Letter to Pavel Axelrod, October 18, 1900

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October 18, 1900

Dear P. B.,

I received your long and kind letter of Oct. 15 yesterday. Many thanks for it. We were very glad to learn that you are better, and that you can get on with your work. Your article for the paper is being copied already! You are outstripping us: we are still unable to get organised to have someone copy out all the things that have to be sent off. Zagorskaya[1] has still not arrived, while the stuff to be copied keeps piling up. Sometimes I feel quite exhausted and out of touch with my real work.

I did not quite understand your hint about the impending “trouble” with the Parisians.[2] Of course it would be terribly difficult for you to write about everything; but perhaps you will pass on the substance of it to Vera Ivanovna, who, we hope, will soon be coming here?

We still have no responsible editor.... The statement has been prepared and sent to Russia (I will soon send you a copy), and before long it will be possible to begin setting up the paper. We intend to publish a long report, “May Day Demonstrations in Kharkov ” (about 50,000 letters and spaces), as a separate pamphlet,[3] and to print only a very brief extract in the newspaper; after all, we cannot take up three-quarters of a sheet with a single article! (The newspaper will have 3 columns a page, approximately 6,000 letters each, or, to be more precise, “letters and spaces”.) (We intend the first issue to have 2 sheets, 8 pages.) What do you think?

Thanks for the advice on correspondents’ reports. We shall certainly try to make use of it, because that would, of course, only improve the make-up of the paper.[4]

I quite agree with your view of my brother’s journey. What can one do with him? We are constantly receiving warnings from every side—both from Paris (that people arriving from Russia mention us all three by name), and from Russia (that I was traced on my way here,[5] and that in one provincial town they arrested a perfectly innocent man, a distant relative, who had never seen me in his life, and asked him what instructions I had given him!)—and I am doing my utmost to persuade my brother either not to go, or to go for a fortnight all told; I keep arguing with him, ridiculing him, abusing him (I have never abused him so violently)—but nothing seems to have any effect: he keeps saying he wants to go home! And now he has brought matters to the point of the statement being sent to Russia, which means (if the statement arrives, and that is certain) a direct indication of the new literary undertaking. After all, there’s not much longer to wait before Alexei arrives, surely? My “opponent” is about to arrive, and I will give him this to read—let him “refute” it, if he can do so without a twinge of conscience!

We are both quite well, but very edgy: the main thing is this agonising uncertainty[6]; these German rascals keep putting us off daily with “tomorrows”. What I could do to them!

Yes, I quite forgot (please be so kind as to forgive the hasty tone of this letter!)—we have already had negotiations with Buchholtz but he refused, refused flatly. He is pressing upon us a Vermittlerrolle,[7] and won’t budge!

My very best wishes, and greetings to all your family.



Zagorskaya has just arrived. I will be seeing her tomorrow.

  1. Zagorskaya (I. G. Smidovich-Lehmann) was the secretary of Iskra’s editorial office until the arrival of N. K. Krupskaya in April 1901.
  2. The Parisians (D. B. Ryazanov, Y. M. Steklov, E. L. Gurevich)— representatives of the Borba literary group abroad. Lenin called them “Parisians” because they then lived in that city.
    In his letter to Axelrod Lenin apparently refers to the difficulties in the talks with them concerning their work on Iskra on a permanent basis, in view of their claims for a say in editorial policy (see pp. 67–68, 69–70).
  3. The pamphlet was compiled by the Kharkov Committee of the RSDLP and published in January 1901 by Iskra. It described the first mass demonstration by Kharkov workers on May Day in 1900. It appeared abroad with a preface by Lenin (see present edition, Vol. 4, pp. 357–65).
  4. Axelrod’s advice in his letter to Lenin of October 15, 1900, dealt with the editing of letters from Russia for Iskra. His idea was to make use of some letters together with other material for domestic reviews or editorials (see Lenin Miscellany III, p. 66).
  5. The police were very eager to know the whereabouts of Lenin, and, in general, of the whole group which subsequently constituted Iskra’s Editorial Board. Obzor zhandarmskikh doznany za 1901 god (Review of Gendarme Investigations for 1901) stated that Lenin was living in Munich and working for Iskra. The police also knew that A. N. Potresov was in Munich. In the circumstances, Potresov’s trip to Russia mentioned in the letter was a hazardous undertaking.
  6. A reference to a delay in the printing of Iskra and Zarya.
  7. The role of intermediary.—Ed.