The Ambassador left yesterday for Finland on a few days’ well-earned holiday. I had an interview with Byelyaev to give him a telegram from Sir Henry Wilson describing the disorganisation at Romanov. I put the case as strongly as I could, pointing out that it was disgraceful that our merchant seamen should risk their lives to deliver material at Romanov that the Russians made no attempt to remove. See more
Byelyaev confessed that the Murman railway was not a real railway in the proper sense of the word, but something in the nature of a gigantic bluff. The fault lay with Trepov late Minister of Ways—who had declared the line open on November 28th, and had so delayed necessary construction work. Byelyaev told me that, since last Sunday, by the Emperor’s order, the three Ministers—of Ways, Trade and Agriculture—had met daily for an hour under his chairmanship to try to co-ordinate their work. He complained that all the Ministers worked each in his own separate “corridor” (the Russian equivalent of our “ watertight compartment ”). We drifted into politics. He said that the only politician in whom he had any faith was Savich. Guchkov was clever, but he could not trust him, for, like others, he simply used the prevailing chaos as a lever to oust the Government. He acknowledged that it was Polivanov who had taught him to work, but said that for him (Byelyaev), as an honourable soldier, to work with Polivanov had been very difficult, for Polivanov constantly sought advice from the politicians. He said he had remarked to the Emperor how fortunate England was in the possession of men like Layton—“ a professor at Cambridge University,” who worked at his job and never meddled in politics. I pointed out that this was possible in England, where we had a Government the people could trust. He sighed.
The narrowness of poor Byelyaev, who objects on principle to any seeking of advice outside official ranks, neutralises all his energy and honesty. His stupidity makes it all rather hopeless. What will happen I don’t know
It would be good to be blind and deaf. I would write poems “on love and immortality” (oh, if only I could!) and would cease being a “public figure”. What’s not public about genuinely good poetry? Those who take to writing should do with fewer opinions. Let the facts speak for themselves. Life will justify me.
The Emperor thinks of nothing but his unlimited power, and works exclusively towards securing it. Alas, alas – he stands to lose far more in the future than what he should voluntarily relinquish now, thus securing his popularity and the love of his people.
The Empress was in very indifferent health. At an official reception following the departure of the Guards, the Empress told me that she hardly knew how to endure the strain. "Veronal is keeping me up. I'm literally saturated with it," she said.
I was arrested on February 13. That’s all. In closing, I want to protest once again. I’ve never spied against France, nor have I even attempted to do so. I haven’t written a single letter I shouldn’t have written. I’ve never asked my friends for information which did not concern me, and I’ve never set foot anywhere I had no business to be. My original intention was to remain in France for no more than three months. My thoughts were only of my lover. Espionage couldn’t be further from my mind. Only circumstances decided otherwise.
Pornographic pictures from France are going around.