THE Committee of the “Working Man,” on Tuesday, the 7th of January, having been informed that Michael Bakunin had arrived in London, a deputation was appointed to go and present to this martyr of human progress an address of welcome.
On Friday, the 10th, accordingly the deputation waited upon Alexander Herzen, the celebrated Russian exile and “publiciste,” who introduced them to Bakunin, surrounded by a goodly staff of Russians, Poles, &c, all friends of progress, united by the brotherly love for one common mother—Liberty.
The following address was then read:—
The Committee of the “Working Man” to the illustrious Michael Bakunin.
Whilst the oppressors of the human race are busy in forging instruments of destruction and are exciting men to the hatred of each other, we, working men of England, have become conscious at last that the cause of human freedom and happiness is identical under every sky, and that it is only by the union of all the friends to that sacred cause that its success can be insured. Whilst, therefore, our tyrants excite our deluded brethren to “War, Competition, and Hatred, we want to raise a cry for peace, Association, and Fraternal Love.
In the same way, as when the eagle soars high above the clouds, his piercing eyes embrace an immense range where to choose his prey. We have raised ourselves to the high sphere of philosophy, we have been enabled to survey the whole of our common abode—the earth, and we have counted our friends—the friends of liberty, of labour, of justice.
“We have seen them all heroically contending against our enemies—ignorance, superstition, despotism, competition, exploitation of labour, slavery—and our hearts have been elated with proud joy. Amongst those whom we distinguished from the crowd, you, Bakunin, stood among the highest, by your courage, your undaunted energy, and your sufferings. “We saw you handed from one tyrant to the other, as if each succeeding one was afraid to keep such a prey too long in his hands; at last, we heard you had been sent to the deadly mines of Siberia—a torture that even Dante could not invent for his Hell. We bad gone into mourning for a brother lost, for one of our guiding stars dropped from our heaven of hope, when lo!—can we believe the report?— #e heard that you had baffled all their cunning, broken through all their meshes, that you were free! No, it cannot be; for who can come back from Siberia? We might as well hope to see Prometheus break his chains, and fling them at his torturing vulture.
But no, it is true! Bakunin is free! he has landed in America—he is in London.
Prometheus can break his chains. Vultures, your fate is now doomed! Ply, and leave us free to love one another, and to labour for all.
Bakunin, welcome in the land of freedom. We have forgotten the lessons of our oppressors, who tried to teach us to look upon men as foreigners, as enemies, because they were born on another land, or because they spoke another language, or because their skin was not exactly the same colour as yours. We have felt the warmth of their hearts, and the loving grasp of their hands, and we have called them brothers.
Brother Bakunin, welcome to England.
Brother Herzen, you have lived already a long time among us; you know our customs, you will guide him and comfort him, and when he will have rested himself from his fatigues, we will, as our forefathers used to do, form a circle around him, and he will tell us the wonderful tale of his struggles, and then you both will help us in our search after truth. The land where you were born, is we think, unknown to us. The customs and struggles of your countrymen we want to be acquainted with; for in the examination of the great problem of labour, which we have undertaken, we want all the light that men like you can give us.
Bakunin, Herzen, we tender you the right hand of fellowship. ,
On behalf of the Committee,
A. C. Cuddon, Chairman.
W. P. Wallace.
G. E. Harris, Secretary.
Bakunin then answered as follows:—
Friends,—I am deeply moved by this manifestation of your sympathy, which I did not hope to have deserved. I ascribe it to the democratical instinct which enables you to recognize a friend, even in a man of a foreign race, because a friend devoted to our common cause. And, indeed, as long as I recollect, I have been passionately devoted to the cause of social and economical emancipation of mankind; I have not succeeded in doing much. Imprisonment and exile have taken from me twelve years of my life and activity. But all that remains in me of life and strength will be devoted to our great cause. The time is come when the Russian people, who have slept so long, are awakening, and will not go to sleep again. “We Russians know how much depends upon this struggle for the emancipation of labour, but we know also that its strength is not destructive, but productive. We are persuaded that the Russian element will bring a new idea into the great social question, and that it will, in its turn, stand in the rank of all nations which tend towards the fullest emancipation of mankind, and offer a brotherly hand to those working for our common cause.
The hearty congratulations then became general.
Michael Bakunin, Alexander Herzen, and several other gentlemen, then entered into explanations as to the economical and political organization of Russia, which, when we reproduce them in our columns (as they have promised to contribute articles upon those subjects) will rather startle our readers.
The Working Man. II, 22 (February, 1862) 29-31.