Hartmann, the Anarchist; Or, The Doom of the Great City
The Project Gutenberg eBook, Hartmann, the Anarchist, by E. Douglas(Edward Douglas) Fawcett, Illustrated by Fred T. Jane
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Title: Hartmann, the Anarchist
Or, The Doom of the Great City
Author: E. Douglas (Edward Douglas) Fawcett
Release Date: June 14, 2018 [eBook #57323]
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SHELLING THE HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT. See page 147.
HARTMANN THE ANARCHIST;
THE DOOM OF THE GREAT CITY.
|II.||The ‘Shadow’ of Hartmann||18|
|III.||A Mother’s Troubles||36|
|IV.||Fugitives from the Law||46|
|V.||A Strange Awakening||57|
|VI.||On the Deck of the ‘Attila’||70|
|VII.||The Captain of the ‘Attila’||79|
|VIII.||A Strange Voyage||95|
|IX.||In at the Death||106|
|X.||The First Blow||125|
|XI.||A Tempest of Dynamite||137|
|XII.||How I Left the ‘Attila’||155|
|viiiXIII.||In the Streets of the Burning City||168|
|XIV.||A Nocturnal Ride||177|
|XV.||The Morrow of the Disasters||186|
|XVI.||The Last of the ‘Attila’||201|
All things considered, I rate October 10th, 1920,as the most momentous day of my life. Why itshould be so styled is not at once apparent. Mycareer has not been unromantic; during many yearsI have rambled over the globe, courting dangerwherever interest led me, and later on have splashedthrough shambles such as revolutions have seldombefore been red with. More than once I have trippednear the cave where Death lies in ambush. I amnow an old man, but my memory is green and vigorous.I can look back calmly on the varied spectacleof life and weigh each event impartially in thebalance. And thus looking, I refer my most fateful2experience to an hour during an afternoon conversationin my dull, dingy, severe-looking quarters inBayswater.
From romance to the commonplace is seldom along trudge. On this occasion a quite commonplaceletter determined my destiny. There was nothing ofany gravity in the letter itself. It was a mere invitationto meet some friends. Most people would starevacantly were I to show it to them. They wouldstare still more vacantly were I to say that it enabledme to write this terrible story. Bear in mind, however,that a lever, insignificant in itself, switches an expresstrain off one track on to another. In a like mannera very insignificant letter switched me off from thetracks of an ordinary work-a-day mortal into those ofthe companion and biographer of a Nero.
Some two years before the time of which I write Ihad returned to London, having completed a seriesof adventurous travels in Africa and South-WestAsia. My foregoing career is easily briefed. Leftan orphan of very tender years, I had grown upunder the ægis of a bachelor uncle, one of thosesingularly good-hearted men who rescue humanityfrom the cynics. He had always treated me as hisown son, had given me the advantages of a sterling3education, and had finally crowned his benevolenceby adopting me as his heir. An inveterate politician,he had early initiated me into the mysteries of hiscult, and it is probably to his guidance that I owedmuch of my later enthusiasm for reform. As ayoungster of twenty-three I could not, however, beexpected to abandon myself to blue-books andstatistics, and was indeed much more intent onamusement than anything else. Among my chiefpassions was that of travel, a pursuit which gratifiedboth the acquired interests of culture and the naturallust of adventure. Of the raptures of the rambler Iaccordingly drank my fill, forwarding, in dutifulfashion, long accounts of my tours to my indulgentrelative. Altogether I spent three or four yearsharvesting rich experience in this manner. I waspreparing for a journey through Syria when I receiveda telegram from my uncle’s doctor urging meimmediately to return. Being then at Alexandria Imade all haste to comply with it, only, however, todiscover the appeal too well grounded, and the goalof my journey a death-bed. I mourned for my uncle’sloss sincerely, and my natural regrets were sharpenedwhen his will was read. With the exception of afew insignificant bequests, he had transferred hisentire property to me.
4The period of mourning over, I was free to indulgemy whims to the utmost, and might well have beenregarded as full of schemes for a life of wild adventure.Delay, however, had created novel interests;some papers I had published had been warmly welcomedby critics; and a new world—the literary andpolitical—spread itself out seductively before me.Further, I had by this time seen “many cities andmen,” and the hydra-headed problem of civilizationbegan to appeal to me with commanding interest.The teachings also of my uncle had duly yieldedtheir harvest, and ere long I threw myself intopolitics with the same zeal which had carried methrough the African forests, and over the drearyburning sands of Araby. I became, first a radicalof my uncle’s school, then a labour advocate andsocialist, and lastly had aspired to the eminence ofparliamentary candidate for Stepney. A word onthe political situation.
Things had been looking very black in the closingyears of the last century, but the pessimists of thatepoch were the optimists of ours. London even inthe old days was a bloated, unwieldy city, an abodeof smoke and dreariness startled from time to timeby the angry murmurs of labour. In 1920 thisColossus of cities held nigh six million souls, and the5social problems of the past were intensified. Thecircle of competence was wider, but beyond itstretched a restless and dreaded democracy. Commercehad received a sharp check after the lateContinental wars, and the depression was severelyfelt. That bad times were coming was the settledconviction of the middle classes, and to this beliefwas due the Coalition Government that held swayduring the year in which my story opens. In manyquarters a severe reaction had set in against Liberalism,and a stronger executive and repressive lawswere urgently clamoured for. At the opposite extremeflew the red flag, and a social revolution waseagerly mooted.
I myself, though a socialist, was averse to barricades.“Not revolution, but evolution” was thewatchword of my section. Dumont has said that“the only period when one can undertake greatlegislative reforms is that in which the public passionsare calm and in which the Government enjoys thegreatest stability.” Of the importance of this truthI was firmly convinced. What was socialism? Thenationalization of land and capital, of the means ofproduction and distribution, in the interests of a vastindustrial army. And how were the details of thisvast change to be grappled with amid the throes of6revolution? How deliberate with streets slippery withblood, the vilest passions unchained, stores, factories,and workshops wrecked, and perhaps a starvingpopulace to conciliate? What man or conventioncould beat out a workable constitution in the turmoil?What guarantee had we against a reaction and amilitary saviour? By all means, I argued, have arevolution if a revolution is both a necessary and safeprelude of reform. But was it really necessary oreven safe?
Feeling ran high in this dispute. Many a time wasI attacked for my “lukewarmness” of conviction bysocialists, but never did I hear my objections fairlymet. Though on good terms with the advancedparty as a whole, I was opposed at Stepney by anextremist as well as by the sitting Conservativemember. My chances of election were poor, butvictorious or not I meant to battle vigorously forprinciple. To a certain extent my perseverance boregood fruit. During the last month I had beenhonoured with the representation of an importantbody