Interview with Lenin
T h is chapter will be devoted to my intercourse with Vladimir Ulianov Lenin. One morning in June, 1902-I lived then in Clarence Gardens, Regent’s Park-a foreign gentleman, as my landlady announced to me, called with a letter from Karl Kautsky, the foremost Marxist author in Berlin. Kautsky asked me to assist the bearer of the letter, the Russian comrade Lenin, in procuring a printing office for the Iskra (Spark), the weekly paper of the Russian Social Democracy. The paper had until lately been published in Munich, but as the Constitutional Democrats (Cadets) started printing there the Osvoboshdenie, the Socialists decided to get the Iskra printed in London. I paid no special attention to Lenin, who outside Russia was still an unknown figure, and after a few words of greeting went with him to my friend Harry Quelch, the editor of Justice, and manager of the Twentieth Century Press in Clerkenwell Green, and we arranged for the printing of the Iskra. Lenin took lodgings in Holford Square, King’s Cross,
where, at his request, I used to call two or three times a week. There was then nothing striking in his appearance. He was a fairly well nourished, middle-aged man of medium height with a round head, fair complexion, friendly grey eyes, and firm mouth. His wife looked younger, a lithe figure and slightly taller than he. She rarely spoke, as I do not understand Russian, and she evidently did not venture to speak German, the language in which Lenin and myself used to discuss socialist and political matters. Once, in the spring of 1903, 1 met there her mother, who had come from Petersburg, a lively, elderly lady, the only one in the family who smoked cigarettes. She invited me to come to Petersburg, where “we shall soon enjoy greater freedom than in any capital of Europe.” She spoke French and German equally well.