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It is a large, square, rather showy building, with high arched windows, and suggests to an American a town-hall or an opera-house rather than a prison. The exterior of the building, however, is merely an ornamental mask, designed apparently to disguise the real character and purpose of the structure. From the outside it appears to be only four stories in height, but upon entering the court-yard, or quadrangle around which it is built, one discovers that the high external windows are deceptive, that the building really consists of six stories, and that all the cells look out into the completely inclosed court-yard. Whether the high outside windows serve any useful purpose or not I failed to ascertain; but they certainly do not light any of the cells, and it is impossible for a prisoner to get through these windows, or any others, so much as a glimpse of the outside world. By standing on his stationary wash-basin he can look down into the quadrangle, but that is all. The prison contains 317 solitary confinement cells, and 68 kameras, or cells for more than one person, and was designed to hold 700 prisoners. The solitary confinement cells, which are all alike, 'seemed to me to be about 12 feet long by 7 feet wide and 71⁄2 feet high, with whitewashed brick walls and concrete floors. They contain a gas fixture, a stationary wash-basin, an iron bedstead which can be folded up against the wall, two hinged slabs of iron which fold up in the same way, and serve respectively as a table and a chair, and finally, in the end of the cell near the window, a modern water-closet seat and basin, with a round cover and a water trap to exclude noxious air from the soil pipe. As it is not my purpose to describe this prison more minutely than may be necessary in order to explain certain events of which it was the scene, I will merely say, briefly, that the cells and corridors shown me were scrupulously clean, and that the light in the upper stories
*There were imprisoned in the House:
on a pleasant day in summer was fairly good. The lower stories, however, seemed to be dark and damp, and the ventilation to be bad everywhere. As the cells all open through their windows upon the quadrangle, which is virtually nothing more than a deep square well, the wind rarely blows into or through them, and the circulation of air secured by artificial means is sluggish and inadequate. The sanitary condition of the building, as shown by hospital records, is very unsatisfactory. Even when it was new, 20 per cent. of its criminal population received hospital treatment some time in the course of the year,* and in 1884 it furnished 116 cases of anæmia and scurvy.t
The treatment of political offenders in the House of Preliminary Detention is generally lenient and fairly considerate. They are not obliged to wear any particular dress, they are allowed to have interviews with relatives and to receive from the latter unobjectionable books and articles of clothing, and they may keep money of their own in the hands of the warden and order all their own meals, if they choose, from a restaurant.
The difference between confinement in such a prison as this and incarceration in a casemate of the fortress is very great.
When I was transferred from the Trubetskoi bastion Siberia], it was like going from a sepulcher to a waterto the House of Detention [said Dr. Sokolof to me in ing-place hotel. The sound of footsteps, the rumble of ventilating apparatus, the comparative lightness and airiness of the cells, the doves flying about the windows, which suggested the busy life and activity of the world, and the faint roar of vehicles in the adjacent streets, all combined to give me a sense of unwonted exhilaration. In the "monastery " I never saw a human being except the guard, and rarely heard a sound except, cell. In the House of Detention, on the contrary, I perhaps, the low tapping of a prisoner in an adjoining heard noises of all sorts, and soon found myself in communication with everybody. Before I had been there a day, some one in the cell below mine knocked out to "Scoop the water out of your basin." I went and me on the steam pipe which ran up beside my door, looked into my wash-basin and found it to be empty. In a few moments the command came again in a slightly different form, Scoop the water out of your water-closet basin." Then the significance of the direction flashed upon my mind. Somebody wished to talk to me through the soil pipe with which his basin and mine were in communication. I succeeded, after some trouble, in clearing the trap, and as I did so a babel of hollow human voices came up through the basin, and I found myself able to talk freely with the inmates of eleven other cells, most of whom were politicals.
"PIPE CLUBS" OF POLITICAL PRISONERS.
If the reader will imagine six capital Y's that the stem of each rests in the fork of the placed over one another in such a manner next one below, he will have a rough general idea of the way in which the soil pipes of the
House of Detention are arranged. The arms of the Y in each story terminate in the water-closet basins of two adjoining cells, while the stem forms a section of the large perpendicular pipe which runs from the roof to the ground, and with which twelve cells are thus connected. All that it is necessary to do, therefore, in order to open oral communication with the occupants of these twelve cells is to clear the water-traps. The political prisoners confined in the House of Detention soon discovered that they could talk with one another through these pipes, and when the number of such prisoners was so great that the dark punishment cells of the prison would not hold a tenth part of them, the authorities of the prison were almost powerless to prevent such intercommunication. Before 1876 all attempts to prevent it had been virtually abandoned, and the political prisoners had formed what they called "Water-closet Clubs or "Pipe Clubs," for social intercourse and mutual improvement. Each club consisted of ten or twelve members, and had its own name and rules. Frequently, when I asked a political exile in Siberia whether he knew such or such a person, he would reply, "Oh, yes! I have never seen him, but I know him wellhe was a member of my pipe club in the House of Detention." Educated political prisoners gave lessons through these pipes to the uneducated; languages were taught through them; newspapers were read through them; and they served all the purposes for which speaking and pneumatic tubes are employed in large public buildings. Miss Medvedieva, who afterward became the wife of the Russian author Machtet, read aloud to the members of her pipe club the whole of Turgenieff's novel "Virgin Soil." The political prisoners, however, were not contented with mere oral communication through these pipes, but made them useful also as a means of conveying packages from cell to cell within the limits of each club. A prisoner, for example, in one of the upper stories, would ravel out a part of one of the sheets from his bed, twist the threads into a long cord, fasten to it a securely inclosed package, throw or push the package through the branch pipe of the watercloset basin into the main perpendicular pipe, and then lower it. The prisoner in the cell below for whom it was intended could not reach it, as it hung in the main pipe, but he would have ready another similar cord with a small weight attached, would throw that out through the branch pipe into the main pipe, and the two prisoners would then jerk their respective cords up and down until they became intertwined, when the lower prisoner would haul in the package through his branch pipe and basin.
IN the summer of 1876, when there were confined in the House of Detention more than three hundred political offenders, it was decided to have a general prison celebration of the Centennial Fourth of July — the birthday of the American Republic. As early as the first week in June the prisoners began to make preparations for the proposed celebration, by requesting relatives who visited them to send to the prison for their use as many red and blue handkerchiefs, neckerchiefs, shirts, and pairs of red flannel drawers as could be sent without exciting suspicion, and at the same time all the prisoners who were permitted to have movable lights began to purchase and hoard candles. The colored garments were torn into strips, the candles were cut into inch-long bits, and both were distributed by means of the water-closet pipes throughout the whole prison. Some of the women, who were allowed to have needles and thread and to sew in their cells, succeeded in making rude American flags, and before the 1st of July almost every political offender in the prison had either a flag, or a few strips of red, white, and blue cloth, and an inch or two of candle.
Day breaks in the latitude of St. Petersburg, in summer, very early, and on the morning of the Fourth of July, 1876, hours before the first midnight cannon announced the beginning of the great national celebration in Philadelphia, hundreds of American flags and streamers of red, white, and blue fluttered from the grated windows of the politicals around the whole quadrangle of the great St. Petersburg prison, and the members of the prison "clubs" were faintly hurrahing, singing patriotic songs, and exchanging greetings with one another through the water-closet pipes which united their cells. The celebration, of course, was soon over. The prison guard, although they had never heard of the Declaration of Independence and did not understand the significance of this extraordinary demonstration, promptly seized and removed the flags and tricolored streamers. Some of the prisoners, however, had more material of the same kind in reserve; and at intervals throughout the whole day scraps and tatters of red, white, and blue were furtively hung out here and there from cell windows or tied around the bars of the gratings. Late in the evening, at a preconcerted hour, the
politicals lighted their bits of candle and placed them in their windows, and the celebration ended with a faint but perceptible illumination of the great prison quadrangle.
There seems to me to be something profoundly mournful and touching in this attempt of three hundred political offenders to celebrate together, in the loneliness and gloom of a Russian prison, the centennial birthday of a free people. Compared with the banners, the fireworks, the martial music, and the glowing pageantry of triumphant liberty in Philadelphia, the rudely fashioned stars and stripes hung out from grated cell windows, the faint hurrahing and singing of patriotic songs through water-closet pipes, and the few bits of tallow candle, illuminating faintly at night the dark, silent quadrangle of the prison in St. Petersburg, may seem pitifully weak, ineffective, and insignificant; but judged by a spiritual standard, the celebration in the House of Preliminary Detention in the Russian capital of the American Centennial Fourth of July, is an event almost as extraordinary, and to the heart and imagination of a freeman almost as impressive, as the splendid demonstration in Philadelphia. Human actions are not to be judged solely by the scenic effect which they produce, but are also to be regarded as manifestations of human emotion and purpose. When Mary Magdalene anointed the feet of her Lord and Master as an expression of her devotion and love it was a simple thing,
almost a trivial thing, but Christ said, "She hath done what she could." When the Russian revolutionists hung out rude imitations of the star-spangled banner from their cell windows and lighted at night their hoarded bits of candle as an expression of their devotion to liberty and their sympathy with the rejoicings of a freer and happier people, it too was a simple thing, almost a trivial thing, but they did what they could. Some of them were weak from sickness and long solitary confinement; some of them had just come from the voiceless casemates of the Petropavlovsk fortress, where they had lost count of days and months; some of them were living in anticipation of the unknown hardships and privations of Siberia, and upon some of them rested already the dark shadow of the scaffold; but in all their solitude, their loneliness, and their misery they did not forget the Centennial Fourth of July. What little they could do to show their devotion to the cause of freedom and their sympathy with a freedom-loving people on the centennial anniversary of the latter's emancipation, that little they bravely did; and the spirit by which they were animated transfigured their pitiful celebration, with its tricolored rags and its paltry bits of candle, and made it something infinitely more significant in the world's history than all the pomp and ceremony which attend the coronation of a Tsar.
leaning upon the military strength of his country, directs its efforts to the end of safely maintaining, against the dangers surrounding it, the national power that has been achieved, without striving for anything beyond—and his creation still stands.
In one importantrespect Bismarck's position is far stronger than Napoleon's ever could be. Napoleon was, and felt himself as, a soldier of fortune. Sprung from low degree, he won his imperial crown by the splendor of his military exploits, and he was constantly disquieted by the consciousness that by new splendors of achievement he had to preserve it. He had to prove the necessity of his remaining at the head of the state from day to day. He had to create exigencies which in the opinion of the people he alone could satisfy. He felt himself obliged to hurry from enterprise to enterprise without end, each to be more dazzling than that which preceded it. Thus there could be no stable condition of things, no repose for him and his people. Bismarck, not a monarch himself, enjoys all the advantage conferred by the historic "legitimacy" of the monarch whom he serves as minister. The hereditary loyalty of the people to the dynasty and their affection for the monarch are an essential part of the minister's power. The two together are not obliged to win popular admiration, and to make good their title to their places, by spectacular effects from day to day. They can stop without impunity. There is no necessity, there is hardly any temptation, for them to follow a policy of adventure and to run new risks for the purpose of maintaining their greatness. They can confine themselves to preserving and fortifying what has been won, and cultivate peace and repose without dangerous loss of prestige. Yet the question is frequently asked, What will become of the German Empire when the old Kaiser, with his phenomenal popularity, and the old Chancellor, with his phenomenal genius, quit the scene? That question is asked and discussed not without reason. The Kaiser will be followed on the throne by another legitimate "sovereign," who will indeed not inherit the sentimental affection cherished by the people for his predecessor, but who will have the benefit of that hereditary loyalty with which the people regard the reigning dynasty. And so long as Bismarck is chancellor,-that is, so long as he lives, for no new Kaiser will be likely to take the responsibility of displacing him, things will probably continue to run in the accustomed course. But who or what is there to replace Bismarck when he too disappears?
He is a born commander of men, and as such insists upon accomplishing his objects in his own way. He is a born autocrat, and as such
profoundly convinced that his will must prevail. Those who have to work with him are to him not co-workers, but simply instruments. He employs them so long as they promise to be useful. He throws them aside as soon as their usefulness appears exhausted. He cares little, if anything, for what is commonly called polit ical principle. No doubt he is loyal to his sovereign, but not because he unconditionally believes, as a matter of principle, in the divine right of kings; for while he clings with the utmost devotion to the house of Hohenzollern, which represents the strength of Germany, he did not hesitate to drive princes who were just as "legitimate," but who stood in the way of German unity under Prussian leadership, from their thrones and to confiscate their territories. When the constitution of the empire was made, he favored universal suffrage-not because he believed in the principle that the citizen is entitled to active participation in the government, but because he thought that its establishment would be apt to attach the people to the empire, and that, as he had to submit to some sort of representative institution, universal suffrage, embracing the poor as well as the rich, the ignorant as well as the educated, would be most likely to furnish representatives accessible to his influence. He has been a free-trader and a protectionist-not as if he had seen in either free trade or protection a principle consistently to be recognized and adhered to, but because he looked at different times first upon one and then the other as the system most likely to strengthen the country or to array on his side its political forces.
He has no respect for political parties, his policy being to use them each and all as it may temporarily serve his purposes. Before the war of 1866 he appeared identified with the Absolutists, in order to make preparation for the war which was to drive Austria out of the German federation and begin the unification of Germany under Prussian leadership, and for which the Prussian landtag refused to furnish the means. After that war he appeared to side with the Liberals - not as if he had shared their principles or approved of their ultimate aims, but because he depended upon them for the measures required to strengthen the new national organization. Then he turned to the Conservatives for support, because the Liberals aspired to the introduction of parliamentary government, which he thought would weaken the power of the monarch necessary for the defense of the country.
He was a fierce Anti-Clerical, because he feared the influence of the Catholic clergy as a dangerous element of disintegration in the empire. Then he endeavored to win the friendship of the clergy by abandoning some of the
principal features of the Kultur Kampf, and admitted even the friendly interference of the Pope in the elections for the German Reichstag, when he found the continuance of the fight against the Church useless and needed the votes of the clerical party for his military and fiscal measures. Thus he cajoles or rebuffs, attracts or repels, treats as friends or as enemies, each and all political parties in turn as they appear fit or unfit to serve the objects he has in view, trying to form, with each session of the parliament, new combinations of political forces to furnish to the government the necessary majority. The party is, for the time being, that which obeys his will. He accepts the advice only of those who agree with him. To those who differ from him he yields only as much as he must, and then only temporarily, to resume the fight with the same stubborn determination at the next convenient moment until he carries his point. In this manner has Bismarck-achieved his great suc
Such a statesman must needs have certain peculiar advantages to sustain him in power. One of these is a constitutional system which raises him above the control of parliamentary majorities. In this respect Bismarck is situated comfortably enough. As minister of the Prussian crown and as chancellor of the German Empire he is, according to the prevailing constitutional theory, responsible only to the King and Kaiser. His official acts, done in the King's and Kaiser's name, are government acts" of the sovereign, who is responsible only to God. According to this constitutional system, the parliament may pass or defeat bills, grant or withhold supplies, but it cannot drive a minister out of his place by a direct or implied vote of want of confidence. There is no minister living whose measures have been so often defeated in parliament as Bismarck's have been; but, undisturbed, he holds his post, regarding the adverse vote of a parliamentary majority not as a decision, but merely as an adjournment of the struggle.
Still, all these constitutional advantages would not suffice to secure his position did he not possess another and far more potent element of strength. It is not merely his ability as a debater, which, however, although he is not an orator in the ordinary sense, shines the more brilliantly the more difficult the occasion: it is rather that imposing authority acquired by the greatness of his achievements. It is the immense personality which seems to preside over the destinies of the Old World, and which, standing behind what he says and does, overawes the minds of men. Certainly, not a few of his measures of home policy have called forth much well-grounded criticism; his startling po
litical marches and countermarches, the fierce outbursts of his autocratic temper, his undisguised contempt for the principles of parliamentary government, the petty police prosecutions which pursue those who offend him, have deeply irritated many men of liberal views and of self-esteem. Nobody else could have done these things without serious harm to himself. But, in spite of it all, Bismarck's popularity has grown larger from year to year. He can say to his opponents what no one else can say: Remember your resistance to me when I prepared the first blow for German unity. Those who most bitterly denounced me had then to confess that I knew better than they what was good for the Fatherland- that they were wrong and I was right.
This, indeed, does not prove that he is always right; but it goes far to nourish the popular impression that he may be right again, his opponents not knowing it, and that those who are against Bismarck may turn out to be against their country. Thus a large portion of the German people have, under the fascination of this imposing authority, gradually lapsed into the acquiescence of the consciously inferior understanding, trusting that whatever Bismarck may do will be well done. And this condition of things is not now unlikely to last while Bismarck stands at the head of affairs.
But his disappearance will at once reveal the fact that he has no successor. Whoever may follow him will look small in his place. The spell of mysterious superiority will be broken. Bismarck's peculiar power cannot be bequeathed to any one else. His system of policy, if it may so be called, fitted only him. Neither has he suffered to be developed any other system that might take the place of his own. No statesman has been permitted to grow into greatness by his side, nor have parliamentary parties, under his rule, been allowed opportunity to acquire the sense of governmental responsibility. The participation of the representatives of the people in practical government has of late years in Germany rather shrunk than expanded; and yet nothing is more certain than that a determined effort to expand it will be made as soon as the great one-man authority which stands in the way is removed. Germany is full of able men, and a thousand hitherto suppressed ambitions will then make themselves felt. Had they been trained to larger responsibilities, the changes which will inevitably come would probably be easier. It is said that no man is necessary in this world; but Bismarck has been and still is so tremendous a factor in the history of his time, that the uncertainty which his disappearance will leave behind it appears uncommonly obscure.