On Sunday I reached Gaspra. I am staying here for the entire winter.
The ministers were assembled in small groups. Some walked back and forth about the hall, others stood at the window. S. N. Tretyakov Sat down next to me on the sofa and began to talk indignantly about how Kerensky had abandoned them all and betrayed them, and that the situation was hopeless. Others (Tereshchenko, I remember, who was in a highly nervous and excited state) were saying that all we had to do was “hang on” for another 48 hours, and troops loyal to the government would arrive in the city.
It was the usual tedious and particularly pitiful and useless under these circumstances process - looking for such half-way phrasings that would be supported by some public majority.
Rumours about the Bolshevik rally in the coming days spread around the city, worrying and disturbing everyone. In these days, there was given - a completely academic - order to arrest Lenin.
Those who attended the so-called State Conference at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre in August 1917 have not, of course, forgotten Kerensky's speeches – the first, which opened the conference, and the last, which closed it. The effect he exerted on those who were seeing or hearing him for the first time was a depressing and repellent one. See more
His was not a calm and weighty speech befitting of a statesman, but the scream of a megalomaniac, hysterical through and through. You could feel his intense, zealous desire to make an impression, to be held in high regard. In his closing speech, he seemed utterly to lose all self-control and spouted a load of absolute nonsense which had to be carefully excised from the shorthand transcription. He remained completely uncomprehending of the situation until the very end.
The mug of the city has changed quickly. Private cars have disappeared, armored cars and trucks started rushing by, filled with armed workers and soldiers. Once in a while, in various locations, fire fights broke out, shots would crackle from different directions. See more
The large crowd, filling the Nevsky Prospect would suddenly scurry and hastily rush away, almost knocking down those walking towards them.
Once in a while large squadrons would appear, walking somewhere with red flags and posters with the aforementioned messages. The days were glorious and hot, the sun was shining—a drastic contrast between the life of nature and the alarming, excited impressions from everything that was happening.
The Provisional Government is under a deep illusion. They thought that the “import” of Lenin and Co by the Germans would in itself completely discredit them in the eyes of the public and prevent anyone from successfully preaching them. And indeed, at different rallis, the subject of the “sealed car” always had great success. See more
But this did not prevent their development through “Truth”, and number of other anarchic leaflets of the most aggressive and destructive propaganda. The Provisional Government is bound by its declarations on the freedom of speech, by its entire ideology.
It is difficult to imagine what must have been going on in Kerensky’s mind when, in the space of a few short weeks and months, the revolution had thrust him into such dizzying heights as he found himself. In his soul he must have been forced to admit that all the homage paid him, the idolisation, See more
could not have been anything besides an instance of crowd psychosis, that he, Kerensky, could not possibly have possessed either the mental or moral qualities, nor have achieved such things, as could justify such hysterical and triumphant admiration.
I tried to induce him (Nabokov) to give me some decisive answers on the question of war and peace. But in vain. Nabokov is in thrall to the idea of pacifism while simultaneously believing it “necessary to see the war through to the end”. As if this “end” were not also the end of everyone of his own ilk, and more generally speaking, the end of a culture which, berate it though we might, we ultimately love. At any rate, we cannot expect that the madman propelled by fate to the country’s very zenith will heed the voice of reason, or even simply the imperative of self-preservation – his own no less than that of the entire country with which he has been entrusted!