Our last day in Petrograd ! — and yet, in spite of all that we have gone through, we are sad at the thought. Why is it that Russia casts over all who know her such an indefinable mystic spell that, even when her wayward children have turned their capital into a pandemonium, we are sorry to leave it?
I cannot explain the reason, but we are sorry. This afternoon I paid a sorrowful farewell visit to my friend, the Grand Duke Nicholas Michailovich. Though he faces the future with his usual courage, and though he was as witty and charm- ing as ever, he has, I think, the presentiment that sooner or later his fate will be sealed. We both, indeed, felt that we should never meet again, and as I bade him good-bye he embraced me in the old Russian fashion, kissing me on both cheeks and on the forehead. (The Grand Duke Nicholas, his two brothers, and the Grand Duke Paul were shot by the Bolsheviks in the following summer.) Then, when I got back to the Embassy, I wrote a farewell minute thanking the members of my staff from my heart for their many services during those strenuous years of war and revolu- tion, and telHng them how warmly I appreciated the loyal support and the many proofs of personal attach- ment which they had given me. I have just received a charming note in reply which touched me very deeply, written by Lindley on their behalf. To-night we dine with Benjy Bruce, who, as head of the Chancery, has had to bear the burden and heat of the day. He had been my right-hand man throughout, always trying to spare me and to relieve me of as much work as possible, a true and devoted friend for whom I have a sincere affection.
Christmas Eve. I made gifts. Decorated the Christmas tree and laid out gifts.
By far the most important aspect of the Russian Revolution is as an attempt to realize Communism. I believe that Communism is necessary to the world, and I believe that the heroism of Russia has fired men's hopes in a way which was essential to the realization of Communism in the future. See more
Regarded as a splendid attempt, without which ultimate success would have been very improbable, Bolshevism deserves the gratitude and admiration of all the progressive part of mankind.
But the method by which Moscow aims at establishing Communism is a pioneer method, rough and dangerous, too heroic to count the cost of the opposition it arouses. I do not believe that by this method a stable or desirable form of Communism can be established. Three issues seem to me possible ?from the present situation. The first is the ultimate feat of Bolshevism by the forces of capitalism. The second is the victory of the Bolshevists accompanied by a complete loss of their ideals and a regime of Napoleonic imperialism. The third is a prolonged world-war, in which civilization will go under, and all its manifestations (including Communism) will be forgotten.
Snow is covering half of our windows now. And yet it isn’t a white Christmas - it’s a black one, a black one. The Constituent Assembly is scheduled for the 18th, but now they are openly stating in their newspapers that it’s “useless”, or should be their “clerk or servant”, or even “broken apart by a revolutionary force.” See more
I think that’s exactly what will happen. Although - who can tell right now. I’m not sure what the Socialist Revolutionaries will do: will they be dishonest or powerless? Chernov is capable of any sort of betrayal.
Our hosts sent fantastic dishes for our table on Christmas Eve.
Christmas Eve 1917: “You don’t know the everyday life - it’s all one big accident!”
The Orthodox priest is quite unlike the Catholic priest in Western Europe; he is himself typically a dirty and illiterate peasant with no power over the wills and consciences of his people. See more
There is no constructive quality in either peasant or Orthodoxy. For the rest there is a confusion of more or less civilised Russians, in and out of Russia, with no common political ideas and with no common will. They are incapable of producing anything but adventurers and disputes.
Today we had the first discussions with the Ukrainian delegates, all of whom were present except the leader. The Ukrainians are very different from the Russian delegates. See more
Far less revolutionary, and with far more interest in their own country, less in the progress of Socialism generally. They do not really care about Russia at all, but think only of the Ukraine, and their efforts are solely directed towards attaining their own independence as soon as possible. Whether that independence is to be complete and international, or only as within the bounds of a Russian federative state, they do not seem quite to know themselves.
Evidently, the very intelligent Ukrainian delegates intended to use us as a springboard from which they themselves could spring upon the Bolsheviks. Their idea was that we should acknowledge their independence, and then, with this as a fait accompli, they could face the Bolsheviks and force them to recognise their equal standing and treat with them on that basis. Our line of policy, however, must be either to bring over the Ukrainians to our peace basis, or else to drive a wedge between them and the Petersburgers. As to their desire for independence, we declared ourselves willing to recognise this, provided the Ukrainians on their part would agree to the following three points: 1. The negotiations to be concluded at Brest-Litovsk and not at Stockholm. 2. Recognition of the former political frontier between Austria-Hungary and Ukraine. 3. Non-interference of any one state in the internal affairs of another. Characteristically enough, no answer has yet been received to this proposal!
During the morning I was at the dentist's for half an hour. At 12 o'clock Mass was held in the hall. Up to the time of our walk we got the presents ready for everybody and decorated the Christmas tree. From tea time to 5 o'clock I Went out with Alexis to the guard barracks and got the tree ready for the 1st. See more
Platoon of the 4th Regiment. We sat with the guards and their replacements until 5:30. After dinner all the people came to see the Christmas tree, and we received them until 8 o'clock. Vespers was very late — they did not start until 10:30 because the priest did not have time to come earlier from services in the church. All the infantrymen who were off-duty were present.