I had an interesting conversation with the commandantKorovichenko, commandant of the Alexander Palace. He is an idealist, a straightforward and honourable man. I admire that type of character. Kerensky, too. Both of them put their whole lives into their work. If his Majesty could rid himself of the cult of autocracy, which is as mystical as it is political, and surround himself with the forces of the nation, instead of the handful of rascals in whom he places his trust, everything could be different!
It is cold outside. I am not going out. There is no sign of spring leaves yet. I attended vespers and, as usual, it brought me some comfort.
For the most part, the intelligentsia is out of its depth - the great, humane Russian intelligentsia, that child of Pushkin and Herzen, Tolstoy and Chekhov. It has now become irrevocably clear that, with some rare exceptions, it is helpless in the matter of statesmanship.
Sasha left again to the front, lively and even cheerful, and I winced, so as not to cry.
This proclamation placed the Provisional Government and General Kornilov in an equivocal position, and the Government on the 9th made its protest in a statement issued to the Press to the effect that orders to the troops could only be issued by the Oommander- in-Ghief, General Kornilov. There was, however, little doubt whose orders the troops would obey if matters came to a trial of strength between the rival powers.
As Miliukov told me the day before yesterday, the French socialists, with Albert Thomas to lead them, are making a fine mess of it here!
Disconcerted by the insulting frigidity of the Soviet's attitude towards them, they are under the impression that they can soothe its susceptibilities and gain its goodwill by concessions, obsequiousness and flattery. See more
Their latest invention is to make the restitution of Alsace-Lorraine subject to a plebiscite. They are forgetting that Germany would hear nothing of a plebiscite in 1871, and they affect to be unable to see that an appeal to a popular vote which was organized by the German authorities would necessarily be fictitious, and that the condition precedent to a free vote would be the departure of the Germans across the Rhine---so that we must first win the war at any cost. They also seem to ignore the fact that France, in claiming Alsace-Lorraine, is simply asking that a wrong shall be redressed.
Russian society, by which I mean the highest society in the land, is a curious study at the present moment.
I have observed three currents of opinion, or rather three attitudes of mind, towards the revolution.
In principle, all the former clientèle of tsarism, by which I mean all families contributing, by virtue of birth or office, to the splendour of the imperial order, have remained loyal to the fallen sovereigns. But I have also observed that I hardly ever hear that loyalty expressed unless coupled with severe, acrimonious, angry and bitter criticisms of the weakness of Nicholas II, the errors of the Empress and the baneful intrigues of their camarilla.
As always happens when parties are ejected from power, infinite time is wasted over reminiscences of what has happened, the frantic search for scapegoats and the futile interchange of retrospective hypotheses and personal recrimination. In a political sense, this section, large though it is, will soon cease to count, because it lives on its memories more and more every day, and its only concern with the present is to smother it with sarcasm and invective.
Yet even in these social circles I occasionally derive a different impression, and usually at the close of some evening party when the place-hunters and feather-heads have gone and the conversation takes a more intimate turn. It is then that the possibility of enlisting under the new order is examined in discreet, studied and cautious terms. Is it not making a grave mistake not to support the Provisional Government? Are we not playing the game of the anarchists by refusing the present rulers the help of the conservative forces? Usually there is but a feeble response to this language, a fact which does not make it any less creditable and courageous; for it is inspired by the loftiest patriotism and dictated solely by the realization of public necessities and recognition of the mortal perils with which Russia is menaced. But, so far as I know, not one of those whom I have heard expressing this view has yet dared to cross the Rubicon.
In the higher ranks of society I detect a third attitude towards the new order.
To describe it fittingly would require nothing less than the amusing verve and acid pen of Rivard. I am alluding to the secret activities of certain salons, and the manœuvres of certain pridvorny, clever and ambitious officers or officials whom one sees haunting the antechambers of the Provisional Government, offering their help, cadging for jobs, impudently emphasizing what a valuable example their political conversion would be, speculating with calm effrontery in the prestige of their name and the undeniable worth of their administrative or military talents. Some of them seem to me to have done the turncoat business with remarkable speed and agility. As Norvins said in 1814, "I had no idea that snakes could change their skins so quickly." There is nothing like a revolution to lay bare the depths of human nature, to reveal the reverse of the social facade and show up what goes on behind the scenes of the political masquerade.
It was a cold day, but a little better and without snow. I took a walk and read for a while. During the day I went out with Tatiana. When we were about done working, a crowd of off-duty infantrymen from the guard came up to us and watched with curiosity as we took out the blocks of ice. At 6:30 we went to vespers. During the evening I read aloud from a book.