Monday, December 5, 2016

"What, police, even here in free Finland?"

On Sunday last I went by train to a place called Terioky in Finland, where a meeting was to be held by the Labour Party of the Duma. [...]
After a journey of an hour and a quarter we arrived at Terrioky. The crowd leapt from the train and immediately unfurled red flags and sang the "Marseillaise." The crowd occupied the second line, and a policeman observed that, as another train was coming in and would occupy that line, it would be advisable if they were to move on. "What, police, even here in free Finland?" somebody cried. "The police are elected here by the people," was the pacifying reply, and the crowd moved on, formed into a procession six abreast, and started marching to the gardens where the meeting was to be held, singing the "Marseillaise" and other songs all the way. The dust was so abundant that, after marching with the procession for some time, I took a cab and told the driver to take me to the meeting. We drove off at a brisk speed past innumerable wooden houses, villas, shops (where Finnish knives and English tobacco are sold) into a wood. After we had driven for twenty minutes I asked the driver if we still had far to go. He turned round and, smiling, said in pidgin-Russian (he was a Finn), " Me not know where you want go." Then we turned back, and, after a long search and much questioning of passers-by, found the garden,into which one was admitted by ticket. (Here, again, anyone could get in.) In a large grassy and green garden, shady with many trees, a kind of wooden semicircular proscenium had been erected, and in one part of it was a low and exiguous platform not more spacious than a table. On the proscenium the red flags were hung. In front of the table there were a few benches, but the greater part of the public stood and formed a large crowd. The inhabitants of the villas were here in large numbers; there were not many workmen, but a number of students and various other members of the " Intelligentsia"; young men with undisciplined hair and young ladies in large art nouveau hats and Reform-kleider. M. Zhilkin, the leader of the Labour Party in the Duma, took the chair.