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The Contemporary Review, Volume 36, September 1879

Lemke stiffly bowing in silence


"But

who is the convict?" Mr. Lemke asked the guide, with low voice.

"It is Number 114!" the guide replied, laconically.

"This I see," answered the visitor; "but what are the man's antecedents? To what family does he belong?"

"He is a count," replied the guide; "a well-known conspirator. More, I regret to say, I cannot tell you about Number 114!"

The visitor felt as if he were stifled in the grave-like atmosphere--as if his chest were pressed in by a demoniacal nightmare. He hastily asked his guide to return with him to the upper world. Meeting there the commander of the military establishment, he was obligingly asked by that officer--

"Well, what impression did our penal establishment make upon you?"

Mr. Lemke stiffly bowing in silence, the officer seemed to take this as a kind of satisfied assent, and went on--

"Very industrious people, the men below; are they not?"

"But with what feelings," Mr. Lemke answered, "must these unfortunates look forward to the day of rest after the week's toil!"

"Rest!" said the officer; "convicts must always labour. There is no rest for them. They are condemned to perpetual forced labour; and he who once enters the mine never leaves it!"

style="text-align: justify;">"But this is barbarous!"

The officer shrugged his shoulders, and said, "The exiled work daily for twelve hours; on Sundays too. They must never pause. But, no; I am mistaken. Twice a year, though, rest is permitted to them--at Easter-time, and on the birthday of His Majesty the Emperor."

IX.

Can we wonder, when we see the ultra-Bulgarian atrocities practised in Russia, that "Terror for Terror!" should at last have become the parole of the men of the Revolutionary Committee?

I will not go over the harrowing details of the events of the last seven or eight months; they are still fresh in every one's remembrance. The only measures that could stay this destructive contest are systematically withheld by the Czar, who will not permit the slightest display of popular sentiments within the lawful domain of Representative Government. Many years ago a distinguished French writer described the Russian system as "a tyranny tempered by the dagger." Alexander, too, himself is fully aware of this tragic concatenation of events. He is even known to have often, in the very beginning of his reign, expressed a feeling of fear lest his own end should be a violent one, like that of so many of his predecessors. The attempts of Karakasoff and Berezowski have lately been repeated by Solovieff. Whilst strongly condemning the deed of the latter, even the Conservative _Standard_ felt called upon, by the dangers of the situation at large, to make the following comments, which possess a lasting interest:--

"It would be well


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