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The New York Times, April 12, 1906

Committee Formed to Raise Funds for Russian Freedom
"I Come to You a Beggar That Russia May Be Free," Says Gorky at A Club Dinner.

The American auxiliary movement to aid the cause of freedom in Russia was launched last night at a dinner given at the Club A House, 3 Fifth Avenue, with Mark Twain and Maxim Gorky as the principal spokesmen.

"If we can build a Russian republic to give to the persecuted people of the Czar's domain the same measure of freedom that we enjoy, let us go ahead and do it," said Mark Twain. "We need not discuss the method by which that purpose is to be attained. Let us hope that fighting will be postponed or averted for a while, but if it must come -" Mr. Clemens's hiatus was significant.

"I am most emphatically in sympathy with the movement now on foot in Russia to make that country free," he went on. "I am certain that it will be successful, as it deserves to be. Anybody whose ancestors were in this country when we were trying to free ourselves from oppression must sympathize with those who now are trying to do the same thing in Russia.

"The parallel I have just drawn only goes to show that it makes no difference whether the oppression is bitter or not; men with red, warm blood in their veins will not endure it, but will seek to cast it off. If we keep our hearts in this matter Russia will be free."

The dinner was given by Ivan Narodny, the representative in this country of the Russian military revolutionists, in honor of Maxim Gorky. The list of guests included Dr. Nicholas Tchaykoffsk, Robert Collier, Kikolay Zavolsky Pieshkoff, the adopted son of Gorky; Nikolas Burenin, his friend and private secretary; Arthur Brisbane, David Graham Phillips, Robert Hunter, Ernest Poole, Dr. Walter Weyl, Leroy M. Scott, and Howard Bruebaker. W. D. Howells and Peter Finley Dunne had been invited but were unable to attend.

Mark Twain's speech followed the reading by Robert Hunter of a manifesto formally inaugurating the American movement to help make Russia free. This movement will involve the appointment of a large committee of men of National reputation to aid in the collection of funds throughout the United States for the purchase of arms for the Russian revolutionists.

Mr. Clemens, Mr. Collier, Mr. Howells, Mr. Dunne, Mr. Hunter, Mr. Phillips, Miss Jane Addams of Hull House, Chicago, and others have already accepted places on the committee, and it was said by Mr. Hunter that invitations have been sent to a great number of others who are expected to join the movement.

Funds for Russian Freedom

"The object of the committee," said Mr. Hunter, in his after-dinner speech, "is to collect funds to help the movement for Russian freedom. An appeal will be issued to the American public within a couple of days, and there is no doubt that there will be a generous response when we ask Americans to help the oppressed people of Russia to gain the same freedom that our fathers fought for, and which we have enjoyed these hundred years and more.

"In other words, we will ask the American people to aid the Russians in gaining freedom of the press, freedom of speech and of assembly, freedom of ballot, and of conscience. All these things we have in America, and to them we owe our well being, our happiness, our peace, and our prosperity."

Mr. Hunter said after the dinner that the friends of the Russian cause gathered at 3 Fifth Avenue had so far scrupulously refrained from discussing the means by which the purpose of the Russian revolutionists is to be accomplished. They prefer to leave that to the revolutionists themselves. Among the latter there is practical unanimity at this moment that Russia's freedom can be gained only by an armed uprising.

The money raised here, it was said, will in all probability be handed over to a general committee composed of delegates from all the various organizations now at work to make Russia free. This, however, has not been definitely determined, and the final disposition of the funds remains at present in a large measure optional with the committee on this side.

Mark Twain sat on the right of M. Narodny. Maxim Gorky sat on the right of Mr. Clemens. On the other side of the Russian writer sat his adopted son, who acted as interpreter during the animated conversation which was carried on between the American author and the writer who has depicted so vividly the tragic depths of the life of the lower classes in Russia.

Mr. Clemens, in beginning his speech, paid a warm tribute to Gorky, and this was returned by the Russian when his turn came to speak.

Gorky Praises Mark Twain.

"I am very glad to meet Mark Twain," he said. "I knew him through his writings almost before I knew any other writer. I was little more than a boy when I began to wait and hope for the meeting which has been realized tonight. It is a happy day - a day happy beyond all expectation to me.

"Mark Twain's fame is so well established all the world over that I could not add anything to it by any words of mine. He is a man of force. He has always impressed me as a blacksmith who stands at his anvil with the fire burning and strikes hard and hits the mark every time. He has done much to beat away the dross and bring out the true steel of character in his writings.

"I come to America expecting to find true and warm sympathizers among the American people for my suffering countrymen, who are fighting so hard and bearing so bravely their martyrdom for freedom. Now is the time for the revolution. Now is the time for the overthrow of Czardom. Now! Now! Now! But we need the sinews of war, the blood we will give ourselves. We need money, money, money. I come to you as a beggar that Russia may be free."

The remarks of the Russian writer were translated to the little company at the table by his adopted son, and were loudly applauded. Gorky did not appear in evening dress, but in the blue blouse, buttoned high up at the neck, which is familiar from the pictures of him which have appeared in print. Young Nikolay, in attire, was an exact replica of his father by adoption.

The Aldine Association will entertain Gorky next Wednesday at a luncheon at their rooms, 111 Fifth Avenue. The Socialists on the east side are planning a dinner for the Russian writer at some date yet to be fixed to suit his convenience. Another dinner is being planned at which he is to meet a number of literary men.

Gorky Feels at Home.

Looking out from his window high up in the Hotel Belleclaire Gorky saw the Hudson River yesterday afternoon and exclaimed:

"What, is this my native Nishni-Novgorod, and is this the Volga? Then I am at home, indeed."

A Russian friend, who was at his elbow at the time, said that Nishni-Novgorod and New York were words almost identical in their meaning. Gorky interrupted him and said:

"Oh, what does it matter after all? I feel at home, though the language of New York is not my own, and I do not understand a word of it. I never visited a place so kindling to my imagination. I had not been here one hour before I felt that this was the biggest city and the United States the greatest country on the face of the earth. This is the country of all countries to which the social revolutionists can look with hope. In this will be worked out the salvation of humanity."

Maxim Gorky was still the recipient yesterday of the devoted homage of his countrymen in New York and of the friends in this city of the cause of freedom for Russia. He received in the course of the day about 100 visitors, and he had hardly a breathing moment. But when the night came he was as happy as a boy who had found a new toy.

One of the first callers yesterday was Oscar S. Straus, formerly United States Minister to Turkey. Mr. Straus was a long time explaining that he wished to see Mr. Gorky, and a protracted comedy of errors was enacted on the ninth floor while Mr. Straus was kept waiting in the lobby of the hotel.

Mr. Straus said that he had merely paid a social visit, but that he probably would see Gorky again, and that he might have something to say then.

Among the callers on the Russian novelist were Abraham Cahan, editor of The Jewish Forward, and himself a writer of some distinction as well as a Russian by birth.

Revolutionists Call.

Two members of the Russian Bund in this city paid their respects to the Russian and conferred with him upon the plans now pending to make Russia free. One of these was Dr. Maxim Romm. The other was Moses Gulevitch. Mr. Gulevitch escaped from a Russian prison eighteen months ago. He is a member of the Central Committee of the Nihilist organization, and was sent to this country by his political friends to be out of harm's way for the present.

That, as a matter of fact, is the reason for so many of the Russian revolutionists seeking a refuge here for the next few months. The first call to arms will see the procession starting back again.

Gorky was asked yesterday whether he was a subject of the Czar.

"Subject? No," replied the Russian writer. "I am not. I am a citizen of underground Russia. We are all citizens there just as you are in this great free country, and there are several millions of us. Politically, I'm an outlaw."

The Russian novelist told the reporters again and again that this city had made an almost overwhelming impression upon him.

It is not quite as grand as the ocean, but almost," he said.

Marvels at The Times Building.

One of the skyscrapers of which Gorky got a close range view was the Time Building.

"Wonderful! wonderful!" he exclaimed, looking through his carriage window. "I mean to know how it is possible to erect such structures before I leave this country."

Gorky said that plans for his stay here had not been completed. Hs stay in New York will in all probability be more protracted than he at first had expected.

"There is so much to see, and I haven't seen anything as yet," he said, his wife acting as interpreter. "I have been a prisoner all day long in my apartments, but it wasn't unpleasant when compared with my prison experience in Russia. The first opportunity I get I shall take a drive through Central Park, of which I caught a glimpse on my way up from the steamer."

Gorky said that among English authors he admired Byron most, and among the French Gustav Flaubert and the elder Dumas. Among the Germans he registered his preference for Heine and Goethe among the poets, and Nietzsche and Schopenhauer among the philosophers.

Gorky was asked what he thought of Kipling as a writer.

"Kipling," he said, "is a man of bone and blood. He is a great poet and a greater novelist. But he should not lend his pen to the support of an ephemeral imperialism, even though the imperialism of Great Britain is humane and the word there means something different from what it means with us. Kipling should sing the songs of the people."

Regarding his own mode of writing, he said:

"I am not aiming at producing literature or art. I am striving to paint life as I find it and to tell the truth always."

"What have you read in American literature?" Gorky was asked.

"I have read Mark Twain. The reading proved an inspiration to me. It is part of the liberal education of Russia to read Mark Twain's works. They have all been translated and sold in hundreds of editions.

"And you would be surprised to know what the prestige of Edgar Allen Poe is among the Russian people. We love him better than his own country men do."

"I think that it is the women who prevent you from loving him as well as you should," broke in the writer's wife.

Mme Gorky, who was an actress, was asked whether she had acted in her husband's plays. She said she had, but that it was long ago.

"At present I am just my husband's wife, nothing else, and I don't wish to be before the public in any other capacity," she said.

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