Bourtzeff, V. [Burtsev]
London, privately printed by the author, 1897. 8vo (18.2 x 12.3 cm). 40 pp. Contemporary strip of paper to spine.
Anarchist paper (title meaning: the will of the people) inciting the assassination of Czar Nicolas II. The author, Vladimir Bourtzeff (later often spelled Burtsev), who had fled Russia after being exiled in Siberia, was subsequently arrested by London police and sentenced to 18 months of hard labour. Bourtzeff was the first Russian revolutionary to be imprisoned in Britain (Henderson). Part of the text reads: 'As regards our ultimate tasks we are Socialists, and in this respect we adhere frankly to those traditions which have elaborated by a series of generations of Russian Revolutionists ... We may say in the words of the late Stepniak- "We are revolutionists not only to the extent of a direct rising of the people, but to the extent of military conspiracies, to the extent of nocturnal invasions of the Palace, to the extent of bombs and dynamite." ... On the question what is to be done, Alexander III. reigned happily for fourteen years and this is already the third year that Nicholas II. has reigned not less happily, and that at a time when reaction ought, it would seem, to have given rise to the strongest resistance on the part of the revolutionists, and to have caused their plan of campaign to be summoned up in one point, regicide, and if it appeared necessary a whole series of regicides and a systematic political terrorism. We shall devote all our strength and faculties to the revolutionary struggle. We shall make the service of the revolutionary cause the first and principal occupations of our lives. ... We have addressed ourselves to all Revolutionists whom our organ may reach with the earnest and friendly advice to give a new direction to their activity, and we are anxious above all that our views may be heard by our companions in Russia, and that the revolutionary organizations may adopt the conscious and firm "resolution" to enter upon the path which was trodden by our standard bearers-Jeliaboff, Perovsky, Halturin, &c. The fearful mistake which the Terrorist party made was that after their victory of the 1st March, they for a moment, stopped systematic terrorism, for a moment put their sword in its sheath. If they had prepared everything beforehand and had stricken down Alexander III. on the day of the funeral of Alexander II. one of two things would have happened in Russia; either a revolution would have broken out, or a liberal constitution would have been declared.' Bourtzeff went on trial on February 7th, 1898. Meanwhile, the remaining stock of this pamphlet was seized and probably destroyed by the British authorities. Written above the drop head title in an old hand: "la démocratie". A very good, clean copy. Very rare. R. Henderson (2017), Vladimir Burtsev and the struggle for a free Russia. A revolutionary in the time of Tsarism and Bolshevism.