beyond roast veal and salad which, for some mysterious reason, French Socialists, Anarchists and other Revolutionists have always regarded as the most appropriate dishes for a festive occasion. Over the case of a burglar named Clement Duval, who plundered and set fire to Mme. Madeleine Lemaire's mansion, the Anarchist press, which was reinforced this year by a periodical of some note "L'Idee ouvriere,' produced at Havre, engaged in a bitter controversy with other journals which asserted that the said Duval was an Anarchist, whereas the organs of the sect declared that he was nothing of the kind. They may have been right, and if so were entitled to repudiate him, but it may be pointed out that a few years later they never thought of repudiating Ravachol though he was guilty of far greater crimes at common law than any committed by Duval.
But in 1887 attention in France was diverted from the Anarchists by the famous Franco-German frontier incident known as the Schncebele Affair, which at one moment threatened to bring war in its train. Indeed, such might well have happened had the French War Minister, the notorious General Boulanger, had his way. But his colleague at the Foreign Office, M. Emile Flourens --brother of the madcap Gustave Flourens of the Commune--was an adroit diplomatist, and contrived to avert a catastrophe. There was, however, another matter which shook the bourgeois republican regime-- the great Decorations Scandal, in which Daniel Wilson, son-in-law of President Grevy, was implicated, and which eventually brought about the resignation of Grevy, who was succeeded by Sadi Carnot (December 3, I887). As we know, the troubles in which the Republic found itself involved gave heart to Revolutionists of many kinds, not Socialists and Anarchists only but also those who aimed at a revival of Césarian rule.
In Russia in 1887 the Nihilists were again active, there being no fewer than three attempts to assassinate the czar Alexander III., two of them occurring at St Petersburg and one at Novo Tscherkask. The only outrages imputed to Anarchists that year, occurred in Spain, where an infernal machine was deposited at the Palace of the Cortes in Madrid, while a dynamite cartridge was exploded in the courtyard of the Ministry of Finances. The next year 1888 witnessed, particularly in France, a variety of incidents in which Anarchists participated. In May they attacked a party of Communards who were on their way to visit the tombs of Auguste Blanqui, Jules Valles and Charles Delescluze. The idea of rendering homage to the memory of three Revolutionists who had also been authoritarians, Delescluze in particular having person)fied the principles of Robespierre and St Just, was repulsive to the Anarchist mind. So sundry members of the sect fired on the procession, and wounded two of the misguided people who formed part of it. Again in August, and in a like spirit, there was Anarchist interference at the funeral of the Communard " General " Eudes, who, during the insurrection of I87I, had occupied the Palace of the Legion of Honour and there amused himself by lying in bed with his boots and spurs on, and using the large mirrors around him as targets for his revolver. Although in reality Eudes had been little more than a militarist po?`r rire, his personality was obnoxious to the Anarchists, and thus his obsequies were attended by an affray in which that notorious journalist, Citizen the Marquis de Rochefort- Lucay, who imagined himself to be the idol of each and every Revolutionary, had to be protected from Anarchist violence. These incidents showed that although the Anarchists were only too willing to abet and aggravate Labour troubles stirred up by other Revolutionists--such as the strike of abourers, masons and carters that year in connexion with the work for the Paris Exhibition of I889--they remained extremely hostile to every sect which, like the detested bourgeoisie, represented one or another form of the obnoxious principle of authority. From this it follows that they were naturally opposed to the Boulangist agitation which was now approaching a climax.
The only dynamite outrages imputed to French Anar chists this year (1888) were explosions in November at two registry offices for waiters, when considerable damage was done to property and a few people were slightly injured. In the summer, however, there had been further attempts at Anarchist disturbances at Chicago where a number of explosives were discovered and seized by the police. It was on March 9 this year that the aged German Emperor, William I. was gathered to his fathers, being followed to the grave on June I4 by his son and successor, the Emperor Frederick, whereupon the imperial dignity passed to the present Kaiser, William II., who was then m his thirtieth year. Before that happened Prince Bismarck and his ministerial colleague Herr von Puttkammer, had prevailed on the Reichstag to pass further measures against the Socialist and Anarchist sects. The right of association was curtailed, the official powers for suppressing seditious literature were increased and the participation of German subjects in foreign polittcal congresses was forbidden. In the course of a speech made by Herr von Puttkammer at this time it was stated that Germany had agents in Switzerland carefully watching the doings of the Revolutionary refugees who resided there, and the Minister remarked that these agents often rendered valuable services to others tates and rulers, the Russian Government, for instance, having been warned by this means of various plots against the life of the Czar.
The presence, however, of German police- agents on Swiss territory led to serious trouble between the Empire and the Confederation. About the end of April 1889, a certain Herr Wohlgemuth, a police official of Mulhausen- in Alsace, was arrested at Rheinfelden, in the Swiss canton of Aargau, for acting as an agent provocaleur in conjunction with a certain Lutz, who had been trying to foment revolutionary agitation among the workers of the region of Basle. Wohlgemuth and Lutz were thereupon expelled the country by Government decree, whereat Prince Bismarck became mightily indignant. He summoned the Swiss authorities to withdraw the decree of expulsion, and matters went so far that it seemed at one moment as if the German Minister to the Confederation would be recalled.
The Chancellor complained that Switzerland harboured many German subjects contrary to the stipulations of a treaty concluded in April 1876, which had specified under what conditions Germans should be allowed to reside in the Confederation; and he signibed his deliberate intention of maintaining a force of German police- agents on Swiss territory, as the Swiss police did not protect foreign Governments sufficiently against the enterprises of all the Socialists, Anarchists and Nihilists who had taken refuge in that country. The Federal Government replied at first with some spirit that it had invariably discharged its duty towards foreign powers, but on remonstrances from Austria and Russia following those of Germany, it weakened and made concessions. Bills submitted to the National Council, and passed by it unanimously, restricted the right of asylum in the country, and provided for the appointment of an attorney- general of the Confederation, whose duty it would be to regulate the settlement of foreigners and prosecute all those whose actions might endanger international peace and security. Further, several more Nihilists and Anarchists, the latter principally French, were now expelled from Switzerland.
There was, however, comparatively little Anarchist Propaganda by Deed in this year 1889, the centenary of the French Revolution. There were a few signs of some strikes which broke out in Germany; and two bomb outrages occurred in Rome: one at the end of March, in a church, during a Lenten sermon, when there was a panic among the congregatiOn though very little damage was done, and the second on the evening of August I8, when a bomb was flung into a crowd of loungers who were listening to the band on the Piazza Colonna. On this occasion two policemen and six other people were injured. On the other hand Anarchist propaganda by the pen was now rapidly increasing, particularly in France. In the previous year Constant Martin had issued his " C,'a Ira," and Malato his " Travailleurs des Villes " and " Travailleurs des Champs,'' two pamphlets whose sales were estimated at the time at 20,000 copies. In 1889 appeared Malato's " Philosophie de l'Anarchie" as well as Most's " Religious Plague," and a new edition of Jean Grave's work " La Societe future." In the following year it was found that four and twenty books or pamphlets expounding the theories of Anarchism were in circulation in France, and - it was calculated that quite 150,000 copies of them had been sold.
It was now, 1890, that the Labour Demonstrations on May Day first became international. The Anarchist freely participated in them. In Paris all the public buildinfgs were strongly guarded by the military, but apart from some attempt at a hostile demonstration near the Elysee Palace there was no disturbance, though Malato, Merlino and Louise Michel were prosecuted and sent to prison for revolutionary speeches. There was a little rioting at Lyons, and some of a more serious character at Vienne, farther south. Disturbances also Occurred at Buda-Pesth, but the Austrian capital remained quiet by reason of the energy of the authorities and the numerOus arrests which had taken place during the previous month in consequence of a demonstration Outside the imperial palace of Schcenbrunn.
In many parts of Spain the May celebrations were attended by a complete cessation of work for several days. Strikes were prevalent in the Basque provinces, and some disorder occurred there. Barcelona had been decreed in a state of siege in view of possible eventualities, and explosives were certainly thrown at a few public buildings, doing, however, little or no damage. On the whole the city was overawed by the military preparations. At Valencia, however, matters were more serious. There were attacks on a Jesuit convent and on the residence of a nobleman who favoured the Carlist cause.
The worst excesses occurred, however, in Italy, where no fewer than 6000 arrests were effected, the men who were apprehended including a number of foreign agitators. Revolutionists of every school and perfervid patriots, carried away by the " Italia irredenta" agitation, participated in the demonstrations which were often distinctly hostile to King Humbert, particularly at Rome, where "Down with the Austrian Colonel!" was the rallying cry. At Leghorn a bomb was flung at the Prefecture, and wounded a shopkeeper who was standing near. At Turin two officers of the Bersaglieri were shot with revolvers, whereupon their men charged the crowd with their bayonets, wounding, it was estimated, a hundred people. Revolvers were also fired at the troops at Rimini, and there was a tumultuous demonstration at Naples.
Meantime an important change was impending in Germany, where, as previously mentioned, the present Kaiser William II. had succeeded his father in June
1888. Prior to that date, as we pointed out, Prince Bismarck, the Chancellor, had obtained from the Reichstag some important additions to his measures for the repression of Socialism and Anarchism. But the new sovereign did not believe in the Bismarckian policy, and thus no attempt was made to secure any further renewal of the original anti- Socialist laws which expired automatically in 1890. They had been in force for a dozen years, during which time the voting strength of the Socialists had become four times greater than it had been prior to their enactment. The young Kaiser was of opinion that he might effectually take the wind out of the sails of the Revolutionary factions by devising State measures to ameliorate the lot of the working classes. He issued a rescript expressing his desire for such improvement and also convened a conference on the subject. Those measures led up to the resignation of Prince Bismarck and the appointment of General Count Caprivi to the Chancellorship. The once all- powerful minister was reported at the time to have said: " One must either fight Socialism or yield to it. I prefer the former course, the Emperor prefers the other. That is why I have retired." The Prince's view of the Emperor's intentions was not, however, accurate, for, as we all know, the Imperial German Government has been contending against Socialism, in one way or another, from that day to this.
Some readers may think that in giving the above particulars and others which have figured in this chapter and the previous one, we have strayed unduly from our subject, Anarchism. But it must be pointed out that the history of Anarchism is often closely interwoven with that of other Revolutionary movements, and that one has frequently reacted on another. In order, therefore, to understand the situation of the Anarchists at certain periods, it is necessary to take account of the other Revolutionary sects and their position, as well as of a variety of events which tended to further or to check one or another movement. Thus we now propose to say something of the occurrences which led up to the great outburst of Anarchism m France from