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THE ESTABLISHMENT OF COURTS MARTIAL IN GEORGIA.
In answer to the "Frankfort Journal," denying the existence of a war of the Caucasian population against Russia, we have only to quote a recent Imperial Ukase, by which, from reasons portending no very peaceable condition of those provinces, which the Reader shall find explained in that instrument, civil tribunals are superseded by a Court Martial.
In consequence of a representation made by General Baron de Rosen, Commander of a separate corps of the Caucasus, to the effect that the Nomadic Tartars of the districts Bartshalinsk, Kasacks, and Shamshadilsh, in Georgia, who compose the majority of the population in those provinces, continue, in defiance of all the measures adopted by the Government, to rob and plunder travellers; and that, according to the prejudices prevailing amongst them, all such crimes are looked upon by them as deeds of valour, and the guilty never fail to meet with protection; His Imperial Majesty has most graciously ordered that such of fenders shall not as heretofore be delivered over to the civil tribunals for trial, but that, as the General may think requisite, they may be brought before a Court Martial: and that the latter shall institute an inquiry into the cases with the utmost possible speed, in order that punishment may be inflicted on such criminals without the least delay.
We cannot help confessing, that the state of those provinces must be far from satisfactory, if General Rosen,
whose character for humanity is so generally known, found himself compelled to apply to the Autocrat for such an atrocious instrument — which, placed in his hands, renders him the sole arbiter of life and death of the whole population. The consequences of such Ukases are incalculable. We have before us one which was issued during the Polish war in 1831, establishing a Court Martial for the purpose of stifling the insurrection in Lithuania. In consequence of it, the inhabitants of that province were doomed to have their properties confiscated; numbers of the inhabitants transported to Siberia; parents were held responsible for their children; the latter were dragged off to military colonies; and capital punishment was inflicted on the slightest cause of suspicion. The whole country was then made a theatre of woe and misery, which, after the lapse of five years since the provinces have been pacified, cannot be put an end to. Is the same course to be pursued with respect to Georgia?
To comprehend the whole extent of calamity implied in any of these measures, when they are connected with political objects, of which the Government is extremely jealous, we adduce a specimen of an Ukase of the year 1832, prohibiting the Lithuanians from speaking on politics.
The military Governor of Wilna, Prince Dolgorouki, being convinced from trustworthy reports addressed to his Highness, and from his own experience, that notwithstanding all the publications with respect to the surveillance of public order, and the police (blogoczynija), in the government graciously entrusted to his care, and in contempt of all the measures dictated by moderation for establishing quiet and public security in every quarter of his government in fine, that, notwithstanding several proclamations made by the local authorities, and read in churches, with the view of warning those who disobey the commands of the authorities from responsibility to the law, frequent instances of dissemi
nators of false reports and dangerous doctrines are found here and there amongst the people; an act the more culpable, and the more deserving severe and ignominous punishment, as these inventors of idle reports and groundless stories are not common people (prostoludij), who, after taking notice of the folly of such agitators, remain quiet at home, but rank rather among the nobles and functionaries (dwaranij, czynownki). As these are but few and insignificant in number, it would have been better not to take any notice of them; yet, thinking it requisite that the incorrigible reporters of all foolish stories should be persecuted (presladowanij), and, as dangerous people, expelled the government, the Prince Governor has deigned by his Ukase of June 10, No. 1460, to make all the authorities acquainted that it be their duty to watch over their subalterns and clerks in their respective bureaux, and to observe their moral conduct in private and public, as well as their family connexions, their friends, and all with whom they associate. Be it also remarked, that it is also their duty, if the report be founded on suspicion, to accompany it by remarks and opinions of their own for my notice, that according to the degree of their guilt they may be either suspended from their office, or dismissed, or brought before the tribunal, or put under the surveillance of the police, or imprisoned, or shut up in a fortress, or sent into the interior of Russia, or to Siberia (!!) On the other hand, if his Highness should himself obtain intelligence of an unsuitable conduct, absurd judgment, or propagation of dangerous notions respecting politics, or, in short, of premeditated and unsuitable (nieblagonamierennom i nieblagonaduznom) behaviour of any of the employés, in all these cases the chief of the latter, and the head of the department to which he belongs, shall be most severely examined as to the motive they had for concealing the misdemeanor of their subaltern, and thus neglecting to accuse him; they, in consequence, will themselves incur the punishment as incapable for their office, be dismissed from it, and tried and punished in proportion to the importance of the delinquency, which will be seen from the inquiry instituted against them. His Highness has also desired to extend the same watchfulness and responsibility to
the law, on the citizens, proprietors of villages, and the nobility. In noticing it, I command immediately to employ the severest measures for the literal execution of his Highness's Ukase, directing in particular your attention and surveillance on the clerks and servants of the bureaux, no less than on all other persons placed under your authority, and that all may know the severe and irrevocable responsibility to the Ukase. You are to inform me immediately of all those who might already have spread false news, or absurd doctrines, or have manifested political opinions, or, in general, whose conduct may not be altogether prudent and suitable; and let your report be accompanied by an annex of incontestible facts and sufficient evidence, that I may inform his Highness of it, with the view of fixing the kind of punishment and effecting its execution.
Would not the most tyrannical Pacha of Turkey blush at seeing such a document as this? It speaks for itself; we abstain from all comment on it. We only allow ourselves to add, that the consequences arising out of the recent Ukase issued for the Georgian districts will ultimately prove as disastrous and deplorable as they have proved to the Polish patriots. The Imperial Order needs only to be as extended to be equally mischievous, and this it can be to any extent when once issued as it has been. Pursuant to a clause, by which General Rosen is permitted to bring whomsoever he thinks requisite before a Court Martial, he is permitted every thing, and to execute his decrees by the bayonets of his corps, if he can.
We conclude by repeating, that the adoption of measures of rigour in Georgia similar to those which have been acted upon in Poland, is not in the least consistent with that state of tranquillity and order, which the "Frankfort Journal"