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of an unknown spy appearing noiselessly now and then at the aperture of the "Judas" only render his situation the more intolerable. The very solitude seems now to be pervaded and dominated by a watchful, hostile, pitiless presence which he can neither see nor escape from.
ported that he had ceased to answer questions, impersonal, unrecognizable, expressionless eyes and an official examination showed that he had become a complete imbecile. He could still eat, drink, and perform the actions that years of unbroken routine had rendered habitual; but from his heavy, glazed eyes the last spark of human intelligence had vanished, and he sat motionless on his bed for days at a time in the profound stupor of intellectual death.*
Oppressed by these gloomy recollections of fortress history, the prisoner can pace his cell no longer. He imagines that he can feel with his lightly clad feet the shallow trough made by the feet of his unknown predecessor, and every step in it suggests possibilities of suffering which he dares not contemplate. Seating himself again on the narrow bed, he listens long and intently for some sound of life from the outside world—some faint, audible evidence of human activity to break up this oppressive nightmare of burial in a subterranean crypt haunted by phantasms of tortured suicides and imbeciles. The bells of the fortress cathedral chime out slowly again, "Have mercy, O Lord!" but the faint tones of the mournful supplication die away into a stillness more profound, if possible, than that which went before. Suddenly the prisoner becomes conscious of two human eyes staring at him with fixed, unwinking gaze from the middle of the casemate door. Startled, nervous, excited, it seems to him for a moment as if the phantasms of his disordered imagination were taking definite objective form as if the ghost of some political suicide, at that dead hour of the night, were peering into the gloomy casemate where on a tragic day long past it left its emaciated mortal tenement lying on the floor with a fractured skull or a throat full of broken glass. But as he gazes in spell-bound fascination at the mysterious, expressionless eyes they suddenly vanish, and a faint click, made by the cover of the "Judas" as it falls into place over the slit where the eyes have been, shows him that the fancied apparition was only the guard looking into the cell from the corridor. A momentary feeling of relief is followed by still deeper depression, as he realizes for the first time that although absolutely alone he is the object of constant suspicion and vigilance. The eyes of a supernatural visitant would at least have been compassionate and sympathetic; but the
Neither the name nor the offense of this officer is known. The fact of his existence was disclosed by certain gendarmes who served as guards in the Alexei ravelin in 1882, and who in August of that year were exiled to Siberia for permitting political prisoners to communicate with their friends. According to the story of these gendarmes, the imbecile officer, who was known only by the number of his casemate, had been thrown into the fortress many years before they first saw him for offering a grievous insult to the Emperor
As the prisoner's emotional excitement gradually subsides he begins to feel conscious of the damp chilliness of the casemate, and in a shiver, due partly to cold and partly to nervous reaction, he creeps into his narrow bed and draws the thin blanket up over his shoulders for the night. The last sound which he hears as he sinks into a troubled, fitful sleep is that of the cathedral chime ringing at midnight, "God save the Tsar."
ROUTINE OF LIFE IN A CASEMATE.
THE daily routine of a prisoner's life in the Trubetskoi bastion begins with the serving of hot water for tea about 8 o'clock in the morning. Nothing except the hot water is furnished at the expense of the Government; but if the prisoner has money of his own in the hands of the "smatritel," or warden, the latter will purchase for him tea, sugar, white bread, tobacco, and other simple luxuries not forbidden by prison rules. About 2 o'clock the guard appears at the port-hole in the door with the prisoner's dinner, which consists of soup with a few fragments of meat floating in it, "kasha," made of unground barley or oats boiled in enough water to saturate the grains, and a pound and a half of black rye-bread. What remains of the soup from dinner is warmed up for supper, and at a later hour in the evening hot water is brought again for tea. All food is served in block-tin or pewter dishes, and is eaten with wooden spoons. Knives and forks are regarded as dangerous implements and are not allowed to go into a prisoner's hands under any circumstances. Previous to 1879 the food provided for political prisoners in the Trubetskoi bastion was abundant and good. Thirty-five or forty out of fifty or more exiles whom I questioned on the subject in Siberia told me that during the time that they were imprisoned in the fortress-between 1873 and 1878-complaint with regard to food could not fairly be made. It was better in
Alexander II. The cause for the insult was said to be the ruin by the Tsar of the officer's sister. Whether this story had a foundation in fact, or was merely a prison rumor which obtained currency as an explanation of the officer's long confinement and strict seclusion, I do not know; but the exiled gendarmes were in perfect agreement as to the facts of the unknown prisoner's life which had come under their own immediate observation, and described with many pathetic details the gradual decay of his mental powers.
"Suppose I do," replied the prisoner; "why
"We won't let you," said the guard; "we will feed you by force."
"How by force?"
quality and more plentiful in quantity than the prisoner had on when he was arrested and, that furnished to prisoners of the same class throwing it upon the bed, says, " Pazholuyte na in other prisons of the empire. About the progulku"-"You will please take your walk." time, however, that the Terrorists began their It is one of the rules of the fortress that a activity in 1879, the treatment of political pris- prisoner shall put on his own dress every time oners everywhere underwent a change for the he leaves his cell, in order that the prison garworse, and in the fortress that change was ments which he has been wearing may be marked by a decrease in the quantity and a thoroughly searched during his temporary abdeterioration in the quality of the food. Finally, sence. He is required therefore to change his after the assassination of Alexander II., the apparel throughout, even to underclothing and imprisoned revolutionists were deprived of stockings, and is closely watched meanwhile nearly all the privileges that they had previ- to see that he does not transfer anything from ously enjoyed, were treated with greater sever- one suit of clothes to the other. When he has ity and rigor than ever, and were put virtually made this complete change of dress he is upon the same footing with common criminals. taken out into the little court-yard where, beIn 1882, when a young law student of my ac- tween two gendarmes, he promenades slowly quaintance named Stassoff was brought to back and forth for ten minutes. He can see the Trubetskoi bastion, the food furnished little more from his exercise ground than he there was so bad that at first he could not could from his cell; but in summer and in fair force himself to eat it, although he had al- weather even a walled court-yard is a pleasready been four months in prison in another ant change from the gloom, dampness, and part of the empire. The guard, noticing that death-like stillness of a bomb-proof casemate. he left his dinner and supper untouched, said It is at least open to the universe overhead, to him, "Do you intend to starve yourself to and as the prisoner walks back and forth in death?" it the sun shines warmly and brightly in his face; the green foliage of a few shrubs and stunted trees gratifies the craving of his eyes for color; he can hear occasionally the whistle of a passing steamer on the unseen Neva, or the faint music of a band in the neighboring zoological garden; and now and then, when the wind is fair, it brings to his nostrils the cool, moist fragrance of the woods. If this walk could be prolonged for two or three hours, it would have a most beneficial influence upon the prisoner's health and spirits; but as there are sometimes sixty or seventy political offenders in the bastion, and as the Government does not intend that they shall ever see one another, much less have an opportunity to exchange signals, only one of them is allowed to walk in the court-yard at a time. This limits the daily outing of each to about ten minutes. While the prisoner is taking his walk, the cell which he has left and the prison dress which he has temporarily laid aside are both carefully searched, in order to make sure that he has not accidentally come into possession of an old rusty nail; that he is not saving up bits of cigarette paper with a view to surreptitious correspondence; that he is not hoarding matches with the hope of getting enough together to poison himself—that, in short, he is not hiding anything which can be used either as a means of making his life more endurable or as an instrument for putting it to an end. When the prisoner returns to his cell at the end of his walk he puts on again the coarse linen prison garb which has just been searched, and the citizen's dress which he has worn for ten minutes in the court
"Simply enough; we will put a rubber pipe down your throat and pour milk into it."
"But," said Mr. Stassoff, "if you 'll only give me milk, I'll take that now without any rubber pipe." The guard, a good-humored young soldier, smiled and turned away, advising the prisoner to eat what was set before him. Hunger finally compelled Mr. Stassoff to swallow the prison ration, but that the food thus forced upon him was insufficient and bad is shown by the fact that in less than three months he was prostrated by scurvy, and at the expiration of four months it was found necessary to remove him to the House of Preliminary Detention in order to save his life. He was so weak that he could not leave his bed, his face was pale and haggard, his eyes were sunken, and blood flowed from his swollen gums at every attempt to eat. He had then been eight months in solitary confinement without trial, and had been reduced from robust health to a condition so low that the fortress surgeon who was called to examine him said, "We must get you out of this grave or it will soon be too late."
The dreary monotony of life in the Trubetskoi bastion is relieved to some extent by a daily walk of ten or fifteen minutes in the small inner court-yard. Every morning or afternoon, at a certain appointed hour, a soldier enters the casemate with the clothing which VOL. XXXV.- 72.
yard is taken away by the gendarmes to be searched in its turn. This ends the day's "recreation."
It is the concurrent testimony of fifty or more exiles whom I met in Siberia, that the worst privations of life in the Trubetskoi bastion are the loneliness, the stillness, and the lack of occupation. Physical hardships, such as bad food, foul air, dampness and cold, can be endured; but the mental and moral torture of complete isolation, perfect stillness, and the absence of all employment for hands and brain soon becomes literally insupportable.
HOW PRISONERS ARE WATCHED AND
THE system of discipline enforced in the fortress is of the strictest possible character. In 1881 there were constantly on guard in each of the several corridors of the Trubetskoi bastion two sworn "nadziratels," or overseers, five soldiers armed with rifles and revolvers, and four gendarmes. Their duties were to carry food and water to the prisoners in their cells, to keep up fires in the ovens in winter, to remove the excrement buckets when necessary, to see that no noise was made in any part of the bastion, and to watch the prisoners constantly night and day through the "Judas slits in the doors of the casemates. They all wore soft felt slippers, so that they could steal along the corridors and peep into the cells without making the slightest noise; they were forbidden to talk to one another or to the prisoners in a tone above a whisper, or to speak to the latter at all, except in case of absolute necessity; and they had orders to report instantly any unusual or suspicious action or behavior on the part of the occupant of any cell on their corridor. Finally, the three classes of guards-overseers, soldiers, and gendarmes -were required to watch not only the prisoners, but one another; so that if a soldier, for example, came to feel affection and sympathy for a prisoner, and wished to help or shield him, he would be restrained from doing so by the consciousness that he himself was watched by the gendarmes, and that the least relaxation of severity or manifestation of sympathy on his part would be noticed and reported. There is always danger in a Russian prison that the political prisoners, who are generally men of education and character, will establish friendly relations with their guards-especially with the soldiers — and will secure the aid of the latter in carrying on secret correspondence with their friends, both inside and outside the prison walls. This has happened again and again in all parts of the empire, and more than once in the fortress itself. In order
to prevent it the Government has not only made it the duty of the soldiers and the gendarmes to watch one another, but has adopted the plan of changing them so frequently that a prisoner has not time even to lay the foundation of an acquaintance with one of them before another takes his place. In 1881 the soldiers on duty in the corridors of the Trubetskoi bastion were changed every hour; and as the prison authorities could draw soldiers from an army of fifty or sixty thousand men massed in and about St. Petersburg, they could put a different battalion on guard duty every day for six months. The gendarmes were also shifted frequently; and the overseers, who were twentyfour in number, changed stations every day, going from one story or corridor of the bastion to another at irregular and uncertain intervals, so that a prisoner sometimes did not see the same overseer twice in a fortnight, and could never count on the presence of a particular one in his corridor at a particular time. Once a month the prisoners are taken separately to a little bath-house in the middle of the courtyard, where they bathe under guard of two gendarmes, and as often as may be necessary the prison barber visits them in their cells for the purpose of cutting their finger-nails, toenails, and hair. Edged tools are not allowed to go into their hands for an instant, and a female prisoner who obtains permission to sew in her casemate must call the guard every time she wishes to use scissors, and give him the material to be cut.
INTERVIEWS WITH RELATIVES.
THE loneliness and monotony of life in the Trubetskoi bastion are relieved, in the cases of many of the prisoners, by occasional interviews with relatives. Once a month the father, mother, sister, brother, wife, or child of a political prisoner may obtain from the Minister of the Interior or the Chief of Gendarmes permission to visit the fortress in a closed carriage under guard and talk with the prisoner for ten minutes. In the room where the interview takes place there are two net-work partitions or gratings of iron wire, five or six feet apart, with a square aperture in each like a bank teller's window, at about the height of a man's head from the floor. The visitor stands on the outside of one of these gratings, and the prisoner on the outside of the other, with their faces at the square port-holes, while at a small table in the inclosure between them sits an officer whose duty it is to listen to the conversation. Both visitor and prisoner are warned in advance that their talk must be limited to strictly personal and domestic matters; that it must be perfectly intelligible to the listening
officer; and that it must contain neither names of persons nor references to public affairs. In order to guard against a possible interchange of secret signals, a gendarme stationed directly behind the prisoner watches every motion and expression of the visitor, while another, stationed behind the visitor, watches every motion and expression of the prisoner. At the slightest indication of an attempt on the part of either to convey forbidden intelligence to the other, an end is put to the interview and the privilege is not again granted. Many prisoners regarded the so-called privilege as a mere mockery, and refused to see their relatives altogether. Doctor Melnikoff, a bright, cultivated young surgeon whom I found living in exile in a village of eastern Siberia near the frontier of Mongolia, said to me in a conversation on this subject: "Interviews with my wife were a source of pain and distress to me rather than of pleasure. I could not say anything to her that I wanted to say; I could not take her in my arms; I could not even touch her hand; and it seemed like a desecration of love to speak of it in the presence of hired eavesdroppers, jailers, and spies to whom it might afterward be nothing more than a subject for coarse jest and laughter. All I could do, therefore, was to ask and answer a few formal questions; look with aching heart at my wife's pale, convulsed face streaming with tears; and then bid her good-bye and go back to my casemate. For days afterward her agonized face haunted me and I was more miserable than ever. I finally refused to see her."
PRIVILEGES AND DIVERSIONS.- AN ARTIFICIAL HICCOUGH.
THE only privilege of a prisoner's life in the Trubetskoi bastion which is really prized is the use of books and writing materials. There is in the bastion a very good library of about a thousand volumes, made up chiefly of books which have been sent to or purchased by the prisoners in the course of the last twenty years, but which the owners were not permitted to take away with them at the expiration of their terms of imprisonment. From this library many — perhaps most-of the politicals awaiting trial are allowed to draw books. Writing materials, in the shape of a pen and ink and a small copy-book made of half a dozen sheets of coarse paper stitched together, are also loaned to them for a few hours at a time upon condition that they shall be returned without injury or mutilation. These privileges, however, are not granted at all times nor to all of the prisoners. Nikolai Charushin, one of the early propagandists, who spent two years and a half in the Trubetskoi bastion, was
not allowed for the first five months to see a single printed line. Solomon Chudnofski, a well-known publicist and a member of the western Siberian branch of the Imperial Geographical Society, was put into a straitjacket in the same bastion in the spring of 1878 for insisting upon his legal right to have pen and paper for the purpose of writing a letter of complaint to the Procureur. Many other prisoners were deprived of these and all other privileges for months at a time, without the assignment of any reason whatever by the prison authorities. There would seem to be sometimes a deliberate intention on the part of the Government to break down the resolution and disorder the mental faculties of obstinate political offenders by depriving them of all means of mental employment. Doctor Melnikoff, for example, the young surgeon of whom I have spoken, was not allowed for a long time to have either books or writing materials, and finding that the loneliness and lack of occupation were becoming insupportable, he saved a part of his daily ration of black rye-bread, and after moistening it enough to render it plastic he began to mold it into small figures. This diversion was a perfectly harmless one, even from the point of view of the strictest disciplinarian, and if it had been permitted it would have enabled the young surgeon to while away many long, weary hours, and might have made for him all the difference between mental health and insanity. sooner, however, did the gendarmes on duty in the corridor notice what he was doing than they took away both the figures and the bread and warned him that if he attempted anything of the kind again he would be punished.
The death-like stillness of the casemate where Doctor Melnikoff was confined became in time as intolerable as the absence of employment. His feet, clad in soft felt slippers, made not the slightest noise when he walked; he dared not knock or drum with his fingers; and it was so long since he had heard the sound of his own voice that he sometimes doubted whether he still had a voice. He finally went into the remotest part of the casemate, crouched down in a corner, with his back to the door, and began to talk softly aloud to himself. The next time the guard peeped through the "Judas" and discovered what the prisoner was doing he opened the door and said to him that talking aloud even to one's self was "neilza,"—" impossible,”— and that if he repeated the offense he would be put into a dark cell. Baffled again, the young surgeon was for a long time silent, but he finally conceived the idea of making a noise, and at the same time reassuring himself as to the
unimpaired efficiency of his vocal cords, by counterfeiting a hiccough. This stratagem succeeded. The guard of course insisted that the prisoner should stop it; but the prisoner declared that hiccough is a spasmodic affection of the diaphragm and glottis which cannot be controlled by the will, and that if the guard wanted it stopped the best thing he could do was to get him some medicine for it from the fortress surgeon. The soldier, acting on this suggestion, went to consult the "feldsher" or assistant medical officer of the bastion, while the prisoner, with a sense of perfect security, hiccoughed so vociferously and joyously that he could be heard out in the corridor. All efforts of the prison authorities to cure Doctor Melnikoff's hiccough proved unavailing. It was a chronic infirmity, and when it assumed an acute and paroxysmal form, as it did every day or two throughout the remainder of his term of imprisonment, it set all remedies at defiance. I said to the young surgeon when he related to me in Siberia this incident of his prison life, that I presumed the distressing malady disappeared with his liberation from the fortress." Oh, no," interposed his wife laughingly. "Whenever he feels lonesome or' ennuied' he hiccoughs to himself artificially for a quarter of an hour at a time; but he does it now unconsciously, so that it really is a disease."
PRISONERS' METHODS OF INTERCOMMU
THE principal object of the rigorous system of prison discipline enforced in the Trubetskoi bastion is the prevention of communication between the prisoners. As the politicals in this part of the fortress are all persons who have not yet been tried, the Government regards it as extremely important that they shall not have an opportunity to secretly consult one another and agree upon a scheme of defense; that they shall not be allowed to give one another points and suggestions after preliminary examination; and that those who have been a long time in prison shall not be able to learn from those just arrested what has happened in the outside world since their removal from it. The Government intends, in short, to isolate every political offender, if possible, so completely that he will suppose himself to be the only human being shut up in that part of the fortress and will not think, therefore, of knocking on the wall or trying in any other way to attract sympathetic attention. If the prisoners were permitted to talk aloud, either to the guards or to themselves, such isolation as this would be impracticable. They would occasionally hear one
another's voices and would thus be apprised of their nearness to one another; and then if they were allowed to make the least noise they would contrive a method of transmitting intelligence by means of that noise from cell to cell. Even footsteps on a hard floor, if the feet were not muffled in soft felt slippers, might be so timed and spaced as to indicate numbers and letters in the cipher-square. In view of these considerations the Government believes it to be absolutely necessary to watch the prisoners constantly and to maintain throughout the bastion the stillness of a sepulcher. The results of this strict system of surveillance and repression are not, however, as satisfactory in practice as they presumably are in theory. The political prisoners communicate with one another in three or four different ways in spite of all the measures of prevention and precaution that official ingenuity can devise. In the first place they communicate by means of the knock alphabet. The prison authorities made an attempt in 1876 to put a stop to surreptitious telegraphy by masking the walls of all the casemates with screens of wire net-work covered with soft thick felt. This scheme however created a new evil without remedying the old one. The space between the screens and the wall served the prisoners as a convenient hiding-place for scraps of cigarette paper, old nails, pins, bits of string, ends of burnt matches, and other useful articles of that sort which they had previously had great difficulty in concealing from the gendarmes. The screens, moreover, did not prevent the knocking. The prisoners soon discovered that the little shelf-like iron table bolted into the wall of each casemate near the head of the bed would convey sound as well as the wall itself, and that if an instructed listener put his ear to one of these tables he could hear distinctly the faintest tap made upon the corresponding table in the cell above or below. This discovery rendered communication between the cells of the upper and the lower tier comparatively safe and easy. All that the prisoner had to do was to seat himself on the bed, bury his head in his arms on the table as if he were tired or despondent, and tap softly with the ball of one finger on the iron slab under cover of his shoulder. The attitude was a perfectly natural one and excited no mistrust in the mind of the guard, and by a slight change of position the ear could be laid against the table when it became necessary to listen. Gentle tapping upon a nonresonant substance like iron did not make noise enough to be heard across the casemate, and yet every stroke set up a slight vibration in the table which was communicated through the wall to the corresponding table in the cell