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Such inordinate severity as had been lately meted out to political offenders in Russia can hardly fail to meet with adverse comment on all sides. We learn that o eight-and-twenty persons, condemned together at Odessa a very short time ago, to various terms of hard labour in the Siberian mines, the average age was but twenty-three. Among this batch of prisoners there is a young girl of fifteen, whom it appears the Russian Government considers it necessary for the proper security and safety of the State, to confine for months with common criminals, and afterwards to send to associate for an indefinite period with the convict class in Siberia. And this dangerous criminal appears to have been guilty of no worse infraction of the law than that, being present at the trial and sentencing of a political offender, she thoughtlessly exclaimed, “ Kovaßki is condemned to death.” In the same black list we find a youth of eighteen, sentenced to twenty years’ hard labour in the mines, and two young ladies of twenty-two and twentyfive, condemned to the same punishment for a term of fifteen years. It may not be out of place to glance at what this punishment in the mines is like, taking the testimony of a recent eye-witness, who visited one of these convict settlements a short time ago, with an official authorisation. He tells how, starting from Tobolsk, he made 1 ‘ a long drearv j ourney in a wretched car, until a high mountain rose before him. In its torn and craggy flank the hill showed a colossal opening, similar to the mouth of a burnt out crater. Fetid vapours, which almost took away the breath, ascended frorq it. ’’ Entering the opening of the rock, he then passed “ through a long, very dark and narrow corridor, which, judging from its sloping descent, led down into some unknown depth. ” Having now reached the interior of the mine, he found a part of the unhappy prisoners resting from the labours of the day on beds of damp and rotten straw. Beyond this was a vast cavern, in which he saw large numbers of wretched

creatures, “ with shaggy beards, sickly faces, reddened eyelids, clad in tatters, some of them barefoot, others in sandals, fettered with heavy foot-chains. There was no song, no whistling. Now and then they shyly looked at the visitor and his companions. The water dripped from the s'one ; the tatters of the convicts wore throughly wet.” Considering the utter bopoleatnoss and misery depicted, the oftquoted and mournful words of Dante may well bo recalled to memory. “Lasciate ogui speranza, voi ch’entcate,” and indeed they may be applied with literal truth for the convicts seen here were all condemned to perpetual labour, and the traveller was further told that no prisoners having once entered could ever hope to Uv.vo the place alive. “Charing Cross Magazine. ”

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Bibliographic details

NIHILISM IN RUSSIA., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 53, 27 January 1880

Word Count

NIHILISM IN RUSSIA. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 53, 27 January 1880

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