Anarchy and Anarchists_
Eighteen and Eighty Nine_
Michael J. Schaack_
>> _ Our Anarchy is of the German school, which is more nearly akin to Nihilism than to the doctrines taught in France. It is founded upon the teachings of Karl Marx and his disciples, and it aims directly at the complete destruction of all forms of government and religion. It offers no solution of the problems which will arise when society, as we understand it, shall disappear, but contents itself with declaring that the duty at hand is tearing down; that the work of building up must come later...
The Second of Chapters_
The attempt to gain political ends by an appeal to infernal machines is not a new one. It is as old as gunpowder—and the evangel of assassination is older still. Murder was the recognized political weapon of the Eastern and Western Empires, and the Chicago Anarchists have proved themselves neither better nor worse than the “old man of the mountain” or the Italian princes of the middle ages. During the reign of Mary Queen of Scots the mysterious explosion occurred in the Kirk of Feld in which Darnley lost his life. Somewhat later was the “gunpowder plot,” in which Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament. The petard and the hand-grenade were the grandfather and the grandmother of the modern bomb, and murderous invention came to its new phase in the infernal machine which Ceruchi, the Italian sculptor, contrived to kill Napoleon when First Consul—a catastrophe which was avoided by the fact that Napoleon’s coachman was drunk and took the wrong turn in going to the opera-house.
France was fertile in this sort of machinery. Some years later Fieschi, Morey and Pepin tried to kill Louis Philippe with a similar apparatus on the Boulevard de Temple. The King escaped, but the brave Marshal Mortier was slain. Orsini and Pieri made a bomb, round and bristling with nippers, each of which was charged with fulminate of mercury, to explode the powder within, meaning to assassinate the Emperor Napoleon and the Empress Eugenie.
In the year 1866, according to the most trustworthy authorities, dynamite was first made by Alfred Nobel. In speaking of the invention, Adolf Houssaye, the French litterateur, recently said:
It should be remembered that nine-tenths, probably, of the dynamite made is used in peaceful pursuits; in mining, and similar works. Indeed, since its invention great engineering achievements have been accomplished which would have been entirely impossible without it. I do not see, then, much room for doubt that it has on the whole been a great blessing to humanity. Such certainly its inventor regards it. “If I did not look upon it as such,” I heard him say recently, “I should close up all my manufactories and not make another ounce of the stuff.” He is a strong advocate of peace, and regards with the utmost horror the use of dynamite by assassins and political conspirators. When the news of the Haymarket tragedy in Chicago reached him, M. Nobel was in Paris, and I well remember his expressions of horror and detestation at the cowardly crime.
“Look you,” he exclaimed. “I am a man of peace. But when I see these miscreants misusing my invention, do you know how it makes me feel? It makes me feel like gathering the whole crowd of them into a storehouse full of dynamite and blowing them all up together!”
Few people know what dynamite is, though it has attracted a good deal of attention of late, and before considering its use as a mode for political murder it may be well here to give an account of its making.
Nitro-glycerine, although not the strongest explosive known to science, is the only one of any industrial importance, as the others are too dangerous for manufacture. It was discovered by Salvero, an Italian chemist, in 1845. It is composed of glycerine and nitric acid compounded together in a certain proportion, and at a certain temperature. It is very unsafe to handle, and to this reason is to be ascribed the invention of dynamite, which is, after all, merely a sort of earth and nitro-glycerine, the use of the earth being to hold the explosive safely as a piece of blotting-paper would hold water until it was needed. Nobel first tried kieselguhr, or flint froth, which was ground to a powder, heated thoroughly and dried, and the nitro-glycerine was kneaded into it like so much dough. Of course, many other substances are now used, besides infusorial earth, as vehicles for the explosive—saw-dust, rotten-stone, charcoal, plaster of Paris, black powder, etc., etc. These are all forms of dynamite or giant powder, and mean the same thing. When the substance is thoroughly kneaded, work that must be done with the hands, it is molded into sticks somewhat like big candles, and wrapped in parchment paper. Nitro-glycerine has a sweet, aromatic, pungent taste, and the peculiar property of causing a violent headache when placed on the tongue or the wrist. It freezes at 40° Fahrenheit, and must be melted by the application of water at a temperature of 100°. In dynamite the usual proportions are 25 per cent. of earth and 75 per cent. of nitro-glycerine. The explosive is fired by fulminate of silver or mercury in copper caps.
Outside of the French arsenals it is to be doubted if anybody knows anything more about the new explosive, melinite, further than that it is one of the compounds of picric acid—and picric acid is a more frightful explosive than nitro-glycerine. I find in my scrap-book the following excerpt from the London Standard, describing the artillery experiments at Lydd with the new explosive which the British Admiralty has lately been examining. The Standard, after declaring that the experiments are “entirely satisfactory,” says:
The character of the compound employed is said to be “akin to melinite,” but its precise nature is not divulged. We have reason to believe that the “kinship” is very close. The details of the experiments which have lately been conducted at Lydd are known to very few individuals. But it is unquestionable that the results were such as demonstrate the enormous advantage to be gained by using a more powerful class of explosives than that which has been hitherto employed. There could be no mistake as to the destructive energy of the projectiles. Neither was there any mishap in the use of these terrible appliances. The like immunity was enjoyed at Portsmouth. A deterrent to the adoption of violent explosives for war purposes has consisted in the risk of premature explosion. But there is still the consideration that the advantage to be gained far exceeds the risk which has to be incurred. France has not neglected this question, and she is ahead of us. Her chosen explosive is melinite, and with this she has armed herself to an extent of which the British public has no conception. All the requisite materials, in the shape of steel projectiles and the melinite for filling them, have been provided for the French service and distributed so as to furnish a complete supply for the army and the navy. Whatever may be said as to the danger which besets the use of melinite, the French authorities are confident that they have mastered the problem of making this powerful compound subservient to the purposes of war. Concerning the composition of this explosive great secrecy is observed by the French Government, as also with regard to the experiments that are made with it. But Col. Majendie states that melinite is largely composed of picric acid in a fused or consolidated condition. Of the violence with which picric acid will explode, an example was given on the occasion of a fire at some chemical works near Manchester a year ago. The shock was felt over a distance of two miles from the seat of the explosion, and the sound was heard for a distance of twenty miles.
The conduct of the French in committing themselves so absolutely to the use of melinite as a material of war clearly signifies that with them the use of such a substance has passed out of the region of doubt and experiment. Their experimental investigations extended over a considerable period of time, but at last the stage of inquiry gave place to one of confidence and assurance. So great is the confidence of the French Government in the new shell that it is said the French forts are henceforth to be protected by a composite material better adapted than iron or steel to resist the force of a projectile charged with a high explosive. In naval warfare the value of shells charged in this manner is likely to be more especially shown in connection with the rapid-fire guns which are now coming into use. The question is whether the ponderous staccato fire of monster ordnance may not be largely superseded by another mode of attack, in which a storm of shells, charged with something far more potent than gunpowder, will be poured forth in a constant stream from numerous guns of comparatively small weight and caliber.
Combined with rapidity of fire, these shells cannot but prove formidable to an armor-clad, independently of any damage inflicted on the plates. The great thickness now given to ship armor is accomplished by a mode of concentration which, while affecting to shield the vital parts, leaves a large portion of the ship entirely unprotected. On the unarmored portion a tremendous effect will be produced by the quick-firing guns dashing their powerful shells in a fiery deluge on the ship.
Altogether the new force which is now entering into the composition of artillery is one which demands the attention of the British Government in the form of prompt and vigorous action. While we are experimenting, others are arming.
Dynamite, however, is the weapon with which the “revolution” has armed itself for its assault upon society. A terrible arm truly, but one difficult to handle, dangerous to hold, and certainly no stronger in their hands than in ours, if it should ever become necessary to use it in defense of law and order.
A number of Russian chemists, members of the Nihilist party, were the first to apply dynamite to the work of murder. It is to their researches that is to be credited the invention of the “black jelly,” so called, of which so much was expected, and by which so little was done.
Nihilist activity in Russia commenced almost as soon as the emancipated peasantry began to be in condition for the evangel of discontent. It was Tourgeneff, the novelist, who baptized the movement with its name of Nihilism—and the truth is that it is a movement rather than an organization. It is a loose, uncentralized, uncodified society, secret by necessity and murderous by belief; but it is a secret society without grips or passwords, without a purpose save indiscriminate destruction, and its very formlessness and vagueness have been its chief protection from the Russian police, who are, perhaps, after all is said and done, the best police in the world. A statement of Nihilism by that very famous Nihilist who is known as Stepniak, but who is suspected to be entitled to a much more illustrious name, runs thus:
By our general conviction we are Socialists and democrats. We are convinced that on Socialistic grounds humanity can become the embodiment of freedom, equality and fraternity, while it secures for itself a general prosperity, a harmonious development of man and his social progress. We are convinced, moreover, that only the will of the people should give sanction to any social institution, and that the development of the nation is sound only when free and independent and when every idea in practical use shall have previously passed the test of national consideration and of the national will. We further think that as Socialists and democrats we must first recognize an immediate purpose to liberate the nation from its present state of oppression by creating a political revolution. We would thus transfer the supreme power into the hands of the people. We think that the will of the nation should be expressed with perfect clearness, and best, by a National Assembly freely elected by the votes of all the citizens, the representatives to be carefully instructed by their constituents. We do not consider this as the ideal form of expressing the people’s will, but as the most acceptable form to be realized in practice. Submitting ourselves to the will of the nation, we, as a party, feel bound to appear before our own country with our own programme or platform, which we shall propagate even before the revolution, recommend to the electors during electoral periods, and afterwards defend in the National Assembly.
The Nihilist programme in Russia has been officially formulated thus:
First—The permanent Representative Assembly to have supreme control and direction in all general state questions.
Second—In the provinces, self-government to a large extent; to secure it, all public functionaries to be elected.
Third—To secure the independence of the Village Commune (“Mir”) as an economical and administrative unit.
Fourth—All the land to be proclaimed national property.
Fifth—A series of measures preparatory to a final transfer of ownership in manufactures to the workmen.
Sixth—Perfect liberty of conscience, of the press, speech, meetings, associations and electoral agitation.
Seventh—The right to vote to be extended to all citizens of legal age, without class or property restrictions.
Eighth—Abolition of the standing army; the army to be replaced by a territorial militia.
It must be remembered that the conditions in Russia are peculiar. The country is ruled by an autocracy; government is not by the people, but by “divine right.” The conditions which the English-speaking people ended at Runnymede still exist in Muscovy. There is neither free speech, free assembly, nor a free press, and naturally discontent vents itself in revolt. There is no safety-valve. Russia is full of generous, high-minded young men and women, who find their church dead, and their state a cruel despotism. They find themselves face to face with the White Terror, and they have sought in the Red Terror a relief. Flying at last from the hopeless contest, they have carried the hate of government born of bad ruling into Western Europe, and it is the infection of this poison that we have to deal with here. The average Russian Nihilist is a young man or a young woman—very often the latter—who, by the contemplation of real wrongs and fallacious remedies, has come to be the implacable enemy of all order and all system. Usually they are half-educated, with just that superficial smattering of knowledge to make them conceited in their own opinions, but without enough real learning to make them either impartial critics or safe citizens of non-Russian countries. We can pity them, for it is easy to see how step by step they have been pushed into revolt. But they are dangerous.
When one reads such a case as that which gave Vera Sassoulitch her notoriety, it is easier to understand Russia. General Trepoff, the Chief of Police of St. Petersburg, had arrested Vera’s lover on suspicion of high treason. The young man was by Trepoff’s order frequently flogged to make him confess his crime. Sassoulitch called on Trepoff and shot him. She was tried by a St. Petersburg jury and acquitted. Immediately a law was declared that no case of political crime should be tried by a jury, except when the Government had selected it. The arrest of the woman was ordered that she might be tried again under the new regulation, but in the meantime her friends had spirited her away.
A very similar crime was that attempted by another Nihilist heroine, Maria Kaliouchnaia, who attempted to kill Col. Katauski for his severity to her brother. In the assassination of the Czar, as I shall relate, a number of women were concerned, and their bravery was greatly more desperate than that of their male companions. The Russian woman is peculiar. I know no better picture of the “devoted ones” than that given in Tourgeneff’s “Verses in Prose”:
I see a huge building with a narrow door in its front wall; the door is open, and a dismal darkness stretches beyond. Before the high threshold stands a girl—a Russian girl. Frost breathes out of the impenetrable darkness, and with the icy draught from the depths of the building there comes forth a slow and hollow voice:
“Oh, thou who art wanting to cross this threshold, dost thou know what awaits thee?”
“I know it,” answers the girl.
“Cold, hunger, hatred, derision, contempt, insults, a fearful death even.”
“I know it.”
“Complete isolation and separation from all?”
“I know it. I am ready. I will bear all sorrows and miseries.”
“Not only if inflicted by enemies, but when done by kindred and friends?”
“Yes, even when done by them.”
“Well, are you ready for self-sacrifice?”
“For anonymous self-sacrifice? You shall die, and nobody shall know even whose memory is to be honored?”
“I want neither gratitude nor pity. I want no name.”
“Are you ready for a crime?”
The girl bent her head. “I am ready—even for a crime.”
The voice paused awhile before renewing its interrogatories. Then again: “Dost thou know,” it said at last, “that thou mayest lose thy faith in what thou now believest; that thou mayest feel that thou hast been mistaken and hast lost thy young life in vain?”
“I know that also, and nevertheless I will enter!”
The girl crossed the threshold, and a heavy curtain fell behind her.
“A fool!” gnashed some one outside.
“A saint!” answered a voice from somewhere.
With such material it was not difficult to build up the tragedy of 1881. Before the day of the Czar’s death came, there had been desperate attempts upon his life. Prince Krapotkin, a relative of the Nihilist of the same name, was murdered in February, 1879, and following this deed the terrorists applied themselves resolutely to the removal of the Emperor.
For instance, in November, 1879, was the mine laid at Moscow. It was intended to blow up the railway train upon which the Czar was to enter the city, and for this purpose Solovieff and his comrades laid three dynamite mines under the tracks. Hartmann, who subsequently figured in the assassination, was one of the leaders, and here, too, was Sophie Peroosky, another of the regicides. They hired a house near the railway tracks and tunneled under the road amidst incredible difficulties and always in the most imminent danger. One hundred and twenty pounds of dynamite was in position, but the Czar passed by in a common train before the imperial one on which he was expected, and his life was saved. On February 5, 1880, the mine under the Winter Palace was exploded; eleven persons were killed, but again the Czar escaped.
For some time before March 13, 1881, Gen. Count Loris Melikoff, the officer responsible for the safety of Czar Alexander II., had received disquieting reports which gave him the greatest anxiety. On the 10th of the month Jelaboff, the ringleader of the conspiracy, was arrested by accident, and the direction of the attempt on the Czar’s life was accordingly left to Sophie Perowskaja, a young, pretty and highly educated noblewoman, who had left everything to join the Nihilists. It is said that on the morning of the 13th Melikoff begged the Czar to forego his purpose of reviewing the Marine Corps, and keep within the palace. The Emperor laughed at him, and declared there was no danger. There was no incident until after the review. As the Emperor drove back beside the Ekaterinofsky Canal, just opposite the imperial stables, a young woman on the other side of the canal fluttered a handkerchief, and immediately a man started out from the crowd that was watching the passing of the Czar, and threw a bomb under the closed carriage. There was a roaring explosion, a cloud of smoke. The rear of the vehicle was blown away, and the horror-stricken multitude saw the Czar standing unhurt, staring about him. On the ground were several members of the Life Guard, groaning and writhing in pain. The assassin had pulled out a revolver to complete his work, but he was at once mobbed by the people. Col. Dvorjitsky and Captains Kock and Kulebiekan, of the guards, rushed up to their master and asked him if he was hurt.
“Thank God! no,” said the Czar. “Come, let us look after the wounded.”
And he started toward one of the Cossacks.
“It is too soon to thank God yet, Alexander Nicolaivitch,” said a clear, threatening voice in the crowd, and before any one could stop him, a young man bounded forward, lifted up both arms above his head, and brought them down with a swing. There was a crash of dynamite, a blaze, a smoke, and the autocrat of all the Russias was lying on the bloody snow, with his murderer also dying in front of him. Col. Dvorjitsky lifted up the Czar, who whispered:
“I am cold, my friend, so cold,—take me to the Winter Palace to die.”
The desperate Nihilist had thrown his bomb right between the Czar’s feet, and had sacrificed his own life to kill the Emperor.
Alexander was shockingly mutilated. Both of his legs were broken, and the lower part of his body was frightfully torn and mangled. The assassin—his name was Nicholas Elnikoff, of Wilna—was even more badly hurt. He died at once.
The Czar was taken into an open sled, and although it was claimed he received the last sacrament at the Winter Palace, most of those who know believe that he died on the way there.
In the meantime the police, with the utmost difficulty, rescued the first bomb-thrower from the maddened mob. The man, whose name proved to be Risakoff, coolly thanked the officers for preserving him, and then tried to swallow some poison which he had ready. In this he was foiled, and he was taken to prison.
The infernal machine used by Elnikoff was about 7½ inches in height, and its construction is exemplified in the annexed diagram. Metal tubes (b b) filled with chlorate of potash, and enclosing glass tubes (c c) filled with sulphuric acid (commonly called oil of vitriol), intersect the cylinder. Around the glass tubes are rings of iron (d d) closely attached as weights. The construction is such that, no matter how the bomb falls, one of the glass tubes is sure to break. The chlorate of potash in that case, combining with the sulphuric acid, ignites at once, and the flames communicate over the fuse (f f) with the piston (e), filled with fulminate of silver. The concussion thus caused explodes the dynamite or “black jelly” (a) with which the cylinder is closely packed.
I said above that Jelaboff, the real leader of the conspiracy, had been arrested on the 10th. He was merely a suspect, and it was some time before the police realized what an important arrest had been made. Only two hours before the murder of the Emperor, Jelaboff’s house was searched, and there was found a great quantity of black dynamite, India rubber tubes, fuses and other articles. Jelaboff had been living here with a woman who was called Lidia Voinoff. This Lidia Voinoff was arrested on the Newsky Prospect, on March 22nd, and almost immediately identified as Sophia Perowskaja, the young woman who had given the handkerchief signal to the bomb-throwers, and who was wanted besides for the Moscow railway mine case. On the prisoner were found papers which led to the search of a house on Telejewskaia Street, where a man named Sablin committed suicide immediately on the appearance of the police, and a woman named Hessy Helfmann was arrested. A regular Nihilist arsenal of black jelly, fuses, maps of different districts of St. Petersburg, with the Czar’s usual routes marked upon them, copies of papers from the secret press, etc., were found. While the police were still engaged in the search of the premises Timothy Mikhaeloff came in by accident. He was taken, and on him was found a copy of the new Czar’s proclamation, and penciled on the back were the names of three shops with three different hours in the afternoon. The officers descended on these places and gathered in customers, shop-keepers and everybody else about the place,—a process which brought in Kibaltchik, the Nihilist chemist and bomb-maker.
The evidence was soon got in shape, and early in April the trial began. It was shown that Jelaboff was agent in the third degree of the Revolutionary Executive Committee; that he had issued the call for volunteers for the killing of the Czar, and that forty-seven persons had offered themselves, out of whom Risakoff, Mikhaeloff, Hessy Helfmann, Kibaltchik, Sophia Perowskaja and Elnikoff had been accepted. Elnikoff was dead, but the others, with Jelaboff, were put in the dock. They all confessed except Hessy Helfmann, and upon April 11th all were condemned to death, with the proviso needed under the Russian law that the sentence of Sophia Perowskaja should be approved by the Czar, as she was a member of the class of nobles, and a noble may not be put to death without the Emperor’s concurrence. The Czar concurred, and on April 15th, at 9 a. m., all the prisoners save Hessy Helfmann were hung. This woman was reprieved because she was about to become a mother. The execution was a most brutal one. It took place on a plain two miles out of the city, in the presence of a hundred thousand people. The prisoners were taken out of the fortress on two-wheeled carts, surrounded by drummers and pipers, who played continuously and loudly, so that nothing the condemned might say could be heard by the crowd. At the scaffold the drummers were stationed in a hollow square around the gallows, and a deafening tattoo was kept up from the time the prisoners were brought in until their bodies were cut down. The hanging was very cruel. Each person was mounted on a small box, after kissing each other passionately all round. They said something, but it could not be heard for the drumming. The executioner was said to be evidently drunk. There was no drop. When the signal was given the condemned were pushed off their boxes and left to strangle. Mikhaeloff’s rope broke twice, and the attendants held him up while the executioner tied a new cord around his neck and over the beam. The bodies were buried privately.
The present Czar has had several narrow escapes, none of them more nearly fatal than the conspiracy of the book-bomb in March last. On the 13th of March, 1888, the anniversary of his father’s terrible death, the Czar made the usual visit to the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul, where the body of Alexander II. is buried. For some time before the ceremony St. Petersburg was full of rumors that a catastrophe was impending, and, although the police took the most careful precautions, the Czar himself paid no attention to the warnings of the “Third Section,” and would permit no alteration in the preparations for the requiem.
In Christmas week of 1887, the Russian agents at Geneva, in Switzerland, reported the presence in that city of two revolutionary agents who seemed to have the closest relations with the committee of the discontents in London and Paris. They were shadowed for a time, but lost. In February they reappeared in Berlin. They were known to be in communication with the St. Petersburg Nihilists. Before facts enough had accumulated to justify their arrest they disappeared once more and were believed to have gone to the Russian capital. The facts were reported to the Czar, but he laughed at Chief Gresser of the capital police.
In solemnizing the requiem of the late Czar a public progress was made to the Cathedral, amid a dense throng of citizens, among whom were all the detectives that Chief Gresser could get together. In a small café in one of the side streets of the Morokaya two of the detectives ran across a couple of uniformed university students—in Russia the students have a peculiar costume—who were acting suspiciously. They were conversing in a most excited manner with a man dressed as a peasant. The trio were watched. At the café door they separated, but all three made by different routes for the Newsky Prospect, the chief drive of the capital and the one along which the Czar was to return. The peasant was lost by the detectives, but the other two were kept in sight, and the suspicions of the police were made all the more keen by the fact that the young men passed each other in the crowd several times with an elaborate appearance of not knowing each other. One of them had a law-book in his hand; the other had a traveling-bag over his shoulder.
A few moments before the Czar was to pass on his return from the Cathedral the students came together and whispered, and the two were immediately and quietly arrested. Their names were given as Andreieffsky and Petroff, university students, and this was proven to be the truth.
A thrilling discovery was made, however, at once. The innocent-looking law-book was really a most dangerous infernal machine—sufficiently powerful not alone to kill everybody in the Czar’s carriage, but many in the crowd, and perhaps to have blown down some of the neighboring houses. The traveling-sack was full of dynamite bombs of the ordinary spherical pattern.
I reproduce here a diagram of the book-bomb from the excellent account of the attempted assassination given by the New York World a few days after it occurred.
The outside was made of wood and pasteboard, so artistically that only the closest inspection would discover the fact that the machine was not really a book. In the center of the interior, in the place marked C, were a number of hollow bullets filled with strychnine, which poison was also plastered upon the outside of the missiles. Above this were small compartments filled with fulminate, with a glass tube of sulphuric acid. To the tube was tied a string, which would break it when thrown, spilling it into the fulminate and thus exploding the dynamite with which the whole of the hollow parts of the interior was densely packed. Fully a hundred people must have been killed had the bomb been exploded as intended. The expert who examined the bomb, after handling the bullets carelessly put his finger in his mouth, and was seriously, though not fatally, poisoned.
Hardly had the arrest been made when the Czar was notified at the Cathedral. He ordered that the news should be withheld from the Empress, although he was himself visibly affected. He sprang into his sleigh with the Czarowitz, and drove by an unused route to the railway station. The Czarina followed shortly after in a carriage, greatly agitated by a presentiment of evil. Not until the train had started was she informed of the occurrence. She burst into tears, and was inconsolable for the rest of the journey. Once safe in his Gatschina Palace, the Czar is said to have given vent to his feelings in the strongest language, heaping anathemas upon the heads of the Nihilists, and threatening dire revenge.
Less than two hours after the arrest of Andreieffsky and Petroff their companion peasant fell into the hands of the police. His name was Generaloff, a native of Jaroslav, South Russia. He had been actively engaged in the Nihilist propaganda for some time past. He also carried bombs on his person.
These arrests were supplemented by numerous others. The lodgings of the prisoners in the suburbs of St. Petersburg known as the Peski (the Sands) were searched, and other explosives as well as documents incriminating other persons were found. As a result the procession of prisoners to the Peter and Paul’s Fortress for a time was almost unremitting, and no one felt safe against police intrusion. All three of the prisoners were subsequently executed.
England shortly afterward became the mark for the next development of the dynamite war. It is the fact that shortly after the assassination of the Czar an attack on the British Government was begun.
Prior to this there had been two outrages in 1881—one an attempt to blow up the barracks at Salford with dynamite, the other a gunpowder explosion at the Mansion House, London.
The record of the year, as compiled by Col. Majendie, the Inspector of Explosives, then runs on:
1881: 16 May. Attempt to blow up the police barracks at Liverpool with gunpowder in iron piping. Damage to the building was inconsiderable, and no one hurt.
10 June. Attempt to blow up the Town Hall, Liverpool, by an infernal machine probably filled with dynamite. A great number of windows broken, and some iron railings destroyed, but no one injured. The two perpetrators captured.
14 June. A piece of iron piping filled with gunpowder exploded against the police station at Loanhead, near Edinburgh. Some windows broken, but no other damage effected.
30 June. An importation of six infernal machines at Liverpool from America in the “Malta,” concealed in barrels of cement. They contained lignin dynamite, with a clock-work arrangement for firing it.
2 July. An importation of four similar machines at Liverpool in the “Bavaria.”
September. An attempt to produce an explosion at the barracks, Castlebar. A canister containing gunpowder was thrown over the wall, close to the magazine. The lighted fuse which was attached fell out, and no harm was done.
1882: 26 March. An attempt to blow up Weston House, Galway, with dynamite in an iron pot enclosed in a sack. Five persons were afterwards convicted of the outrage.
27 March. A 6-inch shell charged with explosive thrown into a house in Letterkenny. The explosion caused considerable damage.
2 April. An attempt to destroy a police barrack in Limerick by firing some dynamite on the window sill.
12 May. A discovery of a parcel containing 12 lbs. to 20 lbs. of gunpowder, with lighted touch-paper or fuse attached, at the Mansion House, London.
1883: 21 January. An explosion of lignin dynamite at Possil Bridge, Glasgow. Two or three persons passing sustained slight injury.
21 January. An explosion of lignin dynamite at Buchanan Street Station, Glasgow, in a disused goods shed.
15 March. An explosion at the Local Government Board Office, Whitehall, causing considerable local damage.
15 March. An abortive explosion of lignin dynamite outside a window at the Times office.
April. Two infernal machines, containing 28 lbs. of lignin dynamite (probably home-made), discovered at Liverpool. Four persons were convicted and sentenced to penal servitude for life.
April. The discovery of a factory of nitro-glycerine at Birmingham, and of a large amount of nitro-glycerine brought thence to London. The occupier of the house and others were subsequently convicted and sentenced to penal servitude for life.
30 October. An explosion in the Metropolitan Railway, between Charing Cross and Westminster, unattended with personal or serious structural injury.
30 October. An explosion on the Metropolitan Railway, near Praed Street. Three carriages sustained serious injury, and about sixty-two persons were cut by the broken glass and debris, and otherwise injured.
November. Two infernal machines discovered in a house in Westminster, occupied by a German named Woolf. Two men were tried, and in the result the jury disagreed and a nolle prosequi was entered on behalf of the Crown.
1884: January. The discovery of some slabs of Atlas Powder A (American make), in Primose Hill tunnel.
February. An explosion in the cloak-room of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway at Victoria Station of Atlas Powder A (American make), left in a bag or portmanteau.
27 February. The discovery of a bag containing some Atlas Powder A, with clock-work and detonators, at Charing Cross Station.
28 February. A similar discovery at Paddington Station.
1 March. A similar discovery at Ludgate Hill Station.
April. A discovery of three metal bombs, containing dynamite (probably American make), at Birkenhead, in possession of a man named Daly, who was afterwards sentenced to penal servitude for life.
30 May. An explosion of dynamite at the Junior Carlton Club, St. James’ Square. About fourteen persons were injured.
30 May. An explosion of dynamite at the residence of Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, St. James’ Square.
30 May. An explosion of dynamite in a urinal under a room occupied by some of the detective staff in Scotland Yard. It brought down a portion of the building, besides severely injuring a policeman and some persons who were at an adjacent public-house.
30 May. A discovery of Atlas Powder A, with fuse and detonators, in Trafalgar Square.
28 November. An attempted destruction of a house at Edenburn, near Tralee, occupied by Mr. Hussey. The injury, which was doubtless accomplished with dynamite, was less serious than was intended, and no one sustained bodily harm.
12 December. An explosion of a charge of dynamite or other nitro-compound under London Bridge, fortunately doing very little damage.
1885: 2 January. An explosion in the Gower Street tunnel of the Metropolitan Railway, caused by about two pounds of some nitro-compound fired apparently by a percussion fuse. Damage inconsiderable.
24 January. An explosion in the Tower of London, caused, beyond all reasonable doubt, by about five to eight pounds of Atlas Powder A (American make). Three or four persons were slightly injured, and considerable damage was done to the Armory.
24 January. An explosion of Atlas Powder A (American make), in Westminster Hall. Three persons were injured severely, and others slightly, and very considerable damage was done to the Hall and surroundings.
24 January. An explosion in the House of Commons (probably caused by a similar amount of the same explosive). No persons were injured, but very considerable damage was done to the Houses of Parliament.
February. A discovery of dynamite (of American make) in a house in Harrow Road, Paddington.
9 March. A discovery of Atlas Powder A in the roof of a saw-mill at Bootle.
As a result of these various conspiracies and political outrages, twenty-nine persons were convicted.
Some of the bombs used in the London explosions were very ingeniously made. Usually they had a clock-work arrangement which released a hammer and exploded the infernal machine at the time set. Others again had a time fuse depending upon the percolation of acid through parchment. In every case, however, the destruction wrought by the explosives was ridiculously disappointing to the conspirators, and in England as elsewhere the event proved that high explosives are a delusion and a snare from the revolutionist’s point of view. They are greatly more dangerous to the persons who employ them than to the people or the property against which they may be aimed.