By Maurice Paléologue
JANUARY 9-28, 1917.
The imperial family address a joint appeal to Nicholas II; the Grand Duchess Marie Pavlovna confides her sorrows and anxieties to me.---My English colleague, Sir George Buchanan, tries to tackle the Emperor on the problems of domestic politics; he receives cutting replies.---A story-book element in the conspiracy of the Grand Dukes.---Reception of the Diplomatic Corps at Tsarskoïe-Selo, on the first day of the orthodox New Year; lugubrious impressions.---The Emperor's rage with the Grand Dukes; an historical precedent.---The Crown Prince of Rumania arrives in Petrograd; cordial relations between Russia and Rumania.---A talk with the Grand Duke Paul about his son's share in Rasputin murder.---An A.D.C. General of the Emperor ventures to advise him to send away the Empress; Nicholas II's chivalrous attitude.---The ghost of Rasputin; nocturnal apparitions.---What the magician Papus thought of the staretz; future miracles.
Tuesday, January 9, 1917.
Sir George Buchanan, who is no less anxious than I am about the situation, thinks that the Emperor might possibly listen to advice from his cousin, the King of England, and has therefore asked Balfour to have a personal telegram from the King sent to the Tsar. When delivering this telegram, Buchanan would impressively add the necessary comments. Balfour approved of this step, and Buchanan has just prayed an audience of the Emperor.
Yesterday evening Prince Gabriel Constantinovitch gave a supper to his mistress, formerly an actress.
The guests included the Grand Duke Boris, Prince Igor Constantinovitch, Putilov, Colonel Shegubatov, a few officers and a squad of elegant courtesans.
During the evening the only topic of conversation was the conspiracy,---the regiments of the Guard which can be relied on, the most favourable moment for the outbreak, etc. And all this with the servants moving about, harlots looking on and listening, gypsies singing and the whole company bathed in the aroma of Moët and Chandon, brut impérial which flowed in streams!
To wind up, there was a toast to the salvation of Holy Russia.
Wednesday, January 10, 1917.
About a month ago, the Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna, wife of the Grand Duke Cyril, was received by the Empress and, finding her more communicative than usual, ventured to mention certain burning topics to her.
"It is with grief and horror," she said, "that I have observed the growth of hostile feeling towards your Majesty . . ."
The Empress interrupted:
"You're quite wrong, my dear. As a matter of fact, I've been quite wrong myself. Only quite lately I was still thinking that Russia hated me. I know now that it is only Petrograd society which hates me, the corrupt and godless society which thinks of nothing but dancing and dining and takes no interest in anything but its pleasures and adulteries, while everywhere around us blood is flowing in streams! . . . Blood! . . . Blood!"
She seemed to be almost choking with rage as she uttered those words, and had to stop for a moment. Then she continued:
"But now I have the great consolation that the whole of Russia---the real Russia, poor, humble, peasant Russia is with me. If I showed you the telegrams and letters I receive every day from all parts of the Empire, you'd see it all for yourself. But still I'm very grateful to you for speaking so frankly."
What the poor Tsarina does not know is that Sturmer had the brilliant idea---continued and improved upon by Protopopov---of getting the Okhrana to send her every day scores of letters and telegrams worded something like this:
Oh our beloved sovereign, mother and guardian of our adored Tsarevitch . . . Guardian of our traditions . . .Oh our great and good Tsarina . . . Protect us against the wicked . . . Save us from our enemies . . . Save Russia!
During the last few days, her sister, the Grand Duchess Sergei, abbess of the Convent of Martha-and-Mary, came specially from Moscow to tell her of the growing exasperation of Moscow society and all the plotting that is going on in the shadow of the Kremlin.
The Emperor and Empress gave her a very frigid reception; she was so amazed at it that she asked:
"Perhaps it would have been better if I had not come?"
"Yes, " replied the Empress drily.
"Then perhaps I'd better go?"
"Yes. by the first train," sternly replied the Emperor.
Trepov having asked again and again to be allowed to resign was put on the "retired list " yesterday.
His successor is Prince Nicholas Dimitrievitch Golitzin, a member of the Extreme Right in the Council of Empire. Hitherto his career has been purely administrative---and obscure. He is said to be sensible and honest, but weak and indolent.
In Trepov the cause of the Allies loses its strongest guarantee, and I fear that in this blunt and faithful servant the monarchy of the tsars is also losing its last pillar and its last safeguard.
Thursday, January 11, 1917.
Yesterday the Grand Duchess Marie Pavlovna invited me to lunch to-day with my First Secretary, Charles de Chambrun.
At a few minutes before one I reached the Vladimir palace.
I was about to mount the stairs when General Knorring, who is attached to the Grand Duchess's person, came flying down towards me and handed a letter to a colonel who swiftly walked away.
"Forgive me for not being in the vestibule to receive you," he said. "These are such serious times!"
I noticed his pallor and haggard features. We had ascended a few steps together when another colonel appeared at the hall door; Knorring immediately went down again.
As I reached the upper landing, through the open door of the drawing-room I caught a wonderful view of the. Neva, the Cathedral of SS. Peter-and-Paul, the bastions of the Fortress and the state prison. Seated in the embrasure of the window was the lovely Mademoiselle Olive, maid of honour to the Grand Duchess; she was lost in thought and gazing out at the Fortress. She did not hear me come.
I broke in on her reverie:
"Mademoiselle, I've just guessed the direction of your thoughts, if not your thoughts themselves. You seem to be looking at the prison very hard!"
"Yes, I was looking at the prison. In these days one can't help looking at it."
As she turned to my secretary, she added with her delightful laugh:
"Will you come and see me, Monsieur de Chambrun, when I'm lying on the straw in a dungeon there?"
At ten minutes past one, the Grand Duchess, who is usually very punctual, came in with her third son, the Grand Duke Andrew. She was pale and emaciated.
"I'm late," she said. "But it's not my fault. You know, or at any rate you can guess what I'm going through. We'll have a quiet talk after lunch. Meanwhile, tell me about the war. What is your opinion?"
I answered that notwithstanding all the doubts and difficulties of the moment, my faith in our final victory remains absolutely unshaken.
"It does me good to hear you talk like that !" Luncheon was announced. There were six of us at table; the Grand Duchess and myself, the Grand-Duke Andrew, Mademoiselle Olive, Chambrun and General Knorring.
Conversation was very slow at first. And then, bit by bit and half hinting, we broached the topic which was on all our minds, the crisis at home and the great thundercloud gathering on the horizon.
When we rose from table, the Grand Duchess offered me a chair next to hers and said:
"Now let's talk."
But a servant approached and told us that the Grand Duke Nicholas Michaïlovitch had just come and been taken into the next room. The Grand Duchess apologized to me, asked the Grand Duke Andrew to look after me and went into the other room.
As the door was opened, I recognized the Grand Duke Nicholas Michaïlovitch: he had a high colour and his eyes were burning and grave; he had drawn himself up and was leaning forward in a fighting attitude. Five minutes later, the Grand Duchess called in her son.
Mademoiselle Olive, General Knorring, Chambrun and I were left alone.
"We're in the thick of a drama," Mademoiselle Olive said to us. "Did you notice how terribly upset the Grand Duchess looked? What has the Grand Duke Nicholas come to say?"
At ten minutes to two, the Grand Duchess came in again, breathing rather hard. With an effort to appear self-possessed, she fired questions at me about my recent audience with the Emperor.
"So you weren't able to discuss the internal situation with him? " she asked.
"No, he obstinately shut his ears to that subject. After beating about the bush time and time again, I thought at one moment that I was going to force him to hear me. But he cut me short by asking me if I had had any recent news of Tsar Ferdinand!"
"It's deplorable!" she said, dropping her arms in a despairing gesture.
After a pause, she resumed:
"What can we do? With the exception of her who is the source of all the trouble, no one has any influence with the Emperor. During the last fortnight we have all worn ourselves out with trying to prove to him that he is ruining the dynasty and ruining Russia, and that his reign, which might have been so glorious, is going to end in a catastrophe. He won't hear a word. It's simply tragic! However, we are going to try joint action by the whole imperial family. That's what the Grand Duke Nicholas came to see me about."
"Will it be confined to platonic action?"
We looked at each other in silence. She guessed that what was in my mind was the tragedy of Paul I, as she replied with a horrified stare: "Oh God! Whatever will happen?"
She sat dumb for a moment, fear staring in her eyes. Then she continued timidly:
"I could count on you, in case of need, couldn't?"
"Thank you," she gravely murmured.
A servant interrupted us for the second time. The Grand Duchess explained that the whole of the imperial family had assembled in the next room and were only waiting for her to join them to start the discussion. Her last words were:
"And now pray to God to protect us!" She held out her hand; it was trembling violently.
Friday, January 12, 1917.
I am told from various sources that an attempt to assassinate the Empress was made the evening of the day before yesterday, when she was visiting her hospital at Tsarskoïe-Selo. It is said that the author, an officer, was hanged yesterday morning. Absolute secrecy is maintained as to the motive for the act and its details.
All the members of the imperial family, including the Dowager Queen of Greece, who met at the house of the Grand Duchess Marie Pavlova yesterday, have addressed a joint letter to the Emperor.
The letter, couched in the most respectful terms, draws the sovereign's attention to the dire peril to which his policy at home is exposing Russia and the dynasty; it ends by pleading for a pardon for the Grand Duke Dimitri, lest worse evils befall.
Sazonov, on whom I called to-day, said to me:
"There is no way out of the course on which the Emperor has embarked. judging by our historical precedents, the era of assassinations has begun. From the point of view of the war, we have a nasty ditch ahead of us; it will be a violent shock; but afterwards all will go well I maintain my steadfast faith in our ultimate victory."
Saturday, January 13, 1917.
Sir George Buchanan was received by the Emperor yesterday.
After telling him of the grave concern of King George and the British Government at the internal situation in Russia, he asked the sovereign's permission to speak to him absolutely candidly.
The two men were standing when these introductory phrases were spoken. Without asking Buchanan to sit down, the Emperor drily replied:
In firm and very agitated tones, Buchanan then pointed out the enormous harm that was being done to Russia, and therefore her allies, by the confusion and anxiety which was on the increase in every class of Russian society. He did not shrink from denouncing the intrigues which German agents are fomenting in the immediate entourage of the Empress and which have cost her the affection of her subjects. He referred to the evil influence of Protopopov, etc. At last, after protesting his devotion to the Russian sovereigns, he implored the Emperor not to hesitate between the two courses which are now open to him, one of which leads to victory and the other to the most dire catastrophe.
The Emperor's manner was cold and stiff; he broke the silence only to put forward two objections in a dry tone. The first was: "You tell me, Ambassador, that I must deserve the confidence of my people. Isn't it rather for my people to deserve my confidence?" The second was: "You seem to think that I take advice in choosing my ministers. You're quite wrong; I choose them myself, unassisted . . . " And thereupon he brought the audience to a close with the simple words:
At bottom, the Emperor has simply given expression to the pure doctrine of autocracy, by virtue of which he is on the throne. To realize how far that doctrine is behind the English theory, I have only to remember what the Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Winchelsey, writing on behalf of King Edward I, penned to Pope Boniface VIII about the end of the thirteenth century: "It is the custom of the Kingdom of England that, in all matters of public interest, all those who are concerned should be consulted."
I give the wording of the Emperor's reply to the letter which the imperial family sent him the day before yesterday:
I allow no one to give me advice. A murder is always a murder. In any case, I know that the consciences of several who signed that letter are not clear.
Dining at the Restaurant Contant this evening, I saw pretty Madame D----- at the next table with three officers of the Chevaliers-Gardes; she was in mourning.
During the night of January 6-7, she was arrested on suspicion of having taken part in the murder of Rasputin, or at any rate known of the preparations. Thanks to the high influences which protect her, she was simply kept under observation in her flat and released three days later. When a police officer asked her for the key of her bureau in order to secure her papers, she replied sweetly and simply:
"You'll only find love-letters."
The remark is Madame D----- personified.
Twenty-six years of age, divorced, remarried at once, then separated from her second husband, she leads a wild life. Every evening, or rather every night, she holds high revel until morning: theatre, ballet, supper, gypsy singers, tango, champagne, etc. And yet it would be a great mistake to judge her solely by this tawdry dissipation; at bottom she is warm-hearted, proud and an enthusiast.
Rasputin's murder, of the preparations for which she knew, came as a thunderbolt to her. The Grand Duke Dimitri seemed to her a hero, the saviour of Russia. She went into mourning on learning the news of his arrest. When she heard that he had been sent to the Russian army front in Persia, she swore to continue his patriotic work and avenge him.
Since the police evacuated her residence four days ago, she has been concerned in all the ramifications of the plot against the Emperor, carrying letters to some and passwords to others. Yesterday she called on two colonels of the guard to win them over to the good cause. She knows that the agents of the terrible Okhrana are watching her, and is fertile in resources to throw them off the scent. Any night she expects to be incarcerated in the fortress or sent to Siberia; but she has never been so happy before. The heroines of the Fronde, Madame de Longueville, Madame de Montbazon and Madame de Lesdiguières must have known this unreal exaltation, by virtue of which the conscientiousness of a great peril rekindles a great love.
When she finished dinner she passed close to my table, followed by her three officers. She came up to me. I rose to shake hands. In rapid tones she said:
"1 know that our mutual friend came to see you yesterday and told you everything . . . He's extremely anxious about me. It's only natural . . . he loves me so much! Anyhow, he thought you would be ready to help me in case of disaster and was anxious to make certain. But I knew what you'd say. What could you do for me if things went badly? Nothing; that's obvious . . . . But I'm grateful for the nice things you've said about me, and I'm sure that at the bottom of your heart---though not as ambassador---I have your approval . . . We may never meet again. Good-bye!"
And with these words she sped away swiftly and silently, escorted by her chevaliers-gardes.
Sunday, January 14, 1917.
To-day, the first day of the New Year according to the orthodox calendar, the Emperor received the congratulations of the Diplomatic Corps at Tsarskoïe-Selo.
The cold is intense---38°!
The horses of the court carriages, which were waiting for us at the imperial station, were accoutred in ice, and all the way to the Great Palace I could see nothing of the landscape, the thick frost on the windows making them quite opaque.
When we entered the ballroom in which the function was to take place, Evreïnov, the Director of Ceremonies---an ardent patriot and hot-headed nationalist who has often been to give me the benefit of his loathing of Rasputin and hatred of the pro-German party---whispered in my ear in a tense voice:
"Well! Ambassador; haven't I been right all these months in telling you that our great and holy Russia was being led to disaster! Don't you feel that we're now on the very brink?"
We had hardly taken our places before the Emperor appeared, surrounded by his A.D.C., Generals and high dignitaries. He took the staff of each embassy and legation in turn, and there was the formal and routine exchange of compliments and congratulations, smiles and handshakes. As usual Nicholas II was kind and natural and he even affected a certain care-free air; but his pale, thin face betrayed the nature of his secret thoughts.
While he was making his rounds, I talked to my Italian colleague, the Marchese Carlotti, and we simultaneously passed the same observation: among the whole of the Tsar's brilliant and glittering suite, there was not a face which did not express anxiety . . .
On our way back to the imperial station, our carriages passed a small church, a picturesque and isolated structure in the Muscovite style. It was the Feodorovski Sobor; in its mysterious crypt is the favourite private chapel of Alexandra Feodorovna. It was dark already and under its thick shroud of snow the dome of the sanctuary projected vaguely through the fog. I thought of all the hours of sighing exaltation or utter prostration the Empress has spent there. And I seemed to see the ghost of Rasputin flitting round the entrance.
Monday January 15, 1917.
The Grand Duke Nicholas Michaiïovitch has been banished to his property at Grushevka, in the Government of Kherson, far from any town and even from a human habitation.
The imperial order was conveyed to him yesterday, notwithstanding the religious significance of New Year's Day. As he was given no time to make any arrangements, he took his departure the very same evening.
When I heard the news, an historical precedent came to my mind at once. On November 19, 1787, Louis XVI banished the Duc d'Orléans to his Villers-Cotterets estate, as a punishment for having told the Parliament of Paris that the States General alone had the right to grant the King additional taxes. Has Russia really got as far as 1787? No . . . she is already a long way beyond it.
By wreaking his vengeance on the Grand Duke Nicholas Michaiïovitch, the Emperor has obviously intended to frighten the imperial family. He has succeeded: it is terror-stricken. But it may be that Nicholas Michaiïovitch deserved "neither this too great honour nor the indignity." He is not really dangerous. The final crisis, through which tsarism and Russia are passing, calls for a Retz or a Mirabeau. Nicholas Michaiïovitch is a critic and dilettante rather than a party man; he is too fond of drawing-room epigrams. He is in no way an apostle of adventure and the offensive.
Whatever the cause, the conspiracy of the Grand Dukes has missed fire. Maklakov, the Duma deputy, was quite right the day before yesterday when he told Madame de Derfelden (who is my authority) that "the Grand Dukes are incapable of agreeing on a plan of campaign. Not one of them dares show the slightest initiative, and each of them claims to be working solely on his own behalf. They want the Duma to put the match to the powder. In other words, they are expecting of us what we are expecting of them."
Wednesday, January 17, 1917.
Yesterday, Pokrovski had a long audience of the Emperor. He told him in the strongest terms how impossible it is for him to accept responsibility for foreign policy in existing circumstances. Appealing to his long, loyal and devoted past, he pleaded with his master to break with the evil counsels of Protopopov; he actually begged him, with clenched hands, to open his eyes to the "imminent catastrophe."
The Tsar listened to him very gently and then ordered him to remain in office, telling him that "the situation is not as tragic as all that, and everything will come right."
In the evening of the day before yesterday, His Majesty received his new President of the Council, Prince Nicholas Golitzin, who is a perfectly honest man, had expressly declined the presidency of the Council, which has been forced upon him "by imperial order." He therefore considered himself entitled to discuss the matter quite frankly with the Emperor; he painted him the gloomiest picture of the public state of mind in Russia, particularly Moscow and Petrograd; he did not hide from him that the lives of the sovereigns are in danger and that the Moscow regiments are talking openly of proclaiming another Tsar. The Emperor received his statements with placid indifference. He merely replied:
"The Empress and I know that we are in God's hands. His will be done!"
Prince Golitzin wound up by begging the Emperor to accept his resignation. He received the same answer as Pokrovski.
At this very time, the Empress was praying at the tomb of Rasputin. Every day she goes there with Madame Virubova, and spends hours absorbed in prayer.
Friday, January 19, 1917.
Schubin-Pozdeïev, who is not without sense and perspicacity under his old roué exterior, has just told me something very true:
"You know what I thought of Rasputin. The mystical and filthy rake always filled me with unutterable loathing. I met him only once in a decent house into which I'd strayed. He was going out as I went in. The ladies present were watching him make his exit with languishing glances. Speaking personally, I had an irresistible desire to kick him through the door. So you see I'm not exactly in mourning for him. But all the same I think it was a great mistake to kill him. He had won the confidence and affection of our beloved sovereigns. He inspired them, encouraged and amused them, consoled and exhorted them, and was a general tonic. In the intervals of his fornications he gave them advice for the good of their souls and the government of the Empire. He often made them cry, as he didn't shrink from brow-beating them. He sometimes made them laugh too, for when he kept out of his mystical drivel, he had no equal in broad humour. They couldn't get on without him. He was their mainspring, their toy and their fetish. He oughtn't to have been taken from them. Since his departure they haven't known which way to turn. I expect the wildest follies from them now!
Saturday January 20, 1917.
The Crown Prince Carol of Rumania and Bratiano, the President of the Council, have just arrived in Petrograd.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs lost not time in receiving Bratiano. Their talk was exceedingly friendly. At the very outset, Bratiano told Pokrovski that he was determined to establish the alliance between Russia and Rumania on a permanent basis:
"The alliance must not be restricted to the present war," he said; "I'm extremely anxious that it shall apply to the future too."
Prince Carol and Bratiano have been invited to dinner at Tsarskoïe-Selo, to-morrow.
Sunday, January 21, 1917.
The Emperor has told his aunt, the Grand Duchess Vladimir, that in their own interests, his cousins, the Grand Dukes Cyril and Andrew, should leave Petrograd for a few weeks.
The Grand Duke Cyril, who is a captain in the navy and in charge of the stores of the Guard, has "asked" to be sent on a tour of inspection to Archangel and Kola; the Grand Duke Andrew has a delicate chest, and is going to the Caucasus.
Sazonov has been appointed Ambassador in London, in the place of Count Benckendorff who died recently.
Tuesday, January 23, 1917.
I have dined at Tsarskoïe-Selo with the Grand Duke Paul's family party.
When we rose from table, the Grand Duke took me into a distant room so that we could talk as man to man. He made me the confidante of all his griefs and anxieties.
"The Emperor is more under the Empress's thumb than ever. She has succeeded in persuading him that the hostile movement against her---and it's beginning to be against him, unfortunately---is nothing but a conspiracy of the Grand Dukes and a drawing-room revolt. All this can only end with a tragedy . . . You know my belief in monarchy, and that to me the Emperor represents everything that is sacred. You must realize what I am suffering through what is happening, and is yet to happen."
From his emotion and the tone of his words I could see that he is terribly upset that his son Dimitri should have been involved in the prologue of the drama. . He continued umprompted:
"Isn't it dreadful that, all over the Empire, candles are being lit before the ikon of Saint Dimitri and my son is being styled the liberator of Russia!"
The notion that his son might be proclaimed Tsar at any time does not seem to have entered his head. He is what he has always been, a paragon of loyalty and chivalry.
He then told me that when he heard at Mohilev of Rasputin's murder, he immediately returned to Tsarskoïe-Selo.
When he arrived in the station late in the day of the 31st December, he found on the platform Princess Paley who told him that Dimitri had been arrested in his palace at Petrograd. He at once asked an audience of the Emperor, who consented to receive him at eleven o'clock the same evening, but "only for five minutes," as he had a great deal to do.
On being ushered into his august nephew's presence, the Grand Duke Paul made a strong protest against the arrest of his son:
"No one has any right to arrest a Grand Duke without a formal order from you. Please have him released . . . Surely you're not afraid that he'll run away?"
The Emperor evaded any definite reply and put an end to the conversation.
Next morning the Grand Duke Paul went to Petrograd to see his son at the palace on the Nevsky Prospekt. He asked him:
"Did you kill Rasputin?
"Are you prepared to swear it on the holy ikon of the Virgin and your mother's photograph?"
The Grand Duke Paul then handed him an ikon of the Virgin and a photograph of the late Grand Duchess Alexandra:
"Now: swear that you didn't kill Rasputin."
"I swear it."
As he told me this incident, the Grand Duke made a really touching picture of nobility, truth and dignity. He ended with these words:
"I know nothing more of the tragedy; I didn't want to know any more."
During the railway journey back to Petrograd I discussed what the Grand Duke had told me with Madame P-----.
"I'm even more pessimistic than he," she exclaimed with flashing eyes. "The tragedy now on its way will be not only a dynastic crisis but a terrible revolution; we can't escape it . . . Don't forget what I'm foretelling; the disaster is at hand."
I then quoted her the terrible prophecy which the blindness of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette wrung from the lips of Mirabeau in September, 1789: All is lost. The King and Queen will perish. The people will batter their corpses!
"If we only had a Mirabeau!"
Thursday, January 25, 1917.
The most devoted servants of tsarism, and even some of those who form the monarch's ordinary entourage, are beginning to be alarmed at the pace of events.
To take one example, I have just learned from a very reliable source that Admiral Nilov, A.D.C. General to the Emperor and one of his closest personal friends, quite recently had the courage to point out to him the whole peril of the situation; he actually went so far as to beg him to send the Empress away---as being the only thing which could still save the empire and the dynasty. Nicholas II, who is chivalrous and worships his wife, rejected the suggestion with intense scorn:
"The Empress is a foreigner," he said, "she has no one to protect her but myself. I shall never abandon her, under any circumstances. In any case, all the charges made against her are false. Wicked lies are being told about her. But I shall know how to make her respected!"
Admiral Nilov's intervention is particularly impressive because until quite recently he has always sided with the Empress. He was a close friend of Rasputin and intimately associated with the gang; he always arrived punctually for the famous Wednesday dinners at the house of the financier Manus and is therefore largely responsible for the discredit and disgrace into which the imperial court has now fallen. But at bottom, he is honest and patriotic. At long last he has seen the abyss which is opening at Russia's feet, and he is trying---too late---to clear his conscience.
Friday, January 26, 1917.
Old Prince Kurakin, a master of necromancy, has had the satisfaction of raising the ghost of Rasputin the last few nights.
He immediately sent for Protopopov, the Minister of the Interior, and Dobrovolski, the Minister of justice; they came at once. Since then, the three of them have been in secret conclave for hours every evening, listening to the dead man's solemn words.
What an extraordinary creature old Prince Kurakin is!
With his bowed frame, bald head, hook nose, pallid complexion, piercing and haggard eyes, hollow features, halting, sepulchral voice and sinister expression, he is the typical spiritualist.
At Count Witte's funeral two years ago, he was seen gazing fixedly for several minutes at the dead man's haughty features (the coffin being open in accordance with orthodox rites). Then the sepulchral voice was heard "We'll compel you to come to us to-night!"
Sunday, January 28, 1917.
Madame T-----, who was one of Rasputin's most fervent disciples and dabbles in the occult sciences, has been telling me of the relations between the Russian sovereigns and the famous French magician Papus, relations which date from as far back as 1900. Last November I recorded in this diary a spiritualistic séance at Tsarskoïe-Selo, at which this miracle worker presided in 1905.
"It is twelve years or so," said Madame T----, "since Papus was in Russia; but he has kept up a correspondence with Their Majesties. Several times he tried to convince them that Rasputin's influence on them was evil, because he got it from the Devil. The result was that Father Grigori loathed Papus and when Their Majesties mentioned his name, he would burst out: "Why do you listen to that charlatan? What's he poking his nose into now? If he wasn't a low schemer, he'd have his hands full enough with all the evil-doers and pharisees he has around him. There are more sins over there in the West than anywhere else in the world; nowhere else is the crucified Jesus so continuously affronted. . . . How often have I told you that everything that comes out of the Europes is wicked and harmful!"
Madame T----- also tells me that she saw in the hands of Mademoiselle Golovin, the staretz's favourite, a letter which the Empress received from Papus some fifteen months ago. It ended thus: "From the cabalistic point of view, Rasputin is a vessel like unto Pandora's box, and contains all the vices, crimes and lusts of the Russian people. Should this vessel break, we shall immediately see these horrible contents spilled all over Russia." The Empress read this letter to Rasputin, who simply replied: "Why, I've told you that many a time. When I die, Russia will perish."
By way of completing the staretz's prophecies, Madame T----- told me that shortly before his death she heard him say: " I know I shall die amidst horrible sufferings. My corpse will be torn in pieces. But even if my ashes are scattered to the four winds., I shall go on performing miracles at my tomb. Through my prayers from above, the sick will recover and barren women will conceive."
I admit I have not the slightest doubt that sooner or later the memory of Rasputin will give rise to legends and his tomb will be prodigal with miracles.
Volume III, Chapter Seven
Table of Contents