score), but that he, living fifty years ago, had not the same views as to the good of humanity as those held to-day by a professor who has, from his youth up, been engaged in study, i.e. in reading books, listening to lectures, and making notes of those books and those lectures in a note-book.

But even if we assume that Alexander I., fifty years ago, was mistaken in his view of what was for the good of peoples, we can hardly help assuming that the historian, criticising Alexander, will, after a certain lapse of time, prove to be also incorrect in his view of what is for the good of humanity. It is the more natural and inevitable to assume this because, watching the development of history, we see that with every year, with every new writer, the view of what is for the good of humanity is somewhat shifted; so that what did seem good, after ten years, is regarded as harmful, and vice versa. That is not all. We even find in history the views of contemporaries as to what was good, and what was harmful, utterly opposed to one another. Some regard the giving of a constitution to Poland, and the Holy Alliance, as highly to the credit of Alexander; while others regard the same actions as a slur on his name.

It is impossible to say of the careers of Alexander and of Napoleon that they were beneficial or harmful, seeing that we cannot say wherein the benefit or harm of humanity lies. If any one dislikes the career of either, he only dislikes it from its incompatibility with his own limited conception of what is the good of humanity. Even though I regard as good the preservation of my father’s house in Moscow in 1812, or the glory of the Russian army, or the flourishing of the Petersburg or some other university, or the independence of Poland, or the supremacy of Russia, or the balance of European power, or a special branch of European enlightenment—progress—yet I am bound to admit that the activity of any historical personage had, apart from such ends, other ends more general and beyond my grasp.

But let us suppose that so-called science has the power of conciliating all contradictions, and has an invariable standard of good and bad by which to try historical personages and events.

Let us suppose that Alexander could have acted quite differently. Let us assume that, in accordance with the prescription of those who censure him, and who profess a knowledge of the final end of the movement of humanity, he could have followed that programme of nationalism, of freedom, of equality, and of progress (there seems to be no other) which his modern critics would have selected for him. Let us suppose that programme could have been possible, and had actually been formulated at that time, and that Alexander could have acted in accordance with it. What, then, would have become of the activity of all the persons who were opposing the tendency of the government of that day—of the activity which, in the opinion of the historians, was good and beneficial? There would have been none of that activity; there would have been no life; there would have been nothing.

Once admit that human life can be guided by reason, and all possibility of life is annihilated.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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