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quarters of an hour in the major's writing-room. knew that the letters in my possession, if disI was, at the time, in another part of the covered, would send Miss Armfeldt and all the house trying to write up my notes; but Mr. other writers back into prison; would leave Frost was at work upon a crayon portrait of poor, feeble Mrs. Armfeldt alone in a penal the major's children in the drawing-room, off settlement with a new sorrow; and would lead which the writing-room opened. At the first to a careful examination of all my papers, and opportunity after Captain Nikolin's departure thus bring misfortune upon scores of exiles and Mr. Frost came to me in some anxiety and officers in other parts of Siberia who had furwhispered to me that he had accidentally nished me with documentary materials. All overheard a part of the conversation between the rest of that day I was in a fever of anxiety Captain Nikolin and Major Potulof in the and irresolution. I kept, so far as possible, writing-room and that it indicated trouble. out of Major Potulof's way; gave him no It related to my intercourse with the political opportunity to speak to me alone; went to convicts, and turned upon the question of bed early on plea of a headache; and spent a searching our baggage and examining my pa- wretched and sleepless night trying to decide pers and note-books. As Mr. Frost understood upon a course of action. I thought of about a it, Captain Nikolin insisted that such an in- dozen different methods of concealing the letvestigation was proper and necessary, while ters, but concealment would not meet the Major Potulof defended us, deprecated the emergency. If put upon my word of honor I proposed search, and tried to convince the should have to admit that I had them, or else gendarme officer that it would be injudicious lie in the most cowardly and treacherous way. to create such a scandal as an examination of I did not dare to mail them, since all the mail our baggage would cause. The discussion matter from the house passed through Major closed with the significant remark from Niko- Potulof's hands, and by giving them to him I lin that if the search were not made in Kara might precipitate the very inquiries I wished it certainly would be made somewhere else. to avoid. At last, just before daybreak, I deMr. Frost seemed to be much alarmed, and I cided to destroy them. I had no opportunity, was not a little troubled myself
. I did not so of course, to consult the writers, but I felt sure much fear a search,— at least while we re- that they would approve my action if they mained in Major Potulof's house,— but what could know all the circumstances. It was very I did fear was being put upon my word of hard to destroy letters upon which those unhonor by Major Potulof himself as to the fortunate people had hung so many hopes,question whether I had any letters from the letters that I knew would have such priceless political convicts. I thought it extremely prob- value to fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers able that he would come to me at the first in Russia, - but there was nothing else to be opportunity and say to me good-humoredly, done. The risk of keeping them had become “George Ivanovich, Captain Nikolin has dis- too great to be justifiable. covered your relations with the political con- As soon as I had come to a decision, I was victs; he knows that you spent with them the confronted by the question,“ How are the letgreater part of one night, and he thinks that ters to be destroyed ?" Since the discovery of you may have letters from them. He came my secret relations with the political convicts here this morning with a proposition to search I had been more closely watched than ever. your baggage. Of course, as you are my guests, My room had no door that could be closed, but Í defended you and succeeded in putting him was separated from the hall, and from Major off; but I think under the circumstances it is Potulof's sitting-room, merely by a light poronly fair
you should assure me, on your word tière. Its large curtainless window was almost of honor, that you have no such letters." on a level with the ground, and an armed sen
In such an exigency as that I should have to try, who stood night and day at the front endo one of two things — either lie outright, upon trance of the house, could see through it. If i my word of honor, to the man in whose house tore the letters into small bits, they might be I was a guest, or else betray people who had found and pieced together. If I burned them, trusted me, and for whom I had already come the odor of the burning paper would be at to feel sincere sympathy and affection. Either once diffused through the house; and, besides alternative was intolerable — unthinkable- that, I was likely to be caught in the act, either and yet I must decide upon some course of by the sentry, or by Major Potulof himself, action at once. The danger was imminent, and who, on one pretext or another, was constantly I could not bring myself to face either of the coming into my room without knock or analternatives upon
which I should be forced if nouncement. There happened to be in the put upon my word of honor. I might per- room a large brick oven, and about half an haps have had courage enough to run the risk, hour after I got up that morning a soldier came so far as my own papers were concerned, but I in to make a fire in it. The thought at once
occurred to me that by watching for a favorable his trial, the London "Times,” in a column opportunity, when Major Potulof was talking editorial upon his case, said: with Mr. Frost in the sitting-room and the sentry was out of sight, I could throw the letters Our correspondent at St. Petersburg, in a disunobserved into this fire. As I walked out into patch we publish this morning, telegraphs the senthe hall to see that the coast was clear there, I with participation in the Nihilist conspiracy. West
tences passed yesterday on the prisoners charged noiselessly unlatched the iron door of the oven
ern observers can see in these state trials at St. and threw it ajar. Then returning and assuring Petersburg nothing but a shameful travesty of jusmyself that the sentry was not in a position to tice. The whole of these proceedings are an examlook through the window, I tossed the letters ple of the way in which any one can govern by the quickly into the oven upon a mass of glowing aid of a state of siege. Military justice has had, as coals. Five minutes later there was not a trace a rule, the merit of being sharp and sudden, but of them left. I then erased or put into cipher the military justice of the Russian courts has been many of the names of persons in my note-books method and terribly severe in its sentences. . . .
as cruel in its dilatoriness as grossly illogical in its and prepared myself, as well as I could, for a Among the accused who were condemned yestersearch.
day, Dr. Weimar was in every way a man of whom There were two things in my personal ex- his country seemed to have reason to be proud. He perience at the mines of Kara that I now par- is in personal bearing a gallant gentleman. As a ticularly regret, and one of them is the burning physician he has devoted his time and skill to the of these letters. I did not see the political con- service of his suffering countrymen. He is (or was victs again, I had no opportunity to explain till yesterday, for to-day he is a drudge in the deadly to them the circumstances under which I acted, orders, and with the medal for the Turkish war.
mines) decorated with Russian and Roumanian and explanations, even if I could make them, He was with the troops who crossed the Balkans are now, in many cases, too late. Miss Natha- under Gourko -a splendid feat of arms. The charges lie Armfeldt died of prison consumption at against this gentleman, the way in which the case the mines in less than a year after I bade her was got up and pressed, would seem exaggerated in good-bye, and the letters from her that I de- the wildest burlesque. Th ors of injustice stroyed were perhaps the last that she had were never carried so far, if we may trust the an opportunity to write. I was not put upon reports of the trial, by Bunyan's Mr. Justice Hate
Witnesses my word of honor, I was not searched, and good or Rabelais's Grippeminaud.
were brought forward to speak to the character of I might have carried those letters safely to Dr. Weimar. Their testimony was a shower of their destination, as I afterward carried many praises, both as to his moral character and his others.
bravery in war. This was inconvenient for the prosThe other unfortunate thing in my Kara ecution. Supposing the charges against Dr. Weimar experience was my failure to see Dr. Edward true, it would appear that an exemplary citizen so Veimar, one of the most distinguished politi- despaired of the condition of his country that he cal convicts in the free command, who at the conspired with miscreants like Solovioff and aided time of our visit was dying of prison consump- mised that the prosecution would bring evidence to
other dastardly assassins. It might have been surtion. He was a surgeon, about thirty-five years damage the character of the accused, or at least to of age, and resided, before his exile, in a large show that the praise heaped on him was undeserved. house on the Nevski Prospekt near the Admi. Nothing of the sort. The prosecutor said, “Gentleralty Place in St. Petersburg. He was a man men, I could have produced a series of witnesses of wealth and high social position, and was at whose testimony would have been quite the reverse. one time a personal friend of Her Majesty, Unfortunately, all of them are absent.” A military the present Tsaritsa. He was in charge of her court could hardly avoid taking the word of the field hospital throughout the Russo-Turkish whole conception of testimony and justice, are only
presiding general, but the whole proceeding, the war of 1877–78; was made a cavalier of the to be paralleled in the burlesque trial witnessed by order of St. Anne for distinguished services in Alice in Mr. Carroll's fairy tale. . . . No case that campaign; received three or four crosses could bear more direct evidence to the terrible conof honor for gallantry on the field of battle; dition of Russian society and Russian justice. Either and was greatly beloved by General Gourko, a man who seems to have been an exemplary citiwith whom he made the passage of the Bal- zen in other respects was driven by despotism into kans. He was condemned as a revolutionist secret and dastardly treason, or Dr. Weimar is falsely upon the flimsiest possible circumstantial evi- native, if the reports of his trial are correct, that
condemned and unjustly punished. In either alterdence, and, after a year's imprisonment in one trial was a scandal even to military law. of the casemates of the Petropavlovski1 fortress, was sent to the mines of Kara. At the time of The Crown Princess Dagmar (now the Em
press), whose hospital Dr. Veimar had man1 Used as an adjective, the word has the i. The aged during the Russo-Turkish war, took a Russians use the word thus, “ Petropavlovski fortress,”' “ fortress of Petropavlovsk” – in one case with the'i
, deep personal interest in him, and was a firm and in the other without.
believer in his innocence; but even she could not save him. When she came to the throne, received a telegram from Captain Nikolin however, as Empress, in 1881, she sent Colonel briefly announcing his death. Although more Nord to the mines of Kara to see Dr. Veimar than six months had elapsed since that time, and offer him his freedom upon condition that she had heard nothing else. Neither Dr. Veihe give his word of honor not to engage in mar before his death, nor his convict friends any activity hostile to the Government. Dr. after his death, had been permitted to write Veimar replied that he would not so bind to her, and upon me she had hung her last himself while he was in ignorance of the state hopes. How hard it was for me to tell her of affairs under the new Tsar (Alexander III.). that I might have seen him— that I might If the Government would allow him to return have brought her, from his death-bed, one last to St. Petersburg, on parole or under guard, assurance of love and remembrance, but that and see what the condition of Russia then was, I had not done so, the reader can perhaps he would give them a definite answer to their imagine. I have had some sad things to do proposition; that is, he would accept freedom in my life, but I think this was the saddest upon the terms offered, or he would go back duty that ever was laid upon me. to the mines. He would not, however, bind I afterward spent a whole evening with her himself to anything until he had had an op- at her house. She related to me the story of portunity to ascertain how Russia was then Dr. Veimar's heroic and self-sacrificing life, being governed. Colonel Nord had a number read me letters that he had written to her from of interviews with him, and tried in every way battlefields in Bulgaria, and finally, with a face to shake his resolution, but without avail. streaming with tears, brought out and showed
When Mr. Frost and I reached the mines to me the most sacred and precious relic of him of Kara, Dr. Veimar had been released from that she had — a piece of needlework that he prison on a ticket of leave, but was dying of had made in his cell at the mines, and had consumption brought on by the intolerable con- succeeded in smuggling through to her as a ditions of Siberian prison life. The political present and token of remembrance and love. convicts wished and proposed to take me to It was a strip of coarse cloth, such as that used see him the night that I was at Miss Armfeldt's for convict shirts, about three inches wide and house, but they represented him as very weak, nearly fifty feet in length, embroidered from hardly able to speak aloud, and likely at any end to end in tasteful geometrical patterns with moment to die; and after I saw the effect that the coarsest and cheapest kind of colored linen my sudden appearance produced upon Miss thread. Armfeldt and the other politicals who were “Mr. Kennan,” she said to me, trying in vain comparatively well, I shrunk from inflicting to choke down her sobs, "imagine the thoughts upon a dying man, at midnight, such a shock that have been sewn into that piece of emof surprise and excitement. I had occasion broidery!” afterward bitterly to regret my lack of reso- We remained at the mines of Kara four or lution. Dr. Veimar died before I had another five days after our last visit to the house of the opportunity to see him, and six months after- Armfeldts, but as we were constantly under ward, when I returned to St. Petersburg on close surveillance, we could accomplish nothmy way home from Siberia, I received a call ing. All that there is left for me to do, therefrom a cultivated and attractive young woman fore, is to throw into systematic form the into whom, at the time of his banishment, he was formation that I obtained there, and to give, engaged. She had heard that I was in Kara in this and the following paper, a few chapters when her betrothed died, and she had come from the long and terrible history of the Kara to me hoping that I had brought her a letter, penal establishment. 1 or at least some farewell message from him. The Russian Government began sending She was making preparations, in November state criminals to the mines of Kara in small of the previous year, to undertake a journey numbers as early as 1873, but it did not make of four thousand miles alone, in order to join a regular practice of so doing until 1879. him at the mines and marry him, when she Most of the politicals condemned to penal ser
1 Nearly all the statements made in the following his position as governor of the Kara penal establishment pages have been carefully verified, and most of them is still on file in the Ministry of the Interior, and all rest upon unimpeachable official testimony. There may the circumstances of his retirement are known, not only be trilling errors in some of the details, but, in the main, to the political convicts, but to many of the officials with the story of which this is one chapter can be proved, whom I have talked. I regret that I am restrained by even in a Russian court of justice. The facts with re- prudential and other considerations from citing my gard to Colonel Kononovich (Kon-on-oʻvitch) and authorities. I could greatly strengthen my case by his connection with the Kara prisons and mines were showing - as I might show — that I obtained my inobtained partly from political convicts and partly from formation from persons fully competent to furnish it, officials in Kara, Chita (Chee'tah), Irkutsk, and St. and persons whose positions were a sufficient guaranPetersburg. The letter in which Kononovitch resigned tee of impartiality.
vitude before the latter date were held either in the Kara prisons at that time several state in the “ convict section ” of the Petropavlovski criminals who, by order of the gendarmerie fortress at St. Petersburg, or in the solitary-con- and as a disciplinary punishment, had been finement cells of the Central Convict Prison chained to wheelbarrows.2 Colonel Kononoat Kharkoff. As the revolutionary movement, vich could not bear to see men of high charhowever, grew more and more serious and wide- acter and education subjected to so degrading spread, and the prisons of European Russia and humiliating a punishment; and although became more and more crowded with political he could not free them from it without authoroffenders, the Minister of the Interior began to ity from St. Petersburg, he gave directions that transfer the worst class of hard-labor state they should be released from their wheelcriminals to the mines of Kara, where they were barrows whenever he made a visit of inspection imprisoned in buildings intended originally for to the prison, so that at least he should not be common felons.1 In December, 1880, there compelled to see them in that situation. The were about fifty political convicts in the Kara humane disposition and sensitiveness to human prisons, while nine men who had finished their suffering of which this is an illustration charterm of probation were living outside the prison acterized all the dealings of Colonel Kononowalls in little huts and cabins of their own. vich with the political convicts; and so long Most of the male prisoners were forced to go as he was permitted to treat them with reasonwith the common felons to the gold placers; able kindness and consideration he did so treat but as the hours of labor were not unreasona- them, because he recognized the fact that their bly long, they regarded it as a pleasure and a life was hard enough at best. Late in the privilege, rather than a hardship, to get out of year 1880, however, the Minister of the Interior the foul atmosphere of their prison cells and began to issue a series of orders intended, apwork six or eight hours a day in the sunshine parently, to restrict the privileges of the state and the open air.
criminals and render their punishment more The officer in command of the Kara penal severe. They were forbidden, in the first place, establishment at that time was Colonel Kon- to have any written communication whatever onovich, a highly educated, humane, and sym- with their relatives. To such of them as had pathetic man, who is still remembered by many wives, children, fathers, or mothers in Euroa state criminal in Eastern Siberia with grati- pean Russia this of itself was a terrible as tude and respect. He was not a revolutionist, well as an unjustifiable privation. Then they nor was he in sympathy with revolution; but were forbidden to work in the gold placers, he recognized the fact that many of the politi- and were thus deprived of the only opporcal convicts were refined and cultivated men tunity they had to see the outside world, to and women, who had been exasperated and breathe pure, fresh air, and to strengthen and frenzied by injustice and oppression, and that invigorate their bodies with exercise. Finally, although their methods might be ill-judged about the middle of December, 1880, the and mistaken, their motives, at least, were dis- governor received an order to abolish the interested and patriotic. He treated them, free command, send all its members back into therefore, with kindness and consideration, prison, half shave their heads, and put them and lightened so far as possible for every one again into chains and leg-fetters.3 Colonel of them the heavy burden of life. There were Kononovich regarded this order as unneces
1 The political prison was not in existence at that chef, and Shchedrin. The last of them was not time, and the state criminals were distributed among released until 1884. Whether or not any have been the common-criminal prisons, where they occupied thus punished since that time I do not know. what were called the “secret ”or solitary-confinement 3 All of these orders were issued while the liberal cells. At a somewhat later period an old detached Loris Melikof was Minister of the Interior, and I have building in Middle Kara was set apart for their accom- never been able to get any explanation of the inmodation, and most of them lived together there in a consistency between his general policy towards the single large kamera. They were treated in general like Liberal party and his treatment of condemned state common convicts, were required to work every day in criminals. Some of the officials whom I questioned in the gold placers, and at the expiration of their term of Siberia said without hesitation it was the minister's inprobation were released from confinement and enrolled tention to make the life of the political convicts harder ; in the free command.
while others thought that he acted without full informa2 This is a punishment still authorized by law, and tion and upon the assumption that modern politicals one still inflicted upon convicts who are serving out life were no more deserving of sympathy than were the sentences. The prisoner is fastened to a small miner's Decembrists of 1825. The Decembrist conspirators wheelbarrow by a chain, attached generally to the although high nobles - were harshly treated, therefore middle link of his leg-fetter. This chain is long enough Nihilists should be harshly treated. Many of the politito give him some freedom of movement, but he cannot cal exiles whom I met in Siberia regarded Melikof's walk for exercise, nor cross his cell, without trundling professions of sympathy with the liberal and reforming his wheelbarrow before him. Even when he lies down party as insincere and hypocritical; but my own imto sleep, the wheelbarrow remains attached to his pression is that he acted in this case upon somebody's feet. Four politicals have been chained to wheel. advice, without giving the matter much thought or barrows at Kara, namely: Popeko, Berezniuk, Fomi. consideration.
sarily and even brutally severe, and tried in leaving their wives and children alone and unevery way to have it rescinded or modified. protected in a penal settlement, some of them His efforts, however, were unavailing, and on were broken in health and could not expect the 28th of December he called the members to live long in the close confinement of a of the free command together, read the order prison kamera, and all of them looked forto them, told them that he had failed to ob- ward with dread to the chains, leg-fetters, foul tain any modification of it, and said that he air, vermin, and miseries innumerable of prison would, on his own personal responsibility, allow life. them three days more of freedom in which to In the free command was living at this settle up their domestic affairs. On the morn- time a young lawyer, thirty-three years of age, ing of January 1, 1881, they must report at the named Eugene Semyonofski (Sem-yon'ofprison. To all the members of the free com- skee). He was the son of a well-known surmand this order was a terrible blow. For two geon in Kiev, and had been condemned to years they had been living in comparative penal servitude for having been connected in freedom in their own little cabins, many of some way with the “underground "revolutionthem with their wives and children, who had ary journal “Onward.” He was a man of high made a journey of five thousand miles across character and unusual ability, had had a uniSiberia in order to join them. At three days' versity training, and at the time of his arrest warning they were to be separated from their was practicing law in St. Petersburg. After families, sent back into prison, and put again four or five years of penal servitude at the into chains and leg-fetters. Some of them were mines his health gave way, and in 1879 he was
Vol. XXXVIII.- 69.