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labour, and are not confined to the mines for more than one year, which counts, besides, for two years of exile. Upon the whole, great latitude is allowed the central and local authorities in Siberia with regard to the employment and allocation of the convicts and exiles, it being merely laid down as a general rule that agricultural settlements shall always be made in the least populous districts of the localities capable of cultivation. It seems also to be the plan, as far as possible, to put each man to the work which he is most competent to execute; and the exiles belonging to the labouring classes are therefore, in preference, established as agricultural colonists, while those belonging to the higher classes, who are unaccustomed to manual labour, are generally located in the towns, where it is easier for them to find some means of subsistence, which may relieve the government from the burden of their support. Even independently of the political exiles, the number of the latter is great, for exile is the punishment which usually follows the detection of those peculations and abuses of power of which the Russian officials are so frequently guilty. On their first arrival, it seems, the exiles of this class are made to do penance in the churches, under the guardianship of the police, but after a time they are allowed to go about unguarded; and it is said that, when exiled for life, the Russians even of high birth bear the change of fortune with extraordinary equanimity, assimilating in a very short time, and without any apparent struggle, to the Cossacks and peasants among whom they are thrown. When, as is frequently the case, they marry Siberian women, their children in no way differ from the people among whom they live. In the city of Tobolsk, in particular, there are a great many exiles belonging to the class of unfaithful employés, the sentence being considered less rigorous the nearer the place of exile to the frontiers of Russia Proper. Political exiles are, on the contrary, sent farther north and east, where the nature of the surrounding country is such as to make an attempt at flight impossible, or at least very difficult. The hardships to which these exiles are subjected seem, in by far the greater number of cases, to be exclusively such as are necessarily connected with their being torn away from all they hold dear, and transplanted from the luxurious life of European society (for these exiles mostly belong to the higher classes) to the uncultivated wilds and rigorous climate of a country but very partially redeemed from the state of nature; but the tenderest sympathies of the natives of all races seem, by all accounts, to be readily bestowed upon the exiles, who, whatever be the nature of the offence of which they have been guilty, are never named by a harsher term than that of "unfortunates.' In many cases the lot of the political exiles is also mitigated by the kindness of the local authorities, who allow them the use of books and other indulgences, and even receive them as friends in their houses, when this can be done without risk of giving offence at St Petersburg.
As in Russia nothing with which the government is concerned can be commented on by the press without especial permission, it is difficult to ascertain correctly how far the system followed in Siberia works beneficially as regards the moral reformation of the criminals, and their relations to society in general. The accounts of travellers are very conflictingsome extolling the extreme leniency with which even the worst offenders are treated, as the ne plus ultra of social policy, and dwelling with delight on its happy results; while others consider it disastrous in its consequences, and relate instances of the most atrocious crimes committed by the convicts, and of whole tracts of country in which life and property have been rendered insecure by their presence. The statistics of Siberia, however, prove the country to be improving; and all travellers agree as to the freedom from molestation which they have experienced while traversing its immeasurable steppes ; and it is therefore but fair to conclude, that though the attempt at moral reformation may be unsuccessful in many instances, in general convict colonisation has here borne good fruits. That great severity in the chastisement of new transgressions has been found necessary, is on the other side proved by the penal laws bearing exclusively on Siberia. According to these laws, drunkenness, fighting, idleness, theft of articles of small value, unallowed absence from the place of detention, are considered venial offences, and are punished with from ten to forty lashes with the cat-o'-nine-tails ; while desertion among the colonists is punished, the first time with simple flogging, the second and third time with the cat-o’-nine-tails. If the offence be persisted in after this, sentence is to be pronounced by the local tribunals, and often consists in temporary removement to some distant and thinly-populated district, or incorporation in one of the penal labour companies. Convicts condemned to hard labour who attempt to escape are punished with the knout, and are branded on the forehead, in case this mark of ignominy have not previously been inflicted on them. Repeated thefts, robberies, and other like offences, are punished in the same way as desertion ; but in these cases the value of the objects stolen is not so much taken into consideration as the motives by which the criminals are actuated, and the number of times the offence has been repeated. A fourth repetition by an exile of a crime previously punished renders him liable to forty lashes with the knout, and to being placed in the category of the convicts condemned to forced labour. Murder, highway robbery, and incendiarism are, if the offender be a simple exile, punished with from thirty-five to fifty lashes with the knout, in addition to branding on the forehead, and forced labour in irons for a period of not less than three years—the term beyond this being left to the judgment of the local tribunals. The convict condemned to forced labour who renders himself guilty of similar crimes receives fifty-five lashes of the knout, is branded on the forehead, and is chained to the wall of a prison for five years, after which period he is allowed to move about, but must continue to wear fetters during his life. Criminals of this class are never to be employed beyond the prison walls, and are not even in illness to be taken into the open air beyond the prison -yard, or to be relieved from their chains, except by especial permission of the superior authorities, which can only be granted in consequence of a medical certificate.
The river Irtysh is the Styx of the Siberian Hades : from the moment they cross the ferry in the neighbourhood of the city of Tobolsk, the Russian employés appointed to offices in Siberia are placed in the enjoyment of the higher grade of rank which they so much covet; and from the moment they cross this same ferry commences the extinction of the political life of the exiles. Here they exchange the name by which, until then, they have been known in the world, for one bestowed upon them by the authorities, and any change of the latter is punished with five years'
compulsory labour over and above the original sentence. At Tobolsk sits the board which decides the final destination of each culprit or each martyr. It consists of a president and assessors, having under them a chancellerie divided into two sections, and has offices of dispatch in several of the towns of Siberia. Before their arrival at Tobolsk the convicts are, however, liable to be detained by the authorities of Kasan or Perm, for the public works in their respective governments.
It is as the land of political exile that Siberia is generally known, and that it has gained so unenviable a reputation among the liberty-loving nations of Europe, whose imagination pictures it to them as a vast unredeemable desert, whose icy atmosphere chills the breath of life, and petrifies the soul. Yet the truly benevolent should rejoice in circumstances which have led a government that punishes a dissentient word as severely as the direst crime, to select exile as the extreme penalty of the law. Siberia is, it is true, the great prison-house of Russia; but it is a prison - house through which the blessed light of the sun shines, through which the free air of plain and mountain plays, and in which the prisoner, though he may not labour in a self-elected field, may still devote his faculties to the benefit of his fellow-creatures, and continue the great task of moral and intellectual progress. How different his lot from that of the Austrian prisoner of state, doomed to drag on long years of a miserable existence in the dungeons of Spielberg, or some other fortress, severed from all intercourse with the world beyond his prison-walls, deprived even of the light of day, and left in solitude and forced idleness to brood over his dark and despairing thoughts!
HARRI ET TE;
OR THE RASH REPLY.
sentative of an old family in one of the southern counties of Scotland. The Bertrams had never occupied a distinguished place among the gentry of the country: they had never done anything to benefit others or to aggrandise themselves; they had never been heard of beyond the limits of their own district; their name was unknown to history alike for deeds of honour and infamy; but they could count I cannot tell how many generations, and they possessed a landed property which, thanks to the entail, had never passed out of the family. They were thus undeniably respectable, and were known and visited by everybody, although not much sought after by any—at least of the class to which they belonged; for though perfectly unexceptionable, their society could convey little distinction.
The present laird of Fernielee was placed in peculiarly trying circumstances. While fortune had denied him a son and heir, she had lavishly bestowed upon him six daughters, all grown up, and all unmarried. This was a compound evil ; for the property being entailed in the mạle line, passed to a distant branch of the family, and the income it yielded not being large, there seemed no possibility of providing suitably for the girls save by marriage; and though the eldest was now twenty-seven, no eligible admirer had yet presented himself to any of them. True, Miss Susan, the second daughter, had, when at the age of nineteen, imprudently contracted an engagement with a young man she had met when on a visit from home; but as this youth was neither rich nor wellborn, the engagement was summarily broken off by Mr Bertram, and poor Susan, from a laughing girl with rosy cheeks and merry blue eyes, became pale, and silent, and fretful, and almost as uncomfortably anxious to be wellmarried as her plain and commonplace elder sister. At one time great hopes had been entertained that a neighbouring laird would propose to the third daughter, Harriette; but after a time the flattering prospect seemed to vanish, and the gentleman in question, after a sojourn of six months at
Cheltenham, returned home with an English bride. The laird and his family in general were much chagrined. Harriette, indeed, bore it wonderfully well. The world believed her to be disappointed, but gave her credit for being a girl of spirit, who would not wear the willow. The world, however, gave Miss Harriette Bertram more credit than she deserved ; for she was not a slighted maiden, but, on the contrary, Mr Johnstone of the Grange was her rejected suitor. As little, however, as the world did her own family guess the real state of the matter. She knew that it would have been in vain to plead to her father that Mr Johnstone was vulgar in manners and person, and mean and illiterate in mind, and she therefore studiously concealed her rejection of his suit—a rejection which he himself took good care not to publish, and which he had never forgiven. As for Jane, Ellen, and Anne, the three younger Miss Bertrams, they belonged to the everyday class of young ladies. They did worsted work and crochet; doted on sentimental verses, the more meaningless the better; were devoted to waltzes and polkas; conversed chiefly about beaux and dress; always spoke in the hyperbolical vein; were perpetually imagining themselves in love, and were occasionally slightly jealous of each other, though more frequently on perfectly amicable terms. Their eldest sister, Marianne, they considered 'a downright old maid, and far too plain to be married ;' Susan they thought might still have a chance; while Harriette's establishment was certain, if she would only give a little more encouragement to her admirers. But I must now make my readers acquainted with Mr and Mrs Bertram.
The former was a little, foolish, fussy, important-looking man, with dark features, a long nose, and quick black eyes, which seemed to bespeak restlessness of disposition rather than activity of mind. As to the rest, he had a querulous, jealous temper, an insatiable craving after personal and social consequence, was fond of gossip, and totally devoid of anything resembling dignity of character. His wife had been a beauty in her youth, but her tall elegant figure was prematurely bent from ill health, the light of her glancing eyes dimmed with care, and her once gay spirit broken by the incessant worry of her daily life. Originally possessed of a fair share of abilities, her mind, ever since her marriage, had lain fallow, for she had neither aim nor hope in cultivating it. Poor Mrs Bertram! gentle, quiet, and subdued, she lived alone in the world, and endeavoured to find, in the hope of a better, consolation for her cheerless lot in the present. Even in her children's love, though passionately fond of them, she found but little sympathy. She shrank from their mirth and their gaiety, haunted by a feeling that her presence must be a check to their joy; while they, accustomed to see her all their lives plodding silently and uncomplainingly on amid her household cares, guessed not that it had ever been different with her, or that their confidence would have added to her happiness. She, too, wished her daughters were married, as she saw no other prospect of their being provided for, having endeavoured in vain to persuade her husband to insure his life. It was her proposal, her idea, and therefore could not be entertained. Was he not capable of judging for himself? Did he not know that these rascally offices made money by their transactions ? Where, then, could be the economy in having anything to do with them? Mrs Bertram shrank, however, from the idea of her daughters