Publication information
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Source: Liberal Review
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “Reform by Assassination”
Author(s): anonymous
Date of publication: September 1904
Volume number: 1
Issue number: 8
Pagination: 446-47

“Reform by Assassination.” Liberal Review Sept. 1904 v1n8: pp. 446-47.
full text
assassination; assassinations (comparison).
Named persons
Aristides the Just; Nikolai Bobrikov [variant spelling below]; John Wilkes Booth; Leon Czolgosz [misspelled below]; Balthasar Gérard [variant spelling of first name below]; Abraham Lincoln; Macbeth; William McKinley; Eugen Schauman [first and last name misspelled below]; William I.


Reform by Assassination

The assassin of the Governor-General of Finland, General Bobrikoff, was a man who loved his country more than he loved his own life, but he did not love her wisely. From a letter which was found upon Eugene Schaumann, the culprit, it is inferred that he decided upon this criminal means of calling the attention of the Czar and of the civilized world to the intolerable wrongs of his country. He says in this letter that he is a “most humble and truest subject” of his Majesty, the Czar, and that his desperate deed was inspired by the sufferings inflicted upon his people by their conquerors. Assassination has never, we believe, helped the cause of the oppressed. If it did, it would be practiced on so general a scale that no public servant would be safe even though he possessed all the virtues of Aristides, the Just. Furthermore, reform by assassination would become so popular that every political murderer on trial before a jury for his life would attempt to justify his crime by calling it an act of patriotism. Four hun- [446][447] dred years before Eugene Schaumann, the assassin of General Bobrikoff—before Czolgosh, the assassin of President McKinley, and Wilkes Booth, the assassin of one of America’s best loved men, President Lincoln,—Balthazar Gerard murdered William the Silent from precisely the same motives. Balthazar Gerard was a Catholic and he believed that by removing this Protestant prince he would restore peace and prosperity to the whole world. He devoted many years to planning his murder, wrote down all the details thereof, and finally succeeded in removing the man who, in his judgment was the curse of his country. But what did he gain? What did the Catholics gain? How absurd for an impulsive and inexperienced youth, like Czolgosh, or Booth, or Schaumann, to think that they hold in their own hands the salvation of humanity. Yet, if in Poland, Finland and the Baltic provinces,—if in Armenia and Macedonia, the people are often driven to fearful deeds, it is because a regime of oppression and wrong, shameless and cruel, has set their brains afire—has so maddened them that only some crazy act like that committed by Eugene Schaumann, can restore the equilibrium of their senses, or, to put it differently, wake them out of their feverish dream. Assassination is the shadow that hugs tyranny. Where there is oppression, there revolution, like a tigress, is steadying herself for her sudden spring. There is something in human nature which will unceasingly protest against wrong. Man is unconquerable. Tyrants can chain him,—hang him even, but they cannot enslave him for good. This is the intellectual might of man, which in time is sure to prevail against all his oppressors. We have all heard the story of the King who so loved his horse that he fed him on human flesh. But the flesh-eating horse one day turned upon his royal master and devoured him as though he had been a piece of ordinary flesh. If rulers, Sultans and Czars teach and practice oppression, some day they will themselves be the victims of their own doctrine. What was that which Macbeth learned from his bitter experience?

“This even-handed Justice
Commends the ingredients of our poisoned chalice
To our own lips.”



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