That Russian Prison Ship.
Hitherto T have only forwarded to you reports of the voyage of the Nigua Novgorod as they appeared in the Russian press from time to time. Ito dd not guarantee the accuracy of any of the statements published, and, indeed, the minimum amount of sickness mentioned by the captain seemed remarkably small—something like the “ one man wounded ” in the reports of war skirmishes. In any ease those reperts were utterly irreconcilable with the astounding statements published in England. I stated that [ w-« m leavoring to gain further informs io i to help to elucidate the question in till ibsonce of information from the Foreign Office from English sources. I have not /et obtained the information desired, but 1 have seen letters of an entirely unofficial character written by an officer of a ship to us family in all the freedom of unrestrained ■ntercourse. Two, which bear internal evidence that the/ wore never intended for publication, sitisfy mo that the entire statement respecting the mortality on hoard the vessel is a fabrication, without any foundation whatever to sustain it. The letters are in the form of a diary. They narrate that shortly after leavin O lessa the fetters were removed from all the pris mers. Each day’s incidents and cases of illness which occurred are also narrated. At or near Alexandria one case of mortal sickness is mentioned. It is not stated subsequently whether the prisoner died. Several suffered from sunstroke in the Red Sea, and a large number from tropical rash, not one case as stated by the captain. A contemporary converts 34degs. heat ? Reaumur, into 79 Fahrenheit. A more correct calculation would be 110 Fahrenheit. If it be asked how could persons endure and survive such heat in the hold of a vessel, anyone knowin <■ the habits of the Russii ns, sleeping huddled together bj? their stoves in winter, or in summer enjoying their mid-day sleep by the road-side under the blazing sun, or in the unwholesome atmosphere of the habited houses, would find it possible to believe in their groat power of enduring heat and close air. From the frank and detailed narrative already mentioned, it is quite clear that, except in the case of mortal sickness, angina pectoris and a few cases of sunstroke, there had been no sesious amo.ilnt of illness up to the arrival at Aden after passing through the Red Sea—the worst part of the voyage. Yet it has been circumstantially narrated in England, and too readily believed, that 250 persons died on board, and that 160 were landed in a dying condition where no English agent could report such an occurrence. As to the number and character of the prisoners, I have information from an equally reliable source which leads me to believe that there was not a single woman prisoner on board, much less any woman of education. The male prisoners were criminals convicted by the ordinary tribunals. lam informed from independent sources that it is extremely improbable a single political prisoner was on board the ship. I believe, also, that there is no foundation whatever for the statement that there were 250 deaths and 150 persons landed in a dying state, except the prophecy of some person said to have boarded the vessel at the Bosphorus, who appears to have ascertained somehow that not one third could reach their destination, and forthwith telegrams were fabricated to meet this statement, quickly disposing of 400 out of the 600 on board.—St. Petersburg correspondent of the London “ Daily News,” August Cth,
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Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 15, 30 October 1879
That Russian Prison Ship. Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 15, 30 October 1879
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