By Maurice Paléologue
NOVEMBER 23-DECEMBER 24, 1916.
Sturmer's dismissal; the Empress's irritation.---Trepov is appointed President of the Council; the appointment a guarantee for the Alliance.---General Alexeïev is replaced by General Gourko for reasons of health.---Conflict between the Duma and the Minister of the Interior; fierce attacks on the "occult forces which are ruining Russia."--"Public opinion loses interest" in Constantinople and the oriental dream.---The massacre of French sailors at Constantinople.---Consideration of the measures to be taken to deal with Greece.---The Empress's camarilla. Who are its real leaders? Germany invites the United States to open negotiations for peace; the motive which inspires this step.---Pokrovski, the Comptroller-General of the Empire. is appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs. His first meeting with the Duma; the patriotic fervour of his speeches. I discuss with him the situation arising out of the German proposal.---Position of the allied armies in Rumania; the transport difficulty.---With a view to the reply to the German proposals, the French Government defines the "higher war aim" which the Allies have taken as the goal of their common effort: the reorganization of Europe on the principle of nationality, the rights of the nations to unhampered economic development, etc. Gokrovaki accepts every article of this programme.---The Emperor prohibits the use of German terms in the nomenclature of official titles.
Thursday, November 23, 1916.
As I was working alone in my room about ten o'clock this evening, one of my most reliable informers handed me a note which ran thus:
I do not want to wait until to-morrow to give your Excellency a great piece of news: M. Sturmer has resigned, and his place as President of the Council has been taken by M. Trepov.
I am delighted with the news, though it does not surprise me. By getting rid of Sturmer, the Emperor proves once again that he is capable of the wisest decisions when he is not under the influence of the Empress.
The Austro-Germans captured Craïova yesterday.
Friday, November 24, 1916.
Sturmer's retirement is officially published this morning. Trepov takes his place as President of the Council; the new Minister for Foreign Affairs has not yet been appointed.
From the point of view of the war, which must take precedence of any other aspect, the selection of Trepov is a great relief to me. In the first place, Trepov has the merit of loathing Germany. His presence at the head of the Government is a guarantee that there will be no wavering in Russia's loyalty to the Alliance and that German intrigues will not continue with the same freedom as before. Moreover, he is active, intelligent and methodical; his influence on the various public services can only be excellent.
Another piece of news: General Alexeïev is going on leave. While he is away, his post is being taken over by General Vassili Josiffovitch Gourko, son of the field-marshal who was the hero of the Balkans.
The reason for General Alexeïev's retirement is his health. It is quite true that the General is suffering from an internal malady which makes an operation in the near future essential. But there is also a political reason; the Emperor considers that the Chief of the General Staff committed himself too openly against Sturmer and Protopopov.
Will General Alexeïev ever return to the Stavka? I cannot say. If his departure is final, I shall not be very sorry. No doubt he has won the respect of everyone by his patriotism, energy, scrupulous honesty and extraordinary capacity for work. But unfortunately he is lacking in other qualities which are not less necessary---broad views, a high conception of the Alliance, the power of visualizing all the theatres of war synthetically and as a whole. He has rigidly confined himself to his duties as Chief of Staff to the High Command of the Russian Armies. The fact is that it was for the Emperor himself to play the great part the importance of which General Alexeïev has never properly grasped; but the Emperor's failure to realize it has been even more complete, especially since the time when Sturmer became his sole interpreter of the common interests of the Alliance.
General Gourko, who takes his place, is active and brilliant and has an open mind; but it is said that he is somewhat irresponsible and lacks authority.
I was dining with some friends at the Café de Paris this evening. Sturmer's downfall was a subject of gleeful comment by all the guests who have great faith in Trepov and are already counting on a vigorous and immediate revival of the national conscience. Besak alone said nothing. He was plied with questions and answered in his usual vein of sarcasm:
"Henceforth, nothing will stop the victorious advance of our armies! On Xmas Day we shall enter Constantinople! In three months we shall be in Berlin! It's the idea of Constantinople that I like best; between ourselves, we were rather forgetting Peter the Great's will and Santa Sophia, etc."
When dinner was over, I took Besak in my car to call on a friend of mine who has a house on the Admiralty Canal. I asked him:
"Seriously, what do you think of Sturmer's dismissal?"
He thought a minute, and then said in grave tones:
"M. Sturmer is a great citizen, who has tried to stop his country from proceeding down the fatal slope to which criminal folly has brought her, a slope which can only lead to defeat, shame, ruin and revolution."
"Really; so you're a pessimist too?"
"We're lost, Ambassador!"
Saturday, November 25, 1916.
Sturmer's dismissal was decided upon without the knowledge of the Empress; she knew of it at the same time as he received notice himself.
She was beside herself with rage and has left at once for Mohilev, taking her daughters with her, her object being at any rate to save Protopopov, who has joined her train.
Protopopov's retention of the post of Minister of the Interior would cause a conflict in the Duma which would be particularly dangerous because the new President of the Council, Trepov, is not the man for tactful compromises.
Sunday, November 26, 1916.
For several days there has been much excitement in the councils of the "Cadets."
The leaders of the party. Trekrassov, Militikov, Shingarev, Konovalov and others, are saying that the time may have come, not to overthrow the imperial régime of course, but to arrange some striking demonstration which would frighten the Tsar and at last compel him to discard his autocratic prerogatives and establish free government.
That was the very spirit which inspired the members of the "Monarchical Opposition" in France towards the end of 1847. We know where the ingenious "banquet" campaign ultimately took them to.
Monday, November 27, 1916.
I forget who it was said of Cæsar that he had "all the vices and not one fault." Nicholas II has not a single vice, but he has the worst fault an autocratic sovereign could possibly have---a want of personality. He is always following the lead of others. His wishes are always being evaded, surprised or over-ridden; it never makes itself felt by any direct and spontaneous action. In this respect he in many ways resembles Louis XV, whom the consciousness of his innate weakness of character always kept in constant fear of subjection to others. Hence the love of subterfuge, which is a characteristic of both of them.
Tuesday, November 28. 1916.
I had some thirty guests to dinner this evening. Conversation was slow to kindle and quickly died out. The tone of the voices was dull and the very air we breathed seemed oppressive. The explanation was that the news from all quarters is bad. To begin with, there are rumours of strikes in the city and the daily rise in the cost of food has produced scenes of violence in the markets. Then the German-Bulgarian pincers are closing round Bucharest; the Danube has been crossed at Limnitza and Giurgevo; the line of the Oltu has been forced; Kimpolung and Pitesti are in the enemy's hands; the royal government has hastily fled to Jassy.
True to the Russian character of swiftly losing heart, always anticipating the worst, and so to speak meeting the decrees of fate half way, my guests were already foretelling the arrival of the Austro-Germans at the Pruth, the loss of Bessarabia and Podolia and the capture of Kiev and Odessa. I did what I could to combat these sinister prognostications which paralyse the spirit of resistance beforehand, by excluding a priori the possibility of success and pronouncing something to be impossible which is only uncertain. I developed the argument supplied me by a fine thought from La Rochefoucauld: "We should always have enough means if we had enough will, and when we think that things are impossible, it is often because we want to find excuses for ourselves."
Wednesday, November 29, 1916.
Trepov, who certainly cannot be suspected of either fearing or humouring the Duma, has recognized the impossibility of governing with Protopopov who is betraying signs of mental disorder which become more obvious every day.
When he was received by the Emperor at Mohilev the day before yesterday, he begged him to appoint another Minister of the Interior, reminding His Majesty that he had made the dismissal of Protopopov an indispensable condition of his accepting the presidency of the Council. But the Empress, who is still at the imperial headquarters and keeping a sharp look-out, had anticipated the step. The Emperor, duly prompted, answered Trepov that he counted on his loyalty to help Protopopov in his task. Trepov firmly but respectfully repeated his appeal, but the Emperor was not to be shaken.
"In that case," continued Trepov, "there is nothing for me but to ask Your Majesty to accept my resignation. My conscience does not allow me to assume the responsibilities of power while M. Protopopov retains the portfolio of the Interior."
After a moment's hesitation, the Emperor replied in an imperious tone:
"Alexander Feodorovitch, I order you to carry out your duties with the colleagues I have thought fit to give you."
Trepov went out, choking down his anger.
Thursday, November 30, 1916.
At my suggestion, Trepov has been made Grand'croix of the Legion of Honour. I went straight to his house to give him the news.
"The Government of the Republic," I said, "wished this to be some recognition of the signal service you rendered the Alliance in carrying through the construction of the Murman railway with such energy; it also wants to give you a token of its confidence in you in the trying circumstances under which you take power."
Trepov was very much touched, I think he was sincere, as he always liked France where he has spent much of his life.
Then we talked business.
Without going into the details of his differences with the Emperor and the obstacles which the Duma puts in his way, he told me that he is going to the Tauride Palace the day after to-morrow and will at once make a speech. The main points on which he will touch are the following: (1) war to the bitter end; Russia will shrink from no sacrifice; (2) a pronouncement on the subject of Constantinople and the Straits; promise to safeguard the interests of Rumania; (3) confirmation that Poland will be restored within her ethnical frontiers to form an autonomous state; (4) a solemn invitation to the Duma to collaborate with the Government in bringing the war to a successful conclusion.
"I hope the Duma will give me a decent reception. But I'm not certain . . . You can guess why, and on whose account."
Then he told me that the Duma is absolutely determined to have nothing to do with Protopopov, and to boo him and break up the sitting if he enters the chamber. I asked him:
"How is it that the Emperor, after being wise enough to get rid of M. Sturmer, does not realize that M. Protopopov's retention of office is becoming a public and national danger?"
"The Emperor is too sensible not to be aware of the fact. But it's the Empress who would have to be convinced. And she's absolutely uncompromising on the point!"
After a short silence, he continued in low tones, as if he were talking to himself:
"It's a decisive moment for Russia. At the rate we are going, the German party will soon be in control, and that means disaster, revolution and disgrace! We must put an end to all these intrigues, once and for all! In the hearing of Russia, or rather the whole world, the Government must utter irrevocable words which will bind all future governments. When the Duma meets the day after to-morrow, the Government will commit itself beyond recall to continue the war until Germany is crushed; it will burn all its boats."
"What a great relief it is to hear you talk like that!"
Friday, December 1, 1916.
Sturmer was so terribly humiliated by his fall that he left the Ministry for Foreign Affairs without saying goodbye to the allied ambassadors or even leaving a card. It is a significant lapse from good manners on the part of a man who is usually so ceremonious and such a slave to tradition.
As I was driving along the Moïka in my car this afternoon, I saw him opposite the imperial stables. He was stumbling along against the wind and snow, his back bent, his eyes fixed on the ground and his face gloomy and grief-stricken. He did not see me. He did not see anything. As he left the pavement to cross the road, he nearly fell
Saturday, December 2, 1916.
I was present at the sitting of the Duma this afternoon.
The storm burst the moment the ministers appeared in the doorway and Protopopov was seen in their ranks.
Trepov ascended the tribune to read the Government programme. The deputies shouted "down with the Ministers! Down with Protopopov!"
Quite unperturbed, and proudly facing his audience, Trepov began to read. Three times in succession the yells from the Extreme Left compelled him to leave the tribune, but at length he was allowed to speak.
The speech was the same as he outlined to me the day before yesterday. The passage in. which the Government affirmed its determination to continue the war was vociferously cheered, but the phrases referring to Constantinople left the Assembly cold, a coldness compounded of indifference and surprise.
When Trepov had finished, the sitting was suspended. The deputies poured out into the corridors. I returned to the embassy.
This evening I was told that the resumption of the sitting had been marked by two unexpected and violent speeches by the two leaders of the Right, Count Vladimir Bobrinski and Purishkevitch. To the intense amazement of their political brethren, they fulminated against the "occult forces which are dishonouring and ruining Russia." Purishkevitch actually said that "it only requires the recommendation of Rasputin to raise the most abject creatures to the highest offices. To-day, Rasputin is more dangerous than the false Dimitri in days of old. Up, you Ministers! If you are true patriots, go to the Stavka,; fall at the Tsar's feet and have the courage to tell him that the crisis at home cannot continue, the multitude is muttering in its wrath, revolution threatens, and an obscure moujik shall govern Russia no longer!"
Sunday, December 3, 1916.
Trepov's position is very delicate. On the one hand, he realizes the impossibility of governing, or rather of loyally supporting the Alliance, while the direction of public opinion and the police remains in Protopopov's hands. On the other hand, he is firmly. attached to the legal constitution of the Empire and denies the right of the Duma to interfere with the exercise of the sovereign prerogatives, of which one of the most important is incontestably the selection of ministers.
Thus the conflict between the Government and the Duma means that we have more than one awkward incident ahead of us.
Yesterday and the day before, Athens was the scene of grave events.
As the Greek Government refused to surrender the war material demanded by the Allies, a detachment of French marines landed at the Piræus and marched to Athens. The Greek troops opened fire on our men and killed a large number of them. The next step was for the principal adherents of Venizelos to be massacred and their houses looted.
Monday, December 4, 1916.
The passage in the ministerial speech referring to Constantinople has fallen as flat among the public as it did in the Duma. There is the same phenomenon of indifference plus amazement, as if Trepov had exhumed an ancient Utopia, once fancied, but long since forgotten.
Several months ago I was already observing the progressive disappearance of the Byzantine dream. The charm has been broken.
How Russian it is to surrender one's hopes, to abandon the very thing one has longed and striven for most ardently, and even to experience a kind of bitter-sweet delight in admitting one's failure and disillusionment
Madame P----- said to me this evening:
"The Government's pronouncement is ridiculous. Everyone has stopped thinking about Constantinople. It was a fine craze, but a sheer craze for all that. And when you're cured of a craze you don't start it again; you find another. Trepov and all the rest who are trying to bring the Russian nation back to the vision of Constantinople remind me of men who think they can reawaken the love of a woman by suggesting that they shall revive old memories together. It's no good recalling how delightful it was in Venice, in a gondola by moonlight; she will not even listen. When it's over, it's over."
Tuesday, December 5, 1916.
The detachment of French troops has had to evacuate Athens, where the germanophile party is the ascendant.
To deal with Greece, Briand is proposing that the Allies shall take the following steps: (1) blockade of the kingdom; (2) deposition of King Constantine; (3) recognition of Venizelos.
But he specifies that there can be no question either of declaring war on Greece or attacking her monarchical constitution.
As Sturmer's successor at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs has not yet been appointed, I have been discussing the matter with Neratov who is pro tem. in charge.
Like Briand, he thinks that the King's personal responsibility is seriously involved by the attack on our troops. But he objects to the deposition of the monarch:
"It would be taken very badly," he said, "by conservative circles here. The pro-German gang and the Empress's camarilla would not fail to use it as a weapon against the policy of the Alliance with the democratic governments of the West."
From the practical point of view, Neratov is impressed by the difficulties of the enterprise and the dangerous consequences it would involve.
By virtue of what principle would the deposition of the King be pronounced? By what means could hands be laid on Constantine? If he fled to Larissa or Trikala, would we go after him? To whom would the crown be transferred? To the Crown Prince? Suppose the latter refused to participate in the dethronement of his father? In any case, should we not find ourselves drawn into a great display of military force, and perhaps an actual conquest of Greece? If so, would not the Salonica army be reduced to impotence?
Neratov prefers a more prudent and less risky solution. In his view, the Allied Governments should defer settling their account with King Constantine. For the moment all that is required is that (1) the Piræus should be occupied; (2) the principal ports of the kingdom should be subjected to a strict blockade; (3) strategic dispositions should be taken in Thessaly in order to protect the left flank of the Army of the East. These conclusions seem to me the very essence of wisdom.
Thursday, December 7, 1916.
Yesterday, the Austro-Germans and Bulgarians entered Bucharest.
Hindenburg's strategic genius has brought about his masterpiece.
Saturday, December 9, 1916.
The cry of alarm, to which Count Bobrinsky and Purishkevitch , the two champions of naked tsarism, recently gave utterance in the Duma has had its echo in that archaic citadel of monarchical absolutism, the Council of Empire.(1)
This high assembly has to-day plucked up courage to express a wish in the matter of general policy, warning the Emperor against the evil action of occult influences. This bold stroke---and how timorous it is!---is provoking lively comment.
History is nothing but a long succession of fresh beginnings. In March, 1830, the Chambre des Pairs took the same course when it respectfully proffered Charles X a piece of wise advice But has anyone ever profited by the lessons of history?
Sunday, December 10, 1916.
There cannot be the slightest doubt that the action of Russia is inspired by the Empress's camarilla. But by whom is this camarilla itself inspired? From whom does it get its programme and leadership?
Certainly not the Empress. The public, which likes simple ideas and clear-cut types, has got a wrong idea of the part played by the Tsarina; it materially exaggerates and contorts it. Alexandra Feodorovna is too impulsive, wrong-headed and unbalanced to imagine a political system and carry it out logically. She is the omnipotent political tool of the conspiracy I am always sensing about me; but she is nothing more than a tool.
So with the individuals who flutter around her, Rasputin, the Virubova, General Voyeikov, Taneiev, Sturmer, Prince Andronnikov and the rest; they are only subordinates, supers, servile plotters or marionettes. The Minister of the Interior, Protopopov, who seems made of more solid stuff, owes that illusion solely to the irritation of his meninges. Behind his expansive bravado and restless activity, there is nothing but cerebral erethism. He is a monomaniac who will soon be under restraint.
Then by whom is the Tsarskoïe-Selo camarilla really inspired?
In vain have I questioned those who seemed best qualified to satisfy my curiosity. All I have got is vague or contradictory replies, hypotheses and suppositions.
But if I had to come to some conclusion, I should say that the evil course for which the Empress and her coterie will be responsible to History is inspired by four individuals: Stcheglovitov, the leader of the Extreme Right in the Council of Empire; Monsignor Pitirim, the Metropolitan of Petrograd; Bieletzky, the ex-Director of the Police Department, and the banker, Manus.
Apart from these four persons, I see nothing but the play of nameless, collective, scattered and sometimes unconscious forces, which are perhaps the sole interpreter of the traditional policy of tsarism and its instinct of self-preservation, and represents all the organic vitality and acquired momentum that remains to it.
In this quartet I assign a special position to the banker Manus: it is he who keeps it in touch with Berlin, and through him that Germany plans and fosters her intrigues among Russian society. He is the distributor of the German subsidies.
Wednesday, December 13, 1916.
Yesterday, Germany transmitted a note to the United States of America, a note in which she speaks for herself and her Allies, and declares that she is ready to open negotiations for peace here and now. This magniloquent pronouncement is not supported by the slightest hint of what the terms may be.
At first blush this note seems to be a stratagem, or trap, calculated to provoke a pacifist movement in the hostile camp and to disintegrate our coalition. If Germany will first inform us what are her plans, what reparations she is prepared to make, and what guarantee she offers us, we shall take her proposals seriously.
I have just had a visit from Buchanan and Carlotti, as I am kept in bed by a very severe attack of rheumatism. We all think alike.
Thursday, December 14, 1916.
The Emperor has entrusted the portfolio of Foreign Affairs to the Comptroller-General of the Empire, Nicholas Nicolaïevitch Pokrovski.
It is an unexpected choice. Pokrovsky is sixty and has devoted all his life to questions of finance and public accounts; he has no idea of foreign problems and diplomacy. But, subject to that reservation---which is important at the present moment---I am not dissatisfied with the appointment. In the first place he is sensible, clever, hard-working and thoroughly devoted to the idea of the Alliance. As a man, he is of quite uncommon quality, warm-hearted and modest, with a touch of gay cynicism. He is not well off, has a large family and leads an extremely simple and upright life. During the thirty-five years in which he has been employed in the financial administration of the Empire, not a breath of suspicion has ever rested upon him.
Friday, December 15, 1916.
By way of inaugurating his term of office, Pokrovski made a speech to the Duma to-day in which he showed up the illusory and insidious character of the German proposal in the firmest language. "The Entente Powers," he said, "proclaim their unwavering determination to continue the war until final victory. Our countless sacrifices would be rendered of no purpose by a premature peace with an enemy who is exhausted, but not yet over thrown."
These words, which are in such happy contrast to the ambiguous and tricky phraseology of Sturmer, have made a great impression on the Duma; the important thing is that they were uttered to destroy the effect of the German initiative.
As I am still confined to bed, I have not been without visitors. I hear the same observation from all quarters: "We have got one very important result already---that the peace question has now been brought to the attention of public opinion everywhere! Men's minds are thus being gradually prepared for a reasonable outcome."
Saturday, December 16, 1916.
Pokrovski called on me this afternoon. I congratulated him on the firm and frank statements he made in the Duma yesterday.
"In every detail," he replied, " I carried out the orders of His Majesty, with whose ideas I have the good fortune to find myself in perfect agreement. His Majesty is determined that there shall be no further doubt about his intentions, which are well known to you; on that point he has given me the most categorical instructions. Why, he has asked me to lose no time in submitting a draft manifesto, informing the army that Germany is asking for peace."
We then discussed the proper reply to be made to the note of the Teutonic coalition. Although he has not come to any definite conclusion on the subject, Pokrovski thinks that the military situation (or "the war map," as the Germans call it) does not yet enable us to formulate our intentions and that it would be prudent for us to confine ourselves to general expressions, such as "material and moral reparations," "political and economic guarantees."
Monday, December 18, 1916.
B-----, who is keeping a pretty close watch on the labour movement, tells me of a growing tendency among the leaders of the socialist groups to cut loose from the Duma and organize their plan of action on other than legal lines. Cheidze and Kerensky are always saying: "The Cadets don't know anything about the proletariat. They are no use to us!"
At the moment these leaders are directing their main propaganda at the army, insisting that it is its interest to throw in its lot with the workmen in order to secure for the peasants---of which it is the direct emanation---the triumph of their agrarian claims. So the barracks are being flooded with pamphlets on the classic themes: "The land belongs to the agricultural workers. It is theirs in full right, and therefore without purchase; no one buys back something of which he has been robbed. The revolution alone can bring about this great work of social reparation."
I asked B----- if the "defeatist" doctrine of the famous Lenin, now a refugee in Geneva, is making any headway in the army:
"No," he said; "the only advocates of that doctrine here are a few lunatics who are supposed to be in the pay of Germany---or the Okhrana. The 'Defeatists,' or porajentzy, as they are called, are only a negligible minority in the social-democratic party."
Wednesday, December 20. 1916.
I have had a talk with General Polivanov who has himself. had a long conversation with one of his former aides-de-camp, newly arrived from Jassy. The situation of the allied armies in Rumania is as follows:
(1) The Russian forces now operating on Rumanian, territory comprise six divisions in the Dobrudja, ten divisions (of which six are cavalry) in the region of the Yalomita, five divisions (one cavalry) in southern Moldavia. The army of General Leezinsky, who is under the direct orders of General Brussilov, extends from Tocna to the Bukovina; (2) the transport of troops and war material has suffered enormous delays (between four and six weeks) owing to the defective organization of the Rumanian railways; the seventeen trains per day which had been reckoned on has often been reduced to four; (3) with a view to gaining time, some of the troops are marching along the railway track, the transport of material and supplies being given a preference. But that does not prevent the concentration being a very slow business, as the distance between the Bukovina and Focsani is three hundred kilometres; (4) all that remains of the Rumanian army (about seventy thousand) is to be sent to the rear of the Russian troops in order to be reorganized in training camps. With the reserves which have not yet been mobilized on Moldavian territory, we shall probably be able to form an army of three hundred thousand men for next spring.
Thursday, December 21, 1916.
Twice and three times a week Protopopov asks an audience of the Tsarina, with the excuse of making his report and asking her advice.
The other day, the moment he entered he fell on his knees before her and cried out:
"Oh Majesty, I can see Christ behind you!"
Friday, December 22, 1916.
Yesterday, the President of the United States suggested to the governments of all the belligerent Powers that they should make known their various views as to the terms on which the war could end. President Wilson makes it clear that he "is not proposing peace," that he is not even "offering meditation, but simply suggesting' soundings,'" so that we may know "how far off the long-desired haven of peace may be."
Saturday, December 23, 1916.
This morning I have received from Paris a draft reply to the American note.
After paying tribute to the sentiments by which President Wilson is inspired, Briand protests against the fact that the note seems to treat the two groups of belligerents on the same footing, although one alone bears the whole responsibility for the aggression. Then he defines the "higher war aims" which the Allies have made their own. These war aims involve the complete independence of Belgium, Serbia and Montenegro, with all the compensation due to them; the evacuation of the occupied territories in France. Russia and Rumania, with just reparations; the reorganization of Europe in accordance with the principle of nationality and the rights of peoples to unhampered economic development; the restitution of territories torn from the Allies by force or against the wishes of the inhabitants in times past; the liberation of the Italians, Slavs, Rumanians and Czecho-Slovaks; the emancipation of the peoples subjected to Ottoman tyranny; the exclusion of the Turks from Europe; the re-establishment of Poland in its national integrity.
An hour later I was in Pokrovski's cabinet, where I had arranged with Buchanan to meet me. I read Briand's draft to them. They listened to me with the closest attention, and the further I got the better they seemed pleased. When I had finished, they burst out together:
"Splendid! It's perfect! That's the way to talk That's what we must tell the world!"
At this point my Italian colleague arrived. Pokrovski to whom I had handed a copy of the draft, re-read it aloud, dwelling on each phrase. Carlotti warmly approved.
Before expressing his official and final opinion, Pokrovski asked me to give him time to think it over. I insisted that he ought at any rate to give me his approval in principle so that Briand could fortify himself with it in answering President Wilson. There is no doubt that it is of high importance to us not to delay our reply, so that we can frustrate the pro-German intrigues which are feverishly trying to work American opinion.
"Very well! As you please!" he said. "Be good enough to cable Monsieur Briand that, speaking generally, I approve his draft and in fact admire it. But I reserve the right to suggest certain slight and purely formal amendments in the paragraphs which more particularly concern Russia, those referring to Poland and Armenia for example."
On leaving, I took Buchanan in my car. We were silent and anxious. The same thought spontaneously possessed both of us---how far we still are from seeing the realization of this splendid peace programme! After all, everything is going from bad to worse here!
We shared our latest news, which is lamentable.
The Union of Zemstvos and the Union of Towns, the great private associations which have worked so hard together since the war began to supply the army and the civil population, were to meet in congress at Moscow next week. The police have just forbidden that congress, though the two Unions represent all that is most sound, sincere and energetic in Russian society!
On the other hand, Protopopov is in the highest favour. He has sent himself off on some mission in the provinces, with a view both to avoiding contact with the Duma and preaching sound doctrine to the Governors.
A friend of mine, who has come from Moscow and called on me yesterday, told me that the public there is furious with the Empress. In drawing-rooms, shops and cafés, it is being openly said that the Niemka, the "German Woman," is about to ruin Russia and must be put away as a lunatic. And as to the Emperor, men do not stop at remarking that he would do well to reflect on the fate of Paul I.
Sunday, December 24, 1916.
I will reveal one fact-trivial enough, superficially---which proves how anxious Nicholas II is to remove the many existing traces of German influence in Russia.
At the very beginning of the war, he substituted the Slav name "Petrograd" for the German name "Petersburg." Many a time since has he shown himself shocked and annoyed at the German words which are met with in profusion in the nomenclature of official titles and ranks. Thus "Grand Marshal of the Court," is called Oberhofmarschall, "Secretary of State" Staats-sekretär, "Chamberlain" Kammerherr, "Master of the Horse" Stalmeister, "Master of the Hunt" Jägermeister, "Aide-de-camp" Flügeladjutant, " Maid of Honour " Freïlina. The Emperor has now made up his mind to remove all these evil-sounding names from the hierarchical lists and replace them by words drawn from the national idiom.
This linguistic task has been entrusted to Prince Michael Serguevitch Putiatin, Marshal of the Court and head of the administrative services of the Tsarskoïe-Selo palaces. It is an excellent choice. Prince Putiatin is not only an expert in history, archæology and the science of heraldry, but also belongs to one of the oldest families in Russia. In his veins he has nothing but Russian blood, dating back to the tenth century, for he is a descendant of the line of Rurik, through his ancestor Ivan Seinenovitch, voïvode of Lithuania in 1430, who was himself descended from St. Vladimir, through Michael Romanovitch, Prince of Drutzk in the thirteenth century.
1. The Council of Empire is composed of one hundred and ninety-two members, one-half of whom are appointed directly by the Emperor and the other elected by the clergy, the provincial assemblies, the nobility, the great landowners, the chambers of commerce and the universities.
Volume III, Chapter Five
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