There are no fresh lemons to be found anywhere in the market. There are frozen lemons, but these of the most limited quantity and moreover with a price from 65 to 70 rubles for the box. Mandarins are out. No pineapples either.
Dearest friend! So long without hearing from you! You promised, almost a week ago, to write “tomorrow”, and since then not a word. Can something in particular have happened? Just write me any old rubbish if you can’t think of anything serious to say, otherwise I’ll start worrying.
Will this letter get to you, my Hafiz? I hope not: a warm wind is blowing up the Neva from the sea, which means the year is drawing to an end (I always count years from winter to winter) – the first year of my life which bore no resemblance to those previous: grand, silly, long; somehow too eventful and serious. I can even see it in the mass of freckles on my nose and the way my arms have grown inconceivably long.
My deer Hafiz, how sweet it is to live! That, really, was all I wanted to say to you.
It’s just as cold in this residence as it is in the Winter Palace. It’s very important not to forget about our poor soldiers, and of those unfortunates who have no firewood at all; I should think of them and be patient. I was with the Empress today and felt very distant from her. She looked poorly, and we didn’t speak much for lack of time. This cold is making me numb.
I have been hoping all this time that you would take the course indicated by those people loyal to you, those who love their country not out of a sense of fear but from a belief in what they know to be right. But as events have shown, your advisers have continued to lead Russia - and you - to certain doom. To remain silent in the present circumstances would be a crime before God, before you, and before Russia.
Discontent is growing rapidly; every day that passes brings a widening of the abyss that separates you from your people. Never in the history of the Russian state has the country known such favourable political circumstances: our previous arch-enemy England is on our side, as is Japan and all the other states, all of whom see and feel our power, but who, at the same time, are witness to an utterly inexplicable phenomenon: the complete disarray within our country, which worsens every day. They see that it is not the best, but the worst powers that are now in control of Russia, at a moment when any mistakes we make today will have consequences for our entire history, and they are beginning to doubt us, despite themselves; they see that Russia is blind to her own interests and to the challenges that face her – or rather not Russia herself, but those who rule Russia.
This situation cannot be allowed to continue. In closing, I would like to say that, strange as it may seem, at present it is the government that is preparing the ground for revolution. The people do not want a revolution, but the government is taking every possible step to make as many people dissatisfied as it can, and is succeeding admirably. We are witnessing something unheard-of: a revolution from above, not from below.
Yours faithfully, Sandro.
Today I received a court ruling on a complaint filed by an officer from the criminal investigation department: ten days in jail and court fees:
"The accused is guilty of insulting an officer of the Palma police in word and deed on 22 September 1916 for shouting: "You are the most vulgar pig and mongrel for you to have no soul," and throwing a stamp at him."
Our nation has everything it needs, but is not able to make adequate use of its resources. The census has shown that the area of land under cultivation in 1916 was approximately 20-25% more than the area required to meet the needs of the population. Russia has enough grain resources to face the future with equanimity. If all this rich potential not being exploited, it is because the country lacks the appropriate organisation.
The work of the conference is dragging on to no purpose. No practical result has emerged from all the diplomatic verbiage. To take one example, we are trying to find a formula asking Japan to accelerate her assistance!
The technical munitions and transport committee alone is doing anything useful, but the requirements of the Russian General Staff exceed anything we had anticipated and its demands even exceed its requirements. To my way of thinking, it is not so much a matter of knowing what Russia needs as of ascertaining what she is capable of putting to good use. What point is there in sending her guns, machine-guns, shells and aeroplanes, which would be so valuable to us, if she has neither the means of getting them to the front nor the will to take advantage of them?