Chairman of the State Duma Rodzianko barged his way into my presence with an endless stream of news, theories, and anti-dynastic plans. His audacity knew no limits, which, together with his obvious intellectual failings, gave him the air of a character straight out of Moliere.
My remark about 2 beautiful girls is a drama — fifty is only a chorus.
No matter how hard the authorities try to ban the baking of sweet pastries and cakes, throngs of customers continue to congregate at the city’s confectioners.
Judging by the quantities in which they devour them, the public’s appetite for sweets seems only to grow.
The janitor of the house was a negro. My wife paid him three months’ rent in advance, but he gave her no receipt because the landlord had taken the receipt-book away the day before, to verify the accounts. When we moved into the house two days later, we discovered that the Negro had absconded with the rent of several of the tenants. See more
Besides the money, we had intrusted to him the storage of some of our belongings. The whole incident upset us; it was such a bad beginning. But we found our property after all, and when we opened the wooden box that contained our crockery, we were surprised to find our money hidden away in it, carefully wrapped up in paper. The janitor had taken the money of the tenants who had already received their receipts; he did not mind robbing the landlord, but he was considerate enough not to rob the tenants. A delicate fellow, indeed. My wife and I were deeply touched by his consideration, and we always think of him gratefully. This little incident took on a symptomatic significance for me – it seemed as if a corner of the veil 211 NEW YORK that concealed the “black” problem in the United States had lifted.
I travelled to Tsarskoye Selo, having learned that the Emperor was currently in residence there. As a member of His Majesty’s retinue, I could expect to be granted an audience. Only two people were scheduled to be received by the tsar that day, and an audience was indeed promptly granted. Normally, the Emperor was all attention at debriefings, and I had assumed that an update about the situation on the Romanian front would spark his interest. It appeared to me, however, that, in this particular moment, his thoughts were preoccupied with completely different problems.
I had been instructed to report, for the information of the Imperial conference that was about to meet in London, as to the prospects of Russia continuing in the war; and, after consultation with Lord Milner, with whom it had been my privilege to work during his stay in Petrograd, I telegraphed to the Foreign Office on February 18 as follows: See more
"Though attacks are occasionally made on us in the reactionary gutter Press, the anti-British campaign has died out and Anglo-Russian relations were never better than at present. The Emperor, most of his Ministers and the bulk of the nation are all firm supporters of the Anglo-Russian Alliance. It may, indeed, be safely said that the mass of the people fully appreciate the enormous services which Great Britain is rendering with her fleet, her armies and her purse, and that it is to her that they look for the realization of their hopes of final victory.
It is more difficult to speak with precision on the question of Russia continuing in the war. The majority of the nation, including the Government and the army, are at one in their determination to fight it out to a victorious finish; but there' the national unity ends. The Emperor, the supreme factor, is deplorably weak; but the one point on which we can count on his remaining firm is the war, more especially as the Empress, who virtually governs Russia, is herself sound on this question. She is not, as is so often asserted, a German working in Germany's interests, but a reactionary, who wishes to hand down the autocracy intact to her son. It is for this reason that she prompts the Emperor to choose, as his Ministers, men on whom she can rely to carry out a firm policy quite regardless of their qualifications ; but in so doing she is acting as the unconscious tool of others, who really are German agents. While the latter are doing all they can to press on the Emperor a policy of reaction and repression, they are at the same time preaching revolution to his subjects in the hope that Russia, rent by internal dissensions, will be forced to make peace. The Emperor, by allowing Protopopoff to take measures directly calculated to provoke disturbances, has played into their hands. Protopopoff, as Minister of the Interior, has appointed to posts in his own and other Government departments reactionaries who are as corrupt as they are incompetent ; he has virtually vetoed all public meetings, notably those of the Union of Zemstvos, and has tried but failed to dissolve the latter altogether; he is working for the dissolution of the Duma, restricting the liberty of the Press and re-estab- lishing the preliminary censorship. His latest move has been to arrest a dozen of the workmen's representatives in the industrial war committees. There would already have been an explosion were it not for the fact that the Duma is so conscious of the gravity of the situation that it will do nothing to compromise the success of the war. Though the workmen are greatly incensed at the arrest of their representatives, high wages, combined with patriotism, have so far averted strikes.
Should there be a shortage of food supplies, strikes will inevitably follow ; and it is the economic rather than the political situation that causes me anxiety. If only it was a question of the latter, the final settlement might be post- poned till after the war; but the former is an ever-present danger. It may at any moment fan the smouldering political discontent into a flame, with results that will seriously pre- judice the cause of the war. On the railways the reserve stock of fuel has fallen so low that on one line there is said to be only enough for a few days, and many people fear that, even if the reserve stocks are temporarily replenished, the shortage will again make itself felt when once the regular traffic, which is at present reduced to a minimum, is resumed. Many munition factories have already been temporarily closed owing to want of fuel and raw materials, and the danger of a shortage of supplies, both for the army and the towns, cannot be altogether excluded.
I would sum up the situation as follows : Although the Emperor and the majority of his subjects are bent on fight- ing out the war to a finish, Russia will not, in my opinion, be able to face a fourth winter campaign if the present situa- tion is indefinitely prolonged. On the other hand, Russia is so rich in natural resources that there would be no cause for anxiety were the Emperor to entrust the conduct of the war to really capable Ministers. As it is, the future is a sealed book. The "political or the economic situation may have some disagreeable surprise in store for us, while the financial situation may be compromised by repeated issues of paper money. Russia, however, is a country that has a happy knack of muddling through, and my only hope is that she will be able to hold out to the end if we continue to give her the necessary assistance".
Attended a symphonic concert at the local National Theatre. An evening of Greig. In the hall of the university I marveled at the works of my beloved Munch (a Norwegian artist). An atmosphere of aestheticism, art and beauty reigns in Norway, which comes as great relief after the earthy and business spirit of America! Yet still I have come to appreciate America. I saw her close up and learnt to appreciate her.
How precious to me is every scrap of news I receive from Moscow. You start to understand the Chinese, who are said to sew a handful of earth into the soles of their shoes upon leaving home so as always to walk upon native soil. We’re doing a great deal of work at the moment. Mikhail Fedorovich’s ballet will soon be arriving here in Rome before transferring to Paris, Spain and South America. It’s a series of Russian pieces, so each act is a separate ballet – there’s no common storyline connecting them, and they develop completely independently from one another.
Dear Mark Timofeyevich,
From the enclosed you will see that Nadya is planning the publication of a Pedagogical Dictionary or Pedagogical Encyclopaedia.
I am strongly in favour of this plan because, in my opinion, it fills a very serious gap in Russian pedagogical literature; it will be a very useful work and will provide an income, which for us is extremely important.
With the increase in the number of readers and the broader circles involved, there is now a quickly growing demand for encyclopaedias and similar publications. A properly compiled Pedagogical Dictionary or Pedagogical Encyclopaedia will become a handbook and go through a number of editions.
I am sure Nadya can do this because she has been working in pedagogy for years, has written about it and has undergone systematic training. Zurich is an exceptionally convenient centre for work of this kind; it has the world’s finest pedagogical museum.
By some kind of miracle, Moscow’s restaurants continue to be able to get their hands on things that, for most people in Moscow, are unimaginable luxuries. Do you wish to eat the finest meat on fasting days? Well, you can, for ten times the price of course. Pining for wine? They have cellars full of the best sorts, only at shocking prices: from 25 to 75 roubles a bottle. They even have cognacs for 400 roubles. The leading restaurateurs have flour, and butter, and cream. These are the sorcerers of our times, and every first-class restaurant is like a state within a state with fine white tablecloths as the flags of their sovereignty. It’s enough to make one cry for our dear Russia.
Donate to the bathhouses in the trenches. Malyi Gnezdnikovskii Lane, Building 12, Apartment 5. Telephone: 2-05-87.