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I could, if necessary,— and without going outside the limits of official documents in my possession,-fill many pages of THE CENTURY with the names of young men and women who were severally subjected to from one to four years of solitary confinement, and who were finally acquitted by a court, or discharged with out trial, because the police, notwithstanding their unlimited power to arrest, imprison, and examine, had not been able to find so much evidence against them as would legally have justified their detention over night. I shall describe in another place the nature of the solitary confinement to which these innocent persons were subjected. I desire at present merely to call attention to the duration of their imprisonment, and to the fact that they were finally pronounced innocent by the Government itself. The above statements are made, it will be observed, not upon the ex-parte testimony of the sufferers, but upon the unimpeachable authority of official documents.
The question naturally arises, "What was the reason for the long delay in bringing these thousand or more prisoners to trial?" The reply of the Government is that the accused were engaged in a revolutionary conspiracy which had very extensive ramifications in all parts of the empire; that they were linked together in such a way as to render it practically impossible to try them separately, and that the prosecuting officers of the Crown could not do justice to the Government's case until all the proofs against all the prisoners had been collected, compared, and digested.* The persons accused in the case, however, deny the truth of these statements, severally and collectively. They say that they were not, as a body, engaged in a revolutionary conspiracy; that their actions at that time were not criminal; that more than three-fourths of them were unknown to one another, and had never had any relations with one another; that their cases, therefore, were easily separable, and that, as a matter of fact, the Government did separate into eighteen distinct groups the 193 who were finally tried.
Without expressing any opinion as to the merits of the prisoners' contention, it seems to me, and will doubtless seem to most unprejudiced persons, that the reply of the Government, regarded as a defense, is insufficient, even if it be true. The preface to the indictment in this case says: "By the autumn of 1874 most of the propagandists had been imprisoned, although a few succeeded in eluding arrest and continued their criminal activity until the beginning of 1875." The trial did
* Sentence of the 193, certified copy, p. 15. Indictment in the trial of the 193, p. 8. Sentence in the same trial, p. 1.
not begin until the 18th of October, 1877,‡ so that "most of the propagandists," including ninety persons admitted by the Court to be innocent, were held in solitary confinement without trial from the autumn of 1874 to October 18th, 1877, a period of three years. A large number of the accused were imprisoned in the gloomy casemates of the Petropavlovski fortress, and, according to the indictment, forty of them were there when the trial began. § To say, as the Government does, that it held ninety innocent persons in prison for three years, and more than eight hundred other innocent persons for shorter periods of one or two years, because it could not try them separately and was unable in a shorter time to review the evidence against the whole thousand, does not seem to be a sufficient answer to a charge of injustice. and cruelty based on more than eight hundred wrecked lives and eighty cases of death, suicide, and insanity in prison.
The case of the " propagandists was of course an exceptional one. I do not know any other instance in which so many prisoners were held so long without trial, and in which the number of persons accused was so overwhelmingly out of proportion to the number actually found to be guilty. Judicial procedure in Russia, however, is always and everywhere slow, and the long interval of solitary confinement between arrest and trial causes great suffering to the prisoners, and creates a feeling of intense exasperation in the hearts of those who are finally declared to be innocent. As one of the 193 who was acquitted by the Court said to me bitterly, "They punish us first with three years of solitary confinement, and then try us to see whether we ought to have been punished."
The course of procedure in the case of a person accused of a political offense is, under average and normal conditions, about as follows: He is arrested without the least warning, generally at night, and thrown into prison. After a week or two of solitary confinement, he is subjected to a preliminary examination before an officer of gendarmes. In order that he may not prepare himself for this examination, he is not, as a rule, informed of the nature of the charge made against him. The theory of the gendarmes is that if the prisoner knows specifically of what he is accused, he can form at least a conjecture as to the direction and scope of the impending inquiry, and can prepare himself to baffle it. If, however, he is ignorant of the charge upon which he is held,— if he does not even know whether he is undergoing examination as a principal or as a witness, he is not so quick to see the drift of quesAppendix to the Indictment in the trial of the 193, pp. 1-3.
tions; he is not so likely to be ready with a prepared story, and he is more apt to be surprised into incautious admissions. The gendarmes justify this course by saying that "if the prisoner is innocent, it cannot injure him; and if he is guilty, he is not entitled to any information which would make it easier for him to mislead the investigators and defeat the ends of justice. The object of the inquiry is, for the present at least, none of his business. All that he has to do is to answer questions truthfully." Of course, a prisoner who is thus kept in the dark defends himself and his friends at a terrible disadvantage. If he answers the questions put to him, he does so without knowledge of their purpose or bearing; and if he refuses to answer, he prolongs his prison confinement, perhaps unnecessarily, and gives the gendarmes an excuse for putting into operation against him some of the methods of extorting testimony which I have described. Most prisoners take a middle course by answering some questions and refusing to an swer others. The examination ends when the gendarme officer is satisfied that he cannot elicit anything more. The prisoner is then remanded to his cell, and another week elapses, in the course of which the gendarmes take the testimony of his acquaintances and friends, of the police, who perhaps have had him under secret surveillance for weeks, and of all other persons who know anything about him. This mass of testimony is then submitted to the Procureur, with a report and such comments as the examining officer may think necessary. The Procureur makes a careful study of all the evidence, compares the testimony of the accused with the statements of the witnesses in the light of the comments and suggestions of the gendarmes, and frames a new series of questions to be put to the prisoner at the "dopros," a more formal examination intended to complete the case for submission to the Ministry of Justice.
Up to this time, it will be observed, the accused has not been informed of the nature of the charge made against him; he does not know certainly whether he is held as a criminal or as a witness; he has heard none of the testimony upon which the questions in the "dopros" are to be based; he is without counsel, and he is ignorant of all that has happened in the outside world since his arrest. It would be hard to imagine a more completely defenseless situation.
The Procureur begins the "dopros" by informing the prisoner that he is accused of the crimes set forth and described in such and such sections of the Penal Code. Most political prosecutions are based upon sections 245, 249, and 250, which are as follows:
"SECTION 245. All persons found guilty of composing and circulating written or printed documents, books, or representations, calculated to create disrespect for the Supreme Authority, or for the personal character of the GOSSUDAR [the Tsar], or for the Government of his Empire, shall be condemned, as insulters of MAJESTY, to deprivation of all civil rights and to from ten to twelve years of penal servitude. [This punishment carries with it exile in Siberia for what remains of life after the expiration of the hard labor sentence.] "SECTION 249. All persons who shall engage in rebellion against the Supreme Authority, that is, who shall take part in collective and conspirative insurrection against the GOSSUDAR and the Empire; and also all persons who shall plan the overthrow of the Government in the Empire as a whole, or in any part thereof; or who shall intend to change the existing form of government, or the order of succession to the throne established by law; all persons who for the attainment of these ends shall organize or take part in a conspiracy, either actively and with knowledge of its object, or by participation in a conspirative meeting, or by storing or distributing weapons, or by other preparations for insurrection; all such persons, including not only those most guilty, but their associates, instigators, prompters, helpers, and concealers, shall be deprived of all civil rights, and be put to death. Those who have knowledge of such evil intentions and of preparations to carry them into execution, and who, having power to inform the Government thereof, do not fulfill that duty, shall be subjected to the same punishment.
"SECTION 250. If the guilty persons have not manifested an intention to resort to violence, but have organized a society or association, intended to attain, at a more or less remote time in the future, the objects set forth in section 249, or have joined such an association, they shall be sentenced, according to the degree of their criminality, either to from four to six years of penal servitude with deprivation of all civil rights [including exile to Siberia for life]. or to colonization in Siberia [without penal servitude], or to imprisonment in a fortress from one year and four months to four years."*
These sections, it will be observed, are tolerably comprehensive. They not only include all attempts to overthrow the government vi et armis, they not only cover all action “calculated to create disrespect for MAJESTY"; but they provide for the punishment of the mere intention to bring about a change of administration at a remote time in the future by means of peaceable discussion and the edu cation of the people. Even this is not all. A man may be perfectly loyal; he may never have given expression to a single thought calculated to create disrespect for the Gossudar or the Gossudar's government, and yet, if he comes accidentally to know that his sister, or his brother, or his friend belongs to a society which contemplates a" change in the existing form of government," and if he does not go voluntarily to the Chief of Gendarmes and betray that brother, sister, or friend, the law is adequate to send him to Siberia for life.
When the prisoner, at the beginning of the "dopros," is informed that he is accused of "the crimes set forth and described in sections
245, 249, and 250 of the Penal Code," he is almost as much in the dark as ever with regard to the nature of his offense. He may be an "insulter of MAJESTY"; he may be held for ar intention" to change the existing form of government". . . . "at some more or less remote time in the future"; or he may have rendered himself liable to penal servitude by his neglect to inform the Chief of Gendarmes that he thinks his sister belongs to a secret society. He can console himself, however, with the reflection that when he is finally sentenced, the nature of the punishment to which he is condemned will indicate approximately the offense for which he has been tried.
The "dopros" resembles in all respects the preliminary examination except that it is conducted by the Procureur in person, is based upon a much greater mass of data, and is consequently more severe and searching. At its conclusion the prisoner is required to sign his testimony, and is then remanded to his cell. The Procureur makes out, at his leisure, a statement of the case, showing what he thinks he can prove against the accused, and sends it with all the papers to the Ministry of Justice. After this time the prisoner, if he has not been obstinate and refractory, is granted certain privileges. He can have interviews with his relatives in the presence of an officer twice a week; he can write and receive open letters, and he is allowed books. Even these privileges, however, have their drawbacks. The relatives who come to see him may be arrested at the prison and exiled to Siberia by "administrative process ";* half the contents of his letters may be "blacked out" or erased by the police through whose hands they pass; and the only books given him may be the Bible and the Penal Code. ‡
The papers in the prisoner's case reach the Ministry of Justice in from one to three months. They may lie there awaiting examination three months, or even six months, more. When they are finally reached and the Minister proceeds to act upon them, he may do any one of four things: First, if the evidence submitted does not seem to him sufficient to justify even the detention of the accused, he may
A young revolutionist by the name of Maidanski was hanged in Odessa in 1880. His mother, an aged peasant woman, when she heard that her son had been condemned to death, came to the prison to bid him good-bye. She was not allowed, however, to see him, but was herself arrested and exiled by "administrative process" to the province of Krasnoyarsk in eastern Siberia.
+ I have such a letter now in my possession. It consisted originally of four closely written pages of commercial note paper. The police erased all except the following words:
"MEZEN, December 8th, 1880. "MY DEAR IVAN IVANOVITCH: I send you eight
order his release, as he did in the cases of nearly eight hundred of the "propagandists." Second, if the evidence, although insufficient, seems to indicate that a case can be made out, he may return the papers to the Procureur with instructions to continue the investigation. This results in a further delay of at least six months. Third, if the evidence is not sufficient to secure conviction in a court, if it probably cannot be supplemented, and if the Minister is nevertheless satisfied that the accused is a disloyal person, whom it would be dangerous to release, he may order his exile to Siberia by "administrative process" for a period not greater than five years. Fourth, if the evidence against the accused collected by the Procureur is probably adequate to secure conviction in a court, the prisoner is held for trial.
From the Ministry of Justice the papers go to the Ministry of the Interior, where they again await their turn for examination. The Minister of the Interior may approve the decision of the Minister of Justice, or he may disapprove it. In the former case the papers go to the Tsar for final action, and in the latter case they are "hung up" for further consideration, or sent back to the Procureur for amendment.
The result of this course of procedure, every step of which is marked by delay due to the overcrowded condition of the various departmental and ministerial files, is to prolong almost indefinitely the period of uncertainty which intervenes between the prisoner's arrest and his final release, trial, or exile. Most of the politicals whose cases I investigated spent from one year to two and a half years in prison before they were sent to Siberia. In exceptional instances the terms of imprisonment were much longer. Solomon Chudnofski, who is now in exile in Tomsk, awaited final action in his case from January 27th, 1874, to July 18th, 1878, a period of four years and six months. During nearly the whole of this time he was in solitary confinement, and for twenty months he was in one of the casemates of the Petropavlovski fortress.
Such delay is exasperating to the relatives and friends even of prisoners who are known to be guilty; it is maddening to persons who roubles. It is all I can do at present. . . . [four pages crossed out]. . . . I kiss you warmly. [Signed] "ALEXE."
The Bible and the Penal Code were the only literature given, during the first part of his imprisonment, to a young exile from St. Petersburg whom I met in Siberia. The intention, doubtless, was to incite to virtue on the one hand and to warn against crime on the ether. To most political prisoners, however, such a selection of books would have suggested an instructiveor, as the officials would probably say, seditious and incendiary comparison between the laws of Russia and the laws of Christ, and would thus have defeated the object which the police had in view.
received was " Etta nasha diella "
believe that their sons, daughters, sisters, or
In 1886 there died in St. Petersburg a young girl not yet twenty years of age named Fedoteva, a student in one of the high schools for women in that city. She had been arrested nearly a year before upon some political charge and had been held in solitary confinement in the House of Preliminary Detention until her health had given way, and had then been removed, dangerously ill, to the hospital, where she died in the delirium of brain fever. Upon being apprised of the young girl's death, Mrs. Fedoteva went to the Chief of Police and asked at what time her daughter would be buried, as she desired to attend the funeral. She was told that the funeral would take place from the hospital at a stated hour on the following day.
The authorities do not allow the friends of a dead political prisoner to take charge of the body nor to conduct the funeral if there is any reason to apprehend what is known in the official world as a demonstratsia or public manifestation of sympathy. In this case it was feared that the school associates of the dead girl would follow her body to the grave in a procession, and that the more excitable of them would perhaps attempt to make speeches, or create in some way a scene which would call public attention to the fact that a young girl accused of a political offense had died in prison untried. If a public funeral were permitted, and if a demonstratsia should be attempted by the dead girl's friends, the police would be obliged to interfere, and such interference would not only "excite the public mind," but would necessarily result in the arrest of more young people. Furthermore, interference with a funeral would be disagreeable - it would look too much like striking the dead. Clearly, therefore, this was a case in which the maintenance of public order and tranquillity and the protection of hot-headed young people from the consequences of their possible rashness required, and would justify, the ut
Acting upon this reasoning, the Chief of Police directed that the young girl be buried quietly at night, without the knowledge of her relatives and friends; and she was so buried. When, at the appointed hour on the following day, Mrs. Fedoteva came to the hospital to pay the last and only possible tribute of love to the lifeless body of her dead child by following it to the grave, she was informed that the funeral had already taken place. When she went to the Chief of Police and asked where her daughter had been buried, the only reply she
This mournful story was first told to me by the managing editor of a well-known St. Petersburg newspaper, who, of course, did not dare to print it. I heard it afterwards from others, and was finally able to verify it completely and circumstantially by conversation with an official in the hospital where the young girl died.
In order to make clear the bearing of such a fact as this on the so-called policy of "terror," I will ask the reader of these pages the question which was put to me: "Imagine that your only daughter, a school-girl, still in her teens, had been arrested upon a vague charge of disloyalty; that she had been thrown into prison and kept there a year in solitary confinement without a trial; that she had died at last of brain fever brought on by grief, anxiety, apprehension, and solitude; that you had not been permitted to stand by her death-bed; that you had been deceived as to the time of her funeral; and that finally, when you went humbly and respectfully to the Chief of Police and asked where your murdered child had been buried, that you might at least wet the fresh earth of her grave with your tears, you had received the contemptuous answer, 'That is our business,' what would you have done?"
The fierce impulse to avenge such wrongs as these is morally unjustifiable; it is unchristian; it is, if you please, criminal; but, after all, it is human. A man is not necessarily a ferocious, blood-thirsty fanatic if, under such provocation, and in the absence of all means of redress, he strikes back with such weapons as lie nearest his hand. It is not my purpose, in setting forth this and other similar facts, to justify the policy of the "terrorists" nor to approve even by implication the resort to murder as a means of tempering despotism; but it is my purpose to explain, so far as I can, certain morbid social phenomena; and in making such explanation, circumstances seem to lay upon me the duty of saying to the world for the Russian revolutionists all that they might fairly say for themselves, if the lips of the dead had not already moldered into dust, and if the voices of the living were not stifled by prison walls. The Russian Government has its own press, and its own representatives abroad; it can explain, if it chooses, its methods and measures; and it can defend itself against charges which are without foundation. The Russian revolutionists, buried alive in remote Siberian solitudes, can only tell their story to an occasional traveler from a freer country, and ask him to lay it before the world for judgment.
THE GRAYSONS: A STORY OF ILLINOIS.*
BY EDWARD EGGLESTON,
Author of "The Circuit Rider," "The Hoosier Schoolmaster," "Roxy," etc.
EORGE LOCKWOOD, being only mildly malicious, felt something akin to compensation at having procured for Tom so severe a loss. But he was before all things a man secretive and calculating: the first thing he did with any circumstance was to take it into his intellectual back-room, where he spent most of his time, and demand what advantage it could give to George Lockwood. When he had let all the boys out of the store at a quarter past twelve, he locked and barred the door. Then he put away the boxes and all other traces of the company, and carried his tallow candle into his rag-carpeted bedroom, which opened from the rear of the store and shared the complicated and characteristic odors of the shop with a dank smell of its own; this last came from a habit Lockwood had when he sprinkled the floor of the store, preparatory to sweeping it, of extending the watering process to the ragcarpet of the bedroom. His mind gave only a passing thought of mild exultation, mingled with an equally mild regret, to poor Tom Grayson's misfortune. He was already inquiring how he might, without his own hand appearing in the matter, use the occurrence for his own benefit. Tom had had presence of mind enough left to beg the whole party in the store to say nothing about the affair; but notwithstanding the obligation which the set felt to protect one another from the old fogies of their families, George Lockwood thought the matter would probably get out. He was not the kind of man to make any bones about letting it out, if he could thereby gain any advantage. The one feeling in his tepid nature that had ever attained sufficient intensity to keep him awake at night was his passion for Rachel Albaugh; and his passion was quite outside of any interest he might have in. Rachel's reversionary certainty of the one-half of John Albaugh's lands. This, too, he had calculated, but as a subordinate consideration.
He reflected that Rachel might come to town next Saturday, which was the general trading-day of the country people. If she should come, she would be sure to buy something of him. But how could he tell her of Tom's unlucky gambling? To do so directly would be in opposition to all the habits of his prudent nature. Nor could he bethink him of a ruse that might excuse an indirect allusion to it; and he went to sleep at length without finding a solution of his question.
But chance favored him, for with the Saturday came rain, and Rachel regretfully gave over a proposed visit to the village. But as some of the things wanted were quite indispensable, Ike Albaugh was sent to Moscow, and he came into Wooden & Snyder's store about 4 o'clock in the afternoon. George Lockwood greeted him cordially, and weighed out at his request three pounds of tenpenny nails to finish the new corn-crib, a half-pound of cut tobacco to replenish the senior Albaugh's pipe from time to time, a dollar's worth of sugar, and a quarter of a pound of Epsom salts, these last two for general use. He also measured off five yards of blue cotton drilling, six feet of halfinch rope for a halter, and two yards of inchwide ribbon to match a sample sent by Rachel. Then he filled one of the Albaugh jugs with molasses and another with whisky, which last was indispensable in the hay harvest. These articles were charged to John Albaugh's account; he was credited at the same time with the ten pounds of fresh butter that Isaac had brought. George Lockwood also wrapped up a paper of "candy kisses," as they were called, which he charged Ike to give to Rachel from him, but which he forgot to enter to his own account on the day-book.
"By the way, Ike," he said, "did you know that Dave Sovine got back last week?"
"Yes," said Ike; "I hear the Sovine folks made a terrible hullabaloo over the returned prodigal,-killed the fatted calf, and all that."
"A tough prodigal he is!" said Lockwood, with a gentle smile of indifference. "You'd better look out for him."
"Me? Why?" asked Ike. "He never had any grudge ag'inst me, as I know of."
"No," said Lockwood, laughing," not that. But he 's cleaned all the money out of all the
* Copyright, 1887, by Edward Eggleston. All rights reserved.