During that disastrous summer of 1917 I had one novel experience which I must chronicle if only for the serio-comic light it throws on the Russian character. As part of our propaganda baggage-train we had a travelling film mission, of which the able chief was Colonel Bromhead, the subsequent chairman of the British Gaumont. He, too, was enlisted to coax the Russians into fighting by showing them war films of the fighting on the Western front. The effect of these war pictures on the mind of the now undisciplined Russian army can be imagined. Not unnaturally, they served merely to increase the number of deserters.
It was not Bromhead's fault. He was a splendid fellow, who realised the futility of showing war pictures to men whose sole thought was peace. Still, he had his duty to do. Films were part of the Whitehall scheme for the regeneration of Russia, and shown they had to be.
To Moscow, then, came Bromhead for a monster demonstration of the British effort. Would I help to make his show a success? Could I enlist the services of patriotic speakers? Nothing seemed easier. Moscow alas! had more orators than fighters.
We secured a theatre. We arranged a programme. And then the Soldiers' Soviet, infinitely more powerful than the Provisional Government, intervened. The show was for the Moscow troops. The soldiers might see the films. They were not to be exposed to the harangues of Imperialist jingoes. There must be no speeches.
In vain I went to see the Presidium of the Soldiers' Soviet. In vain I argued the merits of free speech. The utmost concession I could wring from them was that Lockhart himself – Lockhart who sympathised with the revolution and knew the views of revolutionary Russia regarding the peace terms-might speak. But there were to he no other orators. On these conditions the Presidium would guarantee the success of the show. They would be present in full force to see that the conditions were carried out.
Bromhead accepted the situation with unfeigned delight. My own consent was given with reluctance. An after-dinner speech before an audience rendered innocuous by good food and champagne was one thing.
I saw nothing attractive in addressing twelve hundred sceptical and severely critical revolutionaries in their own language.
I took pains over that speech. I wrote it out very carefully in English and had it translated into mellifluous Russian by a Russian poet. I learnt it off by heart. Indeed, I made myself something more than word perfect. I rehearsed my effects even down to the place where my voice was to break. Not in vain had I gone the rounds with Kerensky.
My appeal was frankly sentimental. There is no other reason I know that will compel large bodies of men to fight. But my sentiment was Russian. I made no reference to the crime of deserting their Western Allies. I discussed quite frankly Russia's desire and even need of a separate peace, and then I drew a picture of a better world created by the glorious revolution. But neither the better world nor the revolution itself could stand, if discipline was to be thrown to the winds and the road to Moscow opened to the enemy. Lenin would have demolished the argument with one sentence. But Lenin, fortunately, was still in hiding in St. Petersburg.
On the day of the ordeal I made my way to the theatre, secretly hoping that I might have no audience to address. But the Soldiers' Council had kept its word. The house was packed. Moreover, seated beside the Presidium in the balcony were the Assistant Minister of Marine and Kishkin, the High Commissar for Moscow. Our films were of two kinds; naval and military. Very wisely we showed the naval films last. They were impressive and free from all horrors. My speech came at the end. There was no applause when I stood up on the narrow stage before the curtain, and I began nervously. The silence, however,
was respectful. I was to be given a hearing. I forgot all the tricks I had practised. I almost forgot my words. I spoke with a quivering anguish in my voice which the Russians mistook for genuine emotion. For twenty minutes I strove to master my nervousness, my voice now raucous, now breaking queerly at the oddest moments. To the end I was listened to in deathly silence. When I had finished my peroration, my knees shook and the sweat streamed like tears down my face.
Then pandemonium broke loose. A soldier jumped on to the stage and kissed me on both cheeks. In the box of the Presidium Kishkin stood up, and in stentorian tones declared that Russia would never desert her Allies. That afternoon he had received official news that the Russian Fleet had sailed out into the Baltic in full fighting trim. More cheers. More pandemonium. In every corner of the house soldiers were standing up and clamouring to be heard. The scene was almost like the opening of the war. I had unloosed the strings of Russian hysteria. It was a short-lived triumph. The next day the account of the meeting was severely censored. The Socialists had repented of their emotion. This was my last public appearance as Acting Consul-General in Moscow.
Hot on the heels of M. Thomas came Mr. Arthur Henderson, despatched on a similar mission of fraternal goodwill by Mr. Lloyd George. Mr. Henderson, too, carried a letter of recall in his pocket. To be strictly accurate, the letter of recall was not actually included in the Henderson baggage-train. What had happened was this: When the British Labour Minister – and Mr. Henderson was the first Labour representative in the history of England to achieve Cabinet rank – was actually on his way to St. Petersburg, the Foreign Office sent a telegram to Sir George Buchanan extolling his work and suggesting that he should take a rest. In other words, he was to be recalled and his post given to Mr. Henderson.
On deciphering the telegram and without consulting the Ambassador, "Benji" Bruce, head of the Chancery, rushed off to see Sazonoff, ascertained from him that Tereschenko, the Foreign Minister of the Provisional Government, would be very sorry to see Sir George Buchanan replaced, and then went back to the Embassy and sent off a long private telegram in cipher to George Clerk at the Foreign Office, saying that Henderson's appointment would be a disaster…
Оn the occasion of his Russian visit, Mr. Henderson certainly showed an admirable discretion. Accompanied by George
Young, he took up his quarters at the Europe – the same hotel which had provided such luxurious shelter for Lord Milner, George Clerk, Sir Henry Wilson, and numerous other distinguished visitors to Russia. There, at the Ambassador's request, I came to see him.
I dined with him in his private room. Throughout one long summer evening I walked with him down the Nevsky, across the Winter Square, past the Palace Quay. Beneath the gold reflection of the Admiralty Arch I heard the whole legend of the Hendersonian career. I accompanied him to Moscow. I took him to a full-dress meeting of the Moscow Soviet. And in the inner chamber of his Moscow hotel I arranged for him a private conversation (with myself as interpreter) with Urnoff, the then all-powerful President of the Soldiers' Soviet.
Mr. Henderson has the reputation –doubtless well deserved –of being a first-class organiser. He is a great man at Party meetings, which he succeeds in dominating by concealing his own intentions to the last moment. He is a man who is slow to commit himself. He does not give himself away.
On this occasion, however, I looked into Mr. Henderson's soul. His geography was a little weak. He was not quite sure where he was, but he was speedily convinced that the locality was unhealthy. The comrades in the Soviets bewildered him. He did not understand their language. He did not like their manners. Doubtless he would have liked to be the first Labour Ambassador. But after all, a Cabinet Minister is a more powerful person than the greatest of modern Ambassadors. Moreover, Sir George
Buchanan was not the failure he had been painted. Sir George, as Mr. Henderson soon discovered, understood the wild men much better than did Mr. Henderson himself. Further, Sir George had been kind, and Mr. Henderson is susceptible to kindness and to flattery. The great sacrifice was therefore easily made. Mr. Henderson explained that, while the Embassy was his for the asking, he had come to the conclusion that no good purpose would be served by the removal of a man who understood Russia far better than he did and who had shown himself remarkably free from all party bias. Shaking the dust of St. Petersburg off his feet, he returned to London to make the great renunciation and to recommend that Sir George Buchanan be retained as His Britannic Majesty's Ambassador and Envoy Extraordinary to the Revolutionary Government of Russia. On his return he had his historic wait on Mr. Lloyd George's doormat – a wait which ended with his resignation. In this manner he lost both his Embassy and his place in the Cabinet. It was a bitter reward for a mission which had been honestly if somewhat timorously fulfilled, and which, whatever its effect on the Russians, had the advantage of curing Mr. Henderson of any revolutionary tendencies for the rest of his life.
How well I remember his first visit to Moscow. It was,
I think, soon after he had been made Minister for War. He had just returned from a visit to the front. He spoke in the Big Theatre – the platform on which, later, the Bolsheviks ratified the Peace of Brest-Litovsk. Kerensky, however, was the first politician to speak from that famous stage which has given to the world Chaliapin, Sobinoff, Geltzer, Mordkin, and scores of other famous dancers and singers. On this occasion the huge amphitheatre was packed from top to bottom. In Moscow the embers of Russian patriotism were still warm, and Kerensky had come to stir them into flame again. Generals, high officials, bankers, great industrialists, merchants, accompanied by their wives, occupied the parterre and first balcony boxes. On the stage were the representatives of the Soldiers' Councils. A small pulpit had been erected in the foreground of the stage just above the prompter's trap-door. There was the usual ten minutes' delay, the customary rumours among the audience. Alexander Feodorovitch was ill. A new crisis had recalled him to St. Petersburg. Then the buzz of conversation gave place to a burst of clapping, and from the wings the pale figure of the War Minister made its way to the central dais. The audience rose to him. Kerensky held up his hand and plunged straight into his speech. He looked ill and tired. He drew himself up to his full height, as if calling up his last reserves of energy. Then, with an ever-increasing flow of words, he began to expound his gospel of suffering. Nothing that was worth having could be achieved without suffering. Man himself was born into this world in suffering. The greatest of all revolutions in history had begun on the Cross of Calvary.
Was it to be supposed that their own revolution was to be consolidated without suffering? They had a legacy of appalling difficulties left to them by the Tsarist régime: disorganised transport, lack of bread, lack of fuel. Yet the Russian people knew how to suffer. He had just returned from the trenches. He had seen men who had been living for months on end with mud and water up to their knees. Lice crawled over them. For days they had had nothing but a crust of black bread for sustenance. They were without the proper equipment for their self-defence They had not seen their women-folk for months. Yet they made no complaint. They had promised to do their duty to the end. It was only in St. Petersburg and in Moscow that he heard grumbling. And from whom? From the rich, from those who, in their silks and
ornaments of gold, came here today to listen to him in comfort. He raised his eyes to the balcony boxes, while with fierce staccato sentences he lashed himself into a passion. Were they to bring Russia down in ruins, to be guilty of the most shameful betrayal in history, while the poor and the humble, who had every reason to complain, were still holding out? He was ashamed at the apathy of the big cities. What had they done to be tired? Could they not watch a little longer? He had come to Moscow for a message for the men in the trenches. Was he to go back and say that their effort was in vain because "the heart of Russia" was now peopled by men of little faith?
As he finished his peroration, he sank back exhausted into the arms of his aide-de-camp. In the limelight his face had the pallor of death. Soldiers assisted him off the stage, while in a frenzy of hysteria the whole audience rose and cheered itself hoarse. The man with one kidney – the man who had only six weeks to live – would save Russia yet. A millionaire's wife threw her pearl necklace on to the stage. Every woman present followed her example, and a hail of jewellery descended from every tier of the huge house. In the box next to me, General Wogak, a man who had served the Tsar all his life and who hated the revolution as the pest, wept like a child. It was an epic performance…
The speech had lasted for two hours. Its effect on Moscow and on the rest of Russia lasted exactly two days.
Other new revolutionary acquaintances with whom I came into contact during this period were Boris Savinkoff, Filonenko, Chernoff, Zenzinoff, Rudnieff, the new Moscow Mayor, Urnoff, the President of the Soldiers' Soviet, Minor, the venerable Social-Revolutionary editor, Prokopovitch and his wife, Ekaterina Kuskova, a remarkable couple who both in their personal appearance and in their work may be aptly described as the Russian counterpart of Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Webb. See more
Some day, when the story of the Russian revolution fades into the same background of time as the French revolution, their names will figure in the Russian history books. To the foreign reader they are, with the exception of Savinkoff, of no significance.
For some reason, which I have never been able to understand, Boris Savinkoff has always been regarded by Englishmen as a man of action and therefore as a hero. More even than most Russians, Savinkoff was a schemer – a man who could sit up all night drinking brandy and discussing what he was going to do the next day. And, when the morrow came, he left the action to others. His talents cannot he denied. He wrote several excellent novels. He understood the revolutionary temperament better almost than any one, and knew how to play on it for his own ends. He had mingled so much with spies and agents-provocateurs that, like the hero in his own novel, he hardly knew whether he was deceiving himself or those whom he meant to deceive. Like most Russians, too, he was a forcible speaker who could impress his personality on his listeners. At one time he entirely captivated Mr. Churchill, who saw in him a Russian Bonaparte. There were, however, fatal defects in his character. He liked luxury, and, although he was ambitious, was not prepared to sacrifice his self-indulgence to his ambition. His chief weakness was my own –a fatal capacity for short spells of frenzied work followed by long periods of indolence.
A few days after the arrival of the Franco-British Labour delegation, and almost simultaneously with the return to Russia of Lenin, came M. Albert Thomas, the French Socialist Minister of Munitions. He, too, had been sent out by a French Government, claiming by its traditions to possess a special knowledge of revolutions and anxious to secure the co-operation of revolutionary Russia with the Allied cause. Thomas, whose Socialism was a shade less pink than the Conservatism of Mr. Baldwin, was accompanied by a host of secretaries and officers. Moreover, he carried in his pocket the recall of M. Paléologue, the French Ambassador and a cynic who never struck me as really serious, but who understood Russia much better than most people suspected. The recall was part of the new policy.
I saw a certain amount of Thomas – a jovial, bearded man with a sense of humour and a healthy, bourgeois appetite. He made friends with Sir George Buchanan. He stimulated the war loyalty of Kerensky. He visited the front and harangued the troops with patriotic speeches well larded with revolutionary sentiment. And he argued with the Soviet. One service, which seemed important at the time, he rendered to the Allies. The Soviets, at this moment, were engaged in abstract discussions about
peace terms. They had invented the formula of "peace without annexations and contributions" and this phrase, adopted at thousands of meetings in the trenches and in the villages, had spread like wildfire throughout the country. It was a formula which caused considerable annoyance and even anxiety to the English and French Governments, which had already divided up the spoils of a victory not yet won, in the form of both annexations and contributions. And both the French Ambassador and Sir George Buchanan had been requested to circumvent this new and highly dangerous form of pacifism. Their task was delicate and difficult. There seemed no way out of the impasse, and in despair they sought the advice of Thomas. The genial Socialist laughed.
"I know my Socialists," he said. "They will shed their blood for a formula. You must accept it and alter its interpretation."
So annexations became restitution and contributions reparations. It was, I imagine, the first time the word reparations was used officially, and Thomas certainly succeeded in persuading the Soviets to accept a clause in their formula for the restitution of Alsace-Lorraine. At the time it seemed an important achievement. Actually, as the Mensheviks and Social-Revolutionaries, who had yielded to the Thomas subtlety, were so soon to be swept away, it made no difference whatsoever.
The position of the Allied Missions in Russia was, in fact, rapidly becoming impossible. Every one was engaged in trying to persuade the Russian to continue fighting when he had just overthrown a régime because it refused to give him peace. A little plain thinking should have made any one see that in these circumstances the success of the Bolsheviks was merely a question of time.
As the dangers of the Russian revolution came home to the British ministers at home, strenuous efforts were made to bring the Russians to their senses and to recall them sternly to the obligations of their alliance. Some genius hit on the idea of sending out a Franco-British Socialist delegation to persuade the Russian comrades to continue fighting. And in the middle of April, MM. Mouet, Cachin and Lafont, representing French Socialism, and Messrs. Jim O'Grady, Will Thorne, and W. W. Sanders, as stalwarts of British Labour, arrived in St. Petersburg to preach wisdom and patriotism to the Soviets. See more
The three Frenchmen were intellectuals. Moutet was a lawyer. Cachin and Lafont were professors of philosophy. On the British side Sanders was then secretary of the Fabian Society. To the British public O'Grady and Thorne require no introduction.
From the first the visit was a farce. The delegates fulfilled their task honourably. But, as any one might have foreseen, they were completely lost in the wilderness of Russian revolutionary phraseology. They were bewildered by the endless discussions on peace terms. They understood the jargon of the Russian Socialists far less than I did. They were handicapped by their ignorance of the language. Worst of all, they never succeeded in winning the confidence even of the moderate Socialists, who from the first regarded them as lackeys of their respective governments.
If the effect on the Russians was less than nothing, the reaction of the delegates themselves to the revolution was amusing. O'Grady and Thorne – especially Thorne – were splendid. Never shall I forget that luncheon at the Embassy, when this honest giant regaled us with stories of his adventures. He had all the Englishman's contempt for verbiage, and the babel of foreign tongues had disgusted him. He longed to use his strong arms and to knock the heads of the garrulous comrades together.
The Allied delegates came to Moscow. They visited the front. They delivered – through the aid of their interpreter – innumerable patriotic speeches, and in the end they went away, sadder and wiser men.
IT was Prince Lvoff who arranged my first meeting with Kerensky. I could not have had a better introduction. Like most Socialists Kerensky admired and respected Lvoff as much for the integrity of his character as for the work he had done for the Russian people. I received an invitation to luncheon.
At the appointed hour my sleigh drew up before the Ministry of Justice, and I climbed up the long steps of the official staircase, where only three weeks before had reigned all the rigid ceremonial of the ancient régime, into an ante-chamber filled with a crowd of soldiers, sailors, legal functionaries, students, schoolgirls, workmen and peasants, all waiting patiently like one of the bread queues in the Liteinaia or the Nevsky. I pushed my way through the throng to a tired and much-harassed secretary.
"You wish to see Alexander Feodorovitch Kerensky? Quite impossible. You must come tomorrow."
I explain patiently that I am invited to luncheon. Again the machine-like voice breaks in: "Alexander Feodorovitch has gone to the Duma. I have no idea when he will be back. In these days you know... ."
He shrugs his shoulders. Then, almost before I have time to allow the disappointment to show on my face, the crowd surges forward. "Stand back, stand back," shout the soldiers. Two nervous and very young adjutants clear a passage, and in half a dozen energetic strides Kerensky is beside me. His face has a sallow and almost deathly pallor. His eyes, narrow and Mongolian, are tired. He looks as if he were in pain, but the mouth is firm, and the hair, cropped close and worn en brosse, gives a general impression of energy. He speaks in quick, jerky sentences with little sharp nods of the head by way of emphasis. He wears a dark suit, not unlike a ski-ing kit, over a black Russian workman's blouse. He takes me by the arm and leads me into his private apartments, and we sit down to luncheon at a long table with almost thirty places. Madame Kerensky is already lunching. By her side are Breshkovskaia, the grandmother of the Russian Revolution, and a great brawny-armed sailor from the Baltic Fleet. People drift in and out at will. Luncheon is a floating meal and it seems to be free to all. And all the while Kerensky talks. In spite of the Government prohibition order there is wine on the table, but the host himself is on a strict diet and drinks nothing but milk. Only a few months previously he has had a
tubercular kidney removed. But his energy is undiminished. He is tasting the first fruits of power. Already he resents a little the pressure that is being put on him by the Allies. "How would Lloyd George like it if a Russian were to come to him to tell him how to manage the English people?" He is, however, good-natured. His enthusiasm is infectious, his pride in the revolution unbounded. "We are only doing what you have done centuries ago, but we are trying to do it better – without the Napoleon and without the Cromwell. People call me a mad idealist, but thank God for the idealists in this world!' And at the moment I was prepared to thank God with him.
A fortnight after the revolution I went to St. Petersburg to see the members of the new Provisional Government. Prince Lvoff, the Prime Minister, was my intimate friend. With most of the others I had been in close contact for the past two years. Men like Shingareff, a St. Petersburg doctor, Kokoshkin, the great Moscow expert on international law, and Manuiloff, the rector of Moscow University, were men of the highest integrity and ability. See more
To the English Liberal Cabinet of 1906 they would have been an addition of strength and an ornament of distinction. They were too gentle to deal with the turbulent elements in the Soviets, which had made the revolution and which now virtually controlled the Duma.
Before catching my train, I dined with Chelnokoff, who had been appointed Commissar for Moscow. He gave me a forecast of what I might expect to find. His own position was becoming unbearable. He confessed that he had no chance of surviving the new elections, which now of course had been prescribed on a basis of universal suffrage for every municipality and every Zemstvo in Russia. Lvoff's reign, he said, would be no longer than his own.
The most phlegmatic of men, he spoke without anger or prejudice. I felt that he was right. Already "a free and unfettered democracy" had no use for the Liberal leaders whose cry for years had been "trust the people."I found Prince Lvoff at the Taurid Palace amid a scene of indescribable confusion. He had been presiding at a Cabinet meeting. Secretaries kept rushing into his room with papers to sign, decisions to be taken. He would start to talk to me, and then the telephone would ring. In the corridor outside, deputations from the front, from the villages, from goodness knows where, were waiting to see him. And in this restless, bustling turmoil there was not one man or woman who seemed capable of protecting the Prime Minister or relieving the burden on his shoulders. Every one seemed to be playing a game of general post to escape from responsibility. I longed for a Miss Stevenson to send the whole pack of delegations about their business and to put some order into this warren of chaos.
Our conversation was conducted in snatches.
Finally he gave it up. "You see how it is," he said. "We are doing our best, but there is so much to do. Come and see me tonight at my flat at twelve o'clock."
He ran his hand through his grey beard and looked at me with a flickering smile. He looked tired and wan, and his eyes, small at all times, had almost vanished behind his eyelids. In two weeks he had aged ten years. A man of great charm, he would have made an excellent chairman of the London County Council. He was an ideal President of the Zemstvo Unions, but he was not the stuff of which revolutionary Prime Ministers are made. And yet I doubt if at this period any member of his class could have "held down" his post. Nature brooks no interference with her processes, and the time for dictators had not yet come or had already passed.
I went to see Lvoff at his flat – a modest two-roomed affair where he had remained ever since the night he had arrived from Moscow to take over the reins of the Government. He was still in the same suit. The carpet bag, in which he had packed his clothes for the night, still stood in the hall. My heart went out to him. He seemed so forlorn and alone. As always, he spoke in his rather jerky little monotones. He was a shy man and, although he bore an aristocratic name, more like a country doctor than an aristocrat. To those who knew him slightly he gave an impression of cunning –due actually to his timidity. To those whom he trusted he was open and without restraint. He made no concealment of his fears and anxieties. Russia would come through, but ... Russia would carry on with the war, but ... His whole conversation was a confession of the weakness of his own position.
When I went to see my other Moscow friends in the government, I found the same helplessness, the same apprehensions. There was only one man in the Cabinet who had any power. That was the nominee of the Soviets – Kerensky, the Minister of Justice. The revolution had destroyed my old Liberal friends. Now I had to seek new gods.
The revolution had begun on a Monday. On the Saturday I took part in my official capacity in a grand review of the revolutionary troops on the Red Square. It was an inspiring sight –40,000 troops celebrating a newly-won freedom by a march-past executed with perfect precision and order. And yet in spite of the cloudless sky and sparkling air I had a feeling as though I were in a prison. That vast Red Square, which has witnessed so much repression of freedom from the time of the executions of Ivan the Terrible that grim background of high red wall furnished by the Kremlin – these are no symbols of liberty… And if there was any tendency to over-enthusiasm on my part (and I am a romanticist who hates all governments by instinct), there were the generals – Liberal patriots like Obolesheff, who had just returned from the front – to supply the necessary correction. Discipline had disappeared. Men no longer saluted their officers. Deserters were seeking the villages in their thousands. The floodgates of three hundred years had been swept away. The tide was not to be stemmed by any individual effort until it had spent itself. Guided skilfully into less dangerous channels it might have been. But that was not the method of the Allies, who had greeted the revolution first with feigned enthusiasm and then with increasing alarm. They wanted – and on the part of the military advisers the wish was natural – things to be put back where they were before. And, unfortunately, there is no "as you were" either in time or in revolution.
As I passed through the Theatre Square, Socialist agitators, mostly students and schoolgirls, were distributing anti-war pamphlets to the troops. Opposite the National Hotel some one in the crowd recognised me. "Long live England," cried a student voice. "Long live England and the Revolution," answered the greasy mob. It was a disturbing and confusing day.
My own views on the revolution can be given in a single paragraph. See more
The revolution took place because the patience of the Russian people broke down under a system of unparalleled inefficiency and corruption. No other nation would have stood the privations which Russia stood for anything like the same length of time. As instances of the inefficiency, I give the disgraceful mishandling of food-supplies, the complete break-down of transport, and the senseless mobilisation of millions of unwanted and unemployable troops. As an example of the corruption, I quote the shameless profiteering of nearly every one engaged in the giving and taking of war contracts. Obviously, the Emperor himself, as a supreme autocrat, must bear the responsibility for a system which failed mainly because of the men whom he appointed to control it. If he had acted differently, if he had been a different man.... These arguments are childish.
What it is important to realise is that from the first the revolution was a revolution of the people. From the first moment neither the Duma nor the intelligentsia had any control of the situation. Secondly, the revolution was a revolution for land, bread and peace – but, above all, for peace. There was only one way to save Russia from going Bolshevik. That was to allow her to make peace.
A FEW days later the assembled delegations left for England, France and Italy. There were no bands to play them off, no official farewells. They travelled via Murmansk, where the Kildonan Castle was waiting to pick them up, and, mindful of the fate of Kitchener, they kept the day and the hour of their departure secret. And, in order that the secret might be better guarded, they sacrificed their shoes, which, at the request of those responsible for their safety, were left outside their bedroom doors long after the occupants had stolen away.
There is a story current that on his return to England Lord Milner wrote a Cabinet report in which he expressed his firm conviction that there would be no revolution, and that before the ink on it was dry the revolution had already started.
Nor was there anything in Lord Milner's attitude during his Russian visit, or in the nmerous conversations which I had with him, to give the impression that he had any confidence in the permanence of the Tsarist régime. What advice he gave to Mr. Lloyd George I do not know, but I cannot believe that it was optimistic.
One thing is certain. If this Mission did not open the eyes of its members to the state of Russia, it was useless even as an object-lesson to the Western Allies. As far as Russia was concerned, it might just as well have remained in London, Rome and Paris.
Lord Milner and George Clerk having returned to St. Petersburg, we were promptly inflicted with the military invasion of Sir Henry Wilson and his brother officers. There was no political significance attached to this visit. Yet it nearly ruined my relations with my Russian friends and involved me in one of the most uncomfortable incidents in my official life.
The generals had come to Moscow, not for business but for relaxation. They had had their bellyful of official entertaining. In any case they were not interested in the political views of Moscow malcontents or, for that matter, of a beardless Consular officer. What could I do to amuse them? Could I arrange a small dinner and a dance for them? And, as they were fifteen strong, need I invite the husbands? This was the burden of my conversation with Sir Henry Wilson on his arrival, and, anxious to please so great a soldier, I rushed away to fulfil his commands.
I sought the assistance of my wife. She rang up the wives of the Russians who throughout the War had done most to help us to entertain the various English missions which had visited Moscow. With delicious zest they entered into the spirit of the adventure, and before luncheon time we had arranged an almost perfect party. Need I say that our invitations had been extended only to the young and pretty wives and that their husbands had not been taken into their confidence? Oh, egregious, overzealous youth!
The party was held in a private room in the Hermitage Restaurant. The food, the wines, were the best that Moscow could provide. The orchestra was Korsch, and in honour of the English guests Korsch played "Love Me and the World is Mine" with even more than his usual feeling. The party was a complete success. It was friendly. It was decorous. In the presence of such pillars of respectability as General Clive, Lord Duncannon and Sir Henry Wilson himself, how could it have been otherwise? And yet in this fold of innocents there was one black sheep. Lord Brook asked if he might bring a friend to the dinner. She was unknown to my Moscow friends. She was an aristocrat. She had been divorced. Worst of all, she came from St. Petersburg.
Let me hasten to say that both she and Lord Brook behaved even more decorously than the most decorous member of this decorous gathering. But the mischief was done. And at an early hour next morning my telephone buzzed incessantly with calls from irate husbands demanding apologies for my conduct. The final blow came when my richest, most influential Russian friend called at the Consulate-General and asked to speak to me. He was shown into my room. He walked up to my desk and clicked his heels. There was a look of steel in his eyes.
"Roman Romanovitch," he said, "you were my friend. I consider it my duty to inform you that your conduct in inviting my wife without me last night was ungentlemanly. Goodbye."
And, righteously indignant, he strode out of the room.
It took me weeks of arduous attention to gather up the fragments of my broken friendships.
Генералы приехали в Москву не по делуПетроградская конференция — многосторонние международные переговоры союзников по Антанте в начале 1917 года в Петрограде., а чтобы расслабиться. Они были сыты по горло официальными мероприятиями. В любом случае их не интересовали политические взгляды недовольных москвичей или, если на то пошло, безбородого сотрудника консульства. Как я мог их развлечь? Устроить для них небольшой ужин с танцами? И, поскольку их пятнадцать, нужно ли приглашать мужей? Этой темой меня озадачил по прибытии Генри Уилсон, и, стараясь угодить великому военачальнику, я помчался исполнять его приказания.Я обратился за содействием к жене. Она обзвонила русских дам, которые во время войны очень помогали нам развлекать различные английские делегации, посещавшие Москву. С большим рвением принялись они за это дело, и еще днем мы сумели организовать чудесный вечер. Нужно ли упоминать о том, что приглашения получили лишь хорошенькие и молодые дамы, а их мужья не были ни во что посвящены? О, излишне усердная юность! See more
Празднество состоялось в отдельном кабинете ресторана «Эрмитаж». Кухня и вина были лучшими из того, что могла предложить Москва. Играл оркестр Корша, и в честь английских гостей Корш исполнил «Люби меня, и мир будет моим» даже душевнее, чем обычно. Вечер удался на славу. Он носил дружеский характер. Все было благопристойно. Разве могло быть по-другому в в присутствии таких столпов респектабельности как генерал Клайв, лорд Дунканнон и сэр Генри Уилсон? И все же в это невинное стадо затесалась одна паршивая овца. Лорд Брук попросил разрешения привести на ужин знакомую. Мои московские друзья ее не знали. Она была аристократкой. Она была разведена. И, что хуже всего, она была из Санкт-Петербурга.
Я должен сказать, что как она, так и лорд Брук вели себя даже благопристойнее, чем самый благопристойный из участников этого благопристойного собрания. Но ущерб уже был нанесен. На следующий день с раннего утра мой телефон беспрестанно трезвонил, разгневанные мужья требовали, чтобы я извинился за свое поведение. Последний удар был мне нанесен моим самым богатым и самым влиятельным другом, приехавшим в генеральное консульство и попросившим о встрече со мной. Его провели в мой кабинет. Он подошел к столу и щелкнул каблуками. У него был стальной взгляд.
«Роман Романович», — сказал он,— «вы были моим другом. Я считаю своим долгом сообщить вам, что вы, пригласив вечером мою жену без меня, поступили не как джентльмен. До свидания».
Возмущенный, он выскочил из комнаты.
A week later Lord Milner, accompanied by Lord Revelstoke and George Clerk, came to Moscow… There was a reception at the Town Duma at which he had to make a speech and to present Chelnokoff with the K.C.M.G., which the King had conferred upon him as a reward for his services to the Anglo-Russian entente. There was an Anglo-Russian luncheon, which lasted five hours , and at which various members of the Imperial Duma were determined to deliver their set speeches even at the risk of prolonging luncheon into dinner. The unfortunate Englishman, who understood no Russian and who, doubtless, would have liked to see something of the Kremlin and the ancient city, was chained to his duty from early morning to late night. I cannot congratulate myself on my staff work on this occasion.
And yet the visit was the occasion of one historical meeting. I arranged a private interview between Prince Lvoff and Chelnokoff on the one side and Lord Milner and George Clerk on the other. I acted as interpreter. Prince Lvoff, a quiet, grey-bearded man, tired out with overwork, spoke with great moderation. But lest there should be any doubt as to his views he brought a written memorandum with him. It was a long document, but the gist of it was that, if there was no change in the attitude of the Emperor, there would he a revolution within three weeks.
My duties were not ended when I had put Lord Milner to bed. I had my report to send to the Embassy. There was George Clerk, determined to see something of Moscow by night, and still young enough to sacrifice his sleep to his determination. Enlisting the services of a young Russian millionaire, we took him to a gipsy party – doubtless one of the last of the great gipsy parties celebrated under the monarchy. Goodness knows what it cost. I could not have paid. There were eight of us: four English and four Russians, and as the guest of honour George Clerk had to bear the brunt of the champagne bombardment. My young Russian millionaire did his best. Maria Nikolaievna sang countless "charochki," and with her own hands offered countless bumpers to George Clerk. As a diplomatist he has had many triumphs, but never has he borne himself more bravely than on that last evening in Moscow. He never refused a toast. He drank each one down in the approved Russian manner, and his monocle never moved. Not a hair of his head was ruffled. There was neither flush nor pallor on his cheeks.
In the early hours of the morning Prochoroff, my young millionaire officer, signed the bill and distributed the necessary largesse, and we set off home; my wife, George Clerk, "Jimmie" Valentine and I in one car; Prochoroff and his Russian friends showing the way in another. A quarter of a mile down the road we passed him. He had pulled up beside a policeman and was standing in the road. For George Clerk's edification we stopped to watch. Prochoroff was fumbling in his pockets. He pulled out his purse and handed a rouble to the policeman, who clicked his heels together and saluted. His hand on his sword, Prochoroff drew himself up to his full height. There was a sparkle in his eye, and he looked as though he were about to lead a charge.
"Boje Tsaria Khraneel" he thundered. "God save the Tsar," repeated the policeman. And "bye Jidoff!" (beat the Jews).
We drove on. Prochoroff did not hate the Jews. In so far as he had any political views he was a Liberal. But he would go on with his "God save the Tsar and beat the Jews" refrain all the way home. It was the prescribed ritual. It was the pre-revolutionary tradition.
The next day I returned to Moscow, and Lord Milner resumed his place at the conference table. And, while the delegates were discussing Constantinople, Alsace-Lorraine, and the spoils of war, there were riots round the bread-shops, workmen were being arrested by the Ochrana, and in the entourage of the Imperial family frightened women were repeating the prophecy of Rasputin: "If I die or you abandon me, you will lose your son and your throne within six months."