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To meet with a failure is one thing, and to commit one is another. Now even you are liable to the former. It was vexation, it was grief to me when I found the little card of the little lady. I was ready to strike my forehead, but I feared from its vacuity it might make a loud report in the square, and I should be bundled off to Dr. Foxe's. And so your sister permitted the noblest of the animal creation (his serene Highness) to travel without her! For shame!
I saw him the very day of my arrival in Bath. He recognized me, but was rather ashamed of acknowledging me. He stood with one foot upon the carriage-wheel remonstrating against delay. I put my face to his, and my hand on his hard loins, hard as if he had been mesmerized. I wanted to whisper a few words in his ear, but he thought it too great a liberty, and shook me off; just as if he had been one fresh from court-as he probably was. O that I were acquainted with the Satirist or John Bull! He should be down for it. And pray what have you been doing, that you sh inflict on yourself the voluntary penance of reading my poems? Before you get them (which will not be until we meet at Millard's Hill), I must admonish you that the amatory
are all ideal. Some have fancied that Ianthe (stolen by Byron) is only Jane, with the Greek (th) put in. What noodles are commentators!
If ever you read the "Foreign Quarterly," you will find in the two last numbers two Articles, as they are called, by me on Catullus Mr. G. P. R. James.
+ Grison, a large Sardinian greyhound.
and Theocritus. A friend made me break my resolution of declining all entreaties to review, because he had an interest in this publication. Addio.
IF you quarrel with yourself I will quarrel with you, for I am the sworn enemy of all yours. You have been happy, and have made others so-now what would you have or do? At this moment I return from a cricket club, where indeed I did not play at cricket, but I did at quoits, and won two games in three, after a disuse of nearly half a century. Hereupon I think myself no inconsiderable personage. Nevertheless I suspect there are certain proud Boyles here and there, who fancy they have done as great things merely because they have been men of state, or men of war, with a philosopher or so, and now and then a beauty at the buttonhole. I can clearly prove the contrary, and will.
You will grant that Apollo was among the first to move in what is called a high sphere. He composed well on various subjects. În fact he did everything well but play at quoits.
There he mistook a boy's head for a feather; why! it would have almost been a mistake if it had been a girl's! Now I made the feather shake, and the turf about it, at every cast of my quoits.
Apropos of hitting and missing- at least at one of them, I will not say which-do you meditate as much mischief to the grouse this month as you did to the pheasants in Hampshire? What a clear conscience! what unbroken slumbers are yours! On second thought, I will not swear to that. But you appear to have adopted the notion,
That a brave pheasantry, a manor's pride, When once destroyed can never be supplied. Never did so vile a verse make so deep an impression.
I am worth only one pen in the world, and were it no bull, I would say it is a borrowed one. I can make nothing of it, else I would speedily show you how much better my handwriting is than yours. I must now leave off — for here are come from the hotel sundry porters for sundry shillings to be disbursed - one of them indeed has very much of a half-crown face, for he sports a speck of black hair under his nether lip. So, adieu.
Sept. 12 . Più che Dottissima! I should be very much delighted to see you as you describe yourself with one cheek crimson, and the other a livid white, and yellow eyes. Surely some extraor
dinarily scientific painter must have arranged these colours for you.
Whatever lady presumes to wear them henceforth, I shall cry out against her audacious plagiarism. But as you, like all your sex, are fond of change, I am ready to lay any wager that when I see you, it will be the fashion for you to wear both cheeks slightly tinged with pink, and both eyes more the colour of the heavens than of the sun. This latter change may perhaps be less glorious: never mind! be moderate and submit.
What a glorious day is this for the pictures and the gardens and the waters and the Nymphs of Hampton Court! Do not let Campbell's Life of Petrarch darken it. I have not read the book and never shall read it— but I hear it is wretched. I am sorry for this. However, his fame is fairly established, by the admirable poem "Hohenlinden," and some others. Do not start if I tell you that in my poor opinion Campbell is a much better poet than Petrarch. 'I do not say a better; I say a much better. But the world ought to venerate the friend of Boccaccio of Boccaccio, the most creative genius that the continent has produced since the creation: for Homer and Dante were not preeminent as creators. I love the lover of Laura, the recluse of Arquà, the defender of resuscitated Liberty, and the recoverer of ancient learning. But among all the departed men of genius Boccaccio is the one most after my own heart; a friend of freedom, a despiser of faction and of popularity, and too great to enter as a dependent or suitor the courts of princes. Literary men in general are the vilest of the human race: happy we, who enjoy the friendship of one incomparably good and great in all his works, words, and thoughts.
Another is Southey, to whose wife, I may almost say widow, I will write to-day if I can- for I often sit, when I am thinking of her and him, with my pen in my hand and with ink in it until it dries up. I am now at Warwick, on a visit to my sister. Toward the end of next week I propose setting out for Staffordshire, to see my brother the rector of Birlingham, whom I have not seen these five years; and about the end of October I hope to be at Bath. Now, unless you tell me that you are writing in good earnest, I will never say again that I am, affectionately,
"Time has not thinned my flowing locks." Now do not suspect me of fibbery, or rub your memory till it smarts again. The thing is sure enough—and the "perché" is — they never flowed at all, but were equally stagnant and shallow at all seasons of my life-pretty nearly. At last, however, they have acquired that fine silvery tone which great painters have attained after long practice: something of the Guido, and something of the Vandyck.
Now for news. I sent your brother a ticket (I had six at my disposal) for Lady John Somerset's ball, at Clifton. But he would not go, because he had a cold, and his nose was red. His nose must be turned into a salamander, and his cold into an iceberg, before the ladies will find another so acceptable to them. But if ever he intends to marry, he should not throw away seven years more. It is rarely that pure blood and plentiful gold roll together in the same channel. If he wishes to raise a full cup to his lips, he must stoop a little. As to you and your sister, I will give my consent to nothing below the dignity of Earl. Somehow I like the sound of that title better than marquis or duke — it sounds more English - it looks nearer Alfred. There was a duke of Shrewsbury - and he was nothing at all but one can hardly form an idea of any title so glorious as Earl of Shrewsbury. Shakespeare was the sovereign who conferred it; but not without merit.
And so it was to you I promised my teapot,— was it? Never mind. I have a “cosa stupenda" for flowers and butterflies-a Japan pattern, large enough to hold an apronful of primroses. You must come for it, and remind for you see how apt we young people are to forget our promises. I knew I had something to present to you; and there are flowers and butterflies on both—as there is a river as well at Macedon as at Monmouth. Addio, Graziosissima and mi creda sempre divotissimo.
Ir is not always that I know one of the places, out of the two, where you are — but one I do know to a certainty. Alas! I have lost my poor dear Pomero. He died, after a long illness, apparently from a kick he received in the stomach in my absence. The whole house grieved for him. I buried him in a coffin in the garden. I would rather have lost everything else I possess in the world. Seven years we lived together in more than amity. He loved me to his heart- and what a heart + The writer's pet white Pomeranian dog.
it was! Mine beats audibly while I write in April two imaginary conversations of mine. about him.
At present I am doing nothing. Last month I ordered some "Leaves for the Study" to be printed for the benefit of a daylabourer who has written some good and manly poetry, now published by subscription. If you read" Fraser's Magazine," you will see
My scenes are on Antony and Octaviuscharacters of which it appears to me that Shakespeare has made sad work - and worse in Cleopatra. God bless you, my pleasant Mariuccia. Pray for me, and Pomero. Some people are so wicked as to believe we shall never meet again! W. S. L.
A RUSSIAN POLITICAL PRISON.
THE FORTRESS OF PETROPAVLOVSK.
HE great state prison of Russia- the prison in which all important and dangerous political offenders sooner or later find themselves-is the fortress of Petropavlovsk. Every traveler who has visited St. Petersburg must remember the slender gilded spire which rises to a height of nearly four hundred feet from the low bank of the Neva opposite the Winter Palace, and which shines afar like an uplifted lance of gold across the marshy delta of the river and the shallow waters of the Finnish Gulf. It is the spire of the fortress cathedral under which lie buried the bones of Russia's Tsars and around which lie buried almost as effectually the enemies of the Tsars' government. All that can be seen of the fortress from the river, upon which it fronts, is a long, low wall of gray stone broken sharply into salient and reëntering angles with a few cannon en barbette, a flag fluttering from the parapet, and over all the white belfry and burnished spire of the cathedral and the smoking chimneys of the Imperial mint. The main entrance to the fortress is a long vaulted passage leading through the wall near the end of the Troitski bridge and opening into a rather spacious grassy and well-shaded park or boulevard to which the public are admitted at all hours of the day and through which the residents of "the Petersburg side," as that part of the city is called, go to and from their homes. It is impossible, however, to obtain by merely walking along this thoroughfare any definite idea of the extent or character of Russia's great political prison. The fortress as a whole is an immense aggregation of bastions, ravelins, curtains, barracks, and storehouses which must cover at least three-quarters of a square mile and which is intersected by the boulevard above referred to, and by a canal or moat which separates the citadel or fortress proper from the "crown-work" in the rear. In what part of this vast labyrinth of
walls, gates, courts, bastions, and redoubts the political prisoners are confined even they themselves do not know. They are taken to the fortress at night, between gendarmes in closely curtained carriages, and when, after being conveyed hither and thither through heavy gates between echoing walls and along vaulted passages, they are finally ordered to alight, they find themselves in a small and completely inclosed court-yard from which nothing whatever can be seen except the sky overhead. Where this court-yard is situated they can only conjecture. There is some reason to believe that the part of the fortress where the political prisoners are confined while awaiting trial is a bastion which projects on the river side in the direction of the Bourse; but even this is not certain. All that I could learn from the political exiles whose acquaintance I made in Siberia was that they had been shut up in what they believed to be the Trubetskoi bastion. Of this particular part of the fortress, however, they could give me a full description, and a plan of it, drawn by an exile who is now in Eastern Siberia, will be found below.
PLAN OF CASEMATE AND SECTION OF RIGHT FACE OF BASTION FROM INNER COURT-YARD TO OUTER WALL.
A. Corridor; B. Outer court; C. Encircling wall; D. Inner 1. Table; 2. Bed; 3. Oven; 4. Commode; 5. Door; 6. Window.
THE TRUBETSKOI BASTION.
THE Trubetskoi bastion is a massive, pentagonal, two-story structure of stone and brick, about 300 feet in length from the flanked angle to the base and 250 feet in width on a line drawn between the two shoulder angles.* It stands in a court which is 25 or 30 feet longer and wider than the bastion itself, and which is formed by a high wall corresponding in outline with the bastion faces and separated from them all around by a space of 12 or 15 feet. The effect of this encircling wall is to completely shut the bastion in. The casemates which serve as cells for the political prisoners are in two tiers, one above the other, and are situated in the body of the structure, between the narrow outer court and a more spacious inner yard. Their doors open upon corridors which extend around the inner in closure, and their windows look out upon the blank encircling wall which is as high as the bastion itself, and which not only limits vision in every direction, but deprives the lower tier cells to a great extent of light and air. The number of the casemates in the entire bastion is 72,-36 in each tier, and with the exception of those in the angles, they are all alike. As they were originally intended for the accommodation of
*The dimensions of the Trubetskoi bastion as here stated must not be regarded as strictly accurate, since they are based merely upon estimates and computa
heavy cannon, they are much larger than ordinary prison cells. Their dimensions are approximately 24 feet in length from door. to window, 16 feet in width between partition walls, and 12 feet in height to a slightly vaulted ceiling. The walls and ceilings are of brick, and the floors are concrete. The massive outer face of the bastion is pierced in each casemate by one arched window at a height of eight or nine feet from the floor, the tunnel-like aperture is guarded by double gratings, and the lower right-hand pane of the iron sash is hung on hinges so that it can be opened for the admission of air. Owing to the height of the window from the floor the prisoner cannot reach it without support, and can see nothing out of it except the upper part of the outer wall and a narrow strip of sky. The heavy doors of the casemates are of wood, and in the middle of each is a square port-hole which can be closed by a hinged panel. The panel swings up and down like a miniature drawbridge, and when lowered to a horizontal position forms a shelf upon which food for the prisoner can be placed by the guard. Immediately over it is a narrow horizontal slit about as large as the opening for letters in a street letter-box, covered by a pivoted strip of wood which can be raised and lowered like the blade of a jack-knife so as to open or close the aperture. This contrivance, which is known to the political prisoners as the "Judas,” enables the guard to look into the cell at any time without attracting the attention of the occupant. The furniture of the casemate consists of a common Russian oven with its door in the corridor; an iron bedstead, bolted into the masonry at one end so that it cannot be moved; a shelf-like slab of iron, also bolted into the wall near the head of the bed and intended for use as a table; a stationary iron wash-basin; a wooden box, containing an excrement bucket; a small cheap image of the Madonna before which the prisoner can say his prayers, and a tin cup suspended against the wall under the window to catch the moisture which drips from the slopes of the deep embrasure. The general aspect of the casemate is somber, gloomy, and forbidding; and the first idea suggested to the mind by the massive walls, the vaulted ceiling, the iron window, the damp, lifeless air, and the profound stillness is the idea of a burial vault or crypt.
THE FIRST NIGHT IN THE FORTRESS.
WHEN a political prisoner is brought at night to one of these casemates he is first of all stripped naked. A careful examination is made of his person to ascertain whether he
has anything concealed in his hair, mouth, ears, or nostrils, and when the guard are satisfied that he has not, they give him in the place of his own clothing a prison costume consisting of a coarse gray linen shirt, drawers of the same material, a long blue linen dressing-gown, woolen stockings, and a pair of soft felt slippers. As soon as he has put on these garments the soldiers of the guard retire, the heavy wooden door closes behind them, the key grinds in the rusty padlock, and the prisoner is left alone in the dimly lighted casemate. The stillness is that of the grave. There is not a footstep, nor a voice, nor a sound of any kind to indicate the presence of another human being in the bastion. Every fifteen minutes the bells of the fortress cathedral chime out slowly the air with which the words, " Have mercy, O Lord!" are associated in the Russian liturgy, and every hour they ring the melody of the ecclesiastical chant, "How glorious is our Lord in Zion!" The damp, heavy atmosphere, the dripping walls, the oppressive silence, and the faint muffled tones of the cathedral bells chiming mournful airs from the church liturgy, all seem to say to the lonely and dejected prisoner, "Although not dead, you are buried." Crushed by the thought that this is the end of all his hopes and aspirations and struggles for the welfare of his country, tortured by anxiety concerning the fate of those nearest and dearest to him, he rises from the narrow iron bed upon which he has thrown himself in the first paroxysm of despair and begins to pace his cell. "How long," he asks himself, "will this continue?" He reviews mentally the events which preceded and followed his arrest, recalls the questions that were asked him at the preliminary examination, and tries to form from the facts of his case a calm judgment as to the probable duration of his imprisonment. The offense with which he is charged is not, he thinks, a serious one; there are no complicating circumstances to retard the investigation; perhaps he will be tried and released in a few weeks. But as this ray of hope enters his heart he stoops to replace the loose felt
The history of the attempt made by a number of army and navy officers at the accession to the throne of the Emperor Nicholas to bring about a revolution and establish a constitutional form of government is well known. Lieutenant-Colonel Battenkoff, one of the participators in this movement, was punished by solitary confinement in the fortress from December, 1825, to February, 1846, a period of more than twenty years. During this time he was never outside of the Alexei ravelin, and never saw a human being except his guards. He was permitted to have a Hebrew Bible and a lexicon, and he spent a large part of his time in making a new translation of the Old Testament into Russian. This mental occupation probably saved him from insanity, which is the fate most dreaded by political prisoners and which is the almost invariable result of long
slipper which has fallen from one foot, and in so doing notices for the first time what seems to be a faint path leading from one corner of the cell to another on the same diagonal which he has been pacing. Startled by a vague apprehension, he seizes the small lamp and examines it more closely. It is unquestionably a path-a shallow but perceptible groove worn into the solid concrete by human footsteps. The mournful significance of this discovery comes to him almost with the shock of a new misfortune. He then is not the first prisoner who has been buried in this lonely casemate, nor the first who has sought in physical exercise relief from mental strain. Somebody who perhaps was also accused of a political offense-somebody who perhaps was also hopeful of a speedy trial-made that significant groove. Somebody heart-sick with hope long deferred trod that path from corner to corner not merely a hundred times nor a thousand times, but hundreds of thousands of times, until the solid floor of the casemate had been worn away by his weary feet, and a long shallow depression marked the line of his monotonous march. This melancholy record of an unknown predecessor's loneliness and isolation disheartens the prisoner more than all that has happened to him since his arrest. He recalls the history of the Decembrists, and remembers that in this same fortress many of that gallant band of revolutionists spent all the years of their early manhood and finally died, committed suicide, or went insane. One of them, Lieutenant-Colonel Battenkoff, languished here in solitary confinement for almost a quarter of a century; another, Midshipman Diboff, was held a prisoner here until death came to his relief; a third, Lieutenant Zaikin, unable to endure the mind-destroying torture of complete isolation, killed himself by dashing his head against the wall; while a fourth, preferring even a death of agony to a life clouded by mental disorder, swallowed glass broken from his cell window.t In this same fortress still another officer lay in solitary confinement until the guards re
solitary confinement. With the exception of the lexicon and a few religious books, Lieutenant-Colonel Battenkoff had access to no literature, and in the whole twenty years did not see a newspaper nor hear a word of intelligence from the outside world. He was, in fact, buried alive in the strictest sense of the words. In February, 1846, he was finally released and exiled to western Siberia. Some interesting facts with regard to his life and character will be found in a letter from his friend Mr. A. Luchtef to the Irkutsk newspaper, "Sibir," for January 30, 1883, and in Maximoff's "Siberia and Penal Servitude," Vol. II., p. 166.
+"Recollections of a Decembrist," p. 185, by A. Belaieff. St. Petersburg, 1882. Much was crossed out in the manuscript of Mr. Belaieff's book by the censor, but the above statements were allowed to stand.