Meanwhile the situation in London has changed. The British government has reconsidered its decision and declined to extend hospitality to the relatives of its own royal house for the duration of the war. Unfortunately, Sir George Buchanan did not immediately inform the provisional government of this decision, and it was still busy making preparations for Nicholas’s departure to England.
When they were completed, Tereshchenko asked Sir George to contact his government about when we could expect the arrival to Murmansk of a British cruiser that will take the royal family onboard. And only in this critical moment Sir George, with unconcealed sorrow, informed us that the arrival of the royal family to England is no longer considered desirable.
At night I was woken by the sound of someone's heavy breathing in my bedroom. Unfortunately, the lamp by my bed was not on (although the electricity had come back on). I asked who was there and heard some quiet steps and then the door of my dressing room closed. I jumped out of the bed, rushed into the dressing room and turned on the light. The room was empty, but when I opened the door to the corridor, I saw the figure of a soldier disappearing around the corner. The next morning I discovered that all of the gold and silver from my living room had been stolen.
Today I turned a whopping 26. Twenty seventh year—quite substantial. I had friends over today. I played them my new compositions—the Third Sonata and “Visions fugitives.”
I had Miliukov, Terestchenko, Konovalov and Neratov, in addition to my personal staff, to luncheon to-day to meet Albert Thomas.
The three Russian ministers affected to be optimistic. We discussed the formation of two parties in the Government which is becoming increasingly clear. With his usual good temper and great broad-mindedness, Miliukov gave his views about the differences of opinion that have arisen between Kerensky and himself. See more
Albert Thomas listened, questioned and said little except to express immense confidence in the Russian revolution and pay it an eloquent and admiring tribute.
When my other guests had left, Albert Thomas asked to have a talk with me privately in my own room. There he said in serious but friendly tones:
"Monsieur Ribot has given me a letter for you; he left it to my discretion when I should hand it over to you. I have much too high a regard for you not to give it you at once. Here it is."
It was dated the 13th April. I read it, without the slightest surprise or emotion.(1) When I had finished, I said to Albert Thomas:
"There is nothing in this letter with which I do not agree and which I do not highly appreciate. Until my departure, which it will be difficult for me to fix earlier than May 10th, I'll give you all the help in my power."
He shook my hand warmly and replied:
"I shall never forget how dignified your attitude has been, and it will be a pleasure to pay it a tribute in the telegram I am sending to the Government of the Republic to-day."
After drawing up a programme of visits and operations with me, he withdrew.
On several points on the front the Gennan soldiers are fraternizing with the Russians, and trying to complete the work begun by the Socialists by urging them to kill their officers. But, disquieting as is the state of the army, I fear that, were we to take collective action here and to threaten to stop the dispatch of all war material unless the subversive propaganda is at once suppressed, we should only be playing into the hands of the Socialists, who would contend that Russia, being left without munitions by the Allies, had no choice but to make peace. See more
Kerensky dined at the Embassy last night to meet Thorne and O' Grady, and in a long conversation I told him quite frankly why my confidence in the army, and even in the Provisional Government, was shaken. He admitted the accuracy of the facts which I cited, but said that he knew his people and that he only hoped that the Germans would not delay taking the offensive, as, when once the fighting began, the army would pull itself together. He wanted, he said, to make the war a national one, as it was in England and France. He saw no danger of the Provisional Government being overthrown, as only a small minority of the troops were on the side of the Soviet. He added that the Communistic doctrines preached by Lenin have made the Socialists lose ground.
It will be best for us, at present, to confine our action to individual representations on the part of the Allied Ambassadors. If the results of the fighting should show that the army has been demoralized, we must then have recourse to some collective action.
Tereschenko told me this morning that the Soviet has been so frightened by Lenin's anarchist speeches that they are becoming more amenable.
I had some conversation with him about Constantinople. He had, he said, never been a partisan of its permanent occupation by Russia, as it would prove a white elephant and have to be held by a large garrison. He would like to see it made an open port, over which Russia should be given some controlling power. He told me that I was wrong in supposing that Prince Lvoff, like Miliukoff, favoured annexation, but added — to my surprise — that the present Government was in some respects quite as nationalist as the late Imperial Government. There were, he then said, other Turkish provinces, like Armenia and Kurdistan, which were of vital interest to Russia. He evidently shares Kerensky's view that our agreements about Asia Minor ought to be considerably modified, and that the end and aim of all our arrangements about Asia Minor ought to be to bar all possibility of future German penetration. On my remarking that if Russia did not want Constantinople the sooner that she said so the better, he replied that it was not within the competence of the Provisional Government to abandon what Russia had been promised until they had ascertained the washes of the people on the subject.
Tereschenko is very intelligent and anxious to help us as regards the dispatch of the wheat and timber promised. I am on the best of terms with him, and am gradually also making friends with Kerensky, who was at first rather suspicious of my real sentiments about the revolution. Unfortunately, he can talk but little French, but when he dined at the Embassy, Lockhart (our consul-general at Moscow), who talks Russian fluently, acted as our interpreter, and we had a long and straight talk. He told me on leaving that our conversation would bear fruit. I was rather amused at his coming to dinner accompanied by his officier d'ordonnance, whom I had not invited. It was a curious proceeding on the part of a Socialist Minister who never wears anything but an ordinary workman's black jacket.
The day became cool. Alix's throat hurt a little, and she continued to have a cold. Olga is still in bed and Marie got up for a few hours. During the day I worked for a while with Tatiana between the bridges. The evening went as before.
The Society of the Friends of Russian Freedom, of which Herbert Parsons is President, has started fund for political exiles returning from Siberia.
Parsons, in a letter to The Times, said yesterday that Professor Paul Milukoff, Minister of Foreign Affairs in the new Government, upon being informed of the plans of the society, cabled his thanks. “Accept most heartily”, the Minister’s message to the society read in part. See more
“We believe that this plan will meet with immediate and generous response from a very large number of Americans, and that thus may be shown some small measure of the great esteem in which we hold the survivors of that host of men and women who have sacrificed their all for the cause that has at last triumphed”, Mr. Parsons wrote.
Hamilton Holt has been appointed the fund and Paul Kennedy as its Secretary. Both can be reached at 70 Fifth Avenue.