William Morris

Funeral Oration for Sergius Stepniak

MR WILLIAM MORRIS said he was one of the speakers, at all events, who was there to represent the feelings of the English Socialists on the death of their lost comrade. His message was, first, simply to express their deep sorrow and regret at the loss they had sustained in Stepniak's death, and their appreciation of his noble qualities. Next he wished to express the feelings of love and brotherhood entertained by all their party for the great Russian people—the people, he said. When he saw such and such things said about Russian policy, whether they would go to India or hither or thither, he thought what a farce it was, when all those people were now living under what one must call that day abominable oppression— there was no other word for it. There was not a single person there who did not thoroughly sympathize with the end and aim that Stepniak had before him.


Funeral Oration for Sergius Stepniak


The Times, 30 December 1895


Stepniak died in a railway accident; his funeral was attended by leading members of all the main socialist and anarchist currents of Britain at that time. Other speakers included Edward Bernstein, Malatesta, Kropotkin, Herbert Burrows, Eleanor Marx, Keir Hardie, and John Burns. The Times commented that It was a significant and striking spectacle, this assemblage of Socialists, Nihilists, Anarchists, and outlaws of every European country, gathered together in the heart of London to pay respect to the memory of their dead leader. For a full hour they stood in the drizzling rain, as speaker after speaker mounted the parapet and delivered his funeral oration with an earnestness which there could be no mistaking.. The Times report may be the most complete record of Morris's words at the event.