Yesterday I was unhappy to see that the great bulk of the “Aurora” has once more appeared beside the Admiralty Shipyard. Now there are three of these monsters - the “Aurora” and The “Yermak” in the Admiralty Shipyard, and a third ship in the fog on the other side of the Neva. What does this mean? What can we expect from this “expression of democratic will”? Could it mean that there will be some sort of new coup in the next few days? And when, exactly? It is something to do with the convening of the Constituent Assembly, and attempts to prevent it? I went right up close: at that distance, the Aurora, looming out of the fog and covered in frost and ice, looked like an illustration of a journey to the North Pole.
A raging snowstorm is pounding at the windows. After yesterday’s somewhat hysterical tone in the news, today’s seems calmer. And it’s about time! Perhaps the last of our common sense has not yet died out, and before people push each other into the abyss, they’ll come back to their right minds and decide to grapple with the conditions of reality. See more
Judging by the newspapers, the hub of the “counterrevolution” is now in Novocherkassk. Savinkov is there, and Alekseev, and Commander Kornilov. I doubt that they have a chance at success even if the rumors are true about a “white” conspiracy in Petersburg and Moscow involving both the formal monarchists and the moderate socialists. In the evening, a rumor spread that the Sovereign and his family had successfully arrived in Nagasaki.
I found out that all banks had been sequestrated. It was only yesterday that a baker I know assured me that there was no reason to be worried and advised me against withdrawing money! It's quiet in the streets (I went to the theatre mostly to see "what was going on"). See more
On my way back I heard three hollow gunshots coming from the Admiralty, and then two more, coming from the Stock Exchange building, but nowadays no one pays any attention to it. The show (opening night of the revival of "Snegurochka") was bland. There was no speech before the opening.
Towards midday I set off on foot for the Winter Palace. A barricade has been put up on the Palace Bridge. Only those with passes are allowed through. The path along the fence of the Tsar’s garden is littered with broken bottles. See more
There is no wind, and the air around the palace reeks of alcohol. A sailor who has been standing on guard since the morning by the stairs to the cellar is clearly intoxicated on the fumes, although there are no reasons to doubt his claim that not a drop has passed his lips. I heard later in the day that almost all of the wine has been removed from the cellar, which has been flooded with water…
I finished the suits of “Petrushka” with paint and set off to Bertensen to come to agreement about the further. Along the way I bought (on the warrant issued by our house committee, otherwise it is impossible) rubber galoshes in the Andreevsky market; unfortunately, except for the pointy ones, there were no more left.
Socialism in the future doesn't really frighten me. Here though, in its pure form, it just doesn’t work! While socialism remains a foreign doctrine, while it remains a dream, it presents itself as something seductive, but when that dream is fully realised, by all manner of disciplinary measures (right the way up to terror), a Russian person will very quickly (or maybe not so quickly) develop an immunity that will be expressed in delinquency, lethargy and cowardice, at least in its most primitive manner.
The Au Bon Gout pastry shop, which is in our building, is refusing from now on to bake bread for us. Now our poor servants will have to stand for hours once again in those “lines”! See more
Of recent political news (as per the papers) I will note the following:a. General Verkhovsky has arrived at Headquarters, but there is no news at all from Headquarters itself; b. The ministry of foreign affairs has begun operations (that's from Pravda); c. Lunacharsky has officially announced that all ministers of the former Ministry of the Court are to continue their work. He is silent on the appointment of new commissars; d. There is a (still peaceful) siege on the State Bank. Employees are not keeping the Bolsheviks away from the counters.
The background of gunfire was punctuated by several hollower, heavier blasts, and following the last of these came the sound of something collapsing. The Aurora, anchored in the middle of the Neva between the Fortress and the palace, was firing on the latter at point-blank range. My heart sank. Could these really be the last moments of the Winter Palace’s existence? But next door was the Hermitage, home to the Russian state’s foremost treasures, home to everything I hold dearest in the world!
Name days of both my Annas. The manager of the estate, Schleiseine, categorically refuses to send for post to Yablonovka, and for the second day we are sitting without newspapers. But for today’s morning it turned out to be quite opportune. Due to the absence of these vile pieces of paper, it turned out to be particularly sunny, happy, and appropriate for a name day. A true summer feast. Children made a bunch of different presents.
Most repulsive is the sense of general cowardice. People, after all, aren’t so stupid as to fail to see that the war is the reason for their misfortune; that there can be no hope of setting Russia on the road to recovery without putting an end to said war; that peace with the Germans will not usher in subjugation of any kind, nor herald the “death of the revolution”. See more
Yet when it comes to devoting the bulk of one’s attention to this, and coordinating will with action accordingly, no one dares to do so.
Now the Milyukovs of this world, and other sly operators, can fox their way into power once again. Once again they’ll start making noises about the “enervation” of Germany and the honour of Russia, but as for the voice of the enervated, mercy-imploring Motherland, no one wants to listen to that.
All night, the rain was pouring down and drumming on the roof. At one point it was very cold, and I couldn’t sleep. Luckily the little cat Kuzka honoured me with his company: he heated up my feet and communicated a magical sense of comfort for a bit of the night. See more
Two papers were brought in at once with my coffee – the second from Friday. I was struck above all by a telegram from KornilovCommander in Chief of the Petrograd command - from 18 March 1917 with the demand for a “halt” to the offensive and the reinstatement of the death penalty, stating that if this is not done, he will refuse to continue to command. Strangest of all, there was no commentary on this telegram worthy of its exceptional importance. What does it mean to “stop” the offensive? Or is it a misprint for “retreat” ? Will they try to raise a dying beast to its feet? We are stupid enough, and the English cruel enough, to try it. It will now be even harder to find out the approximate truth, as wartime censorship has been reintroduced at the same level as before.
They took all the passengers off of the trams passengers and the cars are full of armed soldiers driving around the streets. There are the slogans: "Down with the Provisional Government!" and "Down with the Ten ministers." They tried to compel the Pavlovsky regiment to go against the Provisional Government, but they didn’t. From our windows, however, the street looks quite calm. But as I was sitting alone in my bedroom and skimming last summer’s diary, in the distance, from the Neva side, there was a very strong exchange of machine gun fire. It started 14 minutes before 12 o'clock. And ended exactly at midnight. After this, military music was rang out twice, the second time - before ten o'clock. Later I learned that it was the Finnish regiment. It was terrible to hear these sounds.
Especially nauseating was the loathsome feeling of personal and general hopeless impotence.
Glorious celestial impressions beyond the Peter and Paul Cathedral. In general, Petersburg is as beautiful as ever. The city’s last summer?
Where you are, you imagine that we are living in a kingdom of freedom, but in actual fact, it is a kingdom of nonsense without freedom, or at any rate, without any effective sense of freedom. My dear friend, it is very bad here and very bleak, and Akitsa and I envy you more than ever, for being too far away to see this nightmare in its entirety. See more
The most awful thing of all is that it is an orgy of imbecility and mediocrity. All-pervasive mediocrity. There is still some sort of hope in that mystical essence known as “the people”, but one clings to this hope more out of habit than anything else. Where you are, I am sure, it is all being portrayed in a different light. Perhaps it is seen as being a little bit more terrible than is actually the case, but also as more tragic and impressive. Think yourselves lucky, and thank heaven with all your souls for the good fortune that has been granted to you.
Dearest Igor, I beseech you, write me a line or two, so that we know you have not forgotten us. And I want to know how things are with you, how you’re feeling, what you’re thinking and what you’re working on.