Imágenes de páginas

or evennes but cantyyn fellow countrymen and brettiren. Although passion has stamens on binds of affection for hardly they innat not be broken they wish with. I am they wise not be broken mystic chords when proceeding from any be so many battle. pilds and patun 20 many portuot graves bond pop things ase the hearts and heating all

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


hearths in this broad contment of

[ocr errors]

wile yet. baum again hamorize in ванн their account muse when touches on ty sandy breathed when appan by the bottom aut quandian ange of the nation


You can have no conflier, without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath
registered in Heaven to destroy the government, while shall have the most solemn one
zo "preserve, protect and defend” it.


F I am loth to close. We are not enemies, hat friends- We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affections The mystic chords of memorige, streching from every fiela, and patrol grave, to every living heart and hearth. stow, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chosus of the Union, when again touches, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our naturo.


A cheer greeted the conclusion. Chief-Justice Taney arose, the clerk opened his Bible, and Mr. Lincoln, laying his hand upon it, with deliberation pronounced the oath:

"I, Abraham Lincoln, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Then, while the battery on the brow of the hill thundered its salute, citizen Buchanan and President Lincoln returned to their carriage, and the military procession escorted them from the Capitol to the Executive Mansion, on the threshold of which Mr. Buchanan warmly shook the hand of his successor, with heartfelt good wishes for his personal happiness and the national peace and prosperity.


I purpose to set forth, in this and subsequent papers, what seems to me one of the most important and efficient of the causes which led the Russian revolutionists to adopt in 1878 the unfortunate, mistaken, and criminal policy of "terror"; namely, the treatment of political offenders in the Russian prisons. Whatever view may be taken of the phases through which the Russian revolutionary movement has passed since 1870, there can, I think, be no question that its last phase-organized assassination-is largely the result of what the revolutionists regard as the cruel and inhuman treatment of "politicals" in the fortress of Petropavlovsk, the castle of Schlusselburg, and the prisons of Moscow, Kiev, and Odessa. Before proceeding, therefore, to consider such crimes as the assassination of Alexander II., or to pass judgment upon such characters as those which came into prominence with the adoption of the terroristic policy, it is absolutely necessary to have a clear conception of the life of the Russian revolutionists in prison.

VERY American reader ders it impossible to judge a man of that race by who takes an intelligent the same rules of conduct which govern other interest in the affairs of races, there must be something more than Russia, but who is com- ordinarily bad government behind the abnorpelled to depend for his mal phenomena of contemporary Russian life. information upon the meager and unsatisfactory accounts of Russian events which are telegraphed to this country, must have asked himself many times the question, "What is the specific nature of the wrongs which call forth, especially among the youth of Russia, such manifestations of fierce passionate hatred for the Tsar, and which inspire such persistent and desperate attempts to take his life?" In vain we seek, in the reports which come to us, for causes that seem adequate to explain the white-heat intensity of feeling which must lie back of such extraordinary social phenomena. We are told that Russia is badly governed; that the press is gagged; that the right of public assembly is denied; and that every free impulse is rigorously repressed by a corrupt and despotic bureaucracy. But these evils, even if fully admitted, do not furnish a perfectly satisfactory explanation of the fact that scores-perhaps hundreds of young men and women in Russia are willing and ready to die a violent and shameful death on the scaffold if they can only kill, before they die, the man who sits on the throne. At the meeting of "terrorist " leaders held in the town of Lipetsk in June, 1879, when the assassination of Alexander II. was decided upon, forty-seven young men and women offered themselves as volunteers to carry the decision of the council into execution.* Bad government, in any sense which we ordinarily attach to the words, is not adequate to explain a fact so extraordinary and so abnormal as this. Men do not, as a rule, fight press censorship with murder, nor seek to enforce by assassination their demand for civil rights. A feeling of terrible personal outrage must be added to the sense of oppression before the average human being can be wrought up to a state of mind in which he will give his own life for an opportunity to kill another. Unless, therefore, there is something peculiarly ferocious and fanatical in the character of the "terrorist" assassins,-unless there is in the Russian blood a strain of homicidal insanity which ren


*Official Stenographic Report of the Trial of the Regicides in St. Petersburg, in 1881; Statement of Zheliaboff, p. 32.

VOL. XXXV.-41.

The material upon which these articles are based has been derived mainly from three sources: First, the personal examination of a large number of Russian prisons; second, the statements of three or four hundred men and women who have been shut up in those prisons for terms ranging from six months to seven years and at various times from 1874 to 1885; and, third, the statements of Russian officials who are now, or have been at some time, connected with the prison administration. To the collection and the verification of the facts herein set forth I have devoted many laborious days and nights, at the mines and in the penal settlements of Siberia, as well as in the cities of European Russia, and I have every reason to feel confident that my statements are worthy of trust.

There was some discussion in the English periodicals two or three years ago, between Prince Krapotkine and Mr. C. M. Wilson on one side, and the Rev. Henry Lansdell and an anonymous correspondent of the " Pall Mall Gazette" on the other, with regard to the conditions of life and the treatment of politicals in the fortress of Petropavlovsk. I was denied permission to visit that prison, and am not able, therefore, to describe it from personal in

[ocr errors]

spection; but my opportunities for obtaining information with regard to the conditions of life therein have been of an exceptional character. I made the acquaintance in Siberia of perhaps fifty exiles who had been shut up in the fortress, and whose overlapping terms of imprisonment covered the whole period between the years 1874 and 1884. These exiles were scattered all over Siberia; many of them had never seen one another, and there was no possibility of a preconcerted agreement among them as to the story which they should tell me. Most of them, moreover, were men of high intelligence and character, and as incapable, I believe, of wilful misrepresentation as any American gentleman of my acquaintance. They described to me, with the utmost possible minuteness, every detail of their prison experience; and I find, in looking over my note-books, that I have in some cases six or eight separate and independent accounts of the same event or state of facts, obtained from six or eight exiles who did not know one another, and who were living in penal settlements, hundreds sometimes thousands of miles apart. The statements of exiles, judicially considered, must, of course, be regarded as ex-parte evidence; but it is manifest, I think, that even ex-parte testimony, if concurrent, and if taken under the circumstances above described, is entitled to credence, unless it can be shown that there has been an opportunity for collusion. As far as it has been possible to do so, I have checked and verified the statements of these exiles by conversations with lawyers, judges, and prison officials. I cannot, for obvious reasons, give the names of the latter, but they are persons who had opportunities to know the facts. If the Government's side of the subjects discussed and the events described in these papers is not as fully set forth as would seem to be desirable, it is partly because I reserve the Government's case against the revolutionists for fuller and more careful treatment in a subsequent paper, and partly because General Orzhefski, the Russian Chief of Gendarmes, did not appear disposed, when I called upon him last summer, either to furnish me with facts, or to give me facilities for making a personal examination. For permission to visit the great St. Petersburg prisons known as "The House of Preliminary Detention" and "The Litofski Zamok," I am indebted to Mr. Galkine-Vrasskoi, Chief of the Prison and Exile Department. He had, however, no control over the fortress of Petropavlovsk or the castle of Schlus

The superintendent of The House of Preliminary Detention in St. Petersburg, one of the largest and most important prisons in the empire, receives only $900 a year, exclusive of table and quarters. His senior assistant receives only $400. In the St. Petersburg

selburg, and General Orzhefski, who might have allowed me to see those prisons, declined courteously but firmly to do so.

In order to understand much that I shall have to say, the reader must divest himself entirely of the idea that Russian prisons are managed upon any definite, well-ordered system, or that there is any consistent adherence to a predetermined policy in the treatment of prisoners. It would be hard, I think, to find in the civilized world another penal system in which personal whim and caprice play so important a part, and in which considerations of temporary convenience or expediency so often override law as they do in the Russian system. There are in the empire 884 prisons. They are all nominally under the same management, and are subject to the same laws and regulations, and yet it would be difficult to find a score that are governed exactly in the same way or precisely upon the same principles. It would be almost equally difficult to find a single prison which has been governed in the same way for three consecutive years. Privileges which are granted in one prison are denied in another; in one place severity is the rule, in another it is the exception; some prisoners are overfed, others are half starved; in one place a violation of the rules leads to nothing worse than a reprimand, while in another the same fault is punished with twenty lashes on the bare back. Everywhere there is irregularity, disorder, caprice, and more or less complete lack of method.

The reasons for this state of things are many, but among the most important of them are: First, the impracticability and self-contradictory character of much of the penal legislation; second, the distribution of responsibility for prison management among a large number of persons and administrative bureaus not properly subordinated to one another; third, the disposition of many Russian officials to decide and act, not in accordance with law, but in accordance with their own views of expediency, or in obedience to what they believe to be the wishes of their superior officers; and, fourth, the low grade of intelligence, executive ability, and morality which characterizes prison officials generally, and which is due to the fact that better men cannot be obtained for the compensation paid.*

I have a manuscript copy of a secret report made to the Tsar in 1881 by Governor-General Anutchin, in which that high officer, speaking of the "lamentable condition" of the

[blocks in formation]

prisons and the regulation of imprisonment and exile, says: "Although the laws have laid down innumerable rules for the regulation of the subject, such laws have become for the most part dead letters from the very day of their enactment, on account of their impracticability and the lack of proper supervision."* I have also in my possession a copy of an official circular letter dated August 25th, 1885, from the governor of a Russian province to "Prison Committees, Municipal Police Administrations, Circuit Police Administrations, and Bureaus of Prison Control," in which the governor calls attention to the existence in the provincial prisons of " innumerable violations of law of all possible sorts, practiced so openly as to make it seem almost incredible that the persons who permit them are really conscious of the illegality of their acts." In the long list of abuses which the governor then enumerates are corrupt agreements between prison officials and contractors to substitute an inferior quality of food and clothing for that which the law requires, and to divide the proceeds of the fraud; unchecked drunkenness, gambling, and disorder among the prisoners; the drawing of rations and clothing for criminals who have died, escaped, or been released, and the sale of such articles by the prison officials for their own benefit; the practice of setting convicts at liberty in order that they may engage in private employment upon condition that they shall divide their earnings with the prison official who releases them; the failure of prison authorities to keep a record of punishments, and the flogging of prisoners by the overseers of prisons without the knowledge or sanction of the Ispravniks, or Chiefs of Police, in whose districts the prisons are situated.

It appears from a simple inspection of this letter, and without any further investigation, that there are no less than seven different persons and groups of persons who have something to say about the management of provincial prisons; namely, first, the prison officials themselves; second, the Prison Committees; third, the Municipal Police Administrations; fourth, the Circuit Police Administrations; fifth, the Bureaus of Prison Control; sixth, the Ispravniks; and, seventh, the Governor. To this list, however, must be added: eighth, the Procureur; ninth, the town council of the town in which the prison is situated; tenth, the Governor-General; eleventh, the Central Prison Administration in St. Petersburg; and, twelfth, the Minister of the Interior. It further appears, from the official statement above referred to, that notwithstanding all this regulative ma*Secret Report to the Tsar by Governor-General Anutchin, Chap. V., Section 3, entitled "Exile, Penal Servitude, and the Prison Department."

chinery,-in spite of this apparent superfluity of" control," there are in the provincial prisons "innumerable violations of law, practiced so openly as to make it seem almost incredible that the persons who permit them are really conscious of the illegality of their acts."

In the prisons devoted exclusively to political offenders, there is, of course, less disorder and dishonesty than in the lower-grade prisons of the provinces; but even in the former, circumstances and official caprice play a much more important part than law does. Law, in fact, is rarely permitted to stand in the way of what a high official regards as the paramount interests of the State. If a Procureur like Strelnikoff, or a Chief of Gendarmes like Mezzentseff, believes that by subjecting a political prisoner to a certain kind of treatment he can extort from such prisoner a confession which will lead to the arrest of his companions in crime, or furnish a clew to undiscovered conspiracy, he does not hesitate to overstep the limits of his legal authority. To attain such an end he will even resort to methods which are in the highest degree base and dishonorable-methods which are as exasperating to the prisoners as they are discreditable to the Government which permits them.

The treatment of political prisoners is largely dependent also upon the temper of the official mind at various times and under various circumstances. After every fresh attempt at violence on the part of the conspirators who are still at liberty, there is increased severity in the treatment of their comrades in prison. At one time the officials, irritated by the success of a conspiracy which they have failed to discover, avenge their incompetency upon the conspirators who are in their power; while at another time, placated by apparent submission, or gratified by what seems to be the reëstablishment of social order, they modify the extreme rigor of their prison discipline. The natural result of this usurpation of the functions of law by official caprice or license is the complete overthrow of all systematic and consistent prison government. The treatment of prisoners becomes not what the law intended it to be, but what the Procureur or the Chief of Gendarmes thinks that it ought to be, in view of circumstances or events with which the prisoners themselves have perhaps nothing whatever to do.

Before proceeding to describe the daily life of the Russian revolutionists in prison, I desire to call attention to three classes of facts which are closely related to prison life, and which have an important bearing upon the state of mind and temper produced by it. The classes of facts to which I refer, and to which I shall devote the remainder of this article, are: First,

the custom of making indiscriminate arrests as a means of inspiring terror and with the hope of obtaining clews to secret revolutionary activity; second, the use of imprisonment as a species of torture to extort confession or compel the prisoner to betray friends; and, third, the illegal detention of political "suspects" in solitary confinement for months and years while the police scour the empire in search of criminating evidence upon which to base indictments. All of these methods have been practiced in Russia upon the most extensive scale, and perhaps nothing has done more to fan the smoldering fire of discontent into the fierce flame of terroristic activity.

In using the word "indiscriminate" to characterize political arrests, I do not mean, of course, to be understood as saying that the Russian police go through a city as a Malay runs amuck, laying hands upon everybody who happens to come in their way. Political arrests, no matter how sweeping and extensive they may be, are always confined to one class of the population- a class officially known in Russia as neblagonadezhni. This word has no equivalent in English, and the idea which it represents is so foreign to all our modes of thought that it can be expressed only by a circumlocution. Blago in Russian means "good"; nadezhda means "hope"; blagonadezhnost means the condition from which something good or gratifying is to be hoped or expected; ne-blago-nadezhnost is the negative form of the complex word, and as officially used may be approximately translated "a condition of political untrustworthiness." The term neblagonadezhni is applied by the Government to all persons whose political opinions are officially regarded as unsound, and whose behavior is therefore a proper subject for police supervision. Statistics of this "untrust worthy" class are, of course, not procurable; but in 1880, when the Liberal ministry of Loris Melikoff was in power, the number of persons who were under open police surveillance was officially stated as 2837, distributed throughout the provinces of the empire as follows: in St. Petersburg, 273; in Moscow, 101; in Kaluga, 315; in Riazan, 255; in Tver, 198; in Kostroma, 165; in Archangel, 96; and in other provinces, 1434. *The persons, however, who are under open police surveillance form a comparatively small part of the great neblagonadezhni or "untrustworthy" class. They are mostly persons who have been forcibly removed from their homes to other parts of the empire, in order to break up their local associations, and who are subjected at regular in*Regulations for the Preservation of Social Or. der": Aksakoff's newspaper, "Russ," No. 46; Sep

tember 26th, 1881.

tervals to domiciliary visits. Thousands of others who have not been thus removed are under secret surveillance, and the names of thousands more are registered in the books of the gendarmes and the detective police. Whenever an act of violence is committed or attempted by the extreme revolutionary party, the police make a sudden descent upon the whole "untrustworthy " class in the town or province where the disorder has occurred, and drag to prison by scores both the innocent and the guilty, to be afterwards sorted at their leisure. When General Strelnikoff was intrusted by the Tsar with almost dictatorial power in order that he might extirpate sedition in the provinces of southern Russia, he arrested and threw into prison in the single city of Odessa no less than 118 persons in three days. He then went to Kiev and arrested 89 persons almost simultaneously, and ordered the imprisonment of hundreds of others in Kharkoff, Nikolaief, Pultava, Kursk, and other South Russian cities. Most of these arrests were made entirely without what is known as "probable cause," and for the sole purpose of obtaining clews to plots which the police believed to exist, but which they had not been able to discover. Many of the persons arrested were mere children - immature school boys and girls from fifteen to seventeen years of age-who could not possibly be regarded as dangerous conspirators, but who might, it was thought, be terrified into a confession of all they knew with regard to the movements, conversations, and occupations of their older relatives and friends.

General Strelnikoff's plan was to arrest simultaneously a large number of persons belonging to the " untrustworthy" class; throw them into prison; keep them for ten days or two weeks in the strictest solitary confinement, and then subject them to a terrifying inquisitorial examination with the hope of extorting scraps of information, here a little and there a little, which might be pieced together, like the parts of a dissected map, so as to reveal the outlines of a revolutionary plot. If, for example, a young girl belonged to an "untrustworthy" family, and a "suspicious" letter to her had been intercepted by the authorities; or if she had been seen coming out of a "suspicious" house at a late hour in the evening, she was arrested in one of these police raids, generally at night; conveyed in a close carriage to the Odessa prison; put into a small solitary-confinement cell and left to her own agonizing thoughts. No explanation was given her of this summary proceeding, and if she appealed to the sentinel on duty in the corridor, the only reply she obtained was "Prikazano ne gavarit"-"Talking is forbidden."

« AnteriorContinuar »