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A correspondent of the “ Pall Mall Gazette ” in describing the peculiar aspect of affairs in Russia says : —“ Nobody talks of Liberalism in drawing-rooms, for there are so many conspiracies a-foot There is so much espionage, arresting, and exile to Siberia that the most dangerous rebels are those who use the most fulsome adulation in speaking of the Court. An imprudent word might cost too dear, at a moment when assassins are believed to he lurking elsewhere, and when the official journals are screaming in a panic to the police that they aie not active nor watchful enough. Here is a little example of what the police ai-e expected to do. After the attack on General Grenteln it was ascertained that the young man who had shot at him had for some weeks previously been taking riding lessens, with a view, as it now seems, of escaping readily after his crime. So the “Golos” writes : —‘ It is astonishing that the owner of the riding-school did not feel his suspicions excited by the young man’s coming daily to take lessons. He should have made enquiries, and had him vatched.’ Watch a man because he takes riding lessons ! Why not, then, set detectives upon every person who dines daily at the same restaurant ? As a fact, it seems that the police do watch so much and so annoyingly that a prudent man wil not stop to stare at the Imperial palace, nor ask audience of a Minister, nor purchase cartridges for his sporting guns, lest he should be suspected of sinister designs. Foreigners who come into Russia have always been closely looked after by the police, but now Russians travelling in their own country are pestered quite as much as foreigners. A hoyard from the provinces comes up to St. Petersburg on business, and alights at a great hotel like Demuth’s. He must exhibit his passport, vised by the authorities of all the towns where he has spent a night during his journey ; and this done he must obtain a poemis de sejour from the police of the capital. While he has gone to one of the officers of the Third Section on this errand detectives who have requested him to give up his keys, proceed to his hotel room and overhaul every article in his luggage, confiscating his private letters at the same time for leisurely perusal at their convenience. Our tourist returns to table d’hote dinner, and enter's into conversation with a fellow-countryman by his side, or he goes out to spend an evening at the Winter Garden, and falls in with some strangers whom he has known in Paris. Next day he is arrested and brought to book for having been seen chatting to people who turn out to be conspirators. It may he said that a man can avoid talking to .strangers at a table d’hote ; but the provincial Russian may chance to be arrested simply because he has attended a party at the house of some great lady who has been collared by the police because she is a friend of a prince of the blood, who has recently fallen into disgrace. When one hears of the Czarewitch being made a prisoner in his own house, of another Grand Duke being exiled to his estates, and of dozens of noblemen, ladies, and oven young girls being arrested for supposed complicity with the Nihilists, it becomes obvious that the moral atmosphere in which Russian society is now living, must be one of freezing terror. People who have spent the last winter season at St. Petersburg describe it as having been funereally dull ; though this city was never so crowded with wealthy families, because most of the landowners have grown afraid to live on their estates, not only because they dread Nihilist rising amongst the peasantry, but because they fear to have enemies at Court who might accuse them of having fomented such outbreaks. This miserable state of public uneasiness canr ot last long. The Russians are an impulsive people, who love to talk and enjoy themselves. They had enough compression under Nicholas ; and the present revival of this regime can only result in converting all of them into conspirators. In fact, they are all conspirators as it is ; for everybody is more or less exercised in devising means of extrication from the quandary, and it must needs be that many incline to means which are deprecated by the authorities. As to the Czar’s intentions, nothing is known. But he is supposed to be brooding in the helpless be vilderment of a man who is afraid to touch a single brick in a cranky fabric lest the whole of it should tumble down.”

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Bibliographic details

THE REIGN OF TERROR IN RUSSIA., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 56, 3 February 1880

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THE REIGN OF TERROR IN RUSSIA. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 56, 3 February 1880