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« In the hands of the Cossack officer.” He was silent, and the concern he felt was visible in his countenance. The passport soon appeared ; Sellin perused it, and then asked if I was the president de Kotzebue. The question on his part was singular. “ Doubtless," I replied, “ I am that person.” “In that case,” continued he, (but he instantly stopped short, and I observed that his countenance was pale and his lips quivering),—then addressing himself to my wife ; 6 be not ala med, madam,” said he; “but I have orders to arrest your husband.” The unhappy woman gave a loud shriek, her knees tottered, she flew to me, threw herself about my neck, and began to load herself with the bitterest reproaches. My children could not understand what was going forward, and I myself was petrified; but the sight of my wife, who was falling into swoon, restored my presence of mind : I took her into my arms and placed her in a chair; I then strove all in my power to console her, and she recovered; then, attending to what related to myself, I turned instantly towards Šellin : “Tell me,” said “what your orders imply; and above all keep nothing from me.”—“ ] am commanded to seize your papers, and to send them, together with yourself, to the governor of Mittau.”
-“What will happen to me there ?”-“Your papers will be examined, and the governor will receive further instructions upon the business.” Nothing more?”—“ Nothing: “ And my family may accompany me?”_" Certainly.”-“Well, then," said I to my dear and excellent wife, we may make ourselves perfectly easy. We are going to Mittau, such was our original intention. We shall have to stay there a day, perhaps, and that will be all. My papers are in order, and can be liable to no suspicion : this arrest is nothing more than mere precaution, a measure of prudence, which may be overlooked in a monarch during the revolutions which at this time convulse the world. The emperor does not know me, he knows only that I am
an author; many writers have been led astray by the system of liberty which now agitates Europe ; his majesty suspects me to be one of that number, and in truth I would rather he should frankly declare his suspicions than keep them to himself. He will now learn what sort of a person I am, and his knowledge of me will turn to my advantage; I shall perhaps gain his confidence.”
In this manner I expressed myself, as I pressed my still trembling wife to my heart. Heaven knows that I spoke what I felt ; for, convinced as I was of my guiltlessness, what had I to dread ?--My wife soon came to herself. She had imagined we were instantly to be separated, that I should be ill-treated, thrown into a common cart; but when she saw that no violence was used, and that we were to continue our journey together, she ceased to be much alarmed.
My baggage had been searched, my portfolio and other papers seized; nothing now remained unexamined but my person. I was obliged to turn my pockets inside out, and to lay upon the table every scrap of
bill of travelling expenses ! had about me. I was provoked at this, and could not disguise my feelings. It is my duty,” said Sellin, in a low and half-choked voice. I was not angry with him, for it was evident that he was acting an invo. luntary and painful part.
He now requested us to take out of our trunks whatever things we might want on the road from Polangen to Mittau, for his orders obliged him to seal up our baggage. I had a small box, containing such things as were of daily use, as tobacco, razors, medicines, &c. Having begged that this box might go unsealed, he had the goodness to indulge me in my wish, but was desirous to examine it more closely. As the bottom was thick, he asked me if the box contained a vacant space for the purpose of concealing papers. "No," I replied. I had bought it at Vienna, and had never examined its construction; but here it
seems people understand better the art of discovering secrets. Sellin touched a spring, which discovered a second bottom and that bottom was found empty. “You see,” said I with a smile, “the little use which I had for a false bottom; I possessed the box without being aware of this contrivance.” He was himself so well convinced of this, that he told the officer, in the Russian language, that he was satisfied of my ignorance of it.
The inquisition was now over, but we had to wait for a long attestation, which was drawing up at the chancery. Our children had nothing to eat; for so eagerly had we driven on to our ruin, that, although a dinner was ready at the last post-house, we had refused to partake of it. I asked for some refreshment for them; as for ourselves, it will easily be supposed we did not stand in need of any. Sellin immediately ordered such provisions as were at hand to be set before them.
But notwithstanding the politeness of Sellin on the occasions already mentioned, he refused to grant me a request which I conceived to be a very reasonable
I had left my aged mother in a bad state of health, and had reason to fear that, on her hearing what had happened to me, her apprehensions would prove fatal. I begged leave to write a few lines to her, which Sellin himself might have read and sealed up. He was, however, deaf to all my entreaties; but I am sure that this refusal, which occasioned me so much affliction, was equally painful to this humane man, who made it in spite of his own feelings.
He afforded me indeed some consolation, by assuring me that I might write from Mittau. I then turned to Weyrauch, who had been present during the whole scene, and grasping his hand, entreated him not to mention a word at Memel of what had happened, lest some newspaper writers should make it public. This he promised me in the most solemn
But what shews clearly that the worthy Sellin was not master of himself in the execution of this painful duty, was, that Weyrauch, whom he had not noticed, had been allowed to be present. I was a prisoner of state, the order for my arrest was to be kept a profound secret ; such instructions were inserted on the back of it, pro secreto. In this case, the officer who receives it, is obliged, under the highest responsibility, to impart the contents to no one; and much less is he allowed to execute the warrant in the presence of witnesses. I am perfectly convinced that the great embarrassment he was under, was the sole cause of the inadvertency of which he had been guilty.
My business was now finished, my trunks sealed up, and the horses put to. The cradle of my youngest child, which had been fixed behind the carriage, now gave place to one of the servants, whose seat forward was to be occupied by a Cossack who escorted us. My portfolio was likewise sealed, and replaced in the pocket of the coach, and the keys were returned to me. I refused, however, to take them, reflecting that the string of the seals might break and create new grounds of suspicion. I therefore insisted on their being also sealed up.
Sellin having executed his painful task, resumed his accustomed manner of behaviour, and urged everything he could that might tend to console us. In all probability I shall never see him again; but should the narrative of my sorrowful adventures, which I am now writing, be one day published, let him read therein the gratitude of a heart deeply affected by a sense of his kindness, and which will ever continue to cherish his name and image.
We got into our carriage, and henceforth had the exhibition of a Cossack, armed with his sabre and pistols, seated directly before us. My children were much amused at this, but my wife shed tears; and as for myself, I continued to preserve my usual composure of mind. I even tried to calm her, by affecting a gaiety of disposition. The sight of the Cossack, had it not been for his arms, had nothing formidable in it. He was a tall well-built man, very civil, and very officious ; every time we got out of the carriage he politely took off his cap.
Seated in a kibick* behind was a captain, a Pole by birth, whose name I do not recollect. He spoke a little German, had been, during the revolution, aidde camp to general Mirbach, and since that time in close confinement at Mittau for a whole year. He had I know not what employment in the customhouse, and he appeared to be as ill calculated for this disagreeable commission as the worthy Sellin himself. We were during the journey upon a very civil footing together. He was not of the least inconvenience to me, and I should have entirely forgotten that he was present, had not my purse obliged me, in this ex. pensive part of Courland, to recollect him; the expense of post-horses and provisions being entirely at my charge.
The distance from Polangen to Mittau is computed at thirty-six German miles. We were three days upon the road, and all the time kept up our spirits tolerably well
My wife, indeed, seemed to be quite recovered : we had nothing farther to apprehend than a delay at Mittau, which would however prove disagreeable, on account of the high price of provisions there, and because we had already informed our friends in Livonia of the day we expected to arrive. In fact, what had we to fear? I had already been in the service of Russia, and was provided with a testimonial that I had acquitted myself with probity and honour. I had been for three years, with the emperor's leave, in the service of Austria : and, as dramatic writer to that court, had fulfilled every duty incumbent on a good subject. On leaving Vienna I had returned to the
* A Russian cart.