The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Hertzen, Alexander
HERTZEN, or Herzen, Alexander, a Russian author, born in Moscow, March 25, 1812, died in Paris, Jan. 21, 1870. He studied at the university of Moscow, where he and some of his associates were arrested in 1834 on account of their socialistic tendencies. He was detained in prison nearly a year, and for several years afterward he was exiled to Siberia. In 1839 he received a full pardon and a clerkship in the ministry of the interior, which he soon lost by his strictures on the government; but in view of his high connections and attainments he was treated considerately, and received the title of councillor of state with orders to reside at Novgorod. In 1842 he asked to be released from all connection with the government, and in the same year came forward as a writer under the nom de plume of Iskander. In 1845-'6 he published an elaborate work showing his sympathy with the younger Hegelian school of philosophy, and in 1847 appeared his first novel descriptive of Russian life. His father's death having put him in possession of a moderate fortune, he was enabled to leave Russia in 1847. After conferring with revolutionists in Italy, France, and Switzerland, he organized a systematic propaganda against Russian absolutism by establishing a publishing house in London for printing and circulating Russian translations of the writings of Louis Blanc, Mazzini, and kindred authors. In 1856 he founded in London the Kolokol (“The Bell”), a journal which attained a large clandestine circulation in Russia, and through which he paved the way for the emancipation of the serfs, for the abolition of corporal punishment in the army, for judiciary reforms, and for diminishing corruption among Russian officials. In 1865 he removed to Geneva, where he published the Kolokol in French (La Cloche), but could not sustain it. He spent the latter part of his life in Paris. The loftiness of his purpose and his integrity, as well as his commanding influence on Russian progress, were respected even by his adversaries; and his claims to literary distinction rest upon a variety of writings, comprising novels and books of travel, published in Russian, German, and French, these languages having been equally familiar to him. His principal works are: Erinnerungen aus meinem Leben (3 vols., 1854; English translation, 2 vols., London, 1855); Russland's sociale Zustände (1854); Memoiren der Fürstin Daschkow (2 vols., 1857); “The Polar Star” (in Russian, 7 vols., London, 1857-'67; 8th vol., Geneva, 1868); Mémoires de l'impératrice Catherine, écrits par elle-même (London, 1859); “For Five Years, 1855-'60” (in Russian, London, 1860); Biloe i Dumi (3 vols., London, 1861; 4th vol., Geneva, 1867); and “Posthumous Writings” (in Russian, Geneva, 1870).—His confiscated Russian estates were restored in 1874 to his only surviving brother, in virtue of an amnesty granted on occasion of the marriage of the grand duchess Maria with the duke of Edinburgh.