Publication information
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Source: Spectator
Source type: newspaper
Document type: letter to the editor
Document title: “How to Deal with Anarchists”
Author(s): Maxwell, Herbert
City of publication: London, England
Date of publication: 21 September 1901
Volume number: none
Issue number: 3821
Pagination: 389

Maxwell, Herbert. “How to Deal with Anarchists.” Spectator 21 Sept. 1901 n3821: p. 389.
full text
anarchism (dealing with).
Named persons
Thomas Carlyle; Leon Czolgosz; Herbert Maxwell.
Click here to view the September 14 item this letter responds to.


How to Deal with Anarchists



SIR,—Was there not something omitted from the above title to your article in the Spectator of September 14th? Surely there ought to have been the negative particle before the verb, or at least a note of interrogation at the end, in order to make it square with the conclusion of your argument. It was a disappointment after reading through such an able paper to come upon such a decided non possumus in the last paragraph. I may be over-sanguine, but it seems to me not impracticable to chop what you explain to be one of the main roots of this class of crime,—namely, abnormal vanity. “Why,” asked Carlyle in the days when we executed our murderers in public, “why do men crowd towards the improved drop at Newgate, eager to catch a sight? The man about to be hanged is in a distinguished situation.” The Pole Czolgosz at this moment is in a far more distinguished situation. His name is foremost in every public print in the world, familiar to children who have never heard of the greatest lawgivers, conquerors, reformers. Ample reward, this, for certain morbid natures. Why should they not be balked of it? Why not adopt the hint thrown out in irony by this wretch when he announced himself as Niemann,—Nobody? Why was he not allowed to remain Niemann? In sober earnest, it seems that the most effective deterrent from political assassination would be oblivion. Let the assassin taken red-handed not be permitted to issue any declaration to the public; let him be tried in secret, punished, if condemned, in secret, only let the sentence be made known. Remains the world-wide, well-founded horror of clandestine Courts, lettres-de-cachet, &c. But civilisation is in a dilemma. As long as the craving for distinction is manifested more strongly in certain characters than desire for life or love of liberty, so long will there be men against whom every precaution is in vain. Disappoint them of distinction, then; at least try the effect of that penalty before the question—Can nothing be done? is answered finally by—Nothing.—I am, Sir, &c.,




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