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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/417

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ELISEE RECLUS AND HIS OPINIONS.

tically Reclus never meddles with politics, he cares only for social questions—outside, of course, the range of his geographical work. He holds that the Revolution of 1789 destroyed the privileges of the nobles, but that humanity has not advanced at all, nevertheless, because the bourgeoisie has disadvantageously taken the place of the aristocracy and usurped their privileges; hence, that the people are rather more unfortunate than formerly, because they know now that they are so. He considers that the state of society in which there are only what he calls "les satisfaits" and "les misérables" is a most abominable state of things, and he and his friend ardently hope that their doctrines will prevail sooner or later and change the face of things entirely. From every point of view Reclus is a most sincere, good, and excellent man, who would not hurt a worm, but would not budge an inch from his opinions. He has two daughters, and, as he considers marriage a bondage, he has united them himself to the men they loved. They were married by him in his own fashion, without any religious or civil ceremony, in the presence of witnesses. They have children who bear the father's name, as they also bear it themselves, but it does not appear that any steps have been taken to legitimize these children according to the laws of the state. Rumor has it—but for the accuracy of this rumor we can not vouch—that Reclus has had to suffer for his departure from the recognized social forms, for it is said that recently one of these illegal husbands abandoned the wife thus given to him.

In order that his ideas may be spread among the masses, for whose instruction they are primarily intended, Reclus has written a little pamphlet, which is included in the publications of La Révolte, a weekly communist anarchical organ published in Paris. Among the contributors to this series we find Louise Michel and the German Most, whose pamphlet bears the uncompromising title The Plague of Religion. If Reclus, who is now no longer young, and who less and less likes to be disturbed in his life of retirement, is asked to explain his ideas on social subjects, he has of late invariably referred his interlocutors to this little booklet, saying that if any one would know exactly what he thinks about the present state of things, and what he hopes for in the future, they must read what he has written there, and also read the contribution to the same series of his friend Prince Kropotkine, for he entirely shares his views. Evolution and Revolution is the title of Reclus's pamphlet; Anarchic Morality, that of Prince Kropotkine. The price of these small pamphlets is ten centimes. They are bound in a glaring pink cover and printed on villainous and utterly abominable paper, making us feel that, if this be a specimen of the æsthetics of the future, we rejoice to think that that future will not be ours. The matter is in both cases, fortu-