Swedish Episode

  • E. H. Carr


The false name under which Bakunin had arrived in Sweden served more; effectively to enhance his importance than to mask his identity. He had come at a propitious moment. The Swedes were too mindful of the dangers of proximity to regard the Russian question with the same indifference as the phlegmatic and self-satisfied English. The Polish insurrection had made an enormous impression, and quickly became an issue in Swedish domestic politics. The cautious conservative government of the day was keenly alive to the importance of maintaining correct, if not cordial, relations with its powerful neighbour. The enthusiastic radicals, on the other hand, openly applauded the Polish insurgents and looked hopefully for the downfall of the Tsar, the traditional enemy of Sweden and of liberty. Bakunin’s fame as the martyr of Russian despotism and the hero of a miraculous escape from Russian bondage made him an important asset to the Swedish radical party; and one of its leaders, Blanche, who was distinguished from most of his colleagues by being able to speak some French, took the new-comer under his wing. It was, no doubt, disconcerting when Bakunin asked to be introduced to the Swedish revolutionary committee, and was told that no such body existed, since nobody in Sweden wanted revolution. But these mild discrepancies did not diminish the mutual enthusiasm inspired by the alliance. In London Bakunin had felt himself completely ignored. In Stockholm he was a personage.1


Polite Toleration Russian Minister Swedish Radical Propitious Moment Powerful Neighbour 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1975

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  • E. H. Carr

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