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Some of the Men who make History.


Some of the Men who make History. RUSSIA OF TO-DAY. i A MONGST the men who have helped to jtJL place Russia where she is to-day, can certainly be reckoned Maxim Gorky, whose arrest and imprisonment is arousing indignant protest on every hand for, as Suder- mann aptly said some few years ago, this great writer belongs "not to Russia only, but to the woijd." Literary societies, art clubs, press asso- ciations, universities, dramatists, actors, artists, lawyers, politicians, and private people all over the world are combining to draw up petitions to the Russian Government, demanding not merely that his life shall be saved but that he and his companions should be liberated without delay. Maxim Gorky, as everybody knows, is Russia's most fashionable novelist; he is, nevertheless, essentially a man of the people, and his books MAXIM GORKY. M. DE WITTE. being so powerfully-written have not merely "caught on" to the popular fancy but have gained for themselves and their author a per- manent position in the life and literature of his country. When the history of the last ten years in the Empire of the Czar comes to be written, the name and fame of Maxim Gorky must neces- sarily be written therein too, for what Moritz Jokai was to Hungary in 1848, and the years that preceded and followed, that also is Gorky to the Russia of to-day. His art is that of the delineator of humanity-- the humanity that he sees around him in real everyday life. His best tales contain nothing either of stage effect or picturesque posing. Coming from the labouring class himself, he has been able to fascinate and hold the attention of the cultured classes purely and simply through the vigorous directness of his style and the graphic truth of the realism of his books. He is honest, yet, artistic, in. liis methods and his powers of analysis, where character and motive are concerned, are unsurpassed. He has taught Russians to be interested in themselves and in each other; he has taught them not only to feel but also to think and to reason and, best of all, he has taught the upper- class Russians to know and to sympathize with the woes and joys of the lower classes. Sergius de Witte, who is also one of the most notable men in Russia at present, is the antithesis of Maxim Gorky from every point of view. He belongs to one of the oldest and noblest families in that country. His maternal grandfather, who was Governor of Saratof during the reign of the Emperor Nicholas I, married a Princess Dolgorouki. His father, who was one of the hereditary nobles of the Province of Pekot, was Governor of the State Domains in the Caucasus, and it was there that Sergius de Witte first saw the light in 1849. He is a noble of the nobles; nevertheless he began his career, humbly enough, in the service of the Odessa Railway, from which he worked himself up by degrees to be Financial Managing Director of Railways. Finally his activity, his zeal, and his probity (a quality rare amongst high-placed Russian officials) won for him the position of head of the Ministry of Railways, and from this he was speedily transferred to the Ministry of Finance, holding this post honourably in spite of the machinations of the Immortal Seven" to force him into a resignation, until recalled by the Emperor when he realized that a crisis was at hand. He possesses a gift that is invaluable to all those who are placed in a position of authority, more particularly in a country like Russia, viz., the gift of a firm tenacious will that stops at nothing which he considers for the good of his fellow country- men, that sways beneficially all those under his regime, and gives him strength to pursue the line of policy with which he has imbued his imperial Master. Like Maxim Gorky, he has helped to make history as much by his pen as by his personality. He has been on the staff of various newspapers such as the Gazette de Moscou," La Parole de Kiif," Russie," and others, besides publish- ing voluminous articles on questions of financial and economic interest, and being the joint author of various clever technical treatises on Political Economy. His famous note addressed to the Powers of Europe on the "Trust" system proves too that he is not merely a theorist, but a prac- tical man, well primed with the necessary know-, ledge for his work, with broad enlightened ideas, a spirit of initiative, and the grandeur of conception worthy of a great mind, so that though he and Maxim Gorky seem to be in opposition, they are really both working for the same end. The foregoing has been taken from this month's issue of the Traveller's Magazine.