“The bureaucracy has brought the country to the verge of ruin, and, by a shameful war, is bringing it to its downfall. We have no voice in the heavy burdens imposed on us; we do not even know for whom or why this money is wrung from the impoverished people, and we do not know how it is expended. This state of things is contrary to the Divine laws, and renders life unbearable. Assembled before your palace, we plead for our salvation. Refuse not your aid; raise your people from the tomb, and give them the means of working out their own destiny. Rescue them from the intolerable yoke of officialdom; throw down the wall that separates you from them, in order that they may rule with you the country that was created for their happiness—a happiness which is being wrenched from us, leaving nothing but sorrow and humiliation.”
With an innate sentiment of autocratic dignity the Emperor declined to obey the imperious summons, and he thereby avoided an unseemly altercation with the excited priest, as well as the boisterous public meetings which the Social Democrats were preparing to hold in the Palace Square. Orders were given to the police and the troops to prevent the crowds of workmen from penetrating into the centre of the city from the industrial suburbs. The rest need not be described in detail. On Sunday the crowds tried to force their way, the troops fired, and many of the demonstrators were killed or wounded. How many it is impossible to say; between the various estimates there is an enormous discrepancy. At one of the first volleys Father Gapon fell, but he turned out to be quite unhurt, and was spirited away to his place of refuge, whence he escaped across the frontier.
As soon as he had an opportunity of giving public expression to his feelings, he indulged in very strong language. In his letters and proclamations the Tsar is called a miscreant and an assassin, and is described as traitorous, bloodthirsty, and bestial. To the ministers he is equally uncomplimentary. They appear to him an accursed band of brigands, Mamelukes, jackals, monsters. Against the Tsar, “with his reptilian brood,” and the ministers alike, he vows vengeance—“death to them all!” As for the means for realising his sacred mission, he recommends bombs, dynamite, individual and wholesale terrorism, popular insurrection, and paralysing the life of the cities by destroying the water-mains, the gas-pipes, the telegraph and telephone wires, the railways and tram-ways, the Government buildings and the prisons. At some moments he seems to imagine himself invested with papal powers, for he anathematises the soldiers who did their duty on the eventful day, whilst he blesses and absolves from their oath of allegiance those who help the nation to win liberty.
So far I have spoken merely of the main currents in the revolutionary movement. Of the minor currents—particularly those in the outlying provinces, where the Socialist tendencies were mingled with nationalist feeling—I shall have occasion to speak when I come to deal with the present political situation as a whole. Meanwhile, I wish to sketch in outline the foreign policy which has powerfully contributed to bring about the present crisis.