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Full text of "Nicholas II"

NICHOLAS II 



Dr. B.R. AMBEDKAR 

sRsnv 

ACC.NO: 



AUTHOR 



Dr. B. R. AMBECKAR 
OPEN UNIVERSITY 

LIBRARY 

HYDERABAD-500 033. 



Or. B.R. AMBEDKAR OPEN UNIVERSITY 
LIBRARY 



Call No. f Accession No.* 

Author: L >>.--. /*'. 1 / t'' 1 * 



This book should be returned on or before the date 
last marked below. 




C7.AK NICHOLAS II 



NICHOLAS II 

Prisoner of the "Purple 



MOHAMMED ESSAD-BEY 



Translated by 

PAUL MAERKER BRANDEN 

AND 

ELSA BRANDEN 



With 17 Illustrations 



HUTCHINSON & 
(Publishers) Ltd. 
LONDON 



Matlr and Printed in Ori-at Britain at 

The Mayflower Press, I'lymoulh. William Brendon & Son, Ltd. 

1936 



Of Russia's years now dawns the worst of all ; 
From the anointed head the crown will fall ! 
All love for L.ittle Father is forgot 
For death and famine are his peoples* lot. 
Consuming plague is stalking through the land ; 
Unsheltered by a law's protecting hand, 
The blood of mothers and of babes runs red 
Whilst flames incarnadine the rivers* bed. 

LERMONTOV, Prophecies, 1829. 



FOREWORD 

THIS book might be termed an historical biography rather 
than a biographical novel. All events described herein 
actually took place ; the words in quotation marks actually 
were spoken. To be sure, certain indirect statements, 
gleafied from memoirs and documents, have been presented as direct 
quotations. Some of the minor occurrences, too, have been rearranged 
as to sequence. No attempt has been made to portray the history 
of Russia under Nicholas II ; rather a picture has been presented of 
the Czar's life prior to, during, and after his reign. Although dealing 
with recent history, the bizarre world which is depicted might well 
be some saga of far-distant centuries. 

The life of Nicholas II can be comprehended only if it is regarded 
as a myth, because the esoteric plane on which the Czar dwelt was 
remote from the lowlands of a workaday world. Hardly twenty years 
separate us from the time of Nicholas II. Yet that epoch seems so 
far removed that, in order to understand it, a number of prejudices 
and conceptions, deeply rooted in the Western mind, must be suspended. 
The tragic figure of Nicholas II is one grossly misjudged in world 
history. No reproach, no insinuation, no disparagement was spared 
him during his lifetime. Even to-day years after his death the 
Czar's personality is distorted almost beyond recognition by exaggera- 
tions, calumnies, and prejudices. 

The guilt of this avalanche of lies and slander should, perhaps, be 
attributed less to premeditated forgeries than to the yardstick with 
which the ill-starred Czar usually is measured. Nicholas II should not 
suffer the sober scrutiny of a rational historian. Only from the exalted 
height of irrational feeling can the life of the Emperor and Autocrat 
of All the Russias be appreciated fully, and judged correctly. Only in 
that light is it possible to recognize the radiant features of the bearei 
of a mystical faith. As the Don Quixote of Autocracy, Nicholas II 
necessarily became one of the most unfortunate figures of his time 
because of contradictions arising from the essence of his power on one 
hand, and the outside world on the other. 

If the present volume succeeds in conveying a dearer understanding 
of the tragic fate of Nicholas II ; if the intrinsic reasons which induced 
the imperial actions are easier to grasp ; and if the reader perceives, 
behind the thick wall of prejudice and ignorance, the human qualities 
of a lonely victim destined to tread the path of autocracy, the author's 
purpose has been achieved. 

MOHAMMED ESSAD-BEY. 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER rAOK 

I. THE I3TH OF MARCH, 1881 . . . . . -13 

II. GATSHINA 17 

III. DAVID AND GOLIATH ....... 23 

IV. THE TRIP AROUND THE WORLD . . . . -31 

V. TRAGIC IDYLL 40 

VI. THE JOURNEY OF DEATH 47 

VII, AT THE THRESHOLD OK THE CENTURY . . . .51 

VIII. CROSS AND CROWN ....... Co 

IX. THE CIRCLE NARROWS ....... 70 

X. CLOUDS AROUND THE THRONE ...... 79 

XI. IN THE SHADOW OF THE GIANT ..... 90 

XII. THE CONJURATION OF THE CZAREVITCH .... 98 

XIII. THE FLEA BITK 107 

XIV. Tim CUP 115 

XV. RED SUNDAY 120 

XVI. CZAR AND OESAR I2 6 

XVII. THE ASSASSINATION OF GRANDDUKE SERGIUS . . .130 

XVIII. THE PREY I37 

XIX. THE END OF ABSOLUTISM ...... 143 

XX. " A CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY UNDER AN AUTOCRATIC 

CZAR" I47 

XXI. STOLYPIN I5 6 

XXII. THE HEIR I ^ I 

XXIII. STOLYPIN'S DEATH x ^6 

XXIV. THE GOLDEN CAGE I70 

XXV. WHO SHALL PROTECT THE THRONE ? I77 

XXVI. CZAR ALEXIUS'S JURODOVI Z g 5 

XXVII. THE CONFIDANTE X 9 

XXVIII. THE STARETZ 194 

XXIX. A MINISTER SPEAKS HIS MIND X g 9 

9 



10 CONTENTS 

CHAVTEB FAGS 

XXX. THREE HUNDRED YEARS 205 

XXXI. WAR 209 

XXXII. THE MAGICAL TRIUMVIRATE 218 

XXXIII. THE MINISTER OF THE IMPERIAL SOUL .... 225 

XXXIV, CZAR AND ARMY 231 

XXXV. THE SHOT AGAINST RUSSIA ...... 235 

XXXVI. THE REVOLT OF THE GRANDDUKES .... 243 

XXXVII. SAVEZ-VOUS ? L'MPEREUK A ABDIQU& ! . - 252 

XXXVIII. THE PKISONERS OF CZARSKOJK SELO .... 2 6o 

XXXIX. A SIBERIAN WINTER 266 

XL. " THE HOUSE OF SPECIAL PURPOSE if . . . 272 

XLI. THE END OF THE ROMANOVS ...... 277 

BIBLIOGRAPHY ........ 283 

INDEX ...... . ... 287 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

CZAR NICHOLAS II 

PACING PAOC 

CZAR ALEXANDER III, FATHER OP NICHOLAS II . . . . 32 

CZAR NICHOLAS II AND THE CZARINA 48 

THE DOWAGER-EM PRKSS, MARIA FKODOROVNA ..... 64 

NICHOLAS II AND THK CZARINA WEARING THE RUSSIAN IMPERIAL 

COSTUME OF THE MIDDLE AGES ....... 80 

ST. PETERSBURG : THE WINTER PALACE . . . . . .100 

THE " LITTLE FATHER " WITH HIS SON . . . . . .112 

POPE GAPON, THE NOTORIOUS LABOUR LEADER . . . . .132 

POBEDONOSTSEV, SUPREME PROCURATOR OF THE HOLY SYNOD . . 148 

COUNT WlTTE, APPOINTED PRIME MINISTER IN 1905 . . . . 172 

BARON FREDRRIKS, MINISTER OF THE IMPERIAL HOUSEHOLD . . 200 
STOLYPIN, APPOINTED PREMIER IN 1906 . . . . . .212 

RASPUTIN, THE MONK WHO " RULED " RUSSIA 232 

PRINCE YUSSUPOV, WHO ENDED RASPUTIN'S CAREER .... 248 
THE CZAR AND THE CZAREVITCH AT CZARSKOJE SKLO .... 256 

IPATIEV HOUSE IN EKATERINBURG, WHERE THE ROMANOVS MET THEIR 

FATE 268 



xz 



NICHOLAS II 

CHAPTER ONE 

THE I3TH OF MARCH, l88l 

THE heavy booming of the fortress clock tore through tha 
frosty silence of St. Petersburg. The clock struck a quarter 
to one. Slowly and ceremoniously, the bronze-ornamented 
gates of the Winter Palace opened. Softly the silver bells 
of the imperial troika jingled. 

Surrounded by six Terek cossacks, the sixly-four-ycar-old Emperor 
and Autocrat of All the Russias, the Most Orthodox Czar Alexander II, 
drove to the Sunday parade at the manege. Wrapped in his furs, his 
large blue eyes staring into distance, his brow furrowed, and his right 
hand clenched into a fist, the Emperor resembled an angry demi-god 
that day. 

The many plots and assassinations in his country failed to ruffle 
the Emperor. With his habitual punctuality he strolled in the park, 
and reviewed parades. Having abolished serfdom in his country, 
the Czar believed that he could trust his people. 

As the troika followed its usual course, twelve-year-old Niki, oldest 
grandson of the Czar, finished his Sunday luncheon in a distant room 
of the Winter Palace. On occasions of state, Nicholas was addressed 
as " His Imperial Highness Granddukc Nicholai Alexandrovitch." At 
such ceremonies he wore the uniform of an officer of the Preobrashensky 
Guard and saluted his imperial grandfather in military fashion. 

In that secluded corner of the Winter Palace, however, he was just 
Niki. There he played in a sailor-suit, and was happy that luncheon 
was over, that it had frozen outside, and that, at three o'clock in the 
afternoon, together with Mother and Cousin Sandro, he would go ice 
skating. At half-past two, Niki kissed his mother's hand and, with 
not a little anticipation, scrutinized the shining ice skates suspended 
from the Grandduchess's arm. 

Mother and son stepped to the window. Before their eyes spread 
the severe grandeur of the Palace Square. In the centre of the 
gigantic rondel, like beauty turned into stone, arose the Alexander 
Column. Before it, as if rooted to the ground, a lonely guardsman 
stood motionless. Any minute now, thirteen-year-old Sandro, Niki's 
best friend, would appear on the scene. 

One, two, three the strokes of the clock sounded, breaking the 
bewitched silence of the Palace Square. Simultaneously, as if these 

13 



14 NICHOLAS II 

strokes mysteriously opened the door to another world, a terrific 
detonation resounded. Mother and son stared at one another. 

"A bomb!" the Grandduchess shouted, clutching Niki tightly. 
And as their eyes roved across the Square the windows of the old 
palace trembled from a second, even more terrific, explosion. 

The Grandduchess rushed from the room, Niki at her heels. The 
great vestibule in the basement of the palace was crowded with people. 
Officers of the Guard, cossacks, servants, courtiers filled the room. 

"The Emperor has been assassinated," somebody cried. 

fl No, he is only severely wounded," contradicted another. 

Then there was quiet. Niki's eyes widened in terror as ke saw 
four huge cossacks carry in the bleeding body of the Czar through 
the open door. Grandduke Michael showed them the way. Big, red 
blotches appeared on the marble steps of the palace. Niki followed 
the incarnadined track. In the study, the body of the Czar was gently 
bedded upon a divan. Granddukcs rushing about, pell-mell, presently 
filled the room. 

At the window, his broad back turned towards the room, stood 
heir-apparent Alexander, Niki's father. Shaking with fright, Niki 
gazed upon his dying grandfather, at once fascinated and revolted. 
The right foot of the Czar had been severed from the body, the left 
had been terribly maimed. Innumerable wounds covered face and 
body. One eye was closed, the other stared ahead, expressionless, in 
the most fearsome fashion. Niki finally tore his own eyes away from 
that prostrated hulk of the man and looked about him. His mother, 
Maria Feodorovna, stood beside him, her trembling hands still holding 
the ice skates. Somebody touched Niki's shoulder. It was Sandro, 
the little grandduke, with whom he had arranged to go skating. 

The great study was furnished in the style of the Empire. With its 
innumerable pictures, art objects and bric-a-brac, it made an 
over-decorated impression. A stifling silence prevailed now that 
Transitoriness revealed its merciless grimace to the members of the 
ruling house. The red blotches on the divan grew ever bigger and 
darker. The Emperor's heavy breathing turned into a death-rattle. 

Niki trembled. In all its abrupt confusion, death entered his 
consciousness. Until that day, the mention of death always had been 
avoided in his presence. Members of the ruling house did not die ; 
they merely rested in God. 

A shrill scream rent the heavy silence. The door opened and a 
tall woman in a pink dressing-gown rushed into the room. Her pale 
face was distorted. She threw herself upon the body of the Emperor, 
covering the blood-stained, disfigured face with fervent kisses. The 
desperation of Princess Jurevskaya, morganatic consort of Alexander, 
was genuine enough. She alone, perhaps, was the one human being 
in the entire palace who really had clung to him with a loyal love. 

The grandduchesses began to weep. Niki's eyes, too, filled with 
tears. At that moment he felt the heavy hand of his father upon his 
shoulder. " Steady, now ! " the heir-apparent whispered. 



THE I3TH OF MARCH, l88l 15 

The President of the St. Petersburg Police entered hastily in obvious 
excitement. Approaching the heir to the throne, he breathlessly 
reported details of the catastrophe. 

After the parade, the Emperor had been driven through the 
Engineers' Alley to the Catherine Canal. Passing Michailov's Garden, 
an unknown passer-by threw a bomb in front of the troika. Two 
cossacks and a boy fell to the ground. The Emperor remained 
unharmed. Although Colonel Dvorjitzky, Commandant of the Palace 
Guard, implored the Emperor to return to the palace immediately, 
Alexander insisted upon alighting from the carriage. As he bent over 
the injured, an excited bystander approached the monarch and asked : 
" You-are unhurt, Your Majesty ? " 

" Thank God, nothing happened to me," Alexander replied. 

Hearing these words, the assassin, meanwhile caught and manacled, 
raised his head, laughed grimly, and shouted : " Don't praise the day 
before the evening." 

At that very moment, an unknown man threw a second bomb 
which exploded directly at the feet of the Emperor. 

Here, the Police President's recital was interrupted. The imperial 
private physician approached the Emperor, felt his pulse, and solemnly 
pronounced : " His Majesty the Emperor has passed on." 

Everybody sank to their knees. A full head taller than anybody 
else, the new Czar knelt at Niki's left side. The eyes of the granddukes 
rested expectantly upon their new ruler. 

At that moment Alexander III felt the heavy burden of Czardom 
descend upon his shoulders, causing a sudden and remarkable change 
in him. Niki observed his father, utterly bewildered. He was no 
longer that friendly giant who bent thick silver roubles in his powerful 
hands and tied iron rods into knots. There was a strange gleam in 
the blue eyes of the new Czar. The realization that he now was 
omnipotent Czar, by the Grace of God, had taken hold of him. His 
broad chest and shoulders seemed to expand still more. The grand- 
dukes felt that, in that magical moment, the shadow of the imperial 
giant seemed to spread over his entire, vast realm. 

Alexander III arose. The Police President glanced up at him 
timidly. " What is Your Majesty's command ? " he inquired. 

" Command ? Oh, yes, of course," Alexander replied. Then, gazing 
severely at the official, he spoke : "It appears the police have lost 
their head completely. I herewith command that the Army take over 
the maintenance of order in my residential city. The Council of 
Ministers is to wait on me immediately at the Anitchkov Palace." 
So saying, Alexander indicated to his consort to follow him. With 
firm tread, he left the room. 

His small pale face pressed against the cold window pane, Nicholas 
watched his father stride to his coach with gigantic steps through the 
lines of his people. Mounted cossack? surrounded the Czar while 
the ruddy afterglow of the setting sun reddened the steel of their lances. 

Huzzas were shouted. Alexander greeted his subjects. Above the 



l6 NICHOLAS II 

clamour of the multitude and the hoof-beats of the horses his mighty 
voice resounded across the palace grounds : "I shall be a father to 
my people." 

The day after the bloody inauguration of his rule Alexander III 
issued his first manifesto. It concluded with the words : ' 'We command 
that all Our faithful subjects serve Us and Our heir to the throne, 
Grandduke-Czarevitch Nicholai Alexandrovitch, in eternal fealty." 

While the manifesto of the Czar was proclaimed in the provinces of the 
realm, the Anitchkov Palace, home of the imperial family, buzzed with 
activity. With all possible speed, trunks were packed, orders were 
issued, and preparations were made for an early departure. 

The departure was very much in the nature of a flight. "It was 
during the night, under cover of darkness, that the imperial family 
left in carriages. Accompanied by cossacks, they were driven to the 
station. The depot was surrounded by troops, the train already wait- 
ing. It bore the imperial family to the gloomy castle Gatshina, in 
the neighbourhood of St. Petersburg. 

In that dark and deserted palace, cut off from the entire world, 
living more like a prisoner than a Czar, Alexander III spent the first 
years of his reign. By his side, in the mouldy old rooms of the castle, a 
frail boy grew up, with beautifully shaped eyes, slender limbs and 
delicate, small hands His Imperial Highness, the Grandduke-Czare- 
vitch Nicolai Alexandrovitch, heir to the throne of All the Russias. 



CHAPTER TWO 

GATSHINA 

A LARGE park, its still pond mirroring the noble contours of 
swans. Straight, clean, and deserted lanes. A zoological 
garden, silent soldiers guarding the cages behind which 
animals prowl, sad and shy. The yellow, bare, and lifeless 
palace, in the midst of the park, appears to be yet another cage in 
which the mightiest man of Russia has voluntarily immured himself. 

Gatshina ! Many years ago, cut off from the world like Alexander III, 
a small pug-nosed man with a face of greenish hue and nervously 
twitching lips dwelt here. This ugly dwarf forced his soldiers to 
drill on the dusty parade ground all day long, until they collapsed from 
sheer exhaustion. This drilling lasted for fully twenty years. At last, 
the lone occupant of Gatshina received word of the death of his mother, 
Empress Catherina. 

In dream-like ecstasy the little man mounted his steed and, at a 
wild gallop, rushed through the darkness of the night until he had 
covered the stretch that separated Gatshina from the Winter Palace. 
Arrived there, he sprang off his horse and, with skipping gait, ascended 
the marble staircase. Flunkeys opened the doors wide and Paul I, 
in high riding boots, a long sword in his hand, and fiery-eyed, darted 
into the salon of the Empress and, simultaneously, into the history 
of the world. 

Somehow, the spirit of mad Paul remained over Gatshina. The 
rulers of Russia avoided the gloomy palace until Alexander III isolated 
himself there. 

Surprisingly enough Alexander did not occupy the comfortable 
rooms on the first floor. Instead, he moved into the small mezzanine 
where, in Paul's time, only servitors had been quartered. The tiny, 
mouldy rooms were furnished by the Emperor with upholstered 
velvet furniture, arranged along the walls. The plain, cheap wallpaper 
was covered with family photographs and only with the greatest 
difficulty could a piano be placed in the largest room of the apartment. 

The new Emperor intended to lead a retired, quiet family life in these 
simple surroundings. As much as possible Czar and Czarina avoided 
the ornate Winter Palace, where the marble staircase was incarnadined 
with the blood of a Czar. Alexander III disliked visits of relatives as 
much as state occasions. The seclusion of Gatshina allowed the 
Czar to devote his entire time and enormous energy to the duties of 
government. 

Czar and Czarina lead an idyllic family life. The harmony and 
happiness of their marriage was the first impression impinged upon 



l8 NICHOLAS IT 

young Nicholas's consciousness. To be sure, Niki did not know that this 
exemplary marriage had been incepted by accident. 

The Danish Princess Dagmar originally had been chosen as consort 
for Alexander's older brother, Czarevitch Nicholai. Dagmar loved this 
friendly, elegant man tenderly. When he died, shortly before the 
wedding, the unbending will of the Emperor decreed that Princess 
Dagmar must marry the next grandduke in line, the grim Alexander. 
That the Princess, as Empress Maria Feodorovna, led a happy family 
life after all was primarily due to the dogmatic and pedantic marital 
fanaticism which imbued her husband. 

Nicholas, the eldest scion of this marriage, was a sensitive and 
silent child. He loved the animals of the Gatshina zoo but avoided 
people, although they rarely enough intruded upon the privacy of 
the imperial family. Stolid indifference characterized his early contacts 
with people. The marked restraint which he manifested throughout his 
life, in every gesture and impulse, may well have been the result of his 
secluded childhood in Gatshina. 

It was only in the summer, in the sub-tropical Livadia Castle in the 
Crimea, or when visiting his grandparents in Denmark, that his odd 
indifference disappeared for a few short weeks. When Nicholas 
watched the distant sails of passing boats from a rock in Livadia, 
his eyes would sparkle with boyish delight. 

Niki's modest behaviour went hand in hand with an unshakeable 
optimism. As a young child, he had formed the conviction that behind 
the broad back of his father and under the blissful protection of an 
invisible power, nothing evil could befall him. But only in the midst 
of the closest family circle, while playing with his brothers or cousins, 
did Nicholas dare emerge from that shell of neutral disinterestedness 
which was his most outstanding characteristic. 

Alexander III, as robust and unaffected as his style of living, left 
nothing undone to make life bright for his five children. His three 
sons, Nicholas, George, and Michael, and his two daughters, Xenia 
and Olga, grew up at Gatshina in an atmosphere of marital bliss. When 
the Emperor lifted one of his children high up in the air with his 
powerful arms, his eyes glowed with paternal pride. And the eyes of 
the children bespoke their admiration when this huge man, with 
his strong fingers, tore whole decks of cards to pieces as if they were 
slips of thin paper. 

Although the mother always observed a certain European coolness 
in her relations to her children, there was a spirit of rough and ready 
affection between father and sons. Time and again, the inhabitants 
of Gatshina observed the Czar, his arms thrown about his sons' 
shoulders, driving in a carriage, his own mighty shoulders shaking with 
laughter over some remark from his children. 

Strangely enough, this ideal paterfamilias neglected to impress his 
eldest son with the realization of his future importance and position. 
In the circle of his family, the Czar refrained from everything which 
reminded him of his governmental duties. Since he detested political 



CATSHINA IQ 

conversations, the attention of the heir to the throne was exclusively 
centred upon everyday details. 

Alexander was absolutely sincere in the belief that the heir-apparent, 
in order to rule effectively, would require neither an excellent education 
not extraordinary gifts. He thought the Grace of God, which descends 
upon a monarch at the moment of anointment, would endow his son 
with the necessary attributes of a ruler to a far greater degree than all 
the teachings of ordinary tutors or educators. 

Young Nicholas dwelt in the patriarchical atmosphere of a peaceful, 
noble house, somewhat in the style of Turgenev. Liberal intercourse 
among human beings and a clear discernment of the world as it really 
was, were completely eliminated. That other world which overtook 
him in later years, behind the threshold of the palace, was, for Nicholas, 
full of unusual, confusing and frightening occurrences. 

In Gatshina, or at the summer castle Livadia, ensconced in the lap 
of his gigantic father, life seemed simple and understandable. Through- 
out his life Nicholas never succeeded in overcoming this physical 
infantilism, artificially engendered and nurtured. All his life long he 
yearned for the narrow circle within which everything was so easy, 
so certain, and so uncomplicated. 

As he grew older Nicholas never was permitted to utter any opinion 
about ministers, officials, or affairs of state. Although heir to the throne 
and second man of the realm, Niki was considered merely a subject of 
his father Alexander and it would have been indeed surprising if he 
suddenly had dared to express a personal opinion. The feeling of 
complete safety within the walls of the palace encouraged in Nicholas 
a vast indifference to all events that occurred outside the palace walls. 

Niki never wished for toys other than those which happened to be 
in his room. He had no desire for other playmates than the brothers 
and cousins who surrounded him constantly. Childish curiosity and 
interest in strange worlds was unknown to him. By a staggering event 
the youthful mind of Nicholas had formed the belief that the world 
outside the palace was full of bombs, conspiracies, and death itself. The 
long series of plots against his grandfather's life, and through which he 
himself had lived half-consciously, had not passed without leaving 
tell-tale traces in the soul and mind of the child. 

Grandduke Alexander Nicolaievitch records in his memoirs that, 
during the last years of the reign of Alexander II, the imperial family 
had come to suspect a herald of death in every stranger, every guest, 
and every lackey. A single step outside the palace might mean 
catastrophe 1 The wide world of mysterious people therefore appeared 
to the child a fearsome place, constantly disseminating misfortune and 
to be strictly shunned. Nicholas reacted with utter indifference to 
this world which he was never permitted to enter and out of which, 
he believed, only evil came. Tales of the unknown world, occasionally 
told to the Czarevitch by his nearest relatives, always ended with the 
admonition that tragedy would overtake him if he so much as dared 
leave the walls of Gatshina Castle. Young Nicholas had seen with his 



2O NICHOLAS II 

own eyes the dire fate that had befallen the old Emperor on the 
I3th of March, 1881. 

If a teacher or a guest told Nicholas about the great steppes, or the 
noisy cities of the country, there would appear on his face that distrust 
and apathy for everything strange, unknown, and new which he was 
destined to retain during his entire life. 

The education provided by his father was not suited to free Nicholas 
from his elementary feeling of suspicion. With great care albeit 
after his own rather odd taste the Czar selected tutors for the heir 
to the throne. While the boy's general education was entrusted to 
Mr. Heath, a wise and elderly Englishman, scientific instruction 
evolved upon Constantin Petrovitch Pobedonostsev, one of the highest 
ecclesiastical officers of the realm, as infamous as he was famous. 

Pobedonostsev enjoyed the reputation of being the most reactionary, 
the most astute and cynical man in All the Russias. His appearance 
was so repulsive as to be almost enervating. Cadaverous, with a 
parchment-like skin and hollow cheeks, the small eyes of a lizard and 
bloodless lips, he resembled a frightening spectre rather than an 
educator of a young, sensitive prince. In his youth Pobedonostsev 
had been Alexander Ill's tutor and the reactionary dogmas with which 
he had instilled his pupil had decided the Emperor to appoint him as 
mentor of his son. 

Every ounce of his unflagging strength and energy Pobedonostsev 
dedicated to the maintenance of canonical order within the Russian 
Empire. Let the godless heretic peoples of the West roll in the mire of 
liberal freedom ; in Holy Russia, under the watchful eye of Pobedo- 
nostsev, not one stone, not one tree, not one official was permitted 
to change a God-imposed status. To Pobedonostsev the Russian 
Empire was the torch of God's will on earth. Through centuries 
nay, through thousands of years this realm was destined to pass on to 
future generations the fundamental tenets of Orthodox Christianity, 
and of unbending fealty to the Czar. The very essence of the Russian 
Empire was its fight against the heathenish chaos inherent in humanity. 
In the eyes of Pobedonostsev man was naught but the vessel of the 
devil and the Evil One could be driven out only by the cross. 

Of muggy nights, in his own apartment in St. Petersburg, 
Pobedonostsev would indulge in dramatic exorcisms. In the presence of 
ecclesiastical authorities he would labour over the body of an epileptic. 
Pointing to the twitchings of his victim, he would pride himself on 
driving out a demon. When battling Satan, by intoning magical 
formulas, the malevolent old man must have seemed more like a 
magician than the supreme head of the Russian Church. 

It had been Pobedonostsev who had advised the Czar to isolate 
himself in old Gatshina. The letters which he, as Procurator of the 
Holy Synod, dispatched to the monarch breathed such reactionary 
spirit that Alexander himself once admitted : " One could freeze to 
death, just listening to him all the time. 1 ' 

This lonely and evil man had but one genuine friend. Every Satur- 



GATSHINA 21 

day, at about nine o'clock, a pale, lean man, with a small beard and 
extraordinary magnetic eyes, visited him. Until far into the night, the 
two men would debate the fate of the Empire and the spirit of Holy 
Russia. The friend was none other than Feodor Dostoevsky, and the 
friendship between the great poet and the great reactionary proves 
that, after all, Pobedonostsev was more than an evil old man of 
unswerving doctrines. 

Pobedonostsev introduced the works of Dostoevsky into the castles 
of the granddukes. Alexander III always had a copy of The Demons 
on his desk. Now and then the strange pair would drive to the palace 
in a coach. There, the youthful granddukes were treated to prophetic 
words from the poet on the spirit of Holy Russia. 

When Dostoevsky died, Pobedonostsev wrote a heart-rending letter 
to the Czar, pointing to the death of the poet as Russia's greatest loss. 
He wrote: "To-day. Feodor Michailovitch Dostoevsky has been 
interred in Nemsky Monastery. It is sad indeed that he is no longer 
among us. For me, this is a most cruel loss. There is no one who can 
assume his place." 

Pobedonostsev was one of the best-educated people in Russia. 
His enormous erudition, however, filled him with the deepest contempt 
for the world of exact sciences. The triumph of the conservative 
spirit was not to be blocked by scientific scepticism ! It was concep- 
tions and dogmas of this kind which guided the educator of the future 
Czar. 

Every morning, from eight to eleven, and every afternoon, from two 
to six, Nicholas bent over scientific studies. During the rest of the day 
he painted, went hunting, and played music with his tutor Heath. 
Every minute of the eight-year plan of study for his pupil was carefully 
supervised by Pobedonostsev. 

According to old Russian tradition, the heir to the throne was 
neither permitted to attend school nor to be reared together with 
other children. Teachers chosen by Pobedonostsev had to journey to 
Gatshina daily to instruct the young Czarevitch in his lessons. Aside 
from languages, which he speedily mastered to such an extent that his 
Russian frequently sounded as if it were translated from the English, 
the subjects embraced religion, the history of the Orthodox Church, 
and the comparative history of all faiths. Then there was Russian 
literature and grammar, Russian history, world history, foreign 
literature, geography as well as elementary and higher mathematics. 

For this comprehensive curriculum, which was augmented by military 
studies of all kinds, Pobedonostsev had invented a singular and 
cynical method of instruction. Teachers were neither permitted to 
subject their exalted pupil to tests, nor were they allowed to question 
him. They entered, bowed deeply, delivered a lecture, and frequently 
left with the uneasy feeling that, possibly, their pupil had paid no 
attention whatever to their well-prepared talks. During these lessons, 
Nicholas would remain motionless in his chair, his face merely express- 
ing polite attention. He displayed the same indifferent equanimity 



22 NICHOLAS II 

to the words of his teachers as in later years when listening to the 
reports of his ministers. 

The various teachers, imparting diversified instruction, did not leave 
an especially deep impression on him. " Colonel Leer visited me for 
a full hour and tired me terribly," Nicholas jotted into his diary. Of 
General Pusirevsky, who supervised the military education of the heir 
to the throne, he wrote : " Pusirevsky was with me all morning. 
He bored me so much that I almost fell asleep." 

Only Pobedonostsev and Heath had a decided influence on the 
stolid, close-mouthed youth. Nicholas's liking for sports, throughout 
his life, was infused by the astute Britisher. From Pobedonostsev, 
he accepted the secret wisdom of the magical power of Czardom. This 
wisdom Pobedonostsev clothed in a phrase originated during the reign 
of Nicholas I : while the French revolution had written on its banner 
the words Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, the very foundation of 
Czaristic absolutism were Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Tradition. 

The monotonous life at Gatshina and Livadia, or at one of the 
Baltic Sea resorts, hermetic seclusion from the outer world, and 
bloody memories of the I3th of March, 1881, along with the reactionary 
influence of the venerable cynic, moulded young Nicholas. 

The routine was interrupted by important events only rarely. 
At seventeen, Nicholas was declared of age and took the triple oath of 
a granddukc, of a subject, and of the heir to the throne. He was 
made a member of the State Council and was apportioned a grandducal 
appanage of 210,000 rubles a year. 

His personal life was not touched by these events. Ecclesiastical 
and secular teachers still unfolded to him the wisdom of past centuries, 
while the stern glance of Pobedonostsev hovered over him. Residing 
at Gatshina, far from the metropolis, listening to innumerable lectures 
which left no greater impression than the bubbling of a distant fountain, 
this mode of life eventually became second nature to him. 

In his later life as Czar, Nicholas preferred quiet palaces outside the 
great cities. There, with hands folded, he listened to the tedious reports 
of his ministers. The only interruption of this monotonous routine 
was the short span of time between the termination of his studies and 
his succession to the throne. 

In the year 1890, the Czarevitch's diary contains the jubilant 
entry: "To-day I have definitely and forever finished studying." 
It was in that year that Nicholas moved into his own palace in 
Peterhof and entered upon the free life of a young grandduke. 



CHAPTER THREE 

DAVID AND GOLIATH 

AJXANDER III reminded one of nothing so much as an 
elongated rectangle. His mighty physique was square 
throughout : his elongated skull, his reddish beard, his large 
fleshy hands all were consistently square in shape. Invari- 
ably, Alexander III wore a double-breasted uniform, making his gigantic 
figure appear even more colossal. His personality had a touch of the 
ornamental, the primordial and indestructible. He spoke in a loud and 
deep voice which never changed its pitch ; the rare movements of his 
hands were categorical, commanding, and forceful. 

The Czar's ideal was an autocratic, agronomical-feudalistic order of 
things. Sarcastic tongues claimed that the quiescence which he 
decreed was that of a cemetery. However, this was not so ; by no 
means was Alexander an enemy of progress. True enough, progress had 
to be inaugurated solely and exclusively by him. It was he who built 
the great Trans-Siberian Railroad, longest in the world. It was he 
who made possible the gigantic financial reform which founded Russia's 
wealth until 1905 ; he, too, erected schools, built canals, and financed 
factories. But he never forgot that he had ascended the throne on 
the I3th of March, 1881, the very day that a terrorist's bomb had struck 
down his father's great bulk. It was this bloody event which decided 
the entire conception of life of the last absolute autocrat of Europe. 
He watched the clan of the world's monarchs gradually vanish an 
observation which filled him with utter contempt for the crowned weak- 
lings who granted written constitutions, thus escaping their innate 
responsibility to rule by the Grace of God. 

When the Russian ambassador at Lisbon submitted to the Czar a 
report of the festive opening of the Portuguese parliament, 
Alexander III made the marginal note : " Monkey business." When 
the Turkish sultan considered a liberal reform, the Czar commented 
bitterly : " He is no longer a sultan ; he is just an old fogey." And 
when King Milan of Serbia renounced his throne, the monarch penned 
on the report the single short word : " Oaf ! " 

It was Alexander's wont to remark among his intimate circle : 
14 How undignified is the position of a constitutional monarch!" 
Every constitutional ruler incurred the hatred of the Czar. He called 
Queen Victoria " a gossipy old woman " ; William II he described as 
" a lunatic who might be expected to do almost anything." Even the 
autocratic rulers of his time did not escape the sharp criticism of 
Alexander III. The Shah of Persia, for example, he considered " a 
beast," and when the Emir of Bokhara sent the Czar a contribution of 

23 



24 NICHOLAS II 

a hundred thousand rubles to alleviate the famine on the Volga 
Alexander opined : " Very nice of him. To be sure, he stole the 
money." 

In his vast realm, the Czar permitted no sign, however slight, of 
liberal thought. After the death of the Belgian Prince Balduin, the 
Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, " in the name of the Imperial 
Government," expressed sympathy to the royal Belgian house. In 
connection with this, the Czar wrote : " What does he mean by 
'Imperial Government'? Thank God, we have no constitution." 
From the Czar's autocratic viewpoint there was no Government in 
Russia at all. There was only the Czar, and the officials who had 
to obey him. 

Within a few years, the strong hands of the Czar throttled the 
Liberalism to which his father had fallen victim a development which 
filled the old reactionary generals with enthusiasm. "He is like 
Peter the Great with his knout ! " Minister of War Vannovsky remarked 
to Foreign Minister Giers. The latter shook his head sorrowfully. 
" No," he replied, " it's just the knout without Peter the Great." 

And yet Alexander III by no means proved the worst ruler in the 
long line of Romanovs. In his soul he harboured a mighty one-sided 
love for this miraculous, interminable Russia the strongest and most 
autocratic country in the world. To be sure, this love was as despotic, 
self-willed, and gigantic as everything was about this strange man. 
It was with intense pride that Alexander III surveyed All the Russias 
and matching this pride was his great contempt for everything 
foreign. 

During one of many conflicts when Europe's peace depended upon 
the word of the Czar, Alexander III commanded the foreign diplomats 
to wait on him in his palace, where he would acquaint them with his 
all-highest decision. The diplomats appeared to a man, but the Czar 
could be found nowhere. The excited Minister of Foreign Affairs first 
searched the entire palace in vain, then the park. At last, he found 
the Czar peacefully fishing in a pool. " Your Majesty," the Minister 
cried, " the whole of Europe is waiting for you." 

" Europe can wait if the Czar of Russia feels like fishing," Alexander 
replied with a scornful glance at his minister. Eventually, he appeared 
before the diplomats and stated succinctly : "As long as I live, there 
will be no war in Europe ! " 

The word of the Czar could be depended upon implicitly. Although 
he spoke sparingly, he consistently kept his word. Abiding faith in 
their Czar was, according to his opinion, the sole prerogative to which 
his Subjects were entitled. 

Alexander's own education had not been very comprehensive. 
Therefore, it was his belief that, in order to rule his realm, a monarch 
needed only sound common sense, and the help of God. Court cere- 
monies, etiquettes, and comity were frowned upon by the Czar. 
Ministers, in all candour, could tell him : " What Tour Majesty just 
stated, is plain nonsense." If they were right, the Czar would not 



DAVID AND GOLIATH 25 

object to such blunt language. However, when Alexander noticed 
that one of his ministers was leading a life not entirely above criticism, 
he summoned a flunkey and, in the very midst of a cabinet council, 
he pointed an accusing finger at the unfortunate statesman and 
commanded : " Throw that dirty dog out." 

Those ministers in whom he had confidence could rely upon him 
completely. When Minister of Finance Witte proposed his great 
financial reform, he waited on the Czar with the intention of submitting 
a detailed outline of his objectives. The Czar listened to Witte for a 
time, only to interrupt with the remark: "My dear Sergius Julie- 
vitch, I am unable to follow your lecture. But I have full confidence 
in you, and I herewith sanction your reform." And Alexander could 
not be swayed when innumerable objectors to Witte's plan tried to 
influence him, subsequently, against the financial reform. Witte's 
plan, involving the devaluation of the rouble, materialized ; it was the 
first devaluation of international importance. 

Alexander III was not a particularly remarkable man. However, 
he was the last of Russia's rulers who realized precisely what it meant 
to be Czar. His simple honesty, his gigantic physique, and his candid 
disdain of everything foreign assured him of his power much more than 
did the persecution of revolutionaries. Mighty, full of naive pride 
in his Russian ways, Alexander strode through world history as the 
last heir of a Christian-Byzantine, agronomical, pious, and autocratic 
Russia. The very Colossus of Autocracy, he surrounded himself with 
huge and fearless men, loud of voice, and plain of manner like himself. 
Although devoid of all elegance, they were endowed with a dependable 
intuition for the weal, the honour and the future of Holy Czarist Russia. 

In the atmosphere of this tedious giant, Nicholas felt himself small, 
forsaken, and overwhelmed. There was not one among his father's 
circle to befriend him ; indeed, his own father was not his friend. 

It was Alexander's intention to bequeath to his son and heir to the 
throne two other treasures besides one-sixth of the world : Under- 
standing of the last secrets of the realm and of the very essence of Czar- 
dom ; and a standard of morals unyielding in their rigour. Alexander 
himself was the most moral person within the boundaries of his Empire. 
Aghast, and in shocked amazement, he regarded examples of loose 
morality which, according to him, actually fermented revolutions. 
In the eyes of Alexander III, adherence to the seventh commandment 
was infinitely more important than education, wisdom, and love of 
humanity. 

The heir to the throne was an enigma to the Czar. His small, frail 
figure, his soft face, the never-changing, always slightly bored ex- 
pression in his eyes was something the Czar could not comprehend. To 
be sure, the polite, empty words of the youth, his quiet manners, his 
soft, unobtrusive ways, might hide a profound inner life and Byzantine 
shrewdness or just a limited mentality. As a Czar, Alexander leaned 
towards the first assumption ; as a man, contemptuous of humanity 
in general, the latter conclusion seemed more tenable. 



26 NICHOLAS II 

When a minister pointed out to the Czar that the time had come 
to induct the heir to the throne into affairs of state and suggested 
that the Czarevitch be made Chairman of the Committee for the 
Construction of the Trans-Siberian Railroad, the Czar appeared 
surprised. " Tell me," he asked, " have you ever spoken to His 
Imperial Highness, the Grandduke-Czarevitch ? " The minister 
answered in the affirmative, whereupon the Czar exclaimed bitterly : 
" Don't tell me you never noticed that the Grandduke is a 
dunce ! " 

There never was an occasion for Alexander to reproach his son ; 
on the other hand, there never was any reason to praise the Czarevitch. 
After having tea with his imperial parents, Nicholas never forgot to 
say: " Merci, maman," or " Merci, papa." Whenever there was 
a birthday in the family, the Czarevitch was sure to send a. present. 
He was always attentive and polite ; perhaps even too polite. Not 
once, in the presence of the Czar, did he utter a desire, an opinion, or 
evince the slightest emotion. It was as though he were covered with 
a glossy lacquer. 

When the Czarevitch attended a comedy, he would laugh ; when he 
witnessed a drama, his eyes would fill with tears. Visiting the officers 1 
casinos, he stood stiffly at attention when a toast was proposed to the 
Czar. But despite all this, Alexander had the uncomfortable feeling 
that all these manifestations were not human emotions ; rather, 
they resembled astonishingly precise reactions of a perfect automaton. 

It was almost with amazement that the gigantic Czar listened when his 
young son, in a quiet, even voice, reported that he had had tea with Uncle 
Vladimir yesterday ; that he had had a wonderful time at the French 
Theatre ; and that he was truly sorry to hear that Aunt Xenia had 
caught cold. Powerful Alexander, who could twist iron rods with his 
hands, never thought, for a moment, that his frail son, gazing upon 
the tremendous bulk of his parent observing, too, his unrestrained 
mannerisms, and his stern expression should experience something 
akin to uneasiness, confusion, fear, or shyness. Nor did he know that 
it was for this reason that the heir to the throne retired, snail-like, 
into his shell of politeness which was as impersonal as it was complete. 

The Czarevitch manifested the same reserved, impenetrable 
equanimity at all public appearances. Having been appointed Chair- 
man of the Trans-Siberian Railroad, Nicholas punctually attended 
the Committee meetings. He shook hands with each of the delegates 
in turn, ensconced himself in his chair, opened the meeting, and then 
kept silent for hours on end, inert and polite as ever. During all the 
years 'that he presided over this Committee, he never once assumed a 
definite position regarding the world-historical labours of the enterprise. 
And yet not one member of the Committee could justifiably claim he 
had ever noticed the slightest expression of boredom on the Czarevitch's 
features during all those meetings. 

Nicholas evinced the same calm and courteous interest in all affairs 
of state in which his father permitted him to participate. Just once 



DAVID AND GOLIATH 2J 

probably to the great gratification of the Czar the Czarevitch displayed 
a spirit of youthful exuberance. This frivolous neglect of state business 
Nicholas himself describes in his diary as follows : "I presided at the 
State Council to-day. I simply ran away when the usefulness of 
Latin instruction in high schools was discussed. I thought I would 
die." 

Alexander, who had no understanding for psychical complexes, 
saw only one method to make of his obviously inhibited son a worthy 
heir of Peter the Great and Ivan the Terrible the route via the officers 1 
casino. 

The hallowed rooms of an officers' casino of a Guard regiment 
attracted the very best Russia's aristocracy had to offer their Czar. 
The society of friendly young men of good manners and high-sounding 
names might prove helpful to the Granddukc. To be sure, Alexander III 
was no friend of the military. Even the best regiment of his Guards, 
according to the Czar, was beset with no small threat to the morals of 
the Czarevitch. The Guards were leading ;i frivolous life. Many of 
the officers were heavy drinkers ; worse yet, some kept mistresses. 
The strait-laced Czar frowned on these love affairs. Whenever possible 
he dismissed officers, exiled granddukes, and demanded the resignation 
of generals who were so weak as to indulge man's lower nature. 

As far as drinking was concerned, the Czar was less prejudiced. 
He considered drinking merely an expression of good old Russian ways ; 
indeed, he himself liked to drink. Among the Guards, where the 
imperial aversion to erotic excesses was only too well known, drinking 
often assumed abominable, even morbid, manifestations. Once in a 
regiment stationed at Czarskoje Selo, in the immediate neighbourhood 
of the Czar's residence, officers drank to such an extent that they 
fell victim to a strange obsession. Their sodden brains were filled with 
animalistic pictures and conceptions ; they seemed deprived of 
everything human. Primordial instincts awoke in them and clamoured 
for primordial expression. Apparently, the subconscious creature of 
prehistoric days took possession of their bodies. Like the victims 
of Circe, the officers of the Guard suddenly seemed to change into 
ferocious wolves. They tore off their uniforms and slunk about on all 
fours, their commander leading them down the deserted streets. 
They whined and barked and babbled in alcoholic frenzy until orderlies 
brought out pails of champagne to them. Another time, the colonel 
of a regiment of the Guards was found, very drunk and stark naked, 
on the roof of his house, where he sat baying at the moon. 

Nevertheless, Alexander decided there was no other way to develop 
his son. After all, the Czarevitch knew nothing beyond the narrow, 
musty rooms of the forbidding Gatshina palace. The wide world, 
beginning beyond those walls, was a closed book to Nicholas. Perhaps 
the drill of military service and forming new friendships would endow the 
heir to the throne with a stronger spirit. Alexander carefully chose the 
most suitable regiment and then explained to his son that he was 
to be accepted into the comradely circle of the Life-Guard Hussars, 



28 NICHOLAS II 

stationed at Czarskoje Selo. First there, and later in the Prcobra- 
shensky Regiment foremost among the Russian Guards Nicholas 
advanced as far as colonel, a rank he was to retain to his death. 

Thus, to a bewilderment almost amounting to fright, the shy Czare- 
vitch found himself, one day, in the officers' casino at Czarskoje Sclo, 
surrounded by gay faces. That the Grandduke-Czarevitch had become 
a member of the regiment was the highest honour the Czar could accord 
any unit of his Guards. The officers therefore strained every effort 
to prove themselves worthy of this indication of imperial grace. 

To his amazement, Nicholas noticed that the new world, now open 
to him, attracted him strongly. Day after day he led his troops to 
the drilling ground. The resonant beat of the regimental march 
sounded stimulatingly in his ears ; dipping his sword, he joyfully 
greeted the old regimental colours. It was then that he discovered 
that he was not merely the first in a long line of grandducal aspirants 
to the throne, but also a man of flesh and blood who shouted commands 
at the top of his voice and shook hands with comrades and who, of 
evenings, in the officers' casino, would discuss the service with men of 
equal station. 

The officers' casino took him by storm, becoming the first great and 
lasting impression in the life of the future Czar. The spirit of splendid 
comradeship, the blind confidence in one another, the nonchalant 
hauteur with which misfortunes were met, made the officers' corps seem 
more like a distinguished English club than a regiment. To the day of 
his abdication except for his life within the intimate family circle 
Nicholas did not know any society superior to that which he found in 
the casino of one of his aristocratic regiments. 

The entire behaviour of the Czarevitch changed noticeably. No 
longer was he so inhibited ; his hearty laughter rang out in the palace 
as well as elsewhere. Time and again, he confessed in his diary : ' ' Came 
home early in the morning." More and more often, the Czar was 
informed that the Grandduke-Czarevitch appeared pleased with 
military life and that his comrades liked him. True, now and then, his 
stern reaction to the frivolous adventures of certain young officers 
occasioned slight consternation among them a fact which gratified 
the Czar greatly. To all appearances, respect for the seventh command- 
ment was a quality which the slender Czarevitch had inherited from 
his huge father. It was this trait which, for some time, made Nicholas 
the subject of discussion among the aristocratic officers who deemed 
his squeamishness "rather ridiculous." 

Now and then gossip would reach the Czarevitch to the effect that 
one of his comrades kept a mistress, whereupon he would do everything 
in his power to force the unfortunate officer to lead his love of the 
moment to the altar. In many instances, these mistresses were not 
exactly members of the St. Petersburg aristocracy, so that such mar- 
riages often necessitated the officer's resignation from the regiment. In 
cases of this kind, the Czarevitch assumed the economic responsibility 
for the young couple. Through his intervention, the bridegroom, by 



DAVID AND GOLIATH 2Q 

order of the Czar, found a position within the bureaucracy. Conse- 
quently, at the time of Nicholas's ascension to the throne, there were 
governors and vice-governors galore, their more or less enforced 
marriages having been arranged by the heir to the throne. 

It was in the summer of 1890 that the Czarevitch's squeamishness 
came to an abrupt end. That summer, his regiment was encamped 
at Krassnoje Selo for the great imperial manoeuvres. Involving balls 
and regimental festivities, the conferring of titles and decorations, 
such a manoeuvre was not only a military but also a social event. 

The great official balls were opened by the Czar in person. Placing 
a powerful arm resolutely around the Czarina, Alexander would grace- 
fully waltz through the ballroom. The smaller, more intimate affairs, 
arranged by the officers, always included a bevy of actresses and ballet 
dancers, young ladies of the St. Petersburg demi-monde, and attractive 
foreigners. The young Czarevitch, who showed himself to the world at 
large for the first time, was enthusiastically welcomed everywhere. 

The manoeuvre where the Czar, with a single sweep of his sword, 
commanded tens of thousand of his Guards, and the ensuing brilliant 
affairs, enlivened by the lilting measures of the waltz ; the impressive 
grandezza of the quadrille, and the spirited grace of the mazurka, 
swept the young Czarevitch off his feet. In a revealing flash, the 
indescribable pomp and glamour of imperial St. Petersburg seemed 
to unfold before his eyes in all its breath-taking and intoxicating beauty. 

At one of these intimate balls, young Nicholas met the beautiful 
Polish girl, Mathilde Kshcsinskaja, member of the Imperial Ballet. 
With the last notes of the waltz still ringing in his ears, Nicholas gazed 
admiringly into the girl's lovely dark eyes. He regarded her with a 
gravity clearly indicating that he was a grandduke of merely twenty, 
imbued with fear of the unknown and restrained by respect for the 
seventh commandment. 

Neither the young dancer nor the officers misread that glance. At 
the next souper, Nicholas found himself seated beside Kshcsinskaja. 
This happened again and again. Before the manoeuvres had come to 
an end, it was reported to the Czar that the Grandduke had crossed 
that delicate line which separated the youth from the man. And 
beginning with that very day, Nicholas's diary repeatedly bears the 
entry : " Had an argument with Father on account of Kshesinskaja." 
With all the authority of a Czar and a father, Alexander III reiterated 
to his son what he had said to his frivolous father many years before 
when he himself was still the Czarevitch : He who is destined to wear 
the crown of the realm, and who is to receive the mystery of anoint- 
ment, could not afford, before God and humanity, to keep a mistress. 

To his father's astonishment, Nicholas displayed the characteristic 
obstinacy of a Romanov. He listened politely and attentively to the 
Czar's words and expressed his regret for grieving his imperial father 
but there was no change whatever in his relations with Kshesinskaja. 
Amazed, Alexander discovered in the calm glances of his son the same 
bold resoluteness with which Peter had re-created the realm ; Paul had 



3O NICHOLAS II 

exiled entire regiments from the drilling grounds to Siberia ; and 
Nicholas I had declared to his ministers : " I can do everything. The 
only thing I cannot do is to command my men to become pregnant." 
For the time being, Alexander had to resign himself to this streak of 
Romanov boldness. But before long a scandalous development enabled 
him to bring upon the head of his son the unmitigated force of his 
imperial anger. 



CHAPTER FOUR 

THE TRIP AROUND THE WORLD 

A'OGGY, wintcry St. Petersburg morning steeped in drab 
grey. The clock in the church steeple rang out the hour of 
six and the guard at the gate of the Gatshina Palace was 
changed. Two gigantic soldiers stood as if petrified at the 
entrance to the castle. Their simple souls were painfully impressed 
with the consciousness of their responsibility. Did it not devolve upon 
them tc protect the Czar against the fog, against the void of St. 
Petersburg, and against the cold creeping up from the Gulf of 
Finland ? 

At a quarter-past six, hoof-beats echoed in the still air. The guards 
gazed about in startled surprise. Certainly it was most unusual for 
anyone to visit the Czar at such an early hour. At last, a sled drawn 
by three horses emerged from the fog. A liveried flunkey sprang from 
the driver's seat and opened the fur-lined door of the troika. The 
soldiers saluted. The caller was none other than Prince Bariatintsky, 
general en suite, and special friend of Czar Alexander III. Without 
acknowledging the salute of the soldiers, the Prince rushed into the 
palace. 

In the antechamber, a well-trained lackey helped the Prince out of 
his greatcoat. The flunkey's face was as devoid of expression as a 
sheet of blank paper. Nothing in the servant's features betrayed that 
he observed the Prince's reddened eyes, his right eyebrow elevated in 
troubled despair and the crumpled ribbon of his many orders awry 
on his breast. Breathing heavily as he leaned on his stick and the arm 
of the lackey the elderly nobleman ascended the staircase of the Gat- 
shina Palace. After every third step he paused to wipe the perspiration 
from his brow and stroke his Francis- Joseph beard, sighing in English : 
"My goodness!" 

On the mezzanine, where the Czar's private suite was located, 
the aide-de-camp on duty received the General's command : "Announce 
me to His Majesty immediately." 

The aide-de-camp looked at Prince Bariatintsky in surprise. " It is 
hardly possible that His Majesty is up yet, Your Serene Highness." 

The old man raised a trembling hand, marked with blue veins, and, 
pointing towards the door, snarled: "Announce me immediately, 
immediately, I say ! " 

The aide-de-camp shivered. He noticed how the Prince's eyebrow 
shot upward, and thought the decrepit old man might easily crumble 
to dust at the very threshold of the Czar's bedchamber. And so he 
softly opened the door and vanished from view. 

3* 



32 NICHOLAS II 

Half an hour later, Bariatintsky stamped into the Czar's study. 
Alexander sat behind the desk in full uniform. When Bariatintsky 
beheld his Emperor, he broke into wild sobbing. From his watery eyes 
flowed dirty little tears which disappeared in the luxuriant Francis- 
Joseph beard. Clasping his hands, and in a voice vibrant with emotion, 
the Prince exclaimed : " Your Majesty, a scandal, a terrible scandal 
. . . with a member of the dynasty involved ! " 

Alexander received the news scornfully. "No doubt Duke L 

has been drinking too much again." 

"No, it is not that." 

"What then?" 

"Your Majesty," Bariatintsky stammered, "this time it is His 
Imperial Highness, the Czarevitch." 

Then he sat down and sadly, but none the less emphatically, reported: 
" Last night His Imperial Highness, the Czarevitch, decided to 
accompany a number of officers of his regiment to the well-known Kubat 
Night Club. The Czarevitch ordered champagne, which was served 
time and again. At two o'clock this morning the owner of the resort 
drew his distinguished guests 1 attention to the fact that closing hour 
had approached. To this, His Imperial Highness, the Czarevitch, 
remarked that he was not at all interested in the respective city 
ordinances. Unfortunately, fifteen minutes later, the night club was 
raided by the police. One member of the party, a colonel of the Guards, 
emerged from the private dining-room and importuned the police 
officer in charge naturally without mentioning the presence of the 
Czarevitch to extend the closing time for once. However, the dutiful 
police officer refused the request, whereupon the colonel attempted to 
bribe him with a hundred roubles. 

" The officer, incensed at this affront, assumed it his duty to make an 
example of the case and promptly conveyed the facts to His Excellency, 
the President of Police of the City of St. Petersburg, General von Wahl. 
The General immediately hastened to the night club. To his amaze- 
ment, when he entered the private dining-room, he found His Imperial 
Highness, the Granddukc-Czarevitch, surrounded by officers of the 
Guard. His Imperial Highness, apparently greatly upset by the sudden 
appearance of Wahl, demanded what right the latter had to intrude 
upon his the Czarevitch's private life. Von Wahl replied that such 
interference was not only within his rights, but the duty he owed to his 
all-highest master who had entrusted him with maintaining quiet and 
order in his residential city. Thereupon, His Imperial Highness, the 
Czarevitch, seized a crystal bowl filled with caviare and covered the 
face and chest of His Excellency the President of Police, General von 
Wahl, with the aforementioned fish product. At the same time, His 
Imperial Highness remarked that von Wahl now presented the im- 
pression of a dyed-in-the-wool negro. It was not before I myself 
appeared on the scene that the affair was brought to an end." 

Prince Bariatintsky was an old experienced bureaucrat. Whenever 
a situation appeared difficult he would resort to the language of official 



/...V..I. 



(V.\< AIJ'IXAXUKK III. i-ATHKK >I- MCIlnL\S II 



THE TRIP AROUND THE WORLD 33 

documents. While he delivered himself of his speech, the Czar remained 
seated, his hands folded, without stirring once. Then, after Bariatint- 
sky had finished, the monarch asked calmly : " Who, besides the 
officers of the Guard, was present in the private dining-room ? " 

" Just a few ladies, Your Majesty." 

"What sort of ladies?" 

" The ballet dancer, Madame Kshesinskaja, for example." 

" Is that so ? " The undertone of that remark almost set the Prince 
choking. " Thank you, Bariatintsky," said the Czar, after a long silence, 
fraught with significance. " I appreciate your loyalty. Now go home 
and sleep well." 

That day, at noon, the Czar received General von Wahl. The Presi- 
dent of Police stood at attention and, in choppy sentences, reported : 
"Your Imperial Majesty, the all-highest uniform has been seriously 
insulted by His Imperial Highness, the Czarevitch. A public affront 
to the epaulets of a general ... to the decorations Your Majesty 
graciously placed on my chest . . . not to mention that my face was 
smeared with caviar." 

After the General had ended, the Czar said : "I must reprimand 
you, Wahl. The private life of the Czarevitch is, under no circum- 
stances, any of your concern. Where would we land if every policeman 
pried into the life of members of the imperial family ? You knew 
very well that your future Czar sat before you. However, I shall be 
lenient with you this time and leave you off with just a reprimand. 
And now you may go home." 

At one o'clock, the Czar received the Czarevitch in a distant room 
of the palace. The conversation between the Czar and his son never 
came to light. Nevertheless, although all doors were tightly closed and 
the adjacent rooms empty, certain courtiers claimed they had heard 
thunderous bellowing roars issuing from that distant corner of the 
palace. 

That evening, when father and son met at the imperial dinner table, 
not even the best judge of mankind could have discerned the slightest 
tell-tale reaction in their impenetrable features. Only after dinner 
had been served did the Czar mention, in an offhand manner, that the 
Czarevitch had now reached an age when, as future monarch, he should 
obtain a good glimpse of the world. For this reason, he had decided 
that the heir to the throne was to embark upon a cruise around the 
world in order to complete his education. Old Prince Bariatintsky 
was to be in charge of the trip. Besides, the Czarevitch was to be 
accompanied by his brother, Grandduke George, the Greek Prince 
Georgios, Prince Uchtomsky, and a few other officers. They would 
start shortly, aboard the armoured cruiser Asov's Gedenken, commanded 
by Admiral Lohmen. 

A few weeks later, Nicholas boarded the iron-plated chamber which, 

for a few months, was to separate him from the Kubat Night Club and 

,the dancer Kshesinskaja. Nicholas was not resentful. After the 

death of Alexander III he put General von Wahl in command of 



34 NICHOLAS II 

his entourage and even made him Vice-Minister of the Interior, 
temporarily. 

The Russian armoured-cruiser glided majestically through the 
billowing waves of the Mediterranean. The sun's rays beat upon its 
shiny steel plates. On the foremast flew the black and yellow imperial 
standard with the Romanov griffin. Two sailors stood guard over the 
flag. They received double rations of soap, fresh linen twice a week, 
and had been instructed how to comb their hair and keep their finger- 
nails clean. 

The holy-stoned deck of the armoured-cruiser was not unlike the 
shiny parquet floor of the White Hall in the Winter Palace. The 
parade uniforms of the crew drew attention to the fact that His 
Imperial Highness, the Grandduke-Czarevitch, was aboard. Below, 
in the captain's cabin, sat Admiral Lohmen and Prince Bariatintsky, 
arguing bitterly. In choice invectives they accused each other of 
recklessness, a deplorable lack of patriotism, and light-mindedness in 
general. Prince Bariatintsky insisted that four sailors should be 
detailed to stand guard over the imperial standard, whereas the 
Admiral considered two men to be sufficient. This difference in 
opinion had not even been settled when the voyage came to an end. 

On the bridge, beside the vice-admiral on duty, stood the bald- 
headed, ugly, old Prince Uchtomsky. Perhaps in view of his bald 
pate His Majesty, the Czar, had endowed the Prince with the rank of 
official travel historian. The Prince was to write the story of the 
all-highest cruise around the world. Uchtomsky, bleary-eyed, stared 
into the dim distance, wearily awaiting an inspiration. 

The deck chairs were occupied by the officers of the imperial entour- 
age. The princes, Nicholas and George, were imbibing lemonade. 
The Greek Prince Georgios told of Odysseys who once sailed the same 
waters. The officers thought of their history lessons, of their Greek 
vocabulary, and of the nymph Calypso. They thought of the six 
months of boredom before them and shivered. No use to dwell upon 
the nymph Calypso, for during those six long months ahead of them 
not one female would be permitted to set foot on the cruiser. Naturally, 
this stringent ruling created an extremely difficult situation for a group 
of healthy young officers. 

Grandduke George arose. His slim, almost girlish figure leaned 
against the railing. His cheeks, usually so pale as to be almost trans- 
parent, were rosy from the fresh sea air. He was his father's favourite 
and in intimate corners of St. Petersburg salons venerable dignitaries 
whispered that it was not entirely impossible that the gentle George 
might ascend the throne of the Romanovs instead of Nicholas. But 
now Grandduke George was as bored with this voyage as were all the 
officers of the entourage. The terrible monotony of sky, water, and 
decks had a soporific effect. 

Somebody suggested emulating the English custom and arranging 
deck games. Nicholas promptly assented, his youthful body yearning 



THE TRIP AROUND THE WORLD 35 

for exercise. Presently, a boisterous commotion ensued. Nicholas 
and the Greek Prince were racing each other. Grandduke George 
played hide-and-seek with two officers of the Guard. Prince 
Uchtomsky, attracted by the noise, looked upon the young people in 
disapproval as they laughed and shouted, disturbing the dignified 
atmosphere of this educational voyage. 

Hearty laughter resounded as a circle was formed in the centre 
of which two officers wrestled. The prize was to be a glass of lemonade. 
Grandduke George rushed over to his brother. " Niki," he cried, " do 
you want to wrestle with me ? " 

Nicholas divested himself of his coat. Bent slightly forward, 
stretching his arms in the fashion of a ring athlete, he smiled at his 
brother. Uchtomsky looked on, not quite certain whether it was correct 
for two granddukes to interrupt imperially decreed boredom by a public 
ring performance. 

George threw his arms around Nicholas. The bodies of the two 
brothers were knotted in a clinch. A blue vein stood out prominently 
on the forehead of the younger one. Beneath Nicholas's rosy skin his 
muscles tightened visibly. It was these muscles which decided George's 
fate perhaps, even, the fate of the throne itself. 

Step by step, a smile on his face, George retreated. Nicholas' eyes 
were bloodshot. Another second and George, according to the rules, 
would touch the ground with both shoulders. Just one more powerful 
jerk, and Nicholas let go of his brother. A scream of horror. The 
two brothers, in the heat of battle, had come too near the head of 
the companionway. His hands flung upward, George plunged down the 
steep staircase and landed on the iron plates of the lower deck. There 
he lay in a heap, motionless. Breathing belabouredly, stunned by the 
sudden accident, Nicholas gazed at the others in dazed helplessness. 
Officers rushed down the companionway. 

A thin trickle of blood dripped from George's mouth. Carefully, 
the officers lifted up the unconscious Prince. For a fleeting moment 
their glances flashed across at Nicholas, who stood rooted to the spot. 
Bariatintsky, arriving upon the scene breathless, an alarmed expression 
on his ashen face, stared into the distended grey eyes of the heir to the 
throne. 

The armoured-cruiser made for the nearest port. Obviously, 
George was in no condition to continue the trip. The internal injuries 
he had received were more serious that had been first assumed. He 
coughed uninterruptedly and blood stained his handkerchief. The fall 
had been too much for his frail body. A hidden, invisible disease 
became apparent now. Back in Russia, physicians, tapping his weak 
chest, had to admit that the Prince suffered from tuberculosis. In 
a few short years George was doomed to die in the picturesque 
Caucasian health resort, Abbas-Tuman. 

In the muffled atmosphere of St. Petersburg salons, talk of a possible 
change in the succession to the throne ceased abruptly. Instead, iu 
anxious whispers, the dignitaries spoke of the Grandduke-Czarevitch 



36 NICHOLAS II 

who was spreading misfortune about him. Born on the day of the 
sufferer Job, he had inadvertently sounded his brother's death knell. 
Who knew but that he might bring even greater misfortune upon the 
Empire ? 

This undercurrent of whispering was to accompany Nicholas through- 
out his entire life. Nobody dared refer to the tragedy by so much as 
a hint. However, from the strange reserved glances of his entourage, 
from the depressing silence that ensued whenever conversation touched 
the danger zone, it was easy enough to guess the suppressed thought : 
Brother's murderer. 

The armoured-cruiser Azov's Gedenken continued its voyage. Neither 
Nicholas nor the officers surmised the tragic results of George's accident 
at that time. They actually envied the young Prince whose good 
fortune it now was to return to his beloved regiment, and to the 
enchanting atmosphere of Si. Petersburg. For the other members 
of the party, the road back to their regiment led via Egypt, India, 
China and Japan. 

It was in November that Asov's Gedenken anchored in the harbour of 
Alexandria. Nicholas, pale and quiet, was received with music, a deep 
genuflection from the Russian consuls, and a handshake from the 
Khedive. 

The long journey failed to leave any lasting impression on the 
Czarevitch. With his usual indifference he jotted into his diary that 
Egypt was not very hot in the winter, that the pyramids were worth 
seeing, and that, at Luxor, a riudc belly-dancer unquestionably had 
tried to seduce old Uchtomsky. 

His diary was bare of all political observations. Only once Nicholas 
noted, with apparent dismay, that, in Delhi, he had met too many 
English soldiers in red uniforms. Egypt, India, China passed before 
the disinterested eyes of the Czarevitch like so many pictures painted on 
canvas. Mechanically, Nicholas shook innumerable hands, mounted 
camels, elephants and horses, or boarded railroad trains. He listened 
to the learned explanations of Uchtomsky, and then returned to the 
cruiser to relax in a deck chair and gaze contemplatively at that 
magical line on the far horizon which seemed to divide heaven and 
earth. Foreign countries held small interest for Nicholas ; after all 
his own country was vast enough. 

In spring 1891 Asov's Gedenken entered Japanese waters. Again 
a round of hand-shaking, genuflections, and receptions ensued. The 
little Japanese smiled, all gracious charm, and Nicholas remarked that 
they appeared to him like monkeys pretending to be Europeans. It 
was the first time a European heir to the throne set foot on the soil 
of the Land of the Rising Sun. The Japanese did their utmost to offer 
their best to this prince from a foreign land. 

Nicholas visited the celebrated Lake Biwa on April I3th. The 
Japanese guide told him of the old poets who sang of the celebrated 
lake ; of the noble Samurai who, suffering from Wcltschmerz, had sought 



THE TRIP AROUND TTTK WORLD 37 

to recapture the equanimity of their souls on the shores of the lake ; 
of lovers who found redemption from their terrestrial sufferings in the 
cool depths of the water. Nicholas gazed upon the Japanese dwarf trees 
mirrored in the water and the strange, fantastic landscape. It recalled 
the fairy-tale town, Kitish, to his mind, which is supposedly hidden 
somewhere in Siberia beneath the waves of the holy Baikal Lake. 

The Japanese city Ozu, situated on the shores of Lake Biwa, takes 
pride in a celebrated and greatly venerated Buddha temple. After 
luncheon the exalted guests were the first Europeans in the entire 
world to visit this temple. 

Even as Nicholas strode towards the Buddha temple, under the 
blistering rays of the Japanese sun, a cold wind whistled through the 
streets of St. Petersburg. Rain fell in torrents. At the bridge in 
front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs a long string of gilded carriages 
with liveried lackeys was lined up. The windows of the ministry 
blazed with light. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Baron Giers, was 
giving a banquet for foreign diplomats. 

Under-Secretary of the Ministry, Count Lambsdorff, did not attend 
the dinner. He worked in his office until eight o'clock. Then he slipped 
into his coat and descended the broad marble staircase. At the foot 
of it he recognized the wet, excited man rushing toward him to be 
Secretary of Mails and Communications, Director Bisak. ' ' I must talk 
to the Minister immediately," cried the distraught Bisak. Informed 
that Baron Giers was at dinner, he clutched Lambsdorff 's arm anxiously. 
The latter led the excited man into his study and Bisak slumped into 
a chair. " For Heaven's sake," he stammered, " can you tell me who a 
certain Bilandt in Tokio is ? " 

" My dear man/ 1 Lambsdorff said in surprise, " how should I know ? " 

" You must advise me immediately," Bisak implored. 

Lambsdorff thumbed the international list of diplomats and ascer- 
tained that Bilandt was the Swedish-Danish minister to the Imperial 
Japanese court. " Good Lord," Bisak shouted in despair, " that means 
it's really serious. Just read this telegram which Bilandt sent to 
Copenhagen and Stockholm and which I intercepted officially." 

He handed Lambsdorff a slip of paper. Lambsdorff 's hands trembled 
as he read : " Russian Grandduke heir to throne wounded severely on 
head with cutlass of Japanese policeman in city Ozu near Lake Biwa. 
No details as yet." Lambsdorff looked concerned. So far, neither in the 
ministry nor at the telegraph office, was anything known about the 
incident. 

At half-past nine, the banquet over, Lambsdorff informed Baron 
Giers. The minister ordered an inquiry to be dispatched to Japan 
immediately. While the telegraph wires between Russia and Japan 
carried messages back and forth, the two diplomats, profoundly shaken, 
maintained a gloomy silence. Only once Giers exclaimed : " What a 
terrible thing to happen ! How can I dare to step before the Czar 
to-morrow morning ? " 

At one o'clock that night the Japanese ambassador appeared in 



38 NICHOLAS II 

the ministry. Obviously embarrassed, he reported that the religious 
susceptibilities of a Japanese policeman had been offended by the 
appearance of a European in the Buddha temple and he therefore 
had attacked the Grandduke. Fortunately, the Greek Prince Georgios 
had jumped upon the attacker and knocked the weapon out of his hand. 
Thus the life of the young Czarevitch had been saved. 

The next morning the Czar received the news with remarkable com- 
posure. At the moment no details were available. After agonizing 
hours of suspense, a telegram was received from the heir to the throne, 
addressed to the Czarina. It read : " Have been gravely insulted by 
a Japanese. My condition is excellent. 11 The message greatly relieved 
the Czar, who concluded that since the insult appeared more important 
than the wound the injury could not be very dangerous. To be sure, 
to an imperial prince, an insult was at least as painful as a wound. 

In his later relations with the Japanese, Nicholas never forgot the 
policeman of Ozu ! 

Towards noon another telegram arrived from Japan. The Govern- 
ment, assuring the Czar of its inexpressible regret and mortification, 
begged for all-highest forgiveness. In a marginal note on the telegram 
the Czar wrote : " Of course, we shall not require any other satisfac- 
tion." At the same time he telegraphed his ambassador in Tokio : 
''The further sojourn of my son in Japan seems inadvisable. If 
possible, it would be extremely desirable if the visit of some Japanese 
prince could be politely declined by St. Petersburg. Inform the 
Japanese Government that we are completely satisfied with the 
graciousness shown by the Emperor, the Empress, and all the Princes. 1 ' 

The head injury of the Czarevitch proved inconsequential; the 
powerful hand of Prince Georgios had interfered effectively. A few 
days after the attack Nicholas set foot on the Siberian shore of his 
realm. With fitting ceremony, the Czarevitch, as his first public act, 
laid the corner-stone for the great Trans-Siberian Railroad. 

From there, the sojourn was continued by horse and carriage. 
Before the Czarevitch's eyes unfolded the endless Siberian steppes. 
There were thousands of kilometres of a green plain, void of humanity, 
wild and immeasurable. The far horizon was only occasionally studded 
with the bulbous golden cupolas of churches, resembling so many 
pyramids in a desert. 

The whole of Siberia re-echoed with the ringing of church bells. 
The chimes of the farthest monastery reverberated through the 
primeval forest, reaching the ears of long-bearded Siberian mushiks, 
and even travelling across the border to mysterious Tibet. 

Mongolian nomads, monks and lamas, aborigines, demon wor- 
shippers, magicians, and shepherds rushed towards the great highway to 
inhale the dust stirred up by the carriage of the future Czar. Wherever 
the grandducal carriage halted, eager crowds gathered. Monks and 
mushiks knelt in the dust, crossing themselves, and sweeping the 
Siberian soil with their long beards. Once, a Tibetan lama, a holy man 
of great renown, approached Nicholas. 



THE TRIP AROUND THE WORLD 39 

The Czarevitch believed in holy men and miracle workers. The 
face of the wise lama was as yellow and dry as parchment. Nicholas 
permitted him to study the palm of his left hand. The oblique eyes 
of the Tibetan lama widened in terror. In broken Russian, he whisp- 
ered : " From the funeral of a near male relative, Thou wilt go to Thine 
own wedding. Thou art in danger but Thou wilt escape, and if Thou 
completeth the fiftieth year of Thy lift; Thou wilt die quietly in Thy 
bed I see much blood in the lines of Thy palm, therefore, be Thou 
aware that only a good man can be a happy man." 

The soothsayer disappeared in the motley crowd. The troika 
proceeded on its way, the little bells attached to the horses' manes 
jingling merrily. Nicholas observed innumerable bent backs, one of 
which must belong to the lama. And so he waved a hand in their 
direction. 

Born on the i8th of May, 1868, his life ended in Siberia on the i6th 
day of July, 1918, two months after his fiftieth birthday. 



A-? 



CHAPTER FIVE 

TRAGIC IDYLL 

ALEXANDER III, chilled by the cold fogs from the Gulf of 
Finland, felt genuine affection for the southlands. The 
mighty monarch was proud and happy that snow-covered 

_ northern Russia had brought under its sway vast stretches 

drenched by a subtropical sun the year round. In the south of his 
realm, in the Crimea, where the Colossus Russia stares into the dim 
distance of the Black Sea, the Czar built a palace for himself. Every 
year the subtropical gardens of Castle Livadia re-echoed with the 
voices of the Czar's children. The park was crowded with the glittering 
uniforms of courtiers. Enchanted by the beauty of the southern sea, 
the Emperor would glance across the smooth waters which, on one shore, 
mirrored the square beard of the Czar and reflected Stamboul's ornate 
mosques on the other. 

In 1891 the Czar left for Castle Livadia, following his usual custom. 
He stayed there until the middle of October and then returned to his 
capital city. Two behemothian engines drew the imperial special train 
through the plains. The Czar was impatient and so Minister of Trans- 
portation Poljet, member of the imperial entourage, instructed the 
engineer to drive the train as fast as possible. Although an excellent 
admiral in the Czar's navy, Poljet did not realize that the heavy train 
was in danger of being derailed every time it rounded a curve at 
excessive speed. 

It was on the 30th of October, 1891, in the neighbourhood of the 
station Borki. At noon hour the imperial family assembled in the 
dining-car with the older members of the House of Romanov seated at 
table. While flunkies served dinner the Czar glanced down from the 
steep railroad embankment at the soldiers who, petrified with respect, 
presented arms as the train rushed by. 

Suddenly there was a deafening report. The dining-car shivered. 
Plates clattered to the floor amidst shattered window panes ; iron 
crunched and heavy doors crumbled. Enveloped in a cloud of dust 
the train hurtled down the steep embankment. The Czarina stumbled 
and fell. The furniture was smashed like a set of toys when the heavy 
wide iron wall of the railroad carriage folded up like cardboard. The 
sudden impact broke the steel couplings of the car. As the dining-car 
landed at the foot of the embankment, the roof crashed in. 

Steel, brass, iron all appurtenances of modern industry apparently 
stood ready to crush the entire exalted house of the Czar under their 
heavy weight. In that terrrifying moment the whole fate of a gigantic 
empire was at stake. At that spot, on a railroad track near Borki, it 

40 



TRAGIC IDYLL 4! 

appeared as if two antagonistic worlds fought each other, with the 
younger one, armed with modern machinery, bent upon destroying the 
stern dignity of the feudal dynasty. 

It was then that Alexander III brought his enormous physical 
strength into play. Momentarily, the calm, austere giant was trans- 
formed into a hero. While everybody else, paralysed with fear, stared 
at the crumbling roof of the railroad carriage, the Czar jumped up, 
counteracting the united force of steel and iron with the great strength 
of his imperial shoulders. Like Atlas upholding the heavens, so 
Alexander, with his hands and shoulders, supported the roof of the 
buckling railroad coach. 

For minutes the Czar fought this superhuman battle and remained 
victor. He had saved his family. Not one passenger in the diner, 
neither the Czarina nor her sons, suffered the least injury. When 
help finally came to relieve the Czar of his colossal burden, Alexander, 
accompanied by Nicholas and George, went to look after the wounded 
and to offer them a few words of encouragement. 

With the speed of lightning, information spread of the miraculous 
escape of the Czar arid his family. When Alexander returned to 
St. Petersburg, a few days after the catastrophe, he was received by a 
large crowd, among them enthusiastic university students and high 
school pupils. Their heads bared, their eyes shining joyously, they 
looked upon their Czar, and suddenly the unstinted old Russian love 
for Little Father Czar seemed to awaken anew in them. Alexander, 
who had always looked upon the young intelligentsia as the most 
dangerous enemy of his realm, was deeply touched. He felt that now, 
after ten years of his rule, the old bond between Czar and people, so 
tragically torn asunder on the I3th of March, 1881, had been tied anew 
at last. 

However, the battle with the spirit of the Machine Age, which the 
Czar had fought at Borki, was to leave its mark. Notwithstanding 
annual prayers of thanks, henceforth to be offered by the Russian 
multitude on every anniversary of the railroad disaster, the Czar's 
strength declined steadily as an aftermath of the internal injuries 
he had suffered in the accident. 

Alexander III constantly was losing weight now; it even became a 
strenuous task for him to walk down the rows of invited guests at 
large receptions. At gala dinners, imperial relatives observed with 
alarm how the face of the Czar was moist with perspiration. 

Like all the Romanovs, Alexander III had little confidence in 
the wisdom of physicians. The life of the head of the Church, and of the 
Czar of All the Russias, rested solely and exclusively in the Hands of 
God and did not depend upon the deficient art of Court Medicus 
Hirsch. Rumours of the sudden decrepitude of the monarch needed 
no official confirmation. A mere glance was sufficient to realize that 
this once robust man was fighting a losing battle with a grave malady. 

In view of the Czar's illness, Grandduke Michael, eldest uncle of 
Alexander III, visited the Emperor in 1892 to discuss an important 



42 NICHOLAS IT 

dynastic question with him. Grandduke-Czarevitch Nicholas was still 
unmarried. If Russia's ruler should pass away, a man would ascend 
the throne who, temporarily, would be unable to provide legitimate 
heirs. In Grandduke Michael's eyes, this possibility involved serious 
dangers for realm and dynasty. 

Alexander III fully understood the problem and agreed that the 
Czarevitch must marry. An exemplary husband, the Czar left the 
choice of the future Czarina to his wife, Maria Feodorovna. A few 
days later, Nicholas, to his embarrassment and surprise, was informed 
that it was his parents' wish to see him married as soon as possible. 
At the same time the Czarina made it clear to him that Princess Helen of 
Orleans would be a suitable consort. Her father, Count of Paris, was 
pretender to the French crown. 

To be sure the anxious Czarina, who had so carefully and critically 
considered all the available princesses of European courts, did not 
know that Nicholas, two years earlier, had jotted into his diary the 
brief sentence : " It is the dream of my heart to marry Alix H. some 
day." This Alix H. was Princess Alice of Hesse-Darmstadt and 
on the Rhine, cousin of Emperor William of Germany and grand- 
daughter of Queen Victoria of England. 

The Princess was fourteen years old when she entered the granite 
gate of the Winter Palace for the first time. All the glamour, the 
power, and the wealth of Russia revealed themselves to her in the 
intoxicating grandeur of a great Court ball. Among the crowd of gold- 
braided courtiers, bejewelled grandduchesses and beautiful ladies-in- 
waiting, the little Princess noticed the slender figure and large, dreamy 
grey eyes of a sixteen-year-old youth who, in time, would be the 
proud possessor of this palace, master of this brilliant Court, and ruler 
of this entire vast empire. That festive evening, Alix and Nicholas 
were inseparable. When, eventually, the young Princess returned to 
her homeland, there remained forever anchored in the heart of Nicholas 
the picture of a small blonde girl. 

The young Princess was connected with Russia through her sister, 
Grandduchess Elizabeth, who was the wife of Sergius, favourite brother 
of Alexander III. The clever Grandduchess had observed the friend- 
ship between the two children, and it was at her initiative that a few 
years later Alix was invited for a six-weeks' stay with the family of 
the Czar at Peterhof . 

This sojourn proved a deep disappointment to young Alix. While 
at home, in Hesse-Darmstadt, her family already regarded her as the 
future Czarina, and while Russian courtiers at first had received her 
with extremely devout genuflections, nevertheless she could not fail 
to notice that now the glances of the Czar and Czarina rested upon her 
with unmistakable dislike. 

The imperial couple disapproved of everything about Princess Alix. 
She was German. She read poetry. She had a dreamy, almost affected 
manner of speaking of things divine. Last, but not least, she was the 
daughter of Grandduke Ludwig IV who, at the time his daughter made 



TRAGIC IDYLL 43 

every effort to gain the affection of the imperial couple, indulged in an 
outrageous flirtation with the wife of the Russian minister at the 
Darmstadt Court. This was sufficient to arouse the wrath of the 
straitlaced Czar against everything Hessian. 

Of course, it did not take the experienced courtiers long to scent 
the imperial attitude toward Alix. Consequently, their own bows 
became stiller, their glances cooler, their speeches more restrained. 
The Hessian Princess, who had come to Russia on an embarrassing 
quest for a husband, struck them as a ludicrous figure. Soon Alix 
discovered that the clique of haughty courtiers had given her the 
nickname of Hessian Fly. The significant glances, innuendoes, and 
gestures hurt the young girl of nineteen like the lashes of a Russian 
knout. To her, the imperial Court represented a world full of enemies, 
and to the end of her days she never fully recovered from the humilia- 
tion suffered at their hands. Later, as Czarina, she vainly sought to 
strike the right note in her contact with the courtiers. The shyness 
which induced her to withdraw from pomp and circumstance doubtless 
was a result of the bitter experiences she had had during those 
agonizing weeks in Petcrhof . 

Then, too, the love which the heir to the throne bore her did not seem 
to her too firmly rooted. Nicholas's weak character was indeed 
unable to cope with the parental will. When the Czarina proposed the 
French Princess as a consort for him, Nicholas did not answer in the 
negative. Instead, he timidly confided to his diary : " Two ways are 
open to me. I would like to choose one while Mother wants me to 
decide on the other. What am I going to do in the end ? " 

One year after her visit to Peterhof, Princess Alix came to Russia 
again, this time to visit her sister. Nicholas desired nothing so much 
as to drive out immediately to Iljinskoe village, where the Princess 
sojourned. However, when his mother interfered, he speedily gave in, 
and not even an entry in his diary shows that it pained him to renounce 
his impulse. 

Once, when Queen Victoria, in the guarded language of the diplomat, 
inquired at the Court of the Czar whether one of the Russian grand- 
dukes was interested in her granddaughter, Alexander III replied, 
in unguarded and undiplomatic fashion, that the Grandduke-Czarevitch 
Nicholas still was a very young man and not sufficiently developed to 
contemplate marriage. He first was to serve in the army for some 
time. Besides, his interest in Alix was merely a boyish infatuation, 
sure to be forgotten before long. 

Four years later, with the incipient illness of the Czar, the question 
of marriage emerged to the foreground once more. The Czarina's 
words became more pressing, the Czar's glances more questioning. 
Pictures of those who seemed suitable to wear the Romanov crown 
were shown to young Nicholas. Throughout it all, the Czarevitch 
remained so bored and so disinterested that the Czar concluded his 
son would never marry. 

After all attempts to force a decision had failed, the Czar instructed 



44 NICHOLAS II 

Grandduke Michael : " You talk to Niki. It will be easier for you than 
for me." Grandduke Michael, eldest of the Romanov family, regarded 
this order as a holy duty and hastened to obey. To his amazement, 
he heard from the lips of the reserved, shy Czarevitch that he desired 
nothing so much as marriage, but that he could find happiness only 
by the side of the blonde Hessian Princess. 

In the shadow of approaching death, the Czar bowed to his son's 
will. He gave Nicholas his paternal blessings and, on the 2nd of April, 
1894, the Czarevitch departed for Coburg. There, in the presence of 
Queen Victoria and Emperor William II, Alix's brother, Grandduke 
Ferdinand of llesse, was to be wedded to the daughter of the Duke 
of Edinburgh and Saxc-Gotha. Officially, Nicholas was supposed to 
represent his father at these nuptials ; unofficially, he was to become 
engaged to Princess Alix. 

Quiet little Nicholas, who loved to ice skate and who used to stroll 
along the banks of the Neva River with his cousin Sandro, knew better 
than anyone had expected how to represent his father with befitting 
dignity. But as he suffered his foreign relatives to kiss his cheeks, as 
he listened to the music of a popular operetta and as wearing Prussian 
uniform he received the German Emperor at the station, his glance 
ever wandered to the pale and beautiful if somewhat set face of Alix. 

Law and custom demanded that Nicholas should ask his future wife 
for her hand. His very soul shivered at the thought of baring his 
heart to his chosen bride. Veritably aflutter with expectation, Alix's 
relatives disregarded all prescribed etiquette and permitted the two 
to spend hours on end alone each day. On these occasions Nicholas 
lectured the young Princess on the superiority of the Greek-Catholic 
religion over the Anglican, picked flowers and drank tea with her 
and accompanied her on little walks in the park. His lips never could 
pronounce that short, magical formula which would make the young 
Princess his fiancee. The words simply froze on his lips. After one of 
these meetings, Nicholas confided to his diary : " My very soul is 
weary." 

It took the efforts of the German Emperor to break the Czarevitch's 
spell of silent anguish. In the manner of a bold Hussar, he attacked 
Nicholas's psychical inhibitions and the onslaught succeeded. The then 
German Chancellor, Prince Bernhard von Billow, reported on the affair 
as follows : " After Princess Alix and the Russian heir to the throne 
had met day after day not without noticeable embarrassment 
in- the old Castle Ehrenburg, Emperor William, in his impulsive and 
aggressive manner, took the Czarevitch by the arm. He led Nicholas 
to his room, told him to buckle on his sword and don his fur cap. Then 
he pressed a few roses into his hand and said : ' And now go and 
propose to Alix.' The same evening the engagement was announced/' 

On the evening of the memorable 8th of April, 1894, Nicholas jotted 
into his diary : " Wonderful, unforgettable day of my life. Day of 
my engagement to my dear beloved Alix. At ten o'clock in the morn- 
ing, she came to call on Aunt Mienchen and there we declared our love. 



TRAGIC IDYLL 45 

Dear God, what a mountain has finally fallen from my shoulders ! 
How happy Papa and Mama will be ! All day long 1 went about as if 
in a dream, and I really did not know what had happened to me. It 
seems unbelievable that I have a fiancee." 

Thus was ushered in the family happiness of the most unhappy of 
all czars. This joy in his family never left him ; neither during 
revolutions and wars, nor at the time of his dethronement. It was still 
his on that dark day when, hand in hand with an aged, grey-haired 
Alix, he descended the steps to the cellar of the Ipatjev-House in 
Ekaterinburg to face the bullets of his murderers. 

Two weeks after his engagement Nicholas left Coburg to receive 
the congratulations of his people in distant, cold St. Petersburg and 
the blessings of his dying father. 

Great changes were occurring at the Court of St. Petersburg, with 
the Czar's condition growing visibly worse. Professor Sacharjin from 
Moscow and Professor Leyden from Berlin meanwhile had arrived at 
St. Petersburg only to agree that the Czar suffered from a hopeless form 
of nephritis. 

Information about the serious illness of the monarch was kept 
secret. Only Alexander himself, his wife and a few members of his 
intimate entourage were completely informed about the Czar's actual 
condition. However, the others could not help but observe the tired 
appearance of the monarch, the ashen skin, the sunken eyes, looking 
at the world so sadly. 

The Czarevitch, too, recognized his father's condition. Dark hints 
from high dignitaries, anxious glances from his mother, and the gener- 
ally depressed silence of the palace, were convincing enough intimations 
warning him of imminent and tremendous changes. 

But Nicholas refused to interpret these sad signs correctly. The 
young Czarevitch fought against assuming the burden which, with his 
father's last breath, inescapably would fall upon his own shoulders. 
He ignored his father's illness with the same equanimity with which, 
later, as ruler of his realm, he was to ignore wars, revolutions, and 
defeats. 

Shortly after his return to Gatshina, Nicholas appeared at his 
stricken father's bedside. In calm and courteous tones, he begged 
permission to visit his fiancee in England. The tired giant regarded 
his son sadly. His voice sounding strange, he asked his son to be 
patient for a few days longer ; just now, it was so hard for him to 
speak. 

A short time later an old friend of the monarch, Chief of the Political 
Police, Count Tsherevin, visited Nicholas. He explained to the heir 
to the throne that the time appeared most unpropitious for a trip to 
England. 

But I spoke to the physicians," Nicholas pointed out, " and they 
do not consider the Emperor seriously ill." 

" Perhaps not yet," replied the General significantly, " but imagine 
if something happened during your absence ! " 



46 NICHOLAS II 

" I have been assured that nothing is liable to happen/' the Czare- 
vitch insisted stubbornly. "Nothing will change my plans. Even 
if the Czar is as sick as you say, I will have to leave. I cannot let 
Alix wait so long." 

11 1 beg of you, please be patient a little longer," the General pleaded. 
" The situation is far too serious for Your Imperial Highness to con- 
template a journey." 

<f Oh, you are just a pessimist," Nicholas cried angrily. lf I have 
promised Princess Alix that I shall spend the month of July with her and 
I simply must keep my word. Besides, life here is so dreary these days 
that it will be an excellent idea to get away from it for a little while." 

There was nothing else the General could say. In St. Petersburg's 
aristocratic circles, however, there were whisperings that a young man 
starting out in that way would never come to a happy end. 

On the 3rd of June Nicholas boarded the Polar Star and left for 
England where he spent a few enjoyable weeks. Nothing intruded 
upon the happiness of the lovers, not even the anticipation of imminent 
events. It seemed to them as if the Czar's fatal illness, the difficult days 
they presently would have to face side by side, the vast country tremb- 
ling with anxiety, all were events occurring on a far-distant planet. 

Shortly before his departure, Alix jotted into Niki's diary : " Sur 
cette page blanche > que ne puis-je y graver un seul mot ; ' le bonheur.' " 

To Nicholas this love became an island of happiness, whose blessed 
peace must not be disturbed either by personal worries or the outrages 
of fortune. The enchanted isolation of these two lovers, amidst the 
most gigantic storm of modern times, lasted for twenty-four years. 
It comprises, perhaps, the strangest phenomenon in the enigmatic 
psychology of Czar Nicholas II. 

The prelude to this idyll of twenty-four years' duration was con- 
cluded in the middle of July when Nicholas departed from England to 
repair to the Crimea with the imperial family. There, under the rays of 
the southern sun, Alexander spent the last weeks of his life, fighting 
a losing battle with his illness. 



CHAPTER SIX 

THE JOURNEY OF DEATH 

A air of deep depression hovered over the realm of the Czar. 
The marble magnificence of Kazan Cathedral in St. 
Petersburg resounded from the deep bass voice of the 
Metropolitan. The gilt cupolas of the sixteen hundred 
churches of Moscow vibrated with the thunderous echoes of their 
choirs. When the iron-clad gates of old monasteries opened in the snow- 
covered steppes of Siberia, tall tapers were revealed burning before the 
stern icons of St. Nicholas and the picture of Holy Prince Alexander 
Nevsky. In the magic twilight of the churches merged the simple 
costumes of the mushiks, the colourful skirts of their womenfolk, the 
flowing gowns of the popes, the solemn mien of the monks, and the 
gala uniforms of officers and officials. In every monastery, cathedral, 
and chapel of the vast empire, amid incense and flickering candles, 
and whilst the devout were crossing themselves, there arose one great 
supplication " for the mightiest, most orthodox, most autocratic, most 
gracious Emperor and Czar, Alexander III Alexandrovitch." 

Meanwhile, on the terrace of Livadia Castle, the stricken monarch 
waited motionlessly. He felt that the pious prayers of the millions 
of his subjects would remain unanswered. God's stern will had 
decreed an early end for him. Ministers flocked to Alexander's sick- 
bed ; autocratic power entrusted to the Czar must not be permitted 
to lapse for a moment. The devout prayers and litanies were drowned 
out by the iron severity of the Czar's last ukases. Alexander worked 
incessantly. The autocratic spirit of his last commands was to point 
the way for his son. 

As soon as the burden of ruling had been disposed of, Alexander 
wearily dragged himself down to the shore. But even there, alongside 
the blue sea, duties of representation would pursue him. Granddukes 
came to visit him ; officers of the army stood at attention before 
him ; seemingly endless delegations arrived. 

His hollow cheeks and dull eyes denoting inexpressible fatigue, 
the Czar presided at the imperial dinner-table. With sad mien he 
observed the succession of delicacies, calculated to tempt him, but 
whose very appearance and taste revolted him. Only during the last 
few weeks of his life did Alexander III dare to insist upon the fulfilment 
of a desire he had harboured ail along : dainty dishes were to disappear 
from his board. The Peasant-Czar would please his palate, at least 
during the last days of his terrestrial existence, with plain peasant fare. 
Despite objections first raised by the Chief Master of Ceremonies, the 
monarch's wish was complied with, and simple dishes, prepared by a 
peasant woman from the village, were set before the dying Czar. 

47 



48 NICHOLAS II 

When his condition grew graver Alexander III refused to permit 
physicians at his bedside. Father John of Kronstadt, known as a 
preacher and faith healer, rushed to the Crimea. Resorting to ecstatic 
prayers, religious raptures, and dark exorcisms, the pope wrestled with 
the angel of death for the soul of the Czar. Actually foaming at the 
mouth, he beat his breast and, choked with tears, he raised his distorted 
face to the skies. His inarticulate babbling filled the little Court 
chapel. He grasped the head of the Czar and breathed magical formulas 
in his ear. Mysterious, semi-heathenish peasant-Russia seemed personi- 
fied in this saintly man. His hysterical prayers and transfigured face 
were more in keeping with the dark powers of a Siberian shaman than 
the pious dignity of a Christian cleric. This raving pope was the future 
Czar's first contact with the mystical and magical forces, destined to 
play such a large part in his later life. 

The pope's powers proved as unavailing as the canisters of oxygen 
with which the physicians sought to prolong the Czar's life. Two 
weeks before his death Alexander, with trembling hands, wrote a 
telegram to Alix of Hesse. The future Czarina was to rush to his bedside 
immediately. 

That journey to the country of her fiance assumed all the aspects of 
a nightmare for Alix. The bride-to-be of the Czarevitch was welcomed 
with the macabre sound of ecclesiastical litanies. In the excitement of 
the moment the Master of Ceremonies had forgotten to hold a special 
train ready at the border, and so the future Czarina had to travel 
through the country that was soon to be hers, like any other mortal. 
Through the windows of her compartment she noticed bewilderment 
on the faces of the officials and tears in the eyes of the womenfolk. 
She could not rid herself of the unhappy thought that all Russia had 
donned mourning to greet her. 

Arrived in the Crimea, Alix found herself surrounded by sad and tear- 
stained faces. Only with the greatest exertion was it possible for the 
exhausted Czar to drag his broken body to a chair so that he might 
welcome his future daughter-in-law. 

The incoherent screaming of Father John, his wild and excited 
demeanour, and the whole superstitious atmosphere which suddenly 
surrounded her, left a never-to-be-forgotten impression in the sensitive 
soul of the young Princess. Her fiances confused and awkward 
behaviour shook Alix to the very depths of her being. Five days after 
her arrival she sought to remind him of his position and dignity. " My 
dear boy," she wrote into his diary, "command the physicians to 
report to you first, each day, on the Czar's condition. You are the 
eldest son of your father. You are the one to answer all questions. 
Show your will and never permit others to forget who you are." In 
the shock of imminent death, Nicholas overlooked the pedantic tone 
of these admonitions. 

Alexander III died on the ist of November, 1894, at three o'clock in 
the afternoon, on the terrace of Livadia Castle. Father John of 
Kronstadt remained at his bedside until the last, mumbling pious 





** 
N 



THK JOURNEY OF DEATH 49 

prayers into the Czar's ears. Grandduke Alexander Michailovitch, the 
only one who could describe the death of the monarch in detail, 
reported : 

" It was on the ist of November, 1894, that Niki and I stood on the 
terrace of beautiful Livadia Castle, holding canisters of oxygen in our 
hands. We remained with the Czar to the very last second. His end 
was like his life. As death approached, Alexander, ever scorning 
sonorous phrases and melodramatic effects, merely stammered a short 
prayer and then bade the Empress good-bye. . . . Alexander's death 
definitely decided Russia's fate. Everyone among the relatives, 
courtiers, physicians and servants, surrounding the Czar's death-bed, 
felt that, in him, Russia had lost that pillar which alone could protect 
her from being plunged into an abyss. The heir to the throne felt this 
more than anybody else. At that moment, for the first and last time 
in my life, I saw tears welling in his grey eyes. We embraced and 
cried on one another's shoulders. Niki could not collect his thoughts. 
He knew that he was Emperor now and the great burden of that 
responsibility simply crushed him. ' Sandro, what am I to do ?' he 
pleaded pathetically. ' What is going to become of Russia ? I am not 
yet prepared to be Czar. I don't even know how to talk to the 
ministers.' I tried to calm him. I enumerated all the persons on whom 
he could depend. But in my innermost soul I understood that his 
desperation was only too well founded and that we all faced 
catastrophe." 

Dark clouds obscured the sky over Livadia on the evening of the 
ist of November. During the night following the death of the Czar 
the first of Nicholas's rule a terrible storm raged around the palace. 
The old, wooden edifice shook. With howling winds and roaring waves, 
Nature greeted the new ruler. 

For two weeks stormy weather followed the cortege of Alexander III. 
Wherever the funeral train arrived, in Kiev, Moscow, Tver, St. 
Petersburg, threatening clouds gathered in the heavens. His head bent 
sadly, the young Czar was forced to wade, mile after mile, through 
rain-drenched streets. Thus Nicholas II travelled from obsequies to 
obsequies. 

Even the very hour when the mortal remains of Alexander III were 
interred rain fell in torrents. While the coffin was taken to the fortress 
of SS. Peter and Paul where the dead Czar was to share his last abode 
with imprisoned terrorists heavy fog enveloped the cortege. Presently 
snow flurries filled the air and darkness fell. For four hours the train 
of mourners marched slowly through the wet gloom of the streets of 
St. Petersburg. 

The trip of the youthful Czar and his lovely fiancee was one long and 
solemn funeral procession. For the first time since the mysterious death 
of Alexander I, the body of a Czar was conveyed through the country. 
Crowds congregated at every station. On the faces of the populace 
were contradictory expressions : dutiful joy with which a new Czar 
should be greeted, and the equally dutiful exhibition of mourning which 



50 NICHOLAS II 

was the dead Czar's due. Hand in hand with his young fiancee, 
Nicholas left the coach to attend funeral services at innumerable 
monasteries. 

" We stopped at "Borki and in Charkov where masses were read," 
Nicholas jotted into his diary. " In Moscow," he wrote, " we carried 
the coffin out of the train to the hearse. On the way to the Kremlin, 
we stopped ten times because litanies were to be sung in front of every 
church. The coffin finally was brought to the Cathedral of the 
Archangels. After the funeral services we prayed before the relics of 
the saints in Uspensky Cathedral." 

During the entire painful trip, Alix was at the side of the younp: 
Czar. One day after the death of Alexander III she had been quietly 
baptized, according to the rites of the Orthodox Church, in the ancient 
chapel in Orianda. 1 1 was there, for the first time in her life, the German 
Princess found her Protestant soul steeped in an ocean of Russian 
mysticism. There, too, she was given the name of Alexandra 
Feodorovna. 

Russia received the young Princess with the funeral dirge of the 
Metropolitans, with the stifling smoke of incense, arising from the 
masses of requiem, and with the solemn ceremonial of the interment of 
a czar. Flags at half-mast and the semi-darkness of old churches 
greeted Alix on every side. 

No mundane stage manager could have arranged a sadder prologue 
for the young imperial couple. Hardly four weeks after the death of 
Alexander III, Alexandra Feodorovna walked to the altar in a white 
bridal gown. Her own wedding seemed to her but a continuation of 
those interminable funeral services. 

The wedding ceremony was performed on the 26th of November, 
1894, and on that day the new Czarina discarded mourning. At twelve 
o'clock she entered the Arabian Hall where the young Czar, in the 
uniform of the Hussars, awaited her. With slow step and solemn 
mien the participants in the ceremony approached the chapel. The 
heavy golden crowns were held over the heads of the imperial couple 
by Granddukes Michael, Sergius, and Cyril, and by the Greek Prince 
Gcorgios who, a few years before, had saved the life of the Czarevitch 
in the distant city of Ozu. 

When Alexandra Feodorovna left the church, she was the legitimate 
consort of a ruler of one hundred and sixty million people, comprising 
one-sixth of the entire world, with palaces, estates, and jewels having 
no equal anywhere on earth. The vision which fourteen-year old 
Princess Alix had seen for the first time in the grandeur of a Court ball, 
as she gazed into the grey eyes of Grandduke-Czarevitch Nicholas, 
had matured into fulfilment at last. 

At the threshold of Anitchkov Palace, the newlyweds, according to 
old Russian custom, were received by the Empress-Mother, Maria 
Feodorovna. She had done everything in her power to forestall this 
marriage but to no avail. Now, however, she bowed deeply as she 
presented a platter of salt and bread to the young couple. 



CHAPTER SEVEN 

AT THE THRESHOLD OF THE CENTURY 

" p ^HE Russian Empire is ruled on the basis of indestructible 
I laws, promulgated by a superior, absolute power." 
This eighty-seventh clause in the fundamental law of the 

** Russian Empire was the only unchangeable law of Russia. 
The astute Count Speransky who, under Nicholas I, had worded this 
law, had attached special value to the expression " indestructible laws." 
In this definition he saw the only, self-imposed limitation of imperial 
omnipotence. To be sure, it was the Emperor's privilege to promul- 
gate such laws as he saw fit, but these laws remained " indestructible." 
The Emperor himself had to observe them as long as he did not change 
them. Accordingly, the Russian Empire was not a despotic, but 
rather an autocratic, monarchy, founded on law. 

While in England Gladstone was overthrown by the Parliament 
for the last time ; while Lord Kitchener conquered the Sudan ; while 
William II dreamed of socialistic reforms and dismissed Bismarck ; 
while Felix Faure became President of the French Republic ; and 
while the United States had just celebrated the centenary of its 
constitution and Italy warred on the Ethiopian Empire, Russia was 
governed according to the indestructible principles of that autocratic 
formula. 

The rule of a Czar encompassed 8,660,000 square miles and 
160,000,000 inhabitants. Under this rule, the enormous expanse of 
territory and the innumerable peoples of Russia appeared as one 
united, gigantic power which could conquer everything, achieve every- 
thing, and decide everything in the world. 

The Russian Empire had been at war, almost uninterruptedly, for 
three hundred years. Most of these wars terminated victoriously, and 
the more brilliant the victories of the Czar's army the stronger, the 
mightier, and the more stable this country appeared before other 
nations. " Russia," writes Witte, " is basically a military imperium. 
That alone assures Russia of her position in the eyes of foreign countries. 
It is not because of our culture that we have been granted a leading 
position. Our influence rests exclusively upon the strength of our 

Within the borders of Russia, leading circles were imbued with 
the consciousness of military superiority. Protected by ten million 
bayonets, czardom not only could resist every exterior danger but 
could mould conditions in Europe and Asia as it pleased. 

The power of the Czar, in addition to ruling Russia, maintained and 
nurtured monarchical order and God-imposed autocracy throughout 

51 



52 NICHOLAS II 

the entire world. When the Turkish sultan oldest enemy of the 
Czar was threatened by revolutionaries, Nicholas I did not hesitate to 
place the entire might of his imperial army at the disposal of his 
neighbour, in this way saving the sultan's throne. During the 
Hungarian revolution, the Czar considered it his duty to take a hand 
in rescuing from ruin the realm of Emperor Francis Joseph. Amity 
or enmity, hate or love, were forgotten when necessity demanded that 
the monarchical principle be upheld somewhere in the world. Within 
the boundaries of Russia, the God-imposed fealty to the Czar apparently 
dwelt indelibly in the hearts of his subjects. Simultaneously, at the 
command of the Czar, Russian troops, in the east and west, were 
called upon to preserve monarchical rule. Like a torch, Russia's 
autocracy burned brightly, shining above a chaotic Europe, shaken 
to its very foundation by the parliamentary trend of Western 
monarchies. 

If, contrary to all expectations, the Czar should be assailed by doubts 
as to the stability of his own realm, the governing circles had prepared 
a whole arsenal of arguments to dispense imperial apprehensions. 
Russia was not only the mightiest, but also the greatest empire of the 
world. Embracing one-sixth of the globe, it possessed immeasurable 
riches and was geographically impregnable. The cities of this vast 
country flourished, new railroads criss-crossed the steppes, the national 
wealth increased, and the finances of the realm were in the best 
condition imaginable. 

For centuries indeed, since the days of John Kalitas the country 
had grown in extent and power continually. If, at the beginning of the 
twentieth century, the young Czar had desired to enlarge his immeasur- 
able empire, it would have been a trivial task to conquer China, Tibet, 
Afghanistan, and Persia. General Kuropatkin, the unlucky Field- 
Marshal in the Russo-Japanese War, reports in his memoirs that 
Nicholas II at one time actually considered that possibility. 

Its strong internal power, increasing riches, rising national wealth, 
and geographical situation decided Russia's relations with foreign 
nations. Nicholas II ascended the throne of a much-feared country. 
China and Persia, eastern neighbours of Russia, conducted themselves 
like humble vassals. Even the British Empire, Russia's only important 
rival, for the first time in the course of its proud history, had to climb 
down under the pressure of Alexander III. 

In 1885, when Anglophile Afghans trespassed upon Russian territory, 
they were pursued by Russian troops far into the interior of Afghanistan 
despite Great Britain's protests. The Czar answered all English 
objections by the mobilization of his Baltic squadrons a gesture 
which sufficed to change an incipient war into a peaceful conference. 

In Europe, too, Alexander III left his heir to the throne stable and 
secure conditions. The most outstanding world-historical changes in 
Alexander's foreign politics was his alliance with France, and his 
estrangement from Germany. Since the days of the Napoleonic wars, 
when Alexander I and Frederick William III had met, the Houses of 



AT THE THRESHOLD OF THE CENTURY 53 

Hohenzollern and of Romanov had been united by ties of friendship 
and family. Only after Bismarck concluded an alliance with Russia's 
rival in the Balkans, Austria-Hungary, was this relationship disturbed. 
Subsequently, in 1890, when Germany cancelled her secret reassurance 
treaty with Russia, the bond of friendship between the two dynasties 
was definitely rent. Shortly after Count Shuvalov had been informed 
by Reich-Chancellor Caprivi of Germany's refusal to renew the treaty, 
the world at large was treated to the rare sight of Europe's only 
autocratic monarch fraternizing with Europe's only important republic. 

It was on a foggy morning that a French fleet arrived at the harbour 
of Kronstadt. Alexander III boarded one of the armoured-cruisers. 
His reactionary courtiers thought the world was coming to an end 
when the Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias arose and bared 
his head while listening to the " Marseillaise " the very strains which, 
if intoned by subjects of the same Czar, would exile the transgressors 
to Siberia. During this world-historical scene, the policy of future 
decades was decided invisibly. Russia's alliance with France was to 
be a dependable safeguard against the Triple-Alliance of the Central 
Powers ; it also was to furnish the basis for Germany's later encircle- 
ment. Alexander III knew well enough when to sacrifice his monarch- 
istic principles to political expediency. 

At the time of his ascension to the throne, Nicholas could look into 
the future calmly. No cloud, no shadow darkened the horizon of his 
omnipotence. Yet, beneath the serene surface of Russia, something 
threatening and uncanny seemed to be brewing. For a long time the 
realm of the Czar had been secretly seething with unrest ; a poisoned 
atmosphere hovered over his enormous country. Beginning with the 
death of Peter II in 1730, until Alexander III, not one czar had died a 
natural death. In the memory of the people, there always was some 
bloody intrigue surrounding the demise of each monarch. 

Peter III had been strangled by his wife. Thirty years later, the 
lovers of this woman strangled, in turn, his son ill-fated Paul. 
Alexander, son of Paul, disappeared mysteriously and forever from his 
palace. Poison had put an end to the life of his brother, Nicholas I, 
and his heir, Alexander II, was torn to pieces by the bombs of terrorists. 
The steps leading to the throne of Russian omnipotence were in- 
carnadined and grim spectres hovered amidst the marble magnificence 
of the palaces. It had required rivers of his peoples' blood for Peter the 
Great, as first emperor, to erect the edifice of Russian world power, 
and blood soon became the symbol of its fate. Beneath the apparent 
serenity of Russia, seemingly immersed in mystic slumber, boiled 
a secret revolt that was as demoniacal as it was intangible. 

Since the days of Alexander I, when regiments of Russian Guards 
had been encamped on Paris boulevards, the face of the Empire had 
changed. From that European campaign, the officers of the Guard 
brought back with them as a trophy of victory the spirit of European 
revolution. As a stone that is dropped into water causes ever wider 
circles, so the spirit of the revolution gradually seized upon farther 



54 NICHOLAS II 

strata of the Russian people. Spreading from the palaces of the princes, 
from the estates of the nobles, from the lecture halls of aristocratic 
universities, this unquenchable spirit eventually permeated the entire 
thin layer of urban, semi-bourgeois intelligentsia where it found a firm 
footing. 

On the I4th of December, 1825, the day of the Decembrists' revolu- 
tion, this spirit took possession of the streets of St. Petersburg. Then and 
there began the long row of heroes, criminals, scoundrels, and idealists 
who arose spectrally from out of the fog of St. Petersburg's quarters. 
The ideal of the French Revolution, draped in the barbaric vestment of 
Russian nihilism, inspired the upper class of St. Petersburg's youth. 
However, neither the touching heroism of St. Petersburg's countesses, 
nor the despicable crimes of half-demented nihilists, created any pro- 
found impression on the Russian people. The heroic contempt for 
death displayed by the revolutionaries, and the peasant customs 
they affected in order to establish intimate contact with the masses, 
failed to grip the souls of the Russian people to any marked degree. 
When the nihilists succeeded in assassinating a czar in a public street, 
for the first time in Russian history, the reaction of the peasantry 
was a mysterious silence which neither could be interpreted as sympathy 
for the murdered nor as admiration for his murderers. 

Foreign observers regarded St. Petersburg's revolutionaries as the 
first sign that decline threatened the Empire. To them Russia became 
a colossus with clay feet, eventually destined to be overthrown by the 
power of European revolutionary idealogy. 

Alexander Ill's entire life proved the falsity of this assumption. 
Under the mighty fist of that ruler, revolutionaries disappeared even 
as the devil flees before the sign of the cross. The powerful word of 
an energetic, purposeful man albeit none too wise was sufficient 
to exorcise the demoniacal spook. Foreigners observed, to their 
surprise, that the Russian Empire, whose imminent end they had 
prophesied so confidently, had annihilated its opponents with one 
terrific blow. 

England's evident complaisance, the eager offer of an alliance on the 
part of France, a loan readily placed in Germany these were Europe's 
acknowledgments of the Czar's strong measures. Obviously, all 
conspiracies and murders of the nihilists did not make so much as 
a dent in the top layer of Russia's seething masses. As for the stability 
of the monarchy, revolutionary victories or defeats appeared as incon- 
sequential as the floods along the Neva River for the peasants of the 
Volga lowlands. The only serious danger threatening czardom eventu- 
ally bringing about its decline lay in an entirely different direction. 
That danger was embodied in the Russian peasant. 

The enormous expanse of Russia's plains is Nature's gift to the 
peasant. Agriculture is the sole occupation which this vast land 
permits. Industry and commerce always were condemned to insuf- 
ficient development. Russia's unfortunate geo-political situation rested 
upon the enormous empire like a curse of the Almighty. 



AT THE THRESHOLD OF THE CENTURY 55 

Russia's mighty rivers flow through a majestic expanse, nearly 
devoid of humanity. Their waves billow lazily between wide banks ; 
along their shores, one hears the monotonous sing-song of haulers, 
tugging at tow-ropes. Cattle slake their thirst in the waters of these 
rivers, and the fierce Tatar, armed with bow and arrow, stares, slit- 
eyed across the endless plains through which the rivers roll their 
waters. 

In Europe and Asia, busy merchant vessels travel along the gigantic 
rivers. Towns and villages spring up on their banks. Like a golden 
vein, the river threads its way through the country, distributing 
wealth in its course and, amid peace and prosperity, cities grow ever 
larger. 

In the Volga, Russia possesses the mightiest river in Europe ; 
2300 miles long, it surpasses the Rhine by 1600 miles. The three 
mightiest rivers in Asia, Ob, Yenisei, arid Lena, are each almost as 
long as the Yangtse with its 3100 miles, and none of them ever leaves 
the borders of Russia. 

Yet Russian rivers never developed into important arteries of 
mercantile wealth. The direction of the beds which these bodies of water 
have dug for themselves, since time immemorial, is Russia's misfortune. 
The gigantic. Volga empties into the Caspian Sea, which has no connec- 
tion with the open sea. Ob, Yenisei, and Lena, carry their cold waves 
towards the Arctic Ocean, which is frozen over for three-fourths of 
each year. 

The world's cheapest means of transportation shipping by water 
thus excluded from Russia's economy, the wealth of the country 
lay fallow, and the inhabitants busied themselves with agriculture as 
the only gainful occupation of the plains. When Russia's industrial 
workers numbered 2,900,000, not less than 96,800,000 subjects of the 
Czar were peasants, with 88 per cent of all Russian exports consisting 
of agricultural products. Consequently, the welfare, contentment and 
comfort of the peasant were of infinitely greater importance to 
czardom than the revolutionary speeches of a few hundred students 
and intellectuals in St. Petersburg. 

In past centuries Russia's peasants had been serfs of noble land- 
owners. Alexander II realized their age-old dream for liberation. 
On the 3rd of March, 1861, the Czar promulgated his famous ukase 
which terminated serfage. With this manifesto, thraldom was 
abolished forever within the borders of Russia. 

The peasants, until then property of their masters, naturally 
possessed no land of their own. Therefore, it was incumbent upon that 
Government which had granted them their freedom to provide also 
for the material comfort of the liberated peasants. Official Russia 
formerly had dealt with the nwshiks only through the mediation of the 
noble landowners ; now it faced a new task in helpless embarrassment. 

To be sure, the Czar expropriated, for the peasants' benefit, some of 
the estates owned by the nobles. The distribution of this land, 
however, encountered wellnigh insurmountable obstacles. Since it 



56 NICHOLAS II 

was of utmost importance to define, without delay, the new status 
of the liberated peasantry, necessary reforms had to be enacted with 
lightning-like speed. The lack of suitable governmental agencies, 
officials, and surveyors, made it practically impossible to issue deeds 
of grant to millions of new property owners, distributed over millions 
of square miles. Besides, the police were unable to maintain law and 
order in all those villages which, in the past, had been subject to the 
will of the estate owner exclusively. 

During this chaotic period of reformation the Government besought 
the services of a Prussian official, Baron August von Haxthausen. 
He had travelled throughout Russia extensively and, in his writings, 
had elaborated upon the systems of obshtshina, or mir, which he had 
observed in distant parts of the Empire. According to this system 
acreage was not deeded to an individual peasant, but to whole com- 
munities, thus becoming the common property of all members of the 
municipality. In turn, it devolved upon the communes to redistribute 
this land among the peasants from time to time. Essentially, however, 
the land remained the property of the mir, so that a peasant would 
plough one field to-day and another to-morrow, without ever feeling 
indigenous to any specific piece of ground. The mir also exerted 
police functions. By decision of the communal council, members of 
the community could be punished and even excluded from the common 
property, or restrained from leaving the district. 

On the I4th of December, 1893, Alexander III decreed that all land 
apportioned to the liberated peasants was unsaleable. Moreover, 
communities were to forbid peasants to leave their respective munici- 
palities, unless they could offer extremely pertinent reasons. The 
mushik's liberty was almost as limited as during the days of feudalism. 
On certain occasions the mir would force peasants to remain in their 
huts after ten o'clock at night. Besides, a mushik was allowed to leave 
the community only if he restored to it, without demand for reimburse- 
ment, all his cattle as well as his share in the communal land. 

This strange system half-medieval, half-socialistic arising from 
the awkwardness of the commonwealth, eventually became an integral 
part of Russian world concept. Since the taxes imposed upon the 
peasant's land were very low, with only thirteen copecks for the 
deciatine, to the outsider this system not only seemed practical 
but very humane. Venerable philosophers of Slavophile tendency 
declared the obshtshina to be the agrarian personification of the Russian 
soul. Aksakov and Chomiakov insisted that this system realized the 
unconscious dreams of the mushik. However, the learned socialists 
with Western tendencies regarded communal exploitation of the land 
as the beginning of a socialistic order whose fructifying warmth 
eventually would develop other blossoms on the tree of Russian life. 

The Slavophiles as well as the socialists obviously overlooked the fact 
that, by the very nature of this system, the peasant, formerly the serf 
of a noble landowner, had now been changed into the serf of the com- 
munity and the police. Instead of being subjected to the arbitrary will 



AT THE THRESHOLD OF THE CENTURY 57 

of a single person, the peasant now was subject to the will and whims 
of many. Besides, the land had been apportioned in such small 
parcels that, with an increasing population, confined to a definitely 
limited space, poverty and starvation appeared inevitable. 

At the same time whrn 79 per cent of Russia's agricultural export 
was produced by only seven hundred aristocratic families, spread over 
twenty million deciatines in Central Russia, peasants in these same 
Central Russian provinces starved on their meagre soil. Of course, 
there was no real scarcity of land in this vastest of all countries of the 
world. While in western Europe 70 per cent of available land was 
under tillage, only 4 per cent of the Czar's domain was under the 
plough. Nevertheless, any attempt of the peasants to colonize the 
fertile and depopulated eastern territories was quickly and com- 
pletely thwarted by the landed gentry. The nobles were afraid that 
if the peasants should emigrate to Siberia or Turkestan the subsequent 
shortage of workers would raise wages in Central Russia. 

It was the system of the obshtshina, and the rigid restraint imposed 
on the peasant, which eventually resulted in indescribable impoverish- 
ment among the people. The low purchasing power of the Russian 
masses was best reflected by Russia's trade balance. Although Russia 
had 163 million inhabitants, spread over 8,600,000 square miles, her 
import and export equalled only that of Belgium, which had merely 
7 million people crowded into 11,373 square miles. The average annual 
income of a Russian, in pre-war days, amounted to 53 roubles as com- 
pared to the 233 roubles of a Frenchman, the 273 of a Briton, and the 
345 f an American. In 1910, at the same time that the per capita 
^avings of a Russian was 16 roubles, the Frenchman had put by 
96 roubles, the Englishman 106, and the German 143. 

Despite the fact that the budget of the Empire rose incessantly 
finally reaching high into the billions -per capita credit for the 
Russian peasant, in 1905, amounted only to five copecks. During the 
same period, agricultural credits in France amounted to 28 roubles, 
in Germany to 35, and in America to as high as 60 roubles per head. 
Naturally, the low purchasing power of the populace, combined with 
the lowest taxes in all the world, necessitated a steady rise of national 
loans. At the time when the per capita debt burden amounted to a mere 
five copecks in the United States, every Russian was indebted to the 
extent of 2-8 roubles. True enough, the finances of Russia were in 
good order, making punctual amortization of the debt possible. Never- 
theless, the very fact that enormous debts had to be contracted in 
foreign countries furnished striking evidence of the surprising lack 
of capital in Russia's internal money markets. 

The low income of the population cannot be more drastically 
illustrated than by the fact that a deciatine of timberland in Siberia 
yielded a profit of only one copeck, while the same deciatine brought 
29 roubles in Germany and 36 in France. 

Aiter the railroads had been developed, the enormous natural riches 
of Russia demanded an ever-increasing expansion of her economics, 



58 NICHOLAS II 

especially as the abolition of serfdom had transformed Russia into 
a private-capitalistic country. Towards the end of the reign of 
Alexander III, corporative enterprises in Russia had reached fifteen 
hundred in number, boasting a capital of three and a half billion 
gold roubles. In general, however, intensive industrial development 
remained limited because it was founded on the system of the barbaric, 
feudal-socialistic obshtshina under which the masses of the people 
remained poverty-stricken. 

The key that would open the gate of Russian wealth and, at the same 
time, the door to political security, was the solution of the peasant 
question : the successful metamorphosis of millions of pauperized 
serfs of a communal collectivism into comfortable, loyal landowners. 
For fully thirty-five years, Russian peasantry awaited the magic word 
of the Czar which would abolish the mir. The peasants had served their 
monarchs with devoted fealty for more than a thousand years. They 
had conquered one-sixth of the entire globe for their czars. The 
hundreds of foreign nations that had been subjected to Russia's will 
ultimately constituted 40 per cent of the Russian populace. In the 
service of their czars, the peasants had built cities and erected palaces, 
paid taxes and shed their blood in innumerable wars. 

In the course of centuries, czardom, recognizing the usefulness of 
its subjects, evinced marked solicitude for the weal of the peasant. 
Vassili III liberated the peasants from the Tataric yoke ; Ivan IV 
gave the provinces antonomous government, and Alexander 1 1 abolished 
serfage. The stern ukases of Alexander III, however, changed the 
peasantry into children once more unable to exert their own will. 
Moreover, these children were no longer provided for by their parents, 
but, on the contrary, had to support their elders. 

The peasants endured this status for thirty-five years and the longer 
they waited the more threatening became their silence. Their sullen 
resentment was not directed against czardom so much as against a 
stupid, temporary expedient, raised to a world conception for no 
other reason than that it had been the easiest thing to do. Those of 
clear political vision could not fail to interpret from unmistakable 
albeit hardly noticeable signs that behind this silence, pregnant with 
meaning, lurked fearful developments. 

When Grandduke Vladimir travelled through the Volga region 
during the 'eighties of the last century, a significant incident had 
occurred. In Samara a hundred-year-old peasant woman was brought 
before him. The centenarian, for whom there was no difference 
between a grandduke and the Czar himself, knelt at the feet of Vladimir, 
covered his shoes with kisses, and cried in exultation. 

" Why are you crying, little mother ? " the Grandduke asked. 

" What else should I do ? " sobbed the old woman. " This is the 
second time now that God has permitted me to look upon a czar." 

" Who, pray, was the first one ? " 

41 Our Little Father, our benefactor, the mighty Pugatshov." 

Vladimir, who had wisdom and understanding, immediately perceived 



AT THE THRESHOLD OF THE CENTURY 59 

the deep implication in the old woman's statement. He knew 
that the peasants along the Volga looked upon the bandit leader 
Pugatshov as upon a genuine czar. It had been Pugatshov who had 
promised to distribute land among the peasants and, eventually, he 
had paid for it with his life. Because of Vladimir's genuine interest 
in the solution of the peasant problem, it remained the topic of general 
discussion in the salons and governmental offices of the capital 
throughout the reign of Nicholas II. 

It was the peasants alone, and not the revolutionaries, not the 
foreign countries, not the industrial workers, nor yet the intellectuals 
who constituted the real danger to czarist rule. For the moment, 
however, the mushik still displayed devout loyalty to Little Father 
Czar, even though he was filled with bitter hatred for his laws. 

The rule of Nicholas II would determine whether the silence of the 
masses would be aroused into jubilant acclaim, or into barbaric and 
brutal revolt. 



CHAPTER EIGHT 

CROSS AND CROWN 

FOR two full years the old Kremlin city had awaited the cele- 
bration of the holy coronation of Nicholas II. Now at last, 
on his twenty-eighth birthday, he arrived in Moscow, wearing 
the simple, dark green coat of a colonel of the Preobrashcnsky 
Guards. A young man with blond hair, closely trimmed, pointed beard, 
a physique at once frail and elegant, and long-lashed eyes of an odd 
shape, the new Czar appeared before the dignitaries representing the 
Church and estates of his realm. They assembled in the reception 
pavilion, adjacent to the railway station, which had been especially 
erected in old-Russian architecture for this great day. 

The old, somnolent Asiatic city suddenly became alive, bedecking 
itself with festive raiment. The polished gold of innumerable bulbous 
church cupolas gleamed 'neath the sun's hot rays ; bright red carpeting 
enlivened the dingy narrow streets and garlands of flowers extended 
from window to window. A multitude, large beyond counting, had 
gathered in front of the reception pavilion. 

As the young Czar mounted his dapple-grey steed at the railway 
depot, sixteen thousand church bells rang out in greeting to the 
young ruler ; louder and clearer than all the other chimes sounded that 
of Ivan Veliky, the ancient giant bell. 

Attended by great ceremony, the Czar rode to the old Petrovsky 
Palace, his face aglow with gracious benevolence. The people of 
Moscow sank to their knees, the resonant measures of the national 
hymn swelling in grand unison. It was the first time the new Czar 
showed himself in festive celebration within the walls of the old city 
scene of the Romanov's rise to glory. 

Ahead of Nicholas II, winding through the narrow streets, stretched 
the ancient road of the czars. Once Ivan the Terrible had travelled 
along here and the long beards of the boyars had swept the dust before 
the hoofs of his horse. His face disfigured with fury, the Great Peter 
had passed these very churches. With his own imperial hands he had 
decapitated the rebellious Strelitzes in old Kremlin Square. Time was 
when blood dripped from the high boots of an enraged czar ; now, 
blood-red carpets were spread for the feet of another ruler, Nicholas II 
Alexandrovitch, the thirteenth of the Romanovs. Before him, in 
abject veneration, bowed the descendants of those Strelitzes, boyars 
and popes who once had erected the old city and studded it with golden 
cupolas in the midst of the icy Russian steppes. 

The people of Moscow observed the grey eyes shining with refulgent 
joy in the calm and somewhat pale face of the Czar, and his slim hands 

60 



CROSS AND CROWN 6l 

as they held the reins of his dapple-grey steed. Looking upon his 
narrow, aristocratic face, an inarticulate, wild love awoke in the multi- 
tude for former, more robust, czars who had been increasers of the 
Empire, protectors, and judges all in one. 

The Czarina, garbed in white, a radiant smile lighting up her serious 
features, resembled, in her blondeness, the old frescoes of which 
Moscow churches abound. 

Slowly the exalted couple threaded their way through the throngs. 
The crowded streets, the very houses and churches, seemed transformed 
into one happy and vibrant living being, paying homage to this 
imperial pair. From the decorated windows of every house, office, and 
store, exultant faces beamed upon their ruler. On this one day Moscow 
forgot the mercantile frugality inherited from its forebears. A business 
concern of medium size whose windows the Czar was to pass, spent 
twenty-five thousand roubles on decorations designed to please the 
imperial eye. A rich merchant paid forty thousand roubles for the 
privilege of gazing upon the Czar from the show window of a 
confectionery. 

The dark clouds, the biting wind, and the downpour of rain which 
greeted the new Czar, proved ineffective in dispersing the swarming 
crowds. Fairly bursting with irrepressible curiosity, the people accom- 
panied the young monarch and his consort to the very gates of the 
palace. 

On the evening of the imperial entry the gilded carriages of the 
guests thronged the square in front of the palace. Courtiers, ministers, 
princes of all the dynasties throughout the world entered the Czar's 
mighty mansion. By nine o'clock that evening no less than eight 
thousand festively gilded coaches were assembled in the vicinity of the 
imperial palace. 

In the great hall of the palace the Czar received the congratulations 
of the world. The church bells had ceased ringing meanwhile, but now 
hundreds of thousands of coloured bulbs and Chinese lanterns illumin- 
ated the darkness of the Kremlin city like so many gleaming gems. 
Broad beams of light flooded the golden cupolas of the churches ; the 
roofs of the houses were steeped in multi-coloured hues. The whole 
city seemed to delight in this blinding, festive illumination. Garlands 
of lights were strung from one house to the next, and their bright 
reflection tinted the drab, threatening Moscow sky. 

While the frail young ruler, standing at the window of his palace, 
gazed upon the sea of lights, flocks of innumerable crows and jackdaws 
blotted the sky like a dark cloud. The bright illumination blinded the 
birds, at the same time attracting them irresistibly. Like vultures 
pouncing upon carrion, the crows and jackdaws swooped down upon 
the gay, glittering bulbs strung along the roofs of Moscow. In the 
dazzling glare of the multi-coloured rays they resembled, with their 
widespread dark wings and their sharp, greedy beaks, apocalyptic 
messengers of the nether world, dispatched to disturb the celebration 
of the Orthodox Czar. 



62 NICHOLAS II 

Presently the clatter of broken glass was heard. The sharp beaks of 
the birds were severing electric wires on the roofs. With frightened, 
blanched faces the multitude gazed upon the havoc wrought by these 
marauding birds. One after another the coloured lights flickered out 
and, even as the inhabitants of Moscow mumbled words of apprehension 
in one another's ears, the dark birds disappeared into the gloomy sky 
hanging heavily over the city. 

On the morrow, when the first rays of the sun reddened the leaden 
sky, and as the chimes of the church bells reverberated throughout the 
city, a corps of agile workers mounted the roofs of Moscow. By nine 
o'clock, when the Czar left the palace and seventy-one shots were fired 
to announce his coming, the last traces of the nocturnal visit had been 
removed. 

In the Kremlin, on the broad threshold of the Alexander Palace, the 
representatives of the guilds bowed before the Czar. On heavy silver 
platters, they presented bread and salt to their ruler. With his soft, 
slender fingers, Nicholas touched the symbolic gifts. Surrounded by 
granddukes and dignitaries, he entered the Alexander Palace. The 
empty, forbidding rooms exuded the spirit of past centuries. 

In the great hall venerable courtiers spread out the enormous flag 
of the Empire. It covered half the hall and was adorned with heraldic 
beasts, griffins, lions and eagles. Armorial bearings of different parts 
of the Empire pictured the achievements of czars long since dead. 
There was the double-headed eagle which, once upon a time, Sophie 
Paleolog had brought to Vassili III as her only dowry from Byzantium. 
A small boat topped with a crown in a blue field told of the bold cossack 
chieftain, Yermak, who once had laid the whole of Siberia at the feet 
of the cruel Ivan. The white and red escutcheon next to it signified the 
rebellious hetman, Bogdan Chmielnicki, who had humbly placed in the 
hands of Czar Alexius the Ukraine together with the host of the cossacks. 
As the number of the czars increased, so grew the number of the 
escutcheons and heraldic beasts in the great flag of the Empire. 

Mutely Nicholas II stared at the symbols of his glorious forebears. 
Next to the coat of arms of the Ukraine, he saw the pious Byzantine 
cross above the Asiatic crescent. This cross had been erected by the 
brilliant Prince Potemkin when he presented the sun-drenched Crimea 
to the beautiful Catherine as a gift of love. Beside the cross, astride a 
foam-covered steed, lance in hand, rode Holy George, the dragon- 
slaying patron-saint of Georgia. It was Alexander I, victor over 
Napoleon, who had extended his protecting hand over the land of the 
dragon-slayer. 

The eyes of the Czar widened. In the rustling of the old flag he sensed 
the heart-beat of his Empire. The many czars, who in the course of 
time had assembled these symbols, now seemed to look down upon the 
heir expectantly from the walls of the hall. 

Nicholas touched the flagstaff. In loud, calm and serious accents, he 
pronounced the oath of the czars : " Immaculately, I receive this flag, 
and immaculately I shall pass it on to my heirs." With the courtiers 



CROSS AND CROWN 63 

folding the flag, the first act of the ceremony had come to an 
end. 

Czar and Czarina spent six days in prayer and pious contemplation 
in the old palace of the czars. The Czar went from cathedral to 
cathedral in ecclesiastical processions. In the mystic gloom of the 
churches he kissed the remains of saints and the coffins of his forebears. 
The great square, between the campanile of Ivan Veliky and the 
cathedral of the Archangel Michael, overflowed with guests. Church 
choirs sang in the Kremlin. 

Only towards evening Czar and Czarina found a few moments for 
themselves. But even then their time was encroached upon by 
preparations for the coronation. While the crown of the Czar was an 
heirloom of the House of the Romanovs, a new tiara had to be fashioned 
for each Czarina. The finest jewellers in St. Petersburg worked nine 
full months on this headdress. Diamonds, two thousand in number, 
arid each absolutely flawless, were set into the gold of the crown. The 
Czarina herself looked upon the ornament with superstitious dread. 
She feared her soft hair would be unable to carry such a heavy burden, 
and was apprehensive lest the precious crown tumble from her head 
an ill-omen indeed ! 

Although the Czarina's fears were unrealized that day, the date for 
the coronation proved an unfortunate choice. The Court chamberlains, 
the high dignitaries of the Church, the masters of ceremonies, and the 
Metropolitan had set the coronation of the monarch for the seventh day 
after his birthday, not realizing that it would fall on the I3th of 
the month, according to the Russian calendar. Since the day of the 
coronation had been decided months in advance, it could not be 
postponed. In St. Petersburg, in Moscow, in the distant monasteries 
of Siberia, and on the doorsills of little village churches, superstitious 
people commented in awesome whispers that the thirteenth of the 
Romanovs was to place the crown of the Empire on his head on the 
i3th day of the month. 

Nicholas himself did not ponder on the coincident. The day on 
which he, according to the old words of the Church, was to be anointed 
"Bishop of All Things Secular" surely could not be anything but 
fortuitous for him ! 

Early that day the whole city resounded with the magnificent 
carilion of the bells of Uspensky Cathedral. At eight o'clock in the 
morning the participants in the coronation procession assembled in 
the impressive edifice. Sombre candlelight shone upon the precious 
stones covering entire walls of the cathedral. A heavy purple canopy 
was spread over the throne. Granddukes, attired in the full regalia 
of the Order of St. Andrew, surrounded the brocade-covered rostrum on 
which the Czar was to receive the crown. The strict ritual of the 
Byzantine coronation, laid down fifteen hundred years before in the 
Book Epinagog, unfolded in all its gorgeous splendour. 

At a quarter to ten heralds announced the approach of the imperial 
couple. While the walls of the cathedral reverberated with the pious 



64 NICHOLAS II 

chant of the church choir, the oldest dignitaries of the realm slowly 
marched into the edifice, carrying the insignia of the Empire. On a 
velvet cushion rested the great imperial crown. Resembling a mound of 
myrtle, fashioned from gems, the court jeweller of Catherine the Great 
had wrought it in the year 1762. The Byzantine cross of the crown 
consisted of five enormous diamonds, held together by an unpolished 
ruby. The head-band of the crown boasted twenty of the largest 
diamonds in the world, while eleven big diamonds supported the cross ; 
each of the four circlets on cither side of the crown was embellished 
with thirty-eight roseate pearls. A second dignitary carried the imperial 
tiara dating back to Alexander I followed by others bearing the 
jewelled insignia of the realm. On the velvet cushions they bore 
gleamed the sword of the Empire, the orb of the Empire, the imperial 
cloak, the golden sceptre, and the chain of the Order of the Holy 
Apostle Andrew. 

Behind the sparkling sea of precious stones appeared the Czar, 
frail and wan, garbed in the simple, unadorned coat of a colonel, the 
only order gleaming on his chest being that of sainted Prince Alexander 
Nevsky. As the Czar slowly approached the canopy the audience stood 
stiffly at attention. To the right of the canopy, on a dainty, finely 
carved throne dating back to the days of Czar Alexius Michailovitch, 
the Empress-Mother was ensconced. She leaned against the back- 
rest which was flanked by two carved Byzantine angels, while the 
hassock on which her feet rested was supported by four wooden 
elephants. Pale of face and immovable, she seemed more like a statue 
than a human being. 

Accompanied by a throng of venerable hierarchs, Czar and Czarina 
ascended the fifteen steps to the throne. The ringing of the bells and 
the chant of the choir subsided, and the festive mysterium of the corona- 
tion began in the ancient cathedral illuminated by the eerie light of tall 
candles. 

Standing beneath the heavy purple canopy, the Czar now became 
part of the super-mundane glamour of the church. With his wrinkled 
old hands, the Metropolitan of St. Petersburg unfolded the text of 
the imperial oath before the Czar. In a clear and loud voice, Nicholas 
repeated the old Slavonic phrases. He swore to preserve the principles 
of Orthodox faith and imperial autocracy and to be alone responsible 
to God for the fate of people and country. 

The words of the Czar fell like so many priceless gems from his lips ; 
the words of the Metropolitan resounded in the solemn quiet of the 
cathedral as he affirmed the imperial oath with the benediction : 
" The blessings of the Holy Ghost be with Thou. Amen." 

Presently, the two oldest Metropolitans of Russia approached the 
monarch and wrapped his frail figure in the imperial cloak of purple. 
Next, Nicholas lifted the great crown from its cushion and himself 
placed it upon his head as a symbol that he did not receive the crown 
through the mediating hand of the Church, but directly from God. 

The sceptre in his right hand and the orb of the Empire in his left, 




THK I>0\\ \<;KI< KMI'KKSS. M\KI.\ l-'Ki )|)i >H< >VX.\ 



CROSS AND CROWN 65 

the Czar then ascended the throne. As soon as he was ensconced, the 
Czarina slowly approached him. She knelt before him, crossing herself 
fervently. Enthroned, the Czar removed the crown from his head 
and for a moment touched the Czarina's brow with it, thus denoting 
that the Czarina's prerogatives came neither from God nor from the 
Church ; they were derived solely from the grace of the porphyrogenite 
he who was born to the purple. 

Now Czar and Czarina sat enthroned. Before them appeared the 
gold cloaked figure of the Protodeacon. His loud, deep voice ringing to 
the rhythm of ecclesiastical chant, he read the entire imperial title, and 
each syllable of each word of the great name resounded like festive 
chimes issuing from the tower of czarist omnipotence. 

The voice of the Protodeacon ceased. The Czar arose. Before him 
the doors of the Holy of Holies were opened. He entered. In the 
semi-darkness of the sanctuary the Czar was endowed with the miracle 
of anointment. To the accompaniment of mystical prayers, the 
Metropolitan touched the brow, eyes, nose, mouth, chest, and hands 
of the Czar with a golden wand which he first had dipped into myrrh. 
Then the ruler reached for the sacramental wafer with his own hand, 
manifesting that he, the Anointed One, was also the Supreme Head of 
the Church. Next the Metropolitan touched the brow of the Czarina 
with his golden wand and the Czar placed the diamond tiara upon the 
head of his consort. 

Thus the ceremonial rites came to an end. The bells of the cathedral 
announced to the city that the crown of the Romanovs once more 
rested upon the head of an anointed monarch. 

Nicholas II left the cathedral and mounted his steed to ride through 
the streets, lined with people from all the regions of his far-flung realm. 
There were slant-eyed Kirghizes ; Tckines, in multi-coloured, flowing 
garments ; slender and elegant Georgians ; Samoyedes, Poles, Tatars, 
and long-bearded, dignified mushiks ; village magistrates and church- 
deacons from the provinces. One and all exultantly gazed upon their 
newly crowned ruler. 

The procession paused before every old church in the Kremlin 
Each chapel, each basilica was entitled to the honour of the imperial 
visit. The long prayers seemed to tire the Czar. He looked pale and 
distraught when he entered the small Basilica of the Archangels. While 
the priest chanted the prayers, the Czar recalled how, two years ago 
the body of his father Alexander III had lain in state in the same 
edifice. That time, too, the small room had been filled with incense and 
a multitude also had assembled before the portal. Present and past 
suddenly merged into one. The festive procession changed into a 
funeral cortlge The prayers of thanks sounded strangely like litanies 
tor the departed. The Czar swayed. Instinctively his right hand gripped 
for support and, with a metallic echo, the golden sceptre fell to the 
ground. Ihe white face of the Czar grew still paler. Solicitous 
courtiers sprang forward and handed the sceptre back to him. Wheeling 
around, Nicholas II hurriedly left the basilica. With the exception of 



66 NICHOLAS II 

the courtiers standing nearby, nobody had observed the incident. But 
those who had witnessed it looked at each other in alarm and 
tremblingly whispered: "He was born on the day of the sufferer 
Job." 

In the Red Square before the palace of the czars three hundred 
thousand humans representing more than a hundred peoples of his 
realm stood waiting. They had assembled as early as four o'clock in 
the morning. Fully eleven hours these three hundred thousand had 
waited for a glimpse of their Czar. The sun beat down upon them ; a 
heavy cloud of dust hung over the square. Dull and speechless, the 
multitude waited. The mushiks were imbued with the belief that every 
pain, every worry, every sickness would disappear if, on the day of 
coronation, they could catch just one glance of Him whom God had 
blessed. On that day, Czar and God merged into a Holy Oneness. 
For long hours the patient mtishiks waited to partake of that blessing 
of a living godhead. 

It was not before three o'clock that the procession arrived at the 
Kremlin gate. Heralds, popes, granddukes, ambassadors from every 
corner of the world, and women bedecked with gold and diamonds, 
passed by. The solitary figure of the new ruler, in simple uniform, 
appeared on horseback before the dense throng. In humble wonder- 
ment they sank to their knees. The C'&T dismounted. Together with 
the Czarina he strode across the threshold of the palace. There he 
halted, turned around, and bowed deeply before the subjects of his 
realm, three times touching the ground with his hand. The next 
moment the magic picture had vanished before the staring eyes of the 
multitude. 

In all the churches throughout the country thanksgiving services 
were held. On this day of the coronation dancing and jubilation took 
place everywhere, with the whole country steeped in official celebration. 
Even allied France declared the day of the Czar's coronation a school 
holiday. 

Upon the evening of the same day Czar and Czarina opened a Court 
ball. And as the imperial couple glided across the marble floor of the 
palace, flunkeys distributed ten thousand meals among the waiting 
people in the courtyard. In the name of the Czar, each received a 
half-pound of meat, a pound of bread, sausages, preserves and a bottle 
of beer. During the entire night the guests danced in the palace, and 
the people danced in the streets. 

The programme of festive events ushered in that evening was to 
come to its culmination on the i6th of May, the third day after the 
coronation. On that day the people were to receive presents from the 
Czar on Chodinsky Field near Moscow. Later the celebrated musical 
director, Safonov, was to conduct a festival cantata in the presence 
of the Czar. On the preceding night veritable pyramids of tin cups 
were erected on the field, each bearing the Czar's eagle ; bags of cake 
and bread were heaped high. The distribution of all these gifts had 
been set for early the following morning. 



CROSS AND CROWN 67 

In the years before the coronation, Chodinsky Field had served as 
a drill ground for a sapper battalion. For this reason, the ground was 
honeycombed with trenches. However, Governor-General of Moscow, 
Grandduke Sergius, uncle of the Czar, did not deem it necessary to fill 
in the deep ditches ; they merely were covered with wooden planks, a 
procedure which seemed sufficient to him to assure the safety of the 
people. 

A torrid humidity hung over Moscow on the i6th of May. It was so 
oppressive as to be wellnigh unbearable. Nevertheless, even in the 
early hours of the morning all entrances to Chodinsky Field were 
jammed. In dull silence, five hundred thousand mushiks gathered 
together on the drill ground. In the distance the first rays of the 
rising sun crept over the pyramids of imperial tin cups. A pregnant, 
mystic calm hovered over the field. The half-million people breathed 
as one enormous, powerful animal. The atmosphere of the field became 
heavy with the effluvium of thousands of human beings. The sticky, 
stifling air bore down upon the multitude oppressively. Women, 
children, and mushiks remained motionless like so many black clods of 
Russian soil. 

The air grew heavier and heavier. Nothing stirred. Slowly and 
invisibly, a poisonous cloud seemed to descend upon the people, enter 
their lungs, and throw the weaker of them to the ground. Women 
swooned ; children screamed. Suddenly there awakened in the dull, 
animal-like throng the primordial instinct of their forefathers. Wholly 
unaware of the part they were playing, five hundred thousand mushiks 
as if driven by Fate recapitulated on Chodinsky Field, in one short 
moment, the entire, century-old history of Russia. 

Apparently for no reason whatsoever their patient slave-like suffer- 
ing and waiting suddenly gave way to bestial and brutal tumult. With 
innate fatalism the unruly masses flung themselves in a chasm, reck- 
lessly plunging into the very jaws of death so that those coming after 
them could advance over their dead bodies towards the beckoning 
goal : the shiny tin cups, bearing the imperial eagle. 

At that very moment, when the maddened multitude broke through 
the thin cordon of police, the history of untold millions of mushiks 
the history of the whole of Russia, indeed ! the tragic fate of the 
last of the Czars himself, was symbolically depicted. Throwing to the 
ground the police captain who shouted warningly and pointed to 
the open ditches, the mass of humanity rolled across the field like an 
enormous avalanche. 

Maimed and mangled bodies filled the trenches. People tumbled 
upon one another, shrieking and groaning in helpless despair. The 
heavy boots of the mushiks crushed the limbs of those who had 
stumbled. From the depth of the trenches arose the agonized cries 
of the injured. The pyramids of tin cups tumbled. In a violent 
paroxysm people fought for the glittering souvenirs, for the bags 
of cake and bread, only to fall into the ditches and be stamped into 
their own graves by the heedless mob. No police force in the world 



68 NICHOLAS II 

could have resisted the wild onrush of five hundred thousand raving 
mushiks. 

When the screaming, howling, babbling multitude had cleared the 
field around nine o'clock, the trenches of Chodinsky Field were filled 
with five thousand corpses, disfigured beyond identification. Nobody 
knew how the catastrophe had started. Nobody could explain how this 
horde of seemingly dull, long-suffering animals suddenly had changed 
into so many wild beasts who, stirred by an inexplicable urge, had 
rushed headlong into disaster. 

At one o'clock, musicians in deadly pallor assembled on the 
field. While wagons carted away the last of the dead through side 
streets, Safonov stood waiting, baton in hand. At three o'clock, the 
Czar, obviously distraught, appeared in the pavilion. He was sur- 
rounded by granddukes and ambassadors. Expectant glances were 
directed at the young monarch. With trembling hand Nicholas II 
signaled for the music to begin. Over the field of slaughter, still damp 
from an orgy of death, floated the festive measures of the cantata. 

On the afternoon of that bloody day, the Czar announced that the 
kin of each one who had perished would receive one thousand roubles 
from his private exchequer. 

When the news spread all the granddukes in Moscow hastened to 
the Czar's palace. Shaken by the trag ; c events of the day, the younger 
members of the House of Romanov demanded that all festivities be 
cancelled immediately, that the Czar decree public mourning, and that 
Grandduke Sergius, Governor of Moscow, be dismissed. The older 
granddukes considered these demands exaggerated. What had 
happened appeared to them just an unavoidable accident which should 
not be permitted to interrupt the holy ceremonies. It seemed especially 
unreasonable to them that Grandduke Sergius should be dismissed 
because! by such a punitive measure, the entire ruling house would be 
publicly criticized. 

The frail Czar listened to the speeches of his relatives silently. His 
soul was burdened with the blood of five thousand of his subjects. 
Only three days previously he had solemnly sworn to assume respon- 
sibility before God for everything that occurred within the borders 
of his realm. Now, he was depressed by the thoughts that what 
.should have been the most festive day of his entire life had been 
turned into a day of deep mourning, and that in exiling the favourite 
brother of his father he would bring shame upon the dynastic honour. 
Ever since childhood he had regarded his robust uncles with reverence 
and respect. Directly after his coronation the young Czar found it 
impossible to change from an obedient nephew into an autocratic 
ruler. 

Absent-mindedly he listened to the words of the young grandduke 
Nicholai Michailovitch, the most liberal and learned of the House of 
Romanov. His voice trembling with excitement, the young man 
exorcized the spirits of the French kings and their brilliant ffites. 

" Remember, Niki," the Grandduke concluded, " that the blood of 



CROSS AND CROWN 69 

these five thousand men, women, arid children, will remain an eternal 
blot of shame on your rule. Be careful to prevent your enemies from 
saying that the young Czar danced while the most loyal of his subjects 
were carted to the charnel house." 

The face of the monarch darkened and ho left the room silently. 
The festivities, however, were not cancelled. 

On the evening of that dreadful day, a gala ball was given by the 
French ambassador, Count Montebello. Czar and Czarina had accepted 
the invitation. At nine o'clock, the hall was crowded with troubled 
diplomats and courtiers. An air of deep depression prevailed despite 
the lovely melodies, issuing from the orchestra ; indeed, they seemed 
like a dirge. The guests moved through the hall like ghosts. It 
appalled them to look upon the smiling face of Granddukc Sergius. 

At the scheduled hour the doors of the ballroom opened. Czar 
and Czarina entered, the face of the monarch reflecting his unhappincss. 
The leader of the orchestra signalled arid the measures of the quadrille 
filled the hall. The Czar danced the first figure with the Countess, the 
Czarina with the Count Montebello. As the Czar placed his arm about 
the Countess the four young gnmddukes Nicholas, Michael, George, 
and Alexander left the ballroom in a gesture of protest. 

In a far corner of the ballroom stood a pot-bellied old man in 
flowing silk garments. He had a thin, drooping moustache, a yellow 
complexion, and small, wise, oblique eyes. He was His Excellency 
Li-Chun-Tshan, Minister and Ambassador-Extraordinary of thd 
Emperor of China. Beside him stood the Czar's Minister of Finance, 
Sergius Julievitch Witte. The almond-shaped eyes of the Chinese 
were glued, with intense curiosity, on the person of the Czar. 

" Your statesmen are inexperienced," the Chinese ambassador 
commented to the Russian minister. " Now, when I was Governor 
of Pe-Tshi-Li province, the plague swept my territory and people died 
by the ten thousands. However, I wrote to the Emperor that every- 
thing in my province was in the best of order. Once, when the 
Emperor inquired whether there was any sickness in my province, I 
replied that in my territory there was no disease, and that the populace 
permanently enjoyed the best of health. Tell me, Mr. Minister, why 
should I worry my Emperor ? ' ' And the protruding belly of the Chinese 
shook with half-suppressed chuckles. 

The Russian remained silent. 

Even as the Czar danced and five thousand corpses were dragged to 
the charnel house, and as Grandduke Sergius, smiling affably, strode 
through the ballroom, the news of the bloody festival at Moscow spread 
throughout the width and breadth of the land. 

Aristocrats, officers, bureaucrats, popes and mushiks were harrowed 
by the same cankerous thought : The unlucky Czar ! 

The unlucky Czar ! 



CHAPTER NINE 

THE CIRCLE NARROWS 

THE burdens of his reign weighed upon Nicholas as God's 
punishment upon suffering Job. 
With the same resignation with which his father had isolated 
himself in the gloomy Gatshina Castle, Nicholas, from the 
day Alexander III died, renounced all the pleasures Russia could offer 
a young Czar. Visits to officers' casinos, yachting on the smooth 
waters of the Gulf of Finland, solitary walks, and attendance at 
theatres became ever less frequent. 

Like his mighty father and other Romanovs, Nicholas was deeply 
imbued with the sacred solemnity of his imperial office. Unlike his 
forebears, however, he lacked the monarchical interest in administra- 
tive problems and that joyous intoxication springing from imperial 
omnipotence. To Nicholas his reign was a God-imposed task, and the 
eighteen hours which he conscientiously spent at his desk every day 
appeared to him merely as a sacrificial duty on the altar of his forebears. 
" I never go to bed until the last piece of paper has disappeared from 
my desk," he remarked once to a circle of intimates, and frequently the 
complaint appears in his diary: "Again and again, these ministers 
with their reports." 

Oppressed by the solemn oath of a monarch, Nicholas II longed for 
the tranquillity of a simple landowner. It was not his love for power 
itself, but rather the consciousness that this power was decreed by 
God which, throughout his life, prevented the pious ruler from 
entrusting to others even a small fraction of his authority. 

The official symbol of the Czar's life was a small, paper-strewn 
desk near the right window of his study in Czarskoje Selo. Supplica- 
tions, petitions, reports, suggestions and denunciations from all parts 
of the country were heaped upon this desk daily. The strict rules of 
absolutism made it incumbent upon the Czar to read everything 
himself, and to sign all papers with his own hand. A splendid memory, 
inherited from his forebears, enabled Nicholas II to wade through the 
chaos with remarkable ease. 

Constantly in contact with the different branches of the administra- 
tion, Nicholas collected comprehensive information on the most 
divergent topics. Nevertheless, the precious gift of synthesis was 
withheld from him. The facts he collected never were sublimated into 
knowledge. Although, on the one hand, the ministers admired the 
Czar's ready grasp of things, on the other hand they were greatly 
annoyed by his predilection for small and unessential details. In his 
reign, as in his life, Nicholas was a miniaturist. In the same way in 

70 



THE CIRCLE NARROWS 7 1 

which the contrast between facts and knowledge remained a closed 
book to the Czar, so the difference between administration and govern- 
ment remained obscure to him. 

The innumerable orders which found their way from the Czar's 
desk into governmental offices usually referred to individual questions 
of administration. Of course, the autocrat of the Eurasian continent 
could only indicate principles of administration, and then merely in a 
general way. The execution of the all-highest instructions, the actual 
administration, had to be left to ministers, governors and officials. 

In Nicholas's eyes the Eurasian continent assumed the aspects of a 
patrimonial estate where the lord of the manor must decide every 
question himself. The ruler of the largest impcrium in the world was 
resolved to govern his immeasurable realm by applying the same 
principles with which the old Muscovite granddukes had administrated 
their small country. 

Nicholas fought a hard, bitter, and hopeless battle for the administra- 
tion of his patrimonial heritage. All measures decided upon by his 
ministers, even those that had been formulated according to his own 
instructions, struck Nicholas as forbidden interference with monarchic 
prerogatives. Nevertheless, he lacked that firm tone, that natural 
commanding manner with which the old c/ars had pronounced their 
decisions, no matter how irrational at times. Paul I did not blush or 
stammer when he prohibited his subjects to wear vests or to pronounce 
the word " representative. 1 ' And according to rumour, Nicholas I, in 
all calmness, once ordered that a widow "be considered a virgin." 
Nicholas II, however, suffered severe scruples about dismissing a 
minister who had incurred disfavour. Whenever the Czar decided that 
a minister was to be removed from his post he would receive him in 
audience with warm, friendly glances, discussing in detail with the 
marked man measures which were to be carried out in the course of the 
future. Nicholas would agree to all suggestions and would even set 
the date for the next visit of the minister. Then, as soon as the minister 
returned to his office, he would find a letter from the Czar, couched in 
most gracious language, advising him of his dismissal. 

The thin lips of the Czar rarely formed the word " No." But just as 
he lacked the will to contradict his ministers energetically, so did it 
prove impossible to win the Czar over to some measure which he could 
not whole-heartedly approve. His innate courtesy and reticence pre- 
vented him from propounding his will openly ; yet the Byzantine 
shrewdness with which he dexterously eluded his advisors served to 
hide a stubborn streak. 

Only once in his life, on the soth of October, 1905 the day the 
constitution was promulgated did a minister and a grandduke succeed 
in forcing the Czar into acquiescence. To be sure, both were soon to 
feel the unmitigated severity of imperial disfavour, since Nicholas never 
forgot humiliations. 

That disconcerting, habitual politeness of the Czar and his obvious 
inability to display a steely will in all frankness, often were interpreted 



72 NICHOLAS II 

as insincerity, trickery, and Byzantinism. However, the Czar's attitude 
was primarily an expression of deep distrust of all uniformed ministers, 
officials, and dignitaries, who interposed themselves between monarch 
and people like a wall. 

Deep down in Nicholas's soul there burned a fierce desire to go over 
the heads of his officials and deal directly with the people, who looked 
upon him as if he were a veritable god. He longed to hear of their 
tribulations from the very lips of his subjects, and not through the 
mouths of old, pedantic ministers. The Czar's confidence in men was 
enhanced in inverted ratio to the number of their medals, dignities and 
titles. The less known a man was, the less able to foist his will upon the 
Czar, the more readily Nicholas II would discuss questions of govern- 
ment with him. Intuitively he felt that it was not the opinion of his 
ministers, but rather the uncouth speeches of common folk that yielded 
those truths which heavenly providence had chosen him to ascertain. 

The isolated life of the Czar and the guards who watched every door 
of his palaces, offered insurmountable obstacles to this urge. The 
number of personal acquaintances of the monarch was very limited. 
His relation to the world in general was official and cold. Only by 
a happy stroke of fortune would the name of a simple mortal occasion- 
ally reach the car of the ruler. Usually, these messengers from a 
freer world enjoyed the Czar's confidence to a much larger extent than 
responsible ministers, officials and dignitaries whom he himself had 
put in office. 

Even during the first years of his rule the backstairs of his palaces 
would reveal strange and adventurous figures from time to time. 
In the darkness of night the shadow of some humdrum townsman or 
mushik would slink past a guard. Led by a silent courtier to the Czar's 
room, the secret visitor would offer his simple wisdom to the ruler of 
the mighty realm. First in the long line of secret advisers was a certain 
Klopov, a small landowner of Central Russia. His activities were the 
initial link in that long chain of odd events which eventually found a 
bloody finale in Rasputin's fantastic role. 

The unimportant landowner Klopov, a kindly fanatic, had been 
brought to the palace by a grandduke in 1897. Every injustice that 
came to Klopov's knowledge worked havoc on his sensitive soul. Life 
seemed to him a valley of tears and he regarded the monarch as a God- 
sent messenger, chosen to alleviate the sufferings of each single subject. 

When Nicholas I introduced his much-feared secret police he decreed 
that a handkerchief was to be worn visibly with the uniform. This 
handkerchief was meant to symbolize that it devolved upon these 
sleuths to dry the tears of widows and orphans. It was Klopov's 
ambition to become imperial tear-drier to Nicholas II. In order to 
restore justice in his vast realm, Nicholas gave Klopov three hundred 
roubles and a handwritten order in which all Russian authorities were 
enjoined to do everything Klopov demanded of them. 

Like another Haroun-al-Raschid, Klopov travelled all over Russia, 
drying the tears of widows and liberating prisoners. By his presenta- 



THE CIRCLE NARROWS 73 

tion of the imperial order, laws were arbitrarily suspended in favour of 
those whom Klopov considered maltreated. The confusion that 
resulted was indescribable. For weeks Klopov annulled prison terms, 
granted pensions and, in general, brought succour to the Czar's subjects, 
until the ministers finally succeeded in inducing Nicholas to revoke the 
prerogatives he had granted to the misguided idealist. 

The basic principle that animated the Czar that restless search for 
direct contact with his people was by no means disturbed by this 
experience. Quietly, imperceptibly, but with determination and 
tenacity, the Czar continued the strange game to establish patriarchal 
connections with his subjects. 

In the same manner in which the Czar hid his inner strength behind 
the mask of polite indecision, the Czarina attempted to disguise her 
inherent weakness by assuming an air of exaggerated firmness. 
Alexandra Feodorovna had finely chiselled features, light eyes, and 
straight brows. The deep lines, visible at the corners of her mouth, 
indicated a sad youth. She never reconciled herself to the early 
death of her mother, the loss of two brothers and the humiliating 
memories of that painful period when she had been merely 
tolerated at the brilliant Courts of the Russian, English, and German 
monarchs. 

Old Queen Victoria, who had shown especial interest in the mother- 
less child, had seen to it that she received a strict Anglican education. 
The world of the young princess was an odd mixture of profound 
piety and girlish sentimentality. From his forebears Nicholas II had 
inherited a contempt for money and an autocratic disregard for all the 
rules of Court life. Princess Alix, reared within the narrow confines of 
her native Court, was not only addicted to German thriftiness, but 
enormously impressed by formal grandeur and obsolete customs. 
The supercilious Russian courtiers were astonished when, at the very 
first reception, the young Czarina, with remarkable persistence, 
extended her hand to be kissed by the oldest and most dignified ladies 
of the Court. Within the borders of Holy Russia it seemed unnecessary 
that imperial omnipotence should demand such recognition. 

The narrow environment of her native hearth was completely in 
contrast with Alexandra Feodorovna's outlook on life. The Princess 
of Hesse-Darmstadt was keenly aware that she was a granddaughter of 
the Queen of England, and a cousin of the German Kaiser. Unfortun- 
ately her mother had married a mere prince of a small grandduchy, thus 
condemning young Alix to a back-seat among royalty. It was the ever- 
present consciousness of this fact which weighed heavily upon the 
young Princess's soul. How easily she, too, might have become the 
wife of an insignificant German princeling, forced to spend her life 
in the disconsolate milieu of a tiny German garrison ! 

The thoughts of the young Princess soared from the sad, terrestrial 
plane to the higher regions of the spirit. Theological mediations, for 
which her Anglican education opened a wide field, always had charac- 
terized the Hessian house. Analogous to the Romanovs, for many 



74 NICHOLAS II 

generations members of the Hessian dynasty had attempted to sur- 
mount the bulwark of the official Church, eager to perceive with their 
own eyes the celestial face of the Supreme Judge. 

Among the forebears of the Princess was the Holy Elizabeth of 
Hungary, and a picture of this mild martyr became the lodestar of 
young Alix, guiding her through the dark terrestrial valley of tears. 
The Princess's mother had participated in religious movements whole- 
heartedly, and her friendship for the celebrated theologist, David 
Strauss, had strongly influenced the impressionable mind of the future 
Czarina. 

It was not until the Princess fell in love with the Russian heir to the 
throne that she returned to reality from spheres far removed from 
terrestrial doing. The hidden subterranean battle which she had to 
fight for Nicholas, the ill-will which the old Czar and Czarina bore her, 
and the contempt of the entire Russian Court which she struggled to 
overcome, inflicted upon her pride a deep, never-healing wound. When 
at last, despite all resistance, she had gained her victory, she was left 
with no illusions. She knew that neither her charm nor her beauty were 
responsible for her marriage ; rather, Alexander's serious illness had 
not allowed sufficient time to look around for a more suitable consort 
for his son and heir. 

In this way bitterness, suppressed haughtiness, and self-consciousness 
were the basic traits of the Czarina's character just as piety, fatalism, 
and suspicion ruled the soul of Nicholas II. 

Every contact the Czarina made with the Russian Court, which once 
had repulsed her so mercilessly, brought on a veritable spasm of revul- 
sion. Her breath came belabouredly ; she blushed and the words died 
upon her lips. At receptions, while the Empress-Mother indulged in 
small talk with enviable poise, her daughter-in-law stood by awkwardly, 
self-consciously, a forced, frozen smile on her face. Courtiers, never 
suspecting that a Czarina could ever suffer from psychological inhibi- 
tions, interpreted her aloof manner as presumption and supercilious 
coldness. It was from the castles of the aristocracy that word of the 
haughty Empress reached the kitchen of the servants, in turn to be 
repeated in the streets of St. Petersburg and finally to be accepted as an 
unquestionable fact in all strata of the Russian people. 

Czar and Czarina never conceived the democratic idea of courting 
the favour of their people. Peter the Great had eaten out of the same 
bowl as his servant. Beautiful Elizabeth had danced the minuet 
with any common soldier. Even Nicholas I had not considered it 
beneath his imperial dignity to address passers-by on the streets. To 
Nicholas II and Alexandra, however, it seemed undignified to invite 
popularity in this manner. God had enthroned them above their 
people, and the love of their people supposedly was passed on to the 
imperial couple together with the burden of the crown. It was not the 
monarch who must solicit the favour of his subjects ; on the contrary, 
dispeople had to curry the favour of their monarch. 

lie strange religious fervour which imbued the Czarina impressed 



THE CIRCLE NARROWS 75 

the sophisticated courtiers as odd and affected. For an Anglican 
princess, only recently converted to the Orthodox faith, she seemed 
much too intent upon furnishing an example of Russian piety. How- 
ever, the ardour of a proselyte was in complete agreement with the entire 
mental make-up of the young Czarina. The change of faith had not 
been easy for her. A few days before her engagement, Nicholas wrote 
into his diary: " We talked until midnight, but in vain. She will 
not change her faith and she is always weeping. " 

In order to justify her change of religion before her own conscience, 
Alexandra Feodorovna had to be convinced that the Orthodox faith 
was the best, the most beautiful, and the noblest in the entire world. 
A born Russian could permit himself to look upon the solemn pomp of 
his Church with a touch of ironic doubt. However, the Czarina if 
she was not to lose her self-esteem had to accept, unconditionally, all 
customs, rites, and mysteries of her newly adopted faith. The Russian 
mysticism of the sixteenth century warred against the enlightenment 
which the lecture halls of Cambridge once had brought to this European 
girl. 

The Czarina ordered a chapel built in Czarskoje Selo with a sub- 
terranean chamber where she might spend long hours in silent prayer. 
Assiduously she studied the Russian Church language. Her desk 
was heaped with the writings of the old Muscovite mystics, and her entire 
apartment crowded with icons. Embracing this new faith whole- 
heartedly, her soul soared to the accompaniment of the chimes 
reverberating from the steeples of Russia's churches. 

But neither the solemn chant of Slavonic prayers and all the tapers 
in her subterranean crypt, nor yet her humble, pious immersion into 
the new faith, could change the European princess into a genuine 
Russian woman. The cloak of a dreamy, Russian mystic, merely 
disguised the European underneath. The fatalistic belief in the 
inevitability of a terrestrial destiny that typically Russian belief 
which imbued the Czar never fully became part of the Empress, 
despite her intense religiosity. Her soul overflowed with that European 
unrest, that Faustic urge, which longs to shape events instead of accept- 
ing them with pious equanimity. Lacking true strength of soul, 
her Faustic urge frequently manifested itself as stubbornness and 
greed for power. 

While the Emperor always liked to think his acts were inspired by 
God, the Empress, whenever she offered advice, would base her sugges- 
tions upon logical arguments. Her inner restlessness, her endeavour 
to mould fate herself, increasingly assumed the form of an exaggerated, 
almost pathological, energy. She meddled in everything : Affairs of 
state, Court questions, family problems, politics and religion, war 
and government. With energetic words she pushed courtiers and 
officials aside, and dictated her will in the honest conviction that 
mundane fates should be guided by mundane hands. " I must prove 
myself a medicine for confused minds/' she once wrote to the Czar. 
And in another letter she even penned the audacious words: 



76 NICHOLAS II 

" Invisibly, I wear trousers and, oh, how I yearn to prove it to these 
idiots." 

Unlike his consort, Nicholas was convinced that God's will assigns 
man to a magic circle from which there is no escape. Secretary of 
State, Polovzov, who knew the Czar intimately, wrote in his diary : 
1 ' The Emperor believes man has no influence whatsoever on the 
development of terrestrial events. God does everything through His 
Anointed One, the Czar. Consequently he need not accept the advice 
of anyone else, merely following inspiration from on high." 

The Czar's equanimity, sometimes assuming positively heroic forms, 
did not spring from stoicism but from deep, sincere religion, truly 
remarkable in its strength. Any outside interference in questions of 
government appeared to the Czar as a sin against God. The Czarina, 
however, regarded such meddling merely as opposition to the preroga- 
tives of her imperial husband. Her idea of the nature of the Czar's 
omnipotence was very vague and undefined, his power seeming as 
limitless to her as his realm. That the omnipotence of the Czar found 
a self-imposed limitation in the very laws he himself promulgated, 
impressed the Czarina as a liberal, and therefore sacrilegious, thought. 
To her mind the Czar was above the law. She considered the ministers, 
who tried to explain to her that even the Czar could go beyond the law 
only if he rescinded it in principle, messengers of the revolution. 
Throughout her life, Alexandra Feodorovna never could distinguish 
between autocracy and despotism, notwithstanding that Count 
Speransky had defined this difference in the eighty-seventh clause of the 
fundamental laws of the Russian Empire. 

The erratic restlessness of the Czarina furnished a striking contrast 
to the complete equanimity of her consort. While the Czar would accept 
the worst blows of fortune with an admirable display of calmness, the 
Czarina found it impossible even to extend her hand to a minister or 
diplomat whom she disliked. If such a greeting was unavoidable, 
the Czarina often suffered from a choking sensation in her throat, 
rendering it virtually impossible for her to talk. 

Many of the Czar's habits and beliefs differed greatly from those of 
his consort. Nicholas liked to take long, solitary walks, while the 
Czarina preferred the isolation of her chapel. The Czar thought it 
useless to resist the will of God and considered himself condemned to 
rule. The Czarina thought she could move the whole world with her 
words ; yet, all that was expected of her was to give Russia an heir 
to the throne, having borne only daughters so far. The Czar wanted 
to build a bridge to his people over the heads of his ministers. But the 
Czarina attempted to establish a connection between herself and God 
through the mediation of the Church. 

Despite these differences, the life of the imperial couple was blessed 
with an undisturbed, almost bourgeois, happiness. As much as 
Nicholas II suffered under the burden of his reign, just as much he 
yearned for the cosy hours of family life. The beautiful palace of Czar- 
skoje Selo, where the imperial couple spent the greater part of the year, 



THE CIRCLE NARROWS 

became an idyllic island of love on whose shores e ixrfiring wav^ o 
the raging Russian ocean broke powerlessly. ^TY ^ "^M^ < 

At an early hour each morning, a page, bearir a^TO^bauaiet.of . 
flowers, hastened to the suite of the Czarina. 3t(tle Wrterija her 
lavender boudoir, the Czarina, reclining on a cl 
the morning visit of her husband. The couple 1 Uj^V^ad breakfi 
served to them by a coloured flunkey. After 
short walk, the Czar repaired to his study, to the 
ment of the Czarina. Every separation, even of the sho] 
excited the Czarina to such an extent that the Emperor postponed 
politically important trips if, for some reason, his consort could not 
accompany him. Alexandra Feodorovna spent the hours which the 
Czar had to dedicate to the business of ruling in tense anticipation. 
Now and then, a short whistle issued from the Emperor's study, where- 
upon the Czarina flushed and promptly left her books even her guests 
to follow her husband's call in joyous excitement. 

In their hours of congenial companionship, Nicholas called his 
wife "Sunshine" while Alexandra had nicknamed her husband 
11 Scamp. 1 ' An historian of thai time paints the marital happiness of 
the imperial couple as follows : " There never was a single unfriendly 
word exchanged between them. At all times, both were inspired by a 
tender consideration for each other and assiduously avoided hurting each 
other even by a glance. From the very beginning of the marriage, to 
their tragic end together, there always was something in their relations 
and their manner of talking to each other that reminded one of newly- 
weds. Their mutual love never diminished in the slightest degree." 

The Czar's diary contains many indications of his serene family 
life which was interrupted only by the burdens of government. ' ' Again 
I had to spend the morning receiving reports. In the afternoon, how- 
ever, I took a walk through the park with Alix. It seems impossible 
for us to be separated." " Because I was busy in the morning, I did 
not see dear Alix at all. But in the afternoon we took a trip to Pavlovsk 
to admire the beautiful sunset."" We had lots of time for ourselves 
to-day. We had breakfast and dinner alone. It is impossible for me to 
describe how happy life for two can be in Czarskoje Selo." To this 
remark, the Czarina wrote the annotation : " Your little wife adores 
you." 

On free afternoons Czar and Czarina would sit together, glancing 
through magazines and family albums, and talking over the incidents 
of the day. The Czarina would sew, or dress dolls for her daughters, 
and the Czar would read, in a voice trembling with emotion, from the 
works of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Gogol, Turgeniev, and Tcheckov. 

Only now and then was this quiet life interrupted by yachting in 
the Gulf of Finland or trips to the Crimea. In the southland, the 
Czar took his long walks or went bicycling, bathing, rowing, or played 
tennis. Meanwhile the Czarina lit a camp-fire on an idyllic meadow 
to prepare a meal of venison, bagged by the Czar, and mushrooms she 
herself had gathered. 



78 NICHOLAS II 

In giving themselves over to this peaceful, secluded life and with- 
drawing from the outside world, the imperial couple estranged them- 
selves from generals, diplomats, politicians, and savants who once had 
commingled at the magnificent Court of the czars. The happier this 
intimate life became for the imperial couple, the larger grew the number 
of those who remained uninvited. These outsiders felt slighted to the 
point of insult, and sorely missed the receptions and balls of old times. 

As even the visits of relatives were limited, in the course of time 
the dissatisfied grumbling of the aristocrats was presently joined by the 
disapproving voices of imperial cousins and uncles. Gradually, the 
imperial residence became very quiet. The social life of the capital 
centred more and more in the salons of ladies, dabbling in politics, and 
ever fewer ministers, courtiers, and relatives could boast of regular 
contact with the Czar. 

Alexander III, despite his isolation, had never neglected the necessary 
duties of representation, but the Court of his son soon was deserted. 
The negroes, at the threshold of the imperial rooms, stood sleepily at the 
wide doors which very rarely now were thrown open to visitors. 

The number of disgruntled aristocrats grew all the time. First in 
cautious whispers, then louder and louder, the strangest rumours 
were spread about the happy imperial couple. The Czarina, still remem- 
bering those days before her engagement when she sensed a secret 
opponent in every courtier and minister, made no effort to win over 
the capital. The emptiness surrounding the little house at Czarskoje 
Selo grew more pronounced all the time ; more and more, disconcerted 
with the unworldly idyll of the imperial couple, aristocrats and 
politicians fled into the salons of the disgruntled. Within the imperial 
circle only a few people remained in intimate contact with the monarch. 
Those few alone might conceivably have a hand in the political life of 
Russia one day. 



CHAPTER TEN 

CLOUDS AROUND THK THRONE 

-- ~^HE inhabitants of the Neva metropolis were wont to call 

I their city " Peter " after their great Czar. Returning from 

I the Dutch town of Zaandam, where he had learned the 

-* carpenter's trade, Peter had built his proud new capital city 

on the banks of the fourteen rivers. 

Cold, solid granite clothed the Neva . Palaces lined the embankments 
of the rivers and canals. Magnificent cathedrals threw their shadows 
across the squares. On the granite of the Neva banks, the Italian 
wizard Rastrelli erected the monumental grandeur of the Winter 
Palace. Through the fog gleamed Falconet's statue, immortalizing 
the founder of the city on horseback, ascending a rock at full gallop 
and pointing at the Neva triumphantly. 

The curses of countless peasants upon whose very bones St. Peters- 
burg had been erected hovered over the proud city. In the white nights 
of St. Petersburg, in the quivering twilight of a pale, yellowish sun, 
people were terrified by evil nightmares. The ice-covered city, steeped 
in gloom, was seemingly bewitched and the thoughts, deeds, and 
dreams of its inhabitants were heavy and depressed. Shadowy figures 
seemed to dance around Rastrelli's masterpiece ; greedy hands 
stretched toward the palace. Bemedalled old men, ambitious youths, 
parade generals, and parlour priests beleaguered all entrances to the 
Czar's abode. Conflicting desires, plans and hopes converged in the 
marble halls of the palace, colliding with, or merging into, one another 
in the end to harass, like so many spectres, the pale, youngish man 
who, from his desk, stared dreamily into the cold, enchanted distance 
of the icy expanse. 

During the first years of his reign the young Czar was surrounded, 
as if by a solid wall, by a crowd of grandducal uncles and cousins. 
Grandduke Alexander Michailovitch describes this clique in the most 
sombre terms. He writes : " Nicholas II spent the first years of his 
reign at his desk, listening, with a feeling best described as alarm, to 
avuncular advice and insinuations. Obviously, he was afraid to be 
alone with his uncles. In the presence of others they accepted Nicholas's 
utterances as imperial commands. However, once they were alone 
with their nephew, the difference in age immediately became noticeable. 
The Last of the Czars used to heave a deep sigh whenever one of his 
uncle's visits would interrupt his work. The uncles always wanted 
something of him. Uncle Nicholai Nicholaievitch considered himself 
a great field-marshal ; Uncle Alexius Alexandrovitch desired to rule 
the waves; Uncle Sergius Alexandrovitch felt impelled to change 

7Q 



80 NICHOLAS II 

Moscow into a family estate ; Uncle Vladimir Alexandrovitch was 
interested in the arts. They all had their favourites generals, admirals, 
ballet dancers for whom something handsome should be done. Towards 
six o'clock in the evening the young Emperor was fatigued, depressed, 
and stupefied. He regarded the picture of his father wistfully and 
regretted that he lacked the ability and strong speech of that fear- 
inspiring, supreme moulder of Russia's fate. They all had feared 
Alexander III as they feared fire." 

Only one figure stood at the threshold of the imperial suite, blocking 
the path of the relatives, and that was the young Czarina, Alexandra 
Feodorovna. In the eyes of the proud granddukcs, this little princess 
who had become Empress overnight, ranked far behind the most distant 
blood relatives of His Imperial Majesty. Remembering her unfortunate 
quest for a husband, the relatives believed they could still dare to treat 
the Empress like an insignificant little foreigner. Her demands for 
full recognition amused the haughty princes. The more persistent 
she was in her demands, the more critically the granddukes observed 
every word, every gesture, even every costume the young Czarina 
wore. 

As early as the first few days of her marriage, Alexandra Feodorovna 
confided to her German friend, Countess Kantzau : " The Emperor 
is surrounded by granddukes and grandduchesses." Around the same 
time, she wrote into her husband's diary : "Do not permit anybody 
to slight you or assume a predominating role." A few pages farther 
on, she added, lialf-imploringly, half-aclmonishingly : "Talk to me 
about everything, dear heart, you can have full confidence in 
me." 

While the young Czarina fought tenaciously to maintain her position 
beside her husband, her relations to the imperial house grew increas- 
ingly cool and official. In a talk with her lady-in-waiting, Madame 
Elizabeth Naryshkina-Kurakina, the Dowager-Empress complained 
about her daughter-in-law : " She never tells me what she does, or 
what she intends to do ; when we are together she speaks of everything 
in the world except herself. I would be so happy if she would throw off 
this reserve for once." 

That cool restraint towards people who once had nicknamed her 
" Hessian Fly " and who now observed, with a mocking smile, her 
piety, her marital happiness, her every word and gesture, was never 
to leave the Empress. Her bourgeois sense of family, and her 
monarchical pride, revolted against the constant disturbance of the 
imperial duties, and the imperial family life, occasioned by the endless 
visits and advice of interfering relatives. The sabre-rattling grand- 
dukes, bedecked with medals, the grandduchesses dressed in the 
height of fashion, and the stern mother-in-law appeared to the Czarina 
as baleful messengers of that glittering, hateful world of St. Petersburg 
which everlastingly sought to intrude upon her peaceful seclusion. 

In an invisible but none the less bitter battle stretching over years, 
Alexandra Feodorovna succeeded in gaining the undivided love and 




/ V I 

LV* II \V|) Till </\KI\\ \\I-.\KI\f, Till. Ulss]\\ I MI'l-KI \1. 
( <>V| I -Ml-. M| 'I 111 MID|LI. \(.l-s 



CLOUDS AROUND THE THRONE 8l 

unswerving confidence of her husband. The tender love of the Czarina 
was victorious over the calculating love of the relatives, and the more 
Nicholas came to appreciate the simple joys of family life, the more 
energetically he freed himself from shackles forged by the demands of 
his relatives. 

Just as the Czar had least confidence in those ministers who displayed 
the most medals and answered to the highest titles, so his distrust 
was aimed primarily against those relatives who were closest to him 
by ties of blood. The Byzantine politeness of the Czar disguised his 
underlying suspicion and, consequently, there* never were embarrassing 
scenes or arguments in the family. Nevertheless, in the course of time, 
the cloud of imperial disfavour darkened his relations to those nearest 
of kin who should have been the natural pillars of throne and 
monarchy. 

While young, more distant, relatives still gloried in the sun of imperial 
favoiir, it was soon known all over St. Petersburg that the distrust of 
the monarch was primarily directed against the woman whose iron will 
overshadowed the first years of his reign and who, until the very last, 
preserved her remarkable personality : The Empress-Mother, Maria 
Feodorovna. 

Within the compass of the entire history of modern times, no other 
human being was unluckier and more persistently persecuted by cruel 
fortune than Dowager-Empress, Maria Feodorovna. This fragile, 
petite woman suffered the fate of a heroine in a classic tragedy. She 
survived everybody and everything near and dear to her : Her husband, 
the throne, and the Church. She survived the tragic murder of her 
sons and grandsons, the debacle of the realm, the end of the dynasty, 
and the assassination of the majority of her friends and relatives. 
She was one of the few who escaped the inferno, unseared, only to 
carry the burden of life for many more years, impoverished, ill, and 
half-forgotten by the world. 

The premonition of future misfortunes cast its shadow, early, over 
the countenance of Empress Maria. Her features were petrified into 
a veritable mask. After the death of her husband, she never displayed 
any emotional reaction. Neither smiles nor frowns ever appeared 
on her face. During gala receptions, her eyes fell upon the guests 
with mechanical graciousness and, at daily mass, they expressed, 
j ust as automatically, prescribed piousness. Her mask-like face bespoke 
such overpowering coldness that even members of her intimate circle 
never probed into her soul. The masses were spellbound with a super- 
stitious awe of the Dowager-Empress. In the villages, among the 
mushiks, and in the market-places, awestruck people whispered that the 
Empress-Mother had the wrinkles of her face filled out with porcelain. 
That Maria Feodorovna did not show her age, and that she could neither 
laugh nor cry any longer, was because of this " mask." She was 
simply condemned to eternal youth ! The frigid face of the Dowager- 
Empress hardly relaxed into a smile when she was informed of the birth 
of her grandson, Czarevitch Alexius. It remained just as frozen 



82 NICHOLAS TT 

and devoid of interest, years later, when an imperial courier advised 
her that Czar and Czarina had abdicated, and that the monarchy 
was no more. 

The Empress Maria was a Danish princess. From her homeland 
she brought the coolness of her behaviour to the magnificent St. Peters- 
burg Court. The imperial crown which graced her head for more than 
a decade did not change her into a Russian woman. She spoke 
Russian poorly and hardly ever wrote in the language of her adopted 
country. For old dynastic reasons, she despised everything German, 
including her daughter-in-law who was a German princess. 

Every evening, in the quietude of her study, the Empress reached 
for the Court calendar and entered, in Danish, the incidents of the day, 
relieving herself of anxiously hidden secrets that troubled her soul. 
Nobody in the world knew anything of the existence of this diary until 
years later. The yellowed leaves record everything that occurred in 
the life of this woman : Unsatisfied love, longing for sympathy, and 
the premonition of imminent disaster. She perceived that the crown 
rested none too firmly on the head of her son, yet her own clever hands 
so dexterous in matters of intrigue proved powerless to insure 
that crown. Imbued with the desire to see the Romanov crown upon 
a head which she deemed more worthy cf it, she gazed about, perplexed. 
But no one appeared suitable to her. Her youngest son, Michael, who 
might have been her choice, was no longer eligible; because he had 
married a woman of Jewish blood arid subsequently was banished to 
Orel. From that moment on, the Empress would have nothing more to 
do with him. To be sure, after Michael, there loomed up a long list of 
more distant granddukes all hopeless. The Empress worried over the 
future of the Empire, intuitively sensing its decline. 

Czar and Czarina were afraid of the Dowager-Ernpress. Whenever 
she appeared, leaning on a cane, the Czar would talk of the weather, of 
flowers, or inquire about her health. Whenever she tried to warn her 
son, Nicholas remarked politely : "I absolutely agree with you, 
Mama. 11 But the Empress knew that, a moment later, he would 
forget all she had said and she was deeply hurt. The Czar knew that 
his mother disapproved of the German idyll of Czarskoje Selo and he, 
in turn, felt hurt. He also realized that, in the past, the old Empress 
had exercised considerable power and, if she felt so impelled, she could 
make use of that power now. 

Perhaps he even had caught some hint of the stupid, vicious gossip 
that recently had spread throughout Russia. According to these 
rumours, the old Empress had commanded an officer to shoot the Czar 
so that her son Michael might ascend the throne. The officer, a faithful 
subject, supposedly had appeared before the Czar, told him the truth, 
whipped out a revolver and shot himself before the very eyes of his ruler. 

To be sure the story was pure invention. But then, nothing 
was really impossible in the House of Romanov. Had not Peter the 
Great had his son murdered ? Had not Catherine the Great had her 
husband strangled ? Had not the unfortunate Paul perished in the 



CLOUDS AROUND Tin-: TITRONF. ^3 

belief that it was his son's scarf thai had choked him ? Everything was 
possible in the blood-stained glory of the House of Romanov. 

After the rumour about the officer had died down, another story 
sprang up. Harmless though it was, it could be traced directly to the 
Dowager-Empress, and presently reached the ears of the Czar. It 
was in the summer of 1902, in sunny Castle Livadia. A house had 
been reserved in the village for Minister of Finance Witte. One day, 
despite the terrific heat, the? Imperial Chief Master of Ceremonies 
appeared at this villa, attired in glittering uniform. " Sergius Julie- 
vitch," he cried excitedly, " 1 must talk to you confidentially. 11 

Minister and courtier left the house. Amidst the old pines of the 
park, the Chief Master of Ceremonies said, obviously worried : "Of 
course, you know, Sergius Julievitch, that the Czar is ill." 

11 Why, it is just a touch of influenza." 

" Oh, that's what the official report says. In reality/ 1 the voice of 
the courtier sank to a whisper, " it's typhoid fever. In a mild form, 
but just the same, it's typhoid." 

11 Let's hope His Majesty's condition is in no way serious," Witte 
countered quickly. 

" Not yet, not yet, but that is precisely the reason 1 am here, my 
dear Witte. We must consider what is to be done if something does 
happen to His Majesty/' 

" God save the Czar," Witte exclaimed fervently, crossing himself. 
Then, frowning, he added: "I do not understand you. If some 
mishap should befall the Emperor God forbid ! after all, there are 
laws that govern the succession to the throne. As long as there is no 
direct male heir, Grandduke Michael, as the next eldest brother of 
the Czar, would ascend the throne." 

The courtier cleared his throat : "Of course, generally speaking, 
you are correct," he said, " but there is an especial, rather delicate point 
which changes the whole situation. The Empress is pregnant, you must 
know. Now imagine if the Czar dies and Grandduke Michael ascends 
the throne, and then the Czarina gives birth to a rightful heir ! Just 
think what an impossible situation that would create. Wouldn't it be 
wiser, in case of His Imperial Majesty's demise, and until the confine- 
ment of the Czarina, to form a regency counsel consisting of the 
Czarina and the supreme dignitaries of the Church ? " 

Minister and courtier studied each other suspiciously ; each could 
read the other's thoughts. " Lickspittle of the Czarina," was written 
on the Minister's face. " Tutor to Grandduke Michael," was mirrored 
in the eyes of the courtier. 

Witte broke the tense pause: "Doubtless your reflections are 
important, but somehow I cannot share them. The laws governing the 
succession to the throne are the only unchangeable laws of the realm. 
Nobody but Michael would ascend the throne. Of course, it must 
somehow be made clear to Michael that, in case the Empress bears an 
heir, he must abdicate in favour of this son." 

Even before that day was over the Czarina was informed of the 



84 NICHOLAS II 

conversation beneath the pines. She bit her lips ; red splotches dis- 
figured her pale face, but she never uttered a word. Witte was a 
power ! 

With the Czar convalescing the typhoid fever had run its course 
without any complication the Czarina brought him to the yellow 
beach beside the blue sea. Breathing heavily from excitement, she 
told him about Witte and his betrayal of the imperial family. " He 
wanted to deprive our son your son of the throne." 

The Czar gazed at his consort, startled. What he had surmised for 
years, but had not dared express in words ; what he had not even 
dared to follow to its last logical conclusion, now became certainty in 
his mind : Witte was not only Grandduke Michael's educator ; not 
only the most popular man in Russia ; Witte also had been Alexander's 
most trusted minister and more important than anything else after 
Alexander's death had become the one real friend of the Dowager- 
Empress. Witte never would have proffered an opinion regarding 
succession to the throne without knowing what the old Empress thought 
of it. Thus, this threatening intrigue led directly to the stiff, forbidding 
Court of Maria Feodorovna, and Witte was its most dangerous 
exponent. 

From that day onward Czar and Czarina harboured an inexorable 
hatred for Witte. Nothing the gifted statesman did ever reconciled 
them. They suffered him only as long as he was absolutely 
indispensable and then rid themselves of him. 

But they could not banish the Empress-Mother so easily. To be 
sure, the tapping of her cane re-echoed through the marble halls of the 
imperial palace very rarely now. The atmosphere of their infrequently 
shared dinners became increasingly icy. In the presence of the Dowager- 
Empress neither politics nor the rearing of children, nor yet dynastic 
questions were discussed. 

Surrounded by her stiff Court, Empress Maria grew older. No word 
of grief or complaint penetrated the walls of her palace. For her, life 
passed with the mechanical regularity of a clock's tick-tock. Day 
after day Prince Shervashidse, intimate friend and Chief Master of 
Ceremonies of the Empress-Mother, introduced a long row of granddukes 
and other visitors. The visitors kissed the imperial hand, stared shyly 
'at the rigid face of the Dowager-Empress, bolted down their luncheon, 
and took leave. 

The old Empress went to mass daily ; a book in her hand, she walked 
through the park. She certainly did not appear like an old woman, 
for she possessed an extraordinary amount of energy that burned 
in her fiercely. Visits from intimate friends were few and far between. 
Only on rare occasions did they congregate around the cold hearth of 
the Dowager-Empress. Adroitly, then, she guided the conversation 
into political channels and always she gained her point. At the old 
Empress's fireside governmental problems were not openly discussed ; 
only hopes and desires were expressed. In time, however, these hopes 
and desires grew into purposeful plans. When, late of an evening, 



CLOUDS AROUND THE THRONE 85 

friends had left the Dowager-Empress's palace, she would pray, long 
and fervently, in front of her icons, and then write a few brief remarks 
in her diary, invariably ending with the reflection : " How unpleasant, 
how sad is all this." 

Although the intimates of Maria Feodorovna were small in number, 

at certain times they comprised practically the c?ntire executive power 

of Russia. Minister of Finance Witte, who, on the sunny shores of 

The Crimea, had inadvertently aroused the disfavour of his imperial 

master, belonged to this circle. 

Everything about the appearance and behaviour of Sergius Julievitch 
Witte reminded one of an elephant. His figure, his plans, his hopes, 
all were tremendous. HP was the tallest official of the Czar, and his 
shoulders were the broadest. His voice was rough and grating, his 
manners crude and awkward. In conversing with ministers, courtiers, 
and generals- -even with the C/ar himself Witte delighted in resorting 
to the most vulgar and uncouth expressions. The frail Czar always felt 
ill at ease in the presence of this robust man, with his thunderous 
voice, who brutally smashed to atoms all the dreams, schemes and 
desires of his imperial master, obviously seeking to demonstrate the 
imperial inferiority. 

However rough-hewn and inelegant the exterior of the Minister of 
Finance, his mentality was remarkable in its keenness and elasticity. 
Doubtless he was the most astute financier of whom Russia could boast ; 
in the eyes of Alexander III, his tremendous achievements had excused 
his rough manners, his modest descent, and even his Jewish wife. 

It was Witte who had devaluated the Russian rouble, introduced the 
gold standard, and a tariff system, and covered Russia with a net of 
railroads. Thus he had laid the corner-stone of commerce and industry, 
eventually becoming a veritable dictator of budding Russian 
capitalism. 

The premise for Witte's unbelievable career was neither a very 
good education nor a long line of illustrious forebears. He possessed no 
personal riches, but merely enjoyed the favour of Alexander III. 

In 1888 Witte had managed the traffic division of the South-western 
Railroad, at that time a private enterprise. Once the special train of 
the Czar passed over its track with terrific speed. At one station young 
Witte boarded the imperial train. He explained to the Minister of 
Transportation that travelling at such a rate of speed usually ended in 
catastrophe. The Czar, who overheard this speech, emerged from his 
compartment. With a withering glance from head to toe, he scolded : 
' ' What nonsense are you talking ? I travel through the whole of Russia 
with the same speed and nobody ever interfered. It seems only here 
on your tracks it can't be done. Small wonder your railroad is in the 
hands of dirty Jews." 

Witte did not reply to his Czar. Turning instead to the Minister of 
Transportation, he commented coolly : " Well, then, fairly soon His 
Majesty may be expected to break His Imperial neck." With that he 
alighted from the coach. 



86 NICHOLAS Tl 

It was only a few weeks later that the Czar's special train was 
derailed at Borki. The immediate result was that Alexander dismissed 
the Minister of Transportation, drafted Witte into government service, 
and soon thereafter appointed him Minister of Transportation, 
Economics and Finance. 

Witte, throbbing with the spirit of enterprise, entered upon his 
executive duties whole-heartedly. Presently he took a hand in all 
questions of government, regardless of whether they concerned the 
army, education, or foreign politics. He issued orders to everybody. 

His gigantic plans and his imperious nature hypnotized the ministers. 
Nicholas 1 1 never could free himself of a frightful feeling of insignificance 
whenever this autocrat of finance hovered about him. Everything in 
connection with Witte alienated and antagonized Nicholas. Only with 
the greatest effort did the Czar suffer the distasteful voice, manners, and 
gestures of this irreplaceable man. The more aggressively Witte 
pressed his measures, the more stubborn grew the Czar's resistance, 
although he concealed his feelings admirably. The antipathy with 
which the gentle Nicholas regarded his minister's gross and brazen 
conduct was the beginning of the hatred that filled both men for 
decades, casting a shadow over the entire life of the Last of the Czars. 
Accustomed, from his dealings with Alexander III, to depend upon 
straightforwardness in the expression of an imperial opinion, Witte 
discovered, to his chagrin, that in the mouth of Nicholas II the word 
"Yes" hardly ever meant the affirmative, but usually was to be 
interpreted as a downright "No." With every ounce of his robust 
strength Witte despised the frail Byzantine aristocrat who, as he once 
described it, " is everlastingly looking for detours, and via these ever 
and again arrives at the same destination : A morass or a puddle of 
blood." 

The Czar had decided that Witte's opponent was to be Minister 
of Interior Vjatsheslav Constantinovitch Plehve. When, after the 
resignation of Durnovo, the question arose who was to head the Ministry 
of the Interior, Nicholas turned to his old teacher Pobedonostsev for 
advice. 

"There are only two possible candidates," Pobedonostsev said 
" the one is Sipjagin, the other Plehve." 

The Czar knew neither of them well and inquired who would be 
preferable. 

" There is no real difference, Your Majesty," Pobedonostsev replied 
insouciantly. " The first is a fool and the second is a scoundrel." 

" Now, I am asking your advice seriously." 

"And I am advising Your Majesty seriously. As far as the post 
of a Minister of the Interior is concerned, only a fool or a scoundrel 
would be suitable." 

At the time the Czar decided in favour of the fool, and Sipjagin was 
appointed Minister of the Interior. Only after Sipjagin, on the 2nd 
of April, 1902, had been assassinated by the student Balmashov did the 
oddly recommended Plehve become his successor. 



CLOUDS AROUND THE THRONE 87 

As an expert on Russian affairs, Prince Bemliard von Billow describes 
the past and the character of this man as follows : 

" Pk'live was one of those German-Russians who, while not so 
cruel perhaps as the national Russians, made themselves even more 
hated by their methodical harshness and severity. He was a type 
seen in Russia repeatedly since the time of Peter the Great. Son of an 
impoverished East Prussian landowner, his father took him to Russian- 
Poland when he was still a child. There, his father, who had been 
unable to make a success of life in his homeland, eventually acquired 
a little estate. Originally young Plehve was brought up as a Pole. 
Later, when thr lather emigrated to the interior of Russia, the son 
developed from a Pole into a Russian just as quickly as he had de- 
veloped from a German into a Pole. Honest Willielm soon was changed 
into the Polish Vazlav, and with the same speed and nonchalance 
Vazlav later metamorphosed into the Russian Yjatsheslav. Plchve 
was endowed with extraordinary working capacity, an iron fist, 
unbending will power, and great personal courage. Constantly 
threatened with bombs and bullets, he drove about in an armoured 
carriage, never informing the driver of his destination until he actually 
entered the coach. Nevertheless, Plehve remained a marked man, with 
everybody convinced that he would be blown to pieces sooner or later. 11 

This strange, spiteful man Nicholas considered the most important 
pillar of the imperial throne. The; entire policy of the Czar was a 
constant shuttling between the indispensable Witte and the highly 
esteemed Plehve. In turn, the two statesmen pursued each other with 
merciless and tenacious hatred. Plehve and Witte never would agree 
on one single question of government. If Witte believed that the 
Czar should look to the young Russian citizenry for support, Plehve 
held that the organs of the Russian police were the only legitimate 
protection for the throne. I f Witte referred to the Russo-Japanese War 
as criminal stupidity, Plehve insisted that this war was a necessity for 
interior as well as for foreign political reasons. Plehve believed in the 
enforced Russification of all non-Russians, while Witte opposed it. 
Plehve was a reactionary because he was indolent and unscrupulous ; 
Witte's Liberalism was based upon clever calculations. Plehve would 
pray before every icon in the imperial palace ; Witte would pass by 
without a glance. Witte was opposed to the obshtshina and Plehve 
was in favour of it. Witte inflamed the populace against Plehve, 
including the Press and foreign countries. Plehve, on the other hand', 
submitted forged secret documents to the Czar, pretending to prove 
that Witte had ambitions of becoming president of a Russian republic. 
Witte was a straightforward man with the behaviour of an impost or ; 
Plehve was an impostor assuming the behaviour of a decent fellow! 
Plehve was killed by a terrorist ; W r itte died in his bed. 
^ That day in 1904 when Plehve was assassinated, Nicholas wrote : 
" In the good Plehve I have lost a friend and a priceless Minister of the 
Interior. God is punishing us severely in His wrath." In 1915 when 
Witte passed away, the Czar confided to a foreign diplomat : <- Haven't 



88 NICHOLAS II 

you heard yet ? Witte is dead ! This is the happiest day of my life." 
To this, the diplomat later added : " Indeed, I never saw the Czar in 
such good humour." 

Although the two ministers exerted a far-reaching influence on 
governmental affairs, neither of them had a decided influence on the 
Czar himself. A minister of Nicholas II, from the very moment of his 
appointment, laboured under a cloud of imperial suspicion ; the longer 
a minister remained in office the more intense grew the imperial distrusi 
against the official executor of his will. 

In the same measure in which the influence of official circles dimin- 
ished grew the unofficial influence of those spectre-like figures who 
appeared in the imperial suite via the backstairs. Within this invisible 
Government a special position was occupied by Prince Vladimir 
Petrovitch Meshtshersky, not only because of the influence he exercised, 
but also for the length of time he was capable of exerting it. 

Despite his renowned historical name and the influence which his 
publication Grashdanin commanded, and despite, too, the special 
position he enjoyed at Court, Prince Meshtshersky was not a greatly 
esteemed personage in the capital. His own brother a high official 
once stated that Prince Vladimir hardly belonged to those people 
whose blood relationship one could acknowledge without blushing. 
Minister of Court, Count Voronzov-Dashkov, bluntly refused to shake 
hands with the influential Prince, and even the cynical Pobedonostsev 
remarked that " Vladimir Petrovitch is a downright scoundrel . . . 
in fact, so despicable that I don't care to acknowledge acquaintanceship 
with him although I have known him since childhood." 

Vladimir Petrovitch harassed the officials of the Russian Empire 
like a nightmare. Whenever he showed his face, with his finely chiselled 
aristocratic features framed by a greyish beard, in the office of one of 
the ministers, it always was to ask a favour for one of the many young 
and elegant officers and officials who, at that particular time, enjoyed 
the Prince's favour ; he would refer to them tenderly as " my sons in 
spirit." If one of the ministers made so bold as to decline the princely 
intercession, the Grashdanin would publish long editorials, or indulge 
in innuendoes, in which the minister was suspected of revolutionary 
leanings, defalcations, and treachery. Frequently these articles were 
followed by a sealed letter from Czarskoje Sclo, informing the minister 
of his dismissal. 

Grashdanin was less the property of the Prince than of the Czar 
himself, who granted the Prince an annual subsidy of 80,000 roubles 
for the publication. The influence which Meshtshersky had exerted, 
first on Alexander III and then on his son, dated back to the childhood 
of the old Prince. At that time, Vladimir had been one of the few 
children chosen by Alexander II as a playmate for his eldest son. 
Czarevitch Nicholas. Nicholas had died on the Riviera in his youth 
and his younger brother, Alexander III, subsequently married his 
fiancee and ascended the throne. Alexander had adored his late 
brother and unstintingly transferred his love to his brother's friend. 



CLOUDS AROUND THE THRONE 89 

Prince Meshtshcrsky. In tender memory of his brother, strait-laced 
Alexander III forgave the Prince his moral lapses and financed his 
paper. For this, the monarch received from the Prince long letters of 
advice, secret information, and denunciations. 

Jus* as indulgently as Alexander III had treated the Prince, just so 
austerely and unfriendly he had been treated by Empress Maria, who 
could condone neither the Prince's relations with the young officers 
nor his visits to the ministries. It had been under her influence that 
Nicholas II had stopped further subsidies for Grashdanin upon his 
ascension to the throne, and even had forbidden the Prince to address 
letters to him. J lowe vcr, the greater the alienation between mother and 
son became, the easier it proved for the Prince to gain the confidence 
of Nicholas II by interminable harping on the favour the young Czar's 
father had shown him. Presently, Nicholas IF granted new funds for 
the piiblication of Grashdanin and, a short time thereafter, the Prince 
was able to exhibit in bureaus and in salons of the St. Petersburg 
aristocracy, letters from the new Czar, addressing him ' ' my dear friend." 

No sooner had the Prince been reinstated in the imperial favour, 
than he again compiled diurnal reports with mathematical exactitude. 
His not insignificant literary gifts wrought these accounts into amusing 
and interesting reading and, from the Czar's replies, it can easily be seen 
how well he was entertained with the Prince's letters. In these missives 
the Prince informed the Czar of his opinion of ministers and officials, 
and also revealed his quaint conceptions of the art of governing. " It 
is of no importance," he once wrote, " that contemporaries disapprove 
the measures of a monarch by the Grace of God. The future will reveal 
to everybody how correct a ruler always is." 

The talented and brilliant letters of the Prince exerted a strong 
influence on Nicholas II, and the more frequently the ministers discov- 
ered recent issues of Grashdanin on the desk of the Czar, the easier it 
proved for the Prince to make ample provisions for " his sons in spirit." 

The entire first half of Nicholas II 's rule moved within the triangle 
of Witte, Plehve, and Meshtshersky. The raucous voice of Witte, the 
reactionary speeches of Plehve, and the poisonous innuendoes of 
Meshtshersky, accompanied the Czar to the cataclysm which was 
incepted by the Russo-Japanese War, and which eventually severed the 
Russian world of the nineteenth century from the world of the 
twentieth century. 

Besides these three the Czar was surrounded only by greedy relatives, 
by the cynical Pobedonostsev, and by a few courtiers like the anecdotic- 
ally stupid Count Frederiks and the drunkard Nilov. They were pale 
shadows, completely lacking a will of their own, grovelling at the foot 
of the throne with canine loyalty and never once noticing the threaten- 
ing clouds, gradually darkening the heavens of Russian autocracy. 



CHAPTER ELEVEN 

IN THE SHADOW OF TH1? GIANT 

" -m JTOLLYCODDLE ! " With this epithet, expressing utmost 
J^L / disrespect, General Tsherevin had characterized Nicholas 
I ^y I II before the body of his predecessor had been laid to 

-A^ * JL. eternal rest in SS. Peter-Paul's Fortress. Other officials 
and dignitaries, who thought they knew their young ruler well, 
expressed opinions in similar vein, at times resorting to unflattering 
comparisons. " Nicholas II will be another Paul I," declared Minister 
of Interior Durnovo, and this allusion to the most unfortunate despot 
of all the czars certainly did little to lighten the shadows surrounding 
the new monarch. The Supreme Procurator of the Holy Synod, 
Pobedonostsev, the young Czar's own teacher, expressed his opinion 
in guarded, but none too respectful, terms. According to him, Nicholas II 
was too immature, too easily influenced and too dependent. Even 
Count Voronzov-Dashkov, loyal Minister of the Court and oldest 
servant of the throne, did not think he could retain his office under 
Nicholas II, " because," as this polished courtier expressed it, " I am 
never able to do my very best if I must co-operate with people who are 
unable to keep their word." 

Two courses were open to the new Czar : One was that of his grand- 
father, Alexander II, the great emancipator and reformer ; and the 
other that of his father, Alexander III, the gigantic and implacable 
reactionary. While memories of his stern father might induce the young 
Czar to follow in the footsteps of Alexander II, his grandfather's 
violent death could not fail to serve as a warning. 

The first administrative measures of Nicholas II did not indicate 
which of the two paths he would pursue. A few days after the ascension 
to the throne, the Czar disbanded the Secret Palace Guard and, follow- 
-ing the example of his late grandfather, walked, all alone, along 
crowded Nevsky Prospect. Reactionaries concluded from this that the 
new Czar's rule would usher in a Liberal era. However, when a group of 
Russian emigrants submitted the draft of a Liberal constitution to the 
Czar, Nicholas II, to the chagrin of the intelligentsia, wrote on the 
margin of the document : " What nonsense ! " 

Since Nicholas's ascension to the throne, provinces, cities, and 
villages had heaped their congratulations upon the Czar, sending him 
addresses and memorials. In formal phraseology, the estates reported 
on the needs of the people. Neither new agrarian laws nor guild nor 
agrarian reforms appeared to the representatives as a suitable means of 
meeting these needs. They hinted at a limitation of the imperial power, 
analogous to the methods of Liberal Western parliamentarism. 

90 



IN THE SHADOW OF THE GIANT QI 

Nicholas II viewed these supplications and memorials as a brazen 
attempt to make him break his oath as an autocratic monarch, respons- 
ible to God alone. Besides, he saw in these suggestions for a liberaliza- 
tion of the czarist regime, an implied criticism of his late father. 
On the margin of one of the memorials presented by the landowners' 
estate of Tverj the most liberal of its kind in Russia the Czar wrote 
the first severe expression of his rule : " Extremely unsatisfactory." 

It was in the third month of his reign that all vague conjectures 
regarding the new ruler's political tendencies were definitely dispelled. 
On the I7th of January, 1895, Nicholas II received, in the great concert 
hall of the Winter Palace, the representatives of the nobility, of the 
municipal autonomies, and of the estates of his realm. The impressive 
room was vibrant with expectation as the Czar, pale and tense, appeared 
before the thousands awaiting him. While the representatives bowed 
in deep respect, the monarch's eyes were glued upon the little slip of 
paper which, hidden in the imperial cap, contained his speech. Then 
the Czar began : 

" I am very happy to greet the representatives of the estates of my 
realm who have come to lay at the foot of the throne the expressions 
of their most humble feelings. I believe in the sincerity of these 
feelings which have always been inherent in every true Russian. 
However, I happen to know that, recently, tit meetings of the estates, 
voices have made themselves heard which, carried away by senseless 
hopes, expect representatives of the estates to take part in the Govern- 
ment. May it be known by all that I am dedicating my strength to the 
weal of my people, at the same time, maintaining firmly and con- 
scientiously the basic principles of absolutism advocated by my late, 
never-to be-forgotten father." 

Nicholas raised his slightly reddened eyes, his calm glance challenging 
the representatives of the nobility of Tverj. Then, suddenly, he 
added : "I proclaim this loudly and openly so that everybody may hear." 

A stunned silence held the great hall. With disturbed countenances, 
the marshals of the nobility passed before the Czar, each of them offering 
the ruler a symbolic gift. When it was the turn of the venerable 
representative of Tverj to present the Czar with salt and bread on a 
heavy silver platter, the gift dropped from his trembling hands. The 
Czar was startled. He blanched as he gazed at the frightened face of the 
old man. Spilled salt and bread, according to old Russian superstition, 
forecast serious strife between donor and recipient. 

Gloomy and depressed, the representatives of the estates returned to 
their villas, cities, mansions, and Liberal clubs. Presently, the whole 
realm re-echoed with the stern words uttered by the Czar concerning the 
" senseless hopes " of his subjects ; it re-echoed, too, with the prediction 
of imminent strife between Czar and people. 

Nicholas II had chosen the way of his father. 

In the Liberal salons of the capital, aristocrats whispered to one 
another that only the cynical spirit of Pobedonostsev could have put 
into the Czar's mouth the words : " senseless hopes." In fact, a few 



92 NICHOLAS II 

days after the Czar's speech, the old man asked, in a conversation with 
Princess Catherine Radziwill, whether he actually was looked upon 
as the author of the imperial address. 

" Of course," the Princess replied. 

Whereupon Pobcdonostsev remarked : "I always thought I was 
credited with more intelligence and sound common sense." 

11 But who else could have suggested such an unfortunate idea to 
the Emperor ? " the Princess demanded. 

" You don't know, then ? Who else but the young Empress ? " 

11 Ah ! But what does she know about Russia ? " 

" Nothing . . . but she presumes to know everything. She is more 
autocratic than Peter the Great and crueller than Ivan the Terrible. 
Her limited mentality makes her believe she is gifted with great 
intelligence." 

Pobedonostsev's words were not meant to be known publicly. 
Before the world the old man calmly accepted responsibility for his 
disciple's speech ; its autocratic spirit certainly could not surprise him. 

Liberal Russia assumed that the new Czar who, contrary to his 
father, had found a calm and well-ordered empire upon his ascension 
to the throne, would return to the liberal policies of his grandfather. 
But Nicholas II, before deciding on any measure, invariably asked his 
advisers : " What do you think my father would have done in this 
case ? " 

The autocratic spirit of Alexander III characterized the first ten 
years of his son's rule. In the spirit of his father, the young Czar 
journeyed to Paris to reaffirm the alliance with France ; he erected 
fortresses against Germany, and he built railways through China. 
It was also in the peace-loving spirit of Alexander III that Nicholas, 
during these years, dedicated himself to his most important achieve- 
ment of that period : The foundation of the Hague Tribunal, the first 
international court of arbitration. 

On the I2th of August, 1898, the Imperial Russian Government 
proposed to foreign countries that, in future, all difficulties between 
nations should be settled by peaceful means through international 
arbitration. Imbued with the Christian spirit of neighbourly love, 
. the Czar desired to usher in an era of eternal peace for all the world. 
As the mightiest monarch of his time, he preferred to advocate the spirit 
of justice to the sabre-rattling spirit of war. The ruler of one-sixth 
of the globe appeared before the foreign countries with the mild mien of 
a prince of peace ; and the first words of the newly founded tribunal, 
which commenced to function on the i8th of May, 1899 birthday of the 
Russian Czar were an expression of grateful recognition for the peace- 
loving Emperor of All the Russias. 

The genesis of this humane endeavour for peace is described by 
Witte one of the collaborators in the plan as follows : "In the 
middle of 1898 Foreign Minister Count Muraviev appeared in my 
office. The Count explained that he wished to invite my opinion on 
the following question : Recently he had received a letter from Minister 



IN THE SHADOW OF THE GIANT 93 

of War General Kuropatkin, containing the information that, according 
to reports just submitted, Austria-Hungary was rapidly reinforcing 
and renewing her artillery. Although our Russian artillery was a 
good enough match for that of Germany, in view of the Austrian 
measures it behoved us to consider re-enforcing our own ordnance 
appreciably. For this reason Kuropatkin had inquired at the Ministry 
of Foreign Affairs whether it would be feasible to induce Austria- 
Hungary to renounce her plan of modernizing and re-enforcing her 
artillery provided Russia agreed not to change her own armament 
status. ... I advised Muraviev that, according to my mind, 
Kuropatkin's proposition was absolutely unacceptable. Austria, in 
rejecting our proposal, might make us appear ridiculous ; moreover, 
such a proposal coming from us would announce to all Europe that 
possibly we might not be in a position to enlarge our own armament. . . . 
In the course of our conversation ] also explained to Muraviev what 
damage the entire world, especially Europe, would suffer through 
increasing costs of armament, and how these expenditures would 
ultimately weaken the population, depriving it of a comfortable 
existence. All this in turn would accelerate the spread of Socialistic 
propaganda which, drifting in from Western Europe, was recently 
making itself felt even within the borders of our own country. . . . 
Obviously, Count Muraviev was greatly impressed by my ideas. 
Although they contained nothing new, they struck him so forcibly 
because of his general lack of culture. 

l- A few days after this conversation I received an all-highest com- 
mand to appear at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for an important 
conference. Count Muraviev informed us that he had submitted to 
His Majesty his proposal for an international discussion on disarma- 
ment. His Majesty had received his suggestions with favour. 
Thereupon, Count Muraviev read the draft of a manifesto, addressed 
to the Powers, aiming at convoking an international peace tribunal." 

While the representatives of the Powers at The Hague dispatched 
an address of thanks to the Czar, a strange and depressing silence 
brooded over Russia. Humbly, the peasantry awaited the decision on 
their fate. In far-distant villages and cities, representatives of the 
estates discussed their problems in whispers, trembling lest they arouse 
the wrath of the Czar. Not an untoward word, not a single sound, 
stirred the country, and yet the very silence hid something sinister and 
ominous. The realm and the people within it each led its own, 
encapsuled life ; there was no bridge between the two. The rigidity 
of the Czar's imperialistic ideology presumed to disregard the living 
spirit of the people. Similarly, to a populace bound to the soil, the 
exponents of imperialistic thought could not appear otherwise than as 
enemies. Besides, for the time being, power was still exclusively in 
the hands of those who were the pillars of this imperialistic thought. 
The provinces of the Empire were still administered by powerful 
governors, ruling over millions of people unrestrictedly. Grandduke 
Sergius still roved about Moscow, wild-eyed. The desk of the Czar 



94 NICHOLAS II 

still was weighted down with most submissive reports of governors and 
governors-general. The monarch read these reports with mechanical 
diligence, jotting on the margin " Very happy," or " Very sad," and 
invariably writing at the end the phrase : " Read with pleasure. 
Nicholas." 

However, actual conditions, hidden underneath the sheaf of reports, 
escaped the Czar's eyes. Unswervingly Nicholas followed in the foot- 
prints of his father. He signed ukases and laws, limited autonomous 
administrations already sufficiently limited, dispatched soldiers to 
beat down unrest and following the advice of governors decreed the 
so-called " state of intensified protection " over whole provinces. At 
the same time he secretly yearned to hear the voices of his subjects, to 
learn of their sufferings directly, and not from the lips of Liberal marshals 
of the nobility, or from the reports of reactionary ministers. 

At last, on the I4th of February, 1901, the voice of the people made 
itself heard. On that day the first shot was fired against the imperial 
power. Minister of Education Bogoljepov was wounded by the student 
Karpovitch. As if it were a signal for revolt, a whole series of 
assassinations, murders, and assaults immediately ensued. 

On the 2nd of April, 1 902, in the building of the Ministers 1 Committee, 
Balmashov killed the reactionary Minister Sipjagin. In a marginal 
note on the report of the assassination of Sipjagin, the Czar wrote : 
' ' Irreplaceable loss." It was the first of a long series of similar marginal 
remarks with which the Czar annotated reports informing him of the 
murders of some of his best servants. 

Despite these warnings and tragic indications of imminent disaster, 
the monarch's castle was enveloped in deep tranquillity. The con- 
flicting feelings of the Emperor could find no way to the hearts of his 
subjects. In that mass of ministers and courtiers surrounding the 
Czar there was not one to interpret these storm signals correctly. 
The only one who could have done so was Witte, but the harsh voice 
of the Minister of Finance was wholly unsuited to influence the reticent 
and fastidious Czar. 

Indeed, the voice of the people only rarely penetrated the seclusion 
of Czarskoje Selo, and only rarely a new face appeared at the quiet 
Court. The Czar made few new acquaintances during the years of his 
reign. Indeed, he did not even meet many of his highest officials and 
dignitaries before he actually appointed them. The more threatening 
the storm warnings in the Russian heavens, the cooler the Czar behaved 
when, emerging from the peaceful contentment of family life, he 
stepped into the curiously chaotic world lurking outside. 

Ren6 Fiilop-Miller, with his innate gift for understanding the feelings 
of others, describes the relations of the imperial couple to the outer 
world as follows : 

" As long as Nicholas and Alexandra moved inside their own magic 
circle they were beautiful, happy, good and charming people. The few 
who were admitted to the seclusion of their home admired the beauty 
of the Empress, the frankly joyous glances of the Czar, and spoke with 



IN THE SHADOW OF THE GIANT 95 

sincere admiration of the attractive traits of the imperial couple. 
Those who met them outside their quiet home and observed them 
at receptions, festivities, and other official affairs, and who were not 
deceived by appearances, recognized immediately that here were two 
shy, timid, and eternally embarrassed people." 

A courageous voice occasionally penetrated the magic circle of the 
imperial private life. Occasionally the Czar found, among the usual 
submissive reports, a document informing him unequivocally of the 
state of his country. One of these loiters, dated 1902, read : 

11 Your Imperial Majesty. I do not want to die without telling you 
what I think of your past activities ; what they should have been 
according to my conviction ; how much good your government could 
bring to millions of people and to yourself, but how much harm it will 
cause if you continue according to present indications. One-third of 
Russia is subjected to the so-called ' state of intensified protection/ 
which is akin to absolute lawlessness. The horde of secret and official 
police is increasing iuce .;antly. The prisons, places of exile, and the 
penitentiaries arc not only overcrowded with hundreds of thousands of 
common criminals, but also with political offenders. Censorship resorts 
to arbitrary measures that are worse than those of forty years ago. 
Never before have religious persecutions occurred witli such frequency 
or been pursued with such cruelly as now, and these conditions grow 
worse daily. In the cities and in the great centres of industry, troops 
have been concentrated, their loaded rifles aimed against the people. 
Many places have seen the shedding of brothers' blood. Further 
bloodshed is in store all over ; it is inescapable. Because of this whole 
cruel administration the peasantry those hundred million people 
on whom the power of Russia rests arc growing poorer each year, so 
that famine has now become a regular, almost normal, manifestation." 

The author of this letter was not shackled in irons. The menials 
of the Czar did not drag him off to Siberia. The wrath of the Emperor 
did not fall upon his venerable head. The writer of the letter was 
Count Leo Tolstoy, and the Czar, who on quiet evenings enjoyed 
reading the works of the great poet to his wife, ordered that Tolstoy 
be granted unlimited freedom of speech. 

Soon thereafter the adjutant-general of the Czar arrived in Yasnaya 
Polyana. The gracious words of the monarch were repeated in the 
study of the poet. Deeply stirred by Tolstoy's letter, Nicholas II 
invited the Count to visit him at the Imperial Palace in St. Petersburg. 
Tolstoy's words were to acquaint the Czar with the Liberal spirit in the 
same manner in which Dostoevsky's words had conveyed to the young 
grandduke the spirit of God-imposed autocracy. 

The call of the Czar found no echo. The poet of gentleness refused to 
enter the palace of the imperator. Nevertheless, the Czar's words moved 
the descendant of the old boyars. As once, in days of danger, the 
boyars Tolstoy had rushed to the assistance of their Czar with men 
and mounts, so now the poet Tolstoy dispatched his son to the palace 
of the sovereign to perform the proud duty of a vassal, eager to warn 



g6 NICHOLAS II 

his master. And as once the gates of the Kremlin were opened to the 
boyars Tolstoy, so now the doors of the imperial study opened to 
Count Leo Tolstoy, son of the poet. 

Czar and Count faced each other. In the quiet of the imperial study 
the words of the son mirrored the thoughts of his father. And even as 
the messenger to the monarch spoke, the shadow of the sage of Yasnaya 
Polyana loomed behind him, invisible but none the less gigantic. 
A strange ideology was expounded to the Emperor and Autocrat of All 
the Russias. This broad-faced young man spoke of the God-imposed 
humility of a true Christian, of Moses's commandments, of the duty of 
gentleness and consideration. Count Leo Tolstoy's speech conjured 
up before the Czar's ryes visions of Christian saints, who in pious 
ecstasy had preached the spirit of asceticism to the monarchs of old. 
Nicholas listened to the young Count's words with utmost attention. 

This messenger of a poet-prophet propounded strange, nigh incom- 
prehensible, matters ! Now and then his words reminded the Czar of 
the inarticulate babbling of a babe. Yet Nicholas sensed that, for the 
first time in many decades, a Russian Czar actually was facing a man 
whose thoughts and deeds epitomized the Russian people and the 
Russian soul. 

Was it respect for the Czar that had robbed the poet's son of clear 
speech ? Or was it rather that two worlds met, with no bridge to connect 
them ? In that fateful moment when a czar asked the advice of a poet 
he was told about the vanity of all things terrestrial, of the necessity of 
spiritual asceticism, of the sinfulncss of mundane pleasures. In 
wonderment the Czar heard the Count's strange entreaty that, in order 
to save Russia, he must renounce his most trivial earthly enjoyments. 
He must no longer partake of meat and must, abstain from smoking and 
drinking. By purifying his body he would bring purification to his 
soul. 

The Czar silently studied the earnest young man. Was it possible 
that Russia could be saved by such measures ? Should the Anointed 
One really embark upon a pilgrimage throughout his realm, clothed in 
a hair shirt ? Verily, the rulers of heathens had done penance for their 
lack of faith by castigations. But was the Czar a pagan ? Was not his 
realm a Kingdom of God ? Had he not received the crown from the 
hand of the Lord ? 

The Count continued. The words of the prophet faded and the 
voice of the Liberal became audible now. Limitation of the Czar's 
power and a constitution ! How often the Czar had heard these very 
words from the lips of Liberal politicians ! Tolstoy's broad face reminded 
the Czar of the old boyars. At that time, too many centuries ago 
when the old Tolstoys surrounded the throne of the Czar, the boyars 
had demanded a limitation of the God-imposed omnipotence of the 
monarch. 

Nicholas II closed his eyes. Perhaps he thought then of the one 
czar who had not received the crown of the realm from the hand of the 
Lord. That had been in the year 1606 when the rabble of Moscow had 



IN THE SHADOW OF THE GIANT <)7 

rushed through the narrow streets to the Kremlin ; when, in Red 
Square, the body of the false Demetrius had been burned to cinders ; 
and when, in wild intoxication, the populace had shouted up to the 
Kremlin : "We want Prince Vassily Slmisky for our Czar ! " Sur- 
rounded by venerable boyars, the Prince had appeared in the Red 
Square. Amid the jubilation of the mob he had received the blood- 
stained crown of the Czar. Under the stern glances of the boyars he 
had entered Uspensky Cathedral. Filled with anxious humiliation, 
he had kissed the cross, and had rendered the heterodox oath not to 
do anything of which the boyars might disapprove. Like a thief, who 
had stolen the throne from the Lord's altar, Vassily had been willing 
to share his omnipotence with the accomplices of his crime. But 
God's righteous wrath had descended upon the new Czar arid the people 
who had renounced the tenets of autocracy. Famine and suffering 
had enveloped all Russia. Revolts had shaken the very foundation 
of the realm, and a host of enemies had destroyed the country. In 
cowardice, the warriors of the unworthy Czar had fled the field of battle. 
The army of the Polish king Vladislav had advanced as far as the Holy 
Kremlin. Bodies had covered the streets of Moscow, and human 
flesh had become the food of the rebellious people. Four long years 
God had chastised the country. Then Czar Vassily had abandoned the 
Kremlin, thrown his crown at the feet of the traitorous boyars, and 
locked himself up in a distant monastery where, as a humble monk, he 
had prayed for forgiveness of his sins. 

The people had rued their sacrilege and, in manifold tribulations, the 
radiancy of absolutism eventually had become clear to them again. 
Ringing church bells had resounded in the Kremlin. The incense of 
prayers had risen to the throne of the Lord, and the chalice of the 
unfathomable grace of God had been emptied over the new autocrat, 
sixteen-year-old Michael, first Czar of the House of Romanov. . . . 

Nicholas II raised his head. For two hours young Count Tolstoy 
had propounded the words of his father. Although the eyes of the 
Czar roved about the room, his gaze seemed to be probing the depths 
of his own soul. The broad face of Tolstoy appeared before him as in a 
dream. When at last he spoke, the Czar's voice sounded dull, as if 
coming from the distance of past centuries. He said : "I swore in 
Uspensky Cathedral never to share the power entrusted to me by God. 
I must keep my oath. Immaculately 1 received the burden of autocracy 
and immaculately 1 shall hand it on to my heir. 1 ' 

The solemn words fell from the lips of the Czar like an old, holy 
incantation, and as they were spoken, everything crashed to the ground : 
the words of Tolstoy, the memorials of the nobility, the shots of the 
terrorists, the supplications of the guilds. It was this expressed con- 
viction which, like an escutcheon wrought of steel, Nicholas II held 
up for twenty-four years against all warnings, exhortations and 
supplications* 



CHAPTER TWELVE 

THE CONJURATION OF THE CZAREVITCH 

ALONG, rambling, three-story palace, surrounded by a 
large, bare garden. The eight Gothic columns in front, 
and the severe delineation of the portals, breathed the 
spirit of the gifted architect who planned them. Its ground 
reclaimed from the Finnish swamps by the excruciating labour of 
untold thousands, the palace, like the majestic statue of Peter the 
Great and many splendid structures along the banks of the Neva, was 
part and parcel of the austere magnificence of the imperial capital city 
of St. Petersburg. The Italian Kastrelli had erected this palace for the 
baroque festivities of the brilliant Catherine. But the Empress had 
decided that the edifice should be used as a finishing school where 
daughters of the nobility might be instructed in the graces of Court life, 
and where their beauty might receive an ultimate polish. Subsequently, 
generation after generation of Russia's most beautiful and high-born 
maidens grew up in the palatial Smolny Institute, officers of the Guard 
and courtiers dreaming of their pulchritude. 

In the garden surrounding the Institute, an old, enamoured Emperor 
once hid behind the trees, stretching their branches desolately towards 
a bleak sky. At night a young girl would sneak out of the school 
and until the break of dawn His Majesty, Alexander II, and the 
youthful Princess Dolgoruky would wander up and down the lanes 
of the park in tender embrace. In the early morning hours the Princess 
would creep back to her room, the anxious glances of the Emperor 
following her. He was no less intimidated by the strict teachers than 
he was by his future consort. 

Toward the end of the nineteenth century a future Queen of Italy 
and two future Russian grandduchesses all three daughters of King 
Nikita of Montenegro emerged from the Institute. Their royal father 
had once been mentioned by Alexander III as Russia's only depend- 
able ally. Wishing to flaunt his utter contempt for the democratic 
West, he had declared publicly at a banquet that nobody could resist 
the united forces of Russia and Montenegro. The words of Alexander III 
had involved an obligation. Henceforth the sun of imperial favour 
shone on the dark Balkan gorge which is the homeland of the royal 
family of Niegush. 

The imperial goodwill exerted a magnetic attraction, and soon, 
in the foggy streets of St. Petersburg, in marble palaces and 
salons, the Nordic aristocrats were to gaze admiringly upon the three 
black-haired, dark-eyed daughters of the Montenegrin King. Czar 
Alexander III had flung open the hallowed gates of Smolny Institute 

98 



THE CONJURATION OF THE CZAREVITCH 99 

to the princesses Helena, Milizia, and Anastasia. Once their innate 
wildness had been curbed and they had achieved a semblance of poise 
under the restraining influence of the Smolny school, the three exotic 
princesses lent enchanting colour to the imperial balls at the Winter 
Palace. 

Their Southern beauty, tempered by the frosts of St. Petersburg, 
presently attracted the ardent glances of European princes. Princess 
Helena married the young Italian crown prince, Victor Emmanuel. 
Milizia and Anastasia remained in Russia and although this con- 
stituted a certain offence against the laws of the imperial Court 
married the grandducal brothers Peter Nicholaievitch and Nicholai 
Nicholaievitch. 

The hot blood of the Balkans still pounded beneath the cool elegance 
of these two grandduchcsscs. Although their Montenegrin wildness 
had been controlled by basilisk-eyed governesses at Smolny Institute 
for years, nevertheless it was firmly rooted in the souls of the two 
sisters. St. Petersburg's society, which condescendingly referred to 
the two princesses as " those Montenegrin girls," offered too limited a 
field for their effervescent Southern joi de vivre. The fiery blood of 
Niegush threatened to congeal in a world of damp streets and cold 
hearts. Accustomed to the deep gorges and dark abysses of their home- 
land, the formless exhalations of the fog arising over the Gulf of 
Finland set the princesses dreaming of intoxicating wonders and 
breathtaking adventures. The frost-bitten world of St. Petersburg 
made them yearn for freedom, if only in spirit. 

Around the turn of the century, within the Court circles of St. 
Petersburg, such a flight from restraint was possible only by attending 
spiritistic stances and table levitations. And this was the route which 
eventually revealed to the Montenegrin sisters the lonely soul of the 
Czarina. Alexandra Feodorovna, too, felt herself alien and misunder- 
stood in St. Petersburg. Those haughty granddukes and courtiers 
who refused to recognize the brunette princesses of Montenegro as 
genuine royalty, also refused to look upon the little Hessian princess 
as a genuine Czarina. 

Milizia and Anastasia, however, accorded the young Empress an 
Oriental, almost slave-like devotion. To them the Czarina's unim- 
portant Hessian background was completely blotted out by the purple 
cloak she wore now. The eager admiration of Milizia and Anastasia 
assumed strange forms at times. If the Czarina felt ill, the grand- 
duchesses served as her nurses, willingly performing the most intimate 
tasks. Since they were together with the Czarina frequently often 
for many days on end they won her confidence and affection, 
soul of the Czarina yearned for that warmth and sympathy 
St. Petersburg withheld from her. Despairing over the 
everyday life, she craved communion with spirits to wh 
unburden her imperial woes. Especially at that time 
soul was filled with ineluctable sorrow. 

Alexandra Feodorovna was a beautiful 




IOO NICHOLAS TI 

beautiful empress of her lime. In the eyes of all men Russians and 
foreigners alike she appeared to be the happiest woman on earth. 
After all little Princess Alix had made the most marvellous match 
possible. Now she had palaces and servants ; more, hers was a tender 
and loving husband, anxious to fulfil her every word and desire, 
even her every thought. 

Everything in the life of the Czarina seemed to indicate that she was 
the luckiest and most contented woman of all time. Yet her life was 
one long chain of disappointments, misfortunes and sufferings. A 
tragic and merciless fate pursued Princess Alix from the very moment 
she had put her foot on Russian soil, until that dark day when she 
descended into the cellar of Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg. 

The grief that oppressed the Empress, around the turn of the 
century, was indeed great, and man knew not how to assuage it. The 
Empress had been unable to fulfil her full duties as the mother of 
her country ; she had not given her husband, and the Empire, an heir 
to the throne. Four daughters healthy, happy, attractive had seen 
the light of day, but the longed-for heir had not yet come. Under the 
iron Paulian law, regulating succession, daughters of a czar were for ever 
excluded from the throne. 

The four empresses who had ruled over Russia in the past had left 
painful and sad memories behind them. The slightest intimation 
from the imperial couple that, perhaps, one of their daughters might 
rule, some day, aroused such resistance in reactionaiy and conservative 
circles that Czar and Czarina promptly renounced the idea. 

In many hours of intimate conversation, the Empress revealed her 
wretchedness to the Montenegrin princesses. Like them she believed 
that where mundane remedies proved unavailing, assistance could be 
invoked from the world of the supernatural. 

Grandduchess Milizia was more closely connected with occultism 
than anybody else in her circle. Together with the Czarina she had 
attended many spiritistic table levitations, and it was now decided 
to set these secret powers in motion. In 1903 the Grandduchess 
sojourned at Compfegne. Colonel Count Muraviev-Amursky was a 
member of the select coterie which congregated at her villa each night. 
Through him she met " Philippe, the Miracle Man." 

" This Philippe," a contemporary writer states, " was originally a 
butcher's helper and his real name was Nisier-Vachot. Strange as it 
may seem for a man plying that trade, Philippe was a dreamer. For 
nights on end he pored over books dealing with spiritism, magic, and 
mysticism. Eventually, these leanings toward the supernatural became 
so pronounced that his disgusted employer discharged him." 

Philippe thenceforth dedicated every minute of his time to his strange 
pursuit. He settled down in Lyons where he plied the craft of a 
miracle man. After a few chance successes he experienced a number 
of failures, whereupon the Liberal Government enjoined him from 
practising further. It was this development which brought the former 
butcher's helper, Nisier-Vachot now calling himself Monsieur Philippe 



THE CONJURATION OF THE CZAREVITCH 101 

to the attention of the French Conservatives. He moved to Paris 
and presently surrounded himself with a group of people who managed 
to combine faith in the tenets of political conservatism with credulity 
in the tricks of a spiritist. 

Grandduchess Milizia instantly fell under the spell of the Miracle Man. 
She concluded that a magician, recognized by French aristocracy, also 
would be able to capture St. Petersburg society. Thus the erstwhile 
butcher's helper, accepting the Grandduchess's invitation, arrived in 
St. Petersburg. There, at the small summer place of the Grandduchess 
in Peterhof, strange events presently came to pass. On quiet after- 
noons a select circle of friends assembled in the grandducal villa, among 
them Nicholas II, Alexandra Feodorovna, Grandduchess Anastasia, 
Granddukc Nicholai Nicholaievitch and Father John of Kronstadt. 

In the twilight of magical incantations, the initiates lost all 
touch with reality. With the gates to a supernatural world opened 
wide, the guests were not at all surprised when, one day, the voice of 
Czar Alexander III, after some Conservative admonitions paren- 
thetically, albeit in all earnestness reminded his imperial son : "Do 
not forget to give money, much money, to the King of Montenegro, 
and to good Monsieur Philippe, too." 

Enraptured, deeply stirred, Czar and Czarina accepted all the strange 
visions which Philippe's power conjured up for them. Surely a man 
who could invoke the spirit of Alexander III from the past, also could 
wrest the soul of the unborn Czarevitch from the future. 

The Czar himself did not withhold recognition from the Miracle Man. 
"Contrary to all laws," writes Witte, "M. Philippe secretly was 
honoured by the St. Petersburg Military Academy of Medicine with the 
degree of Doctor, together with the rank of Counsellor of State. There- 
upon, the blessed Philippe repaired to a military tailor to order for 
himself the uniform of an army physician." 

Now that he was Counsellor of State and a full-fledged physician, 
M. Philippe was in a position to prove his supernatural powers to the 
Czarina. He moved into the Winter Palace and immediately embarked 
upon a series of mystic invocations, aimed at blessing the Empress with 
a son. Surrounded by a Court that disliked her, and pursued by the 
reproachful glances of the populace, the distracted Czarina willingly 
placed herself under Philippe's magic influence. In prayers, in 
chastisements, and in the intonation of psalms, she implored God's 
blessing upon her womb. Before long, shaken by spasms, twitching in 
every fibre, the Empress felt a magic, supernatural power take hold 
of her body. A benign smile lighted up her pale face. The spirits at 
last proved victorious in these innumerable meditations and the 
Empress rejoiced in the discovery that her womb had been blessed for 
the fifth time. 

"The Czarina," Witte says, " began to wear wide skirts. During 
the last few months of her pregnancy she discarded her corset, and 
everybody noticed that she had grown stouter. The Emperor glowed 
with happiness. The pregnancy was officially announced. TheEmpress 



102 NICHOLAS II 

did not receive visitors any longer. The fateful months dragged by and 
St. Petersburg wailed for the guns of SS. Peter-Paul Fortress to 
announce the birth of a son or a daughter. With the momentous event 
expected hourly, the Court obstetrician, Dr. Ott, moved into the 
palace with his assistant. When watchful waiting proved of no avail, 
Dr. Oti implored the imperial couple to agree to an examination of 
the Empress. Alexandra Feodorovna refused at first, but eventually 
acquiesced, and it was then that Ott ascertained that the Czarina was 
not pregnant at all. Expressed suitably, this disappointing news 
was conveyed to the country. 11 

This tragi-comic interlude certainly did not serve to enhance the 
Empress's popularity. However, the imperial couple accepted this 
new misfortune with remarkable fortitude, and not for one moment did 
the hysterical pregnancy of the Empress disturb their marital bliss. 
Czar and Czarina believed that this fresh disappointment was only 
another trial which God had imposed upon the Czar who, like Job, 
must suffer in all humility in order to be rewarded a hundredfold. 

Curiously, their faith in M. Philippe remained unshaken. He was 
dismissed with all honours, and the many gifts with which the Czarina 
overwhelmed him moved the former butcher boy to show his appre- 
ciation. Before his departure he presented the Czarina with an icon 
to which a little bell was attached. Staring before him, as one be- 
witched, the charlatan explained that the little bell would unfailingly 
ring each time a person of evil thought sought to approach Their 
Majesties. The Empress, still under Philippe's hypnotic spell, believed 
as firmly in the little bell as she believed in his prediction that, some- 
how and some time, Heaven would send her a mighty helper who 
would stand by her in all her terrestrial tribulations. 

The Miracle Man departed from St. Petersburg and the longing of 
the Czarina remained unfulfilled. Nevertheless, she clung to the 
supernatural, regarding it as her only hope. Steeped in dream-like 
visions, the Czarina prayed for admission to the hidden world of 
spirits which alone could bless her with the desired heir to the throne. 
The Czarina's wish, originally aired only in the most intimate family 
circle, now was discussed everywhere. Courtiers, popes, wonder 
workers took council with one another to solve this baffling problem. 
They well knew that he who could wrest the future Czarevitch from the 
celestial powers would be assured of imperial gratitude without end 

In the silent nights of spring, 1903, the inhabitants of St. Petersburg 
observed a small boat gliding across the leaden waters of the Neva. 
The man in the boat was none other than the Czar, pondering deeply. 
Drenched in moonlight, he stared dreamily at the ripples of the river. 
As he rowed, the silvery drops that trickled from the oars assumed 
strange and fantastic forms in the moonlight. 

The people of St. Petersburg followed their ruler with sad and 
thoughtful glances. Everybody knew what troubled Little Father Czar 
as he moved along in the boat. During those dreamy moonlight trips 
the Czar thought of eternity, of God, and of the son which Heaven 



THE CONJURATION OF THE CZAREVITCH 1 03 

withheld from him. Before his half-closed eyes arose the robust figure 
of his best friend, his grandducal cousin Alexander. In the years 
during which the Czarina bore her imperial husband four daughters, the 
Grandduke had become the proud father of four healthy boys. 
The envy that filled the soul of the Czar almost turned into hatred. 
The Czar thought wistfully, too, of his bi other Michael who, in all 
likelihood, would ascend the throne of the czars after him. Super- 
stitious fear had prevented Nicholas TI from permitting the legitimate 
heir to the throne to assume the title of Czarevitch. Nicholas believed 
that by doing so he would admit publicly that he had definitely given 
up hope of being blessed with an heir. 

However, not every means had been exhausted, nor all the spirits 
invoked. Now and then, during sleepless nights, the Czar commanded 
the Court priest, Father Theophan. to visit him. In conversations with 
the wily pope, the Czar, as supreme leader of the Church, solicited the 
help of the Orthodox clergy. For the terrestrial sufferings of his 
master, the pope had an appropriate theological answer. What the 
Czar and the Czarina lacked, according to his opinion, was a powerful 
mediator before the throne of the Almighty. Nobody could fill such 
a role better than the venerable Seraphim, a pious ascetic who, during 
the second half of the nineteenth century, had died in Sarov in the 
Government of Tombovsk. The venerable Seraphim was waiting out- 
side the gates of the heavenly garden since his death, but only the 
powerful word of the Czar could grant him permission to join the happy 
throng of Greek Orthodox saints. Once admitted, the grateful Seraphim 
would exert all the powers of a saint in Heaven in the Czar's interest. 

With tired, slightly reddened eyes, the Czar watched the silvery drops 
trickling from the oars. In their sparkle he envisioned the history and 
the sufferings of the ascetic. Seraphim had withdrawn from humanity. 
He had lived in the woods in the neighbourhood of Sarov. There he 
had preached to the peasants, blessed the barren women, and bathed in 
the little stream which, ever after, was famous for its healing propen- 
sities. From all over, peasants had come in droves to visit the ascetic. 
But Seraphim had not been satisfied merely to preach within the circle 
of pious believers. In mystic exultation he had made prophecies of 
Russia's future. According to a legend at the imperial Court there 
was a document somewhere forecasting events during the reign of 
Nicholas II. 

The Czar now gave orders to locate the document. Surprisingly 
enough the prophetic writ was not discovered in a distant monastery, 
but in the archives of the Police Department of the Ministry of the 
Interior. The document read : " At the beginning of the reign oi this 
monarch many plagues will harass the people. There will be an ill- 
fated war and great confusion will overtake the realm. Father will 
arise against son and brother against brother. However, the second 
half of his reign will be happier and the ruler will be granted a long life." 

It was less these prophecies than the incessant pleadings of the 
Czarina which induced Nicholas II to agree to Seraphim's canonization. 



104 NICHOLAS II 

The Minister of Interior Plehve, with whom the Czar discussed this 
plan, cried with emotion. In his disagreeable voice the statesman 
avowed how deeply he longed to shed pious tears over Seraphim's 
bones. To be sure, canonization was not within the scope of a Minister 
of the Interior, but entirely the prerogative of the Church, ruled by the 
iron hand of the Chief Procurator of the Holy Synod, old Pobedonostsev. 

Pobedonostsev's amazement was considerable when he was invited 
to attend an all-highest luncheon, one day. The powerful, evil old 
man had been in the imperial couple's disfavour for a very long time, 
and only respect for his past achievements and his age had prevented 
Nicholas II from dismissing the cunning priest. During luncheon the 
Czar inquired of Pobedonostsev how he would regard the canonization 
of Seraphim. The deep-set, piercing eyes of Pobedonostsev viewed the 
imperial couple in disapproval. His dry, parchment-like skin gave him 
the appearance of a mummy. With quiet precision he explained that 
the Holy Synod could agree to a canonization only if the man to be thus 
honoured was dead at least one hundred years, and after it had been 
ascertained that his body had not decomposed in the grave. Moreover, 
the Holy Synod first would have to make investigations as to the pious 
life of the late Seraphim. 

The Empress flushed furiously throughout Pobcdonostsev's recital. 
With unmitigated hatred she regarded this old man who sought 
to cheat her out of her son. When Pobedonostsev had had his say, 
his snake-like eyes rested on the Czarina questioningly ; Alexandra 
Feodorovna threw back her head defiantly and announced : " The 
Emperor can do everything ! 

Pobedonostsev bowed without uttering a word. 

Since the Emperor was omnipotent, Seraphim was canonized. Enor- 
mous import was attached to this development. In fact, courtiers 
referred to the canonization on the I2th of August, 1903, as the most 
important event in the Russia of the twentieth century. 

Court and people, society and clergy, assembled at the grave of the 
new saint. Minister Plehve, who had changed his faith twice during 
his lifetime, knelt before Seraphim's bones, shedding tears of childlike 
emotion. The ornamented pall for the coffin had been embroidered by 
Prince Putjatin with his own aristocratic fingers. Plehve's tears won 
for him the unlimited confidence of the Czar, and the embroidery of 
Prince Putjatin brought him the dignity of Vice-Chief Master of 
Ceremonies. Other courtiers had dedicated candles and carpets, bells 
and altars. The brilliant career of many an official and courtier was 
incepted that day as he prayed piously over Seraphim's bones. 

More than three thousand members of the Court and the nobility 
assembled in Sarov to enjoy a refreshing bath in the holy spring. The 
sun beat down mercilessly upon the wide steppe. The dry, dusty 
earth swarmed with thousands of cripples, insane, deaf mutes, maimed 
and pilgrims. The heavy air was filled with the pious litanies of the 
psalms. The peasants recounted the miracles of the new saint to one 
another. 



THE CONJURATION OF THE CZAREVITCH IO5 

In the burning heat of that August day the Czar strode across the 
steppe crowded with pilgrims. The afflicted, babbling their prayers, 
exposed stricken limbs and revolting sores. In the eyes of the people, 
Czar and saint had merged into a miracle-performing oneness. The 
maimed and the halt and the blind bowed before the Czar, seeking to 
calcft his glance, and partake of his blessings. A meeting with the 
Anointed One promised the same miracle as a prayer over the bones 
of the saint. Nicholas II sensed that here, in the dry steppe of Sarov, 
he was expected to cast off all human vestiges. He, whom God had 
anointed, was transformed into one resembling God. And while the 
courtiers prayed to St. Seraphim for medals and dignities, the Czar 
dispensed his blessings to the people. The sick and the suffering 
rejoiced when they caught the eye of the Czar, and presently, before 
the astonished glances of the Court popes, the wide steppe of Sarov 
became the scene of an Oriental-pagan mystery. 

On the evening of the solemn canonization a gala dinner was given 
in honour of the imperial couple. The invited courtiers and dignitaries 
could not fail to observe the red blotches that stained the Czarina's 
pale face and her unsteady glances roving, absent-mindedly, across the 
hall. To all appearances her breath was belaboured as if she sought to 
fight off an overwhelming emotion. 

Shortly before midnight the Czarina arose from the table. While 
the gala dinner continued, Alexandra Feodorovna, accompanied by an 
elderly lady-in-waiting, walked through the woods to the old spring. 
Dressed for a Court function she knelt at the holy water. The moon's 
beams illuminated her face, now raised to Heaven. Her eyelids half- 
closed, she whispered a fervent prayer. At precisely that moment the 
high clergy of the country prayed at the grave of the new saint for the 
same miracle. Even as choirs at the nearby monastery sent their last 
litanies toward the heavens the Czarina undressed and immersed herself 
in the miracle-working spring of St. Seraphim. 

The nocturnal mystery brought fulfilment. The miracle happened. 
What no exorcist had been able to accomplish had been granted upon 
the mediation of a simple Russian saint. Exactly one year after 
that memorable night, on the i2th of August, 1904, the Czarina bore a 
son who was christened Alexius. In a solemn meeting the Senate 
declared the newly born Grandduke Czarevitch and heir to the Russian 
throne. 

All the officials and courtiers who had attended the canonization now 
rushed to the palace in droves. Similarly, as in the year before at Sarov, 
the Czar strode through the pious multitude. This time, however, the 
Emperor not only extended his blessings and gracious glances ; 
the open palms of the courtiers were filled with medals and appoint- 
ments, with high pensions and other proofs of imperial grace. The 
same day there was placed on the wall of the Czar's study a large icon 
of the Holy Seraphim of Sarov, ambassador of His Majesty, the Czar, 
at the Court of God the Almighty. 

A year later the newly appointed Chief Procurator of the Holy 



106 NICHOLAS II 

Synod, Prince Obolcnsky, in a conversation with the Czar, dared to 
express slight doubts as to St. Seraphim's true holiness. Austerely, 
the Czar expounded: "As far as the holiness and the miracle of 
St. Seraphim is concerned, I personally am so strongly convinced 
of it that nothing and nobody can shake my faith. Why, wasn't 
I given incontestable proof ? " 

Through all the convulsions of ensuing years, through wars, revolu- 
tions, and exile, Nicholas maintained this firm belief. No misfortune 
could ever shake it. To the very last he looked with devoted 
reverence upon the icon of his ambassador at the throne of God. 



CHAPTER THIRTEEN 

THE FLEA BITE 

A5TERELY, The Ancient Chronicle records : 
Mauritius, Emperor of Byzantium, ascended the throne 
in the year of the Lord 582 and was a good man and a just 
ruler. His reign was one of splendour for his realm. One 
day, however, the Emperor committed a grave wrong. His victorious 
army, after laying Asia waste, was waxing restless and he therefore 
sent it to do battle in Europe. There misfortune soon overtook it. 
The army was captured by the Barbarians, a disaster the Emperor 
himself had brought on by clever scheming. He had refused to dispatch 
reinforcements to his jeopardized army because, to his mind, his 
own wanton and rebellious warriors presented a more dangerous 
threat to him than the savage Barbarians of far countries. Therefore, 
when the Barbarians demanded high ransom for the captured army, 
Mauritius indulged in such protractive negotiations that the enraged 
enemy ultimately slew all their prisoners. 

Then the Emperor's conscience began to trouble him. Knowing 
himself to be responsible for so much bloodshed, he trembled at the 
thought of the punishment which the Beyond unquestionably held 
in store for him. In his great anguish, Mauritius sent letters to all the 
patriarchs, bishops, and holy ascetics. In all humility the remorseful 
Emperor requested these pious souls to pray to God to let him endure 
all the suffering awaiting him in the Beyond, while he still dwelled on 
earth, so that he would be forgiven his sins after death. Accordingly, 
the entire clergy implored God fervently, in prayers and castigations, 
for the Emperor's punishment. 

The Almighty granted the prayers of the holy Church. A devout 
ascetic revealed to the Emperor that even a sinner partakes in God's 
eternal justice. " You will be admitted to eternal happiness," the 
ascetic said, " however, in the course of your terrestrial life, you shall 
lose your realm amidst suffering and shame." Overwhelmed with 
gratitude, the Emperor rushed to the altar of the Lord and, throughout 
his realm, the pious exulted in the joy of their Emperor. 

Presently the warrior Phokas arose against the Emperor, and with 
him the entire army. Mauritius did nothing to crush the revolt and, 
eventually, he and his family fell captives to the bloody rebels. 
Mauritius's seven children were decapitated before his very eyes. As 
each head rolled in the sand the Emperor cried : " Righteous art Thou, 
O Almighty, and righteous is Thy judgment." The last of his family, 
he met his fate bravely. . . . 

During the white nights of St. Petersburg, the Czar would thumb the 

107 



108 NICHOLAS II 

old, yellowed tome. The words of The Ancient Chronicle resounded 
in his ears like the heavy beats of celestial justice. The golden spire 
of the Admiralty landmark of St. Petersburg loomed outside his 
window like a giant index finger raised in a gesture of warning. . ^ 

Thirteen centuries separated the Czar from the Emperor MaiH'itius 
who, fearing rebellion, had sent forth his subjects into the wild country 
of the Barbarians. God's justice had annihilated the entire family of 
the sinner, who, for the sake of power, had sacrificed his people. 

Nicholas put The Ancient Chronicle aside. It appeared to him as a 
strange, unreal saga. There was no comparison whatever between the 
Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias and the iniquitous Emperor 
Mauritius of old ! To be sure he himself had just sent his Christian 
army against the yellow Barbarians in the Far East. But, of course, 
there was not one whit of truth in the revolutionaries' calumnies that 
the Czar had dispatched his army merely to salvage his personal 
fortune, invested in the Far East ; or that Minister of Interior Plehvc 
hoped to stave off revolution by waging a victorious war. Certainly 
the Czar was neither worried about his Far Eastern investments nor 
about the revolutionaries. God's own will had pressed the sword into 
the hand of the Orthodox Emperor, and God's will unquestionably 
would bring about the victory of a Christian army over a host of 
heathens. 

The Czar pressed his pale face against the cold window-pane. Out- 
side, the wind was churning the snow while the clouds above the Palace 
Square assumed the shape of spectres. And spectre-like, covered with 
snow, there now inarched across the ice-covered steppes of Manchuria 
the soldiers the Czar had commanded to war against Japan. 

The war which the Czar proclaimed in the White Hall of the Winter 
Palace, on the 8th of February, 1904, had been planned by Minister 
of Interior Plehve, in the solitude of his study. During long winter 
evenings, Plehvc studied the reports of his governors, sleuths, and police 
officials. From these reports he pieced together the picture of a threat- 
ening, inescapable danger. With pedantic precision the Minister jotted 
down the storm warnings of an approaching disaster. His cold eyes 
glanced over the long roster of terroristic acts. His hand trembled as, 
time and again, he entered new figures and names. Throughout 
sleepless nights the Minister drew up the bloody balance of his 
government : 

September, 1903. Rioting because of the Russification of the 
Armenian Church in Kars, Baku, Elizabethpol, and Nucha. Railway 
strike in Borisoglebsk ; execution of four revolutionaries in Elizabeth- 
pol. Martial law in five cities in Trans-Caucasia. Discovery of a 
secret arsenal in Ufa. 

October, 1903. Assassination of the President of the Court of Ufa. 
Severe injuries suffered by the Stadtholder in the Caucasus, Prince 
Golizyn. Martial law in the north-western governments. Strike 
in Reval. Bomb explosion in Riga. 

November, 1903. Assassination of the President of Police of 



THE FLEA BITE T0 

Bjalostok. Peasant revolt in the Governments of Charkov and Pskov. 
Student revolts in Kiev. Unrest in Nicolaievsks and Bachmet. 
Anti-governmental demonstrations in Charkov. Execution of two 
t ot rorists in Cherson. 

December, 1903. Student unrest in Warsaw and Charkov. Peasant 
revolts'iu the southern Governments. 

January, 1904. Assassination of Baron Korff, Governor of Lomja, 
and of the President of Police of Kiev. 

Plchve's eyes narrowed. The light in his study seemed suddenly 
dim. He stepped to the window. Down below he observed a secret- 
service man walking back and forth. An armoured coach was awaiting 
him in front of his house. For some time now whenever the Minister 
made a date 1 for the following day it had become his custom to add 
melaricholically : "... provided I am still alive." 

To Plchve, the only way out of the labyrinth of inner political 
difficulties was a short but victorious war. To his mind, the flutter 
of the flags would drown the grumblings of the dissatisfied. The heroism 
of the army would win the throne anew for the monarch before the 
eyes of all sceptics ; before the triumphal march of the victorious army 
through the streets of St. Petersburg, the phantom of a revolution 
would flounder and crash to the ground. Because he knew the Czar's 
character so well, the Minister decided upon the Far East as the object 
of a foreign-political victory over an inner-political enemy. 

The soul of Nicholas II was imbued with a mystic love for the Far 
Eastern regions of his realm. To him the core of Russia's power did not 
spring from the narrow confines of the European west, but was anchored 
in the endless expanse of the Orient. It was the Far East which held 
the future'glory of his realm, and it was the Siberian peasantry who were 
best equipped to lay the pagan world of the Orient at the feet of the 
Christian Czar. Thus, new laurels would enhance the brilliant crown of 
Russian absolutism. 

Korea, Manchuria, Tibet calm, distant countries, crowded with 
strange secrets and enticing goals lured the Czar. Indeed these 
magical worlds seemed to be actually waiting for the Czar's sesame. 
After the Chino-Japanese War, when the Celestials relinquished the 
peninsula of Kuantun to the Japanese, in the peace treaty of Shimono- 
seki, one word from the Czar sufficed to induce Japan to renounce meekly 
all the spoils of a victorious war, and to evacuate the occupied territory. 
Again, one word from Russia's mighty monarch resulted in the Chinese 
relinquishing the regained peninsula to the Russians. A frown on the 
part of her Emperor not only won Manchuria for Russia, but the 
Chinese railway as well. When, at last, the Chinese arose in rebellion 
and the Boxer revolt shook the Celestial Empire, the Czar, co-operating 
with the Western Powers, dispatched his brave General Linevitch 
to China. To the beat of resounding marches, the Czar's army entered 
the holy city of Pekin, sacked the palaces, drove out the Son of Heaven, 
and hoisted the Russian flag over the quiet pagodas of the yellow 
imperium. 



110 NICHOLAS II 

Crushed, humiliated, the Orient now lay prostrate before the Czar. 
Russian generals ruled at the Court of the Emperor of Korea ; Russian 
troops constructed the Manchurian railway ; Russian engineers built 
the fortifications of Port Arthur, in the very heart of China. Even i Jh*- 
German Kaiser acknowledged Russian supremacy in the Far E^$t, in 
his famous telegram to the Czar : ' ' The admiral of the Atlantic sends 
greetings to the admiral of the Pacific." 

Immersed in dreams and visions, the yellow race was dormant. 
No word nor untoward breath stirred the quiet solemnity of the yellow 
palaces. But within the walls of these palaces, monasteries, and castles 
secret flames flared. Unnoticed by the outside world, the yellow peoples 
armed for a gigantic battle against their century-old enemy. As in 
the time of Genghis Khan, in the time of Baty and Tamerlane, the 
Russian peoples were the first to encounter the mighty wrath of the 
yellow race. 

It was the Japanese who, at the close of the nineteenth century, 
assumed leadership of the yellow race. The Empire of the Rising Sun 
won its first victory over the world of the white race on the i3th of 
April, 1898, when Russia and Japan signed their Far East Agreement. 
According to its stipulations, Russia withdrew her generals from Korea, 
leaving the country to the unrestricted influence of Japan ; in ex- 
change, Russia received full sovereignty over Kuantun, Ljaodan, and 
Manchuria. 

Only under the pressure of his ministers had the Czar signed the 
agreement ; in Court circles, the imperial dissatisfaction was automatic- 
ally endowed with the force of law. Assiduously, the courtiers observed 
every frown, every hint, and every word of the Czar. The error 
committed by weak and reckless ministers would be set aright by the 
true devotion of the Court clique as speedily as possible. 

Presently, there appeared among the courtiers the slant-eyed Captain 
Besobrasov of the Cavaliers' Guard. Imbued with fervent loyalty 
to the Emperor, the Captain proposed a plan for the peaceful penetra- 
tion of Korea. Just as Hastings had won India for the English crown, 
so a Russian commercial organization, in the course of & peaceful 
capitalistic development of Korea, was to change this country into a 
Russian colony, gradually and unobtrusively. The proposed emulation 
of Hastings' strategy on the part of the good Captain received great 
acclaim. A speedily organized concern secured forest and gold conces- 
sions along the banks of the Korean river Yalu and elected Grandduke 
Michailovitch president of the company. Court circles promptly 
subscribed large sums for the enterprise. It was rumoured that even the 
Czar himself was an investor. 

All the warnings, which subsequently reached the Czar's desk, not 
to antagonize the Japanese, proved unavailing. Still vivid ip his 
memory was the affront he had suffered at the hands of a Japanese 
policeman on the shores of Biwa Lake, when visiting there as Grand- 
duke-Czarevitch. In sheer desperation the gigantic Witte threatened 
to resign. He was assigned to the innocuous post of a President of the 



THE FLEA BITE III 

Ministers' Committee and thus rendered helpless. In vain, too, 
the intelligent Mme Besobrasov complained in the salons of the 
capital : " I cannot understand how my husband can be permitted to 
nlay such an important role. Can't anybody see he is practically 
crazy ? " 

However, in a gesture as surprising as it was spectacular, Besobra- 
sov was appointed Secretary of State in proof of the imperial favour he 
was enjoying. At the same time Japan dispatched her greatest states- 
man, Prince Ito, to St. Petersburg to propose a peaceful settlement of 
the conflict. The Mikado's emissary was received with significant 
coolness. 

And yet the Czar really did not want war. In the deepest recesses 
of his heart, Nicholas II was convinced that this time, too, the word of 
the Czar would suffice to bring a small Oriental nation to reason. On 
the eve of the war he conversed with Grandduke Alexander, who was 
opposed to war. 

11 There is talk among the people of an imminent war," the Grand- 
duke ventured. 

1 There is no reason whatever to talk of war," the Czar replied coolly. 

1 But how can you avoid war if you won't give in ? " 

1 Believe me, the Japanese will not declare war on us." 

' And if they do ? " 

1 They wouldn't dare ! " 

1 But if they dare just the same ? " 

1 You know, you are boring me, Sandro. I assure you I have no 
intention of going to war with Japan or anybody else." 

The day after this conversation Russia's fate was sealed. With 
Witte out of the way, it did not prove difficult for Plehve to press 
the sword into the hand of the Czar. When, on the 6th of February, 
1904, the Japanese broke off negotiations with Russia and attacked the 
Russian fleet in Port Arthur, inflicting serious losses, the Czar declared 
war. The words with which Europe, at the threshold of the century, 
inaugurated its battle against Asia, sounded solemn indeed : " Un- 
shaken in Our faith in assistance from the Almighty, and in the firm 
conviction that all Our loyal subjects will rise together with Us in the 
fight for the homeland, We invoke God's blessing for Our army." 

The Czar referred to the Japanese surprise attack on Port Arthur 
as a " flea bite." And all Russia repeated the words of the Minister 
of War that it would suffice for the Russian soldiers to throw their 
caps over the Japanese ; it was inevitable that the little monkeys 
would smother under the burden. 

The Czar met the bayonets of the Japanese with the magic power 
of his blessings. In his special train, Nicholas II travelled through his 
country. As interminably as eternity, Russian steppes stretched before 
his eyes. Regiment after regiment marched past him with fixed 
bayonets. In small God-forsaken villages in the Ural Mountains, 
along the Volga, and on the Kama, the Czar alighted from his coach. 
Astride a charger, he reviewed his troops, destined for an early death. 



112 NICHOLAS IT 

In mystical ecstasy the bearded mushiks stared at their Czar. Tears 
welled up in the eyes of the soldiers when the slim hand of the Anointed 
One was raised over them in imperial blessing. In pious humility, the 
Asiatic regiments sank to their knees. And while the Czar a my^Jjc 
image of God rode through their prostrate rows, his words of biasing 
were received in prayerful silence. Surveying the kneeling host, the 
Czar distributed small icons of the Holy Seraphim of Sarov. Uncer- 
tain whether their devotion belonged to the visible hand of their Czar 
or the invisible grace of this saint, the mushiks kissed the icons 
passionately. 

The Czar's special train travelled mile after mile. A million peasants 
passed before the monarch's eyes. In the neighbourhood of the city of 
Slatoust, where a signpost announced "Europe Asia," a brilliant 
parade was held for the Czar in a wide* valley. The rays of the sun, 
rising behind the Asiatic mountains, fell full upon the monarch's 
head. Bathed in gleaming gold, lie resembled one of the old Muscovite 
granddukes resisting another onslaught of the fierce Tatar with all the 
religious fervour of his army. 

Liberally equipped with icons and blessings, the army marched 
towards Manchuria. Tirelessly the Czar's special train travelled 
through the country ; tirelessly the Czar distributed icons. In Riga, 
as a special sign of highest imperial grace, Nicholas II lifted up the 
little Czarevitch, so that the army might gaze upon the heir to the 
throne. And with his tiny hand, Alexius sent the army on its way, 
fortified with miniature icons of Holy Seraphim. 

In the artistocratic salons of the capital city the devout ministrations 
of the Czar were received sneeringly. The sophisticated burghers were 
amused by the Emperor's piety, and all over St. Petersburg, General 
Dragomirov's witticism was repeated : " The Japanese fight us with 
canons, and we light them with icons." 

With suppressed satisfaction, the Liberals gloated over the fact that 
the mushiks were sent into Manchuria merely to salvage the millions 
which Emperor and granddukes had invested there. At the same 
time the terrorists were delighted to welcome Japanese delegates who 
furnished them with money for their fight against the Czarist Govern- 
ment. The whole of subterranean Russia joyfully anticipated the defeat 
of the imperial army. 

Admiral Alexeiev, the Czar's viceroy in the Far East, had been 
appointed commander over one million soldiers. The Admiral a 
diplomat with navy training had hardly seen more than a full platoon 
of infantry before, except, perchance, on the parade grounds. But 
since victory rested in the hands of God and was no matter of terrestrial 
generalship, the Czar believed this loyal official would prove to be an 
effective tool. 

When the first month of the war had demonstrated Alexeiev's com- 
plete inefficiency, the Czar dispatched his former Minister of War, 
General Kuropatkin, to the front without, however, recalling the 
Admiral. Kuropatkin was a wise and brave general, imbued with the 




Till-: " UTTl.K l-ATHKU WITH HIS S< >N 

hi- inns! pupul.ir picture nl tin- (*/;n. in Ihr unilorni dl ;i piiv.itc- soldn-r. 
;iiul I /..in-vili li that u.is t-vc-r t.iUrn 



THE FLEA BITE 113 

soul of a drum-major. He travelled to the front like a victor in a 
triumphal march. Icons, prayers of thanks, joyous huzzas accom- 
panied him all along the route However, all the prayers of village 
popes could not counteract the grave transgression of the most funda- 
mental rule in the conduct of war : a split command, with the army 
subjected to rivalry between two leaders. Whenever Alexeiev demanded 
a bold offensive*, Kuropatkin ordered a strategic retreat. At the same 
time they inundated the Czar with divergent war plans, strategic 
suggestions and mutual incriminations. 

Seldom had troops been sent to war as unprepared as the Russian. 
Underestimating their opponent to an unbelievable extent, the Czar's 
generals had neglected the most essential measures. Long years of 
peace had dulled the Muscovite sword. The obsolete ordnance of the 
Russian fleet was far inferior to the Japanese artillery, especially where 
range was concerned. Many of the Russian heavy pieces lacked locks ; 
millions of rounds of ammunition did not lit the rifles. 

On the 3ist of March a Japanese mine sunk the Russian flagship 
Pclropavlovsk with Admiral Makarov, Supreme Commander of the Far 
Eastern fleet, aboard. This loss was the first of a long series of similar 
misfortunes which now befell the Czar with all the implacable fury of an 
avalanche. 

On the i8th of April the Japanese defeated the Russian troops 
in the Battle of Turentshen. On the 28th of April the Japanese landed 
in Bitsivo, subsequently laying siege to Port Arthur. On the 28th of 
May they emerged as victors in the sea battle of Port Arthur. On the 
25th of August the Russians lost the seven-day battle of Liao-Yang. 
On the 22nd of December Port Arthur capitulated. On the 25th of 
February, 1905, the Russians lost an important battle at Mukden and, 
on the 27th of May, Admiral Togo destroyed practically the entire 
czarist fleet in the Battle of Tsushima. Russia had lost the war ! 

More than half a million corpses were strewn over Manchuria. 
Secluded in Czarskojc Sclo, the Czar studied the humiliating reports 
of the defeats, retreats and terrific losses of his troops. Vacantly he 
stared into the distance. 

Wan and fearful, the courtiers looked for signs of a spiritual collapse. 
Their compassionate and submissive glances caressed the monarch. 
Everybody stood ready to console the Czar, but to all appearances, 
Nicholas did not desire the consolation his subjects were so anxious to 
accord him. He had inherited his unshakable poise from more robust 
forebears. Words of sympathy died on the lips of the courtiers as they 
gazed upon their ever-amiable Czar. Nicholas regarded the loss of the 
war as his own private, imperial business ; no courtier, no : 
general had the right to intrude upon an affair which 
considered strictly personal. 

The day the cruiser Petropavlovsk was sunk the 
diary: "I could hardly regain my composure aftj 
disaster." However, on that same day, when Gener 
and distraught, entered the Czar's chamber, the 
B 




114 NICHOLAS II 

took him by the arm and led him over to the window. Pointing to the 
snow flurries, he remarked : " Look at the weather. Wouldn't it be 
just the day for hunting ? Do you realize that we two have not gone 
hunting for a long time ? What day is this ? Friday ? Well, let's go 
to-morrow." Still shaken, the General descended the wide staircase 
half an hour later, to observe the Emperor, surrounded by his entire 
entourage, indulging in a little crow-shooting. 

A few months thereafter the aide-de-camp, who brought the Czar 
the telegram advising him of the defeat at Mukden, found the monarch 
engaged in a game of tennis. Nicholas politely excused himself, read 
the telegram without undue haste, pocketed it, and continued the game 
with calm, unchanged mien. Evidently a lost battle could not deter 
him from winning a tennis match. 

On the 27th of May, 1905, a great gala dinner was held at the Court. 
It was the ninth anniversary of the Czar's coronation at Moscow. While 
the banquet was in progress a courier of the Minister of the Navy 
arrived and handed the Emperor a telegram. Opening it, Nicholas read 
the short report informing him of the loss of his entire fleet. He refolded 
the telegram, drew out his gold cigarette case, and had the Chief Master 
of Ceremonies announce to the guests : " His Imperial Majesty permits 
smoking." Upon observing the Czar puffing away nonchalantly, none 
of the guests could divine that, at that very moment, the monarch had 
buried the fondest hopes of his life. 

To be sure, that night, when he was alone in his bedroom, the Czar 
wrote into his diary : " My soul is weary. Everything is unspeakably 
difficult and sad." 

But while the courtiers, their surprise increasing, admired the Czar's 
stoicism ; while the Liberal circles interpreted it as the cold indifference 
of a degenerate ; while the war museum in Tokio was overflowing with 
icons of Holy Seraphim ; and while the beaten armies came straggling 
back across Siberia, revolutionary pamphlets appeared throughout 
Russia. Shots of the terrorists reverberated and torches were applied 
to many old estates of the nobles. The forbidding phantom of 
revolution arose ominously in every corner of the vast realm. 



CHAPTER FOURTEEN 

TIIK CUP 

ArlEAVY-SET man with dark, dismal eyes and thick lips, a 
black moustache and fleshy hands, had been appointed 
executor of death sentences pronounced against ministers, 
generals and governors by the executive committee of the 
Social-Revolutionary Party. This stocky individual received from tho 
party the names of the condemned as well as the necessary funds for 
their destruction. Like an autocrat of unlimited prerogatives, he ruled 
over the notorious "Bo," secret organization of bomb-throwers, 
terrorists, and murderers. He was an engineer by the name of Evno 
Asev. 

A dark-skinned, stoutish man, perpetually perspiring and ill- 
mannered, had been chosen by Minister Plehvc as leader of the defence 
against the terrorists. His requests for money were never-ending, but 
through him Plehve received information of planned assassinations, 
including the names of the conspirators, and a description of all their 
meeting-places. This most formidable opponents of the "Bo" was 
an engineer by the name of Evno Asev. 

In the apocalyptical figure of this notorious informer, the snares 
laid by Plehve, and those prepared by the Social-Revolutionaries, 
interlocked. Holding the entire spectral fabric of plots and counter- 
plots in the hollow of his hand, versatile Asev, with the cunning and 
equanimity of a spider, caught granddukes and terrorists, generals 
and murderers in the meshes of his web. 

Russia's history of assassinations and counter-assassinations was 
mirrored in Asev's strangely distorted soul. He regarded the mainte- 
nance of a certain balance between the two factions as his ordained task. 
The greater the number of revolutionaries he betrayed, the easier it was 
for him to expose a governor or perhaps, now and then, a general to 
the death-dealing weapons of the " Bo." While, on one hand, the 
revolutionaries sought to overthrow the Government with Asev's 
assistance Plehve, on the other hand, hoped that Asev's valuable 
co-operation would enable him to tighten his grip on the reins of his 
system. 

Plehve looked upon the peasants, workers and intellectuals as 
enemies of his regime. Although the peasantry was scattered all over 
the vast country and was completely unorganized, they nevertheless 
were the deciding factor because their number ran into the millions. 
That the peasantry desired the abolition of the obshtshina was con- 
sidered revolutionary by Plehve. For many years past a governmental 
Committee for the Investigation of the Agrarian Problem had been 

"5 



Il6 NICHOLAS II 

functioning under the chairmanship of Witte. When 592 out of 600 
local committees of this commission had demanded that the obshtshina 
be abolished, Plehve, on the 26th of February, 1904, had succeeded in 
inducing the Czar to dissolve the Committee and to enact more stringent 
agrarian laws. At the same time that hundreds of thousands of 
muzhiks were sent to war in Manchuria, individual members of the 
Committee were sent into exile. The result of Plchve's ill-considered 
measure was the gigantic, bloody peasant revolt which shook Russia 
to her very depths the following year. 

Plchve's attention, however, was less directed to the unorganized 
and scattered peasants than to those three million industrial workers 
upon whom the Minister looked as the logical advance guard of the 
revolution. Just as Asev undertook the physical destruction of the 
revolutionaries, Subatov, an agent of the okhrana secret league for 
the protection of the Czar assumed the task of curbing the rebellious 
spirit of the labourers. 

Subatov was one of the cleverest and best-educated Russian police 
agents. His idea of organizing labour was not devoid of a certain 
social foundation. The okhrana agent believed it was much more 
important to protect the monarchical order than to protect the Russian 
factory owners who frequently donated considerable sums to the 
Liberal movements of the bourgeoisie. Subatov decided that, under the 
auspices of the police, a workers 1 organization should be arrayed against 
the secret Socialist labour organizations. Subsequently, his officiary 
organization similar to vSocialist groups fought capitalism. This was 
not done, however, in preparation for a Socialist state of the future, but 
solely to defend monarchical-Christian justice within the borders of the 
Empire. 

Under Plchvc's protection Subatov founded, first in Moscow, then 
in many other cities, workers 1 organizations and clubs. In their 
rooms, and in the presence of well-meaning generals, capitalism was 
damned and declarations of loyalty telegraphed to the Czar. The 
result of these measures was tremendous. But Plehve, as well as 
Subatov, overlooked the all-important fact that, for the first time in 
Russia, through their own endeavours, a cup was being fashioned which, 
once grasped firmly in the labourer's hand, was very likely to overflow 
with blood. 

However, all schemes to control the peasants and gain the con- 
fidence of the workers proved powerless to stem the rising revolutionary 
tide. Plehve, recognizing as much, said sadly: "We are facing a 
revolution and only I see it. 1 ' 

With all the fury of enraged berserks, uprooted Russian intelligentsia 
launched onslaught after onslaught against the stronghold of 
absolutism. " Intelligentsia ? Why, the Academy should be told to 
strike this word out of the Russian lexicon ! " the Czar once remarked. 
In reply, the world of intellectuals displayed bitter hatred against the 
phenomenon of czarist rule which, intrinsically, was completely beyond 
their comprehension. 



THE CUP 1T7 

To the intelligentsia the defeats of the imperial army at the hands of 
the Japanese appeared as the first sign of blessings to come. In spring, 
1904, the intelligentsia shouted for Western Liberalism throughout the 
country, on all possible occasions. At a medical congress in St. Peters- 
burg it was expounded that only full freedom of speech, Press, and 
assembly would make it possible to fight syphilis and tuberculosis 
effectively. Teachers, convening in Moscow, maintained that instruc- 
tion in Latin was practical only in a country with constitutional govern- 
ment. The committee of an all-Russian cattle show at Charkov felt 
obliged to declare that czarist despotism interfered with " the raising 
of Russian cattk of pure strain." 

Such millionaires as Morosov, Malzev, and Tercshtshenko spent 
enormous amounts for the support of the revolution. In Odessa the 
nibble built barricades while bloody unrest stalked the border provinces, 
(iovernors and police fell victim to the revolvers of the " Bo." At 
the same time, all Liberal Russia greeted with diabolical laughter the 
declaration of Father John of Kronstadt, that the Bible was the only 
suitable constitution for Holy Russia. 

In the midst of this growing decline of imperial ideology, Asev, 
pressed by the revolutionaries, decided to have his employer, Plehve, 
assassinated. Since the secret shops of the revolutionaries were unable 
to produce a bomb powerful enough to shatter the Minister's steel- 
armoured coach, the instrument of death was constructed of especially 
potent explosives at the governmental Pyrotcdmical Institute. 
Informed that the bomb would be used against the terrorists, Plehvc 
signed an order for it with his own hand and eventually the police 
themselves delivered the petard to Ascv. 

On the isth of July, 1904, Plchve stuffed a sheaf of papers into his 
brief-case for the last time. At Baltic Station the train that was to 
take him to Czarskoje Selo awaited him. Plehve's bloodless lips were 
twisted into a cynical smile. His dry hands, marked with blue veins, 
fondled the brief-case containing explicit reports. These, supported 
by many letters, were to prove to the Czar that Secretary of State 
Witte, chairman of the Ministers' Committee, was the real leader and 
instigator of all revolutionary excesses. 

The train for Czarskoje Selo left without Plehve. His brief-case 
never reached the desk of the Czar. As Plehve's carriage, surrounded by 
secret police, neared Baltic Station, a wild-eyed, cadaverous man rushed 
forward, his hands flung high. Startled, the horses drawing Plehve's 
carriage reared. Before the driver had a chance to rein in the team 
the man threw a small object in front of the wheels. Aghast, Plehve 
gazed from the window of his steel-armoured vehicle. For the fraction 
of a moment, his eyes and those of the assassin met. 

Never even to his very end could student Sazonov forget the 
greenish eyes of Plehve. Filled with fathomless fear, they had suddenly 
hardened into a vacant stare. The murderer Sazonov was not hanged 
because Russian law, at that time, provided no death penalty for the 
assassination of a minister. But even in his cell in a Siberian prison 



Il8 NICHOLAS II 

where he was found hanged, seven years later, Sazonov was haunted 
continuously by the fear-dilated eyes of his victim. 

The Liberal Count Sviatopolk-Mirski became Plehve's successor. 
The Count had no intention of continuing along the same road which 
had brought death to his predecessors, Sipjagin and Plehve. In his 
first interview with the Press, he explained that " mutual confidence 
must be the corner-stone of the relations between the Government 
and the public/ 1 and that he " firmly believed in the wisdom of public 
opinion." To the surprise of officials who had been appointed by 
Plehve, numerous exiled intellectuals were brought back from Siberia 
and, in St. Petersburg, a Liberal congress was permitted to condemn 
bloody Czardom openly. The new minister submitted a draft to the 
Czar in November, 1904, proposing the grant of numerous progressive 
liberties, also providing for a representative body to be called " Duma " 
which was to advise the Czar and ministers in their legislative labours. 

In a conference of the highest dignitaries of the realm, under the 
chairmanship of the Czar, Sviatopolk-Mirski's suggestions were dis- 
cussed in detail. All the ministers, with the exception of Pobedon- 
ostsev, were in favour of the reform. To be sure the bombs of the 
terrorists, which invisibly threatened every one of the ministers, 
influenced the opinion of these dignitaries. At the end of the meeting, 
when the Czar commanded Witte to submit the draft of a Liberal ukase 
to him, the proposal was accepted with acclaim. Great excitement was 
discernible among the dignitaries. To all appearances, here was the 
beginning of a new era with the sun of absolutism setting behind the 
clouds of Liberal thought. Deeply stirred, the ministers regarded their 
Czar whose mere word sufficed to steer the jeopardized ship of state 
into other and calmer waters. 

A few days later a draft " for measures improving the organization 
of the Government " was submitted to the Czar. On the morning of 
the nth of December, Witte received word to be at Czarskoje Selo, 
that evening for a private conference with Nicholas. 

The dim light in the imperial study fell upon three figures. Beside the 
frail Czar, Witte's gigantic form was ensconced in a large chair. The 
third member of the trio was Grandduke Sergius. His mad, blue eyes 
studied the Minister. The Grandduke's blond beard framed his face 
much as the gold of Old Masters framed the pictures of the Moscovite 
czars. 

In the silence of the room the Czar's words tinkled like the silver 
chimes of a wall-clock. He thumbed Witte's draft with his slender 
hands. It was the ninth point, providing for admission of representa- 
tives of the people to the State Council, which aroused the doubts of 
the Emperor and Autocrat. Witte, looking down upon the Czar with 
a supercilious smile, felt no hesitation about offering his master the 
bitter cup of truth. With merciless candour, he explained to the Czar 
what all his ministers and courtiers assiduously tried to hide from him. 
Doubtless, admission of popular representatives to the State Council 
was nothing but a prologue to a constitution. But then, the Minister 



THE CUP 1 19 

explained with cool detachment, there were but two ways open to the 
Government in future : Either a gradual and inevitable renunciation 
of autocratic rule ; or else rigid adherence to old concepts. 

The Czar's face darkened ; lie looked at his robust uncle anxiously. 
In Sergius's eyes glowed the icy fire of a man obsessed. Somehow, the 
face of his domineering uncle reminded the Czar of the fierce visage of 
the cruel Ivan. Ivan the Terrible, too, in times of stress, had convened 
representatives of his people in the so-called " Zcmsky Sobor " 
National Assembly to take council with him. The deputies had knelt 
before Ivan as if before an incarnated icon to receive, humbly and 
piously, the commands of the Anointed One. 

11 What would you think of convening a ' Zemsky-Sobor ' ? " Nicholas 
asked. 

Witte laughed scornfully. ' 'Your Majesty, I am afraid this venerable 
atavism could not be disinterred from the past." 

There was a gleam in Grandduke Sergius's eyes. He stroked his 
beard. To the Grandduke's mind iiven Ivan the Terrible had been a 
dangerous Liberal ! 

The Czar's face assumed a resolute expression now. Quietly, 
decisively, his words came : " No, I shall never be a party to the 
introduction of a constitutional form of government. I am convinced 
it would only be harmful to the Russian people who are entrusted to me 
by God. For that reason, then, I strike out this point." 

The next day saw the famous ukase of the i2th of December, 1904, 
published, sealing the departure of the Czar from the policies of his 
father. Nicholas stated: "In conformity with the holy legacy of 
Our crowned forebears and steadily dedicated to the weal of the 
people entrusted to Us by God, and on the kisis of the indestructible 
foundations of the laws of the realm, We consider everlasting solicitude 
for the needs of Our country and clear differentiation between that 
which will serve the Russian people and that which will harm them, 
the task of Our Government ..." 

Eight points followed in which religious tolerance, extension of 
autonomy and a greater freedom of the Press was promised. The 
ninth point, providing for the moderation of absolutism, was missing. 

Hardly a single point of the ukase of the I2th of December was ever 
realized. With a losing war being fought in the Far East, the chaotic 
days of 1905 approached days in which the blood of the Czar's 
subjects spattered the imperial ermine like a fiery flood sweeping along 
all the plans, ukases, and measures of pre-revolutionary days. 



CHAPTER FIFTEEN 

KED SUNDAY 

ON the 22iid of January, 1905, the bond between Russia and 
the Czar was severed. 
The rifles of a company of Semionovzy arid the heavy 
swords of the cuirassiers of the Guard, left a broad and bloody 
track in the white snow of St. Petersburg. In the background arose 
the massive outline of the Winter Palace. A cordon of troops sur- 
rounded the Czar's residence not unlike an iron vice forged around the 
coffin of czarist power. 

On the evening of the 22nd of January, under the snow in the squares 
of St. Petersburg, love for the god-like Czar was buried forever. Until 
then, the countenance of Little Father Czar had seemed to be casting 
the soft glow of super-mundane light over his Christian people. But 
on the 22nd of January this glow gave way to the blood-red rays of 
imperial wrath. Before the eyes of a deeply moved people, the soft 
features of a saint were transformed into the fiery face of a stern 
imperator, meting out punishment. 

On the eve of Red Sunday there were sirangc occurrences in the city of 
St. Petersburg. At six o'clock in the evening, a genial Police Captain 
emerged from the station house on Nevsky Prospect. In the twilight 
of the evening he observed a curious scene. An enormous multitude 
had gathered. On the balcony of a house, on the opposite side of the 
street, stood a tall man in priestly garb, a large golden cross on his 
chest. The fluttering beard, the long black hair, and the glowing eyes 
of the pope recalled pictures of old ascetics. In a thundering voice he 
reviled the Czar and fed the excited crowd with revolutionary slogans. 
The people acclaimed the demagogic pope in joyous frenzy. 

The Police Captain became greatly agitated as he viewed this dis- 
turbing scene and promptly telephoned to the City Commandant 
of St. Petersburg, General Fullon. 

" Your Excellency," the Captain reported fairly spluttering, " the 
pope, George Gapon, is blaspheming the Czar, indulging in revolutionary 
addresses directly opposite the police station. 1 think something ought 
to be done about it. Does Your Excellency order the arrest of Gapon ? ' ' 

From the other end of the wire came the tired, somewhat lisping 
words of the General : " It is my order that Gapon be left alone. 
Don't do anything. Let him go on talking." 

The Captain replaced the receiver. From the windows of the police 
station he watched the fluttering beard of the pope. He shook his 
head disconsolately. His Excellency certainly was playing a dangerous 
game. A man of experience, the Police Captain did not doubt for 

120 



RICO SUNDAY 121 

a single moment that the revolutionary pope was in the pay of the 
police. 

Pope Gapon was the first to pour the heady red wine of revolution 
into the cups of labour, organized under the auspices of the police, in 
accordance with Subatov's formula. Once a simple prison chaplain, 
as soon as Gapon had entered the service of Plehve he had become 
an assiduous organizer of the labourers' clubs through which the 
Minister had tried to curb growing Radicalism. Gapon was vacillating 
and high-strung. Balancing precariously on the narrow bridge of 
provocation, he was overcome by dizziness, so to speak. True enough, 
he received a salary from Plehve, but the acclaim with which the 
labourers received his Socialistic speeches could not but go to his 
head. God and Czar, Christianity and Socialism, greed for possessions 
and greed for glory, intermingled in the pope's soul into an abstruse 
oneness. Even while his police service assuaged his greed, he felt it 
was no more than the duty of the Christian labourers to bear a pious 
pope on their shoulders to the throne of the Orthodox Czar, so that a 
touch of Socialist red might be added to the brilliancy of the crown. 

In the suburbs of St. Petersburg, and in the quarters of the labourers, 
the pope was accorded all the honours of a demigod. His stirring 
speeches, generously sprinkled with quotations from the Bible as 
well as with Marxian slogans, made a tremendous impression on the 
souls of the workers. Their inherent fealty to Little Father Czar 
was strongly blended with a fervent hope for necessary social reforms. 
With the calmness of purchasers who have assured themselves of the 
possession of something worthwhile by paying the price for it, the 
police watched the pope's progress. City Commandant Fullon attended 
many of the labourers' meetings in full uniform, listening to the pope's 
Monarchistic-Socialistic effusions with condescending mien. Even 
when Socialism gradually began to triumph over fealty to the Czar, 
Fullon reported to the Minister of Interior that Gapon's speeches 
were certain to prove a very useful safety valve on the steam-boiler 
of revolutionary thought. The simple general never conceived the 
idea that, one day, the ambitious pope might shut off the safety valve 
with his own hands, thus exploding the overcharged steam-boiler of 
revolt. 

The watchfulness of the authorities remained passive even when 
Gapon conceived the plan of a pilgrimage to the throne of the Czar. 
On behalf of all the workers of St. Petersburg, the pope proposed to 
submit their humble supplications to the Little Father of the country. 
Indeed, the well-intentioned police officers had already made plans 
to line up the battalions of labourers with military precision. A few 
days prior to the 22nd of January, police officials distributed pictures of 
the Czar and Russian flags among the workers. Not before the very 
last minute did the authorities ask the pope to submit the text of 
the petition to be presented to the Czar. With a triumphant smile, 
Gapon handed his petition to the Minister. 

14 Ruler ! " it read. " We workers and inhabitants of the city of 



122 NICHOLAS II 

St. Petersburg, our women, children, and old people are appealing to 
you to find protection and truth. . . ." The long pathetic address 
closed with the pleas and proposals of the workers. They asked for a 
parliament, and a responsible ministry. They also petitioned for the 
expropriation of the large estates of the nobility, for a general amnesty, 
for the separation of the Church from the State, for the introduction of 
workers 1 councils, and many other privileges. In the past, each of 
these brazen requests would have sufficed to send the petitioner 
to Siberia. 

As they studied the petition, the Minister and the City Commandant 
felt as if an abyss yawned before them. Their lirst thought was to pro- 
hibit the procession and to arrest the crazed pope. However, with the 
boldness of a man venturing his all, Gapon sneered at them. On the 
evening of the 21 st of January, 1905, he ruled the streets of 
St. Petersburg. 

Gazing upon the tremendous host of workers, the pope believed he 
had been sent by Heaven to save Russia. Who knew but on the morrow, 
borne on the shoulders of the workers, he might move into the imperial 
palace ? Like an archangel, standing at the right of God, his place 
would be at the right of the Czar's throne. The pope's head swain 
intoxicated by the sound of his own words, he rushed headlong into 
world history like a runaway horse. 

A council, quickly convened by the Minister, decided not to interfere 
with the procession but also not to permit the mob to advance to the 
Winter Palace or to congest any of the larger squares of the city. 
During the night, rounds of ammunition were hurriedly distributed in 
the barracks, ambulances, and hospitals put in readiness, and the 
troops of the Guard kept on the alert. When on Sunday, the 22nd of 
January, the sun shone feebly over the drab streets of the capital, all 
the important thoroughfares of the city were held by the Semionovzy 
regiments, horse guards, cuirassiers, and cossacks. 

A reddish glow coloured the dirty, snow-laden streets of the city ; 
dull clouds brooded overhead in the Finnish sky. The houses of the 
workers stretched along the quays of the St. Petersburg islands in a 
grey, desolate line. Early in the morning a festively garbed crowd 
filled the streets. For the first time in their history the people were 
on a pilgrimage to their Czar. Above the multitude fluttered imperial 
flags, Byzantine crosses, and holy pictures galore. 

" The crowd resembled an autumnal ocean wave, churned up by the 
first gusts of an approaching storm. They pushed forward slowly. 
The grey faces of the people were like the drab, foaming crests of waves. 
Their eyes flashed with excitement and they gazed at one another as if 
they did not really believe in their resolution and were surprised at 
themselves. Their words soared above the multitude like small grey 
birds. ... It was ' he ' who was talked of mostly. They sought to 
convince each other that 'he/ the Good One, the Righteous, would 
understand everything, everything/ 1 Thus, Maxim Gorki describes 
the morning of the 22nd of January. 



RED SUNDAY 123 

The people moved slowly across Nevsky Prospect. Mute wistfulness 
was mirrored in their faces. As children crowd around a father, they 
crowded around pictures of the Czar. Ahead of them, garbed in flowing 
priestly vestments, appearing like a storm-swept cloud, strode Gapon, 
carrying a huge Byzantine cross. A strange silence held the multitude. 
In their stolid demeanour the crowd resembled the Czar's coronation 
guests at Chodinsky Field. Following their vision of a beneficent and 
imperial demi-god, the closer the people approached the palace, the 
more excited they grew. From innumerable flags the Czar's mild face 
graciously looked down upon the throng. Like chimes from a church, 
songs now re-echoed through the streets. With outstretched hands, the 
workers ponderously advanced toward the palace like some gigantic 
pre-diluvian beast. 

Presently, a chain of fixed bayonets blocked the way. The soldiers' 
faces were drawn and tense ; since four in the morning they had been 
awaiting this moment. Their eyes and their hands assumed the steely, 
mechanical movements of an automaton. The broad cheekbones of 
the cossacks were tinged blue from the frost. The countenance of their 
commanding officer bespoke apprehension. The blue steel of his sword 
flashed ominously before the startled eyes of the multitude. 

" Stop, or we fire ! " an officer warned. 

The pope waved the huge Byzantine cross excitedly. Nobody would 
block the road to the Czar ! Nobody would dare to shoot at the Czar's 
pictures 1 The crowd pressed forward. 

With a curious clatter the soldiers raised their rifles to their shoulders. 
Words of command rang out hoarsely. Shuddering fear lurked in the 
eyes of soldiers and people alike. Only a few steps separated them from 
one another. Then, choked with excitement, the shout of the com- 
manding officer came : " Fire ! " 

That very moment sealed the fate of Nicholas II. 

Wild panic seized the multitude. Women and children sank to the 
ground, bathed in blood. Like the gate to Inferno, the ranks of the 
soldiers opened. And through this gate cossacks pressed forward on 
small horses, long of mane ; the scimitars of the cossacks reflected the 
dull rays of the sun. Immediately the side streets were packed with 
fleeing men and women. Tracks of blood marked the direction in 
which they had fled. The cossacks galloped through the streets, rending 
the air with blood-curdling war-cries. 

And there, in the streets, dragged through the grimy, blood-stained 
snow, drilled by the bullets of his own soldiers, trampled upon by 
the horses of his own cossacks there, in all the mire, lay the torn 
pictures of Nicholas II Alexandrovitch, Czar and Autocrat of All the 
Russias. 

Two hundred corpses covered the streets and squares of the city, 
but the body of the pope was not among them. Gapon had fled 
before the scimitars of the cossacks, by way of dark backyards and 
alleys. 

On the evening of the 22nd of January, the poet, Maxim Gorki, 



124 NICHOLAS ii 

appeared in a hall before a tremendous audience. This time he did not 
read novels, nor was he prepared to give a literary lecture. Instead, 
he led the pope Gapon to the rostrum. The Liberal element of St. 
Petersburg received him with jubilant acclaim. Gapon's face was 
distorted with poisonous hatred. The old calculated blasphemies 
against the Czar, in which he formerly had indulged with the police's 
approval, now became genuinely felt imprecations against the Anointed 
One. In the thunderous voice of a prophet, he shouted to the audience : 
" Dear blood brethren, the bullets of the imperial soldiers have killed 
our faith in the Czar. Let's take vengeance on him and his entire 
family. Vengeance on all his ministers and all the exploiters of Russian 
soil. Go, pillage the imperial palaces ! All the soldiers arid officers who 
killed our innocent wives and children, all the tyrants, all the oppressors 
of the Russian people I herewith smite with my priestly curse." 

Gapon fled during the night to a foreign country, but life in exile 
soon proved tiresome. He returned to St. Petersburg, but neither 
Siberia nor prison awaited him. The police stood by their agent faith- 
fully. From the Minister of Police, Gapon received a thick roll of 
banknotes so that, once more, he might carry the spirit of revolution 
as approved by the police into the workers' midst. Eventually the 
revolutionaries discovered the real reason for Gapon's enthusiastic 
fight for their cause. To him they were merely tools to further his own 
ends. On the 6th of April, 1906, Gapon was induced to enter a little 
villa in the neighbourhood of St. Petersburg and there he was strangled 
by his one-time comrades. Before long, he was completely forgotten. 

The 22nd of January, 1905, however, never was to be forgotten by the 
Russian people. Like the bloody catastrophe on Chodinsky Field, 
Red Sunday overshadowed the entire reign of Nicholas II, symbolizing 
tragedy. It was on the 22nd of January, 1905, that the people separated 
themselves from their Czar. The separation hurt. The reverberations 
of the shots fired in St. Petersburg were heard throughout the country. 
In every city, in every factory, the intellectuals and the workers spoke 
of the Bloody Czar. Had he not greeted his subjects with rifles and 
scimitars when, on their humble pilgrimage to him, they had been 
armed only with icons and pictures of their monarch ? 

Following his usual custom, the Czar spent the 22nd of January in 
Czarskoje Selo. Not before evening was he told by his Minister of the 
Interior that a socialistically minded pope, by the name of Gapon, 
had incited the workers to the point of rebellion, but the police 
immediately had embarked upon measures to maintain order. Nobody 
told Nicholas II of the icons, of the ecclesiastical chants, of the 
Byzantine crosses, swaying over the multitude, in their pilgrimage 
to the Czar. Nobody told him of the devout belief of thousands 
who merely had yearned for a gracious word from the lips of their 
mighty monarch. 

On the 22nd of January, when the blood of the people flowed through 
the streets of St. Petersburg like a red river, the Czar noted in his 
diary : " What a hard day ! Unrest in St. Petersburg. Military was 



RED SUNDAY 125 

forced to shoot. Many dead and wounded. Dear God, how it hurts me 
and how difficult it all is." 

Lost in his dreams, the frail Czar, only now hearing the name of 
Gapon for the first time, did not realize that, on the 22nd of January, 
1905, a bloody cross had arisen above the golden cupolas of old Russia 
like an invisible threat. 



CHAPTER SIXTEEN 

CZAR AND C^ESAK 

EE the tattered flag of a defeated regiment, Russian absolu- 
tism fluttered in the storm of the revolution. A tense 
atmosphere surrounded the white palace of Peterhof . With 
fixed bayonets, scrupulously selected officers of the Czar's 
Guard patrolled the deserted lanes of the park. In the little bay nearby 
a torpedo boat flotilla, flying the imperial standard with the large cross 
of St. Andrew, was kept under full steam. The residence of the Russian 
Czar resembled the camp of a conqueror amidst a revolting country, 
newly subjugated. 

Apprehensively, the carefully selected officers of the Guard gazed 
upon the frail, imperial figure when the Czar, pale of face, promenaded 
past the beautiful Elizabethan fountains. In the dusk of long summer 
evenings, Nicholas watched the luminous play of the splashing waters. 
Every drop mirrored the magic of autocracy : Just as drops of water 
merge in the sea, so the people merged in Czardom. 

Everything in the country the people, the houses, the rivers, 
even the very soil belonged to the Czar, in the same sense that his 
hands, his eyes and his children were his property. In the consciousness 
of a Russian there was no proprietor other than the monarch. If 
the peasant was allowed to breathe, if the burgher was permitted to 
dwell in a house, if the sun rose and the earth bore fruit, it was due 
to the unfathomable kindness of the Anointed One, and not an inalien- 
able right. And if the Czar's wrath should fall upon the heads of his 
people, if he should throw firebrands into the huts of his peasantry, or 
seize their children and womenfolk, it would not be injustice ; it merely 
would mean that the Czar wished to revoke a voluntarily granted 
privilege. The Czar was the spirit of the people incarnate, and his 
autocracy an active manifestation of the whole nation, concentrated 
into one person. 

For two centuries Russia tried to interpret the genesis of this power. 
The magic might of the Czar fought against the mailed fist of the 
Caesars. The Roman ideology of Caesarism, forcibly transplanted to 
Russia, was opposed to the old Oriental symbolism of rule. The 
Emperor was not the head of a tribe or clan, nor yet a totem, but the 
supreme leader who seized power over the people to exert it for himself 
and his army. In the course of centuries the more the sword of the 
Emperor overshadowed the crown which the Czar received from God 
in all humility, the more incomprehensible their ruler became to the 
Russian people. 

Watching the fountains of Peterhof, the Czar thought of the symbols 

126 



CZAR AND CAESAR 127 

of his power and the pious simplicity that had marked the ancient 
conception of rule. Now, his fondest dreams and holiest ideals lay 
in the dust, dragged, as they had been, through the mire of St. 
Petersburg's streets. Fixed bayonets protected the heir of Peter the 
Great against the all too complicated problems of the nineteenth 
century. Amidst the straight and clear-cut walks of the park the Czar 
longed for the straight and clear-cut rule of his forebears. As simple 
and as straight as these lanes that was how his rule should be ! 
Doubtless, a loyal and honest man could find the way out which 
learned ministers, in their complicated cogitations, would never 
discover. 

The loyal and honest man to whom the Czar was to entrust the rule 
of his realm was General Demetrius Trepov. 

The father of the General had rendered extraordinary services in the 
annihilation of revolutionaries ; indeed, he had been wounded by the 
renowned revolutionary, Vera Sasulitch. As Chief Master of Police of 
Moscow, the son earned the approval of the Governor-General, Grand- 
duke Sergius. Moreover, Trepov once had served with the Imperial 
Horse Guards. Officers of that privileged regiment merely by belong- 
ing to that crack unit automatically enjoyed the unbounded con- 
fidence of the monarch. With Court Minister Frederiks acting as his 
sponsor, General Demetrius Trepov made an extremely favourable 
impression on Their Imperial Majesties. 

Trepov had a loud voice and eyes that gleamed with energy. He 
was of gigantic stature and appeared to the Czar the very prototype 
of a healthy and straightforward soldier. He served his imperial 
master with unswerving, canine fidelity. Contrary to most of the 
officials of the realm, Trepov was not only an obedient subject of 
His Majesty Emperor Nicholas II, but he also represented one 
of the extremely few who stood ready to serve Colonel Nicholas 
Alexandrovitch Romanov with utmost loyalty. 

Two days after Red Sunday the Czar put the fate of his trembling 
empire into the hands of Trepov. Officially, the General was appointed 
Vice-Minister of the Interior and Governor-General of St. Petersburg ; 
unofficially, he actually was made the unrestricted dictator of a Russia 
not only beset with domestic unrest, but at the same time deeply 
involved in a most unfortunate Far Eastern campaign. 

Confronted by the fear-inspiring eyes of General Trepov, the Liberal 
Prince Mirski preferred to retire to a life of aristocratic solitude. Mirski's 
successor, as Minister of the Interior, was a phlegmatic and indifferent 
man by the name of Bulygin. In reply to comments on how one or 
the other measure had been handled by his ministry, it was his custom 
to remark : " I have only just seen it in the papers myself.' 1 

The political programme of the new dictator was to the point and 
yet it was warped. Trepov intended to solve the labourers' problems 
in accordance with Subatov's tried prescription. "They are only 
mutineers," the Minister declared resolutely. " Beat them down. If 
they talk too loudly, attack them. The workers want a revolution ? 



128 NICHOLAS IT 

Why, all that is necessary is to play the part of a ' police revolutionary ' 
and you will hold them in the hollow of your hand.' 1 Tf there were to 
be street demonstrations, Trcpov's order to the military was : " Don't 
save bullets ! " 

Trepov also proposed a simple and sure method of curbing the 
Liberal students. He suggested to the monarch that each and every 
institution of higher learning throughout the Empire be closed for all 
time to come. The universities were to be transformed into barracks 
with such education, as seemed necessary, best left to private initiative. 

At the same time, however, he proposed a number of measures to 
the Czar that were so radical that even the most consistent revolution- 
aries stood aghast. Trepov considered safeguarding the monarchy his 
chief task, and if it should prove, for example, that the monarchy could 
be served best by the destruction of capitalism, the brave General would 
not hesitate for a moment to execute a few bankers in the Palace 
Square. 

On the 6th of June, 1905, Trepov opened the Czar's residence to the 
representatives of the intelligentsia. A deputation of Liberal politicians 
appeared in the palace and, through the Liberal Prince Trubetzkoi, 
the Czar was informed that Russian peasantry was eager to be governed 
according to the principles of Western capitalism. The heralds of this 
alleged desire on the part of the peasantry were fourteen aristocrats, 
among them bearers of such old, noble names as Prince Shachovskoi, 
Prince Dolgorukov, Prince Lvov, and Count Hciden. There were no 
peasants in the deputation at all. The Czar replied with a few meaning- 
less words, and as the fourteen deeply disappointed aristocrats bowed 
before the ruler, Trepov recognized that, once again, it was not the people 
themselves, but rather the arrogant nobility who dared to oppose the 
Czar. 

As recently as in the days of Ivan the Terrible, noble boyar families 
had attempted to foist their will upon the Czar. However, the rebellious 
boyars had been drowned in a river of blood by the cruel Ivan. Peter 
the Great, too, had annihilated aristocrats daring to oppose him with 
sword and gunpowder. When Paul I began to exert his imperial power 
over the heads of the aristocrats, it was not loyal peasants who broke 
into his bedchamber, but five nobles : The Princes Dolgoruki, 
Wjisamesky, Jashvil, and Subov, and the Counts Uvarov and Panin. 
When the son and heir of the murdered Paul refused to grant privileges 
to the nobles, the Princes Odojevski.Trubetzkoi, andVolkonski, together 
with Count Muraviev, headed the aristocratic regiments marching 
against the Winter Palace. Even now, after many centuries, it was 
not the people bowing before the Czar in stubborn disrespect ; once 
again, it was the representatives of old noble families princes and 
counts, the heirs of Rurik and Hedemin. 

Trepov decided to resist the organized strength of a disloyal nobility 
with all the strength of a people loyal to their Czar. When Ivan IV 
had suppressed the boyar rebellion he had surrounded himself with 
bold men, forming them into the Opritshniki regiments. The coat 



CZAR AND CAESAR I2Q 

of arms of these regiments had been a dog's head and a broom. The 
broom had indicated that anti-Czarist shame was to be swept off the 
face of the earth, and it was to the dogs that the bodies of the Czar's 
enemies were to be thrown. 

Times had changed, and so had the coat of arms of General Trcpov's 
Opritshnikis. The image of Archangel Michael became the escutcheon 
of the Black Hundred, that band of loyal men chosen to eradicate 
all traces of Liberal rebellion. The Red Terror of the revolution was 
to be opposed by the White Terror of the Black Hundred. 

The voice of the loyal people, however, was not only to be heard in 
the ranks of the ) Hack Hundred. Liberal congresses and assemblies were 
to be silenced by the mighty voice of a Duma, loyal to the Czar. This 
Duma was to be assembled primarily from the lower strata of the 
populace who would accept the will of the monarch in mute submission. 

The ukase of the Czar of the 6th of August, 1905, created this 
parliament without parliamentarism. Nicknamed " Bulygin's Duma," 
it was merely to submit suggestions to the monarch, most respectfully, 
and then, in turn, to accept, just as meekly, the Czar's decisions. 

With the officiousness of an ambitious policeman, Trepov tried to 
reawaken shadows of a political past amidst a country rife with 
rebellion. In turn, against these forbidding shadows there arose, 
with elementary strength, the spirit of the future, ready to overthrow 
past and present in one tremendous, irresistible onslaught, thus 
burying the glorious House of Romanov beneath the debris of 
absolutism. 



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN 

THE ASSASSINATION OF GRANDDUKE SERGIUS 

A THOUGH his cruelty equalled that of a degenerate child, 
Grandduke Sergius was the favourite uncle and brother-in- 
law of the Czar. Nicholas II entrusted to him complete 
power over the holiest city of the realm : Moscow, Cradle of 
the Romanovs. The pale, finely chiselled face of the Grandduke, 
framed by a silky beard, was dominated by a pair of eyes burning with 
the fire of madness. Whenever his carriage raced through the streets 
of Moscow, startled passers-by jumped out of its path in all haste. 

To maintain peace and order in city and country, Sergius knew of 
only one means : Merciless, brutal, widespread terror. During the 
entire period that the Grandduke ruled over Moscow, there were never 
any disturbances in that city. 

On the 4th of February, 1905 two weeks before the disastrous 
Battle of Mukden the Grandduke's carriage raced through the streets. 
A plainly dressed man appeared at the crossing and rushed towards the 
carriage, gesticulating wildly. When close to the coach, he halted and, 
with all his strength, flung a small, dark objeci at the feet of the horses 
A terrific detonation resounded and the eviscerated team rolled on 
the ground. The gala coach was smashed to atoms. Two little girls, 
festively garbed, were torn to pieces by splinters of the bomb. The 
children had eagerly awaited their first sight of a real, live grand- 
duke. Now, the blood-drenched and dismembered corpse of His 
Imperial Highness, Grandduke Sergius, Governor-General of the 
City of Moscow, was lying beneath the debris of the coach. 

The deafening repercussion of the terrific explosion was heard far 
away. Window panes rattled throughout the entire city. In the 
nearby Cafe Filipov, cups tumbled to the floor. On the terrace of 
the cafe sat an elegant man, with small gleaming eyes and a prominent 
shining bald pate. The gentleman was engrossed in his newspaper. 
Startled by the explosion, he arose. Complaining bitterly about " the 
terrible times we are living in," he folded his paper carefully and left 
the caf6. 

Kaljajev, assassin of the Grandduke, was apprehended and sub- 
sequently executed. But, after all, he was only a tool in the hands of 
the real murderer none other than that elegant gentleman who had 
complained so bitterly about " the terrible times." While he enjoyed 
the nickname of " General Bo," his real name was Boris Savinkov. 
Among initiates, he also was referred to as " Prince Hamlet who craves 
the part of Cesare Borgia." 

Two hours after the Grandduke's assassination, news of his violent 

130 



THE ASSASSINATION OF GRANDDUKK SERCTUS 13! 

end reached Peterhof Palace where the Czar resided at that time. It 
was deathly quiet at Peterhof ; pale courtiers moved through the 
halls spectrally. " The favourite uncle of the Czar," they whispered. 
" How dreadful !" 

There was nobody to convey the dire news to the Czar. "He is 
liable to kill the messenger, " the courtiers exclaimed, their voices 
trembling. 

" Who will tell him ? " was the anxious query. 

Names fluttered through the room. At last, from the hasty, appre- 
hensive whispers, from the confused groping, from the desperate search 
emerged just one feasible suggestion : " The Emperor's mother." She 
alone could convey the terrible message to her son. 

"Yes, the Emperor's mother," nodded the Minister of the Court 
gravely, " she must do it." 

The Czar sat by the window of the small, east-wing salon. Dusk 
was falling. He watched the play of the wraithlike shadows of the 
bare trees before his window. His face was tranquil. The day's work 
was done ; no more reports were expected. The big chair was soft 
and comfortable, inviting relaxation. But was it not the selfsame chair 
in which ill-fated Pa.ul once had rested ? A hundred years lay between 
the Czar and his unfortunate predecessor. Unfortunate ? Who, after 
all, in the long row of Romanovs, had ever been fortunate ? 

The Czar recalled that it was in this very salon that the King of 
England had been his luncheon guest. ' ' That profile of your husband," 
Edward VII had said to Alix, " greatly resembles that of Czar Paul." 
From the icy silence that had followed his words, the King concluded 
that he had made a faux pas. Edward VII had not been very well 
versed in the history of the Romanovs. He had not known that the 
ill-starred, ugly Paul had been given the epithet of " that revolting 
snub-nosed dwarf." Nor had he known that, in the assassination of the 
dwarf, the English ambassador, Sir Whitworth, had not been entirely 
blameless. 

The Czar looked about. The dusk of twilight played on the mirrored 
door. The mirror reflected a pale face with large eyes, a blond, pointed 
beard and a slightly elongated skull. Nothing in that face could remind 
one of Paul. The mirrored image moved. It came closer and half 
disappeared from the mirror. Where the right moustache and cheek 
had been, now appeared a hand, softly turning the door-knob. 
Empress-Mother, Maria Feodorovna, was entering the room. 

She approached her son. " My poor Niki," she said, stroking his 
hair. - ' Something terrible has happened. ' ' 

The Czar gazed at her questioningly. His eyes assumed a tired and 
tortured expression. 

The Empress bent toward him. " Uncle Sergius," she whispered, 
her voice hardly audible. 

The Czar closed his eyes; he covered his face with his hands. 
Muffled sobbing was heard in the small, half-dark salon. Was it the 
mother? Was it the son? 



132 NICHOLAS II 

Darkness fell ; all rooms in the palace were lighted except the small 
salon in the east wing. That room remained pitch dark. 

In another wing of Peterhof Palace, Prince Frederick Leopold of 
Prussia was dressing. The Prince had come to Peterhof, a few days 
previously, to visit the Czar. Nicholas II had invited him to an 
intimate supper that evening. At the moment that the Prince's valet 
was laying out Frederick Leopold's gala uniform, an aide-de-camp 
appeared to report Grandduke Sergius's assassination. 

" What a frightful catastrophe ! " said the Prince, and blanched. 
In the same instant, however, he thought : " How awkward, just now, 
when I am visiting here. Naturally, I shall disturb the bereft family 
with my presence as little as possible." 

" The supper, of course, will be cancelled/ 1 the Prince remarked to 
his aide-de-camp. " At any rate, go and find out. 1 ' 

The aide-de-camp departed and came back with the information : 
" The supper has not been cancelled." 

The Prince dressed with a heavy heart ; with a heavy heart, too, 
he entered the dining-room. The Czar and Grandduke Alexander were 
already there and both were laughing. "Ah, there you are, Royal 
Highness," Nicholas greeted the Prince, shaking hands with him. 

Conversation was most animated during the supper. Grandduke 
Alexander told jokes and Nicholas laughed appreciatively. Not one 
word was said about the assassination. The Prussian Prince could not 
believe his eyes ; he thought himself in an insane asylum with two 
of the inmates performing an execrable dance at an open grave. 

Supper over, Czar and Grandduke repaired to a narrow divan. 
Before the eyes of the bewildered Prince, an incredible scene took 
place. Czar and Grandduke poked each other with their elbows, both 
laughing in childish glee ; the one thrown off the divan first would be 
the loser. 

" Doesn't the Czar know anything about the assassination ? " the 
Prince asked his aide-de-camp on the way back to his suite. 

" Of course, Your Royal Highness ! The Dowager-Empress herself 
conveyed the sad news to His Imperial Majesty," the Adjutant replied. 

The Prince shrugged in amazement. "1 cannot understand ... it 
is beyond comprehension/ 1 he murmured, shaking his head. 

Even as Czar and Grandduke tickled and nudged each other in their 
childish game, a heavily veiled woman her eyes swollen from weeping 
entered a cell of the Moscow prison. She was Grandduchess Eliza- 
beth, wife of the assassinated Sergius, and sister of the Czarina. She 
had come to see her husband's murderer. 

After the barred door had been locked behind her and she faced 
the assassin, all alone, she lifted her veil. "You will be hanged 
to-morrow/' she exclaimed. " Oh, why did you do it ? " 

The prisoner avoided her eyes. Perhaps he was thinking of the 
elegant gentleman with the shining, bald pate on the terrace of Cafe 
Filipov. Perhaps, too, he thought of the far-away committee of terror- 
ists that would avenge his execution in time. At last, he answered 




poi'K (;.\]'ON. THK NOTokiors I.AMOIK IJ-.MM-.K 

1 Tin* POJH- brlu-voil hi- had I NTH sent by lleavrii ti> siivi- Kusii.i 



THE ASSASSINATION OF GRANDDUKE SERG1US 133 

drily : " My principles imposed the assassination upon me as a duty." 
Then, a sudden change came over him. He looked at the Grand- 
duchess, threw himself at her feet and kissed the hem of her garment. 
From his inarticulate sobbing, emerged the words : " Dear God, what 
anguish ! " 

The Grandduke's assassin was hanged the following day. The 
Grandduchess entered a nunnery and scarcely anything was heard of 
her thereafter. Although she had been very popular at the Russian 
Court she soon was forgotten, and only in 1918 came into prominence 
again. In the Siberian city of Alapajevsk she was seized by the 
Bolsheviks and suffered a cruel death. Had her husband's assassin 
foreseen her fate when he had cried brokenly: "Dear God, what 
anguish ! " 

Neither on the day that his favourite uncle was assassinated, nor 
on the days to follow, was there any perceptible change in the Czar's 
behaviour. He was, as always, reserved, friendly, unobtrusive. 

A few weeks after the assassination, the Czar received the meritorious 
General Kasbitch, Governor of a far eastern province. There, unrest 
among the workers had set in and the General had called out the 
military. But in order to forestall a bloody encounter between the 
populace and the troops the General had appeared on the balcony of 
his palace, and had delivered a stirring two-hour lecture on Christian 
virtue and the fulfilment of man's duty. Then and there a miracle 
took place ; the lecture proving efficacious. Deeply touched and 
filled with shame, the mob of workers dispersed. 

" And in exactly that way, Your Majesty," the General wound up, 
" I succeeded in avoiding unnecessary bloodshed, death, and murder." 

The Czar's face became distorted into a fearful grimace at these 
words. Clenching his fist, he rushed at the General and shouted : 
" You must shoot, General, you must shoot ! You must use bayonets 
and bullets against that rabble ! You must tear them to pieces I " 

The General retreated, appalled. In confusion and dismay he 
descended the staircase. That same evening, he handed in his 
resignation. 

The Czar's enraged advice had been heard in the antechamber. 
Before long all Russia knew of it. One whispered it in the ear of the 
other and, presently, as if it were an incantation, the whole country 
repeated the words : " The bloody Czar ! The bloody Czar ! " 

After the death of Grandduke Scrgius, the palace was as quiet as a 
mortuary. A strange void surrounded the Czar. Suddenly it proved 
very difficult for the monarch to find suitable candidates for the posts 
of generals and governors-general. The highest dignitaries of the 
country experienced an irrepressible urge to visit spas in foreign 
countries, there to find relief from old ailments. At the same time they 
entrusted their fortunes to banks in Berlin and Stockholm. 

Eventually the number of assassinated and wounded generals, 
governors, and other officials reached the staggering total of 489. 



134 NICHOLAS II 

The Czar's hand grew tired from signing death warrants. On the 
margin of reports on the assassinations of his best servants he could 
only write the stereotyped sentence: "Irreplaceable loss. His 
dependents are to be taken care of." 

In the middle of June, 1905, news of rebellion aboard the armoured- 
cruiser Potemkin startled the palace like a sudden clap of thunder, 
ushering in the end of the world. This breach of discipline impressed 
the supreme War Lord of Russia far more than had the loss of his 
Baltic fleet at Tsushima on the 27th of May, 1905. On the day of 
the Potemkin rebellion the Czar wrote in his diary the only angry 
sentence he ever included in those intimate notes : " It seems unbeliev- 
able. . . . What the devil is going on in the fleet ? ... If only the 
rest of the crew remains loyal ! . . . The mutineers must be punished 
severely. ff 

In view of the decimated army, the revolting fleet, and the threaten- 
ing revolution, the Czar decided to accept President Theodore Roose- 
velt 's offer of mediation. The unfortunate war, which had been draining 
Russia's strength for many months, was to find a peaceful solution on 
the soil of the United States. 

The same ailments, however, which forced the dignitaries of the realm 
to visit foreign spas for relief, prevented them from subjecting them- 
selves to the hardships of a trip to America. One and all were afraid 
of assuming such a thankless task. The more the lines of the dignitaries 
were thinned out the more clearly arose, on the horizon of imperial 
observation, the gigantic figure of Witte. Whilst fleet and army were 
annihilated in defeat, and whilst revolution shook the realm to its very 
depths, Witte's fame had grown immeasurably. That astute man had 
foreseen imminent disaster and had warned against the Far Eastern 
adventure, eventually retiring in bitter humiliation when his words 
fell upon deaf ears. 

" If the Czar will ask it of me personally, I shall be ready to go to 
America," Witte stipulated to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Count 
Lambsdorff. Witte's condition was accepted. From Nicholas's own 
hand, Witte received orders to repair to Portsmouth, N.H., to act as 
the Czar's plenipotentiary. 

During the days that Witte, aboard the North-German Lloyd liner 
Wilhelm der Grosse, sailed towards America, the Czar locked himself 
up in Pavlovsk. Through sleepless nights Nicholas pondered over 
Witte's mission. To that shrewd statesman he had entrusted the honour 
of the Russian Empire. " Not one square inch of Russian soil, not one 
copeck in tribute," had been the Czar's instructions. 

Witte found himself in a very awkward position because, aligned 
against him, were the revolutionaries, the Czar, the Japanese army, 
and the public opinion of the United States. " I decided to act/' 
Witte writes in his memoirs, " as if Russia were a mighty imperium and 
had suffered merely a slight, disagreeable inconvenience in some 
distant part of its realm." 

At the same time Witte, employing all the tricks of a clever diplomat, 



THE ASSASSINATION OF GRANDDUKE SERGIUS 135 

ardently wooed America's favour. Despite all warnings he insisted 
upon visiting New York's East Side, crowded with Russian Jewry. 
The hearts of simple peddlers and second-hand clothes dealers promptly 
melted when this distinguished messenger of the Russian Czar inquired 
about their business. On the railway trip from New York to 
Portsmouth, upon leaving his coach, he displayed his democratic spirit 
to the Press representatives by shaking hands with the train personnel. 
Witte joked genially with journalists, graciously accepted invitations 
for innumerable banquets, fulsomely praised all the institutions of the 
New World, and sadly confided to his diary that American hospitality 
had ruined his Russian stomach for at least three months. 

Witte attained his goal. When the Press of the world laid eyes upon 
the small, ugly Japanese delegate, Baron Kurino, standing beside the 
genially laughing giant Wittc, Russia won the first battle of the fateful 
war a battle not fought for the possession of a province, for a fortress, 
or for a city, but for the public opinion of the United States. And under 
pressure ot this public opinion the Japanese renounced their claims for 
provinces, cities and tributes. "You are not the victors," Witte 
assured the Nipponese delegate. " Only if your army had stood before 
the very gates of Moscow could one speak of a Japanese victory/ 1 

When the Japanese, after many renunciations, insisted upon retain- 
ing half of Saghalin, Witte fought with the courage of a lion for the 
retention of this icy island. Finally, it became necessary for President 
Roosevelt to communicate with the Czar over the head of the stubbornly 
inflexible Wittc. When the ambassador of the United States called 
upon the Czar he found the Emperor playing tennis. Nicholas put aside 
the racket for a moment, shook hands with the ambassador, renounced 
half of Saghalin Island arid returned to his game. The war was ended. 

On the night of the i;th of August, 1905, the Czar received a cable- 
gram from Witte. Peace had been concluded. " After this informa- 
tion I felt as if I were under a spell, 1 ' Nicholas wrote in his diary. 
11 Peace has been concluded. It is probably best so because it is 
inevitable. 1 ' 

Secretly, however, he bore a grudge against the statesman who 
had signed his name to Russia's greatest shame. Exile and punishment 
were to descend upon the head of the proud minister. However, when 
Witte, on his return to Russia, was invited to go hunting by the German 
Kaiser and was feted and honoured as a great peacemaker while at 
Rominten in East Prussia, the Czar felt constrained to be gracious 
towards him. 

On the i6th of September Witte returned to St. Petersburg and, 
on the i8th, he boarded the imperial yacht Standard on which 
Nicholas II was cruising in the Gulf of Finland. 
" v e ? m P eror was a 10116 when he received Witte in his state-room. 

You have brilliantly fulfilled your delicate mission in accordance 
witn the instructions I gave you," the monarch pronounced. " You 
nave rendered extraordinary services to me and to Russia. As a sign 
01 my recognition I herewith invest you with the title of Count. 11 



136 NICHOLAS IT 

Touched beyond words, Witte kissed the Czar's hand. 

Although the monarch's gratitude was in recognition of Witte's 
consummate statesmanship, by no means did it denote affection on the 
part of Nicholas the man. Shortly after Witte had been created a 
count, the Czar had a revealing conversation with old Princess 
Golitzyn. 

" Don't you think it would be interesting, Your Majesty/' the 
Princess remarked, " to open a man's brain and see what is hidden 
inside ? " 

" Whose brain is it that interests you so much ? " the Czar asked. 

" The brain of Count Witte." 

"It is easy to guess what you would find there. . . . You would 
discover that he hates me just as much as I hate him." 



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN 

THli 1'RKY 

A)NG the entire course of the Volga the estates of the nobles 
were aflame. Both banks of the river reflected the reddish 
glow of the conflagrations. Armed with strong axes, the 
mushiks chopped holes in the ice, and through these holes, 
landowners, policemen and popes vanished forever. In the stables of 
aristocratic estates, pedigreed livestock were slaughtered mercilessly 
and senselessly. These thoroughbreds aroused the murderous hatred 
of the peasantry because they called to mind the noble blood of their 
owners. 

The fires along the Volga in turn kindled others in the. Caucasus. 
Down south along the shores of the Caspian Sea, the: oil derricks 
around Baku flared up like so many torches. A wave of pogroms swept 
the mud-caked roads of Ukranian villages, in Kronstadt, Sevastapol 
and Kertch, sailors and soldiers mutinied. On the shores of the Baltic 
Sea bands of Latvian revolutionaries ruthlessly demolished the castles 
of German barons. Governors suddenly found themselves prisoners 
in their own palaces, the guard in front of their gates frequently 
representing the only dependable military unit in the whole province. 

Like a scourge of God, an army of millions, returning from the ill- 
fated war in Manchuria, was pouring back across Russia. In industrial 
centres throughout the realm, workmen's councils were organized, 
called " Soviets." They demanded the abdication of the monarch and 
insisted upon a proclamation of the republic. 

The Czar dispatched the choicest regiments of the Guard to restore 
order. The famous Preobrashensky marched through the woods of 
the Baltic provinces ; the Cavaliers' Guard patrolled the streets 
of St. Petersburg; the Semionovzy protected Peterhof; and in- 
numerable troops of fierce cossacks overflowed the steppes of the 
Ukraine. 

Revolutionary Russia opposed the Cavaliers' Guard and the 
Semionovzy with the threat of a general strike. On the 8th of October, 
1905, one million people of all strata of the population ceased work. 
Railroads stopped ; post office and telegraph stations remained closed ; 
entire cities cloaked themselves in complete darkness. 

The wide extent of the strike could be easily deducted from official 
bulletins of the Russian Telegraph Agency. Not one public institution 
had remained untouched. All had joined the tremendous demonstra- 
tion : high school pupils and university students, railroad employees, 
engineers, agricultural labourers, factory workers, telegraphers, post 
office clerks, compositors, printers, physicians, complete military 

137 



138 NICHOLAS II 

units, state officials, bank clerks, lawyers and judges, house employees, 
waiters, apothecaries, porters, and policemen. 

The capital appeared like a dead, deserted city. The streets were 
empty ; the exchanges closed. There were merely a few salons where 
excited politicians met to discuss whether Grandduke Demetrius, 
Prince Dolgoruki, or perhaps Prince Shtsherbatov would be the future 
Russian Czar. 

The atmosphere in Castle Pcterhof was indeed depressing. Courtiers 
crept along the dark halls of the palace like so many ghosts. Ministers 
could reach Peterhof only after a carriage ride of many hours. In the 
rooms of the Court chancellery grey and haggard figures congregated. 
Completely exhausted, the courtiers sank into deep leather chairs. 
Count Benckcndorff , Chief Marshal of the Court, his face ashen, regarded 
the crowd of officials surrounding him and declared : "It is too bad 
that the Emperor has five children. It will make flight to a foreign 
country very difficult for him/ 1 

During those tragic and dark days when absolutism died, the Czar's 
typical Romanov traits manifested themselves strikingly. With an 
unsurpassable calm, Nicholas played billiards, went on little trips in a 
small motor-boat, admired sunsets and received courtiers who dis- 
covered quite suddenly that there were very important personal 
matters to be taken care of in foreign countries. Nicholas made the 
ironical note in his diary : " Lovely times, these ! " 

On Sunday, the 22nd of October, 1905, at six in the evening, Count 
Witte entered the Czar's study by imperial invitation. As on a similar 
occasion the previous year, the Emperor was not alone. Grandduke 
Sergius, whose mad gaze had rested on Witte the last time, was dead 
now. In his stead the Count found the Czarina Alexandra Feodorovna 
sitting stifly erect and motionless, her nerves visibly taut. "She 
never uttered a word, but just sat like an automaton, and blushed like 
a lobster, as usual," Witte wrote subsequently. 

In that dim study, speech sounded dull and weary. Opposite the 
frail and wan Czar and his petrified consort sat Witte in a proud posture, 
as one who is certain of victory. Indeed, he was the very incarnation 
of that much-despised, new and hostile world which so suddenly 
confronted the Czar, amidst the quiet plains of Russia. 

Witte had no intention of sparing the imperial feelings. Assured of 
victory, he informed the Czar that the threatening dissolution of the 
Empire could be staved off only through a military dictatorship or a 
constitutional reform. He suggested that Grandduke Nicholai 
Nicholaievitch might be best qualified to assume the duties of a dictator, 
and as for the post of a reformer, he considered himself the most 
suitable candidate. 

The Count went into great detail in regard to necessary reforms. 
Among the changes he proposed were freedom of the Press, religious 
liberty, general amnesty, and the introduction of a Duma whose elected 
representatives alone would be granted the prerogative of exerting 
legislative functions. " Of course, until recently/ 1 Witte interposed 



TIFF, PREY 139 

significantly, " it might have been possible to save autocracy. Now, 
however, after the disgraceful war " here he shot an accusing glance 
at the Emperor " it is out of the question." 

The Count knew exactly along what route the funeral cortege of 
absolutism must proceed. The old Ministers' Committee which, after 
all, was only a loosely knit organization, must be dissolved. It would 
be replaced by a Ministers 1 Council and, analogous to Western custom, 
a prime minister would supervise the activities of the various depart- 
ments, after issuing general directions. The new Prime Minister was 
to be Count Wittc himself. 

The Czar received the detailed programme for a complete reformation 
of the Russian Empire from the hands of the Count. At the same 
time Witte stipulated that he would be ready to come to the assistance 
of the country, once more, only if the Czar would accept his programme 
without any change whatever. 

Nicholas II took three days for the perusal of Witte's funeral oration 
at the grave of absolutism. On the fourth day Wednesday, the 25th 
of October, 1905 Witte received the imperial message : "I herewith 
appoint you Chairman of the Ministers' Council for the purpose of 
unifying the activities of all ministers." 

The infuriated Count rushed to Peterhof. In a ringing, sharp voice, 
he reiterated to the Czar that he would accept the appointment only 
if the Czar agreed to his entire programme and officially renounced 
absolutism. 

On the 28th of October Witte's presence was commanded by the 
Czar once more. The Count remained at the palace until two in the 
afternoon, but the Czar still refused to sign the manifesto. " I must 
pray and think it over," he told Witte. " Go back to the city. By ten 
o'clock to-night I shall inform you whether I have reached a decision." 

The huge grandfather clock in Count Witte's house on Kamenoios- 
trovsky Prospect struck ten. No word from the Czar had come yet. 
Witte arose and crossed himself : " Thank heaven," he said solemnly 
as one who had escaped imminent danger, "this time I have been 
spared the cup of sorrow." 

However, the two reactionary old men, Goremykin and Baron 
Budberg, who had been invited to call upon the Czar unobtrusively at 
six o'clock that evening, did not dare plunge themselves into the 
vortex of revolution. With eager courtesy they changed the wording 
of Witte's outline ; but they, too, refused to assume responsibility for 
the fate of the throne. 

On the morrow, when the threat of famine stalked through the capital 
city, Count Witte's front-door bell was rung after midnight by Baron 
Frederiks, accompanied by the chief of his chancellery, Masolov. 
Gravely the two handed Witte his manifesto as it had been partly 
rewritten by Goremykin's reactionary hand. In reply, the Count went 
into a paroxysm of rage, his voice trembling in an excited falsetto. 
The shocked Frederiks had to listen to such abusive language about 
the Czar as his courtier's ears never had heard before. 



140 NICHOLAS II 

During the night of the 2gth of October, a fine, interminable rain fell. 
The clouds hung low over the palace. Sleep eluded the Czar. In his 
thoughts the roaring of the sea beneath his window was transformed to 
the rustling of the tree-tops in Belov Wood. There, each year, the Czar 
used to hunt aurochs. Rain had fallen frequently upon the wet, steaming 
ground when, trembling with anticipation, the Emperor had stalked the 
game. Was he himself the game now and absolutism the prey ? It 
seemed as if all the people in all the Russias had become hunters with 
Count Witte as the Master of the Hunt and Absolutism the goal of their 
pursuit. 

The Emperor's heart was heavy with apprehension. Were the people 
actually to be deprived of their Czar ? Had not the House of Romanov 
ruled this wet, desolate country through centuries ? Absolutism, 
after all, was not merely an empty gesture ; it was a world conception. 
Pressing his face against the cold window pane, the Czar wondered how 
this old world conception could be retained in a new form. Of course, 
the new Duma, too, would have to take an oath on the old-established 
absolutism. And should the deputies ever break their oath the Czar 
assuredly would know how to fulfil the pledge he had made on the 
day of his coronation. 

The abstract analysis of the problems besetting the Czar wearied 
him ; even as in the world outside his window, autumn had come into 
his own life. During the last night of omnipotence, with Nicholas 
indulging in syllogisms, the patter of the rain on the window panes 
echoed and re-echoed : The end, the end, the end. 

The Czar turned away from the window. ' ' There are no loyal servants 
left," he muttered fatigued. "I must await Nicolasha's advice," 
he pondered, recalling his huge uncle who, alone of all the relatives, 
had rushed from his estate to St. Petersburg to be of assistance to his 
imperial nephew. The Grandduke's appearance at Court had assuaged 
the excited courtiers, who had immediately concluded that he had 
come to assume the military dictatorship. Nicholas had been conferring 
with the Grandduke for a few days. On the morning of the 30th of 
October, Nicholai Nicholaievitch was to advise him of his definite 
opinion. 

The Grandduke was of gigantic stature. His voice thundered, and 
his enormous eyes flashed wildly. When he strode across the soft rugs 
of the palace with his enormous feet, those who watched him had the 
feeling that the elegant halls suddenly were filled with the free, driving 
winds of the Asiatic steppes. At parades it was the Grandduke's 
greatest pleasure to view whole regiments of cavalry galloping past him. 
Watching them spellbound he would beat his chest exultantly and 
twist his cap, finally ripping it to pieces ; from his throat issued savage, 
inarticulate sounds. At such moments he resembled a Mongolian Khan 
more than an imperial prince. Because of his striking enthusiasm for 
cavalry he was generally considered a great strategist. 

The Grandduke always entered the Czar's palace as if he were 
leading a cavalry charge. He had a way of throwing open the doors 



THE PREY 

and walking so fast that his aide-do-camp never could keep up with 
him. Planting himself before the Czar, like a colossus, he would roar 
at him : " Good morning, Niki ! " Beside his gigantic uncle the Czar 
seemed even frailer than usual. His face flushing he would rise shyly 
and self-consciously and whisper : " Good morning, Uncle." 

The Czar feared Nicholai Nicholaievilch. He was intimidated by 
his uncle's powerful frame and his bellowing voice, and by the entire 
bewildering world in which he dwelt. Deep down in his heart, Nicholas 
harboured the belief that this giant of a man could throw any czar off 
the throne with one violent kick and place the crown of the Romanovs 
on his own head. At such moments the Czar hated the Granddukc 
thoroughly. 

The robust figure and wild eyes of the Grandduke, however, did not 
cloak real strength of character or insatiable greed for power. True, 
the Grandduke did not love his frail, weak nephew. But then, this 
nephew was the Anointed One, and the Grandduke had his own 
opinion regarding the holy person of a czar. 

11 Do you think our ruler is human ? " he once asked Count Wittc 
in a confidential talk. 

Witte replied soberly : " God gave us His Majesty as a ruler but, 
naturally, he is human with all the attributes of mortal man." 

The Granddukc stared into the distance for a while and then replied, 
his voice ringing with conviction: "You are all wrong, my dear 
Witte, the Czar is not human, neither is he a god. Perhaps he is some- 
thing in between a demi-god ? " 

At home, whether in his palace or on his estate, the Grandduke 
affected semi-darkness, soft sighs, and mystical conversations. He 
carried on occult conversations with his wife, the Montenegrin princess, 
whose soul was completely steeped in supernatural magic. Because 
the Grandduke ranked higher than anyone, with the exception of the 
Czar, and because he could not do very much with this one higher 
being, only God and the ghosts were left for his personal private 
intercourse. God was far away, inaccessible arid impenetrable as 
befits a strict superior. The ghosts, on the other hand, could be subdued. 
The Grandduchcss assured him of that as did certain courtiers and 
generals. 

On long, quiet wintry nights, the Grandduke and his courtiers 
assembled around a table. Windows and doors were locked. The 
long nervous fingers of the Grandduke slid across the table and the 
stance began. From magic darkness emerged the spirit of Peter 
the Great, or perhaps the spirit of some stoker at the Court of Alexius 
Michailovitch. Cups rattled, tables rapped, the Grandduke sat with 
his eyes half-closed, his lips twitching. He felt himself being gradually 
transported from the terrestrial realm into the kingdom of the 
supernatural. 

When the revolution of 1905 came, the Grandduke did not ask the 
advice of generals, ministers, and officials ; he asked the spirits, and 
they were entirely in favour of a constitution. Imbued with this 



142 NICHOLAS II 

knowledge, Nicholai Nicholaievitch rushed through the Czar's palace 
like a whirlwind. In the great reception hall he encountered the old 
Count Frederiks, a lifelong friend of his. With his left hand the 
Grandduke caught the Minister by the scruff of his neck ; in his right, 
gleamed a revolver. 

" Count," he roared, " I am on my way to the Czar. If he doesn't 
grant a constitution immediately I shall send a bullet through my 
head." 

And before Count Frederiks could grasp the situation the Grandduke 
had flung open the door to the Czar's study. Presently two voices 
were heard, one thundering, the other trembling. 

" How do you do, Niki." 

" How are you, Uncle ? " 



CHAPTER NINETEEN 

THE END OF ABSOLUTISM 

I^HE conversation between Czar and Grandduke lasted only 
a few minutes. Nicholai Nicholaievitch came rushing out 
of the Czar's study, planted himself before Count Frederiks 
like a behemoth and roared: "His Majesty approves of 
the manifesto. Get Witte immediately and have clean copies of the 
document made in the chancellery." 

Accompanied by Nicholai Nicholaievitch and Count Frederiks, 
Witte entered the imperial study at five o'clock that afternoon. 
Nicholas II sat at his desk. With a deep genuflection Frederiks handed 
him the manifesto. The Czar's grey eyes, shadowed by long, silky 
lashes, were glued to the document. Representing the imperial family, 
the Court, and the Government, the three waited patiently. No escape 
for the frail monarch was possible. From a wall of the room, the icon 
of St. Seraphim looked down in silent displeasure. 

The Emperor arose. He crossed himself, with his right hand, 
Byzantine fashion. Then he sat down and signed the manifesto. 
With business-like precision, Witte tucked the paper into his brief- 
case. 

The Granddukc and Count Witte were conveyed back to St. Peters- 
burg in the imperial yacht. The eyes of the Grandduke gleamed with 
wild joy, his voice was as strident as a fanfare. Staring into the void 
with all the solemnity of a visionary, he announced to the new dictator : 
" To-day is the 3Oth of October, 1905, the anniversary of the Borki 
catastrophe. For the second time, this day has saved the imperial 
family." 

Meanwhile, back in his study in Peterhof, the Emperor paced up 
and down with bowed head. His desk, the pictures on the wall every- 
thing seemed suddenly strange to him. Dusk fell. In the gloaming 
even familiar objects assumed hostile and threatening forms. For many 
years to come the Czar was to experience a painful, depressing sensation 
upon entering this room. Later, he once made the remark : " This 
room recalls anxious days. It was right here that I felt this man Witte 
was bending every effort to lead me in the wrong direction. Alas, I 
lacked the strength to oppose him." 

On the evening of that memorable day the Czar wrote in his diary : 
" At five o'clock I signed the manifesto. It has been a trying day and 
my head feels heavy, my thoughts are awhirl. May God help us to 
tranquillize Russia." 

While the Czar thus recorded the decline of absolutism in his 
diary, an imperial manifesto appeared on all the walls and fences of 

M3 



144 NICHOLAS II 

St. Petersburg, announcing the beginning of a new epoch. The 
manifesto read : 

" The confusion and unrest in Our capital city and in many other 
parts of Our country fill Our heart with great and heavy sorrow. The 
weal of the Russian Emperor is indivisibly connected with the weal of 
His people. The troubles of His people become His worries. . . . The 
solemn oath of imperial service commands Us to employ every means at 
Our disposal to bring about an early termination of this unrest so 
dangerous to the realm. In fulfilment of Our irrevocable will We 
impose the duty upon the Government, that henceforth it shall be an 
unchangeable rule that no law may be put into effect without the 
approval of the Duma ; and, furthermore, that the representatives of 
the people are entitled to assure themselves of the legality of all activi- 
ties on the part of authorities appointed by Us. We admonish all true 
sons of Russia to do their duty to their country ; to aid in the speedy 
termination of this unprecedented confusion ; and to re-establish 
tranquillity and peace in the homeland." 

The typesetters and printers of St. Petersburg ended their strike so 
that the Czar's manifesto might be published. Telegraph offices were 
reopened to spread the word of the Czar throughout Russia. Engineers 
boarded their locomotives in order that the grace of the Czar could be 
proclaimed in distant cities. Enormous crowds, bearing red flags, 
gathered in Nevsky Prospect. Even the weather changed. Under the 
influence of imperial grace and, incidentally, under the rays of the 
sun both the hearts of the people and the snow in the streets melted. 
Disregarding the season, Liberal newspapers announced : " Spring in 
the heavens, spring in all hearts. 11 

Amidst the wild jubilation of those days there were few who dwelt 
wistfully on the dead autocracy. Only in the narrow circle of aristo- 
crats and clergy was the Emperor accused of breaking his holy corona- 
tion oath by permitting autocracy to be wrested from his weak grasp. 
Count Sheremtiev, a lifelong friend of the Emperor, and Russia's richest 
landowner, ordered that all pictures of the Czar in his castle be turned 
to the wall. An ecclesiastical newspaper in Moscow appeared with a 
border of mourning which framed the single sentence on its front page : 
11 God save the Czar!" 

Grandduke Alexander describes the impression of those days in 
retrospect with more than a touch of bitterness. " Without gratifying 
the desires of the peasantry, Nicholas II renounced autocracy, regard- 
less of the oath he had taken in Uspensky Cathedral on the occasion of 
his coronation, and in which he had promised to keep holy the command- 
ments of his forebears. At last the intelligentsia was granted their 
much-desired parliament. The Russian Czar became a parody of the 
English King. The son of Alexander III agreed to share his power with 
a band of conspirators, political assassins, and inciters. This, then, 
was the end the end of the dynasty and the end of the imperium." 

The heritage of Russian absolutism was assumed by the new chair- 
man of the Ministers' Council, Count Sergius Julievich Witte. Digni- 



THE END OF ABSOLUTISM 145 

taries of old disappeared under Witte's regime into an abyss of oblivion. 
Pobedonostsev, Trepov, Bulygin, and many other ministers and 
governors were dismissed by the Czar with a friendly handshake. The 
ruler's power was scarcely sufficient to maintain his special favourite, 
Trepov, in the post of Palace Commandant. Replacing those who had 
been dismissed, the halls of the ministries were now crowded with mute 
creatures of the new "Grand Vizier/ 1 the " Count of Saghalin, 11 as 
Witte was scornfully dubbed in Conservative circles. 

Along with the dignity of a prime minister, Count Witte also assumed 
the dictatorial leanings of a born autocrat. While the mushiks vainly 
looked for relief in the wording of the imperial manifesto, and while 
the fires of peasant revolt spectrally illuminated Russia, Witte stamped 
out revolution with a heavy hand. 

Only the Czar stood as a bulwark now between the intelligentsia of 
the cities and the disappointed mushiks. 

The Liberal world that had undermined czardom now blanched as it 
beheld the infuriated Asiatic grimace, emerging from behind a screen 
of imperial bayonets which hitherto had obscured it. " The Russian 
intelligentsia should be grateful to the Czar for protecting them with 
his prisons and bayonets against the wrath of the peasantry. Woe to 
all of us if we ever should live to see the end of czardom/ 1 was written 
prophetically in Vechi, a periodical of that time. 

The spirit of revolt still prevailed. On the i6th of December Witte 
had the St. Petersburg Soviet arrested. Presently the great Moscow 
revolt of Lenin set in. For three days Lenin knocked at the doors of 
the Kremlin, and for three days the age-old gilded cupolas landmarks 
of Romanov power- looked down upon the revolution of the red 
Soviets. Eventually, the guns of General Dubassov squelched Lenin's 
revolt. 

Two brutally energetic generals, Sakomelsky and von Rennenkampf , 
re-established regular railway traffic. A dozen resolute governor- 
generals tranquillized the Baltic region, the Caucasus, Siberia, and 
South Russia. The God-imposed order advanced victoriously. Liberal 
millionaires and princes fled to foreign lands ; some committed suicide, 
others died of heart failure. 

Punctual arrival of trains, policemen at street corners, and satisfied 
smiles on the part of Witte, regained for Russia the confidence of 
foreign countries. Moreover, France's loan of two and a half 
billion gold francs assured the Count of the ultimate victory of his 
dictatorship. 

While Witte brought home the army from Siberia to Russia, and 
while he had peasants whipped in their villages, reinstating Liberal 
landowners to their sanctified rights of property, mute battalions of 
voters marched to the polls. To the chagrin of the Government the 
peasantry gave their newly acquired votes to those parties who had 
written into their programmes, in large letters, the word "Land," 
conspicuously absent in the imperial manifesto. 

The radical results of the Duma election sealed Count Witte's fate. 



146 NICHOLAS II 

Nicholas II, who, under Witte's pressure had been forced to acquiesce 
for the first time in his life, now dismissed the dictatorial Count. 

Later, Witte sought to prove, in his memoirs, that he desired nothing 
more than to be relieved of the burden of his office. In reality, however, 
his dismissal struck him like a bolt of lightning from a clear sky. ' ' I 
didn't leave ; he threw me out/ 1 Witte declared, shortly after his 
retirement to Kokovzov. Even more bitter was his comment to 
Grandduke Alexander. " The Emperor," Witte said, " is an Oriental. 
A typical Byzantine. We conversed for two hours. He shook my hand 
and embraced me. He wished me lots of luck and success. Overcome 
with joy, I returned home . . . and on the same day I received the 
ukase t dismissing me." 

To assuage the ruffled feelings of the dismissed dictator, the Czar 
sent him the jewelled Order of the Holy Prince Alexander Nevsky, 
the selfsame ornament which he had worn on the day of his coronation 
in Uspensky Cathedral. With Witte removed, the Emperor felt 
the relief of one who has escaped a nightmare. 

" What did the Czar say after he dismissed me ? " Witte once asked 
an old courtier. The courtier snickered and replied : ' ' All the Emperor 
said was ..." and the courtier indulged in a vehement sigh of relief. 

The revolution was over. The imperial double eagle arose majesti- 
cally over the tranquillized country. The last echoes of the dying 
revolution faded like the lapping of a becalmed sea. The courtiers, 
miraculously cured of their assorted ailments, returned from their 
sojourns to foreign climes and once more lent colour to the halls of 
the imperial palaces. Emerging from their estates, the granddukes 
assured the Czar of their brotherly love and humble fealty. The Czar's 
signature, under the manifesto of the 3oth of October, 1905, was the 
sole reminder that old Holy Russia's existence had come to an end, and 
that the Most Orthodox Czar had declared his readiness to share his 
power with rebellious lawyers, Liberal professors, and idealistic writers. 



CHAPTER TWENTY 

" A CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY UNDER AN AUTOCRATIC CZAR " 

FROM the magic twilight of the " white nights " of St. Peters- 
burg, from the heavy Neva fog, emerged strange and fantastic 
images and spectres. The exhalation of the Finnish swamps 
brought forth ghouls, cerberuscs, basilisks, pre-diluvian 
monsters, and demons, their poisonous breath evidently seeking to 
destroy the old, strong capital of Peter the Great. The menacing 
wraiths of 120,000 mushiks, upon whose 1 corpses the city was built, 
threatened to devour the noble Neva metropolis in a single onslaught. 

The reception of the first Duma, held in the great Throne Room of 
the Winter Palace, on the 27th of April, 1906, appeared to the Czar 
to be precisely such a demoniacal assault. 

The Throne Room of Saint George, with its pure white Corinthian 
columns, its enormous candelabras and marble balustrades was the 
centre of the palace. On one wall of the hall was a canopy. Eight steps 
led up to the throne of the Czar. Velvet-covered footstools, to the 
right and left of the throne, displayed the insignia of the imperial power : 
the crown, the sceptre and the imperial orb. Over the throne itself was 
draped the imperial coat of ermine, the thousand-year reign of the 
czars enveloped in its folds. 

On the morning of the 27th of April, 1906, the Czarina herself, 
trembling a little, had spread the imperial cloak over the throne. 
With her own hands she had arranged the folds of the state robe. In 
the soft ermine she seemed to sense the dying spasms of autocracy. 
To-day, the 27th of April, 1906, the imperial family would take official 
farewell of absolutism. 

At noon elegant courtiers crowded the Throne Room. Grey-haired 
counsellors of state, venerable senators, and members of the imperial 
entourage assumed their places to the right of the throne. Facing 
them, lined up on the other side of the throne, stood the deputies of the 
new Duma. Old and new Russia glared at each other with undisguised 
contempt. A wide aisle had been left open between the two groups 
so that the imperial couple might ascend the throne. In the centre of 
this aisle six tall tapers gleamed upon a small altar. 

The entire atmosphere of the Throne Room was tense. The very 
apparel of the Duma deputies struck the gentlemen to the right of 
the throne as an unmistakable gesture of provocation. The aristocrats, 
standing in stiff dignity, had donned their most brilliant uniforms and 
bedecked their chests with medals. In contrast the Duma deputies 
especially those in the first row were unusually aggressive-looking 
types, attired in workmen's blouses, peasant shirts, and high, heavy 

M7 



148 NICHOLAS II 

boots. It seemed as if the rebellious deputies of the Duma, by their 
marked informality of dress, had made it a point to proclaim democratic 
freedom and utter contempt for the arrogance of the courtiers. 

At one o'clock the wide doors of the Malachite Hall opened, revealing 
the slight figure of the Czar. He was resplendent in the gala uniform 
of a colonel of his Preobrashensky regiment, an impressive array of 
orders across his chest. To his right was the Dowager-Empress, 
her serious face immobile as usual ; to his left was Alexandra 
Feodorovna, her beautiful face as pale as the marble columns of the 
hall. The Czarina's thin lips were compressed, and her gaze was 
focussed upon the symbols of absolutism, displayed beneath the canopy. 
The deep voice of the Metropolitan filled the room. The Czar crossed 
himself fervently, his eyes expressing devout piety. The church choir 
implored God's blessing for the new imperial departure. The Czar 
strongly felt that, with the intonation of the old Slavonic chants, his 
realm was embarking upon a new epoch. 

The choir silent, the monarch slowly ascended the throne. Court 
Minister Frcderiks handed him the text of his speech. From the 
brocade-covered rostrum, Nicholas II studied the throng of deputies. 
Their strange faces filled him with suspicion. There they were, the 
rebels of yesterday ! His imperial word had called them to the Neva 
city. Would they properly appreciate this proof of imperial favour ? 

Nicholas unfolded the sheets and read his speech from the throne. 
Expressed in archaic language, his address seemed a continuation of 
the ecclesiastical chants of the Metropolitan : 

"Celestial Providence that imposed upon Us the responsibility for 
the weal of Our country has moved Us to summon the deputies of 
Our people for co-operation in legislative labours. Fervently believing 
in a glorious future for Russia, We welcome them as the representatives 
whom Our much-beloved subjects elected in accordance with Our 
command. Although difficult tasks await you, We are certain that 
love for your homeland and a burning desire to serve Russia will 
inspire and strengthen you. We, for Our part, shall steadfastly preserve 
the principles involving those privileges which were granted to you. 
We sincerely trust that you will consecrate all your strength to the 
service of the country so that you may ascertain the needs of the 
peasantry, so near and dear to Our heart, and may plan ways of in- 
creasing education and national wealth. While bent upon your labours, 
you will constantly bear in mind that the dignity and happiness of the 
Empire must rest firmly upon an order in accordance with the principles 
of law. May Our sincere wishes find fulfilment, so that We may leave 
a happy, strong, well-ordered, and enlightened Empire to Our son. 
God's blessing be upon the labours now before Us, the State's Council, 
and the Duma. May this day forever be a day of renewal of Russia's 
best forces. With the very best that is in you, embark, then, upon the 
labours for which We have called you together, and prove yourselves 
worthy of the confidence bestowed by Czar and people. May God be 
with Us and with you ! f ' 




I'OUF.DONOSTSKY. Sl'PKKMK I'l KM \< \Tt >K ( >I THK llf)I.V SVN<)1> 



"CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY UNDER AN AUTOCRATIC CZAR " 149 

The speech over, the grey-haired state counsellors, the officers, and 
courtiers shouted: "Hurrah!" But in the ranks of the Duma 
deputies, to the left of the throne, an ominous silence prevailed. The 
feudalistic tenor of the Czar's speech had outraged the democratic 
spirit of the representatives. 

The ruler strode from the hall with measured steps. The door 
swung open. Followed by the Metropolitan, by generals and pages, the 
Czar left behind him the gloomy glances of the Duma deputies. 

Silently, the representatives of the people left. Outside the sun was 
shining. An excited multitude surrounded them ; a guard of honour 
presented arms. The bright sun, the wild acclaim of the people, their 
new dignity all served to blind the Duma deputies. Presently, 
feeling very important indeed, they boarded a number of small Neva 
steamers conveying them to Taurida Palace, a meeting place of the 
Duma. 

The new Prime Minister, Ivan Loginovitch Goremykin, now 
embarked upon the fulfilment of the imperial programme. Goremykin 
was an old man ; indeed, the oldest minister of the realm. " His 
Majesty condescends to take me out of the camphor chest like an old, 
moth-eaten fur coat," he had said, when informed of his appointment. 

Goremykin's age notwithstanding, the principles according to which 
he was to rule the realm were far older. Dating back to the year 1765, 
their originator was the famous Russian Field-Marshal, Count Burk- 
hard Christian von Miinnich. Once, when asked according to what 
principles government is carried on in Russia, this Court villain had 
replied : "In comparison to all other countries, the Russian Empire 
enjoys the great advantage of being governed by God Himself. Other- 
wise, how could its existence be explained ? " 

Goremykin completely agreed with Count Miinnich's opinion. An 
empire ruled by God Himself really needed no prime minister; 
certainly it needed a Duma even less. "It is all nonsense ; it will 
lead to nothing," was Goremykin's stereotyped reply to all govern* 
mental questions submitted to him. The very idea that a minister 
could recommend a measure to the Czar was regarded by Goremykin 
as ultra-revolutionary. In his opinion the business of government 
took care of itself for the simple reason that God's own blessings 
rested on it. According to Goremykin's mind, those who did not share 
his views were imbued with rebellious thoughts. He suspected not 
only Duma deputies and generals of treacherous leanings, but even the 
Czar himself. After the manifesto of the 30th of October, 1905, the 
only measure which seemed important to Goremykin was a speedy 
dissolution of the Duma and a return to the patriarchal form of j 
ment. In this regard, the Prime Minister was far more 
the Czar himself who never even thought of breaking 

Nicholas II realized that Goremykin's shouldersr 
as they were certainly were not strong enough 
burdens of government. However, he knew that 
the extent that everything in the world appeare 




1 50 NICHOLAS Tl 

could be depended upon absolutely. " The most important considera- 
tion for me," Nicholas said, " is my conviction that Goremykin will 
not do anything behind my back. I know I can have full confidence 
in him, and I know he will not take me unawares." 

Co-operation between old Goremykin and the young Duma neces- 
sarily assumed strange forms. Each time the lisping and slobbering 
Gorcmykin appeared on the rostrum and began : " Gentlemen of the 
Duma," the unanimous demand resounded from the ranks of the 
deputies : " Resign, resign, resign ! " 

At such moments, the old man stroked his ultra-dignified beard 
and looked disdainfully at the people's representatives. Deep in the 
recesses of his heart, he longed for that hour when he might hold 
an imperial ukase in his hand, ordering the dissolution of this band 
of robbers. " ' State's Duma, 1 " Gorcmykin reflected bitterly, and 
before his eyes arose, in sweet revery, pictures of the old " Czar's 
Duma " which once, together with the Muscovite czars, had created 
the va t empire of Nicholas II. 

"The 'Czar's Duma'!" In the old yellow chronicles of the 
Muscovite realm, this word was the very epitome of dignity, and loyalty 
to the Czar. Far back, in the days of Ivan the Terrible, Vassily III, 
and the quiet Alexius, the venerable, long-bearded boyars of the Czar 
assembled daily in the semi-darkness of the Gronovites' Hall in Moscow. 
Wearing the monomachist hat, the Czar, from his golden throne, 
listened to recorders reading reports and ukases, each opening with the 
sentence : " The Czar commands and the boyars resolve ..." 

In the old Duma little was said and that little was whispered ever 
so softly. The boyars stroked their beards, regarded the Czar with 
utmost respect, and if ever they argued it was only about the age of 
their respective families, and the glories of their honourable forebears. 

The Duma recorder, Katoshichin, driven to distraction, had fled 
from old Moscow to Sweden where he wrote in his memoirs : " The 
boyars sit in the Duma without uttering a word and just stroke their 
beards, because they don't know how to think or how to speak." 

Peter the Great dissolved this venerable conclave of old nobles, 
and for twp hundred years the word " Duma " was mentioned only 
in learned theses, dealing with the czars of old. But the revolution 
had awakened in the people memories of that old institution. Mean- 
while, however, in two hundred years of an absolute imperial Russia, 
the old noble families had died out. The city of Peter the Great 
neither witnessed arguments among the boyars nor did it know the 
pride in ancestry. In 1905, the year of storm and stress, the old word 
" Duma " assumed new form and meaning when the " Czar's Duma " 
changed into the " State Duma." The boyars of this Duma, to be 
sure, were little inclined merely to stroke their beards and look upon 
their Czar in humble awe. 

The " State's Duma " held their meetings in the old, half-forgotten 
Taurida Palace. Prince Gregor Potemkin, Tauridian lover of the Great 
Catherine, had erected this palace as a monument to his glory, his 



"CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY UNDER AN AUTOCRATIC CZAR" 151 

power, and his dignity. The great column-studded hall had been the 
scene of picturesque balls given by the Tauridian prince. It had been 
there that Catherine had danced ; there, too, she had discussed with 
Potemkin her plans for the conquest of Asiatic steppes and European 
cities. 

The glory that had been Potemkin's seemingly passed on to the 
members of the Duma. During chaotic proceedings, excited speeches, 
and rebellious resolutions, they imagined themselves to be the collective 
heirs of the powerful prince. Following his example, they endeavoured 
to enforce their will upon the highest authority of the realm, intoxicated 
as they were from the acclaim of the multitude in the streets of St. 
Petersburg. True, the palace in which the Duma met had been 
Potemkin's once. But the power of the Duma was not unlike those 
" Villages of Potemkin " which the Tauridian prince had made of 
cardboard in conquered provinces to demonstrate to the Empress the 
blessings of his administration. This time, not an Empress, but the 
Duma itself was impressed by the false glamour of " Potemkian 
villages." 

While the Government put such world-shaking questions before 
the Duma as to whether the University of Dorpat should be granted 
a new hothouse, deputies demanded a general amnesty of all political 
prisoners as well as an immediate expropriation of land and the 
organization of a ministry responsible to the Duma, and not to the 
monarch. 

The ministers were aghast and incensed at the audacity of the 
Duma. Minister of Finance Kokovzov, feared that Russian securities, 
as a result of speeches in the Duma, would decline rapidly on the 
French exchanges. The young, newly appointed Minister of Interior, 
Peter Arkadievitch Stolypin, submitted daily reports to the Czar, 
clipped from the provincial Press. Thus, he aimed to prove to the 
monarch that the revolution, scarcely under control, was liable to 
flare up again if the rebellious speeches of Duma deputies were 
permitted wide publicity. 

Even as the ministers, more or less outspokenly, suggested the 
dissolution of the Duma to the Czar, the deputies argued the question 
whether the Czar should still be permitted to glory in the title of " Auto- 
crat of All the Russias," and whether the Duma was authorized to 
block governmental credits. When old Goremykin read a govern- 
mental statement to the Duma on the i3th of May, 1906, Deputy 
Nabokov rushed up to the rostrum and shouted : " The administrative 
authority should be subordinated to the legislative powers ! " 

The desk of the Czar in Czarskoje Selo overflowed with the warnings 
of ministers and transcriptions of rebellious speeches made in the 
Duma. Nicholas read them all with his usual equanimity. He remained 
unresponsive to Goremykin's insinuating questions as well as to his 
most enticing hints. The Czar was convinced that his speech from the 
throne had left a lasting impresssion. All these revolutionary experi- 
ments appeared to him merely the first reaction of a natural exuberance 



152 NICHOLAS II 

on the part of the Duma deputies. Presently, these provincial 
politicians would grasp the fact that the mechanics of government were 
far more intricate than they had ever imagined. " Never anticipate 
developments," the Czar lectured his ministers. "Even the most 
hopeless disease may pass through a miracle." 

However, when the disease became aggravated and the miracle failed 
to occur, the Czar, as Father of the Country, resolved to speak a word 
of warning to the rebellious Duma democrats once more. 

In his opinion, even the hardest-hearted Duma deputy would 
capitulate before the archaic phraseology of an imperial address. The 
resolution of the Czar to speak again to the Duma stirred the ministers. 
11 A monarch," they told him, " should not permit the purple of his 
imperial cloak to become soiled by contact with the Duma rabble." 
Nicholas listened silently to their tactful protests. It was very difficult 
to dispute the wisdom of dozens of well-meaning reactionaries. 

In the seclusion of his study, Nicholas ceaselessly sought to find a 
course which would not infringe upon the dignity of the crown yet 
would satisfy those childish rebels at the Taurida Palace. Just then, 
at the inception of the new era, he hesitated to make use of his preroga- 
tive to dissolve the Duma. " Perhaps," he reasoned, " it is wrong to 
lay all the blame at the feet of the Duma. After all, it must be rather 
difficult for those young people in the Duma to co-operate with such 
a f ossil as Goremykin. ' ' And he recalled an adage by Pushkin : ' ' Don't 
team up an ass with a timid doe. ' ' True, Goremykin was not exactly an 
ass nor the Duma precisely a timid doe ; nevertheless, the warning 
was not to be ignored altogether. 

In the marble halls of the palaces, courtiers could divine the inner- 
most imperial thoughts from a fluttering of the Czar's eyelashes, from 
the way he furrowed his brow and smoked his cigarette, or by the sound 
of his tread on the parquet floor. The first to interpret the imperial 
mind, this time, was the Palace Commandant, Trepov. 

The staggering events of 1905 had not succeeded in changing the 
brave Palace Commandant to any marked degree. Trepov still judged 
politics and world history from the smug viewpoint of a glorified 
castellan, in the fortunate position of bringing his opinions and 
cogitations directly before his imperial master. 

The possibility that the Duma might be dissolved harassed the 
officious Palace Commandant like a nightmare. Should the Duma 
actually be prorogued, how was he to protect St. Petersburg including 
the Palace Square and its highly polished window panes against the 
destructive repercussions of terrorists' bombs ? In order to be prepared 
f 01 such an emergency, the cautious Trepov had arranged for a torpedo* 
boat flotilla to be held in readiness. Then, should the necessity arise, 
it would be possible to convey the all-highest family, entrusted to his 
care, to a safe, foreign port. 

In view of all the complications which might arise from a dissolution 
of the Duma, possibilities of forming a Liberal ministry appeared 
to the anxious Trepov as a veritable inspiration from on high. Time and 



"CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY UNDER AN AUTOCRATIC CZAR" 153 

again Nicholas had to listen to the suggestions of the Palace Com- 
mandant. His list of candidates for a responsible Liberal ministry 
reposed on the Czar's desk for many days. The monarch was well 
acquainted with the names of Miljukov, Nabokov, and other Liberal 
politicians. To be sure, these men were astute, educated, and experi- 
enced. However, they completelv lacked genuine understanding of the 
real meaning of czardom and of the mushiks* fervent faith in it ; nor 
could they appreciate that supernatural element which alone guaranteed 
the existence of czar and realm. 

Nicholas was fully aware of the heavy burden of work and responsi- 
bility imposed upon him, rendered all the more exacting because he 
considered it a responsibility to God rather than to his subjects. In 
the eyes of God, no constitution, no ministry, and no solemn assurance 
could lighten his burden ! Indeed, the Czar reasoned, the more he 
permitted the people to relieve him of his cares, the greater would be 
his responsibility to the Almighty. 

At any rate, an attempt could be made. During one of the usual 
weekly reports the Czar showed his Minister of Finance, Kokovzov, the 
list of candidates for a Liberal ministry as compiled by Trepov. " I 
beg of you, 1 ' said the ruler, " to let me have your opinion regarding 
these suggestions. It will not be necessary for you to restrain yourself 
in the least in expressing your views on the matter. 1 want you to tell 
me honestly what you think of it. 11 

Kokovzov quaked as he read the list. As a trained official, he 
immediately foresaw what would probably happen if the Czar actually 
entrusted the Government apparatus to these young Liberals. 

"Your Majesty/ 1 he ventured, "it is easy enough to appoint 
ministers, but very difficult, at times, to dismiss them." Then, quietly 
and impressively, he discoursed on the dignity of the monarch, the 
childish stupidities of the Duma, and respect for the law. 

After the Minister had finished, the Czar arose and said gravely : 
" Much of what you say I know to be true from long experience and 
observation. However, I prefer to listen to divergent views and I never 
reject anything immediately. Naturally, it distresses me to hear 
opinions which destroy the fondest hopes of my life. But believe me 
I shall not resort to any measures for which I cannot assume responsi- 
bility before my conscience." 

Rumours that a Liberal Government was imminent continued to 
harass the ministers for a long time to come. Old Goremykin was the 
only one who refused to become excited. All such rumours he brushed 
aside with the remark : " That's all nonsense. The Czar never will do 
it, and, if he does, nothing will come of it anyhow." 

Goremykin had resolved to crown his long official career with a 
masterly dissolution of the Duma. That accomplished, he could crawl 
back into his camphor chest, well satisfied. To this end, he incessantly 
dinned into the Czar's ear that it was absolutely impossible to co- 
operate with the Duma. But not before the Duma actually transgressed 
on the wording of the law did the Czar permit its dissolution. 



154 NICHOLAS II 

On Friday, the 6th of July, all ministers were invited to assemble 
in Goremykin's official quarters. Nobody surmised what had prompted 
the Prime Minister to convene the Council. The ministers had to wait 
long for old Goremykin because he was with the Czar at Czarskoje 
Selo. At last, at nine o'clock in the evening, the door opened, and to 
the ministers' unbounded amazement they beheld an utterly changed 
Goremykin. His usually bleary eyes now flashed fire, his pale cheeks 
were flushed, and his wrinkled face radiated joy. With springy, almost 
youthful, steps, Goremykin approached his visitors, exclaiming : 
" Cayest ! Congratulate me, gentlemen, on the greatest favour which 
our ruler ever could confer upon me. I have been relieved of the 
duties of Prime Minister. Stolypin will be my successor." 

The bewildered ministers crowded around Goremykin. " And the 
Duma ? " they demanded excitedly. 

Goremykin waved his hand. " Seventy-two days of Duma is more 
than enough," he assured them. " The Duma is to be dissolved to- 
morrow. 1 1 will be my last official act. Gentlemen, I feel exactly like a 
schoolboy going on vacation. I am off to bed now and you can do as 
you please. My successor will be here any minute, but I wish to be 
left alone ! " With mincing steps he fairly danced out of the room. 

Goremykin proved himself a worthy disciple of the art of government 
that typified the eighteenth century. As soon as he had held the 
Czar's dissolution decree in his hand, he and Stolypin began concen- 
trating the most dependable troops in the neighbourhood of Taurida 
Palace. Inconspicuously, the military occupied all the important 
thoroughfares of the city. At the same time the dissolution ukase was 
being printed to be posted throughout the city at six o'clock the 
following morning. 

Goremykin had been extremely busy all day long ; small wonder 
that by nightfall he was exceedingly weary. He therefore instructed 
his valet not to awaken him under any circumstances ; nothing in the 
whole world could be important enough to disturb his well-earned 
slumber. This irresistible urge for undisturbed rest on the part of 
Goremykin, during the night from the 6th to the 7th of July, 1906, has 
become part and parcel of Russian history. The shrewd old man 
knew exactly when and why to insist upon uninterrupted sleep. 

Next morning there was talk among the courtiers of a messenger 
from the Czar who had knocked at Goremykin's door during the night. 
The well-trained valet had sent him back together with his brief-case. 
Rumour had it that the brief-case contained the imperial order to 
postpone the dissolution of the Duma. All this seemed to be borne out 
by the fact that when Goremykin appeared at the breakfast-table next 
morning he smiled craftily as one who had reason to congratulate 
himself. The art of government of the eighteenth century had scored a 
new victory. 

The dissolution of the Duma proceeded very quietly with no unto- 
ward event. Troops occupied the square in front of Taurida Palace 
since early in the morning and the deputies were confronted by locked 



"CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY UNDER AN AUTOCRATIC CZAR" 155 

doors. The dissolution did not create any strong impression either 
in the capital city or in the provinces. The manifesto of a number 
of deputies, who assembled in Vyborg on the day of dissolution and 
exhorted the people to refuse payment of taxes and military service, 
did not yield any result. Russian securities in the Paris exchange 
rose, and the publisher of the Almanack de Gotha for 1907 took 
cognizance of the strange development in Russian history with the 
brief but striking notation : " Russie, empire constitutionnel sous UH 
tsar autocratc." 




CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE 

STOLYPIN 

ARKADIEVITCH STOLYPIN, successor to old 
Goremykin, was forty-four years old when the Czar entrusted 
the fate of the realm to him. The alabaster face of the Minister 
was framed by a dark, square-cut beard. His deep-set eyes 
flashed with enormous energy. It was he who shouted at the unruly 
members of the second Duma the famous sentence : " You seek 
to create tremendous upheavals, but we seek to create a powerful 
Russia ! " On that day those who were present had the feeling that, in 
Stolypin, the vigorous Russian province at last had sent the Czar a real 
saviour. 

Stolypin was a newcomer on the smooth parquet floors of St. Peters- 
burg palaces. Scion of provincial nobility, he was far more at ease in 
the little huts of the Russian mushik than in the salons, clubs and 
bureaus of the imperial capital. First Marshal of the Nobility in 
Lithuania, then Governor of Grodno and Saratov, Stolypin's career 
was that of an average official until the stormy year of 1905. Then, the 
Czar ran across calm and concise commentaries from Stolypin's hand 
in the midst of a mass of chaotic governmental reports. 

Transplanted from the provincial Volga region to St. Petersburg 
Stolypin brought along not only plans for reforms, conceived on a 
grand style, but a naive ignorance of St. Petersburg ways as well. 
In his eyes, the ranks of Liberal politicians and aristocrats appeared 
to be a suitable reservoir for furnishing the Empire with fresh talent. 
Thus, when the Czar offered him the post of Prime Minister, Stolypin 
decided to invite the co-operation of Liberal politicians. However, 
with the bombs of the terrorists threatening the life of each minister, 
the Liberal aristocrats, panic-stricken with dread, evinced scant 
enthusiasm for the dignity of a ministerial post. Stolypin's negotiations 
with the Liberal intelligentsia came to naught, and again, just as in 
the year 1905, an avalanche of assassinations and murders struck 
the Russian Empire. 

To their surprise, the Liberal circles in Russia discovered that the 
same minister who, a short time ago, had wooed the co-operation of 
the Liberals, now revealed an entirely different face. Stolypin pro- 
claimed over numerous provinces even over entire regions a state 
resembling martial law. Every infraction of the law, every political 
contravention was brought before field courts martial, exclusively 
consisting of army officers, who could decree only one sentence : 
Death ! Gallows arose all over the country. Within a short time, 
3500 death sentences were executed. The revolution was throttled by 

136 



STOLYPIN 157 

what one Duma deputy described before a field court martial as 
" Stolypin's garrotte." Before long, " Stolypin's garrotte ; became the 
byword of the revolution. 

While the public gleefully received news of the assassination of 
generals and governors, Leo Tolstoy raised his stentorian voice against 
" Stolypin's garrotte." With the sovereign right of an inspired poet, he 
wrote : " It really would be best if they would throw a white hood over 
me, as over these peasants ; if they would plunge me off the board, too, 
so that my own weight would tighten the soaped rope around my old 
neck and strangle me." Tolstoy's words, like a voice in the wilderness, 
fell upon Stolypin's deaf ears. 

The Prime Minister paid even less attention to the proceedings of the 
second Duma. As radical as the first, it had begun its legislative 
labours on the 6th of March, 1907. Stolypin, with his tightly buttoned 
black coat, his pale face, and his all too calm demeanour, infuriated the 
Duma as a red rag infuriates a bull. " Murderer ! Hangman ! " the 
deputies shouted, and nobody knew whether their words were meant 
for the Minister or for the Czar himself. In reply, Stolypin shook his 
fist and admonished the deputies: " The bloody nightmare has not 
yet passed, but the Government is resolved to combat it." 

The Social-Democratic deputies, accustomed to fighting czarism 
with knife and revolver, were inclined to continue their activities 
under the protection of parliamentary immunity. Soon the police 
ascertained that forty-five Social-Democratic Duma deputies, under 
the guidance of their leader Osol, were involved in extensive revolu- 
tionary conspiracies, aiming at the assassination of the Czar, the Grand- 
duke Nicholai Nicholaicvitch, and Stolypin. United by the strong 
bond of revolutionary blood brotherhood, the Duma refused to sur- 
render the indicted deputies to the Government. Thereupon, Stolypin 
decided to oppose the united will of the Duma with the full power of 
imperial autocracy. 

A ukase of the i6th of June dissolved the second Duma. Another 
abolished the electoral law, replacing it with a new one which barred 
revolutionary circles in the populace from exerting suffrage. Witte's 
constitution broke down under Stolypin's assault. The coup d'ttat 
succeeded, and when the third Duma assembled on the 15th of 
November, 1907, the Government was assured of a complacent majority. 

But although Stolypin dissolved the Duma, strangled revolutionaries 
with his garrotte, and executed a coup d'ttat, he manifested clearly 
that he was not merely the Czar's ferocious watchdog, as public opinion 
considered him. In the quiet of his study, far away from the noise of 
the Duma, Stolypin developed a plan which was to restore the upset 
balance of domestic politics, once and for all. 

With the experienced eye of the landowner, Stolypin recognized that 
the Russian peasant constituted the chief cause of all revolts, assassina- 
tions, and conspiracies. Exhibiting the same energy he had shown in 
attacking the revolution, Stolypin now approached the agrarian 
problem. 



NICHOLAS TT 

Again, as an experienced landowner, he knew the troubles and desires 
of the peasantry far better than Slavophile old men and revolutionary 
youths in the palaces of St. Petersburg. The core of his reforms was to 
be the abolition of the obshtshina and the liberation of the mushiks from 
the shackles of peasantry laws. Stolypin looked upon the mushik at 
last released from the chains of the mir, at last proprietor of his own 
soil as an infinitely more dependable ally in his battle against the 
revolution than all other classes and strata of the realm. Supported by 
millions of independent and satisfied mushiks, the monarchy would 
victoriously resist all storms of revolution for centuries hence. 

To be sure, Stolypin directed his reforms merely toward a small, 
carefully selected group. He would grant free land only to the best 
and most industrious mushiks ; they alone would benefit by agrarian 
credits and civil laws. " My law/ 1 Stolypin explained, " is exclusively 
for the good mushik, not for lazy, weak and inefficient peasants. The 
hard-working and useful mushik, representing the very salt of Russian 
earth, is to be given an opportunity to liberate himself from the yoke 
of present conditions." 

The ukase concerning this agrarian reform, promulgated on the gth 
of November, 1906, was approved at the first session of the third Duma, 
thus establishing a class of peasant-proprietors. For the first time the 
better element of mushiks now saw a possibility to escape the pressure 
of aristocratic and imperial tutelage, carving a free existence for 
themselves. 

With tooth and nail the mushiks clung to this new law. In the course 
of three years Stolypin distributed 8,780,000 deciatines of land among 
eleven per cent of the entire Russian peasantry. To strengthen the 
new pillars of the Empire, 12,410,932 gold roubles were advanced on 
agrarian loans, while another 9,230,725 gold roubles were expended for 
non-repayable financial assistance. 

While those mushiks who had not participated in the blessings of 
the reform emigrated to the cities to become industrial labourers, or 
sank into abysmal poverty, the wealth of the agricultural regions grew 
enormously. Within a few years the extent of arable land in certain 
neighbourhoods increased by fifty-five per cent in some regions even 
by seventy-five per cent with the new owners, the Aw/afo, rapidly 
developing into the most fervent protectors of imperial power. 

The revolutionaries greeted Stolypin's reform with cat-calls, whistling 
and booing. Lenin referred to it as Agrar-Bonapartism. Almost all 
the Russian revolutionary factions thundered against Stolypin's 
" plunder of the obshtshina." Their reason could easily be traced to a 
declaration of the Congress of Social-Revolutionaries, which had met 
in London in September, 1906. It had warned that " the Government, 
after having suppressed open rebellion and attempts at revolutionary 
expropriation of land, now has decided to squash the revolutionary 
impetus of the peasantry by introducing private property. Every 
success of the Government along these lines is a blow to the 
revolution. 1 ' 



STOLYPJN 159 

The Government's victory was overwhelming. Within the first 
six months Stolypin's reforms created 500,000 rich, independent 
kulaks. With the same fervour with which they once had yearned for 
the acreage of the landowners, the peasant-proprietors now stood ready 
to defend this land and the Czar, who had given it to them against 
the revolutionaries. 

Viewing his success with pride, Stolypin failed to observe that his 
revolutionary enemies were being joined by those who feared that 
his reforms would eventually jeopardize the aristocratic landowners. 
Displaying the same hatred with which they formerly had pursued 
Wittc, agrarian circles now pointed to Stolypin as the " Grand Vizier " 
who intended to usurp the power of the crown. 

Nevertheless, Stolypin's power grew, and with it grew the hatred of 
the political reactionaries. When Stolypin submitted to the State's 
Council of the Duma his plan providing for agrarian representation of 
the nine south-western governments, the opposition resolved to give 
battle. In all secrecy two reactionary members of the State's Council, 
Trepov and Durnovo, called upon the Czar to acquaint him with their 
apprehensions regarding the imperious minister's proposed measures. 

"Alexander III would have promptly thrown out these people," 
was the Dowager-Empress's contemptuous remark when she heard of 
the visit. Nicholas II, however, did not show them the door ; he 
remained silent, but the two knew how to interpret the imperial silence. 
Subsequently the votes of ten reactionary members in the State's 
Council brought about the rejection of Stolypin's proposed law. 

The infuriated Stolypin appeared before the Czar with his resigna- 
tion in his pocket. But Nicholas, shuddering at the very idea, declined 
to dismiss him. Perceiving the Czar's reluctance, Stolypin promptly 
concluded that he was irreplaceable and assumed that he could force 
his will upon the monarch. He therefore demanded a three-day 
suspension of the State's Council and the Duma so that he might 
enforce, during this time, his plan for agrarian representation by means 
of emergency laws. 

The Czar was amazed by the categorical tone in which Stolypin 
made his suggestions. He regarded the Minister in bewilderment, and 
finally remarked : " Very well. Since I do not wish to lose your 
services, I agree to this extraordinary measure." 

Following up his advantage, Stolypin quickly added: "Besides, 
Your Majesty, I beg that those persons who behaved so ignominiously 
should receive official reprimands." 

At these words the Czar's eyes held a baffling, far-away expression. 
At last, in the manner of one awakening from a long dream, Nicholas 
inquired, in icy accents : " Just what is it you want me to do ? " 

Stolypin demanded that Trepov and Durnovo be expelled from the 
capital city. 

" I fully understand, Peter Arkadievitch," the Czar said, suddenly 
cordial once more, and he warmly pressed Stolypin's hand. 

Immensely gratified, the Minister departed. Little did he know 



l6o NICHOLAS II 

that the Czar's handshake presaged his eventual doom. Nicholas II 
never could forgive an ultimatum. 

The Czar only then realized that his Minister's will, in a truly uncanny 
fashion, had cast a gigantic shadow over his imperial soul. Like the 
Czarina, he feared Stolypin 's dictatorship might darken the glory 
of imperial power. And although the Czar, under certain conditions, 
was willing to submit to another's will for a time, the Empress never 
would make concessions. From that day onward her displeasure 
pursued Stolypin. More and more the Minister found himself inescap- 
ably caught in the web of ever-increasing imperial disfavour. 

Intoxicated with his power, Stolypin, in 1907, made the statement : 
"In another twenty-five years Russia will be the richest and mo>t 
tranquil country in the world." But of these twenty-five years, God 
and the Czar granted the Minister only four. 



CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO 

THE HEIR 

SIX months after Stolypin's appointment, the Czar had written 
to his Minister : "In you I have found an extraordinary 
executor of My will." Bui these gracious words of the monarch 
had been set down in great weariness. The stormy years of the 
revolution had changed Nicholas vastly. When the battalions of 
revolutionaries had marched against czarist power the first time, 
Nicholas had smiled and said: " Cela me chatoufllc." (This makes 
me laugh.) However, he smiled no longer and had aged visibly. His 
hair was thinning ; a sad expression had crept into his eyes ; and 
melancholy lines were drawn around his mouth. 

Numerous attempts on his life had forced him to restrict his custom- 
ary walks to an ever-increasing extent. Incensed over the eternal 
safety measures hedging him in, he once wrote to the Dowager-Empress : 
" 1 hope you will understand what life has become for me, dear Mother. 
There is no chance for me to go horseback riding, no possibility to drive 
anywhere. And to think that this happens in one's own home, right in 
quiet Peterhof ! I am disgusted with my country and am filled 
with shame as I write this. It makes me indignant to think that 
this state of affairs should prevail in the very neighbourhood of 
St. Petersburg." 

The Czar came to regard his own life, more and more, as a series of 
trials and developments which, in their entirety, expressed the will of 
God with remarkable clarity. The attempted assassination in Japan, 
the catastrophe at Borki, and even the revolution were all accepted 
by the Czar as visible proof that Providence meant to save him for 
something momentous. 

Acutely conscious of his God-imposed position, even now, after a 
thirteen-years' reign, Nicholas refused to court the good-will of his 
subjects. It was not he who should seek their favour ; rather, the 
people, living by his imperial grace, must strain every effort to show 
themselves worthy of his regard. 

The hatred of the intellectuals left the Czar cold. Once, when the 
Senate suggested that the whipping-post still employed under the 
peasantry law be abolished, he wrote : "I shall put an end to this 
institution when it suits me I " When it was explained that this and 
similar decisions were creating an undesirable impression upon the 
populace, the Czar replied in annoyance : " What do I care for public 
opinion ? " 

However, when Stolypin began to introduce his agrarian reforms, 
Nicholas decided to furnish proof of the close bond uniting him with 
L 161 



l62 NICHOLAS Ti 

the best element of his people. With a single stroke of the pen he pre- 
sented to the mushiks the greatest part of the enormous tracts of land 
owned by the imperial family. And while the surprised granddukes 
discussed the unfathomable ways of monarchical grace, the Czar's 
thoughts were centred exclusively on the noble right of a ruler to 
share his very last with the poor of his realm. 

Back in 1584, when the boyar, Boris Godunov, was elected Czar, he 
strode from the Moscow Kremlin into Red Square, stripped off his shirt, 
embroidered with diamonds, and shouted : ' ' Verily, even my last shirt 
shall I give to the poor ! " The echo of these words still reverberated 
in Nicholas's soul. In the east of Russia the monarch's private property 
comprised the immeasurable Altai region. Disregarding all plans 
proposed by his Court Minister, Nicholas IT handed over the entire 
area to poor Russian peasants despite the fact that his own fortune, 
and that of his family, was reduced considerably by this measure. 

Money meant no more to the Russian Czar than the sands on the 
shores of Livadia. While the Czarina displayed typical German 
thrift in all questions concerning finance, the Czar always acted as a 
true heir of the richest arid mightiest monarchs of the world. His 
disdain for money was so intense that he even disliked to have any 
contact with currency. Not so much as the smallest coin could ever 
be found in his pockets. When he played dominoes with his officers, 
he consistently had to ask the Czarina, or one of his daughters, to make 
good his losses. 

The Czar, however, was saving and exacting in all personal matters. 
According to his mind, material self-limitation was the necessary and 
outstanding characteristic of a Russian ruler. Nicholas II lived far 
more modestly than most of his ministers, yet the Czar's annual 
expenditures reached the colossal sum of twenty million roubles. 
11 For any private person, even the most extravagant one," Granddukc 
Alexander writes, " such an amount would have constituted an 
enormous figure. Nevertheless this sum was not at all out of proportion 
to the demands imposed upon the Emperor." 

Appanages of the granddukes, contribution to charity, salaries for 
officials and presents, absorbed the largest part of the annual imperial 
income. Although the Czar spent only two weeks at the Winter Palace 
every year, it was necessary to maintain no less than 1200 servants 
there for the entire twelvemonth. In Czarskoje Selo 660 lackeys were 
employed. The Czar contributed two million roubles every year 
for the arts, and the same sum was expended upon private charities. 
On her wedding day, every grandduchess received a gift of one million 
roubles from the Czar. After salaries, presents, subsidies for the theatre 
and for learned academies had been deducted from the twenty million 
roubles, only two hundred thousand remained to cover the Czar's 
actual personal expenses. 

The Czar imagined that in the same measure in which he distributed 
his terrestrial treasures among his people, he would share in the 
celestial abundance of grace one day. It was his belief that one's deeds 



THE HEIR 163 

were merely an expression of an invisible Divine Will, guiding every 
teeling and every action of mortal man. 

When the Ministers' Council submitted a long report to the Czar 
for the reform of laws affecting Jewry, Nicholas wrote to Stolypin : 
" I herewith reject your suggestions, although your arguments are 
completely convincing, and doubtless speak for their acceptance. 
However, an inner voice warns me that I must not make this decision. 
This inner voice never has misled me and I therefore shall follow it 
again. I know that you, too, believe that the Czar's heart rests in the 
hollow of God's hand. So be it ! For the power which J exert I incur 
tremendous responsibility before God, but 1 am ready, at all times, to 
assume it." 

Diurnal imperial labours gradually developed into strange spectral 
meditations. With the same fervour with which the Czar formerly 
had asked his adviser : " What would my father have done ? " he now 
asked himself : ' ' What does God want me to do ? " In the face of this 
inner, metaphysically conceived, voice, all logical objections came 
to naught. 

In Nicholas's consciousness Czar and God faced each other. They 
were connected by an invisible bridge, and it was across this bridge 
that God would project His mercy as well as His wrath. With the same 
selfless humility with which his subjects were expected to submit to 
the Czar's mercy and wrath, the Czar, in turn, was ready to submit 
to the mercy and wrath of God. 

It was in the thirteenth year of Nicholas's reign that the cup of 
God's wrath was emptied upon him. Like the patient sufferer Job. 
Nicholas bowed before the wrath of the Almighty. He bore the cross 
which God had imposed upon him silently. Not one complaint came 
from his lips, for when God tries His Anointed One human words must 
cease. The cross of the Czar was embodied in the desperately longed- 
for and incessantly prayed-for Czarevitch Alexius. 

The heir to the Russian throne was scarcely six months old when 
grave physical symptoms became discernible on his body. It was on 
Wednesday, the 2ist of September, 1904, shortly before Czar and 
Czarina were to leave for morning mass, that blood suddenly 
spurted from the child's navel. The imperial private physician, 
Korovin, and the imperial private surgeon, Fjodorov, were summoned 
in all haste but neither of them could, or would, explain the reason for 
the strange haemorrhage. 

Three years passed. One day the little Czarevitch skipped across a 
pebble-strewn lane at Czarskoje Selo. Suddenly he stumbled, fell, and, 
his face disfigured with pain, remained prostrate on the ground. His 
knees and thighs were drenched in blood. The Empress swooned when 
she beheld the body of her son. She did not have to consult physicians 
to learn what ailed him. Her brother and two of her nephews had died 
of haemophilia, that strange, incurable, and hereditary disease to which 
almost exclusively only male members of a family are subject. 
Even healthy daughters of such families frequently transfer this fearful 



164 NICHOLAS II 

tendency to male offspring. In those afflicted with haemophilia the 
condition of the vessels does not permit blood to coagulate and even 
the smallest injury can bring about fatal haemorrhages. The life of 
such a " bleeder " is one of permanent danger and martyrdom. Any- 
where and always, with each step, whether at play or at work even 
during sleep danger threatens. Any hasty movement or vigorous 
gesture may usher in catastrophe. No enemy, no fiend, no torturer 
could have invented worse punishment for the imperial couple than 
the incurable illness of the Czarevitch. To his parents he not only 
represented the very personification of the dynasty, but a pledge for 
their own future as well as that of the realm. 

The Czar filled the rooms of his son with the most expensive and 
intricate toys. There were electric railway trains, automatic dolls, 
entire armies of mechanical tin soldiers, and models of cities and 
churches. Continually supervised by anxious attendants, the hand- 
some delicate child would play with these marvellous contraptions. 
A light pressure of his finger was sufficient to make the bells of the toy 
churches ring, send the tiny soldiers to war, and dispatch the electrical 
locomotives along the tracks. 

But to what avail were all these mechanical toys when his body- 
guard, the gigantic sailor, Dercvenko, stood beside the boy incessantly, 
watching his every movement ; when he was neither permitted to run, 
jump, or go horseback riding. In every corner of every room on every 
occasion, parents and servants would raise their voices in warning : 
" Alexius, do be careful ! " 

The life of the Czarina, too, became one of permanent martyrdom. 
Lashed by despair, the unfortunate woman could never forget even for 
a moment, that, inadvertently, she was the cause of all this agony. 
The poor child's future seemed shrouded in deepest gloom. The more 
dangerous the attacks the Czarevitch suffered, the more his mother 
felt it her duty to provide for his future. If she had not given physical 
health to her son, at least, she must endeavour to retain for him the 
crown of the realm, its glamour undiminished. 

The disease of the Czarevitch, then, accounted for the Czarina's 
purposeful and active part in politics. In the past, she had worried 
about her husband's power ; now, her political endeavours were 
imbued with the strength of a mother's love and the bitterness of a 
mother's hurt pride. She resolved to offset the child's physical short- 
comings with the mighty splendour of autocracy, destined to be his 
one day. 

Like a cloud presaging disaster, the wrath of the Almighty hovered 
over the imperial palace. Harried by ceaseless anxiety over the 
Czarevitch, the imperial couple renounced all external pomp and 
secluded themselves from the world. Duties of representation, which 
already had been reduced to a minimum, now were neglected almost 
completely. 

Plagued by a feeling of guilt, the Czarina hid from outsiders. Indeed, 
she became so despondent that those who saw her, around that time, 



THE HEIR 165 

were inclined to think they noticed symptoms of a psychological decline. 
The excruciating agonies the Czarina suffered presently manifested 
themselves physiologically in the form of a serious kidney ailment. 
She also became a victim of painful, nervous heart and stomach 
spasms which often required her to spend days, even weeks, stretched 
upon her divan, staring ahead vacantly. 

While Court circles considered the Czarina's behaviour hysterical, 
the same clique criticized the Emperor for his remarkable equanimity. 

" The Czar is indifferent and an optimist to boot,' 1 declared one of 
the courtiers who had waited, in vain, for a sign of imperial despair. 

Nobody, however, surmised how great was the Czar's self-control and 
with what, almost superhuman, stoicism he could face imminent 
disaster. 



168 NICHOLAS II 

Slowly Stolypin advanced through the overcrowded auditorium. A 
centre seat in the first row, between General Trepov and Court Minister 
Frederiks, had been reserved for him ; behind him, in the second row, 
sat General Kurlov. 

" Has that terrorist woman been apprehended ? " the Minister 
inquired of the General. 

" Not yet, Your Excellency. 11 

" Please see about it without delay," Stolypin ordered impatiently 
and arose from his seat for, just then, he observed the Czar stepping 
into the imperial box. The audience cheered, and while the curtains 
rose slowly the orchestra struck up " God save the Czar." 

The performance began. The Minister was in deep thought. Appar- 
ently the melodious arias of The Tale of Czar Sallan hardly reached his 
ear. The Czar, too, appeared abstracted, for his glances roved all over 
the auditorium. Only the two imperial daughters, Olga and Tatiana, 
seemed enchanted by the splendour of the scene. Their heads the 
one blonde, the other black were close together. With eyes that were 
nigh popping they followed the adventures of the young prince, who 
even then was seized by his despicable aunts, placed in a barrel, and 
thrown into the sea. 

During the first intermission Stolypin arose and leaned back against 
the railing which separated the auditorium from the orchestra pit. 
His face turned toward the audience, he conversed with Court Minister 
Frederiks and Count Josef Potocki. 

A man in a tail-coat in the twelfth row stood up and pushed towards 
the aisle. He was Secret Service Detective Bagrov. He started for 
the stage, only to hesitate at the second row where a seat had been 
reserved for General Kurlov. He looked around, his eye finally resting 
on the Prime Minister. This time, however, it was not a camera which 
he focused upon Stolypin, but the shining barrel of a revolver. Two 
tiny clouds of smoke arose while the reverberation of the shots were 
quickly swallowed up by the general noise pervading the overcrowded 
auditorium. 

There was a single loud scream, followed by deadly silence. Stolypin 
remained standing. Slowly he bent his head and, in obvious surprise, 
stared at a red spot suddenly spreading on his white uniform. He 
placed his cap and gloves on the railing behind him and clutched the 
back of a chair with his left hand. His voice rang out loudly and 
clearly : " I am happy to die for the Czar." Nicholas stood erect in 
the imperial box, like a soldier at attention. Stolypin's dying glance 
was glued upon the Czar's figure. In a last gesture he raised his right 
hand, blessing the Czar with a broad Byzantine cross. Then he toppled 
to the ground. 

Nicholas remained standing in the box, as if paralysed by the 
dying man's benediction. And while Bagrov was taken away, and while 
the mortally wounded Stolypin was carried out, the auditorium, first 
softly, then louder and louder, was filled with hysterical cheering for 
the Czar. People jumped upon their seats until presently the enormous 



STOLYPIN'S DEATH 169 

hall reverberated with thundering huzzas. Sharply delineated against 
the red velvet background of the imperial box, the motionless figure 
of the Czar appeared like that of an old god of fire who has just received 
his high priest in sacrifice. In a dim corner of the box the young 
Grandduchess Olga was shaken by hysterical sobs. 

By special order of the Czar, the great military parade scheduled for 
the following day at Ovrutch, near Kiev, was not cancelled. Shortly 
before the review the Czar went to the hospital, but he was not admitted 
to Stolypin's room. In the antechamber he met a woman, her eyes red 
from weeping, wringing her hands. She was Olga Borisovna, the 
Prime Minister's wife. Recognizing the Czar, she arose and, with utmost 
dignity, approached the monarch. 

"There still are men like Susanin in Russia, Your Majesty," she 
said, " ready to die so that their Czar might live." 

Nicholas, startled, retreated. 

Another parade, at Tchernigov, also was held in accordance with 
the schedule. On the same day the i8th of September, 1911 at ten 
o'clock in the evening, Peter Arkadievitch Stolypin, Prime Minister of 
Russia, died in the hospital of Doctor Makovsky. On the iQth of Septem- 
ber, in the presence of the Czar, a solemn high mass of requiem was 
celebrated. The Czar, however, could not attend the interment of his 
loyal servant because an excited telegram from the Czarina summoned 
him to the Crimea. 

A few days after the assassination the murderer Bagrov was put 
to death. Dark rumours surrounded the execution. The trial had 
been held behind closed doors. There were people who insisted that 
Bagrov, to the very last, confidently had expected his release. When 
taken to the gallows by the hangman, he reputedly shouted : " What 
do you want of me ? I acted by order of the police ! " 

The investigation regarding the implication of the police in the 
assassination of Stolypin never was concluded. By order of the Czar, 
the case was dropped and the secret of Stolypin's murder was to 
remain unsolved. 



CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR 

THE GOLDEN CAGE 

SILENCE deep and terrifying pervaded the Czar's palace in 
Kiev. Lackeys tiptoed through the halls ; the triple guard at 
the door hardly dared to draw breath ; generals of the imperial 
entourage crept about like disembodied spirits. In hushed 
voices they discussed the tragic events which marked the ill-fated 
reign of Nicholas II. Stolypin had just been assassinated ; prior to 
him, Sipjagin and Grandduke Sergius had fallen victim to the terrorists. 
Old Pobedonostsev was dead, and Count Wittc had been erased from 
the memory of the monarch for ever. In fact, no statesmen were left 
any longer, only ' officials." Until the break of dawn, loyal servants 
of the Czar debated the all-important question : Who would take the 
place of the murdered Prime Minister, in turn facing the death-dealing 
weapons of the terrorists ? 

On the day of the requiem for his Prime Minister, Nicholas II stood 
on the platform of the Kiev railway station. Rain fell in torrents. A 
military band played "God Save the Czar " ; its solemn notes drowned 
the ceaseless drumming of the rain. 

The imperial special train drew up. Two minutes before his departure 
Nicholas suddenly remembered that Russia had no Prime Minister. To 
be sure, it made little difference whom he would appoint successor to 
Stolypin because, after all, he, the Emperor and Autocrat of All the 
Russias, was still there. As Nicholas turned, his eye fell upon the 
gold-braided uniform and the grave mien of his Minister of Finance 
Kokovzov, nicknamed Koko in Court circles. The Minister of Finance 
was exceedingly well informed regarding manipulations of foreign 
exchange and the placing of foreign loans, but had given little thought 
to politics. 

Nicholas extended his hand to the Minister of Finance. " Let me 
congratulate you, Kokovzov," he said in a low voice. " I herewith 
appoint you my Prime Minister." 

As the train pulled out, the monarch beheld the blanched face of his 
new Prime Minister. Then, his eyes fixed on the white, blue and red 
flags drooping sadly at half-mast, the Czar brought his hand to his 
forehead in a smart military salute. The Stolypin episode was 
concluded. 

The Czarina awaited her consort at the Livadia railway station. As 
the carriage of the imperial couple rolled through the lanes of soldiers, 
lining the streets, the Czarina said softly, as if in reverie : Ci We never 
should feel sorry for those who have passed on. Each of us must fulfil 



THE GOLDEN CAGE I7 1 

a certain task. If someone has passed on it simply means that he 
has fulfilled his specific mission and nothing further remains for him 
to do." 

The Czar kept silent. His eyes were glued upon the blue Crimean 
mountain range, clearly delineated against the far horizon. Clouds 
were gathering around the summit of Ai-Petri. Presently the clouds 
and the ragged summit assumed strange forms, recalling to the Czar 
the face of Mmc Stolypin, swollen from weeping. What was it 
she had said? "There still are men like Susanin in Russia, Your 

Majesty " 

The name of Susanin cvokeJ childhood memories in the Czar. Before 
his mind's eye appeared a garish old print depicting a historical scene. 
The print, reminiscent of a stuffy classroom, was completely lacking 
in artistic taste. Its subject was Ivan Susanin, a mushik with thf blue 
eyes of an innocent child and the venerable white beard of a patriarch. 
Susanin's hands were piously folded ; his gaze concentrated upon the 
heavens. In the year 1613 this mushik, Susanin, had led a band of 
Polish assassins into the thick underbrush of the Nordic forest. The 
band was searching for the Ipatiev monastery where the first Romanov, 
youthful Michael, was in hiding. The swampy woods became more and 
more fearsome. The desperate Poles demanded of the mushik : ' ' Where 
is the monastery ? " 

Raising his eyes heavenward, Susanin shouted: "There is no 
escape for you out of this swamp. You will never find the Czar. I led 
you astray to save my Czar. Go now, slay me ! " 

Whenever Glinka's Life for the Czar was sung in the Imperial Opera 
House in St. Petersburg the officers of the Guard, filling the pit, would 
jump up and applaud wildly the very second the Poles rushed at the 
loyal Susanin. Glinka's opera had always been the favourite of the 
imperial family. 

Stolypin f s coffin and the swollen red face of his wife vanished from 
the Czar's memory. His fingers drumming an accompaniment, the 
monarch hummed Susanin's aria : " How could I ever fear to die, I 
die for Czar and God." 

Susanin had fulfilled his task. His death had ushered in the three- 
hundred year rule of the Romanovs. Perhaps Stolypin's death, too, 
was merely another link in the long chain of events decreed by God in 
His wisdom ? Surely, a monarch must graciously accept the sacri- 
fices of his subjects when they were made for the weal of the 
country ! . . . 

The blazing sun, the stirring air of the regimental bands, the trim 
figures of officers and soldiers, brought the Czar back to reality. At 
the gate of the castle he reviewed the Crimean corps, warmly pressing 
the hand of their general, the Georgian Dumbadse. 

At Castle Livadia, life again assumed its old idyllic trend with the 
Czar sauntering along the shore, and the children romping in the sand. 
It was during that time that Nicholas wrote to his old friend, Prince 
Meshtshersky : "Down here, I feel strong and rested, as always in 



172 NICHOLAS II 

the life-giving Crimea. Dips in the sea, walks, and, above all, a feeling 
of freedom, lengthen life by many, many months." 

The freedom which the Czar so enjoyed in the Crimea was rather 
limited, to be sure. From the roof of the square, alabaster-white 
observation tower of the new Livadia Palace, the Czar could not fail to 
notice the cordon of troops, stationed by General Dumbadse at strategic 
points on the outskirts of the imperial estate. At the break of dawn 
each morning, soldiers searched every square foot of the imperial park. 
Every evening General Dumbadse, not unlike a bloodhound scenting 
prey, trotted up and down the lanes, sniffing for powder, infernal 
machines, and bombs. Throughout the day the fixed triple-edged 
bayonets of the soldiers gleamed in the sun like so many fiery exclama- 
tion marks. From time to time the Chief of Secret Police called upon 
the Czar to implore him his voice vibrating with anxiety, his face 
expressing utmost concern not to venture into certain parts of the 
park. While Nicholas enjoyed dips in the Caspian Sea, played with the 
children, or relaxed in the sun, his generals were visibly losing weight, 
their cheeks appearing more hollow each day. Silently, nervously, 
casting apprehensive glances everywhere, they patrolled the lanes of the 
park. Unquestionably, solicitude for the Anointed One imposed a 
heavy burden upon his entourage. 

The cordon of troops that surrounded the monarch, the incessant 
warnings, the apprehensive glances of his Court all served to pain 
Nicholas. It weighed upon him that his life must be saved anew every 
minute of each hour. After all, the life of The Most Orthodox Czar 
was not merely protected by the fixed bayonets of his soldiers, but 
was guarded by God's Omnipotence ! Nicholas was firmly convinced 
that he would live just as long as his terrestrial tasks awaited fulfilment. 
Not before he could leave a united, tranquillized and rehabilitated realm 
to a strong heir to the throne would his duty be performed. 

Reclining beside the shore of the Caspian Sea, the Czar felt a keen 
desire to show these " parade generals " of his that it was the grace of 
God and not they who protected his person. 

Thus, one morning, at the early hour of four o'clock, the Czar of 
All the Russias left his bed. Cautiously he sneaked out ot his chamber. 
In a closet of his dressing-room, he discovered the uniform of a simple 
soldier of the First Siberian Regiment of Chasseurs. Donning the 
uniform, the Czar walked out of the palace unnoticed. He passed the 
guards and soon set foot on forbidden territory. 

Elated, Nicholas swung along the green meadow, his eyes fixed 
upon the rising sun. Perhaps, at that moment, he thought of his great 
forebear, Alexander I, who had overpowered Napoleon. Had not 
Alexander, too, left his palace in the Crimea in December, 1825, 
disguised in the rags of a beggar ? He, too, had walked towards the sun 
until he had reached the boundless forests of Siberia. There, secluded 
from the world, Alexander had spent his remaining days in prayer 
and penance. 

The mystic life of Alexander I was but a prelude to the tragic life 




/ A 



rol'NT \MTTM. AlMM )IN'l J.I) IMvlMI MINIS'! ILK IN i'i"-| 



THE GOLDEN CAGE 173 

of Nicholas II. Both lived under the spell of omnipotence, and both 
searched for God's answer in solitary walks through the endless 
expanse of their realm. 

Villages appeared in the distance. Labourers in the fields greeted 
the passing soldier. The wide road between the fields slowly became 
alive with people. Tatars were driving to the city with milk-cans. 
Officers rode by on horseback, paying scant attention to the Siberian 
chasseur who saluted them smartly. Womenfolk, driving to the market, 
smiled at the blond, well-groomed soldier. <4 Probably an officer's 
orderly," they thought. The Czar stroked his short beard, secretly 
amused. He felt like Harun ai-Raschid roaming the streets of Bagdad. 

The hours flew by. From the minarets of Tataric mosques, the 
muezzin's plaintive call to prayer was heard. Nicholas scrutinized 
the faces of the passers-by. At last he saw his people stripped of all 
prescribed humility, people who did not acclaim him fervently. Accord- 
ing to the revolutionaries, the whole of Russia resembled one great 
shambles. Now the Czar sought to ascertain the truth of these state- 
ments with his own eyes. The faces of the passers-by were calm and 
contented. Nobody was in tatters or appeared to be starving ; indeed, 
many wore a satisfied smile. His soul overflowed with pride. He 
accepted the tranquil countenances of the people as proof of his success- 
ful reign. As for those revolutionaries, they were nothing but fools, 
utterly unable to fathom the real Russia ! . . . But the Czar over- 
looked the fact that he was meandering through the most blessed 
province of his entire realm. 

Nicholas continued his peregrination ; mute and alone he wandered 
through the fields. He did not dare to address the peasants lest 
they immediately recognize him as a gentleman of St. Petersburg. 
His inflection was unmistakably that of a Guard officer from the 
northern capital. 

It was late that afternoon when the Czar returned to Livadia Castle. 
Guards presented arms and officers rushed up to him in great excite- 
ment. General Dumbadse his face distorted by worry implored 
the Czar to receive him at once, privately. During that audience, the 
General recounted, in detail, the innumerable dangers which, according 

^** 1*4 M mmmt^mm^. A ,.__. 4. _ .1^1^- J.1 A. * _ J 1 T1 * . 1 ***! 




no coward." 

" But, Your Majesty," the emboldened General cried, " this is not 
real courage 1 " 

" And it appears to me that your dangers are not real either," the 
Czar retorted. " Precisely what constitutes courage in your eyes ? " 

General Dumbadse, a well-known anti-Semite, considered for a 
moment, then replied : " Well, if Your Majesty were to don a Jewish 
caftan and paste sidelocks on your temples and, in that garb, were to 
promenade in front of my house for fully five minutes . . . that 
would constitute courage." 



174 NICHOLAS II 

The Czar laughed uproariously, his resentment forgotten. 

The generals, however, could not forget the Czar's prank so easily, 
Such incidents must not be repeated ! They pondered and pondered, 
eventually evolving a plan which could spring only from the brains of 
fear-crazed bureaucrats ; in the offices of the Court Administration, 
it came to be known as the " Protection of the All-Highest Person." 
Under this system the Czar was hermetically isolated from the world. 
To insure his absolute safety, whole provinces were placed under martial 
law, and whole armies concentrated around the palaces. The entire 
country was veritably turned inside out whenever the train of the 
Emperor and Autocrat speeded along the seventy-two-hour stretch 
between Castle Livadia arid Peterhof, or wherever the Czar sojourned 
in his realm. Each and every trip of the monarch became a grotesque 
and fantastic event. 

Many days prior to an imperial journey, the entire route to be covered 
even if comprising thousands of miles was placed under martial 
law. Intersecting spur tracks were temporarily torn up to prevent 
"accidental collisions." Then, one day before the Czar's train was 
scheduled to pass through, the entire adjacent region was subjected 
to the so-called ' ' third stage. 1 ' From that moment; anybody approach- 
ing the tracks within one mile was shot without warning. The station 
platforms swarmed with secret service men and constables. Train 
schedules were suspended and thousands of soldiers stood guard along 
the entire route. During the night, the soldiers made camp-fires on 
either side of the railway embankment. The special train, speeding 
through a lane of stiffly erect soldiers and blazing fires, resembled a 
picture of the apocalypse. There was hardly a journey of the Czar 
that did not cost the lives of several people. 

At home, in Peterhof, surrounded by the famous fountains of the 
old palace which once housed the beautiful Elizabeth and the great 
Catherine, the Czar dwelt under conditions akin to a prison existence. 
New plans and projects to safeguard the all-highest person were ever- 
lastingly proposed, experimented with, and discarded. The Czar spent 
day after day in an environment of fear-crazed officials, driven hysterical 
by ominous visions. 

" Oh, when will it ever be possible for us to live quietly like decent 
people/' sighed the Czarina. Nicholas remained silent. Through the 
open window of the old palace floated the melodious splashing of the 
fountains, interspersed with the measured footfalls of the guards. 

The Czar spent the days at a desk in his study. The room was 
panelled in oak ; on the wall were three portraits by Solomko : Peter 
the Great, Nicholas 1, and Alexander III. From their frames, they 
looked down sternly upon their frail successor. 

On the Czar's desk reposed a cigarette-case, the cover ornamented 
with the figure of a clown. Whenever Nicholas opened the case the 
clown raised his hands awkwardly and a music-box, hidden beneath 
the false bottom, tinkled the strains of the ' ' Marseillaise. ' ' Supposedly 
issuing from the mouth of the down, it was meant to ridicule the revolu- 



THE GOLDEN CAGE 

tionary movement. This unique cigarette case was a present from 
the Dowager-Empress. 

Sheaves of paper were heaped high upon the Czar's desk. Nicholas 
studied each document conscientiously. He accorded the same close 
attention to everything, whether important or trivial. At the same 
time, however, he was firmly convinced that all the wisdom behind 
these papers did not play much of a part in the fate of the realm. 
The weal of the country primarily depended on God's Providence. 

Occasionally the Czar indulged in minor infractions of the law, 
delighting in breaking down the complicated net of ordinances and 
ukases through sheer strength -i)f his imperial will. One day, among 
numerous other supplications, the monarch came across the tele- 
graphed appeal of a, Jewish watchmaker, named Isaac Goldcnberg, 
from Preluk. It appeared that the son of the Jewish watchmaker a 
student was seriously ill in the capital city, but the police, in accord- 
ance with prevailing law, refused the distracted father permission to 
enter St. Petersburg. The Czar, remembering his own ailing son, 
wrote under the telegram : " Grant without delay. The man's place 
is at the bedside of his ailing son." Isaac Goldenburg's supplication, 
addressed to the Most Orthodox Czar himself, had required just twenty- 
four hours for a favourable decision. 

Another time the Czar received an illiterate letter from a widowed 
peasant woman by the name of Vorobjova. In awkward, misspelt 
phrases she implored the Czar to release her son from military service. 
Although such exemption was contrary to law, Nicholas commanded : 
" Send her son home otherwise the entire farm may be ruined." 

Impulsive decisions of this kind created havoc among the reactionary 
Court generals. Under no circumstances must the public hear of them ! 
The Court Press Department regarded such intermezzi as definite 
departures from a Czar's inherent dignity. According to the Court 
Press Department, His Majesty should only send congratulatory 
telegrams to crack regiments of the Guard and to newly appointed 
generals. 

His daily labours at an end, the Czar would rest in his chair, watching 
dusk fall over the park. He would light one of his famous long 
cigarettes with which the Sultan of Turkey presented him each year. 
His face devoid of expression, Nicholas speculated on the future of the 
Empire and of his dynasty. He knew that, within the borders of his 
realm, even within the very confines of his own Court many an heir 
of a once mighty, ruling family was to be found. Before the Czar's 
eyes arose the fate of those sad remnants of a glory long since passed. 
There was, for example, the grand-nephew of the great Corsican, 
Prince Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, who now commanded one of the 
Czar's Uhlan regiments. Then, there was that superannuated colonel 
living modestly in St. Petersburg, Prince Lusignan, descendant of 
Guido Lusignan, last of the kings of Cyprus and Jerusalem. In the 
Palace Chancellery, too, there worked a young man by the name of 
Palfologue, heir to the last Emperor of Byzantium. Prince Murat 



176 NICHOLAS II 

served with the dragoons in Novgorod while Don Jaime de Bourbon, 
pretender to the Spanish crown, was with the Hussars at Grodno. 
One of the engineers in the Ministry of Transportation was a Count 
O'Rurk, descendant of the old kings of Ireland. Attached to the 
Ministry of Interior was a young general who caused the Czar a sharp 
pang whenever he beheld him. He bore the title and name of Prince 
Genghis Khan, being none other than an heir of the great conqueror. 
To be sure, the Czar never surmised that this same general was destined 
to become a high functionary of the checka. 

In the gloaming, Nicholas meditated upon the fate of these and other 
royal descendants, now eking out a meagre existence, clinging to 
the fringes of the imperial purple. Would scions of Romanov, too, 
serve as vassals at some foreign Court one day ? In the hand of God 
alone lay their fate. 

Disturbed by phantoms of rebellion on every side, and isolated from 
the rest of the world by a cordon of police and military, Nicholas II 
succumbed to the old dream of the Romanovs : When the wisdom of 
mere mortals proved unavailing, God, the Almighty, would dispatch 
a messenger to show the ruler the way out of darkness ! 

The Czar wondered which of his generals, popes, ministers, or 
courtiers would be chosen as the tool of God. Or might the Czar himself, 
through perpetual prayer, hear the guiding voice of the Lord ? Per- 
chance as once to the apostles the messenger of the Almighty would 
appear to him as a poor man in simple garb ? 

The Czar smoked and pondered late into the night. Whenever he 
reached for another cigarette the clown intoned the "Marseillaise." 
In the distance the fountains splashed and, in an adjoining room, bent 
over her embroidery, the Czarina sighed : "Oh, when will it ever be 
possible for us to live quietly like decent people ? " 



CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE 

WHO SHALL PROTECT THE THRONE ? 

IN his spacious study, in the palace at Czarskojc Selo, the Czar 
thumbed the endless reports of his ministers, governors, and 
ambassadors. Now and then his slim manicured fingers reached 
for a red crayon and, in a large, legible hand, made the notation : 
"That is exactly my opinion!" or "I shall never permit this!" 
Thus, in a few words, the careers and very lives of his subjects were 
settled, bringing happiness or despair to entire peoples. 

Day after day, ministers called to submit painstakingly prepared 
memorials to the Czar or to render oral reports. Nicholas listened 
attentively, but a minister had no way of knowing whether his informa- 
tion really interested the monarch or just bored him. At mention of 
revolutionaries or terrorists their desires and plans, their hopes and 
ideals the Czar would frown and declare : " But these people fail 
to understand Russia. After all, powerful groups still support the 
crown ! Neither the nobility nor the cossacks, for example, ever 
would permit my dethronement. Why, to them, such a step would be 
equal to civil war ! " 

The ministers would nod their heads in full agreement. Naturally 
they shared His Majesty's opinion completely for they, too, feared 
the restless workers, the bestially savage mushi/ts, and the declassed 
burghers. The nobility, the officers' corps, and the Church could be 
implicitly relied upon as a bulwark for the throne. The ministers, 
courtiers, and generals were sincerely convinced that these elements 
would prove themselves an impenetrable wall protecting czarist 
power. 

Late in the afternoon, after the Czar had read all the documents and 
listened to all the reports, he would frequently saunter through the 
quiet, immaculately kept lanes of Czarskoje Selo. The park, the palace, 
the pond with its black swans were all protected by crack regiments of 
his Guard. 

From a wooden bridge the Czar would watch the placid pond and 
think of the officers 1 corps, of the nobility, of the cossacks, and of the 
popes four pillars maintaining the tranquillity and stability of the 
Empire. That these four elements were imbued with utter fealty to 
the Czar was the profound, absolutely indestructible conviction of 
Nicholas II. To be sure, the workers were revolutionaries and so were 
the Jews, the Poles and, above all, the poor and starving mttshiks. 
However, the officers' corps of the Guards, the aristocracy, the Church, 
and the cossacks were loyal to the very marrow of their bones. 

The Czar's conviction was shared not only by his ministers and 

M 177 



178 NICHOLAS II 

courtiers, but virtually by everybody within the confines of his vast 
Empire. Even outside the country, on the terrace of a cafe overlooking 
Lake Geneva, Plechanov, venerable leader of the revolutionaries, 
spoke of the power of the nobles and the fealty of the Guard. " How 
can these walls around the Czar ever be undermined ? " he asked 
rhetorically. And the same question was echoed by exiles in Siberia, 
by emigres in Paris, by Jews in the Ukraine, and by all the ambassadors 
accredited to the Court of the Czar. They all looked upon Russia as 
a colossus, protected by a fourfold shield. 

But there was one man who did not share this opinion. In his London 
lodging, Vladimir Lenin sat by the stove in a little kitchen. In 
anticipatory enjoyment he sniffed the aroma of frying bacon grease 
and watched while Knipskaja prepared pancakes. Time and again, 
Lenin repeated, as if it were a chant : " They will all be with us, the 
nobles, the cossacks, and even the Guard, provided we approach them 
in the right way ! " 

For centuries czardom had been closely entwined with the officers' 
corps. The officers were like a tribe, with the Czar as their chieftain. 
Every prerogative inside the borders of Russia was within the province 
of the aristocratic army officer, even the ultimo te fate of the Czar's 
crown. No less than six times, in the history of the Empire, had army 
officers decided the succession to the throne. Finally, when Paul I 
had dared to resist the officers the bond between czar and officers' corps 
had been severed. In the night of the 1st of March, 1799, Prince 
Jashvil, an officer of the Guard, had thrown his sword on the, table of 
a St. Petersburg palace and shouted : " You have to break eggs to 
make an omelet. The revolution is an omelet and the eggs are the 
heads of the czars ! " 

Two dozen officers of the Guard had received these words enthusi- 
astically. It was the first time the word " revolution " had been 
pronounced within the borders of the realm by an officer of the Guard 
and had met the acclaim of his fellow officers. 

The tie that united Czar and nobility apparently was as strong as 
granite. In the Russia of old the nobility constituted a people all by 
themselves, an entity altogether separate from the many other peoples 
of the realm. And it was from this chosen people and not from the 
vague community of the whole of Russia that the Czar descended. 
The czars pronounced what the nobility thought, and the nobility did 
what the Czar said. To all appearances, nothing in the world could 
break this bond. 

Nevertheless, it had been broken on the I4th of December, 1825, 
when Nicholas I, in the Senate Square of his residential city of St. 
Petersburg, had ordered grapeshot to be fired at the aristocratic regi- 
ments of his realm. The grapeshot had struck the Russian nobility to 
the very core of their being. The cannon had been manned by men 
without names commoners, mere watchdogs of the Czar. Two months 
later, five Decembrists had been hanged bearers of the proudest 
names of the Empire, and many heirs of Rurik and Hedemin had been 



WHO SHAM- PROTECT THE THRONE ? 179 

sent into Siberian exile. From that moment onward Czar and nobility 
spoke different languages. However, God and the mounted host of 
cossacks could still be counted on to protect the holy realm. 

God ! In the eyes of official Russia, He, too, was just a subject of 
His Majesty. In" all manifestoes, in all-highest ukases, declarations, 
pronuncianientocs, and orders, the C/ar's name was printed in type 
twice as large as God's name. Whenever the Czar entered a church the 
Lord Almighty greeted him through the voice of his servants, metro- 
politans, archimandrites, and priests. The Czar was supreme protector 
of the Church and (rod's living representative on earth. It was the 
Czar who appointed saints, just as he appointed generals, and God 
simply had to accept the appointments. God's Church on earth rested 
in the hollow of the Czar's hand-- -a situation ultimately destined to 
prove fateful for the Church. 

In the course of centuries the old Greek Orthodox Church, with its 
saints, icons, solemn ceremonies, and magic mysticism, had evolved 
into a czarist office. A man made a career for himself in the clergy 
just as he did in the ranks of the army. Bishops were given medals, 
titles, and salaries. In distant provinces it was the Christian host 
which extended the influence of the Christian Church. 

In the same measure in which the power of the Czar over the Estab- 
lished Church grew, the power of the Church over the people declined. 
The more the Church fell under the spell of officialism, the more 
believers dissented. Sectarianism abounded. Presently, in the mystic 
fastnesses of Siberian forests, in the unending steppes of the Volga, 
in the ragged mountains of the Ural, new creeds established themselves. 
Eventually they became as dangerous to the magnificent edifice of the 
imperial Church as terrorists and revolutionaries proved to the 
formidable structure of the imperial realm. 

Because the Established Church could no longer boast of saints and 
martyrs, it proceeded against the unofficial Churches with the bayonets 
and cannon of the imperial army. Before long, exiled and punished 
dissenters Kaskolniki outnumbered exiled and punished terrorists. 
Although the Established Church loyally stood behind the Czar, 
nothing but a great, fear-inspiring abyss loomed behind the Established 
Church. 

But even if God, the nobles, and the officers' corps should fail to 
rally around the throne, there still remained the mounted, savage 
cossacks, knout in hand, and loyalty to the Czar gleaming in their 
fierce eyes. The monarch looked upon these robust descendants of 
South Russian brigands, these richest, most spoiled and privileged 
peasants of his realm, as his chosen children. Before his ascent to the 
throne, Nicholas had been supreme hetman of all cossack regiments. 
Later, as Czar, his bodyguard still consisted of cossacks, and he preferred 
wearing the cossack uniform to all others. Not for a moment did 
Nicholas question the devotion of this warlike tribe. 

Released from their chains, the cossacks like wild dogs of the 
steppes would ride rough-shod through the cities. When they swung 



l8o NICHOLAS II 

their knouts, labourers, peasants, and revolutionaries would take to 
their heels in all haste. It was the cossacks' songs of victory which 
were intoned atop destroyed barricades. 

If once there had been a bond between Czar and nobility and it had 
been severed, there never had been any real bond between cossacks and 
Czar. Indeed, in the past, the cossacks had been the natural enemies 
of the Czar. Then, by granting them land, the Czar had bought their 
obedience if not their love. The cossacks remained professional war- 
riors, mercenaries of the Czar, ready to serve just as long as it paid them 
to do so. Inherently, they were resentful of czardom because Russians 
had been appointed as leaders, thus depriving the cossacks of their old 
prerogative of choosing their own superiors. Moreover, it provoked 
the wild sons of the steppes when alien peasants were permitted to 
settle in the vicinity of their free villages. 

Above all, the cossacks never could forget the proud roster of their 
liberty-loving hetmans who once had threatened Moscow. The czars 
had decapitated them, or quartered, drawn and burned them at the 
stake. Rasin, Mazepa, Bulavin rebellious heretics and mutineers, 
against Czar and God still were heroes in the eyes of the cossacks. 
Actually, nothing bound them to the brilliant city of St. Petersburg 
and the European Czar, except their pay, an enforced oath, and the 
privilege of galloping through revolutionary cities and whipping the 
despised burghers. . . . 

The Czar, standing on the little bridge of Czarskoje Selo, contemplat- 
ing the fate of his realm, was completely unaware that those whom 
he considered strong supporters of czardom were not quite as depend- 
able as he assumed. Indeed, he never even surmised that he might 
be taking too much for granted. After all, his ears only heard the most 
submissive utterances of the nobility, the pious prayers of the Metro- 
politan and the frenzied cheering of regiment upon regiment of cossacks 
as they passed in brilliant parade before his palace. 

Nobody in the whole of Russia least of all the Czar and his revolu- 
tionary enemies recognized the real power upon which the crown 
rested. It was rooted in more solid soil than nobility, army, Church, 
and cossacks. The unknown pillar of the Empire was the despised and 
feared primitive peasantry, far stronger and more numerous than all 
the other classes and peoples of Russia together. 

The little villages of Central Russia, along the Volga, in far Siberia, 
and in the well nigh endless plains throughout the entire realm, were 
imbued with unswerving faith in the mystic powers of the Czar. This 
faith, inherent in every single mushik. was as indigenous and indestruc- 
tible as the Russian soil itself. Generations of intellectual revolution- 
aries had essayed to explain to the peasantry the true nature of bloody 
czardom. The mushiks would listen patiently enough, and then 
just scratch their heads ; all arguments of the intelligentsia rebounded 
ineffectively from the mushiks' innate instincts. 

The mushik was convinced that Little Father Czar not only was the 
terrestrial ruler of the realm but a magician to boot. In the holy 



WHO SHALL PROTECT T1JE THRONE ? l8l 

ceremony of anointment, he had been endowed with the gift to perform 
miracles. Year after year, on the 6th of January, the Czar would 
solemnly bless the water of the Neva, thus blessing the people who drank 
of this water. Only once, in 1904, an attempted assassination disturbed 
the ceremony. The following year the Czar stayed away, refusing to 
bless the river and the people. Immediately in St. Petersburg and 
along the entire course of the Neva, epidemics of typhoid, dysentery, 
and cholera developed. Many people died, arid the peasants, full of 
fear, pointed out to each other that the Little Father of the realm was 
angry with his people. The epidemic lasted throughout the year. 
At last, on the next Oth of January, the clergy succeeded in inducing the 
Czar to bless the waters of the Neva once again. From that very day 
the epidemic abated and soon came to an end altogether. The simple 
peasants along the Neva were filled with thanksgiving arid admiration 
for their miracle-working Czar. 

Even as late as the eve of the great revolution the exiled revolu- 
tionary Sensinov, in a God-forsaken Siberian village, vainly sought to 
enlighten a crowd of peasants on the Czar. 

" Do you know that we went to war with Japan ? " Sensinov asked. 

11 Certainly, we know/ 1 the inushiks retorted, smugly stroking their 
beards. 

" And do you know how this war ended ? " Sensinov asked next. 

11 Why, of course, we Russians won the war," came their answer. 

" But we lost the war. We had to give up half of Saghalin to the 
Japanese. 11 

11 We won the war just the same," the peasants repeated stubbornly. 

" But Saghalin, Saghalin ! We gave up half of it to the Japanese ! " 
Sensinov shouted. 

" If the Czar," the peasants maintained, " deigned to give half of 
this Saccharin ' to the Japanese, he did it of his own free will. We 
won the war just the same." 

" And what do you think of the Czar in general ? " Sensinov inquired, 
scarcely containing himself. 

The mtishiks looked at one another and replied doubtfully : " Well, 
what should we think of him ? He still is so young." 

" Young ? He is reigning for fifteen years now, and he is forty. 11 

11 That's just it. He is still young, and everything is so new to him 
What should one say about him ? " 

Although both intellectuals and peasants spoke Russian, their 
respective languages were utterly different. Fifteen years meant an 
eternity to Sensinov ; the mushiks, however, still vividly recalling those 
dreaded days of the cruel Ivan, the dark Vassili, and the quiet Alexius, 
could only gaze in embarrassment at this stranger who asked them to 
pass judgment on their Czar, Nicholas II. After a thousand-year 
history of the realm, he had reigned so far merely an infinitesimal 
span of fifteen years. 

Czar and peasantry, as far as the masses of Russia were concerned, 
formed a magic entity which would prove indestructible as long as the 



1 82 NICHOLAS II 

Russian soil itself lasted. Frequently the mushiks did not even know 
the name of the reigning Czar, But that did not matter ; important 
alone was their consciousness of living in that clearly defined space, 
Holy Russia, which in the eyes of the mushiks was comparable to the 
lap of the Holy Mother of God. This space was crowned with a cupola, 
and that cupola was the Czar. An all-pervading feeling of safety 
beneath this cupola accounted for the people's loyalty to their Czar. 
Under the protection of this cupola the mushik was only too ready to 
slay the nobles and plunder the rich. The cupola itself, however, 
must never be touched ! As long as that stood, robbery and slaughter 
were forgiven. Everything the mushik did rebellion included was in 
the name of the Czar, who appeared as omnipotent, as omnipresent, and 
as unfathomable as Nature itself. The howling winds, the rushing 
rivers, the snows of the winters, and the eternal miracle of fertility 
were accepted by the mushik as evidences of the wondrous powers of 
Little Father Czar, dispenser of all grace, and God's own representative 
on earth. 

That evil might emanate from Little Father Czar was unthinkable. 
True, the earth reeked of evil, but the nobles, the boyars, and the 
officials were alone responsible. The mmhiks were still imbued with 
the traditions of old Byzantine myths, according to which Czar and 
people fought a common battle against the evils which stood between 
them, seeking to separate them. When Alexander 11 abolished serfdom 
but left the estates to the gentry, every Russian peasant was convinced 
that the nobles and landowners had intercepted the Czar's order for 
free land. 

In the memory of the people the legend of the good Czar, fettered by 
evil demons, retained all its realism. Now and then there were rumours 
that these demons were prepared to exchange the Czar for a heretic 
with claws and horns, and to set the impostor on the throne. Thereupon, 
the aroused mushiks, armed with scythes, pitchforks, and sickles rushed 
to the Czar's assistance in all haste. On every side castles of the nobles 
were destroyed by flames ; wine cellars were plundered ; and the 
wealthy were ruthlessly slain. When a punitive expedition finally 
was sent against the rioting peasantry, they firmly believed that it 
was not at 'the command of Little Father Czar, but that evil demons 
were rampant in the land. 

The Czar's power over these simple souls was limitless. In 1834, 
when cholera had ravaged Moscow and many adjacent villages, the 
Government had sent physicians into the stricken areas. As most 
of these medical men had been nobles or foreigners, the rumour soon 
spread among the peasantry that they had come to poison the people. 
Presently, amid a dying city, scourged by cholera, wild rebellion had 
blazed everywhere. Physicians on their errand of mercy had been 
brutally butchered and the police driven off ; only with the greatest 
difficulty had the Guards eventually succeeded in protecting the 
Kremlin. 

At that juncture the scion on the throne of the Romanovs had been 



WHO SHAM PROTECT THE THRONE ? 183 

Nicholas I Pavlovitch. The rebellion notwithstanding, the Czar had 
decided to drive in his coach through the raving city, unarmed. When 
the mob had beheld the ornate carriage, the liveried coachman, and an 
officer in uniform, the cry had rung out: "Another of those 
poisoners ! " 

Amidst the howling, booing whistling crowd that surrounded the 
imperial calcche in Ked Square, Nicholas I Pavlovitch had alighted 
from the coach. The multitude had gazed upon his gigantic figure 1 and 
had withered under his imperious gaze. They had sturul at the double- 
headed eagle, crowning his officer's helmet, and presently they had 
recognized the Czar. There had been a momentary lull, and then the 
threatening voice of Nicholas had thundered : " Down on your knees ! 
Within the borders of My realm people may be poisoned only upon 
My special order ! " Shaking his finger, like a strict father to a 
disobedient son, he had added: "Take off your hats and cross 
yourselves ! " 

Without a murmur the people had sunk to their knees. The Czar, 
too, had crossed himself and had pronounced: "From now on the 
cholera will abate ! " 

Indeed, the scourge soon passed. 

Nicholas I Pavlovitch had been an accomplished initiate of that 
mystic bond twixt Czar and people. Even Alexander III had been 
sensitive to it. In Nicholas II, however, the knowledge of this holy 
secret of the realm was, to a great extent, buried too deeply in his 
unconscious mind. Only in very rare moments did he feel the spell of 
the century-old tie binding Czar and people to each other. It was the 
misfortune of Nicholas II that he groped for the support of his people. 
Alas, a czar must not grope ; he must know ! . . . 

On the little bridge that spanned the pond at Czarskoje Selo the 
Last, of the Czars reflected soberly and objectively on the fate of the 
crown. And it was precisely there he erred since the power of a czar 
rests neither upon intellectual cogitations nor economic calculations ; 
rather, it springs from emotion exclusively. No minister, no revolu- 
tionary, no high general could recognize as much, but the Czar had to 
be aware of it ! 

In endless speeches and reports the Czar was everlastingly assured 
that the nobility, the officers 1 corpsr, and the Church constituted the 
pillars of the throne. How could he doubt it ? As if under a somnam- 
bulistic spell, hedged in by phantoms, he faltered towards a yawning 
abyss. His road of ruin was crowded with cheering officers, whip- 
cracking cossacks, proud nobles, and dignified popes. 
nobody even surmised, that within the borders of the 
Nicholas II only monarch and peasantry agreed 
czardom. 

When infallible, holy czardom actually began to 
a warning arose from the ranks of the people, 
the imminent danger threatening their Czar. M 
Russia, between 1904 and 1917, knocked at the 




184 NICHOLAS TT 

palace with all its might. The obsessed Mitja Koljaba and the much- 
talked-of Darja Ossipova, along with many other imbeciles and miracle 
men, were but the expression of the people's deeply felt apprehensions 
for their Czar. 

The last warning which the people sent to their Czar was in the person 
of Grigori Efitnovitch Rasputin. 



CHAPTHR TWENTY-SEX 

CZAR AI.LXU'S'S JTROIKlVI 

IN the Czarina's boudoir in Petcrhof as well as in Czarskoje Selo 
there hung, beside manv other pictures of relatives, a painting 
of the second of the Romanovs, Czar Alexius Michailovitch, 
"The Very Quiet." The Czar's suite, both in Livadia and in 
Anichkov Palace, contained many antiques from the time of the 
14 Very Quiet " Alexius. 

During the first years of Nicholas II 's rule, picturesque festivities 
occasionally were held in the nianificent ballrooms of the Winter 
Palace, the guests appearing in historical costumes from the time of 
Alexius Michailovitch As if by magic, the White Hall, the Armorial 
Room, and the Malachite Hall were transformed into the hallowed 
rooms of the Kremlin of the old czars. Boyars, voivodes, and jesters, 
women with heavy head-dresses, strelitzes, and popes would revive, for 
a single night, the ancient ceremony and pomp of the Kremlin Court. 

Surrounded by his proud boyars, quiet Nicholas II greatly resembled 
his ancestor, quiet Alexius. Nicholas donned the heavy, golden cere- 
monial robe of his famous forebears only rarely. Usually he appeared 
in the ballroom garbed in a red velvet coat, a small fur cap, and 
wearing a little golden dagger. On the chest of his coat gleamed the 
czarist crown, embroidered in golden thread, atop a large Byzantine 
eagle. The embroidered old imperial eagle on the chest of the yoiithful 
Czar symbolized the past merging into the present with fitting dignity. 
The Czarina, wearing a high cap on her artfully arranged coiffure, 
heavy strings of pearls around her throat, and clad in a coat embroidered 
with precious stones, recalled the aloof rigidity of Byzantine icons. 

Czar and Czarina liked nothing better than to revert to the times of 
Alexius Michailovitch. In many ways their own lives appeared to them 
a strange counterpart of that of the old czar. He, too, had ascended 
the throne an inexperienced youth, and a clique of self-seeking boyars 
had sought to separate him from his people. Like Alexius, Nicholas II 
had to dismiss one after another of his father's old servants. Only 
then it became possible for the young Czar to discern clearly the true 
face of his realm, hitherto hidden behind the false assurances of his 
courtiers. 

The empire of quiet Alexius had been convulsed with bloody, never- 
ending battles, and protracted revolts. The monarch's most formidable 
antagonist on the banks of the Volga had been the vicious rebel 
Stenika Rasin. His firebrands had destroyed many a noble's estate on 
the banks of the mighty river, just as, in 1005, the intelligentsia had 
wrought havoc with their revolutionary ideas. 

185 



1 86 NICHOLAS ii 

Like Alexius, Czar Nicholas II had succeeded in suppressing the 
rebellion, enforcing the obedience of the boyars, and restoring order. 
Nicholas never credited these achievements to his able governors but 
was convinced that it had been God's miraculous Providence that had 
saved his realm. In all probability the same prayers which had brought 
victory to the second of the Romanovs would also prove efficacious for 
the thirteenth ruler of that house. 

The strange parallel between the second and the thirteenth of the 
Romanovs was evident in the private, as well as the political, life of the 
two czars. Nicholas also enjoyed listening to the chimes of old bells ; 
he was enchanted, too, with patriarchal family life, and similarly 
possessed that imperturbable spiritual calm which earned for Alexius 
the sobriquet of " The Very Quiet." 

Both czars were tried by personal misfortunes that were nearly 
identical. It had been Alexius's dream to give the realm a healthy and 
strong heir. Providence, however, had chosen to send him one daughter 
after another. Whenever Nicholas II regarded his four blooming, 
healthy daughters he was reminded of the daughters of Alexius. 
And was not the strong will and extraordinary talents of his oldest 
daughter, Olga, comparable to the imperious and g:fted Princess Sophia 
who, for many years after the death of her father, had steered the ship 
of state through dangerous shoals and devastating storms with a firm 
hand ? And finally, when Almighty God had answered the prayers of 
the pious Czar Alexius, and Czarina Maria Iljinishna bore him male 
children, the sons had been sickly and destined for an early grave. 
Like the patient sufferer Job, Alexius had bowed to his misfortune 
and presently the Lord had rewarded him : The last son Heaven 
granted Alexius was Peter the Great, first emperor on the throne of the 
czars. 

In comparing his life with that of Czar Alexius, Nicholas was confident 
that his life, too, would find a happy culmination and that he would 
bequeath a great ruler to Russia, The road to happiness which Alexius 
had travelled was clearly outlined, and since Nicholas resembled his 
forebear so greatly it was naturally enough that he should follow in 
the footsteps of quiet Alexius. 

Amidst Court intrigues, revolts, and catastrophes of all kinds, 
the " very quiet " czar had led the patriarchal life of a peaceful land- 
owner. Pious by nature Alexius had spent many years in sacred 
meditation. His supplications for a healthy heir had brought 
him into close contact with the primitive faith of his people. He had 
felt certain that a sturdy heir would be granted him in answer to the 
fervent prayers of a God-fearing people. 

Holy men, miracle workers, and Fools in Christ had crowded the 
dark corridors of the Kremlin. Along with the countrymen of his day, 
Alexius had believed that the cripples, imbeciles, deaf and dumb, the 
idiots and the obsessed were marked by God and, for this reason, 
were in especially close contact with Heavenly Powers. According 
to the pious conception of Alexius, State and Church formed an entity, 



CZAR ALEXIUS'S JURODOVI 

and Fools in Christ receiving their inspiration directly from God-- 
were as important, at least, as the robust voi voiles who Jed the Czar's 
armies to conquest. Alexius had passed many hours of each day in the 
society of the afflicted and the pious. His quiet soul had derived 
as much elation from a conversation with some mendicant friar, 
returning from Jerusalem, as from the report describing, in gruesome 
detail, the execution of that fierce rebel-leader, Stcnika Rasin. 

Nicholas II, too, was pious. Why, then, should lie not also enjoy 
the same heavenly blessings which had been granted to Alexius ? 
The admiration of the thirteenth of the Romanovs for the second of 
his line, at first harmless enough, eventually lured him to follow the 
mental and spiritual example of the quiet Alexius to the fullest measure. 

Although great changes had occurred since the rule of Czar Alexius, 
the soul of the Russian people had remained unchanged. Just as in 
the days of yore so-called jtirodori lunatics and cripples still 
wandered through the endlessness of the Russian steppes, still partaking 
of celestial blessings in mystic and ecstatic rites. 

To be sure, since the days of Peter the Great, these afflicted ones had 
been denied access to the imperial palace, because there no longer were 
any czars, only European imperators ! The people, however, still 
believed fervently in the blessings of the jwodori. How could the 
Czar ever penetrate to the core of his peoples' innermost being if the 
walls of the palace separated him from those Fools in Christ who 
enjoyed the faith and veneration of his subject- ? 

Early in his reign the historical balls in the Winter Palace imbued the 
Czar with the desire to surround himself with the jurodovi of Czar 
Alexius. The mystically inclined soul of the Czarina embraced the 
idea joyfully. She strongly believed in the divine spirit of the Russian 
people. Moreover, since the clergy would reintroduce the jurodovi 
at Court, after three hundred years of proscription, a guarantee was 
furnished that these Fools in Christ would not conspire with the Evil 
One. The longing of the imperial couple first restrained by a feeling 
of disdain to establish contact with those holy, primitive powers of 
the people, grew in the same degree that misfortunes descended upon 
the ruling house and the Empire. 

The Court clergy, the fathers-confessor of Their Majesties, the 
bishops, and the popes did everything in their power to further contact 
of the Most Orthodox Czar with the jurodovi. Through the instrument- 
ality of the clergy, the imperial palace exactly as in the times of the 
second Romanov gradually became crowded with imbeciles, miracle 
men, and pious pilgrims who, according to the ancient faith of the 
people, proclaimed the wishes of God in inarticulate, disconnected 
gibberish. The new-comers presently crowded out the Western spirit- 
ism which had been en vogue at Court for some time, and which the high 
clergy had resented, regarding European technique of spirit contact as 
un-Russian and un-Christian. The clergy believed that, since the 
Orthodox Czar held sway over all the powers of native magic, by 
virtue of holy anointment, he should abstain from employing the tricks 



i88 NICHOLAS ii 

of Western schismatic thaumaturgi and mystagogues. The Czarina, 
too, having experienced the wondrous powers of Holy Seraphim, 
was increasingly in favour of native miracle men. In a letter written 
at about that time, Alexandra Feodorovna expressed herself 
strongly against Western spiritism, denouncing it as " satanical and 
destructive." 

One of the first in the long row of intercessors between the Czar and 
God was Mitja Koljaba, who was poor in spirit. He came from 
the neighbourhood of the famous Dostoevskian monastery, Optina 
Pustynj. A historian of that time describes Mitja Koljaba as follows : 
11 He was bow-legged, misshapen, almost mute, with two stumps for 
arms. He had to be led, as his eyesight was very poor ; his hearing, 
too, was deficient, and his speech consisted of a few horrible sounds, 
uttered in painful gasps. Whenever he was shaken by an epileptic 
attack and began to shriek, his voice changed from an uncanny whimper 
into the sinister howling of an animal. Finally, it would become an 
unnerving and fear-inspiring roaring and baying. The repulsive 
impressions thus created were intensified by insane flailing of his 
deformed arms. Indeed, one had to have extremely strong nerves to 
endure the presence of this imbecile." 

Moving among the jwodom imposed a great strain on the Czarina. 
When, bending over the twitching body of Mitja, she tried to interpret 
his inarticulate whimpering, her eyes filled with compassionate tears. 
She strongly believed that this jurodovi, in all his repulsive wretched- 
ness, stood definitely nearer to the throne of the Almighty than many 
a courtier or minister. 

The Czarina searched through old theological writings of the Greek 
Orthodox Church for some mention of mediators between czar and 
God. To this end she studied the dead Slavonic language of the 
Church, and the deeper she penetrated into orthodox mysticism the 
more it appeared to her that only someone springing from the deepest 
roots of the people would be entrusted with the exalted task of a 
mediator. 

Simultaneously with the imbecile Mitja Koljaba, a demented woman 
by the name of Darja Ossipova was introduced at Court. In her 
epileptic attacks she uttered prophecies, mysterious formulae, and 
terrible curses. She, in turn, was followed by a half-witted peasant 
from Kasan who, in mystic ecstasy, would spit a sacramental wafer 
from his mouth into that of some courtier. 

Like augurs of old, Czar and Czarina closely observed all the twitch- 
ing, screaming, and howling jurodovi whom the high clergy brought 
to the palace. In the babbling and whining of these pitiful creatures 
they seriously endeavoured to discover a hidden meaning. In a steady 
stream, barefooted friars, pilgrims, and cripples were brought to the 
Court by the popes. While Nicholas II, in the presence of the jurodovi, 
always maintained the bearing of a ruler by the Grace of God, the soul 
of the poor Czarina presently fell completely under the spell of a mystical 
and direct contact with God. To the Emperor and Autocrat of All 



CZAR AT.EXIUS'S JURODOVI l8q 

the Russias, the jurodovi represented but one of the many aspects of 
his realm ; although they might enjoy the Grace of God, and although 
their advice was very interesting at times, for the anointed wearer of 
the purple, they were merely ghostly menials, occasionally permitted 
to place their insanity and wretchedness in the service of their Most 
Orthodox Czar. Whenever it seemed necessary to the Czar he did not 
hesitate to exile these jurodovi or imprison them like revolutionaries 
or other detrimental elements. Heir to an ancient ruling house, 
Nicholas II found it impossible to surrender completely to the motley 
host invading his palace. 

The Czarina was utteily difterent. A German princess of little 
importance suddenly raised to the dizzying heights of Kussian omnipo- 
tence, she groped for support. Tin 1 exalted isolation of porphyrogenites 
-for the Czar self-evident enough because it was inherited proved 
too much for her. Unable to find a living being equal to herself in the 
whole Russian world, she clutched anxiously and hopefully at those 
whom she assumed to be in direct contact with the Orthodox god of 
her realm. The same experience which, to the Czar, retained some 
aspects of a jest, became, for the Czarina, a solemn quest, imbued with 
utmost importance. As one enlightened by an inner understanding, 
she moved through the crowd of barefooted monks, revolting cripples 
and obsessed imbeciles. Before long association with the jurodori 
became second nature to her. 

Thus was ushered in the strangest chapter in contemporary history, 
the story of a peasant Grigori Efimovitch Rasputin to whom a 
czarina accorded honours befitting a divinity. Rasputin had been 
known to the imperial couple for fully ten years without, however, 
playing a prominent part among the host of divine intercessors. 
As early as 1900, the Czar had noted in his diary : " To-day we made 
the acquaintance of Grigori, a man from Tobolsk, whom God loves." 

But not until 1911 did the name of this man flash, meteor-like, 
across the firmament of the Czar's realm. 



CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN 

THE CONFIDANTE 

T"HHEIR Imperial Russian Majesties were depressed by the 
petrified pomp of their grandiose Court. Everything that 
surrounded them- -their entourage and servants, the very 
furniture seemed to lead a secret, independent life. 

The loneliness pervading the great hails weighed on the Czarina 
particularly. While her imperial husband attended to state business, 
and while her children were entrusted to their various tutors, Alexandra 
Feodorovna suffered agonizing hours of loneliness. 

The Empress spent entire days in her lavender boudoir, her soul 
steeped in gloomy foreboding. ' ' Her room/ ' writes Madame Vyrubova, 
" always was filled with a superabundance of beautiful flowers, especi- 
ally lilac and roses. On a low table next to the Empress's chaise-longue 
stood a great many family photographs, amid letters and telegrams 
which the Empress if they did not come from her relatives frequently 
forgot to answer. Over the chaise-longue hung a large painting : 
' The Dream of the Madonna/ depicting the Holy Virgin asleep 
against a marble column, surrounded by lilies and angels. . . . The 
stillness of the boudoir only now and then was shattered by chords 
struck on a grand piano in the room above. There the grandduchesses, 
one after another, would practise the same melody." 

Apparently there was no escape from the oppressive, almost mystical, 
silence dominating the lavender boudoir into a free and distant world. 
Since the Empress could concern herself with politics merely unoffici- 
ally, the one field of endeavour left to her was the education of her 
children ; there, fortunately, no restraint was imposed on her. And 
so the ambitious Czarina dedicated all her pent-up energy to her four 
daughters and her ailing son. 

Many hours were spent in the children's rooms where the Czarina 
discussed the respective curricula in great detail with the tutors, 
Mr. Gilliard, Mr. Gibbs, and Frau Schneider. The Empress personally 
instructed her daughters in domestic affairs, teaching them to sew 
and knit. With her own hands she dressed the young grandduchesses' 
dolls, kept by them in a closet which bore the warning : " Admittance 
only by permission of Tatiaiia or Olga." 

Luxuries were studiously withheld from the imperial children. 
Until they became of age they never wore jewellery. Association with 
children of the aristocracy was greatly restricted by the Czarina, because 
she feared her children would be exposed to undesirable influences. 
As a result, according to Elizabeth Naryshkina-Kurakina, Chief 

190 



THE CONFIDANTE 1 9! 

Lady-in-Waiting of the Empress, " the grandduchesses behaved like 
little savages when moving in society. 1 ' 

The Empress, preceding the birth of her son, had taken the greatest 
interest in the rearing of her children ; after the Czarevitch began to 
ail this became the main task of her life. The illness of the heir to 
the throne was kept secret for the longest time, so that, to outsiders, 
the anxious solicitude of the Czarina for her son seemed exaggerated 
to the point of ridicule. Courtiers voiced the opinion that an Empress 
should not neglect her duties as mother of her country in order to 
spend her days and nights in tlio nursery of her son. 

The increasing domesticity of the Czarina was observed by the cour- 
tiers with rising criticism. Alexandra Feodorovna had hoped that the 
chasm separating her from the Court would be bridged once she had 
borne the Czar a son. Now, however, she perceived that the birth of 
the Czarevitch had served only to emphasize the estrangement. If the 
courtiers had manifested an air of aloofness in the past, now the first 
signs of malice became clearly discernible. With satisfied smirks, the 
Court clique circulated a statement, allegedly made by the Grandduke 
of Hesse-Darmstadt, the Czarina's brother : " The Czar is an angel, 
but he does not know how to manage my sister. She needs somebody 
with a strong will to rule and restrain her from time to time." 

Aware that the Emperor did not in all likelihood exert this will over 
the Czarina, the critical courtiers strained every effort to detect who, 
within their circle, actually influenced the Empress. Presently, this 
person was discovered to be the former lady-in-waiting of the Empress, 
Madame Anna Tanejcva Vyrubova. The jealous Court clique promptly 
turned against her. This somewhat obese lady, whose life was so 
strangely tied up with that of the imperial couple, was a descendant of 
an old Court family. An excitable and simple-minded soul, Madame 
Vyrubova made a plain enough appearance, her outstanding character- 
istic being a flawless complexion. Her extravagant admiration for 
the Empress was almost morbid, and at times akin to fanatic super- 
stition. Indeed, Madame Vyrubova veritably drenched the Czarina 
in a wealth of ecstatic adoration. 

Although Madame Vyrubova's worship made the Empress uneasy at 
first, subsequently she felt compassion and attachment for this simple 
creature who, according to Count Witte's description, " regarded the 
Czarina rapturously, everlastingly sighing : ' Oh, oh ! ' " 

Madame Vyrubova and the Empress spent many musical hours 
together; too, the obese lady would squat at the Czarina's feet, 
gobbling up the religious tracts which the Empress gave her. Used to 
the cool indifference of her entourage, Alexandra Feodorovna became 
deeply touched by Madame Vyrubova's idolatry. On her first boat 
trip with her the Empress said : " Thank God, at last I have found a 
genuine friend." 

Presently, Madame Vyrubova became the Czarina's steady travelling 
companion. Her frugality and modesty combined to create a pro- 
found impression on the Czarina. " There never has been an imperial 



TQ2 NICHOLAS II 

favourite," writes Pateologue, "who was more modest and less 
presentable. 11 

Madame Vyrubova lived in a simply furnished little house in the 
neighbourhood of Czarskoje Selo Palace. There she often was visited 
by the imperial couple, the Empress bringing little cakes and the 
Emperor a bottle of sherry. These little gifts represented the only 
material support the nearly destitute Madame Vyrubova received 
from her imperial friends apart from her monthly salary of 270 
roubles. 

Common prayers, religious discussions, and music furnished the 
spiritual foundation for the friendship of the two women. Although 
the Empress had displayed religious fervour in the past, Madame 
Vyrubova's proximity aggravated this tendency to such a degree that 
eventually Alexandra Feodorovna's health began to suffer from it. 

The nervous ailment of the Empress grew steadily worse. ' ' Madame 
Vyrubova, 11 writes Madame Naryshkina-Kurakina, " never left the 
Czarina alone. She was always in her suite, mooning over her, kissing 
her hands, and claiming that she alone regarded the Czarina's condition 
with sufficient seriousness and could fully appreciate the Empress's 
sufferings. Doctor Fischer, the attending physician, wisely concluded 
that the patient merely had a light form of la grippe, and that her real 
sufferings could be traced to a nervous system, weakened by over- 
indulgence in mystical exultation. Doctor Fischer finally resolved to 
visit Madame Vyrubova and, appealing to her adoration for the Czarina, 
try to induce her to leave the Empress to herself for some time. By 
bringing the ailing Czarina into an entirely different spiritual and 
physical environment, he hoped to effect a cure. However, Madame 
Vyrubova merely laughed when the physician sought to enlist her 
help ; whereupon Doctor Fischer, recognizing that he could not expect 
any support from that source, asked to be dismissed from the case." 

The jealous, relentless friendship of Madame Vyrubova weighed 
upon the Czarina like a nightmare. She felt as if a strong, albeit 
invisible iron band was encircling her very soul. Nevertheless, the 
more fanatic Madame Vyrubova's friendship became, the more supinely 
the Empress gave herself over to its torturous enjoyment. Only in her 
later letters to the Czar does she complain of the importunity of this 
woman. " She is spoiled and badly bred. . . . Many people visit her so 
that she really has no reason to complain of loneliness. . . . She was in 
an exceedingly ill-humour this morning and not in the least amiable. 
In fact, one could almost say she was rude. ... It may not seem nice of 
me to talk about her in this way, but, you know, sometimes she is very 
hard to bear." 

However, the more the dissatisfaction of her entourage became 
evident to the Czarina, the more desperately she clung to Madame 
Vyrubova's friendship. Even Madame Vyrubova's secret infatuation 
for the Czar, which threw the Empress into paroxysms of jealousy at 
times, proved unable to loosen the strange bond between the two 
friends. 



THE CONFIDANTE IQ3 

Accompanied by Madame Vyrubova, the Empress frequently em- 
braced the quiet solitude of the sea. Life aboard the imperial yacht 
was not unlike that of a self-sufficient bourgeois family. On these 
voyages the Emperor would receive reports from his ministers only 
twice a week ; the rest of his time he gave to his family. The peaceful 
harmony of those days was complete. 

But while the Empress continued in her odd friendship, while the 
children played and the Emperor enjoyed long walks on deserted islands, 
Court circles in St. Petersburg indulged in acrimonious criticism of the 
Czarina. 

The cold aversion which the* Empress expressed to the official world, 
in contrast to her warm affection for Madame Vyrubova, appeared as a 
challenge. The whole Court and all strata of society indeed, the 
entire capital city just seemed to be waiting for a chance to discharge 
the full measure of their keen anger against the Empress. 

"One should know one's calling, " Grandduchess Maria Pavlovna 
once said to the Empress, seeking to warn her. But Alexandra 
Feodorovna never understood the warning. She never mastered the 
technique of imperial life " the calling of an Empress." Her entire- 
life was rendered tragic by her complete inability to grasp and master 
the sensitive mechanism that inevitably attaches itself to crowned 
heads. 



CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT 

THE STAKKTZ 

AYZEMENT, verging on perturbation, pervaded the corri- 
dors of the imperial palace, invading the dark halls and 
marble niches of the impressive ceremonial rooms. Generals 
on duty, chamberlains, and masters of ceremony exchanged 
terrified glances with one another. The courtiers whispered among 
themselves that, at night, a mushik with a shaggy beard and the rough 
coat of a peasant would sneak up to the Czar's suite to bless the Emperor 
and perform strange exorcisms over tiie body of the ailing Czarevitch. 
It was reported that the mysterious mushik addressed the Czarina as 
11 Mama," and he was also said to be in the habit of caressing the 
imperial daughters. To be sure, neither the Palace Commandant, nor 
his many aides-de-camp, had ever come face to face with this peasant. 
In fact the Palace Commandant professed unbounded surprise when 
Mademoiselle Tjutshcv, governess to the Czar's daughters, informed him 
of the mushik 9 s nocturnal visit. He knew very well that, officially, 
he was not to take any notice of this mushik, who called himself 
Grigori Efimovitch Rasputin. 

A cordon of palace police, sleuths, guards and others watched each 
and every step of the imperial couple. Every trip, visit, or conversa- 
tion of the Czar was overheard and jotted down. During politically 
unstable times the okhrana even listened in on the monarch's telephone 
conversations. If, despite all this, the Czar had a peasant brought to 
his study in the dead of night, through a side door and up a dark, 
narrow, winding staircase, this secrecy, in the eyes of the police, 
was equivalent to an all-highest order to ignore the existence of the 
mushik completely. Only gradually did the curious courtiers and 
police succeed in ascertaining by what circuitous route this uncouth 
peasant reached the suite of the Russian Czar. 

Some years previously the Siberian pilgrim, Rasputin, had been 
noticed among the crowd of holy men, Fools in Christ and magic 
healers, who, supported by the Court clergy, incessantly knocked at 
the doors of the imperial palace. Archimandrite Theophan, director 
of the priests' seminary, and one of the most learned theologists in 
Russia, had first observed, in the halls of that institution, the intelligent 
and pious wanderer from far distant Siberia. Religious conversations 
with Rasputin had convinced Father Theophan that this peasant was a 
true representative of that primitive, living and unrestrained religiosity 
in the hearts of the people for which Their Majesties yearned. 

Sponsored by the Archimandrite, Rasputin was introduced to the 
high clergy, and that body proceeded to probe the soul of this " saint 



THE STARETZ Ig5 

of the people." Rasputin made a most favourable impression ; especi- 
ally the influential Court cleric, Bishop Hcrmogen, seemed to enjoy the 
naive wisdom of this peasant hugely. Rasputin was also accepted by 
the priest Illiodor, who for many years had been one of the most 
important pillars of reactionary orthodoxy. Even the celebrated 
God-fearing Father John of Kronstadt praised this man who seemed so 
pleasing in the eyes of the Lord. He did not hesitate to receive his 
blessing publicly in proper and pious humility. Thus protected by the 
good will of the clergy, Rasputin embarked upon the road leading to 
the palace of God's Anointed One. 

Introduced by Illiodor into the circle of the conservative " Union 
of Genuine Russian People/' Rasputin succeeded in creating an 
excellent impression there also. The conservative gentlemen listened 
sympathetically to this peasant who crudely explained that Duma and 
constitution were works of the Evil One, and that now, as always, the 
heart of the Russian people still beat with unflagging loyalty for Little 
Father Czar. And while the "Union of Genuine Russian People" 
perceived merely the echo of the unadulterated soul of the Russian 
people in Rasputin's voice, it was Grandduchess Anastasia, the 
Montenegrin Princess, who sensed Rasputin's supernatural powers and 
fell under his spell as soon as he had been introduced to her. 

The furrowed face of Rasputin, his piercing eyes, the unquestionable 
magnetism he exerted, created an overwhelming impression on the 
mystically inclined Grandduchess. To her, the eyes of the Staretz 
a miracle-performing, wandering monk resembled a well-spring of 
supermundane life in which she might immerse her weary soul. Burn- 
ing with eagerness, the Montenegrin Princess speedily discovered 
that the Staretz indeed possessed supernatural gifts. The wise words 
of Rasputin had the ring of prophecies and on many an occasion the 
peasant actually succeeded in reading the most intimate thoughts of 
the Grandduchess and her entourage. Even more remarkable, this 
peasant was possessed of healing powers. By merely speaking softly 
or resorting to his hypnotic glance, he could heal apparently incurable 
invalids, especially women. 

Nothing was more natural than the desire to test the healing powers 
of this new protege at the bedside of the ailing Czarevitch. Long since, 
the Czarina had lost all confidence in the ability of the Court physicians 
and was only too willing to listen to the Grandduchess's suggestion. 
To Alexandra Feodorovna's mind there was no reason why, in science 
as in politics, magic powers, inherent in the people, should not prove 
much more efficacious than all the pitiful experiments of experts. The 
Czar, too, offered no objection to the Grandduchess's proposal, inas- 
much as the pious Staretz had been introduced to him by the leaders of 
Russian orthodoxy and the only truly loyal party of his realm, the 
" Union of Genuine Russian People." 

Even the first meeting of the imperial couple with the Staretz 
differed substantially from the many meetings of the Czarina with 
the ordinary crowd of jurodovi. While the latter usually consisted of 



196 NICHOLAS ii 

babbling soothsayers and pious advisers, Rasputin displayed neither 
marked humility nor forbidding sternness. 

The man who appeared before the imperial couple seemed to be just 
an ordinary Siberian mushik. He was quiet, stood erect, and had an 
open, forceful face. Ignoring all prescribed etiquette, Rasputin 
embraced Czar and Czarina, kissing each three times in accordance 
with an old Siberian custom. Moreover, Rasputin did not produce 
any mysterious magic for the Czar's benefit. In a convincing, straight- 
forward manner he simply lold him of his native Siberian village, 
Pokrovskojc, of his pilgrimages to old monasteries, of the joys and 
struggles of the peasants, and of the people's love for Little Father 
Czar. 

No sooner had the Czarina hesitatingly led the peasant into the 
Czarevitch's room than the child took to him with unexpected 
enthusiasm. The boy listened with absorption to the tales Rasputin 
told, forgetting his pain, and again and again demanding that the 
Staretz be brought to his bedside. Rasputin's simple, direct manner 
won the Czar's approval, while the Czarina became firmly convinced 
that this uncouth peasant was the friend whose appearance had been 
predicted by M. Philippe. But not until a remarkable incident had 
occurred was Grigori Efimovitch Rasputin able to grasp the soul of 
the Czarina in his strong peasant hands. 

Every autumn the imperial family would journey to Spala in 
Belovesh Wood for the hunting season. Thus, in 191 1 , Czar and Czarina, 
accompanied by the children, repaired to the small wooden hunting 
lodge, built on the edge of a primeval forest. One day the Czarevitch 
played beside a pond. In attempting to jump into a boat he made a 
spontaneous, violent movement. His face disfigured by pain, the 
boy fell to the ground. Those blue blotches appeared on his body 
which, in a bleeder, always indicate dangerous haemorrhages. The 
Czarevitch was rushed to the hunting lodge. A special train from 
St. Petersburg brought to Spala the imperial private physicians, 
Professors Botkin, Feodorov, and Rauchfuss. After a minute examina- 
tion, the three physicians agreed that the condition of the heir to the 
throne was hopeless. 

The Court Ministry made ready to acquaint the nation with the 
sad news. 'Prayers for the Czarevitch were offered in all the churches 
throughout the country. Ministers and courtiers awaited word of the 
Czarevitch's passing, momentarily. It was then that the desperate 
Czarina saw her last hope in that mediator whom Heaven recently 
had sent her. A short telegram ordered Staretz Rasputin to Spala. 

In this connection, General Mossolov, who was present in the hunting 
lodge during the Czarevitch's illness, says : " One evening, Professor 
Feodorov stayed with me after his two colleagues had departed. He 
told me : ' I don't agree with my colleagues. I am of the opinion 
that something more drastic should be done. Of course, strenuous 
measures are never devoid of danger. However, if I alone were treating 
the Czarevitch, I would apply them just the same. What do you 



THE STARETZ 197 

think, General ? Shall I consult the Emperor, or shall I resort to the 
remedy I have in mind without his knowledge ? ' 1 replied that I 
was in no position to offer advice. Then, as soon as the Professor 
had left, I informed the Court Minister of the conversation. While 
both of us stood together a courier passed and told us that he had 
just received Her Majesty's order to have a motor-car at the station, 
the following morning, for Rasputin. 

" Upon his arrival next day, the Staretz was taken directly 
to the Czarevitch's bedside. At two o'clock that afternoon the physi- 
cians reported to me, in great excitement, that the hemorrhages had 
stopped. As they were leaving I requested Professor Feodorov to 
remain behind for a moment. I asked him whether he had applied his 
remedy. He waved his hand and said : ' Even if I had done so, I would 
never admit it under the present circumstance. 1 Whereupon he left 
me abruptly. That night, for the first time since the Czarevitch's 
accident, the Czarina appeared at the dinner table. She seemed rested 
and optimistic and revealed that the boy was no longer complaining 
of pain, and that the imperial household would return to St. Petersburg 
within a week. The physicians who were present looked somewhat 
uneasy. ... A week later, when we departed for the capital city, 
I saw the young heir to the throne and spoke to him. He was in bed, 
playing contentedly, apparently not plagued by any pain." 

The miraculous salvation of the Czarevitch aroused a veritable 
paroxysm of enthusiasm in those conservative and clerical circles who 
had sponsored Rasputin at Court. The Czarina was certain now of 
the saintliness of the Staretz, arid cudgelled her brain how she might 
reward him. Since Rasputin refused to accept money from Their 
Majesties, the Empress herself embroidered coloured peasant blouses 
for him, wrote him gracious letters and not only paid increasing 
attention to his medical advice but to his political suggestions as well. 

In the same degree that Rasputin's influence in the imperial family 
and reactionary circles was enhanced, revulsion against this mysterious 
miracle worker grew by leaps and bounds in all other circles of the 
capital city. The aristocrats were displeased because the Czarina pre- 
ferred the company of an illiterate peasant to that of scions of old 
noble families ; ministers and clergy complained that, in connection 
with important appointments, Rasputin's advice carried increasing 
weight and was by no means difficult to secure for a consideration. 

Czar and Czarina heard more and more of Rasputin's activities 
from their entourage, but they ignored all warnings. Even when 
Bishop Hermogen and the Priest llliodor, or Grandduchess Anastasia 
the very people who had introduced Rasputin to the Court 
now spoke of him as a Messenger of the Anti-Christ, the imperial 
couple assumed that the general resentment denoted jealousy because 
they were lending their ear to a simple representative of the people. 
Nicholas was exceedingly irritated by the interminable warnings against 
Rasputin, insisting that just as anyone else in Russia, the Czar was 
entitled to a private life. Once, when a minister drew attention to 



ig8 NICHOLAS ii 

Rasputin's activities with especial emphasis, the Czar remarked 
wearily : " Perhaps you are correct but I beg of you never to mention 
Rasputin to me again." 

The only concession eventually wrung from Their Majesties was 
the agreement that Madame Vyrubova's little house, and not the palace, 
would be used for further clandestine meetings with Rasputin. There, 
the imperial couple and Rasputin would gather for prayer meetings. 

Meanwhile the people in St. Petersburg, shaking their heads gravely, 
told one another that the Czarina and the imperial daughters were in 
the habit of writing letters to the Staretz. Some of these missives 
eventually came into the possession of the Liberal politician, Gutshkov, 
and before long copies of the letters travelled from hand to hand. In 
one of them the Czarina wrote : " I have the feeling, as I listen to you, 
that my head is bowed and that the touch of your hand is upon me." 

These writings, so open to misinterpretation, furnished fresh stimulus 
to the nefarious gossip that had preceded their discovery. Finally, 
after exerting great ingenuity, Minister of Interior Makarov, succeeded 
in obtaining possession of the original letters. When he was next 
received in audience by the Czar he informed the ruler of the gossip 
occasioned by these letters, submitting six originals. 

The Czar's face turned chalky as he examined their.. " These letters 
are genuine," he admitted in a strange voice, and threw the packet 
into his desk drawer. 

Soon thereafter, Makarov was relieved of his post. 



CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE 

A MINISTER SPEAKS HIS MIND 

VLADIMIR NICHOLAIEVITCH KOKOVZQV, Premier and 
Minister of Finance of the Russian Empire, was an order- 
loving, pedantic, and careful man. Every night he jotted 
down the events of that day and made a memorandum of 
the duties for the morrow. An overworked man, he merely needed to 
glance at his agenda to inform himself of the tasks and interviews 
awaiting him. 

When the Minister glanced at his calendar on Monday, the 12th of 
February, 1912, he observed that the most important appointment 
for the following day was a visit to the Dowager-Empress, Maria 
Feodorovna. 

The Minister had received the old Empress's invitation only the day 
before, when Maria Feodorovna's lady-in-waiting, Elizabeth Naryshkina- 
Kurakina, had called on him. The brief time between the invitation 
and the date of reception convinced the Minister that the Dowager- 
Empress wished to discuss something important with him. 

The morning of the I3th of February was cold and foggy. The 
snow crunched under the wheels of the Minister's coach as it drew up 
before the palace of the Dowager-Empress at ten in the morning. 

" Thank you so much for coining," the old lady greeted Kokovzov 
as he entered her little salon. " I know I am interfering with your 
important work, nevertheless, I simply must speak with you." 

The Minister kissed the Dowager-Empress's hand, ensconced himself 
in a deep chair, and gazed with respectful awe upon the cold, immobile 
face of Maria Feodorovna. 

"Tell me, Vladimir Nicholaievitch," the old lady came directly 
to the point, "what do you know of these terrible rumours which 
not only agitate Court society, but even are reported in the public 
press ? Time and again I have been forced to listen to distasteful 
talk concerning a Siberian peasant by the name of Rasputin. It is 
all especially painful to me since my son and daughter-in-law recently 
have figured in the gossip. I have heard that something dreadful 
happened a short time ago. You, as Prime Minister, are far better 
informed than anybody else. Therefore, I beg you to tell me what 
you know." 

Kokovzov remained silent, obviously embarrassed. The affair 
at which the old Empress hinted was unsuitable for a lady's cars. 
Nevertheless Maria Feodorovna's manner was so imperious that the 
Minister decided to speak up despite his discomfiture. 

"Your Majesty knows," he began in a low voice, " that for some 

199 



200 NICHOLAS II 

time already the peasant Rasputin is playing a prominent role in the 
circle of the high clergy surrounding Their Imperial Majesties. It 
seems that, recently, some of the clerics have been assailed by certain 
doubts as to this man. The scandal, at which Your Majesty just 
hinted, unquestionably refers to a violent argument on the evening of 
the 1 5th of January. It occurred in the Jaroslav Hospital on Vasiliev 
Islands, where Hermogen, Bishop of Saratov, is residing temporarily. 

"As you know, Bishop Hermogen and Priest Illiodor, who are very 
close to the Court, formerly were Rasputin's protectors and friends. 
Now, however, this state of affairs seems to have undergone a change. 
The Bishop, supported by the Priest, reproached Rasputin when he 
appeared in his residence on the isth of January. They objected to 
the dissolute life of the peasant and demanded that he return to his 
Siberian village immediately and forever. 

" Rasputin answered by indulging in wild Siberian curses, where- 
upon Illiodor temperamental man that he is unloosed a stream of 
vulgar invectives. They roared at each other and finally came to 
blows. Indeed, it is quite possible that the bishop and the priest came 
within a hair's breadth of strangling Rasputin. The scene was so 
violent that Mitja Koljaba, inadvertently witnessing it, suffered one of 
his frequent epileptic attacks and, with foaming mouth and twitching 
limbs, fell to the floor an incident which served to return Bishop and 
Priest to a more sober procedure." 

Kokovzov paused for a moment and looked questioningly at the 
Dowager-Empress before continuing : 

1 ' As far as I am personally concerned I have neither spoken to 
Rasputin nor have I ever seen him. I am absolutely at a loss to explain 
how, the very same day, this peasant succeeded in informing His 
Majesty that the two clergymen had set a trap for him in order I beg 
Your Majesty's pardon to emasculate him. The Czar was highly 
incensed when he heard of it and declared that such a crime would be 
worse than robbery in broad daylight. 

" Most probably, Your Majesty knows the end of the story. 
Bishop, Priest, and Mitja have all been exiled to distant monasteries 
by order of the Czar. Rasputin, however, is running everywhere now, 
bragging of his influence and friendship with the imperial house. 
Incidentally, private letters addressed to him by the Czarina and the 
young grandduchesses have actually been shown around in Court 
circles. That is all, Your Majesty." 

During Kokovzov's report the frigid face of the Empress-Mother 
had assumed a grave expression. By the time the Minister had come 
to the end of his recital, however, the countenance of the old woman 
was completely transformed. She appeared to be in the throes of deep 
emotion. Trembling with excitement, her eyes brimming with tears, 
she arose and stumbled to the window. She turned her back to Kokov- 
zov, but she could not hide the fact that her shoulders were shaking. 
The Empress-Mother was sobbing like a heart-broken child. 

"Poor unfortunate Alix/' she sighed after an interval. "She 



A MINISTER SPEAKS HIS MIND 2OI 

simply does not sec that she is ruining the dynasty and herself. She 
really believes in the saintliness of this charlatan, and none of us 
can forestall the disaster that is inevitable." 

The Minister was amazed at the old lady's great distress. To be 
sure, the scandal was unfortunate. But, after all, the role Rasputin 
played was not so important that it could possibly lead to the end of 
the dynasty. It certainly was odd to hear the old Empress voice 
such far-fetched fears. 

The Minister grew thoughtful, however, when, upon returning to 
his office, he found a letter on his desk. Written in a scrawling hand and 
misspelt atrociously, the missive certainly did not fit into the dignified 
atmosphere of a Prime Minister's study. It read : 

" Want to go away altogether. Want to sec you. Everybody talk- 
ing about me now. You tell me when. Address : 12 Kirotshnaja, 
care of Sasonov. Rasputin." 

So that enigmatic peasant actually had dared to approach the highest 
officer of the realm directly. Impelled partly by curiosity, partly by 
prudence, Kokovzov resolved to receive the peasant three days hence. 
Mamontov, an old friend of Rasputin's, who also happened to be 
related to the Minister, was to be present as a witness. 

Kokovzov was a circumspect, industrious official. For decades, 
he had moved in a world of accurate data, diagrams, and calculations. 
To him the universe was just a system composed of exact figures and 
formulas. He subtracted and added feelings and passions in the same 
way that he balanced the budget of the Russian Empire. He utterly 
lacked understanding for supernatural visions, metaphysical phenomena 
and mystical confessions of faith. That much-talked of mushik who 
God alone knew how and why ! had been selected from a crowd of 
jurodovi as some sort of ephemeral hero, aroused the Minister's interest 
only because of his puzzling relations to the imperial family and, in this 
way, to the mechanism of government. 

It was late in the evening when a tall peasant, about forty years of 
age, strode into the Minister's study. He appeared at once robust and 
haggard. His huge head was covered with long, unkempt hair which 
fell to his shoulders. A dark scar probably a souvenir of a long- 
forgotten brawl marred his forehead. His prominent nose was broad, 
fleshy, and pock-marked. His face, sunburned and wrinkled, was 
covered by a scrubby black beard. 

The peasant Rasputin studied the Prime Minister. His eyes small, 
piercing, close-set, and grey in colour were tantalizing in their strange 
mobility and seemed to hide a disturbing and bewildering world. 

Kokovzov describes his meeting with Rasputin as follows : "He 
looked at me long and penetratingly, as if he meant to hypnotize ma 
Suddenly he jerked his head back and stared at the ceiling, his eyes 
scrutinizing the stucco ornaments overhead. Then, just as abruptly, 
he shifted his gaze to the floor and kept his silence without stirring. 
I had the feeling that he would remain in that senseless attitude for all 



202 NICHOLAS II 

eternity. I therefore addressed him somewhat impatiently : ' Well, 
you wanted to see me. Now what is it you wish ? We can't linger here 
until to-morrow morning.' At my words, Rasputin's face assumed a 
stupid, half-idiotic smile. Finally he murmured : ' Want nothing. 
Just looking what a high room this is.' Then he relapsed into silence 
once more, his head thrown back, his eyes fixed on the ceiling. 

" This awkward situation persisted until Mamontov's arrival. The 
two kissed and Mamontov asked Rasputin whether he had definitely 
made up his mind to return home. At this, Rasputin foisted his cold 
gaze upon me and demanded : ' Well, shall I go away ? Don't like this 
kind of life any more. What is all this gossip about me, anyway ? ' 

11 1 replied : ' It would be an excellent idea for you to leave. After 
all, it makes little difference whether all this talk is just hearsay or 
truth. You know you don't really belong here. Moreover, you arc 
hurting the Czar by your appearance in the palace, and especially by 
bragging of your close relations to the throne. Because of that, all 
those startling stories and rumours have spread about ! ' 

" ' Whom did 1 tell what ? ' Rasputin shouted in a high falsetto. 
' I don't care to go to the palace. Why am I dragged there ? ' 

" Mamontov interrupted him : ' Let's be candid, Grigori Efimovitch/ 
he declared unctiously. * Indeed, you talk far too much. But this is 
not the only thing that is important. You must remember that the 
palace is not the right place for you. Things will come to a bad ending 
if you remain there. Not for you, perhaps, but possibly for the Czar, 
because already his holy name is used in vain.' 

II Rasputin, ensconced in a deep chair, listened to Mamontov silently, 
his eyes downcast. When he had ceased speaking, the room was 
plunged into a silence that lasted unbearably long. Tea was served. 
Rasputin seized a piece of cake in his claw-like hand and threw it into 
his glass, again fixing his searing gaze upon me. These repeated 
attempts to hypnotize me became annoying. ' Your glances at me 
won't do any good/ I observed testily. ' Let us talk plainly. Don't 
you think Mamontov is right ? ' 

" Rasputin looked away, stretched in his chair, then, smiling insanely, 
said : ' Suits me. I go. But don't let them call me back if I am one 
who could hurt the Czar.' 

II 1 attempted to direct the conversation into different channels. 
We spoke of the situation in Siberia and Rasputin discoursed not only 
intelligently, but showed himself to have a remarkably keen perception 
of affairs. However, when I exclaimed : ' Now, you see, this is splendid, 
we will agree, somehow/ he seemed startled, threw his head back, and 
incoherently mumbled something like : ' Good. I am a ne'er-do-well. 
I leave. Let them get along without me. Why do they call me right 
along ? They want me to speak on one thing, the other thing, about 
this and that/ Then he jumped up suddenly, stared at me for a 
moment, and muttered : ' Well, now that we know each other, good- 
bye.' So saying, he strode from the room/' 

Two days later Kokovzov rendered his usual weekly report to the 



A MINISTER SPEAKS HIS MINI) 203 

Czar. After current questions had been discussed, Kokovzov requested 
permission to speak of something special. The Czar nodded in agree- 
ment, whereupon the Prime Minister described his interview with 
Rasputin. Kokovzov pointed out that, according to his mind, the 
peasant's boast that he stood very close to the throne had done 
considerable damage to the all-highest family. 

The Czar listened in silence ; only after the report was finished he 
inquired casually : " Did you advise Rasputin that you would exile 
him if he did not leave of his own accord ? " 

11 Your Majesty/' Kokovzov replied, " it is not my prerogative to 
exile anybody. Besides, there was no reason for it since Rasputin 
declared his readiness to leave." 

The Czar seemed satisfied. " I have been told/ 1 lie declared, " that 
you and the Minister of the Interior intended to banish Rasputin from 
my capital city without iirst informing me. I am very glad that I was 
misinformed. It would pain me if somebody were to suffer because of 
the imperial family. ' ' 

As Kokovzov was leaving, the Czar suddenly asked : " By the way, 
how did this mushik impress you ? ' ' 

" He made the worst possible impression upon me, Your Majesty/' 
was the frank reply. " During my one-hour conversation with him I 
formed the opinion that he is a typical Siberian vagabond. He belongs 
to that great mass of Russian ' barefooters ' who rove from village to 
village, usually hiding a criminal past, and not averse to availing 
themselves of any and all means of reaching their goal. If I may make 
so bold as to express myself candidly, I certainly would not like the 
idea of meeting that man in a dark alley. His appearance is revolting, 
his manners uncouth, and his air of simplicity is false and affected." 

The Czar did not say a word during all this. However, he looked 
out of the window an unmistakable sign that he did not approve of 
the conversation. Only when Kokovzov concluded with the assurance 
that he had considered it his duty to speak to the Czar, Nicholas forced 
a friendly smile and asserted that he appreciated the Prime Minister's 
candour. " By the way," the monarch added, " I hardly know this 
peasant. I merely caught a glimpse of him on two or three occasions." 

The conversation between Czar and Minister took place at eleven 
in the morning ; at four that same afternoon the Staretz was informed 
of it in detail. " So that's the kind of fellow lie is," Rasputin said of 
Kokovzov. " Well, good, let him. . . . Each one as he can." At the 
same time, in accordance with his promise, he left the capital city. 

Upon bidding farewell to the Czarina, the Staretz exclaimed 
dramatically : " I know that evil people strain every effort to rob me 
of your and the Emperor's affection. Pray, do not listen to them. 
And remember this : if we should ever be separated, you will lose your 
son and your crown within half a year/ 1 

Alexandra Feodorovna burst into tears and, grovelling at the feet 
of the peasant Rasputin, implored his blessings. 

At the next Court reception the Czarina extended her hand to the 



204 NICHOLAS II 

Prime Minister with obvious reluctance. The courtiers, who knew 
only too well how to interpret those tell-tale red blotches on the 
Czarina's face, quickly concluded that despite the pronounced affability 
of the Czar, despite the many merits of the Prime Minister, Kokovzov's 
dismissal was only a question of time. They were not mistaken. 

The day after Kokovzov's dismissal, Nicholas II met the old 
Empress-Mother in the imperial box of the opera house. " Now why 
did you do that ? " Maria Feodorovna demanded. 

The Czar's eyes held a wistful expression as he answered : " Do you 
think it was easy for me ? I shall tell you all about it another time. 1 
realize it is simple enough to dismiss a minister, but it is very hard to 
admit to oneself that one should never have done it." 



CHAPTER THIRTY 

THREE HUNDRED YEARS 

IN the winter of the year 1913 Russia celebrated the three-hundred- 
year reign of the House oi Romanov. Silence tense and expec- 
tant descended upon the Empire. Ministers, courtiers, peasants, 
popes and revolutionaries waited in vain for a word from the 
Czar which, rising above the ringing of the country's church bells, 
would bring good tidings to the people. Steeped in legend, the Czar's 
mighty mansion on the banks of the Nordic Neva remained mute. Not 
one word of imperial grace came from behind its formidable walls. The 
gates of the ruler's house were not swung wide to receive illustrious 
guests. Only once, on the 2oth of March, 1913, did the imperial family 
drive through the streets of the capital city amidst an oppressive 
silence. The entourage prayed in Kazan Cathedral. There the Patri- 
arch of Antiochia implored divine blessing for the Most Orthodox 
Czar. In the evening the Emperor received the representatives of the 
nobility, and the Czarina appeared in the great hall of the Nobility 
Club for the last time, adorned with the crown jewels. And for the last 
time the imperial family mingled with the society of St. Petersburg at a 
gala performance of Glinka's Life for the Czar at the Maria Theatre. 

That night, when the monarch appeared in the box, he was received 
by the strains of the national anthem. The four centre boxes, which 
had been reserved for the members of the dynasty, did not seem large 
enough for all the pomp. The Empress was arrayed in a snow-white 
velvet robe, emblazoned with the blue chain of the Order of the Holy 
Apostle Andrew, and wore a tiara of sparkling diamonds. Her immo- 
bile face was enigmatic and of a ghostly pallor. She stared ahead as 
one who is tortured by painful thoughts. Not even for the fraction of 
a second did a smile relieve her sombre countenance. The granddukes 
in the adjacent box clearly observed how belaboured was her breath, 
how the fan trembled in her white, almost transparent, hand. The 
first act of the opera had scarcely finished when the Czarina arose and 
left the box hastily. 

On the evening following the gala performance Alexandra Feodorovna 
sobbed on Madame Vyrubova's shoulder : " I could not help remem- 
bering how once, when I still had my health and youth, I visited that 
very same theatre with the Emperor, and how, on our return to the 
palace, the two of us enjoyed a little supper before an open fire in his 
study Look at me now, I am just a ruin." 

In celebration of the tercentenary, the imperial family travelled 
through the country. Like a pious pilgrim, the Czar was on his way to 
the cradle of his family, to the little wooden house of the boyar Romanov 

205 



206 NICHOLAS II 

that still stood in the dreamy city of Kostroma. On a small river 
steamer, the ruler passed the old cities whose very names conjured up 
the intoxicating beauty of golden icons. Step by step he retraced the 
historical trip which, in the spring of 1613, had taken Michael Romanov 
from Kostroma to the Kremlin of Moscow. Like illustrations for an old 
saga, the bulbous spires of churches, serving as landmarks of the 
steppes, arose along the Volga. In the ancient city of Vladimir, 
Nicholas II, striding through lanes of kneeling nutshiks, entered the 
six-hundred-year-old cathedral of Prince Andrew Bogolyubsky. In 
the twilight of the venerable edifice miraculous icons looked down 
upon the Czar in all their Byzantine splendour of colour. 

In Nishny Novgorod, the national anthem was intoned in the wide 
market square where, three hundred years ago, a butcher called Minin 
had laid the corner-stone of Romanov power in a fiery speech. In 
Jaroslav, Nicholas knelt before the old Bishop Tichon ; he was to 
ascend the throne of the orphaned Church four years later, following 
the monarch's abdication. 

Icy winds blew over Kostroma and its fairy-tale-like little houses 
dotting the terraced banks of the river. The gilded cupolas of old 
churches rose above the city majestically. White flurries whirled 
through the streets and squares, and the old city became animated 
with pale wraiths. The icebound river hid from the nocturnal storm 
beneath a blanket of pure, glittering white. 

Kostroma had been slumbering for fully three hundred years. All 
that time, the houses, the churches, the streets, and the squares had 
been dreaming of the robust tribe of Romanovs who had sprung from 
this city and gone out to rule the world. The huge bells of the church, 
swayed by the wind, spread a canopy of silvery chimes over the en- 
chanted city, bringing back the spirit of bygone centuries. The entire 
Empire re-echoed with the monotonous melody of the church bells of 
Kostroma, to the accompanying solemn chant of church choirs. The 
song of the bells filled all Russia. Amidst sweet-smelling clouds of 
incense a thousand flaring candles spluttered. 

The silvery echo of the bells awakened Kostroma cradle of the 
Romanovs from its enchanted spell. Three hundred years had passed 
since the beyar scion Michael had left Ipatiev monastery on the 
opposite bank of the Volga. He had embarked upon a road which, one 
day, would end in the death of his descendants in the cellar of the 
Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg. 

In the frosty winter nights of the year 1913 the church bells of the 
ancient city of Kostroma resounded with the legend of three centuries. 
It had been on the 2ist of February, 1613, that the cossacks and the 
sons of the boyars had shouted outside the doors of the Kremlin : 
" We want Michael Romanov for Czar ! He is young and simple 1 " 
Two months later Princes Pojarsky and Trubetzkoi handed the hat 
of the monomachist to the new Czar as the symbol of his reign. 

The bells rang out their sombre tale. Alexius followed Michael to 
the throne ; although he had been dubbed " The Very Quiet," his 



THREE HUNDRED YEARS 207 

realm was shaken by the mutiny of the rebel Stenika Rasin. . . . After 
Michael came Feodor, who tolled the church bells and prayed per- 
petually. . . . And then came Peter the Great, who affected German 
attire, ruled with a heavy hand, and took a maidservant of Riga for his 
wife. . . . Upon her death, Peter II became Czar. He was young and 
died of small-pox. . . . After him reigned his wife, Anna Ivanova. She 
loved a stable groom from Riga and built an ice; palace for her Court 
jester. . . . Following her, two-year old Ivan VI wore the crown of 
the Romanovs for 404 days, paying for his short-lived glory with 
twenty years of captivity. . . . lie was followed in turn by the beautiful 
Elizabeth, who danced the minuet with her soldiers and, loving life, 
abolished capital punishment. . . . Her nephew, Peter III, was a dolt 
who enjoyed playing soldiers, and was strangled. . . . After him, his 
wife, Catherine the Great, ascended the throne. She conquered coun- 
tries, kissed Potemkiii, and wrote her memoirs. . . . Her son Paul 
reigned for only five years. He exiled whole regiments to Siberia, 
loved the people, and had ambitions to conquer India. He, too, was 
strangled. . . . And then a sphinx, named Alexander, succeeded as 
ruler, and he subdued Napoleon. . . . Thereafter, Nicholas I reigned 
for thirty years. A stern man, destined to die of poisoning, he was 
called "The Stick." . . . His son, Alexander II, who liberated the 
mushiks, suffered from asthma and smoked more than was good for 
him. He was assassinated. . . . And for thirteen years after him 
powerful and strong Alexander III sat upon the throne of the 
Romanovs. . . . 

Alexander III was followed by Nicholas II. Frail of stature and 
born on the day of the patient sufferer Job, he was an accursed man, 
burdened with an ailing son. 

The city of Kostroma received the Czar as if awakening from a 
dream. Burghers and peasants crowded the squares. The long, dark 
beards of the men were moist with their tears. In a paroxysm of 
ecstasy, the people threw themselves at the Czar's feet. Women and 
children strained every effort to catch just one glance of the Czarina. 
The imperial family was devoid of all protection as they passed 
through the wide streets to the old castle, since here at the cradle 
of his family the thirteenth of the Romanovs had no reason to fear 
assassination. 

Houses and churches, men and beasts all gloried in the refulgent 
light of czardom. The whole city resembled an incarnate saga of a 
czar, happy and beloved. Amidst all the jubilation, nobody noticed how 
Staretz Rasputin an enigmatic smile on his face crossed himself 
fervently, like some evil sorcerer, in a far corner of the cathedral. 

When the Czar's steamer left Kostroma, young and old gathered 
at the river banks as if they knew that, for a long time to come, no 
Russian Czar would again put foot upon the sacred soil of Kostroma. 
Shrieking and babbling, the people threw themselves into the river 
from the steep banks, seeking to swim after the Czar's steamer. Many 
of them sank to their death in the cold waters but even then, reaching 



208 NICHOLAS II 

toward the slight, scarcely visible figure of the Czar with cramped 
fingers, they shouted words of love and loyalty after him. 

Standing on the bridge of the steamer, the Czarina pointed to the 
golden cupolas of Kostroma and exclaimed, in joyous accents, to her 
lady-in-waiting: "Now you can see what cowards these ministers 
are who frighten the Emperor so unnecessarily with their talk of 
revolution. All we need to do is just show ourselves to the people, arid 
immediately their hearts are ours." 

These words were spoken in spring, 1913, on the eve of the Great 
War. Five years later the people of Kostroma, and all the other 
peoples of the Russian Empire, were to raise the red flag of revolution 
over their old churches ; the church bells throughout the country 
announcing an end to the reign of the House of Romanov. 



CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE 

WAR 

Ait slowly disappeared behind ihe hills of Krassnojc Selo, 
the selling sun cast, a golden sheen over the old church. 
High above the wide valley, packed with people, soared a 
flock of aeroplanes. Drenched by the rays of the sun, Ihe 
enormous field resembled a multi-coloured Persian carpet. 

First softly, then increasingly louder, finally assuming the propor- 
tions of an avalanche of sound, there arose, like the reverberations 
of a distant earthquake, wild huzzas. Resounding from the 
throats of sixty thousand men, the cry swept along with the power 
of a tornado, threatening to shatter the entire trembling earth to 
atoms in a single mighty blow. The colourful parade uniforms of the 
soldiers seemed like so many red and blue flowers studding a green 
meadow. A movement, as quick as lightning, flashed across the field. 
Glittering swords cut through the air, and regimental colours were 
solemnly dipped in salute. 

The Czar appeared at the entrance of an ornately decorated 
tent. 

It was the 22nd of July, 1914. On the enormous parade grounds 
of Krassnoje Selo whole army divisions had been assembled for the 
Czar to lead in splendid review past his illustrious guest, Monsieur 
Raymond Poincare, President of the French Republic. 

The Czar mounted his horse and passed the grandstand, crowded 
with representatives of the Government, and foreign diplomats. He 
was followed by a carriage drawn by four milk-white steeds and 
conveying leaning against white silken cushions -Czarina, Czarevitch 
and, garbed in bourgeois black, the French statesman. Minister and 
diplomats bowed deeply, the last rays of the setting sun playing over 
their uniforms. 

Directly in front of the grandstand, in the colourful costume of 
a Hungarian magnate, stood Count Szapary von Szapar-Mura-Szombat 
andSzechy Sziget, Ambassador of His Apostolic Majesty, the Emperor- 
King of Austria-Hungary. Close to the Magyar, his clear blue eyes 
focused in the distance, his right hand stroking his pointed, grey 
beard, stood Count Friedrich von Pourtales, Ambassador of the 
German Kaiser. A little to the side, his monocle lending him the 
appearance of a wise old eagle, loomed the impressive figure of Maurice 
Paleologue, heir to the Emperor of Byzantium, now representing the 
French Republic at the Court of the Russian Czar. Next to him, smiling 
in friendly fashion at a grey-haired, taciturn Englishman, stood a bony 
man with a prominent nose and a finely chiselled mouth, looking like 
o 209 



210 NICHOLAS II 

nothing so much as a cunning fox, ready to leap upon his prey. Thus 
man was Scrgius Sasanov, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs. 

The dull reverberating report of a cannon announced sunset. At 
that moment a strange melodic sound arose all over the field. While 
the massed bands of all the Czar's Guard regiments intoned the evening 
prayer, sixty thousand soldiers sank to their knees, before their ruler, 
and, almost drowning the music, rhythmically chanted the Lord's 
Prayer. 

On the following day, during the great reception at Pctcrhof, the 
invited guests marched past the Czar while the bands of the Guard 
regiments played the " Marseillaise " in honour of the head of Hie 
French Republic. The courtiers stood at attention as the Czar's palmv 
echoed with the challenging measures of the revolutionary son;;. 
" Aliens cnfanls dc la palric" the granddukes hummed, and smiled 
somewhat superciliously. Even then, the selfsame melody was bring 
sung by fifty thousand workers in the factories and in the suburbs ol 
the Neva capital. However, while in the great hall of Peterhof the 
Czar listened to the stirring strains to do honour to his guest from Paris, 
the song rang out in the quarters of the labourers as a protest against 
the cutlasses and lances of the Imperial Cavaliers 1 Guard. 

A veritable deluge of strikes was inundating Riissia at that time. 
As late as on the i8th of July, 1914, the Rjctsh of St. Petersburg 
wrote : " To-day fifty thousand workers were on strike. At different 
points in the capital city groups of workers congregated, singing revolu- 
tionary songs, but they were soon dispersed. ' ' Three days later the same* 
newspaper reported : " Traffic in Moscow has been stopped during the 
protest strikes of the workers." And the next day the paper spread 
the news : "In the Vyborg district revolutionaries set upon police- 
men on repeated occasions. In Flugov Street barricades were erected 
but they were stormed by the police." 

As the report of the last salvoes, fired by the police, died away, 
Monsieur Lemaitre arrived from Paris. He had been especially ordered 
to St. Petersburg for the purpose of arranging the flowers for the great 
gala dinner at the French Embassy. During that dinner just as during 
the great reception at Peterhof -the guests exchanged significant 
glances. Once more, as in Pcterhof, the Czar absented himself for a 
private conference with his guest, Raymond Poincare. While his 
courtiers spoke in awed whispers, the Czar discussed with Poincare 
current political topics, such as the tension of Greek-Turkish relations ; 
the somewhat strange position Bulgaria had assumed in regard to the 
Balkan problem ; the arrival of Prince Wied in Albania ; and, finally, 
the recent assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the 
Austro-Hungarian crown, and the conflict which subsequently had 
developed between the Dual Monarchy and Serbia. 

When the President of the French Republic boarded the armoured- 
cruiser, La France, on the 23rd of July, the consensus among the 
diplomats was that a general European conflict had been averted. 
Indeed, the newspapers of the capital city dedicated their columns 



WAR 211 

almost exclusively to the trial of the rich M. Prosolov who had 
murdered his paramour in the restaurant "Jar"; to the case of 
Madame Caillaux ; to a South-American dance, called "tango"; 
and to the disturbing fact that, according to official information 
in St. Petersbuig ulone, no less than 120,000 workers had gone on 
strike. 

It was eleven o'clock in the morning when President Poincare left 
St. Petersburg ; at six in the evening of the same day, Baron (iiesl, 
Austrian minister to Belgrade, served an ultimatum on the Serbian 
Government which eventually was to decide the fate of the Old 
World. 

In the week that followed old friendships were broken, new enmities 
stretched their tentacles to every corner of the woild, armies lined 
up along the borders, diplomats frantically demanded their passports, 
and the Czar's face assumed a wan arid worried expression. At night- 
fall the Anointed of the Lord went into the subterranean crypt of 
Feodorov Cathedral to pray, often remaining until the break of dawn. 
In the stillness of the chapel he earnestly besought the Lord's guidance. 

During the day, however, the Czar sat at his desk with an expression- 
less face. Antechambers of the palace were crowded with bespurreel 
granddukes, bcmedalled generals, anxious admirals, and weary 
diplomats, while the Czar's desk was flooded with telegrams and 
reports, warnings, and impassioned pleas, some imploring him to 
maintain peace, others beseeching him, with equal fervour, to draw 
the sword. 

The Czar read everything with his customary calm. But between 
the lines of most respectful reports, from dark corners of his study, 
even from the chests of bemedallcd generals and from the very walls 
and windows indeed, wherever he looked one inescapable vision 
pursued him : The enigmatic smile on the countenance of William II, 
German Kaiser, 

The life of the Czar and that of the German Kaiser ci iss-crossed in the 
strangest manner. The Czar regarded his imperial neighbour with an 
odd mixture of hate and love. Deep down in his heart Nicholas II 
knew that, in the eyes of the world, the German Kaiser cut a more 
brilliant, more impressive, more glamorous figure than the Emperor 
and Autocrat of All the Russias. William II was taller than Nicholas II 
by two heads a physical advantage seemingly matched by the mental 
superiority he enjoyed over the Czar. Whenever the two monarchs met, 
the Czar's feeling of inferiority increased ; in his belaboured style, 
he had to read a prepared speech from a sheet of paper, while the 
Kaiser, in free and forceful fashion, addressed his audiences without 
the benefit of even a brief memorandum. 

There was something imperious and masterful in all the gestures 
of the German Kaiser. His letters, too, expressed distinct superiority 
with friendly advice assuming the tone of a moralistic sermon. In 
the presence of William II the Czar always experienced the discon- 
certing feeling of being returned to the classroom of his boyhood. 



212 NICHOLAS II 

Whenever he listened to the Kaiser's speeches, the Czar invariably 
fell under their spell. It was this incomprehensible, undefinablc 
influence which William exerted over him that Nicholas never could 
forgive. After all, the scion of the Romanovs was autocrat of an 
Orthodox country while the scion of the Hohenzollerns was merely the 
Lutheran monarch of a constitutional empire. The Czar was the tenth 
emperor of his dynasty, whereas only the grandfather of William II 
had received tiie Kaiser's crown from the hand of Bismarck. The 
Czar reigned over a continent, the Kaiser over only one of the European 
countries. Notwithstanding all this, whenever Czar and Kaiser met 
William II seemed superior to Nicholas II in every respect. 

As twilight descended upon the palace the Czar decided the future 
of his realm. Like Nemesis strange and evil the spectre of war 
bore down upon him a war which seemed as inevitable to him as his 
own tragic fate. In the twilight of that evening the Czar reiterated the 
words he once had chosen from the Book of Job as the motto of his 
life : "I was scared by terror, but ever and again it returncth and 
whatever I fear, it always assails me. 11 The biblical sentences stirred 
the Czar deeply, the words impressing him as an old prophecy expressly 
written to characterize his own life. Born on the day of the patient 
sufferer Job, the Czar viewed the many tribulations imposed upon him 
as a mystical repetition of the agonies his patron saint had endured. 
" Believe me/' Nicholas II once said to one of his ministers, " I am the 
ill-fated Czar ! And this is far more than just a premonition on my 
part. I am firmly convinced that painful trials will be my share and that 
1 shall not receive any reward in this world." 

The thought of his tragic fate paralysed the Czar. All mortal exer- 
tions seemed futile to him. The threat of approaching war seemed 
to strike at his soul with the ferocity of a beast of prey, and even 
when the very last warning of his people reached him, he shook it off 
as a wanderer shakes off the dust of the road. 

The last warning of the Russian people reached the Czar in the form 
of a telegram from the distant Siberian city of Tiumen. It read : 
1 ' Beware of war. The people will once more raise the cry : ' Down 
with this and down with that ! ' You must not start a war. Nothing 
good will come of it for you and your heir. Rasputin." 

Heedlessly the Czar thrust the message aside. The decision over 
peace and war had already been made. Stout, bald-headed, white- 
eyed Vladimir Suchomlinov with the smile of a victor had taken 
away with him, in his brief-case, the imperial ukase on mobilization. 

Night descended upon the palace like the black wings of an evil, 
sinister bird. With mechanical punctuality, the Czar retired to his 
bedroom shortly before midnight. Mechanically, he divested himself 
of his clothes. The valet opened the door to the bathroom. The bath 
already drawn, the Czar stepped in and locked the door. 

At midnight the valet knocked on the bathroom door. His voice 
trembled as he explained: "It is very urgent, Your Majesty, a 
telegram from His Majesty, the German Kaiser I " The Czar dried his 




PIV APP IVJ LI PKI.MM \< 



WAR 213 

hands, opened the door, and broke the seal of the telegram. Drops of 
water dripped upon the fateful message from his wet hair. The words 
danced before his eyes, chasing each other as if in a mad vortex. Finally 
the Czar grasped the meaning of the short sentences: "If Russia 
mobilizes, entire burden of decision rests on your shoulders and you 
will be responsible for war or peace." 

The Czar slipped into his bathrobe and went through his bedroom 
into the adjacent room of the valet. There was a telephone and the 
Czar raised the receiver. While the valet discreetly departed, closing 
the door, Nicholas asked to b^ connected with the office of the Minister 
of War. 

The startled voice of Suchomlinov came over the wire. Expecting 
no good news, the Minister of War listened intently. " Suchomlinov," 
the Czar's voice reached him, " do you understand me clearly ? 1 here- 
with give you the definite order to revoke the mobilization immediately 
and to cancel all measures in connection with it. Please repeat my 
order." 

The white eyes of the Minister of War widened in despair ; beads of 
perspiration formed on his large nose,. Was this little colonel of the 
Preobrashensky (iuard actually going to spoil the ingenious plans of 
a general, evolved after years and years of painstaking toil ? 
Suciiomliiiov shook his head violently, drops of sweat rolling off his 
nose. 

" Your Majesty," he declared, his voice unsteady from excitement, 
" the mobilization of the entire Russian army is in full swing. If we 
revoke orders already issued we shall face a catastrophe." 

The Czar's reply sounded calm but impeiious : "I will not listen 
to any objections. Kindly carry out my orders ! " 

Suchomlinov was exasperated to the point, of tears. " Your Majesty, 
a mobilization is not a mechanism that can be turned on and off as one 
pleases. " 

" Will you please repeat my order? " the Czar interrupted. He 
listened, nodded, then hung up the receiver. 

The generals left the salvation of the endangered mobilization to 
a professional diplomat, Minister of the Foreign Affairs, Sasanov. 
Early next morning, an ingratiating smile on his face, Sasanov stepped 
into the Czar's study as if into the room of an invalid. Words rolled 
off his tongue with all the soft enchantment of a melodious song. His 
eyes half-closed, the Czar drank in Sasanov's talk on the liberation of 
the Slavs, on the cleansing fires of war, and on the eternal battle between 
Slavs and Germans, now approaching an ultimate decision. fl We can 
no longer avoid the war, Your Majesty," Sasanov asserted. " It is 
obvious that Germany is evading all attempts at mediation merely as a 
subterfuge to gain time. Under such circumstances, I don't believe 
Your Majesty should hesitate to proceed with general mobilization." 

Suddenly the Czar raised his eyes. His face was drained of all colour. 
Planting both hands on his desk, his body bent slightly forward, 
he adjured hoarsely : " Remember, the responsibility I incur is on the 



214 NICHOLAS II 

strength of your advice. Remember, this means sending thousands 
upon thousands to their death ! " 

Undisturbed, Sasanov reassured his rulur : " Neither Your Majesty's 
conscience nor my own will be burdened if war breaks out. Your 
Majesty and the Government have done everything to save the world 
from this terrible trial. But from now on we must think of the security 
of the realm. In all probability the war will start the very minute it 
has been scheduled for by Germany." 

The Minister thus reasoned with the Czar for a full hour ; during 
that time the fate of czardom was decided. Finally, in resolute accents, 
the Czar commanded : " Very well, Sergius Dimitrievitch, telephone 
the General Staff to proceed with the general mobilization." 

That same day an imperial ukase was posted all over St. Petersburg. 
It was to decide the life and death of millions, ushering in the end of the 
old world and bringing debacle to four imperial thrones. 

Three days after the outbreak of the war, the Czar appeared in 
the main hall of the Winter Palace. The room was filled with officers 
of the Guard. An altar arose in the centre of the hall, with the image 
of the Holy Mother of Kazan looking down upon the Czar sorrowfully. 
A hundred years had passed since the venerable Russian Field-Marshal 
Michail Larinovitch Kutusov had knelt before the holy image before 
going forth to war against Napoleon. 

The Czar kissed the wood of the old icon. Then he raised his hand, 
and his officers imagined they were hearkening to the thundering 
fanfares of the Angel of Victory when Nicholas II made the pronuncia- 
mcnto : ' ' Officers of My Guard, I swear that I shall not conclude peace 
until the last enemy has been driven off the soil of Our beloved country." 

All at once the Czar felt as if the words of this solemn oath were 
shackling his soul like a heavy chain of steel and he shuddered involun- 
tarily. An invisible hand had cut him off from the past for ever. 
Even if he had violated his coronation oath by renouncing some of his 
autocratic prerogatives, he would keep the new oath he had just 
rendered to the end of his days. Nicholas II was willing to sacrifice 
his blood and the blood of his dynasty if he might only face the Supreme 
Judge irjimaculately. 

The Plurimos annos of the officers shook the hall like a tornado. The 
impressive prayer resounding in his ears, the Czar fervently hoped that 
with his new oath the old curse of Job would be lifted from him. As he 
stepped out on to the balcony he felt relieved of all the pressure, 
accumulated during the last few days. An enormous multitude had 
congregated before the palace. In the inspired singing of his kneeling 
subjects, the Czar envisioned the radiant face of a new, united Russia 
arising, phoenix-like, from the fires of a great war. In that empire of 
the future no chasm would separate the Czar from his people ; the 
very thunder of the enemies' cannon would break down all barriers. 
In the light of eternal glory the Czar's flag, resembling a holy icon, 
would wave for ever over the realm. 

Indeed, as if decreed by Providence, strikes and unrest ceased 



WAR 215 

throughout the country. In Moscow, Kiev, Kazan, and Simbirsk, the 
people knelt before the Czar's banners. Once more the spirit of old 
Holy Russia spread over the land and, for the first time since the 
glorious year of 1812, which witnessed the defeat of Napoleon, the 
Russian Empire stood like a rock of granite, proudly crowned by 
the majestic double-headed imperial eagle. 

The morrow, however, was painfully devoid of cheering, singing 
masses. In Pctcrhof park the Elizabethan fountains murmured a 
melancholy refrain. The monarch sauntered slowly through the broad 
lanes shaded by old trees. Beside Nicholas, dwarfing his slight figure 
and endeavouring to keep in step with him, strode his gigantic uncle, 
Nicholai Nicholaicvitch. 

At the door of the dainty Calhcrinian pavilion " Ferine," the Grand- 
duke halted, bowed deeply, and waited for the Czar to enter first. 
Inside, at a conference table covered with green baize, ministers and 
generals were gathered. They sprang to their feet as the Czar reached 
the head of the table. 'I he cheers of yesterday's multitudes still ringing 
in his ears, he explained to the dignitaries that, following the example 
of his exalted forebears, he himself would assume supreme command 
of the army in this difficult hour. 

Dull silence greeted the announcement. The generals sat with their 
heads bent. In the sudden quiet, the splashing of the nearby fountains 
became audible to a disconcerting degree. Then, as if seeking to cmula tc 
the whispering waters, the soft, monotonous warning voices of ministers 
and generals descended upon the monarch. 

" I beg Your Majesty, most humbly, not to leave your capital city. 
I have always advised Your Majesty as a true servant, according to 
my best knowledge. In this perilous hour, I implore Your Majesty 
to heed my warning." 

" Your Majesty's most exalted forebear, Alexander I, was severely 
criticized because he did not remain in the capital city. All historians 
emphasize this fact, as Your Majesty doubtless knows." 

" Your Majesty, this will be a very difficult war. Indeed, we may 
have to retreat during the first few weeks for strategic reasons. Your 
Majesty must not subject yourself to the risks of war." 

The Czar remained silent ; his joyous mood had deserted him. 
Jealousy, clearly discernible in the eyes of his generals, darkened the 
brilliant picture his mind had painted of himself as Commander-in- 
Chief. He paced up and down the room, followed by the anxious 
glances of the generals. His voice sounded weary and hollow, when, 
at last, he declared : "I shall not assume the supreme command. I 
herewith appoint, as Commander-in-Chief of my armies, His Imperial 
Highness, the Inspector-General of Cavalry, Commandant of the Guard, 
and Chief of the Military Area of St. Petersburg, Grandduke Nicholai 
Nicholaievitch." Suppressing a sigh, the Czar embraced his uncle and 
kissed him. The Great War had imposed a great renunciation upon 
Nicholas. 

Thereafter, in the same measure in which generals and diplomats 



216 NICHOLAS II 

rushed to the palace of the Grandduke on the Snamenka, it grew 
increasingly quiet around Hie Czar. One after another the other 
granddukcs left for the front. The diplomats were everlastingly in 
conference with the Commandcr-in-Chicf. Nicholas spent many hours 
of solitude and prayer in the little chapel of the Court cathedral. In 
accordance with tradition, he resolved to embark upon a pilgrimage to 
the resting-place of his forebears ; in the Holy Kremlin he would again 
summon all his peoples to arms. 

On the i8th of August, 1914, the Czar entered the hall of the Holy 
George in the Kremlin at Moscow. The old ceiling of the enormous 
room trembled under the terrific vibration of the cheering crowds. 
Everybody present seemed to recall how, a hundred years previously, 
on the same holy spot, Alexander I had declared war on Napoleon. 

Blackamoors, wearing silk turbans adorned with long, white plumes, 
swung open the doors for the Czar. Accompanied by the imperial 
family, Nicholas II strode through Vladimir's Hall. Ceremoniously the 
doors which gave on the Red Threshold where only a czar might set 
foot were flung wide for him. Even as the multitudes in Red Square 
gazed upon the Czar, the enormous bells of Ivan Velike resounded as 
mightily as on the day of coronation. 

The people sank to their knees. The narrow, red carpet, spread 
from the palace to the Uspensky Cathedral, seemed a symbol of the 
bloody path of war upon which the Czar was embarking now. While 
he slowly strode through the crowd, wholly unprotected, women held 
up their children and men bent down to kiss the carpet trod by the 
Czar's foot. All over the wide square arose the solemn strains of the 
Czar's Hymn. 

Holding the cross of Michael Romanov in his hand, the Metropolitan 
of Moscow bowed low before the Czar at the entrance to the church. 
Nicholas crossed himself, kissed the crucifix, and stepped into the semi- 
darkness of the cathedral where, eighteen years before, he had placed 
the crown of the realm upon his head. 

Three metropolitans, twelve archbishops, and one hundred and ten 
archimandrites and abbots conducted the solemn prayers. The bright 
rays of the sun filtered through the high windows of the cathedral. 
In its reflection the diamonds, sapphires, and rubies on the popes' 
vestments, and the gold of the icons, gleamed in dazzling splendour. 
The mighty edifice reverberated with the sound of the io4th Psalm. 
The imperial daughters hid their tear-stained faces under large straw 
hats as the Metropolitan handed the Czar the miraculous golden 
crucifix inside of which was imbedded a precious splinter of the holy 
cross of the Redeemer. Clouds of incense enveloping the Emperor, he 
kissed the holy relic, visibly stirred. Then, accompanied by the clergy, 
he approached the icon of the Holy Mother of God of Vladimir. Kneel- 
ing before it, he fervently kissed the treasured image. Many centuries 
ago, when liberating Holy Russia from the yoke of the Tatars, Dimitri 
Donskoi, the Muscovite ruler, had had the icon carried before him in 
the victorious battle on Kulikov Field. Now, as then, the gracious 



WAR 217 

mien of the Mother of God seemed to promise victory to the ruler of 
the Orthodox realm. 

The imperial family left the cathedral, the cheers of the people 
echoing all over Red Square. An exalted smile suffused the face of 
Alexandra Fcodorovna ; her eyes stared into space. Suddenly the 
Czar arrested his steps. Turning towards the ambassadors of Great 
Britain and the French Republic, he cordially remarked: "Won't 
you please step forward, gentlemen. This acclaim is meant for you as 
much as it is for me." 

Then the Czar proceeded as one in a dream, his face radiant, as he 
marched in the procession. 

Even then, another procession was under way, plodding through the 
silence of Siberian steppes, through the plains along the Volga, across 
the mountains of the Ural, and through the cornfields of the Ukraine. 
Millions and millions of armed mushiks marched in response to the 
Czar's summons to arms which had re-echoed in the villages and settle- 
ments of the gigantic realm like a pope's call to prayer. In the heavy 
step of ten million peasants, eager for battle and ready to make every 
sacrifice, the great country heeded the last call of the Most Orthodox 
Czar, Nicholas Alexandrovitch, the thirteenth of the House of 
Romanov. 



CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO 

THE MAGICAL TRIUMVIRATE 

EK God's own messenger, Rasputin hastened from Siberia to 
St. Petersburg and from there to Czarskoje Solo to the house 
of Madame Anna Vyrubova. In jumbled sentences he cursed 
arid blessed the war in the same breath. Utilizing his hypnotic 
power to its fullest measure, he sought to discover, in the expressionless 
face of Madame Vyrubova, at least a reflection of the thoughts and 
sentiments agitating Their Imperial Majesties. However, Madame 
Vyrubova's rosy and rubicund face was as devoid of expression as her 
brain was bare of ideas. 

Madame Vyrubova was busy these days nursing wounded officers 
of the Guard. The Emperor was on a journey ; the Empress in charge 
of a hospital. Czarina and grandduchesses assisted at operations. 
Stern of mien, her bluish lips compressed tightly, Alexandra Feodorovna 
demanded that she be permitted to lend assistance even in the most 
ghastly and revolting cases. To enhance her usefulness, the Czarina 
embarked upon a course of surgery. " At a quarter-past five in the 
morning," she wrote to the Czar, " we had an amputation at the base 
hospital. I assisted by handing the instruments to the surgeons, 
while Olga threaded the needles. . . . Then we were busy making 
dressings in one of the wards. I beheld unfortunate men, horribly 
injured. ... I cleansed and dressed their wounds." 

" My brain works incessantly," she wrote another time. " Hundreds 
of thoughts and possibilities assail me ; try as I may, I simply cannot 
relax." 

Under the burden of the duties which had descended upon her so 
suddenly, there was little time for the Czarina to indulge in mute 
meditations in Rasputin's company. Only now and then did she 
appear in Madame Vyrubova's house. Usually the Czarina was so 
preoccupied that the Staretz concluded pictures of operating-rooms 
were crowding out the pictures of mystical wonders which hitherto 
had filled her soul. 

Alexandra Feodorovna spent sleepless nights. Plagued by nerve- 
shattering headaches and heavy of heart, she stared, until the dawn, 
into the milky sheen of St. Petersburg's white nights. A row of medi- 
cine bottles covered her night-table. Her face twisted with pain, 
she applied a headache pencil to her aching temples. She still could 
not fully grasp that the Emperor had to spend most of his time travel- 
ling, and that her homeland her brothers, nephews, and cousins now 
had become her enemies. 

The Czarina never could forget that day when Madame Vyrubova, 

218 



THE MAGICAL TRIUMVIRATE 2ig 

in hat and coat, had rushed into the lavender boudoir like a whirlwind. 
Her round face flushed from excitement, her eyes filled with horror, 
she had gasped : " Your Majesty, we are mobilizing ! " 

Alexandra Feodorovna had calmly confirmed the news: "Yes, 
thirteen army corps against Austria." 

" No, no, Your Majesty. General mobilization has been proclaimed. 
It is war against Germany 1 " 

The Czarina had blanched. Her hand, holding some embroidery, 
had trembled in a spasm of agony. 

Once before in the year 1012 she had succeeded in laying the 
ghost of a threatening war. That time, with the whole world arming 
because of unrest in the Balkan, Rasputin had stood at her side. His 
simple peasant mind rejected war. The Staretz had crashed his fist 
upon the table, had shouted, prophesied, and cursed with brutal frank- 
ness. Then, the Czar had thought Rasputin's voice echoed the voice 
of the entire Russian people. However, since the Staretz had left the 
capital city, it was the military who now went in and out of the imperial 
palace. The Czarina felt that her power over the Czar gained during 
twenty years of incessant struggle was waning ; gradually, but 
undeniably, it was slipping from her helpless grasp. 

When Madame Vyrubova had brought her that fateful message, 
Alexandra Feodorovna had arisen and, hastening through her suite, 
had burst into the Czar's study. The glossy, lacquered door had shut 
behind her like the lid of a coffin. Madame Vyrubova, left alone, 
could distinguish excited voices. First the Czarina had talked and then 
the Czar had answered. The Czar's voice had grown louder and more 
nervous but, at the same time, firmer. Then, the Czarina had interrupted 
the Emperor. It had been impossible to understand what was said, 
but the sound of their voices had been enough to throw Madame 
Vyrubova into a panic. For the first time in all the years she knew the 
imperial couple the Czar actually had shouted at his consort 

Half an hour later the door of the study was flung open. Alexandra 
Feodorovna came rushing out, her face covered with red blotches, 
tears welling in her eyes. The picture of despair, she flung herself on 
a divan and sobbed : " This is the end. We are at war . . . and I was 
not even told about it ! " 

In the afternoon the Czar came to the suite of his consort for tea. 
He was taciturn and gloomy and seemed more than a little bewildered. 
He explained to the Empress, somewhat apologetically : "I have 
no right to rescind the mobilization. German troops may invade 
Russia before long. Why, according to my information, they are fully 
mobilized already. How, then, can I assume such a responsibility for 
my people ? " 

The Czarina suffered agonies. Not only her German relatives were 
to be considered, but the long row of Russian grandduchesses as well ; 
almost all of them, like herself, were " German brood-mares for the 
House of Romanov," to use Bismarck's descriptive phrase. 

During long sleepless nights, the Empress tried to master the 



220 NICHOLAS II 

conflicting feelings which tortured her. Her old animosity against the 
German Kaiser now flared into a burning hatred of the Prussians. 
Suddenly, it seemed to her that the little grandduchy of Hesse-Darm- 
stadt was merely a subjugated province of the Reich, called upon to 
bleed to death for the higher glory of Prussian arms. Should Prussia 
be vanquished, would it not mean new liberty for her own native soil ? 
True, her husband's armies would be fighting Hessian regiments but, 
just now, it appeared to Alexandra Fcodorovna that Russia's armed 
forces set out primarily to smash the mailed fist of Prussianism which 
fettered Hesse-Darmstadt. With the same fervour with which 
protestant Alix had once embraced the Orthodox faith, she now lashed 
herself into bitter hatred against the country of her birth and its 
Kaiser who had engineered her marriage. 

The Czarina believed that no matter how victoriously the war 
might end it would only bring fresh humiliations and agonies for her. 
During the Russo-Japanese War she had been sneered at as "that 
English woman " ; now she felt that courtiers and aristocrats alike 
were pointing their fingers at her as " that German woman." Ladies of 
the Court, the Empress had been informed, were already criticizing 
her for her work in the hospital. They declared that it was beneath 
the dignity of a Czarina to cleanse the wounds of a simple mushik. 
Alexandra Feodorovna clearly perceived that the time was not distant 
when these same ladies would discuss how strange it was for the Russian 
Empress to dress, with false sympathy, the very wounds which the 
Czar's brave soldiers had suffered at the hands of the Czarina's German 
countrymen. Indeed, anti-German sentiment was so strong in the 
capital city that the German name, St. Petersburg, had been changed 
to the Russian Petrograd. 

A half-suppressed sigh floated through the dark bedroom. Now, 
after twenty years of married life, the Czarina felt more alien and 
alone in her husband's country, more outcast than on that day when 
she had crossed the Russian border as " the blonde and happy Alix." 

In this difficult time the ministers of the Czar, his supporters and 
advisers, seemed ill-suited to disperse the doubts of the Czarina or 
profess sympathy for her in her agony. Old Goremykin, who had 
been entrusted with the office of Prime Minister once more, appeared 
all but crushed under the burden of his duties and pessimistic reflections. 
"The Emperor apparently forgot," he remarked, " that the candles 
around my coffin are already lit." Old Count Frederiks, too, was 
rather decrepit by this time. In his senile preoccupation, he once 
attempted to leave through a window, assuming that it was a door. 
Another time he patted the Czar on the shoulder with friendly intimacy 
and asked : " Are you, too, invited to dine with Their Majesties ? " 

Vladimir Suchomlinov, Minister of War, struck the Czarina as even 
less dependable. A man of sixty-six, he was greatly under the influence 
of his wife, who was thirty-two years his junior. She was clever to the 
point of shrewdness, even seeming sinister because of her habitually 
furtive glances. Suchomlinov himself had engendered the Empress's 



THE MAGICAL TRIUMVIRATE 221 

suspicion some years previously, througli an unfortunate incident by 
no means of his own making. During a gala performance, when 
Suchomlinov and his wife had entered their box, the Czar had turned 
to his consort and remarked : " Just look at Suchomlinov's beautiful 
wife." Those few words, carelessly spoken, had sufficed to arouse 
Alexandra Feodorovna 's jealousy. Thereafter every proof of favour 
which the Czar granted his Minister had been suspiciously observed 
by the Czarina. 

The more the Empress considered the various people surrounding 
the Czar in this fateful hour, the deeper appeared the abyss which 
yawned at the very foot of the throne. Doubtless, while Nicholas II 
visited the fronts, leadership of the Government seemed to be slipping 
from his fingers. In nocturnal meditations the Czarina had premonitions 
of imminent disaster. On the wall of her bedroom hung a picture of 
Marie Antoinette, surrounded by her children. This portrait of the 
ill-starred queen looked clown upon Alexandra Feodorovna like a fear- 
inspiring memento mori During those? haunted nights the fog of 
Petrograd conjured up white shadows to knock at her windows. In 
the bleak twilight the Empress imagined these wraiths were her 
unfortunate predecessors on the throne of the Romanovs. Taut and 
breathless with fear the Czarina listened for the relentless step of 
revolution drawing ever nearer. At last, tortured by doubts to the 
the point of desperation, the Empress resolved to assume, besides the 
duties of a mother and hospital nurse, the burdens of Government 
as well. Although the Czar had embarked upon this bloody war without 
consulting her, nevertheless she must strain every effort to bring about 
a happy ending to the conflict. 

Her letters to the Czar became ever more crowded with suggestions 
and warnings. "They must not only love you but they must also 
fear you." "Stop this congress in Moscow. It is worse than the 
Duma." "You are the autocrat and everybody should know it. 
If you give in only once, they will demand so much more of you the 
next time." " When will soup kitchens be organized for the refugees 
and when will Moscow receive fuel ? " " Did you remember to send 
a telegram to old King Peter ?" " Why did you give the Prcobra- 
shensky and Semionovzy regiments to Dshunkovsky ? This is far too 
great an honour in view of his nasty behaviour." 

When the Czar hesitated to accept his consort's advice and wrote 
of his " feeble will," the Czarina replied in some annoyance : " I am 
fighting for my master and for our son." In another letter to him, 
filled with admonitions, she added caustically: "My dear, you are 
much too long-winded / " 

Whenever the Czar returned from the front to Petrograd for a few 
days' rest, the Empress made good use of the chance to entangle him in 
political discussions. If the Czar clung to his viewpoint, Alexandra 
Feodorovna resorted to desperate means to impose her will. She knew 
that she need only become hysterical and the Czar would promptly 
weaken. Many a trip which took the Emperor to the front was 



222 NICHOLAS II 

unconsciously dictated by his desire to liberate himself at least for 
a brief period from the Czarina's imperious demands. 

With the Czar's journeys becoming more frequent, the influence 
of the Czarina on the course of the ship of state became more pro- 
nounced. Her letters to the Czar were more feared by ministers and 
officials than ukases and orders issued by the Czar himself. The longer 
the Czar absented himself from Petrograd the more eager became the 
politicians to discover a direct approach to the well-spring of omnipo- 
tence. Soon they ascertained that the rigid wall behind which the 
Empress hid had only one breach : Madame Vyrubova's little house 
in Czarskojc; Solo. At its entrance like the Archangel Michael at the 
gate to paradise, and just as gigantic and mighty stood Staretz 
Rasputin. Few surmised that Rasputin's power, since his recent 
return from Siberia, was limited to the little house of the Empress's 
former lady-in-waiting. Despite the fact that Alexandra Feodorovna 
frequently was too busy now to receive the saintly man, her devotion 
for the saviour of her son had remained unchanged. The peasant's 
utterances were one of various sources through which the Empress 
endeavoured to fathom the genuine needs of her people. Through tho 
willing offices of Madame Vyrubova, the Czarina was informed of 
Rasputin's opinions on questions of politics, economics, and strategy. 
With trembling hand the Empress repeated the mushik's confused 
words in her letters to her husband. 

Since the Staretz actually had brought succour to a number of 
unfortunates by securing imperial favours for them, his person was 
surrounded by a halo of pseudo-omnipotence. His modest quarters 
presently came to resemble a regular Court, and while the Czarina was 
convinced that she had frwnd in Rasputin an intercessor between 
herself and God, politicians and financiers were only too ready to recog- 
nize in this strange man a willing agent. Political soldiers of fortune, 
schemers, and war profiteers congregated in the small apartment in 
64 Gorochovaja Street where Rasputin resided. Ministers and bankers 
did their utmost to fish in the troubled waters of Rasputin's influence 
for titles and offices, imperial favours and monetary gains, unaware 
that meetings of the Staretz with Their Majesties were few and far 
between. Because the Emperor was certain, during the first months of 
the war, that God's blessings were with him, he felt no need of 
Rasputin's intercession. As in the case of the Czarevitch's accident 
in Spala, a tragic interlude was necessary to impress Their Imperial 
Majesties, once more, with Rasputin's magic powers. 

At five o'clock in the afternoon of the 2nd of January, 1915, a train 
was derailed between Czarskoje Selo and Petrograd. Madame Vyrubova 
rode in a first-class compartment, directly behind the locomotive. 
Her coach was telescoped ; only after hours of work was it possible to 
extract from the debris the horribly maimed body of the Empress's 
friend. A physician, examining her, refused to take the much-hated 
woman to a hospital. " You will die soon anyway, so it is senseless 
to take you away from here," he informed her brutally. 



THE MAGICAL TRIUMVIRATE 223 

Nevertheless, at the special order of the Czarina, Madame Vyrubova 
was removed to Czarskoje Selo Hospital. There, Princess Hedroitz, 
physican in charge, al.so declared that the critically injured woman 
could live but a few hours at most. Czar and Czarina promptly rushed 
to Madame Vyrabova's bedside. In the presence of Their Majesties 
a priest performed the last rites, the Emperor blessed her, and the 
exhausted woman lapsed into a coma which the physicians predicted 
would bring death by the 1 morrow. 

Meanwhile, Countess Mathilde Wittc's honvy black limousine raced 
along the highway from Petrograd to Czarskoje Selo. Prince Andron- 
ikov was inside ; next to him, silent and immersed in thought, occasion- 
ally darting w T ild glances, sat Starctz Rasputin. The Prince, who had 
informed the peasant of Madame Vyrubova's accident and imminent 
death, shivered involuntarily. He had the feeling that he was 
sitting beside a lifeless body. J t seemed to him as if the Starctz's spirit, 
in some miraculous fashion, was communing with supernatural powers. 
Suddenly Rasputin twitched. Ignoring the Prince completely he 
brought his fist down upon his knee and shouted : " She lives ! Drive 
faster, much faster ! " 

Brakes screeching, the car halted before the hospital. Rasputin 
raced up the stairs. With his heavy musJiik hand he tore the door 
open and stumbled toward Madame Vyrubova's bedside. Czar and 
Czarina, taken unawares, were startled. The pale Staretz, his eyes 
gleaming, his hands spread wide, resembled a spectre. Rasputin's 
claw grasped the stricken woman's hand as in a vice. He bent over 
her, uttering no sound. Suddenly a convulsed twitching animated 
the bloodless face. 

Timidly, affectionately, the Staretz caressed the twitching face. 
" Do you hear me, Annushka ? Look at me, Annushka," he repeated 
softly, time and again. 

Presently, as if obeying an inner urge, Madame Vyrubova raised her 
eyelids slowly. Her vacant glance met Rasputin's compelling gaze. 
It seemed as if the Staretz were leading the dying woman across an 
invisible bridge, back to life. The blood slowly returned to Madame 
Vyrubova's face. 

" You are going to live, Annushka," Rasputin assured her, drawing 
DUt his vowels in the Siberian manner. " True, you will be a cripple. 
Nothing can be done about that. But you will live, Annushka. And 
now sleep, sleep ! " 

He released Madame Vyrubova's hand and staggered into the 
adjacent room. There, completely exhausted from his enormous 
exertion, Rasputin crumbled to the floor unconscious. 

Czar and Czarina crossed each other, stirred to the very depths of 
their souls. In the sombre surrounding of a hospital room, they had 
been permitted to observe a genuine miracle ! No doubt but that God 
Almighty was using this simple peasant from Siberia to dispense 
:elestial blessings. . . . 

Rasputin's prophecy proved correct. Madame Vyrubova's pains 



224 NICHOLAS II 

subsided ; soon afterwards she was taken to her little house. And 
although she remained a cripple she could move about on crutches. 

During the long months of convalescence, the Czarina often would 
sit at her friend's bedside, considering these visits a holy duty. Those: 
hours were primarily filled with praise for the magic powers of the 
Staretz. Rasputin came to the little house with ever greater frequency, 
time and again meeting Alexandra Fcodorovna at the bedside of the 
convalescing woman. During those months, under the pressure of 
military defeats, the secret power which Rasputin exerted over the 
Czarina in the past was forged anew into a force stronger than ever. 



CHAPTER THIRTY-THKKK 
TTII; MINISTER or THE IMPERIAL son 

OttCE more Rasputin's power was in the asccndcnry. His 
little apartment at 64 Gororhovaja Street overflowed with 
people. Rasputin received as many as four hundred visitors 
a day, among them ministers in office and aspiring to office 
seeking his assistance. Bankers sent him money or called personally, 
armed with valuable presents. Beautiful women grew ecstatic if 
Rasputin deigned to extend his gnarled hands toward them in a 
covetous gesture. Mnshiks, from distant provinces, bowed deeply 
whilst submitting their simple needs to the Stnretz, imploring his inter- 
cession for the peasantry at the throne of the Czar. Madame Vyrubova 
appeared in Kasputin's apartment almost daily ; frequently, the 
Staretz's telephone would ring and a cultured voice from Czarskojc 
Selo would ask to speak to him. 

In addition to these activities, Rasputin carried on a very lively 
correspondence, never tiring of composing those famous illiterate 
missives of such great value to the recipient, although often they were 
so awkwardly worded as to be practically unintelligible. Like a shrewd 
old sorcerer, Rasputin indited these letters often mere slips of paper 
according to the frame of mind of the person addressed. For the 
Czarina he would indulge in mystic symbolism ; for the Czar he affected 
military optimism ; calculated astuteness was Anna Vyrubova's 
share ; categorical brevity for all others. But one and all considered 
these messages of inestimable value. 

Thus, Rasputin, in his incoherent manner, would write to Alexandra 
Feodorovna : "Contemplations of Sermon on the Mount, valuable 
possession. What is Judea's fear as proved by deeds, mental entertain- 
ment. The reason of saints. One should not worry under the protec- 
tion of Grace, but not out of fear and intimidation of our neighbours. 
Regretfully our friend departs for their consolation. Grigori." 

To the Czar : " With all your might escape your heart. The pro- 
.ection of the Mother of God will assist you. The Invisible is helping 
/our entire army, and with his holy omophorion covers the light of 
)bservation, illuminating all our eternal enemies. God is with us and 
>ne fears nobody. . . . Don't let sly technique scare you. God's grace 
s our stronghold. Your word will conquer them all. Your hand is the 
jword for all. Grigori. ' ' 

To Madame Vyrubova : " Joyous and agreeable to talk to somebody. 
Ul are ready to serve their way upward. Pamphlets with all kinds of 
Calumnies into the waste-basket. Grigori." 
No less characteristic are the telegrams addressed to Rasputin : 



226 NICHOLAS II 

"We remember, and arc full of longing. Serious days. We thank, 
believe, and pray. Alexandra/ 1 

41 Elation everywhere and we feel it, too. Have been at the capital. 
Our thanks. We console ourselves with your words. Nicholas." 

And from the Czarina's letter to the Czar : " Here is a whole stack of 
supplications which our friend brought for you. The blessings and 
prayers of our friend will help you. II was a great consolation for me 
that you saw him, and that you will be blessed by him to-night." 

Another time she wrote? : "Anna informed our friend of the con- 
tents of your telegram. He blesses you and he was pleased to hear 
that you are happy. He is a little uneasy, however, because of the 
developments in the meat markets. The dealers arc said to be willing 
to reduce the prices now. He thinks the best way would be for one of 
the ministers to call in a number of the largest wholesalers and explain 
to them the errors of their procedure. That ought to humiliate them. 11 

On one occasion the Czarina warns : "It will be very bad for our 
country if your friend's wishes are not fulfilled. He knows what he is 
saying and he is always so earnest about everything. 11 

In still another letter she informs the Czar : " I am sending you a 
cane which our friend received for you from Mount Athos ! He used 
it for some time himself and now is presenting it to you with his 
blessings. It would be well if you could use it from time to time. 
At any rate, keep the cane close to the one M. Philippe touched ! " 

A note of caution is sounded in the message : " God will take His 
hand off Russia if its ruler permits the man whom He sent to us to be 

persecuted This Man of God is praying for you incessantly, and God 

certainly will not forgive us our weaknesses and our sins if we do not 
defend him." 

Superstition holds sway in the Empress's admonition to Nicholas : 
" Remember to hold his comb in your hand prior to the meeting of the 
Ministers' Council and to comb your hair with it a few times. This 
will make you strong." 

Just as fervently as the Czarina believed in the Staretz's occult 
powers, officials and ministers were firmly convinced of Rasputin's 
political omnipotence. The mere receipt of a slip of paper from him 
was sufficient to transport them into a state of joyous excitement. In 
exchange for his scrawled signature they fulfilled the many favours 
he asked for his supplicants in his abrupt, dictatorial manner. 

Rasputin would write: "Beloved, dearest. Excuse. Help this 
poor bath attendant. Grigori." Or: "Beloved, dearest. Listen to 
him. Grigori." And another time : " He is one of yours. We talk 
piously enough, but it is with our sense that we must convince ourselves 
in all roots and branches. Grigori." 

Rasputin's peasant mind was imbued with genuine compassion for 
" all that labour and arc heavily laden." The repentance of a thieving 
army purveyor, or the glance of an attractive woman, would arouse his 
sympathy. Although he was ready to accept money and presents for 
his services, he never demanded anything nor counted the money that 



THE MINISTER OF THE IMPERIAL SOUL 227 

was given him, but immediately distributed it among the poor. More- 
over, he accorded as much attention to the plea of a little mushik as 
to the entreaties of a big banker. 

On nights of carousal, surrounded by infatuated women and self- 
seeking officials, Rasputin would brag of his influence over the Czar : 
"Papa" and "Mama" were kissing his hands; "Papa" always 
called him " Christ " ; the imperial daughters playfully wrestled with 
him ; and " Mama " swore she would take his part, even if everybody 
else turned against him. In awe and admiration, the guests would fill, 
and everlastingly refill, Rasputin's glass. They stared aghast at this 
mighty man who officially held the lowly rank of a mere " palace lamp- 
lighter," but who, in drunken pride, referred to himself as " the Minister 
of the Imperial Soul." 

Now and then, in the midst of bibulous revels, the Starctz would 
be overcome by ineffable grief over the insanity of the Great War. He 
once complained to a police sleuth : " My soul is very sad. In fact, I 
am so sad that I am growing deaf. For two hours 1 am all right, and 
then again, for five, I am ill." In reply to the query as to what caused 
him such sorrow, ho sighed : ' ' Ah, because, my son . . . because things 
are going badly in this country." 

When Rasputin met the French Ambassador, M. Maurice Palcologue, 
at a reception given by an exalted lady, he unburdened his heavy 
heart to the diplomat. In jerky sentences, gazing about moodily, he 
confided to the Frenchman : ' ' Too many dead, too many wounded, 
too many widowed, too many orphaned. Too many ruins, too many 
tears. Remember all the unfortunates who will never return. And 
each leaving five, six, ten people behind who weep for him. I know 
villages big villages, too 1 where everybody is in mourning. And 
those who return, what do they look like ? Dear Lord ! Crippled, with 
one arm, blind. For fully twenty years Holy Russia will harvest 
nothing but sorrow." 

Rasputin's words and actions flashed through Pctrograd like 
threatening bolts of lightning. Clerics, generals, politicians, and 
savants were stunned at the thought that the Czar, rejecting their 
co-operation openly, permitted himself to become a willing tool in the 
hands of this mushik. In hoarse whispers, rumours were speedily 
circulated that Rasputin was a paid spy of the Central Powers ; that 
the Czarina a German Princess I confided in him military secrets 
which he promptly passed on to enemy agents. The word " treason " 
was ominously attaching itself to Rasputin. 

Even those clerical and reactionary circles which had facilitated 
Rasputin's ascendancy now turned from him in abhorrence. Grand- 
duchess Anastasia and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sasanov openly 
spoke of Rasputin as " the Anti-Christ." The priest Illiodor wrote a 
pamphlet in which he called Rasputin " The Holy Devil." Even the 
very pride of conservatism, Deputy Purishkevitch, addressing the 
Duma, thundered against " dark powers invisibly at work." 

Grey-haired popes and dignified savants whispered into one another's 



228 NICHOLAS II 

ears stories of the sinful burden of heresy which this peasant was 
shouldering. His words were naught save enticements of the Evil 
One. In the salons, society gossiped that Rasputin had made proselytes 
of the entire imperial family and the Government for the ungodly sect 
of the Chlysti. 

Shaking their heads, Petrograd society handed around a pamphlet, 
written by a well-known savant, Hofstadtcr, on the magical and secret 
brotherhood of the Chlysti. Smirks on their faces, deputies and 
Liberals would take special notice of the underscored sentences : ' ' The 
real soul of Chlystism is a mysterious and mystical hypnosis. . . . 
Above all, the Chlysti sect and their rites must be definitely considered 
a systematically organized school of religious hysteria, not dangerous 
for people who are mentally well-balanced, but very much so for hysteri- 
cally inclined women. Members of such religious circles make a 
stupefied impression. They walk around in a dazed state, like semi- 
automatons. Their living soul has been sucked dry by the vampire of 
mysticism. . . . The teachings of the Chlysti are dangerous not only 
because of intemperate excesses, but due to the sinister influence produced 
by their mystical enchantment. There is something about the control 
which a Chlysti staretz exerts upon mentally weak, half-hysterical 
people that, in its incomprehensiblencss, imperiousncss, and destruc- 
tiveness resembles diabolic inspiration." 

From the drunken babbling and behaviour of Rasputin, inquisitive 
burghers became convinced of his adherence to the sinister sect of 
the Chlysti. Whenever Rasputin, in a fit of exultation, indulged in 
one of his wild dances, his guests whether they were soberly criticizing 
him or completely under the spell of their profound faith in him had 
to admit that a dark magician, with unlimited powers, was playing a 
demoniacal game at the very apex of the Empire. 

Within the borders of Holy Russia, one man, unobtrusively, but 
none the less stubbornly, fought Rasputin's sway, and that man was 
Nicholas II. While the other members of the imperial family believed 
in Rasputin's boundless powers, the Czar knew that his own imperial 
omnipotence could effectively limit the Starctz's influence. For 
Nicholas II; Rasputin was merely the Byaantinc stage-setting of his 
European empire. He felt that, through this unbridled native peasant, 
the Russian earth itself was enfolding him, and that the very essence 
of the Russian soul manifested itself in the mushik's gleaming eyes. 
While the Czarina was willing enough to regard the Starctz as a higher 
being, deserving of her worship, Nicholas never forgot, even for a 
moment, that he, as Czar, by the Grace of God, was ruler of all the 
people, holy men, and demons of his realm. Although the monarch 
permitted Rasputin to dry the tears of widows and orphans with his 
illiterate slips of paper, expressing a peasant's conception of justice, 
he fulfilled the Staretz's wishes concerning problems of state only if 
they coincided with his own imperial intentions. Whenever Rasputin's 
suggestions proved contrary to his own ideas, Nicholas, endowed with 
Byzantine cunning, knew how to escape the pressure of the Staretz. 



THE MINISTER OF THE IMPERIAL SOUL 22g 

lie merely employed the same procedure which he had observed for 
two decades in his relations with his ministers and advisers. He 
resorted to this stratagem in 1915, when against Rasputin's will and 
that of the Czarina lie appointed the Moscovite theologist, Samarin, 
administrator of the Holy Synod. The Czar simply left for General 
Headquarters and no impassioned pleas on the part of the Czarina, no 
dire warnings from Rasputin, could change his mind. " I am suffering 
excruciatingly," the Czarina wrote to her husband. " For fully twenty 
years we shared everything. Now important developments are taking 
place and I know neither your thoughts nor your plans. How this 
hurts me ! ... Oh, dearest, I am more than sad about Samarin, I am 
desperate. . . . Grigori, too, is desperate, and he beseeches me to look for 
someone more suitable than a member of that Moscow clique." 

In answer to this letter, the Czar wrote : " How shall I thank you 
for your two lovely letters and the lilies you sent me ? I thrust my 
nose deep into them and kiss them in the hope that I am touching the 
flowers your dear lips have touched. I keep them on my desk day and 
night." 

The Czar knew how to enforce his imperial will against the inushik, 
especially when it came to personal questions. In the autumn of 
ic)i5 Rasputin went to Moscow to pray over the bones of Holy 
Ifermogcn. Tn the evening he visited the restaurant " Jar," became 
intoxicated, and sought to make overtures to various women in the 
place. When one of the ladies repulsed him, the Starctz shouted in 
senseless fury : " Oh, I am not good enough for you ? Let me tell you, 
I have had far better women than you. Look at the shirt I wear on 
my body. The Czarina herself embroidered it for me with her own 
hands. It seems I am good enough for the Czarina, but not for you ! 
. . . Well, I'll show you ! " And in drunken frenzy he tore off his 
clothes and completely nude began to dance to the chant of old 
songs of the Church. A flashlight picture was taken of this scene, the 
whole scandal spread on the police records, and eventually Minister 
Dshunkovsky reported the incident to the Czar. 

The Czarina swore the pious Staretz had been impersonated by a 
double, and wrote to the Czar : " Dshunkovsky hates Grigori. . . . 
Summon Dshunkovsky and command him to destroy the police record 
and the picture. Warn him not to talk about Grigori, and tell him that 
if he continues to gossip about him he is acting like a traitor and not 
like a loyal subject." But it was Rasputin, and not Dshunkovsky, 
whom Nicholas summoned. 

" Rasputin never forgot that audience," writes Pravdin in his work 
on the Russian Revolution. " Many months later, after he basked in 
imperial favour once more, the Staretz remarked, in wonderment, to 
Minister Beletzky : ' I never saw him that way/ It seems the Czar 
received Rasputin standing at his desk, one hand resting on top of it. 
Rasputin rushed to greet the monarch, but the Czar would not extend 
his hand. When Rasputin tried to embrace him, as was his wont, the 
Czar retreated a step. Suddenly the Staretz felt he had lost all his 



230 NICHOLAS II 

importance and power. He stood before his ruler, a lowly, stupid 
mushik. 

" ' What did you do in Moscow ? ' the Czar asked him and gazed 
sternly into the light blue, unsteady eyes of the Staretz, darting hither 
and yon, like those of any ordinary, cowardly creature. The monarch's 
glance measured the uncouth, robust figure of the peasant, the silk 
shirt embroidered by dear, beloved hands. Beholding this clumsy, 
unkempt lout and thinking of his Alix proved unbearable to Nicholas. 
He uttered just one word : ' Out ! ' The word was not Spoken in a 
loud or even in an excited voice, but, afterwards, Rasputin never could 
recall how he had left the Czar's study and how he had found his way 
through the lanes of the park to Madame Vyrubova's little house." 

Some obscure feeling, however, prevented the Czar from cutting 
himself off from Rasputin completely. Because Rasputin was part of 
the imperial private life especially that part which was attracting 
exaggerated attention the Czar felt constrained to shield the Staretz. 
The more granddukes and dignitaries warned the Czar, the more 
imperial pride resisted them, because Nicholas IT well knew the limits 
of Rasputin's power. Moreover, in the monarch's eyes, those of his 
subjects who criticized his private life were nothing but rebels against 
God arid Czar. 



CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR 

CZAK AND AKMY 

WHILE Nicholas 11 drew upon all the experience of a 
twenty-year reign to maintain a balance of peace within 
his own family and within the country in general, the situa- 
tion at the fronts assumed an ever graver aspect. True, 
the German advance on Paris had been halted by the Russian march 
on Kouigsberg. But in the Battle of Tannenberg the Imperial Guard 
had been wiped out. The same proud regiments of the Preobrashcrisky 
and Semionovzy that, in 1905, had supported the throne against the 
revolutionaries, had been annihilated on the soil of East Prussia. 
Small wonder that, in the third year of the Great War, when the workers 
of Pctrograd erected barricades in the capital, there were no loyal 
troops left to save the throne. 

After initial successes the host of the Czar retreated from East 
Prussia and Galicia. No change of ministers, no law or ukase, could 
cope with the harrowing lack of ammunition and means of transporta- 
tion. Sporadic unrest assailed different parts of the country. In 
Moscow the mobs plundered stores, stoned German-born grand- 
duchesses and demanded that Rasputin be hanged. And while the 
army needed 45,000 shells daily, only 13,000 were available. Even as 
Granddukc Nicliolai Nicholaievitch, sorely beset by the advancing 
enemy, demanded that the territorials be called to the colours, Duma 
deputies clamoured for a responsible ministry. 

The political clubs of the capital buzzed with rumours according 
to which the Czar completely under the spell of Rasputin's magic- 
stood ready to violate his holy oath and conclude a separate peace. 
This gossip affected the Czar far more than the most terrible defeats 
of his armies. Innate Romanov obstinacy and piety rejected, with 
every fibre, the mere thought of besmirching the glory of a century-old 
name by a broken oath. Whenever anyone uttered the word " peace " 
in the Czar's presence, his face assumed a stern expression and he 
declared : " Peace means loss of honour and revolution. Who dares 
propose such things to me ? " 

In December, 1915, old Court Minister Frederiks, obviously excited, 
came to call on the Czar. He had just received a letter from his friend, 
Count Eulenburg, the then Master of Ceremonies of the German Kaiser. 
The letter, it appeared, contained an offer of peace. The Czar com- 
manded Frederiks to read the letter to him. However, when the 
venerable courtier began to read in German, the Czar interrupted 
him: "Translate it into Russian. I no longer know German!" 
And when the disturbed Count came across a reference to the old 

231 



232 NICHOLAS II 

friendship between the Russian and German dynasties, the Czar 
snatched the letter from his hand and wrote on the margin : " This 
friendship is dead and buried." 

Hecatombs of corpses covered the battlefields of Galicia and Poland. 
The march of the legions, about to be sacrificed on the altar of Moloch, 
was not unlike the spectral dance of the snowflakes outside the windows 
of the imperial palace. The white blanket descended upon the entire 
Russian realm like a celestial pall. 

The enthusiasm that had imbued the Czar during the first months of 
the war had disappeared. Just as then he had yearned to take over 
the supreme command of his armies he now felt that to assume this 
leadership would constitute but one more sacrifice at the throne of 
God. However, as Job, his patron saint, had given up wife and 
children, so he, too, was prepared to sacrifice himself and his crown to 
the Eternal Judge in order to save his people. 

With Warsaw lost, the German armies taking possession of the 
Polish fortresses, and Austrian troops triumphantly re-entering 
hemberg, the Czar said to his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sasanov : 
" Perhaps a redeeming sacrifice is necessary to save Russia. I myself 
shall be this sacrifice. God's will be done ! " He was very pale when 
he spoke these words, but his voice was calm and full of humility. 

The Czar spent many hours before the holy icons in the subter- 
ranean crypt of Czarskoje Selo. At last his sacrificial mission was 
revealed to him in a dream-like vision : As the defeats of his armies 
were his own defeats, so the blessings of God, resting upon the crown 
of the Autocrat, would be the blessings of the army as well ! Czar 
and army must become one, thus throwing their combined strength 
onto the scale of celestial decision over victory or defeat. 

When, after hours of meditation, the pale forehead of the Czar 
touched the cold marble floor of the chapel, he had resolved to assume 
the burden and responsibility of a Commander-in-Chief in this difficult 
hour. 

Czarina and Rasputin immediately approved of the Czar's decision. 
For many months the Czarina had suspiciously watched the growing 
influence of the Generalissimo, Granddukc Nicholai Nicholaievitch. 
In interminable talks and long letters the Czarina had never tired of 
warning her consort against his mighty uncle. And Rasputin had been 
filled with savage hatred against his one-time protector ever since the 
Granddukc had peremptorily refused him permission to visit the 
fronts. Rasputin now saw in the man who once had befriended him 
a dangerous enemy who could easily drive him out of the peasant's 
paradise he had created for himself. The very thought of the General- 
issimo's dismissal filled his vengeful heart with glee. 

Among the members of the imperial house, however, the Czar's 
resolution to assume active command occasioned fear and bewilder- 
ment. Here was a little colonel, scarcely competent enough to command 
a regiment, who suddenly wanted to lead an army of ten million 
in complicated warfare. The Empress-Mother cried when she heard of 




!< \SIMTIN, Till-: MONK \\IIO "Kl I.I.I)' \<\ hSI \ 



CZAR AND ARMY 233 

her son's decision, hut neither her entreaties nor her warnings could 
induce the Czar to change his mind. Granddukc Alexander, too, 
sought to reason with his imperial cousin. The Czar suffered the long, 
lugubrious speech of the Grandduke and answered softly, as one 
preoccupied : " Every tiling is in the hands of God. Remember 
I was born on the i8th of May the day of the patient sufferer Job. 
I am ready to accept my destiny." 

When Rodsianko, President of the Duma, asked for an audience, 
the C/ar received him with icy formality. " Your Majesty," Rodsianko 
advised unctuously, " you are thi* symbol and flag around whom the 
peoples of Russia rally. Therefore, Your Majesty must not permit 
even the slightest possibility of some shadow to fall upon this holy 
Hag. Moreover, Your Majesty, the general situation will become even 
graver if the army is robbed of a leader who enjoys full confidence." 

The Czar's eyes flashed as he retorted : " It seems, I fail to arouse 
similar confidence." So saying, he turned away. 

Meanwhile the Ministers' Council was in session. The excitement 
among its members was truly terrific. Shaking their fists threateningly, 
they crowded around old Gorcmykin and demanded that either he 
submit the resignation of the entire Government to the Czar, or else 
that he lind some ways and means to prevent a little colonel from 
assuming supreme command of the armies. Goremykin waved a tired 
hand. In a lifeless voice he tried to explain to the ministers that 
he was no revolutionary and that, to him, the will of the Czar was 
something holy. To his mind the ministers were bent upon emulating 
the Socialists, and if they insisted upon this course they simply 
would have to do without him. At any rate, the candles around his 
coffin had been lit for some time now. . . . 

Incensed and shaken to the core, the majority of the ministers 
addressed a letter to the Czar. " Your Majesty," the memorial read, 
" once more we make so bold as to inform you that your decision is 
pregnant with dire possibilities, both in regard to yourself and your 
dynasty. . . . Under these circumstances, we are losing faith in the 
assumption that we can serve you and our country successfully." 

In answer to this memorial, the Czar left Petrograd to assume 
supreme command over his gigantic army. 

Surprisingly enough no sooner did the rays of the imperial crown 
shine upon General Headquarters, than the grace of the Almighty 
seemed to descend upon the sorely pressed army. The very day the 
Czar took over the supreme command, his army drove back the enemy 
at Tarnopol. The Russians even succeeded in preventing a dangerous 
Gorman onslaught near Vilna. Doubtless God's blessing was upon 
the new Commander-in-Chief . 

Surrounded by his army of ten million, the Czar decided to give the 
rebellious ministers his imperial answer. A telegram summoned them 
to General Headquarters at Mogilev. Wading through the mire, the 
ministers had to proceed on foot to the house of the governor where the 
Czar resided. They waited long until finally, not the pale, polite, 



234 NICHOLAS II 

over embarrassed little colonel appeared before them, but the wrathful 
heir of Peter the Great. 

The Czar's words sounded like the thunder of cannon. " I really 
cannot understand how you could have the audacity to address such 
a letter to me. ... I tore up your collective supplication for resigna- 
tion. This certainly is no time for childish nonsense of this kind ! " 

When the ministers timidly spoke of prevailing public opinion 
the Czar shouted impatiently : " Gentlemen, you view all this much 
too seriously. It must be the result of the poisoned air of Pctrograd. 
In fact, this subversive propaganda reaches as far as Czarskoje Selo, 
fully twenty-two vcrsts away. And it is iny belief, gentlemen, thai 
the worst rumours do not originate in the workers' quarters, but in the 
very salons in which you move ! " 

Completely confounded the ministers left the room. Never before 
had the Czar addressed them in that fashion. 

Through a small door, a slant-eyed old man with a wise and solemn 
face, gold spectacles, and polished manners, entered the Czar's study. 
He was General Alexeijev, Chief of the General Staff. His report had 
been interrupted by the appearance of the ministers. Now he and the 
Czar bent over maps, the General attempting to explain to the Colonel 
the intricate moves of the campaign. But Nicholas stared, wide-eyed, 
into distance. His pale lips moved imperceptibly and even the General 
beside him did not catcli the whispered words : " Lord, everything, 
yea, everything be upon my head ! " 



CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE 

TIIK SHOT AGAINST RUSSIA 

CONDITIONS in Petrograxl grew worse from day to clay. A 
veritable deluge of strikes submerged the whole of Russia. 
While the loyal regiments of the Guard spilled their life's 
blood on the battlefields, 170,000 reservists lingered in the 
barracks of Pctrogracl, playing cards, drinking, singing revolutionary 
songs and picking quarrels with the police. 

When the Czar dismissed old Gorcmykin and made Protopopov 
Minister of Interior, the indignation of the Duma reached the boiling- 
point. In a stormy meeting, Miljukov made his famous address which 
culminated in the sentence : ' ' What is all this stupidity or betrayal ? ' ' 
The majority party of the Duma, consisting of the progressive block, 
passed a resolution which read : " Treason is rife in the ranks of the 
Russian Government. This sentiment is rampant all over the country 
and because of it the Duma categorically declines to discuss laws 
proposed by the present Government/ 1 

Meanwhile the power of the Czarina and the influence of Rasputin 
increased immeasurably. In the absence of the Czar, Alexandra 
Feodorovna felt she alone embodied the authority of the realm. She 
received ministers, rendered advice as if it were a command, and con- 
ferred with Rasputin continually. Hitherto the Staretz's influence 
had been a factor only in the award of governmental purchase orders 
and in the grant of ecclesiastical dignities and pardons for prisoners ; 
now, however, Rasputin took it upon himself to recommend ministers, 
dismiss governors and assume, more and more, a dominant position 
in the political world. 

The reports of the imperial okhrana during those days clearly 
reflected the unrest and chaos everywhere. " The sentiment in 
Petrograd," read one of the reports of this secret league for the protec- 
tion of the Czar, ''is of an extraordinary restless character. . . . 
Everybody seems to be awaiting some important development. 
Rebellions even a palace revolt are expected in all seriousness. 
In fact, it is said that preparations for the latter have already been 
made, and that the signal for its outbreak will be a terroristic act 
directed against a well-known staretz." 

Another report read : " It is very probable that there will be unrest 
among the students in the near future ; that the workers will join in 
these demonstrations ; and that all these manifestations will culminate 
in an act of terror, directed against the Minister of Interior, since he is 
considered the man who is more to blame for the misfortunes of the 
country than anybody else. The most dangerous political speeches, 



236 NICHOLAS II 

even daring to touch upon the sainted person of His Mujcsiy, arc heanl 
everywhere." 

Toward the end of 1916 these warnings were joined by the alarmed 
voices of the imperial family. "Dear Niki," Grandduke George 
wrote to the Czar, " if you do not form a new Government, responsible 
to the Duma, within the next two weeks, all of us are lost." 

Even the mightiest in the house of Romanov, the recently dismissed 
Nicholai Nicholaicvitch, deemed it necessary to inform the Czar of his 
disapproval, and wrote : "As long as the circumstances under which 
you chose your ministers were known only to a small circle, the state of 
affairs was tolerable. But now, when your methods have become 
publicly known to all strata of society, it appears impossible to rule 
Russia in this way any longer. You have repeatedly told me that you 
cannot believe anybody and that people lie to you. If this is so, your 
statement must also apply to Alexandra Feodorovna who loves 
you dearly, but because of nefarious, impenetrable deceit all about 
her is labouring under grievous misapprehensions. ... If you are 
unable to keep undesirable influences from her you should at least free 
yourself of this incessant interference, and of suggestions which reach 
you by way of your beloved wife." 

When the Czar did not even reply to the warnings of the granclclukes, 
when he did not dismiss the ministers or threaten to dissolve the 
Duma ; when rumours of treason on the part of Rasputin and the 
Czarina spread farther and farther, aristocratic Russia dispatched to 
the palace of the Czar an avenger who was to free the crown of Russian 
autocracy from the blot of peasant interference. The name of this 
avenger was Prince Felix Felixovitch Yussupov, Count Sumarokov 
Elston. Son-in-law of Grandduke Alexander and husband of a niece 
of the Czar, he was the wealthiest, handsomest, and most elegant among 
the nobles of the realm. 

The young Prince looked upon Rasputin as the root of all evil. 
Together with his friend, Grandduke Demetrius, and Duma Deputy 
Purishkevitch, he evolved a plan to slay the Staretz. 

With infinite cunning Yussupov set forth to win Rasputin's friend- 
ship. During long, rambling talks, he endeavoured to probe the soul 
of his enemy. Eventually, from all these conversations, Yussupov 
recognized the picture of a tremendous conspiracy, directed against 
Russia and centring around Rasputin. While the peasant spluttered 
alcoholic effusions, Yussupov incessantly pondered over his plan to 
rid the Empire of this monster. The Prince recognized in this unkempt 
mushik the most dangerous weapon in the hands of Russia's adversaries. 

14 Those people in the Duma will not go on talking much longer," 
Rasputin once confided to Yussupov. " I will simply chase the 
deputies away or I shall send them all to the front. . . . The Czar, oh, 
yes, he is a man of God ! But what kind of ruler is he ? He had better 
play with the children or give his attention to flowers or some such 
pastime. He should not rule an empire. Everything is so difficult 
for Mm. Well God willing we shall help him a little." 



THE SHOT AGAINST RUSSIA 237 

"Tell me, what is thai medicine you give the Czar and the 
Czarevitch ? " the: Prince asked on another occasion. 

"Different medicines, my dear friend, different ones," Rasputin 
answered. " To the Czar I dispense a tea, and this tea fills his whole 
body with celestial well-being. Oh. he feels so good, so fine 1 He 
forgets all his worries. You see, he has much on his conscience for 
which he ought to pray. The war alone, aye, his entire life would not 
be enough to gain him absolution." 

The more Rasputin spoke, the stronger grew the Prince's antipathy. 
Assisted by fellow conspirators, Yussupov eventually succeeded in 
enticing the Staretz, by some subterfuge, to call on him at his palace 
one night. In a room in the basement, comfortably furnished, he 
played host to his victim. 

The slaying of the Staretz has been described by the Prince himself. 
" I offered him a plate of poisoned cakes. ' J don't want any,' he said, 
1 they are too sweet. 1 Presently, however, lie took one, and then 
another. I was aghast as I watched him bolt them down, one after 
another. The potassium cyanide should have shown results immedi- 
ately. But, to my unbounded amazement, Rasputin continued the 
conversation as if nothing had happened. . . . 

" Then I gave him some Madeira wine, containing the poison, and 
watched his every movement in the expectation that it would be all 
over immediately. He drank it in little gulps. His face did not 
change. Only now and then he brought his hand to his throat as if 
it were hard for him to swallow. In answer to my question whether he 
felt ill, he answered : ' Oh, it's nothing, just a slight tickling in the 
throat.' A few agonizing moments passed. ' Good Madeira, fill up 
once more/ Rasputin bade me, and handed his glass over. . . . 

"We sat opposite one another and drank silently. There was a 
cunning look in his eyes as if he meant to say : ' Sec, no matter how 
hard you try, you cannot do anything to me.' Suddenly his facial 
expression changed completely, sheer hatred replacing the sly smile 
on his face. Never before had he looked so fear-inspiring. He regarded 
me with the eyes of a devil. At that moment I detested him beyond 
endurance and wanted to jump at his throat and strangle him. The 
room was ominously quiet. An invisible battle was being fought 
between us. I grew dizzy. It was terrible. . . . 

" ' Sing something gay for me,' he asked. ' I like to listen to your 
singing.' I took the guitar and sang. ' Sing some more. I love to 
listen. You sing with so much soul,' asserted Rasputin. 

" Suddenly an idea flashed through my brain. Crying : ' Grigori 
Efimovitch, look upon this cross and pray ! ' I shot him. Rasputin 
roared in a deep, bestial voice, then crashed to the bearskin that covered 
the floor. He lay on his back, his face twitching, his eyes closed. After 
a few minutes he was inert. I examined the wound. The bullet had 
pierced the heart region. He must be dead ! 

"... We went to my study and discussed the future of our country, 
now for ever liberated from an evil spirit. Suddenly, while we were 



238 NICHOLAS II 

talking, an uncanny restlessness came over me. I felt the urge to go 
downstairs, into the dining-room where Rasputin's body lay. It was 
motionless as I bent over and felt the pulse. The heart was still, but 
suddenly the left eyelid began to flicker and the face twitched con- 
vulsively. He opened his left eye, and then the right. Rasputin's 
both eyes were upon me, exuding diabolical hatred. I was startled and 
mute with horror. Then something monstrous happened. With a 
powerful jerk, Rasputin leapt to his feet. Foam issued from his mouth. 
It was horrible ! The room resounded with his wild roaring. I saw him 
reach out for me with his claw-like fingers. They caught hold of my 
shoulders like red-hot vices. His unsteady gaze fastened upon me. In a 
hoarse whisper he repeated my name over and over. . . . 

"Something in that poisoned, bullet-drilled body had been resur- 
rected by the strength of evil powers to avenge him. It was so terrible 
that even now I can think of it only with inexpressible horror. 1 
tore myself loose from his grasp with an enormous effort. Rasputin 
fell on his back, gasping. I looked at him. He lay in an inert heap. 
Suddenly he moved again. I rushed out of the room. ' Quick, quick, a 
revolver. Shoot him. He is still alive ! ' I shouted. . . . 

"... Rasputin, on all fours, gasping and howling like a wounded 
animal, dragged himself upstairs. He bounded forward in a last leap, 
and reached the secret door leading to the courtyard. . . . Purishkevitch 
rushed after him. In quick succession, two shots sounded, then a third 

and fourth. I saw Rasputin stagger and fall in the snow There was 

no sign of life any longer. A gaping wound showed on his left temple, 
inflicted, as 1 was told later, by Purishkevitch's boot. 

"Blood gushed from Rasputin's many wounds. His face was 
disfigured. I wanted to close my eyes and run away so as to forget the 
horrible sight at least for a moment. And yet something inexplicable 
drew me towards the bleeding body with such strength that I could not 
resist it. 1 felt as if my head were bursting. Madness possessed me. 
I jumped upon the body in savage fury, flailing it with a rubber 
truncheon, heedless of where I struck. All divine and human rights 
had disappeared in that moment. In vain the others sought to hold me 
back. When at last they succeeded, I lost consciousness." 

At dawn the murderers took the Staretz to the Neva in the carriage 
of Grandduke Demetrius and lowered him through a hole in the ice. 
When the police recovered the body a few days later, the autopsy 
furnished evidence that Rasputin had been still alive when dropped 
into the icy floods of the Neva. 

Old experienced courtiers, upon advising the Czar of the Staretz's 
death, observed an odd twitching around the corners of his mouth 
which he sought to hide by stroking his moustache. They wondered if, 
possibly, he felt relief at the news. 

At first, when an aide-de-camp had brought the Czar the Czarina's 
telegram, informing him of Rasputin's violent death, the Emperor's 
face had assumed a bored expression. Only after perusal of a long 



THE SHOT AGAINST RUSSIA 239 

letter from the Czarina, setting forth the details of the? revolting murder, 
did the Czar display deep disgust. On the spur of the moment he 
commanded preparations to be made for his return to Petrograd. At 
the same time he telegraphed to the Czarina : " Read your letter only 
now. It left me horror-stricken. I am with you in my prayers and 
thoughts. Shall arrive to-morrow at six. Kisses. Niki. f> 

The Czar instructed the Minister of Interior: "I herewith order 
that all newspaper articles dealing with Rasputin's murder be pro- 
hibited immediately. Pass on 1113 order to Adjutant-General Rusky or 
General Chabalov for immediate attention." 

Alighting from his train at Czarskoje Sdo, the Czar remarked to 
courtiers awaiting him : " 1 am ashamed before the whole of Russia 
that people related to me have stained their fingers with the blood of 
this peasant." 

When the slaying of Rasputin became known in Prtrograd the whole 
city was jubilant. People embraced one another in the streets and 
happy faces were seen everywhere. The Starctz's murderers were 
hailed as national heroes. The nightmare which had oppressed Russia 
seemed to be lifted for ever. 

However, the shot fired by Prince Yussupov struck not only the 
poisoned, dying peasant, but the. imperial family, the throne, and the 
heavy gold of the Romanov crown as well. The shot in the cellar of 
the Yussupov palace destroyed, too, the magical mysticism that 
enveloped the Czar. In the searchlight of merciless publicity directed 
upon the imperial palace, the country beheld an hysterical woman, 
an ailing boy, and a timid, harassed little colonel. Liberal world 
sentiment held that, having been shorn of their purple and cxnoscd to 
the blinding glare of public opinion, Czar and Czarina would have 
to renounce autocratic forms of government and entrust their power 
to men who enjoyed the nation's confidence. 

But nothing of the sort happened. The palace remained shrouded in 
sombre silence. Czar and Czarina secluded themselves from the world 
and nobody could gain their ear. At the same time, like flashes of a 
mighty thunderstorm, the Emperor's fury descended upon the culprits. 
In the spectral reflections of these bolts of lightning the burghers of 
Petrograd observed that, in accordance with the Czar's command, the 
much-acclaimed murderers of Rasputin were sent into exile. Moreover, 
Protopopov, a friend of the Staretz, was given extraordinary power, 
and the session of the Duma was abruptly postponed. Surprised by 
this outbreak of imperial wrath, the people of Petrograd told each 
other, in awestruck whispers, that crazy Protopopov was to assume 
Rasputin's place. Gossip had it that in a gesture of pious ecstasy, he 
had sunk to his knees before the imperial couple and, crossing himself, 
had shouted : "It is not before you ... not before you ! I am bending 
my knee before Christ whom I see standing between you ! " 

Fear, almost amounting to panic, assailed the granddukes, the politi- 
cians, and the ambassadors of allied countries. Revolution seemed 
unavoidable. But imperturbable as always, drifting along with his 



240 NICHOLAS II 

customary equanimity, the Czar refused to take the one step which 
might ward off threatening catastrophe. 

During the last few months of the Empire three distinct warnings 
reached Nicholas II. The first came from Sir George Buchanan, 
Ambassador of Great Britain, an old confidant of the Liberal factions 
of the Duma. When Sir George came to wait on the Czar, the Emperor 
instinctively felt that the Englishman was not acting as a representative 
of King George V, but rather as a delegate of Petrogracl Liberals. 
With studied coolness and formality the Czar received the British 
statesman in his official salon instead of in his informal study. Standing 
in the centre of the room and neglecting to offer his visitor a chair, 
Nicholas listened silently while the ambassador of His Britannic Majesty 
discoursed upon the mistakes of the imperial Government with cold 
objectivity. 

11 Your Majesty," Sir George told the Czar, " need only lift a fingoi 
and your people will fall to their knees before you. It will be so easy 
for Your Majesty to tear down the wall between you and your people 
and to regain their confidence." 

The Czar stiffened. When he spoke, his voice assumed a note of 
icy hauteur and each word sounded like the sharp blow of a hammer : 
11 Is it your opinion, then, that I must win the confidence of my people 
... or that my people must regain my confidence ? " 

The Ambassador of His Britannic Majesty uttered not a single 
syllable. The shiny parquet floor between him and the Czar suddenly 
seemed transformed into a yawning abyss across which the voice of 
century-old autocracy reached him like the thunder of approaching 
doom. 

A few days later the Czar received Rodsianko. In a long report, the 
President of the Duma elucidated the reasons which made a dismissal 
of Rasputinian ministers inevitable. After listening to the report, the 
Czar asked : ''I take it, then, that you all demand Protopopov's 
dismissal ? " 

" Exactly, Your Majesty. Before, I implored you to do this. Now, 
I demand it." 

" What is that, please ? " 

" Your Majesty," Rodsianko's voice sounded solemn, " save yourself. 
We stand on the brink of tremendous events. What Your Majesty and 
the Government are doing now is enraging the people to such an 
extent that anything might happen. Why, every scoundrel is issuing 
orders ! Your Majesty, you have listened to my advice before." 

" When have I ever done that, if you please ? " inquired the Czar 
scornfully. 

" In 1915, when you dismissed Maklakov." 

"Then, I deeply regret it. After all, Maklakov had not lost his 
senses." 

" Naturally not, Your Majesty, since he had none to lose ! " 

Suddenly the Czar laughed aloud, and to Rodsianko it sounded grim 
rather than gay. ' ' Your Majesty," he shouted, distraught, ' ' something 



THE SHOT AGAINST RUSSIA 24! 

must be done ! Do you want to bring about a revolution in the midst 
of a war ? " 

" I am doing," came the monarch's reply in frozen accents, " what 
God commands me to do. 11 

Rodsianko bowed. " I leave Your Majesty in the firm conviction 
that this is my last audience with you. Hardly three weeks will pass 
and the revolution will have swept you away. You will be Czar no 
longer. You shall harvest what you sowed ! " 

As the last words were uttered, the Czar arose from his chair, gazed 
at Rodsianko sadly, and whispered softly, as if to himself : " God's 
will be done 1 " 

Once more, for the very last time, a voice of warning reached the 
Czar's palace. Grandduke Alexander, oldest friend of the imperial 
family, called upon Czar and Czarina. As Alexandra Feodorovna was 
indisposed, he was received in her suite. The Grandduke bent over the 
ailing woman and addressed her quietly but none the less urgently. 
" For twenty-four years I have been your loyal friend, Alix, and I still 
am. It is with a friend's prerogatives that I am trying to make you 
understand the hostility of all strata of the population to your policies. 
You have a family. Why do you not dedicate your time to them, and 
leave the business of state to your husband ? " 

The Czarina flushed and glanced at the Czar. Nicholas smoked on, 
in silence. The Grandduke resumed his argument when suddenly the 
Czarina interrupted him : " What you say is ridiculous. Niki is an 
autocrat 1 How could he ever share his God-given rights with anybody 
else ? " 

" You are mistaken, Alix," Alexander replied. " The Czar ceased 
to be an autocrat on the 3oth of October, 1905. That was the time to 
remember those God-given rights ! " 

The longer the Grandduke spoke the more marked became the 
expression of contempt on the pale, still beautiful face of the Czarina. 
Sensing the futility of his mission, a great fury, born of desperation, 
came over Alexander. He jumped up and his mighty voice veritably 
shook the walls of the palace as he shouted : "I kept my silence for 
thirty months, but now I see that you two are resolved to go down to 
destruction ! Still, you have not the right to take the rest of us with 
you 1 " 

" I refuse to continue this conversation," the Czarina interposed 
haughtily, whereupon the Grandduke departed in disgust. 

All three warnings had been in vain. Ominous silence reigned in 
Czarskoje Selo once again. The Czar prepared to return to the front. 
In anguish the Empress strode up and down the lanes of the park 
alone. 

There was a little mound in a corner of a remote meadow : the 
Staretz's grave. The Czarina passed many hours there, kneeling in 
prayer. On the day the Staretz had been buried, she had put a crucifix 
and a letter into his stiff hands. The letter read : " My dearest martyr, 
Give me your blessings so that they may be with me on the thorny 




242 NICHOLAS II 

path I must still tread down here on earth. Remember us in your holy 
prayers. Alexandra. ' ' 

Her eyes brimming with tears, Alexandra Feodorovna stared at the 
snow-covered mound. From dim distance, out of the fog and the 
clouded sky, a sombre message seemed to reach her. Like the dying 
echo of a macabre melody, the last, dire warning of the Staretz rang 
in her ear : " If we ever should be separated, you will lose your son and 
your crown within half a year." 



CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX 

THE REVOLT OF THE GUANDDUKES 

THE reign of the Romanovs was drawing towards its end. 
Everybody felt it nobody more distinctly than the 
Romanovs themselves. Staretz Rasputin's curse weighed 
heavily upon the dynasty. Even heavier weighed the 
conviction that the Czar, under the spell of his destiny, was plunging 
headlong into an abyss. A few more steps, a few more somnambulant 
gestures, and the yawning, bottomless pit would not only swallow Czar 
and Czarina, but the entire house of Romanov as well. 

Surrounded by a uniformed host of ten millions, the pale Czar 
resided at General Headquarters. His arms clasped about the frail 
body of the ailing Czarevitch at Mogilev an one of his periodical 
visits the Emperor stared into the endlessness of icy Nordic nights. 
Enigmatical stillness enveloped the monarch amidst ten million 
armed mushiks ; taciturn, with dull faces, gnarled hands, tired eyes, 
and scrubby beards, they diffused the scent of the Russian soil. Nicholas 
was aware of this effluvium, sensing in it ten million threads, each 
single one of which bound him to a single mushik. He clearly felt that 
the war, in all its awesomeness, was to be the acid test of his power. 

The Czar spent many days and nights in his private chapel. The 
ruler of the immeasurable realm kneeled before the stern countenance 
of St. Nicholas, the Wonder Worker. Clouds of incense hovered about 
the Byzantine crosses as the Czar's lips fervently formed one word 
" Victory ! " 

Back in Petrograd, in the palaces of the granddukes, in the salons 
of politically-minded ladies, and in the corridors of the Duma, a 
whispered word was repeated again and again. It was an expression 
of desperation, yet it had an undertone of jubilation. The word, 
sounding like an echo to the Czar's fervent prayer, was : " Insanity 1 " 

To be sure, the whispers were so soft as to be scarcely audible. The 
Czar was still surrounded by an atmosphere of omnipotence. Even 
the granddukes the most privileged class in the country who had 
much to lose and who were safe only as long as the throne remained 
unshaken, still appeared transfixed by czarist omnipotence. Dis- 
gruntled, revolt in their hearts, the granddukes nevertheless stood 
stiffly at attention, clicked their heels, and assured the Czar : "At 
your service, Your Majesty ! " However, as soon as they thought 
themselves unobserved they would shake their heads, shrug their 
shoulders and mutter : " Insanity, stupidity, treason ! " 

In the entire dynasty there was only one person who did not indulge 
in all this heel-clicking and did not accept the position of a subject ; 

243 



244 NICHOLAS II 

one person who had sufficient power and authority to engineer a palace 
revolution : That staunch and inflexible old woman, the Empress- 
Mother, Maria Feodorovna. 

Nothing was farther from Empress Maria's mind than to enter into 
an alliance with the Liberal elements. She detested the Duma just 
as she detested politically inclined ladies and revolutionaries ; just as 
she disapproved, too, of the exaggerated air of mysticism adopted by 
Their Majesties and their Court. But, as the Dowager-Empress she 
could, if she wished, instigate a successful rebellion within the family 
circle. Again and again the glances of anxious granddukes and 
worried Conservatives focused, hopefully, on the palace of Maria 
Feodorovna, but to no avail. The Empress-Mother saw and knew 
everything. Although she clearly perceived the pitfall for which the 
Czar was headed, she would not step forward and give the word which 
would usher in rebellion. 

Empress Maria wanted the war to continue and she knew that a 
change of rulers no matter how auspicious would inevitably lead 
to a separate peace. The mere thought of it was more than she could 
bear ! She and her son shared one hope in common : To win the war. 
This fervent desire for victory served as a bridge between mother 
and son. 

A Danish princess by birth, the Empress-Mother was filled with 
unmitigated hatred against the Hohenzollerns who had humiliated her 
native country in 1864. To make matters worse, on the day war 
had been declared she had been sojourning in Germany. The people 
in the streets of Berlin had pelted her carriage with stones and had 
heaped curses and insults upon her. An anointed Czarina of Danish 
birth, she could never forgive these insults. " Anything is better than 
the triumph of the Germans," Empress Maria thought. Therefore, she 
pretended not to understand the expectant, at times almost threatening, 
glances of her friends. " We must fight until we are victorious," she 
declared with her usual frigidity. 

The granddukes, frantic with fear over the fate of the dynasty, 
incessantly sought a way out of the dilemma. They knew that 
somehow or* other the depressing spirit of defeatism had to be sur- 
mounted. Would it, therefore, not be advisable for the granddukes to 
take matters in hand rather than leave the initiative to the Liberal 
intelligentsia ? As affairs grew steadily graver, members of the ruling 
house came to agree upon the efficacy of such a procedure. It was 
precisely this train of thought which had prompted Grandduke 
Demetrius, Prince Yussupov, and Deputy Purishkevitch to lay a trap 
for Rasputin. 

The most important representative of the Romanovs, Nicholai 
Nicholaievitch, was far from Petrograd. He ruled as Stallholder in 
the Caucasus ever since the Czar had relieved him of the supreme 
command. Gigantic of stature, endowed with a bellowing voice, and 
enjoying a reputation of superb horsemanship, he had speedily won the 
hearts of the Caucasians. In elegant cafes in Tiflis, as well as in wild 



THE REVOLT OF THE GRANDDUKES $45 

mountain gorges, the natives spoke of him enthusiastically, inventing 
romantic legends that attested to his great courage, his physical 
strength, and his noble spirit. 

The Grandduke resided in the Stadtholder Palace on Golovinsky 
Street in Tiflis. A vast park protected the large mansion against the 
noises of the city. Through the artistic, wrought-iron gates, crowned 
with the double-headed eagle, the curious caught fleeting glimpses of 
tall Nicholai during his daily walks. As he strode past long rows 
of pine trees, he reminded one of a mighty, untamed beast. Every- 
body in Tiflis just as everybody throughout the Empire guessed that 
the Grandduke, as he dallied in the seclusion of the park, contemplated 
how well the imperial gold crown would rest upon his own iron-grey 
head. 

The burgomaster of Tiflis shared the general opinion that revolution 
was inescapable. As soon as Rasputin had been murdered and the 
entire Liberal populace began to discuss the mode and manner of the 
approaching revolution, the burgomaster, too, decided he would have 
to take a hand in world-political questions. Speedily, he repaired 
to Petrograd to submit to his Liberal friends a proposition which won 
their whole-hearted approval. An expression of epochal importance 
was on the burgomaster's face when, returning to Tiflis, he immediately 
sought an audience with the Grandduke. 

Nicholai Nicholaievitch met him in the privacy of his park. The 
burgomaster bowed deeply : " Imperial Highness," he ventured, 
obviously imbued with the feeling that, at that moment, he was boldly 
stepping into history. " Your Imperial Highness," he reiterated, then 
continued bravely: "With ever-increasing emphasis, voices in the 
capital city and, indeed, throughout the Empire, maintain that the 
present state of government is intolerable. Holy Russia stands at the 
brink of disaster. His Majesty, the Czar, and especially Her Majesty, 
the Czarina, refuse to heed all warnings. Important circles in Petrograd 
have come to the conclusion that only Your Imperial Highness can 
save the situation. Your Imperial Highness, Russia needs you ! Your 
regency better still, your reignwould gain victory for Russia. 
Meanwhile Their Majesties could await the end of the war in Livadia 
Castle." 

Nicholai Nicholaievitch said not one word. Nothing stirred in 
his face. He glanced into the distance, seemingly preoccupied. The 
burgomaster grew uneasy with the passing moments. He perspired 
and gasped. The epochal expression vanished from his face. The 
Grandduke's silence seemed interminable. 

Tall Nicholai's gaze clung to the double-headed eagle, the towering 
trees, and the narrow pebble-strewn lane before him. But what his 
mental eyes really beheld was the Governor's residence in Mogilev 
which housed the General Headquarters. On the wall there, right 
over the big table, hung a calendar, and that calendar showed the date 
*?. r* 11 * 2 ? r 1 ? f Au e* s t. 1915. He himself H.I.H. Grandduke 
Nicholai Nicholaievitch was sitting at the table, Commander-in- 



246 NICHOLAS II 

Chief over an army of ten million. Opposite him stood Minister 
of War Polivanov. 

The Minister had arrived at General Headquarters with a special 
message from the Czar. " Your Imperial Highness," Polivanov had 
said, " I have been entrusted with a very difficult task. His Majesty 
has resolved to take over the supreme command in this desperate hour. 
At the same time His Majesty has appointed Your Imperial Highness 
Stadtholder in the Caucasus and Commander on the Turkish front." 

Minister Polivanov, terrified, lapsed into silence. What would the 
Grandduke do ? Would he shoot him in a sudden outburst of temper ? 
Would he dethrone the Czar, himself assuming supreme power in the 
realm ? Such an act would not be at all impossible in view of the fact 
that the Grandduke was still master over ten million tnushiks. 

The Minister's apprehensions, however, had been for naught because 
the Grandduke smiled ingratiatingly, flexed his long limbs and mur- 
mured : ' ' So, so, at the Caucasian front. I like the idea. I shall make 
short shrift of the Turks. And when may I expect His Majesty to 
arrive here ? " 

The Grandduke had been in the best of humour all day. He had 
joked with the officers of his staff, smilingly issued his last orders, and 
commanded his orderly to lay out, for the morrow, his gala uniform 
with all his decorations. 

Utterly shaken, the grandducal staff had watched this splendid 
display of Romanov poise. But alone in his bedroom, late that night, 
tall Nicholai snatched his cap from its hook and tore it to shreds with 
his mighty hands. What pained the Grandduke was not his dismissal, 
but the reason behind it : One year ago Nicholai Nicholaievitch had 
received a telegram from Petrograd advising him of Rasputin's inten- 
tion to visit the front and bless the Grandduke's troops. The Grand- 
duke's answer had been curt enough: "Just let that scoundrel 
Grigori come here and I shall hang him on the first handy tree." 

Rasputin never forgave that reply. From that moment on the 
Staretz had slunk through the imperial palace, incessantly dinning 
into the Czaj's ears : " Nicholashka wants to be King of Galicia and 
Poland. Perhaps he will want to be czar some day. Beware ! " 
The peasant's words had impressed the Emperor more than all the 
pledges of loyalty from the Grandduke ; it was just this fact that had 
hurt Nicholai far more than his transfer to the Caucasus. 

The day after Minister of War Polivanov had informed the Grand- 
duke of the Czar's decision to assume supreme command, the Grand- 
duke, in full regalia, received his nephew at the railway station. He 
saluted the Czar smartly, laughed loudly, and asked in the friendliest 
fashion : " Well, when do you want me to leave here ? " 

" Why, you can stay a few days longer," the Czar replied smilingly. 
Apparently he was vastly relieved to find his gigantic uncle in such 
an amiable mood. 

The Grandduke remained two more days. He gave a big dinner, 
solemnly handed over his office, and received all generals in a farewell 



THE REVOLT OF THE GRANDDUKES 247 

audience. On the day of departure the Czar and his entourage sur- 
rounded the broadly smiling Grandduke on the platform. Just before 
boarding his special train, Nicholai Nicholaievitch whispered into the 
Czar's ear : " There are a few things I want to tell you, Niki. Come into 
the coach with me. 11 

Czar and Grandduke boarded the train. As soon as they were inside 
the private compartment, Nicholai Nicholaievitch carefully closed 
the door. The Czar stood with his back against the window. He was 
silent, his eyes avoiding his uncle who now stretched himself to his 
full height. Looking down upon this mite of a nephew, he roared with 
all the strength of his lungs : " And you thought I was after your 
crown > You really believed that ? " 

The windows the entire coach itself seemed to rattle. The Czar 
kept silent and glanced aside. Nicholai Nicholaievitch crashed his 
gigantic fist upon the table with the force of a sledgehammer. " Tell 
me with what right you believed that lie ? How could you dare 
believe in a peasant more than in a grandduke ? ' f 

The Czar still uttered no word but looked up at his gigantic uncle 
apprehensively. The generals, standing outside on the platform, 
were so embarrassed that they did not know what to do. The Grand- 
duke stalked out of the compartment without another word and the 
Czar speedily alighted from the coach. Presently the train got under 
way, with the departing Grandduke on the step of his special car 
respectfully saluting his anointed nephew. . . . 

Nicholai Nicholaievitch recalled these incidents while the burgo- 
master of Tiflis stood before him, gasping and perspiring, still awaiting 
the grandducal answer. Those words the Grandduke had shouted at 
the Emperor, on that day of departure, weighed heavier upon him 
now than the holiest oath of fealty. He thoroughly despised his 
nephew. During sleepless nights he racked his brain to find a method 
to humiliate him, showing him how stupid and small he had been to 
believe in a lowly mushik's words. And to prove as much to the 
Czar, the Grandduke regardless of how wrong it might be now 
had to refuse the crown. If he accepted it, neither the frail Czar nor 
that despicable Staretz, but he himself, would be the loser ! The great 
revenge he had been planning imposed a great renunciation. . . . 

The shadows in the park at Tiflis lengthened. Nicholai glanced at 
the burgomaster. That Liberal man had no interest in grandducal 
conceptions of honour, nor could he fully comprehend what obligations 
Romanov blood imposed. Nicholai Nicholaievitch therefore said : 
"I understand the patriotism that actuates you. I myself have 
repeatedly warned His Majesty to beware of destructive influences. 
I cannot do more. The hand of a grandduke cannot be raised against 
the anointed monarch." So saying, Nicholai Nicholaievitch wheeled 
about and strode into the house, leaving the embarrassed burgomaster 
to find his way out as best he could. 

While Nicholai Nicholaievitch continued to saunter along the pebble- 
strewn lanes of the Stadtholder's park in Tiflis, wintry snows enveloped 



248 NICHOLAS II 

Petrograd. The frost formed fantastic designs on the tightly shut 
windows of the palaces, facing the Neva River and the Moika Canal. 
Now and then a motor-car bearing the Romanov escutcheon would 
drive up to one or another of the grandducal residences. Then a frost- 
bitten soldier would stumble from his guard-house, salute stiffly 
and, his breath changing into vapour as he spoke, the man would 
greet the Grandduke in the prescribed manner : " Good health to 
Your Imperial Highness 1 " 

Behind the closed windows of grandducal palaces, members of the 
House of Romanov assembled. Nobody knew what went on there. 
However, rumours in the corridors of the Duma, among the Liberal 
intelligentsia, in salons and clubs persisted that four members of the 
imperial family, at the head of four regiments of the Guard, were 
planning to surround Czarskoje Selo, arrest the Czarina, and take her 
south to the Crimea. 

Even the names of the granddukes were mentioned, three among 
them being the brothers Cyril, Boris, and Andrew Vladimirovitch. 
The " Vladimirovitchi," as they usually were called, made no attempt 
to hide the fact that they thoroughly disapproved of the Czar's policy. 
However, they would not breathe a word about the rumoured con- 
spiracy. The Vladimirovitchi did not talk. They had a German 
mother a princess of Mecklenburg who had trained them in 
discretion as well as discipline. 

The curious intelligentsia therefore decided to approach the fourth 
member mentioned in connection with the grandducal plot. An 
occasion presently oifered itself when one of the youngest members of 
the imperial house arranged a large dinner party in the apartment of 
his dancer-paramour. With Duma deputies, influential bankers, and 
prominent members of the Liberal world surrounding him, the youthful 
Romanov felt as if he were the foremost factor in Russian politics. 
The bankers imbibed freely of champagne, the deputies indulged in 
revolutionary speeches, and one and all regarded the young Grandduke 
more than a little expectantly. The youth never affirmed or denied 
anything, but the glamour of the evening veritably blinded him. There 
they sat, the most prominent men in Russia, encouraging him with their 
glances ! And towards morning the guests actually heard what they 
had come for : in the presence of all the bankers and deputies, a member 
of the imperial family openly agreed with them that, indeed, things 
could not go on like this any longer I 

Later that day, Liberal revolutionaries appeared in their bureaus, 
clubs, and salons with thoughtfully furrowed brows. Each one of 
them was bent upon interpreting the secret, hidden meaning of every 
gesture, smile, or frown of the young Grandduke. After indulging in 
speculations all day long, the intelligentsia finally became convinced 
that they had discovered the hidden meaning behind the young 
Grandduke's significant hints: none other than Grandduke Cyril 
Vladimirovitch had determined to arrest the imperial family and give 
Holy Russia a constitutional government I 




y .v. i. 



PKINCK Yissri'nv. \\iio KM>I-I> J<\SIM TIN'S < \KI-.KK 



THE REVOLT OF THE GRANDDUKES 249 

Those members of the intelligentsia who prided themselves on being 
ivell acquainted with Court chronicles knew precisely why Grandduke 
~yril would assume the role of a Russian Louis Philippe igalitt. Com- 
tnander of the Guard Corps, admiral and third grandduke of the realm 
in line of seniority, Cyril had married against the Czarina's wish in 
1905, when he led to the altar the Duchess Victoria Melitta of Coburg, 
divorced wife of the Czarina's favourite brother. In order to obtain 
the Czar's consent to his marriage the Grandduke had volunteered in 
the Russo-Japanese War. He had been wounded, and thus became the 
Dnly grandduke who actually had shed his blood for Czar and realm. 
Nevertheless, no sooner had he married the beautiful Duchess than 
le was pursued by the Czarina's unmitigated wrath. Forced to leave 
irmy and navy, he lost his right to wear uniform and epaulets, was 
ieprived of appanage and titles, and, finally, was even banished from 
Russia altogether. 

Such harsh treatment of a wounded grandduke, whose sole sin was 
:hat he had fallen in love, had created widespread ill-feeling at the 
:ime. To be sure, a few years before the outbreak of the Great War 
:he punishment meted out to the Grandduke had been rescinded, 
rlowever, Liberal revolutionaries still assumed that the Vladimirovitchi 
Jan had not forgotten the shame once imposed on them, and now 
larboured against the imperial Court the same feelings which once 
mbued the House of Orleans against the House of Bourbon. 
Apparently the hour for the Russian Orleans had struck ! 

Atremble with excitement, the Liberals of Petrograd watched 
jrandducal motor-cars draw up before the mansion of Grandduchess 
tfaria Pavlovna. More and more frequently the Romanovs congre- 
gated in the wide halls of that Neva palace, reminding one another, in 
vhispers, that for fully three hundred years the House of Romanov had 
Tiled over the immense domain, and now this rule was jeopardized 1 
fhrough the frost-embroidered windows of the palace the granddukes 
reheld the Neva metropolis in a mantle of snow. The city appeared 
>minous, gloomy, full of smouldering dangers. The granddukes 
ealized what the capital city expected of them : a troop of Hussars 
>f the Guard, and a fast gallop to Czarskoje Selo, ending in the regency 
)f some of the granddukes. 

Among the Romanovs assembled in Maria Pavloyna's palace was 
Michael, the Czar's brother, who studiously kept to himself. Although 
le ranked next to the Czarevitch in succession to the throne, now that 
L possible coup was discussed something forbade him to speak up. 
if e held his peace when the question was aired as to which of the 
Suard units would be available. " '" ~ 

The whole plan weighed on the souls of the granddi 
nare. They still were ingrained with a feeling of profi . ,. ^ 

Anointed One. The hand of a grandduke would Cowrie paralysed 
it the mere thought of being raised against the Cz 

" But if we don't do it, someone else will," one 
flumly, " and that will mean the end of the rule off 




250 NICHOLAS II 

When day broke, the granddukes had arrived at an agreement. 
Once more they would throw the full weight of their names and titles 
into the scale of imperial decision. It was not difficult to find an excuse 
for such a procedure. The banishment of Demetrius and Felix, two 
members of the ruling house, would suffice. Maria Pavlovna provided 
a white sheet of paper and the granddukes indited their letter. It was 
a plea for mercy for Demetrius and Felix as well as a warning against 
irresponsible rule. This strange document was signed by all the 
Romanovs who were present. 

The Czar's hand trembled as he read the document ; his cigarette 
fell from his hand, unnoticed ; he leaned against the wall, feeling 
the need of support. It indeed was fortunate that he was alone ! 
Right before him, black on white, the shame of his family was 
spread. The granddukes actually pleaded for the murderers of 
Rasputin ! 

" They would not have dared to do that in my father's lifetime," 
thought the Czar, recalling the gigantic figure of Alexander III, his 
stern mien, and his thundering voice. In his father's time, granddukes 
had been banished for the smallest infractions. A love affair, a visit 
to a house of ill repute had been sufficient to bring down upon their 
heads the wrath of Alexander III. ' ' I have always treated them far too 
leniently," Nicholas reflected wearily. His hand reached for a pen. In 
large letters he wrote on the margin of the plea : " I am astonished 
that you thus address yourselves to me. Nobody within the borders 
of my realm has the right to commit murder." Against the names of 
all the granddukes, the Czar's signature stood out like an angry and 
accusing finger. 

Nicholas II never looked deeper into the grandducal dissatisfaction 
and knew nothing of their plot. Nobody dared to hint at such a 
possibility in the Czar's presence. Rasputin might have had the 
courage, but Rasputin was dead now. Deeds of members of the imperial 
family were above public criticism. No Minister of Police was per- 
mitted to report to the Czar infractions committed by members of the 
imperial family ; the Czar alone could judge whether punishment 
should be meted out and now the time for it was at hand ! The plea 
of the granddukes was nothing short of insubordination ! Only then 
the Czar remembered that the best regiments of his Guard were in 
the hands of the granddukes ; he thought, too, of that snow-covered 
road from Petrograd to Czarskoje Selo. They who had pleaded for 
murderers might easily become murderers themselves ! 

Not one member of the imperial family was invited to the imperial 
Court for Christmas, 1916. The usual congratulatory messages and 
presents were omitted this time. The Czar had prepared utterly 
different gifts for granddukes forgetful of their duties. 

Grandduchess Maria Pavlovna and her son Boris were commanded 
to leave for Kislovodsk immediately, " in the interest of their health." 
Grandduke Nicholai Nichaelovitch was ordered to leave for his estate 
while Grandduke Andrew was banished to the Caucasus. Grandduke 



THE REVOLT OF THE GRANDDUKES 25! 

Cyril received the order to start upon a trip of inspection to Murmansk, 
north of the Arctic Circle. 

Even on the very eve of the revolution the words of the Anointed 
One exerted the spell of a mighty sorcerer on the granddukes. Like 
automatons, with no will of their own, they stood at attention, clicked 
their heels, and mechanically affirmed: "At your service, Your 
Imperial Majesty ! " A1J plans of a gallop through the night to 
Czarskoje Selo were forgotten. 

Several weeks later, on the i2th of March, 1917, revolution broke 
out in Pctrograd. When the City Commandant, General Chabalov, 
at his wits' end, found himself facing empty barracks, two companies 
of the Life Guard, flags fluttering, suddenly marched into the mutinous 
city to the sound of martial music. The blue-uniformed units 
lined up on the snow-covered drill-ground. At the head of the Marines 
of the Guard marched Grandduke Cyril himself. As the only one of all 
,the imperial cousins ready to give battle to protect the throne, he had 
rallied the last loyal troops. 

Alas, neither the blaring bands and the trim appearance of two 
companies of the Guard, nor the firm tread of a Romanov could change 
the course of history. One day later the Grandduke led the same units 
in parade to the Duma. Handing over his troops to the new rulers, he 
relinquished his command. 



CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN 

SAVEZ-VOUS ? I/EMPEREUR A ABDIQUE ! 

THE lethargy of Nicholas II at that juncture was not unlike 
that of a consumptive whose spirit has already separated itself 
from the body. God had granted the Czar twenty-four years 
of rule ; doubtless, in His Omnipotence and Mercy, He 
would provide yet another year a year which would definitely decide 
the fate of the Empire. Generals, staffs, and the attaches of the Allied 
Powers unanimously optimistic assured the Czar that the bloody 
war was already won. 

Only old Admiral Nilov everlastingly under thu influence of 
alcohol indulged in dark doubts. The inebriated old salt stumbled 
through General Headquarters, mumbling disconsolately: "The 
revolution is coming. They are going to hang all of us. As for me, it 
hardly matters on which lamp-post they'll string me." 

On Friday, the gib. of March, 1917, the Czar was informed that 
his children had been stricken with measles at Czarskoje Sclo. Simul- 
taneously the first rumours of imminent hunger riots in Petrograd laid 
a breach in the wall of evasive reports which kept the Emperor out of 
touch with realities. The Czar read about the anticipated revolts 
with his usual equanimity. After all, Petrograd represented only an 
infinitesimal dot amidst the immeasurable realm. That day, if the 
Czar actually was a trifle more taciturn than usual at breakfast, it was 
because he worried about his children, and not about an incipient revolt 
in Petrograd. 

During the next few days humming telegraph wires recorded the 
history of the Russian Empire. 

A message from the Czar, addressed to General Chabalov, then 
Military Commander of Petrograd, stated : "I command that unrest 
in my capital city be put to end by to-morrow since it is not in keeping 
with difficult times of war. Nicholas." 

A telegram from Prime Minister Golizyn to the Czar, read : " The 
Ministers' Council is unable to cope with the situation and begs to be 
dismissed. It appears advisable that some person, enjoying general 
confidence, be appointed Prime Minister in order to form a responsible 
ministry." 

At the same time a telegram from Rodsianko, President of the Duma, 
was received at General Headquarters : " Situation serious. Anarchy 
rampant in capital. Government paralysed with military shooting 
at each other. A man enjoying country's confidence must be commis- 
sioned to form a government." 

A day later, Rodsianko again wired to the Czar : " Steps must be 



SAVEZ-VOUS ? L'EMPEREUR A ABDIQU ! 253 

taken immediately as situation is more threatening than ever. To- 
morrow will be too late. The last hour has struck which will decide 
fate of country and dynasty." 

After reading the telegram, the Czar remarked to Court Minister 
Frederiks : " That stout Rodsianko has wired me all kinds of nonsense 
again. I do not believe I shall bother to answer." Thus the Czar 
manifested how inconsequential he considered the rebellion in his 
capital city. To his mind, czarist power rested in the people as a whole. 
What difference, then, could it make if the scum of the nation rioted in 
Petrograd ? After all, the best of the people surrounded the imperial 
headquarters in Mogilev in unswerving fealty. 

Not before the I2th of March did the ominous rumble of the 
revolution reach General Headquarters. Fear reflected in his eyes, 
General Alexeijev brought the Czar the latest news from Petrograd. 
His face a mask of imperial hauteur, Nicholas read of the revolt of the 
Volinsky and Litovsky regiments, of the flight of the ministers, and of 
the general helplessness of the Duma. 

It seemed there was no end to the telegraph tape conveying most 
incredible messages that day. Suddenly, Nicholas II asked : " How is 
it that the rebellion met with such little opposition ? " 

11 Your Majesty, the reason is simply that all reservists and recruits 
were left in the capital city." 

11 Oh, is that it?" 

A brooding silence gripped the room. The General's eye-glasses 
glittered nervously. A short statement, one redeeming word of the 
monarch, and the flags of the mutinous troops would be dipped before 
the ruler in all humility. But that word was never spoken. The 
possibility of granting a constitution was never so much as considered. 

The Czar arose. " I am late," he said, " the attaches await me for 
luncheon." 

" But, Your Majesty, what about a reply to the capital ? " 

" Why, here it is 1 " And from the mountain of telegrams the Czar 
extracted the War Minister's report : " Unrest being suppressed firmly 
and energetically by loyal troops." 

After luncheon, the Czar enjoyed a motor trip. Upon returning to 
headquarters he found a telegram from Czarskoje Selo which read : 
"Give in. Strikes continue. Many troops have joined the revolu- 
tionaries. Alix." 

The Czar straightened his frail figure, a strange light gleaming 
in his eyes. " Well, General," he said, turning to Alexeijev, " what is 
to be done now ? " 

The General, trembling under the smouldering glances of the Czar, 
stammered : " Only one thing seems possible now." Then he lapsed 
into silence and nervously moistened his lips. Suddenly he clicked his 
heels, and, surprised by his boldness, he blurted out : " Your Majesty, 
if troops revolt, there is but one thing to do : Assemble loyal units and 
march on Petrograd." 

" Very well. We will do just that," the Czar decided briefly. 



254 NICHOLAS II 

Gloom hung over the Czar's dinner table. Steeped in sombre 
thought, everybody kept silent. Only one man the Czar's neighbour, 
old General Ivanov spoke. He was a little man with a long, pointed 
beard and shrewd eyes. His chest was covered with a row of rattling 
medals. The blue veins that marked his small hands betrayed his 
advanced years. He stroked his beard and smiled, resembling an evil 
dwarf. 

The situation seemed very simple to old Ivanov. All that was 
necessary was to enter Petrograd at the head of loyal troops. Bands 
blaring, the tramp, tramp, tramp of marching soldiers would re-echo 
along the wooden pavement of Nevsky Prospect. Perhaps a few shots, 
a forceful yet paternal reprimand addressed to the unruly rabble, and 
the entire city would grovel at the Czar's feet. Simple, indeed ! 

The General talked on incessantly, his words conjuring up strange 
and gruesome visions. Yet there was not much this old man could 
gain ; perhaps a word of imperial thanks, or another medal. Then, 
he would retire to his warm fire-place and, amidst his intimate circle 
of friends, drone about the persuasive powers of a little military 
display. 

General Ivanov talked until the clock struck eight. At nine o'clock, 
he was appointed dictator of the capital city. At ten o'clock he wired 
the commandant of Czarskoje Selo : " You are requested to prepare 
quarters for thirteen battalions, sixteen squadrons and four batteries." 

While old General Ivanov, smiling and smug, prepared himself for 
the campaign, the Czar received in audience General Alexeijev, 
Palace Commandant Vojekov, and Count Frederiks. Vojekov implored 
the Czar to return to Petrograd, immediately ; Alexeijev, however, 
was of an entirely different opinion. The Czar kept silent while the 
three men gazed at him expectantly. He could not help remembering 
three other men whose glances had been just as expectant, almost a 
full decade ago, on that gloomy autumn day, the 30th of October, 1905. 
Those three men had forced him to set his signature to a fateful mani- 
festo. The memory of that experience weighed upon the C^ar. He was 
so immersed in thought that he hardly heard Alexeijev's words. 
Behind the General's greenish face ill and feverish from overwork 
Witte's gigantic shadow arose. Nicholas straightened ; he would 
not listen to Alexeijev 1 "I will proceed to the capital city to-morrow. 
I shall make my decisions there," he informed his anxious visitors. 

At five o'clock the next morning March 13th the Czar left Mogilev. 
For the last time the train of the Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias 
sped through the country. At the provincial borders, governors boarded 
the imperial coach, wearing gala uniforms. Police commandments 
saluted the train wherever it halted. Regiments, on their way to the 
front, greeted the imperial train with loud huzzas. Governor-Generals 
stood stiffly at attention and announced : " Beg to report most respect- 
fully to Your Imperial Majesty, that the government of the province 
entrusted to me ..." 

Undisturbed tranquillity apparently prevailed throughout the 



SAVEZ-VOUS ? L'EMPEREUR A ABDIQU ! 255 

country. Arrived in Vjasjma the Czar telegraphed to the Czarina : 
" With you in my thoughts. Hope you will keep calm. Marvellous 
weather. Your loving Niki. ' ' 

In the meantime a veritable deluge of telegrams descended upon the 
imperial desk. Visions of a bloody purge, resulting from General 
Jvanov's measures, caused great trepidation in the revolutionary 
capital. Trembling at the thought of imperial fury, Rodsianko wired 
that, thanks to his exertions, quiet and order had been restored ; that 
the Duma was successfully stemming the chaos ; and was awaiting the 
monarch's immediate decisions. 

Not one word in Rodsianko's telegram was borne out by fact. 
Nevertheless, in the depressed atmosphere of the imperial special 
coach, Rodsijnko's message created the desired result : General 
Ivanov received orders to postpone his march on the capital and a short 
telegram from the Czar made Rodsianko Prime Minister, asking him to 
meet the Czar's train in order to report in detail. 

The Czar spent a sleepless night from the I3th to the I4th of March. 
At three o'clock in the morning his train came to a sudden halt. There 
was a knock at the door and Palace Commandant Vojekov entered : 
" We are in Little Vyshera, Your Majesty," he said, " about 150 kilo- 
metres from Petrograd. The rest of the route is occupied by revolu- 
tionaries. Your Majesty's entourage deems it advisable to take 
another route, perhaps towards Pskov, where Adjutant-General Rusky 
and his staff are quartered. If necessary the General could dispatch 
troops to Petrograd." 

The Czar arose, slipped into his lounging robe, and replied simply : 
" Very well, then, let's go to Pskov." 

At ten o'clock that night the Czar's train arrived in Pskov. His 
feet encased in galoshes, his shoulder stooping under the burden of 
heavy gold epaulets, a bent grey-haired man with a pinched face 
boarded the imperial coach. He was General Rusky, and he reported : 
' ' Revolution in Kronstadt. Strike in Reval. Street fighting in Moscow. 
Anarchy, mutiny, and dissolution everywhere." His voice broke as 
he counselled: "There is no alternative, Your Majesty, but to 
capitulate unconditionally." 

" But what about Rodsianko ? " asked the Czar. 

" He is not coming." 

"Why not? " 

The General shrugged ; he did not pretend to know or understand 
the reason. Nor could the Czar comprehend the meaning of it all. 
How could these two surmise that proud, fat Rodsianko at whose 
request the order for General Ivanov's march on Petrograd had been 
countermanded was himself a prisoner of the Soviets now ? It was 
they who prohibited his departure from the capital. 

Until late into the night General Rusky conversed with the Czar. 
Then he rushed to the telegraph office to inform Rodsianko of the 
monarch's decision : " To save the country, and in the interest of the 
people, I command you to appoint ministers of your own choice 



256 NICHOLAS II 

However, I reserve for myself appointments of ministers of the 
Interior, War, and Navy." 

It was too late ! 

Until break of dawn Rusky communicated with the capital by tele- 
phone and telegraph. In those cold night hours Rusky sacrificed his 
honour as an officer, broke his oath of loyalty, and betrayed his Czar, 
all because of a wild phantom conjured up by Rodsianko. Powerless, 
threatened by the Soviet, deserted by the Duma, Rodsianko pretended 
to be the strong man of the hour. He demanded the Czar's abdication. 
He told Rusky that Gutshkov and Shulgin, as representatives of the 
Duma, already were on their way to receive the document of renuncia- 
tion from the monarch's hand. Rusky did not defend his sovereign 
with one single word. He did not threaten to send regiments to the 
capital to protect the Czar and to squelch the revolution . . . but, 
at dawn, he got in touch with General Headquarters, whereupon 
inquiries as to the availability of loyal troops were dispatched to all 
corps commanders. 

At ten o'clock, on the 15th of March, the replies were received. 
Rusky once more boarded the imperial private coach. Nicholas listened, 
calmly enough, to the General's report. So the capital really was in 
revolt with no loyal garrison left ! Well, then, they simply would take 
a few divisions from the front, march on Petrograd and suppress 
the revolution. 

In reply to the Czar's proposed plan General Rusky placed seven 
telegrams on the desk. Seven dire messages, announcing the already 
accomplished, irrevocable debacle ! The commanders on all seven 
fronts demanded the monarch's abdication. Not one among them was 
willing to lead his troops in protection of the throne. The whole 
army had deserted the Czar ! 

The monarch's face hardened into a mask of stone. " My adjutant- 
generals ..." he stammered. He slumped into his chair. Something 
overpowering seemed to be strangling him. He fingered the telegrams. 
Among them was one by Grandduke Nicholai Nicholaievitch. He read 
his uncle's message once more : " As a loyal subject, I consider it my 
duty to implore Your Majesty, on bended knee, to save Russia for the 
heir to the throne, and to renounce your heritage in his favour. There 
is no other choice. With an especially fervent prayer I beseech God 
to lend you strength and guidance. Adjutant-General Nicholai/ 9 

" My uncle ! " whispered the Czar, his face ashen. He stared out of 
the window, then turned to Rusky and challenged: "And you, 
General ? " 

Rusky bowed his head, his answer was written dearly on his grey, 
drawn face. 

The Czar arose, looked at the General long, and, in a hollow voice, 
dictated : "To the Chairman of the Duma : There is no sacrifice I 
would not bring for the weal of dear Little Mother Russia. That 
being so, I am willing to renounce the throne in favour of my son, 
under the regency of my brother Michael." 




I...V/I. 



THK (X.AW AM' I UK CZAMKVITCH VI C/AKSKJK 



SAVEZ-VOUS ? L'EMPEREUR A ABDIQU ! 257 

Rusky pocketed the memorandum, as yet unsigned, and left. 

Alone, the Czar's mask dissolved, revealing a face distorted by 
anguish. A few weeks before his death, in memory of that moment, 
he was to write into his diary : ' ' I have forgiven all my enemies except 
one. I shall never forgive Adjutant-General Rusky. " 

Presently, scventy-eight-year-old Count Frederiks stumbled down 
the aisles of the train. Opening the door of each compartment, he 
shouted hoarsely : " Savez-vous ? L'Empereur a abdiqu6 ! " 

Half an hour later the Czar's entourage furtively watched the 
monarch as he paced up and down the platform, accompanied by the 
Duke of Leuchtcnberg. At the train windows, old generals wiped their 
eyes. The Czar extended his hand to a few and they kissed it respect- 
fully. Nicholas's face was calm. 

" My God ! How can a man show such fortitude ? After all, he could 
have stayed in his compartment," sobbed General Dubensky. 

At three o'clock in the afternoon the imperial private surgeon, 
Feodorov, was commanded to appear before the Czar. c ' I have resolved 
to abdicate in favour of my son," the monarch stated. " For this 
reason, Professor, I demand to know the whole truth about the 
Czarevitch's health." 

The Professor trembled. " Your Majesty, haemophilia is incurable. 
Although there are cases where a bleeder reaches a considerable age, 
most of them die in their youth. The life of one so afflicted always is 
subject to accidents. I do not think the Czarevitch ever will reach his 
twentieth year." 

The physician compressed his lips. From the strange trembling that 
shook the Czar's shoulders, he knew that he must be crying. But 
Nicholas only said : "Thank you." 

A few minutes later, Rusky received orders to return the memoran- 
dum of the Czar's abdication. 

Gutshkov and Shulgin reached Pskov after nightfall. They 
were ushered into the monarch's presence immediately. Nicholas 
received thpm in his ordinary grey Cherkessian suit. He extended his 
hand and invited them to sit down. Gutshkov spoke at length, but 
never once looked the Czar in the face. Nicholas, meanwhile, appeared 
almost bored. Then, with all the mannerisms of an officer in a crack 
Guard regiment as if aristocratic aloofness was meant to remove a 
personal element from the conversation he said : " Yesterday and 
to-day I have spent every hour thinking over the situation. I have 
resolved to renounce the throne. Until three o'clock this afternoon I 
was ready to abdicate in favour of my son. Later, however, I came to 
the conclusion that I cannot separate myself from him." Nicholas 
paused for a moment, his face as immovable as a mask. Then he 
resumed : "I hope you will understand the feeling which prompts 
me to renounce the throne in favour of my brother Michael.' 1 

The depressing air of a workaday conference pervaded the room. 
It was as if, in this small compartment furnished in the style of the 
Empire, the most ordinary affair in the world was being settled. The 



258 NICHOLAS II 

Czar reached for the memorandum of abdication and, with one stroke 
of the pen, he eliminated the reference to the Czarevitch, leaving only 
the name of his brother Michael. Then he signed the renunciation 
and with his signature the three-hundred-year reign of the Romanovs 
came to an end. 

" Very simple, with no ceremony whatsoever, just as one official 
hands his desk over to another." That is how an eye-witness described 
the epochal scene on the isth of March, 1917. 

In the course of the night Gutshkov remarked to Rusky : " Even 
if we were dealing with an iron character of superhuman self-possession, 
we should have noticed something stirring in the man. But there was 
nothing, absolutely nothing. It seems impossible for a normal human 
being to behave in that fashion. He is simply a man jvho lacks all 
emotion. He abdicated as if he were merely handing over a platoon 
of soldiers." 

Even as Gutshkov expressed his wonderment, Nicholas sat alone in 
his compartment. Bending over his desk, he wrote in his diary : "All 
around me there is nothing but treason, cowardice, and betrayal." 

At one o'clock in the night, the train, bearing the Last of the Czars, 
left Pskov in the direction of Mogilev. The Czar was to say farewell 
to his army. While en route, two telegrams reached him : Two generals 
of the Guard Count Keller and the Khan of Nachitshevan offered 
Nicholas their troops to suppress the revolution. After three hundred 
years of reign the House of Romanov found only two loyal servants 
within the borders of the realm : one of them a Baltic nobleman, the 
other a Trans-Caucasian Tatar. 

The imperial train reached Mogilev at two o'clock in the afternoon 
of the following day. General Alexeijev was on the platform. The 
Czar only half listened to reports from the front. However, when he 
heard that his brother Michael had also abdicated, he seemed startled, 
then shrugged as if it were all beyond understanding. Through a line 
formed by officers of the staff he strode to his automobile, the imperial 
standard still fluttering from its hood. 

The Empress-Mother arrived the next morning ; Nicholas awaited 
her at the station. After greeting the cossacks who accompanied Maria 
Feodorovna, he boarded the train, closing the door of the compartment 
behind him. Two full hours Nicholas spent face to face with the aged 
woman. When Grandduke Alexander finally entered the compart- 
ment the old Empress was sobbing bitterly ; Nicholas, his head bowed, 
stood in the centre of the room, smoking. The Grandduke embraced 
him silently. Of what use were words now ? 

At eleven o'clock the next morning, generals, members of the staff 
and other high officers assembled in the great hall at General Head- 
quarters. "Nicholas," writes an eye-witness, "entered the room 
with an air of remarkable poise, a slight smile playing around the 
corners of his mouth. He thanked the staff, asked everybody to forget 
old grudges, to serve Russia loyally, and to lead the army to victory. 
Then he spoke a few words of farewell, expressing himself in the brief 



SAVEZ-VOUS ? L'EMPEREUR A ABDIQU 1 259 

manner of a military man, careful to avoid all pathos. His modesty 
created a splendid impression on everyone. We broke out into cheering 
that was more fervent than it had been in all the twenty-four years of 
Nicholas's reign. Many cried openly. Somebody stepped out of 
line to beseech the monarch, on bended knee, to reconsider ibis decision. 
Too late ! Russia's autocrat could not take back his word. He bowed, 
and left the room." 

Tears welled in Nicholas's eyes upon his departure from General 
Headquarters. Observing his emotion, the soldiers of the bodyguard 
were, in turn, overcome. They fell to their knees and wept like so 
many helpless children. An old man, his chest covered with medals, 
slumped to the ground, foaming at the mouth and twitching in convul- 
sions. Nicholas turned away from the distressing scene and entered 
his motor-caf . 

Three days later, Nicholas stood on the platform of Mogilev station. 
The train was to take him to Czarskoje Selo. Granddukes Alexander, 
Sergius, and Boris, and army commanders and generals in gala uniform, 
had assembled. They gazed upon their Czar for the last time ; for the 
last time they saluted the old Russia. A few minutes before the train's 
departure, General Alexeijev stepped forward. In the presence of 
the granddukes, under the very eyes of the assembled army com- 
manders, he raised his hand and announced that Colonel Nicholas 
Alexandrovitch Romanov, ex-Emperor and former Commander-in- 
Chief, now was the prisoner of the Provisional Government. 

Nicholas boarded the train. He stood at the wide window of his 
compartment. The locomotive screeched, and his wistful face, his 
simple khaki shirt, adorned only with the Order of Holy George, dis- 
appeared from view. Not one of the granddukes, generals, or soldiers, 
ever was to see him again. 

On the 22nd of March, 1917, at half-past eleven in the morning, the 
train drew up at Czarskoje Selo station. As the Czar stepped into 
his motor-car, the report of a shot rent the air. A lifeless body, arms 
flung high, toppled from the locomotive. Having taken the train 
of his Czar to Czarskoje Selo for the last time, the engineer of the 
imperial train had committed suicide. 



CHAPTER THIRTY-EIGHT 

THE PRISONERS OF CZARSKOJE SELO 

IT was Madame Sasanova, wife of the former Minister of the In- 
terior, who informed the Czarina of the outbreak of the revolution. 
On Monday, the i2th of March, Madame Sasanova had been 
invited to Czarskoje Selo for breakfast. Early that morning she 
telephoned to say that she would be unable to avail herself of the all- 
highest invitation because of the street fighting in the capital, with most 
of the regiments having joined the revolutionaries. 

Simultaneously as if this information had made the first breach 
in the bulwark of official optimism Czarskoje Selo became more and 
more deserted. Suddenly ministers vanished from the palace : adju- 
tant-generals and officials of the Court discovered that urgent business 
awaited them elsewhere. Those left behind seemed inordinately 
preoccupied and, before long, the entire Court buzzed with fantastic 
rumours and plans. 

At nightfall the palace was steeped in opaque darkness, the electric 
current having been cut off ; soon afterwards the water supply ceased. 
Only the motionless silhouettes of the guards, surrounding the palace, 
reassured the Court that, as yet, not everything within the Russian 
Empire had come to an end. 

Shots rang out in the darkness. Revolutionary songs became in- 
creasingly audible, the strains of wild music piercing the night air. 
The revolting garrison of Czarskoje Selo was marching on the palace 
to storm the seat of " the tyrant." At midnight loyal units of the 
bodyguard rallied around the palace. Swathed in a white shawl, the 
Empress emerged from the palace, her feet sinking deep into the snow. 
Her face was even whiter than the shawl she wore as she pleaded with 
the soldiers. The soft-spoken words of the Czarina insured peaceful 
slumber to the imperial children abed with measles at least for that 
one night. 

On the following day regiments that had remained loyal until then 
rallied around red flags and marched to the Duma. The empty rooms 
of the palace presently overflowed with armed hordes of revolutionary 
soldiers. They invaded the rooms of the children and flung themselves 
on the soft, silk-covered divans. With bucolic curiosity they stared at 
the Czarina, clad in nurse's uniform, bending over the ill heir to the 
throne. 

There was no news from the Emperor. Telegrams addressed to him 
were returned with the annotation that the whereabouts of the 
addressee were unknown. For three whole days the Empress, tortured 
by fear and despair, spent most of the time in prayer. 

260 



THE PRISONERS OF CZARSKOJE SfcLO 26l 

Old Grandduke Paul, gravely ill himself, brought the Czarina news 
of the Czar's abdication. Alexandra Feodorovna was stunned. Her 
hands clutched the table ; she stared vacantly and icpeated, as if in a 
trance : " Abdiqut, abdiqut." 

At last she bowed her head and said softly : " My poor, poor darling ! 
He is all alone in his sorrow." She wept long and bitterly. Line by 
line she read the fateful manifesto. Later, she told Madame Vyrubova : 
"Do you realize, Anna, that the Czar's abdication means Russia's 
ruin ? " 

Her grief notwithstanding, the Czarina's brain worked feverishly. 
She was the first one to grasp that, juridically, the Czar's abdication 
was invalid. The learned jurists in the imperial private car had com- 
pletely forggtten that the Emperor was unable to overthrow the 
Paulian law of succession to the throne, and that he had no right to 
renounce the crown on behalf of one of his agnates. With courage 
born of desperation, the Czarina clung to the wording of the manifesto. 
Perhaps it was merely a stratagem on the part of the Czar ; or just an 
evil dream that would vanish as soon as Nicholas himself appeared on 
the scene. She steadfastly refused to accept what had happened as 
irrevocable. Although greatly worried, she was not altogether hopeless, 
and anxiously anticipated the Emperor's arrival. 

However, it was beyond her strength to inform her children of the 
terrific change which had come into their lives. M. Gilliard, tutor of 
the heir to the throne, assumed the task of advising the ailing Czare- 
vitch that his father had abdicated. 

11 1 came to Alexius," he reported later, " and told him that the 
Emperor would return from Mogilev to-morrow, not to go back there 
again. 

I' ' Why ?' he asked me. 

Because your father is no longer Commandcr-in-Chief.' The 
news saddened Alexius for he had delighted in visiting his father at 
General Headquarters. After a little while I added : ' Do you know, 
Alexius Nicholaievitch, that your father will not be Emperor any 
longer?" * 1 * 

'.! ? he Czarevit 9 h g azed at me in astonishment. ' Why, but why ? ' 
Because he is very tired and he has gone through a severe strain 
recently. 1 

That's right. Mother told me that Father's train was stopped on 
the way here. But later, Papa will be Emperor again, won't he ? ' " 

But M. Gilliard was powerless to answer that question. 

"I explained to Alexius that the Emperor had renounced the crown 
in favour of Michael Alexandrovitch, but that he, too, had rejected it. 

|| | Who will be Emperor, then ? ' he asked. 

" ' I don't know. Nobody for the time being.' Alexius said nothing 
about his own right to the throne. However, his face flushed and he 
seemed extremely excited. 

" A few minutes later he demanded : ' But if there is no czar, who 
will rule Russia ? ' " 



262 NICHOLAS II 

The answer to this question came from an entirely different, and 
wholly unexpected, source. A red sash across his chest, a general with 
a swarthy complexion and the eyes of a Mongolian swaggered into 
the palace. In a loud voice he demanded to see the " ex-Czarina." 
He was ushered into a salon where the Empress received him in her 
nigligt. 

" What is it you want, General ? " she inquired coldly. 

Under the Empress's icy stare the General clicked his heels and 
stood at attention. "It is my disagreeable duty to inform you that 
for your own safety I am forced ..." 

The Czarina interrupted him. Her firm voice had a metallic ring as 
she declared : ff I know everything. You have come to arrest me." 

" Quite so." 

11 Anything else?" * 

"No." 

Without another word the Czarina swept out of the room. The 
general who had called on her was Laurus Georgievitch Kornilov ; 
six months later he became leader of Russia's first White Army. 

During long dreary evenings the Czarina burned her letters, diaries, 
and notes ; sorrowfully she watched the flames crackle and gleam in 
the open fire-place. Shots occasionally rang out through the old park. 
In the wet, deserted lanes, revolutionary soldiers were killing the 
tame deer pets of the Emperor their blood incarnadining the white 
snow. 

Unexpectedly, and without his usual entourage, the Czar appeared in 
the palace, on the 22nd of March, accompanied by merely a few soldiers. 
Like a seventeen-year-old girl, madly in love, the Czarina hastened to 
meet him, throwing her arms around him. She rushed him off to the 
privacy of her suite, and there they remained for fully four hours. 

The Czar was overwhelmed by the ill-fortune that seemed to be 
his destiny. That amazing self-control which the whole of Russia had 
regarded with admiration or scorn, deserted him completely now. 
He wept long and bitterly and when eventually he spoke his words 
crushed all the Czarina's hope. " If the whole of Russia,*' declared 
Nicholas, " would go down on its knees and beg me to ascend the 
throne again; I would not do it." 

At last, at twilight, the Czar grew calmer. Together with his friend. 
Prince Dolgorukov, he left the palace for a stroll through the park. 
From her window the Czarina, her face tear-stained, observed six 
revolutionary soldiers pummelling the Russian Czar with their fists 
and the butts of their revolvers. At the same time they shouted : 
" You can't go there, Colonel. Turn back. Don't you hear what we 
are telling you ? " 

Nicholas retreated to the palace surrounded by the jeering soldiers. 

Thenceforth the Czar was watched continuously. At all times an 
officer of the revolutionary troops shadowed him. These officers 
changed rapidly. Each of them was received by the Czar with a hand- 
shake and a friendly smile. Once, when he extended his hand to a 



THE PRISONERS OF CZARSKOJE SELO 263 

new-comer, the officer turned away brusquely. The Czar, obviously 
hurt, asked politely : " But why, what have I done to you ? " 

" When the people extended their hand to you," retorted the officer, 
" you spurned them. 11 

Not a word, not one syllable, was permitted to penetrate the chain 
of revolutionary soldiers surrounding Czarskoje Selo. In vain the 
Czar sought to ascertain his mother's fate. The sole connection with 
the outside world were revolutionary papers, which printed long 
articles to the effect that the Czarina had informed the German 
Supreme Command of Russia's military secrets, day after day, and that 
she also had planned to poison the Czar. 

For the small circle that had remained loyal, one day followed 
another with dreary monotony. On the first day of Easter the palace 
witnessed a Sorry scene as compared to past glories. At ten in the 
morning the hundred and thirty-five servitors still loyal assembled 
in the imperial suite. Czar and Czarina distributed Easter eggs the 
very last from the pantry stores. Each egg bore Nicholas's hand- 
written signature. Presenting a lady-in-waiting with one of them, 
the Emperor said : " Be sure to keep it. It is the very last I can give 
you." 

After midnight mass the Czar stepped up to his gaolers and, in 
accordance with Russian custom, embraced and kissed them. The 
courtiers viewed the ceremony sadly. They could not help thinking 
of the kiss with which Judas Iscariot betrayed the Lord. 

Night after night the Czar spent long hours in his library. Standing 
before the rows of books he searched for an answer to the question 
when and where he had committed that grave mistake which eventually 
had brought on the developments of the isth of March. He read a great 
deal, chiefly historical books and volumes on military science, plodding 
through them methodically. 

His thoughts were with his army continuously. He was filled with 
grave doubt whether it would be possible to maintain discipline. 
From the windows of his room he beheld slovenly officers, trembling at 
the very sight of their subordinates. His soul was overwhelmed 
with agony. "What does Providence hold in store for our poor 
Russia ? But God's will be done/' he wrote in his diary, and after 
these words he drew a large cross. 

When the Provisional Government abolished capital punishment in 
the army the Czar assumed that this law was intended to save his life 
in case he should face a revolutionary tribunal. However, the thought 
that the whole structure of the army might be weakened by such 
leniency, impelled him to send word to the Provisional Government 
that he preferred to receive a death sentence rather than see the 
discipline of the entire army jeopardized. The army, and the continua- 
tion of the war until victory was achieved, appeared more important 
to the Czar than his life, his family, and his throne. 

It was to the army, and not to the revolutionary masses, that the 
Czar had relinquished the crown of the realm. The whole of Russia 



264 NICHOLAS II 

might wonder what had induced Nicholas to renounce the throne 
without a struggle, but the Emperor himself knew that his real reason 
had been his desire to uphold the fighting spirit of his troops. And 
only the victory of these troops could justify his renunciation and all 
the humiliation it entailed. On the day of his coronation, at Uspensky 
Cathedral, he had solemnly pledged himself to his God-given office 
as Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias. On the day of the declara- 
tion of war, he had sworn not to rest until the last enemy had been 
driven from the soil of his realm. Now he was prepared to sacrifice his 
first oath for the second. If he could not gain victory for his country 
as Czar, perhaps, then, his renunciation of the throne might make 
victory possible ! 

Surely, after so many sacrifices, God would not permit his very last 
one to be in vain ; so that the defeat of the army would be the final, 
bitter draught in his cup of sorrow ? When Nicholas was informed 
that the Russian army had won a victory near Solotshov on the 
igth of July, he wrote jubilantly : "I feel newly born after this 
splendid news 1 " 

As a drowning man clings to a straw, so the Czar hopefully regarded 
Alexander Feodorovitch Kerensky. This man, whose words seemed 
to mesmerize all Russia, had cast a spell upon Nicholas, too. The 
Czar did not bear a grudge against the successor to his power. When 
the Provisional Government granted Kerensky almost dictatorial 
prerogatives, the Czar wrote about the man who had caused his 
downfall : "He is just the man who is needed these days. The greater 
his power, the better ! " 

The Czar pondered little over his own fate and that of his family. 
If his wish to retire to Castle Livadia was not granted, allied Great 
Britain where his aunt was Queen-Mother and his cousin, King 
certainly would offer him a sanctuary until the end of the war. Accord- 
ing to rumours the Provisional Government was already negotiating 
for his imminent departure for England 

Indeed, steps toward an early departure of the Czar's family had 
been taken during the first days of the revolution. Not. before the 
5th of April, however, did the British Government state that the 
King of England would be glad to receive his cousin. The Provisional 
Government, genuinely concerned over the fate of the imperial family, 
immediately declared its readiness to defray the expenses of the 
sojourn in England. Through the mediation of a neutral country, 
it had allegedly been possible to obtain the promise of the German 
Government to permit the Russian imperial family to reach England, 
unmolested. These preparations continued until the 23rd of April. 

On that day the ambassador of Great Britain, Sir George Buchanan, 
received word that his country had withdrawn its offer and could not 
undertake to extend hospitality to the Czar and his family. 

Three months later the cook at Czarskoje Selo received orders to 
prepared food for a five-days' trip, and it was via the imperial kitchen 
Nicholas II learned that he and his family were to leave shortly. The 



THE PRISONERS OF CZARSKOJE SELO 265 

imperial family packed their trunks, in complete ignorance of their 
destination. The Czar was utterly unaware that negotiations with 
England had come to naught many months ago. 

In the afternoon of the 13th of August, Kerensky appeared at 
Czarskoje Selo, elbowed his way through the crowd and, in the presence 
of Bolsheviks, addressed the Czar in an incredibly rude manner. 
However, as soon as there were no witnesses around, Kerensky behaved 
very correctly, even going so far as to address Nicholas by his imperial 
title. 

" Your Majesty," Kerensky asked, " have you confidence in me ? " 

Nicholas kept silent. Perhaps, at thai moment, his mental eye 
reviewed the long row of ministers who, for twenty-four years, had 
directed the identical question to him. Kerensky was to be the last one 
among themt 

" Yes," the Czar finally replied. 

" Well, then, Your Majesty, believe me when I say that everything 
I do is done expressly to save you, and not to destroy you. Do you 
believe me ? ' ' 

11 1 believe you," said Nicholas. 

Thereupon Kerensky informed him that the imminent journey 
would take him and his family to the city of Tobolsk, in the heart of 
Siberia. 

On the day of departure, despite the early hour, a large crowd 
surrounded the palace. The multitude booed and whistled. The 
imperial motor-cars were forced to make a detour. Under military 
escort, the Romanov family was conveyed to a distant railway station 
where they found a train awaiting them. The Czarina, who had been 
ill in bed when the order to leave came, was taken aboard the train 
with great difficulty. Upon reaching her coach she toppled over, lying 
prostrate on the floor. 

Thus Nicholas II embarked upon the long trek to exile . . . over 
the same road he and his forebears had sent innumerable rebels against 
Government and God. Slowly, as if unwilling to make the journey, the 
train moved towards the distant steppes of Siberia. Although the heat 
of summer was upon them, before the Czar's eyes danced imaginary 
flurries of snow, spreading a white blanket over all who were now 
travelling towards that land whence there was no return neither for 
czars nor for rebels, neither for granddukes nor for criminals, neither 
for leaders nor for those misled. 




CHAPTER THIRTY-NINE 

A SIBERIAN WINTER 

the Czarina's letters, written in the city of Tobolsk, 
Siberia, to Madame Vyrubova : 

" I am reading a great deal but, otherwise, my thoughts 
dwell in the past so rich in beautiful and dear memories. 
God will not forsake those who love Him and depend upon His unending 
mercy. He will help us when we least expect it, rfnd save our 
unfortunate country. We must have faith and patience." 

" I am now knitting a pair of stockings for the little one since his 
others are worn. Do you remember how I used to knit stockings in 
the winter ? I am still doing it for all of us. Papa's trousers have been 
mended innumerable times. The girls' garments are full of holes. 
' Oh, Lord, save Russia,' my heart cries out, day and night. It is my 
only thought. Dear God, how our country suffers ! Now, more than ever 
before, I love our stricken land, tortured internally, and dismembered 
by the enemy." 

" The bridegroom cometh, we must prepare ourselves to receive 
Him. We must doff our soiled vestments, throw off terrestrial dust, 
cleanse body and soul and renounce the vanities of life ! Everything 
in this world is vain. Let our brows touch the ground for the Ruler 
of the World approaches. We must bow, in all humility, before His 
Cross I " 

From the Czar's diary : " My name day passed in sorrow, so different 
from last year I At noon a mass was held. The chausseurs of the 
Fourth Regiment awaited me in the garden and offered congratulations. 
I congratulated them, in turn, upon their regimental f6te. In the 
evening, Maria, Alexius, and M. Gilliard performed in a little play, 
Le fluid dejahn! We laughed a great deal." 

"The cold is growing more intense, especially in the evening. 
To-day Alexius and I finished studying the history of Peter the Great. 
I started to copy Tchekov's play The Bear, since Olga and Maria arc 
to rehearse it." 

" To-day, a telegram was received with the information that the 
Bolsheviks, or the Council of People's Commissars, have accepted 
the Germans' peace terms because hostile troops are advancing and 
there is nobody to oppose them. What a nightmare 1 " 

In the centre of Tobolsk, on a hill, gleam the golden cupolas of the 
churches. The broad, straight streets are lined with wooden houses. 
A two-story, square, white building, occupying a wide space, was once 
the residence of the governor of the city of Tobolsk. 

266 



A SIBERIAN WINTER 267 

At the beginning of August, 1917, Colonel Eugene Kobylinsky put 
in an appearance in the white building a signal for frenzied activities. 
The old furniture was renovated, a piano was brought into the salon 
and two soft feather beds were purchased from a wealthy Siberian 
merchant. A high wooden fence was built around the front of the 
house, thus creating a closcd-in courtyard. 

Half of August had gone by when the inhabitants of Tobolsk beheld 
a detachment of soldiers march down the main street, serving as escort 
to a blond colonel of slight stature, a prematurely aged woman, four 
young girls and a boy of thirteen The group disappeared behind the 
fence of the governor's residence. The heavy door of the house shut 
after them and the good burghers of Tobolsk crossed themselves. It 
seemed unbelievable that, in the full light of day, guarded by soldiers, 
Czar Nichola# II Alcxandrovitch had been led, as a prisoner, through 
the streets of their city. 

In the governor's house at Tobolsk, the days passed in dismal 
procession, one exactly like the other. The imprisoned, imperial 
family arose at nine in the morning. After breakfast, the children 
attended to their lessons while the Czar read and the Czarina busied 
herself with her knitting. At eleven o'clock the prisoners went for 
a stroll in the small fenccd-in courtyard. One o'clock was meal time. 
Later in the day, after tea, the Czar would work or play with the heir 
to the throne. The small group permitted to share the exile of the 
imperial family teachers, physicians, and a few old courtiers 
joined them at dinner. 

On Sunday, accompanied by soldiers, the imperial family attended 
mass, conducted by an old pope. While Nicholas piously crossed him* 
self each time a prayer was said for the Provisional Government, the 
priest, surrounded by clouds of incense, felt tempted to invoke the 
blessings of the Lord upon the crown of the autocrat. On the twenty- 
fourth anniversary of Nicholas's ascension to the throne the venerable 
pope actually raised his hands to the miracle-working icons. His 
voice seemed to shake the very foundations of the church as he pro- 
nounced the holy prayer : "To the Most Autocratic, Most Orthodox 
Emperor, Nicholas II Alexandrovitch, plurimos annos." Thereafter, 
the imperial family was no longer permitted to attend church. 

In the courtyard of the government building, the Czar chopped wood. 
Splinters flew in the air ; drops of perspiration appeared on the im- 
perial brow. Observing him, the soldiers jestingly remarked : "If 
they will only let him work that hard he's sure to win back his whole 
country 1 " 

Eventually the simple soldiers were disarmed by Nicholas's friendli- 
ness. There was a rare charm about the imperial prisoner, which the 
people of Tobolsk found enchanting. Before long the soldiers brought 
flowers into the house and occasionally, when they addressed Nicholas 
as " Colonel," it sounded almost like " Your Majesty." One night, 
the newly appointed Chief Commandant Pankratov, who had spent 
twenty-seven years in the Siberian prisons of the Czar, inspected the 



268 NICHOLAS II 

guards. He discovered, to his great chagrin, that Czar and soldiers 
were playing checkers peacefully and conversing in a friendly fashion 
in the small guard-room. The detachment was dissolved immediately ; 
a new, more dependable platoon arriving to take its place. 

The new soldiers introduced a new spirit in the house of exile. 
During their first night there they destroyed the snowman which the 
Czar had made for his children. The imperial family's walks were 
greatly curtailed and packages no longer were delivered. More and 
more, what was first only a detention, now assumed all the unpleasant 
aspects of unmitigated imprisonment. Drunken soldiers staggered 
through the rooms, insulted the Czar arid, driven to brutality by drink, 
invented ever-new indignities and chicaneries. Eventually, when the 
victorious Bolshevist Soviets laid their hand upon the city of Tobolsk, 
the last vestiges of a human existence disappeared foi*the unhappy 
prisoners. 

During dark winter nights the rooms of the imperial family were 
bitter cold. The prisoners' table now lacked eggs, coffee, and even 
bread and butter. Still decorated with the large double-headed eagle, 
the imperial bill of fare was filled in daily with pedantic care ; finally, 
it announced only cabbage soup for the noonday meal and baked 
potatoes at night. 

As the sufferings of the Czar's family increased, respect for the 
prisoners grew throughout the city. Mushiks and burghers, passing the 
house, doffed their hats and crossed themselves. Many knelt down and 
spent hours on end in pious meditation. An old colonel donned his 
tattered gala uniform, pinned on all his medals, and stood stiffly at 
attention before the Czar's house until, hours later, he was led away. 
In the kitchens of rich merchants, cakes were baked, hams smoked, 
and Siberian titbits prepared. By ingenious detours this food 
eventually reached the pantry of the prisoners. 

When the pay of the Czar's gaolers ceased because the Government 
no longer sent any money, the leader of the detachment could obtain a 
loan from affluent Siberian merchants only after the Czar's adjutant- 
general, Prince Dolgorukov, had expressed his willingness to sign a 
note in the name of the monarch. In this way the Czar himself had to 
provide for his gaolers. 

News of the outside world rarely reached the Czar. From the only 
newspaper published in the city a miserable little sheet printed on 
greyish yellow paper the Czar gathered that his entire realm was 
breaking up, that the Germans were victorious, and that dire suffering 
harassed his people. Thus he had to face the fact that the last and 
greatest sacrifice of his life had been made in vain. " It was then/' 
M. Gilliard writes, " that I heard the Czar deplore his abdication for the 
first time. He suffered terribly, observing the wretched conditions 
resulting from his renunciation. The thought of it followed him 
incessantly and caused him great spiritual agony." 

Day after day the Czar taught history to his son. The more he 
tried to explain to the Czarevitch the past history of the realm, the 



A SIBERIAN WINTER 269 

better he himself came to understand his forebears. The closer he 
regarded them, the more clearly there emerged from a sea of blood the 
luminous figures ot the founders and augmenters of the realm. Even if 
the entire world looked upon Russia's past czars as spectres covered 
with blood, Nicholas knew it had been Peter the Great who had rebuilt 
the realm ; that it had been Peter's daughter, Elizabeth- --first in all 
the world who had abolished capital punishment in her country ; 
that Alexander I had freed the world of the Napoleonic yoke ; that 
Alexander II had given freedom to a hundred million serfs ; and that 
he, Nicholas, was the descendant of a family who, in three hundred 
years, had changed a turbulent Muscovite realm into an enormous 
Russian Empire. 

Now, alas, this empire had been destroyed and he himself was a 
prisoner. True, the Czarina and some servitors had timidly whispered 
more than once that three hundred loyal officers, stationed somewhere 
in the neighbourhood, stood ready to liberate him and take him to a 
foreign country. Nicholas would smile compassionately like a wise 
father, unable to explain to his children that a Russian czar must not 
add the ignominy of cowardly flight to the shame of his peoples 1 
revolution. 

When his comrade-in-exile, Prince Dolgorukov, informed the Czar 
that, according to rumours, the Germans had demanded of the Soviets 
the monarch's extradition, Nicholas said : " I assume their intention 
is to humiliate me. If it were to save me I would consider it an insult." 
And the Czarina added : " I would rather die in Russia than be saved 
by outsiders." 

A month after this conversation, strange, frightening rumours 
filled the city of Tobolsk. A new commissar, by the name of Jakovliev, 
arrived from Moscow. A polite, if somewhat embarrassed, smile 
wreathing his smooth-shaven face, he informed the Czar that he had 
been instructed to transfer the imperial family from Tobolsk as quickly 
as possible. Where he was to take the prisoners the Commissar did not 
say. However, the Czar concluded, from his dark hints, that he was to be 
taken back to Moscow a possibility which he viewed apprehensively. 
Nicholas feared that the new government in Moscow would force 
him to put his signature to the peace treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Although 
exiled and humiliated, Nicholas II still considered himself ruler of All 
the Russias, and assumed he must still share the responsibility in the 
Bolshevist peace treaty ; only his signature would give that document 
validity. However, the Czar firmly resolved not to sign the document, 
even if resistance meant a bloody end in some dungeon of the Kremlin. 
Alexandra Feodorovna shared her husband's trepidations. "They 
need the Czar," she said, " knowing full well that he personifij 
They want to force him to do something evil by threate 
of those nearest him." 

The Czarina's anxiety was intensified by the fact thj^flkzarevitclT 
was ill in bed, and that the Commissar had scheduled^ Iwzar's 
ture for the very near future. " O Lord, what 



cried despairingly. "Forthefirettimeinmy Kfelam^^ 
what musk be done. In the past, whenever I hadtomaiiadeciskte, 
I fch it was dictated to me from on Ugh. Now, I no longer fed 
anything." The Czarina wept, her pale, drawn face twitching un- 
ctotrcikHy. Her love for the Gear conflicted with her love for 
her son. * 

However, when Nicholas entered me room in the evening, she 
from her chair, threw her arms around him, and sobbed i " I 



have decided to go with yon. 

At four o'dock in the morning, on the 26th of April, 1918, Czar, 
Csarina, and one daughter Grandduchess Maria left Tobolsk. The 
other children and part of the entourage were to await the Czarevitch's 
ration 



jreUIUPGXMHNU* 

The imperial couple travelled through the steppes on mall primitive 
Siberian peasant carts. Eight soldiers accompanied the prisoners. ' 
Folding theTobcd River, the wheels of the carriage broke, the horses 




into the icy water. The soldiers flourished their swords, 
j the poor beasts into dragging the broken-down cart ashftre. 
sabres gleamed in the sun. Before the Czar's mental eye the 
entire scenery suddenly changed. It was no longer water which 
churned beneath the broken wheels of a lowly peasant cart. It was 
the dry dust of the Siberian steppes, churned up by the proud troika 
that had sped Grandduke-Czarevitch Nicholas Alexandrovitch on 
the last lap of his trip around the world in 1891. Then, the old sooth- 
sayer of Tibet had predicted for him : " ... if Thou compkteth the 
fiftieth year of Thy life, Thou wilt die quietly in Thy bed. " 

Almost thirty years had passed since then, and once more before the 
Czar's eyes the Siberian land stretched interminably ; once more the 
little bells tinkled on the horses' manes ; once again the sabres in 
the soldiers 9 hands gleamed . . . and in another three weeks he would 
celebrate his fiftieth birthday. 

At Tiumen the travellers boarded a train for Moscow. An old 
sleeping-car had been held in readiness for them. Weary to the point 
of utter exhaustion, they sprawled upon the red upholstery and were 
soon asleep. 

News spread along the route that the former Czar was aboard the 
train. Whenever the train halted, workers and peasants assembled, 
demanding to see the Czar. They blocked the road. It was impossible 
to gather from their confused talk whether they wanted to IdU the 
Car or whether they stood ready to assist him to regain his throne. 
Only with great difficulty did the Commissar succeed in preventing * 
raid on the train. 

The imperial train never reached Moscow. Arriving at the city of 
Ekaterinburg, it was surrounded by soldiers of the Red Army. The 
local Soviet had decided that, regardless of orders from Moscow, it 
would jpievent the Czar from ***n*jMiiwr further wedfc Conifyumir 
~ kovttevTentaally had to retreat before the force of tfce Bed So*fet. 

acted by Rod Guard*, Our, Carina andGmu Jdmfr* IfaHl ftft 



A ftlMtlHATT WINTER 

tatoo to th^ioase of the merchant Ipatiev. Nicholas never left that 
hoese alhre. -"Hie heavy doors of Ipatiev House dosed behind him 
and his family like the gates of death itself. 

The history of the Romanovs, begun three hundred yean previously 
in Ipatiev Monastery, was destined to end in the cellar of Ipatiev 
House. 



CHAPTER FORTY 

" THE HOUSE OF SPECIAL PURPOSE " 

DARK mystery enshrouds the end of the Romanovs. Con- 
fused reports, vague rumours, and irresponsible hearsay 
illuminate the darkness like blood-red flashes. All these 
fragments are like the pieces of a broken vessel that never 
can be reconstructed. 

A high wooden fence massive and sinister even as the nearby 
boundless Siberian forests sumaawied Ipatiev House; the place 
seemed especially formidable because of a strong guard. People slunk 
past the building, casting fearful glances at it A greyveil of mystery 
enveloped everything. 

On the second floor of the house, comprisiflf [ five rooms, Czar, 
Czarina, and Grandduchess Maria had been quartered. Later, they were 
joined by the other children who arrived with Br, Sdgius Botkin, the 
Emperor's private physician, and a few servitors, ill time the number 
of servitors decreased along with those few who caafte to Ekaterinburg 
to visit their Czar. Months later the swampy forest surrounding the 
city gave up their mangled and decomposed bodies. 

The rooms and halls of the house were guarded night and day by 
soldiers and armed workers. Viewing the disgruntled faces of the 
" the Czarina lost all hope of an early liberation of the imperial 
On the window-frame of her bedroom she drew a black cross, 
in the direction of sunset. The symbol of this cross hovered 
avisibly not only over the inmates of Ipatiev House, but also over all 
those who well-intentioned though they were busied themselves 
with badly organized and futile attempts at freeing the imperial 
prisoners. With the whole of Russia apparently disonferested, but 
nevertheless watching the prelude to the tragedy now developing in 
Ekaterinburg, the few bold souls who tried to come to the succour of 
the Romanovs gradually were caught in the web of Bolshevik sleuths. 
There are nebulous traces of one serious attempt to liberate the Czar 
and his family from the hands of the Bolsheviks. This {dan was con- 
nected with the Red Commissar, Jakovliev, who came to Tobolsk far 
the Czar; later, he disappeared just as mysteriously as the imperial 
family, without leaving any more trace than most of those surrounding 
the Czar during the last few months. 

The reasons which induced the Soviet Govniinnttosttid(>mimissar 

Jakovliev to Tobolsk are obscure indeed. A vague trail toads from 

Commissar Jakovliev to a European Power, whose secret agent he 

supposedly was, and not to the Kremlin in Moscow. An unverifiaWe 

rumour has it that the Soviets assumed the obligation to deliver the 



r THE HOUSE OF SPECIAL PURPOSE ' 



imperial family to this Power. At the same time, fearing the 



effect that might thus be engendered, the Red Government 

Eve orders to interrupt the trip of the Romanovs at Ekaterinburg, 
this way, responsibility for the premeditated murder was to be 
thrown upon a disobedient, subordinate local Soviet. Nothing definite, 
however, is known about Jakovliev's mission ; he flashes across the scene 
for only a moment- quiet, courteous, quick and clever to be swallowed 
up for ever after in the unfathomable obscurity of Siberian isolation. 

The life of the Romanovs within the walls of Ipatiev House is com* 
parable with the dim rays of a setting sun. "We are living here as in a 
gaol," the Czar recorded in his diary. The meagre reports which 
percolated through the heavy wooden fence confirmed, and elaborated 
upon, this melancholy reflection. 

In drunkerf stupor, guards reeled through the building, with House 
Commandant Avdeev behaving like a vicious dog, broken loose from 
its leash. His hands never tired of searching the baggage of his 
prisoners. During these inspections, jewels, clothing, and food 
disappeared. By sheer brutal force, Avdeev broke the thin, golden 
chain from which an icon was suspended over the bed of the Czarevitch, 
When Alexius's servant, the sailor Nagorny, dared to protest, he dis- 
appeared via the dark road whence nobody returned. 

At Ipatiev House, the Czar, his family, and those who had followed 
him into exile, took their meals around a long table. The food was 
brought from a workman's soup kitchen nearby. One of the servants 
was permitted to prepare macaroni only for the Czarina on a little 
alcohol burner. The care with which the lackey worked over the dirty 
stove amused the Red Guardists. Now and then they invaded the 
dining-room, stirring the food and spitting into the plates. At times 
the House Commandant also would sit at the table, quickly heaping 
his own plate with the best pieces. Once, he even struck the Emperor's 
face with his elbow, as if inadvertently. 

The Red Guardists covered the walls of the halls of Ipatiev House 
with obscene pictures and inscriptions. They sang ribald street songs 
and often, tluring the night, they burst into the rooms of the four 
imperial daughters who had to sleep on the cold floor. They awakened 
theyoung girls, and forced them to play obscene songs on the piano. 

The prisoners bore their fate with supernatural fortitude. Not for 
one second was the Czar ever forsaken by his imperturbability . The 
pages of his diary, upon which he formerly entered, with pedantic 
accuracy, descriptions of various receptions and ceremonies, he now 
covered with laconic remarks of such small events as the day brought. 
" I !have just finished reading the history of Emperor Paul I by Schilder. 
It is an extremely interesting book/'" For our noonday meal, Chariv- 
tonov served us compote, to our great enjoyment In the evening, 
as usual, we played dominoes/'" To-day, during tea, six men 
appeared, doubtless members of the local Soviet, to decide which of 
our windows we may open. For the last two weeks they have been 
unable to make a definite d^dsfon in tfrig question." 



There fa not one single sentencenot even a sectary word to 
indicate that the Csar ever permitted himself the Inxtiry of judging his 
sub jects and their actions. Whatever the Czar held against his people 
***a matter entirely between himself and GodL During the last few 
months of their incarceration everything terrestrial seemed to have 
been stripped from Nicholas and his family. They no longer belonged 
to this world. The Empress and her daughters sang psalms ; Grand- 
duchess Olga wrote religious poems, while Tatiana longed for the 
quiet of a Siberian nunnery. The transfiguring light of a peace, no 
longer of this world, surrounded the prisoners like the soft folds of an 
invisible shroud. 

The imperial family evidently exerted a strange charm which, for 
the very last time, re-established that mysterious and magic bond 
between people and czars that had endured for centuries. The coarse- 
grained workmen, the drunken soldiers, and the bestial House Com- 
mandant, after some time, felt irresistibly drawn toward their 
prisoners. They were treated with a little more consideration ; the 
nuns of a nearby convent were even penaitttti to bring food into 
Ipatiev House. Now and then shame and ooiapa|4on would make the 
Red Guardists more human. The RedX^vernn^t grew apprehensive, 
fearing that, just as in Tobolsk, the souls of the simple Russians in 
Ekaterinburg would be captured by the innate attraction which 
czarism apparently still radiated. 

A muffled echo of these fears has been retained for posterity in a 
telegram which Chairman Beloborodov of the Ural Soviet sent to 
Chairman Swerdlov of the Central Executive Committee in Moscow on 
4th of July, 1918. The telegram reads : " Syromolptov has just left 
for Moscow to attend to the matter in question according to instructions 
issued by the Central. Apprehensions unfounded. You are worried 
unnecessarily. Avdeev is out of the way and has been replaced by 
Jurovsky. The inside guard has been replaced." 

On that 4th of July, 1918, the " house for special purpose " was 
handed over to the Checka. Thenceforth, a veil of impenetrable mystery 
hides all further events which occurred within the house. The 
administration was assumed by the Chairman of the Ural Checka, 

, *"*h f en soldiers, giiat <ted the ronma and halls 



of the house. Deep secrecy, impossible to penetrate, surrounds these 
people who alone could tell the ultimate truth regarding the tragic 
end .of th^ Romanovs. 

The men were not Russians. They talked to ea*& Bother in an idiom 
completely incomprehensible to Russians. Thdr names remained 
unknown. They vanished as mysteriously as they had come, taking 
with them the secret of Ipatiev House. To the Russians guarding the 
outside of the building their reticent, taciturn manner teat them the 
aspect of weird spectres, dispatched from inferno itself. But these 
ghosts left strange dues behind them. On the porch of the building 
an investigating judge later feund the inscription: "m*s4ft*W 
1918 Til. 15* ***." According to this, somebody w^ called himself 



41 THE ROUSE OP SPECIAL PURPOSE " 

V&fcas Andras had been on guard on the porch mi th&day priorto the 




scribbled 
were discovered 
Hdnrich Heine's poems : 

Belsazar ww in selbiger Nacht, 
Von seinen KneckEn* wngebrackt 

"And in that same night Belshazzar was slain by his slaves. . * ." 

No other dues were left by the mysterious ten within the walls of 
Ipatiev House. 

Only as regards Jurovsky, reports and the testimony of eye- 
witnesses make it possible to reconstruct a clearer picture. Jurovsky 
was a tall m&n with a shaggy beard, a low brow, small eyes, and long, 
black hair. Born in a Siberian prison, he first had been a dentist, 
then a watchmaker, and later a male nurse, until an unfathomable 
fate had entmsted to him the power of life and death over the Russian 
Czar. 

Jurovsky reigned in Ipatiev House during the twelve days which 
decided the fate of Europe's last autocrat. During that time, Jurovsky 
left the house for hours, even days. Travelling on horseback, he 
scouted the forest, surrounding the city. Peasants of nearby villages 
observed him in the proximity of the deserted Four Brothers Mine, 
situated amidst a primeval forest. Riding through the wilderness, his 
bony body swayed in the saddle awkwardly, his silhouette standing 
out against the background of the forest like an uncanny, fear-inspiring 
phantom. 

One day, a horrible smirk distorting his face, Jurovsky entered 
the Czar's rooms, sat down on the ill Czarevitch's bed, stroked the 
child's white, bloodless hands and inquired solicitously about the 
boy's condition. That same hour twelve brand-new loaded revolvers 
were brought into Ipatiev House ; Jurovsky distributed ten of these 
among his unknown accomplices. 

Three dkys prior to the ominous night of the z6th of July, 19x8, 
the pope, Skoroshev, and the deacon, Buimirov, were called to Ipatiev 
House. For those about to die, the clerics, in full churchly vestment, 
celebrated the sad rites of the orthodox mass. " It appeared to me/' 
relates the pope, " that, on this visit, Nicholas Alexandrovitch and 
his daughters were not exactly depressed; rather they seemed worn and 
spent. According to the rites of the mass, the prayer ' Repose with the 
Saints ' must be read at a certain point. However, the deacon started 
to chant the prayer instead of reciting it. I, too, confusedly joined 
in the chant and, at the same moment, all the Romanovs sank to their 
knees," After the prayer, the pope handed the cross to the Czar. 
Nicholas Alexandrovitch kissed it and, together with the sacramental 
wafer, received the last blessings of the Russian Church. Utteiiy 
bewildered, the pope left the house. '' I had the feeling that something 

ft TM hfti T> t * 



NICHOLAS n 

Tiris information, vouchsafed by a Siberian pope, is the last direct 
word concerning the prisoners of Ipatiev House. Thereafter all 
authentic reports on the Czar's fate are hopelessly lost in a web of 
dW&erated dues and intentional lies. Like gruesome images arising 
from desolate chaos, appear the wraiths of eleven people who, daring 
the night of the i6th to the i;th of July, 19x8, disappeared from 
Ipatiev House without leaving any trace. A veritable conglomeration 
of blood rod lies, cowardice and secrecy, lurks in the boastful words of 
Voikov, Soviet Commissar of Ekaterinburg : " The world never will 
find out what we did with them!" 

The Soviet Government surrounded the events in Ekaterinburg 
with deepest silence. Like phantoms, afraid of the light, all persons 
implicated in the tragic affair disappeared. A strict order from the 
Soviets prohibited all participants from committing to writing any part 
of their experiences. 

The few words which the Soviet Government officially disseminated 
about the fate of the last of the Russian Czars penetrate the darkness 
of those days like a bleak reflection from the nether world. On the 
xgth of July, 1918, Moscow newspapers laconically reported : " The 

Nicholas 



death sentence against the former Czar, Nicholas Alexandrovitch 
Romanov, was executed during the night from the i6th to the xyth of 
July. His wife and son are kept in a safe place." 

For a very long time this succinct notice was all the Soviet Govern- 
ment would tell the world about the fate of the Romanovs. Even 
as late as 1922, Tshitsherin officially informed a group of journalists 
at the Genoa Conference : " The Czar is dead. I don't know exactly 
what happened to the Czarina and the children. I think they were 
taken to a foreign country." 

Behind Tshitsherin's words there emerges like a fear-inspiring 
spectre the blood-stained cellar of Ipatiev House and the un- 
able secret on the bottom of the Four Brothers Mine. The 



t's official declaration is rendered grotesque in view of the fact 
that, in September, 19x9, in the city of Permj, twenty-eight people had 
been Arrested, and five executed, for conniving in the mass murder of 
tb* imperial family. 
In ihf night of the x6th to the xjrth of July, 1918, eleven 




and eleven prisoners disappeared from Ipatiev House. The prisoners 
were the Czar, the Czarina, the five children, the physician, Dr. 
Sefgips Bofkin, the maid-servant Demidova, and the lackeys 
Charivtonov and Trupp. 

A few weeks later the commissars and Soviet authorities of the 
Ural Soviet, as well as the Checka, vanished from Ekaterinburg. Up 
Vojnesensky Street, past Ipatiey House, marching behind the national 
colours, to the strains of a military band, came the White Guards of 
Admiral Alexander Kolchak. The house with the high wooden fence 
around it was locked. An investigating commission of the White 
headed by Judge Sokplov, was ordered to ascertain the 



facts fcmouodmg the disappearance of the imperial famfly . 



CHAPTER FORTY-ONE 

THE END OF THE ROMANOVS 

SIGNIFICANT dues were presently unearthed in Ipatiev House 
by the investigating judge. On the second floor of the house, 
where the prisoners had been quartered, Sokolov found empty 
closets and drawers. Shoes, clothing, linen, and books had 
disappeared. The ovens were filled with ashes. Doubtless, somebody 
had burned papers and books, letters and documents. Amidst the 
debris and empty bottles, strewn about the rooms, the Judge came 
upon two objects which had been cherished by the imperial family 
as their most precious possessions: The icon of the Feodorovian 
Mother of God, and the Czarevitch's medicine. Never, under any 
circumstances not for a day or a single hour would the Czarina 
separate herself from the stern face of the holy icon, or from the little 
flask which protected the life of the Czarevitch. What secret power 
could have induced Alexandra Feodorovna to leave these all-important 
belongings carelessly behind her ? 

In the cellar of the house the investigators discovered a small, 
dark room whose walls and doors showed traces of revolver shots and 
bayonet thrusts. On the floor, as well as on the walls, brownish red 
spots were discovered ; chemical analysis ascertained them to be 
human blood. 

Inspecting the available clues, without even imagining all the 
ramifications of the massacre, the investigators discovered witnesses. 
These were night watchmen, timid peasants, imprisoned soldiers, all 
trembling for their lives. Their statements floated about the blood* 
stained cellar, like vultures spying dying game. None of them had 
been an attual eye-witness of the nocturnal crime in the cellar of 
Ipatiev House. Nevertheless, a picture of indescribable. grimness 
revealed itself to the investigators <as they listened to the reluctant 
testimony of these fear-struck witnesses. 

Judge Sokolov had to draw upon all his powers of deduction to 
fill in the missing fragments. Every means known to scientific crime 
investigation was resorted to in reconstructing the macabre deed. 
Eventually Judge Sokolov collected all available facts; his final 
report, however, resembles the pages of a book whose most 
important phrases cannot be read because of the blood splashed 
over them. 

Sokolov reports that in the night of the i6th to the 17th of July the 
imperial family was awakened after *n^"jtfr* by Jurovaky. Under 
the subterfuge that an anarchist revolt was brewing in the city, awl 
that the fives of the imperial family were in danger, Juravmky led hi 



mcHotAs n 

victims to the cellar, TOiere he kft them with the explanation that 
he was going to requisition a vehicle to take them to safety. 

Shortly thereafter, he returned accompanied by ten armed men. 
t$e approached the Gear. 

bur rektives tried to Hberate you/' he declared. "They did not 
We must execute you I " 

was the first to shoot ; after him, the shots of his accom- 
The women's agonized screams penetrated into the 
soldiers, rigid with fear, heard the reports of shots. 
WWUUM bestial blood lust, the murderers rushed at their 
gasping victims with their bayonets. Their fingers red with 




gore, they plundered the lifeless bodies, tearing ear-rings, pendants, 
and bracelets from them. 

The eleven bodies were taken by lorry to the Four Brothers Mine. 
Under Jurovsky's supervision the corpses were dismembered with saw 
and knife. Gasoline and sulphuric acid was brought from the city. 
Jurovsky spent three full days in the bleak primeval forest in 
cremating the remains of his victims and obliterating traces of the 
nocturnal crime. 

Meanwhile, Beloborodov, Chairman of the Ural Soviet, dispatched 
the following telegram to Moscow : " Inform Sverdlov that the family 
has shared the fate of its head. Officially, the family disappeared 
during evacuation of the city." 

Judge Spkolov's report of the horrible butchery is completely con- 
vincing in its logical sequence, despite the fact that it is primarily based 
upon the testimony of intimidated peasants, imprisoned soldiers, and 
Red functionaries, all fearing for their lives. Not one of them admitted 
he had been an eye-witness of the murder or of the cremation of the 
imperial family. 

A few reports which subsequently emerged into the light of day 
from the dark death cellar of Ipatiev House present an essentially 
different picture of the bloody crime. 

In February, 1919, the Red functionary, Sergeiev, was arrested in 
the city of Odessa. On his person was found a memorandum Written by 
the Checkist Efiremov who, according to his own statement, executed 
the death sentence on the Czar and his family during the night of the 
x6th to the 17th of July. His memorandum read as follows : "During 
the night we shot the Romanov family and their confidants, eleven 
people altogether. I remained in the cellar the whole time. First, 
the four daughters of the former Czar, Olga, Maria, Tatiana, and Anas- 
tisia, were brought in. They conducted themselves quietly enough, 
although it is possible that they were weeping. We shot all lour in 
quick succession. Then Nicholas H was brought into the cellar with 
his wife and son. When the former Czarina glimpsed the bodies of her 
daughters, she screamed loudly and rushed to the side of her boy. 
We did not waste much talk on her and shot her immediately. As 
she Slumped to tteflror she at tmjrt^ 
The tamer Gear sank to his knees as ram** he had stepped ao*M the 



and ordered him to stand at attention, 




THE END OF THB ROMANOVS 

threshold. We raised him 

He said good-bye, 

At the same time some of the men palled the trigger and Nicholas fell 

to the floor. The last of them* Alexius, dropped after two shots, but 

he sighed and groaned for a long time. In order to silence him it was 

necessary to drill four more bullets into him/' 

The brutal bareness of this shocking report conveys information 
vastly dissimilar to Sokolov's painstakingly constructed theory, 
Unfortunately, the owner of these tell-tale notes was beyond interroga- 
tion. Before the document could be deciphered he had been shot by 
the Whites. 

From the dark confusion of lies and legends, bloody tales and falsified 
reports, arises yet another voice, coming directly from the cellar of 



Ipatiev Hoyse. The voice is that of Commissar Voikov, member of 
the Ekaterinburg Soviet, whose name is always mentioned with 
especial significance in connection with the end of the Romanovs. 

In July, 1918, Voikov was the authorized representative of the 
Ekaterinburg Soviet ; in 1925 he held the post of the Soviet Minister 
to the Polish Government in Warsaw. On New Year's Eve of that 
year the Soviet legation arranged a ball. Gazing upon the champagne 



bottles, the elegant women, and the well-appointed tables, 
suddenly was assailed by sad memories. He left the festivities and 
stumbled into his study. There, at half-past one in the morning, 
Legation Counsellor Bessedovsky discovered Voikov behind a battery of 
empty cognac bottles. Voikov's face was ashen : his inflamed eyes 
stared at a large ruby ring on his hand. Raising his head, he blurted 
out : " This is not my ring, you know. I simply helped myself to it 
at Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg after the imperial family had been 
shot." 

Foisting his gloomy glance on Bessedovsky, Voikov haltingly re- 
counted the role he had played in the execution of the Romanovs. 
According to him, the order to annihilate the entire family had come 
directly from Moscow. He had been instructed to inform the Czar that 
he was m}der sentence of death. He went to Ipatiev House the night 
of the i6th of July. At exactly a quarter to three the imperial family 
was led into the cellar. Voikov began to read the death sentence in a 
solemn voice. He had read hardly a few sentences when Jurovsky tore 
the document out of his hand and shouted: " Nicholas Alexandrovitch, 
you and your family are to be shot by order of the Ural Soviet I " 

The Czar looked at him in amazement. It seemed he was unable to 
grasp the meaning of those terrible words. Then, he clicked his heels 
and stood up straight at attention. He extended his hand to the 
Czarevitch. At the same moment, the murderers rushed at their 
victims with revolvers and bayonets. " Jurovsky 's haste/' con* 
eluded Voikov, "changed a solemn historical act into revolting 
butchery." 

All these reports are full of contradictions. An invisible* albeit 
dexterous, hand seemed to have obliterated from the memory of the 



. - - 

AS 



adpciis the names of their accessories and the circumstances of the 
tragedy, Only (he names of Jurovsky, Voikov, and Betobonxtev float 
spectrally through the cellar at Ipatiev House. 

Evoi the Checka Central in Moscow had no information as to the 
details of the mass murder. While Judge Sokolov considered the 
annihilation of the entire family proven, Chairman Dshersinsky of 
the Cheka informed his colleague, Orlov under the seal of strictest 
'Secrecy that the women had been spared. 

PresenQy, rumours claimed that the Czarina and her daughters 
had found a sanctuary in a remote Siberian nunnery. There, com- 
pletely detached from the world, they were allegedly spending their 
days in silent meditation. Supposedly there was only one human being 
to whom the Czarina sent word of her survival and the great peace she 
had found, at last : the Empress-Mother Maria Feodompia, who had 
meanwhile fled to her native Denmark. Indeed, to the very end of her 
days, the cold, stern Dowager-Empress, refused to believe that the 
anointed family had been annihilated. She even f orbacfe the reading 
of requiems of death in her house, but never would reveal, when asked, 
upon what facts her strange conviction rested. 

Still darker, even more mysterious and confusing, are the theories 
of what happened to the mortal remains of the imperial family. 

The Four Brothers Mine is situated twenty-four versts from 
Ekaterinburg, amidst wild, primeval forest. Gloomy tales, told by 
peasants, surround that haunted spot. Deserted for more years than 
the people can remember, men and beasts have kept away from the pit 
in abject fear. Phantoms peer from the underbrush and will-o-the- 
wisps dance across the swamps. The entire neighbourhood abounds 
with fearsome visions and fantastic sagas. 

Many dues led Sokolov to the haunted forest and the deep, deserted, 
frozen-over pit. Eventually, with pick-axe and spade, the Judge 
succeeded in wresting the secret from the bottom of the mine. Icons, 
precious stones, pieces of clothing, buckles, metal parts of six corsets, 
a set erf false teeth, pieces of skin, a human finger, a dog's cadaver, and 
charred bones were salvaged from the dark shaft. These^terrifying 
remains, according to Sokolov, were all that was left of the anointed 
family of the Romanovs. 

The eerie enigma, cloaking the end of the Romanov dynasty, by 
no means was completely solved by these discoveries. It seemed 
surprising that the murderers should not have noticed the precious 
stones. It also seemed strange that six women, awakened from their 
dew at midnight, should have laced themselves into their corsets, 
at the same time carelessly leaving behind their most cherished icon 
and the Czarevitch's medicine. Moreover, it is extremely odd that 

, , , , no trace of ashes could be discovered and no witness 



eoqkl J found who had been at, or at least near, the mine around the 
time of the massacre. 

Even more incomprehensible is the fact that the only visible and 
tangiWctaetothefateoftheC^ 



THE END OF IBB ROMANOVS 

lime, but to the Kremlin, in the gold-domed city of Moscow. In 
this connection, Priest Ilhodor reports t 

"I had to go to the Kremlin to see Kalinin and talk to him about 
some important church reforms. Passing through a dark corridor 
my guide suddenly opened the door to a small secret chamber. I 
entered. On a table, under glass, lay Nicholas II's severed head, a deep 
wound over the left eye. I was petrified." 

In the long, blood-curdling story of the Last of the Czars, no state- 
ment is more uncanny than filiodor's. It conjures up the severed head 
of Nicholas II guarded by the spirits of his f orebears in a secret chamber 
of the old Kremlin. 

According to rumours the severed head was brought to Moscow at 
the oider of the Ural Soviet by the prostitute Gusseva, paramour of 
one of the alteged murderers. The journey with the head of the Anointed 
One proved too much for the woman. She lost her mind. Barefoot, 
her clothes in tatters, her hair flying wildly, she strode through the 
deep snow of Moscow and, in a babbling voice, told people cong 



around her that she had brought back the head of the Anointed One 
to the holy city of his coronation. Eventually she was shot and her story 
perished with her. 

The fate of the patient sufferer Job followed the Czar even after 
death. The long chain of misfortune did not even end after he had 
breathed his last. Whatever Judge Sokolov had foundthe charred 
bones, the fragments of skin and the icons were swept back to the 
farthest border of the country when the Whites retreated before the 
Reds. In Charbin the remains which the dark shaft of the mine had 
yielded passed from M. Gilliard to the French General Janin, who 
took them back to France with him. Guarded by him, the mortal 
remains of the Last of the Czars travelled half-way around the world, 
almost along the identical route which Grandduke-Czarevitch Nicholas 
Alexandrovitch once had covered by order of his imperial father. 

But there was no rest for them even in France. Nobody wanted to 
accept the terrifying packing-cases; one and all shuddered at the 
mere thought of accepting this horrible cargo from the Far East. From 
hand to hand, from place to place, the boxes wandered, and the self- 
same darkness that enshrouds the end of the Romanovs, also veils 
the ultimate fate of the remains, wrested from the cold depths of the 
Four Brothers Mine. 

Nobody knows their final resting-place. They have all disappeared, 
even as the ashes of the thirteenth czar on the throne of the Romanovs 
that lonely, ill-fated man who once, in Uspensky Cathedral, had 
announced to the world : " We, Nicholas II Alexandrovitch, by the 
Grace of God, Sovereign, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias, 
Czar of Kazan, Czar of Astrachan, Czar of Siberia, Czar of Georgia, 
Grandduke of Finland and Lithuania, of Rostov and of Podolsk, Lord 
of Great Russia, Little Russia, and White Russia, and Autocrat and 
Ruler of many other lands. . . ff 

V MI , . * _. ^_ 



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INDEX 



Abdication, 256 ff. 261, 263 ff. 
Absofartism, 91. 97. 119, 129. 138 ff., 143, 

. 147 ft . Set also Autocracy 
Alexander I, 52 ff., 62, 172, 207, 269 
Alexander II, xff., 53, 58, 88, 90, 182, 

207, 269 
Alexander III, 13 ff., 17 ff., 22 ff., 31 ff., 

40 ff., 47 ff., 52 ff., 58, 78, 80, 84 ff., 

88 ff., 98 ff., 101, 183, 207, 250 
assassination, 13 ff. 
morals of, 18 ff., 22, 25, 27, 43 
peacemaker, 24 
Alexandra Feodorovna. 899 Czarina; 

also Alix of Hesse 
Alexeiev, Admiral, 112 ff. 
Alexeijev, Chief of General Staff, 233 ff ., 

258 ff. 

Alexius Nicholaevitch. 5* Czarevitch 
Alexius, Very Quiet, 62, 150, z8x, 1858., 

206 
Alix of Hesse, 42 ff., 48 ff., 73 ff., xoo, 200, 

230, 241. 5m also Czarina 

f~ _,^ __ 

oaptism, 50 

shyness, 43 

Alliance, Russian-French, 53 
America, Witte's trip to, 134 ff. 
^tgyflgitte^ftn , lack ox 231 
Anastasla of Montenegro, Princess, 99 ff* 
Ancient Chronicle, The, 107 ff. 
Anti-German feeling in Russia, 231. See 

also Czarina'* German affiliations 
Armament rare 03 
Aaev. EVao, *5 ff. 
Asov'g Gedenhen, 33%. 
Assassinations, 13 ff., 54, 94* io8ff., 1x5, 

1x7, 130, X33ff., 136 ff. 
Autocracy, 51 ff., 126 ff., X39. <47* *57 

239. See ah o Absolutism 
Avdeev, House Commandant, 273 



: Service Detective, 167 ff 
Bariatiodky, Prince/ 31 ff? 4 

<1^1aij-V,. ^jjftlL I. --11 **, 

x*etecsxy, JBumscer, 229 

Beloborodov, Chainnan, Deal Soviet, 274, 

978 ff. 
Betovesh Wood, 196 

138 



Besobtasov. Captain, xxoff. 
Bessedovsky, Legation Chancellor, 279 
Bilandt, Swedish-Danish Minister, 37 
Bisak, Director, 37 ff* 
Bismarck, 53 
Biwa Lake, 36 ff., xxo 
Black Hundred, 129 
Bogoljepov, Minister. 94 
Bokhara, Emir of, 23 ff . 
Bolshevist peace treaty, 269 
Borki, accident at, 40 ff., 50, 86, 143 
Botkin, Dr. Sergius, 196, 272, 276 
Brest-Litovsk, peace of, 269 
Buchanan, Sir George. 240. 264 
Budberg, Baron, 139 
Bulavin. hetman, x8o 
Bulgyn, Minister, 127, 129, 145 
BOlow, Bemhard von, 44, 86 
Burgomaster of Tiflis, 245, 247 



Capitalism, Western, 128 
Caprivi, Rekhs Chancellor, 53 
Catherine the Great, 17, 62, 64* 82. 98, 



150 ff., 207 
Chabalov, 



, General, 239, 251 ff. 
Charbin, 281 
Charivtonov, lackey, 273* 276 
Charkov, 50 

Checka. 176, 274, 276, 280 
China, 92 

Chino- Japanese War, 109 
Chlysti, sect of, 228 
f^hmuJnfcfc< f hetman, 62 
Gbodinsky Field, 66 ff.. 123 8. 
Cholera in 1834, l8 * ff* 
Chronicle, The AncUtU, 107 ff. 
Church, Established, 179 
Coburg, 44 ff . 
Constitution, 90, 141 ff. 
Coronation ofNichoUa H. 60 ff., 14^ 
Covporative enterprises in Htissis, 5* 
Coscks, X79. ^ __ 
Caidom, etsenoeaxidaOTtery of, 19* 3. 
70 ff*. 89, 91 ff., 95 ff., WL 1X2, no, 

126 ff., 140 ., 153, i6xxt;, 179. isj* 

x86, x88, 241 
Csaiwituhy Alexius 



., a6xff. 



105* 
, 266. 



087 



INDEX 



73 &, 80 fc, MM ., 99 -, J3S, * A 

, .-. x6o, 163, 164 XTpff., x83, x88, 

191 ft, 203 ff., 3x8 ft, 333, 3338., 



2*8 fl., 233. 335* 338. 340*. 319. 
360 ff., 366 tf., 377. 380. SM also 
Alix of Hesse 



character of, 73 ** 80, 162, i88ff., 

X9X &, 33X ff., 336, 366 

Court cBqtrt and, 74 ff., 80, 190, 193 
GMMMI affiliations of, 3*gfi., 227, 263 



266 

Rasputin and the, 194, 203,^2*3, 228 ff. 
Csar Nicholas II Alexandrovttch, 16, 22, 
33 ., 36, 4* ff., 46, 4 ., 50. Sai 7f., 
76 ff., 79 n., 86 ff., 90 ff., xox, xo8ff., 
125 ff., 131 fi., 148 ff., X59ff., 172, 
174 ff., 178 ff., 185 ff., x88ff., X9|ff., 



., ., ., ., 
303, 307, 2XX fE., 2x5, 223, 226, 



, X9|ff., 
, 228 fi., 



character of, 32, 25 E., 288, 708., 
748., 1x38., 132 ff., 

"5*: 



74 ff., ii3ff., 1328., X35, 138, 161, 



China visit of, 36 

church and, 179 

commanding army in war, 2x3, 232 ff. 

cossaclrs and the, 179 ff. 

Delhi visit of, 36 

diary and letters of, 42 ff.. 46, 48, 50, 
77* 80, 113 ff., 124 ff., 134 ff., 138, 143, 
226, 229, 2tf, 263, 266, 273 

Egypt visit of, 36 

iL^i^J -L-___ JL^f^ ~f JtJMh f 

aJutennDurg ojtys ox, 270 XL 
engagement and married life of, 42 ff., 

50,76^,193 

England as sanctuary for, 364 ff . 
exchequer of the, 162 
imperialism of the, 32 
imprisonment of, 2591 3648*, 267 ft, 

yrwfootandthe,x88ff. 

moral life of the, 28 ff.. 33 

nobility and the, 178 ff. 

officers' corps and the, 178 

people and the, 72 ff., 162, x8x ff. 

Rasputin and the, 194, 203, 212, 333, 

338 ff., 331 
safety measures for the, 126, 153, x6x, 

173, X74ff., 194 
title of the. 38x 
Tobolsk days of the, 263 ff . 
uncles of the, 79 ff. 
William II and the, 211 ff., 231 ff. 
Cfanhoje Selo, 73, 82, 88, 94, 124, 177, 
x8o, 183, X93, 2x8, 332, 334, 339, 34X, 
2486**, 252, 259 ff. 
Cswfctoveforpeao*. 92 ff., xxx 
Csar," " The Hoody, 124, 133 



da's 



guard, x6i 

Devaluation of rouble, Witt" 

Dolgoraki, Mace, 128, 138 

Dolgornkov, FSrince, 138, 363, 368 ff. 

Donskoi, Dimttri, 3x6 

Dostoevsky, Feodor, 2X 

Dragomirov, General, xxd 

Dshunkovsky, General, 221, 329 

Dubensky, General 237 

Duma, xx8, 129, 138, 140, 144 ff., : .. . 
X57ff., 195, 327, 231, 235 ff., 239 ff., 
343, 348, 231, 353, 333ff. 360 

Dumbadse, General, 171 ff. 

Duxnovo, Minister, 86, 90, 159 ff. 



E 

Bdward VII, King, 131 
Effrcmov, Chechia, 378 * 

l?fc- m 4-I.tlMM' MMM 4V 

jiKatennDurg, 27011. * 

Elisabeth, Empress, 207, 369 
Empress-Mother, 18, 30, 64, 80 ff., 89, 

131 ff., 148, 159, 199 ff., 304, 232 ff., 

344, 258, 263, 280 
England, King Edward VII of, 131 
Queen Victoria of, 23, 42 ff., 73 
sanctuary for Nicholas II in, 2645. 
Eulenburg, Count, 231 ff. 
Eurasian continent in the eyes of Nicholas 

II, 7X 
Expropriation of noble estates, 35 & 

See also Peasantry 



Far Eastern investments, Russian, 109 ff., 

XX2 

Father John of Kronstadt, 48 ff., xox, 117, 

195 

Feodor, Czar, 207 
Feodorov, Dr., 196 ff., 237 * 
Finances, Bussian, 37 
Fischer, Dr., 192 
"Fools in Christ," x86ff. 
Four Brothers Mine, 373 fi*, 380 ff. 
France, alliance with, 53, 93 
Francis Ferdinand, Archduke, 210 
Francis Joseph, Emperor, 53 
Frederick I^opoW, Mnos of Prussia, 132 
Frederick Wiffiam III, 5* fi* 
Frederiks, Court Minister, 89, 127. s*9 

141, 148, 168, 330, 33l. 233. 237 
FuDoa, General xsofi. 



[war, 2x4,316,2x9 



Galicia, 232 



IK0EX 
at Mogilev, 233 ff., 




227, 



niiodor, Monk, Z9S. z_ 
Impoverishment of the 



200, 227, 281 



231, 263. Sttfa> Anti-German feeling Ipatiev House, 45, zoo, 206, 271 ff. 
in Russia ... 



57 



German demand for extzadition 
Nicholas II, 269 

fj*rma.fi-^>flflflfafl rft^t^'yif 52 ff 

Gibbs, Mr., 190 

Gists, Foreign Minister, 24* 37 

Giers, Governor, 167 n. 

Gilliard, Mr., 190, 261, 266. 268, 281 

Glinka's Life for ike dor, 171, 205 

Godunov, Boris, 162 

Golizyn. Prime Minister, 108, 252 

Goremykin, Prime Minister, 139* I49ff. 



Grandduchess Anastasia, 141, 195. 197 

Elizabeth, 42, 132 ff. 

Maria, 266, 270. 

Maria Pavlovna, 193, 249 ff. 

Olga, z68 ff., 186 ff., 190, 266, 274 

Tatiana, z68, 174, 190 
Grandduke Alexander, 13, 102, in, 132, 
144, 246, 233, 236. 241, 258 ff. 

Andrew vladimirovitch, 248, 250 

Boris Vladimirovitch, 248, 250 

Cyril Vladimirovitch, 248 ff., 251 

Demetrius, 138, 236, 244, 250 

Ferdinand of Hesse, 44 

George, 18, 33 ff. 

Michael (Czar's brother), 18, 82 ff., 102, 

Micnaeffczar's uncle), 41 ff., 44, 50 
Nicholas Nicholaievitch, 99, zoz, 138, 
140 ff., 143, 215, 231 ff., 236, 244 ff., 
236 

Paul, 261 

Peter Nicholaievitch, 99 
Sergius, 42, 50, 67 ff.. 93, zz8ff., 127, 

130 ff., 138, 170 
Gr*Mm*,88ff. 
(Sreai Britain *d Russia, 52 
Gnosds, Impeiifli Russian, 27 ff., 120, Z22, 

126 ff., Z3f, 235, 248 ff., 2$z, 258 
Gusseva, prostitute, 28 z 
Gntshkov, Liberal, 198, 256 ff. 



H 

Haemophilia, 163 ff., 196, 257 
Hague Tribunal, 92 

j Baron von, 56 




Hflena of 
Helen of Orleans, 



Ipatiev Monastery, 171, 206, 471 

Ito, Prince, zzz 

Ivan IV, " The Terrible," 58, 62, zjo, sSz 

Ivan VI, 207 

Ivanov, General. 254 ff . 



[akovliev, Commissar, 269 ff., 272 ff. 

anin, General, a8z 

ashvil, Prince, 128, Z78 

ews, 163, 177 ff. 

ohn of Kronstadt, Father, 48 ff., zoz, 

XZ7, Z95 

[urevskaja, Princess, 14, 98 
r urodovi, 1875., 194 ff. 
[urovsky, Commissar, 274 ff., 277 ff. 



Kaiser William II, 23, 44, zzo, 135, 2ZZ ff., 

220, 231 ff. 

Kaljajev, assassin, 130 
Karpovitch, student, 94 
Kasbitch, General, 133 
Katoshichin, Duma recorder, zjo 
Keller, Count, 258 
Kerensky, Alexander, 264 ff. 
Khan of Nachitshevan, 258 
Kiev, z66 ff., 170 

hilanthropist, 72 ff. 
, Colonel, 26 



, 267 
Kokovzov, Minister, 146, I5Z, 133, 

Z99 ff. 

Kolchack, Admiral, 276 
Koljabe, Mitia, 184, x88, 200 
Korea, 109 ff. 
Kornilov, General, 262 

sofi ft 



Krassnoje Selo, 209 ff . 

KahSrinslij^Mathilde, 29 ff., 33 
Kulaks, 158 ff. 
Kuliabko, Colonel, z66 
Kuzino, Baron, Z35 
Kurlov, Lieut.-Gen., z66 ff. 
Kuropatkin, General, 52, 93, ZZ2 ft 



LakeBiwa.jdff, 
Lama's prophecy, 39 *7 
LambMlfltlE. Coimt, 37 ff., 134 



Hennogen, Bishop, 195, 197. 200 Landowners, noble, 55 * 

"H*sdanF!y,"43, 80. 5 aUo Alix of Laws, Russian fundamental, 51 & 

Hesse Lembenr, 232 

Hohen)llem,Hou^of,53 ~ ' 
M Holy men," z86ff. 



IKDBX 

.Si-* *** jr^^'g: JBSbS&i 



Xodwig IV, Gnndduto, 4 Maowgiw, JB*-, / 

pStaSSw ! Chief CMHnaadairt, a*7 * 
Paris, German advance on, 331 
Parliamentarian, go, m, 138 

s^ste'* ays*sft8 



SSSSr- ^sS^-Swt 

SA^^^kfc 



?S5 

Peantay. Rnin, 54. 56, 5 

.- S^Ejpr... Mather ig, 

HuMOUbe," 53. *74. *7. J* ' 

Manrithu, Btopenw, 107 . ivJa Shah of as 

Manpa, hetman, 180 v^TV f" The Gnat"). 99. 8a, 98. 150, 

Meshtahertky, Prince. 88 fi. igAff aotsSa 

Milan of Serbia, King, as n-J n 307 

Milisia of Montenegro, Princev, 99 * ^ * TTT .i o^ 
Milnkov, Liberal, 153. *33 SKf la loi, 6 fe, 131 ff., 37 .. 

JffieSoSK 4 - ete V' I 8< > ,axo.ai5 . * . 



___ drWirvFrw*, **9 . _, ^ .. _ A 

*52 FhiUnp^ the Miracle Man, xoo a., 220 

?jask8i^ aftAaasEa,a*.. 

ssaaarawEWA 

M ?W f ' W Poia^.209. 

S=&%U^ 54-R;"-*- 6 



MOSSOJOV, ueww, *y . p - 

SESfea?* ^^s feasf*" '"'"* "" 

j^'-cjrisrc^^.^ aSaas? 1 * 

- x86 fl - Potovzov. Minister, * 



Port Arthur, i xoff,, 1x3 

N Portsmouth, N.H., 134 ff. 

Portuguese parliament, 23 

V.WA Ubrnl nx xsa Potcmkin, Prince, 62, 134. X5O, 207 

2SS2! - i-iwiJ? 5 Potocki, Count, x68 



Nagorny, sailor, 273 Prflvdin Historian, 229 ff . 



^P^fi-J"^ ^S5TSSSSa-.*- 



SiMHte ^ ^ Jw Aasassinations Protection," " State oi intensmcu, w ^ 

SSfinS 5 *" saaaasaMtv 

SBTSSiASS.-..^ !SSaSS5?WSM*' 

Putjatin, Prince, 104 



Obolensky, Prince, 106 

OMIfM 
Officers 4 



, 

M. J6 ff, 87, "5 &. X58 
cmsSio, 17 fl. 



INDEX 



Rasputin, Grigori B., 1*4. 180, XQ4., 

199 ff., tt3, $07, 212, 2X8 ff., 822, 
225 ., 23X & 235 ff., 24Z ff*, 243 ff., 



f, 22< ff. 

Nicholas Nicholaievitch and, 232, 246 
prophecy of, 203, 242 
slaying of, 237 ff. 
Rastrelh, 79, 98 
Ranchfuss, Dr., 196 
Red Army, 270, 281 
Bed Sunday, 127 ff, 
Reformation of Russian Empire, Witte's 

plan for, 138 ff. 
Revolution, '05, xoSff., 114, 120 ff., 137, 

146 

Revolution, '17, 239, 245, 251 ff. 
Revolutionaries, xxsff. 
Revolutionaries" ''Police, 116, 121 ff., 

124. See Jfso Subatov 
Rodaianko, Duma President, 233, 240 ff., 

252 ff., 255 ff. 

Romanov, Hous* of, 53, 82 ff., 97, 129, 
131, 140, 144, 205, 208, 243, 248 ff., 
258, 271, 274, 280 
Romanov, Michael, 97, 206 
Romanovs, murder of the, 278 ff. 
Romanovs, remains of the, 281 
Roosevelt, Theodore, 134 ff. 
Rusky, Adjutant-General, 239, 255 ff. 
Russian alliance with France, 52, 92 
Austrian relations, 93 
-Chinese relations, 109 ff . 
conditions in 1894, 52 ff. 

debt, 57 ff. 

defeats in 1905, 113 ff. 

Empire, decline of the, 54 

Far Eastern investments, 109 ff., 112 

finances, 57, 85, 158 

fundamental laws, 51 ff. 

German relations, 52 ff., 92 ff. 

income, 57 

Japanese war, 87, 89, 108 ff. ( 135 

-Manchuri/D relations, 109 ff. 

mobilzzatibca, 2x2 ff. 

nobility, 55 ff., 128 ff., 178 ff. 

peasant as a danger, 54 ff. See also 

Peasantry 
statistics, 51 ff., i 
trade balance, 57 



Schneider, Frau, 190 
Sectarianism, Russian, 179 
Semionovzy Guards, 120, 122, 137, 216, 

231 
Sensinov, revolutionary, x8x 

102X1, XX2, 188 

Ian of, 23 
Serfdom, 13, 55 ff.. 182 
Sergeiev, Red functionary, 276 
Shan of Persia, 23 
Sheremtiev, Count, 144 
Shervashidse, Prince, 84 
Shtsherbatov, Prince, 138 
Shuisky, Vassily, 97 
Shulgin, Duma deputy, 256 ff . 
Shuvalov, Count, 53 
Sipjagin, Minister, 94* xx8, 170 
Smolny Institute, 98 ff . 
Social-Democratic plot, 157 
Social-Revolutionary Party, 1x5, 158 
Sokolov, Judge, 276 ff. 
Sophie Paleolog, 62 

Soviets, 137, 145, 255, 268 ff., 272 ff., 276 
Spala, 196 

Speransky, Count, 51, 76 
Spiritism, 99 ff., 141, 187 
State Council, 1x8, 159 
Statistics, Russian, 51 ff., 158 
Stolypin, Minister, 151, 154, 157 ff., x6x ff., 

x66fi., 170 
St. Petersburg, 31 ff., 37 ff., 798., 98* 

X2O ff., 220 

Strauss, David, 74 
Strikes in 1905, 137 ** *44 
Strikes in 19x4, 2x0, 2x4 ff., 235 
Subatov, Okhrana agent, xx6, X2X, 127 ff. 
Suchomlinov, Minister, 2x2 ff., 220 ff. 
Sultan of Turkey, 23, 52 
Superstition of Russian people, x8x ff. 
Susanin, peasant, 169, 171 
Sverdlov, Red functionary, 278 
Sviatopolk-Mirski, Count, xx8, 127 
Syromolotov, Soviet official, 274 



Tannenberg, Battle of, 231 

Tataric yoke, liberation front the, 58 
Taurida Palace, 149 ff., 154 
Theophan, Father, 103, 194 
Tibetan lama's prophecy, 39, 270 
Tichon, Bishop, i 
Ttflis, 244 ff . 
Tinmen, 270 
Tobolsk, 265 ff. 



Safety measures for the Gear, 126, 152, . _ . 

161, 172, 174 ff., 194 Tolstoy, Leo, 95 ff., 157 

Samarin, administrator of Holy Synod, Trade balance, Russian, 57 ff. 

229 Transportation, lack of, 231 

Sarov, 102, 104 ff. - = . _ .. . 

Sasanov, Minister Sergius, 2x0, 2x3 ff., 

227, 260, 332 
Sasulitch, Vera, 127 
Savinkov, Boris, 130 



Trans-Siberian Railroad, 23, 26, 38*. 
Trepov, General, 1278., 145, 1321!., 159. 

166, 168 

Trubetckoi, Prince, 1289 206 
Trupp, lackey, 276 
Tsherevin, Count, 45 ft 90 



fthttaherin* Minister , 276 
Toritish sultan, 23, 3 



INDEX 



Vyiubova. Hftdane, 190 A. 198, 203, 
ax8 &, 222. *& 290, 261 



Uchl 

"Union of Genuine 

United Slates, 



tomsky, 
oionof* 



Ural soviet, 274, 278 ff. 
Uapensky Cathedral, 50, 

264 



. 97* 



S 



War, Declaratioa of World, 2x4, 2x6, 2x9 
Warsaw, 232 

White Army, 262, 276, 281 
William II. 5* Kaiser 
Witte, Sergius J., 25, f x, 69. 83, 85 ff., 
92 ff., icitt,, xxon., xi6fi., 1348., 
138 ff., 1438., 170, 191, 254 
dismissal of, 146 
knighthood conferred upon, 135 & 



Vassily in, <8, 62, 150, x8x 

Victoria Metttta of Coburg. Duchess, 249 

Victoria, Queen, 23, 42 ff., 73 

" Vlad^n&ovitchi/' 248 ff. 
Vladislav. Polish King, 97 
Voikov, Commissar, 276, 279 ff. 
Vojekov, I^lace Commandant, 254 ff. 
Voronxov-Dashkov, Minister, 88, 90 



Yermak. hetnian, 62 v 
Yussupov, Prince, 236 ff., 244, 250 



Ztmshy-Sobor, ng 



Hutchinson* s 

IMPORTANT NEW BOOKS FOR THE SPRING OF 

1936 

BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

ARTHUR JAMES BALFOUR 

First Earl of Bajfour, K.G., P.C, F.R.S., OM. 

*TVx life of Lard Bo/four by bis niece, Mrs. Edgar Dugdale> *>iU> 
J- without question* be acclaimed as tbe most important biography of 

ttisjreaf. In bis will, Lord Balfour laid down that Mrs. Dqgwe 
sbouU write bis lift, and she bos bad access to all Us official memo- 
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ly 
MRS. EDGAR DUGDALE 

The most important biography 
of all times 



BIOGRAPHY AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

Eldorado in the Making 

s she bad grwm up Olga Tcbemoff bad seen the contrast between 
ber stably Russian bom and the surrounding peasants' cottqgs, 
and her sympathies bad gradually peered towards the revolution* 
t. During the War she was living in a villa in Italy surrounded i 
friends, exiles, revolutionaries, andajoungpeasantg?rl. She later travt 
to Russia, relating her first impressions, toe unrest of the people, and the 
reception of the peasants 9 delegations by her husband, Minister Tchemoff, a 
SocifS Revolutionary. 



Vividly she recalls the situation in Petroffad before the upheaval of 
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Victor Tchemoff, his wife and children, are hiding in Moscow amid 
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the men and women who shared their miseries. Illustrated, i &r. 



OLGA TCHERNOFF 



Broadcasting Memoirs 

Anyone who bos ever listened to Captain Wakelanfs "on the spa?? 

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omitting stories to tell of tbe famous people be has met. 

UJxttratfd, lot. &/. 

h 
CAPTAIN H. B. T. WAKELAM 

MGB wxm 



BIOGRAPHY > AUTOBIOGRAJPHne 

An Autobiography 

Jf there is one writer who will live beyond Kt fay and vbauwrkvfttbe 
J-bendsd dmm from generation to generation at a statable mtumrud 

* ^ ^ 



the times, it is surely G. K. Chesterton. As the creator of "The 

ofm 



Napoleon ofNotting Hill", "The Flying Inn"* and the series of unusual 
stories in which "Father Brown" displays Us detective taknts, be is 
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interesting is of course obvious, but such a wealth of fascinating detail, 
such brilliant pen pictures of great personalities of yesterday ana today, 
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vast public*bas been waiting for, and there is no doubt that everyone 
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Illustrated, z&r. 

G. K. CHESTERTON 



Autobiography of Felix Weingartner 

Weingartner's reminiscences were published in Germany, and 

universally acclaimed by the critics. 

Professor Doktor A. Weissenback wrote : 

"The kindly master of the baton, an artist of international fame 9 
can wield bis pen to good effect, not only as a composer, but also as a writer. 
The elegant, easy-flowing style of 'Lebenserrinerunffn* makes the reading 
of it teen enjoyment" 

Weingartner is, of course, one of the greatest conductors and 
composers of our time, and amongst lovers of music has admirers 
all over the world. In bis book be paints vivid portraits of some of 
the outstatuSngfiffires in the sphere of music. He knew both Wagner 
and Ustf intimately, and was a friend of Brahms. He has conducted in 
all the great capitals of the world, andgves us individual impressions of 
Rome, Venice, Paris, New York, Athens, and Moscow. 

Above all, be avoids abstruse musical technicalities, and even when 
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The book ranffs over a vast field, and is m product of a rich mud, 
endowed with culture, kindness, and understanding, and it will surely be 
granted as great an ovation as the author bos ever received from the packed 
concert baU. Illustrated, its. 

imp 



BIOGRAPHY <^ AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



Reminiscences 

~rb$wifeoftbeody White Rajab in the wld,HJI. OtRaaeeofSanavak 
* bat agoytd with experience of life both r Ejtgjlaad aad ia Sarawak, 

mdi* msfascinati*gvolMme t tutted front old diaries and strap-books, 
sbilvritu of toe memories which come crowding to her from tbt years. 

There art stories lien of 'her childhood; of dandnt classes at Windsor 



Castle before Queen Victoria ; of shoots in Witdsor Park with the 



Kaiser and King 'Edward. We an told of the first meeting with the 
Rajah of Sarawak, of her betrothal and marriaff, her first visit to 
Sarawak and of her experiences in that land. Illustrated, iftr. 

HER HIGHNESS THE RANEE OF SARAWAK 



"Our Marie" 

A biography (Marie Lloyd) 

*~Fbis is not a book concerning Marie Lloyd alone, it recalls people to 
JLyour mind who have contributed for years to your enjoyment. Here 

Ore Erafisby Williams, Dan Ltno, Alec Hurley, Charles Coborn, 
Harry Claff, George Wood to name only a few of the "close-ups" which 
arepresented to you in the pages of this book. . 

This fascinating biograply is not written by someone who has only 
"beard this", "been told that", or "read the otber n . It is written by a 
well-known novelist who was one of Marie Lloyd's personal friends, and in 
the making of it her sisters, her brothers, and her maty admirers have 
contributed recollections and stories. Illustrated, iBs. 

NAOMI** JACOB 
Author of Mt: A Cbromcl* of Other Ptoplt, Mi in the JK/fcto, etc. 

Tie Romantic Life of Maurice Chevalier 



is essentially a sympathetic study and as such will appeal tremen- 
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curious jobs Maurice was always wanting to sing and dance, and in 
tins charming story of Ais life a very mid picture is presented of the 
vicissitudes through which be passed Mid, later, of the glamorous life that 
became bis* Illustrated, 5 /. 

JEAN BOYER 



BIOGRAPHY 0* AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

Witt Ro&rs 

\V7Hb At trafff tar disaster invoking the deaths of Wiley Post and 
vY Will Rfigtrs, t6e world lost a fine actor and a great personality. 
Out tf tot most popular of MM hi HtUyvood and a. star who Sat 
endeared himself to the wbolevorld, it is < 



lift providts an almost ideal field for tit biographer, and Mr. O' 
bos dtm veil in presenting a lift-like and sympatbetie portrait. 

UUtstrattd, iu. 64 



P. J. 



O'BRIEN 



burgomaster Max 

_ Bury ouster Max, whose indomitable heroism during 

'the World War stirred tie hearts of men, celebrated his Jubilee as 
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In this fascinating and exciting volume the authors record for the 
first time the fall story of Brussels nnder German military administration^ 
and the undaunted courage of its famous Burgomaster in bis defence of At 
city and bis four years' captivity. Illustrated, its. 

AUGUSTE^VIERSET, 

tit 



OSCAR E. MILLARD 

Chords of Remembrance 

of the late Sir Hubert von Herkorncr, Mathilde Verne tells 
v^#r that every member of her family of ten brothers and sisters is 
musical^ and that she herself studied under Clara Schumann. 
Some ofbp relatives are associated with Oberammergau^ so her whole life 
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musical education was placed in her hands for maty years. The author 
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IllMStrattd, 

MATHILtfE VERNE 



BIOGRAPHY e>* AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

French Replies To Haig 

With a foiewoni by the RT, HON. DAVID LLOYD GHORGB, O.AL, M.P, 

& WAT/ startling extracts from the Hut Diaries veto those 

__ attacked the late Lord Ypres* better tarn* as Sir John 
'* re*cb> Commander-in-Cbief of the British Expeditionary Force 
for the fitst year of the Great W*r. Major the Hon. E. Cerate French, 
DS.O., second son of the Field Marshal* ba$ protested rigorously agpinst 
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The author follows the movements, statements > and letters of his 
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widespread admiration. Illustrated, ior. 6d. 

MAJOR THE HON. E. GERA^ fifiNCH, D.S.O. 



Melodious Memories 

Termann Finck, renowned mt and British composer * bos been known 
[and heed by the musical and staff worlds in Engfand for forty 
years. He has played in maty theatres 9 conducted before kings y 
and bos known many celebrities of the age. He writes brilliantly and with 
a sharp wit of music, writers, club?* hotels ; and* of course* the staff. 
He has hundreds of amusing stories about hundreds of people and the 
celebrities in bis pages include the late King, HM. King Edward, Justice 
Awry, George Moore, Sir Thomas Beetbam, Sir Harry Preston, HJt&ard 
Kipling, A. P, Herbert, and a host of others, Illustrated, x&r. 

HERMAJJN HNCK 

Twenty-five Years of Leading Ladies 

of the famous producer, Mrs. C B. Cocbran has written a 
'most charming and amusing book with brilliant pen pictures of the 



staff and its leading ladies. Illustrated* 



MRS. C B. COCHRAN 



BIOGRAPHY ^ AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

By and Large 

Admiral Sir EariyD^miU's reflections are tbe fruits of a U&h 
^^-interesting and varied career^ stretMi% w*r a period from tie 

nineties up to toe present tinte^ and toe fact of his oawng fapt*a 
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the spirit of tie moment in a manner which mi$t otherwise be lacking. 
Sir Darry joined bis first sea-going ship in 1894. He served in the Gnat 
War in command of H.M. ships from 1914 to 1919, and bis appoint- 
ments thereafter include the following : Director of Plans Dhnnon at 
the Admiralty, 1920-22 ; Chief of Staff, Mediterranean^ Commodore^ 
Second Class, 1922-25 ; commanded H.MS. "Roya/ Smreigf\ 
1925-27 ; Director, Naval Intelligence Division, 1927-30 ; and Rtar- 
AdnrirdcommandingTbird Cruiser Squadron, Mediterranean^ 1930-31. 
* Illustrated, its. 6d. 

ADMIRAL SIR BARRY DOMVILE, CM.G. 



News Hunter 

Harm worth (Lord Nortbcliffe) once said that William 
y was the best all-round journalist be bad ever met. Well 
known as "Bill" by three generations of journalists around Fleet 
Street 9 Rue de Louvre, Paris, and Herald Square, New York, be has 
been associated with tbe "Standard" and "Evening Standard" since be 
left Carmelite House over twenty years ago. Illustrated, xftr. 

WILLIAM** COLLEY 

From a Colonial Governor's Note-book 

'Tbe autlfor bos recently retired after holding important posts for 
nearly thirty years in tbe Colonial Service. In tbe course of bis 
duties be bos been stationed out east in tbe islands of the Pacific ; 
south in tbe Falklands> at tbe gates of tbe Antarctic; and west in tbe 
islands of the Caribbean ; and new records bis interesting and amusing 
experiences in all these widely severed corners of the Empire. 

Illustrated* izs. 
SIR REGINALD ST.-JOHNSTON, K.GM.J 

A NINE 



<* 



HISTORICAL BIOGRAPHY 

. 

Gentlemen/ Old Each is Here 

Tbirty-w* Laptfg Variations on the them* of 

John Sebastian Bach 

TUTr. Qtnliffe Oven's book is in no sense a documented biography* 
JLVJLhtt an imaginative portrait* an attempt to bring as close as 
possible tbat longvamsbed and delightful day when the greatest 
composer of all time was pouring out bis music upon the not always 
appreciative town of Leipzig. It is also a picture of a man who was 
supremely great in himself apart from bis art, and a refutation of those 
who claim tbat genius is stifled tjy the conventional standards of life and 
must be allowed to pursue a path of its own. Illustrated, i%s. 

CUNLIFFE OWEN 

Author of T&e Phoenix and the Dow, etc. b 



Witches and Warlocks 

furious and fascinating subject was suggested to the author by 
*- an old friend* Mr. Arthur Machen, wio%as written a brilliant 
and appreciative introduction to the book. The subject matter is 
enormous, for from time immemorial witches and warlocks have plagued 
and mystified the people of this country and in fact of the whole world. 
The author deals extensively with the widespread belief in witchcraft in 
the past % and shows how this belief was often shared by the witches 
themselves. Illustrated, x&r. 

k> 
PHILIP W. SERGEANT 

Author of Historic British Ghosts, A Ceurtay of British Chess* Aunt Bokyn : a Study, etc. 
With an Introduction by ARTHUR MACHEN 



Nicholas II, 

Prisoner of the Purple 

'itbout a doubt Ms is one of the most exhaustive biographies of 
tbat lovable, weak, and unhappy figure the last of the Gyrs. 
Written in that strong and vivid style so reminiscent of the 
biographer Alfred Neumann, the author presents a complete and 
sympathetic picture of the irresolute monarch with his leaning towards 

i^rferhnty complex and bis sudden panics. Illustrated, r&r. 

MOHAMMED ESSAD-BEY 



HISTORICAL BIOGRA P H Y 

Thomas Lord Lyttelton : 

The Portrait of a Rafa 

With * brief Memoir of hit titter, LUCY LADY VALENTIA 
Tprom a lory and comprehensive collection of eighteenth-century 
JL letters and the attestations of such famous personalities as Chatham^ 
Bark, Temple, Shelburne, and Lord Bath, Reynold Bkmt bos 
drawn a mid and life-like portrait of Thomas Lord Ly tie/ton, dis- 
tmgdsbed from bis father as "the wicked Lord Lyttclton". Tom 
Lyttelton, at any rate up to the closing years of bis short life, was frankly 
a blackguard} out not differing a great deal front maty of bis contemporaries 
wbo attaimd to high position. But that was not all. Though bis 
misdemeanours were reprobated in a chorus of obloquy by most of his 
contemporary chroniclers ; his outstanding abilities were admitted even by 
those who exposed bis moral delinquencies. Illustrated, i%s. 

by 
REGINALD BLUNT 

With an Introduction by MAUD WYNDHAM 



Uncle Leopold 

"T Jncle Leopold" is an intimate portrait study of that astute and 

U insidious monarch Leopold J, who made the Be Iff an nation and 

dominated European politics for over thirty years. The Kings 

personal relations with his niece > Queen Victoria^ are graphically and 

charming described, as well as bis short and blissful married life with 

Princess Charlotte. Illustrated, i&r. 

ANGUS HOLDEN 
Author of Elegpnt Modes in the Nineteenth Ctrtmy, etc. 

Death of an Empire 

*^ jt 

the ruling Hapsburgs 

ofanwellw>batrtd>traj!fdy> but it is 
a real-life story set in TLoyal circles, shoring the pitifulfrailty of human 

A young man ruling fifty-jive million warring subjects^ trying to stamp 
into smiess an earttffake. lUustn&d, its. 

1MRE BALASSA 



H I-S T O R I C A L BIOGRAPHY 

% 

Women of ike French Revolution 

<*somr9 drama of the French Revolution were empresses and 
queens / yrk from great twists to grls from the gttter ; beauties, 

blm-*tockings 9 and blood-suckers. The women, moreover, except during 

two periods* dominated the sane and imposed their will upon the men. 

Two leaders onfyRsbespietre and Napohon rejected feminine gddance 

and drwe women out of politics* In both instances women played a gnat 

partite their ruin. 

All the wit, beauty, and intrigue of these stirring days is here revealed 

in a struggle between partisans, each fitting for life as well # for ideas, 

of strongmen raised to ephemeral p&wer. Illustrated^ ifo. 

R. McNAIR WILSON 

Pauline Bonaparte 

TTfrom the age of sixteen, and possibly earlier, Pauline Bonaparte 9 s 
JLwbok life was taken up with the "stmng of hearts". A "ffldr 

digger" of the eighteenth and nineteenth centimes^ she was beautiful 
hit never sentimental > which was perhaps the secret of her many amorous 
successes. Her first marriage was to General Ledert, with whom she 
sailed to San Domingp. As related in FoucbFs memoirs 9 Pauline* out 
of boredom and driven by her blood* indulged in wild debauchery on the 
island and ". . . not only . . . with her girl and women friends* 
but . . . witball tht white offiers of htrbusl^'sar mj and y ty 
curiosity* even with negroes". 

When she was twenty-two* General Ledew died of jelhw fever and the 
deeply Dieted widow embarked for France. Again she took the stage of 
love with her dotting beauty and soon became the wife of the Prince 

RflfTuJLpr j * 

In the sad finale we see Pauline* "the playful > fickle butterfly of Low", 
who adored only pomp and carefree life* giving up everything when 
Napoleotfs gory passed away and he was exiled to the island of St. 
HeUna. So that she may take care of the brother she bat always adored 
they share the dark days of exile fofftber. 

Joachim SMu has brilliantly re-created a vivid and cohurful life 
about which Kttle has been written. Illustrated, 

JOACHIM KOHN 



FAGB TWBLVE 



TRAVEL;* ADVENTURE * SPORT 



Bridleways Tbrou& 

Wkh illofttadont by LIONEL EDWARDS ILL 

*T&s new book by Lady ApsJy, whose book on bunting and ridng 

for women, "To Whom the Goddess . . .", written in collaboration 

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if banting ever written by a woman. It will become a standard worn 

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of the evolution of bmting with the horse in various parts of the world. 

Immense knowledff and research have gone to the makingoftUs long and 

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Illustrated in black-and-white and with numerous photographs^ m* 6d. 

LADY APSLEY 

Author of (with LADY DIANA SHBDDBN) Te? Whom At GwUtss . . . 



BaAram and Other Horses 

Ciptain Lyk is the man who carried out one of the most 
yjobs ; a job calling for powers of observation ; skill, a ready wit, 
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4tctual Derby race. That be should be chosen for such a dijftult task fuUy 
testifies to bis encyclopaedic knowledge of horses. In writing of the most 
famous horse of today and other horses he has much new information 
to impart on a subject that is all-important to many> and bis book is 
one that will be widely praised as an absorbing account by a man who 
really knows bis subject. Illustrated, I2S. 6d. 

CAPTAIN^R. LYLE 



'Rints for Beginners on Riding 

TJto is the complete manual for the man or woman who is about to 
A^tiffi riding and for those begtmers wishing to improve their style and 
In a Hear, cowcstyk the author explain in dew bow 



a bone should be bandied, and, in fact, every thing pertaining to its proper 
*fantment,and riding. No begnner should miss this valuable book. 
. Illustrated, is. 

A. C I1ANNAY 



TRAVEL, ADVENTURE & SPORT 

My Pwny and Negro Hosts 

(Ttimhted ftom the Geonu by GBKALD Gumx) 



Scbebtsta, tie MlKant etimJotut, supplies in tto book a 



tbrilline stand to bis "Among Congo P limits", in wKA be 



so twtd a picture of those diminutive folk of tropical , 
He now introduce* us to the half-breed pygmies, the offspring of negro 
fathers and pygfny mothers ', and ffves very vivid glimpses of the mutual 
economic interdependence of negroes and pyffntes 9 in which the former 
flby the rok of agriculturists and primitive industrialists % while the 
latter are still nomad huntsmen. Scbebesta has studied closely the super- 
stitions, the system of morality \ the ethical code, the folklore, and the 
primitive culture of^totb negroes and pygmies, and, bis research is both 
fascinating and valuable. Illustrated, i8<r. 

PAUL SCHEBESTA 

Author of Among Congo Pygmies 

American Btg Game Fishing 

>TT&/> is a finely produced and beautifully illustrated book with 
JL many colour plates that will appeal particularly to the connoisseurs 
among fishermen. There are eleven contributors, all well known 
authorities in America. 

A limited edition of 100 copies, with many beautiful illustrations. 

5 5^ 



ERNEST HEMINGWAY, ETC. 

A Woman at the Abyssinian War 

A book of the greatest importance* by one who has bad opportunities 

<*J*denied to the great majority of correspondents wfo *bave been 

dealing and are dealing with the grave situation confronting the 

O O O i/O 

world today. 

fir fftujyffff Italian colonial metboas in Eritrea* *'J am Just leaving 



for Eritrea*^ she wrote to us a few months ago. "I am going in a trans- 

* '--._-* ^~ ^ 



'in Rom for weeks.'' I/batratul, i8/. 

MURZEL^CURREY 



TRAVEL, ADVENTURE e* SPORT 



Bowling-'Em-Qut 



is little doubt that Hedky Verity's ambition in writing 
JL this book will be achieved. He tells us that be enjoys and bos 

enjoyed bis cricket aid, in particular, Ks bowling so much tbat 
by writing about it be might help others to enjoy theirs, and bowlers in 
ffneral to improve their gune* 

Bom at Htadingley in 1906, Verify was "cricketing mad" at a 
very tender aff, and from a brilliant dfbut in club cricket be has never 



looked back. His record is a splendid one, and in 1930 he beaded the 
England bowling averages, and from tbat feat established himself as 
Wilfrid RJ&ks's successor and England's slow left-banded bowler. 

His outstanding performances include the taking of all ten wickets 
against Warwickshire for 36 runs, and again against Notts for only 
10 runs. Perhaps his most amazing feat was the summary dismissal of 
the Australians twice in a day at Lord's in 1934. His analysis for the 
whole match was 58 overs (23 maiden), 104 runs, 15 wickets 14 
wickets in one day ! Illustrated* 4*. 6d. 

HEDLEY VERITY 

Racecourse Swindles 

*T*bis is probably one of the most unusual volumes of "Racecourse 
JL Reminiscences" ever published. There are no "new stories of 

famous devotees of the Sport of Kings", no "enchanting pictures of 
a gay Ascot crowd", but the extraordinary story of a man who left 
the counting-bouse of a firm of shipbuilders to seek adventure in the 
highways and byways ; the racecourses and the retreats of crooks. In 
company with one "Lofty" the author entered a strong world peopled 
with unusual men and women whose curious methods of earning a living, 
toffther witk the habits and exploits of maty kinds of crooks, form the 
theme of this book. 

Racecourse swindles, from the man who "lives by Ks ears" to Holy 
Mike who now sells lucky charms instead of dope, are exposed, and 
readers are initiated into the maty ways in which racecourse crowds are 
deemed. There are race-wgstories,f$ts with "ras&r mobs", and meet- 
'"'- with bigfr-class crooks. The author tells us that the wys and meaus 
"swag" form an irtwstiug chapter I Illustrated, izs. 6d. 

MICHAEL PANE 

PAGE 



T1AVELV ADEVBNTURE & SPORT 

A Cuckoo fa Kenya 

R**rimscent*s of a Pioneer PoJict Officer in British East Africa 

J ending hi Mombasa tarty in 1904 intending to bmt big game aid 

L^ take up land for farming, Major W. Robert Form was persuaded 

to join, the B.E.A. Police en the actual birth of that Force y and 

,. Major Farm sewed during what is probably the most vital period 
in . the history of modem Kenya Colony / sew toe country reclaimed 
from barbarous savagery ; worked shoulder to shoulder wA maty 
outstanding men among administrators and pioneer settlers ; and played 
Us part in maintaining lav and order in various buff princes of the 
territory. He watched history being made. During those five years as 
officer the face of the country changed win s tart f ing rapidity. 



Almost every month saw larger areas of the wilder reffons conquered 
by hardy, adventurous European settlers. 

In the wards of Lord Cranwortb himself one of the pioneers in 
Ke*ya"A Cuckoo in Kenya" is "the wry human document of a Kgfh 
spirited, perhaps sometimes too high-spirited, but always jealous officer 
working in times of mat and sometimes of extraordinary difficulty". 

f9 tf O tf mff *"* 3^ 

Illustrated, i9s. 
*r 
W. ROBERT FORAN 

Author of Wattbm in HMt, Drum ofSaerifia, Tbt Path of Ivory, etc. 



Kays from tie Far East 

(Translated From die Gentian by GBRAED GRIFFIN) 

^J) ays from the Far East" tells of a tvebe months' leisurely 

J^trip throng* China, Korea, and Japan. The author jots down 

a thousand and one droll traits about the various countries in 

the Far East which be visited, and his incidental comments fa the social, 

economic, political, and cultural peculiarities of those peoples are exceed- 

tndy piquant. With Km we see the Great Wall ofOUna, experience 

Us reaction to a two nnwtof eatibquafo in Totio. His comments on 

counfrm are reDtete iMwiw sctnuuawens. uuntour ana foe vivtaftcss of aetatfea 
observation. / Illtatrated, its. 

.''/."* .:.''.,. '*"*",. ly .-.' "' '''..-."- 

RICHARD KATZ 
Audx* of La^% 



TRAVEL, ADVENTURE & SPORT 

Austria Invites 

Both in summer and in winter Austria is a tourist's paradise 
and offers attractions of almost every kind to the visitor from 

other lands. , For these reasons, and also on account of the 
favourable exchange, it is not to be wondered of that more and more 
British people are ffing to this beautiful country every jear. There 
is thus no doubt that this informative book is not only timely but that 
it will be of invaluable use both to the people who have visited Austria 
and to those who are about to do so. 

In addition to the sections, written by himself Sir Harry has called upon 
acknowledged experts for contributions on the nine provinces of 'Austria* 
on such interesting topics as Winter Sports, Motoring^ Mountaineering, 
Shooting, Fishing Gliding, Aviation, Golf and all other forms of 
recreation, there are absorbing and fascinating sections on the Amuse- 
ments in Vienna, Trips on the Danube, Vienna Fair, Old Customs and 
National Dress, the Salzburg Festival, Austrian Monasteries, Uni- 
versities and Schools, Austrian Wines and Cuisine, and finally a Short 
History of Austria. 

With its 64 pages of illustrations, "Austria Invites" provides not 
only the most delightful but the most informative guide to a wonderful 
country. Lavishly Illustrated, 51. 

Edited by 

SIR HARRY BRITTAIN, K.B.E., GM.G., LL.D. 

Author of By Air, Wings of Sped, etc. 
in collaboration vitb experts on each of tin sub/efts wider rwfav 

This is Liberia 

Cmall, but rich in romance, Liberia is, according to the League of 

J Nations report, ninety-six per cent a slave country, with customs 

unchanged since the last century. Certain vested interests have for 

many years prevented experienced journalists from visiting toe country 

and a full and unbiased revelation bos never before been mad*. Mr. 

Greetwall and Mr. Wild, however* an able to remedy this omission on 

account of their privileged passports to Liberia's inner secrets witchcraft > 

voodoo and tie entire traffic in slaves, in which white men play their part. 

This is a most authoritative, most amazing and sensational book* 

Illustrated, 2 is. 
* 
HARRY J. GREENWALL & ROLAND WILD 



TRAVEL, ADVENTURE & SPORT 



H 



The Third World: 

A Mothm Journey in Arctic Asia 

P. Smelka, tie wttt-knmm journalist and trgaasyr of an 
&tb nan service fir the Austria* "Nette Freie Presst", 
Central European tajmaknt of "The Tims", is writing a most 
important and extraordinary book* In tot early summer be starts bis 
journey, by ice-breakers and reindeer, to Antic Siberia and the Polar 
Islands, about which he already possesses a great store of interning 
knowledff. There are probably few people in this country who realisy 
the latest developments in the Arctic region. During the last four 
years the 'Russian Government has embarked on the gre%t scheme of 
exploiting the vast natural resources of Northern Siberia, establishing 
a permanent sea passay round the Arctic coast of Asia^ and opening 
a short cut from Europe to America in the form of an air route over 
the North Pole. 

Mr. Smolka, however, is going to see for himself, and we feel sure 
that the account of bis .journey, presented with bis btgp literary ability, 
will be a most absorbing and fascinating book. Illustrated, its. 

to 
H. P. SMOLKA 

German Journey 

*T*be author, with no special introductions or facilities, returned to 

A Germany and made an extensive journey throughout the German 

Reich, and has written an account of what he saw and heard and felt. 

Illustrated, i&r. 
to 
CHRISTOPHER SIDGWICK 



T)aikw 
D natur 



Big Game Shooting in Manchuria 

is a trapper. He is a Russian of scientific mind, a bom 
naturalist, and lived in the virgn, marshy forests of Manchuria 
far thirty years. He has written a most delightful series of short 

king of ike "Taiga", and other wild beasts roaming in the jungles. 

Illustrated, ijs. 
* 
N. A. BAIKOV 



TRAVEL, ADVENTURE & SPORT 



London and 

& scholar 9 indomitably good-humoured, fearless ^ courteous^ 
& wonaefjul mixer 9 Mr* Jeffries broufpt to joumatism 
torn of tilt quality of a Ralejgp." This mas At "Daffy 

Jt -!- - -J JL- AL- J - M ^ .-JJ?^.*.* ~m*m*m^mm M. <C I7 MAM 4 T? 1. fi 



contribution to the magnificent reviews on "Front Everywhere 
In Ins nev book Mr. Jeffries writes most cbarmiig^y of odd parts of 
London and country haunts of England, Scotland, Waits, the Orkney 
Islands t and the Isle of Man. In the background there is always the 
pifture of the man biwelf, to whom such high tribute bos been paid by 
the Press. Illustrated, its. 

* J. M. N. ^JEFFRIES 

Author of rfont 



The Grip of Gold 

Jn this book, written by an authority on the subject in a frank and 
f fearless manner \ the history of gold in South Africa is presented. 
The author has a thorough knowledge of the gold-mining industry of 
South Africa^ and part of bis book is devoted to a ruthless analysis of 
the methods of the great Rand lords and the all-powerful companies. 
As secretary to that famous administrator in South Africa^ Sir George 
Farrar, the author came into close contact with all the great mining 
magfiates and the political leaders. Illustrated, its. 

H. O'KELLY WEBBER 



Vultures of the Secret Service 

Operator 1384, agent of that ruthless and mysterious organisation 
the Secret Service of the Foreigp Legion, has described in "TAe 
Devils Diplomats" and other books experiences so thrilling and 
fantastic* that readers may well believe thy are reading the wildest 
fiction instead of documents of fact. 

Far stranger than any fiction is this new book in which Operator 
1384 and bis redoubtable and courageous fellow-operator, McCann, 
pursue, with utter disregard of death and danger, the sinister tasks 
allotted to them by the chief of the Secret Service of the Foreign Legion. 

Illustrated, it/. 6d. 

OPERATOR 1384 
Author of Ttf D&il'f Dipfauttt Tb$ Cttottmiht of Dt& etc* 



SPORTS A N D P A S Tl ME S L I B R A R Y 




FUTON : 

" Come years agp I BUS matching a boxing tournament at ote of 
^tbt Trig schools. . Two things impressed me: one was the bulldog 
spirit of the by* ! *b* ^ber was tMr sad lack of kwvledffof 
the manly art of self-defence. 

"There must be mm such schools; and it. is with this tbou$t 
chiefly in mind that I wkome this timely book of Mr. H. M* Herman. 
I bave read it, and find it admirable* It is at once char* correct* and 
concise, and that is exactly what one wants in a text-book of bpxing* 
Any by or preferably two boys working together at borne* or in the 
school gym can iearq from this book bow to tox 9 andffve a good account 
of himself in a ring where the qualities of courage and fitting spirit are 
only half of the comprehensive art" IHusttate^ zs. 6d. 



H. M. 



HERMAN 



Badminton for All 



For the berinner, for those players who wish to improve their 
game* ana for all those who are not above taking sound advice 
from an acknowledged expert, we commend this excellent book of 
instruction. Devlin, WM is a well-known champion of the game, devotes 
chapters to the various strokes, clearly explaining how thy should be 
commenced and completed, what faults to look out for and bow to correct 
them. Hefurtberexpl^ns the fbeory of l^minton, points of plajswb 
as stance and court position, and devotes an interesting section to match 
pity and training. Illustrated* 4*. 6d. 

J. F. DEVLIN 



A Book on Sports Training * , 

YUTben a world-famous runner and bis brother, who is doctor to 

W the Olympic team, collaborate on a subject they both know from 

A to Z, there is very little left for us to say. That it if 

autboritatm is obvious^ and *>e believe it mil be accepted as the most 

valuable contribution to a subject Oat is all-important to athletes. 



R M. ABRAHAMS & DR, ADOLF ABRAHAMS 



between tbe Wars ^ r 

TUtr. H. W. Nffhuon is the doyen of war eomspmdmtt ***\ 
J.VjL*itkeut question, the greatest journalist of our time. Pew if 

collection of articles reveals one of the most courageous and indttondeut 
minds of the age, and 'a personality richer than any other in tk 
qualities of sincerity, loyalty, generosity, and compassion, ioiC 

HENRY W. NEVINSON 
With an Introduction by H, M. TOMLINSON 

Collected Essays and Observations 

A very futt life has accorded Lord Hewart little time for tbegfntkrart 

widely read and appreciated, and this, his latest volume, will appeal 
to many readers. , ior. 6d. 



LORD HEWART 

(Lord CKrfjHtOn 



POLITICAL & COMMERCIAL 

The Total War 

J* this vigorous and outspoken book General Lndendorff t one of 

J-tbe last survivors of the great military figures of the nw, has written 

a trenchant and fearless study of war in general and Germany's present 

position in particular. 6s. 

GENERAL L%DENDORFF 



Company Finance 

TJamous at a novetist y as a journalist, and as one of the most 
JL expert of writers on financial matters, Collm brooks cmtriluttes 

Tinanee jet written. 

COLLIN ^BROOKS