“There’s Siberia with just the very finest and choicest material on the globe for a republic, and more coming — more coming all the time, don’t you see! It is being daily, weekly, monthly recruited by the most perfectly devised system that has ever been invented, perhaps. By this system the whole of the hundred millions of Russia are being constantly and patiently sifted, sifted, sifted, by myriads of trained experts, spies appointed by the Emperor personally; and whenever they catch a man, woman or child that has got any brains or education or character, they ship that person straight to Siberia. It is admirable, it is wonderful. It is so searching and so effective that it keeps the general level of Russian intellect and education down to that of the Czar” – from Mark Twain’s The American Claimant
Insightful commentary from Mr. Clemmons, especially welcome as I’ve been lately thinking about the products of gatherings coerced by power (imprisonment, compulsory education, conscription, concentration camps, involuntary commitment), incited by a cause (mobs, riots, audiences, classes), and organically formed (crowds, lines, migrations).
This quote comes from an exhaustively researched page of Mark Twain’s public denunciations of Czarist Russia. It gives glimpse of how Russia appeared in the public consciousness at the time (late 1800s-early 1900s) and some good background on Twain’s political leanings. (Spoiler: He liked freedom, hated indiscriminate corpse-making.)