This year, Easter is running its course more smoothly than ever. Only now is it becoming clear that the coerciveness of autocracy had been ubiquitously palpable – even in the most unexpected areas of life. Last night I was in the vicinity of St. Isaac’s Cathedral.
The crowds were far much smaller than they usually are, and everything proved very orderly. As many people as possible were admitted into the church, while everyone else thronged freely in the square, there being no gendarme cavalry to sow panic in the crowd, and no fleets of high-society cars to get in people’s way.
Easter has arrived. I went to the Conservatory for the matins service. I always go there at Easter; this is a service I enjoy very much. This year, however, it proved somehow less festive than it usually is, although the Cross Procession did leave me in the most convivial, most joyous of moods.
All my thoughts were in Russia. We crossed the border in little Finnish sleighs. And now everything became dear and familiar – the ramshackle old third-class carriages, the Russian soldiers. Awfully lovely. It wasn’t long before Robert found himself in the arms of an elderly soldier: clasping him round the neck, he jabbered away to him in French and ate the sweet Easter cream-cheese that the soldier was feeding him. See more
We all pressed up close to the windows. The platforms of the stations we passed through were thick with soldiers. Leaning out of the window, Usievich shouted: “Long live the world revolution!” The soldiers stared at us, incredulous.
A pale-faced lieutenant walked past us several times, and when Ilyich and I moved into the neighbouring carriage, which was empty, he took a seat next to Ilyich and started up a conversation with him. The lieutenant was a defencist; Ilyich – terribly pale himself – defended his point of view. Meanwhile, the carriage gradually filled up with soldiers until it was full to bursting. They stood on their seats, the better to see and hear the man who was making such a coherent case against the predatory war. Their listened with growing attention, their expressions becoming ever tenser.
Let us pray for our infelicitous Tsar, who is spending Easter as a prisoner. And let us pray, too, for Aleksei Nikolaevich, the heir to the throne, and for the Tsar’s daughters Olga and Tatiana... But as regards the German – no, we shan’t pray for her.
A day of great joy, despite the human suffering. Wonderful weather, sunshine and clear skies redolent of Italy; twenty-three degrees in the sun. At twelve-thirty, we wished their majesties a happy Easter and began the egg-giving. The Emperor gave me an egg inscribed with his insignia; I shall keep it as a treasured souvenir. How few loyal supporters they have left!
According to the orthodox calendar, to-day is Easter Sunday. Not a single incident or innovation has marked Holy Week, except that the theatres, which formerly closed their doors for the whole of the last fortnight of Lent, remained open until last Wednesday.
To-night all the churches of Petrograd have celebrated the solemn office of the Resurrection with the usual splendour. See more
In the absence of the Metropolitan Pitirim, who is now a prisoner in his Siberian monastery, the pontifical mass was said at the Lavra of Saint Alexander Nevsky by Monsignor Tikhon, Archbishop of Yaroslavl, while the two episcopal vicars, Monsignor Ghennadius and Monsignor Benjamin, officiated at Saint Isaac and Our Lady of Kazan. The crowds which thronged these great cathedrals have been as large as in former years.
I paid a visit to Our Lady of Kazan and saw the same scenes as in the days of tsarism, the same majesty and magnificence, the same display of liturgical pomp. But never before had I beheld such an intense revelation of Russian piety. Nearly all the faces around me wore a positively thrilling look of fervent pleading or prostrate resignation. At the supreme moment of the office, when the clergy came through the iconostasis in a blaze of gold and the hymn of triumph, Praise to the Holy Trinity! Eternal Praise! Our Saviour Christ is risen! rang out, a wave of emotion swept over the worshippers. And while they embraced each other, in the customary fashion with murmurs of Christ is risen! I saw that many of them were dissolved in tears.
On the other hand, I am informed that in the working-class quarters of Kolomna, the Galernaïa and Viborg, several churches were practically empty.
The French socialist deputies and their English comrades were received by the Soviet this afternoon.
Their reception was frigid, so frigid that Cachin was completely taken back and thought it his duty to make any sort of negotiation possible, to "throw out ballast." This "ballast" was nothing less than Alsace-Lorraine, the restoration of which to France was not asserted as a right but presented simply as a contingency, subject to all sorts of conditions, such as a plebiscite.
If that is all the help our deputies have come to bring me, they would have been better advised to spare themselves the trouble of the journey!
At the same sitting of the Soviet, Plekhanov, who arrived from Paris at the same time as the French and English delegates, reappeared before a Russian Assembly for the first time after forty years of exile.
Plekhanov is a noble figure in the revolutionary party and the founder of Russian social democracy. From him the Russian proletariat heard the first appeals for union and organization. He was therefore given a triumphal reception when he arrived at the Finland Station the night before last, and the Provisional Government went to welcome him officially.
He was also greeted with cheers from all sides when he entered the Tauride Palace to-day. But when he spoke of the war, when he proudly claimed the title of socialist-patriot and declared that he would not submit to the tyranny of the Hohenzollerns any more than to the despotism of the Romanovs, there was a gloomy stillness around him and then mutterings could be heard on several benches.
Mass finished in an hour and forty minutes. We broke our fast with 16 other people. I laid down and went to sleep. The day became radiant, genuinely festive. In the morning I walked. Before breakfast, I gave — but without Alix — all our employees photographs of the eggs which were preserved from our former supply. See more
There were 135 people here during the day. We began to work at the bridge, but soon a large crowd of idlers began standing at the railings and we had to leave.It was boring to spend the rest of the time in the garden, Alexis and Anastasia went out into the air for the first time. At 7 o'clock vespers were held up above the playroom. After dinner I passed the time away until 11 o'clock. I read aloud to Tatiana. I went to bed early.
A party of Russians, which is now on its way to Petrograd, includes thirty who came through Germany in a sealed coach. Among principal members of the party is Lenin, radical socialist leader, and Zinovyof, another radical and peace advocate. Both are members of their party’s Central Committee and editors of party newspapers in Geneva as well as prominent figures in the Zimmerwald Congress. See more
Another member of the group is Mischa Zhakaya, one of the founders of the party in the Caucasus and the man who brought M. Tscheize, the Russian labor leader, into the party.
The fact that Russian peace agitators, chiefly extreme socialists, have been permitted to cross Germany from Switzerland seems to indicate that the German Government at least does not desire to throw any obstacles in the way of such a movement.
German correspondents on the Russian and Swedish frontiers report that the Russian Provisional Government intends to change the name of the capital back to St. Petersburg. The Government is said to have decided upon this “because Petrograd recalls to every Russian saddest time in Russian history”.