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when I declare that, in proportion as the carriage drove on, I found my spirits rise, and my heart recover its force. I began to look into the future. What did it present ? New enquiries—the examination of my papers, my conduct, my peaceable way of life. I had to deal with a just monarch who would not condemn me unheard. What then could happen to me? Some slight inconveniences, the natural consequence of my imperfect knowledge of the Russian language ; but, thought I to myself, I shall have an interpreter; I may for awhile be deprived of a few comforts, and must alter my usual habitudes a little. These things are unpleasant; but surely they are not very great misfortunes. And though I may be visited by the return of a chronic disorder, which has tormented me for twelve years past, yet there are good physicians at Petersburgh; why then should I think myself unhappy? It is no doubt a disagreeable incident, but then it is only momentary. I am about to visit friends I was voluntarily seeking ; some extra expense will be incurred; but that is merely the sacrifice of a little money, the least painful of all sacrifices. I was besides fully persuaded that the governor of Mittau would take the greatest care of my family. He had promised me that everything should be done for them that humanity and his own good wishes could suggest.*
Riga is not more than seven short German miles from Mittau, yet we did not arrive there till midnight. It was dark when we approached the banks of the Duna, which laves the walls of that hospitable city; and as the floating bridge had not been restored on account of the great floods, we were obliged to cross the river in a common boat, which considerably retarded our journey.
When we arrived at the gate, our courier alighted and went into the guard-house, where he staid a considerable time; but this circumstance gave me no
* It will hereafter appear that niy hopes unhappily were not realized.
At length he appeared, and ordered that we should drive to the post-house, not through the city properly so called, but in a circuitous manner, through several long and crooked streets. We were delayed but a short time; fresh horses were quickly put to the carriage, and we proceeded.
I must here remark, that the post-order (podsroschne) allowed three horses in the name of the emperor, and that the post masters frequently put four. The fourth horse was sometimes paid for, and sometimes not. In the first case, they had the postorder in their favour, and the extra horse was at my expense.
We left Riga about two o'clock in the morning. The air was extremely cold, exhausted nature called for repose, and letting down the windows I fell asleep. At the next post I awoke; I merely observed it was daylight, and again closed my eyes.
What language can describe my astonishment and terror when, on awaking a short time after, I perceived that the route had been changed. With difficulty was I so much master of myself as to suppress a scream of horror, just ready to escape me. A kind of instinct however prompted me to remain silent. I am unable to describe what passed in my mind : Whither are they taking me? Where are my papers to be examined? Who is to examine them? In 'a word, what are they going to do with me?--All these queries rushed upon my mind at once; they distracted my brain, but remained totally unsolved. Could I indeed conceive it possible that I was to be thus dragged to the world's end, without having been either heard or examined ?
Being arrived at the post-house, I asked for some coffee, more with a view of gaining time than from a want of refreshment. While it was preparing, I walked about the room in much agitation of mind; the counsellor stood near the carriage conversing with the post-master ; the courier kept looking at him from the window, till he was sure he was not observed by him : then addressing me, according to the Russian custom,“ Fedor Carlovitsch,” said he, “ we are not going to Petersburgh, we are going much farther.”« Where?” said I in a broken voice.-" To Tobolsk, my dear sir.”—“To Tobolsk !”—At this word my knees shook under me, and a tremor seized my
whole frame. “ Can you read Russian?” added he (still keeping his eyes on the counsellor).—“A little," replied I.-“ Look at the post-order.”-I read, “By command of his Imperial Majesty, &c. from Mittau to Tobolsk, Aulic Counsellor Schstschkatichin, and a person with him, accompanied by a Senate-courier, on affairs relative to the Crown, &c.”—Let the reader, if he be able, imagine my sensations at this dreadful discovery. I was completely thunderstruck.
“I would have told you this at Mittau,” said the courier ; “ but we were too closely observed : I have been extremely sorry for you from that very moment. I have a wife, and I have children too; I well know
.." I thanked him; and he begged me to be careful not to let it be perceived that he had intrusted me with this secret; for, said he, the counsellor is a severe, unfeeling man.
The counsellor now entered the room : fortunately he was no better versed in the science of physiognomy than in the natural history of the cuckoo, or he would not have overlooked the paleness of my cheeks, and the convulsive tremor of my whole body. He swallowed a glass of brandy without perceiving anything extraordinary in me. The coffee came in, and, as it may naturally be supposed, I did not taste it. I pretended to be indisposed, and heaven knows I was not a little so ! I paid for the coffee, the
counsellor drank it, and we continued our journey. The roughness of the road brought me to my senses, and then it was that the idea of making my escape for the first time came into my head. I am banished to Siberia, said I to myself, without having been heard, without any legal process, without sentence, by the mere force of tyranny, without even being informed why I am sent thither.”
The whole business is incomprehensible: either the emperor is an entire stranger to it, or I am the victim of infamous imposture. My papers then are not the cause of my arrest, or they would have undergone an examination before I could have been condemned to so heavy a punishment. Some enormous crime has been laid to my charge; false information has been lodged against me, and the calumniator, in order to screen himself from detection, has caused me to be exiled unheard; to be buried alive in Siberia. In Siberia !—Ah, how shall I ever be able to justify myself there? Will my complaints reach the shores of the Baltic ? And should they indeed find their way thither, on what shall. I ground my justification, when I am even ignorant of what I am accused ? Let me then make my escape! This idea took deep root in my mind, and soon became a fixed resolution.
On the brow of a hill on the banks of the Duna, and near the post-house, stands an ancient castle, which belonged to a Livonian prince, who, after having for a while defended himself against a host of christians, received baptism with all his subjects. The picturesque appearance of the ruins inspired me with the idea of seeking a shelter among them, even at the hazard of perishing with hunger. With this idea was combined a favourable recollection. I remembered that the estate, which was called Koken. husen, belonged to a baron de Löwenstern, with whom I had become acquainted in Saxony. He had the reputation of being a worthy man. I knew him to be so, and in case of need it occurred to me that I might surrender myself up to him.
We were now arrived at the post-house ; the master and his family seemed to be good sort of people. While the counsellor was at a little distance, and the horses were changing, I enquired, in German, to
whom this estate belonged ? -“ To baron de Löwenstery," was the reply:-“Where does he live?” — “ Just below”-pointing to his house at a small dis. tance.-" Is he at home?". -“ No, he is now fourteen verstes off, at Stockmannshoff, with his brother-inlaw.”—" And his family likewise?" (I knew his lady, one of the best women in the world, and his children, who were worthy of such parents).-"Yes,” replied they.--"Is Stockmannshoff in our way?”—“You will pass through it.”-" Is Dopart far off?"_“Six German miles." It was not possible to make farther enquiries; the horses were put to, and we hurried away,
An accident happened on the road which afforded me no small satisfaction. One of our horses became restive, and suddenly stood still. The postillion used every effort to make him move, without effect; in spite of hallooing and beating, the animal remained immovable. My companions now began to swear, and bestowed on the whole Livonian nation the grossest abuse.
Every expedient being at length exhausted, our courier gave vent to his ill-humour in beating the postillion. The latter dismounted, and declared he would not go on if he was to be treated in that manner. This declaration was very natural, but it threw the counsellor into a rage; he alighted, and making up to the first tree cut off a thick branch, then seizing the postillion by the throat, threw him on the ground, and began to beat him without mercy. He then ordered him to take the reins again, if he did not wish for a repetition of the discipline which he had just received. But while he was getting into the carriage, and the courier was engaged in helping him up, the postillion, who had a very good pair of legs, was quickly at a hundred paces from us. In vain the courier strove to overtake him; the man had already gained too much ground, and his pursuer was obliged to return. We were now left on the high road, with a restive horse and without a driver. In this sad perplexity what was to be done? To return