9 DECEMBER 1854, Page 11


GRATE objection has been made to the publicity which the press has given to the movements of our forces in the East, as supplying information to the enemy; and in reply two excuses are advanced,—the effect which the exposure has had in quickening reinforcements; and the probability that the same information, transmitted to this country in thousands of private letters, would ultimately reach the enemy though the press were silent. Nor is this last supposition so unsubstantial as to the uninformed it might look. We do not hesitate to express our firm belief that a direct communication does exist between the private society of this country and the Emperor Nicholas. Although the spy plays a part in melodrama, he is a person also of real life. You may meet him in society, and most probably you have met him. He belongs to all classes. There is not in this respect much distinction between Governments; our own, for anything that we know, employs spies ; indeed, our strongest suspicions on that point are not of very antiquated date, although they do not relate to the Aberdeen Cabinet. The spy, however, is a dangerous tool ; he is not unfrequently the servant of both sides, betraying both—sometimes the servant of all sides, betraying all. We do not speak from a priori guessing, or from dramatic propriety, but from some knowledge of facts; although it is a subject in which it is absolutely impossible to handle the truth satisfactorily in a newspaper. It may, however, be illustrated by a few incidents.

English readers have heard of Powell the Chartist spy, with his predecessors Oliver and Edwards. There are Powells in other countries. Not long since, two gentlemen were visiting a foreign

city, and one of them, looking through a glass at the back of the carriage in which they were driving, saw sitting at the back a man who had previously dogged their steps. On discharging the driver, they reproached him with winking at the espionnage to which they had been subjected; and the man excused himself by saying that he could not help it—he was under police orders. The spy, who had heard the travellers talking such sentiments as are most usually uttered in English, afterwards came to them, confessed that he was a spy, but averred with tears and passionate exclamations that he was really of the Democratic party, and that he compensated for his odious service in the pay of an Imperial Government by rendering the same service gratuitously for his own party! Here was a Continental Powell in the service at once of the Home Office and of the Chartist Committee of those parts ! He is a low specimen of the domestic spy ; let us look higher.

In 1848, there were for a time more than one Revolutionary Government, more than one depot of distinguished refugees who sought refuge in neutral territories. At that time spies of a higher order were active ; but to what cause WU that man attached who bore messages between Revolutionary leaders in the most distant countries, was in confidential intercourse with Democratic sympathizers here, was seen simultaneously in our own Foreign Office, and could with impunity and ease traverse the dominions of Austria? Which party had the exclusive confidences of such a man ? Such cases, and they are not singular, prove the direct intercourse between society in different countries.

Take another example. Not long since, a foreigner came to London, and exchanged visits with other foreigners, all of them professedly Democratic in opinions, most of them refugees, in somewhat different grades of society, but certainly none of the poorer orders. Every visit thus exchanged was known in a Continental city within a few hours ; and the circumstances compel us to connect that fact with another, though the capital to which we have just referred was neither St. Petersburg nor Moscow. Some time since, we have heard it reported, there was at the court of the Emperor Nicholas a man remarkable for the utterance of extreme Democratic opinions. Now Nicholas has always been a monster-fancier, and his affabilities are exhaustless for a capricious Italian singer, a fast and reckless-tongued French hornplayer, or a stray Native American judge. The Democrat we have in our eye, however, was nothing else than a real Russian. He was favoured by the Emperor, though disliked by others ; but so substantial was the protection shown, that once when the Democrat and a Russian Prince fell out, it was the Prince that found himself in prison, not the Democrat. So far we speak only on report, and at this point we lose sight of that Russian Democrat. But the man was not singular in his genus. Russian Democrats are to be found from Tobolsk to Cincinnati. There is scarcely a capital in Europe where Democrats are to be found—and we know of no exception to the remark—in which Russia is not represented. But, we say, there are different classes of refugees, and comfortably feathered must be the neat of that Democrat who never wants a friend or a bottle of champagne to give him ; who mixes in the most Liberal parties, and is hand in glove with circles in the best society—ami de la maison, recommended by all the graces of a romantic position, the frankest profession of picturesque opinions, familiarity with bienseance, and that which lends vitality to all companionable qualities, a purse that removes every difficulty.

We have not exhausted our facts, but we have perhaps said enough to establish the possibility of direct communication between the very heart of private society and any Imperial Government whatsoever; Russia, however, notoriously enjoying that preeminence in the development of the spy and secret-agency system which the wealth, the activity, and the duplicity of her Autocrat command.