Diaries and Letters - Letters of Felix and Zenaida Yussupov
[The postmark on the envelope is 3-XI-16.]
The cold is appalling. A snowstorm is raging, the wind is terrible, and the temperature has reached 7'. What a horrible change after the Crimea.
I have only just returned from Aunt's sister [the Grand Duchess Elizabeth]. She is very gloomy, and pins her faith to Medvedev [Rodzianko].. His conversation has made a great impression upon everyone, including her.
The debates in the House [the Duma] were of a very unpleasant nature, with the result that most people expect it to be prorogued.
Please ask Irina to send me a telegram whenever you receive a letter from me.
The Perovs are very much upset at the theft of their lions, and met me with funereal faces.
I travelled fairly well; we had Voevodsky (a cavalry guardsman) with us; the three of us beguiled the time in each other's company; there was no mention of the past, thank God! Voevodsky is only just back from the front. According to him the general moral is excellent.
This time I left in quite a different mood from that which affected me on my departure from Tsarskoe. I beg YOU not to worry. Believe me, everything that I told you is absolutely true, and even if I am subject to temporary fits of insanity (as you call them) the good in me is nevertheless sure to conquer the bad.
I am now about to leave for the train.
With love to everybody,
I was very pleased with Grimm's speech in the other House [The Council of State].
I am just back from the Corps. Matters there have been settled entirely to my satisfaction. I have been transferred to the infantry, and have been granted leave of absence from duty; and the final exams. are to take place in February. Revisions are in full swing at present, so that I spend most of my free time at home cramming. with Vogel. I settled here because I find life in the upper part of the Moika house frightfully dull all by myself. The downstairs rooms are ready, although the upholstery has not yet arrived. I work and dine here also. I live downstairs in the guest chambers. Nobody disturbs me here and I am very comfortable.
I went to see Medvedev [Rodzianko] twice; he asked me to tell you that he misses you very much at present He tells us many things of interest about his house. Aunt [The Empress] has transgressed the limits of all that can be imagined; she flatly refuses to dismiss Uncle Boria [Sturmer, President of the Council] and insists on Pontin [Rasputin] being allowed to go out, although the doctor told her that this course of action might imperil his life. The doctor has consequently been dismissed, since he, categorically forbade Pontin to leave the house.
As I have just heard that Sereja is leaving in two days time for the Crimea, I shall send this letter by him. In this way it will at least not get lost.
Medvedev cannot realise how powerful G. [Grigory: Rasputin] is; he does not believe in hypnosis and regards the whole thing as the outcome of vice, etc. He is too narrow-minded, too spoilt by his position, too full of his own importance, and as obstinate as a drove of mules.
He asked Uncle [The Tsar] to receive him before the opening of the House. His request was refused. Now that he has been elected for the second time, he has again sent in a request to be received, but has so far had no reply. Miliukov [Liberal leader] read out in the House some cuttings from German newspapers, which said that Aunt was surrounded by people whose influence was sure to be in their (the Germans') favour, and that peace would soon be concluded.
I am writing this letter amidst interruptions.
Yesterday I again spent the evening with Medvedev. He gave me a paper, which I enclose.
An important conference is taking place at Uncle's. There is a widely-spread rumour that the House will be prorogued. Pontin has been forcibly confined to his house - in short, the situation seems desperate. Everybody is anticipating events of the gravest importance.
Medvedev's wife is greatly agitated, as there is talk of her husband's being appointed to Uncle Boria's [Sturmer's] post, but I don't believe it. There is also a rumour that Sharrova's Ivyroubova's] father is being appointed to a high office.
News has just reached me that the assembly in the House, which had been fixed for Friday, has been postponed till the 15th.
I shall see Grus [a children's doctor] to-night.
Korneiev [the family steward] is working at the income tax. He has promised to submit the returns to me in a few days time.
The weather is shocking-cold, damp, and rainy. How are Irina [his wife] and Baby? Write to me a little more often.
I kiss you and father,
The Grand Duchess's maid leaves to-day, so I am sending this letter by her.
20th Nov., 1916.
Many thanks for your long letter. I am still under the impression of yesterday's sitting in the Duma. I got there by taking great risks, as I changed into civilian clothes. But my interest in all that is taking place has overcome my sense of expediency.
You will know everything by now, as the Retch published the whole proceedings. Trepov [President of the Council] found himself in an idiotic position; he was five times prevented from speaking. Pourishkevitch's speech was remarkable. He created an overwhelming impression. He is obviously not very conversant with the facts, as he imagines that everything can be saved by making Uncle [The Tsar] realise the situation. He attacked Voeikov lCourt Commandant] furiously about his Kouvakoi [mineral water factory], Bobrinsky's speech was directed against Protopopov [Minister of the Interior], who is to be dismissed. Aunt is at home with, Uncle, and rumour says that she is chewing the carpets with exasperation. Trepov's speech proved to be very superficial, it inspired no confidence whatsoever.
Uncle Misha [Rodzianko] was magnificent. He growled. the whole time while flourishing his bell. Imagine the impertinence - Mimishka [Vyroubova] was sitting in the front row of the Ambassadors' box next to Paleologue [French Ambassador]. What confounded insolence!
The family intend sending Uncle [the Tsar] a protest signed by every member. I don't think this will be of any use.
Medvedev came back from Uncle in a very sombre mood - he told him everything in a most curt manner, and was asked: "You take me for a traitor too?" What do you think of that? I cannot imagine how all this will end. We live on a volcano; the same thoughts pass and repass in our minds.
I am going to the Medvedevs now.
Here I am back again after my visit. Protopopov refuses to leave office, declaring that public persecution will only serve to increase Uncle's and Aunt's love for him. Medvedev gave me a comprehensive account of his conversation with Uncle. He put everything before him with all the details, and in a fairly pressing manner, not disguising the gravity of the situation. He spoke fairly openly about Aunt, urging the necessity of removing her before it was too late. It is impossible to say more than he did. He was given no answer. Silence. The only reply vouchsafed him was the question which I have quoted above. Medvedev is completely shaken.
Soukhotin's brother is coming down to your sanatorium in a few days. I shall send a letter by him. In the meantime my mind dwells upon the same thoughts, etc.
The weather is disgusting; dark, foggy, damp, and rainy. Our rooms will be ready by the i5th of December; not all of them, but enough to make life possible. The place upstairs is in utter disorder.
With many, many kisses,
8th Dec., 1916.
For the last three days I have not succeeded in finding the Medvedevs at home, but I have seen Pourishkevitch several times, and we have become great friends.
He came to see me twice, and on each occasion stayed for nearly three hours. He apparently thinks that sitting with me is no waste of time. He is a remarkably pleasant and decent fellow, who looks at things from the same point of view as we do.
All that is taking place here now is an unmitigated horror. This state of affairs cannot endure much longer.
Uncle [the Tsar] says that on the ist of January he will effect a general clearance of the Council of State, against which he is deeply incensed. He allows no mention of Medvedev or the Duma.
The sister [the Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna Romanov] came from Moscow with the idea of offering advice, but, naturally, failed.
I am tremendously relieved at the thought of your being in the Crimea. Spending the holidays here is nothing short of a nightmare.
The idea of peace is used merely as "bluff," in order to serve as justification for some new atrocities.
Jeloudkov is guarding Valide [the Empress] like Cerberus, and he is so far still holding his post. Poor K.A., I am frightfully sorry for her!
I find it difficult to answer your letter in detail: moreover my head is so full of everything that I cannot express my thoughts.
What a pity it is that Irina and Baby have fallen ill! But at least you stayed with them. I was very much afraid that you might leave, and that Baby would be moved to Ai-Todor.
I hardly ever see anybody; all my free time is spent on the Moika, discussing business with Korneiev [the family steward], or in arranging our new quarters-they will be very pretty. I am sorry that you cannot assist me.
Elena has arrived. I dined with her, saw Misha (who has already left) and Aunt Sasha Miliutina, who is again leaving in a few days time with her train.
My revision work is so far quite satisfactory.
I can hardly endure the suspense of waiting for the end. I shall naturally keep to myself everything that you write about Baby and Irina.
With fond kisses to all of you,
I can just imagine the hustle and bustle of the departure
The Letters of Princess Z. N. Yussoupov to F. F. Yussoupov junior.
18th Nov., 1916.
MY DEAR FELIX,
I am not in the least surprised to hear that Medvedev came back in a gloomy mood. I am quite certain that Valide [the Empress] has spoilt everything - she has retained l'interieur [Protopopov], as he is a reader of the pamphlet [i.e., a friend of Rasputin's], and because she realises that without him the latter would be in danger of being suppressed. Tell Uncle Misha that nothing can be done unless the book [Rasputin] be destroyed and Valide tamed. He should have demanded the banishing of the book from the capital. That is imperative; yet Medvedev will not understand it because he does not believe in the continuous spreading of its influence! It would be a fearful mistake to appoint . . . [illegible], the brother of Evgeny Sergeievitch; he is well known for his foreign sympathies, and is altogether not a very estimable sort of man.
Lily Naryshkina has received her due in the Medvedevs' conversation.
With fond love,
Pourishkevitch's speech is full of sincerity, and is in my opinion more powerful than all the others only owing to having heen delivered hy Pourishkevitch. We do not know what effect it has had there [with the Tsar and Tsaritsa]. Write to us, and wire all that you can. We are frightfully interested. Bobrinsky's speech was magnificent. Can. Protopopov possibly remain in office after all that has taken place? Maklakov spoke very well also. In a word, everyone was right, even the Left parties.
Markov's outburst is entirely incomprehensible to me. If it was done at the instigation of Valide's friends, as YOU suggest in your letter, what was the sense of provoking an entirely contrary result, since it is quite obvious that the Duma was bound to meet the charge, and raise Uncle Misha's prestige still higher. There is nevertheless in Markov's speech a great deal of truth, except in that part of it where he defends the government. But he has acted like a scoundrel. This outburst of his is unpardonable. Poor Uncle Misha ! I can imagine how taken aback he must have been! I hope that it has had no bad effect upon his health. He has to endure so much with his weak heart.
When I heard that you had visited the House [the Duma], I said at once that you had had to change. Nobody would believe it here, and when your letter came Papa was very much disconcerted. He did not like it, and I quite agree with him. If you were not a member of a military institute it might be permissible, but as things are it is to be deprecated, and there may still be some unpleasantness in store for you, when your behaviour comes to the knowledge of the Corps de Pages. Let us hope that you escaped this time. But for Heaven's sake don't take any more such risks.
The family's protest, of which you write, is a belated measure. It might have had some effect a year and a half ago, when I went to the Yelagin Island, imploring the family to do it; but now such an action would look like fear of the Duma. But then everything could have been saved. Now there is no alternative but a responsible ministry, and if we are not granted one, the Germans will get what they are striving after, and Wilhelm will gain his victory! That is how I look at things. And to think that all this could so easily have been averted, and that they are themselves cutting down the branch on which they are sitting. . . . Protopopov and Kourlov [Assistant Minister of the Interior] must go; then it will be easier to settle the two other questions of which I spoke above.
I am sending this letter by Serega, and am writing another dealing with our own personal affairs which can go by post, and which has nothing to fear from the censor.
With much love, MAMMA.
Why is Pitirim [the Metropolitan] silent, and what has happened to him ?
11th Dec., 1916.
Why is it that you have not told us anything about the shocking episode in connection with S. Vassilchikova? I am surprised that society has not shown its disapproval, and that none of the ladies have declared their sympathy with her. Will no protest be made? Will society swallow the insult [i.e., her banishment from Petrograd] and maintain a servile silence? That would be a disgrace! I am sorry that I am not in Petrograd! should not have countenanced such indifference. Here they are quite glad that I am not, since they know what I should be capable of doing, were I on the spot ! But I am simply exasperated, boiling over with agitation, and cursing the circumstances in which I live, and which tie me hand and foot.
And simultaneously with this disgraceful banishment of Princess V., Rubinstein [a notorious swindler and spy] and company are again set at liberty. . . It is incomphensible to me!
Volkov arrived a few days ago, he lunched with us to-day. He is huge, much taller than Papa. He asked many questions about you-among other things he said that the revision work of your past courses must be put to your credit, that he had gone through the same experience, and that all his past Work was taken into consideration. According to him, this can easily be managed.
I am expecting Soukhotin in the hope of getting your letter at last, and the powders for Baby. She is better, thank Heavens, and able to go out into the fresh air. Irina is thinking of getting up in a few days time, and of coming here. I am very glad that she stayed at Ai-Todor, she has a better time there; while Baby has more room to play about in here.
I do not like the celebrated "sister" [the Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna Romanov]. In my opinion, she poses most impudently as a member of the family. She calls Irina by her Christian name, and evcn "Tata"! I strongly object to her behaviour. When I visit Irina I constantly find her there, lounging in a chair, without in the least understanding that her presence does not interest me. She sports a kind of operatic costume of a Sister of Mercy, and generally spoils the whole atmosphere by her presence. Irina seems to accept it all as inevitable, whereas I simply cannot stand it. You will see for yourself soon, when you come home. In the meantime,
I send you my best love,
I have been all over Yalta in search of presents to put on to the Christmas Tree. One can really get everything, but the prices are so outrageous that we have decided to ask you to bring the presents with you. For instance, a cigar-holder which used to cost fifteen roubles at Morozov, costs here forty-three roubles.
Letter of Princess Irina Alexandrovna to her Husband, Prince F. F. Yussoupov.
Begun in Koreiz, continued in Ai-Todor.
25th Nov., 1916.
Many thanks for your mad letter. I could not understand half of it, but I can see that you are preparing for some wild action. Please, be careful, and don't mix yourself up in any bad business. My chief objection is that you have decided upon everything without consulting me. I don't see what use I can be now once everything has been fixed. That is disgusting of you. Who is this M. Gol [Golovina, one of Rasputin's "admirers "] ? This is what you write about him: "For this reason I frequently see M. Gol and him." I have just understood what these words mean, and who the people are, this very minute while I was writing. In a word, be careful! I can see by your letter that you are wildly enthusiastic, and ready to climb up walls.
I intend going to Kiev with Mamma. She will probably go on the 6th or 7th of December; on the 12th or 13th I shall be in Petrograd. Don't you dare to do anything without me, or I shall not come at all!
Thanks for the "Sphinx."
The things are very pretty. The collars are, of course, of no use whatever.
[No formal ending.]
Telegrams of the Grand Duke Nicolai Mikhailovitch Romanov to Prince F. F. Yussoupov, senior.
[Sent after the assassination of Rasputin.]
(I) Koreiz. To Adjutant-General Prince Yussoupov.
From Petrograd. 19th December, 1916.
I consider your arrival here most desirable. I see Felix daily; he is calm, collected, makes an excellent impression upon me. Kind regards to the Princess and to Irina. Come.
(2) Koreiz. To Adjutant-General Prince Yussoupov.
From Petrograd. 19th December, 1916.
I am glad of your arrival. Shall tell you what I possibly can en route. The body [of Rasputin] was found this morning under the ice near the Petrovsky Bridge. Felix is calm; I often see him. Au revoir.
(3) Koreiz. To Adjutant-General Prince Yussoupov.
From Petrograd, the Winter Palace. 20th December, 1916.
No. 128. It has not been decided yet when Felix may leave, hence I consider your presence here desirable. The Princess and Irina can wait in the Crimea. I shall give you my opinion in writing.
The Letters of Anna Nicolaievna Rodzianko to Princess Zinaida Nicolaievna Yussoupova.
1st December, 1916.
I send you Pourishkevitch's speech.
I had intended writing to you long ago, but our agitated life does not allow me a minute of leisure for letter-writing. There is nothing pleasant to say about our existence: the whole country is in a ferment; it declares loudly and unanimously, through the Duma, the Council of State, and even through the united nobility, that the fatherland is in danger, that the power is in the hands of dark forces and irresponsible persons, that the disorganisation among the administrative authorities is complete, that the army and civil population are in danger of being left without the most essential supplies. It receives for answer to these cries of despair only silence, expressions of benevolence towards Swriner (he has been invited to Livadia), the confirmation of Protopopov in his post, and rumours of the appointment of Taneiev [Vyroubova's father] to the post of Koulomzin [President of the Council of State]. Everything - all appointments, changes, the fate of the Duma, the negotiations for peace, are in the hands of a mad German [the Empress] and of Rasputin, Vyroubova, Pitirin, and Protopopov. The abominable outburst of Markov [who abused Rodzianko, in the Duma] was paid for by Protopopov with the sum of 10,000 roubles.
They calculated upon a fight and a scandal, which would have entailed the proroguing of the Duma. God helped Misha [Rodzianko] to acquit himself nobly in a difficult situation, and to meet the dirty provocation of the government with the dignity of a man of honour; but you can easily judge for yourself what all this stir has cost him in nerve-power, and how it has affected his health. Felix has written to you about Misha's report at the Stavka: it lasted for an hour and three-quarters; this time he spoke in greater detail and with more emphasis about the interference of Alex. Feod. [the Empress] and Rasputin in affairs of State, of the whole country's hatred for both of them, of,the appalling condition of the State in all its departments, of the government's inactivity, and finally of the danger threatening the army and of the ever-increasing dissatisfaction among the ranks.
Misha spoke with warmth, emotion, and convictionhe [the Tsar] sat silently, smoking and inspecting his nails. We are told that he is as indifferent as ever; he does not read the stenographic reports of the Duma or the Council, will listen to nothing, and refuses to receive any deputations from these two institutions.
Most people are afraid that Rasputin might hasten the conclusion of peace, regardless of the Allies, now that the official communique's suggesting peace negotiations with Germany and Austria have been published. Anything is possible. The French and English Ambassadors have complained to Misha that they find difficulty in obtaining audiences, and that Germany, with A. F.'s [the Empress's] complicity, is influencing the Tsar against the Allies.
Never has Russia lived through such dark days, or seen such unworthy representatives of the monarchy. Let us pray and hope that God will save the long-suffering country, and that the blood of our martyrs at the front will cry out for vengeance to the throne of the Almighty.
With many kisses,
Misha thanks you for your letter and sends you his love.
24th Dec., 1916.
MY DEAR, DEAR ZINAIDA,
My thoughts are continually with you during this terrible time, and we have both been deeply concerned about everything that has happened to you within the last week. God is merciful : the worst is over. I was inexpressibly glad to hear that Felix has left Petersburgjust at present it is better to be away from this fetid capital. It is very difficult to say much in a letter, but you will understand what is happening here, and how we look upon events. Surely Grandmother [the Tsar's mother] will come in the endeavour to do something for you. He [the Tsar] is completely browbeaten and incapable of doing anything, while she and her agent - the equally mad Pr[otopopov] - are ruining us all.
The situation is very serious indeed, and the family is exceedingly anxious. To-day Misha saw many of Irina's relations. They fully realise that our only hope of safety lies in the Duma. Misha is quite calm, thank God, and clearly sees his duty to our Fatherland. I can only pray the God may support and enlighten us, and show us how to lead our country out of the present impasse. In spite of the darkness which envelops us, I am firmly convinced that we shall emerge victorious from the struggle with the external as well as with the internal enemy. "Holy Russia" cannot perish in the hands of a set of mentally deranged and depraved people; too much noble blood has been shed in defence of the glory and honour of Russia for the powers of darkness to prevail.
May Christ take you under His protection, my dear Zinaida, in your sorrow for Russia's fate. I kiss you tenderly, and love you with all my heart. Pray for Misha.
7th Jan., 1916.
My heart is going out to you, and in spirit I share all your troubles. I sent one of my letters to you through our senior doctor in Kiev at the advice of Felix, and another by post addressed to Rakitnoe. To-day I take the opportunity of a sure and safe intermediary in order to write to you with greater frankness and detail. I shall say nothing of our own life here ; you must know how terrible the atmosphere is in which we live, and how difficult is Misha's position. He is the only one capable of fighting the forces of darkness; all the scared inhabitants, from the Grand Dukes downward, come to him for advice or information. "When will the revolution break out?" is the question which is being asked with constant reiteration. The postponement of the session of the Duma is quite fortunate: it will permit the Tsar to take counsel and to adopt some suitable measures, especially when he has, had a conversation with Misha, and the consultation with Samarin [Procurator of the Synod], which is to take place on the 9th.
Misha has been at Tsarskoe-Selo to-day, where he spoke so forcibly and convincingly that he has disturbed and frightened the Tsar. He described to him the entire disintegration of the government, dwelt upon the crime of appointing unworthy persons to offices of state, upon theinsults which are hourly meted out to all classes of the nation from the highest to the lowest, the impunity and freedom enjoyed by reprehensible and pernicious persons who are influencing Russia's fate through the Empress, and who are openly pushing us towards a dishonourable separate peace.
This is like the return of old times, when the liberty of the subject was at the mercy of the arbitrary ruler. Monstrous and disquieting rumours are spreading everywhere; the cause of all national disorder (sic), the persecution of honest Russians, the appointment of notoriously criminal or incapable men - all these things are attributed to the influence of the Empress, and hatred of her has reached such dimensions that she is in danger of her life. The general ferment is, growing daily, and the State is faced with imminent destruction unless some measures are adopted to grapple with the situation.
He [the Tsar] was told everything - Misha painted things in their true colours, with the result that, as on the former occasion in 1915, he was disturbed and compelled to believe. As regards the incident with Protopopov, and Misha's being deprived of Court rank, he said: "No, never ; I trust you too much." Can there be hypocrisy and pretence behind all this? Misha's voice sounded so convincing and so sincere; he prayed so fervently before setting out on his journey; he has such faith in the sanctity of his duty to the country, that his words must have been inspired, and they could not have failed to make an impression. I hope and pray that God may enlighten this unhappy man [the Tsar]. Samarin will speak in the same strain on behalf of the nobility, pointing out the harm which is being done by A. F. and her protege. Protopopov is quite mad and cannot possibly last for long; it seems to me that his encounter with Misha, and the fact that he quietly settled down after having insulted him, refusing to accept Misha's challenge or send his seconds, has lowered him in the Tsar's estimation. The Tsar laughed when Misha told him that he now thought himself justified in giving Protopopov a thrashing. But when mention was made of her [the Empress], he grew pale and silent. He is terrified of her, and without assistance he will not be able to save us from her pernicious influence.
The Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovitch came to see Misha a little while ago on some mysterious mission; I think he was secretly sent by his brother. He knows and understands everything, attentively listened to all that Misha had to say and promised to inform the Emperor and to prevail upon him to see Misha and Samarin. It is more than likely that the audience was granted after the second application owing to M. A.'s expostulations, although of course the application was very strongly worded.
. . . "In the hour of trial through which our country is now passing, I consider it my duty as a loyal subject and as President of the State Duma, fully to report to you the dangers which are threatening Russia. I fervently beg Your Majesty to allow me to present myself in order to submit my report." Will not this cry of a devoted patriot reach his heart and his understanding? Misha has instructed me to tell you that he thanks you for your letters but that he is unable to reply at present: he is terribly sorry for all of you, but he has absolutely no time to write. He is constantly in demand, and has to fight against numberless tiresome details as well as to attend to his important business. His health is very poor - this unremitting nervous strain could not fail to affect his general condition, but I am thankful to say that he is now undergoing a serious cure, and I hope that the electric treatment will do him good.
I shall be very glad to hear from you: how you are, how you feel and what news there is. Tell Felix that I have received his letter and that I thank him for it. We were very anxious about him, and were overjoyed to hear from Trina that you have all safely met in the country.
I can give you some details about D. P.'s [the Grand Duke Dmitry Pavlovitch] place of destination, which I have learnt through Countess Bobrinsky ("Missy") who has just come back from the Persian front: the weather there is delightful at present, the air is warm, everything is in bloom, there are no epidemics, and the troops will do all in their power to guard him from danger.
Poor Nic. Mikh. [the Grand Duke Nicolai Mihailovitch] has left in a furious rage. George asked me to convey to you his sincerest commiserations. The battalion drank his health in champagne. We expect Nicola to arrive from Yassy and Misha from the country. I envy you sitting in the quiet; far removed from all rumours, gossip and anxiety.
I kiss you tenderly. May God protect you all.
When Misha mentioned the words "forces of darkness" the Tsar said: "But there are none left now" - "No, but things have not improved generally." She [the Empress] visits the grave [of Rasputin] daily, and always finds it couverte d'ordures.
12 February. MY DEAR ZINAIDA,
On the 10th Misha went to Tsarskoe, where an audience was granted him the day after he applied for one. We happily regarded this a good omen, but facts did not bear out our expectations. Misha was met with a harsh, aggressive manner, an unfriendly strident tone, hostile menacing looks. The Tsar listened impatiently and with obvious annoyance to Misha's report, which graphically described the condition of the country, the approaching famine in the rear and in the army, the attitude of the government towards the people, the inertia of the authorities and the anxiety of all right-minded men. At last he interrupted Misha's reading (it was a written report) with the words: "Hurry up, I have no time to spare." Misha replied: "Your Majesty, you must allow me to finish," and continued reading. To Misha's inquiry whether the rumours with regard, to the imminent dissolution of the Duma had any foundation, he replied: "The session will probably last till Easter, but it all depends upon you; if there are no indecent rude outbursts against the government, the Duma will not be prorogued. "Misha: "There are sure to be some hostile outbursts - I shall not be able to restrain 400 men who have so much just cause to be bitter against a government which is represented by such men as Protopopov, Dobrovolsky, and Raiev."
Further, when Misha requested the dismissal of Protopopov, who is discrediting Russia by his treasonable behaviour, who is defamed in the eyes of the world as a liar and deceiver, and as a man who proved himself incapable of defending his honour after his encounter with Misha, the Tsar replied evasively ; he merely quoted Maklakov's words: "I am very sorry to lose him; he was useful to me." Sasha has offered to make a copy of the report for YOU, as I should not have enough time to do it; I am constantly interrupted - frequently only for the sake of trifles.
When Misha touched upon the affairs of the Front, and was preparing to read out another very interesting and comprehensive account, the Tsar waved him aside with the words: "I know all there is to know; your information contradicts the facts as I know them."
I hear that Gourko [Acting Chief of the General Staff] is returning to his Corps, and Alexeiev, who is not very well, has again taken over his duties as Chief of Staff. Nobody knows when the Tsar is going back to the Stavka [G.H.Q.] ; she is laid up with heart attacks. Misha went away under the impression that no words or exhortations can have any effect now; they are too sure of having right on their side, and too convinced that the country must be ruled with an iron fist.
I am continuing on the 15th, after the sitting of the Duma. It passed off quietly, thank God; the mobs in the streets behaved well in spite of Protopopov's provocation - [a display of machine-guns], chiefly owing to preventive measures adopted by Misha and other deputies.
You will see all the details in the papers. The general tone of the assembly seemed a little dull, after all that was expected from this nerve-racking day, but so much the better: the, slightest spark might kindle the fire. The streets are filled with police detachments, and patrols are everywhere in the expectation of the revolution. Bread has, fortunately, appeared to-day in large quantities, which fact has had a calming effect upon the population, especially as supplies have been very scarce for the last few days. A forcible speech was delived by Miliukov, and a fiery one by Kerensky - the latter was allowed to finish his oration with only occasional interruptions when he was too glaringly uncompromising; but I must say, that, with the exception of his social-democratic rubbish, he said much that is true and that corresponds with our own convictions. Misha is, I am thankful to say, calm and strong in spirit - he is not losing hope in the ultimate victory of right and justice, and openly struggles against adverse influences. While the Duma and the Special Conference are functioning, the government can still be influenced and guided in the right direction ; but if the Duma and the Special Conference were dissolved, as has been suggested, then we can expect nothing but a crash both at the front and in the rear. Golitzyn [President of the Council] is going, and yesterday we heard that Maklakov has been marked for the Premiership. Ça sera le comble! Protopopov fancies himself a Bismarck, and threatens us all with the iron fist.
The Composite Battalion is said to have left Tsarskoe, as it was found unreliable. There is even a rumour current that one of the officers shot at her [The Empress] and wounded her in the arm. The first Cavalry Guard Division, which had already been entrained for Tsarskoe, has declined the privilege of forming the Imperial Guard; the, Gvardeisky Equipage, "the Wild Division" and the Regiment of Cossacks have since been detailed to undertake the task. I have just had a visit from an officer at the front, who told me that the troops are more than ever incensed against both of them. On the Riga front it is openly said that she protects all German spies, whom the heads of the military departments, acting on her instructions, leave at large.
Yesterday Shcheglovitov tried to adopt Protopopov's methods in the Council of State by silencing the members. Many of them left the hall, and indignation is universal.
This set, which rules everything, has lost all sense of proportion, and is taking up a more and more untenable position. It is quite clear now that A. F. is not the only one to blame; he, as the Tsar of Russia, is even more culpable. With regard to a certain matter [the murder of Rasputin], I was told that 106 persons are held under suspicion-among them are Gouchkov, Mikh. Mikh., and ourselves. Pourishkevitch [one of the murderers] was questioned, but, naturally, denied everything.
Voeikov took the body [of Rasputin] to Tobolsk in great secrecy; all the press offices were forbidden to say that Voeikov had gone by the Nicolaievsky railway. At first he declined the honour, but she stormed at him so vehemently, threatening him with dismissal, that he slavishly agreed.
You see, my dear, what appalling times we are living through, and how difficult they are to endure. George is going back to the trenches to-morrow. But I thank God for having had him at home for over a month. Nicola has been elected president of the Committee in charge of the Roumanian front and of the Zemstvo Union; he is in Odessa overladen with work!
I am glad that you are in the quiet of the country, not here in the sea of political tribulations. Pity us and pray for us sinners, who are not given a moment's respite in the ever-changing atmosphere of political intrigue.
I kiss all four of you.
Misha sends you all his sincerest greetings. How is Baby? What a pity that she is not with you!.
Letter of the Grand Duke Dmitry Pavlovitch to Prince F. F. Yussoupov, junior.
23rd April, 1917,
MY DEAR, GOOD FRIEND,
This letter will be given to you (if you are in Petrograd) by an officer who has been attached to me unofficially ever since I have been in Persia. His name is Captain Mikhailov. He is quite a pleasant, modest and clever fellow who seems to be sincerely devoted tome. If you do not wish to write much, tell him by word of mouth - he will pass everything on without getting it mixed. I write with great circumspection now, as my letters have already been opened in Baku by the local executive committee.
Yes! it has happened! [the Revolution]. The development of events, the possibility of which you and I had visualised, has come to pass. The final catastrophe has been brought about by the wilful and short-sighted obstinacy of a woman. It has, naturally, swept away Tsarskoe and all of us at one stroke, for now the very name of Romanov is a synonym for every kind of filth and indecency. I regard the future gloomily, and if I had not firm faith in God's mercy, and were not convinced that everything comes to an end - that better days must dawn at last - I should most likely have lost courage long ago! I am of the opinion that in present circumstances we cannot bring the war to a victorious conclusion. Can you imagine what a degraded and inglorious figure we shall cut in the sight of the Allies! Can you imagine - looking at it from the point of view of national prestige - what loyal, true Russians must feel? Russians who are passionately and sincerely devoted to their country, - not "fighters for liberty" like, Lenin and company! What have they done with our army, which could never boast of particularly strict discipline, and which now has none at all? Even here, on the far border, in a foreign and neutral country, where we have only some hundredth part of the whole army, not a day passes but the local "executive committee" deprives some officer of his rank. We must not forget that the strength and unity of the army is an invariably sure indication of the power of any given country.
Yes, my friend, at times things weigh heavily upon me! Are we Russians really not mature enough for liberty? Do we interpret liberty as meaning the right to do anything that comes into our heads? All that is happening around us, and all that we hear does not justify us in thinking otherwise.
Ah, how desperately I long at times to have a talk with you! How intensely I long to share my thoughts and opinions with you! We have lived through so much together; it is not often that people meet under such strange conditions. You used to understand me so well, you knew how to support me in moments of trial. For God's sake write to me. What is happening? how are things?
I can just imagine Rodzianko's condition! What is known of Pour[ishkevitch]? I am frightfully interested.
As to myself personally, my first impulse was, naturally, to make for home. But I reconsidered the matter, as it seemed to me that a hasty return on my part would have implied a too precipitate acceptance of the Provisional Government, whose views on the subject of my return were quite unknown to me.
Moreover, I should have considered such behaviour towards Tsarskoe to be base. It would have looked as though I had taken the first opportunity of racing back, the moment I heard of the fall of the powers that had exiled me, All newspaper reports to the effect that Kerensky has informed me of there being no objection to my return to Petr[ograd] are pure lies - I have received no such information. On the contrary, a telegram sent by me to Prince Lvov, - in which I intimated my willingness to support the Provisional Government, and inquired whether newspapers were correct in reporting the government's willingness to allow my return, has provoked a reply that has thoroughly disconcerted me, since it says: "The Provisional Government has come to no decision with regard to your return to Russia." You must admit that this answer was absolutely unsatisfactory. It does not settle the question. Could you not tentatively inquire what it would be advisable for me to do? Honestly speaking, I have no particular desire to come back to Russia just now; anyhow, what am I to do there? Shall I come back, and, with hands idly folded in my lap, calmly endure all sorts of filthy insinuations only because I bear the name of Romanov and am descended in a straight line from the "Tsar liberator"? I cannot do that. Furthermore, I am firmly convinced that, should the need for my services arise, I shall not be forgotten. So I must again restrain my urgent desire to see you and to speak to you.
Have I received your letter? Yes, and answered it too but owing to an unfortunate misunderstanding in the house it came back to me after a month's wanderings. What do you think of that? When all is said and done, we have had some delightful times, although we have gone through trying experiences, as for example our separation. But we have had occasion for laughter too - "Listen, if you like," and so forth, to the accompaniment of our guitars. Yes, we have had jolly times. And my delightful rooms! My beautiful lounge with the grey divan and the tiger skin! All this is far away. I had to sell the house, as one must live somehow, and all my furniture has gone to the devil. I am sorry about my rooms.
Koralli [a ballerina and cinema actress] wrote to me about three months ago, telling me with great joy that she had heard from you. I had a telegram from her a little while ago, in which she says that she is temporarily in Petr. and that she had a long conversation with "your friend." Can you be this friend? She never once mentioned your name, she merely said "your friend."
In finishing this letter, my dear friend, I might even say without fear of exaggeration, my dearest friend, I wish to assure you of my sincerest affection. My thoughts often and often fly to you in an eager but impotent desire to help you, or only to be with you. Kiss your wife for me. She will know me better by now from your descriptions of me. I send my love to your parents. Tell your mother that I frequently think of her.
God keep you, my dear friend. Keep up your spirits. I am as yet far from losing courage. For God's sake, write to me as much as you possibly can, and with as many details as you can get in.
If you disagree with me, say so outright, we shall understand each other.
Good-bye, I do not know when we shall meet again under what conditions and where.
Your truly devoted friend.
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