MEMOIRS OP A PRISONER OF STATE.
ANDRYANE, it may be remembered by the readers of the Spec- tator,* was an enthusiastic Frenchman, who about 1823 engaged in an attempt to excite insurrection against the Austrian power in Italy. In this rash scheme he was detected, arrested, and sub- jected to many harassing and inquisitorial examinations before a commission at Milan, to make him discover the plot and the actors. J3affling this attempt by his dexterity, M. ANDRYANE was with other conspirators condemned to death ; but his sentence was com- muted by the Emperor FRA:cas into a public exposure and impri- sonment for life in the fortress of Spielberg. In 1832, after many efforts on the part of his family, which appears to have possessed some consideration in France, he was pardoned. Some time after his liberation, M. ANDRYANE published, in two volumes an account of his sufferings and adventures till his arrival at Spielberg ; which FORTIINATo PRANDI, an Italian in London, very ably abridged and translated from French into English. Since then, the author has completed the narrative of his political career, by two more voluntes, giving an account of his imprisonment. These Signor PRANDI, in a like judicious manner, has also com- pressed into one volume : so that the entire four volumes of the diffusive Frenchman may be perused in two by the English public ; and that, we venture to say, without any loss of facts or informa- tion, if indeed a further condensation might not have taken place with advantage to the reader. Having formerly noticed at sufficient length the first volume, we shall at present confine ourselves to the second, which contains the narrative of the imprisonment at Spielberg. In its subject it is necessarily inferior in interest to its precursor ; the sameness of a prison life, let imperial ingenuity change it as it may, having much less variety than the autobiography of a hot-beaded Frenchman, the schemes of Italian refugees little wiser than himself, the skill of the Austrian police, the wiles of an artful inquisitor, and the suspense of a long-protracted trial. In some sense, too, one part of the in- terest was anticipated ; for though the imprisonment was less rigor- ous at Milan, it was sufficiently rigorous to drive the prisoners upon various arts to hold forbidden converse with each other. Nor is M. ANDRYANE, though he preserves the characteristic points of his subject, exactly a person to tell effectively a tale of' unrelieved misery and endurance. Ile is too rhetorical, too much addicted to the claptrap style and made-up effects of his countrymen, to im- press one with his sincerity or even Ms exactness. Not that we
believe him generally false in his facts—and he is in many cases supported by other authorities—but we never know how far he is to be trusted in the tilling-up. Still, even with an ample drawback for sentiment and flourishes, sufficient remains to give a full and very disgusting picture of an Austrian state prison and a paternal despotism.
To our minds, however, the disgust is not so much at the cruelty, though there is enough of that, as at the jealous and petty spirit of the tyrant, and the meanness which tyranny causes both in the chief and in his agents. A prison is not intended to be a place of en- joyment anywhere ; and is less likely to be so on the Continent than in this country. Men who aim at destroying authority, must take their account with suffering whatever that authority is in the habit of inflicting upon such offenders; and we presume that 'Ali.. FROST and his coVrt'res will be able to tell a tale of grief some ten years hence, unless the usual punishment is mitigated. But the chief feature in this case is, that the state prisoners at Spielberg were under the immediate superintendence of the Emperor FRANcIS Erniumett himself having no influence over them or power of ameliorating their lot. The Emperor had a plan of the prison, and directed in person the arrangement of each offender, the cell he was to occupy, and the person with whom he was to be confined. Not content with the reports of the regular officers of the prison, he employed spies in the guise of clergymen to worm their political secrets out of the prisoners, under the religious plea of confession. He made use of the affections of the prisoners for a similar purpose ; availing himself of the illness of near relations to work upon their love of freedom and their anxiety, pardon being the implied pledge of an avowal. When he found these means ineffective, he increased the monotonous wretchedness of' imprison- ment by the most paltry and cold-blooded contrivances. It was alleged, and perhaps truly, that the regulated use of their books had been permitted by the connivance of -the authorities at Spielberg; and the books were directed to be taken away. The windows of some of the cells were above the parapet, and commanded a view of the surrounding country : the wall was raised, by the Emperor's orders, to shut out the prospect. A few stunted rose-trees grew on the little platform where they were allowed to walk ; and the gaolers of Spielberg were censured by an inspector, for allowing the * 'Spectator, No. 520; 16th June 1838. prisoners' eyes this trivial relief to desolation. As it was suspected —which was the fact—that some books were still secreted, a most rigorous search took place ; the prisoners being made to strip perfectly naked, and, ill or well, kept in their shirts a long time in cold weather, exposed to the damp of their cells,—an act which, in itself, Englishmen are scarcely entitled to comment upon, seeing that their worships of Warwickshire treat political offenders in the same way ; but their conduct was not dictated by the mean motives of FRANCIS, and what may be passed in Justice Shallow is disgraceful in a crowned head. M. ANDRYANE had whiled away part of the time by inditins- a work, with such miserable paper as was supplied, and such Substitutes for pen and ink as ingenuity could furnish. After one search, however, he had taken the precaution to intrust the manuscript to the gaoler; whose apartment being searched too, the man had just time to burn the document. The prisoners petitioned FRANCIS for work, on account of their ill health and ennui,—meaning, of course, active labour : the Emperor directed them to be employed in making lint, and then in knitting. When illness attacked any one, neither the medical nor other officers could direct the removal of a state prisoner, or adopt such obvious precautions as the necessity of the ease required. Reference had to be made to Vienna ; and, from the delay which generally took place, it would appear as if the Emperor were trying how much nature would endure, or whether the mind could be brought to betray its secrets, (supposing it to have any,) before the body would give way. Such are some of the mean and miserable occupations of a paternal despot; such the just consequences into which tyranny degrades the tyrant. Its effects too upon the children of the parent-despot, are well marked in a paper by MARONCELLI, inserted in the Appendix; and part of which we quote, as better adapted to our columns than the more diffused text.
" The Austrians have always been considered as the problem, or rather enigma of the human race. They are good people, yet they will commit any cruelty with a kind of religious feeling: they have in their conscience no standard of absolute right or wrong, and only perceive such things through the Imperial will. The most degrading action, when the Emperor is to be served, becomes ennobling, and is executed with devotion, nay, with enthu- siasm, as if it were an act of heroism of which anybody might feel proud. No official of any other German state, however humble in condition, would have stooped to the duties which Governors-General of Police, Senators and Aulic Councillors came to perform in the dungeons of Spielberg. I will give a few instances of Austrian servility. "The Director-General of Police and Councillor of State came to make us the first inquisitorial inspection on the 17th of March 1825. The dungeon first searched was ours. There were seven cells ; the Director-General began work at seven o'clock in the morning with lights, and only concluded at seven o'clock in the evening, with lights. Considering that our furniture consisted of two sacks of straw, two blankets, two jugs, and two wooden spoons, it is difficult to conceive what could prolong the visit for twelve hours; but this may prove with what zealous minuteness he must have proceeded. The two sacks of straw were carried out on the platform, in order to ascertain whether there was any thing concealed. The blankets were shaken' the jugs emptied. Afterwards we were stripped, our shirt was taken off and put on again, and thus we were left.
"The Director-General then drew a knife out of his pocket, and began to rip open all the seams of our trousers and jacket. Our very shoes underwent a similar review; but I interrupted it, being worked up into a state of indigna- tion such as I had never before experienced. This operation appeared to me so base and unbecoming to him who performed it, that I felt ashamed of being before a worm in human likeness, decorated with orders, and thus dragging in the dirt the imperial dignity in the name of which he acted. On the other hand, I saw poor Pellico, with his teeth chattering with cold and fever—Pellico for three-quarters of an hour in his shirt waiting until his Excellency the Councillor of State should conclude his iniquitous work ! I could bear this no longer' and clenching my fists, in a voice choked with rage, I desired him to give ablanket to my friend. " He refused ; but fortunately, before my blind fury drove me to a rash act, the good Krall (an under gaoler),interpost;i1 and obtained a covering for my sick companion. Nevertheless, this brutality caused him a severe illness. * * "The day after, we were summoned to account for the things seized. Pel- lico for a wooden fork and a pair of spectacles ; myself, for an eye .glass and a wooden fork. " Addressing Silvio, the Director-General said, 6 W- hohas given you per- mision to keep these spectacles? ' All, and no one, answered my friend; 'for these three years that I have been at Spielberg, they have always rested upon my nose. His Excellency the Governor, the Commandant of Spielberg, and even yourself have always seen and allowed them.'
'66 I have never observed them ; I do not remember. They are an infrac- tion of the regulation ; I cannot return them.'
" It is impossible to conceive how miserable this privation rendered Pellico. He said, ' Your severity surpasses that of the Emperor ; his Majesty con- demned me to fifteen years' earcere disco, but did not take away my sight. You, indeed, blind me.
" The Director shrugged his shoulders and passed to another question. 'A fork!' he cried ; do you know that a fork is a great violation of disci- pline?' " Silvio was good and patient, but he could not put up with certain Stupid exactions, when they were represented as necessary to good order. It appeared to him that good order could not be disturbed by our being permitted the use of a wooden fork. He tried in vain to drive into the Director-General's bead, which was certainly as wooden as our forks, the harmlessness of such
a concession : it was of no use. • •
"Count Mitrosky, then Governor-General of Moravia, came to see us, and expressed much concern at what had happened; but he assured us that he could not take upon himself to restore our forks and the spectacles, because the affair was pending.
" ' And where is this great matter of the wooden forks pending?' we asked. " At Vienna, my friends, at Vienna ; before the Emperor himself.' " 'The seizure of the wooden forks is more ridiculous than cruel; but your Excellency will allow that we were only condemned to the careere duro, and not to blindness.'
" Most certainly,' he answered, affected. Then taking off his own spec- tacles quite unconsciously, he looked affrighted at the darkness in which he remained, felt pity on Pellico, and pressed !Mu to accept them. My com- panion returned thanks, and declined the offer without giving offence. Count Mitrosky left us, showing signs of much emotion, and the next day the spec- taeles and the eyeglass were restored. I cannot say whether this was in con- sequence of an Imperial decision ; but I know that for the forks we had a con- trary decree. "I have given a specimen of the visits which we received once a month from the Director-General of Police ; but before these the Commandant of Spielberg also inspected our cells of' his own accord. And as the Director of Police controlled the Commandant, so was he himself controlled by an Anlic-Councillor, or a Minister of State. For this purpose, the Emperor sent a similar personage from Vienna every Tear, concealing his coming even from the Governor-General of the Province, in order that we might all be taken by surprise. The first of these High Inspectors was the Baron Munch Von Bellinghausen ; the second, the Count or Baron von Vogel ; the third, a nameless individual, to whom they gave the title of Councillor of State. "The Barons von Bellinghausen and von Vogel complained especially of a supposed correspondence between ourselves and some persons without. They could find out nothing ; but to quiet the suspicions of the Emperor, he was provided with an exact drawing of the corridor in Ivhich our dungeons were situated, showing the communication from it to our platform, and the imme- diate entrance from this into the chapel. The doors, windows, and openings of every kind had been walled up, so that we could not even be seen by the convicts. The plan was accompanied by an horary, tom which his Majesty could perceive that at almost every hour our dens were opened to admit water, bread, dinner, the rounds, &e.—that cell No. I walked at a certain time, cell No.2 at another, and so on. Thus, by the reports sent him after each monthly inspection, he saw whether any innovations were introduced in the system of discipline lie had himself devised for us. "The yearly visits were still more severe. Baron Munch von Bellinghausen discovered on .Foresti's pallet a pair of knitted woollen gloves. On leaving the cell he remonstrated with the Governor-General, Count Mitrosky ; the Governor reproved the Commandant, and the Commandant reprimanded his inferiors, who all attested that similar gloves were allowed to the convicts, 'being indispensable on account of cold, and even ordered by the physician. Notwithstanding this, the gloves were taken away. "The next day we were called to account. ' Who gave you these gloves?' inquired the Director•General of Police; who permitted you to wear them?'
"'They are of our own making,' replied Foresti ; and we have used them by your own permission.' ‘" I have permitted no such thing ; it is not true.'
" You forget, Sir. When the winter set in, as we were obliged to knit stockings, you allowed us to employ our wool and needles to make gloves, like those of the convicts, that we might protect our hands from the severity of the season.'
" Knitting stockings is the Imperial command, and therefore your bounden duty ; but to apply the wool and needles given you for that purpose to make gloves, is a downright transgression."
It should be said that the present volume, like the former, is very remarkable as a composition ; an Italian translating, or rather abridging, from French into English, with as much ease and spirit as a native.