Empress's name day passed quietly. Instead of hundreds of telegrams, only 3: from M-me Komstadius, Tolstoy-Bekhteeva, and the sweetest Lily Obolenskaya, who sent a lovely letter by express mail. She has a noble heart. They were congratulating until the afternoon mass. During the day I went out; it was rather warm, despite the horrible wind.
I have already managed to succumb to sadness and apathy—I don't know why I exist and what will happen to me in the future. I am only silent days on end. How long have I not seen you, how boring and uncomfortable it is without you, and soon it will be old age. That’s how it is—you live with whom you don't want to live, and don't live with whom you want to live. It is very hard and bitter without you. What is this for? God be with you.
The bright wings of our fledgling freedom are sprinkled with innocent blood. I don't know who shot at the people on the Nevsky three days ago, but whoever these people were, these people are angry and stupid, people poisoned with the venom of the rotten old regime. See more
It is criminal and vile to kill each other now when we all have a perfect right to honestly argue and disagree with each other. Those who think otherwise are incapable of feeling and realising themselves to be free people. Killing and violence are arguments of despotism, vile arguments, and are powerless, because violating someone else's will, killing someone, does not mean killing an idea, proving an error of an idea, the falseness of an opinion.
Our women, lead by my Akitsia, are in some state of ecstasy over Kerensky, seeing in him almost an angel that have descended from the sky—and specifically an angel of peace. This enthusiasm is shared by our kitchen staff. See more
I remember how, half-joking, our girls asked Dunya, Motya, Katya, and especially the cook, Vera Grigorievna, “Who is our savior?” and they, with delight answered unanimously, “Kerensky!”
In the evening I left for Pskov, where at the time there was a meeting of army commanders, where were Alexeev, Ruzskiy and a slew of army representatives—army commanders and heads of staffs from the whole front. In Pskov we listened to reports from various commanders. The picture that emerged from this exceeded all my worst expectations. See more
I completely did not expect that there were things happening in the army that were openly reported by members of the commanding corps—fraternisation with the Germans, sale of arms, the unrestrained abandonment of the front that was starting. In other words, there was a complete breakdown of the army. No one could really suggest any kind of measures that could be taken to prevent this breakdown and to solve this difficult situation. In relation to the fact that a suggestion arose that ending the war would be the solution, I have to say that the majority opinion was that the war had to continue at all cost. I don’t remember any singular opinion about the end of the war and, to the contrary, the overall opinion was that we cannot end the war. So, the meeting only acknowledged the fact of the army breakdown, without creating any measures to fight it.
We travelled back to Crimes in misery. A crowd of soldiers-deserters besieged the train. The corridors became full, people climbed on the roof. The third-class car collapsed from the weight. Everyone was drunk, many fell off the roof en route. See more
The more south we went, towards Crimea, the more refugees packed the train. We were travelling in a destroyed sleeper car, eight in a compartment, including an old woman and two children. We were stuffed like herring in a barrel.
I have had a talk with the great metallurgist and financier, Pertilov; we exchanged gloomy forecasts of the inevitable consequences of present events.
"A Russian revolution," I said, "can only be disruptive and destructive. because the first effect of a revolution is to liberate popular instincts, and the instincts of the Russian people are essentially anarchic. Never before have I so well understood the prayer wrung out of Pushkin by Pugatchev's adventure: May God spare us the sight of another Russian revolution, a thing of horror and absurdity!" See more
"You're familiar with my views on the subject. I believe Russia is entering upon a very, very long period of disorder, misery and ruin."
After a moment's solemn silence, he continued with a very tense expression:
"Monsieur l'Ambassadeur, I'll answer your question with a Persian parable:
"In the plains of Khorassan there was once a great drought, from which the cattle suffered cruelly. A shepherd, seeing his sheep on the point of death, sought out a famous sorcerer and said to him: 'Thou art clever and powerful: canst thou not make the grass of my fields grow again?' 'Nothing easier,' replied the other. 'It will cost you only two tomans.' A bargain was struck on the spot, and the magician proceeded at once to his incantations. But neither on the next day nor the days following could the smallest cloud be seen in the sky; the ground became harder and harder; the sheep continued to starve and die. In his alarm the shepherd soon returned to the sorcerer, who overwhelmed him with words of comfort and counsels of patience. But the drought still continued and the ground became utterly baked up. Then the shepherd became desperate, rushed back to the sorcerer and asked him anxiously: 'Are you quite sure you can make the grass of my fields grow again?' 'Absolutely; I've done things far more difficult hundreds of times! I'll guarantee that your fields will be green again. But I cannot guarantee that between now and then your sheep will not all be dead.'
Wonderful weather presented itself for dear Alix. Before mass one of the men living in the palace and also our servants congratulated her. I ate, as always, alone. At 2 o'clock the whole family went out into the garden. We worked on the pond around the Children's Island. We broke up all the ice. We returned home at 4:30. I read to myself till dinner and in the evening read aloud. At 9 o'clock I started reading again.