Prince Kropotkin's memoirs. No translator's name on title page. I wonder if he wrote them in English himself? Many awkward turns of phrase, and errors, such as 'griefs' for 'grievances'. The book is different from what I expected but quite as fine.
He really is very reticent about himself. For instance he doesn't relate his marriage, so far as I remember, though towards the end of the memoirs his wife figures frequently. He does give a new and dramatic impression of the persecuting attitude of all governments towards genuinely 'advanced' thought and propaganda, and of the injustice they will do to attain their ends. Even Switzerland. He was least persecuted in England. But he speaks of England as a living tomb one year that he was obliged to live in London about 1880, before Burns, Morris etc. No socialist society there. Hyndman was the sole advanced worker. Tremendous change since then. He seems to be very careful in his statements; yet he says that all governments maintain spies and agents provocateurs. A very simple and straightforward character. Discusses very simply everything that comes in his way. Extremely philosophical in his acceptance of the 'fortunes of war'. Never seeks to 'dress his window'. The picture of his childhood is the most picturesque, the most effective. But he never seeks an effect.
Evidently he and his friends were of a morality far higher than even the average highly moral. On the whole I should say his life was a happy one. He is naturally dead against prisons, as I suppose all intellectually honest people must be. He lays stress on the cruelty to a prisoner's dependants caused by imprisoning. I had not so clearly pictured this before. At first I was surprised, but not on reflection, by his statement that French prisons are more humane than English, and less degrading also to the dignity.
I have decided very seriously to take up fiction for a livelihood.