The Exile in Siberia

From The Libertarian Labyrinth
Jump to: navigation, search
This page contains raw, unedited text or incomplete listings.
The Libertarian Labyrinth is going through a series of upgrades and changes.
Until then, please pardon our dust.


[475] It is not in vain that the word katorga (hard labour) has received so horrible a meaning in the Russian language, and has become synonymous with the most awful pains and sufferings. 'I cannot bear any longer this katorjnaya life,' this life of moral and physical sufferings, of infamous insults and pitiless persecutions, of pains beyond man's strength, say those who are brought to despair before attempting to put an end to their life by suicide. It is not in vain that the word katorga has received this meaning, and all those who have seriously inquired into the aspects of hard labour in Siberia have come to the conclusion that it really corresponds to a popular conception. I have already described the journey which leads to the katorga. Let us see now what are the conditions of the convicts in the bard-labour colonies and prisons of Siberia.

Some fifteen years ago, nearly all those 1,500 people who were condemned every year to bard labour were sent to Eastern Siberia. One part of them was employed at the silver, lead, and gold mines of the Nertchinsk district, or at the iron works of Petrovsk (not far from Kiakhta) and Irkutsk, or at the salt works of Usolie and Ust-Kut; a few were employed at a drapery in the neighbourhood of Irkutsk, and the remainder were sent to the gold mines, or rather gold washings, of Kara, where they were bound to dig out the traditional 'hundred poods' (3,200 lbs.) of gold for the ' Cabinet of his Majesty,' that is, for the personal purse of the Emperor. The honible tales of subterranean work in the silver and lead mines, under the most abominable conditions, under the whips of overseers who compelled each ten men to accomplish a. work that would be hard even for double this number; of convicts working in the darkness, charged with heavy chains and riveted to barrows; of people dying from the poisonous emanations of the mines; of prisoners flogged to death, or dying under five and six thousand strokes of the rod, by order of traditional monsters like Rozguildeeff—all these tales, well known everywhere, are not tales due to the fancy of imaginative writers, they are true historical records of a sad reality.

And they are not tales of a remote past, for such were the conditions [476] of hard labour in the Nertehinsk mining district no farther back than twenty-five years ago. They might be told by men still in life.

More than that, many, very many, features of this horrible past have been maintained until our own times.<ref> The Kutomara and Alexandrovsk silver mines have always been renowned for their insalubrity, on account of the arsenical emanations from the ore; not only men, but also cattle, suffered from them, and it is well known that the inhabitants of these villages were compelled, for this reason, to raise their ;roung cattle in neighbouring villages. As to the quicksilver emanations, everyone who has consulted any serious work on the Nertchinsk mining district knows that the ailver ore of these mines is usually accompanied with cinnabar-especia.lly in the mines of Shakhtama and Kultuma, both worked out by convict s who were poisoned by mercurial emanationsand that attempts to get mercury from these mines have been made several times by the Government. The Akatuy silver mines of the same district have always had the most dreadful reputation for their unhealthiness.</ref> Everyone in Eastern Siberia knows of the terrible scurvy epidemics wh~ch broke out at the Kara gold mines in 18:;7, when-according to official reports perused by M. Maximoff-no less than 1,000 convicts out of some 17,000 died in the course of one summer, and the cause of the epidemics is a seeret to nobody; it is well known that the authorities, having perceived that they would be unable to dig out the traditional hundred poods of gold, caused the convicts to work without rest, above their strength, until some fell dead in the mines. And much later 00, in 1873, have we not seen again a similar epidemic, due to similar causes, breaking out in the Yeniseisk district, and sweeping away hundreds of lives at once? The places• of torture, the proceedings were slowly modified, but the very essence of hard labour has remained the same, and the word katorga has still maintained its horrible meaning. During the last twenty years the system of hard labour has undergone some modification. The richer silver mines of the Nertcbinsk mining district have been worked out; instead of enriching every year' the Cabinet of the Emperor' with 220 to 280 fJoods of silver (7,000 to 9,000 lbs.), as it was before, they yielded but five to seven poodB (150 to 210 Ibs.) in 1860 to 1863, and they were abandoned. As to the gold washings, the mining authorities succeeded about the .:Same time in convincing the Cabinet that there were no more gold washings worth being worked in the dtstrict; and the Cabinet

abandoned the district to private e.terprise, reserving for the Crown

-only the mines on the Kaifj.iv~r,"'a~ributary of the Shilka (of course rich mines, well known belore, were' discovered' by private persons immediately after the promulgation of the law). The Government -was thus compelled to find some other kind of employment for the -convicts, and to modify to a certain extent the whole system of hard •labour. The central prisoDs in Russia, of which I have given a description in a preceding paper, were invented; and, before being [477] sent to Siberia, the hard-labour convicts remain now in these prisons for about one-third of the duratioll of their ~entence. I "have described the hOrrible treatment to which they are submitted. The number of these sufferers, for whom even the horrible katorga in Siberia appears &s a relief, is about 5,000. As to the eighteen to nineteen hundred hard-labour convicts who are transported every year to Siberia, they are submitted to different kinds of treatment. A certain number of them (2,700 to 3,000) are looked up in the hard-labour prisons of Western and Eastern Siberia; whilst the remainder are transported, either to fhe Kara gold washings, or to the salt works of Usolie and Ust-Kut, or to the coal mines on the Sakhalin Island. The few mines and works of the Crown in Siberia being, however, unable to employ the nearly 10,000 convicts condemned to hard labour, a novel expedient ,vas invented, in renting the convicts to private owner~ of gold washings. It is easy to perceivethat the punishment of convicts belonging to the same hard-labourcategory can be thus varied to an immense degree, depending oa the caprice of the authorities, and a good deal on the length of the• purse of the convict. He may be killed under the plete8 at Kara Ot Ust-Kut, as also he may comfortably live at the private gold mine ot• some friend, as 'overseer of works,' and be aware of bis l"emoval to• Siberia only by the long delay in receiving news from his Russian... friends. • Leaving aside, however, these exceptional favours and a variety ox Bubdivisions of less importance, the hard-labour convicts in Siberia can, be classified under three great categories: those who are kept in. prison; those who are employed at the gold mines of the Imperial Cabinet or of private persons; and those who are employed at the salt works. The fate of the first is very much like the fate of thoRe who are locked up in central prisons in Russia. The Siberian gaoler may smoke a pipe, instead of a cigar, wben flogging his inmates; he may make use of lasbes, instead of birch rods, and flog the convicts wben his soup is spoiled, whilst the Russian gaoler's bad temper depends upon an unsuccessful hunting: the results for the convicts are the same. In Siberia, as in Russia, a gaoler' who pitilessly Hogs ) is substituted by a gaoler' who gives free play to his own fists and steals the last coppers of the prisoners;' and an bonest man, if he is occasionally nominated as the head of a bard-labour prison, will ROon be dismissed, or expelled from an administration where honest men are a nuisance. The fate of those 2,000 convicts who are employed at the Kara. gold mines is not better. Twenty years ago the official reports represented the prison at Upper Kara as an old, weather-worn logwood building, erected on a swampy ground, and impregnated with the filthiness accumulated by long generations of overcrowded convicts. 478 THE NINETEEllTH OENTURY: March They concluded tllat it ought to be pulled'down at once; but the same foul and rotten building continues to shelter the convicts until now; and, even during M. KOD9novitch's reasonable rule, it was said to be whitewashed only four times each year. It is always filled up to double its cubical capacity, and the inmates sleep on two storeys of platforms, as also on the floor that is covered with a thick sheet of sticky filth, their wet and nasty clothes being mattresses and coverings at once. So it was twenty years ago; so it is DOW. The chief prison of the Kara gold washings, the Lower Kara, was de. scribed by M. Maximoff in 1863, and by the official documents I perused, as a rotten nasty building where wind and snow freely penetrate. So it is described again by my friends. The Middle Kara prison was restored a few years ago, but it soon became as filthy as the two others. For six to eight months, out of twelve, the convicts remain in these prisons without any occupation; and it is quite sufficient, I imagine, to mention this circumstance to suggest what vices are taught in these prisons, and all the demoralisation of character that results from this confinement. Let those who wish to study the moral influence of Russian prisons on their inmates peruse ~the remarkable psychological studies by Dostoevsky, MM. ~laximoff, _Lvofl', and 80 many others. The work at the gold washings is altogether very hard. True, it is carried on aboveground; deep excavations being made in the alluvium of the valley, to extract the gold-bearing mud and sands, which ..are tmnsported in cars to the gold-washing machine. But it is most unhealthy and difficult work. The bottom of the excavation is always below the level of the river, which flows at a certain height in an ,.,artificial channel to the machine; and therefore it is always covered to a certain depth with the water which is leaking through its walls, not to speak of the icy water which flows everywhere down the walls, .aB the frozen mud thaws under the hot rays of the SUD. The pumps ~are usually insufficient, and 80 (I write from my own experience) people are working throughout the day in an icy water that covers their feet to the knees, and sometimes to the stomach; and, when returned to the prison, the convict obviously has nothing to change his wet dress for: he sleeps on it. It is true that the same work is done under the same conditions, by thousands of free working-men, on the private gold washings. But it is well known that the owners . of gold washings in Siberia would have no hands for their mines if the enlistment of workmen were not practised in the same way as were the enlistments for the armies in the seventeenth century. The engagements are always made in a drunken state and in exchange for large sums of hand-money, which pass immediately to the pockets of the publioans. As to the settled exiles-the pOBelentBy-whose starving army furnishes the largest contingent of workmen for the 1884 THE EXILE IN SIBERIA. 479 private gold washings, they are mostly merely rented by the village authorities, who seize the hand-money for the taxes, always in arrear. The intervention of the district authorities, and very often & military convoy, are therefore necessary every spring to send.the 'free hands' to the gold washings. It is obvious that the conditions of work are still harder for the convicts. The day's task which each of them must accomplish is greater and harder than on the private mines, and many of them are loaded with chains; at Kara, they have moreover to walk five miles from the prison to the excavation, adding thus a nearly three hours' march to the day's task. Sometimes, when the auriferous gravel and clay are poorer than was expected, and the quantity of gold calculated on could not be extracted, the convicts are literally exhausted by overwork; they are compelled to work until very late in the nights, and then the mortality, which is always high, becomes really horrible. In short, it is conlidered as a rule, by all those who •have seriously studied the Siberian hard-labour institutions, that the convict who has remained for several years at Kara, or at the salt works, comes away quite broken in health, and unfit for ulterior work, and that he remains thenceforth a burden on the country. The food-however less substantial tha.n at the private gold washings-might be considered 8S nearly sufficient when the convicts receive the rations allowed to the men when at work; the daily allowance being in such cases 3..l\r English pounds of rye bread, and the amount of meat, cabbage, buckwheat, &c. that can be supplied for one rouble per month. A good manager could give for that price nearly half a pound of meat every day. But, owing to the want of any real control, the convicts mostly are pitilessly robbed of th~ir poor allowance. If, at the St. Petersburg House of Detention, under the eyes of scores of inspectOrs, robbery was carried on for years on a colossal scale : how could it be otherwise in the wildernesses of the Transbaikalian mountains? Honest managers, who supply the convicts with all due to them, are rare exceptions. Besides, the above allowance is given only during the short period of gold washing, which lasts for le88 than' four months in the year. During the winter, when the frozen ground is as hard as steel, there is no work at all. And 8S soon as the gold washing-the year's crop of the minesis finished, the food is reduced to an amount hardly suffici~nt to keep muscles and bones together. As to the payment for work, it is quite ludicrous, being something like three to four shillings per month, out of which the convict mostly purchases some cloth to supply the quite insufficient dress given by the Crown. No wonder that scurvy-that terror of all Siberian "old washings-is always mowing down the lives of the convicts, and that the mortality at Kara is from 90 to 28":, out ofles8 than 2,000, every year; that is, one out of eleven to one out of se'teD, a very high figure indeed for a population of adults. These 480 THE NINETEENTH OENTURY. March official figures, however, are still below the truth, as the desperately Rick are usually sent away, to die in some bogadelnya, or invalid boWIe. The situation of the convicts would be still worse if the overorowding of tbe prisoDs and the interests of the owners of the gold mines had not compelled the Government to shorten the time of imprisonment. As a rule, the hard-labour convict ought to be kept in prison, at the mines, only for about one-third of the time to' which he has been condemned. Beyond this time, he must be settled in the village close by the mine, in a separate house, with his family, if his wife has followed him; he is bound to go to work, like other convicts, but without chains, and he has his own house and hearth. It is obvious that this law might be an immense benefit for the convicts, but its provisions are marred by the manner in which it'is applied. The liberation of the convict depends entirely upon the caprice of the Buperintendent of the mine. Moreover, with the absurd payment for his labour, which hardly reaches a few shillings per month in addition to the ration of flour, the liberated convict falls, with but fewexceptions, into the most dreadful misery. All investigators of the subject are agreed in representing under the darkest aspects the misery of this class of convicts, and in saying that the immense number of runaways from this category of exile is chiefly due to their wretchedness. The punishments obviously depend also entirely upon the fancy of the superintendent of the works, and they are atrocious. The privation of food and the blackhole-and those who have read my former articles know what blackhole means in Siberia-are considered aa merely childish punishments. Only the plete, the cat-o'-nine-t&ils~ distributed at will, for the slightest delinquency, and to the amount dictated by the good or bad temper of the manager, is considered as a punishment. It is so usual a thing in the minds of the overseers, that ' hundred pleteB,' a hundred lashes with the cat-o'-nine-tails, are ordered with the same easiness as one week's incarceration would be ordered in European prisons; but there are other heavier punishments in store: for instance, the chaining for several years to the wall. of an underground blackhole, especially at the Akatuy prison; the riveting for five or six years to the barrow, which is, perhaps, the worst imaginable moral torture; and finally, the lBe8BOi (the fox), that is, a beam of wood, or a piece of iron, weighing one pood and a half (48 Ibs.) attached to the chain for several years. The horrible punishment by the lusBa is becoming rare, but the chaining for several years to a barrow is quite usual. Quite recently, the political convic~ Popko, Fomicheff, and Bereznuk were condemned, for an attempt at escape from the Irkutsk prison, to be riveted to barrows for two years. I hardly need to add that the superintendent of the miDes is a 1884 THE EXILE IN SIBERIA. 481 king in his dominions, and that to complain about him ill quite UBeless. He may rob his inmates of their last coppers, he may submit them to the most horrible punishments, he may torture the children of convicts-no complaints will reach the authorities; and the convict who would be bold enough to dare a complaint would be simply starved in blackholes, or killed under the pletes. All those who write about exile in Siberia ought to bear constantly in mind that there is no serious control over the managers of the penal colonief1, and that an honest man will never remain for long at the head of a penal colony in Siberia. If he is merely humane•with the convicts, he will be dismissed for what will be described at St. Petersburg as 'dangerous sentimentalism.' If not, he will be expelled by the association of robben who gather around 80 lucrative a business 88 tbe management of a gold mine of the Crown. The RU88ian proverb says :-' Let him nourish a Crown's sparrow, he will nourish all his family;' but a gold mine is something much more attractive than a Crown's sparrow. There are thousands of convicts to supply with food and tools; there are the machines to repair; and there is the most lucrative clandestine trade in stolen gold. There is at these mines a whole tradition and a solid organisation of robbery, established and grown vp long ago, an organisation which even the de8potic and almighty Momavieff could not break down. An honest man cast amidst these organised gangs of robbers is considered by his comrades as a troublesome individual, and, if not recalled by the Government, he will be compelled to leave himself, weary of warfare. Therefore, the Kara gold mines have tJeldom seen at their head honest men like Barbot de Marny, or Kononovitch, but nearly always such people 88 Rozguildeeff. . And so it goes on until our own times. Not only the abominable cruelty of the managers of Kara bas become proverbial, but we need not go further baek than 1871 to discover the medimval torture flourishing there in full. Even so cautious a writer as M. YadrintsefJ' relates a case. of torture applied by the manager of the mines, Demidoff, to a free woman and to her daughter, eleven years old. In 1871-he saya-the chier or the Kara gold mines, Demidoff, was wormed of a murder committed by a convict. The better to discover the details of the crime, Demidoff submitted to torture, through the executioner, the wife of the murderer-a free woman, who went to Siberia to follow her husbancl-and her daughter, eleven years old. The girl was suspended in the air, and the executioner flogged her from the head to the soles of her teet. She had already received I8verallashesl\"ith the cat-o'-nine-taila when she asked to drink. A salted herring was presented to her. The torture would ha1'8 been prosecuted if the execut.ioner had not refosed to continue.1 Man does not become 80 ferocious at once, and every intelligent thinker will discover behind this single case a whole training in I 8i1lcwia til tI llIltn.y, p. 207. 482 THE 1flNETEENTH OENTURY. March cruelty of the Demidoffs; a whole horrible story of barharities carried on with the conflction of impunity. As the woman in this case was not a convict, her complaints reached the authorities; but, for one case brought to publicity, how many hundreds of like cases never come, and never will come, to the knowledge of public opinion t I have but little to say about those hard-labour convicts who are rented of the Crown by private owners of gold washings. This innovation was not yet introduced when I was sojourning in Siberia, and little has transpired about it since it has been practised. I know that the experiment has been recognised as a failure. The best proprietors did not care to employ convicts, as they Boon learned how expensive every contact with the authorities is in Siberia; and only the worst owners continued to take them to their mines. At such mines the convicts had perhaps less to Buffer from their managers, but still more from want of food, from overwork, and bad lodgings, not to speak of the hardness of long journeys to and from the gold mines, on footpaths crossing the wild Siberian forests. As to the salt works, where a number of convicts are still employed, they cause the worst kind of hard labour; and I shall never forget the Polish exiles I saw at tbe Ust-Kut salt works. The water of the salt springs is usually pumped by means of the most primitive machines; and the work, which is pursued even during the winter, is unanimously considered as one of thE" most exhausting. The condition of those lvho are employed at the large pans, where the salt solution is concentrated by an immense fire blazing under the pans, iR still worse. The men 8tay for hOUfS quite naked, stirring up the salt in the pan; the perspiration is literally streaming on their bodies, whilst they are exposed to a strong current of cold air blowing though the building in order to accelerate the evaporation. With the exception of the few who are employed at some other works at the mine, I have seen but sallow and livid phantoms, among whom consumption and scurvy find an abundant harvest. I shall not touch in this paper the recent innovation-the bard labour and settlement of convicts in a new and remoter Siberia-the island of Sakhalin. The fate of the convicts on this island, where nobody would settle freely, and their struggles against an inhospitable soil and climate, dfilerve a separate study. Nor shall I touch in this paper the condition of the Polish exiles of 1864. This subject deserves more than a short notice; and I have not yet spoken of the immense class of exiles transported to Siberia to be settled there as agricultural and industrial labourers. Those who are condemned to hard labour, not only lose all their civil aDd personal rights, they are separated for ever from their mother-land. After their release from hard labour they are embodied in the great category of the 88ylno-po8elentBy, and they remain in Siberia for life. No possible return, under any circumstances, to 1884 I THE EXILE IN SIBERIA. 483 Russia. The category of settled exiles is the most numerous in Siberia. It comprises not only the released hard-labour convicts; but also the nearly 3,000 men and women (28,382 in the space of ten years, 1867 to 1876) transported every year under the bead of . 88ylno-poBekntsy, that is, to be settled in Siberia, also for life, and with a total or partial loss of their civil and personal rights. To these 8sylno-p08616ntsy-or, simply p088lentsy in the current language- must be added the 23,383 exiled during the same ten years na ood'IJO'rtmie, that is, to be settled with a partial loss of their civil rights; 2,551 exiled na iitie (' to live in Siberia ') without 1089 of their personal rights; and the 76,686 exiled during the same time. by simple orders of the Administrative, making thus a total of nearly 130,000 exiles for ten years. During the last five years this figure has still increased, reaching from 16,000 to 17,000 exiles every year. I have already said what are the' crimes' of this mass of human beings cast out from Russia; let us see now what is their situation in the land of exile. A whole litl6rature on this subject has grown up during the last #ten years. Official inquiries have been made, and scores of papers have been published on the consequences of the transportation to Siberia, all being agreed as to the following CODelusion

-Leaving aside some isolated cases, such as the excellent

influence of the Polish and Russian political exiles on the development of manufactures in Siberia, as well as that of the nonconformists and Little Russians (who have been transported by whole communes at once) on agriculture-leaving aside these few exceptions, the great mass of exiles, far from supplying Siberia with useful colonists and skilled working-men, supplies it with a floating population, mostly starving and quite unable to do any useful work (see the works and papers by MM. MaXimoff, Lvoff, Zavalishin, Rovinsky, Yadrintseff, Peysen, Dr. Spercb, and many others, and the extracts• from official inquiries they have published). It appears from these investigations that, whilst more than half a million of people have been transported to Siberia during the last sixty years, only 200,000 are now on the lists of the local Administration; the remainder have died without leaving any posterity, or have disappeared. Even of these~ 200,000 who figure on the official lists, no less than one-third, that is, 70,000 (or even much more, according to other valuations), have disappeared during the last few years without anybody knowing what has become of them. 'l'hey have vanished like a cloud in the sky on a hot Bunmier day. Part of them have run away and have joined the human current,20,000 men strong, that silently flows through the forest lands of Siberia, from east to west, towards the Ural. Others-and these are the great number-already have dotted with their bones the' runaway paths' of the forests and marshes, as also 484 THE NINETEENTH OENTURY. March the paths that lead to and from the gold mines. And the remainder constitute the floating population of the larger towns, trying to escape an obnoxious supervision by assuming false names. . As to the 130,000 (or much less, according to other statisticians) who have remained under the control of the Administration, the unanimous testimony of all inquiries, official or private, is that they are in such a wretched state of misery as to be a real burden on the country. Even in the most fertile provinces of Siberia-Toursk and the southern part of Tobolsk-only one-quarter of them have their own houses, and only one out of nine bave become agriculturists. In the eastern provinces the proportion is still less favourable. Those who are not agriculturists-and they are some hundred thousand men and women throughout Siberia-are wandering from town to town without any permanent occupation, or going to and from the gold . washings, or living in villages from hand to mouth, in the worst imaginable misery, with all the vices that never fail to follow misery. Several causes contribute to the achievement of this result. The chief one-all agree in that-is the demoralisation the convicts undergo in the prisons, and during their peregrinations on the ~tap68. Long before having reached their destination in Siberia, they are demoralised. The laziness enforced for years on the inmates of the lock-ups; the development of the passion for games of hazard; the sy~tematic suppression of the will of the prisoner, and the development of passive qualities, quite opposite to the moral strength required for colonising a young country; the prostration of the strength of character and the development of low passions, of shallow and futile desires, and of anti-social conceptions generated by the prison--all this ought to be kept in mind to realise the depth of moral corruption that is spread by our gaols, and to understand how an inmate of these institutions never can be the man to endure the bard struggle for life in the Bub-arctic Russian colony. But not only is the moral force of the convict broken by the prison; his physical force, too, is mostly broken for ever by the journey and the sojourn at the bard-labour colonies. Many contract incurable diseases; all are weak. As to those who have spent some twenty years in hard labour (an attempt at eacape easily brings the seclusion to this length), they are for the most part absolutely unable to perform any work. Even put in the best circumstances, they would still be a burden on the community. But the conditions imposed on the p08elenet8 are very ~ard. He is sent to some remote village commune, where he receives several acres of land-the least fertile in the commune, and he must become a farmer. In reality he knows nothing of the practice of agriculture in Siberia, and, after• three or four years' detention, he has lost the taste for it, even if he formerly was an agriculturist. The village commune receives 1884 THE EXILE IN SIBERIA. 485 him with b06tility and 8com. He is 'a Russian '-a term ofcontempt with the Siberyak-•and, moreover, a convict! He is also one of those whose transport and accommodation cost the Siberian peasant 80 heavily. For the most part he is not married and cannot marry, the proportion of exiled women being as one to SU: men, and the Siberyak will not allow him to marry his daughter, notwithstanding the fifty roubles allowed in this case. by the State, but uaually melted away on their long journey through the hands of numerous officials. There was no need in Siberia for the official scheme-inventors who ordered the peasants to build houses for the exiles, and who settled the pOBel6ntsy, five or six together, dreaming of pastoral exilecommunities. The practical result was invariably the same. The five posel6ntB'Jj thus associated in their miseries invariably ran away after a useless struggle against starvation, and went under false names to the towns, or to the gold mines, in search of labour. Whole villages with empty houses on the Siberian highway still remind the traveller of the sterility of official Utopias introduced with the help of pirch rods. Those who find some employment on the farms of the Siberian peasants are not happier. The whole system of engaging workmen in Siberia is based on giving them large sums of hand-money in advance, in order to put them permanently in debt, and to reduce them to a kind of perpetual serfdom; and the Siberian peasants largely use this custom. As to those exiles-and they are the great proportion -who earn their livelihood by work on the gold washings, they are depIjved of all their savings as soon as they have reached the first village and public-house, after the four or five months of labour-of hard labour, in fact, with all its privations-at the mines. The villages on the Lena, the Yenissei, the Kan, &c., where the parties of gold miners arrive in the autumn, are widely famed for this peculiarity. And who does not know in Siberia the two wretched, miserable hamlets on the Lena, which have received the names of Paris and London from the admirable skill of their inhabitants in depriving the miQers of their very last copper P When the miner has left in the public-house his last hat and shirt, he is immediately re-engaged by the agents of the gold-mining company for the next summer, and receives, in exchange for his passport, some hand-money for returning home. He comes to his village with empty hands, and the long winter months he will spend-perhaps, in the next lock-up I In short, the final conclusion of all official inquiries which have been made up to this time is, that the few housekeepers among the exiles are in a wretched state of misery; and that the paupers are either serfs to the farmers and mine-proprietors, or-to use the words of an official report-' are dying from hunger and cold.' The taiga-the forest land which covers thousands of square miles in Siberia-is thickly peopled with runaways, who slowly 486 THE NINETEENTH OENTURY. March advance, like a continuous human stream, towards the west, moved by the hope of finally reaching their native villages on the other slope of the Ural. Aji soon as the cuckoo cries, announcing to the prisoners that the woods are free from their snow covering, that they can shelter a man without the risk of his becoming during the night a motionless block of ice, and that they will soon provide the wanderer with mushrooms and berries, tho~sands of convicts make their escape from the gold mines and salt works, from the villages where they starved, and from the toW1l8 where they concealed. themselves. Guided by the polar star, or by the mosses on the trees, or by old runaways who have acquired in the prisons the precious knowledge of the 'runaway paths' and 'runaway stations,' they undertake the long and perilous backward journey. They pass around Lake Baikal, climbing the high and wild mountains on its shores, or they cross it on a raft, or even-as the popular song says-in a fish cask. They avoid the highways, the towns, and the settlements of the Buriates, but freely camp in the woods around the towns; and each spring you see at abita the fires of the chaldo'JUJ (runaways) lighted all around the little capital of Transbaikalia, on t.he woody slopes of the surrounding mountains. They freely enter also the Russian villages, where they find, up to the present day, bread and milk exposed on the WiDdoWB of the peasants' houses' for the poor runaways.' Ae long as nothing is stolen by the ramblen, they may be sure of not being disturbed in their journey by the peasants. But, as soon 88 any ofthem breaks this tacit mutual engagement, the Siberyaks become pitiless. The hunters-and each Siberian village has its trappen--spread through the forests, and :pitilessly exterminate the runaways, sometimes with an abominable refinement of cmelty. Some thirty years ago, 'to hunt the chaldona ' was a trade, and the human chase has still remained a trade with a few individuals, especially with the kaIry'1(LS, or half-breeds. 'The antelope gives but one skin,' these hunters say, 'whilst the chaldon gives two at least, his shirt and his coat.' A few runaways find employment on the farms of the peasants, which are spread at great distances from the villages, but these are not very numerous, as the summer is the best season for marohing towards the west: the forests feed and conceal the wanderers during the warm season. True, they are filled then with clouds of small mosquitos (the terrible m08hka), and thebrodyagha (runaway) you meet within the summer is horrible to see: his f&98 is but one swollen wound; his eyes are inflamed and hardly seen from Mneath the burning and swollen eyelids; his swollen nostrils and mouth are covered with sores. Men and cattle alike grow mad from this plague, which CODtiDU~ JI to pursue them even among the clouds ef sm~kethat are spread around the villages. But still the lYrodyagha pursues his march towards the border-chain of Siberia, and his heart beats stronger as he perceives its bluish hills on the horizon. Twenty, perhaps thirty thou.1884 THE EXILE IN SIBERIA. 487 sand men are continually living this life, and surely no less than one bundred thousand people have tried to make their escape in this way during these last fifty years. How many have succeeded in enteriog the Russian provinces P Nobody could tell, even approximately. Thousands have found their graves in the taiga, and happy were they whose eyes were closed by a devoted fellow-traveller. Other thousands have returned of their own accord to the lock-ups when the mercury was freezing and the fros~ stopped the circulation of the last drop of blood in an emaciated body. They submitted themselves to the unavoidable hundred pletes, returned again to Transbaikalia, and next spring tried again the same journey with more experience. Other thousands have been hunted down, seized, or shot by the Buriates, the Karyms, or some Siberian trapper. Others again were seized a few days after ~aving reached the soil of their' motherRussia,' after having thrown themselves at the feet of their old . parents, in the village they bad left many years ago to satisfy the caprice of the ispravnik, or the jealousy of the local usurer•.•• What an abyss of suffering is concealed behind those three words: 'Escape from Siberia' I I have now to examine the situation of political exiles in Siberia. or course I shall not venture to tell here the story of political exile since the year 1607, when one of the forefathers of the now reigning dynast.y, Vassiliy Nikitich Romanoff, opened the long list of proscriptions, and terminated his life in an underground cell at Nyrdob, loaded with 64 pounds' weight of heavy chains. I shall Dot try to re• vive the horrible story of the Bar confederates arriving in Siberia with their noses and ears tom away, and-so says, at least, the tradition- rolled down the hill of the Kreml at Tobolsk tied to big trees; I shall Dot tell the infamies of the madman Freskin and his ispramik Loskutoff; nor dwell upon the execution of March 7, 1837, when the Poles Szokalski, Sieroczynski, and four others were killed under seven thousand strokes of the rod; nor will I describe the sufferings of the ' Decembrists' and of the exiles of the first days of Alexander II.'s reign; neither give here the list of our poets and publicists exiled to Siberia since the times of Radischeff until those of Odoevsky, and later on, of Tchernysbevsky and Mikhailoff. I shall speak only of those political exiles who are now in Siberia. Kara is the place where those condemned to hard labour were imprisoned, to the number of 150 men and women, during the autumn of 1882. Aftefhaving been kept from two to four years in preliminary detention at the St. Petersburg fortress, at the famous Litovskiy Zamok, at the St. Petersburg House of Detention, and in provincial prisons, they were sent, after their condemnation, to the Kharkoff Central Prison. ~rhere they remained for three to five yean, again in solitary confinement, without any occupation, without any intercourse with I.their parents, literally starving on the poor 488 THE NINETEENTH OENTURY. March allowance of liel. per day, and at the mercy of their gaolers. Then they were transferred, for a f~w months, to the Mtsensk depot-where they were t,reated much better-and thence they were sent to Transbaikalia. Most of them performed the journey to Kara in the manner I have already described-on foot beyond Tomsk, and chained. A few were favoured with the use of cars, for slowly moving from one Ma,pe U> another. Even these last describe this Journey as a real torture, and say :-' People become mad from the moral and physical tortures endured during such a journey. The wife of Dr. Bielyi, who accompanied her husband, and two or three othersJ have had this fate.' The prison where they are kept at Middle Kara is one of those rotten buildings I have already mentioned. It was overcrowded when ninety-one men were confined in it, and it is still more overcrowded since the arrival of sixty more prisoners; wind and snow freely enter the interstices between the rotten pieces of logwood of the wall~, and from beneath the rotten planks of the floor. The chief food of the prisoners is rye bread and some buckwheat; meat is distributed only when they are at work in the gold mine, that is, during three months out of twelve, and only to fifty men out of 150. Contrary to the law and custom, all were -chained in 1881, and went to work loaded with chains. There is no hospital for 'the politicals,' and the sick, who are numerous, remain on the platforms, side by side with all others, in the same cold rooms, in the same 8uffocating atmosphere. Even the insane Madame Kovalevskaya is still kept in prison. Happily . enough, there are surgeons among tbem. As to the surgeon of the prison, it is sufficient to say of him that the insane Madame Kovalevskaya was kicked down and beaten under his eyes during an attack of madness. The wives of the prisoners were allowed to stay at Lower Kara, and to visit their husbands twice a week, 8S also to bring them books and newspapers. The greater number are slowly dying from consumption, and the list ofdeaths rapidly increases. But the most horrible curse of bard labour at Kara is the absolute arbit.rariness of the gaolers; the prisoners are completely at the mercy of the caprices of men who were nominated by the Government with the special purpose of 'keeping them in urchingloves.' The chief of the garrison openly says he would be happy if some' political' offended him, as the offender would be hanged; the surgeon doctors by means ofbis fists; and the adjutant ofthe GovemorGeneral, a Captain Zagarin, loudly said, 'I am your Governor, your Minister, ,our Tsar,' when the prisoners threatened him with making a complaint to the Ministry of Justice. One must read the story of the' insurrection' at the Krasnoyarsk prison, or hear N. Lopatin'tl narrative of it, to be convinced that the right place for such an individual would be a lunatic asylum. Even ladies did not escape 1884. THE EXILE IN SIBERIA. 489 his mad brutality, and were submitted by him to a treatment which revolted the simplest feelings of decency; and, when the prisoner Scbedrin, in defence of his bride, gave him a blow OD his face, the military Court condemned Schedrin to death. General Peduhenko acted in accordance with the loudly expressed public feeling at Irkutsk, when he commuted t'M 8entence of death into a ,wnknce of incarceration for a fortnight, but few officials have the courage of the then provisional Governor-General of Eastern Sibt'ria. The blackholes, the chains, the riveting to barrows, are 1l8ual punishments, and they are accompanied sometimes with the regulation 'hundred pl6tes.' 'I shall kill you under the rods, you will rot in the blackholes,' such is the language that continually sounds in the ears of the prisoners. But, happily enough, corporal punishment has not been used with political prisoners. A fifty years' experience has taught the offioials that the day it was applied 'would be a day of great bloodshed,' as the publishers of the Will 01 ths Peop16 said when describing the life of their friends in Siberia. As to the prescriptions of the law with regard to exiles, they are openly trampled upon by the higher and lower authorities. Thus, Uspenskiy, Tcharoushin, Semenovsky, Shishko were liberated from the prison and settled in the Kara village after having reached the term of 'probation' established by the law. But in 1881, a ministerial deci~ion, taken at St. Petersburg without any reasonable cause, ordered them to be again locked up. The law being thus trampled under foot, and the last hopes of amelioration of the fate of the prisoners having thus vanished, two of them committed suicide. Uspenskiy, who endured horrible sufferings in hard labour since 1867, and whose cbaracter could not be broken by these pains, was unable to Iive more of this hopeless life, and followed the example of bis two comrades. If the political convicts at Kara were common mutderers, they would still have the hope that, after having performed their seven, ten, or twelve years of hard labour for having spread Socialist pamphlets among workmen, they would finally be set at liberty and transferred to some province of Southern Siberia, thus becoming settlers, according to the prescriptioDs of our penal system. But there is no law for political exiles. Tcbemyshevsky, the translator of J. S. Mill's Politwal Economy, terminated ten years ago his eeven years of hard labour. If he bad murdere~ his father and mother, and burned a bouse with B dozen children, he would be settled now in some village of the government of Irkutsk. But he has written ecoDomieal papers; he has publisbed them with the authorisation of the Censorship; the Government considers him as a possible leader of ~he Constitutional Party in Russia, and he is buried in the hamlet of Viluisk, amidst marshes and forests, 600 miles beyond Yakutsk. There, isolated from all the outside world, closely watched by two VOL. X\".-No. 8S. K K 490 THE NINETEENTH OENTURY: March ~ndarme8 who lodge in his house, he is buried for ever, and neither the entreaties of the Russian press nor the resolutions of the last International Literary Congress could save him from the bands of a 8USpicious Government. Sucb will be, too, without doubt, the fate of those who are now kept at Kara. The day they become pOB6Zentsy will not be for them. a day of liberation: it will be a day of transportation from the milder regions of Transbaikalia to the to'U/nAiras within the Arctic Circle. However bitter the condition of the hard-labour convicts in Siberia, the Government 'has succeeded in punishing as hardly, and perhaps even more so, those of its political foes whom it could not condemn to hard labour, or exile, even by means of packed courts, dominated ad hoc, and pronouncing their sentences in absolute secrecy. This result has been achieved by means of the' Administrative enle,' or transporta.tion to 'more or less remote provinces of the Empire' without jndgment, without aDy kind or even phantom of trial, on a single order of the omnipotent Chief of the Third Section. .. Every year some five or six hundred young men and women aTe arrested under suspicion of revolutionary agitation. The inquiry lasts for six months, two years, or more, according to the number of persoDs arrested in connection with, and the importance of, 'the affair.' One-tenth of them are committed for trial. As to the remainder, all those against whom there is no specific charge, but who were represented as' dangerous' by the spies; all those who, on account of their intelligence, energy, and' radical opinions,' are supposed to be able to become dangerous; and especially those who have shown during the imprisonment a 'spirit of irreverence '-are exiled to lome more or less remote spot, between the peninsula of Kola and that of Kamchatka. The open and frank despotism of Nicholas I. could not accommodate itself to Buch hypocritical means of prosecution; and during the reign of the 'iron despot' the Administrative exile was rare. But throughout the reign of Alexander II., since 1862, it has been used on so immense a scale, that you hardly will find now a hamlet, or borough, between the fiftyfifth circle of latitude, from the boundary of Norway to the coasts of the Sea of Okhotsk, Dot containing five, ten, twenty Administrative exiles. In January 1881, there were 29 at Pinega, abamlet which has but 750 inhabitants, 66 at Mezen (1,800 inhabitants), 11 at Kola (740 inhabitants);47 at Kholmogory-a village having but 90 houses, 160 at Zaraisk (5,000 inhabitants), 19 at Yeniseisk, and 800D. The causes of exile were always the same: students and girls lUSpected of subversive ideas, writers whom it was impossible 1:0 prosecute for their writings, but who were known to be iD1hued with' a dangerous spirit;' workmen ..ho have spoken 'against the authorities;' persons who have been 'irreverent' to IOWDe rovemor of provin~, or ispraunik, aDd 80 OD, were transported by hundreds every year to people the hamlets of the ' more or less reJD.ot.e 1884 THE EXILE IN SIBERIA. 491 provinces of the Empire.' As to Radical people suspected of ' dangerQUS tendencies,' the ~t denunciation and the most futile suspicions were sufficient for serving as a motive to exile. When girls (like Miss Bardine, Soubbotine, Lubatovich, and so many others) were condemned to six or eight years of hard labour for having giyen one Socialistic pamphlet to one workman; when others (like :Miss Goukovskay&t fourteen years old) were condemned to exile as pose/,l'IIJ, ay for having shouted in the crowd that it is a shame to condemn people to death for nothing; when hard labour and exile were 80 easily distributed by the courts, it is obvious that only those were ailed by the AdmiDistrative, ~D8t whom nQ palpable charge at . all could be produced.3 In short, the Administrative exile became so scandalously extended during the reign of AleDllder II. that, 88Boon as the Provinoial Assemblies received some liberty of speech duriDg the dictatorship of Loris-Melikoff, a long series of representations were addressed by the Assemblies to the Emperor, asking for the immediate abolition of this kind of exile, and stigmatising in vigorous expreuioDS this monstrous practice. It is known that Ilothing has been done, and, after having loudly announced its intention of pardomDg the exiles, the Government has merely nominated a commission which examined some of the cases, pardoned a fewvery few-and appointed for the greater number a term of five to six years, when each case will be re-examined. One will easily realise the conditions of these exiles if he imagines a student, or a girl from a well-to-do family, or a skilled workman, taken by two g~es to a borough numbering a bundred houses and inhabited by a few Laponians or Russian hunters, by ODe or two fur....traden, by the priest, and by the police official. Bread is at famine prices; each manufactured article costs its weight in silver, and, of course, there is absolutely no means of earning even a shilling. The Government gives to such exiles only four to eight roubles (8 to 10 sbiUjnga) per month, and immediately refuses this poor pittance if the exile receives from his parents or friends the smallest sum of money, be it even ten roubles (ll.) during twelve months. To give lessons is strioUy forbidden, even if there were lessoDs to give, for' iDstanoe to the stanwvoy', chil- 3 One of the IDost characteristic cases out of those which became known by scores in 1881, is the following :-In 1872, the Kursk nobility treated the Governor of the pro\fince to a (lifln~r. A big proprietor, M. Annenkoff, was entrnsted with proposing a toast for the Governor. Be proposed it, but added in conclusion :-' Your Bzcellence, 1 drink your health, but I heartily wish that you would devote some more time to the affairs of your province.' Next week a post-car with two fJIJ'Ultw1Iu, •stopped at the door of his house~ and without allowing him to 888 his friends, or even to bid & farewell to his wife, he W88 transported to Vyatka. It took Biz months of the most active appUcatiODS to powerful persons at St. Petersburg, on behalf of his wife and the marshals of the Fatesh and Kursk nobility,: to liberate him fruln 'this exile (GoZoI, P"'7latloi ko. for February 20 aDd 21, 1881). )[J[2 492 THE NINETEENTH OENTURY. March dren. Most of the exiles do not know manual trades. As to finding employment in some private office--in those boroughs where there -are offices-it is quite impossible:- We are afraid or giving them employment (wrote the Yeniseisk correspondent ot the RuaJ.,;y Kumr), as we are afraid of being ourselves submitted to the l'upervision of the police... -, It is sufficient ,to meet with an Administrative exile, or to exchange a few words with him, to be inScribed under the head or suspects. • • • The chief of a commercial undertaking has recently compelled his clerks to sign an engagement stating that they will not be acquainted with , politicals,' nor greet them in the streets. More than that, we read in 1880 in our papers that the Ministry of }4'inance brought forward a scheme for a law 'to allow the common-law and political Administrative exiles to carry on all kinds of trades, with the permission of the Governor-General, which permission is to be asked in each special case.' I do not know if this scheme has become law, but I' know that formerly nearly all kinds of trade were prohibited to exiles, not to speak of the circumstance that to carry on many trades was quite impossible, the enles being severely prohibited from leaving the town even for a few hours. Shall I describe, after this, the horrible, unimaginable misery of the exiles P-' Without dress, without shoes, living in the nastiest buts, without any occupation, they are mostly dying from consumption,' was written to the GOloB of February 2, 1881. 'Our Administrative exiles are absolutely starving. Several of them, having no lodgings, were diRCOvered living in an excavation under the bell-tower,' wrote another correspondent. 'Administrative exile simply means killing people by starvation '-such was the cry of our press when it was permitted to discuss this subject. 'It is a slow, bot sure execution,' wrote the GOloB. And yet, misery is not the worst of the condition of the exiles. They are as a rule submitted to the most disgraceful treatment by the local authorities. For the smallest complaint addressed to newspapers, they are transferred to the remotest parts of Eastern Siberia. Young girls, confined at Kargopol, are compelled to receive during the night the visits of drunken officials, who enter their rooms by violence, under the pretext of having the right of visiting the exiles at any time. At another place, the police officer compels the exiles to come every week to the police station, and 'submits them to a visiliatiou, together with street-girls.' C And so OD, and 80 on ! Such being the situation of the exiles in the less remote parts of Russia and Siberia, it is euy to conceive what it is in such places as Olekminsk, Verkhoyansk, or Nijne-kolymsk, in a hamlet situated at the mouth of the Kolyma, beyond the 68th degree of latitude, and having but 190 inhabitants. For all these hamlets, cODsisting of a few houses each, bave their exiles, their sufferers, buried there for t GolD._ February 12, 1881. 188~ THE EXILE IN BIBERIA. 493 ever for the simple reason that there was no charge brought against them sufficient to procure a condemnation, even from a packed court. After having walked for months and months across SDO'Wcovered mountains, on the ice of the rivers, and in the toundras, they are DOW confined in these hamlets where but a few hunters are vegetating, always uDder the apprehension of dying from starvation. And not only in the hamlets: it will be hardly believed, but it is so : a number of them have been confined to the Ul'U886S, or encampmeDt~ of the Yakuts, and they are living there under felt tents, with the Yakuts, side by side with people covered with the most disgusting skin diseases. ' We live in the darkness,' wrote one of them to his friends, taking advantage of some hunter going to Verkhoyansk, whence his letter takes tm months to reach Olekminsk; 'we live in the darkness, and burn candles only for one hour and a half every day j they cost too dear. We have no bread, and eat only fish. Meat can be had at no price.' Another says: 'I write to you in a violent pain, due to periostosis. • • • I have asked to be transferred to a hospital, but without 8UCcesS. I do Dot know how long this torture will last ; my only wish is to be freed from this pain. We are not allowed to see one another, alt.hough we are separated only by the distance of three miles. 1'he Crown allows us four roubles and fifty kopeksnine shillings per month.' A third exile wrote about the same time: , Thank you, dear friends, for the papers; but I cannot read them: I have DO candles, and there are none to buy. My scurvy is rapidly progressing, and having DO hope of being transferred, I hope to die in the course of this winter.'

, I hope to die in the course of this winter I' That is the oDly hope that an exile confined to a Yakut encampment under the 68th degree of latitude can cherish!

When reading these lines we are transported back at once to the seventeenth century, and seem to hear again the words of the protopope Avvakum :-' And I remained there, in the cold block-house, and afterwards with the dirty Tunguses, as a good dog lying on the straw; sometimes tbey nourished me, sometimes they forgot.' And, like the wife of Avvakum, we ask now again: 'Ah, dear, how long, then, ,viII these sufferings go on?' Centuries have elapsed since, and a whole hundred years of pathetic declamations about progress and humanitarian principles, all to bring us back to the same point where we were when the Tsars of Moscow sent their adversa:ries to die in the tou'rUlras on the simple denunciation of a favourite. And to the question of Avvakum's wife, repeated now again throughout Siberia, we have but one possible reply: No partial reform, no change of men can ameliorate this horrible state of things; nothing short of a complete transformation of the fundamantal conditions of Russian life.