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than one quarter of the population, you have twelve thousand criminal convictions every year. The evils of which General Koznakoff complains are precisely those which would never arise if the facts corresponded to the English notion. So little limitation is placed upon the liberty of our convicts that numbers escape. In Tobolsk, in January, 1876, out of 51,122 exiles only 34,293 could be found. In Tomsk nearly five thousand were missing out of thirty thousand. The great mischief of our system of pitchforking convicts into Siberia, and telling them to do what they please, is that very few of them take to honest labor. The country is so rich that they can live without hard work, and they become idle, goodfor-nothing vagabonds. It is an easy way of getting rid of convicts, but it is not good for Siberia. M. Koznakoff, the Governor-General, declares that millions are spent in governing them without there being the slightest return for the expenditure in the shape of private or public works. Since 1870 about four thousand persons a year have been exiled for "offenses against the administration," some of whom, of course, are political offenders. But no mistake could be greater than to suppose that all these political offenders were sent to the quicksilver-mines. For the most part they are left free to do as they please in certain districts, subject to police surveillance. As to the quicksilver-mines, they are solely reserved for murderers and political criminals of the worst kind-people many of whom in England you would have hanged off-hand. But, as we have abolished capital punishment, we must do something with our murderers, etc., so we send them to the mines.
Of course, there may be great abuses in our establishments—I wish I could deny that—just as there were in New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land before you discontinued transportation. I admit injustice and mistakes on the part of our authorities—authorities are not infallible. But you would be wise in not accepting implicitly every libel told against us by Polish rebels. A few months ago a friend sent me a report of the most dreadful cruelties which a Fenian prisoner said he had suffered in your convict-prisons. Believe me, our Poles, when instigated by their father confessors, are not behind your Fenians in the compilation of a catalogue of horrors. If merely Russophobes attacked us I would not make even the shortest reply. But the minds of some of our friends are evidently put out of ease with these horrible legends, and I do not like to strengthen our enemies' hands by refraining from stating the truth.
If it is complained that "I idealize even Siberia," I may quote from an article embodying the results of "Recent Exploration of the Siberian
Coast," by Captain Wiggins, the adventurous explorer of the Arctic regions, whose enterprise in opening up a trade route by sea to Siberia has attracted much attention in Russia. As the testimony of an independent witness, I make the following extract: Captain Wiggins has had many opportunities during his visits of thoroughly studying the system of exile from other parts of the Russian Empire, which is such a prominent subject in connection with Siberia, and, like others who have personally investigated it, he has arrived at conclusions very different from those popularly entertained. The captain declares that not one third of these time-service exiles elect to make the return journey to their former homes; they find that life is easier and pleasanter in the land to which they have been forcibly sent, and they end by becoming free settlers in the country of their adoption. Desperate criminals only are sent to labor in the quicksilver-mines, and for these there is a specially severe discipline provided, and 'horrors, without doubt, exist.""
The explorer goes on to say, for many years past the desire of the Russian Government has been to forward, by all means in their power, the settlement of this portion of their territory, and they have learned that it is good policy to take the utmost possible care of the lives of the exiles, and to place them in the best possible positions for self-maintenance at the earliest opportunity. With the exception of the robbers and cutthroats specially condemned to the mines, the exiles are spread about in the towns and agricultural districts soon after their arrival, and, as a rule, they are left to shift for themselves. The supervision over them is slight, but tolerably effectual. The exiles, when quitting for any length of time the district to which they are assigned, must report their project to the head man, and they are then at liberty to go where they please, up or down the great river systems of the country, but, they must not attempt to pass westward toward European Russia. A great number of the Russian exiles and immigrants employ themselves in the mines, and Captain Wiggins's experience of the people convinces him that they are 'a happy, rollicking, joyous community-well clad, well fed, and well cared for." During the summer months they are able to earn sufficient money to provide for the wants of their respective households; in the long winter, and the commencement of the cold season, when they visit the town to make their purchases, is generally a time of high festivity among them. Captain Wiggins declares that some exiles are now settled in the north by the Russian Government, which, in this
* From an article published on November 21, 1878,
by the "Newcastle Chronicle," the organ, I am told, of one of the most prejudiced of English Russophobes.
particular kind of banishment, undertakes certain responsibilities with regard to the maintenance of the convicts. Supplies of rye-meal are, in the summer season, forwarded to the farthest northern limits where the head men are appointed. These officials dispense the stores, during the winter, on a sort of credit system, to such exiles (or even families of the native tribes) as may need it, and in the succeeding summer the indebted parties must liquidate the cost price of the food they have received in furs, skins, or dried fish.
Captain Wiggins, unlike most writers on Russian questions, has visited Siberia and seen the country with his own eyes. It was, therefore, but natural that his evidence should be favorable. More surprising and unexpected is the testimony as to the falsity of the prevailing prejudices which appeared in November, 1879, in the Conservative "Standard," entitled "The Future of Siberia." It really is encouraging to find such truthful remarks as the following in the columns of a Ministerial organ:
Siberia, to the mind of Europe, is associated with nothing but horror. One connects it with the crack of Bashkir Cossack's whip, with the groans of wretched exiles dying-or, worse still, living-in the mines of Nertchinsk, and with cold and misery. In reality these ideas, though firmly imbedded in the English mind, are altogether erroneous if they are to be accepted as true of Siberia at large or of the state of matters in that country at present. The truth is, Siberia is a country of such extent that no general description can apply to all of it, and even when the accounts which have reached Europe have been true, which in the vast number of cases they were not, they related only to the northern part of the territory. Siberia is an infinitely richer and finer country than Canada or the northern part of America generally. Though the Polish exiles and others of a literary turn have, not unnaturally, given it a bad name, they have allowed their own sufferings to color their narrative. In Siberia the Russian peasant can get the "black earth" soil, and he escapes, under certain conditions, the military service. Doubtless the "unfortunates," who are sent on an average at the rate of thirteen thousand per annum to the penal colonies of Siberia, are not pampered to any alarming extent. But that they are nowadays treated with the severity they were in the times of Peter, Catharine, Paul, and even Nicholas, is entirely untrue. Indeed, since the accession of the present Czar, who in early life visited the penal settlements, the bureaucrats' complaint is, that so mild has the punishment of expatriation become that Siberia is losing its terrors. It is, indeed, the locality into which the Russian jails are annually emptied, and an offender is sent to that country who would in any other be simply sentenced to a few years' imprisonment. In the vast number of cases exile to Siberia is a very different matter from what banishment to Tasmania or New South Wales used to be. In the first place, as a
rule, the Russian convicts go from a bad climate to a better, and are in such good company that the disgrace of transportation gets much modified. Only the third class-criminals of the deepest dye-work in the mines. These mines are, however, not all underground; they may consist of gold-washeries, or the exile may be set to the almost pleasurable excitement of searching for gems. At one time the worst class of convicts-usually murderers and particularly offensive politicians-were not only compelled to work underground, but they had to live there, and— horrible thought !-were buried there also. No wonder that Siberia got a bad name. But not over one fourth of the Siberian miners are convicts, and a recent explorer is even of opinion that the latter are in better circumstances physically, and lead quite as comfortable and more moral lives than the corresponding class of free men in America, England, or Australia. Society in the large towns is pleasant and polished. Banishment to Siberia has been overdone, and thus the mischief is righting itself by the natural law of compensation. It has long ceased to be a disgrace; it is rapidly ceasing to be a punish
No country in the world, except, perhaps, the valleys of the Amazon and the Mississippi, has such a perfect system of water communication as Siberia. The rich meadows near the mouth of the Yenisei, even though far within the Arctic Circle, astonished the Norwegian walrus-hunters who accompanied Professor Nordenskjöld. “What a land God has given the Russians!" was the half-admiring, half-envious exclamation of a peasant seaman who owned a little patch among the uplands in the Scandinavian Nordland. Yet these few pastures are uncropped and unscythed. The river has good coal-beds and fine forests, and, south of the forest region, level, stoneless plains, covered for hundreds of leagues with the richest "black earth" soil, only wanting the plow of the farmer to yield abundant harvests. Still farther south the river flows through a region where the vine grows in the open air. Altogether, it is believed that, by the expenditure of about one hundred thousand pounds, the Yenisei could be made navigable, though its tributary, the Angora, on the Lake Baikal —an inland sea not much smaller than Lake Superior—and the Obi could be connected with the Yenisei, and the Yenisei with the Lena.
Leaving out of account the numerous other Siberian rivers, all more or less navigable, a country could be thus thrown open equal to the combined territories of all the rivers which flow into the Black Sea, the Sea of Marmora, and the Mediterranean. Yet from these rivers flowing into the Arctic Ocean, so cheap is produce in their valleys, one of which con tains over two millions of people, that Captain Wiggins ballasted his ship with black-lead of fine quality. The valleys are full of the most magnificent timber, larch, spruce, etc., which is so little in demand that at the town of Yeniseisk a ship's mast thirty-six inches in diameter at the base, eighteen inches in diameter at the top, and sixty feet long, can be bought for a sovereign, and any number supplied in a
few days; beef costs two and a half pence per pound, and game of all kinds may be got in such abundance as to render mere living cheap enough. So abundant are corn and hay on the great steppes between Tomsk and Tjumen that horses are hired for one halfpenny per mile. A ton of salt, which costs in England fifteen shillings, is sold on the Yenisei for fifteen pounds; and wheat, which commands fifteen or sixteen pounds a ton in London, may be got in any quantity for twenty-five shillings per ton. To use
A SWISS NOVELIST.
OW many, we wonder, of the crowds of tourists who annually flock to the "playground of Europe," know more of its people than can be learned in the conventional tour and in the salons of monster hotels? Does one person in ten concern himself to inquire into the Constitution and politics of this country? Has it ever occurred to one person in twenty to find out whether Switzerland boasts a contemporary literature? A few may recollect the fierce war waged between Bodmer and Breitinger and the pedantic German Gottsched concerning the respective merits of English and French literature which called forth the critical powers of Lessing. The names of Zimmermann, Lavater, the Gessners, Pestalozzi, Sulzer, Orelli, may linger in their memories, but who among them has read Jeremias Gotthelf? Better still, who has read Gottfried Keller? We venture to say not one in a hundred of those who have traversed the length and breadth of Keller's green Fatherland, have climbed its most inaccessible peaks, and "done" all its regulation sights. It is true that Switzerland is not rich in native literature; it has inspired far more than it has produced. It possesses now, however, a writer of such undoubted originality that he deserves to be known beyond the narrow limits of his native land. In Germany Keller's fame has been steadily on the increase, and, indeed, she would gladly claim him for her own. But, although Keller has been indirectly influenced by German writers, his most marked characteristic consists in his being a Switzer of the Swiss. It will be our endeavor in this paper to give some idea of this remarkable writer-no easy task, since Keller is peculiarly intangible, his excellences needing to be felt, being often too subtile for words.
the words of Mr. Seebohm, "a colossal fortune awaits the adventurer who is backed by sufficient capital, and a properly organized staff, to carry on a trade between this country and Siberia, via the Kara Sea." To-day a fresh market for the disposal of our manufactures is as much required as it was three centuries ago. Here in "frozen Siberia "-miscalled —is a field richer than Central Africa, and about as little cultivated as Corea, waiting his energy and his knowledge.
In the early part of this century literature revived in Switzerland from a prolonged lethargy. This revival is partly attributable to the influx of Germans driven from home by political troubles. These Germans brought with them much solid
learning and much genuine enthusiasm for literature, and settling, in great part, near the University of Zurich, they exercised a marked influence upon the younger Swiss generation. The result was the production of much mediocre and inadequate literary work; but a few stars arose, and among them one of the first magnitude, namely, Gottfried Keller. Keller was born in Zurich, July 19, 1819. His father, a master carpenter, died while he was an infant, leaving his widow and child in straitened means. After passing through the prescribed school routine, Keller turned to landscape-painting, then his foremost bent, and for this end went to Munich, where art flourished under the eccentric patronage of King Ludwig. Not achieving anything really good, with a wisdom as excellent as it is rare, he abandoned art, returned to Zurich (1842), and occupied himself with literary studies. In 1846 he published a small volume of lyrics, thoughtful and earnest in character, but rising to no heights of lyrical passion, and appealing more to the phantasy than to the emotions. The volume met with a fair success, and Keller continued to study. After a while he perceived that under this autodidactic method he did not advance sufficiently. He therefore went, in 1848, to the University of Heidelberg, passing on to Berlin in 1850, where his first prose work was published. In 1861 he was chosen Staatsschreiber (secretary) to the Canton of Zurich, and a member of the Great Council-i. e., a member of that body to whom in the larger cantons the people delegates its sovereignty. From this post Keller only retired three years ago, to devote himself solely to literature, for which his official duties had left little time. He does not himself think that this occupation with bureaucratic minutiæ did him harm, and it is again characteristic of his perfect mental salubrity that he should have preferred for many years to fill a small post in his native city to living upon the produce of his imaginative gifts. He says that it taught him
the discipline which is lacking in the "Grüne Heinrich," and that when he was able to resume literature he stepped out into it again with a fresh eye and brain; that it is good for an imaginative writer to lean upon reality, in whatever shape. What he hates in philosophy is materialism, in politics the compromise known as Liberal-Conservative, in religion all Jesuitry. What he worships is the true and guileless. His is a childlike nature, receptive to all beautiful influences, and reproducing them without effort and without introspection. He loves the simple, grand landscape, the gold-green meadows and glittering glaciers of his native land, and sings to Nature—
"Doch bin ich immer Kind geblieben Wenn ich zu Dir ins Freie kam."
And, of this native land he is a faithful son, owning its idiosyncrasies in fullest measure. He is simple, strong, concrete, unsentimental, yet not devoid of feeling. The granite of his Alps brings forth men of granite, powerful and rugged, yet sound to the core. Such a man is he, and such live in his books. In confining his imagination to Switzerland, Keller has an advantage over his German colleagues. In Switzerland social and political conditions are simpler, and hence more tangible. A true democracy, consisting mainly of peasants and members of the lower-middle class, there do not arise any of those complicated social perplexities that vex aristocratic nations. Men stand closer to each other, yet there is less jostling and crowding; conventionalities such as ours do not exist; within certain limits of distance everybody is known to everybody; and, as the aims of life are uniform and more elemental, everybody understands everybody. As herdsmen and tillers of the earth the landfolk derive their subsistence. They are thus kept in contact with nature, and do not lose sight of the realities of existence, are not blinded and smothered by the artificialities of civilization. Nor as a rule are they restless. The son continues to cut hay from his grandsire's acres. Among such a people traditions survive through all outward changes. At no time have these greatly affected Switzerland, which remained singularly untouched by the passing away of the old order in Europe. Patriotism, deep-seated love for their mountainous home, is for them no new emotion dating from yesterday. Hence, the air not being so full of doctrines and systems as in Germany, a Swiss novelist stands on firmer ground. He deals with a homely nation of a certain slow persistency of character, who form a sober commonwealth of practical persons, devoid of romanticism, whose aspirations do not arise beyond the preservation and increase of their goods and chattels. But, if all
ideal flights, all imaginative subtilties, are lacking, whimsical, eccentric, angular characters flourish in this confined soil. Of this community Keller has constituted himself the chronicler, and, sharing most markedly many of its characteristics, he has both consciously and unconsciously reproduced these in a series of inimitable romances.
Yet to Keller's first production, “ Der grüne Heinrich," these remarks do not altogether apply. Nothing that Keller ever penned is imitative, even his first-born is sui generis, and springs from a fancy that has been unbiased and unrestrained. It is a strange work, full of glaring faults of construction; capricious, unequal, an incongruous medley, which nevertheless contains so many beauties that we can not lay it down unsatisfied, for it is full of that ineffable youthful fire of a first effort which carries the reader over many a rugged path. The book, published in 1854, called forth much criticism and discussion, a sure sign that it had aroused interest; but it did not become popular, and can not be so any more than “Wilhelm Meister," with which it is held to have some points in common. These are, however, very superficial. It is at least a complete story, which the other is not. The resemblance begins and ends in the circumstance that both relate the mental development of their heroes. Keller's romance is a medley of truth and fiction, the autobiographical part telling of his own struggles as an artist. The hero is called "green" because of the color of his coats, but we also trace a symbolical meaning in this appellation, namely, that we are dealing with an unripe nature. It is the history of an irresponsibly contemplative character working itself out to maturity. Having completed his school studies, Heinrich attempts landscape-painting, and goes astray in various false schools. He then turns to science, where his ideality is rudely shaken by the materialistic views presented to him. Unable to find a solid basis, he wastes his time with boon companions, gets into debt, eats up his widowed mother's savings, and finally sets off on foot to return to his native Switzerland, a On his road he is mental and moral failure. entertained by a count whom he had known in better days. Here he meets with hospitality and the graces of life, falls in love, and is raised again mentally and physically. He then bethinks him of his mother, whom he has cruelly neglected, sets off for Zurich, and arrives in time to attend her funeral. This so shocks him, his errors rise so vividly before him, that he dies too. The end is clumsy, and open to sharp censure. It offends against all artistic canons, and leaves an unpleasant, harsh impression. Was it for this, we ask ourselves, that Heinrich suffered and made
others suffer and sacrifice themselves for him, in order that he should die just when his strangely commingled nature had come to an harmonious issue, and has forced its way through the hampering inclosure?
The best portion of this work is the hero's autobiography, which occupies two out of the four volumes, and deals with his childhood. We follow the development of an observant, silent, introspective child, endowed with a poet's nature, lacking stability of purpose, full of phantasy and intensity of emotion, with good and evil impulses struggling for mastery. And as background to the whole, Zurich with its lovely lake, and the country around, with its snowy mountains, its green swards, its purling streams, and its chalets. In none of his later writings has Keller so keenly reproduced the atmosphere of Switzerland, or told us as much of its national life and customs. The descriptions of landscape are full of intense sympathy with nature, of a semi-mystical and pantheistic kind, reminding of Wordsworth's treatment, but more simple and unaffected, because more unconscious, than the poet's method. But these descriptions are not the only exquisite thing in the work. The episode of Heinrich's childish innocent love for a young girl, Anna, recalls Longus's “Daphnis and Chloe' in its delicacy of narrative and treatment. The continuation of Heinrich's life-story is not so good; the author has lost sight of perspective, he grows too didactic, the narrative is too often interrupted by disquisitions. These are frequently excellent in themselves, and sometimes necessitated by the current of the story, but proportion has not been observed. Our author allows his pen to meander, the maxims and reflections do not always apply to the particular case. At last our conception of Heinrich grows confused amid this extraneous matter, and he disappears from our grasp into a nebulous dreamland. There is a casual air about the whole which destroys its epic character. It is a grave novel, strong in just those points to which the ordinary novelreader is, as a rule, indifferent. It is best characterized as a serious character-study, a psychological investigation of the most secret folds of the human heart, the analysis of an artistic nature that withdraws from customs and rules of ordinary life, and finds the laws for its conduct in its inner self. In every point the "Grüne Heinrich" is a first attempt, and at once stamped its creator as a bizarre, or what Mr. Bagehot would call "an irregular and unsymmetrical, writer," endowed with idiosyncrasy and ability.
But "Die Leute von Seldwyla" is the work that founded Keller's fame. It is a series of novelettes that may be classified as peasant-stories, though they differ markedly from the labors of
Auerbach or Gotthelf on the same domain, steering between the sentimentalisms and unrealities of the former and the bare prose of peasant-life as represented by the latter. While all the scenes and incidents are somewhat remote from real life, with its hot, busy strife, they are yet true to nature. Only the every-day vulgarities and commonplace elements do not thrust themselves into notice. Keller mingles ideality with the inflexible necessity of material things, the plummet of reality may be sunk into his depths, but a moonlit atmosphere suffuses the surface.
Seldwyla is a fictitious town, a sort of Swiss Abdera. It is supposed to be still surrounded by its old fortifications, and remains the same quiet spot it was three hundred years ago. Its founders can never have meant it should come to much good, for they pitched it a full half-hour from any navigable river. But it is charmingly situated, in the midst of green hills open to the south, a fair wine ripens around its walls, while higher up the hills stretch boundless forests, the rich property of the commune. For this is one of the peculiarities of Seldwyla, that the commune is rich and the citizens are poor, in such a manner that no one in Seldwyla knows on what they have lived for centuries. And yet they live, and right merrily too, and are very critical concerning the ways of others if they quit their native town. The glory and nucleus of this little town consists of their young men of twenty to thirty-six, who give the tone in Seldwyla society and rule the roast. During these years they conduct their business by letting others do their work while they run into debt, an art the Seldwylers practice with a grace and good humor peculiar to themselves. When they have passed this age, and have lost all credit, they find it needful to begin life at the time when others are just taking firm root. Then they either enter foreign service and fight for strange tyrants, or go forth in search of adventures; and a Seldwyler is always to be recognized by the fact that he understands how to make himself comfortable in any latitude. Those who remain at home work at things they have never learned, and become the most industrious people possible. Timber there is enough and to spare, so that the very poorest are maintained by the commune from the produce of its wood-sales. And in this rotation the little people has gone on for centuries, remaining always contented and cheerful. If money is scarce or a shadow hangs over their souls, they cheer themselves by getting up political agitations, a further characteristic of the Seldwylers. For they are passionate partisans, constitution-menders, and agitators, and when their delegate at the Great Council brings forward some specially insane motion, or when the cry goes forth from Seldwyla that the con